Ashley Whitesides from Lakeside Behavioral Health recently spent 3 Good Minutes with Amy Speropoulos talking about the impact drug and alcohol abuse has on our society.  You can watch the interview on this page. You can call 901-377-4700 to speak to someone at Lakeside 24 hours a day, seven days a week, if you need help with drug and alcohol abuse or a mental health crisis.    Here is some extended information from Lakeside about the subject:

Q: There has been recent news coverage all over the nation about how drug-related overdoses and deaths continue to worsen. What is driving this epidemic to worsen?

A:  The pandemic was – and is – a significant factor driving isolation, depression and anxiety.  Individuals are turning to alcohol or drugs – and the now accepted work from home environment is a huge driving force exacerbating the situation; the resulting isolation is putting the untreated alcoholic or addict in major danger.  We are now seeing more people that were never addicted or never thought relapse was possible, finding themselves in grave danger! 

The number of overdoses involving fentanyl increased 85% across the state.  Alcohol abuse and drug overdoses have significantly increased, but the prescribing of controlled substances is down significantly across TN.  The latest data collected by the TN Department of Health 2020 & 2021 Annual Overdose Reports.  We are beginning to see more people seeking treatment, since the beginning of the pandemic – which is good news. 

However, technology is making it is easier than ever to shop the internet or any of the social media apps to obtain whatever one may be looking for – including drugs.  Teens and Adults can access a dealer on Snapchat if they want!.  The major problem with this is that people are trying to obtain various types of pills via these internet sites, thinking they are getting them cheaper, but not understanding that they are purchasing fentanyl, in a realistic pill form.  People are also purchasing other newly emerging synthetic opioids that are just as addictive and fatal, when consumed in large quantities or laced with a fatal substance. 

In short, due to the pandemic we have the product of isolation, and the unlimited access through technology to order up a drugs.  People are generally unaware of the danger – believing the drugs are not deadly, if taken correctly but, it the truth is that they are killing people of all ages.

Q: What can we do to help educate our youth about drug and alcohol use?

A:  Hearing from those who personally experienced the devastation of addiction and a successful recovery is so powerful.  We have a large recovery community in the Mid-South.  We would suggest inviting speakers from the recovery community into the schools to speak and tell their story.  The hope is to reach someone that is suffering and to let them know that there is a way out, if I can, you can!  There is nothing more relevant to an alcoholic or addict, when one shares with the other, the magic that happens and acceptance of struggle that breaks down the walls of stigma.

Q: If there is someone struggling with drug or alcohol use, what are their options for help?

A: Please seek help – there is no shame in reaching out.  Talk to your school counselor, teachers, friends, faith leaders, parents, family members, or mentors. Call Lakeside Behavioral Health Services day or night, at (901) 377-4700, or SAMHSA’s National Helpline 1-800-662-HELP or visit SAMHSA.gov.  If you or a loved one is struggling with mental health or drug and alcohol substance abuse issues, help is available.  Here at Lakeside, we have two adult programs, including several outpatient options that address alcoholism/ substance abuse and underlying mental health issues.  Our alcohol/addiction programs focus on safe detox, the disease itself, and treatment with a spiritual, mental, and physical health strategy, along with medication if needed.  We also take a 12-step approach and utilize the experience of our peer support staff, who are able to share in a compassionate, yet professional manner that implements the 12 steps and traditions of AA, CA, HA, and NA.

Here’s some additional information from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration Website:

  • Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) is an international fellowship of men and women who have had a drinking problem.  It is non-professional, self-supporting, multiracial, apolitical, and available almost everywhere. There are no age or education requirements. Membership is open to anyone who wants to do something about his or her drinking problem.  Alcoholics Anonymous uses a traditional 12-step model that has been expanded and developed for people with varied alcohol abuse issues.  For more information and to find a meeting location, visit the Memphis office of Alcoholics Anonymous online or call their local AA Helpline 24 hours a day, (901) 454-1414
  • Narcotics Anonymous (NA) describes itself as a “non-profit fellowship or society of men and women for whom drugs had become a major problem.”  Narcotics Anonymous uses a traditional 12-step model that has been expanded and developed for people with varied substance abuse issues.  For more information and to find a meeting location, visit the local NA organization online or call t