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This past April, in an interview with former addict Dax Shepard, famous rapper, Macklemore, born Benjamin Haggerty, admitted to relapsing due to the global Coronavirus Pandemic. Macklemore, who entered drug treatment in 2008 and 2011, says he doesn’t actually count the days of his sobriety but that he is constantly working on himself. "Look, I've been in and out of the (recovery meeting) rooms for 11 years, I don't know how much time I have today, seven, eight months, I don't really count anymore," he said.
Macklemore’s relapse admittance occurred in light of Shepard’s admittance to relapsing. The rapper said that listening to Shepard’s podcast on it made the rapper feel less alone in his recovery process. "The beautiful thing about recovery is when we do that, it lets other people feel that they're not alone, and they can actually open up and share about that s--t. It made me feel as someone who had relapsed again, like a month or two before, that I'm not alone, it's OK that I did this s--t again, it's what we (addicts) do," he said about the life-changing experience.
Although Macklemore’s drug addiction was tied to various substances, one particular kind of drug, synthetic opioids, stays at the forefront of his drug addiction misuse. In an interview with MTV, Macklemore says the most intense drug he has abused was Oxycontin. Synthetic opioids like Oxycontin, Vicodin, codeine and morphine account for nearly 73% of all opioid overdose deaths (excluding methadone), as reported by the CDC. Opioids—mainly synthetic opioids (other than methadone)—are currently the main driver of drug overdose deaths. 72.9% of opioid-involved overdose deaths involve synthetic opioids. (I like to add superscript at the end of sentences that mentioned source information (makes it easier for readers to find the sources related to specific information mentioned in the content)
Although the rapper didn’t use Oxycontin for long periods (5 to 6 days at a time), he quickly became addicted to the drug. “It’s synthetic heroin. That’s what it is; that is the definition of it. And seeing the grip that it had and just doing it for five or six days, sweating through my sheets coming off of it, shaking… I remember going outside and just balling. Like, there is no happiness left in my body, in my mind. There is no serotonin, there is nothing that’s making me happy, that’s gone. You realize why this pill has become an epidemic,” he said.
Macklemore’s addiction and withdrawal from prescription drugs is mentioned in his song titled “Drug Dealer,”. The song even mentions that drug dealers who sell drugs like synthetic opioids are well-trained and well educated doctors.
There is no doubt that the Covid Pandemic changed everyone’s life in one way or another. Just like Macklemore, many of those changes included the development or worsening of substance use and/or mental health disorders. In some of these cases, people relapsed and started using drugs and/or alcohol again to deal with the stress, loneliness, unemployment and anxiety brought on by the pandemic.
Isolation played a major role in this ongoing problem. Isolation from the outside world feels similar to the isolation some people feel with a mental health disorder and/or a substance abuse problem and the pandemic only made it worse. Additionally people in addiction or mental health treatment had a hard time dealing with their recovery as contact with the world around them diminished and traditional options like in-person counseling and in-patient care were shut down.
The pandemic has had a direct impact on people in addiction recovery, contributing to a rise in drug addiction relapse rates and overdose cases. Nearly one-third of people in the U.S. who drink alcohol have increased their consumption since the pandemic began and 30% of people in the U.S. who use drugs said they increased their consumption after the pandemic began. Shockingly, the CDC reported that deaths from overdoses rose 27% in the 12 months ending in August 2020 over the prior 12-month period.
An opioid is a substance that acts on opioid receptors to produce morphine-like effects. Medically, they are primarily used for pain relief, including anesthesia. Opioids can be prescription medications often referred to as painkillers, or they can be so-called street drugs, such as heroin. In addition to a sense of controlled pain, opioids can make the user feel relaxed, happy and/or “high”. Some other side effects can include slowed breathing, constipation, nausea, confusion and drowsiness.
Long-term effects of opioid use include but are not limited to:
One in four patients receiving long-term opioid therapy in a primary care setting struggles with opioid addiction. In 2019, an estimated 10.1 million people aged 12 or older misused opioids in the past year. Specifically, 9.7 million people misused prescription pain relievers and 745,000 people used heroin. No state experienced a significant decrease of opioid usage from 2018-2019 but of that usage, most were reported in the Western states (67.9%). Previously, the East had the highest increases in deaths involving synthetic opioids, and the Midwest had the highest increases in deaths involving psychostimulants.
When big-name celebrities like Macklemore admit to pandemic relapses, the public’s eyes are directed to the need for addiction treatment and awareness of substance use disorders. With that said, treatment varies amongst patients but what is most important is that you seek help for yourself or a loved one.
One method used in treatment centers is medically monitored detox. This process refers to the discontinuing of drugs and substituting them with medications such as methadone, which can help alleviate the symptoms of withdrawal and cravings. Specifically, some successful methods of treatment for opioid abuse are counseling, opioid replacement therapy, and gradual discontinuation of opioids.
Pairing medication with residential treatment or support programs generally has the most success. To learn more about our opioid drug addiction treatment and how to get started today, call Banyan Treatment Centers at (877) 856-5902.