THE BLOG
08/01/2009 05:12 am ET Updated Nov 17, 2011

Michael Jackson's Autopsy

We have one month to organize a national campaign and capitalize on a golden opportunity - Michael Jackson's autopsy. If, and only if, Mr. Jackson's autopsy confirms an association with abused substances with his untimely death, we need to honor him, not further demonize him, and spin this moment into a legacy for him of helping others. If, and only if, there is this connection, Mr. Jackson would want to raise awareness fo this problem only to help people by leaving behind the message that drugs kill people and there is a way to avoid this. Use his tragedy to try and understand the addict in your lives vulnerabilities and intervene now, before they are found dead. The celebrated and inappropriate issues that would certainly surround this announcement would ultimately be marginalized to peripheral minutia if the real message here can be heard: DRUGS KILL, BUT THEY DON'T HAVE TO KILL YOU. A public campaign can be announced with the autopsy results (if, and only if, this is the result) and formally launched when school starts in the fall. This should be lead by our government, teaming with the entertainment community, to develop a brilliant and digestible public service campaign against drug abuse. If the government media can get young kids to sign up to go to Iraq they should be able to get this message across. But this campaign needs to be different. This one needs to rise to the sophistication of its audience. Everyone knows cigarettes kill people, it's written on the box, but they still smoke. So what are we doing wrong?

We continue to "dumb-down" our audience and we're not letting them in on the recently understood origins of addiction. It is now time to educate the world about a new paradigm in medicine that addiction is rooted in brain chemistry, handed down without choice by our genetics, and triggered by stress. It is a chronic disease and needs resources for a lifetime. Since we are all different in the way we look, we are similarly different in the way our brains are balanced chemically. We must identify individual risks for which drugs of abuse may seduce us, which is based on these personalized neurochemical imbalances. We must provide kids starting in grammar school (addictive environmental cues start in the second grade) with the tools to recognize and manage stressful situations that might otherwise trigger their journey into substance abuse. We also must provide individualized care from specialists for those prone to depression, anxiety, insomnia, and pain - conditions known to be directly associated with addiction. Professionals have the tools to do this but we need more of them to meet the mushrooming demands of this ongoing epidemic. So, just as we need to educate our adudience, we also need to educate more professionals to lead this battle.

Mr. Obama, please take an immediate moment to form a task force to finally address this serious disease of addiction given the golden opportunity that awaits. If, and only if, this is what comes out.