Tag Archives: Opioids

First Responders Are In U.S. Classrooms Helping The Silent Victims Of Drug Abuse

First Responders Are in U.S. Classrooms, Helping the Silent Victims of Drug Abuse

The opioid crisis is causing far more damage beyond overdose deaths and increasing addiction rates. Drug addiction has had a profound effect on American families in every state. Every community has unique concerns when it comes to the opioid crisis, and American teachers are quickly becoming one of the most important forces of positive support in the country.

How American Teachers Are Stepping Up To Face The Effects Of The Opioid Crisis

The effects of drug addiction on a family may go unnoticed by outsiders. It’s difficult to tell the difference between a child suffering from the effects of addiction at home and the typical growing pains of the school-age years. However, American teachers are witnessing the effects of addiction on American children firsthand. More students are living in poverty and broken families than ever before, largely due to the ongoing opioid crisis. This makes teachers an important source of support for many American youths.

Families Fractured By Drug Abuse

Addiction takes a toll on a family. A parent with a substance abuse disorder will eventually deteriorate without intervention, and his or her children are likely to suffer the most when this happens. There are countless ways that drug abuse can harm a family, but children bear the brunt of this damage and often carry the scars for the rest of their lives. Addiction can also separate a child from his or her parents during the time parents are needed most; during the early years and school-age years.

Children In Foster Care And Poverty

Many areas across the country have been reporting higher entrance rates into the foster care system since the opioid epidemic started picking up steam. When a parent neglects financial responsibilities or endangers a child, the state intervenes and will typically place the child with a foster family or relative if possible. Ultimately, the state has a legal duty to rule in favor of the best interests of any children involved in any case.

Many parents have lost homes, custody, and even visitation rights due to substance abuse. Some go years without any contact. While there are plenty of avenues the government may take to separate a child from a potentially harmful parent, there are very few channels for reuniting families once a parent overcomes addiction.

Abuse And Neglect From Addiction

Drug abuse can lead to seriously damaging effects for any family. Some children have suffered physical and sexual abuse at the hands of addicted parents and relatives. Others have been trafficked to pay for a parent’s addiction. Many face neglect, homelessness, and poverty due to their parents’ habits and may come to school tired, hungry, and wearing filthy clothes.

Children who experience poverty, abuse, and/or neglect at young ages typically display significant behavioral and psychological distress for years to come. Seeing drug abuse firsthand at home can be traumatic and drastically impact a child’s outlook on the world. Children from fractured homes and those who go through the foster care system generally face a higher risk of developing substance abuse disorders themselves as well.

West Virginia Teacher Addresses Student Poverty

A recent Huffington Post report* covered the story of Gary Cruey, a middle school teacher in War, West Virginia, one of the areas of the country most acutely affected by the opioid epidemic. While the rate of foster care admissions in 2016 was 369 per 100,000 children, the rate in West Virginia skyrocketed to 1,221 per 100,000 children. Cruey reports that as many as half of the students he teaches live in foster care, with one parent, or another relative.

In 2014, McDowell County had the highest opioid-related hospitalization rate in the state, and West Virginia already reported significantly higher opioid abuse statistics than most other states. Cruey also reported that about 40% of middle school students in his district have individualized lesson plans or participate in special education. He attributes this spike in special education needs to the number of pregnant mothers abusing drugs in the area.

Long-Term Damage For Children Of Addicted Parents

The children who witness drug abuse at home often experience severe trauma. Even the children lucky enough to avoid physical and sexual abuse may still come home to find a parent dead from an overdose, eviction from unpaid rent, or a sudden removal from his or her home and foster care placement. The efficacy and safety of the U.S. foster care system has also been a hot topic of debate in recent years due to the increasing number of reports of abuse at the hands of foster parents and poor vetting practices in foster care services. Essentially, there is no guarantee that a child removed from his or her family home due to substance abuse will benefit in any way from foster care placement.

Overcoming trauma is difficult for anyone, but children lack the self-awareness of adults and may not be able to make sense of their environments. This leads to trouble learning, problems socializing, and an increased risk of drug abuse and criminal activity later in life. Teachers can play an important role in helping children in need by stepping outside their role as educators and offering support however they can. While this is an undue burden on American teachers whose job it is to simply teach, many undertake this burden because they want the best for their students and feel compelled to help however possible.

Finding Hope In Recovery

The resources available for fighting the ongoing opioid crisis are very limited, and while state and federal policymakers have made significant strides toward improving access to treatment and boosting the effectiveness of available treatments, there has been little progress in the way of improving the lives of children affected by substance abuse.

Echo Recovery offers a full range of substance abuse treatment services, including support for families struggling with homelessness. Visit us online to learn more about the housing services we can provide and consider how you can start rebuilding in recovery.

Increased Benzodiazepine Overdose Rates in the United States

Increased Benzodiazepine Overdose Rates in the United States

Opioids are the drug at the root of the current overdoses and addiction crisis in the United States, and benzodiazepines are the drug at the heart of a silent epidemic that is happening at the same time, but hasn’t garnered as much attention in the media.

The results of a study on “Increasing Benzodiazepine Prescriptions and Overdose Mortality in the United States, 1996–2013” found that the percentage of American adults filling benzodiazepine prescriptions had increased from 4.1% to 5.6% in the 17 years between 1996 and 2013. Shockingly, revised numbers by the National Institute on Drug Abuse as of 2018 put that increase at 67%. Representing an increase of 8.1 million to 13 million.

With the number of people addicted to drugs alike Xanax, Valium, and Klonopin increasing, and subsequent benzodiazepine overdose and addiction treatment admissions skyrocketing, the case for a possible benzodiazepine epidemic in America must be made.

The Benzodiazepine Epidemic in the United States

The number of opioid prescriptions being filled in the United States has decreased since 2016 – a sign that prevention measures put in place in-response to the opioid epidemic are working. While we haven’t seen the trickle down effects of opioid epidemic responses lowering the number of overdose deaths, we are seeing early wins.

If low prescription rates for opioids signal a positive trends in the opioid epidemic, increased benzodiazepine prescription rates signal a negative and dangerous trend that appears to be getting worse every year.

Opioid Deaths involving Benzodiazepines

Benzodiazepines Overdose Statistics:

Benzodiazepines were involved in 30% of all prescription drug deaths in the year 2013 – a number that would shock the medical community, and spur a response from the public, if it wasn’t being overshadowed by and even bigger number. 70% of all prescription drug deaths involved opioids.

“75% of benzodiazepine deaths in the US also involve opioid use”

The overdose rate for benzodiazepines alone quadrupled from 1999 to 2010 in Adults 18-64 years in age.

Key Statistics on Benzodiazepine Addiction:

  • Benzodiazepine overdoses increased from 1,135 (1999) to 8,791 (2015) in 16 years.
  • The increase in benzo overdoses between 1999 and 2015 was more than 700%.
  • Alprazolam (Xanax) was involved in 3,677 deaths in 2010.
  • Alprazolam (Xanax) was involved in 4,043 deaths in 2011.
  • Alprazolam (Xanax) was involved in 3,785 deaths in 2012.
  • Alprazolam (Xanax) was involved in 3,696 deaths in 2013.
  • Alprazolam (Xanax) was involved in 4,217 deaths in 2014.
  • Alprazolam (Xanax) is consistently involved in more deaths than Diazepam (Valium).
  • The percentage of people using benzodiazepines increases directly with the age group (the older the age group, the higher percentage of benzodiazepine use).
  • Emergency room visits involving mixed opioids and benzodiazepines increased from 11 (per 100,000) to 34.2 between 2004 and 2011.
  • Increases in benzodiazepine overdose deaths between 2004 and 2011 hit every age group except the 12-17 year old age group.

Maryland Benzodiazepine Overdose Statistics:

  • Emergency room visits involving mixed opioids and benzodiazepines increased every year in all demographic groups in Maryland since 2007.
  • Overdoses involving benzodiazepines and opioids make up 53% of overdose cases in Maryland.
  • Overdoses involving benzodiazepines and fentanyl make up 45% of overdose cases in Maryland.
  • Overdoses involving benzodiazepines and heroin make up 43% of overdose cases in Maryland.
  • The total amount of overdose deaths in Maryland has increased every year, from 649 deaths in 2010 to 20189 deaths in 2016.
Xanax Vs Valium Overdose Deaths

Xanax Vs Valium Overdose Deaths

Percentage of the U.S. population in 2008 with any benzodiazepine use, by sex and age

Percentage of the U.S. population in 2008 with any benzodiazepine use, by sex and age. Source: IMS

Why is Benzodiazepine Use, Abuse, Addiction, and Overdoses Increasing?

There have been a lot of theories as to why benzo use is increasing in popularity in recent years. However, to understand why more people are using and becoming addicted to benzodiazepines, you really only need to look at what benzodiazepines are prescribed to treat, and the uses of benzodiazepine.

Statistic of Americans That Had an Addiction to Prescription or Illicit Opioids

What are Benzodiazepines Used For?

Benzodiazepines are primarily used to treat anxiety, sleeplessness, seizures, and pain and discomfort caused by a number of medical issues. They are also used in treating addiction to alcohol, opioids, and even addiction to benzodiazepines. Further, benzodiazepines are often used in conjunction with antidepressants to treat depressive disorders, bipolar disorders, and a host of other mental health issues.

When we put together all of the issues that benzodiazepines treat, we come up with a list:

  • Anxiety and Panic Disorders
  • Depression
  • Drug and Alcohol Addiction
  • Insomnia
  • Personality Disorders

Given the fact that recent studies have shown a high correlation between mental health disorders and substance abuse, it would seem that the reason for an increase in the use of benzodiazepines can be tied back to mental health disorders.

We have a mental health crisis in America and across the world that we are not dealing with adequately – just medicating its symptoms.

Why Has the Prevalence of Mental Health Disorders Increased in Recent Years

There are innumerable reasons why mental health disorders have increased since the year 2000 – the whole world has been under a lot of stress. From the September 2001 terrorist attacks and following wars in both Iraq and Afghanistan, the world changed rapidly in the past nearly 2 decades. Add to that a housing and financial crisis, technological advances bring technology deeper into your life and threaten your privacy, and – of course – social media.

In short, the past 20 years have taken a toll on humanity and most assuredly can be to blame for the increase of mental health illnesses in those without a genetic predisposition to mental health illnesses. We are a world of people that are self-medicating the very real pain and injury we feel from a world moving faster and becoming more chaotic and aggressive in nature.

It is believed that the opioid epidemic was the first wave of a response to changes in society and in our world. While we are making strives to address the opioid epidemic now, we must not forget that a second wave is following closely behind the opioid epidemic, in the form of a benzodiazepine epidemic.

Preventing a Worsening Benzodiazepine Addiction Epidemic

Inaction in the beginning is what caused the opioid epidemic to become out of control so quickly, and we must not let inaction worsen benzodiazepine addiction rates in the U.S. and cause a benzodiazepine addiction epidemic. We need to cut off the growth of prescription benzodiazepine abuse – just as we have with prescription opioid abuse, and we need to make more addiction treatment and housing options available for those struggling with addiction.

The United States is lacking the treatment capacity to deal with those needing treatment for opioid addiction in the wave of the opioid epidemic. Adequate housing, housing assistance, and transitional living options are in high demand and short supply. We do not have the resources to deal with the current addiction epidemic, and we will be severely hit with a greater lack of resources if a second wave of an addiction epidemic comes in the form of a benzodiazepine epidemic.

Learn more about ECHO Recovery’s efforts to provide affordable drug and alcohol recovery housing in the United States. Our efforts aim to help with opioid epidemic recovery, and to help prevent benzodiazepine addiction from becoming America’s next prescription drug crisis.

Who Is ECHO Recovery?

prescription drug abuse in the United States

How You Can Help in the National Fight Against Opioid Addiction

Most Americans are at least somewhat aware of the ongoing opioid crisis in America, but looking out your front door, it can be hard to spot the signs of opioid addiction in your community. Prescription drug abuse in the United States affects all Americans, in every state, across racial, cultural, economic, and educational lines. While many states have passed legislation specifically targeting opioid abuse, the average citizen can have a profound impact in several ways.

Advocacy, Education, And Support For Addiction Recovery

The first step any average person should take to fight the ongoing opioid crisis is to learn about the effects opioids have had at the local, state, and national levels. If you are wondering what you can do to help fight the opioid epidemic, start by researching the impact the epidemic has had in your community. Most of the people suffering opioid addiction started with prescription medication for legitimate medical issues like chronic pain or surgery recovery. Opioid dependence takes root and worsens very quickly, and many people become addicted without realizing it until withdrawal and cravings emerge.

Talk with Friends

Talk To Your Friends And Family about Prescription Drugs and Addiction

Do some research into the effects of opioid addiction in your area, and then talk to your loved ones and friends about what is happening. They may be misinformed, believe faulty information, or simply not realize the breadth and depth of this ongoing issue. Try to have conversations with the people in your life so they can research the issue on their own time. Advocacy starts at the personal level, so start conversations in your social circles so more people become aware of the opioid crisis.

Volunteer Your Time

Opioid epidemic advocacy can take many forms. While it can start with the conversations between you, your loved ones, and your friends, there are many existing programs that are always in need of volunteers. Substance abuse support groups, needle exchanges, food drives, and other events are a great way to lend your time and energy to worthwhile causes. These events are also great opportunities to have more conversations and drive awareness even more.

Find Prescription Drug Disposal Programs Nearby

Many states and communities have organized prescription drug disposal programs and events to help remove potentially addictive drugs from communities. When a person receives a prescription for opioid painkillers, he or she should consult with a doctor about when to stop the medication. In some cases, the individual may only need to take the pills for a few days. Mistakenly continuing opioid doses needlessly is very dangerous, but many people simply assume they should finish the bottle they received. No one should take opioid medication for any longer than absolutely necessary, and prescription drug disposal programs are a great way to collect leftover medications and safely dispose of them.

Addicted Newborn Baby Cuddling, Volunteer Work and Support

There are many babies in the United States born addicted to opioids due to their mothers’ addictions while pregnant. These babies enter the world feeling the effects of withdrawal, an extremely distressing experience for a newborn. During their time in NICUs and neonatal care, touch is a valuable comfort. Some hospitals have started programs for volunteers to act as “professional cuddlers.” They simply hold and soothe these struggling babies to provide them with the healing power of personal touch they probably wouldn’t receive otherwise. Consider reaching out to your local hospital to see if they could use more volunteers to cuddle opioid addicted babies.

Never Lose Faith

Contact ECHO Recovery For Addiction Recovery Advocacy And Support

The ECHO Recovery Foundation works closely with clients at the local level to help drive awareness about substance abuse and provide relief for the people affected by it. If you can’t find an advocacy program in your area to help, you can contact ECHO for advice about how to start a community outreach program. Let us know whether you think your community could benefit from events like prescription drug disposals, recovery resources, or awareness campaigns. We can provide pointers for how to get started.

Help Fighting Addiction

Donate To The ECHO Recovery
Advocacy Program

Prescription opioid abuse problems and responses are different for every community, and not every person has the time to volunteer. If you have a busy schedule but still want to do your part to help, a donation to the ECHO Recovery Advocacy Program can help make a tremendous difference in the lives of people suffering the effects of prescription drug abuse. We work closely with communities to provide recovery housing, addiction education courses, and advocacy programs. Contact ECHO Recovery if you have ideas for advocacy programs in your area or to make a donation to the Advocacy Program today.

Join The ECHO Recovery Movement By Donating

We Need Your Help in Fighting the Opioid Epidemic

We Need Your Help in Fighting the Opioid Epidemic

Countless people throughout the United States have experienced substance abuse in some way, either personally or through a relative or close friend. Although there are many destructive substances causing havoc in American communities, opioids are the deadliest. The numbers of opioid prescriptions, opioid overdoses, and opioid-related deaths have skyrocketed in recent years, and it’s up to everyone to fight this ongoing epidemic.

How Can I Help?

One of the best ways you can help fight the opioid epidemic is by talking to your friends and loved ones about substance abuse. Even if you believe that no one you know is struggling, many people hide their addictions or simply don’t pay enough attention to them because they do not realize the danger. Starting conversations is one of the best ways to drive awareness of this issue, so be sure to talk to the people you know and love.

It’s also important to know how to spot the warning signs of addiction. If a friend or relative starts displaying odd behavior, seems preoccupied when you spend time with him or her, or has sudden financial trouble, these could all be signs of a blossoming addiction. Let him or her know you are concerned, and if you discover that any type of substance abuse is happening, help him or her find resources for treatment and recovery.

Advocacy Programs

Starting conversations in your own circles is definitely helpful, but you can take this a step further if you have the time to join an advocacy group. There are addiction advocacy organizations all over the country, so you should be able to find one close to you relatively easily. When you take part in an advocacy program, you may work toward informing your community about the dangers of substance abuse in your area, but these organizations offer other opportunities as well. People who have completed recovery often participate in such programs to act as mentors, guides, and sponsors to people just starting their recovery journey. You can also plan and participate in community actions, charity drives, and many other events.

Donating To Help Substance Abuse Treatment

Echo Recovery is a not-for-profit organization that helps connect people struggling with addiction to specialists and treatment centers that can help them recover. You can help this endeavor by donating items that sober living and addiction treatment homes greatly need.

Living in a residential treatment program or transitioning from rehab to recovery are difficult times for people struggling with substance abuse, and the items you donate can make a tremendous difference in many peoples’ recovery experience.

Basic items like bedding (twin size), pillows, pillowcases, and comforters help people in recovery live comfortably as they work toward lifelong sobriety. You can also donate paper items and cleaning supplies like paper towels, toilet paper, trash bags, soaps, detergents, and disposable plates, cups, and cutlery. During a stay in a residential treatment program, patients start to relearn the basic requirements of daily life like cooking, cleaning, and doing laundry. Dish soap, laundry soap, dryer sheets, cooking utensils, and pots and pans are tremendously helpful in this regard.

You can also donate lawn care equipment like mowers, weed whackers, and gardening tools. We accept new and some gently used items. Donations can also take the form of gift cards to gas stations, grocery stores, and department stores like Target and Walmart. These donations will allow recovery patients to shop for basic living essentials in their areas. You can also donate nonperishable food.

Questions About Donating?

If you’re unsure what type of donation to make, want suggestions for a future donation, or simply don’t know where to send your donated items, contact Echo Foundation today and we’ll be happy to answer any questions you may have about donating. We can also let you know of items in high demand or whether a gently used item qualifies for donation.

Mailing a donation of supplies may not work for everyone, so if you’d prefer to make a cash donation, you can do so through the Network for Good. Your donation may be tax deductible as well, so be sure to speak with a tax advisor in your area about your donation to make sure you meet any applicable regulations or donation caps for your area.

Join The Echo Foundation Network

The Echo Foundation blog covers the latest news in substance abuse, treatment, and the latest statistics across the country. We are dedicated to providing the public with the latest and most accurate information regarding substance abuse and treatment in the United States. Continue following our blog for the latest news and to learn more ways you can help those in need during recovery.

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Meet ECHO Recovery

Meet ECHO Recovery: Supporting Addiction Recovery in New England

ECHO Recovery has been launched to help offset the limited housing designed to serve individuals in the midst of addiction recovery. Here at ECHO Recovery, we are eager to start our mission to right this wrong. Our goal is to share information with the community, equipping recovering addicts and their loved ones with the tools necessary to get back to a sober lifestyle.

Knowing that the East Coast is one of the hotbeds of the nation’s alarming opioid epidemic, our goal is to create a safe and welcoming environment that is easily accessible not only to Maryland residents, but also to those across the entire New England region.

Jim Haggerty, one of our founders, has years of experience as a facilities administrator and as a recovery professional. His vision is to ease the burden placed on addicts and their families during treatment by finding a safe and reliable place for them to stay during recovery.

Opioid Deaths Reflect Need for Solutions

ECHO Recovery

While many types of drug addiction threaten Americans in 2017, opioids are by far the most deadly and dangerous. The threat posed by opioids doesn’t only stem from the black market.

Prescriptions for powerful painkillers in the past few decades have created an entire generation that seems to be hooked on opioids. It’s no surprise that the use of illegal opioids, like heroin and fentanyl, has worsened as opioid painkillers have become more widely prescribed.

Taking a look at the hard numbers reveals just how bad the problem is. According to the Centers for Disease Control:

  • 91 Americans are killed daily by prescription opioids and heroin (out of 142 overall drug overdose deaths each day).
  • The number of opioid-related deaths in the U.S. has quadrupled since 1999.
  • Heroin use between 18 to 25 year olds saw a large increase between 2002 and 2013.
  • Overdose deaths related to synthetic opioids rose significantly from 2014 to 2015.

The ECHO Recovery Solution

The concerning increase in opioid use and overdoses in the past two decades is a large part of what motivated a concerned group of professionals to found ECHO Recovery in the first place. Our goal is to not only help people in Maryland, but to provide resources to all of New England. After all, the region has been hit harder than most by the rash of opioid overdoses.

Americans struggling with opioid addiction on the East Coast face a major shortage of resources for treatment. ECHO Recovery represents an opportunity for anyone dealing with heroin or painkiller addiction to get help and start fresh.

Don’t feel like you need to deal with this struggle alone. You can find support among peers and recovery experts in a safe, established treatment community. If you feel that you may need assistance finding housing for addiction treatment or have any questions about recovery, please reach out to us at (443) 616-2243 or contact us online.

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