Category Archives: Drug Abuse

Young Adults at Risk for Addiction Show Variation in Key Brain Region

Young Adults at Risk for Addiction Show Variation in Key Brain Region

An international team led by researchers at the University of Cambridge have discovered that young adults who are at risk for addiction show distinct differences in an important region of the brain. The study adds more credence to the idea that a person’s biological makeup is an important factor in determining if they will develop an addiction during their lifetime.

The years during adolescence and young adulthood figure prominently in a person’s development. During these years, someone may start to demonstrate behaviors associated with addiction. These behaviors suggest that people in this age group may be at risk for addiction and substance abuse.

Impulsivity Associated with Addiction Risk

Impulsivity is one of the behaviors associated with the risk of addiction. There are times when a person needs to make decisions quickly, such as when there is a danger and they must take action to avoid an immediate threat. At other times, it’s a better idea to stop and think carefully before taking any action. Impulsivity is acting without considering the consequences of one’s actions.

Most people do act impulsively on occasion, and it’s not uncommon. However, people who are living with disorders such as substance abuse, behavioral addictions, anxiety, depression or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) experience higher levels of impulsivity.

99 Young People Participated in Study

In a study recently published in the journal Neuropsychopharmacology, researchers from Cambridge University’s Department of Psychiatry and Denmark’s Aarhus University found a “strong association” between increased impulsivity in young adults and certain abnormalities in nerve cells located in the putamen. This part of the brain has already been identified as a key region connected with addictive disorders.

Ninety-nine young people between the ages of 16-26 completed a computer-based measure of impulsivity as part of the study. The researchers scanned the participants’ brains with a sequence that can identify myelin content.

Myelin Levels Related to Impulsivity

Myelin is a protein-rich covering that coats a nerve cell. It works in the same manner as the plastic coating that is placed around electric wiring and is needed for rapid nerve conduction between the body and the brain.

The researchers found that people who demonstrated higher levels of impulsivity also had lower levels of myelin in the putamen. This conclusion builds on previous studies conducted with rodents at Cambridge University and at other locations.

Dr. Camilla Nord, of the MRC Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit, the lead author of the study, said that people who show a heightened level of impulsivity are also more likely to experience a number of mental health issues, which include substance abuse, eating disorders, behavioral addictions, and ADHD. Dr. Nord went on to explain that this suggests impulsivity is an endophenotype. This is defined as “ a set of behavioural and brain changes that increases people’s general risk for developing a group of psychiatric and neurological disorders.”

addicted to marijuana

Can You Get Addicted to Marijuana?

Can You Get Addicted to Marijuana?

When a person thinks about substance abuse and addiction, the idea of someone who addicted to marijuana is usually not the first thing that comes to mind. Substances such as heroin, alcohol, cocaine, and opioids are often what a person brings to mind when they hear the words “drug addiction”. However, despite the recent legalization and normalization of marijuana as a socially acceptable substance, it doesn’t take away from the fact that a person can still become addicted to marijuana.

What Does an Addiction to Marijuana Look Like?

The notion that someone can become seriously addicted to marijuana may seem silly to many individuals, as the substance is often viewed as a harmless substance in relation to harder drugs, such as heroin or cocaine. However, the fact that it’s practically impossible to experience a lethal overdose from marijuana doesn’t mean it’s impossible to develop a serious dependence which may require professional help.

Although marijuana has become a more mainstream substance that has lost much of its taboo status, it doesn’t take away from the fact that marijuana can still be a substance which people can become dependent upon. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, approximately 30 percent of marijuana users have some degree of marijuana use disorder. For those individuals who use the substance before the age of 18, the risk of developing a dependence disorder is four to seven times more likely. This fact highlights the risks for individuals who decide to use marijuana before they reach adulthood.

Someone who is addicted to marijuana is likely to experience some level of withdrawal symptoms when they are not under the influence of the drug. These symptoms can be things such as increased irritability, decreased appetite, difficulties with sleep, and other forms of physical discomfort as a result of not using marijuana. Dependence occurs when the brain begins to adapt to large amounts of marijuana being consumed, which reduces the amount the of endocannabinoid neurotransmitters produced in the body.

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How Would I Know I’m Addicted to Marijuana?

A person will know they are addicted to marijuana when they begin to rely on the substance in order to function on a day-to-day basis. If a person believes they are incapable of facing normal, everyday tasks without being under the influence of marijuana, it is a likely indication that they are dependent upon this substance. The number of people with some form of a marijuana use disorder has risen in recent years, perhaps in large part due to the increased availability and new legal status in many states. In 2015, according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, there were approximately 4 million individuals in the United States with a marijuana use disorder.

The Similarities Between Marijuana Addiction and Other Forms of Substance Dependence

Many people tend to brush off the idea that being addicted to marijuana can be anywhere close to having a dependence to things such as opioids or heroin, but there are certainly a few similarities to become aware of. Much like how a person may be prescribed opioids for pain and become addicted to this substance, an individual may end up finding themselves addicted to marijuana after they began to use the drug for medicinal reasons. Individuals often begin using marijuana for its medicinal benefits, but may end up abusing the substance purely to get high.

Like many other forms of serious addiction, a dependence on marijuana can progress from a harmless and innocent attempt at treating a specific condition to becoming an unhealthy habit that is hard to avoid. A person may believe they are in control of their use and can stop at any time, but in reality they may be unable to stop without experiencing some level of withdrawal. A marijuana addiction can impact many facets of a person’s life and compound other difficult areas in one’s life. Without a doubt, an addiction to marijuana is an unfortunate reality which can become a serious problem if not properly addressed.

Getting Help for Marijuana Addiction or Dependence

Overcoming an addiction to marijuana can feel incredibly challenging, especially if you’re going it alone without any outside support. If you’re seeking support to make this important self-transformation a reality and are looking for an excellent addiction treatment center, contact Desert Cove Recovery today. Our trusted team will help guide you through the rehab process, working side-by-side with you to create a treatment plan that works. We can help you live a life free from addiction and empower you to become your best self.

 

er missing opportunity to send overdose patients to addiction treatment

ERs Missing Opportunity to Send OD Patients on to Addiction Treatment

In spite of the current opioid crisis that has been making headlines on a regular basis, Emergency Room (ER) doctors and staff have been missing opportunities to refer overdose patients to addiction treatment. The results of a recent study conducted on Medicaid claims in West Virginia indicate the health care system “doesn’t seem to be set up” for referring patients to further help.

Hospital Codes for Opioid Poisoning Examined During Study

The researchers examined insurance claims made for 301 people who overdosed in the years 2014 and 2015. By analyzing the hospital codes used for opioid poisoning, they were able to follow the treatment the patients received. The researchers were specifically looking to see whether the patients were billed in the months following their ER visit for health care services such as:

  • Counseling or mental health care
  • Opioid counseling visits
  • Prescriptions for psychiatric drugs (anti-depressants, anxiety medications, etc.)
  • Prescriptions for substance abuse medications

As a result of their work, the researchers found that less than 10 percent of the patients received (per month) substance abuse medications such as buprenorphine. Since methadone isn’t covered by West Virginia Medicaid, it wasn’t included in the study.

In the month the overdose occurred, about 15 percent of the patients received mental health counseling. In the 12 months after the overdose, that number had dropped to lower than 10 percent of patients per month.

Researchers Expected More Addiction Treatment for Overdose Patients

Neel Koyawala, a second-year medical student at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore, the lead author of the study, said that the researchers “had expected more…especially given the national news about opioid abuse.”

Andrew Kolodny, the co-director of Opioid Policy Research at the Heller School for Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University, said that resources should be focused on getting patients who have experienced nonfatal overdoses into treatment.

He compared the situation to someone coming into the ER with a heart attack. Patients and their families take for granted that heart medication and a referral to a cardiologist will be provided when the patient is discharged. Kolodny wants to see patients who come to the ER with an overdose to get started on buprenorphine in the hospital and receive a referral to some type of addiction treatment when they leave.

Both Kolodny and Koyawala point to a combination of lack of training and understanding among health care professionals for what continues to happen to overdose patients after they are stabilized.

Dr. Matt Christiansen, an assistant professor at Marshall University Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine’s Department of Family & Community Health, stated that [a substance abuse patient’s] risk of overdose is the same the day after as it was on the day of an overdose.

Number of Donor Organs Carrying Hepatitis C Rising Due to Opioid Crisis

The opioid epidemic has triggered a hardship that most people likely haven’t thought of: A higher number of donated organs are infected with the hepatitis C virus.

Dr. Winston Abara, a hepatitis researcher at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), explains that as the number of drug overdose deaths and acute hepatitis infections increases, young people are most affected. These are the people who are most likely to be eligible organ donors.

Opioid Users Considered Increased Risk Donors

In the years 2010-2017, the number of organs obtained for transplant obtained from “increased risk” donors (people at risk of hepatitis due to drug abuse) tripled, according to the results of a new study published in the January 25 edition of CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

In 2010, approximately nine percent of donor organs came from people in this category. By 2017, that number had jumped to over 26 percent, according to Dr. Abara’s team.

The number of organs obtained from people who died as the result of “drug intoxication” tripled as well. They climbed from just over four percent in 2010 to over 13 percent by 2017, according to CDC researchers. Organ donor deaths linked to injected drugs like heroin increased fivefold during the same period.

This is concerning, since tainted needles are a prime source of infection with hepatitis C, which can lead to liver disease, a potentially fatal condition, over time. Due to advances in medical care, donor kidneys, along with livers and other organs can now be used for transplant and may save potentially save the lives of the thousands of people on waiting lists.

Medications Available to Treat Hep C in Transplant Recipients

Powerful new medications exist to rid the body of hepatitis C and render the transplant viable. The transplant recipient would be screened after receiving the donor organ. If a hepatitis C infection is diagnosed, the donor organ recipient is offered antiviral treatment.

Dr. David Bernstein, a liver specialist, stated that understanding whether an organ donor has a history of addiction is essential. He said that when that knowledge is available, organ recipients and their doctors can be notified and screened after transplant surgery.

Xanax, Valium Abuse Increasing, According to US Survey Data

Approximately 20 percent of people who take Xanax, Valium and other benzodiazepines (benzos) are not using them as directed by their doctor, according to the results of a US survey. The results also show that adults are using this potentially-addictive medication more than twice as often as previously reported.

Nearly 13 percent of those surveyed said they had used benzos within the past 12 months.Studies conducted in 2013-14 estimated that four-six percent of adults were taking them.

What are Benzodiazepines?

Benzodiazepines are prescribed by doctors to treat anxiety and panic attacks, along with insomnia. Drugs in this class commonly produce a sedative effect in patients and can also cause weakness or unsteadiness.

Approximately 25.3 million adults stated they used benzodiazepines as prescribed by their doctor during the past year. The researchers said they were surprised to discover that middle-aged respondents (between ages 50-64) are taking benzodiazepines more often than any other age group. Just over 14 percent reported they had used this class of drugs during the previous year.

Another 5.3 million respondents said they had misused their medications. Misusing a prescription means using it in a way other than directed by a doctor, including taking a higher dose, taking it more often or longer than prescribed.

Benzodiazepine Misuse Common Among Young Adults

Lead researcher Dr. Donovan Maust commented that young adults in the 18-25 age group are most likely to misuse benzodiazepines. He is an assistant professor at the University of Michigan’s Department of Psychiatry. Dr. Maust said that misuse for this type of drug is “as common as prescription use,” which he described as being disturbing.

Overdose Deaths due to Benzos “Snowballed” in Last 10 Years

These survey results, which were published in the journal Psychiatric Services, are similar to reports released earlier in 2018 which warned that overdose deaths related to benzodiazepines have snowballed over the past decade. The overdose rate coincides with a steady increase in prescription rates for this class of drugs.

Benzodiazepine-related overdoses increased sevenfold in the years 1999-2015, jumping from 1,135 to 8,791 deaths. These figures originally appeared in the New England Journal of Medicine (February 2018).

fentanyl in other drugs, fentanyl overdoses

Fentanyl in Other Drugs Leading to an Increase in Fentanyl Overdose

Fentanyl in Other Drugs Leading to an Increase in Fentanyl Overdoses

If you’ve read any articles lately or turned on the news, chances are you’ve heard much discussion about fentanyl and fentanyl overdoses. Fentanyl overdoses becoming more and more of an issue. People are discovering fentanyl in other drugs, much to the surprise of the user, leading to tragic consequences. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the number of fentanyl-related deaths reached 30,000, the sharpest increase of all drug-related overdoses.

What is Fentanyl?

Fentanyl is described as a powerful synthetic drug that is 50 to 100 times more potent than heroin or cocaine. Fentanyl and its analogs are part of a class of drugs known as rapid-acting synthetic opioids. They can be used to treat severe pain or to help manage pain after surgery. Opioids create euphoria through the brain which is why fentanyl can become very addictive. Even those who are prescribed the drug for pain management can easily become dependent if they’re not careful.

In no way should fentanyl and any other opioids be used for anything else, but the truth is that people are getting their hands on the drug and adding it to other illegal substances with deadly consequences.

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How Fentanyl is Appearing in Other Drugs

Fentanyl can be manufactured into a white powder that is virtually impossible to distinguish between drugs like cocaine and heroin which is why many users can not even detect it. While heroin comes from the opium poppy plant, making the plant necessary to make the drug, fentanyl can be made in a lab, which may be a major reason why its use is becoming more and more rampant. Fentanyl can be lethal in doses as small as two milligrams.

Because of the way synthesized fentanyl can be made, it is becoming easier for drug cartels to produce and it and is why users are finding fentanyl in other drugs. This is leading to many people overdosing on fentanyl without even realizing they took it. Fentanyl can be diluted and also re-cut, allowing drug dealers to mix it with other drugs like heroin and cocaine. A user will not realize it until it may be too late. These facts are what are contributing to what is now being referred to as an opioid crisis in the United States.

The New York City Health Department notes that someone dies of a drug overdose every seven hours in the city. In 2017, opioids were involved in 80 percent of those deaths. While opioid and fentanyl overdoses have been seen in the past, they have never been seen in this type or quantity. This disturbing trend is what is contributing to the epidemic.

Fighting Fentanyl Overdoses

Fentanyl overdoses and the opioid crisis were recognized by the White House in 2017 as a Public Health Emergency. This directs federal agencies to provide more grant money to fight the epidemic.

Many first responders have also been armed with Narcan (brand name for the drug Naloxone) to help treat those who are experiencing an opioid overdose. The drug works quickly by binding to opioid receptors to reverse the effects of the drug. Typically its effects can be felt within five minutes of administering the drug. While naloxone can be given as an inhalant, it is usually given as an injectable by emergency responders. The goal is to get the patient breathing normally once again.

While naloxone can provide a quick fix and can help save the life of someone overdosing, in order to prevent future fentanyl overdoses and overcome addiction, rehab is needed. Drug addiction is often caused by deep-rooted problems that need to be addressed at their core.

In order for someone to fight their addiction, many times a detox program is first needed so that the patient can begin the rehab process. This is best done under the supervision of a trained medical team. At Desert Cove Recovery, patients are evaluated to see if detox is needed. If so, recommendations are made for detox with one of Desert Cove’s partners.

Other forms of rehab can include a 12-step process that lets each patient go through individual and group therapy to get them on the road to sobriety. Patients learn the skills they need to live a happy and healthy life without the use of drugs. Holistic treatment, outdoor therapy, and extended care are also provided at Desert Cove Recovery. Once you make the decision to get the help you need, the staff will recommend the best treatments for your addiction.

If you’re ready to get started on your journey to sobriety, contact Desert Cove Recovery today and speak to a highly trained member of our staff or fill out an online form. Help is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, year-round.

Survey on Opioids in the Workplace Shows Impact on Employers

The results of a survey conducted by The Hartford, a leading property and casualty insurance company, have found the current opioid epidemic is having a “tangible and growing impact” on employers across the US. The survey also found that a majority of Human Resources (HR) professionals and workers feel they don’t have the knowledge or resources necessary to deal with addiction.

Companies of All Sizes Participated in Opioid Survey

Two thousand workers and 500 HR leaders participated in the national survey, which collected responses from companies of all sizes.

• Two-thirds of HR professionals (67 percent) said their company is being impacted by opioid use today, or will be in the future.
• Just under two-thirds of the HR professionals (65 percent) revealed that opioid addiction is impacting their company financially.

Employees, HR Staff Feel Unprepared for Substance Use Problems

The Hartford survey is an opportunity for employers to provide addiction education materials to workers, as well as develop and implement consistent policies and procedures regarding drug misuse.

• Many employees (76 percent), as well as HR professionals (64 percent), don’t feel they are well trained when it comes to helping co-workers who have an opioid addiction issue.
• When asked if they could spot the signs of an opioid addiction, 24 percent of HR professionals and 18 percent of employees felt extremely or very confident they could.
• Nineteen percent of HR professionals and employees feel they are extremely or very knowledgeable about how to reduce the risk of opioid addiction.

Survey Methodology

The Opioids in the Workplace survey was conducted with an online research panel on August 9-15, 2018. A representative sample of 2,500 US adults from across the nation was divided into two groups. Two thousand full and part-time workers and 500 participants with an HR role answered questions.

The margin of error for the first group is +/-2.2 percent at the 95 percent confidence level. For the second group, the margin of error is +/-4.4 percent at the 95 percent confidence level.

report on substance abuse, alcohol abuse

Report on Substance Use: Alcohol Holds No. 1 Spot

Reports about the opioid crisis and drugs fentanyl, carfentanil and heroin have dominated recent headlines. During the years 200-2016, the number of lives lost to opioids has more than quadrupled. Though opioids have taken up a lot of our collective attention during the first part of the twenty-first century, it would be a mistake to ignore another addictive substances that have had a negative impact on people’s lives: alcohol.

A new report released from the California Health Care Foundation looked at substance use disorders in California. It examined the impact of alcohol, opioid and other substance use over time. Although this particular report was specific to California, the figures are a fair representation for situations in Arizona and nationwide as well.

Key Findings from Substance Abuse Report

The report, entitled “Substance Use in California: A Look at Addiction and Treatment,” has several key findings, including:

  • Alcohol use disorder was the most common type of substance use disorder among California residents. Approximately six percent of Californians met the criteria for alcohol dependence. Three percent of state residents met the criteria for dependence on illicit drugs.
  • Experimenting with drugs and alcohol is likely to start during the adolescent years. By the time they reach Grade 11, over half of students in California have tried alcohol and close to 40 percent have tried marijuana.
  • Young adults (aged 18-25) were most likely to develop substance use disorders, with the likelihood close to twice the state average.
  • The number of Emergency Department visits related to heroin in California has tripled during the years between 2006-2017.
  • Alcohol was responsible for more nonfatal Emergency Department visits in California than all other drug diagnoses combined.

Substance Abuse Disorders Treatable

Substance use disorders, including alcohol use disorder, can be treated and managed. Like other chronic illnesses, the risk of relapse is a real and ongoing one. Behavioral therapy helps people with substance use disorders change unhealthy coping mechanisms for new ways of dealing with destructive behaviors. Medications can be used to control cravings for opioids and alcohol and reduce the physical reward a user experiences when they are ingested.

Naltrexone is among the most common medications, which is used in many different forms. Vivitrol is an monthly injectable version of naltrexone that is often used to help fight cravings.

Marijuana Use, Alcohol Abuse Lead to Accelerated Brain Aging

The results of one of the largest brain imaging studies have found the largest drivers of brain aging. Marijuana use and alcohol abuse are among the top things that lead to brain aging. Schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) round out the top five factors that drive premature brain aging.

Substance Abuse Research Collaborative

brain agingThe study, which was conducted by researchers at Google, Amen Clinics, John’s Hopkins University, and the University of California, Los Angeles and the University of California, San Francisco, looked at 62,454 brain scans of more than 30,000 people ranging in age from nine months to 105 years. Researchers examined “regional cerebral flow in the brain” and how it’s reduced when a person experiences different disorders.

The results of the study were published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease. Dr. Daniel G. Amen, a psychiatrist and the study’ lead author, stated that the marijuana abuse result was “especially important,’ since we are looking at it as being a harmless substance. He said that the study results should make people pause to think about that.

Marijuana abuse was found to age the brain by 2.8 years, according to the scientists. Alcohol abuse ages it by 0.6 years, ADHD ages it by 1.4 years and bipolar disorder causes the brain to age by 1.6 years. Schizophrenia makes the brain age by an additional four years.

The researchers looked at 128 regions of the brain to determine a patient’s chronological age. When brain scan age didn’t match the patient’s chronological age, the researchers determined accelerated aging had occurred.

Marijuana Causes Brain Aging

The Center for Brain Health at the University of Texas at Dallas referred to a similar study that compared marijuana use to brain aging and development. It described how people who started using marijuana at the age of 16 (or younger) had different forms of brain development. When people waited until after the age of 16 to start using marijuana, the scientists found the opposite effect; they experienced accelerated brain aging.

Dr. Francesca Filbey from the Center for Brain Health stated that studies show that when someone starts using marijuana results in very different effects.

pregnant opioid addicts

Number of Pregnant Opioid Addicts Surged Over Last 15 Years

The results from a new report released from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report shed light on the continued effects of the opioid epidemic on a specific portion of the population: pregnant women. The researchers found that the number of women living with opioid use disorder at the time they went into labor and delivered their babies “more than quadrupled” during the 15-year period between 1999-2014.

Opioid Addiction Leads to Other Health Issues

Opioid addiction is responsible for a number of health problems. It can take a toll on a user’s physical and mental health, as well as her personal relationships. According to statistics collected by the CDC, opioids (which include prescription pain medications and illicit drugs such as heroin) were responsible for taking the lives of more than 42,000 people in 2016, a record level for fatalities.

Opioid use at addiction levels during pregnancy has been linked to several negative health consequences for mothers and babies. The drug use can lead to preterm birth, stillbirth and neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS), a term describing a group of conditions caused when a fetus goes through withdrawal from certain drugs before birth.

National Database Analyzed

Researchers analyzed a national database collected on women from 28 states and discovered the rate of opioid use disorder jumped from 1.5/1000 delivery hospitalizations in 1999 to 6.5/1000 delivery hospitalizations in 2014. The rate increased by 0.39 cases per 1,000 during each year of the study.

Some geographical differences were noted during the study. The average annual increases were highest in West Virginia, Vermont, New Mexico and Maine. They were lowest in Hawaii and California.

Wanda Barfield, MD, Rear Admiral, US Public Health Service (USPHS), and the Director of the Division of Reproductive Health, explained that even in states with the smallest increases year over year, more pregnant women with opioid use disorder are being seen in labor and delivery.

Strategies for Dealing with Opioid Addiction in Pregnancy

The report included strategies for states to take on the issue of opioid addiction in pregnancy.

  • Ensure opioid prescribing is in line with the CDC’s current guidelines
  • Intensify prescription drug monitoring programs.
  • Institute a policy of substance use screening at the first prenatal visit.
  • Make certain that pregnant women with opioid use disorder have access to MAT (medication assisted therapy) and other addiction treatment services.
  • Provide mothers with opioid use disorder with postpartum care that includes substance abuse treatment, mental health treatment, relapse prevention and family planning services.