Earlier this month there was news that over 90 people overdosed on synthetic marijuana laced with the powerful opioid fentanyl at a park in New Haven, Conn. Thankfully, no one died of an overdose that day due to the quick response from emergency personnel. Such stories remind us that people across the country are struggling with addiction to illicit substances and opioid-based pain medications.
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One hundred fifteen Americans die every day from opioid overdose. Whether a person deliberately misuses a prescription opioid or uses an illicit drug such as heroin, these deaths are all preventable. It’s up to us—emergency medical personnel, healthcare professionals, and community members who witness and respond to overdoses—to learn what we can do to prevent opioid misuse.
Since 2017, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has issued more than $1 billion in grants to support access to opioid-related treatment, prevention and recovery. We have also published resources to support prevention and treatment providers.
HHS released the Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder Parity Action Plan, required by Section 13002 of the 21st Century Cures Act.
The week of March 26-30 is National Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Health Awareness Week. At SAMHSA, this week provides the opportunity to highlight the needs of LGBT Americans with serious mental illness (SMI).Data from SAMHSA’s 2015-2016 National Survey of Drug Use and Health provides insight on the prevalence of substance use and mental disorders among lesbian, gay and bisexual adults. The data indicate that LGB adults have higher rates of mental illness when compared to all adults.
Prevention & Treatment
I often found that my psychiatric practice’s patients diagnosed with depression, bipolar disorder or another mental illness also were living with untreated drug or alcohol problems.
The presence of both substance abuse and mental illness is known as a co-occurring disorder. Left untreated, this condition poses a serious threat to an individual’s quality of life, including increased risk of family problems, frequent drug relapse, numerous hospitalizations, unemployment, homelessness, serious physical illness and death.
As we observe World AIDS Day on December 1, we remember those we’ve lost to the disease, reflect on the progress we’ve made in treating patients, and resolve to end the HIV and AIDS epidemic. SAMHSA’s role in ending HIV is vitally important because the people we are charged with caring for – those with a mental or substance use disorder – are disproportionately affected by HIV.The good news is we have seen great success in treating HIV infection over the past 20 years. In fact, a 20-year old who is diagnosed today with HIV can have a near normal life expectancy if they take antiretroviral medication every day and maintain an undetectable level of virus in their blood.