Frozen Yogurt 5K Raises Over $20,000 to Build Playground

More than 200 runners and walkers gathered in downtown Northampton on August 26 for the Gándara Center’s 4th Annual Frozen Yogurt 5K Run/Walk. The event raised more than $20,000 to build a universally accessible playground at Gándara’s Mooreland residential group home for children aged newborn to 12.

“We’re still accepting donations for this incredibly worthy cause,” said Lisa Brecher, director of communications and development at the Gándara Center. “This playground will provide the youngest individuals we serve with some joy during an incredibly stressful time in their lives. Giving these children a safe and fun outlet in their backyard will help provide a positive light to their stay.”

Congratulations to this year’s medal winners:

Men 13-55: Michael Giles (19:03), Kevin Rogers (19:14), Mark Dinicola (19:56)

Women 13-55: Laura Christof (20:35), Abigail Tuohey (21:05), Sue Scott (22:19)

Boys 12 and under: Teddy Cyr (21:32), Billy Warren (25:03), Noah Smith (26:28)

Girls 12 and under: Sabrina Hopkins (28:17), Elizabeth Shaw (31:27), Rachel Huynh (31:34)

Men 55 and over: Alan Hunt (25:15), Herm Eichstaedt (25:14), Ken Tucker (27:19)

Women 55 and over: Candace Curran (27:48), Barbara O’Connor (28:54), Ann Van Dyke (30:53)

For any questions regarding the event—or for those interested in having their business sponsor next year’s race­—please contact Lisa Brecher at 413-296-6214 or lbrecher@gandaracenter.org.

The Gándara Center would like to thank this year’s race sponsors: (Presenting Sponsor) GoBerry; (Platinum) W.B. Mason; (Gold) Insurance Center of New England, PeoplesBank, CIGNA, Country Bank; (Silver) Marcotte Ford; (Bronze) Skoler, Abbott & Presser PC, Whittlesey PC, Allied Flooring and Paint, Westfield Bank, This End Up, Merchants Fleet Management; (Road Race Signage) Copycat Print Shop, CheckWriters, River Valley Co-op; (Sideline Cheerleaders) Eastern Electronics & Security, Inc., Northampton Area Pediatrics.

Special thanks to our 20-plus volunteers!

Runners and walkers: your feedback is essential to helping us grow and make this event even bigger and better: please take our short survey at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/froyo5k.

For official race time and finish line photos, be sure to visit https://my.racewire.com/results/35166. We’ve also posted more than 70 photos from the festivities on our Facebook page: www.facebook.com/gandaramentalhealth. Please like, share, and tag away!

medal winners

flexing

finish line

 

 

By |August 28th, 2018|Uncategorized|Comments Off on Frozen Yogurt 5K Raises Over $20,000 to Build Playground

September is National Recovery Month: Join the Celebration!

Every September, the Gándara Center participates in National Recovery Month, which is sponsored by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. This longstanding observance is designed to increase awareness and understanding of mental and substance use disorders, celebrate people in recovery, and laud the contributions of treatment and service providers.

Hope for Holyoke is one of several Gándara recovery support centers hosting events in conjunction with National Recovery Month (see below). For Debra Flynn-Gonzalez, Hope for Holyoke program director, it is an occasion to see the silver lining in the cloud of the current opioid epidemic: the people who overcome their addictions. “At a time when the opiate crisis is so prominent, and we’re often focused on overdose deaths and the tragic consequences of addiction, this is a great day to celebrate recovery,” she said at last year’s Holyoke Recovery Day.

Indeed, the focus of National Recovery Month has evolved over the years to shine the spotlight on the achievements of those in recovery. Recovery Month began in 1989 as Treatment Works! Month, which honored the work of substance use treatment professionals. The name was changed in 1998 to Alcohol and Drug Addiction Recovery Month, expanding the occasion to include individuals who have succeeded in their recovery. It received its present name in 2011 to encompass all parts of the behavioral health industry, including researchers in the field.

The theme for Recovery Month 2018 is “Join the Voices for Recovery: Invest in Health, Home, Purpose, and Community,” exploring how integrated care, a strong community, sense of purpose, and leadership contributes to effective treatments that sustain the recovery of persons with mental and substance use disorders.

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Hope for Holyoke program director Debra Flynn-Gonzalez and Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse at last year’s Holyoke Recovery Day.


 

Gándara Center National Recovery Month Events

PIER Recovery Center of Cape Cod Third Anniversary Celebration
Wednesday, September 5
1:00 p.m.-4:00 p.m.
209 Main Street, Hyannis
Speakers, volunteer recognition, food and music

Plymouth Recovery Rally
Sunday, September 16
Noon-4:00 p.m.
Plymouth Recovery Center
71 Obery Street., Plymouth

Live music will be performed by Paul Horton, PRC Peer Coordinator Dan Kelly, and PRC Peer Support Specialist Jason Wamboldt. There will also be games for kids, face painting and a food truck from Vela Juice Bar.

Hope for Holyoke and Stairway to Recovery to Join March in Boston
Monday, September 17
The Annual Massachusetts Organization for Addiction Recovery (MOAR) and Friends Recovery March and Celebration will consist of a rally in Boston at the State House at 9:00 a.m. followed by a march to the celebration at Faneuil Hall. There will be speakers and performers, and the afternoon program will feature artists in recovery.

For residents of western Massachusetts, the MOAR bus will leave the Northgate Shopping Center, 1985 Main Street in Springfield, at 6:15 a.m. Those interested in the trip should contact Barbara Gallo, MOAR Western Massachusetts Parents Support Group, at 413-246-0677. The bus will also stop at Hope for Holyoke, 100 Suffolk Street, Holyoke, at 6:00 a.m. The bus will return to the Springfield area at about 6:00 p.m.  To board the bus at Hope for Holyoke, contact Deb Flynn-Gonzalez at 413-551-1020, x5101.

Many of those affiliated with Gándara’s Stairway to Recovery support center will take the 7:42 a.m. commuter train from the MBTA Brockton Station at 7 Commercial Street to South Station in Boston, or you can meet them at the State House rally at 9:00 a.m.

MOAR Western Massachusetts Recovery Day
Friday, September 21
Holy Name Social Center, 37 Alderman Street, Springfield
10:50-2:00 p.m. ceremony, as well as lunch, spoken word, music, and dance
MOAR is the main organizer for this event, which will include a Gándara Center resource table. To RSVP, contact Barbara Gallo at 413-246-0677.

Holyoke Recovery Day
Friday, September 28
Recovery march and celebration starts at Heritage State Park on Appleton Street. The march ends at Veterans Park on Dwight Street.
12:00-1:00 Gather in Heritage Park for the March for Recovery. Bring a sign to show what you are celebrating about your recovery!

1:00-4:00 Veterans Park Recovery Celebration

  • Opening remarks, special guests, speakers
  • Mayor Alex MorseProclamation for Holyoke Recovery Day
  • Personal recovery stories of hope
  • Resource tables

There will be live music and dance, snacks, refreshments, giveaways, games, and prizes.

* * * * *

Hope for Holyoke has built a National Recovery Month awareness float that will take part in the Springfield Puerto Rican Day Parade on Sunday, September 16. We invite you to join us in Springfield for the festivities to celebrate Puerto Rican heritage and help us raise awareness and honor those in recovery! The parade kicks off on the corner of Main and Wason Streets at 11:00 a.m., marches down Main Street, and ends on Boland Way. The event is free and open to the public. Interested in marching with the Gándara Center contingent? Contact Lisa Brecher at lbrecher@gandaracenter.org.

By |August 21st, 2018|Uncategorized|Comments Off on September is National Recovery Month: Join the Celebration!

Health Benefits of Play: Why We’re Building a Playground at Our Group Home for Children

Playtime is an opportunity for children to absorb various physical, mental, and emotional benefits. It promotes wellbeing, informs critical thinking, and encourages a level of cognitive function that enables relationship-building, language proficiency, and social development. The health benefits of play abound. That is why we are building a playground at our Mooreland residential group home for children, and we need your help raising the funds.

A study set to be published in the September 2018 issue of Pediatrics highlights the important role play has on the lives of children. It instills in them a sense of how to learn. Through peer engagement, it instructs on how to work together to solve complex problems. Fostering collaboration, creativity, and community is crucial to the positive development of kids, and can be achieved with the help of playgrounds.

The physical influence of play is incredibly healthy. Play is essentially exercise, both for the brain and for the body. It is associated with low levels of fatigue, injury, and depression, and high levels of agility, coordination, balance, flexibility, and range of motion. And after participating in physical activity, children are more likely to pay attention in classroom settings.

Mooreland playground specs

Play has a direct effect on the structure of the brain, stimulating proteins that refine the area of the brain associated with play. In fact, measurable differences can be observed in protein production due to the absence of play. Stress is closely linked with play. High amounts of play are related to low levels of cortisol, which suggests play reduces stress or unstressed individuals play more.

Our Mooreland residential group home for children provides the youngest individuals we serve with some joy during an incredibly stressful time in their lives. For anyone who has experienced trauma in their lives, being removed from their homes and everything familiar to them, to be relocated to group housing, is overwhelming. The most restrictive barriers to play include neighborhood threats such as violence, drugs, and guns; low access to public spaces and recreational facilities; and unstable family infrastructure. Giving these children a safe and fun outlet in their backyard will help provide a positive light to their stay.

The Mooreland home provides shelter and assess youth who are moved from one housing unit to another. Services include comprehensive assessment; medication management; individual and family therapy; anger management and life skills group; education support; sensory therapy; transportation; recreation; and comprehensive case management using a trauma-informed approach.

There is still time to register for the 4th Annual Frozen Yogurt 5K to help us raise money for then Mooreland playground. In return you will receive a timed bib courtesy of RaceWire, free frozen yogurt courtesy of GoBerry, and, if you place in our Male, Female, 12 and Under, and 50 and Over category, a medal.

The Frozen Yogurt 5K will take place on Sunday, August 26, in Northampton. The starting line will be by the Courthouse lawn (19 King Street), and the race will commence at 9 a.m.

By |August 20th, 2018|News, Science|Comments Off on Health Benefits of Play: Why We’re Building a Playground at Our Group Home for Children

Read Our August Newsletter Online!

Check out Gándara Center’s August Newsletter online at bit.ly/AugNewz. You can read about our 4th Annual Frozen Yogurt 5K on August 26—complete with an interactive route map; a donor profile of Matt Bannister, first vice president for marketing and Innovation at PeoplesBank; local and statewide Gándara National Recovery Month Events coming up in September; our Intensive Care Coordination and In-Home Therapy services…and many more news items.

We’ve ramped up our coverage of not only Gándara Center and the recovery community in general, but also mental health and wellness, as well as interviews with Gándara Center subject matter experts in the news media.

By |August 17th, 2018|News, Uncategorized|Comments Off on Read Our August Newsletter Online!

Synthetic Substances: What is K2 & Why is it Dangerous?

Beginning Tuesday afternoon, people in New Haven, Conn. began exhibiting overdose symptoms  in large numbers. By Wednesday at least 70 people overdosed. By Friday, that number reached almost 90. The cause was the inhalation of a substance known as ‘K2,’ or ‘Spice,’ which may have also been laced with the powerful opioid fentanyl. So what is K2 and why is it dangerous?

What is K2?

K2 is a strain of synthetic marijuana that can be bought and sold at convenience stores, depending on location. Though synthetic marijuana varies from producer to producer, it is essentially dried leaves sprayed with chemicals that affect cannabinoid receptors in the brain.

According to Dr. Kathryn Hawk, assistant professor of emergency medicine at the Yale School of Medicine, synthetic marijuana like K2 are often “made in these kind of clandestine laboratories that are predominantly overseas… But they don’t represent, in any way shape or form, something that is kind of diverted from a pharmaceutical company or anything along those lines.”

Why is K2 Dangerous?

What is scary about synthetic marijuana is that nobody really knows what it is produced with. It can be laced with other, sometimes more powerful substances like fentanyl, which was suspected in the New Haven case. Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid so powerful it is estimated to be between 25-50 times stronger than heroin, and 50-100 times stronger than morphine.

People tend to think that because a substance like K2 is referred to as “synthetic marijuana,” it has the same effects as actual marijuana but that is not true. As noted by the Drug Policy Alliance, negative side effects of synthetic marijuana can include nausea and vomiting, seizures, aggression and agitation, respiratory failure, and loss of consciousness.

Emergency room visits and calls to poison control centers peaked in the early 2010s, but the accessibility of synthetic marijuana makes it a continuous issue. In some cases, users have died of complications.

Is K2 legal?

Generally, K2 and other synthetic marijuana strains are illegal. In 2012, President Obama signed the Synthetic Drug Abuse Prevention Act, labeling multiple types of the substance a Schedule I drug. Nearly every single state has its own laws, too, though they vary in scope. Synthetic marijuana manufacturers have found ways to circumvent these laws by slightly altering the chemical formulas found in their synthetic products.

In Massachusetts, the law against synthetic drugs is punishable by a $200 fine, six-month prison sentence, or both.

The Massachusetts law states:

“No person shall intentionally smell or inhale the fumes of any substance having the property of releasing toxic vapors, for the purpose of causing a condition of intoxication, euphoria, excitement, exhilaration, stupefaction, or dulled senses or nervous system, nor possess, buy or sell any such substance for the purpose of violating or aiding another to violate this section.”

Some states have also proposed strengthening the laws they already have on the books; for some, the crime outweighs the punishment.

Treatment

Because synthetic marijuana does not contain THC, the cannabinoid agent active in marijuana, K2 does not show up in toxicology results. This makeS it difficult for healthcare providers and emergency response teams to determine patterns for who uses them and which ones they use.

In New Haven, public health officials administered the overdose reversal drug Naloxone, commonly known as narcan. According to the Washington Post, at least 50 doses were given out. Some did not initially respond to the narcan and had to be given higher concentrations at the hospital.

Some people who experienced overdose symptoms were treated only to return to the New Haven Green, take more of the K2, and need narcan treatment again.

Luckily, none of the New Haven victims died.

Image via Public Domain/ Courtesy of the DEA
By |August 17th, 2018|Events, News|Comments Off on Synthetic Substances: What is K2 & Why is it Dangerous?

Gándara in the News: The K2 Mass Overdose in New Haven

On August 16 Western Mass News interviewed Deb Flynn-Gonzalez, program director for Gándara Center’s Hope for Holyoke, about the implications of the mass overdose in New Haven on August 15 and 16. Read the story and view the segment here.

At least 99 people overdosed on or around the New Haven Green after taking K2, a synthetic marijuana, which was suspected to be laced with opioids—and some reports saying PCP. In the following days Hope for Holyoke made sure to talk about the incident with everyone who came in for their recovery sessions.

The story pointed out that since the rash of overdoses made national headlines it had potential to impact people in recovery for addiction. “With a story like this out in the news it can be triggering for people, so it’s important for you to be able to talk about that,” said Flynn Gonzalez.

The story also noted that when news broke Wednesday that there were multiple overdoses in New Haven, the Gándara Center put out a Facebook post detailing K2 overdose symptoms.

Hope for Holyoke

Hope for Holyoke offers free, no-insurance-needed services including relapse prevention and tobacco cessation support groups, social events, access to computers for job readiness/job search activities, and advocacy and recovery coaching. Support also includes peer governance where participants form advisory boards and use community meetings to create policies such as Code of Ethics and Code of Conduct, and determine program activities such as peer support groups and participation in health fairs, community events and celebrations/holidays.

All paths to recovery are accepted. Participants must be 18 years of age or older. Parents may bring adolescents or children to the center if they follow the center’s policy related to supervision and attendance. Members who come under the influence of substances or alcohol are given a choice to go for treatment or they will be asked to leave and come back when they are not under the influence.

Location:
100 Suffolk Street
Holyoke, MA 01040
Contact: (413) 561-1020
Hours:
Monday 9 a.m. – 8 p.m.
Tuesday 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Wednesday 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Thursday 9 a.m. – 8 p.m.
Friday 9 a.m. – 8 p.m.
Saturday 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Sunday 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Referral:
Open, Self
No costs, no insurance needed.
By |August 17th, 2018|Gandara in the News, News|Comments Off on Gándara in the News: The K2 Mass Overdose in New Haven

Overdose Death Data Show Spike in Fentanyl Use in Massachusetts & Nationwide [Report]

In 2017, as many as 72,000 Americans died from drug overdoses caused by opioids. The statistics were compiled and published by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Wednesday afternoon. The CDC overdose death data represent a 6.6% increase from 2016 nationally. In Massachusetts, though, overdose deaths decreased in the past year.

It is suggested that the increased use and potency of fentanyl is a major factor behind the rise of overdose deaths. Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid so powerful it is estimated to be between 25-50 times stronger than heroin, and 50-100 times stronger than morphine.

Across the U.S., overdose deaths caused by synthetic opioids spiked from approximately 21,000 in January 2017 to more than 29,000 in January 2018. Massachusetts is experiencing a similar trend. Fentanyl overdose deaths are on the rise. Between 2014-2017, fentanyl-related overdose deaths doubled.

Also in that same time span, general opioid-related overdose deaths in Massachusetts more than doubled among Hispanics–a rate higher than any other demographic in the state.

In New Haven, Conn. beginning Tuesday evening more than 70 people overdosed after using a synthetic marijuana called K2 or Spice. At least 35 people were treated for overdoses on Wednesday. No fatalities were reported. It is possible the drug was laced with powerful opioids, no excluding fentanyl.

While heroin-related overdose deaths showed signs of decline nationwide and in Massachusetts, cocaine-related deaths rose in both cases.

Specifically in Massachusetts, overdose deaths with cocaine and fentanyl present have risen sharply since 2015. This figure represents polysubstance use, meaning the illicit use of either substances, or cocaine with fentanyl present, hinting at the possibility of cocaine laced with fentanyl.

The data showed minority populations (i.e., Hispanics and Black, non-Hispanics) already at higher risk of experiencing opioid-related overdose, and the recent rise over the past few years was more prominent among these populations.

The Gándara Center provides a variety of addiction treatment services to those in need, from long-term residential recovery to peer-to-peer support groups. We serve more than 10,000 people from all backgrounds per year at 45 locations across the state.

By |August 16th, 2018|News|Comments Off on Overdose Death Data Show Spike in Fentanyl Use in Massachusetts & Nationwide [Report]

Transgender Governor Candidate Helps Focus Attention on LGBTQI+ Substance Use & Mental Health

On Monday, Christine Hallquist won Vermont’s Democratic Primary in the contest to become the state’s next governor. In a state where the governorship has passed back and forth from Democratic to Republican hands on an every-other-person basis since the 1960s, a Democratic Primary victory typically does not make news. But this year is different. Christine Hallquist is the first transgender governor candidate nominated by a major party.

Hallquist’s victory is an historic step towards the normalization of people who identify as LGBTQI+ as legitimate holders of public office. Just as significant, Hallquist’s win helps to reposition the spotlight on the substance use disorders (SUDs) and mental health issues plaguing the LGBTQI+ community at rates higher and more harmful than people who identify as heterosexual.

For too long the LGBTQI+ community has been marginalized, stigmatized, and prejudiced against when it comes to SUDs and mental health. They suffer the many of the same addiction and treatment problems facing heterosexuals; because of longstanding—albeit, fading—biases, they are more likely to experience SUDs, suicidal tendencies, discrimination, and disparate care.

According to the National Alliance of Mental Illness (NAMI), LGBTQI+ individuals are “3 times more likely than others to experience a mental health condition such as major depression or generalized anxiety disorder.” This is largely due to the pressures of coming out and the fear of being rejected not only by loved ones but by the community at large, which can lead to anxiety, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), substance use, and suicide.

A 2016 study supported by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) found LGBTQI+ community members were more likely to use illicit drugs in the past year, to be current cigarette smokers, and to be current alcohol drinkers compared to heterosexuals.

LGBTQI+ and Heterosexual percent using illicit drugs

Non-heterosexuals are at an increased risk of experiencing discrimination within a number of community institutions. The Center for American Progress found that 43 percent of gay and 90 percent of transgender people have experienced workplace discrimination and harassment. Nearly 60 percent of gay and 70 percent of transgender people have experienced housing discrimination, including being denied affordable housing. Gay adults are about twice as likely to be without health insurance, making their healthcare less accessible and more expensive.

Race and ethnicity also weigh heavily on LGBTQI+ people. Those who identify as Hispanic face an additional burden because, according to a 2017 study published in American Journal of Men’s Health, “it is feared they will display effeminate behaviors, violating traditional codes of masculinity.” They are pressured to conform to rigid gender roles and when they fail to do so, they face higher rates of family rejection. This can lead to depression and in their despair gay Hispanic men are more likely to engage in sexual practices with high-risk exposure to HIV.

There are a number of measures we can take to ensure the safety and good health of the LGBTQI+ community. We must acknowledge that their sexual orientation and preferences do not define them and should have no impact on their basic human rights, including access to health services, housing, and fair employment practices.

We must also put into place effective treatment infrastructure for those in need. This includes opening and properly staffing facilities, residential homes, and clinics; implementing community programs to educate and inform the general public; and advocating at the local, state, and federal government levels. All of this will lead to reducing stigmas, but we must take care to do this in both the long-term and the short-term.

Christine Hallquist’s primary win is incredibly important to the LGBTQI+ community not only because it advances the cause in terms of political trajectory, but because it helps emphasize that this community is composed of people with more incidents of SUDS than heterosexuals but are receiving less care.

The Gándara Center fully recognizes the rights and needs of the LGBTQI+ community. Our youth residential programs have the capacity to, and are operated by staff trained to, engage and support this population.

By |August 15th, 2018|Events, News, Politics|Comments Off on Transgender Governor Candidate Helps Focus Attention on LGBTQI+ Substance Use & Mental Health

Help is Available for Youth with Serious Emotional or Behavioral Health Needs—and Their Families

Do you know any youth or children with serious emotional disturbances (SED) in need of intensive care coordination services—or who could benefit from in-home therapy? Help is out there. The Gándara Center specializes in providing a variety of bilingual, bicultural services to youth with SED and their families using a wraparound approach.

Intensive Care Coordination

Our Intensive Care Coordination (ICC) services focus on developing skills and natural community supports to reduce crises and the need for hospitalization. The Gándara Center uses a culturally sensitive team-based approach made up of formal supports, such as a teacher, psychiatrist, pediatrician, or outpatient clinician—and natural supports, such as a neighbor or family member who knows the child well and who is going to be in that child’s life for a long period of time. The family and the youth decide who is on the team.

Families can call or self-refer, or referrals can be made on their behalf from a pediatrician, the child’s school, or any state agency or professional who is presently working with the family.

There are immediate openings for our ICC services. Families or providers who have more questions or would like to make a referral can call 413-846-0445 or visit our office at 80 Commercial Street in Holyoke.

Our admission requirements: youth must be under 21 years of age, be enrolled in MassHealth Common or Standard, and meet diagnosis and guidelines for serious emotional disturbance. Youth being discharged from a hospital/residential facility may be enrolled within 180 days of discharge.

View this video for more information on intensive care coordination: https://youtu.be/2cCYQxLsnAg.

In-Home Therapy

The Gándara Center’s In-Home Therapy (IHT) is an intensive clinical service that works to support families with a child who struggles in the home, but also potentially at school. Those who would benefit from In-Home Therapy are families who feel that they have tried outpatient therapy and other supports and still have lots of needs that are unmet.

The therapy is designed to increase the family’s ability to support the healthy functioning of a youth within the family, home, and community. The IHT team is made up of practitioner(s), family, and youth. Together they develop a treatment plan to address issues specific to the youth and family. Intervention techniques are designed to help in the following ways: solve problems, set limits, manage risk, communicate, build skills to strengthen the family, and improve ways of interacting with others. In addition, the practitioner helps the family identify and use community resources and develop a support system to maintain progress. Services are provided in the youth’s natural settings and include other individuals in his or her life who are important supports.

Read about our admissions requirements and the contact information for IHT services in greater Holyoke, Fitchburg, Boston, Brockton, Taunton, New Bedford, and Fall River.

View this video for more information on In-Home Therapy: https://youtu.be/Pp7k9Kos7k8.

By |August 14th, 2018|Uncategorized|Comments Off on Help is Available for Youth with Serious Emotional or Behavioral Health Needs—and Their Families

Minorities in These Jobs are More Likely to Suffer Opioid Overdose Deaths [Report]

Residents with physical labor jobs in Massachusetts are more susceptible to substance use, opioid addiction, and fatal overdose. A study published by the Department of Public Health examines opioid-related overdose deaths by industry and occupation from 2011 to 2015. It found that construction workers; farm, fishing, and forest workers; and transportation and warehouse workers have the highest rate of overdose death.

The data included in the study indicate that opioids pose the greatest threat to Hispanics working in natural resources, construction, and maintenance occupations; followed by service occupations. Of Hispanics working in natural resources, construction, and maintenance, there were 76 (or 26%) fatal overdoses recorded, and in service occupations there were 66 (or 22.6%) overdoses recorded. For Black, non-Hispanics in service occupations, there were 51 (or 32.1%) recorded fatal overdoses.

Opioid-related Overdose Deaths by Industry

Data via Department of Public Health

Data via Department of Public Health

When we look at the data from a perspective of income, the risk for Hispanics and Black, non-Hispanics is clearer. The median income ranges with the highest overdose rate was $40,000–$49,999 followed by $20,000–$29,999 and <$20,000.

According to the U.S. Census American Community Survey, in 2010 the per capita income for Hispanics in Massachusetts was $15,098; in 2014 is jumped slightly to $16,889. For Black, non-Hispanics during those same time periods, the per capita income was $19,554 and $21,725.

This means Hispanics and Black, non-Hispanics are susceptible to opioid-related overdoses, even if they aren’t in service or natural resources, construction, and maintenance occupations. Without more access to educational services and opportunities to rise through income levels and tax brackets, Hispanics and Black, non-Hispanics will continue to be at high risk.

Image via Department of Public Health

Image via Department of Public Health

 

It may come as no surprise that these vulnerable industries and jobs are ones in which workers have high rates of work-related injuries and illness, lower availability of paid sick leave, and lower job security. Because of this, workers who sustain injuries in these professions are widely prescribed opioids to manage the pain.

A 2011 review of studies analyzing the use of prescribed opioids among workers receiving workers’ compensation found the average percent of injured workers prescribed opioids was 31.8%. In addition, 25% of workers’ compensation were for opioid pain medication.

It’s important to note that there was a 24% decline in the average amount of opioid use per injured worker between 2010–2012 and 2013–2015 in Massachusetts, meaning harm reduction strategies are showing signs of effectiveness, according to the Department of Public Health.

“Work-related injuries often serve as the initiation for opioid pain medication, which can subsequently lead to opioid misuse,” said Public Health Commissioner Monica Bharel, MD. “Ensuring that jobs are safe, that the risk of injury is low and that workers have the time for rehabilitation and are not self-medicating to keep working are all key to decreasing opioid overdose deaths among workers.”

But perhaps the biggest takeaway here is that when it comes to the Massachusetts workforce, employees in low-wage, labor-intensive jobs that don’t require extensive higher education are more likely to develop an addiction to opioids and are more likely to suffer an overdose death as a result.

The study reviewed 4,302 opioid-related overdose deaths via Massachusetts death certificates. Statistical data for people who identify as Hispanic and black, non-Hispanic (the populations Gándara Center supports and promotes) may be an underestimate. According to the study, “death certificates among these racial/ethnic groups were more likely to have missing industry and occupation information,” and were therefore excluded.

By |August 9th, 2018|News, Politics|Comments Off on Minorities in These Jobs are More Likely to Suffer Opioid Overdose Deaths [Report]