The WashingtonPost writes

 January 7

Beth Schmidt always begins her opioid-awareness sessions by introducing her boy. At one such event, she motions toward his photos — the solemn baseball-team picture, his sweet, clean-cut middle school portrait, the cheek-to-cheek selfie of mother and son — as she tells a hushed audience of about a dozen how Sean fought and lost his battle with opioid addiction.

“He actually overdosed right here in Mount Airy at the Twin Arch Shopping Center,” she says, “in a parked car.” It was December 2013, two days after his 23rd birthday.

His death catapulted Schmidt, now 50, into a life she couldn’t have envisioned during her years as a “baseball mom, room mother and field-trip mom” to her three sons. A co-founder of Maryland Heroin Awareness Advocates, Schmidt travels the state advocating for opioid addiction prevention and treatment, and explaining how to use the overdose-reversal drug naloxone. Too late for her own son — but not for the loved ones of others.

“Never in a million years did I think I’d end up helping people save their own children from dying by overdose,” she says. “But as a grieving mom, I don’t want anyone else to have to walk in my shoes.”

The opioid epidemic continues its deadly march, devastating families and decimating communities at an astounding rate. According to the Maryland health department, there were 1,029 opioid-related deaths from January through June 2017, compared with 873 for the same period in 2016.

Naloxone is increasingly seen as the first line of defense in an opioid overdose. When administered within the first minutes — even up to an hour or more — of a potentially deadly overdose, it can resuscitate a victim before their fate is sealed.

Naloxone — also known by its most common brand-name version, Narcan — was once only in the purview of first responders. But enhancements in law and policy are increasing access to the drug, placing it more easily into the hands of anyone who wants it in a “remarkably rapid progression,” according to Corey Davis, deputy director of the Network for Public Health Law.

Maryland and Virginia allow pharmacies to dispense the drug to anyone who asks, no prescription or training necessary. In those states and most others, walk into a CVS, Rite Aid or other pharmacy, ask and receive.

To addiction-awareness advocates, such easy access signifies lives reclaimed. It’s “not just people in active addiction who should have Narcan,” said Joe Adams, the medical director of an opioid-treatment program in Baltimore, “It’s anybody with teenagers or young adults in their household — anybody who’s prescribed or knows someone who’s taking prescription opiates. I’ve heard from plenty of people who were glad to have had it because they were able to save someone’s life. And I’ve heard from plenty of people who wish they’d had it.”

What an overdose does

imply put, death by opioid overdose — whether prescription painkiller or…

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TinyBuddha writes

“To be happy with yourself, you’ve got to lose yourself now and then.” ~Bob Genovesi

At a holiday party last December, I ran into a friend from college who I hadn’t seen in twenty years.

“What’s going on with you? You look great!”

“Oh, well… My mother passed away and my husband and I divorced.”

“Oh Jeez! I’m so sorry,” he said. “That’s a lot! So, why do you look so great?”

Perhaps it wasn’t the greatest party conversation, but I did with it smile.

“It was the hardest year of my life, but I’m getting through it and that makes me feel good.”

Sure, what he didn’t know was that I had spent many weeks with the blinds closed. I cried my way through back-to-back TV episodes on Netflix.

I knitted three sweaters, two scarves, a winter hat, and a sweater coat.

I had too many glasses of wine as I danced around in my living room to pop music, pretending I was still young enough to go to clubs.

And at times it was hard to eat, but damn if I didn’t look good in those new retail-therapy skinny jeans.

Another friend of mine lost his father last spring. When he returned from the East Coast, I knew he would be in shock at re-entry. I invited him over for a bowl of Italian lentil and sausage soup.

As we ate in my kitchen nook, he spoke of the pain of the loss of his father, and even the anger at his friends who, in social situations, avoided talking to him directly about his loss.

Looking down at my soup, I said, “Grief is a big bowl to hold. It takes so many formations, so many textures and colors. You never know how or when it will rear its head and take a hold of you. Sometimes you cry unfathomably, some days you feel guilty because you haven’t cried, and in other moments you are so angry or filled with anxiety you just don’t know what to do.”

Grief is one of those emotions that have a life of their own. It carries every feeling within it and sometimes there’s no way to discern it.

One of the greatest teachings in Buddhism is the lesson of impermanence—that everything that comes into being will go out of being.

But impermanence is just a concept until you face the ugly beast straight into his beating, bulging red eyes.

These are the things that helped me get through such a trying time:

1. Self-care, self-care, self-care. (Oh, and did I say self-care?)

The shock of loss to all of our bodies—emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual—is superb. When we wake in the morning, we question the very nature of who we are. Upon awakening there is a split second when everything is okay in our world.

And then we remember. The storm clouds cover our head again.

Our bodies need to be fed during this time, in order to handle such trauma. Self-care is personal, but I did the things I knew my body wanted:

Lots of baths, fresh pressed organic juices, sticking to a daily structure, such as meditating in the morning, exercising, journaling, reading inspiring books, talking with friends, getting out in sunshine, taking walks, admitting my weakness, and learning to nurture myself.

These were the base things that I knew I needed.

2. Accept there’s a lot you don’t know.

When the pain of loss happens, it’s like a lighting bolt comes and shakes the foundation of the ground. We question everything—our identity, who we are, where we come from, and where we’re going. There is power in surrendering to the unknown.

In coming to accept that we no longer have control over what happens to us, we realize that what we once knew we no longer can know. In fact, much of the spiritual experience is coming to realize all that we are not, and less about what we think we are or what we know.

Here, there is great freedom. And it helps us to meet life’s adversity with courage, head-on.

3. Allow time and space.

I learned once in a counseling psychology class that it takes two years to grieve the loss of a loved one. In human time, that seems like an eternity. There are stages. And each stage brings a remembrance, especially once you start hitting the “year marks.”

During the last year, each “mark” felt like Valentine’s Day without a lover. “Oh, this is the day I knew my marriage was over,” “Oh, this is the day my mother died,” “Oh, this was the last holiday we spent together…”

Recognizing that grief needs time and allowing space for the grief process to unfold gave me permission to hold that great bowl.

4. Accept that sometimes you have a bad day for no apparent reason.

Months, even over a…

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The Recovery Village writes

Alcohol and substance abuse are two problems that are incredibly common among all age groups and people from all backgrounds, both on their own and in combination with one another.

Alcoholism is a problem that leads to around 88,000 deaths on its own each year, and deaths related to alcohol are the fourth-leading cause of preventable death in the U.S. This doesn’t even take into account the deaths resulting from a combination of alcohol and substance abuse.


People who struggle with alcohol abuse or addiction frequently use other substances as well, which may include prescription drugs, over-the-counter drugs, or illicit street drugs. When multiple substances are combined, it amplifies the risk of adverse side effects, as well as overdose and death.Alcohol and substance abuse that occur together are often referred to as polydrug abuse or polysubstance abuse, and for someone who regularly engages in the mixing of alcohol and substances, it’s referred to as chronic polysubstance abuse.

According to research, a significant amount of visits to the ER related to alcohol were because it was combined with other drugs. The drugs most commonly mixed with alcohol are marijuana, cocaine, and heroin.

Also commonly combined with alcohol are prescription drugs including opioids and sedatives.

There are a few reasons someone might suffer from both alcohol and substance abuse simultaneously. It might be something that starts without intention, or for some people, it’s done as a way to heighten the desirable side effects of the substances being taken.

Below are some of the results of pairing alcohol with other commonly abused substances:

  • Cocaine and Alcohol: When someone abuses cocaine and alcohol you’re mixing something that’s considered a stimulant (cocaine) with a depressant (alcohol). Depending on the person this can lead to reduced effects from both substances, or heightened effects. With that being said, when you take cocaine and alcohol together it can increase your chances of experiencing heart-related issues or death.
  • Alcohol and Opioids: It’s no surprise that America is facing a troubling opioid epidemic, and alcohol is one of the substances often combined with opioids like heroin and prescription pain medicines. Both alcohol and opioids are depressants of the central nervous system, making this an incredibly dangerous combination. When you take opioids and alcohol together, it can slow your respiration and central nervous system functionality to the point that you overdose and die, much more quickly than if you just took alcohol or just took opioids alone.
  • Alcohol and Other Prescription Drugs: There are many other prescription drugs that are very dangerous when paired with alcohol. For example, sleep medicines, sedatives and antianxiety medicines can all lead to death when mixed…

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How to Stop Abusing Drugs, Find Treatment, and Begin Recovery

Developing a drug addiction isn’t a character flaw or a sign of weakness and it takes more than willpower to overcome the problem. Abusing illegal or certain prescription drugs can create changes in the brain, causing powerful cravings and a compulsion to use that make sobriety seem like an impossible goal. But recovery is never out of reach, no matter how hopeless your situation seems. With the right treatment and support, change is possible. Don’t give up—even if you’ve tried and failed before. The road to recovery often involves bumps, pitfalls, and setbacks. But by examining the problem and thinking about change, you’re already well on your way.

Overcoming drug addiction: Decide to make a change

For many people struggling with addiction, the toughest step toward recovery is the very first one: recognizing that you have a problem and deciding to make a change. It’s normal to feel uncertain about whether you’re ready to make a change, or if you have what it takes to quit. If you’re addicted to a prescription drug, you may be concerned about how you’re going to find an alternate way to treat a medical condition. It’s okay to feel torn. Committing to sobriety involves changing many things, including:

  • the way you deal with stress
  • who you allow in your life
  • what you do in your free time
  • how you think about yourself
  • the prescription and over-the-counter medications you take

It’s also normal to feel conflicted about giving up your drug of choice, even when you know it’s causing problems in your life. Recovery requires time, motivation, and support, but by making a commitment to change, you can overcome your addiction and regain control of your life.

Overcoming addiction step 1: Think about change

  • Keep track of your drug use, including when and how much you use. This will give you a better sense of the role the addiction is playing in your life.
  • List the pros and cons of quitting, as well as the costs and benefits of continuing your drug use.
  • Consider the things that are important to you, such as your partner, your kids, your pets, your career, or your health. How does your drug use affect those things?
  • Ask someone you trust about their feelings on your drug use.
  • Ask yourself if there’s anything preventing you from changing. What could help you make the change?

Preparing for change: 5 key steps to addiction recovery

  1. Remind yourself of the reasons you want to change.
  2. Think about your past attempts at recovery, if any. What worked? What didn’t?
  3. Set specific, measurable goals, such as a start date or limits on your drug use.
  4. Remove reminders of your addiction from your home, workplace, and other places you frequent.
  5. Tell friends and family that you’re committing to recovery, and ask for their support.

Explore your addiction treatment options

Once you’ve committed…

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The CATO Institute writes

The National Center for Health Statistics reported last month that a record 63,600 deaths occurred in 2016 due to overdoses. Digging deeper into that number shows over 20,000 of those deaths were due to the powerful drug fentanyl, more than 15,000 were caused by heroin, and roughly 14,500 were caused by prescription opioids, although it has been known for years that, in most cases of prescription opioid deaths, the victims had multiple other potentiating drugs onboard. The rest of the deaths were due to methamphetamines, cocaine, benzodiazepines, and methadone.

Drugs Involved in U.S. Overdose Deaths* – Among the more than 64,000 drug overdose deaths estimated in 2016, the sharpest increase occurred among deaths related to fentanyl and fentanyl analogs (synthetic opioids) with over 20,000 overdose deaths. Source: CDC WONDER

* Provisional counts for 2016 are based on data available for analysis as of 8/2017.

In its end-of-year report, the National Center for Health Statistics noted deaths from fentanyl increased at a steady annual rate of 18% per year from 1999-2013 and then shot up 88% from 2013-2016.

Fentanyl is not routinely prescribed in the outpatient setting, and when it is, it most commonly is in the form of a skin patch for slow…

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