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Covid-19 and the Opioid Crisis

Covid-19 and the Opioid Crisis

For the last two years, it seems like all we hear about in medical news is covid, covid, covid. Rightfully so. The pandemic has changed everything, and it’s shown no signs of going away, although we are in a slowdown for now. Today, we’re taking a look at covid-19 and the opioid crisis.

With the covid-19 pandemic being a worldwide crisis, other medical epidemics have taken a backseat in the public interest. But covid-19 hasn’t made other health crises go away, it’s simply overshadowed it. The opioid crisis is one crisis that has not only continued but increased significantly since the pandemic started. 

How Covid-19 has Fueled the Opioid Epidemic

The year 2019 saw 70,630 opioid overdose deaths in the United States. As if that number isn’t frightening enough, the number of opioid overdose deaths after the pandemic hit US shores will send chills down your spine. An estimated 104,288 people died from opioid overdose by September 2021. That’s more than a 25 percent increase in just over a year and a half. Mississippi was predicted to suffer around 682 opioid deaths in 2021.

So what’s the reason behind the worsening opioid crisis? Unfortunately, we can’t point to just one cause for the crisis, which is considered an epidemic. Lost jobs and livelihood along with restricted access to mental healthcare during the pandemic are major factors for many people turning to opioids to cope. As depression and anxiety caused by the pandemic continue to increase, many patients are choosing to self-medicate instead of seeking professional help.

The battle between law enforcement agencies and drug cartels has also been impacted. The pandemic gave an unexpected edge to transnational criminal organizations, also known as cartels. These organizations have adapted to the pandemic faster than law enforcement agencies making access to illegal drugs easier.

What We Can Do to Fight the Opioid Crisis

The first step is to accept that addiction is a disease. The good news is, classifying addiction as a disease gives medical experts the ability to study the disease and develop a successful treatment. However, providers have experienced significant challenges in treating addiction patients in the midst of a pandemic.

Due to a high risk of covid-19 transmission between patients at in-patient facilities, providers have turned to outpatient treatment to help addicts. Telehealth and other resources are being used to keep in line with social distancing guidelines. But some patients are so severe that in-patient treatment is necessary. Unfortunately, labor shortages have also lowered the availability of in-patient services. 

Despite these challenges, addiction patients still have hope. Outpatient treatment can work if patients follow the treatment plan and advice given by their provider. Addiction treatment specialists are working harder than ever to help patients achieve sobriety. 

Mantachie Rural Health Care offers mental health and addiction services through our mental health specialists. If you or someone you know is battling addiction, reach out to us now to make an appointment. Request a visit at www.mantachieclinic.org/contact-us/ or call 662-282-4226. 

Healthy Boundaries in Recovery

Boundaries are important in any relationship, but they become especially important when you are in recovery from addiction or other mental health conditions. Today, we’re taking a look at the importance of healthy boundaries in recovery and how to set and enforce them. 

What are Healthy Boundaries?

Boundaries are physical, mental, and emotional limits set to protect yourself and others in a relationship. They help us define who we are while allowing others to be who they are. Boundaries also keep you from being taken advantage of or manipulated. 

Boundaries, like anything else, can be unhealthy. Unhealthy boundaries may include abandoning your personal beliefs or values for acceptance, establishing new relationships without considering how they will affect your recovery, and trusting no one or everyone. Knowing the difference between healthy boundaries and unhealthy boundaries is essential to maintaining your recovery. 

Healthy boundaries basically look like the opposite of unhealthy boundaries. Healthy boundaries include:

  • Carefully evaluating the benefits and drawbacks of each relationship
  • Maintaining your personal beliefs and values regardless of other’s opinions
  • Saying no to gifts, favors, and actions that do not support your recovery
  • Clearly and respectfully expressing what you need or want
  • Developing appropriate trust with others
  • Treating yourself with respect and kindness

Now that you know what healthy boundaries look like it’s time to set the boundaries you need and implement them. Key emphasis on the implementation of these boundaries. Boundaries do no good if you don’t enforce them. Setting and enforcing boundaries looks like this:

  • Establishing a self “bill of rights” such as a right to your own thoughts, emotions, values, and beliefs and right to express how you want to be treated
  • Identifying sobriety risk factors including obvious ones like avoiding a bar if you are an alcoholic and less obvious triggers like watching a football game with friends
  • Setting the boundaries based of your bill of rights and recovery risk factors
  • Enforcing the boundaries and remaining accountable
  • Respecting other people’s boundaries

Need more support in  your addiction recovery? We can help. Call 662-282-4226 to schedule a visit. 

Suicide Prevention and Opioid Recovery

Suicide Prevention and Opioid Recovery

Statistics paint a bleak picture when it comes to suicide and addiction. A Psychology Today article cites drug and alcohol abuse as the second most common risk factor for suicide. One in three people who take their own life are under the influence of drugs. Poisoning composes the third-leading method of suicide and three-fourths of those deaths by poisoning use drugs. The article points to drug or alcohol abuse as the leading indicator of suicide risk over depression or mental illness. For true suicide prevention, we must support opioid and addiction recovery.

Links between suicide attempts and addiction include depression resulting from an inability to fight an addiction, the loss of relationships due to addiction and the use of drugs and alcohol to mask mental illness. Persons who abuse drugs may also have lowered inhibitions and show a readiness to take more risks. 

Addiction Recovery Key to Suicide Prevention

Treatment for opioid addiction addresses not only the known addiction but also the mental illnesses and mental trauma triggering the addiction or depression caused by the addiction. Opioid and addiction recovery are key to suicide prevention, but it’s important for addicts and family members to expect a holistic approach to drug treatment. Managing both underlying mental illnesses and addiction improves an addicts chances at recovery and reduces the risk for suicide. 

When an addict seeks treatment, family, friends and their medical team should ask the hard questions “have you considered or attempted suicide or are you considering suicide?”. Asking the hard question does not give your loved one ideas about suicide, but rather opens a conversation about an otherwise stigmatized subject. 

Signs to Know

Not every person considering suicide shows signs of depression. Often family and friends piece together signs of a loved one’s suicide plan after the fact. Because of the increased risk of suicide related to drug addiction, it’s imperative for the addict to seek treatment and for friends and family to ask the hard questions. 

Signs a person is considering suicide include:

  • Talking about wanting to die
  • Increasing drug or alcohol use
  • Talking about feeling trapped
  • Displaying increased anger or rage
  • Talking about not wanting to be a burden to others
  • Behaving recklessly
  • Sleeping less or more
  • Isolating themselves

If someone you know is talking about suicide, whether they have an addition or not:

  • Ask them if they plan to commit suicide.
  • Listen without judgement.
  • Remove objects that could be used for suicide
  • Stay with the person or leave them in the care of someone else while you get help.
  • Call the suicide prevention hotline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
  • Call 9-1-1 if self-harm is imminent.

Parents, spouses, children and friends of addicts worry about overdoses and violence involving their loved one. Suicide adds another line to the worry. Treatment isn’t just about the addiction but about healing behavioral and mental health issues contributing to or caused by the addiction.

If you or someone you love is struggling with opioid or addiction recovery and suicide prevention, call our behavioral health clinic at 662-282-4359 for an appointment or in case of a medical emergency call 9-1-1.

Teen Drug Use and Abuse Lowest in Two Decades

Teen Drug Use and Abuse Lowest in Two Decades

In a bit of good news, teen drug use and abuse is holding steady at the lowest levels in two decades! We’re excited to Gen Z leading healthier lifestyles that don’t involve alcohol, drugs, or tobacco. Just because more teens than ever are choosing to avoid drugs doesn’t mean the issue has completely gone away. Parents of teens must continue to be aware of the most commonly used drugs by teens and attentive to their teen’s behavior.

Every generation has a drug of choice, usually due to ease of access and sometimes media popularity. Gen Z’s no different. According to a Monitoring the Future survey of teens about drug use, the following substances topped the list of most commonly used and abused drugs.


Although alcohol use among teens has declined steadily since 1980, it remains the most commonly used and abused substance. The majority of adults who enter treatment programs for alcohol abuse began drinking before age 17. Currently, 33% of 12th graders, 19.7% of 10th graders, and 8% of 8th graders reported having used alcohol in the last 30 days.


The next most popular substance among teens is marijuana. As states pass medical and recreational marijuana laws, the substance becomes easier to access. In 2017 (the latest year for which we have data), 22.5% of high school seniors reported using marijuana. In 2016, the number of teens using marijuana surpassed those smoking cigarettes. The younger a person is when they began to experiment with marijuana, the more likely they are to experience negative side effects over their lifetime. Although laws regarding this substance for adults continue to change, it’s important to discourage the use of the substance among teens.


E-cigarettes and other tobacco products fill the number 3 and 4 spots on the list of most commonly used and abused substances by teens. Vaping is more easily concealed than smoking cigarettes and, when available, flavored e-cigarettes were an appealing alternative to other tobacco products. In the survey, 27.8% of high school seniors reported vaping in the last thirty days. In comparison, only 8% of high school students report smoking cigarettes in the last 30 days. 


We started with good news and we’ll end with good news. Opioid use among teens continues to decline. Among high school seniors, 4.7% reported misusing opioids (taking them not according to or without a prescription). This does not include heroin use. Most opioid misuse among teens is from prescription drugs not heroin. The number of teens misusing opioids does grow as teens reach 18. 

Through all this good news, we must continue to talk to our teens about the dangers of drug use. Some teens use drugs to fit in with a social crowd, while others may use it as an escape for their current situation.

Everyone’s excited to share a little good news, especially during a time when bad news is so prevalent. However, if your child is part of the percent using or abusing these or any other substances the good news can be bittersweet.

If your teen is exhibiting changes in behavior, a lack of desire to participate in activities they previously enjoyed, or you find your teen using drugs or alcohol, reach out to our counselors or a teen addiction program. Finding help for your teen and your family is the first step toward healing. 

Read more about the drugs most commonly used and misused by teens here.

Overdose Not Only Risk Factor in Opioid Crisis

Overdose Not Only Risk Factor in Opioid Crisis

Every day 130 people in the United States die from an opioid-related overdose. While the numbers of new opioid prescriptions have declined in the last two years, we’re still experiencing fall out from years of unchecked opioid prescriptions. A recent study in JAMA Psychiatry reveals the far-reaching effects of the opioid crisis on the health of an abuser.

Researched pulled data from 124 previously published studies and compared that data with the general population of the same age and sex. The study revealed in addition to increased death from overdose, opioid addicts also have increased deaths due to non-communicable diseases, infectious diseases, suicide, and unintentional injuries. The most common non-communicable diseases include cancer and cardiovascular disease.  


While deaths due to HIV/AIDS have declined due to more effective treatment in the overall population, AIDS deaths among opioid abusers have remained steady. Research shows 10-20% of those who misuse prescription opioids move on to inject opioids or heroin. Shared needles between drug users increase the chances of blood-borne infections such as HIV and hepatitis C. For the first time in two decades, HIV infections from injected drug use increased in 2015 for the first time in two decades due to the opioid crisis.

Opioid abuse affects a person’s entire life, from their overall health to risky behavior. Overdose continues to be a major concern for opioid abusers, but it’s not the only concern. Their behavior and health problems don’t just affect them, it affects their entire family.

Available Resources

If you’re struggling with an opioid addiction take action now. Don’t wait for the drugs to ruin your health. Seeking treatment is an act of strength not weakness. 

At Mantachie Rural Health Care, we treat all aspects of drug addiction from the addiction itself to underlying mental and behavioral health issues. We’ll help you find the right treatment program, and we provide therapy for families as well.

Overdose, while a major concern for drug abusers, isn’t the only increased threat of opioid abuse. You only have one body. Take care of it. We can help. Contact our mental health facilty to learn more at 662-282-4359.   

Why is Kratom in the news?

kratom, in the news, opioid addiction
Photo credit: Dominic Milton Trott

Local news stories about Kratom in North Mississippi have erupted in the last two months. Itawamba County as a whole and specifically Mantachie and Fulton banned the substance.

Public discussion about emerging drug problems sheds light on difficult subjects. We spend a lot of time educating our community on the issue of drug addiction and removing the stigma that often comes with seeking help for drug addictions. This discussion has also revealed how many people desire to find treatment for their opioid addiction or want to treat pain without opioids.

What is Kratom?

Kratom comes from the Mitragyna Speciose tree grown in Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, and Papua, New Guinea. The drug may be sold as leaves, powder, pill or liquid. Some users claim the drug has no addictive qualities and alleviates the symptoms of opioid withdrawal. FDA studies, however, show the drug attaches to the opioid receptors in the brain causing a similar high and addiction as opioid.

What’s the problem with Kratom?

The FDA does not regulate herbal supplements like Kratom. That means the amount of actual Kratom in a supplement can vary without manufacturer of the supplement having to list how much of the substance is in the supplement. Manufacturers also mix other chemicals with Kratom in their supplements. These chemicals can change how the body process the Kratom as well as other medications.

This lack of regulation can mean the dose you took yesterday that helped you stay alert and focused at work could land you in the hospital with an overdose today.

Users report low doses of Kratom improve focus, increase energy levels, increase sociability and decrease pain. Higher doses, however, can cause drowsiness, sweating, nausea, itching, dreaminess, and vomiting.

Kratom currently has no medically approved usage, including as an aid to kicking opioid addiction. People who attempt to treat opioid addiction with Kratom often end up simply switching drugs. There are approved medications to treat opioid addiction. Our counselors can help you find the right in-patient or out-patient program to treat your addiction. Don’t try to manage it alone.

If you’d like to learn more about Kratom and the dangers, check out this article. Our counselors are available to help tackle any addiction including opioids and Kratom.

FDA Outlines Successes, Continuing Work to Fight Opioid Addiction

Since 2015, the number of opioid pain prescriptions filled at retail pharmacies has declined by 24%. Prescriptions of the strongest opioids now account for less than 1% of all opioids dispensed in 2018. All positive trends in the fight against opioid addiction, but none mark the end of the crisis. In the midst of these positive numbers, the rate of overdose death continues to increase.

In a letter released at the end of February, Scott Gottlieb, M.D., FDA Commissioner, addressed the success of the agency. He also discussed their plans to continue fighting opioid addiction and providing recovery support for those in the throes of addiction.

Prevention Key to Stemming the Crisis

Gottlieb admits the FDA’s reliance on “rigorous evidence that can often take many months and even years to collect” slowed the agency’s response to the building crisis. They’re taking new steps to respond more quickly to the changing situation.

One key to solving the opioid crisis is reducing the misuse of opioid drugs that leads to a new addiction. In 2019 the agency expects to implement new dosing methods. One solution includes blister packs that allow doctors to more easily prescribe lower doses of medication. They’ll also release suggested dosing based on specific outpatient scenarios.

Continued Support for Addiction Recovery

“Reducing overdose deaths also requires broadening the availability of naloxone,” Gottlieb writes.

The FDA is working with drug manufacturers to make naloxone available as an over-the-counter product. This step makes the product available to people who are not under the care of a physician. It also increases availability to those who may fear the stigma that comes with addiction. While it is not currently available without a prescription, the FDA is seeking industry partners who will help bring the product to market.

Reduction of Illegal Opioid Trafficking

Finally, while prescriptions of opioids continue to decrease illegal sales of opioids online continues to increase. Together with major internet stakeholders, the FDA is working to make it harder for online sales to take place.

“For example, Google now deindexes websites based on our warning letters that cite the unlawful sale of opioids to U.S. consumers. Social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram redirect users who are looking to buy opioids online to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration National Helpline,” writes Gottlieb.

The organization continues to use analytics and tracking data to identify early trends which will help them react faster to changes in the crisis.

Mantachie Rural Health Care, Inc., continues to work with our community to battle the opioid addiction in North Mississippi. The problems our friends, family, and neighbors experience with opioids are echoed around the country. While we’re hard at work educating the community about the signs and dangers of opioid addiction we’re also dedicated to reducing the stigma associated with it. More education and less stigma mean an increase in people who need help finding it.

But we’re not alone in our fight and neither are you. If you need help finding the recovery resources you need, call our mental health clinic today at 662-282-4359.

Opioid’s Effect on Heart Health

three wooden hearts, opioids and heart health

We’ve written a lot of warning about the risk of overdose due to opioid use. In 2017 72,000 people died from a drug overdose and 30,000 of those cases were due to opioid use. Opioids work by binding to opioid receptors in the nervous system reducing the perception of pain. Opioids can depress other systems of the body like the lungs where breathing may become so inhibited and slow it eventually stops leading to an overdose death. What we haven’t heard a lot about is opioid’s effect on the heart.

If there’s good news in the opioid crisis it’s that most opioids have little initial effect on the heart muscle’s operation. Why then are patients who use opioids at an increased risk to die from heart disease?

A study in 2016 showed opioid patients experience a 65% increased chance of death due to new heart complications. Other studies link an increase in heart disease among opioid users who also use other drugs, especially benzodiazepines, such Valium, either legally or illegally.

Other heart diseases related to use of opioids include:

  • Bradycardia
  • Vasodilation
  • Ventricular tachycardia
  • Atrial fibrillation
  • Infectious endocarditis

What all these long, complicated words have in common is they can lead to problems from lightheadedness to sudden death.

Withdrawals and Heart Conditions

Quitting opioids after prolonged use includes heart-related risks of its own. Withdrawal includes a faster than normal heart rate and elevated blood pressure. Other withdrawal side effects such as vomiting and diarrhea may lead to dehydration, low blood pressure and sudden passing out. For all these reasons and many more, we strongly suggest opioid users seek out professional help when detoxing from opioid use. Not only can a medical staff support you as you continue in your rehab, but they can provide physical help to ensure you move safely away from opioid use.

We’re working to remove the stigma of seeking help for an opioid addiction because we know professional care during opioid detox and recovery is the safest way for a user to get and stay clean. Opioids affect every aspect of your body. Save your heart (and other body systems) by contacting our behavioral health clinic for information on opioid recovery.

Opioid Addiction Recovery: More Than A New Year’s Resolution

opioid recovery support

On January 1 the new year lies in front us as a fresh, crisp calendar with no blemish of our imperfect lives. For many it inspires grand ideas of losing weight, saving money or being a better person. After a holiday, some people with addictions will prescribe the same resolutions to their opioid addiction recovery as others do to overeating. However well-intentioned, New Year’s resolutions often get shoved to the side as normal life resumes. For addicts, however, this perceived failure can cause more anxiety, depression and drug usage.

If you’d like to end next year clean and sober, don’t let failed resolutions block your way. Start with these ideas to improve your chances of success.

Seek Professional Help

Resolving to stop taking opioids or drinking alcohol alone usually lasts until the withdrawal symptoms become overwhelming. Trying to manage your withdrawal symptoms alone can also be dangerous. Contact our behavioral health clinic or a drug treatment center near you to receive professional help through your withdrawals.

In addition to drug treatment, treating underlying mental illnesses can improve an addict’s chances at recovery success. Talk to a counselor or psychologist about treatment for behavioral health issues which may trigger your likelihood to relapse.

Find Support From Family and Friends

Family and friends have watched your decline into drug or alcohol abuse and use. Let them support you as you work your way back to health. Talk to those who will provide positive support for your opioid addiction recovery journey. Don’t try to manage your addiction alone. Your family may also want to seek therapy as they work through their own feelings about your addiction’s effect on them.

Create One New Healthy Habit Each Month

Your health has likely declined as addiction claimed more prominence in your life. A healthy habit could be as simple as eating three meals a day or sleeping a full eight hours every night. Don’t attempt to start a full healthy eating regiment or large scale exercise program while you’re undergoing recovery. In the beginning of your opioid addiction recovery, you may find yourself just surviving life without drugs or alcohol. Gradually bringing your body back into health, however, helps fill the time you once spent doing drugs and begins the journey toward total health.

Read or Listen to an Inspiring Book

If reading doesn’t excite you, fill your thoughts with positive messages through podcasts, YouTube videos or audiobooks. Find authors or speakers who encourage addicts through the recovery process and read or listen to their work.

Prepare for Relapse

Statistics show 85% of people in recovery will relapse in the first year. Realize you will probably relapse and be prepared to start over. Talk to your family, friends, and counselors about the signs of relapse and what steps you’ll need to take when it happens. Remember relapse isn’t a failure but is part of the process, although one of the most dangerous parts of the process because your body isn’t accustomed to the number of drugs you once took.

If you’re ready to treat your addiction this year, whether it’s January or June, our counselors are ready to help you find the resources you need for a healthier you. You don’t have to do it alone. Call our behavioral health clinic at 662-282-4359 for an appointment.


If you can relate to Demi Lovato’s relapse

Demi Lovato drug relapse

Photo Credit Flickr @jus10h

Most of us met Demi Lovato as the fresh-faced female star of Disney’s Camp Rock and then Sonny with a Chance. She was in her early teens at that time with a bright future ahead of her. In her memoir, she admits to experimenting with cocaine for the first time when she was 17 and from there, her life spiraled out of control. She entered rehab for the first time at 18 but relapsed shortly afterward. She committed to rehab a second time and celebrated 6 years of sobriety in March of this year.

In June, Demi Lovato released a single Sober, which indicated she had relapsed and then overdosed in July. She talked openly about her relapse on Instagram in a post that has since been removed.

Addiction and Mental Illness

Drug addiction and relapse after years of sobriety aren’t limited to the rich and famous. In 2014, 21.5 American adults suffered from a substance abuse disorder. Eight million Americans suffered from a combination of mental health disorders and substance abuse. Lovato includes herself in those numbers and has openly discussed her bipolar disorder and eating disorders. Addiction recovery isn’t just about clearing the drugs from a person’s system. It’s about treating the whole person, including underlying mental illnesses.

Drugs, especially opioids, change the way an addicted person’s brain functions. Their ability to control cravings and other behaviors remained unstable even after completing a recovery program. Statistics show 85% of people who complete recovery will relapse within the first year.

Recovery, like treatment for other chronic illnesses, requires a lifestyle change. And like other chronic illnesses, lifestyle changes are hard to implement, but it doesn’t mean a person with an opioid or other drug addiction should stop trying. Instead, relapse should be viewed as part of the process of recovery not a failure of the person or the treatment.

Relapse may be the most dangerous time in the recovery process. If an addicted person resumes taking drugs at the same dosage they used prior to recovery, they are more likely to overdose because their body isn’t as immune to the effects of the drug as before. It’s important for friends and family members of a recovering person to watch for signs of a potential relapse and to encourage the person not to give up but to seek help from their doctor or therapist.

Signs of an impending relapse may include:

  • Isolation
  • Denial
  • Poor eating and sleeping habits
  • Not taking care of oneself
  • Skipping treatments or support meetings
  • Lying
  • Thinking about past drug use
  • Drug cravings
  • Reconnecting with people and places associated with past drug use

If you or someone you know has experienced a relapse, do not label yourself or your loved one as a failure. Instead, find the support you need through your medical provider, past treatment centers or a mental health professional. If you need someone to walk you through the recovery process for the first time or not the first time, reach out to our behavioral health team at 662-282-4359 for an appointment.


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