What do you do if your aging mother seems to be spending much more time home alone than at her book group or golfing with friends as usual? Her house has slid into a dusty, clustered state and there’s more wine than food around. Could she be addicted to booze or painkillers? How do you bring up this thorny subject without her shutting you out?
They’ve been marketed as a safe and fun alternative to cigarettes, even a way to help smokers kick the habit, but nicotine-delivery systems such as e-cigarettes and other vaping devices may instead be creating new problems and erasing years of hard-won anti-smoking victories.
Teenage drug abuse facts may be surprising to many adults, and especially alarming to parents of teens. Many more teens are experimenting with, abusing and becoming addicted to drugs than most adults ever imagined. They are using illegal drugs, but they are also getting prescriptions from friends and family members to use as study aids or to get high. The repercussions for young people using drugs can be far-reaching and so it’s important for parents to know the truth about what teens are doing with drugs.
September is National Recovery Month. During this month, the success stories of people who are in recovery from addiction or mental health issues are celebrated, along with treatment centers and those who work in the field of recovery. The U.S. Department of Health and SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) have been sponsoring National Recovery Month for 26 years. Each year there is a different theme, and in 2015, the theme is “Join the Voices for Recovery: Visible, Vocal, Valuable!”
Today’s modern technology addictions include being hooked on Internet surfing, obsessing over social media and being unable to put down the smartphone. At the heart of each of these is one addictive thing: information. If you struggle with spending too much time online, texting, updating your status or other modern tech diversions, you are probably hooked on information. Researchers have proven that these can be true addictions with symptoms similar to those experienced by drug addicts. They have also shown that there is a biological basis for this need for information.
Global statistics confirm that billions of human beings are currently using alcohol and tobacco, cementing their status as humanity’s runaway drugs of choice. In fact, if we were to add up the number of people taking some type of illegal drug, it wouldn’t come close to matching either the number drinking alcohol (nearly 2 billion) or the number using tobacco products (more than 1 billion). Even marijuana, which seems to be growing in both acceptance and popularity, is only used by about 10 percent of the number who drink alcohol. And not a single other drug is used by even 1 percent of the world’s population, which is somewhat shocking given the massive amount of time and money that has been spent trying to squelch the illegal drug trade.
Gloucester Police Chief Lenny Campanello recently announced that any addict surrendering drugs and paraphernalia to a police officer and requesting help would not be charged with a drug crime. The move is controversial and provocative and, the chief hopes, will start a conversation about drug addiction as a disease and the need for treatment. He also hopes it will lead to long-term changes in how addicts are treated as well as a reduction in overdose deaths.
After decades of a mindset that treated incarceration as the most fitting response to drug use, signs are adding up that the nation is getting serious about giving treatment a chance. Among indications of this attitude change is the recent White House announcement of a Heroin Response Strategy that pairs health and law enforcement officials in an effort to shift the emphasis from rounding up the usual low-level suspects to stopping distribution at its source — and in doing so helping drug users reclaim their lives.
It’s billed as “the day the silence ends.” On Oct. 4, top-name performers, political leaders, and tens of thousands of people who care about resolving a public health crisis that kills 350 daily will converge on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., for the UNITE to Face Addiction rally. Staged by the nonprofit group Facing Addiction with the support of more than 500 partnering organizations, the rally aims to kick-start a conversation about addiction that will lead to greater public awareness and understanding — and by extension to greater political will to seek solutions.
Based on data recently released from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), we can now say which jobs are most likely to cause people to need a drink or even to abuse drugs. We all know that work can be a major source of stress in our lives, but some jobs are more stressful than others and drinking or drug use are coping mechanisms used by some workers. It may not all come down to stress, though. Exactly which factors lead to more drinking and drug use are not fully known.
Although behavioral addictions have become increasingly accepted as genuine conditions—just like drug or alcohol addictions—in recent years, Internet addiction is still struggling to find widespread acceptance. Does the lack of recognition of the condition in the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (the DSM-V, commonly called the “bible” of mental health conditions) represent a fundamental difference between Internet addiction and things like compulsive gambling, or is it simply that more data is needed? Answering the question may seem simple, especially for those who’ve seen firsthand what Internet addiction can do, but it actually requires treading a lot of interesting ground and uncovering some facts that make Internet addiction more problematic for diagnosis and treatment than other addictions.
Kids who enter a new school year struggling with drugs or alcohol can see their dreams for academic success dashed before the year even begins, but parents can help. Elements Behavioral Health has developed a helpful 10-item checklist with key warning signs that a teen or young adult needs to tackle a drug or alcohol problem before the new school year begins.
Illinois lawmakers are working on a bill that would let school nurses give students overdosing on opioid prescriptions or heroin the drug that could save their lives. Naloxone (brand name Narcan) is known as the overdose antidote because it can reverse the effects of an opioid overdose and prevent fatalities. This drug is most often used in emergency rooms and by first responders.
In response to a recent story detailing serious quality-control problems at Army substance abuse treatment centers, U.S. Army leadership is taking decisive action. Secretary John McHugh and Chief of Staff Ray Odierno have ordered the Army Inspector General’s office to open an investigation into this developing scandal, giving it free and open access to records and personnel at 54 Army-funded addiction treatment facilities in the United States, Europe and Southeast Asia.
After three overdose deaths in just two days in Lynn, Massachusetts, Sen. Edward J. Markey has proposed federal legislation to protect “good Samaritans” who use the overdose antidote Narcan. The move may have been taken in response to the recent deaths, but rising overdose deaths have long been a problem across the U.S., and many individual states have enacted similar legislation to reduce the toll of opioid addiction. The vast scope of the heroin and prescription drug abuse problem in the U.S. means that the new rules, if enacted, would have the potential to save thousands upon thousands of lives.
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