Two important aspects of the drug epidemic are at the forefront of national attention. The first is the legalization of the production, sale, and use of marijuana. The second is the explosion of drug overdose deaths that has resulted in overdose becoming the leading cause of death for Americans age 50 and younger and has led to a remarkable decline in U.S. life expectancy for the third consecutive year. These are the poles of drug policy: efforts to relax and even eliminate prohibition of marijuana on the one hand and increasing restrictions on opioids to discourage use and to reduce overdose deaths on the other. As we consider present and future drug crises, we can learn useful lessons both from expanding the focus beyond marijuana and opioids and from exploring the path that has led the nation to the current drug epidemic.
In many health settings "recovery" is used routinely to mean "getting better”, from something as simple as “recovering from a sore knee” to something as serious as “recovering from metastatic cancer.” And while this general, vague sense of recovery is sometimes used in the context of addiction to alcohol and other drugs, here at IBH we use the word to mean something far better and more profound.
When people “recover” from a sore knee, they simply go back to their life before knee pain. With addiction, however, people who successfully “recover” do not go back to being the people they were before their addiction. Instead, they become far better people as a result of their ongoing "recovery" work.
IBH did not invent this specific and widely used definition of “recovery from addiction”, but rather we adopted it from the 25 million strong American recovery community, from the people who through their own sustained hard work have created this special definition of a common word.
Our colleague Bill White has recently begun to regularly blog for the Faces and Voices of Recovery website, and he has posted a remarkable selection of thoughts on the many people that he and Galen Tinder have met over the years who have achieved this true recovery from addiction. Please have a look - it is an inspiring and wide-ranging view of what the recovery community - and IBH - mean when we use the word “recovery”.
Reflections on Long-Term Recovery by Galen Tinder & Bill White
Click here to view their full thoughts.
Join leaders in drug policy, treatment, prevention and recovery from around the world for Think Globally, Act Locally: A Global Drug Policy Summit on June 26, 2019 in Phoenix, Arizona. The Institute for Behavior and Health is pleased to organize this exciting event with the World Federation Against Drugs (WFAD), Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM) and Drug Free America Foundation (DFAF). Attendees can choose from two engaging policy tracks including “International Drug Policy Perspectives and Innovations” and “Local and National Impacts of Changing Marijuana Policy.” Learn more and register today!
Addiction Policy Forum, a nationwide non-profit organization dedicated to eliminating addiction as a major health problem, released a letter from families as part of the #192aDay awareness campaign to honor those lost to drug overdose and other complications of substance use. In their letter, families explain, “This letter to you is about the things we wish we had known — the things we’ve learned since we suffered our losses and wish we had done differently.” From learning the signs of a problem to paying attention to early substance use, to finding quality treatment and finding support, these hard-learned lessons can help other families across the country facing addiction. Read more.
The antagonists in the drug policy field, Alfred Lindesmith and Nils Bejerot, made completely different conclusions in the past. Could they have agreed today? IBH President Robert L. DuPont, MD presents an analysis in DrugNews. After reviewing this history, he notes, “Bejerot saw clearly the risks of compromising with drug use and the value of labeling this use as unhealthy and unacceptable. Sweden provides a model for the world in drug policy today.” Read more.
IBH President Robert L. DuPont, MD served as the plenary speaker at the 7th Annual Southeastern US Regional Drug Prevention Summit. Following his presentation, he was interviewed by The Addiction Podcast - Point of No Return, reviewing his work in the field of addiction treatment and national drug policy and advocating for renewed focus on youth prevention and defining the goal of substance use disorder treatment as long-term recovery.
The 50th edition of Recovery Magazine features an interview of IBH President Robert L. DuPont, MD who discusses his work in the field of addiction, the miracle of recovery he has witnessed among his patients and his book Chemical Slavery.
Recovery Magazine is free to download with embedded audio link to the interview.
IBH President Robert L. DuPont, MD and IBH Vice President Caroline DuPont, MD are honored to serve on the Addiction Policy Forum’s Scientific Advisory Board to provide strategic guidance and direction for research and scientific programs. APF is a leading national non-profit organization dedicated to eliminating addiction as a major health problem. Read more.
A commentary in the LA Times highlights the Institute for Behavior and Health’s One Choice prevention message: no use of any alcohol, nicotine, marijuana or other drugs for youth under age 21 for reasons of health. At the core of this message is the brain science showing that the rapidly developing adolescent brain is uniquely vulnerable to drugs. Authors Paul Larkin Jr. and Stephanie Zawada note, “Brain health is critical to the pursuit of happiness. And leveraging scientifically accurate presentations and testimonies to convince young Americans to prioritize their own brain health early on can prevent future substance abuse. Read more.
In two op-eds, one in The Wall Street Journal and the other in The New York Times, author Alex Berenson highlights the growing support for marijuana legalization has been fueled by misinformation about a drug that is not harmless as its advocates suggest. He notes that “as marijuana use has become more socially acceptable, psychiatrists and epidemiologists have reached a consensus that it presents more serious risks than most people realize.” There are clear connections between marijuana use, psychosis and violence. Although“legalization hasn’t led to a big increase in Americans trying the drug, it has meant that those people who already use it do so far more frequently. In 2005, about three million Americans used cannabis every day. Today, the figure is eight million. Put another way, about one cannabis user in five uses it daily. By contrast, only one in every 15 drinkers, about 12 million Americans, consumes alcohol every day.” The dramatic increase in heavy use is just one of many causes for serious public health concern as the legalization and normalization of marijuana continues. Read more in the WSJ and the NYT.