A tiny wage increase could have prevented 13,800 deaths in 6 years

The world has been facing a suicide crisis over the past few years. In the United States alone, tens of thousands of people die by suicide each year. But new research shows that a $1 increase in the minimum wage might prevent thousands of deaths.

According to the National Institute for Mental Health, in 2017, the latest year for which data is available, “[s]uicide was the 10th leading cause of death overall in the United States,” accounting for more than 47,000 deaths.

People can experience suicidal thoughts or be at risk of attempting suicide for a variety of reasons, including physical and mental illness, social isolation, substance abuse, and traumatic experiences.

Full article at Medical News Today

Mindfulness could help us unlearn fear

Throughout evolutionary history, fear has helped humans stay safe and thrive. But in the modern world, many fear responses — such as phobias — are, at best, unhelpful and, at worst, debilitating. Yet, accumulating evidence shows that mindfulness practice could help us unlearn these responses.

The practice of mindfulness — the purpose of which is to help an individual focus on stimuli occurring in the present moment — is gaining momentum across countries and cultures.

Anecdotal evidence suggests that mindfulness can help people feel calmer, more serene, and more motivated in their day-to-day life.

And the findings of an increasing number of studies are now backing up that evidence, indicating that mindfulness practice can bring real benefits for physical and, especially, mental health.

Full article at Medical News Today

U.S. saw big rise in meth, fentanyl use in 2019

A study of over 1 million urine drug tests from across the United States shows soaring rates of use of methamphetamines and fentanyl, often used together in potentially lethal ways.

The drug test results came primarily from clinics dealing with primary care, pain management or substance abuse disorders.

The results showed that between 2013 and 2019, urine samples testing positive for methamphetamine (“meth”) have skyrocketed sixfold, from about 1.4% of samples testing positive in 2013 to about 8.4% in 2019.

Similarly, the percentage of drug urine tests coming back positive for the highly potent—and sometimes fatal—opioid fentanyl have more than quadrupled since 2013, the study found. In 2013, just over 1% of the urine samples tested positive for fentanyl, but by 2019 that number was nearing 5%, said a team led by Dr. Eric Dawson, of Millennium Health in San Diego.

Full article at US News

Veterans benefit from pain treatment without drugs

A new study finds a lower risk of adverse post-treatment outcomes among returning military service personnel with chronic pain who received nondrug therapy.

Many people returning from military deployment experience physical and mental health issues.

These can include chronic pain, post-treatment alcohol use disorder, drug addiction, depression, thoughts of suicide, self-harm, or a combination.

Now, a new study in the Journal of General Internal Medicine concludes that receiving treatment that is not drug-based can reduce the likelihood of such outcomes in veterans with chronic pain.

Full article at Medical News Today

Study Finds Striking Rise in Number of Teens Overdosing on Anxiety Medication

A new study finds a striking rise in the number of teens overdosing on common anxiety medications including Xanax, Valium and Ativan, according to HealthDay.

Researchers found a 54% increase in cases of benzodiazepine overdoses involving children ages 12 to 18 that were reported to U.S. Poison Control Centers between 2000 and 2015. They also found an increase in intentional abuse, with almost half of all reported exposures in 2015 documented as intentional abuse, misuse or attempted suicide.

Full article at Partnership for Drug-Free Kids