David Bowie’s struggle through opiate addiction became public scandal. He was very open about his recovery from addiction and was often cited expressing regret about using heroin. David Bowie’s addiction with cocaine and alcohol is a clear example of a dual diagnosis ,whereby the patient is addicted to more than one substance, or a substance abuse along with a psychological disorder. Co-occurring disorders are often harder to treat and traditional rehab techniques are often not enough as they do not address the underlying psychological disorders, such as depression bi polar or anxiety.

In the case of David Bowie, he left New York city to seek treatment and detox in Switzerland and spent time addressing his fears in an inpatient rehabilitation centre. Later he moved to poland to start making music again post detox recovery, and continued to release a string of successful albums without the use of drugs or alcohol — showing the world that his talents were not merely fuelled by substances. Of course, recovery did not come easily but with expert help, a change of scenery and dealing with the mental health issues alongside the addictions, recovery sparked a new era for Bowie.

 

After overcoming his heroin and percocet addictions, Bowie came to terms with the depression that he had been hiding from for 50 years. He continued to make music, underwent counselling sessions and went on to make a full recovery until his death, even gaining custody of his son.

David Bowie’s public battle with opioid detox has become worldwide news. With his death at 69, his previous addictions show that through admitting a problem with substance abuse, people with addictions can go on to make full recoveries and live healthy, successful lives. One essential key to Bowie’s recovery from a medical disorders was admitting himself to an inpatient oxycodone detox and rehab clinic and addressing the underlying mental issues beyond the addictions.

Providers show over 70% of non-medical users of oxycodone get them from their medicine cabinet. 77% obtained them for free from a friend, 13% bought them from a friend or relative and 6% got them from a friend or relative without asking. 33% obtained them from their physician legitimately and began using the “leftovers” after their acute pain subsided. So, you may be wondering, to paraphrase David Bowie, “how did [we] get here?”. It is a result of a perfect storm (part one) that’s been gathering momentum over the past several years. Here’s a showtime view: We have drug companies like phizer, that developed highly powerful opioids including oxycodone, hid the addictive qualities of their products (Circa 1995) and perfected highly effective advertising and promotional campaigns that maximized the prescribing of their products (circa 1960’s).6 Physicians graduate medical school usually with a common goal to treat chronic pain and do no harm. They also graduate with minimal training in pain. According to one study, physicians in North America send patients to oxycodone detox centers , with on average, less than 10 hours of education about pain.2 This includes all coverage of pain neurobiology, pain pharmacology and major pain-associated conditions such as back pain, headache and visceral pain. Even more striking is that one study reported that Canadian veterinary schools deliver over 80 hours of content about pain. 2 Then we have accrediting organizations for medical detox institutions who took cues from drug companies that pain was under-treated and they demanded hospitals recognize pain as the “fifth vital sign”. This forced institutions to look at “pain” as an independent problem, which needed independent solutions. Drug companies came up with a scale to measure pain, the numeric rating scale which measures pain on a scale from 1 to 10. Are you following closely? Drug companies worked to create a need: “Undertreated pain”, worked with hospital accrediting organizations to recognize under treated pain as a national health crisis and demanded a call to “Recognize pain as the fifth vital sign”. They created a way to track physicians ability to treat pain: “numeric rating scales” and they came up with a solution: perfectly advertised, highly potent (and advertised as non-addictive) opioids.