What is Medication-Assisted Treatment?

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSHA), Medication-assisted treatment (MAT), “including opioid treatment programs (OTPs), combines behavioral therapy and medications to treat substance use disorders.”


For more on MAT, see Medication Assisted Treatment Guide: Opioid Use Recovery Can Become Long-Term


Medicated-Assisted Treatment (MAT) employs a “whole-patient” approach to substance use disorder treatment, combining counseling and behavioral therapies with FDA-approved medications.

Medication-Assisted Treatment for Opioid Addiction

Three medications to treat opioid addiction are methadone, buprenorphine, and naltrexone. They are used to “treat opioid dependence and addiction to short-acting opioids such as heroin, morphine, and codeine, as well as semi-synthetic opioids like oxycodone and hydrocodone.” Of course, in certain cases, individuals can MAT medications safely for extended periods of time. Here’s how SAMHSA describes each drug:

  • Methadone: “Methadone tricks the brain into thinking it’s still getting the abused drug. In fact, the person is not getting high from it and feels normal, so withdrawal doesn’t occur. Learn more about methadone.”
  • Buprenorphine: “Like methadone, buprenorphine suppresses and reduces cravings for the abused drug. It can come in a pill form or sublingual tablet that is placed under the tongue. Learn more about buprenorphine.”
  • Naltrexone: “Naltrexone works differently than methadone and buprenorphine in the treatment of opioid dependency. If a person using naltrexone relapses and uses the abused drug, naltrexone blocks the euphoric and sedative effects of the abused drug and prevents feelings of euphoria. Learn more about naltrexone.”

People also know about naloxone. It is a “FDA approved injectable drug used to prevent an opioid overdose.”

Medication-Assisted Treatment for Alcohol Use Disorder

According to SAMHSA: “Disulfiram, acamprosate, and naltrexone are the most common drugs used to treat alcohol use disorder. None of these drugs provide a cure for the disorder, but they are most effective in people who participate in a MAT program.” The medications that SAMHSA notes include:

  • Disulfiram: “Disulfiram is a medication that treats chronic alcoholism. It is most effective in people who have already gone through detoxification or are in the initial stage of abstinence. This drug is offered in a tablet form and is taken once a day. Disulfiram should never be taken while intoxicated and it should not be taken for at least 12 hours after drinking alcohol.”
  • Acamprosate: “Acamprosate is a medication for people in recovery who have already stopped drinking alcohol and want to avoid drinking. It works to prevent people from drinking alcohol, but it does not prevent withdrawal symptoms after people drink alcohol. It has not been shown to work in people who continue drinking alcohol, consume illicit drugs, and/or engage in prescription drug misuse and abuse. The use of acamprosate typically begins on the fifth day of abstinence, reaching full effectiveness in five to eight days.”
  • Naltrexone: “When used as a treatment for alcohol dependency, naltrexone blocks the euphoric effects and feelings of intoxication. This allows people with alcohol addiction to reduce their drinking behaviors enough to remain motivated to stay in treatment, avoid relapses, and take medications.”

Misconceptions in Medication-Assisted Treatment

SAMHSA notes several misconceptions about MAT, including the idea that all it does is swap one drug for another.

The agency writes: “Instead, these medications relieve the withdrawal symptoms and psychological cravings that cause chemical imbalances in the body. MAT programs provide a safe and controlled level of medication to overcome the use of an abused opioid. And research has shown that when provided at the proper dose, medications used in MAT have no adverse effects on a person’s intelligence, mental capability, physical functioning, or employability.

“Medications used in MAT for opioid treatment can only be dispensed through a SAMHSA-certified OTP. Some of the medications used in MAT are controlled substances due to their potential for misuse. Drugs, substances, and certain chemicals used to make drugs are classified by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) into five distinct categories, or schedules, depending upon a drug’s acceptable medical use and potential for misuse.”

Gender Differences in Drug Addiction

To think about Medication-Assisted Treatment, it may help to understand gender differences in drug addiction.

Men and women are very different when it comes to addiction and treatment for addiction.  Research is often geared at gender differences when it comes to drug abuse and addiction.

The National Institutes of Health reports: “Men are more likely than women to use almost all types of illicit drugs, and illicit drug use is more likely to result in emergency department visits or overdose deaths for men than for women. ‘Illicit’ refers to use of illegal drugs, including marijuana (according to federal law) and misuse of prescription drugs. For most age groups, men have higher rates of use or dependence on illicit drugs and alcohol than do women. However, women are just as likely as men to develop a substance use disorder. In addition, women may be more susceptible to craving and relapse, which are key phases of the addiction cycle.

Some recent statistics from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and The National Institute on Drug Abuse point out some interesting facts about men and addiction. These key facts are listed below:

  • Men are four times more likely than women to be heavy drinkers and two times as likely to be dependent upon alcohol.
  • About 5 million men report past-year misuse of drugs or alcohol.
  • Men are more likely to develop an addiction disorder and abuse more than one substance.
  • Most often, men begin using substances at an earlier age, and use them more often.
  • Men are 2.3 times more likely than women to enter treatment for their addiction, however, many men enter via the criminal justice system.
  • Men are more likely to struggle with pride and denial as well as relapse triggers such as depression and anxiety during addiction recovery.
  • Interestingly, more than half of men who struggle with addiction also have another mental illness, including depression, bipolar disorder and PSTD.
  • Men are almost 4 times more likely to commit suicide while drinking.
  • Men are nine times more likely to die of an alcohol-associated heart disease.
  • Men are more at risk than women to drink alcohol excessively and are therefore more likely to take other risks (for example: reckless driving, or driving without a seat belt). These risks further increase the possibility of injury or death.

When considering MAT, one might want to consider this NIH note: “Research has shown that women often use drugs differently, respond to drugs differently, and can have unique obstacles to effective treatment as simple as not being able to find child care or being prescribed treatment that has not been adequately tested on women.”

Many individuals struggling with alcohol addiction decide to do an outpatient program (instead of a live-in inpatient treatment) to aid in their recovery. Although length and intensity can vary depending upon each individuals needs, many points of treatment remain the same.

Most outpatient treatment programs geared specifically for alcohol addiction include:

  • An expectation of abstinence from alcohol
  • An initial assessment to determine the needs of the client
  • Seminars and activities for alcohol treatment that the client is expected to attend in order to educate themselves about the science of addiction.
  • Goal setting and formation of an outpatient alcohol treatment plan while discussing one’s emotions and underlying conditions (such as depression or anxiety)
  • Rules about individual’s behavior while they attend outpatient treatment for alcohol abuse.  Breaking rules often means individuals are ejected from the outpatient program
  • A certain number of therapy session each week will be agreed upon
  • Clients are generally asked to divulge personal information in individual or group settings in regards to alcohol and themselves with other clients

Connections: Alcohol and Drug Dependence

As we’ve reported, people who either suffer from substance abuse issues or may be prone to them may find a connection between alcohol and drug dependence.

According to the National Institute on Alcohol and Alcoholism, a division of the U.S. National Institutes of Health, “Alcohol and drug dependence often go hand in hand; research shows that people who are dependent on alcohol are much more likely than the general population to use drugs, and people with drug dependence are much more likely than the general population to drink alcohol.”

Indeed, the NIH statistics are eye-opening:

  • 15.3 million adults meet the criteria for an alcohol use disorder*
  • Of those, 2.3 million adults meet the criteria for a drug use disorder*

Outpatient Alcohol Addiction Treatment: Pros & Cons

There are pros and cons when deciding between inpatient and outpatient treatment programs for alcohol addiction. And just as with most outpatient programs, outpatient alcohol treatment requires work to bring forth progress. However, if clients are ready and willing to work hard, the self examination and results of outpatient treatment for alcohol can be very rewarding and extremely life changing.

An intensive outpatient rehab program exists for one purpose:To help you get your life together without leaving it. A proper approach teaches individuals how to achieve and maintain long-term sobriety through essential coping skills, while still giving enough time to take care of responsibilities at home.

Participants learn these essential coping skills from a team of addiction treatment experts.

According to the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation: “Addiction to alcohol or other drugs is considered a spectrum disorder, meaning the condition can be classified as mild, moderate or severe. Outpatient rehab programs work best for those with mild or moderate substance abuse symptoms. An inpatient program is a better fit for individuals on the more severe end of the spectrum as well as those with co-occurring disorders such as depression, anxiety or trauma.”

“Different levels of outpatient rehab are available so that you can transition progressively from more frequent and intensive therapy to less intensive therapy as you show an ability to manage your own recovery with less clinical support.”

One challenge to being in the general population, of course, can be understanding some of signals around drinking too much.

We’ve noted an immediate effect: alcohol acts as a depressant that can lower mood and trigger depressive feelings. “The inability of the body to fully process this much alcohol in the blood leads to far more than just intoxication. Binge drinking causes dizziness, loss of motor coordination, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea, and loss of consciousness,” Alcohol.org, an American Addiction Center Resource site explains.

Alcohol’s effects over the long run on the nervous system can cause anxiety, agitation and further depression and extreme discomfort, often known as the “hangover” feeling. Sometimes, the effects become so uncomfortable, people turn to drinking again to temporarily alleviate the unpleasant symptoms. Ultimately, it can become a vicious cycle that can lead to serious addiction.

Alcohol Use Disorder

Medical News Today notes that “according to the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM–5), 11 criteria help a professional decide if someone has an AUD [Alcohol Use Disorder]. If the person meets two of these criteria during a 12-month period, a doctor will consider they have the condition.”

Now a new study published in the journal Alcohol and Alcoholism identifies 5 types of alcohol use disorder that vary with age. The study is titled “Dynamic Features of Problematic Drinking: Alcohol Use Disorder Latent Classes Across Ages 18–64.”

The authors state: “Alcohol use disorders (AUDs) are linked with numerous severe detrimental outcomes. Evidence suggests that there is a typology of individuals with an AUD based on the symptoms they report. Scant research has identified how these groups may vary in prevalence by age, which could highlight aspects of problematic drinking behavior that are particularly salient at different ages. Our study aimed to (a) identify latent classes of drinkers with AUD that differ based on symptoms of AUD and (b) examine prevalences of latent classes by age.’

As Medical News Today notes, the study adds “even more nuance to the issue of problematic drinking.” The profiles, as the post outlines, can be useful for individuals who are considering treatment to understand. They include:

  • “‘Alcohol-induced injury’ characterized 25 percent of the participants. People with this profile engaged in risky behavior and got into dangerous situations that might have caused injury.”
  • “Highly problematic, low perceived life interference’ characterized 21 percent of the participants. This group said that their alcohol consumption did not have any adverse effect on their lives and did not affect their family, work, or social obligations, despite also reporting that they experienced many AUD symptoms.”
  • “The ‘Adverse effects only’ profile included 34 percent of the participants, who reported hangovers or alcohol withdrawal symptoms.”
  • “‘Difficulty cutting back’ was a profile prevalent among 13 percent of the participants. People in this category struggled or were unable to cut back on their drinking.”
  • “Highly problematic’ was the final category, which made up 7 percent of the total number of participants who had every symptom of AUD.”

Outpatient Rehab: What to Learn

As we highlight, among the topics individuals in intensive outpatient rehab will learn include:

  • Drug and Alcohol Relapse Prevention
  • Life Skills
  • How to Recognize, Confront and Handle Triggers
  • Health and Nutritional Study
  • Family and Relationship Education
  • Continuing Care
  • Anger Management/Domestic Violence
  • Relaxation and Meditation Skills
  • Phases of Recovery

See a fuller list here.

More and more service animals—specifically dogs— are being spotted everywhere we go.  Service animals are very useful in helping individuals with the various things they struggle with.  Service dogs or service animals are defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) as “dogs (or other animal species) that are individually trained to do work or perform tasks for a person with a disability.” The disabilities stated include blindness, deafness, loss of limb and paralysis, as well as physical diseases such as epilepsy and diabetes. Further, service animals called “emotional support animals” can help with emotional illnesses such as anxiety and can comfort those with emotional or mental illnesses.

The ADA National Network defines a service animal as “Any dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disability. Other species of animals, whether wild or domestic, trained or untrained, are not considered service animals.”

“The work or tasks performed by a service animal must be directly related to the individual’s disability. Examples of work or tasks include, but are not limited to:”

  • Assisting individuals who are blind or have low vision with navigation and other tasks.
  • Alerting individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing to the presence of people or sounds.
  • Providing non-violent protection or rescue work.
  • Pulling a wheelchair.
  • Assisting an individual during a seizure.
  • Alerting individuals to the presence of allergens.
  • Retrieving items such as medicine or the telephone.
  • Providing physical support and assistance with balance and stability to individuals with mobility disabilities.
  • Helping individuals with psychiatric and neurological disabilities by preventing or interrupting impulsive or destructive behaviors.

Specifically, service animals are trained to do the things in certain aspects of life that a disabled person can’t. For instance, these animals can get clothes, open doors, navigate routes, etc.  Even more amazing is the animals that help individuals deal with seizures, anxiety, diabetes, or even OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder).  These animals are trained to know and sense the beginning of a medical episode and warn individuals so they can take measure to prevent or lessen what is about to happen.  Having a service animal can reduce stress, soothe individuals, and for many individuals-having a service animal can give emotional support.

Service Animals and Recovery

Studies are showing more and more that service animals could positively impact those delaying with addiction recovery.  This good news shows that the soothing impact of an animal companion can stop triggers, can sense oncoming anxiety attacks, and many more things to benefit those in recovery.

Many service animals help addicts make it through recovery one day at a time.  Taking care of someone else needs is also good for those in recovery and feeling unconditionally loved gives them an immense amount of support in return.  The reciprocal relationship of having an animal that is helping to take care of an addict while the addict takes care of the animal is shown to be very beneficial.  Service animals don’t judge based on a person’s past and are more than happy to forge a new future together with those they are helping through recovery.  Many find that having a service animal is the final piece that gives them purpose as well as hope during their addiction recovery.

There are a variety of drug addiction treatment options, but the main focus of all of them lie in pharmacological and behavioral treatment. Because drug addiction is complex, most facilities aim to take a holistic approach that looks at the whole person and tackles the addiction and it’s ripple effects from many angles.

Two key factors are components that focus on the drug use and physical addiction, and that focus on reabsorbing the individual into their family units, restoring friendships and employment, and adjusting them back to community life, the National Institute on Drug Abuse explains.


For more on addiction treatment, see: Dual Diagnosis Treatment Highly Effective Yet Rarely Offered


Physical detoxification from the drug the individual has been on is only the first stage of treatment. “Detoxification alone does not address the psychological, social, and behavioral problems associated with addiction and therefore does not typically produce lasting behavioral changes necessary for recovery. Detoxification should thus be followed by a formal assessment and referral to drug addiction treatment,” the National Institute of Health (NIH) says.

Overall, it is a long, but possible, path to recovery from drug addiction. The NIH has said that recovery from drug addiction is akin to recovery from solely physical ailments such as hypertension or asthma – relapse is actually common. It takes a strong team of professionals and honest relationship-building between practitioners and the suffering individual to develop a holistic treatment plan that not only sticks, but improves quality of life to the point where temptation to return to the drug is not appealing.

Like hypertension and asthma, drug addiction requires ongoing treatment. Relapses are common and should not be a sign of failure. For example, relapse for those with hypertension or asthma is at 50-70%; drug addiction relapse is at 40-60%.

But what are the rates of recovery? Much of research focuses on recovery at no more than 2 years after treatment – only evaluating short-term successes. But research has been done about which factors contribute the most to long-standing sobriety. Surveying a pool of respondants who had been sober anywhere from 5 months to 36 years, an article in the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs reported the following as the most significant experiences that helped individuals start and maintain recovery:

  1. Escalating consequences of substance abuse: 46%
  2. Support of peers, family and friends: 30%
  3. 12-step fellowships: 26%
  4. Substance-related accident, arrest or legal trouble: 22%
  5. Treatment and professional help: 22%
  6. Personal commitment to recovery: 16%
  7. Birth of a child and wanting to be a responsible parent: 10%
  8. Spirituality and belief in a higher power: 10%

An important consideration to note is that many respondents provided more than one answer, as several factors played a role in their recovery. This is key: a multidimensional approach is most effective in keeping addiction at bay, and support from outside of the individual’s own willpower can be exceptionally effective.

 

For all of the discussion around drug addiction and treatment, sometimes it can be confusing to understand the various approaches to substance abuse or addiction treatment.


For more on drug addiction treatment approaches, see:


An initial and important question, whether one considers a Utah addiction center or elsewhere: What is drug addiction treatment?

The U.S. National Institutes of Health writes: “Drug treatment is intended to help addicted individuals stop compulsive drug seeking and use. Treatment can occur in a variety of settings, take many different forms, and last for different lengths of time. Because drug addiction is typically a chronic disorder characterized by occasional relapses, a short-term, one-time treatment is usually not sufficient. For many, treatment is a long-term process that involves multiple interventions and regular monitoring.”

Further, “there are a variety of evidence-based approaches to treating addiction. Drug treatment can include behavioral therapy (such as cognitive-behavioral therapy or contingency management), medications, or their combination. The specific type of treatment or combination of treatments will vary depending on the patient’s individual needs and, often, on the types of drugs they use.”

The NIH offers DrugFacts, a fact sheet that provides useful information for drug rehab in Utah — as well as non 12-step rehab programs — or elsewhere. It helps to start with a definition of drug addiction:

“Drug addiction is a chronic disease characterized by compulsive, or uncontrollable, drug seeking and use despite harmful consequences and changes in the brain, which can be long lasting. These changes in the brain can lead to the harmful behaviors seen in people who use drugs. Drug addiction is also a relapsing disease. Relapse is the return to drug use after an attempt to stop.”

Drug Addiction: Disease of Brain & Behavior

The NIH continues: “The path to drug addiction begins with the voluntary act of taking drugs. But over time, a person’s ability to choose not to do so becomes compromised. Seeking and taking the drug becomes compulsive. This is mostly due to the effects of long-term drug exposure on brain function. Addiction affects parts of the brain involved in reward and motivation, learning and memory, and control over behavior. Addiction is a disease that affects both the brain and behavior.”

Drug Addiction Treatments

What are the treatments for drug addiction? Options outlined by the NIH include:

  • behavioral counseling
  • medication
  • medical devices and applications used to treat withdrawal symptoms or deliver skills training
  • evaluation and treatment for co-occurring mental health issues such as depression and anxiety
  • long-term follow-up to prevent relapse

The agency adds: “A range of care with a tailored treatment program and follow-up options can be crucial to success. Treatment should include both medical and mental health services as needed. Follow-up care may include community- or family-based recovery support systems.”

For more, see: Mental Illness and Drug Addiction: Guide to Dual Diagnosis Treatment Programs

Effective Treatment Options: Principles

drug addiction treatmentsThe NIH outlines the principles around effective treatment, based on “scientific research since the mid-1970s.” These include:

  • Addiction is a complex but treatable disease that affects brain function and behavior.
  • No single treatment is right for everyone.
  • People need to have quick access to treatment.
  • Effective treatment addresses all of the patient’s needs, not just his or her drug use.
  • Staying in treatment long enough is critical.
  • Counseling and other behavioral therapies are the most commonly used forms of treatment.
  • Medications are often an important part of treatment, especially when combined with behavioral therapies.
  • Treatment plans must be reviewed often and modified to fit the patient’s changing needs.
  • Treatment should address other possible mental disorders.
  • Medically assisted detoxification is only the first stage of treatment.
  • Treatment doesn’t need to be voluntary to be effective.
  • Drug use during treatment must be monitored continuously.
  • Treatment programs should test patients for HIV/AIDS, hepatitis B and C, tuberculosis, and other infectious diseases as well as teach them about steps they can take to reduce their risk of these illnesses.

For more on these principles, see “PRINCIPLES OF DRUG ADDICTION TREATMENT: A RESEARCH-BASED GUIDE,” which notes: “Three decades of scientific research and clinical practice have yielded a variety of effective approaches to drug addiction treatment. Extensive data document that drug addiction treatment is as effective as are treatments for most other similarly chronic medical conditions. In spite of scientific evidence that establishes the effectiveness of drug abuse treatment, many people believe that treatment is ineffective. In part, this is because of unrealistic expectations. Many people equate addiction with simply using drugs and therefore expect that addiction should be cured quickly, and if it is not, treatment is a failure. In reality, because addiction is a chronic disorder, the ultimate goal of long-term abstinence often requires sustained and repeated treatment episodes.”

Drug Use and Health: More on Drug Addiction Treatment

For additional insights, the NIH addresses the question: “How effective is drug addiction treatment?” It writes: “In addition to stopping drug abuse, the goal of treatment is to return people to productive functioning in the family, workplace, and community. According to research that tracks individuals in treatment over extended periods, most people who get into and remain in treatment stop using drugs, decrease their criminal activity, and improve their occupational, social, and psychological functioning. For example, methadone treatment has been shown to increase participation in behavioral therapy and decrease both drug use and criminal behavior.”

But a note: “However, individual treatment outcomes depend on the extent and nature of the patient’s problems, the appropriateness of treatment and related services used to address those problems, and the quality of interaction between the patient and his or her treatment providers.”

For more science-based writing, the publication “Clinical Pharmacology & Therapeutics” last year published “The President’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis: Origins and Recommendations.”

It states: “The United States has the ignominious distinction of leading the world in opioid prescribing and in opioid‐related overdose deaths. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that over 40,000 people died of an opioid‐related overdose, with fentanyl‐related deaths exceeding those of heroin or prescription opioids. Opioid overdoses are now the leading cause of unintentional deaths in the US and of declining lifespan expectancies. With a worsening crisis, agencies of the US government and others produced an array of reports on the opioid crisis. Yet the death rate escalated further from 2010 to the present.”

Further, a new book titled “The Assessment and Treatment of Addiction” addresses another area: “Technological Innovations in Addiction Treatment.” The authors write: “Myriads of innovative applications of digital technology are now permeating the world of health care with the goals of improving health, extending the reach of care, and reducing the cost of providing care. The field of addiction science has engaged fully in this exciting period of evolution in the way health and health care can be enhanced via technological innovations. This chapter provides an overview of the potential benefits of digital technology for substance use disorder (SUD) care, not only for the individual, but from the provider perspective as well.”

Often, drug addiction or alcohol consumption or smoking is depicted in the media in either a watered-down “no big deal format” or an exaggerated manner. Sitcoms often portray someone who is deemed “a total loser” by viewers hitting rock bottom or a completely ordinary family laughing at someones serious addiction problem.  In the real world, people fighting addiction experience  the battle very different than it is portrayed in the media. Watching a scene on TV with emotion due to alcohol or drugs can be captivating and entertaining.  In reality, the emotions experienced by individuals dealing with addiction can be stressful or embarrassing.  Viewers turn on a movie or a TV show for entertainment, not for reality or accuracy in most cases. Further, one cannot watch any type of sports programming without being bombarded by alcohol advertisements.

The data characterizing the impact that visual representation of drugs and alcohol in the media has on spectators is shocking. Due to the $25 billion per year that is spent by advertisements for alcohol products, on average —every 22 minutes— someone is shown on television consuming alcohol. In conjunction with that statistic, regarding the $8.9 billion being spent on the promotion of tobacco products each year, it was shown that 90% of rated R movies have smoking scenes. Most often, the individuals portrayed smoking in those shows are generally intelligent, successful, beautiful and handsome people. Thus, many media viewers are impacted by the portrayal of addiction in such a way that they believe smoking and drinking are a great way to become, successful, beautiful, and interesting, neglecting the less attractive hard truth of addiction.

Drugs, TV Shows & The Media and Addiction Portrayal

It’s important to maintain a philosophy around substance abuse and recovery.

Indeed, the Council on Communications and Media of the American Academy of Pediatrics writes: “Although parents, schools, and the federal government are trying to get children and teenagers to ‘just say no’ to drugs, more than $25 billion worth of cigarette, alcohol, and prescription drug advertising is effectively working to get them to “just say yes” to smoking, drinking, and other drugs. In addition, television programs and movies contain appreciable amounts of substance use. Unlike traditional advertising, media depictions of legal drugs are generally positive and invite no criticism, because they are not viewed as advertising.The result is that young people receive mixed messages about substance use, and the media contribute significantly to the risk that young people will engage in substance use.”

It continues: “The contribution of the media to adolescent substance use is only recently becoming fully recognized and appreciated…  the evidence supports strong actions aimed at the entertainment industry about media depictions of tobacco use and strong actions aimed at motivating and assisting parents of children and young teenagers to restrict access to adult media venues with excessive substance use exposure.”

Gambling: Fun or Addiction?

Gambling is a fun way to blow off  steam or even get lucky and make a few bucks..right?  For most people, this is true.  However, some people struggle to stop gambling and the games go from fun to addicting.  Gambling addiction (sometimes called problem gambling) can be hard to detect and even those struggling with the addiction may not realize it.  Often, by the time the addiction is uncovered, there are devastating financial consequences.

Some signs of a gambling addiction may include: excessive, unaccounted for time away, up and down mood swings, disappearing items of value or constantly thinking of how to obtain more money (to gamble), and secrets-like hiding tax documents or lottery tickets, or lying about whereabouts or income, etc.

Often, those caught in a gambling addiction will use excuses such as, “it’s been a long day (or week, or whatever) and I just needed to unwind a little.” Gam-Anon is a “12 Step self-help fellowship of men and women who have been affected by the gambling problem of another.”  Their website (gam-anon.org) has a very helpful list of 20 questions that you can ask of yourself or your loved one if you are concerned about a gambling addiction. These are listed below:

1      Do you find yourself constantly bothered by bill collectors?

2      Is the person in question often away from home for long unexplained periods of time?

3      Does this person ever lose time from work due to gambling?

4      Do you feel that this person cannot be trusted with money?

5      Does this person promise that he or she will stop gambling, yet gambles again and again?

6      Does this person ever gamble longer than he or she intended?

7      Does this person immediately return to gambling to try to recover losses or to win more?

8      Does this person ever gamble to get money to solve financial difficulties?

9      Does this person borrow money to gamble with or to pay gambling debts?

10    Has this person’s reputation ever suffered due to gambling?

11    Have you come to the point of hiding money needed for living expenses?

12    Do you search this person’s clothing, go through his or her wallet, or check on his or her activities?

13    Do you hide his or her money?

14    Have you noticed personality changes in him or her?

15    Does this person consistently lie to cover up or deny his or her gambling activities?

16    Does this person use guilt induction as a method of shifting responsibility for his or her gambling onto you?

17    Do you attempt to anticipate this person’s moods to try to control his or her life?

18    Does this person ever suffer from remorse or depression due to gambling sometimes to the point of self-destruction?

19    Have you ever threatened to break up the family because of the gambling?

20    Do you feel that your life together is a nightmare?

If you or your loved one is suffering from a gambling addiction, it is vital that help is sought for the addict as well as involved loved ones as a gambling addiction can severely impact more than just the addict.

Ritalin Addiction

With all of the media focus on opioid addiction and prescription painkiller regulating, other drugs that are addicting get overlooked, like Ritalin.  Ritalin is often prescribed for Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).  It helps with focus and attention.  Recently, Ritalin abuse has been seen on college campuses where students are taking the drug (and often becoming addicted to it’s effects) in order to study longer and more effectively or to test better due to improved focus.  However, many do not realize the addictive nature of Ritalin and the risks associated with taking it when it’s not necessary.

For instance, when individuals who have not been prescribed the drug continue to take Ritalin in order to avoid withdrawal symptoms, when they can’t meet their obligations without Ritalin use, and/or feel intense urges to take Ritalin they are definitely experiencing signs of addiction.  Further, if individuals find themselves increasing their Ritalin dose over time to maintain the same effect, take Ritalin in situations where it may not be safe to do so, or are spending a lot of time obtaining, using, and recovering from the effects of Ritalin, those symptoms are also red flags of addiction as well.

Treatment for Ritalin addiction is similar to other drug addiction treatment.  Detox needs to occur in a safe medically monitored supervised setting.  Following up with therapy and counseling can then strengthen the individual against returning to Ritalin abuse and addiction.

Could a Natural Nasal Spray Replace Addictive Opioids

Could a nasal spray actually help people avoid opioid addiction?  Researchers at the University College London say “yes” and they are moving toward testing their theory on human subjects.

When individuals need medicine for pain they are often given opioids to combat their intense pain and help them resume feeling normal.  However, as evidenced in the recently growing opioid epidemic, more and more individuals are becoming dangerously addicted to opioids and more and more overdoses are occurring.  The nasal spray tested by the researchers is a natural opioid  compound and lessens the pain while having no addictive side effects.  This is exciting news because it means that if valid, then individuals treated for pain will not become overly euphoric, tolerant, and addicted to the opioid drugs they may be given for their pain.

In the study, the researchers tested the pain-relieving  opioid nasal spray on mice and found no signs of tolerance or any signs of craving, such as reward-seeking behavior.  “If people don’t develop tolerance, you don’t have them always having to up the dose. And if they don’t have to up the dose, they won’t get closer and closer to overdose,” Ijeoma Uchegbu, a professor of pharmaceutical nanoscience who is leading the research through Nanomerics, a UCL startup, told The Guardian, in an article entitled, “Natural painkiller nasal spray could replace addictive opioids.”

The researchers have now moved to raising money for clinical trials involving humans to test their theory.  The results form their previous studies involving mice seem very hopeful and the researchers are definitely striving to find an alternative to opioid drugs such as fentanyl and oxycontin to aid in the management of pain in the future.

source:https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2018/feb/01/natural-painkiller-nasal-spray-could-replace-addictive-opioids-trial-indicates

Extra warnings of addiction with opioid use in Utah

In Utah, lawmakers recently pushed forward some bills indicating that extra warnings for patients about addiction risks when taking opioid painkillers will be required.  The new bills indicate that pharmacies are required to label pill containers with the following caution: “Caution: Opioid. Risk of overdose and addiction” or an similar warning the state Department of Health approves of.

Further, another bill moving forward requires prescribers to, “discuss the risks of using an opiate with a patient or the patient’s guardian before issuing an initial opiate prescription,” according to a summary attached to the bill (ksl.com).

The representatives involved believe that these bills are critical to patient education and allowing patients to be completely informed of the risks they are taking when they choose to take prescription opioids.

Although some representative have voiced opposing opinions indicating that they feel that the bills would manage doctors too closely, other lawmakers feel that more must be done to stop the increasing opioid crisis.

source: ksl.com

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