Thursday, April 25, 2019

Health Complications Affecting People in Recovery

addiction recovery health complications
Men and women who find addiction recovery have an opportunity to rebuild their lives. Millions of Americans in the United States and abroad are working programs of long-term recovery. Any person who is struggling with alcohol or substance use disorder can do him or herself an invaluable service by seeking assistance.

Prolonged, heavy drug and alcohol use takes a significant toll on the human mind and body. The longer a problem persists without intervention, the higher the likelihood of developing further complications. Researchers also associate addiction with a higher risk of experiencing co-occurring mental health disorders and physical health issues.

In previous posts, we mention that more than half of people living with addiction have a dual diagnosis. Common comorbidities include anxiety, bipolar disorder, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Co-Occurring Mental and Physical Health Disorders

Dual diagnosis cases require individuals receive simultaneous treatment for each condition. Treating the addiction, while ignoring the co-occurring disorder, is likely to result in unfavorable outcomes post treatment.

Those who seek professional assistance and begin working a recovery program must continue to monitor their mental health. They need to undergo regular physical health check-ups as well. This is especially true for men and women who find sobriety later in life.

While abstaining from drugs and alcohol and prioritizing mental health is of substantial benefit, there can be lingering damage. Many alcoholics and addicts fail to prioritize healthy eating and exercise when their disease is active. Extended periods of poor diet and minimal exercise can lead to a variety of health issues, such as diabetes.

Long-term alcohol use and IV drug use are associated with several life-threatening health conditions, diseases that must be monitored following addiction treatment. For example, liver diseases, COPD, and hepatitis C impact the quality of life for many people in recovery. These conditions require regular monitoring.

Burden of Disease in Addiction Recovery

Researchers at the Massachusetts General Hospital Recovery Research Institute analyzed the effect that recovery has on addiction-related illness. Medical News Today reports that some health conditions improve, but others will persist—despite the health benefits of sobriety. The research appears in the Journal of Addiction Medicine.

"The prodigious psychological, social, and interpersonal impact of excessive and chronic alcohol and other drug use is well-characterized," said David Eddie, Ph.D., lead author of the study. He adds, "Less well-appreciated is the physical disease burden, especially among those who have successfully resolved a significant substance use problem." 

Of a sample of more than 2,000 adults in the U.S. who were in recovery, 37 percent had received a diagnosis of one or more diseases, according to the article. The conditions affecting the adults in recovery include, but are not limited to:
  • COPD
  • Diabetes
  • Heart disease
  • Hepatitis C
  • HIV
  • Liver disease
  • Tuberculosis
If the listed diseases do not receive treatment while a patient is in recovery, they can affect quality of life and reduce life expectancy, the article reports. Dr. Eddie points out that the health industry must develop better measures to assist people with use disorders and mitigate the risk of disease. Eddie offers:

“The extent to which these diseases and health conditions continue to persist for the millions of Americans who achieve recovery remains to be clarified, but this study highlights the fact that these negative impacts may continue to affect quality of life, even when people achieve addiction recovery."

Addiction Recovery Improves Quality of Life

Men and women who begin the journey of recovery are encouraged to embrace healthier lifestyles. Eating nutritional foods and developing an exercise routine helps the mind and body heal from the harmful effects of drug and alcohol use. Prioritizing annual physicals can help patients identify any conditions that present following addiction treatment, allowing for early interventions.

At Hemet Valley Recovery Center & Sage Retreat, our clients benefit immensely from receiving care in our Chemical Dependency Rehabilitation Hospital (CDRH). We can provide patients with programs and specialty services, as well as access to hospital-level diagnostic services and consultations from physician specialists.

HVRC’s unique environment allows clinicians to identify any co-occurring health disorders quickly. Our team can then administer concurrent, evidence-based treatments. Please contact us today to learn more.

Friday, April 19, 2019

Mental Health Advocates Create Docuseries

mental health docuseries
@sussexroyal instagram
Trauma is a reoccurring theme among people living with alcohol, substance use, and mental health disorders. When people lack the tools to cope with the symptoms of the trauma they are apt to make unhealthy choices and are susceptible to mental illness.

Research links Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) to various forms of substance abuse and impulse control disorders, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) reports that about two-thirds of all addicts previously experienced some type of trauma during childhood.

Traumatic events can come in several shapes and forms. An experience that is challenging for one person may not be for others. But, each person is different; environmental and genetic factors play a role in how an individual can cope.

What’s more, trauma can play a causal role in the development of various forms of mental health disorders. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, and anxiety are a few conditions that people who undergo significant hardships can face later in life.

It’s safe to say that parental loss is one of the most challenging things a child can face. For most children, their entire world revolves around their mother or father; losing one or the other is an earth-shattering experience. It is paramount that those who experience loss have access to support so that they can learn to process their trauma in healthy ways.

The Duke of Cambridge and the Duke of Sussex are two young men who had to deal with traumatic loss at a young age and had to do so in the international spotlight. So it is not surprising that Prince William and Prince Harry are using their status to help others who struggle with mental health problems.

New Documentary Series about Mental Health

An announcement came last week that Prince Harry and Oprah Winfrey are working together to create a multi-part series on the subject of mental health and wellbeing. The show, scheduled for release next year, will handle “both mental illness and mental wellness, inspiring viewers to have an honest conversation about the challenges each of us faces, and how to equip ourselves with the tools to not simply survive, but to thrive.”

Prince Harry spoke with The Telegraph a couple of years ago how he ignored his trauma and mental health for nearly two decades. The result of neglecting his mental wellbeing for so long was both anger and anxiety. He told the publication that he was “very close to a complete breakdown on numerous occasions.”

At the age of 28, The Duke began receiving counseling to help him process his grief.

Harry was 12 when his mother died tragically in a hospital following a catastrophic car wreck. Twenty-two years later the mental health advocate is doing his part to break the stigma of mental illness and encouraging people to seek help.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and the Duke and Duchess of Sussex launched a campaign about mental well-being in 2016 called Heads Together. It is a mental health initiative tackling stigma and changing the conversation on mental health.

Regarding his collaboration with Oprah, The Duke of Sussex says:

“I truly believe that good mental health - mental fitness - is the key to powerful leadership, productive communities and a purpose-driven self. It is a huge responsibility to get this right as we bring you the facts, the science and the awareness of a subject that is so relevant during these times. Our hope is that this series will be positive, enlightening and inclusive - sharing global stories of unparalleled human spirit fighting back from the darkest places, and the opportunity for us to understand ourselves and those around us better. I am incredibly proud to be working alongside Oprah on this vital series.” 

The series will premiere on Apple’s new streaming service, Apple TV+ next year.


Trauma and Addiction Recovery

At Hemet Valley Recovery Center & Sage Retreat, we understand the relationship between trauma and addiction. We offer a specialty track for individuals who work in fields that often carry the risk of injury or witnessing horrific events. First responders and military personnel take significant risks and can suffer as a result.

Those who lack sufficient coping mechanisms or access to support to learn such skills, often turn to drugs and alcohol to manage their symptoms. PTSD can be a catalyst for the formation of addictive disorders. It is crucial that men and women who struggle with trauma or addiction seek help immediately.

Please contact HVRC if you or someone you love is struggling. With the help of our highly trained staff, healing and recovery are possible.

Friday, April 12, 2019

Binge Drinking in College is Common and Dangerous

In honor of Alcohol Awareness Month, we would like to discuss college drinking. Individuals who drink too much at university are at a higher risk of drinking heavily after graduation. Provided however that alcohol use does not lead to their dropping out ahead of commencement.

Writing for the Harvard University Health Blog, Dr. Marcelo Campos considers when alcohol use is a problem. He asks:

How many times in the past year have you had five (for men) or four (for women) or more drinks in a day? A response equal to or greater than “once” identifies, on average, eight out of 10 people with AUD [alcohol use disorder]. A positive answer should trigger a more thorough evaluation in a doctor’s office, or least stimulate a reflection about one’s drinking behavior. 

Many young people consider drinking in college their right, regardless if they are of legal age. Come the weekend, hordes of young adults descend upon parties to drink the night away. Some will imbibe responsibly, while others will push the envelope. Binge drinking and college life often go hand-in-hand. That is the practice of having four drinks for women and five for men within two hours, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

Most men and women who binge drink from time-to-time will not develop an alcohol use disorder. However, a statistically significant number of young people will; intervening while in college could impel some young people to make changes or seek help.

Addressing Alcohol Use Early In Life

binge drinking in college
Alcohol use disorder affects the lives of millions of American adults, and hundreds of thousands of teenagers. It is a progressive mental illness that can have disastrous consequences if left untreated. Unfortunately, twenty-year-olds tend to chalk up heavy drinking as being a part of young adulthood. Those who may have a problem can convince themselves that all their peers have similar relationships with alcohol.

Nearly 60 percent of college students ages 18-22 drank alcohol in the past month, according to SAMHSA. Almost two-thirds of them engaged in binge drinking throughout the same period.

Brushing off blackout drinking as simply college culture is risky. Men and women may ignore the problem because they think that they are no different than other people in their 20s. The result is that AUD persists for many more years, in some cases; and, prolonged heavy drinking leads to more health problems. Research published recently in the British Medical Journal shows that fatal liver disease is on the rise, especially among young people.

As we pointed out last week, more than a third of hospital beds in the U.S. are being used to treat individuals with an alcohol-related illness. We do not highlight such startling statistic to scare young people into abstinence. Instead, we hope to encourage young adults, who think that they may have a problem, to seek professional guidance.

It is vital to keep in mind that binge drinking does not mean a person has an alcohol use disorder. Just that a large number of people with AUDs have a history of risky drinking patterns. Like Marcelo Campos, M.D., notes, those who binge drank in the last year should reflect on their relationship with alcohol and seek assistance from their doctor for evaluation.

Alcohol Use Disorder Treatment for Young Adults

Young adults whose drinking has become a problem are invited to reach out to Hemet Valley Recovery Center & Sage Retreat for support. Parents of young adult children that drink heavily are welcome to contact us as well. We offer age-specific treatment programming that caters to the unique needs of younger demographics.

At HVRC, we understand that seeking addiction treatment in young adulthood is not a simple task. However, receiving assistance now can position one for achieving their goals later in life. Please do not hesitate; take the first step by contacting our admissions staff to begin the assessment process.

Friday, April 5, 2019

Alcohol Use Disorder Symptoms and Solutions

alcohol use disorder
The month of April is the perfect time to open up a dialogue about a mental health condition that impacts millions of people. April is Alcohol Awareness Month: “Help for Today, Hope for Tomorrow.” Sponsored by Facing Addiction with NCADD, the national observance provides communities an opportunity to recognize the problem is severe and take action.

Each year, the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (now Facing Addiction with NCADD) equips community organizations with tools to raise awareness. The impact of alcohol on the fabric of American society is monumental. Alcohol use and excessive drinking are a leading cause of illness and premature death.

Alcohol addiction is the third leading lifestyle-related cause of death in the United States. Some 88,000 American deaths can be linked to excessive alcohol use. According to the organization, 40 percent of all hospital beds are being used to treat alcohol-related illness. Despite those troubling figures, alcohol remains legal for adult consumption, and that is unlikely to change.

Alcohol isn’t disappearing, therefore it’s critical that Americans have the facts, so they can make changes before excessive drinking leads to more significant issues. Moreover, communities must encourage millions of adults already in the cycle of abuse to seek assistance.

“Alcohol Awareness Month provides a focused opportunity across America to increase awareness and understanding of alcohol addiction, its causes, effective treatment, and recovery. It is an opportunity to decrease stigma and misunderstandings in order to dismantle the barriers to treatment and recovery, and thus make seeking help more readily available to those who suffer from this disease.”


What is Alcohol Use Disorder?

When most people think of problem drinking or about people who have trouble with alcohol, the word alcoholism comes to mind. The majority of Americans are familiar with the mutual-help fellowship known as Alcoholics Anonymous. It is an organization that people turn to when alcohol has a damaging effect on their life.

There are many forms of alcohol abuse. Alcoholism is a somewhat dated term that is still used by most people inside the rooms of recovery and out. Medical professionals today will not typically use the words alcoholism nor alcoholic. Doctors and addiction specialists – following Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) guidelines – use the term alcohol use disorder. There is a list of criterion to help determine the intensity of a person’s problem, i.e., mild, moderate, or severe AUD.

There is a total of eleven symptoms to help determine what type of action is required. Not everyone who drinks problematically requires treatment. For instance, someone who meets 2 or three of the criterion is believed to have a mild AUD. Those who have six or more symptoms are severe. DSM-V symptoms include:
  • Drinking more or for a longer period than intended.
  • Feeling incapable of cutting back on the amount of alcohol consumed.
  • Becoming sick for an extended time as a result of drinking too much.
  • Inability to concentrate due to alcohol cravings.
  • Inability to care for a family, hold down a job, or perform in school.
  • Continuing to drink despite problems caused with friends or family.
  • Decreased participation in activities which were once important.
  • Finding oneself in dangerous or harmful situations as a direct result of drinking.
  • Continuing to drink despite adding to another health problem, feeling depressed or anxious or blacking out.
  • Drinking more as a result of a tolerance to alcohol.
  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms.


Alcohol-free Weekend Litmus Test

AUD is a chronic, progressive mental health disease. If any of the above symptoms resonate with you or a loved one, please take action. Some individuals may be unsure of what might happen if they abstain from alcohol for an extended period. Not everyone who drinks too much is dependent on the substance. Taking a break for a period can help people learn more about their relationship with alcohol.

April 5-7, 2019, is Alcohol-free Weekend. Facing Addiction with NCADD asks Americans to abstain from alcohol this weekend to help raise awareness about the impact of alcohol. The event can also help people who are on the fence as to whether they have a problem.

Those who are unable to go without drinking for 72 hours, can benefit from calling addiction professionals or speaking with their physician.


Seeking Addiction Recovery

At Hemet Valley Recovery Center & Sage Retreat, we strongly encourage men and women who struggle with alcohol to reach out for support. Leading a productive, alcohol-free lifestyle is possible. Our Admissions and Assessment department is staffed with nurses and chemical dependency counselors who can answer questions you have about treatment and recovery.

We invite you to take the first step toward recovery during Alcohol Awareness Month. (866) 273-0868