Tag Archives: substance abuse

Recovery Can Be Difficult Over the Holidays

Recovery can be especially difficult over the holidays due to family gatherings and stigma against medication assisted treatment. Listen in to this opioid support group as they discuss their handling of holidays.

Discussion Guide:

Is your family or social network supportive of your medication assisted treatment?

If not, how do you handle negative attitudes against your choice of recovery?

Do you have a prepared statement which can defuse a difficult situation?

If you have a supportive and warm family how did they come to accept you and your medication?

Supplemental Reading:

Promises Treatment Center, Tips to Support Recovery During the Holidays, http://www.promises.com/articles/addiction-recovery/tips-to-support-recovery-during-the-holidays/

Rebuttal to an Abstinence Only Advocate

One of our group members wrote a rebuttal to a local newspaper column that had espoused an abstinence only view of opiate recovery. Our member wrote "It does no good to judge an addict on their form of treatment. What matters is if the treatment is successful or not." Listen in as the group discusses their views about medication assisted treatment and recovery.

Discussion Guide:

Have you utilized medicated assisted treatment for opiate addiction? If so, in your opinion, how does it compare to opiate abstinence without medication?

Have you been prevented from utilizing MAT (Medication Assisted Treatment) from someone in authority over you?

How do you combat negative and misinformed comments about MAT? What are the dangers of expounding a negative view?

How do you respond to the stigma against substance abusers as if it is a moral issue?

In what way is MAT similar and dissimilar to insulin for diabetes? Do you think it is a good analogy?

Have others implied that you should "man up" and stop using MAT? How has this effected you?

 

 

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

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

What’s Up with Civil Commitments for Substance Abusers?

There are times when we cannot act in our own best interests and others need to intervene. When people are deemed to be a danger to themselves or others a judge can order treatment. Most people are aware of involuntary commitments to psychiatric care especially in the case of suicide or homicide. But civil commitments to substance abuse treatment is less frequently ordered. The opioid crisis has led to a surge in petitions for civil commitments. Too many people have died of opioid overdoses and families are desperate for help to keep their loved one alive. Listen in to this opiate support recovery group discuss their experiences with civil commitments.

Discussion Guide:

Have you ever been involuntarily committed to treatment because you were thought to be a danger to yourself or others? What was the process?

Do you believe that involuntary commitments are helpful? Can it keep people safe?

Are involuntary commitments appropriate for opiate dependent people to ensure they don't die of overdose?

Not all counties offer civil commitments for substance abusers. Does your town have a commitment process for substance abusers?

If you were involuntarily committed to treatment in your town, are there programs in your area that are skilled, accessible and affordable? Do you trust a judge's opinion on where they may send you?

What could go wrong with involuntary commitments?

Supplemental Reading:

Maria Cramer, Worse Than Jail: Addicts Civilly Committed Say DOC Abused Them and Failed to Treat Them, https://www.boston.com/news/local-news/2017/07/14/worse-than-jail-addicts-civilly-committed-say-doc-abused-them-and-failed-to-treat-them

Are Narcan Parties a Thing?

Have you heard the rumor that groups of people are having Narcan parties? It is alleged that thrill seekers want the experience of dying and are using Narcan to pull them back from death. Is it fact or fiction? Listen in to this opiate recovery support group as they give their opinions on the subject.

Discussion Guide:

Have you heard of "Narcan parties" also known as "Lazarus parties"?

People who abuse substances are risk takers. They never know if they will die from their next fix. Have you pushed the limits so far that you have depended on someone else to bring you back with Narcan?

Do you think the people who would participate in a Narcan party are suicidal, thrill seekers or both?

Who would be more likely to use Narcan to bring them back from the dead? An opiate dependent person or a non-dependent person?

What does Narcan do to a person who is addicted to opiates upon their regaining consciousness?

Have you ever known a drug dealer to offer Narcan with their heroin or opiates? What would the purpose be?

How will the so called Narcan parties hurt opiate addicts and add to the stigma against them?

Who benefits from the reports of these parties?

Supplemental Reading:

Chris Elkins, Are Narcan Parties Really a Growing Trend? http://www.drugrehab.com/2017/05/12/are-narcan-parties-a-growing-trend/