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Impact on Driving May Demonstrate Harm of Legalized Marijuana in New Study

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Thanks to ongoing public service announcements on TV and in magazines, most people are well aware that drinking before getting behind the wheel is a bad idea. However, with the legalization of marijuana in states across the country, more and more attention is being paid to the increasing threat caused by those who smoke weed before driving. A threat to both themselves and others on the road, being high on marijuana is just as hard on driving ability as drinking alcohol, and government researchers are working on studies to verify that with solid numbers, according to USA Today.

Marijuana, Alone and in Combination

Data has been collected on both the effect of marijuana use alone and its impact when combined with alcohol – a common combination. Much like the research done to help decide the legal limit for blood alcohol content, this study will help to determine how much marijuana is too much and where the legal cutoff will be for drivers going forward.

Additionally, the study:

  • Utilized simulators rather than real driving conditions
  • Utilized vaporizers because the research venue is smoke-free
  • Asked participants to consume specific amounts of marijuana or marijuana and alcohol
  • Verified intoxication levels of participants through saliva and blood tests
  • Provided marijuana grown at a federal growing facility

Marilyn Huestis is the Chief of Chemistry and Drug Metabolism at the Intramural Research Program at the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Said Huestis: “In this country, there’s a huge controversy over whether there should be zero tolerance or there should be some level that’s acceptable. It’s a terribly difficult problem. We will be looking at what are the kinds of functions that are affected, and whether they are significantly different … whether alcohol is on board or not.”

Curb the Consequences

The negative consequences that can occur when one smokes marijuana or drinks alcohol before driving represent only a small portion of the impact of continued substance abuse. It’s not uncommon for those who chronically abuse marijuana and alcohol to struggle with:

If substance abuse is causing you problems in your life, the best way to get those issues under control is to stop using drugs and alcohol altogether. Easier said than done? We’re here to help. Contact us at Alta Mira now and find out about the treatment options we offer that can help you jumpstart your personal road to recovery today.

Silicon Valley: Illegal Drug Use on the Rise

case managerFor those who work in the tech industry, pressure is the name of the game: pressure to come up with the next great thing, pressure to outpace copycat competitors, pressure to get on top – or stay on top once there.

According to the San Jose Mercury News, it’s not a challenge that everyone is rising to gracefully. Rather, abuse of illicit substances, including cocaine and heroin as well as legal substances like prescription stimulants and painkillers, is a growing problem among tech workers.

The good news? Many utilize the services of executive rehab programs in order to regain control of their health while continuing to be active in their careers. With the right treatment program personalized to meet the needs of a working executive, a person doesn’t have to lose their career in order to regain control of their life.

Personalized Care

Not every drug rehab program is a cookie-cutter, one-size-fits-all prison that disallows its residents to take part in life. Rather, certain high-end treatment programs with the resources to provide individualized treatment for patients can help those who are still active in their careers to stay in touch at work as they progress in recovery.

Anonymity in Treatment

Unfortunately, in Silicon Valley, there is a great deal of pressure to not only produce incredible results but also to do so rapidly. Many end up staying up for days at a time to complete projects on tight deadlines, turning to crystal meth, cocaine, and stimulant pills when coffee and energy drinks no longer do the job. Though a number of the larger companies offer counseling to employees in need, many who need help fear that they will be found out and don’t take advantage of those services. At a drug rehab program, however, employees can characterize their absence at work as a “vacation” and stay in touch as necessary to maintain their medical privacy.

Sobriety Coaches

Perhaps one of the most effective recovery tools after treatment is the utilization of a sobriety coach, especially for those who must immediately return to their hectic and pressurized work life. Sobriety coaches can accompany the person in recovery to social work events, remain on standby to assist them should they be tempted to get high, and meet with them regularly to check in on their progress. This high level of support after treatment can help to increase the chances of avoiding relapse in recovery.

If you are a “functional addict” and have managed to maintain your career despite an addiction, don’t risk losing it all by avoiding treatment for another day. Contact us at Alta Mira now and find out how we can work with you to get you the help you need to recover.

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.