There's an Opioid Epidemic in this Country and it Can Be Fixed

I think it's the most serious thing that we have to deal with in our culture.
- Joe Plumeri 

On the most recent episode of my podcast, Unplugged with Brandon Steiner, I spoke with former CEO and Chairman of Willis Group, Joe Plumeri. 

Joe has been a great friend of mine for many years and has established himself as a sensational businessman. With much success, it is in part thanks to him that Chicago's tallest building is now known as Willis Tower. Throughout his career Joe has worked for some of the most prestigious insurance brokerages, served as CEO for Citibank and is currently co-owner of the Trenton Thunder. With all of his success, Joe's most important challenge yet is his mission to end the opioid epidemic in this country.

175 people will die today due to substance addiction. Joe himself lost his own son ten years ago and his purpose now is to make sure that no parent has to endure the hardships that he did.

Kids in this country--and I'm talking about as early as high school age--are abusing prescription drugs and other substances. The problems have run rampant. It's time to turn all the "think tanks" into "do tanks" in order to solve those problems.


On the most recent episode of my podcast, in addition to discussing his business experience, Joe and I talk about the actionable steps that can be taken to curb the opioid epidemic.

In this episode we talk about...

  • The prevalence of opioid abuse amongst teenagers.
  • Ways we can help to breakthrough this issue.
  • The importance of teaching schools about addiction.
  • How he was able to change the name of the Sears tower to the Willis Tower.
  • How to meet CEO's.
  • Not letting your yesterdays be your best days.
  • ...and more.

Click below or go to iTunes, Google Play or Stitcher to listen



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  • I’m glad you brought this topic up Mr. Steiner. I’ve seen opioids destroy many lives and the government suddenly calling this an “Opioid Crisis” now is ludicrous- it’s BEEN AN EPIDEMIC for over ten years! Just as you stated regarding your friend’s son who I feel very badly for. Opioid about steals the souls of those addicted to it’s effects. Once addicted, the person that many love ceases to exist. All that’s left is the NEED to get more drugs!
    With that said with unwavering heartfelt sadness for those addicted to Opioids and the families and friends who are almost as negatively affected as well, there are those who do NEED these drugs to live.
    So please don’t demonize these drugs as many already have including the DEA & FDA sending threaten9oing letters regarding writting prescriptions for any Opioids and making these doctors afraid to write Opioid prescriptions for those who absolutely NEED them either short term or long.
    The solution is a very strict vetting system that doctors will have access to through the DEA and FDA where backgrounds checks must be done on anyone who wants Opioids and the doctor feels it is absolutely necessary then through this system the doctor will either get a YES or NO response from this system. The FDA and DEA have access to the NCIC a national database of arrests and convictions and if there is so much as one drug conviction, that patient will not be allowed to use Opioids.
    There should also be a DEA ID card for long-term Chronic Intractable Pain patients where no medications have much of an affect on any of their pain like myself due to Hyperthymusism. My Thymus gland is a hundred times larger than a normal sized one and destroys most medications the instant it hits my bloodstream. You should see the looks I’d get in hospitals when I’d refuse Morphine, Dilaudid, or Opana because none of those have any affect whatsoever on me! Two of my diseases are 1 : a Million diseases, so most doctors have no clue what I’m dealing with to start with.
    I have FOUR diseases, three severe neurological ones starting with General Myasthenia Gravis, Degenerative Disk Disease and Fibromyalgia that all cause severe-excruciating pain and nerve pain everywhere (mostly in both legs, my mid-lower back to my ankles, arm pain, numbness, tingling or my arms just go dead for up to 30-minutes at a time usually when I wake up the rare times I can sleep. I cannot hold my head up some days because of the four ruptured disks in my neck. I’m legally homebound and am mostly bedridden since 2009, yet I fight hobby fraud mostly on eBay whenever I’m able for free to continue to contribute to society which is important to me.
    I’ve been taking from 200mg – 300mg of Methadone a day (half in AM, half 12-hours later). This is the ONLY Opioid that just helps my pain just a little bit. I don’t get “high”, my head is never droopy from the Methadone (like drug addicts that take it get), my eyes are never glossy and my pupils never are dilated. You’d never know I was on any medication if you saw me in-person (I hear that every time I tell someone what I have to take). To be perfectly honest, it keeps me from killing myself from the excruciating pain I have almost daily.
    So when fighting those who abuse drugs, I’m with you 100%. I know all the signs of addiction, and I have reported every patient that started talking to me in my Pain Management doctor’s office who show all the signs of addiction to me, but hide from the doctor.

    I’m forced to visit my PM doctor every month which is a minimum 40-minute (very, very painful) drive each way in NYC Transit Disabled mini-buses (due to new DEA restrictions thanks to addicts). But please don’t forget that there are people who need these drugs to live and still suffer more than you could ever imagine.
    HRA (Medicaid and Adult Protective Services) are TOTALLY BROKEN in NY State for over two years now. I lost most of my benefits due to a APS ERROR, and have been fighting to get my benefits back for 27-months now and have gotten nowhere even though I fully qualify still for the benefits I lost???
    This needs to be addressed but it’s ignored because of the “Opioid Crisis”.

    James McCay on

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