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Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Prescription Opioids In Addiction Recovery

Those who are actively working a program of recovery are aware of how easily relapse can crop up. After all, we do what we do each day in order to mitigate the risk of returning to drugs and alcohol. It’s no easy task, but we trudge forward, with resolve to do what we can to avoid it. Hopefully, at all costs. If you are working a program, you learned early on that your recovery must be protected. And that fortification against the snare and pitfalls of addiction comes via continued spiritual maintenance.

Individuals who have been going to meetings for some time, have seen other members fall off the path. The reasons this occurs are many, sometimes it can seem like a relapse came out of nowhere. But, upon closer investigation the roots of relapse begin to show themselves clearly. A failure to put one’s program above all else. Slacking on meetings and service work. Becoming complacent about the strength of your sobriety, just to name a few. However, there are a number of other ways relapse can rise to the surface from below. Reasons why one might put themselves at risk of sliding backwards.

Recovery requires both sound mind and body. Taking care of yourself physically is as important as spiritual wellness. When we don’t prioritize healthy living, we are at risk of suffering ailment and injury. Precipitating pain, pangs which require relief. And, in many cases, Tylenol will not have the desired effect. So, one seeks the assistance of a doctor. A person who may help one’s pain, but derail one’s recovery.


Doctors: A Blessing and Curse

Anyone whose journey of recovery began with detox and treatment understands the important role physicians play. Without medical supervision and access to certain drugs, one's early recovery would be not only painful — it could be deadly. The part doctors play in early recovery should not be minimized. Yet, later on down the road of recovery, physicians can prove to be a hindrance to one’s program, especially if an injury occurs.

Whether you are in the program or not, you know how willy-nilly prescription opioids have been, and continue to be, prescribed in the U.S. You know they are both addictive and potentially deadly to anyone prescribed them. But, people who are in pain need relief and opioids work quite well. Even when alternative methods of pain management are available (perhaps even more effective) doctors will resort to opioids.

In recovery, it’s no secret that taking any mind-altering substance, even those prescribed is a great risk. Even when they are taken as prescribed, such drugs can chip away at the foundation of your program. In turn, making it unstable and at risk of total collapse. Many a relapse has begun with taking a narcotic, as prescribed, in recovery. Which is why it is absolutely crucial that people in recovery explain to their treating physician what's at stake. One needs to express the importance of exhausting every option for pain relief before resorting to opioids.

Such an approach, should be considered the only approach. Remember, your recovery must always come first even at the expense of comfort. Being comfortable in recovery won’t matter much if you lose your recovery to achieve such relief. It is also worth noting that many forms of pain can be addressed better by avoiding opioids, such as nerve pain (neuropathy). Consider physical therapy and massage techniques.


Maintaining Recovery

It is important to remember that whatever decision you come to with your doctor, it is possible to keep your program intact after being prescribed an opioid. As long as you communicate with your sponsor and have a way to ensure that you do not take more than is required, longer than needed. One must double their efforts in recovery to keep one’s addiction from retaking control of your life. Taking a prescription narcotic merely opens the door, your program will prevent the disease from inviting itself back in.

If you are one of the many people who relapsed on prescription painkillers, it is possible to take back your life. Please contact Hope by The Sea to begin the process of recommitting yourself to the program.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Cannabis Questions, Answered?

Earlier this week we touched upon how legalizing cannabis affects United Nations drug control treaties. If you didn’t have a chance to read about it, you may find it interesting and worth your time. People smoking “pot” on their couch in an oceanside bungalow probably never considered how legalizing the drug might impact international drug control policy. Nevertheless, as the United States and a number of other western countries move forward with more relaxed stances on marijuana, it is important that we continue to inform ourselves about the effects legalization may have throughout the country.

Cannabis, whether it be for medical or recreational purposes, will likely continue being a hot button topic in the United States. Complicated by the fact that arguments on both sides can be convincing. Fortunately, we have over twenty years of cannabis reform to draw from in deducing the impact that medical marijuana and recreational legalization has had on various states. Considering that more than half of Americans are in favor of more relaxed marijuana policies, the need for facts has never been greater—arguably.

Science has long supported the idea that marijuana is a relatively benign drug. And most Americans agree, whether the drug is legal or illegal, users should not face jail time for possessing or using the substance. However, there are legitimate concerns regarding how marijuana policy will affect use rates among teenagers and young adults. Research has shown that the drug can have serious influence on the developing brains of young people. The longer one can refrain from using, the better, basically.


The Cannabis Question

The million-dollar question: "Has legalization had the negative impacts that opponents claimed it would have?" Specifically, has it led to increased drug abuse and crime? If you rely on current research, the answer is “yes” and “no.” Researchers from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Harvard University and Western Carolina University, have analyzed data from the most recent Monitoring the Future survey, Market Watch reports. A working paper was submitted to be distributed to the National Bureau of Economic Research. The findings indicated that legalization and medical marijuana laws have only a slight impact on:
  • Overall Cannabis Use
  • Alcohol Use
  • Use of Other Substances
  • Crime Rates
Marijuana advocates should not take these findings to mean that they were right all along. There are signs that more liberal cannabis laws have had negative effects that shouldn’t be discounted. In the year following Washington passing legalization, the state had twice the number of traffic deaths involving drivers under the influence of marijuana, according to the article. While more people still die from alcohol related accidents every year, the uptick shouldn’t be minimized. The researchers also found a correlation between liberalization and a rise in petty crimes. What’s more, in states with more liberal laws, the researchers found it easier to acquire other, more harmful narcotics, such as: amphetamines, barbiturates and psychedelics. But, at the end of the day, the authors concluded:

“Our results do suggest that, given current attitudes and enforcement toward marijuana, further liberalizations seem unlikely to have dramatic affects in any direction.”


Cannabis Use Disorder Treatment

The aforementioned research is important, and more light will be shined on this subject as time goes on. Whether you are in favor of more liberal cannabis laws or not, there is no evidence to support that users should be incarcerated because of it. Perhaps most important is that lawmakers and health experts do what they can to enlighten young people about the risks of use. Cannabis use disorder is a real condition, one that often requires addiction treatment to recover from. Remember, less risky doesn’t mean safe. Habitual marijuana users often experience withdrawal symptoms when trying to quit. There is also convincing evidence that cannabis use can lead to the development of other, perhaps more serious, mental health conditions.

If marijuana is negatively impacting your own life, please contact Hope by The Sea. We can assist you in breaking the cycle of addiction and give you the tools necessary for living a life in recovery.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

International Drug Control Policy's Future

While major Western countries have long been looked at as beacons of enlightenment, is no secret that such countries have taken draconian stances to drug policy. Time and time again we have written about the realities here at home, a democracy that houses more prisoners than any other major country with 2,220,300 adults being incarcerated in US federal, state prisons, and county jails in 2013, according to the US Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS). That is 698 inmates per 100,000 people.

It has also pointed out that a staggering number of those incarcerated are serving time for nonviolent drug offenses. In some cases, serving life sentences. It is nothing short of a dismal reality that for far too long addiction has been treated as a crime. Although it is a treatable mental health disorder, those in the grips of the disease are not given the opportunity to seek recovery. Being sent to jail or prison instead.

addictionWe would be remiss if we didn’t point that a number of changes have occurred in recent years to reverse some of our wrongs. Pardons and commutations have been granted to a number of nonviolent offenders, some efforts to repeal or amend mandatory minimum sentencing laws have been successful and several states have either decriminalized or legalized recreational use of marijuana. All of which being a sign of more drug policies evolving—for the better. However, when thinking about legalization, few Americans have considered the impact that it might have on United Nation international drug control treaties.


Legalizing Cannabis, A Treaty-Violation?

drug control policy
Western nations have historically had a similar approach when it comes to drug control policy and prohibition. Treaties have been signed by way of the United Nations, leading to most member countries prohibiting the non-medical use of amphetamines, cannabis, cocaine and heroin, Science Daily reports. As countries like Canada, Uruguay and the United States change their stance on marijuana, it is (in effect) a violation of such drug control treaties. Professor Wayne Hall has some thoughts on this subject which were published in the scientific journal Addiction.

Regarding decriminalization, Professor Hall calls for a “cautious approach to policy reform that would involve trialing and evaluating the effects of incrementally more liberal drug policies.” He outlines a number of considerations that could help nations implement treaty changes or different policy interpretations:
  • Cannabis: This is the strongest candidate for national policy experiments on different ways of regulating its sale and use. This is happening in the USA, Uruguay and Canada. Rigorous evaluations of these experiments will be useful for other countries considering legalizing cannabis for adult recreational use.

  • Party drugs, such as ecstasy, LSD, and novel psychoactive substances: The most important regulatory challenge for those who advocate more liberal policies is ensuring that drug manufacture and sale meet reasonable standards of consumer safety and consumers are well informed about the risks of using these drugs.

  • Opioids: The best way forward may be a mitigated form of prohibition. Mitigated prohibition differs from a 'war on drugs' by expanding treatment for opioid dependence, reducing some of its serious medical complications, and reducing the number of opioid users who are imprisoned.

  • Cocaine and amphetamines: There are no easy answers here. Proposed regulation via a modified prescription system seems unlikely to reduce harmful use. Prohibition may minimize use but it is not sufficient, because stimulants are very easy to produce illicitly. Stimulant policy needs better ways of reducing the demand for stimulants and more effective treatments for problem stimulant users.


Addiction Treatment: A Top Priority

It is important that We work with our foreign allies in ensuring that people affected by addiction get the treatment they need. It is the best method for reducing the harmful byproducts of drug use and abuse, such as dependence, overdose and premature death. The United States is not alone when it comes to high rates of addiction, and expanding access to treatment around the globe makes all of us healthier.

If you are struggling with addiction, please contact Hope by The Sea. The longer your condition is left untreated the greater the likelihood of you experiencing heartache and serious health consequences. Our team of highly trained addiction professionals can help you break the cycle of self-defeating behavior and show you how living a life in recovery is possible.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Keeping Recovery Intact Through Adversity

A major component of addiction recovery is routine. If you are working a program, you know this to be true. You wake up every day. Some of you meditate, others of you get down on your knees and ask your “higher power” for strength and guidance in the day to come. You remind yourself to live life on life’s terms, one day at a time. After breakfast, you may hit a meeting before going to work or attending class, or maybe it is the other way around for you. As the day ends, maybe you make a point of spending time with your sponsor or recovery peers. Perhaps over a cup of coffee. Later, some of you might journal or make a gratitude list. Or, you reflect on your day, asking yourself: 'Did I do everything I could for my recovery today. Could I do more tomorrow?’

Naturally, everyone’s day may shape up differently. But, by and large, all our days are relatively regimented. There is not much room for uncertainty or red herrings in recovery. Such occurrences can throw one’s recovery out of balance. Nevertheless, none of us runs the show, we cannot predict or plan for certain events that could arise. We are not omnipotent or all powerful, simply put: We are not God. However, that doesn't mean that we can’t do things to prepare ourselves for the eventuality of life’s curve balls.

When all is said, and done, life is finite. As are the things that make up one’s life. Relationships end, family member pass on. Jobs are found. Jobs are lost. Over the course of all of life’s eventualities, people in recovery MUST do what they can to mitigate the risk of relapse. Remain strong in the face of great adversity.


Recovery’s Back to The Wind

In the wake Hurricane Harvey, we shared with you ways people affected by the torrential flooding could find both strength and support. How to get traumatic events from derailing one’s addiction recovery. At Hope by The Sea, we pray that everyone working a program in Houston and beyond managed to not let their stress lead to self-defeating decisions. Choices that lead to relapse. If you managed to weather the storm and flooding, recovery intact, you have much to be proud of and your program is stronger because of it.

Now, just over a week later millions of Floridians are preparing for the worst. As one of the most powerful Hurricanes ever recorded is trudging at 16 mph towards the Florida peninsula, ABC News reports. Over a million people have been ordered to evacuate, failure to do so can result in tragedy. We have all seen the video and pictures of the damage done thus far in the Caribbean, standing one’s ground could prove fatal for people in the hurricanes target zone.

It goes without saying that many of you in the potentially affected areas who have been ordered to leave your home are in recovery. Finding yourself displaced, heading for safe havens in Florida and beyond. Safety is absolutely vital, after that your recovery must continue to be at the top of your priority list. Those of you who will be in unknown areas during Hurricane Irma should already be making plans for how you will keep your recovery intact. Which means having a list of meetings you can attend in any given area. You can find up to date lists of meetings at Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous.


Needing Recovery More Than Ever

In times of disaster your program will prove to be vital. While your routine is going to be disrupted regardless of what you have to say about it, you can still make moves to have a semblance of your normal daily movements, i.e. going to meetings, sharing and talking to newcomers. It is in the darkest of hours that the fellowship must shine the brightest.

All of us at Hope by The Sea have the people living in the affected areas in our thoughts and prayers. Please remember the skills you have learned and tools you have for when crisis arises in one’s recovery. This storm is likely to be catastrophic, using drugs and alcohol to cope will only make matters worse. We are here for you, if you need our assistance.

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