During today’s Opioid Summit at the White House, Eric Bolling shared the story of his son who died from an accidental overdose.

This is an incredible, short video from a parent of a son who died from opioids…   it is a rough watch, but very much worth your time.

A good time to think about stereotypes

There is no reason to believe people who live with mental illness are innately more creative than non-mentally ill people, or more violent.

In recent years, this and other mental health awareness campaigns have put a spotlight on the prejudices and false associations that surround mental illness.

Sometimes, the stereotypes don’t seem all that harmful. An image that often comes to mind is of a musician, a poet or painter holed up in an attic somewhere, creating masterpieces while suffering from feverish delusions. It’s a scene we’ve seen countless times in movies.

We all know the stories; Edgar Allan Poe, Ludwig van Beethoven and Vincent van Gogh are but a few luminaries who appear to have suffered from mental illnesses.

In reality though, there is no proof that people who live with mental illness are innately more creative than non-mentally ill people. Creativity is not some sort of mystical gift that comes coupled with a curse. Creative expression — the writings of Poe, the music of Beethoven, the paintings of van Gogh — is the product of hard work.

While a disproportionate number of artists do suffer from mental illness, researchers have theorized that this is because people who have mental illnesses use artistic expression as a coping mechanism.

David Goldbloom, a Canadian psychiatrist who has investigated the link between mental illness and creativity, has pointed out that mental illness actually hampers creativity. When artists are sick, they either can’t create, or the work they do is of poor quality compared to the work they do when they are well.

Certainly, the myth of the mad artist is at least a positive stereotype and far better than the other stereotype associated with mental illness — that of the dangerous, violent, unpredictable criminal.

Of course there is no truth to this idea, either.

Research has shown that a person’s propensity for violence correlates with socio-economic status, gender and life history, not his or her mental health.

However when a violent crime hits the news, we are quick to blame mental illness, which many of us see as the byproduct of faulty wiring. But mental illness is not an entirely biological phenomenon. It is partially the product of social environments.

One of the problems with stereotypes, positive or negative, is that they lead us into making irrational arguments. Just look at the way in which many people have been talking about U.S. President Donald Trump. It has been suggested that Trump’s “unpredictability” is evidence he is mentally ill and therefore unfit for office. A Google search for “Donald Trump unpredictability mental illness” yields 714,000 results.

Regardless of one’s opinion of Trump’s fitness for office, “unpredictability” is not a symptom of any mental illness, or an accurate description of a person suffering from any mental illness. It’s a completely invented facet of a stereotype.

Read more here…

Trauma and Opioid use

Theo Fleury writes:

Trauma is at the core of opioid use. OxyContin mimics the brain chemical oxytocin the drug of love & connection. When we are traumatized we disconnect from relationships& become isolated &disconnected. OxyContin gives people the euphoric feeling of connection. Numbs loneliness.

From the Calgary Herald

‘The crisis is not abating’: New stats show opioid deaths on the rise in Canada

Newly released statistics on opioid-related deaths in Canada through the first three months of the year suggest such fatalities are on the rise compared to each of the last two years.

The latest national report tracking deaths linked to the painkilling drugs, released on Tuesday, shows there were 1,036 apparent opioid-related deaths in Canada from January through March 2018.

The figure marks an increase of five per cent from the same period in 2017, and a 44 per cent jump from the first three months of 2016.

At the end of 2017, there were a total of 3,996 opioid related deaths, compared to 3,005 in 2016 — meaning just over 8,000 deaths have been linked to opioids since the start of 2016, leading Canada’s chief public health officer to warn that the opioid “crisis is not abating.”

“We continue to see an unprecedented number of opioid-related overdoses in Canada,” Dr. Theresa Tam said in a joint statement with Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia’s chief medical officer and Tam’s co-chair of a special advisory committee on the deadly scourge.

“The loss of life is tremendous and this national public health crisis continues to devastate the health and lives of many Canadians, their families and their communities.”

The majority of the deaths through the first quarter of 2018 were in British Columbia, Ontario and Alberta. Tam and Strang say the data suggest increases in opioid-related deaths in other parts of the country as well.

Fentanyl or fentanyl analogues were involved in nearly three-quarters of deaths earlier this year — an increase again from 2017 and 2016 — and victims were most often men. About 94 per cent of all deaths were considered accidental, or unintentional, overdoses, with the largest concentration in the 30- to 39-year-old age group.

Read more here…

My family has a history of alcoholism. Here’s how I’m teaching my son to fight back.

From The Washington Post

October 10 at 9:00 AM

On a particularly sticky, Florida summer day, I watched as my son, then 8 years old, glided on his scooter up and down the ramps of the skate park. Occasionally he’d stop and observe the other kids sail across the pavement, flipping the base of their scooters around as they ascended higher than the confines of the park’s ramps.

My son, watching one boy in particular, asked me to find out how he was able to kick off the steepest ramps with such ease. My son wanted to do the same, but he was scared.

“I think you should ask him,” I said. My son, whose fear of asking and being rejected was stronger than his yearning to scale the tallest ramp at the skatepark, scoffed, folded his arms and stomped away. He circled the other child on his scooter, watching and calculating. Then he came back and pleaded with me to ask the other boy to help him. I said no and maintained that he should be asking if he was the one who wanted the help. He stayed angry with me, scowling in my direction from time to time.

Read more here…

The Problem That Comes After Your Drinking Problem

It was only after I walked away from alcohol that people thought I needed help

I finally stopped using the addictive, carcinogenic drug ethanol, known by its street name alcohol, three months ago.

I’m not counting the days anymore. Not really. Because that would be the same as counting the days of the rest of my life. But still, I know it’s been three months, and I’m ready to start talking about it.

I don’t expect a congratulations, at least not from people who still drink regularly. When I was drinking I wouldn’t have congratulated you, either.

I expect something more like crickets. Crickets, plus awkward silence. Awkward silence, followed by awkward questions, questions like:

Why in the world would you do that?

Surely, you’re not one of them?

Not, you know, an alcoholic?

Well, no, I don’t think so. In truth, I don’t find that word particularly useful, and as such, I don’t identify with it. The term “alcoholic” places the problem within the person, not within the nature of the drug. Thinking that I was the problem is what kept me stuck, hooked on alcohol, long after I wanted to be free.

Depression in Recovery: Do You Have Low Dopamine Tone?

By Amy Dresner 09/10/18 – for The Fix

I just felt like shit and slept as much as I could. I showed up to work. I kept my commitments. I spoke when asked to, but I felt more than unhappy. I felt like I just didn’t care.

(The Fix does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment, nor does anything on this website create a physician/patient relationship.  If you require medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment, please consult your physician.)

I just came out of a six-week depression. That might not sound very long, but when you’re in hell it feels like forever. Good news: I didn’t bone any 25-year-old strangers; I didn’t cut myself; I didn’t get loaded; I didn’t smoke or vape although I really, really wanted to. I didn’t even eat pints of Ben and Jerry’s while binge-watching I Am A Killer. I just felt like shit and slept as much as I could. I showed up to work. I kept my commitments. I spoke when asked to, but I felt more than unhappy. I felt like I just didn’t care. I didn’t return phone calls. I didn’t wash my hair. Suicidal thoughts bounced around my head, but I ignored them like I do those annoying dudes with clipboards outside Whole Foods.

Rebuilding Your Life After a Relapse

If you have recently relapsed on your path toward sobriety, you know how emotionally challenging this can be. After a relapse, people can feel tremendously guilty, sad, and anxious. That being said, recognizing the severity of a relapse means that you understand the severity of your addiction. By understanding that your relapse was a misstep and not emblematic of your strength, resolve, or self-worth, you are better able to work toward forgiving yourself and moving forward. The following article suggests steps you can take to set yourself back on the path of recovery after a relapse.

Seek Professional Help

While you may be hesitant to tell someone about your relapse, talking to a professional can prove invaluable. It is important to understand that asking for help shows courage and commitment — you should not feel embarrassed about this. Addiction professionals are experienced working with individuals at every step of the recovery process and have encountered other individuals in a similar situation. For many, a good first contact is someone you have already worked with such as a counselor, sponsor, or group therapy leader. If you do not have a specific individual to reach out to, consider calling an addiction hotline for immediate support. Generally, addiction help hotlines are staffed by trained crisis care professionals who can offer immediate guidance and refer you to nearby resources.

Talk to Friends/Family

Building a strong support network is an integral component of the recovery process. Sharing your thoughts and feelings with another individual can reduce stress (especially work-related stress, which often acts as a trigger for substance abuse), anxiety, and sadness. Telling a loved one about your relapse also has the power to keep you accountable for certain actions. Sharing can also strengthen your relationship with certain key individuals and allow you to develop a system to prevent future relapses. For example, some people find it helpful to phone a friend/family member when they are feeling the need to engage in their addictive behavior. Lastly, an empathetic ear can remind you that you are not in this alone and strengthen your commitment to sobriety.

Forgiving Yourself

A relapse can often evoke feelings of intense shame, fear, and guilt. You may feel as if you failed yourself, your family, and your journey because of a certain action. While self-blame is very common after a relapse, it is important to work towards forgiving yourself in order to move forward. Addiction in general often stems from feelings of inferiority and low-self confidence. Blaming yourself for a relapse can intensify these feelings, thereby making another relapse more likely. Feeling ashamed about what you did can lead to increased substance usage rather than sobriety. Recognizing a relapse for what it is — a mistake — is fundamental towards moving forward.

Moving Forward

While moving forward after a relapse can feel overwhelming, consider thinking of this as an opportunity to adjust your sobriety strategy. Take some time to reflect on what circumstances and emotions led to your relapse. Once you recognize the elements that lead up to your relapse, you can begin to develop a strategy to prevent similar situations in the future. During this period of self-reflection, be honest with yourself and ready to take precautions to prevent a future relapse. Many individuals in addiction recovery find exercise and healthy eating to be highly beneficial. Physical activity and healthy, whole foods can increase dopamine levels, thereby helping you feel happy and relaxed. As you start to feel better, you are also likely to gain more self-confidence which has been linked to successful recovery.

The path towards recovery is just that — a path. Addiction recovery is not a finite destination, and it is possible to make mistakes along the way and still be successful. If you have recently relapsed, consider following some of the aforementioned steps. Lastly, always remember that you are not in this alone — there is always someone to listen, guide, and help.

Photo Credit: Pixabay