Healthcare Disparities Are An Emerging Problem In A First World Country

Healthcare Disparities Are An Emerging Problem In A First World Country

Reasoning with mortality in a first world country.

I'm not going to fill this article with statistics and "Did You Know" facts. I think that's the point in healthcare where we lose the sense of patient care and fall into stocks and marketing. That should not be a priority in healthcare. I've learned, unfortunately, through personal experience, that healthcare does revolve around that.

So let me start off by saying that I am shocked and perplexed that even in first world countries, patients die due to policies and quotas, approvals, evaluations, and signatures. Insurance companies deny patients the critical care that they need on the mere basis of this checklist. They assign patients certain dates on which their plans will "go into effect" and quite frankly some (if not most) of these patients do not have that time. All they can do is remain calm and wait. And if that wasn't all, their doctors also have to suffer at the hands of these aforementioned policies. They have to make phone calls and seek out loopholes.

For example, I have encountered a patient in the oncology ward who could not see her oncologist and cardiologist on the same date because her "insurance did not approve and authorize the visits." That is preposterous. This poor woman and her family probably have other things on their mind...like treatment. Getting to appointments and sticking to their medication regimen should be their only concern.

On another more personal note, while I tried to get one of my own family members the treatment they need for a serious illness, I was told to wait for approvals. I think if it weren't for the team of doctors who have been so supportive, I would have been a mere case number. A worried family member who remained on a waitlist. Wasting valuable time (I was told three months) that could be spent on getting treatment.

I am a very patient individual but these policies have taught me that being patient gets you no results. You have to be assertive and speak with authority (while still being kind and not outright rude). And that is hard. At times, these people on the other end of the line have treated me like a child. But I've had to remain calm, collected, and cogent. And persistent.

But seriously! Who has time for all that nonsense? My top priority should not have been that. It should've been to make my family member comfortable. The doctor should not have to spend hours being transferred from office to office to get their patient the treatment they need. There are immigrant patients who have family members who do not even speak English. They do not have a grasp of these procedures. There are patients who have no family and they cannot be put on hold. There are patients who need medication but their insurance does not allow their doctors to refill their prescription because "it's too soon for a refill. You picked your medication up 20 days ago. You need to wait." No. They. Cannot. Wait.

People in third world countries die because they do not have access to good doctors. I did not know that people in first world countries also die because they have to wait to get access to good doctors. We have a gift. But no means to get the gift. The gift is on the other end and there is no proper bridge that connects the patient to that gift. And for that reason, I say such a gift is not a gift at all, but rather a mirage.

So until all of these grievances are addressed, no matter how great the doctors are, we will always have high mortality rates and not because of medicine, but due to the lack thereof.

Cover Image Credit: freestocks.org / Unsplash

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To The Addict In My Life

Loving an addict has never been easy. Support and getting out everything you need to say no matter how you do it is key when moving forward.
Warning: This article may be a trigger to addicts, or friends and family of addicts.

You know who you are. And you know what you have done. To your family, your friends, and every single person you have come into contact with. This is not the story of my life, my shitty childhood, this is meant for all the kids out there who can relate to me. Who feel this way but don't know how to tell the Addict In Their Life. This is a letter for you, in hopes that you will realize no one can help you until you admit and truly believe you can help yourself.


To the Addict In My Life,

You spend every day trying to find an excuse to get high. You spend days at a time sleeping because you are depressed and alone. You use this as an excuse to get high and call that homeless person you met on the street to take part in it. You blame these people once you get caught for your addiction and weight loss. You show everyone your stomach proud, not ashamed of your 105 pound weight. Little do you know, we are well aware it's because of your heroin use.

In 2017, in Fall River Massachusetts, 914 people had overdosed according to "The Herald News". Just 17 fewer than 2016. But each and every 365 days of both those years I knew that I could have lost you to an overdose. 365 days I wondered if you would just be another statistic in the newspaper at the end of the year. All those people you call to get you high, they wouldn't show up for your services. They don't give a shit about you. They don't want to take care of your house while you are away, they want to use your house to stash their evidence and get high, then take all of your stuff before you make it home. That is... if you make it home.

Do you even have a home? Do you have a safe place to go at night, or just a cave where all your blankets have burnt holes and needles that are routine? You are oblivious to the world around you. You can barely remember the date and you can't even remember what grade I am in. You don't understand how much your family hurts each and every day watching you go through this. Shit, you don't even care, that's how oblivious you are. You don't understand how your constant addiction will affect us all once it takes your life and you become another Fall River statistic.

I do not want to get wrapped up in your web of lies and see you because I am scared you will just convince me to give you $20 for "bread and milk" even though we just sent you home with leftovers for the week. You still think I am that naive 12-year-old because ever since then you have been completely and utterly absent and wrapped up in your depression and addiction. You only call when you are clean, and by that time, I haven't talked to you in five months, so how do you expect me to answer the phone? But I do every time as hard as it is for me.

You haven't been the only addict in my life, you have just been the one to cause me the most pain and anger in my life. You were the one to show me my first bong, pipe, and roach when I was 8-years-old because I refused to leave the room and just wanted you to spend some time with me. I shouldn't have been learning about that stuff until now. I shouldn't have had to explain to my friend's parents why you were "hiding and locked yourself in the closet" or why we didn't have any furniture in our house. I shouldn't have had to call for help that day you fell off the toilet and I thought I had lost you forever. I shouldn't have had to jump over you ex-husband to get out of bed because he had passed out on my bedroom floor looking for god knows what, high out of his f*cking mind. No child should have to witness any of this.

I hope that you get help because you deserve it. I hope that you get your medication straight once and for all so you can attend family functions, be a part of my kids' lives in the future, spend nights with me without hiding in your room. I, as much as you, deserve all of these things. You deserve a safe home to call your own so I can visit and we can play games and cook like the old days. You CAN say no to that first hit again, and I pray to god every day that you will overcome the temptation of all drugs in order to live a normal life again.

To all the children out there who can relate to this, you are not alone. You can decide to separate yourself from this situation or help that person in your life. Writing is my gateway and I found it the easiest way to communicate with anyone in my life that has a hard time listening and understanding me. Find what is comfortable and use that to try and end an addiction, the depression, even the anxiety that is stopping you from receiving the love you deserve from a family member.

If you or someone you love has a drug addiction, please visit https://drugabuse.com/library/drug-abuse-hotlines/.


Cover Image Credit: unsplash.com

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8 Facts About Bath Salts

What are Bath Salts?

Most people are familiar with the chunky and fragrant bath salts that are added to bath water in order to relax and invigorate. However, these bath salts are much different and not nearly as relaxing as users would hope. This kind of bath salt is a designer drug that mimics the effects of such illegal substances like cocaine, methamphetamines and MDMA. They belong to a group of drugs classified as synthetic cathinones, which are man-made substances that share a similar chemical makeup as the khat plant, a plant found in East Africa that acts like a mild stimulant when chewed on. Most bath salts on the market are crystalized powders that are often white or brown.

Bath Salts and its Aliases

This drug is called bath salts because of its similar, chunky rock like look as those sold in health and beauty stores as well as the ability to sell the items in stores as a legal product using this name. With law enforcement cracking down on bath salts in the last few years, people are finding them packaged as plant food and jewelry cleaner to continue their sales. These products are almost always in packaging that states that is not for human consumption.

Bath salts are also called by several other names such as:

-Bloom

-White Lightning

-Cloud Nine

-Red Dove

-Lunar Wave

How long have they been around?

Synthetic cathinones have been around since their creation in France in the 1920s. However, it stayed mostly underground until a similar drug resurfaced in Israel in 2004. Shortly after, the recipe was modified in order to be sold under different names. The current abuse of bath salts comes from their introduction into the British club scene in 2010. Between 2010 and 2011 bath salt sales boomed in Britain and America. It was then that America began to see the disturbing epidemic of users and the horrific side effects of the drug.

Abuse and Addiction

According to users, bath salts leave them with intense cravings even after one time of using it. One study even said that certain synthetic cathinones were more addictive then methamphetamines. Bath salt users explain feeling a euphoric high and sexual stimulation, similar to that of MDMA. They also explain that they feel more focused and have higher energy levels for a few hours after taking the drug, similar to methamphetamines.

Bath salts are most often snorted, but they can also be smoked and injected. Due to the ease of purchasing this drug in liquor stores and smoke shops, users quickly find themselves having a recreational use turn into a full-blown addiction. Ultimately the crash from someone coming off the drug is the most intense and uncomfortable part of the experience. In fact, abuse continues because the user doesn’t want to come down and fears the extreme side effects.

Side Effects

Though the drug is fairly new, there has already been increased rates of mental health problems in people that have used bath salts, with reports claiming people suffering from schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. In fact, due to the inability to test for the drug, many medical practitioners look for these mental health signs before diagnosing a person as a bath salt user.

Some of the side effects are similar to other drugs but they are often intensified. These include depression, anxiety, paranoia, agitation, feeling physically ill, and tremors. These side effects can last for days and there has been reports of users self-harming because of the emotional effects of bath salts.

Overdosing on Bath Salts

Many are familiar with bath salts based on a 2012 news story of a Florida man, high on bath salts, who literally chewed off the face of a homeless man. The homeless man ended up losing 80% of his face due to this horrific incident; the zombie-like side effects of the drug quickly made headlines all across the country. In this incident the man was said to be overdosing on bath salts and experiencing intense delusions and hallucinations. Other overdose side effects can include liver failure, seizures, and heart attack.

Many users are often violent toward themselves and others, and can inadvertently harm themselves because of a high pain tolerance. As of 2015, only 68 deaths have been reported due to bath salt overdose. However, these numbers vary based on an inability to test for the drug in peoples’ systems or if the death was associated with bath salts (such as violence).

Banning Bath Salts

By 2011 the poison control centers received over 3,000 calls which was more than ten times the previous year’s total. This caused the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration to spring into action in an attempt to effectively ban bath salts. The DEA exercised emergency authority to classify mephedrone, MDPV and methylone (the active ingredients in bath salts) as controlled, schedule 1 substances, thereby making it illegal to sell them or anything made of them. Then in 2012 President Obama signed a federal ban on all synthetic drugs. Even with this ban, though, it has done little to curb the problem as people are turning to the streets in order to continue to use bath salts.

Treating Bath Salt Addiction

Due to the severe and unpredictable side effects of bath salts, detox can be quite trying for the user and medical professionals alike, and it is often difficult to find rehab centers willing to treat users. A large issue is the mental disorders that are often brought on by bath salt abuse. Treatment of bath salts typically deals with detox centers and psychological therapy.

Detox begins with intense medical monitoring as well as medications to alleviate symptoms like nausea, insomnia, and agitation. Just like most drug treatments and recovery programs, those that work with bath salt abuse circle around abstinence, relapse prevention, and rehabilitation. Some take part in outpatient programs after detox but many need a more structured way of rehabilitation due to mental illness. The best way of getting through treatment is having a strong support system and accountability.

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