Thursday, February 23, 2017

Police Assisted Addiction and Recovery Initiative

Last summer, we wrote at length about the Police Assisted Addiction and Recovery Initiative (PAARI). Since that time, we are pleased to report that versions of the program have been adopted all over the country. In case you were not able to read the article about PAARI, otherwise known as the “Angel Program;” it is an initiative which encourages addicts to surrender their narcotics to local authorities and, in return, they will be linked with a substance use disorder treatment center. The program, thus far, has been hailed as a great success. On Tuesday, the PAARI Facebook page posted:

“In just 19 months, over 200 police departments in 28 states have become entry points into treatment for people suffering with the disease of opioid and heroin addiction. Together with our law enforcement partners, we've placed an estimated 10,000 people into treatment.”

Addicts Exercise Blind Faith

The idea that the same people (police), whose job it was to arrest those in possession of illegal drugs, were now addicts' saving grace can be somewhat hard to wrap your head around. Nevertheless, the program has proved to be one of the most effective measures against the scourge of opioid addiction in the United States. It is a sign that addiction is no longer being viewed as a problem that we can arrest away. And it highlights the valuable role police officers can have in providing a great public service of impacting active addiction rates.

Historically, police officers were considered to be enemy “numero uno” by drug addicts, not dissimilar from how lawmakers labeled drug use in order to justify decades of imprisoning nonviolent drug offenders. However, the present situation has required both addicts and law enforcement to exercise some blind faith when it comes to one another. Rather than enemies, both addicts and cops can be allies in putting an end to the epidemic.

PAARI Saves Lives

Programs like PAARI are prime example of the paradigm shift in thinking occurring in America when it comes to addiction. If we can all agree that the disease is not a moral failing, but rather a legitimate mental health disorder, then society can come together to better address the epidemic of addiction. Through continued efforts to chip away at the stigma of mental illness, addicts will not only be “re-humanized,” they will get the help they so desperately require.

At Hemet Valley Recovery Center & Sage Retreat, we would like to commend the efforts of the various law enforcement agencies and their affiliate addiction treatment centers. The value of helping thousands of people find recovery should not be underestimated. Substance use disorder treatment was, is and will continue to be the best resource available for addicts. If you or a loved one is active in their addiction, please contact us today.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Cocaine Reappears As A Deadly Concern

The use of cocaine has been in the shadow of opioid narcotics for well over a decade. One could even argue that cocaine is hardly a concern any more, when compared to the deadly nature of opioid addiction, prescription opioids and/or heroin. It was not that long ago when crack cocaine was the primary target of police departments and federal agencies charged with addressing drug use. Today, however, you really have to search to find anything about cocaine in the era of opioids.

Cocaine use and cocaine overdoses had been on steady decline for a number of years. What's more, cocaine on its own isn't often associated with overdose deaths. With prescription opioids and heroin abuse stealing the headlines across the country, cocaine use came to be of seemingly little import. However, there is significant data to support a dramatic rise of overdose deaths involving cocaine in recent years.

Speedballing Towards Overdose 

The 2016 Drug Enforcement Administration’s National Drug Threat Assessment found that cocaine availability and abuse are showing the first signs of a possible increase in the United States since 2007. The U.S. News analysis of mortality data showed a significant increase in cocaine-related overdose deaths in recent years, according to the U.S. News & World Report. The rise in cocaine related deaths is the likely result of more and more addicts mixing cocaine and heroin together, a practice commonly referred to as “speedballing.”

“When there are no opioids involved in cocaine-overdose deaths you see an overall decline in recent years,” says Christopher M. Jones, an acting associate deputy assistant secretary with the Department of Health and Human Services. “But when you look at cocaine and opioids together, we see a more than doubling in the number of overdoses since 2010, with heroin and synthetic opioids increasingly involved in these deaths." 

Using heroin or prescription opioids can easily result in an overdose death, especially when the synthetic opioid fentanyl is involved. As was mentioned earlier, cocaine on its own doesn’t typically result in an overdose. But when you mix opioids and cocaine together… The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) Wide-Ranging Online Data for Epidemiologic Research database (WONDER) compiles information from death certificates, the article reports. After subtracting opioids from overdose data involving cocaine, researchers found that overdose deaths from cocaine stalled out. The real danger lies in the admixture.

Treating Opioid and Cocaine Addiction 

While opioids may be more dangerous than cocaine, both drugs are highly addictive and have the power to both ruin and take lives. If you are battling with addiction of any kind, the risk of overdose is very real. In today’s illegal drug market, it is extremely difficult to determine one white powder from another. Heroin and fentanyl are commonly mixed together unbeknownst to the addict. It is also possible that cocaine is being mixed with fentanyl as well.

At the end of the day, addressing one’s addiction is the best course to take to ensure that you have a future. Please contact Hemet Valley Recovery Center & Sage Retreat to begin the journey of addiction recovery.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

National Drug & Alcohol Facts Week

There are several myths about drugs and alcohol that can play a role in leading people down a dangerous road to addiction. In the age of internet media outlets, such as Facebook, many Americans now get the majority of their information from sources that are not always accurate. It can be easy to form opinions about behaviors and issues that will dictate certain choices, based off of inaccurate information. We are all susceptible to misinformation, which is why it is vital that serious efforts are made to present truthful pictures of substance use and abuse, especially when it comes to teenagers and young adults.

Teenagers are often led to believe by their friends or certain media outlets that certain drugs may be safe to use. Misconceptions that can be a slippery slope to years of heartache (or worse) later in life. With that in mind, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) launched the National Drug & Alcohol Facts Week ® (NDAFW) in 2010; with the hope of making teens and young adults more informed about mind altering substances. The hope is that NDAFW will counter the myths about drugs and alcohol young people receive from the:
  • Internet
  • Social Media
  • Television
  • Movies
  • Music
  • Friends


National Drug & Alcohol Facts Week

This week, January 23rd through January 29th, NIDA and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) have helped organize events across the country, pairing experts with high school students. Such events give teens an opportunity to ask questions about drug and alcohol use and abuse, learning how such substances affect the brain, body, and behaviors.

When young people have the facts, they are more informed and may be less likely to experiment with mind altering substances. Teenage substance use is not rare, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH). When looking at past month drug use among high school seniors: over 5 percent misuse prescription drugs, more than 20 percent use marijuana and 35 percent use alcohol.


Shatter the Myths

NIDA and the NIAAA offer a number of resources to help better inform young people during their Shatter the Myths ® of drugs and alcohol campaign. Including:
Please take a moment to watch a short video on the subject:

If you are having trouble watching, please click here.

Hemet Valley Recovery Center and Sage Retreat offers a Young Adult Addiction Treatment Program. Our team of experts realize clients in their late teens and early twenties are often unaware the use of alcohol and drugs during the developmental years can inhibit the necessary skills and abilities necessary to manage emotions, communicate thoughts and feelings, and problem-solve effectively. Continued use can ultimately frustrate efforts to build healthy relationships and develop realistic goals for a productive future by a related cycle of poor choices, impulsivity, and destructive behaviors. You can call us at 866-273-0868 for a confidential assessment.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

New Targets for Gambling Addiction

gambling addiction
Last October we cited research from over a decade ago, that had drawn parallels between gambling addiction and substance use disorders. Psychiatrist Hans Breiter conducted magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans on people playing slot machines, like the ones you find in casinos. The MRIs showed a similar picture to the scans of people using cocaine. And, just like drug addiction, gambling has the power to take everything from you; in effect, reinforcing the importance of continued research on the subject.

Breiter’s research was conducted in 2001, and it is fair to say that scientists' ability to probe the inner workings of the brain has greatly improved since that time. Hopefully, such improvements will help guide efforts to increase the effectiveness of gambling addiction treatments moving forward. The need for evidence-based treatment methods is vital, considering that more and more “baby boomers” are cashing in their 401Ks and heading to the casinos, finding themselves caught in the cycle of addiction.

New Targets for Gambling Addiction

It is no secret that casinos have a certain allure, one could hardly find an equal comparison, short of mind altering substances. People who go to casinos regularly will spend hour after hour hoping to hit a jackpot. Even after their money runs out, they will still feel a need to continue playing, and a persistent urge to find a way to do so, despite realizing the futility of continued play.

New research conducted by scientists at Imperial College London, has revealed targets in the brain that could advance gambling addiction treatment, according to a ICL news release. The researchers conducted MRI scans on nearly 20 gambling addicts, indicating heightened activity in the insula and nucleus accumbens when the participants experienced cravings. The study was published in the journal Translational Psychiatry.

Previous studies on the insula and nucleus accumbens, located in what is often referred to as our primal brain, have linked the two areas to substance use disorders. The areas are believed to be responsible for decision-making, reward and impulse control, the article reports. In gambling addicts, the researchers observed a weak connection between the nucleus accumbens and the frontal lobe, an area of the brain which plays a large role in decision making. Weak connections that could explain the link between cravings and relapse. The authors report that the frontal lobe may act as a checks and balances mechanism for the insula, leading to impulse control in healthy brains. And lack thereof in gambling addicts.

"Weak connections between these regions have also been identified in drug addiction. The frontal lobe can help control impulsivity, therefore a weak link may contribute to people being unable to stop gambling, and ignoring the negative consequences of their actions. The connections may also be affected by mood -- and be further weakened by stress, which may be why gambling addicts relapse during difficult periods in their life."

Strengthening Connections In Recovery

While there is still a lot that scientists do not understand about the biology of gambling addiction, people can, and do recover from the disease. If you are an older adult who has been struggling with gambling, please contact Hemet Valley Recovery Center and Sage Retreat. We understand that the later years of life can be a risky time when a comes to addiction, the result of changes such as retirement or loss of a spouse. Please understand that you are not alone, and at our older adult addiction treatment program, we can help you find your way on the path of recovery.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Monitoring the Future Survey On Drug Use

drug use
Preventing teenage drug and alcohol use is, and should be, a top priority among lawmakers and health experts in the United States. It is no easy task, but the mental health community knows that the longer one can refrain from using mind altering substances during the developmental stage of life, the less risk they have of battling addiction down the road. Naturally, there are always exceptions. A person can make it to their later years without abusing drugs or alcohol; only to have an injury, be prescribed opioid painkillers and develop a dependence/addiction.

There isn’t a formula for determining how or when a person will develop an addiction. To be sure, research can show us who is at greatest risk giving an indication of targets for prevention efforts. However, it is well known that addiction has the propensity to shine on anyone, regardless of age, race or gender. And it is the young people who are the greatest risks of forming an unhealthy relationship with drugs and/or alcohol.

With America in the throes of an opioid epidemic, it is easy to become fearful about what young people are experimenting with, as many drugs can lead to an overdose. However, opioids are taking lives every day of the week, it would seem young people are responding to education and prevention efforts. Researchers at the University of Michigan have released this year’s survey on teen substance use, with some encouraging findings.

Monitoring the Future

Every year, about this time, the Monitoring the Future survey is published, effectively opening a window on the mindset of young people regarding drug and alcohol use. The findings this year indicate adolescent drug and alcohol use rates have dropped dramatically, numbers that have not been seen since the early 1990’s, The Washington Post reports. Teenage cigarette, alcohol and illicit drug use are at historic lows—unparalleled since the pinnacle of the 90’s “war on drugs.”

In 2016, only 28 percent of high school seniors reported using cigarettes in their lifetime, compared to 63 percent in 1991, according to the article. The findings regarding alcohol use were just as promising, with a little more than 36 percent of high school students drinking alcohol in the previous year, compared to 67 percent in 1991. Illicit drug use (excluding marijuana) this year was low as well, with:
  • 5 percent of 8th graders reporting use.
  • 10 percent of 10th graders.
  • 14 percent of high school seniors.



Americans against the changing tides of marijuana acceptance in this country have long argued that legalization would lead to increased teen use. Which, when you think about it, seems to make some sense. However, the Monitoring the Future survey paints a different picture than you might expect. The findings indicate that teen marijuana use has stayed fairly level, despite legalization efforts, the article reports. Naturally, some experts are scratching their heads.

“We had predicted based on the changes in legalization, culture in the U.S. as well as decreasing perceptions among teenagers that marijuana was harmful that [accessibility and use] would go up,” said Dr. Nora Volkow of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). “But it hasn’t gone up.”


Moving Forward

The data mined by researchers this year is great sign. Hopefully, the mindset of the 50,000 students who were interviewed for the survey holds course. It is also important to keep in mind that many teenagers are already struggling with addiction, a mental illness that will follow them into adulthood. It is paramount that young people living with addiction seek treatment and find recovery.

If you have a young adult child who is addicted to drugs and/or alcohol, please contact Hemet Valley Recovery Center & Sage Retreat. Our young adult program is centered on the various need needs and sensitivities of the emerging adult.