Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020, we have seen a dramatic rise in addiction and the subsequent need for treatment across America. According to a poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation, almost half of all Americans currently believe that the pandemic is harming their mental health.
This has led to a 1,000 percent increase in the number of calls received by a federal emergency hotline in April 2020 when compared to the same month last year. The hotline, run by the Substance Abuse and Mental Services Administration, saw 20,000 people text the number in April alone.
Talkspace, an online therapy company, has also reported a 65% spike in clients since the middle of February, around when the Coronavirus started making significant headway across America and Europe.
Co-founder and CEO of Talkspace, Oren Frank, told the Washington Post: “People are really afraid. What’s shocking to me is how little leaders are talking about this. There are no White House briefings about it. There is no plan.”
Frank also revealed that the rise in demand for services such as his own followed almost exactly the same rise as the virus itself across the United States.
Experts have analysed the patterns shown after economic downturns, terrorist attacks, and natural disasters and have subsequently predicted a continued spike in overdose deaths and substance abuse.
Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute hypothesized that an additional 4,800 people could lose their lives due to overdoses due to the current pandemic.
In the face of such a clear and alarming rise in mental health issues and a dependence on substances such as alcohol and drugs, the government advice is to continue treatment wherever possible.
Despite this, the United States federal substance abuse and mental health agency revealed in May that only 1 percent of the desired funding had been granted to them.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration issued the following statement: “For those with substance use disorders, inpatient/residential treatment has not been shown to be superior to intensive outpatient treatment. Therefore, in these extraordinary times of risk of viral infection, it is recommended that intensive outpatient treatment services be utilized whenever possible.”
What is even more worrying is that, like the vast majority of businesses, treatment facilities are also struggling in the current financial climate.
In May, 57% of surveyed organizations in North Carolina revealed that they had already been forced to close one of their programs due to financial constraints. 27% had laid off staff and 43% precited that they would have to close altogether by June.
As the issue of addiction continues to spiral out of control with sufferers confined to their own homes and denied access to face-to-face treatment, the demand on what few services remain seems to be unstable.
It remains to be seen whether the US government diverts further funds to ease the strain on addiction treatment in the following months as the COVID-19 pandemic reigns on.
American Double Board Certified Orthopedic Surgeon, Dr. Vonda Wright, Talks About Osteoporosis
Though bones may feel rock solid, they are actually filled with tiny holes in a kind of honeycomb pattern. Bone tissue gets broken down and rebuilt all the time.
“With aging, humans start to lose more bone mass than we build, and those tiny holes within the bones begin to expand, thinning the solid outer layer. In other words, our bones become less dense. Hard bones become spongy, while spongy bones end up becoming spongier. When this loss of bone density becomes intense, that is what is called osteoporosis,” says Dr. Vonda Wright, American double board certified orthopedic surgeon. “More than 10 million people are estimated to have osteoporosis throughout the nation, and this truly is an astonishing number.”
Dr. Wright has cared for athletes and active people of all ages since 1989, specializing in shoulder, hip and knee arthroscopy. She is currently serving as the inaugural Chief of Sports Medicine at the Northside Hospital Orthopedic Institute and is President of the Atlanta Chapter of the American Heart Association. Dr. Wright also actively promotes National Women’s Health Week & Annual Women’s Health Conversations. Below, we join her in conversation to learn more about osteoporosis in aging women and what can be done to prevent it.
“Bones can break as a result of accidents. If your bones are dense enough, they can withstand most falls,” says Dr. Wright. “However, bones deteriorated by osteoporosis are more vulnerable to breaks. The hip is a common candidate for osteoporosis, and is most vulnerable to fractures. A broken hip can lead to a downward spiral of disability. Osteoporosis is also common in the wrist, knee and the spine,” says Dr. Wright.
Osteoporosis in Aging Women
Dr. Vonda Wright reveals that the hormone estrogen enables women to make and rebuild bones. “However, as with menopause, the woman’s estrogen levels drop, eventually speeding up the bone loss. This explains why osteoporosis is most common among older females,” she says.
Dr. Wright recommends that women get screened for osteoporosis regularly after the age of 65. Additionally, women under this age with a high risk for fractures should also be screened regularly.
Reducing the Risk of Osteoporosis
Thankfully, osteoporosis is preventable. “There is a lot that can be done to diminish your risk of osteoporosis. Taking calcium, vitamin D, and exercising is a where to begin,” Dr. Wright says. She explains that calcium is the vital mineral that maintains bone strength. This mineral can be easily obtained from the food you eat— including milk and milk products and dark green leafy vegetables like kale and spinach—or from dietary supplements. She further emphasized that women over age 50 should take at least 1200 mg of calcium each day.
Vitamin D is also essential as it allows the body to absorb calcium. “With aging, your body necessitates more vitamin D that is produced by your skin in the sunlight. Alternatively, you can intake vitamin D from dietary supplements or from specific foods, like milk, eggs, fatty fish, and fortified cereals,” says Dr. Wright.
Exercise strengthens bones, too, particularly weight-bearing exercise like walking, jogging, tennis and dancing. The pull in the muscles acts as a reminder for your bone cells to keep the tissue dense.
Smoking, on the other hand, deteriorates bones. The same goes for heavy drinking. Additionally, some drugs may also increase the risk of osteoporosis.
“And even if you have osteoporosis, it is never too late to get serious about your bone health. As your bones are rebuilding all the time, you can always promote more bone growth by providing them with exercise, calcium, and vitamin D,” says Dr. Wright. “In fact, this is precisely why exercise is essential, for it shapes balance and confidence, thus preventing fractures. Some exercises even provide loads necessary to build bone mass, along with improving balance and coordination—empowering you to catch yourself before you topple.”
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