Substance abuse is prevalent in Howard County. What are we doing about it?

Actually, Howard County is not unusual in the extent of our substance use and abuse. And like everywhere else, addiction follows for too many of us. Whether addiction is to a licit or illicit drug, the results to one’s well-being are much the same.  Given that addicts are from all walks of life, all income groups, all races and creeds, it’s difficult to argue that imprisonment is the best solution. And most folks need help to recover from an addiction. Here’s a primer on addiction and what help is available in the HoCo.

Prevalence of Substance Use in the United States

According to SAMHSA’s [Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration] National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) – 2014 (PDF | 3.4 MB), about two-thirds (66.6%) of people aged 12 or older reported in 2014 that they drank alcohol in the past 12 months, with 6.4% meeting criteria for an alcohol use disorder. Also among Americans aged 12 or older, the use of illicit drugs has increased over the last decade from 8.3% of the population using illicit drugs in the past month in 2002 to 10.2% (27 million people) in 2014. Of those, 7.1 million people met criteria for an illicit drug use disorder in the past year.

The misuse of prescription drugs is second only to marijuana as the nation’s most common drug problem after alcohol and tobacco, leading to troubling increases in opioid overdoses in the past decade. An estimated 25.2% (66.9 million) of Americans aged 12 or older were current users of a tobacco product. While tobacco use has declined since 2002 for the general population, this has not been the case for people with serious mental illness where tobacco use remains a major cause of morbidity and early death.

[The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is the agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that leads public health efforts to advance the behavioral health of the nation. SAMHSA’s mission is to reduce the impact of substance abuse and mental illness on America’s communities.]

https://www.samhsa.gov/atod

Location hunt underway for county’s first detox center

by Kate Magill (Howard County Times), July 18, 2017 [EXCERPTS]

As Maryland continues its battle against opioid abuse, Howard County is taking steps toward opening its first residential detoxification center, something officials say is desperately needed and overdue. Continue reading Substance abuse is prevalent in Howard County. What are we doing about it?

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It shouldn’t have happened

Fifteen year old Grace McComas committed suicide in 2012. Her story is one of how the Howard County community failed this child and family.  First and foremost, it was a flagrant example of an institution that’s intended to serve the people, putting the administration first rather than the interests of this child and family.  But we all played a role. And we have an opportunity to make it right.

Julia McCready, our guest blogger, is a Howard County Educator with a knowledge and wisdom about Grace’s story.  She posts daily at http://villagegreentownsquared.blogspot.com/

Sharing the Story

by Julia McCready (Friday, July 7, 2017)

In the Spring of 2012 the Glenelg High School community was rocked by the suicide of a sophomore named Grace McComas. She took her life in response to a drug-assisted rape by a fellow student and the subsequent cyber-bullying from members of that same community when she spoke out and sought justice.

In a school of approximately 1200 students, how many do you suppose knew what was going on?

How many knew because they were participating in the bullying?

How many knew and tried to help?

How many knew and did nothing?

How many knew nothing at all?

In the time since her daughter’s death Christine McComas has fought to raise awareness of sexual assault, cyber-bullying, and has worked unceasingly to get her daughters complete school records from the year that she died. The response to her efforts has often been disappointing.

Continue reading It shouldn’t have happened

Howard Countians need to pay more attention to mental health

People experiencing an acute or chronic mental illness need to have access to the help they need when they need it. Failure to connect with the appropriate support in a crisis can have dire consequences. And yet, health insurance coverage for mental illness is often inadequate. And while Howard County has a wide variety of behavioral health resources, there are gaps among needed services. 

Howard Countians collectively need to pay better attention to our behavioral health, identifying mental health issues when they occur and obtaining early intervention. That means volunteers should get Mental Health First Aid training (like CPR), agencies need to find ways to collaborate and remove barriers to care, and County government needs to make a bigger commitment to funding programs that plug service gaps.

Leaders of Howard County’s behavioral health system know what needs to be done, outlined here in the plans and advocacy goals of key players. It only requires the will and financial commitment to make it happen.

Continue reading Howard Countians need to pay more attention to mental health