A Visual Journey Through Addiction

From the New York Times.

THE OPIOID EPIDEMIC is devastating America. Overdoses have passed car crashes and gun violence to become the leading cause of death for Americans under 55. The epidemic has killed more people than H.I.V. at the peak of that disease, and its death toll exceeds those of the wars in Vietnam and Iraq combined. Funerals for young people have become common. Every 11 minutes, another life is lost.

So why do so many people start using these drugs? Why don’t they stop?

Some people are more susceptible to addiction than others. But nobody is immune. For many, opioids like heroin entice by bestowing an immediate sense of tranquility, only to trap the user in a vicious cycle that essentially rewires the brain.

Getting hooked is nobody’s plan. Some turn to heroin because prescription painkillers are tough to get. Fentanyl, which is 50 times more potent than heroin, has snaked its way into other drugs like cocaine, Xanax and MDMA, widening the epidemic.

To understand what goes through the minds and bodies of opioid users, The New York Times spent months interviewing users, family members and addiction experts. Using their insights, we created a visual representation of how the strong lure of these powerful drugs can hijack the brain.

Dr. Pedro Mateu-Gelabert, one of the nation’s top opioid researchers, said this work brings “an emotional understanding” to the epidemic but “without glamorizing or oversimplifying.”

They invite you to share your experiences at the end of the page on the NY Times site – see the visual journey here.

How the way we talk about addiction can make it harder for people to recover

From CBC

People who need treatment often don’t seek out help because they fear stigma

Amanda Dick, who’s being treated for drug use, says she might have got help sooner if not for the stigma of being labelled an “addict.”

“It makes you feel like a stereotype … stealing, crime, lying — all sorts of things,” said Dick, 36, of Brampton, Ont.

Many medical professionals agree that the language around addiction can affect a person’s recovery, and there is a push to adopt terms that are less dismissive and more human.

Dick was in her mid-20s, working full-time as a medical administrator and living with her mother, when she began experimenting with cocaine and heroin. She became ill and thought she had the flu, until a friend told her she was experiencing symptoms of withdrawal.

“At that point I was absolutely terrified that anyone would ever find out,” she said.

“It’s still very shameful, and I think a lot of people are very hesitant to seek help and treatments because there’s this perception that you’re a bad person.”

Read more here…

Amanda Bynes opens up about quitting acting, her public downfall and being four years sober

From NBC News

“I got really into my drug usage and it became a really dark, sad world for me,” Bynes told Paper Magazine.

Amanda Bynes seems ready to move on from her troubled past.

In a new interview with Paper Magazine, Bynes opened up about her public downward spiral, including her infamous tweets directed at family members and other celebrities, and how life has been since getting sober almost four years ago.

Bynes said despite her “good girl” image when she was younger, she started smoking marijuana at 16 and that eventually escalated to her using harder drugs like molly and ecstasy. She said she also started using Adderall on a regular basis after “faking the symptoms of ADD” so a psychiatrist could write her a prescription.

The 32-year-old fashion student said she thinks her use of Adderall played a major role in her public downfall, which the world first got a glimpse of in 2010 while she was filming the movie “Hall Pass.”

“When I was doing ‘Hall Pass’, I remember being in the trailer and I used to chew the Adderall tablets because I thought they made me (more) high (that way),” she told the magazine. “I remember chewing on a bunch of them and literally being scatterbrained and not being able to focus on my lines or memorize them for that matter.”

Read more here…

 

Why Is CBD Everywhere?

From the NY Times

Cannabidiol is being touted as a magical elixir, a cure-all now available in bath bombs, dog treats and even pharmaceuticals. But maybe it’s just a fix for our anxious times.

It’s hard to say the precise moment when CBD, the voguish cannabis derivative, went from being a fidget spinner alternative for stoners to a mainstream panacea.

Maybe it was in January, when Mandy Moore, hours before the Golden Globes, told Coveteur that she was experimenting with CBD oil to relieve the pain from wearing high heels. “It could be a really exciting evening,” she said. “I could be floating this year.”

Maybe it was in July, when Willie Nelson introduced a line of CBD-infused coffee beans called Willie’s Remedy. “It’s two of my favorites, together in the perfect combination,” he said in a statement.

Read more here…

Co-Occurring Disorders and Overcoming Addiction for Women

As women we face a unique set of factors that make us more susceptible to addiction and substance abuse, and commonly suffer from co-occurring disorders as well.  In my journey as a woman in recovery I had to overcome much more than substance abuse. I also suffered trauma, sexual abuse, depression and anxiety. My hope is that sharing my experience with other women will help them to see that they are not alone and if I can overcome these things in my life they can too!

Depression and Anxiety

I can remember having anxiety as young as five years old.  I would ring my hands together and was constantly worried about something.  I was five years old what could I possibly have to be worried or stressed about?  But that is just how anxiety works, there is no rhyme or reason to it. It feels like you are constantly about to fall off a ledge.  I also have always been a perfectionist so if I was not the best at something in my eyes I was a failure. This only fuelled my anxiety and depression because I always felt like I was never good enough, or at least that’s what I told myself every day.  

My depression was at its worst when I was a little older, and I had my first suicide attempt at 15.  I tried self medicating with drugs and alcohol for years, which only led to worse depression and several more suicide attempts because I felt as if there was no other way out from how I was feeling.  I just wanted to give up.

My journey in recovery began when I was 34 and my addiction has spiraled out of control.  I knew nothing about addiction or that there was another way of life. Through treatment and working a program I have been sober for three years and found healthy ways to deal with my anxiety and depression, and become a happy, strong woman today!

Sexual Abuse and Trauma

When I was 19 years old memories of trauma and sexual abuse from my dad came flood black that I had blocked out for many years… Was I crazy?  Was I making it up? Did this actually happen? These memories and questions were just too much for me to process and my drinking took off into full blown alcoholism to numb my pain.  I had convinced myself that I was just being dramatic and was making up something that didn’t really happen because it was my dad, and that could not have happened! This was the hardest obstacle in my sobriety to overcome, acknowledging that this did in fact happen and begin to heal.  An alarming rate of addicts have also been victims of sexual abuse, but for many the shame of it keeps them from speaking up.

Through therapy with a psychiatrist I was able to resurface some of those painful memories of the abuse from the ages of five to fifteen.  I opened up to my mom when I was 25 about the abuse and she was hurt and angry. I still had to see my dad at family functions several times a year but did not tell anyone besides my mom what had happened to me.  One day I had enough of being a victim of sexual abuse and finally stood up for myself and spoke my truth. I told my dad that I knew what he did to me when I was younger. Of course denied it which just fuelled my insecurities about if it did actually happen.  

The most difficult and empowering day came when I was in a treatment center doing work with the owner in front of about 100 of the other patients.  He asked me if I had ever dealt with the sexual abuse from my dad and instantly the tears started rolling down my face. Over the next hour everything came flooding out of me, and I was able to scream all of the things I wanted to say to my dad about what he did. The most amazing part was after it was over everyone that was also sexually abused raised their hands.  Over ninety percent of the room raised their hands, I finally knew I was not alone. That day I went a victim of sexual abuse, to a survivor.

No matter what we have gone through we are not alone!  There is a healthy, and happy life in recovery just waiting for us! You are stronger than you think you are, and don’t ever let anyone tell you differently!  As women in recovery is important that we treat our minds, body, and spirit.Then we can begin on the road to healing, recovery, and transformation of our lives.

Crystal Hampton is a 37 year old avid writer from South Florida.  She loves snuggling with her teacup yorkie Gator and boyfriend Adam.  She works for a digital marketing company that advocates spreading awareness on the disease of addiction. Her passion in life is to help others by sharing her experience, strength, and hope.   

https://paducahrehab.com/

https://nashvilleoutpatientrehab.com/

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…