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Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Alcohol Use-Related E.R. Visits

When it comes to addiction, or substance use disorders of any kind, there are often more questions than answers. Researchers can analyze data to develop an understanding of how many people are in the grips of progressive mental illness, yet they can only theorize the reasons why use rates go up or down in many cases. There is a plethora of factors to consider when trying to present a clear picture of alcohol and substance abuse in America, and the causes for spikes and drops in particular behaviors.

In the addiction treatment field, most discussions center on opioid use disorder these days, the reasons for this should go without saying. Every American has witnessed the salvo of news reports about elevated overdose death rates and the rise of deadly synthetic opioids. Mainstream media outlets regularly point out the difficulties that people face when attempting to access addiction treatment, especially in rural America. The situation is nothing short of dire and hopefully the epidemic will, one day, abate.

Opioids may be the most critical crisis of our times, but it’s probably fair to say that alcohol and the damage it causes will always be the most severe substance use dilemma. Far more Americans perish from alcohol-related causes every year than from opioid use. Prescription opioids and heroin are responsible for the most overdoses, but the long-term effects of alcohol use are far more sinister. It’s fair to say that in the realm of substance abuse: alcohol will always be the number one offender.


Alcohol Use Related E.R. Visits

alcohol use disorderBeer, wine, and liquor are legal to use by anybody over the age of 21; unfortunately, some people’s use is problematic, resulting in adverse effects to one’s health. Heavy consumption can bring about alcohol poisoning; down the road, the practice can lead to pancreatitis, cirrhosis of the liver, and several other life-threatening health conditions. Those who use alcohol daily are at significant risk of developing dependence and alcohol use disorder (AUD). Even if one escapes the health concerns above, research shows that many forms of cancers result from alcohol use.

Suffice it to say, not much good results from imbibing, those who stay away from the substance or use it moderately avoid a host of potentially fatal conditions. In the United States, we need to be better about spreading the message that "legal" doesn’t equal "safe." Disseminating science-based information about alcohol use will save lives, and it needs to happen now, considering recent findings.

A new analysis of nationally representative data shows that between 2006 and 2014 alcohol-related emergency room visits rose 61 percent, according to NPR. Study authors analyzed information from around 30 million visits to U.S. hospital-based emergency departments annually, from 945 hospitals in 33 states and Washington, D.C. The findings are in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research.


Women are Drinking More Alcohol

The research team, many of whom work at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), found that drinking trends among women are concerning. More females are needing to go to the E.R. for alcohol-related health conditions, NPR reports. The findings indicate that women are gaining on men when it comes to overall alcohol use, as well as binge drinking, drunk driving, and cirrhosis.

"The lowest hanging fruit in terms of hypotheses is that there must be an increase in risky drinking in some people," says study lead author Aaron White. "Even though that is not showing up in increases in overall per capita consumption, it's enough to drive the increase in alcohol-related emergency department visits."


Alcohol Use Disorder Treatment

If you or a loved one’s drinking has caused adverse health effects, there is a good chance a problem exists. Alcohol use disorder, left untreated, almost always results in serious health problems and premature death, ultimately. At Hope By The Sea, we can assist you in beginning the life-changing journey of addiction recovery. Please contact us today.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Diverting Public Attention On Cocaine

Prescription opioids are sought out at unprecedented rates in America these days, but addicts seek out other drugs as well. It is for that reason that lawmakers and health experts should reëvaluate the opioid epidemic, what we have is an addiction epidemic. Stimulants are a significant concern in the U.S., once again.

The methamphetamine coming into the country is significantly more potent than the homegrown crank of the early 2000’s; the spike in meth use has led to several documentaries on the subject. What’s more, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) released a report last year showing that cocaine use and availability is rebounding.

While cocaine is considered a safer “hard drug” than opioids, now fentanyl-laced cocaine has become a regular occurrence—users are at significant risk of overdose and death. Young people looking to enhance their weekend party experience may find they have bitten off more than they can chew. People with cocaine use disorder are at significant risk of fentanyl exposure. It’s worth noting that cocaine can cause an overdose even without fentanyl’s help.


Cocaine Hurricane

cocaine use disorder
With all the news about opioids and talk in state houses about opioid use prevention and treatment, law enforcement can quickly lose sight of the big picture; cartels are flooding the U.S. with many addictive and deadly narcotics. Much of the American public believes that cocaine use is no longer a significant problem in America. The truth is quite the opposite!

On November 2, 2017, Federal agents seized a massive shipment of cocaine in Philadelphia, CBS News reports. Stashed inside bedroom furniture, the 250 bricks (700 pounds) of cocaine valued at $22 million, is the most massive bust in a decade. The sheer size of the shipment gives readers a clear sign that the cocaine business is thriving in America.

As an aside, what made the seizure even more interesting is how the powder made its way into the country in the first place. It turns out that the bedroom furniture and kitchen cabinets full of coke came in shipping containers from Puerto Rico. Yes, the same U.S. island territory recently caught in Hurricane Maria’s (Category 4 with 150 mph winds) destructive path on September 20, 2017. On November 18, some two weeks after the bust in Philly, a little over half of Puerto Rico still hadn’t had their power restored.

"Customs and Border Protection knows that transnational drug trafficking organizations will take advantage of natural disasters, and in this case an island struggling to recovering from a crippling hurricane, to smuggle dangerous drugs to our nation's mainland," Joseph Martella of CBP said in a statement. "CBP officers remain ever vigilant to interdict narcotics loads, and we are pleased to have stopped this deadly poison shipment before it could hurt our communities."


Cocaine Use Disorder Treatment

If you are living with cocaine use disorder and would like to begin the journey of addiction recovery, please contact Hope By The Sea. Our team of highly trained, professional addiction specialists can help you break the cycle of the disease and self-defeating behavior.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Deprescribing Addictive Opioid Painkillers

People experiencing pain go to their doctor, which often results in the prescribing of opioid painkillers. So, why can’t patients also work with their doctors to get off addictive painkillers? People who are struggling with any form of a substance use disorder are always encouraged to seek assistance. When under the care of a treatment center, clients are weaned off of particular drugs or are given medications to help manage the symptoms of withdrawal.

prescription opioids
Medical care and the help of addiction specialists aid people living with use disorders stem the tide of one’s disease long enough for a program of recovery to take root. Those who attempt to abstain from drugs and alcohol on their own are often able to manage it for varying lengths of time, yet relapse is in many cases only a matter of time. Opioid use disorder cases are made complicated by the fact that many painkiller addicts are in legitimate physical pain. Without an effective means of coping with one’s discomfort, addiction treatment may not lead to favorable outcomes.

It may surprise some Americans to learn that prescription opioid addicts living with chronic pain would like a way out. Nobody would wish opioid use disorder on even their worst adversary. However, the thought of returning to a life of experiencing constant pain is too much for most people to contend with, and use continues. Prescription opioid addicts living with chronic pain must be introduced to alternative forms of pain management, if recovery is to have the desired effect on a person’s life.


Walking Off Opioid Use Disorder

In Santa Clara, CA, the Pain Management Rehabilitation, a pilot program at Kaiser Permanente Medical Center, is helping people with chronic pain overcome opioid use disorder, NBC News reports. The clinic's doctors work with individuals like Marti Krow-Lucal, 67, who is living with neuropathy, a form of nerve damage that causes debilitating pain. Krow-Lucal became addicted to the methadone she used to treat her pain, according to the article. She attempted to quit but, like many in her same boat, the task proved too difficult to manage on her own. Fortunately, Marti met Kelly Gerughty, 40, a recovering opioid addict who is also living in pain.

"I tried to quit by myself. After a day and a half, I was in withdrawal, nose running, in pain, I couldn't do it alone," said Krow-Lucal. "I said, is it possible to get off them? And she [Gerughty] said, well I did. Hearing someone say yes, I did it, was so encouraging." 

Doctors at Pain Management Rehabilitation essentially “deprescribe” people who come to them for help, according to the article. In place of the opioids, the clinic teaches patients ways to combat pain that, in some cases, are more efficient than opioids. Such as meditation, physical therapy, pool therapy, and group walks. The “group” side of this program is essential, and its impact is reminiscent of why programs like AA and NA are successful.

"A lot of those can be used in place of opioids with even better coverage for pain," said Gerughty. "They hook you up with classes that you can attend with other members, so the fellowship is there, which I think is the most important thing for me because when you know that someone cares that spurred me on, that encouraged me." 

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Opioid Use Disorder Treatment

At Hope By The Sea, we have helped a significant number of chronic pain patients break the cycle of opioid use disorder. Such clients are given tools, are taught techniques for managing their pain in healthy ways, and are now living fulfilling and productive lives in recovery. Please contact us today if you or your loved one is struggling with opioid addiction.

Friday, January 5, 2018

Stop the Addiction Fatality Epidemic

It’s been roughly two decades since opioid addiction rates began to rise rapidly across the country. With each passing year, an ever-increasing number of young and older Americans alike succumb to the deadly nature of opioid use disorder. While the problem is ever apparent, finding ways to deal with it has proved complicated. The old American approach of arresting and jailing addicts is no longer tolerated by most people. After all, there are over 2 million people struggling with opiate addiction, which is more people than all the incarcerated Americans combined.

Enforcing draconian drug sentencing laws would cause the penal system to reach critical mass. What’s even more important is if the majority favored arrest and incarceration, science shows that prison is not a valid form of rehabilitation, recidivism is almost guaranteed. There's another facet worth consideration as well, today’s drug epidemic is vastly different than let’s say the “crack” cocaine crisis of the `80’s and early `90’s. Most notably regarding the demographics affected, i.e., white America. Politicians seem a little more reticent about jailing their friends and family.

While the racial double-standard of addiction is disturbing, there is a silver lining. Since the opioid epidemic is affecting nearly every demographic, more and more lawmakers and those who enforce the law of the land are advocating for the expansion of addiction treatment services. There is a higher focus today on treating addiction than ever before, which means the stigma of addiction is eroding.


The Power of Addiction is Daunting

Of the over 60,000 Americans who died of an overdose last year, one just so happened to be the son of the former vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Ret. Navy Adm. James “Sandy” Winnefeld. After completing a 15-month addiction treatment program, Ret. Adm. Winnefeld’s son Jonathan (19) experienced a fatal overdose, The Washington Post reports. The culprit in Jonathon's case was fentanyl-infused heroin; injected three days after his father dropped him off at the University of Denver this past September.

“One of the important things I discovered along the way is that I learned a great deal about addiction itself during Jon’s recovery, but I only really learned about the epidemic after his death,” writes Ret. Adm. Winnefeld. 

It’s worth pointing out that Winnefeld’s family had access to Tricare, military health-care for active-duty troops and retirees. However, the former vice chairman found it challenging to access the level of care his son desperately required; too many Americans echo Winnefeld's troubles. His only real option for Jonathan was private addiction treatment.

Following his son’s premature death, Sandy and his wife Mary created an advocacy group called Stop the Addiction Fatality Epidemic, or SAFE, according to the article. The group’s expressed aim is to end opioid addiction through research and awareness campaigns. SAFE's goal is to expand addiction treatment resources across the country.

“We want to be action-oriented. If we can use that to save a family, then it’s worth the effort,” Winnefeld said.

Opioid Addiction Treatment

Lacing illicit drugs like heroin with fentanyl is quite common these days. In fact, reports show that dealers are even infusing cocaine with synthetic opioids, as well. The longer one continues to resist treatment and recovery, the more likely they are to come face to face with fentanyl. This drug is notorious for causing overdose, and naloxone is often ineffective in reversing the symptoms.

If you are battling opioid addiction, Hope By The Sea can help you break the cycle of self-defeating behavior and help you start down the road of lasting addiction recovery. Please contact us today to discuss which one of our programs will work best for you or your loved one.

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