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Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Vigilant About Recovery During Thanksgiving

The holiday season begins tomorrow with Thanksgiving, and we are hopeful that you have a plan for maintaining your recovery. This year is a lot different than previous years owing to the COVID-19 pandemic. Many of you will have to steer clear of loved ones on behalf of health and safety. 


Yesterday in our country, there were 178,200 new cases and 2,216 deaths from the coronavirus. The third wave of the pandemic is proving to be the worst phase of the pandemic yet. Hopefully, a vaccine will be available in the near future, but we will all have to continue adhering to public health agency protocols for the time being. 


This time of year is already challenging for individuals in recovery, especially for those new to working a program. One must be especially vigilant in order to protect their progress. There are many ways that you can get tripped up due to the high likelihood of facing triggers that can precipitate a relapse. 


The best way to get through the holidays is to continue practicing the principles of recovery in all your affairs. What’s more, you must stick to your routine as best as possible. Many of you will have to spend Thanksgiving away from family, friends, and members of your support network. As such, it’s vital to take advantage of virtual support tools. 


A Virtual Thanksgiving


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that everyone avoid traveling if possible this Thanksgiving. It’s vital to limit your contact with anyone who does not live with you. The CDC cautions, “Travel can increase the chance of getting and spreading the virus that causes COVID-19. Staying home is the best way to protect yourself and others.” 


The CDC suggests that you engage in lower-risk activities to prevent the contraction and spread of coronavirus. Lower risk activities include:

  • Having a small dinner with only people who live in your household.
  • Preparing traditional family recipes for family and neighbors, especially those at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19, and delivering them in a way that doesn’t involve contact with others.
  • Having a virtual dinner and sharing recipes with friends and family.
  • Shopping online rather than in person on the day after Thanksgiving or the next Monday.
  • Watching sports events, parades, and movies from home

Most members of the recovery community already have experience with video conferencing platforms. Perhaps you have attended 12 Step meetings online over the past several months. You are encouraged to plan to participate in virtual meetings tomorrow, especially if Thanksgiving is an emotional day for you. 


Participating in meetings is an excellent way to process the emotions that might crop up from being away from friends and family tomorrow. Reach out to your support network members to determine if anyone is hosting a virtual Thanksgiving dinner for people in recovery. 


The important thing is not to isolate, even if you find yourself alone during Thanksgiving. The recovery community is always at hand to help you get through challenging days of the year. Please be sure to reach out to members of your homegroup, particularly newcomers, to see how they are doing with the holiday. Just showing that you care will help them and make your feel better. 


Southern California Addiction Treatment Center


At Hope By The Sea, we would like to wish everyone in recovery a safe, sober, and happy Thanksgiving 2020. Please reach out to us if you need assistance with drugs, alcohol, or co-occurring mental illness. We are standing by around the clock to answer any questions about our programs and services. Please call (866) 930-4673 to learn more. Hope Starts Here!

Friday, November 20, 2020

OxyContin Maker Pleads Guilty to Felony Charges

Before heroin and fentanyl took the spotlight regarding the American opioid addiction epidemic, prescription painkillers were the primary focus. Since the mid-1990s, drugs like OxyContin (oxycodone) were doled out to patients excessively. Prescription opioids found their way to medicine cabinets in overwhelming numbers. 


With tens of thousands of people dying each year from an overdose, the U.S. was using 80 percent of the global prescription opioid stockpile. It's worth noting that Americans constitute about five percent of the world population. Doctors prescribed staggering numbers of opioids despite the inherent risk. Sadly, it's still pretty easy to get a doctor to prescribe you oxycodone or another powerful narcotic. 


In the last decade, thousands of lawsuits were levied by states and individuals against prescription drug manufacturers, distributors, and pharmacies for their role in the opioid epidemic. Many are still being litigated; such is the case against Purdue Pharma—the maker of OxyContin. 


When Purdue Pharma released OxyContin, claims were made by the company that the drug had a low potential for addiction. Naturally, we know that such an assertion couldn't be any farther from the truth. 


OxyContin Maker Pleads Guilty


Today, the company is facing scores of lawsuits. So many that Purdue Pharma filed for bankruptcy protection. Last month, Purdue agreed to plead guilty to several criminal charges and pay over $8 billion in fines. This week, a federal bankruptcy judge approved the settlement. 


Under the terms of the settlement with the Justice Department, Purdue will plead guilty to three felony counts of criminal wrongdoing, NPR reports. Moreover, the company has plans to reorganize into a public benefit company or public trust, and the profits from future opioid sales would fund addiction recovery programs. 


The guilty plea and agreement to pay $8.3 billion may seem like a win for the victims of the opioid epidemic. However, many state attorneys general and members of Congress believe that the settlement falls short. 


Part of the controversy surrounding the deal is that the owners of Purdue Pharma – the Sackler family – will only have to pay out $225 million in fines. It's a small fraction of the billions of dollars they made over more than two decades of opioid sales. What's more, the family will not admit any wrongdoing or face criminal charges. 


"They're not going to have any consequences," said Nan Goldin, an artist and activist who organized a group committed to holding manufacturers of the opioid crisis responsible. Following the judge's ruling, Goldin said, "I'm very disappointed, I think we're going further toward injustice." 


In a letter sent to Attorney General William Barr before the bankruptcy judge ruled, 15 senators remarked that the company's proposal to turn Purdue Pharma into a public-benefit company (PBC) creates a hazardous conflict of interest. The senators write


"DOJ should not require the States, who are attempting to rectify the harm Purdue has done to their communities, to lead Purdue's public benefit 'repurposing' campaign and take part in an enterprise that has contributed to thousands of American deaths. Given that this plan originated with Purdue and its owners, the Sackler family, it is more likely that its transformation to a PBC will function as a rebranding opportunity for the company and the family's public image. This is not justice for the families that have lost loved ones."


Judge Robert Drain was not swayed by any of the objections to the settlement. He stated that the PBC plan would raise a lot of funds to "alleviate and abate" the opioid epidemic. Still, Purdue Pharma must contend with more than two dozen states suing the company. 


California Opioid Use Disorder Treatment


If you or a loved one struggles with prescription opioids, heroin, or fentanyl addiction, please contact Hope By The Sea. Our team utilizes evidence-based approaches to breaking the cycle of addiction. We help men and women get on the road to lasting recovery and living fulfilling and productive lives.

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Veterans Seeking Help for Mental Health

We would like to encourage men and women who require assistance for addiction or co-occurring mental illnesses to seek help during Veterans Day. Recovery is possible, but it hinges on treating both substance and mental health disorders concurrently. 


Many combat veterans struggle with post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD. Those who do not receive treatment for the condition are prone to self-medicating with drugs and alcohol. Unhealthy coping mechanisms like drinking and drugging worsen the symptoms of PTSD. The behavior can also lead to the development of a substance use disorder (SUD).


On the flip side, people who use drugs and alcohol are more likely to develop PTSD, according to the National Center for PTSD. Living with addiction can lead to traumatic events that can scar one's psyche. Simply put, veterans who drink and drug to cope with PTSD face problems; civilians who abuse drugs and alcohol are at a higher risk of developing PTSD. 


Reaching Out for Help


During these difficult times, vulnerable people have been having a hard time coping with life changes. Veterans are no exception. Many veterans in recovery are at risk of relapse; isolation isn't beneficial for people with PTSD. Feeling cut off from your support network can make it harder to reach out for help. 


Experts worry that veterans are particularly vulnerable because of the pandemic, The Portland Press Herald reports. The public health crisis may be re-traumatizing for those who look at it through the lens of their wartime experience. 


"Everyone is going through a rough time. It's especially difficult for someone who is already in a tough spot," said Dan Martins, a Navy veteran who served in Iraq and now works as a peer support specialist with the VA Maine Healthcare System. "There is a tendency to unplug from everyone and go into our shell. It's super easy during this time." 


Since March, more than 33,000 virtual mental health visits have occurred in at Veterans Affairs Maine Healthcare System. Thankfully men and women who need support can access through telehealth conferencing platforms. 


"The pandemic has hit everybody, from all levels and all backgrounds. For veterans who have been to combat or have symptoms of PTSD, isolation is going to be ten-fold," said San Pao, a retired staff sergeant and combat veteran with post-traumatic stress disorder.


Pao is a clinical therapist who works with other veterans who struggle with PTSD and addiction. He says that the pandemic's added stressors make it easy for some to turn to drugs and alcohol to cope. 


Southern California TRICARE Addiction Treatment


More than 2 of 10 veterans with PTSD also have a substance use disorder, according to the National Center for PTSD. Almost 1 out of every 3 veterans seeking treatment for SUD also has PTSD. In the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, about 1 in 10 returning Veterans seen in VA have a problem with alcohol or other drugs. 


Veterans living with co-occurring substance use disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder can find recovery with assistance. At Hope By The Sea, we accept TRICARE coverage, which extends to veterans, certain reserve members, and their families. If you require support for addiction or PTSD, please reach out to us today.

Tuesday, November 3, 2020

Protecting Your Recovery From Tobacco

When beginning a journey of long-term recovery, you can benefit from putting all mind-altering substances behind you. When people speak of total abstinence, caffeine and nicotine are often excluded from the conversation. Some contend that it’s best to worry about the more severe substances (drugs and alcohol) first and then address tobacco down the road. 


In some respects, it makes sense; there isn’t much evidence of tobacco playing a role in one’s life falling apart. Nobody has ever been arrested for using too much tobacco. Even though smoking is proven hazardous to one’s health, it can be easy to justify continued use long into recovery. 


If the adverse effects on your health are not enough to get you to consider smoking cessation, maybe lasting recovery will tip the scales. As we have shared before on this blog, smoking cigarettes is associated with a higher risk of substance use disorder relapse. Since preventing relapse is of the utmost importance, please consider smoking cessation in early recovery. Research published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry states


“Continued smoking for smokers and smoking initiation for non-smokers was associated with greater odds of substance use disorder relapse. More research is needed to examine the timing of substance use disorder relapse in relation to smoking behaviors. Incorporating smoking cessation and prevention efforts into substance abuse treatment may improve long-term substance use outcomes for adult smokers with substance use disorders.” 


The risk of relapse is exceptionally high in the first year of recovery. Do whatever you can to lead a healthier existence, and it will pay off in the long run. If you are in treatment, speak to your clinicians about smoking cessation techniques. 


No Healthy Replacements for Cigarettes


substance use disorder
In recent years, many people have made the switch from tobacco to e-cigarettes. While some experts contend that the latter is a healthier alternative to smoking, there is still a lot we do not know about the dangers. Smokeless tobacco can be just as unhealthy as cigarettes; dips and chew are linked to various cancers. There is also the fact that nicotine is still a mind-altering substance that could increase the risk of substance use disorder relapse. 


On top of e-cigarettes, advancements in technology have also given us “heat-not-burn” tobacco products. People who use products like IQOS from Philip Morris may think that they are reducing the risk of harm by making the switch from traditional tobacco products. However, new research suggests that these products carry risks. 


Researchers from Louisiana State University (LSU) Health Sciences Center in New Orleans found that heat-not-burn (HNB) products damage the heart, HealthDay reports. While the body of research is limited, the authors analyzed almost 50 human and rodent studies. The review appears in the American Journal of Physiology-Heart and Circulatory Physiology


“Heat-not-burn devices are marketed as a safer alternative to cigarettes for existing smokers. However, as we have learned from vaping and e-cigarettes, these products are very likely to be used by minors and never-smokers due to marketing, flavor options and lack of social stigma that is found with traditional cigarettes,” study co-author Jason Gardner said in a university news release. 


The researchers found that noncombustible cigarettes were linked to:

  • High Blood Pressure
  • Reduced Dilation of Blood Vessels
  • Stiffening of the Arteries
  • Increased Heart Rate
  • Reduced Heart Function

The authors conclude, “Use of these products can lead to nicotine addiction and additional clinical, basic science, and epidemiological studies are needed to better understand the health effects of HNB products. This knowledge will assist consumers, physicians, lawmakers, and regulatory bodies in making informed decisions about these products.” 


California Substance Use Disorder Treatment


If you or a loved one is in the grips of alcohol or substance use disorder, please contact Hope By The Sea to learn more about our programs and services. We help our clients begin the journey of long-term addiction recovery. Hope Starts Here at 866-930-4673.

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