Archive for the ‘Substance Abuse’ Category

The One Size Fits All Approach May Not Be As Effective As We Think

Monday, July 21st, 2014

With a growing drug problem many people are searching for a one size fits all approach to treatment, but according to a study from the University of Cambridge showed that using prescription medications for treating addiction are only effective in specific phases of addiction. In current practice almost all drug addicts are prescribed something to help them with certain symptoms and problems related to their addiction, regardless of their personal histories or the severity of their addiction. The study also mentions that addiction isn’t just a biological or chemical problem but more of a “convergence” of a number of factors that ultimately lead to addiction.

The same study involved 40 male rats to test the effects of pharmaceuticals on addicts in various stages of addiction. First of all the rats were trained to attain their own food as well as cocaine-laced water that would be dispensed when a rat pressed on a lever. Each rat was then given a shot of a dopamine blocker right into their brains, and from there it was noted in the study that the drug seeking behavior had dropped substantially and only remained present in the more impulsive rats. In the beginning phase of their addiction the rats did not seem to benefit very much from the medications given to them, but seemed to benefit more from therapy. The addicts with the longest history of drug abuse seemed to benefit most from the experiment, which leads the researchers at Cambridge to believe that addiction is both biochemical as well as psychological.

While there was a lot of science talk previously, what the study has shown is that no one addict is quite the same, and should not be treated in the same fashion as another addict. Yes there are very obvious similarities amongst addicts, and that is how many treatment plans were established and that’s why many of them are largely successful when it comes to treating a number of people at once. But is a universal style approach to rehab as effective as we think? People turn to drugs for a variety of reasons, they use a variety of different drugs and their levels of addiction are often different, so is there some solution out there that exists primarily for dealing with the specifics of an addiction rather than a broad understanding of the illness? Well, maybe not quite yet but many treatment facilities that offer both group therapy as well as one on one sessions might be the closest we have. Group therapy works because it allows an addict to look both at themselves as well as others who have maybe not the exact same problem but are in similar circumstances. One on one therapy can truly delve into the mind of an addict and ascertain the specific nature of their addiction and find ways to cope with their illness. In addition to therapy we have to remind ourselves of the pharmaceutical options for addicts. These days, a larger number of addicts are being medicated to deal with the nastier parts of their rehabilitation, and even though they may be effective it is important to first establish at what stage the addiction is in and establish whether or not the addict would benefit from such a treatment approach. Again, no addict is quite the same so every method of recovery or treatment should first be scrutinized, and then later be applied to an addict if it’s what’s in their best interest.

Treating Mental Health Disorders and Addiction Simultaneously

Friday, July 4th, 2014

To some it may come as a shock to learn that roughly 9 million adults who use drugs and alcohol also have a serious mental health disorder. Even more shocking is the fact that only about 7% of them receive effective treatment for both issues which leaves millions of people fighting a losing battle to recover and lead a healthier life. The CEO of New Beginning Adolescent Recovery Center in the southwestern United States believes he has identified a number of factors that can effectively help people who suffer from both a mental disorder and an addiction.

Many rehabilitation centers simply do not see past the fact that the person they are helping is an addict, such a mentality can result in the patient or client not receiving care that affects them as a whole. For patients dealing with depression, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder the style of treatment that only focuses on their addiction may not have the desired effect and could result in a wasted stay at a rehab facility. The mentally ill addict who is trying to recover but did not receive treatment for both diseases may just return to their addiction, therefore it is important that the treatment center be able to treat both problems simultaneously.

Mental disorders like those mentioned earlier can often be connected to some form of traumatic experience that either caused the mental disorder itself or played a major role in the patient falling ill in the first place. Many addiction specialists, however, believe that addicts need sobriety first before they are ready to deal with trauma in their past. The CEO of New Beginnings believes that this method is fundamentally flawed and can be counterproductive. If the trauma and mental illness are not the focus of recovery then many of those also addicted to drugs and alcohol will fail at recovery, and be far less likely to maintain sobriety even if they reach it while in rehab.

Another important focus point for those recovering is group therapy. Many people with mental disorders can become lonely, desperate and scared which is a nasty mix. Therefore it would make sense that providing an individual like that with a safe and comfortable setting with others in a similar situation can help them begin to trust others and improve their confidence. In addition to that many addicts who succeed in group therapy will be more likely to attend meetings and out-patient care if they are treated at least partially in group settings.

With any seriously mentally ill patient, medication is extremely important in the treatment process away from the addiction. If you then toss in a substance addiction to someone already receiving care from their doctor or psychiatrist, things can get tricky very quickly. The advantage to being in a treatment center that understands both sides of the care needed is that the medications can be administered, monitored and be carefully prescribed along with integrating the care for the addiction issues. The medical professionals can work hand in hand with the addiction experts and staff at the treatment facility to make sure that both the therapies and medications are working harmoniously in the patient’s favor.

For a mentally ill patient who also suffers from addiction problems it is important that their care be something of a synergy between psychological treatment and effective rehabilitation methods. The biggest mistake would be to attempt to isolate one problem or the other. The importance is making the patient comfortable enough to deal with both issues and eventually reach better mental health as well as lasting sobriety.


Heroin is Back

Wednesday, March 26th, 2014

Heroin is making something of a resurgence lately. Especially amongst young people. Why? Because it’s cheap, and delivers an extremely powerful high. A teenager can purchase heroin on the street for about $10 for a normal dose. It’s an inviting option as it’s becoming very difficult for teens to use their preferred method of getting high; prescription painkillers. Stealing or finishing off a bottle of their parent’s oxy prescription is becoming difficult as parents are more aware of the problem, and buying them on the street is a very unreliable means to get high. Experts also believe that the cost of prescription pills and patches are simply too much for a 17 or 18 year old who may not be employed or simply don’t earn enough, and in addition to that the heroin available now is more potent than ever. This is why health care professionals are becoming concerned with the new rise of heroin in Canada and the US.

It isn’t just kids and young adults who are making the switch from oxycodone type medications to heroin. The surge in heroin use statistics has a lot to do with a new form of oxycodone that was intended to solve the issue of abuse. Many oxy addicts and abusers were crushing the pills and snorting them, as well as mixing them with water and injecting them. The pharmaceutical companies believed they had the answer by making the pills harder to crush and making sure they would dissolve much slower in liquid. The problem they have now realized is that yes their scheme has worked, in fact it’s worked so well that the prescription drug abusers are now turning to a much cheaper option, heroin.

Some experts believe that prescription drug abuse is a suburban and urban drug, and many of them develop a dependance which leads to seeking out more powerful opiates and painkillers, or if that doesn’t work or has failed to live up to expectations, many drug users will switch to heroin as it is more readily available, doesn’t require lying to the doctor, is very potent and is significantly cheaper. The problems begin to pile up, however, as heroin is exceptionally dangerous and powerfully addictive. There are a variety of ways to ingest the drug, but the most popular is using a needle, which in itself is dangerous as many IV drug users share their equipment and end up with serious diseases such as HIV/AIDS as well as liver problems and diseases like hepatitis.

Prevention is the most important and fundamental way to deal with a potential change from legally prescribed painkillers to heroin. There are plenty of bad reasons people use to lie to themselves when it comes to an addiction switch. “It saves me money”, yes but eventually the costs will grow and grow as the dependance reals you in. Pain management and recreational use are other bad reasons to make the switch to heroin. Not to mention the fact that even if you are abusing the pills your doctor prescribed, you are fully aware of what’s in the pills as well as the proper dosage and warnings on the bottle. If you’re going out to the streets to score heroin, you have absolutely no control over what you’re buying. The drug could be laced with god knows what and could land you in serious condition at a hospital’s emergency room.

If you believe you may have a problem with pain, or perhaps you’re seeing the signs that you may have a problem, it is important that you seek help before things become too serious.


A More Reasonable Approach to Spring Break

Monday, February 24th, 2014

Panama City Beach, a popular spring break destination for college students in the US has stopped including alcohol in their promotional material. The tourist hub issued ads in college newspapers across the country, but due to a reprimand from the American Medical Association, did not advertise special drink deals and promotions that some spring break destinations do include. On top of removing alcohol advertising the tourism bureau for Panama City Beach are encouraging those flocking to their city on spring break to use caution. Some of their advice includes sticking with your friends, not accepting drinks from strangers, taking a cab instead of driving and being aware that drug and alcohol laws will be strictly enforced.


We hope that students take a minute to realize that their safety and fun depend on the decisions they make throughout spring break

Last year the American Medical Association released a statement saying that spring break is no longer the safe vacation from the stressful college life. They state that it has in fact become dangerous and “potentially life threatening”. These statements, while blunt, are indeed important to those planning to spend their time off at a popular spring break destination, as well as the parents of those college students who are under the legal age to purchase alcohol. The alcohol companies may also play a role in the potential danger that arises during these vacations. Targeting young people isn’t something new to big alcohol and when they advertise a beautiful beach, tantalizingly cold beers and half naked women, it’s no surprise that some vacationers fall into the spectacle and end up hurt, sick or dead.

It is important for those planning a week or two of partying over their “study week” that they ignore the special alcohol deals that some tourist destinations advertise, consult their parents if they are under 21 and exercise moderation. There is plenty of fun to be had even if you don’t go overboard, and whether it’s pressure from friends or an attempt to impress someone, it isn’t worth spending the rest of the vacation in an emergency room.

Mindfulness Showing Promise In Addiction Treatment

Saturday, February 1st, 2014


To some, mindfulness and meditation do not belong in the serious arena of science. Recently, however, a psychologist named Amishi Jha has been working with the US military in order to help increase mental resilience in a war zone. The results were that if the soldiers designated 12 minutes per day to “meditation” they would improve their ability to pay attention over time. In addition to helping keep the attentiveness of troops in combat, it would seem that scientists believe that mindfulness can be useful in increasing scores on standardized testing in school. Some students were to meditate for 10 minutes per day, for 2 weeks before writing an important exam. The results showed that the students who did their mindfulness training averaged a 16 percentile higher score on the verbal part of the test. And for many others, mindfulness is a way to realize what your brain is up to, and instead on focusing on the actual thoughts, you can let some of them slip away and concentrate on other things, including your physical side. Jonathan Schooler of the University of California conducted an interesting experiment that had participants conduct a task that did not require much focus. He found that the un-demanding task and mind wandering led to more creative success.

Via New York Times:

The trick is knowing when mindfulness is called for and when it’s not. “When you’re staring out the window, you may well be coming up with your next great idea,” he said. “But you’re not paying attention to the teacher. So the challenge is finding the balance between mindfulness and mind wandering.

The practice of mindfulness seems to be, in some cases, an effective way to deal with temptation and addiction. Scientists have observed that over a short period of a mindfulness approach, the addicts studies showed increased blood flow to the part of the brain that controls self-control. In addition to this test, researchers at Yale University saw that over a period of a few weeks their subjects had cut down on their cigarette intake by 90%.

Another approach to mindfulness benefiting addicts is the: Mindfulness-Based Relapse Prevention. The method is designed to figure out the triggers of addiction, as well as common patterns and potentially dangerous responses to mental and physical urges. MBRP is modeled after a similar technique used to combat depression, and for the most part it is intended as an “after-treatment” option that doesn’t interfere with cognitive therapy, medicine and conventional treatment options.