Cure Addiction Now
Founder and President of Cure Addiction Now
When the goal is to transform the current system of how substance use disorder is viewed and treated and break the mold of the endless merry-go-round of this disease, you assemble a stellar group of scientists in the field to work as a team. And that’s what Nancy Davis did. Nancy is the Founder and President of Cure Addiction Now (CAN), an organization dedicated to start funding important, well-thought-out research and generate new discoveries for substance use disorders. Nancy and Cure Addiction Now can be reached at https://cureaddictionnow.org
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Mike: Welcome, everybody. This is Avoiding the Addiction Affliction brought to you by Westwords Consulting and the Kenosha County Substance Abuse Coalition. I'm Mike McGowan.
Mike: So many people are affected by substance use disorder. All of us constantly explore ways to help those with the disease and the families that are affected as well.
Mike: Our guest today is one of those dedicated people. Nancy Davis is the founder and president of Cure Addiction Now, an organization dedicated to start funding important, well thought out research and generate new discoveries for substance use disorders.
Mike: Welcome, Nancy.
Nancy: Thank you so much for having me. I'm really excited to be here with you.
Mike: Well, I'm excited to have this conversation. Tell us a little bit about Cure Addiction Now.
Nancy: I started Cure Addiction Now, or CAN, with my late son, Jason Davis. We started it about a year before COVID hit, and we had gotten our 501(c)(3) standing and had a fabulous meeting putting all of our doctors together slightly before COVID hit.
Nancy: Unfortunately, when COVID hit, my son Jason passed away. So I do this in memory and in honor of him. He had an addiction problem, a substance use disorder. He was addicted to heroin. And I think later started with fentanyl. He came to me one day. I've always run a charity for multiple sclerosis, which I have.
Nancy: And my son, Jason was the most loyal, amazing, creative, fun human being on the planet. And he helped me so much raising money for my charity race to erase MS. We've had it for 30 years now. So he came to me one day. He said, "You know, mom, I have an addiction problem." And I obviously knew he did.
Nancy: And I, he said, what out what's out there is not working for me. And it's not working for everybody else. I know. I know there's AA, there's a 12 step program because, but that works for 7 percent of the people because I'm not one of the 7%. It's not working. I keep, doing it and going to the meetings and doing my steps.
Nancy: And because I keep relapsing, it's not working, but most of the people, I know it's not. So the reality is it works for 7 percent of the people and the other 93 percent of the people out there are failing miserably over and over again. And then feeling even worse if AA doesn't work for them. If it works for you, that's amazing.
Nancy: And it's fabulous, but. It's not science based. My son Jason said, Mom, we're going to get into the laboratory. We're going to get the best scientists available. And we're going to find actual cures that are based on science that are based on real live you know, basic science research studies. So unfortunately my son, Jason passed away three and a half years ago, and he'd suffered a lot through addiction.
Nancy: He'd been sober for nine months, actually, right before he passed away and he had COVID and he died of a double pulmonary embolism. I can't help but think a lot of what happened to him was a product of being an addict for, you know, off and on for 12 years. It was a really, it was, it was rough.
Nancy: It was a terrible thing. If you are in the family of an addict, everybody in the family suffers with the addict. The addict behavior and everything that goes with it. And addicts are always very loving, kind people. They're like everybody. They have a disease. I think we very often shame people who have addiction and, you know, that they, they could do something about it and it's their fault and what have you.
Nancy: It's not, it's a bonafide disease. One day I woke up with multiple sclerosis. I didn't cause it to happen. It happened. I had to deal with what was going to make me better. My son woke up one day after never having drugs till he was 21 years old. He'd never tried anything. He had his first drug and boy, it set off fireworks in his head and he became an addict.
Nancy: And it wasn't something he wanted to have. It was a disease that was laying dormant in his body. And he had this first drug and it just, it went crazy on him. He had actually done a charity events that were anti drug before that. He'd been in a movie a long time ago called Beverly Hills Ninja with Chris Farley.
Nancy: And he was 12 years old and he witnessed. His friend, Chris Farley, he was like a superhero to him at that time, die. And so Jason actually started his own charity that was anti addiction and had never had a drink or anything until he was 21. And he was at a wedding and he had a back injury and he tried, his friend said, "Oh, your back pain will go away if you smoke opium." So he went from 0 to 100 very quickly. And he had opium. It's the candy coated way of saying heroin. And that's just what it is. And he liked it and he liked it too much. And immediately he became an addict. And he'd been so against ever becoming an addict.
Nancy: He'd even written an incredible screenplay about things that were anti-addiction and so forth and all of a sudden, he was in the throes of this and he couldn't get off it. He, he'd be better for a while than he wouldn't be. He would go to rehab. He'd go do this program, that program, and he got better for a while. Then, and then he'd relapse and he was having a heck of a time and he'd always worked with me on my other charity and learn the importance of having brilliant scientists the best of them to work together as a united, you know, dream team and it coexists in a way that they always had to communicate every month and help each other and learn from the studies that are ongoing. So Jason wanted to recreate this and we did. And so we have a charity called Cure Addiction Now, and we're going into our fourth year of this charity. We are funding 14 really amazing basic science research studies and having good results.
Nancy: What, what our goal is, is we really want to find out, you know, what, how do you stop cravings? It's, it's in your brain. Our government has very carefully never wanted to fund anything that has to do with cravings. It's a bad word. But that's what it is when you're an addict, you have cravings, your brain is telling you to do something that you know is not good for you, but you still do it.
Nancy: Why do you do it? What's going on in your brain? Why are you wired this way? So we're trying to get to the bottom of why you are wired this way and how can we stop it? How can we give you a good life? We're also working on ways of making it easy and more equitable for everybody to detox. Jason came to me, goes, "Mom, I'm really lucky. I know that you had paid for me to go to rehab, and I know you would if I was in trouble." Because I know so many people I see at meetings who can never afford to go to rehab. They're, they don't, they can't afford it. Number one, their insurance is not going to cover it. And they will never have the luxury of even knowing what that's like.
Nancy: Because it's, it's scary, it's painful. A lot of people die when they detox. And you have to have the medications, the support system to actually detox. And a lot of people just can't afford it. And it's basically very unfair that everybody can't afford to detox. And people go down this really terrible rabbit hole that are addicts.
Nancy: And, you know, people blame them. "Oh, if you only tried harder, if you knew better, if you didn't put yourself in this predicament." They're in a predicament. And we have to look at the reality of what that predicament is. They're addicts. It's a huge disease. Now, the leading cause of death in our country for people 50 years old and younger, and instead of like, you know, talking always, we always talk about cancer and heart disease and COVID and everything, more people are dying every day from a substance use disorder, overdoses, they are, and we tend to shame these people. We make them feel bad even when they get better. They're not open with, you know, they're not welcome with open arms to, to jobs, to go to people's homes, to go to parties. People, they get a reputation, they get a reputation because we pigeonholed, you know, all these people that are addicts and the way that, you know, they're liars, you can't trust them.
Nancy: The, this is that they, sometimes they have to be liars. They have to do whatever they can to We need to figure out a very different way of welcoming people with this disease, it is a disease. We welcome people with you know, breast cancer. It's breast cancer awareness month, which is great and nobody's going to shame you if you said you were diagnosed today with breast cancer. They're going to say "Can I take you to your, you know, doctor appointment?" "Can I help you get chemotherapy?" "Can I help you with a doctor?" Can I help you with insurance?" Can we help pay?" "Can we start a GoFundMe page for you?" if you have this. You never heard of somebody starting a GoFundMe page for an addict. They have a serious, deadly disease as terrible as breast cancer or any other disease and they don't all of a sudden have the money to pay for it and we've made it very difficult by insurance not covering it or covering rehab stays or detoxing and all that.
Nancy: And we have to do a lot more.
Mike: Well, you just you recently had a conference and a webinar. And you had your dream team or some of them present. Tell us about some of the panelists and what they were doing, what they're researching.
Nancy: We've put together a team and it was very hard to put together a team because for 25 years, nobody put any money whatsoever into addiction research.
Nancy: And when Jason and I went out to find this, you know, dream team of doctors, it was hard because in any other disease, you can look at, you know, the studies that have been reported every year from other diseases. And there's a lot of research going on. For some reason, the leading cause of death, there's zero research.
Nancy: And we are the first charity, period, to be doing, you know, refunding basic science research to get to the core of why are you an addict? How can we stop you from really being an addict? And, and if, you know the methods that exist today don't help you, how, how can we create more methods that are going to help a lot more people?
Nancy: We look at the homeless populations. We look at everybody and there's just, there's a real problem. We don't look at what the reality is. Most of the people in the homeless population are addicts, and they can't just stop. It just doesn't happen overnight. They need support. They need to look at it.
Nancy: It's not about giving them a place to live. I mean, a place to live is great, but you have to look at the reality where there's so many people homeless or in jail for that matter, because they're committing crimes because they have no money, they have no job, they're addicts and they're a slave every day when they wake up to getting that next fix and they have to do it.
Nancy: And they will do anything to get it. They will beg, they will borrow, they will steal, they will plead, they will do anything because their brain is telling them they have to do it. So we need to figure out a uniformed way of how do we help people stop the cravings, get over the cravings.
Nancy: How do we universally help? People afford to be able to detox and as they're, you know, creating, you know, housing and different things for people who are addicts, they're not at all looking at the big elephant in the room, which is how do we help these people stop this deadly disease that they have?
Nancy: And it's not just about being homeless. It's about how did you become homeless? It's because you, you wake up every day and you have to get this very expensive drug. And it's playing, you know, games with your brain and your mind and you're doing things that you wouldn't normally do because you have to survive within that.
Nancy: And how do we, you know, how do we sit down and create medicine? So what Cure Addiction Now and my son's dream was, is that we would have medications. And we are developing a bunch of medications. And we're also trying to find ways for people who go into a hospital. How do you detox a fentanyl? On there's a terrible crisis with fentanyl.
Nancy: It comes over our borders every single day. It is laced into absolutely everything. And we keep looking the other way, and we're not paying enough attention. When you go to detox somebody on fentanyl, it's a completely different detox. And what I found recently at one of our meetings is there's not a uniform way at every different hospital in the country to take somebody off fentanyl who's an addict.
Nancy: And it has a much longer time that it stays in your system and then it keeps resurging. And the things that might've worked for somebody getting off of heroin, cocaine, whatever, it's done in like a four to 10 day period. On this, it can be many weeks. And it's very hard. And it creates a psychosis in many people and some people are detoxing or become very suicidal.
Nancy: And it's also another terrifying aspect of it. So we're trying very quickly to figure out how can we possibly come up with better remedies to that will be, you know, imposed in every single hospital, emergency room, ambulance everywhere across the country to help people actually get off of this medication.
Mike: What are they finding? What are your researchers so far able to point to or find?
Nancy: Well, they're finding that it's a really big problem. And they're finding what works for the other drugs that had been around for years, which works okay, doesn't work at all. And they're trying different things at different hospitals.
Nancy: And I know we're doing a big study at Johns Hopkins. It's going to really address this. And I know that when people come in that are addicted to fentanyl they were giving them two shots of morphine immediately and they were doing different things, but there's not a gold standard. And sometimes when you take someone to an emergency room, you kind of feel, phew, thank God we're here. This is safe.
Nancy: When they go to the emergency room, because of the way fentanyl works, they don't even know how to take them off it correctly. It's very complicated. And so we're creating a study that's going to work with that and hopefully help people there and there's, you know, beyond fentanyl, there's no Xylazine and there's more things.
Nancy: So, and if anybody, you know, goes out and buys a drug today there's a really good I guess 94 percent chance that whatever medication you buy that you do not buy in a reputable drug store in the United States will probably be laced with one of these things and fentanyl is terrifying but we have allowed this to come over our borders daily and even that person who thinks they have a really good drug dealer that they can trust and won't poison them and won't give them this thing.
Nancy: Nobody has the control to understand exactly. And you can get fentanyl testers, which is obviously if you're going to take something, you should have that. But it works in a very limited capacity because a lot of people are trying drugs for the first time, or people have been on drugs a long time and you can't get a pure drug anymore.
Nancy: 94 percent of everything coming in our country is laced with fentanyl.
Mike: You know, I spoke yesterday. I spoke yesterday, Nancy, to about 400 sheriffs and deputies in our state's association from every single county in the state I live in. And they would echo exactly what you just said. I asked them, what are you dealing with?
Mike: And they said, doesn't matter what we're dealing with. It's all got fentanyl in it. And they're dealing with everything from methamphetamine, to cocaine, to heroin, to just pure fentanyl. And then you mentioned some of the other stuff, like Xylazine. Seems like the researcher, researchers, the chemists who are making this stuff consistently change the compounds.
Mike: Are your researchers looking to develop something that would be a broad base to take effect for cravings for all of the substances?
Nancy: Yeah, and we're doing a lot of different things. And there's a cravings are cravings. And, you know, some people are born and they're never going to have cravings.
Nancy: And there's some people that are born, they're going to always have cravings. And there's, there's a genetic predisposition in families to having this disease. And it is a bonafide disease. It is the leading cause of death in our country. And I don't know why we sweep it under the rug and we don't look at it, but we need to do that.
Nancy: So our doctors are really, you know, researching lots of things to try to figure this out. It's completely terrifying. If you look at even the fentanyl, it's coming from China through Mexico. The Mexican drug lords are pressing this into every single drug, even, you know, people who can't afford to take all elderly people can't afford to pay for all their medicines, they get them over the border, so to speak, it can be in your heart medicine, it can be in everything.
Nancy: And it's in antidepressants, it's everything. And all of a sudden you are addicted to fentanyl, and you don't even realize it. And if you get a little taste of fentanyl, don't die from it. Then you get incredibly addicted. Then it's really hard to get off that, too. A dose of fentanyl is the equivalent of you having 50 to 100 shots of heroin.
Nancy: It is intense. Most people's bodies could never live through that. I mean, it's terrifying. And now that wasn't good enough. So they're adding Xylazine is flesh eating bacteria, you know, drug. And there's just. There's just so many layers. And it's like, why are people so hateful? Why do they want to kill everybody?
Nancy: Where, where are we allowing this in our country? Kids as young as, you know, 12, 14 years old, they're sitting there doing their homework and up on, you know, they have Snapchat and up pops, you know, this, this little emoji of an electrical plug or electrical outlet. And all of a sudden, if you push that, the drug dealers somehow have some signal and they send you a recipe or a menu of the the drugs that they can deliver to your home.
Nancy: You can buy one pill. And as we all know, one pill can kill. Some kids buy one pill and they split it four ways and all four kids overdose. This is how intense it is when you think that, you know, a pill laced with fentanyl has 50 to 100 shots of heroin in it. Imagine somebody trying that for the first time and no, you, you can't survive that.
Nancy: It's, it's terrifying.
Mike: This isn't going to be a short term thing. Your researchers are going to be working on this for a while.
Nancy: We are working on a lot of studies, and we're also looking at the idea of the semi glutides, like people are talking a lot about Ozempic, and Wigovi, and Manjaro. Those medicines that are really helping people with weight loss, but they're also interestingly showing a thing of taking a lot of cravings away from people.
Nancy: For alcohol for drugs, for, you know, all kinds of behaviors and it's kind of fascinating. So we're going to start doing a study very soon with understanding there's something that's secreted from your pancreas that this makes you completely not interested in, in drinking anymore and different things.
Nancy: So we're excited about that. We want to create a vaccine, vaccines obviously have gotten popular because of COVID and made it a little easier for the idea of vaccine that could be made. Ideally, it would be amazing in the future to just runs in your family, which runs in a lot of families, that you could have a vaccine when you're young and maybe stop you from becoming an addict.
Nancy: That would be, you know, kind of a miracle. We're working. There's another medication that comes from a tree in Africa called Ibogaine. And it's fascinating. It's not, it does not have FDA approval in our country yet. But you can go to a clinic in Mexico and you take one Ibogaine. It's fascinating.
Nancy: You go on this crazy hallucinogenic trip for 12 to 24 hours. But when you wake up you have gone through the entire detox, which does a very short period to go through a detox. And then for the next six months, you don't have any cravings for drugs, which is kind of a miracle. And I feel like this is going to be like the holy grail of, you know, of medicines and helping people.
Nancy: I think it's, it's really fascinating. There's a problem though. One in 20,000 people have a heart problem because of this medicine. So if one takes it, they can't get it in the United States, actually, they'd have to go to Mexico to this place. And but it's amazing if something cuts your cravings for six months, that's a huge leg up.
Nancy: And it's also very affordable. And so the idea that we could, you know, give this to lots of people who, you know, even the veterans, the homeless people, different things like that. And, you know, give them that leg up to be able to detox in a much more comfortable way and affordable way.
Nancy: And those who, you know, want to go to meetings and different things, you know, after that, it's great, but to give them that first you know, jolt and stop the cravings. And they're also working on creating something called Neuro Ibogaine, which will also, after you get the cravings back six months later, you can take this pill again.
Nancy: I think you take it once a month or so forth, and it will help stop your cravings. And that, I mean, it's about cravings. However you look at it, it's about your cravings.
Mike: Do you have another event coming up that people can access?
Nancy: I'm going to have to let you know later what the date is.
Nancy: I think it's in about four or five months from now. I know we have a date. I just don't have it.
Mike: That's fine.
Nancy: I don't have it at the tip of my tongue right now, but we will do another event. We're going to do it in Los Angeles. And we're going to put all of our doctors together and they do some amazing talks.
Nancy: We're funding 14 different studies and they're all over the place, but nobody's funded any. It's like big wild west. There's so much, there's so many things to plug into and like, what's the most important. And we've decided what's most important is what we'll find is a cure the quickest.
Nancy: And there's so many different types of addiction and different, you know, things based on each addicts you know, with their symptoms, what they're going through. So we're trying to tackle things and what we think we could come up with things to save the most amount of lives in the quickest amount of time.
Mike: How can people learn more about the organization?
Nancy: They can go to our website, cureaddictionnow.org. And if anyone wants to run, if anyone wants to get involved, we love that. We're working on a bunch of projects and we haven't had a really big, you know, sort of event, a big charity event or events have been very educational so far. And talking to doctors and we, we always need lots of donations, obviously we want to really be able to fund a lot more research and do a lot more.
Nancy: So we're working on that in a big way. And it's the biggest killer in our country and we don't talk about it enough. It's just, it's not on the forefront of the news. It's not a sexy disease. It's not fair. We, again, you know, we don't choose diseases.
Nancy: They choose us and it's only fair that this disease, even though it's not sexy and hot and then whatever people want it to be and people are afraid of it, it's important that we, everybody I know loves an addict. Everybody has someone in their life and we need to give them all a big bear hug.
Nancy: We need to embrace them. This idea of tough love is not my thing. I feel like people who are going through this are immediately shunned by society. When you, if you call your friend, you tell them you're an addict, they very often don't want anything to do with you. They feel like, "Okay, you're not a trustworthy person." Doctors tell me that, you know they don't really like an addict sitting in their waiting room.
Nancy: It's not good for their business. This is the leading cause of death and more people have this disease. And it's like why do we keep looking the other way? We need to embrace it. We need to find ways for people to be loving and kind to those that are addicts. They don't need to be shunned. They don't need to feel worse about themselves. They don't want to have a disease. They want to be loved and they want to be supported. And we need to figure out a way to be kinder. You have to be kind. And I went through a terrible thing.
Nancy: I lost, I lost my son and it was the worst nightmare of my life. I didn't know how to even deal with the fact that he wouldn't be here. He was this very loving, fun, creative beacon of light in my life. And to think that, you know, he'd had this problem and you know, he really wanted to work though in the trenches to make solutions. And so he is not here, but he is always there sitting right here with me. I guess I have his name right here, Jason and, oh he was known as Gummy bear, teddy bear. So I I always wear a, a little bear. That's my thing. And I keep those really close to my heart every day.
Nancy: And I know he's guiding me every day. He was that kind of person, even if you're really tired and you have no more energy, he'd always say, "Mom, get off your lazy ass and work harder." I'm like, "Okay, okay!" So I am working as hard as I can. I need as much help as I can. And I've got to solve this problem.
Nancy: And I need a lot of people because a lot of people have this problem and we have to stop, you know, saying "Hands off. I don't want anything to do with it." You know, embrace people that have this. This is what we have to do. And it's not going to just go away, as you said, it doesn't go away, it doesn't go away unless you have purposeful research and intentions to making it change.
Mike: Well, Nancy, thank you so much for not only the podcast, but for your dedication and willingness to bring these folks together. We'll put links, of course, to Cure Addiction Now so that you all can follow the research and learn more about it and donate if you care to.
Mike: Until then, Nancy, thanks so much for joining us.
Nancy: Thank you so much for having me. I really appreciate it.
Mike: And for those of you listening, please listen next time. And until next time, stay safe.
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