Lifeskills Mental Health Blog

Stigma Surrounding Addiction: A discussion with Heather Hayes

Stigma Surrounding Addiction: A discussion with Heather Hayes

Lifeskills South Florida has worked with Heather Hayes of Heather R. Hayes & Associates on numerous cases involving complex mental health issues and the role they play in addiction.

Heather sat down with Klay Weaver, CEO of Lifeskills South Florida, to discuss how the stigma of addiction affects our families today.

How did we become an addicted nation?

Since the late-1800’s, with the production of Bayer cough syrup containing Heroin, Americans have been using opium-derived medicine to treat their ailments, and hundreds of thousands have become addicted. In response to this epidemic, in 1904, Congress created the Food and Drug Administration whose responsibility was to protect the nation’s food and medicine. Since that time the government has enacted laws to limit opium-derived pain medication, however, prescriptions for drugs such as OxyContin, used for chronic, non-cancer pain, went from 670,000 in 1997 to 6.2 million in 2002. Abusers of OxyContin went from 400,000 in 1999 to 3 million in 2003, and by 2009 abuse of prescription painkillers was to blame for 1.2 million emergency room visits, and drug overdose had become the leading cause of death in the U.S. The Centers for Disease Control declared a national opioid epidemic. As the nation faced a new killer, a new market arose. Heroin laced with synthetic opioids such as fentanyl hit the drug market, and by 2016, deaths from synthetic opioids surpassed 20,000 deaths.

Today our nation faces a modern plague that affects more than 40 million Americans, and costs $442 billion in a single year. We have become a chemical nation that does not discuss addiction openly and those with an addiction are often stigmatized and shamed.

Listen as Heather discusses this stigma surrounding addiction, the risk factors, and how we can help people get the support they need to overcome their addiction.


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