Quality Control in Life

Quality Control

One reason people may have for finding drug rehab in Ft. Lauderdale would be the obvious; they know they have a problem and it’s negatively affecting their life, maybe their health, their relationships, their emotional wellbeing and their ability to concentrate on things that used to be important to them. Substance abuse treatment in Florida, though, might be a good choice for another, completely different reason if a person is concerned with having control over when they live or die.

Often times, drug addictions involve illicit and illegal drugs. Illicit drugs are those which are typically legal but require a prescription and person obtains them without a prescription or by doctor ‘shopping’, which is to say the person sees multiple doctors to obtain far more of the drug than their condition requires. Illegal drugs are those which the federal or state government has effectively put a ban on and punishes people who have it in their possession, either through fines or imprisonment. Without getting into the discussion of the failure of the War On Drugs that continues today and began in 1971 with Richard Nixon’s signature, there’s another reason why these substances can be far more dangerous to use than the effects that people suffering from substance use disorders seek out from them.

In general, if a person ‘shops’ doctors for themselves, they will get medicine directly from a regulated pharmacy. A trained lab physician will dispense medicines that have gone through governmental regulations to maintain quality. However, the same cannot be said for illicit and illegal drugs bought outside of a pharmacy. There are no quality regulations that manufacturers and distributors must adhere to. There’s no punishment for making mistakes that these organizations must endure, no fines, not even real brand tarnishing as they must operate covertly in order to make their money in the first place.

Last year, drug overdose deaths overtook automobile fatalities with a significant portion of those deaths coming from accidental overdoses tied to illegal and illicit drugs. Fentanyl, an extremely potent opioid, was found in batches of heroin. Where someone was thinking they were getting pure heroin, fentanyl, which is 100 times stronger than heroin, was accidentally ingested, often times causing an overdose, if not outright death. Even cocaine users were dying from fentanyl sneaking into their choice drug.

Even without fentanyl, other issues can occur in drug safety when dealing with illicit sales and illegal sales. A recent report showed that many people were being poisoned from bad batches of kratom, a drug which is primarily only offered ‘under the counter’, though has been proposed to be set to a schedule 1 status, which makes it as illegal as heroin.

It’s not to say that problems don’t occur within legal drugs, but when they happen, there’s recourse to stop the spread, recall bad product, fine the offending company(s) and protect the consumers who are simply looking for the product as described. If nothing else, this should be a reason for someone to break free from their substance use disorder if for nothing else to not be held captive to an unregulated, potentially deadly marketplace.

If you or someone you know is at risk from use of illegal drugs due to their substance use disorder, call First Step Behavioral Health at (866) 319-6126, which offers heroin drug treatment in Broward.

Hidden Talents

One of the many therapies that help in treatment are the fostering of new activities and discovering new ways to combat stress. Many times, addicts will spend a large portion of their time looking for more substance to take as well as being inhibited either mentally or physically by the substance when used. When this no longer occupies a large portion of a person’s time, it can lead to anxiousness and even a feeling of dull dread. What am I supposed to do now?

Activity based therapies attempt to answer this question for people in treatment by introducing them to various interesting activities where they can be productive or even physically heal themselves like in regular physical therapy. The activities will often include creative endeavors such as painting, taking up learning a musical instrument, learning to sculpt and craft, etc. These activities not only help with behavioral therapy and ‘learning to live without substance use’ that previously took up a majority of a person’s time, but can be as calming and uplifting as meditation.

One of the biggest pitfalls into relapse is depression which is common in recovery. The brain’s receptors and functioning becomes altered from substance use and requires a lot of personal maintenance to maintain personal comfort. Picking up new activities of these sorts can lead to finding new talents which become a personal expression that can act as a ‘release valve’ for the pressure of depression that can creep in. Many people who are do not have the burden of dealing with a substance use disorder will go their whole life without even having the opportunity to discover their inner talents or express themselves creatively. Having such an opportunity in treatment can be an exhilarating experience in and of itself.

Healing from an addiction and navigating the pitfalls of relapse will become easier as new activities and interests fill the void left behind by substance use. Instead of the cycle of use, find more, use, find more, use, a person in recovery will find new, multiple cycles of create, think, explore, understand, study, try, make, enjoy, and everything in between. In fact, some of the most famous people in modern culture have found new life outside of addiction. For instance, Samuel L. Jackson admits he was a crack addict before landing a role in one of the biggest hit films of the 1990’s with Pulp Fiction. Jamiroquai’s career came about completely after kicking his addictions and transforming his urgers to use into desire to create funky music that continues to this day. In interviews, he speaks openly about living on the streets because his addiction was out of control.

Whatever happens, there is life after a substance use disorder and finding that life can include learning new things about yourself and finding hidden talents that can bring not only yourself joy but joy to others around you.

Substance abuse treatment in Florida and south Florida detox are critical to maintaining the symptoms of addiction, a chronic illness. If you or someone you know is suffering from substance use disorder, call First Step Behavioral Health at (866) 319-6126. Residential detox and other treatment options are available.

Shutdown Continues to Threaten Addiction Treatment

It’s impossible to remove politics from subjects like drug and alcohol addiction and their treatment. Government policies often dictate how society handles the problems associated with the illness and often times is also part of funding for those solutions. Government actions have a direct influence on healthcare which is partly why the current shutdown may impact some states like Florida and their ability to fund treatment centers and now may possibly affect specific opioid addiction treatments.

Whatever your politics are, the facts are that this is the longest shutdown in US Government history, now inching close to a month of frozen budgets for a variety of government functions, mostly to do with secondary government operations like parks preservation. Some of that budget funds the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) which has been closed for the better part of a month and is responsible for approving the administration of drugs like naloxone by qualified doctors.

Medication Assisted Treatments (MAT) are becoming more and more common for treating opioid addicts as well as for preventing fatalities during an overdose in emergency rooms and treatment clinics alike. Drugs like naloxone can help patients dealing with withdrawal symptoms have relief from the cravings and physical side effects that often come from detox.

For professional physicians who prescribe the drug, they go through the Drug Enforcement Agency for approval to prescribe these medications. For the first year, they are allowed, when approved, to prescribe these drugs to thirty patients for use in MAT. The following year after a follow up review, they may expand to on hundred. With the government shutdown having effectively closed the offices which handle these approvals for the better part of a month, doctors seeking initial approval and those wishing to get the greenlight to treat more patients are both in a holding pattern.

Analyst fear this may have a two fold rippling effect down the line. The first would be that with the increase of opioid usage, fatal overdoses could possibly see a rise as well as patients without the assistance of the MAT with the possibility of rising relapses as well. The second is that once open, the speed with which the doctors will get approved will be slowed down to catch up with the backlog of however long the shutdown ends up being, further delaying the delivery of treatment to those who need it.

As mentioned earlier, the shut down also affects the funding of some clinics and addiction treatment facilities. Annually, federal grants get distributed to subsidize organizations responsible for maintaining public health, with addiction treatment centers being one of them. Depending on how much specific centers depend on that yearly influx of cash to continue running, some facilities could see drastically reduced staffing and housing during the shutdown, should it continue for much longer.

For those who might be affected by this shutdown on the patient side of things, it’s important to stick with your treatment plan as close as possible even if your substance abuse treatment in Florida temporarily closes.. Make sure to have plenty contact information for counselors and sponsors and try to find a place to stay you feel most comfortable and relatively safe from triggering situations and away from easy access to your addictive substance. South Florida drug rehab centers are not expecting to completely shut down, but taking precautions might not be the worst thing in the world.

In the meantime, seeking Pompano drug rehab is as easy as calling 1st Step Behavioral Health at (866) 319-6126.

Tackling The Whole Problem In Florida

With the entirety of the United States experiencing an upswing in drug overdoses across the spectrum of all drugs including alcohol, prescription and illegal substances, Florida’s drug use is also on the rise. A recent CDC report placed Florida at 17th out of the fifty states in ranking for overdose-related deaths which is 17 percent higher than the previous year. For every 100,000 people, 21.5 died in 2017 due to drug overdose specifically, discounting drug related deaths such as heart disease for alcohol or heart failure for cocaine. If the trend continues, by 2019, this number could increase to 59 per 100,000 Floridians.

Chief Strategy Officer Benjamin Miller of Well Being Trust, a mental health and drug abuse advocacy group, analyzed the CDC’s findings along with Trust for America’s Health. According to their findings, the recently implemented prescription tracking of certain drugs like oxycodone and other opioids has had very little effect on the problem. Miller suggests that even though this helps prevent some illicit usage like ‘doctor shopping’, where a patient will obtain prescriptions from multiple doctors for a specific drug, and can help physicians identify potential addicts before their problems escalate into stronger drugs, he believes that other factors should be looked at for a positive change.

“It’s not just about the number of opioids being prescribed…it’s really about social and community factors that are much harder to address,”, Miller said. He further suggested that focusing on mental health care access could have very strong impact on the rate of overdoses through expanding health insurance coverage along with integrating substance abuse care into primary care. Miller then criticized the country’s approach as a whole to the drug epidemic which seems to show no signs of slowing down.

“It’s no simply enough to know people who are dying prematurely to drugs and alcohol, we have to be able to do something so our call to action is pretty basic; that we know there are public policies and interventions that could be done in our communities tomorrow to help with some of these problems.”

Miller outlined some suggestions related to his suggested plan of action:

  • Identifying risks to addiction such as trauma and extreme stress early
  • Implementing awareness programs that educate people on the ties between mental illness and drug dependencies in schools and workplaces
  • Encouraging responsible drug prescription practices
  • Ensuring that doctors inform patients of possible addictive qualities of drugs they prescribe to their patients before prescription and offering alternatives if requested
  • Improving non-drug pain management interventions
  • Expanding the availability of ‘rescue drugs’ such as naloxone
  • Enhancing and enforcing mental health parity laws
  • Opening drug disposal programs for unused portions of medications
  • Implementing ‘whole person’ healthcare within traditional primary care which includes mental health screenings and closer ties with addiction treatment facilities for at-risk and already addicted patients

1st Step Behavioral Health, a substance abuse treatment center in Florida, offers holistic treatment including residential detox. Call (866) 319-6126 to find a south Florida drug rehab near you.

Middle-Aged Women Fatal Overdoses On The Rise

Across the United States, drug addiction, overdose and fatal overdose rates are increasing seemingly by the day. Alcoholism, opioid addiction, heroin use, cocaine abuse, you name it, the statistics leading into 2018 don’t appear to show any signs subsiding. Of the increased usage, the CDC identified one group in particular that has seen a higher increase among the overall upswing in usage: women between the ages of 30-64.

Particularly noteworthy, and not for any good reason, is the increase of fatal overdose rates of the demographic of over six hundred percent. Women in the age rage of 55 to 64 were among where the highest increase was observed by the CDC’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control lead by Karin Mack. This was enough to push the average age of death up by three years over the course of the period studied that ranged from 1999 to 2017, going from 43.5 years to 46.3 years.

One of the reasons for the high spike cited was the increase of prescription opioids during this time period coupled with the recent fentanyl-laced heroin and counterfeit imported opioids coming from China and parts of Southeast Asia. The data in the study showed that in the rage of of ages of women from 30-64, synthetic opioids like these rose seventeen-hundred percent during the period analyzed. Valium, Xanax and other benzodiazepine drugs also saw a thousand percent increase. It was also noted that the deaths, often times, included multiple drugs.

The data studied revealed a correlation with speed of which addictive drugs take hold of women compared to men, showing a significantly increased speed for which women will become addicted, in which researched made some inferences as to why. According to Dr. Harshal Kirane, an addiction specialist, “middle-aged women are often prevented from accessing care due to family responsibilities, child care considerations and financial disparities. Moreover, certain mental health issues, such as anxiety and depression, tend to occur at higher rates in women, which create profound obstacles to engagement in care.”

Kirane isn’t the only person with this point of view. Other reasons which feed into the mental state of women include domestic violence, which is it’s own separate issue but crosses over into addiction due to the stress, depression and anxiety that comes with it. Many women go untreated for these issues, which puts them at a higher risk of drug use and addiction.

The report was published January 11 in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly report.

Addiction is a serious illness that affects more than just women, but men and children as well. If you know someone or are someone who needs substance abuse treatment in Florida, call 1st Step Behavioral Health at (866) 319-6126. South Florida rehab centers like 1st Step provide comprehensive care for all types of addictive substances and includes oxycodone treatment options.

How to Successfully Complete Addiction Rehab in South Florida

If you or a loved one suffers from an addiction to drugs or alcohol, you may have learned that taking the first step toward addiction recovery is often the hardest. It can be difficult to admit that you have problem in the first place. Additionally, it can often be intimidating to even know where to begin navigating the process of seeking addiction treatment. 

The type of addiction treatment will vary from person to person. For example, someone who has been addicted to drugs such as opiates, methamphetamines or cocaine for a many years would require a specific treatment plan. Someone who has become addicted to alcohol because of something like situational depression would require a completely different plan or care. The first step in determining what type of treatment is best for you is to understand the basic two types of rehabilitation. There are many variations to outpatient and inpatient rehab treatment. Below is a basic outline of each type of drug rehab treatment. 

What is Outpatient Rehab Treatment?

Simply put, outpatient rehab treatment means that you are able to go through the rehabilitation process without checking into a full-time facility. Outpatient treatment can often be done while you live at your own home and continue to work in some capacity. Outpatient treatment can be performed in a variety of ways. First, there is intensive outpatient therapy (IOP). This often consists of daily counseling sessions that typically take anywhere from 1-3 hours. These are typically done in a group setting with people who have similar levels of addiction. Another option is one-on-one counseling with a drug and alcohol specialist. Some people may thrive in a group setting and others may do better working one-on-one with a counselor. You may not have a choice as to which type of outpatient treatment if you were assigned counseling by the court system after violating a law. 

What is Inpatient Rehab Treatment?

Inpatient rehabilitation is more intensive than outpatient rehab. Basically, you attend a full-time facility that serves as your home for a certain period of time. The length of a stay in an inpatient facility can vary. Typically, it lasts between 30 days and several months. Inpatient treatment is a good choice for people who have heavy addictions or have relapsed multiple times. Additionally, inpatient facilities offer a full-service detox facility that will provide full-time care. The detox process can be incredibly dangerous if it is not monitored closely by a medical professional. For example, Oxycodone withdrawal symptoms can be extremely dangerous, even deadly, and should always be monitored by a professional. Inpatient treatment will also offer 24-hour access to a team of medical professionals and mental health experts. Many people also benefit from the sense of community that is established in an inpatient facility. 

Whether you are considering inpatient or outpatient therapy, the important thing is that you are taking the first step to get on the path to addiction recovery!

Call us today to learn more.

How Does Group Therapy Benefit Former Users During the Recovery Process

When you enter a drug rehab program, the first step is to detox. The detoxification takes away the mental focus on drugs and opens up for sober education on how to defeat addiction. Nevertheless, it can be difficult for each individual who is trying to recover from their addictions to find the wisdom they need to succeed. For these people, having the opportunity to discuss specific issues with their peers and former users who have beat their addictions is a God-sent. Group therapy provides a variety of viewpoints and life experiences to create a mosaic picture of what the path to recovery looks like. It is hard for some people with heavy addictions to even imagine how they will cope with all the temptations and lifestyle changes. 

Group therapy also helps former users build friendships and bonds that ease the burden on them when they are forced to turn a cold shoulder on former drug friends. One of the focuses of substance abuse treatment in Florida is for former users to rebuild their lives with constructive activities that fill the recreational void in their lives. If former users focus on becoming athletic or developing rewarding hobbies and career goals, they will stand the strongest when faced with temptations. This is because they have a lot of developed lifestyle choices that would deteriorate if they returned to their former habits. 

Group Therapy Helps Relieve Stress 

Stress is the number one cause for former users to return to their old habits. When the daily stresses become overwhelming, it is easy to give up and feel dissatisfied with the sober life. These are the ups and downs, the curve balls of life and depressive states, that are a normal part of healing. When you have the wisdom of friends who have fallen off the wagon or share stories of how they conquered these situations in an aftercare program, you are armed with the knowledge to stand strong, no matter what life has to throw at you. 

Learn from the Mistakes of Others 

For some people in group therapy, they may share how they let themselves fall into temptation by associating with former friends. It starts off innocently enough, when they try to catch up with them for old times sake, until they have a party they are going to and invite you to come. Once you go to the party, it is difficult to stand your ground when marijuana smoke is already in the air, and everyone is pressuring you to join in. A life lesson that many former users have to learn is that it is hard to hang onto former friends. Their lifestyle choices will put them in precarious positions. The mentality of drug friends will subvert the former user’s disgust for drugs and the repugnance they feel by taking it lightly. 

Former drug friends can also land you in trouble with the law. They may drop pills or paraphernalia in your vehicle. You may find yourself in the passenger seat of someone who is intoxicated. The stigma of being guilty by association can land you in legal trouble and cause sober contacts to shun you. Group therapy is such a critical part of the rehab process and is incredibly valuable to those looking toward a life of sobriety.

Contact us today to learn more.

Florida Takes Steps Towards Treating Opioid Addiction

Opioid overdoses in Florida are above the national average in a time where the crisis of opioid use is publicly concerning. The use of the drugs have been contributing to overall lower life expectancy in the United States, and so Florida’s governing body has begun to implement measures available to try and reverse the trends that have been ongoing for almost a decade. During the last 3 years, opioid related deaths have increased by 35 percent and hospitals treated nearly 18,000 overdoses and general treatment in the state has exceeded over $1 billion on annual costs.

These seem like nightmare numbers and a sobering wake up call to which Florida state leadership has heeded and has begun addressing directly. The Florida Alcohol and Drug Abuse Association (FADAA) was granted resources by the Florida Legislature, the Office of State Courts Administration and the Department of Children and Families which it plans to use fight opioid addiction and cut down on opioid overdoses. The plan includes partnering with substance abuse treatment centers in a pioneering program that plans to address the multifaceted problem of the drug abuse problems the state faces.

The program includes extra funding for ‘drug courts’ to send addicts who are at risk for criminal activity related to their use into treatment at a higher and more sustained rate, training for medical and treatment center staff on administering treatment and more distribution and availability of medical anti-addiction/anti-overdose drugs such as buprenorphine, methadone, and extended release injectable naltrexone (Vivitrol). The variety and availability of the drugs alone are trailblazing with in the United States; only 41 percent on average of the treatment programs nationwide even offer one drug, let alone more than three. Coverage and reimbursement through the new policies increase coverage and reimbursement for those seeking treatment on their own.

It’s one of the most comprehensive programs in the United States as of right now and if it’s success curbs the ever-increasing problems plaguing the state, it will surely be a model that is imitated and copied across the country. Within medication assisted treatment, 77 percent have shown a full recovery and reversal of symptoms of addiction. With such treatments available it looks promising for the Sunshine State to show the rest of the country how to really help citizens who have been caught up in the ills of substance abuse to regain their control over their own lives and rehabilitated into sobriety and productive, happy lives.

Opioid addiction is a serious illness, a substance use disorder. If you or someone you know might be suffering from addiction who needs oxycodone treatment, please call (866) 319-6126. Our South Florida rehab center treats opioid addictions as well as alcoholism and we offer residential detox as well.

Your Experiences Can Teach Others

In a recent Vice article and accompanying documentary, recovering addict Frankie Holmes candidly shared his experiences both as a person battling with the chronic disease of addiction as well as his role and impact on others recovering from the illness as a speaker and motivator. When asked what he thought about the negative perceptions of people struggling with drug addiction, his response itself was sobering, especially for those who pass judgment on addicts.

“It’s been proven a disease by scientists, doctors, as well as [people in recovery] who study this stuff. Nobody gets mad at cancer patients…as much as you’re judging, they’re probably judging themselves twice as much.”

His chosen role to help people who are already in treatment to maintain personal strength to see it through shows that his own experience as an addict can be used to help others through a mutual understanding. While no one expects any addict to be open about their life or to even have time to speak on the subject, it is something which can help change the societal view of those suffering from substance abuse disorders. That change starts with people listening to an addict’s story if they’re willing to share it.

Holmes added, “I definitely think [mental health problems and addiction] go hand in hand. If there are mental health issues not dealt with, then the addiction is probably not going to be dealt with either…I think mental illness keeps a lot of people sick. You’re only treating one component.”

Many counselors and doctors agree with him. According to Psychology Today, holistic treatments tend to make an addict more receptive to treatment in general, making the them feel more at ease and better able to cope with the challenges of detox and rehab.

One of the more stubborn stigmas that addicts have to deal with from society’s view towards them is that the addiction itself is a ‘choice’. Holmes had a few words on this as well.

“Even though drug addiction starts with a choice, [the decision] to be [addicted] isn’t made at that time. It’s too late. You try to stop, you’ll know. As mad as people get at people for using, they’re twice as mad at themselves.” For people around an addict, their attitudes can dramatically compound the situation, making recovery even harder for them. Changing society’s perception of how addiction can cause the user to make irrational choices they normally wouldn’t and almost never want to make, even while it’s happening, can mean the difference between life and death.

“Not everybody out there struggling is just a ‘bum’. Everybody has a story. Everybody has a family. It’s not just a bunch of junkies. It could be anybody. Stop judging and start helping”.

If you or someone you know is need of residential detox or in need of general substance abuse treatment in Florida, give 1st Step Behavioral Health a call at (866) 319-6126. South Florida rehab centers like 1st Step can help addicts get the treatment they need to regain control of their life.


Thirty Percent of Cocaine Overdoses Said to be Suicide Attempts

Cocaine’s addictive nature has been long known to be a difficult attribute to deal with in treatment of addicts as a category. A famous comic once said in a moment where truth and comedy converge, “Cocaine makes you feel like you want to do more cocaine”.  At the National Cocaine, Meth & Stimulant Summit, opening speaker and well known addiction researcher Mark S. Gold MD made some very telling remarks that reflect what has become a defining moment in addiction research at large.

“Cocaine changed the definition of addiction,” said Gold, professor at the Washington University School of Medicine, from a definition based on drug withdrawal to one based on self-administration. “Process addictions wouldn’t exist without this [shift],” Gold said.


Overlapping Substance Abuse Trends

The keynote, given at the Ft. Lauderdale Stimulant Summit emphasized the overlap in drug use trends that now results in most overdose deaths involving more than one drug. The drug distribution appears to be mixing multiple drugs, with fentanyl being found more and more present in cocaine and methamphetamine. In states where marijuana use is still illegal and unregulated, traces of fentanyl are being found laced with street distributed product of an otherwise relatively safe drug, suggesting that a regulated and legal market for marijuana would actually be safer. In Florida, half of all cocaine deaths, though, are because of fentanyl being involved.

The mixtures of drugs without supervision combined with the addictive natures of each individual drug provide a fertile ground for dangerous and deadly use by addicts who can not even be sure of what kind of product they are using. With no addiction cure-all drugs available, Gold reminded everyone at the summit how important psychological treatment is with the absence of physiological medical treatments available. The emphasis of this point was made when Gold cited the statistic that 30% of all overdoses on cocaine are suicide attempts. Regardless of what the drug is cut with, suicide remains a risk of addiction, whether cocaine or opioid or otherwise.

Of the drugs seen most often in hospitals, overdoses from opioids remain the only ones that have any hope of being saved by counter-agents, specifically naloxone, which can block the receptors in the brain of opioids. In opioid overdoses, the brain is at risk of seizure and shutdown of the respiratory system; with the receptors blocked by naloxone, the risk of death from overdose is dramatically reduced.

The best prevention of overdose remains, however, the treatment of addiction before it can set in a long term behavior pattern and psychological burden on the user. 1st Step Behavioral Health clinic specializes in addiction treatments that range from alcoholism to cocaine and opioid rehabilitation. If you or someone you know might be at risk or already addicted to a controlled substance, contact our counselors at (866) 319-6126 for a professional diagnosis and treatment options in the southern Florida area.