The news is full of stories about overdoses lately. But people can become numb to statistics, graphs, and charts. Sometimes it takes a human story to understand the importance and urgency that the subject of addiction demands.
Addiction and recovery are complicated topics. It gets even more complex when one takes mental health into consideration. Many people don’t realize the important role that mental health plays when it comes to addiction. In fact, most people assume that any mental health disorder is a result of someone’s substance abuse.
This view is counter-productive. It prevents people from getting the help they need. It also causes people to engage in cycles of self-blame. These cycles increase the risk they’ll relapse or avoid seeking treatment.
This post looks at the story of Margot Kidder and her experience. It does so to talk about the various challenges regarding drug and alcohol addiction, recovery, dual diagnosis, and overdose. Use this information to get a better understanding of addiction, recovery, and mental health. This understanding could save your life, or the life of someone you care about.
Drug and Alcohol Addiction Problems
There are lots of different reasons people start using drugs or alcohol. Some people use them to self-medicate. Others are looking for a rush or thrill. Still others grow up in a culture of drug and alcohol abuse. Finally, some people get hooked after they’re prescribed drugs by their doctor.
This section looks at Margot Kidder’s story. It also covers addiction statistics and trends in the United States. Her story and the information presented show why it’s important to understand stories of addiction on a human level.
Margot Kidder’s Story: Part 1
Margot Kidder is best known for her role as Lois Lane in the early Superman films. Margot was a constant the film series. However, those who followed her career and life also know her from her continuing battle with bipolar disorder.
Many people think that movie stars don’t have any problems. They think that stars make enough money that they don’t have anything to worry about. Sadly, Margot Kidder’s story shows that tragedy can happen to anyone.
She started her career in the 1960’s. It began with low-budget Canadian films. She then started appearing in larger roles. Eventually she appeared as Lois Lane in the Superman movies.
However, Margot had her own share of problems. She was seriously injured in a car accident in 1990. The accident left her paralyzed. She could not work for two years, which caused tremendous financial issues for her.
Her insurance company refused to cover the cost of corrective surgery. The result was six figures worth of medical bills. That caused her to declare bankruptcy. She even resorted to selling her jewelry piece by piece to cover her bills.
These problems are only part of the issues that Kidder faced in her lifetime. They helped contribute to her addiction to cocaine and alcohol. Sadly, many people turn to drugs and alcohol to deal with their problems.
Addiction Problems in the US
The United States is in the midst of an addiction problem. Nearly everyone has heard of the opioid crisis. But America’s addiction issues don’t end there. Recent statistics and US addiction trends demonstrate that lots of people are at risk.
US Addiction Statistics
The government publishes lots of information about addiction statistics in the US. These figures range from the cost that drug and alcohol abuse have on the economy to the effects on individual citizens.
The human cost is tragic. But it’s helpful to understand the wider effects of addiction and substance abuse. These statistics show that it’s a problem everyone should be worried about.
For example, the government estimates that, in 2010, alcohol abuse resulted in $27 billion in health care costs. It also caused an overall cost of $249 billion. That number includes lost productivity, missed work, damage to property, legal fees, and more.
The government also estimates that in 2007 illicit drugs caused an additional $11 billion in health care costs. Illegal drugs cost the economy a total of $193 billion that year. In 2013 prescription opioids caused $26 billion in healthcare costs. They also cost the overall economy $78.5 billion.
In 2016 the Surgeon General estimated that 78 people died from an overdose every day. Also, only 10% of people with substance abuse problems got any kind of help.
The CDC estimates that in 2015 10.1% of people used an illicit drug within a month of their survey. It’s important to note that this figure is for all persons aged 12 and over. That means these numbers include middle and high-school children.
These numbers might not seem that high. But they affect everyone. A 2017 Pew survey found that 46% of Americans have a close friend or family member that’s been addicted to drugs. That means there’s an even chance that any given person knows someone that’s addicted to drugs.
That’s not all. The opioid epidemic gets a lot of press. But focusing only on opioids ignores the broader issue of substance abuse. The 2016 National Survey on Drug Use and Health found that 20.1 million Americans aged 12 and over have a substance use disorder. 2.1 million of these people had an opiate use disorder. That means there’s an additional 18 million people addicted to non-opiate drugs.
The most frequently abused substance was alcohol. About 15.1 million people in the survey reported an alcohol addiction. It’s also worth noting that that the survey was based on self-reporting. That means the figure is likely to be under the actual number.
US Addiction Trends
There’s been a lot of buzz from politicians and community leaders about fighting addiction. But trends show that these efforts aren’t working. There’s been a lot of ideas on how to address these trends. The Trump administration even recently floated the idea of suing opioid manufacturers.
US addiction trends are not good. The CDC recently released some preliminary information. It found that, in 2017, more than 72,000 Americans died from a drug overdose. That’s up almost 7% from 2016. That includes a 4.1-fold increase in deaths from opioids since 2002.
Trends regarding the drug fentanyl show the overall direction of addiction and overdose death. The same CDC report found that 30,000 overdose deaths in 2017 were related to fentanyl. That’s 22 times more than 2002.
These are disturbing trends. They paint a picture of a society that is falling apart from drug abuse. But raw numbers only teach so much. It’s important to understand why people start abusing drugs and alcohol.
There are lots of reasons someone might start abusing substances. But one of the biggest factors is mental health issues. The next section looks at how mental health and addiction relate to each other. It also shares more of Margot Kidder’s story.
Mental Health and Dual Diagnosis
Mental health issues frequently occur with substance abuse. Every case is different. In some cases, the mental health issues existed before substance abuse. In other cases, mental health issues result from substance abuse.
But one thing stays the same. The combination of mental health disorders and substance abuse is a challenging issue. The government estimates that 7.9 million people have a mental health issue in addiction to substance use disorder.
This situation has a few different names. It is frequently called a dual diagnosis. It’s also called co-occurring disorders. No matter what it’s called, it’s a situation that demands action. The troubling statistics about addiction, overdose, and substance abuse show that it is long past time to actively seek out the best treatment options.
Margot Kidder’s Story: Part 2
Margot Kidder’s story doesn’t end with a car accident and financial troubles. She also dealt with bipolar disorder for much of her life.
In addition to her acting career, activism, writing, and other work, Margot Kidder is also known for a well-publicized 1996 mental breakdown.
In 1996 Kidder was working on her auto-biography. But, after three years of work, the computer she was working on was infected with a virus. The virus destroyed all of the work she had done. Computer experts were not able to recover the data.
Kidder cited this event as the cause of a mental breakdown. The result of the breakdown was a tragic 72 hours spent wandering around the greater Los Angeles area. It started when she arrived at the Los Angeles airport on a Saturday night for a flight to Phoenix to teach an acting class. However, her flight wasn’t until Sunday.
She then wandered about the airport until she encountered a television reporter from Tennessee at 3 a.m. This encounter started a serious of events that lead to her being reported missing. The policy found her behind a bush in a back yard in the city of Glendale.
Part of Kidder’s issues came from the fact that she refused to accept her bipolar diagnosis. A psychiatrist diagnosed her with the disorder as early as 1988. However, she wouldn’t accept treatment or medication.
She eventually started experimenting with different treatments. Kidder never experienced another episode like the one in 1996. She got involved in 12-step programs and other support groups.
Dual Diagnosis in the US
Dual diagnosis is a rising trend in the US. It happens across all demographics. That means it affects men, women, the young, and the old. Understanding some mental health statistics can help people understand the risks and impacts of mental health disorders in the United States.
What is Dual Diagnosis?
A dual diagnosis, or co-occurring disorder, is when a person has a substance use disorder in addition to another mental health issue. The other mental health issue can be anything. That includes stress disorders like Generalized Anxiety Disorder and depression. It also includes things like eating disorders, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, autism, ADHD, and more.
Co-occurring disorders are especially difficult to treat. They demand treatment for all mental health issues. Focusing on one issue and ignoring the other isn’t effective. For example, if a person has a substance use disorder and depression. Treating the substance use disorder and ignoring depression may increase the risk of relapse.
That’s because substance abuse has complex interactions with mental health. If a person’s depression is left untreated, then they may turn to substance abuse to self-medicate. Also, continuing the same example, treating depression without treating substance use disorder can cause the depression to come back.
Dual diagnosis also presents other challenges. Many of the drugs that doctors use to treat mental health issues can be abused. That means that doctors need to be careful in their treatments. Otherwise, a person with a dual diagnosis can start abusing the medication they get for their mental health.
But treating two issues at once isn’t always enough. There are two ways that doctors can treat multiple mental health issues. These are known as Parallel treatment and Integrated treatment. It’s important to understand the differences between the two approaches.
Parallel treatment attempts to treat both disorders at the same time. But it uses two service providers or programs to do so. That means a person uses one treatment program for substance abuse and a different treatment program for the other mental health disorders.
This can lead to complications. Different programs and providers might have different approaches. They might also have different philosophies. That can lead to counterproductive treatments. For example, someone treating depression might prescribe different medications and therapies if they know the patient also has substance abuse issues.
The best treatment approach for a dual diagnosis is integrated treatment. This approach treats both disorders as primary. Also, they are treated by the same service providers.
That means treatment options can be designed with all of the issues in mind. This leads to more effective treatment. It also leads to a higher level of coordination. Finally, it ensures that everyone is using the same treatment philosophy.
This results in a more effective treatment approach. Doctors can ensure that a patient is getting the best possible treatment for their condition. They can also ensure that patients aren’t getting counterproductive advice or medications.
US Mental Health Statistics
The National Institute of Mental Health maintains a living database of mental health statistics. It reports that, in 2016, there were an estimated 44.7 million people 18 and over that suffer from any mental illness. That works out to about 18% of all US adults. That means nearly 1 in 5 people in the country suffer from some sort of mental health disorder.
While mental health issues can affect anyone, certain groups tend to experience them more frequently. For example, 21.7% of women suffer from any mental illness. That’s compared to 14.5% of men.
Also, young adults have a slightly higher rate of any mental illness than older adults. Those aged 18-25 years had a rate of 22.1%. Adults aged 26-49 had a rate of 21.1%. Adults aged 50 and older had a prevalence rate of 14.5%.
These statistics look at any mental illness, or AMI. The NIMH also tracts prevalence of serious mental illnesses. These numbers are also telling.
In 2016, the NIMH estimates that 10.4 million US adults have a serious mental illness, or SMI. That works out to 4.2% of all US adults. The prevalence of serious mental illness closely aligns with AMI when it comes to demographics. The rate is higher for women than men, 5.3% compared to 3%.
The rate of SMI is also higher among younger adults. Those aged 18-25 had a 5.9% rate. Adults from 26-49 had a rate of 5.3%. Finally, those over 50 had a rate of 2.7%.
The rates of mental health treatment are also very telling. They help people understand why so many individuals turn to substance abuse to self-medicate. Some of this is based on the fear of the stigma that mental health issues come with. Other times, people don’t seek treatment because they can’t afford it.
Figures show that only 64.8% of those that need mental health treatment get it. There are some groups that are more likely to get the treatment they need. For example, 68.8% of women got treatment, compared to just 57.4% of males. The lowest rate of treatment was in adults aged 18-25, with only 51.5% getting the treatment they need.
Even for those that get treatment, the numbers still aren’t good. Of the people with a dual diagnosis, 44% received either substance abuse treatment or mental health treatment in the past year. Only 13.5% received treatment for substance abuse and mental health. 37.6% of people with a dual diagnosis did not get any treatment.
Moreover, primary care doctors are the frontline for many health issues. That includes mental health issues and substance abuse. People with bipolar disorder or a psychotic disorder are 26% and 45% less likely to have a primary care doctor.
Also, many people meet the criteria for two or more disorders. This is true even without considering substance abuse. The American Psychological Association estimates that nearly half of people with one mental health disorder also suffer from another disorder.
Anxiety Disorders and Substance Use Disorders
People with anxiety disorders are the group most likely to have a co-occurring disorder. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America estimates that about 20% of Americans with anxiety or mood disorders have substance use disorders. Also, it estimates that 20% of Americans with substance use disorders also have an anxiety or mood disorder.
Anxiety and mood disorders are particularly prone to fueling substance abuse. Most people experience these issues independently. But the existence of both disorders at the same time can create a vicious cycle.
That’s because the symptoms of each disorder can make the other one worse. Anxiety disorders can lead to a person self-medicating to find relief from symptoms. But self-medicating with drugs or alcohol can intensify the symptoms of an anxiety disorder.
Drugs and alcohol cost money. Money is one of the primary drivers of anxiety. Spending money on drugs and alcohol means that a person might fall short on other bills. Also, reliance on drugs or alcohol to function can make a person feel like they need substances. This causes a spike in anxiety when they’re not available.
Finally, there’s a great sense of stigma and guilt attached to both substance abuse and mental health. As a result, problems in one area can make problems in other areas worse.
How Do Co-Occurring Disorders Affect Recovery and Treatment?
There are several ways that co-occurring disorders affect recovery and treatment. The best way to handle a dual diagnosis is an integrated treatment. This treatment model views both issues as primary. As a result, it works on them both together.
This approach increases the likelihood of a successful recovery. It helps people find ways to manage the symptoms of each issue at the same time. Also, it makes treatment more effective.
But developing an integrated treatment is tricky. That’s why many people with a dual diagnosis benefit from recovery programs. Every person has different needs. That means there’s no one program that’s right for everyone. However, finding an addiction treatment program that also specializes in treating co-occurring disorders gives people the best shot at success.
The biggest way that a dual diagnosis affects treatment is in medication options. This is especially true for anxiety and mood disorders. One of the most common treatments for these disorders involves prescription medication. The most common types of drugs prescribed come from the benzodiazepine family.
These drugs are very effective at helping people calm down. But the fact that they’re so effective also makes them dangerous. That’s because they can be very addictive. Doctors closely monitor anyone that takes these medications. That’s true if they have a dual diagnosis or not.
But people that have a dual diagnosis may not benefit from these medications. Doctors might also need to adjust dosage for these medications to minimize the risk of addiction.
Overdose, Accidental Overdose, and Suicide
Substance abuse causes a lot of different harms in society. But one of the most serious and tragic harms is overdose. This section seeks to help expand the understanding of overdose. A better understanding of what an overdose is and how an overdose happens can help save lives.
Margot Kidder’s Story: Part 3
While Margot Kidder never again had an episode like the one in 1996, that doesn’t mean she didn’t continue to have her share of problems. Kidder continued to have stints in and out of rehab.
Her friends report that, towards the end of her life, her drinking got worse. She is said to go on benders lasting several days before trying to recover again. Kidder also surrounded herself with bad influences towards the end of her life.
Many reports state that she shared her home with methamphetamine addicts. These individuals abused her trust. They stole from her. She allowed these individuals into her home out of a sense of compassion.
Unfortunately, Margot Kidder passed away on May 13, 2018. The corner ruled the death a suicide, and cited alcohol and drugs in her system.
Overdose, Accidental Overdose, and Suicide in the US
Margot Kidder’s story is tragic. However, it’s far from unique. One of the worst consequences of America’s drug problem is overdoses. Sadly, there’s not a lot of good news to report on this subject.
Rate of Overdose
The latest information available from the CDC estimates that there were 72,000 drug overdose deaths in the US in 2017. The rate of overdose deaths has gone up nearly every year since 2002. For comparison, in 2002 there were about 20,000 overdose deaths. That means the 2017 number represents a more than tripling of the rate of overdose death in the US.
The Washington Post attributes the increase in deaths from overdose to the emergence of the drug fentanyl. In fact, overdose deaths are almost entirely responsible for the growth of mortality rates in white people aged 22-56.
However, the effect of drug overdose deaths isn’t limited to this group. All races, genders, and age categories have shown an increase in overdose deaths. The opioid epidemic is largely to blame for this. In fact, even a non-fatal overdose increases the risk of death in the short term. That’s because of associated diseases, infectious disease, cancer, and suicide.
It’s a bit harder to find information about non-fatal overdoses. That’s because death certificates and causes of death are public information. But non-fatal overdoses are personal medical information. This information isn’t widely shared. It’s also hard to collect because of federal health privacy laws.
But the evidence that is available suggest that non-fatal overdoses are also on the rise. For example, the state of Florida found a 10% increase in EMS transports for overdoses in 2017. The CDC also reports that opioid overdose rates went up for every region in the country between July 2016 and September 2017.
They report that overdose hospital visits increased across all demographic groups. Men saw an increase of 30%. Women saw an increase of 24%. Rates also went up across all age groups over 15. The biggest increases occurred among people aged 35-54. This group saw a 36% increase.
There are some people that intentionally try to overdose. However, most overdoses are accidents. That means it’s important to understand how an accidental overdose can happen.
How does Accidental Overdose Happen?
There are several ways for an accidental overdose to happen. It’s important to remember that, no matter how it happened, every overdose is a tragedy.
The most common cause of accidental overdoses relates to the drug market itself. Illegal drugs aren’t regulated. With legal drugs, the FDA and other agencies make sure they are safe. The agencies recommend dosage. They also regulate manufacturing processes.
As a result, legal drugs that you get from a doctor are a known quantity. Patients can trust that each pill or dose contains the exact right amount of medication. They can also trust that there’s nothing else in the medication which could harm them.
This situation doesn’t apply to illegal drugs. It’s especially relevant with drugs like heroin and cocaine. Dealers often “cut” these drugs with other substances. They do this to make their supply of the drug stretch farther. That means they can make more sales and generate more profit.
But drug dealers don’t go through the same checks as pharmaceutical companies. That means their drugs can be cut with any number of dangerous substances. Reports on the increase in overdose deaths in the US frequently cite fentanyl as the primary cause. Dealers might add this substance to their drugs to make them stronger.
Also, every batch of illegal drugs is different. That means it’s hard for users to know how strong their drugs are. This can lead to an accidental overdose.
Overdoses also happen because people mix drugs. Heath Ledger’s tragic death is an example of this. Margot Kidder is another example. The toxicology report for Heath Ledger is publicly available, so we know more about the particular combination of drugs he took. However, Margot Kidder’s information is not available. Instead, the corner just disclosed that she died from a combination of drugs and alcohol.
Overdose can also happen when someone relapses. That’s because of how their body responds to drugs. When a person regularly abuses drugs or alcohol they develop a tolerance. That means they need more of the substance to get the same effect.
If a person gets clean, then their tolerance goes away. That makes relapse especially dangerous. A person might try to use the same amount of a substance they consumed before they got clean. That dose might not cause an overdose when they have a high tolerance. But a lower tolerance can mean the dose they’re used to is far too much.
This situation also shows why it’s important to establish support networks for people that are dealing with substance abuse. These support networks can take many forms. They can include family and friends. They might also include groups like Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous.
Support groups can help a person resist the urge to use again when they finish treatment. They give people something to care about that’s bigger than themselves. Support groups help people understand that their actions affect others. They also help individuals find ways to cope with the pressures and struggles of daily life. As a result, they’re less likely to relapse and start using again.
Overdose as Suicide
There are times when a person intentionally overdoses. People usually overdose on purpose when they’re trying to commit suicide. They think that an overdose will be a painless way to end their lives.
This situation shows why understanding the relationship between mental health and drug abuse is so important. The widespread availability of drugs, combined with an increase in mental health issues, creates a situation ripe for disaster.
Most people that attempt or commit suicide suffer from one or more mental health issues. People that attempt to commit suicide by overdose also usually have a history of substance abuse problems.
This demonstrates why it’s vital to use the most effective treatments for people with a dual diagnosis. Failure to treat either the other mental health issue or substance abuse increases the risk of relapse. The act of relapse can make mental health issues worse. A person can feel like a failure. They may feel like they will never break their addiction. This can lead to suicidal thoughts and attempts.
Learning from Others: What the Tragic Story of Margot Kidder Teaches Us
It’s said that failure is the greatest teacher. Children are often told to learn from their mistakes. However, a fatal overdose means there’s no chance to try again.
That means it’s important to learn from others. Margot Kidder’s story is a tragic one. However, it’s still a story that individuals and society can learn from. Failure to learn the lessons of Kidder’s story means that America will continue to have problems with drug abuse, overdose deaths, and mental health treatment.
The Importance of Treatment
The most important thing to take away from the story of Margot Kidder is the importance of treatment. Many of her problems started when she refused treatment for her bipolar disorder. This refusal lead to embarrassment and professional and financial difficulties.
Getting the right treatment is important. This is true for mental health issues, substance abuse, and the two issues together. Treatment programs have the tools people need to help them take control of their lives. They offer lots of different ways to help.
One of the most important tools for treatment is therapy. Group therapy for addiction treatment is highly effective. It helps people understand that they aren’t alone in their struggle. It also gives people a community they can turn to for support.
Treatment can also help through medication. One example is Opioid Replacement Therapy, or ORT. This approach uses medication to reduce withdrawal symptoms. Studies show it’s one of the most effective ways to help people break free of opiate addiction.
There are also medications that can help with other addictions. That includes treatment for alcohol withdrawal. Finally, there are medications that can help reduce a person’s desire to use again. Vivitrol is one example.
Getting the right kind of treatment program can save lives. Good inpatient treatment programs have 24/7 access to doctors and therapists. These people can help patients as they begin the road to recovery. The beginning of recovery is one of the most sensitive times. Having the right tools on hand can dramatically increase the odds of success.
Understanding the Role of Mental Health in Addiction
It’s also important to understand the role of mental health in addiction. For a long time, people viewed addiction as a moral failing. The logic went that addiction was the result of bad moral choices.
This view of addiction still dominates in some circles. This creates a stigma against addiction. The stigma prevents people from getting the help they need.
Stigma doesn’t only influence how people deal with addiction. There’s also stigma regarding mental health issues. Many people view mental health problems as a personal failure. That’s because mental health issues don’t show the same visible signs that physical injuries and illnesses show.
Understanding the role that mental health plays in addiction is a key element to reversing the trend in substance abuse. If people get access to the treatment they need for mental health, then they are less likely to self-medicate with drugs or alcohol.
Also, understanding that addiction is a mental health issue makes it easier for people to get the treatment they need. This is the best path forward to reverse the current trend in overdoses and addiction.
Moving past the view of addiction as a moral failure is essential to getting people the treatment they need. Understanding addiction as a mental health issue increases the options to treat it. It also increases the effectiveness of treatment. That’s because health issues fall in the domain of science.
Questions of morality aren’t based on evidence. They’re based on principles that sort out right and wrong. Viewing addiction as a health issue means that evidence-based treatments become the primary option.
That’s an important change. Studies show that evidence-based approaches to addiction treatment are more successful. These approaches to treatment focus on figuring out what works and what doesn’t work. This allows doctors to figure out why some approaches work and why some approaches don’t work. As a result, they can focus on improving effective treatments. They can also dismiss treatments that aren’t effective.
Substance abuse and mental health are two of the most pressing issues in the modern day. Understanding the way that substance abuse and mental health are related is essential to resolving these issues. The stakes couldn’t be higher. Margot Kidder’s story shows that understanding the relationship between the two can make a tremendous difference in the lives of many people.
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