Media Coverage

Kenneth E. Leonard, PhD, professor of psychiatry and director of UB’s Clinical and Research Institute on Addictions, in interviewed for a story on how the national attention on white victims of the opioid crisis has pushed minorities to the sidelines, even as the number of opioid-related deaths among non-whites is on the rise. Leonard said racial bias and the stereotyping of patients of color also play a role in the rate of prescriptions and overdoses among non-white Americans. “There is a bias issue there in terms of either believing [minorities are] more likely to be substance abusers or they can endure more pain,” he said.
An article looking at suicide prevention in the wake of three very public local incidents interviews Yogesh D. Bakhai, MD, associate professor of clinical psychiatry, who said he wouldn’t be surprised if none of those involved had ever seen a psychiatrist or mental health counselor. Bakhai said that while difficult to detect, those contemplating suicide often leave clues in their language or behavior that they are struggling with life.
Research by Jessica A. Kulak, PhD, a former postdoctoral fellow in UB’s Primary Care Research Institute, and Kim Strong Griswold, MD, professor of family medicine and psychiatry, suggests that shifts in illicit substance use among American youth will compel primary care physicians to monitor new products and how they are used. 
Articles about prescription drug addiction in older adults quote Kenneth E. Leonard, PhD, professor of psychiatry and director of UB’s Clinical and Research Institute on Addiction, who discussed the tendency for these patients to sometimes combine opioids with benzodiazepines because of an increased tolerance for these drugs. “They’re not using these medications to get high or for risk-taking but they’re using them to manage their pain,” he said. “Sometimes they combine them with benzodiazepines that they are prescribed. And many of the deaths that we see involve a combination of opiates and benzodiazepines.”
An article about a Florida man who was high on erotic-themed whippets when he crashed a car and killed a lawyer quotes Kenneth E. Leonard, PhD, professor of psychiatry and director of UB’s Clinical and Research Institute on Addictions. Leonard described how whippets, which are cannisters of nitrous oxide, have taken a beat seat, in terms of usage and public policy, to other illicit drugs. “I haven't heard much about whippets for some time either. Opioids, heroin, and fentanyl, along with cannabis and synthetic cannabinoids remain among the top concerns (along with alcohol and tobacco),” Leonard said.
A study by John J. Leddy, MD, clinical professor of orthopaedics, and Barry S. Willer, PhD, professor of psychiatry, published in JAMA Pediatrics shows that adolescents who followed a supervised, sub-symptom threshold aerobic exercise program after sustaining a sport-related concussion recovered more quickly than adolescents with concussion who did simple stretches. “We think exercise actually restores control to the autonomic nervous system, which is clearly affected by concussion,” Leddy said.
A new study by John J. Leddy, MD, clinical professor of orthopaedics and director of UB’s Concussion Management Clinic, and Barry S. Willer, PhD, professor of psychiatry, found that teens who suffer a sports-related concussion are likely to improve more quickly if they start aerobic exercise within a few days under the guidance of a health care specialist. “The data provide preliminary evidence that a primary benefit of early subthreshold exercise treatment is a reduced incidence of delayed recovery (greater than 30 days), which is potentially a very important result,” the authors write.
Steven L. Dubovsky, MD, professor and chair of psychiatry, comments on the November shooting at a Florida yoga studio that left two women dead and five others injured. He noted that while most mass murderers don’t have a history of domestic violence, it’s common for people who commit a violent crime to have a violent past. “Someone who’s violent in one area is more likely to be violent in another area,” he said.
BestLife cites a UB study showing depressed children with asthma had imbalanced activity in their autonomic nervous system. The story quotes Bruce D. Miller, MD, professor of psychiatry and pediatrics, an author of the study.
The cover story in Money magazine about the opioid crisis and the difficult decisions parents face when deciding whether to financially cut off their addicted children interviews Kenneth E. Leonard, PhD, professor of psychiatry and director of the UB Clinical and Research Institute on Addictions. “(Parents) are faced with this dilemma: Do I help them get out of this in the short term, or do I let them experience the natural consequences of their behaviors?” Leonard said. “You don’t want to do anything that will ruin their lives, but on the other hand, you want them to learn from experience. Nobody wants their child to suffer, short term or long term.”
An article about new funding to UB’s Clinical and Research Institute on Addictions (CRIA) to examine the possible role of alcohol use disorders in exacerbating the risk of problems with opioid use interviews Kenneth E. Leonard, PhD, professor of psychiatry and director of the CRIA. The research will help determine whether a percentage probability can be assigned for opioid misuse in the alcohol use disorder population, based on certain factors, he said.
Kenneth E. Leonard, PhD, director of UB’s Clinical and Research Institute on Addictions and research professor of psychiatry, was interviewed about a faith-based program in Tennessee to retrain workers for new jobs and new lives after prison and addiction. Leonard said spirituality can help those trying to overcome addiction, but you “can’t just pray these problems away.” “We’ve known since the late 1960s that employment is a powerful predictor of low patterns of alcohol use and better responses to treatment. Similarly, some data suggests that when those addicted to opiates are stably employed and in a relationship with someone who doesn’t use drugs, the outcomes are better,” he said.
Daniel Antonius, PhD, associate professor of psychiatry and director of forensic psychiatry, is interviewed about a new YouTube series that faces backlash over the use of the term “sociopath”. Antonius said diagnosing antisocial personality disorder is an involved process that can take 12 hours or more of intimate interviews and extensive questionnaires. “There’s a negative connotation in this interaction,” he said. “There are people out there with personality disorder diagnoses who are successful, and doing good things in the world. This kind of language adds to the stigmatization rather than talking about mental health in a productive manner.”
In a story about mental health care inside the Erie County Holding Center, Erie County Commissioner of Mental Health Michael Ranney discussed reforms undertaken at the Holding Center, noting “one of the very positive things we did was establish a relationship with the university.” The story states that the county contracts with the Department of Psychiatry, which provides services at the holding center and Erie County Correctional Facility. The story quotes Daniel Antonius, PhD, assistant professor of psychiatry and director of the Division of Forensic Psychiatry, who said, “We see inmates sometimes within a day and sometimes within one to two weeks, so if you compared to the community standard — it's actually pretty quick because in the community you often wait two to three months before you’re seeing a psychiatrist.”
A story on a dinner held by doctors and students from the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences to talk about health care with community members from Buffalo’s East Side interviews Linda F. Pessar, MD, director of the Center for Medical Humanities and professor emerita of psychiatry. Pessar said that with the population becoming increasingly diverse, it’s important that doctors start listening and adapting. “The entrepreneurial private practitioner practicing at the community in which he or she lives and grew up is a fading idol,” she said. "If we don’t become responsive to community members, we will not practice the medicine we need and hope to practice, and it seems to me that’s the bottom line.”