Thursday, January 19, 2017

Nonmedical Use of Prescription Stimulants Affect On GPA

On college campuses across America, students frequently engage in non-prescribed stimulant use for a number of reasons. Young adults in college commonly take drugs, like Adderall and Ritalin, in order to get an edge for studying or test taking. Others will take the drugs on the weekend in order to gain energy for prolonged partying. While such drugs can work wonders for people diagnosed with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), there is a common perception that the drugs will benefit those without the disorder. Such beliefs lead to stimulant use and subsequent abuse.

To be clear, prescription stimulants are amphetamine based narcotics that increase one’s energy—and in small amounts—focus. Drugs like Adderall can be habit forming and lead to stimulant addiction. Taking nonprescribed stimulants can be a slippery slope for college students attempting to get an edge on their classmates.

Interestingly, nonmedical use of prescription stimulants does not lead to heightened academic performance resulting in elevated GPAs, according to researchers from the College Life Study at the University of Maryland School of Public Health. The findings are from an analysis of nonmedical use of prescription stimulants (NPS) among 898 students without ADHD in their second and third year of college.

The researchers broke the students up into four NPS pattern groups:
  • Abstainers (68.8%) did not engage in NPS either year.
  • Persisters (16.7%) engaged in NPS during both observed years.
  • Initiators (8.7%) engaged in NPS in Year 3 but not in Year 2.
  • Desisters (5.8%) engaged in NPS in Year 2 but not in Year 3.
There was no significant change in GPA among the Persisters, Initiators, and Desisters. However, there were significant improvements in GPA among the Abstainers, the study reports. The findings beg the question. If non prescribed stimulant use does not result in GPA improvement, why do young adults still use them with that goal in mind?

The simple answer is that misconceptions about stimulants have perpetuated this potentially dangerous practice. The researchers suggest that college administrators and advisors work to intervene, challenging students’ beliefs about stimulant drugs. They should also point out to students the potential risks of stimulant use. The research team writes that NPS:

“ also associated with other drug use and can act as a “red flag” for educators, health providers, and parents. Physicians who prescribe ADHD medications to college-attending patients can ensure that such patients understand that sharing or selling their medication is illegal, and likewise that it would be illegal for their friends to use ADHD medications that were not prescribed for them.” 

Prescription stimulants are in the same family of narcotics as methamphetamine. While stimulants prescribed for ADHD may be “cleaner,” they produce the same addictive euphoria that meth generates. Thinking that prescription stimulants are somehow safer to use than methamphetamine is roughly equivalent to thinking that prescription opioids are less harmful than heroin. People in the United States know, first hand, that that is far from the case.

If you or a loved one has been using stimulants without a prescription, there is a good chance that it has had a negative impact, such as dependence and/or addiction. Please contact Cottonwood Tucson to discuss treatment options.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

A Parents Probe Into The Nature of Addiction

If you are the mother or father of someone living with the disease of addiction, you know first-hand how difficult it is to continue to stand by a child who is seemingly predisposed to acting against their best interest. On the one hand, they are your child. One of the few people in life who you will feel a drive to love unconditionally. A drive that becomes harder and harder to satisfy in light of the lying, cheating and stealing that—all too often—accompanies addiction.

It is a common story for the loved ones of alcoholics and addicts. You want, more than anything, for your child to live a healthy, productive life. And you know, or have at least heard, that recovery from addiction is possible. That being said, the time between the onset of a loved one’s addiction and their embracing of the principles of recovery, is often a long and arduous span of existence. Painful to everyone invested in the well-being of someone in the stranglehold of addiction. There are likely few pains that compare to the intensity of watching someone you care deeply about slowly die from the inside out.

Try as you might, while your influences may have a positive effect on your child’s decision to embrace another path in life; it is a choice which ultimately must be made by the afflicted. Because surrender is perhaps only authentic when someone believes at their core they have finally been beat; rather than being told by others that the fight to eke by from one drink or drug to the next is no longer tenable. While it can take years, decades even, to become truly ready to surrender, it is a time that will eventually come. It is not so much a defeat as it is a conscious decision to open the doors to a spiritual experience. A driving force that guides people along the often precarious road of recovery.

One parent who came to realize that his child’s addiction was out of his control, was acclaimed author David Sheff. Though try as he might to influence his son’s path, recovery would be up to his son. If you are, again, the parent of a child (adult or not) who is or has battled with addiction, hopefully you have read Sheff’s book about his son Nic’s struggle from active addiction to active recovery, titled:Beautiful Boy: A Father’s Journey Through His Son’s Addiction.” If you haven’t, you would do yourself a great service by reading the story of his son’s addiction, and what he learned along the way from discovering the problem and Nic’s several attempts at recovery.

“Beautiful Boy” covers a number of areas relevant to those who want nothing more than to help their child break the cycle of addiction. There are times when reading Sheff’s book where, no matter who is reading, avoiding tears in one's eyes is seemingly impossible. The book hits home not only for the loved one’s addicts, but for addicts who read what their actions can do to those who love them. One of the most poignant realizations that David Sheff had, reads as follows:

“Like many in my straits, I became addicted to my son’s addiction. When it preoccupied me, even at the expense of my responsibilities to my wife and other children, I justified it. I thought, How can a parent not be consumed by his child’s life-or-death struggle? But I learned that my preoccupation with Nic didn’t help him and may have harmed him. Or maybe it was irrelevant to him. However, it surely harmed the rest of my family – and me. Along with this, I learned another lesson, a soul-shaking one: our children live or die with or without us. No matter what we do, no matter how we agonize or obsess, we cannot choose for our children whether they live or die. It is a devastating realization, but also liberating. I finally chose life for myself. I chose the perilous but essential path that allows me to accept that Nic will decide for himself how, and whether, he will live his life.” 

It would be hard road for Nic to achieve success in the rooms of recovery. His son would go on to write his own memoir about methamphetamine addiction, Tweak: Growing Up on Methamphetamines.” Finding his way shortly thereafter. Now, with 7 years of clean time, married and working in television, Nic seems to have truly found his way, according to HeraldNet. David Sheff took his probe into the nature of addiction even further, publishing Clean: Overcoming Addiction and Ending America’s Greatest Tragedy in 2013. Among other things, Clean takes a hard look at the stigma of addiction.

“It’s all about judgment. You’re weak, what happened to your morals?” he said with regard to how addiction is treated in America. “But we know that this is a brain disease. We know that the brains of people who become addicted become dramatically different. What do we do about diseases? We rely on the best science.” 

The story of David Sheff’s son, and subsequent research on addiction, can be useful tools for parents whose child is still living in active addiction. David tour’s the country speaking to people about addiction. He emphasizes that addiction is a disease, not a moral failing as it is often viewed. For example at 7 p.m. February 10, 2017, David Sheff will speak at the Everett Performing Arts Center, Everett, Washington. You can follow Mr. Sheff on Twitter @david_sheff to learn about other appearances throughout the year.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Cottonwood Tucson Announces New Binge Eating Disorder Treatment (BED)

Cottonwood Tucson Announces Binge Eating Disorder (BED) Program

As Cottonwood Tucson launches our 30th year of providing innovative behavioral health treatment, using a dual-diagnosis treatment model and relying on the most recent research on the neurobiology of human development and the neuroscience of addiction and mood disorders to design cutting-edge, patient-responsive treatment programs, we are proud to introduce our Binge Eating Disorder (BED) Treatment program.   

Cottonwood Tucson BED therapists' goal is to help individuals (both men and women) change their bond with food from an addictive relationship to a healthy relationship. To achieve this goal the program begins with an extensive physical, nutritional and exercise evaluation and progresses to include:
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
  • Dialectical behavioral therapy
  • Interpersonal psychotherapy
  • Medications
  • EMDR
  • Equine therapy
  • Somatic Experiencing
  • Acupuncture
  • Yoga
  • Massage
  • Biofeedback 
  • Chi Nei Tsang

General eating disorder treatment program generates specific BED treatment

Some of our readers may wonder how Cottonwood Tucson came to provide our specific BED treatment program. The simple answer is, over the past 30 years, research has come to determine that Binge Eating Disorder should be recognized as a formal diagnosis. There was a time when BED was grouped together with all eating disorders and casually referred to as "food issues;" however, in 2013 the American Psychiatric Association published the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) and formally changed BED from being listed as Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (EDNOS) to having an official codification to be significantly different from other eating disorders and unique enough to require specific treatment.

It was in June 2008 that Cottonwood Tucson first decided to publish our blog, and have regularly reported on binge eating research. Today we invite you to read or revisit a few such posts:

Scientists continue to study binge-eating...

Just this week, numerous news agencies [Medical Express, Reuters, Fox News, Medical Daily, The Scientist] reported on the outcome of a new study that looked to explore and help explain why binge drinking often leads to binge eating. The results of this latest study, Agrp Neuron Activity Is Required for Alcohol-Induced Overeating, were published on-line on January 10, 2017, in Nature Communications.

While this study focused on the brain cells in mice, this research contributes to the ongoing conversation. As Sarah Cains of University College London and one of the co-authors of the research stated to The Scientist:

“We were thinking about how alcohol is associated with eating in cultural situations in humans, and wanted to see if there’s something neurological underlying that behavior. So far, it’s only been an association—we didn’t know of a biological explanation for what could trigger eating in the presence of alcohol.”

Begin your journey, get help now...

It is important to understand Binge Eating Disorder (BED) is treatable and Cottonwood Tucson's team of experts is here to work with you or your loved one to discover a healthier and better quality of life while improving your self-esteem and restoring your relationships with your family and friends. If you have questions about our new BED program, feel free to call our Admissions Department or complete our on-line contact form.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Cognitive Dissonance and Internet Addiction

cognitive dissonance
Human beings' reliance on technology is a growing concern among many in the field of both psychology and addiction. You need only take a look around to see examples of technology grabbing hold of people, and in effect changing how we communicate with one another. There was a time when you could sit at the airport and start a conversation with your "neighbor." Or commute home on the train, engaging with those seated around you. Sadly, it would seem those days are long gone.

There are, seemingly, an endless amount of ways to keep yourself occupied with a smartphone, tablet and/or laptop. With a few clicks we can transport ourselves somewhere else completely. We can essentially be somebody in the digital world that we are not in real life; and for many people that has an appeal that can become problematic. It is quite common for people’s use of the internet to negatively impact their life, taking away from work and personal relationships.

As was mentioned earlier, gadgets with internet capability are pervasive. You can't walk down a sidewalk without seeing someone looking down at their smartphone. Due to the widespread usage of such technology, is has become easy for people to think that their internet usage is normal. An easy conclusion to arrive at, but in many cases, far from the truth. While internet addiction is perhaps not yet completely understood, there are numerous examples of its use having negative impacts, like that of gambling or sexual addiction.

It is so easy to convince yourself that your internet usage is normal. It begs the question, how does one determine that there is a problem? The answer may come by way of a theory in psychology known as cognitive dissonance.

cog·ni·tive dis·so·nance

the state of having inconsistent thoughts, beliefs, or attitudes, especially as relating to behavioral decisions and attitude change. 

Researchers at Binghamton University, State University of New York may be able to help internet addicts determine that they have a problem, and potentially reduce their internet usage, according to a press release. Increasing cognitive dissonance in internet users, the discomfort felt by those whose actions conflict with their beliefs, can be an effective way of curbing potentially harmful internet use.

"Dissonance is what we need to work on and what we need to help increase for users to make sure that they will do some action to limit their control," said Isaac Vaghefi, assistant professor of management information systems at Binghamton University. "We have users who say, 'I know I'm using a lot, but everyone around me is using a lot.' What we need to do is highlight the negative consequences for them. We can objectively use instruments that will show them the negative outcomes, so they will understand these consequences. Once people see those negative consequences, they will act on them and will be motivated to exert self-control."

Friday, January 6, 2017

Addiction Treatment Report - Stigma Lives On

addiction treatment
The fight to provide access to substance use disorder treatment centers continues across the country. The need to expand such access has been driven in large part by the American opioid epidemic. Without addiction treatment, the chances of long-term recovery are significantly diminished. Treatment centers provide a safe environment, closed from the realms of influences that can trigger a relapse. In addiction treatment settings, clients have several resources that people trying to recover on their own would otherwise be without, such as doctors, nurses, and counselors.

That being said, it is important to remember that even with access to treatment, there are never any guarantees in recovery. Perhaps a testament to the complex nature of treating addiction. Even with all the odds of success seemingly stacked in one’s favor, many do not find recovery on the first attempt.

The reasons, while varied on a per case basis, are often linked to similar causes. Arguably, one the most consistent reasons that people who check into recovery centers leave against medical advice (AMA), is that they are simply not ready to be honest with themselves or with others. They are unable to follow the direction of those in recovery who came before them. The old recovery saying, “The program works, if you work it,” could not be any closer to the truth.

Increasing the chance of success for people checking into treatment centers is of the utmost importance. Little good will come from providing greater access to treatment, if those who check-in to such facilities are unable to see it through to a successful end, by following a daily program of spiritual maintenance and immersing oneself into a recovery community. What’s more, in order for addicts and/or alcoholics to take advantage of treatment centers, health professionals need to do everything in their power to direct them to a center. This may be something which has been lacking, according to a new report.

If you have been following the opioid crisis, you are likely aware of the fact that New England has been affected especially hard. One such state, Massachusetts, commissioned a panel of addiction treatment advocates and family members of patients treated at state-licensed treatment centers, to observe addiction treatment services across the state, The Boston Globe reports. The findings of the commission, chaired by state Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders, would be used for recommending possible improvements.

There were two main takeaways from the report. Perhaps the most noticeable finding was that only 49-percent of adult patients who were treated at state-licensed residential substance use disorder centers, saw the treatment through to the end, according to the article. The second major finding was related to the stigma that still exists regarding those afflicted by addiction.

“Stigma in emergency rooms manifests in various forms: not providing substance use disorder treatment, derogatory comments toward people with [addictions, and] not making an effort to screen insurance and connect to treatment,” the panel wrote. 

The special commission believes that the best way to address the problem is more training for every emergency department employee, the article reports. They also call for a the creation of addiction “trauma teams” to help encourage overdose victims to enter treatment. While we have come a long way with the stigma of addiction, clearly we still have a long way to go.

“There’s nothing worse than asking for help and being pushed aside,” said Joanne Peterson, a member of the commission and founder and executive of a nonprofit addiction support organization. “Is a heart patient treated that way? Is the mother of somebody who’s just been in an accident treated that way? No — but if it’s somebody on medication or actively using and they’re trying to find a place to get help, it’s very, very different. Stigma is very much alive and it’s a huge barrier.”
CARF - Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation FacilitiesNATSAP | National Association of Therapeutic Schools and ProgramsNBCCNAADAC