How Clean Eating Can Speed Your Addiction Recovery

Improving eating habits is an effective tool for those seeking sobriety

Research is showing that healthy eating -- "clean" eating in particular -- can help with addiction recovery and staying sober long term. While some recovery programs and schools of thought allow for (or even encourage) recovering persons to indulge in junk food to help them wean off a substance, doing so can actually exacerbate addiction.

Unhealthy eating patterns wreak havoc upon blood sugar, mood, energy levels and overall health. Blood sugar spikes and crashes can play into addictive patterns and fuel cravings or even relapse.

 

Getting Health and Nutrition Back On Track


Persons who have been grappling with addiction often have health issues from their substance of choice and improper eating. Some substances cause users to overeat, while others act as an appetite suppressant. Drugs and alcohol can impede natural nutrient assimilation and cause stomach and intestinal issues. Many alcoholics get a significant amount of their calories from alcohol intake, which is clearly not conducive to good health and nutrition.

"Eating clean" has been a prevalent buzzword in the fitness and nutrition community for awhile now. It's more permissive than raw food and vegan diets, but strictly emphasizes staying away from processed foods in favor of healthy, conscious lifestyle choices. Its main principles include:

Natural, Organic Foodsorganic food collage.jpg

With clean eating, processed foods are avoided; this includes most boxed, canned and packaged foods, which are loaded with salt and unhealthy fats. Fresh, natural, organic foods are favored instead.

Whole Grains (Instead of Unrefined)

Unrefined sugars and grains are avoided by clean eaters in favor of grains like brown rice, millet, quinoa, and other whole grains. Natural beans and legumes are on the list, as are clean sugars such as organic honey, maple syrup and cane juice.

Healthy Fats and Lean Protein

Lean protein is a cornerstone of clean eating, especially at breakfast. Protein is instrumental in building/maintaining the muscles and giving a satiated feeling that lasts. Protein served with a small amount of healthy carbohydrates and fats (omega-3's) is ideal.

Several Smaller Meals (vs. Big Meals)

The clean eating lifestyle recommends five to six smaller meals throughout the day instead of three big meals; two to three small meals plus healthy snacks is another possible configuration. Eating this way regulates the blood sugar, energy levels and reduces the chances of binge eating.

Some addicted persons have lost a healthy sense of what true hunger feels like, and they can misinterpret it as a substance craving. Eating more frequent smaller, healthy meals can help to reduce the risk of relapse. Main meals should consist of lean protein, healthy fat, a complex carbohydrate and fresh vegetables.

 

More About the Clean Eating Lifestyle


Physical activity is another component of the "clean" lifestyle, and exercise is highly beneficial to persons in recovery. Eco-friendly choices, buying local/seasonal and being socially responsible is also part of this way of life. Clean eaters advocate slowing down the pace and being more social at mealtimes, too; the "European way" of preparing fresh, farm-to-table foods with great care and savoring each bite is encouraged. All of these things encourage persons in recovery to be more mindful, "present" and self-aware as they embrace a sober lifestyle.

 

Health Benefits of Clean Eating


From tissue repair to immune system health to better mood and energy levels, clean eating assists in many aspects of recovery:

Tissue repair. All too often, addicted persons have done damage to vital internal organs and systems during the course of their substance abuse. The excellent nutritional value of a clean diet can help to repair, rebuild and restore body and organ tissue.

Immune system health. Eating clean also helps to restore the immune system to optimal functioning. The solid nutrition provided by a clean diet forms a foundation of health which supports immune system health going forward.

Better mood. Nutrition is also key to a consistent mood and positive outlook. Addiction can alter brain structure and chemistry, and eating clean can help to restore balance in the body's hormone levels and brain chemistry.

Enhanced energy. Mood, outlook and physical health all play into a person's energy levels, and when energy is solid and stabilized, the risk of relapse is significantly reduced. A clean diet supports optimal, consistent energy throughout the day.

As you can see, "eating clean" is much more than just a health trend; in fact, it can be indispensable in recovery from an addiction and staying sober long-term. Those in recovery should strongly consider the clean eating lifestyle both during recovery and going forward in life.

Alternative Therapies, Proven to Work

Holistic treatment has a proven track record in helping addicts find recovery

 

Recovering from drug or alcohol addiction is difficult, everyone knows that when they take their first step on the path to a healthy and productive life. But not everyone knows which path is best for them. Traditional woman lotus pose beach.jpgrehabilitation programs are effective, but they're not right for everyone. If you've been looking for the right way to begin your recovery, but don't think that traditional rehabilitation is right for you, have you considered following a holistic approach?

Today, traditional recovery centers are offering an abundance of treatment options. Centers like our own Malibu Beach Recovery Center specialize in alternative and holistic treatment options alongside more standard programs. These alternative treatments can offer a way to break free of addiction while participating in activities and eating food you can still enjoy. Not only do alternative treatments help you achieve a more positive mental state -- they can speed your physical recovery as well. Read on to learn about a few examples of alternative therapies now being used in treatment centers which have been proven to work:

Nutrition:


Substance abuse negatively impacts various aspects of your life, including your energy level and organ function. As a result, when you begin tapering off of addictive substances, you can find yourself experiencing unpleasant symptoms while your body recovers . Maintaining good nutrition throughout the process can make the withdrawal symptoms more bearable and in turn give you a greater chance of success in regards to breaking your addiction. A great example of this strategy in action is how diet and nutrition can help you cope with issues related to opiate addiction:

Nutrition and Opiates (morphine, heroin, oxycontin, codeine):


Opiates abuse can cause gastrointestinal issues, such as constipation. When you stop using opiates, some of the first withdrawal symptoms you will likely experience are vomiting, nausea and diarrhea. However, eating a balanced diet and especially one high in fiber which includes lots of beans, peas, vegetables and whole grains, will help make these symptoms less severe. In turn, less severe symptoms will make recovery significantly easier.

Eating a balanced diet will help both mind and body cope as you recover. If you are unsure what diet or nutritional decisions you need to make in order to achieve success in your recovery, you should seek the advice of a dietician who also understands the way substance abuse impacts the body.

Art Therapy:


We have all heard of therapy in the form of counseling; however, you may not realize that art can be utilized as a form of therapy as well! In fact, many treatment centers are now incorporating art therapy into their addiction treatment.

Through art therapy, you learn to use your imagination and creativity to make art, which allows you a healthy and productive way to express yourself. The kinds of art that are normally used include, but are not limited to, the following:

  •     Drawing
  •     Dancing
  •     Sculpting
  •     Poetry
  •     Music
  •     Acting
  •     Painting


Art therapy allows you the chance to communicate your feelings in a healthy, safe and productive manner. This is healthy, both emotionally and psychologically, and can help you as you begin the process of withdrawal. It is beneficial to continue with some form of creative outlet even once you are clean. After all, the simple act of creating art has many emotional benefits.

Yoga:


More and more people are beginning to see the benefits of yoga as part of addiction recovery, and for good reason. The practice of yoga incorporates deep breathing and also requires body awareness and control. Therefore, the practice of this particular form of exercise is helpful in reducing stress and generating respect for the body. As a result, addicts who utilize yoga during and after recovery, find it easier to deal with daily stress and other difficult aspects of their lives.

As you seek to recover from an addiction, beginning a yoga practice will help you detoxify your body, cope with stress and will bring steadiness to your mind, all of which will give you a greater chance of long-term success. If yoga is not something you want to try, you could plug in another form of exercise, martial arts for example, that will teach body respect and give you a stress outlet and derive a similar result.

The alternative therapies listed above are just a few of the many options now available for those fighting substance abuse and facing depression. If you need help to overcome an addiction or depression, consider finding a treatment center that utilizes similar alternative therapies. The road to recovery is not a smooth one, but by following a holistic treatment plan you can help free yourself of addiction.

Malibu Beach Recovery Diet: Get Your Java Facts Straight

Looking at the effect of coffee and other caffeine on addiction recovery


We are often asked why it is important in to remove the consumption of coffee and other caffeinated products from the Malibu Beach Recovery Diet.

Let us remind you of the main principles that this diet aims to achieve.  The diet, along with therapy and exercise, is there to empower our new patient to experience his body, state of mind and physical limitations with clarity and to embrace the changes that he is going through during the recovery process.  The diet, on its own, aims to allow the body to experience a complete transformation that will achieve three goals:coffee.jpg

  • A complete detoxification of the digestive, adrenal, circulatory and nervous systems;
  • An enhancement of the ability of each organ to heal itself and function at its utmost potential; and finally,
  • an ability to produce and enhance the production of dopamine and the best possible transmission through the dopamine neurotransmitters of the feeling of achievement, satisfaction and well-being.

If this is the only part of the diet lectures that you remember, this should guide you to be aware of the needs that your body expresses and be attentive to meet those needs. 

Travis Bradburry is the co-author of "Emotional Intelligence", a book that relates and compiles the necessary tools that are needed to be successful in the business world.  In an article specifically devoted to the consumption of caffeine, he observes that most people start drinking caffeine because it makes them feel more alert and improves their mood. Many studies suggest that caffeine actually improves cognitive task performance (memory, attention span, etc.) in the short term. Unfortunately, these studies fail to consider the participants’ caffeine habits.

Negative effects of caffeine


New research from Johns Hopkins Medical School shows that performance increases due to caffeine intake are the result of caffeine drinkers experiencing a short-term reversal of caffeine withdrawal. By controlling for caffeine use in study participants, John Hopkins researchers found that caffeine-related performance improvement is nonexistent without caffeine withdrawal.


In essence, coming off caffeine reduces your cognitive performance and has a negative impact on your mood. The only way to get back to normal is to drink caffeine, and when you do drink it, you feel like it’s taking you to new heights. In reality, the caffeine is just taking your performance back to normal for a short period.

Impact on adrenaline release


Drinking caffeine triggers the release of adrenaline. Adrenaline is the source of the “fight or flight” response, a survival mechanism that forces you to stand up and fight or run for the hills when faced with a threat. The fight-or-flight mechanism sidesteps rational thinking in favor of a faster response. This is great when a bear is chasing you, but not so great when you’re responding to a curt email.


When caffeine puts your brain and body into this hyper-aroused state, your emotions overrun your behavior. Irritability and anxiety are the most commonly seen emotional effects of caffeine, but caffeine enables all of your emotions to take charge.


The negative effects of a caffeine-generated adrenaline surge are not just behavioral. Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University found that large doses of caffeine raise blood pressure, stimulate the heart and produce rapid, shallow breathing, which deprives the brain of the oxygen needed to keep your thinking calm and rational.

Influence on your sleep patterns


When you sleep, your brain literally recharges, shuffling through the day’s memories and storing or discarding them (which causes dreams), so that you wake up alert and clear-headed. Your self-control, focus, memory and information-processing speed are all reduced when you don’t get enough -- or the right kind -- of sleep.
Your brain is very fickle when it comes to sleep. For you to wake up feeling rested, your brain needs to move through an elaborate series of cycles. You can help this process along and improve the quality of your sleep by reducing your caffeine intake.


Here’s why you’ll want to: caffeine has a six-hour half-life, which means it takes a full 24 hours to work its way out of your system. Have a cup of joe at 8 a.m., and you’ll still have 25 percent of the caffeine in your body at 8 p.m. Anything you drink after noon will still be at 50 percent strength at bedtime. Any caffeine in your bloodstream, with the negative effects increasing with the dose, makes it harder to fall asleep.
When you do finally fall asleep, the worst is yet to come. Caffeine disrupts the quality of your sleep by reducing rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, the deep sleep when your body recuperates and processes emotions. When caffeine disrupts your sleep, you wake up the next day with an emotional handicap. You’re naturally going to be inclined to grab a cup of coffee or an energy drink to try to make yourself feel better.
The caffeine produces surges of adrenaline, which further your emotional handicap. Caffeine and lack of sleep leave you feeling tired in the afternoon, so you drink more caffeine, which leaves even more of it in your bloodstream at bedtime. Caffeine very quickly creates a vicious cycle.

The symptoms of withdrawal and nutrition's role in recovery

Like any stimulant, caffeine is physiologically and psychologically addictive. If you do choose to lower your caffeine intake, you should do so slowly under the guidance of a qualified medical professional.

The researchers at Johns Hopkins found that caffeine withdrawal causes headache, fatigue, sleepiness and difficulty concentrating. Some people report feeling flu-like symptoms, depression and anxiety after reducing intake by as little as one cup a day. Slowly tapering your caffeine dosage each day can greatly reduce these withdrawal symptoms.

When we start clients on the Malibu Beach Recovery Diet we see an improvement immediately, and the benefits grow more apparent as time goes on. If you feel it's time for a change, start with what you put in your body, you may be pleasantly surprised with the results.

 

Get your Java facts straight

 

We are asked many times why it is important in to remove the consumption of coffee and other caffeinated products from the Malibu Beach Recovery Diet.

 

Let us remind you of the main principles that this diet aims to achieve.  The diet, along with therapy and exercise, is there to empower our new patient to experience his body, state of mind and physical limitations with clarity and to embrace the changes that he is going through during the recovery process.  The diet, on its own, aims to allow the body to experience a complete transformation that will achieve three goals:

 

·         A complete detoxification of the digestive, adrenal, circulatory and nervous systems;

·         An enhancement of the ability of each organ to heal itself and function at its utmost potential; and finally,

·         An ability to produce and enhance the production of dopamine and the best possible transmission through the dopamine neurotransmitters of the feeling of achievement, satisfaction and well-being.

 

If this is the only part of the diet lectures that you remember, this should guide you to be aware of the needs that your body expresses and be attentive to meet those needs. 

 

Travis Bradburry is the co-author of "Emotional Intelligence", a book that relates and compiles the necessary tools that are needed to be successful in the business world.  In an article specifically devoted to the consumption of caffeine, he observes that most people start drinking caffeine because it makes them feel more alert and improves their mood. Many studies suggest that caffeine actually improves cognitive task performance (memory, attention span, etc.) in the short term. Unfortunately, these studies fail to consider the participants’ caffeine habits.

 

Negative effects of caffeine

 

New research from Johns Hopkins Medical School shows that performance increases due to caffeine intake are the result of caffeine drinkers experiencing a short-term reversal of caffeine withdrawal. By controlling for caffeine use in study participants, John Hopkins researchers found that caffeine-related performance improvement is nonexistent without caffeine withdrawal.

In essence, coming off caffeine reduces your cognitive performance and has a negative impact on your mood. The only way to get back to normal is to drink caffeine, and when you do drink it, you feel like it’s taking you to new heights. In reality, the caffeine is just taking your performance back to normal for a short period.

 

Impact on Adrenaline release

 

Drinking caffeine triggers the release of adrenaline. Adrenaline is the source of the “fight or flight” response, a survival mechanism that forces you to stand up and fight or run for the hills when faced with a threat. The fight-or-flight mechanism sidesteps rational thinking in favor of a faster response. This is great when a bear is chasing you, but not so great when you’re responding to a curt email.

When caffeine puts your brain and body into this hyper-aroused state, your emotions overrun your behavior. Irritability and anxiety are the most commonly seen emotional effects of caffeine, but caffeine enables all of your emotions to take charge.

The negative effects of a caffeine-generated adrenaline surge are not just behavioral. Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University found that large doses of caffeine raise blood pressure, stimulate the heart and produce rapid, shallow breathing, which deprives the brain of the oxygen needed to keep your thinking calm and rational.

 

Influence on your sleep patterns

 

When you sleep, your brain literally recharges, shuffling through the day’s memories and storing or discarding them (which causes dreams), so that you wake up alert and clear-headed. Your self-control, focus, memory and information-processing speed are all reduced when you don’t get enough -- or the right kind -- of sleep.

Your brain is very fickle when it comes to sleep. For you to wake up feeling rested, your brain needs to move through an elaborate series of cycles. You can help this process along and improve the quality of your sleep by reducing your caffeine intake.

Here’s why you’ll want to: caffeine has a six-hour half-life, which means it takes a full 24 hours to work its way out of your system. Have a cup of joe at 8 a.m., and you’ll still have 25 percent of the caffeine in your body at 8 p.m. Anything you drink after noon will still be at 50 percent strength at bedtime. Any caffeine in your bloodstream, with the negative effects increasing with the dose, makes it harder to fall asleep.

When you do finally fall asleep, the worst is yet to come. Caffeine disrupts the quality of your sleep by reducing rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, the deep sleep when your body recuperates and processes emotions. When caffeine disrupts your sleep, you wake up the next day with an emotional handicap. You’re naturally going to be inclined to grab a cup of coffee or an energy drink to try to make yourself feel better.

The caffeine produces surges of adrenaline, which further your emotional handicap. Caffeine and lack of sleep leave you feeling tired in the afternoon, so you drink more caffeine, which leaves even more of it in your bloodstream at bedtime. Caffeine very quickly creates a vicious cycle.

 

The symptoms of Withdrawal

 

Like any stimulant, caffeine is physiologically and psychologically addictive. If you do choose to lower your caffeine intake, you should do so slowly under the guidance of a qualified medical professional.

The researchers at Johns Hopkins found that caffeine withdrawal causes headache, fatigue, sleepiness and difficulty concentrating. Some people report feeling flu-like symptoms, depression and anxiety after reducing intake by as little as one cup a day. Slowly tapering your caffeine dosage each day can greatly reduce these withdrawal symptoms.

 

 

 

Cost of Naloxone Increases, and Heroin Vaccine Shows Promise

Has profiteering hit this life-saving drug?

 

Surely you have heard that the cost of Naloxone is up, or, as Treatment Magazine put it: "Naloxone Profiteering Worries as Kit Orders Rise, Prices Soar". Some sources, such as Time.com, say the price has increased 50 percent or more.

Narcan, as Naloxone is also known, has been a frequent topic on this blog. I first posted on Naloxone kits insyringe.jpg February 2014 and I posted on the price hike for the first time last May. I also wrote this post on Naloxone kits last October.

Treatment magazine says that according to staff at needle-exchange programs, the price had been steady for years, but Time.com says it has fluctuated for several reasons, one of which is lack of competition—only two companies make the kits. Then, when orders from police departments ballooned, manufacturers started raising prices. The district attorney in my county in NJ was quoted as saying how disappointed he is. So just as people are decrying the exorbitant cost of many cancer drugs, has profiteering hit another area of high need? A number of people want to see consumers buy the kits to help friends and loved ones who are known heroin users.

Wouldn’t it be great if there was an effective way to combat heroin use? A vaccine in development holds out a ray of hope. Research done at The Scripps Research Institute has found that, in preclinical trials, a heroin vaccine blocks relapse. In other words, so far it’s only been tested in rats, but it has successfully prevented heroin from reaching their brain by breaking down its psychoactive elements in the bloodstream. It’s an interesting study, and one a layperson can follow! I particularly liked this part of the explanation:

“The structures of common drug molecules are too small and simple to stimulate the immune system sufficiently on their own, but vaccine designers have overcome this hurdle by affixing key fragments of drug molecules to larger, more immune-provoking carrier proteins. Vaccines against cocaine and nicotine that have been designed this way are now in clinical testing, and a methamphetamine vaccine is nearing readiness for such tests.

Designing an effective vaccine against heroin has been particularly challenging because the drug breaks down rapidly in the bloodstream after injection. ‘Heroin is metabolized very quickly to another compound called 6-acetylmorphine, which crosses into the brain and accounts for much of heroin’s effect,’ said Janda, who is TSRI’s Ely R. Callaway, Jr. Chair in Chemistry and whose laboratory initially developed the vaccine three years ago.”

Initial results were reported in 2011. (This is not the first attempt at a vaccine to combat drug abuse, they’ve been studied since the 1990s, and as the excerpt noted, several other vaccines are currently in development for other addictive drugs.) Janda also said that minor changes will have to be made before the vaccine can be given to humans, but he’s actively seeking a pharmaceutical firm to sponsor actual clinical trials using humans. Predictions are that should the vaccine prove as effective as hoped, it will become the standard therapy of choice, yet it may be used with other treatment as well.

 

Opium and Heroin Production Around the World, and Brazil's Cocaine Consumption

Dangerous trends across the globe

 

Just over six months ago, I read that opium production is on the rise and that it had skyrocketed in Afghanistan, the main producer to the rest of the world. Poppies produce opium that is then refined into poppy field.jpgheroin, and poppy fields occupy more land than ever before in several countries, the article said.

There have been programs to counteract cultivation in Afghanistan, but they haven’t been successful, and that will affect the legacy of the NATO military mission there. Opium production has made other countries, such as Russia and Iran, rally around the problem because it’s affecting drug use in their countries as well.

It gets worse. Unfortunately, the Taliban is using opium production in Afghanistan as a tool to gain support among farmers, supporting it as a source of income, while at the same time taxing it to get money for their vile activities. Also unfortunately, Afghanistan has seen a surge in heroin addicts. Estimates are that 2.7 percent of Afghan adults are addicted to opiates, which is one of the highest rates in the world. (You should read the description of residents just standing around ogling their compatriots just standing around, stoned to the gills. Extremely sad.)

Myanmar, too, is a big opium grower. The country is bordered by India on the west and China, Laos and Thailand on the east. About ten years ago Myanmar was making progress in eradicating opium production and labs within its borders, but they’re back in force. Opium-growing farmers interviewed for a January article in The New York Times said that they know what they’re doing is bad for society but (the poverty is so great and they have so few opportunities) that they have no other choice. Added to the fact that these people live in poverty are the warring factions and corruption in the country.

Opium use goes way back in Myanmar history. It’s been used to treat fevers and stomach ailments, as an ointment for snake bites, and to treat animals. A United Nations official has convinced a few farmers to grow coffee, but he hasn’t succeeded in having them give up opium growing. It’s not hard to understand why: coffee takes three years to cultivate, while poppies take four months.

According to Answers.com, the opium poppy (apparently not all poppies are a strong narcotic) is also used to make the painkillers morphine and codeine. The countries that grow the most opium poppies, besides Afghanistan, are Laos, Pakistan, Thailand, Mexico, Columbia, and India.

While cocaine production has declined in recent years around the world, Brazil has become a major cocaine consumer behind the U.S. Not only do residents use cocaine, but also substances that contain it, “like oxy, a cheap blend of cocaine paste, gasoline, and kerosene….”

For a timely list of nations’ drug use and other drug-related information, see the CIA site here. Here’s an example of the information provided:

Afghanistan

World's largest producer of opium; poppy cultivation increased 57 percent, from 115,000 hectares in 2011 to 180,000 hectares in 2012; despite the increase in area under cultivation, the effects of poor weather and crop disease resulted in lower yield so potential opium production remained stable at 4,300 mt in 2012 compared to 4,400 mt in 2011; the Taliban and other antigovernment groups participate in and profit from the opiate trade, which is a key source of revenue for the Taliban inside Afghanistan; widespread corruption and instability impede counterdrug efforts; most of the heroin consumed in Europe and Eurasia is derived from Afghan opium; Afghanistan is also struggling to respond to a burgeoning domestic opiate addiction problem; vulnerable to drug money laundering through informal financial networks; regional source of hashish (2013)

Albania

Increasingly active transshipment point for Southwest Asian opiates, hashish, and cannabis transiting the Balkan route and - to a lesser extent - cocaine from South America destined for Western Europe; limited opium and expanding cannabis production; ethnic Albanian narcotrafficking organizations active and expanding in Europe; vulnerable to money laundering associated with regional trafficking in narcotics, arms, contraband, and illegal aliens

Angola
  
Used as a transshipment point for cocaine destined for Western Europe and other African states, particularly South Africa

Anguilla

Transshipment point for South American narcotics destined for the US and Europe

Professionals Still Selling Pills Illegally, and Heroin Hits a New Generation

Prescription drugs still plentiful on the black market, contributing to a widespread heroin relapse


You might think that the arrests of doctors and other medical professionals who sell pain pills illegally has been a deterrent to others in the medical field. It hasn’t.

The first bad news I heard was in July of last year. It hit the TV News in New York because it was a doozie. The pile of pills.jpgformer head pharmacist at Mt. Sinai Beth Israel Hospital, which at the time was called Beth Israel Medical Center, was caught after stealing around 200,000 oxycodone pills worth $5.6 million on the street. He had started doing it in 2009 and continued even after hospital officials were alerted by an anonymous tip. The person even sent computerized records of oxycodone requisitions in the hospital.

The pharmacist was charged with being a major trafficker and will face up to 15 years to life in prison if found guilty. His lawyers tried to say he was addicted, but the prosecutors said with that many pills he’d be dead and that he had financial problems. What a case for having more accountability whenever oxycodone is involved.

In somewhat similar news, during the fall of 2014, CBS News reported that a CVS pharmacy technician in Louisiana stole hydrocodone and Alprazolam pills and sold them to street dealers. She made $20,000 for selling close to 7,000 pills and was charged with felony theft and distribution of Schedule II and IV controlled substances. Amazing that she didn’t realize she’d be found out in an audit. (At least this CVS location sounds a little better than the NY hospital.)

Also last year, a staff pharmacist at a food store in Maryland was caught after stealing 2,200 hydrocodone tablets after being able to enter fake codes into the pharmacy’s computer. A retired nurse nailed it when she implied there are bad apples in every profession.

As the year was drawing to a close, the authorities arrested a Dr. Mirilishvili and eight others in December in NYC for illegally distributing oxycodone, often to (other) drug dealers. You could go to his office and pay $200 for an appointment that usually provided 90 pills. His neighbors had tried to have him arrested for two years, the time it took the D.E.A to fully investigate, while at the same time the closest pharmacy said it had to stop filling prescriptions for all but its well-known, longtime customers.
 
The doctor’s staff went to such lengths as to create fake M.R.I reports indicating that “patients” needed pain management, and fake urinalysis reports to indicate that they were actually taking the drugs as opposed to selling them. The authorities figure that the doctor had sold over 1.2 million oxycodone tablets by the time they arrested him.

As I’ve posted previously, when something like this happens in your neighborhood, it hits home, pardon the pun. Wouldn’t you know, after reading about the doctor and pharmacist in NY, the LA pharmacy technician, the MD pharmacist, I picked up my local paper and found that a doctor a couple of towns over from me was arrested in connection with a prescription drug ring. This 51-year-old, in cahoots with another man, sold forged blank prescriptions. Five others were implicated, too.

Using patient information from his now-closed pain management clinic, the two were able to find people interested in buying the forged prescriptions for $300-$400 apiece. The doctor has substance abuse problems resulting in two DUIs, and he also hit someone with his car and left the scene. The Medical Board determined his substance abuse impaired his ability to practice.

Because so many people who abuse pain pills turn to heroin because it’s cheaper (and now easier to get since the government is tightening regulations relating to pills), these incidents are doubly disturbing, first because of the pill addiction, and second, because of what that can lead to.

In November, in an article called "The Great American Relapse", The Economist reminded us about how much heroin addiction has changed in the last few decades. Once predominantly the bane of males (the majority black and inner-city), today more than 50% of heroin addicts are women and 90% are white. Another change is that heroin use is rampant in the suburbs and popular among the middle class.

Heroin has made a comeback, the article says, and is wreaking havoc on yet another generation.

Facing Your Addiction and The Path to Recovery

Admitting you may have a problem is the first step toward finding sobriety

I started using drugs to manage recurring pain, but now I can't work unless I'm high. Do I have a problem?


Most drug addicts I talk to don't start using because they want to ruin their lives. Rather, they take that first hit to manage pain, because they want to fit in with peers, or maybe satisfy a curiosity. Unfortunately, drugs can quickly become a problem.MBRC logo.jpg

Maybe you've found yourself wondering whether you may also have a substance abuse problem. If so, now is a great time to learn more about addiction recovery. Here are a few tips that will help you face your addiction and take steps toward recovery, sobriety, and a better life.

Recognize Your Addiction


The Mayo Clinic compiled a list of common addiction signs. Read a few listed below to help you decide if you have a problem.

  1. You need to use drugs regularly and have intense urges for your drug of choice. Skipping a day because you don't have the money or can't access your supplier is not an option.
  2. You experience physical changes that might include weight loss, weight gain, bloodshot eyes or blotchy skin.
  3. Your emotions and mental state are affected. You struggle with moodiness, irritability and forgetfulness as well as depression and other challenges.
  4. Over time, your tolerance increases. While a small hit gave you an incredible high in the beginning, you need larger amounts now to achieve the same high, and you experience withdrawal symptoms if you stop using.
  5. You fund your habit by doing things like begging, borrowing, manipulating, lying or stealing.
  6. Drugs influence every aspect of your life, including your schedule, actions and activities. Your entire life revolves around when, where and how you'll get your next fix.
  7. You spend less and less time managing your work, family, social and recreational responsibilities. Instead of you being in charge of your life, drugs have taken over.
  8. You've tried and failed to stop using. Maybe you've even given up hope that you can ever quit.


If you recognize these signs in your life, consider getting help. Facing the reality that you may have a drug addiction is painful, but by facing this reality you can embark on a journey toward recovery.

Start on a Recovery Path


Recovering from an addiction starts with the realization that you have a problem. Then, you can proceed through several important steps.

First, check yourself into a medically supervised detox. Experienced and qualified medical personnel monitor your initial withdrawal and assist you in handling physical symptoms that can include shakes, vomiting, agitation, cramps, sweating, diarrhea and other discomforts. Because drugs affect your entire body, this part of your recovery journey is a difficult but necessary first step.

Second, undergo holistic therapy that addresses physical, mental, emotional and spiritual issues you may face, such as recurring pain, work and life balance or stress. You'll work with a trained therapist in finding the healing you need for your whole person. Healing should include practicing yoga, undergoing acupuncture, participating in equine therapy, taking up a hobby like gardening or woodworking, or working through issues with your entire family.

Third, learn new habits and make new friends. I know this step challenges many recovering addicts, but it's an important part of your journey. With a new daily routine and clean friends, you break addiction's hold over you. Your new job, home or social circle will empower your successful recovery.

Finally, follow through with your treatment plan. Ongoing therapy, beneficial hobbies and relaxing meditation are just three of many treatment plan options that help you succeed in living an addiction-free life. Your therapist will assist you in creating a treatment plan that works for you, and you'll continually experiment with new methods that promote recovery.

Are you ready to face your addiction and get the help you need? The process requires courage and hard work and is not something that happens overnight, but it is possible. You can do it! Embrace addiction recovery and get the help you need today.

 

Adderall: Prescription Study Buddy but at What Cost?

Many students start abusing Adderall to study, but soon encounter addiction

 

Adderall is a prescription medication used to treat people with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, (ADHD) and narcolepsy. When used correctly and as prescribed, Adderall can significantly improve the 540920389.jpgquality of life of people who suffer with these conditions. Unfortunately, the substance is often the subject of abuse, especially among teens and young adults as an academic performance enhancer.

Since Adderall is made up of a combination of stimulant amphetamines, it works by altering the brain’s chemical responses – specifically the ones responsible for focus and impulse control. The central nervous system begins increasing levels of dopamine, epinephrine and other neurotransmitters, allowing a student to eliminate distractions and work more efficiently when the course workload becomes heavy.

More Students than Ever are Abusing Adderall


Adderall abuse is highly prevalent among high school and college students. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration National Survey of Drug Use and Health, approximately 6.4 percent of full time college undergraduates, ages 18-22 abused Adderall in 2008. Nearly 90 percent of those students who abused Adderall also admitted to binge drinking within the previous 30 days; something that could severely complicate the effects of amphetamines like Adderall.

Students in especially competitive academic atmospheres are most likely to abuse Adderall, claiming they do so ‘for the right reasons.’ In fact, as many as 90 percent of students who abuse Adderall on college campuses do so to help them study. In 2005 and 2006, researchers at the University of Kentucky studied more than 1,800 college students, of which 34 percent admitted to having abused Adderall. The vast majority reported doing so to improve memory, focus and energy while coping with academic stress. Most of the survey respondents felt the drugs were easy to acquire and somehow more acceptable to abuse than other drugs that may carry a stigma.

Risking it All on Adderall


The dangers of Adderall abuse are significant and not worth the effects a student may perceive as beneficial while studying. Many schools have a zero tolerance drug policy; meaning students found in illegal possession of Adderall could be expelled. California State University for example, considers Adderall abuse to be academic dishonesty and will expel students found taking the drug without a prescription.

Furthermore, Adderall is also highly addictive and has properties that can lead to dependency. A person with an Adderall addiction or dependency will feel the need to take Adderall just to feel normal or may otherwise take increasingly larger dosages to achieve a desired effect. Overtime, Adderall abuse can lead to anxiety and depression, and in some cases, psychosis.

A person abusing Adderall may display certain signs and symptoms, such as restlessness or nervousness. Some will also experience dry mouth and headaches. Prolonged use of amphetamines can cause a loss of appetite and weight loss, as well as disrupted sleep habits. Students who are addicted to Adderall or who have taken large quantities of the substance may demonstrate aggression, slurred speech, shortness of breath and even seizures.

Substance Abuse Treatment Options


It is important that a person who may be addicted or dependent on amphetamines like Adderall seek help as soon as possible. The withdrawal symptoms that occur when a person goes through detox from prescription drugs can be severe and should not be experienced alone. Furthermore, detox is only the first step in the path to recovery, which should include a rehabilitative program.

At Malibu Beach Recovery Center, we offer a natural approach to detox and recovery designed to eliminate drug dependency and improve our clients' well being. Though a combination of individual therapy, group therapy and lifestyle modifications, we help people with a history of addiction begin the journey to sobriety.

If you or someone you know is addicted to study drugs like Adderall, help is available. Call us today for more information about the Malibu Beach Recovery Center and to find out how we can help you move past prescription drug abuse and into a life free of chemical addiction.

In Memorium: Jesse Dee Beecher: December 12, 1985-December 21, 2014

jesse photo 2.jpgAddiction is a heartbreaking chronic brain disease that for the lucky can be put into remission.  Not everyone is lucky.  I was reminded of this when, while vacationing in Thailand, Alumni Casey B. sent me news that Jesse Beecher had passed.

He wrote:  Joan this makes me so sad. He was such a good guy and had so much love in his heart.  It brings a lot of tears to my eyes.  I hope that all of my brothers and sisters from MBRC will make this a lesson that no matter what, we always need to stick by each other’s sides forever. It sure made me realize that.  I wish I could have talked to him.

Jesse was one of my favorites.  He was a nice kid from Northern California, one of eight siblings. I thought  - we all thought --  he had a good shot at long-term sobriety. He was a model client who embraced the diet and yoga and fully participated in every aspect of the Malibu Beach Recovery program. Unfortunately his insurance benefits - this was before the Affordable Care Act and parity for substance abuse -- were limited to 30 days of treatment.  

I remember that he wanted to be a doctor.  I spent hours trying to convince him to specialize in addiction medicine.  I also remember taking him and other clients to the farmer’s market on several weekends. He was into being healthy and knew a lot about organic fruits and vegetables.  I bought a lot of Italian (dinosaur) kale on those trips for the green power shakes he made each morning.Thumbnail image for jesse beecher admission.jpg

From a Staff Counselor:  Extremely bright - sweet, too good at being able to hide it and so smart, socially presentable, charming and charismatic. I remember talking with him about his struggle in surrendering and maintaining involvement in a program of recovery - such a tragic loss to this thing that is so deadly.  Some of the brightest people have great difficulty with surrender. 

From another Staff Counselor:  I remember facilitating a group he was in….we talked about how the tendency of an addict/alcoholic is to try and think your way out of it. I wrote on the board..”You won’t think your way into better behavior…instead..you'll act your way into better thinking”   We talked about how addiction is the only disease that tells you you're OK when you're not. Jesse was very intellectual and quick thinking…..and this is often a barrier to recovery.  I would tell group members…"Your best thinking got you here...It’s crucial for all of you to be open minded and teachable.”  Another beautiful person and bright light taken by this disease.

Three of those who were in treatment with him also sent tributes:

Casey B:  I will miss you brother. Rest easy.  I know you’re with The Lord now. I can't stop thinking about our time together at MBRC and the impact you had on my sobriety. Those times will never be forgotten. Love you man. I know I'll see you upstairs someday so until then you and your family will be in my prayers. Much love brother.

Kevin M.:  I had the brief but great honor to have met Jesse. Whenever he walked into a room, you knew it. Always said hello to everyone and was genuinely interested in them and always took a personal interest in everyone he met. So many good memories filled with laughs and great conversation. He was never really afraid to let people in. Something I learned from him and truly admire. That definitely had a huge impact on my sobriety. And for that, I owe him a huge thank you. I’ll never forget him.  Prayers of peace to his family, and everyone else to have the privilege of meeting Jesse B.

Lucy P.:  I'm having a hard time coming up with the words to express the impact Jesse had on those around him.  He was such a special person, and he was easy to love. He was kind, caring, passionate, clever, wise, and open.  I valued his opinion and oftentimes sought advice from him.  I looked up to him and respected him, and I enjoyed every moment I spent in his company.  He had so much to offer, and his loss is devastating.  I am sending prayers of love to his family and friends.

Rest in peace Jesse. 

 

Our heartfelt condolences to his parents Gary and Dolores Beecher, and his siblings Rick, Troy (Kristie), Tracy, Rich, Dominic, Cory, and Shane.   Click here to read the official obituary.  Jesse was one special guy.

Photos (above left):  Jesse's Facebook profile

(above right):  The photo Jesse sent before admitting so the staff would recognize him at the airport.

 

Colorado's Neighbors Find Marijuana a Problem, and so do Homeowners' Associations

Pot legalization not as smooth as many would have you believe

 

Well, it had to happen and it’s all over the news, USA Today, Washington Post, NPR, New York Times— one state bordering another state where pot has been legalized for recreational use had to react no to pot.jpgstrongly. In fact, two states did just that. Nebraska and Oklahoma, which border Colorado, filed suit towards the end of December, challenging that state’s legalization. It was only a matter of time before that happened, don’t you think? The two are going so far as to ask the Supreme Court to “strike down key parts” of a measure that not only legalized pot in CO but creates regulations surrounding selling it. Oklahoma and Nebraska are tired of CO pot going across state lines to them.

For one thing, people are  bringing pot across the CO border, and  arrests relating to that are taxing the Neb. and probably Okla. budgets. For another, the extra pot is forcing the two states to spend more time and allocate more funds for these marijuana-related arrests. They’re also mad that CO didn’t take measures to try and deter this.

There’s another interesting ramification of legalization of marijuana (for either medical or recreational use)—homeowners’ or condos’ associations are having to deal with issues! They can’t ban residents from using the drug at home, but they can regulate its use as a nuisance or as a threat to children if neighbors can see or smell marijuana.  The Associated Press article I read said that “Growing pot and hemp is prompting neighbor disputes, too,” and that’s in CO.

What’s weird is that not all judges seem to know that Home Owners Associations can regulate the use. I was watching one of the programs where a judge arbitrates cases, in which one condo owner was suing another because the pot smoke from next door was wafting into her unit. The judge ruled that people have a right to do what they want in their own homes. She obviously hadn’t read the latest legislation the homeowners can regulate pot use in some cases.

Pot crossing state lines, pot in condos….sounds like some of the things people wondered about or questioned at the start of the movement to legalize marijuana. You wonder about the effect on children of being around pot if they constantly see it and hear about it, especially teens. Could it be an incentive to try it?

An article in the Lancet (Volume 1, September 2014) was one of several appearing last year that reported on the effect of adolescent pot use. The results of the study detailed in the article are not good.

One of the researchers said, “We recorded clear and consistent associations and dose-response relations between the frequency of adolescent cannabis use and all adverse young adult outcomes.”

The study indicated that compared with young people who had never smoked pot, students who smoked excessively before age 17 had a lower chance of graduating from high school and increased the odds of becoming dependent on pot later.