Fentanyl potency

Fentanyl potency

For instance, just between 2015 and 2016, overdose deaths involving fentanyl more than doubled. In fact, in a recent New York Times publication indicated that fentanyl is killing people faster than the HIV epidemic did at its peak in the 1980s.

So, what is fentanyl? Most of us associate the opioid crisis with heroin or an oxycontin type prescription. Few really know what fentanyl is. Fentanyl is a synthetic painkiller which was originally used to help end stage cancer patients. And, although fentanyl has been a problem for our public health for quite some time, the extent to which it is a nationwide threat is just now coming to light.

Some frightening facts about fentanyl abound. First, fentanyl is about 50 times more potent than heroin and 100 times more powerful than morphine- a fact most people do not realize. Further, fentanyl can be fatal just by touching it. In fact, even law enforcement officers are highly cautioned when handling the drug. Naloxone, a drug that is used to counteract heroin overdoses, is used in doses 4 to 5 times higher to counteract the negative effects of fentanyl and prevent overdose. Last, withdrawal from fentanyl can take up to 2 months.

Even more alarming, studies by the National Center for Health Statistics indicate that just three years ago deaths related to fentanyl were around 3,000 and are now estimated at 20,000. Most of these deaths are thought to be due to ignorance. That is to say, the users did not realize the dangers of fentanyl, the users did not know that the drug they were using was mixed with fentanyl, and users do not realizers that it takes a much smaller amount of fentanyl to cause an overdose.

Family Therapy is Important in Recovery

Family Therapy is Important in Recovery

Recovery from addiction often begins on an individual level but is most often improved when families get involved in strengthening and supporting the person in recovery. Addiction is referred to as a “family disease” because it impacts every member of the family in some way. Further, addiction can be triggered or perpetuated by family issues or contention as well. Thus, successful addiction recovery often involves family therapy to strengthen the individual in recovery.

Eric Patterson, MSCP, NCC, LPC, in the article Family Therapy: A Vital Part of Addiction Treatment, indicates that “Family therapy refers to a group of treatment styles that target the group rather than the individual within the group. All of the styles are based on the notion that families share a connection, and by modifying one component of the system, you can affect the other components. This means the health of a family can play a major role in the success of recovery” (Eric Patterson, drugabuse.com).

Family therapy can be combined with other types of therapy. In other words, if an individual is in recovery and is participating in individual therapy, they need not stop that to join in family therapy sessions as well. Just as group therapy is often used in addiction recovery (where individuals who are in recovery go to therapy together), family therapy can be participated in simultaneously with individual therapy. Further, sometimes the issues that a family struggles with can be resolved or worked on in family therapy which can prevent further members from struggling with addiction and can strengthen the family into a more cohesive unit to support and lift. Often, it is also healing for family members to discuss how an addict’s behaviors have impacted them as well— even though they may not have struggled with addiction.

As far as the benefits of family therapy are concerned, Patterson offers the following key points about benefits of family therapy in recovery:

  • Assists the substance user to gain awareness of their needs and behaviors.
  • Improves the mental and physical state of the entire family unit.
  • Permits family members to gain self-care interventions to improve their own well-being.
  • Improves communication styles and relationship quality.
  • Helps families understand and avoid enabling behaviors.
  • Addresses codependent behavior that may be preventing recovery.
  • Helps to learn and understanding the systems in place that support and deter substance use.
  • Prevents the substance use from spreading throughout the family or down through future generations.

Overall, family therapy in recovery is often a vital part of an individual’s success in

overcoming addiction.

Vaping Dangers

Vaping Dangers

. However, research is showing that vaping is equally as dangerous to one’s health and may in fact be even more hazardous. Because vaping sends substances straight into the cells of the body, the damage can be very severe.

A recent study concerning vaping dangers was conducted by Irfan Rahman at the University of New York was reported on by Lindsay Konkel in Science News for Students earlier this year. Konkel reported that researchers found that teens complained of wounds that wouldn’t heal and having a smokers cough after vaping consistently. Teens seem to believe that e-cigarettes don’t contain tobacco. But the truth is that they contain nicotine, which tobacco is a form of, and the dangers of developing bloody mouth sores, coughing, and even cancer are real.

Another concern is that teens perceive that because e-cigarette vaping doesn’t always taste like tobacco it is not as dangerous. Manufacturers use fruity flavoring, or bubble gum flavors, etc. that lure the teens into thinking that these substances are safe to use. Further, research shows that teens who vape are more likely to develop into chainsmokers as adults.

More and more recent research is pointing to the extreme dangers of vaping. But because vaping has only been available in the United States since 2007, there are still many unknowns. This, combined with teens skewed perception of vaping dangers is cause for concern.

sources: https://www.sciencenewsforstudents.org/article/concerns-explode-over-new-health-risks-vaping

Addiction Habits Similar to Individuals with Obesity

Addiction Habits Similar to Individuals with Obesity

A recent Ted talk given by NIDA director Nora Volkow, M.D., about brains of people with obesity indicated some interesting findings. Volkow found that just as with addiction, similar changes happen in the brains of obese individuals when obesity sets in. This seems fairly straightforward: both addiction and obesity involve the way the brain responds to rewarding things, our pleasure centers.

The Ted talk discussed how over the years the world has evolved from a place where there were many dangers and few pleasurable rewards. Individuals would do anything to brave the dangers and receive the rare reward. Today’s society is very different for the most part. Most individuals have little danger in their lives and a lot of pleasurable rewards. Many of those pleasurable rewards come in the form of tasty treats, high calorie foods, and sodas. There are no roadblocks or obstacles to eating this rewarding pleasurable food and so obesity has become more and more common.

However, Volkow discusses that the brain hasn’t evolved to the point where it sees high calorie foods as a threat or a danger. Individuals, for the most part, still perceive treats as a reward and the results for our physical well being on society are harmful.

Quoting from the Ted talk, Volkow indicated that, “The sensory assault by very appealing-looking food triggers a fight within my brain, to just give in and eat the pleasurable food NOW, even though I know I will feel guilty LATER, versus resisting the urge NOW so I can have a healthy meal LATER. It’s like having a war within my brain that is pulling me in two opposite directions.”

Just like with drug addiction, the tasty foods that are so easily accessible to us trigger a dopamine reaction which becomes less sensitive over time. In other words, the reward center gets used to this trigger of dopamine and in turn requires more and more of the tasty food to produce the same effect over time. When Volkow performed brain scans on the individuals with obesity she found that their reward centers were similar to individuals addicted to cocaine.

Also similar is the actions of obese people that Volkow discusses. She indicates that people don’t choose to be addicted just like they don’t choose to be obese. No one wants to be addicted or to be obese. But it is so hard not to give in to the desire of having something to give you the dopamine pleasure release that individuals who struggle with this eventually cave and give in. And most often, these individuals resent themselves for it.

This informative Ted talk by Nora Volkow really connected the diseases of addiction and obesity and shows how they are so similar in how they affect our brains.

Benzo Use on the Rise?

Benzo Use on the Rise?

A recent article published in the American Journal of Public Health titled, Increasing and Overdose Mortality in the United States, 1996–2013, by Marcus A. BachhuberMD, MSHP, Sean HennessyPharmD, PhD, Chinazo O. CunninghamMD, MS, and Joanna L. StarrelsMD, MS indicates that benzo use is on the rise in a big way in the US.

The study examined correlations and trends in benzo prescriptions and overdoses in US adults. Benzodiazepines are defined by webmd.com as, “a type of medication known as tranquilizers. Familiar names include Valium and Xanax. They are some of the most commonly prescribed medications in the United States. When people without prescriptions obtain and take these drugs for their sedating effects, use turns into abuse.” The aforementioned study found that the increase in adults filling benzo prescriptions from 1996 to 2013 was 4.1% and the overdose rate increased significantly (more than 5 times the rate at the start of the study) as well although overdoses from benzos seems to have plateaued. The study further showed that the quantity of filled benzo prescriptions is also increasing. Although a plateau seems to be happening among most adult individuals in the US, the study pointed to evidence that overdose in older adults and racial/ethnic minorities is continuing to rise. Further, there were no signs of decreased use of benzos throughout the course of the study.

This information is important in that it shows a need to reduce benzo prescriptions or at least improve the safety of their use. The study indicated that, “In 2013, an estimated 22 767 people died of an overdose involving prescription drugs in the United States. Benzodiazepines, a class of medications with sedative, hypnotic, anxiolytic, and anticonvulsant properties, were involved in approximately 31% of these fatal overdoses.”


What is Serotonin?

Neurotransmitters, like serotonin, allow us to experience different emotions all throughout the day. Sometimes we feel elated and other times we feel in the dumps. The reason for this has a lot to do with these neurotransmitters.

Specifically, dopamine makes you feel happy, it is often referred to as the pleasure neurotransmitter. Lots of abused drugs increase dopamine in individuals brain’s. Another neurotransmitter, called serotonin impacts our brains in a different way. Serotonin lifts our moods, helping us to feel more peaceful and less stressed out. It can even help us sleep better and feel less anxiety, and can help with appetite, and memory.

Wikipedia defines serotonin as, “a monoamine neurotransmitter. Biochemically derived from tryptophan, serotonin is primarily found in the gastrointestinal tract (GI tract), blood platelets, and the central nervous system (CNS) of animals, including humans. It is popularly thought to be a contributor to feelings of well-being and happiness.” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Serotonin)

Serotonin helps people solve their worries before they become too overwhelming. It’s a neurotransmitter that is essential to prevent depression and anxiety. In fact, serotonin balances out dopamine. When dopamine is creating too much pleasure, serotonin is often the calming influence to counteract the dopamine. Drug use can inhibit the balance between the neurotransmitters and can lead to lower production of serotonin and or dopamine or even increased production of it.

Relaxation in Recovery

Relaxation in Recovery

. Many activities and practices of relaxation and meditation are designed to release tension from the body. In recovery, releasing tension can have many desirable outcomes.

Alcoholrehab.com indicates the following benefits of using relaxation techniques:

“* Relief of stress

* Sleeping better at night

* Improved concentration

* Increased ability to learn

* Improved memory

* Increased blood flow to major muscles

* Reduced feelings of anxiety

* Increased confidence in the face of challenges

* Reduced feelings of anger and frustration

* Combats hypertension (high blood pressure)

* Slowed the heart rate

* Slowed respiration

* Relieved muscle tension

* Reduced pain intensity

* Reduced hyperactivity in children

* Improved immune system functioning

* Reduced risk of developing heart problems or suffering a stroke

* Looking healthier and fresher

* Improved mental health

Generally speaking, recovery is stalled or halted when individuals are experiencing excessive amounts of stress. Stress is how the body deals with demand and in addiction, there is a prevalence of excessive demand. Many times, then individuals feel stressed, they turn to their addiction to cope. Deep breathing, yoga, tai chi, listening to relaxing music, meditation, guided imagery, and mindfulness are some of the powerful relaxation activities that can enhance recovery.

Addiction is a Disease

Sometimes people get frustrated and wonder why their loved ones can’t just stop using drugs? Why is addiction so powerful? Why would people not stop using substances that are hurting them physically and ruining so many aspects of their lives? It can be really difficult for friends and family to understand why these individuals continue to use drugs knowing the harmful effects.

The simple reason it is so difficult for individuals struggling with addiction to drugs or alcohol to stop using is that drug addiction is an actual disease. When people are addicted to drugs and alcohol and take them for a long period of time changes in their brain circuits occur. These changes make it really hard for users to stop their addictions to drugs and alcohol. Recently, researchers have termed this the “brain disease model of addiction” that views drug and alcohol addiction. This view categorizes addiction not as a lack of willpower but as an actual illness that needs treatment.

Addiction can harm the brain in the following three ways:

1- the brains reward circuits become less sensitive. Drugs that are addicting can cause ether brain to release dopamine which creates feelings of pleasure. After time, the brain circuit becomes imbalanced and individuals need more and more of the drug to create the same pleasurable response. This can cause individuals to lose interest in things they use to enjoy like friends, or other natural rewarding situations.

2-The brain’s reaction to stress increases with addiction. In an addicted individual’s brain, the circuits become overactive and people feel stressed whether they are using drugs or not.

3-Decision making skills are compromised. Drug addiction affects the prefrontal cortex which is the center of the brain that controls decision making. Even when addicted individuals try to stop using drugs, they can’t make the decision and stick with it to do so.

Many factors impact the disease of drug addiction and research is constantly uncovering and learning more about how to help those individuals struggling.

source: www.teens.drugabuse.gov

Employment after Rehab

Employment after Rehab

After rehab, many individuals are concerned about finding employment. They worry about the time they’ve been out of the work force due to inpatient rehab. They may feel concerned about whether or not to disclose past substance abuse and stress about future employers discriminating due to substance abuse.

Rest assured, however. Studies show that more than 23 million adults – 10 percent of the U.S. population – consider themselves to be in recovery from drug or alcohol abuse. Noting this fact, consider that many individuals go on to lead successful lives and work in careers they enjoy and find success in following rehab. Further, many companies are open minded about hiring candidates with previous drug or alcohol issues.

As long as one can stay in healthy recovery and sobriety, they don’t need to worry about reaching professional goals and becoming a loyal strong employee. Continuing self care in recovery will ensure that the job or career thats desired will be well within reach.

Developing a strong resume and developing a plan for an ideal, desired job is key. Asking questions of oneself about the things they liked and didn’t like about previous employment and employers can help give direction. Also, being aware of one’s strengths and weaknesses and skills can provide insight to future employers as well.

It’s also crucial to picking jobs that don’t have triggers to avoid relapse. After rehab, many find that structures jobs, similar to rehab are better fulfilled than laid back structureless jobs. Further, starting small and not taking on to much is a good idea after rehab.

Remembering the positive growth from rehab along with the bright future ahead can help individuals find employment after rehab.

National Recovery Month

National Recovery Month

The month of September is National Recovery Month. This is a time when individuals in recovery and individuals who haven’t experienced recovery are made more aware of the struggles, challenges, and successes of individuals who are in or have been through addiction recovery. The month encourages facilities to highlight the courage and strength of individuals who have worked through addiction recovery and encourages individuals to share their success stories about prevention, treatment, and recovery with those who may be struggling with addiction.

The National Recovery Month was started 28 years ago by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to help to normalize the disease of addiction (samhsa.gov). Similar to the way success stories have been celebrated with health conditions like cancer, heart disease or diabetes, each September, tens of thousands of prevention, treatment and recovery programs and facilities from around the country celebrate the strides made in the recovery community. These celebrations may include walks, get-togethers, classes, movie screenings, entertainment, or sponsored runs.

SAMHSA chose the theme, “Join the Voices for Recovery: Strengthen Families and Communities” for 2017. They indicate that the theme was chosen to, “highlight the value of family and community support throughout recovery and invite individuals in recovery and their family members to share their personal stories and successes with their neighbors, friends and colleagues” (samhsa.gov).

Joining in this celebration and awareness month can strengthen those around you in their recovery or can help prevention of addiction in your life. The SAMHSA website, samhsa.gov, has lots of great information and ideas for being a part of National Recovery Month this year.