Opioid use disorder should be great cause for concern among Americans. Current data shows that as many as 142 Americans die of an opioid-related overdose every day. However, America’s greatest foe has long come in the form of a liquid—alcohol. New research shows that drinking and alcohol use disorder rates in the United States are troubling and need to be addressed.
With the country fixated on opioids, it is hard to devote much energy to any other substance use related issue. But, while lawmakers and health experts fixate on prescription opioids and heroin, alcohol has continued stealing lives in relative darkness. Therefore, it is so important to remember that people misuse alcohol more than any other substance. It is not just the fact that millions of people drink regularly. It is that millions of Americans drink regularly in seriously harmful ways, such as binge drinking.
Great efforts and amounts of money have been spent to educate young people about the dangers of heavy imbibing. Accompanied by a long list of health conditions that can arise from high rates of consumption, including addiction. Left unchecked, people who binge drink regularly are at a far greater risk of developing an alcohol use disorder. Binge drinking is often defined as having four drinks for women and 5 for men, during a two-hour period.
21st Century Alcohol Use
As many as 30 million Americans binge drink at least once a week, a study published in JAMA Psychiatry reveals. Just for perspective, that’s more than the population of each state, but for California, SF GATE reports. About the same number of people report being dependent on the substance or abusing alcohol.
Opioid statistics show that somewhere between 2 and 3 million Americans have an opioid use disorder. That number is likely a low ball. But whatever the actual number is it’s still a far cry from alcohol use disorder rates in America. The study showed that adult alcohol use rose in every demographic, especially among:
- Older People
- People With Lower Incomes
- And Those With Less Education
“This should be a big wake-up call,” says David Jernigan, director of the Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, who wasn’t involved with the research. “Alcohol is our number one drug problem, and it’s not just a problem among kids.”
In 2001-02, 8.5 percent of survey respondents reported alcohol abuse or dependence, according to the article. That figure rose to around 12.7 percent in 2012-13, a 10.5 million person increase. With such high numbers, greater focus needs to be placed on the impact this will have on society. The cost of life is staggering.
Alcohol Use Disorder Treatment
Roughly one-fifth of people with an alcohol use disorder have ever been treated, according to Bridget Grant, a researcher at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism and lead author of the paper. Even though alcoholism is a mental illness, too, about 60 percent of people with depression get some kind of treatment. Without treatment, the outcome is never good.
If you or a loved one has an alcohol use disorder, please contact Synergy Group Services for help. We can assist in breaking the cycle of addiction and impart the skills necessary for living a life in recovery.
“No pathogen, virus or war on this country’s soil has caused the death and destruction as the scourge of opioid addiction,” says Mayor Cary Glickstein of Delray Beach, Florida.
It is hard to argue with the observation made by Mayor Glickstein. City leaders across the country would likely share his sentiments. Now approaching 20 years into the most serious drug addiction epidemic in history, few solutions have borne any fruit. While small strides forward have been made with regard to prescription opioid use, addiction treatment is still lacking.
Across the country, practically every major city has been ravaged by prescription opioid and heroin abuse. When it comes to the former however, lawmakers and citizens are looking for accountability. It is widely agreed upon that the epidemic we face is the direct result of misleading pharmaceutical companies. This is coupled with doctors eager to please patients, with little understanding of the ramifications of overprescribing.
If you have been following the news, of late, state and city leaders have turned their eye on pharmaceutical companies. Claiming that “big pharma” deliberately mislead both doctors and patients. Thus creating the a crisis affecting millions of Americans, including countless loved ones. Using the “big tobacco” lawsuits of the late ‘90’s, companies like, Purdue, et al., have been racked with legal suits. Suits have been filed from Orange County, California to Palm Beach County, Florida. Also, Illinois, Mississippi, Ohio, New York and the Cherokee Nation are looking for big pharma to cover some of the enormous costs associated with opioid addiction.
Covering the Costs of Opioid Addiction
Across the country, cities have struggled to provide access to addiction treatment services for their thousands of opioid addicts. What services are available, are usually paid for by local government coffers and nonprofits. Emergency departments are treating patients for opioid overdoses in ever increasing numbers. And equipping first responders with naloxone is not cheap, and the price per overdose antidote continues to climb. This is why the City of Delray Beach became the first in Florida to go after the pharmaceutical industry, Palm Beach Post reports. The suit, interestingly, is to help offset the costs related to heroin abuse, which the city claims is a byproduct of the pharmaceutical industries nefarious ways, that is using bogus research to disseminate the idea that opioid addiction is rare, and painkillers like OxyContin are safe.
Anyone living in Florida likely remembers the “pill mill” and “doctor shopping” fiasco affecting the state. Tourists were not just coming for our sunshine; they were coming for easy access to painkillers. The pills were gladly doled out at no-questions-asked pain management clinics (pill mills). Fortunately, the state managed to get a handle on the situation, but it resulted in far greater demand for heroin. Heroin is often cheaper and stronger than prescription opioids, and is commonly cut with the deadly analgesic fentanyl.
Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd is representing the city, a national firm with an office in Boca Raton, according to the article. Purdue Pharma and McKesson Corp. are among at least eight pharmaceutical companies being sued by Delray Beach. Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd are representing the city pro bono, although if they win the suit millions of dollars in damages could be awarded.
“They went out and said that opioids are less than 1 percent addictive. That is obviously not true … ” said Mark J. Dearman, a partner in the firm. “This is a playbook right out of (Big) Tobacco.”
The law firm claims that the financial burden of overdoses has fallen largely on state, county and city governments. There were 690 overdoses is Delray alone last year, the article reports. For every overdose in Delray Beach, it costs about $2,000 for naloxone and the first responders administering the life-saving drug.
Opioid Addiction Treatment
We will continue to follow this important story. If damages are awarded, the money could be used for prevention, public addiction treatment services and the cost of naloxone.
Are you one of the many prescription opioid users who has made the switch to heroin? If so, please reach out to us here at Synergy Group Services to begin the life-saving mission of addiction recovery. The risk of overdose is too great to put off recovery any longer.
The summer is an excellent opportunity to strengthen your program of addiction recovery. Especially if you find yourself with extra time on your hands. After all, you wouldn’t want free time to impact your program negatively, idle time being the devil’s plaything—and such. It isn’t a secret that addicts and alcoholics struggle with time management, and using their time beneficially. However, one can use downtime as an occasion to practice budgeting one’s time, to better round out their life.
For most people in recovery, their days often look somewhat similar throughout the year. The usual meeting, going to work, eat, sleep and sometimes a little idle time for relaxation in between. But many of those in recovery have seasonal jobs or go school. So, come summer you may be one of the people who finds themselves struggling to fill their day with healthy behaviors. To be sure, binge watching Netflix shows is not exactly conducive to strengthening your recovery. With that in mind, let’s delve into some practices that can increase your chances of avoiding relapse.
Exercise, Prayer and Meditation In Recovery
With the weather in high spirits, it is always a good idea to get outside and soak up some rays. Take a walk or hike, perhaps other members of your recovery circle will go along. In Florida, there is no shortage of sun or beachfront. You might try making a point of taking advantage of the sand and surf. Interestingly, it is when we are outside that we find ourselves most receptive to our “higher power.” A connection that is of the utmost importance.
While most people get down on their knees in the morning to pray and meditate, there isn’t any reason why you can’t take this beneficial practice outdoors. If you are with other people, take a moment to seclude yourself from the group, so that you can better establish contact with the spiritual realm of your recovery.
Spending an hour, or more, outside everyday can do more for your program than you might think. One way to look at it is like so, most of your substance use occurred indoors. So then, your recovery may flourish better in a setting that is not synonymous with abuse. Over the summer there are meetings you can attend that take place outside, weekly or at recovery retreats. Such gatherings can be a wholly spiritual experience.
Your connection to a higher power is paramount, but it is always worth remembering that your body is the temple that houses spiritual receptors. If your house is in disarray, it can be detrimental to your program. Eating poorly and not exercising can wreak havoc on your program. You may not like going to the gym, but during the summer you can exercise in the great outdoors. Walking, swimming and biking are few ways to better your health.
Getting Help This Summer
If you are still using drugs or alcohol, the aforementioned suggestions may not apply to you—yet. But they probably make some sense to you, either way. Maybe this summer is a good opportunity to break the cycle of addiction and seek help for the debilitating disease of addiction. Please contact us at Synergy Group Services to begin the process. Our holistic approach to addiction recovery has helped numerous individuals get their life back. Maybe this can be your summer of recovery. We can help.
Alcohol and substance use disorders affect millions of Americans. No matter where one lives, people are suffering nearby. Regardless of what one’s substance of choice is, without addiction treatment their prospects are dismal. Whether alcohol takes its toll slowly, or opioids cut one’s life short overnight—there is nothing hopeful about active addiction. Everyone living in the United States has a vested interest in encouraging the afflicted to seek help, many of our readers have seen first-hand what untreated addiction can do to a person. Yet, some of you also know that encouraging someone does not necessarily mean they will seek help. Even if an addict can see where addiction will take them if they do not do something about it. Why?
As you can probably imagine, there are several reasons why someone would spurn treatment. A major reason is that some people have not had a low enough bottom. Others may just not want to stop, despite the horror that continued use entails. One of the more common reasons that a person battling addiction will give for not reaching out for help involves the stigma of the disease.
Unlike other debilitating health disorders that have no known cure, people with use disorders are typically looked at differently. Seeking help acknowledges that a problem exists, a disorder that most Americans have trouble understanding. There are countless people in this country who think that addicts and alcoholics lack willpower or a social code. Morally bankrupt is tossed around at times. However, science tells us a different story about reality.
Art of Recovery Film Festival
Addiction is a mental health disorder. People who are touched by the disease have little say in the matter. Yet, they can have a say in what is done about it, i.e., seeking addiction treatment and working a program of recovery. This a not up for debate. Which is why it is so important that the common stereotypes of addiction be debunked across every media platform, whether that be art, television or film. Doing so will help society exercise compassion rather than exclusion. Hope over fear.
There are two artists in recovery who are using their artistic talents to shatter the stigma of addiction, with the goal encouraging recovery. On July 7-9, 2017, Manny Mendez and Vic James will be hosting the first annual Art of Recovery Film Festival in Lake Worth, Florida.
“Our Festival runs July 7-9th 2017 at the Stonzek Theater, adjacent to the historical Lake Worth Playhouse in Lake Worth Fl. This 3-day festival highlights films that focus on sober living and recovery.”
For more information on how you can be a part of this important event, please click here.
At Synergy Group Services, we are committed to being a part of putting an end to the harmful stigmas often attached to alcohol and substance use disorders. Or any other form of mental illness for that matter. If you are in the grips of active addiction, or have a co-occurring mental health disorder—we can help. Recovery is possible, together.
The field of addiction medicine falls under the umbrella of mental health. Both alcohol and substance use disorders have a home In the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V). At this point, to call addiction something other than a mental health disorder would be erroneous. Substance use disorders have a debilitating effect on people’s lives in the same ways as anxiety, depression, bipolar and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
With that in mind, it is always worth reiterating how common it is in our field to treat patients who do not only have problems with drugs and alcohol, they also have a co-occurring mental illness. What is often referred to as a dual diagnosis. While it’s important to acknowledge the occurrence of two or more disorders affecting one person, it is even more salient to treat the various disorders at the same time. Treating one, while neglecting the other, is typically a recipe for relapse.
In many cases, the symptoms of conditions like depression or PTSD lead people down an ineluctable path to addiction. Coping with untreated mental illness is trying, to be sure; and drugs and alcohol can keep some of one’s symptoms at bay—for a time. However, continued substance use for self-medication, actually makes the symptoms worse. What’s more, over time dependence develops and an alcohol or substance use disorder. It doesn’t always work out that way, but it is more prevalent than you’d might think.
At Synergy Group Services our goal is always to address both the addiction and any other form of mental illness that may be present. In many cases, clients don’t even know they meet the criteria for such disorders, which is why screening is of the utmost importance early on in treatment. For those who do know that have a mental health disorder, and are self-medicating the symptoms, it is vital that we all do our part to encourage them to seek help before the matter becomes even more dire.
PTSD Awareness Month
The paradox about mental illness is the fact that people living with it need help more than anything, yet they resist treatment for several reasons. One of the greatest obstacles to seeking help that they face is the stigma that hovers over brain diseases. Seeking help acknowledges that one has a problem, and fearing what other people will think or say can be debilitating. It is paramount that everyone working in the field, those who’ve sought treatment and are in recovery and the general public do what they can to show compassion. Making people feel comfortable when talking about their symptoms will give them the motivation to seek help.
Every June is PTSD Awareness Month, a time to encourage people to get a better understanding of the condition, including the symptoms and treatments which have proven to be effective. By doing so, more people will be inclined to reach out for help. And not just veterans, everyone who has been touched by serious trauma.
“Greater understanding and awareness of PTSD will help Veterans and others recognize symptoms, and seek and obtain needed care.” – Dr. Paula P. Schnurr, Executive Director of the National Center for PTSD.
Please take a moment to watch a short PSA:
If you are having trouble watching, please click here.
Co-Occurring Disorder Treatment
Our dual diagnosis treatment facility is fully equipped to help you or a loved one begin the process of recovery from both addiction and co-occurring disorders, such as PTSD. Please reach out for help today. Those who have successfully completed our program have had great outcomes, going on to live fulfilling productive lives in recovery.