Of the 63,600 drug overdose deaths reported in 2016, 42,249 were attributed to opioids. The effects on the brain of the two most commonly prescribed prescription opioids (hydrocodone and oxycodone) are virtually indistinguishable from those of heroin. The addictive nature of prescription opioids is partially responsible for the current prescription drug crisis and the huge underground market in which people buy and sell these drugs illegally.
While the short, dark days of winter trigger seasonal affective disorder (SAD) in many people, the sunny days of summer bring on SAD for a small percentage of the population — 1% according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI).
Sometimes called reverse seasonal affective disorder, summer SAD can be just as debilitating as its winter counterpart. In fact, research shows that despite popular belief that winter months and holidays bring about a spike in depression, suicide rates actually peak during spring and summer months.
The leading cause of disability, major depressive disorder impacts about 16.1 million adults and 25 million people of all ages in the U.S. and more than 300 million people worldwide. Depression is a serious but treatable illness characterized by intense feelings of sadness, emptiness, hopelessness, anger or apathy. Although many people respond to a combination of medication and outpatient psychotherapeutic approaches, as many as one-third of individuals with major depression do not respond adequately to treatment. At least 50% of all people who die by suicide suffer from major depression; this figure increases to 75% when a depressed person is suffering from co-occurring alcohol abuse. In those who attempt suicide, immediate hospitalization is paramount.
Drug overdose is an increasing public health burden in the U.S., with 63,600 deaths reported in 2016, 42,249 of which were attributed to opioids. The only opioid drug that saw an overdose mortality decrease in 2016 was methadone. Experts blame much of the increase on synthetic opioids such as fentanyl, which is about 50 times more powerful than heroin.
An excessive reliance on opioid analgesics for treating acute and chronic pain has contributed to the current global opioid epidemic. The lessons learned from this epidemic are many, starting with the need to develop efficacious, less addictive alternatives for people coping with pain. Another dimension of this argument is the need to limit prescribing opioids in emergency rooms, post-surgery and in doctor’s offices. Research studies have focused on these topics, as well as analyzing the complex role of pain and opioid receptors in the brain. The goal of the latter is to gain greater understanding of the effects of opioids on brain receptors involved in suppression of pain, as well as unwanted side effects including addiction.
Recent studies have investigated whether medical marijuana legalization could help curb opioid addiction and the associated opioid overdose epidemic plaguing our nation. The theory is that substituting medicinal marijuana for opioid pain relievers might help reduce opioid-related health consequences. On the other side of the argument, opponents believe marijuana used for recreational purposes may serve as a gateway drug for opioid misuse and eventual opiate addiction. These are two separate issues, so when analyzing this issue, it’s important to differentiate between medical marijuana prescribed for pain and recreational marijuana.
End the Stigma Associated with Addiction
An integral component of combating the opioid drug epidemic is ending the stigma. Far too many people are embarrassed or afraid to seek help because of the stigma still attached to drug abuse. Addiction is defined as a chronic, relapsing brain disease characterized by compulsive drug seeking and use, despite harmful consequences. Like any chronic disease, it needs to be treated professionally. You can help end the stigma associated with substance abuse by reaching out to friends touched by this crisis. Honor a loved one or friend who lost their battle with drug addiction by writing a memorial tribute or creating a memorial fundraiser. And when you feel ready, share your story – providing a human face to the opioid epidemic can spread the message far more than statistics alone.
In 2016, an estimated 136.7 million Americans ages 12 and older reported consuming alcohol in the past 12 months and 24.2% of current drinkers reported past month binge drinking. People ages 21-25 comprised the largest percentage of current drinkers (67.6%) and binge drinkers (45.4%). The second highest age group was 26-34 with 64.1% current drinkers and 37.2% binge drinkers. The vast majority of current and binge drinkers in 2016 were legally old enough to drive. Driver’s license age requirements range from 14 to 15 1/2 for learner’s permits and 16 to 18 for full driver’s licenses.
Epilepsy is a common neurological condition, impacting 2.2 million to 3 million people in the U.S. and 65 million people worldwide. About one out of every three people with epilepsy struggles with uncontrolled seizures because no available treatment works for them.
Most people with addiction could not pass a pathological liar test. This is because lying is a hallmark of addiction. The disease of addiction hijacks the brain and steals empathy, clarity and awareness of one’s problems and the suffering of those around them. It fosters narcissistic behavior and loss of moral compass. And it leads to behaviors that the person often tries to hide or deny, as well as glossing over or withholding the truth.
Wild partying and free-flowing alcohol have long been part of the entertainment culture. There are plenty of tabloid images of stars stumbling around after they’ve had too much to drink as well as an endless parade of mug shots of those arrested for DUIs.
The term ‘wet drugs’ or ‘dip drugs’ refers to tobacco or marijuana cigarettes dipped in the hallucinogenic anesthetic PCP (phencyclidine or “angel dust”) or formaldehyde-based embalming fluid. The precise ingredients involved in this process may or may not be known by end users.
In 2009, the harmful effects of a man-made drug with names such as Spice, K2, Kush, Bliss, Joker, Mr. Nice Guy and hundreds of others, started eliciting widespread health-related reports. Synthetic marijuana contains far more powerful chemicals than marijuana, with varying amounts of the pharmacological agent, depending on the lab and batch.
Schizophrenia is one of the most disabling illnesses in the world. The disease wreaks havoc on everyday functioning, affecting the ability to live independently, engage in productive activities and social interactions, and attain/maintain employment.