Thursday, December 26, 2013

Smart Snacking is a Choice!

Chris Newcomb, M.Div.

 As I write this article, I am snacking on this bowl of veggies in between paragraphs.  It is filled with nature's goodness: barley, black beans, carrots, snap peas, corn, red peppers, and a nice, light Italian sauce to add flavor!  It truly is delicious and I am grateful to have it as a mid-morning snack!  What snacks will you feast on today?

Now that the holidays are over, many people will be staring down the scales to assess the cumulative damage done from excessive snacking.  For many, a howl of discontent will rise from within as they realize their failure to exercise 'smart snacking' during the holidays.  This could, in turn, lead to more excessive unhealthy snacking.  Choice, at this point, would seem to be out the window.  

However, choice is never too far away.  And while some of us may have eaten more than we planned, we can always plan on having a little more gratitude in our lives.  To be fair, gratitude, much like smart snacking,  is often a difficult thing to cultivate in one's life.  Life, as most of you know, is not perfect. Things go wrong.  Bad things happen to good people.   And good things happen to bad people.  It is not always fair.  Through it all, however, we always have a reason to be grateful even if we have to search for it.  

As we embrace gratitude, it may be helpful to think of life as a series of snacks.  And smart snackers snack on gratitude.  For example, we snack a little bit on work every day.  Ok, maybe that's more like eating mom's asparagus but I digress.  Just kidding!  Since it is the holidays, if you have a job, be grateful!  See, it's all a matter of perspective!

Besides work, we get three meals a day to snack on, if we choose.  Personally, I eat 6 small meals a day so I do quite a bit of snacking.  And the holidays are built for snacking!  Pies, cakes, ice cream, cookies, egg nog, and a host of other artery-blocking foods are available to increase your gratitude quotient.  So is exercise but again I digress!

Everyday we get to snack on the sunshine, the breeze, the trees, the birds, cats, dogs, flowers, crazy drivers, slow drivers, old people, young people, white people, black people, tan people, pale people, short people, tall people, persons lacking size, persons of size, not to mention cars, football, jewelry, and tennis shoes.  We snack on TV programs, movies, songs, concerts, plays, symphonies, amusement parks, cafes, water, breakfast, lunch, dinner, and the internet and cell phones (of course).

You see gratitude is a choice.  I can think of a million reasons why life stinks, if I put my mind to it.  That's the problem, I can't afford to put my mind to it.  When I do, it's not a great place for me on the inside.  You probably feel the same way.  And did you know that It's the same way with addiction? When people lack gratitude, they increase their chances of acting out their dissatisfaction through addictive behaviors involving chemical substances.  

Just as gratitude and 'smart snacking'  is a choice, addiction is too.  Of course, many of you will say that you have no choice but to practice your addiction.  And truth be told, in a strict biological sense, you didn't when you were out using.  It is a brain disease.  However, with help, you can continue to stop practicing your addiction.  

Remember this: you're not responsible for being an addict.  You're just responsible to stay clean.  It's not your fault.  You didn't choose it.  You didn't plan it.  And it's not fair.  However, you deserve more from life than destroying yourself.  You are all you (and we) have!

Why not snack a little bit more on recovery through gratitude this holiday season?  It won't ruin your appetite.  If anything, it will whet your palette for the main course, which includes things like blessings, forgiveness, restored relationships, freedom, success, confidence, financial security, renewed health, and so on.  

If you or  someone you love is in need of detox off of opiates, alcohol, benzos, Methadone, or Suboxone, please do not hesitate to call Jennifer Pius or Amy Stewart at 1-877-773-3869 today.  We're here for you.  Sobriety, like gratitude and smart snacking, is a choice.  Make the right choice today!  

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Just What We Need: Another Long-Acting, Highly Addictive Narcotic!

Peter R. Coleman, M.D. 

The FDA has recently approved Zohydro®, a brand new opiate painkiller, to be used for pain management.  It will most likely be highly addictive and it will most likely be fatal for a large number of people.  Actually, it is not a new opiate - just a new and more abusable form of the current drug Hydrocodone.  That's right - the pharmaceutical company Zogenix has reformulated the highly addictive drug Hydrocodone into a long-acting version, just like Oxycontin®.  They have not even put any tamper resistant mechanisms into the new formulation.  It will be very easy to crush it, snort it, and inject it.  It is hard to imagine what the FDA is thinking.  The last thing we need is another highly abusable opiate.  In fact, the FDA has an advisory panel that reseaches new drugs very thoroughly - and the advisory panel voted 11-2 not to approve the drug but the new drug got approved anyway.  

This new drug is coming out right at a time when we are seeing an epidemic of opiate abuse. Opiate abuse has been a serious problem for many years, but it has now become a full-fledged epidemic!  The statistics are frightening.  Consider these facts:
  • Americans make up 5% of the world population, but we use 99% of the world’s Hydrocodone®.
  • About 8% of high school seniors tried Hydrocodone® last year.
  • Since 1990, the death rate from drug overdoses has tripled.
  • There are now 100 people in the US who die every day from drug overdose.
  • The CDC has determined that each year there are 2 million Americans who use opiate drugs recreationally for the first time.
  • Many people who try these drugs will become addicted.
  • Once addicted, long-term success rates are very poor.
  • Most addicted people will end up in jails, institutions or dead.
  • Many addicted people will end up standing in lines every day at a methadone clinic or becoming addicted to Suboxone®.
Sometimes, from the outside looking in, it is hard to understand what is going on at the FDA when certain decisions, such as this one, are made. It seems totally irresponsible for the FDA to approve a drug like this when it is not needed. We already have plenty of options to treat pain with very strong narcotic medicines.

Fortunately, in the last week or so, some pressure has been exerted by members of A.S.A.M. (American Society of Addiction Medicine) and others to have the FDA reconsider. In addition, the Attorney General offices from a number of states have started proceedings to try to get the FDA to reconsider. I have joined with a number of physicians from the American Society of Addiction Medicine to lobby senators to try to stop this new drug from hitting the market. Hopefully, these combined efforts will have some effect!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Words Hurt.

Chris Newcomb, M.Div.

"Seven Words You Can Never Say On Television" - George Carlin
"Samma Vaca" "Right Speech" - Buddhist 8 Fold Path
"The tongue has the power of life and death" - Proverbs 18:21

Words have power.  What you say and how you say it can affect someone else in dramatic ways.  For instance, if I tell you, "Guess what my friend?  I'm leaving you $15 million dollars!"  How would you feel?  What effect would that have on you emotionally?  Mentally?  Even physically?  I would wager it would make you feel very happy.  You would probably very seriously entertain the idea of early retirement.  You might physically feel giddy and full of laughter and joy.  I wouldn't blame you.  By the way, I'm not leaving you $15 million…I have to make it first!
In 1972, the late comedian George Carlin received national attention for a part in his show he called "Seven Words You Can Never Say On Television".  Needless to say, people were outraged.  His use of 7 dirty words offended people nationwide.  He claimed he was protected by the First Amendment right to free speech.  Ultimately, he was arrested on charges of disturbing the peace.  

In Buddhist thought, there is the concept of 'right speech' or 'samma vaca'.  The idea is that one should only speak the truth and use their words in a positive manner.  Makes sense, right?  

The Bible says that the tongue has the power of life and death.  Drastic?  Perhaps.  But think about how easily words cut to the bone and cause the metaphorical 'death' of the soul in a young child.  

Why all this heavy talk about words?  Because words matter.  If you suffer from chronic pain, I am sure you've experienced the painful words instructing you to just 'get over it' or 'pull up your bootstraps' by friends and family when it comes to your addiction and your pain each day.  And if you don't pay attention to the power of words, then the words will have power over you.  And relapse is waiting to happen.  

Relapse occurs when we are injured, among other reasons.  A scorned lover drinks to get revenge for all the mean things their former partner said about them during their most recent argument.  An employee uses heroin after a long meeting wherein their boss calls them out in front of everyone for a mistake they made.  Feeling rejected, judged and belittled, they relapse back into life-threatening behavior with their drug of choice.  

Perhaps you are a recreational user and you hate yourself because of all the negative labels people use about addicts and alcoholics: Loser.  Idiot.  Mooch.  Immature.  Failure.  Words hurt.  There's no way to get around it.  Even when they're not accurate or true.  You are none of those things.  

That is why the fellowship of 12 step meetings are so healing for people.  To be in a room full of people who struggle with the same issues you do is very helpful in bringing a sense of peace and understanding.  They can speak messages of encouragement, life, hope, peace, and compassion into your life, your psyche, and your spirit.  Hearing such things can only help to heal and strengthen your resolve to stay clean and sober.  

Maybe you've listened to the words of the drug dealers for too long.  You know their message far too well.  You can recite it word of word.  Stop listening to their hurtful words.  You don't need them.  They are liars.  

At The Coleman Institute, we specialize in helping people get clean and stay clean.  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're here for you.  And we have nothing but good things to say to you!