Thursday, December 14, 2017

Misusing Sedatives Increases Risk of Substance Use Disorder

Prescription painkillers, or opioids of any kind for that matter, are often used in conjunction with other narcotics, such as benzodiazepines. People drawn to opiates, like heroin, are inclined to use sedatives and tranquilizers, i.e., Xanax, Valium, Ativan, and Klonopin. When people mix the two families of drugs, a synergistic effect takes place; meaning, the drugs amplify the euphoric feelings of one or both drugs. What’s more troubling, drug synergy increases the risk of overdose, as well.

Doctors prescribe sedatives and tranquilizers to treat anything from anxiety to insomnia. The class of drugs is effective in treating those conditions, but use comes with inherent risks, such as dependence, addiction, and overdose. One need not even mix benzodiazepines with opioids to experience an overdose, but when opioids and “benzos” are combined the dangers are far higher.

The general public doesn’t hear much about sedative abuse in the news, the result of the opioid addiction epidemic taking the spotlight. However, people prescribed drugs like Xanax (alprazolam) should be fully aware of what can happen when these drugs are used and abused. With that in mind, new research suggests that misusing prescription sedatives and tranquilizers puts people at risk of abusing more problematic drugs down the road, MedicalXpress reports. The findings were published in the journal Addictive Behaviors.


Riding a Wave of Sedatives

Researchers from the University of Michigan School of Nursing's Center for the Study of Drugs, Alcohol, Smoking and Health analyzed data from almost 35,000 American adults, according to the article. They examined people using sedatives after a one-year period (Wave One) and again after a three-year period (Wave Two). The findings, at first glance, seem promising; however, a closer look reveals concerning results which call for preventive efforts.

The researchers considered misuse as taking:
  • Too much of the medication.
  • A drug longer than prescribed.
  • Medication for reasons other than intended.
  • Someone else's prescription (nonmedical use).
The research showed that 76 percent of participants misusing sedatives and tranquilizers during Wave One stopped by the time they got re-interviewed, three-years later. Unfortunately, 45 percent of those who abused such drugs during Wave One, had developed a use disorder involving other substances by Wave Two, predominantly involving alcohol, marijuana, and opioids.

"We have to retrain clinicians to think differently," said lead author Carol Boyd, professor of nursing and women's studies. "Most drug users are not single drug users. They misuse several substances and often co-ingest them. This puts misusers at risk for overdose, and even death. We must remember that sedatives and tranquilizers contribute to overdose, especially when mixed with alcohol and opioids."


Safer… But Still Addictive and Deadly

Drugs like Xanax, the researchers point out, are Schedule IV medications; they are considered less addictive as other drugs such as opioids. However, less addictive doesn’t mean nonaddictive; the risk of abuse and addiction is high, and patients should be made aware. What’s more, detoxing from benzodiazepine addiction can be problematic; without medical supervision, people attempting to abstain are at risk of potentially fatal side effects.

If you or a loved one is misusing any form of sedative or tranquilizer, we strongly encourage you to seek help—immediately. At Hemet Valley Recovery Center and Sage Retreat, we can help you safely detox from narcotics and start you on the road of lasting addiction recovery. Please contact us today, recovery is possible.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Safe and Sober Thanksgiving

Tomorrow, we give thanks for all that is good in our lives and ask our higher power for guidance. Gratitude is paramount to long-term recovery, and we must take stock of the people who have helped us up to this point. None of us in recovery made it where we are today on our on, we all had help. If you completed an addiction treatment program, then several people at the center helped you achieve the goal of living life on life’s terms. Those of you who continue your efforts daily by way of going to meetings, working with a sponsor, and extending your hand to newcomers—know that without your family in recovery you would have already used alcohol or drugs.

While Thanksgiving is an opportunity to give thanks to those who’ve assisted your efforts, it’s also a time that requires vigilance. The snares and traps of addiction seem to rise from the depths of our minds more profoundly during important holidays. After all, certain days of the year center around sentiment and emotion, two things that can disrupt one’s program. People in recovery can go through the whole year without thinking about using, only to find an overwhelming desire to use bubbling up during the holidays.

We could compile a list of reasons why people if they are going to relapse, often do so during big holidays; although, it’s more salient to discuss how to get to the other side of the holidays without picking up drugs or alcohol. It’s worth noting, if you’ve gone through treatment and work a program, then you already have tools at your disposal that can assist you. What’s more, there are several people in your life today, undoubtedly, who are committed to supporting your efforts for recovery.


Recovery Support Network

Are you traveling somewhere for Thanksgiving? Those who answer “yes” to that question have hopefully drafted a plan-of-action for keeping your recovery intact this Thursday. You’ve made a list of meetings to attend and schedule a time each day that you are away for talking with your sponsor. Having a schedule in place is a commitment, in effect, which holds you accountable to something other than yourself. Sticking to the plan will give you a sense of accomplishment and strengthen your effort to abstain, while away from home.

Those of you staying local this Thursday should also have a plan established for continued recovery. Even though you have plans to spend time with family, you’d be wise allowing some time for going to a meeting, or several meetings if you are in early recovery. Making a point to be present at your home group at some time over the course of Thanksgiving will help protect your program from jeopardy. In recovery, going to meetings is vital; just because it’s a holiday, doesn’t mean our addiction took a vacation. The disease is just around the corner waiting patiently for your return.

Treating tomorrow like you would any other day of the year is beneficial, as well as staying close to your support network. Even if you’ve been in the program only a short time, there is probably select individuals who you have made a bond. People, like yourself, committed never to feel the way they felt in active addiction, again. Ask them what they are doing tomorrow; you may find that they need your support more than you theirs. In recovery, we have a responsibility to each other. Again, we all help each other stay on the miraculous path of recovery.


Safe and Sober Thanksgiving

At HVRC, we would like to wish each of you in recovery a happy Thanksgiving; for those of you who completed our treatment program, we’d like to share how grateful we are to be a part of your recovery. Holidays too shall pass. Please remember what you’ve learned along the way and stay close to your circle of support; if you do that, there is no reason why Thanksgiving can’t be a beautiful day.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Prescription Opioids Should Be A Last Resort

prescription opioids
Doctors rely heavily on prescription opioids for the treatment of pain, and for a good reason, they work. There is no other form of medication which dulls pains quite like opioids, but that doesn’t mean doctors must turn to opiates as a first resort. Given the state of opioid addiction in America, physicians should only turn to narcotic painkillers after all other options are exhausted.

One way to reduce American reliance on opioids is to offer patients alternative means of managing pain. Naturally, there will always be instances when prescription opioids are the right call; however, more times than not a non-narcotic alternative can be just as effective. What’s more, non-opioid alternatives don’t carry the risk of addiction.

In the United States, the majority of the more than 2 million people with an opioid use disorder began the perilous road of addiction using painkillers. In many instances, physicians prescribe drugs like OxyContin and Percocet for acute pain caused by an injury of some kind. Such people went to an emergency room and were prescribed opioids. When sprained ankles progress to substance use disorder, something’s got to give.


Opting Out of Prescription Opioids

There is a growing body of evidence supporting the belief that prescription opioids are not the only solution to pain. In fact, a new study shows that a cocktail of ibuprofen and acetaminophen provided relief relative to opiates for acute pain patients, The Los Angeles Times reports. The researchers published their report in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The research involved 416 patients suffering from acute pain stemming from a variety of injuries. While 20 percent of participants had a bone fracture, others were treated for minor injuries like sprained ankles.

Patients who received the two non-addictive, over-the-counter (OTC) drugs reported pain relief on par with participants who received prescription opioids. Emergency room doctors treating acute pain with prescription opioids was one of the driving forces of the addiction epidemic, according to the article. Interestingly, and despite the ever-mounting death toll linked to painkillers, this kind of study was a first. While Dr. David Clark, a Stanford pain medicine specialist, was not a part of the new study, he said the research, “could shape practice really very profoundly.”

“I would have thought that people who came to an ER with pain that could be managed with just pills wouldn’t be given opioids,” said Clark. “The fact that investigators thought the question needed to be answered is sort of an indicator of how oriented we are to using opioids for pain, even when simpler and safer approaches might work just as well.”

Opioid Use Disorder Treatment

If an injury led you to prescription opioids and subsequent misuse, you might meet the criteria for an opioid use disorder. Reliance on these types of drugs regularly results in addiction and overdose. At Hemet Valley Recovery Center and Sage Retreat, we can help you manage your disease and show you how to live a life of recovery. Please contact us today.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Writing in Addiction Recovery

In the field of addiction recovery, we cannot over-stress the importance of putting pen to paper. Addicts and alcoholics, naturally, have a lot going on inside in need of processing. Feelings and experiences that are so raw the thought of saying them aloud might be too much to bear or hear. Alcohol and substance use disorder is a malignant disease, left untreated it almost always cuts short the life of its host. The general public often assumes that people with such disorders use drugs and alcohol to get “high;” the actual reasons are far more philosophical. Addiction strikes at the heart of people who are unable to live life on life’s terms.

Substances are means of escape, regularly confused as a vehicle of elevation. People who use drugs struggle to cope with their existence, their place in the grand cosmic scheme. Unable to reconcile their spiritual connection with the Universe or a higher power, individuals seek the assistance of chemical influences. The result of such behaviors is, more times than not, destructive ends. However, those in the cycle of addiction can extricate themselves from the disease’s sinister clutch. It’s a difficult task to be sure, but it’s possible; if one doesn’t know the way, they need only ask for assistance.

In early recovery, those who’ve committed themselves to working a program typically find it difficult to talk about certain things. In the midst of an epidemic of tragic scale, millions of Americans have seen and experienced things which they would not wish upon their worst enemy. Coming to terms with the wreckage of one’s past is difficult, choosing to face who you were when using is rarely at the top of anyone’s list.


Pen, Paper, and Recovery

Confronting who you were before choosing a different path can, in fact, strengthen one’s resolve to move forward. Taking an inventory of our past transgressions, rather than turning one’s back to them, is part the healing process of recovery. Step Four of the 12 Steps is salient, because it drives one to do something that people with use disorder are wired to have an adverse feeling toward —the act of looking at where you might have gone wrong. The Big Book talks about the inclination:

“Alcoholics especially should be able to see that instinct run wild in themselves is the underlying cause of their de-structive drinking. We have drunk to drown feelings of fear, frustration, and depression. We have drunk to escape the guilt of passions, and then have drunk again to make more passions possible. We have drunk for vainglory— that we might the more enjoy foolish dreams of pomp and power. This perverse soul-sickness is not pleasant to look upon. Instincts on rampage balk at investigation. The minute we make a serious attempt to probe them, we are liable to suffer severe reactions.” 

Now, you may not be at Step Four personally, but if you are serious about long-term recovery, then inventories are in your future. It’s important not to get ahead of yourself or your sponsor regarding Step-work. That does not mean that you can’t begin getting into the swing of things via writing or journaling. You probably have a lot that you’d like to get off your chest. It’s likely that you are not ready to discuss certain things with your support network. Journaling is an excellent way to practice sharing, even if the person you are sharing with is yourself. The act of writing may shed some light on specific areas of your life, mainly those things that have held you back.


Addiction Treatment Light The Way

Improving your ability to process elements of your life with yourself honestly will make it easier to discuss such things with your peers or sponsor. Inauthenticity defines active addiction; recovery is the opposite. In recovery, people face their problems to work through the difficulties of life. Substance use is no longer an option in recovery, so we must learn how to cope with life without heeding the siren of addiction’s deadly call.

Are you ready to take specific steps toward living an authentic, examined life? Do you desire to break the bonds of the disease and step into the sunlight of the spirit? At Hemet Valley Recovery Center Sage Retreat, we can help light the way. While under our care we will give you the tools necessary to unlock the doors of understanding. Please contact us today.

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.