Manchester University
Oak Leaves

April 13, 2018

opiod speaker

Former Surgeon General of the United States, Vivek Murthy.

Photo Provided

Former Surgeon General Murthy Analyzes Opioid Use in America 

Avis McGovern 

Manchester University heard Vivek Murthy, former Surgeon General of the United States, deliver the annual Harry ’35 and Jeanette Henney Lecture as a VIA on April 2 in Cordier Auditorium.

Former Manchester Trustee Jane E. Henney, a 1969 Manchester grad and nationally recognized public health administrator and academic leader, endowed the Henney Lecture to honor her parents.Murthy’s lecture focused on examining and explaining the opioid crisis in America. Audience members learned how the opioid issue has increased significantly since the year 1999. He explained that more doctors are writing more opioid prescriptions than in years past even though patients may not be in severe pain.

“I did not realize that opioids were such an issue in today’s world,” said India Ulshafer. “Murthy’s lecture really helped me to better understand that even though we live in a society with more opportunity and technology to closely research the amount of opioid dosages that have been distributed, we still are having trouble to combat the issue.”

Murthy did not only give information of the opioid crisis, but also mentioned an outlet for everyone to help reduce the outbreak. He helped to engage statistical information in his lecture by referring to the “Turn the Tide” campaign he runs from his website,

“I really liked how Murthy was able to give us his expertise insight on the opioid crisis,” said first year Macyn Lyon. “I think everyone who attended the lecture was able to capture how passionate Vivek Murthy is about finding a solution to dismantling how easy opioids are being distributed. When I was listening to him talk about how addictive opioids can easily become, I was hoping he would mention a way for me to get involved and help. I think hearing about his pledge page really allows students to help make a positive impact on his campaign.”

Murthy’s lecture, while focusing on the issue with opioids, also gave insight on how the problem can be eliminated. He spoke about how people who are feeling typical pain are often going to doctors to get prescribed stronger drugs than they necessarily need. One way to decrease this issue, Murthy explained, is patients assessing themselves before deciding to go to the doctor. Murthy hinted that most light pain that people feel is normal.

He also talked about speaking to colleagues and doctors about diligently looking into the patients’ symptoms before giving them prescription medication that they could possibly be requesting for purposes other than pain. Murthy also touched on the risks of taking more than the recommended amount of dosage which could result in organ damage, or other permanent damage to the body.

“The lecture taught me a lot about opioids,” said first year Than Soe. “Being a student who is looking into studying medicine, I think it is important to note that there is a problem with how often patients are receiving opioids to try and combat pain. Murthy brought a great, professional perspective on how the issue is prevalent in many hospitals and practices.

“Although not everyone here on campus is studying medicine,” she continued, “it is helpful to all of us to know the signs of opioid addiction. Murthy gave an outstanding lecture about how to handle individuals who abuse the opioids given to them and I think that will further help to initiate a change just by hearing how we, as students, can do our part.”

Murthy is currently a professor of internal medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School. He continues to work and advocate for the opioid issue on his webpage, where he has posted a pledge letter that is available to the public for signing.