Tag Archives: recovery

President Trump Declared Opioid Crisis a Public Health Emergency

President Trump declared the opioid crisis a public health emergency. More than 140 Americans die every day from an opioid overdose. The nation's Public Health Emergency Fund has a current balance of just $57,000. But the opioid crisis is a $14 billion problem, at minimum. Listen in to this opiate recovery support group as they discuss how they would approach the crisis, if they had the funds to do so.

Discussion Guide:

Are you familiar with the declaration of the opioid crisis as a public health emergency? How is a public health emergency different from a national emergency?

What are the pros and cons of this declaration?

If you were in a position to change policy and were given funds to address the crisis, what strategies would you recommend?

Supplemental Reading:

Claude Brodesser-Akner, 7 takeways from Trump's opioids public health emergency: What it really means, http://www.nj.com/politics/index.ssf/2017/10/5_takeaways_from_trumps_public_health_emergency_de.html

Should An Opioid Relapse Be a Punishable Crime?

Consider this scenario. You are on probation for a drug related crime, you quickly enter treatment and relapse early in your recovery. Should you immediately be subject to probation violation and sent to prison? Or, is the disease of addiction cause to deter criminal punishment? Listen in to this opiate recovery support group as they discuss their opinions on this topic.

Discussion Guide:

Is addiction a choice or a disease? 

Do you believe that opioid addiction causes you to be prone to relapses?

Does the threat of incarceration motivate substance dependent people toward recovery?

If  addiction is a medical condition and relapsing is a part of the disease, is it unconstitutional to punish the addict with incarceration?

Under what circumstances is incarceration a reasonable outcome for opioid addicts?  

What do you recommend as guidelines for the criminal justice system in making these decisions?

Supplemental Reading:

Deborah Becker, Court to Rule on Whether Relapse Be An Addicted Opioid User Should Be a Crime, http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2017/10/26/559541332/court-to-rule-on-whether-relapse-by-an-addicted-opioid-user-should-be-a-crime

Attitudes and Stigma Drive Opioid Treatment and Policy, Not Research

Psychiatrist, Sarz Maxwell says that one of the greatest barriers to treatment and effective drug policy are attitudes towards drugs. Addiction is not seen as a disease, but as a moral failing. Methadone and Suboxone are not drugs of choice. They are medicines. Listen in to this opiate support group discuss stigma .

Discussion Guide:

It is said that this opioid epidemic is getting worse and the stigma against opioid abusers is worsening. Why would this be the case?

Dr. Maxwell said "It is not what the person does to the drug, it's what the drug does to the person." What does this mean?

Abstinence is one of the least effective methods of treatment for opioid addiction and has the lowest recovery rate. Have you been successful with long term abstinence without medication such as Methadone and Suboxone?

"Addiction is the only disease where we expect the patient to be immediately symptom and medication free."  Do people have this expectation of you?

In a genetically predisposed addict's brain, there are too many opioid receptors and too few endorphins. This can cause people to use substances in an effort to get normal. Did you feel abnormal without an opioid boost?

 

 

 

Developing Treatment for Cocaine Addiction: TMS

Opiate addicts are fortunate to have several treatment medications that help decrease cravings, stop withdrawal, and block feelings of eupohoria from opiates. Unfortunately, there is no comparable medication for cocaine addiction. Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) is now being applied to stimulate areas of the brain that control impulses. This is a foreign and frightening procedure for most people. Would you be willing to zap your brain in order to be free of a cocaine addiction? Listen in to this opiate recovery group as they discuss TMS.

Discussion Guide:

Are you familiar with TMS (Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation) and ECT (Electro-Convulsive Therapy)?

How do these treatments work?

Would you be willing to be zapped in an attempt to be free of cocaine?

Supplemental Reading:

Meredith Wadman, Brain-altering Magnetic Pulses Could Zap Cocaine Addiction, http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2017/08/brain-altering-magnetic-pulses-could-zap-cocaine-addiction

Mindfulness Helps You Cope with Cravings

People in recovery need a full recovery tool box to maintain abstinence. A new study from the University College London in the UK found that as little as 11 minutes of mindfulness training helped heavy drinkers to reduce their alcohol intake in the following week. Listen in to this opiate recovery group as they discuss whether mindfulness can be a helpful tool for opioid addicts.

Discussion Guide:

Are you familiar with "mindfulness"? What is it? Have you practiced it?

How is mindfulness different from relaxation?

How is mindfulness different from meditation?

How can mindfulness be helpful in your recovery?

Supplemental Reading:

Catharine Paddock, PhD, Very Brief Mindfulness Training Helped Heavy Drinkers Cut Back, http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/319120.php

Mindfulness sessions can be accessed through a number of phone apps. Search for "mindfulness" in your app store.

When Doctors Become Addicted

Between 8% and 12% of people will develop a substance abuse problem at some point in their lives. Physicians are vulnerable to substance abuse at the same rate as the general population yet they have higher recovery rates. Doctors with the most addiction problems tend to be anesthesiologists, emergency room doctors and psychiatrists. However, they can be more reluctant to enter treatment because of the fear of losing their professional licenses. Many state medical boards run special treatment programs for physicians and others in the health care industry. Should they have specialized treatment? Listen in to this opiate recovery support group as they discuss this special population.

Discussion Guide:

Why would a physician be vulnerable to substance abuse?

What makes physicians better able to hide their addiction?

Should they have their own treatment programs?

Why would they have higher recovery rates than the general population?

Supplemental Reading:

Soumya Karlamangla, Doctors and Drug Abuse: Why Addictions Can be So Difficult, http://www.latimes.com/local/california/la-me-doctors-addiction-20170720-story.html

Behavioral Addiction vs. Substance Addiction

When we think of addiction, we immediately think of alcohol, drugs and gambling.  Few of us think of sex, social media or spending as addictions. The DSM 5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) does not recognize behavioral addictions, other than gambling. Behaviors such as sex, social media and spending are not included in the approved list of addictions. But should they be included? Listen in to this opiate recovery support group as they discuss the similarities and differences between behavioral addictions and substance addictions.

Discussion Guide:

Are you familiar with the terms behavioral addictions, or process addictions? What are they?

Name examples of behavioral addictions.

How are behavioral addictions different than substance addictions?

How are they similar?

Do these two types of addictions have similar or dissimilar outcomes?

Supplemental Reading:

Robert Weiss, Can You Really be Addicted to a Behavior? http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/can-you-really-be-addicted-to-a-behavior_us_59938c79e4b0a88ac1bc380e

Marc Lewis, Behavioral Addictions vs. Substance Addictions https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/addicted-brains/201306/behavioral-addictions-vs-substance-addictions

Do Employers Have a Duty to Accommodate Workers Who Have a Past or Current Substance Use Problem?

You can't be under the influence of a substance and expect to keep your job. Or, can you? It gets complicated with the legalization of marijuana. Listen in to this opiate recovery support group as they discuss their experiences and opinions on employment and substance use policies.

Discussion Guide:

Have you experienced discrimination as a result of a drug or alcohol screen on the job?

Have you had a positive experience with an employer who offered resources or sick leave in order to accommodate your needs and preserve your job?

Federal and state law dictates how employers are to treat employees who have an active substance use problem, and how to treat someone with a history of addiction. What are the laws in your state?

Are you familiar with the American with Disabilities Act (ADA)? The ADA covers businesses with 15 or more employees and protects workers with a history of illicit drug use under certain conditions. Do you know what the conditions are?

Under what conditions is alcoholism treated as a disability?

Does your employer have a written drug and alcohol policy in place? Have you read it? Would you feel safe to disclose your drug use history and progress?

What is your opinion regarding the handling of medical marijuana in the workplace? Should it be accommodated even if you are under the influence?

Suppmental Reading:

Lisa Nagele-Piazza, Accommodating Workers with a History of Substance Abuse, http://www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/legal-and-compliance/state-and-local-updates/pages/accommodating-workers-with-a-history-of-substance-abuse.aspx

Is It Hard for You To Ask for Help?

Many people have difficulty asking for help. Especially when it pertains to an embarrassing or shameful situation. People who realize they need help for an addiction can be reluctant to reach out. Listen in to hear our opiate support group talk about their experiences of asking for help.

Discussion Guide:

Is it easy for you to ask for help? If not, which of the following ways would make it easier? What are the pros and cons of each?

1. Write your request in a letter or email

2. Talk to someone you trust

3. Discuss your struggle with a stranger

4. Reach out to a medical professional

5. Search for online resources

6. Seek out someone who has been in your position

7. Call a helpline

Supplemental Reading:

Beth Leipholtz, 7 Ways to Ask for Help When You're Struggling with Addiction, https://www.thefix.com/7-ways-ask-help-when-you-re-struggling-addiction

What’s the Purpose of Support Groups?

Should you talk about your addiction war stories? Some people believe that telling your addiction history is not helpful. They fear that it could cause cravings and relapse to themselves and others. On the other hand, isn't your support group the appropriate place to talk out your trauma? It can be healing. Listen in to this opiate recovery support group as they discuss the rationale and goals of support groups.

Discussion Guide:

Have you felt that some of your group members have glorified their drug related behavior in the past?

If so, has that triggered a craving or relapse for you?

What are the pros and cons of telling your story to other group members?

What do you think the rationale and goals of support groups are?

What is the most helpful thing that you have experienced from your support group?

Supplemental Reading:

Group Interventions for Treatment of Psychological Trauma, http://www.agpa.org/docs/default-source/practice-resources/group-interventions-for-treatment-of-trauma-in-adults.pdf?sfvrsn=2, see page 32-33.