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Vertava Health’ Weekly Roundup 3/3 – 3/9

3/3/18 – 3/9/18 

Some of the most noteworthy events that happened this week in the addiction and mental health community around the world.

How Two People Struggling With Heroin Addiction Maintain Their Image Of Normalcy

When most people think of someone addicted to heroin, it conjures images of homelessness, unemployment, and run-ins with the law- but this isn’t always the case. Some people addicted to heroin appear perfectly normal on the outside while struggling deeply on the inside with their need for this highly addictive drug. Two “functioning” heroin users open up about how their addiction started, and what it’s like to hide such a life-threatening secret.

Rise In Cocaine-Related Deaths Overshadowed By America’s Opioid Crisis

While all eyes are on the opioid epidemic, cocaine is making a comeback. During a summit held at the White House last week, cocaine was named the number two killer among illicit drugs. In recent years, the highly potent stimulant drug claimed the lives of more African-American men than heroin did. The surge is being largely attributed to a peace settlement between the U.S. and Columbia that caused cocaine prices to drop. [middle-callout]

Writer Explains Why She Believes Addiction Is A Learning Disorder

People have long claimed that addiction is a disease like cancer or Alzheimer’s, and must be treated as such. However, writer Maia Szalavitz suggests otherwise in her newest book, “Unbroken Brain.”  Instead, Szalavitz offers that addiction is more like a learning disorder. She goes on to explain that, like other learning disorders, addiction is a behavior that is learned that resulted in changes to the brain that perpetuated this behavior.

Oscar-Nominated Film Explores The Heartbreaking Reality Of The Opioid Epidemic

Elaine McMillion Sheldon’s Oscar-nominated documentary film, “Heroin(e)”, explores how the opioid crisis has affected a small Appalachia town. While the public is used to comprehending the effects of the opioid epidemic in broad strokes, “Heroin(e)” explores how opioid addiction effects the fabric of day-to-day lives. When asked why she made a film on such a heartbreaking topic, Sheldon said that it was a story that just needed to be told.

New DOJ Task Force To Combat Drug Sales On The Dark Web

The Department of Justice (DOJ) recently announced the creation of a new task force trained to combat opioid sales on the dark web called The Joint Criminal Opioid Darknet Enforcement (J-CODE) team. While some are heralding the extreme action by the Department of Justice, others aren’t sure that this is the best approach. Experts warn that the disrupted sites could merely resurface elsewhere and with more security. Read more about the new J-CODE team.

Research Proves Opioid Painkillers Are No Better At Treating Pain Than Safer Alternatives

After decades of promoting opioid painkillers are the most efficient way to treat pain, new research has come along challenge this view. In a year-long head-to-head trial, patients that received opioid painkillers fared no better in the long-term than patients who received alternative and safer methods of treatment. In fact, patients treated with opioid-based painkillers had significantly more side-effects while using the drugs. These findings could prompt doctors to take a closer look at how the prescribe opioids.

New Study Suggests That Alternatives To Alcoholics Anonymous Work Just As Well

Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) has dominated the addiction treatment community in America for the past several decades. However, a new study suggests that AA, and programs like it, are not the only answer for those looking for group support in addiction recovery. While researchers have long suspected that the benefits of AA are not exclusive the 12-Step recovery program, this is the first study that takes a more in-depth look at this theory.