A recent letter to the Acting Director of Health and Human Services in the Biden administration urged action for expanding the availability of Medication-Assisted Treatment through the Office of National Drug Control Policy. This comes on the heels of Biden suspending the former administration's OUD (opioid use disorder) guidelines.
Who Sent the Letter on OUD Treatment?
In response to a recent retraction of Trump guidelines, the letter announced on January 27, 2021, was written by the American Academy of Addiction Psychiatry (AAAP) and signed by representatives from seven representatives with over 150,000 members and 2200 treatment centers. The Biden administration recently decided to withdraw the previous administration's Practicing Guidelines for Administration of Buprenorphine for Treating Opioid Use Disorder to update them and provide better access.
Medication-Assisted Treatment: Science-Based OUD Tools
The letter from AAAP implored the Biden administration to expand access to science-based medication. Buprenorphine, methadone and naltrexone are all medications that have been proven to help people get and stay sober.
Medications that help people addicted to opioids are crucial in assisting them to avoid the compulsion to use. Buprenorphine and methadone help people prevent painful and challenging withdrawal symptoms.
For many treatment programs, the idea of medication carries a stigma. Because of this, it's vitally important that more doctors are educated about how MAT works and how it should be administered. Many medical professionals have felt uncomfortable prescribing it because of a lack of education.
Opioids are notoriously tricky to cease using due to the problematic withdrawal symptoms they cause when a person quits using.
Opioid Prescribing Education and Guidance
The letter for AAAP also says that the Biden administration needs to begin a focus on opioid addiction prevention. They say that this means requiring all prescribers of opioids to be taught about opioids dependence, addiction, and withdrawal.
Preventing opioid addiction is the best long-term strategy for ending the opioid epidemic. It's unclear what path the Biden administration will decide to take regarding new addiction recovery health policies.
Sober Living San Diego
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THIQ, also called Tetrahydrolsoqulnoline, is the chemical that scientists believe holds the key to alcohol addiction. Discovered by a scientist named Virginia Davis, it’s a chemical that has only been found in the brains of people chronic alcoholics. The chemical is very closely related to heroin, and it’s manufactured in the drinker’s body. Since this discovery, scientists have carefully tried to decipher a “cure” for people addicted to alcohol involving THIQ.
Why THIQ? What Does it Have to Do With Alcohol Addiction?
For as long as history can remember, people have been addicted to alcohol. (Even the oldest texts will mention men who have typically become derelict or homeless.) So, of course, it makes sense that humans have also pursued a solution to alcohol addiction as well. Science has long looked for an answer to alcohol addiction.
Science has also shown that Tetrahydroisoquinoline or (THIQ) shows up in the bodies of people who use heroin as well. THIQ is created in the brain as a by-product when heroin is broken down in the body. For chronic drinkers, THIQ is manufactured right there in the brain. However, in a healthy person who doesn’t drink to excess, there is no sign of THIQ at all.
THIQ as a Chemical
THIQ is highly addictive in clinical trials involving animals, even more so than morphine. Experts say that the biochemical similarity between the brains of alcohol and heroin-addicted people suggests that the chemical process between the two is strikingly similar.
Research into the brain’s chemical processes shows that people who drink socially don’t have brains that make these chemicals. This is true even if they drink to excess. Something about the chemicals in an alcohol-addicted brain seems to be creating the compulsion to drink. Rats have been tested to prove this theory; around 15% were found to have a similar reaction. Even when facing negative consequences (an electric shock when they drink to excess), the rats continue to drink excessively.
Future THIQ-Related Treatments
Currently, there are a few treatments involving chemical balances in the brain for alcohol addiction. GABA and working to correct the misfire in neurotransmitters look promising. There is currently a drug in the works that “suppresses the release of GABA and thus could restore levels of the neurotransmitter to normal in people with a dangerous taste for alcohol.” However, it is not yet available for sale.
Sober Life in San Diego
Do you or somebody you love need the help of a compassionate, structured sober living environment? We’re proud to help people early in sobriety have a place to spread their wings and call home. Learn more about our living spaces and what we offer by calling 760-216-2077.
San Diego has kept in line with a disturbing trend; overdoses and opioid use is up among younger people, and overdoses are a frequent cause of 911 calls. In fact, according to the San Diego Police Department, officers responded to 100 more overdoses in 2020 than the prior year. And although people are staying home more, addiction isn’t taking a break.
Rising Opioid Use and Related Crime
Arrests of people on opioid-related offenses related to overdose phone calls are up by nearly fifty percent. (Police sometimes arrest users who remain with a person who has overdosed if they possess drugs or if they or the overdose victim has outstanding warrants.)
Opioids are a popular street drug but also highly addictive. There has been a surge in addiction as the pandemic has drawn on. Users of opioids may have evolved from other addictions or gateway drugs. Some people become addicted to a prescription from a doctor, while others purposefully will misuse a drug to numb or entertain themselves. Some people who overdose have relapsed from a long-term stint in recovery.
Boredom, loneliness, and anxiety during the pandemic have caused an uptick in almost all addictive behaviors. People are using more drugs to self-medicate troubling feelings. Many people have felt despair and depression with economic loss. All of the above can be factors contributing to substance use disorders.
Fentanyl Killing Younger People
People in their 20’s and 30’s have been dying at a higher rate during the pandemic, however, experts note that these numbers were already rising in late 2019. Overdose victims from opioids in the past year usually have had fentanyl in their bloodstream, a drug that is fifty to one hundred times as strong as morphine.
While some people use fentanyl on purpose, many users are unknowingly exposed to it through illicit drugs. Some dealers will add it to cocaine or pass it off as Oxycontin. Because it is harder for drugs to flow across borders due to the COVID-19 pandemic, drug dealers have been fentanyl to add “punch” to the drugs they sell.
Preventing Relapse Saves Lives
People who relapse on opioids and other narcotics are statistically more likely to overdose. There are many reasons for this. For one thing, many people, especially during COVID-19, are using opioids all alone. If they overdose, nobody can call for help for them. People who have abstained for years will also use the amount of the drug they used to use, believing they will still tolerate it. Instead, they overdose because the drug is too strong.
Preventing relapse saves lives. A good aftercare program or sober living program can help you or your loved one stay sober in the long-term and learn to live life on life's terms without the use of substances.
Getting Help for Drug or Substance Use
If you or somebody you love has a problem with alcohol or drugs, help is available! While COVID has changed some procedures for starting the treatment process, recovery is still very much open to everyone!
Relapse prevention is another important component of staying sober. A structured, caring, sober living environment helps many people get sober and achieve long-term recovery.
At By The Sea Recovery, we offer the best sober living experience in California, creating a place of growing, learning, and respect for everyone who walks through the doors. We want to help you stay sober and offer camaraderie, structure, and tools for your journey. Get in touch by calling us at 760-216-2077. We’re happy to answer questions!
For many people with opioid use disorder, Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) such as Suboxone or Vivitrol is a lifeline to long-term sobriety. While MAT is not the best option for everyone, thousands of people across America have used it in one form or another to help put distance between themselves and their last use of illicit drugs.
Becoming Familiar With MAT
MAT is considered an important tool for people with opioid use disorder. The recovery community has not necessarily embraced it as the go-to tool for addiction recovery, mainly due to worries about its safety. Many people who got sober without the aid of MAT may have reservations about its use. However, the FDA has recently recommended the use of agonist or partial agonist medications (methadone, buprenorphine) to support abstinence. Through this endorsement, more treatment centers have decided to add MAT as a tool for people new to recovery.
Like all treatment tools, MAT is an option, but it’s not the only way people can get and stay sober. We’re fighting a deepening opioid crisis, and treatment providers, as well as their clients, deserve to have as many tools at their disposal as possible. MAT definitely can provide a life-saving function for people who suffer from opioid dependence and addiction.
It is the role of the treatment providers and medical professionals to learn the facts about how medications work and find ways to support long-term recovery for individuals using these medications. This education on MAT includes those who run sober homes and housing programs for people in recovery.
According to data from 2018 gathered by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), 128 people in the United States die from opioid overdoses every day. Medication-Assisted Treatment has helped thousands of people beat those odds by reducing cravings and assisting individuals to put more time between themselves and their drug of choice.
Guidance For Treatment Providers, Sober Housing, And Others
New guidance has been released by NIDA to help addiction treatment providers understand the ins and outs of prescribing and helping people use MAT as a part of their overall treatment plan.
While all treatment providers and sober housing professionals have their own programs that help them build a safe community, this information is vital to assisting professionals to make the right choice for their clients to begin their journey in recovery.
The guidelines brief attached can help sober living homes and other providers understand where MAT fits into an overall treatment plan. While MAT is still new to the sober housing community, it has been safely used in treatment facilities for a number of years. Understanding what role it can play will help housing communities draft their own policies based on science and information on treatment outcomes.
About the National Association of Recovery Residences (NARR):
NARR's mission, according to their website, is "to support persons in recovery from addiction by improving their access to quality recovery residences through standards, support services, placement, education, research, and advocacy."
About By the Sea Sober Living
Now, more than ever, it’s important to have people in your life who support your recovery. Sober living situations are a great way to rebuild your life and adjust to working on your new goals. Learn more about how our sober home can help you in your recovery. Call us at 760-216-2077 to learn about housing options.
What are you to get the most out of recovery right now? It may seem like a strange question given the era of COVID-19 and the many challenges everyone may face in the next few months. Indeed, it has been a difficult couple of weeks for many people across America. There are many challenges ahead for all of us. While it seems like a time of uncertainty, one thing for sure is that a lot of people have had to learn to adapt quickly to a new way of life. Changing is how we, as human beings, cope with difficulties and things we have no power over.
Accepting the Here and Now
You’re not alone in thinking that it’s a problematic era we have all been thrust into. There's a lot of bad news going on. It’s okay to be angry, frightened, or sad. No one is immune to feeling vulnerable. This is what being human, and feeling your feelings, is all about.
Staying sober is a journey. There is no destination, and nobody can say for sure what is around the corner. Life is the same way. You can only accept your feelings, acknowledge them, and continue to trudge on with the help of others.
Tools to Get You Through the Day
There are plenty of tools to help you strengthen your recovery and stay focused on today. In times like we’re going through today, it’s more important than ever to take life a day at a time.
Here are some ideas to help you stay centered at home:
- Read and study 12-step literature. If you’re not sure where to start, check the index of your Big Book or other readings for acceptance.
- Keep a “worry box” where you write down all of your worries at the beginning of the day. Then place those worries in the box for your higher power to worry about.
- Talk to people in your support network. Don’t focus only on yourself; friendship is a two-way street.
- Consider having small video 12-step meetings online. Software such as Zoom or Microsoft Meetings has worked for many people who want to host their own, more intimate gatherings.
- Practice being gentle with yourself and use self-care at least once a day. That means doing something you love or that soothes you, such as a long bath, a short walk, or just chilling and listening to music.
- Network with others in recovery online. There are Facebook groups, for example focused on 12-step recovery.
- Turn off the news. The news may seem like a necessity, but you don’t need to get phone notifications all day when they usually only highlight upsetting events. You can set aside a half-hour to read the news you choose without being bombarded every day.
- Watch uplifting or inspirational movies and documentaries through a streaming service. Don’t watch videos with graphic drug use or other triggering images. (When you look at the rating for the movie, it will tell you why. Drug use is often mentioned as a reason for an R or PG-13 film.)
- Practice meditation or breathing exercises. If you don’t know how to start with something like this, there are many free videos online.
Remember, this too shall pass. It can be challenging to sit still or walk through fear. Staying sober is still your most important priority. Learning to do so will help you grow and adapt in life. Don’t suffer in silence; call your sponsor or a friend when you’re feeling low.
Consider Sober Housing
Many people find that after treatment, they’re not ready to be out on their own. Sober housing is a great way to land on your feet and begin building a new future. Learn more about how it works and why it benefits you by contacting us at 760-216-2077.
Synthetic marijuana, also called “fake pot” K2, and Spice, are drugs that have become popular in the US. In the past few years, they have also increased in danger. Sold online, at shady gas stations and by drug dealers, the drugs are cheap, with some variations costing less than $5 a bag.
Synthetic drugs like K2 are always a danger to public health, especially in depressed areas. Law enforcement struggles when it comes to enforcing the laws. One drug is outlawed and another one emerges on the market with a few different ingredients.
There is no one formulation of the drug, and recent formulations in places like Washington DC have left people convulsing or left with bleeding organs, a side effect of being laced with Warfarin. The drugs themselves give an intense high that causes hallucinations, self-harm and racing heartbeats. Sometimes users pass out or mumble incoherently, unable to help paramedics who are trying to save their lives.
Is it Legal?
In most states and cities across the country, synthetic mairjuana is banned by law. The problem is that the manufacturers of the substances often change the formula to stay one step ahead of the law. So K2 and Spice may be illegal in your city, but newer versions with different names might be considered legal.
Who Uses Synthetic Weed?
Synthetic marijuana is used by people who might get drug tested but they still want to get high. Naturally, it’s favored by people on probation to avoid failing drug tests. Teens also experiment with it for this reason. Drug dealers also target the most vulnerable, such as the poor and homeless. The low prices are attractive and many users mistakenly believe they’ll react to it the same way the same way they do with marijuana in plant form. Synthetic marijuana, however, has dozens of chemicals in it. It’s known to be as much as two hundreds times as strong as the marijuana plant.
Synthetic weed has begun to cause problems in areas of cities that are low income or close to homeless shelters. Prisons now catch inmates with the drug or learn about its use because a bad batch causes overdoses in prison.
Talk to Family About Fake Pot
If you have teens or loved ones you suspect abuse substances, talk to them about the dangers of K2 and Spice. The “high” isn’t worth the danger to life.
Synthetic Marijuana is Addictive
People who use synthetic marijuana regularly sometimes can’t stop using on their own. Just like other synthetic drugs, K2, Spice and other formulations can be highly addictive. The good news is that there’s help available if you want it.
Learn more about sober living options by calling us at 760-216-2077.