Those Most at Risk for Heroin Addiction
With the recent spike in opioid addictions and the epidemic that seems to be sweeping across the United States, it is noteworthy to point out some traits that occur in individuals that are most likely to become addicted to heroin. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) put together a list of characteristics which most exemplify those at risk:
- People who are addicted to prescription opioid painkillers
- People who are addicted to cocaine
- People without insurance or enrolled in Medicaid
- Non-Hispanic whites
- People who are addicted to marijuana and alcohol
- People living in a large metropolitan area
- 18 to 25 year olds
Upon examination of the list, it is apparent why there is such an increase in heroin addictions. Gone are the days when the risks of addiction were slight and specific – limited to very specific demographics. With these traits the CDC has identified, is it easy to see that so many of us possess the risk qualities for heroin addiction.
Drug Abuse in Summer
Many people associate the summer months of June, July, and August with partying and alcohol/drug abuse. Those who are out of school or work in the summer have more time on their hands to experiment with or abuse drugs and alcohol. In fact, a recent survey showed that first time drug abuse, including marijuana, inhalant, and hallucinogen use, most often occurs during these summer months. Further, environmental and situational events that come as the weather warms up can lead to increased drug abuse as well. These include:
- Independence Day, Labor Day, Memorial Day and Graduation
- Stress due to family vacations or kids on summer break
- Lack of athletic drug testing in the summer
- Increased drug and alcohol availability as warmer weather provides easier transport
- Cold alcohol on warm summer days
- Research shows that heat waves increase drug use
Whatever the reason, if individuals are prone to drug abuse due to weather changes, being aware can help addiction recovery. Just like with the depression that overwhelms many in the winter months that leads people to turn back to addictions and patterns of abuse, steps must be taken to be proactive about recovery in the summer as well. Awareness of one’s triggers and planning and/or attending events where drugs and/or alcohol are not present is key to avoiding drug abuse in the summer.
Opiate epidemic Hitting Whites and Older Individuals Hardest
The recent opiate epidemic that has swept the United States has impacted all races and ages. However, the rate of overdoses due to opiates is highest among the white race, and those between the ages of 45-54 years of age. The Centers of Disease Control reported that by 2014, whites and Native Americans were dying at double or triple the rates of African-Americans and Latinos.
One possible explanation for this data was reported in the New York Times. They indicated that “racial stereotypes” might be one explanation for the gap. That is to say, because doctors are much more reluctant to prescribe painkillers to minority patients, worrying that they might sell them or become addicted, minority patients have been prescribed opioids less and have therefore had less of a chance to become addicted.
However, Latinos and African-Americans have not escaped the opioid epidemic unfortunately. Even though the media focuses most of its attention on how white, middle class people have been impacted by opioid prescriptions, African American opioid use and Latino opioid use have both climbed 200 and 140 percent respectively since 2010.
Also noteworthy is that heroin overdoses occur most often in individuals between 25-34 years. Opioid overdoses, however, occur most often a decade later – when people are in their late forties and early 50s. Most likely this is because younger people are more prone to become addicted to street drugs; they are at a stage in their lives where they take more risks and engage in more dangerous behaviors. People 10 years older may take opioids after an injury or a surgery, having had them prescribed by a doctor. They become addicted when they trust the opioid prescription but become addicted to its effects.
Facebook Adds Suicide Prevention Tools
Facebook has recently introduced new tools designed to prevent suicide in Japan, where it is a leading cause of death. The new tools, previously released in the United States on June 14, include a V-shaped symbol on the upper right-hand corner of the screen that can be pressed to flag and report that a user is concerned about a post being suicidal. This is great news in suicide prevention as people across the world can now flag a message as one that could raise concern about suicide or self-harm. After a post is flagged, those posts will then come to the attention of Facebook’s global community operations team, a group of hundreds of people around the world who monitor flagged posts 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Kumiko Hidaka, a Facebook spokeswoman in Japan said, “Thanks to this update, Facebook can offer more generous support to help people who post a message suggesting bad physical and mental conditions.” If Facebook users report a concern about suicide, they are invited to complete other functions on Facebook, such as sending a direct message, consulting another Facebook friend or reading information from specialists. The new tool aims to give friends and family more resources when they think a loved one needs help. Facebook partnered with the Suicide Awareness Voices of Education, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, and Forefront to develop the tool
Further, the person who wrote the flagged post will also see a page that says someone is concerned about when they log into their account the next time. With all of the attention given to how many “likes” posts and pictures receive, just knowing someone is aware of the Facebook user could help them to reconsider their suicidal feelings.
The website upi.com reports that, “Facebook dominates among online networks – about 72 percent of Americans, and 77 percent of U.S. women use Facebook, according to Pew Research. Suicide has reached a 30-year-high in the United States, particularly among women and middle-aged Americans.
In Japan, 24,025 deaths were reported as suicides in 2015, according to the National Police Agency. Suicide in Japan was also the most common cause of death among people between the ages of 15 and 39 in 2014.” (upi.com)
Source: Elizabeth Shim, upi.com
How Does a Mother’s Drug Abuse Impact her Children?
A recent study looked at children with mothers who abused drugs and the impacts of such. The findings show that the children are at high risk for physical, academic, and socio-emotional problems. Most of the mothers have low-income status, little education, mental illness, are prone to abuse or neglect their children, and have little contact with their children’s fathers. Because of these defining characteristics of the mothers struggling with drug abuse, the children also suffer.
The study indicated that several risk factors are involved in the parent child relationship and environment when a mother is abusing drugs. The higher the number of factors, the more likely that the child will develop a lower IQ and struggle with other things in their life, such as social and emotional problems. Further, the research indicated that often, the children were removed to their father or grandfather’s care, who were shown to also frequently manifest “problems of their own (histories of addiction, abuse and neglect of their own children) that may limit their ability to provide a supportive home for a child” (Conners et. Al, 2003). Also, the data showed that many of the children grew up to repeat the drug abuse cycle they watched their mothers struggle with: drug abuse, family conflict, and physical and/or sexual abuse.
Noteworthy is the fact that the study indicated that more support and help needs to be given to the children of mothers with drug abuse issues. Most residential treatment programs offer little or no help for the care of a mother’s children while she undergoes treatment, although a few do. But adapting, programs that help both the mother and her children and provide a full range of services when drug abuse is present, is critical.
Source: The American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse, 2003
US Drug Abuse by Region
Drug abuse is a problem everywhere in society- from types of drugs used, to amounts of drugs used, to ages and other demographics of those using drugs. In examining different regions, several factors show up. A recent study by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (2011) showed many interesting factors.
For instance, illicit drugs are popular on the West coast, in Colorado and in the Northeast. The South has the most smokers and the Midwest has the most binge drinkers. Vermont has the most drug use, with Colorado next in line, and Utah has the least amount of drug use.
As far as marijuana is concerned, Vermont leads the pack and also leads in the amount of teens that have smoked marijuana in the past month at 14.04%. Interestingly, the states where smoking marijuana is the most prevalent seem to think that smoking weed is not risky, but half of the people surveyed in Mississippi think it is risky.
Cocaine use is the highest in the nation’s capital, Washington D.C. with other users coming from the West, Northeast, and Colorado. And, illegal pain pill use was shown to be even more widespread than cocaine use – Oregon reported 6.37%, while Iowa was lowest at 3.62%.
As far as alcohol is concerned, Massachusetts takes the cake with 63% consuming alcohol in the last month. Not surprisingly, Utah is ranked the lowest in alcohol use. Binge drinking is very common in North and South Dakota as well as in Montana. Ironically, that region of the US indicated that they do not think binge drinking is very risky.
Tobacco/cigarette use is the most common in the South with West Virginia reported 38.46% of their residents using in the past month. However, the country as a whole is very aware of the risks associated with smoking-with California being the most aware and informed.
The Western half of the country is more addicted to alcohol, with the exception of Utah, and drug addiction is also more prevalent in the West vs. the East– although Vermont also ranks high. And teen drug addiction is fairly low overall: most states rank between just 2-3.6% minus a few.
What is Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder?
Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder (OCD) is characterized by a pattern of preoccupation with orderliness, perfectionism, and control at the expense of flexibility, directness, and productivity. Steve Bressert, PhD, indicates in an article on psychcentral.org titled Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder Symptoms that OCD usually begins in early adulthood and manifests in “4 (or more) of the following:
- Is preoccupied with details, rules, lists, order, organization, or schedules to the extent that the major point of the activity is lost
- Shows perfectionism that interferes with task completion (e.g., is unable to complete a project because his or her own overly strict standards are not met)
- Is excessively devoted to work and productivity to the exclusion of leisure activities and friendships (not accounted for by obvious economic necessity)
- Is over-conscientious, scrupulous, and inflexible about matters of morality, ethics, or values (not accounted for by cultural or religious identification)
- Is unable to discard worn-out or worthless objects even when they have no sentimental value
- Is reluctant to delegate tasks or to work with others unless they submit to exactly his or her way of doing things
- Adopts a miserly spending style toward both self and others; money is viewed as something to be hoarded for future catastrophes
- Shows significant rigidity and stubbornness” (Bressert, psychcentral.org)
Most often, OCD is diagnosed in adulthood and not during childhood or adolescence when development and maturation are occurring. Also interesting about the diagnosing of OCD is the fact that OCD is diagnosed in males twice as much as in females and is prevalent in about 4.5% of the population. Further, OCD symptoms and tendencies decrease with age, with most individuals experiencing less of the more extreme symptoms by their 40s and 50s.
Don’t Fear Detox
Often, people hear more of the negative things about detox than the positive. For this and other reasons, detox is often feared or avoided when in fact, the reality is, detox can be life threatening or life saving, depending on how it’s approached.
For instance, in extreme withdrawal cases without supervision or medical attention, detox can be a life threatening process that should be feared. But with professional treatment, detox can be empowering and healing in so many ways. Of course, the severity of the withdrawal symptoms are linked to the type of drug and the frequency of use. Further, it’s important for longtime and frequent drug and alcohol abusers to seek professional detox treatment in order to ensure safety. Also, highly addictive drugs such as prescription painkillers can cause the body to become physically and mentally dependent; stopping cold turkey is dangerous and unsafe.
The detox process is unique to each substance and it’s unique to each individual, which is why medical supervision is highly recommended. Finding a facility that is trustworthy and has a good record is key in feeling safe during detox and avoiding anxiety or fear.
Are You a Binge Drinker?
Recent research from the University of Alabama at Birmingham estimates that 1,825 college students ages 18-24 die each year from alcohol-related injuries like car accidents, about 20 percent of college students meet the criteria for an alcohol use disorder, and 1 in 4 college students report academic consequences from drinking. So binge drinking is a college kid problem right? Everybody grows out of it right? Research says, “not so.” Although most people associate binge drinking with college age individuals, it isn’t exclusive to young adults. In fact, a recent CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) report suggests that over 38 million adults binge drink an average of four times a month. The report also indicated that those who make more than $75,000 and those over 65 years of age are more apt to binge drink (not your typical college kid). If you’re wondering if you or someone you love is caught in a dangerous cycle of binge drinking, look for the following 6 signs:
- Overall, the individual takes more risks than they use to
- Larger quantities of alcohol are consumed more often than before
- They can’t to stop drinking at a “predecided limit”
- They black out after drinking
- They’ve becoming more negligent or lazy recently
- Their close friends and/or family are concerned
W-18: A New Dangerous and Addicting Street Drug
Health officials are growing concerned about the recent emergence of a drug called W-18, a synthetic opiate like fentanyl that produces a heroin-like high, but is 100 times as potent and powerful as heroin and 10,000 times more powerful than morphine. W-18 is making it’s way into North America. Although it was developed in Canada as an alternative painkiller, it wasn’t manufactured and sold until a Chinese chemist discovered the formula.
Most likely, W-18 is being produced in labs in China then is being shipped to North America through services such as FedEx. Being sold as a quick high for users, W-18 has made its way first in Canada, and then slowly into the United States. The circulation of this drug is very concerning for many reasons – mostly because there are so many unknowns. The effects of this drug is unknown because there were no formal tests or trials conducted. It is also undetectable in in urine and/or blood and therefore a physician would not be able to tell if a patient is overdosing from this specific drug. After some instances where W-18 was involved in overdosing in Florida, a local Florida epidemiologist was reported to say, “This is the most deadly drug trend I’ve seen in 31 years.”
Recently, reports indicate that W-18 is moving up the coast from Florida into cities such as Philadelphia. Another huge concern with W-18 is that there are rumors that W-18 is being mixed with or cut-in with other drugs, such as heroin, making them even more potent and deadly.