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Parents’ greatest fear is that their kids will become addicted to drugs and alcohol.


According to a Parent.co survey of over 1500 participants, fear of drug and alcohol addiction vastly outweighed concerns about terrorism, economic collapse, crime, and war.

With help from AddictionWise, we set out to research the scope of addiction in America and how it impacts families

Most people in America know someone who is struggling with addiction. It may be the parent of a child in your kids’ class, someone at your church, or someone in your family. It might be your parent, or even your child. It might be you.

  • 44% of Americans say they personally know someone who has been addicted to prescription painkillers, CNBC reports.
  • 20% said it was a family member.
  • 24.6 million Americans used drugs.
  • This equates to 9.4% of the population versus 8.3% in 2002.
  • That’s roughly equal to the entire population of Texas.

An introduction to drug addiction 

Addiction is a complex disease that causes changes in the functioning of the brain.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse defines addiction as a “chronic, often relapsing brain disease that causes compulsive drug seeking and use.”

While a first-time user may try a substance voluntarily, chemicals contained in drugs compromise an individual’s self-control so that further use gradually becomes involuntary.

Drugs like heroin and marijuana mimic neurotransmitters, disrupting normal messages in brain chemistry. Cocaine and methamphetamine interact differently by producing dopamine, which arouses the brain’s reward center while also inducing the brain to produce less dopamine naturally. As drug use becomes more regular, the user’s tolerance increases with a need to use more qualities of drugs to attain a high.

Longer-term drug use affects glutamate, critical to both the reward center and for learning, which negatively influences certain brain functioning such as critical thinking, memory, and self-control.

Nationwide Trends

Annual surveys conducted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration show that drug use is on the rise in America. Participants of the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, who are 12 years and older, provide critical commentary on the use of various substances for different periods, indicating weekly, monthly, or lifetime use of drugs and alcohol.

According to the 2013 results:

  •  23.5 million Americans are addicted to alcohol and drugs.
  • 24.6 million Americans used drugs.
  • This is an increase from 8.3% in 2002  to 9.4%.
  • Marijuana accounts for the majority of this increase as 19.8 million reported using this particular drug in 2013 whereas in 2007, this figure was only 14.5 million.
  • Marijuana accounts for the greatest rates of dependence (after alcohol) with 4.2 million users matching standards for clinical trials for abuse
  • 1.9 million met criteria for dependence on prescription painkillers and 855,000 for cocaine.
  • Methamphetamine use also increased from 353,000 users in 2010 to 595,000 users in 2013.
  • Cocaine however is currently trending downwards, from 2.4 million reported uses from 2002 to 2007 to 1.4 million uses in 2013.

Here in Vermont, more parents are permanently losing their children because of drug addiction.

Parents who are hooked on heroin and prescription opiates are driving an increase in child neglect cases, according to state child welfare officials and prosecutors. “It’s the drugs,” said James Hughes, state’s attorney in Franklin County, which has been swamped with juvenile cases. “Young parents are taking care of their addiction instead of taking care of their children.”

Teens and Drugs

The teenage population accounted for 54.1% of first-time drug users in 2013. Marijuana, followed by opioids then inhalants, are the most popular drugs of choice for this demographic.

Statistics show that drug use typically peaks in late teens and earlier twenties, though later generations are demonstrating a marked increase in drug use, especially for people in their 50s and 60s.

Survey results suggest that baby boomers have typically demonstrated elevated drug use compared to their predecessors.

Alcohol use tends to differ amongst the type of use and between ages and genders. Overall, underage drinking has declined from 28.8% to 22.7 % and binge drinking (5 or more drinks at the same time) from 19.3% to 14.2 % from 2002 to 2013.

Men are more likely to partake in binge drinking as 30.2 % of men and only 16% of women indicated that they had done so within in the month preceding the survey.

Heavy alcohol use (defined as binge drinking on 5 different days over the course of one month) is also more prevalent among men, with 9.5% of men versus 3.3% of women indicating this type of use.

Driving under the influence has fortunately declined from 2002 to 2013 from 14.2% down to 10.9%.

Alcohol addiction, which has the highest rate of dependence for all substances, has also declined in this timeframe, from 7.7% to 6.6% of Americans reporting alcohol dependence or related problems.

Tobacco use has also declined significantly between 2002, in which 2% of Americans reported regular cigarette use, and 2013, in which 21.3% indicated being a current cigarette smoker.

Encouragingly, the number of teenage smokers has declined between 2002 and 2013 from 13% to 5.6%.

The Monitoring the Future 2014’s survey, published by the National Institute on Drug Abuse indicates that drug use is on the decline amongst American teenagers across almost all categories of drugs (with the exception of marijuana, the use of which has stayed level from previous surveys).

From alcohol to painkillers, cigarettes to inhalants, teens are partaking in less substance abuse than previous generations.

However, this downward trend is countered by the rapid rise of e-cigarette use and a growing perception of marijuana as a less harmful substance. The Monitoring the Future survey reported that of 8th graders surveyed, 8.7% had used e-cigarettes in the past month, a percentage that only increases with each grade level up to 17.1% of 12th graders. 22.9% of 12th graders also indicated hookah use within the preceding year.

Despite the apparent decline of substance use in certain categories and demographics, a “treatment gap” persists for those suffering from addiction and substance dependence/abuse. While 8.6% Americans required professional care for substance abuse, only 0.9% obtained specialized treatment.

A recent Kaiser Family Foundation study found that “a majority of Americans say that lack of access to care for people with substance abuse issues is a problem (75 percent), including 58 percent who say it is a major problem.”

Emerging Trends and Opiate Addiction

The landscape of heroin addiction in the US has transformed over the past decades. Migrating from urban to suburban areas, lower income to more affluent neighborhoods, the profile of a heroin addict has changed from that of poor, urban, male and black users to predominantly white addicts of whom half are now women.

According to Theodore Cicero of Washington University in St Louis, first-time heroin users are typically in their mid-20s whereas decades ago, first-time users were generally around 16 years old. Between 2007 and 2013, heroin use has increased dramatically, from 370,000 to 680,000 users.

Similar patterns observed in the market for prescription painkillers like OxyContin mirror the rise of heroin addiction in recent years. The 1990s witnessed an increase in the accessibility to prescription painkillers that created a wave of addiction, surpassing the collective use of illicit drugs such as cocaine, ecstasy, LSD and methamphetamines.

In 2012, 16,000 deaths were caused by painkillers. However, medical professionals are working to combat the oversupply of prescription painkillers in the market. For example, OxyContin pills are now being manufactured in such a way that “when crushed, turn into a gloop that cannot easily be snorted or dissolved for injection”.

Foreign markets are responding to the increased American demand for heroin. Despite Afghanistan’s status as the main producer of opium globally, Mexico is America’s main supplier. Plus, Mexican heroin is cheaper than that imported from Asia or Columbia. Domestic politics also have an important function; as Mexico reorients its resources to combat primarily urban, organized crime, poppy farming goes unchecked in rural regions, thus allowing opium production to flourish.

Since Marijuana is still the most popular drug used in the US and nowadays, since many states have legalized cannabis for medical consumption or just plain legalized it, demand for Mexican marijuana is on the decline. Opium, therefore, provides a lucrative market. Moreover, heroin manufacturing has responded to users’ preferences. Brown heroin is more easily smoked or snorted and offers an alternative to the injection, rending heroin more accessible and perhaps, perceptibly less threatening.

Addiction and Overdose

The NY Times reported in early 2016 that the United States has seen a marked increase in the number of deaths from drug overdose, primarily propelled by heroin and prescription drugs.

Deaths from overdoses today are comparable to those of HIV in the 1980s and 1990s. Though deaths from HIV spiked more rapidly, Robert Anderson, CDC chief of morality statistics, has emphasized that unlike HIV, death from drug overdoses is not as localized to metropolitan areas and actually is beginning to occur with more frequency in rural regions.

Certain regions and states are experiencing the impact of opiate overdoses more acutely than others are. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the Southwest and Appalachia regions are the most affected in the United States. West Virginia has the highest number of deaths caused by overdose in the United States. In Appalachia, deaths caused by overdose are arguably connected to the use of prescription painkillers amongst particular populations of the blue-collar workforce. According to the West Virginia University School of Medicine’s director of addiction services, Dr. Carl R. Sullivan, III, this population is more likely to experience injuries on the job, which result in the initial prescription to combat chronic pain, a notion deemed “unacceptable” by pharmaceutical companies in the mid-1990s. Despite laws to combat abuse of such medications, those addicted to painkillers adopted heroin use.

Due to a fundamental lack of resources to administer treatment services and programs, deaths from overdose continue unchecked. State by state discrepancies in access to treatment and expenditures for such treatment also becoming more apparent. For example, in New Hampshire, overdose of opiates, mostly connected to fentanyl, caused 326 deaths in 2014. However, Timothy R. Rouke, New Hampshire’s chairman for the Governor’s Commission on Alcohol and Drug Abuse, cites that his state spends less per capita than all other states minus Texas in providing the necessary treatment services.

In other states, like New Mexico, deaths from heroin overdoses have persisted since the 1990s; so much that opiate addiction is almost akin to a hereditary disease.

According to the executive director of the nonprofit organization Healing Addiction in Our Community, Jennifer Weiss-Burke, heroin addiction is seemingly passed down from one generation to the next as “a way of life.”

Furthermore, Weiss-Burke has noticed that the younger generations are more difficult to treat. Some prove unwilling to get sober and “end up cycling through treatment or end up in jail.” Weiss-Burke further articulates that “when you go right back to the same environment, it’s hard to stay clean… Heroin craving continues to haunt a person for years.”

In 2014, abuse of opioids accounted for over 61% of overdose deaths,which has tripled since 2014 according to the New York Time. Almost more troubling is the rise of fentanyl, for which a greater amount of naloxene is required to resuscitate an overdose victim as compared to a heroin overdose. Naxolene is also used to reverse other opioid drug overdoses and it is not specific to fentanyl.

Combating Prescription Drug and Heroin Use in the US

In March 2016, President Obama enunciated a multifaceted plan to enhance resources and treatment facilities and provide greater access to naloxene to address what has rapidly transformed into a “national epidemic”. The Obama administration has thus far appealed for $1.1 billion to fund these new measures aimed at reducing opioid overdoses.

President Obama articulated that as the profile of heroin addiction has transformed in recent decades, experiencing a profound socioeconomic shift as discussed above, the widespread nature of current opioid addiction has altered public opinion. Heroin addiction is no longer an affliction solely of the urban poor and the result of moral failings.

The FDA has moved to strengthen warnings on immediate-release opioid prescription drugs to warn those taking these drugs about abuse and potential overdose. The FDA had previously subjected 34 brands of extended-release tablets to tougher labeling requirements back in 2013.

This time around, FDA Commissioner, Dr. Robert M. Califf, emphasized the enormity of this effort, and it will involve editing warning labels for 288 products. New Center for Diesease Control guidelines, though non-binding, will attempt to limit the prescription of opioid painkillers to cases in which no other appropriate option exists to mitigate pain.

Though the effectiveness of enhanced labeling of these drugs is perhaps debatable, Bruce Psaty at the University of Washington in Seattle emphasized that this “should help improve prescribing practices in the near term”. Thus, the new warnings and guidelines remain an integral part of a revitalized national campaign to combat drug addiction and opioid dependency.

This article is presented in partnership with AddictionWise.

AddictionWise is an online platform that helps family members manage the stress and difficulties of addiction in a loved one.

If you or someone you know is struggling with an addicted family member, see how AddictionWise can help.

 

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We spend a lot of time prepping for the arrival of a baby. But when it comes to the arrival of our breast milk (and all the massive adjustments that come with it), it's easy to be caught off guard. Stocking up on a few breastfeeding essentials can make the transition to breastfeeding a lot less stressful, which means more time and energy focusing on what's most important: Your recovery and your brand new baby.

Here are the essential breastfeeding tools you'll need, mama:

1. For covering up: A cute nursing cover

First and foremost, please know that all 50 states in the United States have laws that allow women to breastfeed in public. You do not have to cover yourself if you don't want to—and many mamas choose not to—and we are all for it.

That said, if you do anticipate wanting to take a more modest approach to breastfeeding, a nursing cover is a must. You will find an array of styles to choose from, but we love an infinity scarf, like the LK Baby Infinity Nursing Scarf Nursing Cover. You'll be able to wear the nursing cover instead of stuffing it in your already brimming diaper bag—and it's nice to have it right there when the baby is ready to eat.

Also, in the inevitable event that your baby spits-up on you or you leak some milk through your shirt, having a quick and stylish way to cover up is a total #momwin.

2. For getting comfortable: A cozy glider

Having a comfy spot to nurse can make a huge difference. Bonus points if that comfy place totally brings a room together, like the Delta Children Paris Upholstered Glider!

Get your cozy space ready to go, and when your baby is here, you can retreat from the world and just nurse, bond, and love.

3. For unmatched support: A wire-free nursing bra

It may take trying on several brands to find the perfect match, but finding a nursing bra that you love is 100% worth the effort. Your breasts will be changing and working in ways that are hard to imagine. An excellent supportive bra will make this so much more comfortable.

It is crucial to choose a wireless bra for the first weeks of nursing since underwire can increase the risk of clogged ducts (ouch).The Playtex Maternity Shaping Foam Wirefree Nursing Bra is an awesome pick for this reason, and because it is designed to flex and fit your breasts as they go through all those changes.

4. For maximum hydration: A large reusable water bottle

Nothing can prepare you for the intense thirst that hits when breastfeeding. Quench that thirst (and help keep your milk supply up in the process) by always having a water bottle with a straw nearby, like this Exquis Large Outdoor Water Bottle.

5. For feeding convenience: A supportive nursing tank

Experts recommend that during the first weeks of your baby's life, you breastfeed on-demand, meaning that any time your tiny boss demands milk, you feed them. This will help establish your milk supply and get everything off to a good start.

What does this mean for your life? You will be breastfeeding A LOT. Nursing tanks, like the Loving Moments by Leading Lady, make this so much easier. They have built-in support to keep you comfy, and you can totally wear them around the house, or even out and about. When your baby wants to eat, you'll be able to quickly "pop out" a breast and feed them.

6. For pain prevention: A quality nipple ointment

Breastfeeding shouldn't hurt, but the truth is those first days can be uncomfortable. Your nipples will likely feel raw as they adjust to their new job. This will get better! But until it does, nipple ointment is amazing.

My favorite is the Earth Mama Organic Nipple Butter. We love that it's organic, and it is oh-so-soothing on your hard-at-work nipples.

Psst: If it actually hurts when your baby latches on, something may be up, so call your provider or a lactation consultant for help.

7. For uncomfortable moments: A dual breast therapy pack

As your breasts adjust to their new role, you may experience a few discomforts—applying warmth or cold can help make them feel so much better. The Lansinoh TheraPearl 3-in-1 Breast Therapy Pack is awesome because you can microwave the pads or put them in the freezer, giving you a lot of options when your breasts need some TLC.

Again, if you have any concerns about something being wrong (pain, a bump that may be red or hot, fever, or anything else), call a professional right away.

8. For inevitable leaks: An absorbing breast pad

In today's episode of, "Oh come on, really?" you are going to leak breastmilk. Now, this is entirely natural and you are certainly not required to do anything about this. Still, many moms choose to wear breast pads in their bras to avoid leaking through to their shirts.

You can go the convenient and disposable route with Lansinoh Disposable Stay Dry Nursing Pads, or for a more environmentally friendly option, you can choose washable pads, like these Organic Bamboo Nursing Breast Pads.

9. For flexibility: A breast pump

Many women find that a breast pump becomes one of their most essential mom-tools. The ability to provide breast milk when you are away from your baby (and relieve uncomfortable engorged breasts) will add so much flexibility into your new-mom life.

For quick trips out and super-easy in-your-bag transport, opt for a manual pump like the Lansinoh Manual Breast Pump .

If you will be away from your baby for longer periods of time (traveling or working outside the home, for example) an electric pump is your most efficient bet. The Medela Pump In Style Advanced Double Electric Breast Pump is a classic go-to that will absolutely get the job done, and then some.

10. For quality storage: Breast milk bags

Once you pump your liquid gold, aka breast milk, you'll need a place to store it. The Kiinde Twist Pouches allow you to pump directly into the bags which means one less step (and way less to clean).

11. For keeping cool: A freezer bag

Transport your pumped milk back home to your baby safely in a cooler like the Mommy Knows Best Breast Milk Baby Bottle Cooler Bag. Remember to put the milk in a fridge or freezer as soon as you can to optimize how long it stays usable for.

12. For continued nourishment: Bottles

Nothing beats the peace of mind you get when you know that your baby is being well-taken of care—and well fed—until you can be together again. The Philips Avent Natural Baby Bottle Newborn Starter Gift Set is a fan favorite (mama and baby fans alike).

This article is sponsored by Walmart. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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Motherly is committed to covering all relevant presidential candidate plans as we approach the 2020 election. We are making efforts to get information from all candidates. Motherly does not endorse any political party or candidate. We stand with and for mothers and advocate for solutions that will reduce maternal stress and benefit women, families and the country.

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A viral video about car seat safety has parents everywhere cracking up and humming Sir-Mix-A-Lot.

"I like safe kids and I cannot lie," raps Norman Regional Health System pediatric hospitalist Dr. Kate Cook (after prefacing her music video with an apology to her children."I'm a doctor tryin' warn you that recs have changed," she continues.

Dr. Cook's rap video is all about the importance of keeping babies facing backward. It's aptly called "Babies Face Back," and uses humor and parody to drive home car seat recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

"Switching from rear-facing to forward-facing is a milestone many parents can't wait to reach," Dr. Cook said in a news release about her hilarious video. "But this is one area where you want to delay the transition as long as possible because each one actually reduces the protection to the child."

Last summer the AAP updated its official stance on car seat safety to be more in line with what so many parents were already doing and recommended that kids stay rear-facing for as long as possible. But with so many things to keep track of in life, it is understandable that some parents still don't know about the change. Dr. Cook wants to change that with some cringe-worthy rapping.

The AAP recommends:

  • Babies and toddlers should ride in a rear-facing car safety seat as long as possible, until they reach the highest weight or height allowed by their seat.
  • Once they are facing forward, children should use a forward-facing car safety seat with a harness for as long as possible. Many seats are good up to 65 pounds.
  • When children outgrow their car seat they should use a belt-positioning booster seat until the vehicle's lap and shoulder seat belt fits properly, between 8 and 12 years old.

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[Editor's note: Motherly is committed to covering all relevant presidential candidate plans as we approach the 2020 election. We are making efforts to get information from all candidates. Motherly does not endorse any political party or candidate. We stand with and for mothers and advocate for solutions that will reduce maternal stress and benefit women, families and the country.]

Suicide rates for girls and women in the United States have increased 50% since 2000, according to the CDC and new research indicates a growing number of pregnant and postpartum women are dying by suicide and overdose. Suicide rates for boys and men are up, too.

It's clear there is a mental health crisis in America and it is robbing children of their mothers and mothers of their children.

Medical professionals urge people to get help early, but sometimes getting help is not so simple. For many Americans, the life preserver that is mental health care is out of reach when they are drowning.

Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg just released a plan he hopes could change that and says the neglect of mental health in the United States must end. "Our plan breaks down the barriers around mental health and builds up a sense of belonging that will help millions of suffering Americans heal," says Buttigieg.

He thinks he can "prevent 1 million deaths of despair by 2028" by giving Americans more access to mental health and addictions services.

In a country where giving birth can put a mother in debt, it's not surprising that while as many as 1 in 5 new moms suffers from perinatal mood and anxiety disorders, more than half of new moms who need mental health treatment don't get it. Stigma, childcare and of course costs are factors in why women aren't seeking help when they are struggling.

Buttigieg's plan is interesting because it could remove some of these barriers. He wants to make mental health care more affordable by ensuring everyone has comprehensive coverage for mental health care and by ensuring that everyone can access a free yearly mental health check-up.

That could make getting help more affordable for some moms, and by increasing reimbursement rates for mental health care delivered through telehealth, this plan could help moms get face time with a medical professional without having to deal with finding childcare first.

Estimates from new research suggest that in some parts of America as many as 14% or 30% of maternal deaths are caused by addiction or suicide. Buttigieg's plan aims to reduce those estimates by fighting the addiction and opioid crisis and increasing access to mental health services in underserved communities and for people of color. He also wants to reduce the stigma and increase support for the next generation by requiring "every school across the country to teach Mental Health First Aid courses."

These are lofty goals with a lofty price tag. It would cost about $300 billion to do what Buttigieg sets out in his plan and the specifics of how the plan would be funded aren't yet known. Neither is how voters will react to this 18-page plan and whether it will help Buttigieg stand out in a crowded field of Democratic candidates.

What we do know is that right now, America is talking about mental health and whether or not that benefits Buttigieg's campaign it will certainly benefit America.

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[Editor's Note: Welcome to It's Science, a Motherly column focusing on evidence-based explanations for the important moments, milestones, and phenomena of motherhood. Because it's not just you—#itsscience.]

If you breastfeed, you know just how magical (and trying) it is, but it has numerous benefits for mama and baby. It is known to reduce the likelihood of developing cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and rheumatoid arthritis, and cuts the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) by half.

If this wasn't powerful enough, scientists have discovered that babies who are fed breast milk have a stomach pH that promotes the formation of HAMLET (Human Alpha-lactalbumin Made Lethal to Tumor cells). HAMLET was discovered by chance when researchers were studying the antibacterial properties of breast milk. This is a combination of proteins and lipids found in breast milk that can work together to kill cancer cells, causing them to pull away from healthy cells, shrink and die, leaving the healthy cells unaffected.

According to researchers at Lund University in Sweden, this mechanism may contribute to the protective effect breast milk has against pediatric tumors and leukemia, which accounts for about 30% of all childhood cancer. Other researchers analyzed 18 different studies, finding that "14% to 19% of all childhood leukemia cases may be prevented by breastfeeding for six months or more."

And recently, doctors in Sweden collaborated with scientists in Prague to find yet another amazing benefit to breast milk. Their research demonstrated that a certain milk sugar called Alpha1H, found only in breast milk, helps in the production of lactose and can transform into a different form that helps break up tumors into microscopic fragments in the body.

Patients who were given a drug based on this milk sugar, rather than a placebo, passed whole tumor fragments in their urine. And there is more laboratory evidence to support that the drug can kill more than 40 different types of cancer cells in animal trials, including brain tumors and colon cancer. These results are inspiring scientists to continue to explore HAMLET as a novel approach to tumor therapy and make Alpha1H available to cancer patients.

Bottom line: If you choose to breastfeed, the breast milk your baby gets from your hard work can be worth every drop of effort.

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