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Thursday, November 27, 2014

Thanksgiving 2014

The holidays can be a difficult time for those in recovery, especially in new recovery; many feelings may arise that can be trying. The stress of the holidays is often times a catalyst for relapse; so it is important to stay connected with your support network even if you are out of you local area for the holidays. There are resources available to help you stay linked to the 12-step community. In many cases there are meeting houses that are holding a meeting every hour throughout the day.

Whether you are traveling or staying in your area, we have listed below some resources that may be helpful, if you find yourself struggling or feel the need to reach out to others who might be having a hard time and you want to help.

Alcoholics Anonymous

Narcotics Anonymous

On Thanksgiving 2014, there are hundreds of meeting happening in the Orange County area, you can find information on meetings here, and if you need help you can call the 24 Hour Hotline: (714) 556-4555

At Hope by the Sea we wish everyone a safe and sober holiday. If you find yourself in trouble please do not hesitate to call for help, you are not alone.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Quitting Cigarettes Harder for Heavy Drinkers

It is often the case that alcohol and cigarettes go hand in hand, there isn’t a bar in the United States that doesn’t have a smoking area near one of the establishment's exits. In many cases, when people are asked if they smoke, a common response heard is, ‘only when I drink.’ In fact, new research suggests that smokers who drink heavily have a tougher time quitting cigarettes than smokers who drink moderately or not at all.

The study, conducted by researchers at the Yale Cancer Center and Yale School of Medicine, found that using tobacco-oriented telephone counseling to help people with hazardous drinking habits quit, can also help smokers. The researchers defined hazardous drinking as a weekly consumption of at least 14 drinks for men and seven drinks for women at least once in the past year.

The researchers point out the need for telephonic counseling quitline programs, research indicates that hazardous-drinking smokers are at a greater risk of developing several types of cancer and other serious health problems, than smokers who drink less. The researchers determined that 20% of all tobacco quitline callers drink at hazardous levels, said the study’s principal investigator, Benjamin A. Toll, associate professor of psychiatry and program director of the Smoking Cessation Service at Smilow Cancer Hospital at Yale in New Haven.

“This was the first quitline study to offer alcohol intervention counseling to hazardous drinking smokers, and we found that the quitline coaches can be trained to counsel that group effectively to improve smoking cessation and limit alcohol use,” Toll said. “If quitlines across the country use this method, we could reach millions of people seeking help.”

The research was supported by the:
  • National Institutes of Health
  • National Cancer Institute
  • National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism
  • New York State Department of Health
  • Connecticut State Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services
The study was published in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology.

Yale News

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Opioid Dependent Pregnant Women

While the overall rate of opioid dependent pregnant women is low, 0.39 percent, new research suggests that the percentage of opioid dependent pregnant women more than doubled from 1998 to 2011, HealthDay reports.

The rise in opioid dependent mothers is the direct result of prescription opioid epidemic in America. Over prescribing of drugs, such as oxycodone and hydrocodone, has trickled into every corner of life, even babies are at risk of being born dependent on those powerful narcotics.

The study looked at the use of prescription painkillers, as well as illegal opioids, by mothers, such as:
  • Hydrocodone
  • Oxycodone
  • Morphine
  • Methadone
  • Heroin
Researchers from Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston analyzed data on almost 57 million deliveries between 1998 and 2011. The findings showed that women dependent on opioids were more likely to deliver by cesarean section and have extended hospital stays. Opioid dependent mothers were almost five times as likely to die during hospitalization, according to the article. Babies born to opioid dependent mothers were twice as likely to be stillborn, premature and have poor growth. Mothers were three times as likely to experience placental abruption, a condition where the placenta separates from the wall of the uterus prematurely.

“This increase in opioid abuse and dependence in the pregnant population is happening along with that in the general population,” Lead researcher Dr. Lisa Leffert said. “These women were more likely to deliver by cesarean and have extended hospital stays.”

The findings are published in the journal Anesthesiology.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Researchers Work to Develop CBD Drugs

Researchers are working to develop prescription drugs that act like marijuana, but do not get the patient high, according to The Boston Globe. A number of medical cases have shown that isolating an active ingredient in marijuana, cannabidiol (CBD), has great promise for treating a number of medical conditions without the euphoric effects of THC, another active ingredient in the plant.

Two Massachusetts researchers have received federal grants to work on developing a process for manufacturing pharmaceutical-quality CBD, and to create a synthetic compound that will be medically beneficial without getting patients high, the article reports. It is believed that by harnessing CBD’s, such drugs will have the potential to treat conditions including:
  • Seizures
  • Psychiatric Disorders
  • Glaucoma
  • Inflammation
  • Chronic Pain
GW Pharmaceuticals has developed a drug which contains a CBD extract that has shown promise in reducing seizures in some children and young adults. Patients taking the experimental drug have had a reduction in seizures by at least half.

While there is a lot of interest into groundbreaking drugs containing CBD’s, marijuana is still illegal on the federal level, which makes it difficult to conduct studies on a national level. However, Aphios Corporation, a Massachusetts-based biotechnology company, has been granted access to the government’s research-grade marijuana to conduct studies. The company will work on developing CBD drugs for researchers to use for study purposes.

“There is a lot of interest from the medical marijuana marketplace, and that is pushing institutions to try and investigate why these things are working and how well are they working,” said Trevor Castor, Chief Executive at Aphios.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

ACLU Decriminalizing Drug Possession

Decriminalizing drug possession is one sure way of reducing the stigma of addiction. In the United States our jails and prisons have become overcrowded due to draconian drug laws, which systematically created career criminals out of suffering people. Earlier this year, following U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder’s testimony in favor of reducing drug sentences, the U.S. Sentencing Commission voted to reduce the base offense for drug offenders caught with various amounts of drugs.

Taking the move one step further, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLUS) plans to refocus its efforts away from marijuana legalization to decriminalizing drug possession, according to U.S. News & World Report.

There are now four states that allow recreational marijuana use, which has prompted the ACLU to change its position. “What the marijuana legalization votes tell us is the door is open to reconsidering all of our drug laws,” said Alison Holcomb, National Director of the ACLU’s new nationwide campaign against “mass incarceration.”

The ACLU movement will be funded by a $50 million grant from billionaire George Soros’ Open Society Foundations. 

 Last week, California voters approved Proposition 47 by 58 percent. Prop. 47 lowers penalties for drug possession and other nonviolent crimes. It also allows the reclassification of felony drug convictions to misdemeanors and calls for sentencing reductions for current inmates.

“When it comes to criminal justice and drug policy, Americans are thinking differently about these issues,” says Lenore Anderson, a co-author of Proposition 47. “The main message for policymakers is some of the old ways of thinking around prison-first policies and using the criminal justice system to deal with something like drug addiction is something the public doesn’t think is wise anymore.”

The ACLU plans to repeat the success of Prop. 47 in other states. 

“Hopefully we will be able to find states where we can go further and say, ‘Let’s decriminalize the possession of drugs and let’s talk about what we can do to address drug use and abuse,’” Holcomb said.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Moderate Alcohol Consumption and Coronary Heart Disease

In the past, some researchers have argued that consuming low amounts of alcohol was good for the heart, despite the dangers that are usually associated with consuming alcohol. While new research confirms that moderate alcohol consumption can protect against coronary heart disease, research indicates that alcohol only protects about 15% of the population that have a particular genotype, according to Science Daily.

The study was conducted at Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg, where researchers observed 618 Swedes with coronary heart disease and a control group of 3,000 healthy subjects. The participants were separated into different groups based on their alcohol consumption. They were then tested for a particular genotype (CETP TaqIB) that had been identified in previous studies as being linked to the health benefits of alcohol consumption. The researchers found that moderate alcohol consumption protected against coronary heart disease only when the CETP TaqIB genotype was present.

"In other words, moderate drinking has a protective effect among only 15% of the general population," says Professor Dag Thelle, Professor Emeritus at Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg.

Researchers believe that alcohol may somehow affect the CETP in a way that benefits cardio-protective HDL cholesterol. An alternative hypothesis is that alcohol contains healthy, protective antioxidants.

"Our study represents a step in the right direction," Professor Thelle says, "but a lot more research is needed. Assuming that we are able to describe these mechanisms, it may be a simple matter one day to perform genetic testing and determine whether someone belongs to the lucky 15%. That would be useful to know when offering advice on healthy alcohol consumption. But the most important thing is to identify new means of using the body's resources to prevent coronary heart disease."

Researchers conclude that advising people that moderate alcohol consumption is good for you is far too sweeping, the article reports.

The results were published in Alcohol.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Early Recovery Insomnia May Lead to Relapse

Early recovery can be especially trying, a time where the risk of relapse is especially high. Treating the disease of addiction requires that both the mind and the body be closely monitored. A new report has found that insomnia, a common occurrence in early recovery, may lead to a heightened risk of relapse.

Problems with sleep may persist for months or even years after becoming sober, MedicalXpress reports. The prevalence of insomnia in early recovery may be five times higher than in the general population, according to researchers.

“Treating sleep disturbance in early recovery may have considerable impact on maintenance of sobriety and quality of life,” study co-author Dr. Nicholas Rosenlicht of the University of San Francisco said in a news release.

Many alcoholics have used alcohol to help them sleep, despite the fact that alcohol actually can disrupt one’s sleep patterns. What’s more, previous research suggests that people who struggle to sleep are more likely to be at risk of developing addiction in the first place, the article notes.

The researchers point out that whether treating insomnia can reduce a person’s risk of relapse is unclear. Many doctors frown upon prescribing insomnia medications to recovering patients. Drugs like Lunesta and Ambien can easily be abused, which can aid in restarting the cycle of addiction.

Doctors can encourage their patients to keep track of their sleep patterns with a daily sleep diary, as well as identify and work to correct thinking and beliefs that may contribute to insomnia. They can teach their patients ways to promote good sleep, through explaining the benefits of exercise, eating healthy, and discouraging napping.

"Treatment of insomnia after abstinence represents an important treatment target and an integral part of any recovery plan," Dr Rosenlicht and coauthors conclude.

The findings appear in the Journal of Addiction Medicine.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

19 Percent of Americans Suffer from Chronic Pain

A new study, which surveyed about 35,000 American households, found that 19 percent of Americans suffer from chronic pain, HealthDay reports. Participants were asked if they suffer from chronic pain, defined as constant or frequent pain that lasts for at least three months.

While, opioids like hydrocodone, oxycodone and morphine can be helpful in treating chronic pain, they should only be used on a short-term basis, says Jae Kennedy of Washington State University in Spokane and study author. “We are clearly overusing opioids [narcotics],” Kennedy said.

“The U.S. consumes about 80 percent of the world’s opioid supply, and 99 percent of the hydrocodone supply. These medications are effective in the short term, [such as] for managing postoperative pain, but long-term use often leads to dependency or addiction.”

The findings showed that a good portion of those surveyed who reported having arthritis or back and joint pain, said they did not have constant and persistent pain. More than two-thirds of participants who reported chronic pain said their pain was constant, and more than half claimed that their pain levels could be unbearable and excruciating at times. Researchers concluded that women and the elderly are most likely to have constant pain.

“If you’re dealing with pain constantly for a long period of time, that’s going to affect your work life, your family life, your social life. It also puts you at higher risk for things like mental illness and addiction,” Kennedy said in a news release.

It is worth pointing out that narcotic opioids are not always helpful for many people with chronic pain, according to Bob Twillman, Director of Policy and Advocacy for the American Academy of Pain Management. “Those medications are wonderful when they work, but on average, they only relieve about a third or less of the chronic pain people experience, and may be completely ineffective in treating some kinds of chronic pain,” Twillman said.

 The study appears in the Journal of Pain.

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