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Saturday, October 29, 2011

Addiction Medicine Graduate Programs

Addiction medicine is a complex field, requiring doctors to understand the ends and outs of the disease. The majority of doctors have very little, if any, training in the field which is why colleges have begun offering graduate programs that will teach new doctors how to treat the disease as well as the many different variables associated with one patient to the next.

The National Institute of Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse (NIAAA) has given the University of Buffalo a $900,000 grant for the development of a graduate medical education programs in addiction medicine.

“There is a shortage of academically oriented addiction medicine physicians qualified to conduct clinical research on addictions, to translate this research into practice, and to teach medical students and a wide range of residents about addiction in academic medical centers,” said Dr. Richard Blondell, Director of Addictions Research at the university, in an NIAAA news release. “This grant will allow established leaders in addiction medicine to help bridge the gap between research and medical education on one hand and clinical practice on the other, and train a new cohort of leaders who will continue to advance the field.”

This will fund a council of leaders in the field of addiction who will have the ability to form programs that can be used across the country, the Associated Press reports.

“The purpose is to educate primary care doctors as well as emergency medicine physicians and, frankly, physicians in all the specialties on how to treat their patients who are already addicted, while also preventing non-addicted patients from developing addictions. Part of that education involves connecting the dots. If a person with an addiction is going into the hospital for orthopedic surgery, the surgeon needs to know about the addiction. Right now, there is no established infrastructure for disseminating that information.”

The grant was formulated to cover the whole spectrum of addictions, from alcohol to prescription drugs, according to Blondell in a University of Buffalo news release.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Babies Dependent on Opiates in Maine

It is well known that whatever a pregnant woman consumes, the baby also “consumes”. This is why people typically refrain from drinking and smoking while pregnant. However, as more and more people are being prescribed prescription opiates, more and more babies are being born with the drug in their system causing withdrawal symptoms that can be fatal in some cases. The state of Maine has seen a huge surge in the number of babies being born dependent upon opiates of one form or another.

More than 570 babies were born in Maine in 2010 to mothers who used prescription painkillers, according to The Portland Press Herald. Apparently that number has tripled over the last six years. Newborns whose mothers used opiates during pregnancy experience withdrawal symptoms, requiring weeks of hospital treatment, often with small doses of methadone or morphine administered daily. According to the article, the average cost to treat each baby is $25,000.

For those mothers who went through drug and alcohol treatment during the pregnancy and were given methadone or Suboxone, their babies often require much less medical help after birth and get to go home much sooner.

Women who use while they are pregnant are much more likely to miscarry, or to give birth prematurely to babies with higher birth defect rates, according to the article. Stopping “cold turkey” during pregnancy is extremely dangerous, the uterus can twitch and contract, putting the pregnancy in danger, notes Dr. Mark Brown, a neonatologist at Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor.

Prescription drug use and pregnancy do not mix; addicts who determine they are pregnant should seek help immediately in order to protect their child from a host of medical problems.

At the University of Maine, Marie Hayes is studying the effect of opioid withdrawal on babies’ brains.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Richard Dreyfuss Speaks On Sobriety

It has been almost 30 years since Richard Dreyfuss found sobriety, it is clearly still one of the most important days of his life, as it is with most who have, through hard work, achieved long term sobriety - Nov. 19, 1982.

“It's my daughter's birthday, and there's more magic attached to that sentence than I can possibly begin to tell you. But suffice to it say that one year ... before my daughter was born, I was upside down with my head on the pavement with a Mercedes Benz on top of me. And I was held in by a safety belt that I hadn't put on,” Dreyfuss explained to an Oklahoma City audience Tuesday night, October 11, 2011.

“I spent the next 10 days in absolute and complete denial. I am an expert on denial, and I did my level best to not see the inevitable consequence of my acts. Except I couldn't shake the image of this little girl that was in my mind's eye, and every day she got clearer and clearer until on the 19th I said, enough. And she disappeared and didn't reappear for one year. She was my daughter.”

Dreyfuss was the keynote speaker last Tuesday night at the Oklahoma Outreach Foundation's “An Evening of Courage & Inspiration”, a charity dinner held at the Skirvin Hotel. The event generated $212,000 for the nonprofit organization that helps treatment and recovery programs for state teens coping with dependency on alcohol and other drugs.

Dreyfuss explained he developed his drug habit for “many of the reasons that young people have been doing stupidly risky things forever.”

“I thought I couldn't be killed, I thought I was immortal, and I thought I would always be smarter and faster. ... And the other reason was, of course, that while I knew I was immortal, I also knew that I was a worthless piece of dog dung and I couldn't stand myself and I would do anything to not be me,” he said.

“Every once in awhile I would do something that if it had been just a millisecond different, I would not be here today. I would either be dead or be in prison.”

We encourage everyone to listen to and watch a short video of his keynote speech where in talking of the Serenity Prayer he says: “That is the first, most important, most clear spiritual revelation of my life. It changed me from one thing to another and made me better,” he said. “God has always fascinated me, as either fact or metaphor. God works.”

Friday, October 7, 2011

Doctors Don't Ask Younger Patients About Alcohol

Alcohol misuse and abuse with young adults and teenagers is a major concern for health officials across America due to the fact that doctors often fail to ask their younger patients about their alcohol use, according to a new study. Despite alcohol's legality, it is extremely hard on the body and the potential for addiction is extremely high amongst people who consume it regularly. The findings come from a new study by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA).

More than 4,000 adults ages 18 to 39 took part in the survey, of which two-thirds had seen a doctor in the past year. Of those subjects whose drinking was classified as excessive, only 49 percent said their doctor inquired about their drinking and only 14 percent were counseled about it.

According to NIAAA guidelines:
  • men should drink no more than four drinks per day
  • men should have no more than 14 drinks in a week
  • women should not have more than three drinks per day
  • women should have no more than seven drinks per week

The study found:
  • 16 percent of young adults were nondrinkers
  • 24 percent drank at or below the recommended limits
  • 47 percent drank more than the recommended daily or weekly limits
  • 13 percent exceeded both limits

“Physicians should routinely ask all adults about their drinking and offer advice about levels that pose health risk, particularly to young adults,” the researchers write in the Journal of General Internal Medicine.
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