Black Balloons In Memory of Loved Ones

In this blog, the subjects of research and legislation and other factors that affect the future of south Florida rehab centers is often the focus, with a little dash of interesting stories about a survivor here or there throw in and a sprinkle of public education. However, people with substance use disorders aren’t always able to benefit from blogs like this or even residential detox or anything comparable to south Florida quality drug rehab programs. Many of them find themselves leaving behind families and loved ones, having fallen before the chronic illness of substance use disorder instead of ending up in the local news website with a story of inspiration intended for others to find strength in who are going through the same thing. The people in this unfortunate situation of passing on and losing the battle against addiction totalled more than 70,000 last year, more people than died from car accidents during the same period.

In Midland, Michigan, the survivors have taken up the task of reminding everyone that these aren’t statistics or just numbers, but people that had families, children, brothers and sisters that miss them. Unified by their loss of a loved one to addiction, people like Alyssa Wood are carrying black balloons with a message of love and the name of the person they lost written on it for a day.

“I’ve really used her passing as kind of a motive to go out and teach about stigma reduction and to do prevention work,” Wood said in an interview with their local NBC affiliate. Her work is cut out for her. Even within hospitals with trained physicians, identifying much less not holding social biases against someone who they suspect might be affected by addiction is still rather common and the public is largely lagging behind what they know.  

Psychologists and statisticians who have studied the phenomenon of ‘stigma’ agree that when putting a cultural bias towards something, it doesn’t matter if that thing is right or wrong, good or bad, it will influence people toward that bias or belief. This includes the belief that addiction itself is of a moral failing and that the only proper way to handle it is through passing judgement on the choices made by that person. This usually has the opposite effect culturally, and those suffering from addiction will often hide their condition for fear of judgement or in the case of illegal drugs, criminal penalty.

In fact, one of the goals of this blog is the same as these black balloons, but sometimes, it helps to put the idea into physical reality, that people were lost and they were important to their families, not junkies that were already ‘thrown away by society’, but everyday people, neighbors, friends…and family.  If the research, expert opinions, results of studies and practical aspects of it don’t make people see addiction as far more complicated than simply ‘bad choices’ or ‘moral failings’, maybe these black balloons will.

Addiction is a chronic illness that gets more severe the longer it is left untreated. If you or someone you love is suffering from substance use disorder, call First Step Behavioral Health at (866) 319-6126.

More Support For Holistic Treatment

Specialists in addiction treatment, from alcohol rehabs in Pompano to leading academic researchers, know that holistic treatment is the best approach to help a person cope with substance use disorder. The best substance abuse treatment Florida offers know that oftentimes addiction comes hand in hand with untreated mental health issues and can also be influenced by environment and even genetics. Recently, researchers discovered there’s about a twenty five percent overlap of people with chronic addictions and people with undiagnosed attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Finding more links like these strengthens the case to make addiction treatment required to address mental health for a full holistic and, more importantly, effective treatment for patients who put their faith in their south Florida rehab centers.

In Ohio, Lorain County is attempting to make inroads not only in the public understanding the inherent complexities of addiction, but also ensure that the more effective approach to treatment and therapy is the one that is most deployed. Every other county in the state has merged their boards for mental health and alcohol and drug addiction services due to the evidence that they are often related and now Lorain County is to complete their merger soon.

“Let’s change the daily conversation of one group only talking about mental health while another group only talks about addiction. Let’s make the daily mission about working together by sharing knowledge and resources to better serve our community,” said Commissioner Matt Lundy.

The public and, indeed, even medical professionals, especially physicians, still hold very outdated views about addiction, which often include moral judgement and championing the idea of ‘choice’ as both the indictment of and solution to addiction. Judgement itself often leads to people suffering from substance use disorders to not seek treatment. Even mental health itself, separate away from addiction, is also stigmatized to a degree, as well. Whether the macho manliness of not wanting to share emotions or cry in front of others, or the idea that other people will think a person is crazy for being diagnosed with rather common mental illness issues that don’t really make that person psychotic or crazy, mental health is also looked at some crooked scheme for people to take advantage of one another or worse.

With Ohio’s symbolic merger of these two fields into a singular field, it means that the conversation is indeed going forward and people are discovering that there’s more to substance abuse than things like choice or even the substance itself in many cases, that mental health issues like depression, anxiety, trauma, and other conditions like ADHD and post traumatic stress disorder can fuel addiction as well as provide a risk for trying controlled substances.  

The opioid crisis has proven that addiction can happen to anyone for any reason and that it’s a serious issue that requires professional treatment and holistic approach because it’s not something that can simply be given a magic cure-all pill.  Maybe one day, but for now, this is the best approach and hopefully more states and counties countrywide will follow the suit of Ohio if they have not already.

Addiction is a serious chronic illness that requires professional treatment from counselors that specialize in substance use disorder. Call First Step Behavioral Health at (866) 319-6126 if you or someone you know might be struggling with addiction.

Funding the Future of Addiction Research

Substance use disorder is a relatively new field of research compared to many other kinds of medicine and even in psychology, which is itself a young field of study. Neurobiology and genetics are also new field of research but with each study, we discover more about our world, our place in it and our own nature and the nature of things that lead people to need south Florida rehab centers for their condition. Even though the entire nature of addiction is not fully understood, south Florida drug rehab facilities still use the most up-to-date information possible and frequently look to new studies to constantly improve their approach in treatment.

One such area of study is the relationship of genetics to risk of addiction. Maine’s Jackson Laboratory is receiving $255,000 from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to further explore the nature of a person’s genetic makeup and how it can affect a person’s ability to develop substance use disorders, how their own genetics can change as a result of the condition as well as how genetics may increase difficulties in treatment.

The vice president of Jackson Laboratory comment, “[The grant] is an important step in propelling our work forward to help people around the world impacted by addiction.”

Currently, it’s understood that genetics play approximately role of about fifty percent in a person’s risk factors to develop and recover from substance use disorders. This means that if two people are in identical environmental and societal situations, but one has genes that have been identified to put them at risk for addiction to a substance, then that risk, at worse, for that person is fifty percent higher than the person without any genetic components factoring in.

Substance use disorders themselves trigger genetic traits that can remain dormant in a person’s neurobiology or can ‘rewire’ a normal function that genetics are typically in charge of. There’s not any current medications that can directly affect these traits at the moment, but as they say in treatment, “Identifying a problem is the first step to treating it”. Currently, science is still doing much of the identification process which will contribute to future treatment options that are likely to be far more effective. Even considering the spotty scientific understanding of addiction the medical and psychology fields have about addiction, the results of implementing this knowledge into treatment for things like oxycodone withdrawal symptoms is far more effective than the traditional faith-based/twelve-step programs that many people believe are the most effective, despite evidence showing the contrary.

Holistic treatments that bring together research and evidence from multiple fields that include medical communities, scientific communities, psychiatry communities and psychology communities have proven to have a far higher success rate in treating substance use disorders and this new research project will only strengthen this approach in the future.

For individuals and families fighting with addiction to prescription, illicit, or purchasable substances, be it alcohol, opioids, heroin, or anything else, contact First Step Behavioral Health as soon as possible. The earlier treatment is received, the higher the likelihood that the addiction will end once and for all. Give us a call today at (866) 319-6126 to learn more about addiction treatment in Pompano.

Identifying Genetic Addiction Risks

The scientific community is already at a consensus that at least half of a reason that someone develops an addiction requiring substance abuse treatment in Florida is due to genetic makeup. That is not to say that if you have the genes in question leaning toward inflating risk factors means that you will, one day, require the services of south Florida rehab centers, but that coming into contact with addictive substances increases your risk of developing addiction after contact compared to someone who genetically is not predisposed to addiction. Many people think that genetics are used as an excuse for moral failings, but recent science has been uncovering more and more about the mechanics of addiction through neurobiological research and genetic inspection as well as experiments with rats and, for instance, cocaine, a known highly addictive substance.

Recently, the University of Cambridge’s Department of Psychiatry published a study further identifying some of the genetic factors that play a role in addiction, specifically with younger people. As it’s already known, the adult brain isn’t truly fully developed until a person reaches their early twenties. Coming into contact with addictive substances can have a different genetic outcome based on age as well, the study concludes.

According to the study, there is “a strong association between increased behavioral impulsivity in young adults and abnormalities in nerve cells in the putamen, a key brain region involved in addictive disorders.”

Dr. Camilla Nord of MRC Cognition and Brain Sciences unit and lead author of the study, which involve ninety-nine participates aged 16-26, adds “People who show heightened impulsivity are more likely to experience a number of mental health issues, including substance and behavioral addictions, eating disorders and [attention deficit hyperactivity disorder].”

The overall takeaway from their research, which monitored brain activity through a series of tests using brain imaging technology, was that impulsivity is an ‘endophenotype’; a set of behavioral and brain changes that increases people’s general risk for developing a group of psychiatric and neurological disorders, one of them being substance use disorder or addiction. By identifying these functions, which control dopamine release and other behavioral neurobiological chemicals that control behavior in the brain, it may one day be possible to either reverse or the effects of the hijacking of these systems by substance use or at the very least provide something akin to a ‘vaccine’ that reduces the risk of developing addictions (or any of the other related behavioral disorders) prior to coming into contact with the risks themselves.

As the addiction crisis in America continues on, it will be dependant on the findings of research like this to make a massive dent in the numbers of people affected by substance use disorder. It’s estimated that around two million Americans nationwide suffer from some form of substance use disorder with only a fraction even diagnosed and an even smaller number of people actually in treatment. About fifty percent of the population continues to believe addiction is a moral failing or lack of personal judgement or other cultural superstition.

If you or someone you know is suffering from substance use disorder, a call to First Step Behavioral Health can help manage the illness. Call (866) 319-6126 for treatment options such as residential detox.

Understanding Your Prescription Options Can Prevent Addiction

There is a saying that ‘Knowledge is Power’.  In the world of consumer advocacy, this is probably one of the most true statements one can make. Considering that the United States largely operates on a consumer/market model for things like dentistry, being an informed consumer could be the difference between a successful visit with no problems or having to check into a south Florida rehab center for oxycodone withdrawal symptoms. The opioid crisis is often framed as ‘the opioid’ crisis with one or two names of drugs frequenting the news, often being oxycodone and heroin, but the truth is, opioids have many forms and names and even dentists have been living by the ‘ignorance is bliss’ saying rather than taking the initiative to understanding the drugs they prescribe for operations such as wisdom tooth removal.

As a consumer in a ‘free market’ such as this, it’s important to understand what exactly the risks are of drugs prescribed to you by a physician or dentist. While they may be experts on knowing what drugs will operate as a painkiller, they may not be aware of the addictive properties of said painkillers when prescribing them.  A recent article in the Washington Post by Ronnie Cohen described their own personal lack of attention paid to a relatively harmless situation.

“A few days before extracting my teenager’s wisdom teeth, an oral surgeon wrote him a prescription for painkillers. My son filled it but never felt a need for anything stronger than ibuprofen. Three years later, I found an unopened bottle of Percocet—an opioid– in the back of a bathroom cabinet. I had no idea a dentist had prescribed..the highly addictive pills.”

According to the Journal of the American Dental Association, dentists prescribe twelve percent of all painkilling opioids and family doctors prescribe fifteen percent. An American Dental Association survey of 563 oral surgeons in 2004 revealed that eight-five percent of oral surgeons wrote opioid prescriptions to their patients after removing wisdom teeth.

While some operations and injuries do require heavy doses of painkillers, it’s often overkill for many kinds of visits. Anti-inflammatory analgesics like ibuprofen often end up being a more beneficial choice, not only for its lack of addictive properties, but also for effectiveness in minimizing associated pain. When coupled with the fact that many people who find themselves inside the halls of a south Florida detox program often find they have undiagnosed secondary mental health issues like depression or anxiety, it becomes even more important to really pay attention to what a doctor or dentist prescribes as it may be the difference between a simple procedure or a complicated lifelong chronic illness known as addiction.

As more studies come about showing the harmful effects of such drugs, physicians will eventually become aware of the carelessness on their part with their patients lives. Until then, however, you as the consumer have to exercise your role as being informed as possible when going into these situations. Otherwise, you’re playing roulette and the losses can be up to and including your life.

If you are or someone you know might be suffering from substance use disorder, call First Step Behavioral Health at (866) 319-6126 for treatment options.

Colorado Attempts To Fast Track Addiction Treatment From the ER

For many people who are looking for south Florida rehab centers, whether for themselves or someone else, one of the places that would seem like a major help often isn’t: the hospital. Finding drug rehab in Ft. Lauderdale, for instance, often times won’t be a referral from a doctor but more likely from an internet search or even something like a billboard on the side of the freeway. Considering the serious health issues that come with addiction, it’s somewhat bizarre that this is the case for most hospitals, that they are neither equipped to really identify addiction in its early stages nor know where to send people for treatment if they even diagnose it.

Colorado has noticed this deficiency in their healthcare organizations and have decided to look for solution, as have many states. Their particular approach is to start getting many of their physicians certified to administer buprenorphine and other medical assisted treatment drugs in their hospitals for addictions that have MAT’s (certain substances do not have any medications of this sort available, the most notable and dangerous being methamphetamine). The efforts are being made in an attempt to at least try and ‘kickstart’ a path into a professional treatment facility by being the first contact with addiction help, primarily in the ER where hospital staff frequently will come into contact with people suffering from an overdose.

There has already been a federal push to fund drugs like naloxone, which is one of many opioid-based nullifying drugs which can prevent overdose as well as partially or completely eliminate both withdrawal symptoms and cravings for further opioid use.

With this new Colorado proposal, a biophysical assessment performed by a licensed therapist at the point of contact inside the hospital will give potential candidates the opportunity to begin their early treatment through the hospital itself through MAT’s such as prescription buprenorphine. The program hopes to encourage not only medical staff to better understand addiction, since even today many physicians still internalize a belief that addiction is a purely self-inflicted morality failure, but also to prevent overdoses and fast track people suffering from substance use disorders into a treatment that can truly help them.

As the country, as well as Florida and it’s plethora of south Florida drug rehab facilities and treatment centers, continues to handle this issue independently, the conversation’s movement and the public opinion needle are slowly inching toward what many believe will be far more effective in this issue which is the marriage of mental health and physical health both in terms of coverage of insurance as well as offerings from medical establishments, especially where conditions like addiction concern both simultaneously. Often times, it’s not enough to simply beat the physical dependency of a substance, but to undergo behavioral therapy and psychological treatments that give a person in recovery the tools to resist cravings and relapse triggers.

If you or someone you know is looking for substance use disorder treatment, call First Step Behavioral Health at (866) 319-6126 for treatment options.

It Takes A Village

One of the most concerning aspects that South Florida rehab centers have concern for with people who go through treatment is the long term ability for a person to remain free from their substance use disorder. While south Florida detox, and by extension residential detox, focus on the short term, rehab differs in that it’s goals aren’t for the now, but for the future. For many people coming into treatment, they’ve often created a situation which leaves them isolated, void of a social network outside of that which serves the addiction they’ve developed. Finding a new network that encourages sobriety and helps a recovering addict focus on their goals instead of abusing a substance is a challenge, and oftentimes the biggest challenge.

An old proverb states, ‘It takes a village to raise a child’, but in reality, it takes a village to obtain results which benefit the individual as well as the group or community they belong to. Forming bonds that show by example how to handle problems and passes education and encouragement in a bidirectional motion is one of the most important tools a recovering addict can ever receive.

While in treatment, therapies of all kinds, including mental health and emotional well being, in addition to activity therapies such as physical activity and creative activities, are deployed to assist with helping a patient find new outlets to cope with their condition, there is something unique about a community and belonging which helps to reinforce sobriety. While in most cases, it’s rather ridiculous to rely on bronze age thinking for modern problems in modern times with modern research, it’s well known that community has insanely strong influences on an individual’s behavior. We no longer have villages in modern America an idea, but a community is a proper stand-in for the saying; “It takes a community to help an addict stay sober and focused”.

There are several aspects of community building, but often times, the isolation involved and the previous community that reinforces drug use are heavy barriers to overcome. It becomes less a problem of building a community but rather replacing the one that has supported the negative habits and substance use disorder instead. One could think of it as replacing caffeinated coffee with decaf; the surface level observation is very similar, it’s what you can’t see that makes the impact.

If people were serious about combating addiction nationwide, there would be far less judgement of people suffering from substance use disorders and far more reaching out and building relationships and making public invites to more productive behaviors in groups. It may seem silly, but even something as simple as a group that goes to watch movies once or twice a week can do so much for someone, giving them a place to feel they belong and replacing their solitary activity of drug use with a community activity that can take the place of the unhealthy ones that develop from addiction.

If you are suffering from substance use disorder, please call First Step Behavioral Health at (866) 319-6126 to discuss a personally tailored treatment option that works for you.

Treatment Advanced

A continually common belief in a good portion of the public, regardless of they’ve gone through substance abuse treatment in Florida or not, is that addiction is not only a moral failing but requires a moral dispositional shift in order to kick the habit. The War On Drugs policy, instituted in 1971 by Richard Nixon, is still ongoing and was built on this viewpoint. It has damaged not only research into addiction, but also dispersing the most up to date information about it and in the process, treating addicts as morally bankrupt criminals instead of what has actually happened which is a change of brain chemistry and introduced a synthetic mental illness it’s resulted in destroying not only the lives of addicts themselves but the families they belonged to.

Not many people who have been in a 12-step program realize that the entire premise is of moral correction. The primary focus of programs like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA) is to attempt to not only remove the autonomy of a person’s ability to make good decisions by having them accept that they don’t make good decisions, but that the only way to make good decisions is by submitting to a ‘higher power’. These days, it groups are more or less non-religious and don’t specifically harp on God or Christianity, but many will still use the term G.O.D., a shorthand for ‘Good Order and Discipline’. The overt spirituality, however, remains in nearly all 12-step programs which has been repeatedly found in medical and scientific communities to have very little positive results, especially in the long term.

While it is unfortunate that the opioid epidemic has occurred, one heavily racial element of it is that it has overtaken white communities and kickstarted a resurgence of trying to publicly take a new understanding on how substance abuse disorder actually works beyond the moral angle. While in the 80’s, the prison population, particularly with non-whites, exploded, making America the number one industrialized nation with the highest amounts of incarceration due to the scare of crack, today the opioid and by extension the heroin crisis has shaken an ever increasing portion of America out of it’s stone-aged view on what addiction actually is.

Medical research advancements have progressed to the point where brain imaging can even identify without even asking the patient what kind of drugs they are addicted to. Drugs have been developed for certain kinds of substance addictions that not nullify the effects of use while reducing cravings themselves. Some of these, such as naloxone, can even reverse a certain-death overdose situation. While these methods of imaging and treatment are new and very limited in use, as the public’s perception and research evolves, addictions of all types may be understood to the point where the disease is seen as just a serious ‘nuisance’, like the flu.

South Florida rehab centers like First Step Behavioral Health try to use the most accepted forms of medical and psychological substance abuse treatment available. Call (866) 319-6126 for more info about options like oxycodone treatment.

Down the Habit Hole

In South Florida rehab centers, habits tend to reveal a lot about the nature of addiction. Many of us have routines, a lot of them daily. Maybe the first thing you do when you wake up is to take a shower. Maybe every day at noon, you enjoy a big bowl of chili. Maybe once a week, you go on a walk through the neighborhood.

These rituals, after a period of time, come to define us in some way. They aren’t who we are, but they provide a cornerstone of what one might consider ‘normality’. People that go to the gym often will say they get agitated if they have to miss a trip to pump iron, runners will make similar comments about the disruption.

As a person’s substance use disorder takes hold and begins changing the brain chemistry, it can introducing craving and desire that override their normal intentions, habits can develop and often times provide the most difficult obstacle to recovery.

When someone develops a pattern of use, it can be just as reliable as a measurement of ‘normal’ as another person’s fresh cup of coffee first thing in the morning. It’s never intended to be that, as these habits form over a period of time. Someone doesn’t just decide once that, “Oh, I’m going to snort a line of coke every day at 3pm!” after the first time they do it, just like there was not a day when the person who drinks coffee in the morning decided one day that this was the thing they decided will define the start of their day.

It happens organically, often time without the cognizant recognition of the person as it develops into habit. When the drug enters the body and begins rewiring how dopamine and the prefrontal cortex message each other, it can be nearly undetectable, especially for substances like alcohol. After an extended period of time, the combination of habit along with the chemical aspect of addiction and neurological changes in the user to create artificial cravings for the substance becomes an ever insurmountable obstacle that for nearly everyone who falls victim to it cannot escape from without extreme outside forces or jarring and shocking events. Even then, it’s not guaranteed that it will be enough for a person to begin to unlearn what becomes essentially an internalized and subsconscious behavioral pattern.

The longest and most difficult part of treatment is relapse prevention. Imagine any one of your rituals, daily, monthly or weekly, and think about not doing it. If you normally drink a cup of coffee in the morning, simply stop drinking coffee in the morning. It’s much harder than you realize. Now throw in high levels of addictive changes in the brain, many of which are permanent, and you can begin to see the difficulty of truly staying in control over addiction. It’s not easy, though it does become easier over time, but there’s more than simply ‘not using’ at play when being treated for substance use and habit is one of the most amorphous yet most difficult any person suffering from substance use disorder will have to face.

Substance abuse treatment in Florida uses a holistic treatment method which tackles habits as well as the chemical and neurological parts of addiction including treating withdrawal from Oxycodone. For the best treatment in south Florida, call First Step Behavioral Health at (866) 319-6126.

The Science of Environmental Triggers of Relapse

While South Florida rehab centers that treat people for substance use disorders understand that environment plays a significant role in people who’ve undergone substance abuse treatment and relapse prevention, much of the public still holds onto the belief that a person relapses because either they’re morally incapable of making the ‘right’ decision or they simply lack enough willpower to overcome their habit. The more competent and holistic south Florida rehab centers work with patients over the long term to handle the stressors of environment that lead to relapse because they have an understanding of this phenomenon, but a lot of the scientific research as to the ‘why’ this occurs is still under study.

A recent study by the University of Guelph has uncovered a little more of the mystery that connects behavior triggers to the environment of a person recovering from substance use disorder. The study’s co-author, Professor Francesco Leri, says that memory processing is stimulated from certain drugs like cocaine, associating in the brain a location and general environment to use. Thus, if an addict frequently used their drug in their home, say, at sundown, then someone recovering from cocaine use disorder will face extra challenges of resisting cravings, despite being chemically free of the drug, when the sun goes down and they are in their home.

Professor Leri says, “Stimuli in our environment such as buildings, objects and places are fairly innocuous. When they’re associated with drugs of abuse, they can become modifiers of memory function.”

Study co-author Boyer Winters, also a psychology professor, adds, “That learning’s going to be stamped in better and probably be stronger and more persistent.”

The study performed involved rats in two groups. Initially, they were all drug free and then environmentally stimulated with lights and location. Then the groups were given cocaine, one group away from that location and one group in that location. They were then allowed to dispense drugs freely, but the stimulation was returned to both groups. The group that had received the drugs within the simulated environment used drugs at a higher rate and almost exclusively when the environment was stimulated, despite both groups being exposed to the stimuli.

“Those cues acquire powerful cognitive effects,” Winters added. “They could be used to enhance learning of the recovery process.”

As more studies discover just how addiction works, much of the work to be done with them involve reversing the ‘intuitive’ understanding of the public that has been dispersed regularly to the public through War On Drugs-related propaganda, which places high emphasis on drug use tied to morality, due to the illegality of drug use itself. However, the actual nature of addiction is not only completely disconnected from morals, but is far more complicated than ‘him good’ vs. ‘him bad’. Studies like this one are ongoing, with the ultimate hope that substance use disorder can be treated reliably for everyone much like a doctor can treat a physical wound with stitches.

Substance use disorder is a serious illness that requires professional treatment. If you or someone you care about might be suffering from an addiction, First Step Behavioral Health can help. Call (866) 319-6126 today to learn more about treatment options available to you or a loved one.