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.

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.