Towards the end of 2017, The New York Times published an article which reveals some alarming opioid statistics. While most people understand that painkillers and heroin affect people from several walks of life and practically every age group, it’s likely that a significant number of individuals are unaware that opioids are also affecting young adults in college. Just because people can get into prestigious schools, doesn’t mean that they are going to make wise decisions. Prescription opioid misuse falls under such a category.
In fact, between 2001 to 2014, data indicates a six-fold increase in opioid use disorder among people under age 25. In roughly the same timeframe, opioid overdose deaths pretty much doubled for the age group. The 2016 Monitoring the Future survey of college students reveals that 7% misused opioids and the number of Blue Cross Blue Shield opioid-related claims has nearly increased twofold in almost a decade.
The author of College Disrupted: The Great Unbundling of Higher Education (2015), Ryan Craig wrote an op-ed recently appearing in Forbes which displays some interesting observations about opioid use disorder and college students. After speaking with experts, like Dr. Andrew Kolodny, co-director of Opioid Policy Research at Brandeis and others working in the field of addiction, he lays out a pretty concerning picture of prescription drugs use at universities across the country.
Schools Must Confront Opioids
Craig points out that while most colleges have naloxone on campus for use in the event of an overdose, he says that schools are falling short in addressing the underlying issues. He presents “four fundamental elements of college campuses make them suboptimal environments for those struggling with opioids:”
- An anything-goes approach to alcohol and drugs;
- high pressure;
- lack of structure;
- they’re in this environment for at least four years.
Despite the fact that a number of 4-year schools offer students the option of living in sober dorms and some even provide counseling services, Craig believes that such programs don’t go far enough. The author says college programs for people in recovery don’t treat addiction and students spend the majority of their time outside the specialty dorms; he has concluded that if universities are serious about assisting people living with addiction, they must expand their sober programs to include:
- Medical treatment under medical supervision.
- Separation from other students and much more structure – tapering off as students demonstrate success.
- Offer off-ramps leading to good jobs, so students don’t need to spend four years in order to get a win. Most parents of young adults struggling with opioids would trade anything for a clean, employed child; a degree is the least of their concerns. Then provide on-ramps back to degree programs for students who are prepared for the next challenge.
Opioid Use Disorder Treatment
If you are a college student misusing prescription opioids or heroin, Synergy Group Services can assist you in finding recovery. Please contact Synergy today to discuss making recovery a part of your life. We understand that education is of vital importance to you and your family, treatment will provide you with the skills for completing higher education unhindered by drugs and alcohol.
Another holiday weekend is upon us, and for those working a program of recovery, it is vital that steps are taken to avoid complications. While Passover and Easter may not be super important to everyone, for many people this is an essential time for observance. Just because you do not associate a holiday with heavy alcohol use, it doesn’t mean you can let your guard down. After all, any holiday that involves spending time with family, both being around loved ones, and not, can result in several emotions rising from within you. Coping with your feelings in constructive ways can make all the difference, especially if long-term recovery is your goal.
It is vital that you do not discount the power of emotions. A considerable number of people in early recovery have not yet regained the trust and confidence of their friends and family; which means that some of you may not spend time with loved ones this weekend. Disliking your current reality is OK, natural even, but it should not be cause for behaving in ways that will not benefit your recovery. Remember, the program gives us tools for managing uncomfortable feelings; instead of dwelling on deficiencies in your life, double your efforts in recovery. You are not alone, your program, support network, and the fellowship are always available to assist you with any obstacle. Significant holidays easily qualify as a potential barrier to progress.
Hopefully, you have already begun planning your drug and alcohol-free weekend. If not, take some time today to start planning how you will navigate the coming days without doing anything that could jeopardize all your hard work.
Utilizing Your Support Network in Recovery
Those of you who have plans to spend time with close friends and family this weekend must also make time for your program. No matter what, recovery comes before anything else for the simple reason that without your program nothing beneficial is possible. Getting to a meeting before and after family gatherings is a surefire way to avoid the trappings of alcohol and substance use. The “meeting before” grounds you, allowing you to proceed with your plans with focus; the “meeting after” can act as a decompression chamber sparing you of the familial “bends.” Feelings can quickly arise without you knowing it when in the company of family, left unchecked, “stinking thinking” ensues. Processing your feeling with your support network protects against relapse.
Anyone who doesn’t have a holiday agenda this weekend would be wise to stay close to your “recovery family;” the people who you sit next to you every week in meetings. It doesn’t matter how you refer to such people—friends, peers, or acquaintances—they have a vested interest in your wellbeing. What’s more, some of the individuals in your inner-recovery circle might need your assistance over the weekend; being there for them, and vice versa can significantly strengthen your program. Never downplay the vital role you play in other people’s lives, recovery is inextricably linked with being of service to others. Call the people in your support network and lock down plans for safely traversing the holiday weekend.
Making a schedule of meetings, you plan to attend is crucial. Keep to your plan as best you can and it far less likely you will encounter problems. If you get into a risky situation, make a phone call or get to a meeting ASAP. The dedicated staff of Synergy Group Services would like to wish everyone a safe and sober holiday.
If you are struggling with alcohol or substance use disorder, please contact Synergy today to discuss your treatment options. Lasting recovery is possible, and the healing process starts with reaching out for help.
The use and abuse of opioids in the United States is a public health crisis, most Americans are aware of the severe death toll from the use of this class of drugs. So, it’s probably not a surprise the White House renewed a previous order declaring the opioid crisis a public health emergency, before it ran out toward the end of last month. Eric D. Hargan, Acting Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, writes:
As a result of the continued consequences of the opioid crisis affecting our nation, on this date and after consultation with public health officials as necessary, I, Eric D. Hargan, Acting Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, pursuant to the authority vested in me under section 319 of the Public Health Service Act, do hereby renew, effective January 24, 2018, my October 26, 2017, determination that a public health emergency exists nationwide as a result of the consequences of the opioid crisis.
The use of any type of opioid can lead to addiction, or worse, overdose. Around a hundred Americans perish each day from drugs like OxyContin, fentanyl, and heroin; naloxone can reverse an overdose, but that’s not always the case—especially when fentanyl is involved. In a short time, synthetic opioids became one of the greatest threats to the drug using public. Fentanyl is regularly added to heroin to boost potency, but it’s done without the user’s knowledge; it’s an ignorance that often results in fatal overdose.
Fentanyl On The Mind
Synthetic opioids are great at killing pain in medically supervised environments. However, the influx of the drug into the U.S. from Chinese laboratories is a major concern. A report from the Senate shows that manufacturers of the drug in China market it online and use the USPS to get it to civilians in the U.S. Once here, fentanyl is stamped into pills resembling OxyContin or simply mixed into batches of heroin—a drug that requires no assistance in being deadly.
Even when fentanyl use doesn’t result in an overdose death, it can wreak havoc on people’s health. Researchers from West Virginia University warn that there is an association between fentanyl and severe memory loss, according to Health Day. More than a dozen patients exhibited signs of short-term memory loss after using fentanyl alone or with stimulants. Their brain scans showed lesions on the hippocampus, a region of the brain responsible for memory.
“They all have difficulty learning new information, and it’s pretty dense,” said Marc Haut, chair of West Virginia University’s department of behavioral medicine and psychiatry. Every day is pretty much a new day for them, and sometimes within a day they can’t maintain information they’ve learned.”
Haut says it’s possible the patients experienced overdose prior to the symptoms of amnesia arising, the article reports. He points out that such individuals do not recover quickly and may not fully regain their short-term memory.
“We talk a lot about people who don’t survive overdoses, but we aren’t talking about people who survive repeated overdoses and the impact that might have on them and their functioning,” Haut said. “If their memory is really compromised, it’s going to be hard for them to learn a new life that doesn’t involve drugs.”
Opioid Use Disorder Treatment
Painkillers, synthetic opioids, and heroin carry severe risks; if you are addicted to opioids of any kind, please contact Synergy Group Services. We can help you overcome the cycle of addiction and give you the tools for living a life of lasting addiction recovery.
Mental health stigma isn’t good for anyone, let alone society. Hundreds of millions of people around the globe struggle with mental illness in any given year, yet most will never receive any form of treatment. One of the reasons for this, aside from severe deficiencies in accessing therapy, is that many of those afflicted are unwilling to discuss their condition for fear of reproach. With no other form of health condition are feelings of shame so pervasive, as is the case for people with disorders like depression and addiction.
As with any systemic societal problem, it falls on everyone to affect change. The people who have a fear of discussing their mental health disorders are, in fact, our mothers and fathers, sons and daughters. Every family is touched by mental illness in some way; the more extended society ostracizes such conditions, the more prolonged people’s suffering will endure. If a person feels they cannot talk about a problem, they are more likely to resort to dangerous methods of coping, such as drugs, alcohol, and suicide.
Fortunately, a significant number of individuals have committed to help end the stigma of mental illness. In the U.S., the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) and the Drug Policy Alliance come to mind; organizations dedicated to helping, not hurting people who’ve suffered enough already.
Eliminate Mental Health Stigma
Those in recovery from any mental illness are aware that those afflicted often have a penchant for artistic creation. It’s likely that many of your favorite artists, musicians, and writers struggle with mental health conditions. Some of our readers working programs of recovery are artists. Might there be a correlation between mental illness and a propensity for abstraction? Nevertheless, one organization would like to use your artistic creations to end the stigma of mental illness.
The Perspective Project invites artists to submit artwork containing honest and compelling accounts of mental health issues. On the website, new artwork is accessible every Sunday and throughout the week via social media.
“Everyone’s lives, including ours at The Perspective Project, have been touched by mental health. You are not alone in your suffering. In the fight against mental health stigma, empathy and acceptance are our most powerful allies.”
The organization accepts all forms of art for submission, including painting, photography, writing, and poetry. If you would like to submit your work, click here.
“The Perspective Project provides a blank canvas for those who wish to discuss mental health issues. Your Story. Your Art. Your Poetry. Your Mental Health. Your Perspective.”
Co-Occurring Disorder Treatment
If you are one of the millions of Americans struggling with untreated addiction or a use disorder accompanied by a dual diagnosis, please contact Synergy Group Services. Recovery is possible, but a person’s addiction and co-occurring mental health disorder need simultaneous treatment. Every time an individual makes the courageous choice to seek help, the stigma of mental illness erodes.
The United States military is the most powerful in the world, thanks mainly to a definite edge over our adversaries. As a result, the Government can send our troops into traditional conflict with relatively minimal casualties. Unfortunately, it’s the injuries nobody sees that do the most damage, the wounds inflicted on the mind. If a soldier’s invisible injuries are not addressed, many of them will turn to opioids to deal with the pain.
In respect to Veteran’s day, which took place last weekend, it’s vital to discuss the well being of our Veterans. Thousands of young American men and women have come back from the conflict in the Mideast, only to fight an even more significant battle at home. One of the notable differences, of course, is the war that some Veterans fight now is waged on the battlefield of the mind.
America doesn’t have the most exceptional track record when it comes to treating mental illness, like depression and addiction. The military is not much different, with many American heroes left to their own devices in coping with mental health disorders, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). People who struggle with the condition resort to mind-altering substances to deal, an action which worsens one’s symptoms. In a number of cases, such people are also contending with chronic pain from physical injuries sustained overseas. Physical pain, mental distress, and opioids make for a lethal cocktail.
Opioids Don’t Spare Veterans
Treating your average American’s chronic pain with opioids puts them at high risk of addiction and overdose. Veterans are no different; however, when other forms of mental illness are in the picture the risks are even higher. In fact, opioids have led to more Veteran deaths than all the casualties in Iraq, Afghanistan and Vietnam wars combined, Reuters reports. Vets are at double the risk of dying from prescription opioid overdose than non-veterans. The suicide rate among Veterans is also 21 percent higher than with people who didn’t serve in the military. It’s no secret that opioids are often used to commit suicide.
“The Veterans Administration needs to understand whether overmedication of drugs, such as opioid pain-killers, is a contributing factor in suicide-related deaths,” said Sen. John McCain.
To encourage doctors to prescribe opioids to Vets less often, McCain introduced the Veterans Overmedication Prevention Act, according to the article. Unfortunately, the bill has stalled in Congress. The need for such measures is urgent. Since March 2017, Veterans Affairs has treated 68,000 vets for opioid use disorder.
“Our veterans deserve better than polished sound bites and empty promises,” said recovering addict and former Democratic Congressman, Patrick Kennedy.
Opioid Addiction Treatment
Opioids of any kind carry the risk of addiction and premature death; treatment is a must if recovery is to occur. At Synergy Group Services, we specialize in the treatment of opioid use disorder. We are also equipped to treat the condition when a co-occurring mental illness is involved. Please contact us today.