Learn Which Surgeries Are Most Linked To Opioid Addiction

Research is essential in the fight against the nation’s growing opioid addiction crisis. As they say, “knowledge is power” and in this case, we’ve got knowledge about the surgeries which have seen the strongest connection to painkiller dependencies. The New York Daily News published an insightful story on the stats, which have put knee replacements and colectomies at the top of the list.

 

The Daily News‘ research pointed out two significant facts when relating the data. On the one hand, this rise has been seen because of the intense amount of pain following these particular surgeries. And on the other, these tend to be the procedures where opioids are most over-prescribed.

 

Truth be told, it is very difficult for a doctor to know just how much medication is needed after an intense surgery. Certain people may react differently and require stronger dosages of pain pills. But it is important that they’re all aware of the risks that have been posed after these patients leave the operating room.

 

According to The Daily News, colectomies (where parts of the colon are removed) have seen 18 percent of patients become long-time opioid users. Knee replacement patients are a close second, with a 17 percent opioid addiction rate. Those are followed by hernia and hysterectomy recoveries, which have both seen a 7 percent opioid misuse rate.

 

The article then went on to list the overarching stats, which were not too pleasant to read. Their research showed at least 1 in every 10 post-op patients find themselves dependent on opioids. Anesthesiologist Dr. Eric Sun told the site that there are currently no easy answers when it comes to relieving a patient’s pain.

 

“The bigger the incision, the more painful something ought to be,” he explained. “From my experience, knee surgeries tend to be the most painful, with constant complaints following the surgeries.”

 

“There’s a lot of other things you can give that can help, but at the end of the day, if someone is in a lot of pain, opioids are part of the mainstay,” Sun added. “That’s sort of the next phase in all this research. We know there’s a problem. The question is: What do you do about it? How do you keep these people from transitioning to long-term use?”

 

Obviously holding back on medication could be considered cruel for someone who has just undergone a serious procedure. But as many of our past articles have shown, there are alternative prescriptions for treating pain; which have been shown to be far less addictive than opioids.

 

Hopefully by educating readers about these particular procedures (like colectomies and knee replacements), we can at least prepare them and build awareness about he continued dangers that arise after getting off the operating table.

 

 

 

Fingerprint Tech May Be Used For Drug Testing

Gadget fans are well aware of Apple’s exciting new iPhone X announcement, where mobile devices can unlock via facial feature recognition. Now imagine if that same type of tech could be used for drug testing; specifically using people’s fingerprints to determine whether they’re on cocaine or other narcotics. Well according to a new article on TheFix.com, that may be very possible in the near future.

 

Apparently, researchers in the Netherlands have developed a non-invasive drug testing that that they claim is 99 percent accurate. Dubbed Paper Spray Mass Spectrometry, the app analyzes molecules in people’s fingerprints and can work even after a person has washed their hands.

 

The Netherlands Forensic Institute takes credit for the tech, with help from the private company, Intelligent Fingerprinting. Rep Dr. Melanie Bailey shared the exciting news with the site, particularly praising the test’s speed and accuracy.

 

“This is a real breakthrough in our work to bring a real time, non-invasive drug-testing method to the market that will provide a definitive result in a matter of minutes,” she claimed. “By the nature of the test, the identity of the subject, and their drug use, is all captured within the sample itself. We are already working on a 30-second method.”

 

Bailey then went on to describe the test in detail. Apparently as the body metabolizes drugs, it excretes a specific type of molecule that can be detected through the fingers. And it doesn’t matter whether you’ve just Purelled or not, the molecules will show up regardless and be present in the analysis (making it very difficult to “cheat”).

 

The article went on to say how this type of technology can benefit society on many levels. For police and law enforcement, this could be used to check for intoxicated drivers; avoiding invasive techniques like mouth swabbing and blood drawing. For medical personnel it could be a vital improvement as well, allowing emergency responders to immediately recognize the type of narcotic a patient may have overdosed from.

 

We’re sure many others will get use out of this tool as well. Families can use it to see if a loved one is under the influence of drugs and even recovery facilities like ours can incorporate into their practice during the early stages of treatment.

 

As we mentioned above, however, these tests still have some ways to go. Currently, it cannot be used to measure alcohol levels or marijuana use. But Dr. Bailey insists that those advancements are not far away. Stay tuned for more updates on this exciting technology, which should hopefully be available on smartphones very soon.

 

UK May Make Casinos Pay For Gambling Treatment

Every now and then, it’s good to look beyond our borders and see how other countries are tackling addiction. England, for example, is making tremendous strides in the field of recovery and just recently pushed their agenda even further. According to a Guardian article, lawmakers there are proposing new legislature which would make billion-dollar betting firms have to put their profits toward gambling addiction treatment.

 

Labour representative Tom Watson is credited with the measure. Here is currently running for deputy leader status in that party and vowed to “finally confront Britain’s immeasurable gambling problem,” if elected. Part of Watson’s platform is targeting the country’s casinos and betting firms, which he says go after England’s poorest communities.

 

“We now know that when vulnerable people try to opt out of online gambling, companies don’t always block their accounts as they should,” Watson said in a speech this week. “Gambling companies are even harvesting data to deliberately target low-income gamblers and people who have given up.”

 

Per The Guardian, the amount of British gambling addicts is well into the millions and that number is growing fast. Their data from The UK Gambling Commission claims that England residents 16 and above who suffer from betting issues have grown by a third in the past three years. Put into raw stats, that’s an additional 430,000 people since 2014.

 

For transparency, however, it is worth noting that British gambling firms already do contribute to addiction treatment; just in very small numbers. For example, in 2016 their annual take was over $13 billion pounds. Of that, only $10 million pounds were put towards recovery clinics.

 

Watson and his supporters strongly believe that isn’t enough. They are calling for a much larger share of the profits and a concentrated effort to help addicts from lower income regions of the country.

 

“My message to gambling firms today is clear: stop targeting vulnerable people. Start acting responsibly. And meet your obligation to help those whose lives have been blighted by addiction,” Watson emphasized. “You can do it now, because it’s the right thing to do. Or you can wait for the next Labour government to do it for you.”

 

Since those strong words, England’s Association of British Bookmakers have responded. To their credit, the association wasn’t necessarily opposed to the plan, but did feel a structure and process need to be put in place.

 

“We also would not oppose an appropriate, compulsory levy on the gambling industry to fund problem gambling treatment,” they said in a statement. “As we have long argued that the gambling industry needs to work together to reduce the number of problem gamblers and address the fact that most problem gamblers move between different forms of gambling.”

 

Very interesting updates from across the pond. Now the question is; Would an initiative like that ever be enacted in the states, targeting large casinos and online betting firms? We could certainly see it making a mountain of difference in the lives of problem gamblers here.

 

 

CVS Takes Stand Against Addiction

It is not every day that you hear about big corporations taking a stand against the nation’s growing addiction crisis. Particularly, when they make the majority of their profits selling prescriptions drugs. But that’s exactly what the pharmaceutical giant CVS is doing, with a promise to now limit and cap its opioid orders.

 

In a press release this week, CVS stated that they would be limiting opioid prescriptions to seven days and capping daily dosages based on pill strengths. They also vowed to add in-store disposal units to ensure that all leftover medication is accounted for, documented and removed. And as an additional measure, CVS said they would be strengthening a variety of counseling and awareness efforts in their stores.

 

“Prescription and nonprescription opioid misuse is now considered among the most urgent health crises in our country,” the company statement said. “The opioid epidemic touches all of the communities we serve, and as a pharmacy innovation company, we are in a unique position to make a difference.”

 

This was definitely a bold move and one that unfortunately may have impacted CVS’ ticker price. Since making their announcement, company shares dropped 1.4 percent to 79.56 in Thursday’s stock market. That follows up a previous drop of 2.9 percent, which many analysts claim has to do with some stiff competition from Amazon.

 

And unfortunately, this is often the reason that major drugstore businesses do not take a stand and limit prescriptions. Selling less product means less of a profit and a tendency for customers to look elsewhere for their pharmaceutical needs (a very short-sighted goal, in our opinion). Making a move like this showed tremendous conviction for the CVS brand and we sincerely applaud them for it.

 

As the Investors Business Daily article correctly pointed out after CVS’ announcement, opioid and heroin abuse has more than doubled in the past 10 years; with fatal overdoses increasing sixfold in that time period. There is also research that has shown that opioid addictions have impacted the national labor force, with a possible 20 percent drop in participation due to painkiller dependencies.

 

This is certainly serious problem that is having a major impact on the American workforce and the economy. The irony is, companies that refuse to limit prescriptions to save some dollars today could lose much more in the long run. As more addicted citizens lose work and income, you can bet that they’ll be spending less and less at their neighborhood drugstore.

 

 

Northern California Hit Hard By Opioid Addictions

We’ve previously profiled California and its rankings among the national opioid addiction average. But have you ever wondered which regions of our state have been hit hardest by this epidemic? Well The Sacramento Bee recently published some very telling stats, which highlight the skyrocketing prescription rates of northern Cali.

 

Apparently it’s our state’s rural areas that have seen the sharpest increase. Regions like Shasta, Tuolumne and El Dorado were singled out, in particular, with opioid prescriptions given to 15 percent of their overall residents. Lake County had some even more alarming stats, with a rate of 27 percent (nearly double the state average).

 

The Bee received their data from the California Department of Public Health, which did a comprehensive statewide analysis. Their research pointed out counties as well, including Trinity County (located just outside Redding) which had 18,439 opioid prescriptions filled last year. That is especially troubling when you consider that their entire population equates to 13,628; giving it the highest per capita prescription rate in California.

 

“What you’re seeing in California is what you’re seeing in many parts of the country, including Oregon,” associate professor of medicine at Oregon Health & Science University, Dr. Todd Korthuis, told TheFix.com. “There are still a lot of rural counties around the U.S. that are awash in prescription opioids.”

 

And though our southern California region did fare better, we are by no means unaffected by this epidemic. The Bee made a point to publish a comprehensive map of the state, which highlighted the areas most impacted.

 

Closer to home, you’ll notice that counties like San Bernardino, Kern and Riverside also had their fair share of opioid prescriptions.

 

It is worth noting that the Department of Public Health also published some demographic breakdowns based on their statewide research. Aligning with the findings of a higher rural concentration, they pointed out that lower income residents did tend to receive more prescriptions.

 

In regards to age, the California group that saw the greatest increase in 2016 prescriptions were those who were 70 years or older. Their count jumped up by a noticeable amount, with 1,394 prescriptions per every 1,000 people in the last year.

 

“The following characteristics were associated with higher amounts of opioids prescribed,” the report went on to say. “A larger percentage of non-Hispanic whites; higher rates of uninsured and Medicaid enrollment; lower educational attainment; higher rates of unemployment; (small-town) status; more dentists and physicians per capita; a higher prevalence of diagnosed diabetes, arthritis, and disability; and higher suicide rates.”

 

Yes it’s quite a lot of data to swallow, but these are some very important figures nonetheless. We certainly have a lot of love for our beautiful state and welcome in clients from all regions. Whether you’re in the L.A. area or not, please make sure to reach out to Valley Recovery Center if you feel like there’s a problem.

 

New Sublime Documentary Offers A Bitter Portrait Of Addiction

For generations, addiction has wreaked havoc for celebrities in the entertainment industry. In the music world, in particular, it has claimed the lives of countless artists; many before their prime. One major of example of this is the tragic story of Sublime and the fatal overdose that took the life of their frontman Bradley Nowell. What the public may not know about that particular group, is how much further these dependencies affected the members and their families. Now, that is all getting chronicled in a highly-anticipated new documentary called The Long Way Back.

 

Planned for release on the 21st anniversary the group’s landmark Sublime album, the film profiles Nowell’s untimely demise (due to heroin abuse) and the addictions that continued to plague his best friend and son. It is certainly a gritty and moving piece, but one that does aim to inspire in its final chapter.

 

Nowell’s best friend Todd “Z-Man” Zalkins is one of the doc’s main focal points, with a profile of his rapid decline into heroin abuse following Bradley’s death. It is an interesting portrait and one we have encountered frequently in the recovery world.

 

Often times an addiction-related death of a close friend or family member may create the urge to use even more. Rather than getting “scared straight,” Zalkins and many like him find themselves turning to substances to numb their pain.

 

“It was sex, drugs and rock and roll,” he explained in the film trailer. “Then it was drugs and rock and roll. Then it was just drugs. When Brad died, I thought that would have been a wake-up call. It was the exact opposite. We just wanted to stuff ourselves with whatever fuckin’ substances we could to numb the pain and act like we’re still having fun.”

 

Another tearful moment in the clip highlights Nowell’s now 22-year-old son Jakob (who was literally a baby when his father died).  He too succumbed to drugs and alcohol, using them in a way to “connect” with his dad.

 

“There was this subconscious desire to kind of understand what my dad’s experiences were,” Jakob says in a clip. “Why would he smoke this? Why would he snort that? Why would he drink this? Why would he pop that.”

 

But, the movie does promise a light at the end of this dark tunnel. During the final moments of the trailer, it is revealed that Z-Man and Jakob find their way to recovery and use each other for support.

 

There is no doubt that The Long Way Back promises to be an emotional ride, but it’s one that we’re sure is worth taking; whether you were a fan of the band or not.

 

The movie premieres next month on iTunes and Amazon and can be seen in snippets via the official trailer below.

 

 

Certain Insurance Companies Blamed For Opioid Crisis

For all of the benefits that medicines and pharmaceuticals provide, it is important to remember that they are all ultimately driven by business. And just like the rest of America’s companies, they need profits to survive. But could certain business models in this industry actually be contributing to the country’s opioid crisis? That’s what a recent New York Times expose is hoping to uncover.

 

The Times piece actually focused specifically on insurance companies and their role in making these painkillers easily accessible to the public. Their article called out the fact that many of these “businesses” have been limiting accessibility to pain medications that carry a lower risk of addiction. The reason? Money.

 

We agree that there aren’t nefarious elements at play here. It is simply based on cost analysis, which has shown that opioid drugs are generally cheaper to produce when compared to other less-addictive painkillers.

 

One example given in the Times piece concerns United Healthcare (which happens to be the nation’s largest insurer). A prescription like morphine, for example, has been placed on their most affordable drug coverage tier. Why? Because it costs patient and insurer $29 for a month’s supply.

 

The drug Butrans, however, has been shown to treat similar pains and is considered much less addictive. Interestingly enough, this painkiller has been added to UHC’s most expensive coverage tier, costing patient and insurer $342 for a four-week supply. Yes it brings in less of a profit, but it also could be much more beneficial for someone who is susceptible to addiction.

 

Georgia native Alisa Erkes was interviewed for the article and expressed her frustration after being denied access to the less addictive drug Butrans.

 

“Still very disappointed United Healthcare and they decision to refuse coverage of Butrans patches,” she explained.  “I am now forced to be on stronger pain meds after dealing with out of control pain for weeks. How is this ok?”

 

To be fair, the Times also reached out to UHC, whose reps to continue to deny that they are doing anything to contribute to the nation’s opioid crisis. One of their spokespeople claimed that they are taking an aggressive stance to limit opioid prescriptions for people they insure.

 

“All opioids are addictive, which is why we work with care providers and members to promote non-opioid treatment options for people suffering from chronic pain,” UHC rep Matthew N. Wiggin said in a statement.

 

Nevertheless, the article reported that the Department of Health and Human Services is getting involved in the issue and looking into whether insurance companies like UHC make opioids more accessible than other pain treatments.

 

One carrier that the Times did praise was Aetna, which has released reports showing marked declines in monthly opioid prescriptions within the past year.

 

Clearly this story is far from over. In the end, we certainly hope some of these larger companies re-evaluate their business models and find ways to still maintain profits without putting clients’ well-being at risk.

 

Noted Professor Joins The Addiction Fight

Most of us have had to deal with at least one loved one who has grappled with addiction. And in the case noted Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) professor Dr. Omar Abubaker, the situation took an extremely tragic turn. At just 21-years-old, his son Adam fatally overdosed on heroin; leaving the professor heartbroken and on a new mission to change opioid prescribing practices.

 

Dr. Abubaker actually has a close connection to prescription drugs. He happens to be the chair of VCU’s Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery Department, which instructs young doctors-in-training on the fundamentals of prescribing. Opioids happen to be a popular medication for patients following oral surgeries and Dr. Abubaker openly admitted that he never questioned that practice…until now.

 

Following the death of his son, Dr. Abubaker began researching the growing opioid epidemic, digging through stats and ultimately earning a graduate certificate in addiction studies.

 

“I educated myself, because I didn’t want to be talking about it emotionally as a parent,” he explained in a recent interview. “As an educator, I have to talk intelligently and scientifically.”

 

Part of Dr. Abubaker’s mission includes educating professionals in the dental field about the dangers of opioid abuse. While this problem has clearly received attention from doctors and pharmacists, dental professionals haven’t quite realized the impact. Recent stats from TheFix.com show that the majority of opioid prescriptions to people ages 10 to 19 come from dentists (primarily following wisdom teeth procedures).

 

Dr. Abubaker believes that education is a key component in limiting the amount of opioid his fellow dentists prescribe, especially since there are other effective painkillers that are much less addictive. He, like many of his colleagues, never realized the true dangers behind this particular drug.

 

“Before, (it wasn’t) even a thought to give a prescription for a narcotic. It’s just a practice. It’s a habit,” Dr. Abubaker told the interviewer. “Everybody that gets a tooth pulled — whether it’s one tooth or 10 teeth or all teeth — they get a prescription. And I don’t want to say I was careless, but I was like 95 percent of doctors and oral surgeons. So what I tell you about me before is reflective of the dental profession in general, and the practice of medicine.”

 

Abubaker’s new mission is to get that word out to those currently in practice and, just as importantly, all of the students that are part of his dentistry and oral surgery program. He also wants to lift the negative stereotypes that surround these types of addictions. Speaking about his own tragic experience with his son, Dr. Abubaker explained that clearer communication would have made a world of difference.

 

“We have to have compassion,” he concluded. “(My son) didn’t come to me before because he was embarrassed.  I think he was embarrassed because I’m a doctor, I’m a big deal. He was worried he’d disappoint me because he was addicted, because I never thought that would happen to me.”

 

Self-Driving Cars May Lead To Spike In Alcoholism

Here’s an interesting correlation. Try and imagine how something techy like the self-driving car could be possibly be tied to an increase in American alcohol consumption. It’s actually not that far-fetched says the financial firm Morgan Stanley. Their analysts are now predicting a spike in booze sales because of the potential drinking and driving risks this product will alleviate.

 

Believe it or not, a lot of research went into this prediction and it is certainly making waves on Wall Street. CNBC made a point to cover the story, reporting that Morgan Stanley reps see an addition of 80 basis points to alcoholic beverage sales growth within the next 10 years.

 

“Shared and autonomous vehicles could expand the total addressable market of alcoholic beverages while reducing the incidence of traffic fatalities and accidents,” firm rep Adam Jonas wrote in their report. “This type of technology could help address the mutual exclusivity of drinking and driving in a way that can significantly enhance the growth rate of the alcohol market and on-trade sales at restaurants. [It is a] significant growth opportunity for alcoholic beverage firms, particularly on-trade, premium and beer.”

 

And though it wasn’t specifically referenced, clearly this type of prediction could see a rise in alcohol abuse as well. Later in the report it was noted that self-driving cars can free up drinkers to consume one incremental alcoholic beverage per week on average. Their thorough research estimated that 600 billion passenger hours are spent in automobiles and 380 billion hours spend drinking booze.

 

“There will be “more opportunities to drink before getting in the car,” Jonas concluded. “[And] more opportunities to drink while in the car.”

 

And which mega-alcohol brands will benefit the most from the modern cars? Morgan Stanley’s report singled out Constellation Brands (Corona and Modelo, specifically), Anheuser Busch (Budweiser) and Brown Forman (makers of Jack Daniels) as the “best positioned” for this new era of drinking and non-driving.

 

Honestly, in our opinion, this is truly a double-edged sword. Yes, on one hand self-driving cars will make the highways much safer and hopefully lessen the amount of drunk drivers on the road. But this could also be seen as an exercise in enabling, giving people more freedom to drink at any and all hours of the day.

 

Our hope is that whatever happens, lawmakers are aware of all of these scenarios and continue to enforce strict laws against automotive alcoholism (passenger or not). The world is changing quickly around us and so are the doorways to addiction. We need to make sure people are educated and continuing to use good judgment no matter what exciting prospects the tech world offers.

 

How Natural Disasters Fuel Addictions

This week, ABC News shared an interesting article detailing addiction issues triggered by the nation’s recent natural disasters. Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irene are the two prime examples they use, illustrating the stress and dependencies that emerge during catastrophic situations.

 

One particularly scary factoid that the ABC piece highlighted concerned the rise in pharmaceutical looting that has been occurring in Florida and Texas. As drugstores become evacuated and unmanned, addicts have been seen breaking in to grab prescription pills for use and possible black market sales. The same goes for home lootings in these regions, which have been focusing on bathroom medicine cabinets.

 

Fear, isolation and anxiety are big factors to consider as well. National Development and Research Institutes rep Andrew Golub (who did some extensive addiction analyses following Hurricane Katrina) was interviewed for the piece and offered some telling stats.

 

“During disasters like a storm, it becomes harder to hide and cope with one’s addiction in private,” Golub told the site. “Disasters cause stress, and stress can cause relapse for people struggling with addiction, whether their problem is alcohol, tobacco, pills or heroin. Authorities planning for the devastating effects of hurricanes now need to factor in the heightened dangers of relapses and overdoses.”

 

Golub’s Katrina research led to some alarming revelations. His team discovered that during the powerful 2012 storm, many users avoided evacuating their homes in order to stay closer to their dealers. There was also a rise in HIV and hepatitis cases, as stranded residents began sharing needles with strangers to get their fix.

 

Another big point brought up in the article is how a disaster can interrupt treatment.  A successful recovery regimen takes weeks of consistent care and therapy. Imagine if, during the middle of a program, the entire group was forced to evacuate and all sources of power and communication were lost.

 

Natural disasters break apart routines and stability as well, which can be devastating for someone fighting addictive tendencies. Imagine if you lost your job or a loved one during something like a hurricane. It can certainly lead to a downward spiral of escapism and drug use.

 

Mark Kinzly, a Texas recovery advocate and clinic operator, spoke to ABC as well and offered some strong words about the emotions involved in a natural disaster.

 

“There’s people that are going to be without jobs and without homes because of Hurricane Harvey,” he explained. “They’re going to be less stable in their overall lives to begin with. That can be dangerous.”

 

Thankfully, hurricanes and floods aren’t a huge concern for us in California. But something like an earthquake can be just as devastating (if not more). We encourage everyone to stay prepared for unplanned occurrences and do whatever it takes to avoid these trappings in times of trouble.

 

New York Opens $26M Recovery Center

Though it may be on an entirely different coast, the work that New York is doing to propel the recovery movement deserves some recognition. This past week, state officials participated in the grand opening of a major treatment facility based in the city’s Ward’s Islands district. Dubbed The George Rosenfeld Center for Recovery, it cost over $26 million and is hoping to provide effective and affordable care for people in the community who are suffering from addiction.

 

Though Governor Andrew Cuomo did attend the ribbon cutting for the center, he did offer an official statement about the importance of recovery.

 

“New York is committed to the fight against addiction” Cuomo stated through his reps. “And with these latest investments, we are taking necessary steps to ensure individuals and families in underserved communities are connected with the resources and support services they need.”

 

His Lieutenant Governor, Kathy Hochul, was on hand for the ceremony, officially opening its doors for the press and staff. She also answered questions about the state’s current and future efforts to fight addiction. One interesting footnote that came out of the conversation was the governor’s plans for two additional large-scale recovery centers in the Bronx and Queens.

 

Lt. Governor Kathy Hochul presiding over the opening of New York’s George Rosenfeld Center for Recovery.

 

As for the center itself, Rosenfeld (or GRCR as it’s commonly called) promises a lot of progress for New Yorkers battling addictions. This particular clinic houses 231 beds and caters specifically to women and seniors. It also is putting a heavy emphasis on opioid addiction treatment, with trained staff and programs for people with that dependency.

 

The facility sits on a 480-acre city park and underwent a massive renovation after being a hospital in a previous life. It offers tranquil grounds and state-of-the-art resources to ensure that patients receive the most effective treatment possible. For those curious, there are lots of details about the massive GRCR project on their official site.

 

To help promote health and recovery, Hochul also revealed that the state will be awarding $300,000 to three insurance providers to help establish a “Family Support Navigator” program that will help New York families who are having difficulty working through their coverage issues.

 

Money like this can certainly do a lot of good in the battle against addiction and it is great to see political leaders allocate their budgets toward this cause. Closer to home, there is still a lot California can do to aid this fight. Our hope is that state officials here follow suit and use excess funds towards education and support for needy dependent families.

 

 

Magnetic Pulses Used To Treat Cocaine Addiction

Imagine being able to use electromagnetic pulses as a tool to conquer a devastating cocaine addiction. As far fetched as that may seem, scientists in Maryland are working to make it a reality and are seeing encouraging results (so says Science Magazine).

 

The popular tech journal recently did a profile of Baltimore-based neuroscientists Antonello Bonci and Billy Chen, who are in the midst of some interesting recovery experiments at the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). Their work initially began on rats, who developed cocaine addictions and began receiving electric shock treatment to curb their habits.

 

“These animals were so powerfully addicted that they tolerated repeated electric shocks to their feet to get their fixes,” Bonci told Science. “The rats had also been genetically engineered so that their neurons could be controlled with light. When we stimulated their’ brains in an area that regulates impulse control, they essentially kicked their habit. They would almost instantaneously stop searching for cocaine.”

 

Bonci and Chen’s initial work began back in 2013. Now their methods are being adopted by clinics throughout the world. The Villa Maria Clinic in Padua, Italy was also profiled in the piece, thanks to their incredible success with this practice on human beings.

 

Villa Maria’s work is officially categorized as Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS, for short) and, so far, has been successfully able to treat more than 300 addicted patients. Their techniques are completely non-invasive and involve targeted stimulation of the brain’s prefrontal cortex. It simply involves wearing a helmet that triggers neural activity.

 

An example of the device was shared on Science’s website and is pictured below.

 

For the record, TMS is already an approved therapy for issues like depression, post-traumatic stress disorders and stroke recoveries. It has also been praised by several notable institutions, including Harvard Medical School. Michael Fox, a physician at that university, told Science that it offers “a huge amount of promise.”

 

Many of the scientists interviewed for the piece do define TMS as a “work in progress.” Currently the success rate is high for this type of treatment, but there are still many trials to come. For example; several institutes vary on how many pulses to deliver when patients wear the equipment. There are also differing thoughts on frequency levels and the length of treatment.

 

“Basic science research in drug abuse in the last 3 to 5 years has told us, ‘Look, there is a potential for a treatment here,’” Bonci added. “Imagine that this does become the first approved neurobiological treatment for cocaine addiction. It’s a big deal, a game-changing therapy.”

 

We are very excited to follow this story and will make sure to keep everyone updated on the future of TMS.

 

Rock To Recovery Concert Returns This Month

They say that music is a universal healer and, by the looks of things, it has certainly helped make progress in the recovery field. Particularly hard rock! This month marks the second annual Rock To Recovery concert, which uses some of metal’s biggest stars to spread the word about overcoming addictions.

 

Organized by Korn guitarist (and recovery advocate) Wes Geer, this year’s event promises a stellar lineup of stars. Slipknot’s Corey Taylor will be one of 2017’s honorees and members of bands like Guns N’ Roses, Stone Temple Pilots and Apolcalyptica will be on hand to jam and support the cause.

 

Speaking with TheFix.com, Geer explained the message and the mission behind this year’s event.

 

“There’s a big lie that your head tells you when you’re in recovery, whether you’re a wounded vet or suffering from depression, anxiety, or an eating disorder,” he explained to the site. “You feel hopeless and feel like life is never going to be fun again. We want people to come out and say, ‘I’m in recovery and I didn’t think I could feel that good again, but I just had an amazing time.’”

 

Expect plenty of tributes too, to several of the music stars who left us too soon and took a stand against addiction. Former Linkin Park frontman Chester Bennington, for example, played a big role in the first Rock to Recovery concert. Following his untimely suicide, you can bet there will be plenty of power chords being played in his memory that night.

 

Speaking of the prior show, Geer explained that it turned out to be a huge success and he anticipates continuing this rock tradition for many years to come.

 

“I’ve played some amazing shows,” he added. “But my phone never blew up like it did after last year’s event. I knew we’d done something really good, but people were tripping out to the point where I couldn’t believe how much they were going on and on about it. That show was ours. It belonged to the recovery community.”

 

For the record, Rock to Recovery is making generous donations to local treatment organizations across Los Angeles and they are also accepting funds on their site. Generous supporters of the cause include Fender Guitars, Roland Amps and Rode Microphones.

 

The big event happens September 16 at the Fonda Theater in Hollywood. You can find plenty of info on the official Rock to Recovery website and even get a taste of the fun in the YouTube trailer below.

 

 

Rock on and support the cause!

 

Recognizing National Addiction Recovery Month

As most VRC readers probably know, this is the start of a very important month for people in our field. From the 1st through the 30th, September is officially recognized as National Alcohol and Drug Addiction Recovery Month (NADARM). And though we want it to receive as much attention as possible, this year it is getting highlighted for some disheartening reasons; specifically, the rise of the nation’s opioid epidemic.

 

President Donald Trump, himself, made a point to emphasize NADARM in a White House press release. In it, he emphasized the 20 million Americans who are currently battling addictions. He also drove attention to drug trafficking, pledging to put $2.6 billion of his 2018 budget proposal towards border security (which, he claims, will hurt the flow of incoming narcotics).

 

“During National Alcohol and Drug Addiction Recovery Month, we stand with the millions of Americans in recovery from alcohol and drug addiction, and reaffirm our commitment to support those who are struggling with addiction, and their families and loved ones,” Trump wrote. “Substance abuse robs Americans of their potential, shatters their families, and tears apart our communities.  My Administration is committed to lifting our Nation from this tragic reality.”

 

Elsewhere, the month is garnering attention on social media with the shortened  #RecoveryMonth  hashtag and online handles that drive to educational websites. The official Twitter page, in particular, has been keeping current with multiple daily posts that offer inspiration and resources.

 

The National Association for Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Counselors (NAADAC) website also provides a large amount of resources that explain the history and purpose of this important monthly declaration. One very powerful tool is the downloadable PDF the site offers, which can be shared with anyone battling a dependency.

 

Technically, NADARM has been happening for over 27 years (though Donald Trump takes official credit in his press release). As told by NAADAC, it aims to highlight the achievements of individuals who have reclaimed their lives in recovery and honors the programs that help make that possible.

 

Each year comes with a different theme and for 2017, the organizers have chosen to focus on Strengthening Families and Communities. It is certainly a powerful message and one that has relevance for the opioid crisis, as families continue to be impacted by addicted loved ones.

 

NAADAC also links out to sharable resources to help anyone become a champion for the cause. One option is sharing the new 2017 PSA’s, which tap into the current theme and easily upload to social media.

 

Below is one their current Connections clips, which promotes community cooperation.

 

We encourage everyone to participate in this important movement and help spread the word about the power of recovery!

 

 

Energy Drinks May Lead To Addiction

We all known that energy drinks have become quite popular as “chasers” and mixers for alcohol. But could they actually contribute to addiction? Researchers at the University of Maryland believe so and they’ve put forth some compelling evidence to prove it.

 

Their findings claim that young adults who regularly consume beverages like Monster and Red Bull were significantly more likely to abuse cocaine, prescription pills and alcohol.

 

“The results suggest that energy drink users might be at heightened risk for other substance use, particularly stimulants,” Maryland researcher Amelia Arria explained in a recent interview.

 

Beyond the addiction data, these types of drinks also pose significant health risks when consumed over time. Built upon an overload of caffeine and stimulants, they can cause serious damage to sleeping patterns and may lead to irregular heartbeats.

 

Within the recovery industry, energy drinks are frowned generally upon too. Particularly because they often act as “replacement highs” for people working through their addictions. They are also commonplace at bars and clubs, encouraging the all-night “party lifestyle” and blended with hard liquor, like vodka.

 

The study specifically singled out this type of audience, targeting the habits of over a thousand 21 to 25-year-olds. Of that grouping, more than half admitted to consuming large quantities of energy drinks at a time. They were later shown to have a much stronger propensity toward cocaine and alcohol abuse.

 

To be fair, however, reps from the energy drink industry have fought back against the claims. American Beverage Association vice president William Dermody granted an interview to USA Today where he provided his own set of facts.

 

“Mainstream energy drinks have been extensively studied and confirmed safe for consumption by government safety authorities worldwide,” Dermody told the site. “Nothing in this study counters this well-established fact.”

 

But let’s be honest, Dermody has a big business to defend. According to the most recent stats, energy drink sales have now reached $50 billion annually. So imagine what kind of damage they’d receive if it were proven that they could cause addictions.

 

All we like to do is present the facts as we see them. At the moment, we’re not ready to completely write off energy drinks (since they are alcohol-free). But we were never big fans and many of the enticing party-themed advertising messages don’t help the cause.

 

If you ask us, there are plenty of healthier beverage alternatives for those looking to stay clean. H20 is, of course, our personal favorite. But if you’re sensing Monsters and Red Bulls are leading you down a dangerous path, talk to us about it and make sure you’re not ignoring a bigger issue. 866-986-2486