Posts Tagged ‘chemical dependency’
Monday, June 18th, 2012
Two weeks ago a young man by the name of Elliot Smith from Memphis, Tennessee overdosed on heroin and died.
Elliot had spent the last few years orbiting around a local sober community with various degrees of commitment to his recovery. Recently word was passed around that he wasn’t doing so well, that he had lost his job and that he was using again. The final call to his parents came on a Thursday from his roommate. He had found Elliot dead in their apartment.
After the funeral it came to light that Elliot had recently turned to buying his drugs online and having them shipped to his door. He had been using an online marketplace known as the Silk Road and a peer-to-peer digital currency service called Bitcoin.
The use of the Silk Road originally required a fairly sophisticated understanding of computing, but its growing popularity has made it much more user friendly. The currency used to purchase items on the Silk Road is known as bitcoins due to their resemblance to the bit torrent technology used in most online piracy. A user takes real currency and trades it online for bitcoins and then uses this non-currency to make transactions.
The Silk Road community functions like eBay or Amazon by creating a feedback-based reputation for its sellers and an entire world of shadowy transactions. The ease, anonymity and technically legal nature of the Silk Road allowed Elliot to bypass many of the traditional barriers to purchasing illegal drugs. It also allowed him to hide his use and stay under the radar of concerned friends and family until it was too late.
The designers of Silk Road and many of its users hail it as an international anarchistic blow for commercial freedom, a way to trade and deal independent of the global control of world financial markets. Unfortunately in Elliot’s case it was enough freedom to privately lose his battle with the disease of chemical dependency.
In recent years the World Wide Web has opened up unimaginable vistas of opportunity. Things that were impossible just a short time ago are now possible. These opportunities unfortunately extend to the world of illegal drug dealing and purchasing which has embraced technology to meet the times. It is important to know that less and less these days do people drive to a shady part of town to purchase illegal drugs from tough looking characters on the corner. Less and less do individuals struggling with addiction conform to our old ideas of what a drug addict looks like.
If there is a lesson here for those of us on the front lines of addiction treatment it is this: to stay in the fight we need to be up to speed on the opposition’s newest tricks and tools. We need to understand who is selling drugs to our friends and families, how they are being disguised, and by what circuitous routes these drugs are being delivered. I am not a computer pirate/hacker/expert and this new shady world frightens me – but, forewarned is forearmed.
I may not know how the Silk Road works in detail but I understand in theory that drugs are easier to obtain than ever. I understand that to be relevant as a treatment professional I need to understand the tactics of the opposition.
If we want more than to stay in this fight, if we want to win – one person, one family at a time – then we need to be prepared to change our own tactics.
Stay tuned. More to come.
For confidential reasons, names and locations have been changed.
Below is a link to an article about the Silk Road and bitcoins
Monday, February 1st, 2010
With the mental health parity laws going into effect in October of 2009, the levels of health care available to those struggling from addiction or mental health issues have increased. Under the new Wellstone Parity Act, group health policies and employers must provide equal or higher coverage to addiction and mental illness as they would a physical illness, such as cancer. These new rules will make access to treatment much more available to the general public, as insurance companies have often set limits on days for addiction or mental health treatment, but put no limits on other types of hospital care. A government spokesperson said, “…the rules would benefit 111 million people in 446,400 group health plans offered by private employers, and 29 million people in 20,000 plans sponsored by state and local governments.”
The American Psychiatric Association had this to say: “Mental health parity was a major advance for the APA and for our patients living with mental illnesses,” said APA President Alan F. Schatzberg, M.D. “The APA will continue to work hard and submit the important feedback to the Administration that is necessary to make sure our patients receive the care they need.”
So what does that mean for us? Obviously, more access to addiction services bodes well for the general public. With more people gaining access to the resources to get help, one would think more people would get help. But is that the case? Will we see an uptick in treatment admissions? Our bet- probably not. Those who are unable to ask for help for themselves won’t magically be able to get help even when it’s available. That’s why we encourage families to break free from the traps of secrets, and get help for their loved ones. Reaching out and asking for help can provide access to those much-needed treatment options that may not have been available before this act was passed.
If you or someone you love need help with an addiction, call us at 877-320-0247 or visit us on the web at www.a-i-r.com.
You can also follow us on Twitter at @airecovery.
Tags: addiction, addiction intervention, addiction parity, AiR Assistance in recovery, chemical dependency, drug addiction, eating disorders, gentetics of addiction, intervention, mental health, mental health parity, mental illness, parity, recovery, recovery assistance, Recovery Assistance Program, substance abuse, Treatment, wellstone
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Wednesday, January 20th, 2010
Suboxone (or buprenorphin) seems to be all the rage these days. With the power of the multi-lateral corporation Reckitt Benckiser (whose exclusive license on Suboxone brought in fifteen percent of their overall revenue in 2009), a huge push is being made to medical doctors to prescribe Suboxone as a way to combat heroin use. Since Suboxone is a semi-synthetic opiate, many dangers arise from the over-prescription of this drug. While we at AiR have seen many benefits to Suboxone during the initial detoxification process, we worry about the addicts who get saddled in trading one maintenance drug for another. Now the website for Suboxone does suggest that “more than medication alone” makes for successful treatment; however- we’d like to see some facts and research behind the amount of people who seek outside therapy along with their medication management.
Here’s the main problem, directly from the Suboxone website:
“All opioids can cause physical dependence. SUBOXONE belongs to a class of opioids called “partial opioid agonists.” As a partial agonist, buprenorphine appears to produce less physical dependence, limited euphoria, and less potential for abuse compared with a full agonist, eg, heroin, oxycodone, and hydrocodone. SUBOXONE has potential for abuse and produces dependence of the opioid type with a milder withdrawal syndrome than full agonists.
When patients are ready to stop taking SUBOXONE, the dose is slowly and gradually tapered. The withdrawal symptoms of SUBOXONE are milder than those seen with a full opioid agonist and can be managed with your doctor’s supervision.”
So, basically, are we dealing with the new methadone here? It sure looks like it. We need physicians to be responsible and educated around addiction before they reach for that prescription pad. If a doc wants to use suboxone to assist in the detoxification process, then please do- just be sure to remove a patient from this opioid. Creating additional dependence, albeit on a lower-level substance, still encourages a dependence instead of a solution. Hazelden had this to say (from a CNN article earlier this year): “At Hazelden, a small proportion of patients receive anti-addiction drugs, but medical director Dr. Kevin Clark says the traditional model — based on intensive therapy and the 12 steps — is still best. ‘It is a disease of the brain, but it’s a multifaceted disease. It has a spiritual component, a behavioral component to it,’ says Clark. ‘Our experience tells us that having the network of support and recovery is what really makes the difference.’”
With the help of residential treatment, twelve-step programs, and support from a family, the chances of an addict getting into recovery skyrocket. Medication alone will never be the solution, because, at the end of the day, the drugs are only a symptom. An addict needs help outside of a pill.
For help for yourself or a loved one, please call us at 877-320-0247 or visit our main page at www.a-i-r.com.
Tags: addiction, addiction intervention, AiR Assistance in recovery, assistance in recovery, buprenorphin, chemical dependency, drug addiction, drug deaths, methadone, prescription drug abuse, Recovery Assistance Program, suboxone, substance abuse, Treatment
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Friday, January 15th, 2010
According to a press release by SAMHSA, treatment providers and families should be expecting a “dramatic increase” in substance abuse among adults 50 and older.The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is the US government agency faced with the goal of improving the quality and availability of prevention, treatment, and rehabilitative services for in the substance abuse and mental health fields. SAMSHA’s latest report, published on January 8th, states that services for those of the aging baby boomer generation should be expected to double by the year 2020.
“This new data has profound implications for the health and well-being of older adults who continue to abuse substances,” said Pamela S. Hyde, J.D, the SAMHSA Administrator. “These findings highlight the need for prevention programs for all ages as well as to establish improved screening and appropriate referral to treatment as part of routine health care services.”
The stats point to a rising trend in marijuana use, with 8.5% of men between 50 and 54 reporting having used marijuana in the past year. And with a rise in prescription drug abuse (up from 1% to 5% of treatment admissions from 1997 to 2009), one can only expect that drug abuse will increase. The National Institute of Health reports that nearly 20% of adults have used prescription drugs for non medical reasons. Dr. Gary Kennedy, director of Geriatric Psychiatry at Montefiore Medical Center, stated: “We need much better support services for the number of older adults who are going to have substance abuse problems.” The New York Daily News even picked up on the story, stating that the Woodstock generation still has a tendency to get high.
So what do we do? Become better educated for prevention and awareness. Talk to your loved ones if you’re concerned about their use. Learn about the signs and symptoms of drug abuse. And when you need it, ask for help. Addiction is a disease of silence; keeping secrets keeps loved ones sick, and the only way to get better is through outside help.
If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, please call us at 877-320-0247 or visit us on the web at www.a-i-r.com.
Also, for those in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area, we will be presenting a family education series in conjunction with Hazelden on February 8th.
Tags: addiction, addiction intervention, AiR Assistance in recovery, alcohol, assistance in recovery, chemical dependency, drug addiction, intervention, older adult substance abuse, pain addiction, pain medication, prescription drug abuse, SAMHSA, substance abuse, Treatment
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Friday, January 8th, 2010
With a new year (and a new decade as well, depending on who you ask) upon us, we in the addiction world often see many people come to us with New Years resolutions, things such as:
“2010 will be the year I get sober.”
“Maybe I should cut down on my drinking.”
“This is the year I talk to my son about his drug use.”
“This is the year of big changes in my family.”
We at AiR encourage these resolutions- they can be a big catalyst for change, and help people get on the path to recovery. However, what’s important to remember here is how many times one has made these said resolutions. If you find yourself saying for the fifth year in a row that it’s time to quit drinking, it’s probably time to seek outside help. If you’re a family member and you’re hearing the same resolution year after year- we can help with that too.
Since the holiday season seems so volatile (as we’ve covered here), now is the time to act. A new year can bring about new changes. If you’re a family member and your loved one is hurting from a compulsive behavior, reach out. Ask for help. If you can’t make the phone call yet, then check out our book, It’s Not Okay To Be A Cannibal (available here); some good advice is available there, but be sure to get outside assistance when you decide to move forward.
If you or a loved one are in crisis, please call us at 877-320-0247 for immediate assistance, or visit us on the web at www.a-i-r.com.
Tags: addiction, addiction intervention, AiR Assistance in recovery, assistance in recovery, chemical dependency, drug addiction, drugs, eating disorders, gentetics of addiction, heroin addiction, intervention, mental health, methamphetamine, pain addiction, pain medication, prescription drug abuse, recovery assistance, Recovery Assistance Program, substance abuse, Treatment
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Friday, December 11th, 2009
Dr. A. Thomas McLellan, one of the leading researchers on addiction and a psychology professor at the University of Pennsylvania, recently shared his story with the New York Times. Dr. McLellan recently accepted a position with the U.S. government, at the invitation of Vice President Joe Biden, to be the nation’s number two drug control officer. This gave him an interesting choice- to stay a professor, or to go work for the new administration. However, some experiences in his home life led him to move to work with the administration.
Last year, Dr. McLellan’s 30-year-old son passed away from an overdose of anti-anxiety medication and alcohol, at the same time as his other, older son was in residential treatment working on his own addiction issues. This, McLellan said, is what led directly to him making the post. With the help of Gil Kerlikowski, the nation’s drug czar, he hopes to turn addiction from a punitive crime into one where we can see more people get help instead of jail time. From the article: “Dr. McLellan said that of the 25 million substance abusers he estimated were in this country, only about 2 million were receiving treatment. He and Mr. Kerlikowske want to triple that number, partly by spending more money and partly through other tactics, like integrating addiction treatment into the primary health care system.”
An interesting quote from Dr. McLellan: “If it has to happen, better it happens to me, I’m an expert, right? I didn’t know what to do and none of my buddies knew what to do, and let me tell you they were experts. So I said, “˜What the hell are we doing?’ ”
So what happens when the experts don’t know what to do? Well, that’s why we’re here. At Assistance in Recovery, we’re available to coach you through all those difficult questions, whether you’ve been researching addiction for 30 years or you know absolutely nothing about it, and everywhere in between. In the struggle with chemical dependency, it can happen to ANYONE- and is always better having an outside perspective on what to do.We can assist on all of those difficult questions and help put a solution in place.
Call us at 877-320-0247 or visit us on the web at www.a-i-r.com.
Tags: addiction, addiction genes, addiction intervention, AiR Assistance in recovery, anti-anxiety, assistance in recovery, chemical dependency, drug addiction, drug deaths, methamphetamine, overdose, pain addiction, pain killers, pain medication, prescription drug abuse, substance abuse, Treatment
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Tuesday, December 8th, 2009
The holidays tend to be a tough time for any family struggling with substance abuse or other compulsive disorders. Since there seems to be quite a bit of family time, a family member who may be using drugs or recently out of treatment will most certainly be exposed to more family time than they’re used to, making the holidays a very difficult environment for families who are struggling. The holidays also, it turns out, tend to be a time where alcohol is very present, i.e. toasts, cocktail hour, Christmas parties, etc. When people who normally struggle with substance abuse are in this high-stress environment- not to mention other factors, like the economy, joblessness, etc.- things can very rapidly get out of hand. When that happens, we at AiR are here to support you.
The holidays, and the immediate days following, are a great time to offer a loved one help. With the help of a trained, credentialed interventionist, having the family all together over the holidays generally allows for some honest conversation and work towards setting appropriate boundaries with a loved one who is struggling. Getting a loved one the help that they need is truly the greatest gift a family can offer. What’s better than giving someone their life back?
If a loved one is getting out of treatment before the holidays, our Recovery Management Services can be a great support to the family and to the member who’s been struggling. With some additional support, an traditionally tough emotional time can be navigated significantly easier. Let us help your family make this the best holiday season you’ve ever had. Take action- the sooner, the better.
For immediate help, please call us at 877-320-0247 or visit us on the web at www.a-i-r.com.
Here are some tips from SAMSHA about youth drinking over the holidays.
Tags: addiction, addiction intervention, AiR Assistance in recovery, alcohol, alcohol holidays, assistance in recovery, chemical dependency, drug addiction, holiday drinking, intervention, recovery assistance, Recovery Assistance Program, substance abuse, Treatment
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Monday, November 23rd, 2009
On the Wind River Reservation in Wyoming, families are mourning the deaths of three girls from methadone overdoses. CNN posted this interesting and terrible article this morning, talking about the tragic deaths of girls ages 13, 14 and 15. The three girls were sleeping over on a night just before starting a new semester of high school- and never made it home. On a reservation that has seen its share of drug and alcohol-related deaths, the loss of three young teenagers really struck home.
The coroner ruled the deaths homicides- but it was not readily apparent where the drugs came from.The FBI got involved almost immediately following the deaths, as they do when felonies occur on reservations. As a result, not much is known about the case itself. Two teenage boys have been arrested in conjunction with the deaths, but no other details are really known at this time. In a culture that acknowledges a distrust of law enforcement, nearly 24 hours passed before authorities were contacted about the deaths.
A difficult situation for the families on this reservation; one can only hope that, through this tragic loss, the people on the reservation can be more aware of the dangers of drug use and abuse. Through this, more help may be available- at least we can hope so. A difficult and tragic situation like this, along with it being brought into the public eye, may actually result in some change.
If you or a loved one are struggling with addiction, please contact us directly at 877-320-0247 or visit us on the web at www.a-i-r.com.
Tags: addiction, addiction intervention, adolescent addiction, AiR Assistance in recovery, assistance in recovery, chemical dependency, drug addiction, drug deaths, mental illness, methadone, methadone overdose, overdose, pain addiction, pain killers, prescription drug abuse, substance abuse, Treatment
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Wednesday, October 21st, 2009
An article on CNNMoney.com today spoke about the genetic link to addiction. Although widely acknowledged throughout the addiction treatment community, it’s nice to see additional research showing the link between addiction and genetics. According to Dr. David Goldman, the director of the Laboratory of Neurogenetics at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, said that according to the massive study they completed of addiction in twins, addiction ranks “among the most heritable of mental illnesses.”
Dr. Goldman also said that social cues and environment obviously contribute to addiction, a valid point. Someone with the “alcoholic gene” who is never exposed to alcohol may never lead themselves down a destructive path. After all, genetics load the gun, and environment pulls the trigger.
“What’s interesting,” Goldman says, “is that the more addictive the substance, the stronger the role of heredity in causing an addiction to it.” Therefore, if someone is using crack cocaine or opiates and has the genetic predisposition towards addiction, the greater the chance of getting hooked. Other environmental things, such as abuse or other instances of trauma, can severely influence the nature of addiction.
Dr. David Oslin, a psychiatrist at the University of Pennsylvania, had this to say about the study, “It reinforces for the patients that they are not just a bad person or lack will power. It resonates with the notion that their brain may work a little differently than other people’s and that this really is an illness they can treat like any other.”
As a family member or a loved one, be sure to be aware of the genetic triggers in your family- if a parent struggles with alcoholism, be sure to be aware of your genetic history and approach your drinking carefully. After all, there’s only so much one can do after addiction has taken hold.
Be sure to check out our new Wikipedia page, located here.
For any questions or help with yourself or a loved one, call us directly at 877-320-0247.
Tags: addiction, addiction genes, addiction intervention, AiR Assistance in recovery, alcohol, alcoholism, assistance in recovery, chemical dependency, cnn, genetics, gentetics of addiction, intervention, recovery, recovery assistance, substance abuse
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Thursday, October 1st, 2009
According to an article posted yesterday night on USA Today, prescription drugs and other pills are now the leading cause of overdosing, ahead of things like heroin and cocaine. According to the Center For Disease Control, prescription pills now account for the majority of the over 26,000 fatal overdoses each year. In previous years, up through the 1990s, the majority of overdoses were brought on by illicit substances like heroin. However, with the upswing in prescriptions and the lack of knowledge surrounding the abuse of these pills, the dangers have continued to increase and, as a result, created a dangerous epidemic of abuse and addiction.
Leonard Paulozzi, a researcher at the Center for Disease Control, said that the numbers show that overdoses in rural areas have now come to equal those in cities, which is lead, according to Paulozzi, by the availability of prescription pain killers and opioids. With chronic pain become a new term, the prescriptions of opioid pain killers have started to increase, and therefore leading to additional overdose danger. And with a rise in stress and depression, the dangers of addictive behaviors are brought to the forefront.
“At the high doses used by drug abusers, the margin of safety is small,” Paulozzi said. “Combining such drugs on your own or using them with alcohol increase the risk.” The number of overdose deaths due to prescription drugs, like morphine or codeine, has more than tripled since 1999, according the new CDC figures. “The biggest and fastest-growing part of America’s drug problem is prescription drug abuse,” says Robert DuPont, former White House drug czar and former director of NIDA.
We’ve been speaking out on the dangers of prescription drugs for years, and will continue to do so until the appropriate levels of education and awareness of the dangers are reached. Here’s a clip of our CEO, Andrew Wainwright, on CNN’s American Morning talking about the dangers of prescription drugs.
For assistance with prescription drug problems, or if a loved one is struggling with addiction, please visit our main site or call us directly at 877-320-0247.
Tags: addiction, addiction intervention, AiR Assistance in recovery, andrew wainwright, chemical dependency, cnn, cnn american morning, intervention, overdose, prescription drug abuse, prescription drug overdose, recovery assistance, substance abuse, Treatment, vicodin addiction
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