LET’S TALK ABOUT…LATEST NEWS AND TRENDS IN SUBSTANCE ABUSE!!! As a member of the National Association for Addiction Professionals (NAADAC) I receive a monthly newsletter keeping me updated with the latest news about addiction and recovery. It is one of the resources I consult when writing my column. Once per month I am going to update all of you with the highlights.

Regarding the OPIOID EPIDEMIC:

At a recent “Turn the Tide RX” tour, US Surgeon General, Dr. Vivek Murthy, stressed that the opioid epidemic crosses all socioeconomic, religious, gender, race, and age. He identified “3 forces” that got us to this epidemic:

First, prescribing practices: “The challenge for many clinicians has been that they lack the training to treat pain effectively and the support to identify and treat addiction. In July, Murthy will be sending a letter to approximately 1.2 million opioid prescribers urging them to change their own habits;” he wants clinicians—no matter their specialty, “to be trained in treating addiction” the same way they “are taught to diagnose and treat issues such as diabetes and high blood pressure.”

“We need to recast opioid addiction as and illness.”

Secondly, difficulty getting immediate treatment: “There is a dearth of treatment facilities available, so even people who want help have a difficult time accessing it. There are 2.2 million people who have prescription opioid addiction, but treatment options are accessible to only half…What we really need to do is ensure people living with addiction they have access to treatment.”

Finally, the general perception is that people with an addiction are bad people. “We need to take away the stigma around addiction and mental health (being) a character flaw or moral defect…so people seek treatment.”

Murthy also encouraged providers to only use opioids as a “last resort” and to consider using more alternatives. Examples of “alternatives”: acupuncture, message, laughing gas, trigger-point injections, music therapy, ultrasound, energy healing, and meditation.



An article in the “Psychiatric Times” by Mark Ilgen and Felicia Kleinberg reported “Individuals with a substance abuse disorder are almost six times as likely to report a lifetime suicide attempt than those without a substance abuse disorder….Among those with an alcohol use disorder, greater severity of recent drinking is associated with the greater likelihood of suicide attempt and suicide mortality.”

Now a 2016 research study by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, indicates “alcohol dependent individuals show greater risk of suicide in evening hours. The study found that there is a circadian pattern of peak and nadir in the incidence of suicides in alcohol dependent individuals.

“Subjects who consumed heavy amounts of alcohol had a peak incidence of suicide at 9 PM, and a low around 5 PM. In contrast the peak incidence was around 12 PM for those individuals who did not drink, or drank moderately, and a low at 4 AM.


The world of addiction and how it is being treated has finally started merging into the 21st century of medicine and behavioral health. As a professional substance abuse counselor I believe it is part of my ethics to keep the public informed of up-to-date information. I am grateful that NAADAC provides me with the information to disseminate to my readers.

Glad we talked about this. Of course, it is just my opinion.


Springfield Times

“Ask MAx” is published weekly in the Springfield Times, Springfield, OR. You can subscribe to the Springfield Times at


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