Category Archives: Recovery Support

Number of Addiction Recovery Programs Increasing on College Campuses

For many young people, experimenting with drugs and alcohol starts during their teen years. By the time some of them get to college, they have already developed an addiction and been to treatment. Some college campuses are responding to this need by offering specific programs for students in recovery, including sober housing.

A college education is considered part of finding one’s self as a young adult and a necessary step to prepare for certain career paths. For some students, it’s their first taste of freedom in an atmosphere where there are multiple opportunities to party and no one to stop them.

Alcohol Use and Binge Drinking Among College Students

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) reports that approximately 60 percent of college students in the 18-22 age group had consumed alcohol in the previous month. Almost two-thirds of those surveyed had engaged in binge drinking during the same time.

Students living with an addiction or those who are currently in recovery may be reluctant to seek help from their school, even though college counseling centers do offer services for substance abuse. This topic is not one that is usually highlighted in information provided to prospective students and their parents.

Time to Provide Help for Students with Substance Abuse Problems

Recovery professionals feel that it’s time to move past the stigma against people living with addiction, along with the perception that hard partying is simply part of going away to college. Providing help for the students who need it can make a difference between moving on to living well and having life cut tragically short.

College recovery programs vary in philosophy, size and staffing levels. Many of them have specific requirements for how long a student must be clean before enrolling; some of them will make exceptions for students who stay clean once enrolled.

Rutgers University, Penn State and Slippery Rock University are among the schools offering recovery housing to students. The University of Pittsburgh and Temple University are considering implementing the idea.

Special Recovery Schools Help Teens Stay Clean

Young people often seem to be at a disadvantage when trying to get off drugs. Less than half of addiction treatment centers in the US will accept teens, and not all of those actually offer programs specifically geared toward clients in this age group.

After a teen completes a course of treatment, there is typically little in the way of structured support. When they return to school, they are faced with offers to start using again from their friends.

When Students Hold Each Other Accountable

Recovery schools, like Hope Academy in Indianapolis, are places where all learners have something in common. These tuition-free schools create an environment where the students hold each other accountable.

The opioid epidemic has affected adults in their 20’s, 30’s and 40’s for the most part, but teens haven’t been immune, thoug. Every day, 1,100 young people in this age group start misusing pain medications. Additionally, overdose rates continue rising for teens as well.

Researchers still have work do to get the full story about the effects of opioids on young brains. However, it is known that starting at an early age is one of the risk factors for addiction, as the majority of adults in treatment for a substance abuse problem say they were teens the first time they started using.

The research does show that adolescents in recovery do better in special schools that rely on peer communities to support students’ sobriety. Currently, there are about 36 schools of this type in the US. Interest in them is growing among educators and health officials due to the opioid crisis.

Drug Tests and Recovery Coaches Part of the Plan

Random drug tests are conducted on students at recovery schools. If they test positive for a substance, they attend a meeting with a recovery coach. During the session, the recovery coach uses tools such as motivational interviewing to ask open-ended questions and reflective listening to discuss the situation and get the students to think for themselves. These young people are not used to having someone say to them, “What do you think you should do next?”

There are times where residential treatment centers simply aren’t appropriate for teens who are abusin drugs, but they still need a change of environment. Resources like recovery schools help provide necessary interventions while being able to keep progressing socially in a supportive educational environment.

gaming addiction

Gaming Addiction to be Classified as a Mental Health Condition

Spending time with our screens has become a regular part of our lives. Some of us even joke that we spend so much time with them, we are addicted to our devices. However, gaming addiction is a very real issue for some people, and experts have determined that it is rooted in a mental health condition.

Therapists and other health professionals have become aware that overuse of electronic devices poses health risks. In 2013, Internet Addiction Disorder was added to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders (DSM-IV).

Gaming Disorder will be classified as a mental health condition in the 2018 edition of the International Classification of Diseases. The list, which is published by the WHO (World Health Organization), will include several additions.

Definition of Gaming Disorder

The draft form of the entry states that if someone has a gaming disorder, they make gaming a priority “to the extent that gaming takes precedence over other life interests.” This is similar to other addictions, whether they include substances or processes.

Lure of Gaming Appealing for All Ages

Most people are able to enjoy video games as a source of entertainment and then return to their everyday activities. Over time, the experience of playing the games provides an escape from everyday stresses and strong emotions. Children, teens and adults can end up turning to gaming as a coping strategy to escape other problems or unwanted situations.

When someone becomes addicted to online gaming, they become disconnected from the real world. Over time, someone in this situation develops a warped perception of real-world interactions; much of their time and attention focuses on characters and story lines in their online game environments.

With the new classification from the WHO and gaming addiction being recognized as a mental health condition, more people will be able to get help. With mental health treatment, someone with a gaming addiction can re-engage with loved ones.

Dual Diagnosis Treatment

We often see people who have process addictions such as this also have substance use disorders of varying levels. This common occurrence is why we have a dual diagnosis program.

diversion program for DUI

How Well Do Diversion Programs Work for DUI Offenders?

Tiger Woods entered a guilty plea in court on Friday to a charge of reckless driving, a less severe offense than Driving Under the Influence (DUI). According to reports, part of his plea agreement includes the golfer entering a diversion program for intoxicated drivers. Many judges, in fact, are turning to diversion programs for DUI offenders. 

DUI diversion programs exist in a number of other states, such as Texas, Pennsylvania, Oregon, Louisiana, Kansas, Indiana and Georgia. Rules vary, depending on the program. Some states, such as Florida, allow local officials to decide whether to offer the program.

High Success Rates Observed

In the past four years this program has graduated close to 2,500 first-time offenders in Palm Beach County, FL. According to Deputy State Attorney Richard Clausi, the official who oversees misdemeanor prosecutions, stated recently that less than one percent of diversion program participants have reoffended.

Mr. Clausi went on to say that the key to this high success rate is having the participants take responsibility for their actions. The diversion programs for DUI offenders accomplish this goal without requiring the participants to go to trial. Instead, they must complete the diversion programs.

How the Diversion Program Works

Woods will spend one year on probation. He will also be ordered to pay a $250.00 fine plus court costs. Woods must also meet the following requirements:

• Attend DUI school
• Perform 20 hours of community service
• Attend a workshop where he will learn how victims of impaired drivers’ lives have changed

Woods will also undergo regular drug tests, since prescription drugs and marijuana were found in his system when he was arrested.

Once he completes the program, Woods can request that the court expunge his reckless driving conviction. If he is ever charged again, Woods is not eligible for the diversion program a second time. As a repeat offender, he would be facing stiffer penalties, including a possible jail sentence, a more expensive fine and a license suspension (mandatory).

One of the greatest golfers in history is attempting to make yet another comeback, as he just announced a tournament he’ll play in this November. Hopefully the diversion and rehabilitation program as well as his surgery will help to have him on track to avoid the self-medicating trap of addiction he was stuck in.

If you or a loved one is struggling with alcohol abuse or addiction, please contact an addiction counselor today at Desert Cove Recovery for help.

sober dorms

Sober Dorms Provide Support for College Students in Recovery

The college years are a time when young people are exploring and finding out who they are, in addition to furthering their education. For many of them, this process includes spending time partying with friends and making decisions about drinking and using drugs.

The results of a 2016 report compiled by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration (SAMHSA) found that 1.2 million full-time college students consume alcohol. The same report also revealed that more than 700,000 students smoke marijuana on a typical day.

Binge Drinking Common on College Campuses

Binge drinking (defined as consuming five or more drinks in two hours for men and more drinks in two hours for women) is a common occurrence on college campuses, according to figures released by the National Survey on Drug Use and Health.

Students who arrive on campus can expect that there will be a certain level of drinking and drug use going on. For young people with a history of substance abuse or addiction, this level of exposure may not be helpful for them.

Significant Percentage of College Students Have History of Substance Abuse

According to Lisa Laitman, the director of Alcohol & Other Drug Assistance Program (ADAP) at Rutgers University, up to 30 percent of college students have a history of substance use disorders. Research has also shown that substance abuse rates are higher for college students than for peers of the same age who are not enrolled in classes.

More Collegiate Recovery Programs Now Include Sober Dorms

Colleges are responding by offering “collegiate recovery programs” (CRPs) to provide help to students stay sober and stay enrolled in school. These programs include:

Mental health counseling
• Substance abuse counseling
• Peer-to-peer support
• Recovery support group meetings
• Sober social activities and programs

A number of programs include sober dorms where no drugs or alcohol are permitted. These are environments where students support each other’s sobriety.

Transforming Youth Recovery, a non-profit organization, says the number of CRPs has grown from 35 to over 150 over the past five years. Approximately 50 have sober living residences for students.

In the wake of the biggest overdose epidemic in American history, it would be great to see every college and university campus to start creating sober dorms in recognition and support for the students who need ongoing help.

vaccine for cocaine addiction

Research Continues on Cocaine Addiction Vaccine

Dr. Ron Crystal, a researcher at Cornell University’s Weill Cornell Medical College, is working on a vaccine to treat cocaine addiction. The inspiration for the project came to Dr. Crystal in an unusual way: As he was walking by a new stand, he happened to see a copy of the magazine, “Newsweek,” with the words, “addiction vaccine” printed on its cover.

The idea took hold with Dr. Crystal. He started thinking about the possibility of linking an addictive molecule, such as cocaine, to a cold virus or certain parts of a cold virus. If successful, he thought, there was a potential to “trick the immune system” into thinking that the addictive molecule was a cold virus. The body would respond by developing an immunity to the cocaine.

How the Vaccine Works

The vaccine induces antibodies in the body. When someone snorts cocaine, the antibodies bind it up and prevent it from reaching the brain. As a result, the user doesn’t experience the “rush” or sense of euphoria associated with cocaine use.

The vaccine would render cocaine ineffective as a way to get high. Without the physical and psychological rewards associated with cocaine use, it may be easier to stop using the drug.

Cocaine Vaccine Wouldn’t Stop Cravings

The cocaine vaccine wouldn’t stop cravings that an addict experiences. A person would still need to undergo addiction treatment to learn strategies for coping with them.

Human Trial Starting Soon

The cocaine vaccine has already been successful in animal trials. Dr. Crystal commented recently that experimental animals can be given a shot of cocaine “and it doesn’t touch them at all.”

Dr. Crystal and his research team are currently recruiting people for a human clinical trial, which will involve 30 participants. This part of Dr. Crystal’s research is expected to be completed next year. If the first human trial proves successful, it will still be a number of years before a vaccine for cocaine addiction is available on the market.

Is a Vaccination for Cocaine Addiction a Viable Solution?

Without more research, it’s difficult to say whether a vaccination will actually help those with cocaine addiction. In the meantime, those struggling with addiction should reach out for help. If you or a loved one are addicted to cocaine, or another substance, contact a professional at Desert Cove Recovery today.

Simple Resource from NIDA Helping Criminal Offenders Avoid Relapse

avoid relapseThe National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) has developed a new, low-tech tool to help prevent relapse for at-risk offenders leaving prison. The Drugs and the Brain Wallet Card (DBWC) is a resource for former drug users who were incarcerated and are now returning to society. It can also be used by those in early recovery in a number of other settings as well. Clients who have participated in a residential treatment program are at risk of relapse when they return home as well, and the threat of overdose upon relapse is very high.

Card Serves as a Resource Guide

The DBWC is a 2-inch x 3.5-inch trifold card. It’s small enough to be kept in a pocket, purse, wallet or a cell phone case. Someone who is in the process of transitioning into society after being incarcerated or after being treated in a residential program can carry it with them.

One of the panels of the card has a space where the addict or their counselor can fill in individual triggers leading to temptations to use or drink. These may include specific places where the person used to go to drink or use drugs. Other triggers may include certain sights or sounds, such as the neon lights from a bar or glasses clinking and people or situations that are not good for them.

The space on the card can also be used to fill in local resources that can be accessed if the person feels they need help. These resources may include a counselor, a sponsor or a helpline. They would include any person or agency that a person who feels they are at risk of a relapse could reach out to for help quickly.

Community Re-entry Means Increased Risk for Relapse

Anyone who is re-entering the community is at a higher risk for relapse. They don’t have the structure of residential treatment program or the correctional institution in this early phase of their recovery, and it takes time to adjust.

The DBWC is meant to be used in tandem with ongoing addiction treatment. More than 90,000 cards have been distributed since it was introduced last December. In addition to the drug information and resources on the card, for many people having a physical reminder with them of their commitment to sobriety can be much more effective than an app on their phone or another similar tool.

Turning Off Stress-Induced Relapse

Stress-Induced RelapseSobriety can be an elusive thing for many recovering drug addicts. Oftentimes addicts will undergo a period of treatment or abstinence and then seemingly out of nowhere, a relapse occurs. These sometimes-frequent spells of returning to drug use can plague an addict and their loved ones until long-lasting sobriety is hopefully achieved. What is it that causes these relapses? And do they have to be part of recovery?

In order to answer these questions, a team of researchers at Brown University and the University of Wyoming created a study that would examine the biology of a relapse. They began by focusing on the kappa opioid receptors (kORs). These receptors are located on the surface of the brain and are the ultimate target of opioids when they enter the body.

Next, researchers moved to a different part of the brain – the ventral tegmental area. This area of the brain reinforces behaviors related to fulfilling basic needs. Basic needs can include eating and sleeping. But in the brain of the addict, this basic need also can include drugs. Through extensive research, the scientists were able to see that stress can induce this part of the brain to excite the kappa opioid receptors, thus causing the person to seek out drugs.

So, while stress is oftentimes a precursor to relapse, there may be hope. That is because these scientists expanded their experiment to show what happens when certain medications are administered to a person who is experiencing stress. After administering norBNI to rats that were abstinent from opioids for some time but in the midst of experiencing stress, the researchers observed that the kappa opioid receptors were disengaged, no longer producing a craving within the rats.

While this research is still new, it does confirm previous studies that have showed that stress is a problem for maintaining sobriety, but these researchers have taken it a step further with the introduction of a potential medicine for treatment. “Ours is the first demonstration of experience-induced changes in constitutive activity of these receptors,” explained the authors of the study.

In addition to treatments like the one above, many more people are also opting for different approaches to dealing with stress in recovery. One growing movement is rooted in mindfulness-based practices, where there are many forms of exercises and meditations that help people become more consciously aware moment to moment, thus having greater control over their actions.

Alcohol Consumption Continues to Increase for Older Women

Alcohol Consumption WomenBinge drinking is a phenomenon most often seen among college students and younger adults. It is usually classified as having 5 or more drinks in a single setting for men, and 4 or more drinks for women. It is extremely dangerous as it increases the chances of alcohol poisoning and risky decision making, which can have a very wide array of consequences, including death.

Now a new study suggests that older women are increasingly participating in binge drinking behavior and are now at a greater risk of developing a dependence on alcohol and suffering from alcohol-related disorders.

Researchers at the U.S. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) looked at data collected between 1997 and 2014. They found that men consumed alcohol at much the same rate throughout these seven years. However, the amount of alcohol consumed by women increased roughly 4% each year. They also found that older women were more likely to increase their alcohol consumption.

This is especially troubling because of the health risks associated with excessive alcohol use among women. “We know that, overall, women are more sensitive to the negative health consequences of alcohol than men. These consequences include liver disease, high blood pressure, stroke, heart disease and cognitive impairment – serious problems – and addiction to alcohol is possible as well,” commented Dr. J.C. Garbutt, medical director of the University of North Carolina Alcohol and Substance Abuse Program.

While there isn’t a reason that has been given for this increased consumption by older women, it uncovers a hole in alcoholism prevention that shows additional populations that need to be reached. There should be no end to the help for substance abusers, from prevention and intervention to treatment and aftercare support. This study shows that we cannot assume that it is only younger people who have binge drinking problems.

If you are wondering if you have a drinking problem, make a confidential call to speak with a counselor at Desert Cove Recovery today.

stop using cocaine

Good News for People Who Stop Using Cocaine

In addition to psychosis, intense cravings, risky decision making, paranoia and depression, cocaine has been shown to greatly increase the risk of coronary artery disease. But, a new study from researchers at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine shows that reducing or abstaining from cocaine use can likely reverse the disease. Although some people feel that much of the damage caused by drug use is irreversible, this seems to validate that our bodies have an innate ability to heal many maladies over time.

Oftentimes when it comes to addiction, the gravity of health, money and family problems looming in the future make it difficult for addicts to remain sober. But, research like this shows that life can get better when a person cuts ties and stops using cocaine.

“In the past, there has been excellent work to uncover the consequences of drug use However, few studies have revealed what happens after drug use stops. Studies of this kind give people hope for a healthier life after stopping drug use,” reported Dr. Shenghan Lai of Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.

Coronary artery disease, or coronary artherosclerosis, occurs when the arteries harden. This prevents oxygen-rich blood from reaching the heart. This condition occurs over many years, and is prevalent among long-term cocaine users. Researchers found that in subjects who significantly reduced or stopped cocaine use altogether, levels of the protein ET-1 began to subside. ET-1 is a causes inflammation and subsequently artherosclerosis. In this long-term study, researchers witnessed the reduction of this protein in all heavy cocaine addicts who stopped consuming the drug.

Research like this is positive news for someone who has struggled with a cocaine addiction and is facing continued health problems because of the drug. Improving the outcome of someone’s dire health prognosis can be an effective way of helping them maintain sobriety. You can read about this and other studies in the Journal of Addiction Medicine.

If you have a loved one who is in need of treatment for cocaine addiction or any other kind of substance abuse, contact Desert Cove today to find out more about our services and how we can help you stop using cocaine.