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Thursday, October 18, 2018

Angels of Addiction: Remembering Overdose Victims

Overdose continues to be a topic of utmost concern for lawmakers in America. Last year, more than 70,000 Americans fell victim to overdose death; if the trend holds, a higher number will succumb this year when the final count is totaled. With each year that passes, prescription opioids, heroin, and fentanyl take a more significant amount of lives than the previous year.

We face a national crisis, and we make sense of the dire circumstances by looking at statistics. However, numbers have a way of taking the human element out of the epidemic; it’s easier to compare figures than it is to see the faces of the men, women, and teenagers represented in the accounting.

When looking closely at the devastating cost of life associated with addiction, it is vital that we never lose sight of our humanity. Rather than looking at the legality of illicit drug use, we need to set stigma aside and remember that every person with a use disorder or co-occurring mental illness is somebody's son or daughter, mother or father, husband or wife.

Angels of Addiction

Source: Angels of Addiction
When Anne Marie Zanfagna lost her daughter to an overdose, she went from painting landscapes to doing portraits. The artistic portrayals are not of famous people or art students looking for extra cash through modeling; they are victims of the American addiction epidemic.

Zanfagna decided to paint her daughter's portrait following the overdose in 2014 as a means of coping, according to The Concord Monitor. Now, four years later she is helping other families do the same; she now focuses solely on memorializing overdose death victims on canvas. This week, nearly 130 of the 150 portraits completed thus far are on display in Russell Senate Office Building in Washington, D.C.

“It is a work of love,” Zanfagna said. “I know how people feel when they receive these, and that warms my heart. If I can do something to help someone else, I’ll do it. It’s my way of giving back.” 

Families looking to have their loved ones portrayed by Zanfagna send her a photo, according to the article. She then spends more than 12 hours on each painting; Anne Marie is aided by a computer program that helps her choose the right colors. There is no financial charge to the families; Zanfagna and her husband created the nonprofit Angels of Addiction to accept donations to pay for materials.

“Each of these portraits tells a story, and the Angels of Addictions exhibit reminds us who we are fighting for as Congress takes steps to address this crisis,” said U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen. “I appreciate that members on both sides of the aisle are taking the time to come see these portraits and hear about the Zanfagna's efforts.”

Substance Use Disorder Treatment

Alcohol and substance use disorder treatment is one of the most effective ways to deter overdose death, and it gives people a chance to lead productive lives in recovery. Please contact Hope By The Sea to learn more about our programs and to learn how the miracle of recovery can be a reality for you or a loved one.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Help Cure the Stigma of Mental Illness

Curing the stigma of addiction is no simple task, made evident by the fact that millions of Americans still harbor fear about seeking treatment. Even though it is the 21st Century and scientists have a better understanding of mental illness than ever before, millions of people in the U.S. maintain inaccurate notions about diseases of the mind. Misconceptions and ignorance beget shame, guilt, and stigma; when individuals are made to feel inferior or at fault for an illness they are less likely to seek assistance.

The proof of the above reality can be seen in the numbers; facts, in fact, do not lie! The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration or SAMHSA reports that only 41% of adults living with a mental health condition in the United States received mental health services in the past year. Far less than half of the 43.8 million (1 in 5 adults) Americans dealing with symptoms of mental illness underwent professional help.

Even though there exists ample evidence of the benefits of seeking treatment and learning how to lead a life in recovery, stigma is an oppressive wall standing in the way of healing. So, during Mental Illness Awareness Week (MIAW), the National Alliance on Mental Illness or NAMI is asking the country to play a role in changing people’s opinions on mental health starting with getting tested for stigma.


Help Cure Stigma During MIAW

Men and women are at significant risk when they feel like they need to keep their mental illness under wraps for fear of social penalties. Such persons hide their symptoms from their friends and families at a terrible cost. Left without tools to manage one’s symptoms of depression, post-traumatic stress, and bipolar disorder – for example – individuals often turn to drugs and alcohol to cope with their condition. Self-medication, as it is often described, hardly offers the kind of relief one desires; in fact, using drugs and alcohol to deal only serves to exacerbate a person’s symptoms. It isn’t a coincidence that among the 20.2 million adults in the U.S. who experienced a substance use disorder, 50.5 percent or 10.2 million adults had a co-occurring mental illness.

Those living with a dual diagnosis are at an even higher risk of experiencing harm, both intended and accidental (i.e., overdose). It is vital that anyone experiencing the symptoms of mental illness feel that they can share what they are going through with others. When people are made to feel like issues are salient and that others care about their well-being, the result is more men and women making the courageous decisions to reach out for help. With that in mind, it is vital that the country take mental health seriously. It is critical that everyone look past the noise of persistent stereotypes that only serve to shame the afflicted. NAMI writes:  

There’s a virus spreading across America. It harms the 1 in 5 Americans affected by mental health conditions. It shames them into silence. It prevents them from seeking help. And in some cases, it takes lives. What virus are we talking about? It’s stigma. Stigma against people with mental health conditions. But there’s good news. Stigma is 100% curable. Compassion, empathy and understanding are the antidote. Your voice can spread the cure. Join NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness. Together we can #CureStigma. 

NAMI asks everyone to join the fight against stigma and spread messages of hope to those still suffering. Please click here if you would like to use social media to share information, resources, and support for mental health conditions.


Treating Co-Occurring Disorders

At Hope By The Sea, we have extensive experience treating clients who meet the criteria for addiction and co-occurring mental illness. We fully grasp how critical it is that both mental afflictions receive concurrent treatment. Please contact us today to learn how the miracle of recovery can be yours too.

Friday, October 5, 2018

Recovery Fest 2018: Enjoying Music Sober

For most people in recovery – particularly individuals new to sobriety – attending a music festival probably isn’t at the top of the to-do list. Massive concerts featuring a plethora of bands are hotbeds for alcohol and illicit substance use. Simply put, drugs and alcohol are a mainstay of festivals like Burning Man, Bonnaroo, Coachella, and Lollapalooza. The events are about the music to be sure, but that doesn’t mean that people don’t use such opportunities to push the chemical envelope.

recoverySince staying away from any environment that could put one’s recovery in jeopardy is vital, most people in early recovery would be wise to stay away. Exceptions can be made, such as attending an otherwise risky event with people in your support group; but, for the most part, any place where drugs are being consumed openly is not safe for one’s sobriety.

A good many people in recovery maintain fond memories of attending rock festivals; even more people in recovery derive much comfort from listening to music. However, a love for sonic sensations does not justify putting one’s recovery in jeopardy. While avoiding music festivals may be hard for some people to swallow, there is a solution—Recovery Fest.

Enjoying Music Safely In Recovery

In recent years, a host of events have been held with people in recovery in mind. A new event is Recovery Fest, which was held last week for the first time. Some may be inclined to think that a drug and alcohol-free music event would not attract significant star power to headline, but such people would be incorrect. In fact, Recovery Fest 2018 was headlined by Macklemore; it is worth noting the Seattle-based rapper is in recovery himself. The event’s sponsor writes about its goals:

“Above the Noise Foundation’s recovery music festivals will inspire, empower, and provide grassroots funding to U.S. cities affected by the addiction epidemic. Through the universal language of music, Above the Noise will unite communities, heal families, and shift America’s response to addiction from one of rejection to one of inclusion.” 

Aside from thousands of people in recovery enjoying music in a safe and sober manner, the event offered free naloxone training. The event also featured recovery meetings, yoga, and meditation. Between sets, guest speakers addressed the audience. The drug and alcohol-free event was a success and showed the countless young people in recovery that having fun is still possible.

There is a significant number of performers leading productive lives in recovery like Macklemore. Such individuals help to inspire teenagers and young adults to reach out for help and make the life changes needed for recovery. Anything is possible for those who commit to working a program, dedicated to leading an honest existence free from drugs and alcohol.


Addiction Recovery Services

Please contact Hope By The Sea to learn how the miracle of recovery can be yours too! We offer many innovative addiction recovery tracks that suit the individual needs of each client. With the help of our highly skilled team of addiction professionals, a fulfilling and productive future is possible.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Global Status Report On Alcohol and Health

Working in the field of addiction medicine, our team of skilled professionals at Hope by the Sea fully understand the detrimental impact alcohol can wreak on a person’s life. Each day, we treat individuals brought to their knees from alcohol. We are dedicated to helping people learn how to lead lives in recovery, and we continue to promote and encourage more individuals to seek treatment.

alcohol use disorder
The Global Status Report on Alcohol and Health 2018, analysis on all things alcohol from the World Health Organization (WHO), gives society an up close and personal look at the impact of the most used drug on the planet. Many parts of the nearly 500-page report are cause for concern, while others show signs of progress.

A close look at the WHO report offers that much work is needed to help more people grasp the need to seek addiction treatment services for alcohol. Accomplishing such a task is complicated by the ubiquitous nature of alcohol, not just in American society, but abroad as well—especially in Europe. Recovery is an achievable goal for any individual who seeks care; but – as we’ve mentioned time and time again – the stigma of addiction still prevents many from seeking treatment. What’s more, many people living with alcohol use disorder or AUD, do not know that their pattern of drinking is problematic even when alcohol use leads to adverse outcomes.

Alcohol Use Disorder and Premature Death

Naturally, premature death is the ultimate cost of heavy episodic drinking. Severe health conditions can crop up in relatively short lengths of time; in fact, another recent study appearing in the British Medical Journal shows that a good many young people are succumbing to liver disease. In fact, the number of 25- to 34-year-olds who died annually from alcohol-related liver disease nearly tripled between 1999 and 2016 in the United States, from 259 in 1999 to 767 in 2016. Such figures are startling, but the findings of the Global Status Report on Alcohol and Health shows that heavy alcohol use is taking a serious toll around the world. According to the report in 2016:
  • An estimated 283 million people aged 15+ years had an AUD (representing 5.1% of adults).
  • The leading contributors to the burden of alcohol-attributable deaths among men were injuries, digestive diseases, and alcohol use disorders,
  • Among women the leading contributors to death were cardiovascular diseases, digestive diseases, and injuries.
  • Alcohol consumption and AUDs are also associated with increased risk of suicides.
  • The harmful use of alcohol resulted in some 3 million deaths.
Credit: WHO

 The authors of the report conclude:

With 3 million alcohol-attributable deaths in 2016 and well-documented adverse impacts on the health and well-being of individuals and populations, it is a public health imperative to strengthen and sustain efforts to reduce the harmful use of alcohol worldwide. A significant body of evidence has accumulated on the effectiveness of alcohol policy options, but often the most cost-effective policy measures and interventions are not implemented or enforced, and the alcohol-attributable disease burden continues to be extraordinarily large. The wealth of data and analyses presented in this report can hopefully provide new grounds for advocacy, raising awareness, reinforcing political commitments and promoting global action to reduce the harmful use of alcohol.

Alcohol Use Disorder Treatment

The WHO report et al. shows just how dangerous alcohol consumption can be for anyone. It is essential to keep in mind that the actual life cost of alcohol use around the world is much higher, owing to under-reporting. Studies of this type have the potential of influencing people who are drinking heavily, to cut back on their alcohol use or stop. However, some such individuals will find that they need help.

Alcohol use disorder is treatable, and long-term recovery is possible with the assistance of a program of maintenance. There isn’t a known cure for any mental illness – including AUD – but such conditions can be made manageable with guidance. Please contact Hope by the Sea, if your life, or the life of a loved one, is impacted by alcohol use. We offer several innovative addiction treatment tracks to suit the particular needs of each client. The miracle of recovery can be yours too!

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