Category Archives: Treatment Admissions

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).

President Signs Bill to Curb Opioid Crisis

After declaring the US in the midst of a public health emergency in 2017 due to the opioid crisis, The President signed a bill into law that experts believe will help to curb the opioid crisis. The new legislation is called the SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act.

More Funding for Addiction Treatment

The new law provides funding to federal agencies and states so that they can provide increased access to addiction treatment. It also puts measures in place to help alleviate the crisis, such as:

• Preventing overprescribing
• Training law enforcement agencies to intercept drug shipments at US borders

The bill signing was the culmination of a 12-month effort by the legislative and executive branch to react to the opioid crisis. While lawmakers said the bill was a step in the right direction, although many of them said it didn’t go far enough to deal with the epidemic. Rep. Frank Pallone of New Jersey cautioned of ramifications of talk of reducing access to publicly-funded treatment programs.

Congress and the White House entered into discussions for making a plan for confronting the epidemic in October 2017. This was before several congressional hearings by the House and the Senate on the same subject.

Public health experts have spoken out in favor of the bill, since it increases access to treatment. They say this is a critical step to controlling the epidemic. One of the measures in the legislation removes an old measure that didn’t allow clients with substance abuse issues get treatment in mental health facilities with more than 16 beds under Medicaid.

Private Companies on Board with New Initiatives

The White House has also pointed to new initiatives from private companies:

• Amazon has programmed its Alexa voice service to answer consumers’ questions about opioids and addiction.
• Blue Cross Blue Shield, the major insurance provider, will establish a national toll-free phone number to help US residents locate drug and alcohol treatment centers.
• Biopharmaceutical company Emergent BioSolutions will offer free Narcan nasal sprayers at over 16,500 public libraries and 2,700 YMCAs. Narcan, when administered to someone experiencing an opioid overdose, can help reverse the condition.

Treatment Still the Main Focus

What this new law and other efforts do is to help continue to focus on the need for treatment at all levels. This current drug crisis won’t subside until there are enough people seeking and receiving quality treatment for their substance use disorders. Desert Cove Recovery is proud to be a leader in rehabilitation for people both in Arizona and from all over the country.

How Meth Use During Pregnancy Affects Neonatal Outcomes

How Meth Use During Pregnancy Affects Neonatal Outcomes

Methamphetamine addiction is on the rise again in many areas. Meth use by pregnant women resulted in a number of negative neonatal outcomes, according to results from a systemic review and meta-analysis published in the Journal of Addiction Medicine. The review indicated meth use during results in a measurable decrease in the following:

• Infant birth weight
• Head circumference
• Body length
• Gestational age at birth

The review also found that expectant mothers who were exposed to methamphetamine didn’t experience “excessive pregnancy complications” due to their illicit drug use.

Pregnant Women “Vulnerable Population” for Meth Use

Dr. Dimitrios-Rafail Kalaitzopoulos, from the Reproductive Endocrinology Unit, First Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece, wrote that pregnant women are one of the “vulnerable populations” that use methamphetamine. Dr. Kalaitzopoulos stated that data about the effects of meth use during pregnancy is limited, since existing studies have involved only small samples and have not accounted for the participants using other drugs as well as methamphetamine.

The investigators examined several types of materials while conducting their review, including an orderly review of clinical literature and a deep dive analysis of case-control studies. They included studies which compared women who were exposed to methamphetamine during their pregnancy with a control group who didn’t use meth.

Multiple Studies Examined by Researchers

Eight studies involving a total of 626 participants who used methamphetamine during pregnancy and 2,626 women who didn’t use the drug during pregnancy (the control group) were examined and analyzed. The results showed no difference (statistically) between women who used meth during pregnancy and the control group on preeclampsia (high blood pressure during pregnancy) rates.

Dr. Kalaitzopoulos pointed out there was a limitation to this type of meta-analysis due to the methods used to identify pregnant women who used meth. The ones who were recruited into the methamphetamine users group were placed there through a combination of self-reporting and toxicological reports, such as maternal urine tests, meconium tests performed on the infant’s first bowel movement or neonatal urine toxicology. In some instances, self-reporting only was used or taking a urine sample from the infant only was used.

None of these methods is considered ideal. To determine the extent of maternal drug use, all these methods should be used together, according to Dr. Kalaitzopoulos.

Study Finds Obstacles and Delays to Getting Help for Substance Abuse

When patients with substance abuse disorder visit their doctor’s office or the local emergency room seeking help, finding appropriate treatment for them is challenging in many instances. Physicians and treatment center administrators shared their thoughts about the obstacles and delays to getting help in the Journal of Addiction Medicine.

Several issues contribute to gaps in patients getting into treatment programs, according to the study conducted by researchers at Brown University and Butler Hospital. The opioid crisis has underlined the gap between the high need for substance abuse treatment and lack of availability to programs in the US.

SAMHSA Report Reveals Shortfall in Substance Abuse Treatment

A report released by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) states that 21.7 million people living in the US need substance abuse treatment. Only 2.35 million of them receive the help they need at a facility specializing in providing this type of care. There hasn’t been much information gathered at the organizational level about the barriers to treatment for people seeking help for substance abuse disorders.

Major Obstacles and Delays in Getting Help for Substance Abuse

Researchers interviewed 59 people they referred to as “stakeholders in the treatment referral process”. These included emergency room doctors, addiction specialists, drug and alcohol treatment center staff and administrators. When the interviews were analyzed, four major ideas stood out:

1. Healthcare providers may not be fully aware of scope of treatment options.

Providers may not have the knowledge required to determine the best type of treatment for a patient. If a healthcare provider does determine the right treatment level for a patient, he must find a program that is a good match for the patient’s needs.

2. Healthcare providers have difficulty determining patient eligibility.

Each treatment center sets its own eligibility requirements, which may prevent a particular patient from receiving needed care.

3. Providers unable to find out whether treatment centers have space available.

Once a healthcare provider determines a patient needs treatment, it is challenging for the provider to find out whether the chosen center has a bed available.

4. Communication challenges make referrals from emergency room directly to a treatment bed difficult.

Often, there is a delay in starting treatment. Direct referrals, where the patient can be taken directly to the drug and alcohol treatment center, are the best approach, especially for patients needing help for opioid use disorders.

Addiction Treatment Help

Searching for Addiction Treatment Help

Searching for and settling on the right treatment facility can be a daunting task for even the most skilled researchers. There are so many factors that need to be taken into account. How much does the rehab cost? Where is it? Will they accept my insurance? Will they address the other problems in life that may have preceded the drug and/or alcohol use?

Currently there are various ways to look for treatment options, with search engines such as Google being the most prominent, but it is mainly left to the family members or the addicts themselves to try and locate something. This can pose a problem for some families and even prevent addicts from getting the help they need if they are met with barriers such as running into predatory call centers, waiting lists, higher than usual financial obligations and more.

Earlier this month Google made an unprecedented move in this realm by removing paid ads from many addiction treatment related keywords. The problem, though, is that they also are preventing the good places from being able to advertise there as well. The restriction is reportedly being placed on tens of thousands of keywords and may continue to roll out over time.

Aside from going to a search engine, there aren’t many known resources that people can call and get help searching for rehabilitation programs and supporting services. One college professor and her graduate research assistant are seeking to change that, starting with compiling a list of all of their local resources.

The list encompasses all available treatment options for an addict, including hotlines, prevention services, sober living providers, rehab programs, other medical professionals, and more. The hope is that with one master list, someone searching for help can easily access it, as the goal is to streamline the process.

“My hope is that while we’re getting information to learn more about substance abuse and addiction services across [our area], we are also able to capture what the state of mental health resources are and then to provide resources that have been validated and new information,” explained Amitta Parker one of the lead researchers of the project.

However, this is just one local area. In order to provide comprehensive help to all of those in need, a nationwide master list would have to be constructed and maintained. This massive undertaking has been attempted by government entities like the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), but it is far from complete. In fact, many treatment facilities are left off the list and it is unclear how often the database is updated or what other resources are available as a clearinghouse.

The continued loss of lives from addiction makes it clear that we must do a better job connecting up those who are looking for help with the people and places that can provide the services they’re looking for. Maybe Google and SAMHSA could start to work together on such a massive project, and learn a thing or two from these local researchers.

Many Patients Receiving Treatment for Opioid Addictions Still Being Prescribed Painkillers

Opioid AddictionsA new study conducted by researchers at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health revealed a major problem with prescribing practices in several states throughout the country. It was discovered that many patients who were receiving prescriptions for buprenorphine to treat their opioid addictions were also receiving prescriptions for prescription painkillers at the same time.

According to information from eleven states, two in five patients that were using buprenorphine were also being prescribed prescription painkillers. Additionally, it was discovered that 66% of people who had completed treatment were also being prescribed painkillers within 12 months.

This shocking discovery only serves to highlight the obvious need for better prescribing practices, prescription drug monitoring programs and more education for doctors. “Policymakers may believe that people treated for opioid addiction are cured, but people with substance abuse disorders have a lifelong vulnerability, even if they are not actively using. Our findings highlight the importance of stable, ongoing care for these patients,” commented Dr. G. Caleb Alexander, study author.

Many experts agree with Dr. Alexander. Treatment has been found to be one of the most effective ways to overcome an addiction to opiates. However, many people struggle to find a treatment facility that is right for them. This is made even more difficult by the potential changes being implemented surrounding the Affordable Care Act, which helped increase access to treatment for more people.

There are many successful ways of treating opioid addiction, and using burprenorphine (Suboxone) as an aid to reduce withdrawal symptoms and cravings has proven to have multiple benefits. What this study shows is that the healthcare system in America has a long way to go to help fix the opioid crisis that appears to be continuing to escalate.

Who Gets Left Behind if the Affordable Care Act is Repealed?

Affordable Care Act There has been a lot of discussion surrounding the Affordable Care Act. The Bill, passed by the Obama administration (dubbed as “Obamacare”) aimed to provide every American with health insurance and eliminate many of the policies that prevented people from obtaining or affording quality insurance coverage. And while many support the Affordable Care Act and want to see it remain intact, there are others who desperately want to do away with it.

This is such a popularizing topic that President Trump made the repeal of the ACA one of the main issues in his campaign. With the new Administration, many stand to lose vital access to healthcare. According to a new study, people with mental health and substance abuse issues are among those who can get stripped of their coverage.

“We estimate that approximately 1,253,000 people with serious mental disorders and about 2.8 million Americans with a substance use disorder, or whom about 222,000 have an opioid disorder, would lose some or all of their insurance coverage [if the Affordable Care Act was repealed],” explained researchers from Harvard Medical School and New York University.

According to the information gathered by the research team, if the ACA is repealed $5.5 billion dollars will be cut from programs that provide services for substance abuse users and mental health patients. This means that there will be a 50% increase of people unable to obtain quality health care for their drug or mental health problems.

There is still a lot of uncertainty surrounding the future of health insurance coverage in America, and a total repeal of the ACA would be particularly bad news for residents of Kentucky and Pennsylvania. Under the law, these states were able to direct Medicaid funds to pay for substance abuse and mental health treatment. The repeal would eliminate 30-35% of total funding for programs in these states.

There has not been a firm plan presented yet, but people all over the country are anxiously watching. Many are worried that their loved ones will not get the care they need, because there simply isn’t enough money to obtain quality help. Perhaps there can be a better way to generate needed funds for addiction treatment services.

How Much Does Addiction Cost the United States?

facing addiction in americaIn an attempt to really shine a light on the addiction epidemic in this country, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released a report from the Surgeon General about the current state of alcohol and drug abuse in our country. Among the many statistics, it was determined that substance abuse and addiction costs taxpayers $442 billion.

“The effects of substance use are cumulative and costly for our society, placing burdens on workplaces, the health care system, families, states, and communities,” explained Sylvia Mathews Burwell, Secretary, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in regards to the report.

Although a fair amount of money is going into research, there are many who still feel that too much is being spent on incarcerating drug users and reducing the supply when those dollars would be better spent on education and rehabilitation. Many people in the behavioral healthcare field are concerned that political changes could negatively impact the legislative actions in recent years that have allowed greater access to treatment.

It is clear that with record numbers of fatalities tied to substance abuse in the past year, more must be done. This doesn’t necessarily mean spending more money, as it could simply include spending it in more effective ways. There could also be additional sources of revenue collected that providing funding directly to rehabilitation and prevention programs. Ideas for this could including mandatory taxes on certain prescription drugs, alcohol, marijuana (where it is legal) and other substances so that more dollars are going to addressing the problems associated with their use.

After all, the real cost associated with alcohol and drug addiction can’t be measured in dollars. It is the accumulation of heartache, loss, disease and upsets connected to substance abuse that far outweigh the estimated price tag.

If you have a loved one in need of help for substance abuse or addiction, contact us today to find out more about our program.

Tracking The Need for Addiction Treatment Among Age Groups

need for addition treatmentAlthough there may be a larger percentage of people who misuse or abuse substances between the ages of 18 and 25, the more serious levels of addiction are usually reached after the age of 26. Evidence of this is shown in the fact that the highest percentage of people receiving treatment are aged 26 and older.

Perhaps there are multiple reasons for this, such as resiliency decreasing as the number of years go by, while tolerance increases. Therefore substance abusers continue to feel like they need more and more of their drugs of choice and cannot live without them. The eternal dichotomy of addiction is that the substances they feel they need to survive are the very things that are killing them.

That being said, percentages of new drug initiates (first time users) and occasional users are often higher in the teenage and young adult years. There is often a crossroads of maturity and desperation when it comes to addiction. This is why substance abuse prevention programs that actually work are so vital to our nation.

One couple that has struggled with addiction, and only found help as adults, works with other addicts to get them the help they need. Developing a community where other addicts can see that recovery is possible is one way for adults to seek and attain sobriety. “We can go to bed at night and think about all the things we did that day to make our family better. We have the tools to make our lives better and manage them. We don’t need drugs and alcohol to make it better anymore,” commented Stephanie Valenti in a recent story.

For those who are fortunate enough to get into treatment and follow their chosen direction to recovery, continuing on that path takes a lot of work. Recovery support from friends, family and groups can provide a much-needed lifeline.

If you have a loved one who is struggling with addiction, contact us today to learn how we may be able to help.

Illicit Drug and Alcohol Use Linked to Schizophrenia Risk: Study

substance abuse and shizophreniaThe results of new research released at the annual International Early Psychosis Association (IEPA) meeting in Milan, Italy in October. They indicate that illicit drug and alcohol use can increase the risk of developing schizophrenia. The study was conducted by Dr Stine Mai Nielsen and Professor Merete Nordentoft of the Copenhagen University Hospital, Mental Health Center Copenhagen in Gentofte, Denmark, and their colleagues.

In the past, research has focused on potential links between addiction and this major mental illness. Due to limitations in study methods used in previous research, it had remained uncertain whether a link existed.

In the Copenhagen University study, researchers were able to establish a group of more than three million people to study. Of these, 204,505 had substance abuse issues and 21,305 had been diagnosed with schizophrenia.

Study Results Found Increased Risk of Dual Diagnosis Developing Later

The study authors found that when someone is diagnosed with a substance abuse issue, their risk of developing schizophrenia also increases. The risk factors break down as follows:

  • Any substance – 6 times
  • Cannabis – 5.2 times
  • Alcohol – 3.4 times
  • Hallucinogens – 1.9 times
  • Sedatives – 1.7 times
  • Amphetamines – 1.24 times
  • Other substances – 2.8 times

The authors stated, “The increased risk was found to be significant even 10 to 15 years after a diagnosis of substance abuse. Our results illustrate robust associations between almost any type of substance abuse and an increased risk of developing schizophrenia later in life.”

They went to say that it was impossible to state with certainty whether alcohol or substance abuse causes the schizophrenia. People who are at higher risk of developing this type of mental health concern may be more likely to turn to substances to self-medicate. It’s also possible that the same person could be at higher risk for both substance abuse and schizophrenia and develop both conditions. Each of these explanations could be correct, and the relationship between substance abuse and schizophrenia is a complicated one.

If you or a loved one are living with a substance abuse issue and a mental health concern, help is available. Contact us today for more information about our dual diagnosis treatment options.