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New Report Aims to Change Public Perception of Addiction, by Sarah Schroeder, The Texas Tribune, December 19, 2016. (PDF Version)
Earlier this month, the surgeon general released a report on the state of alcohol, drugs, and health in the U.S. “Facing Addiction in America” is the first report of its kind, and one of its primary objectives is to change public perception of addiction. As Surgeon General Vivek H. Murthy wrote, "For far too long, too many in our country have viewed addiction as a moral failing. This unfortunate stigma has created an added burden of shame that has made people with substance use disorders less likely to come forward and seek help.
Public Health Officials In Wisconsin Struggle With Gaps In Substance Abuse Data, by Scott Gordon, WisContext, November 2, 2016. (PDF Version)
People across Wisconsin and the country are collecting a lot of information about substance abuse. Coroners and medical examiners document overdose deaths, hospitals and treatment centers admit patients with substance-abuse issues, police file reports on drug-related incidents. Many public high schools anonymously survey students about drug and alcohol use. Data is plentiful. The difficult part is pulling together all that information, analyzing it, and identifying the patterns. "When the data are analyzed and published, it's a year and a half or two years out," said Theodore Cicero, a professor of psychiatry at Washington University in St. Louis. "You can say, 'we have a problem, but it's been with us a couple of years.'"
Trump unveils law-and-order strategy to counter drug addiction, by Steven Ross Johnson, Modern Healthcare, October 18, 2016. (PDF Version)
Public health experts say Donald Trump's plan to curb opioid addiction sounds like a throwback to the war on drugs that some say resulted in mass incarceration instead of treatment. The Republican presidential nominee unveiled several initiatives during a speech in New Hampshire, which has been hit hard by the opioid epidemic. Among the ideas is increasing mandatory minimum prison sentences for serious drug offenders. Trump's running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, has instituted similar policies in his state. Experts say the idea has not worked there and instead has disproportionately incarcerated minorities.
To get this job, a former life as an addict is required, by Liz Kowalczyk, Boston Globe, October 11, 2016. (PDF version)
She was in her early 20s, homeless and in heroin’s grip, when Nicole Bourgeois moved in underneath the Longfellow Bridge, with a view of Massachusetts General Hospital. For a few months, she slept on a mattress hidden on grates below the subway stop there. When she was hungry or cold, she took food from the Mass. General cafeteria or warm blankets from the emergency room. She lifted Vera Bradley bags in the gift shop to sell later.
Heroin, much discussed in state races, now on back burner in national politics, by Paul Singer, USA TODAY, September 15, 2016. (PDF version)
Across the nation, while public concern about heroin addiction is the highest it has been in years, the same can’t be said about attention on the national political stage. Searches about "heroin" peaked last week for the third time this year at the highest level in the past five years, according to data from Google Trends, with the exception of a spike in interest in February 2014 when actor Philip Seymour Hoffman died of a heroin overdose. Drug overdoses from heroin tripled between 2010 and 2014, and more people died from drug overdoses than car crashes in 2014, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The cost of fighting over whether to use drugs to treat addiction, by Steven Ross Johnson, Modern Healthcare, April 21, 2016. (PDF Version)
A rift among addiction-medicine providers about the role of medication-assisted recovery treatment may be hampering efforts to address the growing epidemic of addiction to heroin and prescription opioid painkillers. Many experts see the use of naloxone and other medications as the most effective way to mitigate the health risks and address the social stigma of drug addiction. But substance abuse treatment has traditionally been the realm of non-medical professionals whose expertise is often drawn from their own experiences with addiction.
The online program that may revolutionize addiction treatment, by Aaron Sankin, The Kernel, January 31, 2016. (PDF Version)
Welcoming her son home from rehab was the happiest day of Rose Barbour’s life—until it wasn’t. John, a pseudonym used to protect his privacy, was addicted to opiates. The 18-year-old had checked into a seven-day stint at a rehab center near his home on Prince Edward Island, a large rural community off Canada’s east coast. He relapsed in two days. “We didn’t know anything about addiction,” Barbour recalled. “We thought… just like with any other illness, he’ll get the best help out there and get better.”
Recovery Burnout, by Jeanene Swanson, The Fix, March 8, 2015. (PDF Version)
If you’ve worked as a caretaker—a doctor, nurse, or substance abuse counselor, to name a few—you might know about compassion fatigue, or, in common parlance, burnout. “People end up taking home the work that they do,” Dr. Kirk Bowden, president of NAADAC, also known as the Association for Addiction Professionals, says. Internalizing sometimes “serious and heartbreaking” things can lead to a lack of self-care, which he says can manifest itself in physical illness, insomnia, and signs of anxiety and depression.