American Addiction Centers

Addiction Talk Episode 21: Public Health Crisis: The Overdose Epidemic

Provisional data indicates that there were approximately 107,000 drug overdose deaths last year, a 15% increase from the previous year and the highest number on record. Though overdose deaths from other substances, such as methamphetamine and cocaine also saw significant increases, fentanyl has been the primary driver of overdose deaths: last year, it was responsible for more than 88% of all opioid overdose deaths and more than 66% of total overdose deaths. On this special International Overdose Awareness Day edition of "Addiction Talk," we'll hear from panelists who have had varying experiences with overdoses, and Dr. Mark Calarco will provide instruction on the use of the opioid overdose antidote, naloxone.

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Dr. Mark Calarco is the national medical director for clinical diagnostics. In this position, he works closely with Addiction Labs to conduct medical and laboratory research as well as develop innovative products and services that will improve patient outcomes. Calarco brings more than 25 years of experience to the role, including a background in family and emergency medicine.





Jake Arther is an AAC Outreach Coordinator based in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Prior to joining AAC, Jake endured his own battle with addiction. After a car accident, he became addicted to opioids. At one point during his active addiction, Jake fabricated symptoms of gallbladder issues and subsequently had the organ removed so he could obtain pain medication. Now, more than eight years in recovery, he works in his hometown guiding those with the disease of addiction to treatment and raising awareness in OKC about the need for access to these services.




Philip Van Guilder, also known as the “Narcan Man,” is the director of community affairs at Greenhouse Treatment Center in Grand Prairie, TX. For years, Philip has been an advocate for the widespread use of naloxone due to the prevalence of opioid overdoses throughout the country, and his cause became personal when he had to revive his own son from an overdose due to fentanyl. Now, with that experience, as well as someone approaching 20 years in recovery, Philip has devoted himself to the cause of addiction education and overdose prevention.




Cammie Wolf Rice is an activist, speaker and author of the upcoming book, “The Flight: My Opioid Journey,” which details the loss of her 32-year-old son Christopher to an opioid overdose. As a result of losing her child, she created the nonprofit CWC, the Christopher Wolf Crusade, that provides preventative solutions and education about the opioid epidemic. The goal of the organization is to raise awareness about the potential dangers of prescription pain medication and alternative methods of pain management.



Carla Sloke is a client support specialist at American Addiction Centers and an overdose survivor. Now nearing six years in recovery, Carla shares her story of addiction and recovery to give hope to others and help them realize that there is a way out of the darkest places. As a survivor, she feels it is her purpose to help others that are struggling and show them that there is life waiting for them on the other side of despair.



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