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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

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.



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

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

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.
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