A number of major media outlets have taken it upon themselves, and for good reason, to shine a light on prescription opioid and heroin abuse. For over a decade now, our nation has been severely affected by the opioid epidemic, a crisis that takes over 70 lives a day, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). While health agencies and lawmakers are working hard to increase access to both the life saving overdose reversal drug naloxone and addiction treatment, there is still a lot more that needs to be done to combat the calamity. This week, the United States Senate voted overwhelmingly in favor of the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA). If the bill passes in the House, the legislation will give the Attorneys General the power to award grants to address the national epidemics of prescription opioid abuse and heroin use. The funding will be used for strengthening a number of programs and initiatives, including: addiction education and prevention, prescription drug monitoring and treatment. CARA is just one effort among a multifaceted interagency approach to addressing the opiate epidemic. The White House, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, the Food and Drug Administration, et al., are all committed to saving lives and providing access to substance use disorder treatment. What’s more, there is still a lot that the American public does not understand about the drug crisis and the true scope of the disease of addiction. Last month, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) along with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) released a film: “Chasing the Dragon: The Life of an Opiate Addict”. The film was created mainly for young Americans, and was essentially a call to action for the public to take part in ending the opioid epidemic. Towards the end of February, PBS aired a new "Frontline" documentary "Chasing Heroin." The film is nearly 2 hours long, and took a year to film. The documentary covers a number of elements of the epidemic, but perhaps the most interesting aspect was the coverage of how law enforcement is addressing the problem. Police officers are acting as social workers and not jail taxis, instead of slapping on the handcuffs they are referring addicts to addiction treatment services. You can watch a short clip below or watch the full documentary by clicking here. Tonight, ABC News will air a special edition of "20/20" at 10 p.m. ET. "Breaking Point: Heroin in America." The report covers the ongoing heroin epidemic in New Hampshire. “When you realize that nearly everyone you meet has been touched by the drug in some way, that’s really eye-opening,” said David Muir. “It helps begin a conversation out there, and the more we can be part of the conversation, the better.” We hope that everyone, whether the opioid epidemic has touched you or not, will take time to watch the important documentaries. We can all have a hand in the solution to this insidious problem.
Early addiction recovery is arguably the most difficult, addicts and alcoholics are still developing the skills necessary to maintain a program of abstinence. On top of being newly sober, and a bit shaky, people in early recovery are often bombarded with a lot of information which can become a bit overwhelming for some. What’s more, it is common to hear conflicting opinions from those with significant time regarding the “do’s and the don’ts.” While it is important to listen to what those in recovery have to say, if you find yourself unsure about something regarding the program it is always best to run one’s uncertainties by your sponsor or therapist. Such people could be compared to a ship’s anchor, keeping you from drifting into unsafe waters. People in early recovery using the 12-steps should look to their sponsor as a model for how to work a program and maintain their sobriety. A common misconception that many alcoholics and addicts have when starting an addiction recovery program is that they still can use certain mind altering substances, and that they only need to stay away from the drug or drink with which they struggled. Sadly, that line of thinking is in error, many alcoholics who are new to recovery will smoke marijuana, and a number of drug addicts will continue to consume alcohol. More often than not, such actions will lead people back to their substance of choice. It may not happen overnight, but in time the idea will creep back in one’s mind that they can moderately use the drug that brought them to the point of needing recovery in the first place. The aforementioned misunderstanding may be in part the result of recovery nomenclature, and the multitude of 12-step modeled programs. The idea that somehow an alcoholic is different than an addict, and vice versa; alcoholics attend Alcoholics Anonymous meetings and drug addicts will often choose to attend Narcotics Anonymous. The reality is that Addiction is Addiction, if a person has ever used a mind altering substance to the point of despair, the likelihood that that same person could develop an unhealthy relationship with another potentially addictive substance or behavior is exponentially increased. If you are new to recovery, working a program to break the cycle of addiction, regardless of which 12-step program you attend please remember that no mind altering substance is safe. Hopefully, it is a warning you hear early on upon entering the rooms of recovery, and one that is heeded with vigilance.
It is a common occurrence for alcoholics who sober up from alcohol to think that they can still use drugs. Conversely, many addicts who stop using drugs believe that they can still consume alcohol. Such misconceptions have led to countless relapses among people working programs of recovery. It is safe to say that if someone has developed an addiction to one substance or action, the potential for becoming addicted to another is exponentially increased, and the likelihood that a person will return to the addiction of choice is great. People with a propensity for developing harmful relationships with things that give them pleasure should be wary of all mind altering substance/actions. Many addicts and alcoholics, upon sobering up, often have cravings for a release which can lead to harmful behaviors riding a wave of impulse. While a large percentage of alcoholics/addicts in early recovery know they cannot and should not swap booze for drugs and vice versa, many will turn to sugary foods and drink, promiscuous sexual activity, et al. Such behaviors can lead to new habits that can morph into an addiction, and potentially lead to an eventual relapse to their substance of choice. It is vital that people who are new to recovery be extra vigilant when it comes to the activities they find themselves craving. In addition to walking you through the “steps,” sponsors are excellent sounding boards for determining if what you're doing, or thinking of doing, is conducive to a sound program of recovery. There are reasons why many alcoholics crave sugar upon sobering up; alcohol is loaded with sugar and carbohydrates. Nine times out of ten if you attend a 12-step meeting you will likely see cookies and coffee (with plenty of sugar to accompany the drink) on the center table, you will see a number of people with an energy drink in their hand. While the use of alcohol actually lowers one’s blood sugar level, the drink is chock-full of sugar; when many people stop drinking, after years of continued use, they can be faced with an insatiable craving from sugar. Alcoholics and addicts carry the D2 dopamine receptor, the gene that identifies addiction; sugar addicts share the same gene. If sugar cravings are not kept in check, it can lead to overeating, which is accompanied by its own list side effects. Sugar is one example; there are many other addictions that can fill in for one’s substance of choice. It is for that reason that recovering addicts need to be especially conscientious of their behaviors and if you are noticing unhealthy trends developing, it is crucial that you speak with your sponsor or therapist. Recovery is about progress, not switching one harmful behavior for another. At PACE Recovery Center our treatment team works with our clients to examine cultural, social and personal relapse triggers and develop a relapse prevention plan with acquired and practiced skills. 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.
Millions 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.
Lawmakers 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.