Ben Carson: Short-Term Opioid Abuse Requires ‘Long-Term’ Brain Recovery

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Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson, a retired neurosurgeon, joined Tuesday’s edition of SiriusXM’s Breitbart News Daily to discuss opioid addiction and abuse with host Alex Marlow.

Carson said, “[We are] recognizing that the opioid problem is pervasive throughout our society, and certainly we have a big problem with a lot of the people in assisted housing. We’re going to be talking about resources that we’ve dedicated to fighting the drug epidemic. When we look at homelessness, we look at our continual care programs, we’re talking about over $2 billion, a quarter of which is directed towards people with substance abuse.”

Carson described the addictive nature of opioids. “One of the things that people don’t realize is it’s very, very easy to get hooked on these drugs,” he said. “They’ve been overused, particularly  for pain. They’re not all that effective for pain, to be honest with you. If you take somebody who’s having a lot of pain, you give him an opioid, and then you say, ‘How’s your pain?’ They’ll say, ‘It’s still there, but I don’t care.’ That’s what it does. It makes you not care about it. It doesn’t necessarily get rid of the pain.”

“It gets rid of emotional pain, too, ” added Carson. “A lot of people have that. They’re discouraged. They have all kinds of problems going on, and to be able to escape that feeling for just a few hours, it becomes irresistible, and once they experience it, it’s all they think about. That’s why you have this epidemic going on. Now, you couple that with the fact that we’re not doing an adequate job of keeping these drugs out, not only at the border but things that are coming through the mail from China and places like that, and it becomes overwhelming.”

Opioid abuse diminishes America’s productivity, stated Carson. “The price has gone down to the point where a lot of people can afford it who could not afford it before,” he remarked. “So it’s a vast, vast problem. It impacts the potential of our society, and that costs us an enormous amount of productivity dollars that are lost. We need to be thinking about that.”

Carson explained, “It doesn’t take very long for changes to occur in your brain once you start using. it can occur within a matter of a couple of weeks, and to reorient your brain to actually achieve a cure generally takes somewhere between a year and a year-and-a-half. So a lot of the programs that bring addicted people in and treat them for a few weeks or a couple months and then send them out, they shouldn’t be surprised that they have this high recidivism rate, because they haven’t really cured the problem. You have to understand what’s going on with the brain and you have to treat it long-term in order to achieve success, but it is possible to achieve success in these programs.”

Carson said “prevention” will be a focus of the Trump administration’s strategy to counter opioid abuse.

“We’re putting a lot of emphasis on prevention because of how difficult it is once they’ve gotten involved with this,” said Carson. “It means educating people. It means looking at the gateway. It disturbs me that I see so many people trying to legalize marijuana, for instance. It’s a well-known gateway. But not only that, but as a pediatric neuroscience, I recognize that the human brain continues to develop until your late 20s, and it is well-documented that cannabis affects the developing brain and can affect your IQ. We have enough people low IQs. We don’t need to be generating more.”

“Idle hands make the devil’s work,” said Marlow, linking unemployment to opioid abuse. “When people run out of jobs, they run out of things to do with their time. When family is not emphasized, that gives people time to get hooked on some of this stuff.”

Carson highlighted how “entitlements” incentivize unemployment. “In 30 states, you can actually get more money from just getting entitlements than working a minimum wage job,” he commented. “It’s easy to understand why people would say, ‘I’m not going to work that job. I’ll just take these entitlements.’ What they don’t understand is, if you take that minimum wage job, you gain skills, you gain relationships and opportunities, and you can climb the ladder to self-sufficiency much faster.”

Breitbart News Daily broadcasts live on SiriusXM Patriot 125 weekdays from 6:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. Eastern.

Follow Robert Kraychik on Twitter @rkraychik.

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