Experts Provide Clinical Overview of Drug Recovery Experience

i Jul 30th No Comments by

Reporting on CORE Conference Summer 2016

I attended this conference on Amelia Island Florida in July. The membership goal is to improve accessibility to and the quality of addiction treatment and to promote recovery solutions.

Ivanka Grahovac, Executive Director, Austin Recovery

I am with Ivanka Grahovac, Executive Director, Austin Recovery. She shared her own recovery experience from heroin to advocate for change at the CORE conference.

The conference is “structured as a forum to increase the collective understanding of the addiction recovery processes.” Participants are eager, in general, to improve addiction treatment outcomes by better integrating abstinence-based practices and Twelve-Step principles into therapeutic initiatives.

Four themes emerged during the four day event.

  1. Abstinence versus medication assisted treatment for recovery

More often, meds are being delivered in a physician’s office, administered in many cases by the physician’s assistant. Atlanta has seen this trend with Adderall. Used to be, a psychologist or psychiatrist would diagnose ADD or ADHD and submit the treatment plan with a prescription. Nowadays, people can get a prescription, without the rigorous assessment that was required formerly. In the case of opioid addiction, many physician’s assistants are writing the treatment plan. And many are not necessarily trained to develop it.  Doctors’ offices are focused on harm reduction, which is good. But do they understand the cravings? Do they understand how medication could actually threaten authentic sobriety? These were the sorts of questions and issues that were explored.

  1. Suboxone in the wake of a national opioid addiction trend. Just how helpful is it?

Suboxone is used as a detox agent, and it represents a $1.5 Billion market. Doctors wrote 9 million prescriptions last year. One expert stated, “And guess what? It’s harder to kick than heroin.”  Insurance companies encourage its use, allegedly, because users don’t need to go into detox, which costs insurance companies money. Many experts rejected claims of its benefits, because “it undermines the brain’s ability to present as one’s authentic self.”

Without “full surrender to abstinence, people cannot engage in recovery and 12-step (programs) as their own, real, authentic selves,” said the CEO of a recovery program. Otherwise, claimed many experts, people trying to recover can remain isolated and addicted.

  1. Twelve step programs and the role of a higher power in addiction. The most compelling speakers, across the board, advocated for complete abstinence to support this notion of showing up as yourself, no one else, because it is the surest way to remodel the brain and change behavior. No surprise that drug manufacturers and insurance companies were not present at CORE. Unless they were under the radar. Is “Big Pharma” too busy selling “meds” to physicians’ offices and using Public Relations to sell only part of the story to consumers, so that consumers will be the very people asking for those drugs? And is that a good thing?

“Full surrender” to medication-free recovery made a suboxone prescription sound sketchy, at best. But there is no question that some specific co-occurring disorders warrant medication.

4.   Pornography addiction is a big ugly taboo problem. It is impacting a lot of folks, particularly 12-16 year olds who watch online. It has serious implications for brain receptors, in terms of the stimulation, even compared to what certain drugs do to the brain. I don’t know anything more, but will keep you posted.

The many dedicated professionals were on hand at CORE who are committed to helping people recover and lead full and happy lives – they were nothing short of inspiring. I am so glad I was able to attend and learn more about what they do, how they help others. Want to learn more about CORE?

http://core-conference.com/about-core/

Will Ban on College Campuses Curb Alcohol Abuse?

i Aug 17th No Comments by

In January of this year, the New York Times ran a story about Dartmouth banning hard liquor on it’s campus. Since then, I have been meaning to write about this.

So banning hard alcohol at frat parties and on campus will help “arrest bawdy behavior and reduce sexual assault”? Hmmm… who said so? Addiction therapists and experts at many respected facilities advise clients that it is alcohol, more than other substances, that wreaks the worst havoc on young adults and families. Beer, wine, or booze, they pretty much have the same impact. Heroin is an exceptional substance because it kills from overdose and has more addictive characteristics than many other substances. But alcohol, regardless of the form, is often more damaging.

Ban_Alcohol_on_College_Campus

Dartmouth College attempted to curb alcohol abuse by banning booze on campus.

In fact, the most dangerous substance abuse problem on many campuses is allegedly alcohol mixed with Xanax. So what does Dartmouth expect to accomplish with a ban on booze, but not beer and wine? Does the action placate wealthy alums who expect action but don’t understand the real facts surrounding substance abuse? Hard alcohol is easier to conceal than a case or a keg. That doesn’t mean that banning it will help.

How about institutionalizing programs that support prevention and teach and enable students to intervene if a friend is getting into hazy territory? How about mandatory group substance abuse counseling on Sunday night at the Frat house? How about a sober tailgate? Sponsored by the likes of Coke or Pepsi or Ford, and other big brands that want to target young and millennials and be part of a healthy, even a party culture?

Come on Dartmouth, show a little leadership. Show a little resourcefulness. Get real on young adult behaviors and alcohol abuse.

Marijuana Addiction is Real

i Aug 16th No Comments by

What about Weed? For parents who don’t think it is addictive, read this excerpt from an article published on CNN.

pot in the raw

Marijuana bud. Credit: US Library of Congress

We now know that while estimates vary, marijuana leads to dependence in around 9 to 10% of adult users. By comparison, cocaine, a schedule 2 substance “with less abuse potential than schedule 1 drugs” hooks 20% of those who use it. Around 25% of heroin users become addicted.

The worst is tobacco, where the number is closer to 30% of smokers, many of whom go on to die because of their addiction.

There is clear evidence that in some people, marijuana use can lead to withdrawal symptoms, including insomnia, anxiety and nausea. Even considering this, it is hard to make a case that it has a high potential for substance abuse. The article continues, “The physical symptoms of marijuana addiction are nothing like those of the other drugs I’ve mentioned. Withdrawal from alcohol… can be life threatening.

Pot.NIMH. umaLateralWholeBrain1

Brain receptors are vulnerable to marijuana among all users. If a user is among the 10% of adults prone to addiction, he or she is highly vulnerable to marijuana addiction.

I do want to mention a concern that I think about as a father. Young, developing brains are likely more susceptible to harm from marijuana than adult brains. Some recent studies suggest that regular use in teenage years leads to a permanent decrease in IQ. Other research hints at a possible heightened risk of developing psychosis.

Much in the same way I wouldn’t let my own children drink alcohol, I wouldn’t permit marijuana until they are adults. If they are adamant about trying marijuana, I will urge them to wait until they’re in their mid-20s when their brains are fully developed.”

Dr. Herbert Kleber, M.D., professor of Psychiatry, Columbia University, and pioneer in research and treatment of substance abuse, spoke at a National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) seminar on July 7, 2016. He stated that “…14 to 17 year old brains might not recover (from marijuana abuse) until they are 25 or older. “He also noted that edible marijuana can take one hour to kick in and can trigger a psychotic episode. Something to think about if you’re over 21 and consuming it in states where its sale is legal. For details that the professionals read on addiction, here is CASA’s most recent report on addiction.

http://www.centeronaddiction.org/addiction-research/reports/guide-policymakers-prevention-early-intervention-and-treatment-risky

 

Drug Abuse Statistics – A Look at the Numbers

i Aug 13th No Comments by

Substance Abuse Statistics are not going away.

The Facts* among the U.S. population for ages 15 to 29 is 64.6 million, over 21 percent of total U.S. population.

literallywhatnowbloggirllightingupwguy

6.5% of this group uses marijuana daily. Photo Credit: US Library of Congress.

 

22.7%   used marijuana in the past month

15.5%   used a prescription drugs non-medically in 2012

 13%      prescription drug use for non-medical reasons is highest among young adults

250%   increase in young adult deaths from Rx overdoses between 1999-2010. That translates to 3000 deaths**

Complicating these facts are co-existing behavioral health disorders: In 2013, about 1 in 10 adolescents (10.7 percent) had a major depressive episode (MDE) in the past year. Among adolescents with MDE, 38.1 percent received treatment or counseling for depression in that past year.

Some research has shown that co-morbidity of addiction and mental illness can be 50%, and an office practice is not the setting of choice for most addicted patients (Clinical Philosophy: The Psychodynamic Approach to Addiction Treatment by Sid Goldman, M.A., for Caron Renaissance.)

An important part of family recovery from teen substance abuse is a willingness to help others in crisis with insight and information, all the while protecting the reputation and the future of the teens, with discretion and respect for privacy. Talk with as many people as you can and as many people as you can trust with regard to your teen’s problem, and protect his or her privacy.

Here is the NIH link to drug facts and trends among youth and teens. You are not alone.

Learn More Here

Substance Abuse and a DUI or MIP

i Aug 9th No Comments by

If you need to pay bail, then arrange to pay, or get a bail bondsman to pay, so you can get your child home and stabilized. If it’s not the first time, let your child figure it what to do this time. Watching that unfold will enlighten you about the extent of the problem – is this a bump in the road, a chronic habit, or a bigger problemiss?

Call the number on the citation and get a copy of the police report, to see what exactly happened and whether other stuff went on. This could take 2-3 days. You will need to go to the jail to get the report. But get it, because you need to know what really happened.

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DUI or MIP for substance abuse can help families identify extent of a problem and accelerate a recovery path. Photo: Library of Congress.

Get an attorney for your child or request a court assigned attorney. Everyone has a right to one. If you hire one, get a specialist, a litigator who has handled this sort of issue before, preferably in the county or court system in which it is assigned. Expertise helps save a lot of time.

Comply with a lawyer’s advice. First time offender statutes work in your favor, if you think your kid will abide by the statutes.

Show up in court, and early. The court system can be punishing to anyone who wastes its time. Tell your child to address the judge yes or no, “your honor” and to look presentable. It matters.

If the incident was reported to your child’s school, schedule a meeting with the school counselor and your child immediately. Make the school your friend. Believe it or not, school administrators are potential advocates for your child, unless he has been a repeat offender – in which case, they might feel your problem is beyond their expertise.

J. Tom Morgan wrote an excellent book called Ignorance Is No Defense, about the laws in Georgia impacting teenagers. It is an excellent overview of what every teen and parent needs to know.