Saving More Lives Means Modernizing Addiction Treatment

My work in addiction treatment has shown me just how important it is to continue to raise the bar on treatment methodology today. The 2017 National Rx Drug Abuse and Heroin Summit in Atlanta served to reinforce my belief that modernizing addiction treatment is the key factor in saving more lives from the deadly clutches of substance abuse and dependency. With new treatment approaches at the forefront of the industry today, I believe all of us in addiction treatment need to make a new commitment to creating a positive environment where those struggling with addiction can survive, thrive and find new life in recovery.

Finding Common Ground

The annual Rx Summit brings together professionals and advocates involved with addiction treatment and prevention to discuss the public health emergency known as addiction in this country. The summit was first established in 2012 and includes a collaboration between lawmakers, researchers, business owners, treatment providers and others impacted by the national drug abuse crisis. I attended the conference in April and was inspired by the advancements that have been made in addiction treatment. At the same time, the information presented served as a reminder there is much more work to do.

This year’s summit addressed numerous relevant topics surrounding addiction treatment today, including the rising opioid epidemic, prevention strategies and treatment enhancements. Featured speakers included Thomas E. Price, M.D., secretary for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Vice Admiral Vivek H. Murthy, M.D., then-current United States Surgeon General, and Francis Collins, M.D., Ph.D., director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

The Comic You Need To See If You’re Dealing With Depression

Depression can be debilitating, but it’s often something many people try to hide. A forced smile or laugh can prevent family and friends from noticing pain, but that can do more harm than good.

Research shows that many people avoid asking for help because they’re afraid of being judged or shamed for their mental health condition. But when you reach out for support, you’ll find that many people will be waiting for you with open arms.

Artist Colleen Butters of Solar-Citrus says it best in the comic below.

The Worst Jobs For Sleep, Ranked

Many people can relate to that feeling of getting home from the office later than normal and getting to bed behind schedule because of it. And whose alarm has never gone off before you may have wanted it to on a workday? But some jobs are especially, consistently bad for your sleep ― like anything that requires you to work the night shift, which may raise risk of on-the-job injuries, diabetes, obesity, heart disease, memory problems and even some cancers.

Where does your job rank? In a report released earlier this month, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention measured for the first time which occupations are most likely to get at least the minimum seven hours of sleep per night that the American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends ― and which professions are least likely to meet that bar.
Telephone operators have it worst

Switchboard and telephone operators are least likely to get the recommended minimum seven hours of sleep compared to other professions, according to the CDC.

This came as a surprise to the researchers, and demonstrates why it’s so important to look at how our jobs affect sleep, report author Taylor Shockey, a fellow at the CDC’s National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, told The Huffington Post.

So many of the choices we make because of work affect our health. But when it comes to measuring health ― and particularly occupational health ― sleep is often overlooked, Shockey explained. Yet “the type of work a person does and their sleep duration are significantly [linked],” she said.

To come up with the rankings, the CDC analyzed survey responses from 179,621 workers in 29 states who reported how much sleep they typically got in a 24-hour period. The researchers organized the survey respondents into 22 broad occupational categories, and then broke those down further into 93 more specific groups.

“Switchboard and telephone operators” make up one of the more specific professional groups from the list of 93 (“communications equipment operators”).

Alert: You’re More Likely To Get Hit By A Car After This Weekend

Beware, everyone. Daylight saving time this weekend can have a dangerous effect on driving, most likely thanks to a lack of Zs.

Research shows the time-turning tradition can lead to more traffic-related accidents. A 2014 study from the University of Colorado at Boulder found that pedestrians are more likely to be killed by a car during the daylight saving time period than any other time of the year. Researchers from the study found a 17 percent increase in traffic fatalities on the Monday after the shift.

Urban Life.

“The majority of us who are already sleep deprived will feel that loss of this hour of sleep more than ever,” Michael Breus, a clinical psychologist and board-certified sleep specialist, wrote on The Huffington Post.

This could lead to more sleepy people behind the wheel, which not only endangers themselves but others. As Breus explains, “drowsy driving is deadly even if you aren’t the drowsy one.”

Experts say the best way to avoid crashes is to not to hit the road if you’re tired. That includes pulling over if you catch yourself starting to snooze at the wheel. And, if you’re a pedestrian, make sure to stay alert to your surroundings.

If you’re looking to minimize some of the exhausting effects of losing sleep, here are a few tips:

Hit the hay early. The National Sleep Foundation recommends that adults log approximately seven to nine hours of Zs ― whichever feels the healthiest to them. Keep up your regular sleep pattern and adjust your bedtime to reach your hours.

Ditch the nightcap. It might help you drift off at first, but alcohol disrupts your sleep overall. You may end up waking up in the middle of the night or not getting quality rest.

Don’t work out right before you go to bed. Exercise does help you sleep, but give your body enough time to unwind before you hit the sack.

Take a warm shower or bath before bed. The heating and then cooling of your body temperature may prep your mind for rest.

Check out these other tricks to help you fall sleep better. May the roads stay safe and your brain stay well-rested.

Climate Change Could Be Increasing The Footprint Of Lyme Disease

Dr. John Aucott loves to let his dog go off-trail when he hikes. But as the director of the Johns Hopkins Rheumatology Lyme Disease Research Center in Baltimore, he knows better than to do it in June and July — the height of Lyme Disease season, when tiny nymph-stage ticks can move, undetected, from wild host (a mouse or deer) to a dog or human. While dogs can’t directly transmit Lyme disease to their owners, they can harbor ticks capable of doing the job.

wood tick

People who get Lyme disease suffer from unpleasant symptoms like a rash, facial paralysis and swollen knees. But it isn’t always easy to detect and if left untreated, can progress to complications like memory problems, heart rhythm irregularities and chronic arthritis. A small minority of people with Lyme disease may even suffer symptoms like fatigue and joint pain for months after treatment.

This year, because of the East Coast’s unusually warm winter, ticks seem to be making an earlier appearance, which could make people unknowingly vulnerable to getting Lyme disease. Aucott says he is already finding ticks on his dog.

“I just pulled an engorged tick off [the dog] in February, which would be very unusual if the ground was snow-covered and it was 30 degrees,” he said. “But there’s no snow, and it’s been 60 and 70 degrees for some reason this winter.”

One implication of the warm weather is that it attracts mice, which also harbor the ticks and bacteria that cause Lyme disease: 2017 is expected to be a very risky Lyme disease season, based on the surge of mice in New York measured in 2016, experts Felicia Keesing of Bard College and Rick Ostfeld of the Cary Institute of Ecosystems Studies told NPR this week. Aucott wasn’t surprised to hear this.

Local health departments, state university researchers and local doctors in other high-risk areas are also sounding the alarm in their respective communities about the rise of Lyme disease and tick sightings in their area this year.

“The mice of the previous year are important because they’re the ones infecting the larvae, and [they turn into] the nymphs that are feeding the following spring,” Aucott explained. “So it make intuitive sense — more mice, more infected larvae, more Lyme disease.”

However, just because there are a lot of mice in New York, doesn’t mean there are a lot of mice in other areas where Lyme disease is present.

“It’s really highly unlikely that the same variables in play in New York are in play in Virginia, Nova Scotia or Maryland,” Aucott said. “In other words, predicting one area doesn’t do a good job of predicting what’s going on in an adjacent region.”

Your Employer-Provided Health Care Could End With The GOP’s Plan

If the GOP’s proposed American Health Care Act were to pass, companies with 50 or more employees will no longer have to offer health insurance ― the most common source of coverage for people under age 65.

UNITED STATES – MARCH 8: Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., conduct a news conference at the RNC where they discussed the House Republican’s new healthcare plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, March 8, 2017. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Even if this iteration of a so-called replacement for Obamacare goes nowhere in Congress, the employer health care provision could creep back into a final version. This has barely been mentioned so far in the heated conversation about the Republican plan. But it’s worth examining, because it could cause a sea change in how the nation’s health care delivery system operates, according to industry experts.

Companies began providing workers with health insurance voluntarily after World War II because of the tax advantages. By the mid-1960s, employer-provided health insurance was pretty much universal. It was an affordable benefit for companies, and a valuable recruitment tool. But as health care costs increased and employees began to switch jobs more regularly, the system eroded. Obamacare put a mandate on the practice, requiring companies with 50 or more full-time workers to offer health care to avoid a tax.

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimates that in 2016, about 155 million people (or about 57 percent of the population under age 65) got health coverage through their job, or a family member’s job. That’s an awful lot of us.

Most people just assume that companies don’t need to be told to give their workers health insurance ― they are motivated by tax incentives and a desire to attract the best talent. And, as many point out, employers were offering health benefits voluntarily long before Obamacare made it a mandate. Why would they change just because Republicans remove the requirement?

Because it costs too much.

Those who study corporate benefits say that health insurance as an employee perk has been on the decline for years, with companies shifting more of the cost onto workers. This trend could accelerate by removing Obamacare’s mandate. The underlying cause is that health care costs have been rising. With higher costs come higher insurance premiums.

The share of Fortune’s top companies that still pay for 100 percent of their employee health care dropped to 9 percent in 2016 from 34 percent in 2001. In most cases, employees are covering more of their health insurance premiums than in previous years. Workers with employer-sponsored health plans now contribute an average of 18 percent of the premium for single coverage, and 29 percent for family coverage, according to a study by the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.