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All across this country in small towns, rural areas and cities, alcoholism and drug abuse are destroying the lives of men, women and their families. Where to turn for help? What to do when friends, dignity and perhaps employment are lost?

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America Still Fighting Prescription Drug Addiction

America Still Fighting Prescription Drug Addiction

Author: Justin Mckibben

Prescription drug addiction is still a very real threat to the lives of Americans today, with mass amounts of individuals being held hostage by the disease of addiction and the opiate epidemic raging on in our homes and communities, but politicians have no intentions of staying silent about this issue, and many initiatives are going into action to fight prescription drug addiction.

These days some might say America could be seen as the land of the over-medicated and the home of the addict, but the American government seems aware of the need for action and is taking every chance it can in the month of September to talk about it.

September 26 was National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day, and on that day President Barack Obama took the opportunity in delivering another one of his weekly addresses to the nation to talk about prescription drug abuse and the plans put forth to fight drug addiction. In fact the first thing he noted was National Drug Take-Back day, explaining the meaning behind it and emphasizing the impact these kinds of collective efforts could have on the overall drug epidemic.

President Obama told viewers in the course of his address,

“More Americans now die every year of overdoses than they do in car crashes.”

This is a fact we have seen mentioned time and time again as overdose has become the leading cause of injury-related death in America. More disturbing is to point out that most of those fatalities aren’t from illegal drugs either. Currently prescription drugs are the big offender in this case, and in 2013 alone more than 16,000 American overdosed on prescription painkillers. Obama made another important point when talking about the importance of National Prescription Take-Back Day by saying that most young people who end up abuse these medications “don’t buy them in some dark alley, they get them from the medicine cabinet.”

The president went on to make the connection between abuse of prescription pain medication and heroin addiction, also stressing that between 2013 and 2014 there was a 33% increase in the number of heroin users in the country, which had a lot to do with the mounting issue of prescription drug abuse.

Obama also made a point to note that these drugs were not just being abused in urban areas, but in every community including rural and suburban areas.

Fighting Prescription Drugs

Four years ago the Obama administration announced its Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention Plan, at which point the government officials were actively partnering with communities to confront the overdose issue. According to president Obama the administration has been seeing some promising results, and the hope is to build on those results.

This year’s budget includes more money for various programs to contribute to these efforts, including:

Obama was very conscious of the expenses that stood to be spent in this respect, but added:

“Getting smarter about how we address substance abuse disorders is a vital part of reforming our criminal justice system,”

The president again voiced his belief that the fight against drug abuse and addiction would be more effective if instead of spending an extortionate amounts of government finances on incarcerating nonviolent drug offenders, the country could save money and get better outcomes by getting treatment to those who need it. One powerful statement Obama made during this address was:

“With no other disease do we expect people to wait until they’re a danger to themselves or others to self-diagnose and seek treatment. So we should approach abuse as an opportunity to intervene, not incarcerate.”

While this was going on that same day, U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade of Michigan called on federal prosecutors from six neighboring states to convene during a one-day summit to address issues fueling the heroin and prescription opiate epidemic in the area.

Among these authorities were officials from:

  • Ohio
  • Kentucky
  • Pennsylvania

All these people got together as part of an initiative by the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force to halt heroin and prescription pill trafficking, with McQuade noting that organized groups in Michigan and Ohio have expanded their drug enterprises to many of the above-mentioned states, plus:

  • Tennessee
  • West Virginia

They have set their sights on going after and arresting high-level drug traffickers, as well as an increasing education about the addictive nature of painkillers and more expansive treatment for addicts.

Prescription drug addiction is a massive concern when it comes to the opiate epidemic and the overdose outbreak all across America, and while a lot of efforts are going into fighting prescription drug abuse some officials still feel it’s important to plan for the worst and talk about the basics.

Still many states are fighting their own battles and designing and implementing their own protections, regulations and resources to try and revive their communities that have been devastated by overdose, death, heroin and prescription opiate addiction. America has nowhere near given up on this effort, so what more can we as citizens do?

This is the conversation we need to be having, and one that won’t have an easy and obvious answer because there is so much to be done, but we have to try. For some of us that fight begins at home and making the change in our own lives. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135

4 Ways We Can Help Ourselves Be Happy

4 Ways We Can Help Ourselves Be Happy

Author: Justin Mckibben

Last week I wrote a little bit about 4 reasons why we won’t let ourselves be happy and talked about how the pieces of us that refuse to let go, or refuse to embrace, are often a way we self-inflict our own misery and keep ourselves from what we deserve out of life.

Now I want to take a look at ways we can work on allowing the happiness we are all worthy of into our lives.

Again, recovery is all about healing in spite of our past, and about finding how to know ourselves, nurturing that new us and making a new and fulfilled contribution to the world. Having any kind of healthy relationship can be tremendously difficult for an addict, especially having a healthy relationship with ourselves. However, there are simple ideas we can put into action in our own lives that help us be happy.

  1. Face Problems

Problems are a part of the fabric of life; we cannot live without them in a world of duality and diversity. They say variety is the spice of life and without the zest of a few unsavory situations life wouldn’t be nearly as complete. You’re allowed to have problems, and you’re allowed to react to them, but how you react will ultimately have the impact on your happiness.

It is not always easy to know exactly how to do the right thing, the point is to do the utmost best you can and accept the results regardless. I can name more than a few times an outcome made me less than happy, but the simply fact I survived it anyway was enough to be ecstatic over.

If we are honest about the ups and downs, and if we can be honest with our answers to life’s tougher questions, happiness will be more genuine because in the end you are the one person your happiness will depend on.

The pain is real, recovering or not, and the atmosphere engulfing our human experience will expose you to this reality in a lot of very tangible ways… ways many of us in recovery have probably forgotten how to even experience . Mistakes, such as relapse, can happen… but that is okay as long as you look to these experiences as lessons… and actually learn from it.

Funny thing is, what makes you happy is sometimes subject to change, so the pain we experience won’t be the forever-kind-of-feeling we sometimes make it out to be. Sometimes we won’t even know it doesn’t hurt anymore until life makes an example for others out of our growth.

Do not shy away from the problems that you face, because in the end these problems are the soil we plant the seeds of virtue and strength in, and we nurture those seeds with action and principles, which grow into the fruits of our being.

  1. Believe You Deserve It

You are allowed to be happy, and you should know and believe that you deserve it.

Happiness is often referred to as an ‘inside job’ because behind it all the only thing that can truly allow you to be happy is you. Remind yourself as often as you can that your happiness is a priority, and it is not selfish to believe in that.

What point would there be to getting sober if we were condemning ourselves to a desert of misery, only so we could help others drink in all their happiness from the stream of life? We all thirst for that happiness, and you should believe you have the right to experience it. Sure it is important, especially in recovery, to do for others and do so selflessly but we should never cast aside our own sense of self-worth to do so.

If you are waiting for someone else to come into your life and make your happiness mean something for you, you will always be waiting. Once you understand how important your own joy and happiness is, you will be better suited to share it and inspire happiness in others. There is no point in being a martyr to the joys of others if happiness holds no value in your life.

  1. Be Responsible For Your Life

We learn in recovery not to try and control things that are not meant for our control. When it comes to my life in recovery, I try to remind myself that a lot of stuff is just quite simply not my business.

But my life is my business, and for that I am responsible.

You are responsible for your life, no one else is. When it’s over, no one else will be held accountable for how much happiness you allowed yourself to have. So when it comes time to make a change that will impact the degree of happiness you filter into your life, it takes action and accountability. We do have choices to make in our world, and if you make the wrong one once in a while it’s OK, but be willing to be responsible for the good and bad. Own your choices and mistakes, and be willing to take the necessary steps to improve upon them.

One of the most empowering ways to be responsible for your own life is to live it. Spend your time, talent and energy on the things you love and the people you love most. Feed your prosperity with the passions of your life, do not be the victim of circumstance, because your happiness should not be at the mercy of an ever changing world. Serenity is not always easy to find in the midst of a thunder-storm, but it can be the safest place.

  1. Love

This is the thing we are all made of, and the thing that gives us the most potential to be happy. The problem with most of us is we confuse it for something we have to look outside of ourselves to find, when the most we will ever sustain will come from within.

All the beautiful things that we are; our drive and inspiration, or wisdom and our talent, our passions and opinions are all empowered by this simple and yet infinitely indispensable element. Our happiness survives off this stuff, so why not create it as much as you can in your life?

Love is the essence of all things, and in that respect happiness exists purely through our ability to love. Be it one another, the things we are grateful for, or ourselves. In recovery we can find this a difficult concept to master, but with healing comes emotional sobriety and with that we re-learn how to treat ourselves, and how to treat each other.

Loving yourself is a tremendous feat sometimes, but try to remember that the way you love yourself sets the standard for the love you will accept from those around you, and for the love they will be willing to give you in many instances. Love yourself as much as you do those who you shower with your affections, and cherish who you are!

Being true to yourself and also grateful for the things you already have can provide happiness no one around you will be able to give you. Love is probably the greatest gift we all have, and we have it in unconditional and limitless abundance… share some… smile.

I said it before and I’ll say it again… happiness is what we make of it. Love is a key ingredient, along with acceptance and willingness we can change whatever hand we are dealt. Use every chance you get to help yourself be happy, and take the steps to better yourself on the way. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135

 

The 7 Warning Signs of Shopping Addiction

The 7 Warning Signs of Shopping Addiction

(This content is being used for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted in the content is a model)

Author: Shernide Delva

Shopping can be an exhilarating experience. The euphoria of having something new to wear in your closet or a brand new tool to use in the garage can be a natural mood booster. However, if abused, shopping can develop into an addiction.

A group of researchers at the University of Bergen have developed a new method to measure shopping addiction. The method is based on the core addiction elements that we often recognize associated with other addictions. It’s the first method of its kind to identify key elements that point to shopping addiction behavior.

When Shopping Gets Out of Control

Shopping can quickly escalate into a problem when a person feels a compulsive need to shop even when they do not need to. Cecile Schou Andreassen. Doctor of Psychology and Clinical Psychologist Specialist describes why shopping addiction is so out of control for many today.

“Modern technology has made shopping extremely accessible and convenient, with the potential of sending problematic shopping into overdrive — especially along with sociocultural factors such as social media, credit cards, and advanced marketing,”

The increase in modern technology affects shopping addiction because there is no turning off the temptation to fall into the addictive cycle again.

More predominant in women

Not to anyone’s surprise, the study shows that women are more prone to shopping addiction than males. It also is initiated in late adolescent and emerging adulthood. Typically shopping addiction tapers off with age.

Doctor Andreassen´s research also shows that shopping addiction is related to key personality traits.

“Our research indicates that people who score high on extroversion and neuroticism are more at risk of developing shopping addiction. Extroverts, typically being social and sensation seeking may be using shopping to express their individuality or enhance their social status and personal attractiveness. Neurotic people, who typically are anxious, depressive, and self-conscious, may use shopping as a means of reducing their negative feelings,”

The Seven Warning Signs

Symptoms of shopping addiction are closely related to the symptoms of drug addiction, alcoholism, and other substance addictions.

The Bergen Shopping Addiction Scale uses seven basic criteria to identify shopping addiction, where all items are scored on the following scale: (0) Completely disagree, (1) Disagree, (2) Neither disagree nor agree, (3) Agree, and (4) Completely agree:

  1. You think about shopping/buying things all the time.
    Do you find your mind wandering to what new item you will buy next? Do you spend a good portion of your day daydreaming about your next new outfit or the latest brand? If you do, you may be suffering from shopping addiction
  2. You shop/buy things in order to change your mood.
    If you find yourself shopping when you are angry, sad or happy, you might be shopping in order to cope with your emotions. This could be a sign of an addiction since your using something as a way to alter your emotional state.
  3. You shop/buy so much that it negatively affects your daily obligations (e.g., school and work).
    Shopping addiction can affect your ability to go to work or meet up with friends due to always spending a majority of your time thinking about shopping or compulsively shopping. Think about the last time you canceled plans to shop. That’s a sign of an underlying problem.
  4. You feel you have to shop/buy more and more to obtain the same satisfaction as before.
    If you find that you buy more and more items to increase your satisfaction, you may be developing a tolerance. When you develop a tolerance, more is needed for you to have the mood boosting response that kept you going back in the first place.
  5. You have decided to shop/buy less, but have not been able to do so.
    If you know you have a problem and cannot stop, this is a serious sign that you are far into your addiction. Like any addiction, your shopping addiction has completely consumed you and stopping is impossible even if you want to.
  6. You feel bad if you for some reason are prevented from shopping/buying things.
    If financially you are not able to go shopping, you find yourself depressed and angry. You feel bad that you are not able to get what you want when you want it
  7. You shop/buy so much that it has impaired your well-being.
    If shopping has impaired the quality of your life, affected friendships and relationships then it is definitely time to seek treatment

The study explains that if you “agree” or “completely” agree on at least four out of seven of the items listed, you may be a shopping addict.

We all love nice things but shopping compulsively is an addictive behavior that needs to be addressed. Seek treatment if you are unable to control your shopping habits.  If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135  

 

Oregon Will Now Expunge Past Marijuana Records

Oregon Will Now Expunge Past Marijuana Records

Author: Shernide Delva

Oregon is one of the first states to address the concerns of marijuana legalization answering the debated question: what do you do with someone with a record for something that used to be a crime but now isn’t? With this new policy, anyone with any low-level felony or misdemeanor on their record that’s at least ten years old can wipe their record clean (as long as they have not re-offended).  As many as 50,000 people will benefit from this law passed in Oregon.

Oregon is known for its progressive marijuana legislation that spans over the past few decades. Back in 1973, Oregon was the first state in the country to decriminalize low-scale marijuana possession. Now legal experts and marijuana business people are saying that the state is leading the way in creating new laws that would allow people with past marijuana offenses to wipe their slates clean.

In 2016, Oregon will allow more serious felony pot convictions, like growing, to be eligible for record sealing. The law is not restricted to drug offenses. A second law will allow expungement for people who were under 21 at the time of a past conviction.

Citations for marijuana possessions can haunt a person for years preventing them from career opportunities, renting an apartment, loans, and grants. Oregon is one of three states in the United States that allow marijuana use on a recreational level and now this law will give those who were prosecuted for the now legal crime to be able to move on with their lives.

So far, no state has gone further than Oregon on this issue.  Even in states where recreational marijuana has been legalized, the idea of expunging past records still remain controversial. In states like Colorado, Alaska, Washington and the District of Colombia where recreational marijuana is legalized, similar laws are available yet are still unclear. Oregon’s law will be one of the first structured policy following marijuana reform.

Expungement for pot conviction is gaining attention since the legalization of marijuana has raised questions for those convicted in the past. Years after the arrests, citizens are left with a record that will haunt them for the rest of their life, for getting caught doing something that is legal in many states today.

The expunge center in Oregon elaborated on how significant this law is for those who need it most:

“It really doesn’t matter if you had been arrested on a petty charge. The stigma of having an arrest or conviction record against your name can make it difficult for you to find housing, seek employment opportunities and obtain grants for school…. Regardless of how much you have changed or how many dreams you might have, one single mistake of your past can affect your chances of having a good future.”

Even for those with more serious marijuana crimes who are unable to qualify for expungement or reduce their impact may be qualified to reduce the impact of past criminal convictions. They may be able to reduce the severity of their charges so they are granted access to certain rights.

The law comes very soon after Oregon legalized marijuana recreationally. Time will tell if other states will follow Oregon in also expunging records now the drug is continuously decriminalized and marijuana reform continues to stir debate around the country.

Whether or not you agree with marijuana reform, the fact of the matter is more and more states are legalizing the drug either recreationally, medically or both. The next logical step would be deciding best policy when it comes to addressing those who were criminalized for something legal today. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-777-9588  

Congressmen Push to End the Federal War on Weed

Congressmen Push to End the Federal War on Weed

Author: Justin Mckibben

We have seen how there were serious political efforts going into removing the federal government’s claws in the fight against marijuana in the states, and about how the midterm elections this time last year have brought with them a wave of continuous change in weed policies around the country.

Several states are already gearing up to follow the trend this coming November by reforming their marijuana regulations and legalizing the use of weed for either medical or recreational use, and some are soon to allow both.

But it ain’t over until it’s over, and despite the growing popularity weed is still illegal under federal law. Now there is even more effort being put into putting a stop to any and all federal interference in the states individual initiatives to legalize marijuana.

Saying No to the DEA

In an act of bipartisan support that would probably surprise some, there are members of both political parties fighting to make this big change a reality. 2 congressmen have stepped into the fold in the past months intent on pushing the progress in weed policies further.

  • Democrat Ted Lieu of California
  • Republican Justin Amash of Michigan

These men have chosen to work together on new legislation that would block the DEA from using federal funding to aggressively cracking down on weed in the states.

As we were saying before, the House of Representatives unanimously passed an amendment earlier this year that was designed to diminish the funding for the DEA’s marijuana eradication efforts by 50%. This was already a huge hit to the Drug Enforcement Administration’s budget for going after the state weed laws, and was largely due to the failed tactics used during the American ‘war on drugs’ that many speculate may have done more than a fair share of damage itself.

Now politicians are saying even that is not enough. Representative Ted Lieu of California authored the amendment, and is now trying to go a step further and eliminate all the funding for the DEA’s work against legal weed, confident that the voters will support it. In an interview Lieu stated:

“We had such strong support [in June], we figured why not just eliminate all funding. It’s a waste of federal resources and ends up driving up prices for Americans.”

All that makes perfect sense. With so many people stepping up to support the laws in their individual nation one way or another, it seems a waste of money for federal funding to be used to aggressively hunt and prosecute people involved in weed-related activity their state has already deemed illegal.

Who are you really protecting from these growers, businesses and users if their own community has approved their existence?

Domestic Cannabis Eradication/Suppression Program

Through the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Domestic Cannabis Eradication/Suppression Program the DEA has already done a lot, including:

  • Spent $18 million in 2014
  • Arrested 6,310 people
  • Confiscated over a million marijuana plants

Not saying these are all bad things, but if we take a closer look at some of the circumstances, the program isn’t exactly the best thing out there.

Civil Asset Forfeiture

For one, the program is funded through the Department of Justice’s civil asset forfeiture fund, which has been highly controversial since this initiative allows the authorities to seize money and property from people who have been suspected of a crime… but not convicted.

Amash is against this element of the war on weed because he feels civil assets forfeiture allows-

“innocent people to have their property taken without sufficient due process.”

This subject has been debated time and time again, because of the maze of red tape and scandals of corruption that wraps around these situations.

Amash is believes this aggressive federal enforcement is a problem because he says enforcement is a state-level issue, so the federal government should not be expending resources on marijuana prohibition, especially with so many states eliminating weed prohibition. Why should the DEA be able to procure all the belonging of an individual because of weed when their state legally permits them to use it?

Marijuana activist groups from all over are supporting this cause this year, including:

  • The Drug Policy Alliance (DPA)
  • Marijuana Policy Project (MPP)

Weed advocacy groups have praised the bill as a key concept in the fight towards blocking federal prohibition of weed in America. So while the individual states work to decide what’s best for them, still more are going to push for the federal government to stop spending money to contradict the states choices.

While marijuana can be harmful to recovering addicts, it is still important to understand 2 things (in this addicts opinion):

  1. That alcohol is legal and it too is dangerous for an addict. Being legalized does not make it safe for us. We still have to remember the hopelessness and devastating drugs deal to our lives.
  2. A lot of the money being used to persecute people in the states for using a drug their own elected officials have given them a right to use could be more effectively spent developing treatment for addiction and promoting programs to help educate the communities and prevent substance abuse.

Drugs and alcohol hurt people, no doubt about it. Legal or not legal they hurt people, and when recovering from addiction we must learn that. We should also continue as a society to work towards addressing addiction as the health issue it is. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135

 

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