Actress and recovering addict Mackenzie Phillips opens up about her public battle with drug addiction. Hear her new perspective on life after overcoming her drug dependence. Plus, learn alarming stats on the surge of heroin use in the U.S. And, The Doctors convinces a young heroin user to enter rehab — but can he stay clean? Then, a husband and wife undergo bariatric surgery and lose 285 pounds, with an added bonus: It helped them defeat their diabetes! And, a shocking new use for umbilical cord blood has sparked a heated debate — which side are you on?
The Cord Blood Debate
A controversial new law in Mississippi mandates that medical professionals collect umbilical cord blood from teens who give birth prior to age 16 and refuse to name the father. State legislators aim to analyze the cord blood for DNA, as a means to prosecute men for statutory rape.
The law is also intended to reduce Mississippi's high teen pregnancy rate, but critics of the policy say it invades the medical privacy of the mother, father and baby. Additionally, opponents predict that teen mothers may intentionally avoid prenatal care or choose to not deliver their baby in a hospital for fear of revealing the father's identity.
• Learn more about the law and the opposing viewpoints .
Surgery to Cure Type 2 Diabetes?
Diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in the U.S. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that, of the nearly 26 million Americans with diabetes, 95 percent have Type 2, which is preventable. Unhealthy diets and excess weight are the prime factors contributing to America’s high diabetes rate.
Bariatric surgery, also known as gastric bypass, has proven to be an effective weight loss procedure, particularly for people who struggle to lose weight through diet and exercise alone. Doctors at the Cleveland Clinic, however, have discovered that bariatric surgery can also help treat diabetes and, in some cases, eliminate it completely.
• Learn how bariatric surgery may benefit certain people with diabetes and pre-diabetes.
The New Heroin Epidemic
From prescription drugs to illegal narcotics, the DEA reports an alarming surge in drug use and abuse among Americans over recent years. In particular, usage of the highly addictive opiate, heroin, has spiked to an epidemic level.
Actress, recovering addict and author of High on Arrival Mackenzie Phillips joins The Doctors to discuss her public battle with drug addiction and her new perspective on life after overcoming drug dependence.
“A lot of people don’t get it — they just don’t get recovery, abstinence, sobriety. And the truth is that a large share of addicts die,” Mackenzie says. “Overuse and abuse of drugs and alcohol is, generally, [about] treating an underlying symptom. Whatever it is, the person is self-medicating to cover up pain, not just to get high.”
• Learn how heroin affects the body and the mind .
The increase in America’s heroin use prompted E.R. physician Dr. Travis Stork to visit Baltimore, Maryland — a city that’s often labeled as, “the heroin capital of the U.S.”
“We just saw, in the last year, a rise of about 60 percent in the number of deaths from heroin, overall, city-wide,” explains E.R. physician Dr. Richard Logue at Sinai Hospital of Baltimore. “The real danger with heroin, especially in the purity that we see it now, is that one-time use can lead to death.”
Sean Tolson, an E.M.T. in Baltimore, informs Dr. Travis that their emergency department receives up to 25 or more 911 calls for heroin overdoses on an average day. “With heroin, you don’t know what you’re getting,” he says. “When you buy that bag, you don’t know what it’s cut with; you don’t know how pure it is; you don’t know if it actually is heroin, so when people use it, they have no way of determining what exactly they’re putting in their body.”
In suburban Baltimore, Dr. Travis meets a 21-year-old heroin user named John, who has been battling heroin addiction since he was 17. At age 16, John began abusing prescription pills, until the habit became too expensive, which led him to experiment with heroin, as a cheaper alternative with a stronger effect.
“Unfortunately, once you open that door, once you get a taste of that, there’s no going back,” John says. “In the sick mind of an addict, it makes perfect sense. And yet, you still somehow rationalize and justify in your head going to do it ‘one more time,’ but it’s never ‘one more time.’”
Registered nurse, former addict and author of The Interventionist Joani Gammill explains that it takes the average addict around six to seven attempts to attain long-term sobriety. “When you go to rehab and relapse afterward, I don’t look at it like a failure. I don’t even like the word ‘relapse’ anymore because it has too much failure around it, and I think it makes the patient feel more shame,” Joani says. “If we just look at [addiction] as a chronic illness like any other, and it’s flaring up, and we need to have more treatment, I think we would have more success.”