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Friday, November 17, 2017

Alcohol Impacts Neural Stem Cells

Alcohol is a caustic substance and alcohol use disorder is deadly. The substance may not get the attention it deserves, given that it is a vice that has been deemed legal. This means, essentially, that alcohol is safe if used appropriately. Unfortunately, people regularly use alcohol in harmful ways which results in addiction and premature death.

It’s important that everyone who drinks knows the risk, particularly young people prone to make poor decisions. Individuals who think that because something is legal, it can’t cause too much harm. Disabusing misconceptions about drinking is of vital necessity.

When many people consider the dangers of alcohol use, they usually think about what can go wrong when they imbibe. Making poor decisions is often a byproduct of heavy consumption, such as driving under the influence. Such individuals think that as long as they have a safe means of getting home, they may drink to excess. However, the substance can disrupt the course of any heavy drinker's life even if they take precautions.


Risks of Alcohol Not Printed On the Bottle

alcohol use disorderThe law mandates that alcohol manufacturers include warning labels on bottle labels. Don’t drink if you are pregnant, don’t operate heavy machinery, and so-on-and-so-forth. Occasionally one might see warnings about "booze" being habit-forming or that it carries risk of cancer; despite the fact that alcohol use is linked to several types of cancer.

Everyone is shocked by the number of opioid overdose deaths each (as they should be), but alcohol-related deaths will continue to surpass fatal overdoses. Around 100,000 Americans die of alcohol-related causes annually, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA). It’s worth pointing out that alcohol-related mortality is likely to be even higher.

Even if a person doesn’t meet the criteria for alcohol use disorder and practices sound judgment when they know they are going to be drinking, heavy drinking can cause serious damage. A new study suggests that prolonged, heavy drinking can affect the survival of neural stem cells (NSCs) in the brain impacting cognitive function, MNT reports. The research was published in the journal Stem Cell Reports.

"The discovery that the adult brain produces stem cells that create new nerve cells provides a new way of approaching the problem of alcohol-related changes in the brain," said Dr. Ping Wu, from the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston.

This new research is yet more evidence of the dangerous effect of alcohol, binge drinking, and heavy consumption. More study is needed to see how alcohol interacts with neural stem cells, which allow experts to better address alcohol use disorder in both male and females.


Alcohol Use Disorder Treatment

The longer heavy alcohol use persists, the more likely irreparable damage is to occur. Help is available if you or a loved one is struggling with alcohol use disorder. Please contact Hope by the Sea to begin the process of breaking the cycle of addiction.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Army Accepts Mental Illness Waivers

People who decide to join the military put themselves in position to experience many kinds of trauma. We’ve written on numerous occasions about the prevalence of post-traumatic stress disorder in the military. It’s a problem that can derail the course of one’s life long after soldiers leave the armed forces; left untreated, the repercussions are severe, those and afflicted regularly turn to drugs and alcohol to cope with their symptoms.

mnetal illnessMental illness going hand-in-hand with other forms of mental illness is understood well in the field of medicine. People with alcohol and substance use disorders are at high risk of developing co-occurring mental health conditions. Individuals with mental health disorders, such as depression or bipolar disorder, are at a higher risk of developing addiction compared to people who don’t meet such criteria.

With that in mind, you’d likely think that branches of the military would deny enlistment applications from people whose medical history includes mental illness. Historically, your assumption would be correct; however, to meet Army recruiting goals, exceptions will be made for specific people living with mental illness.


Mental Illness In The Military

In August, an unannounced policy was enacted allowing waivers for people with mental health conditions to enlist in the Army, USA Today reports. People with such histories must provide “appropriate documentation” to obtain the waiver, which can include a detailed statement from the applicant, medical records, and a psychiatric evaluation and “clearance.”

“It is a red flag,” said Retired Colonel Elspeth Ritchie, an Army psychiatrist and expert on waivers for military service. “The question is, how much of a red flag is it?” 

The mental health waivers can be obtained by people with a history of:
  • Self-Mutilation
  • Bipolar Disorder
  • Depression
  • Alcohol and Substance Use Disorder
People living with treated mental illness, who manage their recovery with a program of recovery, can lead fulfilling and prosperous lives. There is nothing that a person in recovery can’t accomplish. However, when people undergo trauma (like that regularly experienced in the military), it can have a devastating effect on one’s program of recovery. That’s not to say that people with treated mental health conditions shouldn’t be given the honor to serve their country; instead, great precautions must be taken to ensure the safety of individuals and their peers they fight beside.

“With the additional data available, Army officials can now consider applicants as a whole person, allowing a series of Army leaders and medical professionals to review the case fully to assess the applicant’s physical limitations or medical conditions and their possible impact upon the applicant's ability to complete training and finish an Army career,” said Lt. Col. Randy Taylor, an Army spokesman. “These waivers are not considered lightly.”

The U.S. Army recruitment goal is 80,000 enlistees through September 2018, according to the article. It’s likely that this report will lead to a serious debate over the decision allow mental health waivers.


Addiction and Co-Occurring Disorder Treatment

If you are struggling with a use disorder and a co-occurring mental illness, such as PTSD, please contact Hope by The Sea. Your recovery is dependent on treating both conditions. We specialize in the treatment of patients with a dual diagnosis and can help you begin the life-saving journey of recovery.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

A Tale of Two Opioids

"We have roughly two groups of Americans that are getting addicted,” said Dr. Andrew Kolodny, director of opioid policy research at Brandeis University. “We have an older group that is overdosing on pain medicine, and we have a younger group that is overdosing on black market opioids.”

opioid use disorder
What type of opioid a person uses regularly isn’t that important, what’s crucial is understanding that opiates of any kind are deadly. While the majority of Americans first became addicted to prescription painkillers, the disease progression often results in a switch to cheaper and stronger narcotics acquired on the black market.

Even those with a cursory understanding of the opioid addiction epidemic know the risks associated with this class of drugs. One need only look at their local newspaper to see headlines about the crisis unfolding in the U.S. The death rate has continued to rise with some years showing exponential increases for over a decade. So, it probably won’t come as a surprise to learn that this last year more people died from opioids than any other year on record. This year is shaping up to surpass last year's opioid-related death toll.

Matters are worse these days because synthetic opioids, drugs like fentanyl continue to grow in prevalence. The drug is regularly mixed with heroin to create a deadly cocktail. Compared to 2015, there was a 17 percent uptick in overdose deaths in 2016, The New York Times reports. The surge, owed largely to synthetic opioids, is cause for concern and must be addressed.

CDC’s Dismal Report

The rate of overdose deaths rose to nearly 20 people per 100,000 in 2016, according to the article. Dr. Robert Anderson, chief of the C.D.C. mortality statistics branch, says that for people under the age of 50, overdose is now the leading cause of death.

Naturally, we can’t turn back the clock and prevent the rampant over-prescribing observed over the last two decades. While the damage is done, it doesn’t mean that doctors can't adopt more conservative prescribing practices. Limiting the number of prescriptions written can help prevent future cases of opioid use disorder.

Today, there are over 2 million Americans with an opioid use disorder. The majority of afflicted individuals have never sought treatment. Those who desire recovery often struggle to access addiction treatment services where they live. Time is of the utmost importance with addiction. If somebody makes the decision to seek help, but can’t get it today, they are likely to change their mind tomorrow. The disease has a way of making a person’s desire for change be fleeting.

The most effective way of reducing the overdose death rate is to encourage people to seek treatment and have the option available when they are ready. Those who get help have a real opportunity at breaking the cycle of addiction and achieving lasting recovery.

Opioid Addiction is Treatable

At Hope by The Sea, we know how difficult it is to recover from opioid addiction. We are aware that people who don’t get assistance are likely to relapse, and relapse can mean death. If you are in the clutches of opioid use disorder, please contact us immediately, recovery works, and we can help you see for yourself.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Adverse Childhood Experiences and Addiction

Adolescents and teenagers are most often the focus of substance use prevention efforts in America. Teaching young people about the dangers of drugs and alcohol is believed to prevent initiation, and in many cases, it’s useful. However, for teenagers who’ve experienced trauma prevention efforts have diminished returns.

There has been a lot of talk of late regarding adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and their role in addiction. ACEs can be anything from loss of a loved one at a young age to having an abusive mother or father. Trauma, of any kind, can severely impact the course of one’s life, leading young people down a dangerous path. Moreover, research shows that substance use prevention efforts may not have the desired effect on people with unaddressed ACEs. It's the same when it comes to treating addiction, addressing the trauma of one's past is vital; if lasting recovery is the goal, then addiction professionals must teach clients coping tools.

It’s likely that most people will have subjective viewpoint on what constitutes trauma. What affects one person negatively, may not take the same toll on others. What’s more, some parents may not consider certain actions harmful even though some experts would consider the behavior abusive, such as spanking.


Adverse Childhood Experiences

Adverse Childhood ExperiencesSubstance use and self-harm are in many cases the byproduct of childhood trauma. Without healthy coping mechanisms for living with the abuse that one experienced, resorting to drugs and alcohol to cope with one’s mental state seemingly comes naturally. So, what are adverse childhood experiences? The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Association (SAMHSA) has compiled a list of common ACEs, including:
  • Physical, Sexual, and Emotional Abuse
  • Emotional and Physical Neglect
  • Substance Misuse and Mental Illness Within Household
  • Intimate Partner Violence and Mother Treated Violently
  • Parental Separation or Divorce
  • Incarcerated Household Member
Being subject to anything listed above could play a factor in the development of a substance use disorder. Researchers from the University of Michigan conducted a study to see if spanking should fall under the list of ACEs, The Kansas City Star reports. The findings, published in the journal Child Abuse and Neglect, indicate that spanked children were more likely to have suicidal ideations and attempts, engage in moderate-to-heavy drinking, and use drugs.

"Placing spanking in a similar category to physical/emotional abuse experiences would increase our understanding of these adult mental health problems," said study co-leader Professor Andrew Grogan-Kaylor.

It’s unlikely that parents who spank their children know the potential damage caused by punishing their children. Mothers and fathers rationalize and justify the behavior by the fact that they [parents] received spankings as children. While not every child who experiences an ACE is going to become an alcoholic or addict, if the risk can be mitigated then it should be.


Addiction Treatment

If you experienced trauma as a young person and are in the grips of alcohol or substance use disorder, please contact Hope by The Sea. We can help you address your trauma and show you how to cope with it healthily.

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