Thursday, July 21, 2016

Exposing Children to Drugs and Alcohol

substance use disorder
Parents who expose their children to heavy alcohol or drug use put them at a number of risks. While there is no way of telling which children will experience problems later in life due to their parents' behavior, it practically goes without saying that many children will develop unhealthy relationships with mind altering substances based on what they see their parents do. On top of the potential risks of teenage drug and alcohol use, new research shows that the children of alcoholics and addicts are at risk of other issues as well.

Experts at Beth Israel Medical Center (BIDMC) and Boston Children’s Hospital published a report which indicates that children whose parents use alcohol or drugs have a heightened risk of medical and behavioral problems, PsychCentral reports. The report can be found in Pediatrics, the journal of the American Association of Pediatrics.

The authors of the report point out that around 20 percent of children in the United States grow up in a home with someone misusing drugs and/or alcohol, or has a substance use disorder. Given such a high rate of exposure, it is crucial that pediatricians increase their efforts in identifying children at risk, so they can help their parents get the treatment they need. Failure to do so could spell disaster for the child later in life. Children exposed to parental substance abuse were found to be much more likely to develop mental health and behavioral problems later in life, according to the article. They were also found to be at a greater risk than their peers to experience a substance use disorder themselves.

“Alcohol misuse and substance use are exceedingly common in this country, and parents’ or caregivers’ substance use may affect their ability to consistently prioritize their children’s basic physical and emotional needs and provide a safe, nurturing environment,” said Vincent C. Smith, M.D., M.P.H., who co-authored the report. “Because these children are at risk of suffering physical or emotional harm, pediatricians need to know how to assess a child’s risk and to support the family to get the help they need.” 

If you are a parent and are abusing drugs and/or alcohol, please contact Cottonwood Tucson. We can help you break the cycle of addiction and begin the journey of recovery. Similarly, if your teenage daughter is herself using substances or experiencing mental health issues, our Sweetwater Adolescent Girls Program is equipped to help her as well.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act

mental illness
It has been some busy couple weeks in the U.S. House of Representatives with regard to addiction and mental illness. After years of hard work and difficult negotiations, the House adopted the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act of 2016 (CARA). The bill is meant to address the American opioid epidemic, a crisis that now takes as many as 78 lives every day in the United States. Following the House approval, the U.S. Senate followed suit by overwhelmingly voting in favor of the legislation. President Obama plans to sign the act in the near future.

While the legislation has been hailed as bipartisan victory, it will be interesting to see how effective it is with regard to stemming the tide of opioid overprescribing, providing opioid use disorder treatment and preventing fatal overdoses. Only time will tell, but it is certainly a step in the right direction.

Those working in the field of addiction treatment are all too familiar with the fact that the disease of addiction (a form of mental illness) is often accompanied by other debilitating mental health disorders. When that occurs, it is referred to as having a co-occurring disorder or a dual diagnosis. It is vital that those who seek treatment for addiction also address the other pathologies at play, such as depression, anxiety and/or Bipolar disorder. It is widely agreed upon that failing to treat both conditions concurrently, can be a recipe for an unsuccessful recovery.

Mental illness affects millions of Americans, yet many people suffering from mental health disorders are unable to receive treatment. Providing Americans the help they need is crucial, which is why on July 6th the House passed (422-2) the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act of 2016, NBC News reports. The legislation aims to increase the number of hospital beds for those with mental illness who require short-term hospitalization. Supporters of the measure are hopeful that similar legislation will pass in the Senate.

"We certainly as advocates, along with our sister advocacy associations, are going to press for it. I think the champions and the senators that are the sponsors of that bill — they want very much to move it, so I'm hopeful," said Linda Rosenberg, CEO of the National Council for Behavioral Health. 

The bill also would allow the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA) provisions to be reinterpreted, giving parents access to medical information and treatment plans for their children over the age of 18.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Preventing Teenage Alcohol Use

A significant number of parents accept that sooner or later their teenage child/children will consume alcohol. Some even contend that occasional alcohol use is just a part of growing up, saying to themselves, “we drank alcohol in high school and turned out OK.”

Alcohol use, just like practically every other mind altering substance, can lead to outcomes that can’t be predicted. There is little way of knowing which teens will use alcohol responsibly and whose “responsible” drinking will develop into an unhealthy relationship culminating in an alcohol use disorder (AUD). There are so many variables that can have a hand in the development of alcohol dependence, i.e. genetics, home life and mental health issues.

It is also important to note the fact that teenage brains are still developing, which means alcohol can take a serious toll—even when used sparingly. Coupled with how many teens drink alcohol, such as “binge drinking,” both short term and long term side effects can prove to be catastrophic. Binge drinking typically happens when males consume 5 or more drinks, and when females consume 4 or more drinks, in about 2 hours. It is vital that every step be taken to mitigate the chances of adolescent alcohol use.

Parents can play a huge role in such efforts, and potentially save their children from future years of heartache. Two studies were published recently which can help parents prevent early onset alcohol consumption, NPR reports. The first study, published in the journal Prevention Science, found that teenage binge drinking could be reduced if parents set limits and caution about alcohol use in a supportive environment. While the other study, published in that same journal as well, showed that third-graders who took part in a home-based alcohol use prevention program—were less likely to drink when they were in seventh grade.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) biannual Youth Risk Behavior Survey found that around 1 in 6 adolescents had consumed alcohol before the age of 13, and about the same number had engaged in binge drinking. The American Academy of Pediatrics alcohol screening protocol states:

"Although it is common for adolescents and young adults to try psychoactive substances, it is important that this experimentation not be condoned, facilitated, or trivialized by adults."
If your teenage daughter has developed a problem with alcohol please contact Cottonwood Tucson, Our Adolescent Girls Addiction and Co-Occurring Disorders Treatment can help your child break free from alcohol.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

House Adopts Addiction Recovery Act

Efforts to curb opioid addiction in the United States made news again last week when the U.S. House of Representatives adopted the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) with 407 votes in favor and 5 against. CARA gives the Attorney General and Secretary of Health and Human Services the power to award grants to stem the tide of the opioid epidemic, one that claims over 70 lives every day in the United States.

Such grants would go towards forming an inter-agency task force to “review, modify, and update best practices for pain management and prescribing pain medication,” according to the bill’s authors. The legislation is multifaceted and hopefully will have a serious impact on the epidemic—saving lives and helping people get the addiction treatment they desperately require.

Tomorrow, the Senate, which already passed the bill in March, will vote on adopting the legislation. CARA covers eight different areas relevant to the opioid crisis in America, which are listed below:
  • Title I: Prevention and Education
  • Title II: Law Enforcement and Treatment
  • Title III: Treatment and Recovery
  • Title IV: Addressing Collateral Consequences
  • Title V: Addiction and Recovery Services for Women, Families, and Veterans
  • Title VI: Incentivizing State Comprehensive Initiatives to Address Prescription Opioid and Heroin Abuse
  • Title VII: Miscellaneous
  • Title VIII: Transnational Drug Trafficking Act
The CARA Act will expand access to the lifesaving overdose reversal drug naloxone. It will also expand access to prescription drug safe disposal sites, so that unwanted medication does not end up in the wrong hands. It aims to strengthen preexisting prescription drug monitoring programs, which are often underutilized. Increasing the availability of evidence-based addiction treatment services across the country, especially in rural America.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Drunkorexia: A Concerning Binge Drinking Trend

College drinking is a topic we discuss fairly regularly. The reason for that is the fact that how people drink alcohol in college can have a significant impact on the course of one's life. Nevertheless, many young adults fail to understand that alcohol can send you on a journey, one that can take years from which to return. When alcohol is finally done with you, it is likely that you will be battered, broken and short on loved ones in your life. Being cognizant of drinking behaviors that can and do lead people to addiction can save you from a lot of heartache. It can even save your life.

Binge Drinking

Many college students lose their life from alcohol related causes every year. Drunk driving and alcohol poisoning are the most common cause of cutting life short during the college years. Every weekend and beyond, college students engage in the practice of binge drinking. A practice typically defined as when men consume 5 or more drinks, and when women consume 4 or more drinks—in about 2 hours time. Teenagers and young adults are not only impulsive; they are often impatient. After the school week comes to a close, students want to unwind as quickly as possible. Simply put, they are not looking to sip their way to intoxication.

Binge drinking is extremely dangerous, and is commonly associated with negative outcomes. However, if you thought that the practice of drinking as much as you can, as fast as you can, couldn’t be topped. You would find yourself mistaken. There is a growing trend of concern occurring on college campuses across the country.


Those who have ever consumed alcohol on an empty stomach are probably aware that the intoxication ensues faster than normal. With that in mind, a number of college students have begun engaging in what is known as “drunkorexia.” The nonmedical term is used to describe the act of practicing certain diet related behaviors before, during and after binge drinking, Newswise reports. It is done in order to increase the intoxicating effects of alcohol.

The behavior can include:
  • Binging and Purging
  • Dieting
  • Exercising
  • Calorie-Restricted Eating Patterns
"It is important to realize that, in addition to the amount and/or frequency of alcohol consumption, the manner in which college students drink puts them at greatest risk for experiencing problems," said Dipali V. Rinker, a research assistant professor in the department of psychology at the University of Houston. "Students who engage in compensatory dieting/exercise behaviors before, during, or after a drinking event to either increase the effects of alcohol or reduce alcohol calories by either engaging in bulimic-type or extreme dieting, exercise, or restrictive behaviors -- such as skipping meals -- are putting themselves at risk for serious negative consequences related to alcohol use. In addition to reducing risky drinking levels, college students should also make sure to stay well-hydrated and not drink on an empty stomach. Additionally, college students should make sure that they are eating healthily and engaging in healthy exercise behaviors, particularly if they choose to drink."
CARF - Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation FacilitiesNATSAP | National Association of Therapeutic Schools and ProgramsNBCCNAADAC