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Friday, July 27, 2012

Nationwide Crackdown On The Synthetic Drug Industry

English: The Seal of the Drug Enforcement Admi...
English: The Seal of the Drug Enforcement Administration (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) this week announced the results of their nationwide crackdown on the synthetic drug industry. This joint effort between the DEA and other federal (including the Internal Revenue Service) and local agencies is called Operation Logjam and it was carried out in more than 90 cities across 30 states.

Highlights of this carefully executed operation include:
  • More than 90 people were arrested
  • $36 million in cash was seized
  • 4.8 million packets of synthetic cannabinoids were confiscated
  • Material to make 13.6 million more packages of synthetic cannabinoids
  • 167,000 packages of bath salts, synthetic hallucinogens
  • Materials to manufacture 392,000 more packets of bath salts
  • 53 weapons and $6 million in assets (non-cash) were also seized
DEA Administrator Michelle M. Leonhart held a news conference on July 26, 2012. NBC News reported:
Synthetic drugs, some known as bath salts, K-2, Spice and Vanilla Sky, have been deceptively marketed to young people, causing health problems and even death, Leonhart said. "What's troubling is they're marketing to young people, young people have an outlet at these smoke shops, these retail outlets," she said. Many of the drugs have a disclaimer warning against human consumption, but Leonhart said that's just a way to cover up the danger they pose. "So little know about these substances, because of the dangers, you've seen the headlines, people who have committed murders, suicide, those calls to poison control."
Here is an NBC News video of Erika Edwards' report covering the story: Crackdown on Synthetic Drugs.

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

If you are having trouble viewing the video you can see it here

This is a good time to talk to your teenage and young adult children about the dangers of drugs, including synthetic designer drugs. It is a good time to discuss the disease of addiction and finding recovery.
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Friday, July 20, 2012

Hitting Bottom and Finding Recovery

English: Publicity photo of Elton John from th...
English: Publicity photo of Elton John from the 1975 Rock Music Awards. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Addiction recovery professionals often speak of how the alcoholic and/or addict needs to hit bottom before they are willing to accept help for their disease. It is called "hitting bottom" and is often defined (according to About.com) as 'the place an alcoholic must reach before he finally is ready to admit that he has a problem and reaches out for help.'

What does hitting bottom look like? It can be getting your first or seventh DUI. It can be spending a night or two in jail. It can be rushing to an emergency room because of an overdose or severe alcohol withdrawal (delirium tremens -DTs). It can be flunking out of school. It can be losing your job due to too many absences. Or it can be as simple as just waking up one day and realizing that you are tired of being and feeling sick and tired. Hitting bottom is personal and everyone in recovery will have a different story about their bottom.

The miracle of recovery and support groups like Alcoholics Anonymous(AA) is that when one finds recovery they examine their life and look for ways of giving back. It is important to understand that giving back like hitting bottom is personal. It does not require elaborate acts, on the contrary, giving back is what you are capable doing for others given your own abilities. It can be volunteering at a soup kitchen. It can be speaking at high schools venues about your recovery. It can be accepting a weekly responsibility at one of your AA meetings. It can be helping a neighbor with their chores. It can be helping another alcoholic or addict by introducing them to AA. It can be setting an example for others working for a cause sharing your own miracle of recovery.

This week Elton John sat down with Matt Lauer of the Today Show and talked about his life and how he hit bottom. Sir Elton John has a new book "Love Is The Cure" in which he tells his story. We would like to share Matt Lauer's two part interview with Elton John. He shares his miracle and talks about his efforts of working with others for many causes.

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Sir Elton John has been sober since the fall of 1990. Hitting bottom, finding recovery and giving back are all steps for achieving and maintaining sobriety. One day at a time.
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Friday, July 13, 2012

Methadone Is Used For More Than A Maintenance Treatment Program

English: Ball and stick model of the methadone...Model of the methadone molecule.
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Headlines are meant to grab your attention. So last week when this headline was heard and seen across the United States: Methadone painkiller overdoses kill about 5,000 patients a year, CDC warns, people started talking about methadone. It is a startling headline, but the facts of this report are even more interesting.

When you think of methadone, do you think of it only as a maintenance treatment program for those addicted to opioids?  Or do you understand that many doctors prescribe methadone to patients who suffer from chronic pain?

The report that brought about the startling headline was published in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report that reviews data from the National Vital Statistics System and the Drug Enforcement Administration. According to the New York Times article:
"The rate of overdose deaths involving methadone in 2009 was more than five times the rate in 1999, they found. The drug accounted for 1.7 percent of the 257 million prescriptions written in 2009 for opioid pain relievers, but it was involved in 31.4 percent of overdose deaths and more than 40 percent of the deaths attributable to use of a single drug."
But as Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, clarifies these results are not talking about methadone maintenance treatment programs, but overdose deaths by those using methadone for chronic pain.

Why do doctors prescribe methadone for chronic pain? Two facts stand out:
  1. Methadone pills are less expensive than opiate drugs like oxycodone and hydrocodone.
  2. Some health insurance companies list methadone as the preferred pain killer of choice.
Unfortunately, methadone builds up in the body, like some other painkillers and the patient may not be recognizing dangerous changes in their vital signs.  Also, many patients do not understand or ignore warnings not to mix methadone with other prescription painkillers or alcohol.

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Friday, July 6, 2012

PTSD The Invisible Wound

An American soldier on Memorial Day.An American soldier on Memorial Day. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)There is an old idiom "seeing is believing." It was first used in 1639! Basically it means only physical or concrete evidence is convincing. If we use the most basic example; let's say you have two school-aged children. One breaks his/her arm, but the other is also complaining about pain or discomfort. Our natural tendency is to tend to the one with the visible concrete injury and since the second child presents no visible outward sign of injury, we simply comfort him/her and assume they will be OK. We know what we need to do for the broken arm, but the "invisible wound" becomes an anomaly or mystery. We might just try to wish away the invisible wound.

As a society we are just beginning to wrap our "communal" arms around post traumatic stress disorder(PTSD). As a malady PTSD is an invisible wound. According to the National Institute of Mental Health PTSD is defined as:
"Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is an anxiety disorder that can develop after exposure to a terrifying event or ordeal in which there was the potential for or actual occurrence of grave physical harm. Traumatic events that may trigger PTSD include violent personal assaults, natural or human-caused disasters, accidents, and military combat. People with PTSD have persistent frightening thoughts and memories of their ordeal, may experience sleep problems, feel detached or numb, or be easily startled."
Obviously, what is a terrifying event to one may not affect another...timing of the event (that is at what age the terrifying event occurs) plays into how an experience affects a person. The one year old child may have no cognitive memory of a natural disaster; however, the five year old sibling may indeed carry vivid memories of the tornado, fire, or hurricane for the rest of their lives. As the years go by, parents might often question why their two children seem so different in how they approach circumstances and deal with life events, even though most of their life experiences seem similar.  Did you ever have a conversation with three siblings who are only a couple of years apart in age? You ask them to tell you their memories of something like moving to a new community. Each one has specific and very personal recollections about the move. And it is these personal recollections that may play into one ultimately suffering from the invisible wound while the other two siblings  have grown up to become successful functioning adults.

PTSD has been in the headlines a lot over the past few years, most particularly because our American society has experienced more than a decade of war. Keep in mind PTSD is the most current name for what the medical community has documented for more than a century. During our Civil War it was called "hysteria or melancholia," during WWI it was called "shell shock," by WWII doctors called it "combat fatigue," and after  the Vietnam War, in 1980, PTSD officially became recognized as a mental health condition when it was included in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, which was developed by the American Psychiatric Association (APA).

Still PTSD is considered an invisible wound but now the National Alliance on Mental Illness(NAMI) is urging the Pentagon to award the Purple Heart to those veterans who suffer from PTSD or other mental health injuries which are the result of combat exposure. USA Today quotes Michael Fitzpatrick, NAMI's Executive Director:
"NAMI is drawing a line in the sand with the Department of Defense...Troops with invisible wounds are heroes. It's time to honor them. It will also strike a tremendous blow against the stigma that often discourages individuals from seeking help when they need it."
The NAMI report is Parity for Patriots. Take some time to read the report.

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