Thursday, October 30, 2014

Triple Whammy: Anxiety, Benzos, and Opiates

Xanax and Valium, prescribed to treat anxiety, mood disorders and insomnia, can be deadly when mixed with other sedatives.

Triple Whammy: Anxiety, Benzos, and Opiates

by Gabriella Pinto-Coelho

It’s no secret that mental health issues increase your risk of substance abuse. In fact, estimates indicate that individuals diagnosed with mood or anxiety disorders are twice as likely as the general population to suffer from a substance abuse disorder! 

Statistics from the 2012 National Survey on Drug Use and Health showed that almost 8.4 million American adults have both a mental and substance use disorder. Unfortunately, only 7.9% receive treatment for both conditions and the vast majority (53.7%) do not receive any treatment at all. The case is even grimmer for those with more severe mental illnesses like schizophrenia and bipolar disorder (see NIDA Report for more).

This predisposition toward addiction puts individuals with mental health issues in a risky place when it comes to medications. A class of medications called benzodiazepines, commonly referred to as “benzos,” have been used since the 1950's and 60's to treat anxiety, mood disorders, and insomnia. 

While there are patients that safely manage mental illness with the help of these medications, there are also considerable risks. For one, benzo users often mix these drugs with opioids with potentially deadly consequences. Both benzos and opioids are sedatives that slow respiration - as a doctor interviewed by NPR has said, “they potentiate each other — they make each other stronger. And so one plus one doesn't equal two; it equals three or four." 

Data from the CDC show that the mixing of benzos and opioids contributes to 30% of all opioid related deaths. Phillip Seymour Hoffman’s untimely death in February 2014 was attributed to a mixing of benzos and other drugs.

This leaves people suffering with mental illness and substance abuse in a precarious position. A dependence on benzos often begins as the search to manage life-limiting anxiety or other mood disorders, and somewhere along the way opioids come into the mix.

 It is easy to see how things can quickly spiral out of control! Despite these startling facts and figures, there is always hope. Benzos are not the only option for treating anxiety and mood disorders. And, just as there are treatment options to overcome mood disorders, there are treatment options to overcome addiction.


Read more from NPR about benzos and opioids here: Risks of Popular Anxiety Drugs.....

If you or someone you love is in need of a detox off of opiates, benzos, Methadone, or Suboxone, please do not hesitate to call Jennifer Pius or Amy Stewart at 1-877-773-3869 to learn more about our treatment offerings.
Help, Hope and Healing Starts Here

Friday, September 19, 2014

Drug Court Brings Recovery to Many

By
Peter R. Coleman, M.D.
On a recent weekend trip, I had the pleasure of speaking at a Lawyers Helping Lawyers Conference. It didn’t hurt that the conference was held in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, which were spectacularly gorgeous. One of the other speakers was Judge Hammond who was instrumental in setting up the Henrico County Drug Court. This year the program is celebrating its 10 year anniversary and in that time the Henrico Drug Court has helped hundreds of people find recovery and stay in recovery! 
She gave a very informative talk on how it works. It is a very comprehensive program. Essentially, people who have a drug or alcohol problem, and who have broken their parole or probation are given a choice of going to jail or joining drug court. In drug court, they have to attend court weekly, attend therapy, attend support groups, get a job, and behave in other ways that are consistent with long- term sobriety. They have to face the judge every week. Any failure, including drug use, non-attendance, or other violations are immediately dealt with. Frequently people stay a weekend in jail. They usually get the message. The program works well because the rules are clear and the punishments are immediate.
In our world, good behavior is frequently motivated by carrots and sticks. If we go to work, we get a paycheck. If we punch a co-worker, we lose our job. In treatment programs, we have known for a long time that carrots and sticks work very well to help motivate people to stay clean and sober – especially in the early days of recovery when the temptation to relapse is so high. Frequently, in the early days, the motivation comes from outside (a spouse, a job, a judge), but over time the motivation starts to come from within. With time and practice, people stay clean and sober because they actually like being clean and sober. They like the new them – and they feel good about themselves. Drug courts can clearly provide that extra motivation in the early stages of recovery.   
If you or someone you love is in need of detox off of alcohol, opiates, benzos, Methadone, or Suboxone, please do not hesitate to call Jennifer Pius or Amy Stewart at 1-877-773-3869.  We are here for you!  

Monday, September 15, 2014

10% of Americans Admit to Illicit Drug Use


By
Chris Newcomb, M.Div

September is National Recovery Month all around the nation as the message of sobriety and recovery is being promoted to encourage those who are clean to stay clean and those who are not yet in recovery to consider doing so.  The truth is that drug use and abuse is alive and well today.  This is unfortunate but there is hope!

First, before we can look at hope, we have to look at reality.  A recent report shows that ten percent of Americans ages 12 and older admitted using illicit drugs in 2013. These statistics must change!

In addition, there is growing evidence of the connection between substance abuse and mental health issues.  To be clear, this doesn't mean that every one who suffers from depression also suffers from drug abuse.  Likewise, someone using heroin doesn't necessarily suffer from depression.  Each person is unique and should be treated as such.  However, there is a strong trend of people struggling with both issues. This is called 'co-occurring' disorders.  

Let's not forget hope!  Every day thousands of people are getting help and getting sober for the first time.  Millions who are in recovery are choosing each moment to stay clean and sober.  "As we celebrate the 25th anniversary of National Recovery Month our nation can be proud of the strides made in successfully promoting the power of recovery from mental and substance use disorders," SAMHSA Administrator Pamela Hyde said in a government news release. "People in recovery deserve an official voice at all levels of government," Michael Botticelli, acting director of National Drug Control Policy, said in the news release. "We must continue to use that voice to share our triumphs and our challenges, and show the world that millions of us are leading happy, healthy, productive lives in long-term recovery. Each recovery story we tell chips away at the misconceptions that keep someone struggling with an addictive disorder from asking for help," he added.

To learn more, you can read continue reading here...

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

America's Heroin Epidemic






By
Chris Newcomb, M.Div.


Heroin used to be a drug that was associated with dark places in the bad parts of town.  It was never something that was considered a real possibility to use by 'respectable' people wanting to have a little fun.  In fact, growing up in the late '70's and 80's, it was understood that heroin was a line you just didn't cross.  It was anathema.  It was the enemy.  Poison.  Lethal.  Not anymore.

Viewpoints have shifted towards heroin because of it's lower street cost and perceived 'chic' party drug status.  Due to the growing cost of prescription pills on the street, people feel like they would do better financially if they use heroin.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  Heroin kills people dead.  Believe it.  It's a fact.  

Please take a moment to educate yourself about this growing epidemic that crosses all boundaries regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, nationality, sexual orientation, educational level, or economic station in life.  Pass it on to anyone you think would benefit from it.  You can read more here!


Tuesday, September 2, 2014

To Our Health

By
Peter R. Coleman, M.D. 

We are about to enter the 9th month 2014.  How are your health goals coming so far this year?  Did you make a New Year's promise to get in better shape, eat right, get more rest?  If you did, how are you doing with that resolution?  Still strong?  Fading fast?  Quit after January 2nd?

In my line of work, health is of the utmost importance.  However, I think people don't always put their health first in their lives.  Without our health, we have nothing.  So, as you read the newsletter this month, take a few moments for your health's sake and see what you need to change for the better.  

To that end, we are always seeking to share our services to as many as we can so more people will get free of this dreadful disease.  I am always grateful when an opportunity arises to tell more people about the disease of addiction and the hope of sobriety and recovery.  We received a nice surprise earlier this summer when Our Health: The Resource for Healthy Living in Greater Richmond Magazine contacted us, asking to interview me as well as requesting an interview with one of our detox patients who is now 10 months clean and actively participating in Recovery - U which is our innovative, online, educational, IOP 'university' I created about 2 years ago.  In addition, this great publication was also interested in highlighting my new non-profit initiative called IWINS (a.k.a. I Wish I Never Started).  The reason they contacted us is September is National Recovery Month and they wanted to do a feature article to help promote substance-free living.  I was so surprised and very grateful for this wonderful opportunity to help other people learn more about the truth of addiction and recovery!

In addition, the magazine did a great job of covering my IWINS initiative which I am so excited about!  IWINS stands for I Wish I Never Started and is aimed at preventing and ending opiate abuse amongst teens and young adults.  It is a national initiative that we want to see eventually go global in its reach! 

Usually, I write a little more in my article for our newsletter.  This month, however, I am going to be brief so you can take a few moments to browse this great magazine article.  Please feel free to share it with your friends and family. You can find it here!

You've Got Great Expectations!



By 
Chris Newcomb, M.Div.

"You've got great expectations!" These words forever ring in my ears from the song "Great Expectations" by the rock group KISS, which was written by Gene Simmons (pictured above).  The song was about the expectations rock and roll fans (a.k.a. groupies) have at his concerts to meet him and, uh, 'hang out' with him after the show (wink, wink).  That perspective is, of course, a tired but true lyrical storyline that's been around ever since the term 'rock-n-roll' was coined. 

Why do I bring this up on a substance abuse blog (and in this month's newsletter.  You can sign up here)?  Great question and I hope my answer will suffice.  Gene Simmons had great expectations and is the epitome of the American dream come true.  Born Chaim Witz in Israel, he dodged bullets as a youngster in a war-torn land.  If that wasn't enough, he watched his father walk away from him and his mother with another woman.  Gone.  Vanished.  Most people would've quit by then.  Not Gene.  No, he had a different plan.  He had great expectations.

He emigrated to America and changed his name to 'Gene Klein' and became a school teacher.  Then, as his rock band KISS began to get popular, he changed his legal name to his stage name 'Gene Simmons' and it has stuck ever since.  The reality is that Gene Simmons had great expectations for himself and his future.  

As a matter of fact, at some parties, you've probably heard the Gene Simmons co-penned rock anthem of all rock anthems called 'Rock and Roll All Nite and Party Every Day".  Here is the irony: Gene Simmons was completely sober when he wrote that song and remained that way!  He has never done a drug in his life and the only alcohol he ever tasted was on his reality show in which he spit it out immediately because he couldn't stand the taste!!!  Drugs and alcohol were not part of his great expectations!

Did you expect the party life to be glamorous when you first entered it?  Did you think that you had finally arrived and that your life is going to be so much better for having been in the scene, so to speak. You felt like an adult.  You get those positive feelings and vibes both from the substances and the people at the party.  "What could be wrong with this," you ask yourself?

The truth is that the party life is a lie.  One of the lies it tells people is that the sober life is boring, stupid, and lame.  The truth is a sober life is what you make it and it can be a lot of fun.  If you are not quite convinced my logic is sound...I present Exhibit A: Gene Simmons.  His band KISS is touring this summer for their 40th anniversary to sell out crowds (18,000 or more) and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame this year.  

By the way, his birthday was yesterday.  He's 65.  And he still breathes fire live and flies to the top of the arena every night to sing a song to the audience 100 feet below.  Pretty good for a boy with great expectations who dodged bullets and lost his father to infidelity in war-torn Israel and who ultimately ended up becoming a rock icon, movie star, TV star, and NYT Best-selling author with a net worth of $300 million dollars.  I'm impressed and inspired.  I hope you are too because Gene Simmons life story proves that anyone, regardless of circumstance, can change their life and achieve their great expectations!

I encourage you to pursue sobriety and embrace your inner great expectations because you never know where life will take you.  And if you don't have any great expectations, today is a great day to create a few.  Pursue your goals.  Pursue your dreams.  Pursue the important things that really matter that you may have put off because of addiction.  

Great expectations make human beings the most unique thing on this planet for no bird, tree, blade of grace, tornado, or ant ever has expectations much less great expectations.  This is great news because we can choose to expect the great things in life that we want and pursue them.  

What do you expect for your life?  Your career?  Your marriage?  Your life apart from drugs and/or alcohol?  Think about it.  Dream about it.  Then go get it.  Gene Simmons did and so can you!

If you or someone you love had great expectations to never get addicted to drugs or alcohol but ended up getting addicted anyway, we can help.  We detox people off of alcohol, opiates, benzos, Methadone, and Suboxone. At The Coleman Institute, we help real people who desire to change their broken story into a brand new story of healing sobriety and recovery filled with great expectations.  If you're ready to change your expectations, leave the old life behind and start a new one by getting clean and sober, please do not hesitate to give us a call at 1.877.773.3869 today.  Jennifer Pius or Amy Stewart can answer your questions and get you started on the road to recovery!  


Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Don't Forget that September is National Recovery Month!


By
Chris Newcomb, M.Div.

Summer is quickly fading and school will be starting in the not-so-distant future.  We are just 11 days from September.  Can you believe it?  What does September hold?

Besides the inevitable start of school and the changing of the leaves, another important thing to mention is that September is National Recovery month and this year it celebrates 25 years! Recovery Month is, "a national observance that educates Americans on the fact that addiction treatment and mental health services can enable those with a mental and/or substance use disorder to live a healthy and rewarding life. The observance’s main focus is to laud the gains made by those in recovery from these conditions, just as we would those who are managing other health conditions such as hypertension, diabetes, asthma, and heart disease. Recovery Month spreads the positive message that behavioral health is essential to overall health, prevention works, treatment is effective, and people can and do recover"

For more information, you can check out their great website here!

At The Coleman Institute, we love National Recovery Month and can't wait to join the festivities next month.  We agree that, "prevention works, treatment is effective, and people can and do recover." If you or someone you love is in need of detox off of alcohol, benzos, opiates, Methadone, or Suboxone, please do not hesitate to contact Jennifer Pius or Amy Stewart at 1.877.773.3869 today. 
We are here to help you!