Talking About Alcohol Use Disorder

alcohol use disorderWith all the talk about prescription opioid and heroin addiction devastating communities across the country, it is important that we do not lose sight of the other substances which have the power to negatively affect one’s life. We’ve written before how alcohol continues to be, and will probably always be, the most commonly used drug here in the United States and around the world. In America, alcohol is the third leading cause of preventable death, and every year approximately 1,825 college students between the ages of 18 and 24 die from alcohol-related unintentional injuries, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA).

Educating young adults about the dangers that can accompany alcohol use, especially regarding the dangerous practice of “binge drinking,” can save lives. Four out of five college students report drinking alcohol and half of those who drink – binge drink. The NIAAA considers binge drinking as having 5 alcoholic beverages for men and 4 for women within a two hour period. The dangerous practice is associated with a number of serious health problems, including:

  • Alcohol Poisoning
  • Unintentional Injuries
  • Liver Disease
  • Neurological Damage

It is probably fair to say that many young adults who binge drink, developed an unhealthy relationship with alcohol in high school. While heavy drinking is more commonly associated with college life, it occurs among high school age teens as well. Left unchecked it can result in an alcohol use disorder developing, an addiction that can dramatically affect the course of one’s life. It is ever vital that we have effective prevention and intervention efforts, and that health experts do everything in their power to provide teenagers and young adults with scientifically current information about the dangers of alcohol use.

Naturally, parents can play a huge role in preventing their teens and young adult children from forming unhealthy relationships with alcohol. It cannot be overly stressed how paramount it is that parents talk with their children about alcohol, which is why the theme of this year’s Alcohol Awareness Month is: “Talk Early, Talk Often: Parents Can Make a Difference in Teen Alcohol Use.” Every year in April, the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, Inc. (NCADD) sponsors Alcohol Awareness month, with the aim of raising “public awareness and understanding, reduce stigma and encourage local communities to focus on alcoholism and alcohol-related issues.”

The leading advocacy organization in the world addressing alcoholism and drug dependence cites research that found that adolescents who have regular discourse with their parents about the dangers of alcohol and drug use are 50% less likely to use. Young people who drink alcohol are at great risk of:

  • Addiction
  • Alcohol Poisoning
  • Traffic Fatalities
  • Violence
  • Suicide
  • Unsafe Sex
  • Educational Failure

“Alcohol and drug use is a very risky business for young people,” says Andrew Pucher, President and Chief Executive Officer of NCADD, “and parents can make a difference. The longer children delay drinking and drug use, the less likely they are to develop any problems associated with it. That’s why it is so important to help your child make smart decisions about alcohol and drugs.”

Nevertheless, there are many young adults who are already struggling with an alcohol use disorder and it is vital that they receive help sooner, rather than later. If you or a loved one’s alcohol use has become problematic, please contact PACE Recovery Center. We specialize in treating young adults with chemical dependency and behavioral health issues.

Some Sober Living Homes Lack Oversight

sober living homesRecovering from addiction is a process, the success of which often rests on the length of treatment – the longer the treatment stay the better chance of success. Most reputable treatment facilities recommend a 90 day stay; centers with 30 day lengths of stay will strongly encourage that clients check into an extended care facility afterwards. A number of treatment centers will recommend to clients with a long history of substance abuse, especially chronic relapsers, move into a “sober living” home after the completion of their treatment stay.

Sober living homes can be an opportunity for people who are new to recovery to transition back into the swing of everyday life in the company of others working towards the same goal. Sober homes vary in size and cost, some simply require weekly drug testing with 12-Step meeting attendance, while others will add to that by holding weekly house processing groups. The houses are usually managed by someone in recovery, charged with overseeing the day-to-day routines of the clients. Early recovery can be a difficult time, chock full of triggers and cravings; staying at a sober living home after treatment can serve as an extra level of protection.

With staggering opioid addiction rates across the United States, more people than ever are in need of addiction treatment services. Providing access to treatment has proved challenging in a number of areas of the country, which has resulted in a push from government officials to increase funding for addiction treatment. The opioid epidemic has also led to an increased demand for sober living homes, which has led to some questionable practices among people trying to exploit those in recovery.

Unlike treatment centers, sober living homes are hardly ever managed by credentialed professionals and are subject to little regulation, the Associated Press reports. The lack of oversight has led to cases of insurance fraud. Some transitional living homes will even allow clients to use drugs or alcohol, as long as rent is still being paid. Allowing clients to “use” could have a fatal outcome; many sober living homes are housing opioid addicts, whose choice of drugs can lead to overdose.

“In most states, there is not a regulatory body because recovery residences aren’t considered treatment,” said Amy Mericle, a scientist at Alcohol Research Group, a California nonprofit that studies alcohol and drug addiction.

Growing concerns about lack of oversight has prompted some states to pass or consider passing legislation, according to the article. Such laws would require the inspection and certification of sober living homes, and subjecting them to consumer protections and ethical codes.

It is important to point out that the sober homes guilty of exploiting addiction for profit are not the rule, there are a number of transitional living spaces that provide a healthy, structured environment – giving tenants a real shot at long-term recovery. “The ones that are good are fantastic,” said Pam Rodriguez, CEO of Treatment Alternatives for Safe Communities.

At PACE Recovery Center’s Transitional Living Program we offer an exclusive gender-specific (all male), transitional living, alcohol addiction and drug rehab for men struggling with chemical dependency and behavioral health issues. Our transitional program focuses on assisting our clients in learning how to manage both vocational/school goals and addiction recovery commitments.

Recovery Support for the Parents of Addicts

recoveryWhen we talk about addiction recovery, we speak on what it takes for people living with a substance use disorder to change their life for the better. Everyday people turn to addiction treatment programs and/or 12-Step recovery meetings to learn how to live life clean and sober. It is often said that the easiest part of recovery is putting down mind altering substances, the hard part is not picking them up again. This is a fact that can be clearly supported by the rate of relapse in early recovery. That aside, if newcomers are willing to take certain steps and follow the guidance of those who have managed to maintain long term continuous sobriety, recovery is possible.

Recovering alcoholics and addicts rely on one another to stay the course, without one’s peers life can quickly fall apart. The same can be said for the families of people living with addiction. Addiction affects entire families, watching a loved one slowly self-destruct takes its toll on others. Mothers and fathers find themselves brought to the brink of despair, a byproduct of the realization that their children’s addiction is out of their control. There is a reason why many primary care addiction treatment facilities have family programs. Families often lack the tools to cope with their loved one’s addiction, they often do not understand how this could happen and why there are changes they need to make in their own lives.

Families often struggle to find people they can talk to about their son or daughter’s addiction, especially since there is still a lot of stigma surrounding the disease. Many people continue to view addiction as a moral failing or that somehow addiction is the result of bad parenting. The aforementioned idea, could not be further from the truth as is evident by the millions of Americans abusing prescription opioids and heroin, or the 70 plus overdose deaths every day. The opioid epidemic has brought addiction out into the light; more and more people are accepting that addiction is a mental illness that is out of the control of both the addict and their loved ones.

There are a number of outlets that parents can turn to for support. Just as those in recovery lean on each other, parents can find support from other parents who are facing the same reality, i.e., Al-Anon. And now, even if you live in rural America, where prescription opioids and heroin have taken thousands of sons and daughters, you can find support – all one needs is an internet connection. In fact, thousands of mothers of opioid addicts connect with each other online, The Wall Street Journal reports. Online support groups have become beacons of hope across the country, ranging from as small as five individuals to tens of thousands. The Addict’s Mom (TAM), a place to “share without shame,” has more than 70,000 members on Facebook.

For probably 10 years I had no one to talk to about it. I had my head down like a guilty parent,” says Margaret Worthen, a member of a small support group called Soul Sisters, “All the sudden I had other women, other good moms all going through the same thing.”

Here at PACE Recovery Center our treatment team, many of whom are Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists, takes an active role in working with our clients and their families to define their goals and move towards these goals.

Spring: A Time to Recover from Addiction

addictionLast Sunday marked the beginning of Spring and with it comes the long thaw up to Summer. The transition from Winter into Spring is not just about the changing of seasons, it is also about changes with one’s self – or can be. People often associate Spring with a time to set new goals which they endeavor to achieve. Spring cleaning doesn’t apply only to dusting around the house; it’s about cleaning out the bad from your internal dwelling. Perhaps there are some things in your life that you would like to do away with, such as drinking and drugging?

It is quite common for people to add sobriety to their list of New Year’s resolutions. Every year, a number of people who have made an addiction recovery resolution, manage to learn how to live a life free from drugs and alcohol – maintaining a program of recovery. This is usually accomplished by entering a substance use disorder treatment center and/or attending 12-step recovery meetings. Unfortunately, some people do not succeed at bringing recovery resolutions to fruition, falling back into the cycle of addiction.

With the Spring Equinox still in the rear-view mirror, this may be a perfect time to give recovery an honest go – doing away with what doesn’t work in your life and adopt healthy practices for a successful future. If you have never been to a 12-step meeting, you may find it to be intimidating. Do not be discouraged, everyone sitting in a meeting house probably had similar feelings when they attended their first meeting.

It is often said in recovery circles that reaching out to newcomers is of the utmost importance. Those who found recovery before you were guided by those who came before them, and in turn they will not only make you feel welcome – they will help you learn how to live a life in recovery, the way they learned how. If you choose to move forward with the 12-step route of recovery, we implore you to keep an open mind – look and listen for the similarities you share with others, not the differences.

It’s possible that you may need more, initially, than just meetings. Depending on the type of substance you struggle with, and the severity of your addiction, checking into a treatment facility may be the best avenue. A number of treatment centers have detoxification units, which help clients to ease into recovery in safe way, mitigating withdrawal symptoms in closed environments – free from the distractions and triggers of the outside world. Treatment stays vary in length, but 90-day stays are generally considered to be the duration associated with the greatest chance of success. The longer the stay, the stronger you will be when you transition back into everyday life.

If you feel that treatment at an all male inpatient treatment facility would benefit you, please contact PACE Recovery Center. Our extended residential care program incorporates the principles of 12-Step recovery programs including Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA). We can offer you a safe and comfortable environment to begin your journey of addiction recovery.

A Look at Binge Drinking Among College Students

binge drinkingIt could be easily argued that alcohol is a part of college life. Without fail, between Thursday and Saturday night, college students will come together to imbibe at parties and at bars for those over the age of 21. While college drinking may seem relatively benign, as something that is going to happen regardless of prevention efforts, there are many young adults who do not fully grasp the dangers of “binge drinking” even though they may be engaging in the activity regularly.

The National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism defines binge drinking as consuming 5 or more drinks for men, and 4 or more drinks for women in about 2 hours. Whenever someone drinks as much as they can, as fast as they can, the risks of danger exponentially mounts. Alcohol poisoning is a common occurrence among teenagers and young adults, a condition that can be potentially fatal.

A team of experts have sought to paint a realistic picture of the dangers of binge drinking. The researchers estimate that every year 1,825 college students ages 18-24 lose their life from unintentional alcohol-related injuries, according to a University of Alabama press release. Those who do not experience an alcohol related tragedy put themselves at risk of developing an unhealthy relationship with alcohol; the research team found that about 20 percent of college students meet the current diagnostic criteria for an alcohol use disorder.

While alcohol is legal for adults over the age of 21 to use, research published in The Lancet indicates that alcohol is the most dangerous substance, according to the article. Even more harmful than:

  • Crack Cocaine
  • Heroin
  • Methamphetamine

Alcohol abuse, binge drinking in particular, is thought to be a rite of passage for college students; but in reality it’s a very serious health epidemic in the United States,” said Peter Hendricks, Ph.D., associate professor at the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Public Health Department of Health Behavior. “It is important to understand what alcohol is, why it’s problematic, and what a person can do to minimize the risk should they choose to drink.”

It is crucial that institutes of higher learning make alcohol prevention and education a top priority if the problem is to be mitigated. On top of not operating motor vehicles when intoxicated, college students should also be aware of the signs of alcohol poisoning, which include:

  • Confusion
  • Hypothermia
  • Irregular Breathing
  • Seizures
  • Slow Breathing
  • Vomiting

Alcohol is ingrained in our culture, and binge drinking is perceived as a lighthearted, fun and humorous rite of passage among college students,” said Hendricks. “It’s crucial to communicate the dire risks of binge drinking and challenge the notion that alcohol use is a normal and harmless part of the college experience.”

If you are college-age male whose alcohol use has become problematic, please contact PACE Recovery Center. We specialize in working with young adult males struggling with substance use disorders. We can help you begin the journey of recovery.

Major Media Covers the Opioid Epidemic

opioid epidemicA number of major media outlets have taken it upon themselves, and for good reason, to shine a light on prescription opioid and heroin abuse. For over a decade now, our nation has been severely affected by the opioid epidemic, a crisis that takes over 70 lives a day, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). While health agencies and lawmakers are working hard to increase access to both the life saving overdose reversal drug naloxone and addiction treatment, there is still a lot more that needs to be done to combat the calamity.

This week, the United States Senate voted overwhelmingly in favor of the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA). If the bill passes in the House, the legislation will give the Attorneys General the power to award grants to address the national epidemics of prescription opioid abuse and heroin use. The funding will be used for strengthening a number of programs and initiatives, including: addiction education and prevention, prescription drug monitoring and treatment.

CARA is just one effort among a multifaceted interagency approach to addressing the opiate epidemic. The White House, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, the Food and Drug Administration, et al., are all committed to saving lives and providing access to substance use disorder treatment. What’s more, there is still a lot that the American public does not understand about the drug crisis and the true scope of the disease of addiction.

Last month, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) along with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) released a film: “Chasing the Dragon: The Life of an Opiate Addict”. The film was created mainly for young Americans, and was essentially a call to action for the public to take part in ending the opioid epidemic. Towards the end of February, PBS aired a new “Frontline” documentary “Chasing Heroin.” The film is nearly 2 hours long, and took a year to film. The documentary covers a number of elements of the epidemic, but perhaps the most interesting aspect was the coverage of how law enforcement is addressing the problem. Police officers are acting as social workers and not jail taxis, instead of slapping on the handcuffs they are referring addicts to addiction treatment services. You can watch a short clip below or watch the full documentary by clicking here.

Tonight, ABC News will air a special edition of “20/20” at 10 p.m. ET. “Breaking Point: Heroin in America.” The report covers the ongoing heroin epidemic in New Hampshire.

“When you realize that nearly everyone you meet has been touched by the drug in some way, that’s really eye-opening,” said David Muir. “It helps begin a conversation out there, and the more we can be part of the conversation, the better.”

We hope that everyone, whether the opioid epidemic has touched you or not, will take time to watch the important documentaries. We can all have a hand in the solution to this insidious problem.

Wellness Environment: Living Drug and Alcohol Free

wellness environmentBinge drinking and drug use have long accompanied the college experience for many students. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) reports that 1,825 college students lose their life every year from alcohol-related injuries. While it may seem like an inevitability that college students will use mind altering substances from time to time, there is nothing safe about the behavior and it can lead to serious harm for some.

Scientist have also been able to prove that the brain of a teenager or young adult in their early twenties is not fully developed, and drugs can have a lasting effect on the brain. Preventing substance misuse and abuse is, naturally, a top priority among all institutions of higher learning. However, some universities are taking novel approaches to substance use prevention.

Wellness Environment

The University of Vermont offers what is known as the Wellness Environment which involves 120 freshman living in a substance-free dorm and taking the course “Healthy Brains, Healthy Bodies,” NBC News reports. The program is rooted in four areas of health, which include:

  • Exercise
  • Mentorship
  • Mindfulness
  • Nutrition

“It’s about behavior change,” said program founder, Dr. James Hudziak, chief of child psychiatry at the College of Medicine and the UVM Medical Center.”When armed with science, young people can make better decisions,” he told NBC News.

Health Promoting Tools

The students who were accepted into the Wellness Environment are given tools that help them live healthier lives, according to the article. The perks include: a free Fitbit, gym pass, yoga classes and nutrition coaches. Dr, Hudziak’s class starts with meditation and then he teaches his students about the benefits, based on current research, of living a life free from drugs and alcohol. Hudziak points out that the human brain is not fully developed until the mid to late twenties, exposing underdeveloped brains to mind altering substances can have disastrous outcomes.

“The brain of a 27-year-old is like a beautifully painted new house,” said Hudziak. “But at 17 to 23 or older, it will be months before the electricity and plumbing is up. It’s a house under construction.”

Recovery Is Possible

If you are a young adult whose alcohol or drug use has become problematic, please reach out to PACE Recovery Center. Our experienced staff specializes in young adult male addiction recovery. We can help you develop the tools necessary for living a sober, healthy life.

Ending The War On Drugs

war on drugsIn 1971, President Richard Nixon declared drug abuse “public enemy number one,” and thus began the United States’ “war on drugs.” While there is little doubt about the insidious nature of both drug abuse and the drug trade, it has become clear that not only was the war on drugs an unwinnable campaign – it has resulted in the jailing and imprisonment of millions of Americans whose only crime was to suffer from the disease of addiction. We know that incarceration has little effect on addiction rates, mental illness requires treatment not handcuffs.

The United States has been faced with an opioid epidemic for well over a decade, a public health crisis that has affected people and families from every demographic. As the nation’s lawmakers address the issue, politicians from both sides of the aisle agree that addiction treatment and education is the most effective weapon. Unfortunately, we cannot reverse the damage that the war on drugs has inflicted on countless Americans, but we can take more humanitarian approach for the future – doing away with many of the nation’s draconian drug laws.

This week, Der Spiegel published an essay written by Nobel Peace Prize winner and former United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan. With the use of powerful words, Annan declared that the global war on drugs has done more harm than good, and has given more weight to punishment than health and human rights. It has created the perfect environment for illegal drug manufacturers and distributors to foster. He writes:

“In my experience, good public policy is best shaped by the dispassionate analysis of what in practice has worked, or not. Policy based on common assumptions and popular sentiments can become a recipe for mistaken prescriptions and misguided interventions. Nowhere is this divorce between rhetoric and reality more evident than in the formulation of global drug policies, where too often emotions and ideology rather than evidence have prevailed.”

In April the United Nations General Assembly will hold a special session on drugs, a chance Annan believes for changes to be made regarding global drug policies. He wrote four critical steps that he believes should be accepted and implemented.

1) Decriminalize personal drug use.
2)Accept that a drug-free world is an illusion.
3)Look at regulation and public education rather than the total suppression of drugs.
4)Recognize that drugs must be regulated precisely because they are risky.

Some final thoughts…

At PACE Recovery Center our men’s only extended care drug and alcohol treatment program is built on the idea that by helping the client work on their underlying issues, they will be able to achieve long-term sobriety. PACE’s addiction treatment team incorporates the most effective treatment modalities, which have been proven through empirical research. We will follow with interest the special session on drugs that will be conducted at the United Nations General Assembly.

Millennials Drink A Lot Of Wine

MillennialsMillennials, or Generation Y, are now all above the age of 21, the legal age to consume alcohol in the U.S. This means that researchers can now take a look at alcohol patterns for the demographic and compare these to other generations. When we think of young adults drinking, beer and hard liquor probably come to mind. The practice of drinking as much as you can as fast you can may also accompany your thoughts about the Millennials’ drinking. You may find it surprising to learn that Gen. Yers drink more wine than any other age group.

In fact, Millennials (79 million Americans ages 21 to 38) consumed nearly half of all the wine in the United States last year, USA Today reports. The findings come from a study conducted by the industry nonprofit Wine Market Council. The researchers found that the age group drank 159.6 million cases of wine in 2015, 42 percent of all the wine in the U.S. That is an average of two cases per person.

The study also looked at what is known as “high frequency” drinking among various age groups, according to the article. High frequency drinking is the act of consuming alcohol several days a week. Out of everyone who drinks multiple days a week, the researchers found that:

  • 20 percent were Gen X’ers.
  • 30 percent were Millennials.
  • Baby Boomers made up 38 percent.

Please take a moment to watch a short video on the subject:

If you are having trouble viewing the video, please click here.

It is somewhat troubling to see that Gen Y’ers were not too far behind Baby Boomers when it comes to high frequency drinking. While drinking multiple days a week does not mean that a person has a problem with alcohol, the more often a person drinks, the greater the likelihood of developing an unhealthy relationship with alcohol. Many high frequency drinkers become dependent or addicted to alcohol. If you feel that your drinking has gotten out of hand, and is impacting your life, please contact PACE Recovery Center for help. Our experienced staff specializes in the treatment of young adult men (18-30).

FBI Film About Opioid Addiction

addictionThere is no question, the opioid epidemic in the United States is both unprecedented and insidious; however, if there is a silver lining to be found it is that the crisis has forced an evolution to occur regarding how we, as a nation, both view and talk about addiction. For years, addiction experts have said that addiction does not discriminate – an assertion that was hard for many lawmakers to accept; however, in the wake of the scourge of opioid addiction affecting practically every demographic throughout the nation for well over a decade – we are now seeing a paradigm shift with how lawmakers believe we should handle this calamity.

It has become clear that we cannot arrest this epidemic away, as we tried to do during the 1980’s through the ‘90s with the cocaine problem in America. The use of draconian drug laws to combat addiction focused more on the symptoms of addiction and did little to address the disease of addiction. Addiction cannot be treated with steel bars, solutions can only be found with evidence-based, scientifically accepted methods of substance use disorder treatment. With 44 people dying from overdoses every day, there is a great need for expanded access to both the life saving opioid overdose reversal drug naloxone and to substance use disorder treatment services.

In recent months, there has been an inter-agency push to get those struggling with addiction the help they need without fear of prosecution. Overdose survivors do not need to fear be arrested, and are actually being directed to rehabilitation services. In fact, the President is asking Congress for $1.1 billion to expand access to addiction treatment services; in some places, addicts who would like help have to wait up to a month to get a bed at treatment centers.

While making treatment more available is huge and has the potential to save thousands of lives, there is also a need for more in the way of prevention through education. Recently, both the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) joined forces to make a film about the opioid epidemic – aimed at youth, The Washington Post reports. The goal is to prevent adolescents from abusing prescription opioids, which is strongly believed to be the link to beginning heroin use. The film: “Chasing the Dragon: The Life of an Opiate Addict” was produced at the insistence of James Comey, the current Director of the FBI.

“You will see in ‘Chasing the Dragon’ opioid abusers that have traveled a remarkably dangerous and self-destructive path,” said Acting DEA Administrator Chuck Rosenberg. “I hope this will be a wakeup call for folks. Please pay close attention to this horrific epidemic. Help reverse it. Save a life. Save a friend. Save a loved one.”

We hope that you will watch Chasing the Dragon below:

If you are having trouble watching the film, please click here.