In a “Dear Colleague” letter sent to grantees of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) late last year, Elinore McCance-Katz, M.D., Ph.D., the Assistant Secretary for Mental Health and Substance Use, put a spotlight on HIV and viral hepatitis – the often hidden consequences of the substance use disorder epidemic – and called on the public health and substance abuse disorders communities to strengthen coordinated efforts to address them.
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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released data on the ten leading causes of death in the United States recently. Tragically, suicide—too often a consequence of untreated mental illness and substance use disorders, and as such a preventable condition—remains on that list as the 10th leading cause of death for adults and the second-leading cause of death in our youth. Suicide rates increased from 29,199 deaths in 1996 to 47,173 deaths in 2017.
What are the contributors to the state of mind that ends in a person taking their own life? What can government do about this? What responsibility do we have to each other to take actions that will alter this course? These are questions of great importance, because rising deaths by suicide say something about the conditions under which our people live and die and about our society at large.
It can be overwhelming and confusing to know where to start if you need to find treatment for an alcohol or drug addiction. Addiction touches nearly everyone in some way, yet, like all health care, effective treatment must be tailored to the needs of the individual. With many addiction treatment options, finding a program that will provide the quality care you or your loved one needs to address the specific addiction issues can be challenging. These steps will help you know what to look for to find a treatment program that is high quality and tailored to your needs.
Alcohol continues to be the most widely used substance of abuse among America’s youth. Recognizing the power of community to raise awareness of the prevalence and consequences of underage alcohol use and mobilize local action to prevent underage drinking, SAMHSA supports the Communities Talk: Town Hall Meetings to Prevent Underage Drinking initiative. This round of Communities Talk events will launch in January 2019.
Quitting smoking is a resolution many smokers set for themselves. It’s widely known that quitting has significant health benefits, but did you know it also can improve a person’s mental health? And for those with substance use disorders, smoking cessation is associated with increased odds of long-term recovery.
Smoking cessation is linked to decreased depression, anxiety, and stress. It’s a factor in experiencing improved positive mood and quality of life, and is also related to improved substance use disorder recovery outcomes. Research shows that quitting increases the odds of long-term recovery, whereas continued smoking increases the likelihood of relapse.
World AIDS Day is a time to reflect on those we've lost to HIV/AIDS, as well as on how much progress we've made in the national response to HIV. It's also an important opportunity to assess where we need to improve and what our next steps should be.