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.
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:
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.
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.
CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135
Author: Justin Mckibben
Introducing… Cersei Lannister of the House of Lannister, Light of the West, Widow of Robert Baratheon, Queen of the Andals and the First Men, ruler of the Seven Kingdoms, Protector of the Realm and Lady Paramount of the Westerlands!
Or, as she was known before her stunning and captivating performance on HBO hit series Game of Thrones, the lovely and talented Lena Headey! This amazing actress recently reached out to her fans on Twitter to speak on something very personal; her experience with anxiety.
With GOT fever in full swing now that we are a mere 3 months away from the highly anticipated 7th season (which I cannot possibly be more excited for), it is nice to see a different side of one cast members true story.
Long Live the Queen
Lena Headey’s portrayal of Cersei also earned the No. 1 spot on a Rolling Stone Magazine ranking of the “30 Best Game of Thrones Villains”, being described as the:
“Most dangerous human being in Westeros” as well as “one of the most complex and fascinating characters on television.”
Truly, Cersei is that villain you love to hate until you hate to love her. Headey received a showering of award nominations for the character of the Queen of the Seven Kingdoms and a few wins for Best Actress.
A recent report stated that in 2017, Headey became one of the highest paid actors on television, and is suspected to earn $1.1 million per episode of the 7th season of Game of Thrones.
Before dominating the screen with the chillingly cunning character of Cersei Lannister, Lena Headey has starred in other awesome roles, including the Spartan epic 300. With her powerful and unflinching portrayals of these kick-ass characters, Headey is still a woman who faces some real difficulties in the real world. Beyond the roles in front of the cameras, she took on another powerful role as a voice to fans who asked for her perspective.
Speaking to the Fans
While the character may have once walked naked through the streets of Kings Landing to the Red Keep with the infamous “shame” bell lady behind her (yes… she had a body double… and yes I cried a little), Headey did not shy away when asked a personal question by a fan that got quite a few people talking. A follower on Twitter asked Headey,
“Do you ever get insecure Lena?”
The response was a few tweets which stated:
“I overthink for sure. I am familiar with depression.” She then continued by saying, “I get HUGE anxiety (always fun [frowny face]) Insecure, not really.”
Another tweet from Lena Headey on the subject came after stating:
“Anxiety is a beast. You have to talk to beasts. Release them back into the wild. Easier said than done I know but still. Good to Practice.”
But her majesty the awesome wasn’t quite done. She went on to tweet:
“It’s been lost to greed and aspiration, no wonder we have anxiety, no wonder we overthink ..we’re slammed with bullshit. …”
“Tricked into thinking. You don’t have enough. You’re not enough. Pretty enough. Thin enough. Rich enough. Capable enough. Successful enough.”
“Well here’s the truth. You are enough… in fact you’re who you’re meant to be which is BEAUTIFUL… Don’t be afraid to let someone really see you…Magic happens when you are vulnerable and truthful and human.”
“Anxiety. Depression. It’s real and it’s chemical. It’s also spiritual. .. stay with me everyone (and before you ask, yes I’m ok)”
Looking through these tweets, the fans showed up with a flood of support for her statements. Many shared personal experiences and thoughts on her comments, while others thanked her for putting words to the way so many of them felt.
Advocate for Anxiety
This is not the first time Headey has spoken about such personal adversity and shown support for those struggling with mental health. A while back she opened up during an interview with More magazine about her bouts with depression and anxiety. In this piece she shared an experience of “massive grief” after her marriage had been dismantled. In her statements she shows her willingness to accept anxiety as part of life, but that getting older and becoming a mother taught her to “become less serious about it all”.
It is always refreshing to hear people who seem to be living the dream of spot-lights, red carpets and award shows step off that stage and show the people who adore their characters and their performances that they too are still people with a lot of the same problems. That beast of anxiety is much like any other mental health disorder in that it doesn’t care who you are or how glamorous things appear. A beast is a beast.
Some of the most powerful moments of the Game of Thrones series are scenes stolen by the Lady of Casterly Rock, and we are lucky to have them. This tweet and the conversation are a great example of how important it is to raise awareness and talk about things like anxiety and depression, to break the stigmas and provide support.
Even a queen needs a little help sometimes.
Spreading hope and stories of success even through these troubling experiences is a vital way to show others there is life beyond our obstacles. Mental health issues like depression and anxiety often go hand in hand with self medicating and even substance use disorder. Getting the right kind of help and coping skills can make all the difference. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free now. We want to help.
CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135
Author: Justin Mckibben
In case you were still skeptical, social media has become a significant element of our society… definitely. We have evolved into a culture that circulates information and cultivates emotional and ethical responses based on the shares, likes and comments associated with our tweets, posts and pics. Social media has been credited with being both helpful and detrimental to depression depending on the context, and now there is another aspect of mental health that some suspect is being threatened by our threads.
A new study is suggesting that observing violent news events via social media can actually cause people to experience symptoms similar to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
How much of an impact can our videos have, and could this be the beginning of a whole new brand of stress and trauma diagnosis?
Sharing Our Stress
Dr. Pam Ramsden from the Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Bradford presented this concept back on Thursday May 7th 2015 at the Annual Conference of the British Psychology Society being held in Liverpool. Here Dr. Ramsden explained:
“The negative effects of exposure to other people’s suffering have long been recognized in roles such as professional healthcare workers. Various studies have documented the negative psychological reactions following indirect exposure to traumatized people called vicarious traumatization.”
This refers to incidences where individuals in several fields including healthcare professionals experienced trauma through others and ultimately were affected by that shared experience. Someone reliving their trauma and expressing it to another person can take a toll on that person. Hearing the grotesque and gruesome details can create a kind of second-hand shock and stress. Ramsden went on to say,
“Social media has enabled violent stories and graphic images to be watched by the public in unedited horrific detail. Watching these events and feeling the anguish of those directly experiencing them may impact on our daily lives. In this study we wanted to see if people would experience longer lasting effects such as stress and anxiety, and in some cases post-traumatic stress disorders from viewing these images.”
So when we see something brutal or violent happen online through videos, images and dialog we can still feel that impact, even though some have suggested we become disconnected from the images and words on the screen and dehumanize the victims, it appears this is not always the case.
Assessing the Trauma
189 participants around the age of 37 years old with an almost even equal number of men and women completed a few tests for trauma including:
- Clinical assessments for PTSD
- A personality questionnaire
- A vicarious trauma assessment
- A questionnaire concerning different violent news events on social media or the internet
The violent events used for this test included the 9/11 Twin Tower attacks, school shootings and suicide bombings. The details of the examination indicated:
- 22% of participants were significantly affected by the media events
- 1/4 of those who viewed the intense internet images scored high on clinical measures of PTSD
The fact that these individuals scored high on clinical measures of PTSD was a very concerning development considering that they experienced this level of stress despite:
- They did not have previous trauma
- They were not present at the traumatic events
- They had only watched them via social media
There was also an increased risk for those with outgoing, extroverted personalities. So those social butterflies that are more likely to share and comment were also those that could be more sensitive to the effects of being exposed to violent and graphic material on social media.
So by exposing ourselves to such extreme and foul content we are increasing the risks of PTSD, and possibly even creating a whole new brand of it. Extensive research into the trend of internet addiction and some kind of dependence on social media has already begun, as debates continue on the influence social media makes on depression.
So is it safe to assume that with all the sway social media has over us that we should be careful of all the distasteful and uncensored stories and depictions we take in?
Are we as a society overloading ourselves online with images and audio that intoxicate our anxiety and compound with our already rattled reasoning to create new levels of trauma?
What new methods of diagnosis and treatment could come from PTSD inspired by social media?
For now we should remember that the impressions these sites have are real for some people. Some have been oppressed by these unstable emotional ties to their online lives, while others have been liberated by the sense of connection. Whatever way you believe, your social media can change your mind if you let it.
An issue like PTSD is nothing to take likely, and mental health has a serious impact on the quality of life and possibility of recovery for anyone struggling with substance abuse issues. If you or someone you love is struggling, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135
Author: Justin Mckibben
#Recovery #StayInformed #DelrayBeachChat… how many hash-tags (#) can we use to change the stigma?
Sunny Southern Florida is such an incredible area for people in recovery, even being often referred to frequently as the recovery capitol of the country with a vast network of treatment facilities in the area, and a thriving culture of young and active clean and sober residents. But there is still a population of the general public in these neighborhoods that don’t understand the depths of addiction, or how recovering addicts and alcoholics take the steps toward becoming new and amazing versions of themselves.
There has even at times been concern from citizens as to if this recovery culture isn’t hazardous to the community, but now there is a social media campaign that city officials in Delray Beach have designed to educate the public about the reality of addiction and what it really means to recover.
Drugs and addiction are not very easy topics of conversation, no matter what part of town in what state you live in. When most people hear those words they tend to think of criminals, degenerates, vagrancy and violence. However, that is not the reality. While it may be true that drug use is against the law, it doesn’t mean that every addict is a criminal.
This past Wednesday The Delray Beach Drug Task Force, along with the Delray Beach Police Department and the Greater Delray Beach Chamber of Commerce, took action to try and inform the public about the positive impacts of the recovery community and the facts of addiction by hosting a Twitter chat under the hashtag #DelrayBeachChat with the purpose of debunking myths and reducing the stigma. When looking at this, it is actually awesome to see city officials taking a stand to support individuals who have been low long enough, to keep those who don’t understand from kicking them while their down. Executive Director of The Delray Beach Drug Task Force Suzanne Spencer explained,
“I actually think one of the mistaken fears that people have is we seem to lump addiction and recovery into the same category and they’re clearly different,”
Suzanne Spencer speaks up about how addiction is not a choice, and supports the understanding of addiction as a disease. She went on to say,
“You don’t wake up one morning and say hey it’s great day in sunny South Florida I think I’ll become an addict today. People don’t have a choice in whether they become an addict, but they do have a choice on whether or not they can recover,”
Spencer attested that there are 20 million American people living in long term recovery, and “that’s definitely signs of success.” Sadly, people are more used to seeing the negatives of addiction being projected through the media and exacerbated in news headlines and celebrity scandals.
Not only does the Delray Beach Drug Task Force support their recovery community, but the whole of the Delray Beach Police Department actually cooperated with the chat. Delray Beach Police Chief Jeff Goldman said he understands the community’s concern, but still supports the recovery industry in the area stating:
“It’s an individual that has an addictive personality that might have been here trying to get treatment, but fell off the wagon as we say. We really didn’t have many programs in place. We are starting to work on some new programs, some cutting edge programs in my opinion, working with The Delray Beach Drug Task Force community. So we’re trying to find a way to solve that.”
Now in regards to the treatment industry itself, Chief Goldman also recognizes there’s some work to be done in Delray Beach. Given the area consists of such a large number of rehabs and sober living homes, there are always going to be a few shady businesses who also reinforce the stigma and give the industry a bad name in the eyes of the public. Goldman stated:
“just like any other profession ninety-nine percent of the people in that business are doing a great job. There is that one percent that is the unscrupulous people. That’s the ones we’re trying to go after.”
The work that has to go into holding these businesses accountable and resolving on how to regulate the industry is the same work that has to go into dissolving the stigma and teaching the community about addiction and recovery, and it all starts with active open discussion. #DelrayBeachChat is one way that these officials utilized the medium of social media to try and make that more possible and make the information more accessible to those who needed it most.
Delray Beach is an amazing place to get sober. For many people it can make a huge difference just because of the size and diversity of the recovery community, and those who actively recover can also help make a positive impact on local businesses and policies. Not everyone will get to experience the recovery life in Delray Beach, Florida because they don’t know it’s there, but for those who do it’s all about improve our own lives and trying to make a positive contribution. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, Palm Partners is an integral piece of the Delray Beach recovery community. Please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135 and get the help that creates change for life.
Author: Justin Mckibben
This is the era of social media. Good or bad it is here to stay it seems, and while sometimes it can be abused, social media has opened new avenues for marketing, research, gathering and sharing information, and raising awareness. The constant connectivity of WiFi signals and the World Wide Web has given us the ability to reach out to people worlds away, giving each other images, experience and hope.
While I have admittedly written before talking about the dangers of social media and excessive and obsessive usage, I have also written about the positive side and the tools that it offers up to changing our understanding of mental health and stigma. Now one of the most popular social media tools of its time is being used to spread experience, strength and hope in a way that may make a world of difference for addiction.
The CDC Campaign
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is trying to get that conversation going, and so they have taken advantage of the miracle of social media with Twitter, hashtag (#) in hand to raise awareness about the dangers of abusing prescription drugs. In an attempt to shed new light on the issue the CDC hopes to recognize prescription opioid abusers who have been working to change their lives for the better. This week the new campaign was launched with the initiative asking for the stories of those who have been affected by prescription painkiller addiction.
“When the Prescription Becomes the Problem” is that name of the new CDC campaign that was announced at the fourth annual National RX Drug Abuse Summit. The CDC hopes to establish a safe sanctuary so those who are or have been addicted to prescription painkillers by giving them an opportunity to step forward and tell their story. The idea is one not unfamiliar to those who are used to the rooms of recovery, and the thought of sharing experience and personal stories in regards to prescription painkiller addiction will get people talking about it, and help more people to relate and understand. The associate director for Communication at the CDC’s Injury Center, Erin Connelly, stated:
“Prescription drug overdose devastates individuals, families and communities. We’d like to get everyone talking and thinking about the risks involved with opioid painkillers.”
As with a lot of issues that come with a degree of stigma, raising awareness in the public eye is a vital part of creating change and inspiring innovation in treatment.
Approaching the Issues
Addiction is one of those conditions that’s origins are often debated, and there are various differing viewpoints on what motivates prescription painkiller addiction in particular, and how to prevent it. Some are firm in the belief that addictive behavior can be in some ways genetic, many also believe it is a perfect storm of both nature and nurture, but regardless the CDC believes it all starts in the doctor’s office.
According to the CDC, there were 16,235 deaths involving prescription opioids in 2013, an increase of 1% from 2012. With the escalating concerns with the overdose epidemic, especially in relation to opioid drugs, Connelly went on to explain this focus on the doctors and health care professionals:
“[The] CDC’s approach to prescription drug overdose remains on primary prevention of opioid addiction and overdose—that is, addressing the problematic opioid prescribing that created and continues to fuel the epidemic… States drive prevention—they regulate the health professions, run prescription drug monitoring programs, administer large public insurance programs like Medicaid, and have the public health surveillance capacity to track the behavior of the epidemic.”
The Fiscal Year 2015 Omnibus appropriations bill accumulated $20 million for the CDC to cultivate its Prescription Drug Overdose Prevention for States program, and that money will allow 17 states to improve their prescription drug monitoring programs as well as implement new, evidence-based prevention programs. Keeping doctor shopping and pill mills from supplying the prescription drug problem will make a huge difference.
The usage of a hashtag (#) is an easy way to keep sources compiled and connected, and for a campaign designed to share as much experience, inspiration and solutions as possible it is an easily way to gain traction as a simple networking and marketing tool. If you want to get involved in the CDC’s “When the Prescription Becomes the Problem” campaign, or simply just to show your support, all you have to do is tweet a six-word message with the hashtag #RxProblem. Also through that hashtag you are given access to other information and stories.
Working together with the treatment industry and individuals from the recovery community the CDC is making the best of social media marketing in an attempt to get more of that message out there. The campaign is to run until May 15th, 2015.
We learn through early sobriety that a huge part of our recovery and the recovery of others is helping others. We should all do our part to helping the addict and alcoholic who still suffers from know there is a way out, and there are trained professionals ready and willing to welcome you to a new way of life. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135