Facts about the Opioid Problem in Atlanta
If you haven’t heard about the heroin and opioid crisis in your subdivision or neighborhood yet, then consider yourself lucky. It’s everywhere and it’s spreading.
In 2015, heroin and opioid drugs killed more people in counties inside ‘The Triangle’ than murders and car accidents combined in 2015. That is a statistic you can’t look away from. Overall in the past 7 years, heroin-related deaths have gone up almost 4000% in Fulton, Dekalb, Cobb and Gwinnett Counties. Death it seems has come to the burbs and most of these deaths occurred in Atlanta’s northern wealthy suburbs.
“Ninety percent of the people who initiate heroin use are white males between the ages of 18 and 25,” says Kevin Baldwin, an author of a new study focused on the opioid problem in Atlanta. “In more affluent areas, people are starting [even] younger.”
Sadly for many families of these new addicts, they were regular kids from average families with no obvious clues that they were at risk for addiction. Growing up they were teenagers engaged in community and sports but somehow, someway opioids were introduced and everything changed. Don’t be fooled, these drugs aren’t like the ones in the 1970s that we remember. The increased quality and strength of these latest drugs make addiction (or sadly even death) after one use easily possible. Regular kids can become addicts overnight.
Locally 11Alive and AJC have covered the problem:
How Did It Begin?
Purdue Frederick the makers of Oxycontin, an opioid prescribed drug for pain came onto the market in 1996. They did a huge campaign getting the word out at pain conferences. Their next step was a reward system that gave doctors a $3K bonus for successfully sharing their stories. And it just kept growing from there.
Doctors have always known that certain pain medications were addictive, however, there were strict limits on who was allowed to receive them, for example only terminal cancer patients were recipients at one time. But the makers of these opioids (Oxy) insisted this was different. By the year 2000, 70,000 physicians were on board prescribing it. No longer was it illegal to help people with their “pain”.
By 2011, addiction specialists were trying to fight the cresting tide. It was too late.
Within the next several years, the cost of prescription painkillers would reach $18 billion annually in the US. There would be 92,000 opioid poisoning visits to hospital emergency rooms at a national cost of about $1.4 billion, and nearly 19,000 overdose deaths.
The facts started to come in. A study in the UK showed that people were worse off after 6 months of being on Oxycontin. Similar studies in other countries showed the same. Opioids are addictive because it retrains the brain the threshold of happiness to where you only feel normal being on it. And to go off of it makes you depressed. From there the gateway to heroin is simple.
Fact: Those addicted to prescription opiates like oxycodone are 40 times more likely to develop a heroin abuse problem. Oxycodone is a pain-relieving drug that is prescribed frequently to address moderate to severe pain.
The Good News
Today every doctor in Georgia must get training on proper prescribing of opioids under a rule approved very recently by the Georgia Composite Medical Board.
I would actually say if there is any addiction in your background, to absolutely refuse going on an opioid, even under a hospital situation. Once your body is on it, it’s so hard to get off. It’s not worth it.
Colleges are a new breeding ground for potential addicts.
The deadly opioid epidemic sweeping the country has largely spared college campuses, but drug abuse experts warn administrators they should be paying closer attention.
“This is a time when young adults have more access to substances than ever before and have more economic leverage and legal protections,” said Dr. Joseph Lee, medical director for the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation Youth Continuum in Minnesota.
Want to learn more about the opioid problem in Atlanta? Coming up in Woodstock is an open forum on Monday October 2nd addressing the growing problem in Cherokee County.
Thanks for reading. If opioids has affected you or your families life and you are looking for counseling in Roswell, GA please contact me.
Which came first? The insomnia or the depression?
There has now been an established link between insomnia and depression! A comorbidity between not sleeping and mental issues. Recent evidence suggests that people with insomnia have a ten-fold risk of developing depression compared with those who sleep well. In other words, there is a close relationship between insomnia, depression, and anxiety.
Looking for a Roswell Therapist?
“About three-quarters of depressed patients have insomnia symptoms, and hypersomnia is present in about 40% of depressed young adults and 10% of older patients, with a preponderance of females. The symptoms cause huge distress, have a major impact on quality of life, and are a strong risk factor for suicide. As well as the subjective experience of sleep symptoms, there are well-documented changes in objective sleep architecture in depression. Mechanisms of sleep regulation and how they might be disturbed in depression are discussed. The sleep symptoms are often unresolved by treatment and confer a greater risk of relapse and recurrence. Epidemiological studies have pointed out that insomnia in nondepressed subjects is a risk factor for later development of depression. There is, therefore, a need for more successful management of sleep disturbance in depression, to improve the quality of life in these patients and reduce an important factor in depressive relapse and recurrence.”
Recognize the Signs
A need for successful management of sleep disturbance is a solution and awareness is the first step.
The symptons of poor sleep include the following:
- Waking up tired
- More easily frustrated on projects
- Less patient with others
- Slower reflexes
- Lower creativity
The benefits of a good sleep (in addition to improved mental health) are:
- Waking up refreshed
- More patience with others and ourselves
- Ability to focus for longer periods of time
“The battle is won the night before.”
- Don’t get beat up if you don’t go to bed early. Try again the next day.
- See if you can do two nights in a row going to bed at a reasonable time. Then shoot for three nights.
- Turn off screens at least an hour before bed. Get into your pajamas, make some tea. Get some good books to read in bed as you wind down.
- Stay away from caffeine after 5. (this includes sweet tea, my southern friends!)
- Reward yourself for recovery. Give yourself a treat as a goal (as long as it’s not a late night watching of a program).
“A failure to plan is a plan to fail.”
Staying awake at night can be like a drug, an addiction, which creates a circle for issues like depression. Some clients feel bad focusing on themselves instead of their loves ones, I encourage them not to feel guilty about addressing their needs. Self-care is a form of self-love, and the better we love ourselves, the better we can even help others.
Does Love Last?
Working as a national and local marriage counselor in Roswell, I get a lot of clients who ask this very question:
“Can we save our love? Does love last?”
The first thing we do before going any further is to seek to understand what they believe love is. Let’s make sure both parties are using the same deck of cards.
In Greek culture, love was defined into four categories or types, Eros, Phileo, Agape and Storge. The most common love portrayed in culture and media is Eros love. That is the ‘romantic love.’ It’s that love that feels like butterflies in your stomach when you see your “crush” walk into a room. It’s the love that can cause us to do strange or foolish things.
Eros Love ?
At first in dating, most love is Eros. It’s the sensual based neurological feelings in the brain. The technical name for this stage is limerance. Limerence is the natural, involuntary part of being in love with another person; many call it the honeymoon phase. This hormonal time has been studied and researched to last 6-24 months maximum.
After this what are you left with?
If you only think love is a feeling what happens when it’s dried up? Sadly this is how affairs begin. They don’t know about the next phase.
Agape Love !
The next stage of the love cycle, which we call ‘Agape love.’ when loyalty and admiration needs to be shared. Agape love is different because it’s unconditional and transcends all barriers.
“The essence of Agape love is goodwill, benevolence, and willful delight in the object of love.”
Do you admire your partner? Do you show them gratitude?
Awareness that love has moved into a second stage is eye opening for many couples; honestly, it’s not at all like what we see in the movies.
Cultivating these new attitudes will help your marriage last.
Try saying, “I am grateful that you did ______ this week”.
“You look _______ today”. It’s little gifts you are depositing into their love ATM.
Sadly, many people don’t go this route. Instead, they allow themselves to be controlled by their emotions. John Gottman, a nationally recognized clinical researcher of the attributes of love, finds ‘contempt, criticism, defensiveness and stonewalling,’ otherwise known as the ‘four horsemen of love’s apocalypse’ can set in at this time. He calls these attitudes the death toll of love.
What can you do today, to cultivate an atmosphere of Agape love with your spouse?
It’s a daily decision, and if you ask me, 100% worth it.
The Holiday Blues
No it’s not a song on Bruce Springsteen’s latest album. It’s an issue millions of people struggle with.
Did you know 2/3 of women report they are depressed around the holidays? (NWHRC Study)
I think this is due in part to expectations and internalizing that they are not meeting them. Every year women think, “this year, I will get it all done”. But then so quickly December 25th sneaks up and the time has passed. Part of getting out of this rut is giving yourself …
Grace to get up and try again.
Grace to say, “I can’t do it anything and it’s going to be okay” or grace to say, “ I will do a little bit and accept that it is enough”.
Grace that Christmas isn’t about looking “perfect” or acting “perfect” on social media.
Grace that Christmas is only about love.
And sharing love, even in small doses.
You would be surprised how good you will feel if you made 3 people smile today. Try it!
This is especially true if you know someone who suffers from depression, it isn’t necessarily your job to make them happy, but acknowledging that they matter and sharing a little encouragement can go a long way.
A solution to turning your holiday blues around is to not spend the entire time isolated if this is your struggle.
“Social isolation is one of the biggest predictors of depression, especially during the holidays. … People who have feelings of disconnectedness often avoid social interactions at holiday time. Unfortunately, withdrawing often makes the feelings of loneliness and symptoms of depression worse.“
Small doses of getting out and participating can give you a sense of accomplishment. Driving by some lights or attending a candle light service is enough.
Find some joy this holiday by giving joy. And if you can’t give joy because of where you are at…
It’s going to be okay.
Steve Brand, Roswell Therapist
As If Politics Will Make Us Happy
I get it. It’s hard. Every where you look, social media, the news, friends conversations are all holding out their hands to you, inviting you to join in the discussion of politics.
It’s sad really. It’s like the universe is walking around with a big marker and drawing imaginary lines everywhere.
But do we have to accept it?
What is the true price for picking a side?
The Spirit of This Age
Recently, John Elderedge wrote a post about the “Spirit of this Age”.
“Human beings are ravenous. A famished craving for life haunts every person. We crave fullness; it is our design. We were created for unceasing happiness, and joy, and life. But ever since we lost Eden, we have never known a day of total fullness. We are never filled in any lasting way. Human beings are like cut flowers—we appear to be well, but we are cut off from the Vine. And we are ravenous.”
People try to fill this hole with many things – politics, alcohol, relationships, self.
It’s a never filling hole.
Remarkably, you keep adding to it, thinking it will be better because you fed it.
But in fact, you wake up the next morning feeling guilty as ever.
John Elderedge elaborates that this dark hole is vicious,
“Spirits of Hatred, Violation and Violence have been released on the earth here in these last days. Paris, Brussels, Orlando, Dallas—how much more proof do we need? Hatred, Violation and Violence are sweeping the earth—and they find massive opportunity in humanity’s current condition. Someone (remember they are ravenous) feels violated; the spirit of Violation jumps all over it, and inflames it like gasoline on fire. Hatred joins in (like sharks smelling blood in the water); they feel hatred—they want to retaliate with a murderous rage. Thus Violence.”
Violence and danger lurks deep inside the human soul, ready to be flicked on.
They are emotions that lie to us, that tell us, if we let it out, we will feel better, we will feel more powerful.
But we don’t.
We feel ashamed and then we do it again, because the darkness is familiar. Sadly, the better way requires more of us. It requires us to not jump in.
To not wallow in the waters of “I must justify this, today, with my words, with my response”.
Jesus would not call us to fight anger with anger.
Jesus would not call us to respond to victims with swords nor blind eyes.
Jesus would call us to respond with one simple thing.
Love them anyways. They are mean? Love them. They are wrong? Love them.
Love conquers more than any well-written Facebook post.
Love conquers more than any gas tossing Molotov cocktail no matter how “proverbial” its essence.
Today, I encourage you to practice love as your response.
Steven D Brand is a coach, counselor, marriage therapist in Roswell, GA. He also travels the country and the world offering hope and direction with his retreat weekends focusing on Marriage and other tough subjects. He is accepting new clients in his office, call for an appointment 770-641-8726.
What is Codependency?
“It is an emotional and behavioral condition that affects an individual’s ability to have a healthy, mutually satisfying relationship. It is also known as “relationship addiction” because people with codependency often form or maintain relationships that are one-sided, emotionally destructive and abusive.”
In my practice, I have seen a lot of Codependence. It can be hard for a Codependent to accept their label. They have grown up or have learned to cope with life by taking care of others, to an extreme.
How to Spot Codependency?
They are the martyrs. They are the ones always cleaning up after the party. They are the ones smoothing over a narcissist’s consistently inappropriate behavior. They are one making excuses for others. They are the ones putting themselves last but everyone else first.
Can I be real? Codependents make great employees and church members. They will get the job done without setting boundaries for themselves.
Melodie Beattie authored the infamous, “Codependent No More”.
“Beattie’s view of codependency starts from the (counter-intuitive) premise that rescuing someone, in the sense of solving their problems for them, is a less benevolent act than it might at first seem. To avoid the destructive aspects of enabling in the guise of helping, she highlighted how “Co-dependents are caretakers – rescuers. They rescue, then they persecute, then they end up victimized”.”
How Do Codependents View the World?
They hold the constant thought that if someone else would change or do what they wanted, their lives would get better.
“If only __(insert name here)__ would ________, I would be better.”.
Or often say things like, “You make me feel ______.” “You are doing this to me _______.”
It’s the confidence that they must fix others, and that the boundaries between others and themselves are non-existent.
Steps to Fix Codependency
1) Acknowledge it. How often does your mind (or even prayers) quickly turn to solving other people’s issues?
2) Learn about it. The more you know how codependence manifests, the easier you will be able to see yourself heading down the road. A therapist familiar with codependence can be amazingly insightful. For example, how did you end up this way, why do you continue to seek out relationships with those who use your codependency to their benefit?
3) Find a support group and try at least 6 meetings. Al-Anon and CODA are two great support groups for dealing with co-dependence. (Al-Anon only asks that you have a family or friend that is/was an alcoholic. That covers about 90% of the population right there). Many times a parent or spouse was an alcoholic at one time, but the effects are there even 10-30 years later.
4) Read the literature from a support group and make it part of your daily reading.
5) Work the steps or program with a sponsor or therapist.
6) Learn to take care of yourself. What are your needs and desires? It’s called self-care (this is not a selfish choice, codependents have to practice on finding fulfillment for themselves). Examples include: do things you like, get your nails done, read something you want to read, go to eat where you like to eat. Hang out with your friends and enjoy other’s company simply by being you. Don’t keep trying to solve their problems for them.
7) Understand that ignoring codependence will one day lead to extremely low levels of self-esteem.
Want to come and talk with a therapist in Roswell about Codependence? Call Psychotherapist Steve Roswell at 770-641-8726. Offices are conveniently located in Historic Downtown Roswell, GA.
Restoration of the Heart
Weekend at North River Church of Christ
In March of this year, a group of us from Marietta, Georgia flew to Colorado Springs, Colorado. Our goal was to attend a conference headed by two very influential Christian speakers whose main focus is ‘the healing of man’s heart’, John Elderdge, American Counselor and Author of the best seller “Wild at Heart” and prominent Christian therapist Dan Allender who specializes in trauma recovery and is also a professor. The name of the conference was “Restoration of the Heart“.
We saw the amazing transformation of hearts in the audience in Colorado; and we all mutually agreed halfway through how beneficial it would be to bring this gift back to our friends in Atlanta.
We called our Atlanta based event, Restoration of the Heart Workshop. A two-day focus on each person’s heart and that an intentional wrestling of each person’s unique story and subsequent wounds so that a fresh healing could take place.
Outline for Restoration of the Heart
Acknowledging and recognizing the following:
1) Your Story Matters
Each person has their own unique journey and their own unique wounds.
2) Your Wounds Matter
As much as we try to cover up our pain, and tell ourselves it wasn’t such a big deal, it really is, to God that is. God cares that we have pain.
3) Your Healing Matters
Wounds + Satans lies
You’ve made with the enemy
Agreements with the enemy for example are:
“I messed up XXX, therefore I will never be good at YYY so I shouldn’t even try.” “I don’t deserve a new chapter in my life, so I will not even hope or pray for it.”
Beginning Recovery / The Healing
Step 1.) Writing your story (600-800 words) begins the healing of the brain from damage caused by trauma, addresses wounds that have made you vulnerable to lies, so you can isolate agreements you’ve made with the enemy
Step 2.) Invite Jesus into your wounds by praying with authority against those agreements.
Step 3.) Seek professional help if you get stuck.
Step 4) Find healing in the cross, the blood of Christ and the power of the resurrection!
The feedback from the event was incredible. Since we were unable to accept all who wanted to make the event (seating was limited). A second event will be planned soon to reach those who wish to see real change in their lives recovering from past pains.
Steve Brand is a psychotherapist with over 25,000 clinical hours and travel the United States for Marriage Crisis Counseling. He has a marriage counseling practice in Historic Roswell and is accepting new clients .
Have you considered your worth lately?
Our worth is not based on what we do, which life path we choose, or what we believe. Our worth is inherent in the fact that we are image bearers of the living God. Our worth is based on the fact that we are alive. We are human beings. Our worth is immeasurable.
Do you believe this?
Where do people tend to get their self worth today?
Jon Acuff, NY Best Seller, said recently in Facebook Live Video, “you are enough.” Jon explained, “Sometimes we fall into this trap because we start to comparing what we are doing to what other people are doing. You see the internet is really fascinating, we’ve always struggled with the idea that that the grass is greener is on the other side of the fence. But now because of social media we have access to 10 million backyards, we have a lot of fences we can look over at and go ‘wow their life is perfect, mine isn’t’”.
Consider who holds your measuring stick.
Is it your social circle?
Is it your workplace peers?
Is it your friends at church?
Letting others decide our value may feel rewarding in the short term. But what happens when we disappoint them (trust me that day will come)? What happens when someone or thing catches their attention and they no longer hold us up as a hero. Are we somehow of lesser value?
This is the dangerous path we can walk on when we allow ourselves to defined by others instead of by God.
Comparison is the stealer of joy.
The slippery slope is then we find other ways to feel good when we don’t have that status and this sadly is how we find ourselves filling our emptiness with “things” like alcohol, drugs, shopping, binge watching or “martyrdom”. Yes we can even look for fulfillment in ‘feeling needed’ by others, which in some cases becomes codependence.
The real answer is within us. It is something we have carried since we ourselves were in the womb. And that is that God has given us value. To God we are his children; with all our faults he loves us still.
For 2016, I am encouraging my clients to internalize positive affirmations.
Start feeling better today by saying to yourself when you are driving to work, brushing your teeth or heading off to bed at night.
“I have value”
“God cares what I think”
“He loves me every second of every day”
“I am never alone”
God knew you before you were born and you are worth it.
Steven D Brand is a counselor, psychotherapist in Roswell, GA. He also travels the country and the world offering hope and direction with his retreat weekends focusing on Marriage and other tough subjects. He is accepting new clients in his office, call for an appointment 770-641-8726.
Roswell Therapist Steven D Brand LSW, MSW recently took a trip to Africa this past March 2016. Steve’s mission was to share with the people in several churches of Africa, various tools that could strengthen their relationships and individual mental health.
1) Why did you take the trip? What were you hoping to accomplish?
To teach, preach and counsel with members of the Accra, Ghana churches. My goal was to give to the extent that when we got back on the plane to Atlanta, we would be exhausted. We succeeded.
2. Did you meet your goals? How?
Yes, we did a lot of marriage counseling, taught staff and regional leaders. On one combined midweek service, we presented a couples workshop. I also taught a personal mental health seminar. Finally, I preached at a Sunday service. The ministers gave us their most challenging marriage scenarios to counsel. My wife and I gave and gave until we were spent.
3. What was the most surprising thing about the trip that you didn’t expect to happen?
There was a palpable hunger and thirst for our unique perspective. The response of the people was overwhelmingly positive and grateful. We were meeting massive unmet needs with skills that other typical out of town guests just didn’t have to offer.
4. What mindset should people have when visiting Africa? What mindset should people not have when visiting?
Go to give, serve & work. Don’t judge Africa by Western standards.
5. Summarize people’s responses to your visit.
Gratitude. Move here. Come back as soon as possible.
6. Will you return? And if so what will you do differently?
We will go back, maybe to live; but at the very least 2-3x per year.
Certainly next time we will have multiple appointments with folks, for maximum impact and change.
We Rise By Lifting Others Up and the Science of Happiness
Did you know giving is good for you?
A 2006 study by J. Moll at the National Institute for Health found that when people give to charities it lights up the brain in regions associated with pleasure, creating a “warm glow” effect.
We have known for quite a while that exercising is good for you and creates positive chemical changes in the brain. It’s encouraging to have hard data that altruistic behavior also has a similar effect. The old adage of helping others and you help yourself is scientific truth!
People can find happiness and STAY happy if they create the right mental playing field. It has become a goal of mine in my practice of helping others to achieve this state. Helping others can be one way to get there. We all have our gifts. If you use your talents to help others you would be surprised at all the benefits you get back.
Conversely being in a state of negativity begets more negativity
Neural pathways are created and then strengthened by repetition; emotionally the result is an inclination of our resting mental state.
Author of Psych Pedia, Steven Parton explains how these closer synapses result in a generally more pessimistic outlook: “Through repetition of thought, you’ve brought the pair of synapses that represent your [negative] proclivities closer and closer together, and when the moment arises for you to form a thought…the thought that wins is the one that has less distance to travel, the one that will create a bridge between synapses fastest.” Gloom soon outraces positivity.
Anger, in a way can become a sickness, a brooding, a drug of the mind. I encourage my clients to work at reducing their anger and negativity. The more you work at it, the more happy thoughts you have, naturally.
“Life is Painful, Suffering is Optional”
We all have our devastating challenges, death, divorce, separations, diseases, and addictions; being human we are all subjected to such events. However the mind is a powerful tool that we can use for own good.
There is joy in lifting others up. I encourage you to think deeply on this. When you are open to helping others I have seen time and time again, providently provided, the right tool for the right job suddenly at your disposal.
Currently I am on trips to serve in Africa and Virginia. Traveling is naturally tiring in some respects, but it fuels me up as I am encouraged seeing others experience growth.
So for today, I encourage you think about what you could do to help others. And then go ahead and do it.
Steve Brand, LCSW, ACSW, MSW/MPH, PC
Steven D. Brand – Psychotherapy Atlanta / Roswell GA
981 Canton Street
Building 12, Suite 215
Roswell, GA 30075