“If this were some other illness that evoked the same type of compassion that other illnesses receive, we would be spending dramatically more money to combat these rising suicide and overdose rates,” Patrick Kennedy said.

Patrick Kennedy recently spoke to US News about the latest statistics on addiction and suicide and what he believes could be at the root of the problem.

Kennedy says recent news about the drop in US life expectancy due to suicide and drug overdose deaths was “extremely shocking, but frankly, not surprising.”

He added, “As a nation, we’re absolutely in denial about how bad this crisis is. If this were some other illness that evoked the same type of compassion that other illnesses receive, we would be spending dramatically more money to combat these rising suicide and overdose rates.”

Kennedy has been very vocal about the stigma surrounding addiction and mental health. In his book, A Common Struggle, he detailed his own experience of living with addiction and bipolar disorder. Kennedy believes stigma plays a massive role in preventing people with addiction and/or mental health issues from getting the treatment they need.

“The real tragedy is what it says about the people who suffer from these illnesses – they’re still shamed by their illness, they’re overwhelmingly stigmatized,” he tells US News. “They’re relegated to a system of care that is substandard at best.”

Addressing the increased rates of addiction and suicide, Kennedy said, “There is obviously great complexity to all of the causes and how they converge together to create the crisis that we’re in right now,” and he also felt “there’s a well-established narrative here that pharma had a huge responsibility for this, and there should be a huge national settlement in helping to create this crisis…”

Kennedy added, “I think that both insurance companies and Big Pharma made a lot of money in this process, and a lot of people died. And I think if we’re going to go after the pharmaceutical industry, then it would be absolutely inexplicable why we would not also go after the insurance industry with the same fervor for their part in letting this crisis unfold without doing what we needed to do to address it.”

Kennedy also took time to reflect on the 10-year anniversary of the Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act, which he called “a medical civil rights bill” where people are treated for mental health and addiction on the same “primary care level, secondary care level and tertiary care level as you would find when treating any other medical surgical illness.”

Yet Kennedy recently acknowledged that the act still has a long way to go, and he started a website in October called Don’t Deny Me, where people can report insurance companies that won’t cover their addiction and mental health issues.

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He told The Washington Post, “There are plenty of solutions to bring people the care they need, but what is missing is the political will and the economic and legal pressure to make it happen and that’s why we’re marking the anniversary.”

View the original article at thefix.com


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