Mental Health and Loneliness Epidemic in America

mental health

After months of living life in a unique way, it’s hard to quantify what the lasting impacts of the coronavirus pandemic will be regarding the American psyche. While several states have begun phasing into reopening businesses, life is hardly back to normal for people from every walk of life, including millions of members of the addiction and mental health recovery community.

If you have been following the endless COVID-19 news cycle, then you are aware that many of the states which made attempts to return to a semblance of life before the pandemic have reaped severe consequences.

The result of such actions – despite stimulating our economy – led to a dramatic surge in new cases and subsequent coronavirus related deaths. The Southwest and western states have been particularly impacted. Texas, Florida, Arizona, and California have all seen spikes in new cases in recent weeks.

While it’s challenging to predict what’s to follow in the coming days and months, most Americans will likely need to continue practicing social distancing and following stay at home orders. Experts continue to argue that the above actions are essential in slowing the spread of the virus.

With tens of millions of Americans still out of work, 2,442,395 people who’ve tested positive, and 123,092 coronavirus-related deaths, it stands to reason that we will all continue to contend with life in isolation. In previous articles, we’ve discussed the repercussions of prolonged separation from other humans. We’ve also talked about how loneliness can take a toll on people in recovery who depend on support networks for maintaining their program.

Loneliness Epidemic During a Public Health Pandemic

Many of you might find it hard to believe that, according to the most recent census, 35.7 million Americans live alone. Such individuals do not have the benefit of sheltering in place with friends and family members. Naturally, mental health experts have severe concerns about the stress caused by prolonged social distancing. Such professionals are particularly concerned about members of society with pre-existing mental health conditions.

A cohort of physicians from Boston Children’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School believe we could witness a significant spike in suicides in the near future, TIME reports. The doctors published an article in the Annals of Internal Medicine that pandemic-related isolation, stress, and a surge in firearm sales could exacerbate the decade-long suicide epidemic in America.

It’s worth noting that the United States was already contending with a loneliness epidemic long before COVID-19 arrived in America. A recent report from Cigna suggested that around 60 percent of American adults felt some degree of loneliness before the pandemic. Moreover, about 25 percent of women and 30 percent of men said they felt coronavirus-related loneliness, according to a SocialPro survey.

Loneliness, says Dr. Carla Perissinotto, a geriatrician at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), is “the subjective feeling of isolation.” While loneliness is not a mental health disorder listed in the official diagnostic manual for mental health disorders (DSM-), it usually goes hand in hand with many disorders, such as depression, anxiety, and substance use disorder.

This is a huge topic, but it’s been kind of sidelined,” Perissinotto says. “Now everyone is forced to look at this in a different way. We can’t keep ignoring this.”

People in Mental Health and Addiction Recovery Must Reach Out

Individuals who contend with mental health or addiction or both cannot ignore the toll that prolonged isolation has on their well-being. There are online resources available for attending mutual support groups like Alcoholics Anonymous, but virtual attendance may not be enough for some people.

If you are struggling with life in isolation or feel that it’s causing mental illness symptoms to emerge or worsen, please make a concerted effort to keep in close contact with your peers. Those living in isolation may also be feeling the urge to use drugs and alcohol to cope. However, acting on the urge to use will only make your current situation worse.

A relapse will make it far harder to weather the pandemic storm and could have disastrous consequences during these troubling times. Accessing therapeutic treatments and professional help is perhaps more challenging than ever. If you find yourself battling the desire to use, then you must contact your sponsor and other peers immediately to prevent a worst-case scenario from arising.

Mental Health and Addiction Treatment for Men

At PACE Recovery Center, we fully understand how trying life is of late and that many Americans are living in isolation while contending with mental illness and active addiction. The professional team at PACE specializes in treating men who are in the grips of mental health disorders and alcohol or substance use disorder.

Please contact us today to learn more about how we can help you or a loved one get on the path to lasting recovery. Our team is available around the clock, and we are still accepting new patients. Please call us today at 800-526-1851.

Pain Medication: Tolerance, Dependence, and Addiction

tolerance, dependence, and addiction

Overuse and abuse of pain medications continue to be major issues in the US. People who are prescribed pain medication for injuries or illnesses can develop a tolerance, dependence, and addiction to those drugs. While medications can help you deal with pain, they are not a cure and are designed only to guide you through a specific recovery period. Tolerance, dependence, and addiction happen when the pain medication is misused or overused.

Overdoses

Taking too much of a prescription medication or an illegally obtained pain medication can lead to an overdose. In 2018, more than 67,300 people in the US died from drug-involved overdoses. Death rates from opioid-involved overdoses rose from 21,088 in 2010 to 46,802 in 2018. Death rates from prescription opioid overdoses rose from 3,442 in 1999 to 14,975 in 2018.

Understanding Tolerance, Dependence, and Addiction

There is a difference between tolerance, dependence, and addiction. Tolerance means that you continuously need higher doses of the pain medication to achieve the same effect as when you first began taking it. Your body develops a tolerance to the effects of the pain medication and doesn’t respond as well unless you continue to take more. This can also lead to an overdose.

When you are dependent on a drug, it means that if you don’t have it your body will go through withdrawal. You can experience physical and mental symptoms in withdrawal. Some of these symptoms may be mild – for example, if you decide to give up caffeine, you may experience some level of discomfort. However, others can have life threatening consequences, such as would be the case if you stop using a prescription pain reliever without professional supervision.

Many people who take a prescription medicine every day over a long period of time can become dependent; when they go off the drug, they need to do it gradually, to avoid withdrawal discomfort. Dependence typically happens when you use a drug long-term (six months or longer) to manage pain associated with a medical condition. Your body builds up a tolerance to the pain medication and then you become dependent on it to maintain the same level of effectiveness.

Addiction is a chronic, treatable disease. When you continue to use a pain medication and do not feel as though you can stop despite any negative consequences you may be facing, you have an addiction. You can be dependent or have a tolerance for a drug and not necessarily be addicted.

Addiction can have devastating, life-long consequences if not properly treated. Also known as a substance use disorder, addiction results in compulsive behaviors as well as an inability to control the use of the pain medication. Although addiction and dependence are different, when you are addicted to opioids, you are also typically dependent on them.

Addictive Pain Medications

According to Dr. Karsten Kueppenbender, an addiction psychiatrist at Harvard-affiliated McLean Hospital, “ninety-seven percent of patients don’t have a problem with opioids.” However, there are pain medications that can lead to tolerance, dependence, and addiction.

Opioids decrease the perception of pain and create a feeling of euphoria for some people, especially those who take the pain medication even though they are not actually in pain. Opioids are typically used for the short term, to treat severe pain following surgery. They may also be used for some long-term pain, such as pain related to cancer and terminal illness.

Opioids are a family of drugs that include:

  • Codeine
  • Fentanyl (including brand name Duragesic)
  • Oxycodone (including brand name OxyContin, Percocet, Percodan, Tylox, and Roxicet)
  • Morphine (including brand name MS Contin)
  • Meperidine (including brand name Demerol)
  • Hydrocodone (including brand name Vicodin and Lortab)
  • Hydromorphone (including brand name Dilaudid)

At Risk for Addiction

Even though some people can safely take pain medications that are properly prescribed by their physician without developing a tolerance, dependence, or addiction, there are factors that can predict your vulnerability to becoming addicted to pain medication, including:

  • Family history of problem substance use
  • Misuse of other substances
  • Other risky behaviors (such as problem gambling)
  • Past history of problem substance use

Additionally, undiagnosed or untreated mental health issues, such as depression, can predict an eventual reliance on substances for self-medicating tendencies that, in turn, only make the issue worse.

Contact PACE for Comprehensive Addiction Treatment

At PACE Recovery, we’ve helped hundreds of men enter into a life of recovery from opiate addiction through a combination of traditional and alternative therapeutic methods. If you are in the downward spiral of a pain medication addiction, contact PACE today to begin your life-changing journey. You can reach our highly trained staff at any time by calling 800-526-1851 to learn more about our programs, admission, insurances accepted, and availability.

Substance Use Disorders and Adoption

substance use disorders and adoptionWhen kids are adopted, it can be a life-changing event. Children who are born into unsafe environments or whose parents cannot or choose not to take care of them properly can benefit tremendously from being adopted into a caring, loving family. Being adopted, though, can also mean that the child experiences an underlying struggle between logic and emotion. Research has found a link between substance use disorders and adoption that is connected to that struggle.

Increase in Adoptions

Researchers at Pew state that a record number of children in foster care are being adopted. In 2018, more than 63,000 kids were adopted from foster care, an increase of nearly a quarter from four years earlier. The percentage of children leaving foster care for adoption has increased from 21% in 2014 to more than 25% in 2018. A total of 135,000 children are adopted each year and there are currently 1.5 million adopted children in the US today. The increase in adoptions is good news in that these children are in more stable homes, but the increase is also in part a reflection of the devastating effects of the opioid crisis in this country.

Substance Use Disorders

Research has found a connection between substance use disorders and adoption, in that adoptees have a higher rate of substance use disorders than non-adoptees. The studies demonstrated an increased risk of lifetime substance use disorders in adopted adults. The odds ratios were found to be high for both abuse and dependence, of both alcohol and drugs.

In a separate study conducted in Sweden, researchers found that 4.5 percent of adopted individuals had problems with drug abuse, compared with 2.9 percent of the general population. Adoptees who had at least one biological parent who abused drugs had drug abuse problems at more than twice the percentage, 8.6 percent, of people whose biological parents did not have drug abuse issues, 4.2 percent.

Contributing Factors

Genetics and environment have been found to be contributing factors in the connection between substance use disorders and adoption as well. Genetic risk factors include alcoholic and psychiatric disorders in biological parents. Children who experienced fetal alcohol effects, alcoholic adoptive parents, and multiple pre-adoption placements were also more prone to substance use disorders. Psychological factors unique to adopted children also contribute to the increased rate of substance use disorders.

Adoption Trauma

One of the underlying causes of substance use disorders is unresolved adoption trauma, rooted in the shock and pain of being permanently separated from a person’s biological family. The birth parents as well as the child being adopted can suffer from adoption trauma. The level of mental and emotional challenges can depend on the child’s age and maturity level when adopted. Unresolved emotional pain arising from the separation can lead to an increased use of drugs or alcohol as unhealthy coping mechanisms in an attempt to alleviate the symptoms.

Awareness and Treatment

Understanding the underlying causes can help the adopted person become more aware of the potential for substance use disorders as well as prevention and treatment options. Recognizing early signs and symptoms and taking steps to get help can reduce the damage and increase the chance of recovery among adoptees who are experiencing an addition to drugs or alcohol.

Resources that can help the healing process include the adoption-related treatment program at PACE Recovery. Therapy can alleviate the adoption trauma and treat the underlying issues that contribute to substance abuse. Treatment options can include Gestalt therapy, attachment-focused therapy, and emotion-focused therapy. Social skills training and specialized support groups can also benefit the adoptee significantly.

People who are adopted may feel rejected by their biological family or pained by their own history. Treatment focused on support, education, and advocacy can help them work through their vulnerability and fear, facilitating healing and healthy discussions about their adoption. Treatment for substance use disorders for adoptees must first address their insecurities and inconsistent attachment styles.

Gender-Specific Addiction Recovery Center

The professionals at PACE Recovery Center understand that the struggles you may encounter as an adoptee can manifest as anxiety, depression, and unhealthy coping mechanisms, including anger and substance abuse. Please contact PACE Recovery Center if you have been adopted or an adoptive parent and struggle with alcohol, drugs, and mental illness. Our gender-specific, evidence-based addiction recovery center for men will help you begin the healing process and begin a remarkable journey. Our highly skilled team is adhering to COVID-19 guidelines to ensure you remain safe. You can reach us today at 800-526-1851.

June is Men’s Health Month | Men and Mental Health

Men’s Health Month

June marks the beginning of summer, the Father’s Day holiday, and a focus on men’s health. This month, men are encouraged to take better care of themselves, physically and mentally. Men’s Health Month features a number of activities designed to bring attention to the need for men to get checkups, to become more physically active, and to learn more about caring for themselves. A focus on men and mental health is especially important during these challenging times.

Men’s Health Month

Men’s Health Month was established in 1994, during the month of June to coincide with Father’s Day. The goal is to heighten the awareness of preventable health problems and encourage early detection and treatment of disease among men and boys. This month gives health care providers, public policy makers, the media, and individuals an opportunity to encourage men and boys to seek regular medical advice and early treatment for disease and injury.

The focus on men’s health, and particularly on men and mental health, is critical. The Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion states that on average, men die five years younger than women, and die at higher rates from nine of the top ten causes of death

Mental Illness in the US

Mental health can often affect physical health and vice versa. The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) states that nearly one in five U.S. adults live with a mental illness (46.6 million in 2017). Mental illnesses include many different conditions that vary in degree of severity, ranging from mild to moderate to severe.

In general, women experience mental illness at a higher rate than men. However, the percentage of women who seek treatment for their mental illness is, in some cases, significantly higher. For example, NIMH statistics reveal that more women with serious mental illness (71.5%) received mental health treatment than men with serious mental illness (57.7%) in 2017.

Men and the Mental Health Stigma

Given the numbers regarding men and mental health, though, a disproportionate percentage of men contemplate and commit suicide each year. In fact, statistics show that men died by suicide at a rate of 3.54 percent higher than women in 2017.

In addition, 62,000 men die due to alcohol-related causes, as compared to 26,000 women. Men are two to three times more likely to misuse drugs than women. Depression and suicide are ranked as a leading cause of death among men, yet men are still less likely to seek treatment than women.

There is a continuing stigma among men about mental illness and substance abuse, even as more becomes known about the biological causes of both diseases. Many men still see their mental health challenges as a personal issue and attribute them to a lack of personal fortitude. They may feel pressure to be strong, rather than admitting they need help.

Men and Depression

The researchers at NIMH estimate that more than 6 million men in the US experience depression each year. Major depression has been found to be one of the most common mental disorders in this country. For some men, major depression can result in severe impairments that interfere with their ability to carry out everyday life activities.

If left untreated, depression can lead to personal, family, and financial difficulties. With appropriate diagnosis and treatment, however, most people recover. The darkness disappears, hope for the future returns, and energy and interest in life becomes stronger than ever.

Mental Health and Substance Abuse

Men who are experiencing mental health issues, such as depression, anxiety, grief, bipolar disorder, or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) might be tempted to turn to drugs or alcohol to self-medicate. Unfortunately, the use of drugs and alcohol tends to make the mental health issue worse. There has also been research indicating that men who are addicted to drugs and alcohol can be more susceptible to the effects of mental health disorders, such as PTSD.

Mental Health Treatment for Adult Men

Men’s Health Month is a good time to understand the relationship between men and mental health. Learn how to be a healthier you by reaching out to PACE Recovery Center. We specialize in treating men battling addiction or mental health disorders. Our team of physicians, doctorate-level clinicians, and master-level therapists can help you get on the road to lasting recovery.

During the coronavirus pandemic, our dedicated staff is taking every precaution to safeguard your health. Learn more about PACE’s COVID-19 response.

Contact Us

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
...
PACE Recovery Center is an essential business. Click for more information about PACE's COVID-19 protocols and telehealth, teletherapy, and residential treatment options during COVID-19.
close