National Drug Take-Back Day Happens This Weekend

Mark your calendars. This Saturday, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is pushing out a major movement called National Drug Take-Back Day. The concept is simple. Through media and online promotions, people across the country will be encouraged to dispose of all excess prescription medications in an effort to take a stand against addiction.

 

Several big players will be involved in this initiative too. Google, for example, has created a special online tool that helps users locate where they can make disposals in their neighborhoods. The multi-billion dollar site has actually been making quite a few addiction headlines as of late, particularly for a new stance on the way they promote recovery ads.

 

Company rep Susan Molinari issued a statement about Drug Take-Back Day and the hopes of it putting a dent in America’s opioid crisis.

 

“The DEA has found that one way Americans can help prevent drug abuse and addiction is to properly dispose of unneeded or expired prescription drugs,” she explained. “Yet many people aren’t aware of, or can’t easily find, prescription drug disposal programs in their communities.”

 

The way their particular tool will work involves entering a zip code, then getting directions to up to 5,500 local destinations that accept unused or expired medications. Similar locations were set up last year, but without easy digital accessibility.

 

Though Drug Take-Back Day has been going for a while, it has been gaining some serious momentum in 2018. Last year did bring about a decent amount of publicity, with over 456 tons of prescription drugs collected over an eight hour period.

 

To help spread the word this year, the DEA has launched a Drug Take-Back Day microsite. There you can find a countdown clock, details about the big day and a wide variety of resources for anyone who is suffering from a prescription-based addiction.

 

“Too often, unused prescription drugs find their way into the wrong hands,” the site reads. “That’s dangerous and often tragic. That’s why it was great to see thousands of folks from across the country clean out their medicine cabinets and turn in – safely and anonymously – a record amount of prescription drugs.”

 

We highly encourage everyone to learn more about the event and share the news with others. Unused prescription pills can certainly have negative implications, particularly if your household has someone prone to a dependency.

 

You can find out a few more details about the Saturday initiative via the YouTube clip below…

 

 

List Released Of America’s Most Gambling-Addicted States

Just because Las Vegas is the gambling capital of the country doesn’t mean that other states aren’t being hit hard by betting addictions. With the rise of online gaming, sports wages and Native American casinos, nearly everyone can find their way into a problem. And WalletHub has done a great job of bringing that issue to the forefront, by releasing a list of the country’s “Most Gambling-Addicted States“.

 

Before getting into the details, WalletHub writer Adam McCann broke down some of the alarming stats that are plaguing people nationwide. For one thing, gambling dependencies now affect roughly 1 to 3 percent of all U.S. adults. They also can cost Americans some serious debt, ranging from an average of $55,00 to $90,00 for male addicts (females typically accumulate around $15,000).

 

And who profits off it all? Why big business, of course. McCann went to share that the industry (both online and via casinos) now earns about $100 billion a year. It’s interesting to see which regions are driving that number up and where  our home state of California ranks among the pack.

 

So, the #1 most gambling-addicted state should come as no surprise. It is, of course, Nevada, where booming towns like Las Vegas, Reno and Laughlin are located. Because of its history and statewide legalization laws, it’s up there by a large margin. But once we get into #2 and beyond, the details get a bit more interesting.

 

#2 happens to be South Dakota, nestled right in the American midwest. This state is known for having a large Native American population, which means plentiful casinos between its borders. Tragically, it’s members of the tribes themselves that often find themselves addicted; leading to further problems like drug dependencies and alcoholism.

 

Mississippi is not far behind, ranking in the Top 5. This state has also had a long history with gambling. Famous for their riverboat casinos, this is the most plagued state in the south when it comes to these types of addictions. Oregon is the most gambling-addicted state on the west coast, edging in at #7 (above New Jersey and Atlantic City).

 

And as for our home turf of California? Well thankfully, we’ve got a nice amount of distance from the top. Currently, the golden state is ranked #18 on the list; behind populated areas like New York, Pennsylvania and Illinois. But it’s alarming to see us in the Top 20 and there is a good chance that ranking could go up, with the expansion of online betting sites and Inland Empire casinos.

 

We invite everyone to take a virtual tour of WalletHub’s map. Click below to see how certain regions stack up and please make sure to get help if this is an issue concerning you or a loved one.

 

Source: WalletHub

Addiction Education May Begin In Kindergarten

How early is too early to begin educating children about the dangers of drugs? In Ohio (a state that happens to be hit the hardest by America’s opioid crisis) the answer is six years old and younger. That’s right, local lawmakers are pushing through a movement that could introduce addiction discussions in public school kindergarten classes.

 

Dubbed the Health and Opioid Abuse Prevention Education Program (also known as H.O.P.E.), the new initiative aims to address the very real dangers of drugs for grade school children. Education courses would vary throughout the grades, with kindergarteners receiving early introductory conversations and eighth graders involved in deeper discussions.

 

Topics would gently touch upon everything from addiction in the home, to peer pressure coaching techniques for impressionable pre-teens. So far H.O.P.E. has got some very big backers, including Ohio governor John Kasich.

 

Its development can be traced back to Wright State University professor Kevin Lorson. His approach differs from from traditional drug education programs like D.A.R.E., with an emphasis on real-life scenarios rather than abstinence tactics.

 

“I honestly don’t know if H.O.P.E. is the magic bullet,” Lorson told TheFix.com. “But the focus on these key concepts and skills has given folks a place to rally around.”

 

Obviously, the kindergarten component is generating the highest amount of buzz. Lorson went on to say that there are plenty of delicacies in the way a lesson like this would be handled. Classroom teachers (as opposed to visiting guests) would propose scenarios to the young children, discussing broad topics like refusing medicine from people who have not been identified as “trusted adults.” There would also be conversations about parents who may be struggling and how kindergarteners could express feelings about this in the classroom.

 

Local Ohio principal Elizabeth Braun also chimed in on the program, emphasizing how the classroom can be a “safe place” for young students to open up.

 

“We want our kids to know they are not alone,” she explained. “We want them to know that we really are a safe place. Your parents didn’t make a good decision. You are still going to be okay.”

 

Since its inception, H.O.P.E. has been generating a strong amount of publicity. But so far, there are still a lot of Ohio-based schools who are hesitant to enact it. Local boards have yet to determine whether it can be officially adopted. News on that should be shared in the coming weeks.

 

New Campaign Uses Puppets To Teach About Addiction

Clearly the topic of addiction is something that should be shielded from children (whenever possible). But sometimes it takes a different way of thinking to spread the word about just how devastating this issue can be. So the advertising agency VML Global has decided to give some PSA’s a “Sesame Street” type spin; not to attract kids, but to create a viral conversation starter that brings awareness to America’s opioid epidemic. And true to their mission, VML’s “Mom Overdose” short is getting many major outlets talking.

 

The Washington Post broadcast the video in full and sat down for an interview with its creators. For reference, the complete “Mom’s Had An Overdose” PSA is below…

 

 

As you can see, there are some harsh truths behind it. Perhaps the most jarring component (other than a heroin addicted puppet) is the quote at the end, taken from a real six-year-old girl. “Mom always says, ‘Don’t call an ambulance unless I’m shaking or foaming at the mouth,” it reads. Statements don’t get more honest, than that. And it does accurately represent just how bad the opioid crisis has become.

 

The piece then ends with the line: No child should have to learn a lesson like this. Help break the cycle of addictionfollowed by a treatment web destination.

 

Interestingly enough, VML made this as a series of videos that cover other alarming topics as well. One musically-tinged puppet addresses gun violence, while another confronts gangs. Yet another touches on poverty, all from the angle of innocent children who are unwillingly caught up in the crossfire.

 

“These are lessons that no one should have to learn,” VML CEO Jon Cook told The Post. “So you’ve got to tell them in a format that we use to teach positive lessons — and that’s puppets and that’s ‘Sesame Street.’ ”

 

Though certainly controversial, these ads (for the most part) have received a very positive response. Within the advertising industry, the Clio Awards have taken notice of VML and acknowledged the creativity behind these messages. The clips themselves have now received thousands of YouTube views and when unveiled at a Kansas City fundraising event last month, they earned a standing ovation.

 

We appreciate the fact that VML’s PSA’s do not appear gimicky in the slightest and tell hard truths about addiction. It could have been very easy to take a puppet format and make a mockery of this issue. But, to their credit, VML has done their job creatively, respectfully and (most important) effectively.

 

Funeral Industry Tapped For ‘Scared Straight’ Programs

Nothing can illustrate the ravages of addiction more than a casket with a loved one inside. And tragically, these instances are happening more and more thanks to the surge of overdose deaths caused by America’s opioid crisis. In a drastic attempt to educate users about the dangers of this habit, many funeral directors are now participating in “Scared Straight” programs with the hopes of offering a very harsh reality check.

 

New York funeral director Kevin Moran is one of the leaders of this movement. His parlor has seen more than its share of OD fatalities, which led him to seek out “Scared Straight” and offer his services at high schools and seminars.

 

One of Moran’s more effective tactics is to roll out a lengthy scroll of death certificates, which describe the ages and manors that his countless addicted “clients” lost their lives. Tragically many of them were barely out of school themselves and, as Moran describes, nearly destroyed their loved ones with their dependencies. His lectures often include stories about parents hitting the bodies in the caskets in a fit of anger and frustration. Losing someone in such a senseless way is something many families can never truly get over.

 

“I am the one person you never want to meet,” Moran begins his ‘Scared Straight’ speech with. “And I will do whatever I can to hopefully prevent somebody else from going down this road. Unfortunately, there’s nothing I can do for the person who died. My job now is to help the living.”

 

Indeed, these funeral visits are becoming very effective for attendees of the “Scared Straight” sessions. Many audience members erupt into tears, while others are asked to get up and read from the death certificate scrolls. Moran’s meetings, in particular, usually wind up at capacity and tend to go viral via social media messages and postings.

 

After the lecture, speakers like Moran will participate in Q&A’s and go into the emotional funerals opioid victims tend to have. However, that’s not all. The newer opioid-focused “Scared Straight” experiences also feature users who were formerly jailed for their habits and those who have gone through physical trauma because of their addictions.

 

We understand that this method of recovery awareness isn’t pretty, but in the many years that “Scared Straight” has been in practice it has certainly proven to be effective. And, in our opinion, opioid users (particularly young ones) need to know just how fatal a dependency like this can be.

 

Non-Alcoholic ‘Mocktails’ Are On The Rise

This week, Forbes put out a very interesting article about a new industry that appears to be booming. In a top trending article on their site, they profiled several non-alcoholic spirits companies that are pulling in big business with “mocktail” recipes and bar beverages that remove all liquor from their ingredients list. The mag also did an interesting examination on the recent demand for booze-free drinks and how perceptions are beginning to change across America.

 

One company that Forbes shone the spotlight on was Seedlip. Calling themselves a “non-alcoholic distilled spirit,” this unique brand specializes in healthy, colorful mocktails that it markets to bars and pubs. Simulating the sweet and savory flavors of the more complex alcoholic blends, they put out mixtures for drinks called Garden 108 (which is described has blending sweet green peas with herbal notes) and Spice 94 (which includes spices, cardamom and grapefruit flavors).  According to the article, Seedlip is already raking in big profits and gaining a large online following as well.

 

Forbes writer Elva Ramirez added that many connoisseurs are now more appreciative of the art of drink-making over the actual alcohol content contained therein. Blending flavors that you can casually sip with friends is becoming a much more common experience for people visiting high-end bars (particularly in London).

 

“We’ve noticed the non-drinker has evolved,”  London bar owner Ryan Chetiyawardana told Forbes. “It means you have people not drinking for a multitude of reasons, but they still want to socialize. A company like Seedlip gives you an opportunity to feel part of your group with a drink that feels special and considered, which was lacking before.”

 

And from our perspective, this certainly opens up the door for people who have gone through recovery and still want to appreciate socializing in a happy hour type setting. Often times it can be very alienating (or downright dangerous) for someone newly sober to enter that type of environment. This can lead to them avoiding social situations entirely, which can lead to depression or (ironically) an excuse to drink at home alone.

 

Companies like Seedlip are working hard to change that perception and we applaud them for doing it. Enjoying a nice tasting beverage that uses the same creativity as a cocktail (with celery, hot sauce, pineapple slices or what have you) is certainly an experience that deserves to be enjoyed by all. And by the looks of things, this will start becoming much more common. Forbes is also reporting that America’s trendiest bars, such as the famed Savoy, are now regularly rotating Seedlip mocktails into their menus.

 

Cartels Now Reportedly Cashing In On The Opioid Crisis

For decades, news stories have been publicizing the nefarious actions of America’s drug cartels. Whether it’s cocaine, heroin, or what have you, these organized crime syndicates have built literal empires off of the sales of illegal narcotics. And one new report is highlighting their recent hold on the opioid market, with potentially billions of dollars earned off of black market pills.

 

There is no denying that the opioid crisis has got a serious stranglehold on a large portion of the nation. Tens of thousands are dying from overdoses each year and many more are feeding their habits daily. That’s where the cartels come in, capitalizing on the addictions by selling synthetic painkillers and heroin strains.

 

That, in itself, is an alarming scenario, but what makes things even worse is that the drugs these groups are selling may be responsible for the  country’s increasing overdose rate. One study, published by TheFix.comclaims that between the years 2013 and 2016, deaths from synthetic opioids increased by more than 84 percent.

 

With cravings at all-time high and prescription meds unaccessible to many, these black market opioids are becoming the “go-to drug” of choice for the millions who are dependent. The trouble is, many of the cartels are adding an extra layer of potency to their synthetic products, lacing the pills with heroin and other addictive substances (in the hopes that customers continue to return).

 

Worse yet, according to new data from The Crime Reportseveral other narcotics may be blended into these synthetic batches.

 

“The practice of mixing synthetics into other substances has expanded beyond heroin, with users and dealers mixing synthetics with stimulants like cocaine,”  Report writers shared in their most recent findings. “Transnational criminal organizations have been capitalizing on the nation’s rising opioid dependency by producing and distributing an abundant supply of these illicit and lethal opioids… the nation’s significant efforts to curb the availability of prescription opioids may have shifted demand to more potent, illegal opioids.”

 

One other telling stat from the Report compared the amount of prescription opioid overdoses to those that had come from black market products. Their findings show that prescription overdose fatalities actually decreased over the past few years and that the synthetic OD’s have been responsible for the growing national average.

 

Clearly this merits a strong warning for anyone looking to get their opioid products off of the street. Understand that these blends can be extremely dangerous. If your dependency has gotten to that level, please get help before it’s too late.

 

Google Begins Regulating Treatment Ads

In the modern world, one of the most effective ways of advertising is through the Google search engine. Billions of people use it daily and, through its unique marketing features, anyone who types in a term can see related ads that accompany it. But now, the web giant is aiming to heavily regulate all of the paid treatment messages you see, due to some high-profile scams happening in our industry.

 

Apparently, it was a 2017 article from TheVerge.com that spurred this recent decision. In the piece, writer Cat Ferguson profiled a series of crooked recovery ads that began appearing during “recovery” Google searches. This, in turn, led to people getting scammed out of savings and receiving less than satisfactory treatment.

 

Google’s immediate reaction was to ban the majority of treatment ads (including legitimate ones) throughout its search engine. This began happening late last year in the U.S., followed by similar actions this January in the U.K. This week, however, they announced an update to this policy and a new partnership with the Oregon-based certification program LegitScript.

 

Via LegitScript, Google will now be able to, in their own terms, “vet” addiction treatment centers and differentiate legitimate practices from those it deems as unsatisfactory. LegitScript announced that they will assess facilities based on 15 criteria; including criminal background checks, license verifications and insurance check ups. The company also claims that all advertisers will have to provide “written policies and procedures demonstrating a commitment to best practices.”

 

Google senior product director David Graff spoke out publicly about the partnership, highlighting the importance of proper advertiser vetting (particularly when it comes to addiction recovery).

 

“We work to help healthcare providers — from doctors to hospitals and treatment centers — get online and connect with people who need their help,” Graff said in a press release. “Substance abuse is a growing crisis and has led to deceptive practices by bad actors. This is a complex issue but we believe our partnership with LegitScript is a great first step in the US to help better connect people with the treatment they need.”

 

We, for one, agree with the move and applaud Google for getting a policy in place when recovery clinics choose to advertise. That being said, we are also glad that all previous bans have been lifted because for all of the bad practices that exist, there are plenty of legitimate ones willing to offer help and support.

 

 

Lawmakers Take Action Against ‘Fake Drug Tests’

With the opioid crisis on the rise nationwide, it does make sense for employers to monitor and promote sobriety in the workplace. And for decades now, the common way of carrying that out has been with random on site drug tests. Well, many addicted workers have now found ways to “cheat” that system by using synthetic clean urine whenever the mandate is laid down. Truth be told, that scenario hurts everybody because the job now has impaired employees and the ones “faking the tests” are continuing to use.

 

Lawmakers have taken note of that fact and, with the rise of inaccurate workplace drug tests, are now passing legislation that prohibits the sale of synthetic urine. Both Indiana and New Hampshire have pushed through these regulations, including criminal charges for any type of fake drug test result.

 

And up until now, it was actually quite easy to obtain fake urine samples; particularly online. Smoke shops also commonly sell the product, which employees can then take to the workplace and swap in if asked for a sample.

 

David Powell, executive director of the Indiana Prosecuting Attorney’s Council, spoke openly about the need for synthetic urine bans. As he put it, products like these serve no practical purpose.

 

“If it’s your job or you’re going to probation or you’re going to lose your kids, a lot of those folks will do anything to pass a drug test,” he told a local news outlet. “People can basically use it to avoid consequence with their employers and probation officers. There’s just no other legitimate purpose for it.”

 

Indeed, these types of products can also be used for people on probation or parents who have been neglectful of their children. Getting away with urine “cheats” only further the bad habits.

 

According to recent articles in The Washington Post and The New York Times, it’s mainly blue collar workers have been caught with fake urine on the job. Truck drivers, in particular, have been singled out as having heavy purchase behaviors and that, in itself, could be very dangerous if they choose to use and get on the highway.

 

We all know that a dependency can cloud people’s judgment, but it is critically important to not “cheat” your way out of doing honest work. If you find yourself impaired on the job, no matter how you make your living, take a beat, come clean and get the help you need.

 

Warning Issued For Fentanyl-Laced Cocaine

We certainly don’t need to go into the horrific overdose rates brought about by the nation’s opioid addiction crisis. But recently, a much more dangerous mixture has entered the equation and may soon be responsible for an increase in painkiller-related fatalities. We’re talking about “Speedballs,” aka fentanyl-laced cocaine.

 

For the record, “speedball” cocktails have been around for decades. In fact, it was a similar mixture that took the life of comedian John Belushi back in the 1980’s. Though traditionally comprised of heroin and cocaine, the “speedball 2.0’s” of today blend the pain medication fentanyl with bags of coke and the results continue to be extremely deadly.

 

Ohio Health Department rep Dr. Mark Hurst spoke publicly about the rising issue and put out a stern warning to anyone curious to blend the drugs. “The potency of fentanyl is 50 times that of heroin,” he explained. “And so it’s even more lethal in a dose than heroin would be.”

 

Ohio, as we’ve reported before, is one of the states hardest hit by the crisis. In 2017 alone, 4,000 of their citizens died due to opioid-related causes. And according to recent stats, it’s on track to lose more 5,000 lives this year. Connecticut is another state deeply engulfed in speedball usage. Per a recent NPR article, it has seen a 420 percent increase in the number of fatalities involving cocaine/fentanyl combinations.

 

One of the more common scenarios for the new speedball concoction includes laced cocaine, that is then smoked. But it can include syringes and snorting overdoses. There is also a more ominous scenario that law enforcement officials are concerned about. They have been seeing more and more cases of victims unknowingly OD’ing on fentanyl-laced cocaine. And one of the theories is that suppliers are intentionally adding opioid elements into their coke batches to make the product more addictive.

 

“People who were just using cocaine occasionally, now they’re using cocaine every day,” a spokesman told NPR reporters. “It’s all about making them [drug users] need the product.”

 

And for that reason, cops nationwide are going public with warnings to anyone who may regularly purchase narcotics.

 

“We don’t want to cause widespread panic, but with how deadly fentanyl is, we really need to get the word out there that it could potentially be in every batch of cocaine, just like we tell everyone to approach heroin like it could potentially have fentanyl,” the rep added.

 

In our opinion, this warning should be spread locally as well and work as a wake up call for anyone battling what they believe is a “casual addiction.” Know now that one bad batch of drugs can now have very serious consequences.

 

MyPillow Becomes Sobriety Success Story

For those who think it’s difficult to turn your life around after an addiction, we give to you the story of MyPillow. This unique startup, which sells sleep items via TV commercials, is now worth $300 million thanks to founder (and recovery advocate) Mike Lindell.

 

Lindell recently spoke to TheFix.com, offering insights into his inspiring recovery story and the business that transformed his life. As of 2018, MyPillow has sold over 30 million units and is regularly rotated into the Home Shopping Network and several cable shows. Lindell, himself, appears in the ads, sharing the benefits of his signature sleep products.

 

But before his success, Lindell battled a severe crack cocaine addiction which nearly cost him his life. As he explained to TheFix, throughout the 1980’s and 1990’s he found himself awake at all hours; high off a variety of stimulants. He wound up losing his home, his marriage and nearly all of his savings.

 

“I was buying regularly from three of the biggest dealers in [Minneapolis],” Lindell told the site. “Then I had one prayer one night: ‘God, I want to wake up in the morning and never have the desire again.’ I woke up the next day—and you’ve got to realize this is years of crack addiction—I go, ‘Wow, something’s different.’”

 

Ironically, it was his all night benders that partially inspired his multi-million dollar business. After getting completely sober, Lindell had the idea of creating products that would help people sleep better. Starting from scratch, he created the MyPillow business model and ultimately went from employing five people to 500.

 

Part of MyPillow’s success comes from Lindell’s personality. Early on, he chose to be the brand’s official spokesman and starred in a series of infomercials, which he said helped him “comes across as an average guy, talking to his neighbor.”

 

Lindell has actually made a few different headlines lately, particularly for his support of President Trump and sponsorships of Fox News programs. But that is something he firmly stands behind, claiming, “advertising decisions are based on what’s best for MyPillow, my employees and my customers.”

 

As we’ve said on this blog many times, addiction and treatment are universal issues which go way beyond people’s political leanings. They impact everyone and we are happy to applaud recovery advocates from all sides of the aisle. We can also certainly appreciate anyone who’s overcome a dependency and continued to pursue their dreams.

 

Gambling Addiction On The Rise Among Teens

A few decades back, it never seemed feasible that children could fall prey to a gambling addiction. With casinos enforcing strict “21 And Over” policies and hard regulations for lottery ticket sales, it just wasn’t a legitimate concern. Now, however, the accessibility of online betting is beginning to change that scenario and illustrating a sharp spike in young gamblers, particularly between the ages of 12 to 17.

 

According to recent stats provided by NBC affiliate WHEC, 39 percent of kids under the age of 18 have tried gambling. Astonishingly, 30 percent say they’ve placed bets before the age of 10. And the number one culprit of it all? You guessed it. Online apps and websites; full of slot machines, poker games and sports wagering.

 

WHEC’s study points the finger at several of these sites’ operators. Often times, they are disguised as gaming destinations and hide their true nature with colorful characters and movie tie-ins. But don’t be fooled, addiction specialist Jennifer Faringer warns. These are dangerous gateways into overspending.

 

“When kids start to gamble, often they don’t even realize they’re gambling because they call it gaming,” Faringer explained to the outlet. “These are almost practice sites for kids to teach them essentially how to gamble. They’re doing it initially for no money and then they experience wins. Then all of a sudden there’s an opportunity that pops up and says now enter your credit card number and you can turn those wins into financial wins… then the game flips.”

 

Several doctors interviewed for the piece have tied this type of behavior with teenage depression. They believe that these online bets are somewhat of a “silent addiction” since, unlike drugs or alcohol, they don’t cause users to exhibit outward personality shifts.

 

And let the record state that it is 100 percent illegal to place bets online if you are under the age of 18. Many children are committing fraud with this type of behavior, borrowing family credit cards and lying about their ages. The piece goes on to warn parents about suspicious charges on their bills, as well as a drop in academic performance.

 

WHEC reporters shared warning signs and new research in an online clip about underage gambling. We’ve posted it below and certainly advise any parent (or teen) who is struggling, to watch it in full and reach out for the appropriate help.

Boston Medical Center Offers Recovery Cooking Classes

Eating right is certainly an important part of treatment process. Cleansing the body with a detox diet, focusing on health and removing internal toxins can do wonders for people who are curbing a serious addiction.  And over in New England, Boston Medical Center is taking that concept one step further with recovery cooking classes designed to help those overcoming drug and alcohol abuse.

 

Titled “Cooking for Recovery,” the special regimen has been getting national attention thanks to a major story by ABC News. One of their writers went so far as to interview the class’s executive director, learning about how this simple concept has turned into a major success story.

 

“Good health care is about more than just direct clinical services,” Cooking for Recovery rep Michael Botticelli told the outlet. “Recovery is not just about stopping the use of alcohol and drugs, it’s about how do we return people to a sense of wellness and a sense of well-being.”

 

Botticelli also let cameras into one of the sessions, which featured former recovery patient Felicha Young breaking out gourmet utensils. The in-class demonstration included homemade chicken and pasta recipes, utilizing fresh ingredients and delicate preparations.

 

Posing side-by-side with professional chef Tracey Burg, Felicha took charge of the entire meal; cutting vegetables, adding spices and getting elements ready for the oven. Burg served as an advisor and advocate, helping Young focus her energies on creating a masterful meal. She also gave healthy suggestions on ways to enhance the food, bringing along brown rice, whole grains and a take home cookbook.

 

“A lot of people who are getting over alcoholism or drug addiction, their gut is a wreck because all their healthy bacteria has been destroyed,” Burg went on to tell ABC. “But eating fiber is actually feeding the healthy bacteria in the gut … and it helps to bring back that healthy microbiome. So nutrition plays many roles in the healing process.”

 

So far, Boston Medical Center has seen some very positive results from the program. Treatment regimens like this offer benefits in multiple ways. For starters, they teach patients to switch over to healthier, more well-balanced diets. They also create an outlet and a distraction for people who constantly used. Now, they can focus their energies on creative meal preparations and gain satisfaction from a job well done.

 

We, for one, are big advocates of eating right during recovery. If you visit our online Staff Page, you’ll see we have a private chef and dieticians on our team who are dedicated towards providing a premium mind/body experience.

 

Job Loss And The Opioid Crisis

You may not think America’s opioid epidemic is affecting you directly, but the truth is you’re wrong. Even if no one in your inner circle is facing a painkiller dependency (which is becoming more and more rare), you are beginning to feel its effects in the U.S. economy and in the job market. New research from The American Action Forum emphasizes that point even more, revealing that nearly 1 million people were not working in 2015 because of the crisis.

 

The Action Forum has actually been watching this trend for a while. Dating back to 1999, they showed that year after year, an increasing amount of Americans lost their jobs because of a dependency. The 2015 stat measured people between the ages of 25 to 54 and put the grand total at approximately 919,400 let go because of addiction.

 

Worse yet, within that 16-year span between the late 1990’s and the mid-2010’s; it is believed that workforce issues cost the U.S. economy as much as $702 billion. This data also mirrors more recent analyses, including one from Princeton University which showed that a good portion of 2017’s 20 percent workforce decline can be attributed to opioid addiction.

 

Ben Gitis, one of the co-authors of the American Action study, believes that billions of work hours were lost over the decades because of this. He also thinks this could have serious repercussions on taxpayers and America at large.

 

“It’s something we hear companies talk about all the time, not being able to have workers pass drug tests and being unable to simply get workers to apply because they know they won’t pass the drug test,” Gitis told TheFix.com. “It was really important that we get a sense of what the magnitude of this could be. The opioid crisis is a major health issue and the overdose fatalities by themselves suggest how big of a problem it is. But it’s also a major constraint on our economy.”

 

And as we’ve mentioned in previous articles, it’s not just blue collar workers who are affected by this crisis. Millions of experienced professionals (such as doctors, attorneys and Wall Street traders) are in the midst of it as well, with an impact on virtually every industry throughout the U.S.

 

America’s opioid crisis is very real and it is happening on a much closer level than most people realize. If you or someone you are close is struggling with a painkiller dependency, reach out and get the help that’s needed.

 

‘WIRED’ Explores Tech And Recovery

WIRED isn’t a magazine you initially think of when it comes to addiction and recovery. The famed tech publication is much more famous for delivering stories about Google or programatic algorithms. But interestingly enough, this month they did do an expose on substance abuse and the popular smartphone apps that are helping millennials get clean.

 

Truth be told, the WIRED piece does take a hard stance against traditional recovery methods (something we happen to disagree with). But, read a little deeper and there are some insightful nuggets about the downloadable content that can help people through difficult addictions; particularly when it comes to opioid abuse.

 

Classifying these types of smartphone downloads in one general category, WIRED writer Zachary Siegel pointed out what is being called the “mHealth” movement. Short for mobile health, this section of the app store is focused on technology-based treatment methods that utilize everything from Skype to daily alarm reminders. Siegel also points out that a majority of these programs are designed by clinical researchers and based off scientific evidence.

 

He broke down his basic philosophy on mHealth below…

 

The premise of mobile treatment apps is that there’s nothing magical about treating addiction,” Siegel writes. “There’s no moment when the clouds part and a spiritual awakening takes hold. Curbing addiction is much like stopping a bad habit or shifting any deeply ingrained behavior; it takes time, support, and constant effort to change. You’re on your phone all day, the apps suggest, why not curb a harmful behavior, without missing work for three months? They allow for time and room for the messy process of addiction to slowly untangle: You don’t need to wait until the problem gets worse, they suggest, you can get help now.

 

Apps he chose to focus on in the article include Annum and Ria Health, which focus specifically on alcoholism. These particular downloads remove the human element of recovery and operate via push notifications, alerts and texts. Siegel lumped these into the “less severe addiction” category, highlighting them for people struggling and still able to hold a job.

 

Other apps featured include WeConnect, Sober Grid and Triggr Health, which use “machine learning” to predict when a patient may be headed for a relapse. Siegel did admit that this world can be quite overwhelming, with more than 10,000 downloads competing in the mHealth space. But if they are able to make a difference in someone’s day-to-day life, more power to them.

 

We, of course, prefer the old fashioned method of recovery.

 

Opioid Overdose Exhibit To Open In D.C.

Within the past decade, tens of thousands of Americans have lost their lives because of opioid and painkiller addictions. And now, the National Safety Council is aiming to address that with a special “Overdose Exhibit” set to debut at the White House this month. The temporary art piece will be on full display for D.C. visitors and feature a wall of 22,000 faces, representing the people who died.

 

For the record, the exhibit (titled “Prescribed To Death“) has the full backing of President Donald Trump.

 

“I encourage all to visit [the exhibit] and remember those who we have lost to this deadly epidemic,” he posted on his Twitter page. “We will keep fighting until we defeat the opioid crisis!”

 

Not surprisingly, Trump’s support has led to an online backlash regarding the exhibit. Those who oppose it, deem the art piece to be insensitive to the plight of those addicted. Their argument is that the piece isn’t taking any solid action against the crisis. There are also questions about the way overdose victims are portrayed. This “work of art” features individual faces engraved on tiny white pills.

 

“Dehumanizing the victims of overdose by reducing them to faces on a pill is absurd,” recovery advocate Carol Katz Beyer told TheFix.com. “Our children are first and foremost family members who are human beings that reflect many interests and a diverse range of talents. We would never shun or dishonor the death of anyone with another health condition by placing that singularly stigma-ridden attachment to their face.”

 

Bill Williams, another advocate who lost a child to the criss, echoed that sentiment. “Those ‘pills’ look like tiny death masks to me,” he exclaimed. “To me the issue is Trump co-opting this wall. He’s had nothing to do with it. It’s cynical on his part to do anything more than to suggest it is worth a visit.”

 

Other criticisms include an inaccurate total of those lost to the epidemic (numbers align closer to 42,000 vs. 22,000) and a lack of awareness for people who OD’d on fentanyl, heroin and other opioid strains. Those are all points well taken, but in our opinion, if something like this helps get an additional headline out about the crisis, more power to it.

 

To find out more about the exhibit, and the artists behind it, you can visit the official National Safety Council site by clicking here.