Almost 21 million Americans have at least one addiction, yet only 10% of them receive treatment. Drugs, plastic surgery, alcohol, video games, gambling, shopping, food, sex, the internet, risky behaviors…can all be addictions. In honor of Mental Health Awareness Month, host Dana Davenport is focusing on addiction to bring attention to how this pandemic and other world changes have impacted mental health overall and the rise of addictions. Dana chats with local experts to discuss what addiction is, what compels someone to repeatedly use substances or engage in behaviors even though they have harmful consequences, and how critical support is in recovery.
DuPage Overdose Increase
Dana chatted with Dr. Jorgensen about what he had witnessed over the past year saying “In 2020, overdoses in DuPage County were up by 17% compared to the previous year with 112 opioid deaths. Specifically, Cook County saw a 25.6 percent increase in opioid overdoses during Illinois’ first stay-at-home order in 2020.”
“We had a marked increase in the number of deaths as well, when I first became coroner in 2012 we had 38 overdoses due to opioids, and I considered that to be a crisis, last year we had a 17% increase in 2020 as you said up to 112 and an additional 18 overdoses due to other drugs, prescription drugs, and cocaine. So you can imagine that going from 38 to 130 deaths in a year is a massive increase in the past 8 years,” said Dr. Jorgensen.
Pandemics Impact on Women
Dana asked Amanda, “Women make up 40% of the workforce. How have they been impacted by the pandemic in ways that intersect with addiction?”
“Women are drinking more during the pandemic. Because the brunt of the parenting, caring for the children, the family, really falls on them. Women also reported higher rates related to changes in productivity and sleep. The research is still unfolding obviously as what happened during this pandemic but its showing the physiological stresses related to Covid is associated with greater drinking for women,” replied Amanda.
Dana looked to Jessica to give some advice to those who might be struggling with addiction. Jessica responded by saying “There are resources, that you are not alone. That you are not a bad person, trying to be good you are a sick person who needs help getting well.”
Dana closed the show by saying “Addiction can happen to anyone. It can happen to me. It can happen to you. We are in trying times that make us all susceptible to falling into habits and traits that lead to addiction. To those who are struggling, know that you are not alone. We’ve shared valuable tips in identifying addictive traits. For others. For yourself. May we all exhibit compassion in getting the help that is needed.”
Guests on the Show
Amanda Kunzer, Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor, Director of Operations, Good Therapy
Richard A. Jorgensen, MD, FACS, DuPage County Coroner
Brad Gerke, Co-Founder, 516 Light Foundation
Jessica Gerke, Co-Founder, 516 Light Foundation
Dana Davenport is a Naperville resident who is passionate about life. Originally from the northern suburbs of Chicago, she is now a Naperville resident and a graduate of Spelman College and the University of Chicago Law School. An attorney and mother, Dana divorced in 2015, unleashing a new lease on life. She has a live radio show on intellectualradio.com on Wednesdays at 9 pm and is excited to bring that show to television audiences on Naperville Community Television each month.
Previously, Dana has appeared on “He Said She Said” with Wanda Bee, “The Drive at 5” with Roman, and “Jaw Jackin” with Bob and T.C., and she was a relationship advisor on the “Gift of Gab Show” with Gabby Smith.