Tag Archives: addiction

Opioid Addiction Epidemic Solutions

opioid

More than 72,000 people in the United States died from accidental drug overdoses last year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). While it is difficult to quickly pinpoint the exact cause of a fatal drug overdose – prescription drugs, heroin, or synthetic opioids – opioid painkillers are one of the leading reasons. Drugs like oxycodone, hydromorphone, and hydrocodone are responsible for many deaths each year, despite efforts to rein in overprescribing and doctor shopping.

Even if a prescription opioid isn’t linked to an overdose death, there is a good chance that a victim was introduced to opiates by a physician. Deadly introductions to opioids are extremely common, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) reports that 80 percent of heroin users first misused prescription painkillers. The reasons for changing from FDA-approved drugs to street-grade heroin vary; but, it often stems from a patient no longer being able to acquire their prescriptions easily.

Anyone living with opioid use disorder – whether they’re still active or in the first 5-years of recovery – knows that in most states it’s more difficult than before to meet the demands of their disease. Why is more challenging? Because practically every state in the country has some form of prescription drug monitoring program (PDMP); many doctors have a better understanding of the disease; and, most physicians are unable to write refill after refill for opioid narcotics. Patients are now receiving smaller, less potent drugs than before and more doctors are determined to taper patients off in a timely manner.

In many cases, not all, patients will turn to the black market to acquire the drugs they desire—narcotics that will prevent painful withdrawal symptoms. However, many Americans still find ways to obtain their prescription meds and use them in dangerous ways.

Prescription Drug Monitoring Program Mandate

PDMPs exist, but few doctors rely on the life-saving tools! Each doctor gives their reasons for resistance, and such reasons vary from state-to-state. Here in California, and despite being the first state to implement a PDMP, the track record of use is nothing short of dismal.

The Controlled Substance Utilization Review and Evaluation System, or CURES, debuted in 1997; but, by 2012 less than 10 percent of providers and pharmacists had signed up for access to the database, according to a Los Angeles Times investigation. In 2012, the opioid addiction epidemic was well underway, and Californians were succumbing to overdoses at a staggering rate. Moreover, few doctors were turning to CURES to learn about their patient’s prescriptions, who prescribed the drugs, and which pharmacies filled them.

Given that doctors are in a wholly unique position to identify patients at risk of abuse, or those already showing signs of addiction, utilizing CURES is no longer up for debate. Whether a physician likes the database or not (some have complained that it is hard to use), starting next month use is mandatory, The Los Angeles Times reports. State Sen. Ricardo Lara’s SB 482 goes into effect requiring, among other things, that:

A health care practitioner authorized to prescribe, order, administer, or furnish a controlled substance to consult the CURES database to review a patient’s controlled substance history no earlier than 24 hours, or the previous business day, before prescribing a Schedule II, Schedule III, or Schedule IV controlled substance to the patient for the first time and at least once every 4 months thereafter if the substance remains part of the treatment of the patient.

Stemming the Tide of Addiction With Due Diligence

Despite being around for more than 20 years, the program has had a number of problems that have been addressed over the years. Originally described as “clunky and far from user-friendly,” the system was revamped in 2009 and CURES 2.0 was released in 2016 with a better interface, according to the article. The newer database is far from perfect and can use some improvements; even still, compulsory use of CURES will undoubtedly save lives.

California joins New York, Kentucky, and Tennessee in requiring doctors to consult a prescription drug database before prescribing. According to the article, a 2017 study showed that mandatory use of New York’s I-STOP database in 2013 led to a leveling off of prescription opioid deaths in the state.

California created the first system to track prescriptions of the strongest painkillers, but our state fell behind as the opioid crisis grew,” said state Sen. Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens), who drafted the legislation in 2015. “I wrote SB 482 to require that doctors and others consult the CURES system before prescribing these powerful and addictive drugs. This tool will help limit doctor shopping, break the cycle of addiction and prevent prescriptions from ever again fueling an epidemic that claims thousands of lives.”

Opioid Use Disorder Treatment for Men

Please reach out to PACE Recovery Center if you are struggling with prescription opioids or heroin, or your loved one is about to complete inpatient treatment and can benefit from extended care. Relying on a combination of traditional and alternative therapeutic methods, we can help you or a family member enter into a life of recovery from opiate addiction.

If you are in crisis, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741741.

Recovery Month: Behavioral Health is Essential

recovery month

Last Friday, August 31, 2018, millions of people around the globe observed International Overdose Awareness Day. The goal of the annual event aims to raise awareness of overdose, reduce the stigma of a drug-related death, and remind everyone that overdose death is preventable. In 2017, more than 70,000 Americans died of an overdose; more than 60,000 in 2016; and, over 50,000 people died of drug toxicity in 2015. The rising death rate continues even though the overdose antidote naloxone is available, and efforts are underway to expand access to addiction treatment. While several initiatives and legislative measures are helping this most severe public health crisis, there is much more work that needs to happen.

One of the most effective ways to prevent overdose and save lives is through advocating for addiction recovery. Naloxone can reverse the effects of a toxic dose of heroin or oxycodone, but, long-term recovery is the surest way of avoiding the risk of overdose. A significant facet of last week’s day of awareness is acknowledging society’s need for putting an end to stigmatizing people who use drugs. If you saw anyone wearing a silver badge or purple wristband on Friday, such people were symbolizing their commitment to this most important subject matter.

It isn’t a secret that a significant percentage of Americans still look upon people who are in the grips of a use disorder unfavorably. Earlier this year, a survey by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research shined a light on stigma in America. A majority of Americans view drug addiction as a disease that requires treatment, but fewer than 1 in 5 are willing to closely associate with someone struggling with the condition, i.e., a friend, co-worker or neighbor.

National Recovery Month

The above poll is a clear indication of stigma’s dogged persistence. Most people understand that use disorder is a treatable medical condition, and yet only one-fifth want anything to do with such people. We don’t want to imply that stigma is as pervasive as it once was, we have come a long way; however, the only way to encourage more people to seek treatment and recovery is through destigmatization of the disease.

There are useful methods of bringing a higher number of individuals around to accepting addicts and alcoholics more humanely. For one, by highlighting the achievements of the millions of Americans who have reclaimed their lives in recovery. Each day, men and women across the nation wake up and recommit themselves to doing whatever it takes to stay clean and sober. Such persons are living examples of the possibility of recovery; acquiring decades of sobriety by following the direction of those who came before is a reality for many.

September is National Recovery Month! The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Association (SAMHSA) organizes events held across the United States to educate Americans about the benefits of addiction treatment. The organization works tirelessly to get the word out that mental health services can help men and women with a mental and substance use disorder live a productive and fulfilling life. And, they are asking for your help. Those in recovery and their families are invited to share the gains made by seeking treatment and working a program. If you are interested in getting involved, please follow the link; once there, you will find “Recovery Month tools, graphics, and resources to spread the positive message that behavioral health is essential to overall health, that prevention works, treatment is effective, and people can and do recover.”

Join the Voices for Recovery

Each year, SAMHSA chooses a theme for guiding local and national Recovery Month events. This year’s theme is “Join the Voices for Recovery: Invest in Health, Home, Purpose, and Community.” SAMHSA states:

The 2018 theme explores how integrated care, a strong community, sense of purpose, and leadership contributes to effective treatments that sustain the recovery of persons with mental and substance use disorders. The observance will work to highlight inspiring stories to help people from all walks of life find the path to hope, health, and wellness.”

Addiction Treatment

Recovery Month doesn’t just revolve around propping up people who have turned their lives around with the help of addiction recovery services. The observance is also about honoring the treatment and service providers who have, and continue to help, people from all walks of life find the miracle of recovery. The Gentlemen of PACE Recovery Center would like to commend the thousands of individuals who’ve dedicated their lives to helping others find the guiding light of addiction recovery. It is worth noting that a large percentage of people working in the field of mental health care are, in fact, in recovery themselves—paying it forward.

At PACE, we specialize in gender-specific addiction and mental health treatment services. If you are an adult male suffering from alcohol, substance use, or a co-occurring mental health disorder, please contact us today. We can help you begin making the changes necessary for a life of sustained recovery.

Meth Crossing the Blood-Brain Barrier

meth

Mind-altering chemicals, like drugs and alcohol, do just that, they change your state of mind. Naturally, each drug has its own unique effect and how a person responds depends on the substance in question. Any individual with a history of alcohol or substance use disorder has a first-hand understanding of what such experiences are like; however, few people with such pasts know what a particular chemical "actually" does in the brain, or to the most vital organ.

Those who’ve undergone treatment may have a cursory understanding of mechanisms like the blood-brain barrier (BBB). The term is defined as a filtering mechanism of the capillaries that carry blood to the brain and spinal cord tissue, blocking the passage of certain substances. When a person uses a mind-altering substance, the particular drug makes its way into the bloodstream and onto the brain. While not everything that enters the bloodstream can pass the barrier, the materials that lead to use disorders do; and, can cause damage in the process of crossing the threshold.

In a fundamental sense, the BBB lets healthy things into your brain cells and prevents anything harmful, like toxins from entering. Researchers at the Harvard’s Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering say that when drugs like methamphetamine pass the barrier, the substance increases the permeability of the BBB, Motherboard reports. Meaning, other harmful toxins found in the blood may find their way across, too.

Artificial Brains On Meth

Advancements in technology allow researchers to create artificial human brains involving the integration of human cell cultures into microfluidic chip platforms, according to the article. This process may sound complicated, only understandable to scientists; however, it is possible for non-specialists to grasp the concept. The research team at Wyss are using microchips lined with living human cells which are then introduced to drugs like meth, to observe responses and stimuli. The research findings appear in Nature Biotechnology.

“Our primary reason for choosing this drug is that it is one of the most addictive drugs responsible for thousands of deaths,” writes co-lead researcher Ben Maoz. “Given this tragic statistic, it is surprising that much is still unknown. Therefore, we sought to use this novel system to unveil the metabolic effect of meth on the different parts of the [neurovascular unit].”

Please take a moment to watch a short video for a basic understanding of the process:


If you are having trouble watching, please click here.

“Just like in the brains of people who choose to smoke meth, the BBB chips started to leak,” Kit Parker, professor of Bioengineering and Applied Physics, told Digital Trends. “That’s exactly what happens when you smoke meth — and why you shouldn’t.”

Developing a more concise understanding of how narcotics interact with the human brain can have enormous implications. The research may lead to more effective methods of treating addiction, according to the article. What’s more, the findings could help scientists discover new processes of transporting beneficial pharmaceuticals to the appropriate brain targets. Lead researchers Ben Maoz, Anna Herland, and Edward Fitzgerald are developing new Organ Chip platforms applicable to neuropathology research on stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, and traumatic brain injury.

We took a game-changing advance in microengineering made in our academic lab, and in just a handful of years, turned it into a technology that is now poised to have a major impact on society,” said Donald E. Ingber, M.D., Ph.D., is the Founding Director of the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University, who was not involved in the study.

Biologically inspired engineering may have near-limitless potential when it comes to studying the impact of psychostimulants on the brain, in real time. It also means that drug research – one day – may no longer require soliciting addicts and alcoholics in the grip of use disorders to participate in studies that involve using addictive substances.

Substance Use Disorder Treatment

Please contact PACE if you or a male loved one is battling alcohol or substance use disorder. At our treatment center, we address all components of addiction and mental health. Please call to speak to an admissions counselor who can answer any questions you have about our gender-specific, extended care alcohol and drug rehab for men.

Sobriety: Making Positive Life Changes

sobriety

Aside from being a highly acclaimed novella by Franz Kafka, metamorphosis is also a word that holds particular significance for people transforming their lives via programs of addiction recovery. A definition of the noun states a change of the form or nature of a thing or person into an entirely different one, by natural or supernatural means. If that doesn’t nicely sum up sobriety, and the effect it can have on an individual’s life, then what does?

If you read the novel in school or for leisure, you probably remember that at its heart the story is about a man’s struggle for existence. If you are in recovery, you don’t have to read Kafka’s works to understand how arduous altering a single solitary thing in one’s life can be, let alone changing everything. Recovery demands a paradigm shift in thinking, or to steal a line from an even more relevant book, donning “A New Pair of Glasses.” Committing oneself to a program of long-term sobriety gives people a different perception; when the fog of alcohol and drugs lifts, you see things with clarity. When you work a program, it can completely alter your perspective, attitude, and it allows for continual growth in positive directions. A true metamorphosis, in every sense of the word!

With active drug and alcohol use behind us, we choose engagement over isolation. When Self is no longer harboring illusions of total control, one can develop a relationship with something higher. And, that something – while different for each of us – guides us both inside and out toward making the next right decision. In recovery, people have the tools to face their problems with a positive attitude; rather than recoiling from life’s curveballs, we take action. Positive Attitude Changes Everything!

Starting Over In Recovery

Nobody can deny that changing the people, places, and things in life is a difficult task. Even more challenging, is that individuals in recovery also have to change how they look at just about everything. Gone are the days of feeling sorry for one’s self; it is no longer OK to hold other people responsible for how life is today. Recovery teaches us that we have to take responsibility for our decisions and be accountable for the outcome of our choices. Equally vital, placing emphasis on staying accountable to others.

For many people new to working a program, there comes the realization that they cannot take this journey alone—just one of many critical epiphanies. When the seed of recovery is germinating, individuals have the awareness that the way life was before is no longer tenable. One must be present today, always making an effort to connect with men and women in their support network. Such people have to strive to be of service to others; individual sobriety is not mutually exclusive from collective recovery.

Early on in the quest for sobriety, men and women have to come to terms with the fact that life will never be the same. People who you once considered friends and allies, start looking decidedly less so; if recovery is to grow, pruning some of the underbrush of one’s past is a must. People’s environments need to change too; in recovery, going to a bar to catch up with friends isn’t safe. Engaging in activities that are inextricably connected to past substance use often have to go as well. In some cases, that includes places of employment.

Journey to Sobriety

While we specialize in working with men at PACE Recovery Center, there is much wisdom that we can glean from women taking the journey to sobriety. Author Kristi Coulter made a critical decision recently about the line of work she was in; a choice which many men in recovery can probably relate. Before she earned recognition for writing about her life sober, Coulter held several executive positions with Amazon. Kristi held jobs that many people could only dream of, which is why it may come as a surprise that last February Coulter quit working in the tech sector. Now, she is thoroughly committed to writing about the new quest she is on—sobriety.

Coulter got sober in 2013. Since then she has documented her life on her blog, Off-Dry, Seattle Magazine reports. With five years free from alcohol under her belt, she published a collection of essays titled "Nothing Good Can Come from This" (released August 7). She tells Woolfer in an interview that the book is about “what happens when a high-achieving, deeply unhappy fortysomething woman gives up the ‘one’ thing she really thinks she can’t live without–wine–and has to remake her entire sense of self from the ground up.” She talks about working in the high-stress tech-sector, about how alcohol use and addiction is pervasive in the industry. Like many people new to sobriety, she began penning her thoughts. An essay that she wrote was picked up and led to a book deal. Coulter says she hopes her writing will inspire others to confront their relationship with substances.

I’d love for people to think, ‘What would my life be like after I got rid of the thing that I know I don’t need but [that] I can’t seem to walk away from?’”

Addiction Recovery

At PACE, we take a dynamic approach to our men's addiction and mental health treatment program. We help clients face the underlying issues of their condition(s) and teach men how to discard self-defeating behaviors and adopt attitudes of positivity. Please contact us to learn more about how we can make the dream of recovery your long-term reality.

Addiction to Opioids and Finding Recovery

addiction

At times, the American addiction opioid epidemic appears to be an unwinnable battle. Lawmakers and public health experts continue to do everything in their power – ostensibly – to impede the trend of ever-increasing overdose death rates. Police officers and other first responders have the overdose reversal drug naloxone (Narcan) on hand. Many opioid use disorders (OUDs) and their families can acquire Narcan kits without a prescription in many parts of the country. More doctors are now exercising additional significant caution when prescribing drugs like OxyContin and Percocet. And, perhaps most vital, the states hardest hit by the epidemic are expanding access to addiction treatment. However, to everyone’s dismay, the overdose death rate continues to climb with each passing year.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued preliminary estimates for the overdose death toll in 2017, and the findings are disconcerting. In 2016, the national overdose deaths were right around 64,000 Americans, but in 2017 the number jumped 10.2 percent with overdoses killing about 72,000. The startling number is not a final count which means there is an excellent chance that the toll is even more concerning.

In spite of all the hard work of thousands of Americans, more people than ever are caught in the vicious cycle of opioid addiction. The primary driving force behind the record-setting overdose death rates is – without any doubt – synthetic opioids like fentanyl. It is worth pointing out that there are good signs that almost get lost in the noise of data, some areas are doing better. In parts of the country hardest hit by the epidemic, there are promising indicators thanks to public health campaigns and expanding access to addiction treatment, The New York Times reports. So far in 2018, it looks like the Commonwealth of Massachusetts will see a decrease in overdose fatalities.

Tackling Widespread Opioid Use

The two driving forces behind the increase over 2016 are synthetic opioid analogs, and more people are using opioids, according to the article. Brandon Marshall, an associate professor of epidemiology at the Brown University School of Public Health, would agree with the latter, he says the number of opioid users is increasing but not exponentially.

The C.D.C reports that synthetic opioid-related overdoses rose dramatically last year, whereas heroin, prescription opioid-related deaths fell. The agency says there is some evidence that fatal overdoses may have plateaued toward the end of last year, especially in the East. But, there is a reason to suspect things could get worse on the West Coast.

Chris Jones, the director of the national mental health and substance use policy laboratory, tells the NYT that drug distributors are discovering how to mix fentanyl with black tar heroin. Unlike the East Coast, the majority of heroin used in states like California is a black tarry-ish resin iteration of the drug. Black tar – experts say – doesn’t admix as well with fentanyl like the white powder heroin does found in states east of the Mississippi.

Persisting Stigma of Addiction

In 2016, a phone survey revealed that more than 2 million Americans were struggling with opioid use disorder. However, Dan Ciccarone, a professor of family and community medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, says the actual number might be closer to 4 million Americans. Why the 2-million-person discrepancy? Stigma! Many people are reluctant to share that they have a problem, even during an anonymous phone survey. Dr. Ciccarone, who researches heroin markets, adds:

Because of the forces of stigma, the population is reluctant to seek care. I wouldn’t expect a rapid downturn; I would expect a slow, smooth downturn.”

Naturally, anyone struggling with any form of addiction can do him or herself an excellent service by seeking addiction treatment immediately. While opioids are more likely to cause an overdose death than most other drugs, harmful synthetic opiates are showing up in substances other than heroin. Mixing fentanyl with cocaine, methamphetamine, and benzodiazepines is becoming more common. Unsuspecting addicts are at high risk, and the only sure way of avoiding contact with fentanyl is abstinence and working a program of recovery.

Addiction Treatment

We understand that the decision to seek treatment isn’t made lightly, and the stigma of addiction is daunting. However, those who can find the courage to seek assistance can and do recover from the impact of drug and alcohol abuse. At PACE Recovery Center, we offer clients struggling with addiction and co-occurring mental health disorders a safe and supportive environment. Our team of highly-skilled addiction professionals helps adult males overcome the challenges they have experienced due to alcohol and substance use disorders. Please contact us today to learn more about our specialized clinical treatment for men.

Recovery: Exercising Gratitude and Giving Back

recovery

With all the opioid overdose deaths occurring across the country each day, it is easy to forget that for each tragedy there is a second chance (i.e., recovery). Now that first responders and the families of addicts can access naloxone, or Narcan, with greater ease, it is possible to reverse the deadly side effects of some opioid overdoses. In the blink of an eye, a person can become a hero thanks to their quick response in administering the life-saving antidote.

Today, the majority of EMTs, firefighters, and police officers carry naloxone kits in their vehicles. In the wake of the American opioid addiction epidemic, the need for overdose reversal has skyrocketed. In recent years, the easy to use drug has become one of the essential tools among those whose job it is to come to the aid of others. What’s more, many addicts and their families can acquire Narcan with relative ease, and in some states without a prescription. Expanding access to naloxone has saved countless lives, considering that many reversals go unreported.

Those who survive a drug overdose are usually pretty shaken up and for a good reason. Walking the precipice between life and the hereafter is a traumatic experience, by anyone’s standards. One could even argue that being within a hair's breadth of perishing, is as about as close to a “bottom” as any one person can get when battling substance use disorder. As a result, many advocates for recovery seize on such an opportunity to reach people who could benefit from addiction treatment services.

An Opportunity for Recovery

While not every person’s overdose is a catalyst to seeking recovery, there are some who do find help. Many addicts are starting to understand that fentanyl exposure is becoming more and more common. Those same people are learning that naloxone isn’t always capable of bringing them back from an overdose involving dangerous synthetic opioids. And, given that many addicts experience several overdoses during their using tenure, it’s likely the odds of returning to consciousness diminish each time.

Fentanyl isn’t forgiving! It was never intended to be administered without medical supervision. What’s more, even when a person is aware that their heroin contains fentanyl, it’s difficult to gauge a safe dose. As a result, seasoned addicts are succumbing to opioid toxicity. If ever there were a time for opiate addicts to consider treatment and recovery strongly, the time is now.

Synthetic opioids are more common than ever, and experts do not expect that trend to wane in the coming years. At PACE Recovery Center, we implore each person struggling with opioid use disorder to seek addiction recovery services. Recovery is possible; recovery is life-saving!

Giving Back In Recovery

In the rooms of recovery people often talk about paying it forward. Once individuals have a foundation for building a new life they can begin making efforts to help others. Another critical facet of working a program is selflessness; being of service to other people (not just those who are in recovery) whenever possible. Little acts of kindness can have a remarkable impact on one’s life, and they can help individuals stay clean and sober. It feels good to provide unsolicited assistance to anyone, even perfect strangers.

An instance of kindness and gratitude made the news recently, involving six (6) EMTs, a recovering addict, and an IHOP. Last Friday, six emergency services volunteers were eating breakfast in Toms River, New Jersey. When it was time to pay the bill, members of the Toms River First Aid Squad learned that their check was taken care of by an anonymous woman, WSMV reports. The EMT’s receipt for $77 said: "Paid, thank you for all you do! Have a great day!" — signed: "Recovering Addict."

Alyssa Golembeski, captain of the Toms River First Aid Squad, asked the IHOP manager if they could thank their benefactor only to learn that she wanted to remain unknown, according to the article. Captain Golembeski said she doesn’t know if the anonymous woman is in recovery from opioid use disorder. But, she added that the opioid crisis is terrible in New Jersey, which made the act of kindness all the more special.

This gift was amazingly thoughtful, and brought our table of tired EMTs to tears," the squad posted on Facebook. "We are so blessed to be able to serve you and everyone else who lives and works in the greater Toms River area. Good luck on your journey of recovery!"

Opioid Use Disorder Treatment for Men

PACE Recovery Center is a gender-specific, specialized treatment for men struggling with addiction and co-occurring mental health disorders. If you are in the grips of an opioid use disorder, please contact PACE as soon as possible. We can help you make lasting recovery your reality!

Addiction Research Sheds New Light

addiction

There isn’t an alcoholic or addict who hasn’t asked him or herself, ‘why me, and not them? Why is it that when I drink, it affects me differently than most of society?’ This simple musing isn’t unique to the millions of people whose lives are turned upside down by addiction; researchers continue to probe for answers to an age-old question. What are the prerequisites for chemical dependency?

Even people with a rudimentary knowledge base of the known mechanisms for addiction understand there are many factors to consider. Three elements that are thought to play a significant part in the development of use disorders come to mind: biological, psychological, and social factors. The interaction between and an understanding of the bio-psych-social relationship helps clinicians treat those who contend with alcohol and substance use disorder.

When trying to get to the bottom of a mental illness like addiction, researchers attempt to make sense of the relationship between a person’s genetics and biochemistry; with mood, personality, and behavior; along with cultural, familial, and socioeconomic factors. All of which are worth considering, and attempting to understand these connections can help clinicians establish therapeutic targets for fostering recovery.

While making sense of the myriad factors that play a role in addiction is of the utmost benefit, such knowledge doesn’t wholly answer the question at the start of this article. It’s one thing to identify the similarities between addicts and how they differ from the general population, it is another thing altogether to pinpoint one item that all people who’ve struggled with substance abuse share. If only 15 percent of people who drink alcohol become “hooked,” mustn’t there be something under the surface consistent from one alcoholic to the next? In addiction research, whys often lead to more whys.

The Vulnerable Minority of Addiction

In short, psychiatrist Markus Heilig has a history of racking his brain about addicts and alcoholics. Helig spends a lot of time studying rats and mice, and their minds on chemicals; and he says that he and his fellow researchers have been going about it all wrong, The Atlantic reports. Markus points out that at the end of each rodent study the findings “will lead to an exciting treatment” for alcoholism. Unfortunately, Linköping University professor’s labor never bore fruit when transitioning from animal models to clinical trials; Helig became disillusioned for time, and then he made a breakthrough.

Helig excels at making rodents alcoholics; he can even treat and potentially “cure” their alcoholism. With alcohol in the cage, practically every rat or mouse develops a problem with the substance. Whereas, every human can access alcohol if they want and 85 percent don’t experience problems. Why? The answer appears to be “options.” Researcher Eric Augier, whose previous work involving cocaine and mice, gave the rodents more than just the cocaine option, adding sweet nectar to the menu. Helig, together with Augier, et al., used Eric’s technique; they gave rodents the choice of alcohol or sugar water. Eureka!

Remarkably, rodent trial after rodent trial produced results consistent with humans; only 15 percent of rats choose alcohol over sugar. Even when deterrents are in place (i.e., bitter tasting, electro-shocks accompanied doses), 15 percent of rats drank regardless.

Embedded in the criteria for diagnosing alcoholism is that people continue to take drugs despite good knowledge of the fact that it will harm or kill them,” says Heilig.

Once they were able to establish correlations between human and rodent behavior, the next task was determining why 15 percent are vulnerable to addiction. What was different in the brains of the minority?

Amygdala, GABA, and GAT3

Scientists know that there is an association between the primitive brain and addiction, and have known this for some time. Notably, the amygdala and the nucleus accumbens—regions of the brain involved in processing emotions and fight-or-flight behavior—researchers hold are underpinnings of addiction. Helig and Augier looked for gene variations in six areas of the brain thought to have a role in use disorders, according to the article. Five revealed no apparent differences; however, the researchers found something in the amygdala.

The team noticed that in the amygdala of alcoholic rats exhibited indication signs of low activity in several genes linked to a neurochemical called GABA. In the brain, particular neurons produce and release GABA into neighboring neurons to prevent them from firing. After which, the neurons producing GABA use the GAT3 enzyme to pump the molecule back into themselves for recycling. This cycle occurs in everyone's brain, but in the alcoholic’s brain something unusual happens.

Helig’s team found that the gene that makes GAT3 is much less active in the amygdala of alcoholic rats, and makes only half the usual levels of GAT3. The shortage of the pump enzyme causes GABA to accumulate around the neighboring neurons, rendering them inactive. By reducing GAT3 in the amygdala of non-alcoholic rats, Helig was able to turn them into rats that now preferred alcohol over the nectar. The researchers then looked at postmortem brain tissue samples from alcoholics and found low levels of GAT3. The study suggests GABA-influencing chemicals could lead to helping people manage their addictions.

Curing alcoholism in rats is not important,” says Helig. “What’s important is what this looks like in humans with alcohol addiction.”

Alcohol Use Disorder Treatment

The above research is very significant and will guide future research. A better understanding of the biological mechanisms of addiction could lead to new treatments that will aid counselors as they help clients cope with the psychological and social factors that can disrupt recovery. Alcohol use is a severe problem in the U.S., and research published this week shows a 65 percent increase in deaths from cirrhosis of the liver in the U.S. since 1999. What’s more, the most significant growth is among millennials; cirrhosis-related deaths are rising 10 percent a year among people aged 25 to 34.

Please contact PACE Recovery Center to start the process of healing if you are a young adult male living with an alcohol use disorder. Our gender-specific, addiction treatment center for men is the perfect place to begin the life-long journey of recovery.

Taking Addiction Recovery to New Heights

addiction

Abstaining from drugs and alcohol is a crucial facet of addiction recovery. In order to turn your life around you must exercise commitment and fortitude; sticking to a program is trying at times, and the slightest of obstacles can place your recovery in jeopardy. It is vital to remember—at any stage in a person’s quest for self-care—that the use of mind-altering substances is but a symptom of a more significant issue: an inability to take life as it comes, essentially. Take away the chemicals, and there still exist multiple aspects of one’s life that lead a person to begin looking for an antidote to the issue of Self.

More than half of people living with use disorders have a dual diagnosis, which means they are contending with conditions like depression, bipolar disorder, and anxiety. When psychological comorbidity is a factor, individuals seeking recovery will find achieving their goals next to impossible unless the co-occurring illness is addressed along with the addiction. The good news is that people who seek treatment for alcohol and substance use have an opportunity to deal with every aspect of their mental health. At the time of discharge, clients are better equipped to manage their depression for instance, through utilizing tools to help cope with their symptoms.

People who do the work in treatment will find that they no longer need to rely on their old methods for coping with life. With continued professional therapy, participation in a program of recovery (i.e., 12 Steps or SMART Recovery®), and an influential group of peers to support you along the way, long-term recovery is made possible. Of course, people can have all the things mentioned above and still run into problems, particularly in the first months after treatment.

Helping Recovery Along

Those who take measures to go above and beyond, whenever possible, position themselves not only to make progress but to make it last. If you have completed an inpatient or outpatient treatment program, then you have an excellent foundation for building a new life. In treatment, you learned that you will always be a work in progress; and, what you do moving forward and every decision that you make must be in service to your mental, physical, and spiritual well-being. The days of selfish and self-centeredness and self-harm and self-defeating behaviors have to be behind you, if the seed of recovery is to grow.

In the early days, weeks, and months of working a program, one must face difficult feelings that arise head on without chemical assistance. In treatment, many safeguards keep dangerous types of thinking in check. Being surrounded by people working toward similar goals and a team of addiction professionals—many of whom are themselves in recovery—act as safeguards to acting on cravings and triggers. After treatment, one must be quick to replicate the layers of support provided while in rehab.

In whichever modality (program) you subscribe to, go to a meeting and put yourself out there as soon as you can after rehab. Introduce yourself to people before and after the meeting. Ask those who you meet if you can get to know them better over coffee, for example. Get phone numbers, use them, and develop relationships with like-minded people. Those same individuals may one day talk you out of a relapse, which is nothing short of saving your life.

Service Gets You Out of Your “Self”

Going to meetings is crucial and fostering relationships is critical, but being of service to others can take your program to a higher plane. Addicts and alcoholics are prone to get lost in their head. If people in recovery stay busy in productive ways, they are less likely to harp on the past or spend too much time dreaming of a future yet to arrive. Being present is a pillar of addiction recovery! With that in mind, helping others is an exceptional method for staying in the here-and-now.

People who work a program glean quickly that service is invaluable to recovery. Meetings offer service opportunities, of course, but you can be of help to your peers in other ways, too. Merely talking to someone at a meeting who has less time than you, could be a move that keeps that person from acting on thoughts of using. Assisting someone with their “service commitment” is another way to affect change in your peers' lives. Providing unsolicited assistance is a useful way to comport yourself at meetings. What’s more, it feels wonderful to know that you have made other people’s day just a little bit brighter; a realization that makes you worry less about things in life that are out of your control.

You aid the greater community if time permits it, by looking for local volunteer opportunities. Houses of worship and community centers are ideal places to find ways you can help others. In the process of volunteering, you will have less time to worry about things that cannot change. Along the way, please remember to trust in what you were taught in treatment — trust in the process.

Addiction Treatment and Lasting Recovery

PACE Recovery Center, located in Huntington Beach, CA, is the ideal place to begin the life-saving journey of addiction recovery. We offer gender-specific treatment to men struggling with use disorders and co-occurring mental health conditions who would like to overcome the devastating effects of drugs and alcohol and lead a meaningful and productive life.

Recovery Boys: Young Men Living With Opioid Use Disorder

Recovery Boys

Beyond drugs and alcohol, there is a meaningful life to be had for anyone provided however they are willing to make significant changes. We know this, we have seen it first hand at PACE Recovery Center; each year we help young men pull themselves out of the depths of despair and embrace a wholly new way of living. Males whose prospects for the future were exceedingly dim just a short time ago are today committed to doing whatever it takes to keep their disease at bay. Those same men are living examples of the power of recovery, and they serve as an inspiration to all who are interested in following a similar path.

When scrolling through news feeds of addiction-related topics, it can be easy to adopt the opinion that recovery is nearly impossible. Such is especially for some people when they see headlines about the almost two-decade-long opioid addiction epidemic, a crisis that has shattered families and stolen the lives of both young and old alike. With over 100 Americans perishing from opioid-related causes every day, and another 2.1 million people whose next use could be their last, it can be easy to become discouraged.

It is vital we balance the scales and dispel myths about addiction and recovery. And, the general public should know that for every tragic story, there is one of hope; with the help of detox facilities, treatment centers, and a daily program, men and women can persevere. This most deadly illness has a weakness, that of community, compassion, and empathy; working together with those who came before, people can overcome use disorders and find peace and serenity.

Recovery Boys

Encouraging people to take the leap from substance use to recovery isn’t simple, addiction has a way of persuading people to act in ways counter to their best interest. With that in mind, it helps if addicts first believe that recovery is possible and one way to accomplish the task of encouraging individuals to seek treatment is to show them stories of success. Documentary filmmaker and director, Elaine McMillion Sheldon, has made it her mission to light the way toward healing for many young men still “out there.” In her latest film, “Recovery Boys,” Sheldon follows four young men living with opioid use disorder as they chart a path out of the dark cave of addiction.

If you are familiar with her prior work about the opioid epidemic, “Heroin(e),” then you would likely agree that Sheldon aims to erode the stigma of addiction. “Heroin(e)” follows three women in Huntington, West Virginia, working on the frontlines of the epidemic. Some call Huntington the “overdose capital of the United States!" If you have not seen the Oscar-nominated film, you can stream it on Netflix.

While the spotlight focuses on empathetic people trying to save the lives of addicts in “Heroin(e),” Sheldon turns the lens on young men who do not want opioid addiction to be the end of their story in “Recovery Boys.” Like most people in early recovery, the four human subjects in Sheldon’s new film have many obstacles ahead, but watching them go through the process may inspire others to embark on similar journeys.

I make this film not to victimize, pity or make excuses for individuals, but to uplift the stories of people who are actively trying to make change, no matter how big or small,” Sheldon said in a statement.

Please take a moment to watch the trailer:


If you are having trouble watching, please click here.

Opioid Use Disorder Treatment for Men

Many young men across the country believe that recovery is not an option. Some of those same people give recovery a go for a time only to relapse; when that happens, it’s easy to resign oneself to negative lines of thought about the prospect of change. Becoming discouraged is understandable, but it shouldn’t be an excuse to give up on recovery altogether. The fact is that there are thousands of compassionate people working in the field of addiction medicine, many of whom are healing from addiction too, who are committed to helping others adopt a program of recovery. Mental illness is treatable; we can break the bonds of the disease, and long-term recovery is achievable. Although to achieve the above ends, individuals must work together!

Due to the complexities of opioid dependence, long-term treatment is the most effective way of bringing about lasting recovery. If you are a young adult male who is battling an opioid use disorder, our team of highly skilled addiction professionals can show you how life in recovery is possible. Please contact us at your earliest convenience to learn more about the PACE Recovery model.

Opioid Summit Involves Google and Facebook

opioid

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is hosting an Opioid Summit today, June 27, 2018, in Washington D.C. Government entities, academic researchers, and advocacy groups are attending the event, as you’d probably expect. Unexpectedly, internet stakeholders, as well as senior executives from major search engines like Google and social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram are also participating. Why would the FDA, led by Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, M.D., invite the movers and shakers of Silicon Valley to such an event? The answer, to combat illicit opioid sales over the internet.

Most people have heard or know a little bit about the “dark web;” home to multiple online marketplaces that allow people to exchange illicit goods. Users can peddle and procure just about anything in the far corners of the world wide web; and, those engaging in such activities are, theoretically, protected by proxy servers and virtual private networks (VPNs). Disguising one’s internet protocol (IP) address allows people to buy and sell things like heroin and counterfeit passports, evading the watchful eye of authorities, most of the time. You have probably heard about the dark web marketplace known as The Silk Road; if so, you know that the FBI shut it down and arrested its founder Ross Ulbricht in 2013. Ulbricht is now serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole, which you’d be right to think should deter others from having similar aspirations. It didn’t!

Today, the internet is home to even more black marketplaces than before. The number of sales and profit generated on the most popular sites people now rely on for illicit goods dwarfs that of the preceding Silk Road, according to findings by RAND Europe and researchers at Carnegie Mellon University.

Hiding In Plain Sight

Not everyone looking to sell opioids online has the know-how to set up shop on the darknet. An even more significant number of people on the hunt for prescription painkillers or heroin do not understand how or have the tools to access dark marketplaces. Many people take a more cavalier approach to purvey and procure opioids over the internet; advertisements for online pharmacies abound on the plain old internet on search engines and social media sites. While some good many websites are scams to harvest private information from the naive, plenty of these sites make good on their promise.

Earlier this month, the FDA reached out to some 53 online pharmacies instructing them to cease and desist, or face severe legal consequences, Wired reports. A study conducted by Carnegie Mellon University shows that online illicit drug sale revenue increased from between $15 and $17 million in 2012 to between $150 and $180 million in 2015. Whether more people are acquiring their drugs from internet pharmacy sites or on the dark web is somewhat irrelevant, what is salient is how to stop the practice.

Addressing the problem of drug dealing on the web is more urgent than ever considering the rise of synthetic opioids like fentanyl, carfentanil, and U-47700 or Pinky. Dealers disguise the substances mentioned above as more popular and less dangerous opioids like OxyContin, and they carry an enormous risk of fatal overdose. On average, 115 Americans succumb to opioid misuse every day in the U.S.

Opioid Summit May Devolve Into A Blame Game

At this point, it is hard to tell what, if anything, will come out of the meeting in Washington today. Reports show that in the days leading up to the summit, tech representatives and lobbyist began tossing blame around. The Center for Safe Internet Prescribing (CSIP) released a report showing that majority of drug sales happen on the dark web, and that open web offers for opioids were more likely to be scams. Libby Baney, an advisor to the Alliance for Safe Online Pharmacies, argues otherwise to Wired:

If all drug sales happening on the internet were on the dark web, I'd throw a party. Then the vast majority of Americans would be safe."

Tim Mackey, an associate adjunct professor at the University of California, San Diego, and fellow researchers found that online links on Twitter and Facebook offering up for sale illegal items originate on the darknet. Professor Mackey, who will speak at the summit, says:

What’s happening on the dark web is a lot of business-to-business sales. The digital drug dealers are sourcing from the dark web and using social media to sell directly to consumers.”

It’s worth noting that Facebook will direct users attempting to purchase opioids to addiction treatment resources, instead. Google played a significant role in the most recent National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day. And, according to CSIP—which is backed by tech giants—117 million ads attempting to sell illicit goods were blocked last year.

Proactive Approaches to Opioid Use Disorder

Dark web, open web, prescribed by doctors or not; lives hang in the balance if significant corporations in the tech sector cannot work together with government agencies to stem the tide of opioid addiction in America. There is an opportunity here to put a stop to illicit online opioid sales. The problem is here, and we cannot afford to ignore it, the United States Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations released a report presenting incontrovertible evidence that average Americans can purchase illicit opioids online. Another report from the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy shows that when searching online for prescription opioids, nearly 91 percent of the first search results led users to an illegal online drug seller offering prescription opioids—regardless of the search engine.

Social media companies, search engines, and domain registrars are in a unique position to nip, at least some of these kinds of practices, in the bud; not only redirecting people to addiction treatment services but having a hand in saving countless lives.

Opioid Use Disorder Treatment

If you or a loved is struggling with opioid use disorder, please contact PACE Recovery Center. We offer clients gender-specific, extended care treatment for males in the grips of progressive mental health disorders.

If you have suicidal ideations, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255