‘All these people had to die because my profession didn’t understand it’: Dr. Drew on opioid crisis

On Fox Nation's latest episode of "Nuff Said," Dr. Drew Pinsky sat down with host Tyrus to discuss his role in combatting the opioid epidemic and blamed others in his field for contributing to the recent surge in opioid-related deaths. 

"When people would relapse, it would be because my peers put my patients back on opiates," said Pinsky.

"...All these people had to die because my profession didn't understand it."

— Dr Drew Pinsky, Fox Nation's "Nuff Said"

Discussing his career and his passion as an outspoken voice within the medical community, Pinsky blamed fellow doctors for their role in the epidemic that was officially declared a public health emergency in 2017 after 40% of the 42,000 reported opioid-related deaths in 2016 involved a prescription opioid, according to the Department of Health and Human Services.

"All of them were put back on opiates by my peers, because that's the answer," Pinsky said.  "It's the quick answer --and it's the death. It's how it kills people. But now people understand that...but all these people had to die because my profession didn't understand it," Pinsky said.

DR DREW SLAMS FELLOW DOCTORS FOR FUELLING OPIOID EPIDEMIC IN NEW DOC

Spending over 30 years as the host of the nationally syndicated radio and TV talk show "Loveline," which offered medical and relationship advice to listeners, Pinsky gained recognition among his peers for both a thriving medical practice and a TV presence, which he used to educate viewers on the dangers surrounding opioid addictions.

Dr Drew Pinsky

Dr Drew Pinsky (Greg Doherty/Getty Images)

After becoming a leading expert in addiction medicine, Pinsky later launched "Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew," which featured celebrities and others struggling with alcohol and drug addiction, as Pinsky led them down a path to recovery.

Perhaps the most difficult part of the rehab was kicking people out of treatment if they didn't abide by the rules, explained Pinsky. But it was their progress years later that motivated him to keep going, he said.

"I've had somewhere between six and 10 of those walk up to me years later... I do not recognize them because they look like a different person. Shake my hand... and say 'I'm getting my Ph.D. in psychology right now. I wasn't ready... but I heard you. What you did was an important piece of my recovery and got me going in the right direction,'" recounted Pinsky. "It just blows me away and it motivates me to keep going."

Although much of Pinsky's time is currently devoted to TV, frequently appearing on Fox News, he continues to practice medicine, he said, calling it a "piece of him."

"Since 2010, I've been focusing on television, and until then, I really was very uncomfortable even admitting that I was doing television or radio a little. It was uncomfortable to me. I was like, no, I'm a doctor. That's my DNA. That's who I am. And what I do, it's what I value," Pinsky explained.

Pinsky also said his TV presence has become his main platform to share medical knowledge with viewers due to the recent "evisceration" of primary care providers.

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"This is something I've never really thought out loud, but let me say it, this exclusive primary care medicine, which is primarily what I was doing, has been so thoroughly eviscerated," said Pinsky.

"I thought what I was doing was important... It's been completely undermined and eviscerated. Nobody gives a sh** about it. It's treated terribly. And it's eroded my ability to focus on it as a number one priority. People don't think it's important...I think it's important... You know, you could do what I do with a nurse practitioner or... or whatever. If I could do it, that's fine. I have 35 years of experience in psychiatry and medicine and critical care, a lot of knowledge. But medicine now just is so hard.  It's just it doesn't value what I value," Pinsky continued.

OPIOID DOCTORS WARNED 

"So it's made it easier for me to turn my attention to media and go, 'maybe I can do something here. Maybe I can. Let's just admit to myself, I'm doing this.' It's really when I put my focus. I still practice medicine a little bit -- I'm not going to not be a doctor," he explained.

To see the full episode and for more from Dr. Drew Pinsky including his tumultuous childhood, and challenges he faces as a medical student and throughout his career, join Fox Nation and watch the full episode of "Nuff Said" today.

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