Inside Addiction offers a weekly recap of the stories and topics related to substance misuse and mental health. Here are the timely news headlines for the week of July 20, 2018.

depression while using phone

LGBQ Teenagers at Increased Risk of Substance Misuse

The most recent National Youth Risk Behavior Survey asked more than 15,000 high school students about their use of potentially dangerous substances, including alcohol and drugs. The survey also asks each participant about their sexual orientation, and the answers revealed that lesbian, gay, bisexual, or questioning (LGBQ) teens are at a higher risk of substance misuse than their heterosexual peers.

The results showed a major gap between LGBQ and heterosexual teens in terms of drug and alcohol use. In many cases, the study showed that the risk was twice as large. [Psych Central]

FDA Looking Into Making Some Drugs More Accessible

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) proposed new guidelines for drugmakers who want some of their offerings to be available over the counter rather than just by prescription. The FDA is asking companies to find ways to ensure that these common prescription drugs can be taken without as much medical supervision, similar to how the allergy-treatment drug Claritin was switched from prescription-only to an over-the-counter option. [MSN]

Jail Time for Relapsing?

The highest court in the state of Massachusetts ruled that people with a substance use disorder can be issued jail time for relapsing. Judges in the state can detain a defendant who has violated their probation by resuming misuse of drugs. This decision comes despite the fact that medical experts acknowledge a substance use disorder as a lifelong, incurable disease and one that receives a negative stigma from the general public.

The decision revolved around the case of Julie Eldred, who in 2016 was sentenced to 10 days in jail after testing positive for fentanyl. This test result broke her probation after she was arrested for stealing jewelry to fund her drug addiction. [Boston Globe]

Focus on Opioid Epidemic Has Negative Effect for People in Need

Chronic pain affects 25 million Americans and is one of the leading causes for prescriptions to opioid medications such as hydrocodone. However, the country has given an increased amount of attention to the opioid epidemic in recent years. Prescription opioids have been linked to more than 200,000 deaths between 1999 and 2016.

Despite the harrowing statistics surrounding drug misuse in the United States, an increased focus and stricter regulations have led to more difficulty for people in need to attain the prescription drugs they have long relied on for pain relief. The Washington Post profiles Julie Ann Feinstein, who has taken oral morphine and oxycodone for seven years and now worries that she’ll one day not have a doctor who will prescribe her the drugs.

Her daughter, Amanda Feinstein, said that the opioid epidemic is “scooping up and confusing the lives of people who have a real need for this medication with those who are abusing, and that is tragic and that is wrong.” [Washington Post]

NFL Owner Buys Alcoholics Anonymous Manuscript

Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay reportedly purchased the original manuscript of the Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) book, which was published in 1939 and sold more than 30 million copies. Irsay bought the book at an auction for $2.4 million. The owner attended his first AA meeting 25 years ago, according to the Associated Press. The original manuscript was lost for decades and contains hand-written notes from its author, William Wilson, who did not originally receive credit for the book. [Washington Post]

‘Process Addictions’ On the Rise

Addictions to behaviors such as cybersex, pornography, video games, online shopping and social media is on the rise. Andy Leach, a counselor at an addiction rehab facility in Thailand, believes the increase in what is known as “process addictions” is due to the rise of the internet and mobile devices. Process addictions involve an activity that can become habitual but does not involve ingesting anything such as drugs or alcohol. Gambling is one of the most common examples of a process addiction.

“Traditionally, addiction has involved drugs or alcohol or cocaine or whatever,” Leach told the news outlet, “but these days we’re seeing many more process addictions.” [South China Morning Post]

Illinois Organizations Receive Help for Children’s Mental Health

A private organization in Illinois is taking a step forward in its attempt to improve the mental health of children in the state. Five organizations will split $11.5 million to help improve treatment for those who have anxiety, depression or other mental health struggles. Right now, only 20 percent of children who suffer from a mental illness receive treatment, a statistic that people in the state hope to improve with more funding. [Fox TV Affiliate in St. Louis]

PTSD For Prison Employees Equal to That of War Veterans

A new study conducted by a Washington State University College of Nursing researcher found that prison employees are highly susceptible to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The mental illness is common, especially for people who have experienced traumatic events, as more than 5 million American adults struggle with PTSD each year.

Working conditions in a prison can include daily exposure to violence, between inmates themselves and between inmates and prison employees. Additionally, prison employees such as guards and other positions regularly face threats of harm against their families. Among the findings were that nearly half of those who participated in the study said they witnessed a co-worker get injured by an inmate. Another finding was that more than half of the prison employees who took part in the study have witnessed an inmate die, and death is commonly linked to PTSD. [Washington State University]

Role-Playing Games Help With Mental Illnesses

A licensed therapist in Oregon is using role-playing tabletop games to help adolescents who suffer from anxiety and other mental illnesses. Richard Stubbs bases his exercises on the fantasy game Dungeons and Dragons and places his clients in situations to work through their internal struggles within the framework of a make-believe character and setting. While the World Health Organization is considering identifying gaming disorder as a mental illness, Stubbs’ practice involves more social interaction in group settings. He said his clients have made progress due to the therapy tactic, and he is planning to create a manual for other therapists to experiment with the strategy.

“This is just using existing theories to try and address it in new ways,” Stubbs told the Associated Press. “I’m always looking for ways to make things experientially based … who wants to just talk about skills when you can work on them?” [Statesman Journal]

California in Need of More Mental Health Professionals

The state of California has seen a significant decrease in the number of mental health professionals — therapists, clinical social workers, psychologists and more — as the topic of mental wellness receives more attention throughout the U.S.

The Health Resources and Services Administration reported that California was short 336 psychiatrists in 2013 and Gov. Jerry Brown’s press secretary, Brian Ferguson, told the Sacramento Bee that the shortage would increase to between 729 and nearly 1,850. While the number of psychiatrists has remained steady, the state’s population has continued to increase and has resulted in a greater demand for mental health services. [Sacramento Bee]

Millions of people in the U.S. struggle with mental illnesses and substance use disorders. If you are one of them, help is available. The Recovery Village provides scientifically backed treatment programs that can help uncover the roots of addiction and any co-occurring disorders. Call to speak with a representative about rehabilitation and therapy options.

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