Each week, Inside Addiction highlights the top trending news in the world of addiction and mental health. For the week of Sept. 10–14, 2018, the biggest stories include celebrity reactions to Mac Miller’s overdose death, the legal battle involving the creation of the opioid OxyContin, and Prince William creating a new mental health resource for United Kingdom citizens.
Celebrities Open Up About Addiction in the Wake of Mac Miller’s Death
Following the overdose death of well-known rapper Mac Miller, numerous actors, musicians and other pop-culture icons offered their thoughts on Miller as a person and artist. A few opened up about their own struggles with addiction.
One of them, rapper Bow Wow, revealed on Twitter some of his experiences with substance use. In a series of tweets, Bow Wow urged young people to remove drugs and alcohol from their lives to avoid more tragic deaths. He then focused on his own history and went public with some intricate details about how substance use affected him and his relationships.
“I’m going to let something out,” he said in the thread. “When me and Omarion worked on ‘Face Off’ album. I was high off lean everyday!”
“Break the cycle,” he said toward the end of the thread. [Complex]
Man Who Helped Create OxyContin Is Making Drug to Help With Opioid Addiction
In a moment that many will find ironic, the former chairman and president of Purdue Pharma, the company that created the popular opioid OxyContin, has patented a new drug to help people who struggle with opioid addiction.
Richard Sackler is making a form of buprenorphine, an opioid agonist that diminishes withdrawal symptoms. Sackler, whose family owns Purdue Pharma, has been linked to the rise of prescription opioid use in the U.S. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that more than 63,000 people in the United States died from drug overdoses in 2016. Around two-thirds of those deaths involved the use of an opioid. [Washington Post]
Colorado Attorney General Taking Legal Action Against Purdue Pharma
The news of Sackler’s invention comes at the same time as Purdue Pharma is being sued by the Colorado attorney general.
The lawsuit claims that the company played a big part in the current drug epidemic that claims thousands of lives each year. Attorney General Cynthia Coffman claims that Purdue Pharma pushed drugs such as OxyContin and did not reveal some of the harmful side effects. Thus, Coffman claims that the company is at least partially responsible for the opioid-addiction struggles that millions of Americans face.
“Purdue’s habit-forming medications coupled with their reckless marketing have robbed children of their parents, families of their sons and daughters, and destroyed the lives of our friends, neighbors and co-workers,” Coffman stated. [Washington Post]
Decision Coming for NFL on Player’s Relapse
An ESPN.com report claims that Dallas Cowboys defensive end Randy Gregory suffered a substance use relapse in August. The NFL’s decision on whether to suspend him or take an alternative action could be coming next week.
Gregory, a Nebraska standout, was drafted by the Cowboys in 2016. On Sunday he played his first game in nearly two years. The report from ESPN’s Adam Schefter states that the NFL is moving toward treatment and support rather than suspension and discipline action when a player violates the league’s drug use policy.
Gregory was suspended for all of the 2017 season due to previous violations of the NFL’s drug policy. He was reinstated during the summer after meeting with league commissioner Roger Goodell. [ESPN]
Bradley Cooper Relives Substance Use During Making of ‘A Star is Born’
In one of the lead roles in the upcoming film “A Star is Born,” actor Bradley Cooper spoke of his past with substance use and how the making of the movie triggered those memories.
Cooper, who also directed the movie, portrays rockstar Jackson Maine who battles an addiction to drugs and alcohol. This role has brought back his own real-life memories of using drugs and alcohol. In 2016, Cooper told Barbara Walters about his struggles with drugs and alcohol. Cooper said that at that time he had been sober for 11 years.
“Any time you’re trying to tell the truth, you need to go to places and use things that have happened to you, or you’ve read about or experienced,” Cooper said at the Toronto International Film Festival premiere. “And that’s all part of the beauty of turning whatever things you’ve gone through into a story.” [Variety]
Prince William to Launch New Mental Health Website
Following a report that many United Kingdom adults suffer from mental health struggles at work, The Duke of Cambridge unveiled a website for British citizens dedicated to improving mental health in the workplace.
The website, mentalhealthatwork.org.uk, is up and running and includes resources such as documents, podcasts and blogs. The focus on mental health comes days after a survey revealed that 48 percent of U.K. workforce members have mental health struggles at their jobs. [CNN]
1 in 3 College Students Report Symptoms of Mental Illness
The American Psychology Association announced that 1 in 3 college students have symptoms of a mental health disorder. More troubling than that statistic is the fact that the association said there aren’t enough counseling services to help.
The study included U.S. students and those from seven other countries, totaling close to 14,000 enrollees at 19 different colleges. The results show that 35 percent of the respondents reported symptoms that coincided with at least one mental health disorder. The most common illness was depression, followed by a general anxiety disorder.
Lead author Dr. Randy Auerbach, of Columbia University, explained that the number of students who need treatment is far greater than the resources at most on-campus counseling centers.
“Considering that students are a key population for determining the economic success of a country,” Auerbach added, “colleges must take a greater urgency in addressing this issue.” [Journal of Abnormal Psychology]
Study Says There’s No Mental Health History for Many Suicidal Soldiers
More than 33 percent of U.S. Army soldiers who attempt suicide do not have a history of mental health disorders. That’s the revelation of one study published on the JAMA Psychiatry Network. The research looked into the mental health history of more than 9,600 active-duty soldiers who attempted suicide between 2004 and 2009. The study also researched the same information for more than 150,000 soldiers who did not attempt suicide. More than 3,500 of the soldiers who attempted suicide, around 36 percent, had no prior diagnosis of a mental health disorder.
According to lead author Dr. Robert Ursano, the director of the Center for the Study of Traumatic Stress at the University of the Health Sciences in Maryland, the high percentage of suicidal soldiers who did not have a history of mental illness might not have reported struggles due to stigma or being unaware of the symptoms.
There are other potential causes for the lack of a connection between suicide attempts among soldiers and a history of mental illness. The study found that soldiers in their first year of military service were six times more likely to attempt suicide than those who had been serving for longer. Additionally, Army soldiers who had previous deployments were more than twice as likely to attempt suicide than those who were in their first deployment. [New Hampshire Union Leader]
Former NFL Quarterback Discusses Personal History of Mental Health and Addiction
Ryan Leaf, a former NFL quarterback taken No. 2 overall in the 1998 NFL Draft by the San Diego Chargers, opened up about his post-playing career and how his life took a dangerous turn due to addiction and mental illness.
Leaf was considered one of the biggest busts in NFL history after only playing four seasons in the league and retiring with 14 touchdowns and 36 interceptions. Originally from Montana, and a star quarterback for three seasons at Washington State University, he was interviewed for a story related to the opening of a new addiction and suicide prevention facility in Sioux Falls, S.D. Leaf said that he developed a Vicodin addiction after he retired. Soon after, he attempted suicide.
“Before, you had to remember all the lies you told and the spider webs you’ve spun,” Leaf said, “and now it’s about true vulnerability.” [KDLT]
A Digital Future for Mental Health Medicine?
Otsuka America Pharmaceutical Inc., a division of Tokyo-based Otsuka Holdings and a large international drug manufacturer, will soon begin distribution of a digital medication to help people who suffer from schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. The drug, known as Aripiprazole, will be the first digital pill in the U.S. for the treatment of mental health disorders.
The drug will be a sensor-embedded tablet used along with a patch and downloadable app. By using the digital process, patients are more likely to take the correct dose of the medication and at the appropriate time.
The Tokyo drug manufacturer has signed an agreement with Magellan Health, a for-profit health care company based in Arizona. The drug could cost around $1,650 per monthly dose. Access will be limited at first, with distribution going to Medicaid patients in certain states. [Digital Commerce 360]