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Friday, December 7, 2018

Addiction and Depression Neural Pathways

Addiction and depression accompany each other in humans regularly. Which condition precipitates the other is up for debate and sequence is likely to vary from one patient to the next. What is certain is the fact that co-occurring mental health disorders are more common than not in the field of addiction medicine. In fact, more than half of patients presenting for alcohol or substance use disorder meet the criteria for a dual diagnosis.

Another verity in the field is that addiction and co-occurring mental illnesses must receive concurrent treatment to achieve successful recovery outcomes (i.e., long-term sobriety). Treating use disorder, while neglecting the conditions like anxiety, depression, or bipolar disorder, for instance, significantly decreases a person’s ability to stay on track in recovery.

Addiction treatment requires addressing the entire patient; no stone can be left unturned. Treatment outcomes depend heavily on a client giving counselors and therapists a complete picture of their symptoms. Simply put, experts cannot be useful if they don’t know what is happening beneath the surface.

The Addiction–Depression Link

People who’ve undergone therapy for use disorder are probably aware that their disease is directly associated with the brain’s pleasure and reward system. Recovery centers who expose their clients to some of the science of addiction, usually point to areas of the brain that experts believe play a role in their disorder. Two regions of the brain that many addicts become familiar with are the hippocampus and the nucleus accumbens. As science would have it, the hippocampus and the nucleus accumbens are two regions that make up some of the brain's reward system.

New research – appearing in the journal Nature – suggests that the strength of signals sent between the above brain is an indication of mental illness. A research team from the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore found that stronger signals sent between the hippocampus and the nucleus accumbens were associated with addiction, MNT reports. Conversely, weaker signals sent back and forth – researchers believe – could be an identifying marker of clinical depression.

"These two parts of the brain are known to be important in processing rewarding experiences," notes Prof. Thompson. "The communication between these regions is stronger in addiction, although the mechanisms underlying this were unknown," said study leader Prof. Scott Thompson, Ph.D. “We also suspected that opposite changes in the strength of this communication would occur in depression. A weakening of their connections could explain the defect in reward processing that causes the symptom of anhedonia [a loss of pleasure in usually pleasurable activities] in depressed patients." 

The study brings researchers closer to making sense of what occurs in the brains of people living with mental illness. The findings could set established targets for treating mental health disorders by manipulating neural pathways.

California Addiction Treatment Center

The miracle of addiction recovery can be yours too. Please contact Hope By The Sea to discover how our team of addiction professionals can help you heal from addiction and co-occurring mental illness. We are available 24 hours a day to field any questions that you or a loved one have about our process.

Friday, November 30, 2018

Opioid Overdose and Naloxone Price Increase

Naloxone is a drug that many Americans are (unfortunately) familiar with, due to its opioid overdose-death staying power. Administering naloxone – often sold under the brand name Narcan or EVZIO – in a timely manner can reverse the deadly symptoms of opiate toxicity.

In recent years, law enforcement and emergency first-response units began to carry easy-to-use naloxone kits. Today, it would be difficult to find a police officer or EMT who doesn't have the overdose antidote on hand. What’s more, many states have made it much easier for addicts and their friends or family members to acquire the drug. In many cases, without a prescription.

It may be little surprise to some people to learn that naloxone’s high demand has prompted some manufacturers to increase the price significantly. The price hikes are astronomical. A Senate subcommittee reports that Richmond, Virginia-based pharmaceutical company Kaleo raised the cost of its auto-injectable overdose-reversal drug EVZIO from $575 to $4,100, according to USA Today.

"Kaleo's more than 600 percent price increase of EVZIO not only exploits a country in the middle of an opioid crisis, but also American taxpayers who fund government-run health care programs designed to be a safety net for our country’s elderly and most vulnerable," the subcommittee reported.

Opioid Overdose Deaths All-Time High

While there are generic, cheaper versions of naloxone on the market, EVZIO is likely more straightforward for non-specialists. Even still, the average price for Narcan is $130, which for most people isn’t insignificant. Life-saving drugs like naloxone must be affordable or free for disadvantaged Americans. If people cannot acquire or afford naloxone, avoidable deaths are the result. It’s worth remembering that the epidemic we face takes more lives each year than automobile crashes.

The news of Kaleo’s price gouging come to us following the release of a startling Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report. An analysis of mortality data from the National Vital Statistics System shows more than 70,237 Americans died from a drug overdose last year. There were higher overdose death rates among people aged 25–34, 35–44, and 45–54 than those aged 15–24, 55–64, and 65 and over. What’s more, the age-adjusted rate of drug overdose deaths involving synthetic opioids rose by 45% from 2016 to 2017.

As synthetic opioids like fentanyl and carfentanil become more and more prevalent, there is a dire need for affordable overdose antidotes. Hopefully, the government will take steps to cap what seems like ever-increasing naloxone prices.


Opioid Use Disorder Treatment

If you are battling opioid use disorder, please know that we understand your struggle, and can help you take the first step toward lasting recovery. Please contact Hope By The Sea to learn more about our accredited addiction treatment center. The miracle of recovery can be yours too!

Friday, November 16, 2018

Meditation for PTSD Treatment

Prayer and meditation are vital components of many people’s recovery, especially among individuals utilizing spiritual programs centered on the 12 Steps. Such techniques help people in sobriety stay grounded, seek guidance, and remain accountable to a power greater than themselves. One could easily argue that spirituality is the glue that holds a person’s recovery together.

Given that addiction is a disease of the mind, a form of mental illness, it stands to reason that mediation can be a useful tool for people struggling with other conditions. Serenity is vital for anyone, to be sure, but is especially crucial for those who have difficulty dealing with the stressors of quotidian life. If one is unable to cope with stress, they are far more likely to resort back to drugs and alcohol for comfort. The same reality is real for people who meet the criteria for depression, anxiety, and bipolar and post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD.

The Department of Defense sponsored an experiment to determine the efficacy of mediation as a therapeutic approach for managing the symptoms of PTSD. The study is essential for at least two reasons. 1) PTSD is a condition that affects many people with alcohol and substance use disorders. 2) Service men and women with PTSD are at high risk of turning to drugs and alcohol to cope with their symptoms.

Meditation for PTSD

We observed Veterans Day earlier this week. With respect to the fact that many veterans are battling PTSD, we feel it vital to discuss practical ways of managing the condition. After all, many of Hope By The Sea’s clients are affected by co-occurring post-traumatic stress. While the debilitating mental health illness is most commonly associated with those who serve in foreign conflicts, the reality is that any form of trauma can preempt PTSD.

While exposure therapy – purposely recalling traumatic events and confronting emotions – is the Department of Veterans Affairs’ preferred method of PTSD treatment, it is not always effective, the Associated Press reports. The researchers involved in the DoD study say that meditation could be more useful for those who do not respond to exposure therapy. The study appears in the journal Lancet Psychiatry.

The research involved about 200 San Diego area veterans, each placed in one of three groups, according to the article. The researcher instructed one group to meditate; the second group received exposure therapy; and, the third group attended nutrition and exercise classes. Three months later:
  • 61 percent of the meditation group improved on a standard PTSD assessment.
  • 42 percent improved in exposure therapy group.
  • 32 percent improved in the nutrition and exercise group.
Thomas Rutledge, a Veterans Affairs psychologist in San Diego and study senior author, points out that a significant number of veterans will not subject themselves to exposure therapy or drop out. Determining the effectiveness of meditation, Rutledge says, “allows us to put more options on the table.”


Dual Diagnosis Treatment

If you are battling the PTSD symptoms and substance use disorder, please contact Hope By The Sea. Our dual diagnosis or co-occurring disorder treatment program often relies on a combination of group and individual therapy, recreational therapy, nutrition and exercise, support groups, medication management, family therapy, and aftercare planning. We can help you or a loved one experience the miracle of recovery!

Friday, November 9, 2018

Mental Health in America 2019: Final Report

On the heels of Mental Illness Awareness Week or MIAW comes ‘The State of Mental Health In America’ report. The nation’s leading community-based nonprofit in the field of mental wellness, Mental Health America (MHA), is responsible for the accounting of mental illness in the United States. The report lets us know where we stand regarding the prevention, screening, and treatment of the psychological maladies plaguing millions of Americans. The organization states:

Our work is driven by our commitment to promote mental health as a critical part of overall wellness, including prevention services for all; early identification and intervention for those at risk; integrated care, services, and supports for those who need it; with recovery as the goal.

Of course, given the pervasiveness of mental illness in the U.S., MHA relies on the assistance of several affiliates in compiling of their report. The nonprofit would not be able to give us a prognosis of mental health throughout the country if it were not for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC); and, the U.S. Department of Education, which collects survey data. Below you will find some of the more notable findings.

Mental Health in America Final Report

mental health
First, let’s take a glimpse at some of the uplifting data from MHA. The number of American adults with mental health and substance abuse problems is down; the former, from 18.19 to 18.07 percent, and 8.76 to 7.93 percent for the latter. While the decrease is noticeably slight, it is worth remembering that each percentage point accounts for hundreds of thousands of people. Unfortunately, MHA discovered some troubling data regarding adult suicidal ideation; it is up to 4.04 percent from 3.77. Major depressive episodes in youth are also on the rise; the organization found an almost four percentage point increase from 8.66 to 12.63 percent.

“Sadly, our report shows that there have been alarming increases in adult suicidal thoughts and major depression in youth,” said Paul Gionfriddo, president and CEO of Mental Health America, in a press release. “Despite mental health being something that more and more people are talking about - far too many people are still suffering. People are simply not receiving the treatment they need to live healthy and productive lives - and too many don’t see a way out.” 

  • An estimated 9.8 million adults had serious suicidal thoughts last year, 200,000 more than the year before.
  • Severe major depression affects more than 2 million young Americans.
  • 10 years pass, on average, between the onset of mental illness and receiving treatment.
  • More than 24 million people are not getting treatment for a mental health disorder.
Mental health illness is treatable, and recovery is possible provided interventions occur. However, ten years between symptom onset and treatment is wholly unacceptable; when conditions go unchecked, symptoms get worse, and tragedy often results.

“Our children are crying out for help,” says Gionfriddo. “We must continue to improve access to care and treatments, and we need to put a premium on early identification and early intervention for everyone with mental health concerns. We must address these mental health concerns before crisis and tragedy strikes—before Stage 4.”


Co-Occurring Disorder Recovery

While we specialize in the treatment of adults at Hope By The Sea, we are hopeful that events like MIAW and this new report will encourage parents and educators to have more conversation about mental health. The sooner discussions happen, the quicker treatment can commence.

If you are an adult struggling with substance use disorder or a co-occurring illness, please contact Hope By The Sea today to learn more about our program and the services we provide. We are confident that the miracle of recovery can be yours too.

The Hope By The Sea team would like to express our sincerest gratitude to our Nation’s veterans. We wish you a Happy Veterans day!

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