Opioid Use Negatively Impacts both Mental and Physical Health

October 10, 2019

Mental Illness Awareness Week Is October 6-12, 2019
October 17th Conference Features Keynote Presentation on the Opioid Epidemic from a Public Health Perspective

While approximately 16 percent of Americans have mental illnesses, they receive more than half of all prescriptions for opioids, according to research published in the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine (July 2017). The researchers also found that individuals with mood and anxiety disorders are twice as likely to use opioids and are more likely to use opioids for long periods of time, compared to people who do not have mental illnesses. Furthermore, use of opioids has been found to cause depression in approximately 10 percent of individuals after one month of taking opioids and the risk of developing depression increases the longer these drugs were taken, according to research published in the Annals of Family Medicine (January 2016).

According to Healthline (www.healthline.com), possible reasons for the connection between opioid dependence and mental health problems are the common experience of pain among individuals with mental illnesses; use of opioids to self-medicate and escape symptoms of mental health disorders; the need for increasing doses of opioids to gain more pain relief in individuals with mental illnesses; the possibility that individuals with mental health disorders have a genetic propensity for developing addictions; and trauma, which could lead to development of mental illnesses and substance use disorders.

"Both mental illnesses and substance use disorders are serious public health concerns that need to be addressed, along with physical diseases. In fact, all types of illnesses impact each other, and holistic, integrated care is the most effective strategy for treating all health conditions," said Debra L. Wentz, PhD, President and CEO of the New Jersey Association of Mental Health and Addiction Agencies, Inc. (NJAMHAA).

October 17th Conference Features Keynote Presentation on the Opioid Epidemic
As the opioid crisis is persisting in New Jersey and across the nation, NJAMHAA will feature a keynote presentation, The Opioid Epidemic from a Public Health Perspective, by Joshua Sharfstein, MD, Vice Dean, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health Practice, during its Fall Behavioral Healthcare Conference, Winning Innovations in Health Care, on October 17, 2019 at the Pines Manor in Edison, NJ. Dr. Sharfstein will discuss how to develop promising state and community strategies for prevention, intervention, treatment and recovery, based on public health principles. He will also address cross-cutting issues, such as stigma and inequity.

The conference will also feature two workshops focused on substance use treatment: Tackling Addictions Together: Integrating Peer Recovery Services and Medical Interventions and Expanding the Use of Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) in a Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic (CCBHC).

"The CCBHCs have been particularly effective in increasing access to MAT, along with counseling and other therapy, which is the gold standard for treatment of opioid and other substance use disorders," Dr. Wentz said. "They have also been successful in providing integrated care for addictions, mental illnesses and physical health conditions to larger numbers of individuals, compared to before the CCBHCs were established last year."

The October 17th conference will also feature workshops addressing clinical and non-clinical topics and highlighting innovation in the behavioral healthcare field, as well as a plenary session on federal legislative initiatives and their impact on access to healthcare services. Please click here for more details on the conference and to register.

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