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Monday, April 29, 2013

Jackie and Warren Hance: Loss, Grief And Moving Forward

List of crossings of Fishkill Creek
 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
"There is a sacredness in tears. They are not the mark of weakness, but of power. They speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues. They are the messengers of overwhelming grief, of deep contrition, and of unspeakable love."  Washington Irving (1783-1859)

Remembering that fateful day, July 26, 2009, on the Taconic Parkway

In the Summer and Fall 2009 and going forward, we wrote a number of posts about the fatal accident that took place on July 26, 2009, on the Taconic Parkway in New York State. Eight people in all died in this accident which appeared to be caused by the driver being under the influence of alcohol and marijuana and then entering the parkway going the wrong way. Our posts served as a way for us to follow the story and to try present factual information as it was uncovered.

The power of grief

Experiencing grief is a very normal human emotion. Part of the natural process of grief is to learn to understand our loss, accept the loss and without forgetting we move forward. But sometimes grief becomes complicated and a person can find themselves suffering from depression...constantly looking for answers as to why they lost their loved one and questioning what they may have done to have prevented the loss.

Many people whose lives are impacted by the disease of addiction find themselves grieving and looking for answers to questions that may be very difficult to discover. It is for this reason that at Hope By The Sea we offer a Family Program and a section of the program schedule deals with grief and learning to let go.

NBC's Rock Center offers interview with Jackie Hance

This past Friday, NBC's Rock Center offered an extended interview by Ann Curry with Jackie Hance and her husband Warren Hance. The interview gives insight as to what these parents have experienced over the last three plus years following the deaths of their three young daughters in that horrific automobile accident. We invite you to watch both segments of the interview.

If you are having trouble viewing the video, you can see it here.

If you are having trouble viewing the video, you can see it here.

Jackie and Warren Hance focus of ways to help others and moving forward

You may also be interested in two ways that Jackie and Warren Hance are working to make a difference after suffering the loss of their three little daughters.  Jackie has written a book "I'll See You Again" which was released on April 23, 2013. According to Amazon:

I’ll See You Again chronicles the day Jackie received the traumatizing phone call that defied all understanding, and the numbed and torturous events that followed—including the devastating medical findings that shattered Jackie to the core and shocked America. But this profoundly honest account is also the story of how a tight-knit community rallied around the Hances, providing the courage and strength for them to move forward. It’s a story of forgiveness, hope, and rebirth, as Jackie and Warren struggle to rediscover the possibility of joy by welcoming their fourth daughter, Kasey Rose Hance.  

Additionally, the Hances have also established The Hance Family Foundation which honors the lives of three beautiful sisters by ensuring healthy, happy, and safe children through innovative self-esteem educational programming and the support of children in need.

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Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Parents: Have A Conversation With Your Teens About Prescription Drug Abuse

The power of conversation

When we really stop and think about it parenting is really all about conversations. This is how we communicate with our children. We have conversations which allow us to teach our children about everything. It is our gentle coaxing that prompts our baby to take his or her first step. Parents encourage their children to try new types of food from the first taste of cereal to eating peas. Parents caution their children to avoid dangerous items in a home, like electrical plugs or a hot stove. All of these learning experiences involve conversations, two-way conversations, questions and answers. As parents we move through monologues to dialogues with our children.

Conversations with our children evolve to include those about alcohol and drugs...

Sometimes conversations with our children about alcohol and drugs come very early in life. This may happen because one parent suffers from the disease of addiction or maybe some other loved one's life has been impacted by the disease. Circumstances like this may prompt a parent to start the conversation. Many United States school districts offer a Drug Abuse Resistance Education (D.A.R.E.) program to their sixth graders. So if a parent has not started the conversations about alcohol and drugs by the time their child reaches sixth grade, there is a pretty good chance that their child's participation in D.A.R.E. will trigger this conversation. 

These conversations may vary. They may start out as informative and then proceed to more engaging talk about the parent's own experimentation with drinking alcohol and using illicit drugs. Many parents weigh the efficacy of whether they should admit to having smoked pot when they were in high school, college, or even later in life. Do you admit to your child that you drank alcohol in high school? Do you tell your child that you smoked cigarettes? Or do you attempt to keep the conversation on a much higher level, so as not to encourage your child to conclude "well, Mom and Dad drank alcohol before they turned 21 and even tried pot...and they turned out okay...so what's the harm?"

New study shows parents will talk about alcohol and illicit drugs, but avoid conversation about prescription drugs...

This week The Partnership at Drugfree.org released a report of a study their organization completed with a sponsorship from MetLife Foundation. This study involved surveying 3,884 teenagers in ninth through 12th grade. The surveys were anonymous questionnaires completed between February and June 2012. 817 adults were surveyed from August 2012 through October 2012. The margin of error for the teenagers surveyed was +/- 2.1 percentage points, while the margin of error for surveyed adults was +/- 3.4 percentage points.

According to the The Associated Press the study found:
  • When teens were asked about the last substance abuse conversation they had with their parents, just 14 percent said they talked about abusing a prescription drug.
  • By comparison, most teens - 81 percent - said they have talked about the risks of marijuana use with their parents. 
  • Almost the same number said they have discussed alcohol with their parents. 
  • Almost one-third said they have talked about crack and cocaine. 
  • One in six parents said using prescription drugs to get high is safer than using street drugs, according to the survey. 
  • Almost one-third of the parents said attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) medications such as Ritalin or Adderall can improve a child's academic or testing performance even if the teen does not have ADHD.
  • One in four teens in the study said they had misused or abused a prescription drug at least once. That's up sharply, a 33 percent increase, in the last five years. 
  • One in eight teens report misusing or abusing the drugs Ritalin or Adderall - stimulants prescribed to treat ADHD.

Going forward with the conversation

Steve Pasierb, President and CEO of The Partnership at Drugfree.org, sums it up best:
“This new data is not about blaming parents. Rather, it’s an urgent call to action for them to use their immense power to help curb this dangerous behavior. It’s about missed opportunities to protect their kids by having direct conversations with them about the health risks of misusing and abusing medicines – and to then moving to safeguard the medicines in their own home. Parental apathy on this issue is contributing to the problem. Yet the same data show year in and year out that kids who learn a lot about the risks of drug use at home are up to half as likely to use as kids who don’t get that life-changing gift from their parents.”

Take the time to have the 'life-changing' conversation with your children. It is the best gift you can give your children. 
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Monday, April 22, 2013

Addiction Recovery And College Students

A text logo for Ohio State University
Logo for Ohio State University (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Getting sober and staying sober while in college

If you suffer from the disease of addiction and you are working a program of recovery, you may find that finding a community of recovery can offer challenges. This is particularly true if you are a college age student or if you are older and attempting to complete your college degree. Many in recovery have had to drop out of college when seeking treatment for alcoholism or addiction to other substances, so the prospect of re-entering college can difficult and you may find yourself keeping quiet about your disease. But this is exactly a time when you need a strong support network, so that you can continue to complete your goals of recovery and education.

Association of Recovery Schools

According to the Association of Recovery Schools (ARS) website their mission is clear:
The Association of Recovery Schools advocates for the promotion, strengthening, and expansion of secondary and post-secondary programs designed for students and families committed to achieving success in both education and recovery. ARS exists to support such schools which, as components of the recovery continuum of care, enroll students committed to being abstinent from alcohol and other drugs and working a program of recovery.

Ohio State offers a new program: Collegiate Recovery Community (CRC)

This week Ohio State announced that they offering a new program for students in recovery: Collegiate Recovery Community (CRC) which will focus on building a secure community focused on student encouragement and engagement. This will be a collaborative effort combining the expertise of those in the Counseling and Consultation Services, the University Residences and Dining Services.

According to the Ohio State University Newspaper - The Lantern
"The timing of this program is in line with national trends; institutions throughout the country are becoming more serious in how they serve the people in recovery. OSU has had services for those in drug and alcohol addiction recovery for years, but none have been as extensive as the CRC. “We’re trying to meet a current need,” said Amanda Blake, wellness coordinator for the SWC [Student Wellness Center]. “We’ve been providing services for students in recovery for a long time; we’re just trying to take it a step further now.” Modeled after a Texas Tech University recovery program, the CRC also borrows successful elements of other similar university programs, Blake said. According to one of Texas Tech’s formulas, it is estimated that OSU has 950 students in recovery, making a recovery program very worthwhile, Nerad said.

Hope Academy at Hope By The Sea

A number of years ago, the staff at Hope By The Sea realized that many young people in recovery want to get back to continuing their education. So we designed Hope Academy. We are excited to help our clients build their foundation of sobriety and to assist them through the wonderful adventure of higher education. Hope Academy is a unique program designed to transition clients from their addiction infused existence to one of a successful college student. We understand that each of our clients is anxious to get back into the “real world”; however, it is imperative that the client be properly guided to a position of responsible independence while keeping their main focus on recovery. The longer a client remains in a treatment environment, the greater the chance of long term sobriety. We are here to walk our clients through each phase of the college experience and establish his/her independence once again. Becoming a proficient student is a major focus of our program.

We are always pleased to learn about a new high school, community college, college or university that has an on-campus recovery community
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Wednesday, April 17, 2013

No More Generic Versions Of OxyContin

OxyContin continues to be one of the most coveted drugs amongst those who have a problem with opioids; however, one’s ability to abuse the drug in the traditional ways has become much harder. The drugs patent was set to expire on Tuesday.

On Tuesday, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced it will not approve any generic versions of the original form of OxyContin. A move that officials hope will prevent prescription drug abuse, Reuters reports.

In its original form OxyContin could easily be crushed and then snorted or injected. 

The FDA approved new labeling for a reformulated version of the drug, a label that indicates that OxyContin is more difficult to crush making it harder to abuse than the original version. OxyContin’s manufacturer, Purdue Pharma, introduced the tamper-resistant formula in 2010.

“The development of abuse-deterrent opioid analgesics is a public health priority for the FDA,” Douglas Throckmorton, MD, Deputy Director for Regulatory Programs in the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, said in a statement. “While both original and reformulated OxyContin are subject to abuse and misuse, the FDA has determined that reformulated OxyContin can be expected to make abuse by injection difficult and expected to reduce abuse by snorting compared to original OxyContin.”

Representative Hal Rogers of Kentucky, Co-Chairman of the Congressional Caucus on Prescription Drug Abuse, said, “This is a huge win for our region and for the thousands of families who have seen painkillers become pain makers. The FDA undoubtedly saved our nation from another deadly tidal wave of oxycodone abuse and overdoses.”
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Monday, April 15, 2013

Controversial Safe Injection Site Saves Lives

Insite logo
In a number of places throughout Europe there are safe injection sites that are funded by the government in an attempt to save lives. So far in North America the idea has only been accepted at one location and it probably comes as no surprise that it can be found in Vancouver, British Columbia. The government-sanctioned facility, called InSite, medically supervises the injection of illegal drugs - but not without controversy, according to CNN.

If one is addicted to an illegal drug they can safely bring and use the substance at the facility, without the risk of arrest. Upon entering the facility addicts are provided clean needles to reduce the spread of potentially legal infections, like HIV and hepatitis C; when administering the injection users are supervised by a nurse.

In 2011, The Lancet, a popular medical journal, published a study that found InSite reduced fatal overdoses by 35 percent in a neighborhood that has one of highest rates of drug addiction in the country.

Despite saving lives, the Canadian federal government is not in favor of the facility, reports CNN. Fortunately, the Canadian Supreme Court made a ruling that allowed InSite to stay open, which flew in the face of the federal government's hopes. InSite claims that for every tax dollar spent to keep InSite open, four are saved, by preventing more expensive medical care in the future.

Countries where "injection rooms" currently operate are:
  • Switzerland
  • Norway
  • Spain
  • Germany
  • Australia
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Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Are We Taking Too Many Prescription Medications?

"Get fat on Lorings Fat-ten-u and corpula...
"Get fat on Lorings Fat-ten-u and corpula foods"; "Advertisement showing young woman with package of Loring's Fat-Ten-U food tablets and package of Loring's Corpula, a fat-producting food." Color lithograph (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

"Direct to Consumer" prescription drug advertising

Today, while waiting in a doctor's office, we noticed a copy of the magazine WebMD. The cover featured a number of teasers about articles regarding food and recipes, pet health, fitness and exercise, and family and parenting to name a few. Paging through the magazine there were some advertisements for over-the-counter medicines like relief for diaper rash, cold sores, and canker sores. But there were also quite a few prescription drugs advertisements for very serious ailments: multiple sclerosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, rheumatoid arthritis, irregular heartbeat, and sleep disorders like narcolepsy or sleep apnea. You have probably seen many ads like this, as they can take up to three or four pages to explain the product, its possible side effects and safety information.

The truth is advertisements (printed and other media) for drugs are not something new. We came across an 84 year old magazine called The Review of Reviews which was published in the United States from 1891-1937.  Paging through the contents of the April 1929 issue we noticed a number of advertisements for drugs. These included: anti-acids, smelling salts, Absorbine Jr., bromo quinine, seasick remedies and aspirin.

A history of direct to consumer (DTC) prescription drug advertising

Depending on your age, you might think that direct-to-consumer advertising for prescription drugs via television ads, magazine ads, or internet sites has been around for many, many decades.  But you would be wrong. According to an article published by the Minnesota Medical Association:
"In 1997, DTC advertising took an important turn when the FDA loosened its requirements for broadcast DTC ads. The new rules, which were finalized in 1999, required that broadcast ads need only provide information about major risks instead of a brief summary of risks and warnings. Under the new requirement, ads must disclose the drug’s major risks and most common adverse effects in the audio or audio/visual parts of the presentation. In addition, DTC ads may make adequate provision for dissemination of package labeling information by referring consumers to a toll-free telephone number, a website, print ads, or their health care providers. The FDA identifies three types of DTC ads: 1) reminder ads that include no reference to the drug’s purpose, benefits, or risks, and that refer to the drug’s brand name only, 2) help-seeking ads that contain information about a disease or medical condition without mentioning the drug’s brand name, and 3) product-claim ads that include both the drug’s brand name and contraindications.6 Product-claim ads are the most common and controversial type of DTC advertising and are the ones regulated by the FDA."

 NBC Today Show posed the question: "Are we too reliant on prescription meds?"

Today's Hoda Kotb, Tom Costello and Dr. Gail Saltz discuss how Americans are taking more prescription medication than ever before.

If you are having trouble viewing the video, you can see it here.
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Monday, April 8, 2013

April Is Stress Awareness Month ~ How We Handle Stress Can Affect Our Mental Health

April is Stress Awareness Month

It seems that almost every day we read a news story that deals with stress, but during April there are many more articles about stress since 1992 April has been officially designated as Stress Awareness Month.

According to a Forbes article:
"With increasing research pointing to the impact of chronic stress on our bodies, healthcare concerns can’t help but manifest in the workplace impacting engagement, presenteeism, creativity, productivity and innovation. With heart conditions, hypertension and diabetes on the rise; fostering well-being at work is becoming more of a bottom-line issue." 

A new study points out that how we handle stress can affect our mental health

This month the results of a new study were published on-line in the Psychological Science Journal: The Wear and Tear of Daily Stressors on Mental Health. This study's lead author was Susan Charles, a professor of psychology and social behavior at the University of California-Irvine.

The study's parameters

According to the abstract, the researchers analyzed:
  • 711 men and women
  • The participants ranged in age from 25 to 74
  • The participants were interviewed two times 10 years apart
  • The original interviews took place every day for eight days, with the participants reporting stressors that occurred each day.
  • The participants were asked to report on the emotions they experienced like sadness, anxiety and/or worry.

The study's results

USA Today reports an overview of the study's results:
"People who responded to stress with more anxiety and sadness than the average person were much more likely to have self-reported anxiety/mood disorders and psychological distress 10 years later. These were people who didn't report mental health problems at the beginning of the study."

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Wednesday, April 3, 2013

New Drug for Treating Meth Shows Promise

Methamphetamine addiction has become one of the most puzzling forms of the disease. Experts across the country are tirelessly working to formulate a miracle drug for treating meth addicts. Researchers at UCLA have announced new findings regarding a drug they are studying that they believe will help treat methamphetamine addiction, The Huffington Post reports. The drug Ibudilast was used in a small study; the drug appeared to be safe and eased meth addiction.

11 people addicted to meth who were not seeking treatment took part in the new study. Some participants received the drug while others got a placebo. 

The trial was one of three phases of human testing that the FDA requires for approval. This phase was designed to evaluate the safety of the drug taken in combination with meth, the article notes.

“Very preliminary results would indicate that Ibudilast may dampen craving and improve cognitive functioning,” said Dr. Aimee Swanson, co-investigator on the trial and research director at the UCLA Center for Behavioral and Addiction Medicine.

Currently there are no drugs on the market approved to treat meth addiction, the article notes. 

“When we see people come to participate in the trial, it’s really their last resort,” Swanson said. “Many of them can no longer hold down a job, they have strained relationships with family members. Gone went the cars, gone went the business, gone went the house, gone went the kids. The main focus of this person’s life is using meth.”

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Prescription Drug Overdoses on the Rise

The prescription drug epidemic continues to ravage American homes with more and more people overdosing every day. In 2010 drug-related deaths increased 3 percent and preliminary figures indicate the upward trend continued in 2011, the Los Angeles Times reports.

The increase was largely driven by prescription painkillers such as oxycodone and hydrocodone. 

“While most things are getting better in the health world, this isn’t,” said Tom Frieden, Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which released the new figures. “It’s a big problem, and it’s getting worse,” he told the newspaper. “The data supporting long-term use of opiates for pain, other than cancer pain, is scant to nonexistent. These are dangerous drugs. They’re not proven to have long-term benefit for non-cancer pain, and they’re being used to the detriment to hundreds of thousands of people in this country.”

Overdose related deaths involving prescription painkillers rose to 16,651 in 2010. That represented 43 percent of all deadly overdoses. Frieden advocates utilizing a computerized drug monitoring systems that track prescriptions for painkillers and other commonly abused narcotics.

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