Inside Addiction is a weekly feature on The Recovery Village website that covers the most significant stories related to mental health and substance abuse. For the week of Nov. 24–30, the top stories include the impact of President Trump’s Medicare proposal on prescription drug costs and availability; Amanda Bynes’ history of addiction; Bruce Springsteen’s experiences with mental illness; and how communities and organizations are fighting against and struggling with the opioid epidemic.
How President Trump’s Medicare Proposal Could Affect Drug Prices and Accessibility
President Donald Trump’s administration proposed to lower out-of-pocket prescription drug costs for Medicare recipients. Doing so could limit the number of drugs available to senior citizens or eliminate coverage for certain medications.
Among the changes the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services proposed to Medicare Advantage and Medicare Part D, one change allows insurers to stop covering prescription drugs used to treat diseases such as depression, cancer and HIV. The current laws require insurance companies to cover at least two drugs per ailment. Additionally, there are six classes of medication that insurers must cover completely for seniors.
The proposed changes would limit drug manufacturers from being able to increase prices and provides insurers more leverage since they can dictate which drugs they want to cover. [CNBC]
Amanda Bynes Discussed Her Substance Abuse and Addiction
Amanda Bynes, the star actress who had two arrests related to substance use, recently discussed her struggles with addiction with Paper magazine.
Bynes became a well-known child actress in the 1990s and early 2000s due to starring in the Nickelodeon shows “All That” and “The Amanda Show.” She also had featured roles in the movies “What A Girl Wants,” “She’s The Man” and “Hairspray.” She halted her acting career in 2010 and was arrested for drunk-driving in 2012. In 2013, she was charged with marijuana possession.
Now 32 years old, Bynes opened up about her marijuana, molly and ecstasy abuse. Bynes told Paper that she also experimented with cocaine and Adderall, the latter of which is a prescription drug used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Bynes said her Adderall abuse caused her to relinquish her role in the movie “Hall Pass.” Her last movie was the 2010 film “Easy A,” which starred Emma Stone.
Bynes said in the interview that she is sober and her drug use is in the past. She plans to return to acting. [The Telegraph]
New Fellowship Program Aims to Curb Opioid Epidemic
The University of Arizona College of Medicine – Phoenix has created one of the first fellowship programs dedicated to addressing the opioid epidemic.
The Addiction Medicine Fellowship Program is part of an increased effort from medical experts to curtail a crisis that claims thousands of American lives each year. As part of the increased focus, the University of Arizona College of Medicine revamped its medical school curriculum to include opioid-related topics. Addiction treatment training is not typical for most medical-education institutions.
The University of Arizona partnered with Banner University Medical Center Phoenix and the Phoenix VA Health Care System to create the fellowship, and students in the one-year fellowship will have clinical rotations at each medical facility. The Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education recognizes the one-year fellowship, making it one of 50 granted accreditation. [AZ Big Media]
How the Opioid Epidemic Affects Native American Communities
The opioid epidemic has had a wide-ranging effect on Americans of every race, gender and class. However, Native Americans have been one of the most affected demographics — and one of the least-discussed when referencing opioid addiction.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, deaths related to heroin increased 236 percent among Native Americans between 2010 and 2014. The number of overdose deaths for this demographic increased 519 percent between 1999 and 2015. Many tribes do not have sufficient resources to help their members who have a substance use disorder. Much of the federal funding given to Native American tribes is for law enforcement and not social services, which includes addiction treatment.
There are other effects of the crisis. According to Cherokee Nation deputy general Chrissi Ross Nimmo, there is a high number of children being born with a drug dependency due to their parents’ substance abuse. Many of these newborns enter foster care while their parents recover. [The California Aggie]
Bruce Springsteen Opens Up About Mental Illness
Bruce Springsteen discussed his struggles with depression and revealed that he has relied on numerous medications to manage negative feelings.
The singer, songwriter and guitarist’s memoir, “Born to Run,” includes harrowing details of how severe his mental illness has been for decades. Springsteen’s father had paranoid schizophrenia, and Springsteen himself has experienced mental breakdowns.
“I’ve had to deal with a lot of it over the years, and I’m on a variety of medications that keep me on an even keel,” Springsteen said in an interview with Esquire. “Otherwise, I can swing rather dramatically and … the wheels can come off a little bit.” [Yahoo]
Social Media Addiction the Original Focus of ‘Wreck-It Ralph 2’
The sequel to the movie “Wreck-It Ralph” is titled “Ralph Breaks the Internet.” The first movie follows an arcade-game character who plays the antagonist in his game but wishes to be the protagonist. In the new movie, Wreck-It Ralph and his friend, Vanellope, enter the internet to fix Vanellope’s game and prevent it from being shut down. However, the original premise of the sequel targeted social media addiction.
According to producer Clark Spencer, the plot involved Vanellope becoming obsessed with her social media popularity. Social media addiction is an issue that affects many people, largely due to the rise of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat. [The Fix]
Workplace Mental Health Is a Priority for People When Job Hunting
A survey of American office workers revealed that most people value mental health in the workspace above equality, sustainability and diversity.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 80 percent of adults who struggle with depression reported difficulty with completing work assignments or participating in social activities due to the symptoms of their mental illness.
Peldon Rose’s survey conducted in July 2018 focused on how employees feel about mental health at work. Approximately 72 percent of participants said they want employers who champion mental health. Equality was important to 48 percent of the participants, while sustainability (38 percent) and diversity (31 percent) followed. [Forbes]
Why Graduate School Is Bad for Mental Health
A new study by Harvard researchers revealed that graduate students are more likely than other people to struggle with mental health disorders. A survey of 500 economics Ph.D. students at eight universities found that 18 percent experienced moderate or severe symptoms of depression or anxiety. By comparison, the national average is less than 6 percent. Additionally, approximately 10 percent of the students surveyed reported having suicidal thoughts.
The research found that graduate-education experiences are a major cause of these internal struggles. Half of the respondents who reported anxiety or depression were diagnosed following the start of their graduate studies. The deeper into a graduate program a student was, the more likely they were to suffer from a severe mental illness.
Graduate students said that the combination of financial stress and professional expectations were behind the rise in anxiety and depression. Lucy Johnson, an assistant professor at the University of Wisconsin–Eau Claire, said that students who have financial limitations and an overeagerness to find employment are less likely to enjoy social activities or personal time away from their studies. Johnson said that these restrictions cause increased isolation, in addition to the students relying on loans for support. [The Atlantic]