Sunday, April 26, 2015

Five-Year Study for Relapse Prevention

Relapse prevention is one of the most important elements of addiction recovery. Working a solid program by staying connected with your support group is one of the many tools implored for preventing relapse; however, even those working a program have been known to fall of course - especially in early recovery. Efforts to understand how addiction works in the brain has come a long way in recent years, and some researchers believe that studying the brain mechanisms that suppress relapse could help in the development of relapse prevention drugs.

At The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) in La Jolla, CA, researchers have been granted a total of $3.8 million to fund a five-year study of brain mechanisms that suppress relapses, according to Scripps news release. The funding is a combination of two grants from the National Institute of Health’s (NIH) National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) and the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).

“The risk of chronic relapse, even after long periods of abstinence, is a major issue in treating addiction,” explained the lead investigator for the five-year study, Nobuyoshi Suto, a newly appointed assistant professor of molecular and cellular neuroscience at TSRI. "If we can better understand these brain mechanisms that actively suppress — as opposed to promote — relapse, we may be able to develop a drug to enhance these mechanisms and maybe mimic those relapse-suppressing cues."

Earlier research has shown that cues that signal the unavailability of drugs or alcohol can suppress relapses, the news release reports. Suto and his colleagues want to determine the brain mechanisms that affect the relapse-suppressing action of such cues.

The study could uncover the fundamental workings of the brain in behavioral inhibition, and help researchers develop new methods for relapse prevention.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Reduction in Opioid Prescribing and Overdoses

New research suggests that changes in pharmaceutical industry practices has had a remarkable effect, reducing the number of prescriptions written and the number of opioid overdoses. Researchers from both Boston Medical Center (BMC) and Harvard Medical School (HMS), found that the introduction of abuse-deterrent OxyContin (oxycodone) and the removal of the drug Darvon (propoxyphene) from the market, significantly impacted the number of opioids prescribed and overdoses, Science Daily reports.

Since 2005, opioid related overdose deaths have exceeded the number of motor vehicle deaths each year in Massachusetts. In the United States, between 1999 and 2010 opioid overdose deaths quadrupled, according to the article. In response, prescription drug companies were urged to develop abuse-deterrent formulations of their powerful narcotics, and states were called upon to implement prescription drug monitoring programs.

"The number of people dying from opioid overdoses indicates the urgency with which we need to deal with this crisis, which is one of the leading public health issues of our time," said Marc Larochelle, MD, MPH, research scientist and physician at BMC.

The introduction of abuse-deterrent OxyContin resulted in a 39 percent drop in prescribing of the drug. The researchers also found a 20 percent drop in prescription opioid overdoses in the two years following the abuse deterrent formulations introduction, the article reports. However, while the findings show promise, there is a concern about former OxyContin abusers turning to heroin as a stronger, cheaper alternative.

"Given the decreased supply of prescription opioids, those seeking out an opioid could be turning to heroin, which may partially explain the tremendous increase in heroin overdose deaths over the past few years both locally and nationally," said Larochelle, also an assistant professor of medicine at Boston University School of Medicine. "Our results indicate the potential of pharmaceutical changes in helping combat the opioid epidemic, but we stress the need for complementary interventions targeting the identification and treatment of addiction to curb opioid abuse."

The research was published in JAMA Internal Medicine.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Sweetwater: A Chance To Heal For Hope

When the fallout affects everyone...


There are times when a family member's trauma affects everyone in the family. This is how Dr. Phil described what he saw as he met with and interviewed 17 year old Hope and her mother Desiree. On April 10, 2015, Dr. Phil's audience was invited to be part of the conversation (by watching the painful exchange between Hope and Desiree).

Their story dates back at least three years when Hope, at 14, was abducted into a sex trafficking ring. The abduction was initiated by a social media post created by Hope and in turn was quickly noted by her soon to be abductor.  Within in minutes Hope was gone and her nightmare began. And as Dr. Phil offers "her development stopped."

Hope created a coping mechanism whom she named Sophia


In an attempt to overcome her trauma and deal with her social anxiety Hope created another persona - Sophia. Even after being rescued Hope still relies on Sophia to get through each day. Here you can watch the full episode (41 minutes including some ads) of Dr. Phil working to find the starting point for healing.



If you are having trouble viewing the video, you can see it here.

Dr. Phil offers Hope a chance to heal at Cottonwood Tucson's Sweetwater Program

Kathleen Parrish
Cottonwood Tucson is honored to be selected by Dr. Phil to provide treatment for Hope by attending our Sweetwater Adolescent Girls Program. During the taping Dr. Phil introduced Hope and her mother to Cottonwood's Clinical Director Kathleen Parrish, MA, LPC.

The Sweetwater Treatment Program for teen girls utilizes a unique and engaging approach to treat girls seeking treatment of co-occurring disorders. Our approach leverages various treatment modalities that offer opportunities for introspection, insight, skill development, and social integration.

Treatment is enhanced by a week-long, intensive family program, designed to enrich family relationships. Family members are offered classes in effective parenting and communication skills. The Sweetwater Program also includes comprehensive aftercare planning that targets the patient’s ongoing treatment needs. Aftercare recommendations may support a return home to engage in outpatient therapy and individual counseling, or admission to a therapeutic boarding school.

Overcoming trauma can be a long journey...


We've often written about trauma and specifically post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). We hope you are able to watch Dr. Phil as he tries to refocus both a teenage girl and her mother. They each have a story to tell, hopefully the conversation is started.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Weed 3: The Marijuana Revolution

In August, 2013 CNN aired the renowned Dr. Sanjay Gupta’s first installment of his documentary, simply titled “Weed.” Gupta set out on a journey to better understand marijuana by getting all the facts. The history of the drug in America is long, and while the drug is used more than any other illegal drug in the world, almost a hundred years of prohibition has hindered research - meaning that little is actually known about the popular drug.

Currently, there are 23 states and the District of Columbia which have medical marijuana programs, and four states where recreational use has been legalized with more sure to follow. The need to have a better understanding of marijuana is great. Initially, Gupta was very skeptical of marijuana’s medical value, but over the course of his journey he witnessed some amazing situations where the drug showed significant value for the treatment of some illnesses.

You can find information about his earlier installments in the links below.


Tonight, April 19, 2015, CNN will air Gupta’s third installment of his Weed series: “Weed 3: The Marijuana Revolution” at 9 PM EDT/PDT. You can view the teaser for “Weed 3: The Marijuana Revolution,” here.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Mixing Alcohol and Marijuana

It turns out that, while alcohol and marijuana are the two drugs used the most, there has been little research on the use of the drugs together. With the growing rates of marijuana acceptance in the United States, there is a need to understand the effects of mixing alcohol and cannabis. Analyzing data from the 2005 and 2010 National Alcohol Survey, researchers found that simultaneous use of alcohol and marijuana double the odds of drunk driving, social consequences, and self-harm.

The research team found that simultaneous users were more likely to drive drunk, compared to those who did not mix the two substances, Medical News Today reports. What’s more, those who used alcohol and marijuana at the same time had the heaviest drinking patterns in terms of quantity and frequency. The researchers observed the varying demographics, alcohol-related social consequences, harms to self, and drunk driving across simultaneous, concurrent, and alcohol-only using groups.

"There has been some disagreement regarding whether using cannabis and alcohol together is more dangerous than using either alone," said Meenakshi S. Subbaraman, corresponding author for the study and associate scientist at the Alcohol Research Group, a program of the Public Health Institute. "My study is the first to compare how simultaneous and concurrent use of alcohol and cannabis relate to drunk driving and other social consequences among adults, and the first to examine differences between simultaneous and concurrent users in terms of demographics and substance use quantity/frequency. In this study, concurrent means having used both alcohol and cannabis within the previous 12 months, but always separately."

"Because of both the number of states permitting medical marijuana, and differing legalizations in Washington and Colorado, as well as efforts in other states for legalization, this is a timely study and indeed it is an understudied issue," added Tom Greenfield, center director of the Alcohol Research Group.

The findings were published in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research.