Pain of the sick: ‘Anatomy of Expression,’ by Sir Charles Bell, 1806. Wellcome Collection
“‘I have had little or no sleep, owing to the tooth ache or rather stump ache,’Elizabeth Drinker wrote in her diary one night in 1796. ‘One of my Eye teeth very sore, my face much swelled and painful.’
“Drinker, a white woman from a prominent family in Philadelphia, filled her diary with comments like this. Disease was rampant in those days, and injuries often didn’t heal properly. Food was frequently spoiled, leading to painful stomach problems. Cavities and severe gum disease were common. These and other problems meant that pain – severe, intractable pain – was an ordinary part of daily life.
“Of course, many people suffered far more than Elizabeth Drinker. Slaves, in particular, were forced to perform long hours of grueling work, and their injuries and illnesses were often left untreated. They also suffered from brutal physical punishment.”
Click here to continue reading this article at The Conversation.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), an agency within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), is now accepting applications for $930 million in State Opioid Response Grants. SAMHSA will distribute funds to states and territories in support of their ongoing efforts to provide prevention, treatment and recovery support services to individuals with opioid use disorder.
The State Opioid Response Grants aim to address the opioid crisis by increasing access to evidence-based medication-assisted treatment, reducing unmet treatment need and reducing opioid-related overdose deaths. “This large new grant program reflects President Trump’s deep commitment to fighting the opioid crisis, and will provide extra support for the hardest-hit states,” said HHS Secretary Alex Azar. “It demonstrates the emphasis we place on expanding access to treatment that works, especially medication-assisted treatment with appropriate social supports.”
The grants will be awarded to the states and territories using a formula specified in the funding announcement. Fifteen percent of the total funds will be set aside to provide extra support to states that have been hardest hit by the crisis. States and territories will use the grants to design plans and conduct activities across the spectrum of prevention, treatment, and recovery.
These prevention, treatment, and recovery activities represent a comprehensive response to the opioid crisis and include action at the federal, state and local levels. “The State Opioid Response Grants were designed to meet the specific needs of communities within each state and territory,” explained Assistant Secretary for Mental Health and Substance Use Dr. Elinore F. McCance-Katz. “The grants will expand capacity to provide much needed evidence-based care to people who haven’t yet been reached.”
Under President Trump, in April 2017, HHS unveiled a new five-point Opioid Strategy. The Strategy prioritizes efforts in five areas: 1) Improving access to prevention, treatment and recovery support services, including medication-assisted treatment; 2) Promoting the targeted availability and distribution of overdose-reversing drugs; 3) Strengthening public health data reporting and collection; 4) Supporting cutting-edge research on addiction and pain and 5) Advancing the practice of pain management. Over fiscal years 2017 and 2018, HHS will invest over $4 billion in opioid-specific funding, including funds to state and local governments as well as tribal, public, and nonprofit organizations to support treatment and recovery services, target availability of overdose-reversing drugs, train first responders and more.
For more information on how to apply, see https://www.samhsa.gov/grants/grant-announcements/ti-18-015.
The Pennsylvania Patient Safety Authority Creates the Center of Excellence for Improving Diagnosis
According to the National Academy of Medicine, most people will experience at least one diagnostic error in their lifetime, sometimes with fatal outcomes. The toll of diagnostic error in the United States is estimated at 40,000 to 80,000 deaths a year.
Through its Center of Excellence, the Authority will provide leadership, guidance, and support for health care facilities and systems, providers, patients, and all interested stakeholders to improve diagnosis throughout the Commonwealth.
The Center of Excellence will focus on the following key objectives while working toward its vision of accurate and timely diagnoses communicated to all patients:
- Gathering, synthesizing, and sharing information to broaden awareness and knowledge about this complex topic
- Building partnerships and creating new networks between organizations to accelerate and scale improvements
- Facilitating the development and implementation of novel solutions and inspiring healthcare providers and patients to work together to strengthen the diagnostic process
For more information about the Center of Excellence for Improving Diagnosis, visit the Center’s website or email PSA-ImprovingDiagnosis@pa.gov.
Perspective| “Unseen face of the opioid epidemic: drug abuse among the elderly grows” – The Washington Post
by Joe Davidson
“The face of the nation’s opioid epidemic increasingly is gray and wrinkled.
“But that face often is overlooked in a crisis that frequently focuses on the young.
“Consider this: While opioid abuse declined in younger groups between 2002 and 2014, even sharply among those 18 to 25 years old, the epidemic almost doubled among Americans over age 50, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.”
Read this Washington Post column in its entirety, click here.
“A million children now live with their grandparents primarily due to their parents’ addictions, increasingly because of opioids”
This report is on 60 Minutes right now as this is being posted.
“The growing opioid crisis has been declared a public health emergency. It’s sparked a parallel crisis you rarely hear about: the impact on children neglected by addicted parents. More than one million American children now live with grandparents, primarily because of their parent’s addiction to opioids and other drugs: heroin, crack, meth and alcohol. Grandparents are putting off retirement and plowing through savings to rescue their grandchildren from dangerous situations.
“To see how widespread this is, we went to one of the healthiest states in the country, Utah. Tonight, we’ll introduce you to a few families around Salt Lake City, and meet children, raised in the wreckage of the opioid crisis, getting a chance at a normal life.”
Despite warnings from experts, older people are using more anti-anxiety and sleep medications, putting them at risk of serious side effects and even overdoses.
by Paula Spahn
“At first, the pills helped her feel so much better.
“Jessica Falstein, an artist living in the East Village in Manhattan, learned she had an anxiety disorder in 1992. It led to panic attacks, a racing pulse, sleeplessness. ‘Whenever there was too much stress, the anxiety would become almost intolerable, like acid in the veins,’ she recalled.
“When a psychopharmacologist prescribed the drug Klonopin, everything brightened. ‘It just leveled me out,’ Ms. Falstein said. ‘I had more energy. And it helped me sleep, which I was desperate for.’
“After several months, however, the horrible symptoms returned. ‘My body became accustomed to half a milligram, and the drug stopped working,’ she said. ‘So then I was up to one milligram. And then two.’ Her doctor kept increasing the dosage and added Ativan to the mix.
“Now 67, with her health and stamina in decline …
SOURCE: California Healthline – (Illustration created using Getty Images)
“Consider it America’s other prescription drug epidemic.
“For decades, experts have warned that older Americans are taking too many unnecessary drugs, often prescribed by multiple doctors, for dubious or unknown reasons. Researchers estimate that 25 percent of people ages 65 to 69 take at least five prescription drugs to treat chronic conditions, a figure that jumps to nearly 46 percent for those between 70 and 79. Doctors say it is not uncommon to encounter patients taking more than 20 drugs to treat acid reflux, heart disease, depression or insomnia or other disorders.
“Unlike the overuse of opioid painkillers, the polypharmacy problem has attracted little attention, even though its hazards are well documented. But some doctors are working to reverse the trend.”
Click here to download the newsletter as a .pdf file.Each week week the Office of the Secretary of Pennsylvania’s Department of Aging releases a Friday newsletter with information relevant to activities, issues and events for older Pennsylvanians and persons with disabilities across the Commonwealth.
This week the Secretary writes about older Pennsylvanians and “families affected by mental health and substance use disorders.”