September is National Recovery Month - an important topic since experts say there’s been an increase in overdoses and substance abuse these past few months - both nationwide and here in Utah.
Dr. Amy Khan, Executive Medical Director for Regence BlueCross BlueShield of Utah says what is going on nationwide is particularly concerning. Khan says the climb in overdoses and substance abuse, along with those suffering from mental health struggles are "In part fueled by the stress and uncertainty of the COVID-19 experience and of course the far reaching impacts of this pandemic."
Dr. Khan says the CDC reported 40 percent of adults this summer struggled with mental health or substance use concerns. And it's not just other parts of the country, but here at home as well.
Khan says, "Despite Utah making some terrific gains against the opiod epidemic, the Utah Department of Health and Utah Naloxone have reported an increase in numbers of overdose over our summer months."
In fact, the American Medical Association issued a warning to all doctors to be aware of the issue, and recommended Naloxone in preventing death by overdose.
If you or someone you know is struggling, Dr. Khan shares this advice, "First things first - that means focusing on one day at a time. Not only when it comes to engaging in recovery activities, but also in tending to other health needs."
Other things you can do to help fight addiction:
- Stay clear about your number one goal. Stay focused on your safety and well-being during addiction recovery daily.
- Be proactive. Take steps to address unexpected challenges and avoid the risk of relapse into negative thinking, behaviors or substance use.
- Acknowledge your feelings. It is normal to experience worry, loneliness, uncertainty or loss of routine. Talk about these emotions with people in your recovery network. Writing down your emotions can also be helpful.
- Physical health is especially important. Avoid being too hungry or too tired. Focus on a healthy diet, getting enough rest, and continuing to exercise. Make sure to stay on top of managing any chronic conditions, including taking any medications for high blood pressure, diabetes or allergies.
- Stay socially connected. Combat feelings of isolation by reaching out to others. Clearly identify your recovery needs and link to online resources that can support you.
As for friends and family, Khans says, "I think it’s really important to make real what’s happening for all of our lives. And maybe it’s just acknowledging, hey, I’m not comfortable with this or I’m noticing this. Without judgment, of course."
Khan says above all, never hesitate to reach out for hep if you need it.
To speak with someone immediately, you can contact the National Substance Abuse Helpline: 800-662-HELP (4357) – treatment referral and info, 24/7.