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Monday, August 30, 2010

Michael Lohan to Open Drug Treatment Facility

Lindsay Lohan's dramatic addicted lifestyle has been a hot topic in the news lately between probation violations, jail, and finally rehab at UCLA. Now, Michael Lohan, Lindsay's father, is apparently moving to California to open a drug and alcohol rehabilitation center. Lindsay was released last week from her court-ordered stay in rehab at the UCLA Medical Center; she has been to treatment before for her substance abuse problems, so it comes as no surprise that her father might have a vested interest in recovery programs. “Yes, it’s, true, I’ll be running it,” Lohan told Radar Online.com in an exclusive interview. “I think it’s time that Dina and I both step out of the media for a while, and for me that means getting back to what I know best–helping people with addiction.”

There are some people who believe that this is also a business move for Michael Lohan, private treatment in most cases is not inexpensive and there is a chance that one could make a lot of money opening a treatment facility in the right area. 12 Step programs are free, anyone who believes that they have a problem is welcome no matter how padded your bank account is; but, treatment facilities are safe havens separated from the outside world with trained professionals in house to help guide the recovery process.

One can only speculate as to Michael Lohan's motives for his decision to make this move - is he giving back or taking from? Where the money to start the facility is coming from has not been released and we don't know the location yet either. More likely than not, the rehab will be in the LA area, but there are many prime locations in the Southern California area. “I believe spirituality and holistic methods can cure anything,” he said. “God will be a major element in recovery.”

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Babysitter Sent to Detox for Extremely High BAC

Another babysitter has been arrested for being drunk in public while caring for two young children between the ages of 6 and 10. Witnesses of the event called the police when they noticed the babysitter was intoxicated and the two children were swimming in the water off the beach of Lake Phalen. "Kathryn S. Wegwerth, 20, was arrested about 2:25 p.m. at 1400 Phalen Boulevard for drinking in public and for underage consumption", according to the Star Tribune. Wegwerth blew a .35 BAC (Blood Alcohol Concentration), extremely high for anyone let alone someone babysitting two children. Police Officers who arrived at the scene discovered a 1.75 liter bottle of spiced rum in her purse. How much alcohol the sitter actually consumed at the beach is not certain, but based on her BAC and the fact that three quarters of the bottle was gone - a lot of it.

No one is quite sure how Wegwerth and the children got to the lake that day or how they were planning to get home, but officers claimed that Wegwerth said she was just getting ready to take the kids home. St. Paul police spokesman Andy Skoogman told reporters that at one point Wegwerth became "verbally abusive" to officers, who "believed she needed to be taken to detox for her own safety, which is what they did". There was no better place than detox for a 20 year old, who more than likely, is going down the road to alcoholism. Either way there will be specialists who can talk with her about what is going on.

A BAC of .35 is a pretty good indicator that a problem exists and treatment may be the most appropriate choice of action. Parents should talk to their babysitters about drugs and alcohol and also watch for signs indicating a problem. Addictions can lead to tragedies; sometimes harm innocent bystanders along the way. Hopefully problems are addressed early on so that there is less chance for incidents like Diane Schuler's. Thankfully Wegwerth was stopped before she had the opportunity to get behind the wheel.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Why Isn't Liquor Considered a Gateway Drug in Kentucky?

The term "Gateway Drug" is somewhat ambiguous and is rather misleading and now it has become a hot topic issue in the state of Kentucky. The question is, whether alcohol or marijuana should be labeled a "Gateway Drug"? Kentucky is a state that is well known for whiskey production, home to the finest bourbon distilleries in the country and tobacco companies. Teenagers and young adults are much more likely to have drunk alcohol and smoked cigarettes first than smoke pot; yet, marijuana is the drug that has been labeled the drug that opens the doors to addiction.

Rand Paul and Jack Conway are in a race for the Senate and they both have different views on drugs and alcohol. Paul believes that the state should be in control of drug policy, it's a local issue. He's against the federal drug war. Conway, conversely, thinks that marijuana in any way, shape, or form - even growing hemp - would be a dangerous gateway drug and should be illegal. Conway is asking the Federal government for more funding to help Kentucky fight illegal drugs. What's interesting is the fact that Conway has a vested interest in leaving alcohol and tobacco alone. According to Reason Staff, "Bourbon is how Jack's wife makes her money and pads close to half of Jack's family income. How hypocritical is it for a man, who makes money off a liquid drug that has only one purpose to get you drunk, to turn around and put the label of "gateway drug" on a plant that can do so much more than get you high? While all this time his own wife is part of the people who produce alcohol as part of the Brown-Foreman Public relations team."

Clearly, alcohol has had more to do with getting people on the path to alcoholism and drug addiction than marijuana. Marijuana certainly has its side-effects, but, it does not seem right that marijuana has been branded the "Gateway Drug" and not alcohol, when it is alcohol, especially in a state like Kentucky, that kids generally start experimenting with first. Our policy makers are driven by money and their ability to make more of it, giving alcohol the Gateway brand would certainly be bad for the multi-billion dollar business that alcohol has become. Let's call a spade a spade for a change and then we might have a better chance at making a real change. The legality of marijuana has become a shield for the alcohol and tobacco industry.

Is it time to stop ignoring the realities of alcohol, according to the CDC:

64% of Americans drink alcohol, with 50% ‘regular drinkers’.

22,073 alcohol caused deaths a year (2006), deaths unrelated to accidents, suicides or homicides

About half of these deaths are from liver disease from alcoholism

What are your thoughts on the subject...

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Drug Addict Doctor Reinstated

There are a number of doctors who have lost the right to practice medicine because of addiction. Prescription drugs are highly addictive, often times, doctors will become addicted to the pain killers and sedatives that they are prescribing. Striking deals with patients to help get themselves the drugs they desire without writing prescriptions for themselves; another common practice is to give injections of water to patients so that the doctor can use the medication. Once a doctor loses the right to practice it is usually very difficult to become reinstated and sometimes doctors who lose their licence never get it back.

In Canada, an investigation by the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Manitoba found that Dr. Anthony Hlynka was addicted to the drugs he had been prescribing his patients. "Hlynka wrote OxyContin prescriptions for some patients he knew well and arranged for them to provide him with some or all of their painkillers for his own use", according to the CBC. Now, less than six months since his license was revoked, Hlynka is back practicing medicine; this time he will be watched very closely and drug tested regularly, Hlynka is no longer allowed to prescribe narcotics.

"The risks are minimal and even less likely given the strict terms and conditions on it," said College registrar Dr. Bill Pope. "For example, it would be almost unheard of for him to be allowed to practice independently in these situations". Hlynka was ordered to complete a drug treatment program and if he would like to continue being a doctor he will have to comply with everything he was asked to do. Hlynka is one of many doctors who have partook in this type of activity, there are some doctors who, after sobering up, have fought for years to be reinstated. As we understand the nature of addiction better, the possibility for doctors in recovery to practice medicine is real.

Hlynka was required to pay all of the $30,000 spent on the investigation into his case.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Newport Beach Residents Battle Drug Rehab

Newport Beach is a beautiful community sandwiched between LA and San Diego in Orange County. Over the last twenty years there have been a number of drug treatment facilities that have opened in that area. Now, there are a number of treatment programs that house their clients in houses along the coast of Newport Beach. It seems like there couldn't be a better place to find recovery than the serene environment that exists along the coastline. But, the residents of those neighborhoods are not happy about having a drug treatment house in their neighborhood, claiming that it affects their quality of life.

In the last decade there has been more and more contention between the residents of Newport Beach and the cluster of drug treatment facilities that operate in the area. "Homeowners in West Newport have said that their quality of life suffers from the area having too many of the homes, and the city has spent more than $1.5 million fighting lawsuits from rehab home operators who have contested city ordinances. The most contentious ordinance was one from 2008 that forced operators to undergo an extensive public review and permitting process".

Recently, a lawyer for the Lido Isle Community Assn. sent a letter to the City of Newport Beach that opposed a proposed agreement with Morningside Recovery. Morningside is close to settling its lawsuit with the city; the last step is to have the City Council, among other restrictions, approve an agreement that would limit the number of beds the facility can operate and where they can be.

"The idea of clustering the homes down in the beach area is counterproductive to the idea of assimilating people into society," said Neil MacFarlane, a Lido Isle resident and member of Concerned Citizens of Newport Beach, an activist group formed to address the rehab issue.

Monday, August 9, 2010

1 in 5 Abuse Alcohol: Australia

Alcohol is sold all over the world and it affects more lives than any other substance. The alcohol beverage industry is a multi-billion dollar a year industry, one that spends a lot of money figuring out how to encourage people to drink more alcohol despite the scientific evidence that shows how damaging alcohol can be to the human body. Quite often alcohol is set off to the side and isn't considered a drug in the typical sense of the word, but, make no mistake about it; alcohol contains a very powerful drug - Ethanol. The main ingredient in all alcoholic beverages is a powerful psychoactive drug and was more than likely the first drug to ever be abused. Now that alcoholism rates are through the roof, all across the world, it is hard to believe how much we allow alcohol to be so prevalent and so easy for young people to attain.

A new study done in Australia came back with some pretty shocking numbers which have a lot people concerned. The study found that Australia has one of the highest rates of alcohol abuse in the world, "the study by the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre found that one in five Australians abuses alcohol, yet four out of five people with alcohol issues go untreated", reported ABC news. Professor Maree Teeson, who was a part of the study, said that "alcohol abuse does not refer to how much someone drinks; instead it reflects the impact it is having on their life".

The study showed that young men were the most common to have problems with alcohol. Sadly, in the 21st century there is still a stigma related to seeking help for problem drinking, Professor Teeson believes that that is happening in Australia - people are ashamed to seek help. That shame prolongs one's ability to recover and that is why it is so important to surrender and seek help for the disease.

Friday, August 6, 2010

"Nickel a Drink" Fee to Pay for the Cost of Dealing with Alcohol Abusers

As California struggles to find more money for their dwindling budget they are turning once again to taxing vices. In the past when times have been tough in California things like cigarettes and alcohol always were the first to be hit with higher taxes. The justification for such taxes has always been a little hazy, but one thing is for certain, people who smoke cigarettes and drink alcohol have helped to inject a lot of money into the economy on account of their habits. Financial punishment for one's addictions seems to be a common trend these days, especially now that legalization of marijuana is on the November ballot. Supervisors on a committee in San Francisco are considering a tax on alcohol to help pay for the city's cost of dealing with alcoholics. The new tax has been dubbed the "nickel a drink" fee!

Several other California cities are watching San Francisco closely to see how all this pans out. San Francisco is known for having a very large homeless population, those homeless that drink heavily often need to be hospitalized or go to treatment facilities that are paid for by the city. According to NPR, "the city spends more than $17 million a year to cover the health and human service costs of alcohol abuse". Supervisor John Avalos wants alcohol wholesalers and distributors to compensate for the cost of alcoholism in the city of San Francisco.

Every public service, ranging from the fire department all the way to drug treatments are struggling to fund their efforts. Raising the tax on alcohol could help subsidize the cost of treating alcoholics if implemented correctly and the money is channeled properly. "So this measure is really an effort to be able to stabilize our funding for these services, to deal with over-consumption of alcohol."

Monday, August 2, 2010

Feds Release Final Rules on Electronic Health Records

Personal health records have always been a touchy subject throughout the addiction community. Recovering addicts would like to have the least amount of people possible know about their past. Over the last ten years we have seen medical practices integrate from paper to electronic health records (EHR), removing the need for hard copies; the goal was to connect every medical office and hospital together in an attempt to save time and money. There are many people who are not so keen on the idea and they worry about the level of privacy. People who have been to substance abuse treatment would like to limit access to their records unless explicit permission is given.

Ever since 1972, under the federal Confidentiality of Alcohol and Drug Abuse Patient Records Act, health care professionals were barred from accessing records pertaining to individuals' alcohol and other drug treatment without written authorization, except in emergency situations. However, over the years there are many health professionals who have found the above act a hindrance in providing effective medical treatment. Recently, the Feds released the final rules on electronic health records, which will move to merge medical health records with addiction treatment records in order improve health care services through efficiency. Despite, pleas throughout the addiction community to think this through, the "U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is pressing forward with regulations (and incentives) to promote wider adoption of electronic health records across the health care system", reported Join Together.

It will be interesting to see how all of this plays out, but it is clear that many will be affected by the new rules. On July 13, the new rules issued by HHS set minimum requirements for providers who want to get Medicare and Medicaid incentive payments for using EHR technology- setting new standards and certification criteria for such technology. "For years, health policy leaders on both sides of the aisle have urged adoption of electronic health records throughout our health care system to improve quality of care and ultimately lower costs," said HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. "Today, with the leadership of the President and the Congress, we are making that goal a reality".

What are your thoughts on Electronic Health Records regarding addiction?

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