Tag Archives: addiction

Educating Americans About Substance Use Disorders

NCADDMillions of people around the world are currently working programs of recovery, determined to live a life free from all mind altering substances and to be productive members of society. While the nation and the rest of the world have a long way to go with regard to understanding that addiction is a treatable disease, one that should be openly discussed to break the stigmas that have long been associated with drug and alcohol use - in recent years Americans have come a long way and addiction is no longer viewed as a moral failing. The Internet has played a large role in bringing addiction out into the open, and has become a vital tool for those looking for information or help for themselves and/or a loved one. There are hundreds of organizations that are devoted to breaking the stigma of addiction, so that those who are struggling can receive the help that they so desperately need. One such organization, is the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD), an advocacy organization which has been addressing alcoholism and drug dependence since 1944 - the oldest of its kind in the nation. Last week, via a press release, NCADD announced the launching of their new website which encompasses the organization’s commitment to educating Americans about substance use disorders. The organization's goal is to inform people about the fact that addiction is treatable, preventable and millions of people do recover. The new website gives users the ability to access a wide range of information that both addicts and their loved ones can harness to make informed decisions. The NCADD site works on multiple platforms, and is an inclusive resource that people can turn to for more information about alcoholism, drug dependence and options individuals can turn to for finding recovery.
We have reconfigured the website to reach more people,” says NCADD President Andrew Pucher, “making it easier for those searching for answers about alcoholism and drug dependence to find them - regardless of what device they choose to utilize.”
In the 21st Century, those battling with addiction are fortunate to have resources as informative as the NCADD at their fingertips, which could not be more useful at a time when our nation continues to face an insidious opioid epidemic; a scourge linked to thousands of overdose deaths every year. Learning that you are not alone can often be the catalyst required for people to reach out for help in the form of treatment and/or 12 step programs. NCADD makes available a number of personal recovery stories that people can not only learn from, but relate to - the tie that binds. While every story of addiction is different, the underlying themes are the same, which are easy for any addict or the loved ones of an addict to identify with. One’s story of recovery is the common bond, recovery is not possible alone.
Personal experience provides the heartbeat of recovery,” says Pucher. ____________________________________________________________________
If you are or a loved one is struggling with a substance use disorder, please contact Pace Recovery Center.

The Use of Marijuana Has Doubled

marijuanaAs the country becomes more accepting of marijuana use, with states voting in favor of medical marijuana and recreational use, it stands to reason that more people are using the drug. Historically, research involving marijuana was limited; however, in recent years there have been a number of studies conducted on the drug. The latest study involving marijuana has found that marijuana use has doubled since 2001, with nearly 10 percent of American adults reporting use in 2013, the Oregonian reports. With the increase of use, dependence and addiction follows in its wake.
“While many in the United States think prohibition of recreational marijuana should be ended, this study and others suggest caution and the need for public education about the potential harms in marijuana use, including the risk for addiction,” the report stated.
The research showed that the percentage of people reporting marijuana dependence or abuse doubled. In 2001, only 1.5 percent reported marijuana addiction, compared to nearly 3 percent in 2013, according to the article. Researchers found that 3 out of every 10 people (nearly 7 million Americans) have a marijuana abuse or addiction problem. In the U.S., 23 states have adopted medical marijuana programs and four states have passed recreational use laws. More states are expected to follow suit, and people's perception of the drug is likely to become more relaxed. However, it is important that teenage exposure to marijuana is limited; studies show that the drug can have an impact on developing brains, the article reports. The report highlights potential problems that can arise from marijuana use, including:
  • Addiction
  • Cognitive Decline
  • Injuries
  • Psychiatric Symptoms
  • Psychosocial Impairments
  • Poor Quality of Life
  • Use of Other Drugs
  • Vehicle Crashes
The findings were published in JAMA Psychiatry. ___________________________________________________________________________ If you are or a loved one is abusing marijuana, please contact Pace Recovery Center.

The First National Public Opinion Research On Opioids

opioidsThe unprecedented spike in prescription opioid use in America has raised a number of questions with regard to how the country found itself in the grips of an epidemic. Certainly, most people who experience pain which requires an analgesic of some kind; the pain goes away and they stop taking the prescription. On the other hand, many people continue using prescription opioids long after the pain dissipates, resulting in dependence and/or addiction. Many Americans understand that the country is in the midst of a prescription drug crisis, with thousands of overdoses every year and even more people in need of addiction treatment. Some people will use prescription opioids that were prescribed for someone else, despite having the knowledge that opioids are dangerous and addictive. A new study, which may be the first national public opinion research on opioids, has found that in the past year more than one in four Americans took a prescription opioid, ScienceDaily reports. What’s more, fifty-eight percent of those surveyed say they understand that opioid abuse is major public health problem. The study was conducted by researchers at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.
"This study shows that many Americans have had direct experience using prescription pain relievers and a sizable share have misused or abused these medications themselves or have close friends or family members who have done so," says study leader Colleen L. Barry, PhD, MPP, an associate professor in the Department of Health Policy and Management at the Bloomberg School. "The seriousness of the issue has become salient with the American public."
The findings indicate that the American public may be in a unique position to pass bills that could combat the opioid epidemic, according to the article. The public could support:
  • Better medical training for safely controlling pain and treating addiction.
  • Curbing “doctor shopping” (seeing multiple doctors for the same drugs).
  • Requiring pharmacists to check identification.
"We think this is the perfect time to work on passing policies that can truly impact the crisis of prescription pain reliever abuse," says study co-author Emma E. "Beth" McGinty, PhD, MS, an assistant professor in the Department of Health Policy and Management at the Bloomberg School. "The issue has not yet been highly politicized like some public health issues such as the Affordable Care Act, gun violence or needle exchanges, so we may have an opportunity to stem this epidemic."
The findings were published in the journal Addiction. ___________________________________________________________________________ If you are or a loved one is abusing opioids, please contact Pace Recovery Center.

House Unanimously Passed Bills Aimed at Opioid Abuse

opioidsLawmakers in Massachusetts continue to spearhead an operation against the opioid epidemic devastating major cities and small towns across the nation. Massachusetts is a state that has felt the overwhelming effects of this crisis, a scourge unprecedented in our times. Lead by U.S. Rep. Joseph P. Kennedy III and U.S. Rep. Katherine Clark, the U.S. House of Representatives unanimously passed two bills devised to combat the insidious effects of opioid abuse, the Boston Herald reports. Kennedy said the unanimous support “speaks to the breadth and depth of the opiate abuse epidemic.” The bill that Kennedy co-sponsored reinstates federal funding to states prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMPs). Monitoring programs deter “doctor shoppers,” people who go to multiple doctors every month for the same types of prescriptions. While PDMPs exist in 49 states, the need for a nationwide system is necessary. The funding will also be used for drug screening and substance use disorder treatment, according to the article.
There are few people in this country who have been spared the heartbreak of watching a loved one, neighbor or friend fall victim to opiate addiction,” said Kennedy. “It’s an epidemic striking red states and blue states, small towns and big cities, neighborhoods rich and poor.”
Clark’s bill, if passed by the Senate, creates uniform standards for diagnosing and treating neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS). The syndrome occurs when fetuses are exposed to opioids, after birth they experience withdrawal symptoms which require extra medical care. The bill would become the first law to address newborns exposed to opioid use, the article reports.
Right now there is no standard for treatment with NAS,” Clark told the Herald. “This problem leads to long stays in the NICU and hundreds of millions in Medicaid dollars.”
___________________________________________________________________________ If you or a loved one suffers from opioid addiction, please contact Pace Recovery Center.

September is National Recovery Month

recovery-monthOrange County, California is well known for many things; such as its affluent communities and sandy beaches. It is also known for its large recovery community, being home to many substance use disorder treatment facilities, sober living homes and hundreds of 12-step recovery meetings held every week. People working programs of recovery make up a large part of the community; triangle and square stickers proudly adorn many a car bumper. While today and this month will be the same as yesterday and last month when it comes to working the principles of recovery, this month is a special time for many who are working a program or work in the field of addiction medicine. September is National Recovery Month, a time to recognize the countless people working towards living a healthy life - free from drugs and alcohol. If you would like to find a Recovery Month event in your area and learn more about local activities to support recovery efforts, click here. You are welcome to attend, even if you are not in recovery; the disease of addiction touches everyone in one way or another, when more people support the efforts of recovery it reduces the stigma that has long accompanied the illness. Recovery month is sponsored by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMHSA), and if you are interested in hosting an event they have a number of tools at your disposal to guide you through the process. Use these tips, guidelines, and resources to help you plan your Recovery Month event: The President issued a Proclamation endorsing National Recovery Month, and it is worth reading in full:

NATIONAL ALCOHOL AND DRUG ADDICTION RECOVERY MONTH, 2015

- - - - - - -

BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA A PROCLAMATION

Every day, resilient Americans with substance use disorders summon extraordinary courage and strength and commit to living healthy and productive lives through recovery. From big cities to small towns to Indian Country, substance use disorders affect the lives of millions of Americans. This month, we reaffirm our unwavering commitment to all those who are seeking or in need of treatment, and we recognize the key role families, friends, and health care providers play in supporting those on the path to a better tomorrow.

This year's theme is "Join the Voices for Recovery: Visible, Vocal, Valuable!" It encourages us all to do our part to eliminate negative public attitudes associated with substance use disorders and treatment. People in recovery are part of our communities -- they are our family and friends, colleagues and neighbors -- and by supporting them and raising awareness of the challenges they face, we can help eradicate prejudice and discrimination associated with substance use disorders, as well as with co-occurring mental disorders. Prevention and treatment work, and people recover -- and we must ensure all those seeking help feel empowered, encouraged, and confident in their ability to take control of their future. Americans looking for help for themselves or their loved ones can call 1-800-662-HELP or use the "Treatment Locator" tool at www.SAMHSA.gov.

My Administration remains dedicated to pursuing evidence-based strategies to address substance use disorders as part of our National Drug Control Strategy. Seeking to widen pathways to recovery, our strategy supports the integration of substance use treatment into primary health care settings and the expansion of support services in places such as high schools, institutions of higher education, and throughout the criminal justice system. In the wake of public health crises related to non-medical use of prescription drugs and heroin in communities across our Nation, my Administration has pledged considerable resources to help Federal, State, and local authorities boost prevention efforts, improve public health and safety, and increase access to treatment in communities across the country. And the Affordable Care Act has extended substance use disorder and mental health benefits and Federal parity protections to millions of Americans.

Behavioral health is essential to overall health, and recovery is a process through which individuals are able to improve their wellness, live increasingly self-directed lives, and strive to fulfill their greatest potential. During National Alcohol and Drug Addiction Recovery Month, we reaffirm our belief that recovery and limitless opportunity are within reach of every single American battling substance use disorders, and we continue our work to achieve this reality.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim September 2015 as National Alcohol and Drug Addiction Recovery Month. I call upon the people of the United States to observe this month with appropriate programs, ceremonies, and activities. IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this thirty-first day of August, in the year of our Lord two thousand fifteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and fortieth.

BARACK OBAMA

___________________________________________________________________________ If you or a loved one suffers from addiction, please contact Pace Recovery Center.

Shatter the Myths of Drugs and Alcohol

NDAFWIn January, two NIH institutes will be coming together to talk to young people about drugs and alcohol. Teenagers and young adults often have misconceptions about the effects of substance use in both the short and long term; educating them is of the utmost importance and may save lives down the road. Sponsored by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), the National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week (NDAFW) will occur between Jan. 25-31, 2016.
We are delighted that we can now fully focus on the scientific facts about alcohol as well as other drugs that are popular among teens,” said NIDA Director Nora D. Volkow, M.D. “This partnership will allow teachers and other organizers to create events that are tailor-made for the specific issues in their communities by accessing links to the needed resources for drugs and alcohol all in one place.” Just as NIAAA and NIDA scientists routinely collaborate on many issues of common concern, it’s vital that we join together in this effort to ensure that young people get the facts about how alcohol and drugs can affect them, both in the short-term and over their lifetime,” said NIAAA Director George F. Koob, Ph.D.
NDAFW was first launched in 2010, and last year there were more than 1,500 events in all 50 states. There is an online toolkit available that serves as a guide for people who would like to set up an event. The toolkit advises teens and their adult coordinators on how to:
  • Create an Event
  • Publicize an Event
  • Find an Expert
  • Obtain Scientific Information on Drugs
We are not powerless when it comes to drug and alcohol use among young people. We know that preventing substance use before it begins is the most cost-effective approach to reduce substance use and its consequences,” said White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) Director Michael Botticelli. “By raising awareness and educating young people and their families, we can help reduce drug use and the number of people affected by substance use disorders.”
___________________________________________________________________________ If you or a loved one has is struggling with addiction, please contact Pace Recovery Center.

The “Tetris Effect” On Drug Cravings

drug-cravings, tetrisBefore video games became the action packed thrillers that teenagers and young adults know today, there was a time when video games were quite rudimentary. In the 1980s millions of kids and adults alike, either had an Atari or they wanted one. Today, there are few video games from the 80’s that young people are familiar with, but practically everyone knows the game Tetris. The game was first developed in the USSR in 1984, and a version has been made available for practically every video game operating system designed since. At this point you, and perhaps Alexey Pajitnov (creator of Tetris), may be wondering what Tetris has to do with addiction? New research suggests that playing Tetris can reduce a person’s craving for drugs, ScienceDaily reports. Just playing the simple block game for 3 minutes at a time can weaken cravings by as much as one fifth. Psychologists from Plymouth University and Queensland University of Technology, Australia monitored participants’ level of craving whilst playing Tetris at random intervals throughout the day over a week long period. The researchers found that playing Tetris affected the cravings for activities other than drugs, according to the article. Playing Tetris impacted craving levels for:
  • Food
  • Coffee
  • Cigarettes
  • Alcohol
  • Sex
Playing Tetris decreased craving strength for drugs, food, and activities from 70% to 56%. This is the first demonstration that cognitive interference can be used outside the lab to reduce cravings for substances and activities other than eating,” said Professor Jackie Andrade, from the School of Psychology and the Cognition Institute at Plymouth University. "We think the Tetris effect happens because craving involves imagining the experience of consuming a particular substance or indulging in a particular activity. Playing a visually interesting game like Tetris occupies the mental processes that support that imagery; it is hard to imagine something vividly and play Tetris at the same time."
The findings were published in the international journal Addictive Behaviors. ___________________________________________________________________________ If you or a loved one is struggling with a substance use disorder, please contact Pace Recovery Center.

Personalized Feedback About Alcohol Can Reduce Drinking

binge-drinking
Karen Moskowitz / Getty Images
The consumption of alcohol is a common occurrence among college students, especially freshman - free from the nest for their first time. While many students are able to moderate their alcohol intake, there are those whose drinking gets out of hand, and can result in academic, social, and addiction problems. Naturally, limiting alcohol consumption is a top priority for faculty members on every campus across the country. New research suggests that sending students personal feedback about their drinking habits via text message and websites can reduce alcohol consumption, The Wall Street Journal reports. In-person interventions appear to reduce drinking by as much as 13 percent. Robert Leeman, an assistant professor of psychiatry at Yale School of Medicine, says that electronic interventions “dramatically increases access to techniques that have been proven to work.” The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism found that 4 out of 5 college students drink alcohol, and around half of them engage in “binge drinking” - the practice of drinking as much as you can as fast as you can. Opening up a dialogue with students about drinking practices can save lives, which is important when you consider that 1,825 students lose their life each year from alcohol-related injuries. “Most students overestimate the amount and frequency that other students are actually drinking, and research has shown that if you can correct this misperception, students’ drinking tends to decrease to be more in line with the true norm,” said study co-author Jessica Cronce of the University of Washington. In 2011, researchers from the University of Washington in Seattle published a study which indicated that electronic intervention programs were more likely than general alcohol awareness programs to reduce college drinking, according to the article. ___________________________________________________________________________ Excessive alcohol consumption is not only dangerous, it results in an alcohol use disorder. If you or a loved one is struggling with alcohol, please do not hesitate to reach out for help.

Differing Views Regarding E-Cigarettes

e-cigarettesE-Cigarettes: A Smoking Cessation Aid or A Temptation?
In a short period of time, e-cigarettes have become extremely popular, with sales growing exponentially with every year that passes. While many e-cigarette users believe that the product(s) are effective smoking cessation devices and are healthier than traditional cigarettes, medical professionals and researchers have varying opinions. A lack of governmental oversight and regulation has allowed e-cigarette sales to grow faster than research can keep up with. Without a complete and accurate understanding of e-cigarettes, many users may be mistaken in their beliefs. A new study has found that a number of former smokers see e-cigarettes a temptation, one that may prompt them to begin smoking again, Reuters reports.
Because e-cigarettes are relatively new products we are only beginning to learn about the health risks,” said senior study author Amanda Amos, a researcher at the Center for Population Health Sciences at the University of Edinburgh Medical School.
The Research
In Scotland, the researchers conducted interviews with 64 smokers. In the past year, the research team conducted 12 focus groups and 11 individual interviews with former and current smokers. The findings produced little consistency, the participants had differing views regarding the pros and cons of the devices, according to the article. The varying opinions on e-cigarettes by the participants included:
  • Some found e-cigarettes as more satisfying than traditional cigarettes.
  • Some found the devices to be less satisfying.
  • Others found e-cigarettes to be a potential threat to smoking cessation.
The findings appear to indicate that, while e-cigarettes may help people quit smoking or be used as an alternative to traditional tobacco products, the findings suggest that smokers view e-cigarettes differently than gums, patches and medicines. The findings were published in Tobacco Control.
An Outside View
This paper shows that the public’s view of e-cigarettes is far from being clear, with a great deal of ambiguity around the product and its intended use,” said Dr. Ricardo Polosa, a professor of internal medicine at the University of Catania.
Polosa wasn’t involved in the study, but he believes:
E-cigs are a much safer alternative to smoking and are intended for smokers who are unable to quit using other methods.”
___________________________________________________________________________ More research will be needed to determine if e-cigarettes are a promising smoking cessation option. Nicotine addiction is a difficult habit to recover from, and tobacco products are the leading cause of cancer. If you or a loved one struggles with nicotine addiction, please do not hesitate to reach out for help.

Low-Level Drug Offenders Deported

deport In the past several years the President, as well as a number of government officials, have highlighted the need for the end of harsh punishments with regard to low-level drug offenders. Unfortunately, both illegal and legal immigrants do not seem to be covered under that umbrella. A new report has found that around 260,000 non-citizens convicted of drug offenses have been deported from the U.S., The Guardian reports. As many as 34,000 of these deportation cases were due to charges for marijuana possession. The Human Rights Watch (HRW) report, A Price Too High: US Families Torn Apart by Deportations for Low Level Offenses, found that between 2007-2012 over a quarter million people were deported regardless of the nature of their crimes, their length of time in the U.S., or family ties to this country. Those deported included both undocumented residents as well as permanent residents holding green cards, according to the article. Last November, President Barack Obama made a promise that deportation would only be reserved for the most serious criminals. However, the HRW report indicates the exact opposite of such a promise.
“Felons not families; criminals not children; gang members [and not] a mom who’s working hard to provide for her kids,” said Obama.
Lawful permanent residents who are charged with simple possession are able to file for a cancellation of deportation, according to the report. While they may be able to win their case, deportation lawyers point out that such cases can take several months to years. In the interim, most people facing these charges are placed in mandatory detention while proceedings are pending. If deported from the United States for a drug crime, many lose their right to ever return to the country. Such acts, for crimes as benign as simple possession, only serve to tear families apart. Crimes associated with drug possession, and perhaps ultimately with addiction, affect not only the individual, but also the entire family. Addiction is a family disease. You can view the full HRW report, here.

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