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Saturday, October 14, 2017

Advocating for Addiction Treatment

addiction
Over the years we have discussed the “war on drugs,” and the fact that handcuffs are not the solution to addiction. We've considered the impact mandatory minimum sentencing laws have had on society in creating a prison industrial complex in America. More people in the United States are incarcerated than any other country in the world, despite the fact that Americans only making up 5 percent of the global population. In the “land of the free,” 737 of every 100,000 (2,193,798) Americans are behind bars, according to International Centre for Prison Studies. Around half of all prisoners are in prison for nonviolent drug offenses, whose only crime was an addiction.

Efforts have been made to approach substance use disorder more humanely in recent years. People found in possession of a small amount of drugs are, in many cases, given the option of treatment rather than jail. Some prisoners arrested in the 1980’s and early ‘90’s have received pardons and sentence commutations. In individual states, judges can decide if a mandatory minimum is warranted or not, on a case by case basis. All of the above are steps in the right direction, but more needs to be done to undo the effects of waging war on drugs for decades.

It’s easy to understand the mindset of people who are (or were) in favor of a zero-tolerance approach to addiction. Drugs are addictive and hazardous, people who sell drugs turn a profit on others' misery. Handcuffs and prison time seem like the only way to make individuals change their behavior, at least that is the general line of reasoning regarding the war on drugs. However, evidence suggests that the vast majority of people do not learn the lesson that lawmakers would have one learn. Look no further than recidivism rates in America, and they are staggering.

 

When Addiction Hits Home


Historically, the law enforcement officers charged with arresting and imprisoning drug offenders believed that what they were doing what was just. That is what Kevin Simmers, a former drug cop from Hagerstown, Maryland, thought about the work of getting drugs addicts off the streets, WAMU reports. Until that is, addiction found its way into his own home.

“At the end of the night, we’d go home and say ‘man — we got seven arrests tonight, we’re putting a dent in this stuff,” said Simmers. “I felt like I was doing God’s work. Then when it hit my own family, I was in for an awakening.” 

Mr. Simmers went from fighting addiction on the streets to becoming an advocate for addiction treatment, a change of heart that came at a significant cost. In 2013, his daughter Brooke confided that she was dependent on Percocet, according to the article. Brooke was seventeen, at the time. Prescription opioids led to heroin, and her opioid use disorder required addiction treatment. Brooke went through several programs, halfway houses, and experienced many relapses. She finally wound up in jail, and it seemed like she was ready to pour all of herself into recovery.

While in jail, Brooke had a dream that she shared with her father. Brooke dreamt of building a home for women in the throes of addiction, according to the report. Unlike the crumby houses, where she tried to recover; her house would be “clean and beautiful.” Not long after Brooke’s release from jail, she died of a fatal overdose on April 14, 2015.

“I believed wholeheartedly that enforcement — incarceration — was the answer to this,” Simmers said. “But then when addiction hit my house, I saw that that wasn’t true. What we need is drug treatment. We need to help the person.”


If you are having trouble watching, please click here.

Simmers has every intention of building Brooke’s House and has raised more than $500,000. The home will be just as Brooke envisioned it in her jailhouse dream, a long-term residential treatment center for young women.

 

Opioid Addiction Treatment


More than a hundred overdose deaths occur in the United States, every day. Synthetic opioids are more prevalent than ever, exponentially increasing the risk of death. If you are struggling with opioid use disorder, please contact Celebrate Hope at Hope by The Sea. Recovery is the only way to break the cycle of addiction and avoid a fatal overdose.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Alcohol Industry Targets Underage Drinkers

There is a voluntary code in the alcohol industry: Only promote to adults. There is a good reason for such a code. Underage drinking leads to a host of problems, including alcohol poisoning, driving under the influence and the risk of developing an alcohol use disorder. Influencing young people to drink can have a serious impact on both individuals and society.

It’s worth pointing out that alcohol is used and abused among young people more than any other mind-altering substance, including tobacco and marijuana. While legal, the short-term risks associated with alcohol consumption are typically much greater than smoking cannabis and/or cigarettes. But, if you have ever watched beer commercials on television it’s probably occurred to you that such advertisements are often geared toward a young audience. Despite the voluntary code of social responsibility.

Look no further than a college sports game to see what we are talking about. A group of researchers decided to investigate how often corporate social contracts are breached, and young people are the targets of alcohol adverts. A study published in Alcoholism Clinical & Experimental Research showed that the alcohol brands most popular among underage drinkers run television ads that violate the industry's voluntary code, Science Daily reports. The beers teens drink the most are made by companies who regularly violate.

 

Preventing Underage Drinking


Drinking alcohol, especially in the manner that young people often do, can be particularly hazardous to one’s health. We have written often about the dangers of “binge drinking” and heavy episodic drinking. Nothing good comes from teens and young adults who engage in such practices. In our own field, the evidence is clear; young adults regularly seek treatment for alcohol use disorder. People whose own drinking was likely influenced at a young age by the alcohol industry.

Boston University School of Public Health (BUSPH) researchers found that youth-preferred beer brands are made by the industry's biggest violators of the corporate social responsibility code, according to the article. The findings come from an analysis of 288 brand-specific beer advertisements, representing 23 brands. All of the ads aired during the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) men's and women's basketball tournaments between 1999 to 2008.
"This is the first systematic investigation of the relationship between beer brands popular among youth and these brands' youth-targeted contents among their television advertisements aired during a decade of a major national sports event," lead author Ziming Xuan, associate professor of community health sciences at BUSPH. "It is no news that advertisements influence consumer behaviors, but to discover such a close link between brand-specific youth-appealing advertisement content and beer brand preference among underage drinkers is new, and certainly a concerning public health issue."
The research team found that 21.5 percent of the advertisements breached the voluntary code. The brands that violated the code aired ads far more often than the companies not popular among young people.

"These results suggest that some beer producers are successfully targeting underage youth and therefore deriving profits from illegal alcohol consumption," the researchers wrote. "Our evidence underscores the need for strong and independent enforcement of the code to prevent continued inclusion of youth-appealing content in alcohol marketing materials.”

 

Alcohol Use Disorder Treatment


If you are a young adult whose life has become unmanageable due to heavy alcohol use, there is a good chance that treatment is required. Young adults can recover from alcohol use disorder, with help. Please contact Celebrate Hope at Hope by The Sea if you are ready to break the cycle for addiction, and seek recovery.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

The Vietnam War, PTSD and Addiction

PTSD
There is a significant number of people working programs of addiction recovery today who are living with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). A serious mental health condition involving individuals who feel stressed or frightened even when they are not in danger. In many cases, people’s addiction was the result of coping with untreated PTSD. The symptoms can be blunted, for a time, by drugs and alcohol; but, in the end substance use and abuse only serves to worsen one's symptoms. When one’s PTSD is triggered while in recovery, there is great risk of relapse.

The disorder can manifest itself in a number of ways, according to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), such as:
  • Re-experiencing Symptoms: Flashbacks, bad dreams and frightening thoughts.
  • Avoidance Symptoms: staying away from places, events, or objects linked to the trauma. Avoiding thoughts or feelings related to the trauma.
  • Arousal and Reactivity Symptoms: Being easily startled, feeling tense or “on edge,” difficulty sleeping and outbursts of anger.
  • Cognition and Mood Symptoms: Trouble remembering key features of the traumatic event, negative thoughts about oneself or the world, distorted feelings like guilt or blame and loss of interest in enjoyable activities.
PTSD can occur in anyone who has experienced a traumatic event, such as a violent attack or serious injury. However, the condition is most commonly associated with combat veterans, and for good reason. Those who go off to war or armed conflict of any kind are exposed to horrific events. Asked to do things that under normal circumstances would be unthinkable. While most people make it through to the other side of battle without the lingering effects of trauma, many are not so fortunate. People with PTSD are at risk of being triggered by a host of cues for the rest for their lives.

 

The Vietnam War and PTSD


The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs estimates that PTSD afflicts almost 31 percent of Vietnam veterans. As was pointed out earlier, PTSD episodes can be triggered by anything linked to the traumatic event. So, it is fair to say that "The Vietnam War: A Film by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick" is the epitome of a trigger. The ten-part, 18-hour documentary film series is chock full of the graphic images and sounds of one of the darkest chapters in American history.

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is urging Vietnam Vets to take precaution if they are planning to watch the series. Watch the series with a loved one and be prepared to reach out for help from the VA. Viewing the documentary can easily trigger PTSD.


PTSD and Addiction


Many Vietnam Veterans went years before seeking help for their PTSD. The United States has been in many armed conflicts since that time, and there are many young men and women who are
self-medicating their PTSD with drugs and alcohol today. Treatment works, but it requires that both the PTSD and substance use disorder be treated at the same time. If you or a loved one is living with addiction and a co-occurring mental health disorder like PTSD, please contact Celebrate Hope at Hope by The Sea.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Inspiring Recovery In Others

recovery monthWe are now in the final days of National Recovery Month. Hopefully, you are all aware of what it is, and its importance. Recovery Month is about many things. From addiction recovery related events hosted across the country, to taking time to reflect upon how far you have come in your own recovery. Every September, people around the United States acknowledge the brave men and women who have turned their lives around with the help of a program of recovery.

If you are in recovery yourself, then you know how hard it was to break the cycle of addiction. To ignore your programming which tells you that you can drink or drug without consequence. Even when you know that it isn’t reality. And because mental illness has no known cure, every day you must recommit yourself to the practices and principles of recovery. Doing so requires tremendous effort, using drugs and alcohol is easy—recovery mandates work.

For every one person in recovery, there are scores more still in the throes of addiction. Which is why every day in recovery is both a blessing and a privilege. Never to be minimized. At Celebrate Drug Rehab, we hope that all of you actively working a program takes a moment to acknowledge the strides you have made. Not only are you living life on life’s terms, you serve as an inspiration to the millions of people still actively using.

 

Take Pride In Recovery


While pride is said to come before the fall, there is such a thing as healthy acknowledgement of one’s good work. If you are working a program, then you have helped others even if you don’t know it. Even those of you with 30-days or less, show others still “out there” that recovery is possible. People working in the field of addiction medicine understand the power of fellowship. Togetherness is what allows this whole enterprise to remain afloat, and has done so for almost a century.

People in recovery are part of something great, awe inspiring even. It does not take much energy to remember what it was like out there. The things that one had to do to keep the fire of addiction burning, were in many cases unconscionable. Not anymore. Today, you can wake up and be of service to your fellow recovering addicts and alcoholics. And, to society as a whole.

As you well know, millions of Americans have not been fortunate enough to find recovery, yet. Many of those people don’t believe that recovery is possible. You might be able to change their opinion on that front. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is asking those who are willing to Join the Voices for Recovery. You can share your experience with recovery online by video or written word. By doing so, you can inspire and encourage others to embrace a program of recovery. Please take a moment to watch a short example below:


If you are having trouble viewing, please click here.

 

Addiction Treatment Works


Celebrate Hope at Hope by The Sea would like to honor everyone actively working a program of recovery. You have so much to be grateful for, today. If you are still in the grips of active addiction, please contact us to find out how recovery can be a part of your story.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Practicing Patience In Recovery

recovery
Patience is a virtue, albeit one hard to attain for many people. Particularly for those who have a history of addiction. Everyone in recovery knows what it means to, ‘want what I want, when I want it.’ Knows firsthand about seeking instant gratification, and becoming upset when pleasure needs be waited on. While it is not a mindset wholly unique to addicts and alcoholics, it is certainly a pervasive trait among such people.

When you embark upon a journey of recovery, the eternal act of recreating oneself for the better, you find out pretty quickly that you’re not the center of the universe. That time does not belong to you, more importantly: you are not god. You are not the most important person in the room. You learn right off the bat, life happens on life’s terms and your once inability to accept that reality contributed to your downward spiral.

Thus, a change was needed, if you were going to make it in recovery. You would have to re-learn what patience is, remind yourself of its value. Because, if you cannot wait for the miracles of recovery to present themselves, you’d likely return to the banes of addiction. Whether you like it or not. If you are new to the program, there will be many realizations in the coming weeks, months and years. After all, recovery is a lifelong endeavor, we don’t wake up one day and think to ourselves, ‘voilá, I’m recovered.’ Whatever vehicle of recovery you choose to take the ride in, it’s a journey that should not stop. If it has ended, one of two things has occurred: relapse or expiration.

 

Practicing Patience in Recovery


To be sure, patience is not inherent or innate, we are not born with the virtue; one need only observe the movements of a child to see that for truth. No, we learn it along the way, and like anything you want to get better at—practice makes perfect. With that in mind, a good approach to improving your ability to exercise patience is to ever remind yourself (as clichĂ© as it sounds) that everything happens in its own time and that everything happens for a reason.

In early recovery, it can be easy to convince yourself that because you are sober now, windfalls are on the near horizon. While it is great that you have chosen to embark on a new path, much work is needed before the blessings of recovery (usually) occur. For many, the wreckage of one’s past is extensive. A great number of people walk into a meeting for the first time with few resources. Homeless, unemployed and financially destitute. Others have significant debt, that will need to be paid along the way. The list goes on, but you get the point, surely. It is impossible to determine when one’s lot will change. But, one thing is certain, things will never change if recovery is abandoned. And, it is worth noting that your worst day in recovery is far better than your best day in active addiction. Why? Because you have options in recovery, whereas…

If you are willing to do the Work, good things will come your way eventually. Recovery is a process, it takes time for improvements to be seen. Which is OK. This is not a race where speed is the most important attribute one can have. There's much to be unpacked mentally, emotionally and spiritually, if long-term recovery is to be obtained. Both your higher power and sponsor will be there for you along the way, if you let them. Ever remind yourself that you are no longer running away from yourself, you’re running towards. With a clear head and clear conscious the miracles of recovery will inevitably present themselves to you, often when you least expect. As long as you can remember that there is nothing to be lost by staying the course. Those who drift away from the program stand to lose — everything.

“Patience is bitter, but its fruit is sweet.” — Jean-Jacques Rousseau 

Let Addiction Treatment Guide You


In addiction treatment, much time is spent learning how to ground oneself in the present. Exercises in how to cope with situations that could send one down an unhealthy path. Learning how to trust. Not just another, trust in yourself. If you are ready to begin the process of addiction recovery, please contact Celebrate Hope at Hope by The Sea today. We can equip you with the skills and tools for successfully achieving long-term recovery.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Raising Awareness About Overdose Deaths

overdose deaths
As things stand right now, experts believe that there will be more overdose deaths in 2017 than last year. Before this year comes to an end, over 50,000 more Americans will likely succumb to an overdose. Just to give you an idea of the staggering death toll, 64,000 people died of an overdose in 2016. That is 11, 596 more Americans than the year before (52,404). We probably do not have to mention that the cause of these terrible incidents was opioid narcotics. Such as prescription opioids, heroin and synthetics like fentanyl (100 times stronger than morphine).

With ever-mounting opioid-related morbidity rates, it’s fair to say that this problem demands the attention of every American. And that all of Us, can have a hand in raising awareness about opioid addiction and treatment. Particularly regarding the fact that treatment works and addiction recovery is possible. Believe it or not, many of the afflicted do not think that they can break the cycle of addiction. It is a belief that is often fortified by individuals' attempts to abstain from opioids on their own. That is, not having the aid of medical detox and addiction treatment professionals. Without assistance, relapse is almost always a given. Being more a question of “when,” rather than “if.”

Even if someone manages to get past the acute withdrawal stage on their own, which is possible (believe it or not), the likelihood of achieving long-term recovery is slim. The pull of opioids is extremely strong, and without a Program and a “higher power” to rely on, relapse is usually a foregone conclusion. Which is why lawmakers, health experts and local clergymen to double their efforts to encourage people with opioid use disorders to seek assistance.

 

#2069 Opioid Overdose Deaths


In the wake of last year's overdoses, Rev. Ron Tibbetts of the Trinity Episcopal Church in Wrentham, MA, decided to launch a novel campaign. In 2016, the state of Massachusetts lost 2,069 of its citizens to opioid-related overdoses, The Boston Globe reports. Upon learning of the startling figure, Rev. Tibbetts started the #2069 sign campaign to raise awareness.

Here’s how it works; the church has made simple lawn signs that people in Mass can order to place in their yard. The signs have a white background with “#2069” on them, intended to be stark and bleak, according to the Reverend. Signs can be purchased by making a $12 donation which will go towards an awareness rally the church is holding on Oct. 28, 2017, The Globe reports. Called No Shame 2017. The event is meant to raise opioid awareness and recognize first responders who have been assisting overdose victims. By the end of August, some 277 signs had been ordered from the Trinity Episcopal Church.

“It’s empowered us to become a lot more aware of the world around us,” said Tibbetts.

 

Addiction Recovery


The work of Trinity Episcopal Church is just one example of houses of faith doing their part to address the epidemic. Across the country, churches have been opening their doors to addicts with nowhere else to turn. At Celebrate Hope we commend the good works happening in Mass, and would like to help spread the message that addiction recovery is possible with the help of Christ. If you are struggling with opioids please contact our faith-based residential addiction treatment center. We can help you break the cycle of addiction and help you re-establish contact with your higher power.

Friday, September 1, 2017

E-Cigarettes Linked to Smoking Cessation

smoking cessation
Tobacco products despite being both addictive and deadly are often considered to be of little concern in comparison to other addictive substances. The reasons for this mindset are numerous, with the most notable being the legality of the products and the fact that death is usually meted out slowly. Smoking related illness typically comes later in life. It is true that cigarettes and their ilk are legal for adult use. And most people won’t end up mortgaging their home to support the habit. They are deadly and kill more people every year than opioids, drugs that have stolen the spotlight in recent years.

Aside from the fact that cigarettes are addictive, cessation is important to professionals working in the field of addiction for other reasons. Research suggests that smokers working a program of addiction recovery for another substance(s), are at an exponentially greater risk of relapse. Which is why reputable alcohol and substance use disorder treatment centers place a major emphasis on clients embracing smoking cessation while in their care.

So, if smoking can result in recovery efforts being for naught, those in treatment would be wise to heed the advice to quit. Obviously, this is easier said than done, but it’s possible, nonetheless. Especially with the help of one of the many smoking cessation aids in conjunction with cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). Upon hearing this you may be wondering if e-cigarettes qualify as acceptable smoking cessation aids. Until recently, the answer to that question might have been an emphatic “no,” depending on who you asked. However, new research indicates that some people may benefit from e-cigarettes.

 

Quitting Smoking With E-Cigarettes


Whether you are in recovery or merely thinking about giving recovery a chance, you know of the existence of e-cigarettes. Vaping has become a mainstream activity and is a multibillion dollar industry. There is a high likelihood that you are familiar with the ongoing debate of the safety of the devices, as well. While most health experts tend to agree that e-cigs are safer than traditional nicotine products, there has been little consensus about the efficacy of e-cigarettes for smoking cessation. New research has shown that those attempting to quit tobacco could be aided by e-cigarettes, according to a Georgetown University Medical Center press release. The study was conducted at the Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center and published in Nicotine & Tobacco Research.
e-cigarettes

Together with research published this July in BMJ, there is a clear connection between e-cigarettes and smoking cessation. The Georgetown researchers analyzed a national survey of more than 24,500 current or recent former cigarette users, the press release reports. The survey, Tobacco Use Supplement to the Current Population Survey (TUS-CPS), tracks long-term trends in tobacco use, cessation attempts and tobacco-related policies. David Levy, PhD, professor of oncology at Georgetown Lombardi and lead study author points out that e-cigarettes may not be effective for every smoker. He says of the research:

"Our findings are consistent with randomized trials and those observational studies that measure frequency of e-cigarette use. These results support the use of e-cigarettes -- especially, consistent use -- as an effective smoking cessation aid. Since e-cigarettes are generally estimated to have a small proportion of the mortality risks of cigarettes, this represents an important life-saving intervention that doctors can recommend when other forms of treatment fail."

 

Addiction Treatment: A Great Time to Quit, Everything


If you are in need of help for substance use and dependence, please contact Celebrate Hope at Hope by The Sea. We can assist you in breaking free from all mind-altering substances that are negatively impacting your life, including tobacco. While no one can force you to quit smoking, it could be beneficial to achieving the goal of long-term recovery.
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