Opioid Addiction Epidemic in America

opioid addiction

The American opioid addiction epidemic has been relegated to the back burner of late because of the COVID-19 pandemic. That’s not to say opioid addiction and overdose are no longer on the radar; it’s that we’ve been caught up in COVID-19 statistics and our government’s plan to address the situation.

As far as public health crises are concerned, it makes sense that our focus has shifted to the coronavirus—it has stolen more than 220,000 lives in 2020 thus far. Still, the opioid use disorder epidemic should not be forgotten about, even if it’s challenging to focus on more than one public health crisis at a time.

For years, it seemed like opioid addiction and overdoses dominated the headlines; that nearly 100,000 Americans die of an overdose each year seemed like a primary topic of discussion. With each passing week, a new headline involving opioids would be seen having to do with misuse or a new lawsuit against those who profited from overprescribing. However, public attention has pivoted to COVID-19, which has led to more than one million deaths worldwide.

With the nation’s attention on coronavirus, many important stories are being overlooked. You may have missed specific headlines, like the one involving Purdue Pharma and the Sackler family.

The Sackler family, which owns Purdue Pharma, has been in the limelight in recent years. The primary shareholders of the makers of OxyContin are infamous in America. You may be aware that Purdue touted OxyContin as not carrying a significant risk for addiction. The drug was promoted to prescribers as being safe, despite the steady rise in overdoses since the release of the drug in the mid-’90s.

Purdue’s Role in the Nation’s Opioid Crisis

Last week, Purdue Pharma agreed to plead guilty to criminal charges related to its marketing practices, The New York Times reports. The company is looking at $8.3 billion in penalties, and the Sacklers have agreed to pay $225 million in civil penalties.

In recent years, thousands of thousands of lawsuits have been brought against Purdue Pharma. States, cities, counties, and tribes are all trying to hold the company and the Sackler family responsible for their role in the nation’s opioid addiction epidemic. The vast majority of people using heroin today used prescription opioids like OxyContin first.

Research shows that 21% of high school seniors who misused prescription opioids and later received an opioid prescription, used heroin by age 35.

While this update is promising news, it’s unlikely that Purdue will pay anything close to the $8 billion; the company has already sought bankruptcy court protection, according to the article. However, the settlement could lead to the resolution of many of the thousands of pending lawsuits. The agreement did not end all the litigation against Purdue, nor does it preclude the filing of criminal charges against Purdue Pharma executives or individual Sacklers.

In a letter to the Department of Justice, relatives of opioid use disorder victims said the agreement falls short. What’s more, Massachusetts has scheduled depositions against some Sacklers for next month.

The D.O.J. failed,” said Maura Healey, the Massachusetts attorney general. “Justice in this case requires exposing the truth and holding the perpetrators accountable, not rushing a settlement to beat an election. I am not done with Purdue and the Sacklers, and I will never sell out the families who have been calling for justice for so long.”

Opioid Addiction During the Pandemic

Purdue Pharma and the Sacklers are the tip of the iceberg. Lawsuits have been filed against other drug companies, including prescription drug distributors that filled pharmacy orders despite evidence of impropriety. The opioid addiction epidemic is nuanced; many players were involved in the problem becoming this bad.

The pandemic has made matters worse, according to a new Quest Diagnostics Health Trends study. The research shows that misuse of fentanyl, heroin, and non-prescribed opioids are on the rise.

The findings indicate that the drug positivity rate increased 35% for non-prescribed fentanyl and 44% for heroin during the pandemic compared to the period before the pandemic (January 1, 2019-March 14, 2020 and March 15-May 16, 2020).

The COVID-19 pandemic has created the perfect storm for a rise in substance use disorders and other forms of prescription and illicit drug misuse. Stress, job losses and depression compounded with isolation and a lack of access to health services can trigger prescription medication overuse, illicit drug use, or relapses,” said co-author Harvey W. Kaufman, M.D., Senior Medical Director, Head of Health Trends Research Program, Quest Diagnostics.

It was concerning to learn that the positivity for a combination of drugs was especially pronounced. Positivity for non-prescribed fentanyl and amphetamines increased by 89%, benzodiazepines (48%), cocaine (34%), and opiates (39%). The researchers point out that most overdoses involve concurrent use of benzodiazepines, cocaine, or methamphetamine.

Our Health Trends data demonstrate the consequences of the pandemic, with dramatic increases of misuse of non-prescribed drugs at a time when fentanyl is also on the rise. Our nation is grappling with a drug epidemic inside a pandemic. Patients and providers need increased access to support services, clinical care and drug testing to stop drug misuse from claiming more lives,” Dr. Kaufman said.

Opioid Use Disorder Treatment for Men

Please contact PACE Recovery Center if you or a loved one is struggling with an opioid use disorder. Our team utilizes evidence-based therapies to help our clients break the cycle of addiction and learn how to lead a positive life in recovery. We are standing by at 800-526-1851 to answer any questions you have about our gender-specific treatment for men.

Early Recovery: Stay Close to Other Men in the Program

early recovery

In 12-Step programs, men work together with other men to achieve lasting recovery. The same is true for women. People of the same sex can relate more easily. Moreover, working the steps with someone of the same gender makes it easier to open up in early recovery—free from the distraction of the opposite sex.

Early recovery is a challenging time. Anything you can do to mitigate the risk of distractions will aid you significantly. There is a reason why it’s suggested to avoid dating in the first year of recovery. Few people are equipped to keep their program intact and juggle the needs of a romantic relationship in early recovery.

What’s more, if a relationship runs into problems and a break-up occurs, it can be an impetus for relapse. If you can avoid romantic entanglements in the first year or until you’ve worked all the steps, you will not be sorry. Doing so will allow you to put all your energy into laying a strong foundation for long-term recovery.

A straw poll of people at meetings would reveal that relationships are right next to resentments in being a leading cause of relapse. In many cases, a toxic relationship begets resentment that is a catalyst for deciding to drink or drug again.

If you are new to working a program, devote your energy toward fostering friendships with other men in the Rooms. Other men in the program will be the people who are there for you when you face challenges. Another man will also serve as your sponsor; he will show you how to work the steps and stay sober one day at a time.

Sticking With Other Men in Early Recovery

There will be plenty of time down the road to think about romance. Early on, your focus must be on adopting new behaviors and practicing the principles of recovery in all your affairs. What’s more, early recovery is time to learn how to be friends with others in healthy ways.

When in the grips of addiction, practically everyone you associated with had something that serviced your disease. Now, you are looking for people who are also serious about their program; other men who have what you want—those whose lives are on the right track because of their recovery.

Look for individuals whose daily actions for recovery inspire you to keep doing the next right thing. Stay close to the men who put their recovery first in every aspect of life. Recovery requires eternal vigilance; it can never come second.

Early recovery is a time when your addiction is working tirelessly to reassert itself in your life—to retake its former position on center stage. It’s easy to get off track and to become distracted. Ensure that you are around other men in the program when you are not working or in meetings.

Develop a deep-bench of supporting men in recovery; such relationships will help you stay on course. In COVID-19 America, it’s vital for men and women in recovery to stick together. Preventing relapse during these challenging times must come first and foremost.

Whenever you find yourself struggling, call another man in the program and ask them for help. You might be surprised how beneficial picking up the phone can be. Make a call before you fall. You are not alone.

We Help Each Other Stay Sober

Reaching out for help when you’re stressed, anxious, or depressed helps you and the person you lean on for support. You never know, the man you talk to might be having a hard time too. Your call or meeting with that individual helps them stay sober as well.

A sponsor helps you stay sober, and you help him stay sober too. A sponsor cannot keep their recovery if they do not give it away. Interconnectivity or fellowship is the life-blood of the program.

You make progress each time you join forces for recovery in a meeting or one on one. Staying connected with the people in your deep bench is the key to reaching new milestones.

If you’ve been isolating because of COVID-19 or otherwise, please do not hesitate to reach out. Addiction thrives in isolation, and alcoholics and addicts cannot afford the luxury of solitude. Take advantage of video conferencing platforms to remain an active participant in your recovery.

Orange County Gender-Specific Treatment for Men

At PACE Recovery Center, we show men how to work together toward a common goal. Our gender-specific addiction and mental health treatment are the ideal launching point for any adult male who’d like to better their lives. Please contact us today to learn more about our programs and services.

Mental Health Services Investment Around the Globe

mental health

World Mental Health Day was last weekend. The World Health Organization (WHO) called it “an opportunity to kick-start a massive scale-up in investment in mental health.” The global public health agency called on governments to invest more heavily in services for mental illness.

Mental Illness Awareness Week (MIAW) is behind us, but raising awareness is a year-round movement. The more we discuss mental health, the better; public discourse erodes the stigma, which often stands in the way of recovery.

Close to 1 billion people are living with a mental disorder, 3 million people die every year from the harmful use of alcohol and one person dies every 40 seconds by suicide. And now, billions of people around the world have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, which is having a further impact on people’s mental health.

WHO points out that more than 75 percent of people living with mental illness and substance use disorders receive no treatment in low- and middle-income countries. In light of COVID-19, more people than ever are struggling with symptoms of mental illness. Those same individuals are also facing challenges and barriers to treatment.

COVID-19 has disrupted access to mental health services, and WHO shares that it was hard enough for people to receive assistance before the pandemic. A new survey conducted by WHO confirms that accessing care has been disrupted or halted due to the global public health crisis.

Mental Health Service Barriers

The WHO survey indicates that 93 percent of countries worldwide are not supporting people with mental illness and substance use disorders. Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization, said:

We are already seeing the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic on people’s mental well-being, and this is just the beginning. Unless we make serious commitments to scale up investment in mental health right now, the health, social and economic consequences will be far-reaching.”

The WHO survey found:

  • 67% of countries saw disruptions to counseling and psychotherapy.
  • 65% saw disruptions to critical harm reduction services.
  • More than a third (35%) reported disruptions to emergency interventions for severe substance use withdrawal syndromes.
  • 30% reported disruptions to access for medications for mental, neurological and substance use disorders.

“We estimate, and preliminary information is telling us, that there may be an increase in people with mental, neurological and substance abuse-related conditions that will need attention,” said Devora Kestel, Director of WHO’s Department of Mental Health and Substance Use.

The survey highlights the need for more mental and behavioral health funding. While 89% of countries reported that mental health support services are part of their pandemic response plans, unfortunately, only 17% have allocated additional funding to meet the need for assistance.

Funding Mental Health Services

A more significant investment in mental health services pays off. According to WHO, countries that allocate funds for providing services for mental illness and substance use disorder will see huge returns. For every dollar spent on evidence-based treatment for depression and anxiety returns five dollars.

Before COVID-19 spread across the globe, depression and anxiety had a massive impact on the global economy. Each year, nearly $1 trillion in economic productivity is lost to untreated depression and anxiety. The above number is likely to increase exponentially due to life amid a pandemic.

In May, the U.S. Census Bureau reported that a third of Americans show signs of clinical anxiety, depression, or both. It’s been more than six months, and we are still fighting the spread of COVID-19. We cannot ignore the psychological toll of coronavirus; investing in mental health services saves lives.

While it’s true, accessing care is more challenging of late, there are still resources available to people struggling with mental illness and substance use disorder. If you or a loved one are having difficulty, please reach out for support.

Gender-Specific Mental Health Program

Please contact PACE Recovery Center to learn more about our gender-specific programs for men living with mental illness or substance use disorder. We rely on evidence-based approaches for helping men to lead fulfilling and productive lives in recovery. We are available around the clock to answer your questions and to begin the admissions process. We are standing by at 800-526-1851.

MIAW 2020: You Are Not Alone With Mental Illness

MIAW

With National Recovery Month and Suicide Prevention Awareness Month behind us, the focus on mental health continues. While it’s vital to remember that raising awareness about addiction and mental illness is a year-round effort, the first full week of October is of significant importance. National Mental Illness Awareness Week (MIAW) runs from October 4 – 10.

Right now is an unprecedented time of isolation, and it is critical to remind people suffering from mental health disorders that they are not alone. One in five U.S. adults experiences mental illness each year.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) encourages everyone to take part in MIAW. The organization provides many avenues for participation, from sharing one’s story of recovery and hope and by posting mental illness-related content on social media platforms.

There are also mental health-related events throughout MIAW, including:

  • Tuesday Oct. 6: National Day of Prayer for Mental Illness Recovery and Understanding
  • Thursday Oct. 8: National Depression Screening Day
  • Saturday Oct. 10: World Mental Health Day
  • Saturday Oct. 10: NAMIWalks National Day of Hope

At PACE Recovery Center, we hope you find time to help NAMI raise awareness about mental illness. Mental health disorders affect men and women around the globe. Depression alone impacts the lives of more than 300 million people, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Moreover, depressive disorders are the number one cause of poor health worldwide. NAMI writes:

Each year, millions of Americans face the reality of living with a mental health condition. However, mental illness affects everyone directly or indirectly through family, friends or coworkers. Despite mental illnesses’ reach and prevalence, stigma and misunderstanding are also, unfortunately, widespread.

Getting Involved With MIAW 2020

You Are Not Alone is a year-long awareness campaign. NAMI invites people living with mental and behavioral health disorders to share their experience, strength, and hope. Doing so encourages men, women, and teenagers to ask for help before one’s condition worsens. The majority of people who experience suicidal ideations or commit suicide struggle with symptoms of mental illness.

When people affected by mental illness share their stories, they help fight stigmas that stand in the way of recovery for millions of Americans. The recovery community’s stories help the public understand that mental and behavioral health disorders are not a choice. As such, members of society are less likely to stand by or spread misinformation.

You can read some other people’s experience, strength, and hope here.

Mental Illness Awareness Over Social Media

This Sunday, you can also start posting to social media about mental health. You can create unique status updates to attach to infographics. You can also utilize NAMI sponsored posts, such as:

  • There is a lack of understanding surrounding people experiencing mental illness. That’s why @NAMICommunicate is sharing some of the most misunderstood aspects of mental illness each day during MIAW. #MentalIllnessAwarenessWeek #MIAW
  • Mental health is a huge part of overall health and should be a priority for everyone, whether you have a mental health condition or not. #MentalIllnessAwarenessWeek #MIAW
  • There is no health without mental health #MentalIllnessAwarenessWeek #MIAW
  • (10/10) Today is World Mental Health Day. We all have mental health challenges and if you are struggling right now, know that You Are Not Alone. #MentalIllnessAwarenessWeek #MIAW
  • Mental health can and should be a priority this election season. Visit NAMI’s new election website, vote4mentalhealth.org, and pledge to #Vote4MentalHealth.

More Facts About Mental Illness

Many Americans do not realize how common mental illness is, even when it affects someone they love. Since mental health is still a taboo topic to discuss, the ubiquity of psychiatric disorders is often overlooked. Below you will see a snapshot by demographic; according to NAMI, mental illness affects:

  • 37% of LGB adults
  • 27% of Mixed/Multiracial adults
  • 22% of American Indian or Alaska Native
  • 20% of White adults
  • 17% of Latinx adults
  • 16% of Black adults
  • 15% of Asian adults

Mental Health Treatment for Men

PACE Recovery treats adult men living with mental health and co-occurring disorders. Our team utilizes the latest evidence-based treatment modalities to facilitate long-term recovery. Mental Illness Awareness Week is an ideal opportunity to disregard stigma and reach out for assistance. We are standing by around the clock to field any questions you have about our programs and services. Please call 800-526-1851 for more information.

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