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Thursday, June 13, 2019

Addiction and "Deaths of Despair" in America

addiction
In 2015, a paper was published regarding rising mortality rates in the U.S. involving drug overdose, alcohol, and suicide. The groundbreaking article appeared in the National Academy of Science’s magazine.

The research paper, interestingly, did not come from leaders in public health, but instead from two economists. Princeton economists Anne Case and Angus Deaton found that the mortality rate was most pronounced in one specific demographic: middle-aged non-Hispanic whites without a college degree.

In 2017, Case and Deaton followed up on their findings; they suggested that a large portion of America never recovered from the 2008 recession, The Guardian reports. Families that were no longer able to earn a living without a college degree were linked to rising overdose, suicide, and substance use-related deaths. In their update, Case and Deaton coined a phrase that stuck: “deaths of despair.”

While drugs, alcohol, and mental illness are driving forces in premature death, the crisis many people face is that of despair. When someone experiences the complete loss or absence of hope, they are likely to want to escape. Others too, have conducted similar research on why people turn to drugs and alcohol when life becomes exceedingly harder and harder to bear.

The author Johann Hari published a book called “Chasing the Scream” that dealt with drivers of addiction. He writes that environment and life-circumstances (e.g., stable home life and employment) play a significant role in the development of addiction.

When men and women feel cut off from society and the American Dream, they are more likely to engage in self-defeating and self-destructive behaviors. Naturally, this subject matter is nuanced—many factors play a role in the alarming trends.

Deaths of Despair are Up Nationally


Alcohol and substance use disorder and other forms of mental illness are treatable. Millions of Americans are working programs of addiction recovery and receiving mental health services. However, accessing care continues to be a severe problem in several areas of the United States.

The Commonwealth Fund, which tracks health performance in each state, found a correlation between deaths of despair and poor scorecards. The data shows that suicides, drug overdoses and alcohol-related deaths have reached an all-time high; and, understanding why could lead to solutions.

The organization analyzed 47 factors that have an impact on health outcomes for a new report, NBC News reports. Insurance coverage and access to doctors were two of the elements. Hawaii, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Washington, Connecticut, and Vermont ranked the highest. Arkansas, Nevada, Texas, Oklahoma, and Mississippi received the lowest rankings.

“When we look at what’s going on in mid-Atlantic states — West Virginia, Ohio, Pennsylvania — those are the states that have the highest rates of drug overdose deaths in the country,” said David Radley, a senior scientist for the Commonwealth Fund. “The rate of growth in drug overdose deaths in West Virginia is absolutely mind-boggling.” 

Health care coverage is what separates the states with the highest score from those with the lowest, according to the article. The states at the bottom of the list all had the highest number of uninsured residents. California ranked 14th.

 “We really think of health care access of being the foundation of a high-performing health care system,” Radley said.

SLO County California Addiction Treatment

 

The Haven at Pismo can assist men and women who are struggling with addiction and co-occurring mental illness. We offer many different programs to cater to the unique needs of each client. Our evidence-based addiction treatment center is the perfect place to renew your best today.

Please contact us at your earliest convenience to learn more about The Haven difference.

Friday, June 7, 2019

12 Step Recovery: Founders Day

12 Steps
Millions of Americans and many more people around the globe are grateful for the birth of 12 Step recovery. While there are several different modalities (e.g., SMART Recovery), programs like Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous have the largest following by far.

There is a reason why most evidence-based addiction treatment centers encourage their clients to work the 12 Steps while in rehab and after. Having a fellowship of men and women who share a common goal is exceedingly beneficial. A support network is of the utmost importance to any person desiring to heal from alcohol or substance use disorder.

What’s more, unlike many therapists and counselors, each person in the rooms of recovery has first-hand experience with the disease. Having the common bond of past experiences enables people to relate, and they can guide each other through the challenges of life. Since there are not any hard mandates short of abstinence, men and women have the freedom to work their own program.

Even a casual observer has to acknowledge the remarkable nature of 12 Step recovery programs. Those who were at the brink of total despair and looking up at the bottom can rebuild their lives by practicing a set of principles. Member of Alcoholics Anonymous take what they learn, leave what they don’t need behind, and carry the message to newcomers 365 days a year. This is the way it has been for 84 years since the founding of AA.

84th Anniversary of 12 Step Recovery: Founders Day


Most of those working a program in 12 Step recovery know a little history about its origins. They know the names Bill W., Dr. Bob, and Ebby T.; even some are familiar with the Oxford Group, a precursor to AA. For those who are not familiar with the humble beginnings of Alcoholics Anonymous, we’d like to share some the program's lineage.

AA was the brainchild of two seemingly hopeless alcoholics who met in Akron, Ohio in 1935: Bill W., a New York stockbroker, and Dr. Bob S., an Akron surgeon. Alcoholics Anonymous World Services writes:

“Bill had gotten sober and had then maintained his recovery by working with other alcoholics, though none of these had actually recovered. Meanwhile, Dr. Bob’s Oxford Group membership at Akron had not helped him enough to achieve sobriety. When Dr. Bob and Bill finally met, the effect on the doctor was immediate. This time, he found himself face to face with a fellow sufferer who had made good. Bill emphasized that alcoholism was a malady of mind, emotions and body. This all-important fact he had learned from Dr. William D. Silkworth of Towns Hospital in New York, where Bill had often been a patient. Though a physician, Dr. Bob had not known alcoholism to be a disease. Responding to Bill’s convincing ideas, he soon got sober, never to drink again. The founding spark of AA had been struck.” 

If you would like to read more about the lifesaving fellowship’s origins, please click here.

This weekend is Founders Day Weekend, an annual observance to acknowledge the birth of AA. There could be as many as 12,000 who will descend upon Akron in the coming days to celebrate the program. Events will be held at the Gate Lodge, which is where the founders first met to lay out the steps for recovery.

Across the country, events are being held this weekend and next week. For example, in our area there will be a Founders Day event on June 16, 2019.

 

Addiction Recovery


The Haven at Pismo would like to wish everyone in recovery a happy Founders Day Weekend. Each day in recovery is a remarkable achievement worth being proud of; we hope that you have time to celebrate with your support network.

Please contact us if you are struggling with drugs and alcohol and would like to take steps to improve your life. At The Haven, our team of experts utilizes evidence-based therapies to help people make necessary changes and learn how to excel in recovery.

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Relapse Prevention: Quitting Tobacco

relapse prevention
Nicotine is often the first addictive substance people in recovery ever try and the last to quit. Many people who work programs of recovery continue to smoke long after they put down their last drink or drug. Treatment centers have varying and divergent opinions about permitting nicotine use. Some allow it, and some don’t; but, practically every center is determined to encourage cessation.

While quitting tobacco may not be at the top of an addict or alcoholic's list of problems, there are many good reasons to quit. The list of health disorders, including cancers that afflict smokers, is long.

Tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable disease, disability, and death in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Almost 40 million American adults smoke cigarettes.

Ideally, people in recovery will tackle their addiction to tobacco while addressing their other use disorders. However, the thought of giving up cigarettes while learning to cope with life without drugs and alcohol is too much for some people. Some addiction professionals even endorse that kind of thinking, believing it best to deal with the more severe disorders first.

There is a growing body of evidence that suggests addressing smoking while a person is in addiction treatment is the most beneficial. Below we will discuss some of the reasons people in recovery might want to prioritize giving up nicotine.

Preventing Relapse is Priority Number One


Men and women who seek addiction treatment receive instruction on how to live life on life’s terms. They learn how to cope with their feelings without having to turn to mind-altering substances. Relapse prevention is a significant facet of addiction recovery; anything people can do to protect their program is essential.

Those who are addicted to nicotine will usually smoke more when they are feeling stressed. Cigarettes serve as an unhealthy crutch during times of difficulty. While nicotine may alleviate a person’s stress, it also reinforces the belief that there is a chemical solution to one’s problems.

“Even though various substances have different pharmacological mechanisms, all drugs of abuse ultimately affect the same reward pathway,” said Dr. Heather L. Kimmel, Health Scientist Administrator of NIDA’s Epidemiology Research Branch. “Abstinence from all of them will help the patient move to a new physiological state and, hopefully, a new mental state as well.” 

Sure, it may not be as bad as having a drink, but it still does a disservice to men and women’s recovery. What’s more, current research suggests that smoking in recovery increases the risk of relapse. The findings appear in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry.

Researchers analyzed data provided by 5,515 people recovering from substance use disorder, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). They found that those who still smoked three years after the initial interview were about 1.5 times more likely to relapse. Heavy smokers were at even higher risk of relapse; the likelihood of relapse increased by 0.7 percent for each cigarette smoked per day.

“So far, the bulk of evidence suggests that concurrent smoking cessation and substance use treatment is the most beneficial approach,” Dr. Renee D. Goodwin of the Graduate School of Public Health and Health Policy, CUNY, said.

On May 31st, the World Health Organization (WHO) observes World No Tobacco Day (WNTD). The event is meant to raise awareness of the harmful effects of tobacco use. Smokers in recovery may want to take the opportunity to learn more about cessation options tomorrow. Smoking cessation can protect your recovery and overall health.

SLO County Addiction Rehab


Please contact The Haven at Pismo if you or someone you love is struggling with drugs or alcohol. We provide a full continuum of care to help rebuild lives and restore hope. We are available at any time to answer your questions about our program.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Mental Health Influenced by Genetics

mental health
Last week, we covered at length the persistence of stigma when it comes to addiction and other forms of mental illness. There is no legitimate reason for shaming people who face mental health problems in the 21st Century. The science is irrefutable; people living with use disorder, depression, and bipolar disorder do not choose to be affected.

Researcher tells us that multiple factors play a role in the development of mental health issues. Scientists have yet to provide a formula for predicting who will face behavioral health or mood disorders. A method for determining when someone will begin experiencing problems is not available. However, it is possible that science will provide a means of foretelling mental illness in the near future.

Again, we do know some of the underpinnings of mental illness. Family history, for instance, is believed to increase one’s risk or protect an individual from dealing with issues in the future. However, a person’s genetics is not the sole cause of having mental health problems. Studies show that there are biological and emotional components, as well.

Those who struggle with mood disorders or behavioral health problems, by and large, have inadequate or underdeveloped coping mechanisms. With the hope of feeling better, people will resort to unhealthy actions in an attempt to alleviate their symptoms. People who engage in the practice of self-medication exacerbate their symptoms and put themselves at risk of developing a co-occurring disorder or dual diagnosis.

Environmental factors must be considered too when striving to explain the causes of mental health problems. Both nature and nurture, along with genetic predisposition, have a hand in the development of psychological illnesses.

“The exact cause of most mental illnesses is not known, but genetic and environmental factors interact to increase (or decrease) the risk of mental illness for any particular individual,” said Ravi N. Shah, MD, assistant professor of psychiatry at Columbia University Medical Center.

 

The Genetic Underpinnings of Mental Health Disorders


As we move through May at The Haven, we feel it is essential to continue the discussion on mental illness. Being Mental Health Month, we would like to draw your attention to some exciting research out of Australia. The findings of a recent study could help experts determine which individuals are at the highest risk of experiencing a mental health disorder.

Identifying who is at most significant risk could lead to earlier interventions, and potentially prevent some adverse experiences. Scientists at QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute in Queensland, Australia, discovered genes linked to common forms of psychiatric morbidity, ABC News reports. Lead researcher Professor Eske Derks and colleagues identified 70 previously unknown genes linked to severe mental illnesses, including:
  • Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Depression
  • Schizophrenia
“There’s a lot of stigma surrounding mental health disorders and again our findings show that genetic risk factors play a large role and that these disorders have a biological component,” said Professor Derks.

The research team observed the activity or expression of more than 300 genes, according to the article. Previous research had already found associations between 261 genes and mental illness. The discovery of 70 new genes could provide a more accurate road map for experts to follow in diagnostics and treatment.

“The important finding is that we now have a better understanding of what these genes are doing in patients with a mental health disorder,” Professor Derks said. “So what we want to do next, and what will be one of our future studies, is to see if there’s any existing drugs that target these genes that we have now found — if they can normalize the activity of these genes and hopefully make the patients better.” 

SLO County Co-Occurring Disorder Treatment


Mental health disorders, addiction or otherwise, are treatable through a combination of evidence-based therapies. It is often the case that patients living with substance use disorder also experience a co-occurring disorder. Simultaneous treatment of both conditions is vital to successful treatment outcomes.

Our Pismo Beach co-occurring disorder treatment provides a continuum of care for individuals with co-occurring chemical dependency and mental illnesses. Please contact The Haven at Pismo today to learn more about the services we offer.

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Confronting Stigma: Going Public with Recovery

addiction
Talking about addiction isn’t an easy task. We live in a society that does not always look favorably on behavioral health problems. Even in recovery, people with use disorders still face stigma; members of the general public often view those with substance use issues as being broken souls.

Individuals who have never struggled with drugs and alcohol have a hard time making sense of why others would continue using despite the consequences. The same people wonder about the appeal of using substances in spite of the heartache attached to the practice. Many men and women look down on persons living with addiction.

Those who work a program of recovery are often bombarded by a salvo of questions as to why they no longer drink or drug. One’s addictive history is not anyone else’s business. However, it seems like a few people cannot help but inquire.

Some men and women have no issue talking about why they gave up on drugs and alcohol. Still, many others feel the need to hide the fact they are in recovery. No one (for example) wants to be viewed as being different. Those in recovery are committed to rejoining society; they hope to leave their shame in the past.

The Persistent Stigma of Addiction


Active addiction affects millions of Americans. With assistance, such people can find the path to long-term recovery. Alcohol and substance use disorder treatment helps people break the cycle of addiction, and it introduces them to programs for managing their illness.

12 Step recovery programs like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA) are relied on by people around the globe. The word “anonymous” is in the name for a reason; AA was founded in the 1930s. At that time, alcoholics were treated horribly by society. Those affected by addictive disorders were viewed as being morally weak or lacking willpower—even in sobriety.

Today, scientists tell us that addiction is a form of mental illness. No one wakes up and decides they are going to drink and drug until their life is in ruins. Individuals touched by the disease of addiction do not lack moral fiber or a strong constitution. Instead, those affected have a treatable disorder. With assistance, men and women can lead happy and healthy lives.

Despite having a better understanding of the mechanisms of addiction, people still keep their disease to themselves. Stigma persists in the United States to this day. It is unfortunate that society doesn’t view mental health conditions the same way they would diabetes. Both types of illness are not a choice; they are treatable and must be managed in perpetuity.

Everyone Has a Chance at Recovery


Everyone is eligible for recovery, provided that they have support and compassion. In recent years, a significant number of books are available on the subject of addiction. Many others openly write about what they went through with addiction and their progress in recovery.

Autobiographies about use disorders have the power to inspire some to seek help and provide others the strength to no longer keep their sobriety a secret. Free Refills: A Doctor Confronts His Addiction, a new book by Peter Grinspoon, MD, confronts stigma and discusses the argument for going public with sobriety.

Dr. Grinspoon is in recovery from opioid use disorder and has gone public about his struggles. In an article for the Harvard Health Blog, he points out that “secrets make you sick.” The fact that people in his social network know he is in recovery means they can step in to support him if he begins to struggle again.

Going public also prevents him from having to keep track of what he told each person about why he is sober. While alcohol was not his primary concern, Dr. Grinspoon was required to abstain for five years to get his medical license reinstated. During that time, you can probably imagine how many people asked him why he no longer drinks. The third reason he went public is as follows:

“Finally, I was increasingly intolerant of the blatant discrimination directed at my brothers and sisters in recovery. Contrary to popular wisdom, we are people too. Not only that, but we have a lot to teach the rest of society, knowledge forged out of struggle and remorse (and therapy). Addiction memoirs are crucial windows into the lives of those who have fought and overcome this scourge. I thought that with my memoir Free Refills, I could make a statement against stigma, by confronting head-on the taboo subject of physicians and addiction. I wanted to demonstrate that anyone can get addicted, even (or especially) your well-meaning doctor, and that, provided they have some ability to grow and change, they are afforded the treatment they deserve, and — most importantly —no one gives up on them, everyone has a chance at recovery.”

 

Central Coast Addiction Treatment Center


The Haven at Pismo offers evidence-based, addiction treatment for adults impacted by alcohol or substance use disorder. Please contact our team to learn more about the services and programs we provide. The Haven is the perfect place to renew your best today.

Thursday, May 2, 2019

Mental Health Month Inspires Change

Mental Health Month
Mental health is of vital importance to living a stable, productive, and fulfilling life. Those who neglect their psychological well-being are at considerable risk of experiencing significant problems. Fortunately, there are small acts people can do each day that can pay off in the long run. It’s not always simple, but a little bit of effort towards prioritizing mental health is essential.

On the heels of Alcohol Awareness Month, millions of people are focusing on mental well-being. May is Mental Health Month: a national observance that is now 70 years strong. There are many facets to the annual awareness campaign, including educating, speaking out, and encouraging people to share their successes.

In the rooms of addiction recovery, those with lengths of sobriety share what works with the newcomer. The hope is that those with less time will incorporate what they learn into everyday practice. Those who can take suggestions, follow direction, and be honest with themselves can achieve long-term recovery. In doing so, individuals carry these message into the future, and the cycle of recovery continues.

Since use disorders are a form of mental illness, it stands to reason that the same model applies to other conditions. Millions of Americans take steps each day to manage and cope with symptoms of depression, anxiety, and other mental health conditions. Such people accomplish this through various methods. Different techniques work for each person. Still, there is power in sharing about how to make progress; each success is an opportunity to help others.

Mental Health America is asking people who live with mental illness to share their strategies for maintaining overall health. During Mental Health Month, individuals can provide hope and affect change in people who are struggling.

Mental Health Month 2019: Helping Others


Physical and mental well-being depends on taking the time to prioritize eating healthy, exercise, and balance between work and play. The theme of MHM2019 is #4Body4Mind; all month, men and women are speaking out via social media. Mental Health America offers several tools to help guide those who have an interest in sharing their personal experience. Individuals who take part in the annual observance can help others:
  • Understand how lifestyle factors impact the health of the mind and body.
  • Start talking about mental health before Stage 4.
  • Assess their mental health through the use of screening tools.
  • Share their strategies for maintaining overall health by tagging social media posts with #4Mind4Body.
It is worth mentioning that untold millions of people are struggling with mental illness. Many of those who suffer have found it challenging to seek assistance. The stigma of psychiatric issues persists, and the shame that results from it bars people for reaching out for support.

Evidence-based screening tools and treatments exist—recovery is possible. Men and women can benefit significantly from hearing from those who have learned how to thrive in recovery. Sharing about your experience may result in a person finding the courage to seek treatment, recover and lead full, productive lives.

Inadequate social support makes it harder to recover from mental illnesses, while a strong social support system improves overall outcomes, according to research published in Psychiatry (2007). When those who are struggling with mental health find people to relate to, they are more likely to take steps to improve their mental health.

The sense of fellowship is one reason why persons in mutual help groups can break the cycle of self-destructive and self-defeating behaviors. If you’d like to get involved with MHM2019, please click here.

SLO County Co-Occurring Disorder Treatment


The majority of men and women living with addiction have a co-occurring mental health disorder. When a client arrives at a rehab center, concurrent treatment for each form of mental illness is paramount to a successful outcome.

We provide a continuum of care for clients with co-occurring chemical dependency and mental illnesses. Please contact The Haven at Pismo today to learn more about our Central Coast treatment center.

Mental Health Month is an excellent time to reach out for support and begin the journey of recovery. Our dedicated team of professionals is standing by to answer any of your questions. 805.202.3440

Thursday, April 25, 2019

DEA Take Back Day: Preventing Prescription Drug Misuse

Prescription Drug MisuseWhat is prescription drug misuse? According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), it is taking more than the recommended dose or using medicine without a prescription. Nonmedical use is when a person uses a pharmaceutical without a doctor's permission.

Individuals who take a prescription drug for its euphoric effects are engaging in nonmedical use. Prescription drug misuse can quickly lead to abuse. People need only scan the headlines to observe what can happen when a person takes too much. Over the last two decades, we have seen an alarming rise in overdose deaths relating to prescription drug misuse.

There are inherent dangers in using prescription opioids and sedatives in unintended ways. Most Americans understand that prescription drug misuse can lead to addiction and overdose. However, many of the patients with prescriptions remain willing to divert their medicines to friends or family members.

More than half (53.0 percent) of people, ages 12 or older, who misused pain relievers in 2016 reported obtaining the drugs from a friend or relative, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). According to the 2017 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 6 million Americans engaged in nonmedical prescription drug use.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports a total of 70,237 overdose deaths in 2017 in the United States. Opioids of any kind were involved in 47,600 deaths; of which, 17,029 involved a prescription painkiller. Drug theft, misplacement, and diversion are still significant issues even though overdose deaths involving prescription drugs have leveled. Heroin and synthetic opioids (i.e., fentanyl) are now two of the leading causes of fatal overdoses.

National Take Back Day


Combatting nonmedical prescription drug use and abuse is a must. The majority of current heroin users are introduced to opioids via prescription painkillers. Mitigating diversion opportunities can prevent initiation, addiction, and overdose.

In 2010, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) launched the National Take Back Initiative. Each spring and fall, the DEA provides opportunities for Americans to dispose of their unused or unwanted medication safely. Since the program’s creation, National Rx Take Backs have collected 10,878,950 pounds of drugs.

The federal agency reports that its safe-disposal sites collected more than 900,000 pounds of unused or expired prescription medication during the last Take Back Day. The DEA writes that:

“Too often, unused prescription drugs find their way into the wrong hands. That's dangerous and often tragic. That's why it was great to see thousands of folks from across the country clean out their medicine cabinets and turn in - safely and anonymously - a record amount of prescription drugs.” 

The Take Back is scheduled for this weekend; the organization encourages participation from everyone in possession of unused prescription medications. Please take a moment to watch a short PSA about the biannual event:


If you are having trouble watching, please click here.

Please follow the link to find a collection site near you.

 

Central Coast Opioid Use Disorder Treatment


Any person who is in the grips of opioid addiction can benefit from seeking detoxification and residential treatment. Severe withdrawal symptoms make it challenging for men and women to break the cycle of addiction long enough to develop a program of recovery. Relapse rates are particularly high in the first week of abstinence.

Seeking professional assistance for an opioid use disorder can significantly increase a person’s ability to adopt a recovery program. Please contact The Haven at Pismo to learn more about The Pines, our Central Coast residential detox home. Our team of credentialed addiction professionals can safeguard your health and manage withdrawal symptoms.

Once detox is complete, our Central Coast inpatient addiction treatment will help you rebuild your life and restore hope. We invite you to renew to your best today.