Tag Archives: substance abuse

New Legislation Seeks to Help Children of Families Dealing with Substance Abuse

One of the most heart breaking aspects of addiction is the effect it has on children and families. There are approximately 200,000 children in foster care because their parents are addicted. Although there is no question that some form of intervention needs to happen, especially for the wellbeing of the children, just how that should take place is easier said than done.

Congresswoman Kristi Noem of South Dakota recently introduced legislation to help this situation, and she’s getting a lot of support. The bill, H.R. 2857, is called the Supporting Families in Substance Abuse Treatment Act and recently passed the House and is on to the Senate. It seeks to provide funding for treatment programs that help keep families together rather than sending kids off to foster care.

Treatment centers that provide adequate facilities for children to remain with parents during rehabilitation are few and far between. This is despite the evidence shows that keeping children with parents who receive treatment is more effective for both the adults and the kids long-term.

This unprecedented move would help to restore family structures that are so often beyond repair after the child is placed in foster care. Oftentimes the child, who likely has lived with several different families while in the state’s custody, loses the trust and security that the parent is supposed to offer. And while drug abuse certainly reduces that trust, allowing the child to stay with a parent who is willing to go to treatment and get better helps to maintain the trust and security the child needs and deserves.

“I think it would be very hard for the children – or for all of them, probably – to work with each other when that trust has been broken. In that capacity, I was an advocate for the children, and it was very hard, especially when the child can’t trust their own parent or has been hurt so many times because of alcohol and drug abuse or whatever else it may be,” explained Anna Wahcahunka, a counselor at a treatment center that deals with the fall out of parent drug abuse problems.

“Drug treatment programs that keep families together and children out of foster care have proven to produce better outcomes for both the parent and child,” said Rep. Noem in a release. “Even so, government-induced barriers exist that make a family-focused approach difficult. I’m hopeful the Supporting Families in Substance Abuse Treatment Act will offer another evidence-based tool to those on the drug abuse epidemic’s front line, helping them strengthen families and change lives.”

The bill works by providing families that have a parent enrolled in a state-approved treatment facility with income that would have otherwise gone to a foster family. In order to qualify, treatment programs have to offer parenting skills training, parent education and individual and family counseling. The length of the stay can be no longer than 12 months, but many believe this is an adequate amount of time to regain the family structure and start to repair the damage caused by the drug or alcohol abuse.

The magnitude of the drug problem in America still has not yet fully been realized. This is largely due to the number of people who are dependent on or abusing their prescribed medications as well as the more obvious illicit drug use. Tens of millions of people in the country are in need of help, and finding ways to not only create positive change now in terms of rehabilitation and prevention, but also long-term improvements through policy improvements are essential.

Economic Worries can Lead to Drug Abuse

Middle-aged, average Americans are not supposed to die at alarming rates. In fact, with increased health care, social programs and a general improvement of self-awareness, the middle class is supposed to live longer than past generations. However, this is not the case. In fact, ten years ago the number of deceased middle-aged Americans started to climb significantly. In an effort to find out why, two economists, Anne Case and Angus Deaton, delved into the numbers and found a surprising correlation.

They found that other statistics were rising along with the death rate. Drug and alcohol use among this demographic were increasing at a similar rate. What was even more interesting was that as these two things were rising, the economy was taking a nose dive. The uncertainty of the financial future could be causing people to give in to depression and succumb to overdoses, alcoholism and suicides, all things contributing to the death rate.

“Whatever it is these people are unhappy, they’re left behind, some of their jobs have gone away, they’re worse off than their parents were, they’re worried about opportunities for their kids,” explained Deaton.

In a separate study, researchers made a connection between the rise of opioid abuse and the rise of unemployment. They found that countries with more unemployed citizens also had higher rates of substance abuse. It appears that connection is so sensitive that a 1% increase in unemployment effects a 3.6% increase in opioid overdoses. In yet another study, this time in China, researchers found that when trade brought about sudden unemployment there were more suicides and drug overdoses. Examined as a group, these studies certainly indicate that people are greatly affected by the tide of the economy.

But, if rise and fall of the economy can bring about such extreme behaviors, maybe health officials, families and loved ones can use this as a predictor. For instance, if it appears that there are less jobs, or unemployment starts to rise, communities can have programs in place for out -of-work professionals that connect them with their peers, therapists if needed and networking tools to get them back in the work force. There can also be more substance abuse prevention programs for adults.

If you have a loved one struggling with drugs or alcohol due to economic stress, contact us today to see how we can help.

The Surgeon General’s Report on Addiction

US Surgeon General Calls for Holistic Approach in Addiction Treatment

Surgeon General's Report on Addiction

The US Surgeon General has issued the first report of its kind on the subject of substance abuse. In it, Dr. Vivek Murthy issued a direct call to action to stop what he has said is a “public health crisis of drug and alcohol addiction that is both underappreciated and undertreated.”

US Drug Use and Overdose Statistics

Dr. Murthy pointed out that the number of US deaths from drug overdoses reached 47,055 in 2014, which was a record number according to statistics provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This figure represented a 6.5 percent increase over previous years.

The government has requested additional funds to address the serious issue of drug addiction. President Barack Obama has made a request for additional funding of US$ 1.1 billion to help combat the problem. Opioid painkiller abuse is of particular concern, with drugs such as fentanyl, oxycodone, hydrocodone and morphine being at the forefront of the public’s attention.

In 2015, the number of people who have reported either using illegal drugs or misusing prescription drugs has hit 27 million. Close to one-quarter of all adolescents and adults (66 million people) have reported engaging in an episode of binge drinking during the past month.

Early Intervention Important: Surgeon General

Dr. Murthy’s report calls for a holistic approach to taking on the issue of addiction. It should involve a number of entities and organizations, from policy makers and regulators to communities, schools and families. One of Dr. Murthy’s goals is to increase access to existing treatment programs and to expand the number of programs available.

His report also discussed the importance of early intervention in schools to teach children about the dangers of alcohol use. Dr. Murthy pointed out that if a young person has their first drink before they turn 15, they are four times more likely to develop an alcohol problem than if they postponed their first drink to after age 21.

Dr. Murthy’s model for his approach is the 1964 Surgeon General’s report on tobacco. At that time, approximately 42 percent of the US population smoked, but few people recognized the dangers of tobacco products. Through the work of the campaign, the public was made aware of the health consequences of smoking, and the current smoking rate is below 17 percent.

Study Links Substance Abuse, Stress to Teen Violence

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Teen Substance AbuseSubstance abuse and stress appear to be major catalysts for teen violence. A recent study published in the Journal of Pediatrics shows that despite the belief that race, community or culture are the major determining factors when it comes to violent behavior at a young age, drug use and stress are more of the main influences.

Researchers and some members of the medical community are hopeful that not only will this information dispel common disbeliefs that children are born into a violent lifestyle, but that they will also be able to receive more help to handle stressors and drug temptations.

Alisha Moreland, MD, is the director of the Avel Gordly Center for Healing at Oregon Health and Science University in Portland and is anxious to help at-risk youth. “I get very concerned about the political conversation when you start talking about risk factors for people of color, violence and guns, because it speaks to the myth that if you’re black or Latino, you’re inherently violent. Everybody at some point becomes emotionally distressed, but that does not mean you are mentally ill, nor do mental health and mental illness mean the same thing,” explained Moreland.

In order to conduct the study, researchers investigated data that was gathered from 13,503 teenagers. In addition to analyzing the information provided, they also conducted interviews with the teens. It was discovered that of the children studied, the majority cited drugs and stress as motivating factors.

Before the study was even conducted, it was widely accepted that children who grow up in households where members of the family are abusing drugs are more likely to abuse drugs themselves. This correlation along with the obvious stressors this places on a child can all contribute to future acts of violence. Identifying potential motivating factors to underage violence will not only prevent future altercations, but could allow children to receive help for drug abuse and emotional problems before they escalate.