Bill Clinton Speaks At 2017 Opioid Summit

There is no denying that America’s opioid crisis has begun to take center stage with news outlets across the country. And rightfully so, we might add since it is leading to literally thousands of overdose deaths each day. Last week President Donald Trump took to the podium, declaring the epidemic a “health emergency” and yesterday, it was former President Bill Clinton’s turn; as he made an impassioned speech during the Baltimore’s 2017 Opioid Summit.

 

Held at Johns Hopkins University in Maryland, the annual event drew international attention. President Clinton, not surprisingly, received the lion’s share of the media attention, but it used it well as he addressed the attendees.

 

One of Clinton’s biggest points was the need for support when it comes to dependent Americans. He urged lawmakers to work towards decriminalizing those afflicted and increase recovery efforts.

 

“The good news is that we’re finally acting like grown ups and treating this like a public health problem and not a criminal justice problem,” the former president told the press. “The bad news is the response has been woefully inadequate. What we’re here today to do is figure out what to do next.”

 

Clinton then went on to moderate a round table panel, which included Baltimore City Health Commissioner Dr. Leana Wen, Democratic representative Elijah Cummings and Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers.  Dr. Wen had previously made news for pushing local first responders to carry naloxone at all times. In the fight against opioid overdoses, naloxone has proven to be one of the only effective tools.

 

To their credit, Baltimore has been acknowledged as a leader when it comes to fighting the crisis. They were one of the first cities in the nation to issue blanket prescriptions for naloxone and offered thousands of residents the opportunity to receive free overdose response training.

 

Rep. Cummings also made a big impact during the panel, setting his sights strictly on the insurance companies who he believes have contributed to the crisis.

 

“We must press insurance companies to eliminate their bias in favor opioid base pain killers,” Cummings told the crowd. “And we must challenge our friend in Congress to expand public health funding.”

 

But, as expected, it was former President Clinton who stole the show. His speech drew so much attention, that it sparked a social media trend and got the #OpioidSummit hashtag to go viral.

 

You can see a portion of it below, courtesy of CBS Baltimore.

 

Trump Declares ‘Health Emergency’ Over Opioid Crisis

Thursday turned into a very eventful day for anyone involved in the recovery community. Splashed across headlines and TV screens, President Donald Trump addressed the nation’s opioid addiction crisis head-on, promising to make sweeping changes over the next 90 days.

 

Declaring it a “public health emergency,” the Commander-in-Chief vowed to mobilize the federal government and take swift action against the epidemic that killing thousands of U.S. citizens each day.

 

“As Americans, we cannot allow this to continue. It is time to liberate our communities from this scourge of drug addiction,” Trump told the press during in a lengthy address. “We can be the generation that ends the opioid epidemic.”

 

Adding an emotional edge to the moment, Trump surrounded himself with families of Americans who have been impacted by the crisis. He spoke sternly from the White House floor and called out specific drugs by name, including heroin, Oxycontin and the synthetic painkiller fentanyl.

 

As far as immediate promises go, the President released an order which would allow patients in rural parts of the country to access medication for addiction treatment through telemedicine. Rural America happens to be one the regions hit hardest by the epidemic.

 

There was also a push to redirect existing U.S. grant money to focus on opioid recovery clinics. Insurance improvements may be on the way too, with state Medicaid programs given more freedom to cover treatment programs for the people enrolled in their plans.

 

One other Trump pledge concerned awareness and building out national programs to inform the public (particularly young people) about the dangers of painkiller abuse.

 

“We want to get really tough, really big, really great advertising aimed at persuading Americans not to start using opioids in the first place,” he went on to say. “This was an idea that I had, where if we can teach young people not to take drugs. It’s really, really easy not to take them.”

 

To add an extra layer of emotion, Trump also referenced his brother Fred; who died because of alcohol dependency. After his speech, however, criticism did begin to emerge, particularly from news outlets who believe he is not doing enough.

 

The New York Times felt there was much to be desired from Trump’s plan and interviewed several Democratic lawmakers who agreed.

 

“America is hemorrhaging lives by the day because of the opioid epidemic, but President Trump offered the country a Band-Aid when we need a tourniquet,”Massachusetts Senator Edward J. Markey told The Times. “What we need is for the president to seek an appropriation from Congress, I believe in the billions, so that we can rapidly expand access for effective outpatient opioid addiction treatments.”

 

 

‘Know The Truth’ Brings Addiction Education To Schools

We’ve brought up the 1980’s D.A.R.E. initiative, and its proposal to return, many times before. But before that happens, there is actually another addiction education program taking the lead in states like Minnesota. That would be Know The Truth, a viral teen-focused recovery network that has been grabbing headlines for its work at high schools and colleges.

 

Know The Truth (or KTT, for short) has been active in Minnesota since 2006, but more recently grabbed the attention of several midwestern regions. This, of course, is due to the nation’s growing opioid crisis and the need to educate young people about the dangers of over medicating.

 

Since its launch, KTT has led over 10,000 school presentations about addiction and offered in-class speaking sessions, as well as “virtual incarceration experiences.” Yes, this program even goes so far as to simulate what life would be like for a drug user who gets sentenced to hard time.

 

The goal is to reach suburban America and the teens who may not truly realize the dangers of addiction.

 

“This is not a rural issue or an urban issue,” KTT reps wrote on their site. “There’s no stereotype of a typical drug user. The people affected by this alarming trend are our neighbors, our friends, our loved ones.”

 

To its credit, KTT claims to have touched over 300,000 students.  Their approach includes speaking sessions from actual recovery survivors, as well as lectures from doctors and professors. As they referenced in their bio, however, the biggest success comes from young presenters who join the program.

 

“We use a peer-to-peer approach, with presenters close in age to the students to share information about substance abuse and life-skills,” their writers went on to say. “In addition we highlight resources for when help is needed. We are relatable with students and successful in strengthening negative attitudes towards drugs and alcohol.”

 

A helpful video is also available on their site, profiling KTT’s manager Adam Pederson. You can watch it in its entirety below…

 

The KTT site also breaks down a large list of resources directed specifically toward students, parents and teachers (organized by category). There are educational links referencing everything from inhalant abuse, to suicide counseling, to shelters for runaways. The organization has a strong social media presence too, where interested students can live chat and connect with KTT counselors via Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and more.

 

There is certainly a great deal of material out there from KTT. And even though they may not be based in California, they are an organization worth looking into…Especially if you’re concerned about a young person who may be battling addiction.

 

What To Do If Your Friend Is Addicted

In our blogs, we often talk about the family members, spouses and co-workers of people who may be dealing with an addiction. But one area that does tend to get overlooked is the part a friend may play in this scenario. NBC’s The TODAY Show did a great job of profiling this crucial role in an addicted person’s life and the power a trusted confidante can have when it comes to recovery.

 

Interestingly, there are many occasions where the BFF may be the only one who knows there is an actual problem. TODAY made a point to profile recovery advocate Jen Simon  and her “masterful” job hiding her painkiller dependency from the ones she loved. In the end, it was Jen’s circle of friends who came to her aid and facilitated her getting the treatment she needed.

 

On the other side of the coin, many addicted people work hard to hide their problems from friends too. As a close confidante, however, it can pretty easy to spot behavior changes and warning signs that something may be wrong. If that happens to be the case with someone in your inner circle, TODAY has outlined a very effective checklist to get things in order.

 

First, it emphasizes to always Approach From a Place of Compassion. Friendships are built on trust and support, so try not to cast judgment or push a person into shutting down. Keep conversations neutral and offer compassion during this difficult time.

 

On the flipside, TODAY also urges friends Not To Support the Addiction. You can certainly be empathetic without being an enabler. If the person you’re close too asks you to help them get prescription meds, party at a bar or “borrow pills,” always answer with a resounding NO.

 

Though you may not be family, you can certainly urge your friend to Talk About the Problem with a Spouse. This can be a tough situation because, in an ideal world, you’d want the friend to reveal the issue to their loved ones, not you. If you reach out to the spouse, that could be seen as an act of betrayal. Our advice would be to talk to family members together using encouragement and support.

 

Compiling a List of Resources is a critical friend role as well. Many times, the addicted person is feeling lost or overwhelmed and doesn’t know the first steps to take when it comes to recovery. You, as the friend, can help put that agenda together; setting up appointments with a treatment facility and organizing things like transportation.

 

And finally, TODAY encourages friends to Continue the Support long after the recovery journey is complete. Help usher in a new sober lifestyle and be available as a sounding board if moments come when they’re feeling particularly vulnerable.

 

We all know recovery is a lifelong process, but with good friends and a strong support system it’s much easier to tackle. If you have a friend who is struggling, reach out to Valley Recovery Center and let us help them turn their life around. 866-986-2486

 

‘Esquire’ Article Outs Billionaire Family Behind Oxycontin

If you happen to subscribe to Esquire Magazine, then you probably came across a curious article in their most recent issue. Titled The Secretive Family Making Billions From The Opioid Crisis, it delves deep into the business practices of the Sackler clan; a group of relatives who appear to have cornered the painkiller market (and are reaping in huge amounts of cash).

 

The article doesn’t exactly lay blame on the Sacklers for the epidemic, but it does point out how they secretly remove themselves from the crisis conversation and have done little to fund recovery efforts. As mentioned in the headline, the Sacklers are worth tens of billions of dollars ($14 billion to be exact).  The primary source of that income comes from Purdue Pharma, which is the sole manufacturer of Oxycontin.

 

Esquire makes a point to shame the Sacklers for their so-called “secrecy;” writing, “The family’s leaders have pulled off three of the great marketing triumphs of the modern era: The first is selling oxycontin; the second is promoting the Sackler name; and the third is ensuring that, as far as the public is aware, the first and the second have nothing to do with one another.”

 

Indeed, the Sackler clan has been quite generous with their charitable donations…just not when it comes to America’s addiction issues. They currently have a wing at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, a named section of the Louvre and galleries at the Smithsonian (just to name a few). But what the Sacklers have not lent their name to, is any type of recovery clinic, rehabilitation program or education effort when it comes to opioid abuse.

 

The lengthy Esquire piece delves deep into the Sackler history as well (dating back to the 1950’s) and the evolution of the Purdue Pharma empire. Interestingly enough, the family patriarchs built their fortunes with pharmaceutical advertising and marketing (vs. actual development).

 

Using that advertising background, Purdue (the article claims) misrepresented OxyContin during its initial release into the marketplace, downplaying its addictive tendencies.

 

“Purdue did not invent the chronic-pain movement, but it used that movement to engineer a crucial shift,” the article states.  “By the end of the 1990’s, clinical proponents of opioid treatment, supported by millions in funding from Purdue, had organized themselves into advocacy groups with names like the American Pain Society and the American Academy of Pain Medicine. As an internal strategy document put it, Purdue’s ambition was to ‘attach an emotional aspect to noncancer pain’ so that doctors would feel pressure to ‘treat it more seriously and aggressively.’ The company rebranded pain relief as a sacred right: a universal narcotic entitlement available not only to the terminally ill but to every American.”

 

We found this to be a truly fascinating read and one that helps to get to the root of America’s opioid crisis. The next time you have a free moment, we highly recommend giving this Esquire piece a read.

 

 

Divorce Raises Alcoholism Risk, Study Finds

Watching a marriage come apart can be absolutely devastating. And according to some recent research from Forbes Magazine, it can also drive people to abuse alcohol. Their lengthy article highlights compelling stats from The American Journal of Psychiatry, which show recent divorcees tend to binge drink and have a much higher risk for alcohol-related mortality.

 

Previous research had already shown a link between alcoholism and divorce, but this latest material hammers the point home even harder. The study looked at 950,000 people born between the years of 1960 and 1990. Those participants who did not have any drinking issues prior to marriage saw a sixfold increase in alcohol abuse following a divorce.  And for those who did demonstrate alcoholism symptoms prior to marriage, the relapse risks skyrocketed after their break ups.

 

Other telling stats were highlighted too, including increased risks for divorcees who have a family history of alcoholism and a spike in drinking-related deaths (be it liver disease, car accidents, or what have you) for the same set of people. “Hazardous drinking” was also pointed out with this group, defined as binge boozing and driving under the influence.

 

One other interesting takeaway from this set was that there was an alcoholism decrease for those who remained married. That’s not to say that wedded bliss can halt any type of drinking urges (we’ve certainly seen husbands and patriarchs deal with their fair share of dependencies), but as general stats go, married couples illustrated less addictive behaviors than divorcees.

 

Forbes did a nice job breaking down the methods and key learnings from the Journal’s study. For one thing, this group of people was not interviewed one-by-one. That, of course, could lead to deception or inaccuracies. Instead the Journal gathered their data from nationwide criminal, medial and pharmacy registries, with 10-digit identification numbers provided by the participants. That way, the facts spoke for themselves without any personal biases.

 

What the mag did next was add a little context into the reasoning behind these behaviors. Most interesting was the fact that alcoholism spikes were not coming from where you might think. Forbes concluded that the rise in drinking was not caused from the stresses of divorce or even depression. Rather, it was the loss of a “protector” figure in the marriage. Their research found that spouses were often able to regulate each other and add a sense of stability. With a break up and the loss of that support, buried alcoholism urges began to emerge.

 

We always find this type of data to be extremely fascinating and encourage all of our readers to delve deeper into the trends, facts and behaviors surrounding this topic. It is also always important to remember that a divorce DOES NOT have to lead into alcoholism. If you or someone you know has hit a rough patch in their marriage, there are always recovery solutions to help them along the way.

 

 

Rockstars Create Watches To Fight Addiction

Who doesn’t love a gorgeous designer watch? Now imagine purchasing one and having a portion of your dollars used to help people battling addictions. It’s definitely a win/win in our book and made even more special by the fact that several notable music stars are getting behind the movement.

 

The Rock LTD Collection is a series of high-end timepieces designed by the likes of Elton John, Dave Grohl and Iggy Pop. It is also put out in conjunction with MusiCares, a charitable entertainment organization which we’ve talked about many times in our blogs.

 

Each signature watch should be on shelves in time for the holidays and, though pricey, exemplify the luxury and the style of their famous designers. 30 unique pieces will be sold in total, costing around $1,200 to $1,800 each. One very special piece will include elements from late Soundgarden frontman Chris Cornell, who himself battled drug and alcohol addictions.

 

Cornell’s watch features portions of his famous guitar strap and will only be available via auction at a special New York MusiCares event (with all proceeds going to their addiction charity). Chris’ widow, Vicky, told Rolling Stone that she was especially proud to make the donation and is making recovery education a major goal for their family.

 

“Addiction is a disease, and we lose far too many loved ones to the illness each day,” she told the online site. “MusiCares is a crucial organization and the MusiCares MAP Fund 100 percent supports the music community in its fight to protect those battling this affliction.”

 

Nixon, the parent company behind Rock LTD, echoed Vicky’s statement and revealed that they are especially proud to be part of this project.

 

“This is what Chris would want and we are happy to get behind it,” CEO Chad DiNenna told Rolling Stone.

 

As an example of Nixon’s handiwork, below are few of the other custom watch designs. Guns N’ Roses guitarist Slash built a sharp, black timepiece with a few extra spikes to emphasize the “rock star” lifestyle.

 

And below that, is the design from Metallica frontman James Hetfield. You can see some metal flourishes in this one, which definitely symbolize his hard rock edge.

 

As we mentioned before, the full Rock LTD Collection arrives in December. But that doesn’t have to stop anyone from touring the official Nixon website and picking out a few designs that may work for the stockings.

 

This is definitely a fantastic initiative and we are proud to share this early Christmas list with our readers. And remember, if $1,000 and up is too steep for your pocketbook that is completely understandable. But when it comes to holiday giving, perhaps a smaller donations to orgs like MusiCares can help.

 

PBS Shines The Spotlight On Addiction

For generations, PBS has been broadcasting moving documentaries covering everything from sports, to politics, to British aristocracies. Now, however, they are turning their cameras toward addiction and the devastating opioid crisis that is spreading across the country. Titled America Addicted, the new NewsHour docu-series has been playing on local stations and across the web with heartfelt, informative case studies.

 

Visiting the feature page on their site, one can scroll through detailed stories broken apart into four phases. Phase 1 is labeled The Problem and includes personal interviews, growing statistics, interactive polls and much more. This is where you see the humanistic angle to the disease and how it is literally ripping communities apart.

 

The video below is taken from that section and profiles the town of Huntington, West Virginia. Interviewing police officers, medical personnel and even the mayor, PBS’ camera crew is able to get a haunting glimpse of the crisis firsthand.

 

 

Huntington mayor Steve Williams appears in the clip and, in an emotional moment, offers both hope and despair.

 

“I really want us to end up on the right side of it,” he explains. “What I am constantly trying to do is lift people up. ‘Square your shoulders. We are from Huntington, West Virginia, and we’re showing an example to the rest of the country how you can defeat this.’ And then, as soon as I do that, then we will end up hearing the fire trucks going by. And they’re going after another overdose.”

 

Phase 2 of the site is titled The Drugs and delves square into the substances doing the damage. Here, you’ll see profiles of fentanyl, oxycodone and heroin, as well as the effects they can have on the brain. To their credit, PBS uses this page as an information resource too; offering readers tips on how to properly dispose and lock up their medications.

 

Then it’s on to Phase 3, which is labeled The Treatments. Here is where recovery comes into play and the options available for people looking to conquer their addictions. There are also uplifting stories of former users who have now turned their lives around and are working to help others.

 

And finally we get to New Approaches, which is Phase 4 of the PBS experience. This section covers topics we’ve referenced in our blogs many times. Everything from virtual reality recovery treatments, to innovative jail programs, to the laws politicians are hoping to put in motion to help curb the epidemic.

 

One piece from this section, which we found helpful dealt with struggling parents and how to open up the conversation to family members about the crisis. We highly recommend taking a tour of the entire America Addicted site and then passing it along to someone who may benefit. There are a lot of great resources there that can hopefully save a life.

 

Can Sugar In The Diet Increase The Risk of Opioid Addiction?

We all know that too much sugar can be an unhealthy vice for people looking to watch their weight. But can it also potentially contribute to a person’s opioid addiction? Believe or not, many scientists are Saying Yes and have offered some telling data to prove it.

 

The website MedicalXpress.com recently published a very alarming article tying heavy sugar intake to prescription painkiller dependencies. Using research from the laboratory of behavioral neuroscience at the University of Guelph, they outlined several case studies linking bad diets with addiction.

 

For one thing, their data showed a correlation between opioid abuse and unhealthy eating altogether. Using rats as test subjects, the researchers found that when a diet contained a high amount of corn syrup it actually dampened the reward sensations associated with oxycodone. Thus, it would require a larger consumption of that drug to achieve the “normal high.”

 

Frankly put, the opioid euphoria comes at a much lesser rate for those who consume a lot of sugar. And the corn syrup component is important too, as it is an active sugary ingredient in most sweets across North America (particularly soft drinks).

 

It is interesting to note that the Guelph study showed drastic differences in addiction behavior from the test rats as well. Normally sedative drugs like opioids and alcohol interfere with inhibition, stimulating “psychomotor” exhibition – such as sociability, talkativeness and sensation seeking. High sugar diets, on the other hand, led to the opposite effect for the opioid addicted rats. In this equation. their psychomotor stimulation was greatly reduced (making them more high-functioning addicts).

 

Delving deeper into the research, you begin to see a little bit of the chicken and the egg scenario. It appears as though increased opioid consumption can also lead to an increase in sugary cravings. According to a study conducted by Dr. David J. Mysels and Dr. Maria Sullivan, weight gain is a common trait among painkiller abusers. There are plenty of other symptoms these subjects had relating to sugar diets as well, including tooth decay and diabetes.

 

In their conclusion, Dr’s Mysels and Sullivan wrote, “Sweet-tasting substances are associated with activation of the endogenous opiate system, leading to clinically significant analgesia that may augment opiate treatment, or hinder it through tolerance. Given the rapidly rising rates of prescription opiate abuse and dependence, future research should be continued to determine whether such opioid maintenance carries similar public health risks of obesity, tooth decay, and metabolic pathology.”

 

 

Twitter Chats Help Educate About Addiction

We’ve always stressed the importance of social media in the world of recovery. Outlets like Facebook, Reddit and YouTube allow those addicted to seek out support and watch personal stories from others in similar situations. Interestingly enough, Twitter has now become a go-to platform for educating people about the dangers of using; particularly through the use of their Chat feature.

 

Twitter Chats have actually been around since the platform began. Primarily used for topical discussions, they focus on everything from baking, to parenting tips, to new movie releases and so on. These chats are primarily built around a specific hashtag, which ties the various tweets together to form a continuous stream of conversations.

 

Well more recently issues like the opioid crisis have made their way to the Twittersphere and this week, PBS’ NewsHour series hosted a lengthy dialogue tied around the #addiction and #NewsHourChats hashtags. Their chat posed Q&A’s about the dangers of painkillers and invited some influential figures to participate.

 

PBS reporter and producer Frank Carlson was the official “host” of the conversation and welcomed informative insights from Boston Health Care’s chief medical officer Dr. Jessie Gaeta and community outreach manager at the Anchor Recovery Center, Jonathan Goyer.

 

For approximately one hour, the three posed important questions to their followers, offered telling statistics and worked to answer questions from those struggling with dependencies.

 

Read the first tweet. This was followed by a helpful article link shared by producer Carlson. His post led into a harrowing account of being on the front lines of overdose ER’s.

 

 

Then a series of questions were posed, starting with a callout for firsthand accounts of addiction.

 

Dr. Gaeta chimed in on that one, sharing a message of hope.

 

 

 

Question two zeroed in on the harm that this crisis is having on local communities.

 

 

Carlson had some strong words for that inquiry, summarizing the dramatic impact opioids are having on Americans.

 

 

As you can see, this type of Twitter dialogue was both engaging and insightful. It was a powerful way to connect to the millions of Americans who  regularly use this platform. And the good news is, these types of chats are happening more and more frequently.

 

We highly recommend digging into relevant hashtags and recovery searches on Twitter. It is a great way to stay connected to the issue and participate in important conversations.

 

 

Melania Trump Brings Awareness To Newborn Addiction Issues

Newborn addiction is probably one of the hardest terms to grasp in our field. Innocent babies who are brought into this world dependent on the drugs their mothers used while pregnant. It is an awful scenario, yet one so prominent that there are actually infant recovery facilities designed to ween little ones off their parent’s habit. To her credit, First Lady Melania Trump helped bring attention to that issue this week, speaking with the press at Lily’s Place.

 

Lily’s Place happens to be an infant recovery facility based in West Virginia. This particular location has been plagued with babies of opioid addicts; another prominent issue that has made its way to the White House. Speaking to reporters in a designated press room, Melania made a point to emphasize the dangers of this crisis.

 

“I want to be here to support you and give a voice to Lily’s Place and also for the opioid epidemic,” Trump said. “It’s very much a passion of mine to help children and educate them and also to educate the families and open conversations about opioid abuse.”

 

White House Counselor Kellyanne Conway was also at the event, praising the work of Lily’s Place and similar recovery clinics. She made a point to highlight addicted mothers, urging them to receive treatment both during and after pregnancy.

 

“I just hope we give a voice to more places like this and open them more around the country so we could have more families and more mothers and more children,” Conway explained. “We need to open the conversation and to teach children and young mothers how it’s dangerous it is to use drugs and get addicted to it.”

 

Not surprisingly, the topic of healthcare came up during the conversation (something the first lady’s husband has been taking criticism for). President Donald Trump has been accused of doing too little for the crisis and potentially worsening it, with his attempts to cut back coverage for those in need of recovery.

 

Mrs. Trump didn’t provide any specific answers to those call outs, but pledged to continue her mission of addiction education. And for the record, Melania has taken active steps to show her support for the cause. Last month, she held a similar event in Washington D.C., meeting with families impacted by the opioid crisis.

 

We are appreciative that people in the White House are at least acknowledging the opioid crisis and bringing it to the headlines of various news sites. But there is so much more that needs to be done, particularly when it comes to governmental recovery support. Let’s hope Mrs. Trump’s next event moves the needle even more.

 

A Visual Breakdown of America’s Opioid Crisis

We’ve all heard the stats of how crippling America’s opioid crisis has become. From the fatalities, to the incarcerations, to the impact on various ages and races; it is an addiction problem that knows no bounds. But to help drive the message further, CBS News has created several visual displays of the damage being done. Through a series of six graphs, their research time has broken down dependency rates, overdose reach, heroin spread and more. It’s certainly alarming material, but it’s worth taking a close look at.

 

Let’s start with Chart #1. Illustrating U.S. opioid usage from 1999 to present day, CBS has displayed rapidly ascending lines that show no sign of slowing down.

 

The next chart in their series is a telling sign of America’s heroin problem. As we all know, opioid addiction can quickly escalate to needles and in the past 18 years, it’s led to a massive amount of fatal overdoses. Over 10,000, to be exact.

 

Chart #3 comes from the Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. It begins to peel away data concerning age and race. Below, you’ll notice that Non-Hispanic Whites between the ages of 20 to 34 saw an incredibly sharp increase in usage within the past 10 years.

 

Then we get into America’s fentanyl issues and one of the sharpest chart spikes we’ve seen yet. Fentanyl has become an easily accessible substitute for painkiller addicts and works as a potent, low-cost synthetic opioid. Take a look at 2013 onwards and you’ll see a dramatic uptick.

 

Another popular painkiller on the market is oxycodone. This one has been around for decades, but only since the late 1990’s has it become a real threat. Again, take a look at the drastic increases happening at the start of the 2010’s. It’s also interesting to note how much more damage this drug is causing stateside vs. across the pond.

 

And finally we get to Chart #6, which documents that amount of treatment happening for this issue. While the increasing lines are encouraging, they pale in comparison to the amount of spikes seen elsewhere.

 

What this tell us is that America still needs a lot of help (particularly those within the 35 to 44 age range). Knowledge is certainly power when it comes to a crisis like this and we hope that those struggling read the data and get the help they need.

 

Music Artists Unite To Fight Addiction

If you’ve been following our blog then you’re probably aware of MusiCares, a unique charity created by the recording industry to help give back. This month, they are turning their focus to addiction and the drug and alcohol issues that have plagued artists for decades. Calling out tragic deaths like PrinceAmy Winehouse and more recently, Chester Bennington and Chris Cornell, the org is uniting well known names to help open dialogues with their peers.

 

In a recent Forbes article, notable MusiCares reps DJ Steve AokiTravis Barker and Anthony Green spoke out about why this message needs to be amplified.

 

“What can the industry do to help musicians struggling with addiction?” Aoki explained. “I learned it’s a dialog and conversation about addiction and all the incessant drug and alcohol consumption in our world. Being so close to so many of these artists, I’ve hear them talk about sobriety and dealing with it and how it’s an ongoing struggle. That conversation needs to be had. This conversation doesn’t have to be this sit-down, lecturing spiel, because I think that’s why people avoid that, they don’t want to be lectured. I think a lot of the time it’s an issue of shame. But that conversation needs to be had even more, so the dialog is the key to finally pulling the skeletons out of the closet, dealing with the issues.”

 

Former Blink 182 drummer, Barker, echoed that statement, opening up about his own personal struggles.

 

“Sobriety saved my life,” he added. “My only my regret is it didn’t happen sooner. It was sad that it took a plane crash and almost dying to finally sober up. My second chance at life and my kids was enough to never touch drugs again. Being present and sober is something I wouldn’t trade for anything. Music is my drug.”

 

One very public way that these artists are helping to spread the word is with a special Hollywood Bowl concert on October 27. It will be held specifically to honor the memory of Bennington, highlighting the importance of seeking out help for addiction and depression. As we previously mentioned, Bennington took his own life earlier in the summer after continued battles with drug and alcohol abuse.

 

Green also chimed in on this very important issue, explaining tactics his bandmates initiate to help encourage positive thoughts.

 

“In music and touring, the isolation and loneliness is a big thing,” he said. “Everybody from our tour manager to our working manager, we’re all very close. And every day we do this thing as a group on tour, and this kind of started out from the therapy that I learned when I first got sober, we do a group check in. Everybody says their name and then you say what’s going on with you that day, just how you are.”

 

We were definitely impressed with the movement these artists are pushing forward. And if you have the time and available funds, the Chester Bennington tribute could be a great way to show support.

 

Can Lawsuits Help America’s Opioid Crisis?

Often times it’s said that the way to really hurt a company is by hitting them in the pocketbook. And that’s exactly what has been happening across the country as countless legal firms bring lawsuits against the manufacturers of addictive opioids. This is a controversial strategy to say the least, but in many U.S. regions it does seem to be making a dent.

 

OxyContin makers Purdue Pharma, for example, recently had to hand over $24 million in damages to the state of Kentucky. Their attorney general, Andy Beshear, went on record accusing Purdue of playing a critical role in the area’s opioid epidemic. The case targeted eight years, in particular, when Purdue allegedly and (according to Beshear) knowingly released an extra potent strain of their painkiller onto the public.

 

“I’m not looking for punishment, I’m looking for responsibility,” Beshear told local outlets. “And if those companies won’t take responsibility, then I’m going to see them in court.”

 

Since that landmark decision, plaintiffs across Ohio and West Virginia have filed similar suits; targeting everyone from doctors, to pharmacists, to distribution companies and beyond. Both large and small companies have been put in the crosshairs, including Cardinal Health Inc. and Amerisource Bergen Corp, which manufacture similar types of painkillers.

 

Several law professors have pointed out, however, that this tactic could have negative repercussions. For one thing, it may be a stretch of the law to hold a Mom & Pop pharmacy responsible for a state’s opioid crisis (particularly if they weren’t the ones who wrote the prescriptions).

 

Some of the claims have also been questionable, according to several legal analysts. Lawsuit charges have stemmed to include “public nuisance” charges, which tend to get dropped and cause excess headaches and taxpayer dollars. There is also the risk of ongoing frivolous cases, which could send certain companies out of business and deprive real dependent sufferers from the justice they deserve,

 

“I think what we may end up with is something akin to an Oklahoma Land Rush,” an anonymous legal expert went on to say. “Everybody starts piling on and the ones who manage to get judgments early in the process may end up being compensated while the other ones end up not being compensated if the companies go under.”

 

Nevertheless, cases like these are moving forward across the country and are continuing to keep the opioid epidemic on the front pages of news sites. All we can do is hope that they make a real difference.

 

 

Spreading The Word About Mental Illness Awareness Week

Keep an eye out for green ribbons this week; they hold a very special significance for people who are affected by mental health issues. And for the record, that accounts for a large portion of the American population. According to stats in a recent article on TheFix.com, more than 18 percent of all U.S. adults have been diagnosed as such. The ribbons in particular signify love and support, celebrating Mental Illness Awareness Week (which runs from October 1 – 7).

 

Now as an addiction and recovery site, you may wonder why this is an issue we’re touching upon. Well to be honest, mental health and drug and alcohol dependencies are closely intertwined. According to a 2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health; among the 20.2 million American adults who have a substance use disorder, over 5o percent also have co-occurring mental health issues.

 

At facilities like ours, we always keep that in mind and include therapy and counseling as part of the regimen. It is very important to acknowledge diagnoses like bipolar disorder and schizophrenia when working with someone who is battling an addiction. At Valley Recovery Center we provide support through dual diagnoses, which work to address multiple issues with specified treatment and care.

 

And on the flip side, continuous drug and alcohol abuse can trigger mental health disorders. Issues like paranoia, anxiety and depression can all easily be brought on by the over-consumption of substances.

 

Mental illness and addiction combinations can also have dire consequences. For example, roughly 21 percent of all incarcerated Americans have a recent history of mental health issues. And tragically, it is often substance abuse that landed them in jail in the first place.

 

Homelessness is another serious repercussion. As The Fix article went on to explain, 46 percent of all U.S. citizens in homeless shelters live severe mental health issues and/or substance abuse disorders.

 

So how can you do your part to help with Mental Illness Awareness Week? Wearing the green ribbon is a great first step. There is also a Stigma Free Pledge, which lets people show their support by changing perceptions about this issue. People who are suffering should never be shamed or ridiculed. Education is key to overcoming the stereotypes and we encourage our followers to read up on The Pledge.

 

Sharing articles is another great step and we applaud major sites like Buzzfeed for stepping up to the plate and helping to raise awareness. Take a look at the pieces that have been published on their site and do whatever you can to offer those suffering extra love and support.

 

 

10 Signs A ‘Casual Drinker’ Has Gone Too Far

Could there be an exact formula that defines an alcoholic? Perhaps a blend of symptoms that definitively state whether someone who “casually drinks” has taken their habit too far? Well Popular Science has decided to weigh in on that equation, building a 10 point checklist that can supposedly determine if someone is addicted to alcohol.

 

In a recent article on their site, the esteemed tech mag broke down just how prominent this issue is in America. Utilizing facts and figures, they were able to determine that people are drinking more than ever before. In the last 10 years, for example, U.S. alcoholism has seen an increase of 30 percent. In total, 11.2 percent of the entire country is now classified as alcoholics. A scary stat that deserves attention.

 

So that’s exactly what Popular Science decided to do; shining a light on this growing problem and giving people an identifiable list which can offer a self diagnosis. Marc Schuckit, a professor specializing in drug and alcohol abuse at UC San Diego helped contribute to the signal points and believes they are an essential first step in coming to terms with this issue.

 

“Just like people with risk for diabetes should know they may face trouble, people with potential alcohol problems should realize their problems,” he told the site. “It’s just that people don’t always do self evaluation like they should.”

 

So how is the list broken out? Take a look below and see if these points align with your drinking habits…

 

1) Have there been occasions when you ended up drinking more, or longer, than you intended?

2) More than once have you wanted to cut down or stop drinking, or tried to, but couldn’t?

3) Have you spent a lot of time drinking, or being sick or getting over other aftereffects?

4) Have you wanted a drink so badly you couldn’t think of anything else?

5) Have you found that drinking—or being sick from drinking—often interfered with taking care of your home or family, or caused job troubles, or school problems?

6) Have you continued to drink even though it was causing trouble with your family or friends?

7)  Have you given up or cut back on activities that were important or interesting to you, or gave you pleasure, in order to drink?

8) More than once, have you  gotten into situations while or after drinking that increased your chances of getting hurt? 

9) Have you continued to drink even though it was making you feel depressed or anxious?

10) Have you found that when the effects of alcohol were wearing off, you had withdrawal symptoms, such as trouble sleeping, shakiness, restlessness, nausea, sweating, a racing heart, or a seizure?

 

We recommend thinking long and hard about these questions. Even if one or two apply, it may be time to check in with a recovery specialist or, at the very least, a friend or family member.

 

Valley Recovery Center is always available to help if you sense a problem emerging and we can assure you that you will get the help you need. If you’re having doubts after reading this list, please reach out. (866) 986-2486

 

 

Nikki Sixx Pens Moving Recovery Piece For ‘L.A. Times’

You probably know Nikki Sixx as the hard-rocking bassist for the 80’s metal band, Motley Crue. But did you also know that he’s been a staunch recovery advocate for over 10 years? And now he’s taken his message to the pages of The Los Angeles Times, penning a moving op-ed piece about standing up against addiction.

 

Sixx’s article specifically points toward the nation’s opioid epidemic and the lack of support coming from The White House. We found it to be incredibly inspirational and quite intellectual, highlighting some alarming stats and particular failures on the part of President Donald Trump.

 

Sixx starts off his piece with a short bio about his own struggles. Three decades ago, he was battling a devastating heroin addiction that very nearly took his life.

 

Speaking from the heart, we wrote, “Heroin nearly killed me. As a matter of fact, it did: For two minutes in 1987 I was pronounced clinically dead from an overdose. From the outside looking in, I was living the dream. But in reality, I was in the throes of a disease I couldn’t control, addicted to heroin. Today I am 16 years sober and a decade into recovery advocacy.”

 

He goes on to write a stat we’ve echoed many times before. Overdoses from drugs kill more Americans annually than car crashes and gun homicides combined. And in the last four years, heroin deaths have more than doubled in the United States.

 

Trump comes into the picture shortly afterward, with a direct call out to his budget cuts for government-funded recovery programs, prevention and addiction research. Not to mention the fact that the President is pushing for harsher sentences against non-violent drug offenders (vs. treatment).

 

“While [Trump] has promised to declare opioid addiction a national emergency,” Sixx added. “He has also failed to file the proper paperwork. He lies about the causes of the epidemic, blaming Mexico and China when in fact the responsibility belongs to U.S. drug manufacturers and overzealous doctors pushing prescription painkillers.”

 

Sixx closes his piece with a direct call to action. He encourages readers to reach out to their local representatives and urge them to approve a 2018 budget that provides sufficient funding for Medicaid.

 

“We must not make it harder for the most vulnerable addicts to obtain treatment.” he added.

 

Sixx also wants drug manufacturers to be held accountable for the marketing of opioids and better regulations put in place to restrict unnecessary prescriptions. There is also a mention of naloxone and the need for widespread accessibility among emergency medical personnel (something we’ve written about before).

 

We have to say, we very moved by Nikki’s article and encourage all of our followers to take a moment and read it in its entirety. Hopefully it will help amplify the message to those who need to hear it.