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John Doe, age 26, born on 3/16/94, died alone on 11/15/19. He was not surrounded by family or friends. He died in agony and pain. He struggled until the end to be the person that others wanted him to be, what society told him he had to be, and in the end, he determined that he could never be that person. He did not leave a note, who would read it anyway? To him, no one cared. He was all alone.

Although I have changed the name, the information is real. Another person lost. By now, I should be desensitized…


Photo by Parker Johnson on Unsplash

As I awoke in the middle of the night to see what had happened across the country with the election, I found my heart heavy and my soul aching. Some of you might read this and say cry on liberal while others say, I feel how you feel.

I am sad about the expectation that I had for America’s character. A chance for us to right the many wrongs that have been inflicted during the last four years, some of those wrongs even longer than that. Being a new father, I know the values, morals, and character I want my…


New data indicates that through the first eight months of the COVID-19 crisis, American adults have sharply increased their consumption of alcohol, drinking on more days per month, and to more significant excess. Heavy drinking among women, significantly, has soared.

The RAND Corporation released a study supported by the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), which compared adults’ drinking habits from 2019 to surveying 1,540 adults. Based on the results, addiction treatment professionals say they’re concerned that people may be choosing to self-medicate their mental health symptoms brought about by the pandemic. …


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The need for a robust workforce that can effectively work with individuals living with substance use disorder has never been greater than it is today. Across the United States, billions of dollars are allocated to addressing substance use disorders; however, one of the major barriers is — who will do the work? I focus much of my attention on the peer specialist and the role they play in the addiction recovery space. My colleague Dr. Fred Rottnek, professor and the program director of the new Addiction Medicine Fellowship at Saint Louis University (SLU), is also sounding the alarm for the…


Photo by Fernando @dearferdo on Unsplash

Have you ever felt broken? So broken, that no matter what you did or said, nothing would ever fix that brokenness? A lot of people do. An estimated 17.3 million adults in the United States had at least one major depressive episode. This number represented 7.1% of all U.S. adults. People of all ages and all racial, ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds experience depression, but it does affect some groups more than others.

Causes

Depression does not have a single cause. It can be triggered by a life crisis, physical illness or something else — but it can also occur spontaneously. If…


I was standing in my office in downtown St. Louis when my phone buzzed to let alert me that I had received a new text message. My best friend, Brandon Reid, had just had seen the Dentist and was leaving the appointment. He stopped to message me from his car. Brandon is a well-known leader within the social services arena and within the LGBT and recovery communities. His text caught me off-guard as I glanced at my phone.

Brandon:

OMG I’m at the dentist, They just prescribed me an opiate. I don’t know what to do.

Aaron:

Take Ibuprofen. Give…


Both of my parents struggled with substance use; those genes passed on to me. I have spent the better part of my adult life trying to alter how I feel, needing to change how I think. Often I write pieces from the perspective of a person who has used substances. But, another aspect of my truth is that of a child who grew up with two parents who were incapable, or unwilling to be sober. My experiences helped me to become the person that I am today. …


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Ru Paul, the celebrated female impersonator, said it best, “if you don’t love yourself, how are you going to love someone else?” Much of my adult life has been spent working through the trauma and pain that I encountered as a child. Much of that pain is derived from events that are so painful I cannot even repeat details about them. To verbalize it means that it is true and that it actually happened, thereby making me a victim. Extreme poverty, neglect, and sexual abuse as a child would forever shape the way that I view myself as an adult.


We do people a disservice when we assume their hesitance at the 12 steps is hesitance at recovery

Photo: Linda D/Flickr

Chances are you know something about the 12 steps of recovery. We have seen it in movies or on TV. The church basement, strong coffee, a person standing up and making a public declaration about how they have a problem. For many people, it works and it works really well. It offers support since there is the ability to socialize and be around other people who understand what it is like to use substances, and the desire to no longer use them. …


One of the most valuable tools that we have as a recovery movement is certified-peer-specialists. A person sharing their lived experience often has the highest impact on a person actively in substance use or at the highest-risk of returning to active substance use. I fear, however, that our industry is not safeguarding our peers, and in failing to do so, conditions are created for increased risk for relapse. …

Aaron Matthew Laxton, LMSW

I am a psychotherapist who writes about mental health, addiction, recovery and the impact of substance use from personal experience. Views are my own.

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