Category Archives: Addiction

Addiction In The Elderly

Addiction in the ElderlyProblems with addiction can affect people of all ages. Unfortunately, senior citizens face an increased risk of complications and mortality as the result of substance abuse. Learning more about elderly substance abuse can help those senior citizens affected find help, hope, and a better quality of life during the late stages of life.

According to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, Inc., 2.5 million seniors have a problem with drugs or alcohol. Almost half of all nursing home residents have alcohol abuse problems, and physicians hand out around 17 million prescriptions for potentially addictive sedatives and painkillers. Benzodiazepines top the list for prescription substance abuse across all ages.

Why Senior Citizens Abuse Substances

Senior citizens who abused substances at an earlier age may continue to engage in self-abusive behaviors later in life. These individuals are long-term drug abusers who now fall into the category of elder substance abusers.

Like substance abuse in younger people and adults, late-onset elderly substance abuse begins with unhappiness, loneliness, boredom, or a desire to change. Instead of seeking support and help from others, many seniors turn to alcohol or prescription drugs.

Some senior citizens may develop a substance abuse problem unintentionally. They may forget when they took their last pills or accidentally take the wrong dose. Physicians can also prescribe potentially addictive pain relief substances without asking about or being told about other prescriptions. Seniors may avoid telling physicians about one prescription or another, and within a period of months, they experience the signs of addiction.

The Importance Of Substance Abuse Recovery In Elderly Individuals

Addiction is unhealthy at any age, but it presents particular risks for elders. Senior citizens don’t have the same metabolisms as younger people, and their brains may react more easily to certain substances and to lower dosages.

Over time, physicians may diagnose side effects as other health complications, including diabetes and depression. An addicted person’s health will continue to decline due to overmedication and a failure to address the root cause. Without treatment, addicted seniors can face an increased risk for heart attacks, stroke, fractures, and other potentially serious health conditions. At any age, substance abuse contributes to an increased risk of death.

With substance abuse help, seniors can take steps to overcome withdrawal and regain a previous quality of life. Those who recover may experience improved energy levels, better mood stability, and more meaningful connections with loved ones.

Signs Of Addiction In The Elderly

Loved ones often play an important role in substance abuse identification and recovery. Family members and close friends can watch out for the following symptoms as red flags of a potentially harmful situation:

  • Memory problems not associated with a diagnosed medical condition
  • Unexplained bruises or broken bones
  • Complaints of chronic pain
  • A desire to spend an inordinate amount of time alone
  • Failing to maintain basic hygiene
  • Loss of interest in life or relationships
  • Loss of interest in activities that once brought an elderly person joy
  • Overeating or not eating enough

Many of these symptoms are also warning signs for other medical conditions or even elder abuse, making substance abuse somewhat difficult to spot. Someone close to an elderly individual who understands the person’s lifestyle, habits, preexisting health conditions, and medication regimen may have a better opportunity to recognize potential warning signs of substance abuse.

What To Do If You Suspect Substance Abuse

If you notice any symptoms of substance abuse, consider checking prescriptions for appropriate dosing. For alcohol abuse, you may find evidence of consumption in hidden areas around the home or in the trash. Take the time to discuss a possible problem with alcohol or prescription medications.

Avoid using an accusatory tone or language. Instead, you can offer to help. Seniors who abuse substances will likely need help from a qualified recovery support center. Talk with possible recovery programs about the intervention and recovery process. Elderly individuals often need specialized care to detox and recover from substance abuse without experiencing serious health complications.

Awareness can improve response to substance abuse in seniors. Instead of ignoring the situation, family members and loved ones must take an active role in understanding, preventing, and addressing elder substance abuse.

New Discoveries In The Science Of Addiction

New Discoveries In The Science Of AddictionOpioid addiction is a serious problem across the country. An estimated 2.1 million people in the United States are dealing with an addiction to prescription opioid pain relievers. Another 500,000 suffer from a dependency on heroin. The consequences of these numbers are devastating, and unfortunately, the number of cases is rising.

Overdose deaths are soaring; they have more than quadrupled since 1999. Of course, this isn’t news—media outlets have been covering the many occurrences of heroin-related overdoses and fatalities throughout the country, in both rural and urban areas. Most overdoses are fatal. Sometimes this is from using alone, but it’s often from fear of arrest. Users are reluctant to call 911 and report using illegal drugs, and those who are using with the person in danger may be equally afraid of the police.

Treating Opioid Addiction

Finding viable treatment options is vital for saving lives across the nation. Scientists have been creating new technology to help people live more normal lives while recovering from drug dependency. In many cases, the symptoms of withdrawal are too severe for individuals to cope, and so they return to taking the drug. Because of this, quitting alone is rarely effective—and in some cases, it can be dangerous.

Medication-assisted therapy, or MAT, is the most effective way to treat opioid addiction. Buprenorphine is the gold standard drug for treatment. It’s a partial opioid agonist, working similarly as other opioids, but more safely. This helps provide relief from withdrawal symptoms with greatly reduced risks. Buprenorphine can allow for:

  • Less euphoria and lower risk of dependence
  • Less potential for misuse
  • Relatively mild withdrawal issues
  • Blocked effects from other opioids
  • Support during treatment
  • Suppressed opioid withdrawal symptoms
  • Suppressed opioid cravings
  • Reduced opioid use

These benefits have helped the drug become a popular answer for addiction problems across the nation. The most effective MAT treatments available take advantage of the medication.

Atrigel® From Indivior

One of the methods pending FDA approval is RBP-6000. It’s made possible by the Atrigel® system, which is a delivery complex placed subcutaneously on the addict. It works the same way as a nicotine patch: it’s stored on the body and diffused over time.

The main difference between it and a nicotine patch is that it’s injected into the skin instead of being applied on top of it. RBP-6000 is stored in a polymer matrix that’s completely biodegradable. Another compound (n-methyl pyrrolidone) ensures that the buprenorphine is controlled and released over a period of about a month. This type of steady, dependable application helps further reduce the risks of withdrawal symptoms and other opioid cravings.

Because of the opioid abuse epidemic that we’re facing, the FDA has granted RBP-6000 fast-track designation. The sooner it’s released on the market, the sooner people can begin battling their addictions. The pharmaceutical company, Indivior, hopes to apply for approval in early 2017.

Probuphine From Titan Pharmaceuticals

Another alternative to dissolvable tablets (the method originally developed for buprenorphine), is Probuphine. It was developed with the ProNeura platform, and like RBP-6000, it’s placed beneath the skin. That’s where the similarities end, however.

A physician places four small “rods” within the patient’s arm. These sections are each no bigger than a matchstick. They sit comfortably within the skin and release a constant, low dose of medicine for an astounding six months—which means much more consistency for the patient and less roller coaster–like withdrawal symptoms. The FDA has already approved the treatment.

Many clinics are learning how to properly administer these implants. Because they require no maintenance for such a long period of time, it’s easier for individuals to focus on therapy and quitting other opioids.

Whether it’s subcutaneous gel or small implants, treatment options for opioid addiction are increasing. New discoveries are leading to dependable and effective solutions that help patients find a more natural rhythm in their lives.

Your Guide To Substance Abuse Interventions

Substance Abuse InterventionsAddiction can change a person’s life. Substance abuse can alter priorities, motivations, and personalities. When a person doesn’t want to face a personal drug abuse problem, someone else must step in and offer assistance. Interventions are designed to help an individual realize and accept the need for treatment.

What Is A Formal Intervention?

Most interventions involve education, preparation, and some form of meeting. Since many substance abusers experience extreme denial regarding the substance abuse, interventions are designed to help addicts understand how behaviors impact themselves and others.

An intervention should never feel like an accusation, punishment, or forced communication. Instead, it should serve as a supportive and eye-opening experience for the person suffering from addiction and those wanting to contribute to the recovery process.

When Is An Intervention Needed?

Not all substance abusers require an intervention. Some recognize the problem with little or no input from loved ones or communities. Others, however, can’t see how addictive behaviors can negatively affect others. The addict may not realize or may deny a substance abuse problem. Anyone who needs motivation to seek rehabilitation, therapy, or outside support can benefit from an intervention.

Types Of Interventions

Intervention methods aren’t one-size-fits-all. Depending on the level of denial and an individual’s relationship with a support network, some types of intervention prove more effective than others. Some of the most common types of interventions include:

  • CRAFT (Community Reinforcement Approach and Family Training Model). Instead of sitting down with someone who suffers from addiction, this approach values a more indirect approach. In this method, loved ones use encouraging strategies to help the addict arrive at the conclusion of recovery. CRAFT works because it focuses on indirect motivation instead of a direct confrontation.
  • Johnson Intervention Model. The stereotypical intervention model, this approach relies on the success of a surprise meeting and confrontation. During this type of intervention, loved ones may share the effects of addiction and pledge their support to the recovery process. This approach can put a substance abuser on the defensive and can move the person farther away from successful treatment.
  • Invitational Model. Like the Johnson Intervention Model, this approach requires an in-person meeting. Instead of a surprise, however, the substance abuser is provided details of what will take place and must make a personal choice to attend the intervention.

Recovery specialists also use other intervention models that blend the approaches of these three basic models. These intervention approaches all serve the ultimate goal of bringing awareness of the problem into the substance abuser’s life.

How To Stage An Intervention For A Loved One

Investing in an intervention typically indicates a substance abuser crossed an invisible line. The addiction is causing noticeable harm to the addict and to the surrounding community. Realizing the possibility of a DUI accident, seeing a loved one’s personality slip away, or recognizing poor performance in daily activities all serve as impetuses for staging an intervention. Consider these tips for creating a successful encounter:

  • Formalize the plan. Do consider asking for help from a qualified recovery specialist. Someone who understands addiction can guide friends and family in the right direction and reduce the risk of negative consequences.
  • Research. Try to discover how much alcohol or drugs affect a loved one’s life. Understand the recovery process for certain substances, and explore possible treatment programs available to the individual. Many substance abusers must check into an inpatient facility to detox and begin the road to recovery.
  • Commit to consequences. Consequences can serve as a powerful motivator. If the individual doesn’t agree to the terms of the intervention, consequences—such as avoiding enabling activities—can serve as more of an eye-opening experience.
  • Stay in touch. Someone needs to follow up after an intervention to ensure the loved one stays in treatment, feels supported, or has access to recovery at any point.

Addiction is a powerful enemy. People who suffer from substance abuse need support, guidance, and tough love to recover fully and permanently. Consider partnering with a team of professionals and loved ones who can commit to helping someone overcome substance abuse.

The Growing Problem With A New “O”

 Pathways -- The Growing Problem With A New O -- 08-23-16

As the abuse of Oxycontin has declined in the Sacramento region and throughout the nation due to a change in manufacturing methods, a new form of opiate with twice the strength of Oxycontin has begun to take its place.  The new pill is called Opana, or oxymorphone hydrochloride, and it can be crushed and chewed, snorted, and even injected.  As a result, admissions for Opana addiction treatment are on the rise while addiction treatment for Oxycontin abuse is declining.

Street Names for Opana

Street names for Opana include O’s, Blue Heaven, Blues, Mrs. O, New Blues, Octagons, Oranges, Orgasna IR, OM, Pink, Pink Heaven, Pink Lady, Pink O, Stop Signs, and The O Bomb.  The color references in these slang terms refer to the strength of the Opana pill.  For the older, round Opana pills 5 mg pills are blue and 10 mg pills are pink.  The newer, extended relief versions of Opana are octagonal in shape like a stop sign and come in a variety of colors and higher strengths including the following:

  • Pink octagonal Opana pills are 5mg
  • Orange octagonal Opana pills are 10mg
  • White octagonal Opana pills are 15mg
  • Green octagonal Opana pills are 20mg
  • Red octagonal Opana pills are 30mg
  • Yellow octagonal Opana pills are 40mg

With the higher doses available for the extended relief versions, Opana addiction treatment admissions have accelerated recently within the Sacramento treatment community and elsewhere.

Opana Abuse and Addiction

Similar to Oxycontin, Opana addiction can happen quickly especially when the person has been abusing Oxycontin or other opiates like heroin, Norco, or Vicodin.  Even if the Opana has been legitimately prescribed by a doctor for pain, however, those using Opana can inadvertently become addicted very quickly as well, resulting in the need for Opana addiction treatment for people with no history of drug abuse.

Addiction Treatment For Opana Abuse

Opana addiction treatment is similar to drug treatment for other forms of opiates.  A proper Opana addiction treatment will begin with a detox in either a residential detox treatment facility or possibly a hospital setting.  The withdrawal symptoms during the detox stage of the Opana addiction treatment are very similar to other opiate withdrawals.  Opana withdrawal symptoms include muscle cramping, bone pain, nausea and vomiting, and emotional distress.  Because of the difficulties associated with the detox stage of the Opana addiction treatment, it is important for the addict to undergo the detox process in a controlled environment where addiction treatment professionals will help them through the hardest parts of the withdrawal process.

Medical Detox and Treatment for Opana

As with other forms of addiction treatment for opiate abuse, rapid Opana addiction treatment under the supervision of a doctor in a hospital setting is available as well, however, this form of Opana addiction treatment is very costly and the benefits of rapid Opana addiction treatment when compared to other less costly forms of Opana addiction treatment has not been documented.

After the detox process is complete, it is almost guaranteed that further Opana addiction treatment will be required, especially for those individuals with a history of opiate addiction or other forms of substance abuse.  After detox, Opana addiction treatment could include a longer term stay in a residential treatment facility (AKA rehab), intensive outpatient counseling, or pychosocial activities like attendance at 12 step meetings.

Whatever method of Opana addiction treatment is pursued, it is important to note that long term abuse and addiction to Opana and other forms of opiates will lead to damage to internal organs like the heart and liver, as well as other cardiopulmonary diseases like pneumonia.  Ultimately, the longer a person abuses Opana and other opiates the more likely they will begin to ignore personal hygiene, alienate themselves from friends and family, and drastically shorten their life expectancy.

Don't let this new form of opiate tear apart your family or someone you love.  Contact Pathways Recovery to talk to a counselor about your options for Opana addiction treatment.


Opiate Addiction Treatment With Vivitrol

Pathways-- Opiate Addiction Treatment With Vivitrol -- 08-23-16Opiate Addiction Addiction Treatment (Updated)

Back in October of last year (2010), the FDA approved the use of Vivitrol for treatment of opiate addiction. After opiate detox treatment (usually 7 to 10 days), the person struggling with opiate addiction is provided Vivitrol on a once monthly schedule with an intramuscular injection to help prevent relapse and a slip back into their addiction.

Vivitrol For Opiate Addiction Treatment

As of today, Vivitrol is the only non-narcotic medication approved for the prevention of relapse and a return to opiate addiction. After a period of abstinence usually following opiate detox treatment, Vivitrol is administered once per month by a healthcare professional through an intramuscular injection. Being non-narcotic, Vivitrol is the only non-addictive, non-scheduled opiate antagonist that blocks the euphoric effects of opiates that people seek when they are active in their opiate addiction. While it is not a cure-all for opiate addiction, it is believe that Vivitrol can help opiate addicts maintain their abstinence when implemented with counseling and other non-professional recovery work such as regular attendance at 12 step meetings.

Approval of Vivitrol by the FDA

Approval of Vivitrol by the FDA represents an important step forward in the treatment of opiate addiction because it is the first non-addictive, non-scheduled, opiate antagonist available for the treatment of opiate addiction. Previously only other forms of scheduled narcotics such as Methadone and Buprenorphine (Suboxone and Subutex) were available for treatment of opiate addiction. Historical data has shown that many opiate addicts treated with these other narcotic regimens for opiate addiction ended up exchanging one addiction for another or bouncing back and forth between their prescribed treatment narcotic (Methadone, Buprenorphine, etc.) and the drug of choice for their opiate addiction (Heroin, OxyCodone, etc).

In addition to opiate addiction, Vivitrol may be suitable for the treatment of alcohol dependence. As with opiate addicts, the patient will need to abstain from alcohol prior to initiation of treatment.

If you or a loved one is struggling with opiate addiction, contact us today to discuss your options for opiate detox treatment as well as longer term opiate addiction treatment including the potential use of Vivitrol.

Substance Abuse Treatment In The Military

Substance Abuse Treatment in the MilitaryMany people use drugs and alcohol as coping mechanisms. They find relief and distraction with routine consumption. Stressful jobs or past experiences increase the chance that an individual will turn to substance abuse. Naturally, the strain that those who serve in the military endure puts them at an even higher risk for substance abuse.

The suicide rate among our country’s service men and women is rapidly escalating. Experts agree that repeated deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan are likely connected to this number. Our forces are traveling to hostile lands multiple times; for them, deployments can feel interminable. The result is that more and more military personnel are seeing longer and more frequent tours of duty.

A Rise In Military Suicides

For the past seven years, military suicide rates have been on the rise. Experts are now claiming that this could be the new “normal” statistic. In 2015, there were 256 suicides for active-duty personnel alone. An estimated 18-22 veterans commit suicide each and every day.

Although all suicide rates have increased nationally, the statistics involving soldiers’ suicides are particularly grim. Those in the military—both who have been sent to wars and those who haven’t—suffer the loss of those men and women. The loss of like-minded individuals and friends at such a rate can cause anxiety and stress. This is one of the reasons why so many veterans and active-duty individuals turn to drugs and alcohol.

Searching For Relief With Drugs

Illicit drug use rates are actually lower in the military than they are among civilians. Of course, they are likely being tested during active duty, when there is little downtime. When they are on base, drugs are much more difficult to procure, and drug tests are common. Instead of using illegal drugs, however, many military personnel rely on heavy alcohol and tobacco use. Others will fall victim to cycles of prescription drug abuse.

Unfortunately, searching for relief through these outlets increases the risk of suicide. Alcohol, for example, is a depressant. Despite the fact that it’s associated with fun and socialization, drinking can pull a person’s mood even further down if he or she is already depressed. In more than 25% of suicides, the individual was intoxicated at the time.

Prescription drugs can boost this risk, too. Dependency and withdrawal symptoms, such as hallucinations and mood swings, may be enough to encourage suicide in an already depressed individual. Painkillers, psychotropics, and antidepressants are some of the most powerful drugs available with a prescription, and they are also ones that present the greatest risk of suicide with their use.

Other Drug Risks

Even without considering the increase in suicide rates, abusing alcohol and other drugs is dangerous. Tobacco is known to cause lung, mouth, and throat cancer among users. Different applications offer different targeted risks, although mouth and throat cancer are the most common. Using cigarettes or chewing tobacco also increases the risk of heart disease and damages the physical appearance. Long-term use manifests with yellowed fingers, rotting teeth, and less elastic skin.

Alcohol causes dangerous and often deadly accidents. Driving under the influence is a factor in 28 fatal crashes per day. It also contributes to countless non-fatal but serious accidents, such as slips falls. Regular consumption negatively affects the liver, gastrointestinal system, and esophagus.

The risks for prescription drugs vary widely depending on the drug in question, but most present strong withdrawal symptoms with continued use. These effects can range from tremors and itching to hallucinations.

Seeking Help

It can be remarkably difficult for active duty personnel to seek help for a drug or alcohol dependence. There’s usually a stigma associated with addiction, particularly among the armed forces. Strict no-tolerance policies can leave staff fearful that seeking assistance will cost them their jobs. Such factors prevent many people from finding the guidance that they need.

There are a few veteran programs available, which the VA partially funds. Individuals must qualify for treatment and enroll in one of the care programs. Active duty personnel are left with fewer options, and unfortunately, this inequality is rarely discussed. It’s hard to cope with deployment on its own, but substance abuse can make it even more difficult.

For now, private treatment facilities are the best option for military staff seeking help. These organizations offer special care while catering to their patients’ specific needs. Different options are available depending on the severity of the addiction, so individuals can get the help that they need to abstain and recover.