Although the American workforce has experienced dramatic change over the past few decades, we still live in a country in which roughly half of all employers require their applicants to pass a drug test to successfully qualify for employment. In a cluster of states known as the “Rust Belt” (Western New York, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio, Indiana, lower Michigan, northern Illinois and southeastern Wisconsin), employers are learning just how difficult this reality has become. The American addiction crisis has corresponded with a trend of workers throughout the region testing positive for drugs during employer-mandated screenings. More and more of the job vacancies in the rustbelt, which largely include manufacturing opportunities, are being filled by refugees from Syria and other parts of the world.
The sitting governor of a state beset by out-of-control opioid and heroin addiction, Chris Christie has come to gain a special understanding of the threat that overdose poses to the entire country. He is now collaborating with President Trump, his former political rival and ally, to take steps toward solving the problem. The President briefly touched on the American opioid crisis at several points during this campaign and, during an emotional roundtable discussion last month that included members of his Cabinet, law enforcement chiefs, recovering addicts and prevention advocates, vowed to increase to combat the epidemic which officials and experts have declared the worst substance abuse epidemic in the history of the country.
The buzz on capital hill and, throughout the rest of the country, this week has been the inability of the republican majority to push through a healthcare reform bill that faced harsh criticism from both sides of the aisle. In the end, President Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan found themselves having to appeal to fundamentally different philosophies within their own party. At a press conference late Friday, an obviously tired, yet optimistic Ryan took to the podium and admitted that the Affordable Care Act, also known as “Obamacare” would be the law of the land for the foreseeable future. What then, does this mean for the continuing evolution of addiction treatment and its increased accessibility under the ACA?
A team of researchers at Indiana’s Purdue University is working toward curbing opioid addiction at one of its primary sources: the doctor’s office. In response to the high number of patients that develop addiction to prescription painkillers, and later often heroin, as a result of a legitimate prescription administered by their doctors, the team has been researching ways to address the clinical aspect of this pervasive and devastating public health issue that continues to kill tens of thousands of Americans per year. They recently made a significant breakthrough in the form of a new drug compound that just might be able to break the cycle of treatment and addiction.
When Ben Affleck recently disclosed that he had completed treatment for alcohol abuse, it was not anything that the public hadn’t heard before. The actor, writer and director has experienced a long and documented battle with alcohol, going back to a previous stint in treatment in 2001. Perhaps the most impactful part of his announcement is the reinforcement that recovery truly is a lifelong endeavor, and that even after years of continued sobriety, addicts may need a little more assistance to help them stay on track, or get back there after a relapse; many of us have experienced this cycle in our own lives.
After weeks of promising a plan that would successfully replace the Affordable Care Act and bring quality health insurance options to every American, the republican-led legislature finally unveiled their vision for the future of healthcare in the form of the American Healthcare Act of 2017. Since its roll out, there has been rampant bipartisan criticism of the legislation; some from those who say it doesn’t go far enough to reverse the course of Obamacare and some from those who say it jeopardizes insurance accessibility for tens of millions of people. For those who have benefitted from the increased access to addiction and mental health treatment under the ACA, it’s hard to say that this law offers a happy ending.
America’s closest Middle Eastern ally took a bold and decisive step during its weekly cabinet meeting this past Sunday: the decriminalization of marijuana. In a bipartisan measure that that it hopes will have a positive impact on both public health and the legal system, Israel voted definitively to take marijuana-related offenses out of its criminal court…for the most part. The new policy calls for a $250 fine for fist-time offenders caught using marijuana in public. Second-time offenders will receive a $500 penalty and a third offense may require offenders to seek rehab. It’s not until the fourth offense that violators may be subject to prosecution and a possible jail term. Money recouped from violations will go toward funding drug rehab and education in the country.
A recent study published by researchers at Canada’s McGill University set out to examine the commonality between music, sex, food and recreational drug use in eliciting feelings of pleasure in the brain: they’ve done it. The study was published in the journal Scientific Reports on February 8th and could have transformative implications for how we examine the role of music in mental health. The study’s findings essentially assert that the brain releases natural opioids when listening to music, an identical chemical reaction to when the brain experiences pleasure from sex, food and drug consumption. Researchers set out to better understand the neurochemical basis of musical experience and release their findings.
In a move that could have a significant positive impact right here in the United States, China has announced plans to ban the sale and manufacture of four popular and powerful types of the synthetic opioid fentanyl. Earlier this month, the country that has been the primary foreign source for devastating and addictive fentanyl-based drugs disclosed plans to outlaw carfentanil, furanyl fentanyl, acrylfentanyl and valeryl fentanyl. US officials are optimistic that the effects of this ban will resonate in communities all across America, where fentanyl claims an average of 700 individuals each year and shows absolutely no signs of slowing down.