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Saturday, March 17, 2018

Opioid Use Among Millennials

Do you think that your young, adult son or daughter is misusing opioids, prescription or illicit? Have you tried talking to them about their behavior and the risks that come with using this class of drugs? We understand that having such conversations is incredibly uncomfortable and having talks about drug use don’t always end the way you would like. Part of the problem stems from young adults being just that, young. People in their twenties have no problem thinking that they have their life under control; any assertion to the contrary is likely to be met with adamant denials, justifications, and excuses.

You know that you need to have a meaningful discussion that comes from a place of love about your adult child’s condition, and the sooner you have it, the better. All drugs and alcohol can cut a person’s life short; opioids can bring about terrible outcomes sooner. Just doing a little bit too much or being exposed to synthetic opiates like fentanyl, unknowingly, can bring about an overdose. The vast majority of Americans have seen the reports of opioid overdose in America; sadly, many parents have had to bury their children because of untreated addiction.

If you believe that your child will not respond well to your pleas for them to get help, we strongly advise seeking the assistance of an interventionist. People working in the field of intervention understand how to talk to those in the grips of addiction in a way that brings about a successful outcome. Given the fact that such people are not friends or family, they can mediate the intervention without emotions getting in the way. They can impress upon your loved one the realities of addiction and what will happen if treatment is eschewed. So, again, if you believe that your child has an opioid use disorder, we advise seeking professional assistance to better ensure your son or daughter is receptive to accepting help.


Millennial Opioid Use On The Rise

Most parents can’t imagine that their son or daughter is playing with fire. It is not hard to ignore odd behaviors and chalk them up to anything other than abusing drugs. Unfortunately, the deadly nature of all things opioid means that no one can afford to disregard the warning signs, isolative tendencies, nodding off in the middle of the day, and pinpoint pupils to name a few.

Opioid abuse is exceedingly prevalent among young people today, and so is overdose. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that drug overdoses are sharply rising for young adults between the ages of 25 and 34, according to U.S. News & World Report. Since 2014, there has been a nearly 50 percent increase from the rate of overdose fatalities in that age group. Many young people are succumbing to fentanyl, a drug that is 100 times more potent than morphine and can be 50 percent stronger than heroin. Most people who die from fentanyl exposure didn’t know they are using fentanyl. Illicit opioid use is now even more of a game of Russian roulette.

With all that in mind, anyone can see the importance of encouraging young adults to accept help. Treatment works, long-term recovery is possible for anyone willing to make changes in their life.

Opioid Addiction Treatment

Please contact Hope by the Sea to discuss your adult child’s options. We offer several types of programs, many of which are uniquely suited to the needs of young adults struggling with addiction. You may decide that an interventionist is necessary, which is why we work closely with some of the best professionals in the field.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Screening for Problem Gambling

Doctors have many jobs, all of which are in service to the health of the patient. Whatever one’s sickness may be, there is a good chance your physician has a remedy. However, many disorders are not visible to the naked eye, or they are hidden from the untrained observer. Mental health conditions are on the list of problems people experience that do the most damage under the surface. It’s critical that your primary care physician can identify issues that you might be unaware exists in the first place.

At Hope by the Sea, we know that some mental health disorders do not involve the use of drugs and alcohol. Even though conditions like eating disorders manifest in ways dissimilar to use disorders they carry the same deadly risks. Another mental illness that can be costly, both literally and figuratively, to patients is the problem of compulsive gambling. Given that doctors do not have access to patient financial records, it’s imperative that they ask questions to screen for the disorder.

Problem gambling affects millions of Americans. The condition usually requires treatment if recovery is to be achieved. The good news is that the same techniques that help people with substance use disorder can also help compulsive gamblers.


Problem Gambling Awareness Month

problem gambling
Most people who visit casinos or toy around with online casinos do not develop a problem with the behavior. They take part in card games or use slot machines knowing full well that the likelihood of winning is slim. The money such people wager is chalked up as a loss, but it can still be a good time either way. On the other hand, some people go to casinos or buy scratch tickets daily believing that their day will eventually come. They are strung along by the fact that they occasionally win a little something, disregarding the vast sums they waste in service to their dreams of fortune.

It is not uncommon for individuals to run up severe amounts of debt gambling, some will even mortgage their house. The extreme gamblers often go to great lengths to hide their behavior from family and friends. When loved ones finally discover that a problem exists, the financial toll is monumental. With that in mind, the sooner problem gambling is identified, the better for everyone concerned, and a doctor might be able to help hasten discovery.

March is Problem Gambling Awareness Month (PGAM) and this year’s theme is “Have the Conversation.” The National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG) would like to encourage healthcare providers to screen clients for the disorder. With the help of Cambridge Health Alliance Division on Addiction, NCPG has developed and supplied the Gambling Disorder Screening Toolkit.

Now in its 14th year, PGAM is meant to raise public awareness about problem gambling and the availability of prevention, treatment, and recovery services.


Problem Gambling Treatment

If you or a loved one is struggling with compulsive gambling disorder, please contact Hope by the Sea. We offer several unique programs that can assist you in learning how to live a productive life in recovery.

Friday, March 9, 2018

Addiction Recovery Impacted by Smartphones

In the 21st Century, we have no choice but to confront the ever-growing role that smartphones play in our lives. Most of us start our day by looking at the phone, in many cases before we brush our pearly whites. If you think about it, it’s hard not to look at your android or iPhone first thing; after all your home or lock screen has a plastering of notifications, i.e., texts, emails, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and “the news.” These are machines that are designed to grab your attention, and sometimes that's not so bad; however, most of the notification alerts we receive pale in importance to things happening in our sphere of existence.

Smartphones are not inherently dangerous for you. In many situations, iPhones are exceptionally beneficial to your life. Aided by tech, we are able to organize our days and weeks; they help us keep track of our responsibilities and make it easier to stay accountable. Anyone working a program of addiction recovery can agree that responsibility and accountability are critical components. If you are in recovery, then you know that neglecting your obligations and answering only to yourself isn’t beneficial to any program. With that in mind, your phone can serve as a useful tool to progress, if you say you are going to be somewhere your phone helps you not forget. Which is good, right?

There is a flipside to smartphones in recovery, sure they help you stay on task, and there are apps that can aid recovery, but they also serve as a distraction. Your cell phone is at least equal parts tool and escape; when it isn’t guiding you to a new meeting, it serves as an excuse not to engage your peers. The above reality isn't a problem that only affects people in recovery; your average American spends an inordinate amount of time staring at the black mirror; in some cases, people interact more with their phone than with their peers. Who among us has not gone to dinner and seen whole families with eyes affixed to their devices?

We cannot say what is good or bad for other people, if staying glued to your phone is good for someone that is their prerogative. Even though there is a growing body of evidence showing the habit-forming potential of specific technology, it is up to individuals to decide if the impact their device has on their life is unhealthy. In respect to recovery, smartphone dependence is a topic worth exploring; consider how many people you’ve seen at meetings staring at their phone as opposed to sharing. Regarding phone use at meetings, again it is their life, their program, their recovery. It isn't up to anyone else to inventory such behaviors. On the other hand, if you acknowledge that it is up to people with time to set examples for newcomers, then we must face the impact that devices can have on people—particularly young people.


Smartphone Addiction Safeguards

addictionMost of you know that Silicon Valley in Palo Alto, California, is the cradle of internet technology. Apple and Google, the two leading smartphone manufacturers in the U.S., have headquarters in the Bay Area. The two companies pluck many of the young people working for them from Stanford University's computer science department. While most of those students are concerned more with landing an attractive, high paying job upon graduation, there is a group of seniors who are urging Apple to provide their customers smartphone addiction safeguards, Business Insider reports. While options for dumbing down one’s smartphone are probably right for everyone, if Apple acts upon the student's wishes it could also help people in addiction recovery.

"Especially in social situations we find that like when you're around the dinner table or when you're just chilling with your friends," said Sanjay Kannan, of Stanford Students Against Addictive Devices. "People are just always perpetually on their phones and they just won't participate in the social situation." 

The young adults who comprise the organization do not appear to be Luddites, just observant. Kannan, along with Evan Sabri Eyuboglu, Divyahans Gupta, and Cameron Ramos, asks companies like Apple to create a button like “airplane mode” that would limit how often your phone begs for your attention.

“Our idea with essential mode was to have Apple give their users the option to use their phone in simpler ways,” said Eyuboglu. “The idea is that just like alongside airplane mode and low-power mode, you have an essential mode. So with a flick of a switch on the phone, you’d be able to shut down a lot of those distracting bumps on the phone and bring it down just to the essentials, like calls, texts, photos, and say, maps.”


What You Can Do Now

After reading this post, you might have come to realize that your smartphone could be negatively impacting your program. Maybe you stare at your phone when you are in the presence of other people, some of whom are in the program with you. If your phone is continuously dinging and pinging, distracting you from people who are paramount to your recovery, then leaving your phone in the car, shutting it off, or turning off push notifications will diminish the invasive nature of your device. Making small changes can help you foster a better relationship with your peers and your “higher power.”

If  you or a loved one struggle with addiction, please contact Hope by the Sea. We offer several unique programs that can assist you in learning how to live a productive life in recovery.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Functioning Heroin Addicts In America

Heroin is on many people's mind today, literally and metaphorically. Estimates indicate that over 2 million Americans are hooked on prescription pain medications, an over half a million are “chasing the dragon”—a euphemism for smoking heroin. Of course, many heroin addicts have segued to intravenous use, an even deadlier iteration of opioid use disorder. Addiction of any kind is pernicious, holding immense power over the individuals it affects. However, being dependent on opioids carries an ever more significant risk of premature death.

You know from first-hand experience, or from the news, the horrific nature of opioid addiction. Perhaps you’ve picked up on the fact that Americans have an extraordinary relationship with this family of drugs. Research tells us that the United States uses the market share of all the prescription opioid manufactured on the planet, despite the fact that we account for about five percent of the global population. Seeing the figure, you might be tempted to think that WE are in more pain than the rest of the world, in spite of being a country defined by affluence. Try as you might, making sense of this epidemic is a difficult undertaking, but try we must, if we are ever to get to the other side.

Addiction has always been a significant concern, and it will be in America evermore. Let’s face it; opiate narcotics are only one facet of the American use disorder story; we have a long history with other substances and alcohol is responsible for far more losses each year than opioids. One of the reasons opioids are under the spotlight is because in a short period such materials have taught us a lot about the nature of the mental illness. Opioid use disorder challenges centuries-old beliefs about mental health disorders in this country, particularly regarding who these types of conditions affect.


From Skid Row to Beverly Hills

Working in the field of addiction medicine teaches you a lot of things about misconceptions and stereotypes. Society’s picture of alcohol and drug use are rarely accurate, leading most Americans to form ideas about such conditions that hardly resemble the truth. Many a narrative would have people think that the alcoholic is the sot panhandling in the gutter, or the opioid addict is wasting away in tenement housing itching for their next fix. Ideas like those allow the general public to delude themselves into thinking that they are safe from addiction because they come from a good family, are educated, and have a good job. Such stories give parents who do everything for their children peace of mind.

While it’s true, many addicts and alcoholics come from hard backgrounds and with experiences that could make addiction seem like a foregone conclusion; the opioid addiction epidemic shows society that even when life goes perfectly mental illness can come calling. In a sense, there are two stories of addiction in this country today, the people everyone expects to have problems, and the one about who no one could see it coming, i.e., Philip Seymour Hoffman, Michael Jackson, Prince. It's not just celebrities either, children raised in wealthy homes, young adults at Ivy League schools, and highly successful individuals you’ve never heard of battle mental health problems.

When you consider that even when affording a person every opportunity to be free from heartache, they are not immune; with that in mind, it is also a testament to why we should never judge a book by its cover. Just because it seems unthinkable that a person who has it all could struggle with drugs, even a drug like heroin and its many negative connotations, doesn’t mean it can’t happen. In fact, many people who seemingly have the world at their fingertips are actively fighting for their lives against heroin addiction.


The Silent Side of Addiction

All of you have likely heard the expression “functioning alcoholic” before, you might even know one or two people who drink insatiably and yet somehow manage to hold down a high paying job. Such people who could benefit from help but have yet to find a reason or the courage to stem the tide of mental illness. However, it’s probably less likely that you've ever met a “functioning heroin addict,” and there are good reasons for that being the case.

Heroin, unlike alcohol, is illegal. It isn’t a drug you come across at even the most free-spirited of get-togethers. Even before the epidemic, the world had made up its mind about the drug and the kind of people who use it, i.e., dope fiends, junkies, et al. Using such a drug isn’t something people advertise; having a whiskey at a business luncheon, sure—chasing the dragon, surely not. Even today, with all the famous people ODing on opioids, the media focuses mainly on poor and rural Americans battling opioid use disorder. News coverage of the epidemic tends to avoid affluent heroin use that exists in America, which wasn't lost on CNN Senior Writer, Jessica Ravitz. She recently interviewed heroin addicts that are incredibly competent at hiding their condition, in a piece titled, “Inside the Secret Lives of Functioning Heroin Addicts.”

Please take some time soon to read the article at length. You will not be sorry. If you are in recovery, there is a chance that you will hear echoes of your story in the piece. Ravitz’s work is essential, as it's an accurate portrayal of the dichotomy of addiction in American. Mental illness cares little of where you came from or how much money you have; a rich addict is no better off than impoverished users. Functioning opioid addicts face the same life-threatening risks as people living on the streets. One thing's for sure, a disease thrives in silence and treatment is a must.

If you are battling opioid use disorder, functioning or not, please know that the longer it persists, the more significant the consequences. Please talk with your friends and family about what is going on when nobody is around. It can save your life. If you believe you are ready to begin a journey of recovery, please contact Hope by the Sea today.

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