“The Doctors” is not a show to shy away from the tough topics. On tomorrow’s episode, Doctors Travis Stork and Nita Landry travel to Ohio, which has seen some of the highest rates of opioid abuse and opioid-related deaths in the country to see how the epidemic is affecting the lives of its residents. CBS Local spoke to Doctors Travis and Nina about what they discovered upon their visit and what we can expect from the “United States of Addiction” series.
Can you tell us a little bit about the “United States of Addiction” series?
Dr. Travis: The whole idea of this series was, we were noticing how big the problem has become, with 65,000 people dying last year. That’s more than the Vietnam War in total. We realized the magnitude of the problem. Then we started to realize that the realize people were dying was things like black-market fentanyl and carfentanil, which are 50 to 100 times stronger than heroin, was working its way into the local drug supplies. So we realized if we did not highlight where addiction starts, and where it potentially ends — which is with death — then we weren’t doing our due diligence as a show. It’s going to be part of our entire season, particularly Thursday’s show. We’re really proud of it, and proud of Dr. Nita too, for going to Ohio, where it’s kind of ground zero.
Dr. Nita: Yeah, we definitely wanted to get some boots on the ground there. In this series, we take you on a journey. We go to Ohio and we talk to the sheriff, we talk to people at the morgue. We literally walk down the street and knock on doors to ask people how this opioid crisis has impacted them. We have some really powerful stories and it’s all about education, it’s about awareness, it’s about enlightenment. It’s about stopping this opioid crisis in its tracks and stopping this opioid crisis from going to other communities.
What was the most surprising thing you discovered in Ohio?
Dr. Nita: For me, it was definitely the magnitude of the problem. We read the statistics and we understood the numbers. But when you walk into the morgue, you literally see the bodies stacked from floor to ceiling. When you know that they’ve run out of space in the morgue and they have to use refrigerated trailers, or they have to rent places at funeral homes. It really, really, really puts things in perspective for you and makes you want to get out and do something so that we can stop this opioid crisis.
Is there any good news or progress that you can share with us in terms of how this epidemic is being handled?
Dr. Travis: Look, when you have a problem this large, you only solve it when the country comes together. It’s United States of Addiction. But one of the blessings is you’re starting to hear both the president and Congress talking about, “OK, we need to assign an emergency action here because the crisis has become so big.” In reality, it’s probably happening now because this is a crisis that hits everyone across socioeconomic lines and I think the government is now realizing that we have to figure out solutions as a country. I just want to applaud local law enforcement and the communities that Dr. Nita visited. I can’t remember what percentage of their calls were people dealing with opioid overdoses, but they essentially became an EMS unit taking care of this and did it with such compassion. We need more resources. We need more money as a country to beat this epidemic.
Dr. Nita: Absolutely, and I think what’s nice in that community is that if you call the sheriff, they will literally drive you to a facility for treatment. It’s important that we realize that when drugs reach any community, rehabilitation is a key component when you want to turn things around. They are implementing that, they’re big on rehabilitation, and that’s making a big difference in their community.
What else do we have to look forward to this fall on “The Doctors”?
Dr. Travis: Well, first of all, Dr. Nita —
Dr. Nita: Aw, thank you.
Dr. Travis: — which is a blessing for all of us. I think you’re also, by being on the show, I think you’ve seen what a common theme of “The Doctors” is. We’re going to not shy away from the tough topics. We’re going to continue to share important stories as well as lighthearted topics. That’s what I love about our show. I talk about a day in the ER. You can see some really sad stories, but then you’ll see some of the best things you’ll ever see in your life. That’s why we call our show the one where you laugh, you cry, and you learn in one episode. And that’s really the theme this fall.
Dr. Nita: Yeah, definitely some fun moments.
The next episode of “The Doctors” airs Thursday, Oct. 26. Check your local listings for more information.