Dr. Volkow’s work has been instrumental in demonstrating that drug addiction is a disease of the human brain. As a research psychiatrist and scientist, Dr. Volkow pioneered the use of brain imaging to investigate the toxic effects and addictive properties of abuseable drugs. Her studies have documented changes in the dopamine system affecting, among others, the functions of frontal brain regions involved with motivation, drive, and pleasure in addiction. (Volkow, 2013)
Homelessness is a persistent problem—nearly 690,000 people are homeless on a given
night in America—and it takes a terrible toll in sickness and mortality. The leading cause of
death among homeless Americans used to be HIV, but that has been replaced by a new epidemic:
drug overdose. (Volkow, 2013)
Drug overdoses accounted for almost 17 percent of the deaths in a cohort of over 28,000 current or former homeless adults studied from 2003 to 2008. Of those overdose deaths, 81 percent involved opioids. (Volkow, 2013)
In the general population, it is prescription drugs, particularly opioid painkillers, that now are the main cause of overdose death, outnumbering deaths from all other drugs (including heroin) combined. Of the opioids contributing to overdoses in the Boston study, the bulk were indeed painkillers and other non-heroin narcotics. (Volkow, 2013)
The toll of substance abuse among homeless people goes beyond fatal overdoses. Other deaths caused by substance use disorders, especially alcoholism. Looking deeper into the ...
... middle of paper ...
...ult they lost custody and gave up their parental rights. Sadly, the resident got “lost” in the “system” and once she turned 18, she was basically on her own.
I also worked with male resident who is an alcoholic and compulsive gambler. I was able to find and set up dates and times for him to attend Alcoholics Anonymous and Gamblers Anonymous meetings which I often met him at. He stated he liked the AA meetings but didn’t care for the GA meetings because they were too long (2 hours). He also stated that the only reason he stayed at the GA meetings was because they had good coffee and pastries.
Some of the staff stated that this particular resident had no desire to attend any meetings, and once I came along and chatted with him, met him at these meetings he has made remarkable progress in attitude and behavior. In the words of Dr. Morgan-Gardner, “kindness matters”.
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