Author: Justin Mckibben
As someone who struggles with anxiety, I can understand the desire to find something that can help protect yourself from haunting feelings of dread that cripple your peace of mind. Anxiety is a complicated condition that can creep in from the most unexpected places, and people experience it in many different ways. While some may think it’s based in fear or weakness, the reality is far more complex. Those people may say all you need to overcome anxiety is a more grounded and positive outlook. But the truth for most people with an anxiety disorder is that battling anxiety goes a lot deeper than promoting optimism. Especially when your condition convinces you that all levity is just you lying to yourself. Sometimes, you need a little outside help, and anti-anxiety drugs can be very useful when a physician and an individual decide on the right route to take.
However, anti-anxiety medications can also be dangerous. These anti-anxiety drugs may not be in the spotlight the way opioids are, they are commonly abused, extremely addictive and can be just as lethal.
With recent reports showing a rise in deaths associated with anti-anxiety medications, some experts are saying there is a hidden epidemic being overshadowed by the opioid crisis.
Anti-Anxiety Drugs Underestimated
It is true that opioids are doing massive damage all across the country, but that doesn’t mean the death rates due to anti-anxiety drugs should be ignored. While focusing on prescription opioids, heroin and synthetic opioids is important, we should also keep in mind the other dangerous medications out there.
The usual suspects are benzodiazepines, which include drugs like:
While these anti-anxiety drugs may be useful in helping some people, they still carry their risks, which can be devastating and even lethal.
According to the director of the Scripps Mercy Hospital emergency department Dr. Roneet Lev, benzodiazepines are responsible for more drug deaths in San Diego County than people may expect. She says,
“That comes from people who come into our trauma center from car accidents because they’re on benzodiazepines, people who come in because they’re falling down because that affects their balance and coordination on benzodiazepines,”
“We’ve seen terrible withdrawals, when they’re used to having it, with seizures, that end up in the ICU.”
And it isn’t just people who are buying these drugs off the street. Concerning drug-related deaths by legal prescriptions, benzodiazepines are not as far behind opioids as people may think. Dr. Lev adds that while oxycodone is the number one prescribed drug associated with death, hydrocodone is second, and benzodiazepine is in third place.
But San Diego County is definitely not the only area experiencing a surge in benzodiazepine-related deaths. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), deaths involving these anti-anxiety drugs have more than quadrupled between 2002 and 2015.
Something that does make these medications even more treacherous is when they are mixed with opioids.
Mixing Meds Causing More Deaths
As if opioids or anti-anxiety drugs weren’t hazardous enough on their own, the fact that many people mix these two medications makes them even more deadly. The San Diego County Medical Examiner has concluded that 83% of benzodiazepine-related deaths also involved opioids. Nathan Painter is an associate professor in pharmacy at UC San Diego. He explains how the chemicals interact with the body, and how mixing them only amplifies these effects.
“The benzodiazepines themselves can cause respiratory depression, or your breathing slow down, and so can opioids. So when you combine them, especially in the case of not using them on a regular basis, or being new to the benzo or the opioid, if you give too much, or combine it with other things like alcohol or other medications, then it can cause that breathing to slow down, or even stop.”
What could make this even worse? Well, many of the people mixing these medications may have just been following instructions as prescribed by their doctor. Painter notes that sometimes the prescribing physicians aren’t necessarily aware of all the drugs that someone is taking, and may not be as conservative or as slow in starting the medicines as they could be. So some people may be unknowingly consuming dangerous amounts of these drugs.
Sadly, there are areas of our current culture that put people at elevated risk of death by anti-anxiety drugs.
One of the more vulnerable populations is our veterans. In fact, the Veterans Association Healthcare System has to deal with the issue of mixing medications in particular, as many veterans end up using both benzodiazepines and opioids. Dr. James Michelsen is a physician at the VA. According to Michelsen,
“Anxiety related to their combat time, problems with sleep, post-traumatic stress disorder. And traditionally these conditions benzodiazepines have been used to treat. Additionally, many of our veterans came back with physical wounds, as well.”
This becomes a serious issue when there is a lack of communication between networks of doctors, which can happen if a veteran visits a non-VA doctor and receives a prescription.
It’s not just veterans and hospitals that have problems with benzodiazepines. In fact, benzodiazepines are some of the most prescribed medications in the United States. But it has gone beyond that and even made it into pop culture.
Drugs have always been part of the music industry. History shows us how hallucinogens like LSD influenced rock like the Beetles, and how cocaine coexisted with disco, or how heroin lingered along with jazz and blues over the years. It’s still hard to find a country song that doesn’t glorify good ol’ boys with whiskey and beer. Now, pill-popping in hip-hop and pop music is so mainstream it can be unsettling.
Along with that spotlight came greater influence. Some musicians try to paint that pretty picture with abusing anti-anxiety medications, but these drugs have taken the lives of some of the great artists of a generation. In the last several years alone we lost:
There are even others like Chris Cornell, who’s wife believed that the anti-anxiety medication he was taking is partly to blame for his suicide. Even with all the death caused by these drugs, some still glamourize prescription drug abuse in our culture. Not to mention the issue of mental health and substance use disorders already growing across the country.
Fighting Anxiety and Addiction
Personally, the risks involved with anti-anxiety drugs is troubling because a lot of my anxiety is rooted in health. It manifests at times in the side-effects of even the most mundane of medicines. Some days I can’t take an Aspirin without a secret part of me wondering if my kidneys will shut-down (which is ironic considering the years I spent polluting my body with hard drugs and excessive drinking). So while everything is going fine on the outside, my inner dialog is trying to measure and analyze every muscle movement or twitch as an indication of a terminal illness.
In reality, anti-anxiety drugs can be the difference between an everyday struggle to endure the rush of nameless terror and a window into serenity and stability. For people who can take advantage of the opportunity, it can be life-changing.
However, these drugs are nothing to take lightly, and plenty of people develop severe addictions to these drugs. Anti-anxiety medications can be fatal. Some might think they are an easy way to get a rush, they can be just as lethal as opioids. Just because they are not painkillers doesn’t mean we should underestimate their capacity to do harm.
Fighting anxiety is extremely important for people with anxiety disorder. But we have to remember the risks that come with these drugs and find a way to stay safe. This is especially true for those of us in recovery from addiction. Dual diagnosis treatment is a way to create comprehensive and holistic recovery that addresses both anxiety and addiction simultaneously in order to help people overcome their anxiety in the healthiest way possible.
If you or someone you love is struggling with anxiety, or any mental health disorder, please seek help. If you struggle with substance use disorder, drugs or alcohol is not the answer. There is real help out there. Please call toll-free now.
CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135
(This content is being used for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted in the content is a model)
Author: Justin Mckibben
Anyone who has ever been both alive and awaken will experience feelings of being down. Negative emotions and difficulty with feeling them is part of life. Being conscious means dealing with the duality of living, but when emotions like helpless despair and hopelessness get control and won’t let go, you may be suffering from depression.
We all experience pain. We all deal with desperate times. But sometimes, we will eventually ask ourselves- do I have depression?
Depression is a complex issue that many people struggle with, and some people experience the grip of depression in different ways. The truth is, according to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), depression is one of the most common mental health disorders in the United States.
Do I Have Depression: The Definition
Because people experience depression differently, there are different forms of depression. Specifically we will focus on what the NIMH calls major depressive disorder or clinical depression.
According to NIMH Major depressive disorder/clinical depression is-
“a common but serious mood disorder. It causes severe symptoms that affect how you feel, think, and handle daily activities, such as sleeping, eating, or working. To be diagnosed with depression, the symptoms must be present for at least two weeks.”
Some other variations of depression can develop under unique circumstances. These include but are not limited to:
- Persistent depressive disorder
- Perinatal depression
- Psychotic depression
- Seasonal affective disorder
- Bipolar disorder
There are other specific forms of depression recognized by the mental health community, but in general the common link is the feelings experienced during depressive periods.
Do I Have Depression: The Experience
In general, some describe depression as the feeling of living in a dark abyss or with a sense of impending disaster. Other people describe depression as a feeling of lifelessness, emptiness and apathy. Restlessness and anger are also common feelings associated with depression, particularly in men.
Over-all, the primary difference between depression and everyday sadness is that it can feel almost impossible to function when suffering from depression. It dominates daily life and impedes the individual’s ability to complete regular tasks. Just getting through a day can be overwhelming.
Probably one of the most unhelpful aspects of any discussion on depression is the stigma attached to it, because many people expect that depressed people are always walking around sad. Stigma shapes this image of people with depression being unkempt and gloomy, but the reality is so many people struggle with depression behind bigger smiles and a lot of people never notice.
Do I Have Depression: The Symptoms
While depression may not be as easy to spot as the stigma would have us believe, there are symptoms that may indicate a deeper issue with depressive disorders. The following signs and symptoms are common for people with depression:
- Consistently sad, anxious, or “empty” mood
- Loss of interest or pleasure in things you care about
- Fatigue and decreased energy
- Difficulty concentrating, remembering details, or making decisions
- Difficulty sleeping, early-morning awakening, or oversleeping
- Appetite and/or weight changes
- Thoughts of death
- Suicidal thoughts or suicide attempts
- Aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems that do not ease even with treatment
Not everyone who is depressed experiences every symptom on this list. An individual may only experience a few symptoms, while others may experience many. The frequency of signs may be a good indication as well. You may be suffering from depression if you experience these symptoms:
- Most of the day
- Nearly every day
- For at least two weeks
But a diagnosis of depression isn’t something to take lightly. There is a process best taken with professionals to get a clear and thorough understanding of what you are experiencing. The severity and frequency of symptoms and how long they last will vary depending on the individual and their particular disorder. Symptoms may also vary depending on the stage of the disorder. It can also co-occur with other medical illnesses and disorders, such as:
Dual diagnosis is important in order to fully understand how each illness impacts the other, and how to best treat the individual.
Do I Have Depression: What Do I Do?
Depression can be treated, even in the most serious and seemingly helpless cases. The sooner someone is able to get treatment, the more effective it can be. Many times depression is treated with psychotherapy, and sometimes with medication. Most would say that any medication should only be utilized in combination with some form of therapy, because antidepressants are not a cure. Also, this kind of treatment must be done at the prescription and direction of a physician, as most of these medications are powerful and sometimes dangerous.
Medication can also be especially dangerous for those struggling with substance use disorder. The truth is, most people who struggle with drugs or alcohol are also struggling with a mental health disorder like depression, and many times they self-medicate or abuse their medication which only magnifies the issues.
If you’re asking- do I have depression- then the best thing to do is to contact a mental health professional. Getting a diagnosis is essential to determining how to get the help you truly need. For those suffering with dual diagnosis like depression and addiction, the method of treatment is crucial to the recovery process.
Holistic recovery programs are designed to treat every aspect of someone’s life to assure them the best chance at a healthy and fulfilling future. If you or someone you love is struggling, please call toll-free now.
CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135
Author: Shernide Delva
The opioid addiction epidemic continues to increase in fatalities each and every year. The use of opioids tripled between 2010 to 2014 and opioid overdoses occur every 19 minutes, according to the most recent surgeon general’s report. However, all the news about the opioid epidemic overshadowed the second deadliest drug in the United States. What is it, you ask?
That’s right. The popularity of cocaine has not dwindled in the midst of the opioid epidemic. People are doing it, and doing lots of it. In fact, a recent CDC report revealed that heroin and cocaine are the drugs most frequently involved in overdose deaths in the US.
An analysis from U.S. News and World Report revealed that cocaine is the second most common drug involved in fatal overdoses. Nevertheless, do not be fooled by these statistics. Opioids are much more deadly than cocaine and have a strong lead in comparison.
Breaking Down the Numbers: Heroin Leading Big Time
While heroin was responsible for 10,863 deaths in 2014 (23.1%), cocaine was responsible for 5,856 deaths (12.4%). To gather the results, researchers looked at data from death certificates where medical examiners and coroners rule on the cause of death.
“The method was applied to provide a more in-depth understanding of the national picture of the drugs involved in drug overdose deaths,” the researchers wrote.
In addition to revealing the amounts of deaths, the data showed how the prevalence of heroin deaths have increased significantly, while cocaine deaths have remained for the most part stable. For example, in 2010, heroin caused 3,020 fatal overdoses. Only four years later, in 2014 that number tripled to 10,863 deaths. Yet, cocaine stayed relatively stable. In 2010, cocaine deaths were at 4,312 and rose to 5,856 deaths in 2014.
Other drugs that saw dramatic increases were antianxiety medications (4,212 deaths) and fentanyl (4,200 deaths). Although these numbers serve a valuable purpose, researchers do caution comparing numbers across years because increased reporting and detection can skew results.
Drug Interactions: A Deadly Combination
Another important part to note is that 49% of these overdose drugs involved more than one drug, according to 2014 data. Most of the time, overdose deaths involve more than one substance so the numbers could coincide with one another.
“For example, the majority of the drug overdose deaths [in 2014] involving methamphetamine did not involve other drugs,” the researchers wrote. “In contrast, among deaths involving alprazolam and diazepam, more than 95% involved other drugs.”
Overall, the number of overdose deaths increased by 23%, rising from 38,329 in 2010 to 47,055 in 2014. Although drugs other than opioids contributed to the rising overdose rates, the data confirm that opioids have a massive impact on overdose death rates.
“The most frequently mentioned drugs involved in these deaths were the opioids: heroin, oxycodone, methadone, morphine, hydrocodone, and fentanyl,” researchers wrote.
In addition to data about specific drugs, researchers called for more accurate data on overdose deaths to be kept. In the future, they would like a more detailed analysis on these increasing drug overdoses.
“The report also demonstrates the ability of a new method for abstracting data from the death certificate to enhance national monitoring of drug overdose deaths, and it emphasizes the need to include specific drugs involved in the death on the death certificate,” said the researchers.
Whether it is cocaine or opioids like heroin or oxycodone, the epidemic is resulting in massive fatalities. With the new year right around the corner, the time is now to make a change. Your past should not dictate your future. We are here to guide you in the right direction. If you are struggling with drugs or mental illness, do not wait. Call toll-free today.
CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135
Author: Justin Mckibben
Mental health disorders, along with substance abuse and addiction, are increasingly ubiquitous among the population of the United States of America. Every day people are sick, suffering and dying due to untreated issues with mental health or drug use, and every day there are dedicated and compassionate individuals fighting to make a difference, but still too many are turning away from those who need help. Not because of cruelty, but because of stigma or lack of understanding the problem.
The National Council for Behavioral Health is hoping to break this cycle of misunderstanding, misinformation and untreated illness by changing the way mental health treatment works in America. The council has officially announced the launch of a new campaign, “Be 1 in a Million,” which was created in order to try and train 1 million people in Mental Health First Aid.
American Mental Health
According to the National Council for Behavioral Health, one in four Americans will suffer from a mental illness or addiction every year. Recent studies have shown that more youth are becoming depressed.
- There was a 1.2% increase in youth with depression
- 3% increase in youth with severe depression between 2010 and 2013
Even more troubling then some of the most daunting statistics about the state of mental health in America is the deplorable rates at which people with serious disorders are going untreated. According to Mental Health America:
- Nationally, 57% of adults with mental illness receive no treatment
- In some states (Nevada and Hawaii), nearly 70% of adults with mental illness receive no treatment
- 64% of youth with depression do not receive any treatment
- Among youths with severe depression, 63% do not receive any outpatient services
Experts say that because of the lack of treatment, for those who struggle with a mental health disorder symptoms and impairment are likely to exacerbate over time, leading individuals to experience significant deterioration in quality of life.
New Mental Health Training Movement
The purpose of this new campaign for Mental Health First Aid training is to help fund scholarships for instructors who specialize in mental health and substance use, and provide grants to help instructors target more vulnerable US populations such as:
Thus far the National Council has already made a $1 million contribution to the campaign, which also received more than $15 million from Congress.
The crusade to combat mental health disorders has rallied the efforts of more than 500,000 people, including the First Lady Michelle Obama, trying to improve on the ways in which we identify someone who may be experiencing a mental health or substance abuse problem and how to encourage them to seek help.
To make a more pungent point on the prevalence of mental health issues Laira Roth, project manager for the National Council for Behavioral Health’s first aid course stated that compared to someone with a physical medical emergency,
“The truth of the matter is that you are more likely to encounter someone who is experiencing a behavioral health condition or crisis”
All over America various organizations have made a compassionate and resolute commitment to training people in Mental Health First Aid in the coming year. Bill DeBlasio, the Mayor of New York City, has pledged to train 250,000 New Yorkers for Mental Health First Aid, and the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention held more than 100 training sessions already this last year.
Making a Move for First Aid
The National Council for Behavioral Health is adamantly urging every American to get trained in Mental Health First Aid, seeing as how odds are in a nation so mixed with millions of people and cultures every single American citizen is more than likely to know someone with a mental health disorder. Linda Rosenberg, president and CEO of the National Council said,
“This training is relevant to all of us. When you complete the Mental Health First Aid training, you will know how to intervene with someone who is actively suicidal, or help someone who is having a panic attack. You will be able to support a veteran experiencing PTSD symptoms, or a college student with a serious eating disorder. You will be able to recognize a coworker who may be struggling with addiction or a friend who is feeling depressed.”
So the overall goal for this campaign this year is to inspire more people to be more actively involved and aware of how mental health and substance abuse issues impacts every life and community to some extent or another, and that as we shatter stigma and create compassion we should all be willing to make a difference.
For more information on how you could help a friend or family member in need, check out: www.mentalhealthfirstaid.org
Palm Partners understands the importance of mental health treatment when it comes to substance abuse, and dual diagnosis treatment is designed to acknowledge the overlapping nature of these disorders and create the right recovery plan to overcome the disease of addiction and confront issues with mental health. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135. We want to help, you are not alone.
Cognitive behavioral therapy in drug treatment is the most common type of therapy in drug rehab; it can be used in group therapy and individual therapy.Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), when used in drug treatment, is based on the idea that feelings and behaviors are caused by a person’s thoughts, not on outside circumstances and events.
People are not always able to change their circumstances but, CBT says, they can change their thoughts thus changing how they feel and behave. As for drug addicts, this therapeutic approach brings awareness the way they behaved and felt when using drugs and alcohol. With cognitive behavioral therapy in drug treatment, they can change these destructive behaviors and develop new, healthy ones.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy in Drug Treatment: What is CBT?
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) refers to behavior therapy, cognitive therapy, and therapy based upon a combination of basic behavioral and cognitive principles. It is a “structured, short-term, present-oriented psychotherapy for depression, directed toward solving current problems and modifying dysfunctional (inaccurate and/or unhelpful) thinking and behavior.”
CBT has been shown to be effective in treating a variety of conditions, including mood, personality, eating, substance abuse, and psychotic disorders. Evidence-based treatment, where specific treatments for symptom-based diagnoses are recommended, has favored CBT over other approaches such as psychodynamic treatments.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy in Drug Treatment: Mood Disorders
It’s quite common for people who struggle with substance use disorders, such as addiction, to also be suffering with mental illness, such as a mood disorder (i.e. depression, anxiety). Therefore, the most successful programs offer dual diagnosis treatment. Dual diagnosis treatment approaches treating the client for both of their conditions simultaneously for the best treatment outcomes.
Because CBT is useful in treating clients when it comes to addiction as well as those with mood disorder, cognitive behavioral therapy in drug treatment for those with a dual diagnosis is a valid, beneficial and therefore often-used approach.
Most therapists working with patients dealing with anxiety and depression use a blend of cognitive and behavioral therapy. This technique acknowledges that there may be behaviors that cannot be controlled through rational thought, but rather emerge based on prior conditioning from the environment and other external and/or internal stimuli.
Mainstream cognitive behavioral therapy assumes that changing maladaptive thinking leads to change in affect and behavior as well as emphasizes changes in the client’s relationship to maladaptive thinking rather than changes in thinking itself. Therapists use CBT techniques to help clients challenge their patterns and beliefs and replace what they call “errors in thinking such as overgeneralizing, magnifying negatives, minimizing positives and catastrophizing” with “more realistic and effective thoughts, thus decreasing emotional distress and self-defeating behavior.”
Modern Cognitive Behavioral Therapy in Drug Treatment
Modern forms of CBT include a number of diverse but related techniques such as exposure therapy, stress inoculation training, cognitive processing therapy, cognitive therapy, relaxation training, dialectical behavior therapy, and acceptance and commitment therapy. Some practitioners promote a form of mindful cognitive therapy which includes a greater emphasis on self-awareness as part of the therapeutic process.
Cognitive behavioral therapy in drug treatment has six phases:
- Assessment or psychological assessment;
- Skills acquisition;
- Skills consolidation and application training;
- Generalization and maintenance;
- Post-treatment assessment follow-up.
CBT is “problem focused,” meaning that it is used to address specific problems as well as “action oriented” – the CBT therapist assists the client in creating specific strategies in order to address the identified problems.
If you are struggling with a psychological disorder and/or substance use disorder, CBT and dual diagnosis treatment can get you on the path to health and recovery. At Palm Partners, we employ CBT methods as well as several other approaches to treatment, including holistic methods, in order to help our clients reach successful outcomes of their cognitive behavioral therapy in drug treatment program. Please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135 to speak with one of our knowledgeable and compassionate Addiction Specialists; we are available 24/7.