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Friday, June 22, 2018

Polysubstance Epidemic in Rural America

methamphetamine
Recently, NPR pulled up the shades on the opioid epidemic in rural America; specifically Vinton County, Ohio. While the opioid epidemic is not unique to rural America, something is changing in places like McArthur, Ohio (pop. about 2,000) the county seat of Vinton. Even though many opioid addicts can access addiction treatment services to address opioid use disorders, in many cases relying on controversial medication-assisted treatment (MAT) drugs like Vivitrol (naltrexone)—which blocks the euphoria and sedation that central nervous system depressants cause, specifically alcohol and opioids—the medication has no effect on other dangerous substances.

Certain medications like Suboxone (buprenorphine/naloxone) and Vivitrol can help people break the cycle of addiction. However, without cognitive behavioral therapy(CBT) and some sort of program of recovery, the prospects of continued progress is unlikely. Removing drugs like OxyContin and heroin from the picture is excellent, but something needs to fill the void that people formerly attempted to fill with drugs and alcohol.

Back in Vinton County, many opioid addicts are receiving some form of treatment at one of the three rehab centers in the one-traffic-light-town of McArthur. Amanda Lee, a counselor at one the treatment centers tells NPR that in the last 4 to 5 months the threat to the residents of the small village which she compares to a drug-laden version of Mayberry, is methamphetamine.


Methamphetamine Complicates the Opioid Epidemic



Amanda Lee points out that patients began abusing the Suboxone that they were receiving for opioid use disorder; this resulted in a more significant push to provide opiate addicts monthly Vivitrol injection which is not susceptible to abuse like buprenorphine drugs. While Vivitrol efficacy shows promise, especially in the right setting with concurrent therapy, it is not a panacea; the drug, as Lee correctly points out, does not work on the receptors in the brain that meth targets. People still have cravings to get high, Lee says, and Vivitrol doesn’t block the effects of methamphetamine.

Andy Chambers, an addiction psychiatrist and researcher at the Indiana University School of Medicine in Indianapolis, tells NPR that Vivitrol is not responsible for the surge in meth use; he believes that people’s meth addiction isn’t addressed when they receive opioid use disorder treatment. We could argue that in places like Vinton County and other parts of rural America contending with opioids and meth—when it comes to treating addiction they are failing to see the forest for the trees.

"The reality is meth has been with us for many years," Chambers says. He says that there is an advantage to no longer saying we have an "opioid crisis" or a "meth crisis," when in fact the crisis is "polysubstance epidemic." Chambers adds that in rural America there are severe mental health provider shortages. 

"I'm concerned about the ongoing shortages," Chambers said. "If you want decent mental healthcare in the U.S. you better live in the big cities."


Opioid Use Disorder Treatment



If you are struggling with opioid use disorder or methamphetamine addiction, please contact Celebrate Hope at Hope by the Sea. We can show what is needed for achieving lasting recovery and give you the tools for everlasting progress.

Friday, June 15, 2018

25 Bills Tackle Opioid Epidemic

opioids
More than 42,000 people died from opioids in 2016, according to the latest-available data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Total drug overdose deaths in the same year puts that above number to over 60, 000 people. An epidemic in every sense of the word is really the only way to describe the climate of opioid use in America.

A good number of people believe that there is not much that can be done to curb the deadly crisis we face. The right to have one’s pain managed effectively is one that practically every patient, and doctor alike, takes seriously. While it is true that until something better comes along that carries less of a risk of addiction and overdose, prescription opioids are here to stay; yet, there is much that can be done to prevent people from going down the path of addiction, making it easier for reversing the symptoms of an overdose, and ensuring that every American can access addiction treatment services.

The death toll has not gone unnoticed by lawmakers in the House, Senate, and ostensibly the White House. In recent years, bipartisan support has led to several bills aiming to affect changes that can save lives. Unfortunately, the problem we face is severely complex; even if prescription opioids magically disappeared or are made extremely difficult to acquire, people will still find a way to get their hands on this most deadly class of narcotics. Still, it is vital that we do not lose hope and work together as a society to prevent and treat opioid addiction.


Changes On The Horizon


All week-long lawmakers in the U.S. House of Representatives have been passing legislation meant to tackle the epidemic, according to the Energy and Commerce Committee. In fact, so far legislators approved 25 such bills that could bring about significant changes:
  • H.R. 449, the Synthetic Drug Awareness Act of 2018, requires the U.S. Surgeon General to submit a comprehensive report to Congress on the public health effects of the rise of synthetic drug use among youth aged 12 to 18 in order to better educate parents and medical community on the health effects of synthetics.
  • H.R. 5009, “Jessie's Law,” requires the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to develop and disseminate best practices regarding the prominent display of substance use disorder (SUD) history in patient records of patients who have previously provided this information to a health care provider.
  • H.R. 4684, the Ensuring Access to Quality Sober Living Act of 2018, authorizes the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to develop, publish, and disseminate best practices for operating recovery housing that promotes a safe environment for sustained recovery from substance use disorder (SUD).
  • H.R. 4284, the Indexing Narcotics, Fentanyl, and Opioids (INFO) Act of 2017, directs HHS to create a public and easily accessible electronic dashboard linking to all of the nationwide efforts and strategies to combat the opioid crisis.
“Individually, these bills target some key aspects of the opioid crisis – such as how we boost our prevention efforts, and how we better protect our communities. Taken together, these bills are real solutions that will change how we respond to this crisis, and make our states and local communities better equipped in the nationwide efforts to stem this tide,” said Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Greg Walden (R-OR) and Health Subcommittee Chairman Michael C. Burgess, M.D. (R-TX).

For a synopsis of all 25 Bills, please click here.


Opioid Use Disorder Treatment


If you are struggling with opioid use disorder, please contact Celebrate Hope at Hope by the Sea. We can show you what you need for achieving lasting recovery and give you the tools for everlasting progress.

Friday, June 8, 2018

Having Fun Finding Yourself in Recovery

recovery
The stakes of addiction recovery are incredibly high; a wrong turn or wrong decisions can lead one down a path toward relapse. If you are working a program, then you know that there are not any guarantees; in order to achieve lasting recovery, you need to be ever vigilant in the pursuit of progress, not perfection. You pray, go to meetings, take care of your obligations, eat right and get plenty of rest; which are all useful practices for sustaining a program of recovery. Those who make it in the program are people who waive what they want, in service of what they need. Making progress often rests on making sacrifices, it usually depends on doing the opposite of what you feel like doing from one day to the next.

Structuring your life around a recovery routine is instrumental; at a certain point your daily movements become muscle memory, you don’t even have to think about your next right move. When you follow a set of directions long enough, the choreography of recovery becomes part of your DNA, seemingly. However, progress in your life is also dependent on balance; recovery is about far more than going to meetings, doing step work, etc. One must make a point of being a part of the world, getting out there, seeing new things and meeting new people.

Working a program asks that you don’t do anything that can jeopardize your program, but that doesn't mean you should always stay in your comfort zone. People with years of active addiction are often unfamiliar with themselves when newly sober. Many don’t know what their passions are because drugs and alcohol didn’t permit such fancies. Much of recovery is self-discovery; getting to know the person that is You. Early on in the program it is natural to be guarded, to follow every instruction to a T—which is a good thing; and yet, you may find at times that you are taking yourself too seriously; in your quest to stay on track you find yourself hesitant to do anything that involves letting loose.

 

Having Fun Finding Yourself in Recovery


One of the most significant gifts the program affords is meeting new people from many walks of life. Each of us has a unique story and experiences that we should share with each other. Some of your peers may engage in activities that are foreign to you, if they ask you to go for a bike ride or a paddle board ride consider saying yes before the alternative. Maybe you befriend an artist who invites you to an exhibit or a poetry reading, what do you have to lose by going? After all, only a brief part of your life is in the rooms of recovery; there is a lot to be learned outside.

“Besides, nowadays, almost all capable people are terribly afraid of being ridiculous, and are miserable because of it.” —Fyodor Dostoyevsky 

Now that summer is upon us you can engage in activities that the winter prohibits, depending on where you live of course. Anything you can do to stay out of your head will pay off immensely in the long run. Engaging with your peers may do more to keep you clean and sober than you think. If you are doing the Work and going to meetings, then you are well within your right to get out into the world and have some fun. Explore parts unknown to you, immerse yourself in activities that force you to open your mind; doing so can result in some unexpected transformations and strengthen your resolve for long-term recovery.

Southern California Addiction Treatment


If you are struggling with alcohol or substance use disorder, please contact Celebrate Hope at Hope by the Sea. We can show what you need for achieving lasting recovery and give you the tools for everlasting progress.

Saturday, June 2, 2018

Enough Fentanyl to Kill 26 Million People

fentanyl
Opioid use disorder is a treatable mental illness; those who undergo treatment and commit themselves to working a program of recovery can lead productive lives. While useful forms of treatment are available, many find it difficult to seek help due to the intense cravings typical of opioid addiction. Everything that public health officials can do, must be done, to encourage as many people as possible to seek addiction treatment—the risk of overdose death is notoriously high.

Many of you are probably aware that the likelihood of fentanyl exposure among heroin addicts is exceedingly high. With each year that passes, more and more people succumb to fentanyl exposure, an analgesic that is 100 times more potent than morphine and 50-80 times stronger than average batches of heroin. When people cut heroin with fentanyl, the result is a deadly cocktail. In fact, research shows that fentanyl-related deaths more than tripled between 2010 and 2016.

One of the reasons fentanyl is more prevalent than ever is because cartels in Mexico can synthesize the drug with ease. Drug cartels acquire the necessary precursors from Asia and then chemists south of the border manufacture the hazardous substance. Once in powder form, the drugs is either stamped into pills disguised as highly coveted OxyContin or cut into batches of heroin to boost potency. In either case, opioid users on this side of the border have no way of knowing that the drug they are about to ingest, smoke, snort, or inject contains the presence of fentanyl.

Fentanyl is Everywhere


So just how likely is it that people will come in contact with fentanyl? Highly likely! The drug made the headline once again after a Nebraska State Trooper pulled over a truck hauling 118 pounds of the deadly substance, CNN reports. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) states that 2 milligrams of fentanyl is a lethal dose; a little math shows that there was enough fentanyl confiscated to kill roughly 26 million people.

"This year is going to be a banner year, a record year in a bad way, in overdose deaths in the United States," said Matthew Barden, an associate special agent with the ‎DEA.

Naloxone is a drug that can reverse the deadly symptoms of an overdose; unfortunately, fentanyl is so potent that it often doesn’t work and people die. When a fentanyl overdose is reversed, first responders often have to give victims multiple doses of the drug. Pharmacies sell naloxone under the name Narcan. Fentanyl is only going to be more prevalent in the coming years. Anyone caught in the destructive cycle of opioid use disorder should seek help immediately and begin working a program of addiction recovery.

 

Southern California Opioid Use Disorder Treatment


Celebrate Hope at Hope By The Sea can assist anyone struggling with an opioid use disorder. We can help you end the cycle of addiction, please contact us today.
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