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Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Is Exercise More Effective Than Opioids?

People working programs of addiction recovery know the dangers of prescription medicine full well. Each of us is familiar with the American opioid addiction epidemic; most know that more than 100 Americans die from an overdose every day. Still, some situations may warrant the use of a painkiller. For men and women in recovery, turning to drugs to treat a medical ailment can be a slippery slope toward relapse.

It doesn't matter if you have experience with opioid misuse or not, or any prescription drug with the potential for abuse. One should avoid any substance that can elicit euphoria, especially if in recovery.

Unfortunately, aging Americans and people with debilitating injuries have physical ailments that cause chronic pain. Nobody should have to suffer from pain—chronic or otherwise needlessly. The general public may not think twice about taking prescription opioids they acquire legally from a pharmacy. However, men and women in recovery must carefully consider the possible ramifications of accepting pain medicine from a doctor.

Prescription drugs have led to many relapses among people in recovery. It's relatively common; a person goes to the doctor complaining of discomfort and leaves with a new script. At first, there may not be a problem; the patient in recovery takes their drugs as prescribed, and life continues.

It's worth noting that a significant number of people in recovery have been prescribed narcotics and managed to keep their program intact. If someone has a strong foundation supporting their recovery and remains accountable, then he or she can take prescription narcotics for a limited time as prescribed.

Nevertheless, there is always the risk that doing so will awaken something inside; once that happens, they have two choices: stop or let the disease take back control. Most people in long-term recovery would agree that accepting a prescription for pain is not wise. They would probably say the same regarding medications for anxiety or attention deficit disorders (i.e., Xanax or Adderall).

Managing Pain Without Prescription Opioids

There is a significant body of research suggesting that prescription opioids are not the most effective way to manage pain, especially chronic discomfort. Not only do opioids provide temporary relief, but they also lose efficacy over time. Tolerance develops, and one needs to take larger doses to find relief. There are other, safer methods for contending with pain-inducing ailments that do not carry the risk of addiction.

One of the techniques for addressing chronic pain may seem counterintuitive to you at first. Researchers suggest that exercise may be the answer for some people who live with persistent discomfort. Patti Neighmond of NPR sat down with Emma Dean, 44, who has osteoarthritis in both knees. Dean tells Neighmond that just climbing stairs was a grueling ordeal; she says, "it almost feels like a tearing of the ligaments in the knee, and that's what causes the pain."

Emma sought help at the Thurston Arthritis Research Center at the University of North Carolina, according to the interview. She was instructed to start taking regular walks as a means of reducing her pain.

Reticent at first, but she decided to give it a try; in the beginning, Emma felt stiff and tired. A few days later things changed for Dean, her joints felt looser, and she was in a better mood. Now, Emma takes five 40 minute walks a week, and her knees don't hurt anymore.

If you are skeptical about this story, then you're probably not alone. If you have chronic pain, then the thought of exercising to treat your pain may seem illogical. So, how does exercise combat pain? Neighmond points out that, "exercise builds muscle strength, reduces joint stiffness and inflammation." Beyond that, there is a neurochemical element to the pain-relieving effects of exercise.

Opioids In Our Brains

Benedict Kolber with Duquesne University in Pittsburgh tells Neighmond that the brain changes when we exercise. He says our brain produces opioids naturally to respond to pain.

"Exercise engages your, what we call, endogenous opioid system. So our bodies make opioids, and we use these opioids, or your body uses these opioids, to decrease pain." 

Still, Kolber says there may be limitations to the practice of exercising to treat pain. He says exercise reduces stress which makes people less sensitive to pain. Kolber conducted a study and found that more is better when it comes to physical activity. Participants in the research who only exercised three times a week did not experience the same pain sensitivity reductions as those who walked five or ten times.

Please take a moment to listen to the NPR story:

If you are having trouble watching, please click here.

Talk to your doctor if you are in recovery and struggle with chronic pain. Perhaps introducing a walking regimen to your lifestyle will help reduce your discomfort. It is a safer alternative to taking a prescription drug, and exercise may be better at killing pain than painkillers.

Southern California Addiction Treatment

At Hope By The Sea, we can help you, or a loved one with prescription opioid addiction. We offer detoxification and treatment for opioid use disorders. Our team provides clients with the tools to lead a life free from drugs and alcohol. Please contact us today to learn how the miracle of recovery can be yours too.

Monday, September 9, 2019

Suicide Prevention Awareness Month

With National Recovery Month still underway, we hope that you can also find time to get involved with another vital observance. September is also Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. The annual event is meant to get the word out that mental health conditions and suicidal thoughts are treatable. What’s more, those who seek support can go on to lead healthy lives in recovery.

suicide prevention awareness month
Suicide is not a subject that is easy to cover because it is so personal. Practically every American is related to or was acquainted with someone who took their own life. When that occurs, there are usually more questions than answers as to why a person would make the fateful decision. Suicide loss survivors are left in the dark following these types of tragedies.

The truth is that each case is different, and the road to suicide is windy. Knowing what was occurring in the mind of a person leading up to their death is impossible. Each person’s struggle and life experience are unique, but there are many similarities from one suicide to the next.

The majority of suicides involve either mental or behavioral health disorders; in some cases, both addiction and co-occurring mental illness are present. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) reports that suicide is a leading cause of death among people who misuse alcohol and drugs. The heightened risk of suicide owing to substance abuse is second only to depression, according to the Center for Suicide Prevention.

Naturally, people who suffer from mental illnesses like depression, as well as addiction, are at even more significant risk of contemplating and following through with suicide. People living with co-occurring disorders must seek help immediately.

Suicide Prevention Awareness Month

Men and women in recovery and beyond can help the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) during Suicide Prevention Awareness Month in several ways. Social media is an effective tool for disseminating valuable information to the public and those who have a mental illness. Below are some facts worth sharing:
  • 1 in 5 (46.6 million) adults in the United States experience a mental health condition in a given year.
  • Approximately 46.6 million adults in the United States face the reality of managing a mental illness every day.
  • Up to 90% of those who die by suicide have an underlying mental illness as revealed by a psychological autopsy. 46% of those who die by suicide have a diagnosed mental illness.
  • Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States. With effective care, suicidal thoughts are treatable, and suicide is preventable.
These facts educate the public about mental health and the need for being more compassionate towards people with a mental disease. Compassion combats stigma, which in turn encourages individuals to open up about their issues and seek treatment.

You can help promote awareness by sharing images and graphics on your website and social media accounts—using #SuicidePrevention or #StigmaFree. Sharing the facts about this topic helps start honest conversations about mental health conditions and suicide. NAMI points out that just one conversation can change a life.

Another way to get involved in by recounting your experience with a mental health disorder and suicidal ideations. NAMI invites people living with or recovering from mental illness to share what’s on their mind at You Are Not Alone and OK2Talk. NAMI writes:

“It’s important for people living with mental health conditions to know that they are not alone. Sharing a story about your personal experiences with mental health challenges can help in your own recovery as well as provide encouragement and support to others with similar experiences.” 

 The platforms allow for anonymous postings about:
  • What has helped?
  • What hasn’t?
  • What has been most discouraging about your condition?
  • What has given you hope?


California Dual Diagnosis Treatment

Please contact Hope By The Sea if you are dealing with addiction and co-occurring mental illness. Our clinicians are experts in dual diagnosis treatment, and they can help you begin the journey of long-term recovery. We are available to answer your questions at any time. Hope Starts Here!

Thursday, September 5, 2019

National Recovery Month: Your Voice Matters

September is an essential time of the year for people working in the field of addiction medicine. It is also vitally significant to men and women working programs of recovery because September is National Recovery Month. At this time, organizations and private citizens promote and support new evidence-based treatment and recovery practices. They also celebrate the improvements made by those who are managing mental and behavioral health conditions.

Long-term recovery is a monumental achievement; healing from mental illness in all its forms takes hard work and steadfast commitment. There is not a singular medication that can lift people from the bondage of addiction and mental illness. Those who hope to heal from such conditions must commit themselves to a program of recovery, and practice specific principles in all their affairs. It is a lifelong endeavor, and there will be obstacles to progress along the way.

Fortunately, men and women can make continued advancement in recovery by working together to keep their illnesses at bay. Support groups are instrumental in achieving one’s personal goal. There is a solution to any problem that may arise because recovery gives people the tools to manage cravings and cope with stressors that can preempt a relapse.

Today, millions of men and women work together 365 days a year to make progress in sobriety and beyond. If you are in recovery, then please acknowledge the gains you have made since putting down drugs and alcohol. National Recovery Month is just as much about celebrating personal recovery as it is about raising awareness that treatment exists, and recovery is possible.

Getting Involved With National Recovery Month

Those who have accrued more than a year of sobriety are probably familiar with the salient national observance taking place. Such people know that hundreds of events to raise awareness are held throughout the month to spread the message and share the successes of treatment and recovery.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) joins forces with more than 200 federal, state, and local government entities to help break the stigma of addiction and mental illness. Such organizations have planned and are hosting events to educate the public about mental health and how it is vital to overall health. Please click here to learn about events and activities in your area.

There are many ways people in recovery can help with National Recovery Month, from sharing personal stories to promoting the benefits of treatment. SAMHSA offers a toolkit to help anyone interested in taking part in Recovery Month. They have created PSAs and social media materials with the hope that people in recovery will share them online.

The National Recovery Month theme is “Join the Voices for Recovery: Together We Are Stronger.” Intending to share and build networks across the country to support recovery, SAMHSA asks people in recovery to be a voice for recovery. The organization welcomes men and women from all walks of life to share their personal story to educate the public about treatment, how it works, for whom, and why.

The experience of people in recovery can serve as an inspiration to the millions of people still living in despair. Sharing stories of recovery shows others that seeking help is not a sign of weakness but instead a symbol of strength. If you feel up to being a voice for recovery, then please click here to learn more.  

This observance celebrates the millions of Americans who are in recovery from mental and substance use disorders, reminding us that treatment is effective and that people can and do recover. It also serves to help reduce the stigma and misconceptions that cloud public understanding of mental and substance use disorders, potentially discouraging others from seeking help.


Southern California Addiction Treatment

During National Recovery Month, Hope By The Sea invites you to reach out for help if you or a loved one is struggling with addiction. We offer several programs that aid clients in getting on the road to long-term recovery. Our team of dedicated addiction professionals are equipped to treat those who are contending with co-occurring mental illness as well.

The miracle of recovery can be yours too...welcome to hope!

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

NAS Cases Find Daycare Refuge

The National Survey on Drug Use and Health reveals that 11.4 million people misused opioids in 2017. The number of people is likely significantly higher due to underreporting. Still, over ten million Americans abusing this addictive and deadly family of drugs is startling to consider.

At Hope By The Sea, we frequently cover the topic of opioid use disorder. There are so many angles to consider regarding the scourge of prescription opioid and heroin use in America.

The disease and all the damage addiction causes can be likened to bombs going off in communities around the country. Each day, more than 100 Americans die of an overdose. Families are torn apart, and loved ones are left with a sense of helplessness. Of the many who survive thanks to the drug naloxone, their risk of experiencing another overdose is high if they do not seek treatment immediately.

Americans in both rural and urban communities have seen the damage opioids can do first hand. Local hospitals are overburdened and overextended by having to divert resources toward addressing the public health crisis. First-responders, doctors, and addiction treatment professionals are working tirelessly to provide addicted men and women support.

Data indicates that overdose death rates have leveled off some, but the damage left in the wake of rampant overprescribing and abuse is astonishing. Sadly, it's not just the addicts whose lives are changed by drug use. In the last two decades, thousands of babies were born with a condition called neonatal abstinence syndrome or NAS. The disorder arises when an expectant mother uses opioids throughout pregnancy.

Growing Up With NAS

In 2014, 32,000 babies were born with NAS in the U.S., according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). When fetuses are exposed to drugs in the womb, they can face severe health problems at the time of birth and beyond. Such babies are subject to acute withdrawal symptoms once detached from the umbilicus, with some symptoms lasting for four to six months.

NIDA reports that every 15 minutes, one baby is born suffering from opioid withdrawal. NAS cases require close monitoring in the hospital for weeks post-birth. During that time, they may experience seizures, tremors, fever, and dehydration. The list goes on, but each case is different, and doctors are still trying to figure out the long-term effects of the condition.

The problems do not cease once discharged from the hospital, as many parents and grandparents are figuring out. Childcare centers are finding it too challenging to meet the needs of those with NAS. As a result, babies and toddlers are being kicked out of daycares across the country, CNN reports. The alarming trend has led to the creation of a center just for NAS cases.

Huntington, West Virginia, is a city that has been devastated by the epidemic. One out of five babies is born to a mother who used opioids while pregnant at Cabell Huntington Hospital, the city's largest hospital. The demand for childcare centers that can meet the unique needs of NAS children is high.

Perhaps the first of its kind in the country, one daycare in Huntington serves only babies and toddlers with NAS, according to the article. When it opened in June, hospital employees visited the center to provide helpful tips to the staff. They shared that NAS babies need to avoid bright lights and colors on the walls. The same is true for overstimulation from loud singing or toys. Exposure to such things can send a child into an inconsolable frenzy.

"These children just have different needs than other children," said Suzi Brodof, executive director of the center. 

Employees at the center hope to prepare the children for life down the road. Researchers at Vanderbilt University Medical Center found that NAS babies are more likely to struggle with motor and cognitive impairments and ADHD as they age. The researchers state that:

"The damage of prenatal opiate exposure is debilitating and long lasting."

Southern California Opioid Use Disorder Treatment

Please reach out to Hope By The Sea if you are struggling with opioid addiction that involves heroin or prescription painkillers. We can help you safely detox and set you on a path toward lasting recovery. We rely on evidence-based therapies to bring about long-term progress.

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