Author: Justin Mckibben
When discussing the very real devastation of the opioid crisis some people are still skeptical as to how big of a part prescription opioids play in the problem. While all patients should have access to comprehensive care for conditions relating to severe pain, ignoring the fact that prescription drug abuse is a crucial element of the epidemic is far too careless.
Many states had to face the issue of pill mill clinics and doctor shopping. Now one state, in particular, is now taking massive action in hopes of ending a very serious problem that has only grown over the years. Authorities in North Carolina took a close look at how prescription drugs wind up on the streets.
One of the key factors to narcotic medications hitting the illicit market was doctor shopping.
Doctor Shopping Stats
First, let us explain what doctor shopping is for those unfamiliar with the concept. Innovations in Clinical Neuroscience described the practice of doctor shopping, saying it:
“- entails the scheduling by patients of office visits with multiple clinicians for the same agenda, either for a continuing illness or to procure prescription drugs illicitly. As expected, the explicit definitions in the literature vary considerably, with a significant proportion focusing on a given illness episode.”
Essentially, doctor shopping is when patients visit multiple doctors with the intention of having a prescription given and then filled from each physician, giving them an abundance of medications.
Now in the case of North Carolina, this tactic grew a great deal of momentum as the opioid epidemic spiraled out of control in the past few years. According to WRAL, a Raleigh-based news outlet:
- In 2010, the State Bureau of Investigation says there were 88 doctor shopping cases.
- In 2016, that number rose to 184
- That is a 110% increase in doctor shopping incidents!
According to NBC Charlotte:
- Approximately three people North Carolina die every day in due to drug overdoses.
- Around half of those deaths are due to opioid painkillers.
So now, what moves is North Carolina making to try and fight back?
The Strengthen Opioid Misuse Prevent Act
After realizing just how big of an issue prescription drugs were playing into their current drug problem, officials in North Carolina have decided to put measures in place to try and prevent doctor shopping.
Starting January 1st with the new year, North Carolina enacted a new law, referred to as the Strengthen Opioid Misuse Prevent Act. So what does this new measure do?
- It allows doctors to only give a five day supply of opioids for pain from certain injuries, like broken bones.
- After a surgery, it allows doctors to prescribe a seven day supply.
- Refills can be given as needed, but the first refill will be limited.
North Carolina also gave some thought to protecting those in severe need of pain management resources. The new law does not apply to those with:
Local Authorities Unsure of the Future
The executive director of the North Carolina Board of Pharmacy, Jay Campbell, told reporters that while the action is being taken, it will probably never be completely eliminated. Campbell states,
“We’re certainly hoping that we can radically reduce the scope of drug diversion from pharmacies or any place else. But it is a problem that is never going to go away.”
However, Campbell believes there are certain indications of doctor shopping that pharmacists can keep an eye on as well, such as:
- The patient is visiting a pharmacy far outside their normal location.
- The patient brings in prescriptions from doctors the pharmacy is not familiar with.
Officials trying to stop doctor shopping in the area are asking pharmacists to be alert and ask questions when appropriate. Meanwhile, they are also working to develop other means of drug monitoring, including a system in which North Carolina doctors can register when they prescribe opioids to monitor records and catch patterns of doctor shopping.
There may now be some light at the end of the tunnel. Overdose death rates due to many legal prescription opioids are still rising, but they are rising far more slowly than that of fentanyl and other synthetic opioids according to a CDC report. While it is terrible that the death rates are still increasing, the fact that the rate of progression has slowed noticeably could suggest that many of the recent efforts aimed at curbing widespread over-prescribing practices could be starting to have a positive impact on the extent of the opioid crisis.
Medical Detox for Opioids
An important thing to remember is that for those suffering from substance use disorder or a physical dependency to opioids should always seek safe medical treatment in order to get off these powerful drugs. Opioid abuse presents an inherent risk to the body and the brain. Because of the often difficult and uncomfortable withdrawals, detoxing from opioids is best done in a safe medical environment.
Palm Healthcare Company’s detox facilities will offer a more comprehensive model for recovery from opioid addiction. Medical detox consists of both psychological treatment from professionals for both addiction and co-occurring mental health issues, as well as pharmacological treatment from medical specialists who can decide if there are optional medications to help ease the detox process.
What a medical detox for opioids should always do is provide a trained staff to monitor important vital signs like:
- Respiration levels
- Blood pressure
- Body temperature
- Heart rate
Abruptly discontinuing opioids can be painful or even damaging to the body. Make sure to seek the appropriate help. If you or someone you love is struggling, do not wait. Please call toll-free now. You are not alone.
The sports world was rattled yet again this week following the announcement from John Skipper, President of the world famous sports broadcasting network ESPN, of his resignation. Skipper cited his struggles with substance use and addiction as the reason for the statement, and it has brought to mind a few important factors that people often forget about addiction.
Skipper will also be resigning from the position of co-chairman of the Disney Media Networks.
Declaration from ESPN President
In his statement on Monday, Skipper states:
“Today I have resigned from my duties as President of ESPN. I have had a wonderful career at the Walt Disney Company and am grateful for the many opportunities and friendships. I owe a debt to many, but most profoundly Michael Lynton, George Bodenheimer and Bob Iger.
Skipper went on to say,
I have struggled for many years with a substance addiction. I have decided that the most important thing I can do right now is to take care of my problem,”
According to Skipper, he and the company came to a mutual agreement that it was appropriate for him to resign. He went on to state:
“I come to this public disclosure with embarrassment, trepidation and a feeling of having let others I care about down. As I deal with this issue and what it means to me and my family, I ask for appropriate privacy and a little understanding.”
Skipper has been the ESPN President since 2012, after joining the Disney-owned network back in 1997. According to Bob Iger, CEO of Walt Disney Company, former ESPN President George Bodenheimer will serve as Acting Chair of ESPN for 90 days until a more permanent replacement has been found.
Bob Iger made his own statement supporting Skipper’s decision and showing his respect for Skipper. Bodenheimer also issued a statement, saying:
“I have great respect for John’s leadership, and I applaud the courage he’s demonstrating by addressing his challenge head on. The most important thing right now for John and his family is that he conquers his addiction, and the entire ESPN family is behind him.”
As the transition takes place, many seem to be supporting the ESPN President in his choice to step down and face his addiction. Thus far there haven’t been many specifics as to which substances Skipper struggles with, which is consistent with his request for privacy.
Addiction for Professionals
This is far from the first time we have seen an issue with substance abuse come up in the world of professional sports. Even with coaches and owners, substance abuse is not as uncommon as some might think. Back in October the video of Miami Dolphins offensive line coach Christ Forester snorting lines of white powder surfaced online and created an overnight viral controversy. While the story with John Skipper may be a bit different, they both remind us that even high-profile professionals struggle with substance use and addiction.
Too many people still have this idea that addiction is about moral failures, or lack of willpower, or simply the lack of character and ambition. Yet, time and time again we see stories of incredibly talented, successful, ambitious and influential people struggling with addiction. And it isn’t just rock stars and celebrity actors; we also see it in CEOs and high-ranking business people. We see it in star athletes and in politicians. Every level of success experiences the impact of addiction.
So it is sad to see Skipper say he is embarrassed to have to make this announcement. Even though he is brave to do it, it reminds us also of the stigma even he still might believe.
So we have to support those who are struggling and stop letting the stigma of addiction keep people from getting better by seeking the help that may ultimately save their lives.
The business owner or high earner might not seek help because of how they think people will see them. They might be afraid that being vulnerable will have others question their business. How will this reflect on my work? How will it reflect on my company? Will it destroy my professional reputation to get the help I need?
These are questions no one should ever have to ask.
Functioning Addicts Suffer
Many professionals might even consider themselves to be “functioning addicts,” meaning that even though they are in the grips of addiction physically, mentally and emotionally, they are still able to go on working, going to school or being active at home.
Again, this is a strong example that goes against the stigma people often associate with addiction. Too many people assume that for someone to be truly struggling with addiction, they have to lose their house, job, family, etc. But in reality, people with addiction can be fully-functioning members of society. Addicts can be excellent at their jobs, active in their families or communities, and even take good care of themselves in all respects other than using drugs or alcohol.
However, functioning addicts still suffer greatly. Often this manifests with internal suffering, mental and emotional. They don’t always “hit rock bottom” in the sense of their career, finances or home life. Sometimes it is everything going on inside that causes them the most turmoil.
Sadly, functioning addicts are also less likely to seek the help they need. They will believe that as long as they are working, taking care of the bills and not getting into much trouble, they are still in control. They are more likely to have people around them who do not understand addiction telling them their issues are not that serious. There is no telling how long ESPN President John Skipper was living as a functioning addict. The same goes for many professionals who have been struggling and are afraid that if they admit they need help, they will lose it all.
Addiction does not discriminate. It does not care what your net worth is. It never checks your credit score and it never asks for a resume.
Times are Changing
Luckily, over the past few years, the perception of addiction has begun to experience a cultural shift. Those who struggle with substance use and addiction now have more options for getting help. There are a variety of personalized treatment programs that offer effective and supportive solutions while encouraging people across all demographics to stay informed and seek help.
These days we see more celebrities, athletes, and professionals reaching out, getting help and speaking up about the dangers of addiction. The ESPN President is one of many public figures this year who has spoken up about the problems they have faced and reminded us how important it is to find help.
It is great to be reminded that times are indeed changing and that the stigma of addiction doesn’t have as much power as it once did. While there are still plenty of people across the world who still rely on these old ideas about addiction, much more are learning to better understand addiction and helping support those who need help.
Hopefully, with professionals from such high platforms stepping up to talk about their struggles, we will continue to see more executives, officials and business owners get the help they need.
Addiction is not one-size-fits-all, and neither is recovery. Palm Partners Recovery Center believes in supporting each individual through a personalized recovery plan to help them find an effective path. We want to help people who suffer get back to what matters most. If you or someone you love is struggling, please call toll-free now. We want to help.
CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135
(This content is being used for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted in the content is a model)
Author: Justin Mckibben
Think about this for a minute… according to the National Institute of Drug Abuse:
- Over 23 million American adults have reported using illicit drugs within the past year
- More than 2/3 of individuals who report using or abusing drugs and alcohol are without work
When we talk about overcoming the drug problem in America, it means more than just reducing the amount of overdose and drug-related deaths. National recovery from the issue of widespread addiction is about more than getting drugs off the streets or cutting back on the financial strain on communities. Recovery is about rebuilding and reinventing; not only for the individual but for all those around them. Part of truly turning things around isn’t just getting addicts into recovery; it’s about getting recovering addicts back to work and back to helping build up their communities. So why is having jobs for recovering addicts good for the economy?
Recovery is Better for Business
For many, the idea of hiring someone who has admittedly struggled with drugs or alcohol is counterintuitive. Many employers still see substance use through the lenses of stigma, and so they fear the worst. Some employers may still think being addict makes someone a thief, or simply untrustworthy. Others may be worried the addict will bring unprofessional or even dangerous behavior with them to work. There are so many stereotypes attached to addiction, it is understandable why many are still hesitant. Some may even have had a bad experience themselves.
At the same time, professionals actually suffer more commonly from substance use disorder than most might expect.
Either way, many business owners will tell you that someone recovering from drug or alcohol abuse also has incredible potential to become one of the most valued members of your workforce. Many professionals believe that employing people in recovery has benefits that greatly outweigh the risks.
Some find when providing jobs for recovering addicts, these employees turn out to be some of the most grateful and hardworking. Because it is so hard to find work for some they are just happy to have an opportunity to restart their lives. Some business owners find that because many recovering addicts follow abstinence-based programs, they don’t have to worry about them going out partying all night and not showing up for work, or coming in late and hung over. The attitude of gratitude does an especially great job of boosting work-force morale, and others say that providing jobs for recovering addicts has given them some of the most loyal and committed members of their workforce.
Addiction Impacting the Economy
It is crucial for all of us to be aware of the economic impact of substance use disorder. Now, in the midst of an opioid crisis and overdose epidemic, it isn’t too hard to notice.
The abuse of alcohol and drugs in the workplace and the effects of chemical addiction on the workplace have emerged as the major health concern, eclipsing AIDS as the primary workplace concern of the decade.
According to information provided by the University of Pennsylvania Health System:
- It is estimated that drug and alcohol abuse, including smoking, costs the nation $562 billion per year or almost 10% of the gross domestic product.
- 3/4 of lost costs in industry are due to lost employment and reduced productivity
- 25% is due to medical costs and the cost of treatment for addiction
Experts believe that between 10% and 23% of all workers use drugs on the job. Data collected through a survey on the cocaine hotline reported that 75% of the callers to the hotline had used drugs on the job.
That’s not even getting into the tens of billions of dollars a pop spent on things connected to substance abuse such as:
Turning it Around
When we play with the numbers, we can also see how once recovering addicts get back to work, not only to they contribute to the workforce, but they put more money back into the economy.
For example- in 2006 estimates show Americans spent:
With just these four drugs alone, the billions of dollars being put back into the economy would transform the financial landscape of the nation. So if even half of these people were given effective treatment to get off drugs, and then received jobs for recovering addicts, the amount of money and productivity flowing back into the economy would make an enormous footprint, not to mention the billions saved on those same services like criminal justice.
Ways to Find Jobs for Recovering Addicts
While many find that early on there are jobs for recovering addicts that may be less stressful and more flexible, like working in coffee shops or at restaurants, there are also some great career opportunities out there. Some companies even have programs specifically to offer jobs for recovering addicts.
If you’re having difficulty finding work as a recovering addict, there are many programs out there to help you. No matter where you live, it is likely there are organizations that can help transition back into the workforce.
America in Recovery
Patent engineer, founder, and CEO Larry Keast started Venturetech Drilling Technologies in his garage in 1980 to design and manufacture new drilling technologies for the oil business. The Houston-based company is now a well-respected international business.
A former Venturetech general manager who was in recovery from addiction first gave Larry Keast the idea to specifically recruit recovering addicts. According to Keast, it has paid off.
Keast was so inspired by his experience working with recovering addicts that he founded the nonprofit America in Recovery. This venture has also been good for business since people want to support the company’s mission. Keast says,
“We have a number of customers and vendors that donate to our non-profit and wholeheartedly agree with our hiring policies,”
America in Recovery runs several job sites for recovering addicts, ex-offenders, and older workers. Employers post vacancies on the site expecting applications from people with past drug and alcohol problems, so hopefully, it can eliminate the anxiety recovering addicts may feel about being denied for work.
Some states provide recovery support services that offer careers advice to former addicts. The support available from these programs can range from job search assistance and placements to help with paying for transportation to interviews. Some even run training and education programs for recovering substance abusers.
Just recently the Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine introduced “Recovery Ohio” plan. In his outline, he includes an initiative to provide incentives and reduced risks to business owners willing to offer a job for recovering addicts.
Different states all over the country have unique programs designed to promote the re-entry of former drug users into the workplace. You can look online to find resources in your area.
Why it Matters
It is understandable why many people are still going to be hesitant about hiring former drug users. It doesn’t always work out when hiring people who have struggled with substances, especially when they relapse. However, if any business owner is honest with themselves, even the non-recovering addicts don’t always work out. It is realistic enough to come across an underperforming employee without worrying about issues concerning addiction.
So why does it matter?
Well, because we are fighting such a serious drug problem in America. At the moment, we are struggling to curb the rising rates of overdose and death across the country. If we want to be able to win this fight, we have to be willing to train and work hard for it. Also, we have to have compassion for those who just want another chance. This is partially why so many recovering addicts end up getting jobs in the treatment industry; it provides a compassionate and enthusiastic atmosphere for those in recovery to give back while learning skills that will help them create career goals and build strong work ethics.
But besides compassion and commitment, we have to understand that for those recovering from addiction, recovery means more than just quitting the alcohol or the drugs. Recovery means creating a life worth having. Quality of life and adding hope through the opportunity to grow and contribute to the world gives someone a reason to work harder in recovery.
With that commitment, compassion, hope and hard work, the nation could see a moment uplifting not just for the economy, but for the society as a whole.
Before getting a job, building a future in recovery begins with doing the work to better yourself. Someone recovering from drug or alcohol use deserves the opportunity to build a foundation that can transform their life and help them succeed. If you or someone you love is struggling, please call toll-free now.
CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135
(This content is being used for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted in the content is a model)
Author: Justin Mckibben
The vast majority of people struggling with addiction are actually employed. In fact, too many people actually never try to get help for their addiction because they think that having a job means they are not that far gone. However, being a ‘functioning addict’ does not make you any less addicted. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) actually noted some time ago that 76% of people with substance abuse problems are employed. Unfortunately, too many of them also avoid getting treatment because they fear doing so could actually hurt their careers.
What many may not realize is how things like the Americans with Disabilities Act helps addicts with treatment by protecting them from discrimination.
What Is the Americans with Disabilities Act?
The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, commonly referred to as the ADA, is a civil rights law prohibiting discrimination based on disability. It protects individuals with disabilities and guarantees equal opportunity for individuals with disabilities in:
- Public accommodations
- State and local government services
People with disabilities deserve the same rights and opportunities as everyone else, and the ADA is designed to ensure they have them.
One thing that makes the ADA so important is that it requires covered employers to provide reasonable accommodations to employees with disabilities, and imposes accessibility requirements on public accommodations.
How Does ADA Define Disability?
To be clear, employees undergoing treatment for drug or alcohol addiction have always been covered under the ADA. The ADA defines a disability as:
A physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, a history of having such an impairment, or being regarded as having such an impairment.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) was charged with interpreting the 1990 law, and ended up EEOC developing regulations limiting an individual’s impairment to one that “severely or significantly restricts” a major life activity.
Later on the ADAAA directed the EEOC to amend this regulation and replace “severely or significantly” with “substantially limits”.
The ADA added a few extra As around 18 years later.
In 2008, the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act (ADAAA) was signed into law and became effective on January 1, 2009. The implementation of the ADAAA made a number of significant changes to the definition of disability. The ADAAA also added to the ADA examples of “major life activities” including, but not limited to:
- Caring for oneself
- Performing manual tasks
They also included the operation of several specified major bodily functions. If we look at all of these criteria, it is not that surprising that alcoholism and drug addiction would qualify.
How Does Americans with Disabilities Act Help Addicts?
Addiction stigma is one of the hardest hurdles for most people to have to overcome when trying to find addiction treatment. A lot of people never even seek out the help because they are afraid their job or career would be jeopardized. But the ADA helps alcoholics and addicts by protecting them.
According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s (EEOC’s) Technical Assistance Manual: Title I of the ADA,
“A person who currently uses alcohol is not automatically denied protection simply because of the alcohol use. An alcoholic is a person with a disability under the ADA and may be entitled to consideration of accommodation, if s/he is qualified to perform the essential functions of a job. However, an employer may discipline, discharge or deny employment to an alcoholic whose use of alcohol adversely affects job performance or conduct to the extent that s/he is not ‘qualified.’ ”
While ADA regulations may permit allowances for alcoholism, illegal drug use is never protected. However, addicts who are recovering are protected under the ADA.
According to the EEOC’s manual:
“Persons addicted to drugs, but who are no longer using drugs illegally and are receiving treatment for drug addiction or who have been rehabilitated successfully, are protected by the ADA from discrimination on the basis of past drug addiction.”
So if you were to take a drug test and it shows that you are using an illicit substance you disqualify yourself from ADA protections.
How it Helps with Treatment
Fear of losing a job or sabotaging your financial future is a huge obstacle for most people who desperately need addiction treatment but are afraid to ask for help. Too many people think they will be black-listed or discriminated against for their struggles with drugs or alcohol. Breaking the stigma is essential to helping more people recover.
The ADA helps by treating alcoholics and addicts like people suffering from an illness or disability instead of punishing them. It protects your right to get help, as long as you don’t violate the policies of your profession. Therefore, it doesn’t necessarily protect people actively using drugs or alcohol. You can still face the consequences that come with it despite the ADA protections.
If you are attending a rehabilitation program, or you have successfully completed a program of rehabilitation, you are covered under the ADA. To find out more about these and other protections, look into the opportunities you are eligible for with the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA) offered through your company.
Discrimination is always wrong, and discrimination against people recovering from substance use disorder is no different. People who suffer from drug or alcohol addiction need to be supported, especially when it comes to maintaining the aspects of their life that help them build a future. Know your rights and be aware of the protections in place so that you don’t put it off until it is too late. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free now.
CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135