Treatment Solutions http://www.treatmentsolutions.com Leading the way, one life at a time. Get addiction treatment and relevant information. Thu, 02 Jul 2015 15:51:00 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.2 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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Harlem_Gospel_Choir

Photo: Aviv ben Jehuda

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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Drunk young man passed out in bar

Mixing high energy with alcohol

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

drugs-opiodsIn 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?

hospital-exit-surveyYet 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. alcohol-poisoning

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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Photo credit: Ron Medvescek

Photo credit: Ron Medvescek

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

From “10 Facts You Should Know About Every Baby’s Brain”

From “10 Facts You Should Know About Every Baby’s Brain”

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. 

Believable Hope

Does recovery mean “free” from addiction?

 

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.

Parental opioid abuse stresses VT primary schools

Photo credit: Ron Medvescek

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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New-Test-Distinguishes-Heroin-from-poppy-seedsDrug 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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Newly approved painkiller Zohydro draws criticism, regulation from states http://www.treatmentsolutions.com/newly-approved-painkiller-zohydro-draws-criticism-regulation-states/ http://www.treatmentsolutions.com/newly-approved-painkiller-zohydro-draws-criticism-regulation-states/#comments Tue, 01 Jul 2014 05:48:43 +0000 http://www.treatmentsolutions.com/?p=10489 The common image of substance abuse in the U.S. is of some disaffected youth turning to drugs and alcohol out of rebellion or lack of awareness of the true effects of his or her actions. While this image has faded away as more scientific evidence on addiction comes to light, some people still believe that...

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Zohydro-draws-critisimThe common image of substance abuse in the U.S. is of some disaffected youth turning to drugs and alcohol out of rebellion or lack of awareness of the true effects of his or her actions. While this image has faded away as more scientific evidence on addiction comes to light, some people still believe that they are impervious to developing a drug addiction. After all, many people do not even know how to obtain illegal drugs if they wanted to.

However, using illicit drugs for recreational purposes is not the only way to develop a dependency on a foreign substance. Prescription painkillers normally given to patients after a major surgery or for chronic conditions are often incorrectly used by patients. Because these drugs are so strong, it may only be a relatively short period of time before a dependency or addiction develops.

While federal agencies have tried to regulate access to prescription painkillers and inpatient substance abuse treatment centers have attempted to educate the public on proper use of the drugs, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently approved a powerful opiate-based painkiller to the market, according to The New York Times. The drug, Zohydro ER, is so potent that several states, such as Massachusetts and Vermont, have already attempted to ban access to the medication within state limits.

Looking at the prescription painkiller picture

One more painkiller on the market may not seem like big news to some people, but according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 12 million people used prescription painkillers for nonmedical purposes in 2010. In 2009, 475,000 people were taken to the emergency room for overdoses – a number that is double the figure from 2004.

How are these legally prescribed drugs being used illegally, though? According to the CDC, 17.3 percent of people who abuse prescription painkillers were originally given them by their physician for on-label purposes. These medications are so strong that after only 30 days of continuous use, patients may develop a dependency on the substances.

Taking a stand

Because so many people inadvertently become dependent on opiate-based painkillers and even more illegally obtain pills from other sources, Massachusetts was the first state to prohibit Zohydro ER from sale within its borders. According to the Times, Gov. Deval Patrick, D-Mass., and 28 other state attorneys called for the FDA to repeal its approval of the drug.

“We are in the midst of a public health emergency around [opiate] abuse and we need to do everything in our power to prevent it from getting worse,” Patrick said in a statement.

“People are fearful this will be another original OxyContin,” Sharon Walsh, director of the University of Kentucky’s Center on Drug and Alcohol Research, told the Times.

Zohydro is a time-release opiate-based painkiller, meaning that effective doses of the medication the pills contain are consumed by the body slowly over time. Though the drug is meant to help patients with chronic conditions, it is sold in quantities almost five times that of immediate-release products. Also, Zohydro ER is packaged as capsules that, once crushed, can be snorted or injected – both common administration methods of painkillers.

“Bold actions are necessary – we are in the middle of a crisis,” Cheryl Bartlett, Massachusetts’ commissioner of public health, told The Boston Globe. “We wanted to make sure safeguards are in place for this drug … It’s making sure it’s prescribed and used in the safest way possible.”

As legislators continue to fight for greater regulations over potent prescription painkillers, patients should speak to their physicians about any concerns about accidentally developing a dependency.

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Study finds 11 genes that may predict alcohol addiction risk http://www.treatmentsolutions.com/study-finds-11-genes-may-predict-alcohol-addiction-risk/ http://www.treatmentsolutions.com/study-finds-11-genes-may-predict-alcohol-addiction-risk/#comments Tue, 24 Jun 2014 05:15:15 +0000 http://www.treatmentsolutions.com/?p=10484 There is no single factor that determines whether or not people will develop a substance abuse problem. For decades, the medical community believed that addiction was an active choice made by those with the condition, but further research uncovered the physical toll of substance abuse on the mind and body of the user. Research has also shown...

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Genes-Alcohol-Addiction-RiskThere is no single factor that determines whether or not people will develop a substance abuse problem. For decades, the medical community believed that addiction was an active choice made by those with the condition, but further research uncovered the physical toll of substance abuse on the mind and body of the user.

Research has also shown that genetics play an important role in the risk of developing a substance abuse habit. The thinking behind this generally fell under the guise of family history – if a relative developed an addiction, other people in the family were thought to be equally susceptible to the condition as well. Until now, there had never been an empirically defined method to identify a genetic predisposition to substance abuse.

According to a recent study conducted by researchers at several universities in the U.S. and Germany and published in the journal Translational Psychiatry, a group of 11 genes reliably predicted the incidence of substance abuse in patients’ medical records. While the researchers were quick to note that a genetic predisposition does not guarantee that a person will develop a substance abuse habit, the findings could be used at the population level to determine those at a higher risk of alcoholism than usual.

Breaking down the genome
The study, which spanned six U.S. and six German universities, sought to explore the link between genetics and predisposition to alcoholism. In a review of a German study of the human genome, the researchers identified 135 genes that could possibly be correlated to higher incidences of alcoholism.

Once the candidate genes had been established, the researchers altered the genomes of mice to express different genes in those 135 areas. When stressed, the mice were supplied with alcohol and the researchers observed which combinations of altered gene expressions correlated with higher alcohol consumption.

These tests allowed the researchers to identify 66 variations of 11 genes that could be used to identify higher rates of alcoholism among Caucasians, African-Americans and Germans – the only three populations the researchers had both genetic and alcohol consumption data for.

Alexander Niculescu III, Ph.D., associate professor of psychiatry and medical neuroscience at the Indiana University School of Medicine and lead author of the study, explained that the genes identified by the study are closely related to those used to predict Parkinson’s disease, bipolar disorder and anxiety syndromes. Niculescu believed that because all of these conditions involve changes to brain chemistry, it is not surprising that they should be genetically related.

Differentiating between correlation and causation
Even though these 11 genes may predict the risk of alcoholism for an individual, Niculescu was careful to explain that genetic tests do not imply that people with genomic aberrations will develop an addiction.

The value of the findings, according to Niculescu, is that individuals can be forewarned about any possible predisposition to alcohol. If people are aware of their genetics, they may be able to prevent widespread damage.

“As alcoholism is a disease that does not exist if the exogenous agent (alcohol) is not consumed, the use of genetic information to inform lifestyle choices could be quite powerful,” Niculescu said in a statement. “We believe this is the strongest result to date in the field of alcoholism and offers a comprehensive – though not exhaustive – window to the genetics and biology of alcoholism.”

Niculescu’s findings may help people better understand the genetic component of alcoholism, but substance abuse can occur in individuals due to a variety of environmental factors, too. A troubled childhood or abusive relationships can be enough to drive people to drink, so genetics cannot be relied on as a foolproof indicator of substance abuse risk.

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Enjoyment of alcohol’s effects linked to substance abuse risk http://www.treatmentsolutions.com/enjoyment-alcohols-effects-linked-substance-abuse-risk/ http://www.treatmentsolutions.com/enjoyment-alcohols-effects-linked-substance-abuse-risk/#comments Tue, 17 Jun 2014 05:12:43 +0000 http://www.treatmentsolutions.com/?p=10479 Substance abuse addiction is such a complex condition that even medical experts have trouble identifying a single issue that causes people to develop destructive behaviors with drugs and alcohol. While mental and emotional troubles factor into the presence of unsafe habits with dangerous substances, the problem is often much deeper than this. One contributing cause to addiction is...

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Alcohol-use-disorderSubstance abuse addiction is such a complex condition that even medical experts have trouble identifying a single issue that causes people to develop destructive behaviors with drugs and alcohol. While mental and emotional troubles factor into the presence of unsafe habits with dangerous substances, the problem is often much deeper than this.

One contributing cause to addiction is exposure to alcohol at a young age. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, binge drinking is one of the most common and dangerous activities among adults and underage drinkers alike. Of all the alcohol consumed by people below the age of 21, 90 percent is drank in mass quantities over a short period of time – usually five or more drinks for men and four or more drinks for women over two hours. During a binge drinking episode, people are 14 times more likely to get behind the wheel of a car.

With so much danger surrounding unsupervised exposure to alcohol at a young age, parents, family members, friends and loved ones should monitor how young adults act around alcohol. According to a recent study conducted by researchers at the University of Chicago Medical Center and published in the journal Biological Psychiatry, young binge drinkers who associate the effects of inebriation with positive consequences are significantly more likely to develop alcoholism in the future.

Monitor teens’ activities
It is impossible for parents to watch their children’s every moves, but the findings from the University of Chicago study may make them think twice about how their kids act around alcohol. The researchers contacted 104 young adults and provided them with either an inebriating amount of alcohol – around 0.8 grams per kilogram – or a placebo drink. Once intoxicated, the participants were asked about their opinions on alcohol and their personal drinking habits.

Over the course of the six-year follow-up period, the researchers found that the participants who reported greater symptoms of intoxication exhibited more problematic drinking behaviors as they aged. The group that reported lower reactions to alcohol’s effects did not develop an alcohol dependence at the same rate.

“We knew that at age 25, there were binge drinkers who were sensitive to alcohol’s more positive effects,” Andrea King, Ph.D., professor of psychiatry and behavioral neuroscience at the University of Chicago and lead author of the study, said in a statement. “We just didn’t know what was going to happen to them. Now we show that they’re the ones more likely to go on to experience more alcohol problems.”

Start a dialog
Because children may be more susceptible to the effects of alcohol at a young age, parents may still want to consider starting an open and ongoing conversation about alcohol and other substances with their kids.

KidsHealth.org explained that children who have discussed alcohol use with their families show lower dependence rates and behave more responsibly in situations where alcohol is present. If parents cannot be sure that their kids will avoid alcohol, give them the tools they need to resist it.

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