Thursday, September 3, 2015

Combination Locks On Pill Bottles

In states rampant with opioid abuse novel programs are being implemented to combat abuse with the hope of saving lives. Many first-time prescription opioid users get their first pill from other people’s medication bottles. A new pilot program in Illinois plans to disrupt that trend by putting locks on prescription bottles, the Associated Press reports.

"I'm pretty hopeful today for the youth who may not get mixed up in this awful disease," said Nick Gore, a recovering addict. "It's a bold move made by Illinois to set the tone for the rest of the country to follow."

While most people are familiar with numerical combination locks on bicycles and gym lockers, in 2016 Illinois will be the first state in the nation to place combination locks on pill bottle caps. Participating pharmacies taking part in the year-long test will put combination lock caps on all prescriptions containing hydrocodone, drugs sold under the brand names Vicodin ® and Norco ®. The measure was signed this week by Gov. Bruce Rauner and the pilot program will be facilitated by the Department of Financial and Professional Regulation, according to the article.

"Too many Illinoisans become addicted to these powerful medications," said state Sen. Iris Martinez, a sponsor of the bill. "This legislation will help prevent individuals who haven't obtained a written prescription from using hydrocodone, a dangerous drug when used without a doctor's supervision." 

Any steps taken to keep highly addictive opioid medications out of the hands of teenagers are important. It will be interesting to see how effective prescription bottle locks are for the prevention of opioid misuse and whether or not other states adopt similar programs. We will keep you posted on any further developments in this story.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Join the Voices for Recovery: Visible, Vocal, Valuable!

Over the course of the United States' brief, but important history, Presidents have taken it upon themselves to make proclamations; the act of causing some state matters to be published or made generally known. Most are aware of the famous proclamations, such as George Washington's Proclamation of Neutrality in 1793 and Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation in 1863 which resulted in huge changes for the future that followed.

Many proclamations have been issued by Presidents that are “ceremonial,” in order to designate special observances or celebrate national holidays. Yesterday, President Barack Obama proclaimed September as National Alcohol and Drug Addiction Recovery Month. Stating that “we reaffirm our unwavering commitment to all those who are seeking or in need of treatment.” This month, we honor all who are would like to live a life free from drugs and alcohol, with the hope of ending prejudice and discrimination that accompanies the stigma of addiction.

Please take a moment to read the proclamation in full:


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Every day, resilient Americans with substance use disorders summon extraordinary courage and strength and commit to living healthy and productive lives through recovery. From big cities to small towns to Indian Country, substance use disorders affect the lives of millions of Americans. This month, we reaffirm our unwavering commitment to all those who are seeking or in need of treatment, and we recognize the key role families, friends, and health care providers play in supporting those on the path to a better tomorrow. 

This year's theme is "Join the Voices for Recovery: Visible, Vocal, Valuable!" It encourages us all to do our part to eliminate negative public attitudes associated with substance use disorders and treatment. People in recovery are part of our communities -- they are our family and friends, colleagues and neighbors -- and by supporting them and raising awareness of the challenges they face, we can help eradicate prejudice and discrimination associated with substance use disorders, as well as with co-occurring mental disorders. Prevention and treatment work, and people recover -- and we must ensure all those seeking help feel empowered, encouraged, and confident in their ability to take control of their future. Americans looking for help for themselves or their loved ones can call 1-800-662-HELP or use the "Treatment Locator" tool at 

My Administration remains dedicated to pursuing evidence-based strategies to address substance use disorders as part of our National Drug Control Strategy. Seeking to widen pathways to recovery, our strategy supports the integration of substance use treatment into primary health care settings and the expansion of support services in places such as high schools, institutions of higher education, and throughout the criminal justice system. In the wake of public health crises related to non-medical use of prescription drugs and heroin in communities across our Nation, my Administration has pledged considerable resources to help Federal, State, and local authorities boost prevention efforts, improve public health and safety, and increase access to treatment in communities across the country. And the Affordable Care Act has extended substance use disorder and mental health benefits and Federal parity protections to millions of Americans. 

Behavioral health is essential to overall health, and recovery is a process through which individuals are able to improve their wellness, live increasingly self-directed lives, and strive to fulfill their greatest potential. During National Alcohol and Drug Addiction Recovery Month, we reaffirm our belief that recovery and limitless opportunity are within reach of every single American battling substance use disorders, and we continue our work to achieve this reality. 

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim September 2015 as National Alcohol and Drug Addiction Recovery Month. I call upon the people of the United States to observe this month with appropriate programs, ceremonies, and activities. 

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this thirty-first day of August, in the year of our Lord two thousand fifteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and fortieth. 


Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Baby Boomers Drinking At Unsafe Levels

Unsafe drinking practices are most commonly associated with teenagers and young adults. While the association is not erroneous, there are other age groups whose alcohol consumption is of concern. New research suggests that many “baby boomers” are consuming alcohol at unsafe levels, ScienceDaily reports.

Researchers at King’s College London have found that one in five people over the age of 65 are drinking unsafely, and they are usually of higher socioeconomic status. The findings come from an analysis of 27,991 anonymous health records from people 65 and over. The researchers found 1,980 individuals, out of the 9,248 people who reported drinking alcohol, drank at unsafe levels, according to the article.

“As the Baby Boomer generation become seniors, they represent an ever increasing population of older people drinking at levels that pose a risk to their health. This study shows the need for greater awareness of the potential for alcohol related harm in older people, particularly those of higher socio-economic status, who may suffer the consequences of ill health from alcohol at an earlier age than those in previous generations,” said Dr Tony Rao, lead author from the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience at King's College London. 

The research showed that men were more likely to consume alcohol at unsafe levels than women, the article reports. While men only comprised 46 percent of the health records, they made up 60% of the drinkers and 65% of the unsafe drinkers.

“This research highlights that as GPs we need be more aware of the risk of older people, especially men, drinking excessively. Reducing alcohol misuse is important to prevent premature death and serious negative health effects, such as alcoholic liver disease, which are big burden on our health system. Alcohol excess carries additional risks in the older population such as falls and confusion,” said Dr Mark Ashworth, study author from the Division of Health and Social Care Research at King's College London. 

The findings were published in BMJ Open.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

New Research Finds E-Cigarettes Less Harmful

A growing body of research has led to heated debates about e-cigarettes with regard to safety, addiction, and their appeal to minors. While there is little question that nicotine is addictive no matter how it is consumed, there are many who feel that e-cigarettes are the lesser of all evils. New research suggests that e-cigarettes may be 95 percent safer than traditional cigarettes, The Guardian reports. There was no evidence to suggest that e-cigarettes were a gateway to tobacco.

This is the first official recognition that e-cigarettes have less health risks than tobacco, says Public Health England (PHE). The research may lead to e-cigarettes becoming licensed medicine, becoming a smoking cessation alternative. The UK’s chief medical officer, Dame Sally Davies, said:

“I want to see these products coming to the market as licensed medicines. This would provide assurance on the safety, quality and efficacy to consumers who want to use these products as quitting aids, especially in relation to the flavourings used, which is where we know least about any inhalation risks.” 

The PHE’s 111-page review found that 2.6 million adults in the UK using e-cigarettes are current or former tobacco smokers, according to the article. People using e-cigarettes were trying to quit or were trying to avoid relapse to traditional cigarettes. Many traditional tobacco users have not switched to e-cigarettes because they are led to believe that they are equally harmful, the article reports.

“My reading of the evidence is that smokers who switch to vaping remove almost all the risks smoking poses to their health. Smokers differ in their needs and I would advise them not to give up on e-cigarettes if they do not like the first one they try. It may take some experimentation with different products and e-liquids to find the right one,” said one of the independent authors of the review, Peter Hajek, of Queen Mary University, London.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Empathy and Compassion to Fight Mental Illness

Time and time again, Americans are forced to confront what can happen when mental illness goes untreated. Every year, shocking stories about horrific events involving someone suffering from mental illness flash across our television screens. As a nation, we all sit aghast at the tragedies which unfold at the hands of the mentally ill, and we wonder what could have been done to avoid such incidents?

It’s has been almost three years since Americans, and the world, learned of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Connecticut. On Dec. 14, 2012, a young man walked into to a school, shortly after killing his mother, and opened fire killing 20 children and six adults. The tragedy, not surprisingly, re-opened the age old conversation about gun control in America. On the other hand, the Sandy Hook incident also opened peoples' eyes to what can happen when mental illness is left untreated.

One of the young girls who lost her life that fateful day was Avielle Rose Richman. Her parents, Jeremy Richman and Jennifer Hensel, founded the Avielle Foundation with the goal of educating people about mental illness, Tucson Weekly reports. Their mission is to break the stigma of mental illness so that people will advocate for their loved ones in need of treatment.

This week, Richman, a psychologist, will be in Tucson, AZ, to speak about The Science of Violence and Compassion at the 2015 Ben’s Bells Science of Kindness Conference, according to the article.

“We’ve evolved living and groups and communicating with one another,” says Richman. “There’s evidence that if we develop the ability to be more empathetic and compassionate, we’ll be healthier, wealthier and happier.” 

If you are interested in attending the event on Friday Aug. 21 at 7 p.m. at the Banner-University Medical Center DuVal Auditorium, you can RSVP here. There is a requested $10 donation at the door. The DuVal Auditorium is located at 1501 N. Campbell Ave. Tucson, AZ.
CARF - Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation FacilitiesNATSAP | National Association of Therapeutic Schools and ProgramsNBCCNAADAC