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Friday, October 26, 2018

Prescription Opioids of Tomorrow

prescription opioids
Tomorrow is National Prescription Drug Take Back Day; Saturday, October 27, 2018, 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM, please click here to find a location near you. Safely disposing of all unused or unwanted medication can prevent diversion, misuse, abuse, addiction, and overdose. Any person who is holding on to prescription narcotics is invited to visit a collection site and help combat the addiction crisis we face today.

The majority of Americans understand that the addiction epidemic raging across America – stealing more than a hundred lives each day – is inextricably linked to prescription opioids. For many years, doctors doled out drugs for just about anything pain, from a sore back to palatial care. Prescription painkillers are effective for acute pain, but research indicates that few of the millions of Americans living with chronic pain benefit from drugs like OxyContin.

Research appearing in JAMA this year indicates that prescription opioid relievers demonstrated no advantages over non-opioid painkillers for treating common types of chronic pain. What’s more, there is a growing body of evidence that suggests that patients with severe discomfort can benefit from alternative forms of pain management. However, such findings have done little to slow the rate of opioid prescribing, despite recommendations and guidelines from public health organizations.

Prescription Painkiller Controversy

Many years after it became apparent that the nation was in the midst of a prescription opioid epidemic, lawmakers and experts alike called for big pharma to make some changes. Companies like Purdue Pharma – the makers of OxyContin – were compelled to reformulate their drug to make it more tamper-resistant. Other companies were asked to do the same. Simultaneously, pharmaceutical companies were in the midst of developing stronger, more deadly narcotics.

Despite a public outcry over the years to rein in big pharma, the agency tasked with looking after public’s use of medication, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), almost always sides with and approves new drugs. Regardless of the glaring risks of supporting Zohydro® ER (hydrocodone bitartrate) – Vicodin sans Acetaminophen – the FDA went ahead and approved the narcotic—with no abuse-deterrent features. Some may find it hard to believe, but the drug was greenlighted against the recommendation of the agency’s own advisory committee. Attempting to make sense of such decisions can be dizzying. Nonetheless, Americans should be made aware of the controversies surrounding prescription opioids.

In 2012-13, Zohydro’s approval gained significant attention from the media, but the drug still went to market. Now five years later, the FDA is in the process of signing off on a new drug that is 500 times stronger than morphine, Market Watch reports. For reference, the deadly synthetic opioid fentanyl dominating the news cycle of late is 100 times more potent than morphine.


Prescription Opioids of Tomorrow

The FDA’s Anesthetic and Analgesic Drug Products Advisory Committee recommends Dsuvia for U.S. approval; a final decision could come as soon as Nov. 3, 2018, according to the article. The narcotic – which is roughly five times as powerful as fentanyl – comes in a preloaded plastic applicator; the medication is intended for sublingual use (under the tongue). Moreover, the chair of the agency’s committee, Dr. Raeford Brown, says that design makes it more divertible; Dr. Brown is against approving the drug. Still, the panel voted 10-3 in favor of Dsuvia.

“This drug offers no advance, in my mind, over previously available opioid formulations, but provides great risk of harm to patients and the general public health,” says Brown, a professor of anesthesiology and pediatrics at the University of Kentucky. He adds, “I just don’t believe at this point in the U.S. that there is any good reason to put another potent opioid on the streets.” 

AcelRx, the maker of Dsuvia, states that the drug would only be found in medically supervised settings, like a hospital, the article reports. However, Dr. Brown points out that preventing diversion of prescription opioids – even in specific environments – is challenging.

Opioid Addiction Treatment

If you are struggling with prescription painkillers or another form of opioid, please contact The Haven. We offer medically supervised, top quality care for those living with a use disorder or coöccurring mental illness. The Haven at Pismo is the perfect place to renew to your best today.

Monday, October 22, 2018

The Recovery Benefits of Spending Time Outdoors This Fall

Spending time outdoors this fall can be a big boon to your mental and physical health as well as your overall recovery. This is because it can help with stress management, sleep, socialization and more. Here’s a closer look at the benefits along with some ways you can get more fresh air this autumn.
  • You’ll boost your mental health. Nature and outdoor activities are a natural way to ease symptoms of anxiety and depression. Just think about how you felt the last time you strolled through the park or even stepped outside and inhaled the crisp air.
  • You’ll feel more relaxed.  Nature has been linked with lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol and reduced blood pressure and heart rate. This is partly because of the colors and scents found in nature. Bonus: If it’s sunny outside, you’ll get some mood- and immune-boosting vitamin D.
  • You’ll have sunnier thoughts.  Stanford scientists discovered that walking in nature can reduce obsessive, negative thoughts. And if you’re walking vigorously or jogging, you’ll reap these benefits even more.
  • You’ll have better slumber. Even if you only get outdoors in the a.m., the effects can last until nighttime. In fact, studies show that a healthy dose of fresh air can help you fall and stay asleep.
  • You’ll expand your social network. Walking the same route each day or heading to the dog park is a great way to meet new people and possibly expand your network of sober friends.
Outdoor Recreation for a Better Recovery
It certainly can’t hurt to try to sneak a little fresh air into your recovery schedule – even if it’s just 10 or 15 minutes each day. Try one of these ideas:
  • Biking
  • Hiking
  • Outdoor walk, jog or run
  • Gardening
  • Meditation or journaling outdoors
  • Pick-nicking in the park
  • Playing tennis, soccer or golf
  • Horseback riding
Get Nurtured in Nature
At Haven, we know that spending time outdoors reduces anxiety and depression, encourages healing, enhances creativity and promotes gratitude. Our Central Coast location is blessed with year-round sunshine, making it the perfect place for outdoor recreation as part of your recovery. To learn more about our location and programs, call today: 805-202-3440.

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Remembering an Addiction Medicine Pioneer

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) is a federal-government research institute whose mission is to "lead the Nation in bringing the power of science to bear on drug abuse and addiction." Many Americans are familiar with NIDA and its director Dr. Nora Volkow; however, the majority of those with knowledge of the organization are unaware of its origins. NIDA is the offspring of the Addiction Research Center, part of United States Public Health Service (PHS), established in Lexington, Kentucky.

One of the pioneers in addiction treatment got his start in the field after college by volunteering for the United States Public Health Service. In 1964, Dr. Herbert Kleber thought he would fulfill his military obligation by working for the USPHS, but he didn’t know he would be assigned to the Public Health Service Prison Hospital at Lexington, Ky, The New York Times reports. He couldn’t have known then that that position would result in a career in addiction medicine.

Upon completing his two-year obligation Kleber had plans to go into psychiatry; but, he would soon realize that his work with the Addiction Research Center caused others to think he had a better understanding of addiction than most doctors, according to the article. Pleas for help on the subject matter from not just doctors but also parents led Dr. Kleber to become an expert and pioneer in the field.

Pioneer in Addiction Treatment

Dr. Herbert Kleber died at the age of 84 on October 5, 2018, while vacationing with his family in Greece. He suffered a heart attack on the island of Santorini. Over the course of his career, Kleber’s work led to several advancements in the field of addiction medicine; he developed treatments that would make withdrawal more comfortable for patients. His methods would also help people avoid relapse and maintain programs of recovery, the article reports. His work transformed the study of addiction into a medical discipline.

“He was at the vanguard of bringing scientific rigor to the area of addiction,” said Dr. Frances R. Levin, director of the division on substance use disorders (started by Dr. Kleber) at Columbia University Medical Center. 

When Kleber began work at the prison hospital in Lexington, a facility that “treated” many celebrities over the years including William S. Burroughs (“Junky,” 1953), the approach to addiction treatment was punitive. In contrast, Dr. Kleber designed “evidence-based treatment” methods rooted in science rather than the moral turpitude of such conditions. He co-founded the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse, now the Center on Addiction).

“His legacy,” Joseph Califano, Jr., the former secretary of Health, Education and Welfare under President Jimmy Carter, said in a statement, “will be the trained generations of professionals who will carry on his work and the thousands of lives that have been saved.”

Evidence-Based Addiction Treatment

Everyone working in the field of addiction today owes Dr. Kleber a debt of gratitude for his tireless efforts in the area of addiction. Who knows how different things would be today if it were not for the advancements he helped bring about, he was one of the catalysts who helped create the paradigm shift in society viewing addiction as a disease. When asked how he kept his head up after working with alcoholics and addicts for so long, Dr. Kleber quoted the Talmud:

“The day is short. The task is difficult. It is not our duty to finish it, but we are forbidden not to try.” 

Please contact the Haven at Pismo if you are struggling with drugs and alcohol, and would like to begin the journey of recovery. We provide medically supervised top-quality care that utilizes evidence-based treatment modalities. The Haven is the perfect place to renew to your best today.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Mental Illness Awareness Week: Cure Stigma

cure stigma
Have you been tested for stigma? Yes, there is a test to see if you harbor misconceptions about mental illness and if you may be inadvertently contributing to other people’s reluctance to seek treatment. The fact is that, of the millions of Americans struggling with mental health disorders, many carry a lot of shame about their illness. Shame and guilt about living with the symptoms of psychological distress keep people in silence, unable to share with others about their problems. While stigma contributes to mental illness being a guarded secret among some, the good news is that unlike the disorder, stigma is 100 percent curable.

It is a fact that humans are afraid of what they don’t understand. Men and women fear that which they lack knowledge about and as a result do and say things that keep others from reaching out for help. Nobody wants to be known as someone who struggles with a disease of the mind due to the pervasiveness of stigma; most people’s solution to the dilemma is to keep quiet and pretend that everything is under control. Meanwhile, symptoms worsen; life quality becomes dire. Moreover, when people feel like they have nowhere to turn for help, they are prone to make rash decisions that can be disastrous.

The National Alliance On Mental Illness (NAMI) would like to set the record straight about mental health and help society grasp the dangers of ignoring the mental afflictions affecting people in the community. NAMI encourages everyone to help Cure Stigma; the organization points out that we can all help save lives by exercising compassion, empathy, and understanding.


Ending Stigma, Encouraging Treatment

Evidence-based treatments for addiction and other forms of mental illness are effective. Unfortunately, the vast majority of those living with such conditions feel discouraged about asking for help. In fact, almost 60% of adults with a mental health disorder didn’t receive mental health services in the previous year.

NAMI asks that we all take time to spread the message that stigma is curable and that treatment works during Mental Illness Awareness Week or MIAW. You are invited to follow this link and take a test to learn if you have been infected by stigma. The organization asks that you take to your social media accounts to share facts about diseases of the mind and exhibit compassion for those whose lives are in chaos. NAMI states:
There’s a virus spreading across America. It harms the 1 in 5 Americans affected by mental health conditions. It shames them into silence. It prevents them from seeking help. And in some cases, it takes lives. What virus are we talking about? It’s stigma. Stigma against people with mental health conditions. But there’s good news. Stigma is 100% curable. Compassion, empathy and understanding are the antidote. Your voice can spread the cure. Join NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness. Together we can #CureStigma.


Dual Diagnosis Treatment

Today is a perfect day to take action if you haven’t already, seeing as it is World Mental Health Day, October 10, 2018. Together, we can spread the message that no one is at fault for his or her mental health condition. It is worth noting that of the 20.2 million adults in America who experienced a substance use disorder, 50.5 percent (10.2 million adults) had a co-occurring mental illness.

The Haven at Pismo is fully equipped to treat men and women living with an alcohol or substance use disorder and co-occurring mental illness like depression or bipolar disorder. Please contact us to learn more about our program. The Haven is the perfect place to renew to your best today!

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

It's World Mental Health Day

Mental Health DayTomorrow is World Mental Health Day, held each year on October 10 to highlight issues of global mental health education, awareness and advocacy against the social stigma of mental health illnesses, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

If you or someone you care about is struggling with mental illness, then you know just how important it is to shine a spotlight on the issue. And this is especially important if you’re in recovery from a co-occurring addiction and mental illness. Individuals with a substance use disorder are twice as likely as the general population to suffer from mood and anxiety disorders, notes the National Institute on Drug Abuse. And many of these co-occurring disorders predate the start of drug or alcohol use.

This year’s theme of World Mental Health Day is young people and mental health. Half of all mental health conditions begin by age 14, and most cases are undetected or untreated. This could lead self-medication, addiction and even suicide. In fact, suicide is the third leading cause of death in young adults age 15–19.

According to WHO, mental health promotion and prevention are key to helping both adolescents and adults thrive. So what can you do to take part in World Mental Health Day? Well, first and foremost carve out time to check in with yourself. How are you feeling emotionally? Are you taking enough time to nourish your mind, body and spirit? Think about what you can do today – and every day – to ensure your caring for your mental health. 

And then reach out to someone else who may be struggling with depression, anxiety or addiction. No one should have to navigate mental illness alone. Let your friend or loved one know that "it's okay not to be okay," and that you are there for them and take time to really listen to how they’re feeling. 

Seeking Treatment for Co-Occurring Disorders
The Haven at Pismo offers clients with co-occurring addiction and mental illness a continuum of care in one recovery program. To learn more about our integrated dual-diagnosis treatment program, call us today: 805-202-3440. 

Friday, October 5, 2018

Opioid Addiction Legislation Finalized

opioid addiction
In a rare instance of bipartisan support, lawmakers in the U.S. Senate has finalized a version of a package of bills written to address the American opioid addiction epidemic, The Washington Post reports. It would seem that putting an end to the more than 100 overdose deaths each day is one of the only things that our elected officials can agree upon, and not a moment too soon. Last year, more than 70,000 men and women lost their lives to a fatal overdose. More than two million individuals are in the grips of an opioid use disorder, and millions more are wrestling with substance use-related problems.

While the Senate is right to hail their collective achievement to tackle opioid addiction, there are some doubts among experts that the package will accomplish its goal; we will address such concerns later in this article. The vote to pass the Senate opioid package came in at 98-1; last week the U.S. House of Representatives passed its version of legislation 393 to 8, according to the article. All that remains left to do is for POTUS to sign the package, which is likely to happen any day now as lawmakers step up their efforts for reëlection.

In the following passages, we will discuss some of the critical points of the legislation, what’s there and what is missing. A collaborative effort to address the Nation’s most severe public health crisis is crucial, especially concerning the ever-growing prevalence of synthetic opioids like fentanyl.


Tackling Opioid Addiction Requires Funding

First, let’s take a look at some of the most notable features of the package of legislation to address the opioid epidemic. The package calls for $8.5 billion for opioid-related programs this year to expand and reauthorize programs and policies across almost every federal agency. The primary targets of the various bills are prevention, treatment, and recovery. The key pieces of legislation include:
  • A measure creating a grant program for addiction treatment centers that include housing, life skills training, and mental and physical health care.
  • A bill altering a decades-old rule prohibiting Medicaid from covering patients with substance use disorders being treated in a mental health facility with more than 16 beds. 30 days of residential treatment coverage are now permissible.
  • Legislation requiring the U.S. Postal Service to screen packages for synthetic opioids coming from overseas, particularly China.
  • A bill increasing access to medication-assisted treatment, or MAT.
Even though some public health advocates support the package of bills, several experts have significant concerns over funding, the article reports. The $8.5 billion for opioid-related programs is for just one year and no assurances that the bills will find financing in the years to come. Some lawmakers have called for an exponential funding increase commensurate with what Congress appropriated to address the HIV and AIDS epidemic; interestingly, the opioid package is modeled on Congress’ response to HIV/AIDS in the 1990’s.

“This legislation edges us closer to treating addiction as the devastating disease it is, but it neglects to provide the long-term investment we’ve seen in responses to other major public health crises,” said Lindsey Vuolo, Associate Director of Health Law and Policy at Center on Addiction. “We won’t be able to make meaningful progress against the tide of addiction unless we make significant changes to incorporate addiction treatment into the existing health care system.”


Opioid Use Disorder Treatment

The Haven at Pismo can help you break the cycle of opioid addiction and give you the tools for leading a productive, meaningful life in recovery. Please reach out to us today to learn more about our medically supervised and top-quality care. The Haven is the perfect place to renew to your best today.