Seniors And 20-Somethings Most Impacted By Opioids

You don’t often look to Buzzfeed for addiction news, but this week the pop culture site published a very telling piece about the impact of the nation’s opioid addiction crisis. Specifically, it broke down the stats into two distinct groups: Senior citizens and post-college 20-somethings. Data has recently shown that those most significantly affected by the crisis fall into those categories. Seniors are becoming addicted to the painkiller element, primarily because of prescriptions for surgeries and injuries. The younger set, on the other hand, is finding themselves sucked into the heroin trap and becoming the most high risk for an overdose.

 

Buzzfeed goes on to classify the opioid epidemic as two epidemics, and we happen to agree with them. According to their stats, 60% of all deadly overdoses in the U.S. over the last two years were caused by this crisis, accounting for a total of more than 33,000 Americans.

 

As mentioned above, the 20-somethings are the ones who are dying the most. They tend to start with pills (much like the older generation), but due to increased cravings, curiosity and easier accessibility, they quickly switch to shooting up. Another point worth noting is that people who take opioid pills can tend to build a tolerance to the drug. This requires larger and larger doses to maintain the “high.” Thus, the switch to the more potent heroin needle.

 

That isn’t to say that seniors in their 50’s and 60’s aren’t succumbing as well. Those age groups have also seen a large spike in opioid-related overdose deaths. And they are, according to the article, more likely to switch over to fentanyl vs. street heroin. These synthetic fentanyl pills appear to be the more acceptable drug of choice for the senior generation and, as the article pointed out, were responsible for 57-year-old Prince’s death last year.

 

As the below Buzzfeed graph illustrates, the numbers for both generations are rising at an alarming rate.

 

Ultimately, the Buzzfeed piece correctly calls out the importance of categorizing the heroin and opioid painkiller issues together. These are not separate epidemics, particularly after research has shown that the majority of heroin users began their habits with pills.

 

As for the reason that older Americans are staying away from the needle? UC San Francisco professor Dr. Daniel Ciccarone made a pretty compelling point.

 

“I think there are social network effects that we can’t see very well,” he told the site. “People have to learn to inject heroin from people they know and trust. It might be that older people just don’t want to do that as much.”

 

Let’s hope these combined stats help raise more alarms with lawmakers, so we can get additional action items in place to combat this growing epidemic.

 

 

 

Using Tech To Combat Addiction

Everybody knows that the internet and social media have changed our world forever. But it’s interesting to note that these tech tools are having an impact on the recovery industry as well. CNN recently posted an interesting article about algorithms and addiction, illustrating how advocates from Silicon Valley are helping to combat issues like alcoholism and the opioid crisis.

 

Listing the stat of 22.7 million addicted Americans, the CNN piece delves into one-on-one interviews with entrepreneurs hoping to make a dent. Tech investor Sam Frons made a point to call out Alcoholics Anonymous specifically and the “archaic” nature of the popular program.

 

“[It] makes no sense that we’re using the same [Alcoholics Anonymous] model from 1935,” she told the site.

 

A recovering addict herself, Frons has created a startup called Addicaid, which, as she puts, takes a more “data-centric approach to dependency.” The Addicaid app is currently free in the iTunes Store and focuses on alcoholism, drugs and gambling issues. Using artificial intelligence and clinical research, it can reportedly send out warnings when users find themselves in a vulnerable state. As Frons explained, it’s almost like an intervention device for your phone.

 

“We’re pretty comprehensive and innovative in our wheelhouse of common triggers and promising interventions,” she told CNN. “But the thing about behavioral health is that we simply don’t have a clear picture of every pattern that dictates consequential decisions. This is where the machine learning comes in.”

 

Addicaid also offers rewards for goal setting and includes an online support community, in case users need to chat or express their feelings. According to CNN, the app is already off to a promising start; with a 100% retention rate among its participants for the first month and a 75% retention rate three months later.

 

Another recovery-based startup mentioned in the piece was WorkIt, which focuses more on prevention. This app is designed as a 10-week interactive course meant to be used before an addiction reaches its critical state. WorkIt has already established partnerships with key insurance carriers and runs approximately $168 per month (a steep hike from Addicaid). This too uses advanced algorithms to study the behaviors and search queries of its users.

 

WorkIt co-founder Robin McIntosh emphasized that a personal experience was also the catalyst for her building the program. “[My partner and I] were tired of watching our friends die,” she said. “Technology enables human beings to treat [addicts] better.”

 

We’ve certainly seen the benefits that technology has offered our field. From social networking sites like Reddit, to emergency distress apps which can be used to contact medical professionals during an overdose. As time marches on, we are hopeful that more analytical engineers will explore ways to use digital media to educate and support those in need. And you can bet that we will do everything possible to champion (and include) successful innovative tools in our treatment programs.

 

 

Charlotte Rae Becomes Recovery Advocate At Age 91

When we came across this story, we knew we had to share it. Not only does it illustrate the power of beating an addiction, it shows that you can turn your life around and stand up for recovery at any age. 91-year-old former Facts Of Life star Charlotte Rae recently made major headlines with her revelation that she battled alcoholism for much of her young life. And now, she is proudly proclaiming sobriety and hoping to set an example for other older Americans.

 

“I’ve been a member of Alcoholics Anonymous for 42 years,” Rae explained to The Huffington Post. “And it’s really saved me. I was going through so much anguish. My drug of choice to go to sleep was alcohol. I found the program, and it’s been simply wonderful. I’m still hanging in there with it.”

 

She went on to explain that alcoholism became a vice for both her and their husband during their 20’s and 30’s. In fact, she admitted that they first (mistakenly) believed that drinking was a way of connecting with each other.

 

Describing her romantic college days at Northwestern University, Rae recalled,

 

“The entire [Northwestern] area was ‘dry.’ We used to like to go to Chicago to drink. [My future husband John and I] would get a shot of whiskey and chase it with beer. John would say, ‘Why don’t we get a bottle instead of sitting by the bar? It’s cheaper! We’ll go up to your room and drink.’ We became very, very used to drinking. We were real drinking buddies.”

 

But that all changed once Charlotte realized that her addiction was getting in the way of her acting career. The constant drinking cost her many parts, she explained, and (not coincidentally) she began seeing much more success once she get sober in the early 1970’s.

 

Before The Facts of Life, Rae actually had a recurring role on the children’s show, Sesame Street. After meeting executives from the series and seeing more opportunities, she came to an overnight realization for both herself and her husband.

 

“After the wrap party for Sesame Street, I went over to a meeting. I was expecting to see a bunch of bums,” Rae added. “[Instead] I saw a lot of well dressed beautiful people … And I wept. That was the beginning of my sobriety. I’m now 42 years sober.”

 

Sobriety soon led Rae into a supporting role on the Diff’rent Strokes sitcom in the late 1970’s and an eight year run on Facts of Life. This year, the proud 91-year-old released her memoirs and, as she told the press, now felt like the right time to share her recovery story with others.

 

We certainly admire Charlotte’s courage and her willingness to share her addiction struggles at this stage in her life. Recovery advocates come in all different shapes, sizes and ages. And hopefully, Charlotte’s message can inspire struggling seniors to get clean and seek out treatment.

 

 

‘The Voices Project’ Fights Addiction Via Social Media

Believe it or not, social media has been a helpful tool in the battle against addiction. Message boards like Reddit offer a safe, anonymous place for people to share their feelings and find comfort from people with similar habits. Sites like Facebook have been beneficial too, with private recovery Groups (like our own) where communities can build and seek out support. And now, a new movement is happening across the networking sites. The Voices Project launched recently and aims to put a face behind the millions of Americans struggling with dependency.

 

Founded by former Clinton White House staffer Ryan Hampton, the Voices Project uses site like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to get its message out. Everyday people are encouraged to submit their personal stories, which are then shared to a massive social audience. And as Hampton explained to Forbes.com, the mission is very personal. He, himself, battled a crippling prescription opioid addiction and is now in recovery.

 

“[Social media] is one space where we cannot be ignored,” Hampton explained. “The time has come for us to speak out, and we’re a community that speaks loudly. With addiction, we’re dealing with imminent death every day. Through social media, we’ve found an innovative way to communicate with each other and connect with people we haven’t met, and now, we’re having this conversation with the rest of the world.”

 

So far, the Voices Project has more than 200 stories within its network and 500 submissions within the last week alone. These include local teens, college students, housewives, working professionals and even celebrities. Former Jackass star Brandon Novak published his addiction story on the site, as did Grammy Award winner Sirah and politician Patrick Kennedy.

 

Many of the personal stories appear on the site’s blog page. There, you’ll find pictorial journeys through the recovery experience and lengthy accounts chronicling the lowest of lows and recovery redemptions.

 

Sobriety advocate Mackenzie Phillips is prominently featured there, openly discussing how addiction almost destroyed her relationship with her son.

 

“My name is Mackenzie Phillips,” she wrote. “I am Shane’s mom, I am a drug and alcohol counselor, I am a writer, singer, actress, but above all this: I am a woman in recovery from substance use disorder. Had I been asked to define myself a while back, this would not have been the way I would have answered. Addiction is a tricky thing, a shape-shifting monster, and it will twist all that is good and right and true about you to its own advantage.”

 

One important thing that Hampton did emphasize was that you do not have to be a social media “power user” to be part of the network. Though he lists it as a powerful tool, Hampton describes the Voices Project as something for everyone and a very welcoming community. To learn more about it, we recommend visiting the official Voices Project site.

 

A Look Inside Authentic Recovery Center

One of the most important words we encounter in our industry is “authenticity.” To be a truly successful recovery facility, you need to have integrity, you need to believe in your cause and you need to put the health of your clients first. We are proud to say that L.A.-based Authentic Recovery Center carries all of those important qualities and then some. ARC (as it’s commonly called) Chief Operating Officer, Hadas Zies, recently spoke to us about the clinic and its unique treatment approach.

 

“When we say authentic, we mean it,” she explained. “That goes for the way we handle insurance, the way we treat our clients, the way we treat their families and so on. The core essence of our program is acting with integrity. And that goes from the business aspect to the clinical aspect.”

 

On the business side of things, Hadas describes ARC as proudly “middle of the road.” This isn’t a giant facility where clients are treated like a file number. They are a small facility, catering to adults and focused 100 percent on recovery (minus the bells and whistles).  They are also an in-network provider for Anthem Blue Cross, Aetna and Cigna which makes us more accessible and affordable.

 

As you can see, the ARC setting offers a homey, comfortable feel with spotless bedrooms and tranquil surroundings.

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They also recently opened a brand new detox facility, which was proudly displayed on their Facebook page.

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“What we do that’s very unique, is we engage with the clients from the minute they pick up the phone and introduce them to recovery,” Hadas added. “We incorporate things like the 12-Step program and we work with our clients in a way that allows them to feel comfortable and safe. If we have to do confrontations and interventions, they are handled in the most loving way.”

 

Delving a bit more into the treatment methods of ARC, Hadas explained that each client is met with three levels of support.

 

“Our clients work with both a case manager and a therapist individually, as well as an addiction psychiatrist” she said. “Case managers can step in and help clients deal with things like their work. Whether it’s filling out paperwork for their disability or a leave of absence or ensuring that they remain in good standings with their jobs. We also help them set up doctor appointments, even for things like the dentist or the optometrist. Our goal is to help them get back to a whole, so they when they leave treatment they can function in their everyday lives.”

 

She went on to say that ARC specializes in treating all forms of addictions. It doesn’t matter if it’s alcoholism, an opioid dependency or what have you. There is also support for those dealing with depression, anxiety, trauma or grief over the loss of a lost loved one or even their addiction. Beyond that, ARC offers weekly family support groups to help the clients’ families.

 

As Hadas put it, “Everyone here has a strong passion for recovery.”

 

We highly recommend visiting the ARC homepage for more details about their various levels of care and treatment programs. There is a wide variety of information regarding their philosophies, their success stories and their dedicated staff.  ARC is doing amazing work and, as Hadas proudly put it, “are committed and passionate about their clients’ recovery.” If you want a no-nonsense recovery experience with proven results, Authenticity is always the key.

 

Syringe Vending Machines Operating In Vegas

There is always a fine line between enabling and protection. For many, the thought of distributing syringes to heroin addicts only fuels their habit. But what we’ve come to find is that there are circumstances where a practice like this is acceptable. We know just how crippling a habit like this can be. And we know the tremendous risk that accompanies the use of dirty needles (HIV, for one). So we actually support the new stance that Las Vegas is taking, by dispensing clean syringes via citywide vending machines.

 

This particular movement also has the support of public health officials throughout the state. In their opinion, these mini distribution centers can help halt the spread of infectious diseases.

 

“Having access to clean syringes is a harm reduction approach that’s going to allow people to protect themselves against getting communicable diseases such as HIV and hepatitis C,” program rep Chelsi Cheatom told The Las Vegas Review Journal.

 

Private donations are helping to fund the effort through the organization called Trac-B Exchange. There are also partnerships with Nevada AIDS Research and the state’s Education Society. One of the reasons Las Vegas was selected as a rollout city was because of its large amount of reported IV addicts. When last measured there were at least 5,800 needle users in the county, which has led to a steady stream of HIV diagnoses.

 

So how exactly do these vending machines work? They actually closely resemble what you’d see in an office or shopping mall, with rows of cardboard boxes containing clean syringes and disposal containers for used needles. The machines also provide kits for wound cleaning and safe sex, all free of charge. All that’s needed is an identification card, which can be made available at local community counseling centers.

 

“It is a very successful intervention to do harm reduction,” Vegas district chief health officer, Dr. Joseph Iser, told the outlet at a news conference.

 

We completely understand the controversy surrounding an initiative like this. But we also know these types of programs are necessary for those in the throws of addiction. Heroin is not something you can easily walk away from. Recovery takes time, dedication and ongoing support. The last thing we want to see is an addiction lead to the contraction of a deadly disease.

 

If it were us running the program, however, we would try and focus more on the tracking and identification cards. Yes these users deserve the access to clean needles, but in the process they should be traced and made aware of the recovery programs at their disposal. As long as the habit exists, keep the experience as clean and as safe as possible. But make the ultimate goal be intervention, education and recovery support.

 

You can learn more about the vending machine program in this video from the Las Vegas press conference.

 

 

 

The Dangers Of DMT And Psychedelics

Drug addictions come in many forms. Some people like the energy and hyper-stimulation of a narcotic like cocaine. Others gravitate towards depressants that fuel anti-social behavior. And yet another sect chases their high with psychedelics, which offer alternate realities and can be tremendously damaging to the brain. For this blog, we wanted to delve a little further into the “trippy” substances that many mistakenly believe are not addictive. One particular compound in this set that’s gaining popularity is Dimenthyltryptamine (also known as DMT), which is starting to become glamorized for all the wrong reasons.

 

VICE Media recently did a profile on DMT, illustrating how young people are finding it it to be their generation’s hallucinogen of choice. Interviewees described it as a new form of escapism, literally transporting them into a different dimension. Here vision becomes impaired, users are often incapacitated and delusions kick into high gear. This can be dangerous for many reasons. Not only does this escapism fuel addictive personalities (who often use to run away from pain), it also seriously impairs judgment and can allow for a someone to do serious damage to themselves or others without even realizing it.

 

Often times, the worst drugs aren’t the ones that make you feel terrible. They’re the ones that create euphoria, which then leads the user to  “chase” that feeling again, through repeated attempts (and damage to their bodies).

 

Jodie, an anonymous VICE interviewee, described the DMT experience as almost religious.

 

“I felt what God was like,” she told the site. “Bodies were, like, singing – everything was like a song. They were making a symphony. The scratching and the movements were all in a rhythm, and I felt very happy. I was also seeing all this fun, wacky clown stuff. All these crazy geometric patterns. It seemed like they were laughing at me. Then there were these little elf things. I couldn’t see them but they were letting me know that they were there.”

 

Of course, those DMT sensations are very short lived and not without painful hangovers. This is also a drug that you smoke, much like marijuana, causing additional damage to the lungs and throat.

 

As we mentioned earlier, DMT is a compound and can contain chemical elements that buyers have little or no insight into. There’s no telling how potent one batch will be or if it will be laced with a heavier substance. LSD carries the same risks and has been proven to cause permanent brain damage to frequent users. Other psychedelics like mushrooms or ecstasy are just as bad and can also be very addictive.

 

Part of the recovery process is going through an inward discovery. Yes we go through the motions of beating an addiction, but we also look in to the psychological motives behind that addiction. If you’re someone who needs a hallucinogenic drug to get away from reality then there are certainly deeper issues to explore. We strongly encourage anyone craving the “high” of DMT or LSD to reach out. We want to help you face (and embrace) the true reality of this beautiful world.

 

 

 

New Dating Site Promotes Love And Sobriety

Throughout our blogs, we often discuss the road to recovery and ways to put an end to destructive cravings. But then the question becomes, how do you live your life afterwards? Well, we’re happy to report that one new site is giving additional hope for people who have slain their dependency demons. SoberSinglesDate.com launched this past spring and is helping people find happiness and love after crippling addictions.

 

Built with the sober lifestyle in mind, SSD.com is divided into multiple sections depending on the type of recovery program you’re dealing with. If it’s 12-Step, for example, then there are certain rules about abstaining from dating for the first 12 months. This particular site can still offer companionship during that critical period, allowing for online friendship connections with others in similar programs. There are also features that respect the “safe space” and for those who have made their recovery more spiritual (complete with multi-denominational selections).

 

Another important feature of this site is that respects people from all walks of life. It doesn’t matter what your age age is, what your sexual orientation is, or your cultural background. Because (truth be told) addiction comes in all shapes and sizes, so a dating site needs to respect everybody.

 

One thing that we think is very important is bringing recovery into the digital age. Fans of VRC know that we are BIG on innovation and using every resource possible to promote and maintain sobriety. “Clean” sites like SSD.com also adhere to that philosophy, taking advantage of features like online chatting, video testimonials and mobile app downloads.

 

We also know how challenging it is to pick up the pieces of a romantic life after a devastating addiction. For many, alcohol and drug abuse can cost them their marriage and the love of those close to them. We completely agree that a lengthy healing process is necessary before jumping into a new relationship, but once that point has passed many still find new love to be scary and intimidating. That’s why a safe, non-threatening online introduction experience can be so helpful.

 

Believe it or not, many people we’ve treated used their addiction as an excuse to find romance.  The public at large often (mistakenly) believes that they will find true love at a bar or a house party. Then the “liquid courage” comes into play, where the temptations of alcohol or drugs become readily available to help overcome shyness or intimidation.

 

The rise of online dating has helped squash many of those fears. Now you can slowly and comfortably find a romantic match based on similar interests. Your first meeting place can be somewhere friendly like a park or a movie (and NOT a two-for-one happy hour). So when the time is right and you feel ready to move forward with love after recovery, we highly recommend exploring the possibility of sober online dating.

 

 

Coachella Festival’s Sordid History With Addiction

There is no denying that the word “Coachella” is on the minds of a lot of SoCal music fans this weekend. The annual desert concert brings in thousands over its two weekends and, believe it or not, hit its 19th anniversary this month. But throughout that time (and particularly in more recent years), this “Arts and Music Festival” has led to overdoses, arrests and even deaths due to drug and alcohol abuse. For those who want to attend, more power to you…But keep in mind that Coachella comes with several addictive dangers.

 

One of the more prominent headlines happened back in 2014, when attendee Kimchi Truong collapsed and died in the festival’s taxi area. Truong was just 24-years-old and had been a student at a Cal State school. Though Coachella organizers don’t deserve the bulk of the blame for Truong’s actions, there is no denying that specific “rave tents” promoted the joy of her extra-sensory experiences. In prior years as well, it had been very easy to bring narcotics into the festival and even sell illegal drugs to fellow concertgoers.

 

To their credit, the festival’s parent organization, Goldenvoice, did send paramedics to help Truong after her collapse and released a statement to the press.

 

“Last weekend, a festival attendee suffered an apparent drug overdose,” they wrote. “The individual was seen by on-site medical staff and later transferred to Desert Regional Medical Center. We are saddened to learn the individual has died.”

 

 

That wasn’t the first time that an overdose death occurred at the festival, but it was certainly one of the more high-profile ones. Another Coachella drug fatality occurred in 2008 and in 2015 there were no less than 56 narcotics arrests on the concert’s grounds. Last year saw several Coachella addiction stories too, with a 38 percent increase in alcohol and drug-related arrests. There was also another death, after an attendee was struck and killed by an intoxicated driver.

 

Worst of all, there are literally dozens of web sites and online articles telling attendees what the best drugs are to take for corresponding musical acts. This, of course, is all done off the grid as Coachella’s organizers “officially” take a  no-substances stance on their website (easier said than done).

 

Concerts like this are full of negative temptations and though you may legitimately want to go to enjoy the music, chances are you’ll be exposed to drugs and alcohol. Our recommendation has always been to avoid these types of festivals if you’re newly sober or currently battling an addiction. The “party” ambiance, the psychedelic tents and the inebriated concertgoers could easily set you down a bad path. Thanks to modern tech like streaming, you may be better off enjoying the music from a safe location and not amidst the temptations.

 

One of our goals has always been to get people to a good place with their recovery. Giving them the confidence to be around wild concerts and never have the urge to use. Before considering any event like this, we encourage you to get in touch and let us offer you a sobering perspective. 866-986-2486

 

 

Kindergartens Begin Implementing Anti-Addiction Techniques

Psychologically, it’s rather interesting to explore when addictive tendencies actually begin. If there’s a genetic component (as science and several studies have proven), then perhaps even infants could be prone to such behavior. So it may not be all that surprising to hear how certain kindergartens are working to curb addictive cravings in five and six-year-olds. How is that being accomplished, you ask? Through some groundbreaking new learning techniques that involve removing all toys from the classroom.

 

Toy Free Kindergartens,” as they’re called, are already gaining popularity in countries like Germany and Switzerland. The concept is actually rather simple. Take all playthings away from the students so they can build better coping skills and not be distracted by escapist opportunities.

 

“Without any toys, children have the time to develop their own ideas,” Elisabeth Seifert, a German school administrator told The Atlantic. “In toy-free time, they don’t play with finished toys. They develop their own games. They play more together, so they can better develop psychosocial competencies.”

 

Developing “psychosocial competencies” is the true foundation behind this idea. And, believe it or not, some German schools began implementing it back in 1980. Since that time they have followed students throughout their academic career and logged some noteworthy stats. The Atlantic went on to report that kindergarten students who did experience the “no toy” environment demonstrated increased social interactions, creativity, empathy and communication skills later in life (all steering them away from addiction).

 

The way the process works is by having kindergarten teachers remove all games, dolls, trucks and other shiny distractions for a three-month period. During that time, only furniture, blankets and pillows can remain in the room. Teachers then direct the children to “play” and watch as they are forced to deal with their own boredom and frustration, without the use of a crutch (or toy).

 

If you think about it, that scenario can easily be compared to how addicts live their lives. Many times a drug or alcohol dependency stems from the need to escape or turn away from one’s own difficult feelings. Downing a shot or doing a line can offer the same quick fix as perhaps a shiny new Tonka truck can for a small child. There is always jubilation when the present appears, but after a while the excitement fades and the void becomes harder and harder to fill.

 

The article does point out, however, that no-toy kindergartens don’t always excite kids’ parents. In the countries currently using them, teachers have to have drawn-out talks with the families to make sure that they feel comfortable with the environment. There are even videos used to display the success of the program and what parents can expect.

 

Siefert emphasized that many of the parents she discussed the program with were on board, particularly after seeing the video examples of the non-toy environment. “They do a lot of role-playing,” she explained. “They collect stones and sticks, and make their own toys. The children are playing. They are just playing differently.”

 

 

Confessions Of A High-Profile Gambling Addict

This week, we ran across a compelling confessional in The Hollywood Reporter. Typically this famed entertainment outlet is not a place where you’ll find addiction stories, but front-and-center on the homepage was a self-penned essay from one of the leading business managers in the music industry. Jonathan Schwartz made millions of dollars before the age of 40, overseeing the careers of artists like Alanis Morrissette. But this past January, it all came crashing down when a gambling addiction led to his firing and embezzlement charges.

 

Schwartz was ultimately convicted of stealing over $7 million from his clients and using the money to fuel casino trips and poker games. Yes, of course, this is horrendous behavior, but as he clearly spells out in his article, it was a lifelong addiction that led him down this road.

 

One reason that Jonathan discussed his issue was to help others who may be in the same situation. He took full responsibility for his actions and comes off quite apologetic for the crimes he committed.

 

“I am writing this open letter to you so that you can learn from my mistakes and never find yourself in the situation I am now in,” he wrote. “I am a convicted felon who has fully accepted responsibility and pleaded guilty to federal charges related to my embezzling over $7 million from my clients.”

 

Schwartz then goes on to describe everything that his addiction took away from his life. A loving family, a flourishing career, the trust and respect of his colleagues…He readily admits that gambling destroyed everything he holds dear.

 

Jonathan also delves a bit into the history of his addiction, describing how these cravings tore his parents apart and haunted him throughout his teens. He even described gambling as a gateway into drug abuse and alcoholism as well (a fact we’re well aware of).

 

“Since college I was a gambling addict,” he confessed. “I should have been more careful when I first started gambling socially because my father was a gambling addict who abandoned the family when I was young. Over the years, my gambling addiction grew, particularly as I became more successful. I often turned to drugs to deal with the stress but mostly sought refuge in the world of sports gambling. The spiral I was in was toxic. Winning did not make me feel better but losing was intolerable. If I lost, then I had to make it back and when I lost again, the hole I had dug got deeper and deeper. I felt weak and powerless, terrified by my internal demons that I was turning into my father.”

 

Powerful words that are far too common among gambling addicts. But if there is one silver lining, it is Jonathan’s message of hope. He describes how getting into a treatment program helped him slay the demons and he urges any reader dealing with the same issue to seek out help immediately.

 

“In super stressful jobs where the demands feel overwhelming,” he concludes, “do not turn to drugs or gambling to deal with the stress or violate their responsibilities to others hoping no one will notice, but seek help from those around them or treatment before it is too late. Please use me as an example of what can go disastrously wrong when you start down the wrong path. Please, please follow a different path.”

 

 

Opioids Front And Center At Health Matters Summit

Noticing the word “opioid” popping up more in your online news feeds? As we’ve mentioned many times before, painkiller addictions have taken this country by storm and are now in full-blown crisis mode. They have become so noteworthy as a matter of fact, that former President Bill Clinton made them the focal point of his recent Health Matters summit in Arkansas.

 

Now in its sixth year, Health Matters is held annually in President Clinton’s home state and brings together thought leaders and medical professionals to discuss pressing national issues. Past topics have included dieting breakthroughs, hospital innovations, healthcare coverage and more. But this year, the focus was strictly on opioid abuse.

 

One outspoken advocate on the painkiller panel was Gillian Sealy, the National Director of the Clinton Health Matters Initiative. She became very vocal when asked about the seriousness of the issue. “It is something we need to talk about and address immediately,” Sealy emphasized from the stage.

 

West Virginia School of Medicine panelist Dr. Judith Feinberg also helped guide the discussion, pointing out that there is a lack of opioid education within the medical community, particularly when it comes to lifesaving techniques.

 

“We really need to have enough people trained and capable of providing care, including primary care doctors,” Dr. Feinberg told the crowd.

 

 

Panelist Dr. Kim Janda from The Scripps Research Institute added her thoughts to the conversation, emphasizing that new vaccines are coming to market. But she also highlighted psychological factors behind these addictions, calling out the want and need to get clean.

 

“The addict has to make the desire to get off the drug,” Janda sternly said. “I have vaccines developed for lots of different drugs, but if you don’t want to get off the drug or have the will to get off the drug, it’s not going to be useful.”

 

One other notable panelist was Dr. Richard Rawson from the University of Vermont. He countered Janda’s point, saying that there are many occasions when  a person wants to break their habit but lacks the means to do so.

 

“Treating this is less complicated then treating diabetes, and it’s less complicated than treating many types of cardiovascular disease and hypertension,” Rawson emphasized. “They are very affective and they are saving thousands of lives; we just need to get people access to these treatments.”

 

And this panel didn’t just include the voices of experts. Many former opioid abusers were present as well, offering a personal perspective to the growing problem. Sandi Coyle, for example, eloquently chronicled her journey through opioid addiction, praising local recovery programs for helping her break the cravings.

 

“I’m one of 23 million people in long-term recovery,” said Coyle. “I found that by attending to emotional wellness and physical wellness, that I was able to feel empowered.”

 

And as for the former commander-in-chief? He was very present as well, offering opening remarks and urging attendees to get involved within their communities.

 

 

The Unique Approach Of Breathe Life Healing Centers

As part of our ongoing profile series into unique treatment facilities throughout the southland, we are proud to share the revolutionary techniques happening at Breathe. What is Breathe, you ask? It is much more than a recovery clinic. It is a healing center. Here, patients dealing with drug and alcohol issues, eating disorders, traumatic incidents or mental health struggles can find a safe haven (and a beautiful one at that) where, as they put it, 21st century solutions are put into play.

 

We had the pleasure of chatting with Kristen Johnson, MPH, the facility’s Clinical Outreach Manager about what makes Breath so unique.

 

“We are a true trauma-informed program,” she explained. “And we have an incredible team. If you were to go the About Us section of our site, you would see a list of truly incredible, qualified individuals working hard to make a difference.”

 

One team member Kristen made sure to highlight was Breathe founder Brad Lamm. A veteran of shows like Dr. PhilTODAYThe Doctors and The Dr. Oz ShowBrad has managed over 1,000 interventions, presented before Parliament in the United Kingdom, served on the board of Intervention Specialists and (very openly) beaten addictions himself.

 

Below is a video of Brad, sharing the mission behind Breathe.

 

As you can tell from above, another major selling point of Breathe is its amazing location. This is one facility that exemplifies tranquility, nestled atop Laurel Canyon in the beautiful Hollywood Hills.

 

Here are arial views of the campus, where patients can focus on their recovery in gorgeous luxury homes.

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There are also amazing waterfalls, pools, spas and hot tubs.

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It even has its own biodynamic farm!

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And how exactly does the treatment process work at Breathe? Kristen explained that they use a unique two-pronged approach that emphasizes community-focused addiction recovery programs and a spiritual healing component developed by founder Brad Lamm. Kristen also told us that Breathe is very forward-thinking in its methods, incorporating the newest treatment techniques and offering innovative, interactive programs.

 

Breathe makes sure that each treatment method is unique, with specially catered programs available for opioid abusers, narcotics users (which breaks down treatment into Mind, Body and Spirit) and even 20-somethings via a special program called Failure To Launch.

 

Another progressive trait of Breathe is that it’s very social savvy. Brad regularly appears in educational YouTube videos and has a very active channel. There is also Twitter Page, a LinkedIn account and a busy Facebook page, complete with videos, online Tour scheduling and article sharing.

 

Not only is Breathe taking recovery into the modern era, it is doing it very well and offering a ton of proven results. Kristen also made a point to mention their work in the trauma field and how important that mission has become for the facility. Currently, Breathe treats everything from PTSD, to abuse survivors and more. They also have one of the nation’s top trauma therapists running the program.

 

We highly encourage all of our readers to further explore the unique approach of Breathe. Their website is fully interactive and a great first step into understanding more about this amazing facility.

 

To schedule a tour of the Breathe campus or to speak to Kristen directly, call (424) 335-3293.

 

Opioid Addicts Abusing Pets To Gain Pain Meds

As animal lovers, we found this latest story to be appalling. Nevertheless it’s an important message to get out, particularly because it illustrates just how far a painkiller addiction can go. According to recent reports, a new trend arising among opioid abusers is to harm their pets so they can receive meds from local veterinarians.

 

CBS News is reporting that vets are having to closely re-evaluate injured pet cases, particularly when owners are urging for painkiller prescriptions. Indeed, animal doctors are able to prescribe opioid-level medications to help impaired dogs and cats. But now, it is all happening with a very critical eye.

 

“We would never think of people using or abusing these drugs,” Dr. Duffy Jones, owner of Peachtree Hills Animal Hospital in Atlanta, Georgia, told the outlet. “We typically believe what people tell us and we don’t want a pet in pain, but now we’re taking a bit more of a critical look at exactly what the client is like and what the dog is like — does it fit?”

 

One key indicator that pets are being abused for drugs is the lack of medical records for the dogs and cats in question. The vets who spoke to CBS News have been noticing that opioid abusers have been taking their intentionally injured animals to different doctors in order to squash suspicion. The truth is, however, that this behavior is actually starting to raise more red flags.

 

“We are really looking for things that don’t match up,” Jones added. “As we start to question the owner, we look at the owner’s response. The ones being abused aren’t seeing us regularly; they’re moving from vet to vet.”

 

Medical records can show a history of injuries and lead to plenty of questions for pet owners. Rather that face confrontations, these addicts are hurting their animals then continuously visiting new vets for new meds. One animal prescription that is getting a lot of traction as of late is Tramadol.

 

Tramadol falls into the opioid/painkiller family and is regularly used to help pets recover from falls, scratches or minor surgeries.

 

“Tramadol is a fairly safe narcotic,” Jones said. “We use it a lot. We like it and it’s relatively inexpensive.”

 

It’s also very enticing for people who fall down the rabbit hole of opioid dependency. If simple painkillers cannot complete the high (or users can no longer receive prescriptions for themselves), picking up vet meds can be an easy, inexpensive and quick fix.

 

The good news is that the animal rights organizations are starting to take notice and these types of abusers are being properly punished for their crimes. CBS reported that a woman in Kentucky recently cut her dog with razor blades to obtain Tramadol from her vet. She was ultimately called out for her abuse and sentenced to four years in prison.

 

As we mentioned before, this type of behavior makes us sick and we implore anyone who’s contemplating hurting a pet to feed their addiction TO SEEK TREATMENT IMMEDIATELY. This is highly inappropriate behavior and a telltale sign that your cravings have gone too far.

 

 

April Recognized As Alcohol Awareness Month

It’s hard to believe that we are now in the midst of April. And with that, comes a very positive monthly theme set up by the team behind NCADD (also known as the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence). Yes, for the next 30 days we are officially part of Alcohol Awareness Month; a movement first organized in 1987 and meant to educate the public about the dangers of drinking.

 

This year marks AAM’s 30th anniversary and NCADD is celebrating with a massive PR campaign. On their site, they’ve set up informational blogs, web logos and picture files, social media links and an actual Organizer’s Guide which advises readers how to properly treat this devastating addiction.

 

“Alcohol and drug use is a very risky business for young people,” NCADD founder and president, Andrew Pucher, says on the site, “and parents can make a difference. The longer children delay drinking and drug use, the less likely they are to develop any problems associated with it. That’s why it is so important to help your child connect the dots and make smart decisions about alcohol and drugs.”

 

Indeed, “Connecting the Dots” is the key topic behind this year’s campaign. Many of their pamphlets include details on the theme, which is putting an emphasis on teens and underage drinking.  As their intro paragraph explains, “Reducing underage drinking is critical to securing a healthy future for America’s youth and in a society that continually promotes alcohol and drug use at every level, the need is great to provide education on the dangers of alcohol for children and to connect the dots that can lead to recovery.”

 

One of the more interactive features that NCADD has provided this time out are downloadable posters and flyers, specifically geared for schools, offices, churches and public parks. Each has a unique message, highlighting the dangerous stats the affect each location.

 

We agree that education is critical tool to combat the nation’s growing alcohol problem and themed months like this are a fantastic step forward. The digital age is certainly making a difference too, allowing these important messages to be displayed on YouTube channels, iPhones, websites and more. It’s actually never been easier to take these materials and help spread the word.

 

And that is one area that we are heavily encouraging to our readers to take action on. If you, yourself, are not necessarily impacted by drinking, we’re sure you know at least one person who is. Months like these are about advocacy and taking charge by becoming an Alcohol Awareness messenger. We encourage everyone to visit and support the NCADD site. If you have a printer, make a few flyer copies and post them on local community message boards.

 

We salute NCADD for the great work they’re continuing to do and we’ll certainly be championing this cause for many weeks to come!

 

 

Proposed Rules Aim To Help Sober Living Residents From Becoming Homeless

Costa Mesa’s sober-living homes received some big headlines this week thanks to a series of new rules that aim to keep exiting patients from becoming homeless. The city’s Planning Commission proposed the legislation, which would require transportation and information on homelessness resources to anyone who is involuntarily discharged from a facility. One of the big factors in the discussion was whether those battling drug and/or alcohol addictions can be classified as “disabled.”

 

“Federal law and state law protects these folks as being disabled — that’s the law of the land,” commission Vice Chairman Byron de Arakal told The Los Angeles Times. “I think we, as a community, need to be respectful and recognize the illness and provide, to the extent that we can, the ability for them to get better. And I think we do that in spades.”

 

Commissioners voting at the meeting overwhelmingly approved the measure, with a 4-o count. Now it’s up to the Costa Mesa City Council to make the final decision.

 

And if this were to happen, what would it mean for the people that run these facilities? Well according to details from the meeting, sober-living operators would have a legal mandate to notify a person’s contact (no matter the age) if an eviction were about to happen. If that connection could not be arranged, then it would be the home’s responsibility to contact the city’s Network for Homeless Solutions to determine an adequate exit strategy.

 

As far as transportation goes, group homes will be required by law to drive (or arrange a vehicle for) patients involuntarily removed to the permanent address listed on their license. Failing to comply could lead to serious consequences for each facility.

 

Truth be told, evictions can be a painful and difficult process for any facility. It is never the intent (at least from what we’ve seen) of any sober-living home to force a patient out before treatment is completed. But yes, things can happen…Particularly if one inhabitant starts to threaten the livelihood of others. So for us, having a clear exit strategy in place at all times is the easiest and safest solution.

 

We believe in always having preparations for any worst-case-scenario. That way, an unexpected eviction won’t take you by surprise. Of course, nobody wants to see a patient from their facility end up homeless and, with that, we support Costa Mesa’s stance on helping those addicted.

 

But laws shouldn’t have to dictate best practices. Get a clear emergency exit strategy in place before any registration begins and set your facility up for success.