Fentanyl Danger Label

New Synthetic Opioids are Killing Even More People, CDC says

New synthetic opioids are killing more people than ever before, with more than half of all opioid overdose deaths caused by the powerful, lab-made drugs, federal officials said [in July 2018].

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a Health Alert Network warning about the increased supply of the illicit drugs, which are many times stronger than fentanyl, the prescription painkiller.

 

“The dramatic rise in the supply of illicitly manufactured fentanyl and fentanyl analogs has been mirrored by an equally dramatic rise in deaths involving synthetic opioids other than methadone, a category which includes fentanyl and fentanyl analogs,” the CDC said in its alert.

Death rates doubled between 2015 and 2016, the CDC said. “More than 55 percent of opioid overdose deaths occurring nationally in the 12 months ending November 2017 involved synthetic opioids, accounting for more than 27,000 overdose deaths,” the CDC said in the health alert, citing preliminary numbers.

That’s up from 20,000 overdose deaths from synthetic opioids in 2016.

People who overdose on the synthetics may need multiple doses of naloxone, the drug that can reverse an overdose, the CDC added.

The new drugs include carfentanil, which is 100 times more potent than fentanyl, the CDC said. Another is 3-methylfentanyl, which is four times as powerful. Deaths from these drugs nearly doubled from 2016 to 2017, the CDC said.

Other illicit synthetic opioids include furanylfentanyl and acrylfentanyl. “Finally, drug submissions testing positive for a synthetic illicit opioid known as U-47700, first encountered by the DEA in 2016, increased from 533 submissions in 2016 to 1,087 during January–June, 2017,” the CDC said in the alert, referring to the Drug Enforcement Administration.

Heroin Fentanyl Carfentanil

Some of the new drugs may not be detected by standard tests, and coroners and medical examiners may need to use a mass spectrometer to detect the substances.

And they’re often being used to cut other drugs, such as cocaine, the CDC said.

The U.S. is suffering through a terrible epidemic of opioid abuse. Opioids, including prescription opioids and heroin, killed 42,000 people in 2016, the CDC says. Opioid overdose deaths are so bad that they have helped drive down U.S. life expectancy.

Starting in 2016, most deaths were caused by the street synthetics. That continued into 2017, the CDC said. “This 12-month sum of synthetic opioid overdose deaths exceeds the total number of all opioid overdose deaths in 2013, when deaths involving synthetic opioids first began to climb,” the CDC said.

“Ohio alone reported more than 1,700 opioid overdose deaths testing positive for fentanyl analogs during July 2016–June 2017, with more than 1,100 of those deaths involving carfentanil.”

Emergency responders and physicians may not know that people overdosing on the synthetics may need extra care, the CDC said.

“Orally ingested counterfeit pills laced with fentanyl or fentanyl analogs may require prolonged dosing of naloxone in the ED hospital setting due to a delayed toxicity that has been reported in some cases,” the CDC said.

Original article here on NBC News.

By Maggie Fox / 

NBC News logo

 

Man Leaning on Wall

Alcohol, Opioid Addiction Meds Reduce Crime, Suicidality

Medications currently used to treat alcohol and opioid use disorders also appear to reduce suicidality and crime, results from a large population-based study suggest.

“While it has been established that these medications are effective in reducing alcohol and opioid use, this is the first time that real-world improvements in these key health and social outcomes have been demonstrated,” lead author Seena Fazel, MD, Department of Psychiatry, University of Oxford, United Kingdom, said in a statement.

“The findings support the appropriate prescription of opioid medications as an important strategy to reduce adverse outcomes related to opioid use disorder, particularly for suicidality, crime, and violent crime,” Fazel told Medscape Medical News.

The study was published online August 2 in the American Journal of Psychiatry.

Reduction in Suicidal Behavior

The researchers analyzed data for more than 21,000 people who received treatment with at least one of four medications used to treat alcohol and opioid use disorders. These included acamprosate (Campral, Forest Laboratories), naltrexone (multiple brands), methadone (multiple brands), and buprenorphine (multiple brands).

They compared rates of suicidal behavior, accidental overdose, and crime for the same individuals during the period when they were receiving one of these medications with rates during the period when they were not.

No significant associations with any of the primary outcomes were found for acamprosate.

For naltrexone, there was a reduction in accidental overdose during the period while on treatment compared to the period while off treatment (hazard ratio [HR], 0.82, 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.70 – 0.96).

Doctor Treating Patient

With buprenorphine treatment, significant reductions were found for overall arrest rates (HR, 0.77; 95% CI, 0.72 to 0.84) as well as for arrests for violent crime (HR, 0.65; 95% CI, 0.50 to 0.84) and accidental overdose (HR, 0.75; 95% CI, 0.60 to 0.93).

For methadone, there was a significant 40% reduction in suicidal behaviors (HR, 0.60; 95% CI, 0.40 – 0.88) during treatment, as well as significant reductions in overall arrest rates (HR, 0.87; 95% CI, 0.83 – 0.91) and arrest rates for violent crime (HR, 0.84; 95% CI, 0.73 – 0.96). However, methadone treatment increased the risk for accidental overdose (HR, 1.25; 95% CI, 1.13 – 1.38).

“Among individuals at high risk of accidental overdose, buprenorphine could be considered as a first-line treatment,” Fazel said.

Results Meaningful, Not Surprising

Commenting on the results for Medscape Medical News, Harshal Kirane, MD, director of addiction services, Staten Island University Hospital, New York City, said, “These results are not surprising but are incredibly meaningful and validate and reinforce some other observations.

“Alcohol and drugs generally have really devastating impacts on people’s lives, which include deterioration in social functioning, which can translate into deterioration in mental health, which in extremes can lead to suicide attempts and suicidality or criminality,” said Kirane.

“The idea that taking medication for drug and alcohol abuse, imbedded with other treatment services, may lead to a diminishment of those end-stage manifestations of addiction is very reassuring and highlights the value of trying to engage as many people as possible in medication-assisted treatment,” he added.

“It’s important to note,” said Kirane, “that this study was done in Sweden, and there are some aspects of substance abuse care that are quite different than in the US. Most notably, the level of engagement of Americans in addiction care is woefully low. Only about 10% to 15% at best of Americans who need care access any form of substance abuse care, whereas in Sweden, it’s about 70%.”

The study was supported by the Wellcome Trust, the Swedish Research Council, and the Karolinska Institutet. Dr Fazel and Dr Kirane have disclsoed no relevant financial relationships.

Am J Psychiatry. Published online August 2, 2018. Abstract

Megan Brooks, August 13, 2018

Link to original article here.

Link to original study and results here.

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Man and Woman Holding Frame

TriHealth Partners With BrightView to Battle Opioid Epidemic

TriHealth is partnering with BrightView, a local medical practice that treats people battling drug or alcohol addictions, to help the hospital system’s doctors and other providers with questions regarding the care of patients with opioid-use disorders.

BrightView is an outpatient practice that uses medical treatment in conjunction with psychological and social services. Based in Walnut Hills, BrightView has five locations and plans to open two more soon.

TriHealth said the partnership will complement its Bethesda Alcohol and Drug Treatment Program in Blue Ash and a similar one at Good Samaritan Hospital in University Heights.

Caring for patients with substance use disorders presents particular challenges, indicating the need for more training, support and partnerships, said Judith Mitchell, TriHealth’s director of behavioral health and co-facilitator of the TriHealth Opioid Steering Committee.

Doctor Writing Script

Among the opioid issues that nurses experience are patients with addictions repeatedly admitted to emergency rooms, gaps in care for patients with addictions, and difficulties because of health problems such as abscesses and significant infections.

TriHealth clinicians, staff and senior leadership are passionate about providing the best treatment for patients with opioid-use disorder, said Dr. Dallas Auvil, system chief of behavioral health at TriHealth.

“We want to make a difference, and we are,” Auvil said. “From the initial funding of the project by the Good Samaritan Foundation and bi3 (the grant making initiative of Bethesda Inc.) to the extensive development phase and ultimate delivery of care, everyone involved has brought their very best to serve our community during this deadly epidemic.”

“Together we are collaboratively addressing the opioid epidemic in Greater Cincinnati through multiple endeavors, including inpatient management, linkage to evidence-based outpatient treatment (and) Narcan distribution,” Dr. Shawn Ryan, president and chief medical officer of BrightView, said.

Original article here posted on Cincinnati Business Courier.

By Barrett J. Brunsman  – Staff reporter, Cincinnati Business Courier
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Believe Fest Yellow Bkg LOGO2

Get Your Tickets for BelieveFest 2018!

PROMOTING RECOVERY, HOPE & HEALTH

BrightView Foundation is proud to host our very first Believe Fest on September 8th, 2018 at Mt. Adams Pavilion. This event promotes recovery, hope and health. The Bronson Arroyo Band and Taylor Shannon will be performing live. Don’t miss out!

September 8, 2018, 4-7pm

Mt. Adams Pavilion
949 Pavilion Street
Cincinnati, OH 45202

  • Silent Auction
  • Info Booths
  • Vendors
  • Mock-tail Bar
  • Todd Dykes of WLWT will Emcee
  • Denver Bronco Vance Johnson speaking

Performances by:
Bronson Arroyo Band and Taylor Shannon

We will also be honoring Chief Tom Synan as our Believe Fest Hero!

TICKETS:

General Admission: $20
(includes soft drinks)

VIP Package: $40
(includes mock-tail, food and stage viewing area in the Penthouse Deck)

Click on the ticket image to purchase your tickets!

tickets

All proceeds benefit the BrightView Foundation’s harm reduction & treatment support programs.

 

Check out the full details for the event here!!!

 

Rate of Women Addicted to Opioids During Pregnancy Quadrupled in 15 Years, CDC says

Nationwide, the rate of opioid use disorder among women delivering babies more than quadrupled over the 15-year period ending in 2014, according to a Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report published Thursday by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Use of opioid drugs, whether heroin or prescription painkillers, during pregnancy harms the health of both mother and child and can lead to stillbirth, preterm labor, neonatal abstinence syndrome and, in some cases, death of the mother.

“More and more women are presenting with opioid use disorder at labor and delivery,” Dr. Wanda Barfield, director of the CDC’s Division of Reproductive Health, said in a statement. She added that the data included in the new report can provide a “solid foundation for developing and tailoring prevention and treatment efforts.”
Lowest state rates and highest
The CDC researchers, who did not include Barfield, analyzed hospital discharge data from the US Department of Health and Human Service’s Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project to characterize trends from 1999 through 2014.
During that time, the national prevalence of opioid use disorder diagnoses among women giving birth in hospitals increased 333%, from 1.5 cases per 1,000 deliveries to 6.5. This amounts to an average annual increase of 0.4 per 1,000 hospital deliveries per year.
The CDC’s analysis is based on data available for only 30 states.
In 1999, the prevalence of opioid use disorder ranged from 0.1 per 1,000 hospital deliveries in Iowa to 8.2 in Maryland. In 2014, prevalence ranged from 0.7 in the District of Columbia to 48.6 in Vermont. Prevalence also exceeded 30 per 1,000 hospital deliveries in West Virginia in 2014, while at the opposite end of the spectrum, Nebraska had the second lowest rate at 1.2 per 1,000.
Over the study period, average rate increases in opioid use disorder were lowest in California and Hawaii, where growth amounted to fewer than 0.1 cases per 1,000 deliveries each year, and highest in Maine, New Mexico, Vermont and West Virginia — all with an annual growth of more than 2.5 cases of opioid use disorder diagnosed per 1,000 deliveries.
Different state policies might contribute to this variability, the CDC authors believe. As of July, eight states required health care professionals to test for prenatal drug exposure when it is suspected, while 24 states and the District of Columbia require professionals to report suspected use among pregnant women. Twenty-three states and D.C. consider substance use during pregnancy to be child abuse, and three states consider it to be grounds for admitting a woman involuntarily into a psychiatric hospital.
Still, the CDC researchers noted that strict policies could cause women to try to conceal substance use from their providers. “Data on the impact of these policies are scarce,” the authors concluded.
The report offers a glimpse of one special group within the many faces caught in America’s opioid epidemic.
Mother and Baby Sleeping
Dr. Elizabeth E. Krans, an assistant professor in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology & Reproductive Sciences at the University of Pittsburgh, wrote in a paper published in July that “an expanded, socioeconomically and demographically diverse population” has become addicted to opioids over time.
Epidemic ‘touched everyone’

In the 1960s, more than 80% of patients entering treatment programs for opioid abuse were urban men who used heroin, Krans and her co-author wrote. But by 2010, the majority were women, often middle-class, living in less-urban or rural areas, and over 90% were white.

The opioid epidemic has “touched everyone,” Krans, who was not involved in the new CDC report, told CNN. “When something is so broad and affects all populations, we also see it reflected in the pregnant population.”
“Pregnancy is a really important time. Women are often worried that invested in their own health and the health of their baby, but they’re also fearful of judgment,” Krans said. Pregnant women are fearful that people will treat them negatively or, in the worst cases, remove their babies, she said.
“We have effective treatments that are available during pregnancy, and we want to encourage women to seek early care and engage in treatment as soon as possible,” Krans said, adding that pharmacological treatments include buprenorphrine and methadone.
At Magee-Womens Hospital of University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, where she works, services for pregnant women with opioid use disorder include social services, psychiatric and behavioral health support, and pediatric and neonatal support after delivery. “We’re trying to take a comprehensive approach,” she said.
Pregnant Woman Stomach
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends universal substance use screening at the first prenatal visit to manage opioid use disorder, according to the CDC.
“Arranging for pregnant patients with opioid use disorder to deliver at facilities prepared to monitor and care for infants with neonatal abstinence syndrome can facilitate access to appropriate care,” the CDC researchers wrote. “After delivery, women might need referrals to postpartum psychosocial support services, substance-use treatment, and relapse-prevention programs.”
Original article here posted on CNN.com.
woman resting head on mans chest

More in U.S. Say Drug Abuse Has Caused Family Trouble

Thirty percent of Americans say that drug abuse has caused trouble in their families. This is a significant increase from 22% in 2005, the last time Gallup asked the question, and a signal that the nation’s opioid epidemic, which has worsened in recent years, is taking a toll.

Family Graph 1

The latest reading, from a July 1-11 Gallup poll, marks the sixth time Gallup has asked the question dating back to 1995, when 19% of Americans said drug abuse had caused trouble in their families. Overdoses from prescription opioids began to increase around 1999, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), with a sharp increase in heroin overdoses in 2010 and another increase in 2013 as a result of synthetic opioids.

Between 1999 and 2000, the percentage of Americans saying drug abuse was the cause of family problems increased five percentage points to 22%, and it remained at that level through 2005. Although Gallup did not ask about the effects of drug abuse on families between 2005 and 2018, the latest figure, a historical high, tracks with the overall increase in deaths from opioids over that period.

While there are few differences in reports of drug-related family trouble by age, income, education and urbanicity, there are notable differences by region and gender.

  • Americans residing in the West (38%) are much more likely than those in the Midwest (27%), the South (26%) or the East (28%) to say their family has been affected by drug abuse. A similar pattern has been seen in previous Gallup polling. CDC data on opioid overdoses find that the West region was second to the Midwest region in showing the greatest increase between 2016 and 2017.
  • Women (33%) are more likely than men (26%) to say drug abuse has caused family trouble.

Alcohol Also a Source of Family Trouble

More Americans say drinking has caused family troubles than say the same of drug abuse. The current 37% reading matches Gallup’s historical high from July 2004 for this question, which was first asked in 1947 and has been featured consistently since 1974.

Since 1997, the percentage of Americans saying their families have been negatively affected by drinking has been mostly at or above 30%. Before that, Americans were less inclined to say alcohol caused family troubles. This is not attributable to an increase in the percentage of Americans who say they drink, as that has varied little since Gallup began asking about alcohol consumption in 1939. Instead, it could be the result of heightened awareness of alcohol-related problems in society.

Family Graph 2

Those who personally abstain from drinking alcohol are more likely than those who drink at least occasionally to say alcohol has caused trouble in their families, 44% to 33%. This is further evidence of a pattern seen in past Gallup polling. While it is not possible to determine the reason for this trend based on the data, it is conceivable that those who have experienced problems in their families as a result of alcohol may avoid it as a consequence. Or it may be that those who do not drink are more likely than those who do to characterize incidents related to alcohol consumption as problematic.

Smoking Causes More Problems Than Obesity Does in Americans’ Families

In addition to asking about family troubles related to alcohol and drug use, the survey also asked about family problems — namely, health problems — related to smoking and obesity.

Americans are much more likely to say smoking has caused serious health problems in their families than they are to say the same of obesity. Forty-three percent now say smoking has caused health problems. Gallup has asked this question eight times beginning in 1999, and the results have varied little — ranging between 39% and 45% — even as the overall rate of smoking in the population has decreased. Women and nonsmokers are more likely than men and smokers to say their families have experienced serious problems as a result of smoking.

Meanwhile, 24% of Americans say obesity has caused serious health problems in their families, nearly the same percentage as in 2007 (28%), the only previous reading for the question. Women, younger adults and those who say they are currently overweight are all more likely than their counterparts to say obesity has negatively affected their families’ health.

Bottom Line

Of four health issues tested by Gallup, smoking and drinking create more problems in American families than drug abuse and obesity. Yet the opioid epidemic, which President Donald Trump declared a public health emergency last October and which has driven up public perceptions of the nation’s drug problem, appears to have resulted in an uptick in the number of American families that have experienced trouble stemming from drug abuse.

Although drinking is still considered morally acceptable to most Americans, reports of family troubles associated with alcohol currently match their historical highs. Meanwhile, the U.S. smoking rate has hit a new low and most Americans view cigarettes as very harmful, yet more American families have experienced serious health problems from cigarettes than from any of the other health issues tested. As smoking becomes less prevalent, its negative effects on Americans’ health will likely begin to decline.

SURVEY METHODS

Results for this Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted July 1-11, 2018, with a random sample of 1,033 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. For results based on the total sample of national adults, the margin of sampling error is ±4 percentage points at the 95% confidence level. All reported margins of sampling error include computed design effects for weighting.

Each sample of national adults includes a minimum quota of 70% cellphone respondents and 30% landline respondents, with additional minimum quotas by time zone within region. Landline and cellular telephone numbers are selected using random-digit-dial methods.

View survey methodology, complete question responses and trends.

Original article here on gallup.com.

 

 

Women hugging in group therapy session

Disease or Choice? Insight From a Recovering Heroin Addict

A few years ago, I made a promise to myself that I tend to break every now and again. I challenged myself to never read comments or remarks about articles or creative pieces based on my story of addiction and recovery. Not just my own story, either. Any article written about the state of addiction. I know that there are always going to be people that disagree, and even argue to hold true to their own opinions. I also know that I cannot spend positive energy arguing with each person who has a negative remark. I will accomplish nothing but getting myself fired up and pissed off. That’s part of being a person in recovery. We are awesome like that.

For so many years I was a very violent person. I used intimidation and control to get what I wanted. I would physically fight someone over a parking spot at the grocery store. When I found recovery, that was one of the big things I had to change. Changing from reacting to responding. But the biggest lesson of all was that I don’t have to respond to anything at all if I don’t want to. I don’t have to give my opinion. I don’t have to fight about anything, unless it’s something I’m passionate about. Then I’ll fight the right way.

Amy Parker, Peer Support Recovery Specialist, BrightView

Hello. This is how I fight the right way, today.

Lately, for whatever reason (inspiration maybe?) I’ve been reading comments.

“Addicts are weak and weak minded. They can’t deal with life so they use drugs and we’re supposed to feel sorry for them.”

If I were to respond, it would look something like this: First of all, who is “we” and why are you speaking for anyone else but yourself? Own what you say. Don’t use the excuse of this being a collective opinion to back up your own idea. Why are you judging someone and who gave you the idea that your opinion should have validity about another person’s life? Have you stopped to think about how a person developed the disease of addiction? Have you ever considered what that pathway looked like? No one wakes up one day and says, “I think I’m going to try heroin for the first time today and for the rest of my life struggle with addiction and the aftermath of it, if I even live through any of it.” What if it were your loved one?

I can only speak to how my disease developed. When I was fourteen years old, I had the first of seven knee surgeries in a five-year span. With the first surgery, Vicodin was prescribed to as a routine pain medicine – not for acute pain primarily following a surgical procedure. I received a refill every thirty-days, whether I needed it or not. I was being treated for chronic pain before I was old enough to understand chronic pain. Throughout this time of my life, I was going through some emotional and behavioral issues. I was suffering through several psychiatric medication changes. My brain chemistry was constantly being changed by different medications. It always felt like no one cared about what was happening to my brain and my body. I knew I wasn’t normal. I knew that the medication had changed me. I saw myself go through so many different stages because of all of these medications. At one time, at age 15, I was taking seven different Psychiatric medications along with opiate pain medicine. I gained over 150 lbs in less than six months as a teenager. And I wasn’t learning coping skills on how to change my behaviors or make different choices. It was finally me that stood up and said, No more! I’m not doing this anymore. I’m not taking these medications. They make me empty and numb.

When I stopped taking my medication, I also stopped what very little therapy I was getting for my diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder. By age 16, doctors told my mother that her daughter is an addict. At age 16 I had only smoked marijuana and taken my prescription medicine as prescribed. Let that sink in for a moment. How many people do you know that only smoke pot but are not addicts? How many people do you know that take Vicodin as prescribed and you would never consider them to be an addict? They live very productive lives, good parents, are never in any kind of trouble. Your wheels are turning, aren’t they? Good. Now I’ve got your attention.

Amy Parker Being Interviewed

The result of my dropping out of school and continuing behavioral issues lead me to a lifestyle my family had not planned for me. I quickly entered into a life of crime and heavy illicit drug use: cocaine, ecstasy, meth and pain pills. I chose which drugs I was using and when. If I wanted to feel happy and have energy, I would choose cocaine and ecstasy. If I wanted to sleep and relax, I would choose Xanax and ketamine. I was doing what I was taught to do.

I certainly didn’t choose to be a person with a substance use disorder. I did not choose to be an addict. I definitely chose the drugs that I used. I definitely made the choice to put a needle into my veins. I absolutely made the choice to live the lifestyle that I lived for so many years. With every left turn that I made, I had the choice between turning left or right. But I’m not the one that made the choice to develop the disease of addiction. That choice wasn’t given to me. That choice was taken from me at 14 years old when I was being given a dozen pills a day. There was never a discussion of what the Psychiatric drugs were doing to my brain chemistry. There was never, ever a discussion of what addiction is when I was 14, or 16 or 21 or 25. Not until I was 30 years old would a Psychiatrist help me understand what was going on in my brain and why. In March of 2012, I got the real help I needed to break the chains that my illnesses had over me.

Amy Parker Public Speaking

Today I’ve been in recovery from addiction for six years and mental illness for four years. I do not take any medications, except for heartburn (Heartburn is the devil!). I made the choice to end the control that drugs had over my entire life and body. Today, I will choose anything else over taking a medication for anything I’m going through. I have peripheral nerve disease, Crohn’s disease and some terrible arthritis. I meditate, I do yoga and I take care of myself. I no longer suffer with anxiety or depression. I haven’t had an urge to use drugs in more than four years. I’m happy and I’m at peace with myself.  I’m 36 years old. I have a 3 year old, a 15 year old, a healthy marriage and an amazing career as a Peer Recovery Support Specialist for BrightView Health in Cincinnati. I make choices that are healthy for me. Informed choices that I have a say in making. I’m badass. I am a woman who gets shit done.

Instead of debating whether addiction is a disease or choice (By the way, the science shows that addiction is a chronic relapsing brain disease), start trying to understanding how a person develops the disease of addiction. What happened in a person’s life that leads him/her to the darkness and suffering of addiction? People with addiction are sons, daughters, friends, siblings. They’re humans just like you and me. The real debate here should be why are we instantly grouping people into a stigma that is killing folks every single day? Saying that addiction cannot be a disease because of choices made is part of the problem. I want to be part of the solution, don’t you?

Amy Parker is a Peer Recovery Support Specialist and Community Outreach Manager at BrightView.

To read Amy’s entire story about addiction and perseverance click here.

Original article here.

Lonely Girl On Stairs

What They Don’t Tell You About Being Young and Sober

When news of Demi Lovato’s alleged relapse broke last week, it rocked me to my core. While the substances we’ve struggled with are different, the fears and anxieties that any twenty-something faces, the realities that can bring someone to seek a balm, no matter how toxic, aren’t quite so dissimilar.

In her September 2015 Cosmopolitan cover story, Lovato said, “The only times [she and Wilmer Valderrama] ever broke up were when I was relapsing, whether it was drugs or in a bad place and rebelling against everybody, not just him.” She added, “I didn’t realise it at the time, but I just wanted to sabotage everything around me so that I could sabotage myself.”

I realised that my drinking had become a major problem when I was 22. Just barely old enough to legally drink, I’d begun doing the things I told myself I never would: drinking during the week. Driving drunk. Drinking in front of my young son. My drinking “career” started, some might say, late—at 18—and ended early after it escalated at a scary pace. I went from drinking once every few months, to every couple of weeks, to nearly daily in a period of nine months.

I’d become a mother early, too early, and the pressure of raising a child while still trying to figure out who I was resulted in peak levels of anxiety. After trying everything to cope—church, yoga, running, healthy eating—I turned to alcohol.

WomanYellingPaintScribbles

Nearly nine years later, at 31, I’m grateful that I made my way toward sobriety. But in the beginning, the thought of being young and living without alcohol terrified me. How exactly was I supposed to talk to strangers without a drink in hand? Or dance unselfconsciously with friends?

At 22, I was single, and navigating a city that I’d moved to just a few years earlier. My then-ex (he’s now my husband, but that’s a story for another day) and I shared custody of our toddler, and when I wasn’t trying to balance preschool drop-offs, play dates, and a full-time job, I was trying to build up a group of friends that I could call up to party with on a Friday night or head to the beach the next day—girlfriends with whom I could share the intimate details of my life.

Alcohol fuelled nearly all of these interactions, as a crutch for both me and the people around me. At the time, I worked in the restaurant industry where everyone drank as much as I did or more, so I didn’t feel out of place. Jumping around at concerts and going out to nightclubs required alcohol to really feel the vibe. When I was sober, my self-consciousness took over—I have zero rhythm, and alcohol gave me the freedom to dance my heart out.

And then there was dating. I needed a glass of wine or margarita to ease that first-date tension (or, let’s face it, escape the reality of being on a bad date).

When it came to parenting, a glass of Moscato at the end of a particularly trying day made the stresses of dealing with a 2-year-old meltdown seem a little less severe. It became routine to take him to a friend’s house, let him play with her kids, and down a shot or two. If she wasn’t available, I’d put him down for bed and sit on the sofa cross-legged and alone, with my wine glass in hand as I stared blankly at the television.

In short: booze coloured the ins and outs of my life at every turn, and I can imagine the intimidation of being young and sober weighing on Lovato like it did on me.

Transitioning into sobriety wasn’t easy. For a long time, I ignored invites from friends because I didn’t know how to tell them I wasn’t drinking anymore. I didn’t want to answer their questions. After a while, the friends who drank as much as I did fell away, which helped me realize that those relationships were superficial.

Eventually I was able to find like-minded young people through a sober program that I found online. I also found a Facebook group of sober young people. As it turns out, sobriety is a lifestyle for a lot of young people whether they identify as alcoholics or not, and I found that having sober-fun suited me better than having drunk-fun. Drunk-fun nights always ended with tears or fighting, and blacking out. Going to a concert sober and being able to actually remember the whole thing the next day gave me a feeling of deep relief and gratitude.

WomenLookingOutWindow

As an alcoholic, I fight my disease every day. There are nights, like last New Year’s Eve, when everyone around me is sipping merrily and I wish I could drink like everyone else. There are days when my clinical anxiety torments me, and I’d like to be able to quiet the noise. And there are moments when I miss the carefree feeling of a drunken night or the freedom from insecurities during sex that comes with alcohol.

When I think of these things, of the difficulty of being young and sober, my heart goes out to Lovato. She spends her days and nights in an industry known for its parties, each with an endless selection of readily available poisons. Despite the support system around her, I imagine temptation lurks around every corner. Being young and sober is hard. Being young, sober, and in the public eye must be, at times, unbearable.

The thing is, if Lovato did indeed relapse, she’s no less of a fighter. She’s tackling addiction on a daily basis, and as I know from personal experience, sometimes the battle feels like too much. But relapse is a part of many people’s journey to sober living, so her fight will continue.

The beautiful thing about Lovato is that she realizes she not just fighting for herself, she’s fighting for all of us who know the weight of addiction. She has and hopefully will continue to speak openly and honestly about her struggles, because in doing so, she’s breaking down the walls of stigma. She gives people like me the courage to speak out. As she sings in her song “Sober,” I wanna be a role model, but I’m only human.” No, Demi—you’re both.

Article written by Nicole Slaughter Graham

Original article here on Cosmopolitan.com.

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Children in Cincinnati Experience Parental Loss At Higher Rate Than National Average

Children here are experiencing a parent’s death or incarceration at alarming rates, a new survey shows, in what appears to be, in part, another symptom of the opioid epidemic.

On Friday, Interact for Health, a nonprofit community health advocate and funder, released the results of the 2017 Child Well-Being Survey, taken by more than 2,700 parents and guardians in a 22-county swath of Southwest Ohio, Northern Kentucky and Southeast Indiana.

It found:

  • Nearly 15 percent of children in the area have a parent who has been jailed. That compares to 8 percent nationwide.
  • About 8 percent of the region’s children had a parent or guardian die – compared to 3 percent nationwide.

“While this survey doesn’t tell us why, substance abuse is a likely contributor,” said Sonya Carrico, senior program officer for the opioid team at Interact for Health. “Our region has some of the highest rates of drug overdose deaths in the nation, many among adults age 25 to 44, and the percentage of youth in foster care due to parental substance abuse is on the rise.”

Adult holding child

In a more local indicator of the epidemic’s impact on kids, 30 percent of the children in custody of Hamilton County Job and Family Services were removed from their homes because they had a parent addicted to drugs.

Maureen Sharib of Mount Lookout, who is raising her granddaughter, Brianna, is convinced that the survey results are related to Greater Cincinnati’s opioid crisis.

“The epidemic’s toll is hard to measure, but these numbers have to be considered every time you hear an ambulance passing or see one parked in the street,” said Sharib. “Just about every time you see that, there are children involved.”

“Innocent children standing by, watching the horror of what’s happening to the people who are most important to them in their lives,” Sharib said. “There is no taking that away – ever. There is no bandage that can salve those wounds.”

Her daughter, Natalie Bauer, died Jan. 29, 2017, from an overdose after a long battle with addiction. She had fentanyl and Xanax in her bloodstream.

Brianna is 10, and has been living with her grandmother since she was 15 months old. Sharib’s sister, Peggy Bartl, has custody of Brianna’s brother, 5-year-old Jaxon.

Young boy against garage

The Child Well-Being Survey included other questions about issues that could trigger trauma in children and might have an impact on their future mental and physical health. Losing a parent to death or incarceration are just a couple of such factors, which researchers call Adverse Childhood Experiences, or “ACES.” 

“When children experience prolonged, intense, frequent stress, their bodies may respond to elevated stress hormone levels in ways harmful to their growth and development,” explained Dr. Robert Shapiro, director of the Mayerson Center for Safe and Healthy Children at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center.

While he did not tie the survey’s findings directly to the epidemic, Shapiro said, “An example of this type of stressful experience includes when parents are deeply affected by opioid use.”

Carrico noted that some children have even witnessed a parent’s overdose, fatal or non-fatal, and others have had basic needs, such as shelter, food or clothing, neglected by parents who are in the throes of addiction.

But the exposure to such frightening experiences doesn’t always lead to poor health outcomes, Shapiro said.

“We can prevent these harmful effects by building supportive communities, by promoting strong caring relationships with adults and by strengthening a child’s social and emotional skills.”

Brianna and Jaxon are surrounded by nurturing family and carefully chosen activities to support them as they grow.

“We keep them involved in school activities, we closely monitor their scholastic progress with their teachers,” Sharib said. “We try to expose them to nature – no, actually we thrust them into nature – nature camps, horseback riding, swimming lessons, pool memberships – all that.”

“Both children see psychologists,” their grandmother added.

But Sharib noted that a lot of people who are caring for children of the epidemic don’t have the financial stability to provide the same level of activities and care.

And the survey results show that more of the children who are impacted by a parent’s death or incarceration have families whose incomes fall below the national poverty line.

 The Child Well-Being Survey included other issues that can traumatize children, as well. With most of these issues, the area’s region fared similarly to children nationwide.

About 23 percent of the region’s children have a parent who has divorced, compared to about 25 percent nationwide, for example.

Most parents and guardians here say the children living in homes in excellent to good condition and rated the homes in their neighborhoods from good to excellent. The responses varied by location, with respondents from the city of Cincinnati giving lower ratings.

Interact for Health, which advocates for and funds community health initiatives in the area, and Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center funded the research with support from the United Way of Greater Cincinnati. The University of Cincinnati’s Institute for Policy Research conducted the research.

A random sample of 2,757 adult caregivers was interviewed from March 5-Aug. 9, 2017. Researchers said that, in 95 of 100 cases, the estimates are accurate to plus or minus 1.9 percent.

To see the full report, visit Interactforhealth.org/child-well-being-survey.

To learn more about how to fight childhood adversity, visit Joining Forces for Children online.

Original article here posted on thecincinnatienquirer.com published August 3rd, 2018.

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Video: BrightView’s Dr. Ryan and Amy Parker on WCPO

In 2012, Amy Parker reached a breaking point. Her addiction to heroin had become so severe it eliminated all options but two: Find help immediately or find more heroin. If she hadn’t been admitted to treatment the day she made the decision to seek it, Parker is certain she would have relapsed.

“It’s that desperate,” she said.

And a drug user’s moments of clarity and conviction can be that brief.

Now a peer recovery supporter at BrightView, a local treatment center, Parker emphasized the importance of ensuring people dealing with addiction can strike while the iron is hot and get treatment when they’re prepared to receive it.

That’s why Parker said she likes FindLocalTreatment.com, a service that can help people seeking addiction treatment find recovery centers near them with room to take on a new patient.

“Part of our tech team interacts with the treatment platform to make sure it’s up-to-date at all times,” Brightview’s Dr. Shawn Ryan said.

The goal is simple: Don’t let the process of finding help stand in the way of recovery.

In the three months since the site launched, FLT has had thousands of hits. The most common addictions for which users seek help are heroin, alcohol and prescription opioids.

To check out the original video click here.

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