Older Adults in Treatment Increasing
The number of adults over 50 in rehab treatment facilities is growing, according to a recent study by New York University. The study, “Demographic Trends of Adults in New York City Opioid Treatment Programs- An Aging Population,” used data collected by New York State’s Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS) which provides national information on treatment population, including characteristics like demographic, self -reported substance abuse and self-reported physical abuse.
“Most notably,” says Benjamin Han, MD, MPH, an instructor at NYUSoM and the study’s principle investigator, “we found a pronounced age trend in those utilizing opioid treatment programs from 1996 to 2012, with adults aged 50 and older becoming the majority treatment population.”
The study discussed the documentation of the increase in drug rehab by older adults. They reported that in 1996, adults over the age of 50 accounted for 7.8 percent of the treatment population whereas, in 2012, older adults accounted for 35.9 percent. During this time period overall treatment population also dropped 7.6 percent, which makes those percentages even more significant. Furthermore, those under 40 years old accounted for 56.2 percent of patients in 1996 and 20.5 percent in 2012. Further, The demographic of these populations also changed over time, with the amount of older adult black patients decreasing and the number of older adult white patients increasing.
“These increases are especially striking, considering there was about a 7.6% decrease in the total patient population over that period of time, and suggests that we are facing a never before seen epidemic of older adults with substance use disorders and increasing numbers of older adults in substance abuse treatment. Unfortunately there is a lack of knowledge about the burden of chronic diseases and geriatric conditions or the cognitive and physical function of this growing population” Dr. Han reported.
The researchers predict that the number of older adults in treatment will continue to rise, especially over the next decade. These adults have specific needs and should be treated from a geriatric perspective.
Heroin Addiction Treatments
With Heroin addiction on the rise, more and more people are researching treatment and rehab methods and procedures. Many treatments are available for heroin addiction, including both pharmacological (medications) and behavioral treatments. Both help to restore normalcy to brain function and behavior, which can result in healthier lifestyles, including increased employment rates and lower risks of diseases and criminal behavior. Although behavioral and pharmacologic treatments are extremely useful when they are utilized alone, research shows that for many people, integrating both types of treatments is an extremely effective approach.
- Pharmacological Treatment
Research shows that pharmacological treatment of opioid addiction correlates positively with an increase in retention in treatment programs. Further, pharmacological treatment also is shown to decrease drug use, infectious disease transmission, and criminal activity. Medications can be helpful in the withdrawal/detoxification stage where pain, diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting are commonly present. Medications can ease cravings and other physical symptoms, which often prompt a person to relapse.
Effective medications for heroin/opiate addiction include:
- Methadone: a slow-acting opioid drug that activates receptors in the brain. Methadone is taken orally so that it reaches the brain slowly, dampening the “high” that occurs with other routes of administration while preventing withdrawal symptoms. This narcotic drug has been used since the 1960s to treat heroin addiction and is used as a pain reliever through the intense detox process. Methadone is only available through approved outpatient treatment programs, where it is safely dispensed to patients on a daily basis.
- Buprenorphine has the advantage of being only a partial opioid agonist – which makes it a safer drug in case of abuse because it is less likely to cause respiratory depression.
- Naltrexone is an opioid antagonist, in other words it works in the opposite way of the aforementioned drugs; it blocks the brain’s neurotransmitters. Naltrexone blocks the action of opioids, is not addictive or sedating, and does not result in physical dependence; however, patients often have trouble complying with the daily dosing treatment, limiting its effectiveness.
- Behavioral Therapies
The many effective behavioral treatments available for heroin addiction can be delivered in both outpatient and inpatient residential settings. Approaches such as contingency management and cognitive-behavioral therapy have been shown to effectively treat heroin addiction, especially when applied together with medications. Contingency management uses a point-based system in which patients earn “points” based on negative drug tests, which they can exchange for items that encourage healthy living. Cognitive-behavioral therapy is designed to help modify the patient’s expectations and behaviors related to drug use and to increase skills in coping with various life stressors.
Most importantly, when deciding on types of therapy and medications, it is critical to match the best heroin treatment approach to meet the particular needs of the patient.
With the New Year holiday just behind us, many who resolved to become sober years ago during this time of year are experiencing their sobriety anniversaries. A sobriety anniversary can mean more to a recovering addict than their own birthday. For many, the day that they become clear and sober is truly comparable to a rebirth. Some old fiends may not even recognize those who have recovered as the same people they were before because there is such a change that has occurred. Many individual have begun new habits like working out and their physical appearance has changed. For others, they may experience a new way of thinking that gives them better taste in clothes and make up. With each sobriety anniversary, individuals may learn to express their thoughts more effectively thoughts using less offensive language. Some have gone back to school and receive an education. Many people celebrate their sobriety anniversaries with others who have come far in recovery. Simply put, with each sobriety anniversary, life seems a little easier, a lot happier, and more simple. Staying clean and continuing to do the work will ensure more and more sobriety anniversaries. Happy Anniversary to every addict and alcoholic who get another day!
5 Things to Avoid During Drug Rehab
Overcoming addictions can be a long-term process that may include both inpatient and outpatient treatment. Although having a good attitude and being willing to change are key factors in drug rehab success, there are also thing that play a key role in the outcome of drug rehab. Among these things there are things and behaviors to avoid. Below are 5 things to steer clear of to have a more successful drug rehab experience:
Many individuals use drugs or alcohol as a way to handle daily stressful situations. If you can’t find a way to cope with stress without drugs or alcohol, the feeling of needing these things to cope will surely return. Learning how to behave when warning signs of stress and relapse appear is important. Concerns about stress and hope to handle it should be discussed often and openly in drug rehab.
2. Non-certified drug rehab programs
When you start looking for drug and alcohol treatment, focus on what is truly important: quality of care during the rehab program, appropriate licensing, follow up services and staff credentials.
3. Poor diet
If your goal is to build a successful sober life, it is important to make changes to what you eat. The food we eat plays an important role in our life, affecting us both physically and mentally. Avoiding fried foods, foods with sugar, or foods that come pre-packaged is best. Also, eat nutritionally balanced from all food groups.
Negative thoughts leading to depression can affect drug rehab in a bad way. Being very mindfulness of your thoughts and mental moods can help with personal goals and aid in perceiving life situations more objectively. It takes time to get away from old thought patterns but striving to do so will bring more success in rehab.
5. Unhelpful triggers.
During drug rehab- especially inpatient rehab- it will be easier to avoid places, people, or activities that trigger the cravings for doing drugs and/or drinking alcohol. Selecting a drug rehab facility which is physically far from your previous unhealthy lifestyle can help to avoid triggers. It is also important to stop communication with friends who are still abusing drugs/alcohol.
Signs of Drug Abuse
Recognizing drug abuse in someone close to you can be difficult because often those using drugs go to great lengths to disguise their usage. Because of this, a drug abuse problem can go unnoticed for long periods of time, taking spouses and family members by surprise when the addiction is finally apparent. However, obvious signs of drug abuse exist and if there is concern about someone, watching for these warning signs can be helpful. Below are some major physical, behavioral, and emotional signs of drug abuse:
- Sudden changes in appetite or weight
- Changes in sleep patterns
- Disputes and contention with others
- Problems paying attention
- Injection marks
- Frequent itching
- Changes in skin coloration
- Suspicious behavior
- Monetary changes
- Changes in hygienic habits
- Personality changes
- Diminished interest in hobbies or social activities
- Changes in friendships
- Sudden reduction in motivational levels
- Criticisms from peers and superiors
- Lethargy or hyperactivity
- Bloodshot eyes
- Frequent bloody noses
Examining Drug Use Patterns
A recent article posted on psychcentral.com is very helpful in identifying whether or not you (or someone close to you) truly have an addiction problem. What’s the difference between social drinking and being an alcoholic? How do you know if you are on the road to dangerous addictions or not? Truly, this varies for each individual, but the author of the aforementioned article gives some good guidelines as to how to define these boundaries in defining 4 degrees of drug use.
People experiment with drugs for all kinds of reasons. Some are curious about what it will feel like, others are pressured by someone else. Most people who, despite their motivations, experiment with drugs or alcohol do not become addicted. However, the thought that ”just once won’t hurt anything” is incorrect because one could drink and drive for instance. Further, in individuals who are predisposed to addictions, partaking of a substance one time can set in motion a pattern of drug abuse and dependency.
#2 Social Use
“The social drinker or drug user uses substances in social situations, usually to relax, fit in or have fun. Although it seems innocent enough, especially compared to the solitary drug user, social use often leads to greater degrees of substance use. If the social user continues using even in the face of negative consequences, they’ve crossed the line into substance abuse” (psychcentral.org).
#3 Binge Drinking
Binge drinking is a dangerous pattern of drug use. Many tend to overlook binge drinking as being problematic because it doesn’t occur on a daily basis. However,
“binge drinkers are 14 times more likely to report driving under the influence than those who do not binge drink. Binge drinking has also been linked with alcohol poisoning, unintended pregnancies, sexually transmitted diseases, assaults, accidental injuries, liver disease and high blood pressure, among other negative consequences…. But despite these dangers, more than half of the alcohol consumed by adults and 90 percent of the alcohol consumed by underage drinkers in the U.S. is in the form of binge drinks. Young adults are the most likely to binge drink, even though early drug use is strongly associated with drug and alcohol addictions later in life” (psychcentral.org).
#4 Substance Abuse and Addiction
Defining substance abuse and addiction can be challenging, but the behaviors that are exhibited when substance abuse and addiction occur are fairly basic. In the basic sense, when a substance interferes with one’s daily life and routine, it can be an addiction. Psychcentral.org outlines a few of these: (psychcentral.org)
- Trying to control your drug or alcohol use unsuccessfully
- Using drugs or alcohol in dangerous situations (e.g., before driving)
- Spending a great deal of time finding, using and recovering from the effects of drugs
- Withdrawing from friends and family, or giving up other activities to use drugs
- Needing more of a drug to get the same high (i.e., tolerance)
- Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when trying to quit drugs
Depade is a new prescription medication used to treat alcohol and opiate addictions. Depade works by blocking the pleasing effects that alcohol and opioid drugs produce and tackles cravings for these substances by helping take one’s mind off drinking/drugs and focus on recovery instead.
More specifically, Depade is most often used as a part of a holistic addiction treatment program that generally includes counseling meetings, psychotherapy, cognitive-behavioral therapy, educational sessions, medical and family support, and other types of treatment a recovering addict may need. As mentioned previously, Depade works by blocking the chemical responses that make alcohol and opioid drugs rewarding. Depade cannot get individuals high.
Many individuals are concerned about the addictiveness of Depade. However, the good news is that Depade has been shown to be a non-addictive medication with no risk of cross-addiction. But, it is important to recognize that although Depade helps alcoholics and opiad users in long-term recovery stay substance free, it is not simply a pill that will cure addiction. Depade is best used as a part of a thorough addiction treatment program that includes other practices such as psychotherapy and behavioral therapy.
Physicians counsel that not everyone should start on Depade immediately. It must be shown that patients recovering from alcohol addictions have been successful in abstaining for 307 days before taking the drug. Also, Depade is intended for the treatment of opioid dependent patients who have stopped using illicit or prescription opioid drugs for 10-14 days.
Stronger Family Relations = Less Drug Use
A recent study published in Drug and Alcohol Dependence shows that having strong and open family relationships may discourage family members from using drugs. The study noted communications between 675 parents and children of Latino families. The study focused solely on Latinos due to the fact that Latino adolescents have a higher risk of abusing drugs.
The researchers in the study observed students when they were in fifth grade and then followed up with them again when they were in seventh grade, two years later. Because it has been shown that this is the age range when kids are most likely to begin experimenting with drugs, this particular age group was observed. Further, this is also an age at which it has been shown that parents are least likely to have a close relationship with their children.
The results of the study showed that parents have a huge impact on their children’s choices in regards to drug use as far as how they communicate with each other and whether or not they develop solid relationships. Also key is having a united front on the subject of drug use as parents. When both parents agree on the subject while discussing drug use with children, there is a much stronger impact and kids show less tendencies to abuse drugs later.
Research also shows that a great way to have open and honest communication within a family is to have family dinners whenever possible. That time together around the table has proven to develop meaningful family relationships and open communication which leads to more trust within the family and less drug use.
Sobriety and the Holidays
It’s that time of the year; the holidays are upon us. It is a time to celebrate, give thanks and exchange gifts with family and friends. Although these celebrations and holiday events can be exciting and wonderful, often sobriety is tested. At about every gathering, party, and event alcohol is present. For those in recovery fighting to maintain sobriety, this can be a dangerous and tempting combination that could potentially lead to a relapse. However, there are many ways to keep sobriety intact during this holiday season.
Most importantly, remember that sobriety comes first. If a situation arises that makes one crave their substance of choice, they must remove themselves from that situation as quickly as possible; in other words, have an escape plan. Also, it is important during the busy holiday season to find time to keep attending meetings and/or therapy. Individuals need to be careful and not let recovery meeting attendance drop down in priority during this time of the year.
A couple of good ideas to avoid relapse in tempting situations during the holidays include:
1- Bring a sober buddy to the gathering/party. Having someone who is refraining from alcohol will give needed support. It also gives those in recovery someone to talk to when everything around them seems tempting.
2- Always keep a non-alcoholic drink in hand. Holding a non-alcoholic drink will stop people from offering alcoholic drinks and will hopefully stop the dreaded questions of why recovering individuals are not indulging and drinking like others at the event.
Most importantly, It is key to remember the progress made previous to the holiday season while in recovery. Sobriety can be very difficult during the holidays but using courage and determination to continue in recovery can be empowering.
Women’s Alcohol Intake on the Rise
Most of us think of men drinking alcohol more often and in larger quantities than women. In fact, previous research has shown that men consume more alcohol than women. However, recent new findings published in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research by the National Institute of Health (NIH), show that women are actually increasing their alcohol intake; coming close to the amount of alcohol men.
Data, which provided information on alcohol, tobacco and illicit drug use in the United States, was analyzed by members of the NIH from the 2002-2012 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. The researchers specifically focused on studying the alcohol use of both men and women over the age of 12. Their drinking levels, binge drinking, drinking and driving and if they ever combined the alcohol intake with drug use were studied.
The findings of analyzing this data were significant. In fact, the levels of alcohol intake in women increased during the 10-year study period. The study showed that the number of women who reportedly consumed alcohol in the past 30 days increased from 44.9 percent in 2002 to 48.3 percent in 2012, and the number of days the women drank alcohol in the past 30 days increased from 6.8 days to 7.3 days. In contrast, the alcohol intake in men decreased from 57.4 percent in 2002 to 56.1 percent in 2012.
These results are interesting due to the fact that society might not have believed, due to previous stigmas about drinking and gender differences, that women’s alcohol intake is on the rise. Further, the findings are concerning due to the adverse health effects from alcohol on women–cardiovascular disease, for instance.