In his landmark report issued late last year, Dr. Vivek Murthy, the United States Surgeon General, made it clear that addiction should be treated like any other clinical, chronic condition. In his 400-page report, Facing Addiction in America, Murthy urged the American public to view the disease of addiction with more compassionate optics. “Addiction is a chronic disease of the brain and it’s one that we have to treat the way we would any other chronic illness: with skill, with compassion and with urgency.”
Taking that same clinical approach, researchers at the Penn State College of Medicine are working to develop a new test that may possibly help doctors predict individuals who are most at risk of relapse.
For the past few years, Scott Bunce has been studying the brain activity of those in recovery from an addiction to heroin and prescription painkillers. To conduct the study, Bunce and his team showed images of drugs and drug paraphernalia to the study participants.
His team then asked the research to participants to state if the images induced cravings for the drug or triggered positive feelings or emotions as a result.
Bunce and his team found that those who reported feeling no temptation as a result of seeing the images yet also exhibited increased brain activity as a result were more likely to experience a relapse.
While additional research still needs to be conducted, the scientists hypothesize that this provides further support that addiction is truly a disease of the brain. Individuals may not intentionally express a desire to use and abuse drugs though their brain chemistry may be prompting them to do just that.
“It’s very important that people understand this is a brain disease,” said Sue Grigson, a professor at Penn State College of Medicine who is involved in the research.
One positive takeaway is that while the brain is indeed altered by the exposure to drugs, it can still recover and heal over time and with the right addiction treatment therapies.
Holistic Drug Rehab in South Florida
At Synergy Group Services, our team of addiction recovery team specializes in helping individuals with a chemical dependency on prescription opioids and heroin. We firmly believe in the power of holistic medicine and leverage a variety of healing therapies including acupuncture, biofeedback and individual counseling. If you are working through a challenging period of your life and want to finally address your addiction to drugs or alcohol, please let us help you. We are standing by at (888) 267-8070 and your call is confidential.
We all know that mixing drugs and alcohol together and certain combinations of prescription drugs can be deadly. Now more new studies and cases reveal that unsuspected combinations can turn serious and even deadly.
Tragic stories of accidental deaths caused by combinations of prescription drugs plague the media – from Heath Ledger to Anna Nicole Smith. And the risks associated with combining alcohol and prescription drugs are also well known and resulted in the tragic deaths of Jimi Hendrix and Amy Winehouse. Researchers are now finding more things that when combined with prescpriton medications can turn deadly.
A story last week broke about a man, Denis Duthie who went blind from mixing alcohol and his diabetes medication. After he drank Red Square Russian Vodka at his parent’s anniversary party everything turned black and he fell completely blind. Doctors thought he had gotten formaldehyde poisoning but it turned out his condition was from the combination of vodka and his diabetes medication.
In other incidents, people have ended up in the emergency room from combining grapefruit juice with their medications. Recently, researchers found that the highly addictive painkillers oxycodone, hydrocodone and the like also cause harmful reactions with grapefruit juice. In fact, there are at least 85 drugs (including oxycodone, Zocor, Lipitor and Nifediac) that can cause reactions with grapefruit juice. According to the Canadian Medical Association Journal, “Many of the drugs that interact with grapefruit are highly prescribed and are essential for the treatment of important or common medical conditions” and few patients know they are contraindicated with grapefruit juice.
The interactions are dangerous because the citrus in grapefruits contain furanocoumarins, which change the way the drugs are absorbed into the gastrointestinal track. The poor absorption flushes more of the drug into the bloodstream, which can result in accidental overdose, kidney damage, respiratory failure, GI tract bleeding, bone marrow suppression and even death. All of these reactions can occur even if the juice was ingested hours before the medication and vice versa. “Taking one tablet with a glass of grapefruit juice is like taking 20 tablets with a glass of water,” asserts David Bailey one of the researchers on the study.
It is always recommended that people check the interactions labels on their medications to protect themselves. However, once someone has crossed the line into addiction, few known interactions have the power to deter their substance abuse or deadly combinations of medications. If you or a loved one is at risk of accidental overdose or concerned about your use of alcohol and prescription medications, Synergy Group Services had effective drug and alcohol treatment programs that can help.
Addiction is often referred to as a “family disease” because, like cancer, it spreads to others and can permeate the entire family. Parents, spouses and children all develop coping mechanisms to help, “fix” or protect the addict and to cope emotionally. These coping mechanisms are often unhealthy and can take on various forms including, but not limited to: lack of trust that prompts spying on or invading the privacy of the addict, denying that the addict has a problem by hiding the addiction from others or even oneself, feelings of shame and guilt, believing the addiction is their fault, putting the addict’s needs over their own, obsessing over the addict by incessant worry and concern.
When an addict seeks addiction treatment, it is also important for the family members impacted by the disease to seek help. Individual family members need to work on their own coping mechanisms, often discarding them and replacing them with new, healthier mechanisms. Common coping mechanisms that family members work on are enabling and rescuing.
Enabling is when a family member directly or indirectly supports the addict while they are in active addiction. This can take on the form of giving the addict money, advice, transportation and consolation. The enabler believes that helping the addict, through providing food or shelter for example, will keep the addict safe, alive and off the streets. The monetary and social support is a sign of acceptance to the addict and they continue using because they can. Many addicts actually need to “hit bottom,” such as losing family support, to be in a place of desperation and willingness to do anything to get better, including admission into addiction treatment.
Rescuing is a form of enabling but it also plays into the identity of the family member. The rescuer gains a strong sense of identity as the one who helps the addict. The rescuer can lose their own identity as they put the addict’s needs over their own. The social and personal activities that were previously important to the rescuer often become secondary because they are solely focused on the addict’s problems. When a family member has become very embedded in this role, addiction treatment for the addict may even threaten their identity. They realize that if the addict gets better, they may not need them or their help anymore.
Both rescuing and enabling are related to control – as the family member believes that they have the power to help the addict or change them in some way. Treatment plays an important role in helping the enabler and rescuer regain their identities and put themselves and their needs first again. They begin to realize that they cannot control the behaviors or actions of others, which becomes a very freeing experience.
Working on these three behaviors in the family system can start to significantly alleviate the damage caused by the disease of addiction. The Family Program at Synergy Group Services works on these and other behaviors that can be the first step toward overcoming the family disease of addiction. Synergy’s family program is imbued with extensive professional experience, training and personal experience in all areas of how the family is affected by the disease of addiction. The Family Program offers weekly individual therapy appointments, educational seminars on the disease of addiction and family group therapy sessions where members can overcome past issues and design strategies and action plans with each other. Through these offerings, families are able to identify old problems and practice new skills, allowing all participants to gain sound coping mechanisms to deal with the family disease of addiction.