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White House Drug Control Strategy Provides a New Plan of Attack Against Drug Abuse

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The White House is not ignoring the problem with drug and alcohol abuse in this country, and the trend toward legalization of marijuana among the states isn’t going unnoticed. They recently released the 2014 and outlined a plan of attack to help get the ever-growing problem of substance abuse in the US under control.

Opiate Abuse, Addiction, and Overdose

One of the major points of focus is naloxone, an anti-overdose drug commonly used by emergency medical personnel to help a patient in crisis to survive an opiate overdose. The goal is to put this life-saving medication into the hands of as many people as possible.

Michael Botticelli is the Acting Director of National Drug Control Policy. In a White House blog post, he said: “The widespread use of naloxone in the hands of law enforcement, firefighters and emergency medical personnel will save lives. It can also serve as a critical intervention point to get people into treatment and on the path to recovery.”

Marijuana: No Change

Federal law classifies marijuana as a Schedule I substance with no medical value and illegal for all uses in the United States. The administration’s stance on the subject hasn’t changed with the new strategy for 2014, according to The Christian Science Monitor. Rather, they point out that there are a number of challenges facing the nation as a result of changing laws, not the least of which is the “the declining perceptions of harm – and associated increases in use – of marijuana among young people.”

No direct assault against the changes was announced either, indicating that the federal government is standing with residents of states where the drug is not legal and taking a “wait and see” approach in regard to how to proceed.

Treatment Over Incarceration

Another priority of the White House’s strategy is to address the fact that a huge proportion of the incarcerated population in this country is behind bars due to drug-related charges.

Botticelli says that the policy “rejects the notion that we can arrest and incarcerate our way out of the nation’s drug problem. Instead, it builds on decades of research demonstrating that while law enforcement should always remain a vital piece to protecting public safety, addiction is a brain disorder — one that can be prevented and treated, and from which people recover.”

As a result, an overhaul of the criminal justice system is called for, with a priority placed upon connecting those who need it with the treatment that will help them change their lives for the better.

If your loved one is living with substance abuse, you can help them to move forward today. Offer them the strategy of treatment here with us at Alta Mira. Contact us now to get started.

Do You Have an Alcohol Use Disorder?

elderly and addictionAlmost everyone drinks. And if you’re over the age of 21, it’s perfectly legal to do so as long as you are not overly intoxicated in public or operating a motor vehicle. But even within these bounds, many develop an alcohol use disorder, one defined by any number of characteristics, including:

Even occasional use of alcohol can result in any of the above issues, so it’s often difficult for drinkers to tell when they’ve crossed the line from normal use into dangerous abuse of the substance.

It’s obvious when alcoholism is an issue, but short of physical dependence upon alcohol, could you have an alcohol use disorder?

Binge Drinking

Many who drink alcohol irregularly are binge drinkers and don’t realize it. Binge drinking is defined as having more than three drinks (for women) or four drinks (for men) in a two-hour period. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), one in six US adults binge drink and do so an average of four times per month.

Drinking on the weekends and remaining functional during the week is one common manifestation of the habit, but many binge drink during the week without even realizing it. For example, “ladies who lunch” often drink between four and six drinks while out with their friends at a normal meal. A drink while looking at the menu, a couple during lunch, another after – this is a binge drinking session and it can add up to inadvertent driving under the influence, a build up of toxins in the system that increase the chance of chronic disease, and an alcohol use disorder as well.

Chronic Alcohol Abuse

Chronic alcohol abuse can come in many forms. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, heavy drinking (or dangerous drinking) means more than seven drinks (for women) or 14 drinks (for men) over the course of a week or more than three drinks (for women) or four drinks (for men) in any given day.

It also means any level of drinking that creates problems in the drinker’s life – financial problems, relationship issues, difficulty maintaining at work, etc. Essentially, if there are alcohol-related problems in the person’s life and they are unable to stop drinking despite those issues, then an alcohol use disorder is likely indicated.

Alcohol Rehab

If you are still unsure whether or not you have a problem with alcohol that requires treatment, you can use an alcohol screening tool or speak to your doctor about the problem. If alcohol is an ongoing problem in your life and you need help to quit, contact us at Alta Mira and learn more about how our uniquely personalized treatment program can help you address your individual issues with alcohol.

Zohydro: Is the Risk of Addiction Worth the Potential Rewards?

PillsOne little pill has been the subject of a great deal of controversy ever since it was introduced to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for approval for the management of chronic pain: Zohydro. A long-acting, extended-release painkiller designed for patients whose pain cannot be managed by other drugs, Zohydro does not have in place the tamper-resistant measures seen in other drugs that are often abused, and many are concerned that it will only fuel the ongoing problem of painkiller abuse in the country.

Since its approval for use in October 2013 and market availability in March 2014, only about 1,000 doctors have prescribed Zohydro, according to The Wall Street Journal. Some of these doctors report success with the medication, saying that their chronic pain patients have a more balanced level of painkiller in their system and enjoy hours of ongoing relief from pain as a result as compared to other pain relief medications.

But others in the medical community are worried that the medication could easily be diverted and thus increase the rate of painkiller overdose deaths and addictions in communities across the US. Is it worth the risk?

Mitigating Harm

Some argue that the new form of painkiller is safer for use among those who need round-the-clock medication assistance to manage their pain. Other pain medications, like Vicodin and OxyContin, combine the opiate painkiller (e.g., hydrocodone or oxycodone) with other pain relief medications (e.g., acetaminophen) that are non-addictive but damaging to the liver in large doses. For patients who take these medications multiple times a day, every day, the dosage of acetaminophen they receive can be problematic and even life-threatening. By providing them with an option that removes the non-opiate pain reliever, doctors believe that they can increase the pain-relieving benefits and limit some of the related harm.

Addiction Risks

It’s true that many people developed an addiction to pain medication after being given a legitimate prescription for painkillers from their doctor. Increased limitations and restrictions on medication prescription plus a crackdown on diversion and increased education for patients have been implemented over the past few years to help mitigate this issue. However, with such a potent medication, accidents do happen and people can slip through the cracks. It’s a big enough and deadly enough problem that family members of those who take prescription pain medication for any reason should take precaution and pay attention to protect their loved one.

If Addiction Occurs…

If you believe that your loved one is struggling with the management of his painkiller prescription and has developed a dependence upon the drugs, it’s a serious issue that should not be ignored. Take action today. Contact us at Alta Mira now and learn how we can help by providing effective and personalized rehabilitation and treatment. Call now.

No Health Insurance Company Covers Medical Marijuana

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Despite the fact that almost half the states in the country have legalized marijuana for medicinal use, it is almost impossible to find a health insurance company that will cover the cost of the “medication.”

If it’s truly a medical treatment, why doesn’t health insurance cover it? It’s a question that has many taking a hard look at whether or not marijuana is truly a viable medical resource, and perhaps rightfully so.

Not an Approved Medical Treatment

Health insurance companies will rarely cover the cost of any medical treatment that has not been approved for use by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and marijuana is as yet an unapproved substance. Additionally, it doesn’t look like it’s going to be approved any time soon. It takes years of multiphase studies that cost millions of dollars to approve a medication for use, and since the drug is classified as a Schedule I substance – highly addictive and with no medical value – by the federal government, researchers must jump through a lot of hoops in order to stage a study and even then must only use the marijuana that is provided by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), another limiting factor.

Cost

Those who use marijuana medicinally are given a card that allows them to buy the substance from approved dispensaries. For those who use the drug regularly, purchasing buds to smoke from plants or marijuana edibles, the cost can be hefty – as much as $1,000 per month, according to the Los Angeles Times. Few health insurance companies want to take on that bill, and the people who currently have insurance but don’t want or need medical marijuana don’t want their premiums to increase in order to pay the cost of covering those who do want the drug.

It’s worth noting, too, that even if the drug were to be approved by the FDA for medical use, it’s doubtful that coverage would be widespread since large companies rarely opt for the most expensive health insurance plan options for their employees, and few single families would be able to afford the cost of a plan that included medical marijuana coverage.

Coverage for Treatment

What health insurance policies do cover, however, is the cost of certain treatments and therapies to overcome marijuana dependence. If your loved one is struggling with marijuana abuse or addiction, your health insurance company may be able to help you cover the cost of the bill for a comprehensive and effective rehabilitation program. Contact us at Alta Mira today to learn more.

Legal Marijuana Illegally Leaking Into Nearby States

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Though Colorado legalized marijuana for recreational use, its neighboring states did not – but that hasn’t stopped law enforcement in these states from finding copious amounts of Colorado’s newest tax-producing product within their state lines. The number of arrests for possession have been increasing in the past year in Nebraska, Kansas, and New Mexico, according to the Los Angeles Times, and the sheriffs of the rural counties that border Colorado have been hit hard – and they’re not happy about it.

Black Market Shift

One of the goals of legalizing marijuana was to eliminate the black market for the drug. Unfortunately, because it is still illegal in neighboring states, it has created a ready source for marijuana trade in these underground markets. It’s a problem for the small law enforcement agencies tasked with maintaining the law in these large rural counties. Often, there are few deputies and too much ground to cover, making it open season for marijuana traffickers who travel in and out of Colorado via the back roads with their wares.

Increased Drugged Driving

The problem of people driving into Colorado in order to get high and driving out while still under the influence is a growing problem as well. So too is the problem of residents of neighboring states driving under the influence of marijuana. In some places, the number of drugged driving arrests has exceeded drunk driving arrests for the first time.

Increased Marijuana Abuse and Addiction

There hasn’t been time to document exactly how marijuana legalization in Colorado has impacted neighboring states. Since we know that arrests for use have increased, it’s likely that use has increased as well. Studies suggest that an average of 9 percent of people who use the drug will develop a dependence upon it, so it’s likely that this increase in use has translated into an increase in rates of marijuana abuse and addiction – and an increase in all the problems related to drug abuse and addiction.

Increased Need for Treatment

Alcohol, marijuana, and prescription drugs: what do they all have in common? They are all legal, they are all highly addictive, and addictions to these substances are all treatable at an evidence-based addiction treatment program.

If your family member is struggling with finding balance with marijuana use, we can help. Contact us at Alta Mira at the phone number above and learn more about our innovative program and how it can help your loved one to get back on track today.

Self-Image in Recovery: Can Looking Better Help You Fight Relapse?

Drug Detox at Alta MiraMany people believe that if you look better, you feel better. In the best of circumstances, it certainly helps to improve mood and confidence to take pride in one’s appearance to a degree, but is it a concept that can help those in recovery to remain clean and sober for the long-term?

The Damage Caused by Drug Abuse

One just has to look at the Faces of Meth campaign to see the physical damage that can be done by drugs and alcohol. Mere months can age the person by years due to hard living. Gaunt faces, dramatic weight loss, scabby skin, lackluster hair – the “after” photo often barely resembles the “before” picture.

Drugs and alcohol are toxins so it stands to reason that heavy use can cause physical damage to one’s appearance. Additionally, few who are living with an active addiction take care of themselves. In most cases, they don’t brush their teeth regularly, take regular showers, or go to the doctor or dentist for checkups – all this can add up to a poor physical appearance relatively quickly.

It can be so bad that simply quitting the use of drugs and alcohol does little to address the problem. Though scabs may heal, scars remain, and it can take quite some time to get one’s weight and vitamin levels back to where they should be.

Improved Self-Esteem

It’s often that people in recovery report that low self-esteem contributed to their use of drugs and alcohol in the first place. When they stop getting loaded and look in the mirror to find that their appearance has hit the skids, many find it impossible to feel confident in themselves on any level. Replacing the destructive behavior of drug abuse with positive behaviors that improve appearance and increase wellness can be a step in the right direction.

One man reports that getting his teeth fixed after years of drug abuse did wonders for his self-esteem and helped him to have the confidence that he needs to remain dedicated to his recovery. Others say that running or exercise has been the key to their ability to avoid relapse. They find the natural high created by endorphins released after exercise to be powerful, and seeing the progress created by their dedication to working out – increased stamina, weight loss, muscle definition – spurs them to remain committed to their new defining focus in life.

Staying Healthy

Though it’s possible to take it too far and begin unhealthy behaviors with the goal of altering one’s appearance, in general, taking measures to look and feel better can help those in recovery to feel stronger and better able to handle stressors without drugs and alcohol.

Learn more about the different coping mechanisms that can be effective in recovery by beginning the journey at an intensive rehabilitation program. Contact us at Alta Mira now and find out more about how we can help.