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Overdose Not Only Risk Factor in Opioid Crisis

Overdose Not Only Risk Factor in Opioid Crisis

Overdose Not Only Risk Factor in Opioid Crisis

Every day 130 people in the United States die from an opioid-related overdose. While the numbers of new opioid prescriptions have declined in the last two years, we’re still experiencing fall out from years of unchecked opioid prescriptions. A recent study in JAMA Psychiatry reveals the far-reaching effects of the opioid crisis on the health of an abuser.

Researched pulled data from 124 previously published studies and compared that data with the general population of the same age and sex. The study revealed in addition to increased death from overdose, opioid addicts also have increased deaths due to non-communicable diseases, infectious diseases, suicide, and unintentional injuries. The most common non-communicable diseases include cancer and cardiovascular disease.  

AIDS/HIV

While deaths due to HIV/AIDS have declined due to more effective treatment in the overall population, AIDS deaths among opioid abusers have remained steady. Research shows 10-20% of those who misuse prescription opioids move on to inject opioids or heroin. Shared needles between drug users increase the chances of blood-borne infections such as HIV and hepatitis C. For the first time in two decades, HIV infections from injected drug use increased in 2015 for the first time in two decades due to the opioid crisis.

Opioid abuse affects a person’s entire life, from their overall health to risky behavior. Overdose continues to be a major concern for opioid abusers, but it’s not the only concern. Their behavior and health problems don’t just affect them, it affects their entire family.

Available Resources

If you’re struggling with an opioid addiction take action now. Don’t wait for the drugs to ruin your health. Seeking treatment is an act of strength not weakness. 

At Mantachie Rural Health Care, we treat all aspects of drug addiction from the addiction itself to underlying mental and behavioral health issues. We’ll help you find the right treatment program, and we provide therapy for families as well.

Overdose, while a major concern for drug abusers, isn’t the only increased threat of opioid abuse. You only have one body. Take care of it. We can help. Contact our mental health facilty to learn more at 662-282-4359.   

Celebrating Sobriety Every Day

cupcakes, celebrating sobriety, national sobriety day

Choosing to step out and seek treatment for addiction is one of the hardest decisions you’ll ever make. We’re working hard to remove the stigma of addiction and to encourage more people to choose recovery. For some recovering addicts, celebrating sobriety milestones is an important step in the recovery process. December 11 is National Sobriety Day, but we encourage you to celebrate your sobriety every day.

Celebrating sobriety looks a little different than celebrating life’s other milestones such as weddings and graduations because sobriety is celebrated sober. If you’ve never planned a sobriety celebration, now’s the time to start.

Start Small

Cook a fancy meal at home or try a new restaurant with your spouse, best friend, or immediate family. Small celebrations are especially meaningful if you’re still in the first phase of sobriety. Your family or closest friends will want to celebrate your determination with you and show their support. Make sure they know you’re celebrating sobriety and you expect them to abstain from alcohol during the meal as well. If you’re eating out, ask your server to remove the wine or drink list from the table and not to suggest drinks with your meal.

Get Active

Alcohol and drugs steal our time and our energy. As you progress in your sobriety, you’ll find you have more of both of these resources. Try a new outdoor activity such as hiking, running, biking, fishing, or swimming. Invite supportive friends and family members to join you. Let them know the day’s activity is a celebration of your sobriety and alcohol and drugs are not permitted on the trip. Setting boundaries and surrounding yourself with supportive people are key parts of maintaining your sobriety.

Create New Traditions

As we move into the holidays, a lot of family traditions center around drinking. From grandma’s eggnog at Christmas to champagne on New Year’s Eve and beers during a ballgame, you may find yourself challenged at every turn. Combined with the stress of family gatherings, those temptations may prove to be a powderkeg for you. Choose now to set some new holiday traditions. Bake and decorate cookies together. Serve lunch at a local shelter. Drive around and look at Christmas lights. Host a soup cook-off. Every family tradition starts somewhere. Yours starts here with you.

Go Big

The early milestones of recovery may require quieter celebration to keep you on track, but long-term milestones like a year or five-years call for bigger celebrations. By now you’re past the first few hard days of sobriety, but you understand the importance of maintaining your commitment to your new lifestyle. And your friends and family are adjusting to the new you without drugs or alcohol. You may still choose to include a small group of supportive friends and family, but consider an out-of-town trip or a big vacation celebrate. Find a vacation travel planner that specializes in sober travel deals to celebrate on a cruise or trip that skips the alcohol. 

However you choose to celebrate sobriety, we encourage you to celebrate it every day. Each moment lived without the control of drugs and alcohol is a beautiful day. 

If you haven’t chosen a sober lifestyle yet, but you’re ready to kick your addictions, our counselors are ready to speak with you. And if you’ve walked the path of sobriety, but somehow lost your way, we’re here for that too. Call us at 662-282-4359 to speak with someone today.

Grief Support for Survivors of Suicide Loss

Grief Support for Survivors of Suicide Loss

The holidays prove to be difficult for anyone who has lost a loved one. For those whose loved one ended their own life, the grief and holidays can be even more difficult. Finding support for survivors of suicide loss is an important part of the healing process. This year’s International Survivors of Suicide Loss Day is November 23, just before the Thanksgiving holiday.

The shock and grief following a loved one’s death by suicide can feel overwhelming. Grief, in general, can feel all-consuming, but following a suicide, it may also include confusion, anger, rejection, and shame. Some survivors may be at an increased risk of suicide or suicidal thoughts themselves. 

If someone you loved has taken their own life, remember you are not alone. It’s estimated that the 800,000 suicides that took place from 1986 to 2010 each touched at least six lives. That means more than 5-million people have been affected. Grief looks different for everyone, and it crops up in unexpected places sometimes years after the loss.

Don’t ignore your grief or allow anyone to minimize it. Find people in your life who are good listeners, and limit your time with people who try to push their own expectations on you. Many survivors of suicide loss find support groups and one-on-one counseling to be a great help. These sessions may help you work through your grief, questions, and even feelings of guilt.

For the friends and family of those affected by suicide stay close to your grieving friend. Be open to share a memory of the person they lost and say his or her name. On the flip side, be willing to sit quietly with a friend when that’s what they need. Ask for ways you help during the difficult days. Go grocery shopping. Watch their children. Drive them to appointments. Bring dinner. Wash the laundry. All the simple tasks they may be too overwhelmed to manage.

Our counselors are trained to help as you sort through the confusing maze of grief after any loss, but specifically the different type of grief that accompanies suicide. Call our office at 662-282-4359 to make an appointment.

If you’re looking for resources on how to support a friend or family member who has experienced suicide loss, we’ve listed a few valuable resources below.

Helping a Student Who Has Lost a Friend or Family Member to Suicide (Although specifically geared towards students, this resource is valuable to anyone of any age.)

Understanding Survivors of Suicide Loss

Suicide survivors face grief, questions, challenges

Men’s Health: A Hairy Situation

man with beard; men's health awareness; movember

Men’s Health Awareness advocates have renamed November to Movember. They encourage men to retire the razor a month and grow out their mustaches and beards in hopes of motivating conversations about men’s health. Across the world, women live longer than men, and in the United States, it averages an extra five years of life. Take a dive with us through the testosterone waters to find out why.

Who are you?

Men are twenty-percent less likely to have seen a medical provider in the last year than women. Is it because they’re healthier? Nope.

On average, men have their first heart attack around age 65, while a woman’s first heart attack happens later around age 72. (Although women are still more likely to die from a heart attack than men.)

Men are twice as likely to develop Type 2 diabetes at a younger age and lower BMI than women.

Men are more likely to develop, and die from, cancer than women. 

Men are three times more likely to die from suicide, although more women are diagnosed with depression than men.

All of these diseases are most easily prevented and treated in their early stages. Preventative treatment and screenings can identify risks before the illness strikes — but only if the patient seeks out that treatment. Additionally, men are less likely to follow a treatment plan than women.

Enter Movember

Raising awareness increases conversations between men about their physical and mental health. The more men talk about health screenings and their mental health, the more they realize they aren’t alone. 

Celebrate Men’s Health Awareness Month by scheduling a yearly wellness check-up with your medical provider. If you have health insurance, this wellness visit is usually covered 100%. This exam includes checking your blood pressure, a key measurement for determining heart disease.

Keep the celebration going by scheduling your necessary health screenings: 

  • Prostate cancer screening after age 40 with a family history; after age 45 for African American men; after age 50 for all men.
  • Colonoscopy at age 50.
  • Abdominal aortic aneurysm screening between ages 65-75 if you’ve ever used tobacco.

Don’t be afraid to talk to someone about your mental health, including a counselor or therapist if needed. More and more men are talking about their mental health including celebrities such as Ryan Reynolds, Dewayne “The Rock” Johnson, Kevin Love, Micheal Phelps, Chris Evans, and many more. If they’re not afraid to open up about depression and anxiety, you shouldn’t be either.

Finally, follow your wife/sister/daughter/friend’s example and do some self-care work. Exercise. Drink plenty of water. Find a hobby you enjoy. Try to eat a little healthier. Stop smoking. 

Your life is valuable and we need you around for many years to come.

Suicide Prevention Month: What You Need to Know

suicide prevention month

An average of 129 suicides occur each day in the United States. 129. Let that number sink in for a moment. That means that today, more than 100 Americans will take their own lives. 

Disturbing statistics like this are the reason September has been recognized as Suicide Prevention Month. Organizations like the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline understand the causes of suicide and believe this is one manner of death that can be prevented. 

The Causes of Suicide

Unlike most illnesses or causes of death, the exact cause of each individual suicide can’t always be narrowed down. However, a number of common risk factors are found in many suicide victims according to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. 

  • Mental disorders, particularly mood disorders such as schizophrenia and some personality disorders.
  • Drug addiction or alcohol abuse 
  • History of abuse or trauma
  • Feelings of hopelessness
  • Aggressive or impulsive tendencies
  • A major physical illness or injury
  • Lack of healthcare, particularly for mental or substance abuse treatment
  • Relationship, job or financial loss
  • Family history of suicide
  • Previous suicide attempts
  • Lack of social support; stigma surrounding mental health, substance abuse, and suicide
  • Local clusters of suicide
  • Ease of access to means of suicide
  • Religious or cultural beliefs, especially if suicide is viewed as a noble resolution for a problem
  • Exposure to others who have committed suicide including in real life, internet or media

As you can see, there’s no shortage of risk factors for suicide. It’s important to note that white, middle-aged men are at a greater risk for suicide than any other group. In fact, white males accounted for almost 70% of suicides that occurred in the U.S. in 2017. 

Spotting the Risks

Suicide Prevention Month is a great time to remember to be aware of the risks of suicide. You already know the risk factors, but you also need to recognize the warning signs that come with those factors. You should get help if you or someone you love:

  • Talks about wanting to die.
  • Looks for means for suicide, such as searching for ways online or buying a gun.
  • Speaks about feelings of hopelessness, a lack of a will to live, unbearable pain, or being a burden to others.
  • Begins behaving recklessly or acts anxious or agitated
  • Becomes increasingly isolated or withdrawn.
  • Sleeps too much or too little.
  • Displays extreme mood swings, shows rage, or speaks of revenge. 

If you recognized any of these behaviors or risk factors in yourself or a loved one, don’t wait to reach out and get help. Mantachie Rural Health Care has joined the fight against suicide by providing accessible and affordable healthcare and behavioral healthcare to everyone in our community. Contact us today to learn how we can help you or your loved one address mental and physical issues that increase the risk of suicide.

If you or someone you love is in crisis, dial the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 for immediate help. Suicide Prevention Month spreads awareness and saves lives. By sharing this valuable information with someone, you might save their life.

GOT’s Sophie Turner Talks Mental Health, Depression

Sophie Turner depression
Image credits Gage Skidmore

On HBO’s recently completed series Game of Thrones, Sophie Turner played Sansa Stark, Lady of Winterfell and eventual Queen of the North. In real life, she’s a young adult who suffers from depression for which she’s sought counseling and takes prescribed medications.

In an interview on Dr. Phil McGraw’s podcast Phil in the Blanks, Turner opened up about her depression and mental health struggles. Her depression materialized when she was 17, about four years into her work with Game of Thrones. Although she doesn’t blame social media entirely for her depression, she did say comments on social media about her character’s weight gain or “spotty” complexion added to her depression. 

Let’s Talk Numbers

Turner isn’t alone as a teen suffering from depression. Statistics say 20% of teens will be affected by depression before they reach adulthood. The average Mississippi school has 450 students. This statistic means 90 of them will likely deal with depression before they reach the age of twenty.

Only 30% of teens with depression will seek treatment. So out of those 90 students, only 30 will receive the help they need.

Which leads us to the statistic none of us want to talk about, suicide is the third leading cause of death of teenagers.

Removing the Stigma

Hollywood stars aren’t always great at promoting healthy lifestyles. Luckily, many actors, actresses and other performers are openly discussing their mental health challenges. Many of those challenges, like Demi Lovato’s, include substance abuse.

The more we talk about mental health the same way we discuss heart health and diabetes, the easier it becomes for teens and adults to seek out the help they need. We can all contribute to efforts to remove the stigma of seeking counseling or other mental health support.

  • Talk openly about mental health.
  • Show compassion for those with mental illness.
  • Be supportive of those who are struggling with mental illness.
  • Choose your words carefully. (i.e. don’t use mental illness diagnosis like OCD or bipolar as adjectives and don’t label people with mental illness as “crazy” or “insane”.)
  • Education yourself.
  • Encourage equality between mental and physical illnesses.

As children and teens see the adults in their lives responding differently to mental illness, they’ll respond differently as well. Which means they’ll be more likely to speak up and receive the treatment they need.

Recognize the Symptoms

The first step to ensuring your child receives the help they need is recognizing the symptoms. 

  • Has your child’s behavior changed?
  • Is their school work suffering?
  • Are they having difficulties at school, home or work?
  • Have their sleep patterns changed?
  • Do they have a sensitivity to light or sound that has lasted longer than two weeks?
  • Are they feeling sad, hopeless or worthless?
  • Have their eating habits changed (either eating too much or not enough)?
  • Do they have problems with concentration or memory?

Seek Help

If you’ve recognized the signs of depression or other mental illness in your teen or your teen has asked you for help, you don’t have to manage this alone. Our behavioral health specialists can guide you and your family as you seek the help you need. Your willingness to help your teen find help continues to remove the stigma attached to mental illness. Make an appointment with one of our counselors by calling 662-282-4359. 

Early Alzheimer’s Signs Not to Miss

older woman and caregiver walking away; early Alzheimer's signs

For most people with Alzheimer’s symptoms begin in the mid-to-late 60s. Those rare cases of early-onset Alzheimer’s may begin to notice symptoms as early as their 30s. In either case, the National Institute on Aging believes it’s likely the damage leading to these signs begins a decade before the patient or anyone else notices the signs.

During the early or mild stages of Alzheimer’s, when most patients are diagnosed, patients experience very similar symptoms. Many patients know something isn’t exactly right. Family and friends who do not see the person on a regular basis may even write off a few odd behaviors as typical aging. Most Alzheimer’s or dementia symptoms represent a change in a person’s behavior.

Forgetfulness

It’s common as we age to forget a person’s name and remember it later. We may not know what day of the week it is but then figure it out. Forgetfulness may include struggling with dates and times, misplacing items more frequently or not remembering something you just learned. When you discover you or a loved one relies more and more on memory aids like written notes, reminders set on their phone or assistance from family members visit your provider to discuss the changes.

Difficulty with Daily Tasks

By the time we reach our mid-sixties, most of us have gotten ourselves dressed for the day for over half a century. Remembering what clothes to wear in what weather or how to button our shirt seems like second nature unless you’re suffering from Alzheimer’s. In addition to struggling to dress themselves, Alzheimer patients may also struggle to balance the checkbook, make plans or decisions, cook a simple meal or drive themselves to a familiar place.

Mood and Personality Changes

Knowing you’re confused but not being able to do anything about it is very scary. Often these changes cause a previously outgoing person to retreat. They may prefer to stay at home where things are familiar or they won’t be asked questions they can’t answer. They may also leave favorite hobbies because they find themselves making frequent mistakes. Or they may not remember how to complete the tasks required. Other personality changes include moodiness, anger, anxiety, more confusion, and depression.

Unfortunately, science does not have a cure for Alzheimer’s yet. This devastating illness progresses requiring more intensive care and supervision. There are medications that can help along with support programs for caregivers and family members.

If you suspect someone you love has Alzheimer’s or you need mental health support as you care for the Alzheimer’s patient in your life make an appointment with one of our counselors today.

Why is Kratom in the news?

kratom, in the news, opioid addiction
Photo credit: Dominic Milton Trott

Local news stories about Kratom in North Mississippi have erupted in the last two months. Itawamba County as a whole and specifically Mantachie and Fulton banned the substance.

Public discussion about emerging drug problems sheds light on difficult subjects. We spend a lot of time educating our community on the issue of drug addiction and removing the stigma that often comes with seeking help for drug addictions. This discussion has also revealed how many people desire to find treatment for their opioid addiction or want to treat pain without opioids.

What is Kratom?

Kratom comes from the Mitragyna Speciose tree grown in Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, and Papua, New Guinea. The drug may be sold as leaves, powder, pill or liquid. Some users claim the drug has no addictive qualities and alleviates the symptoms of opioid withdrawal. FDA studies, however, show the drug attaches to the opioid receptors in the brain causing a similar high and addiction as opioid.

What’s the problem with Kratom?

The FDA does not regulate herbal supplements like Kratom. That means the amount of actual Kratom in a supplement can vary without manufacturer of the supplement having to list how much of the substance is in the supplement. Manufacturers also mix other chemicals with Kratom in their supplements. These chemicals can change how the body process the Kratom as well as other medications.

This lack of regulation can mean the dose you took yesterday that helped you stay alert and focused at work could land you in the hospital with an overdose today.

Users report low doses of Kratom improve focus, increase energy levels, increase sociability and decrease pain. Higher doses, however, can cause drowsiness, sweating, nausea, itching, dreaminess, and vomiting.

Kratom currently has no medically approved usage, including as an aid to kicking opioid addiction. People who attempt to treat opioid addiction with Kratom often end up simply switching drugs. There are approved medications to treat opioid addiction. Our counselors can help you find the right in-patient or out-patient program to treat your addiction. Don’t try to manage it alone.

If you’d like to learn more about Kratom and the dangers, check out this article. Our counselors are available to help tackle any addiction including opioids and Kratom.

FDA Outlines Successes, Continuing Work to Fight Opioid Addiction

Since 2015, the number of opioid pain prescriptions filled at retail pharmacies has declined by 24%. Prescriptions of the strongest opioids now account for less than 1% of all opioids dispensed in 2018. All positive trends in the fight against opioid addiction, but none mark the end of the crisis. In the midst of these positive numbers, the rate of overdose death continues to increase.

In a letter released at the end of February, Scott Gottlieb, M.D., FDA Commissioner, addressed the success of the agency. He also discussed their plans to continue fighting opioid addiction and providing recovery support for those in the throes of addiction.

Prevention Key to Stemming the Crisis

Gottlieb admits the FDA’s reliance on “rigorous evidence that can often take many months and even years to collect” slowed the agency’s response to the building crisis. They’re taking new steps to respond more quickly to the changing situation.

One key to solving the opioid crisis is reducing the misuse of opioid drugs that leads to a new addiction. In 2019 the agency expects to implement new dosing methods. One solution includes blister packs that allow doctors to more easily prescribe lower doses of medication. They’ll also release suggested dosing based on specific outpatient scenarios.

Continued Support for Addiction Recovery

“Reducing overdose deaths also requires broadening the availability of naloxone,” Gottlieb writes.

The FDA is working with drug manufacturers to make naloxone available as an over-the-counter product. This step makes the product available to people who are not under the care of a physician. It also increases availability to those who may fear the stigma that comes with addiction. While it is not currently available without a prescription, the FDA is seeking industry partners who will help bring the product to market.

Reduction of Illegal Opioid Trafficking

Finally, while prescriptions of opioids continue to decrease illegal sales of opioids online continues to increase. Together with major internet stakeholders, the FDA is working to make it harder for online sales to take place.

“For example, Google now deindexes websites based on our warning letters that cite the unlawful sale of opioids to U.S. consumers. Social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram redirect users who are looking to buy opioids online to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration National Helpline,” writes Gottlieb.

The organization continues to use analytics and tracking data to identify early trends which will help them react faster to changes in the crisis.

Mantachie Rural Health Care, Inc., continues to work with our community to battle the opioid addiction in North Mississippi. The problems our friends, family, and neighbors experience with opioids are echoed around the country. While we’re hard at work educating the community about the signs and dangers of opioid addiction we’re also dedicated to reducing the stigma associated with it. More education and less stigma mean an increase in people who need help finding it.

But we’re not alone in our fight and neither are you. If you need help finding the recovery resources you need, call our mental health clinic today at 662-282-4359.

Gut Bacteria and Your Health

gut bacteria

Most of the time when our medical provider talks about bacteria and our body it’s not a good thing. When it comes to the naturally occurring bacteria in your stomach, it looks like more can be better.

Somewhere between 300 and 500 different kinds of bacteria live in our intestines, and that’s a good thing. These bacteria work with other tiny organisms to make up the microbiota in our intestines. Researchers call the gut our “second brain”.  The microbiota in our gut affects everything from our metabolism to our mood to our immune system.

Gut Bacteria Linked to Chronic Illness

Research into this gut bacteria shows differences between the types of bacteria in healthy people versus those with certain illnesses. While it makes sense what’s happening in our gut would affect chronic diseases such as colon cancer or Crohn’s disease, gut bacteria may also increase your chances for heart disease, type 2 diabetes, depression, anxiety, autism, and rheumatoid arthritis.

How to Encourage Good Bacteria Growth

What goes into our bodies affects how our bodies work. Encourage good gut bacteria by eating a nutritious diet high in fiber-rich foods. Processed foods and diets filled with red meats can kill certain gut bacteria. Having a variety of gut bacteria appears in research to be as important as having a lot of good gut bacteria.

Exercise can also increase the variety of gut bacteria so aim for 30 minutes of exercise at least five times a week. We’ve discussed the importance of exercise in controlling blood pressure, reducing heart disease and managing type 2 diabetes. All those illnesses may have some link to gut bacteria which can be affected by exercise.

Finally, only take antibiotics when your provider determines it’s necessary. Antibiotics will not help your cold or flu. Those viruses must run their course. Antibiotics not only kill the bad bacteria but the good gut bacteria your body needs.

Research is on-going to determine how certain gut bacteria affect disease and what we can do to increase it in our intestines. If you’d like to learn more about gut bacteria and the research surrounding it, we found this article by WebMD to be especially helpful.


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