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Friday, September 25, 2020

Retired NFL Players Using Opioids

The use of opioid narcotics for the treatment of pain is a controversial subject in the United States. Our population accounts for about five percent of the world, but Americans use as much as 80 percent of all prescription opioids globally. It's no secret that rampant overprescribing is commonplace in the United States. 


More than two decades into the most severe drug addiction epidemic in history, doctors continue to prescribe narcotics recklessly. Prescription opioids are highly addictive and can impact a person's mental health. 


While the writing of opioid prescriptions has decreased in recent years, doctors handed out enough opioid prescriptions for every person to have one in 11 percent of American counties, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In 2018, 168,158,611 prescriptions for opioids were filled—51.4 prescriptions per 100 Americans. 


Opioids are prescribed even when more effective pain management options are available. Research shows that drugs like oxycodone and hydromorphone are more useful for acute pain and less so for chronic pain. Managing chronic injuries with opioids can heighten pain sensitivity and hinder physical recovery, according to Zachary Mannes, a postdoctoral fellow at the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health. 


Greater pain sensitivity can lead patients to use more than is prescribed to achieve the relief desired. Naturally, misusing prescription opioids can be life-threatening. Whenever one takes more than prescribed, the risk of overdose increases exponentially. 


A meta-analysis of 96 clinical trials of prescription opioids for chronic, non-cancer pain showed that opioids provide little benefit for patients. Simply put, the risk of using opioids to treat chronic pain outweighs the benefits. 


With nearly 100,000 drug overdoses each year, doctors can do their patients a service by relying on alternative pain management forms. They should only resort to opioids when other methods fall short. Exercise and physical rehabilitation may prove far more beneficial. 


NFL Retirees On Opioids



With the above in mind, you may find it interesting that many former NFL athletes had been taking opioids consistently for nearly a decade. A new study, co-authored by Mannes, indicated that players continue to take opioids long into retirement.


Mannes, a recent graduate of the doctoral program in clinical psychology at the University of Florida, found that nearly 50 percent of 90 retired footballers who reported using opioids in 2010 were still using them in 2019, HealthDay reports. The findings appear in Drug and Alcohol Dependence


According to the article, of those still taking opioids nearly ten years later, about 60% reported moderate to severe depressive symptoms. What's more, they had a low mental health-related quality of life. 

"It is possible that NFL retirees with depressive symptoms are more likely to self-medicate their mental health symptoms and emotional pain through use of opioids," Mannes said.


Mannes recommends that doctors working with NFL athletes should utilize alternative forms of pain management.


Opioid Addiction Treatment


Prolonged use of prescription painkillers can lead to dependence and opioid use disorder. Many individuals find it exceedingly challenging to stop taking opioids once addiction sets in; opioid withdrawal symptoms are incredibly uncomfortable. 


Professional help is often required to break the cycle of dependence and addiction. Please contact Hope By The Sea if you are struggling with opioid use disorder. Our team of highly skilled addiction professionals can help you get on the path to recovery.

Friday, September 18, 2020

Opioid Use Disorder Epidemic and COVID-19 Pandemic

There is important news relevant to the addiction recovery community: research shows that people living with a substance use disorder are at a more significant risk of developing COVID-19. Moreover, the study – funded by the National Institutes of Health – shows that SUDs are more susceptible to coronavirus-related health complications and death. The findings are published in Molecular Psychiatry


Dr. Volkow and Rong Xu, Ph.D., of Case Western Reserve University analyzed electronic health records to reach their findings. They found that the COVID-19–SUD link was most pronounced among people with an opioid use disorder. Patients with a tobacco use disorder were next in line for SUDs most at risk.


“The lungs and cardiovascular system are often compromised in people with SUD, which may partially explain their heightened susceptibility to COVID-19,” said study Dr. Nora Volkow, Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse and study co-author. “Another contributing factor is the marginalization of people with addiction, which makes it harder for them to access health care services. It is incumbent upon clinicians to meet the unique challenges of caring for this vulnerable population, just as they would any other high-risk group.”


Even though SUD constituted 10.3% of the total study population, Dr. Volkow and Rong found that SUDs represented 15.6% of the COVID-19 cases. The scientists hope that healthcare providers will take the research to heart and take measures to shield patients from infection. 


In the United States, the number of coronavirus-related deaths is approaching 200,000 quickly; 6,698,719 Americans have tested positive to date. A number of state and local governments have done well in containing and slowing the spread, but the pandemic isn’t over yet. 


If you feel that your immune system is compromised due to pre-existing conditions, please speak to your primary care physician about safeguarding your health. Contracting COVID-19 is particularly dangerous for anyone with a history of heart or lung conditions. Reading the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines can help you make informed decisions for your well-being. 


An Opioid Use Disorder and a Pandemic

opioid use disorder


It’s worth reiterating that Dr. Volkow and her team’s research shows a strong correlation between opioid use disorder and worse COVID-19 outcomes (i.e., hospitalization and death). Opioid use can weaken one’s immune system and may jeopardize the cardiovascular system. Some research suggests a link between opioid use and cardiovascular diseases. 


Opioids are deadly outright, but a pandemic significantly elevates their risk factor. In recent months, we have shared Dr. Volkow’s concerns about the rate of opioid overdoses increasing by 30-40 percent during the pandemic. Now, the American Medical Association (AMA) echoes Volkow’s worries about the opioid addiction epidemic. 


“The AMA is greatly concerned by an increasing number of reports from national, state and local media suggesting increases in opioid-related mortality—particularly from illicitly manufactured fentanyl and fentanyl analogs. More than 40 states have reported increases in opioid-related mortality as well as ongoing concerns for those with a mental illness or substance use disorder in counties and other areas within the state.”


A set of policy recommendations are available to assist states during the pandemic. The aim is to: 

  • Guide Policymakers
  • Reduce the Stress Experienced by OUDs
  • Support Harm Reduction Efforts


California Opioid Use Disorder Treatment


Please contact Hope By The Sea to learn more about our programs and services for men and women battling opioid use disorder. We understand how challenging it is today and how difficult it is to face the reality of addiction. Still, recovery is possible even during a pandemic. We continue to provide a full continuum of care for those who would like to begin a healing journey. Hope Starts Here! 

Friday, September 11, 2020

Suicide Prevention Awareness Month 2020

As National Recovery Month moves along, we would like to draw your attention to another crucial topic, suicide. The month of September is Recovery Month and Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) writes:
"September is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month—a time to share resources and stories in an effort to shed light on this highly taboo and stigmatized topic. We use this month to reach out to those affected by suicide, raise awareness, and connect individuals with suicidal ideation to treatment services. It is also important to ensure that individuals, friends, and families have access to the resources they need to discuss suicide prevention."
It makes sense that these significant annual observances occur at the same time. Both mental health and substance use disorders are known to play a role in suicides. NAMI shares that nearly half of individuals who commit suicide had a diagnosed mental health disorder; and, more than one in three are under the influence of alcohol.

Untreated mental illnesses like depression and bipolar disorder are associated with the practice of self-medication. That is, using drugs and alcohol to cope with uncomfortable feelings or emotions. The symptoms of mental health disorders can be taxing and lead individuals to search for relief.

Self-medicating may provide a person some comfort initially, but the benefits are diminishing. Over time, one finds that drugs and alcohol are making their symptoms more pronounced. A vicious cycle begins that ends in despair. One uses to feel better, and the mind-altering substance makes one feel worse.

Without some form of intervention, a person struggling with mental and behavioral health conditions is at a higher risk of experiencing suicidal ideations. With that in mind, it's vital to spread the message that suicide is preventable, treatment works, and recovery is possible.

Suicide Prevention Awareness Month

suicide prevention awareness month
Many of our readers are sure to know this is Suicide Prevention Week, September 6-12, 2020. Yesterday was World Suicide Prevention Day; some may have lit a candle in observance of the event. If not, that's okay, because there is ample opportunity to help spread awareness about suicide prevention.

COVID-19 has led to a rise in people experiencing symptoms of mental illness. It's critical to let those who are struggling know that they are not alone. You may be close to someone who is having a challenging time of late. If so, please reach out to them regularly to check in on them; an unexpected phone call can make an enormous difference.

You, too, may be dealing with depression, anxiety, or suicidal ideations. Please safeguard your well-being by asking for help; there are many resources available. NAMI recommends:
  • If you or someone you know is in an emergency, call 911 immediately.
  • If you are in crisis or are experiencing difficult or suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Hotline at 1-800-273 TALK (8255)
  • If you're uncomfortable talking on the phone, you can also text NAMI to 741-741 to be connected to a free, trained crisis counselor on the Crisis Text Line.


Each Mind Matters

suicide prevention

Those who are managing despite the pandemic can do a significant service by sharing their story of hope or images and infographics about suicide. You can use #SuicidePrevention or #StigmaFree in your social media posts. Spreading valuable information helps erode the stigma of mental illness, which encourages people to seek help.

National organizations like NAMI and state initiatives like California's Mental Health Movement Each Mind Matters are here to help. The latter, a part of the California Mental Health Services Authority, "was created to unite all of us who share a vision of improved mental health and equality." During Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, Each Mind Matters is guiding thousands of organizations across the state on how to help:
"This year, in support of National Suicide Prevention Awareness Week, World Suicide Prevention Day, and National Recovery Month, all held in September, we are encouraging a special focus on the intersection between suicide prevention, alcohol, and drug use and efforts that foster resilience and recovery."

You can learn more about Each Mind Matters in the video below:

If you are having trouble watching, please click here.


Addiction and Co-Occurring Disorder Treatment

If you are struggling with addiction and co-occurring mental health disorders, Hope By The Sea can assist you or your family member. Our highly trained staff can help you begin a remarkable and fulfilling journey of recovery. Please contact us today to learn more about our programs and services. Hope Starts Here!

Friday, September 4, 2020

National Recovery Month 2020: Celebrating Connections

Each September, we observe National Recovery Month; it's an excellent opportunity to shine a light on the disease of addiction. Alcohol and substance use disorders affect one of the fastest-growing populations on the planet. There are more addicts and alcoholics in the United States than all the people residing in California, our most populous state.

This National Recovery Month is unlike any other; this is the first time that the observance is almost entirely virtual. Naturally, there are advantages and disadvantages to this year's approach.

Some might dislike the impersonal component aspect of attending webinars. However, more people may attend events because they are spending more time at home and less in the office. Time will tell. Whatever your situation is in the coming weeks, we hope that you will find the opportunity to take part in this vital initiative.

National Recovery Month could mean something different to each individual. Some might take action and host events, while others could use the observance to spread valuable information about treatment and recovery services. Others still might look at Recovery Month as a chance to acknowledge the hard work and progress made by the millions of individuals working a program.

It does not matter how you take part, as long as you have some role. In its 31st year, National Recovery Month organizers are focusing on the inter-connectivity between everyone in recovery; including, family members and addiction/mental health professionals. No one recovers alone, and during a global pandemic, each of us has had to rely heavily on digital forms of connection.

This year's theme for National Recovery Month is Join the Voices for Recovery: Celebrating Connections.

The 2020 National Recovery Month theme, "Join the Voices for Recovery: Celebrating Connections," reminds people in recovery and those who support them, that we all have victories to celebrate and things we may wish we had done differently. This is true of everyone and, as in most cases, we cannot do it alone. Recovery Month will continue to educate others about substance use disorders and co-occurring disorders, the effectiveness of treatment and recovery services, and that recovery is possible. All of us, from celebrities and sports figures to our co-workers, neighbors, friends, and family members, throughout our lives have experienced peaks and valleys, both big and small. But, with strength, support, and hope from the people we love, we are resilient.

Join the Voices During National Recovery Month

National Recovery Month
How you use your time today will determine the progress you make tomorrow. Moreover, the message you spread throughout National Recovery Month can impact the lives of men and women who are still suffering in their disease.

During these challenging times of societal division and strife, men and women in recovery can take solace in knowing that they share a common bond with their fellow persons. Moreover, many people working a program are struggling to keep their recovery intact. Right now, joining the voices of recovery and celebrating your connection with the fellowship is paramount.

Perhaps you have a friend who relapsed recently? If so, take the time to reach out to them; let said person know that they are not alone. Remind them that they need not let shame or guilt prevent them from returning to the path of recovery.

Another goal you can set for yourself this September is engaging with the untold number of Americans who are using drugs and alcohol to cope with the pandemic. Research from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicates that mental illness symptom incidences are far higher this year compared to the same period last year. Furthermore, many of the people struggling with such symptoms are using drugs and alcohol to cope. The CDC found:

Overall, 40.9% of respondents reported at least one adverse mental or behavioral health condition, including symptoms of anxiety disorder or depressive disorder (30.9%), symptoms of a trauma- and stressor-related disorder (TSRD) related to the pandemic (26.3%), and having started or increased substance use to cope with stress or emotions related to COVID-19 (13.3%).

National Recovery Month

Faces & Voices of Recovery

We want to point out that National Recovery Month is no longer sponsored by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). Now, Faces & Voices of Recovery has taken over stewardship of the annual observance. Their mission:

Faces & Voices of Recovery is dedicated to organizing and mobilizing the over 23 million Americans in recovery from addiction to alcohol and other drugs, our families, friends and allies into recovery community organizations and networks, to promote the right and resources to recover through advocacy, education and demonstrating the power and proof of long-term recovery.

There is a new Recovery Month website. Please click the links to learn more about National Recovery Month events or submit your event.

California Addiction Recovery Center for Men and Women

September 2020 can be your opportunity to break the cycle of addiction and learn how to live a productive life in recovery. At Hope By The Sea, we utilize the latest evidence-based treatment and recovery practices to help men and women heal from addiction and start their lives anew. Please contact us today to learn more about our programs and services. Hope Starts Here!

Hope by the Sea will continue to follow the CDC guidelines regarding COVID-19.

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