NEW YORK – The American Pain Association (APA) launched their national “Turn the Tide Summit” tour on Wednesday, Dec. 13, at Rowan University Medical School in Camden, NJ, to address the challenges and strategies surrounding the nation’s opioid epidemic.
The association’s goal is to go state-to-state and raise awareness as well as open up dialogue about opioid epidemic and introduce ways to combat it.
The tour will also provide a platform for lawmakers, athletes, music and film artists and others to come together to spread the message, it said in a press release.
“We need more dialogue and discussion on this epidemic. NRI kids are especially prone to smoking, drinking and drugs given the immense parental and competitive pressure. In India also this trend is increasing, but not many are talking about it and it remains a hidden epidemic in India,” said Dr. Sanjay Gupta, President of the American Pain Association and the originator and orchestrator of the Turn the Tide tour, in a statement.
“With 65% of its population under 35 years of age, India is a young country and it is a really big danger, as it can spread devastatingly and we should stop it before it is too late. It is sad the country of Swami Vivekanand and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who are the pinnacles and examples of strong character and strength, is falling prey to the drugs,” he added, saying that, “India should be the leader and example to the world in not succumbing to drugs but unfortunately we are blindly following the west, which itself is badly destroyed by this. India should be teaching the west how to be live without drugs, drinking and smoking, rather than learning from west to drink or do drugs.”
Also present at the launch were New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, Dr. Kavita Gupta, Lindy Snider, Dr. Vanila M Singh, athletes Marvin Washington, Riley Cote and Todd Herremans and Bollywood singer Ali Quali Mirza.
“In the age of social media, Music and Film content from Hollywood and Bollywood is uncensored and spreads virally sending wrong message worldwide. We need a conscious and active participation from Hollywood and Bollywood industry in this,” said Dr. Kavita Gupta.
“It has taken lives of many Hollywood Celebrities including Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, Heath Ledger and the list goes on. We need to start discussing and talking about this topic that has huge stigma attached to it. Keeping quiet and under the rug will only make the situation worst,” she added, saying that a social media public campaign with hashtag #turnthetide will help raise awareness of opioid use.
Bollywood singer and rapper Ali Quali Mirza agreed with Dr. Gupta.
“Although peer pressure on artists is huge, I don’t drink or smoke. I agree with Dr. Gupta that Hollywood and Bollywood can help a lot in spreading the message that one can be happy without smoking, drinking and drugs,” he said.
“We need to engage kids in music and arts and teach them ways to be happy without drugs or drinking and smoking. I consider today a historic launch of a new era and hopefully slowly this worldwide deadly tide will turn. I am so glad to join all the athletes and music and film professionals in this great effort,” he added.
“This deadly epidemic has taken the whole US as a storm killing the youth, kids of all races and ages. With more than 500,000 American deaths, this has become a #1 national crisis and President Trump this month declared a National emergency on this issue. The severity of this epidemic can be estimated by the fact that just last year the number of American deaths with this epidemic was more than the American deaths in the entire VietnamWar but somehow and unfortunately, all efforts over last years to curb this deadly epidemic have failed,” stated Dr. Sanjay Gupta.
“We not only need to declare an emergency but need to raise a war against this epidemic in U.S. and worldwide as this is killing more people than any war or terrorist attack. We need to have an ‘inter-agency central command center’ at the International, National and state level to coordinate efforts against this epidemic,” he added.
“Because of this epidemic a 9/11 disaster is happening every two weeks and we are committed to putting a stop to this. Government won’t be able to do it alone without the help of public and private partnership. He gave the example of AIDS, where people came marching in streets to gather support for a topic with huge stigma,” said Governor Christie.
Marvin Washington of the NY Jets, Todd Herremans of the Philadelphia Eagles and Indianapolis Colts as well as Riley Cote of the Philadelphia Flyers shared some of their personal experiences with opioids.
“We are a generation in crisis. This is a bipartisan issue, affecting all walks of life, indiscriminate of religion, race or gender,” said Washington.
“This is an opportunity for policy makers, medical professionals, athletes and patients alike to approach these issues together,” said Cote.
“Professional sports teach you what it means to be a team. If we truly want to save lives and end the opioid epidemic, it’s time for our nation to come together as a team; leaving no stone unturned until a viable solution has been found,” said Herremans.
Dr. Sanjay Gupta said that they want to take the tour to India one day and may host a world summit on this important issue which is destroying the world.