Dr. Arun Gupta, others hosting 'Serious Opioid Solutions' fundraiser Oct. 8 in Monroe – Monroe Evening News

Dr. Arun Gupta, others hosting 'Serious Opioid Solutions' fundraiser Oct. 8 in Monroe – Monroe Evening News

Dr. Arun Gupta, Alice Rice, Donna (Bruck) Hwang and other local community members are hosting the “Serious Opioid Solutions” (SOS) Fundraiser Oct. 8 at the River Raisin Banquet Center, 8 N. Monroe St.
Doors will open at 5 p.m., and the event is expected to run until midnight. Tickets, which include food, are $20 each and are available through the SOS Facebook page and at https://fb.me/e/2eRkt0DgJ.
The fundraising event will highlight the local and national opioid problem and Dr. Gupta’s recommendations for solving it.
Food will be served. Two local acoustic bands, Easton Cox and J.A. Morell, will provide music. Local rock band Abby Normal also will entertain. Raffles, cash bar, silent auctions and information will be offered.
Dr. Gupta and others will speak. During an open forum, some area residents affected by addiction will tell their stories. Dr. Gupta said stigma about treatment and addiction often silences the discussion, but that dialogue is just what addicted people need to hear.
“Some can’t say they are better because people don’t know (about their addiction). Their grandmother doesn’t know, their employer doesn’t know, so others (who are addicted) don’t see these success stories. They don’t have any reason to get help,” Dr. Gupta said.
Dr. Gupta has been a certified addiction provider for the last 15 years and offers Monroe’s only physician-based treatment center. He’s been a family practice physician for more than 30 years. After years of research and work with patients, he released his first book, “The Preventable Epidemic: A Frontline Doctor’s Experience and Recommendations to Resolve America’s Opioid Crisis,” on Feb. 14.
In the 277-page book, Dr. Gupta explains that opioid deaths can be reduced, and that regulations for physicians, which have steepened over the last 20 years, are hindering addiction recovery in the U.S.
“People are not getting prescriptions (for addiction recovery) and are forced to go to the street,” Dr. Gupta told The News in February.
Since his book was released, Dr. Gupta said he’s taken on new patients seeking recovery, and deaths nationwide continue to mount. More than 1 million in the U.S. have died from overdoses since the opioid epidemic began. The CDC says 41 million people are currently addicted, and just 2.4 million are in treatment.
“The rest have no access to care. Only one percent are active in addiction medication,” Dr. Gupta said. “I have an 85 percent success rate. My patients don’t die. They go to church, go to work, do better and better. We need to fix the entire system. Let doctors be doctors. It’s a medical issue, and the solution is not from policy makers. If all 41 million (addicted people) had a prescription through a doctor, there would be no street need for fentanyl. 39 million are at risk with no treatment and no prescription.”
Rice, who is on the SOS board with Dr. Gupta, concurs that opioid addiction is a huge problem. Rice is a Social Security disability advocate with an office in downtown Monroe. She learned about Dr. Gupta when her son, Cody, had an opioid addiction. Dr. Gupta helped him get off drugs, and the treatment caused no side effects, Rice said.
“I worried that he might die. He’s been clean for over a year,” Rice said.
Through her work with older adults, Rice also sees many local people who are raising their grandchildren because the children’s parents are addicted or have died from overdoses.
“It’s been a problem in our community for a long time. It’s a problem all over the country, but this town was especially hard hit. One week, eight people died of overdoses in Monroe. The numbers are higher than most people realize. It’s touching so many families, but no one’s talking about it because of the stigma. It’s heartbreaking,” Rice said.
Access to care, she agrees, is a big problem. Before finding Dr. Gupta, Rice’s son was referred to several places, was put into programs that didn’t fit his needs and faced obstacles with insurance.
“There are hoops that you have to jump through. It’s so difficult to get treatment. It’s a huge problem to get them treated,” Rice said.
Since his book was released, Dr. Gupta has been working to get federal policies changed. He’s been speaking, traveling and spending his own money to spread his message. He’s hoping the fundraiser and sales of his book will help defray his costs and allow him to continue and expand his mission. A second fundraiser may be held in the spring.
“I can’t keep doing this out-of-pocket forever. I need support from the community,” Dr. Gupta said.
There is still much to do. For three months, he worked to reach policy makers, asking for changes in laws.
“It was ineffective. I was trying to reach national-level people. I need to have more people on my side. Not many are willing to listen and hear what I’m saying. We need a national campaign to let people know that things need to be done differently,” Dr. Gupta said.
The government, he said, is spending $1.4 trillion on programs like drug take-backs, clean needle distribution, drug coalition and treatment programs that are not getting people out of the cycle of addiction.
“The desired effect is not there. The patients all need treatment. The government is not doing anything to provide access to care,” Dr. Gupta said.
He sent his book to 40 policymakers in Washington, including the surgeon general. He said none responded.
Dr. Gupta also is taking his cause to social media and the Rotary International.
“I’m doing a lot of podcasts and interviews, all for free, he said.
A member of the local Rotary Club, he’s urging Rotary International to support his cause, just as it did the polio epidemic.
“I’m speaking to many Rotary Clubs, four to five clubs a week, to spread the message. I’m meeting with Rotary International in Evanston, Ill. I’ve been pushing them for the last three years,” Dr. Gupta said.
SOS fundraiser co-organizer Hwang is a member of the Monroe Rotary with Dr. Gupta.
“He has been educating us for quite some time,” she said. “I am happy to help Dr. Gupta and our community that is so burdened by these opioid addictions.”
Dr. Gupta and SOS also hope to use funds to support Monroe’s patients with addictions and those they leave behind.
Rice said she joined Dr. Gupta’s cause to reduce obstacles for addicted people who chose recovery.
“It starts in Monroe. We want to have roundtables with facilities like ProMedica, Community Mental Health, St. Joseph. We need to come together and streamline a plan so these people can get help, not just referrals. They’re ending up dead rather than getting the help they need, or they go back to using. We want to meet with Gabby’s Grief Center and (work with) people who have lost family members to overdose. These parents blame themselves,” she said.
“Gabby’s Ladders, Oaks, Catholic Charities and other organizations. We assess what their needs are,” Dr. Gupta added. “They might do drug tests, counseling, treatment. Whatever they need, depending on what money we have, (we can assist). We all need to unite and come up with combined efforts. Families are behind us. They want to see an end. We’ve lost a million. How many more millions do we have to lose? We have to do something about it.”
On the Net: https://thepreventableepidemicbook.com/


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