It is a common saying that alcoholics drink alone—but they get sober together. If you have ever attended a 12-Step meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), there is a good chance you have heard someone say something to that effect. Whether attending 12-Step meetings to help abstain from alcohol, other mind altering substances or for any one of a hundred unhealthy behaviors, it is by and large agreed upon that the 12-Step modality of recovery has proven to be the most effective method of recovery for the greatest number of people. Millions of people across the planet have been able to break the cycle of addiction, live a healthy productive life and help others do the same by using the principles laid out in 12-Step programs. It is fair to say, that many of those same people owe their lives to such programs of recovery. The acknowledgement of which is the catalyst which compels addicts and alcoholics in recovery to help the newcomer find the miracles of recovery through sponsorship and a deep rooted community.
In the 21st Century, exercise is (for many) one of the most important aspects of their day. We all strive to both feel good and look good; and for most people achieving the aforementioned goals requires eating healthy and exercising—especially as we age. In most metropolitan areas, gyms can be found in almost every neighborhood, making it hard for even the busiest of people to find an excuse for not having a membership. In an attempt to aid people in their efforts of achieving fitness goals, there are a few devices that can be purchased that will track one’s progress, i.e. Apple Watches, Jawbones and Fitbits. By wearing such a device around your wrist, you can track a number things relevant to your health and fitness, including how many calories you are burning in a given day or how many miles you have walked. Work-out bracelets sync with your computer or smartphone, providing you with the ability to view your progress.
Exercising Against RelapseIn the field of addiction medicine, it is widely accepted that exercise is of the utmost importance—particularly for those in early recovery. Substance use disorder is often synonymous with a sedentary life; those abusing drugs and alcohol are typically not prioritizing exercise and eating healthy. It is not uncommon for people entering addiction treatment centers to be in poor physical condition—being overweight or underweight. Experts who work at substance use disorder facilities prioritize the treatment of both mind and body; there is a reason for a bifocal approach to recovery. When someone is eating poorly and their body is out of shape, they typically feel bad physically. Feeling bad physically can wreak havoc on one’s emotional state. The mind and body being connected, it is crucial that both mechanisms are in sync. For those living with the disease of addiction, having a disjointed mind and body is not a luxury they can afford. Emotional well being is paramount to protecting against relapse. Stagnation can lead to depressive states, in turn increasing the chance of thinking that a drink or drug is good idea—even when you know that doing so will only make things worse. After the detoxification process, counselors will encourage patients to work on improving one's physical condition by exercising. For clients who are unable to engage in high impact activities, addiction specialists will urge them to take up yoga. Those who heed such recommendations are likely to be stronger physically and mentally at the time of discharge—potentially being more resilient to cravings and triggers—provided however that they continue working a program of recovery.
In the Moment RecoveryNew research is being conducted to see if the use of Fitbits can help prevent relapse. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) will spend over $200,000 to provide smart devices to the participants of a study being conducted by researchers at at Butler Hospital in Rhode Island, The Washington Free Beacon reports. While the preliminary study will only include female participants, the findings could lead to the utilization of fitness trackers as a way to protect against relapse for everyone working a program of addiction recovery. The reason the study will include only females, is due to the fact that women with alcohol use disorder (AUD), by and large, report drinking to cope with negative emotions.
Relapse rates are very high in both men and women but significant gender differences emerge in the predictors of relapse,” the grant said. The NIH adds that the use of Fitbits will enable the participants to utilize the “in the moment” method to “cope with negative emotional states and alcohol craving during early recovery.”
A Healthy RecoveryAt PACE Recovery Center, our mission is to provide our clients with a safe and supportive environment to help them overcome the challenges they have experienced due to alcohol and drug abuse. We believe that incorporating sound clinical interventions and a lifestyle that encourages health and wellness, in a shame free setting that encourages accountability and responsibility, will help foster long term recovery. Relapse analysis and relapse prevention are extremely effective with clients who have substance addictions, compulsive behaviors, and mental health disorders. That is why relapse prevention is an essential component of our men’s addiction treatment program.
Recently, CNN’s Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta wrote and published an op-ed to coincide with a special report about prescription opioids. Dr. Gupta covered a number of different aspects about the state of the American opioid epidemic and expounded on how the situation became so dire. Perhaps the most interesting aspect about the article was Gupta essentially holding doctors responsible for the market share of the crisis and calling on physicians to do their part to reverse the damage. It is important to keep in mind that there are several different factors that led to the emergence of an epidemic, and while doctors did and continue to overprescribe opioid narcotics, a multifaceted approach from lawmakers, addiction experts and doctors is essential for ending the scourge that claims over 70 lives in this country every day. It is widely accepted that Americans, enabled by doctors, have become far too reliant on prescription opioids—even for pain that could be treated by opioid alternatives. What’s more, while the the vast majority of prescription opioids are written by primary care physicians, few doctors have any opioid prescribing practices training or knowledge about addiction. On top of that, there has not been a huge push from medical organizations urging doctors to acquire the requisite training. Even the American Medical Association (AMA) is resistant to having doctors trained to prescribe responsibly. Hopefully, in the near future doctors will heed the call from Gupta to be a part of the solution, rather than part of the problem. When discussing the American opioid epidemic, the conversation typically is about how bad it is; however, it is important that we take a moment to recognize the strides that have been made in the right direction.
PDMPsSeveral years ago, amidst widespread overprescribing by pain management clinics—otherwise known as “pill mills”—and rampant “doctor shopping,” the act of going to multiple doctors in a month to double and triple up on one’s prescription opioids, states began to implement what are known as prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMPs). The programs were designed to give doctors a resource for identifying doctor shoppers and to give authorities a window into which doctors are prescribing suspiciously. PDMPs were met with resistance by some doctors, and to this day there is a significant number of them who do not utilize the resource; but, drug monitoring programs have proved to be an invaluable resource. Today, 49 states have adopted a PDMP of some kind, and there is now evidence that suggests the programs are having the desired effect. In fact, new research from Weill Cornell Medical College has found that, in the states that have implemented a PDMP, a 30 percent decrease in prescriptions for opioids and other narcotics could be seen, NBC News reports. The findings were published in the journal Health Affairs.
This reduction was seen immediately following the launch of the program and was maintained in the second and third years afterward,” writes researcher Yuhua Bao and colleagues. "Our analysis indicated that the implementation of a prescription drug monitoring program was associated with a reduction in the prescribing of Schedule II opioids, opioids of any kind, and pain medication overall.”
Uncertain ConclusionsThe news is without a doubt a breath of fresh air, yet in the wake of the death of pop superstar Prince—clearly we as a nation have a long way to go. The research team believes that there could be a number of reasons for the PDMP success. The 30 percent drop in written prescriptions, according to researchers could be that PDMPs:
- Raised awareness about opioid abuse with doctors.
- Made doctors more cautious about writing prescriptions that can lead to dependence and addiction.
- Caused doctors to cut back on prescriptions knowing that they were being watched.
Addiction TreatmentCutting back on the number of prescriptions written is paramount, unfortunately opioid addicts who struggle to get their pills will more times than not turn to heroin as an alternative. Simply making it harder to get drugs doesn't mean that people will be free of addiction. It cannot be stressed enough just how vital addiction treatment services are to ending the epidemic in the U.S. At PACE Recovery Center, our qualified staff can assist you or a loved one in ending the cycle of addiction. We can show you how it is possible to live a healthy, productive life free from drugs and alcohol. Please contact PACE to begin the life changing journey of addiction recovery.
It’s likely that you may remember Martin Shkreli, the CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals, who caught the public’s attention and widespread criticism when he unabashedly raised the price of Daraprim by 5000 percent. The drug is used for treating the deadly AIDS virus. The average cost of treatment rose from around $1,130 to over $63,000, with each tablet costing $750. While it may seem unconscionable to most that a company could unethically put people’s lives at risk by hiking the price of a potentially lifesaving drug to the point of unaffordability, sadly Mr. Shkreli decision to raise the price of Daraprim is not unique when it comes to pharmaceutical companies and lifesaving treatments. Which brings us to the main focus of today’s post—the opioid overdose reversal drug naloxone.
Stemming the TideIf you have been following the ongoing story of the United States government’s policy changes for addressing the deadly opioid epidemic, then you have probably heard the calls from lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to get a handle on the situation—a scourge stealing the lives of over 70 Americans every day. Multiple government agencies, including the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) for instance, at the behest of Senators, Congressman and the White House—are working to make it more difficult to abuse prescription drugs and develop the most effective treatments for treating substance use disorders. The agencies are imploring doctors to write prescriptions with discretion, only relying on drugs like oxycodone when it’s absolutely necessary. Recently, a bill was put forward in the Senate that would impose a 1 cent tax on every milligram of active opioid ingredient in a prescription painkiller; the money generated from the tax would be used for expanding access to substance use disorder treatment. What’s more, the U.S. Senate overwhelmingly voted in favor (94-1) of the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) in March of 2016. The legislation is meant to cover a number of different facets relative to the opioid epidemic, which include:
- Expanding Prevention and Educational Efforts
- Expanding Access to Unwanted Prescription Drug Disposal Sites
- Strengthening Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs
- Expanding Access to Naloxone
The Price of LifeIt is a sad truth that a number of people will die from an opioid overdose every day; however, there are many who will also be saved by naloxone, otherwise known as Narcan. If administered in a timely manner, the drug can reverse the potentially fatal depression of the central nervous system and respiratory system caused by an opioid overdose. In recent years, and with each month that passes, more law enforcement officials and other first responders have been trained to administer the drug. States and municipalities have begun to make it easier for addicts and their loved ones to gain access to naloxone without a prescription, due to the fact that they are often present at the time of an overdose, and time is of the essence. The drug is a necessity, and with demand comes dreams of profit. In fact, the price of certain forms of naloxone has increased exponentially in the past two years, according to Politico. The year 2014 saw more opioid overdose deaths (28,000), more than any other year during the course of this epidemic. Truven Health Analytics reports that since that year:
- Kaleo Pharma’s auto-inject version went from $575 to $3,750 per two-dose package.
- Two injections of Amphastar’s naloxone doubled in price ($66) by the end of 2014.
- Two vials of Hospira's generic cost $1.84 in 2005, rising to $31.66 by 2014.