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Monday, September 17, 2018

8 Myths About Opioids

At one time, doctors viewed opioids as effective, though highly dangerous, drugs. They were only used in specific situations, such as for patients who were terminally ill, who had just had surgery, or who had been severely injured. In the 1990s, opinions about this class of drugs changed, as pharmaceutical companies promoted their product as being non-addictive and safe for patients with less severe pain.

The idea of opioids being non-addictive is one of the myths about this type of drug that has now been debunked. There are other myths about opioids that still linger, and it’s important that they be clarified as well.

Myth #1: Prescription opioids are bad medicine and shouldn’t be used by anyone.

Fact: There isn’t anything inherently bad or wrong about any type of prescription drug. They are tools to be used by doctors for their patients. The potential benefits of prescribing an opioid pain medication (effective pain management) must always be weighed against the potential risks of using the medication (addiction and death).

Myth #2: Opioids are the best option for treating chronic pain.

Fact: Researchers have found that opioids are no better at treating chronic pain than other remedies available, and they put patients at higher risk. Doctors have other options for treating chronic pain, including acetaminophen, ibuprofen, certain antidepressants, other non-opioid medications, massage, acupuncture, exercise, and meditation.

Opioids are effective for treating pain after surgery or an injury. They are also effective for pain from cancer or when used for end-of-life care.

Myth #3: Opioid dependence and addiction are the same thing.

Fact: There is a difference between physical dependence and addiction. As a patient takes an opioid over a period of time, it’s likely he will develop a physical dependence on the drug. If he tried to stop using it all at once, he would experience withdrawal symptoms. For this reason, his doctor will have him slowly “wean off” his dose by gradually lowering it.

Physical dependence is one of the signs of addiction. However, an addiction is much larger than just experiencing withdrawal symptoms when a person’s drug of choice isn’t readily available. It also includes compulsive using despite negative consequences and losing interest in family obligations and hobbies.

Myth #4: Opioid addiction only happens if a person has a history of addiction.

Fact: While having a family history of substance abuse does increase the risk, it doesn’t have to be present for an addiction to occur. Someone who has no previous personal history of addiction can still become addicted to opioids.

Myth #5: Most opioid drugs are obtained from illegal sources.

Fact: Heroin is an illegal drug that is sold on the street. Prescription opioids that are abused are obtained from a number of sources, such as:
•   Shared by a friend or relative
•   Taken from a friend or family member's medicine cabinet
•   Forged prescriptions
•   Exaggerating symptoms to obtain prescriptions
•   Visiting more than one doctor to get prescriptions (“doctor shopping”)

Myth #6: People who abuse opioids like heroin are likely poor and live in big cities.

Fact: Heroin use has increased across most population groups in the US. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), heroin use has increased sharply for men and women across all income levels. The CDC reports some of the most significant increases across groups with the historically lowest rates of heroin use, including people with higher incomes and those with private insurance.

Myth #7: All opioid drugs carry the same risk for abuse and addiction.

Fact: Opioid drugs come in different formulations and strengths. Some of them are meant to take effect quickly and then taper off, while others are formulated for long-term relief. For example, hydromorphone and fentanyl are examples of opioids that are several times stronger than morphine.

Myth #8: Abuse-deterrent formulations of opioids will be a significant tool to fight the opioid crisis.

Fact: Abuse-deterrent means that a pill is more difficult to dissolve in water so that it can be injected or crushed so that it can be snorted. It doesn’t mean that taking this form of an opioid is less likely to lead to addiction.

By Jodee Redmond

Thursday, September 13, 2018

5 Common Types of Depression Seen in People with a Substance Use Disorder

Person holding a drawing of a sad face
Depression isn’t just one type of disorder. Instead, there are different types of depression and each one has its own set of symptoms. It’s not the same thing as being “blue” or down, although being unable to enjoy hobbies and pastimes that used to bring pleasure is one of the signs of depression. Depression isn’t grief, either, but experiencing loss of a loved one, a job or one’s health can trigger an episode of depression.

5 Common Types of Depression and Their Symptoms

1. Major Depression
Major depression is also called “clinical depression” or “major depressive disorder.” Someone who is clinically depressed experiences a dark mood or an overwhelming sense of sadness most or all of the time for at least two weeks. Other symptoms of major depression include the following:

  • Lack of appetite or increase in appetite
  • Difficulty sleeping or increased need for sleep
  • Constant fatigue
  • Difficulty focusing, concentrating or making decisions
  • Feeling guilty, worthless or hopeless
  • Suicidal thoughts and/or plans for taking one’s own life

These symptoms interfere with all aspects of a person’s life, including school, work and personal relationships.

2.  Persistent Depressive Disorder
This type of depression is characterized by a low mood that has persisted for two years or more, but the symptoms aren’t as intense as those experienced by someone with major depression. It’s possible for someone with this type of depression to continue to function on a day-to-day basis, while reporting feeling joyless or low “most of the time.” Other symptoms of Persistent Depressive Disorder (PDD) include low energy, changes in sleep and appetite and low self-esteem.

Someone with PDD can be symptom-free for periods of up to two months before they start experiencing low mood and other signs of depression again.

3. Psychotic Depression
In some instances, a person with depression goes into a state where he loses touch with reality. He may experience a psychotic episode, which may include delusions (false beliefs that are maintained despite being contradicted by rational arguments) or hallucinations (seeing or hearing things that aren’t really there).

Some people who are in a psychotic depression become paranoid. They may feel as though people or certain organizations are monitoring them.

4. Bipolar Disorder
Bipolar disorder is also called manic depression. This mood disorder, which affects approximately two percent of the population, is characterized by periods of depression and periods of exceptionally high energy. These manic symptoms can include some or all of the following:

  • Thoughts, speech or activity occurring at a more rapid rate than usual
  • Over-inflated high self-esteem
  • Grandiose or overambitious ideas
  • Increased penchant for seeking sexual pleasure, risk taking or spending money

A person with bipolar disorder also experiences periods of normal moods, too. The number of manic and depressive cycles that someone would have during a year and how long these cycles last varies from person to person.

Bipolar disorder is treatable with medication to stabilize the patient’s mood.

5. Cyclothymic Disorder
Cyclothymic disorder is a milder type of bipolar disorder. A person who is diagnosed with this form of depression will have been experiencing shifting moods for at least two years. The mood swings will have included periods of depression and hypomania (a mild-moderate form of mania), with no more than two months of normal moods in between.

The duration of the symptoms are shorter, not as regular and less severe than for a diagnosis of major depression or bipolar disorder.

Depression and Substance Abuse

A person who is experiencing the symptoms of depression or manic depression may try to self-medicate by using drugs or alcohol to try to control their symptoms. However, someone can have symptoms and not realize she needs to see a medical professional.  A friend or family member may need to step in and suggest that a loved one seek help for depression.

If your loved one has a substance use disorder and is showing signs of any type of depression, he needs specialized treatment. English Mountain Recovery offers individualized residential help for clients with co-occurring disorders.

By Jodee Redmond

Monday, August 27, 2018

10 Sober Date Ideas that Don’t Involve Drinking

Dating in recovery
Sober date ideas aren’t just a good idea for people in recovery. When you’re trying to get to know someone, alcohol may help to relieve a sense of nervousness, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that you or your date will be revealing your true selves. Staying sober gives both of you the chance to get to know each other without any mind-altering substances getting in the way.
There are many activities that you can do with a date that don’t involve alcohol in social settings. The following list will give you some ideas for sober dates.

1. Go Out for Breakfast
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and it’s even better when someone else prepares it for you. Restaurants that serve breakfast offer lighter meal options as well and you can always linger over coffee if the conversation is going well.

2. Pack a Picnic Lunch
Food always seems to taste better when eaten outdoors. Your picnic lunch can be as simple as sandwiches and fruit or as substantial as fried chicken and salads. Be sure to put some cold packs in your cooler or basket to keep food and drinks cold until you reach your destination. Then you can choose a shady spot to enjoy your lunch and the fresh air.

3. Go on a Hike
The good thing about hitting a trail is that you only need a sturdy pair of shoes. If you or your date aren’t experienced hikers, start by going to a city park and checking out a path. You don’t need to be an expert to appreciate the colors of the flowers and any other points of interest as you walk. You could also explore the neighborhood or take a walk along the beach.

4. Go Bowling
Bowling is an activity that anyone can enjoy. If you and your date are focused on the activity, you aren’t worried about filling in awkward silences. It’s a relaxing way to spend time together.

5. Enjoy an Outdoor Concert or Movie
Check out the outdoor concert schedule near you. Most major cities host these types of events during warmer months. This form of sober socializing is a great alternative to going to a bar if you want to hear live music.

Your local community may also hold movie nights under the stars. This is a fun, budget-friendly sober date idea, where you can bring lawn chairs, sodas and snacks to watch a film under a big screen.

6. Visit the Planetarium
Speaking of stars, how long has it been since you’ve been to the planetarium? You will likely have a different perspective now if you haven’t been since you were in grade school. If you’ve never been, then it will be an adventure for you and your date.

7. Explore a Museum
Museums are another place you probably haven’t been to visit since you have been in school. It may be time to go back and let your inner child explore the exhibits. You’ll be guaranteed to learn something new during your visit, and you and your date will have plenty to talk about while exploring the displays.

8. Go Ice Skating
Most rinks are now open on a year-round basis. If you haven’t gone ice skating for some time, it’s a skill that will come back to you quickly. Afterward, you and your date can go for coffee or some hot chocolate.

9. Visit an Amusement Park
There’s always plenty to see and do at an amusement park. There are rides and games galore, with plenty of food to sample. If you prefer to avoid the crowds, go during the week or during the off season.

10. Sign Up for a Cooking Class
The advantage of taking a cooking class together is that both of you learn how to prepare a certain type of food or a meal under the direction of a chef and you get to eat what you prepare.

By Jodee Redmond

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Can Seeking Alcohol Treatment Help My DUI Charge?

Police car
If you have been stopped by police and charged with a DUI (Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol or Drugs) offense, you may be wondering whether seeking professional treatment will help. Before you make a decision about when and where to seek help for substance abuse, your best bet is to get some professional advice first.

Advice About DUI and Alcohol Treatment

An impaired driving charge can carry serious consequences. In this situation, you don’t want to rely on what have gleaned from watching crime shows on television or what a friend or family member in a similar circumstance experienced. Contact an experienced attorney for advice.

A DUI lawyer will be able to look at the facts of your case and offer advice that applies specifically to you. If you have been charged with a DUI in Tennessee, the judge may order you to seek alcohol and drug treatment as part of your sentence. You may need to complete an alcohol education program to have your driving privileges restored once the terms of any sentence have been completed.

Your attorney’s job is to get the best possible outcome. This may mean negotiating with the prosecutor so that you go into an alcohol treatment program instead of having to serve a jail sentence or it could lead to a reduction of time in custody.

Factors that Determine DUI Sentencing

In determining an appropriate sentence for a DUI offense, a judge weighs the facts of the case carefully. Several factors are considered, including the following:

  • Whether you have ever been convicted of a similar offense before (Penalties increase for subsequent convictions)
  • Your blood alcohol content (BAC) at the time you were arrested
  • Age at the time of the offense is a factor if you were under 21. Tennessee has laws prohibiting possession of alcohol for minors and special penalties for youth convicted of impaired driving such as loss of driving privileges, fines, and community service. 
  • If the incident produced any injuries, fatalities, or property damage

When Alcohol Treatment May be Ordered

The court may order someone who has been found guilty of a DUI to undergo professional alcohol treatment after a verdict has been reached and before a sentence is determined. If you are in this situation, the judge will receive reports from the treatment center about your response to treatment. Your best option is to cooperate with the treatment program and get the most out of the strategies being presented. The court will be taking note of your willingness to accept responsibility for your actions and make a positive change in your life. It can make the difference between receiving probation, a suspended sentence, or being sent to jail.

Administrative License Suspension and DUI

Once the criminal charges have been dealt with and you have completed the requirements for the penalty the court hands down, driving privileges aren’t automatically reinstated. In Tennessee, your driver’s license is automatically suspended for one year for a first offense and two years for a second one. If you are convicted for DUI a third time, you won’t be able to drive for between three and 10 years.

To get driving privileges reinstated, you may be required to attend an alcohol education program. Depending on whether you a prior conviction for DUI, you may have to attend a 12-hour program over a couple of days or you may also need to seek alcohol treatment in a state-approved program.

Can Seeking Treatment Help with DUI?

If you have been charged with DUI, it is probably a sign that you should take a good look at your alcohol consumption habits. A DUI, especially one that is related to binge drinking, suggests you may be suffering from a substance use disorder that could be affecting your health as well as causing legal problems.

Seeking alcohol treatment can help with the DUI charges; however, you’ll want to seek expert legal advice first. Your lawyer will let you know whether it’s to your benefit to seek inpatient alcohol treatment at a treatment center like English Mountain Recovery before your case goes to trial.

By Jodee Redmond