Tag Archives: Impact on Youth

Addict Advocacy-Opioid Crisis

Overall, it seems as if addict advocacy, lobbying their service providers, and for society as a whole has become a zero-sum game.  The opioid crisis thrives.

There are apparently sides to be taken in a battle of “us” versus “them.” There have been and always will be addicts amongst us.

There will always be drug providers (be it at the street level, at the liquor store, the marijuana dispensary, or those who have medical degrees and write prescriptions for pills). There will always be prejudice. Their will always be a lack of sense of community when fear and mistrust is involved. The addicts and their families want to blame the healthcare industry. Society wants to blame the treatment industry. They want to blame anyone but themselves. We want to blame them as being morally inferior and mentally weak.

They have a comprehensive and robust report from the U.S. Surgeon General, unequivocally identifying addiction as a national disease. We have an independent Grand Jury investigation, Sober Homes Task Force Report, and extensive local investigative reporting from a multitude of press outlets, The Palm Beach Post in particular, identifying an overwhelmingly fraudulent industry that seems to have an insatiable appetite for consuming its own class of people.

Maybe we are all wrong, that the march towards decriminalization and deinstitutionalization of the addict has been a social experiment mistake? Maybe addicts need to be isolated from society for their own good? Perhaps the “integration” mandate of the Americans with Disabilities Act really did not take into consideration that the disabled in a wheelchair may really be different in kind than the disabled on heroin?

Maybe we do need to reopen and reexamine the ADA, not to discriminate, but because there now is clearly a different set of facts that requires a different modality of response?

While I subscribe to the inherently American values of individualism and self-responsibility, we must put aside philosophical differences and recognize the clear science that the modern opioid epidemic is a terrorist that hijacks the mind, body and spirit.

Even without the misuse of substances, what is true for all Americans is that greed is the most tolerated yet the most destructive addiction of them all.

We cannot demand that someone do something about “those addicts” but then refuse to offer the necessary funding, resources, infrastructure, housing, and services to care for this population, and we can therefore neither blame the addicts nor the treatment provider. We are the adults in the room. We cannot blame the unsupervised children for playing with matches and burning down the house.

If the disease of addiction is truly a public health crisis, rather than the now debunked theory that it is a moral failing, we seem to be left with only one choice – double our efforts, buckle down, and fix this system once and for all. Not later, not when it is more politically palatable. Now. We no longer have the luxury of time.

Heroin Overdoses

Heroin Overdoses In Florida

We need rehabilitation, education and support to fight this epidemic. It is killing people of all ages and demographics.

It’s not a city or rural problem, or particular type of people problem; addiction does not discriminate.

Please speak out and become part of the solution.

Ending America’s Opioid Addiction Epidemic

Putting politics aside, this is a comprehensive plan that needs bipartisan support. If you agree then contact your representatives on all levels and ask for their help. We can help end America’s quiet opioid addiction epidemic.

Governor Peter Shumlin began his remarks at the New Hampshire Roundtable on Addiction and the Heroin Epidemic by describing a phone call from Hillary Clinton a few months ago. According to Shumlin,“I figure it’s gonna be another politician talkin’ about how great they are.” But Clinton surprised him: “When I go to New Hampshire, when I go to Iowa, something strange has happened…” Clinton was told story after story about the “quiet epidemic” that had not even been on the table when she last ventured out as a candidate. She heard from families who were unable to help their loved ones and law enforcement officials who knew they couldn’t arrest their way out of the problem, so Clinton “resolved to do something about it.” She called the right person: Gov. Shumlin has been working to reframe the public debate around addiction for years. For the past two years he has dedicated his State of the State Message entirely to the topic of the heroin crisis in Vermont. Under his guidance, the state has implemented programs to address the complexity of addiction that have been imitated by states across the nation. Shumlin was struck by Clinton’s humility and patience, “She did what a lot of politicians aren’t very good at–she listened. For a second I thought she’d hung up.”

Clinton placed Shumlin’s advice amongst the advice of many others, and four weeks later “out came a policy” that the Governor believes, “if implemented, will give us the help from the federal government that we need to finally take this battle on and treat it as a disease and not a crime.” The plan would allocate 10 billion dollars to tackling America’s deadly epidemic of drug and alcohol addiction, and would address the following five points: Criminal Justice Reform, Treatment and Recovery, First Responders, Prescribers, Prevention.

In a statement about the indiscriminate reach of the epidemic, Clinton wrote: “Substance use disorders are a problem that touches Americans everywhere, from our biggest cities to our smallest towns, and from our richest enclaves to our poorest neighborhoods.”

I. Criminal Justice Reform

Governor Shumlin has visited treatment centers, jails, and detoxes all over Vermont to speak with those who have been impacted by the epidemic: “there are stories that make you want to sit down and cry,” he said. When he asked what kind of response was needed, “they told me that we were doing almost everything wrong.” Like most criminal justice systems across the nation, Vermont’s was slow and ineffective, especially when it came to dealing with drug-related crimes. Vermont has worked to try and turn the moment of arrest from a tragedy into an opportunity: “when your busted, when you’ve bottomed out, when the blue lights are flashing–that’s the most likely chance that we have to move someone from denial into treatment.”

Third party assessors are stationed in every county in the state and when someone is arrested, these experts determine whether the person needs treatment by asking: “is this someone that will hurt you or is this person more likely to hurt themselves?” Today, people who would have been arrested are told that if they participate in the “Hub/Spoke” treatment initiative with the wrap around services: “we’ll stick with you. You’ll never see a judge, you’ll never see a criminal record, you’ll never see a court.” And it’s working on all fronts, “they’ve got hope, they’ve got a job, they’ve got life and they’re getting back with their families.” Vermont has saved 50 million dollars since implementing the prison diversion program.

Clinton intends to “end the era of mass incarceration” by prioritizing treatment over incarceration for low-level, nonviolent drug offenses. In order for this to happen, greater collaboration and coordination must be fostered between public health and criminal justice institutions “to ensure continuity of care for those who suffer from substance use disorders.”

II. Treatment & Recovery

Gov. Shumlin introduced the second point of Clinton’s plan by talking about when his father, who is now deceased, was first diagnosed with lung cancer: “Why is it that when my dad is diagnosed with a cancer that’s created from behavior that we all know isn’t very smart—smoking—that we say ‘we will do everything we can to keep you on this earth as long as we can and you will not stand in line,’ but if you’re addicted to opiates, we say ‘get in line, we might serve you sometime—usually sometime later.”

Clinton’s plan involves building out more treatment centers, matching participating states 20/80 in federal funds, abolishing lengthy wait-lists and ultimately treating addiction like any other disease, “stop the discrimination—line up.”

Clinton’s plan makes sure that “everyone who needs support has access to continuing treatment.” This emphasis on continuity is key due to the fact that many treatment methods are too short-lived to be effective.

III. First Responders

Clinton’s plan ensures that states have adequate funding to get and dispense life-saving tools such as naloxone to anyone who wants it and that first responders are trained in proper practices.

IV. Prescribers

Clinton’s plan ensures that licensed prescribers meet training requirements and consult a prescription drug-monitoring program before writing a prescription for controlled medications. “Let’s make sure that we enhance the database so that we stop pill shopping across borders,” said Shumlin, “and doctor abuse, where folks can go in and line up this stuff, FDA approved Oxycodone and the rest, put it in their pockets, and keep getting more of it, with no questions asked.”

V. Prevention

“Let’s change the attitude about the disease. Let’s get rid of the stigma.” Clinton’s plan defines Substance Use Disorders as chronic diseases and insists that they be treated as such. Clinton emphasizes the importance of empowering communities to design their own “evidence-based programs tailored to their communities.” Such programs would focus on engaging adolescents through education and early intervention programs.

Reel Recovery Film Festival Fort Lauderdale

5th Annual REEL Recovery Film Festival ~
Ft. Lauderdale, Florida Edition 2016

GATEWAY CINEMA

Presented by Writers In Treatment
and InTheRooms Foundation

November 4-6, 2016

 ——————————————————————————

Ft. Lauderdale Edition – Sponsorship Opportunities

CONTACT MARC J DUNN FOR MORE INFO

breaking-the-changes

Movies are a reflection of our daily lives. The REEL Recovery Film Festival –
South Florida is an opportunity for participants to view new and classic films that focus on addiction and recovery
and to discuss these exciting and provocative films from your “experienced” point of view.

This event is an ideal opportunity for treatment providers and businesses that support recovery
to market their programs and services. Being a sponsor of the REEL Recovery Film Festival is an ideal way
to promote your commitment to the recovery movement.

 

College Drinking

By Alta Mira

You started drinking in high school: sneaking beers with friends, raiding your parent’s liquor cabinet, attending (and hosting) well-stocked house parties. By the time you were a senior, you were drinking almost every weekend. You couldn’t wait to get to college and join the Greek life. And this was when the parties really started–every weekend there was some occasion to have a few beers with your brothers or sisters. Eventually you surrounded yourself with a group of like-minded partiers who were on an endless search for the next big binge. Almost anything became a reason to party: first day of classes, holidays, end of exams, obscure president birthdays, sun, snow, or rain. It was a drinking life for you, but you didn’t see a problem with that. You assumed it was just part of the lifestyle, and that it wouldn’t affect you after college. Unfortunately, it wasn’t a temporary thing. For some students, it was a college fad, but for you, it was the opening up of your latent addictive tendencies. Those college days of drinking have stayed with you–and now it’s time to acknowledge your addiction, and seek help for your alcoholism.
It seems obvious that students in Greek societies drink more–and there is ample research backing that up. But just how much more? A recent study showed that between their freshman and senior years, Greek students increased their number of drinks per week from five to eight–compared to an increase from two to three for non-Greek students. So not only are these students drinking over twice as much as non-Greek students, but they’re also increasing their intake more rapidly. This is always dangerous, but for some, it increases the chance of addiction. It opens someone up to a lifestyle that sticks with them. If this growth isn’t curtailed by graduation, where might it lead?
Nowhere good. With the increase in drinking comes a potential increase in negative outcomes.
We’ve all heard about the promising athlete who lost his scholarship due either to underage drinking, illegal activities performed while under the influence, or some freak accident that happened while drunk. And these are only the cases you hear about in the local paper. The effects touch far more students, and research paints a stark picture. Each year in the United States:
◦ Close to 700,000 students are assaulted by another student who has drunk.
◦ Over 97,000 students are victims of alcohol-related sexual assault or date rape.
◦ Close to 600,000 students suffer alcohol-related injuries.
◦ About 25 percent of students experience academic problems due to their drinking.
◦ 150,000 students develop alcohol-related health problems, and between 1.2 and 1.5 percent try to commit suicide.
◦ Almost 5 million students drive drunk, putting themselves and others at risk.
The saddest statistic of all: each year about 1,825 students will die from alcohol-related injuries.
You were one of the 150,000 students who developed an alcohol-related health problem while at college, and your drinking problem has followed you into the present day.
After college, you expected your drinking would slow down–after all, most Greek students are able to cut down their drinking after graduation. However, for you, Greek society was the catalyst for a lifelong addiction. You have realized that drinking has become a part of you, a part you can’t easily leave behind.
So maybe your drinks over lunch to discuss the latest ad campaign turned into two-hour liquid lunches. After-work drinks might have become an almost daily occurrence. Your weekends were a haze of bingeing. Alcohol might have been your escape from a hectic day–until one day, when it went too far. This was the moment when you realized you need help.
Seeking treatment seems like a daunting task. It is. Life or Death.

Stigma

By David L. Rosenbloom, Ph. D.
Stigma is one of the meanest and most difficult aspects of addiction because it makes it harder for people and families to deal with their problems and get the help they need. Society imposes stigma – and its damage – on addicts and their families because many of us still believe that addiction is a character flaw or weakness that probably can’t be cured. The stigma against people with addictions is so deeply rooted that it continues even in the face of the scientific evidence that addiction is a treatable disease and even when we know people in our families and communities living wonderful lives in long-term recovery.
Stigma is the reason there is so much social and legal discrimination against people with addictions. It explains why addicts and their families hide the disease. Discrimination always hurts stigmatized groups because they are excluded from the rules that apply to “normal” people. So insurance companies get away with refusing to pay for alcohol or drug treatment, or with charging higher deductibles and co-pays than for treating any other disease. People who need the help are often afraid to speak up. State and federal agencies feel safe in denying food stamps and baby formula to mothers who have past drug convictions because mothers who used drugs have few supporters in the political system and face lots of people who think they must be “bad mothers.” Though studies have found that helping employees to recover is more cost-effective than termination, some employers believe that firing an employee with a drinking problem is a lot easier than providing rehabilitation. A firestorm of protest would erupt if employers treated workers with cancer or heart disease the same way.
People who are victims of stigma internalize the hate it carries, transforming it to shame and hiding from its effects. Too often, people with alcohol and drug problems and their families begin to accept the ideas that addiction is their own fault and that maybe they are too weak to do anything about it. In many ways, hiding an addiction problem is the rational thing to do because seeking help can mean losing a job and medical insurance, or even losing your child when a social service agency declares you an unfit parent because you have an alcohol or drug problem.
The stress of hiding often causes other medical and social problems for the individuals and their families. This is especially true when an adolescent has an alcohol or drug problem. Fear often prompts kids to hide the problem from parents. Then, when parents find out, stigma makes them feel guilty and somehow negligent. Illness and family dysfunction explode. When that happens, parents find it even harder to fight for the care and resources their child urgently needs from a social and medical system that blames the family and the child.
FIVE THINGS YOU CAN DO TO FIGHT STIGMA

We may not change overnight the way society feels about people with alcohol and drug problems, but we can end the legal discrimination caused by stigma
1. Demand equal medical insurance coverage for alcohol and drug treatment.
2. Tell your elected representatives to stop punishing babies for the past problems of their mothers.
3. Tell your state lawmakers to remove the legal barriers that prevent people recovering from addictions from getting jobs.
4. Give more than lip service to the reality that addiction is a disease, not a character weakness.
5. Be an advocate for an individual or family with an addiction problem.

Music Aids Healing and Recovery

http://coupondipity.com/2015/05/05/music-aids-healing-and-recovery/

What a lot of you don’t know about me is that I have a master’s degree in music. Through my studies, I had to do a lot of research on various ways that music promotes learning, healing and even recovery. The statistics are astounding. Music can be as powerful as modern medicine.
Think about it – music has been around as long as the human race. It is powerful. It is personal. It is physical. You, yourself, have a favorite song. There’s the one that always makes you smile. The one that brings tears to your eyes. The one that helps you recall a special time or event in your life. Music is powerful!!!
Let’s talk for a second about how music affects us physically. As a college student, I was asked to do some sort of experiment along these lines. Admittedly it was not scientific, but it was enlightening. I had several other students measure their resting pulse rates. We then played some fast, upbeat music and measured again. Pulse rates went up. We played some slower-tempo music and pulse rates went down. As non-scientific as it was, it proved to us that music had an effect on our bodies. Studies have shown that music can even decrease blood pressure!
So what does all of this have to do with Recovery Unplugged? Everything, as it turns out. Music can be a valuable tool to help people who are struggling with alcohol or drug abuse. I asked some friends who have either personally experienced addiction or have had family members experience addiction if music aided in recovery. Every single one answered with a resounding yes. One close family member admitted her struggle with alcoholism back in the 70s. I never knew that she had a problem. She said, “The music that helped was the Eagles. There were several like ‘Lying Eyes’. They wouldn’t let us listen to spiritual music or even a pastor to come see us it because they felt it would be too confusing for us. Music helped save me.”
Another said that the song that helped his recovery was the theme from Rocky. And another adopted the anthem ‘Hit Me With Your Best Shot’.
Although music alone is unlikely to help someone recover from addiction, it can certainly be an effective tool. How?
1. When people are newly sober, they experience many different emotions. Creating music can actually give them an outlet to express some of these volatile feelings.
2. One reason why many people relapse is because they have a difficult time managing stress. Listening to or creating music can be a way to manage stress levels.
3. Boredom can be another relapse trigger. Listening to favorite music can help to prevent boredom.
4. People who are newly sober often experience loneliness. After all, they have broken away from their circle of friends. Even their drug of choice was a “friend”. Listening to music may help to combat this feeling of loneliness.
5. Many people, when going through recovery, experience mental ‘fuzziness’. Music can help to improve focus and concentration.

Letter From You To Your Addiction

Dear __________(his name),
You may be feeling better, but I am out here doing push-ups, getting stronger, smarter, and hiding in your shadow. I miss that warm, fuzzy feeling I would get when you would turn to me in times of despair. I won’t let you get rid of me so easily. We were together for years and suddenly you think you can let go? Nothing was your fault, my friend! It was the cop’s fault for pulling you over. It’s your family’s fault for never understanding what was going on in your head. It was your friends’ fault that they couldn’t accept you for who you are. I am a part of you and will never stop trying to be your beloved again. I enjoyed when you would listen to my every command, acting without hesitation. Why not steal that money from your parents? You are entitled to it. Why not expect others to change the way they live? You are perfectly fine the way you are. Who needs an education with your level of intelligence? I hope you will come back to me soon enough and snap out of this. I will be waiting for you, right by your side, for the rest of your life.
Yours truly,
Addiction

Running Into Clarity

By William Pullen
http://dynamicrunningtherapy.co.uk/running-clarity/

Recently The BBC news website ran a piece based on an article in Neurology magazine about how “running may keep thinking skills”. I’ve included it below as I think it illustrates another benefit of exercise. Although the research concerns younger people I believe the benefits of movement whether it be walking, tai chi, or running, are available to everyone. I need to include my usual addendum that DRT is not about getting fit nor about colluding in fantasies of perfection. Instead DRT aims to promote what Dr Jacobs refers to below as “total fitness” which incorporates social, physical and mental aspects of health. And for those that just want to talk/walk/sit and not run it’s very much there for you too. DRT is talk therapy first. By doing that in outside spaces with “mother nature” we already begin to break up rigid thinking.
As mentioned before, we don’t aim for perfection so “total fitness” is a concept we hold lightly for those who subscribe to a more holistic understanding of health. Sometimes, for some people, it’s better to just sit down on a park bench. For others, the info is below:
• Aerobic exercise in your 20s may protect the brain in middle age, according to a US study.
• Activities that support cardio fitness – such as running, swimming and cycling – led to better thinking skills and memory 20 years on.
• Scientists say the research, reported in Neurology, adds to evidence the brain benefits from good heart health.
• Cardio fitness is a measure of how well the body absorbs oxygen during exercise and transports it to the muscles.
• Researchers at the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, tested almost 3,000 healthy people with an average age of 25.
“This is one more important study that should remind young adults of the brain health benefits of cardio fitness activities such as running, swimming, biking or cardio fitness classes” They underwent treadmill tests of cardiovascular fitness during the first year of the study and again 20 years later. They were asked to run for as long as possible before they became exhausted or short of breath.
Cognitive tests taken 25 years after the start of the study measured memory and thinking skills. People who ran for longer on the treadmill performed better at tests of memory and thinking skills 25 years on, even after adjusting for factors such as smoking, diabetes and high cholesterol.
People who had smaller time differences in their treadmill test 20 years later were more likely to do better on the executive function test than those who had bigger differences. “Many studies show the benefits to the brain of good heart health,” said study author Dr David Jacobs.
“This is one more important study that should remind young adults of the brain health benefits of cardio fitness activities such as running, swimming, biking or cardio fitness classes.” Dr. Jacobs said a concept was emerging of total fitness, incorporating social, physical and mental aspects of health. “It’s really a total package of how your body is and the linkage of that entire package of performance – that’s related to cognitive function many years later and in mid-life,” he told BBC News.
Dr Simon Ridley, Head of Research at Alzheimer’s Research UK, said: “A growing body of evidence suggests exercise may cut the risk of cognitive decline and dementia, and much research has shown a link between healthy habits in mid-life and better health in old age.

A Recovery Coach Answers Critical Questions

We see so much about addiction in the media and on TV, but many people have a lot of questions about sobriety, what it means and how it will change their lives. Here some answers anyone ready for a change needs to know.

What Is The Point of Sobriety?

Survival. It is a medical fact that long-term alcoholism will result in a shorter more painful life, not just for the abuser but also for those closest to him/her. The point of sobriety is ‘life over death’. Addiction is a chronic progressive disease that, if untreated, will end in death.

What Is Sobriety?

Sobriety is described as the absence of mood altering substances: alcohol, narcotic drugs, pot, non-prescribed pain killers, etc.

What Is The Difference Between Sobriety And Recovery?

We can achieve sobriety by self-willed abstinence. In abstinence we may be successful for short periods of time or indefinitely. The easier and undisciplined way, which is abstinence only, affords a less stressful lack of commitment. It does not involve much self-awareness or inner change.

Recovery is a planned change of lifestyle designed not only to prolong life, but also make it more joyous and free. If the point of sobriety is recovery; then we can have a quality of life with more enjoyment, better relationships, less expectations, more acceptance and tolerance

Questions To Answer When Making A Recovery Plan

We need to know some basic facts before working with a client as a Recovery Coach, the same facts suggested by The Bridge, a publication of the Addiction Treatment Technology Centers. These facts should be used to learn a plan, which the client will write him/herself based on what they have revealed about themselves and other facts of their lifestyle the RC must learn from them:

  1. Full substance abuse history as well as current use
  2. Age, gender, marital status, partner status (sexual activity) and educational status
  3. Occupation & Financial Status
  4. Culture & Ethnicity
  5. Medical, Psychiatric, Psychology and treatment history
  6. Self knowledge of substance abuse
  7. Readiness and Motivation
  8. Spiritual or Religious beliefs and activity
  9. Personal-finances, job, housing, family, support

Are There Alternatives to 12-Step Programs?

Yes. Some people are not comfortable in the beginning of their recovery journey with the 12-step approach, but may come to it later in recovery. Those who dislike the AA approach are especially vulnerable to relapse, as there may be no other place to go for ongoing support. But alternatives do exist and include the following:

• Self-Management and Recovery Training (SMART)
• A women’s group called WFS
• SOS a self-help program that does not include spirituality
• Life Ring
• Moderation Management

There are many ways to change your life, but certain basic skills and patterns of behavior need be learned for any of them to be successful. Most addicts don’t have those skills, or have not used them in so long that they need someone like a Recovery Coach, especially if they don’t go to AA meetings, to get them back on track.
See Spotlight on Marc Dunn and find him at www.marcjdunn.com