Tuesday, August 30, 2016

A Family History of Alcohol Use Disorder

It is not uncommon for people with a family history of addiction for themselves to have a problem with drugs or alcohol. Addiction is often referred to as a family disease for two reasons. 1) A person’s addiction affects the entire family. 2) Young people with a family history of substance use disorder are more likely to have issues with mind altering substances, too. The latter can be due to a number of reasons, such as genetics and environment.

Keeping that in mind, it is important for those who come from a family touched by addiction to be leery of using drugs or alcohol. That is not to say that it is set in stone that you will have a problem if one, or both, of your parents have a problem; but, testing it out may not be worth the risks.

Researchers spend a lot of time trying to determine who is at the greatest risk of addiction. By doing so, preventive and interventive measures can be targeted towards those individuals. And, hopefully a potential problem can be nipped in the bud early on, saving people from years of unnecessary pain due to drug and alcohol use. New research looked into the family history (FH) model of alcohol use disorder, and it turns out that the increased likelihood of addiction among such youth may be due to increased levels of impulsivity, ScienceDaily reports. The findings were published in Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research.

The study involved the examination "waiting" impulsivity—a tendency toward prematurely responding to a reward, according to the article. The researchers looked at young, moderate-to-heavy social drinkers. There were two sample groups, one composed of individuals who were FH-positive (FHP) for alcohol use disorder, the other was FH-negative (FHN) for alcoholism. The study showed that FHP drinkers exhibited greater waiting impulsivity levels than FHN drinkers. Since waiting impulsivity is associated with a predisposition to drinking, the findings could help pinpoint children of alcoholics who are at risk of alcohol use disorder.

If addiction runs in your family, and you believe that your teenage daughter is showing signs of alcohol use problems, please contact Cottonwood Tucson. Our 90-day Sweetwater Program for teen girls ages 13 - 17 has been designed to help girls and their families recover and make necessary changes to improve the quality of their lives.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Sober Living in Sunny Arizona

Recovery is about new beginnings, where one begins a new journey in life—shedding the dark shell of addiction. For some addicts and alcoholics who have found it difficult to achieve sobriety and/or clean time in their hometown, the logical choice is to start over in a new city or state. Thus removing any possibility of being exposed to the people, places and things of their past. It’s a logical choice, and one that regularly occurs among those who can afford to make such a move.

Naturally, if you are going to leave everything behind, a significant number of those suffering from addiction will choose warmer climates as their recovery destination. California and Arizona are often on the top of people’s lists, as is evident by the exponential growth of addiction recovery facilities in those two states over the last couple decades. If one is going to step out of the shadows of addiction and into the light of recovery, what better place than sunny Arizona.

The state is home to a number of reputable inpatient and outpatient treatment centers, as well as what seems like countless “sober living” homes. Formerly referred to as “halfway” homes, as they are the phase of recovery that is in between treatment and full autonomy. There is a good chance that there is a sober living home in your neighborhood, if you live in Arizona. Such residences are typically large in size and can be home to as many as ten people, all of which are working towards the common goal of recovery.

To be clear, sober living homes are not just a bunch of newly sober addicts and alcoholics. There are supervisors on site who monitor the progress of those living inside the house. The supervisor will make sure that everyone is going to recovery meetings and keeping up with their daily responsibilities; this is done so that clients learn how to regiment their day-to-day activities, as it is well known that idle time is a sure recipe for relapse. Residents are randomly drug tested to ensure they are not using. If someone fails their test, they are typically given some form of probation, which could entail leaving the house for a few days, only being able to return after passing another drug screen.

While sober living homes, in many cases, do a lot of good for a community, helping those who are new to recovery get back on their feet and learn how to be a productive member of society, a large number of people who live in areas that have a sober living home are often unhappy about it. Such fears, at times, may be warranted, but by and large incidents that impact the neighbors of sober living homes are rare. As the nation continues to grapple with the opioid epidemic, more people than ever are in need of assistance for their substance use disorder. Which means that there is a vital need for sober living homes. That being said, most adults in this country either know or have a loved one who is struggling with opioid addiction. Someone you care about may need to go into a sober living at some point, please keep an open mind about such services.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Addiction Treatment: Curb Normal Cognitive Processes

People who have decided to enter a substance use disorder treatment center often have some misconceptions about what it will take to find recovery. It is quite common for addicts and alcoholics to think that all they have to do is stop using drugs or alcohol, and after thirty days or longer, they will no longer feel the pull to use again. If it were that simple, there would be no such thing as relapse.

Sure, breaking the cycle of active substance use is a huge part of recovery, but there are a number of other variables that need to be considered if long term recovery is to be achieved. Upon entering a treatment facility, one of the first things that you may hear is that substance abuse is only a symptom of a much bigger, more complex issue. Addiction experts will often say that stopping drug and alcohol use is, arguably, the easy part; continuing to abstain for years is the difficult part. Which is why it is crucial that one be retaught, or relearn, how to function and cope with the trials and tribulations of day to day life.

What’s more, most people living with a substance use disorder have some other form of mental illness at play— such as depression, anxiety and bipolar disorder. It is what is known as having a co-occurring disorder. For successful outcomes, both the addiction and the other pathologies at play must be addressed; for if they are not treated concurrently, relapse is often the outcome.

Everyone who has walked the road of recovery is fully aware that almost everything in one’s life must be changed—i.e. places, people and things. After completing a stay at a treatment center, one should be prepared to embark on a new way of living, which often requires changing who you interact with, the places you go and the things you do. Failure to do so can be, and often is, catastrophic.

In treatment, you will learn just how important it is to distance yourself from a “past” that was typified by drug and alcohol abuse. Experiences that could trigger or be a cue to use mind altering substances. Even “normal” people without a history of substance abuse are susceptible to doing various things because they were triggered by something. If you see water, it may make someone want to quench their thirst. Smelling a fresh baked cookie, could cause someone to have a snack attack.

If you follow this line of thinking, and replace the aroma of a cookie with the smell of a drug, you could imagine how it could end. Placing yourself in an environment where you could be exposed to triggers may jeopardize your recovery. In fact, new research suggests that because all human brains are susceptible to strong attentional biases, recovery does not just involve curbing drug use—it involves curbing normal cognitive processes, according to a Texas A & M press release. The findings were published in Drug and Alcohol Dependence. Psychology Professor Brian Anderson states:

"I think this is important to keep in mind when we try to make sense of why we and others we know do the things we do. Where we look and what we pursue are not always a reflection of our current conscious intentions. Rather, automatic biases are a normal part of life that we need to either consciously work against or replace with healthier habits when the ones we have led to bad outcomes." He adds: "The information-processing biases that we know to be important for addiction are not a unique consequence of drug use, and curbing drug use itself will not necessarily curb the 'pull' from tempting situations that can trigger relapse. In order to treat addiction, we have to curb a normal cognitive process."

Thursday, August 18, 2016

ADHD Drugs: Benefits vs Costs

The use of prescription stimulants for treating attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a common subject of debate in the field of addiction medicine. While medications such as Adderall or Ritalin can be extremely effective for treating the disorder, those types of drugs are amphetamine based and are in fact highly addictive. What’s more, ADHD drugs are one of the most commonly diverted narcotics among teenagers and young adults.

It practically goes without saying that college puts a lot of demands on young people, such as showing up, doing assignments and passing exams. Many students are also involved in extracurricular activities, where they are expected to not only perform on the field but also keep up their marks. It can be taxing to say the least. In an attempt to gain an edge or have extra energy and focus when studying, a large percentage of students across the country seek prescription stimulants from their peers who have been diagnosed with ADHD.

Due to the fact that stimulants carry a high risk of abuse beyond taking them without a prescription. It is quite common for college kids to take Adderall before a party to get high, have the ability to consume more alcohol and have energy to party into the morning. Regular stimulant misuse can quickly become habit forming and lead to addiction. Casual stimulant misuse should not be shrugged off as being no big deal, every year thousands of young people seek treatment for their abuse of such drugs.

Some of our readers may be wondering about the teenagers and young adults who do have a prescription for amphetamines to treat their ADHD, people who take such drugs several days per week or every day of the week. Are they at risk of addiction? Are they at risk of experimenting or abusing other potentially addictive narcotics? The answer to that is complicated, because a significant number of people working in addiction medicine believe that stimulant use, even when prescribed, can be a slippery slope. Especially when you consider that it is extremely easy to be misdiagnosed and/or dupe a doctor into diagnosing you with ADHD in order to get stimulants.

On the other hand, new research suggests that the aforementioned form of medications is linked with less risky behaviors in teens, HealthDay reports. Researchers analyzed Medicaid claims of close to 150,000 children age 4 to 19 who were diagnosed with ADHD between 2003 and 2013. When compared to teens not taking prescribed ADHD meds, these teens were found to be 7 percent reduced risk of having a substance abuse disorder, close to 4 percent less likely to contract a sexually transmitted disease and 2 percent less likely to be injured.

However, the researchers point out that the findings showed only an association, rather than definitive proof that ADHD drugs mitigated the chance of risky behavior, according to the report. Study co-author Anna Chorniy, a postdoctoral associate at Princeton University in New Jersey, noted that more research is required in order to determine benefits and costs of these medications. The findings were published in the journal Labour Economics.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Prescription Drugs and Suicidal Ideation

It is probably fair to say that teenagers are susceptible to mood swings and temperamental behavior. The adolescent years are chock full of changes, both mentally and physically, the result of one transitioning into adulthood. While the propensity towards angst and depression are common and in most cases a part of growing up, for some teenagers it can be a sign of something insidious at play. It is paramount that parents, to the best of their ability, keep a close eye on the children's mood and the behavior they exhibit; a failure to do so can result in catastrophe.

If you have history of misusing drugs and alcohol, it is likely that you experienced mood swings. You are probably aware that mind altering substances, while they can provide some temporary relief, actually can cause feelings of depression and anxiety. If you had a preexisting mental health disorder at the onset of substance abuse, chances are that the drugs and alcohol made the problem significantly worse. Every year people around the world experience suicidal ideations as of result of their substance abuse; and many times, tragically, they succeed at finding a permanent solution to a temporary problem. Even teenagers.

In the United States, millions of American lives have been forever changed by the prescription drug epidemic. While opioid painkillers are abused more than any other prescription drug, sedatives and stimulants wreak havoc on people's lives as well—being abused at staggering rates. It is unfortunate that such drugs are being abused by adolescents, too; and it is crucial that parents talk to their children about prescription drug abuse and keep a watchful eye if they have suspicions of use.

Prescription narcotics can, and often do lead to overdose deaths. However, they can also lead to changes in mood prompting people to have thoughts of suicide. In fact, new research suggests that teenagers who abuse prescription drugs were almost three times as likely to report a suicide attempt, Reuters reports. The findings were published in JAMA Pediatrics.

The researchers came to their findings by surveying nearly 3,300 Chinese teens at about 14 years old. A year later the participants were surveyed again, revealing that the adolescents who had used prescription drugs for non-medical reasons were significantly more likely to report having had suicidal ideations than those who had not, according to the article. The findings held true even after factoring in for the teens who experienced depression before the study began. Those who abused prescription opioids were even more likely to consider suicide.

“Baseline opioids misuse, sedatives misuse, and nonmedical use of . . . prescription drugs were positively associated with later suicidal ideation,” said lead study author Dr. Lan Guo of Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou. 

If you believe that your teenage daughter is struggling with prescription drugs, please contact Cottonwood Tucson. We can help your child break the cycle of drug use and help them onto the road of recovery.
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