Category Archives: Substance Abuse Rampage

Addict Advocacy-Opioid Crisis

Overall, it seems as if addict advocacy, lobbying their service providers, and for society as a whole has become a zero-sum game.  The opioid crisis thrives.

There are apparently sides to be taken in a battle of “us” versus “them.” There have been and always will be addicts amongst us.

There will always be drug providers (be it at the street level, at the liquor store, the marijuana dispensary, or those who have medical degrees and write prescriptions for pills). There will always be prejudice. Their will always be a lack of sense of community when fear and mistrust is involved. The addicts and their families want to blame the healthcare industry. Society wants to blame the treatment industry. They want to blame anyone but themselves. We want to blame them as being morally inferior and mentally weak.

They have a comprehensive and robust report from the U.S. Surgeon General, unequivocally identifying addiction as a national disease. We have an independent Grand Jury investigation, Sober Homes Task Force Report, and extensive local investigative reporting from a multitude of press outlets, The Palm Beach Post in particular, identifying an overwhelmingly fraudulent industry that seems to have an insatiable appetite for consuming its own class of people.

Maybe we are all wrong, that the march towards decriminalization and deinstitutionalization of the addict has been a social experiment mistake? Maybe addicts need to be isolated from society for their own good? Perhaps the “integration” mandate of the Americans with Disabilities Act really did not take into consideration that the disabled in a wheelchair may really be different in kind than the disabled on heroin?

Maybe we do need to reopen and reexamine the ADA, not to discriminate, but because there now is clearly a different set of facts that requires a different modality of response?

While I subscribe to the inherently American values of individualism and self-responsibility, we must put aside philosophical differences and recognize the clear science that the modern opioid epidemic is a terrorist that hijacks the mind, body and spirit.

Even without the misuse of substances, what is true for all Americans is that greed is the most tolerated yet the most destructive addiction of them all.

We cannot demand that someone do something about “those addicts” but then refuse to offer the necessary funding, resources, infrastructure, housing, and services to care for this population, and we can therefore neither blame the addicts nor the treatment provider. We are the adults in the room. We cannot blame the unsupervised children for playing with matches and burning down the house.

If the disease of addiction is truly a public health crisis, rather than the now debunked theory that it is a moral failing, we seem to be left with only one choice – double our efforts, buckle down, and fix this system once and for all. Not later, not when it is more politically palatable. Now. We no longer have the luxury of time.

Heroin Overdoses

Heroin Overdoses In Florida

We need rehabilitation, education and support to fight this epidemic. It is killing people of all ages and demographics.

It’s not a city or rural problem, or particular type of people problem; addiction does not discriminate.

Please speak out and become part of the solution.

Substance Abuse Rampage: Report & NIH Update

NIH Report

A sobering report from the National Institute of Health offers an even more in-depth look at the potentially tragic effects of alcohol consumption, including cardiomyopathy, arrhythmias, stroke, alcoholic hepatitis, fibrosis, cirrhosis, and a higher risk for mouth, esophagus, throat, liver, and breast cancer. According to the Centers for Disease Control, excessive drinking kills about 88,000 Americans per year—making it the third-leading cause of lifestyle-related cause of death in the U.S.
But it’s not just getting wasted that’s dangerous. Just this week the British Journal of Medicine released a study showing that even one small alcoholic beverage per day can raise your risk of heart disease—findings which call into question the concept that drinking reduces one’s risk of heart disease.

The results are the first of their kind to show how young adults’ drinking on a single occasion can affect their social status—and run in direct conflict to a plethora of studies on the negative impacts for the Americans who took part in 1.5 billion episodes of binge drinking from 1993 to 2001, according to a study from JAMA.

So while men and women who drink the heaviest may have benefitted short term—they’re likely to pay for it in the long run. In a recent American Journal of Pediatrics study, researchers found underage binge drinking is a direct contribution to the three leading causes of death—unintentional injury, homicide, and suicide. Those who binge-drank were more likely to report poor school performance, sexual assault, attempted suicide, and the use of illicit drugs

SUBSTANCE ABUSE STATISTICS

Like physical illnesses, mental and substance use disorders cost money and lives if they are not prevented, are left untreated, or are poorly managed. Their presence exacerbates the cost of treating co-morbid physical diseases (1) and results in some of the highest disability burdens in the world for people, families, businesses, and governments.( 2)

The impact on America’s children, adults, and communities is enormous:
The annual total estimated societal cost of substance abuse in the United States is $510.8 billion. (3)

By 2020, behavioral health disorders will surpass all physical diseases as a major cause of disability worldwide. (4)

In 2008, an estimated 9.8 million adults aged 18 and older in the United States had a serious mental illness. Two million youth aged 12 to 17 had a major depressive episode during the past year. (5)

In 2009, an estimated 23.5 million Americans aged 12 and older needed treatment for substance use. (6)

Half of all lifetime cases of mental and substance use disorders begin by age 14 and three-fourths by age 24. (7)

References:

1 Stein, M. B., Cox, B. J., Afefi, T. O., et al. (2006). Does co-morbid depressive illness magnify the impact of chronic physical illness? A population based perspective. Psychological Medicine, 36, 587–596.

2 World Health Organization (WHO). (2004). Prevention of mental disorders: Effective interventions and policy options. Summary report. Geneva, Switzerland: WHO.

3 Miller, T., & Hendrie, D. (2009). Substance abuse prevention dollars and cents: A cost-benefit analysis (DHHS Pub. No. SMA 07-4298). Rockville, MD: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Center for Substance Abuse Prevention.

4 World Health Organization (WHO). (2004). Promoting mental health: Concepts, emerging evidence, practice. Summary report. Geneva, Switzerland: WHO. Retrieved March 25, 2011, from http://www.who.int/mental_health/evidence/en/promoting_mhh.pdf

5 Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). (2009). Results from the 2008 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: National findings. (Office of Applied Studies, NSDUH Series H-36, DHHS Publication No. SMA 09-4434). Rockville, MD: SAMHSA.

6 Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). (2010). Results from the 2009 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: Vol. I. Summary of national findings. (Office of Applied Studies, NSDUH Series H-38A, DHHS Publication No. SMA 10-4856Findings). Rockville, MD: SAMHSA.

7 Kessler, R. C., Berglund, P., Demler, O., Jin, R., Merikangas, K. R., & Walters, E. E. (2005). Lifetime prevalence and age-of-onset distributions of DSM-IV disorders in the National Comorbidity Survey Replication. Archives of General Psychiatry, 62(6), 593–602.

8 World Health Organization (WHO). (2004). Promoting mental health: Concepts, emerging evidence, practice. Summary report. Geneva, Switzerland: WHO. Retrieved March 25, 2011, from http://www.who.int/mental_health/evidence/en/promoting_mhh.pdf