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Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Recovery Enhancement for Addiction Treatment Act

As 2015 comes to a close, lawmakers across the country are already planning how they will deal with the prescription opioid and heroin epidemic that continues to take people's lives every day. New England has quickly become the epicenter of the heroin scourge in America, which has led many politicians to call for greater access to evidence based addiction treatments. Governors throughout the region are calling for Congressional leaders to amend federal law, allowing for medication assisted treatment (MAT) to be more widely available, The Bulletin reports.

The Drug Abuse Treatment Act of 2000 prohibits nurse practitioners from prescribing medications, such as Suboxone (buprenorphine), a drug which helps opioid addicts detox and prevent relapse.

The Recovery Enhancement for Addiction Treatment Act would give nurse practitioners and physician assistants the ability to treat up to 100 patients per year with buprenorphine. Connecticut Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, with the support of local health and addiction professionals, drafted the letter which called for the changes, according to the article.

The letter was signed by:
  • Gov. Peter Shumlin of Vermont
  • Gov. Charlie Baker of Massachusetts
  • Gov. Paul LePage of Maine
  • Gov. Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire
  • Gov. Gina Raimondo of Rhode Island
“Nationally, 53 percent of primary care physicians work with nurse practitioners or physician assistants. By ignoring this important and successful partnership in the treatment of addiction, we significantly limit access to MAT,” Malloy states in the letter. “Building on this strong partnership between physician and nonphysician providers is vital in expanding access to effective treatment. The need has never been greater, as the number of people seeking treatment is continuing to grow.” 

If you are struggling with opioid addiction, it is paramount that you seek help, with everyday of continued use there is a greater likelihood of an overdose. Recovery is possible with hard work and dedication, and the assistance of professionals trained to teach you how to live a life free from all mind altering substances. If your New Year’s resolution is to break the cycle of addiction, at Hope by The Sea we can help you make that goal become a reality.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Overdose Survivors Are Still Prescribed Opioids

In the late 1990s doctors began prescribing opioid painkillers at an unprecedented rate, which was the result of policy changes regarding the treatment of chronic pain. While many people's pain was being adequately managed, the upsurge in prescribing brought addiction and overdoses in its wake. You may think that when a patient overdoses on the prescription opioids and survives that their doctor would attempt to manage their pain differently - it would seem logical. But you would be incorrect with that line of thinking.

In fact, new research suggests that over ninety percent of patients hospitalized for an overdose, continue to be written prescriptions for opioids after the event, CBS News reports. The findings come from an analysis of a large commercial insurance claims database, which includes information on 50 million people. The researchers looked at 12-year period.

"I was surprised. I thought we'd see a number that was shocking but this is more than we thought," said lead author Dr. Marc LaRochelle, an attending physician in the department of General Internal Medicine at Boston Medical Center, and assistant professor of medicine at Boston University School of Medicine. 

The researchers found that seventy percent of patients who survived an opioid overdose continued to be written prescriptions from the same physician who prescribed the opioids they overdosed on, according to the article. It could be easy to hold doctors at fault for continuing to prescribe; however, most overdose cases are not reported to the doctor who prescribed the drug. The burden falls on the health care system and lack of communication.

"We need to do something at a policy level and a system level to make sure information is being communicated and better tools are developed to identify and intervene on patients who have risky use and are at high risk for having problems,” said LaRochelle. 

The findings were published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Maintaining Your Recovery On Christmas Day

With Christmas less than two days away, and everyone rushing to get the last of their gifts, stress may be building. Christmas is, for many, the most important day of the year, but despite that it can also be one of the most stressful days. While everyone wants to spend time with their loved ones, eat food and be merry, for a number of people being around their family can be difficult - especially for those in recovery. Christmas, like any major holiday, typically involves an admixture of family and too much alcohol, so it makes sense that people in recovery find it a challenge to navigate on the road of recovery during the special day.

It cannot be overemphasized how important staying close to one’s sponsor, either in person or by phone, is for maintaining a program of recovery during the holiday. It is quite common for people who are new to recovery to find themselves in sticky situations during Christmas, environments that could compromise one’s program. Talking to your sponsor or recovery peers about your plans for the day will help you determine if you are putting yourself at risk. Everyone wants to be with their family on Christmas, but for some it may not safe and finding a healthy alternative is of the utmost importance.

It may not be healthy to be around one’s family for lengthy periods of time - especially when alcohol is likely to be present. Fortunately, you can open presents and have a bite to eat, and then explain to your family that it is important that you focus on your recovery for the rest of the day. 12-step meetings will be taking place throughout the holiday and everyone in recovery should make a concerted effort to attend a meeting - or several meetings for that matter. It is quite common for people in early recovery to attend multiple meetings on Christmas day, if you find yourself struggling - meetings can make all the difference.

While your recovery peers are not your capital “F” family, they are a collective of people working together towards the same ends which makes them a family. Being around a group of people with the common goal of living free from drugs and alcohol can be of comfort during the holidays, and can be the catalyst for creating new holiday rituals and traditions that do not involve getting drunk or high. One of the beautiful aspects of addiction recovery is that you are able to form new and meaningful bonds that can last a lifetime. 

Hope By The Sea would like to wish everyone a safe and sober Christmas. We understand that the holidays can be a difficult time, but it is possible to make it through the day without drinking or using. If you find yourself struggling, do not hesitate to reach out for help.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Letting Teenagers Drink Leads to More Drinking

In the United States, we view the use of alcohol by teenagers different than they do in Europe. Our approach is that it is against the law for people under the age of 21 to consume alcohol, whereas in Europe the legal drinking age is 18, but minors can legally drink alcohol with parents or friends as long as it is provided free of charge. The European modality is based on the idea that teens can learn to drink responsibly through parental guidance, and that making less of deal about alcohol will deter use by de-mystifying the substance. However, while that mode of thinking may work for some, it turns out that in many cases the European mindset can have the opposite effect.

New research suggests that middle-class parents who allow their children to use alcohol are not protecting them from becoming problem drinkers, The Guardian reports. What’s more, teenagers who come from more affluent families were twice as likely to regularly consume alcohol, compared to teenagers from poorer backgrounds. The findings are important because regular alcohol use during the teenage years increases the risk of problematic use in adulthood - potentially leading to a substance use disorder.

The findings come from a study of 120,000 teens published by the Health and Social Care Information Centre. The researchers found that around 70% of 15-year-olds from affluent backgrounds had tried alcohol, according to the article. The findings showed that approximately half of 15-year olds from deprived backgrounds had tried alcohol. Teenagers from wealthy families were more likely to continue drinking after first trying alcohol.

Teenage use of alcohol can have lasting effects on the brain, and limit one’s potential in life. The brains of teenagers are still developing, and parents should not underestimate the potential damage alcohol can cause, says Dr Sarah Jarvis, medical adviser to the alcohol education charity, Drinkaware.

“Alcohol can harm young people while they are still developing, which is why the UK chief medical officers say an alcohol-free childhood is the best option,” said Jarvis. “Young people’s brains are still developing, and they may be more vulnerable to long-term effects on brain and educational achievement than adults, even if they drink within government-recommended upper limits for adults.”

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Marijuana Use and Employment

There is no question as to whether Americans are becoming more tolerant of marijuana use, despite the fact that the drug is still illegal on the federal level. The District of Columbia and 23 states now have medical marijuana programs in place, and four of those states have legalized the drug for recreational use among adults. While there is still a lot of we do not know about the drug with regard to both short/long term side effects, as well as the drug's propensity for addiction, research has shown some promise with regard to the treatment of health problems.

However, a number of people fail to understand that while the drug is more accepted than ever, it can still have a negative effect on one’s life, leading to dependence and/or addiction. Just because marijuana is now legal in several places, with more states expected to follow, does not mean it is safe; alcohol and tobacco are legal for adults, but use and misuse can lead to addiction and life threatening health disorders.

People who use marijuana should also be aware that, unlike alcohol and tobacco, an employer has grounds to fire you for both medical and recreational marijuana use. In fact, data indicates that many employers in states where marijuana is legal will not hire people who use marijuana on their own time, Bloomberg Business reports. The findings come from a survey conducted by the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM).

“There is what I consider to be a significant number of employers that are saying they wouldn’t hire an employee that uses marijuana,” said Evren Esen, Director of Survey Programs at SHRM.

The survey, which involved 623 human resources managers in states where marijuana is legal, showed that:
  • Nearly half of the employers have, or plan to implement policies, which restrict employing marijuana users.
  • 38 percent will not hire people who use medical marijuana.
  • Only six percent have a policy which only excludes recreational users.
Employers are able to refuse to hire or fire existing employees for marijuana use because the drug is still illegal under federal law, according to the article. Marijuana users should beware of the consequences that can accompany use of the drug.

If your marijuana use is interfering with your life, please contact Hope by The Sea.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

2014 Overdose Death Rates

Well, the numbers are in for 2014 and they are far from promising. Nearly 50,000 Americans lost their lives due to overdoses in 2014, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The rate of overdoses rose seven percent from the year before. Prescription opioids and heroin accounted for the bulk of deaths.

The findings should be a call to action for lawmakers who are still unsure about providing greater access to the life saving drug naloxone, which was recently approved by the Food and Drug Administration in nasal spray kit. Naloxone has the power to reverse the effects of an opioid overdose, provided the drug is administered in time.

Close to 19,000 of the more than 47,000 deaths last year were the result of prescription opioid overdoses, a 16 percent rise from 2013, the Associated Press reports. Heroin overdoses rose 28 percent, to about 10,500. The nation's drug overdose problem "is not getting better," says CDC Director Tom Frieden. He added that the agency is looking over the data in an attempt to establish a cause for the dramatic increase.

A possible cause for some of the increase of overdose deaths could be illegally made fentanyl, a relatively easy to make synthetic opioid about 100 times stronger than morphine, and 30-50 times more powerful than heroin. Mexican cartels have been synthesizing the powerful narcotic in clandestine labs, of late, and the drug is often mixed into heroin batches to increase potency. Heroin users who are unaware of the mixture are at great risk of overdose; across the country many have succumb to the lethal combination.

Opioids are highly addictive, and difficult to break free from without help. Without medically supervised detoxification, many addicts quickly relapse finding the pain of detox too hard to bear. Overdoses often occur after someone has been clean for several days and returns to using. Failing to adjust one’s dosage after being drug free briefly, is a sure way to overdose.

At Hope by The Sea, we offer a residential detoxification program that aids in cleansing a person's mind, body, and spirit. Once free from the withdrawal symptoms, addicts are able to begin learning how to live a life of recovery. If you or a loved one would like to begin the journey of recovery, please contact our treatment facility.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Prescribing Stimulants To Children

Children being diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is fairly common in the United States, and usually involves the prescribing of stimulant medications such as Adderall or Ritalin. Historically, boys have been diagnosed with the condition more than girls, and whites more than Hispanics, but the reasons for this are not clear as of now. However, new research indicates that the trend may be reversing.

Researchers from George Washington University have found that children diagnosed with ADHD is on the rise among girls and Hispanic children, HealthDay reports. The research indicated that the rate of ADHD among all children ages 5 to 17 increased 43 percent from 2003 to 2011.

"But what struck us the most were the increases among girls and Hispanic children," said senior researcher Sean Cleary, an associate professor of epidemiology and biostatistics at George Washington University. 

Girls being diagnosed with ADHD increased by 55 percent over the course of the research period. At the conclusion of the study, more than 7 percent of girls had ever been diagnosed with the condition. The increase among Hispanic was even more pronounced, with ADHD diagnoses rising 83 percent, compared with 46 percent among white children.

The researchers are currently unsure as to the causes for the shift among girls and Hispanic adolescents, according to the article. Cleary is not sure if the results indicate an actual rise in ADHD incidences, or indicates a tendency to over-diagnose the disorder. He points out that boys symptoms are typically more overt, which could have led to an underdiagnosis among girls. The rise among Hispanics may be linked to the demographic having greater access to mental health resources in Spanish. The findings are published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry.

It is vital that researchers determine the reason for the rise in ADHD diagnoses. While stimulant medications have proven effective in treating the condition, the drugs used are narcotics and have the potential for abuse and/or addiction. Parents whose children have been diagnosed should move forward with caution. Prescription stimulants have a tendency of being diverted; people who are not prescribed such medications use them to gain an edge in school or for prolonged partying energy during the weekends.

If you or a loved one are abusing prescription stimulants, such as Adderall, please contact Hope By The Sea. We offer an affordable drug rehab program in California's coastal Orange County area to help amphetamine addicts begin the recovery process.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Facebook Connections and College Alcohol Use

Social media can give researchers data that on scale no before thought possible. Over the last year, addiction researchers have turned to internet applications like Instagram and Facebook to gather data. If you think about it, social media acts like a window into the lives of young people; multiple times throughout the day, teenagers and young adults post their activities to such sites. Analyzing posts can help researchers establish patterns of drug and alcohol use.

At the University of Georgia, researchers have established ties between certain patterns of connections among Facebook friends and substance use among college-aged females, ScienceDaily reports. Assaf Oshri, a developmental psychologist and assistant professor in the human development and family science department within UGA’s College of Family and Consumer Sciences, researched the connection between childhood experiences and the development of risky behaviors in adolescents and young adults. The research team looked at the Facebook accounts of 318 female students enrolled at UGA.

"Leveraging social media to understand risk for addiction is a new, emerging frontier," said James MacKillop, study co-author and director of the Peter Boris Centre for Addictions Research at McMaster University in Ontario, Canada. "Platforms like Facebook provide us with new ways to characterize social networks' influences on healthy and unhealthy behavior." 

The researchers found that the “severity of child physical abuse” was associated with how central one is in their social network, and could increase the risk for alcohol abuse, according the article. The study showed that:
  • Childhood physical abuse was associated with having more densely interconnected groups of Facebook friends, a trend linked to a higher risk for alcohol use and problems.
  • Childhood sexual abuse was linked to more loosely interconnected groups of Facebook friends, dominated by a few friends, a trend linked to a decrease in alcohol use and problems.
  • The more a Facebook user's friends are also friends with one another, the greater the chance that she would misuse alcohol.
  • Students found to be “less important or less connected” with their networks peers were more likely to use alcohol.
"If you try to describe the relationship between early child abuse to risk behavior such as substance abuse, it's interesting to know that online social networks play a role in this mechanism," Oshri said. "It's important to note that this is a correlational study, not experimental, so any causal association should not be made out of this data." 

The findings appear in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs.

If you or a loved one is a college age female who has suffered from childhood abuse and is misusing drugs or alcohol, please contact Hope By The Sea. Childhood abuse can result in post traumatic stress disorders (PTSD), when coupled with substance abuse, treatment requires addressing both co-occurring disorders. Our addiction treatment team is equipped to assess and treat both issues, developing customized treatment programs that target a client’s particular needs.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Bad Batch of Synthetic Marijuana in Southern California

People continue to use controversial synthetic drugs, such as bath salts and Spice (synthetic marijuana), despite the persistent onslaught of reports in the news about the dangers their use. Synthetic drugs are manufactured with little oversight, and even less testing to determine the effects the drugs might have on humans. Naturally, without checks and balances the chemicals used to make the drugs are likely to produce unpredictable side effects - often requiring hospitalization.

In California, the sale of synthetic marijuana like Spice or K2 is illegal, yet people still find ways to get their hands on the dangerous products. In the last 2 weeks of November, over 24 people needed medical attention in the San Diego area after using a bad batch of Spice, Fox5 reports. The synthetic cannabinoid, according to police officials, came in a black package with blue dragons on the side.

The most recent incident involved 12 juveniles and adults who required medical attention after they experienced a number of adverse symptoms. San Diego Police Department Sgt. Ray Battrick said the side effects users experienced included unconsciousness, headaches, and violent vomiting. Some of the patients were in critical condition after overdosing on the bad batch.

Several arrests have been made in connection with the incidents, according to the article. The San Diego Police Department is asking that anyone with information on the drug or its makers come forward. Call 619-531-2000 - all reports can be made anonymously.

You can watch a short video on the incident below:

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

Synthetic drugs are hardly safe, in any form, and many users are of the opinion that the drugs are legal. Synthetic drug manufacturers are constantly altering the formula of the chemicals, in order to stay ahead of government bans. This means that users have no way of knowing what kind of side effects to expect. What’s more, synthetic drugs can be addictive, requiring treatment to recover. If you, or a loved one, are using synthetic drugs, please contact Hope by The Sea for help.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Addiction Research: There’s an App for That

Ten years ago, none of us could've imagined the role that cellular phones would have in our lives, short of making phone calls. At an exponential rate, smartphones have found their way into practically all aspects of day to day life. We turn to our phones to get the time and weather, we rely on them for breaking news reports and to check the stock market; exercise enthusiasts monitor their calorie intake and how many steps they take from one day to the next. We no longer need to be given directions, our phones will not only route our trip - they even tells when to turn.

The possibilities for smartphones seem endless, with new apps being developed and released every day. While the devices certainly make our lives easier, they may be able to do so much more - providing researchers real time insight at a fraction of the cost of traditional data gathering methods. Earlier this year, Apple released its ResearchKit platform allowing researchers to conduct clinical studies on a massive scale. The National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA) will award funds to researchers who use the ResearchKit to build apps for addiction research, Fortune reports. Research teams that are able to provide working apps by April 2016 will be awarded $100,000.

Historically, researchers conducting studies had to recruit volunteers at colleges and through advertisements. Such methods limits the reach a particular study can have, because they require people to check in periodically in person. Using apps on smartphones and smart watches will exponentially increase the reach studies can have, allowing many more people to participate. What’s more, such devices can read biometric data from the participants, allowing researchers to augment survey answers, according to the article.

The NIDA challenge “Addiction Research: There’s an App for that” is a clear sign that the National Institute of Health (NIH) sees the potential of mobile health data. The NIH is not alone in their desire to use Apple’s ResearchKit framework, a number of hospitals and medical institutions have expressed interest, including Johns Hopkins and Stanford Medicine.

The federal register notice states:

“NIDA is seeking to engage communities to envision and to create an app which will help advance scientific research in areas of nicotine, opioids, cannabinoids (including marijuana), methamphetamines, and prescription drug use.”

At Hope By The Sea, we offer several different types of treatment programs, allowing us to serve and customize treatment for more people than other treatment facilities. If you or a loved one is struggling with a substance use disorder, please contact us to begin the journey of recovery.

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