Congress is hotly debating a replacement for the Affordable Care Act (ACA), and there is significant debate about whether the Republican’s proposed bill is a suitable replacement that will address the problems attributed to the ACA (or, “Obamacare”). Ongoing discussions are focused on who will be harmed by and who will benefit from this proposed bill, called the American Health Care Act. At Center on Addiction, we are most concerned with how this bill will impact individuals suffering from addiction. Our analysis, explained below in greater detail, concludes that the proposed bill will endanger the lives of people with addiction.
One of the major themes of the 2016 presidential election was employment. The issue of high unemployment in certain areas of the country rose to national prominence and President Trump promised to bring jobs to these communities. Various causes were cited for unemployment, including globalization, trade agreements, technology, and regulations. Yet there was one contributing factor that was not discussed: addiction.
Dr. Sarah Yip, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Yale School of Medicine, spoke during our Addiction Speaker Series about her work on the neurobiological features of cocaine use disorder and gambling disorder. We interviewed her about this very interesting and complex area of research.
A consequence in the worsening opioid epidemic is the rising number of infants born with opioid dependence, also known as neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS). NAS is a health problem associated with fetal exposure to opioids which can cause excessive crying, rapid breathing, and slow weight gain. Seeking solutions for this issue, lawmakers have imposed reporting requirements for newborns that were exposed to opioids in the mother’s womb. Though NAS is a legitimate concern, these reporting requirements are not having their intended consequence. In fact, they are detrimental to the wellbeing of mothers with addiction and their infants.
Once known as a club drug, MDMA – commonly referred to as Ecstasy or Molly – is being studied as a potential treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). PTSD is a psychiatric disorder that results from a traumatic experience, like experiencing or witnessing an especially life-threatening, horrifying, or dangerous event. In addition to combat veterans, there are several other groups (for example, rape victims and emergency responders) who are at higher risk for this condition. PTSD can be characterized by flashbacks to the traumatic event, frightening thoughts, angry outbursts, and exaggerated feelings of guilt or blame, among other symptoms.
Recently, news stories have focused on how addiction is ravaging families and communities, particularly in rural areas. Around one in five Americans lives in a rural area, defined as a community with fewer than 2,500 people. Rural and urban communities both face the challenges of substance use, overdose, and the opioid epidemic. Although substance use rates in rural areas have kept pace with those in urban areas, rural communities seem to have been hit harder. For example, a recent statistic shows a greater increase in the proportion of babies born addicted to opioids in rural communities than in urban areas.
Latinos are the largest minority group in the U.S., at over 17 percent of the population. It is estimated that, by 2060, this will rise to nearly 29 percent. Immigration to the U.S. is often prompted by the possibility of improved life circumstances, including greater access to jobs, health care, education and other opportunities for their families.
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