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Addiction Is On The Surgeon General’s Mind

addictionIn the last year, we have all watched the government take a new shape, for better or worse. The new guard has appointed individuals into positions relevant to the field of addiction medicine and treatment. You might be aware that as of September we have a new Surgeon General, Dr. Jerome Adams.

Those of you who weren’t aware of former Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy’s replacement, we will take a moment to share with you his credentials. The 20th Surgeon General of the United States is an anesthesiologist and a vice admiral in the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, according to STAT News. He attended medical school at Indiana University School of Medicine and earned a Masters in Public Health from the University of California, Berkeley.

Dr. Adams has the kind of resume that you’d expect from someone serving in the position of Surgeon General. However, it turns out that he also has some personal experiences that can help him address the American opioid addiction epidemic. Adams has a younger brother named Phillip, whose substance use and abuse have severely impacted the entire family. Dr. Adam’s brother is currently serving time in prison just down the road from his office; it’s fair to say that he thinks of the plight of addiction quite often.

Family Addiction Might Change the Discussion

The Surgeon General does not make policy, but they do have a platform and voice that calls for deference. He believes that getting law enforcement and addiction medicine experts to work together on this crisis is critical, the article reports. With that in mind, he shared his thoughts at a recent National Academy of Medicine panel discussion about the opioid epidemic. When a judge opined that it was strange for him to share a stage health experts, Dr. Adams shared:

“The No. 1 touch point for people with addiction is not a physician … it isn’t a medical touch point. It is the law enforcement community,” he said. “This room should be half full from the law enforcement community if we really want to tackle this issue.”

The new Surgeon General seems to think a balance can be struck between law enforcement and public health services to find a solution to the American addiction crisis. He realizes that the criminal justice system has not helped his brother Philip break the cycle of addiction, but believes that at times people must be held accountable for their actions.

“We can’t ignore the fact that there are crimes being committed,” said Dr. Adams. “I’m not saying my brother or anyone else should be absolved of all the crimes and the real harm they’ve done to people. I’m saying the way that you prevent that from continuing to occur is by making sure those folks have access to treatment, so that when they do get out, they don’t go down the same pathway.”

Committing petty crimes is resorted to when addicts can’t support their disease any other way. Once in the system, perpetual cycles of recidivism are commonplace; giving more people access to addiction treatment services would make recidivism be less a reality.

Addiction Treatment

If you are one of the millions of Americans actively caught in the grips of addiction, please contact Synergy Group Services. We can help you break the cycle of self-defeating behavior and lead a productive life in recovery.

Navigating the Holidays with an Eating Disorder

eating disorder

If you’re recovering from a dual diagnosis of addiction and an eating disorder, the holidays can feel extra challenging to manage. Alcohol and calorie-laden, sugary foods are seemingly everywhere – and can make even the most confident person anxious about triggering destructive habits like overeating, purging or restricting calories. Luckily, a little self-talk, self-care and support can help you enjoy the season without sabotaging your recovery. Start by following these tips adapted from the National Eating Disorder Association.

  • Line up an on-call friend or family member. This way, you can have a go-to person to call or text if you’re feeling particularly anxious or just need some extra support.
  • Make time for self-care. Now is not the time to slack on sleep, exercise and stress management.
  • Hone in on the holiday spirit. Food is only part of the holidays. This is also the time of year to be grateful for family, friends and how far you’ve come in your recovery.
  • Have an escape plan. Your number one priority is doing what’s best for you and your recovery, so plan in advanced a way to leave early if an event is making you uncomfortable.
  • Learn to say no. It’s okay to turn down an invitation, so you don’t overcommit and stress out this season. Consider using the time to focus on self-reflection or relaxation instead.
  • Cut yourself some slack. Give yourself the gift of self-love this holiday and allow yourself to enjoy yourself without self-imposed criticism and rigidity.

Seeking Support at Synergy
Synergy Group has become widely renown for achieving great outcomes in the treatment of individuals who are struggling with an eating disorder in addition to a chemical dependency. Our very intimate setting accommodates a maximum of five clients at a time and the high staff to client ratio allows us to closely monitor how each client is responding to the various therapeutic processes and adjust their regimen accordingly. To learn more about our dual diagnosis program, call today: 888-267-8070.

Opioids Take More Lives Than War

opioidsThe United States military is the most powerful in the world, thanks mainly to a definite edge over our adversaries. As a result, the Government can send our troops into traditional conflict with relatively minimal casualties. Unfortunately, it’s the injuries nobody sees that do the most damage, the wounds inflicted on the mind. If a soldier’s invisible injuries are not addressed, many of them will turn to opioids to deal with the pain.

In respect to Veteran’s day, which took place last weekend, it’s vital to discuss the well being of our Veterans. Thousands of young American men and women have come back from the conflict in the Mideast, only to fight an even more significant battle at home. One of the notable differences, of course, is the war that some Veterans fight now is waged on the battlefield of the mind.

America doesn’t have the most exceptional track record when it comes to treating mental illness, like depression and addiction. The military is not much different, with many American heroes left to their own devices in coping with mental health disorders, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). People who struggle with the condition resort to mind-altering substances to deal, an action which worsens one’s symptoms. In a number of cases, such people are also contending with chronic pain from physical injuries sustained overseas. Physical pain, mental distress, and opioids make for a lethal cocktail.

Opioids Don’t Spare Veterans

Treating your average American’s chronic pain with opioids puts them at high risk of addiction and overdose. Veterans are no different; however, when other forms of mental illness are in the picture the risks are even higher. In fact, opioids have led to more Veteran deaths than all the casualties in Iraq, Afghanistan and Vietnam wars combined, Reuters reports. Vets are at double the risk of dying from prescription opioid overdose than non-veterans. The suicide rate among Veterans is also 21 percent higher than with people who didn’t serve in the military. It’s no secret that opioids are often used to commit suicide.

“The Veterans Administration needs to understand whether overmedication of drugs, such as opioid pain-killers, is a contributing factor in suicide-related deaths,” said Sen. John McCain.

To encourage doctors to prescribe opioids to Vets less often, McCain introduced the Veterans Overmedication Prevention Act, according to the article. Unfortunately, the bill has stalled in Congress. The need for such measures is urgent. Since March 2017, Veterans Affairs has treated 68,000 vets for opioid use disorder.

“Our veterans deserve better than polished sound bites and empty promises,” said recovering addict and former Democratic Congressman, Patrick Kennedy.

Opioid Addiction Treatment

Opioids of any kind carry the risk of addiction and premature death; treatment is a must if recovery is to occur. At Synergy Group Services, we specialize in the treatment of opioid use disorder. We are also equipped to treat the condition when a co-occurring mental illness is involved. Please contact us today.

Tis The Season for Gratitude

gratefulStudies have linked a host of health benefits to gratitude, including better sleep, less stress, more self-esteem and increased energy. And, perhaps most importantly, being grateful can help remind you of how far you’ve come in your recovery and how truly blessed you are to have a shot at a new, sober life.

One of the best ways to practice being grateful – it doesn’t always come naturally, unfortunately – is to write in a gratitude journal, say researchers. This exercise helps you record and focus on your blessings so you can better understand them.

Here are a few helpful tips to keep in mind when starting a gratitude journal.

  • Make it a habit. You dont have to write every day, but try to do it at least once or twice a week. Pick a set day or time so it becomes part of your weekly routine.
  • Dont sweat spelling or grammar. The goal is to write freely and, besides, no one but you needs to see the journal.
  • Go for depth rather than breadth. Try to avoid just listing nice thoughts or acts. Instead, really think and write about your blessings and what they mean to you and your recovery.
  • Don’t just make it about you. Having gratitude also means reflecting on others and how theyve gone above and beyond to help you in your recovery and life.

We Are Grateful for You
At Synergy Group Services, we would like to wish everyone working a program of recovery a safe and sober Thanksgiving. To learn more about our addiction programs, call us today: 888-267-8070.

Cannabis Use Linked to Anxiety

cannabis useAddiction is a mental health condition that often occurs with another disorder, such as depression or anxiety. When two conditions coincide, a patient is said to have a co-occurring disorder. It’s crucial that the addiction and co-occurring disorder (otherwise known as a dual diagnosis) receive treatment at the same time; concurrent therapy improves a patient’s ability to achieve long-term recovery.

Although treatable, there is much still unknown about mental health conditions; why they occur in specific people at certain times in their life. Substance use disorder is a disease that develops over time, whereas anxiety or depression can seem like it sprung out of nowhere. There are times when one’s addiction predates their co-occurring disorder and other instances when the reverse is the case.

Untreated anxiety can lead individuals down a path of desperate measures to find relief. Common symptoms of anxiety include excessive worry, fear, feeling of impending doom, insomnia, nausea, palpitations, poor concentration, or trembling. A desire to calm such symptoms is only natural, and mind-altering substances sometimes help accomplish that task, at first. Interestingly, people who meet the criteria for anxiety disorder often use marijuana. The link persists despite the fact that cannabis use has been known to cause paranoia. Nevertheless, a large contingent of people with anxiety disorders uses cannabis regularly.

Problematic Marijuana Use and Childhood Anxiety

A team of researchers from Duke Health studied the link between childhood anxiety and problematic cannabis use, according to a press release. Using data from 1,229 participants in the Great Smoky Mountains Study, the research team tracked participants’ patterns of cannabis use from the college years (ages 19-21) into adulthood (ages 26-30). The findings appear in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.

Of the participants, 7 percent were persistent users, limited users (13 percent), and delayed users (4 percent). Persistent users could have started using “pot” at the age of 9, using the drug significantly into their early 30’s, the article reports. The researchers found that 27 percent of persistent users had anxiety disorders when they were children.

“This suggests that a focus on mental health and well-being could go a long way to prevent the most problematic use,” said lead author Sherika Hill, Ph.D., an adjunct faculty associate at the Duke University School of Medicine.

Aiming Prevention Efforts

Substance use prevention efforts have long focused on adolescents, but the research indicates that adults deserve attention, too. It’s unclear why somebody with an anxiety disorder would begin using marijuana problematically for the first time in adulthood, but a small group of people does. As cannabis laws ease, adults without any history of marijuana use may turn to the drug. Substance use is not a treatment for mental illness; marijuana can be habit-forming and lead to addiction—often requiring help. Hill said:

“A lot of current interventions and policies in the U.S. are aimed at early adolescent users. We have to start thinking about how we are going to address problematic use that may arise in a growing population of older users.”

If you suffer from anxiety and are using marijuana problematically, please contact Synergy Group Services.

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