Author: Shernide Delva
The controversy surrounding the Megyn Kelly Sunday Night show continues. The first investigation piece on drug addiction focused on issues plaguing the South Florida recovery community.
Now, Megyn Kelly returns to cover addiction treatment, and this time her show is highlighting another polarizing subject: harm reduction programs. On Sunday night, Megyn Kelly’s shows featured The Sinclair Method. The Sinclair Method is a harm reduction treatment program that allows patients who struggle with alcohol use disorder to continue drinking.
The segment introduces viewers to Marisa, a 25-year-old binge drinker. The crew follows Marisa around for day one of her introduction to The Sinclair Method.
First Marisa sees a doctor, who gives her a prescription. Shortly after taking the prescription, she has a drink. According to Marisa, her intense cravings to binge disappears.
“I feel like I could have another drink or not have another drink and be totally fine,” she tells the camera.
The apparent miracle pill is naltrexone, a commonly used opioid antagonist typically used to treat heroin addiction. However, under The Sinclair Method, the drug is used to treat alcoholism.
“The drug blocks pleasure receptors in the brain―a buzzkill,” Melvin explains in a voiceover. “And when combined with psychotherapy sessions, the theory goes, eventually the cravings go away.”
Essentially, the idea behind the program is patients take naltrexone before drinking and over time, the desire to excessively drink diminishes. For Marisa, the unorthodox treatment seems to have worked. Only three months after starting the treatment, she told NBC she had lost her drive to drink.
Still, this approach is far from traditional. The 12-step model of addiction promotes abstinence only treatment. The show highlighted an interview with Hazelden Betty Ford’s executive director, Chris Yadron.
“The 12 steps are crucial because it’s a spiritual program of recovery,” he told Melvin.
Dr. Mark Willenbring who once ran the NIH’s alcohol recovery research defended The Sinclair Method, added that 12-step approaches do not rely on modern science.
“We don’t send someone with diabetes to a spa for a month, teach them diet and exercise and then say, ‘Go to support groups, but don’t take insulin.’ I mean, that’s the absurdity of what we’re doing now,” he said. “We’re still providing the same pseudo treatment that we provided in 1950. And 85% of rehabs in the country are 12-step rehabs. People don’t have any choice.”
The tension between abstinence-based and harm-reduction approaches to treatment has created a long-standing controversy in the recovery community. Throughout the segment, tweets were displayed from people who were for and against harm reduction strategies.
“This is very troublesome to see that some doctors are giving people with a thinking disease a “magic” pill,” tweeted one user.
Others felt the treatment option provides another solution than the standard abstinence-only approach. We’ve seen harm reduction programs like Moderation Management receive massive criticism, specifically after the founder, Audrey Kishline, killed a 12-year old girl and her father while driving in an alcoholic blackout.
Overall, programs like these remain controversial and risky. It is best to get treatment to address the underlying issues behind your addiction. If you are struggling with mental illness or addiction, please call now.
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Author: Shernide Delva
Each year, more than 300 million people are affected by depression. Depression is a debilitating illness that is difficult to treat.
What if there was one gene that played a key role in depression? Furthermore, what if that gene could be identified and even manipulated to actually treat depression?
Shockingly, this could all be a possibility. Researchers have discovered a gene that may play a central role in depression. This gene either protects us from stress or triggers a downward spiral depending on its level of activity.
The study was conducted by researchers at the University of Maryland School of Medicine (UM SOM). It was the first to pinpoint in detail how one particular gene, known as Slc6a15, is a key role in depression. The study found the same link in both animals and humans.
“This study really shines a light on how levels of this gene in these neurons affects mood,” said the senior author of the study, Mary Kay Lobo, an assistant professor in the Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology.
“It suggests that people with altered levels of this gene in certain brain regions may have a much higher risk for depression and other emotional disorders related to stress.”
Potential Treatment Solution?
A study like this could help with treating depression in the future, and that help is desperately needed.
Nearly 800,000 people die annually from suicide. It is the second leading cause of death among people between the ages of 15 to 29. Beyond that, depression destroys the quality of life for tens of millions of patients, and their families suffer too. Although environmental factors play a significant role in many cases of depression, genetics are equally as important.
This is not the first time this gene was studied. Back in 2006, Dr. Lobo and her colleagues found that the Slc6a15 gene was common in specific neurons in the brain. They recently demonstrated that these neurons were important in depression.
Connection to Anhedonia
Her lab decided to investigate the specific role these neurons have in depression. In the latest study, she and her team focused on a particular area of the brain called the nucleus accumbens. This region is crucial in the brain’s “reward circuit.”
When you eat a delicious meal or participate in any kind of enjoyable experience, neurons in the nucleus accumbens are activated letting you know the experience is enjoyable. When a person is depressed, it ‘s hard to experience any kind of enjoyment, a condition known as anhedonia.
Researchers discovered subset neurons in the nucleus accumbens called D2 neurons. These neurons respond to the neurotransmitter dopamine, which plays a central role in the reward circuit.
Mainly, these subset neurons responded to feel good chemicals like dopamine which is lacking in those with depression. Next, they studied mice susceptible to depression. These mice tended to withdraw from activities and exhibit behavior indicating depression such as social withdrawal and lack of interest in the food they would normally enjoy.
Dr. Lobo found that when the mice were subject to social stress, the levels of the Slc6a15 gene in the D2 neurons of the nucleus accumbens was noticeably reduced. The researchers also studied mice in which the gene had been reduced in D2 neurons. When those mice were subjected to stress, they also exhibited signs of depression. Furthermore, when researchers increased the levels of Slc6a15 levels in D2 neurons, the mice showed a resilient response to stress.
So what does this mean?
Next, Dr. Lobo looked at brains of humans who had a history of major depression and who had committed suicide. In the same region of the brain as the mice, the gene Slc6a15 was reduced. This indicates that the link between gene and behavior is found in both humans and mice.
In the future, manipulating these genes could help improve depression. While it is still unclear how Slc6a15 operates in the brain, Dr. Lobo states it may work by altering neurotransmitter levels in the brain.
This research could lead to therapies that focus specifically on this particular gene to treat depression. If you are struggling with substance abuse or mental illness, call now. Do not wait.
CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135
Author: Shernide Delva
The United States has slowly begun to see more and more states approve medical and even recreational marijuana. But the U.S. is far from the only country seeing major shifts in marijuana policies.
Greece just joined six other European Union countries in approving some form of medical cannabis. Greece is “turning its page” on drug policy by allowing qualified citizens to access medical cannabis. The announcement by Greek officials occurred on June 30 at a press conference.
“Greece is now included in countries where the delivery of medical cannabis to patients in need is legal,” according to Greece’s Government Gazette.
Now that the government had reclassified cannabis from Table A to Table B, it is now possible for certain patients to access marijuana for medical purposes legally. This move is like moving cannabis from Schedule I to Schedule II of the United States’ Controlled Substances Act.
In the U.S., cannabis is still classified under Schedule I, alongside heroin and LSD. Although various states permit marijuana use, it is still not legal on a federal level. Drugs like oxycodone, methadone, and methamphetamine are in Schedule II, a less restrictive drug category.
With these new implementations, Greece can now import products from other countries like Canada and the United States. There are qualifying conditions required by the Ministry of Health that patients must have to access medical marijuana.
These health conditions include:
- Chronic or Neuropathic Pain
- Nausea & vomiting from chemotherapy
- Some eating disorders
“From now on, the country is turning its page, as Greece is now included in countries where the delivery of medical cannabis to patients in need is legal,” said Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras.
Greece joins six other European Union countries that have approved medical cannabis in some form.
Other countries include:
- The Czech Republic
- The Netherlands
Germany is a recent addition to the list. Their law went into effect this past March to help “critically ill” citizens.
Another country approving cannabis in June is Mexico, where the new law passed legislation with overwhelming support.
A country like Greece supporting medical marijuana is a major shift in the country’s mentality. Greece has a long known history of strict anti-drug laws. However, the debt-ridden country is moving in a different direction. The government legalized the processing of hemp in April, “ending 60 years of prohibition of the traditional, non-psychoactive plant,” Leafly reported at the time.
Hemp is a variety of the Cannabis sativa plant species that is grown specifically for mass use. Although hemp and marijuana come from the same plant, they are distinctively different. Hemp has low THC levels, which means it does not produce a high. Hemp is processed into a variety of useful products including paper, textiles, clothing, plastics, biofuel, and food.
Marijuana reform remains a controversial topic. However as the medical benefits of cannabis continue to reveal themselves, more countries are opening up to the idea of legalization. What do you think about the recent legalization of medical marijuana in Greece?
Like any substance, marijuana can be abused. If you are struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please seek help. Regardless of whether a drug is legalized or not, if you feel out of control with your substance use, please reach out. We want to help.
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(This content is being used for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted in the content is a model)
Author: Shernide Delva
If you thought all the attention surrounding the opioid epidemic would result in immediate progress, think again.
According to experts, things are going to get a lot worse before they get better.
But just how bad will it get?
Leading public experts agree the epidemic of people dying from opioids could reach up to a half million over the next decade.
Experts at ten universities were asked to project the death toll from opioid overdoses over the next decade. If the worst-case scenario plays out, by 2027, we could be losing 250 people every day to heroin/painkillers in the United States. Right now, that number is closer to 100 deaths per day.
Even scarier, substances like fentanyl and carfentanil, which are many times stronger than heroin, continue to drive up the death toll.
Recent statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate that in 2015, at least 33,000 people died from a fatal opioid overdose. Nearly half of those deaths involved prescription opioids like OxyContin or Percocet.
Still, there is hope that the death toll won’t continue to rise as fast as it currently is. In the best case scenario, STAT predicts 21,300 opioid deaths in 2027 which is lower than 2015 numbers. However, getting to this point will require major investments in evidence-based treatment.
Regardless, all experts agree on one fact: the opioid epidemic will get worse over the next decade before any improvement occurs.
Here are the 10 Opioid Epidemic Scenarios Projected by 2027
The worst scenario: In this scenario, the death toll projection for 2027 is 93,613, an 183% increase from 2015.
In this scenario, the drug overdose total will continue to climb at a steady rate as they have for decades. This scenario assumes that opioid deaths will continue to make up roughly the same percentage of all drug deaths.
In this scenario, the death toll projection for 2027 is 70,239 opioid deaths. This change would be an 112% increase since 2015.
This scenario assumes that opioid use climbs for the foreseeable future, but it takes into consideration the potential progress from reducing opioid prescriptions and other interventions.
In this scenario, the forecast for 2027 is 56,118 opioid deaths. This change would be a 70% jump since 2015.
This scenario assumes that total opioid deaths will rise slightly because of increasing fatal heroin and fentanyl overdoses. The influx of fentanyl and heroin will offset any improvement in prescription opioid abuse.
In this scenario, the opioid deaths forecast for 2027 is 46,740. This would be a 41% increase since 2015.
This scenario assumes that the death toll will increase due to fentanyl and lack of naloxone access. The decline of deaths would occur due to fewer doctors overprescribing opioids due to increase awareness.
In this scenario, the death forecast for 2027 is 45,000. This would be a 36% increase since 2015.
This scenario assumes an increase due to fentanyl use and a reduction in prescription opioid abuse. After several years, this scenario assumes that doctors will begin to prescribe painkillers more responsibly.
In this scenario, the opioid death forecast for 2027 is 44,843. This forecasted change would be a 36% increase since 2015.
This scenario assumes a sharp increase in deaths for the first few years before the effects of interventions and funding through the 21st Century Cures Act kicks into gear, driving the numbers down.
In this scenario, opioid deaths for 2027 is 40,652. This would be a 23% increase since 2015.
This scenario assumes opioid deaths will increase until a combination of intervention strategies like increase naloxone access, decreased prescription opioids, and increased treatment access lower fatal overdoses.
In this scenario, opioid deaths for 2027 is 40,000. This change would be a 21% increase since 2015.
This scenario assumes that heroin laced with synthetic opioids will cause opioid deaths to rise for several years. This rise will peak and then later decline as drug users either fatally overdose or seek treatment.
In this scenario, the death forecast for 2027 is 25,000. This is a 24% reduction since 2015.
This scenario assumes heroin laced with synthetic opioids will result in increased fatal overdoses for several years. Only after this increase will numbers start to decline, as increased naloxone access, addiction treatment, and more supervised injection sites reduce the numbers significantly, resulting in an overall decrease.
– The best scenario: In this scenario, the death forecast for 2027 is 21,300. This is a 36% reduction since 2015.
This scenario assumes that doctors will prescribe fewer opioids, and states will embrace prescription drug monitoring programs. Insurers will begin to enact reforms to increase treatment access.
Overall, all scenarios projected by experts agree that the opioid epidemic will get worse before it gets better if it gets better at all.
The experts agree that opioid deaths won’t begin to slow down until at least 2020. It takes time for governmental efforts to kick in and for education and public awareness to result in positive change.
“It took us about 30 years to get into this mess,” said Robert Valuck, a professor at the University of Colorado-Denver’s School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences. “I don’t think we’re going to get out of it in two or three.”
The opioid epidemic costs the US economy nearly $80 billion annually, according to federal officials. STAT notes that the US already spends about $36billion on addiction treatment, yet only 10% of the estimated 2.2 million Americans with opioid use disorder ever seek help.
This epidemic is not going off the radar anytime soon. Plenty of people are still deep into their addiction and need treatment immediately. If this sounds like you or someone you know, please call now. We want to help.
CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135
Celebrity Rehab Host Dr. Drew Blames Opioid Epidemic on Doctors
Dr. Drew Pinsky, a board-certified addictions specialist, famous as the host of Celebrity Rehab With Dr. Drew, recently responded to a New York Times analysis. The analysis revealed that drug-related deaths have spiked to 19% across the country in 2016. According to the report, drug overdoses are now the leading cause of death for Americans under 50.
In response, Dr. Drew says this epidemic was brought on by the doctors. He blames doctors who continued prescribing opioids to patients despite their awareness of the high risk of addiction.
“The reason we have all these heroin addicts is because physicians over-prescribed opiates and then cut these patients off as opposed to getting them treatment,” he said recently on KABC radio. “And when you cut an opiate addict off, the state they’re in requires they find an alternative source of opiates. The cheapest best route now—fentanyl.”
Although his words are quite direct, they hold true.
Last week, an article published in The New England Journal of Medicine argued that the medical community wrongly cited a small 1980s editorial to repeatedly claim that opioids did not have highly addictive qualities.
“The crisis arose in part because physicians were told that the risk of addiction was low when opioids were prescribed for chronic pain. A one-paragraph letter that was published in the Journal in 1980 was widely invoked in support of this claim, even though no evidence was provided by the correspondents,” the editorial reads.
Essentially, doctors were using a letter rather than a clinical evidence to validate the claim that opioids were not addictive. This led many patients into believing that the medications they were using would not cause any form of dependence.
Addiction Stigma Further Wreaks Havoc
Furthermore, Dr. Drew states stigma surrounding addiction prevents doctors from addressing any concerns they may feel regarding their patients.
“They are afraid of the term addiction. They feel as though diagnosing someone with addiction is somehow judging them,” he continued.
Doctors who regularly prescribe opioids are at the root of the problem, Dr. Drew states, because the chances of dependence are high, and patients are often unaware of how real the risk really is.
“70 to 80% of people develop disabling consequences from their relationship with opiates,” Dr. Drew said,
The problem is when doctors continue to prescribe opioids despite the high risk of addiction, or worse, cut off a patient’s supply to opioids without providing some sort of addiction treatment option.
Patient Satisfaction is King
There is also a mindset in medicine that must abide by the patient when it comes to pain management.
“The discipline holds that ‘pain is what the patient says it is. Who are we to say when we have pain control? Pain control is achieved when the patient says it’s achieved.’ And that group will only admit to the fact that perhaps 30% of the patients get a little bit of a problem,” he said.
Stigma around addiction keeps physicians from talking to their patients about the risks of dependence. This leads to long-term dependence. While there have been regulations in place to prevent abuse, this often backfires.
Many people who were once dependent on opioid prescriptions turn to heroin due to the increased availability and decreased price cost. Heroin varies significantly in strength and many strands contain powerful substances like fentanyl which lead to overdose fatalities.
The opioid epidemic is a complex problem with a myriad of potential solutions. However, it is uncertain what solution will boast the best results. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free now.
CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135