Inequalities in mental healthcare and lack of social support during the COVID-19 pandemic have lowered quality of life and increased overall burden of disease in people with Parkinson's (PWP). Although the pandemic has brought attention to these inequalities, they are long standing and will persist unless addressed. Lack of awareness of mental health issues is a major barrier and even when recognized disparities based on race, gender, and socioeconomic factors limit access to already scarce resources. Stigma regarding mental illness is highly prevalent and is a major barrier even when adequate care exists. Limited access to mental healthcare during the pandemic and in general increases the burden on caregivers and families. Historically, initiatives to improve mental healthcare for PWP focused on interventions designed for specialty and academic centers generally located in large metropolitan areas, which has created unintended geographic disparities in access. In order to address these issues this point of view suggests a community-based wellness model to extend the reach of mental healthcare resources for PWP.
Subject(s)Healthcare Disparities/trends , Mental Disorders/therapy , Mental Health/trends , Parkinson Disease/therapy , Social Support/trends , Health Resources/trends , Humans , Mental Disorders/epidemiology , Mental Disorders/psychology , Parkinson Disease/epidemiology , Parkinson Disease/psychology , Social Support/psychology
A growing body of research has reported on the potential opioid-sparing effects of cannabis and cannabinoids, but less is known about specific mechanisms. The present research examines cannabis-related posts in two large online communities on the Reddit platform ("subreddits") to compare mentions of naturalistic cannabis use by persons self-identifying as actively using opioids versus persons in recovery. We extracted all posts mentioning cannabis-related keywords (e.g., "weed", "cannabis", "marijuana") from December 2015 through August 2019 from an opioid use subreddit and an opioid recovery subreddit. To investigate how cannabis is discussed at-scale, we identified and compared the most frequent phrases in cannabis-related posts in each subreddit using term-frequency-inverse document frequency (TF-IDF) weighting. To contextualize these findings, we also conducted a qualitative content analysis of 200 random posts (100 from each subreddit). Cannabis-related posts were about twice as prevalent in the recovery subreddit (n = 908; 5.4% of 16,791 posts) than in the active opioid use subreddit (n = 4,224; 2.6% of 159,994 posts, p < .001). The most frequent phrases from the recovery subreddit referred to time without using opioids and the possibility of using cannabis as a "treatment." The most frequent phrases from the opioid subreddit referred to concurrent use of cannabis and opioids. The most common motivations for using cannabis were to manage opioid withdrawal symptoms in the recovery subreddit, often in conjunction with anti-anxiety and GI-distress "comfort meds," and to enhance the "high" when used in combination with opioids in the opioid subreddit. Despite limitations in generalizability from pseudonymous online posts, this examination of reports of naturalistic cannabis use in relation to opioid use identified withdrawal symptom management as a common motivation. Future research is warranted with more structured assessments that examines the role of cannabis and cannabinoids in addressing both somatic and affective symptoms of opioid withdrawal.