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Hope by the Sea has helped, healed and given hope to thousands through our accredited addiction programs and services.
The miracle of recovery can be yours too.


Friday, July 21, 2017

Mental Illness Treatment Is Vital

mental illness
There have been a significant number of celebrity deaths in recent years, tied to substance use and other forms of mental illness. This week, the lead singer of Linkin Park, Chester Bennington, committed suicide, after battling alcoholism and depression for many years. In May, fans around the world mourned the loss of Chris Cornell of the band Soundgarden, who also suffered from depression and substance abuse issues. Cornell also took his own life.

These are just two cases that highlight the fact that mental illness cares little about wealth and success. Color or creed. If such diseases go untreated, or programs of recovery are not maintained, the outcomes are tragic. Mental illness affects millions around the globe, the clear majority never see the inside of a therapist's office or a treatment center. Musicians Cornell and Bennington were two of more than 300 million people on the planet living with depression. Making it fair to say that more people have a mental illness than any other form of malady.

Unfortunately, getting help for mental health disorders is far more difficult than other health problems. Accessing treatment is difficult and can be expensive, even with health insurance. What’s more, most people living with mental illness are reluctant to talk about it for fear of being stigmatized by their peers. And society. But, treatment and therapy works. People can and do recover, and are able to live fulfilling productive lives, if they are willing to work a program of maintenance.


Speaking Up About Your Mental Illness

If you are living with mental illness, diagnosed but untreated. Or un-diagnosed, but you know there is an issue that should be addressed. We cannot stress just how important it is to reach out for help, despite your fears of social consequence. What is important about caring what your friends and family think, if you are no longer alive to care about it.

People with untreated mental illness are far more likely to experience suicidal ideations. They are far more likely to make attempts, and success at suicide. Additionally, a significant number of people living with untreated mental health disorders end up using drugs and alcohol to cope with their symptoms. A sure path to the formation of another mental illness, addiction. Co-occurring mental health disorders are quite common, in fact, it is almost rare for somebody being treated for addiction to not have a co-occurring disorder.

Perhaps you are self-medicating? If so, please be advised that taking drugs and alcohol only makes your symptoms of depression, et al. worse. It may feel like they are helping, and they may at first. But, in the end you wind up with a more severe problem than you started with.


Co-Occurring Disorder Treatment

If you have become addicted to drugs and/or alcohol due to self-medicating a condition, like depression, please contact Hope by The Sea. We specialize in dual diagnosis cases, and have helped many people who are dealing with issues like yours. The longer treatment is put off, the worse your condition will get.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Needle Exchanges Have Fallout

needle exchanges
It would be ideal if every person in America living with an opioid use disorder received treatment. Given the state of the opioid epidemic, however, that would seem like wishful thinking. Even when you discount opioid use disorder, the clear majority of all people living with addiction never access treatment. But, unlike most other drugs and alcohol, opioids carry a much higher risk of premature death and the transmission of disease via intravenous use. It is for those reasons that more and more states have turned to increasing access to naloxone and the use of needle exchanges. Going a step further, the mayor of Seattle announced earlier this year the implementation of “safe-injection” sites.

All the aforementioned efforts are an attempt to mitigate the yearly death toll from opioid abuse. If treatment cannot be provided to those who need it, the least that can be done is reducing the chance of overdose and the spread of disease. Needle exchanges are perhaps the best way to ensure that IV drug users can access sterile syringes. Exchanges are also an opportunity to discuss addiction recovery with active users.


Needle Exchanges and Fallout

The way needle exchanges are intended to work is that IV users bring in used syringes to be replaced with fresh needles. Give one, get one. This not only mitigates the risk of spreading disease, it keeps potentially infectious needles out of trashcans and street gutters. Unfortunately, it appears that needle exchanges are not always the best about adhering to their own rules. As is evident by the fact that across the country used syringes are popping up everywhere.

Improper disposal of needles is a bi-coastal problem, much like the epidemic itself. In New England and California there has been a major problem with syringes being disposed of in unsafe manners. In beautiful Santa Cruz, California, an organization called Take Back Santa Cruz has found more than 14,500 needles in the county in just 4 1/2 years, NBC News reports. When needles are not disposed of properly, the general public is at risk of getting stuck. Take Back Santa Cruz has received reports of 12 human needle prick cases—half of them involving children.

"It's become pretty commonplace to find them. We call it a rite of passage for a child to find their first needle," said Gabrielle Korte, a member of the group's needle team. "It's very depressing. It's infuriating. It's just gross." 

So, if needle exchanges require the actual “exchange” of syringes, why are so many being discarded improperly? Well, in the case of Santa Cruz, the exchange was previously operated by a nonprofit until 2013, which did not always require users to provide dirty needles to get clean ones, according to the article. Santa Cruz County took over operations of the various exchanges.


A Symptom of A Much Greater Problem

The reason the country needs needle exchanges and the provision of clean syringes is because of our staggering opioid addiction rates. A form of narcotic that many users administer via injection. As dependence gets more severe over time, simply ingesting or snorting opioids does not provide the desired feeling of euphoria. Forcing people to choose the more dangerous route of IV use, which provides more intense and quicker relief.

The more IV drug users that can be encouraged to seek treatment, and can actually access it, the fewer used syringes that will likely be recklessly discarded. At least logically, that is. It is of the utmost importance that IV drug users can access and get the help they desperately need.

If you or a loved one is addicted to opioids, please contact Hope by The Sea today. Recovery is possible, and we can help.

Friday, July 14, 2017

12-Step Meetings, Home Groups and Beyond

It can be easy to get in the habit of going to the same recovery meetings every week. This is, in many ways a good thing. One’s connection to the fellowship is of the utmost importance. It’s paramount that you establish or form a circle of peers that you can rely on when life throws you a curve ball. Recovery is a program that requires us to all lean on each other from time to time. If you are constantly going to a different meeting every day, it can be hard to form strong bonds with your peers. The value of a “home group” cannot be understated.

There may be weeks where it is hard for you to attend a meeting every day. But being sure to get to your home group at least once a week is vital to the strength of your program. If you are still new, and do not have a meeting that you consider your home group, that is OK. However, you should be actively trying to whittle down the various meetings you attend to find one that suits your recovery palate.

Having a home group is kind of like having an extended family. People who may not know you inside and out, but have a vested interest in your health. And in Our case, an interest in continued recovery. The relationships that can be built in one’s home group can last a lifetime.


Visit Other 12-Step Meetings

Your home group should always be your "go-to." It is likely your sponsor's home meeting, as well. Which means even when your life is busy, there is a good chance that you can get some one-on-one time with your sponsor. Either before, or after the meeting. This is an extra level of accountability. If you do not ever see your sponsor, you may not feel inclined to share as much as you might while in their presence. What’s more, given that sharing in early recovery can be a little nerve racking, you might gain some courage from sharing in the company of your sponsor.

To be sure, your home group is your most important meeting of the week. But as the weeks turn into years (god willing), you may find that the meetings you go to are feeling a little stagnant. Fortunately, there are typically scores of meetings every day in a given area. You might consider broadening your horizons and visiting some meeting you have never been to before. Doing so will put you in a position to hear new stories and meet new people.

If you share at a new meeting, you might say something that resonates with a newcomer. You never know. A sponsorship could arise out of you visiting a foreign 12-Step meeting. Every meeting is little different than the next, you might be exposed to different things that appeal to you more than some of your other weekly meetings. If you are feeling lackluster about certain meetings, change it up. Step outside your comfort zone.


Recovery Is Waiting for You

If you are still using drugs and alcohol, and are ready to make some changes for the better, then you might need more help (initially) than meetings can offer. Please contact Hope by The Sea, it is the first step to lasting addiction recovery.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Alcoholism In America: A Wet and Dry History of Recovery

Are you actively working a program of recovery, via the tenets of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA)? If so, then you are a part of the storied history about breaking free from addiction in America. There are people working programs of recovery in over hundred countries around the world, to be sure. But, the origin of the most effective method ever devised has its roots in the history of alcohol in the United States. Dating back centuries.

It seems fitting, that America would be ground zero for the global recovery movement. After all, this great nation’s birth is owed to both enlightenment and liberation. The idea that every human is equal, that compassion and empathy are more powerful than fear and punishment.

Every alcoholic knows what it is like to be mired in mud that is societal stigma. Knowing first-hand how the insidious effect of misunderstanding and stereotyping can deter people from seeking help. Over the years, many an alcoholic has resigned themselves that they would die with a bottle in their hand. Convinced that they were, in fact, everything that society said alcoholics were: weak minded, slaves to the sensual, constitutional-less.


Alcoholism in America and the Birth of Recovery

Over the centuries countless efforts were made by individuals to free themselves from the grip of alcohol. In other cases, crude methods of breaking the alcoholic from their destructive habit were forced upon people at sanitariums, and the like. While abstinence may have been achieved for periods of time, the effects were always fleeting. Then comes World War I, Prohibition, the Great Depression, the Volstead Act’s end and World War II. But, over the course of two decades a groundbreaking program of recovery would be developed. This would lead to the liberation of millions of alcoholics around the globe, for years to come.

Beacon Press published a book recently, authored by Christopher M. Finan, which probes deep into the role of alcohol in America’s history. “Drunks: An American History,” covers 300 years of alcohol, alcoholism, temperance, treatment and recovery. Regarding alcoholism recovery in the U.S., Finan shows how temperance and prohibition, coincided with the government ending support for a number of institutions, like the Minnesota Hospital Farm for Inebriates, The New York Times Book Review reports. Alcoholics were left with nowhere to turn for help. The government reasoned erroneously, as they did with the “war on drugs” years later, that eradication and punishment would put a stop to addiction. It does not!

In the time preceding the Volstead Act, organizations like the Mission Recovery Groups [Boozers' Brigade, United Order of Ex-Boozers (1870 - 1915)] and the Oxford Groups (1921), would be precursors to Alcoholics Anonymous. When in 1931, a man named Roland Hazard got sober, worked with a one Sam Schumacher, who then carried the message to Ebby Thatcher. If you are familiar with AA history, then you know that Ebby paid it forward to Bill Wilson. While Ebby would relapse, Bill shared what he had found with Dr. Bob and thus, Alcoholics Anonymous was born.

Abstinence, sobriety and recovery (even among bottom of the barrel alcoholics) were proven to be an achievable goals. Temperance in America dates back to the first prohibition in the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1633, in 1935 Alcoholics Anonymous is created—some 300 years later.

“The fight against addiction is one of America’s great liberation movements,” Christopher M. Finan writes.”


A Profound Debt

“Drunks: An American History” would likely be a fascinating summer read for not just people in recovery, but for those whose loved one has been touched by the disease. Everyone working a program would do themselves a great service by taking a moment to be grateful for the thousands of people who fought to recover from alcoholism. Without them, you may not have found a meeting to attend, a seat to sit in or a sponsor to guide you through the process of recovery.

Are you still in the grips of active drug and/or alcohol abuse? If so, please contact Hope by The Sea. Recovery is possible, and the program works, if you are willing to work it.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Prescription Opioids for Mental Health Disorders?

People living with a mental health disorder of any kind should stay clear of mind-altering drugs, from marijuana right on to opioids. Yet, a significant percentage of people suffering from depression or bipolar disorder will use drugs and/or alcohol to cope with their symptoms of untreated mental illness. In the field of addiction medicine, co-occurring mental health disorders are common place. That is when somebody is diagnosed with addiction, and another form of mental illness.

Addiction professionals work hard to treat both conditions in order to increase a patient's chances of long-term recovery. Co-occurring mental illness is not a new concept. There should not be a licensed, practicing physician in the country who is unfamiliar with dual diagnosis cases. Doctors who treat patients with any form of mental illness should avoid prescribing a mind-altering narcotic, such as OxyContin, unless it is absolutely necessary. The propensity for abuse is staggering.

Unfortunately, despite the need for physicians who are versed in the nature of addiction and mental illness, it would seem that most fail to see the danger of prescribing opioids to mental health patients. New research published in the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine, has some shocking figures that should be considered.


Some Opioids With Your Depression?

Researchers from Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center found that patients with anxiety and depression are disproportionately prescribed painkillers, INDIESOURCES reports. Almost 19 percent of American adults with mental health disorders (38.6 million) use prescription opioids, compared to 5 percent of patients not touched by mental illness.

This next figure might floor you, so brace yourself. There are 115 million opioid prescriptions distributed each year across the country, adults living with depression and anxiety receive 51 percent of those prescriptions, according to the study. Keeping that figure in mind, Americans with mental health disorders only make up 16 percent of the U.S. population. 51 percent of opioids to 16 percent of the population?

Image Credit: Dartmouth-Hitchcock

“Because of the vulnerable nature of patients with mental illness, such as their susceptibility for opioid dependency and abuse, this finding warrants urgent attention to determine if the risks associated with such prescribing are balanced with therapeutic benefits,” said Brian Sites, an anesthesiologist at Dartmouth-Hitchcock and study co-author. 

Dr. Sites believes that curbing the over-prescribing of opioids within the mental health community could be achieved by expanding access to alternative forms of pain management. Such as:
  • Acupuncture
  • Massage Therapy
  • Physical Therapy
  • Non-Opioid Drugs

Opioid Use Disorder Treatment

The study did not look into whether people with depression and anxiety are, in fact, injured more than the general public. Enough to warrant the market share of all opioids. But, we can probably be assured that the answer is absolutely not. What is more likely is that a number of people with untreated mental health disorders are attempting to mitigate their symptoms by way of drugs that produce euphoria and pain relief. Opioids can dull both physical and emotional pain.

In the long run, however, using opioids to escape the symptoms of anxiety or depression will only lead to dependence, addiction and a heightened potential for overdose. It will also make your symptoms of mental illness worse, over time. If you are self-medicating your mental illness with opioids, please contact Hope by The Sea today. We can effectively treat both the addiction and co-occurring mental health disorder.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Alcohol and Drugs Linked to Attention Deficit

binge drinking
Do you struggle to stay focused on certain tasks? Perhaps you find yourself constantly losing your train of thought? Maybe you find it difficult to multi-task? If you answered "yes" to any of those questions, it is possible that you have concentration problems. You may even be struggling with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) or some other form of cognitive dysfunction. It also might be the case that you have drunk too much alcohol or smoked too much marijuana. Maybe you use harder drugs, like cocaine or opioids.

Over the years there has been significant research to support claims that drug and alcohol use impair cognitive function. Especially heavy use and abuse. The toll that introducing mind-altering substance can take is extensive. Yet, many of those who drink in unhealthy ways are often unaware of the true extent of the damage.

The clear majority of people with alcohol and substance use disorders never seek or get treatment for their illness. With that in mind, a significant number of people experiencing cognitive deficits may in fact have a problem with drugs and/or alcohol.


Attention Deficits Link to Drugs and Alcohol

New research conducted at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health and Columbia University Medical Center found that cognitive impairments due to frequent alcohol or drug use may be a major problem in the general population, ScienceDaily reports. The researchers found that deficits in attention are far from limited to people who have been treated for addiction. The study, the first of its kind to link people's impairments using information to binge drinking, marijuana, cocaine, opioids, tranquilizers and stimulants in general population adults, was published in the journal Addiction.

"Regardless if cognitive impairments precede substance use or vice versa, poorer cognitive functioning negatively impacts daily life and may cause lack of insight into one's substance use as a source of problems, impeding treatment utilization or decreasing the likelihood of effective treatment," said senior author Deborah Hasin, PhD, Columbia Mailman School of Public Health professor of Epidemiology and in the Department of Psychiatry at Columbia University Medical Center. 

People who engage in frequent and infrequent binge drinking and use drugs (stimulants, in particular) scored lower on executive functioning tests, according to the article. The scale was associated with frequent binge drinking and drug use, particularly cocaine. As we have defined before, binge drinking is typified by having four drinks for women and 5 drinks for men, over a two-hour period. The study set the binge drinking bar at four or more drinks for women and at least 5 drinks for men, a day.

"While abstinence or reduced substance use may partially improve cognition, future research should determine whether factors shown to protect against cognitive impairments in aging adults, such as a healthy diet, and physical and intellectual activities, also protect against cognitive impairments in populations with difficulties in reducing substance use," said Dr. Hasin.


Addiction Treatment Can Help

If you are regular heavy drinker, or engage in drug use, there is a chance that a problem may be present. Have you found that you have trouble remembering things or staying on task? If so, you would be wise to be screened for an alcohol or substance use disorder. Please contact Hope by The Sea for a free consultation. It should go without saying that the longer it goes untreated, the worse that it will get.

Friday, June 30, 2017

Addiction Recovery: Self-Will, Slavery and Independence

addiction recovery
If you have a history of mental illness, particularly addiction, then you know what it is like to feel powerless over something. Hopefully, you are now working a program of recovery and living life one day at a time. Free from drugs and alcohol. Making a commitment to practice the principles of recovery in your affairs is not an easy task, but it is far better than the alternative—as you surely must know.

You can probably remember being in the grips of total despair before making the decision to seek help. Choice was no longer a word in your lexicon, at least when it came to using drugs and/or alcohol. In many ways, you were a slave to the very substances that were, in fact, eroding your spirit, and slowly taking your life. Everyone who has been touched by the disease has an acute understanding of wanting to stop, but being unable. Only when one’s life has become totally unmanageable; do they find the strength to revolt against their illness and seek treatment.

Deciding to seek treatment can occur in young adulthood, if one's decline to the bottom happens rapidly. In some ways, that is ideal; the longer one abuses drugs and alcohol the greater the toll on mind and body. For many, though, their addiction takes significantly longer to progress to a point where they have had enough. In a sense, decades of bondage are the lot of the addict and alcoholic.


The Bondage of Self

People working program know that alcohol and drugs are but a symptom of a much greater problem—that of “Self.” We thought we were slaves to drugs and alcohol, but we were actually slaves to "Self." Our needs, wants and desires govern us in ways much like our fellow man. Where we differ, however, is the lengths we are willing to go satiate such needs. When we got what we wanted—we used to cope with the success. When we didn’t—we used to cope with the failure. People treated us unfairly—we used. We treated others unfairly—we used to cope with the guilt. The trademark of self-will run riot, as is often said in the rooms of recovery.

The addict and alcoholic in many ways suffers from a god-complex. Thinking that we are in control of our world, and all others are our agents. Cognitively we may have known that it is a delusion at the time, but subconsciously we could not help but act as if it were the truth. Untreated addiction is the byproduct of being unable to accept the things we can’t change, and lacking the courage to change the things we can. Pardon the reverse of the Serenity Prayer, but it aptly illustrates the problem of self and the alcoholic's inability to cope with life, on life’s terms.

“Selfishness - self-centeredness! That, we think, is the root of our troubles. Driven by a hundred forms of fear, self-delusion, self-seeking, and self-pity, we step on the toes of our fellows and they retaliate. Sometimes they hurt us, seemingly without provocation, but we invariably find that at some time in the past we have made decisions based on self which later placed us in a position to be hurt… So our troubles, we think, are basically of our own making. They arise out of ourselves, and the alcoholic is an extreme example of self-will run riot...”
—The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous (Page 62)— 

Working a program of recovery starts with daily surrender. Followed by fostering a relationship with our higher power that will guide us along the way. Through acknowledging that we do not run the show, that our way was killing us; we realized that we need help, by way of direction. We needed the help of our higher powers.

“...we had to quit playing God. It didn't work. Next, we decided that hereafter in this drama of life, God was going to be our Director. He is the Principal; we are His agents. He is the Father, and we are His children. Most good ideas are simple, and this concept was the keystone of the new and triumphant arch through which we passed to freedom.”


Independence From Self In Recovery

What you have read thus far may appear to be somewhat abstract. Yet, if you are an addict or alcoholic, it probably rings true inside. You had to surrender to the power of something greater to gain your independence from Self. The 4th of July is coming up early next week, when we honor or forefathers who fought for freedom from tyranny. With that idea in mind, you may want to take a moment on Tuesday to acknowledge your freedom from Self in recovery. In many ways, your sobriety date is your “independence day.”

Every day in recovery is both a blessing and a miracle. Which should never be discounted or minimized. After all, recovery is your raison d'être—the most important reason or purpose for someone or something's existence. Through a constant connection with your higher power you are, in effect, emancipated. At Hope by The Sea we would like to wish everyone in recovery a safe and sober holiday weekend.

God, I offer myself to Thee To build with me & to do with me as Thou wilt. Relieve me of the bondage of self, that I may better do Thy will. Take away my difficulties, that victory over them may bear witness to those I would help of Thy Power, Thy love & Thy way of life. May I do Thy will always.
 —The Third Step Prayer—

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Research Society on Alcoholism

Addiction treatment in the modern world may center around programs like the 12-Steps and SMART Recovery, but there is a lot more going on behind the scenes that is important for successful outcomes. Advancements in understanding how this most serious mental health disorder comes about, how it operates and how it can be treated is owed to researchers around the world. Those people who have worked tirelessly for decades to give the afflicted a greater chance at long-term recovery.

In a relatively short period of time, game-changing medications have been developed that have helped countless people around the world break the cycle of addiction. Today, it is hard to imagine opioid use disorder detox without the assistance of Suboxone or Subutex. Some researchers are in the preliminary stages of starting clinical trials on a heroin vaccine, which would prevent people from getting “high.” For alcoholics, many have been aided in their recovery by drugs like Antabuse, acamprosate and naltrexone (also used for opioid addiction). Mitigating the risk of relapse can come from other directions, too.

It is a fact that many of those who are touched by addiction are also impacted by co-occurring mental health disorders. Depression, post-traumatic stress and bipolar disorder to name a few. Advancements in treating such conditions have also led to reductions in relapse. Treating addiction today involves a multifaceted approach, utilizing various medication and cognitive behavioral therapies. To be used in conjunction with programs of recovery that have proven to be quite effective, such as Alcoholics Anonymous. While relapse rates have been affected by the work of scientists, there is always room for improvement. The work of researchers may, one day, lead to the development of a cure.


Research Society on Alcoholism

To be sure, opioid use disorder is major problem affecting millions of Americans. But, alcohol continues to be the number one offender when it comes addiction around the globe. A problem that is exacerbated by the legality of the drug. As a result, research in the field of alcoholism is of the utmost importance. Right now, the 40th annual Research Society on Alcoholism (RSA) Scientific Meeting is being held in Denver, Colorado between June 25-28, Newswise reports. Scientists and clinicians from around the globe are meeting to discuss advancements in the field and the findings of new research. The event includes eight highlights, including research that shows that:
  • Adolescent binge drinking can lead to epigenetic reprogramming that predisposes an individual to later psychiatric disorders such as anxiety.
  • Alcoholic patients are at greater risk for age-related illnesses, such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer and dementia.
  • A lifestyle physical activity intervention supported by a Fitbit device can successfully supplement existing alcohol treatment among depressed women during early recovery.
  • Military sexual trauma (MST) can lead to mental, physical, and behavioral health consequences (i.e., substance use/abuse).
  • Risky drinking, hazardous alcohol use, and alcohol use disorder can be identified by amounts consumed. (Tuesday, June 27, 1:25 p.m. MT)
  • The number of marijuana-positive drivers increased 50 percent over a seven-year period. (presenting Tuesday, June 27, 1:25 p.m. MT)
  • Unaccompanied homeless youths have high rates of sexual and physical victimization. (Wednesday, June 28, 9:20 a.m. MT)
  • Digital interventions can help people make smarter drinking decisions, leading to reduced alcohol-related injuries and illness. (presenting Wednesday, June 28, 12:50 p.m. MT)
The RSA is an important annual event that shines a light on findings that can help people recover from addiction. For more information, please click here.


A Greater Chance of Recovery

We would like to applaud every researcher working in this field to help the millions worldwide recover from alcoholism. If you or a loved one is struggling with an alcohol use disorder (AUD), please contact Hope by The Sea. We utilize practices that give people the best chance at achieving long-term recovery.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Opioid Overdose, Alcohol and Suicide

overdose deaths
In the 21st Century, with all the modern advancements in the field of medicine, life expectancy should be better than it’s ever been. But unfortunately, for the age group that is typically the healthiest, the death rate has been on the rise. Because despite all the tools at our disposal, addiction is a disease that has no cure. While there are methods to reign in the disorder via programs of recovery, accessing treatment has been difficult for millions of Americans. What’s more, the opioid overdose reversal drug naloxone is not as available as it should be.

People between the age of 25 and 44 are in the prime of their life. Their bodies have yet to feel or show the effects gravity. The immune systems of people in that age group are as strong as they are ever going to be, and they are likely to be physically fit. Yet, researchers are witnessing a decline in life expectancy for 25 to 44-year olds, for the first time since 1993, across nearly every racial and ethnic group, The Washington Post reports. After conducting an analysis, it was revealed that between 2010 and 2015 the overall death rate for people in this age group rose by 8 percent. And yes, overdose deaths were the cause.


Overdose and Alcohol Takes Its Toll

The analysis found that alcohol abuse has been leading to premature deaths as well. After the recession, a significant number of people failed to get back on their feet. To cope with the feelings that accompany being impoverished and destitute, many turned to drugs and alcohol. Alcohol, overdose and suicide have all played a hand in the increasing death rate. The rate of death is up:
  • 4 percent with African Americans.
  • 7 percent with Hispanics.
  • 12 percent with Whites.
  • 18 percent with Native Americans.
  • Asian Americans deaths are up, but it’s not statistically significant.
“What it reflects is an out-of-control epidemic right now,” said Josh Sharfstein, director of the Bloomberg American Health Initiative at Johns Hopkins. “It’s affecting the economy. It’s affecting the entire community. This is an absolute call to action for public health.”

Please take a moment to watch a short video on the subject:

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


Addiction Treatment Saves Lives

While the disease of addiction affects people from all walks of life, rich or poor, people in lower socioeconomic brackets have been hit the hardest. Such people also struggle to access the effective methods of addiction treatment for opioid use disorder. Naloxone is still hard to come by in a number of states, which means while people wait for beds in treatment, the risk of overdose death is extremely high.

Laws have been passed to address a lack of addiction treatment services, but their effects have yet to ripple across the country. It is vital that something be done immediately, whole generations are at risk. The death rates among this age group should be going down with each year that passes and yet here we are. Parents are burying their children. Grandparents are raising their grandchildren. Treatment works, and everyone who desires it should be able to access it regardless of the financial burden it places on the state or Federal government.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Serious Mental Illness In America

mental illness
The importance of treating mental illness cannot be stressed enough. Untreated mental health disorders make people's lives unmanageable, affecting entire families. Yet, despite ways to screen for and treat mental health problems, like depression and bipolar disorder, too many Americans are not getting the help they need. Which, more times than not, leads to destructive behavior.

In the field of addiction medicine, we know first-hand that people with untreated mental health disorders often resort to drugs and alcohol. A slippery slope to dependence and addiction—to be sure. Those who use mind-altering substances to mitigate their symptoms of mental illness are actually making their original problem worse. Their symptoms are exacerbated by drugs and alcohol. Self-medicating mental illness not only leads to addiction, it can cause suicidal ideations. Every year, thousands of Americans with undiagnosed or untreated mental illness make attempts on their own lives. In many cases, they succeed.

To better understand the scope and scale of both mental illness in America, and how often people get help for it, scientific research is needed. But just knowing that people are being helped is only the first step to encouraging people to seek help. When they do ask for assistance, we need to make sure that adequate treatments are available.


Adults Living With Mental Illness

A new government report found that almost 10 million Americans are living with a serious mental health disorder, HealthDay reports. There are 9.8 million people reporting having had serious thoughts about taking their own life in the past year. What’s more, over a third of such people do not receive any help, which researcher Dr. Beth Han believes results from a lack of health insurance, not knowing where to get help and the stigma associated with serious mental illness. The findings were published in the Behavioral Health Barometer.

"They are afraid that other people may find out," Han said. 

The report covered a broad spectrum of mental health problems, including addiction. The findings showed that 15.7 million people abuse alcohol and 7.7 million abuse illicit drugs in this country, according to the article. An estimated 12.5 million people have misused prescription painkillers. Which makes sense, considering the opioid addiction epidemic we face today.


Treatment Is The Answer

To be sure, lack of resources and health insurance can certainly impact one’s ability to get the help they desperately need. However, if people are scared to seek help for fear of social stigma, the consequences can be even more dire. When people feel like they either must continue to suffer from symptoms or be ostracized by their community, the former can seem like the better option. As one’s symptoms continue to go untreated, they get worse. If they are using drugs or alcohol to calm such symptoms, addiction often takes root. Now, they have a co-occurring mental health disorder to contend with.

It is vital they every American does their part to show compassion for those living with mental illness. We will all be better for it. There are effective methods of treatment that are being severely underutilized, because of social stigma.  When people have no other options, they will resort to methods that make them even more sick.

It is vital that co-occurring disorders are treated simultaneously. If you or a loved one is abusing drugs and alcohol to treat symptoms of mental illness, please contact Hope by The Sea today. We can help.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Marijuana Legalization Affects College Students

Last week we wrote about using marijuana taxes from legal sales to pay for addiction treatment. Both novel, and welcomed to be sure. While paying for addiction treatment with marijuana money is great, states who have legalized the drug need to ensure that the right messages about marijuana are being disseminated. Smoking “pot” can be a slippery slope to other addictive, far more damaging substances.

Young people, typically, try alcohol and tobacco before they move on to marijuana. Not always, but most of the time. That being said, people who drink alcohol are far more likely to smoke marijuana, as well. It is well known that marijuana and alcohol, when used together, are synergistic—meaning that one amplifies the effects of the other. Teenagers and young adults who use both substances, are not only at risk of addiction, they also risk harming their brain.

In states across the country which have legalized marijuana for people over the age of 21 should be bound to explain the science of drug use to young people. As this is a demographic that commonly has delusions of invincibility. Using marijuana before the brain is fully development can have a life-long impact.


Researching Marijuana Use

Recreational use was first legalized in Washington and Colorado, then followed by Oregon and Alaska. Last November, more states came on-board with legalization, including California. Since legal “weed” is still a new thing, there is little research about the impact that it has had on young people. A team of researchers sought to find if legalization resulted in more use among college students.

"Americans are conducting a big experiment with marijuana," says David Kerr, an associate professor in the School of Psychological Science in OSU's College of Liberal Arts. "We need science to tell us what the results of it are." 

The study, published in the journal Addiction, showed that at one college in Oregon marijuana use has increased, according to an Oregon State University press release. Perhaps even more concerning is that the rise in use was mostly among college students who reported recent heavy alcohol use. Specifically binge drinking, that is when men consume 5 or more drinks or women consume 4 or more drinks during a 2-hour period. Oregon State University students who engage in binge drinking were found to be 73 percent more likely to also report marijuana use.

"We think this tells us more about the people who binge drink than about the effects of alcohol itself," said Kerr. "Those who binge drink may be more open to marijuana use if it is easy to access, whereas those who avoid alcohol for cultural or lifestyle reasons might avoid marijuana regardless of its legal status."


Cannabis Use Disorder

Legalization, without any doubt, is far better than the alternative. Criminalizing drug use is not the solution, and only leads to mass incarceration. That being said, young people need to be educated that legal does not mean safe. And that heavy use can result in a cannabis use disorder, which could require treatment. The National Survey on Drug Use and Health has found that since the drug has been legalized more people have been voluntarily seeking treatment for marijuana addiction.

If you are struggling with cannabis use disorder, please contact Hope by The Sea Today.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Binge Drinking to Type 2 Diabetes

binge drinking
It should go without saying that the sooner someone with an alcohol use disorder gets help—the better. As is the case with any form of substance use disorder. Yet, more often than not, people living with the disease of addiction resist recovery, even when they know how desperately they are in need. It is one of the paradoxes of mental illness. Our mind tells us that what we are doing is, in fact, killing us. But, try as we might, mustering up the strength and courage to seek assistance flies in the face of a disease that is constantly telling you that you are OK.

Couple such conflicting feelings with the stigma that lingers around people with any form of mental illness, and the obstacles to getting treatment become fiercer. In many cases the reason people seek treatment is the desire to put the pieces of one’s life back together. That is, get family and friends back, or be in a position to form new relationships. Others will say they were tired of being homeless, or having to constantly find new jobs every time a boss got wise to their condition. The list of reasons could probably go on ad infinitum, but perhaps the most important reason to seek treatment is to stop or even reverse the physical/mental damage that drugs and alcohol do to the mind and body.

Once again, it seems like the list of conditions that can arise from long-term alcohol and substance abuse grows with each passing year. Some of which can be deadly. While most people are aware that an unhealthy relationship with alcohol can lead to cirrhosis of the liver, pancreatic cancer, et al., there are a number of other potentially fatal health problems that can spring from heavy alcohol use. Therefore, it is so vital that brakes be applied to the wheel of addiction, sooner rather than later.


Alcohol Abuse Driven Diabetes

Men and women, without any doubt, consume alcohol in different ways and in different quantities. Most of the time. What’s more, how people drink and the problems that behaviors like "binge drinking" (typically happens when men consume 5 or more drinks or women consume 4 or more drinks in about 2 hours) can lead to down the road, are different depending on gender. This is important to keep in mind. While men binge drink more often than women, women who engage in the practice may be at risk of health problems that have not been associated with male binge drinkers.

A study published in the open access journal BMC Public Health indicates that women who engage in binge drinking are at a heightened risk of type 2 diabetes, later in life, ScienceDaily reports. The association held true even after adjusting for BMI, hypertension and smoking. The researchers did not find the same correlation among male binge drinkers over a 27-year period. Lead author, Dr Karina Nygren of Umea University, Sweden, said:
“Our findings show that high alcohol consumption from ages 16 to 43 is associated with higher blood glucose levels in women but not in men. Because higher blood glucose is a risk factor for the development of type 2 diabetes, our data suggest that informing people about the risk of high alcohol consumption at a young age could have positive health impacts further down the line."


Treatment Will Save Life

If you are female binge drinker, it doesn’t mean that you have an alcohol use disorder—necessarily. However, those who binge drink over the course of many years are more likely to be dependent on alcohol, or at the very least an unhealthy relationship with the substance. If your life is unmanageable, and you make promises to yourself about drinking that you are unable to fulfill, you would be wise to consult professionals. The longer one puts it off, the worse it gets—trust us on this one.

For others, you may already know that you are living with an alcohol use disorder. If that is the case please contact Hope By The Sea immediately. We can introduce you to the lifesaving mission of addiction recovery, providing you with skills and tools to help keep your addiction at bay so that you can live a healthy, fulfilling life.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Opioid Addiction Funding Via Marijuana

opioid use disorder
All of us in California are now aware that we are in store for a whole new era of marijuana across the state. With the passing of Proposition 64, recreational use of cannabis is now legal for people over the age of 21. For many Californians, legalizing the hotly contested drug is a breath of fresh air, especially for those who know the true costs of the “war on drugs.” This campaign was launched under the auspices of protecting the American people, but actually resulted in the disenfranchisement of millions of Americans.

It is not a secret that the majority of people serving time in prison for nonviolent drug offenses are minorities. Once in the system, getting out of it is arguably next to impossible to achieve. Recidivism rates are staggering in the United States. And the states which have opted to go against the Federal government on “pot” seem to be acutely aware of the insanity of locking people up for possessing marijuana.

Critics of both medical marijuana and legalization fear that it encourages marijuana use, giving teenagers and young adults false perceptions about the dangers of use. Before we move any further, it must be stressed that while cannabis is certainly benign compared to let’s say heroin—it’s far from safe. Particularly for young people. People’s fears are, without a doubt warranted, but legalization is likely the lesser of two evils when you consider the alternative.

What’s more, there is a chance that the millions and billions of dollars in taxes that will be collected on the sales of cannabis products could actually be used for some good when comes to treating addiction in America. Yes, that’s right, marijuana is being taxed in legal states much like alcohol, which means that there are ample resources available for combating more serious drug related issues in America, such as the opioid addiction epidemic.


Taxing Marijuana to Pay for Another

The state of Colorado, along with Washington, paved the way for legalization in the U.S. Both programs have had some success and failure, but overall there is little evidence to suggest that marijuana use has risen dramatically as a result. Both programs are still relatively new, so we will get a clearer picture about the pros and cons as time moves forward. In the meantime, however, marijuana sales may actually help offset the staggering costs of the opioid epidemic; which would certainly be a silver lining to whatever downsides come with recreational cannabis.

In fact, Colorado's 2016-2017 fiscal year collected $105 million from taxing marijuana sales, Money reports. A portion of that money will be used to cover some of the costs of tackling substance use disorder (SUD) throughout the state, especially regrding opioids. The funds will also be used to help the homeless and people struggling with mental health issues.

Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper signed SB-17-074, allotting $500,000 annually for sending more trained medical professionals to two rural counties (Pueblo and Routt) hit especially hard by the epidemic, but only have four doctors in these two counties to treat opioid use disorder.


Going Forward

Using marijuana proceeds to help stem the tide of the opioid epidemic is both novel and smart. States affected by this crisis have been spread thin financially and personnel-wise. In California, which will likely rake in far more money than Colorado in the long run, could allocate resources in the same way to address the opioid use disorder and overdose rates throughout the Golden State.

If you or a loved one had been caught in the stranglehold of opioid addiction, please contact Hope by The Sea today. We can assist you in breaking the cycle of addiction and help get you started on the lifesaving journey of recovery.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Early Recovery, Coffee and Movie Theaters

If you have been attending 12-Step recovery meetings for even a short time, then you are probably aware by now that coffee is a staple beverage to many people working a program. Making the caffeinated beverage for meetings is a commitment for some members and drinking it at meetings is a must for many more. After meetings end, meeting-goers will often gather at local coffee houses to drink more coffee and chat about various things—program related or not. Some will head to such establishments to do step work with their sponsor.

The point is, coffee is in many ways a constant in recovery. One could easily argue that no other drink has been a part of so many lives changing for the better than coffee. And a major reason that people in recovery ask newcomers to join them for a cup of joe at a coffee house is that, unlike restaurants, cafes typically do not serve alcohol. Which makes such establishments a perfect environment for those who have yet to strengthen their recovery legs.

It seems like most Americans turn to Starbucks for their coffee. This makes sense because no other coffee purveyor is as ubiquitous as the Seattle-based franchise. Which is why it came as a disheartening shock to many working a program when Starbucks announced in 2012 that they would begin offering beer, wine and spirits at locations across the country. In 2015, the company launched their "Evenings" program, which offered a tapas food menu, along with beer and wine.


Alcohol Didn’t Make Sense, After All

For many young adults, alcohol at Starbucks was probably quite welcome. For a number of people working a program of recovery whose Starbucks became one of the more than 400 select locations selling alcohol, it was time to find a new coffee shop. However, it seems that the coffee powerhouse had second thoughts about moving forward with the Evening's program and began pivoting away from alcohol, towards healthy lunch options in January 2017, Time: Money reported. Which means, there will be over 400 more newcomer friendly coffee houses in the near future.

It is always worth pointing out that people in recovery do not, and should not need to totally eschew every establishment that sells alcohol. The substance is so pervasive, it is almost impossible to avoid being around it in certain situations. Yet, for those who are still new to the Steps, and the pitfalls of early recovery, any time you can steer clear of alcohol—the better. You never know what might trigger you to crave alcohol. But, if you follow direction and practice the principles of recovery in all your affairs, there will hardly be a situation that involves alcohol that you can’t navigate through.

Although, it requires that one be vigilant about being honest with yourself and with others in the program, if you are to get to a place where that is possible. This is vital because it seems that more and more activities that were once safe havens for people in the program are now catering to people with a taste for alcohol


Silver Screens and Alcohol

In many states across the country, movie theaters are now offering alcohol at the concession stand. Along with buttery popcorn and Sno-Caps, moviegoers can now buy beer and wine. Going to a movie after a meeting is a common occurrence among many young people in the program. It is an activity that has historically been early recovery friendly. Not so much anymore.

That is not to say that newcomers can’t go see a motion picture anymore. Rather, if you are going to a theater that caters to drinkers, you probably should go with another member in the program. Going it alone is not worth the risk. The stakes are far too high.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Spreading Dangerous Lies About Opioids

In 1980, almost forty years ago now, a letter was written to the editor of the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) by a graduate student. The letter, was more of a paragraph long observation about nearly 40,000 hospital patients at a hospital in Boston. The letter stated that of the 40,000 patients, almost 12,000 received a narcotic, and of the patients who had no history of addiction, there were only four (4) documented cases of substance use disorder. The letter was written by Dr. Hershel Jick, a drug specialist at Boston University Medical Center.

At this point you may be wondering what a letter to the editor of the NEJM has to do with opioid addiction in America, today. Simply put, Dr. Jick’s words would be used by the pharmaceutical industry to convince doctors who were wary about prescribing take-home opioids. You see, in the 1980’s, physicians used far more discretion when it came to prescribing opioids than in the following decades. When Dr. Jick wrote that letter, he never intended or could have foreseen the opioid epidemic it would precipitate.

"I'm essentially mortified that that letter to the editor was used as an excuse to do what these drug companies did," Jick told The Associated Press in an interview on Wednesday. "They used this letter to spread the word that these drugs were not very addictive."


Spreading Lies About Opioids

The New England Journal of Medicine recently added an editor's note about Jick’s letter and published a study about the letter’s impact. A group of researchers in Canada found that the 1980 letter has been cited more than 600 times over the years, CBS News reports. The analysis showed that Jick’s words were used to disseminate the idea that opioid addiction was rare, those citing the 1980 findings failed to point out that the narcotics were used only in a hospital setting, rather than chronic pain outpatient cases.

Nevertheless, over the years, doctor’s began to drink the drug companies Kool-Aid, which was fairly easy to swallow given the incentives for prescribing a particular drug. However, the fact that medical community found a way to justify rampant over prescribing, even in the face of ever-increasing addiction and overdose rates, is in many ways mind boggling, but the problem wasn’t just the physicians. The American Medical Association, et al., taking the letter at face value, encouraged doctors to more adequately address patient pain—by any means necessary it would seem. The recent NEJM editor's note attached to the letter, states:

"For reasons of public health, readers should be aware that this letter has been 'heavily and uncritically cited' as evidence that addiction is rare with opioid therapy."


What Now?

With around a hundred people overdosing every day due to opioid narcotics, and doctors still relying heavily on such drugs to treat chronic pain—solutions are desperately needed. Look no further than the New England Journal of Medicine. The Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and the Director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Nora D. Volkow, M.D., and Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D., published an article in the NEJM stating that NIDA and the NIH will partner with the pharmaceutical industry to launch an initiative in three scientific areas:
  • Developing better overdose-reversal and prevention interventions to reduce mortality, saving lives for future treatment and recovery.
  • Finding new, innovative medications and technologies to treat opioid addiction.
  • Finding safe, effective, nonaddictive interventions to manage chronic pain.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Accidental Advocate for Mental Health

mental health
It has been nearly three (3) years since the former star of the 70’s hit show Mork & Mindy (1978–82), Robin Williams, took his own life on August 11, 2014. The news of the beloved stand-up comedian and actor's suicide came as a shock to most people who were, at the time, unaware of William’s battle with mental illness. Specifically, addiction to cocaine and alcohol, which he sought help for over the years. Just prior to his passing, Robin had sought treatment for alcoholism in mid-2014 and his publicist Mara Buxbaum told CNN that Williams was struggling with severe depression leading up to the suicide.

While William’s suicide was a sad day for not just Americans, but comedy lovers around the globe, it did have the unintended effect of getting people to talk about the deadly nature of mental health disorders. People who struggle with any form of mental illness, such as addiction, anxiety and depression, actually have a serious impact on those who are close to the individual. There is a significant amount of fallout that cannot help but scar the friends and family of the afflicted. When mental illness leads to tragedy, those left behind cannot help but wonder, "Could I have done more?”

Such questions, while understandable, do little good. What’s done, is done. No amount of regret or guilt can bring back lost loved ones. On the other hand, those left trying to make sense of it all, can use the pain they are feeling to help prevent other families from experiencing the kind of tragedy. In death, William’s story can potentially save lives.


Advocating for Mental Health

Zelda Williams (27) is the daughter of the late comedian. As you can imagine, her father's passing was a traumatic experience. But, in the wake of the tragedy she has decided to use her loss to help others, people struggling with untreated mental health disorders. Zelda says she’s become an “accidental advocate” for mental health. In Los Angeles last week, Ms. Williams hosted a luncheon for the Hope and Grace Initiative, sponsored by beauty company Philosophy and the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), Women’s Health reports. The object of the event was to raise both funding and awareness for mental health.

"Just because you can’t see something doesn’t mean it’s not ruining someone’s life," she tells the magazine. She adds, "There’s a realization that everyone is fighting a different battle and you can’t fight it for someone else but you can try to understand." 

Zelda understands how important it is for people to understand what it means to live with mental illness, according to the article. And the value of everyone opening their ears and showing compassion to those struggling with such conditions. Ms. Williams hopes to find ways to offer affordable treatment for people with any form of mental illness—especially young adults.

"I’m a huge supporter of therapy, particularly for people in my age group of 25 to 30 when a lot of people think they would have had sorted through life and figured it out," says Zelda. "But therapy is still a privilege because it is so expensive for a lot of people and I wish it was more available."


Seeking Help for Mental Illness

Like Robin Williams, a significant number of people living with depression or anxiety use drugs and alcohol to self-medicate. For a time, mind-altering substances may mitigate the severity of one’s symptoms; but, in the end they only make the problem worse and often result in the development of addiction. It is vital that both the addiction and the co-occurring mental health disorders be treated at the same time.

If you or a loved one has been self-medicating the symptoms of mental illness, please contact Hope by The Sea.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Distractions In Addiction Recovery

Every week, 365 days a year meetings of addiction recovery take place not just here in America, but around the world. People coming together to take part in a life-saving fellowship, with the mission of not using drugs or alcohol, no matter what. And it is no easy feat. Those who commit themselves to working an honest program must look the darkness of addiction in the eye in order to bask in the light of recovery. One should process things with a sponsor or recovery coach that are not easy, but extremely important.

Most people who begin working a program of recovery get caught up on the 4th Step. The point of the process that involves making “a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves." To make it through to the other side of Step 4, one must work hand in hand with their sponsor to gain a better understanding of some of the root causes of one’s addiction. It requires being honest about your moral deficits and shortcomings. Accepting that the problem is not the other people or even the drugs and alcohol. The problem is You. And nobody, but yourself, is responsible for how you got to where you find yourself and your chances for success in recovery. Please, please do not find ways to put off this most important step.

It could be easy to write a whole article about the minutiae of the Fourth Step; however, that is something you will do at length with your sponsor. What we would like to discuss today is distractions, and how they can impede your ability to feel the sunlight of the spirit, work the steps and be there for your fellow alcoholic or addict.


Connection In Recovery Is Everything

As was mentioned in the last paragraph, success rests upon you. While that is true in more than one way, it is important to remember that without the fellowship the process of recovery would stop in its tracks. People working a program rely heavily on one another to both work the steps and process what is going on in each other's lives. Failure to do so often results in relapse. Which is why it is so important that people attending meetings give the program and those sitting in the room your undivided attention. Not always an easy task, because at the end of the day we are generally programmed to eschew the process and talking about the hard things going on in our lives. It is so much easier to distract ourselves than it is to face things head on.

All of you reading this post who attend meetings regularly are acutely aware that smartphone use is pervasive in the rooms of recovery. You may be guilty of checking your Facebook timeline or Instagram feed while in a meeting. If so, you know you are not alone. That being said, when one is focusing on something outside the group they become detached from the energy of recovery. You may say that you can listen and scroll at the same time, but in fact you may be missing something that you could potentially provide another member feedback on. Or the phone may be a shield, keeping you from speaking up about what is going on in your own life.


What’s An Hour Without Your Phone

Granted the only requirement for attending meetings is a desire to stop... Everyone is well within their right to stare at their portable devices, as long as it is not distracting others. One cannot argue that it is not a distraction from working one’s own program. In a way, playing games or scanning social media during a meeting unplugs you from the group. You are simultaneously present and not. One of the most important facets to recovery is one’s bond to the group, without it recovery comes apart.

If you are a habitual smartphone user during meetings, we encourage you to turn the phone off for the hour or hour and a half duration of the meeting. Even still, having the phone in your pocket may be too tempting. In that case, try leaving your phone in the car when you go to meetings. Rest assured, you are doing yourself a favor, as it will strengthen your relationship with others. Those people who are often the last line of defense between you and a relapse There’s plenty of time throughout the rest of the day to update your status.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Protecting Your Recovery from Opioids

prescription opioids
If you are working a program of addiction recovery, then you know that to take any mind-altering drug or drink will compromise your sobriety. Obviously, you know this applies to illegal drugs like heroin or cocaine and alcohol. But what about prescription narcotics? For some people, the answer to that question is easy, any drug, even if taken as prescribed, could be a slippery slope to a relapse. Others might answer that question depending on the circumstances.

Certainly, if you have been diagnosed with a life-threatening illness, such a cancer, protecting one’s program should not come at the expense of suffering. Severe or traumatic pain usually dictates taking an opioid to mitigate the symptoms. If the drugs are taken as prescribed, one’s program is usually considered to remain intact. However, it is worth noting that a significant number of people in recovery have experienced a minor injury, gone to the doctor and left with drugs they probably could have done without. It is no secret that doctors are often too quick and injudicious when it comes to prescribing this most deadly class of drugs.


Protecting Your Recovery

Should taking the opioid route of pain management be a decision that you and your doctor decide is warranted, certain steps should be taken to protect your recovery. In such cases, one should enlist the help of another to hold you accountable. Left to one’s own devices, it can be easy to convince oneself that taking an extra pill before you are supposed to or taking such drugs in non-prescribed ways is the same as taking a drug orally. It is not, that is your disease taking the reins.

It is usually a sound practice to turn to your sponsor or somebody in the program you are close to, that has significant recovery time. They can help dole out your medication as prescribed and as needed. In other cases, you spouse or relatives may be able to assist you with the situation. The take away here is that even if opioids are not your drug of choice, being in a position where there is a potential for abuse is never a good idea.

It's probably impossible to quantify how many people in recovery have relapsed because their addiction convinced them that they could be responsible with prescription narcotics in their house. Even if one manages to take the drugs as prescribed there is a chance that just the taste of euphoria is enough to tip the scales and start you on the course to relapse.

Minor Pain Leading to Addiction 

Everyone in recovery understands how dangerous opioids can be. How many of you have lost people to an overdose? Unfortunately, many Americans still do not fully grasp the risks of taking prescription painkillers for minor pain. A new report indicates that about seven (7) percent of emergency rooms' patients seeking help for a sprained ankle were prescribed opioids, Science News reports. Despite a high likelihood that such drugs were unnecessary.

What’s more, a sprained ankle patient who received 30 or more pills compared to less than 15 pills, were twice as likely to fill an additional opioid prescription within three to six months. A fairly good sign that a problem has developed. Sprained ankle injuries do not last for six months.

“An even more critical aspect of this study is that many would argue that opioids should not be prescribed for ankle sprain at all,” said senior author Jeanmarie Perrone, MD, a professor of Emergency Medicine and director of Medical Toxicology. “Exposing young patients with an ankle sprain to opioids is unnecessary and risky. To limit the escalation of the opioid epidemic in this country, it’s critical to keep these medications limited to patients whose injuries absolutely require them, and limit exposure to opioids for all other patients.”

Opioids Are Often Not Worth The Risk

If opioids can hook people that have no history of addiction, the risks of relapse among recovering addicts is sure to be great. If you seek help for a minor injury and the doctor offers up opioids, please think long and heard about your answer. Please make sure your doctor knows your history before moving forward.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Connecting With Nature In Recovery

higher power
Memorial Day is just around the corner. On May 29, 2017, people all over the country will come together to embrace the start of summer and rejoice. The summer months are great opportunity to reconnect oneself with nature, giving you an opportunity to work on reflection, meditation and prayer. Three things that for people working programs of recovery can do to improve their connection with a higher power.

At Hope by The Sea, in sunny Southern California, we know first-hand the awe-inspiring beauty of both the ocean and the mountains to the east. On any given day, this summer you can go out into nature to work on yourself, both physically and spiritually, either by yourself or with others in your support network. One of the most important goals in recovery is balance. Achieving homeostasis!

Active addiction is marked by chaotic solitude, because drugs and alcohol cut you off from the spiritual nature of existence. That is, something greater than yourself. Addiction is self-will run riot, one is convinced that they are in command of all things under the sun. When in fact, there are far stronger forces governing the dynamics of life. In recovery, one's relationship with a higher power is the glue that holds everything together.


The Light of Recovery

With the dark clouds of winter at our back, we strongly encourage you to get out into nature and work on the spiritual connection of life. Some of the best places to accomplish this are on hikes or sitting quietly on the beach, away from the constant drone of everyday life. Free from crowds and car horns, ringing phones and the like.

In some ways, it is hard to hear yourself think indoors or on city streets. But in the great outdoors all those hindrances fade away. You can dig deep into your soul to remind yourself of everything for which you are grateful. See the progress you have made; and humble yourself to the spirit of life governing all things beautiful and meaningful.

Invite some of your peers along for the journey. One can draw much insight from friends in your support network. Experiences together are almost always richer than those undergone alone.


Finding Hope

The summer may also be a good time for people that are still using to turn the page and start a new chapter. One free from the bondage of self. Please contact Hope by The Sea to learn how to achieve the miracles of recovery. What better time than now.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Memo: Mandatory Minimum Sentencing Return

mandatory minimum sentencing
Treatment is the answer. Jail and prisons only make the problem of drug use and abuse in this country worse. Health experts and a significant number of lawmakers all agree that draconian drug sentencing laws have long served to disenfranchise certain demographics, particularly the impoverished and racial minorities. Trapping people in a system that is next to impossible to extricate oneself from actually serves to encourage recidivism.

People who serve time for one drug offense, who do not receive any form of substance use disorder treatment are far more likely to return to jail after release. Steel bars do not deter addiction, a mental illness that cares little about punishment. Over the last decade, we have seen a major shift in thinking regarding the efficacy of mandatory minimum sentencing laws.


Nonviolent Offenders Sentencing Reprieve

In 2013, then Attorney General Eric Holder ordered federal prosecutors to avoid specifying the amount of drugs involved in a particular case when charging low-level and nonviolent drug offenders, Politico reports. Judges were allowed to exercise discretion with the length of sentences handed down, rather than relying on arbitrary sentencing rules.

The change in thinking that led to such a directive came in the wake of the worst addiction epidemic in American history. When it became ever so clear that addiction does not discriminate, evident by the broad spectrum of people affected by opioid use disorder—both individuals and families alike.

Complementing the apparent paradigm shift regarding mandatory minimums, the former White House administration reviewed thousands of cases where lengthy sentences were given to nonviolent drug offenders. Hundreds of offenders were given a second chance, some of whom had been serving life sentences for the crime of poverty and addiction. More times than not, such people were not in a position to afford a good defense.

Between various mandates from the federal government and the enactment of laws designed to treat addiction rather than punish it, things seemed to be looking up. However, there is evidence that the federal government may be sliding back to old thinking. And with it, a call to honor mandatory minimum sentencing laws.


Attorney General Memo

Last Thursday, a memo was sent out from the office of the Attorney General Jeff Sessions, ordering federal prosecutors to return to mandatory minimum sentencing practices for all future cases, according to the article. Sessions said that altering mandatory sentencing practices should not fall to the Executive Branch, but rather to Congress.

The memo comes at a time when comparison is needed more than ever. People are dying, children growing up without parents and families are being destroyed. Not surprisingly, people have begun to speak up about the AG's memo, people who understand that such practices do more harm than good.

"The Justice Department’s expected shift to prosecuting and incarcerating more offenders, including low-level and drug offenders, is an ineffective way to protect public safety," said Brett Tolman, a U.S. Attorney for Utah under President George W. Bush. "Decades of experience shows we cannot arrest and incarcerate our way out of America’s drug problem. Instead, we must direct resources to treatment and to specifically combating violent crime. This will help law enforcement do our jobs better.”


Treatment Now, More Than Ever

If you are still in the grips of active drug addiction, a new possession charge could mean doing serious time behind bars, once again. Treatment works, and Hope by The Sea can help you or a loved one break the cycle of addiction and, in turn, mitigate the risk of spending years in jail for the perceived “crime” of addiction. Please contact us today.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Hepatitis C Cases Increase Dramatically

hepatitis C
People who use drugs intravenously put themselves at great risk. The IV method of drug use is the surest way to experience an overdose. That is not to say that you cannot overdose from opioids via oral use, just that IV users are at a greater risk. To be sure, loss of life from overdoses in the United States has highlighted the importance of tackling the American opioid addiction epidemic. It is so easy for people miss-dose or to not have all the facts regarding what it is they are putting in their body, such as heroin mixed with fentanyl, a drug nearly hundred times stronger than morphine. In other cases, fentanyl is being disguised to look like OxyContin pills, a favorite brand opioid among abusers.

Even without an overdose, intravenous drug use can be a slippery slope towards premature death. Those who engage in the most dangerous form of drug use are also at great risk of developing other life threatening health problems. As is evident by the reports in recent years of both HIV and hepatitis C outbreaks across the country, sometimes in some of the most unlikely of places—such as the state of Indiana, et al.

Such outbreaks could have been easily avoided in the richest, most powerful country in the Western World. Every intravenous drug user is aware of the risks of sharing hypodermic syringes, yet acquiring clean needles is still a real challenge in place hardest hit by the opioid epidemic. Faced with the option of withdrawal or potential contraction of a virus, the mind of an addict in the grips of it will often throw caution to the wind and reuse a syringe


Hepatitis C On The Rise

A new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found almost a tripling of new hep C cases between the years 2010 and 2015, CNN reports. In 2010, there were 850 new cases of the deadly illness reported. The number of new cases is 2015 reached 2,436, and those most likely to contract the liver damaging disease were 20- to 29-year-olds. In 2014, more people died from hepatitis C than at any time.

"These new infections are most frequently among young people who transition from taking prescription pills to injecting heroin, which has become cheaper and more easily available in some cases," said Dr. John Ward, an author of the new report and director of the division of viral hepatitis at the CDC. "In turn many -- most, in some communities -- people who inject drugs become infected with hepatitis C."

The agency points out that the true number of new cases is actually much higher, according to the article. Due to the fact that the early stages of the illness do not always reveal symptoms, prompting people to continue doing what they are doing—potentially spreading the disease. The CDC estimates that new cases in 2015 were likely closer to 34,000.


Getting Screened

It is crucial that states realize that needle exchanges do not promote drug use, they save lives. If you are still using drugs of any kind intravenously, or have recently begun working a program of recovery, it is vital that you are screened for both hepatitis C and HIV. The earlier the conditions are detected, the sooner you can begin treatment to mitigate the damage caused by such illnesses. If you are still using, we strongly encourage you to seek help at treatment center.

Withdrawing from opioid addiction is extremely difficult and the best chance of seeing it through to the light of recovery is greatly increased with the help of medical detox. Please contact Hope by The Sea today to break the cycle of addiction.
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