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Posts Tagged ‘addiction’

About Addiction: non-addictive pills, internet addiction, marijuana and alcohol

September 12th, 2012

You want to know more about addiction and we want to tell you, so here is this week’s wrap up of exciting news (well, some of it. ) A lot of news about addiction comes up every week and we want you to be informed!

The End of Opioid Addiction?According to a joint international study by the University of Adelaide and the University of Colorado, published in the Journal of Neuroscience, the scientists have discovered an essential receptor in the brain that can cause opioid addiction, and there is a drug that can block this receptor without interfering with pain relief! The drug is called (+)-naloxone and it works by binding to the specific receptors in the immune system that ordinarily trigger the drug’s addictive properties and preventing the opioids from interacting with them, thus reducing the body’s addictive response to the opioid drug. This new drug is a variant of the drug naloxone, which has been used for many years to treat overdoses. However, this study is the first clear link to its effect on preventing addiction. According to the leaders of the study, clinical trials may even begin within the next 18 months!

Scientists discover internet-addiction gene?Internet addiction is defined as someone who obsessively thinks about the internet and whose sense of well-being is negatively impacted if they can not get access to the internet. According to the findings of German scientists, published in the September issue of Journal of Addiction Medicine, problematic users more often carried a variation of the CHRNA4 gene, which is typically linked to nicotine addiction. While this receptor in the brain has been known to be essential in nicotine addiction, this is the first neurological link to internet addiction that has been discovered. The study’s lead author, Christian Montag, acknowledged that more large-scale studies need to be done to further examine this connection between internet addiction and the CHRNA4 gene, however he insists that there is enough clear evidence to support a genetic predisposition to internet addiction.

Your childhood’s effect on your adult life It has long been accepted that traumatic experiences in one’s childhood can have long-lasting effects on a person well into their adult life. According to new research at Cambridge University, suffering a traumatic experience in childhood may increase one’s risk of drug addiction. The compulsivity and impulsiveness linked to addicts are also found in people as a result of a traumatic childhood. While having a traumatic experience in one’s childhood does not mean they will automatically become an addict, just as not having a traumatic experience does not make one immune to addiction, coming from this kind of background does make one more at-risk of becoming an addict.

Is Marijuana Addictive?There has long been a debate on whether or not marijuana is an addictive drug. Recently, it has been ranked number one on a list of the top five most commonly abused prescription drugs used by post-50 year olds. According to a 2011 report from The National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 3 million adults older than 50 have illegally used the drug and “out of 4.8 million older adults who used illicit drugs, marijuana use was more common than non-medical use of prescription medicines among the 50-to-59 age range.” All of this evidence leads to a need to differentiate between addiction and dependency. In this article, Robert DuPont, M.D. and Laurel Dewey debate the addictiveness of marijuana by arguing their point of view. As evidence of its addictiveness, DuPont points out that, since 2000, admission for treatment of marijuana abuse ranks higher than that of heroin, methamphetamine, cocaine and prescription painkillers. Of 7.1 million people with dependence or abuse of drugs other than alcohol or tobacco in 2010, 4.5 million had marijuana dependence. That’s 63 percent of everyone with illicit drug dependence or abuse! Contrarily, Dewey uses many personal experiences to show her side of the argument. She points to a 1974 study, conducted at Virginia Commonwealth University, that proved that the cannabinoids in the marijuana plant shrunk cancerous tumors and killed cancer cells, leaving healthy cells alone. She adds that, in the thousand years of its use, no one has ever died of marijuana use. Both authors use much more evidence for their side, which you can read about by clicking the link above. Read both views and form your own opinion!

Alcohol and Drug Use in SchoolsWith kids going back to school across the country, there have been many different studies on alcohol and drug use amongst the youth. In a survey led by SAFE Inc. (Substance Abuse Free Environment), there were mixed results. While the number of students who have tried alcohol has actually decreased, marijuana and amphetamine use have both increased. The survey targeted eight-, tenth-, and twelfth-graders, and showed that those tenth-graders who reported using alcohol in the last month dropped from 31 percent in 2010 to just 22.7 percent this year. It also decreased slightly in the eight- and twelfth-graders. Of the troubling findings, the most troubling may have been the increase in prescription stimulant abuse, such as Adderall and Ritalin. The most dramatic increase was among twelfth-graders, more than doubling from 3.8 to 8.5 percent. Marijuana use also showed increase both in the last month and in lifetime use amongst eighth- and twelfth-graders, although there was a slight drop by tenth-graders. 


Posted in:  Education
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Death in rehab- What is wrong with California’s addiction treatment?

September 5th, 2012

We at A3 have long been saying that there is something seriously wrong with the way addiction treatment is being regulated and with the addiction treatment system that has sprouted up as a result. Now, a government report created for the California Senate Rules Committee called “Rogue Rehabs: State failed to police drug and alcohol homes, with deadly results” (see here) supports our notion and extends them in alarming ways. Among the major findings:

  1. Over the past decade, the California department in charge of regulating residential drug and alcohol programs consistently failed to catch life threatening problems [with addiction treatment facilities].
  2. Many addiction treatment facilities in California are providing medical care in clear violation of their licenses and often by under-trained staff.
  3. Addiction treatment providers are accepting patients that are far too impaired (as in sick) for them to handle because they would rather take the money than turn away a patient.
  4. These problems have led to several deaths within the California addiction treatment system in the last decade.

Obviously these findings are extremely disturbing and cases like the one studies in the report of Brandon Jacques, a patient who died while under the care of MorningSide Recovery’s care,  could have been prevented with more attention and transparency in our system. The idea that addiction treatment facilities that are not equipped to handle severe cases are taking them just for the money is sickening and antithetical to the reason for their existence. As far as I’m concerned, such unethical flouting of patient care should lead to an immediate revocation of their license and a ban for the management from the field.

The most distrubing factor to my mind is the fact that many of these providers know that what they are doing is wrong. But they also know that more than 50% of people who are looking for addiction treatment are doing so for the first time and have no idea what to ask, what addiction services they need, or how to assess whether a facility is appropriate. That means they can take advantage of them with fancy websites and the use of terms like “holistic treatment” that mean little and promise much. It’s disgusting and flies in the face of everything our field is supposed to stand for. It’s also the main reason I worked so hard to develop our Rehab-Finder, which while far from perfect and in need of serious work that I can’t afford to put into it, tries to fix these problems by recommending treatment that is appropriate given the specific issues a client is dealing with. We are currently conducting a study with UCLA on the effectiveness of tools like this and I am committed to figuring out a safer way to help those in need find the right addiction treatment for them.

Importantly, the report also makes a number of recommendations:

  1. Allow for medical service provision at addiction treatment facilities but legislate strict oversight and accountability paid for by agency fees.
  2. Medical detox facilities should be required to have medical directors.
  3. Establishing requirements and procedures for death investigations at addiction facilities.
  4. Strict oversight of programs found to admit clients it is not fit to treat including immediate license suspension.
  5. Information sharing between addiction treatment licensing boards and medical boards.

We think it’s time that addiction treatment providers be held to the same standard that other medical facilities are held to. It might help finally close the gap in terms of recovery outcomes. Running as a relatively unregulated industry does not help patients, it does not help move the field forward, and although they can’t see it it does not even help the treatment providers who are behaving unethically since many of them are eventually forced to close and face lawsuits. It’s time to move forward on this.


Posted in:  Education, Rehab-Finder, Treatment
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Teens and drugs: Drug use statistics and treatment that works

August 28th, 2012

Here are some drug use statistics:

  • Over 80% of teens engage in some form of deviant behavior (1).
  • Over 50% of high-school seniors admit to having used drugs (2).
  • Only 10%-15% of the population develop drug addiction problems related to their drug use (1).

The question is:

If the majority of teens experiment with drug use, and so few eventually develop drug addiction problems, should we be focusing on something other than stopping kids from trying drugs? Read the rest of this entry »


Posted in:  Addiction Stories, Alcohol, Cocaine, Drugs, Drugs, Education, For others, Marijuana, Meth, Opinions, Prescription, Tips
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Top 10 great things about being addicted

August 16th, 2012

Here at All About Addiction we keep talking about fixing addiction and treating addiction given the suffering that addicts go through. But there are certainly some positive things that go along with being addicted and we figured we should point those out. SO here they is are top 10 addiction list:

Top 10 great things about being addicted

1. You get to do whatever you want whenever you want to do it – For many addicts, schedules are not an issue and consistent commitments no longer exist. This means that any given day can feel like a vacation. It’s a great thing, although much of it gets taken up by looking for drugs, preparing drugs, trying to get money for drugs, or recovering. Still – vacation time!

2. Being comfortable sleeping on a floor – This is a bit dependent on the specific drug (or drugs) you’re addicted to but it’s pretty common for addicts to be seen sleeping in bizarre places, positions, and clothing. Passing out on the floor may not sound good to you if you’re not actively using drugs, but it can’t be that bad if so many people do it for hours at a time. Hey, I once passed out half on a couch and half on the floor while on the phone!

3. You don’t have to bother yourself with family obligations – Not only has most of your family probably stopped inviting you to events because being seen with you embarrasses them, but when invited you rarely show up (see #1 above) so they stopped trying. Besides, not liking to be tied down to specific times, addicts would rather do other things (like drugs) then hanging out with family and having to listen to stories, eat food, or play with children.

4. People don’t annoy you with conversation – Whether because addicts seem aloof or unhappy or because they can smell bad, people seem less likely to engage addicts in random conversations. Of course, this doesn’t apply to other people you meet at your drug dealer’s house or the late-night liqueur store, but those “friends” can often tell you where to get more drugs, so it’s not really a bother (more on this later). Cops also don’t apply to this category.

5. Not having a boss breathing down your neck – Having a boss who can tell you what to do and when to do it can suck. Most addicts can’t hold a job for too long though, so they don’t have to worry about it. Granted, not having a job can affect you finances (as in cause you not to have money), which puts a damper on #1. Still, since you can be comfortable sleeping anywhere (see #2) it doesn’t really matter if you can’t afford a place to live. Besides, if you owe your dealer money, he’ll be breathing down your neck enough.

6. Pesky mortgage, rent, and car payments are rarely an issue – Money issues like rent, mortgage, and such are without a doubt one of the most troubling aspects of living in a capitalistic society. For addicts who have homes and cars, the competition between paying for those or paying for drugs can be fierce (worse if you’re addicted to gambling). Often times, drugs win, which removes the need to worry about it. As listed in the above points, not worrying about these things leaves you free to be on permanent vacation, sleep on the floor, or enjoy not having a boss… or job.

7. You can be late to anything when you’re an addict – Most people get yelled, or at least scoffed, at when late to events but not addicts. As we pointed out above, addicts don’t get invited to as many things and rarely make it at all when they do. Being late is actually a successful outcome for a drug addict. Drug dealers are often late themselves, and while they can be upset if you’re late when picking up, they’ll take your money and give you drugs, which is all that matters anyway.

8. Sleeping in becomes a way of life – We already mentioned that addicts seem to be able to sleep anywhere, but we didn’t mention that they can also sleep in late, or even all day. Meth addicts can crash for days and others simply don’t get out of bed or their room for days at a time. Of course, if you’re a heroin addict or alcoholic and have been using for a while, you may have to wake up in the middle of the night to get a fix because withdrawal can start within a few hours. But then you get to stay there as long as you’d like. Neat!

9. Not worrying about hygiene, looking good or fit – Vanity is for the meek and worrying about things like health, skin, hair, and showers is beneath those who are concerned with more basic needs like feeling good and surviving. You might be thinking already that given some of the above points about lack of work, money, and a reliable living situation, vanity might also be difficult for many in active addiction. You’d be right. The choice between brushing your teeth, taking a shower, or working on your next hit is not one that requires much thinking. Hygiene can wait.

10. Getting a group of very close friends that relate – Like in recovery, addicts tend to associate almost exclusively with others who use their drug(s) of choice. This means that your friends know, and care, a lot about everything you care about. They can recommend good spots to shoot up, places to get rigs, smoke-shops that are open late, and other relevant information most people would be stumped about. Those friends are likely also experiencing the rest of this list, so they can relate! Unfortunately, some of these friends might steal from you, lie to you, or even beat you up because they want your drugs, money, or due to a psychotic break. Nothing is perfect though…

We could probably think of more, but I think that this top 10 list gets at some of the most basic things that active addiction is great at providing. We’d love to hear more thoughts from people who are either still using or those of you who have quit. Family members’ thoughts would also be welcome but annoyingly they usually notice the “bad” things about addiction more often and that’s a bummer.


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More addiction cures: Early promise for Risperidone in crystal meth addiction

July 29th, 2012

A recent open label study found some support for the effectiveness of a Risperidone injection, given once every 2 weeks, in reducing crystal meth (speed) use.

The 22 patients who participated reduced their weekly crystal meth use from an average of 4 times per week to only 1 time per week. The difference between those who were able to stay completely clean and the others seemed to have to do with the levels of Risperidone in the blood.

The nice thing about using an injection as addiction treatment is that it removes the possibility of patients choosing not to take their medication on any given day. Such non-adherence to treatment is very often found to be the reason for relapse.

This study will need to be followed up by placebo-controlled double-blind studies, but given Risperidone’s action as a Dopamine antagonist, I suspect that those trials will also show a strong treatment effect. The promise of medicines as addiction treatment cures always seems great, but I believe that at best, they can be an additional tool to be used in conjunction with other therapies.

The question will be whether the side-effects common with antipsychotic medication will be well-tolerated by enough people to make the drug useful for addiction treatment.


Posted in:  Medications, Treatment
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About Addiction: ADHD, diet, prescriptions, treatment

July 24th, 2012

It’s a new week and you know what that means, another set of relevant addiction research and addiction news! If you care about addiction and addiction recovery, it is important to stay current on the relevant news and A3 is here to help you do just that! Read on and check out the links to see what has been happening over the last week.

The Long-term Impact of ADHD-treating drugsADHD is a behavioral disorder, characterized by inattentiveness and hyper-activity, which affects five to seven percent of children nationwide. Much is known about how to treat it and how the psychostimulant drugs used work, but until now relatively little was known about their long-term effects on the brain. A new animal research from Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, suggests that there may be no serious negative long-term effects on brain development of those individuals taking Ritalin (methylphenidate), one of the psychostimulant drugs used to treat ADHD. These results, which show that it is unlikely these drugs have any impact on drug use or addiction later on in life, are promising since a “sister” study conducted simultaneously at John Hopkins revealed similar results with slightly older primates.

Fighting addiction with a simple diet changeTo start the battle against one’s addiction, look no further than the food on your plate! From his research, Drew Ramsey, M.D. reveals that patients are much more likely to relapse and not get clean when they have a poor nutritional diet. He explains how the processed “junk” food people so often consume has been striped of their nutritional values and instead target the same reward systems in the brain activated by addictive drugs. In the end, the simplest changes may be the necessary ones to breaking one’s addiction.

I-STOP: Stopping prescription drug abuseNew legislation passed in the state of New York has created a new system designed to stop the over-prescribing of medications that are being abused at a rate high enough to kill one American every nineteen minutes. I-STOP, the Internet System for Tracking Over-Prescribing, is a real-time database that shows pharmacists patients prescription history in order to prevent “doctor shopping” for extra narcotics. Lawmakers are optimistic that this system will help save lives and can become a national model.

The Largest Health Problem often overlooked Addiction is the largest disease that often goes untreated. Approximately 16% of Americans over the age of twelve fight addiction; that’s 40 million Americans! More than twice as many Americans struggle with addiction than those who have cancer, and almost twice as many than those who have a heart disease or diabetes. And those figures leave out the 80 million Americans who smoke, drink and use drugs in “risky ways that threaten health and safety”! It is a large-scale problem affecting almost everyone either directly or indirectly. This article summarizes a 586-page report by the University of Columbia’s National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) addressing addiction, one of America’s most ignored health problems, with possible solutions.

The Effects of Decriminalization a Decade LaterEleven years ago Portugal, despite much resistance, decriminalized all personal drug use. This does not mean that they made it legal, but rather those found in possession of drugs would not simply be thrown in jail. Instead they would face a board of experts comprised of a doctor, a lawyer, and a social worker who would determine if the defendant is a casual user or an addict in need of treatment. This approach has seemed to have a positive effect on the drug abuse problem in Portugal. According to a European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction report, the statistics show that the drug use rates in Portugal are well below the European average and half that of neighboring Spain. Over the eleven years since decriminalization, Portugal has gone from having 100,000 criminal drug users to just 40,000 now receiving treatment for their formerly criminal drug addiction. Joao Goulao, President of the Institute of Drugs and Drugs Addiction recently announced,  “There is no doubt that the phenomenon of addiction is in decline in Portugal,” based on his review of the statistics.

NAC: A new, natural treatment for addiction When it comes to treating addiction, there are many different methods, all of which work better for some than others. Recently, scientists in the United States and Australia have been working to utilize natural ingredients to treat addiction. They came up with the antioxidant N-acetyl-cysteine, abbreviated NAC. NAC affects the production of glutamate, which plays a critical role in the brain’s reward system that feeds addiction. Clinical, placebo-controlled trials of many different types of addicts, both substance abusers and behavioral addicts, have showed significant reduction or complete stoppage of drug use while taking NAC. Addictions including tobacco, marijuana, cocaine, gambling, and hair-pulling were all included in the study and had positive results.

See us again next week for more of the latest information about addiction, addiction research, and addiction treatment!


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About Addiction: School, prescriptions, heroin and morality

July 16th, 2012

It’s Monday and you get another great summary of news and research about addiction that have been making noise this week. If you care about addiction and about recovery, you know you want to stay abreast of what’s important and A3 wants to give you just that! So read on..

Recovery High: A new kind of high school: Across the country, new kinds of high schools are popping up called “recovery high schools”. At these schools kids and teachers aren’t just focused on grades, they are helping the students recover from their drug addiction and alcohol addiction. For teens entering addiction treatment, 75 percent relapse within the first year, often due to the return to the environment that facilitated the use in the first place. While the long-term effectiveness of these schools is still being evaluated, they are showing promise; and with the recent passage of the Affordable Care Act allowing for increased options for recovery, don’t be surprised to see these kind of high schools becoming more and more common. To see the video check out this link.

Prescription Painkillers leading teens to Heroin: According to national data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the number of deaths from prescription drug overdose tripled between 2000 and 2008. Experts point to the ease of access teens have to prescription pills, such as Percocet’s and Vicodin, from emergency rooms, dentist offices, and especially unfinished prescriptions in household medicine cabinets as one of the main reasons for the increase. These drugs have been found to at times lead teens to heroin, which provides a more intense version of the same high for a fraction of the price. As a result, in the decade from 1999 through 2009, the yearly deaths of people aged 15 to 24 from heroin overdose shot up from 198 to 510.

Heroin abuse becoming a national epidemic: Heroin use and death is still on the rise, exploding in use over the last couple years, fueled by the Baby Boomers. The Boomers increased use of prescription drugs can quickly lead down a road to heroin; once the prescription runs out or the cost gets too high, the more available, cheaper heroin becomes an attractive option. While its use has been increasing nationwide, the statistics from Oregon this past year give an example of the entire nation’s problem. Last year alone, there were 143 heroin-related deaths in Oregon, a 59 percent increase from the year before and almost the entire nation’s total from a decade ago! Marion County, in particular, has already seen more deaths so far this year than in all of 2011. Heroin is on the rebound, no longer a “dormant drug”, and, with its drastic increases recently, should be addressed sooner rather than later.

Addiction: Disease or moral failing? One of the most common questions regarding addiction is the debate on whether it is a disease or a moral failing.  A recent article by Dr. Marc Lewis addresses the question from both sides. He starts by pointing out the common critiques that “you don’t ‘catch’ addiction”, “you don’t treat addiction with medications or expect a cure”, and “you don’t ‘have’ addiction” like you would “have” a cold or other disease, in order to show why addiction should not be considered a disease. However, he then counters with the comparison to type II diabetes, which fits the mold of the earlier critiques, yet is never questioned as being a disease. In fact, having type II diabetes is not seen as a “moral failing” and it seems addiction is following this path and becoming more frequently seen as a disease rather than a moral failing. Truth is, addiction is likely going to continue being seen as straddling these two domains.

A cautionary tale of Fentanyl addiction: Fentanyl, a new painkiller, is becoming the next in a line of destructive and deadly prescription drugs. According to Dr. Michelle Arnot, Fentanyl is 100 times stronger than morphine and 750 more potent than codeine. The article tells the tale of a man who lost his “perfect wife” to Fentanyl addiction. Prescribed as patches to be sucked on, addicts soon learn to smoke them in order to get a greater effect. Shortly after her abuse began, the “perfect wife” was going through a month’s supply in under a week. This led to pawning her children’s and family’s belongings, turning her into someone no one recognized. One day, her husband came home from work to find her dead. Now, her husband wants her story to serve as a warning to anyone else becoming entangled with Fentanyl.

Helping siblings of addicts: When addiction leads to a fatality, almost everyone who knew the victim is affected. However, they are affected and handle it in different ways. Most people know about the grief parents feel when losing a child, and they are given support and programs to help deal with it. Siblings, on the other hand, have often gone overlooked in the coping process, largely because they do not grieve in the same way as parents. The emotional needs, and even physical needs, of addicts’ siblings can often be neglected in favor of the addict while they’re still alive and in favor of the parents needs after an addict’s passing. Now, programs such as GRASP (Grief Recovery After a Substance Passing) are popping up with the goal of helping these siblings cope.


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