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Leaving Las Vegas: Prison Time for ‘Pill Mill’ Nurse

Dreamland: The True Tale of America’s Opiate Epidemic zoomed in on the small city of Portsmouth, Ohio. Why? In an interview about this book, the author, Sam Quinones explained. It was “the pill mill capital of America.” He went on to say, “They had more pill mills per capita in that town than anywhere else in the country.”

A “pill mill” – what exactly is it? A law enforcement journal defines the term. “A pill mill is an operation in which a doctor, clinic or pharmacy prescribes and/or dispenses narcotics without a legitimate medical purpose.” According to this source, these set ups are huge money makers for those who are managing them, namely members of the medical community. There are other characteristics. One is that frequently those in charge have run other unscrupulous operations.Pill Mill used by nurse in las vegas

Bingo! That fits the description of a situation right here in Las Vegas. News 3 Las Vegas reported on this recently. A nurse spearheaded this operation in coordination with two others – a surgical technician and a physician. The scheme centered on writing prescriptions for narcotics without “a legitimate purpose.” As such, patients received Rx’s for Hydrocodone and Oxycodone. In turn, the nurse received a reward in cash.

This Las Vegas pill mill ran from January to May 2018. The charges against the nurses included Medicare and Medicaid fraud; that dated back to July 2016 and ran through December 2017. In those incidents, patients received prescriptions for anesthetics, stimulants, and pain relievers. There was one major catch. These Rx’s came without a physical exam. Patients took their medication orders to a particular pharmacy, which paid for the referrals. For this arrangement alone, the nurse received a hefty sum of about $30,000. All told, the nurse defrauded the health care system of some $3.7 million.

Leaving Las Vegas

The Department of Justice announced the outcome of the case against the nurse toward the end of May. He will be heading to federal prison for more than six years. The charges included illegal dispensing of opioids and, as mentioned, Medicare and Medicaid fraud.

There’s more to the punishment. Once the nurse completes his prison term, he will have to serve three years of supervised release. Plus, he will have to pay more than $3.7 million in restitution.

Pill mills pour dangerous substances into society, to the detriment of many. As the book Dreamland depicted, these pill mills served as driving forces for the opioid epidemic. Criminal charges and sentences help stem the tide of its spread. However, in its wake, many struggle with chemical dependency.

Local World-class Option

Recovery is not far away. In Las Vegas, Desert Hope offers high quality medical care and addiction treatment. A member of the American Addiction Centers network, this oasis offers a path to all who walk through its doors to reclaim their lives. The multidisciplinary team welcomes men and women, veterans and first responders from the local area and afar. Everyone receives a customized treatment plan tailored to their needs.desert hope facility displays the gold seal of approval from the joint commission

From medical detox to inpatient and outpatient treatment, Desert Hope provides a full continuum of care. The facility proudly displays the gold seal of approval from The Joint Commission. And it is accredited by the Commission on the Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF). In turn, we make a guarantee to our clients. Those who successfully complete our 90-day treatment program will stay clean and sober. We stand by this pledge. Otherwise, please return for a complimentary 30 days of treatment. To get started, visit our online admissions page. Your recovery is waiting.


Read More from Sherry M. Adler:

Rx for Trouble: Opioids for Teens and Young Adults in Pain

Wheels Matter on the Road to Recovery

About The Contributor
The editorial staff of Desert Hope Treatment Center is comprised of addiction content experts from American Addiction Centers. Our editors and medical reviewers have over a decade of cumulative experience in medical content editing and have reviewed ...

Finding Freedom For Veterans

For many of us, the Fourth of July holiday is a celebration we look forward to. Cookouts, fireworks and time off work has us excited to celebrate our freedom and our nation’s birthday. For those who fought to secure those freedoms, however, Independence Day can feel difficult – a flood of painful memories and a reminder of those who never made it home.

The life of a veteran can be difficult. They head off to battle, full of hope, with a desire to protect our country and make a difference. Too often, they return as a broken, misplaced remnant of who they once were. For veterans, the battle doesn’t stop once they are off the field. Memories of fallen friends, flashbacks, nightmares and physical pain continue to plague both mind and body long after the war is won.

The Battle After the Battlewhile sitting in a field, a veteran soldier struggles with ptsd and substance abuse

On top of leaving the service, Veterans also find themselves having to completely re-wire their way of thinking to rejoin civilian life. Life in service can put individuals at high risk for developing substance use and mental health disorders, making it difficult to:

  • Manage a work/life balance.
  • Protect against stress related disorders.
  • Identify the impacts on self and family.
  • Connect with the emotions of others.
  • Recognize the beginning stages of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

Creating the structure that existed before joining up isn’t always easy. Many vets find themselves struggling just to cope, feeling ashamed they cannot do these basic functions. Veterans do not seek help as a regular “civilian”. Flaws and weaknesses are seen as a “breaking of code”- the strength that required them to deal with unspeakable events, willing to give their life at a moment’s notice.

Military training involves a complete remaking and rebuilding as a soldier during basic training. Veterans have been trained to act and react without hesitation, going against every moral compass you have for the protection of your nation’s people. Unlike the popular video games, this call of duty doesn’t have a simple reboot to the world. Life for those in the services changes drastically in short amounts of time and the mind cannot always keep up.

Substance Abuse and PTSD

For many veterans, they find their escape from their trauma and PTSD through alcohol and substances. They may find they cannot even sleep, relax or manage interactions without the comfort of a drug. What seems like a welcome help, however, is actually doing more harm than good as Veterans keep to their training – not admitting weakness or the need for help, but rather maintaining the façade of strength at the cost of their mind.

Outcome studies have shown that PTSD not only effects those who serve, but also their loved ones as well.  They believe themselves to be “coping” with PTSD symptoms by drinking heavily, using drugs, or smoking too much. In truth, they are keeping themselves locked in a cycle, as PTSD and substance abuse disorder are well known allies. The good news is that treatment works, and therapy can target both problems at the same time.

The National Center for PTSD has the following to share about their research:

  • More than 2 of 10 Veterans with PTSD also have SUD.
  • Almost 1 out of every 3 Veterans seeking treatment for SUD also has PTSD.
  • The number of Veterans who smoke (nicotine) is almost double for those with PTSD (about 6 of 10) versus those without a PTSD diagnosis (3 of 10).
  • In the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, about 1 in 10 returning Veterans seen in VA have a problem with alcohol or other drugs.
  • War Veterans with PTSD and alcohol problems tend to binge drink. Binge drinking is when a person drinks a lot of alcohol (4-5 drinks or more) in a short period of time (1-2 hours).

Finding Hope Again

The good news is there is hope. Our returning heroes don’t have to rely on substances and alcohol to have a successful reintegration to life. Treatment options are available, targeted specifically to their needs and experience. Dual diagnosis programs – such as the Salute to Recovery Program at Desert Hope – are dedicated to military veterans and first responders whose lives have changed and become unmanageable due to substance use, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and mental health issues.

Our treatment team utilizes proven treatment methods that are focused on resiliency and assist in developing solid strategies to promote positive decision-making and permanent healthy lifestyle changes. Embedded in the Salute to Recovery is the First Responder and Military Lifeline curriculum that was created by American Addiction Centers in collaboration with Employment Assistance Professionals.  The program includes the following topics:Salute to Recovery is the First Responder & Military Lifeline program created by American Addiction Centers & Employment Assistance Professionals

  • First Responder and Military Culture.
  • The Hypervigilant Rollercoaster.
  • Character and Values.
  • Impact of Stress.
  • Post Traumatic Responses.
  • Family & Relationships.
  • Cognitive Distortions.
  • Needs in Recovery.

If you or a loved one find yourself struggling this Independence Day, know that freedom is possible. Freedom can be found in a phone call, partnering with an admissions navigator and helping to connect our veterans with the treatment they not only need, but deserve.


Read More from Lindsey Simpkins:

Getting a “Clear Picture” of Recovery

Recovering Father’s Day

About The Contributor
The editorial staff of Desert Hope Treatment Center is comprised of addiction content experts from American Addiction Centers. Our editors and medical reviewers have over a decade of cumulative experience in medical content editing and have reviewed ...

Getting a “Clear Picture” of Recovery

We live in an age of instant gratification. If you want food, you order it and one delivery company or another has it on your doorstep within the hour. If you want a tv show, you stream it – binging on all the 14 seasons of episodes that show has to offer. If you want music, you search your favorite apps and have a playlist at your fingertips. Gratification has become an entitlement, with faster is better being the standard of success!

Photography and Recovery

Consider for a moment, the selfie. Yes, we are talking about all the duck faces, all the filters, all the angles to hide all the flaws – the instantaneous snapshot of how great this moment is. Fun pictures that they are, however, where is the depth? {Beyond your “heart hands” in the sunset, of course}.

Just as the selfie doesn’t always display the true picture of a person, the surface image of one struggling with addiction doesn’t always mean they are ok

Remember the days of authentic photography, with film, negatives and processing? One would fill up their little roll of 24 shot, send it off to be processed – ordering those highly coveted doubles of course – and in about 24 – 48 hours, you would have some pretty great photos. Old school photography was even better – the meticulous process of dark room photography, getting that film away from everything to slowly progress into the masterpiece hidden under the paper and ink. The film processed, the negatives put to the side, and the images transformed under a skillful hand to reveal the carefully captured images beneath the surface.

Treatment for Addiction Recovery is a lot like photography. There’s a lot of options out there. Many offering “quick fixes” or shorter stays. The truth is, for the true picture to surface, we have to go deeper. Just as the selfie doesn’t always display the true picture of a person, the surface image of one struggling with addiction doesn’t always mean they are ok. The best treatments are ones that allow the patient to rest, to be processed, to identify the truths of their self-core, waiting to be revealed beneath the surface image they show the rest of the world. Treatment allows a patient to process long enough to know (1) it’s more than the substance and (2) I am not ok to do this on my own.

Finding Help for Addiction

For addiction clients who are treated at AAC, you will be happy to know, these resources are crafted into your care. As valued experts and trusted advisors in the addictions industry, our team has been around long enough to know the difference between the grainy selfie and successful capture of a richly deep image. Our team specializes in Dual Diagnosis, allowing the client and their loved ones to know that what they show on the surface isn’t always the root of the problem – there is so much more about their treatment to help them heal for good. As an organization, AAC stands behind our Brand Promise – the only one of it’s kind in the industry. As a brand, we believe that if you entrust yourself or your loved one into our care for a consecutive 90 days, you have a much better chance of being successful. So much, in fact, that if you relapse, we will provide an additional 30 days to you. AAC is one of only a few national treatment centers to evaluate its outcomes and share the results publicly. Of clients surveyed, 63% were abstinent at 12 months compared to the 30% national standard.

We recognize there’s a lot of development that happens in the Dark Room of development for our clients struggling with substances – whatever that may look like throughout your care. AAC takes a holistic look at the big picture to uncover trauma, environment, medical history, relationships, genetic testing, and other factors that go into crafting your personal addiction story.

Final Takes

AAC’s Desert Hope Addiction Treatment Facility

AAC’s Desert Hope Addiction Treatment Facility

Just as the best photography shouldn’t rush to develop – neither should you. Learning new behaviors, new coping mechanisms, new life truths and life altering plans take time to process and absorb. Give yourself the time to develop into the new picture you want to see. One that reflects the true person on the inside, hidden deep beneath the film. While there is no cure for addiction, there are resources to be put into practice for you to live a fuller life again.

And those negatives? We’re going to use them. Develop them. And we’ll help you toss them when you’re done.


Read More from Lindsey Simpkins:

Celebrating Graduation: How to Cope Beyond the Cap and Gown

Recovering Father’s Day

Wholly Holistic Patient Care: Why Caring for the Whole Patient Matters

About The Contributor
The editorial staff of Desert Hope Treatment Center is comprised of addiction content experts from American Addiction Centers. Our editors and medical reviewers have over a decade of cumulative experience in medical content editing and have reviewed ...

The Impact of Drug Use on Your Paycheck

While addiction’s biggest consequences are damage to the body and ongoing dependence on the substance, another negative effect of drug addiction is the literal cost of your habit. Purchasing a steady supply of illicit substances leads to the real-time consequence of spending a substantial amount of money.

Our team wanted to provide a tool to show the impact drug use has on your paycheck. Based on the latest average costs of a dose of each drug, we created a calculator that allows users to get a complete picture of how much of their income goes to drug use based on how many times they use per year and their annual salary.

Enter your salary, drug of choice, and approximate number of times per week that you use that substance in the calculator below and find out what percentage of your income goes to substance abuse. Please note: we will not be recording any of the information users input or storing any of the anonymous data.

Drug Use Cost Calculator

I currently use
Aproximately times per week.
My currenlty annual salary is .
Annual Cost
Annual Income   (minus drug costs)
% of paycheck going towards drug use
About The Contributor
The editorial staff of Desert Hope Treatment Center is comprised of addiction content experts from American Addiction Centers. Our editors and medical reviewers have over a decade of cumulative experience in medical content editing and have reviewed ...

Recovering Father’s Day

When Addiction Affects Dads

Father’s day is often a treasured day – full of specially planned events all in honor of Dad. Lovingly made – but often horribly tasting – breakfasts in bed, handmade clay pieces that resemble a moose – but are actually meant to be a picture of you, gag gifts a-plenty, all crafted to celebrate the person who carries the world on their shoulders.

But sometimes, when facing addiction, the world has come crashing down. Life has become unmanageable. In some families, it is Dad who has let you down. In others, it is the child who has let Dad down. In both stories, the pain is the same. Father’s Day opens old wounds and recalls trauma of abuse and sadness. From either side of the tale, Father’s Day is an emotional struggle. A struggle wrought with confusion, resentment, and pain. Often those raised in the presence of addicted dads endure a lifetime of suffering, badly buried beneath the callouses of life. It’s a brutal and unbroken cycle that without effective drug and alcohol an alcoholic dad enjoys a sober afternoon with his family on father's day by enjoying the sunset instead of picking up a bottle of alcohol.treatment, inflicts one generation after another.

For the addict dad, they are likely to spend another afternoon drowning out and blacking out their sorrows in the bottom of a bottle or the next line to be sniffed. Loved ones are ignored out of pain on Father’s Day. Once again, the addicted fathers turn away to instead seek their fix in the company of enablers, turning to their substances to mask the pain and regret they’ve sown. Celebrating the love and joy of fatherhood is forgotten, or if you look deeper down, turned away because either father or child feels undeserved and unworthy.

How can there be celebration when addiction clouds up so much of the joy of the day? How can we spend time together to celebrate a relationship, when that relationship has been shattered by the disease of addiction?

Repairing Yourself

There is a Japanese practice called Kintsugi, which takes shattered pieces of broken pottery and making them beautiful again by filling the cracks with gold. “By repairing broken ceramics it’s possible to give a new lease of life to pottery that becomes even more refined thanks to its “scars”. The Japanese art of kintsugi teaches that broken objects are not something to hide but to display with pride…When a bowl, teapot or precious vase falls and breaks into a thousand pieces, we throw them away angrily and regretfully. Yet there is an alternative, a Japanese practice that highlights and enhances the breaks thus adding value to the broken object. It’s called kintsugi (金継ぎ), or kintsukuroi (金繕い), literally golden (“kin”) and repair (“tsugi”).

It is this practice that teaches not to throw away the broken, but to celebrate healing, recognizing both that the shattered can be made beautifully new, and also that the new piece, though it has scars, has a resiliency it never had before. It can be recovered.a repaired vase symbolizing life shattered by addiction can be restored this father's day

Just because a life has been shattered by the pain of addiction doesn’t mean it has to stay that way. Encourage the fathers in your life to take the next brave step towards healing their family by seeking out healing for themselves. Encourage the children in your life who are struggling with addiction to know that while you no longer fund their habits and lifestyles, you will willingly walk this hard road of recovery with them, bandaging the scrapes of their heart and mind, as you bandaged the scrapes on their elbows and knees. Let this Father’s Day bring the hope restoration and resiliency of healthy family relationships.

Love can be the “golden thread” where there is anger or estrangement. New memories can begin to heal a painful past. Pursuing and participating in treatment can help father and his children can build a bridge between the broken relationships – a bridge of new resiliency and more precious than before, because each member of the family chose to be strong for each other.

Make this Father’s Day one to really celebrate, because it is the first of many rooted in recovery. If you or a loved one is struggling, take the steps towards treatment to recover Father’s Day for your family.


Read More from Lindsey Simpkins:

Celebrating Graduation: How to Cope Beyond the Cap and Gown

Wholly Holistic Patient Care: Why Caring for the Whole Patient Matters

About The Contributor
The editorial staff of Desert Hope Treatment Center is comprised of addiction content experts from American Addiction Centers. Our editors and medical reviewers have over a decade of cumulative experience in medical content editing and have reviewed ...

Celebrating Graduation: How to Cope Beyond the Cap and Gown

Commencement. It’s a big deal. As it should be – you work hard, focus on classes, dig deep, complete the dreaded final exams and drop the pencil like an artist drops the mic. What’s that feeling coursing through your veins? Oh, right – Accomplishment. Pride. Satisfaction of knowing you gave it your all and you are going to make it to the next chapter.

Caps and gowns proudly displayed to the tune of pomp and circumstance, you walk the aisle to the awaiting certificate and your family covers you in accolades. You have made it! The community around you cheers your praise! And while you think you have a pretty decent grasp on who you are on this page of life, you have yet to discover the myriad of paths that will twist and turn you to who you will become.

Life After Collegecoping with drug addiction after graduation

For some, the road to success is straightforward and clear. Like an arrow finding it’s mark, you have always known the direction to take. For others, you may find yourself for the first time in your life, taking detours and getting a few roads crossed. Sometimes you seem to lose that sense of accomplishment – your pride seemingly disappeared with each new surmounting (and unexpected) challenge.

You may find yourself in this position – unclear of what lies ahead, and unsure if you are ready for it. Expectations run high and you are finally facing the chapter of life called “Adulting” – the chapter that you thought was filled with freedom and opportunity, instead realizing it’s filled with choices, bills and responsibility. Maybe you have struggled to cope or relied on substances like drugs and alcohol to help you get by. While those coping strategies may have worked in a short term, they will never be a long- term fix for what life will send your way.

The transition between high school or college to actual adult life can be stressful. You find yourself thrust into a complex world with all the expectations of being an adult, but the inability to function in it. You are trading a solid social network, community and a safety net with the daunting mystery of the unknown known as Adulthood. As an adult, you may find yourself with even less free time, as classes, jobs and responsibilities call your name in a very real way. The consequences of failure in this game are at a higher stake than you’ve ever played before.

The Shared, Stressful Experience of Adulthood

While many recent graduates feel isolated in their abrupt change in life and emotions, it’s important to note that you are not alone.  In a recent survey done by the City Mental Health Alliance, 49% of graduates surveyed said that their mental well being declined after leaving university. According to a recent interview in the Washington Post, many recent graduates have found themselves struggling to cope:

“Post-graduation depression, therapists say, is understudied and probably underreported…” said Sheryl Ziegler, a Colorado psychologist and licensed professional counselor who has many young clients. 

According to therapists and postings in Internet chat rooms by recent graduates, symptoms of post-graduation depression include an abnormally negative perspective, decreased motivation to get out of bed, a general sense of hopelessness and, occasionally, substance abuse. “They often have .?.?. trouble motivating themselves to get a job,” Ziegler said. “They are often lonely due to a lack of connection with friends. While young adults are in college, they may have been in an environment that was more accepting of alcohol and recreational drug use, and while depressed it’s possible this is being used as a coping mechanism.”

If you or a loved one find yourself in this state, it’s not too late to get those life goals back on track. Whether it’s taking a break, finding a treatment solution, or even reaching out to a counselor – you can still achieve the dreams you worked so hard for. Remember, this journey of life is yours. You are working on your timeline – comparable no one graduate feeling isolated by his drug addiction after graduation

Steps for Wellbeing After Graduation

Here are a few actionable steps you can take to keep heading in the right direction:

  1. Be honest about your mental health – If you are relying on substances of any kind to cope, you are not actually coping. You’re not thriving, you’re just merely surviving. If you are struggling to cope, seek out help.
  2. Remember to balance sleep, exercise and diet – Your mental and physical health are interconnected. Ramen noodles and all-night Netflix binges will eventually take their toll.
  3. Find your guardrail – Who will be the people to speak truth into your life when the warning signals flare? Who can you have that honest “I am not okay” moment with? Know those people and cultivate those relationships. Have the critical conversation. 

It’s always okay to say, “I’m not okay.” What matters most is that you don’t allow yourself to stay there. Never let the shame of who you think you should be by now stand in the way of who you can be in the years to come.


Read More from Lindsey Simpkins:

Wholly Holistic Patient Care: Why Caring for the Whole Patient Matters

About The Contributor
The editorial staff of Desert Hope Treatment Center is comprised of addiction content experts from American Addiction Centers. Our editors and medical reviewers have over a decade of cumulative experience in medical content editing and have reviewed ...

Wholly Holistic Patient Care: Why Caring for the Whole Patient Matters

Have you ever watched fitness professionals? Powerhouse individuals whose tone and definition defy reality? Able to lift, run, move and bend their bodies to the contour of their mind? One has to wonder – where on earth does the capacity for that strength come from? Iron Grit? Power of Mind? Insane Diet Regimen? Whatever the tactic, whenever you ask a true fitness maven their secret, the answer is always the same – it’s the Core.

Individuals struggling with addiction have all the resources – desire, planning, mindset, hope – and yet why do we see so many battling this disease, cycle after exhausting cycle?holistic addiction treatment

Somewhere along the way, their Core was broken. A fragmented shell of their former selves remains, waiting to be reshaped. Many will try the latest treatments, greatest fads, and yet, they still cannot find a way to put the Humpty Dumpty of their broken selves back together again.

This is where Whole Patient Holistic care comes in. Holistic care is multidisciplinary – meaning it factors in not only the substance of addiction, but the entire environment surrounding those battling the disease. It dares to ask the dangerous questions – What is their home life like? What dangers and triggers can be found within arm’s reach or mere steps down the road? What relationships, healthy or hostile, play a factor in the success of an individual’s healing journey? What medical concerns exist that factor into the inability to “just stop?”

Holistic care is collaborative, calibrated care – giving intentional conversation to 4 main facets of a human trapped by addiction: Mind, Body, Heart and Spirit. In the Mind, what mental health battles rage on to prevent healing to occur? What education about the disease of addiction needs a little “enlightening”?  In the Body, what treated, untreated, diagnosed or undiagnosed factors are at play? In the Heart, what desires and motivations are in a head to head rumble against the ability to cope with adversity? In the Spirit, what internal confidence needs to be regained to face life with intentionality again? Wholly holistic patient care takes a transparent look at each individual and digs below the surface – seeking the root cause beyond the results of a blood test. It asks the critical “Why” the individual even faces the battle of addiction in the first place, instead of placing a band-aid on the symptoms and releasing back to the world – Body intact, yet Core still broken.

Whole Patient care knows the difference between healing and curing. While there is no cure for addiction, there is an opportunity to restore someone to wholeness again, meanwhile setting them up for success with a call to action. It allows the patient to unpack the inside, look at the broken pieces of their Core, identify their cause, and create a salve for the broken soul. Healing is an inside matter, long before it can be a successful on the outside.

So, what can a patient do to ensure they are receiving Whole Patient Holistic care? Let’s look at this in two phases – during treatment and after treatment.

During treatment, be sure to ask:

  • Is this care individualized to my specific needs?
  • Does this care account for recovery needs, beyond medical?
  • Does this care create an atmosphere for dual-diagnosis, looking beyond the substance to the person?
  • Does this care address the picture of my life as a whole?

After treatment, use the following skills and behavior to set yourself up for success:

  • Set the Expectation: Make sure those in your environment know what you need – and don’t need – as you walk through recovery.
  • Be Intentional: Plan your life! What does the next day, week and month look like? Visualize your plan of action to regain yourself.
  • Give your “Best Yes” and your Critical No: Author Lysa TerKeurst says in her book “The Best Yes” – “Can this fit physically, spiritually, financially, emotionally?… If I spend resources I don’t have, I will eventually bankrupt myself…I know the danger of getting emotionally bankrupt and it is ugly!” In recovery, one must remember that it is okay to say No – protect that precious, newly rebuilt Core until it is strong enough to give the yes.
  • Develop Outlets for Self-Care: What care can connect with you on all 4 facets – Mind, Body, Heart and Spirit? Is it connecting creatively through music or art therapy, as you did in treatment? Is it connecting in nature? A conversation with a trusted sponsor? Ensure that as you leave treatment, you identify methods of continuing your Wholly Holistic care in your day to day environment.

Wholly Holistic care crafts a path to healing, enveloping the patient Mind, Body, Heart and Spirit. It allows one to embrace and unpack the inside core, so its finally possible to truly heal the outside body.


Learn more about the holistic care available at Desert Hope by visiting the Features and Amenities page. Or, get help now.

About The Contributor
The editorial staff of Desert Hope Treatment Center is comprised of addiction content experts from American Addiction Centers. Our editors and medical reviewers have over a decade of cumulative experience in medical content editing and have reviewed ...

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.



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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About The Contributor
The editorial staff of Desert Hope Treatment Center is comprised of addiction content experts from American Addiction Centers. Our editors and medical reviewers have over a decade of cumulative experience in medical content editing and have reviewed ...

Family Sues NV Jail over Death of Inmate during Heroin Detox


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?

About The Contributor
The editorial staff of Desert Hope Treatment Center is comprised of addiction content experts from American Addiction Centers. Our editors and medical reviewers have over a decade of cumulative experience in medical content editing and have reviewed ...

How to Handle Passive-Aggressive People in Recovery

Passive Aggressive Cat 0

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?

About The Contributor
The editorial staff of Desert Hope Treatment Center is comprised of addiction content experts from American Addiction Centers. Our editors and medical reviewers have over a decade of cumulative experience in medical content editing and have reviewed ...