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Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Alcohol Use Disorder and Gastric Bypass

alcohol use disorder
In the United States, we have a lot of fast food and a lot of alcohol. On most corners in major cities you can find any one of several chain stores selling greasy food and stores selling liquor. Both of which are the farthest thing from good for you. Interestingly, the products being sold at both places are also rich in calories and carry the propensity for addiction among those who consume such products regularly.

In America, more than two-thirds (68.8 percent) of adults are considered to be overweight or obese, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. With, more than one-third (35.7 percent) of adults being obese, it is fair to say that it is a problem of epidemic proportions.

It is hard to watch out for one’s own well-being in a society that caters to both enticement and impatience. And what's more, promoting good health is harder to accomplish than offering a band-aid which makes it harder to consume things in unhealthy ways. Food, like alcohol, can be an addictive substance that should be considered as such. If doctors are going to offer solutions to the physical aspect of the problem, they need to focus on the person's mental health, as well.


Addressing Food and Alcohol Addiction

In the modern times, people who struggle with weight can have a number of types of procedures done to address the problem. One of the most popular today is what is called Roux-en-Y gastric bypass (RYGB) surgery. It is a procedure that reduces the functional volume of the stomach making it harder to consume the amount of food that promotes obesity. While the procedure is effective, it does nothing to address the root causes that led to such an insatiable appetite in the first place. Which is why a new research published in Surgery for Obesity and Related Diseases is of so much interest.

It turns out that people who undergo gastric bypass are at an increased risk of developing problems with alcohol, ScienceDaily reports. In fact, the researchers at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health found that 1 in 5 RYGB patients develop alcohol problems. The authors say the findings indicate there is need for long-term clinical follow-ups for patients who have the procedure done.

"We knew there was an increase in the number of people experiencing problems with alcohol within the first two years of surgery, but we didn't expect the number of affected patients to continue to grow throughout seven years of follow-up," said lead author Wendy C. King, Ph.D. He adds, “"Because alcohol problems may not appear for several years, it is important that doctors routinely ask patients with a history of bariatric surgery about their alcohol consumption and whether they are experiencing symptoms of alcohol use disorder, and are prepared to refer them to treatment."


Alcohol Use Disorder Treatment

Making it harder to consume foods at dangerous levels does not mean that people will stop feeding the pathologies that exist in the mind. Compulsive overeating is a form of mental illness that needs to be treated, making the stomach smaller does not accomplish this. People with one form of addiction are far more likely to be at risk of developing another dependence.

If you had a gastric bypass, and are finding that alcohol has become a problem, please contact Whiteside Manor to begin treatment. We can help you break the cycle of addiction, and help you address the root causes that precipitated the condition. Addiction recovery has universal efficacy for all forms of use disorders, including food addiction.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Cherokee Nation Sues for Opioid Damages

With most tragedies that befall people, reparations are often sought and in some cases granted. Not that any amount of money can bring back a loved one, but it certainly does not hurt. After major wars, reparations are often gone after from the aggressors or conflict instigators. Such paybacks usually require a tooth and nail fight and even then, what ends up being paid is rarely enough—a veritable drop in the bucket. The Jews of Europe in the 1930’s and `40s and their adult children are still working to reclaim lost family possessions and have financial compensation for the damage done.

The Holocaust may have been a singular atrocity, but there have been many such instances across the sands of time. Going back to the time of the Tsar’s and beyond. In our own country, one whose brief history has been fortunate to escape the scars of modern warfare, we have a past that is not short of atrocious deeds. Notably the 100’s of years of slavery and subsequent segregation in the South, the massacre of Native Americans peoples and resettlement to reservations, and Japanese internment during World War II.

America, to be sure, is not beyond reproach. Our history is far from pretty, and the aforementioned American people are still fighting for reparations. Which brings into question where else people have been targeted, exploited and lost their life from things other than chains and bullets.


A Debt Owed From Opioid Profits

Now a couple decades after the American opioid addiction epidemic began, it is becoming abundantly clear that people across the country were lied to about the dangers of opioid painkillers. Narcotics which have stolen lives from multiple generation, from practically every demographic. From Big Pharma to chain pharmacies, and everything in between, i.e. drug wholesalers, doctors, and prescribing nurses.

In many cases, the writing was on the wall long ago that the drugs being manufactured, distributed, prescribed and filled at pharmacies were being rampantly abused. With only a minuscule of interdiction until late, and even that is far from enough. Which is one of the reasons why states have been filing class action suits against all perceived guilty parties who, evidence suggests, knowingly had a role in patient addiction and overdose deaths.

One of the more recent suits came from a proud people who are no stranger to malfeasance and death disguised as gifts, the Cherokee Nation. A suit was filed against CVS Health, Walgreens, et. al., the claimant alleges that not enough was done to prevent opioid painkillers from ravaging the tribal community, PBS NewsHour reports. They claim that the defendants did not adequately monitor opioid prescriptions and orders. Had they done so, red flags would have been raised and federal officials could have interdicted. The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) reports that an estimated 845 million milligrams of opioids, between 360 and 720 pills per year for every prescription opioid user, were distributed across the Cherokee Nation.

“As we fight this epidemic in our hospitals, our schools, and our Cherokee homes, we will also use our legal system to make sure the companies, who put profits over people while our society is crippled by this epidemic, are held responsible for their actions,” Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Bill John Baker said in a statement.


Opioid Addiction Treatment

Sadly, the Cherokee Nation is not the only tribal people to be greatly affected by the epidemic. At Whiteside Manor, we have treated native peoples from the Southwest and beyond who have been touched by opioid addiction. Our team of professional substance abuse counselors have been trained in Native American philosophies and practices, and we receive referrals from Traditional Reservation Behavioral / Mental Health departments and we work closely with the Native American Recovery Community.

If you or a loved one is battling prescription opioid or heroin addiction, please contact us today.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Treating Chronic Pain Without Opioids

Pain, whether it be acute or chronic, affects millions of Americans every day of the week. Arthritis, lower back pain and acute injuries can make it extremely difficult to function—impacting one’s ability to tackle daily responsibilities. The good news is that there are effective drugs available for dulling the painful edge, the bad news is that they are not only
habit-forming, they are extremely dangerous to one’s life.

You probably know by now that we are not referring to Ibuprofen or Acetaminophen. Opioid painkillers are hands down the most effective way to treat any form of pain. And to be fair, not everyone who takes this class of drugs become addicted or experiences an overdose. However, the fact that there are now over 2 million people living with an opioid use disorder in the United States and around 100 people dying from an overdose every day, says that we need to rethink our reliance on the potentially hazardous narcotics.

It practically goes without saying that prescription opioids are entrenched in our healthcare system. They are vital in the performance of medical operations and recovery. End of life patients would suffer greatly without access to narcotic painkillers. People with debilitating chronic pain, would not be able to function without painkillers. However, regarding the latter, utilizing alternatives forms of pain management before resorting to opioids needs to be a priority.


Providing Safe Pain Relief

There are a number of practices that doctors could adopt to better ensure the safety of their patients. It is vital that physicians identify pain patients who may be at risk of addiction and/or overdose, so that alternative therapies can be utilized. Patients who are considered safe to prescribe, need to be written prescriptions responsibly—low dose and limited refills.

The best way to accomplish such a goal is encouraging physicians, according to Christopher J. Burnett, MD, an assistant professor of anesthesiology at the Texas A&M College of Medicine and director of the Baylor Scott & White Health’s Temple Pain Clinic, to adhere to the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) prescribing guidelines issued in 2016. In situations that a doctor feels opioids should be avoided Burnett believes that doing nothing about a pain complaint may be the best initial course to take:

"Much of the time, the right thing to do for lower back pain is to simply wait," said Burnett. "It might be an acute injury that will heal on its own given a little time."

There are alternative forms of pain management that can be tried before turning to prescription opioids, including:
  • Anti-Inflammatory drugs
  • Physical Therapy
  • Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS)
  • Acupuncture
  • Massage
"The population of patients who need opioids chronically is actually pretty small," Burnett said. "For most people, the prescription comes with an exit plan. These medications are now considered to be a way to bridge to the next line of therapy."


Pain In Recovery

If you suffer from chronic pain and have become addicted to prescription opioids, breaking the cycle of addiction is extremely important. After the fact, the pain is likely to still be a problem, but returning to opioids should be out of the question. Working with a physician who understands your history could lead to effective methods of pain relief that do not involve opioids. You may never be free from all pain, but it can be reduced to manageable levels allowing you to enjoy life. Please remember, there are many recovering addicts and alcoholics who live fulfilling lives with chronic pain. You can too.

If you are struggling with prescription opioid abuse, please contact Whiteside Manor today.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Talking About Alcohol and Alcoholism

alcohol awareness month
With prescription opioids, fentanyl and heroin on the mind of most lawmakers and health experts, the National Council On Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD) would like you to divert your attention to alcohol this April. As they have for the last 30 years, going back to 1987. April is Alcohol Awareness Month and this year’s theme is, “Connecting the Dots: Opportunities for Recovery.”

Just as in years past, the focus has much to do with ending the stigma of alcoholism, a chronic disease that takes more lives in America every year than opioids. But alcoholism receives far less attention. NCADD encourages local communities to educate their citizens, especially young people, about the dangers of alcohol. There will be events occurring across the country designed to open peoples' eyes about such dangers, and encourage those suffering from an alcohol use disorder to seek help.

It is easy for young adults to rationalize their relationship with alcohol by comparing their drinking to that of their peers. It often takes years for one to realize that their drinking has gotten out of hand, that their lives have become unmanageable and they are, in fact, powerless over alcohol.

By working to educate people about the signs and symptoms of alcohol use disorder, they may be more likely to seek help—sooner rather than later. With addiction, time is of the essence; with each day that passes the disease progresses and the risk of premature death becomes ever more likely. Working to end the stigma of alcoholism and other forms of mental illness, countless lives will be saved.


Connecting the Dots

Perhaps you would like to have a role in raising awareness about alcohol and alcoholism? If so, there is a lot of information about hosting events in your area at NCADD. Even if you are unable to organize an event, that’s alright; you can use your social media networks to help spread the message. If you are a parent, talk to your kids about alcohol. When we bring such subjects into the light, we demystify and take away some of the substance's power to keep people from seeking help.

“Alcohol and drug use is a very risky business for young people,” says Andrew Pucher, President and CEO of NCADD, “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.”


Getting Help

According to the 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), 5.1 million adults ages 18 and older (6.2 percent of this age group) had an alcohol use disorder. This number includes 9.8 million men and 5.3 million women. The vast majority of those people had not been helped then, and it is likely they have not had help since 2015.

If you, or a loved one is struggling with alcohol, please contact Whiteside Manor. We can help you begin the journey of recovery, and teach you how you can live without ever having to pick up a drink or drug again.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Marijuana Use Linked to Heart Failure

As California works out what recreational marijuana use will look like throughout the state, researchers continue to probe the drug and its effects on the human body. The law which Californians voted on, Proposition 64, allows adults over the age of 21 to buy and consume marijuana products. While legalization is generally considered to be a good a thing when compared to the damage caused by prohibition, there is significant evidence that suggests that the drug is not without side-effects. Some of which, could be long term.

Most of the research available that is utilized by legalization opponents, is often linked to adolescent use of the substance. Studies have found convincing evidence that marijuana use in adolescents can lead to cognitive issues, particularly regarding memory. Developing brains are particularly susceptible to the drug's effects. What’s more, young people who use cannabis may be at a greater risk of developing a problem with not only “weed,” but other mind altering substances. Great pains should be taken by both parents and educators to deter teenage use of the drug.

When it comes to adult use, most Americans would probably agree that the substance is relatively harmless. It is a perception that likely arises from comparisons between “pot” and other drugs, e.g. cocaine and opioids. What Americans deduce from such comparisons are not so much as wrong, as they are a precarious line of thinking. And just because a substance is legal does not mean that is inherently safe. Alcohol is legal for people 21+ to imbibe, but more people die from alcohol-related health complications every year, than from any other addictive substance.

So, as California gears up to begin selling marijuana for recreational use in 2018, it is important that citizens of the state are apprised of possible health concerns that could arise from cannabis use. Research has shown that, after accounting for a number of factors, marijuana use was associated with an increased risk of stroke and heart failure, according to a press release from the American College of Cardiology. The link between the drug and heart problems came from an analysis of more than 20 million health records from young and middle-aged patients across the country. The research was presented at the American College of Cardiology's 66th Annual Scientific Session.

Researchers involved in the study had to take into account various considerations before reaching their conclusion. Factors included both demographics and lifestyle choices such as whether a patient drank alcohol or smoked cigarettes, or not. Compared to those patients who didn’t use marijuana, those who engage in use were found to be at a much greater risk of:
  • Heart Failure
  • Coronary Artery Disease
  • Stroke
  • Sudden Cardiac Death
"Like all other drugs, whether they're prescribed or not prescribed, we want to know the effects and side effects of this drug," said study lead author, Aditi Kalla, MD, Cardiology Fellow at the Einstein Medical Center in Philadelphia. "It's important for physicians to know these effects so we can better educate patients, such as those who are inquiring about the safety of cannabis or even asking for a prescription for cannabis."

As always, more research is required. The study did not have access to vital information which could further point out who is at the greatest risk. For instance, quantity and regularity of use or how the drug is consumed. Did a patient smoke cannabis or did they ingest it? Even without that information, the current findings are of the utmost importance moving forward.