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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Definition of Recovery

The process of recovery is different for everyone, while the methods may be similar across the board, the experience of changing one’s life can have its own individual meaning. That being said, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has been working over the last year to come up with a comprehensive definition that would encompass recovery for both mental disorders and substance abuse.

The new working definition of Recovery from Mental Disorders and Substance Use Disorders is as follows:

A process of change through which individuals improve their health and wellness, live a self-directed life, and strive to reach their full potential.

"Over the years it has become increasingly apparent that a practical, comprehensive working definition of recovery would enable policy makers, providers, and others to better design, deliver, and measure integrated and holistic services to those in need," said SAMHSA Administrator, Pamela S. Hyde. "By working with all elements of the behavioral health community and others to develop this definition, I believe SAMHSA has achieved a significant milestone in promoting greater public awareness and appreciation for the importance of recovery, and widespread support for the services that can make it a reality for millions of Americans."

Through the Recovery Support Strategic Initiative, SAMHSA has laid out four major dimensions that support a life in recovery:
  • Health: overcoming or managing one's disease(s) as well as living in a physically and emotionally healthy way.
  • Home: a stable and safe place to live.
  • Purpose: meaningful daily activities, such as a job, school, volunteerism, family caretaking, or creative endeavors, and the independence, income and resources to participate in society
  • Community: relationships and social networks that provide support, friendship, love, and hope.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

New Powerful Hydrocodone Drug

It is probably fair to say that there is hardly an adult in the country who has not been prescribed Vicodin (hydrocodone) at one point or another. This has certainly played into the fact that hydrocodone medications are the second most abused painkillers after oxycodone. It is almost unbelievable to think that in less than a year’s time we may be seeing a new drug hit the market - pure hydrocodone.

Hydrocodone medications today mix hydrocodone with non-addictive pain killers such as acetaminophen. Drugs that contain pure hydrocodone without any additives offer huge potential for abuse and addiction, most likely on the same level as oxycodone.

The new drugs will have up to 10 times the amount of the drug as existing medications such as Vicodin. Four different pharmaceutical companies have begun patient testing, and one of them, Zogenix of San Diego, has plans to apply early next year to start marketing its product, Zohydro.

Zohydro, will be a timed-release drug meant for managing moderate to severe pain, without the time release abusers could crush it to release an intense, immediate high.

"I have a big concern that this could be the next OxyContin," said April Rovero, president of the National Coalition Against Prescription Drug Abuse. "We just don't need this on the market."

Zohydro will be abused the same way every other prescription opiate drug has been in the past, once addicts can get their hands on a purer form of the drug they will hardly want the drug’s forefather Vicodin. The FDA should really think long and hard before they allow this drug’s release. Is oxycodone not powerful enough already?

Friday, December 23, 2011

Eating Disorders Complex Disease

There are a number of mental health problems that often go unnoticed around the globe, especially disorders dealing with weight. In America, weight is a major concern for women as well as men, although male eating disorders are not usually spotted unless it involves overeating. The social stigmas surrounding weight in this country can cause people to feel inadequate which can prompt people to turn to unhealthy practices. Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia (binge eating and purging) are perhaps some of the hardest conditions to treat and if left untreated can be fatal.

Eating disorders often go hand in hand with substance abuse; drugs and alcohol often help people with eating disorders cope with the pain and guilt associated with the disorder which leads to addiction. Co-occurring disorders that involve Anorexia, Bulimia, and overeating are the hardest to treat due to the complex nature of eating related diseases. After years of training one’s mind and body to not crave food as well convincing oneself that they could always look better is hard to alter.

According to the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders:
  • Almost 50% of people with eating disorders meet the criteria for depression.
  • Only 1 in 10 men and women with eating disorders receive treatment. Only 35% of people that receive treatment for eating disorders get treatment at a specialized facility for eating disorders.
  • Up to 24 million people of all ages and genders suffer from an eating disorder (anorexia, bulimia and binge eating disorder) in the U.S
  • Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness

Fortunately, effective treatments for eating disorders modeled in 12 step format are available across the country. Many men and women who work a program of recovery have found that they can lead a healthy life and be comfortable with their image.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Binge Drinking and Relationships

In many cases one’s greatest influence is their romantic partner. We often think of personal relationships as being our greatest source of support and understanding; however, a new study has shown that drug and alcohol use is often directly related to one’s partner - especially when it came to binge drinking.

Researchers studied 208 non-married, heterosexual dating couples in their early 20's; each couple had to be dating for at least 3 months, have face-to-face contact at least 5 days a week, and one member of each dating couple had to be a university/college student.

On an average, the couples in the study were dating for close to 2 years.

Over a 28 day time frame, researchers were able to predict one partner's binge drinking based the other partner's binge drinking.

"In some respect this is a cautionary piece of research. Pick your friends and lovers carefully because they influence you more than you think," Simon Sherry, assistant professor in the Department of Psychology, Dalhousie University, Halifax, N.S, said.

"We're not so naive as researchers to think students are going to walk away from binge drinking. But our study shows there's a large majority of students who form romantic partnerships where alcohol is a regularly occurring theme," Sherry added.

Binge drinking is extremely dangerous, if your partner is engaging in that style of drinking it is in one’s best interest to not go down that road. Talk to your partner, it is often the case that one’s romantic partner is the first line of defense in stopping such behavior. Most people are unaware how harmful binge drinking is to one’s health which is why so many people lose their life every year to such activity.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Government Drunk Driving Crackdown

The holiday season always means a rise in intoxicated drivers, which means law enforcement officials will be out in force in attempt to save lives. In the U.S. people often are not use to excessive partying throughout the year until the end of the year, they often do not realize just how drunk they actually are often resulting in DUIs or, worse, fatal accidents. The Department of Transportation has announced a nationwide crackdown.

Ray LaHood, the Transportation Secretary, said the education and enforcement initiative will include reminders to drivers that police and other agencies will be out in force in their search for drunk drivers, The Washington Post reports. “We’re making gains in our fight against drunk driving, but we cannot and will not let up,” LaHood said in a statement.

“Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” is a $7 million advertising campaign that hopefully will help cut back on drunk driving. The government’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) is stating the facts about drunk driving so that everyone is aware of the dangers associated with it. The ads, which will run through January 2, portray drunk drivers being arrested.

The NHTSA released a report that found an estimated 31 percent of driving deaths were linked to alcohol in 2010, compared with nine percent of deaths caused by distracted driving. The report found that overall, highway deaths fell last year to the lowest level in six decades, even though Americans are driving more. A total of 32,885 people died in vehicle crashes in the United States last year - 10,228 were related to alcohol. Deaths linked to alcohol fell 4.9 percent from 2009 to 2010, the report noted.

Drinking and driving is extremely dangerous, in the blink of an eye peoples’ lives can be altered forever. There are a number of safe ways to get around this holiday season, if you are drinking, then it is best that you do not risk it, for the sake of you, your family, and all others who share the road.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Prescription Drug Treatment Admissions Jump

As the prescription drug epidemic continues to ravage American citizens from all walks of life, a number of people are entering treatment due to their addiction to opiates. A new government report has found that treatment admissions for prescription drug abuse rose 430 percent from 1999 to 2009. More and more addicts have been turning away from traditional illegal narcotics and gravitating towards prescription narcotics because there is less risk involved due to the legal aspects.

The New York Daily News reports that the biggest jumps in admissions for prescription drug abuse occurred in:
  • Maine
  • Vermont
  • Delaware
  • Kentucky
  • Maryland
  • Arkansas
  • Rhode Island
  • West Virginia

SAMHSA found admissions related to marijuana rose 33 percent over the 10-year period; however, those who entered treatment due to heroin, cocaine, and alcohol abuse declined. Treatment admissions for methamphetamine/ amphetamine treatment increased between 1999 and 2005, but, fortunately the number of admissions has decreased every year from 2005 through 2009.

“While some aspects of substance abuse treatment admissions have changed, meeting the overall need remains an essential public health priority,” SAMHSA Administrator Pamela S. Hyde said in a news release. “The increasing numbers of people entering treatment for prescription drug abuse is the latest indicator of the severity of the problem. Concerned family members or friends who think a substance abuse problem may exist should seek help. Treatment is effective and people recover.”

Make no mistake, prescription narcotics are just as dangerous as illegal drugs, the potential for overdose is equally high as well the risk of becoming addicted. Parents need to be vigilante in making sure that when they no longer require their pain medication that they dispose of it in a proper manner to avoid the drugs falling into the hands of their children.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Sharing Prescription Drug Database Information

The prescription drug epidemic is a major health concern in every state in the Union. A number of states have began tracking prescription drugs using databases that help officials spot trends like doctor shopping. One problem that states are seeing is that many states are not sharing their database information with other states which makes it hard to crack down on “drug tourism”; some people will travel through many states to pick up drugs in states that have more pain clinics or in states where it is easier to obtain a large amount of a particular drug.

Florida’s Department of Health is recommending that the state release information from its new database that tracks prescription pain medicine with other states. The act would increase the effectiveness of these new databases, this national problem can only be combated if states work together to solve the problem.

“Sharing data helps in breaking up drug-diversion rings of organized doctor shoppers and pill mills that work across state lines,” John Eadie, Director of the Prescription Monitoring Program Center of Excellence at Brandeis University, told the Sun-Sentinel. “With that sharing, physicians in Florida will know what patients have obtained in other states.”

In 2009, about 223,700 prescriptions for controlled substances that were written in Florida were filled by pharmacists in Alabama, Louisiana, North Carolina, Arizona and Vermont. The perfect example of “drug tourism”, going to one state for a prescription only to fill it in another. 48 states have legislation to create prescription drug monitoring programs, and three dozen programs are now in operation, according to James Giglio, Executive Director of the Alliance of States with Prescription Monitoring Programs.

If states do not work together on this, it will render the databases relatively useless in the scheme of things, a unified nationwide database is what’s needed.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Zero-Tolerance Policies

Drug and alcohol use amongst teenagers while at school is a major concern in most public schools across the country have strict zero tolerance policies to deter students from engaging in such activities. In many cases zero-tolerance policies help keep students from encouraging other students to use drugs or alcohol. Students who bring mind altering substances to school should be punished, the question is to what extent and should every student be treated the same as the next. There are a number of parents who believe that principals should be more flexible in how they dole out punishment, that the severity of the punishment should take a person’s track record into account.

A 14-year-old named Lindsey Tanner in Shreveport, Louisiana, was punished for offering a Midol pill to a fellow student, according to USA Today. Lindsay had no history of drug use or discipline issues, even though the drug she was handing out wasn’t even a narcotic she had to attend a six-week drug and alcohol awareness program and Alcoholics Anonymous meetings. Lindsay was also required to attend an alternative school for the rest of eighth grade and part of ninth grade. The newspaper claims that Lindsay isn’t alone, she is one of thousands of students who are treated the same as more violent or regular offenders due to zero-tolerance policies.

Interestingly, zero-tolerance policies were the result of the Gun-Free Schools Act of 1994, an act that required states that received federal funds to mandate that local school districts expel students who bring a weapon to school for a minimum of one year. As a result every school made their own interpretation of how to handle less severe offenses, such as bringing drugs to school, as well as over-the-counter medication.

  • 94 percent of American schools have zero-tolerance policies for weapons or firearms
  • 87 percent for alcohol
  • 79 percent for violence or tobacco

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