Category Archives: drugs & tobacco abuse

Addictions Are Killing Us & Government Is Profiting From Them

This blogsite is all about organ donation/transplantation issues.  Substance abuse (tobacco, alcohol, drugs) kills more organs than any other cause.  That’s why we continue to bring it to your attention.  We hope you will talk about it with your elected officials. (The author, Bob Aronson, is a former smoker (1991) and a recovering alcoholic (1982).  He also received a heart transplant in August of 2007. 

I have long said that the best way to eliminate the organ shortage crisis is to reduce the demand for transplantable organs.  The only way we can do that is to live healthier lives.  But living healthier means sacrifice and for some the sacrifice is just too big, especially if you are an addict.

“Addiction Medicine: Closing the Gap Between Science and Practice.” Is a new report from The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University.  Just released it offers a harsh look devastating national problem.  The largest preventable public health problem in the United States is substance abuse and addiction.  They are the leading causes of preventable death and the numbers prove it.

In 2009 about 2,5 million Americans died —  nearly 600,000 of them were attributable to alcohol, tobacco or other drugs.  600.000 of them.  Let me put that into perspective.  When the Luxury liner Titanic sank in 1912 1500 people died.  It would take 400 Titanic sinkings every year to total the 600,000 killed by alcohol, tobacco and drugs.  That is one more than Titanic sinking every day of the year.  Can you imagine the outrage if ships were headed to Davey Jones Locker that frequently.  But there is no outrage over the numbers killed by drugs, none.  Politicians don’t even talk about it, the issue is not one that comes up in political campaigns and is certainly never a topic of political debate.

As taxpayers we are concerned about how our money is spent and you will often see politicians make a huge issue out of a million dollar cost overrun but can you name one that has made an issue of the $468 billion dollar yearly cost of addiction and substance abuse?

Worse yet, the recent report from the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University (CASA Columbia) indicates that  only one in 10 people with addiction to alcohol and/or drugs report receiving any treatment of any kind, ever.  None, zippo, nada, niente, nothing. . Can you imagine the outrage if the neglect included  heart or lung disease, cancer(s), asthma, diabetes, tuberculosis, or stroke and other diseases of the brain?

The Columbia University report is one of the most comprehensive ever and it clearly indicates that Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of death and disability in this country…number one.  Ahh…but wait there’s more.

  • 40 % of traffic fatalities involved someone under the influence
  • Prescription drug overdose deaths are up 500 percent since 1990
  • Increased risk of heart and lung diseases
  • Cancer and sexually transmitted diseases are up
  • There’s more parental substance abuse which affects children performing poorly in school and developing behavioral problems.
  • There’s more domestic violence, child abuse, unplanned pregnancies and financial problems.

The Columbia report also points out that there are 80 million people in the U.S. that are 12 and older that are abusing substances but not yet addicted.  It says these people represent a huge opportunity to intervene before disaster strikes but there is no program for intervention so it is likely these people will just be added to the growing list of casualties.

Apparently one of the big reasons for the lack of action in the U.S. is that about a third of us believe that addiction is simply a lack of willpower and self-discipline and that people should be able to control their habits..  While the medical community long ago accepted addiction as a disease many in the public do not and that accounts for some of the lack of action.

Another reason for the lack of action is money.  Local, state and federal governments collect a lot of tax money from the sale of alcohol and tobacco.  In 2009 the Feds collected about $7 billion dollars in cigarette excise taxes.  Billions more are collected by local and state governments and while some of the money goes to smoking cessation programs it is nowhere near enough.

So here’s the dilemma.  If government makes a serious effort to get people to quit smoking or to get into treatment for other addictions these people will quit buying the products that generate tax revenue and that means they will have to raise taxes elsewhere or cut spending.  They are not inclined to do either.  All politicians like to talk about lower taxes but the taxes they will not reduce or eliminate are the ones they collect on products that are killing us.

We must get a handle on this problem because it will ruin us far more quickly than any other threat facing us.  This report is well worth reading and when you are done  take an additional step.  Get in touch with every politician you know and turn up the heat to do something about this national disgrace.

Bob Aronson of Bob’s Newheart is a 2007 heart transplant recipient, the founder of Facebook’s 1800 member Organ Transplant Initiative and the author of most of these donation/transplantation blogs.

You may comment in the space provided or email your thoughts to me at And – please spread the word about the immediate need for more organ donors. There is nothing you can do that is of greater importance. If you convince one person to be an organ and tissue donor you may save or positively affect over 60 lives. Some of those lives may be people you know and love.

Please view our video “Thank You From the Bottom of my Donor’s heart” on This video was produced to promote organ donation so it is free and no permission is needed for its use.

If you want to spread the word personally about organ donation, we have another PowerPoint slide show for your use free and without permission. Just go to and click on “Life Pass It On” on the left side of the screen and then just follow the directions. This is NOT a stand-alone show, it needs a presenter but is professionally produced and factually sound. If you decide to use the show I will send you a free copy of my e-book, “How to Get a Standing “O” that will help you with presentation skills. Just write to and usually you will get a copy the same day.

Also…there is more information on this blog site about other donation/transplantation issues. Additionally we would love to have you join our Facebook group, Organ Transplant Initiative The more members we get the greater our clout with decision makers.

Too Few Organ Donors — Inadvertent Terrorism

Each day 19 people die because there are not enough transplantable human organs to fill the need.  The United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) which coordinates all transplants in America maintains a list of people who need life-saving transplants.  As of today, January 2, 2012 the numbers are:

Waiting list candidates                                 112,702

Transplants January – Sept. 2011              21,354

Donors January – Sept. 2011                       10,558

Right now, as you read this a patient, maybe a child, is near death.  She needs a heart but there won’t be one. As the electronic monitors beep and chirp, the family is devastated, inconsolable in the frustration over the lack of organ donors and the imminent death of their loved one.  The best medical care in the world is at their fingertips but they are helpless without an organ donor.  The patients vital signs are dropping more rapidly now, the Doctors aren’t holding out much hope.

Right now as you read this, another patient not too far away has already been declared brain dead as the result of an auto accident.  He is surrounded by a grieving family.  It is not known if the patient is or wanted to be an organ donor.  The family is considering a request to donate his organs but the decision must be made soon and they don’t know what to do, their loved one never told them of his wishes.  Through tears and indescribable grief they discuss, they argue and then decline.  Both patients die.

Each year Americans bury or cremate more than 20,000 transplantable organs – 20.000.  Surveys continually indicate that over 90 percent of Americans approve of organ donation but in one of the greatest mysteries ever, only 46 percent actually make the commitment to do so.  This inaction, this procrastination is causing people to die, families to grieve and patients who are awaiting transplants to live their lives in absolute terror.  People who are not organ donors are not evil, they are not bad, they just don’t understand that their lack of action causes terror among patients as great as that caused by the real terrorists of the world.

Most people who aren’t donors, “Just haven’t gotten around to it.”  After all, there’s no rush for them.  Organs are recovered after a person dies and most potential donors are in pretty good health.  The problem is that the patients who need the organs are not in good health.  Everyone who is on that UNOS list mentioned earlier, is dying.  Without a transplant they will die.  Period. End of story.

Well, let’s make the donation process really simple, so simple you can do it from home, your office, on your I-pad or Kindle in your doctor’s waiting room anywhere.  You don’t even have to get up.  Just go to and follow the instructions then tell your family what you have done.  It only takes minutes.  Then make very sure they clearly understand that you want to be an organ donor.  “That means when I die I want the medical people to take as much of my tissue and as many of my organs as they need to help save or enhance the lives of others.”  Those are my distinct wishes please respect them should the time come.

That’s the first step to saving lives by helping to increase the number of donors.  The second step, just in case you like this cause and want to do more, is to spread the word to convince others to do the same.  “So,” you say, “How do I do that, how do I spread the word?”  Here are ten easy tips, I’m sure that if you think real hard you might be able to come up with ten more.

  1. 150 words is about a minute’s speaking time.  Write out about 150 words on why organ donation is important to the donor…the donor and then post it everywhere you can think of on the internet.
  2. Call your local Organ Procurement Organization (OPO) and volunteer to speak on behalf of donation.
  3. Buy the green “Donate life” wristband at and wear it every day.  If someone admires it give it to them and ask them to wear it.  What’s a few bucks to save  some lives?
  4. Ask your pastor to give a sermon on organ donation…offer to help gather the information for him/her.
  5. Write a letter to the editor…actually send it to every editor you can think of.
  6. When some radio talk show host least expects it…call about the importance of organ donation
  7. Offer to speak to a local service club about donation/transplantation issues (Kiwanis, Rotary, Lions etc).
  8. Add a short note about organ donation to the signature of every email you send “Did you know that one organ/tissue donor can save or positively affect up to 60 lives?”
  9. Talk to a public school class about donation/transplantation
  10. Start a blog…it’s really easy.  Just Google “free blog sites” and go for it.

You may comment in the space provided or email your thoughts to me at And – please spread the word about the immediate need for more organ donors. There is nothing you can do that is of greater importance. If you convince one person to be an organ and tissue donor you may save or  positively affect over 60 lives. Some of those lives may be people you know and love.  Please view our video “Thank You From the Bottom of my Donor’s heart.” Just go to and click on the title.  This video was produced to py romote organ donation so it is free and no permission is needed for it’s use.  You’ll also find other useful information on this web site about other donation/transplantation issues.

We would love to have you join our Facebook group, Organ Transplant Initiative (OTI) The more members we get the greater our clout with decision makers and the more clout we have the more likely it  is that we’ll be able to increase not only organ donation but the many alternatives that science and technology people are working on.

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