If you feel like God is far away,

ask yourself “who moved?”

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Friday, August 11, 2017

Avoiding Triggers in Early Recovery

addiction recovery
Living a life free from drugs and alcohol is no easy task. It is not a coincidence that most relapses happen within the first year of recovery. Whether you sought help by way of treatment or not. Of course, those who do seek the assistance of a substance use disorder treatment facility are given tools and taught skills to better mitigate the risk of relapse.

When you go to treatment for alcohol or substance use disorders, getting you off substances is the first order of business. Next, comes the work. Learning, understanding and accepting ways of living that can help you avoid the temptations lurking around every corner. One of the reasons that staying clean and sober for long period of time is so difficult is triggers. People, places or things that can elicit certain responses and feelings in thee mind.

In early recovery, avoiding triggers is absolutely paramount. Those who delude themselves into thinking they are stronger than they are, often encounter problems. People with less than a year sober have no good reason to be in an environment where people are using. If there is a party that requires your presence (i.e. work related event), bringing a friend in the program with you is always wise. That being said, it is possible to stay out of shark infested water in early recovery. If one is honest about their limitations.

Triggers In Addiction Recovery


Alcohol and drugs are triggers. But, there are other subtler triggers that can make a person want to use, too. After years of living in addiction, there are number of mental associations that form. Stimuli and behaviors that went along with your disease, but are not necessarily things that will get you drunk or high on their own.

For instance, everyone listens to music. Perhaps there was a band that you listened to a lot when you were using. Now in recovery, you may play a song that could make you have fond memories of when you were using. Forgetting all the pain that drugs and alcohol caused, you find yourself with a smile on your face. This can be dangerous. In early recovery, you would be wise to make a list of certain bands that could trigger your appetite for particular substances.

Music is just a general example of something benign in nature that can have catastrophic impact on your program. Early on in treatment, you and your counselor will likely narrow down things in the outside world that could jeopardize your recovery. Identify places that should be avoided, and people that you should try to stay clear of. One’s addiction will be constantly trying to steer you towards the precipice of relapse. Working a program counters the sinister drive of addiction. After leaving treatment, you will work with a sponsor and go to meetings. It is vital that you talk with your fellows in recovery about any and all urges to use that you are having. Not doing so is a slippery slope to relapse.

 

Addiction Treatment As A Model


Some of you reading this are not in recovery yet, but need it. If that is the case, please contact Celebrate Hope at Hope by The Sea. We can help you build a solid foundation for recovery, and teach you about the people, places and things that should be avoided—at all costs. Achieving long-term recovery is possible, let us show you how.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Opioid Addiction Report: Declare A National Emergency

opioid addiction
There is a good chance that you have been affected by the widespread misuse of opioid painkillers. Either yourself personally, or you have a loved one or close friend who's been touched by the disease of addiction. Right now, there are millions of Americans living with an untreated opioid use disorder. You may have heard tell that the White House appointed a Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis. The hope is to find viable solutions to our nation’s most serious public health crisis.

Solutions are desperately needed, people are dying and many more are meeting the criteria for opioid addiction with each day that passes. Confronting this epidemic has proved to be a serious challenge. While there have been efforts to both assist addicts get help and make it harder to acquire prescription opioids, still around 142 Americans die of an overdose every day.

Last year, Congress approved and President Obama signed into law a couple piece of legislation aimed at putting an end to the epidemic. Legislation that called for funding addiction treatment services, expanding access to the opioid overdose reversal drug naloxone and training doctors to be more frugal prescribers. The Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) and the 21st Century Cures Act have yet to bear quantifiable proof. Only time will tell. The current administration has placed their trust in the opioid commission to address the epidemic.

 

Opioid Crisis Report



Many addiction experts have eagerly awaited what conclusions the commission would make. This week, the Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis released a preliminary report, according to the Associated Press. Wherein, the first order of business calls for the President to declare the opioid addiction epidemic a national emergency. Report says that roughly 142 deaths each day is "equal to September 11th event every three weeks."

“Your declaration would empower your cabinet to take bold steps and would force Congress to focus on funding and empowering the Executive Branch even further to deal with this loss of life. It would also awaken every American to this simple fact: if this scourge has not found you or your family yet, without bold action by everyone, it soon will.” 

The commission included several recommendations in their report, including:
  • Enforcing mental health parity laws, ensuring people get the coverage they need for addiction treatment.
  • Equipping “all” law enforcement officers with naloxone.
  • Funding federal agencies to develop fentanyl detection sensors.
  • Increasing the use of opioid addiction medications, such as buprenorphine.
  • Require doctors and other people working in the medical field to get buprenorphine prescribing waivers.
  • Facilitate state prescription drug monitoring programs data sharing nationally by July 1, 2018.
The commissioner stated that it will release another report later this fall.

 

Addiction Treatment


Opioid addiction is difficult to recover from, but it is possible. The process usually begins with detox to help you get through the withdrawal process, the pain of which often leads to immediate relapse without assistance. Then followed by residential addiction treatment to teach you how a life in recovery can be achieved, teaching you skills and providing tools to help achieve success. After treatment, a continued program of spiritual maintenance is how one holds on to their recovery for years to come.

If you are ready to take the journey of addiction recovery, please contact Celebrate Hope at Hope by The Sea today.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Mental Health Treatment Around The World

mental illness
In the United States there are resources available to help people dealing with mental health disorders, such as depression. Yet, only 44.7 percent of adults with any mental illness received any mental health services in 2013, according to a new report by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). If you are familiar with the field of mental health you may not be surprised by SAMHSA’s findings. Because you know that reaching out for help is extremely hard for people living with mental illness.

We live in a society that still struggles to understand that mental health disorders are serious impairments. These conditions require treatment and continued therapy over the course of one’s life. People living with mental illness often fear that asking for help will result in them being stigmatized by the peers. Thus preventing people for taking the first step to recover.

To be sure, we have come along way with regard to stigma, but it is a fight that is extremely hard to win. Consider the general public’s lack of understanding about conditions like depression or addiction. Despite the fact that there is ample evidence showing that treatments are effective, they are widely underutilized. Those living with any type of untreated mental illness are at great risk of developing problems with mind-altering substances. That is because people with untreated mental health problems often self-medicate, leading to the development of co-occurring mental health disorders. In turn, requiring an extra level of treatment.

 

Talk Therapy for Mental Illness


The SAMHSA report indicated 43.8 million adults (age 18 or older) experienced a diagnosable mental illness in 2013. Given that 9.3 million Americans reported having serious thoughts of suicide in the past year, the need for encouraging more people to seek help is great.

Mental illness is a worldwide problem, with depression affecting more than 300 million people around the globe, according to the the World Health Organization (WHO). Because treatment rates are so low in this country, perhaps American health experts should look for examples in other countries.

A campaign was launched in 2008 to help people living with mental illness in England, called Healthy Minds. It has the expressed goal of creating a system of primary care for mental health across the UK, The New York Times reports. Healthy Minds offers free open-ended talk therapy at clinics throughout the country. Since the program’s inception, adults in England receiving mental health treatment increased from 1 in 4 to 1 in 3. What’s more, people all over the country have access to talk therapy and not just in cities. Brits are getting help, according to the article, in:
  • Desolate Farming Villages
  • Industrial Suburbs
  • Remote Immigrant Communities
The program has had a serious impact on the stigma surrounding mental illness, as well. This gives more people the strength to seek the help they desperately need.

“You now actually hear young people say, ‘I might go and get some therapy for this,’” said Dr. Tim Kendall, the clinical director for mental health for the National Health Service. “You’d never, ever hear people in this country say that out in public before.”

 

Co-Occurring Disorder Treatment


If you are living with any type of mental illness, the problem is always made worse by using drugs and alcohol. At Celebrate Drug Rehab, we specialize in treating clients with a dual diagnosis. Please reach out to us to begin the process of recovery.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Less Addictive Prescription Opioids?

Nearly 20 years into a prescription opioid epidemic, it is fair to say that opioid painkillers are not going anywhere. At least anytime soon, that is. Try as one might to find an alternative form of pain management that does not carry the potential for abuse, few options are available. Drugs, such as Exparel have shown promise regarding post-surgery pain, but it is not widely used, yet. As far as the day to day chronic pain that millions of Americans suffer from, there just isn’t anything as effective as opioids, seemingly.

Nevertheless, the search must continue to find replacement pain therapies and to reduce the practice of over-prescribing these deadly narcotics. One need only look at the front pages of newspapers across the country to get an idea of the scope and scale of this epidemic. Hundreds of people die from overdose every week from prescription opioids prescribed for pain. Yet, doctors continue to prescribe, and in way they must. Patient pain, and the treatment of it is important. But, the cost of doing so is exceedingly great.

There are alternative forms of pain management, perhaps less effective but certainly not carrying the risk of overdose. Over the counter pain relievers can do more than most people think. Combine those with holistic approaches, like acupuncture and yoga, and good results can be achieved. Although, there will always be some people who will not respond to safer approaches. Reducing the need for opioids remains a serious challenge.

 

Less Addictive Opioids?


New research suggests that NKTR-181, by Nektar Therapeutics, may be a safer opioid for managing pain, according to a press release. NKTR-181 has a unique molecular structure, which patients may be less likely to abuse.

Unlike other opioids currently on the market for pain management, NKTR-181 may provide effective pain relief—without intense euphoria. Which might make users crave it less, mitigating the potential for addiction. The drug also acts on the brain slower than other opioids being prescribed today. The Food and Drug Administration has given NKTR-181 a fast-track designation.

"Getting very high, very fast, is a mark of conventional high-risk, abused opioids," said Jack Henningfield, PhD, vice president at Pinney Associates and adjunct professor at The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. "NKTR-181 represents a meaningful advance in the treatment of pain as the first opioid analgesic with inherent brain-entry kinetics that avoids this addictive quality of traditional opioids. This prevents the rapid 'rush' that abusers seek during the critical period immediately after dosing. Importantly, these properties of NKTR-181 are inherent to its molecular structure and are not changed through tampering or route of administration."

 

Prescription Opioid Addiction


So, if opioids are not going anywhere, less addictive and tamper resistant is a good start, at least. Opioid use disorder is major problem, and any effort to reduce the likelihood of addiction is paramount. In the meantime, pain patients should be leery about a doctor who is quick to resort to opioids before exhausting all other options.

If you have become addicted to your painkillers, please contact Celebrate Drug Rehab. We can help break the cycle of addiction and help you find ways to combat your pain without the use of opioids.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Prayer and Meditation In Addiction Recovery

prayer
Anyone who is new to recovery finds it difficult to take every suggestion given to them. After all, addicts and alcoholics can be stubborn to the bone. Even though their way didn’t work for them, one still wants to hold on to the illusion of control. The idea that, despite all the wrong turns leading up to recovery, we know what is best for us.

Resistance to suggestion can take a number of different forms. What one decides to heed or doesn't, varies from case to case. In early recovery there is a lot of information being bombarded from several directions, one may find it hard to act in accordance to what is suggested. Early on, some of the more common advice that is given that newcomers struggle to take without question, includes:
  • Get a sponsor, don’t put it off.
  • Staying away from romantic entanglements in the first year of recovery.
  • Go to 90 meetings in 90 days.
  • Pray and/or meditate daily.
  • Keep it simple…
  • Don’t take yourself too seriously, and any one of a number of platitudes.
All of which, believe it or not, may seem straightforward and easy to follow, but many in early recovery struggle with some of them. But, all of such advice is sage wisdom when it comes to staying clean and sober. For the purposes of this article, let’s focus on the suggestion to pray or meditate, daily.

 

Spirituality in Recovery


If you have been in the program for even a short time, then you are probably aware that ours is a spiritual program. One’s connection to a “higher power” of their own understanding is what holds a program together. Without something greater to be accountable to, we resume the comfortable position of thinking we are running the show. It’s probably been said to you by now that it doesn’t matter what your higher power is—as long as you have one.

Choosing something greater than yourself may come easier to you than keeping in constant contact with said higher power. In the hustle and bustle of everyday life, it can be hard to drown out the noise and connect with the spiritual. The suggestion to pray or meditate at the start or end of your day is a good one. When the outside world quiets down a bit, early in the morning or late at night, one is in a better position to connect. Better able to open oneself up to the sunshine of the spirit. If you are new, you may be adverse to “God,” or any ideas of omnipotence, for that matter. This is pretty normal. You may find it hard to get down on your knees and open your soul to the spiritual plane. That’s alright. Practice makes perfect.

Are you like the many who are new to the program, who feel a little goofy getting down on your knees and asking for guidance? Or perhaps you have trouble remembering to pray and meditate, after all, in early recovery we have busy lives to contend with. If you are one of those people, perhaps you would entertain another suggestion that might help. When you get ready for bed at the end of your day, put your shoes under the bed. When you wake, unless you are planning to walk around in your socks you will need those shoes. Voila! And there you find yourself already on your knees, open to the light of your higher power. It might sound corny, but it works.

 

Prayer In Addiction


It is not uncommon for people who are still struggling with substances to pray for a way out of the despair. Some of us, after all, grew up with spirituality in our live. Despite the fact that the drugs and alcohol make us deaf to the spirit, we still send out prayerful signals hoping for a response. If you have been praying to change, that is great and change is possible. But it will require something from you, first. Picking up the phone. If you would like to be free from the bondage of self, and break the chains of your addiction, please contact Celebrate Hope at Hope by The Sea.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Symptoms of Alcohol Use Disorder

alcohol use disorder
Do you drink regularly? If so, it may not be cause for concern. Millions of Americans imbibe on regular basis, the majority of whom will never develop an alcohol use disorder (AUD). But that does not mean that there aren't inherent risks to regularly consuming alcohol, or that you will not develop a problem with the world’s most used mind-altering substance. What’s more, the majority of people with an alcohol use disorder may not even be aware that they have a problem.

If you are a regular drinker, and are unsure if there is a problem that needs to be addressed, it might be worth looking into. AUDs that are left untreated can cause a host of medical problems and increase the risk of premature death. One way to assess if you have a problem is to talk to your primary care physician. They can shed light on the subject. Doing so could lead to addiction treatment, and in turn greatly improve the quality of your life. If you have an inkling that your drinking is problematic, please do not hesitate.

Furthermore, it is never wise to gauge the severity of your drinking by comparing yourself to your peers. Their drinking is not relevant to your situation. Every one of us is different. Drinking may not affect your peers' lives in the negative ways it affects your own. It is quite common for people to continue fueling the fire of an alcohol use disorder because they think they do not have a problem based on how their friends drink. It is worth remembering that perceptions are not fact.

 

The Criteria for Alcohol Use Disorder


When diagnosing any health disorder, certain criteria must be met. Whether it is diabetes or depression. One should see a specialist to identify a problem, which is always advised. But you can also utilize resources from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-V). Currently, there are eleven symptoms of alcohol use disorder, which include:
  1. Alcohol is often taken in larger amounts or over a longer period than was intended.
  2. There is a persistent desire or unsuccessful efforts to cut down or control alcohol use.
  3. A great deal of time is spent in activities necessary to obtain alcohol, use alcohol, or recover from its effects.
  4. Craving, or a strong desire or urge to use alcohol.
  5. Recurrent alcohol use resulting in a failure to fulfill major role obligations at work, school, or home.
  6. Continued alcohol use despite having persistent or recurrent social or interpersonal problems caused or exacerbated by the effects of alcohol.
  7. Important social, occupational, or recreational activities are given up or reduced because of alcohol use.
  8. Recurrent alcohol use in situations in which it is physically hazardous.
  9. Alcohol use is continued despite knowledge of having a persistent or recurrent physical or psychological problem that is likely to have been caused or exacerbated by alcohol.
  10. Tolerance, as defined by either of the following: a) A need for markedly increased amounts of alcohol to achieve intoxication or desired effect b) A markedly diminished effect with continued use of the same amount of alcohol.
  11. Withdrawal, as manifested by either of the following: a) The characteristic withdrawal syndrome for alcohol (refer to criteria A and B of the criteria set for alcohol withdrawal) b) Alcohol (or a closely related substance, such as a benzodiazepine) is taken to relieve or avoid withdrawal symptoms.

AUD Severity and Treatment


If you met two of the symptoms criteria, then you meet the criteria for AUD. Depending on how many of the eleven that you meet, will determine the severity of the disorder.
  • Mild: The presence of 2 to 3 symptoms.
  • Moderate: The presence of 4 to 5 symptoms.
  • Severe: The presence of 6 or more symptoms.
So now what? If you meet the criteria for a mild AUD, it may possible to start the process of recovery in the rooms of 12-Step programs or SMART Recovery. For those who have over four symptoms, it is likely that more help assistance initially will be required. At Celebrate Hope, we can help you detox from alcohol and get you started on the road to recovery. Our trained professionals can give your tools and skills for avoiding relapse and achieving long-term recovery. Please contact us today, recovery is possible.

Friday, June 30, 2017

Recovery Tips For The Fourth

recovery
It’s safe to say that when it comes to holidays, Southern California goes above and beyond the call of duty. On Balboa Peninsula in Newport Beach, for instance, it is not uncommon for the police to close major streets from 10:30 a.m. on July 4th to approximately 3 a.m. on July 5th. The hope is to prevent people from driving under the influence. The amount of heavy alcohol use that occurs on in Orange County on the Fourth is absolutely mind boggling.

As you can probably imagine, with so many parties taking place along the coast, it can be a real challenge for those working a program of recovery. However, the Fourth of July can be a challenge for anyone in recovery no matter where you live. It is absolutely paramount that all our readers in the program take certain steps to safeguard their recovery during the long weekend. Failure to do so could result in a relapse, or worse.

While the holiday is on Tuesday, you can trust that people will begin celebrating, around the country, tonight. It is rare that Americans get a four-day weekend, and it will surely be taken advantage of to the nth degree. So, with that in mind, do you have a plan for keeping your recovery intact for the next 4 days? If not, here are some friendly reminders.

 

Planning for Every Eventuality


It should go without saying that getting to at least one meeting a day is a must. Thinking that holidays justify a break from meetings is a slippery slope. Treat the next several days the same way you would every day of the year in recovery. Given that it is likely you will be exposed to some people’s drunkenness and debauchery, being totally grounded is invaluable. Going to meetings will help you remain centered and focused. Being able to keep your eye on the prize of recovery.

If any of your peers in recovery are hosting gatherings, such as a barbecue, during the holiday—make a point of attending. You may find yourself wanting to isolate over the long weekend, please do not act on this urge. Being by yourself means that you are inside your own head, which usually isn’t the safest place to be. Especially during a holiday, when the temptation to drink is often stronger than normal. Getting out of the house, and engaging with your peers in recovery is that best thing you can do. It can also be a lot of fun.

Are you new to the program? If so, stay close to where you go to meetings. Keep your phone charged and don’t hesitate to call someone else in the program, even if you are not feeling tempted. And remember, you can never go to too many meetings in early recovery. On Tuesday, there will be meetings going on around the clock. It is not uncommon for people to go to several during a holiday. We at Celebrate Hope would like to wish everyone a safe holiday. Please do not pick up a drink or drug, no matter what—it’s not worth it.

 

Breaking The Cycle of Addiction


If you are still in the active cycle of addiction, maybe this Independence Day is a good time to make the decision to seek help. Freedom from addiction is not only possible, it is necessary. We can help you start the life-saving process of recovery. Please contact us today.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Fewer Teens Using Tobacco Products

tobacco
“Gateway drug” is a term that many young people are familiar with in the United States. In elementary school and beyond, by way of programs like DARE, kids are cautioned about staying away from drugs and alcohol. With good intentions to be sure. However, marijuana is often talked about in the context of being a gateway drug that will lead to the use of other, more dangerous drugs.

In some cases that is true. Teenagers who use marijuana in high school are far more likely to try, experiment or abuse harder substances. Yet, research over the past few years has shown that alcohol and tobacco is the true gateway drug for young people. So, with that in mind, it makes sense that prevention efforts be focused more on the two legal substances, before addressing marijuana.

It is worth noting that fewer Americans, regardless of age group are smoking cigarettes than in decades past. But, a significant number of young people are still smoking either traditional tobacco products or e-cigarettes. We have written in the past about concerns over young people using e-cigs, many high schoolers now prefer them over normal nicotine delivery systems. A number people close to the field of addiction, expressed concerns about nicotine initiation via e-cigarettes. Fearing that it would start people who would never have tried regular tobacco on a slippery slope to addiction.

 

Good News On Tobacco


New research conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), however, shows that fewer teenagers are smoking e-cigarettes or using other tobacco products, The Washington Post reports. The study showed that in the past year 11.3 percent of high school students engaged in e-cigarette use, compared to 16 percent in 2015. The data can be viewed on the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR).

Regarding e-cigarettes that is good news, but the highlight of the report is with regard to traditional tobacco products. The study showed the lowest numbers on record for high school students using any type of tobacco product, according to the article. With 8 percent reporting smoking cigarettes in the past year and 20 percent using any form of nicotine product. Including:
  • Cigarettes
  • E-cigarettes
  • Cigars
  • Hookahs
  • Pipes
  • Smokeless Tobacco

 

Young Adults Smoking


People who smoke cigarettes or use nicotine products in high school are far more likely to drink alcohol or use other drugs. Which is why it is so important that the rate of tobacco use continues to decline. Teenagers who abuse substances in high school often end up abusing in young adulthood. It can be a sign that addiction has developed and it is vital that intervention occurs before the problem gets worse.

If your young adult child has been abusing drugs and/or alcohol, please contact Celebrate Hope at Hope by The Sea. Our highly-trained staff can help break the cycle of addiction and get them on the road to recovery. The sooner recovery starts, the better.

Friday, June 16, 2017

1 Million Heroin Users in America

 heroin
Grim news was printed this week, courtesy of The New York Times. And, once again opioids are at the center of the discussion. Preliminary data compiled by the newspaper indicates that drug overdose deaths in America probably exceeded 59,000 last year. Unless something drastic is done soon, this is a trend that will likely continue in the coming years.

People are dying. Opioid use disorder, or opioid addiction is the root of the problem. Yet, in 2017, nearly twenty years into the 21st Century, millions of Americans still struggle to access addiction treatment services. Even when they want help. In rural America, the closest addiction treatment center is sometimes hundreds of miles away. Given that fact that many opioid addicts are at the lower end of the socioeconomic scale, the likelihood of traveling such distances for help is slim to none.

In addition to a lack of treatment options, many addicts still have hard time getting naloxone, the opioid overdose reversal drug that has saved thousands of American lives, and will continue to do so. But, getting the drug without a prescription is still not possible in certain places. Even if one can acquire it, affording the medicine is a whole different story. Perhaps you've heard the news about ever-increasing naloxone prices. Wherever you find demand, you find greed.

 

An Epidemic That Costs Billions


Prescription opioids are still a problem, to be sure. Yet, heroin use has steadily increased in recent years. What’s more, the mixing of heroin and fentanyl has become a common occurrence. Users who don’t know their heroin was mixed with the deadly painkiller are at great risk of overdose death. There are an estimated 1 million people actively using heroin in America today, according to a University of Illinois at Chicago press release. All told, heroin use in the United States costs society $51 billion in 2015. The costs are tied to:
  • Addiction Treatment
  • Heroin-related Crime
  • Imprisonment
  • Treating Chronic Infectious Diseases
  • Treating Newborns with Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS)
  • Overdose Deaths
  • Lost Job Productivity
“The downstream effects of heroin use, such as the spread of infectious diseases and increased incarceration due to actions associated with heroin use, compounded by their associated costs, would continue to increase the societal burden of heroin use disorder,” said UIC pharmacoeconomists, Simon Pickard.

 

The Greatest Cost Is Life


Loss of productivity pales in comparison to the staggering death toll that could be reduced by increasing access to addiction treatment services. The longer one goes without treatment, the greater the chance of an overdose. If you are struggling with addiction to any form of opioids, please contact Celebrate Hope at Hope By The Sea today.

Our highly-trained staff specializes in the treatment of opioid use disorder. The opioid addiction epidemic is the most serious drug crisis the world has ever seen, and putting an end to it starts with treatment.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Recovery: You Have A Lot to Be Grateful For

recovery
Are you working a program of recovery? Or maybe you are in treatment, one that allows you access to the internet? Either way, you have a lot to be grateful for, and our hope is that you know the importance of your decision to find recovery. You know what it was like out there. Lying and manipulation is the code of the active addict and alcoholic—burning every bridge like it was built for the sole purpose of destruction. And in the end, one finds oneself in relative solitude, without anything worth smiling about. Recovery, of course, it the complete opposite.

Whether you are in treatment or have completed a program and are now working a program via the 12-Steps or Smart Recovery, you know that the place you find yourself in today is far safer than where you were before. To be sure, recovery is hard work, but one could easily make the case that maintaining an addiction is much harder. Consider the constant effort required to keep from withdrawal or the radar of the law is arduous. It is hard to sleep soundly when you are always having to cover your tracks, and keep the drinking or drugging pumps primed.

With that in mind, recovery then is a breath of fresh air, and one should never hesitate to take a moment to remember everything they have to be grateful for, today. Even when you don’t feel like you have much, you might surprise yourself.

 

Gratitude


If you are new to the program, you may be reading this and are thinking that you don’t have much for which to be thankful. But, consider the fact that you are reading this sober and have begun to develop relationships with others who share a common goal of recovery: People who will have your back and provide you support for little but honesty in return, and to whom you reach out your hand to when they are in need.

That’s what makes the program so special, perfect strangers willing to drop everything to come to the aid of a fellow alcoholic or addict. None of your using buddies could be counted on in such a way. Which is why one could be family-less, homeless, jobless and car-less, yet still have something to be grateful about. Even having the hope or belief that one day continued spiritual maintenance will result in one getting some of the aforementioned things back in their life—is something to cherish. In active addiction, hope turned its back on you years ago.

Perhaps by now you have started working with a sponsor. Maybe you are trudging through the steps as we speak? Working towards the goal of long-term recovery is something worth taking stock of on a daily basis. At Celebrate Hope at Hope by The Sea, our team’s wish is for you to never discount the importance of what you are working towards. We know the dedication it takes, and in time it will seem like everything is working against you. But if you stay the course, your list of things for which to be grateful will only grow.

 

Need Help With Addiction


If you are still in the grips of your disease, it is vital that you seek help immediately. Drug and alcohol abuse, left unchecked, has only a few logical ends. Jails, institutions or death. None of which are promising. Please contact Celebrate Hope today, to begin the journey.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Opioid Epidemic: Naloxone Pricing Revisited

naloxone
Most Americans have heard of the life-saving opioid overdose reversal drug naloxone, often sold under the brand names Narcan, Hospira, Amphastar and Evzio. The latter of which comes in auto injector form, to be used with little training by addicts and their family members in the case of an emergency. While these overdose antidotes don’t always work, especially if other drugs or more powerful opioids like fentanyl are involved; they have been proven to be extremely effective in most cases, saving thousands of lives each year.

At the end of last year, we discussed how the companies who make naloxone products have been dramatically raising their prices. Price gouging is status quo for most drug companies whose product is essentially one of a kind. However, unlike a lot of drugs that carry a high price tag, drugs like Evzio can be the difference between life and death. If a patient or a police department can’t afford to resupply, untold numbers of people may perish as a result.

Around the country, both lawmakers and health experts were up in arms about what was happening in the industry. How could a company ethically justify such egregious price hikes, with full knowledge that people may die as a result? For example, in January 2016 the makers of Evzio, Kaléo, charged $937.50 for two injectors, which by most people's standards is unreasonable. In April of the same year, Kaleo raised the price of their life saving product to $4,687.50.

 

The Reasons Offered


The explanation given by Kaléo was that the price increase was meant to offset the costs associated with a new patient-assistance program, The New York Times reports. This patient-assistance program means to lower the out-of-pocket costs for patients unable to afford Evzio. Kaléo eats the bill on all out-of-pocket costs for patients with private insurance, and for anyone making less than $100,000 per year—the drug is free.

The counter to Kaléo’s reasoning is that such programs end up increasing the costs of the drug, placing a huge burden on the American health care system, according to the article. Insurance companies being forced to pay for the majority of the bill has a rippling effect, potentially resulting in the raising of everyone’s insurance premiums.

 

No Easy Solutions


Evzio is ideal because people can use the auto-injector without much instruction. But there are other naloxone delivery systems that are much less expensive. And thosee are not being utilized as much as they should be. But, at the end of the day, both drug makers and insurance companies are corporations concerned with profit and cutting costs. The best solution, perhaps, would be for the Federal government to step in, mandate some form of fixed pricing, or reasonable cost standard. After which, buy up the bulk of the drug and provided it to states to hand out for free.

One could even argue that the opioid painkiller makers should provide the drug for free to every patient taking their medications. Such companies helped create the epidemic, they should have a hand in mitigating the risk of overdosing on their medications.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Memorial Day, PTSD Addiction Recovery

PTSD
We are more than halfway through the three-day weekend, and tomorrow is Memorial Day. This weekend marks the beginning of the summer which is most certainly cause for smiles. However, it is important that you have a plan in place for tomorrow if you are working a program of recovery.

On Memorial Day, we should all take a moment to reflect on the brave American soldiers who gave their lives to protect all that we hold dear. We would be wise to remember the sacrifices made by veterans who are still with us, but have been changed by the trauma of armed conflict. Thousands of veterans are struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder.

 

PTSD In The Military 


The Department of U.S. Veteran Affairs reports that:
  • About 11-20 out of every 100 Veterans (or between 11-20%) who served in Operations Iraqi Freedom (OIF) and Enduring Freedom (OEF) deal with PTSD in any given year.
  • About 12 out of every 100 Gulf War Veterans (or 12%) have PTSD in any given year.
  • About 15 out of every 100 Vietnam Veterans (or 15%) were currently diagnosed with PTSD at the time of the most recent study in the late 1980s. It is estimated that about 30 out of every 100 (or 30%) of Vietnam Veterans have had PTSD in their lifetime.
PTSD is a debilitating mental health disorder, one that wreak havoc on the afflicted lives. Without adequate treatment, such individuals are left to manage their symptoms on their own which often makes the problem worse. It extremely common for people battling PTSD to use drugs and/or alcohol to calm their symptoms, a counterproductive behavior that actually makes one’s symptoms more severe and often leads to a co-occurring substance use disorder. If you have loved one self-medicating their untreated post-traumatic stress, please call Celebrate Hope at Hope by The Sea today.


Staying Clean and Sober On Memorial Day 



If you are new to the program or have been in the rooms for a while, it is vital that you have a plan for getting to the other side of major holidays. Memorial Day often involves barbecues and family gatherings where drinking alcohol is pervasive. If you are planning to attend get-togethers where people are drinking, talk to your sponsor or recovery coach beforehand. It is always a good practice to attend such events with somebody from your homegroup. Even if you feel strong in your recovery, temptation can rear its ugly head. Do your best to attend a meeting tomorrow, one's addiction does not break for holidays. Nor should your recovery. We hope that everyone has a safe and sober Memorial Day.

If a relapse does occur, then please get back to the program immediately. The longer you wait, the harder it is. If you need extra assistance, please contact Celebrate Hope.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Stigma: Talking About Depression and Anxiety

depression
It is fairly well understood that the best weapon against stigma, and to promote compassion, is to talk about mental illness. No easy task, to be sure. For time immemorial, people have been made to feel that talking about their psychological symptoms of addiction, depression and anxiety would be a road to social exile. Brain diseases are not as well understood as other health conditions, for many reasons. And due to the reality, most people will fill in the blanks with stereotypes and pejorative remarks that do little good for both society and especially the afflicted.

To be fair, we have come a long way in the mission to talk about mental illness and encourage people to seek help without fear of reprisal. Yet, the fact remains that the clear majority of people living with any form of mental illness never receive any form of treatment. Without such care, the consequences are typically grave. Commonly people with mental health disorders abuse drugs and alcohol to cope with the debilitating symptoms they face. Addiction is usually the result of self-medication. Worse, left feeling like there are no more options, people suffering from depression and anxiety often try to take their own life. Many succeed.

 

Shining a Light On Mental Illness


In popular culture, several movies and televisions shows now cover the topic of mental health. And not just because mental illness is fascinating, but due to the fact by doing so—lives can be saved. It is a trend that tells people who may be afraid to seek help that they are not alone. That treatment can improve the quality of one’s life dramatically. It is worth noting that around the world some 300 million people suffer from depression, the World Health Organization (WHO) reports. Many of those people live in countries that are not as fortunate as Americans are when it comes to mental health care.

The World Health Organization has deemed depression to be the leading cause of poor health on the planet.

 

Katie & Shaun Talk About Depression and Anxiety


On May 26, 2017, a new web series will debut on YouTube which focuses on depression and anxiety. Katie & Shaun is the name of the show, which was created by husband-and-wife Matt Thomas (Writer) and Susan Allen (Director), according to Broadway World. The six-minute episodes are based on the creator's own experiences. Susan Allen says:

"We both have personal experience with mental health, and we've supported family and friends over the years, so it's a story close to our hearts. First and foremost, we hope people will find the show entertaining. And if someone feels less alone, or more like they can handle their own problems because of it, that would be amazing. By illuminating the characters' struggles with anxiety and depression - which are often confusing or debilitating, sometimes downright frustrating, and yet just one part of who they are - we hope to foster a deeper and broader understanding of mental health, and its role in the human experience." 

Please take a moment to watch the trailer below:


If you are having trouble watching, please click here.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Gray Death: Deadly Opioid Admixture

fentanyl
Fentanyl, carfentanil, U-47700, et al. If those names do not mean anything to you, it could mean one of two things. Either you have no history of opioid drug use or you are an active prescription opioid or heroin user and you are unaware of the dangers lurking just before the surface.

Given the news of late dedicated to covering this nation's most serious drug epidemic, there is a good chance that fentanyl is a drug that is now part of your pharmacological lexicon. Depending on the purity of fentanyl, the drug can be anywhere from 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine. When mixed with heroin or pressed into pills to resemble oxycodone pills, unbeknownst to drug users, the outcomes are often deadly.

Naturally, in the dark underworld of illicit drug use, there is hardly any kind of code. Dealers provide a service to people who are dependent on opioids, they are not required to disclose the ingredients of their product. And even if they did, one could easily argue that many an opioid addict would take the risk and use the admixture regardless. The fire of addiction needs to be fed, one way or another.

Fentanyl Analogs


Powerful opioid painkillers like fentanyl are certainly on the radar of the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP). Yet, they all seem to be at a loss regarding curbing the deadly fentanyl trend. And if that is not disconcerting enough, there are even deadly synthetic opioids to contend with making their job even more difficult.

Of late, sporadic stories of powerful painkillers, some of which are used to sedate large animals. And by large, we mean elephants. Carfentanil is an analog of fentanyl, 10,000 times more potent than morphine. U-47700 is another analog of fentanyl that is much stronger than morphine and has been rearing its ugly head in America.

In the state of Georgia, there have been 50 overdose cases in the past three months from a deadly mixture of heroin, fentanyl, carfentanil and U-47700, the Associated Press reports. The dangerous admixture is being called “Gray Death.” The compound looks like concrete mix, and is believed to have caused overdoses in Alabama and Ohio, as well.

"Gray death is one of the scariest combinations that I have ever seen in nearly 20 years of forensic chemistry drug analysis," said Deneen Kilcrease, manager of the chemistry section at the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.

Opioid Treatment


The nature of opioid use in America seems to be ever changing, and with it the risks. Heroin by itself is dangerous, but with these new admixtures…the best thing that people in the grips of opioid addiction can do is to seek treatment before they end up getting a bad batch.

Please contact Celebrate Hope at Hope by The Sea to begin the lifesaving journey of recovery.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Mark Zuckerberg On Addiction Stigma

addiction
Americans spend an exorbitant amount of time on Facebook. And to be fair, the Social Network is not without its appeal. It allows people to reach others who would otherwise be out of reach. Staying connected is a huge part of maintaining relationships, especially with the constant hustle and bustle of everyday life. Many of us are too young to remember a time before the social media platform first graced college campuses across the country and beyond. On the flip side, many older Americans find that they pine for the days when people were not concerned about friend requests, likes and the reach of their status updates.

But as anyone in addiction recovery will tell such people, as with all things life—we cannot turn back the clock—social media is here to stay. While it can become easy to spend too much time scanning one's timeline and it can be even easier to lose sleep about the awful things said and done to others online, FB has the power to affect much change for the better—especially regarding breaking down the stigma of mental illness and using complex algorithms to flag users who may need help.

It is widely accepted that one of the most effective measures against seemingly perpetual stigma, about mental health disorders like addiction, is talking about the condition openly. Sharing the science behind the disease and the fact that it is a treatable condition, humanizes the condition. And it could be argued that at no other time in our history is compassion more important; one need only consider the American opioid epidemic and the recent Surgeon General’s report on addiction (the first of its kind), which showed that only 1 in 10 people receive any kind of specialty treatment for the disorder.

 

Reaching Out About Addiction


A number of icons and celebrities have used their status for good with regard to addiction over the years. One of the most renowned addiction treatment centers in the country is named for a former First Lady. That being said: In the digital age, reach is everything. And one cannot deny that the founder and CEO at Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, qualifies as having a global reach with 89,643,710 Facebook followers.

Which is why it is comforting to learn that Zuckerberg has begun to wrap his head around the seriousness of addiction in America. Last weekend, the social media mogul met with recovering addicts and the families who lost a loved one to an overdose in Dayton, Ohio, The Huffington Post reports. What’s more, it appears that he was affected and understands that need for changing the conversation about addiction and would like to be a part of the solution. He shared some of his observations and what he learned from his experience in what could only be called a remarkable post. I hope you will take a moment to read it below:

I just sat down with people recovering from opioid addiction and people helping them get treatment in Dayton, Ohio.

The opioid epidemic is one of the worst public health crises we've faced. More people die from it today than died from AIDS at its peak, or that die from car accidents and gun violence. The rate is still growing quickly.

The pull from opioids is incredibly powerful. A man I met said that when he saw someone overdose, his first thought was who that person's dealer was so he could get better stuff. Another woman who was forced to give up her kids said it wasn't because she didn't love them. She just needed the feeling from getting high more.

Everyone in Dayton is affected by this. One woman told me her daughter, who is a recovering heroin addict, got promoted to hostess at the restaurant where she works because the last hostess overdosed in the bathroom. Another woman whose husband is a police officer said her family hears overdose calls coming over the radio every night. The Dayton police department once responded to 29 overdose calls in a single day. She's worried it's all going to seem normal to her young daughter.

Treating an epidemic like this is complicated and the people I met say it's years from even peaking. But they also came back to the importance of connection and relationships.

A big part of recovery is surrounding yourself with people who are a positive influence and will help you avoid situations where you might relapse. You can't get dragged back down. One woman told me she'll talk someone down who is about to use, but she won't go out to a drug house to find them. She has to look out for herself first.

Purpose is also really important. One man who has been in recovery for seven years told me, "Most addicts have destroyed personal relationships, stolen from their family members, sold their cars for drugs, and they have to rebuild all of that. We have to help them develop a sense that they have a goal in life, and we have to do it one addict at a time."

The people I met also talked about how important it is to reduce the stigma that comes from being a recovering addict. One woman who has been clean for a year told me, "If we're in active addiction it doesn't mean we're not human. Even if we're not living our potential at this moment we have a chance to do something with this life." Another told me, "It's important that addicts don't end up as 'those people.' It's not 'those people,' it's your neighbor, and you need to be there to support them."

This touches everyone. People I work closely with have had family members and high school friends die of overdoses. Ohio and communities all across the country have a long road ahead, but as someone told me at the end, "I'm hopeful because we're talking about it." Me too.

 

A Compassionate Stance On Addiction


Stigma remains to be one of the biggest obstacles in the way of people seeking and getting the help they require. There are millions of Americans actively abusing one substance or another, and all  those people are somebody's child. Not just beings who lack moral fiber. The sooner we treat addiction as we would any other chronic illness, the more likely individuals will be able to seek help for it. Treatment works. Recovery works. Stigma is but a black mark that needs be erased. We can all have a hand at making the findings of the next Surgeon General’s report on addiction more promising.

If you or a loved one has been touched by this insidious mental illness, and is actively in the grips of abuse, please contact Celebrate Hope at Hope by The Sea. We can help.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Safe Disposal of Prescription Drugs

prescription opioids
We can all have an active role in preventing prescription drug abuse, addiction and overdose. It can be easy to feel helpless in the face of any problem of epidemic proportions, given the fact that about 100 people die from an overdose every day in the United States and millions more are caught in the insidious cycle of opioid addiction. Americans make up but a small fraction of the world’s population, but we prescribe and use up to the clear majority of all prescription opioids.

Many people with an opioid use disorder (OUD) were introduced to opioids by way of a doctor prescribing drugs like oxycodone for pain. However, a significant number of people abusing such drugs today were introduced to them by a friend or family member diverting their medication. Many Americans, even those who are aware of the facts, still do not see much harm in providing unused or unwanted pills to their peers. To take it a step further, despite the apparent risk of overdose, most adults with children do not lock up their medicine cabinet.

With such great risks at stake it is almost hard to wrap one’s head around the laissez-faire attitudes about the risk of overdose that prevails in the U.S. A lack of perceived danger has led to many a loved one being able to purloin opioids from medicine drawers. A practice that has resulted in teenagers and young adults acquiring opioid, benzodiazepines and amphetamines without a prescription.

 

Doing Your Part to Prevent Overdose


Both Federal and state governments can only do so much to affect change on a societal problem. Rules and regulations, while immensely effective, cannot address every aspect of this most pernicious crisis devastating families from Alaska to Florida, from Maine to Hawaii. To affect change on a massive scale requires that we, as a society make a conscious, concerted effort to be more responsible regarding drugs that are seemingly going to be around as long as people experience pain.

As has been proven, prohibiting the use of certain drugs has little impact on addiction. However, responsible use and disposal of such drugs can go a long way in preventing people from starting down the road of addiction—a path that often ends in overdose. Which is why it is vital that every American with unwanted or unused prescription drugs take advantage of the National Prescription Drug Take Back Day happening tomorrow, April 29, 2017. Between 10AM to 2PM, you can take unwanted prescription drugs to safe disposal sites in all 50 states.

Last April, nearly 450 tons of unwanted medication were collected across the U.S, according to the DEA. Typical locations for safe disposal are hospital and pharmacies, fire departments and police stations. For more information on finding a medication drop location, please click here.

“These results show that more Americans than ever are taking the important step of cleaning out their medicine cabinets and making homes safe from potential prescription drug abuse or theft,” said DEA Acting Administrator Chuck Rosenberg.

California collected 32 tons of unused medication last year. While that is a mind-boggling number of drugs, there was likely even more drugs that could have been disposed, but were not. Perhaps this April, we can do even better.

 

Need Help With Prescription Drug Abuse


If you are currently battling an opioid use disorder, or prescription drug abuse of any kind, please contact Celebrate Hope at Hope by The Sea. We understand how difficult it is to withdraw from opioid dependence, but we have helped many accomplish what may seem like an insurmountable task to you right now. Let us help you break the cycle of drug abuse and teach you how it's possible to live a life in recovery.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Recovery Over The Weekend

community
Idle time is the devil's workshop, such words could not be closer to the truth, especially for young men and women in early recovery. There is a reason why people new to the program sometimes hit more than one meeting a day, and if you are not currently employed there is a good chance you have ample time to go to multiple meetings in one day. For those who are employed, whether it be career that you have been in for years or working what is known as a “get-well” job in early recovery, the weekend can be a dangerous time because of having an abundance of free time.

A get-well job may be a way to make some money while relearning how to take on responsibility. Such jobs can teach you how to schedule your time in healthy ways, but they do not instruct you on how to “be” outside of work. That’s where the program comes in. If you are anything like a good percentage of recovering alcoholics and addicts working a program, then you may find yourself inclined to isolate when you have down time. But, it is that very idle time that can be, and has been, involved in many a relapse.

 

Engaging With Others


Typically, the weekends are a time for relaxation after five (5) straight days of work. If you are working a program of recovery, the weekends might be a good time to take advantage of your end of the week freedom by doubling your efforts with your program. This could look like several different things. Naturally, hitting more meetings is always a positive move towards spiritual growth. It allows you to get out of your head, which is often a dangerous place to reside in early recovery.

Going to meetings, even when you do not want to, is a valuable exercise for life. It’s easy to just "veg" on the couch with Netflix and a snack, but such activity does not necessarily strengthen your program. What’s more, members of recovery programs are part of a greater community. You rely on one another. When one member is having a hard time, you might be a source of strength to help carry them through the day without resorting to drugs or alcohol. And vice versa.

If you have been in the program for a bit, then you probably know that meetings are often a jumping-off point for other sober activities to involve yourself in with the company of like-minded peers. Movies, dinner et al. There is a lot of fun stuff you can do with people in the program that can help your recovery, even when it does seem like it would. Even when you do not feel like being social. If you have not been all that active with your support group, this weekend is a perfect time to recommit yourself to the community. We use alone. We stay sober together.

 

Volunteering


You may be strong in your recovery as of late. Attending your regular meetings, communicating with your sponsor or sponsee and fulfilling all your commitments. If so, there are a number of other ways you can give back to the community-at-large. Volunteering at your house of worship or a local community center are great ways to get outside yourself over the weekend. Find a local soup kitchen and inquire about helping. They may not need your help, but selfless acts like that can help you greatly.

Clients at Celebrate Hope are taught the value of community throughout the course of their treatment. Thus, better equipping them to engage and be of service with the greater recovery community upon discharge. If you or a loved one is ready to take the life-changing journey of addiction recovery, please contact us today.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Substance Abuse and Suicide Among Veterans

suicide
It's a good sign. Major media outlets like premium cable (e.g. HBO or Showtime) and Netflix have been dedicating their resources and addressing suicide. Just recently, Netflix released a series called 13 Reasons Why, about a teenage girl whose temporary problems made her life no longer worth living. The web streaming service also released an original movie, The Discovery, which focused on where we go after we die, a realization that leads to a spate of suicides across the world.

While such content are works of fiction, the messages ring true. More importantly, they encourage us all to question the case of suicide. The reasons behind it, the various ways that it might be prevented. It is important that people, who may be susceptible to suicidal ideations, are made aware that suicide in most cases is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. As much as it may feel like you can't go on, feelings are not facts—there is always a solution to be had.

One demographic that is no stranger to suicide, or thinking about it, is people who have or are struggling with alcohol or substance use disorder. Especially among those whose substance abuse is a direct result of attempting to self-medicate another form of mental illness, such as depression or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

 

Suicide In The Military


One does not have to experience trauma in order to develop a substance use disorder, but such people are at a greater risk. Whether or not someone is struggling with addiction or a co-occurring disorder (substance abuse combined with another mental health disorder), people in the military take their own lives at a far greater rate than the general public.

It turns out that out of more than 4 million veterans, drug and alcohol abuse affects 8 percent of males and 3 percent of females, HealthDay reports. Such individuals were two-times at risk of suicide, compared to veterans without an alcohol or substance use—20 veterans die by suicide every day in the United States. The findings were published in the journal Addiction.

"We hope these findings will help clinicians and health systems care for people with substance use disorders, with mental health conditions, and with both -- and focus suicide prevention efforts accordingly," said lead study author Kipling Bohnert, an assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of Michigan Medical School, and also a researcher with the VA Center for Clinical Management Research. 

Female veterans with substance use problems were found to commit suicide at more than five times the rate of female veterans who did not abuse drugs or alcohol, according to the article. The researchers found that females who abused opioids and males who abused amphetamines were at the greatest risk of suicide.

 

Suicide Prevention by Way of Treatment


Active substance abuse takes people to the darkest of places. With each day that passes one sees more and more doors closing. If you add other forms of mental health disorders into the equation, the picture becomes even more dismal. Despair can lead to a rash decision that can’t be reversed.

The first step to addressing why you feel the way you do, is to identify what you are doing that might be a contributing factor. If daily drug and alcohol use is occurring, it is definitely contributing to your feelings of despair. It is quite common for people abusing drugs and alcohol to also have a co-occurring mental health disorder, as we mentioned previously otherwise known as a “dual diagnosis.” While depression, anxiety, PTSD and bipolar disorder certainly complicate the treatment of addiction, recovery is still possible.

Please contact Celebrate Hope at Hope by The Sea. We specialize in treating co-occurring mental health disorders. We can help you break the cycle of addiction and begin the process of treating your dual diagnosis, so that you can lead a life in recovery free from drugs and alcohol.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Heroin: Educating Young People

heroin
The most recent Monitoring the Future (MTF) survey had promising results regarding young people using drugs and alcohol. When it comes to opioid narcotics, such as prescription painkillers and heroin, teenagers are using them at fairly low rates. In fact, heroin use (intravenous) rates among high school seniors was remarkably low at 0.3 percent in 2016, even though we are in the midst of an epidemic. Teenage use of prescription opioids seemed to be declining as well. All good news!

Considering the MTF findings, it is vital that young people continue to be given the message about the dangers of opioid narcotics; because the trends seen among high school age students are not mirrored in young adults. New research from Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health found that Americans using heroin has jumped by an exponential of five over the last ten years, according to a press release from the university. What’s more, the most drastic increases in heroin use and abuse was among:
  • Young Adults
  • Males
  • Whites
"In 2001 to 2002, whites and non-whites reported similar prevalence of heroin use. However, in 2012-2013, increases in heroin and related disorders were particularly prominent among whites, leading to a significant race gap in lifetime heroin use by 2013," said Silvia Martins, MD, PhD, associate professor of Epidemiology at the Mailman School of Public Health.

The findings, published in JAMA Psychiatry indicated that people with low incomes and no more than a high school education were at a heightened risk. So, it is vital that young people are educated in high school about the insidious nature of opioid addiction. Across the country, many public high schools have begun to place a greater focus on opioids.

"Our results underscore the need to expand educational programs on the harms related to heroin use and access to treatment in populations at increased risk," said Dr. Martins. "Promising examples of prevention and intervention efforts include expansion of access to medication-assisted treatment -- methadone, buprenorphine or injectable naltrexone -- as well as educational campaigns in schools and community settings, and consistent use of prescription drug monitoring programs." 

In the states hardest hit by the opioid addiction epidemic, lawmakers are thinking about mandatory opioid abuse education in public schools, The Washington Post reports. Michigan, ­Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and South Carolina are all considering legislation that would include some form of opioid education in public schools throughout their states. Such programs could deter use both in high school, and later into young adulthood.

If you are one of the many young adults in this country struggling with opioid use disorder, then you are likely aware of the deadly nature of such drugs. Overdose is rarely a question of “if,” but rather a question of “when.” Please contact Celebrate Hope at Hope by The Sea to begin the lifesaving journey of addiction recovery.

Side Note: Today is World Health Day. We would like to encourage all of our readers to take a part in ending the stigma of mental illness, in order to help people seek help and recover. Stigma hurts us all, putting an end to it could help countless individuals around the world. You can find more information here.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Addiction Recovery: Experience, Strength and Hope

addiction recovery
The 12-Steps model is one of the more common roads for one to take in the journey to recover from a substance use disorder. For more than 80 years, individuals caught in the maelstrom of addiction have turned to the rooms of 12-Step recovery, such as Alcoholics Anonymous. What started as two people sharing their story with one another, overtime morphed into a program where millions of people with the disease of addiction work together to live a spiritual life free from drugs and alcohol.

We all have different stories. All of us came to the rooms of recovery by a different road. But, at the end of the day, our stories are remarkably similar. With an open mind, one can easily see that no one living with the disease of addiction (active or not) is all that unique. As much as we all imagine that we are unique, that is our addiction or our path to it was somehow special, as one’s disease would lead one to believe, at the end the day the driving forces that led to and perpetuated the vicious cycle are quite the same.

A “normal” person may try a drug on more than one occasion, and think nothing of it. Whereas, others being exposed to a substance will have a far different experience and develop an insidious relationship with drugs and alcohol due to genetic, psychological and environmental factors. If the aforementioned explanation seems ambiguous or nebulous, that is because it is; while addiction experts and researchers have a basic understanding of what precipitates an addiction there is still much that is not well understood.

 

It Doesn’t Matter How You Got Here


People who are new to recovery, will often feel an urge to at least try explaining how this happened. Where they zigged when they should have zagged. But, when all is said and done, such explanations and experiences are only of value when it comes to not repeating past behaviors. Simply put, the road that brings one to the abyss of active addiction, is not the same road you will take to recover from the disease.

We can’t walk back down the road of our past, identify where we made a wrong turn and correct course accordingly. Rather, one must forge a new path. A journey that requires not only adopting, but showing deference to the principles and traditions that have saved the lives of those who have come before you. In the “rooms,” you will be asked to share your experience, strength and hope by relaying what it was like (active addiction), what happened (how you came to the realization that one’s course was no longer tenable) and what it is like now (the transformation which resulted from living life one day at a time and practicing the principles of recovery in all your affairs)?

It may seem like an onerous task, and it is most certainly. But, through honesty, humility and continually reminding yourself that without taking these steps the outcomes are bleak. In the rooms of recovery, you are taught how to learn from your past, by living for today, so that you may have a future.

 

Giving It Away Is The Gift


It is interesting to note the transformation people undergo, as is evident by what is shared. In early recovery, one is in total disarray. In a fog of one’s own shame and regret, incessant and pervasive thoughts about how your best thinking got you here. Newcomers are still so close to their disease that to talk about anything but what it was like out there is an impossibility. But those who are willing to do the work, follow direction and are honest (even when it hurts) have a fighting chance at not only achieving long term recovery, they will be in a position to share the strength and hope—potentially aiding others in their mission to live a spiritual existence.

Many, if not the majority, of people who enter a program of recovery are hopeful that manageability will be returned. They look around at those who have significant recovery time, they hear about how those peoples’ lives have been put back together from a multitude of infinitesimal pieces. Some of whom getting their families back, holding good job, driving their own vehicle (registered and with valid insurance), etc. It can be easy to see all those things as being the gift, or gifts of recovery. However, those are merely the byproduct of the true Gift of recovery. The miracle of living a spiritual life free from the bondage of self, helping others recover as they help you recover, simply by sharing one’s experience, strength and hope. Having an active role in another's recovery is the Gift, you get to keep your recovery because you freely give it away.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Smartphones May Impact Teen Substance Use

substance use
Everyday millions of Americans of practically every demographic spend an inordinate amount of time on their smartphones. Between checking for the latest news and playing games, there are countless ways to waste time on the pocket-sized devices. In recent years, many experts have raised concerns about our reliance on smartphones. It cannot be denied that they are sometimes used to distract us from the really important life issues, whether that be responsibilities or our mental state. For some people, smartphone use turns into dependence and even addiction. With that in mind, we would be seriously remiss if we failed to mention that smartphones may actually be doing some good when it comes to drug and alcohol use.

With the United States in the continued grip of an opioid addiction epidemic, it is hard to pinpoint areas of progress when it comes to substance use and abuse, until you take a look at teenagers. Research has shown that teens are trying and using drugs and alcohol less and less over the last decade. “Monitoring the Future,” is an annual survey which essentially takes a snapshot of teenage (eighth, 10th and 12th graders) drug and alcohol use. The most recent findings indicate that past-year use of illicit drugs (excluding marijuana) was the lowest in several decades.

While education and prevention can account for some of that progress, it would seem there are other factors at play that could be responsible for the decline. Researchers have theorized that smartphones could be one of the major causes for a drop in teen substance use rates, The New York Times reports. They point out that the downswing of drug and alcohol use coincides nicely with the significant increase in smartphone use.

The director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), Dr. Nora Volkow, has plans in the works to research the correlation between smartphones and substance use reductions, according to the article. Interactive media is, the director of NIDA describes, “an alternative reinforcer” to
mind-altering substances, “teens can get literally high when playing these games.” Dr. Volkow will share the findings with a group of scholars this spring.

Dr. Volkow’s theory is “highly plausible,” said Dr. Silvia Martins, an expert on substance abuse at Columbia University. “Playing video games, using social media, that fulfills the necessity of sensation seeking, their need to seek novel activity.”

We will continue to follow this interesting story in the coming months. Whatever the findings are, they will surely be of interest to those working in the field of addiction, or for those recovering from it. Parents will likely have a vested interest in Dr. Volkow's findings, as well.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Alcohol Legal Limit Debate

DUI
It was a long, hard fight to convince every state to come along with the National Minimum Drinking Age Act of 1984, which required states to pass individual legislation raising the drinking age to 21. Fourteen years later, under the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century of 1998, a Federal incentive grant was created encouraging states to set a driver blood alcohol content (BAC) limit at .08. Congress adopted .08 BAC as the national illegal limit in 2000.

Driving under the influence is a major concern in every state. Thousands of Americans lose their life every year from alcohol-related traffic accidents. Millions of dollars are spent annually to educate young people about the dangers of drunk driving, yet such efforts often fall on deaf ears. In many cases, people who get one DUI end up getting several more before the lesson is learned by serving serious jail time.

It appears with each year that passes, states attach stiffer penalties to those caught driving under the influence. How much alcohol it takes to reach .08 BAC depends on one’s metabolism, body weight and type of alcohol. But, it is generally agreed that 2 to 3 alcoholic beverages will put someone around or above the illegal limit to drive. Although, one should always keep it in the back of their mind that any amount of alcohol can impair one’s ability to drive.

Over the years, debates have been held about whether the .08 illegal per se law (meaning that the act is inherently illegal) was too strict. Or, not strict enough. It is easy to argue that a lower BAC limit would deter more people from taking the risk of driving with any amount of alcohol in their system.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has been urging states to lower the legal limit for some time now. And, it appears that the State of Utah heard the call, poised to become the first state to implement a .05 BAC illegal per se level, according to the Associated Press. On Wednesday, state lawmakers voted in favor of lowering the legal limit, and Governor Gary Herbert is expected to sign the bill which would go into effect on December 30, 2018. Just in time for the New Year’s Eve celebrations.

The supporters of the reduced BAC limit believe it will save lives. On the other hand, some of the opponents of the bill say that it will only serve to hurt tourism and the hospitality industry, the article reports. States have been reluctant to do so because of pressure from the hospitality industry.

It will be interesting to see if other states decide to hop on this potentially life-saving bandwagon. It might be possible that dropping the legal limit will mean that people with alcohol use problems will determine that they have an unhealthy relationship with alcohol sooner. DUI sentencing typically requires one to attend 12-step meetings and diversion programs. In many cases, people that didn't think they had a problem, realize they do.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Heavy Alcohol Use and Cardiovascular Risk

heavy alcohol use
The list of health problems that can occur, setting addiction aside for a moment, from heavy alcohol use is extremely long. Some of the most severe conditions include liver disease, pancreatitis and multiple forms of cancer. How alcohol use and abuse affects people, depends on several factors such as the amount of alcohol consumed, how it is consumed and any genetic predispositions one may have. Regardless of which condition a heavy drinker is afflicted with, most of them are typified by severe pain and eventual death.

The importance of educating young people about the potential dangers of heavy alcohol use, and unsafe drinking practices such as “binge drinking,” can’t be over stressed. The relationship that individuals develop with alcohol usually begins in adolescence and young adulthood. A time when one not only has the misconception of invincibility, their bodies have the ability to bounce back quickly from a bender—an ability that dissipates over the years. Young people often do not realize that drinking to the point of brown/blackout, can cause serious physical damage over time.

There is a good chance that you have heard of studies which indicate that moderate alcohol use (1 drink per day for women and up to 2 drinks per day for men) can be beneficial to the heart. A finding that has been, and will continue to be, debated heavily in the coming years. However, there is often a blurred line in people's mind as to the difference between moderate and heavy drinking (more than 3 drinks per day for females and 4 drinks per day for males). Which is important for people to realize how damaging two (2) extra drinks per night can be in the long run.

A new study, led by Darragh O'Neill, Ph.D., an epidemiological researcher at University College London in the United Kingdom, indicates that heavy alcohol use can lead to stiffening of the arteries, MNT reports. The longitudinal study sought to establish a link between alcohol consumption (over 25 years) and changes in arterial stiffness. The findings were published in the Journal of the American Heart Association. The researchers who conducted the study write:

“This work demonstrates that consistently heavy alcohol consumption is associated with higher cardiovascular risk, especially among males, and also provides new insights into the potential impact of changes in drinking levels over time. It discusses the additional insights possible when capturing longitudinal consumption patterns in lieu of reliance on recent intake alone.” 

So why is this important research? Well, for starters, cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the number 1 cause of death globally, more people die annually from CVDs than from any other cause, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Arterial stiffness increases the risk cardiovascular events, such as heart attacks and strokes.

Heavy alcohol use is dangerous in a number of ways, including the development of an alcohol use disorder (AUD). While the condition is treatable and long-term recovery is possible, finding recovery sooner rather than later, could be the difference between the development of irreversible health conditions that cause premature death. If you, or a loved one struggles with alcohol, please contact Celebrate Hope at Hope by The Sea.
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