Each week, Inside Addiction recaps the most newsworthy headlines about substance use or mental health from the past week. Here is what you need to know about addiction and mental illness for the week of Aug. 13—20.

Steve Smith Sr.: My Depression Left Me Emotionally Broken

More NFL players are talking about mental illness. A week after former safety Brian Dawkins opened up during his Hall of Fame speech about his experiences with depression, former wide receiver Steve Smith Sr. also talked about his struggles with the disorder. Smith, who retired in 2016, wrote on NFL.com about how he battled depressive feelings his entire career and often tried to avoid public appearances because of them. However, he said attending counseling helped him better manage his mental health problems. [NFL.com]

CDC: More Pregnant Women Are Using Opioids

A recent report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicated that the number of pregnant women grappling with opioid addiction at labor and delivery more than quadrupled from 1999 to 2014. During that timeframe, the prevalence rate of opioid use during pregnancy grew each year. Using opioids during pregnancy can lead to neonatal abstinence syndrome in newborns. [CDC]

California Aims to Tighten Law Allowing Suspects to Receive Mental Health Treatment and Have Their Charges Dismissed

California Gov. Jerry Brown’s administration is trying to narrow a law that allows crime suspects to receive mental health treatment in exchange for having their charges dismissed. The original law, signed in June, expanded the number of suspects who qualify for diversion. However, the law faced criticism from people who said that it would have freed murderers and rapists. An amended version of the law aims to prevent violent criminals from qualifying for this program. [LA Times]

A Record 72,000 Drug Overdoses Occurred in 2017

In 2017, about 72,000 people in the United States died of a drug overdose — a new record, according to the CDC. This death toll is higher than that of car crashes, gun deaths and the AIDS epidemic in their deadliest years. Analysts believe that the synthetic opioid fentanyl is a major driver in opioid deaths. [The New York Times]

Letting People with PTSD Choose Method of Treatment Improves Their Quality of Life, Study Finds

A study by Case Western Reserve University found that letting individuals experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) choose their method of treatment can improve their quality of life and reduce symptoms of PTSD. Norah Feeny, the study’s lead author, said that people with PTSD who choose their treatment are more likely to stick with it. Conversely, individuals with PTSD who engaged in drugs or alcohol had an increased risk of dropping out of treatment. [Medical Xpress]

Adderall Doesn’t Improve Cognition in People Without ADHD, Study Suggests

A joint study by the University of Rhode Island and Brown University suggested that the prescription stimulant Adderall can create memory problems in people who do not experience attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Among college students who had never before taken ADHD medications, researchers found that Adderall impaired memory and had no effects on reading comprehension. [Healthline]

Olympian Michael Phelps Opens Up About His Depression

In a video posted to his Twitter account, Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps spoke about his experiences with depression. Despite his achievements in the Olympics, Phelps said that at times he questioned whether he wanted to live anymore. He mentioned that depression makes it hard for people to complete everyday tasks and encouraged those with the disorder to seek help. [The Baltimore Sun]

Using Opioids After Wisdom Teeth Removal Triples Risk of Long-Term Use

A study by the University of Michigan found that people who use opioids, like OxyContin, to reduce pain caused by the removal of wisdom teeth are about three-times more likely than their peers to refill their prescription weeks or months later. Teens and young adults who had a history of mental health problems experienced an increased risk of long-term opioid use after having their wisdom teeth removed. Researchers suggested that dentists and oral surgeons should consider prescribing non-opioid pain medications to patients whose wisdom teeth are removed. [University of Michigan]

Brain Trauma Increases Risk of Suicide, Study Finds

Many people who deal with chronic pain or mental illness experience suicidal thoughts. A study by Denmark researchers found that people who have suffered a traumatic brain injury are about twice as likely as individuals without brain trauma to end their lives. The study, published in the medical journal JAMA, showed that patients who had longer hospital stays after experiencing traumatic brain injuries were at the highest risk of suicide in the six months following their hospital stay. [ABC News]

High Rates of Benzodiazepine Prescriptions Might Create New Drug Crisis

Amid the opioid epidemic, a rising number of people are being prescribed a class of anti-anxiety medications called benzodiazepines. According to data from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, written prescriptions for anti-anxiety pills, like Valium and Xanax, increased by 67 percent from 1996 to 2013. Using benzodiazepines can lead to dependence, addiction or overdose. [NBC News]

Addiction and mental illness have reached epidemic levels in the United States. If you’re experiencing a substance use or mental health disorder, seek assistance. The Recovery Village runs several rehab centers throughout the United States. To learn how treatment can help you better manage your addiction, contact The Recovery Village today.

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Addiction and Mental Health Headlines for Aug. 13–20: Football Star’s Depression, and More
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Matt Gonzales

About Matt Gonzales

Matt Gonzales is an award-winning content writer. Since 2016, he has covered the latest drug trends, analyzed complex medical reports and shared compelling stories of people in recovery from addiction. Matt leverages his experiences in addiction research to provide hope to individuals grappling with substance use or mental health disorders.

After achieving a degree in journalism, Matt began his career as a professional writer in 2011. He has written for various online platforms, including Yahoo! Inc., and has served as the head writer of a weekly journal and quarterly magazine. His articles have garnered thousands of views and social media shares.

While writing about addiction, Matt has interviewed physicians, politicians, nonprofit leaders and other experts in the field of addiction. In 2018, Matt won a Digital Health Award for a feature story about the laws and misconceptions associated with medical and recreational marijuana.

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