Isabel Rangel Baron: Are Life Stressors a Factor in the Opioid Epidemic?

The problem with opioid use in the U.S. has finally reached epic proportions, and many don’t understand why. We live in a new era full of possibilities and a variety of different treatment methods. Yet, more people are becoming addicted to things like heroin and prescription narcotics than ever before.

Getting to the root of the problem would provide us with more tactics to help those suffering from addiction and allow us to see the problem from the social ground floor. We live in a world with a heightened level of competition and measurable success around every corner.

Our personal standards have changed, and the pressure that we put on ourselves and others to succeed is unreal. All it takes is a trip down memory lane on social media to completely destroy a person’s sense of self-worth and accomplishment.

You may have had expectations for yourself, or others may have had expectations for you that you simply didn’t live up to. This can contribute to depression and anxiety which is a huge factor when it comes to addiction.


Opioid use is on the rise

In the last year, more than 64,000 people died from drug overdoses. A person is now more likely to die from an overdose than they are from a car accident or a mishap with a gun. Many people attribute this to the lax prescribing practices surrounding opioid medications.

In part, this is absolutely true. Doctors and pharmacists were entirely aware of the deadly impact that prescription opioids can have on Americans. They underestimated the addictive nature of the drugs and prescribed them in excess.

Some people took narcotics for years at a time in an effort to manage chronic pain or for acute injuries that turned into a full-blown addiction. Becoming addicted to prescription drugs doesn’t take long for a person who’s already predisposed to the disease.

Even after a short prescription intended for acute use, a person may be hopelessly dependent on the drugs. This chemical dependence can lead to withdrawals when they run out of their medication, leading them to seek out illicit drugs.

Some patients end up doctor-shopping or inventing pain in order to convince medical professionals of their need for prescription medications. Fortunately, the U.S. has come up with a narcotic database that allows doctors to be apprised of any and all addictive prescriptions a person is taking.

While this helps to put a stop to the overprescribing of these drugs, it hasn’t done much to derail the existing addiction. When some patients are unable to get their medications directly from their doctor, they may try to convince others to sell their existing prescriptions or turn to things like heroin to compensate.

This is only one part of the problem; the availability of things like heroin and fentanyl on the street has created an entire underground culture of people who depend on the sale of drugs for their income, and to treat addiction in a way that’s both casual and unnerving. I believe that what many people fail to understand is the correlation between our personal expectations and our rising dependence on drugs and alcohol to cope.


The competitive nature of the U.S.

Americans don’t move at the casual pace that they once did. The introduction of technology and real-time communication has pushed people to take on more than ever. We now expect our children to go into competitive educational programs at extremely young ages, and if they fail to keep up they face being ostracized by peers and adults.

We’ve also seen a reduction in the middle class, and the median income. You’re either expected to be a complete success, or you’re considered to be living below the poverty line. It’s easier to compare yourself to a group of your peers than it’s ever been. Social media, web pages, and the constant need to display our accomplishments have put new pressure on people.

If you are unable to match or exceed the accomplishments of others, then you may find yourself dealing with severe anxiety and depression. Everyone is living at a breakneck pace, and this takes its toll on a person’s psyche.

More people experience mental illness and diseases relating to fatigue and immunity disorders than ever before. Part of this has to do with the amount of stress that we place on ourselves, and the way that we push ourselves toward success.

Being unable to achieve what you really wanted to do can leave you grasping for coping skills that you may not have. We spend so much time with tunnel vision and a focus on success that many people don’t understand how to cope with failure.

People expect you to look a certain way, dress a certain way, behave a certain way, and fit into a certain rung of society. Being unable to do this can force you to belong to a demographic that you don’t know how to navigate.

There’s also a serious issue with poverty in many areas of the US. Some people simply don’t know how to live any other way and end up selling drugs because it’s what their parents and grandparents did. That may sound unbelievable, but some communities have generations of dealers and addicts that they just can’t seem to shake.

Whether it’s due to a preconceived notion or simply the subculture of the area, drugs are definitely worse in some places suffering from serious poverty and a lack of gainful employment. Many people simply don’t know how to prevent opioid addiction, and it turns into a vicious cycle.


Why people turn to drugs

While many people develop an addiction as a result of a previous prescription, others do it to cope with stress or other problems. They feel so worked up over the events of the day that they need a more concrete way to relax.

This doesn’t always result in healthy behaviors. Many consider drinking to be an acceptable way to deal with a bad day, but others take this a step further. With the availability of opioids and their immediate euphoric effect, they seem like the perfect solution for somebody who feels overwhelmed and can’t seem to climb out of their negative feelings.

Coping with mental illness and trying to stay upright in spite of the weight of the world takes serious dedication and an understanding of different types of coping mechanisms. Some people turn to healthy practices like exercise or meditation, but opioids provide an instant gratification that many people crave.

Some people start out using them as a way to relax and end up physically and psychologically addicted. Once this happens, the focus of their life shifts and they become obsessed with the drugs.

For some, drug use might be the only way to protect themselves from painful memories or past trauma. There’s also a certain stigma that follows people who become addicted to opioids. Many people consider them weak or a failure, and this adds to the overall stress factor.

It’s difficult to seek out help when you feel that you’ll be judged for it.


Living life at your own pace

If you’re struggling with addiction or you’re struggling with a huge amount of stress, just remember that you need to live life at your own pace. No one’s expectations matter but your own, and you need to put your mental and physical health before the need to succeed.

Take time and de-stress. Value yourself and develop coping mechanisms for every stage of your life. This is the best way to succeed for yourself, which is much more important than the perception of public success.

Recommended by Isabel Rangel Baron.
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Isabel Rangel Barón:

I will be contacting everyone who has contacted me to support me.  Going to find the time to do that.  Never felt so alone and tired with the stresses of being a doctor in top of that.  I just want to wake up one day not in dread of going to work. Nearly gave up the other day.

I might not be a marathon runner but this is my long trial.  Medical training takes more than it gives

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Isabel Rangel Barón: How much does it cost to study in Denmark?

Denmark is becoming a very attractive study destination for international students. As statistics show, Danish universities welcomed an increased number between 2015 and 2016, but the growth continued further on. In 2017, regarding the official statistics, 10,986 overseas students were seeking a degree in the country.

The quality of higher education along with relatively small tuition fees and many scholarships available add to the attractiveness of Denmark as a study destination. Danish universities offer more than 700 degree programs totally in English. Furthermore, the country has a lot of beautiful sights starting from its capital city to wonderful sceneries of its islands.

Tuition fees

Currently, the Danish universities charge no tuition fees for their EU/EEA and Switzerland students. Also, if you’re studying in Denmark as part of an exchange program you carry no tuition. Additionally, you don’t need to pay for tuition fees in the following circumstances:

  • You have a permanent residence permit
  • You have a temporary residence permit which can be upgraded to a permanent one
  • If your parent holds a non-EU/EEA residence permit because of the employment

All other categories of foreign students in Denmark are charged tuition fees which range between 6,000 to 16,000 euros.  Also, they pay a fee for their application.

Scholarship and Grants

Another reason why Denmark is such an attractive study destination is that it has many scholarships on offer. The country has established many partnerships with foreign organizations for the purpose of mutual exchange in higher education. Below are some of them


The Nordplus is a mobility program for international students studying in one of the Baltic countries. In other words, a student in any of these countries can seek freely, his degree in another Baltic country.


The Erasmus is the EU mobility program, part of which is Denmark too. Under this program, the EU/EEA/Switzerland students can study abroad in Denmark for a period of time between 2 months up to 12 months.

Erasmus Mundus/Joint Master Degree

This scholarship scheme is open to EU/EA/Switzerland and non-EU/EEA/Switzerland students willing to pursue a Master’s degree in Denmark. The Master’s program can be offered by the Danish university and another European university jointly.

Fulbright Commission

This scholarship program delivers financial support for US postgraduate scholars wanting to study in Denmark. The Fulbright scholarship extends for an academic year of study or research and it covers all tuition fees at a value between $8,000 and $21,000.

The Danish Government Scholarships under the Cultural Agreements

Besides the aforementioned scholarship programs, there are a number of scholarships directly funded by the Danish government. The Danish Government Scholarships under the Cultural Agreements offers scholarships for exchange students who want to pursue a program in Danish language or in any study field related to Denmark like architecture, design, environmental studies etc. These sorts of scholarships are offered for long-term studies and short-term for summer language courses. Long-term scholarships are offered to students of Brazil, China, Egypt, Japan, Russia and South Korea, whereas short-term scholarships are offered to students of 35 EU countries, in addition to the long-term eligible countries. The annual deadline to apply for this kind of scholarships is May 1st.

Danish Government Scholarships

Universities in Denmark receive a limited number of scholarships for international students. Being so, they’re competitive bursaries. In order to be eligible for these scholarships a student generally must

  • Be a citizen of a country rather than EU/EEA/Switzerland
  • Enrolled in a full-degree program
  • Have a temporary residence permit in Denmark

Since there’s a small number of direct government-funded scholarships for international students in Denmark we suggest you contact your university by email or if possible in person to see if they award these scholarships.

Student loans in Denmark

In addition to many scholarships available to students in Denmark, theirs is also a student loan scheme. Unfortunately, only home students and EU/EEA/Switzerland are eligible to apply for these grants. But there are specific circumstances at which the Denmark institutions can make an exemption. For example, if one has been living and working for a long time in Denmark then he may be able to pursue a student loan. Or the standard criteria can be taken down if the applicant is a refugee.

Living cost in Denmark

Besides the tuition fees, international students need to take care of many living expenses that studying abroad carries. If you’re a foreign student soon to land a Danish university a general picture of what it may cost to live in Denmark can help you manage your staying there.

In contrast to tuition fees, the living expenses in Denmark are actually higher compared to most places in Europe. To easily tackle this issue you need to take into consideration many factors that count on the price tag of living in Denmark. For example, the city or the location within the city may play an important role in the total cost of living expenses. As you may expect, living in the Copenhagen, the capital of Denmark, life is much more expensive than in other cities.

Or it may depend on the type of transportation you choose. Denmark has a highly developed system of biking infrastructure so by taking a bike you can save a lot of money you would be spending on travel expenses. Besides money, it will save you more time and surely is healthy and fun. But if for whatever reason sometimes you can’t ride a bike, you can seek a proper travel ticket for the public transport. For example, you can get a Reisekort which is a type of travelling card. The Reisekort charges you with a payment only when you board a public transportation. You can load whatever money you want on it and use them when you travel.

Another way you can save a lot of money for yourself is by cooking in your own. Restaurants in Denmark are quite expensive. For example, a meal for a single person in an inexpensive restaurant will cost you on average 110 Kr (14.7 euros), while for two persons in a mid-restaurant it will cost on average 500 Kr (67 euros).

A good resource to trace these expenses is the Numbeo site.

Below are prices of some of the most elementary expenses you need to take care of

Water (1.5 liter) – 8.21 Kr (1.10 Euro)

Milk (1 liter) – 7.22 Kr (0.97 Euro)

Eggs (12) – 22.55 Kr (3.02 Euro)

Rice (1 kg) – 13.44 Kr (1.80 Euro)

Tomato (1 kg) – 20.08 Kr (2.70 Euro)

Potato (1 kg) – 10.81 Kr (1.45 Euro)

Onion (1 kg) – 9.13 Kr (1.23 Euro)

Banana (1 kg) – 16.04 Kr (2.15 Euro)

One-way ticket (Local Transport) – 24 Kr (3.22 Euro)

Taxi (Start) – 40 Kr (5.37 Euro)

Taxi (1 Km) – 15.55 Kr (2.09 Euro)

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Isabel Rangel Barón: 10% more international students in 2017/18 than in 2016/17 in Bulgaria

The number of international students increased by 10% this year when compared with the past academic year, the statistics show.

Bulgaria can easily be added to the long list of countries that are experiencing a growth in foreign students. As the official statistics show Bulgarian universities are welcoming an increased number of international students.

The official statistics body in Bulgaria has lately revealed the figures of international students. In the ongoing academic year, its universities are dealing with 10% more international students than a year ago.

According to the National Statistics Institute in Bulgaria, in the 217/18 academic year, 14,212 foreign students are attending university or a specialized high school. Compared to 12,916 international students in 2016/17 this means an increase of 10%.

The largest group of international students in Bulgaria was Greek students. They amounted to almost a quarter of foreigner students. The UK students were the second largest group sharing 14.1% of international students, followed by Turkish (10.5%), Germany (8.6%) and Ukraine (5.4%).

The NSI told that PhD students counted for 8.1% (529) of the total number of foreigners. Most of them came from Greece (26.8%), Turkey (14%) and Kazakhstan (8.9%).

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