Call: (760) 323-2118
8am to 5pm Monday - Friday

Call: (760) 323-2118
8am to 5pm Mon - Fri

Hispanic Heritage Month

Hispanic Heritage Month 

By Leighton Ginn

HIV has disproportionately affected the Hispanic population, but DAP Health’s Ruth Diaz De Leon said what has hurt the community will also be its most valuable weapon in stopping the spread – communication.  

A CDC report said a fifth of the population with HIV are Latinos, and a quarter of all new cases are Latino. In 2018, Hispanics and Latinos made up 27 percent of the 37,968 new HIV diagnosis in the US.  

As we celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month, which runs from Sept. 15 through Oct. 15, we take a look at how HIV has affected this segment of the population, which has been hit hard.  

De Leon, the community health educator, said the main issue is communication, or the lack of it.  

In the CDC report, 1 in 6 Hispanic/Latinos with HIV are unaware they have it.  

“From what we’ve seen with patients here, typically they grow up not speaking about sexual health with their families because there is some shame that comes with it and being judged. It hinders them from learning about protection and how things are transmitted,” De Leon said.  “It can be pretty difficult just because most of them are in that mentality that they weren’t raised to speak about this and they don’t want to know about this.” 

What has been effective for De Leon is understanding how to relate to them. When patients come into DAP Health to talk about HIV and AIDS, De Leon presents the facts to them. While the facts are important, she said the next level is to relate to them by sharing antidotal information that will resonate with them.  De Leon is a native of the Coachella Valley, having grown up in Desert Hot Springs, and understands the nuances of the community.  

“I’m also Hispanic and I can relate to them pretty well. I’ll let them know, ‘I know this is how it was, but let me just tell you what I know and we can go from here.’ We also let them know it’s confidential what we speak about and if they have any questions,” De Leon said. “That usually breaks down the wall with them. They’re like ‘OK.’  

“We’ve provided them with the tools in a judge-free zone, so they know to come here.” 

De Leon has worked at DAP Health for three years and feels they have made progress.  She feels that by reaching out to the community, they have built up DAP’s reputation through word of mouth.  

“That’s what has been happening with us here. That’s how it’s gotten better,” De Leon said. “It’s about providing a judgement-free conversation. It opens them up to want to wanting to learn more and being open minded.” 



History hides in the initials we use for …

History hides in the initials we use for the lesbian, gay and transgender communities

Sometimes an abbreviation or acronym is more than the sum of its letters.

Take the well-known abbreviation LGBT and longer variants, like LGBTQQIAAP. Those letters represent our entire community, lesbians; gays; bisexuals; transgender people; and those identifying as queer, intersex, asexual, and more.

Did you notice the letter with which all those abbreviations start? That L represents a long history and a lot of controversy in the gay rights movement.

About 70 years ago, people sexually attracted to the same gender used to be called homosexuals. That word didn't age well.

Then in the 1950s and 1960s, people began referring to homosexuals as homophiles. That didn't age well either.

In the 1970s, the word gay became embraced by the men formerly known as homosexuals. As the gay rights movement grew, lesbians wanted to create their own identities.

Unfortunately, during this turbulent time, animosity began to grow between gay men and lesbians. The genders simply were in different camps, says Dr. Jill "Dr. G" Gover, Director of Behavioral Health at DAP Health.

The women felt gay men were sexist and behaved the way all men did at the time, which was to marginalize them, Dr. G says. There was even a subgroup of lesbians who wanted to separate and have nothing to do with gay men. They were more aligned with straight women around feminist issues.

As the gay rights movement expanded during the late 1970s, the abbreviation gays and lesbians began to use for their large, varied community was GLBT. It started with a G, which only underscored how many lesbians felt about their place in the community.

Many women active in gay rights felt it was time to address that issue, says Dr. G., who taught LGBTQ+ history at California State University, San Bernardino. And people started to become more aware of the role lesbians played within the gay rights movement.

Moving an L in front of a G may seem trivial to many, but symbols don't have to be grand gestures. That change was meant to honor the women who also were part of the gay rights movement, Dr. G says.

The AIDS crisis in the 1980s changed everything.

As the Reagan Revolution swept across the nation and the Material Girl told us she felt "Like A Virgin" before assuring us she would keep her baby, scores of gay men contracted HIV and died of AIDS. It was an exploding, unstoppable pandemic whose barbarity is too easy to forget 40 years later.

We learned that "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" while "Video Killed the Radio Star." MTV landed on the moon and shaped a generation. Steven Spielberg introduced us to E.T., while ALF hid out in the San Fernando Valley. Betamax lost to VHS. The United States boycotted the 1980 Summer Olympics. Four years later, the Soviet Union followed suit. Pac-Man took the country by storm, and everyone tried to solve a puzzle in a cube. Freddie Mercury stole the show at Wembley Stadium in 1985 during Live Aid. Two years later, he tested positive for AIDS and died four years after that.

That was the 1980s, and it felt like no one in America cared about those who died of AIDS.

Many of the sick and dying men didn't have children or were estranged from their biological families, says Dr. G. Too many had no one. Lesbians stepped up and started to take care of those dying of AIDS, becoming primary caregivers to the sick and dying.

"That was a huge shift in terms of the community coming together and healing around the riffs between the men and the women,"  Dr. G says.

Because of the compassion and humanity lesbians showed gay men, much of the separatism of the 1970s disappeared in the 1980s. The LGBTQ+ community began to see their future linked as they worked together to survive the HIV and AIDS pandemic.

The LGBT community is large and complex, with many groups, subcultures, organizations, and histories. There are many initials people use to identify it, including LGBTQ+, LGBTQIA+, LGBTI, LGBTQQ, and more.

Each one of those initials starts with an L. The placement of that L is far from trivial. It's a recognition that lesbians are not second-class members of their community. In reality, they kept the community together during its darkest days.

A lot is at stake in Tuesday’s guberna …

A lot is at stake in Tuesday’s gubernatorial recall election

DAP Health Insights – Monday, Sept. 13, 2021, from David Brinkman, CEO 

Vote for health

A person's health impacts whether or not they vote, and those who do vote shape the state's health care policy. This cycle can have a negative impact on marginalized communities if those with poor health vote less often than healthier citizens, which they do.

On Tuesday, Sept. 14, voters will be asked if Gov. Gavin Newsom should remain the governor of California. The recall ballot then asks voters to choose a person to replace Newsom should a majority of voters decide to replace him.

If Newsom avoids being recalled, state policies that impact health — from housing to education — will likely stay the same. If he is recalled, state policies could change in unknown ways.

A conversation with Erasure’s Andy Bell 

DAP Health’s Steven Henke, Director of Brand Marketing, caught up with Andy Bell via email to talk about his career, his new album "The View from Halfway Down," and his September 18 keynote address at the Aging Positively – Reunion Project HIV and aging conference.

Bell is a founding member of Erasure. Now, three decades into their career, they are considered one of the most adored and influential synth-pop bands. Bell shed some positive vibes on his life and the creative renaissance he is experiencing.

Vote for your health in California’ …

Vote for your health in California's recall election 

By Robert Hopwood 

A person's health impacts whether or not they vote, and those who do vote shape the state's health care policy. This cycle can hurt marginalized communities if those with poor health vote less often than healthier citizens, which they do. 

"Voting and health are associated, namely people with worse health tend to be less likely to engage in voting," according to a 2020 study in Public Health Review. "Differences in voter participation due to social, economic, and health inequities have been shown to have large effects on electoral outcomes." 

Health policy encompasses much more than health insurance regulations and prescription drug prices. While those issues are important, many other policy decisions determine whether or not people live healthy, fulfilling lives. 

Those issues, known as the social determinants of health, encompass the conditions in places where people live, learn, work, and play that affect a wide range of health and quality-of-life risks and outcomes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

The determinants of health include housing economic stability, education access and quality, health care access and quality, neighborhood and the built environment and social and community context, according to the U.S. Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. 

These are all issues DAP Health takes seriously, and those who mail in their ballots or show up to the polls are the people who will shape these policies for years to come. 

On Tuesday, Sept. 14, voters will be asked two questions. Should Gov. Gavin Newsom remain the governor of California? And who should replace Newsom if a majority of voters decide to remove him from office? 

More: More than a Little Respect – A Conversation with Erasure’s Andy Bell 

More: COVID-19 vaccine: A message from Dr. David Morris, DAP Health Chief Medical Officer

With 46 candidates vying to replace Newsom, we can only guess how the recall results will impact the state's health-related policies. Those candidates span the ideological spectrum. 

If Newsom avoids becoming the second governor in California history to be recalled, state policies that impact health — from housing to education — likely will stay the same. If he is recalled, state policies could change in unknown ways depending on who replaces him.  

And further complicating the guessing game about the potential direction of state policies after Tuesday is the state Legislature. 

Whoever wins will have to work with the legislative body, which controls the power of the purse. And it isn't changing after Tuesday. Together, the Assembly and Senate provide an essential check on every governor's power. 

Following the recall election, the state will continue focusing on the issues that impact every Californian's health and welfare. 

For example, as anyone who walks through downtown Palm Springs knows, the Golden State has a homeless crisis. Whoever wins Tuesday's recall will have to tackle the problem, directly impacting the lives of more than 150,000 people and the communities in which they live. 

Another issue facing the state is surprise billing. For example, when someone visits the emergency room, he/she/they may unknowingly get procedures done by providers who aren't covered by their insurance. They often have to deal with thousands of dollars in unanticipated and uncovered costs when the bill arrives. 

The people who vote in Tuesday's election will be the ones who decide who becomes or remains one of California's most influential persons. Those who stay home won't. 

Desert retirement with Revivals Stores

Desert retirement with Revivals Stores 

Meet Larry Boyle and Terry DeBhur.

Boyle and DeBuhr moved go the Coachella Valley from Chicago two years ago. They arrived July 5, 2019, with two dogs and hope for an active and enjoyable retirement. As volunteers at Revivals, they have found that.

DeBhur grew up in Derry, Northern Ireland, during the Troubles, but always knew there was a larger world to explore. Boyle grew up in a small rural town in Iowa, and he left at the first opportunity for graduate school in Claremont in 1971. Terry and Larry met in London nearly 25 years ago and were married in 2014. After retiring from their academic life at Loyola University Chicago, they packed up and left for the desert. 

While still living in Chicago, the men frequently visited the Coachella Valley and enjoyed shopping at Revivals. After a year of settling in to desert life — which was interrupted by a pandemic — they began to volunteer as cashiers at the Cathedral City Revivals store. They enjoy working with Revivals staff and volunteers, talking to customers, and doing some shopping themselves.   

In addition to the volunteer work at Revivals, Boyle and DeBhur enjoy leading hikes on desert mountain trails. DeBhur is an avid creative writer and enjoys putting his reflections into poetry. Boyle enjoys wildflower hunting and photography. 


More than a Little Respect – A Convers …

Photo Credit: Erika Wagner

More than a Little Respect  A Conversation with Erasure’s Andy Bell 

By Steven Henke 

As seen in The Standard Magazine

I caught up with Andy Bell via email to talk about his career, his new album "The View from Halfway Down," and his September 18 keynote address at the Aging Positively – Reunion Project HIV and aging conference. Bell shed some positive vibes on his life and the creative renaissance he is experiencing 

Bell is a founding member of Erasure. Formed in 1985, when former Depeche Mode and Yazoo member Vince Clarke advertised for a new singer, the duo became successful in the U.K., U.S., and other countries with hits like "Chains of Love," "A Little Respect," and "Oh L'Amour." 

Now, three decades into their career, they are considered one of the most adored and influential synth-pop bands, selling more than 25 million records. In 2019, Erasure released their 18th studio album, "The Neon." 

Question: Thank you for talking with us. It has been a crazy year. You split your time between London and Miami. Where are you today? 

Answer: Finally, after a year and seven months, I'm back in Miami with my hubby after quarantining for two weeks in Cancun. I feel a huge sense of relief. Everyone was beginning to question my sanity and whether our relationship was real or not, or if I had just woken up from a strange dream!  

Q: I read there was a time during the pandemic when you were in lockdown in London and your husband, Stephen, and dog were in Florida. How did the lockdown change you? Did you learn anything new about yourself? 

A: I learned for the first time in my life that I could actually live with myself and do things for myself. I may have been a bit smelly, and I may not have washed as frequently as I should have, but hey, what the hell. I never lived on my own since leaving home at 18 from a large family, and I was dependent on other people. It was great to do my laundry, wash up and go grocery shopping. I love TV, so I can be a real couch potato. There were quite a few Erasure-related things to do, having just finished our photo session and mixing right before the pandemic broke, so I had many Zoom meetings.  

Q:  Many members of the LGBTQ+ community struggled with isolation and mental health during the pandemic. How did you take care of yourself? 

A:  I must admit, I did go back into my shell somewhat and did not speak to people or my family up to the point that they would worry and text to see if I was OK! The worst thing was not knowing when it would end. Canceling four flights made me feel like the red tape was somehow gagging me. Eventually, I had friends over, got stoned and drunk, and had a complete bitch and conspiracy theory fest. It helped tremendously! I'm glad I'm slightly mad, and so are my friends, but I think the LGBTQ crew has to be somewhat to survive. In the U.K., we are fortunate to have the National Health Service, which the U.S. seems to be so frightened of. The word "socialism" is just a word. How can you be scared of a word? It's just about non-profit organizations helping other people. Humans need one another, not this constant bickering, blaming, and point scoring! I did revert to my childhood in many ways, ordering lots of licorice and ice pops. And I did some online counseling, but that lasted three sessions (too boring), plus I got a bit sick of celebs doing their survival blogs, etc. Not that I am bitter (hehehe)! 

Q: Despite the pandemic, you have been experiencing a creative renaissance, releasing a new album, "The Neon!" The album has been described as one of 2020s most elevating moments in an otherwise difficult year. Did you have a team with you, or was making this album a more solitary experience?   

A: As I said, it had already been recorded just in time the previous October. (And I have to admit, I was very sober making it.) It was so refreshing that Vince had already recorded the backing tracks and musical scores in Brooklyn, and I vocalized the top lines in his home studio. There was an excitement in the air. I felt a new appreciation for the new wave music I had listened to as a teenager, and it bled into our new songs.  

Q: Before the pandemic, you released Erasure's 18th album, "The Neon." The album had a feel-good dance vibe that was great for keeping our spirits up during the lockdown. How did you choose the name for that album?  

A: "The Neon" conveys to me the red-light district nightlife and memories of the fairground. I love soft mezcal neon against ancient stone! 

Q: Erasure's 1988 single "A Little Respect" was voted the "Ultimate Pride Anthem" in a new poll from radio station Virgin Radio Pride UK, beating out anthems by Xtina, Gaga, Cher, and Madonna. What did that feel like?  

A:  We were completely taken by surprise by it. I admire the Virgin brand, and two of our favorite DJs now work there, Chris Evans and Graham Norton. It is great to be in such esteemed company on the list, so to speak. I suppose these things are cyclical.  

Q: Take us back 36 years; what were you doing when you answered Vince Clarke's ad looking for a new singer? Is it true you were selling ladies' shoes while starting your singing career? 

A: Yes, and laughing hysterically when I got static electric shocks from the metal stands because of the nylon carpets.  

Q: Did you have any idea when you met Clarke that you would be making music together 36 years later? Is it still exciting to imagine new music together?   

A: Vince Clarke was THE person I dreamed of working with, so, it goes without saying, I think he was a straight man looking for a gay husband! Time has flown by and honestly has no meaning for me!  

Q: You were one of the first openly gay pop stars, and you famously used fashion to make bold statements. Was there a message you hoped to send to other members of the LGBTQ+ community when you wore your iconic outfits? To me, I saw a brave Gay man. Was everyone supportive, or did you face pushback?  

A: It was fine. I didn't want there to be any doubt in anyone's mind as to who I was, and the campiness was somewhat of an armor. When "Sometimes" took off in the mid-1980s, I wore a white T-shirt and jeans. The first few videos from "Wonderland" were so camp, MTV was not going to touch them. It wasn't a sophisticated look like it is today because of RuPaul (God bless him). However, when the airplay started to drop off somewhat, I remember someone saying, "oh, can't you just put a dress back on!" 

Q: In 2004, you announced that you had been HIV positive for six years. Tell me about the process of making that decision. Did you know it would inspire others to know their status?  

A: I was scared at the time, and it took a few years for me to process it. At that time, a witch hunt was in full flow in the U.K. press. This is something I will discuss further at the conference.  

Q: You've been open about being gay since the 1980s and about having HIV. That openness helped many of us in the LGBTQ+ community, and it helped allies understand what they could not experience. Are you able to appreciate the impact you made? Who encouraged or inspired you to be authentic? 

A: To be honest, I think you are born with it. My mother was also very instrumental because she's basically a punk at heart who doesn't give a shit! I don't think about it too much. I love to be free and enjoy myself. Also, I rejected religion at about age 11.  

Q: You are the keynote speaker at the September 18 HIV and aging conference. How does living with HIV impact your life today? 

A: I am so grateful to be alive and be a beneficiary of the cutting-edge science used to create our medications. I salute all of those who passed before us and the brave activists who still fight for us every day. Never take your "freedom" for granted, although to me, it is a God-given right. It can be taken away at the stroke of a pen, usually by the people who believe they love Jesus. (So do I!) Love CANNOT be offensive. It is a misguided conception. 

Q: Every life and career has its ups and downs. How do you find inspiration today to keep the process fresh and exciting for yourself? How do you walk through the downtimes?  

A: Stop listening to music for a while, do a play, forget who you are, and just mingle. Sometimes a good dance helps.  

Q: You have uniquely dedicated fans that look forward to hearing their favorite songs when you perform. Do you have a favorite song that you look forward to playing at every concert?   

A: "Blue Savannah."  

What: The Aging Positively — Reunion Project 6th annual HIV conference is a collaboration between the HIV+ Aging Research Project—Palm Springs and other nonprofit community partners. It will be a virtual conference consisting of a mix of facilitated discussions, panels, and presentations led by key researchers, advocates, and long-term survivors of HIV/AIDS.  

When:  The 6th Annual Aging Positively — Reunion Project virtual conference will be held 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sept. 18, 2021. 

Where:  Attendees can attend the conference from the digital device of their choice.  In-person elements may be announced later.  

How: Registration is free and open on Eventbrite:

An update on the COVID-19 vaccine and re …

An update on the COVID-19 vaccine and recommendations for a third dose

DAP Health Insights – Monday, September 6, 2021, from David Brinkman, CEO 

COVID-19 vaccine: A message from Dr. David Morris, DAP Health Chief Medical Officer

The majority of our patients living with HIV are healthy and thriving, but unfortunately some are moderately to severely immunocompromised. The CDC recommends  some immunocompromised individuals consider a third COVID-19 dose. HIV positive patients  whose CD4 cell count is <200/mm3 or CD4 percentage is 14 or less who want information about the COVID-19 vaccine should log into MyChart and send a message to their clinician, who can confidentially discuss their medical history and make a personalized recommendation. Click here for more information.

Revivals volunteer Steven Shuman finds purpose and unity through giving back

Steven Shuman grew up in Miami and attended the University of Florida. After college, he moved to Fort Lauderdale, where he worked for the Internal Revenue Service for 33 years before retiring in 2008. For the next six years, he worked in real estate.

In 2015, Shuman and his husband, Brad Kane, moved to Palm Springs. Once settled in the desert, Shuman wanted to find a way to occupy his time while also giving back to his community. A friend referred him to Revivals, the local nonprofit thrift store that donates 100% of its net profits to DAP Health.

Shuman can be found at the store three mornings a week. "I enjoy what I do there," he says. "One of my favorite stories here is when I was going through a bag and found a $100 bill, which also went to Revivals." Read more about Shuman from The Desert Sun.

COVID-19 vaccine: A message from Dr. Dav …


COVID-19 vaccine: A message from Dr. David Morris, DAP Health Chief Medical Officer

Early in the coronavirus pandemic, DAP Health prioritized our immunocompromised and older patients to ensure they received COVID-19 vaccination in line with recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

The CDC has updated its clinical COVID-19 vaccination guidance to recommend that people who are moderately to severely immunocompromised -- including people with advanced or untreated HIV -- who received either the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines receive an additional (third) dose.

Many experts consider people with HIV (PWH) whose CD4 cell count is <200/mm3 or CD4 percentage is 14 or less to have advanced disease.

Today, the majority of our PWH are healthy and thriving because of the comprehensive care they receive, which includes access to life-saving medication that suppresses the HIV viral load.   

PWH should discuss their concerns or questions about a COVID-19 third shot with their clinicians. There may be compelling reasons beyond CD4 cell count that may warrant an additional (third)  dose.

For patients who are not immunocompromised, DAP Health continues to monitor the evolving CDC guidelines for booster shots and will be ready to provide these as recommended by CDC.  Until then, we do not believe there are any health benefits to getting the booster shot early. 

This Fall, the third vaccine shot (booster) will be recommended to those without impaired immunity who received either the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines if they are authorized by FDA and recommended by CDC. The FDA and CDC are evaluating Johnson & Johnson’s vaccines, but they have not made any recommendations at this time.

If you have questions about your care, please reach out to your clinician on MyChart. If you have questions pertaining to the vaccine booster or Delta variant, please call our COVID Clinic at (760) 992-0407

More resources



‘Immediately call 911’: Brendan Burk …

‘Immediately call 911’: Brendan Burke on overdoses

DAP Health Insights – Monday, Aug. 30, 2021, from David Brinkman, CEO

Brendan Burke reminds us which overdose signs to watch out for on International Overdose Awareness Day

Too many people’s lives end in overdose, making them another statistic in the nation’s fight against illicit drugs and abused medications, like opioids.

International Overdose Awareness Day is August 31. It was created to bring awareness to overdose deaths and remember the people who died. And it is a day to acknowledge the grief of their family and friends.

To mark the day, we talked with Brendan Burke, a Substance Use Specialist here at DAP Health, about overdoses. Burke is a Substance Use Specialist here at DAP Health. He also is a registered counselor.

Conversations about HIV and aging

September 18 is National HIV/AIDS and Aging Awareness Day — a day to call attention to the growing number of people living long and full lives with HIV and to aging-related challenges of HIV prevention, testing, treatment, and care.

Representing a variety of local organizations, Conversations about HIV & Aging shares the perspectives and wisdom of four local individuals who are thriving because of the support they receive. 

Those community members shared with us their future goals; the challenges they’ve faced aging with HIV; how the U=U message has shifted their outlook on dating and connection; how they have taken care of their mental health; what has inspired them; and more.

Read more by Bridgette, 48, who has been living with HIV for 8.5 years; Nicholas, 59, living with HIV for 14 years; Brett, 60, living with HIV for 28 years; and Guillermo, 55, living with HIV for 30 years.

People living with HIV are invited to attend Aging Positively — Reunion Project virtual conference. The keynote speaker will be singer Andy Bell from the synth-pop duo Erasure.

‘Immediately call 911’: Bren …

'Immediately call 911': Brendan Burke on overdoses

By Robert Hopwood

Too many lives end in overdose, becoming a statistic in the nation's fight against illicit drugs and abused medications like opioids.

Since 1999, nearly 841,000 people have died from a drug overdose, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In 2019 alone, 70,630 drug overdose deaths occurred in the United States. 

Behind every number is a face. Each digit is a person with dreams and heartache, who laughed and cried, who loved and was loved.

International Overdose Awareness Day on August 31 was created to remember those who have died over the years and to acknowledge the grief of their family and friends. It is a global day to shine a spotlight on overdoses.

To raise awareness about overdoses, we talked with Brendan Burke, a Substance Use Specialist at DAP Health. He is a registered counselor with a RADT I certification. Below is our discussion, edited for clarity and length.

Question: What can people overdose on?

Answer: When it comes to potentially abusing a substance, anything that can create some form of dependency typically leaves you higher at risk for overdose. So outside of illegal drugs, something like benzodiazepines — that is a very common substance that can be prescribed — can result in an overdose if it's not taken properly. It can also result in severe seizures when you do stop, when you go through withdrawal. And then something like opiates, like Oxycontin, are prescribed medications. Those can also be taken in excess where it can cause an overdose.

Question: What risk factors increase the chance of an overdose?

Answer: Taking any type of illicit substance in general and taking any type of prescribed medication outside of the confines of the way it's intended to be taken.

Question: How do you know if someone has overdosed?

Answer: It depends on the substance. The most common signs of overdose would be trouble breathing. You might notice the lips turning blue, the person not reacting, or the person not responding to you. The most common sign would be shallow breathing, and then if the person's non-responsive, if the person's skin is clammy or if you see someone having a seizure.

Question: What should you do if someone overdoses?

Answer: Immediately call 911. I would say if the person has Narcan with them, I would have someone call 911 while another person administers the Narcan. Or I would call 911 and, while on the phone, administer the Narcan. Even if the person comes to after the dose of Narcan, it is incredibly important that they have emergency services available.

More: Vaccines protect millions from disease, suffering, death

More: DAP Health magazine helps community members live their best life

Question: What can be done if someone overdoses?

Answer: A lot of treatment facilities will give out Narcan, a medication that can be prescribed, to its patients. If anyone has any type of opiate overdose, it's something where they would put it in the nose with one quick spritz release. That basically immediately blocks all the receptors in the brain that are responding to the opiate. And it basically throws the person into immediate withdrawal mode. So it's something that's very uncomfortable, but it can essentially save someone's life with something like an opiate. Narcan nasal spray is something that's fantastic to have if you're dealing with any type of opioid addiction. If there's an overdose from a stimulant, there's more risk of a heart attack or stroke. That would be something where you would want to immediately seek medical attention.

Question: Who is most at risk of overdosing?

Answer: The person that's abusing substances regularly. People in early recovery that are at risk for relapse. And anyone that regularly abuses a substance.

Question: Why do people put themselves at risk of overdosing?

Answer: It would be addiction. Addiction is something — and this is very important to know — that is recognized as a disease. It fits the disease model. It is a disease of compulsion. You know, everything to an individual tells them, "Hey, this is wrong." Yet, there's still this strong unmeasurable need for it. The more we become understanding of addiction, the better we understand overdose and realize this person doesn't have that intention. They're like a moth to a flame, in need of that substance.

Question: Can shame in marginalized groups lead to substance abuse?

Answer: There have been numerous studies that any marginalized or minority group, specifically the LGBTQ+ community, deal with a lot of shame. And shame gravely affects our behavioral health, our emotional, and our psychological health. And that leaves us far more susceptible to things like addiction, and in turn, leaves our community more at risk for things like an overdose.

Question: How do you overcome shame to get somebody into recovery or treatment?

Answer: That's a really hard one. I think it always needs to be an individualized approach. I would say when we approach the person with empathy, when we approach the person with understanding and when we approach the person with non-judgment, I would say those are the three primary ways to create a sense of bringing down the wall for a person. And then we top it off with facts. You know, we let the person listen. We do a lot in therapy in behavioral health. We gently lift the mirror up to them so they can start seeing the reflection. But the only way someone will be receptive to the mirror is if we approach them with empathy, with understanding, and with the facts.

Question: What role does depression play in overdoses?

Answer: Depression is the internal siren telling us something's wrong, whether there is a chemical imbalance or whether something has been experienced that's just too overwhelming, and we have a hard time coping with it. Depression and anxiety are very loud, blaring red emergency sirens that tell us, "Hey, there's a problem. Listen to it." I'd say the best advice when we experience depression is to listen to it, see what it needs. That means exploring different treatment options or taking care of ourselves if the depression is a little bit more situational. And when we do that, we don't start leaning towards areas that are higher risk to escape it. When we use substances to try and avoid depression, we're running from it. We want to do the opposite. We want to listen to it. There's a reason why depression hurts. It's to call our attention to it, just like if you or I broke our arm, it would sting like a mother. That is the arm's way of telling the nerves to be cautious and to be mindful, and to treat it. When we experience discomfort from anxiety or depression, it's part of ourselves that is asking to be treated.