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This is Your Brain On Drugs – 20 Years Later

This is Your Brain On Drugs

Some of you are likely to remember a series of public service announcements (PSA) made by the Partnership for a Drug-Free America ® for a nationwide anti-drug campaign called This is Your Brain On Drugs. The large-scale campaign was launched in 1987, in a different era, at least with respect to how the nation viewed drug addiction and what to do about what we now know to be a form of mental health disorder. The first PSA titled “Frying Pan,” has actor John Roselius frying ups some eggs in order to show viewers what drugs do to your brain.

The second iteration of the campaign was released in 1997 and was titled again, "Frying Pan." The PSA starred actress Rachael Leigh Cook essentially using a frying pan and an egg to demonstrate to viewers the inherent dangers that accompany using heroin, and presumably other drugs as well, but heroin was singled out. The 30 second clip highlighted the fact that one’s drug use didn’t only affect the individual, but rather one’s family and one could even argue society.

If you were not born yet, too young to remember or would like to refresh your memory, please take a moment to watch the short PSA:

If you are having trouble viewing the clip, please click here.

You can probably gather that the PSA’s toed the line of the American “war on drugs.” While the PSA’s attempted to scare people away from drugs, pointing out that they would take everything from you, even your life; the makers of the ads seemed to forget to mention that before drugs took your life, they could be a cause for losing your freedom. Both the aforementioned PSAs ending with the rhetorical statement, “Any Questions?” As if frying an egg or smashing up an apartment would say everything that needed to be said about the reasons for abstaining from drugs.

Any Questions About Addiction

While Entertainment Weekly named “Frying Pan” 8th best commercial of all time, the American Egg Board, naturally, had some concerns about eggs getting an unfair reputation. At the end of the day; however, This is Your Brain On Drugs was a scare tactic, as were all public service announcements about drug use going back to Reefer Madness. They were all created under the premise that drug use was a choice; you could choose to, or not, but the power was in your hands. If you chose wrongly, you risked everything.

Even though addiction is a disease, a symptom of which include the use of drugs, drugs are still for the most part illegal under both state and Federal law. For decades, as we have written about in the past, the 40+ year war on drugs has done little to prevent and treat substance abuse. What it has done is disenfranchise millions of Americans, mostly people who were low on the socio-economic spectrum and minorities. Getting caught up in the legal system for the crime of addiction has proven to be relatively easy, getting out of it has proven to be much more difficult.

Today, in the 21st Century and still in the grips of an opioid addiction epidemic, many people's views about the war on drugs have changed. Thanks both to science and the fact that the epidemic has predominantly affected white America (both rich and poor), our society has been rethinking the true cost of the war on drugs. And, as a result, more Americans than ever are advocating for addiction treatment over prison for those caught possessing illegal drugs.

We are not out of the woods yet. There are still swaths of lawmakers who cling to draconian drug policies as the solution to addiction. Which is why the fight to end the stigma of this most serious mental illness must continue. Which has not been lost on the Drug Policy Alliance, the nation's leading organization promoting drug policies that are grounded in science, compassion, health and human rights. The organization, with the help of a 20-years older Rachael Leigh Cook, decided to make a postscript to the 1997 PSA. In the new version of the “Frying Pan,” Cook says:

The war on drugs is ruining peoples' lives. It fuels mass incarceration, it targets people of color in greater numbers than their white counter parts. It cripples communities, it costs billions, and it doesn't work. Any questions?

Please take a moment to watch:

If you are having trouble watching, please click here.

Addiction Treatment Is The Answer

Effective measures of treating addiction were helping a significant number of Americans in 1987 at the start of This is Your Brain On Drugs. It wasn’t talked about, because it did not line up with the stigma-driven narrative of addiction employed at the time. It was being treated and people were living lives in recovery, just as they are today. Fortunately, people touched by the disease today have more of an ability to seek help, without fear of prosecution.

Now the science behind addiction, and other forms of mental illness is far better understood. With each year that passes, the stigma of addiction seems to soften. Slowly, but surely, more Americans see the value of ending the war on drugs and advocating for treatment. If you or a loved one has been touched by the deadly disease of addiction, please contact PACE Recovery Center.

Addiction Treatment Begins With Surrender

addiction

There are many young men and women whose addiction has reached untenable heights. Perhaps “lows” would be more apt. Either way, when one begins down the perilous path of substance use, abuse and addiction in their teens, then by their early or mid-twenties life has already become unmanageable. If you are one such person who can identify with that path, trust and believe that it is far more common than you might think.

Societal tropes and stereotypes of addicts and alcoholics in recovery often resemble middle-aged and older people. While it is true that many do not decide to work a program of recovery until later in life, most such people would probably tell that they were definitely eligible for the need of assistance for years—if not decades earlier. Every case is different, but a significant number of people have fought and will continue to fight tooth and nail to remain in a state of denial about the severity of their condition. Even though alcohol and substance use disorders are an accepted form of mental illness.

Nobody, addict or not, wants to admit defeat. In some ways, we are programmed at an early age to continue fighting even if we know that a fight is unwinnable. While perseverance may be a sign of strength in a clearly unwinnable high school sports game given that there is no certainty that it will end the way everyone thinks, when it comes to active addiction perseverance can and often does mean premature death. Often after years of heartache and despair.

The Comparison Problem With Addiction

It cannot be stressed enough. The longer an alcoholic or addict waits to seek help, the worse it gets. Always! The problems that accompany substance abuse may be solely superficial at first, but over time the persistent fueling of the fire of addiction leads to systemic health problems—many of which cannot be reversed (e.g. cirrhosis, cancer, cognitive dysfunction and co-occurring mental health disorders).

There is a common delusion among chemically dependent people that their problem is not as bad as ‘that person's’. That It won’t get as bad, because you are somehow unique. You may be special in many ways, but when it comes to addiction, comparisons will only pave the road to becoming as worse off as the very people you compared to yourself to keep you from surrendering. The “comparison problem,” if we may, is especially pervasive among young people. It is a barrier to hope and serenity, two feelings that people living with active addiction are in short supply.

Has your use of drugs or alcohol brought about a series of negative consequences before, or in early adulthood? If your answer is yes, then we implore you to stop comparing yourself to your peers and seek assistance. It may be that your friends and family have a problem too, but you are in no position to help them until you help yourself.

Strength in Surrender

Dependence and addiction touch the lives of young people quite often. The good news is that many young men and women can, and do recover. What’s more, they can go on to live productive and fulfilling lives with a clear head on their shoulders, developing a meaningful relationship in both their program of recovery and society at large. And they have the power to be there for their peers when life throws curveballs. All such people, started with the courageous act of surrender.

Every man has inside himself a parasitic being who is acting not at all to his advantage,” wrote William S. Burroughs.

Accepting that your own will is not acting in your best interest, allows you to start the process of first seeking treatment followed by continued growth in recovery. It gives one the ability to accept help from others who have been down into the dark cave of addiction, and returned to the light via a program of recovery. It is hard to admit to oneself, “I don’t have all the answers.” But it is of the utmost importance.

At PACE Recovery Center, we work with young adult men who have been touch by the hand of addiction. The PACE Recovery Center team is made up of addiction treatment professionals, many of which have first-hand experience with addiction. We know the courage it takes to ask for help and break the cycle of this pernicious disease, and embrace the principles of a wholly new way of thinking and living. Please contact us today.

Addressing Alcohol Use Disorder In America

alcohol use disorder

The American opioid addiction epidemic has long been a top priority among lawmakers and health experts. The scourge of opioid abuse across the country has resulted in thousands of premature deaths, the result of overdoses. If you have been keeping yourself apprised of efforts to curb opioid use and abuse rates, it is likely that you have heard or read statements indicating that the opioid epidemic is unprecedented.

A claim that is spot on when it comes to the abuse of drugs. What makes opioid abuse so pernicious is the fact that technically, someone can overdose at any time. People often say that addiction is a slow death, dying spiritually at first and then expiring physically down the road—often decades later. Not so with opioid use disorder. But, if we were to step back and look at addiction in America as a whole, one could easily argue that the most severe addiction epidemic that the U.S. has ever faced and continues to struggle with is tied to a substance that is legal for adult consumption. Alcohol is a drug that is responsible for far more deaths every year than opioid narcotics, such as OxyContin or heroin. However, opioid addiction receives far more attention than AUD.

Alcohol, like prescription drugs, is a multibillion dollar enterprise. Despite the deadly nature of heavy alcohol use, the substance is both legal and is considered to be a socially acceptable for both relaxation and celebration. The substance can be acquired with little effort, there are no rules about how much can be purchased or used at one time. Suffice it to say, one can drink themselves to death without out any checks and balances. Unlike a doctor who may stop prescribing a drug because of concerns of abuse, liquor stores will sell booze to anyone with a pulse.

Alcohol Abuse Figures of Interest

A few years ago a National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions (NESARC) revealed that over 20 million Americans consumed alcohol at potentially dangerous levels. The data was analyzed by author Philip J. Cook, and used for a book titled, “Paying the Tab: The Costs and Benefits of Alcohol Control.” NESARC data revealed that 24 million adults (18 +) - drink an average 74 alcoholic beverages every week—about 10 drinks a day. A lot of alcohol to be sure.

In the following year, the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) showed that 26.9 percent of people ages 18 or older reported that they engaged in binge drinking in the past month. What’s more, the survey indicated that 15.1 million adults had an alcohol use disorder (AUD), a figure made up of 9.8 million men and 5.3 million women. While those figures are staggering, perhaps the most concerning finding was that about 1.3 million adults received treatment for AUD at a substance use disorder center in the same year.

Alcohol and Opioids—A Common Tie

If one were to try and find a silver lining regarding the American opioid addiction epidemic, you may think that it would be a difficult task considering the death toll. However, the crisis has brought to light the fact that there is a real lack of addiction treatment services in this country. A reality that brought about the passing of legislation that would, among other things, expand access to addiction treatment.

Substance use disorder treatment centers utilize effective science-based therapies to help people save their own lives. In conjunction with medication and introducing patients to recovery support groups (i.e. 12-Step programs and SMART Recovery), people with the disease of addiction can have a real chance at sustained abstinence for decades. Many facilities have started to take advantage of certain medications that can help clients after being discharged avoid relapse. One such drug is naltrexone, commonly sold under the brand name Vivitrol ® has been used for years on opioid addicts.

Naltrexone has been found to have an impact on opioid cravings, it can deter relapse by blocking the euphoric feelings produced by opioid use. One can take an OxyContin, but not get high. Interestingly, science shows that both opioids and alcohol impact some of the same receptors in the brain. So, it stands to reason that naltrexone may help alcoholics curb their drinking. Studies indicate that Vivitrol can decrease the pleasure that comes with drinking alcohol, NPR reports. If you reconsider the survey that showed only a small fraction of alcoholics go to treatment, it is vital that primary care physicians utilize the drug which research shows has been historically underused.

Alcohol Use Disorder Treatment

If you are one of the millions of Americans who has an unhealthy relationship with alcohol, we implore you to seek help immediately. The problem, as with any addiction, it will only get worse. Alcohol use disorder is a progressive disease, without treatment it can be fatal. Please contact PACE Recovery Center to begin the journey of recovery. We specialize in treating young adult males, and have helped many people start the journey of recovery. Here’s to life!

The War On Drugs: A Closer Look

Some of our older readers can probably remember when President Richard Nixon called drug abuse America’s public enemy number one. You can likely remember when the 37th President of the United States declared a “war on drugs.” Setting aside any ulterior motives or hidden agendas, Nixon’s declaration of war seemed to make sense. Drugs are both dangerous and deadly. They have the power to ruin the lives of individuals and their families. Illegal drug manufacturing, distribution and use place a heavy economic toll on society.

The war on drugs was basically a three-pronged effort to target illegal drug sales, help addicts recover from what we know now to be a mental health disorder and educate young people about the dangers of substance use and abuse. Unfortunately, now forty years later, we know that most of the Federal government’s energy was directed towards incarcerating drug offenders. Whether they be dealers or addicts. The idea, presumably, arrest those who supply drugs and those who demand them. And voilà! The problem goes away. Right?

President Nixon may have started the war, but the battle to rid the country of both drugs and addiction would continue under every Commander-in-Chief to follow. Aggressively under both Presidents Reagan and Clinton. It is important for all of us to remember that the ill-fated war on drugs in America was believed in by lawmakers on both sides of the Congressional and Presidential aisle. It was about party affiliation. Going after drug traffickers in this country and abroad, and arresting individuals for breaking laws prohibiting the use of certain narcotics, seemed like good policy. Not just in America.

Decades later, and a closer look at such a policy and the results that it achieved versus the costs (not just monetarily), one will see that what can only be described as a dismal failure presents itself. As is evident by the fact that we host the largest prison population and have the biggest drug problem on the planet—despite everyone’s best intentions. Over half of inmates in the U.S. are in jail or prison for nonviolent drug offenses.

While the last decade could be called a quasi-cease fire in the war in drugs (i.e. changes in mandatory minimum sentencing, drug courts, state-level marijuana legalization and presidential pardons for nonviolent offenders), there is still a lot more to be done with regard to putting an end to draconian drug sentencing laws. Also, with breaking the stigma of addiction, so that people who need help can get it.

A War on Drugs, Abroad…

You may have seen news reports over the last year, covering President Duterte of the Philippines. A leader who essentially declared that the punishment for both drug dealers and addicts is death. One not even be given the luxury of a trial, evidenced by suspects being gunned down on the streets. It is fair to say that the approach in the Philippines is far more severe than any war on drugs to come before. Even compared to a country with a history of being the frontline of the global war on drugs, Colombia.

In the 1980’s and early-90’s, with the help of billions of American dollars and the CIA, the Colombian government fought tooth and nail to bring down narcotraficantes (drug traffickers). With the most notable target being Pablo Escobar, who was finally brought down under Colombian President Cesar Gaviria in 1993. While that nation won a few battles, Gaviria points out that it came at great costs in New York Times op-ed published last week. With first-hand experience in such matters and a founding member of the Global Commission on Drug Policy, the former Colombian leader used the op-ed as a forum to reach out to President Duterte. Warning him about what is at stake, if his hardline approach continues.

Winning the fight against drugs requires addressing not just crime, but also public health, human rights and economic development. No matter what Mr. Duterte believes, there will always be drugs and drug users in the Philippines. But it is important to put the problem in perspective: The Philippines already has a low number of regular drug users. The application of severe penalties and extrajudicial violence against drug consumers makes it almost impossible for people with drug addiction problems to find treatment. Instead, they resort to dangerous habits and the criminal economy. Indeed, the criminalization of drug users runs counter to all available scientific evidence of what works.” Gaviria adds, “Taking a hard line against criminals is always popular for politicians. I was also seduced into taking a tough stance on drugs during my time as president. The polls suggest that Mr. Duterte’s war on drugs is equally popular. But he will find that it is unwinnable. I also discovered that the human costs were enormous. We could not win the war on drugs through killing petty criminals and addicts. We started making positive impacts only when we changed tack, designating drugs as a social problem and not a military one.”

Not Just A History Lesson

Hopefully, Gaviria sage wisdom will not fall on deaf ears, and the lives of addicts overseas may be spared. Here at home, where we do not see addicts being meted out extrajudicial punishments, we have a seen a lot of progress in recent years with regard to drugs and how those who use them are treated. In a number of cities across the country, addicts can surrender their drugs to police. Instead of being given handcuffs in return, those living in addiction are shown compassion and referred to treatment centers. A trend that we all hope will continue.

While President Gaviria’s message was meant for the President of the Philippines, hopefully it will be heeded in some degree here in America. As was emphasized earlier, there is still a lot more that can be done, that can make a real impact for the better. Last week, a Presidential Executive Order on Enforcing Federal Law with Respect to Transnational Criminal Organizations and Preventing International Trafficking was signed. Some working in the field of addiction fear that the language in the new EO might echo the draconian approaches of the past in the American war on addiction. In the NYT op-ed (unrelated to the new EO) mentioned earlier, Gaviria closed with:

A successful president makes decisions that strengthen the public good. This means investing in solutions that meet the basic standards of basic rights and minimize unnecessary pain and suffering. The fight against drugs is no exception. Strategies that target violent criminals and undermine money laundering are critical. So, too, are measures that decriminalize drug users, support alternative sentencing for low-level nonviolent offenders and provide a range of treatment options for drug abusers. This is a test that many of my Colombian compatriots have failed...”

PACE Recovery Mission

At 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.

We will continue our efforts to break the stigma of addiction.

Addiction Epidemic, Not Opioid Epidemic

addiction epidemicThe American opioid epidemic may be misleading to some people. While prescription painkillers and heroin are both addictive and carry the potential for overdose death, the U.S. is not actually in the midst of an opioid drug epidemic. We are, in fact, in the grips of an addiction epidemic. Case in point: Efforts to limit access to prescription opioids have had the effect of making it harder to acquire certain drugs, but people are still dying at unprecedented rates. Why? The answer being that the epidemic we face is not the disease of drugs, but rather the disease of addiction—a debilitating mental illness.

Remove every drug from the equation, and the mental health disorder known as addiction will live on. We could take it even further, arguing that the crisis we actually face is the epidemic of untreated addiction. And if that is the case, it is hard to compare the problem we see to epidemics of the past, such as the AIDS epidemic.

A Waxing or Waning Epidemic

The field of epidemiology, much like addiction, is not an exact science. Experts have a good understanding of both, but there are no guarantees which way things will go. Will the epidemic wax or wane, will the recovering addict continue to improve or will they relapse? Questions that are hard to answer. Attempts to curb the opioid use disorder epidemic stealing lives across the country are extensive, and multifaceted.

  • The adoption of prescription drug monitoring programs for combatting “doctor shopping.”
  • Revising provider opioid prescribing practice guidelines.
  • Expanding access to the opioid overdose reversal drug naloxone.
  • The most important effort of all, increasing access and funding for addiction treatment services across the nation.
The last effort is the most significant. It is the only tactic that addresses the root problem, rather than just the symptoms of addiction, i.e. dependence and overdose. Making painkillers harder to acquire or abuse will only serve to force opioid addicts to find their drugs elsewhere. Naloxone can save lives, but it cannot cure addiction. Treatment is the most effective measure for ending the opioid use disorder epidemic.

Hope On the Horizon

The severity of the American opioid epidemic can be most easily gauged by the death toll associated with abuse, as opposed to opioid addiction rates. If the death toll increases, efforts are not having the desired effect. On the other hand, if fewer people die in any given year, one could argue that the measures implemented have been effective. With opioid overdoses surpassing traffic fatalities, you might think that the crisis is as bad as ever. However, the big picture may tell another story altogether.

Using epidemiological models, researchers believe that there may be an end in sight. At least regarding opioid overdose death rates. A couple of years back, a group of researchers from Columbia University used what is known as Farr’s Law to develop projections regarding the epidemic. Looking at overdose death rate data from 1980 to 2011, it showed that 2016-17 would be the height of the opioid epidemic. According to the models developed using Farr’s Law, the death rate should line up with that of the 1980’s by the year 2034. However, the authors warn:
Although the method we applied originated from studies of infectious diseases, it is unknown whether Farr’s Law applies to epidemics of a non-infectious origin. It is plausible that a non-communicable disease, such as drug overdose, can follow infectious patterns...Mortality data over the next two decades will ultimately test the accuracy of our projections. If the drug overdose epidemic is indeed waning, it may imply that the intensified efforts in recent years, such as enhanced prescription drug monitoring, are working and should be continued.”


Can We See the Forest for the Trees?

It would be nice if their projections hold true. Every life saved is a step in the right direction, even if efforts fail to address the underlying cause of the epidemic—addiction. But if we accept that addiction, while in fact a disease, is something quite different than other health conditions, there is really no way of knowing how things will go. What we can bet on is that expanding access to addiction treatment is a sure way of seeing results. All other efforts are likely to only produce superficial results, merely scratching the surface of the greater problem that is an addiction epidemic.

The greatest life-saving potential can be found in treatment centers and the rooms of recovery for continued maintenance. If you or loved one is in the grips of opioid addiction, please contact PACE Recovery Center.

Addiction Family Work: A Two-Sided Problem

Addiction is a Family Disease

An addict’s net cast wide…” HBO Mini Series A Night Of, August 28, 2016
Family Work Two-sided ProblemIn five simple words, the above quote manages to capture the essence of the disease of addiction. It is a family disease, not unlike any other chronic disorder. It requires family work. It is a two-sided problem. But for some reason, an addiction diagnosis, like many mental health disorders, often carries with it elements of shame and guilt. With any health diagnosis one can experience an array of emotions: shock, terror, fear, resentment, confusion...and so the story goes. How we learn of a family member’s addiction diagnosis will vary. One might be standing in a hospital emergency department, one could receive the phone call in the middle of the night from a jail, one may find himself at a parent-teacher conference listening to someone describe their child’s unexplained behavior. Every parent has their own story. But most parents won’t share their story after receiving a final diagnosis of addiction. They will pull inward, feeling guilt, shame and fear of the unknown.

So, what steps should parents pursue to start the family’s recovery?

First and foremost, the family must understand and accept they are not alone. An estimated 21 to 25 million Americans struggle with substance abuse. Indeed, last month the U.S. Surgeon General reported that one in seven Americans struggle with substance abuse. To put that number in perspective, if you live in a neighborhood of 100 people, then 14-15 could be dealing with addiction. And each of those 15 have a story they are afraid to share. Secondly, get the facts. If you have a family primary care physician, seek their advice. If your employer offers an Employee Assistance Program (EAP), then determine what programs might be available for your loved one. Third, take a deep breath, have a family meeting and make a plan. If planning doesn’t come easy, then perhaps you need an interventionist to guide you in this process. Fourth, if an intensive primary care substance abuse treatment program or intensive outpatient treatment program are in order, then review your health insurance policy and move forward. Finally, take the first step and start to care for yourself; learn to set your boundaries. Seek out an Al-Anon meeting and understand the three “C’s”: You didn’t cause it, you can’t control it, and you can’t cure it. Work your own program of recovery and allow your loved one to work their program.

Dr. Phil helps one young man take his first step

Dr. Phil logo This past November Dr. Phil viewers were allowed to meet one young man and his parents. If you happened to tune-in, you may have been shocked to hear their story. But if you have a family member with an addiction diagnosis...then you may have been empathetic and hopeful that this family will find recovery. Here is how Dr. Phil guided the family to consider PACE Recovery Center’s multi-pronged approach to addiction and co-occurring disorders. In his own words, Dr. Phil explained:
There is an organization called PACE Recovery Center and it is a gender specific, extended care program for young men struggling with chemical dependency and behavioral health issues, such as immaturity, the inability to modulate, regulate,  predict their behavior. Whether it is neurological, psychological, or whatever. The  PACE approach utilizes a model of integrating philosophies and research and clinical practices from medical, psychiatric, psychological, social, familial and self-help communities. I mean this is a very integrated model."
If you are having trouble viewing the video, you can see it here.

Family recovery is possible…

PACE Recovery Center specializes in treating young men. We have a core philosophy to offer a place where men can delve into their underlying issues, which have caused them to resort to substance use and self-defeating behaviors. We understand that a positive attitude changes everything. Parents are encouraged to attend family therapy with their loved ones at PACE to address how addiction has impacted family members. This therapy allows family members to leave behind the guilt and shame; they are encouraged to share their story. Working with PACE Therapists and counselors, family members can learn about the disease of addiction, acquire tools to end enabling or co-dependency, and develop new healthy communication patterns in sobriety. Yes, the story goes on...

PAARI: Addiction “Angel Programs”

PAARIIt has been nearly 20 years since the beginning of the American opioid epidemic, the greatest public health crisis of modern times. With the continued overdose death rates now at an all-time high, and scores of people being denied access to substance use disorder treatment, it may be time to stop and ask some vital, albeit hard, questions to answer. And at the top of the list is: What have we learned?” Of course, that question could be succinctly answered in a number of ways, for instance: we have learned that our reliance on prescription opioid painkillers is alarming, unparalleled in any other country. We have learned that making it harder to acquire prescription opioids has the unintended effect of fueling a demand for heroin, a drug that is often stronger and cheaper than prescription opioids. Perhaps the most import knowledge gained by battling an epidemic for two decades, something that addiction professionals have been arguing for since time immemorial, is the fact that we cannot arrest our way out of the opioid epidemic—treatment is the answer.

Providing Access to Addiction Treatment

Previously we have written about the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA), a bill that was passed which aims to, among other things, provide access to addiction treatment to the millions of Americans who need it. The bill, at the end of the day, is a perfect example of what can be achieved when lawmakers put their differences aside for the good of the country. However, there are many experts who believe that the bill lacks adequate funding for all the programs the legislation calls for, leading to a letter written to Congress and Senate by the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP). The letter aims to persuade the same lawmakers who passed the bill to fully fund CARA. Hopefully, action will be taken to ensure that happens. CARA, adequate funding or not, is still a step in the right direction, a move that will surely aid some people in receiving the help they need. There is a new bill that was approved in the U.S. House of Representatives this week, known as the 21st Century Cures Act. The bill will likely be approved in the Senate as well, according to USA Today. While the bill is not without criticism, due to some glaring signs of impropriety, the legislation would provide $1 billion in new funding over the next two years for opioid addiction prevention and treatment. With 2017 just around the corner, millions of Americans are hoping to reap the benefits of both CARA and the Cures Act, but in the meantime, opioid addicts continue the fight for access to treatment. And in some cases, both lawmakers and law enforcement have come up with some novel ideas for providing treatment, and just like addiction recovery, it all starts with surrender.

PAARI: “Angel Program”

As lawmakers continue to argue over how to fund addiction treatment, in some parts of the country local law enforcement agencies have resorted to a novel idea: Encourage opioid addicts to come to the police station and surrender their narcotics without fear of punishment, in turn the police will link the addicted individuals with addiction treatment services. In 2015, officials in Gloucester Massachusetts created the Police Assisted Addiction and Recovery Initiative (PAARI), otherwise known as the “Angel Program.” The initiative was so successful that it has spread throughout the country, with 160 police-based programs nationwide, and more to follow. PAARI has released its first annual report, with some promising results:
  • More than 400 Gloucester individuals have been helped into treatment by the Police Department
  • Nationwide, thousands more have been helped by other Police Departments.
  • PAARI communities have seen a 25 percent reduction in crimes associated with addiction.
  • More than 5,000 doses of nasal naloxone have been distributed.
  • PAARI can be found in more than 20 states, working hand in hand with more than 300 treatment centers.

Working with Young Adult Men

Here at PACE, we have a multi-pronged approach to our men's addiction treatment program and philosophy because we understand that our clients are complex beings. Having a place where men can delve into their underlying issues, which have caused them to resort to substance use and self-defeating behaviors, is the core philosophy of PACE.

Total Cost of The American Opioid Epidemic

opioid epidemicIs it possible to quantify the true impact of the American opioid epidemic? The unprecedented health crisis has left people in the public and private sector scrambling to find desperately needed solutions. With each day that passes—more Americans become dependent on opioids—more people lose their lives to overdose. And while efforts to curb the scourge of opioid addiction in the U.S. have had some effect, without a paradigm shift in thinking regarding prescription opioids—the problem will only continue to disrupt the country. While it is easy for us to look at the staggering death toll to stress the seriousness of the issue, it is important that we all take stock of the societal costs of opioid addiction. With over 2 million Americans living with an opioid use disorder and over 70 people paying the ultimate price for their addiction every day, there is an exponentially greater number of family members who have been affected by the epidemic. It may be impossible to compute the amount of heartache and pain that family members will endure for years, especially if they lost someone to an overdose.

The Cost Of An Epidemic

As you might imagine, there is a heavy price tag attached to the opioid epidemic. The bulk of the cost, naturally, is tied to the burden put on the health care system—whether it be to cover insurance claims for hospitalizations or treatments, or keeping babies born with neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) stable—the overall cost of the opioid scourge is daunting to think about. In fact, new research estimates that the epidemic cost is $78.5 billion annually, Newswise reports. Of that estimate, health care accounts for about one-third (over $28 billion) of the total cost. The findings will be published in next month's issue of Medical Journal. Even when opioid use disorder does not result in hospitalization or loss of life from overdose ($21.5 billion), there are other costs to consider as well. Those who are addicted to opioids are often too sick to get to work or hold down a job. The researchers found that loss of productivity accounts for about $20 billion, according to the article. Almost two-thirds of the total economic cost could be attributed to:
  • Health Care
  • Addiction Treatment
  • Lost Productivity
"The costs that we can identify, however, do help increase our understanding of the impact of the epidemic," the researchers conclude. "These estimates can assist decision makers in understanding the magnitude of adverse health outcomes associated with prescription opioid use such as overdose, abuse, and dependence."

Worth The Cost Of Treatment

It is worth pointing out that of the more than $28 billion spent on health care, $26 billion was covered by insurance companies, the article reports. It was not that long ago that it was extremely difficult to get insurance companies to cover mental health disorder treatment, i.e. extended stays at addiction treatment facilities. While there is still a lot more that insurance companies can do to help people with addiction issues, it is good to see that insurance companies are finally insuring people with a history of addiction and paying for some of the bill to help them find recovery. Research overwhelmingly supports addiction recovery services as being the best weapon against the opioid epidemic. Prescription opioids and heroin are extremely difficult to withdraw from and the chance of relapse is especially high among opioid addicts; while those who go to a substance use disorder treatment center have the best chance of achieving sustained recovery in the long run. If you or a loved one is battling opioid addiction, please contact PACE Recovery Center to begin the journey of recovery.

Generation Found: ‘Just Say No’ Was a Slogan

generation foundIf you were an adult or a child in elementary school in the 1980’s, it is likely that you remember the saying: “Just Say No to Drugs.” It was an advertising campaign, part of the “War on Drugs” in America, designed to teach kids a way they could turn down offers from their peers to try illegal drugs. It is likely that you also remember Drug Abuse Resistance Education, or D.A.R.E., a program that was offered to students of various ages in the United States beginning in 1983. The organization, yet another tool used in this country's War On Drugs, educated adolescents on the dangers of illegal drug use and asked the students to sign a pledge that they would abstain from drugs or gangs. Both of the aforementioned efforts to prevent adolescent drug use were met with serious criticism, and were considered to be widely ineffective. While efforts to curb the use of addictive drugs by teens and young adults is crucial, the picture that has long been painted about drug use and addiction has been wholly inaccurate. In a number of ways, “Just Say No”…, D.A.R.E. and even This Is Your Brain on Drugs only served to further stigmatize addiction as being a moral failing. Today, while programs like D.A.R.E. still exist, the picture we have of addiction is quite different. As is evident by the American opioid epidemic, no matter who you are or where you came from—the risk of addiction is real. Everyone carries some level of eligibility.

Bringing Addiction Into The Light

The opioid epidemic in the United States has forced lawmakers, health professionals and the common citizen to reevaluate addiction. With thousands of people dying every year from opioid overdoses, it is clear that the nation can no longer hold onto War On Drugs rhetoric. Effective science-based, compassionate efforts are vital if we are ever going to stem the tide of addiction. The War On Drugs cannot be won, and addiction is not going anywhere. It is paramount that every tool of addiction recovery be made available to all who require them, only by helping people recover from substance use disorder will the demand for such drugs decrease. Despite all the options available for people suffering from addiction, many Americans hesitate to seek help—especially teenagers and young adults. Asking for assistance is at times viewed as accepting that you have a weakness that cannot be controlled. Those who do manage to surrender and seek treatment, often find that staying sober when they are back in the real world is an insurmountable task. They often feel that they are find their way out of the frying pan, only to land in the fire. One American community has taken a novel approach to ensuring that young people with addiction disorders, have a shot at sustained recovery.

Generation Found

‘Just say no’ was a slogan. This is a revolution. A sentiment shared by the creators of a new documentary called Generation Found. The film tells the story of a community in Houston, Texas, that developed the world’s largest peer-driven youth and family recovery community. Generation Found is the story of how a “system of treatment centers, sober high schools, alternative peer groups, and collegiate recovery programs can exist in concert to intervene early and provide a real and tested long-term alternative to the War On Drugs.” Please take a moment to watch the trailer: If you are having trouble watching, please click here. If you are in the Orange County, CA, area on August 30, 2016, there will be a showing of Generation Found at Island Cinema, at 7:30PM. You can learn more about the film here, reserve tickets, find a showing in your area or plan a showing in your area.

Addiction Recovery: Exercising Against Relapse

addictionIn 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 Relapse

In 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 Recovery

New 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 Recovery

At 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.