My recent tips have focused on the executive functions of our minds. This week, let’s make a slight detour to discuss the opioid crisis and then reconnect.
Our country’s opioid crisis is non-discriminatory. There is not an individual or family immune to the tragedy. I read and study the phenomenon with curiosity and profound sadness. My curiosity lies in wondering how this happened, how we got here, and what can I do to help.
I was recently on a train for seven hours which allowed for some uninterrupted reading time that I dedicated to learning more about the crisis in an attempt to find answers to my curiosities.
I read the story of Dr. Thomas Andrew who served as chief medical examiner for New Hampshire, from 1997 to 2017. When he started his role, his department saw 30-40 drug-related deaths per year. By early 2000, the number had grown to 200 per year. In 2017, there 487 deaths, more than one per day. These numbers represent a 1000% growth in two decades. Numerous and complicated factors are behind the increase.
I want to showcase that not all I read about the opioid crisis was doom and gloom. I came across many inspiring stories of addiction survivors and healthcare and emergency workers on the front lines.
One encouraging article I read was by Dr. Joseph Lee, Medical Director for the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation, Youth Continuum, who advises parents not to assume that teens will be teens, but encourages parents to do the following to prevent drug use and abuse:
Please read the four points above again, slowly. Put yourself in the position of accepting the advice Dr. Lee recommends for teenagers.
Think about how these same values impact you now. Do you need to learn to be a better problem solver or have more resilience?
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This foundational advice Dr. Lee speaks of directly connects to our use of our executive functions.
As always, I welcome your comments and thoughts.