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Friday, November 17, 2017

Alcohol Impacts Neural Stem Cells

Alcohol is a caustic substance and alcohol use disorder is deadly. The substance may not get the attention it deserves, given that it is a vice that has been deemed legal. This means, essentially, that alcohol is safe if used appropriately. Unfortunately, people regularly use alcohol in harmful ways which results in addiction and premature death.

It’s important that everyone who drinks knows the risk, particularly young people prone to make poor decisions. Individuals who think that because something is legal, it can’t cause too much harm. Disabusing misconceptions about drinking is of vital necessity.

When many people consider the dangers of alcohol use, they usually think about what can go wrong when they imbibe. Making poor decisions is often a byproduct of heavy consumption, such as driving under the influence. Such individuals think that as long as they have a safe means of getting home, they may drink to excess. However, the substance can disrupt the course of any heavy drinker's life even if they take precautions.


Risks of Alcohol Not Printed On the Bottle

alcohol use disorderThe law mandates that alcohol manufacturers include warning labels on bottle labels. Don’t drink if you are pregnant, don’t operate heavy machinery, and so-on-and-so-forth. Occasionally one might see warnings about "booze" being habit-forming or that it carries risk of cancer; despite the fact that alcohol use is linked to several types of cancer.

Everyone is shocked by the number of opioid overdose deaths each (as they should be), but alcohol-related deaths will continue to surpass fatal overdoses. Around 100,000 Americans die of alcohol-related causes annually, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA). It’s worth pointing out that alcohol-related mortality is likely to be even higher.

Even if a person doesn’t meet the criteria for alcohol use disorder and practices sound judgment when they know they are going to be drinking, heavy drinking can cause serious damage. A new study suggests that prolonged, heavy drinking can affect the survival of neural stem cells (NSCs) in the brain impacting cognitive function, MNT reports. The research was published in the journal Stem Cell Reports.

"The discovery that the adult brain produces stem cells that create new nerve cells provides a new way of approaching the problem of alcohol-related changes in the brain," said Dr. Ping Wu, from the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston.

This new research is yet more evidence of the dangerous effect of alcohol, binge drinking, and heavy consumption. More study is needed to see how alcohol interacts with neural stem cells, which allow experts to better address alcohol use disorder in both male and females.


Alcohol Use Disorder Treatment

The longer heavy alcohol use persists, the more likely irreparable damage is to occur. Help is available if you or a loved one is struggling with alcohol use disorder. Please contact Hope by the Sea to begin the process of breaking the cycle of addiction.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Army Accepts Mental Illness Waivers

People who decide to join the military put themselves in position to experience many kinds of trauma. We’ve written on numerous occasions about the prevalence of post-traumatic stress disorder in the military. It’s a problem that can derail the course of one’s life long after soldiers leave the armed forces; left untreated, the repercussions are severe, those and afflicted regularly turn to drugs and alcohol to cope with their symptoms.

mnetal illnessMental illness going hand-in-hand with other forms of mental illness is understood well in the field of medicine. People with alcohol and substance use disorders are at high risk of developing co-occurring mental health conditions. Individuals with mental health disorders, such as depression or bipolar disorder, are at a higher risk of developing addiction compared to people who don’t meet such criteria.

With that in mind, you’d likely think that branches of the military would deny enlistment applications from people whose medical history includes mental illness. Historically, your assumption would be correct; however, to meet Army recruiting goals, exceptions will be made for specific people living with mental illness.


Mental Illness In The Military

In August, an unannounced policy was enacted allowing waivers for people with mental health conditions to enlist in the Army, USA Today reports. People with such histories must provide “appropriate documentation” to obtain the waiver, which can include a detailed statement from the applicant, medical records, and a psychiatric evaluation and “clearance.”

“It is a red flag,” said Retired Colonel Elspeth Ritchie, an Army psychiatrist and expert on waivers for military service. “The question is, how much of a red flag is it?” 

The mental health waivers can be obtained by people with a history of:
  • Self-Mutilation
  • Bipolar Disorder
  • Depression
  • Alcohol and Substance Use Disorder
People living with treated mental illness, who manage their recovery with a program of recovery, can lead fulfilling and prosperous lives. There is nothing that a person in recovery can’t accomplish. However, when people undergo trauma (like that regularly experienced in the military), it can have a devastating effect on one’s program of recovery. That’s not to say that people with treated mental health conditions shouldn’t be given the honor to serve their country; instead, great precautions must be taken to ensure the safety of individuals and their peers they fight beside.

“With the additional data available, Army officials can now consider applicants as a whole person, allowing a series of Army leaders and medical professionals to review the case fully to assess the applicant’s physical limitations or medical conditions and their possible impact upon the applicant's ability to complete training and finish an Army career,” said Lt. Col. Randy Taylor, an Army spokesman. “These waivers are not considered lightly.”

The U.S. Army recruitment goal is 80,000 enlistees through September 2018, according to the article. It’s likely that this report will lead to a serious debate over the decision allow mental health waivers.


Addiction and Co-Occurring Disorder Treatment

If you are struggling with a use disorder and a co-occurring mental illness, such as PTSD, please contact Hope by The Sea. Your recovery is dependent on treating both conditions. We specialize in the treatment of patients with a dual diagnosis and can help you begin the life-saving journey of recovery.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

A Tale of Two Opioids

"We have roughly two groups of Americans that are getting addicted,” said Dr. Andrew Kolodny, director of opioid policy research at Brandeis University. “We have an older group that is overdosing on pain medicine, and we have a younger group that is overdosing on black market opioids.”

opioid use disorder
What type of opioid a person uses regularly isn’t that important, what’s crucial is understanding that opiates of any kind are deadly. While the majority of Americans first became addicted to prescription painkillers, the disease progression often results in a switch to cheaper and stronger narcotics acquired on the black market.

Even those with a cursory understanding of the opioid addiction epidemic know the risks associated with this class of drugs. One need only look at their local newspaper to see headlines about the crisis unfolding in the U.S. The death rate has continued to rise with some years showing exponential increases for over a decade. So, it probably won’t come as a surprise to learn that this last year more people died from opioids than any other year on record. This year is shaping up to surpass last year's opioid-related death toll.

Matters are worse these days because synthetic opioids, drugs like fentanyl continue to grow in prevalence. The drug is regularly mixed with heroin to create a deadly cocktail. Compared to 2015, there was a 17 percent uptick in overdose deaths in 2016, The New York Times reports. The surge, owed largely to synthetic opioids, is cause for concern and must be addressed.

CDC’s Dismal Report

The rate of overdose deaths rose to nearly 20 people per 100,000 in 2016, according to the article. Dr. Robert Anderson, chief of the C.D.C. mortality statistics branch, says that for people under the age of 50, overdose is now the leading cause of death.

Naturally, we can’t turn back the clock and prevent the rampant over-prescribing observed over the last two decades. While the damage is done, it doesn’t mean that doctors can't adopt more conservative prescribing practices. Limiting the number of prescriptions written can help prevent future cases of opioid use disorder.

Today, there are over 2 million Americans with an opioid use disorder. The majority of afflicted individuals have never sought treatment. Those who desire recovery often struggle to access addiction treatment services where they live. Time is of the utmost importance with addiction. If somebody makes the decision to seek help, but can’t get it today, they are likely to change their mind tomorrow. The disease has a way of making a person’s desire for change be fleeting.

The most effective way of reducing the overdose death rate is to encourage people to seek treatment and have the option available when they are ready. Those who get help have a real opportunity at breaking the cycle of addiction and achieving lasting recovery.

Opioid Addiction is Treatable

At Hope by The Sea, we know how difficult it is to recover from opioid addiction. We are aware that people who don’t get assistance are likely to relapse, and relapse can mean death. If you are in the clutches of opioid use disorder, please contact us immediately, recovery works, and we can help you see for yourself.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Adverse Childhood Experiences and Addiction

Adolescents and teenagers are most often the focus of substance use prevention efforts in America. Teaching young people about the dangers of drugs and alcohol is believed to prevent initiation, and in many cases, it’s useful. However, for teenagers who’ve experienced trauma prevention efforts have diminished returns.

There has been a lot of talk of late regarding adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and their role in addiction. ACEs can be anything from loss of a loved one at a young age to having an abusive mother or father. Trauma, of any kind, can severely impact the course of one’s life, leading young people down a dangerous path. Moreover, research shows that substance use prevention efforts may not have the desired effect on people with unaddressed ACEs. It's the same when it comes to treating addiction, addressing the trauma of one's past is vital; if lasting recovery is the goal, then addiction professionals must teach clients coping tools.

It’s likely that most people will have subjective viewpoint on what constitutes trauma. What affects one person negatively, may not take the same toll on others. What’s more, some parents may not consider certain actions harmful even though some experts would consider the behavior abusive, such as spanking.


Adverse Childhood Experiences

Adverse Childhood ExperiencesSubstance use and self-harm are in many cases the byproduct of childhood trauma. Without healthy coping mechanisms for living with the abuse that one experienced, resorting to drugs and alcohol to cope with one’s mental state seemingly comes naturally. So, what are adverse childhood experiences? The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Association (SAMHSA) has compiled a list of common ACEs, including:
  • Physical, Sexual, and Emotional Abuse
  • Emotional and Physical Neglect
  • Substance Misuse and Mental Illness Within Household
  • Intimate Partner Violence and Mother Treated Violently
  • Parental Separation or Divorce
  • Incarcerated Household Member
Being subject to anything listed above could play a factor in the development of a substance use disorder. Researchers from the University of Michigan conducted a study to see if spanking should fall under the list of ACEs, The Kansas City Star reports. The findings, published in the journal Child Abuse and Neglect, indicate that spanked children were more likely to have suicidal ideations and attempts, engage in moderate-to-heavy drinking, and use drugs.

"Placing spanking in a similar category to physical/emotional abuse experiences would increase our understanding of these adult mental health problems," said study co-leader Professor Andrew Grogan-Kaylor.

It’s unlikely that parents who spank their children know the potential damage caused by punishing their children. Mothers and fathers rationalize and justify the behavior by the fact that they [parents] received spankings as children. While not every child who experiences an ACE is going to become an alcoholic or addict, if the risk can be mitigated then it should be.


Addiction Treatment

If you experienced trauma as a young person and are in the grips of alcohol or substance use disorder, please contact Hope by The Sea. We can help you address your trauma and show you how to cope with it healthily.

Friday, November 3, 2017

Adult-Onset ADHD Explained?

Conventional treatments for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) include medication. Prescription drugs used to treat ADHD are usually amphetamine-based stimulants. We have written on numerous occasions about the dangers of nonmedical amphetamine use, in fact, we wrote about it earlier this week. However, in the field of addiction medicine, the subject of ADHD as a co-occurring mental health disorder gets little attention.

When considering ADHD, people mainly associate it with adolescents, but the condition can also affect those same individuals in adulthood, as well. Additionally, a more significant number of adults have received a diagnosis of the disorder for the first time in recent years. Which means, either the condition went undiagnosed, or it developed in adulthood.

It’s not uncommon for mental health disorders to go without a diagnosis, yet some experts question the validity of adult-onset ADHD. It's important to talk about this subject given that a diagnosis often leads to patients taking prescription stimulants, both addictive and dangerous.


Explaining ADHD

The Mayo Clinic lists various symptoms for the condition, including absent-mindedness, difficulty focusing, forgetfulness, problem paying attention, or short attention span. It isn’t hard to see how the symptoms mentioned above could wreak havoc on one’s life. It’s worth pointing out that some of these traits can be explained away by other mental health conditions or substance use.

A new study sheds some light on this subject, and the research indicates that other factors can explain ADHD symptoms in adulthood, MNT reports. The findings, published in the American Journal of Psychiatry, showed that more than 80 percent of people with adult-onset ADHD probably do not have the condition.

"We found a number of people who looked like they had adult-onset ADHD," said Margaret H. Sibley, of the Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine at Florida International University in Miami, "but when we looked closely, adult-onset symptoms were traced back to childhood or were better explained by other problems, like the cognitive effects of heavy marijuana use, psychological trauma, or depressive symptoms that affect concentration." 

This study appears to be of the utmost importance, particularly relevant to the field of addiction medicine. People with a history of addiction should not be prescribed amphetamines to treat symptoms of ADHD, without careful assessment. Especially if it’s unlikely that such people have the condition at all. It could be that people exhibiting symptoms associated with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder are suffering from depression, or their substance use and abuse have led to what a patient is experiencing. The researchers say that:

“False positive late-onset ADHD cases are common without careful assessment. Clinicians should carefully assess impairment, psychiatric history, and substance use before treating potential late-onset cases."


Co-Occurring Disorder Treatment

If you have been diagnosed with ADHD as an adult and are also addicted to drugs or alcohol, a second opinion is likely in order. At Hope by The Sea, we are fully equipped to treat your alcohol or substance use disorder and any other co-occurring mental health condition. Our clients undergo extensive screening to determine what, if any, other mental health disorder may be contributing to your disease. Please contact us today.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Adderall is an Amphetamine, OxyContin is an Opioid

Older teens and young adults are no strangers to drug and alcohol use. Substance initiation typically begins toward the end of one’s high school years or the beginning of college. Most students who engage in illicit substance use are not likely to experience problems later. However, a significant percentage of young adults’ drugs and alcohol use progresses to misuse and addiction (use disorder).

In modern times, most Americans, young or old, understand that the country is in the midst of an epidemic linked to opioids. The majority of people coming of age at this time are subject to some kind of substance use prevention education starting in elementary school. Such a reality may lead one to assume that young people know the difference between one substance from another.

At the very least, you’d think that an 18-year-old would have some prior knowledge about the drugs they're using and their [drugs] inherent risk. Unfortunately, new research paints a very different picture; misconceptions about certain medications are more common than previously thought. The findings are cause for concern, immediate action by drug education and prevention programs is needed to address the apparent gaps in understanding, particularly regarding prescription amphetamines and opioids.

Adderall is to Amphetamines; as OxyContin is to Opioids

A study, published in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence, indicates that many teens who use the ADHD-drug Adderall don’t know it’s an amphetamine, HealthDay reports. The research means nonmedical amphetamine use is not being reported accurately among young teens and adults. A national survey of more than 24,000 high school seniors revealed some troubling contradictions.

Eight-percent reported nonmedical amphetamine use and around 7 percent reported nonmedical Adderall use; however, about 29 percent of nonmedical Adderall users also said they had not engaged in nonmedical amphetamine in the past year. Meaning, a large number of high school students misusing amphetamines don’t know they are playing with fire.

"Our findings suggest that many young people are unaware that Adderall is amphetamine," said senior author Joseph Palamar, an associate professor of population health at New York University. "In addition, such conflicting reports mean that prescription stimulant misuse may be underestimated." 

The research was conducted by the Center for Drug Use and HIV/HCV Research at New York University's Meyers College of Nursing in New York City, according to the article. Any young person should be aware that Ritalin and Adderall are amphetamines, and there is no scientific evidence to support nonmedical use for sharpening one’s academic edge. While the findings are disturbing, the survey revealed a more dangerous misconception among high school seniors.

"Alarmingly, we had similar findings regarding opioids in another study, with many teens appearing unaware that the Vicodin and OxyContin they took are opioids," Palamar said. "Better drug education is needed to inform the public about common drugs like amphetamines and opioids."


Addiction Treatment for Young Adults

Common prescription amphetamines are: Adderall, Ritalin, and Concerta. Common prescription opioids are: Oxycontin (oxycodone), Percocet (oxycodone and acetaminophen), and Vicodin (hydrocodone).

Prescription opioids and stimulants are highly addictive narcotics, even when they are prescribed and taken as the doctor ordered. Nonmedical use of these types of drugs is likely to cause problems in anyone’s life. If you are a young adult who is dependent on opioids or amphetamines, please contact Hope by The Sea. We can help you find addiction recovery, and learn how to live a life free from drugs and alcohol.

Friday, October 27, 2017

National Prescription Drug Take Back Day 2017

October 28th, 2017, is National Prescription Drug Take Back Day. Everyone in the United States with unused or unwanted medication can have a hand in ensuring their drugs don’t end up in the wrong hands. Every year, several days are set aside as times when Americans can safely dispose of their prescription drugs. Since the program's beginning, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has collected more than 8,000 pounds of pharmaceuticals. While it’s impossible to accurately estimate the impact of safe-disposal initiatives regarding lives saved, it's probably fair to say that it’s not a small number.

National Prescription Drug Take Back Day
There is a significant amount of evidence that many people begin walking the path of opioid use disorder by using another person’s prescription painkillers. Despite the epidemic devastating families across the country, more than half of adults who misused opioids in 2015 did not have a prescription, according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH). What’s more, 40.8% obtained prescription opioids for free from friends or relatives for their most recent episode of misuse.

In most cases, opioid diversion occurs among average Americans, not people with a history of addiction or opioid use disorder. A person has pills that a friend in pain could use, why not give them away and save your friend the expense and hassle of going to a doctor? The best reasons include the risk of overdose and the potential for addiction.


Doing Your Part to Prevent Misuse

Every year, hundreds of millions of prescription opioids leave pharmacies and move into people's medicine cabinets. Opiates kill more people than firearms, yet Americans are less likely to lock up pills than guns. People can no longer claim that they didn’t know the dangers associated with these types of drugs, with over 100-people succumbing to overdose every day. The onus to protect friends and family members falls on everyone.

Please keep in mind that even if you don’t have a history of addiction, are not in recovery yourself or know someone who has battled opioid use disorder—you can still help prevent addiction and overdose. We can all play a role in stemming the tide of this terrible epidemic. Every single pill that is disposed of safely has a rippling effect, being one less pill that could initiate opioid misuse and disorder.

The DEA has several resources you can turn to for information about disposal sites in your area. If you have unused or unwanted medication, please do your part to dispose of them properly. If you are in recovery and suffered an injury in the past year, but no longer require pain medicine, please protect your recovery by taking them to a drop site.


Addiction Recovery

At Hope by The Sea, we hope that as many people as possible utilize the DEA drop sites this weekend. If you or a loved one is addicted to prescription painkillers or opioids of any kind, please contact us today. Addiction recovery is possible, and we can help you learn how to live a life free from drugs and alcohol.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Opioid Use Disorder Has a Face

What does opioid use disorder look like in your head? When contemplating that question, it’s easy to envision people withering away from substance use and abuse. Thin and ashy, track marks stippling up and down a person’s arms, and beyond. It’s an image that is likely to come into the mind of people who haven't seen the disorder first hand; those whose knowledge of the epidemic is made up of statistics, not people.

Make no mistake about it, the American opioid addiction epidemic has a face. One that can look like
any of us, a specific countenance not too dissimilar from your own. The disease does not discriminate, and without treatment, it only takes prisoners temporarily before cutting one’s life short. We are all eligible to become trapped in the cycle of opioid use disorder.

It’s important to keep this in mind, the disease of addiction doesn’t just affect the impoverished or minorities. The numbers indicate white and middle-class Americans have been affected the greatest by the epidemic. The people suffering are your neighbors, your friends, and your family. Even if you don’t have first-hand experience with the condition, it’s highly likely that someone in your life is battling opioid use disorder, without your knowledge.


The Opioid Epidemic Looks Like…

In the field of addiction medicine, we place great emphasis on humanizing the disease of addiction. Viewing mental illness in the same way one would look at any treatable health condition is of paramount importance. The science supports the approach and, more importantly, when people suffering from addiction receive compassion they are far more likely to seek recovery.

What’s more, the entire country can have a hand in breaking down the stigma of addiction, particularly those who have witnessed the disease with their own eyes. People who have lost loved ones can empower others to seek help by being candid about their experience. It’s a concept that hasn’t been lost on some families, like people who share what led to their loved one's death in obituaries. We must all bear witness to the epidemic, averting our eyes to the realities of this catastrophe is no longer tenable.

In this week's edition of The New Yorker, the photography of Philip Montgomery will be on display. The images showcase what the front lines of the opioid epidemic look like in an Ohio county that has been severely affected. Please take a moment to watch a short video on the subject below:

If you are having trouble watching, please click here.

Opioid Use Disorder Help

Philip Montgomery’s photography gives the roughly 64,000 Americans who died of an overdose last year the power to affect change in the United States. We all have a vested interest in seeing people with opioid use disorder get the help they need. At this time in the history of the epidemic, the need for encouraging people to seek treatment is, arguably, at its highest. This is because deadly synthetic opioids are far more pervasive than they were just a few years ago; also drugs like fentanyl and carfentanil are responsible for thousands of overdose deaths, and naloxone does not always reverse an overdose involving such compounds.

If you or a loved one are in the throes of opioid use disorder, please contact Hope by The Sea. We are fully equipped to assist you from detox to long-term addiction recovery. Addiction treatment is your best option for getting out from under this insidious mental health condition.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Cocaine is Everywhere, In the Service Industry

Drug and alcohol use is quite common in the service industry. People who work in the field, at restaurants or bars, for example, know first-hand that many of their co-workers have dabbled in or abused narcotics. It’s not uncommon for people to work while under the influence, bartenders sampling their inventory, wait-staff seeking a little extra pep in their step. That’s not to say that other lines of work don’t have similar rates of use, or in some far more significant problems; but, the service industry’s relationship with drugs and alcohol is noteworthy.

If you have ever worked in the field, you are aware that once a shift is over some employees will congregate after hours and “tie one on.” The use of alcohol, marijuana, and cocaine are staples in those circumstances; a behavior which can and has led to dependence and addiction. People who manage employees in the industry, in many cases, know that some of their employees have use disorders. However, as long as those individuals show up and do their job, few discussions are ever had regarding the self-destructive course their staff member is heading down.

cocaineWhat’s more, only a small number of restaurants and bars conduct random drug screens on their employees. The establishments that do have drug policies exercise the practice of drug testing employees rarely. Meaning, when it comes to alcohol and substance use disorder in the workplace, a don’t-ask-don’t-tell approach is taken. In spite of the fact that talking to a co-worker about concerns over substance use could be beneficial to the individual and the business.


In Restaurants, Cocaine is Everywhere

Despite the fact that opioids continue to be the primary focus of addiction discussions these days, cocaine is still a considerable issue in the United States and Europe. Of the top-five most significant cocaine consuming countries: Scotland, England, Wales, and the U.S. lay claim to four of the available slots. Albania takes the prize for the highest rate of cocaine consumption, The Telegraph reports. The findings may not be that surprising, excepting Albania, considering that the UK and U.S. are affluent countries and cocaine isn’t cheap.

The first installment of a two-part documentary on the subject matter above aired last night on ITV. Gordon Ramsay on Cocaine was inspired by what the celebrity chef has witnessed in his field. Ramsay lost a dear friend and chef protégé to a cocaine overdose in 2003. Ramsay sought out initially to highlight the impact that cocaine and drug use has on “chefs who think they're rock stars,” THR reports. He affirms that cocaine is "everywhere" in the industry, and has seen how drugs use has ruined colleagues' careers.

“I saw cocaine quite early on in my career,” Ramsay tells ITV. “I’ve been served it. I’ve been given it. I’ve had my hand shaken and left with little wraps of foil in it. I’ve been asked to dust cocaine on top of soufflés, to put it on as icing sugar…Coke’s everywhere. It’s spiraling out of control.” 

In London alone, Chef Ramsay employees 750 people, according to ITV. Shedding light on how prevalent cocaine use is in the industry and the world-at-large is vitally important. In the documentary, he investigates the criminal business behind the cocaine trade, including cocaine farms, drugs cartels, smugglers, dealers, and users. He points out that cocaine use in Great Britain has risen 400% over the past two decades.


Stimulant Addiction Treatment

If cocaine use has taken over your own life, please seek help immediately. Stimulant addiction is a treatable use disorder and recovery is possible, if you are willing to take steps to achieve the goal. Please contact Hope by The Sea; we can assist you in stopping the cycle of cocaine use disorder and introduce you to the transformative journey of addiction recovery.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

DEA Can't Do Its Job

The American opioid addiction epidemic has no parallel in modern history. What has happened over the last two-decades is too difficult to understand and even harder to combat. At Hope by The Sea, we have seen firsthand the devastation caused by opioid use disorder. We are acutely aware that, more times than not, it’s a condition that begins with a legal prescription for opioid painkillers. Today, all the talk is about heroin, fentanyl and other synthetic opiates that have the power to kill. However, we must never lose sight of the actual driving force of this epidemic, the pharmaceutical industry.

When people are dying at staggering rates, society expects accountability—naturally. Over the years there have been several shifts in playing the dangerous game of blame. First, it was the patient's fault, and then it was the doctor's fault. Patients found diverting medication faced jail time; doctors who overprescribed met similar consequences. The attention turned next to the medical industry approach to pain management, to which the industry has made efforts to address. The next target was the pharmaceutical industry; from painkiller manufacturers to the local pharmacy.

In between companies like Purdue Pharma and pharmacies, such as CVS, are medication distributors. These are go-betweens in every sense of the word, they move OxyContin from Purdue to CVS. Notable distributors, you may know, have been in the news over the years for their role in the epidemic, i.e., McKesson Pharmaceutical and Cardinal Health. Such companies have been fined and sued for filling orders that were the very definition of suspicious. The fines did get paid, but according to a new report, pharmaceutical distributors won in the end.


Hobbling the DEA

opioid addictionJoe Rannazzisi is a name that few had ever heard of before this weekend when The Washington Post and CBS: "60 Minutes" introduced him to America on Sunday. Rannazzisi, former head of the DEA's Office of Diversion Control, a division of the agency responsible for regulating and investigating the pharmaceutical industry. The former DEA deputy assistant administrator, CBS reports, has a degree in pharmacy and law.

Going after doctors didn’t impact the abuse and overdose death rates, prompting Rannazzisi to set his sights on the opioid painkiller distributors. Naturally, distribution companies have nearly unlimited resources and unbelievable clout in Washington D.C. They used their influence and money to stymie Rannazzisi's efforts; resulting in a severe blow to the DEA’s ability to cite and levy fines on such companies when they fill suspicious orders. Rannazzisi told CBS:

“This is an industry that's out of control. What they wanna do, is do what they wanna do, and not worry about what the law is. And if they don't follow the law in drug supply, people die. That's just it. People die." He adds: “This is an industry that allowed millions and millions of drugs to go into bad pharmacies and doctors' offices, that distributed them out to people who had no legitimate need for those drugs." 

The pushback paid off with the passing of H.R.4709 - Ensuring Patient Access and Effective Drug Enforcement Act of 2014. This is a bill that the drug industry spent $102 million between 2014 and 2016 lobbying Congress to help pass, according to The Washington Post. Before H.R. 4079, the DEA could freeze narcotic shipments that they deemed suspicious. The new industry-friendly law makes it nearly impossible for the DEA to stop the flow of suspicious orders.

“If I was gonna write a book about how to harm the United States with pharmaceuticals, the only thing I could think of that would immediately harm is to take the authority away from the investigative agency that is trying to enforce the Controlled Substances Act and the regulations implemented under the act. And that's what this bill did.” — Rannazzisi said to CBS

Please take some time to watch the "60 Minutes" segment. For a more in-depth analysis of how this all came to be, turn to The Washington Post.

Opioid Addiction Treatment

It’s hard to say what will come of the reporting mentioned above. Hopefully, it will lead to change for the better. In the meantime, efforts must continue to encourage everyone who has been caught in the cycle of prescription opioid addiction to seek help. If you are one of those individuals, please contact Hope by The Sea. From medical detox to residential treatment, we can help you set a course for long-term recovery.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Tracking Overdoses In Real Time

Utilizing technology to address the American opioid addiction epidemic is a must. Hundreds of Americans die from an overdose each week. Over 50,000 lethal drug overdoses occurred in 2015, and 64,000 died in 2016. Experts prepared to see even more fatal overdoses this year. The numbers keep rising, and while naloxone is more available than ever, it doesn’t always work.

Time is vital to successful drug overdose reversals; the window to administer naloxone is relatively small. Furthermore, if a person overdoses on heroin laced with synthetic opioids like fentanyl and carfentanil, naloxone effectiveness is diminished. Naloxone, sold under the brand name Narcan, is sometimes no match for the potency of synthetic opioids.

First responders have no way of knowing when an overdose involves fentanyl. Information shared between cities and states about spikes in fentanyl prevalence isn't in real time. Drug traffickers follow particular routes. If a swath of fentanyl-related overdoses happens in one area, then experts can predict which city can expect the same. Provided however that the data is readily available and easy to access. Finding out about an overdose spike in a neighboring town two weeks later doesn’t do anyone a whole lot of good.


Overdose Mapping In Real Time

EMTs sharing overdose information with each other in real time has many benefits. The Washington/Baltimore division of the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) teamed up with Esri, a geospatial technology company to create the Overdose Detection Mapping Application Program (ODMAP), NBC News reports. Jeff Beeson, the deputy director of HIDTA, points out that overdose information has been tracked in the past but it’s always isolated.

Credit: HIDTA

First responders use ODMAP at the scene of an overdose. The program is not open to the public, and a victim's personal information doesn't get shared on the database. EMTs can access a website on their smartphone and share info on a particular overdose, according to the article. Was the overdose fatal? Was naloxone administered? The shared information is mapped, giving police chiefs and officials a picture of where overdoses are being reported in real-time. Using the data from ODMAP, gives officials the ability to direct the necessary resources to the right places.

"This data is moving in real time across geopolitical boundaries," said Chris McIntosh, Esri's director of national government industries. "It's being analyzed in real time, so both the community and the public safety organizations can see trends when they occur — not in the days and weeks after, when someone does analysis on the data." 

Some 5,200 suspected overdoses have gotten plugged into ODMAP since January, the article reports. The program is currently being utilized in 85 counties in 19 states.

Opioid Use Disorder Treatment

Synthetic opioids have become commonplace, and overdose rates are expected to rise, as a result. The surest way to avoid potentially fatal overdoses is to seek addiction treatment. At Hope by The Sea we can help you detox from opioids, break the cycle of addiction, and start you down the road of long-term recovery. Please contact us today.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

World Mental Health Day 2017

If you own a business or are in charge of one, the World Health Organization (WHO) is asking for your help. Some of you may be thinking about scratching your head at this point, asking: ‘what does WHO want with me?’ The easiest answer to that question is, compassion. At least when it comes to the mental health of those in your employ.

Millions of people around the globe battle serious mental health conditions each year. Those who do not get help, or fear even talking about their mental illness, are in a bad way. Unable to seek assistance for fear of employment repercussions. Even if employers are no longer apt to fire people over exhibiting abnormal behavior, the fear lives on. And, rightly so; society does not have a great track record when it comes to compassion towards people living with mental illness.

Due to our history, comprised of centuries of stigma, those afflicted have lost their voice. Short of mental illness, there aren’t any health problems that people will attempt to hide. Spurn treatment for fear of social repercussions. Which comes at great cost, not just to the individual, but also to society. When a person doesn’t get the help they require, we all suffer. An idea supported by facts.


Mental Illness Around The Word

world mental health day
Mental illness is a pandemic. As we have pointed out before, more than 300 million people around the world battle depression each year, according to WHO. Making it the number one cause of poor health. The organization also highlights the fact that more than 260 million struggle with anxiety per annum. In many cases, people have to contend with both anxiety and depression.

When somebody experiences an episode, they are likely to call in sick to work. Usually making up an excuse. If they do muster the strength to get to their desk, productivity is likely to be lacking. In most cases, such people are not in any kind of therapy or have any means of coping with their symptoms. Which often leads to a host of other problems, not the least of which is addiction. Without any coping mechanisms, individuals are apt to seek comfort wherever they can find it. Illicit drug use and drinking alcohol are common methods of achieving desired relief.

Substance use may have a positive effect initially, but in the long run dependence and addiction become one’s lot. Once that occurs, self-medication transmogrifies into a co-occurring mental health disorder. An occurrence which could be avoided by promoting mental health in the workplace. WHO writes:

“Employers and managers who put in place workplace initiatives to promote mental health and to support employees who have mental disorders see gains not only in the health of their employees but also in their productivity at work. A negative working environment, on the other hand, may lead to physical and mental health problems, harmful use of substances or alcohol, absenteeism and lost productivity.” 

A study, led by WHO, estimates that depression and anxiety disorders have combined cost in US$ of 1 trillion each year to the global economy in lost productivity.


World Mental Health Day

Encouraging employers to exercise compassion is one way to help millions of people get assistance. Today, is World Mental Health Day 2017. The theme this year is Mental health in the workplace. The goal, of course, is to promote mental health and raise awareness about mental illness. Mental health conditions can affect anyone, and those who are affected desperately need the support of society for recovery to be better achieved.

At Hope by The Sea, we stand by the World Health Organization in spreading the message that mental health recovery is possible. And, it starts with treatment. Please contact us if you are struggling, we can help.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Recovery: Freedom From Our Addictions

In recovery, it’s important to never take ourselves too seriously. That’s not to say that we should make light of every serious situation or deflect with humor on a regular basis. But, there are times when comedy is welcome relief. After all, if we can’t laugh at ourselves from time to time… Over the years there have been a number of comedians who have used their spotlight to enlighten people about addiction. Used their forum to do their part to help shed some of the stigma of addiction.

If you are in recovery, you may already be aware of some comedians with firsthand experience. Although, a number of them have had tumultuous times in recovery, some even succumbing to their addiction. Chris Farley and Mitch Hedberg may come to mind. Yet, there are still a number of comedians who will leave you in stitches who have managed to accumulate significant lengths of time in recovery. Craig Ferguson, Marc Maron, Artie Lange and Russell Brand. The list is longer than that, but you get the point; there are many comedians in recovery. And, it’s something to be thankful for.

One of the reasons that comedians in recovery are so important, is the fact that many of their jokes deal with subject matters that only we [recovering addicts and alcoholics] truly understand. There is something nice about it, being in on a joke feels good. Everybody in the audience is laughing, but for completely different reasons. Esoteric catharsis.


Recovery: Freedom From Our Addictions

Setting the laughs aside. In the battle against stigma, comedians in recovery can also be champions of change. Showing the general public the realities of addiction, and the possibility of addiction recovery. They can use their enormous fan base to shed light on what addiction is; a debilitating form of mental illness, not a moral failing.

A person who has spent copious amounts of time talking about addiction, when he is not making people laugh, is British comedian Russell Brand. There is a good chance that you have seen movies he is in (Forgetting Sarah Marshall) or his specials on Netflix ('The Messiah Complex' or 'The Emperor's New Clothes'). His comedy or commentary is not for everyone. But, it is hard to argue with many of his observations about addiction and recovery. Some of what he says may actually help your own recovery. This is a fellowship, we all learn from one another's experiences.

Brand published a new book this week: Recovery: Freedom From Our Addictions. Which, he spoke at length about with People Magazine. He talks about the Steps in his book, being an active member of the Program for over 14 years. In his book, he has a bit of fun with the Steps (Step 1: “Are you a bit f—ed?,” Step 2: “Could you not be f—ed” and Step 3: Are you, on your own gonna un-f— yourself?”). He shares his story, from childhood onward. As well, as his experience in recovery:

“[Now] I don’t struggle with [addictive] urges because the program I live by helps me to remain serene and prevents those urges from arriving,” Brand said to People. “If I feel those urges — even though I don’t feel them so often because I’m working the program — I talk to other people and I do stuff for other people and I meditate and pray. There’s a whole sort of series put in place for when I feel those urges.” 

He added:

“The idea that life is meant to be punishing has really taken hold,” he says. “The two things [I want people to know] is that pain is a signal and it’s telling you to change. And happiness is a possibility.

“We don’t choose between having a program and not having a program. We choose between having a conscious program and an unconscious program. When you’re not working a program consciously you’re working an unconscious program – the program of your childhood, the program of your culture, the program of your media. So it’s very important to become awakened.”

Stephen Colbert interviewed Brand, recently:

If you are having trouble watching, please click here.


Hope of Recovery

We all can interpret aspects of the program in our own ways, as long as we come to common ends. Brand’s interpretation is his own, to be subscribed to or not. You may read his book and find it enlightening, while others might be detracted. The main take away, it seems, is that both recovery and happiness is possible. Change is possible.

If you or someone you care about is struggling with addiction, please contact Hope by The Sea. We can help you make the dream of recovery a reality.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Mental Illness Awareness Week 2017

Last month people working in the field of addiction, and those in recovery celebrated Join the Voices for Addiction Recovery. National Alcohol and Drug Addiction Recovery Month, or Recovery Month, is an important time in the United States. And it is a perfect opportunity to spread the word: Addiction recovery is possible. If you were one of the many brave men and women who shared their story with world, we at Hope by The Sea commend your bravery.

It practically goes without saying, getting up in front of a room of perfect strangers sharing one’s story is not an easy task. Sharing one’s story in a forum as ubiquitous at the Internet in an age still defined by stigma, is a monumental feat. One that says that “you” will not be defined by your mental illness, and you will no longer stand for stigma deterring the afflicted from seeking treatment.

Mental illness affects millions of Americans, it is estimated that over 300 million people around the world struggle with depression alone. Only a small percentage of such individuals have ever been treated, many don’t even know that recovery is a possibility. With that in mind, let it be known: Treatment works and you can recover, too.


Mental Illness Awareness

MIAWAlcohol and substance use disorder is a debilitating mental health disorder. Many of us did our part last month to shed light on the issue and inspire others to seek treatment and recovery. Yet, the stigma that has long accompanied addiction, has also followed mental illness of any kind. Therefore, it is crucial that we all continue the momentum of September into this month.

The first week of October is Mental Illness Awareness Week (MIAW), established by Congress in 1990. Naturally, fighting stigma and educating the public 365 days-a-year is of the utmost importance. Something that the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) has made their mission. Not only is MIAW about raising mental health awareness, it’s about recognizing all of NAMI’s efforts.

This week, NAMI and partners are focusing on heightening awareness of five common mental health conditions. And chipping away at the stigma surrounding such conditions. The mental health disorders include:
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
  • Borderline Personality Disorder
  • Dual Diagnosis
  • Depression
  • Schizophrenia & Psychosis

Co-Occurring Disorder Treatment

On NAMI’s list of conditions, you see Dual Diagnosis. Otherwise known as co-occurring disorders. It extremely common in the field of addiction treatment. Experiencing a substance use disorder and another form of mental illness, like depression, simultaneously. It is an occurrence that affected 7.9 million people in the U.S. in 2014, according to a 2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health.

Addiction experts understand that treating both forms of mental health conditions simultaneously is the best way to accomplish positive outcomes in recovery. At Hope by The Sea, we specialize in the treatment of co-occurring disorders and encourage you to seek help for you or a loved one as soon as possible. The longer such conditions are left untreated, the worse they become. Please contact us today.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Strength In Addiction Recovery

If you are new to recovery, perhaps just out of treatment or in your first 30 days, there are a lot of things you are trying to process. One can’t help but attempt to make sense of how you got where you are today. Even when you know it’s not the best thing for you. Young people in recovery are especially apt to think about how they zigged when they should've zagged. Particularly when they consider their peers, or compare themselves to those in their age group who can drink without consequence.

recoveryAt risk of using a poor choice of words, coming to terms with never being able to drink or drug again can be a hard pill to swallow. But, you would be wise to avoid such lines of thinking or questioning. Because, at the end of the day it doesn’t matter what road you took to get to the depths of despair. What’s important is how you plan to stay out of the abyss of addiction. If you went to treatment you learned that dwelling on your past and tripping on your future will only lead you to dark places. Putting you into mind sets that can easily precipitate a relapse.

So, if you know that drugs and alcohol will bring you nothing but heartache (or worse), it’s best to stay focused on the present. And what you are going to do each day to ensure that you don’t return to where you were before you found recovery. One way to accomplish this task is to remind yourself every day that recovery is far better than the alternative. Your worst day in recovery is always better than your best day using drugs and alcohol to cope with life. There is strength and beauty to be found in working a program, and your recovery is worth being proud.


Today, Is What Matters In Recovery

Unfortunately, one’s age is often a major deterrent to recovery. That is not to be taken as if there are age requirements to achieving long-term recovery. Rather, young people often convince themselves that they can’t have a problem because of their age. They sit in 12 Step meetings and look around the room. Perhaps it’s a room full of older adults whose lives had become unmanageable due to drink or drug?

Sometimes young people who are new to the program start listing all the special occasions that are synonymous with celebrations involving alcohol. Graduations and weddings, for example. Times when a toast is customary. They think about how they will be viewed by their peers without a champagne flute in one’s hand. It’s hard to avoid such daydreams, but it is vital to steer clear of them. At the end of the day, it isn’t important what others think about your abstinence. How you feel about your “own” recovery is. After all, if you found recovery at a young age it was not by accident. You found out early on what it takes some people a life’s worth of pain to determine. You are powerless of drugs and alcohol. When you use them, it is but a symptom of an insidious mental health disorder that (left unchecked) can be deadly.


Take Pride In The Freedom of Recovery

The longer you stay in the rooms of recovery, the more clearly you will see that seeking treatment and recovery was a sign of strength. A moment of clarity that not everyone has the privilege of. Your recovery will open doors that drugs and alcohol could only close. Every time you go to a meeting, you are surrounded by people who actually care about your well-being and you get to care about others. Not because of what they can do for you, because of what you can do for them. Your program is truly a gift of the spirit, one that should be cherished. With each day that passes in recovery, you have more and more for which to be grateful.

We realize that some of you reading this may still be battling an alcohol or substance use disorder. At Hope by The Sea we can show you how living a life in recovery is not a burden, but a gift. Please contact us today.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Fentanyl: More Prevalent Than You'd Think

For several years we at Hope by The Sea have been trying to help raise awareness about the risk of opioid overdose death. Especially high when the powerful analgesic fentanyl is brought into the equation. While it is rare to meet an adult in the U.S. who has never heard of the drug, or a person with an opioid use disorder being unaware of the reality that fentanyl is commonly mixed with heroin. The drug is 100 times more potent that morphine and is often double the strength of heroin. When fentanyl is added to heroin, it exponentially increases the potency of what is being snorted, smoked or injected. Thus, placing users at great risk of overdose and potential premature death.

Even though fentanyl is being talked about much these days, being tied to even more deaths than heroin last year, it’s likely that many opioid users do not realize how prevalent illicit fentanyl is in this country. Much of this may be due to the fact that users are mostly caught unawares of the fentanyl's presence in their own heroin. And, if it is present, there is a good chance that one has already died of an overdose, too late to even discuss it after the fact. It is for those reasons that anyone using heroin should strongly consider seeking treatment before they are inevitably exposed to this deadly opioid narcotic.


The Prevalence of Fentanyl

Earlier this month we shared some startling figures with you about fentanyl. Data indicating that fentanyl was involved in more overdose deaths than heroin in 2016. What’s more, the number of overdose deaths in 2017 are expected to top last year's figures; fentanyl will have a significant role in this unfortunate eventuality. People with opioid use disorders need to take the threat of synthetic opioids seriously, and make a concerted effort to get help as soon as they possibly can. The odds of being exposed to fentanyl are not in anyone’s favor.

People being exposed to fentanyl unbeknownst are not isolated events. More of the drug is pouring into the United States than ever. The Office of the Special Narcotics Prosecutor for the City of New York announced the seizure of 122 kilograms of narcotics (nearly 270 pounds), including 64 kilograms (over 140 pounds) of pure fentanyl. That is enough fentanyl to kill 32 million people. For some perspective, consider that in 2016 the population of California was 39.25 million.

“The sheer volume of fentanyl pouring into the city is shocking. It’s not only killing a record number of people in New York City, but the city is used as a hub of regional distribution for a lethal substance that is taking thousands of lives throughout the Northeast,” said Special Narcotics Prosecutor Bridget G. Brennan. “The success of these two investigations underscores the critical importance of collaboration. Each of the law enforcement partners made a significant contribution to the removal of 270 pounds of lethal narcotics from the black market.”

Opioid Addiction Treatment

Only four people have been charged thus far in this huge narcotic bust. But, this case is just one example of how much of the drug is coming into the country. Drug dealers are not going to tell users that their heroin has fentanyl in it, and as was pointed out earlier: If a person finds out — it’s often too late.

Synthetic opioids are not substances to fool around with. The best way to avoid them is to seek addiction recovery. After all, authorities can’t stop or seize everything coming into America. Addiction recovery is possible, and the sooner you reach for it, the less likely you are to experience tragedy. Please contact Hope by The Sea, we can help you undergo opioid detoxification with medical supervision and show you how living life in recovery is possible.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Digital Therapeutics In The “Age of Addiction”

When it comes to addiction recovery, the more support one can get—the better. It has long been understood that patients stand the best chance of recovery with a combination of three things. Therapy, medication and support network programs. Medication may or may not be required, but therapy and a program of recovery is absolutely crucial. When all is said and done, addiction is highly complex. It involves much more than just people who have a problem abstaining from certain substances. Any addiction professional will tell you, the drugs and alcohol are but a symptom of a serious mental health disorder. One that affects tens-of-millions of Americans, and hundreds globally.

While addiction treatment is available across the country, most Americans struggle in accessing
life-saving therapies. Not everyone can afford to take months off at a time to address their illness and learn how to live life on life’s terms. This means that the burden of treating patients often falls on primary care physicians, the same people who had a hand in creating the addiction crisis in America. Many doctors are either ill-equipped to address the needs of patients living with addiction, or lack the qualifications to do so. Which means that addressing addiction in America falls on society, both individuals and businesses, to assist the afflicted.

For the millions of Americans who seemingly can’t access treatment, there are some novel approaches to getting them the help desperately needed. And, in the near future one’s smartphone may be a vital tool in the life-saving mission of recovery.

Addiction Recovery In Your Phone

At reputable addiction treatment centers, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is highly beneficial to clients. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) defines CBT as a therapy which concentrates on "examining the relationships between thoughts, feelings and behaviors.” Even with a layman's understanding of the disease model of addiction, you can probably see the benefit of such practices. What if such treatments could be brought to patients during and after treatment?

Well, good news. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently approved a smartphone application which utilizes CBT, according to CNBC. Prescribed by doctors, the app known as Reset was developed by start-up called Pear Therapeutics. To be clear: the app is not meant to be used on its own. Rather, in conjunction with traditional counseling and medication, if needed. This is big news, being the first time the FDA has approved an app for addiction treatment.

“This is an example of how innovative digital technologies can help provide patients access to additional tools during their treatment,” said Carlos Peña, Ph.D., M.S., director of the Division of Neurological and Physical Medicine Devices in FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health. “More therapy tools means a greater potential to help improve outcomes, including abstinence, for patients with substance use disorder.”

The FDA approved Reset after reviewing a 12-week clinical trial, CNBC reports. The study, which involved nearly 400 people, showed a "statistically significant increase" in adherence to abstinence from alcohol, cocaine, marijuana and stimulants. The app has not been approved yet to address opioid use disorder, but that appears to be in the works.

"This is the moment for digital therapeutics," said Corey McCann, the founder and CEO of Pear Therapeutics.


Addiction Treatment of The Future

As was mentioned earlier, apps like Reset are not meant to be the sole form of treatment. It should be utilized as supplemental tool by doctors and conceivably, addiction treatment centers. In the age of addiction, opioid addiction specifically, it should be all hands-on deck. If patients can benefit from mobile recovery apps, it is crucial they are employed to such ends.

At Hope by The Sea, our exceptionally trained staff and physicians are trained in cognitive behavioral therapy. The practice has helped many of our clients achieve long-term recovery. Please contact us today to begin the lifesaving process of addiction treatment.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Prescription Opioids In Addiction Recovery

Those who are actively working a program of recovery are aware of how easily relapse can crop up. After all, we do what we do each day in order to mitigate the risk of returning to drugs and alcohol. It’s no easy task, but we trudge forward, with resolve to do what we can to avoid it. Hopefully, at all costs. If you are working a program, you learned early on that your recovery must be protected. And that fortification against the snare and pitfalls of addiction comes via continued spiritual maintenance.

Individuals who have been going to meetings for some time, have seen other members fall off the path. The reasons this occurs are many, sometimes it can seem like a relapse came out of nowhere. But, upon closer investigation the roots of relapse begin to show themselves clearly. A failure to put one’s program above all else. Slacking on meetings and service work. Becoming complacent about the strength of your sobriety, just to name a few. However, there are a number of other ways relapse can rise to the surface from below. Reasons why one might put themselves at risk of sliding backwards.

Recovery requires both sound mind and body. Taking care of yourself physically is as important as spiritual wellness. When we don’t prioritize healthy living, we are at risk of suffering ailment and injury. Precipitating pain, pangs which require relief. And, in many cases, Tylenol will not have the desired effect. So, one seeks the assistance of a doctor. A person who may help one’s pain, but derail one’s recovery.


Doctors: A Blessing and Curse

Anyone whose journey of recovery began with detox and treatment understands the important role physicians play. Without medical supervision and access to certain drugs, one's early recovery would be not only painful — it could be deadly. The part doctors play in early recovery should not be minimized. Yet, later on down the road of recovery, physicians can prove to be a hindrance to one’s program, especially if an injury occurs.

Whether you are in the program or not, you know how willy-nilly prescription opioids have been, and continue to be, prescribed in the U.S. You know they are both addictive and potentially deadly to anyone prescribed them. But, people who are in pain need relief and opioids work quite well. Even when alternative methods of pain management are available (perhaps even more effective) doctors will resort to opioids.

In recovery, it’s no secret that taking any mind-altering substance, even those prescribed is a great risk. Even when they are taken as prescribed, such drugs can chip away at the foundation of your program. In turn, making it unstable and at risk of total collapse. Many a relapse has begun with taking a narcotic, as prescribed, in recovery. Which is why it is absolutely crucial that people in recovery explain to their treating physician what's at stake. One needs to express the importance of exhausting every option for pain relief before resorting to opioids.

Such an approach, should be considered the only approach. Remember, your recovery must always come first even at the expense of comfort. Being comfortable in recovery won’t matter much if you lose your recovery to achieve such relief. It is also worth noting that many forms of pain can be addressed better by avoiding opioids, such as nerve pain (neuropathy). Consider physical therapy and massage techniques.


Maintaining Recovery

It is important to remember that whatever decision you come to with your doctor, it is possible to keep your program intact after being prescribed an opioid. As long as you communicate with your sponsor and have a way to ensure that you do not take more than is required, longer than needed. One must double their efforts in recovery to keep one’s addiction from retaking control of your life. Taking a prescription narcotic merely opens the door, your program will prevent the disease from inviting itself back in.

If you are one of the many people who relapsed on prescription painkillers, it is possible to take back your life. Please contact Hope by The Sea to begin the process of recommitting yourself to the program.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Cannabis Questions, Answered?

Earlier this week we touched upon how legalizing cannabis affects United Nations drug control treaties. If you didn’t have a chance to read about it, you may find it interesting and worth your time. People smoking “pot” on their couch in an oceanside bungalow probably never considered how legalizing the drug might impact international drug control policy. Nevertheless, as the United States and a number of other western countries move forward with more relaxed stances on marijuana, it is important that we continue to inform ourselves about the effects legalization may have throughout the country.

Cannabis, whether it be for medical or recreational purposes, will likely continue being a hot button topic in the United States. Complicated by the fact that arguments on both sides can be convincing. Fortunately, we have over twenty years of cannabis reform to draw from in deducing the impact that medical marijuana and recreational legalization has had on various states. Considering that more than half of Americans are in favor of more relaxed marijuana policies, the need for facts has never been greater—arguably.

Science has long supported the idea that marijuana is a relatively benign drug. And most Americans agree, whether the drug is legal or illegal, users should not face jail time for possessing or using the substance. However, there are legitimate concerns regarding how marijuana policy will affect use rates among teenagers and young adults. Research has shown that the drug can have serious influence on the developing brains of young people. The longer one can refrain from using, the better, basically.


The Cannabis Question

The million-dollar question: "Has legalization had the negative impacts that opponents claimed it would have?" Specifically, has it led to increased drug abuse and crime? If you rely on current research, the answer is “yes” and “no.” Researchers from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Harvard University and Western Carolina University, have analyzed data from the most recent Monitoring the Future survey, Market Watch reports. A working paper was submitted to be distributed to the National Bureau of Economic Research. The findings indicated that legalization and medical marijuana laws have only a slight impact on:
  • Overall Cannabis Use
  • Alcohol Use
  • Use of Other Substances
  • Crime Rates
Marijuana advocates should not take these findings to mean that they were right all along. There are signs that more liberal cannabis laws have had negative effects that shouldn’t be discounted. In the year following Washington passing legalization, the state had twice the number of traffic deaths involving drivers under the influence of marijuana, according to the article. While more people still die from alcohol related accidents every year, the uptick shouldn’t be minimized. The researchers also found a correlation between liberalization and a rise in petty crimes. What’s more, in states with more liberal laws, the researchers found it easier to acquire other, more harmful narcotics, such as: amphetamines, barbiturates and psychedelics. But, at the end of the day, the authors concluded:

“Our results do suggest that, given current attitudes and enforcement toward marijuana, further liberalizations seem unlikely to have dramatic affects in any direction.”


Cannabis Use Disorder Treatment

The aforementioned research is important, and more light will be shined on this subject as time goes on. Whether you are in favor of more liberal cannabis laws or not, there is no evidence to support that users should be incarcerated because of it. Perhaps most important is that lawmakers and health experts do what they can to enlighten young people about the risks of use. Cannabis use disorder is a real condition, one that often requires addiction treatment to recover from. Remember, less risky doesn’t mean safe. Habitual marijuana users often experience withdrawal symptoms when trying to quit. There is also convincing evidence that cannabis use can lead to the development of other, perhaps more serious, mental health conditions.

If marijuana is negatively impacting your own life, please contact Hope by The Sea. We can assist you in breaking the cycle of addiction and give you the tools necessary for living a life in recovery.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

International Drug Control Policy's Future

While major Western countries have long been looked at as beacons of enlightenment, is no secret that such countries have taken draconian stances to drug policy. Time and time again we have written about the realities here at home, a democracy that houses more prisoners than any other major country with 2,220,300 adults being incarcerated in US federal, state prisons, and county jails in 2013, according to the US Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS). That is 698 inmates per 100,000 people.

It has also pointed out that a staggering number of those incarcerated are serving time for nonviolent drug offenses. In some cases, serving life sentences. It is nothing short of a dismal reality that for far too long addiction has been treated as a crime. Although it is a treatable mental health disorder, those in the grips of the disease are not given the opportunity to seek recovery. Being sent to jail or prison instead.

addictionWe would be remiss if we didn’t point that a number of changes have occurred in recent years to reverse some of our wrongs. Pardons and commutations have been granted to a number of nonviolent offenders, some efforts to repeal or amend mandatory minimum sentencing laws have been successful and several states have either decriminalized or legalized recreational use of marijuana. All of which being a sign of more drug policies evolving—for the better. However, when thinking about legalization, few Americans have considered the impact that it might have on United Nation international drug control treaties.


Legalizing Cannabis, A Treaty-Violation?

drug control policy
Western nations have historically had a similar approach when it comes to drug control policy and prohibition. Treaties have been signed by way of the United Nations, leading to most member countries prohibiting the non-medical use of amphetamines, cannabis, cocaine and heroin, Science Daily reports. As countries like Canada, Uruguay and the United States change their stance on marijuana, it is (in effect) a violation of such drug control treaties. Professor Wayne Hall has some thoughts on this subject which were published in the scientific journal Addiction.

Regarding decriminalization, Professor Hall calls for a “cautious approach to policy reform that would involve trialing and evaluating the effects of incrementally more liberal drug policies.” He outlines a number of considerations that could help nations implement treaty changes or different policy interpretations:
  • Cannabis: This is the strongest candidate for national policy experiments on different ways of regulating its sale and use. This is happening in the USA, Uruguay and Canada. Rigorous evaluations of these experiments will be useful for other countries considering legalizing cannabis for adult recreational use.

  • Party drugs, such as ecstasy, LSD, and novel psychoactive substances: The most important regulatory challenge for those who advocate more liberal policies is ensuring that drug manufacture and sale meet reasonable standards of consumer safety and consumers are well informed about the risks of using these drugs.

  • Opioids: The best way forward may be a mitigated form of prohibition. Mitigated prohibition differs from a 'war on drugs' by expanding treatment for opioid dependence, reducing some of its serious medical complications, and reducing the number of opioid users who are imprisoned.

  • Cocaine and amphetamines: There are no easy answers here. Proposed regulation via a modified prescription system seems unlikely to reduce harmful use. Prohibition may minimize use but it is not sufficient, because stimulants are very easy to produce illicitly. Stimulant policy needs better ways of reducing the demand for stimulants and more effective treatments for problem stimulant users.


Addiction Treatment: A Top Priority

It is important that We work with our foreign allies in ensuring that people affected by addiction get the treatment they need. It is the best method for reducing the harmful byproducts of drug use and abuse, such as dependence, overdose and premature death. The United States is not alone when it comes to high rates of addiction, and expanding access to treatment around the globe makes all of us healthier.

If you are struggling with addiction, please contact Hope by The Sea. The longer your condition is left untreated the greater the likelihood of you experiencing heartache and serious health consequences. Our team of highly trained addiction professionals can help you break the cycle of self-defeating behavior and show you how living a life in recovery is possible.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Keeping Recovery Intact Through Adversity

A major component of addiction recovery is routine. If you are working a program, you know this to be true. You wake up every day. Some of you meditate, others of you get down on your knees and ask your “higher power” for strength and guidance in the day to come. You remind yourself to live life on life’s terms, one day at a time. After breakfast, you may hit a meeting before going to work or attending class, or maybe it is the other way around for you. As the day ends, maybe you make a point of spending time with your sponsor or recovery peers. Perhaps over a cup of coffee. Later, some of you might journal or make a gratitude list. Or, you reflect on your day, asking yourself: 'Did I do everything I could for my recovery today. Could I do more tomorrow?’

Naturally, everyone’s day may shape up differently. But, by and large, all our days are relatively regimented. There is not much room for uncertainty or red herrings in recovery. Such occurrences can throw one’s recovery out of balance. Nevertheless, none of us runs the show, we cannot predict or plan for certain events that could arise. We are not omnipotent or all powerful, simply put: We are not God. However, that doesn't mean that we can’t do things to prepare ourselves for the eventuality of life’s curve balls.

When all is said, and done, life is finite. As are the things that make up one’s life. Relationships end, family member pass on. Jobs are found. Jobs are lost. Over the course of all of life’s eventualities, people in recovery MUST do what they can to mitigate the risk of relapse. Remain strong in the face of great adversity.


Recovery’s Back to The Wind

In the wake Hurricane Harvey, we shared with you ways people affected by the torrential flooding could find both strength and support. How to get traumatic events from derailing one’s addiction recovery. At Hope by The Sea, we pray that everyone working a program in Houston and beyond managed to not let their stress lead to self-defeating decisions. Choices that lead to relapse. If you managed to weather the storm and flooding, recovery intact, you have much to be proud of and your program is stronger because of it.

Now, just over a week later millions of Floridians are preparing for the worst. As one of the most powerful Hurricanes ever recorded is trudging at 16 mph towards the Florida peninsula, ABC News reports. Over a million people have been ordered to evacuate, failure to do so can result in tragedy. We have all seen the video and pictures of the damage done thus far in the Caribbean, standing one’s ground could prove fatal for people in the hurricanes target zone.

It goes without saying that many of you in the potentially affected areas who have been ordered to leave your home are in recovery. Finding yourself displaced, heading for safe havens in Florida and beyond. Safety is absolutely vital, after that your recovery must continue to be at the top of your priority list. Those of you who will be in unknown areas during Hurricane Irma should already be making plans for how you will keep your recovery intact. Which means having a list of meetings you can attend in any given area. You can find up to date lists of meetings at Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous.


Needing Recovery More Than Ever

In times of disaster your program will prove to be vital. While your routine is going to be disrupted regardless of what you have to say about it, you can still make moves to have a semblance of your normal daily movements, i.e. going to meetings, sharing and talking to newcomers. It is in the darkest of hours that the fellowship must shine the brightest.

All of us at Hope by The Sea have the people living in the affected areas in our thoughts and prayers. Please remember the skills you have learned and tools you have for when crisis arises in one’s recovery. This storm is likely to be catastrophic, using drugs and alcohol to cope will only make matters worse. We are here for you, if you need our assistance.

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33171 Paseo Cerveza
San Juan Capistrano
CA 92675