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Healing from Addiction is Very Likely, Knowing the Signs of Marijuana Abuse, and Opioid Overdoses Disproportionately High in Black Men
Here is a recap of some of the top industry-related news stories of the week:
While addiction is deadlier than ever, research shows most Americans heal
Recent research has shown that most people with substance use disorder, even after prolonged use, survive, recover, and lead full lives. The likelihood of this increases when individuals with SUD receive quality treatment.
The numbers for this recovery rate are very high, despite the stigma of addiction. Roughly 75% of people with addiction recover. They also tend to get happier year by year, reconnect with family, and enjoy measurable economic success.
A study conducted by Dr. John Kelly, who teaches addiction medicine at Harvard and heads the Recovery Research Institute at Massachusetts General, found that more than 20 million Americans are living now in recovery. This number includes those who were addicted to both alcohol and/or drugs, and on all points of the spectrum for addiction.
The question is, with this high of a success rate, why does addiction seem so hopeless and why is there so much stigma about it? Researchers also concluded that this is because it is such a challenging illness; It's hard to treat, it usually takes years for people to recover, and they often have multiple relapses. This makes the process of recovery painful and challenging.
One of the main takeaways from the study is that people with addiction need effective and appropriate support and harm-reduction programs that help them survive until they can heal.
Marijuana abuse and addiction: Know the signs
While many people use marijuana, most won’t become addicted to it; only about 1 in 10 people who use marijuana will become addicted, but if they start using the drug before age 18, that number increases to 1 in 6.2.
Research suggests that about 30% of people who use marijuana might have marijuana use disorder, the severity of which can vary.
There are a number of signs for marijuana abuse that you can look for:
Signs of Marijuana Abuse
Signs of marijuana abuse can include:
Using more of the drug to get desired effects
Craving the substance
Abandoning loved activities because of the drug use
Repeatedly trying to cut back or stop using, to no avail
Spending a lot of time searching for, using, or recovering from drug use
Taking risks while under the influence
Signs of Marijuana Addiction
Tolerance to the drug and using more of it
Withdrawal symptoms if less is used or if you stop using it
Withdrawal from social activities
Continued use despite awareness of all of the problems associated with the drug use
Marijuana Abuse in Teens
Teens naturally take risks, including the use and experimentation with illicit substances. As the teenage brain is still developing, marijuana abuse during these years can interfere with brain development. Side effects can include:
Trouble thinking and concentrating
Memory, learning, and attention problems
Increased risk of mental health issues
Increased risk of addiction
Opioid overdose rates disproportionately high for older Black men
While opioid-related deaths among older U.S. adults rose substantially over the past 2 decades, there are certain populations that have seen bigger spikes than others.
From 1999 to 2019, the rate of death from an opioid overdose in those aged 55 and over increased from 0.90 to 10.70 per 100,000. Since 2013, Black men in this age group experienced the largest increase in opioid deaths, reaching 40.03 deaths per 100,000 by 2019.
"Many of us think drug misuse is a problem of the young," said Maryann Mason, PhD, of Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago. "However, older adults are experiencing an explosion in fatal opioid overdoses."
Ripple effects of institutionalized racism, such as disparate access to substance use disorder treatment, racist drug policies, and bias in pain treatment, may also offer answers to why older Black men are disproportionately dying from opioid use, Mason's group suggested.
"Many are Baby Boomers who, in their youth, were using recreational drugs and, unlike in previous generations, they've continued using into their older age," Lori Ann Post, PhD, also of the Feinberg School of Medicine, said in a statement. "That sort of flies in the face of our stereotypes of the 'older adult.' We don't think of them as recreational drug users, but it's a growing problem."
"They're invisible," Post added. "We're talking grandmas and grandpas doing drugs, and to the point of overdosing. We don't think of them seriously. Not as potential victims of domestic abuse, physical or sexual assault or drug addiction. That needs to change."
Social isolation, exposure to prescription opioids for chronic conditions, and declining cognitive function also tend to worsen with age, the researchers pointed out. It can also become more difficult to metabolize opioids as you get older, putting older adults at higher risk of a fatal overdose.
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