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Friday, April 13, 2018

NCADD Combats AUD in April

Alcohol use, alcoholism, and alcohol use disorder (AUD) treatment and recovery are on people’s minds throughout April as Americans observe Alcohol Awareness Month. Sponsored by the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD), the expressed goal during this time of the year is to help reduce the stigma associated with addiction.

Since alcohol is a legal substance, it is easy to forget the dangers of alcohol use, especially for young people. The fact that beer, wine, and liquor is for sale in most bodegas, gas stations and grocery stores gives the impression that drinking is relatively harmless. Kids see their parents drink but rarely associate any consequences with the behavior; so, they convince themselves that they too can consume alcohol without experiencing problems.

In most cases, teenage drinking doesn’t develop into a condition down the road. What’s more, it's possible that many young people could escape some of the heartaches of alcohol use if they got the facts early on. Education is a mighty powerful tool when it comes to preventing people from making choices that could irrevocably disrupt the course of one’s life. It is also vital that individuals feel able to discuss their struggles with alcohol without fear of stigma. If a person can’t talk about their addiction, recovery becomes an impossibility.


Alcohol Facts: Did You Know?


  • Excessive drinking is responsible for more than 4,300 deaths among underage youth each year.
  • Alcohol is the most commonly used addictive substance in the United States.
  • More than 1.6 million young people report driving under the influence of alcohol in the past year
  • Young people who begin drinking before age 15 are four times more likely to develop alcohol dependence than those who begin drinking at age 21.
  • Drinking by persons under the age of 21 is linked to 189,000 emergency room visits.
  • The typical American will see 100,000 beer commercials before he or she turns 18.
  • Kids who drink are more likely to be victims of violent crime, to be involved in alcohol-related traffic crashes, and to have serious school-related problems.
  • A supportive family environment is associated with lowered rates of alcohol use for adolescents.
  • Kids who have conversations with their parents and learn a lot about the dangers of alcohol and drug use are 50 percent less likely to use alcohol and drugs than those who don’t have such conversations.
Source: NCADD


Parents Can Help Their Kids Help Themselves

Information about the short and long-term effects of alcohol use might dissuade or delay initiation. It doesn’t do any good to have illusions about alcohol; most people drink at some point in their life; and, in the majority of cases, they do so as responsibly as possible. However, young people often lack the skills to make right decisions, and alcohol makes them even more likely to put their lives at risk, i.e., binge drinking and driving under the influence. Those who binge drink as a teenager are likely to continue into adulthood; the practice, over a period, can lead to dependence and alcohol use disorder.

Parents can take steps to mitigate the risk of their child making destructive decisions. Armed with facts, compassion, and understanding mothers and fathers can protect their children from forming unhealthy relationships with alcohol. The theme of Alcohol Awareness Month this year is “Changing Attitudes: It’s not a ‘rite of passage.’” This month’s events focus on:

“educating people about the treatment and prevention of alcoholism, particularly among our youth, and the important role that parents can play in giving kids a better understanding of the impact that alcohol can have on their lives.”


If you or a loved one is struggling with alcohol, please contact Whiteside Manor. Our experienced staff can help you adopt a new way of living and give you tools for working a program of long-term recovery.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Opioid Use Disorder Public Meeting

opioid use disorder
Opioid use disorder (OUD) is perhaps one the most significant problems of our times, at least here in the United States. With over 2 million people battling with prescription opioid-related addiction and over half a million individuals abusing heroin, the need for greater access to substance use disorder services is monumental. As you can probably imagine, practically every public health agency has made opioid use disorder the focus of their attention.

What better way to address a dangerous problem than to talk to the people that the issue affects the most, individuals living with OUD. With that in mind, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) are teaming up to learn more about patients’ perspectives on OUD during a public meeting on Patient-Focused Drug Development for Opioid Use Disorder (OUD).

The agencies are interested in effects of opioids on patient health and well-being. The FDA and NIDA want to know how opiates have had the most significant impact on daily life and their experience with addiction treatment for OUD. An essential question involves the barriers that people face accessing opioid use disorder treatment.


Your Thoughts on Opioid Addiction

If you are struggling with opioids, or are currently in recovery from OUD, your input could be extremely beneficial to health policy makers and addiction experts. The public meeting will focus on two topics:  

Topic 1: Symptoms and daily impacts that matter most
  1. Of all the ways that OUD negatively affects your health and well-being, which effects have the most significant impact on your daily life? Examples of negative effects may include:
    • Effects of using opioids, such as confusion, constipation, or other symptoms;
    • Effects of opioid withdrawal, such as nausea, diarrhea, or other symptoms;
    • Effects of opioid “cravings;”
    • Impacts on your ability to function in your personal or professional life;
    • Emotional or social effects; and
    • Other potential effects.
  2. How does OUD affect daily life on the best days? On the worst days?
  3. How has your OUD changed over time?
  4. What worries you most about your condition?

Topic 2: Perspectives on current approaches to treatment

  1. Are you currently using, or have you used in the past, any prescription medical treatments to treat your OUD? Such treatments may include buprenorphine, methadone and naltrexone, and others that your healthcare provider has prescribed. If so, please describe your experiences with these treatments.
    • How well have these treatments worked for you? How well have they helped address the effects of OUD that are most bothersome to you?
    • What are the biggest problems you have faced in using these treatments?
    Examples may include bothersome side effects, challenges getting the medicines, concern about stigma, and other possible problems.  
  1. Besides prescription medical treatments, are there other treatments or therapies that you currently use to address your OUD? If so, please describe. How well do these treatments or therapies help address the effects of OUD that are most bothersome to you?
  2. Of all treatments, therapies, or other steps that you have taken to address your OUD, what have you found to be most effective in helping you manage your OUD?
  3. What are the biggest factors that you take into account when making decisions about seeking out or using treatments for OUD?
  4. What specific things would you look for in an ideal treatment for OUD?
If you had the opportunity to consider participating in a clinical trial studying experimental treatments for OUD, what factors would you consider when deciding whether or not to participate?


Public Meeting on Patient-Focused Drug Development for Opioid Use Disorder

When: April 17, 2018, 10:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. (registration begins at 9:00am)  
Where: FDA White Oak Campus 10903 New Hampshire Ave. Building 31, Room 1503A (Great Room) Silver Spring, MD 20993

For more information, registration, and webcast information, please click here.


If you or a loved one is struggling with opioid use disorder, please contact Whiteside Manor. Our experienced staff can help you adopt a new way of living and give you tools for working a program of long-term recovery.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Quitting Smoking for Addiction Recovery

There are a number of things that a person can do to protect their recovery from relapse. Some efforts are apparent, while other methods may not occur to some people when considering relapse prevention tools. Those who have been in the program for a time know that their recovery is contingent upon working a program of spiritual maintenance; included with that is attending meetings, working the steps with a sponsor or mentor, and being of service whenever and wherever possible. Individuals who follow the protocol above have an excellent chance of staying on course.

The program works if you work it, as the saying goes; but we would be remiss if we failed to share with you various to shore up your recovery. It’s vital to remember that even though addiction is a mental illness, physical well-being plays a significant role in matters of the mind. People who eat healthily usually feel better as a result, and when you feel better physically, it is easier to keep one’s mind from drifting astray. What’s more, taking some time throughout the week to exercise can do wonders for your mental health; again, those who take care of their body tend to feel better.

Committing to taking better care of yourself isn’t a small undertaking, our best intentions don’t always lead to establishing healthy routines. You have to dedicate yourself to changing your relationship with food and exercise to experience noticeable benefits. Furthermore, one must go about changing their routine carefully, ensuring that you don't do anything to the extreme. Too much of anything is never good, taking a moderate approach to changing lifestyle attributes is critical.


Beyond The Rooms of Recovery

Eating healthy and exercising is especially beneficial for people in recovery. Years of active addiction takes a severe toll on the body. Over the course of a person’s using tenure poor dietary habits develop that are challenging to break. Making a point to get to the gym is typically not the priority of most addicts and alcoholics. However, just because an individual has a history of unhealthy behaviors doesn’t mean they can't have a health-oriented future. After all, people abstaining from drugs and alcohol have already made a tremendous effort towards living a healthy life. If you adopt a program of recovery, then it’s likely you can incorporate some healthy traditions into your day-to-day life.

One of the echoes of the past that persists in many people's recovery is tobacco. Cigarettes are often the last thing people part ways with on the road to progress. Treatment centers always encourage clients to quit while in treatment, but not everyone manages to accomplish the task before discharge. If you are one of those people, please know that we understand how arduous smoking cessation is for most tobacco users. Although, just because you are still smoking doesn’t mean you can't accomplish the feat of quitting outside of treatment.

A motivating factor for quitting that many people in recovery are unaware of is the risk of relapse that researchers associate with smoking. Yes, people who smoke are significantly more likely to return to their drug of choice (DOC), compared to others who work the program with the same dedication but don’t smoke. If lasting recovery is your goal, then considering axing tobacco from your life is essential. The good news is that you already have tools at your disposal to help you quit, your program of recovery. Remember, everything you did to free yourself from alcohol or any mind-altering substance can also work with cigarettes.


Tapering Off Nicotine for A Stronger Recovery

People with interest in quitting can turn to their doctor for help, too. Medications in tandem with cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) techniques have shown a lot of promise in recent years. Even without drugs like Chantix, patches and gums can be helpful, too. Please note that smoking cessation products are, more time than not, most effective when utilized in conjunction with therapy or working a program like the 12 Steps.

Today, many people have begun relying on e-cigarettes to quit, given that vapers can lower their nicotine dose over time until they are finally free. Scientists are still debating the efficacy of nicotine devices, but reports show that e-cigs have helped many people. Interestingly, the FDA has presented a new tobacco regulation plan calling for lowering the amount of nicotine per gram of tobacco to 0.4 milligrams, The Los Angeles Times reports. Researchers say that the 97 percent decrease in nicotine content could help millions of Americans finally quit. We will see what happens with the FDA’s proposal, but wouldn’t it be ironic if less harmful cigarettes are what leads people to stop? Fighting fire with fire, in a sense!


If you or a loved one is struggling with alcohol or substance use disorder, please contact Whiteside Manor. Our experienced staff can help you adopt a new way of living and give you tools for working a program of long-term recovery.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Overdose Deaths Decline In California

overdose death
Finding a glimmer of hope regarding the American opioid addiction epidemic is no easy task. Most of the headlines barreling around the internet, cable news, and in print deals with the enormous death toll. Other stories focus on stalled initiatives and toothless policies, inflated prices for life-saving drugs, and lawsuit after lawsuit. What’s more, attempting to make sense of the epidemic is difficult; there are so many elements to consider that are relevant to the crisis.

It's hard to determine if progress is made, doing so requires scores of individuals and thousands of hours of research sifting through the data. The effort is made even more difficult by the fact that opioids designate any one of many drugs—prescription painkillers, heroin, and synthetic opiates like fentanyl. Making headway in one area of the scourge may mean deficits in another, as is evident in new data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

New provisional data from the CDC gives some people optimism that at least some of the policies aimed at curbing the epidemic have bore fruit, PBS Newshour reports. In fact, overdose death rates were down during the last 12-month period ending in July 2017, in 14 states. Such figures should be a reason for thinking that the nation is on the right track. However, a closer look at the numbers reveals that any optimism should be cautious, at best.

Opioid Overdose Death Declines

From July 2016 to the same month in 2017, overdose deaths fell in 14 states, including Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Kansas, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Montana, Oregon, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming. It’s likely that changes in prescription opioid prescribing practices lead to the drop in deaths in those states. However, while the report shows promise, other parts of the country saw increases in fatal drug overdoses—potentially stemming from a rise in fentanyl use.

The report reveals that during the same term, there was a more than 70 percent surge nationwide in fentanyl-related deaths, according to the article. There was a more than 30 percent increase in overdose deaths in Delaware, D.C., Florida, New Jersey, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.

“When the epidemic was driven primarily by prescription opioids, we saw a smoldering and chronically escalating problem,” said Alaska’s public health chief, Jay Butler. “Now we’re seeing outbreaks and clusters of death resulting from bad batches of heroin or counterfeit pills laced with fentanyl.” 

Efforts to curb prescription misuse has without a doubt prevented many deaths. Such efforts should continue, and doctors need to utilize opioid-alternatives for pain management. It is worth mentioning that without naloxone, the opioid overdose reversal medication, it’s unlikely that there would have been any decreases at all.

“It’s hard to imagine how high the death toll would be without naloxone,” said Michael Kilkenny, the Cabell-Huntington public health director in West Virginia.

Opioid Use Disorder Treatment

Preventing premature death related to drugs in America is possible through common sense policies. However, the best way to tackle the root of the epidemic, the mental illness known as addiction, is treatment. Recovery is the best way to break the cycle of the disease, when people are not using opioids, the risk of overdose is zero.

At Whiteside Manor, we can help you or a loved one recover from opioid use disorder. We can provide you with tools to live a productive and healthy life in recovery. Please contact us today.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Genetic Links of Mental Illness

mental illness
The brain is complicated in a myriad of ways which complicates researchers' ability to discern why some people are affected by mental illness. There is a significant need to understand mental health conditions better, how they come about and what we can do to treat such conditions like depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder. Addiction is another mental health disorder that has long puzzled experts; why are some people predisposed to struggle with drugs and alcohol?

A correlation exists between substance use disorder and co-occurring mental illness. The connection is apparent in the addiction treatment industry; clients regularly struggle with more than one condition. What’s more, research shows that when co-occurring disorders receive treatment simultaneously, better outcomes are the result. Despite a link being present, science has yet to pinpoint the genetic precursors of mental illness, or why multiple disorders besiege people.

If scientists can determine a constant in people living with mental illness, it may one day lead to methods of prevention and treatment. Some researchers theorize that there must be a marker present in the brains of people beset by conditions of the mind, that isn’t present in "healthy" brains.


A Roadmap for Psychiatric Disorders

A new study appearing the journal Science reveals some intriguing clues about how genes impact one’s mental health, GIZMODO reports. Researchers analyzed data from previous studies which dealt with the genetic makeup in cadaver brains of people with a mental health diagnosis. The findings indicate many similarities in mentally afflicted minds that were not present in “healthy brains.” However, the research presents some exciting results that are not what you might expect.

As was pointed out previously, mental illness often comes in pairs. Patients regularly present with both alcohol and substance use disorder and conditions like depression. Believe it or not, the new analysis showed little overlap between the brains of alcoholics and people with other psychiatric disorders, according to the article. It could mean that depression and alcoholism are not genetically connected after all.

The international research team found similar findings in the brains of depressives, whose patterns of molecular activity didn’t line up with brains affected by other conditions. The study did see a congruent molecular signature in the minds of people with bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, which was surprising considering the two mental diseases have inconsistent symptoms.

“We show that these molecular changes in the brain are connected to underlying genetic causes, but we don’t yet understand the mechanisms by which these genetic factors would lead to these changes,” said senior author Daniel Geschwind, a professor of neurology, psychiatry, and human genetics and director of the UCLA Center for Autism Research and Treatment. “So, although now we have some understanding of causes, and this new work shows the consequences, we now have to understand the mechanisms by which this comes about, so as to develop the ability to change these outcomes.”


Use Disorder Treatment

At Whiteside Manor, we can help you or a loved one break the cycle of addiction and start down the road of recovery. If you are struggling with a co-occurring mental health disorder, we are fully equipped to address both illnesses simultaneously. Please contact us today.