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Tuesday, January 17, 2017

People With Mental Illness Want to Quit Smoking

mental health disorders
Only 15 percent of American adults smoke cigarettes, quite a drop from not that long ago. Cigarettes are both addictive and a leading cause of preventable death. While adult smoking rates are at relatively low rates among the general public, the same cannot be said for people with mental health disorders. As many as 57 percent of people living with serious mental illness smoke cigarettes, according to PsychCentral. Highlighting the need for psychiatrists and caseworkers to help people with mental health disorders quit smoking.

A new study found that a large number of psychiatric patients would like to be free from cigarettes, the article reports. However, researchers found that mental health caseworkers don’t prescribe smoking cessation drugs or refer patients to outside resources that could help with quitting.

“Patients with serious mental illness die an average of 25 years younger than people who don’t have these problems, and smoking is a big factor,” said study first-author, Li-Shiun Chen, M.D., an assistant professor of psychiatry at Washington University School of Medicine and BJC Behavioral Health in St. Louis. “Smoking is a common and serious problem for our patients, and although smoking rates have been decreasing in the general population, the rates remain very high in this vulnerable population.”

The researchers surveyed 213 psychiatric patients, of which 82 percent expressed interest in smoking cessation, according to the report. However, only 13 percent were receiving treatment at the time. The lack of encouragement from providers to quit may be the result of a long held belief that mental health patients have "bigger fish to fry" than cigarettes. Yet, new research indicates that quitting smoking can help mitigate the symptoms of mental illness. And for recovering addicts who smoke, quitting can reduce their risk of relapse.

A large population of people in recovery have co-occurring mental health disorders, such as depression or bipolar disorder. If quitting smoking can reduce the recurrence of symptoms and reduce the risk of relapse, mental health care providers could do a lot of good by encouraging smoking cessation, prescribing drugs like Chantix and refer patients to outside services.

“We want the psychiatrists and caseworkers to know whether their patients have expressed a wish to stop smoking so that they can refer them to counseling or provide them with prescriptions for nicotine lozenges, patches, or other medications that may help these patients quit smoking. We think those fairly simple changes really could pay off in a big way.”

The research was published in the Community Mental Health Journal.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Mysterious Cannabis-Related Illness

It is of the utmost importance to have marijuana research continue, considering the new additions to the list for states that now allow adults to use cannabis for recreation. California was one such state that legalized recreational marijuana last November, 20 years after becoming the first medical marijuana friendly state in the country. And it is likely that more Californians will begin using the drug, and in some cases people with a history of pot use may begin using the drug more frequently.

It is fair to say that the biggest marijuana health-related concerns are towards teenage and young adult use, considering that their brains are still developing. However, while adults may not be concerned about the drug negatively affecting their health (setting addiction aside for the moment), a bizarre illness related to cannabis use is being seen more often in states with a relaxed stance on the drug.

In recent years, an increasing number of people living in marijuana-friendly states have been seen in emergency departments complaining of severe abdominal pain and vomiting, The Huffington Post reports. At first, the condition was rather mysterious, with no clear explanation; but when some patients reported having found relief from the symptoms by taking hot showers, it gave doctors a clue. The condition is known as cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome, or CHS for short.

ER cases involving CHS have nearly doubled at two hospitals in Colorado since 2009, according to a new study. CHS cases have continued to increase since Colorado legalized the drug for adult recreational use in 2012. As you can probably imagine, it is an alarming trend being witnessed in other parts of the country, as well. While the cause of cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome is not fully understood, the researchers have some theories:

“The science behind it is not clear,” Heard told the Denver Channel. “The most likely cause is that people using marijuana frequently and in high doses have changes in the receptors in their body, and those receptors become dysregulated in some way, and it starts causing pain.”

Many adults living in California may think that, because the drug is now legal, it is completely safe. That may be the case for some people, but this new research shows that there is a population that may be acutely affected by the drug. What’s more, the drug has been found to be habit forming and can lead to abuse. If you are struggling with cannabis, please contact Whiteside Manor for help.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

NAS Impacts Rural America

Opioid abuse is affecting the lives of millions of Americans, and in many cases those people reside in rural America. One of the reasons rural Americans have arguably been impacted the most is the fact that addiction treatment services are limited in these parts of the country. Without access to help, people will continue to toil in their addiction indefinitely—potentially overdosing before they ever find help.

The lack of treatment centers in rural America means that some people who need help the most will go without. Some of those people have more than just their own health to worry about, particularly pregnant women. If you know anything about opioid addiction, it is likely that you are aware that addicts who run out of drugs are susceptible to withdrawal symptoms. The same holds true for babies exposed to opioids in utero, who are severed from the drugs the moment the umbilical cord is cut.

Babies whose mothers used opioids throughout the pregnancy are often born with a condition known as neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS). There is a long list of symptoms that accompany the syndrome, the most serious of which include:
  • Tremors
  • Irritability (excessive crying)
  • Sleep problems
  • Seizures
Without close supervision, NAS can be deadly. It is vital that everything is done to provide treatment and recovery services to pregnant women with opioid use disorder. The problem is staggering in rural America, new research shows that the rate of NAS increased from 1.2 cases per 1,000 hospital births in 2004 to 7.5 cases per 1,000 births by 2013, Reuters reports. The study, published in JAMA, showed that cases of NAS in rural counties increased from 13 percent to 21 percent over the course of the research period.

“Prior to our study, we had limited data from a few states like West Virginia and Tennessee that showed rising rates of neonatal abstinence syndrome in some rural counties,” Villapiano said by email. “What we didn’t know was how the opioid crisis has affected rural moms and their infants across the country.”

If you are expecting a child and are addicted to opioids, please contact Whiteside Manor. Our female women’s drug rehab program appreciates that females with substance abuse disorders have unique rehabilitation needs and circumstances, including safety, security and pregnancy.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Addiction Treatment Covered By Cures Act

In this day and age, it seems a rare occasion when the White House Administration and Congress agree on something. But, when it does happen some good can come out of it. In the United States the push to de-stigmatize addiction and provide access to substance use disorder treatment services has become a top priority in the wake of the American opioid epidemic. With over 2 million people battling opioid use disorder, such efforts are of the utmost importance. Naturally, accomplishing such a goal is the farthest thing from an easy task.

Regardless of which side of the aisle one’s political sympathies lay, addiction has the power to wreak havoc. Which is why it is vital that lawmakers work together to create bipartisan solutions for the crisis. Greater access to addiction treatment is, and should be, the weapon of choice against the opioid epidemic. Yet, providing the necessary support requires billions of dollars in funding, something that has proved difficult to garner. It turns out that funding may be found in a comprehensive health bill that was approved in U, S House of Representatives this week.

The 21st Century Cures Act aims to strengthen existing mental health parity laws, ensuring that coverage providers treat mental illness the same way they would any other health condition, USA Today reports. What’s more, the bill calls for $1 billion in funding for addiction treatment and prevention over the next two-years. The White House supports the Cures Act, stating:

“The resources included in the bill will allow states to expand access to treatment to help individuals seeking help to find it and to start the road to recovery, with preference given to states with an incidence or prevalence of opioid use disorders that is substantially higher relative to other states.”

The Cures Act, which will now move on to the Senate for approval, may end up picking up the slack of the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act of 2016 (CARA). If you have been following the news, you may be aware that while CARA was written to specifically address the American opioid epidemic, it was severely underfunded to ensure that it met its goals. With the addition of the Cures Act, funding a widespread expansion in addiction treatment may be possible.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Stress and Heavy Drinking

At the end of a stressful day, many adults will imbibe to blow off some steam. It is a practice that millions of Americans engage in every day. Did you ever wonder why people turn to alcohol to cope with stress? Sure alcohol may cause euphoria which does in fact take your mind off of your problems, but there is more at play than meets the eye. There are other mechanisms operating that explain why people who are stressed tend to drink more, a coping mechanism that can be both habit forming and harmful to one's health.

Research has shown that stress weakens the alcohol-induced dopamine response in rats, ScienceDaily reports. Researchers at the department of Neuroscience in the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania observed that rodents exposed to stress voluntarily drank more alcohol compared to controls. The research team, led by John Dani, PhD, believe that the findings could lead to a better understanding of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and more effective treatments.

Stress alters neural circuitry, “addictive drugs use those mechanisms and trick our brains to keep us coming back for more," said Dani. When the rodents exposed to stress were given a chemical called CLP290, it corrected the stress-altered circuitry, it stopped stress from causing increased drinking behavior.

People with PTSD are far more likely to use drugs and alcohol, than those who are not afflicted. The symptoms of the disorder can be severe, and mind altering substances can mitigate such symptoms for a time. However, in the long run, one needs more and more of a drug or drink to cope, both leading to addiction and worsened PTSD symptoms. Blocking the effect that stress has on the circuitry of the brain's reward system, could have a huge impact.

"This line of research has implications for people with PTSD who have an increased risk for over-use of alcohol and drugs," Dani said.

The research was published in Neuron.