Opioids are a powerful, pain-relieving class of drugs—but they’re controversial for a reason. Historically, “street opioids” like heroin have been largely responsible for mounting opioid overdose deaths, but recent data show that prescription opioids, like oxycodone and hydrocodone, also play a role in this crisis, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). That’s a big reason why the agency’s influential prescribing guidelines for these painkillers were rather strict. Those recommendations, originally released in 2016, were just updated to better reflect the need for individualized, compassionate care.The CDC issued new opioid prescribing guidelines for health care providers in early November; specifically, the recommendations detail when opioids should be considered for “appropriate pain treatment, with careful consideration of the benefits and risks.”The agency’s 2016 guidelines, a well-intentioned step in combatting the opioid epidemic, were criticized by many experts. Doctors, insurance companies, and pharmacies sometimes didn’t interpret the previous guidelines correctly. As an “unintended effect,” many people suffered from “untreated and undertreated pain, serious withdrawal symptoms, worsening pain outcomes, psychological distress, overdose, and suicide ideation and behavior,” the CDC notes.Misinterpretations of the 2016 guidelines “often created a barrier for people who could have benefitted from opioid medications,” Jamie Alan, PharmD, PhD, associate professor of pharmacology and toxicology at Michigan State University, tells SELF. Though “the rationale for stricter guidelines was clear,” she says, it also “created a culture of fear, where physicians were afraid to consider and/or prescribe opioids for patients.”O. Trent Hall, DO, an addiction medicine physician at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, agrees. He tells SELF that the previous guidelines were “widely misunderstood and misapplied,” noting that government regulators and insurance companies were “desperate to turn the tide in the opioid overdose crisis.” The hope, he explains, was that by cutting back on opioid prescriptions, the number of deaths from accidental overdoses would drop. Unfortunately, largely due to the introduction of illicitly manufactured fentanyl, a potent synthetic opioid, accidental drug overdose deaths increased from 63,000 in 2016 to 108,000 in 2021, Dr. Hall says.The new prescribing guidelines open doors for more personalized pain management.The CDC’s new recommendations will be widely considered by health care providers—but they’re not set in stone policies, laws, or, as the CDC puts it, “inflexible standards of care.”To be clear, opioids should not be a first-line treatment for pain in many cases—but the updated guidance will, hopefully, pave the path toward individualized treatment and better quality of care for people who have exhausted other pain relief options. Specifically, the guidance “emphasizes the importance of person-centered care, and the provider and patient developing a plan that adequately addresses pain,” Sarah Cercone Heavey, PhD, MPH, a clinical assistant professor at the University at Buffalo’s School of Public Health and Health Professions, tells SELF.When appropriate, the CDC says opioids may be prescribed at the lowest effective dosage as needed; the new guidelines no longer specify prescription dosage or duration limits but still warn against prescribing above a threshold in which the risks may outweigh the benefits—basically, it’s up to health care providers to map out what’s best for their patients.
Friends star Matthew Perry has written about his experience with addiction—including details of a time when his colon burst from opioid use, nearly killing him—in a new memoir. The book, called Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing, is out November 1, and Perry spoke to People about why he wrote it ahead of its release.The 53-year-old said he struggled with addiction for decades—including throughout his time acting on Friends—explaining that he’d relied on both alcohol and opioids. But it all came to a head when his colon burst from an opioid overdose five years ago, at age 49. He was put on an extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) machine, which is a form of life support. At the time, “the doctors told my family that I had a 2% chance to live,” Perry told People. “There were five people put on an ECMO machine that night and the other four died.” He spent two weeks in a coma, five months in the hospital, and had to use a colostomy bag for the better part of a year afterward.But the experience ended up helping him in a significant way. Perry told People that his therapist advised him to reflect on how difficult the healing process had been anytime he thought of relapsing. “A little window opened, and I crawled through it, and I no longer want OxyContin anymore,” he said.Perry previously told People that he first became addicted to Vicodin, a different prescription opioid, after a jet ski accident in 1997. “It wasn’t my intention to have a problem with it,” he told the outlet in 2002. “But from the start I liked how it made me feel, and I wanted to get more. I was out of control and very unhealthy.” At one point during his career on Friends, he was taking 55 Vicodin a day.In 2016, Perry said he didn’t remember three years of the show due to his addiction during a BBC Radio 2 interview, per Prevention. He said his costars offered support while they worked together on the show, from 1994 to 2004. “It’s like penguins,” he said. “Penguins, in nature, when one is sick, or when one is very injured, the other penguins surround it and prop it up. They walk around it until that penguin can walk on its own. That’s kind of what the cast did for me.”Perry said it took him a while to start working on his memoir, explaining that he needed to be in the right headspace to begin. “I had to wait until I was pretty safely sober—and away from the active disease of alcoholism and addiction—to write it all down,” he said. “And the main thing was, I was pretty certain that it would help people.”He also held nothing back during the writing process. “It’s a little scary to tell all your secrets in a book, [but] I didn’t leave anything out. Everything’s in there.” He expects readers will be surprised by the depths of his addiction—and how close it brought him to death—even though it’s something he’s lived with for decades.Now, Perry said, he’s living and working from a place of gratitude—and thankful to be sober. “Everything starts with sobriety…. If you don’t have sobriety, you’re going to lose everything that you put in front of it. So my sobriety is right up there,” he said. “I’m an extremely grateful guy. I’m grateful to be alive, that’s for sure. And that gives me the possibility to do anything.”Related:
Be aware that fentanyl—a synthetic opioid up to 100 times more potent than morphine—may be hiding in plain sight. “Rainbow” fentanyl, which looks a lot like candy, has been seized in multiple states, according to a statement from the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). The pills are being manufactured in bright colors in what the agency calls an “alarming emerging trend.”Schools across the country, including Pennsylvania State University and some school districts in Florida, are now warning students and their families about the risks of rainbow fentanyl. Law enforcement found the pills in at least 18 states in August alone. “Rainbow fentanyl—fentanyl pills and powder that come in a variety of bright colors, shapes, and sizes—is a deliberate effort by drug traffickers to drive addiction amongst kids and young adults,” a DEA representative said in the statement.In addition to pills, rainbow fentanyl may be sold as powder or blocks that resemble sidewalk chalk, per the statement; there have been rumors that some colors of the drug are more potent than others, but the DEA’s lab testing suggests that’s not the case. Fentanyl can also be disguised as fake prescription pills, according to the US Department of Justice. In May, the deaths of two Ohio State University students prompted the school to warn of fentanyl-laced Adderall, as SELF previously reported.People can overdose after ingesting incredibly small amounts of this stuff, which is one reason why fentanyl—especially when it’s masked to look like something else—is currently the deadliest drug in the US. Just 2 grams of fentanyl, which is about 10 to 15 grains of table salt, can be deadly. Because of this, it’s crucial to recognize the symptoms of an overdose, which can include skin that looks pale or feels clammy; limp muscles; purple or blue-ish fingernails or lips; vomiting or gurgling noises; an inability to wake or speak; and a slow heartbeat or trouble breathing. If someone you know has any of these symptoms, it’s crucial to call 911 and seek help immediately.Unfortunately, experts say the country is not doing enough to fight the opioid epidemic, which is, in turn, driving up fentanyl-related health risks. “The overdose crisis has been going on for two decades and seems to be intensifying,” Sheila Vakharia, PhD, deputy director of the department of research and academic engagement at the Drug Policy Alliance, previously told SELF.That’s why everyone—especially parents of young adults, college students, and people who have opioid use disorder—needs to be aware of rainbow fentanyl right now. There’s no way to tell what, exactly, is in a drug that has not been recommended to you by a health care provider. The director of Penn State’s Health Promotion and Wellness program emphasized this in the university’s recent warning to students: “Unless a drug is prescribed by a licensed medical professional and dispensed by a legitimate pharmacy, you can’t know if it’s fake or legitimate.”If you believe you’ve come across any form of fentanyl, do not handle it and call 911 immediately, the DEA said in its statement: “Every color, shape, and size of fentanyl should be considered extremely dangerous.”Related:
The first naloxone vending machine in Austin became operational this week, thanks to organizers from the NICE Project, allowing people in the region to access the lifesaving medication for free. Austin isn’t the first city to offer its residents 24/7 access to naloxone (first manufactured under the brand name Narcan). These vending machines have been installed at community health centers across the country in recent years, including in Battle Creek, Michigan; Las Vegas; and South Bend, Indiana. New York City is also reportedly planning to install 10 of the machines in various neighborhoods.Naloxone vending machines are crucial public health tools that can help combat the effects of the opioid crisis, in part because the medication can be very difficult to access, Sheila Vakharia, PhD, deputy director of the department of research and academic engagement at the Drug Policy Alliance, tells SELF. “Currently, it is a prescription medication, and that’s where the challenge is,” Dr. Vakharia says. Below, what you need to know about naloxone vending machines, including who they help and how they can save lives.How does naloxone work?Naloxone is a medication that can rapidly reverse an opioid overdose; opioids are a highly addictive class of drugs that include prescription painkillers like OxyContin, the synthetic drug fentanyl, and the illegal drug heroin.“The overdose crisis has been going on for two decades and seems to be intensifying,” Dr. Vakharia says. In fact, opioid overdose deaths have spiked at least 400% since the turn of the century. In 2020, 91,799 people died of a drug overdose death in the US, and nearly 75% of those deaths involved opioids, per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).Naloxone works by essentially halting a potentially fatal side effect linked to opioid overuse, Dr. Vakharia says. When a person takes an opioid, the drug will sit on specific opioid receptors in the brain, inhibiting your brain from telling your lungs to breathe, she explains. This is when naloxone can be lifesaving: If administered at the right time, naloxone can travel to those receptors and block them from becoming activated. “When you put naloxone in your system, it’s so strong it knocks off the opioid, takes its place, and the brain tells the lungs to start breathing again,” Dr. Vakharia explains.Given the devastating impact of the opioid crisis, some experts say naloxone should be more widely available. “It should not be a prescription medication,” Dr. Vakharia says, explaining it isn’t dangerous to keep in your house. “Accidental exposure has not been shown to have any sort of adverse effects.” Naloxone isn’t a controlled substance and is safe to keep on hand, she stresses.Why is it difficult to access naloxone?As with any other prescription drug, getting naloxone usually requires seeing a doctor—and this can be easier said than done for people living with an addiction, Dr. Vakharia says. A number of factors may persuade someone not to visit a provider to get a prescription for naloxone. For example, “There are some states where people have actually been denied life insurance policies because [providers] see naloxone and see you as an overdose risk,” Dr. Vakharia says. Additionally, some people may be self-conscious about seeing a provider and getting a naloxone prescription given the stigma associated with it, she says.
Scott Mescudi, also known as Kid Cudi, talked about his experiences with anxiety, depression, and substance use at a fundraising dinner for New York–Presbyterian Hospital’s Youth Anxiety Center earlier this week. The rapper, 38, talked about how events during his childhood led to yearslong mental health struggles and explained how he finally got help.“My father passed when I was 11, and things started to slowly get bad after that,” Mescudi said. He added that, as the youngest of four siblings, he often felt like an only child and rarely confided in his mother. “I was alone a lot, not really talking to my mom about what I was feeling. How do you come up to Mom, who’s dealing with four kids and your dad died and she’s taking care of everybody on her own?” Mescudi said. “My mom did a great job; there was just a lot for her to handle.”Mescudi said that because he never opened up about his feelings, he got “really good [at] masking the madness over the years, being the youngest of four, staying in my place, being quiet, entertaining myself. It was almost like I was an only child, so to speak, at the time.”Mescudi said he partied as a teen, but his substance use got worse after his music started getting more and more recognition. “It wasn’t scary until later on in my life, as I was Kid Cudi,” he said. Eventually his drug use became so overwhelming that he started considering suicide. “I was suicidal. I was darker than I ever had been in my life,” Mescudi said. “I’m thinking about, ‘How could I do this without my family finding out, without my friends finding out?’ Like I’m actually plotting my death.”But this served as a turning point in Mescudi’s life, prompting him to seek help before acting on his plans. “That was what really scared me straight to the point where I said I needed to go get help…I want to live for my daughter, for my family, for my friends, for my fans. I want to live, I want this for myself. So, I made the choice for the first time in my life to go get help for what I didn’t understand.”Mescudi entered rehab at age 32, after bringing up the idea to his manager, who was immediately supportive. There were a few bumps in the road—he said he tried to leave rehab three times while recovering—but eventually found ways to cope with his emotions without relying on substances. “It was a really good staff,” Mescudi said. “They made me feel really comfortable, and I didn’t feel crazy.”In addition to helping Mescudi change his relationship with substances, rehab helped him set healthy boundaries around work. “Since rehab, I’ve been pacing myself with work. For example, I don’t drop an album every year anymore; I do it every other year,” he said. “That was one of the things that drove me mad up until 2016, because I was dropping an album every year and that took its toll on me.”
Therapy and medication are currently the most powerful tools we have to treat mental health conditions like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, and anxiety, among so many others. But for some people—especially those who do not respond to these conventional treatments—researchers are discovering a promising new pathway to transformative mental health care: psychedelic therapy.This isn’t the free-for-all glory days of Woodstock psychedelics that you might be imagining. We’re specifically talking about psychedelic-assisted therapy, which is practiced under the careful guidance of a trained clinician, who administers a controlled amount of a psychoactive substance to induce a person into an altered state of consciousness. In theory, this type of therapy encourages you to mentally explore the underlying roots of certain mental health issues.1It’s important to understand which drugs fall under the psychedelic umbrella: lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD, a synthetic chemical with hallucinogenic properties),2 psilocybin (the psychoactive compound in magic mushrooms),3 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA, often referred to as ecstasy or molly),4 and ayahuasca (a mind-bending brew made from specific plants, which originated from Indigenous people in the Amazon Basin).5 Because these are Schedule I drugs in the U.S., they are illegal at federal level due to their high potential for misuse and dependence, as well as having no accepted medical uses currently.Then there’s ketamine, a Schedule III substance that is not typically seen as a genuine psychedelic. Instead it is viewed as a “dissociative anesthetic.” Currently, ketamine is the only substance with psychedelic properties with legalized, medically-accepted uses in the U.S.6Psilocybin is also on the path to legalization for therapeutic use, at least in Oregon, where it has already been decriminalized. Practically, that means the Oregon Health Authority will be responsible for licensing and regulating the manufacturing and sales of psilocybin products, as well as creating the country’s “first regulatory framework for psilocybin services” by January 2023.The type of research experts have been able to do with these drugs has historically been limited—but significant strides are being made. In new and ongoing clinical trials, these substances have shown promise in treating everything from PTSD7 to treatment-resistant depression8 to substance use disorders.9Generally, in the future, once these drugs are approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for specific mental health conditions, psychedelic-assisted therapy might be considered when other largely effective treatments haven’t worked well for a person.“We are entering a period where we can do expanded access treatment or compassionate use,” Monnica Williams, PhD, a clinical psychologist and training director of the Behavioral Wellness Clinic in Tolland, Connecticut, and a leader in the field of psychedelic science who has published over 100 peer-reviewed articles, tells SELF. “That’s when a drug is made available in advance of final approvals to people for whom nothing else has worked.” (We’ll dive more into this below.)The experts SELF spoke with estimate it could take between 4 to 10 years for these drugs to receive FDA approval. But you shouldn’t let that timeline discourage you. Here’s everything you need to know about exploring this type of therapy right now.What’s the safest way to access psychedelic-assisted therapy?There are still a lot of hoops to jump through, but you have some options.1. Ask your doctor if ketamine may be right for you.Ketamine is an injectable anesthetic that has traditionally been used for short-term sedation and anesthesia. But due to its dissociative and hallucinogenic effects, it’s been lumped in with other exploratory psychedelic research in the mental health space.
If you’ve ever been overserved (or overserved yourself) with adult beverages, you know how it can wreak havoc on your mind and body. From a throbbing headache to morning-after anxiety, hangover symptoms are just one of the risks associated with overindulging. But when drinking too much becomes a habit, those risks—and symptoms—increase. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, alcohol withdrawal symptoms can be potentially life-threatening when someone who has been drinking heavily for a long period of time suddenly stops.So what’s actually considered heavy drinking? The CDC defines it as more than 15 drinks per week for people assigned male at birth and more than 8 drinks per week for people assigned female at birth. With long-term heavy alcohol intake, your brain adapts to the effects of booze over time.It’s important to note that if you overindulge here and there, you’re not likely going to experience alcohol withdrawal syndrome (which occurs when someone who is physically dependent on alcohol suddenly stops drinking). But if you’re consuming over the recommended amount for weeks, months, or even years, withdrawal symptoms are more likely to pop up. Here’s why: When you suddenly stop drinking, your nervous system kicks into overdrive to compensate, triggering withdrawal symptoms.What are mild alcohol withdrawal symptoms?The first symptoms—and maybe the only symptoms—you experience may resemble a bad hangover. These are considered mild, but they can worsen. Although the onset of alcohol withdrawal varies from person to person, symptoms typically appear as early as 6 to 24 hours after the last drink, Seonaid Nolan, MD, a clinician-scientist at the British Columbia Centre on Substance Use, tells SELF. She adds that withdrawal can also occur after a significant reduction in alcohol consumption.According to a 2019 systematic review published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, and coauthored by Dr. Nolan, mild withdrawal symptoms are common: “Up to 50% of individuals with a history of long-term, heavy alcohol consumption will experience some degree of mild withdrawal when alcohol use is stopped.”1Mild symptoms can take between 24 and 48 hours to resolve. If they don’t progress during this period, the worst may be over.2 Here’s what to look out for:Anxiety“Generally, the first symptoms to develop include anxiety, agitation, and restlessness,” says Dr. Nolan. In fact, in the early stages of withdrawal, “women with alcohol use disorder consistently report more anxiety symptoms than men,” Kathryn McHugh, PhD, an associate professor of psychology at Harvard Medical School, tells SELF. Withdrawal-related anxiety can perpetuate the cycle of addiction, pushing you to seek out that next drink.Loss of appetiteThis can occur when alcohol causes inflammation in the stomach lining, which can reduce hunger signals.1 Alcoholic hepatitis, a dangerous inflammation of the liver, can occur in some people who drink and may also cause a lack of appetite, according to the Mayo Clinic.Nausea and vomitingAs your body detoxes, nausea and vomiting are pretty common symptoms. You may also experience periods of dry heaving without vomiting. If severe vomiting is present, you may need to receive IV fluids so you don’t become dehydrated.HeadachesHeadaches can also crop up in the early stages, likely due to sensitization in certain neurons and cell receptors, as well as a release of chemicals associated with head pain, according to a 2021 study published in the journal BioRxiv. While there aren’t current treatments specifically for alcohol-withdrawal-related headaches, targeting these cell receptors in the brain could be a future treatment option.3SweatingSince alcohol affects your central nervous system, your circulatory system, and pretty much all other areas of your body, it’s no surprise that withdrawal can make things go a little haywire. Your autonomic system—basically the bodily functions you do involuntarily—can become hyperexcited, leading to things like profuse sweating.4Rapid heart rateIn addition to sweating you may develop heart palpitations from a hyped-up autonomic system. This is characterized as a heart rate of greater than 100 beats per minute.4TremorsThis is yet another autonomic nervous system response to alcohol withdrawal. Tremors often affect the hands but can occur elsewhere in the body as well, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine.InsomniaSleep disturbances are extremely common in the early stages of alcohol withdrawal, according to an older study published in the Journal of Addiction and Addiction Disorders, and may continue for several months, even with continued abstinence from alcohol.5What are moderate to severe alcohol withdrawal symptoms?It’s sometimes hard to predict who will go from mild symptoms to moderate or severe symptoms, but the severity of your symptoms generally will depend on the amount of alcohol you’ve been consuming and how long you’ve been consuming it, according to an older study published in American Family Physician.6 If you progress to moderate or severe alcohol withdrawal symptoms, they may take some time to develop, but can include:Seizures and hallucinationsSeizures can occur within 6 to 48 hours, while hallucinations can occur within 12 to 48 hours after drinking is reduced or stopped, says Dr. Nolan. About 3% of people who develop seizures may have what’s called status epilecticus, when a seizure lasts for more than five minutes, or you have more than one seizure in a five-minute period and do not regain normal consciousness between episodes, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine. This is considered a medical emergency because it can lead to permanent brain damage.Delirium tremensAround half of all people who have a seizure during alcohol withdrawal will experience delirium tremens, a medical emergency that affects 3 to 5% of people with a history of alcohol abuse. Delirium tremens appear even later, between 48 and 96 hours after a reduction in drinking.2
There were an estimated 107,622 drug overdose deaths in the U.S. in 2021, according to new data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The death rate is the highest on record for overdose fatalities, and it was up 15% from the 2020 rate of 93,655 deaths—a number that was 30% higher than the 2019 rate. The data highlight a surge in overdose deaths during the COVID-19 pandemic.Pandemic disruptions—including restricted access to rehabilitation facilities, naloxone (a drug that can reverse symptoms of an opioid overdose), and medication-assisted therapy—may have played a part in the increased death rate, Jules Netherland, director of the department of research and academic engagement at the Drug Policy Alliance, tells SELF. However, the rate was climbing before the pandemic took hold. “Unfortunately overdose deaths were going rapidly up before COVID, but the increase during COVID has certainly escalated,” Netherland says. She adds that communities of color are being hit harder and that strategies need to be implemented quickly to reverse the current trend.Alaska saw the biggest increase in the overdose death rate in 2021, rising 75.3% from the 2020 rate. Other states that saw steep increases include Vermont, South Dakota, Kansas, and Oregon, per the new data. Wyoming saw a 0% change, while overdose deaths in Hawaii went down by 1.81%.Among the 107,622 deaths, 80,816 involved opioids, according to the data. In addition to opioids, overdose deaths from synthetic opioids (primarily fentanyl), cocaine, and psychostimulants (like methamphetamine) also increased in 2021 compared to 2020.Drugs contaminated with fentanyl, a synthetic opioid that’s up to 100 times stronger than morphine, per the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), may have contributed to the spike in the overdose death rate, Netherland says. “We do know fentanyl has contaminated a lot of the drug supply and is driving” overdose deaths, she explains. But eliminating fentanyl won’t solve all the crisis and bring the rate back down, Netherland warns. Instead, experts need to focus on harm reduction strategies. “Until we really scale up harm reduction and treatment services, I don’t think we’re going to turn this around,” she explains.Netherland points to a number of different measures that could slow the overdose death rate’s climb, widespread access to naloxone and fentanyl test strips among them. The test strips would reveal if a product has been contaminated with fentanyl, 2 milligrams of which can be lethal, depending on a person’s size. Overdose prevention centers, which have been established in New York City, could also bring down the death rate, Netherland says. These allow people who use drugs to do so in a controlled setting, where trained staff can supervise and assist if they overdose. Additionally, until states decriminalize possessing small amounts of currently illegal drugs—which Oregon did in 2020—people who buy them won’t be able to tell whether their supply has been contaminated with a dangerous substance. “Criminalizing and prohibiting the purchase and sale—it means people aren’t going to know what they’re getting,” Netherland adds.Related:
This article includes potentially triggering descriptions of sexual assault.Selma Blair, 49, revealed how her alcoholism began during childhood in her new memoir, Mean Baby, which goes on sale May 17. Blair, who was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2018, says she started experimenting with alcohol at seven years old and that it soon became a coping mechanism: “I don’t know if I would’ve survived childhood without alcoholism,” the actor told People in a new interview. She shared more details about her past with the outlet, which published an excerpted section of Mean Baby.One passage explores the roots of her alcoholism, recalling her introduction to Manischewitz, a sweet wine popular in the Jewish community. “I always liked Passover,” Blair wrote. “As I took the small sips of the Manischewitz I was allowed throughout the seder a light flooded through me, filling me up with the warmth of God. But the year I was seven, when we basically had Manischewitz on tap and no one was paying attention to my consumption level, I put it together: The feeling was not God but fermentation.” Eventually, Blair established a pattern of getting “very drunk” that continued into adulthood and stopped in 2016, when she became sober. She notes that anxiety was usually the trigger that led her to drink—“just quick sips whenever my anxiety would alight. I usually barely even got tipsy,” she writes, per People. “I became…adept at hiding my secret.”“That’s why it’s such a problem for a lot of people,” Blair told People. “It really is a huge comfort, a huge relief in the beginning. Maybe even the first few years for me because I did start really young with that as a comfort, as my coping mechanism.”Mean Baby also includes details about the sexual assaults Blair has experienced throughout her life, which were important for her to include in her memoir as part of the healing process, she says. She explained how she felt during one attack, which took place during her twenties: “I wish I could say what happened to me that night was an anomaly, but it wasn’t. I’ve been raped, multiple times, because I was too drunk to say the words, ‘Please. Stop.’”Outside of her therapist, nobody knew she’d been sexually assaulted multiple times, Blair told People. But, eventually, therapy equipped her with the tools she needed to write her memoir so she could share her story with a much wider audience. The experience of writing illuminated parts of her life she hadn’t considered, Blair said: “My sense of trauma was bigger than I knew. I did not realize that assault was so central in my life. I had so much shame and blame.”The creative process also became cathartic, helping her process past traumas, she said. “I’m grateful I felt safe enough to put it on the page. And can then work on it with a therapist and with other writing, and really relieve that burden of shame on myself.”If you or someone you love needs support due to substance use, contact the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) website or call the national helpline at 1-800-662-4357. If you have been the victim of sexual assault, you can call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800-656-4673 or chat online at online.rainn.org.Related:
Two Ohio State University (OSU) students passed away on Thursday and Friday, and the school issued an urgent safety message to the community warning about fake Adderall pills. OSU didn’t release the official cause of death in either case, but the statement announcing the first fatality urged students to “be aware of the possibility of contaminated drugs in our community.” It also said a third student had been hospitalized and then released.“This morning Columbus Public Health shared an alert about fake Adderall pills, which appear to contain fentanyl, causing an increase in overdoses and hospitalizations,” the safety message said. Adderall is a brand-name mixture of two types of drugs: amphetamines and dextroamphetamines, per the U.S. National Library of Medicine. It’s often prescribed to people diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), but taking Adderall without a prescription has become a problem on college campuses throughout the U.S., according to a 2018 article in the Journal of Undergraduate Neuroscience Education. “The presence of prescription stimulants on college campuses has risen significantly in recent years,” the authors of the article wrote. They explained that many students take Adderall with the hopes it will help them study for longer periods of time, but warned that taking the drug without a prescription can be dangerous.Like any counterfeit drugs, Adderall accessed without a prescription can be laced with other substances, such as fentanyl, a synthetic opioid that’s up to 100 times stronger than morphine, per the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). Heroin is also often laced with fentanyl to increase its potency, leading to unintentional overdose deaths, according to the DEA, which estimates that 4 of every 10 pills laced with fentanyl contain a potentially lethal dose. This can be as little as 2 milligrams, depending on a person’s size, according to the DEA. “Counterfeit pills may contain lethal amounts of fentanyl or methamphetamine and are extremely dangerous because they often appear identical to legitimate prescription pills, and the user is likely unaware of how lethal they can be,” according to the DEA. OSU’s safety message reiterated that using a contaminated drug just one time can result in death.Synthetic opioids, including fentanyl, now cause more overdose deaths in the U.S. than any other substance, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). In 2020, 91,799 overdose deaths were reported, and certain synthetic opioids—primarily fentanyl—caused 56,516 of those fatalities, per NIDA.A fentanyl overdose can cause a person’s breathing to slow or stop, decreasing the amount of oxygen that gets to the brain, according to NIDA. This causes a condition called hypoxia, which can lead to a coma, permanent brain damage, or death.OSU’s safety message reminded students they can confidentially pick up fentanyl test strips, which can determine whether a substance has been laced with the synthetic opioid, at Student Health Services. It also reminded students they can confidentially access Naloxone, a nasal spray or injectable medication that, if used quickly, can reverse an opioid overdose.Related: