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Monday, February 18, 2019

Abstinence vs. Harm Reduction: What Is the Right Choice for Addiction Treatment?

Abstinence-based addiction treatment is based on the idea that there is no “safe” amount of drinking or drug use for people in recovery. Addiction is a chronic disease whose symptoms can be controlled. However, the condition cannot be cured since relapse is always a possibility.
Harm reduction is not a treatment method. Instead, it is a philosophy that accepts substance abuse occurs. It says that since people are going to abuse substances anyway, it’s important to educate them about safer consumption methods.
Abstinence-Based Addiction Recovery
In an abstinence-based addiction recovery, clients undergo detox to get free from the influence of all chemicals. After that point, they start their addiction treatment, which includes individual and group therapy. It also includes a number of treatment options designed to model a healthy lifestyle that includes the physical, psychological, social, and spiritual components of wellness.
Clients are expected to completely stay away from using all mind-altering substances. The only exception would be a medical emergency where pain medications would be allowed for a short time following major surgery. Even in that situation, the medication should not be something that would produce a “buzz” or a “high.”
An abstinence-based addiction recovery program will attempt to replace the client using his drug of choice with another, more positive activity. This is based on the idea that addiction isn’t curable, but a person in recovery can manage his disease by taking things one day at a time.
Harm Reduction Concept
Once of the basic concepts of harm reduction is that substance abuse exists in the world and that this should be accepted as fact. Rather than condemning people who use drugs (legal and illegal), a better approach is to put time and energy toward minimizing the harmful consequences of their actions.
Drug use is part of a much larger, complicated issue, according to the Harm Reduction Coalition. There’s a range of patterns of use, from severe drug abuse to complete abstinence, and some ways of using drugs are definitely safer options than others.
Harm reduction is concerned with issues such as:
  • Overdose prevention
  • Hepatitis C transmission
  • Fentanyl testing for opioids
Overdose Prevention

Overdose prevention education is an important aspect of harm reduction. Drug users, their families, friends and the service providers who work with them need accurate information about drug use and abuse. If the people around an opioid user are aware of the signs of opioid overdose, naloxone can be administered as an antidote if necessary.
Hepatitis C Transmission
Hepatitis C transmission (HCV) is an issue that goes hand in hand with intravenous drug use. If the syringes or injecting equipment is contaminated, then users are at high risk of becoming infected with HCV. If this condition is left untreated, it can lead to liver disease and cirrhosis of the liver.
Fentanyl Testing for Opioids
Fentanyl testing strips are used in an off-label manner to test street drug opioid samples for the presence of fentanyl. The testing strips, which are the same type used to test urine samples, are used by people who inject opioids.
Once a person has tested an opioid sample, they can then decide for themselves whether they want to go ahead and ingest the drugs or not. If they decide they want to use the drugs that have tested positive for fentanyl, the user can take measures that will lower the risk of an overdose, such as injecting the drug more slowly, trying a test shot first, or making sure another (sober) person is present when the dose is being injected for safety reasons. The user can also make sure that a naloxone kit is close by before using the fentanyl-laced drug.
Abstinence vs. Harm Reduction: Choose Addiction Treatment
Once an addiction takes hold of someone, they no longer have a choice about whether they will use their drug of choice. The addicted person needs it, or they will become ill. At that point, an addict may be thinking more about getting high than harm reduction strategies for staying safe. An abstinence-based program allows a client to learn new strategies for living without turning to drugs and alcohol as a coping mechanism.  
English Mountain Recovery offers a long-term, gender-specific, residential addiction treatment program for men and women. All you or your loved one need to get started is the desire to change.

By Jodee Redmond

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

The Drug Classification of Klonopin

Have you or a loved one been prescribed Klonopin and you’re wondering whether it has the potential to be addictive? Do you have concerns that a loved one may have become addicted to this medication?

Klonopin does have helpful qualities, but its use needs to be monitored carefully by a doctor. Misuse of this medication can lead to addiction, and that isn’t an outcome that anyone hopes for.

What Is Klonopin Used For?
Sold under the brand name Clonazepam, Klonopin was approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1975. This medication is an anticonvulsant (a drug used to prevent and/or control seizures). Some patients use it to treat panic attacks. A number of companies make a generic version of Clonazepam.

How Does Klonopin Work?
Klonopin is a member of a class of drugs called benzodiazepines (benzos). It works by boosting the effects of GABA, a neurotransmitter that controls the movement of nerve signals in the brain.
Neurotransmitters are the body’s chemical messengers. They allow nerve cells to communicate with one another. They are part of many of the body’s daily physical functions, including moderating sleep and heart rate. Neurotransmitters are also involved in regulating our psychological wellbeing, which includes overall mood, appetite, and our fear response. At any time, there are billions of neurotransmitters at work managing all these functions behind the scenes.
GABA is the main inhibitory chemical messenger in the body. It contributes to motor control, vision, and anxiety regulation. Benzos work by boosting the efficiency of GABA neurotransmitters. As a result, the person taking them feels an increased sense of calmness and relaxation.

FDA Controlled Substances Schedules
The FDA released a schedule for controlled substance classifications in 1970. These drug schedules were developed under the Controlled Substance Act (CSA) and organize drugs into groups based on their potential for abuse or to cause harm.
Drugs that are at the highest level of risk and which have no medical benefit are classified as Schedule I. As you move through the list, the risk of harm becomes lower and the likelihood of a positive medical benefit increases.

Schedule I Controlled Substances
Drugs under this schedule don’t have any “currently accepted medical use” in the US. They also have a high potential for abuse. Examples of substances under this Schedule include heroin, marijuana, and mescaline.
Schedule II Controlled Substances
Substances classified as Schedule II have a high potential for abuse. This may lead to either physical or psychological addiction. Examples of substances in this category include codeine, hydromorphone, fentanyl, and methadone.

A Schedule II drug has a significant potential for addiction if misused, but has potential medical benefits that can’t be ignored. Patients using medications in this class would need to be monitored very closely.
Schedule III Controlled Substances
Substances in this category have a potential for abuse that is lower than those in Schedules I and II. Abuse of these substances may lead to either low/moderate physical dependence or high psychological dependence. Anabolic steroids and certain stimulants are placed in Schedule III.
Schedule IV Controlled Substances
Schedule IV controlled substances have a lower potential for abuse when compared to those in Schedule III. Several benzodiazepines, such as diazepam, lorazepam, and oxazepam have been placed in this category.
Schedule V Controlled Substances
Schedule V controlled substances have a low potential for abuse relative to the substances in Schedule IV. The substances in this category are made up of preparations which contain small amounts of certain narcotics. Examples of Schedule V controlled substances would be a cough medicine that contains a small amount of codeine.

FDA Drug Class of Klonopin
Where did you think Klonopin might be listed on the Schedule of Controlled Substances? If you were thinking that it might fit in well with the other benzodiazepines in Schedule IV, you’d be right.
Medications like benzodiazepines are usually recommended for short-term use only due to the potential for misuse (taking them in a way other than prescribed as a doctor) and addiction.

If your loved one is complaining that she needs to use more Klonopin to get the desired result or is taking more medication than the doctor recommended, this could indicate a problem with a benzos addiction. Reach out to us for confidential help today.

By Jodee Redmond

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Choosing a Residential Recovery Program: What to Look For

A residential recovery program for drug and alcohol abuse is one of the treatment options available to people seeking to break free from addiction and make a fresh start. Since treatment centers can vary in details about their approach to treatment and the way they deliver their services, it’s important to get to know more about them before making a final decision.

What to Look for in a Residential Recovery Program

Here are some factors to keep in mind when deciding whether a particular addiction treatment center is the right one for your needs.

Professional Association Memberships

When you’re checking out your prospective treatment options, look on the facility’s website to discover whether it is an active member of any professional associations. This is an indication that the residential recovery program has met (and continues to meet) certain standards. 

English Mountain Recovery is proud to be affiliated with several of these organizations, including the National Association of Addiction Treatment Providers, the National Association of Addiction Professionals, and the Tennessee Association of Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counselors.

Accredited Facility with Experienced Staff

Clients work closely with the residential treatment center’s staff throughout their stay. The staff are on the front line for all the work that clients do to get to the root of their addiction and come to terms with it as part of the 12-Step recovery process. Look for an experienced staff with a background in addiction treatment.

English Mountain Recovery is accredited by CARF (Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities). This international, independent accrediting body for health and human services recognizes addiction treatment facilities and other providers that have met its quality standards in “business and service delivery practices.”

Serene Healing Environment

The overall atmosphere at the inpatient facility should be one that is peaceful and relaxing. Clients should be able to focus their full attention on healing, with the treatment center providing comfortable lodging in a homelike setting and a number of leisure activities.

English Mountain Recovery is located on 27 acres in Tennessee’s picturesque Smoky Mountains. Client condominiums offer semi-private accommodations and there are opportunities to relax and enjoy the outdoors on the mini-putt course, the nature trails, or in the swimming pool.

Gender-Specific Treatment Programs

Research has shown that men and women experience addiction differently. Men are more likely to abuse alcohol than women, while women are more likely to use heroin, methamphetamine, cocaine, and prescription pain medications.

A gender-specific addiction treatment program like the one offered by English Mountain Recovery allows clients of the same gender to bond and feel comfortable with each other. We understand female clients may be more comfortable discussing certain issues in a same-sex group, particularly those pertaining to trauma and abuse. Male clients also feel more comfortable discussing these particularly sensitive issues in gender-specific group therapy sessions.

Family Programming

It’s not an exaggeration to say that the entire family is impacted when someone has a problem with substance abuse. The best chance for long-term recovery is to involve the entire family in the healing process.

By the time an addicted person gets into treatment, the family has been dealing with the roller coaster of emotions that goes along with loving someone with a substance abuse issue. These emotional scars need to be examined and dealt with. Family members may need help learning better communication skills, including how to set healthier boundaries and how to express their emotions in a direct, assertive manner.

English Mountain’s family therapy program uses a number of techniques, including lectures, group therapy, and personal exercises. The goal is to help the entire family heal and move forward in a positive manner.

Relapse Prevention Program

Addiction is a chronic disease and part of the recovery process is learning how to prepare for a possible relapse. It’s not uncommon for people living with other types of chronic health conditions (high blood pressure, rheumatoid arthritis, epilepsy, asthma, multiple sclerosis, etc.) to experience a slip up on their disease management plan. The same thing can happen to someone in addiction recovery.

English Mountain Recovery’s relapse prevention program teaches clients how to identify the signs that they may be at risk for a slip and how to prevent minor issues from becoming a full-on relapse. If a relapse should occur, our clients know that no one is beyond help and that they can always return to treatment at any time.

By Jodee Redmond

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

What Are the Symptoms of Alcohol Use Disorder?

Problem drinking can be described in several ways. People often want to talk around the issue of alcohol abuse rather than saying that someone is an alcoholic. However, defining problem drinking as Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD) and classifying it as mild, moderate or severe places it squarely in the realm of a medical issue. The symptoms are clearly set out and the severity of the disorder depends on how many a particular person exhibits.

With this type of logical means of determining whether someone meets the criteria for having AUD, it’s more difficult to minimize the seriousness of alcohol abuse. Identifying the problem clearly leads to opportunities for treatment.

Symptoms of Alcohol Use Disorder

If you or a loved one have any of the following symptoms of AUD, alcohol use may be something to be concerned about.

  1. Alcohol is used in larger amounts or over longer periods than originally intended.
  2. There has been more than one attempt to cut down or stop drinking, without success.
  3. A significant amount of time is spent getting alcohol, drinking, or recovering from the aftereffects of alcohol consumption.
  4. A person experiences cravings or strong urges to use alcohol.
  5. Repeated alcohol use results in an inability to keep up with major obligations on the job, at school or at home.
  6. Alcohol use continues in spite of “persistent or recurrent social or interpersonal problems” either caused or worsened by drinking.
  7. Participation in recreational activities and hobbies is reduced or abandoned entirely because of drinking.
  8. Alcohol use occurs in situations where it’s physically hazardous.
  9. Alcohol use continues in spite of a person having a “persistent or recurrent physical or psychological problem” that is probably either caused or made worse by drinking.
  10. A tolerance for alcohol has developed, which is defined as either one of the following: (a) needing to drink more alcohol to achieve the same effect (level of intoxication); or (b) a significantly diminished effect with continued use of the same number of alcoholic drinks.
  11. Withdrawal symptoms occur if a significant period of time has passed without drinking alcohol or if using alcohol helps relieve withdrawal symptoms.

How AUD Diagnosis Is Made

To diagnose AUD, a client will be asked to look at the above list of diagnostic criteria. They will be asked if they have experienced any of these symptoms within the past year. The client will add up the number of symptoms they have experienced and the diagnosis, if any, will be based on the number of symptoms experienced.

At least two symptoms are needed to indicate a diagnosis with AUD.

  • Mild AUD: At least 2-3 symptoms in the past year
  • Moderate AUD: 4-5 symptoms in the past year
  • Severe AUD: 6 or more symptoms in the past year

Get Help for AUD at English Mountain Recovery

The more symptoms that a person with AUD presents with, the more serious their condition is. It’s never too late to seek professional help for an alcohol use disorder, however.

Making an appointment with a primary care physician for an assessment is often a good first step. If appropriate, the physician can provide a referral for residential treatment.

English Mountain Recovery offers flexible, gender-specific treatment plans for clients. We have experience working with people who have been living with severe or long-standing addictions and can provide a caring, supportive environment where our clients can focus their full attention on their sobriety.

By Jodee Redmond