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Opioid Summit to Include Social Media and Google Crack Down Efforts

Opioid Summit to Include Social Media and Google Crack Down Efforts

Tomorrow morning, June 27, the FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, M.D. will host a one-day Online Opioid Summit. The guest list to the summit includes:

  • Internet stakeholders
  • Government entities
  • Academic researchers
  • Advocacy groups

The aim of the event is to discuss ways to collaboratively take stronger action in combatting the opioid crisis by reducing the availability of illicit opioids online. And when it comes to the internet, there are no bigger names in America than Google, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. There will be presentations by the Food and Drug Administration and other organizations. A webcast will be available of the Opioid Summit for the general public.

So what will the FDA, Google and the biggest names in social media have to talk about?

Online Opioid Markets

Over the past decade, opioid-related deaths have continued to climb. According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and FDA:

  • In 2005 there were around 12,900 opioid-related deaths
  • In 2016 there were well over 42,000

More recent figures show that on average, 115 Americans die every day from opioid abuse. There are a few elements that have contributed to this devastating trend, including the over-prescription of painkillers like Oxycontin and an influx of heroin into the country.

So what does the place you get your sponge-bob square-pants memes have to do with opioid abuse in America?

When we’ve taken a closer look at the opioid crisis, we have discovered that illicit sales of either prescription medications, illegal narcotics or synthetics like fentanyl from overseas have found a home in online marketplaces. According to a study by Carnegie Mellon University, revenues from illicit drug sales online have grown substantially over the last several years.

  • 2012- online illicit drug sales were between $15 and $17 million
  • 2015- those illicit drug sales online shut up to between $150 and $180 million

The National Association of Boards of Pharmacy conducted research by searching online for prescription opioids across the three major search engines. They found that nearly 91% of the first search results led users to an illegal online drug distributor offering prescription opioids.

Needless to say, those numbers show there are still dark corners of the internet dealers exploit for drug trafficking. In fact, when Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testified before Congress in April, one of the big questions he was repeatedly confronted with was how Facebook intended to fight illegal drug sales on their site. This Opioid Summit is about a collaborative effort to do better about restricting online drug sales.

Opioid Summit

While dark websites like the notorious Silk Road have been a major component to digital drug dealing, social media sites, and search engines have found their formats being abuse for these activities as well. Between illegal online pharmacies, drug dealers and other criminals the use of the internet to distribute opioids with minimized risk has steadily increased.

The Opioid Summit will address the state of the opioid crisis and invite Internet stakeholders to present how their companies are working to fight the sale of opioids on their sites and protect their users. A statement by the FDA adds:

“One critical step to address this public health emergency is the adoption of a far more proactive approach by internet stakeholders to crack down on internet traffic in illicit drugs.”

Facebook has already announced new efforts to prevent the sales of opioids through their site. The approach by Zuckerberg and his team is actually unique. Facebook users who try to buy opioids or search for addiction treatment will be redirected toward information about finding free and confidential treatment referrals. Users will also be directed to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration National Helpline.

On the Opioid Summit agenda, there are a few important discussions, including:

  • Panel Discussion

This will include a brief opioid crisis overview from Donald Ashley, J.D., Director, Office of Compliance, FDA. There will also be a presentation on the DEA Internet Investigation. And different experts will present research regarding the ease of purchasing opioids online.

  • Roundtable

This discussion will include a number of presentations, including one from the Center for Safe Internet Pharmacies. Even the Vice President of MasterCard, Paul Paolucci, will be part of the roundtable.

It is important to note that only the FDA speaker presentations will be webcast to the public.

The takeaway here is that hopefully as the illicit drug market evolves, using search engines and social media to try and carve out a space for trafficking, the biggest names in internet will also be working to actively prevent these illegal industries from flourishing on their sites. Hopefully, the summit will introduce new measures to make it harder for dealers to take advantage of social networking tools. Social media is for bringing people together. Sadly, some still use it to sell the drugs that tear communities and families apart. Next, there should be more discussion about comprehensive addiction treatment.

It is important that those with the ability to reduce drug trafficking take action where they can. An even more crucial aspect of putting an end to the ongoing opioid crisis is safe and effective treatment resources. For over 20 years, Palm Partners Recovery Center has been actively helping people struggling with addiction to transform their lives and heal. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free now. We want to help.

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3 Kinds of Selfie Takers Out There: Which Kind Are You?

3 Kinds of Selfie Takers Out There: Which Kind Are You?

(This content is being used for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted in the content is a model)

Author: Justin Mckibben

What kind of selfie do you usually snap? Is it one with an obscene amount of editing to look glamorous? Is it one of you and the family at dinner or out in some exotic location on vacation? Or is it a pic of you and a volunteer crew at a charity event? When you hashtag and share it, what does that selfie say about you? What is the message you are trying to send?

Before we have talked about the dangers of obsessive selfie taking, and I have personally related to how the ‘selfie society’ of today could be risky for those struggling with addiction or mental health concerns, presenting issues with narcissism or relating to depression when correlated an obsession with social media. So what kind of selfies contribute to these issues?

Well, that much might be said about all of them, depending on who you ask. The one question that might hit closer to home is- what kind of selfie taker are you?

Recent a group of BYU communications master’s students, feeling themselves surrounded by the selfie-saturated culture that is social media, decided to ask the question: what is the method to the selfie madness? This has proven to not just be a millennial problem, because your uncle and aunt do it, just like your bosses and teachers. Grandma might not be all that good at it, but she takes plenty of selfies anyway.

So why do people of all ages, cultures, genders and religions take and share selfies?

Are We All Narcissists?

Some people would say that ‘this generation’ is so self-absorbed, but again; it isn’t just one group. The answer, at least one we hear so often, is simply narcissism. But are we all narcissists?

Naaaaaaah, can’t be.

Actually, in a study recently published in Visual Communication Quarterly, those same five BYU student researchers took a closer look. In their data they show that individuals’ motives often range far past self-obsession. Sometimes our selfies are actually taken with purpose, whether we notice or not.

Steven Holiday, who completed his master’s in 2015 and is now pursuing a Ph.D. at Texas Tech, is one of the co-authors. Of this latest topic Holiday states,

“It’s important to recognize that not everyone is a narcissist,”

So to be clear on the idea of true narcissism and the connection we often misguidedly make to selfies, we should look at the definition. To refresh your memory:

  • Narcissism is defined as the pursuit of gratification from vanity, or egotistic admiration of one’s own physical or mental attributes, that derive from arrogant pride.
  • Narcissistic personality disorder(NPD) – is a condition that is estimated to affect only 1% of the population.

After analyzing survey results and interviews, researchers say they can identify three categories of selfie-takers:

  1. Communicators

These are individuals who take selfies primarily to engage with others for some reason. They don’t just do it for their face on a cause, but to draw followers into a conversation. One of the survey’s co-authors and current student Maureen “Mo” Elinzano states,

“They’re all about two-way communication,”

So it isn’t about the spotlight on them, it’s about shining to give others a reason to shine.

An example of this is when the election season came around and everyone, including celebrities, took an “I voted” selfie to plaster on Instagram. These photos aren’t (always) meant to brag about the individual, they are about calling others to action. People talk a lot about opinions on social media, so some people take a selfie as an opportunity to inspire action.

  1. Autobiographers

This type of selfie taker uses the art of the selfie as a tool to record key events in their lives. This autobiography isn’t necessarily to show off to their followers, but to try and preserve significant memories for themselves and their loved ones.

This group of selfie takers does also want others to see their photos and enjoy them, but they aren’t necessarily doing it for the feedback. They are cataloging their lives for their own benefit, not for the engagement that the Communicators are.

For example, plenty of people will have entire albums on Facebook dedicated to specific trips or events. They don’t (always) organize these specifically for likes as much as they do for their trips down memory lane.

  1. Self-publicists

This infamous category is the one everyone typically assumes a selfie taker falls into, but it is actually the smallest of the three groups. These are the ones who are closely linked to more narcissistic characteristics.

The coauthor Harper Anderson states the self-publicists “are the people who love documenting their entire lives,”

Harper Anderson, who is also now pursuing a Ph.D. at Texas Tech, went on to say that in recording and sharing their entire lives, these selfie takers are hoping to present their narrative in a trendy and desirable light.

Think the Kardashians. Without any real sustenance, these selfies are just for the sake of “look at me everyone” without actually having a connection to a cause.

The Collage

Personally, I present the idea of a collage style world where sometimes we blur these lines a bit. Some people may read these three types and say “I do all of these” and I get that. Perhaps we are all likely to have varied traits, but perhaps we can admit that one of these styles is our dominant selfie taking self. In this event, we can more closely examine if we are impacting our mental health; maybe even that of others.

Holiday went on to describe that identifying and categorizing the three groups is valuable in part because-

“…it’s a different kind of photography than we’ve ever experienced before…I can go on Facebook or Instagram and see that people have a desire to participate in a conversation. It’s an opportunity for them to express themselves and get some kind of return on that expression.”

Another co-author Matt Lewis states

“…years from now, our society’s visual history is going to be largely comprised of selfies. To find out why people do it, that contributes a lot to the discussion on selfies and visual communication in general.”

Our world isn’t just one picture at a time. Every moment is a collage of events happens simultaneously. We exchange the currency of our stories through an ever-expanding network of social media sites and while at times we may seem obsessive or impulsive, at least we are trying to use our new tools to connect.

It may seem strange, but I do think that regardless of whether you’re climbing a mountain in Africa, raising awareness for people struggling somewhere, or simply showing off your new hair-cut, we all have something to offer.

We all have something worth sharing.

Take that selfie. Post it. Let the “double tap” fall where it may.

The selfie is like a socially accepted addiction, and while mental health has been a close conversation to it, we hope that we can continue to learn from our compulsions and be able to help others. Mental health issues and drug or alcohol abuse frequently co-exist. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call now.

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Higher Risk of Internet Addiction for the Highly Successful

Higher Risk of Internet Addiction for the Highly Successful

Author: Justin Mckibben

In the past decade the concept of Internet addiction has grown in acceptance as a legitimate clinical disorder. Compulsive Internet use can interfere with daily life, work, and relationships. When you feel more comfortable with your online, even when it has negative consequences in your life, then you may be facing a more intense addiction to the internet and a higher dependence on technology.

Internet addiction is becoming more recognized and effective treatment is becoming more of a reality as work is done to determine the causes and effects. Recently a study was published that indicates that for those with a higher professionally successful lifestyle may be more likely to develop an internet addiction.

Professional Hazard

This newest study about the elements of internet addiction seems to point to highly successful professionals as the individuals who may run the greatest risk of becoming addicted to the Internet. High-pressure jobs can require hundreds of email communications in a day, and many spend hours after the end of the work day attempting to stay on top of the constant flow of information.

With the convenience of the gadgets we have all familiarized ourselves with, it becomes nearly impossible to avoid. With constant contact through an iPhone, iPad or laptop, the temptation to continue browsing online can be hard to resist, deepening their digital dependence even for the moments they are connected to their work. Even socially they have adapted, much like a lot of others, to rely on their smartphone or other digital platforms to stay entertained and stay connected.

With the business schedule flowing into their every waking moment, and their mingling and socializing most done on a screen, the internet has effectively made these kinds of professionals 24-hour-a-day workers. Then comes the habit of waking up even in the middle of the night and immediately checking emails, Facebook, Instagram, and just about any other form of digital dialog.

In one publication a former web addict shared her five top tips to “maintain a healthy online life.” These include:

  • Scheduling your Internet time
  • Accepting that you can’t answer every email
  • Disabling unnecessary notifications
  • Getting out for a walk
  • Remembering the Internet is not as important as we think

The study has also revealed that people who are successful in their careers that are more likely to be engaging in compulsive internet use are also at an increased risk of other detrimental behaviors such as:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Isolation

As one might guess, these results came as a shock to the researchers involved in the study. Most would have assumed it would be young people and the unemployed who were most at risk from internet addiction. I know when Myspace was the big social media outlet I had spent a lot of time customizing my profile, picking out the theme music, and looking back there were times it probably got a little out of hand (for anyone who remembers the hacks to customize your mailbox and friend-request control panel).

But personally my social media and internet use only started to spiral out of control when it became a part of my work. I specifically work in social media, and spend all day working with blogs, webpages, and keeping up with trends.

Generation D seems to have a few more executives and 9-5ers than most people would assume. Teens may be the ones who we see the most on their phones, but in reality the addictive and compulsive behavior is typically developed in the working class.

Staying plugged into the news, and trying to stay ahead of hot topics with new insight took my addiction to another level, and my closest friends will probably tell you I haven’t changed a bit. NOT TRUE! I only post a few selfies a week, and I only share the important (or ridiculously funny) meme’s to raise awareness for important issues (like Vine and Snapchat).

While internet addiction may not be as noticeable in a society that thrives on technology and social media, it is a prominent disorder that is growing as the social media does. It is one of many addictions that can be more debilitating than people give it credit until the damage has been done. But as with any addiction, we always want to help. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135

11 Signs You Struggle with FOMO

11 Signs You Struggle with FOMO

Author: Justin Mckibben

In this new world of constantly being connected and ‘followed’ through a deepening dependence on social media and smartphones, the kind of social anxiety that comes from a fear of missing out on something has become more and more prominent.

People everywhere are sharing and texting, ‘liking’ and tweeting instead of actually living. I know right, I’m even blogging! Weird, but I digress.

The fear of missing out, or #FOMO as defined in the urban dictionary, is a compulsive concern that one might miss an opportunity for social interaction, novel experience, profitable investment or other satisfying events. Here are 11 signs you struggle with FOMO.

1. You can’t put down your smartphone

One common indication of FOMO is the inability to set down your phone and enjoy the experience of just about anything for yourself.

2. Constantly checking all social media

Along with the constant texting and calling people despite your surroundings, the concept of continuously refreshing a page or checking apps on social media is a good clue you have fear of missing out. Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are all amazing, but jumping from one to the other, and then on to Tumblr and Snapchat and the other 10 is not always healthy, especially if by the time you check them all, you probably even start over again in a vicious cycle!

3. Taking pictures of everything you do

If you cannot do anything without taking a picture of it, and then having the craving to share it and prove to the world you were there (and that the new taco place has the BEST salsa) than you have definitely got to rethink why you do it. Being afraid to not be seen doing things online is a part of #FOMO.

4. Need to be caught up on all shows, music, gossip

Fear of missing out doesn’t just mean social events, it also means you feel urged to watch every episode of anything that’s apparently trending, or you might even listen to all the songs of a popular band you really don’t care about to make sure you aren’t missing out on their terrible music there either… next thing you know it’s your ringtone!

5. Collecting ‘Back Burner’ relationships

Having a ‘Back Burner’ relationship basically means you are always keeping someone waiting through leading them on, just in case! Because you don’t want to miss out on a relationship down the road if, you need it. It’s inconvenient now because, you know, you’re in love. But later, hmmmm not so much?

6. Having too much on your social schedule

When you have an appointment for some social activity every waking moment outside of the necessities like work and school, or even if you skip work or school, you might need to clear some time to realize you have a fear of missing out. Just take a rain-check on that thing, with the guy, at the place.

7. Feeling obligated to attend every social event… invited or not

When you almost believe it is your civic duty, or your personal mission to attend every party, every gathering, or every social event you are probably experiencing #FOMO, especially if you are not even invited.

8. Going out even when sick

Invited or not, when you are sick, or even if it’s just a healthier and safer choice for you to just avoid going out and you go anyway you are probably doing so instinctually despite what your friends or family may warn you against it, our of a fear of missing out. And an all-night party has a way of making sick people sicker.

9. Going to places or events you don’t like just to say you were there

A lot like the last one, if you are attending something you do not want to be attending, like a movie you don’t want to see or a disco even though you hate dancing, but you go just to say you were there then there is a chance that you have a real fear of missing out on something, even something you’re not too thrilled about in the first place.

10. Fear of not being around when the best things happen

It can be a serious bummer when you hear an awesome story of some activity your friends did that you missed, but to be overly anxious and afraid that every time people do things without you that you are missing the BEST of all experiences, it’s like a form of paranoia that’s common with FOMO. Yes, it was amazing. Yes, you could have been there. No, you will probably not die alone (maybe).

11. Not having plans on Friday is a fate worse than death

Once in a while it is not a crime to take a Friday night to yourself to relax at home, maybe read alone, or take it slow. But some people feel like every Friday night (or every night) should be like your birthday party, on New Year’s Eve… in Vegas! But seriously not doing anything on a Friday does not mean the end of the world, but struggling with #FOMO will make you feel like it is.

So at the end of the day, letting go of the fact that you cannot be present at every amazing thing, and you don’t have to be- or pretend to be through social media- in order to be happy can be a liberating thing. Our technology can be awesome because it expands our horizons, but when we become far too entranced in our public social status and less interested in actually living our lives, FOMO becomes an issue we cannot afford to acknowledge.

With social anxiety and the need to feel part of the in-crowd or the high life is something that draws us into some of our most self-destructive patterns, and #FOMO thrives off of compulsive and addictive behaviors, which often do far more damage than we see. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135. We want to help. You are not alone.  

Burnout in the Digital Age

Burnout in the Digital Age

By Cheryl Steinberg

Everything is new these days. In this digital age – an era filled with inventions that have fundamentally altered the way we live – the long-term effects are yet to be fully understood.

However, one thing is clear, people are getting burned out. Especially on social media. Not everyone might be willing to admit it but, people are addicted to Facebook, Instagram, and what-not. Next time you’re with your group of friends or out to dinner, take a minute to look around. How many people are staring at their phones? Even though they are in the company of living, breathing individuals, they seem to much-prefer the comfort of their phone rather than the comfort of actual, human interaction.

With the advent of social media, nearly everyone in possession of a smart phone and is therefore tied to some sort of information cycle, often comprised of social media feeds as well as a heavy dose of work in the form of e-mails that are constantly bombarding you. Add to this the non-stop highlight reel that so often makes up most of what we see of other people’s lives, leading to FOMO (fear of missing out) and feelings of not measuring up from the pain of the inconsistency between real life and Instagram, and the never-ending ‘keeping up with the Jones’s’ by constantly vying for the most “likes.”

Patty Forbes Pedzwater, a practicing psychotherapist in Manhattan, says that, in recent years, she has seen the increase in younger patients needing her services, so much so that she has had to refocus her practice to deal specifically with clients between the ages of 22 and 35.

“I was starting to see a lot of young women around 32-33 that had already crossed into that burnout state,” she says, noting that one of the reasons she went younger was that she was hoping to head these women off before it got too bad. Instead, she’s now hearing patients complain of burnout symptoms as early as their freshman year in college. “That’s new.”

Burnout in the Digital Age

With social media always at their fingertips, work life suffers but so does home life. The problem of burnout becomes about needing permission to go home or otherwise unwind, says Pedzwater. “I hear it all the time,” she notes, somewhat reassuringly. “It’s simply a fantasy of something we perceive to have a beginning, middle, and an end. There’s a timer on it. You work someplace, the whistle blows, and you’re out.”

I know that for me, as well as friends who have echoed the same sentiment, I used to look forward to the days when I would be done with school and enter the workforce because my understanding was that then, at least, there would be a set schedule; a time when I knew I’d be headed home and therefore a definitive end to my doing work, or else having my attention tied up.

However, with the digital age and the advent of social media, we’re always “on” and going, going, going. There really is no end, per se, except for when we decide to go to bed. And even then, many of us have our phone within arm’s reach and that’s enough to inhibit good, restorative sleep. It seems we always have “one eye open” – figuratively speaking – when it comes to social media, smart phones, and other digital era phenomena.

Addiction does not only refer to substance abuse; it also can define behavioral issues such as the obsession with certain activities, such as internet addiction, compulsive gambling, compulsive shopping, and sex addiction. If you or someone you love is struggling with a drug addiction or another type of addiction – where it is having a negative impact on their lives, help is available. Please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135 to speak directly with an Addiction Specialist. We are available 24/7.

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