Tag Archives: drug prevention

pay for the opioid crisis

Who’s Going to Pay for the Opioid Crisis?

Who’s Going to Pay for the Opioid Crisis?

If you were to ask most recovering heroin addicts about their past choices, they would probably say that they would have never touched the drug if they had known the way it would affect them over the long run. When the cravings are at their worst, people will do anything they can to get their next dose, turning to crime to pay for the habit. Addicts often sell drugs to others so that they won’t run out of money, and that is why the heroin crisis is spreading across the nation like a plague.

The cost on society is much higher than most people would suspect, totaling around $193 billion. The government has to pay to investigate, prosecute and incarcerate those who commit heroin-related crimes, but the public pays for treatment and rehabilitation for those who are on public assistance. Also, many people lose their jobs because of their heroin addiction and are required to sign up for welfare programs, which further strains local, state and federal funds.

With the problem getting worse each day, many are now asking who should pay for the harm heroin has done to the nation. Getting everyone to agree won’t be an easy task, but we need to review the facts and find a solution that will repair the damage and allow us to move forward.

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Pharmaceutical Companies’ Role in the Opioid Epidemic

If you follow the trail of addiction far enough, you will find that many addicts once took prescription painkillers. People would get injured, go to the doctor and receive a prescription for opioid medications to ease the pain. After a few weeks or months, doctors wean patients off the pain medications so that they will no longer need them. By the time their doctors stop writing new prescriptions, many people have already become addicted.

Without a legitimate source of opioids, former patients often look to the streets to satisfy their cravings and stop the withdrawal symptoms. Some evidence suggests that major pharmaceutical companies knew about the danger and still opted to push their drugs to the public. Many people think that the drug manufacturers and marketers should help pay for the damage. Those who disagree with the stance say addicts only have themselves to blame.

The Government

Since the people designed the government to protect and serve the citizens, some say that it should pay for the cost of the opioid crisis. Government-funded rehabilitation centers that focus on treatment instead of punishment could have a positive impact on the nation.

Addicts would not fear prosecution and would be much more willing to seek help. Although the government would face some upfront costs, a lot of advocates believe this method is much cheaper over the long run. Critics argue that the government should not use taxpayer dollars to save people from the trap into which they have fallen.

Nonprofit Organizations

When it comes to finding a solution to the opioid epidemic that has already harmed many lives, some people say that nonprofit organizations should cover the bill. A lot of nonprofits have many connections and deep pockets that would allow them to set up treatment centers and cover the cost of overdose medications. Even though some charities offer their support, involving a few more organizations would take their results to new heights. On the other hand, some believe that nonprofit organizations should focus on assisting people who have diseases over which they have no control.

Drug Users

Since heroin addicts are responsible for the situation in which they have found themselves, they should pay for the fallout, according to some people. The argument is that heroin users had chosen to use opioids and to allow their lives to spiral out of control. The ones who don’t agree with that stance state that most heroin users have lost their jobs and homes, making them unable to pay for the damage.

Families of Drug Users

A lot of individuals feel as though a drug addict’s family should pay for the damage the drug addict has caused to society. Since they believe family members should help and support each other, they conclude that they should also pay for medical treatment, overdose medication and other expenses related to the opioid crisis.

From their perspective, family members should have spotted the warning signs and helped the addict before it was too late to find an easy answer. Others maintain that people are responsible for their own choices, so we should not hold family members accountable for an addict’s behavior.

Getting Help for Opioid Addiction

If you or someone you love is battling a heroin addiction, getting help quickly is vital, and we are here to give you a hand. We take time to get to know each client so that we can craft a treatment plan that will provide the best possible odds of success. If you have concerns, questions or are ready to start, contact us at Desert Cove Recovery today.

12 step rehab

How 12 Step Rehab Works

Will 12 Step Rehab Work for Me?

The 12 step method is considered by many addiction experts to be the best help for long-term addiction recovery. However, it is not without controversy.

Keep reading to get a better understanding of this groundbreaking approach and find out why millions of people in recovery still trust it.

How the 12 Steps Started

Alcoholics Anonymous was founded in Ohio in 1935 by Bill Wilson, a recovering alcoholic, and Dr. Robert Holbrook Smith. AA was based on this premise: When it comes to staying sober, there is strength in numbers. Alcoholics from all walks of life began meeting to share their struggles, celebrate their successes and lean on one another throughout the journey to recovery.

The 12 steps were established in 1946. Originally, the steps emphasized the importance of surrendering one’s addiction to a higher power for healing and restoration. AA also embraced the Serenity Prayer, which was penned by the American theologian Reinhold Niebuhr:

“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

Throughout AA’s history, nonreligious people have objected to its heavy emphasis on spirituality. As a result, the language in many 12 step models has been amended to accommodate people from a myriad of belief systems. References to the presence of God are open to a wide variety of interpretations. Even atheists can use the basic principles for guidance.

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12 Step Sponsors

Sponsorship is also an important feature. Newcomers navigate the 12 steps alongside someone who has already worked through them and is successfully staying sober. Sponsors are typically available for questions, intervention or encouragement almost 24/7.

Another benefit is the ability to learn from others who are farther along on the journey. New members can pick up coping skills and tips for avoiding relapse from seasoned group members. There is also a compassionate atmosphere of accountability without judgment.

12 Step for Addiction Treatment

Over the years, the success of AA has spawned hundreds of other organizations for people with all kinds of addictions. Groups exist for those who struggle with drug abuse, gambling, overeating, hoarding and even addiction to using credit cards. The 12 basic steps are applicable to almost any struggle.

Nationwide, membership in groups that use the model is estimated in the millions. Many fellowships cater to specific demographic groups such as veterans, men or women only, gay people, clergy or seniors. You name it, and there’s probably a 12 step group for it somewhere.

If you talk to recovering alcoholics about the 12 step program, you may start to see a funny pattern. Many express mixed or negative feelings about going to meetings week after week or year after year. However, they grudgingly admit that attendance keeps them sober. When the choice is continued participation or relapse, many people choose to stay involved.

What Are the 12 Steps?

According to the website 12step.org, this is the most current version of the original 12 traditions:

  1. Admit powerlessness over addiction.
  2. Find hope through a higher power or higher goal.
  3. Turn the power to manage life over to the higher power.
  4. Analyze the self and behaviors objectively, described as taking a moral inventory.
  5. Share the results of the analysis with another person or the higher power.
  6. Prepare to allow the higher power to remove the negative aspects discovered in the analysis.
  7. Ask the higher power for these negative aspects to be removed.
  8. Make a list of wrongs done to others.
  9. Make amends for those wrongs as long as it is not harmful to the recipient to do so.
  10. Make self-analysis, removal of faults and amends regular practices.
  11. Meditate or pray for the continued ability to recover.
  12. Help others in need to go through the same process.

Each of the 12 steps expresses an essential value for healing. Working through them one by one empowers addicts to manage their disease and regain control of their lives.

Again, there are many alternative 12 step organizations for people who oppose the idea of God or a higher power.

12 Step Rehab

Around 75 percent of treatment programs incorporate the 12 step philosophy in some form. Most experts recommend the 12 step approach as an established, methodical process for understanding and managing addiction.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse endorses the 12 step premise that addiction cannot be cured and that preventing recurrences is a lifelong process. A study published in the Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment found that the 12 step method perfectly complements therapies geared toward changing thought patterns and behavior.

Like many other treatments, 12 step is most effective as part of a comprehensive program that incorporates other proven methods. Here are just a few treatments that can be supported by the 12 step philosophy:

  • Detox
  • Cognitive behavior therapy
  • Motivational incentives
  • Holistic methods
  • Family counseling
  • Long-term aftercare

Most people who have an addiction also have at least one other mental disorder. This is called dual diagnosis. Treating both conditions at once is far more effective than treating them separately. A study of 12 step programs published in the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs found them beneficial in treating dual diagnosis.

If you need help deciding on the best treatment plan, call Desert Cove Recovery today to speak with an experienced counselor.

arizona safe injection sites

Safe Injection Sites in AZ

Safe Injection Sites in AZ

Safe injection sites, also known as supervised injection facilities or “fix rooms,” provide a medically-supervised facility where injectable drugs can be used safely and without legal repercussions.

These safe injection facilities are contentious. Critics and supporters alike have made arguments about their efficacy and usefulness. At present, are no safe injection sites in AZ or surrounding areas, but some states are considering implementing them as a harm-reduction strategy for battling the opioid crisis.

Locations of Safe Injection Sites

Worldwide, there are 66 cities with some form of medically supervised drug injection facility. The first North American location opened in Canada in 2004, and an experimental “underground” facility has been in operation at an undisclosed location in the U.S. since 2013. However, the legality of these facilities is still hotly debated, and only a few states have discussed implementing them.

At present, cities in New York and California are considering opening safe injection sites. Two facilities have been approved for opening in Seattle. If these facilities lead to positive outcomes, they may become more widespread. However, the controversy surrounding safe injection facilities continues to grow.

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safe injection sites in arizona

How Do Safe Injection Sites Work?

The idea behind a supervised injection facility is to reduce the risk of overdose and disease associated with injectable drugs. Opioid overdose kills tens of thousands of people each year and is a leading cause of death. Staff members at supervised injection facilities would have access to the overdose-reversal drug naloxone, reducing the risk of death.

Additionally, reusing and sharing needles can cause the spread of disease and infection. Providing drug users sterile, fresh needles and a way to safely dispose of them should reduce the spread of HIV, hepatitis and other similar diseases. In this way, these facilities are meant to protect public health as well as the health of individual users.

These facilities would also provide information and resources regarding drug rehabilitation and recovery programs. By providing a safe location for drug users to receive health and social services, a line of communication can be opened that may encourage more addicts to seek treatment.

Pros and Cons of Safe Injection Sites in AZ

It’s too early to tell whether supervised injection facilities might become the norm in the U.S. Despite some evidence that these facilities may reduce the overall numbers of drug-related deaths, many opponents simply are not comfortable with allowing illegal drug use to be condoned.

The current administration has tended to side with the “war on drugs,” and many people are in favor of stronger legal repercussions against the sale and use of drugs. Having a safe place to inject drugs without fear of legal punishment may encourage more people to begin using drugs. In other words, the fear of legal repercussions or safety concerns may be preventing some people from engaging in drug use. Removing these fears may actually make the opioid problem worse, not better.

Another concern about these facilities is that they currently illegal at the federal level. Although states can institute these policies themselves, federal law still rules against them. This means that government oversight over these facilities and the drug policy in general will weaken, and laws and regulations may vary between states and locations. This could cause confusion and potentially create safety concerns.

A Multi-Faceted Approach to a Complex Problem

The drug problem gripping the nation is complex, and no single solution will solve this epidemic. Addiction is complicated. It is affected by mental health, socioeconomic status, genetic predisposition and more. A variety of individual and systemic factors create and support drug abuse.

Only a holistic approach that considers the individual needs of drug users and the systems in place to offer support, recovery and intervention can truly provide long-term solutions. Harm reduction techniques may prove to be a temporary bandage for a bigger issue, but exploring the possibilities and analyzing their effectiveness can still help move us toward solving the drug crisis.

There is one thing that is certain: Drug users require resources and assistance to overcome their addictions. Whether or not safe injection sites and other harm-reduction strategies are implemented, drug rehabilitation facilities remain a cornerstone of helping individuals overcome their addictions and reclaiming their lives.

If you or a loved one currently suffers from addiction, contact us for more information about our addiction treatment programs and the work we do with the community in Arizona to aid recovery and prevent relapse.

 

is vivitrol safe for addiction treatment

Is Vivitrol® Safe for Addiction Treatment?

Is Vivitrol® Safe Addiction Treatment?

Did you know that the Center for Disease Control reports that 91 Americans die every day from an opioid overdose?

Would you believe that opioids like heroin, fentanyl and prescription narcotics killed over 33,000 people in 2015 alone?

The CDC states that over 60 percent of overdose deaths are due to opioids, whether they’re prescription pills or street drugs. Opioid addiction is quickly reaching crisis levels in the United States, but addiction treatments are not keeping up with this alarming trend.

The Food and Drug Administration has recently approved the use of Vivitrol®, an injectable form of the well-known addiction treatment drug naltrexone.

What is Vivitrol®?

Vivitrol® is the injectable form of the pill naltrexone. Until recently, naltrexone was an oral medication that doctors would prescribe for both alcohol and drug addictions. The person would be required to take a pill every day in order to curb cravings for opioids or alcohol.

The potential problem with naltrexone pills is the accountability aspect of the treatment. It can be easy for addicts to find themselves in compromising situations and “forget” to take their pill, which undermines their sobriety treatment.

By switching to a single monthly shot administered by a doctor, this can eliminate the temptation of those potentially dangerous situations.

How Does Injectable Naltrexone Work?

At its core, naltrexone is what is known as an antagonist, or blocking, medication. The medication works by binding itself to the same receptors in the brain that an opioid molecule would typically bind to. The difference is that naltrexone does not provide the dopamine release, or “high,” that comes when an opioid binds to the receptor instead.

This means that the medication creates a barrier to block opioid molecules from binding to those receptors, which takes away all of the reward an addict would typically get from using his or her drug of choice. This helps to retrain the brain’s craving signals and prevent relapse while the person is in recovery.

It’s important to note that Vivitrol®, or any naltrexone can only be taken after a full detoxification has been completed. Attempting to take this type of medication before fully detoxing is dangerous.

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is vivitrol safe

Is Vivitrol® an Effective Treatment for Addiction?

While no treatment yet has a perfect success rate, Vivitrol® can be immensely helpful for some people. The accountability and single dose both help to make the treatment process as successful as possible.

What About Potential Side Effects of Vivitrol®?

As with any medication, there are potential side effects to using Vivitrol®. This is especially true for people who have been regularly using opioids prior to beginning treatment.

Some people experience symptoms like nausea, tiredness, anxiety, restlessness, joint pain and abdominal cramping, which are all mild signs of withdrawal. This is only cause for concern if the symptoms persist over an extended period of time.

Other, more serious side effects of Vivitrol like mood changes, vomiting, confusion or hallucinations can occur, but they are rare. Typically, if a doctor has prescribed Vivitrol® for treatment, it is because he or she believes that the benefits outweigh any potential risks. Few people experience any serious problems while taking Vivitrol®.

Are There Any Other Concerns?

– Is Vivitrol® Safe?

One of the most common questions people ask is, “Is Vivitrol® safe?” The answer to this question is yes, as long as the person follows the full treatment plan and is medically supervised.

Because naltrexone blocks a person’s ability to feel an opioid high, some people will try to overcome this by taking large quantities of drugs, which is extremely dangerous. This is a concern for some, but doctors and recovery centers have become more diligent about educating patients about this.

– Does Vivitrol® Really Help Achieve Abstinence?

While every person is different, overall the studies have shown that the injections are effective for helping patients stay sober. One study found that 36 percent of patients who were receiving Vivitrol® injections stayed completely sober compared to only 23 percent who received no medication.

In addition, Vivitrol® users reported up to 99 percent opioid-free days during a 25-week evaluation. Non-users only reported 60 percent opioid-free days.

Contact Us For Addiction Help

If you or a loved one are struggling with an opioid addiction, know you’re not alone. There are so many options available to you, and we want to help. Addiction is a disease that can be treated, but you can’t do it by yourself.

Don’t become one of the CDC’s tragic statistics. Contact Desert Cove Recovery today, and let us know that you want to get started on your journey to recovery so that we can help you with your next steps.

controversy around kratom for withdrawal

The Controversy Around Using Kratom for Withdrawal

The Controversy Around Using Kratom for Withdrawal

In the war on drugs, there’s a war on a plant-based herbal supplement called kratom.

Advocates swear by it as a pain reliever, a mild stimulant or an aid in beating opioid addiction. Many proponents say that they’ve used kratom for withdrawal with great success.

Detractors point to its mind-altering and addictive properties. Federal authorities have attempted to classify kratom, which is legal and widely available, as a Schedule I drug in the same class as heroin and LSD. Schedule I drugs are considered dangerous for their high potential for abuse and lack of known medical benefits.

Everyone agrees that solid scientific evidence about kratom is sorely lacking.

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kratom for withdrawal

What Is Kratom?

Kratom is derived from an evergreen plant in the coffee family. It is native to South Asia, but Malaysia and Thailand are now two of the 16 countries that tightly control the use of kratom or ban it altogether.

In the U.S., kratom leaves are typically ground into powder and brewed as tea. In doses of a few grams, kratom acts as a mild stimulant for alertness and sociability. At doses of 10 to 25 grams, it acts as a sedative. The user may feel calm and euphoric.

Kratom is mostly used to manage chronic pain, aid digestion or lift mood, but its popularity as a drug for weaning addicts from opioids has generated a storm of controversy.

What’s All the Fuss About?

Kratom isn’t an opioid, but it contains almost as many alkaloids as opium or hallucinogenic mushrooms. The U.S. government gets alarmed, understandably, when kratom powder is touted as a safe, legal, cheap high. Herbal supplements aren’t regulated, so there’s no way of knowing what’s actually in them.

According to a study conducted at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, kratom-related calls to regional U.S. poison control centers increased tenfold between 2010 and 2016. The CDC warns of an emerging health threat, especially when kratom is combined with alcohol or other drugs.

In a recent statement, Scott Gottlieb of the Food and Drug Administration implied that kratom was no safer than the 340 million packages of illegal opioids that stream into the U.S. every year. Gottlieb also cited 36 deaths linked to kratom.

One of raw kratom’s chief alkaloids is mitragynine, which is thought to activate natural opioid receptors without depressing the respiratory system. That’s why so many proponents of kratom are excited about its potential as a safer pain medication. Between 1999 and 2016, more than 200,000 Americans died from prescription opioid overdose.

A woman named Susan Ash recovered from Lyme disease only to wind up addicted to pain pills. After detox and addiction treatment, she stumbled across kratom and has used it every day since. Indeed, she attributes her recovery to it. Ash and thousands of other users regularly lobby against state bills that would ban the sale of kratom. Six states have made kratom illegal.

Others aren’t so sure about kratom for withdrawal and insist that Ash and other recovering addicts are anything but clean.

Dariya Pankova was battling a heroin addiction when she tried kratom. She became hooked on it and eventually returned to the more potent heroin. A South Florida man who was trying to quit several substances had a similar experience. He developed tolerance to kratom and returned to rehab many times before he beat his addiction to it.

Respondents to a recent survey of 6,150 regular users told a different story:

  • More than 98 percent denied that kratom is dangerous.
  • Around 75 percent said that it’s impossible to get high on kratom.
  • Almost 67 percent considered themselves more likely to get hooked or overdose on other substances if kratom is banned.
  • Almost a fourth said they would break the law to use kratom after a ban.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, kratom’s negative effects may include the following:

  • Sensitivity to sunburn
  • Nausea
  • Itching
  • Sweating
  • Dry mouth
  • Constipation
  • Increased urination
  • Loss of appetite
  • Psychotic symptoms

Researchers at NIDA believe that kratom is habit-forming. Reported side effects during withdrawal include the following:

  • Muscle aches
  • Insomnia
  • Irritability
  • Hostility
  • Aggression
  • Mood swings
  • Runny nose
  • Jerky movements

It’s important to note that behavioral therapies have not been tested for treatment of kratom addiction alone.

Is Kratom Right for You?

It’s hard to make a good decision about kratom until far more research is done. Many recovering addicts see it as a godsend during opioid withdrawal, but many others flatly insist that using kratom is the equivalent of relapsing.

One thing’s for sure: Where opioid addiction is concerned, kratom is no substitute for the professional help of experienced caregivers.

Call Desert Cove Recovery today. We’re committed to helping you heal and reclaim your life.

routine in addiction recovery

Routine in Addiction Recovery

New Routine in Addiction Recovery

If you’re reading this, you’ve committed to staying sober. By going through drug rehab, you’ve already come a long way. Establishing a routine as quickly as possible will increase your chances of long-term success.

However, there’s a delicate balance between sticking to a schedule and obsessing over it. If you fail to plan, you open the door to relapse. If you’re rigid and inflexible, you open the door to other addictive behaviors.

Keep reading for tips on creating a routine that strikes the perfect balance.

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The Importance of Routine in Addiction Recovery

Kicking a habit once and for all is difficult if you don’t have anything to replace it with. Having idle time on your hands, time that you once filled by drinking or using drugs, can get you into trouble.

The solution is to make sure that your days and nights are reasonably full. Staying clean is easier once you get into a consistent rhythm; your brain soon kicks in to reward you for making positive changes. Even your body performs better when you set fairly consistent times for eating, sleeping and exercising. Whatever routine you design for yourself is reinforced whenever you repeat it. In time, new habits feel comfortable and familiar, and every recovering addict can use that kind of stability.

In the past, substance abuse was your default setting when you were lonely, bored, depressed or anxious. The idea is to create a new, healthier default setting in which life-enhancing habits replace self-destructive ones. If you establish a good routine, your mind, body and spirit will quickly go along with it. You’ll be in control again.

Establishing a Routine

A structured lifestyle has special benefits for recovering addicts.

Poor health and insomnia are common problems for newly sober people. Scheduling long-overdue doctor visits and dental exams will help you bounce back. Healthy meals will replace lost nutrients. Going to bed and waking at the same time each day will regulate your body clock for better sleep.

Planning a routine in addiction recovery will keep you from feeling overwhelmed. You’ll see that every aspect of life is manageable. Scheduling your time leaves little room for procrastination, loneliness and boredom, which are all triggers to relapse.

Here are some ideas for designing your routine:

  • Prioritize recovery. Quickly decide where and how often you will attend meetings or speak with your sponsor.
  • Set a regular bedtime and time to wake up. Allow time for a healthy, unrushed breakfast before work.
  • Set consistent mealtimes. Research nutrition websites for menu-planning.
  • Set realistic and consistent times for exercise. Start slowly, and gradually increase the length of your workouts as you build stamina.
  • Schedule family time or date nights with your spouse.
  • Schedule daily and weekly household tasks such as cleaning, doing laundry and paying bills.
  • Schedule time for entertainment, hobbies and socialization. You might enjoy Monday Night Football, a daily crossword, a weekly movie night or a monthly book club. Get in touch with sober friends you haven’t seen in a while. Volunteer in your community.
  • Make time for quiet, restorative activities like yoga, religious services, journaling or reading inspirational books.

Fill in all the specifics. Take a careful look at the final product, and rethink anything that could become a pitfall.

For example, your bike route shouldn’t take you past the neighborhood bar you used to frequent. You may not be ready to attend the wedding of a friend if a lot of drinking is planned. If you scheduled time for music, change up your playlist to eliminate songs that you associate with drinking or drug use. Gambling, online bidding, viewing pornography, eating junk food and even overexercising are addictive behaviors. Avoid them.

Adjusting for Balance

Try your schedule out for a few days or a couple of weeks. You may have to tweak it for balance. There shouldn’t be large gaps of free time, but you shouldn’t be working 60 hours a week or watching TV all weekend either. Scheduling diverse activities will keep you from getting bored and make you a more well-rounded person.

Remaining Flexible

Becoming fixated on a routine defeats its purpose. You fought hard to break free from addiction, so don’t become a slave to your schedule.

Don’t neglect loved ones just for the sake of ticking off items on your list. Don’t get into a predictable rut where you stagnate. Pencil in plenty of time for classes or new activities that you’ve always wanted to try.

Be flexible. As long as your choices support sobriety, you’re okay. Feel free to skip the garage cleaning on a beautiful day. Take the kids to the park instead.

At Desert Cove Recovery, we’re committed to supporting you through each stage of the journey. If you need help getting started on a routine, call us today to speak with an experienced counselor.

 

How Volunteering Could Help Prevent Substance Abuse

Prevent Substance AbuseCollege student athletes are under tremendous pressure. They usually follow strict guidelines, workout times and game schedules while still having to maintain a passing GPA. Additionally, due to the nature of their physical activity, they are also more likely to sustain injuries that require medical intervention. Because of these stressors, this group can often become more susceptible to use and misuse drugs. In an effort to combat this phenomenon, researchers from the University of Missouri looked into what could help prevent student athletes avoid substance abuse and addiction problems.

The specific group these researchers decided to focus their study on was female student athletes. So, in a five-year study, female Division 3 student athletes were asked to self-report on their substance use, social, work and sports life, as well as any other stressors they were experiencing. At the end of the five years, researchers were able to conclude that the participants who spent part of their time volunteering or helping others in some other way were less likely to use drugs.

“Female student-athletes experience increased demands while in college from coaches and professors to family and friends. Because student-athletes occupy multiple roles simultaneously, they could be at an increased risk for substance abuse to cope with stress. Our findings suggest that community service might be a tool to reduce substance abuse among female student-athletes,” explained Alexandra Davis, one of the leaders of the research team.

The researchers went on to point out that these conclusions have an impact on colleges throughout the country. As part of the ongoing effort to reduce substance use on campus, colleges may want to look into volunteer programs for their students, providing them with an opportunity to help others and reduce their own odds of misusing drugs and alcohol.

Although this study was specifically focused on females, the results are likely similar if applied to other specialized populations as well. Scientists, religious leaders and scholars have continually demonstrated the power of giving, and this is yet another application of how it helps to enhance lives.

Straight Talk with Teens for Drug Abuse Prevention

drug prevention groupHeroin use among 18-25 year olds has more than doubled since 2002, but remains low still for younger teenagers, thankfully. However, given the national trend, we must place extra attention on prevention efforts to keep our youth safe so that they not only remain drug-free in high school, but are better prepared for their time afterward.

Instead of incorporating heroin education in catchy slogans, or scare tactics, many people are educating students simply by talking to them and sharing open, honest and real information. This straight-talk version of drug education may be seeing better results than any other campaign. For instances, some high schools have implemented clubs that are centered around drug abstinence and positive peer influence.

Clubs that focus on staying healthy and revolve around education and engaging in activities that are drug-free are not a new concept. In fact, some form of these clubs have been around for decades. Some of the more recent activity has been focused on the heroin problem and the decisions that many teens have to face regarding it and other drugs.

“All of our students have a story of somebody in their family who is an addict or a friend of a family member or something of that nature,” explained Erin Parsons, a history teacher and co-founder of the Marshall Country Drug Free Club.

Perhaps one of the most influential aspects to drug-free clubs is the power of peer influence. Heroin experimentation is arguably a peer-driven activity, and clubs like the one in Marshall County are looking to use that same phenomenon for positivity. The more agreement that can take place among young people to stay away from heroin, painkillers and other drugs, the more they can have an impact on the behaviors of their peers and avoid the pitfalls of millions of young adults who wind up needing treatment for their substance abuse.

Athletics May Prevent Teens From Abusing Drugs

athletics help prevent drug abuseA new study recently completed by researchers at the University of Michigan shows that teenagers who are involved with sports are less likely to abuse heroin and prescription drugs. With the opioid epidemic that our nation is currently facing, more people are searching out factors that can be applied as a preventative measure.

In the past, researchers have found that children and teenagers in high contact sports are considered more likely to abuse prescription painkillers after being prescribed medications for injuries. In fact, other studies have shown that teenagers that are prescribed prescription painkillers for injuries are 33% more likely to abuse opioids after the prescription runs out.

However, this new study provides an alternate view on teenage sports. According to lead researcher, Philip Veliz, most sports that teenagers participate in are not high contact, high injury sports. These less violent sports provide a protective barrier between drug use and teenagers, and the percentage of those helped by the athletics is far greater than those that are potentially harmed.

“The unfortunate pattern of prescription painkiller misuse to heroin use was not something that was more likely to occur among athletes either moderately or highly involved in sports,” explained Veliz, lead author of the study and an assistant research professor at the University of Michigan.

Before reaching this conclusion, the research team poured over information gathered in the Monitoring the Future (MTF) survey from 1997 to 2014. They found that over 53% of eighth- and tenth-graders reported being highly involved in some sort of sport. Nearly 39% of respondents stated that they were moderately involved in sports and almost 8% reported that they did not participate in sports. The teenagers were then asked questions regarding their prescription drug and heroin use. Those who participated heavily in sports were much less likely to abuse drugs than those that did not participate in sports at all.

While some critics point out that the amount of teenagers participating in violent sports needs to be addressed, the study does show that extracurricular activities can be important in keeping children and teenagers away from drugs.

The Danger of Teenage Boredom and Substance Abuse

amjournadaA new study aimed at determining if young marijuana users are more likely to abuse other illicit drugs has revealed interesting data regarding motivators for these behaviors. Research taken from Monitoring the Future (MTF), a nationwide survey given to young people regarding drug and alcohol use, has shown that boredom can lead to further drug use among teenagers. The study did not reveal if marijuana is a gateway drug, but researchers are hopeful that the information uncovered will lead to more effective preventative measures for teenagers.

“Programs and education efforts, for example, can benefit from knowing that marijuana users who use because they are bored are more likely to use certain other drugs. It may be feasible for prevention programs to address ways of coping with factors such as boredom in order to decrease risk,” explained Joseph J. Palamar, assistant professor of population health at New York University’s Langone Medical Center and participant in the research study.

Tailoring prevention programs to include ways to avoid boredom may help prevent many teenagers from engaging in drug abuse. After school programs, sports, civic groups, the arts and other constructive activities are examples of ways that young people can be involved in life and not get caught up in substance abuse as easily. The study itself was published in the American Journal of Alcohol and Drug Abuse.

While it is still difficult to determine if it is accurate to call marijuana a gateway drug, the study did show that out of the 2.8 million people who admitted to abusing drugs like heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine, 70% started off smoking marijuana. Joseph J. Palamar included in his interview that addicts addicted to various drugs all seemed to have different reasons for abusing drugs and different paths that led them to that abuse. So, while it is unclear how big of a factor marijuana plays in long term drug use, it is clear that marijuana is the drug of choice for those starting out on a path that ultimately leads to harder, more dangerous drugs.