Thursday, October 5, 2017

I’m Into Mental Health: Inspired, Informed, Involved

mental illness
If you are in addiction recovery, then there is a good chance you have dual diagnosis. Otherwise known as a co-occurring disorder. Simply put, when a person meets the criteria for a substance use disorder and also struggles with another form of mental illness—that person is said to have a co-occurring disorder. It could be said that mental health conditions like company, and not the good kind either.

It does not matter if the addiction precedes the other condition, such as bipolar disorder, or vice versa; treating both at the same time is of the utmost importance for recovery. Those who are treated for a use disorder, but not their dual diagnosis, are at high risk of relapse. It cannot be overstated enough. Successful outcomes in recovery depend upon treating the whole patient.

It is important to educate the general public about co-occurring disorders. Whether you have
first-hand experience with addiction, or not, there is a high likelihood that somebody close to you has been affected. And, maybe they have not had any kind of treatment for either addiction, other form of mental illness or both. Encouraging your loved ones to seek the help they desperately need is vital.


Talking About Mental Illness This Week

You may already be aware that this is Mental Illness Awareness Week (MIAW). Held in recognition of the good work that the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) and partners do in the field. Educating the general public, breaking down the stigma of mental illness that prevents people from seeking help and encouraging the afflicted to seek treatment.

The more people who get help, the better we all are for it—as a society. NAMI works hard to spread the message about the harm that stigma does to us all. Throughout the year the organization is committed to helping people better understand that while mental illness has no known cure, it can be treated. People do recover, given the opportunity.

This week, NAMI would like to draw the public’s attention toward five treatable mental health conditions. Disorders that need “better public understanding and stigma-busting.” Such conditions, include:
  • Depression
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
  • Borderline Personality Disorder
  • Schizophrenia & Psychosis
  • Dual Diagnosis
Naturally, the last condition on that list is of particular importance to the field of addiction medicine. Around 10 million Americans meet the criteria for dual diagnosis, according to a 2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health.


Dual Diagnosis Treatment

If you, or a loved one, is struggling with a mental illness and a substance use disorder simultaneously, please contact Hemet Valley Recovery Center & Sage Retreat. It is also possible that there is a dual diagnosis at play that is unknown, at this time. We can help determine if that is the case and take proven, effective measures to treat both illnesses.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Alcohol Use Disorder On The Rise With Older Adults

alcohol use disorder
Opioid use disorder among older adults continues to be a great cause of concern in the United States. We recently covered new findings showing that while opioid misuse among young people has been declining, it’s been increasing among older Americans. The study dictates that greater emphasis needs to be placed on prevention and treatment efforts among this demographic. Although, opioids are not the only addictive substance impacting older adults. In fact, problematic alcohol use is on the rise, according to epidemiologists at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA).

Research published in JAMA Psychiatry, compared data from a national survey taken in 2001 and 2002 and again in 2012 and 2013, The New York Times reports. The data indicates that older adults engaging in “high-risk drinking” rose 65 percent, to 3.8 percent. What’s more, alcohol use disorders (AUD) more than doubled during the same time period among this demographic. With AUD affecting 3 percent of older Americans.


What is “High Risk Drinking”

Most experts define “binge drinking” as when men consume 5 or more drinks or women consume 4 or more drinks in about 2 hours. The practice has been associated with a number of negative health effects, including dependence and alcohol use disorder. High risk drinking, on the other hand, is when men have five or more standard alcoholic beverages, and when women have four or more in a day — at least once a week.

“The trajectory over time is remarkable,” said Dr. Marc Schuckit, a psychiatrist and addiction specialist at the University of California, San Diego. “You have to say there’s something going on.” 

The causes of the upward swing are varied. Bridget Grant, an epidemiologist at N.I.A.A.A. and study lead author, says that anxiety and the recession likely had a role, according to the article. Aside from heavier drinking leading to alcohol use disorder, the substance can exacerbate chronic health conditions associated with older adults, such as hypertension, diabetes and heart disease. Alcohol misuse has also been associated with several forms of cancer and is a known cause of stroke and heart attack. Many of the medications older Americans take daily, warn against mixing with alcohol. The possibility of deadly synergistic effects, is great.

“Read your drug labels,” said Dr. David Oslin, a psychiatrist specializing in addiction at the University of Pennsylvania. “Alcohol interferes or interacts with literally hundreds of prescription medications.”


Alcohol Use Disorder Treatment

Addiction isn’t a good thing under any circumstances. Fortunately, achieving long-term recovery is entirely possible. Dr. David Oslin says that older adults in addiction treatment have the same or better success rates as younger adults. Dr. Oslin conducted a study which found that older adults were much more likely to stick to treatment plans. Alcohol use disorder treatment works.

At Hemet Valley Recovery Center & Sage Retreat we offer an Older Adult Addiction Treatment Program. One that is specifically tailored to meet the unique needs of seniors. Please contact us today to begin the lifesaving process of addiction recovery.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Alcohol Use Alters Brain Functioning

alcohol use disorder
Addiction treatment is in many cases a one-size-fits-all approach. What works for one client is likely to be beneficial for another. Everyone who is actively working a program of recovery using the 12 Step model is expected to follow the same suggestions. That is, work the same steps, following a model that has been passed down for generations. There are no exceptions, there are no differences between what is required from both men and women.

Males and females, to be sure, have different needs which are typically observed in treatment. They both have had experiences that may be unique to one particular sex, but at the end of the day the mechanisms of addiction and subsequent approaches to achieve recovery are similar. However, in recent years scientists have been narrowing in on variations between men and women regarding addiction. We know that both sexes are eligible for addiction. We know that continued use over long periods of time, more times than not, will lead to dependence and use disorders. In both men and women, the havoc that substances, like alcohol, will wreak on the human body is extensive. Both physically and mentally.

It is widely agreed upon that men consume more alcohol than women. When men drink, they tend to imbibe, in what could only be described as, more aggressively. Males binge drink more often and in greater amounts than females, but research has shown that women have stepped up their alcohol use. Especially middle-aged and older women. What is relatively unknown about heavy drinking is how it affects the brains of men and women differently.


How Alcohol Use Alters Brain Functioning

Long-term alcohol use has the propensity to do serious harm, potentially having lasting consequences. Those who engage in heavy alcohol use for long periods of time are at great risk, regardless of sex. Yet, some researchers have wondered if drinking alcohol alters the brains of men differently than women. And, if so, could it mean that methods of treatment (especially treatments involving medication) will be more effective for one sex compared to the other. A group of Finnish researchers found that, in fact, the brains of young men undergo changes which are not the same as young women who engage in heavy alcohol use, Science Daily reports. The researchers used Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) on young heavy drinkers, a method which activates brain neurons; the subjects' brains were then observed using an EEG (electroencephalogram).

"We found more changes in brain electrical activity in male subjects, than in females, which was a surprise, as we expected it would be the other way around,” said Dr Outi Kaarre, a researcher at the University of Eastern Finland and Kuopio University Hospital, Finland. “This means that male brain electrical functioning is changed more than female brains by long-term alcohol use" 

Dr. Kaarre points out that alcohol use has a more pronounced effect on both electrical and chemical neurotransmission in the brains of men, according to the article. The receptors under the spotlight are the GABA A and B. Men who engage in long-term alcohol use had alterations to both A and B, but in females it was the GABA-A receptors that were affected. Which could explain why the efficacy of a new drug for treating alcohol dependence, Baclofen (a GABA-B agonist), has had varying results.

The findings, presented at the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology, could have serious implications for treating male and female patients with an alcohol use disorder (AUD).


Young Adult Alcohol Use Disorder Treatment

If you are binge drinking on a regular basis, multiple days per week, then you are on dangerous path to alcohol use disorder. You may already meet the criteria for a use disorder and without treatment things will only get worse. If you are a young adult whose life has become unmanageable due to alcohol use, please contact Hemet Valley Recovery Center & Sage Retreat. We can help.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Addiction Recovery In College

addiction recovery
The summer is quickly coming to a close. Which means that a number of young adults in recovery are preparing to head back to college. If you are among such people, we commend you for furthering your education whilst working a program of addiction recovery. It is not an easy task and should never be discounted. Staying clean and sober under average circumstances can be a real challenge. Addiction is always jumping at the bit for you to slip up, thus inviting the disease back into your life.

The disease of addiction thrives best when individuals are stressed out or overworked. Two things that go hand in hand with modern college class loads. In the ever-modernizing world, students must go far above and beyond to get ahead in this world. Demanding that students take difficult classes and participate in extracurricular activities. Given that young people in recovery have a most important mission outside of school, already, it can be hard to juggle all that is expected of young collegians today.

However, it is possible to navigate the rigors of college life and not fall back into the cycle of addiction. If you have completed an addiction treatment program, have a sponsor and go to meetings several days a week—you have already acquired many of the necessary coping skills for dealing with stress in recovery. So, when you head off to school, if you can utilize what you have learned, you should be able to get through the semester without incident.


Protecting Addiction Recovery In College

Many young people in recovery attend college outside of their home town, or the area they first got clean and sober. Which means that you will be away from you inner-recovery support circle and sponsor. If that is the case for you, it is absolutely paramount that you get plugged into a recovery community where you go to school. Many students in recovery actually get a second sponsor to work with while they are away. An extra line of defense to protect one’s sobriety.

It is vital that you develop connections with other young people in recovery who are attending the same college as you. People who you can both socialize with in your down time, and turn to when you are having a hard time. A number of colleges even offer sober housing services, which can be super beneficial. When you are living with other people who share your common goal, who are also navigating the stress of college, you will not feel like you are alone. The power of recovery depends on fellowship.

It practically goes without saying that being unable to connect with a recovery community when away at school can be disastrous. It could precipitate spending time with people who are partying or using. In turn, leading to a relapse. Making recovery one’s first priority will help prevent such an occurrence. Please keep in mind that without your recovery, the likelihood of being successful in college is quite slim.


Taking A Semester Off

Some of you reading this may still be in the throes of active addiction, but are still plan to go back to school. Or are heading into your freshman year. If that is the case, you may want to consider holding off on college until after treatment and getting established in a program of recovery. Doing so will not only protect you from the dangers of active addiction, it will help you achieve your maximum potential when working towards your future.

Our young adult addiction treatment program is specifically designed to meet the various needs of young people. Please contact Hemet Valley Recovery Center & Sage Retreat today, being the first step in the lifesaving journey of addiction recovery.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Opioid Misuse Among Older Adults

addictionEarlier this summer we wrote about an alarming trend of overdose deaths involving older Americans. Overdose is quite common among opioid users, but people over the age of 50 are far more likely to be on several other medications. Compared to younger adults, that is. The mixture of opioids and other medication can have a synergistic effect, heightening the risk of an overdose. Opioid abuse hospitalizations involving people over 65 quintupled over the past two decades.

“The high rates of [multiple] illnesses in older populations and the potential for drug interactions has profound implications for the health and well-being of older adults who continue to misuse opioids,” Dr. Kimberly Johnson, Director for the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment, said in a news release.

When following the various developments of the opioid addiction epidemic, the news is usually concerning. Earlier this week, the Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis issued its first report. Key findings included that around 142 Americans die of an overdose every day in the United States, The Washington Post reports. The report included several recommendations that could help combat the epidemic, starting with the President declaring the opioid epidemic a national emergency. The commission believes that by doing so, it will “force Congress to focus on funding” and to “awaken every American to this simple fact: if this scourge has not found you or your family yet, without bold action by everyone, it soon will.”


Older Adult Opioid Abuse

One of the takeaways of a 20-year-long epidemic is that addiction does not discriminate. The quote from above could not be more apt. A poignant reality that will hopefully sway more lawmakers to tackle the addiction epidemic with compassion, rather than punishment. Nobody is safe from the long reach of opioid addiction.

While there have been some positive strides made regarding the epidemic, there is still a staggering amount of work to do yet. A new report from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMHSA) revealed that opioid misuse among younger has decreased (11.5 percent to 8 percent) from 2002 to 2014, HealthDay reports. Unfortunately, opioid misuse involving heroin and painkillers with adults over 50 rose from 1 percent to 2 percent in the same time frame.

Five strategies for addressing the epidemic have been put forth by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS):
  • Improving access to addiction treatment and recovery services.
  • Promoting targeted availability and distribution of naloxone.
  • Better reporting of public health data on the opioid epidemic.
  • Increasing support for research on pain and addiction.
  • Utilizing safer pain management methods.


Addiction Treatment Is The Solution

The recommendations from the HHS could do a lot of good, but it could easily be argued that expanding access to addiction treatment services will be most effective. Simply making it harder to get certain drugs only addresses a symptom of the much greater problem of addiction.

If you are an older adult struggling with prescription opioids and/or heroin, it is strongly advised that you seek help. Sooner, rather than later. The longer one puts off treatment, the greater the likelihood of premature death. Please contact Hemet Valley Recovery Center and Sage Retreat to learn more about our Older Adult Addiction Treatment Program. This is addiction treatment specifically tailored to meet the needs of people over 50 years of age.