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Medical Schools Try Substituting Opioids With Nerve Blocks

 

Medical Schools Try Substituting Opioids With Nerve Blocks

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

Author: Shernide Delva

A discovery may help keep patients off addictive opioids while still providing the pain relief they desperately need. Just recently, Nashville Public Radio reports that the Middle Tennessee School of Anesthesia (MTSA) has restructured its program, so students do not lean on prescribing opioids. Instead, a more innovative approach will be considered. What could this be?

The answer could be nerve blocks. Nerve blocks deaden a particular area instead of knocking a patient out completely.  Nerve blocks are commonly associated with epidurals however improved technology is allowing them to be more widely used.

Chris Hulin, president of MTSA, recently had success with a nerve block while undergoing foot surgery. During the surgery, Hurlin even said hi to the surgeon a couple of times during the operation. During the entire procedure, he felt zero pain. He elaborated stating he “didn’t have any sensations” in his foot for 24 hours. Post-surgery, he simply took ibuprofen to manage post-op pain.

Still, nerve blocks are not commonly used in the medical field. MTSA students struggle even to find operating rooms that allowed the practice, according to NPR. However, with opioid addiction reaching epidemic proportions, MTSA believes it is important to increase access to this service.

“We want to eliminate or potentially decrease the probability that the patient is going to be exposed to those opiates for the very first time,” said Patrick Moss, who teaches acute pain management at MTSA. “We want to do everything we can to make that patient happy. And I think sometimes that’s been unfortunately the inadvertent withholding of therapies such as what we’re teaching here at our institution.”

Despite new guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which call for limiting the number of opioid prescriptions, recent findings reveal that most surgeons are disregarding these limitations. A study released last month at the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in New Hampshire found that out of the 642 patients they followed post-surgery, more than 90% were prescribed opioids.

Why? Jane C. Ballantyne, Professor of Education and Research in the Department of Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine at the University of Washington, mentioned to The Fix that it has to do with our desire to find a quick solution to every ailment.

“We live in a culture in which the expectation is that we can ‘fix’ everything,”  she said. “It’s hard for physicians to say ‘no’ when patients demand opioids for pain because both patients and physicians have come to believe that opioids offer a solution.”

The important thing to recognize is that pain is real. People do experience pain and pain management is always going to be a necessity. However, how the medical community approaches treating pain does not have to stay the same. A few decades ago, we saw the rise of opioid prescriptions in the medical community. Now, they have become the norm, but there are other options. A solution like nerve blocks could be a useful tool for managing pain without the use of opioids.

More people are dying from overdoses than car accidents. It is the time we make a change in our approach treating patients with pain. The disease of addiction is not something anyone ever desires. Often, a visit to the doctor for a broken bone can spiral into a full blown opioid dependence. This has to stop.

Regardless of what methods we use to treat pain, the important thing is that we consider alternatives. There are so many people struggling. If you are alone, reading this article should confirm that you are far from the only one. The good news is we can teach you the tools to live a healthy life in recovery. Gain your life back. Call today.

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International Overdose Awareness Day 2016

 

International Overdose Awareness Day 2016

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Author: Shernide Delva

Today, August 31, marks International Overdose Awareness Day. On this day, the goal is to raise global awareness of overdoses and reduce the stigma of drug-related deaths. This day is intended to acknowledge the grief felt by friends and family who have suffered the loss of a loved one due to a drug overdose.

The Shocking Reality

The tragedy of a drug overdose is preventable.  Today is a day to spread awareness to others about the disease of addiction.  Drug addiction is a global phenomenon; however, the United States, in particular, is facing a major drug epidemic. More deaths were reported from drug overdoses in 2014 than any other year on record. Deaths from overdoses are up among all genders, races, and nearly all ages. This is a disease that does not discriminate.

Out of these shocking numbers, three out of five drug overdose deaths involve opioids. Overdoses from opioids such as prescription opioids and heroin have nearly quadrupled since 1999. Overdoses from opioids killed over 28,000 people in 2014. Half of these deaths were related to prescription opioids.

Between 2013 and 2014, the number of drug overdoses increased a total of 6.5 percent. The year 2014 had a total of 47,055 drug overdoses in the United States. These numbers continue to climb as the prescription painkiller epidemic continues to be a major issue.

To spread the message of awareness, International Overdose Day focuses on commemorating those who have been affected by drug addiction. While today is intended to encourage the message of prevention, it also aims to encourage a message of hope.

Principles of Harm Reduction

The Harm Reduction Coalition affirms that “we will not end the overdose crisis until we place people who use drugs, along with their families and friends, at the center of our policies and strategies. “

The coalition aims to accomplish this task by ensuring that those who use drugs and their loved ones have access to information intended to treat and support them without the fear of stigma or arrest.

Furthermore, naloxone remains one of the most powerful tools in preventing opioid overdose deaths. Naloxone is a medication that works to counteract the effects of an opioid overdose.  Recently, there has been a push to increase the access the public has to naloxone. In many places, naloxone can now be purchased via pharmacies like CVS, and even in school nurses offices.

Still, according to the Harm Reduction Coalition, the United States is in a state of emergency.

“ We can no longer accept incremental progress; we must demand urgent action to save lives.”

Five Areas Needing Improvement

The Harm Reduction Coalition calls for immediate action in these five areas to increase access to naloxone:

  1. Funding: Congress should fully fund the President’s request for $12 million in Fiscal Year 2016 to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to provide grants to states to support broader naloxone access.
  2. Cost: The rising cost of naloxone by manufacturers in recent years is a deep concern. This increase threatens to limit the distribution of naloxone, especially by community-based programs that reach those most vulnerable to opioid overdoses. When prices increase, it directly increases the likelihood of more overdose deaths. Therefore, the coalition calls upon naloxone manufacturers and developers to price their products responsibly to ensure the best possible distribution.
  3. Access:Despite improvements in the access to naloxone, access remains limited and inadequate. Prescribers and health care professions play a vital role in ending the overdose crisis. Therefore, there should be an effort by all parties to develop guidance, education and training, resources, and support tools aimed at increasing awareness and access to the drug.
  4. Availability:Many states are working to make naloxone available through pharmacies through arrangements and agreements. These efforts should increase and broaden to ensure the widest availability of naloxone.  In addition, the Food and Drug Administration should develop, facilitate and expedite the regulatory pathways needed to ensure naloxone can be sold over the counter. Over-the-counter naloxone should be available to the market by 2018.
  5. Awareness: Despite the rising number of overdose deaths in the past decade, there still is not a national awareness campaign to educate the public and those most at risk about the signs and symptoms of opioid overdose. Countless anecdotal reports suggest that the lack of awareness is a critical factor in many preventable overdose deaths. Therefore the HHS and CDC must develop broad national awareness campaigns; that spreads information on how and where to obtain naloxone.

Ways to Raise Awareness

In addition to the guidelines suggested by the HHC, the International Overdose Awareness Day website aims to raise awareness through innovative technologies like there overdose aware app. The app raises awareness amongst those who are experiencing drug use and their families. The app shares information on what an overdose is, and the main overdose symptoms.

The website also has an area where those who have been directly affected by drug addiction overdoses can write a tribute to their story and grieve anyone they have lost. These tributes are where many share the impact drug use and overdoses have had on their family and friends.

How are you spreading awareness of International Overdose Awareness Day? If you are struggling with drug addiction, do not wait for it to progress into an overdose. We can help you get back on track. Please call toll free.

   CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135

Darkness After the Diploma: 7 Ways to Overcome Post-College Depression

Darkness after the Diploma: 7 Ways to Overcome Post-College Depression

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Author: Shernide Delva

Yay! You graduated college!  Diploma in hand ready to go…

Wait, now what?

That exact question is what college graduates struggle to cope with. Post-college depression is an issue often underestimated and not discussed enough. However,post-college depression can lead to many unhealthy behaviors because of the insecurity and disappointment of entering the real world.

For many, college is a time to make friends, socialize and finish school. Your life is a bit of an educational bubble. You are an adult, yet your routines revolve around your class schedules.  There is no need to think about major life decisions, and maybe you brushed things off declaring that you would face those obstacles “after graduation.”

Then graduation happens and the questions swirl. “What am I going to do with my life?” Alternatively, “Will I ever be able to support myself financially?” and even worse “Was this investment worth it?”  Of course, everyone is different. Personally, I have no regrets about going to college, but I do struggle with patience and motivation.

Post-college depression is unlike regular depression. Typically, post-college depression has different symptoms than actual clinical depression. Nonetheless, if left unaddressed, it becomes harder to overcome.

Symptoms of Post-College Depression

  • Addiction:  In college, it may have been normal to go to the occasional crazy party, however after college; some people become addicted to drugs and alcohol to fill the voids in their life. Drinking and drugs become more than just a fun night out. It becomes a full blown addiction.
  • Fear:  After college, many hesitate to take the next step into their career. For example, you may feel the fear that you will fail and not be successful. Because of this fear, you may avoid getting a stable job, buying a house or making major career decisions. Ultimately, fear prevents you from moving forward. Depression can become worse once a person realizes it has been a year or two post-college and little has been accomplished.
  • Loneliness:  It is very common to feel lonely after college.  In college, you may have had a group of classmates you saw on a daily basis. Maybe you were in clubs and loved going to the campus gym. Now college is over, and your life is nowhere near the same. Your classmates are moving away for job opportunities, and life is staring you in the eyes. Feelings of intense loneliness can be overwhelming during this timeframe.
  • Unemployment: The biggest reason for depression after college is the lack of a job. This is a very common symptom. Learning your major was one thing, finding a job in your major is whole other ball field.  When the economy is on a decline, it can feel overwhelming trying to find a financially stable job in your major. After months of trying, depression may set in, and you feel hopeless and like a failure. Hang in there and keep trying. This is a very common symptom and just means it is time to consider all your options, even options you would never have considered before. Opening your mind is crucial during this time.

After college, the structure and stability you’ve grown accustomed to are over. The transition can be a piece of cake for some; however others struggle with functioning after college is over.  Also, college is a time where depression rates peak and leaving college can make pre-existing clinical depression worse.

How to Overcome Post-College Depression

Now that we know all the reasons for post-college depression, the next step is to understand how to overcome it.  Here are seven suggestions to get you on the right path:

  1. Get a Job: I know, easier said than done. However, this is a crucial problem holding you back from feeling secure in your life. If you have not found a way of making income, take the time to figure out how to do so. Your first job out of college may not be in your field, and that is okay. Life may go in another direction from what you studied at first, but the important thing is to keep your mind open to opportunities. Be creative and find something for now.
  2. Meet New People: Losing friends after college can be a bummer. The good news is you can still meet new people outside of campus. Work on your socialization skills during this time. Not only is it perfect for making new friends, but it helps with networking. Putting yourself out there is a significant step in overcoming the post-college blues.
  3. Join Clubs: You can still be in clubs even outside of college. There are plenty of adult groups you can find on social networking websites like Facebook and Meetup. Find a weekly group that focuses on an interest you have. Join a yoga class or volunteer in your community. There is no reason that these activities should stop once you are handed your diploma.
  4. Set Goals: Setting goals is the best way to overcome depression because it gives you a perspective on where your life is headed. Start out by setting small goals and accomplish them. Then set bigger goals and make a schedule on how to work on those goals each day. Goals help you feel a sense of purpose in your life, instead of feeling hopeless.
  5. Check in with Old Friends: Guess what? If you are feeling this low after college, chances are your friends are too. Try talking to old friends. Go out for dinner or coffee with some classmates and talk about the challenges you all are having with life after college. You all are going through the same thing and can help each other deal.
  6. Focus on the Present: Staying in the present is the best thing you can do for yourself. Comparing yourself to others is a recipe for disaster. Someone is always going to be doing better, and vice versa. Think about what you can do in the moment to make yourself happier. Maybe travel for a day or go to the beach. Just because your life is not where you wanted does not mean you cannot enjoy where you are now.
  7. Try Therapy: If your depression is becoming unmanageable, seek help. There is no reason to live life in darkness. People around you may think you are going through a normal phase of post-college life, but you know if your symptoms are becoming severe. There is no shame is seeking help from a professional. Medication may be an option for you if you need it. If you are more into natural routes, try to look up holistic treatment options for depression.  There is no shame in feeling out of control. You are not alone.

Overall, if you are struggling with post-college depression, understand that plenty of people struggle with this condition. Post College is a fantastic time because you are growing and learning about yourself. It can also be a struggle. Do not fall into unhealthy coping mechanisms. Talk to someone about your depression and addiction issues. We can help.  Please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135.

3 Common Reasons Addicts Resist Treatment

3 Common Reasons Addicts Resist Treatment

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

Author: Shernide Delva

From the outside looking in, it can be hard to accept that many people who struggle with addiction resist getting treatment. The reason behind this is complex and varies from person to person.  Addiction is everywhere. The prescription painkiller abuse and heroin epidemic have gotten to a point where everyone, from all walks of life, knows someone who is suffering from an addiction to drugs. Chances are, you know someone with a drug/alcohol problem that also has a mental health issue. With all that being said, surely everyone needing help would be seeking treatment, right?

Unfortunately, this is rarely the case.  There are common reasons why drug addicts resist the treatment. Some reasons are considered more valid than others, however almost everyone can find options if they open their mind and look into the resources.

Here are 3 Common Reasons Addicts Resist Treatment

  1. Denial: I Can Beat This on My Own

It is hard enough in life to ask for help for everyday problems. Asking for help to overcome an addiction can be even harder. Addicts tend to believe that they have their disease under control. They feel like they can fight their addiction without the help of others. Sadly, after multiple failed attempts, most are unable to overcome their addiction. If you have tried multiple times and failed, what makes you think this time will be different?

If you are in this position, the time is now to embrace help. Talk to a counselor or a trusted friend about wanting to get treatment.  Support is one of the best tools for overcoming addiction. Doing it on your own sets you up for failure. Many people who try to quit on their own simply lack the professional care and support they desperately need. Seek treatment and have a team of support by your side.

  1. Age: Feeling Too Young or Too Old

It never is too early or too late to start. Often, at a young age, addicts believe they are having fun, or it is “just a phase” so they resist treatment. On the other hand, those who are older may feel it is “too late” to change old habits. Either way, young or old, anyone struggling with addiction needs to get help.

You deserve to live a good and meaningful life. Excuses hinder you from enjoying a sober life in recovery. Saying you are too young for recovery hinders you from taking advantage of the years of life you have ahead of you. Saying you are too old hinders you from enjoying the years that you have to live in the present instead of the past.

If you are young: It is time. Addiction always has the same end result: heartache, rejection, pain, destruction and, death. Save yourself and your loved ones the trouble before it is too late.

If you are older:  With age, life becomes more meaningful. You may have a career, children, even grandchildren. These are precious times that should be experienced in sobriety. Also, with age come more responsibilities, which mean it is more important than ever to be sober and alert. It is never too late to change. Stop letting age be a factor.

  1. Financial Reasons: Feeling Unable to Afford Treatment

Finally, the biggest concern many people have when it comes to going to rehab is cost. Affordability is a major factor in the decision to go to treatment. Fortunately, there are a plethora of options available to those in need.

Health insurance:
Many health insurance companies will cover drug treatment at little or no out of pocket cost. Every insurance plan is different, but those that cover substance abuse treatment will usually have different allocations for different parts of drug rehabilitation. Even if insurance covers drug rehabilitation, there is likely a portion of treatment that they won’t pay for. Whether it is co-pays, deductibles, or simply additional costs while you are in treatment, there is usually a portion that you will have to pay yourself. Research your coverage before going to treatment and figure out what your cost will be. Many times, the facility will be able to work with you.

Rehab Scholarships

If you are unable to afford treatment through your health insurance, try looking into acquiring rehab scholarships. Many rehabs have a specific amount of money allotted for rehab scholarships per year.  As long as that money is not used up, they may be able to help you. Start out calling rehabs that you want to attend and discuss your options.

Free Rehabs

Believe it or not, there are programs that are available for low/no cost to those who need it most. Programs like these target individuals are who unemployed and struggling with the physical, emotional, and financial cost of addiction. While they may not be able to provide the same resources, they still are a viable option for those who need treatment. There are two types of facilities that offer options like these: state-funded rehabs and faith-based rehabs.

State-funded rehabs work through verifying need. They look for information like:

  • Official residence in the state
  • Lack of income and insurance
  • Legal residence in the US
  • Addiction status and need for intervention

Faith-based programs provide drug and alcohol recovery programs based on specific religious traditions. Programs like the Salvation Army are faith-based.  Not all faith-based programs are free of charge, but many of them are. Ask questions and confirm before getting involved.Ultimately, the first place to start is going through your insurance to see if you are covered.

The journey to recovery is necessary one. Let go of the excuses and take advantage of all the resources available to get you back to a meaningful life. Invest your time and energy in finding a treatment center that is run by professionals who want to support you. We can help you in the process.  If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135.

Sports Injuries Increase the Risk of Drug Addiction

Sports Injuries Increase the Risk of Drug Addiction

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

Author: Shernide Delva

The benefits of playing sports are endless.  Any form of physical activity is good for the mind, body and spirit. Team sports teach you accountability, social skills, leadership, among many other traits. Growing up, I was involved in playing soccer and basketball. I was an average player at best, however, I learned so much about myself being involved in sports. I pushed myself beyond what I thought I was capable of, both mentally and physically.

However, the biggest danger of playing sports is getting injured.  Injuries and sports go hand and hand. A study even revealed that athletes could have a greater risk of developing a dependency to drugs due to their high risk of injury.

See, it starts off quite innocently.  An athlete suffers an injury and is prescribed an opioid painkiller to ease the pain during the healing process. The next thing you know, that same athlete finds themselves with an addiction to painkillers.

A recent article delves into this addiction crisis in sports. A Maryland doctor admits he sees this occurrence on a daily basis. What starts out as a simple sports injury leads into abuse of powerful, narcotic painkillers. And when the pills run out, teens often turn to a cheaper alternative: heroin.

In the article, Conner Ostrowski is used as an example. Conner was a varsity team wrestler with plans to attend college on a full scholarship. Suddenly, Conner’s plans were derailed when he suffered a life-changing injury and cracked the base of his spine during a match.

As you can imagine, this was very devastating for Conner. Conner was told he could never wrestle again. As a precaution, his mother told his surgeon not to prescribe him opiate-based medication. Addiction ran in the family, she said. However, Conner’s pain consumed him. Soon, he even became depressed.

A family member who had extra Percocet pills offered Conner a full bag. The rest, as explained by mother, Andrea Wildason, was history:

“So he took the Percocet, and you know, all the anxiety and the depression and the racing thoughts in his brain, he sort of went, ‘Ah,’ you know, and his back pain went away after one pill.”

Percocet is a highly addictive opioid. Conner went through the bag quickly and tried to find more at school, but he could not afford the high street value cost, so he turned to a cheaper alternative: heroin.

“He was sleeping, nodding off all the time, and he was angry. He became mean,” Wildason said.

Conner’s story is all too common. A 2014 study in the Journal of Adolescent Health found boys who participated in organized sports have higher odds of being prescribed opioid medication, putting them at greater risk of drug abuse.

Sports injuries, in many cases, are the gateway to drug addiction. Orthopedic surgeon Dr. Edward McDevitt says stories like these are all too common. Doctors are eager to help athletes get back to the team quickly.

“As a team doctor, you want to help them, so you give them medication, but sometimes you give them too strong a medication or on medication for too long, and once they’re on it for a length of time, they get addicted to it,” McDevitt said.

He said physicians need to take some responsibility.

“We have to realize that we are sometimes the ones who are steering these people on the road to addiction. We have to talk about the dangers of these drugs and how they should be used for a very short period of time,” McDevitt said.

McDevvitt believes other less addictive options should be explored before prescribing addictive painkillers. Alternatives like ibuprofen and acetaminophen can be very effective. Even physical therapy and ice can go a long way in treating an injury.

As for Conner, after several failed attempts, he is now three years sober.  The pain from his wrestling injury is still there but he has learned a valuable lesson.

“Pain doesn’t kill you. Addiction will, and he knows that. He knows that, and I hope everybody knows that,” Wildason said.

Parents should explore other pain relieving options that are less addictive.  If that does not work, carefully monitoring narcotic prescriptions and asking for a smaller dose could help prevent drug abuse.

What do you think? Are sports injuries contributing to teens abusing pain medications? Pain is a real thing, however knowing the dangers of addiction can help avoid a major problem. If you are struggling, it is time to finally overcome your dependence to opioid medications. 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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