New Targeted Receptors in Alcoholism Treatment May Benefit Patients in Recovery


The kappa opioid receptor in the brain is the new target of some alcohol addiction treatment studies. It has been determined that this receptor is a key part of alcohol dependence in patients, and some believe that focusing on this receptor when a patient is in treatment for alcohol abuse or addiction is key to helping them avoid cravings, stick with treatment, and avoid relapse for the long-term.

Currently, there are a slew of medications on the market for patients who are trying to overcome an alcohol use disorder, but none of them focus specifically on the kappa opioid receptor. What could new medications bring to the table for alcoholics in recovery?

Pharmacological Assistance

For alcoholics, there is no medication-assisted treatment that works in the way that opiate addicts use Suboxone or methadone to essentially “replace” the addictive substance in the brain. Rather, there are a number of medications that have been shown to be successful in helping patients to crave alcohol less or experience fewer or less intense alcohol withdrawal symptoms during the first weeks of treatment.

Are so-called “detox meds” a viable option for your loved one? It depends. It’s important to remember that when it comes to alcohol addiction treatment – just like treatment for almost every chronic disorder – the following is true:

  • Not everyone will experience benefits using alcohol addiction treatment medications.
  • Even if benefits are experienced initially, their use is not a guarantee against relapse.
  • Certain underlying medical disorders may inhibit the efficacy of these meds or cause side effects that are uncomfortable.
  • Some programs offer alternative methods of treatment that do not include medications of any kind, even non-addictive drugs.

Well-Rounded Treatment

Even if medications are helpful for your loved one in the initial stages of recovery, they are no quick fix, and they aren’t useful for the long-term. Finding a treatment program that offers a comprehensive treatment regime is the best option for patients who are looking to not only stop drinking but also to create a positive life in recovery without alcohol use. A well-rounded alcohol rehab program will offer:

Find out more about what your loved one needs to recover from alcoholism. Contact us at Alta Mira today.

New Test May Help Fight Poly-Drug Abuse

poly drug abuse

A new urine test may be the answer to identifying drug abuse, according to the AARP. The typical urine drug test can identify up to 40 different substances depending on the type; the new test can confirm the use of as many as 500 different over-the-counter and prescription medications.

The drug was developed by CU Toxicology at the University of Colorado School of Medicine where Jeffrey Galinkin is Chief Medical Officer. Says Galinkin: “Polypharmacy, or the use of multiple drugs at once, is the newest American epidemic.”

It’s especially a problem among older adults who often see multiple doctors for different ailments and receive prescriptions from all of them. In many cases, the doctors are not aware of the other medications that the patient is taking which can lead to the use of a dangerous – even deadly – combination of drugs.

Synergistic Effects

Combining medications can lead to a number of issues. Even when either or both drugs are non-addictive, one drug can negate the effectiveness of the other, or they can void each other out. There can also be unintended negative reactions when the chemicals combine, causing even more problems.

Additionally, if the different substances are addictive – for example, if the patient is taking a stimulant medication like Adderall for ADHD but also taking OxyContin to manage chronic pain – the interaction of the two drugs can be overwhelming. Rather than simply adding the effect of one to the other, the two drugs together can amplify each other exponentially. This synergistic effect of addictive substances is one of the most common reasons for deadly overdose.

Treating Addiction to Multiple Drugs

Depending upon the reason for the use of multiple illicit substances, it may be necessary for your loved one to undergo treatment at a dual diagnosis treatment center. Here, your family member will have access to a wide range of medical, therapeutic and psychiatric interventions as appropriate to their needs.

For example, if your loved one is struggling with anxiety and prescribed Xanax for treatment but is also hooked on prescription painkillers, then dual diagnosis rehab will be able to provide her with treatment for the underlying anxiety as well as addiction. This double-barreled approach to treatment means that your family member is able to heal on both fronts at the same time, a practice that increases her chances of successfully avoiding relapse in recovery.

If you believe that your loved one would benefit from an intensive, evidence-based treatment program for drug dependence, contact us at Alta Mira today.

Should Smoking Cessation Treatment Be Included in Alcohol Rehab Programs?

An estimated 80 percent of alcoholics and those who abuse alcohol chronically smoke cigarettes, and most people in this number are addicted to nicotine. Though nicotine addiction is deadly, treatment for smoking cessation is not usually included in an alcohol rehabilitation program.

Why not? It’s certainly as deadly as drinking. Isn’t it as important to stop smoking as it is to stop drinking?

Myths About Smoking and Alcohol

There are a number of myths circulating about the connection between smoking and alcohol abuse and whether or not it is advisable to attempt to treat both issues at the same time. Some say that trying to quit smoking will decrease the likelihood of success in recovery from addiction. Others say that smoking is not as deadly as alcohol addiction and therefore doesn’t require immediate attention.

Still others say that patients in recovery don’t want to quit smoking, and it may end up stopping them from seeking the help they need to overcome alcoholism if the two programs were intertwined.

The Truth About Smoking

The fact is that all those myths are wrong. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), an estimated 80 percent of alcoholics in treatment who are also smokers would like to quit smoking.

Additionally, the NIAAA reported that smoking is just as dangerous as alcohol abuse. Mortality rates show that more alcoholics die of smoking-related diseases than alcohol-related disorders. Also, there is no evidence to support the idea that it is more difficult to beat alcoholism in recovery when smoking cessation treatment is part of the program.

A Clean Slate

When struggling with both a nicotine addiction (e.g., cigarettes, smokeless tobacco, e-cigarettes, etc.) and an alcohol use disorder (e.g., alcoholism, alcohol abuse, or binge drinking) it is possible to overcome both – at the same time – and come out of rehab with a clean slate. Leaving behind addiction to every substance means:

  • Increased energy
  • Improved immune system, which translates into better health
  • Improved ability to manage symptoms of chronic health disorders
  • Improved mood
  • Increased ability to manage co-occurring mental health symptoms, if necessary
  • Improved finances
  • Improved employability

Everything about your life gets better when you are free from addiction, and managing life in recovery becomes easier as well. Finding positive ways to relax and lower stress that don’t include substance use or abuse of any kind will be the ticket to long-term recovery and stability. Contact us at Alta Mira today and speak with us about our addiction treatment programs and how we can help you start fresh.

Bipartisan Group Works to Fight Prescription Drug Abuse and Addiction

prescription medication

Few things illustrate the depth and severity of prescription drug dependence in our country or the terrible toll it takes on families of all kinds like the fact that Democrats and Republicans are working together to find solutions to the problem. No longer a problem of the upper class, dependence upon stimulant pills, painkillers, and sedatives now takes more lives than car accidents in some states. In response, a bipartisan group of senators is trying to come up with creative ways to address the issue, according to The Hill.

Called the Prescription Drug Abuse Working Group, the goal of the group is to connect government officials, private groups, and the companies that create these drugs to determine how best to limit the number of new patients dependent on prescription drugs and help the current ones successfully break free from their addictions.

Committee Ranking Member Lamar Alexander of Tennessee said in a news release: “Not a day goes by that we don’t hear news of how prescription drug abuse is harming Americans across the nation, including in Tennessee. We are launching this working group to look at the problem from all angles — particularly what the federal government is doing to enable the mayors, governors, and law enforcement and public health officials who are working hard to address the problem.”

How to Help Your Loved One Beat Prescription Drug Dependence

It’s not easy to watch someone you care about struggle under the weight of an addiction of any kind, but when the drug of choice is a medication designed to help treat a disorder like chronic pain, anxiety and others, it can be especially difficult. If you suggest treatment for their drug dependence, it may seem to them that like you are minimizing their medical or mental health ailment. How do you help them through the recovery process when there’s another issue that is causing them just as many problems?

Loved ones are encouraged to support their addicted family member by:

  • Learning about both addiction and the underlying medical or mental health issue that the medication was meant to treat
  • Helping them find alternative and/or holistic options for treatment for both disorders
  • Help them start their recovery at a dual diagnosis rehabilitation program
  • Ask their doctors and/or therapists questions to better understand the treatment and how you can be of assistance
  • Consider attending family therapy sessions in order to work through problems at home therapeutically

Start Treatment Today

The earlier your loved one starts a drug rehab program after developing a drug dependence, the better. Call us at Alta Mira now to get started.

The Benefits of Substance Abuse and Addiction

substance abuseCould there be benefits to living through a drug or alcohol addiction? Is it possible that something so damaging to every part of life could have a positive side?

According to a study published in the Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, it may be so. “Positive byproducts” are often the result of tough life events, and addiction is no different. Participants in the study reported that some of the positive byproducts of having gone through addiction include:

  • Increased closeness with others, including family
  • Independence
  • Positive changes in life focus
  • Increased levels of compassion
  • More focus on spirituality
  • More self-awareness
  • Increased ability to help children sidestep the pitfalls of substance abuse

What benefits will your loved one gain from overcoming drug and alcohol addiction?

Personal Addiction, Personal Treatment

Everyone who develops a drug dependence will experiences loss in different ways, and therefore the benefits they experience after going through a personalized treatment program will vary. The opportunity to heal physically and mentally, rebuild relationships and create new ones, and find a new sense of purpose in a life of sobriety can happen uniquely for each person in recovery.

Your loved one may be empowered to:

  • Change careers
  • Rebuild a marriage
  • Rebuild relationships with his children
  • Reconnect with parents, siblings and other family members
  • Rectify legal struggles or financial problems

The possibilities are endless.

Taking the First Step

The benefits of experiencing a drug and alcohol addiction don’t come easily. Addiction is hard, and treatment is arguably even more difficult. Getting through withdrawal symptoms and dealing with cravings during the first 30 months is only the first obstacle. Many patients report that the real hardship begins when therapeutic treatment gets serious and progress is made on underlying mental health issues and/or trauma that drove the substance abuse. It’s uncomfortable mentally and emotionally, and many find that it takes everything they have to stick with it and become stronger in recovery.

A drug rehab program that is multifaceted and comprehensively designed to meet the individual patient’s needs is the first step to ensuring the best chances of success after addiction. There is no better way to give your loved one all the coping skills that he will need as he navigates his personal journey to balance in recovery. You can take the first step in connecting your addicted family member to our treatment program here at Alta Mira when you contact us at the phone number listed above. Call now.

The New Heroin Addiction

Heroin Addiction The old heroin addiction was believed to be the plague of the inner cities, a magnet for junkies who had slowly climbed the ladder of addictive drugs since their youth by first drinking then smoking marijuana, and then experimenting with other “harder” substances.

The new heroin addiction is a problem in rural, idyllic communities and seemingly safe neighborhoods. The victims are not middle-aged “lifers” but increasingly younger and younger people who often don’t fully understand the risk they’re taking with their lives.

How It Begins

For many living with the new heroin addiction, the problem started with opiate painkillers and quickly spiraled out of control when they were no longer able to fill their prescription either due to the hefty price tag or the increased regulations and vigilance of prescribing physicians. The result is an addiction that is often surprising – not just to objective observers but also to the addicts themselves.

The harsh reality settles in when withdrawal symptoms become an ongoing problem and no one will fill their prescription. Many feel forced to turn to the street where they can get heroin much more easily and for less money than their usual pills. In these cases, heroin addiction is just a continuation of a dependence that began with well-meant use of opiate painkillers.

In other cases, opiate addiction starts with experimentation or casual use. Someone may use “leftover” pills from a prescription to self-medicate a headache or escape a tough day. With repeated use, this behavior can lead to a dependence that requires treatment.

How It Must End

Both heroin and opiate painkillers are equally deadly. Each comes with its own risks and dangers, as well as dangers shared by all opiate addicts no matter their substance of choice. Patients who abuse heroin risk:

  • Contracting hepatitis C or HIV if they share needles with an infected person
  • Abscesses at injection site
  • Infections
  • Cardiac problems
  • Respiratory failure
  • Overdose
  • Death

Without treatment, a heroin addict will likely die of an issue related to their addiction. It is practically unavoidable. Whether it is an overdose, an accident under the influence, or an illness caused or worsened by heroin use, heroin will kill its victims. Intensive, evidence-based treatment is the only way to survive the disease.

Get the Treatment That Will Help Your Loved One Heal Today

Extensive resources, educated and experienced staff members, personalized treatment, and long-term recovery support – these are just a few of the essentials that you should look for in your loved one’s heroin rehab program. Contact us at Alta Mira today to find out how our comprehensive addiction treatment program can help your addicted family member begin the healing process.