Treatment Solutions http://www.treatmentsolutions.com Leading the way, one life at a time. Get addiction treatment and relevant information. Tue, 01 Sep 2015 16:51:25 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.4 Meet the Squirrel: a heroin recovery app http://www.treatmentsolutions.com/meet-the-squirrel-a-heroin-recovery-app/ http://www.treatmentsolutions.com/meet-the-squirrel-a-heroin-recovery-app/#comments Thu, 30 Jul 2015 12:39:14 +0000 http://www.treatmentsolutions.com/?p=11616 Many know the grip heroin addiction can have on people. Time and again people can seek recovery for their addiction, but often end up relapsing after succumbing to the substance or another drug. The number of people addicted to heroin in America is also on the rise – the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and...

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Many know the grip heroin addiction can have on people. Time and again people can seek recovery for their addiction, but often end up relapsing after succumbing to the substance or another drug. The number of people addicted to heroin in America is also on the rise – the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a report on July 7 that revealed the rate of heroin abuse and dependence spiked by 90 percent between 2002 and 2013. That addiction is claiming lives too: Approximately 8,257 people overdosed on heroin in 2013 alone. Those numbers are startling and indicative that America has a major problem on its hands. While families, educators and even state officials are fighting to find ways to curb this epidemic, people need all the help they can get. Luckily, app developers have decided to step into the ring.

Approximately 8,257 people overdosed on heroin in 2013 alone.

Finding support
When recovering from any type of addiction, the fundamental thing people need is support. That is the reason why there are support groups in addiction recovery centers as well as 12-step programs. The more support people have from others, the better chance they have at recovering from addiction long-term. That was the idea behind the creation of Squirrel Smart Recovery, an app that focuses on developing a 10-person personal support group for people. People battling addiction use the app daily to check in with their support group and let them know how they are doing.

Of course, this is in addition to atteheroin recovery appnding 12-Step meetings and regularly checking in with a sponsor. The app creators expect that the support group will consist of family members and close friends of the person dealing with heroin dependence. Squirrel Smart Recovery gives people the option to check in on any day at any time, whether it is in the morning or at night. The app lets people rate their daily mood and stress level, as well as their desire to use heroin. The number of days people are sober is tracked by the technology, and people can achieve special coins for every milestone they reach. If they are feeling worried that they might abuse heroin, people can press a “panic button” that alerts everyone in the group that a relapse is possible via text. Essentially, the app is a way to get help instantly before relapse occurs.

A new app may aid those seeking help for heroin recovery.

Brandi Spaulding, who has a doctorate in addiction psychology, is the creator behind the app. She grew up in Marion, Ohio, a place that has been deeply affected by heroin addiction. Spaulding stood by as friends and classmates were taken by heroin addiction. So, using her knowledge about addiction, Spaulding decided she wanted to help those ravaged by heroin by developing this app.

“Addicts are at the highest risk of relapse within their first 90 days of recovery. They feel alone and aren’t always willing to ask for help or make a phone call. So, we created an app that allows for ongoing, streamlined communication and resources at the touch of a button,” Spaulding said in a press release.

Gathering input
Spaulding collaborated with addiction medicine experts to get their input on the app. Together, the group decided to come up with a piece of technology that deals with “squirrel brain.” This term refers to the part of the brain that deals with pleasure-seeking behavior. When this region is in control, people do not think about the consequences of their actions. Luckily, this app will help combat that part of the brain and remind people of what they are about to do.

Spaulding believes her app will be a hit with anyone staring down heroin addiction. She hopes to add on a GPS feature in future versions, which can inform people where local support meetings are, and another feature that would recognize personal triggers. If the app is successful, other versions could be used to help people with mental illnesses such as depression and anxiety as well.

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Clinicians not using naloxone http://www.treatmentsolutions.com/clinicians-not-using-naloxone/ http://www.treatmentsolutions.com/clinicians-not-using-naloxone/#comments Mon, 27 Jul 2015 15:26:08 +0000 http://www.treatmentsolutions.com/?p=11611 Naloxone is becoming well-known as a medication that saves lives. Specifically, it helps reverse an opioid overdose, allowing medical assistance by professionals, or even loved ones, to bring a person to the hospital for full treatment. Yet some in the medical community are not using this medication, despite its growing prevalence. Researchers from Kaiser Permanente...

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Naloxone is becoming well-known as a medication that saves lives. Specifically, it helps reverse an opioid overdose, allowing medical assistance by professionals, or even loved ones, to bring a person to the hospital for full treatment. Yet some in the medical community are not using this medication, despite its growing prevalence.

Researchers from Kaiser Permanente found that clinicians are not readily prescribing this drug to patients dealing with opioid addiction or patients’ families who may be there to save them. The clinicians noted they do not want to offend a patient or family member by prescribing it, nor do they want the patient to actively refuse it. The findings were published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine.

The number of prescription painkillers prescribed and sold since 1999 has quadrupled.

A growing issue

Opioid addiction is running rampant throughout the U.S., with people overdosing from heroin or prescription painkillers every single day. In 2013, there were approximately 16,000 deaths from pain-relieving opioids across the nation. The number of painkillers prescribed and sold since 1999 has quadrupled. Approximately 44 Americans die each day from taking too many opioids. Even more die from injecting heroin, the painkiller’s less costly alternative. Between the two different substances, opioids are becoming an epidemic. Luckily, the creation of naloxone was possibly an answer to many people’s prayers. Yet if clinicians are not prescribing it, it might not be.

Naloxone may help save lives

Naloxone may help save lives

Even if patients do not exhibit signs of opioid addiction, primary care physicians will prescribe them naloxone as well as their painkiller to prevent overdoses. Normally patients should always carry this medicine with them so that a bystander or loved one can use it right away in case of emergency. Almost 30 states across the country, such as Pennsylvania, have policies in place that allow clinicians and physicians to prescribe the medication when needed. If the state does not have a policy in place, it may have a pilot program that is working toward getting this medication in patients’ hands.

Researchers from Kaiser Permanente and the University of Colorado came together to construct 10 focus groups with 56 clinicians between August 2013 and August 2014. The study authors hoped to gather data on clinicians’ feelings toward prescribing naloxone.

Naloxone could help save people’s lives.

Evident fears

The results revealed that many of the clinicians knew that the medication would be beneficial for patients taking opioids as it could help save lives in times of emergencies. They also noted that prescribing this drug to patients would teach them about the dangers of prescription painkillers. Yet despite this knowledge, only three of 37 clinicians with prescribing authority gave it to patients. The clinicians noted they did not frequently give their patients naloxone out of fear of offending them by discussing the dangers of overdosing. Some patients may be hurt if their doctor assumed they were misusing the drug.

Given the substantial increase in fatal overdoses…expanding access to naloxone is a promising option to prevent future deaths.

The clinicians were also skeptical whether the person given the naloxone to inject would know how to properly use it. There is training behind this drug and they were fearful that a person may be unsure of what to do when an emergency occurred. Lastly, the clinicians were concerned that naloxone would be viewed as a safety net. People may use and abuse prescription painkillers in higher amounts because they know they have naloxone to save them.

The researchers concluded that overall, it may be a good idea to give patients naloxone.

“Given the substantial increase in fatal overdoses from pharmaceutical opioids in the U.S. in recent years, expanding access to naloxone is a promising option to prevent future deaths,” noted lead study author Ingrid Binswanger, M.D., M.P.H. “However, research shows there are gaps in knowledge about how to use naloxone in routine clinical practice. It’s evident that more education is needed to support clinicians as states begin legislating wider access of naloxone for bystanders of overdoses.”

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Tracking the brain chemistry of problem drinking http://www.treatmentsolutions.com/tracking-the-brain-chemistry-of-problem-drinking/ http://www.treatmentsolutions.com/tracking-the-brain-chemistry-of-problem-drinking/#comments Wed, 22 Jul 2015 16:50:36 +0000 http://www.treatmentsolutions.com/?p=11608 If addiction runs in someone’s family, it might give the individual cause to wonder about the likelihood of developing a substance addiction. And then there are the cases of addiction for which no genetic risk is present. What science determines this? What triggers might be leading to substance abuse? Researchers from Duke University may now have the answers. This latest research, part of a study...

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If addiction runs in someone’s family, it might give the individual cause to wonder about the likelihood of developing a substance addiction. And then there are the cases of addiction for which no genetic risk is present. What science determines this? What triggers might be leading to substance abuse? Researchers from Duke University may now have the answers.

This latest research, part of a study began in 2010 known as the Duke Neurogenetics Study, suggests that early brain imaging may determine a person’s vulnerability to addiction and risky sexual behavior.

The researchers are eager to use their findings, published in the Journal of Neuroscience, to suggest that biology is a predictor for someone’s future. If people can anticipate their risk level, they may be able to take proactive steps to fight their vulnerability before addiction or other forms of mental illness set in.

Noticing differences
Using magnetic resonance imaging, the study authors examined two parts of the brain: the amygdala and the ventral striatum. The first part handles emotion and threat, while the latter deals with reward-seeking behavior.

People with an overactive ventral striatum and an underactive amygdala were more likely to experience problem drinking.

The researchers pulled sample data from 2012 that involved 200 DNS participants. The findings revealed that people with an overactive ventral striatum and an underactive amygdala were more likely to experience problem drinking after being stressed out by something. To confirm this conclusion, the study authors created a second study using 759 undergraduate students at Duke who were around 19 years old. They got the same results, and realized that when the amygdala is overactive and the ventral striatum is not as active, people developed problem drinking to cope with stress at the time of the study and three months later.

When these two regions of the brain are unbalanced, problems can ensue.

“We now have these two distinct profiles of risk that, in general, reflect imbalance in the function of typically complementary brain areas,” Ahmad Hariri, Ph.D., said. “If you have high activity in both areas, no problem. If you have low activity in both areas, no problem. It’s when they’re out of whack that individuals may have problems with drinking.”

Changes in behavior
Alcohol-use-disorderYet different parts of the brain may have various affects on why people drink. For example, people with a reactive ventral striatum may drink out of impulse and may engage in riskier behavior while under the influence because the amygdala does not sense a threat. However, if people have a reactive amygdala and a less active ventral striatum, they may be more sensitive and drink to calm their emotions.

Specific parts of the brain may help predict whether a person experiences alcoholism.

The researchers’ discoveries do not end here. They plan to turn to the prefrontal cortex next to determine what role this part of the brain has in problem drinking. This portion of the brain has been linked to decision making, and might be affected by the other two regions or could affect them. Examining this region could help researchers zone in on exactly who is at risk for developing these issues.

An apparent issue
Currently, problem drinking is becoming a major issue among adolescents and people in college who are stressed out by school and pressured by friends. Approximately 24.6 percent of people ages 18 and older admitted to binge drinking in the past month. This type of behavior can have long-term consequences and lead to an alcohol use disorder. About 16.6 million people ages 18 and older had an AUD in 2013, and the numbers do not stop there. Adolescents between the ages of 12 and 17 are also vulnerable. Approximately 697,000 had an AUD in 2013.

Predicting adolescents and adults’ vulnerability to problem drinking may help lower these numbers throughout the U.S. while improving people’s quality of life.

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Singing Through Addiction http://www.treatmentsolutions.com/singing-through-addiction/ http://www.treatmentsolutions.com/singing-through-addiction/#comments Wed, 03 Jun 2015 13:44:12 +0000 http://www.treatmentsolutions.com/?p=11522 Music may be one of the best therapies for substance abuse. An a capella choir group from Harlem is using music to cure their drug addiction. Members of the Addicts Rehabilitation Center in Harlem are singing through addiction. The group only has one requirement – you have to be recovering from substance abuse. The group...

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Music may be one of the best therapies for substance abuse. An a capella choir group from Harlem is using music to cure their drug addiction.

Members of the Addicts Rehabilitation Center in Harlem are singing through addiction. The group only has one requirement – you have to be recovering from substance abuse.

The group has come from all walks of life. Ira Greig, a 64-year-old recovering from heroin addiction, began abusing substances before he was 18. Caroyl Grayson, a 26-year-old who used to be addicted to crack cocaine, also is in the group. Both members grew up in Harlem and remember the moment they realized they hit rock bottom. So, they decided to seek help by joining the choir group. 

Saving lives
Grayson acknowledged that her life may not be the same without this group of people, believing she would have succumb to her addiction woes. 

“As soon as I heard those people, I knew I was connected,” Grayson told CBS News. 

All of the members need to stay clean or they are kicked out of the group. The members are led and guided by James Allen, a 90-year-old who battled substance abuse long ago. Allen got sober more than 40 years ago and decided to begin the choir group as a way to raise money for local addiction treatment centers. Allen noted that music is very therapeutic for those dealing with addiction and lets them release their stress and worries. 

The group performs each week in Harlem, but they have also traveled to far places such as Japan and France to put on shows. Their events have become so popular that they are a tourist hit. 

This is not the first time music has proven to aid those in addiction recovery. People at the addiction treatment center Cuan Mhuire in Ireland decided that singing may help them too, BBC News reported. 

Their idea came from Sheila Smyth of the Right Key body, a program that focuses on music and singing to help people recover from various conditions including substance abuse. Like Allen, Smyth noted how singing can turn tough times into beneficial ones. 

“We have seen how music can make a breaking point into a turning point. An important part of recovery is improving peoples’ image of themselves,” she told the news source. 

Banding together
Singing in a choir group helps people come together and support and care about each other’s well being. People can also be proud of their work, especially if they are praised by others such as during a concert. Music helps people engage parts of their mind that involve creativity, taking the physiological focus off of substance abuse. 

One study proved the neurological effects of music making. Researchers from Arizona State University asked people to participate in a drumming circle while they observed their brain activity. After they asked people about their experience. The findings, published in the American Journal of Public Health, revealed that drumming helped people relax and created a pleasurable experience for them. The music also helped center people and allowed them to release tension associated with emotional trauma. In the brain, drumming encouraged brain-wave synchronization and theta-wave production, which puts people in a state of deep relaxation. 

Regardless of what type of music people are making, it may be a viable solution for those dealing with drug and alcohol addiction, as it is for those in Harlem.

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Double Trouble: Energy Drinks and Alcohol http://www.treatmentsolutions.com/double-trouble-energy-drinks-and-alcohol/ http://www.treatmentsolutions.com/double-trouble-energy-drinks-and-alcohol/#comments Thu, 21 May 2015 10:01:04 +0000 http://www.treatmentsolutions.com/?p=11516 Some adolescents are fans of mixing their alcoholic beverage with an energy drink such as Redbull. This may not be the best idea. Researchers from Dartmouth medical school found that teens who like to mix energy drinks and alcohol together are more likely to develop a drinking problem than teens who do not mix the...

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Some adolescents are fans of mixing their alcoholic beverage with an energy drink such as Redbull. This may not be the best idea.

Researchers from Dartmouth medical school found that teens who like to mix energy drinks and alcohol together are more likely to develop a drinking problem than teens who do not mix the two. The findings were published in the Journal of Pediatrics.

Investigating a new group

The study authors used a group of students between the ages of 15 and 23, as many former studies related to energy drinks focused on an older age group. Approximately 3,342 students from across the nation decided to participate in the study. Within that age range, the results found that students between the ages of 15 and 17 were four times more likely to be predisposed to an alcohol disorder if they mixed energy drinks with alcohol. These findings were compared to students who had drank before, but were not mixing the substance with beverages such as Redbull or Monster.

Students between 15 and 17 were 4 times more likely to develop an alcohol disorder.

The researchers were considerably concerned by their findings, noting that adolescents are already at a major risk of developing an alcohol problem because of binge drinking. They believe that mixing energy drinks with alcohol may cause students to want to drink more than their normal amount. The practice could pull in students who may have little or no tolerance for alcohol on its own, affording them a pleasurable experience associated with drinking. Secondly, the mixture may encourage students to act more dangerously.

A growing worry

Studies in the past have linked energy drinks and alcohol to riskier behavior and poor outcomes, such as alcohol-related injuries and accidents. This may be because adolescents are consuming greater amounts of alcohol.

“Abusive alcohol use among adolescents is a dangerous behavior that can lead to injury, chronic alcohol use and abuse, and even death,” said lead study author Jennifer A. Emond, MS.c., Ph.D. “Identifying those most at risk for alcohol use is critical,” she said. “Given that this is a sensitive issue, it’s possible that clinicians, parents, and educators might open dialogue about alcohol use with adolescents by starting the discussion on the topic of energy drinks.”

The desire to binge drink is one of the most prevalent issues among teens in the U.S., concerning parents and physicians nationwide.

Binge drinking occurs when men consume five or more drinks and women have four or more drinks in a period of two hours. While most people who binge are not dependent on alcohol, the behavior can lead to addiction over time. Approximately 90 percent of adolescents under the age of 21 consume alcohol in the form of binge drinks. This action can lead to several health-related issues and put people in harm’s way. Those who binge drink are 14 times more likely to acknowledge that they drove a car while under the influence of alcohol than people who do not binge drink.

Luckily, there are some ways to reduce the chance of this type of behavior. States are beginning to put a higher tax on alcohol and raising its price, which can discourage youths from purchasing it. Government is also cracking down on retailers who may be selling alcohol to minors. Lastly, more parents, educators and physicians are becoming are aware of this behavior, and are asking the right questions.

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Overdose Under Reported http://www.treatmentsolutions.com/overdose-under-reported/ http://www.treatmentsolutions.com/overdose-under-reported/#comments Mon, 27 Apr 2015 10:53:12 +0000 http://www.treatmentsolutions.com/?p=11478 Surveys Aren’t Catching the Data Researchers from the University of Illinois-Chicago found that surveys that are administered to patients are not accurately detecting the risk of medication poisoning. The findings, published in the Journal Clinical Toxicology, revealed the surveys overlook this risk by 60 to 90 percent. A Scary Truth In recent years, medication overdoses,...

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Surveys Aren’t Catching the Data

Researchers from the University of Illinois-Chicago found that surveys that are administered to patients are not accurately detecting the risk of medication poisoning. The findings, published in the Journal Clinical Toxicology, revealed the surveys overlook this risk by 60 to 90 percent.

A Scary Truth

In recent years, medication overdoses, especially from opioids, have become incredibly common. Between 2001 and 2013, opioid overdoses have tripled, reaching 16,000 deaths. The mortality rate associated with overdoses is higher than traffic fatalities and gun-related deaths. Overdose rates are higher among women than men. Approximately 48,000 women died of prescription painkiller overdoses between 1999 and 2010. The most common medications that people overdose on are Vicodin, methadone, OxyContin and Opana.

The researchers made their discoveries by looking through patient demographics, medical and billing records, and what the results of admittance for poisoning were. They also studied a few surveys, including the National Health Interview Survey, the National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey, the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System and the National Hospital Discharge Survey.

“Approximately 48,000 women died of prescription painkiller overdoses between 1999 and 2010.”

They found that health care costs related to dealing with overdoses were almost $8 million. More than half of the poisonings were because of substance abuse. Aside from treatment, costs can also be attributed to the length of stay. Many patients stayed in the hospital for at least five days. The majority of the poisonings were due to opioids, alcohol or other types of illicit drugs. While some of the overdoses were accidental, many of them were because of dependence and abuse. The death rate of people who came to the outpatient portion of the emergency room was lower than those who were inpatients. Overall, the mortality rates of poisonings were still low overall, as well as the number of patients who intentionally tried to overdose.

What’s in a Poison?

Yet despite these low numbers, researchers were concerned by the national surveys, finding they let many possible poisonings slip through the cracks. Some of the national surveys are based on patient self-reporting, and study authors noted that errors may be creeping in through these surveys because people do not understand the term “poisoning” on the surveys. Furthermore, the definition for poisoning on these surveys doesn’t include overdoses from alcohol and illicit and prescription drug use.

“The actual burden related to poisoning, to hospitals and society, is actually much higher than previously thought,” said lead author Lee Friedman, Ph.D.

Comparing the Illinois hospital data to the results of national health surveys, the researchers found that the surveys missed a significant number of poisoning cases. – University of Illinois at Chicago

Common Mistake Leads to Large Underestimation

Friedman believes the poisoning language oversight on surveys is common because other states, that like Illinois, may not have expected to deal with so many patients experiencing overdoses. That is why it is important to recreate these national surveys to accommodate a more inclusive definition of poisonings, one that mentions alcohol use, drug use, and opioid use.

The oversight is egregious enough that researchers concluded the need for a public health campaign on thematter. In the past, several campaigns on the dangers of tobacco and drinking have been effective. So, it may be time to turn advocacy toward the dangers of substance abuse and overdoses. The study authors also noted that there should be more encouragement of using poison control hotlines. While some overdoses may be in dire need of medical attention, others may be remedied through a simple phone call, which can lower health care costs nationwide.

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Pregnancy, Cocaine, and Baby’s Brain http://www.treatmentsolutions.com/pregnancy-cocaine/ http://www.treatmentsolutions.com/pregnancy-cocaine/#comments Fri, 10 Apr 2015 18:37:14 +0000 http://www.treatmentsolutions.com/?p=11460 For years, we have known that pregnancy, cocaine abuse, and infant brain development are a harmful combination. And medical research has proven that the harmful effects of cocaine abuse by pregnant mothers can be long-term. However, until now, scientists were unsure exactly what those effects were. Researchers from the University of North Carolina found that babies of...

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For years, we have known that pregnancy, cocaine abuse, and infant brain development are a harmful combination. And medical research has proven that the harmful effects of cocaine abuse by pregnant mothers can be long-term.

However, until now, scientists were unsure exactly what those effects were.

Researchers from the University of North Carolina found that babies of mothers who abuse cocaine may have altered brain function. The findings were published in the Journal of Neuroscience.

A prevalent role

The scientists looked at approximately 152 brain scans of infants exposed to drug abuse and realized that brain function within a region known as the amygdala was different from healthy babies’ brains. The amygdala is often linked to drug use, as one of its primary functions involves arousal. Many substances, including cocaine, have considerable effects on the amygdala. Cocaine alters the function of brain chemicals such as serotonin and dopamine, and causes greater amounts of them to be released. In return, people experience a feeling of euphoria, followed by feelings of depression and anxiety when they sober up. Because of these lows, people desire to reach that same high. Past research has found that these chemicals are released in regions of the amygdala.

Babies who were exposed to any type of drug use had alternate brain functioning compared to the healthy ones.

The study authors noted that this is the first study of its kind to realize that cocaine use by mothers can actually affect the brains of unborn babies. 

Separating the groups

They discovered these findings by administering 152 magnetic resonance imaging scans on babies’ brains. Approximately 64 of the infants were not exposed to substance abuse, 45 were exposed to cocaine and 43 were exposed to other drug use. The scans proved that babies who were exposed to any type of drug use had alternate brain functioning compared to the healthy ones. However, babies whose mothers had abused cocaine had a few different neurological changes that no other group had.

How Does It Work?

The researchers realized that there was little communication between the amygdala and another region of the brain known as the prefrontal cortex, which usually has control over the amygdala. That means the prefrontal cortex could have difficulty controlling emotion, arousal and other functions in that part of the brain. The researchers noted this may be why so many babies who were exposed to cocaine in the womb have an arousal dysregulation trait.

“This study may inform new strategies aimed at early risk identification and intervention,” said co-lead author Karen Grewen, Ph.D.

The researchers plan to continue their experiments on babies using these kinds of scans to determine what else they can learn and possibly create treatment methods.


References

“Prenatal Drug Exposure Affects Neonatal Brain Functional Connectivity” The Journal of Neuroscience, 8 April 2015, 35(14):58605869.

For more about infant brain development, see “10 Facts You Should Know About Every Baby’s Brain

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Do People Graduate from Addiction? http://www.treatmentsolutions.com/people-graduate-addiction/ http://www.treatmentsolutions.com/people-graduate-addiction/#comments Mon, 23 Feb 2015 09:16:10 +0000 http://www.treatmentsolutions.com/?p=11228 Why do you “graduate” from an addiction recovery program? Is this the proper term for dealing with lifelong addictions? When you enter a 12-step program, your first step is admitting your addiction to drugs or alcohol. Once you’ve acknowledged it, you have made the realization that you will always be an alcoholic or drug addict,...

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Why do you “graduate” from an addiction recovery program? Is this the proper term for dealing with lifelong addictions?

When you enter a 12-step program, your first step is admitting your addiction to drugs or alcohol. Once you’ve acknowledged it, you have made the realization that you will always be an alcoholic or drug addict, even if you have been sober for more than 50 years. If this is the case, then why do you “graduate” from an addiction recovery program? When dealing with lifelong addictions, a struggle sure to continue after recovery, is there merit to considering that you can graduate from addiction?

A problematic term
Many in the field of health care believe it may not be. Though people may have graduated from an addiction treatment program or center, they have not graduated from their addiction. Who knows – it may only be a few short months until a few of these graduates relapse and return to recovery, or begin using drugs and alcohol heavily again. For years, many addiction treatment centers have celebrated graduations. These ceremonies are in place to help clients focus on their past, reflect on their mistakes and eagerly look toward a successful, sober future.

Graduation also serves as the recognition of accomplishment. Getting through a treatment program is no easy thing. However, approximately 64 percent of people in the U.S. have entered an addiction recovery program more than once. Some may have even gone into a clinic more than twice. Izaak Williams, a researcher and addiction clinician, recently investigated this process to see how effective it actually is. 

“In order for a person to get an addiction treatment program’s full benefit, they need to be enrolled for at least 90 days.”

Though many people graduate from these programs each semester, what determines that they are ready to graduate? Every person is different, so the indications that they will remain sober and not be triggered by a past friend or memory are uncertain. Williams also stated that there is very little data on the motives behind encouraging members to graduate, and he wonders whether staff at these addiction recovery programs may be driven by graduation numbers instead of focusing on the patients. Some addiction treatment programs may try to boast high graduation numbers, but not actually follow up with clients after they leave the facility to see if they maintained their sobriety. 

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention noted that in order for a person to get an addiction treatment program’s full benefit, they need to be enrolled for at least 90 days. The organization acknowledged that length may have a lot to do with how much of an impact the curriculum has on a patient. However, even after a patient leaves, the recovery process is not over, and it may take years before a person feels like themselves again. 

Many professionals in addiction treatment centers may believe that the graduation process is unnecessary or has the wrong intentions for patients. However, these staff members might not voice their opinions out of fear that they will be shunned or that the program will suddenly be different than all other programs that do perform a graduation process. Williams noted that there is no way to confirm this, sadly, as a survey has never been conducted on the subject. 

 

Academic vs. addiction
In the academic world, graduation means being able to complete a degree or a program, and express that you’re now an expert on knowledge in a certain field. It also is an indication that you competed among others and prevailed. However, an addiction program should not be like that. Addiction is complex, there are many facets to it, and usually it takes time and several different approaches to work the right way. It also does not ever end – people need to work at it every day. In graduation from an addiction recovery program, people may believe they have reached the end of the road, and been cured of their illness. This common misconception among patients can lead to false hope and a possible relapse. It involves participation from a person, his or her counselor, the staff and a person’s family in order to go successfully. With an academic degree, it is much simpler. You go to class, pay attention, study and work hard, and you can graduate. Though the term graduation seems to apply well to academia, it may not be the best term for addiction.

So, perhaps using this term may cause people to be ill-prepared for the world they are about to face. Though they may have learned a lot in the past 90 days, and believe they are healed, returning to an old environment where people used to use drugs or alcohol can be very difficult, and tempting. Williams concluded that those in health care may want to change this term and process. While congratulations are in order for the work and courage it takes to get through a treatment program, those congratulations should not allow anyone to forget that the journey is far from over.

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Children of Opiate Abusers http://www.treatmentsolutions.com/children-opiate-abusers/ http://www.treatmentsolutions.com/children-opiate-abusers/#comments Wed, 18 Feb 2015 15:17:51 +0000 http://www.treatmentsolutions.com/?p=11220 Researchers at the University of Vermont are conducting a longitudinal study to investigate the effects of parental opioid use on children, the VT Digger noted. The study is needed  to help the state find solutions for a growing problem in primary schools with children of addicted parents, and lawmakers want to know, what is the most...

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Researchers at the University of Vermont are conducting a longitudinal study to investigate the effects of parental opioid use on children, the VT Digger noted. The study is needed  to help the state find solutions for a growing problem in primary schools with children of addicted parents, and lawmakers want to know, what is the most effective way to intervene?

Lead study author Abby Crock, Ph.D., noted that currently there is very little hard data on the effects of this type of abuse on children and domestic life. However, she noted that there are several suggestions that indicate it is a growing problem in Vermont as well as the nation. The researchers plan to use students from several Vermont schools for the study, and follow them over a long period of time.

“In 2011, Vermont had the second-highest admission rate for prescription opiate abuse.”

A growing issue
Currently, substance abuse is running rampant throughout Vermont, especially heroin and opioid use. The Vermont Legislature noted that in 2011, Vermont had the second-highest admission rate for an addiction treatment center for prescription opiate abuse. They stated that those who were seeking admission for treatment were between the ages of 20 and 29. Heroin use is also fairly common, as the substance increased in drug abuse rate by 35 percent in 2012. The policymakers noted that with this rise in abuse, more people are seeking help for their addiction, but there currently are not enough resources. The legislature stated that the state needs to find a way to compensate for all the people in desperate need of help for opioid abuse.

The study authors from University of Vermont hope that they can get hard data from these children, but also get detailed stories that can help them find the best possible intervention for the parents and the children involved. The researchers want to create a more normal home life for these children and help them get the psychological treatment they may need. They hope to bring the information to the Vermont Department of Health, which can help initiate a change.

However, the governor and his staff have received a few concerning letters from principals at local schools who have noticed children with alarming behavior who seem to be from disturbed homes. One principal sent a letter in about three different children, all of whom were living in a house with substance abuse and addiction. The principal, who asked to remain anonymous, began his letter with a story of a child who was occasionally locked in a closet as a baby while his mother dealt drugs. The child expressed anger and other behavioral issues while in school, and is currently working with the school’s social services. The second child experienced homelessness after his parents lost their jobs. When his aunt finally took custody of him, he had not seen a dentist or a doctor in years and had to have several teeth pulled. He also had behavioral issues. The third child was a girl who constantly was transferred from school to school. She also witnessed domestic abuse in her home, and was far behind the others in her grade. The principal noted in the letter that though there will always be one or two children who have these kinds of issues, the numbers are increasing substantially, and the schools do not have the resources to properly handle it.

Taking action
All three stories indicate that this problem is not an uncommon one. It also shows that children who are exposed to domestic and substance abuse often face dire consequences related to behavioral issues and learning disabilities. Children of opiate and other substance abusers may also be neglected by parents too focused on an addiction to take proper care of their child.

The principal argued in his letter that despite their unfortunate upbringing, these children still have the right to a proper education. So, he urged that the government figure out a way to intervene with these families and determine how to help these children get a solid education that they can use down the road and find resources to help the parents dealing with addiction issues. Hopefully, the research conducted by the University of Vermont will be a good start and can help push for change.

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Studies shed light on development, current demographics of heroin use http://www.treatmentsolutions.com/studies-shed-light-development-current-demographics-heroin-use/ http://www.treatmentsolutions.com/studies-shed-light-development-current-demographics-heroin-use/#comments Tue, 08 Jul 2014 05:53:59 +0000 http://www.treatmentsolutions.com/?p=10494 Drug addiction has attracted several negative stigmas in recent years, none more damaging than the image of the down-and-out urban dweller who has nowhere else to turn but to substance abuse. Needless to say, this stereotype is not true, and several recent studies have explored the true demographics of drug abuse in the U.S. According to two studies...

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Drug addiction has attracted several negative stigmas in recent years, none more damaging than the image of the down-and-out urban dweller who has nowhere else to turn but to substance abuse. Needless to say, this stereotype is not true, and several recent studies have explored the true demographics of drug abuse in the U.S.

According to two studies from researchers at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, the demographics of heroin users have changed dramatically in the past 50 years. Whereas the first population to abuse the drug was decidedly younger and more urban, the current trend is toward older users located in traditionally suburban areas, an image contrary to the popular conception of a “junkie.” Moreover, most of these current users did not begin their substance abuse issues with heroin, but rather switched to the drug after developing dependencies on prescription painkillers because heroin was cheaper, more readily accessible and more easily abused.

Looking at a picture of heroin users
Heroin use is one of the largest drug problems facing the U.S. today. According to the Foundation for a Drug-Free World, heroin addiction accounts for 18 percent of all admissions to drug treatment centers in the U.S. Exact figures on the number of current users is hard to codify, with numbers ranging from 153,000 to as high as 900,000.

Theodore Cicero, Ph.D., professor of psychiatry at Washington University and lead investigator of both studies, explored the current statistics of heroin use and the people who use the drug. In the first study that looked at the current demographics of heroin users, Cicero reviewed the data from 2,800 patients who were involved in an ongoing, self-reporting study on heroin dependence. All patients were admitted into a treatment center at the time of data capture.

Cicero found that among those who began using heroin in the 1960s, the average age of their first exposure was 16.5 years old. Moreover, 82.8 percent of these users were male and 80 percent had never consumed an illegal opiate substance before trying heroin.

The most recent generation of users showed themselves to be much older when they started taking heroin. The average age of patients seeking treatment for heroin use increased to 23 years old in 2010. Also, the rate of white patients skyrocketed from 40 percent in 1960 to 90.3 percent. Perhaps most surprising was the fact that 75.2 percent of respondents lived and acquired heroin in suburban areas.

“Our surveys have shown a marked shift in the demographics of heroin users seeking treatment over the past several decades,” Cicero said in a statement.

Explaining the shift toward heroin use
Simply looking at demographics figures does not explain why heroin use has risen so sharply in recent decades, so Cicero and his research colleagues examined why so many people have become addicted to this particular drug.

“In the past, heroin was a drug that introduced people to narcotics,” Cicero explained. “But what we’re seeing now is that most people using heroin begin with prescription painkillers such as OxyContin, Percocet or Vicodin, and only switch to heroin when their prescription drug habits get too expensive.”

The study reviewed data from 150 drug treatment centers across the U.S. from 2010 to 2013, using self-reporting surveys of 9,000 patients. When asked to provide a reason why they chose to use heroin, three factors repeatedly came up: the low cost of the drug, the feeling of the high and the ease of self-administration.

“The price on the street for prescription painkillers, like OxyContin, got very expensive,” Cicero explained in a statement. “It has sold for up to a dollar per milligram, so an 80 milligram tablet would cost $80. Meanwhile, they can get heroin for $10.”

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