DEAR MR. PRESIDENT… Did You Forget There Is An Opioid EPIDEMIC Happening Before There Was A COVID-19 Pandemic? A Special Message From Advocate & Author of “American Fix,” Ryan Hampton.

I ADVOCATE and SUPPORT All Forms of Recovery From Any Addiction.

Addiction Does Not Discriminate…

 

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In these unknown and uncertain times, it seems while this COVID-19 Pandemic is still spreading throughout our country, there is still a “BATTLE of an EPIDEMIC” happening in this country.  It also seems our Government, our President, and Legislators have forgotten and are NOT LISTENING.

They have worked faster than I have ever seen in my lifetime getting funding for this pandemic, but where is our immediate assistance for the DRUG EPIDEMIC?  We have surely lost way more lives since this OPIOID CRISIS in AMERICA has begun and we are still losing precious lives every day over and above the virus pandemic…Especially when we read headlines like this!

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Officials worry large potential spikes in overdose deaths amid COVID-19 pandemic

Health officials worry extended isolation could exacerbate the problem. Must read by ABC NEWS.

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When will our President, Vice President, and all of the Government start taking addiction seriously?
Why can’t they rush through more funding for an EPIDEMIC like they are for this Virus PANDEMIC?

Is it a class war fair?

It is because they think all addicts just ‘Choose To Be Addicts and SICK?’

Like this crisis and epidemic is not IMPORTANT ENOUGH?

Isn’t any life saved not a LIFE?

Shouldn’t ALL SICK PEOPLE DESERVE HELP and HOPE?

I think it is safe to say during this pandemic, and with so much funding being sent out everywhere to stop the bleeding of our economy, businesses, the mortgage and financial sectors, and slipping into recession and a huge amount of the job market all going to hell, where do you think they will start cutting funding first? Yes, you guessed it, addiction treatment, and mental health services! I could go on and on but I’ll let my friend Ryan Hampton share his message I got this week from him.

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Those suffering from substance use disorders amid the COVID-19 pandemic, in Jacksonville, Florida, the fire and rescue department reported a 20 percent increase in overdose emergency calls in March. In Columbus, Ohio, the county coroner’s office saw a surge in overdose deaths, including 12 in a 24-hour period the first week of April. And in New York State, at least four counties have acknowledged an increase in reported overdoses, including Erie County, where officials saw at least 110 drug overdoses, including 36 deaths, reported since the beginning of March.

 

“I think we need to consider the role that social isolation coupled with non-stop reporting on the pandemic may have on the feelings of desperation and hopelessness among those struggling with substance abuse,” U.S. Attorney for the Western District of New York James Kennedy Jr. said in a statement. “Amidst the current crisis, we need to remember that substance abuse existed long before COVID-19, and it will likely remain long after we have wiped out the virus.”

(ABC NEWS Article)

 

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This message from Ryan Hampton is very important to read and share out through Social Media while tagging our President and all Legislators! 

They NEED TO HEAR OUR VOICES OF RECOVERY and ADVOCACY around this issue!
As Ryan’s book description shares:

“Nearly every American knows someone who has been affected by the opioid crisis. Addiction is a trans-partisan issue that impacts individuals from every walk of life. Millions of Americans, tired of watching their loved ones die while politicians ignore this issue.
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Where is the solution?
Where is the hope?
Where’s the outrage?”
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~In “American Fix” an outline of the challenges that the recovery movement currently faces, and offers a concrete, comprehensive plan of action towards making America’s addiction crisis a thing of the past.”

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Image may contain: 4 people, including Ryan Hampton, people smiling{Hardest Activist and Advocate I Know!}

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Published by Medium on May 10, 2020. Original article can be found here.

 

By: Ryan Hampton. The Author of American Fix

If we look up from what’s right in front of us — a global pandemic — we’ll remember that we’ve been battling a public health crisis for more than a decade. The opioid epidemic alone has stolen more than 450,000 lives from us since 1999, but the total number of deaths related to substance use is around 1.75 million for that same period.

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Before this virus swept through the U.S., we were starting to see real change in the opioid crisis — both in the health systems and the decline of drug overdose deaths. Overdose death rates decreased by 4.1% from 2017 to 2018 in the U.S. This is not to deemphasize the pandemic’s impact on our country or the critical response needed, but to remind America that the opioid epidemic did not go away when COVID-19 reared its head. We can’t forget about people living with addiction.

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Now we’re simultaneously facing two crises, putting patients with opioid use disorder (OUD) at a significantly higher risk for overdose, death, and relapse. When there is so much uncertainty for those with addiction about how to continue receiving care during this time, it’s essential that addiction treatment programs continue to receive federal and state support so that we don’t lose our foothold on combating the opioid crisis.

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Nationally we’re seeing increased unemployment and poverty, mandatory changes to daily routines, and increased anxiety and stress which are only magnified for people managing addiction. These added stressors can disrupt a person’s recovery journey by overwhelming their coping mechanisms. Addiction is a disease of isolation, so the necessary physical distancing protocols that yank people out of their routines and their communities and trap them alone with anxiety (and even boredom) is dangerous to recovery.

 

Not only that, but the pandemic is shifting how people can receive treatment. Many support groups and counseling sessions are being provided virtually. But how about people who use medication-assisted treatment? A significant portion of people in treatment pays out of pocket for their care. With a rising number of Americans losing their jobs due to the pandemic, including people in recovery, their ability to afford life-saving care is in danger.
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The addiction treatment organizations are struggling too. They are spending more money to put protocols in place in response to COVID-19 while dealing with employee absences and patients forgoing treatment. Yes, federal and state regulators have loosened requirements for care at outpatient opioid treatment programs (OTPs), which is important. But if the OTPs don’t have the funding needed to continue operating in this new environment, these regulation modifications are irrelevant. Without ongoing treatment, those in addiction recovery are at risk of relapse and overdose.

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Before COVID-19 hit, our nation was at a turning point in the fight against the opioid epidemic. The coronavirus pandemic not only threatens thousands of lives, but it also threatens to completely derail the progress we’ve made in digging this country out of one of the worst human-made epidemics in history. If people living with addiction can’t get the care they need, they too will die.
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In a time when a pandemic is causing so much uncertainty, people living with OUD need stability. Addiction advocacy groups and others in the industry have issued a formal request to the federal government asking for $38.5 billion in emergency supplemental funding for direct payments to behavioral health organizations, which will help ensure they remain open and operating during the COVID-19 crisis.

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While this sounds like a lot, let me put this request into perspective: the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that the total “economic burden” of opioid misuse alone in the U.S. is $78.5 billion a year. We only need a small fraction of that cost to save lives.
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The bottom line is this: we need to make sure organizations that help people in recovery — opioid treatment programs, community behavioral health centers, peer support organizations, and others — get the resources they need to continue providing addiction and mental health care.

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Ryan Hampton is the organizing director at the Recovery Advocacy Project, author of “American Fix: Inside the Opioid Addiction Crisis — and How to End It” and national addiction recovery activist.

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Flash Back Weekend Article Share. My Interview With Elaine Meyer ~ Now in The Pacific Standard – The Health Costs of Legal Gambling.

Flash Back Weekend Article Share. My Interview With Elaine Meyer ~ Now in The Pacific Standard – The Health Costs of Legal Gambling.

 

“THIS IS ONE OF THE BIGGEST PUBLIC HEALTH ISSUES IN AMERICA TODAY THAT NO ONE HAS BEEN PAYING ATTENTION TO. GAMBLING!”

“A lot of people think it’s a tax on the stupid,” recovering gambling addict Kitty Martz told the Oregonian. “Really, we’re behaving exactly the way the machines want us to.”

“Gamblers exhibit many of the same problems as other addicts. “Everything you see with substance abuse you can make an analogy to gambling problems,” Martins says, citing family strife, financial hardship, and struggles with depression or anxiety.”

“IF I WERE THE GAMBLING INDUSTRY, I WOULD WANT TO FUND PEOPLE WHO HAD THE DISEASE POINT-OF-VIEW … BECAUSE [THEY ARE] PUTTING THE SOURCE OF PROBLEM GAMBLING BETWEEN THE EARS OF THE GAMBLER.”

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HERE IS WHERE I WALK IN I was honored to be interviewed, and at the time was written and released by Elaine for ‘Columbia University and The Epidemiology Dept.’ I was happy to help contribute an “inside look” of what addicted gambling, the diseased side looks like deep within my addiction.

As an advocate of addicted or problem gambling and now almost 12-yrs “BET FREE,”  I aim to change the way the public is seeing only ONE SIDE to this so-called activity of  “Fun and Entertainment.”  Because for those who lose control and become addicted?  There is a nasty sinister side to this thing called “gambling” … 

LITTLE HELP AVAILABLE

People with gambling problems tend to elicit little sympathy. They are seen typically as exercising bad judgment when it is known that the “house always wins.” They have often hurt people they are closest to, both financially and emotionally.

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“Former gambling addicts readily admit to their flaws. But, like most people, they typically started gambling because it was available, entertaining, and provided a potential if unlikely monetary reward. However, unlike most people who gamble, they became “hooked.” That’s how Catherine Townsend-Lyon speaks of her gambling addiction. “
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Catherine began playing video lottery terminals at delis and restaurants near her home in Grants Pass, Oregon, at the time, now living in Glendale, AZ. Catherine explains, “sometime after they were introduced in the 1990s, she became obsessed with a game called Flush Fever and soon began playing before and after work and during her lunch hour.” She lied to her husband about her whereabouts and started secretly gambling their mortgage payments.

She stole from the collection company she worked for.  Even when gambling at an Indian casino, sometimes wore bladder control underwear so she wouldn’t have to get up to use the restroom while playing. When she lost money, she played to win it back, and when she won, she played to win more. In an extreme moment, she skipped the funeral of a close friend to drive 40 miles to that Indian casino so she could win enough money to prevent her home from being foreclosed. Instead, she lost everything. She drove home in tears and attempted suicide by trying to slit her wrists but kept blacking out.
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“YOU DON’T HAVE TO EVEN BE IN ‘ACTION OR SITTING BEHIND A MACHINE’ BECAUSE YOU’RE CONSTANTLY THINKING ABOUT: WHEN AM I GOING TO GAMBLE? WHEN AM I GOING TO WIN OR LOSE? IT JUST COMPOUNDS.”

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“It’s like a battle you have with yourself with the triggers and the urges and the obsessiveness. You don’t even have to be in action or sitting behind a machine because you’re constantly thinking about: When am I going to gamble? When am I going to win or lose? It just compounds. It’s exhausting. It’s never-ending,” says Townsend-Lyon, who, after seeking treatment several times, has managed to stay away from gambling for the last seven-and-a-half years.

Catherine says she turned to gambling at a difficult time in her life. She had childhood trauma of sexual abuse, verbal, and her parents were heavy handed with discipline. Those memories kept haunting her and then, with her husband frequently traveling out of town for weeks for work, she found herself bored and looking for a way to fill the time and escape the “old pain” that resurfaced.  She had undiagnosed bipolar II disorder and on top of that had been sexually abused when she was younger, she had not been raised to know to seek therapy.


“I wasn’t a drug person or an alcoholic or anything like that, although I did drink more when I gambled. And because I was gambling, that was my coping skill. That’s what I was using to escape it, those feelings. I couldn’t stuff them away anymore. I would just use gambling to escape, not feel, zone out, you know what I mean?”
she said.

She published a book in 2013 about her former life, called Addicted to Dimes (Confessions of a Liar and a Cheat) “A Liar and Cheat” is what gambling addiction, this cunning disease turned me into.”  What troubles her is how easy it is for people in her position to gamble. She didn’t have to fly to Nevada or even drive to an Indian casino in her state. The video poker and slot machines she played, which are sponsored by the Oregon State Lottery, are allowed at bars, restaurants, and delis.

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1 in 5 Problem Gamblers Attempts Suicide!Still Think Your Lucky_(2)
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“[I]f these machines weren’t in the bars and delis, then I would not be gambling. It’s that simple for me,” says a 33-year-old man quoted in a recent series on the state lottery by the Oregonian. He estimates he has lost $15,000 over 12 years from gambling. “That may sound like an excuse, but ‘out of sight is out of mind.’”

For people who are trying to recover from gambling addiction, it can be difficult to find help. Calls per month to the National Problem Gambling hotline are over two-and-a-half times what they were 14 years ago, from 9,642 in 2000 to 24,475 in 2013, according to Keith Whyte, executive director of the National Council on Problem Gambling.

Yet funding for treatment centers, hotlines, and programs to prevent gambling addiction is minimal, says Martins. Funding for substance abuse treatment is about 281 times greater at $17 billion then public funding for problem gambling, at $60.6 million, although substance use disorders are only 3.6 times more common than gambling disorders, according to a 2013 survey by the Association of Problem Gambling Service Administrators and Problem Gambling Solutions.

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I urge everyone who visits to take some time and go read the full article written by Elaine R Meyer as the ‘Costs to Health Care from Legal Gambling’ on Pacific Standard Magazine as it will surprise you. Yes, it a bit long but well worth it!  You will read how drug and alcohol funding for treatment is far ahead of gambling addiction treatment and even options available for gambling treatment and resources.

Again, I am aiming to change this by advocacy, writing, and sharing my own recovery from this cunning addiction … ~Advocate/Writer/Author, Catherine Lyon

 

 

 

 

What Exactly Does a National Emergency Mean for Addiction? By, Alek Sabin

What Exactly Does a National Emergency Mean for Addiction? By, Alek Sabin

Recently, the Trump administration announced that the opioid epidemic and the addiction that it has caused is a national emergency that was going to require government attention. This declaration is an enormous deal in the continuing fight to reduce the effects of addiction that have spread over the country and has disproportionately affected our elderly, as well as the millennials that are supposed to be joining the workforce. However, it’s important to take a step back and look at what a declaration of a national emergency means and what exactly it changes. Here are some things to keep in mind, in the months and years ahead…


“There are two different national emergency laws that could be used.”

First of all, it’s important to note that Trump hasn’t actually made an official declaration of a national emergency through the legal system, but has said that he is going to do so. At the moment, the administration says it is exploring options about how it is going to go about declaring the emergency.

There are two laws that it must decide between when making the declaration: the Stafford Act or the Public Health Service Act. A declaration made under The Stafford Act would open up funding that is used for natural disasters and other such relief funds, while the Public Health Service Act would utilize medical resources that are at the government’s disposal. Either way, money and personnel would be deployed to different areas in need.

 

“More funding would be opened up”


National Emergency 3

Either way, one of the major differences that an official declaration of a national emergency would mean is that more funding would be opened up to fight addiction around the country. This would especially benefit rural areas, which are horribly underfunded, at the moment, when it comes to fighting addiction.

For example, even though rates of substance abuse are similar between rural and urban areas, the overdose and chronic addiction rates are drastically higher in rural areas, due to the fact that urban areas benefit from more concentrated resources to focus on treatment. A national emergency fund would allow rural areas with more tools to prevent substance abuse is areas that have been alienated, thus far.

 

“Just a declaration alone brings greater awareness.”

 

Interestingly enough, one of the biggest benefits of declaring a national emergency has actually already been set in motion before Trump has even officially taken any other meaningful action. Just making a declaration that he is planning to make a declaration brings a great deal of awareness to the addiction situation in our country, as there are over 140 Americans that die every day, due to fatal drug overdoses.

“A national emergency combats the stigma of addiction.”

In a similar vein to the awareness that such a declaration brings, talking about the addiction epidemic as a national emergency also does a great deal to make this more of a health issue, rather than a moral one. Sadly, there is still a major stigma that surrounds addiction and substance abuse, which stems from a misunderstanding of the medical nature of addiction as a behavioral disease. A declaration of a national emergency does a great deal to combat that stigma and rallies the country around solving a problem that we have neglected to address for years.

“Lower drug prices could follow.”

One of the major points of the declaration that was brought up by Trump is that the administration plans to use its powers of national emergency to negotiate lower prices on lifesaving overdose drugs like naloxone. While it is uncertain how the administration could do this, and there isn’t outlined plan on how they would, what they can do to open up access is to waive restrictions on doctors who can prescribe drugs that fight the effects of addiction and eliminating limits on how many people doctors who specialize in addiction are able to treat.

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“A real fix must spread to the pharmaceutical industry.”

 

While a national emergency is a great step in the right direction, we can’t continue to fight a problem like addiction without first acknowledging the root of the problem. The opioid epidemic didn’t come from nowhere, and the nefarious truth about this situation is that it originated in the very medical system that is meant to keep our population healthy. Most people who are addicted to prescription opioids and harder opiates, like heroin, got these drugs legally, and for a good reason, in the first place.

Until we can eliminate our pharmaceutical industry’s addiction on prescribing prescription opioid painkillers that they know contain a high risk of addiction, we won’t be able to stem the continuing cycle of addiction. Hopefully, the national emergency causes the government to look at the cause, and not just the effect.

~Article Courtesy of Author, Alek Sabin