Thursday, March 29, 2018

5 Ways to Manage Chronic Pain Without Opioids

manage chronic pain without opioids
If you’ve ever dealt with pain, especially chronic pain, then you know how hard it is to think about or do anything else. You just want to make the pain go away as quickly as possible so you can finally get relief.

This approach--pain relief as quickly as possible--can lead to an unhealthy reliance on pain medications such as opioids, which can lead to tolerance and addiction. But there are other ways to cope with chronic pain than just taking a pill. These opioid alternatives might require a bit more effort, but they can bring relief without unpleasant side effects or the risk of addiction.

1. Acupuncture

This form of traditional Chinese medicine involves the insertion of very thin, sterile needles into certain pressure points in the body, which stimulates nerve fibers and signals the central nervous system to release natural chemicals that relieve pain. According to traditional Chinese medicine, energy, or chi, flows through specific pathways in the body. When illness, pain or inflammation are present, they block energy flow. Acupuncture helps to restore the flow of energy and relieve pain.

Clinical studies have shown it’s useful in treating a multitude of symptoms, conditions and diseases, including:

  • Headaches
  • Sciatica
  • Joint pain
  • Neck pain
  • Low back pain
  • Sprain
  • Tennis elbow
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Post-operative pain

2. Chiropractic Treatment

Chiropractic is a common alternative treatment for back pain, though it can be used throughout the body. Hands-on spinal manipulation aligns the body’s musculoskeletal structure and helps the body heal itself without medication or surgery. There is substantial evidence that supports chiropractic as an effective treatment for low back pain or disability.

Manipulations help to restore mobility to joints damaged by a tissue injury caused by a fall or repetitive stress, such as tension or sitting at a desk with poor posture. It’s commonly used to relieve pain in the bones, joints, muscles and connective tissues, such as cartilage, tendons and ligaments.

3. Yoga

Chronic pain triggers changes in the brain that are linked to anxiety, depression and impaired cognitive function, but research has shown that yoga has the opposite effect on the brain and can actually relieve chronic pain.

Studies have found that chronic pain leads to changes in the volume of gray matter and the integrity of white matter connectivity. Gray matter consists of neurons and is abundant in the cerebrum, cerebellum and brainstem. White matter is the filaments that extend from gray matter and create communications pathways between various regions of the brain.

The volume of gray matter and the integrity of white matter decrease with age, but yoga has shown to offset the decrease of gray and white matter and reduce the perception of pain by volumizing gray matter and strengthening white matter connectivity.

4. Aromatherapy

Aromatherapy for chronic pain uses essential oils, which are highly concentrated extracts from plants that contain medicinal healing properties. Essential oils offer numerous therapeutic benefits that promote rebalancing and healing for the mind and body. When applied topically, essential oils are delivered to cell membranes and diffuse throughout blood and tissues, increasing immune function and circulation.

Aromatherapy can be delivered in a number of ways, including:

  • Inhalation
  • Massage
  • Baths
  • Diffusers
  • Compresses

Lavender, chamomile, rosemary, peppermint, bergamot and eucalyptus oil can reduce inflammation and stimulate circulation. While aromatherapy isn’t a proven treatment for chronic pain, there is research that supports its efficacy in reducing pain in the low back and knee, as well as chronic pain caused by surgery and multiple sclerosis.

5. Biofeedback

This self-regulatory form of therapy helps to increase awareness of pain and change physiological responses to reduce symptoms. Sensors are placed on a patient’s body while a therapist monitors brain waves, blood pressure, breathing, muscle tension, heart rate and skin temperature on a computer screen in real time. The therapist guides the patient through a series of relaxation exercises that help the patient change and control the things that cause pain. Studies on the efficacy of biofeedback have found that it provides relief for chronic pain conditions, such as:

  • Tension headaches
  • Migraines
  • Temporomandibular joint pain (TMJ disorder)
  • Arthritis

Prescription opioids aren’t the only way to reduce chronic pain. At Hemet Valley Recovery Center, our Chronic Pain Program has helped hundreds of people get relief from pain and recover from addiction. For more information about our holistic therapies and pain management alternatives, contact us at 866.273.0868.

Friday, March 23, 2018

Mental Illness Impacts College Students

mental illness
At HVRC, we treat many young adults struggling with addiction and co-occurring mental health disorders, such as depression, anxiety, and PTSD. Our team of skilled professionals stresses to clients the importance of treating the whole patient, not just the alcohol or substance use disorder. It is of the utmost importance that both conditions receive treatment simultaneously if clients are to achieve successful outcomes in the way of long-term recovery.

There has long been a debate over whether addiction precipitates co-occurring mental illness or if conditions like depression and anxiety bring about self-medication and addiction as a result. The dialectic on the subject will likely persist for decades to come, but it’s likely that both propositions are cogent. With that in mind, ensuring the treatment of mental health disorders is the vital part any discussion.

When pathologies present themselves varies from case to case; however, young adulthood is a time when people most often show signs of illness. College-age men and women regularly struggle with depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder; and, until recently, most students kept their struggle to them self. Thanks to a significant effort to encourage young people to disregard the stigma of mental illness, a more substantial number of nascent adults are speaking up and seeking assistance. This new-found reality is good news, what isn’t so great is that many institutes of higher learning are woefully unprepared to meet the demand.


Mental Illness In College

Young adults living with mental health conditions are far more likely to resort to self-medication, self-harm, and entertain suicidal ideations. Those who are attending college courses have access to campus resources that can assist young people with their disorders. However, an American College Health Association survey shows that nearly 40 percent of students dealt with symptoms of depression and 61% of students said they had “felt overwhelming anxiety” in the previous year. They also reported that their symptoms made it difficult to function at times, TIME reports. The survey results are alarming, and thankfully there is support to be found on campus. But is it enough?

A 2016 report from the Center for Collegiate Mental Health shows that the number of students seeking support on campus for mental illness rose 30 percent between 2009 and 2015, according to the article. Schools are doing what they can to meet the ever-increasing demand for support, but resources are limited. The Association for University and College Counseling Center Directors Annual Survey shows that the typical American university has a single counselor for every 1,737 students (the recommended minimum is one therapist for every 1,000 to 1,500). What’s more, much of a therapist’s time is devoted to crisis control; students don’t have access to long-term treatment options.

“A lot of schools charge $68,000 a year,” says Dori Hutchinson, director of services at Boston University’s Center for Psychiatric Rehabilitation. “We should be able to figure out how to attend to their whole personhood for that kind of money.”


Co-Occurring Disorder Treatment

If you are a young adult in college and are struggling with addiction and a co-occurring disorder, please contact Hemet Valley Recovery Center and Sage Retreat. We can help you begin the life-saving journey of lasting recovery, so that you may lead a fulfilling and productive life.

Monday, March 19, 2018

What Is PTSD and How Is It Treated?

Post-traumatic stress is a mental health disorder in which a person has difficulty recovering after experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event. It’s estimated that 7.8% of Americans will experience post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) at some point in their lives, and approximately 5.2 million Americans experience PTSD during the course of any given year.

Traumatic events include:

  • Exposure to combat, accidents, or other gruesome scenes
  • Childhood abuse
  • Sexual abuse
  • Assault
  • Being threatened with a weapon
  • An accident

Symptoms of PTSD

Post-traumatic stress disorder is characterized by four types of symptoms:

  • Re-experiencing symptoms: Flashbacks accompanied by a racing heart or sweating, nightmares and frightening thoughts are characteristic of this type of symptom. They can be brought on by a person’s thoughts and feelings or triggered by anything that is a reminder of the traumatic event, such as words, people or objects.
  • Avoidance symptoms: A person may alter his or her routine to avoid particular triggers, such as people, places, objects or situations that serve as reminders of the traumatic event. For example, a veteran may stop watching news coverage of combat scenes.
  • Arousal and reactivity symptoms: Instead of being triggered by something, reactivity symptoms, such as insomnia, hypervigilance and angry outbursts are constant and can make it challenging to function day-to-day.
  • Cognition and mood symptoms: These symptoms can be brought on or made worse by a traumatic event. Having trouble remembering significant details about the traumatic event, negative feelings about oneself and the world, distorted emotions like extreme guilt, and loss of interest can make a person withdraw from family and friends.

Risk Factors for PTSD

Anyone can develop PTSD at any age, but not everyone who lives through a traumatic event develops PTSD. It’s not clear why some people get PTSD and others don’t. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, most people won’t. Like most other mental health problems, however, it is likely caused by a combination of stressful experiences, a person’s temperament, a family history of mental health issues, and how the brain regulates the hormones and chemicals released by the body in response to stress.

Risk factors for PTSD include:

  • Witnessing or personally experiencing a traumatic event
  • Having experienced trauma earlier in life
  • A job that increases your exposure to traumatic events, such as a first responder, member of law enforcement or military personnel
  • Mental health problems, such as depression or anxiety
  • A family history of mental health problems
  • A lack of a stable support system
  • Substance abuse

How PTSD Is Treated

Because PTSD affects everyone differently, the treatment that is effective for one person might not be sufficient for another. The main types of treatment for those with PTSD include medication, psychotherapy or a combination of both.

Psychotherapy, including cognitive behavioral therapy, exposure therapy and eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR), is the primary form of treatment for PTSD. Antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications are also commonly prescribed.

If you or someone you know is affected by PTSD, it’s crucial that you are treated by a mental health professional who is experienced in treating PTSD. Proper treatment can reduce and even eliminate many symptoms of PTSD. Talk therapy and, if necessary, medication can help you learn how to:

  • Address and manage symptoms
  • Change the way they view themselves, others and the world
  • Treat the other issues associated with traumatic experiences, including anxiety, depression and substance abuse

You can’t forget the memories of a traumatic experience, but effective treatment can help you gain control over your life by eliminating or even reducing the extent to which those memories trigger symptoms.

Hemet Valley Recovery Center’s specialized First Responders Program addresses the effects PTSD has on first responders, firefighters, law enforcement, medical professionals, military personnel and others who have experienced trauma firsthand. Every HVRC client’s treatment plan is designed to address their unique circumstances utilizes a range of therapeutic modalities to help men and women recover and reclaim their lives.

We are also in-network with most major insurance providers, as well as Medicaid and TRICARE. For more information about our First Responders Program, or to verify your insurance coverage, please contact us at 866.273.0868.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

FEND Off Opioid Use Disorder

opioid use disorder
Millennials who grew up in Southern California are familiar with Vans Warped Tour, an annual event for the last 24 years. The festival is primarily a roaming music tour that showcases half pipes and professional skateboarders, from sometime in June right into August. In fact, many musicians cut their teeth in the 1990’s at Warped Tour, including Blink 182, Limp Bizkit, and My Chemical Romance. What’s more, over the years the event’s founder, Kevin Lyman, has taken the opportunity to advocate for sound causes; the overwhelming teenage audience at the festival affords a chance to talk to young people about everything from breast cancer to donating blood. This year, Lyman is focusing on the American opioid addiction epidemic.

When you consider that nearly every demographic in the U.S. has felt the impact of the opioid use crisis, you also have to acknowledge that many adolescents have already started down a perilous path toward addiction. Opioid use isn’t in most young people's sphere, like alcohol and marijuana; that isn’t to say that today’s youth aren't experimenting with painkillers and heroin. Efforts to educate young people about the risks of using OxyContin and illicit opioids is critical. The potential for overdose is exponentially high; those who manage to avoid overdose are still at risk of developing an opioid use disorder which can easily shatter young people’s dreams.

Reports indicate that 2018 is the final Warped Tour. As event organizers prepare to drop the curtain on the beloved event on August 5th, Lyman is calling on young people to FEND off opioids this summer.


Full Energy Not Drugs

Last week, Forbes writer Steve Baltin interviewed the founder of Vans Warped Tour in Costa Mesa, CA, at the shoe company's headquarters. A major topic of the discussion, among other things, is Lyman’s new initiative FEND (Full Energy Not Drugs). The new drug prevention campaign has its target on opioid use, abuse, addiction, and overdose. FEND members will be present at every stop of the tour, from Pomona to West Palm Beach, Florida.

The goal is to reach teens and young adults regarding safe use of opioids, identifying and responding to an overdose, according to the initiative's website. FEND members will also educate teenagers about where the can find help for someone struggling with a substance use disorder. Lyman tells Forbes:

“The first phase of this is an education thing. We’re finding there’s just a general lack of knowledge of what are opioids, the storage of opioids when you get hurt, and they give you something is that potentially addictive?” 

Another component of the campaign is called gamification. Lyman points out that we are living a “gaming society,” and that they can utilize games for educational purposes. FEND members will encourage Warped Tour goers to download a smartphone app that prompts users to learn, answer questions; those who participate will receive rewards. Down the road, Lyman hopes to start working with people who are already in addiction recovery.

Opioid Use Disorder Treatment

Opioid use among teenagers is a sure path to addiction. Disease progression is different for everyone, although it often develops quickly. Many people entering young adulthood are in need of assistance, those who do not receive help are at a significant risk of harm. If you are a young adult battling an opioid use disorder or have a struggling adult child, please contact Hemet Valley Recovery Center. We can help break the cycle of addiction and help you begin the journey of recovery.