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The State of Mental Health in the U.S.

In an effort to learn more about the state of mental health in the U.S., we recently surveyed 600 people who have experienced depression, anxiety, or both about their journey through mental health issues. We explored topics like the most common sources of anxiety, the most effective coping mechanisms, and more. Read on to learn more about what the survey results and analysis revealed about the respondents’ experiences.

 

Findings

The Most Common Sources of Anxiety

most common sources of anxiety chart

The first topic we explored in the survey was the most common sources of anxiety for respondents. Overall, the most common sources of anxiety are stress from personal relationships (21.2%) and financial stress (20.5%). As shown in the graphic above, sources of anxiety do vary by generation group. The top source of anxiety for both Gen Xers and Baby Boomers is financial stress, while Millennials are most burdened by stress from school.

 

social media’s impact on society infographic

 

While it isn’t one of the top anxiety inducers for the respondents of this survey, social media has been found to have a negative impact on mental health. Social media platforms often portray unrealistically perfect lives, leaving bystanders to compare their lives and feel inadequate as a result. This likely plagues younger generations more as they’re more frequent users of social networks, it’s estimated that about 30% of social media users spend more than 15 hours per week online.

We found that 1 in 2 of respondents have experienced anxiety at some point as a result of social media. An even higher percentage of Millennials (65%) have experienced anxiety as a result of social media. Facebook is the social network most likely to cause anxiety in users. If you’re feeling down, turning off or taking a break from social media is a great exercise to try to turn your mood around.

 

Mental Health in the Workplace

mental health in the workplace infographic

 

Mental health has been a historically taboo workplace topic, but more companies are beginning to recognize the need for mental health initiatives. As a result, companies have begun to incorporate mental health related benefits like counseling support into employees’ benefits packages – though only 30% of respondents receive any benefits in support of mental health, so there’s an ongoing need to continue to build awareness around the need for such programs.

It is encouraging to see that 61.4% of women and 64% of men surveyed felt at least somewhat comfortable taking a mental health day from work. A brief respite from the daily office grind is very necessary in many instances and 1 in 5 respondents took 2-3 mental health days in 2018.

 

Talking about Mental Health Issues

talking about mental health issues by gender graph

 

Carrying the burden of mental health issues is very difficult for those that experience depression and anxiety. Talking about problems with another can help ease that burden, but isn’t something that everyone feels completely comfortable with. The majority of female respondents (34.5%) feel most comfortable talking to a spouse or partner, while male respondents (30.2%) feel most comfortable talking to friend. Interestingly, we found that a low percentage of both men and women feel comfortable talking to a professional about mental health issues.

 

talking about mental health issues by generation graph

 

Comparing generation groups, both Gen Xers and Baby Boomers feel most comfortable talking to their spouse or partner about mental health. Millennials feel most comfortable talking to friends. Only about 6% of millennials feel comfortable talking to a professional as compared to about 1 in 5 Baby Boomers surveyed.

 

Coping with Mental Health Issues

coping with mental health issues by gender graph

 

Coping with mental health issues is a very difficult path to navigate, and we found that respondents have varying opinions about what is most effective for managing issues. First, we explored the factors that negatively impact respondents’ mental health the most. We found that work and relationships with family negatively impact women’s mental health the most, while school and a relationship with a significant other have the most negative impact for men.

 

factors negatively impacting mental health chart

 

Next, we looked at the same topic, but compared by generation group. Work and other factors impact Gen Xers and Baby Boomers the most, while school has the most negative impact on Millennials’ mental health.

 

methods for managing anxiety graph

 

For managing anxiety, we found that exercise and medication were the most effective methods for respondents.

 

coping with mental health issues infographic

 

Alternatively, we found that all methods used for managing are positive. 1 in 5 respondents turn to substances to cope with mental health issues more than once each week and 13% use alcohol more than once each week. Some of the strongest physical symptoms respondents are coping with are feelings of impending doom, restlessness, and fatigue. The factors that most negatively impact their lives are trouble sleeping, mood swings, and social withdrawal. 1 in 4 respondents have turned to alternative treatments like CBD oil to help manage anxiety.

One of the first steps to take towards learning to cope with mental health issues is asking for help. If you’re experiencing anxiety, depression, or other mental health issues, we urge you to seek out a professional to talk to. Recognizing that you don’t have to be alone in is one of the first steps towards recovery.

 

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Family Sues NV Jail over Death of Inmate during Heroin Detox

Detention Center Sign Outside Clark County Prison Facility

A Nevada family devastated by their daughter’s July 2017 death while incarcerated has filed a wrongful death suit to address the missteps taken by correctional officers before their daughter passed. In the filing, they allege that when Kelly Coltrain died at Mineral County Jail last year, she was in the throes of heroin detox and a mere two-minute walk from a hospital across the street. With a known history of seizures, the family says that the correctional officers on duty did not follow protocol and connect her with the medical treatment she requested and that, as a result, she died during heroin detox at the age of 27.

Footage taken of Kelly while she was in her cell shows her over the course of four days after her arrest. She vomited multiple times in her room, ate nothing at first and then slowly began to eat, and asked for medical care, saying that she was addicted to benzodiazepines. Officers refused treatment, believing that she was seeking a “fix” to end her detox symptoms. According to reports and to cell footage, she died about an hour after reportedly telling correctional officers that she wanted to get some sleep. Though protocol dictates that they are supposed to check on her twice an hour if laying down, they did not check on her that frequently. In fact, they did not realize that she was dead until hours after footage shows her apparently having a seizure, and it took another five hours after that for them to enter her cell to take pictures of the body.

Lack of Understanding

Though no malicious intent has been identified in the correctional officers who attended to Kelly, it is clear that there is still an extreme lack of training among professionals who come in contact with inmates struggling with addiction. Inmates who survive detox are not given the medical care they need unless a critical medical emergency occurs and is identified in time, and they are not connected with the psychiatric treatment and post-release support they need to learn how to live a sober life.

It is hoped that the investigation into Kelly’s death and the lawsuit that is putting her experience into the public eye will serve to trigger needed changes in how people living with addiction are treated within the court and penal systems.

Statewide Problem

Unnecessary death and ill treatment of people living with addiction are not just issues in rural jails like Mineral County Jail. They are also not rare occurrences in the general public outside of the jail system. A recent study found that heroin overdose rates tripled in Nevada between 2010 and 2016, making the risks of death due to heroin overdose of increasing concern among families with a loved one living with a painkiller or heroin abuse problem. For social workers, law enforcement, prosecutors, correctional officers, and other government employees who work directly with people living with addiction but likely do not have training in substance abuse treatment, it is imperative that changes be made that make room for the following:

  • Lowered stigma against addiction and co-occurring mental health disorders
  • Increased training on how to identify addiction and overdose and how to respond appropriately
  • An increase in the application of treatment rather than incarceration for people living with addiction
  • An increase in treatment services in jails and prisons for those who commit violent crimes
  • Incorporating care for family members whenever possible
  • The provision of support for families and the individual after release

Is Your Loved One in Crisis?

For families facing addiction, it is not always easy to know what to do. Addiction is nuanced. There is rarely a straight path from the onset of addiction to the identification of the problem to treatment and a return to balance. It takes time, and there is often a circular path through addiction and recovery traveled by the person trying to find their way into sobriety and their loved ones.

Is someone you love wrestling with an ongoing addiction and continually facing risks to their health and freedom as a result? Are you ready to help them connect with the treatment that can save their life?

How to Handle Passive-Aggressive People in Recovery

infographic on the things that identify passive aggressive individuals

Passive-aggressive people are everywhere in recovery. They may be sitting in 12-Step meetings with you, across the dinner table at home, or working alongside you. Unfortunately, passive-aggressive behavior may even be a go-to for your boss, your parent, your landlord, or even your best friend.

The good news is that if you identify these behaviors in other people, you are more likely to be able to protect yourself from them and protect your recovery at the same time. The not-so-great news is that it isn’t always easy to identify, and for many people, it can feel comfortable even if it’s not functional.

Here’s what you need to know.

What Does It Mean to Be Passive-Aggressive?

Passive-aggression is a form of emotional manipulation designed to help the person using the behaviors to get what they want. It is not about healthfully coming to an agreement that meets the needs of everyone involved. It is a sort of “checking out” or “digging in” that avoids active confrontation but still works to manipulate the reactions and responses of the other person. In short, it is the opposite of being direct with the goal of getting what you want.

For example, if your roommate needs a ride to work, rather than asking you for a ride, they might say, “I spent all my gas money on driving out to the beach for that band you wanted to see. Now I can’t get to work.” And then following that up with a blank stare, expecting you to fill in the uncomfortable silence that they created with, “Oh, I’ll give you a ride.”

Or, if your friend doesn’t want to admit that they don’t like the person you’re dating, instead of saying something positive, they might say something like, “At least she’s better than that troll you were with last month,” or “Hope he doesn’t steal your stuff.”

In both cases, the comments have the result of making you feel uncomfortable, but if you were to point it out, rather than take ownership, most passive-aggressive people will backpedal and say they were just kidding or just shrug and say nothing at all.

Damage to Recovery

Being forthright and honest is a critical skill to develop in recovery. It can take time, and it is important to surround yourself with people who are also working to be rigorously honest with themselves and others. It can be confusing to continually be faced with someone’s passive-aggressive behavior and to feel forced to decipher what they are saying and respond. It can also be stressful and steal focus from all the positive things available in life as well as take up the space that could be held by other more positive relationships. All of this together can increase the likelihood of relapse and/or make it more difficult to build a stable life in recovery.

How to Protect Yourself from Passive-Aggressive People in Recovery

  • Don’t let the other person set the standard in the conversation. If you feel that someone is trying to bait you by being passive-aggressive (e.g., “Your new room is so much more economical than that big awesome house you used to have.”), just say “thanks” and move on. Take the content at face value rather than allow it to continue by asking them why they would say something like that.
  • Stop responding entirely for a while. If the person who continually exhibits passive-aggressive behavior is someone you can distance yourself from, then do so. New acquaintanceships do not have to continue, and friendships can be allowed to fade naturally. Just put your energy elsewhere.
  • Stand up for yourself. If this is a relationship that you believe has the potential to heal and that the person really may not realize what they are doing, then pointing out how they are making you feel can help.
  • Be specific. If you do choose to discuss the passive-aggressive behavior with the goal of repairing the relationship, stay specific to what was just said and focus on how it makes you feel rather than making blanket statements like, “You always make me feel bad” or listing off every time their passive-aggressive behavior has occurred in the past.

Is passive-aggressive behavior in others putting your recovery in jeopardy? How do you set boundaries that protect your ability to stay sober?

The New Nonalcoholic Beer: Cannabinoid-Infused Craft Beers Hit Dispensary Shelves

Beer cans with weed on one of them

The latest incarnation of a marijuana-laced product to hit the shelves is nonalcoholic beer infused with cannabinoids. A Las Vegas dispensary began selling the version of the product from Two Roots Brewing Co. at the beginning of this month.

The line offers a stout, blonde ale, lager, IPA, and wheat beer, giving consumers a choice between either 2 milligrams or 5 milligrams of THC in each, the active ingredient in marijuana. Compared to other THC-laced beverages sold in dispensaries, this is a low amount of THC, according to the CEO of Two Roots, Michael Hayford, citing drinks that contain 20 to 50 times as much THC.

Kevin Love is the Director of Product Development at Cannabinier, the company that owns Two Roots. He says: “We’re brewing beer under the traditional format, then we’re removing the alcohol from it. That bi-product is being transported to a Nevada Licensed cannabis facility. We’re infusing it then with a water-soluble THC. We’re canning it and we’re sending it out to distribution to dispensaries here locally.”

The day of release was no small thing. Hundreds of people lined up in Las Vegas to get a six-pack of the product on the day it went on sale. With pot sales creating almost $70 million in tax revenue in the first year of legal recreational sales in Nevada, it was clear that the market was there and ready to try the next new thing.

According to Love: “It actually acts very similar to alcohol. So, you have a rapid onset, five to seven minutes, and a quick dissipation – about a 90-minute dissipation. For cannabis in general, the industry, this product is really going to start driving normalcy in consumption habits.”

Normalizing Marijuana Use

If Love is correct, nonalcoholic beer infused with marijuana could in fact become a bridge to marijuana use for those who may never have tried the substance. Low-dose beverages that can pass as a more socially acceptable alcoholic beer may lower the barriers of social stigma that may have formerly stopped people from using the drug. Rather than a high-THC dose drink that creates an overwhelming high, the low-dose beverage with a lesser impact that allows them to drink alongside alcohol-using peers the way they normally would might make it easier to transition from one substance to the other.

Alcohol and Marijuana Are Not Safe Substances

This in itself is a risk. Though the general public tends to view marijuana as a harmless substance, the fact is that it is highly addictive. Though it is possible to occasionally use the drug without experiencing any immediate negative consequences, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) reports that about 30 percent of people who use the drug regularly may be living with a marijuana use disorder. That’s a significant number. While it is rare though not impossible to overdose on marijuana-laced substances, continued and regular use of the drug can contribute to:

  • Increased risk of lung-related breathing disorders, including certain cancers, if the drug is smoked
  • Increased risk of car accident or other accidental death if the drug is used before driving or operating machinery
  • The development of addiction
  • Increased risk of significant emotional and mental health issues if used regularly and/ or in large amounts (e.g., anxiety, paranoia)

Additionally, while alcohol is often pointed to as a substance with far more lethal potential than marijuana, it is not just lethality that should be considered when it comes to the social impact of widespread use of a substance. Though researchers are working hard to keep up, we do not yet know the long-term personal impact of using marijuana, much less the impact on communities at large. It is not just the potential for immediate death and disease, but the impact of lost productivity on a major scale, the exposure of children to parents who are neglectful because they are high, or the early exposure and normalization of future generations to the drug. One study found that kids who use marijuana before the age of 18 are 4–7 times more likely than an adult to develop an addiction disorder.

Though the initial impact of legalization of marijuana and normalization of use may seem harmless and even positive in light of the increase in tax revenue, it can be devastating on a personal level now and in the future for families.

Is your loved one living with a marijuana use disorder? Is it time to seek the help that can assist them in finding a new, healthier life?

Overdose Deaths in Nevada Rose by 10% in 2017

Hand surrounded by many pills.

The Centers for Disease Control released a preliminary report this month that estimates that around 72,000 people in the US died of a drug overdose last year. This number is about 10 percent higher than the total number of lives lost to overdose in the United States in 2016 and higher than the number of American who died due to HIV/AIDS, shootings, and car accidents put together.

Why is it happening? More and more people are using opioid drugs, including painkillers and heroin, and continuing to use them due to an addiction. In addition, street heroin has become deadlier than ever before now that it is often laced with the synthetic opiate fentanyl.

It is believed that right now, today, there are about 2.1 million Americans living with an opioid addiction. However, this number is based on a telephone survey, and some experts say that the true number may be closer to 4 million since many people living in active addiction do not have phones and others may refrain from identifying their use of opiates because of concern about the stigma associated with drug use and addiction.

Fatal Overdose Rates in Nevada

In Nevada, the rate of opioid overdoses rose sharply in 2017, by at least 10 percent, according to the CDC study. It’s a harsh reality in a state that is celebrating the high rate of sales of recreational marijuana and working to determine how best to spend the tax revenue associated with it. Perhaps Nevada can learn from the states that saw a decline in overdose deaths in 2017.

For example, in New England where the country has been hit hardest by high rates of overdose deaths, the number of lives lost to drugs dropped last year. This is likely due in part to the increased attention paid to the problem, including more treatment options, improved access to treatment services, and/or increased use of naloxone and other lifesaving drugs. With a steady focus on identifying people who are struggling with addiction and connecting them with the services they need to heal from addiction and survive any overdose that occurs in the interim, they have slowly started to turn the tide and reduce rates of overdose deaths.

Pulling Nevada out of Crisis

While some argue that legal access to marijuana may offer a “safer” pain management plan than opiate painkillers to Nevadans and thus save lives, the fact is that medicinal marijuana has long been legal in the state yet still the number of overdose deaths has continued to rise. It’s clear that marijuana is not the way out of the opioid crisis in Nevada, but there are other proven ways of addressing the problem that have a high chance of efficacy.

  • Giving naloxone doses to every first responder: When every police officer, firefighter, and EMT has immediate access to naloxone, lives can be saved.
  • Putting naloxone in the hands of shop owners: Similarly, libraries, parking lots, and coffee shop bathrooms are very often the scenes of overdose deaths. If employees had access to naloxone, they could save lives.
  • Increasing access to treatment: This means making sure that the treatment centers that have spots available are filled with people who need help. It also means increasing the number of treatment programs and services if there is more need than availability.
  • Supporting families through the treatment process: It is imperative that family members have the tools to heal from their loved one’s addiction as well as access to family therapy and a support system that will help them to avoid enabling behaviors in the future.

Thinking outside the box is also a key component in helping to overcome opiate addiction in Nevada. In Rhode Island, a program has been implemented that provides medical detox and addiction treatment to inmates who are ineligible for drug courts, and it’s seen great results. In Massachusetts, a huge push by government officials and a solid budget have been dedicated to turning the tide on opiate overdose deaths across the state.

In Nevada, these and other methods may be effective. In the meantime, if your loved one is struggling with opiate addiction, the best choice is to move forward with treatment and support now. Are you ready to reach out for help?

Never Saw It Coming: Top 7 Surprise Relapse Triggers to Avoid in Recovery

infographic on tips for building a plan to avoid relapse

If you have spent any time in treatment and addiction recovery, you have heard a lot about the big, obvious triggers for relapse. Spending time with old friends who are still using, going to bars and concerts where there is easy access to drugs and alcohol, avoiding treatment for mental health issues – all these issues receive a lot of attention during treatment and for good reason. Any one of them can undermine your ability to stay sober.

There are, however, a number of unexpected issues that can catch you off guard in recovery and trigger relapse. Here are just a few.

1. Windfall: It would be great to win the lottery or get a huge inheritance from a distant cousin you never knew you had, right? Maybe not. In recovery, having access to a large sum of money with no designated purpose can be dangerous. It can trigger the urge to throw out everything and start partying. Going to 12-Step meetings, attending therapy sessions, and engaging in the work of recovery may quickly fall to the wayside when you have a lot of money on hand out of nowhere.

You don’t have to win $1 million to be at risk. An unexpected $20 at the wrong time can feel like a sign to go get high if you don’t have a plan in place for what to do with unexpected cash.

2. Promotion: Getting a promotion at your job means that your hard work has been noticed and the powers that be see you as an asset they would like to keep and allocate more strategically. This is affirmation in recovery on a number of levels, but for some, the pressure to perform can be a trigger for relapse. It may happen with the offer of the new job, or it can build up over time as the responsibilities pile up. Either way, it’s a good idea to have a plan for how to deal with unexpected stress in recovery.

3. New love: Falling in love can be amazing, and if you are stable in recovery and find someone who is also sober or willing to support you 100 percent in your recovery, then it can be a great part of your life. However, there are about a thousand ways for dating in recovery to go so horribly wrong that it triggers a relapse. From liking someone more than they like you to having them dump you for no reason to cheating on you with your best sober friend and more, romance is more often the devil than a delight when you are trying to stay sober.

4. Travel: Got a great vacation planned? Make sure you’ve got a great plan in place to protect you from relapse. Not only can being in a foreign place where you know no one feel like a license to do what you want with impunity, it can also be a recipe for overdose. The potency of different drugs varies significantly in different regions, and it is not uncommon for people to overdose when they are traveling, especially after a period of sobriety.

5. Boredom: It isn’t always being in the midst of a party where everyone is drinking and getting high that triggers cravings for drugs or alcohol. Being bored at home with nothing to do can make you feel like your only option is to relapse, especially if you are not heavily invested in your sober community or working on finding positive ways to spend your time.

6. Confidence: Low self-esteem is certainly a risk for relapse, but so is having an exceptionally high confidence level. If you feel like nothing can bring you down in recovery and you can do whatever you want at no threat to your sobriety, you’re bound to prove yourself wrong.

7. Time off: When you decide to give yourself a break and skip a few 12-Step meetings, postpone therapy appointments, or stop taking your meds for any amount of time, you are no longer making progress in recovery and you are at risk of relapse. Persistent interactions with your sober community plus regular engagement with your therapeutic team are key to sustained sobriety.

The good news is that if you know that these are risks for relapse then you have the opportunity to see it coming and have a plan in place to support your recovery. How are you protecting yourself in recovery? How are you preparing to handle unexpected cravings for drugs or alcohol?

Will Marijuana Impact the Outcome of Upcoming Nevada Senate Race?

Nevada State Senate in Carson City the Nevada state capital.

Marijuana laws are a hot topic of debate between Congresswoman Jacky Rosen (D) and incumbent Senator Dean Heller (R) as we move closer to the upcoming election. Rosen specifically is pressing the issue, pointing out that she wrote a letter to Attorney General Sessions, telling him that he “shouldn’t interfere with states’ rights and halt the progress that has been made on medical and recreational marijuana use in Nevada.”

She also points out that Heller “is the only GOP senator up for re-election in 2018 who is both from a recreational marijuana state and who voted to confirm Sessions as Attorney General.”

To be fair, Heller didn’t ignore the attorney general’s comments that alluded to the possibility of a Trump administration crackdown on states that have legalized marijuana for recreational use among adults. He made a statement on the subject as well: “Knowing Attorney General Sessions’ deference to states’ rights, I strongly encourage the DOJ to meet with Governor Sandoval and Attorney General Laxalt to discuss the implications of changes to federal marijuana enforcement policy. I also urge the DOJ to work with the congressional delegations from states like Nevada that have legalized marijuana as they review and navigate the new policy.”

Of course, Sessions’ comments were made all the way back in 2017, essentially 100 lifetimes ago in this administration. As of April of this year, Trump made statements that he is backing Senator Cory Gardner (R) of Colorado and will be supporting states’ rights when it comes to legalized marijuana. Because Sessions serves at the pleasure of the president, it is unlikely that he will pursue any costly “crackdowns” on legal marijuana venues in Nevada or any other state any time soon, especially when Trump is funneling government finances into the military and a wall at the Mexico/United States border whenever possible.

However, if the focus of the White House shifts, which is always a possibility, then it may again be relevant to elections in Nevada. As it stands, those running for office would do better to focus on the local issues related to legalized marijuana for adults instead.

Nevada out-earned Colorado and Washington when it came to initial sales of legal marijuana, making $195 million in sales in the first six months as compared to $114 million and $67 million, respectively. In fact, sales in the first year of legalization outperformed the highest expectations by 25 percent. Though sales from June have not yet been tallied, it is estimated that taxable sales for the first year were more than $500 million, generating about $70 million in tax revenue, $25 million of which is slated for Nevada schools.

While proponents of marijuana legalization are basking in what they perceive as a huge success, others are not convinced.

Medical marijuana users say that their access to quality products that they need for medicinal use has diminished and they have no pull in service given the high demand of recreational users. Additionally, a school superintendent for Douglas County says that she saw more problems with marijuana among students in the first three months of the last school year than she had in her entire career. Increased use of marijuana by young people has long been a fear of those pushing to maintain legal boundaries around the sale of marijuana, and it is clear that it has turned out to be a serious issue.

Jim Hartman is the chairman of Nevadans for Responsible Drug Use. He worked hard to fight the 2016 ballot measure that ultimately legalized recreational marijuana, and he says that it is too soon to know for sure how recreational marijuana use has impacted young people. He says: “But it only makes sense to me if you legitimize it and make it more accessible, you are going to get more youth use.”

It is true that perception of marijuana as a harmful drug, a potentially addictive substance, or a risky choice has decreased significantly among teens and young adults. This is due in part to the message being sent by more and more states legalizing the drug as well as the increased use of the substance by the adults around them.

At the same time, research has demonstrated that marijuana is more addictive than originally thought and has the potential to wreak havoc on teens and adults of all ages.

What Do You Think?

What aspect of recreational marijuana should be the focus in coming elections? How do you want your legislators to handle the potential increase in use among teens and drivers, and addiction caused by use of the drug in Nevada?

Las Vegas Real Estate Broker Charged with Laundering Money

A real estate broker in Las Vegas was arrested this month on charges of money laundering for a drug cartel with connections in Hong Kong, Italy, and Mexico. According to prosecutors, the man would buy and sell homes on behalf of an organizational leader of drug trafficking organizations with ties to drug cartels in Central America and Mexico.

It is a story that attests to just how well drug cartels and their businesses have assimilated into our global culture. Today, a professional real estate broker can get by without notice for years before being intercepted by law enforcement. Businesses that look like legitimate cellphone providers are actually working to keep drug cartels connected and untraceable. Millions of pills land in the black market with the full knowledge of corrupt medical providers and even the drug companies are often aware of what is happening.

Money laundering in the drug industry.

This is not just happening here in the United States. Everywhere around the world, in every country and culture, drug addiction is an ongoing epidemic that is taking lives by one means or another.

The good news is that, while our global culture shares the disorder of addiction in common, it also shares the knowledge of how best to address that disorder. Therapies, medical treatments, and combinations of treatments have been studied by every culture for centuries, and that wealth of information has been and continues to be openly shared. We are now more educated than we have ever been about the nature of addiction as well as the nature of effective treatment, and as a result, families who are in crisis due to addiction have access to some of the most well-informed, research-based treatment programs available.

Is your loved one ready to take advantage of the available treatment options?

Is Addiction a Medical Disorder?

One of the most important things we have learned is that addiction is a medical disorder. Formerly, the struggle to break free from cravings and compulsive use of substances was viewed as a moral failing, but with intensive neurological research, it was determined that substances impact more than just the emotional and mental health of the individual; they change the structure and function of the brain as well.

This is critical information if the issue of drug use is to be effectively addressed. Approaches to individuals and their families have changed drastically as a result of this information, and the fight is on to reduce the stigma against drug addiction disorders and the people who are suffering from them.

Personalized Care Is Key

Getting specialized care for substance abuse.

Because addiction is a medical disorder that not only impacts physical, emotional, and mental health, but is also impacted by physical, emotional, and mental health, it is essential that each person who seeks treatment undergoes a personalized assessment at the start of treatment. A full drug and mental health history, as well as assessments and tests that are indicated all, serve to provide a multidisciplinary treatment team with the information they need to more accurately identify goals for recovery. In order to reach those goals, a personalized treatment plan can be developed that utilizes a range of treatments and therapies. Throughout the treatment process, this plan can be revisited, updated, and altered as needed to keep up with changing goals and accomplishments.

Long-Term Aftercare Is Essential

To solidify the intensive work done during the treatment process, it is necessary to engage in an ongoing and consistent aftercare treatment plan.

Starting with the transition into independent living in sobriety, this aftercare plan should emphasize:

  • Treatment goals that continue with referrals in the community
  • A strong support network of peers in recovery
  • Family therapy sessions for those who are working on rebuilding important relationships
  • Parenting support for those with children at home
  • Job skills training and assistance in connecting with employment
  • Alumni groups so that those who grow close during treatment can continue to connect and support one another
  • Continued mental health care and treatment
  • Access to outpatient therapeutic services as needed if challenges to sustained recovery arise

Not everyone steps out the door of a treatment program ready to go on with the rest of their life without drugs and alcohol. However, everyone who genuinely commits to a program of recovery that starts with comprehensive care and creates the habit of continually reconnecting with personal recovery will learn how to live a sober life for the long-term.

Nevada Highway Patrol Troopers Will Carry Naloxone

In an effort to combat the ongoing opiate epidemic in Nevada, Nevada Highway Patrol troopers are currently in training to learn how to use naloxone, a medication used to treat opiate overdose. In the event that a trooper is first on the scene when an opiate overdose is in progress, this medication can be lifesaving. Going forward, troopers will each have two doses of the drug in its nasal spray form, ready to administer as needed.

What Is Naloxone?

Struggling with an opioid addiction.

Naloxone is an opioid antagonist, a drug that attaches to opiate receptors in the brain and body. It knocks all opiates off these receptors, thus arresting the opiate overdose. When someone takes too much of an opiate substance or takes any drug laced with fentanyl, a powerful synthetic opiate drug, they may succumb to overdose. Depending on the potency of the drug, the user may have only a few minutes or as long as 90 minutes until it overwhelms their system and they stop breathing completely. The sooner the medication is administered, the better. When Nevada Highway Patrol troopers do not have to wait for emergency medical responders to arrive, it is more likely that people they encounter in a state of overdose will survive.

What Are the Signs of Overdose?

  • The person’s skin may be cold, clammy, and paler than normal. An opiate overdose lowers the body temperature considerably and this can be first noticed in the state of the person’s skin.
  • When someone is overdosing, it is almost impossible to see their pupils. If you must lift back an eyelid to see their eyes, do so, and if you only see their iris, it’s a clear indication they are overdosing.
  • Snoring may seem to indicate that the person is just asleep and not in a state of overdose, but the sound may be due to the person gasping for breath.
  • Someone in the early stages of overdose may vomit.
  • Breathing rates often slow down significantly during an opiate overdose.
  • Pulse rate, too, slows until it stops when a person overdoses on an opiate drug.

How Else Are We Fighting the Opiate Epidemic?

Nevada is third in the country for number of lives lost to opiate overdose. On average, one person in Nevada dies every day due to overdose. In addition to arming Nevada Highway Patrol with doses of naloxone, first responders also carry the drug, physicians are required to closely monitor patients taking painkillers, and legislators including Gov. Brian Sandoval are working overtime to do things like install prescription drug takeback boxes.

What Can I Do?

If you think someone you are with is in an overdose state, you do not have to stand idly by. You can:

  • Call the person’s name. Do your best to get a response from them. Shout their name and make sure they respond.
  • Turn them on their side. Only move the person if they are laying on their back. Turning them on their side helps to ensure that they will not choke if they vomit.
  • Perform a sternal rub. Using your knuckles, rub up and down as hard as you can on the person’s sternum—the bones in the middle of the person’s chest. They should experience a great amount of pain and respond.
  • Call 911. If the person does not respond and is exhibiting signs of overdose, call for emergency medical help right away. Stay on the line and follow the instructions of the dispatcher.
  • Administer naloxone. If you have a dose of naloxone on hand, administer it. The nasal spray version of the drug is easy to administer, but it may take two doses if the person is under the influence of a high dose of opiate drugs. If the person is in an overdose state or passed out due to another reason other than opiate overdose, naloxone will not hurt them but it will also not be effective in reviving them.

If your loved one is living with an opiate addiction, you can help them to avoid opiate overdose by learning the signs, keeping naloxone on hand, and helping them to connect with treatment. Are you ready to get the information you need to help them find the medical detox and addiction treatment that can help them put the risk of opiate overdose behind them?

Are You a Doormat in Recovery? How to Be More Assertive Now

Person feeling drained while trying to recover.

Do you find yourself agreeing to do things you don’t want to do? Do you pipe up in conversations like you are on board with what everyone is saying even if you disagree? Do you stay quiet around new groups of people until you have a feel for what to say?

If you struggle with being a people pleaser or feel like people won’t like you if you don’t fill in where they need someone even if agreeing to help means you are double-booked, exhausted, or resentful, you are not alone. Especially in early recovery, people often feel unsure of themselves and who they are. They may look to the people around them in their recovery community to help them define their path forward. While this is a great way to get started, it is important to have boundaries on your time and energy as well.

The good news is that you can show up for your community, be open to suggestion, and still prioritize your own health and wellness without being rude or putting people off.

  1. Take care of yourself first. Many financial experts recommend that the first thing you do with your paycheck is to cut off the chunk you want to save and put it away. By prioritizing yourself, you make sure you get what you need, and if your paycheck runs out before you get to everything on your list, at least you know you have savings working for you.
    In the same way, it is recommended that you start your day by taking care of yourself. Go for a walk, hit the gym, do some yoga, and have a good breakfast to make sure you are maintaining your own wellness before you start expending your energy on other people’s needs. Similarly, when you are writing things into your schedule, make sure you block off time for you—workouts, therapy appointments, 12-step meetings, and whatever time you need to stay healthy.
  2. Give yourself time to think. When you get a text or an email asking you to take someone to the airport, bring coffee to the meeting, or fill in for someone at work, give yourself time to think before you respond. Really consider if you have the time and energy to fill the request and if it will help you in some way as well (e.g., time to talk to a friend on the way to the airport, a way to get rid of extra coffee you have, or more money to help you reach a financial goal) before you respond.
  3. Suggest a different solution. If you are unable to do something that someone has requested of you, or if you know that agreeing to help out will only make you feel exhausted or irritated, try to suggest an alternative. For example, if they need a ride to the airport, you might suggest calling an airport ride service that is cheaper than calling a cab or an Uber. Point out that someone you know has a car and needs gas money, and if they wanted to help out, that could be an option, too.
  4. Be patient with yourself. Do not judge yourself harshly for giving yourself the space and time you need to take care of yourself, your sobriety, and your family and friends first. Yes, it is true that it is important for you to give back to your sober community and to volunteer in the larger community as well, but it is also necessary for you to make sure that you are not putting your own recovery at risk by overextending yourself or stressing yourself out.
  5. Know that other people’s happiness is not your responsibility. The only person you can control is yourself. It is not your job to make sure that everyone around you is happy and taken care of, no matter how much you love them or how much you want to be friends. If you can help, great! Go for it. If not, let yourself off the hook and know that your wellbeing is your first priority as long as no harm or abuse will befall someone else when you say “no.”

Infographic about how to politely decline someone's request.

How are you working to prioritize your emotional and physical health and wellness in recovery while also working to build strong connections with other people? What tools do you use to strike a balance in recovery?