Inside Addiction brings you the latest headlines from the week in the world of addiction and mental health. For this week, September 17–21, the top trending stories are that SAMHSA says marijuana use is up while heroin use is down, Congress adds a bill to get restrictions on Medicaid coverage lifted to the opioid package legislation and the NBA reminds players that their mental health comes first.

According to SAMHSA, the Use of Marijuana Is up and Heroin Use Is Down

On September 14, data from the 2017 National Survey on Drug Use and Health was released and the number of people misusing heroin decreased from 948,000 people to 886,000 people. The survey also found that the rate of overall substance misuse in young adults has increased and the rates of meth and marijuana misuse were higher in 2017 compared to 2016.

Another concern that researchers have is the increase in pregnant women misusing marijuana. Approximately 7.1 percent of pregnant women reported they had used marijuana and 3.1 percent reported they used it daily. [Medscape Medical News]

Substance Misuse Glamorized in Hollywood

Rapper Mac Miller’s overdose death brought substance misuse in Holywood into the spotlight once again. Celebrities like Demi Lovato and Orlando Brown have recently made headlines for their substance use and they, like so many other celebrities, ask themselves if their entourages are really their friends. The people surrounding them will often enable their substance use disorders and if something happens to the celebrity, their entourage is often nowhere to be found. The popularization of drug misuse has not only affected the general population but has those celebrities may initially feel like their substance use disorder is normalized and justified. [The George-Anne]  

Bipartisans in Congress Aim to Get Medicaid Restriction of Substance Misuse Treatment Lifted

A proposal by Senators Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) was introduced to Congress on Tuesday, September 18, that would allow states to use money allocated for Medicaid coverage to pay for or cover a portion of addiction treatment facility costs. To get coverage, the person must be diagnosed with a substance use disorder and treatment will only be covered for up to 90 consecutive days.

Previously passed opioid packages partially repealed restrictions on Medicaid coverage, but the package that was passed on Tuesday, September 18, did not include the proposed repeal on Medicaid restrictions. The group of bipartisan senators wants to push the bill to be included in the final legislation regarding the opioid package. [The Hill]

Skin Grafts Are Blocking Cocaine Cravings and Addiction

Researchers at the University of Chicago used a hBChE gene to create lab-grown skin for mice in the hopes of blocking cravings for cocaine. They found promising results, the skin grafts effectively decreased the rate of lethal overdoses from 50 percent to zero after the mice had been injected with high, potentially lethal, doses of cocaine.

Researchers concluded that adapting this to humans could be a good way to block addiction, but of course, further testing is required.[CNBC.com]

Bipartisan Bill Passed to Make It More Difficult to Ship Fentanyl in the US Mail  

As part of the opioid package legislation that was passed this week (September 18th), Senator Robert Portman pushed to include a measure to make it more difficult for fentanyl to be mailed through the United States Postal Service.

Portman said, “By closing the loophole in our international mail system that drug traffickers have exploited to ship fentanyl into the U.S., we can help law enforcement keep this poison out of our communities.” The senator went on to say that he believes this bill being passed will allow more Americans who are struggling with substance use disorders the chance to reach their potential. [whio.com]

NBA Takes the Lead on Ensuring Players Are Mentally Healthy

On Tuesday, September 18th, the NBA commissioner, Adam Silver, and the NBA executive director, Michele Roberts, reached out to league players to remind them that keep their mental health in check. In a letter sent to each player, Silver and Roberts state, “Each of our offices has a newly enhanced mental wellness programs, which we encourage you to use to manage stress, anxiety and other challenges.”

Last season, all-stars Kevin Love and DeMar DeRozan revealed and discussed their struggles with mental health. Silver and Roberts concluded the letter with, “We may not always agree on every issue, but we still look out for one another. We understand that we’re all part of something bigger than just a game.” [NBA.com]

Patient talking with doctor

Boston Celtics Worked to Get Jabari Bird Treatment Before Domestic Violence Incident

A source revealed to ESPN that the Boston Celtics organization was working with Jabari Bird, the team’s guard, on seeking mental health treatment in the weeks prior to his domestic violence arrest. Bird allegedly strangled a woman at least a dozen times over a four-hour period. The woman told officers that she was finally able to get away from Bird after he became unconscious with “seizure-like” symptoms.

The woman, who remains unnamed, told law enforcement that Bird threw her against a wall after the two got into an argument at Bird’s residence. She said he would strangle her until she went limp allowing her to catch her breath and then start choking her again. The woman also told officers that Bird kicked her multiple times and drug her across the floor. Bird was charged with assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, assault and battery of a family or household member, kidnapping and strangulation. At his arraignment, he pleaded not guilty. His next court date is set for October 25th. [Espn.com]

$9 Million Allocated to Louisiana to Improve Student Mental Health Services

On Monday, September 17, the state of Louisiana was given a multi-million dollar federal grant to improve mental health services in the state. The Jefferson Parish Public school system is receiving $2.75 million to improve the mental health services for students in that area. Louisiana government officials hope that this new program will not only raise awareness about mental health disorders among children but the education department specifically wants to provide specialized training for school staff on how to recognize and respond to mental health disorders.

The state superintendent, John White, praises the program for the opportunity to develop and implement methods to better serve struggling students throughout the state. “In order to truly serve every child, every day, we must understand and meet their learning needs, as well as their social and emotional needs,” White stated. [New Orleans Metro Education News]

The 6th Annual Mental Health Summit Raises Awareness

Organizations from counties in Northern California met Tuesday, September 18, to network and share methods and practices of how each group deals with people struggling with mental health disorders. By sharing this information, each organization can learn from one another and help improve mental health services in their community.

Wolf Phillips, part of Compass House, came to the event to share his experience of living with bipolar disorder. “Doing presentations out in these events brings awareness to what mental illness is and that you have a place to go where you’re not frowned on and you don’t feel left out,” Phillips said. “This event breaks that barrier. It puts people’s guard down to where they’re able to share themselves.” [kdrv.com]

The National Alliance on Mental Illness Has Candlelight Vigil to Raise Mental Health Awareness

The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) at Duke University held an event to shed some light on mental health issues and disorders that are affecting people at the university as well as across the nation. Yan Li, a staff psychologist in Counseling and Psychological Services, attended the event and said, “It is an honor and gift of trust for students to share their most vulnerable experiences as part of who they are”. President of Duke’s NAMI organization, senior Gary Wang, feels these kind of events are important so that people who are struggling with their mental health don’t feel alone.

“We can’t just sweep suicide or mental health under the rug until tragedy happens,” Wang said. “That’s a cycle we see with so many things, and there’s so many things we can do to help promote a more inclusive and empathetic community culture…” Approximately 70 people were in attendance at this year’s event, double the number of people that attended last year. [DukeChronicle]

Inside Addiction, September 17–21: Rise in Marijuana Use, NBA in the Mental Health Game and More
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Jennifer Kopf

About Jennifer Kopf

Jennifer Kopf is a Florida-based writer who likes to balance creative writing with helpful and informative pieces. When she’s not writing for work at The Recovery Village, she’s writing for fun for her blog, visiting the mouse house, going to the beach, and being a Pom-mom to her two Pomeranians.

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