Tuesday, May 29, 2012

"Calgon - Take Me Away?"

Some of you may remember the commercial from the 80's where a tired housewife escapes to her sanctuary in the bathtub from the toils of the day and says enthusiastically, "Calgon!  Take me away!" imploring the popular bath salt to relieve her stress and pain.  I remember thinking nothing of that commercial but just a silly advertisement as a kid.  Now, I can't believe that it could be anything more than that.  That's right, the drug game is changing once again.  Anything to get high, right?  Read on.

First, let me be very clear, this article is NOT in any way, shape, or form trying to bring slander against the Calgon brand or product line.  It was merely a way of introducing a discouraging development in the use of drugs because people can relate to the name as a popular bath salt.  That being said, it appears now that 'bath salts' are being abused by people to get high.  Who would've thought a good, helpful product like bath salts that are meant to smooth the skin and sooth sore muscles would become a catalyst for getting high!?!

Apparently that is just the case!   Nora Volkow, M.D. , Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse says in an article on their website that bath salts are, "the newest fad to hit the shelves (virtual and real), is the latest addition to a growing list of items that young people can obtain to get high. The synthetic powder is sold legally online and in drug paraphernalia stores under a variety of names, such as "Ivory Wave," "Purple Wave," "Red Dove," "Blue Silk," "Zoom," "Bloom," "Cloud Nine," "Ocean Snow," "Lunar Wave," "Vanilla Sky," "White Lightning," "Scarface," and "Hurricane Charlie." The main culprit are the ingredients mephedrone and methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MDPV) which when snort can cause a high. 

Unfortunately, this dim reality turned deadly this past week when a man who was high on bath salts attacked another man in Miami in a crazed frenzy as a reaction to the drug he snorted.  The details of the attack are too gruesome to mention here and more importantly are not what is important as much as the reality that people are still trying to find new ways to get high.  Yes, addiction is real.  Yes, people are always going to look for new ways to get high.  Yes, we have to be part of the solution and not the problem.  But, can't we just take a bath with bath salt for goodness sakes! 

Our thoughts are with the people of Miami affected by this attack, the victim of the attack, as well as the attacker, because this, of all incidents, shows how drugs can take a person and make them do things they would never do if they were sober.  Addiction is a complicated disease that makes people do horrible things.  That doesn't make them horrible people.  It makes them sick people in need of help.   

If you or someone you love is in need of detox from opiates, alcohol, benzodiazepines, methadone, or suboxone, please call Jennifer at 1.877.77.DETOX (33869)

Friday, May 25, 2012

Prescription Medication Abuse is Still Drug Abuse

Prescription medications make a world of difference--even between life and death--for individuals around the world.  Yet, many of these same prescription medicines are subject to abuse when they are in the wrong hands.  Like recreational drug abuse, prescription medication abuse can cause not only legal problems, but major health risks as well.

There is a lot of misinformation about prescription drugs and their relative safety.  Some teens, and adults, operate under the belief that taking prescription medications for recreational purposes is safer than using street drugs.  This is not the case.  In fact, prescription medication abuse may, in some cases, be significantly more dangerous.  Some of these drugs are distributed only under a doctor's care because misuse of them can cause major problems, and may even be fatal.  Even something that seems as simple and harmless as taking a friend or relative's prescribed medication can have long-term consequences.

Another bit of erroneous information is that prescription drugs are not addictive.  While some prescribed medications can be used safely over a long period, others are highly addictive after only a short use.  These addictions are likely to lead individuals into prescription medication abuse, and possibly into less than legal ways to supply the addiction.   Doctors, and regulators, are well aware of the potential for abuse of certain medications, and are not likely to hand out prescriptions for them without reason.

Some of the most widely abused prescription medications are pain relievers and relaxers, or depressants.  Terms like OxyContin, Valium and Xanax have entered everyday language, and made their way into books and popular culture, often as jokes.  Their uses are well-known, as well as some of those that abuse them. Yet, prescription medication abuse is no joke. It's a wide and growing problem, and an increasingly dangerous one.

The Coleman Institute is committed to helping people get clean and stay clean from prescription drug abuse.  Our state-of-the-art treatment protocols are safe, effective, and delivered in a timely fashion so you can get back to living in a relatively quick manner.  If you are someone you love needs help getting from from prescription drugs such as Xanax or Klonipin and/or opiates, alcohol, methadone, or suboxone, please don't hesitate to call Jennifer Pius at 1.877.77.33869 (DETOX) for more information.  We're waiting to help you help yourself!  

Monday, May 21, 2012

Thoughts as Triggers

One of the more difficult aspects of recovery is that we are regularly assaulted by thoughts that make using seem more appealing.  Unfortunately for an addict, these thoughts can be intrusive in the early days of recovery.  Indeed, for some people, they don't subside for quite some time.

Thus, a crucial part of recovery is staying in tune with these thoughts, and recognizing which of them has the potential to act as a relapse trigger.  A relapse trigger can briefly be defined as anything that makes relapse more likely.  While it may seem obvious that thoughts are a necessary prerequisite of relapse, thoughts as triggers is an important area of investigation that everyone in recovery must pursue.

Often, this inquiry involves taking an inventory of one's thoughts and determining which have the emotional power to act as triggers.  Frequently the thoughts that are most likely to lead us to relapse are those that cause an emotional reaction in us, although that reaction doesn't necessarily need to be negative.  In fact, many of us are just as inclined to relapse after very happy thoughts as we are due to very negative thoughts.  The desire to celebrate after a happy thought can be very strong.

The key to avoiding the influence of thoughts as triggers is to be very aware of which thoughts are likely to affect us in that way.  Maintaining a level emotional response to thoughts can then allow us to process any thought in a rational manner.  To attain this level of equanimity, however, often requires the assistance of a counselor.  After you complete your detox at The Coleman Institute, our commitment to aftercare is put into action by finding the right counselor for you in your local area.  Getting the assistance of individual or group counseling can help you to identify emotionally-charged thoughts, and to process them with others before they lead to relapse.

If you or someone you love is struggling with an addiction to alcohol, opiates, benzodiazepines, Methadone, or Suboxone and need detoxification services as well a solid, workable aftercare program to remain sober, please call Jennifer at The Coleman Institute at 1.877.77.33869 (DETOX)

Friday, May 18, 2012

Good Recovery Habits Need to Offset Bad Addiction Habits

One of the worst things about suffering from an addiction is that, when the dust settles the addict feels like they are alone.  This can lead to an awful lot of bad habits because they do not really know how to snap out of the funk they are in.   There is also the simple fact that an awful lot of the drugs that someone can get addicted to were born out of bad habits themselves.  Maybe you started off just having a beer with dinner every night.  Maybe that beer eventually graduated to a glass of wine after dinner while you were watching television or reading the paper.   Eventually you were drinking too much, at the absolute worst times and you couldn't stop.

The bottom line is that almost all addictions started from one habit or another.   While getting kicking the habit of the actual drug or alcohol use is the first step, sobriety will have a short stay if you don't get yourself to embrace recovery habits that will lead to better and healthier habits.  This doesn't mean that you should stop doing everything that reminds you of drinking or smoking or whatever addiction you suffer from. If you had a beer with dinner, it's completely unrealistic to try and stop having dinner altogether.

What addicts need to do is find recovery habits that overshadow the negatives.  The first part of this process is understanding that as an addict, you are, in fact, not alone.  The best habit you could possibly get into is to seek treatment on a regular basis.   Some addicts might need to seek treatment such as counseling or inpatient long-term care.  Others benefit from psychiatry to address underlying mental illness that exacerbate the addiction.  Still others benefit from facilities such as the Coleman Institute that are dedicated towards helping an addict start over through a safe, outpatient detox procedure followed by Naltrexone Therapy.  Regardless of individual treatment modalities, common wisdom says all addicts and alcoholics can benefit from attendance at local AA or NA meetings on a daily or at least weekly basis.  The key, is that these habits have to be something that truly become second nature.  The recovery habits have to be things you do because it feels good, natural, and is sobriety-enhancing. Once you've gotten into those habits, real recovery can take hold.

If you or someone you love is in need of detox from substances such as opiates, alcohol, benzos, methadone, or suboxone, please don't hesitate to call Jennifer from The Coleman Institute at 1.877.77. DETOX (33869) to schedule your appointment today!

Important Notice: Naltrexone Relieves Suboxone Post-Acute Withdrawal Symptoms

I recently saw a patient who we detoxed off Suboxone about 2 years ago. He is staying clean and doing very well – He feels very happy, has a new career, is getting on well with friends and family. But, he has been plagued with Post-Acute Withdrawal Symptoms (PAWS). Interestingly, his symptoms virtually went away when he started back on Naltrexone.

The patient felt well after he detoxed off Suboxone, but he noticed that when his implant wore off he became fatigued, couldn’t sleep and felt physically tired.  He said it didn’t feel like depression (“it felt more physical than that”), but his doctor wanted to treat him for depression.  He also had other post-acute withdrawal symptoms including sneezing attacks and cold chills.  He saw his doctor who tested him for a variety of things, and tried him on a variety of medicines but nothing helped him.  His symptoms improved somewhat but he continued to feel very tired and fatigued.  After about 18 months, he was searching on the internet when he found reference to the fact that some people have persistent post-acute withdrawal symptoms when they come off Suboxone.  Some of these people respond well to taking Naltrexone.  So, about 6 months ago, my patient called on the phone and we started him on Naltrexone tablets. Within 1 hour he was feeling like he was 18 years old again.  He said he had so much energy and felt so good that it scared him.  His feelings of high energy lasted about 5 days, but then settled down into what felt like normal energy.  He has felt pretty good ever since.  One day he forgot his Naltrexone and he started to feel bad again, but he felt normal again as soon as he resumed his Naltrexone.

I have heard from other doctors who have patients who have had similar experiences – the patients stopped opiates, had persistent mild sub-acute withdrawal symptoms, and then the withdrawal symptoms were relieved by Naltrexone.  Of course, we use Naltrexone routinely after our detoxes, and most of our patients feel very well very quickly.  Most of our patients have virtually no cravings.

It is hard to understand exactly why Naltrexone could relieve these post-acute withdrawal symptoms, but I have a couple of thoughts.  Naltrexone binds tightly to the opiate receptors in the brain, and prevents other opiates from attaching to them. Perhaps, because Naltrexone blocks these receptors it forces the brain to more quickly increase its production of natural endorphins, and this increase in endorphins is what relieves the fatigue and other symptoms.  Perhaps, the Naltrexone binding fills the receptors up, so that they are not “looking for drugs” – cravings and withdrawal symptoms go down.  Perhaps, filling the receptors up with a blocking drug allows the number of receptors to go back to a normal state – a process we call “Down Regulation” – and when there are a normal number of receptors, patients feel more normal.

Whatever the mechanism, it is helpful to remember that if patients are suffering with persistent withdrawal symptoms after they detox off opiates, they may benefit from Naltrexone.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Ticket to Treatment

We see many clients who have made up their mind to stop using opiates or benzos and are ready to get into a good treatment program.  Unfortunately, they are either unable to stop using opiates on their own, or their urine is still screening positive for benzos.  Many benzodiazepenes  have metabolites that stay in the urine for an extended period of time.

If you or a loved one is ready to stop using opiates, but become too physically ill…or you have tried to stop using benzos…consider coming to The Coleman Institute. We can help a person detox off short acting opiates such as dilaudid or oxycodone or hydrocodone in a mere 3 days.

If it were easy to stop using opiates, more people would be in treatment.  We know it is difficult not only to get off, but to stay off these pain killers.  The naltrexone implant prevents cravings by blocking the opiate receptors for up-to-12 weeks.

We have relationships with several treatment facilities that depend on us for helping their patients get clean so they can start the journey of recovery with a clean slate.  In addition we also detox people off of methadone, suboxone, and alcohol as well!  Please call us if you have any questions and are ready to get clean and stay clean!

Joan R. Shepherd, NP

Monday, May 14, 2012

Bondage and Bonding

We love our patients, no matter what stage of addiction they are in when they come to The Coleman Institute (TCI).  Although our clients come to us for our Accelerated Detox programs, and not traditional psychotherapy, magic often happens when circumstances allow our clients to interact and bond as they realize their common bondage to substance abuse.

A few weeks ago we worked with a young woman, 21 years old, from Louisiana.  Leah’s** story started at age 14 when she began to party.  It escalated until, just prior to coming to TCI, she was using a gram and a half of heroin a day.  She had made several half-hearted attempts to stop along the way, but it wasn’t until she overdosed and the terrified ‘friend’ that she was with dumped her off at the emergency department of the local hospital and left, was she convinced she needed to stop using.

At the same time she was at TCI, Annette**, a 48 year old woman from PA was with us, detoxing off a case and a half of beer and 120mg of Oxycodone a day.  Annette has three children and a job she loves.  Her drug and alcohol use had kept her in bondage for many years.  Her marriage was over, and she was in danger of losing her job and her children.  In despair, she contacted us and got a friend to be her support person.  The final day of an A.O.D. (Accelerated Opiate Detox) involves being in a suite for several hours as we flush the rest of the opiates out of our clients’ bodies.  Most people are pretty comfortable, and there is a lot of camaraderie happening outside at the smoking section.

These two women bonded instantly.  I think Annette saw herself in the young woman or maybe saw what could happen with her own children, and Leah just responded to this lovely woman’s compassion and sense of humor and humility.  They got through their day; each received a naltrexone implant, and exchanged information and a long embrace.  It was a very emotional and heart-warming experience for all of us.

People won’t stop drinking alcohol, using methadone, suboxone, benzos or using opiates until they are ready.  If you or a loved one are ready, we would be honored to help you through this piece of it.  Many before you have succeeded.  Miracles happen when reality is embraced.

Joan R. Shepherd, FNP-C

**Names and details always changed to protect our patients’ privacy.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Alcoholism: Causes and the Treatment

Alcoholism is the most widespread form of drug abuse.  It is a worldwide problem, with distinct national differences in prevalence that, in general, mirror rates of per capita alcohol consumption.
Unfortunately, there is no single, simple definition of alcoholism.  The term alcoholism or chronic alcoholism is applied to a behavioral disorder characterized by an excessive use of alcohol to the extent that it interferes with physical and mental health.

As alcohol circulates in the bloodstream, it is distributed to every part of the body.  The effects of alcohol on various organs and tissues are of three types: the short-term effects of a single episode of drinking; the long-term effects of chronic alcoholism; and withdrawal symptoms.  Also important is the interaction of alcohol with other drugs in the body that may result in fetal malformations in pregnant women.  The amount of alcohol required to produce such malformations is not known.

Causes of Alcoholism

Nine out of ten people who drink do not become alcoholics.  Why the tenth drinker falls victim to this disorder is a question that has long plagued researchers.  There is no single answer.  Alcoholism probably is caused by a combination of interacting factors—biological, genetic, psychological, and social.

One of the most active areas of research is heredity.  Some studies have suggested that a predisposition toward alcoholism may be inherited in some people.  Children of an alcoholic parent are much more likely to become alcoholics than the children of non-alcoholics.  Also, alcohol is metabolized differently among some racial groups.  Oriental groups appear to produce higher blood levels of acetaldehyde after alcohol consumption, resulting in facial flushing and bodily discomfort.

Although psychologists have long tried to find an "alcoholic personality," no set of personality traits predicts alcoholism.  Some clinicians feel that in many alcoholics their addiction is related to deep feelings of inferiority and insecurity coupled with an inability to cope with frustration.  In others, alcoholism may be rooted in a desire to escape reality or in an underlying desire for self-destruction.

Sociologists have found that family and cultural attitudes toward alcohol have an important effect on people, especially during childhood, and strongly influence their drinking habits as adults.  Among some peoples, moderate or heavy drinking is an important part of social life, while among others the use of alcohol is discouraged or forbidden.  Paradoxically, the rate of alcoholism among those who drink in abstinent cultures is much higher than the rate of alcoholism among drinkers in the general population.

Treatment of Alcoholism

Because alcoholism affects every aspect of its victim's life, treatment often consists of a combination of therapies.  Before any long-term treatment can be undertaken, however, the alcoholic must be free of alcohol and treated for withdrawal symptoms. There are two main goals of long-term treatment. One is to break dependence on alcohol so that the alcoholic can function without drinking.  The other is to relieve the psychological problems that may contribute to the likelihood of relapse.

There are several other alternative therapies available. The Coleman institute uses implants of Naltrexone that block the opiate receptors in the brain and also reduce cravings for alcohol. In addition to Naltrexone Therapy, they also detox  people off of methadone, suboxone, and benzos as well. 

Most experts agree that the ultimate aim is to produce complete abstinence—that is, to keep alcoholics from ever drinking again.  The Coleman Institute wholeheartedly supports a view of total abstinence as essential for a complete and healthy recovery in the life of an alcoholic.  Their innovative services are one reason so many people are coming to them to 'get clean and stay clean'.  If you or someone you love is in need of detox, please call Jennifer at 1.877.77.DETOX (33869)

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Actions in Recovery


To those who have not yet gotten deeply involved in the recovery process, it might seem that most of the work involves simply abstaining from your substance of choice.  A successful recovery, however, also involves the individual being very active to confront issues that led to the addiction originally, and to change one's life in ways that make relapse less likely.  Actions in recovery thus make up a large part of the recovery process because they are an essential part of a successful recovery.

One common action in recovery, for example, involves the examination of mistakes and errors made in one's past.  This is usually done with the help of an individual on the outside of your recovery process.  They can help you to realistically assess the things you may have done in your past that can be considered mistakes of judgment.  Once these are identified, a next step is to make amends for those errors.

Making amends is beneficial for a number of reasons.  First, it allows us to be fully open and accepting about the damage addiction has caused to our life and others'.  No longer do we have to feel we have something to hide.  This openness also allows us to feel like we do not have to avoid people we have offended, or places we may have acted inappropriately.   Thus, instead of areas of our life being closed off to us, they are opened once again.

Recovery is about regaining freedom and control over your life, and actions in recovery like making amends allow you to do that.  Treatment centers like The Coleman Institute can be consulted to bring a sponsor into your life to help you with these actions.  By focusing on actions in recovery, you make the likelihood of a successful recovery more probable.

If you are hooked on opiates, alcohol, benzos, methadone, or suboxone, why not take action now and give The Coleman Institute a call.  Jennifer Pius will be happy to help you learn more about your services and schedule the appropriate treatment for your situation.  1.877.77.DETOX (33869)

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Back to the Grind

“You all have been so great…but I’m worried about how it’s going to be when I get back home; back to the real world.”

We hear this again and again from our patients who have come to The ColemanInstitute for an accelerated opiate, or alcohol or benzo detox. And it’s a very valid concern.  Years of prioritizing "How will I get my pills? (dope, beer, wine, xanax…)?" has contributed to habitual ways of thinking.  It is wise for a person who has chosen to become clean to recognize—with humility, optimism, and faith—that staying clean is a process.

Many patients leave our office, and I suspect, other treatment facilities in the beautiful pink cloud of early sobriety.  They are determined to change their lives; to be the parent, the child, the spouse, the friend they know they are capable of being.  And then an unexpected bill comes along.  Or a child gets in trouble.  Or the dishwasher breaks.  Or the boss yells at you.  And the thoughts are overwhelming any peaceful thoughts about recovery: “What the hell?  Why was I thinking I could stay sober?  I’ve never done it before…One drink (pill, toke, snort) won’t hurt, it’ll just take the edge off—I deserve it. I can’t believe he/she said that to me—as hard as I’ve been working, trying…”

Recognizing triggers, accepting the fact that the urge to use is made worse with resistance, having quick access to someone who’s been through the same experience, sharing the misery, lightening up with a laugh…all this and much more is what a person will find in a 12 Step Program. If they want to.

Because 12 Step Programs are based on attraction, rather than promotion, no one will ever be pressured in any way.  There is no evidence that any other approach is more successful.
At The Coleman Institute, we safely and comfortably help detox our patients, and provide naltrexone in the form of a pellet, inserted under the skin.  For opiate users, this provides  8-10 weeks of blocking the receptors; for alcohol it cuts down on the urge and pleasure of drinking.  It has been the springboard for people to begin their program of recovery without the physical urges and cravings.

Call us if you’re ready to start taking the first steps. You have no idea the freedom that’s waiting for you.

Joan R. Shepherd, NP