Blurred Lines: When HIPAA, HITECH, FinReg and Medical Financing Collide

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In the Internet Age, the medical lending industry has changed greatly due to the proliferation of financial technology, which increased safety and security of both transactions and patient information. Companies are disrupting a multibillion-dollar industry by allowing patients to obtain funding for their care providers and treatments of choice, including cosmetic surgery financing, which is one of the top requests from prospective patients. They also work to educate patients on their rights and responsibilities under the law, and ensure patients have access to all the legal and financial information they need to make suitable decisions about their healthcare. 

However, the ever-changing nature of technology and the often-precarious regulatory landscape means patient-facing providers often occupy a treacherous middle ground between patient privacy, effective healthcare and oversight regulation. The lines are often confusing or contradictory, forcing these companies to think six moves ahead of current regulation to help ensure they stay current on the regulations impacting their niche market without sacrificing patient care. 

In 1996, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, or HIPAA, was created to meet the challenges of maintaining patients’ rights to privacy and confidentiality concerning their healthcare in the burgeoning Internet age. One of the key exemptions in HIPAA affected the financial sector in Section 1179, which reads:

To the extent that an entity is engaged in the activities of a financial institution, or is engaged in authorizing, processing, clearing, settling, billing, transferring or collecting payments for a financial institution, then the HIPAA statute and the accompanying rules do not apply.

In 2012, the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act, or HITECH, was passed, tightening restrictions and regulations for companies dealing partially or wholly in patient healthcare, as well as enhancing the obligation of these companies to ensure the protection of the individual consumer information generated by same to the maximum possible extent. Under HITECH, the exemptions in HIPAA for financial-side companies providing payment or funding to healthcare-side entities for individual patient treatments were tightened almost into nonexistence. This meant finance companies which had previously relied on the Section 1179 exemption no longer had that cushion between HIPAA requirements and their daily operations, and incurred the same obligations toward private medical information as healthcare providers, medical staff and support personnel.  

However, government officials and advisory panels have often noted technology is far outstripping the ability to regulate it. Legislation intended to safeguard consumers from the unknown consequences of updated technology is frequently obsolete before it’s ever deployed due to the rapid pace of innovation. Because regulation tends to lag years behind emerging tech, regulators find themselves in a binary position of either being forced to embrace reckless action which risks stifling competition and innovation without having adequate access to the information required to make informed policy decisions, or a paralytic scheme in which nothing is regulated to the detriment of the consumer. These issues are only magnified by conflicting or competing legislation which spans multiple disciplines, such as the healthcare credit industry.

The educational sector has produced a blizzard of white papers, policy analyses and speculatory pieces concerning this paradox between the rapid pace of innovation and the relative crawl at which regulation can consider new technology and privacy paradigms. Scholars in the fields of law, medicine, public policy and technology have all considered how their fields are intertwined and what may come next, and the inescapable consensus is that regardless of what it will be or what it will look like, policymakers will almost certainly not be ready.

Healthcare lending companies and brokerages live in the battleground between these disciplines. They also exist in a state of constant government and civilian watchdog scrutiny as they navigate a spaghetti bowl of regulations and statutes which contradict, negate and enhance each other, often in unexpected ways. As a result, they have adopted ongoing patient confidentiality and protection protocols which meet or exceed the existing regulatory requirements and often go far beyond them, in a bid to ensure they are and remain compliant with evolving regulation for years to come. For patients, this means they can shop with confidence, knowing whatever regulatory hurdles may come in the future, their information will be protected.

Carbohydrate Macronutrients And Their Impact On The Body

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Health is something that, like it or not, is not so easily tracked some of the time. It is a known fact of life that despite the best of intentions, sometimes things just do not go according to plan. As life gets busier, it becomes more of a challenge to stay on top of everything. Even though this is very much the case, it is fundamentally important that people try their absolute best to prioritise their health – even if they feel like they are too busy to put the necessary emphasis on doing so. An individual’s quality of life is very much (at least partially) dependent on their overall health. So, how can we best care for our health? What are the fundamental building blocks that form the basic foundations of positive overall health? While of course exercise is important, it rings undeniably true that diet is the ultimate core contributor to overall positive health. How you fuel your body says a lot about your commitment to your health not only in the moment, but long-term.

What you eat has more of an impact on your quality of life than you might realise. Nutrients, for example, play a pivotal role in the body. Take macronutrients (or macros) for instance. One of two types of nutrients the human body needs (the other being micronutrients), macronutrients are essential for not only the perseverance and maintenance of physical health, but also mental health. Within macronutrients lie the three main food groups (carbs, fats, and proteins). Understanding the role that macronutrients play in the overall health of our bodies starts with breaking down their foundational uses. More and more often as of late, people are realising the incredible impact that nutrients like micronutrients and the like have on our bodies, and a lot of that is thanks to the steadily growing body of research and studies on the topic. 

It seems that, no matter where you look these days, there are more articles and case studies surrounding the importance of nutritional intake and its impact on our bodies. While calorie intake is more or less responsible for weight loss, weight gain, or weight maintenance, macronutrients play a greater role in overall body composition because of their internal properties. Carbohydrate macronutrients, for example, provide the body with four calories per gram and are the primary energy source for the body. Carbohydrate macronutrients not only fuel the muscles throughout the body but also the brain, digestive system, and other important bodily functions as well. When you fuel your body with the right carbohydrates, your body is designed to metabolise them quite quickly, meaning that they are the body’s preferred energy source. Carbs are broken down into glucose that then provides your body with precious energy.

The best types of carbs to choose from are beans, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. In addition to providing the body with energy, carbohydrate macronutrients also provide the body with fibre. This improves heart and digestive health. So, carbohydrate macronutrients can genuinely have a positive effect on the human body, so long as you are smart about portion control and which carbs you eat in your general diet, and which ones you allow as treats. The body digests and processes carbs differently than it does fats and proteins, but that does not make it any less important for individuals to stay firmly on top of their calorie intake. At the end of the day, carbohydrate macronutrients are all about fuelling the body so that it can go and go and go, without much (if any) lag. More than anything else, understanding the crucial role that carb macros play in an individual’s overall physical and mental health can (and often does) work wonders for an individual’s wellbeing and quality of life.

Health is an aspect of our existence that, at the end of the day, has a significant impact on overall wellbeing and quality of life. The way that we treat our bodies is important because you literally get out what you put in when it comes to overall health. There is a lot to be said about practicing healthy habits to help bring about a sense of utmost health and happiness. One of those healthy habits is maintaining a healthy, balanced diet. Giving our bodies the nutrients and nourishment that they need to function and perform at their best is all about treating our bodies with the respect and love they deserve, and ultimately reaping the rewards for that consistent and ongoing chain of actions. At the core of healthy eating lies nutrients. Macronutrients like carbohydrate nutrients are the framework that help the body to get everything it needs from dietary intake. Without carb macros, the entire system can fall into a state of chaos, which is why they are such a fundamental building block for overall health.

Prosthetic technology advancements further revolutionise healthcare

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For those of us who are able-bodied, it goes without saying that sometimes we unfortunately fall into a pattern of taking our physical health for granted. So many of us are so used to having complete control and use of our bodies, that we simply do not leave room to consider what life would be like if we suddenly lost the use of a part of the body. Some people use organic treatments like marijuana (to look at the most beneficial strain of cannabis for your health needs, view these) to deal with physical pain, while others use pills and more chemically-based treatment methods. But when there is a loss of movement in a limb – or the loss of a limb altogether, for that matter – more complex treatments and solutions are necessary to bring back a sense of control and a heightened quality of life. In the beginning, these types of solutions were not only revolutionary, but expensive by nature, which made it understandably difficult for them to be realistically and widely accessible to everyone who could benefit by utilising them. Prosthetic technology is one of those solutions.

Thankfully, these days, as the technology continues to become more and more easily utilised and developed, it is slowly but surely becoming more cost-effective for individuals who can genuinely and profoundly benefit from prosthetics. Advancements in prosthetic technology are becoming more and more advanced by the day, and they are having life-changing impact on those who are benefitting from the technology thus far. It is no secret that individuals who live with the loss or lack of a limb experience life differently than those who are fully able-bodied. Whether the individual was born without a limb, or has become an amputee at some point throughout their life, there is a sense of not only the physical loss, but the mental strain of having less control and physical capability than they might have otherwise had. The difference that prosthetic technology can make in the lives of these individuals is nothing short of life-changing and remarkable (to say the least).

Consider the latest bionic hand in development, for example. Up until this point, bionic hands and other prosthetic limbs have been controlled by motors that use external signs from surrounding muscles to signal movements. In this new version of a bionic hand, however, the individual’s intentions are interpreted by a human-machine interface. This inbuilt interface then sends signals to the prosthetic, which allows it to interpret the signals and provide a real-time set of instructions to move the bionic hand in a way that is both aligned with what the individual wants, but also at controlled speeds. This creates a more natural feeling in the prosthetic. In the (hopefully) near future, the hope is to have the bionic hand receive the individual’s signals through wireless technology, in a bid to instil greater control over the individual movement and speed of the digits of the prosthetic. This bionic hand is just a taste of what is possible moving forward for the healthcare industry and prosthetic technology, and it is a hopeful taste at that.

Innovations in prosthetic technology are getting better and better all the time. There is a certain type of modern magic that makes prosthetics so incredible, and that magic is the very reason that they continue to be so coveted by those who wish to recover a sense of control and capability. The introduction of the latest bionic hand has signalled a new era in prosthetic technology. It is an era that is going to elevate and enhance prosthetics and healthcare going forward, changing the lives and quality of life of millions of individuals all over the world. If ever there has been a health technology that has been life-changing, revolutionary, and unique all at once, it is prosthetic technology. And while exciting innovations in the tech are happening all the time, they are just a taste of what is yet to come for prosthetics. The best is yet to come, and the innovations in prosthetic technology are only going to continue to get better and better, in every sense, from here on out.

Physical health is one of the most important core aspects of overall health. It is the harsh reality that those who are able-bodied often take their physical health for granted, intentionally or not. For those who have suffered with the loss of a limb, either for the entirety of their live, or at some point throughout their life, prosthetic technology can and often does make the world of difference. There is a lot to be said about a technological marvel that quite literally works to establish the return of not only control, but physical capability that an individual somehow misses out on. The latest advancements in prosthetic technology – like the introduction of the latest and greatest bionic hand, for example – highlight a promising future for prosthetics. It is a future that has arrived, and it is one that continues to impress and improve over time. prosthetic technology is only getting bolder, better, faster, smarter, and stronger – and the best is certainly yet to come. This is an exciting time for prosthetic technology, and those who can and do benefit from its accomplishments.

Heavy use of social media is linked to mental illness

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We live in the digital era, and in this digital era modern innovations rule. One of the most prominent modern innovations there is, is social media. Designed to be a network of global virtual platforms that allow for instantaneous and easy communication around the world, social media has more than lived up to the hype that has propelled over the years. But on the flip side of that same coin, is the dark undercurrent of social media. That decidedly negative undertone is hinged on the reality that social media has heavily impacted mental health – and not in the most positive of ways. Social media is an environment that emphasises the appeal of honest and open communication and connection, but it is also an environment that can be incredibly toxic for people to invest their energy and time into. And it all comes down to the comparative nature of social media, and how that impacts those that are struggling with themselves. This is an important issue, and finally it is getting the attention that it has always deserved. As the world hinders on the verge of a mental health crisis that borders on epidemic standard, this conversation is more important than ever.

The complication with social media is while it is intended to boost communication, it also sometimes inevitably isolates individuals from the real world and their real connections. The more energy and time that one invests in the social media landscape, the more disconnected they become with the real world around them. This is where problems often arise. Social media can be a dangerous, even fatal environment, and the reality is that there simply is not enough awareness surrounding this truth. Because of the comparative nature that has evolved over the history of social media, users can feel an inclination to mould themselves into what the social media platforms appear to find the most widely appealing aesthetic, body image, or way of communicating. This often leads to inauthentic representations of the self, which can obviously lead to some very serious health implications. The pressures of social media warrant a type of mental health strain that, quite frankly, is unparalleled to anything else.

There is a massive pressure in the landscape of social media platforms. Individuals can feel pressured to buy likes on Instagram, or try to change how they look to fit into the standard perception of what social media deems to be the most appealing aesthetic or approach. Additionally, they can spend hours and hours investing energy, time, and even money into ensuring that the representation of themselves they give out via social media, is one that puts their best [virtual] foot forward, so to speak. And while this can work for some time, it nearly always comes to a point where it becomes more of a problem than a distraction from the true self. The immense pressure to not only concede to those perceived ideals online, but to maintain those ideals over time, can be quite taxing. This is where cracks tend to appear, and if left unchecked, these cracks can bloom into dark bruises that become more and more difficult to contain. And just like bruises, it becomes obvious too often after the damage is done, that there is even a problem.

The links between mental health and social media are becoming more and more pronounced the more that studies and research focus on this topic, and the more that awareness becomes more prominent. When individuals spend so much time on their social media, they inevitably drain themselves emotionally and mentally. It can be exhausting to constantly see what is perceived as many people living the perfect life – especially if their own life does not feel even close to what their perceived ideal idols and friends live online. While it is easy enough to tell someone to remember that social media is often (if not always) a highlight reel of someone’s life, a snapshot of what really goes on, it is quite another to tell that to someone who is struggling with their mental health because of that reason. Mental health is a serious issue, and it is one that, quite frankly, is not given nearly as much attention as it should be. There is a very real sense of isolation that goes hand in hand with heavy use of social media, and it is important to pay attention to not only your own use of social media, but those close to you, and to do your best to let them know you are there if they need to reach out.

The digital era is absolutely rife with exciting innovations and revolutions that have changed life as we know it, in many different ways. One of the most globally renowned innovations of all has been, without a doubt, social media. A revolution initially created to serve as an all-new frontier of instantaneous global communication, social media has since ballooned to become so much more over time. While in many ways, social media is an immensely positive space, it can also be a place of dark undertones that can be difficult for some individuals to deal with. The comparative nature of social media today has resulted in the realisation that, for some, social media activity can have a devastating impact on their mental health. This is an issue that, up until recently, was given nowhere near the amount of attention that it warranted, but now that the world is bordering on a mental health epidemic, action is finally, at long last, being taken. Social media can have devastating effects on users, and it is important to pay close attention to the signs that people are struggling. Lives literally depend on it.

The awareness and understanding of Kratom continues to rise in Asia

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Kratom is a plant that while not as globally renowned as marijuana, is quickly harbouring the same extent of controversy and fierce debate the world over. At first glance, this plant is seemingly non-descript. Light green in colour with red veins, Kratom plants typically stand at around two metres tall when fully grown. This endemic tropical plant is found only in Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand, and Papua New Guinea. A member of the coffee family, one could be forgiven for simply thinking that this is a plant whose nature is used for mild stimulation and pain relief. These days, Kratom is now exported and sold in powdered form. This might all seem quite safe, until you realise that Kratom stimulates the same brain receptors as morphine (though, to be fair, with significantly milder effects). Citing this exact reason, regions throughout Asia – including Indonesia, Malaysia, and Thailand – have banned the consumption of Kratom (though Indonesia doe still currently allow for the exportation of it in an unprocessed form).

In small quantities, Kratom acts like a stimulant (or, like a less intense version of cocaine). In large doses, however, Kratom does affect the body similarly to opioids. This is obviously where the danger lies, and why there has been such a significant crack down on Kratom in recent months. In the USA, the FDA has begun to weaponize the opioid label against Kratom users, but the debate surrounding the plant extends from abroad in countries like the US, right back to its origins in Asia. All throughout the developing world – including the natural homes of Kratom (i.e. throughout Asia) – there is a rising awareness and in-depth understanding relating to Kratom. Interestingly, Kratom has been used for brain stimulation, relaxation, insomnia, and pain relief (depending on which strain one ingests) in the form of tea, for centuries.  But as time has gone on, more and more evidence to suggest there are significant risks involved in ingesting Kratom in large doses, have resulted in rising concern.

The backwaters of Indonesia’s Borneo are home to the global production and export of Kratom. And while the export is allowed only in unprocessed form, Kratom is sold overseas and used illegally in Asia in the form of capsules, tablets, powder, and even liquid (not unlike CBD oil). With many strains and forms available for sale and consumption, there are many people who have claimed in the past, and continue to claim, that it has been a tremendous help to them overcoming various ailments. The problem lies in the fact that, given the intense nature of Kratom in large doses, it can become addictive, leading to some people to abuse and even overdose and pass away from using the drug. Couple that with the fact that this is a substance that is rarely (if ever) regulated, and it makes for a dangerous drug. Asian regions are all too aware of this, with many of them taking the legal action to ensure that it is not legally available, and that strict consequences await those who do take it, in any form.

It seems that Asia has fully realised the potential risks associated with the ingestion of the plant, and now they are making moves to ensure that the same awareness and in-depth understanding they have accumulated is being extended to the rest of the world, as best they can. In the developing world, this is an action that has not always been taken in the past, and that has resulted in devastating consequences. And while many people are fighting against the newly enforced regulations, they are entirely justified. When the death toll begins to rise, a problem can quickly spiral into an epidemic, and that is something that nobody wants. Thankfully, it looks like Kratom will be illegal unless given in medicinal doses, as Thailand has recently allowed for medicinal marijuana and Kratom to be allowed within the country. The controversy surrounding the ongoing issue of Kratom and its illegality seems, for now, to be ongoing.

Not unlike marijuana, Kratom has undergone its fair share of controversy and fierce debate, but in recent months the controversy has hit an all-time high, as more and more people are overdosing on the plant after ingesting it. An endemic tropical plant, Kratom is native to Indonesia, Malaysia, and Thailand, and has been used for centuries as a solution for multiple ailments, including (but not limited to) brain stimulation, relaxation, insomnia, and pain relief (depending, of course, on which strain one ingests). Over time, however, the developing world’s awareness and understanding of Kratom has resulted in much of Asia banning the ingestion of the plant. Now, Asia is hoping to set a new standard that will enforce stricter attitudes towards the plant-based drug. 

The fight to instil gender equality in orthopedic medicine field

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This is 2019. We live in an age where we have worked very hard to right the gender gaps in professional settings (there is also the ongoing battle to right the ship for race biases and discrimination in the workplace, but that is a whole other topic to discuss another time). Female orthopedic surgeons have faced many gender biases and discriminations throughout their careers, but what is especially alarming is that this is one of the last remaining (and most severely impacted) career fields where this bias still exists today. There is an incredibly disrespectful and unfortunately quite common instance where female orthopedic surgeons are often approached as if they are nurses or assistants, rather than the specified surgeons they are. Now, of course, there is nothing in the world wrong with being a nurse or a medical assistant (any job in medicine is a great one), but when you have the knowledge and the instance to work for and then successfully become an orthopedic surgeon, and your professionalism is constantly doubted or disregarded entirely, it gets a little old.

Working in an orthopedic clinic is always a prestigious career trajectory, but for female professionals looking to build a career in orthopedic medicine, it can be a tumultuous journey as well. It is shockingly common for a female orthopedic surgeon to be discriminated against not only by male professionals in the field, but also by patients. This is alarming because there is an obvious disconnect between the understanding and general awareness that females not only are capable of all the same professional accomplishments and trajectories, but they in fact make up more than half (56%, in fact) of students who turn their passion for orthopedic medicine into their career. Women have always worked in this career field, but they are still today being faced with gender biases and discriminations that make it seem as though they are less worthy somehow of the same respect, admiration, value, and income as their male counterparts. How is this possible, and how has it been allowed to continue?

career in orthopedics (or any other area of medicine, really) is one that does not come easily by any means. But for women, getting to the point of becoming an orthopedic surgeon is not when it becomes easier. While it is of course a rewarding career, it is also one where female professionals are paid roughly $41,000 less than their male counterparts (around $38,000 difference among oncologists and blood specialists, around $36,000 difference among obstetrician-gynaecologists, and roughly $34,000 among cardiologists). This is quite obviously a disgustingly drastic pay gap, and it is made even more difficult to swallow when one realises that there is only one branch of orthopedics where women are paid more than men; in radiology, female radiologists are paid on average $2,000 more than that of male radiologists). To be frank, considering the blatant importance of a field like orthopedic medicine, it would make sense that all capable and passionate professionals, regardless of their gender, be given the same opportunities – in every sense of the word.

But this is not the case. How, in 2019, are we living in a world where gender or race biases and discrimination are even an issue, let alone in some of the most important industries in all the world? To discredit and hold back the professional accomplishments of a great orthopedic professional, purely because of their gender (or their race) is to disadvantage the line of work altogether. Orthopedic medicine is a field that could always use more dedicated professionals to help drive it forward, be great innovators, help people, and save lives, and it is about time that was duly noted and impressed upon. While of course this is an overdue motion, it is always better to be late than to never arrive, as they say. And with more female orthopedic surgeons coming out with their stories, the awareness of the issue is growing every time, giving rise to a promising kind of hope that could spell the end of the gender gap in this important line of work, and this whole industry.

Gender and race biases and discriminations are unfortunately not something that the world is unfamiliar with. However, as time has gone on, there has gradually been more and more movements towards the elimination of these unhealthy, unfair, and frankly disturbing (to say the least). In most industries and career trajectories, there have been big moves towards stabilising and balancing the gender (and race) gaps, but in many branches of medicine, this is not the face. In the case of orthopedic medicine, for example, there is what is perhaps the single largest gender bias in all of medicine. Female orthopedic surgeons and the likes have always contended with a distinctive pay gap between themselves and their male counterparts, as well as gender discrimination from all angles. While there is a growing awareness to the issue, there is still a long way to go. But, as the saying goes, it is better late than never.

Nursing one of the most valuable degrees in the world

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When one considers all the degrees and qualifications on offer around the world, across varying fields, there are many avenues to consider before making a decision. These avenues include (but are not limited to) passion, love, natural inclination, and importance to the world. On and on the list goes. There are some degrees that encompass all (or at the very least, most of) these ideals. Nursing, for example, is one of the most valuable degrees in all the world. Not only do individuals who become nurses head into one of the most rewarding careers there is, but they also do some of the most important work there is. In this way (and so many others) it is not at all difficult to understand exactly how and why nursing has come to be fondly considered one of the most valuable degrees in the world. For individuals who take on this branch of study, there is the realisation that they are working towards a career that is both challenging and rewarding. Nursing students are driven to succeed, and they are willing to endure the challenging aspects of the degree to enter a career field that is more rewarding than most (if not all) others.

Whether it is looking at the latest and greatest official nurse practitioner program guides, or completing one’s first or last practical course in the field, nursing education teaches nursing students a lot, not only in the classroom, but outside of it as well. Nursing students are required to take on active and consistent practicals throughout their academic journey, in addition to their regular course loads. It is during these practicals that nursing students are faced with their most challenging moments. This is the first time they administer a needle, the first time they read a patient’s chart, the first time they come face to face with the reality of life as a nurse. It is a humbling and rewarding experience, and it often spurs on the passion for the job even more, forging strong inclinations into stronger bonds for the career field and the patients that need the help of the nurses.

Nursing education is pivoted towards a life of helping other people. Whether they be addicts, pregnant women, people recovering from disease, or the elderly (or any many of individuals in between, for that matter), nurses are the people who support, encourage, assist, and empower them to take back their health and wellness as much as they can. It takes an incredibly special person to be a nurse, to the point where it is difficult, if not near impossible, to successfully make it through the academic journey if you are not entirely and without reservation dedicated to the cause. Their education is the first taste of their career trajectory that nursing students get, and it can often be a rude awakening that proves to be nothing short of sobering. The students that persevere enter the workforce conditioned to a point, and ready to tackle a career that will test and strengthen them, in every way.

nurse plays a crucial role in the comfort, recovery, rehabilitation, and overall support of their patients. When considering why they want to pursue nursing education, and then a career in nursing, the patient care aspect should always be one of the top priorities, the most important reasons behind the decision to throw everything into the career that helps the world and saves and preserves lives. In every way, nursing education is one of the most valuable academic pathways there is, and there is perhaps no degree more priceless than that of nursing. There is an immense load to bear when it comes to studying and then working in nursing, but that load is made much easier to carry with the knowledge and understanding that this is a pathway in life that give sand gives to other people, never necessarily expecting a whole lot (if anything) in return.

Nursing is without a doubt one of the most valuable degrees an individual can possibly obtain. In nursing, there is an overwhelming sense of accomplishment and reward for doing a job that genuinely changes peoples’ lives for the better, in addition to the knowledge that everything you are doing at work, or working towards in the classroom, will be for the greater good. Nursing education presents individuals who undertake it with a unique chance to wear multiple hats, all at once, throughout their average work day. There is immeasurable value in a career in nursing, and the education that paves the way to make that career possible is priceless in and of itself. Never has there been an academic or professional choice more innovative, life-changing, and genuinely valuable than nursing, and it is difficult to imagine a time where there will be one more impressive.

The harrowing reality of the global opioid crisis

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There are many threats to health that people are faced with every other day, but there is perhaps none more dangerously deceptive than opioids. The nature of opioid addiction is far more excruciating than anyone who has not experienced it, either themselves or from the sidelines, can possibly comprehend. While of course any kind of addiction is harrowing in its own right, opioid addiction is such because it can creep up on people, with many users not realising how dependent they are upon the drugs until their prescription runs out, or the effects begin to dissipate more and more over time. Every year, more and more people lose their lives to opioid addiction, with the problem becoming so common that it has now essentially bloomed into a full-blown epidemic of global proportions. In the USA alone, hundreds of thousands of people have died from overdosing on opioids. It is an uncomfortable truth, and it is one that is in dire need of attention and viable solutions. Finally, at long last, those solutions are presenting themselves.

Designed to be drugs to help with pain management and treatment of other illnesses, opioids are often deceptive from the onset. Because they are prescribed to individuals as a means of dealing with pain and other illness offsets, people take them as prescribed – often without being forewarned about the side effects of such medications. By nature, opioids are addictive, and so it is imperative that individuals taking them are aware of this fact, and keep an eye on their use. Sometimes, even the prescribed amount is too much, so taking the time to mentally check oneself along the road to recovery is crucial to ensuring that one is doing everything they can to avoid addiction. Further, opioids’ effects begin to dissipate over time. This means that oftentimes individuals start to seek out opioids that are stronger, oftentimes even being unaware of this key trait of the drugs, due to lack of awareness or lack of understanding.

Addiction is a terrifying ordeal, and once one has fallen down that hole far enough, it becomes exceedingly difficult to find their way out of the darkness. Opioid addiction has been treated with the same negative attitude that all other forms of addiction have been throughout the years. This stigma has arisen thanks to misunderstanding and a lack of willingness to be open and supportive in the face of such a dangerous health risk. More than anything else, it is important to remember that lives will continue to be lost as long as we continue to approach opioid addiction (and all forms of addiction, for that matter) from a point of negative approach. Quite simply, we must be willing and able to do the work to create a more positive approach in the future towards this health risk, or be willing to watch the death toll continue to rise exponentially, year after year. And is anyone okay with that?

The fact is that opioid addiction recovery is a long and challenging road. Successfully navigating its reaches demands a lot of energy, time, and even money. It is not at all uncommon for an individual struggling with opioid addiction to have to take the pathway multiple times before the approach sticks and they find their way out of the darkness (if they ever reach that point at all). The millions of lives that have been lost, and continue to be lost, around the world in the face of opioid addiction tell the harrowing tale of an attempt to better lives going horribly, even fatally, wrong. While there is movement to encourage a more positive approach to opioid addiction and the road to recovery now, there is still a long way to go, and much work to be done. We are amid the beginning of a battle that is going to take a lot of energy, money, and time to correct, but it is entirely worth it.

Addiction in any capacity, on any substance, or in any other form, is undeniably shocking and terrifying. This much is true. However, there is an additional layer to opioid addiction that makes it especially dangerous. That layer is the fact that opioids are often prescribed medications designed to help individuals overcome pain and other symptoms of illnesses or other health issues. Often, what occurs is that individuals do not even realise they are addicted to these medications until their prescription runs out or they start to realise that the effects are not as strong as they once were. That is the nature of opioids; unfortunately, they can be addictive, and this is where the trouble often (if not always) sprouts from first and foremost. A prominent form of addiction, opioid addiction has been treated with the same bad attitude as all forms of addiction – until now. Finally, the tides are turning, and we are creating a more honest, open, and supportive foundation for those suffering with opioid addiction to come forward.

The role of rehabilitation centers in the fight against the opioid crisis

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Health is a multifaceted term with as many connotations as denotations. Some humans use the word health to describe their physicality while others reference their mental well being. For some, health is the type of diet someone has. But the word health is defined as the state of being free from illness or injury. The important thing about health is that it should be reasonable for all people who are suffering from a health related infliction to receive proper care or treatment.

Being healthy is not just eating fruits and vegetables or getting exercise; it is so much more about actually being health from mental all the way to physical well being. It is important to understand how to treat and manage illnesses with a chronic diagnosis. For the unfortunate patients who suffer from cancer or other diseases that are not always preventable, we treat them with medical care, and provide them with the necessary rehabilitation services to get cured. But unfortunately, for those suffering from addiction, we do not always treat them with the right care.

For many unfortunate reasons, some people with an addiction disorder are treated as though they somehow chose their condition. Addiction along with many other mental disorders are often pushed aside because they cannot be seen by the naked eye. The lack of empathy specifically for those suffering from addiction is disheartening.

Many media outlets and social media trolls aim to demonetize addiction because they simply have little understanding of how to treat the disorder. Some western media aims to act as if addiction is in someway a crime. Because some drug-related incidents lead to legal action and crime, people tend to associate drugs with crime, and in turn, associate addiction with crime. Suffering from an addiction does not necessarily constitute criminal activity.

The opioid crisis used to be in rural localized regions, but has since began migrating throughout the United States. Specifically, some of the poorest states like West Virginia and Kentucky have some of the highest rates of opioid addiction. In the southern part of the state of West Virginia, some maps showcase the number of opioid prescriptions per county or per doctor to give a visualized number effect of how over prescribing can lead to addiction. The worst part of the opioid crisis is finding a solution.

One of the first ways to fight the opioid crisis is providing rehabilitation centers that promote sober living. In states and locations with high economic disparity and disadvantage, the opioid crisis is also at an all time high. To combat this issue, it would be wise for local and federal governments to start thinking about a treatment plan with a bottom up approach.

Rehab centers that are focused primarily on opioid and prescription drug addictions will be helpful to combating the disease. It’s important that we treat addiction as a disease in society instead of continually acting like the people who suffer from addiction wanted to have an addiction. Instead, those with an addiction need to get to the root of the issue of why they chose to take the drug in the first place. Because having an addiction is a mental disorder, it should be treated as such. Rehabilitation center can provide patients with medical care as well as psychological care. Often these centers provide patients with group and individual therapy to help them find themselves and be resilient when entering back into civilian life.

The opioid crisis is often at the blame of pharmaceutical companies wanting to make more money, but it is honestly a crisis with many angles. Producing too much of the drug is one part of it, but also, over distribution is another negative effect in the industry. When taking inventory, pharmacists in charge of ordering them need to order only what is needed and not just have extras laying around. Another section of the crisis deals with the realm of doctors and physicians themselves. Physicians are not always completely competent when treating patients. Treating patients as though they have things wrong with them that they don’t or just treating pain in general instead of actually taking the extra step to find out what is wrong can be damaging to the patient’s health. Some patients with addictions will make doctor visits just to try and get more opioids. It is the doctor’s job to be the sleuth for  the opioid crisis and find out who truly needs the pain medicine and who does not actually need it. There are so many reasons that the United States suffers from opioid addiction, but each industry is willing to blame someone else for the problem instead of working together to do research on how to actually find solutions to the problem. The worst part about the opioid addiction is the amount of overdoses that are killing people. When lives are at stake, it is crucial for the government to step in and find answers to problems.

The ongoing discussion surrounding mental health

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Since the dawn of our time here on Earth, our health has been the most paramount part of our existence and our species’ progression. As time has gone on, we have developed a healthy obsession with understanding, improving, and maintaining out physical health. We are now at the point where we have a strong, capable grasp on our physical health and all that it entails. However, the same cannot be said for our understanding and open attitude towards mental health. In fact, if anything, the attitude towards mental health is heavily tainted with a stigma that, despite much effort to the cause of improvement, has not budged much – if any. The fact is that mental health is just as important, if not more so, than physical health, and the stigma has created a global epidemic that is boiling over. For far too long, mental health has been treated as more of an attitude and behavioural problem, than the genuine health risk that it is. Thankfully, thanks to a relatively recent influx of research and studies focusing on mental health, this unhealthy attitude is finally shifting.

When it comes to addressing mental health, it is fair to say that there has always been a stigma surrounding the fact. There is a preconceived notion that mental health is simply a case of attitude and weakness. This response to mental health is not only incorrect and unhealthy, but also incredibly dangerous. Individuals who suffer with mental health struggles often find themselves displaced and unsure of where they sit in the world, and in their world. This is not an opinion, this is fact. And this fact stems, at least partially, from the reality that the alienation and isolation that individuals feel when they struggle with their mental health is partially the response to the attitude of others towards their struggles. This attitude has become a global one, and it stems from the stigma that has been attached to mental health since the dawn of our time. Mental health struggles are not as easily seen and diagnosed as physical health issues, because they do not manifest aesthetically, clear to the eye. But this does not mean, in any way, shape, or form, that they are any less important. If anything, they are even more so.

This toxic attitude towards mental health has created a dangerous precedent. It is one that makes those who suffer with mental health struggles feel alone and terrified. This is so dangerous not only because it goes against basic human nature to be so harsh, but also because it can result in risks to the affected individual’s health. Sometimes, in the worst of cases, the results can be lethal. Fatality as a response to mental health struggles of all kinds is unfortunately quite common. Around the world, more and more individuals have been finding themselves in alarming circumstances. Mental health struggles are a global epidemic, and without the right attitude, and an honest, open, and supportive environment for those suffering to turn to, this issue is only going to continue to fester. Mental health struggle is not a sign of weakness, it is a sign that even the boldest and most determined of strengths can crack under pressure. This is our reality. Mental health struggles can impact anyone, anytime, anywhere. So, it is crucial that the toxic attitude towards mental health changes.

This is, thankfully, changing now. These days, with more research and more studies out there than ever, there is a strong acknowledgement and overall understanding of what we have gotten wrong. Today, the issue of mental health is more prominent than ever – and on a global scale, at that. In fact, acknowledgement and understanding surrounding health on all levels and inputs is growing. Approaches like CBD science, or professional psychology, for example, are dedicated to helping people understand points of health and all it encompasses. Similarly, there are companies motivated to do the same. Finally, people are becoming more supportive and open when discussing issues of mental health, and addressing them adequately and proactively. More than ever, people are honest about their struggles, because they realise that the doorway to the help they need is wide open, rather than edged open slightly at the close. It is the change that the world has so desperately needed, and it is shocking that it has taken this long for it to barrel into effect. Of course, the work is nowhere near done yet, but if we keep moving in this same general direction, there is no reason that we cannot make genuine, lasting impact for mental health and those who suffer with its struggles, both now and into the future.

Mental health is just as important to one’s well being as physical health is. Over the years, there has been an eager and ongoing abundance of research and studies on physical health. This ongoing influx has led to a strong understanding and grasp of physical health. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for mental health. Despite the arching necessity of more studies and research into mental health, there is still a drastic imbalance surrounding the general understanding and support of mental health research. Thankfully (and long overdue), this is slowly but surely changing. Mental health is such a significant contributor to overall health (if not the most important of all), so it is crucial that we reach the honest, open, and supportive point that we have with physical health, with mental health. This is too important than issue to hold off on addressing any longer. In fact, this is long overdue. There is still a lot of work to be done, and a long way to go, but we are finally on the right track.