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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.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Fentanyl Takes the Prize for Deadliest Drug

In the past, we have written much about the deadly admixture of heroin and fentanyl, a powerful analgesic 100 times more potent that morphine. Fentanyl, by itself, can be twice as strong as heroin on its own. Simply put, one not even needs to mix the two drugs together for fatal outcomes to occur. The opioid pain medication is just one facet of the ever-concerning American opioid addiction epidemic, synthetics.

opioid use disorderHistorically, the major focus among lawmakers and health experts has been to curtail the over-prescribing of opioid painkillers and ensuring that overdoses on heroin and the like do not result in fatalities. But, in recent years, synthetic opioids, like fentanyl and the even more power carfentanil, has become a top priority, as they are both known to be responsible for thousands of premature deaths across the country.

As prescription opioids became harder to acquire more and more opioid users were forced to look elsewhere to maintain their addiction. Leading them ineluctably towards heroin, a cheaper often stronger opioid than the heavily desired OxyContin (oxycodone). However, users had little way of knowing that every time they bought heroin there was an ever-increasing chance of being exposed to fentanyl. The drug is often mixed with heroin in an attempt to increase potency.

Fentanyl Takes The Deadliest Prize

If you are a regular reader of our posts, then you know that we have covered the topic of the opioid addiction epidemic at length. The result of opioid use disorder being the main addiction focus of our times, it is hard to avoid focusing on the topic, ad nauseam. The epidemic branched out from prescription opioids to heroin; and from heroin to synthetics like fentanyl, carfentanil and U-47700. However, fentanyl being mixed with heroin has led to a heightened death toll and the prevalence of synthetics has become much greater.

In 2016, fentanyl took the prize for overdose deaths in the United States. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that of the 64,000 (up from 52,404 in 2015) drug overdoses in the U.S. last year, 20,100 were linked to synthetic opioids like fentanyl. Yet, an analysis from The New York Times showed that 15,400 overdose deaths involved heroin during the same year, meaning that fentanyl is far more deadly than heroin.. As you can probably imagine, this is great cause for concern, as the prevalence of synthetic opioids does not seem to be waning. The analysis showed that fentanyl related overdose deaths has risen 540 percent in just three years. To make matters even worse, more people are expected to die of an overdose this year, than last.

Opioid Use Disorder Treatment

We cannot stress the importance of seeking treatment for opioid use disorder enough. Addiction to any substance can lead to a life of misery and premature death, but opioid use can steal one's life before it has even really begun. If you are abusing opioid narcotics, of any kind, please reach out for help immediately. The risks are far too great to continue the path you’re on. At Hope by The Sea, we can help you detox from opioids and show you how living a life in recovery is more than possible, it’s necessary.

Friday, September 1, 2017

National Alcohol and Drug Addiction Recovery Month 2017

The hardest thing anyone touched by addiction will ever do is break the cycle and recover. Which is why it is so vital that one’s recovery is never discounted or taken for granted. While nobody is ever cured of this most serious mental illness, with the aid of a recovery program and a spiritual connection, people can, and do, recover.

Addiction is a major concern, perhaps one of the greatest challenges of our times. Millions of Americans struggle with one substance or another every day of the week. Some 142 individuals die from a drug overdose every day, and even more overdoses are reversed thanks to naloxone. However, more times than not, overdose victims are unable to access the resources they require and go right back out into the fray.

There are several reasons people struggle to find recovery. In many cases individuals are just not ready to take certain Steps. While others live in areas where addiction recovery services are lacking. Although, perhaps the greatest deterrent to addicts and alcoholics getting treatment is the stigma of addiction and the belief that recovery is not possible.


Addiction Stigma and Dreaming the Impossible

When it comes to the former, the effort to end the stigma of addiction continues among mental health and addiction experts. Nobody can deny that we have come a long way with shattering the myths of addiction, the beliefs that perpetuate falsehoods about the disease. The idea that using drugs and alcohol is a choice; therefore, one can choose to stop the behavior. A line of thinking that does not consider dependence and the symptoms of withdrawal that one experiences when trying to abstain (unaided).

What’s more, choosing to stop using harmful mind-altering substances is the easy part—relatively. The hard part is not picking them up again, which underscores the importance of addiction treatment services. Those who make the choice to turn their life around have an exponentially greater chance of succeeding, if they go to detox and treatment. Then followed by a continued program of spiritual maintenance. And, more people would be willing to seek help if they were not ostracized by society—as counter intuitive as that seems. Rather than identify oneself as an addict or alcoholic, many afflicted individuals choose to stay in the dark, eschewing treatment.

On the other side of the anti-recovery coin is the mindset that recovery is a pipe dream. And if it is possible, some people think that they will have to adopt religious ideologies in order to achieve it. An excuse to be sure, but worth touching upon as well. It is true, there is a spiritual aspect to long-term recovery, but not in the way most people still “out there” think. Programs of recovery have no mandates about who or what you believe in. There is no requirement about going to church or accepting lines of belief that go against how you view the world. All the program asks is that you make a conscious effort to open your heart and mind to something greater than yourself. After all, what does one in the grips of addiction have to lose?

Those who make the courageous step to seek recovery despite the bias or aversion to bearded men in the sky, find out early on that the program is a far cry from organized religion. What it is, however, is a group of people whose lives had become unmanageable, because they were unable to live life on life’s terms. To cope with the realization that most things are out of one’s control, turning to drugs and alcohol was a logical step. No, members of the fellowship have not drunk the proverbial Kool-Aid, rather they have decided to give something different a chance—with the hope of Living. After all, their way wasn’t working.

By choosing to believe there is something greater than yourself, it becomes much easier to cope with the hard stuff in life. The very occurrences that often lead to relapse. Being accountable to a “higher power” takes the burden of thinking you need to control all things Life off one’s shoulders. Trust and believe, it is a great relief to bask in the sunlight of spirit.


National Alcohol and Drug Addiction Recovery Month

Every September, both people in recovery and those working in the field (many of whom are in recovery themselves) observe National Alcohol and Drug Addiction Recovery Month. Usually shortened to just Recovery Month. The theme this year is: Join the Voices for Recovery: Strengthen Families and Communities. Which aims to emphasize the “value of family and community support throughout recovery and invites individuals in recovery and their family members to share their personal stories and successes in order to encourage others.”

Throughout the month events are held all over the country to disseminate the facts about both addiction and recovery, i.e. addiction is a mental health disorder and recovery is possible. Sponsored by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMHSA):

Now in its 27th year, Recovery Month highlights the achievements of individuals who have reclaimed their lives in long-term recovery and honors the treatment and recovery service providers who make recovery possible. Recovery Month also promotes the message that recovery in all of its forms is possible and encourages citizens to take action to help expand and improve the availability of effective prevention, treatment, and recovery services for those in need.

At Hope by The Sea we are committed to helping shatter the pernicious stigma of addiction and all mental health disorders. We know that those who seek help for addiction, who are willing to take certain steps, can and do recover. We see it every day. The more We talk about addiction and the miracles of recovery, the more likely those still suffering will be able to seek assistance. If you or a loved one is battling an alcohol or substance use disorder, please contact us today. Addiction recovery is not only possible, it’s necessary.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Addiction Recovery Must Weather The Storm

Keeping one’s stress in check is a vital component of anyone's addiction recovery program. Those who find themselves overworked or dealing with personal trials and tribulations are at great risk of relapse. Unhealthy responses to stress feed the ever-hungry spider of addiction. In treatment, clients learn healthy ways to manage the many stressful occurrences that can arise in one's life. Becoming proficient in, and committing such tools to memory can be all that stands between one's recovery and relapse.

addiction recoveryStress, naturally, is a part of life. While there are ways to circumvent most stressful circumstances, some things are out of our control. But, and fortunately, recovery teaches us to live life on life’s terms. To never take things (ourselves included) too seriously. Our “higher power” will find a way to help us navigate that which befalls. And, as long as we keep recovery as our number one priority, we shall and can overcome anything. If we remain calm and keep a clear mind (drug and alcohol-free) we can break through to other side of a problem.

Talking about stress and how it can disrupt one’s recovery is an especially important topic of late. All of you surely are aware of the serious state of affairs in southeastern Texas. The devastation caused by Hurricane Harvey is catastrophic, with millions of Americans affected in one way or another. Extensive flooding in Houston and other cities along Harvey’s path is expected to result in as many as 30,000 people in need of temporary shelter, The New York Times reports. State lawmakers and Federal agencies seem to be working together to ensure the safety of one the nation’s most populated regions.


Keeping Addiction Recovery Above Water

Of course, the main focus is getting people to safe locations and providing food and water. Even though the death toll up till now has been relatively low, there are millions of Americans who have experienced trauma. It goes without saying that a significant number of said people are working programs of addiction recovery. Some of which suddenly find themselves without home, and displaced from their support network. With cities completely under water, you can probably imagine that getting to a meeting for support is, in several cases, out of the question. What’s more, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) stated that in Texas/Louisiana the storm and flood has disabled:
  • Service at 16 centers that process 911-emergency calls.
  • Cable, internet or telephone to over 180,000 homes.
  • 364 cellular towers
With 12 Step meeting places underwater and phone services disabled, contacting recovery support isn’t possible for an untold number of people. It is fair to say that it can’t get much more stressful than this for anyone working a program. At times like this, keeping in constant contact with one’s higher power is of the utmost importance. And, hopefully you had time to grab your “Big Book” before evacuating the area.

Natural disasters may be the best example of how little control we have over the course of life. Which may be an eye-opening teachable moment for your own recovery. And just how important it is to give life's trials to your higher power. Even if your find yourself displaced from your recovery support network, you can always have a dialogue with that which is Greater than you. You may also be among large groups of people faced with the same problems, some of which might be in the program as well. The old distress signal, “Any friends of Bill W, please report to…,” may prove useful.


You’re Not Alone

There may be other displacees who have less recovery time under their belt who are in need of your guidance. It is also important to remember that wherever there is tragedy, vice is there to ease people’s troubled minds. Your support could prevent the relapse of another who is struggling to cope with the stress. AA Responsibility Statement:

"I am Responsible. When anyone, anywhere, reaches out for help, I want the hand of A.A. always to be there. And for that: I am responsible."

Understandably, the suggestions above may not reach the eyes of those in greatest need, considering the FCC report. But, there is a large number of people who have been affected that did get flooded or lose connectivity. Lives also disrupted by the devastating hurricane. Those of you in the impacted areas who were relatively unscathed could reach out to provide addiction recovery assistance to those who were. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMHSA) also has a number of tools for people affected by the trauma of natural disasters. Now, more the ever, is when the true light of the fellowship should shine the brightest. Guiding the many individual ships of recovery from the rocky shoals of relapse.

At Hope by the Sea, our thoughts and prayers are for the safety of everyone affected by Hurricane Harvey. We are hopeful that those working a program can continue to practice the principles of recovery, in spite of their circumstances. Keeping their stress at bay, knowing that the waters will (in time) recede, so you can be there for others when called upon.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Are You Depressed? Google Wants to Know

Are you depressed? It is a question which, depending on the answer, can have serious implications. And it could be a jumping off point for seeking help. It shouldn’t come as a surprise to many of our readers familiar with mental illness, conditions such as addiction and depression are severely under-treated. We have written about the realities of mental health treatment on numerous occasions over the years. Particularly regarding what can happen when mental illness is left untreated.

Mental health disorders, particularly depression, is nothing short of a pandemic. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that around 300 million people are affected by depression worldwide. WHO believes that the condition is the number one cause of poor health on the planet. Which makes sense, if you think about it a little. People who are depressed tend to be more lethargic, having trouble finding the motivation to even get out of bed. Depressive episodes can result in people eating poorly, inactivity and coping by way of alcohol or illicit drug use. It is not a mere coincidence that a great many people seeking treatment for addiction also meet the criteria for depression. A co-occurring disorder, clinically speaking.

In such cases, it is absolutely vital that both mental illnesses are treated at the same time. Neglecting one side of the co-occurring disorder coin can spell disaster, hindering recovery from either mental illness. Effective substance use disorder treatment centers ensure that addicts and alcoholics undergo rigorous diagnostic screening to obtain a full picture of a client. Thus, allowing for a comprehensive treatment plan that will ensure the best possible outcomes for a client's future. The question, “Are you depressed?” Is one that everyone seeking help at an addiction treatment center should answer honestly, doing so can make all the difference for achieving long-term sobriety.


Depression Screening Online

You might be familiar with a growing trend among tech-giants, such as Facebook, dedicating significant resources to helping users struggling with mental illness. The “social network” has even developed an algorithm for spotting users who may be at risk of self-harm. In such cases, the at-risk user will be directed toward resources that could help prevent a catastrophe. Thousands of depressives have suicidal ideations or attempt to take their own life every year. Identifying signs early and providing resources that can help could make all the difference and save lives in the process.

Of the 1 in 5 Americans affected by depression, about 50 percent never receive any form of treatment. Google has joined the cause to change those figures for the better. The search engine giant has partnered with the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), to ask anyone searching for terms related to depression: “Are you depressed?”

On Google’s blog, The Keyword, Mary Giliberti J.D., Chief Executive Officer at NAMI, writes:

“You may have noticed that in Google search results, when you search for depression or clinical depression in the U.S., you see a Knowledge Panel for the condition which provides general information about it, the symptoms, and possible treatment options. Today PHQ-9, a clinically validated screening questionnaire which can help identify levels of depressive symptoms is also available directly from the search result. By tapping “Check if you’re clinically depressed,” you can take this private self-assessment to help determine your level of depression and the need for an in-person evaluation. The results of the PHQ-9 can help you have a more informed conversation with your doctor.” 

Filling out the PHQ-9 could be starting point for the millions of Americans living with untreated mental illness. The results of which could lead you to a path for treatment. Reaching out for help is never easy, but it will save your life.


Co-Occurring Disorder Treatment

If you or a loved one is struggling with substance use disorder, and believe that depression may be a contributing factor, please contact Hope by The Sea. Our highly-trained staff is equipped to help you break the cycle of addiction, begin the process of recovery and address co-occurring mental health disorders like depression. We work closely with psychiatrists and psychologists who can begin the process of treating your depression. In turn, giving one the ability at achieving long-term recovery.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

DPA: International Drug Policy Reform Conference

Addiction recovery is about many things. Yes, it’s about helping the millions of people battling addiction break free and live a healthy life. But, it is also about so much more, including compassion, health and the right for everyone living with mental illness to escape discrimination. As for the latter, anyone who has been touched by the disease of addiction knows first-hand how rampant discrimination is when it comes to debilitating mental health disorders.

It isn’t a secret that our government’s answer to drugs and addiction has long been about punishment over rehabilitation. America has the largest prison population in the world, a population largely comprised of African Americans, Latinos and poor Caucasians. The clear majority of people behind bars today were not incarcerated because they were murderers or sexual offenders, some of the worst crimes imaginable. Rather, the market share of people behind bars are there because of nonviolent drug and alcohol offenses. A reality that a number of lawmakers and mental health advocates have been trying to change for many years.

For nearly a decade, we have all heard stories of changes that would lead to people who were unjustly imprisoned finally seeing the light of day. The last administration pardoned or commuted the sentences of hundreds of Americans whose only crime was mental illness or being impoverished. We have seen state legislators working to put an end to mandatory minimum sentences, giving judges more flexibility in deciding the fate of a defendant. What’s more, partially owing to the opioid addiction epidemic, “drug offenders” are regularly offered treatment before being sent to jail.


Drug Policy Alliance

While we have many lawmakers to thank for the paradigm shift in the criminal justice system, we also have advocacy groups to thank. Those who have worked tirelessly for the rights of everyone, regardless of where they came from or the color of their skin.

One such organization, is the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA). Whose expressed goal has been to put an end to the failed war on drugs, advocating for policies based not on fear, but science, compassion, health and human rights. Because of their efforts, hundreds of thousands of Americans have found addiction treatment rather than jail cells. Their efforts based on ethical and common sense approaches have resulted in California saving billions of dollars that would have otherwise gone to imprison people who would be better served elsewhere. Doing away with draconian drug laws and promoting a humanitarian approach to drug policy. On the organization's website, they write:

“Our supporters are individuals who believe the war on drugs is doing more harm than good. Together we advance policies that reduce the harms of both drug use and drug prohibition, and seek solutions that promote safety while upholding the sovereignty of individuals over their own minds and bodies.”


International Drug Policy Reform Conference

Every couple of years, the Drug Policy Alliance brings people from around the world together to discuss better ways to approach mental illness and addiction. At the International Drug Policy Reform Conference, participants discuss alternatives to the failed war on drugs. This year, between Oct 11, 2017 - Oct 14, 2017, more than 1,500 mental health experts, advocates and world leaders are expected to gather in Atlanta to discuss further efforts to end the war on drugs in America. You can find out more information about attending the event here.

We can all have a role in ending the war on drugs and the stigma that has kept millions of Americans from getting help for over a century. Addiction is not a moral failing, just as it is not something that we can arrest away. Research has long supported the belief that if people are encouraged to talk about their mental illness, recovery can be achieved. Resulting in not just healthier individuals, but a healthier society.


An Aside on the War on Drugs

It is probably fair to say that you were one of the majority of Americans who watched in horror as the events unfolded in Charlottesville, Virginia recently. The DPA pointed out last week that the War on Drugs was largely the result of racism in America, and like most advocacy groups and National leaders, the Drug Policy Alliance condemned the overt racism seen at the University of Virginia. A hate rally that resulted in the death of three Americans. The DPA’s director of digital communications for the Drug Policy Alliance, Megan Farrington, writes:

“We saw this when the drug war replaced Jim Crow last century, and must fight to keep it from happening again. The only way to ensure that our drug policy reforms truly end the harms of drug prohibition is to support the fight against white supremacy wherever it is taking place.”


Recovery Is Possible With Love and Compassion

There is no room in the fellowship of recovery for hate and discrimination. Mental illness does not care where you came from, how much money you have or the color of one’s skin. Conversely, neither does recovery, nor does its members. Addiction recovery is about equality, and the right to live a life free from drugs and alcohol without fear of being discriminated against. At Hope by The Sea, we unequivocally condemn those who would disenfranchise others for something that they have no control over. Over the years, we have helped people find the miracles of recovery regardless of their heritage or which deity they pray to for guidance. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families of the Charlottesville victims.

Everybody must have the right and ability to be free from bondage, both visible and invisible. If you or a loved one is caught in the pernicious cycle of addiction, please contact Hope by The Sea today.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Prescription Opioid Doctor Kickbacks

People who seek help from physicians think that their [patients'] best interests are always in mind. If you are sick, a doctor will often prescribe an antibiotic of some kind. You have a broken arm, no worries; a cast will set you straight. If you are in pain...how about some painkillers? Naturally, certain injuries may require the use of prescription opioids. Right now, opioid painkillers are the most effective means of addressing pain. But, as you well know, there are a number of inherent risks accompanying that course of action.

There isn’t a patient or doctor in the United States who is wholly unaware of the dangers that opioid
painkillers pose. The risk of addiction is quite high (patient depending) and taking a little bit too much can easily result in an overdose. It is no secret; drugs like OxyContin have the power to kill. It is for that reason that both lawmakers and health experts have called on doctors to step back on prescribing opioids. Being called on to only turn towards the use of opioids if it is absolutely necessary. Which is no easy task and to be fair—pain is subjective. A doctor has to trust that their patients are being honest with them about the severity of the pain.


Despite being called on to scale back on the use of opioids, many doctors still prescribe reckless amounts of the highly addictive drugs. Why? Well, the use of opioids is certainly warranted, at times. However, it seems there are times that certain opioids are prescribed for reasons that could only be described as nefarious. Monetary gains.


A Vested Interest in Prescription Opioids

Here is something that some of you have likely thought of, but might not have had the evidence to support your belief. Doctors who prescribe opioids get kickbacks from pharmaceutical companies for doing so. Upon hearing this, you might think that it was something that happened at the onset of the epidemic; but, that couldn’t still be happening after 17 years of ever increasing overdose deaths. ‘Right?’ Sadly, new research indicates that the pharmaceutical industry is giving millions in opioid-related payments to doctors.
prescription opioids

Under the Affordable Care Act, the Physician Payment Sunshine Act requires drug companies to report all payments to physicians, ScienceDaily reports. This allowed researchers at Boston Medical Center's Grayken Center for Addiction Medicine to determine that between August 2013 and December 2015, 375,255 opioid-related payments were made to 68,177 doctors. Upwards of $46 million paid out, none of which was for a physician conducting research. The findings of the research were published in the American Journal of Public Health.

"Even though most payments were small, they add up to a shocking number and may have a wide-reaching influence on physician behaviors. We need to take a hard look at how the pharmaceutical industry may be influencing care and prescribing at the ground level," said study leader Scott Hadland, MD, MPH, a pediatrician and adolescent addiction specialist.


Doing the Right Thing

In the United States we have a vested interest in preserving the lives of our friends and family. Every day, some 142 mothers, fathers, daughters or sons perish from opioid-related overdoses. Doctors are being told to limit the prescribing of opioids on one side, and are being incentivized to do the opposite on the other side. Clearly a dilemma. While doctors are trained to save lives, they are still human. While it would be nice to expect a superior ethical and moral code from physicians when compared to your average American, doctors are again human and greed is a powerful force to reckon with.

It seems unconscionable that after nearly two decades and thousands of deaths and exponential more opioid use disorders, doctors are still being incentivized to prescribe this deadly family of narcotics.

"The opioid epidemic, which is responsible for thousands of deaths every year, is a national tragedy that we must work at every level to combat. It's our hope that this study sparks a bigger conversation about the role of pharmaceutical companies in the over-prescribing of opioid medications, and prompts a more thorough investigation about what we need to do to tackle this problem," said study senior author, Brandon Marshall, PhD, associate professor of epidemiology at the Brown University School of Public Health.


Prescription Opioid Addiction

If you or a loved one is caught in the pernicious grip of prescription opioid addiction, please contact Hope by The Sea. We can help break the cycle of addiction, starting with detox and intensive inpatient treatment. Our clients adopt the skills and tools necessary for living a life in recovery.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Mental Health Resources In College

As we move through the month of August, many young Americans are preparing to head off to college. It is vital that steps are taken to ensure that new and returning students have access to support in times of need. Specifically, regarding mental health. It is quite common for problems with depression, anxiety and bipolar disorder to arise during this stage in a person’s life. Without support via therapy and counseling, such students are at great risk of self-harm and the use of drugs and alcohol to cope with their symptoms. It is not uncommon for alcohol and substance use disorders to develop while pursuing higher education.

In modern times, there are several resources available to help students struggling with mental illness. Many campuses devote significant resources to outreach campaigns and the hiring of competent mental health therapists. Yet, despite the availability of such services, they are often underutilized by students. The Center for Collegiate Mental Health has found that 26 percent of students who utilized campus mental health services reported intentionally hurting, NBC News reports. Up from 2015, 33.2 percent had contemplated suicide.


Mental Illness On The Rise

Collegiate environments place huge demands on students. Having to juggle both work and class loads can be extremely trying for some people. Universities are seeing record numbers of students battling mental health issues, which is why it is critical that students be made to feel safe about talking with counselors. If people don’t share what they are going through, it is impossible to begin the treatment process. Untreated mental illness has long been a contributing factor in college dropout rates.

“What has increased over the past five years is threat-to-self characteristics, including serious suicidal thoughts and self-injurious behaviors,” said Ashley Stauffer, project manager for the Center for Collegiate Mental Health at Penn State University.

More than three-quarters of all mental health conditions arise before the age of 24, according the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). Please take a moment to watch a short video from NAMI to help students:

If you having trouble viewing the video, please click here.


You Are Not Alone

NAMI provides guides for parents whose children may be struggling with mental illness. Which could be of great benefit. The success of your child’s recovery depends upon your full support. Having open, regular discussions about your child’s mental state can go a long way in getting them the help they may require. And, potentially mitigate the risk of self-medication with drugs and alcohol and tragedy. Below you can find a few tips
  • Know the warning signs of mental stress and when and how to seek help. Check out the college’s resources.
  • Let your child know that mental health conditions are common — one in five college students — so they don’t feel alone.
  • Because of privacy laws, come up with a plan in advance for which information about mental health can be shared with the parent.


Treatment Works

Students who are unable to access mental health resources commonly turn to drugs and alcohol to cope. This behavior often leads to a co-occurring addiction disorder. It is quite common for young people with depression, et al. to develop substance use disorders during the college years. If you are living with an untreated co-occurring disorder, or your adult child is, please contact Hope by The Sea. We can help you begin the journey of recovery, while keeping in mind that continuing education is of the utmost importance. Through working a program of recovery, one will be in a far better position to succeed in college.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Addiction Recovery Demands Healthy Living

If you are working a program of addiction recovery, you know that success rests on more than just abstaining. Sure, drugs and alcohol were big part of your problems, staying away from them is vital. But, working a program calls for much more than that. Those who succeed at achieving long-term recovery, make significant changes in their outlooks and behaviors. If addiction be a life of pessimism, recovery then must be built upon optimism. Ever reminding oneself that any obstacle that arises will pass at some point. It is how you choose to handle adversity that will be the difference between continued recovery and relapse.

Those of you who have been in the “rooms” of recovery for even a short time have heard pithy sayings and acronyms. Platitudes that, while trite at times, are both true and can be helpful. "It works if you work it." "Keep it simple, stupid." "Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired (HALT)." Are a few examples. Each one valuable in their own ways.

Alcoholics and addicts are excellent at getting caught up in their own heads. Overthinking things, in some cases, right into a bottle. We tend to isolate from our peers, especially when we need support the most. People in recovery often struggle to focus on living a healthy lifestyle. And those who fail to treat their body as a temple in recovery often encounter problems.


A Healthy Addiction Recovery

The acronym H.A.L.T. is an extremely valuable tool. A reminder that one needs to be mindful of what they ingest, i.e. is the food I’m eating healthy? Am I consuming three meals a day? Am I being sure to not let my emotions control my actions? Do I spend enough time with my recovery peers outside of meetings? Or do I just rush home after the Serenity Prayer is said aloud? Do I make a conscience effort to get about 8-hours of sleep each night?

Some of those considerations may seem like common sense to somebody without a use disorder. Yet, for many people working a program they can be easily forgotten. When that happens, one's perspective can quickly shift from optimism to a glass half empty outlook. If such a course is not corrected, relapse can become a reality.

With health in mind, getting enough exercise can help one stay the course in recovery. When we feel good, we live good. Eating healthy and exercising regularly can significantly improve our outlook, helping us be of better service to others. A salient facet of addiction recovery is being there for our fellow alcoholic or addict. If we feel unhealthy, one focuses on their own wants and needs. Forgetting that this whole enterprise rests on fellowship.

Some of you reading this might not be able to exercise in the traditional sense of going to the gym. That’s OK. Just taking a 30-minute walk everyday can go a long way. If you need a low-impact activity, see if there is a public pool in your area. Taking the initiative with improving your health can greatly strengthen your program. Maybe you have a friend in the program who will join you in your endeavor for a healthier life, and recovery.


Addiction Treatment and Physical Health

At Hope by The Sea we emphasize the importance of healthy minds and bodies. Recovery depends on treating the whole patient. Addiction atrophies the mind and body, over the course of your stay we will work with you or your loved one to reverse the damage done. Upon discharge, a healthier client has a healthier recovery. Please contact us today to discuss treatment options.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Prescription Opioid Related Traffic Concerns

Most Americans, certainly adults, know that getting behind the wheel under the influence of alcohol is extremely dangerous. The substance can significantly impair one’s ability to drive, impacting cognitive function, response time and motor skills. Yet, and despite the risk of death and legal troubles, thousands of Americans get behind the wheel under the influence of alcohol every day.

prescription opioids

With more and more states legalizing recreational cannabis use for adults, there is great concern about drugged-driving. There isn’t a strong detection method in place (short of blood tests) for determining if a driver is under the influence of marijuana. Each year, people lose their life behind the wheel while under the influence of marijuana, which means spreading the message about drugged driving is of the utmost importance.

Until recently, the use of marijuana was illegal in California. Except for medical purposes. Which means that people who drove "high" knew what they were doing was, if nothing else, against the law. With legalization last fall, people in California have raised concerns about the potential of an increased prevalence of drugged drivers. While such concerns are not without merit, there may be another class of drugs that should be of greater concern—prescription opioids.


Driving On Opioids

The clear majority of Americans know, or have heard, about the dangers of opioid narcotics and the staggering death toll associated with opioid overdose. Current estimates indicate that around 142 Americans die of an opioid-related overdose, every day. However, you might not be aware that overdose is not the only path to premature death when it comes to opioids.

Any of you in recovery for prescription opioids and/or heroin are aware of the side effects that accompany use. Such as severe drowsiness, often referred to as “nodding off.” It is not uncommon for people using opioids to fall asleep standing up. Keeping that in mind, the same is even more true when sitting down. Getting behind the wheel on opioids is never a good idea.

Some people who are prescribed opioids may not be aware of just how easy it is to nod off using this dangerous class of drugs. They get behind the wheel thinking they are doing nothing wrong, after all the drugs were prescribed a doctor. A deadly miscalculation. As is evident by a new study showing that the rate of traffic fatalities involving prescription opioids has risen dramatically, HealthDay reports. The research, published in the American Journal of Public Health, showed that traffic fatalities involving opioid painkillers rose seven-fold between 1995 and 2015.

Much like marijuana, there is not an easy way for police officers to determine if a driver is under the influence of opioids. Given these new findings and the staggering prescribing rates of painkillers, the need for roadside testing methods is great. Prescribing opioids went from 76 million in 1991 to nearly 300 million in 2014, many of the people taking such drugs are not addicts. Opioids are coursing through the systems of millions of drivers, who must be made aware of the dangers.

"The opioid epidemic has been defined primarily by the counts of overdose fatalities," said study co-author Dr. Guohua Li, a professor of epidemiology at Columbia's Mailman School of Public Health. "Our study suggests that increases in opioid consumption may carry adverse health consequences far beyond overdose morbidity and mortality."

Opioid Addiction Treatment

The new study, together with previous research on the dangers of opioid use, is ample cause for concern. If you are taking opioids in ways other than prescribed, or believe that you have become dependent on this form of narcotics, please contact Hope by The Sea.

Our highly-trained staff is experienced in helping people with opioid use disorder break the cycle of addiction and get on the road to addiction recovery. You can reach us 24-hours a day, 365-days a year.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Coffee Covers Addiction Treatment Costs

Coffee and addiction recovery, well… they are tied at the hip, so to speak. Actually, it is hard to imagine a 12-step meeting without an urn of coffee. The caffeinated beverage serves three purposes: an incentive for newcomers to come in off the street, helping members stay alert and attentive, and making the coffee a commitment that people in early recovery can sign up for. Commitments being a good practice in accountability, and those who fulfill the obligation show that they are willing to go to any lengths to stay clean and sober.

While the drink is synonymous with meetings, its role in recovery doesn’t stop there. At the end of every 12-step meeting you can pretty much guarantee that some members will meet after the meeting at local coffee houses. It is quite common to see people at Starbucks with a copy of “The Big Book” sitting on the table. Sponsors speaking with sponsees, many a Fourth Step has been discussed over a cup of Joe.

The link between coffee and recovery has been taken to the next level in a Ventnor City, New Jersey. Not far from Atlantic City, a seaside metropolis known for vice, a cafe is using the profits from coffee and food sales to help pay for people in need of addiction treatment services.


Addiction Treatment Paid for In Beans

New Jersey is one of the many states in this country hit especially hard by the opioid addiction epidemic. Arguably, more people than ever need addiction treatment, although a significant number of Americans can’t afford such services. The Enlightened Cafe in Ventnor has offered a solution, using the profits from the organic cafe’s sales for addiction treatment scholarships, The Press of Atlantic City reports. In fact, the cafe is in the same building as a treatment and recovery center scheduled to open by the end of summer.

The facility will offer:
  • 12-step Meetings
  • Peer-to-Peer Recovery Support Services
  • Family Support Groups
  • Community Yoga
  • Meditation Classes
Jennifer Hansen, co-founder of the Hansen Foundation and CEO of Enlightened Solutions, has been in recovery for more than two decades, according to the article. In this time, Hansen, along with her family, has opened detox centers, treatment programs and recovery housing opportunities in New Jersey. She understands the importance of get well jobs after completing an addiction treatment program, which is why The Enlightened Cafe is staffed by people in recovery.

“When you see someone get out of treatment, they really need to be working immediately for their recovery,” said Hansen. “We’re trying to staff the cafe with people in our sober living homes. When they get here to work, they’ve really come full circle.”


Communities for Addiction Treatment

Millions of people across the country need addiction treatment services. With respect to opioid addiction, an estimated 142 Americans are dying from overdoses every day, according to a report from the Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis. If people can’t get help because of costs, community members in other cities would be wise to follow the model of compassion that Jennifer Hansen has laid out. The epidemic is a societal problem, which means we all have a vested interest in seeing those battling addictions get help.

If you or a loved one is struggling with drugs or alcohol, please contact Hope by The Sea. We can help you begin the journey of recovery.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Prescription Opioid Use, Misuse, and Use Disorders

In the field of addiction we remain hopeful that good news regarding the American addiction opioid epidemic is on the horizon. Over the last couple years lawmakers and health experts have been working hard to get a handle on over-prescribing and patient opioid misuse and to help the millions of people who are already in the grips of an opioid use disorder. We have written about the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA), for instance. This aims, among other things, to expand access to addiction treatment services across the country.

Lawmakers and addiction experts have pleaded with doctors to better utilize various resources, such prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMP). The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has worked hard to emphasis the importance of safely disposing of one’s unused prescription opioids. For example, by sponsoring National Take Back Days across the country. Yet, many Americans still have no qualms about giving their unused pills to friends or family members.

With over hundred people dying of an overdose in the United States every day, it is hard to imagine what justification people come up with for diverting their medications. Nevertheless, it happens on a daily basis. A new survey revealed that more than 50 percent of people, who misused prescription opioids in 2015, got the drugs via family or friends, CBS News reports. Nearly 20 years into an epidemic and people are still diverting medications despite the nationally publicized attention highlighting the dangers. What’s more, in 2015 (some 15 years into the epidemic), more than one out of three average Americans used a prescription opioid painkiller. The findings of the survey were published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.


Legitimately Prescribed Opioids

There have been signs that fewer doctors are over-prescribing than before, but use and misuse rates have remained fairly stable. Despite efforts to reduce both. The survey showed that almost 92 million adults (roughly 38 percent of the population) took an opioid by legitimate means in 2015, according to the article. A large portion of those people are, in fact, not taking their opioids as prescribed.

"The proportion of adults who receive these medications in any year seemed startling to me," said study co-author Dr. Wilson Compton, deputy director of the U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse. "It's an awful lot of people who take these, mostly for medical purposes, but within that a significant percentage end up misusing them." 

In 2015, 11.5 million people misused prescription opioids they received from people other than a doctor. With almost 1.9 million reporting full-fledged opioid addiction, at the time. If over half of the people who abuse prescription opioids obtained them from a friend or family member, it is a good indication that doctors should be limiting the number of pills and refills they are handing out. Almost 60 percent of all painkiller misuse was prescription free.

"That tells us there are a lot of leftover medications," said Compton. "In many cases, physicians could write smaller prescriptions, or avoid them completely for those who benefit from ibuprofen or acetaminophen."

Opioid Use Disorder Treatment

Addiction often begins with someone experiencing pain. Maybe said person doesn’t have insurance, or the money to go see a doctor. So they turn to a friends and family for help. While this occurrence doesn’t always lead to addiction, the risk is extremely high. If an opioid use disorder develops, and one’s access to prescription opioids is cut off, a significant number of people have been tempted to seek out heroin. A drug that can carry an even higher risk of overdose.

If you are addicted to opioids, you are strongly encouraged to contact us at Hope by The Sea. Without detox and treatment it is extremely difficult to recover from the disorder. The longer treatment is put off, the greater the chance of experiencing a potentially deadly overdose. Please do not hesitate.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Binge Drinking Outside of College

Young adults in college have long been associated with the dangerous act of “binge drinking.” Which is when men consume 5 or more drinks or women consume 4 or more drinks in about 2 hours, according to National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA). Those who binge drink are at great risk of both physical and mental health problems, such as alcohol use disorder.

binge drinking
When you are young it is easy to delude yourself into thinking that nothing can hurt you. The mindset is further reinforced by what one sees their peers doing. Young adults say to themselves, ‘Well, at least I don’t drink as much as that person.’ But, it does little good to compare one’s drinking patterns to others. We are each unique when it comes to who will develop an alcohol use disorder. If you are binge drinking, and think it is OK because all your friends do too, please be advised. There are plenty of cautionary tales to show you that binge drinking is far from OK. It is quite the opposite, in fact.


Binge Drinking Among Young Adults

When most people envision binge drinkers, thoughts of the movie Animal House may come to mind. But, it is something that occurs outside of frat houses, binge drinking has long been pervasive on college campuses. Every year, universities spend a lot of time and resources attempting to educate young people about the dangers of heavy alcohol use. Despite the fact that young adults usually do not heed such advice, it appears that some may have gotten the message.

A study published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs shows that college binge drinking is declining, Science Daily reports. This is welcome news especially after years of rising binge drinking rates among college students. However, it turns out that binge drinking among young adults not in college is on the rise.

"A number of factors may have contributed to the recent reduction in binge drinking and its related problems among college students," says study author Ralph Hingson, SC.D., M.P.H., of the Division of Epidemiology and Prevention Research at the NIAAA.

Hingson speculates that the decline is due to:
  • College administrators adopting interventions aimed at reducing harmful drinking.
  • Economic recession in 2008 meant less disposable income for students.
  • The passage of .08 BAC legal limit in every state by 2005.
Naturally, rising problematic drinking rates among young people not in school is of particular concern. There has also been more alcohol related overdose hospitalizations and deaths involving alcohol, among 18- to 24-year-olds, according to the article. Hingson says that rising alcohol overdose rates among 21- to 24-year-olds, could be the result of extreme binge drinking. So why the difference between college students and young adults not in school?

"Among young adults who aren't in college, there aren't the same organizational supports to implement interventions, and that may be contributing to why binge drinking is increasing in that group," says Hingson.


Alcohol Use Disorder Treatment

Not everyone who binge drinks is going to experience adverse health effects. But, compared to young adults who drink sparingly and in small amounts, the risks are far greater. Those who establish an unhealthy relationship with alcohol early on are far more likely to experience life problems down the road. Notably, the development of an alcohol use disorder and all the other physical maladies that come with the disease of alcohol addiction.

If you or a loved one is binge drinking regularly, there is a good chance that is has already begun to negatively impact your life. Having trouble accomplishing tasks or fulfilling responsibilities is an ominous sign that alcohol use disorder has already taken hold. If you are young and don’t think that you could be an alcoholic this early in life, please take our word that there are no age restrictions on alcoholism.

If you believe that you may have a problem with alcohol, please contact Hope by The Sea today. We can help you determine is addiction treatment is the best course of action.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Reading In Recovery This Summer

How are you filling your free time? What do you do when you are not at work or at a meeting. Hopefully, if you are socializing it is with others working a program of recovery. Rather than friends from your past. Perhaps you have a hobby. Maybe you are part of a book club. Are you reading anything right now? Other than your Big Book and Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, of course. Hint, Hint.

recoveryWhile you can never open your Big Book too much, there are times when you will want to branch out and utilize other materials relevant to recovery. There are, in fact, several great books that have helped countless people better understand their own addiction...and learn ways to maximize their potential in recovery. There are number of memoirs written by people in recovery who have relapsed, perhaps you can learn from the author’s program mishaps. Really, there is no shortage of great recovery related reading material, for both people in recovery and their friends and family.

A few weeks ago, we mentioned a new book about alcohol, alcoholism and the birth of recovery in America. Perhaps some of you went out and purchased the book, or downloaded it on your Kindle. Maybe it wasn’t your cup of tea. No worries, there are several books that might pique your interests.


Reading In Recovery

When you have finished your program reading for the day or week, it might be a good idea to turn the page. Listed below are some recommendations that you may find enjoyable. All of which pertain to recovery, but some are more specific to certain people.

For the Parents

Beautiful Boy by David Sheff: This is a book that comes up often among people who have a child battling addiction or people who want to get some insight on how their disease affects the family. David Sheff gives an account of his son Nic’s battle with drugs and alcohol. As well as the lengths David went to help his son find recovery.

Loving Our Addicted Daughters Back to Life: A Guidebook for Parents by Linda Dahl: A more recent publication geared towards the parents with daughters struggling addiction. A “go-to manual for parents seeking direction to help their daughters.”

For the Addicts and Alcoholics 

Tweak: Growing Up on Methamphetamines by Nic Sheff: A book that gives the flip-side of addiction in the family. Written by an addict trying to find a way out of the darkness of addiction into the light of recovery. Relapse was part of Nic’s story, demanding that he return to treatment again which he writes about what happens next in his second book We All Fall Down. In his second book, “Nic voices a truth that many addicts understand: not every treatment works for every addict. By candidly revealing his own failures and small personal triumphs, he inspires young people to maintain hope and to remember that they are not alone in their battles.”

Dry by Augusten Burroughs: In this memoir, the author of Running With Scissors gives an account of his battle with alcoholism. He writes about his intervention, treatment and helping another alcoholic friend find recovery.

“Think of your head as an unsafe neighborhood; don't go there alone.” ― Augusten Burroughs, Dry


Addiction Recovery

Hopefully, you will have some time this summer to consider the reads above. You never know what you might get out of them. If you came across this post, there is a chance you were looking for the ideal place to begin the journey of recovery. If so, look no further. Hope by The Sea can help you stem the tide of active addiction and teach you how living a life in recovery is possible. Please contact us today.

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.

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San Juan Capistrano
CA 92675