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(This content is being used for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted in the content is a model)

A lot of people may not realize that Medicaid covers approximately one in every four American citizens. So, with drug abuse and addiction being such a hot topic, how much of this helps with addiction treatment?

What is Medicaid?

In an effort to keep it simple and still be informative, let us look at the basics of Medicaid.

Medicaid is a government-sponsored program used to offer millions of Americans a chance at health care coverage. There are a lot of ways to qualify. Requirements for eligibility include:

  • Your income
  • Age
  • Number of people in the household
  • If you have a disability

When it comes to Medicaid help with addiction treatment, it all depends on what your state offers. Because some states accepted Medicaid expansion while others did not, you will have to see if you are eligible for coverage. Your income is a common key element to qualifying.

For most states, people receiving Medicaid help with addiction treatment don’t have to worry about co-payments. Even for those states that do require co-payments, there is an out-of-pocket maximum amount. For addiction treatment, Medicaid typically covers all or part of:

Nonetheless, it is important to note that not all addiction treatment facilities accept Medicaid.

Medicaid Politics

Over the last few years, one crucial conversation across the country has been expanding access to addiction treatment services. While the opioid crisis has devastated communities all over the US, public health officials, recovery advocates, and even law enforcement agencies have called for better opportunities for comprehensive care. One of the big issues when discussing government support for addiction treatment is how Medicaid assists those who need help.

Prior to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), coverage for substance abuse services was traditionally an optional benefit under Medicaid. As a result, most states only provided very limited coverage.  In 2014, many states expanded Medicaid coverage. This extended benefits for mental health and substance abuse services. However, recently there has been talk of taking huge cuts to this system.

One of the debates over Medicaid now is the budget proposal from President Trump, which is set to roll back Medicaid expansions. Some argue that this money will be go to block grants, but many are uncertain how this will affect them and their chances of getting health care.

The Medicaid system has also been exploited to help contribute to the opioid crisis in America. On June 28th, The US Department of Justice announced it would be charging more than 600 people with profit-making schemes involving charging Medicare and Medicaid for unnecessary medications, including opioid painkillers. 165 of those 600 are doctors, nurses and other medical professionals. Attorney General Jeff Sessions states,

“In many cases, doctors, nurses and pharmacists take advantage of people suffering from drug addiction in order to line their pockets.”

Some of those involved were even patients, who are suspected to have been a part of illegal kickback schemes for powerful prescription drugs. Needless to say, the current system is far from flawless. However, any moves to improve it should continue to include resources for effective addiction treatment.

How States Use Medicaid Help With Addiction Treatment

Some might be surprised to find out how many people actually rely on Medicaid help with addiction treatment. In the state of Ohio, one auditor’s report shows the number of Ohio Medicaid recipients with an opioid-related diagnosis quadrupling from 2010 to 2016. The increase shown is around 430% in that timeframe.

Ohio Auditor Dave Yost’s report shows the state’s cost for treating opioid addiction through medication-assisted treatment  also increased:

  • 2010- more than $13 million
  • 2016- over $110 million

Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) has become more popular recently as a means to helping treat addiction.  For example, in Ohio:

  • 2010- 6,500 people using Medicaid for MAT
  • 2016- 48,000 people using Medicaid for MAT

However, when you look from state to state, there is a big difference in what some spend supporting MAT programs through Medicaid. According to data from 2016, collected by IMS Institute of Healthcare Informatics, the top five states for Medicaid help with addiction treatment using buprenorphine and buprenorphine/naloxone prescriptions include:

  1. Vermont- 68.10%
  2. Rhode Island- 49.60%
  3. Ohio- 49.50%
  4. Massachusetts- 49.30%
  5. District of Columbia- 45.10%

Meanwhile, the bottom five states include:

  1. Mississippi- 4%
  2. Utah- 4.40%
  3. Florida- 5.30%
  4. Alabama- 5.50%
  5. Texas- 5.70%

Sadly, Texas, Florida and Mississippi are among the states with the lowest percentage of people with health insurance coverage. Surprisingly, two of the top five states with the highest overdose death rates in the nation don’t spend much on Medicaid help with addiction treatment:

  • Pennsylvania- 29.20%
  • New Hampshire- 17.80%

Furthermore, some people argue that any cutbacks to Medicaid will undermine state efforts to combat the opioid crisis. Meanwhile, others think the abuse of Medicaid is reason enough to curtail it.

Why Medicaid Matters

Thanks to the past issues with people abusing the Medicaid system, some people still don’t appreciate the value it has for those who desperately need it. If we hope to fight our way out of the opioid epidemic and recover as a country, we have to be willing to help the most vulnerable people. Medicaid is one option for those who have run out of options.

So when it comes to substance abuse and mental health treatment, you will want to research the benefits available in your state to see what kind of opportunities are available. As times change, Medicaid coverage evolves along with it. At the moment, there is still a fair amount of uncertainty with how substance abuse and mental health treatment will change with the new policies being discussed, but for now, there are still options for low-income individuals who are still looking for Medicaid help with addiction treatment.

 People struggling with substance abuse and mental health disorders deserve comprehensive and compassionate treatment, and we should all fight to protect coverage that makes treatment more available. If you or someone you love is struggling, please call toll-free 1-800-777-9588 now.

The post How Does Medicaid Help with Addiction Treatment Programs? appeared first on Orchid Recovery Center.

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(This content is being used for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted in the content is a model)

On June 29th, 2018, the Police Assisted Addiction and Recovery Initiative (PAARI) organization celebrated its third year anniversary. That week, representatives from some of the more than 400 PAARI law enforcement partners joined public health officials and government leaders to honor the work the PAARI programs have done all over the nation to change the way we talk about addiction.

Ever since the groundbreaking ANGEL Initiative in Gloucester, Massachusetts was founded in 2015, the PAARI organization has worked all over the country by treating addiction as a disease that deserves compassion instead of a moral failing that deserves punishment. In that year, the Gloucester police department alone helped more than 400 people get into treatment. Ever since there is no telling how many addicts have been helped through these programs.

The initiative believes in the collective vision where pre-arrest, treatment-first programs become standard policing practice all over America. Over time, more and more programs are being added, and looking at the number of law enforcement partners working with the PAARI program it is truly amazing to see how many police departments are committed to changing the way addiction is addressed by police officers. The following are just a few examples of cops helping addicts in different neighborhoods.

Some Powerful PAARI Programs 

Let’s look at some of the programs that have adopted this new approach to supporting their suffering neighbors instead of trying to punish their way out of the problem. There are several great examples of cops helping addicts all over the country.

ANGEL Program in Dover, Delaware

Dover Police Department modeled their program after Gloucester’s ANGEL program. They encourage residents seeking to overcome addiction to simply walk into the police station and ask for help. They offer a place to turn in drugs and paraphernalia without fear of criminal charges and assign a trained volunteer to help them. Regardless of financial means, anyone seeking help can get help finding a treatment program.

Chatham Cares 4 U in New York

The police department in Chathman, New York teamed up with PAARI a couple years ago to launch the Chatham Cares 4 U Outreach Initiative Program. Here, cops helping addicts are also offering assistance with finding appropriate addiction treatment options. They also offer a safe and risk-free location to turn over drugs and paraphernalia.

The quick success of Chatham Cares 4 U inspired many other police departments in New York to develop their own addiction recovery initiatives in their communities. Chathman Police Chief Volkmann also travels around New York to speak to police departments and other organizations about the program, hoping to inspire other cops helping addicts to get the care they need.

Safe Passage in Dixon, Illinois

The Safe Passage program was also started years ago by the Police Department of Dixon, Illinois. Since then it has extended to a few other counties. The program in Dixon has helped place over 170 people into treatment. Last year Police Chief Danny Langloss reported more than half of those who got access to treatment through the program have had success after rehab.

Chief Langloss claims that in 2016, misdemeanor and felony drug arrests dropped by 39%, giving much of the credit to their program of cops helping addicts.

Blue Guardian in Lehigh County, Pennsylvania

The Blue Guardian program was launched in February of 2018 to address the issue of skyrocketing overdose deaths in one area of Pennsylvania. This program aims to reduce overdose deaths by bringing police officers and recovery specialists to those who need addiction treatment in the area.

Two or three days after an individual experiences an overdose, police officers will make a house call, accompanied by addiction specialists, hoping to convince the individual to enter a treatment program. Blue Guardian also offers family support for an addict’s loved ones. Some officials close to the program believe it could be an outline for future programs across the state.

A Way Out in Lake County, Illinois

Seven police departments in Lake County came together for cops helping addicts into treatment through a program they are calling A Way Out.  This innovative approach accepts participants no matter where they live. According to Mundelein Police Chief Eric Guenther, some families have brought their loved ones from different states to get access to treatment. Sometimes individuals with criminal charges are fortunate enough to have their warrants waived to enter the program.

Potential partnerships can walk into any participating agency 24 hours a day, seven days a week, including holidays. Once some arrive, a police representative meets with them and/or loved ones help guide them through the process of seeking treatment. A Way Out also allows people to turn in drugs and paraphernalia.

Kindness Initiative in Anaheim, California

Cops helping addicts in California, the Anaheim Police Department also offer free treatment to those who ask for help. Part of this PAARI program is the offer to receive the Naltrexone implant, which is designed to block the effects of opioids and alcohol in the brain.

In Anaheim, officials acknowledge that they cannot arrest away addiction, and not every method of treatment works for everyone. Hopefully, with harm reduction and eliminating the fear of asking for assistance, more people will come forward.

HOPE Initiative in Nashville, North Carolina

In Nashville, North Carolina the Police Department started an initiative called HOPE, modeled after the Gloucester Police Department’s program. Since it launched back in February of 2016, about 172 people from multiple states have sought treatment through HOPE.

Again, police notice a profound impact on their community. Law enforcement officials credit a 40% drop in crimes related to substance use disorder to the HOPE program.

Safe Stations Program in Maryland

It isn’t just cops helping addicts, but other emergency personnel such as firefighters.

In Maryland, there is a widespread effort to create effective PAARI programs. The Safe Stations program includes a collective effort from:

  • Anne Arundel County Police Departments
  • Anne Arundel County Fire Departments
  • Annapolis Police Departments
  • Annapolis Fire Departments

to offer help to drug users in their area. The Safe Stations program opened the doors to the combined 38 stations for individuals seeking help with their addiction. Safe Stations was the first of its kind in Maryland. Their locations stayed open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year to people needing help.

In just the few months it has been open, this initiative of police helping addicts into treatment has already placed over 18 people into treatment.

PAARI and Addiction Politics

Cops helping addicts doesn’t just stop at the local level either. PAARI representatives have also been trying to influence the way national government addresses drug addiction and overdose rates.

On February 21, 2018, members of the PAARI wrote an open letter to Kellyanne Conway regarding ONDCP funding and programs. At the time, the group presented itself as an organization comprised of more than 375 police chiefs in 32 states. Kellyanne Conway was appointed by President Trump as the head of his administration’s efforts to combat the opioid crisis. Not long after, PAARI members made sure to voice their support of Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP).

Earlier in the year, President Trump had made the proposal to shift nearly all of the ONDCP’s budget of $340 million to the Department of Justice. The organization of cops helping addicts said that they believed this action would limit the policy influence and access that police chiefs critically needed in a time of crisis with the opioid epidemic. The letter states that ONDCP was an early champion and primary partners of PAARI and that the organization hoped the administration would not strip the organization of its power to help law enforcement leaders at the local level. In fact, the PAARI letter also states that they hoped for the administration to expand ONDCP programs, including the widespread distribution of naloxone.

At the time of the letter, PAARI had distributed over 10,000 doses of nasal naloxone to families and first responders. This is a huge help in combating heroin overdose. PAARI sees cops helping addicts every day on the front lines of a continuous battle against addiction and overdose death.

Cops Helping Addicts Every Day

The opioid crisis can seem grim at times, and more often than not for some. Still, it is always refreshing to remember there is hope in the compassion of good people. The work that first responders are doing every day to make treatment possible for some many people is truly inspiring. After three years, countless lives have been changed for the better thanks to cops helping addicts in American communities.

Whether we see in on the news, in the paper, or on viral videos, there are cops helping addicts every day to get the holistic treatment they need. Hopefully, as more people understand the disease of addiction, we will see PAARI programs in every police department. Honestly, the impact on fighting stigma alone is incredible.

Now consider the thousands of moments every day all over America where first responders are helping someone struggling with addiction. Sometimes it is in the smallest ways. Every day the men and women who dedicate their lives to serving their communities are helping those suffering, whether we notice or not.

Thank you.

For women, there are a lot of unique adversities to face when trying to seek addiction treatment. That is why a unique approach to treatment can be so powerful for women trying to recover. The Orchid Recovery Center specializes in the specific needs of women, and the challenges they face. If you or someone you love is struggling, please call toll-free 1-800-777-9588 now. We want to help.

The post How Cops Helping Addicts are Changing the Conversation on Addiction   appeared first on Orchid Recovery Center.

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Due to the devastating effects of the opioid crisis in America, there is a new movement to restrict access to powerful opioid medications such as Oxycontin and Oxycodone. Even though heroin and fentanyl are now the driving force behind skyrocketing opioid overdoses across the nation, prescription drugs have been a contributing factor to the opioid crisis. Now, users are turning to a well-known nerve pain medication as an alternative high.

So what is Gabapentin and how is it getting in on the opioid crisis?

Getting to Know Gabapentin

Gabapentin is a known anticonvulsant and antiepileptic drug. Traditionally, Gabapentin is used with other medications to prevent and control seizures. It is also commonly used to relieve nerve pain in adults. There are also many non-FDA-approved ways Gabapentin has been used. Sometimes it is prescribed off-label to treat:

However, there are a lot of concerns surrounding the evidence for some of these uses.

The medication is available in capsules, tablets, and as an oral liquid dose. Moreover, some brand names for Gabapentin currently available in the United States include:

  • Neurontin
  • Gralise

However, other brands of the medication are no longer available in the US, including:

  • Fanatrex FusePaq Kit
  • Gabarone

Gabapentin was first approved in 1993, and it became available as a generic medication in America since 2004.

Big Issues with Gabapentin

Whether with an on-label or off-label prescription, there are plenty of adverse effects of Gabapentin. The most common side-effects from taking the drug include:

  • Anxiety
  • Dizziness
  • Dry mouth
  • Fatigue
  • Drowsiness
  • Sleepiness
  • Hostility
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Fever
  • Difficulty speaking
  • Jerky movements
  • Unusual eye movements
  • Double vision
  • Tremors
  • Memory loss
  • Unsteadiness
  • Ataxia

Some patients also experience symptoms of sexual dysfunction.

But beyond these, there are even more severe side-effects of the drug.

Risk of Suicide

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a warning in 2009 stating there is an increase in the risk of suicidal thoughts and behaviors in patients taking some anticonvulsant drugs, including gabapentin. Then in 2010 a meta-analysis supported the associated risk with gabapentin use and increased suicidal thoughts.

Withdrawal Syndrome

With Gabapentin, developing a tolerance to the drug is a very common occurrence. This is true for those prescribed the drug, and for recreational users who take the drug other than medically. As with most drugs that develop tolerance, withdrawal syndrome is likely to occur. Symptoms of Gabapentin withdrawal can begin as quickly as within 12 hours after taking the drug, up to 7 days.

Addiction

Gabapentin addiction is possible, especially for those who abuse the drug for recreational purposes. Developing a tolerance isn’t the same as an addiction, although those with addiction typically have a tolerance. Surveys have suggested that 22% of people who attend an addiction treatment program have a history of abusing Gabapentin.

Overdose

It is possible to overdose on Gabapentin. Through excessive ingestion of the drug, one can experience symptoms of an overdose, such as:

  • Blurred vision
  • Drowsiness
  • Slurred speech
  • Sedation
  • Somnolence

An overdose from Gabapentin can also be fatal. Anyone who is thought to be experiencing an overdose should seek immediate medical attention to avoid further health complications.

A little-known fact is that during the 1990s Parke-Davis, a sub-company of Pfizer used illegal techniques to encourage physicians in the United States to prescribe Gabapentin for off-label (unapproved) uses. Since then, the company has paid out millions of dollars to settle lawsuits regarding these unethical activities.

Alternative Sparks Abuse

What most people don’t realize is that even with all the adverse effects associated with this medication, it was still one of the most prescribed medication in 2017.

One reason for the surge in Gabapentin use is the opioid epidemic itself. Because many came to believe it would be a safer alternative to opioids, off-label use of the prescription drug led to a surge in its abuse. Furthermore, with heavy regulations being put over opioid-based painkillers, drug users started to look for the same kind of effects elsewhere.

The allure of Gabapentin comes from the drugs sedation effect. Some users will also use the medication in combination with other drugs or alcohol to amplify the sedative effect. The executive director of the Kentucky Office of Drug Control Policy Van Ingram told reporters recently,

“We started hearing from pharmacists about people trying to get early refills. That is usually a sign that something is being abused. “

Many believe that making prescription opioids harder to get is the main reason why the nerve pain medication is becoming more popular. In fact, overdoses from Gabapentin are now so widespread that the FDA has a study to research its uses, wanting to take action against the drug as soon as possible.

Tragically, there is no overdose antidote available for Gapabentin, like Narcan for opioids. Also, despite all the danger attributed to the drug, the only place it is considered a Schedule V controlled substance is Kentucky.

Addiction Treatment Resources

Even though Gabapentin has been utilized by some as an off-label addiction treatment medication, it is still important for people to be aware of the dangers of abuse these medications. The same is true for a lot of drugs used in medication-assisted therapy- the drug is used to help manage withdrawal symptoms, but can have its own serious side effects and should only be used under medical supervision.

A drawback to using Gabapentin for treating withdrawal is that it can cause its own withdrawal symptoms.

The National Library of Medicine (NLM) lists symptoms of withdrawal as:

  • Anxiety
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Nausea
  • Pain
  • Sweating
  • Suicidal thoughts

Gabapentin can cause dramatic changes in mood. Sometimes it can trigger depressive episodes, as well as compulsive thoughts. Withdrawal can also trigger mood episodes and other mental health problems.

When it comes to the treatment of Gabapentin addiction, there are currently no FDA approved medications to treat it. Some medications can be helpful in addressing specific symptoms, like nausea. However, the primary source of addiction treatment when trying to give up this powerful nerve drug is a safe medical detox with comprehensive behavioral therapies.

With the growing abuse of this prescription drug, it is important for people to become aware of the risks involved before it is too late. The Orchid Recovery Center has an experienced and compassionate staff of specialists ready to help. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-777-9588 now. We want to help.

The post How Gabapentin Is Getting in on the Opioid Crisis and Causing More Overdoses appeared first on Orchid Recovery Center.

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It has been said before that in the midst of the ongoing opioid crisis in America, public restrooms have become ground zero all across the country. You don’t have to look very hard to find stories about users being found in the grips of an overdose on bathroom floors; be it at a bar or nightclub, a gas station fast food restaurant, convenience store or even a local coffee shop. IV drug users injecting anything from meth to heroin, painkillers or fentanyl, often seek out the relative seclusion that can be found in public restrooms in order for a place to shoot up. So now, in an effort to prevent the use of public bathrooms, some establishments are utilizing colored light bulbs to deter drug use.

How could blue light possibly prevent drug use?

When I first heard about this concept I thought- what exactly is that going to do? How could making the room colorful stop someone from using? Have experts in psychology unlocked some hidden power of the color blue on the human mind nobody else knew about?

What kind of blue are we talking about here? Does it have to be a rich, navy blue? Or does Sapphire count too?

Well apparently, there is some logic to this tactic. The blue lights being placed in public restrooms are meant to discourage people from injecting drugs by making it much more difficult to see their veins. The idea actually isn’t all that new. Utilizing blue lights to make open bathrooms in retail businesses has been around for years. But thanks to the opioid epidemic, more consideration has gone into adopting the idea. Read Hayes, a University of Florida researcher states:

“The hardest-core opiate user still wants to be accurate. They want to make sure the needle goes in the right spot.”

Hayes is also the director of the Loss Prevention Research Council, a retail industry-supported group that is currently examining the effectiveness of installing blue lights to deter drug use. The Loss Prevention Research Council typically formulates new approaches to combat theft and violent crime at stores. While they say the blue lights study is still in its early development, initial feedback from stores currently field-testing the strategy has been positive. According to Hayes, the whole purpose of using the blue lights is to “disrupt the process” of intravenous drug use. The ultimate goal for the blue lights is to force drug users to go somewhere else.

Can this plan really work?

Again, when first hearing about this idea I thought- there isn’t much that can stop an addict from using when they feel they need it. Even after finding out the lights are meant to make it harder to see veins, I am still pretty skeptical that it will make these public restrooms immune to the problem. From personal experience, drug users are some pretty tenacious and resourceful people. So even knowing the logic behind the plan, will it really work?

Earlier studies on using blue lights to stop drug use question the deterrent effect. Most people who use opioids tell researchers that they would rather attempt to shoot up in a blue light and risk missing the vein than experience heroin withdrawal. In fact, for people who are well-adapted to injecting themselves, there are always ways around the lights.

Some stores seem to think so…

That being said, some of those field-testing the blue lights say they have noticed a drastic impact. One business, Turkey Hill Minit Markets, has installed blue lights in several locations. According to Turkey Hill’s asset protection manager Matt Dorgan, in some areas hit hard by the opioid crisis Turkey Hill store workers would often find used needles or even people overdosing in their restrooms. Dorgan said,

“We realized we need to do something to protect our associates and our customers.”

Turkey Hill added a broad set of security measures, including brighter exterior lights and security training for their staff.

In just over six months after the blue lights were installed in as many as 20 of the chain’s locations, Dorgan said,

“We’re not finding hardly anything anymore. It is a pretty dramatic reduction. We haven’t had a single overdose.”

While one could definitely consider having no overdoses in these restrooms as a strong high note, many public health experts oppose the practice.

Other experts urge for a different approach…

It is easy to understand why no retail business wants people overdosing or using drugs and leaving behind dangerous paraphernalia on their property. They want to maintain a safe environment not just for workers, but also for customers. Still, health officials think this is not the best they can do.

One main issue health officials take with this tactic is that blue lights make it more likely that drug users will hurt themselves. This is because, as we talked about before, most people battling with a severe addiction will not let blue lights stop them from trying to inject themselves. Furthermore, experts also believe that putting users in this new light will also further stigmatize those struggling with addiction. Health officials are currently suggesting other methods of interventions that don’t include blue lights, such as:

  • Needle disposal containers to help people discard of used needles
  • Outward swinging stall doors to make it easier to reach someone overdosing or in need of medical assistance
  • Work with law enforcement and other social services agencies

Brett Wolfson-Stofko from the National Development & Research Institutes has studied injection drug use in public restrooms. He insists that someone in withdrawal who obtains heroin or other opioids is-

“- going to want to use as soon as possible, even if the location is not optimal.”

With addiction and opioid use affecting so many countless people all across the nation, it is understandable that many want to promote harm reduction strategies instead of relying on tactics that make drug users even more vulnerable.

It isn’t just retailers that are trying out the blue lights. The city of Philadelphia now hands out kits to residents to combat drug use on private property, including:

  • Blue light bulbs for front porches
  • No-trespassing signs
  • Tools for picking up used syringes
  • Needle disposal boxes
  • Information for contacting social services

This approach seems to be a little more comprehensive by offering harm reduction resources in addition to the blue lights. Since January, Philadelphia has given out more than 100 kits.

In the end, we can look at both sides of this conversation and try to understand. Business owners and private citizens don’t want people overdosing in their restrooms or outside their homes. Why would they? At the same time, drug users are already in the grips of a life-threatening battle. We should try to support them instead of putting them in even more danger just because it is more convenient.

So how do we find a better way to prevent drug use in public places? Maybe we should make more of an effort to support effective addiction treatment options. Perhaps instead of putting a blue spotlight on people who are struggling, we should rally our resources behind innovative and compassionate addiction treatment opportunities for those suffering.

For over 20 years, the Orchid Recovery Center has provided safe and effective treatment options, focusing on holistic health and transforming lives. If you or someone you love is struggling, please call toll-free 1-800-777-9588 now. We want to help.

The post Blue Light Special: Colored Bulbs to Prevent Public Restroom Drug Use appeared first on Orchid Recovery Center.

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Benzodiazepines are a class of psychoactive drugs where the core chemical structure is the fusion of a benzene ring and a diazepine ring. Commonly referred to as benzos, these compounds have become relatively notorious over recent years. However, even as they are seeing a trend in popularity in 2018, people have worried about the impact of these drugs on the mind for a long time. Benzo brain damage is not a new concept, but it is one many people aren’t all that familiar with.

Brief Benzo History

The first benzodiazepine drug was chlordiazepoxide, commonly known as Librium. In 1955 chemist Leo Sternbach accidentally discovered chlordiazepoxide. In 1960 Hoffmann–La Roche made Librium available to the market. Then in 1963, Hoffmann–La Roche also began marketing the benzodiazepine Valium. In 1977 benzodiazepines were globally the most prescribed medications. Other well known benzos include:

By the 1970s there was already a growing concern about the adverse effects of benzos when an immense number of people started taking them to combat everything from mild stress to chronic anxiety.

In 1976, a physician at the University of Tennessee named David Knott voiced his concern about the short-term memory loss of patients using benzos. Knott stated:

“I am very convinced that Valium, Librium and other drugs of that class cause damage to the brain. I have seen damage to the cerebral cortex that I believe is due to the use of these drugs, and I am beginning to wonder if the damage is permanent”

A notable hint of benzo brain damage came in 1982. Malcolm Lader, a British Professor of Psychopharmacology, reported that brain scans done on a small group of patients who had been taking diazepam for a number of years showed evidence suggesting that they had experienced benzo brain damage. This was the first indication of anatomical brain changes associated with benzo use. Lader did warn that his preliminary findings needed more research.  Still, he points out that his work suggests the brains of regular benzodiazepine users were damaged and shrunken when compared to the brain of people who did not take the drugs.

Finally, in 1989, renowned anxiety specialist Isaac Marks published a critique of then-recent reports about Xanax and its “efficacy” in treating panic disorder in the Archives of General Psychiatry. Marks was not alone in his mission to call out the benzo. Ten other eminent colleagues drew even more attention to what they considered serious adverse effects of the drug. The contributors came from all over the world, from comparable research institutes in:

  • England
  • France
  • Brazil
  • Germany
  • Spain
  • Portugal
  • The United States

Part of what Isaac Marks wrote was about worrying signs of brain atrophy among long-term benzodiazepine users, including “cerebral ventricular enlargement” as a sign of benzo brain damage.

Over time Marks found himself in a showdown with Upjohn Pharmaceuticals, who produced Xanax. Marks claimed the company had either ignored or minimized the adverse side effects of their drug. At one point Marks had argued:

“The cerebral ventricular enlargement reported in patients with anxiety/panic disorders who were long-term benzodiazepine users could be due to the disorder or to other factors rather than to the drugs, but wisdom advises caution”

And eventually in 1990 Upjohn Pharmaceuticals finally admitted:

“Certain adverse clinical events, some life-threatening, are a direct consequence of physical dependence to Xanax. These include a spectrum of withdrawal symptoms; the most important is seizure . . . studies of patients with panic disorder showed a higher rate of rebound and withdrawal symptoms with Xanax…. Other symptoms, such as anxiety and insomnia, were frequently reported during discontinuation.”

The debate has carried on for years over the extent of the damage done to the brain by benzos. In 2011, Professor C. Heather Ashton made a public update to “Benzodiazepines: How They Work and How to Withdraw” which has been modified in 2012 and 2013. In this update, Ashton wrote that any benzo brain damage caused by these drugs and/or their withdrawal syndrome is more of the functional variety than anatomical, involving the down-regulation of GABA-A neuroreceptors in the central nervous system.

Benzo Brain Damage

With benzo brain damage, we are not talking about the kind of blunt-force trauma the brain sustains in cases of traumatic brain injury. What we are talking about is functional central nervous system changes.

Functional brain changes include conditions like Organic Brain Syndrome (OBS). This is a condition causing mental and/or cognitive function impairments that are physiological in nature. There is documentation showing this could be caused by benzodiazepine dependency and withdrawal, alcoholism, and other centrally acting drugs.

There is evidence suggesting that adults over the age of sixty-five who take benzodiazepines are more likely to develop dementia. Also, you can find various articles trying to make the connection to benzo brain damage and Alzheimer’s disease. Researchers continue to report on the disturbing adverse effects associated with benzodiazepines. Over the years there have been 25 warnings from six countries stating that anti-anxiety drugs cause harmful side effects, including:

  • Cognitive impairment
  • Amnesia
  • Depression
  • Hallucinations
  • Abnormal behavior
  • Attempted suicide
  • Violence
  • Hostility

And all of this does not even account for the high risk of developing a dependence on the drug or creating a full-blown addiction. Considering all the elements that come with benzodiazepine addiction, we can see how deeply benzo abuse impacts the brain. Many consider addiction itself as a brain disorder.

With tens of millions of Americans having prescriptions for benzodiazepine drugs like Xanax and Valium, it is crucial that more people become aware of the dangers associated with these powerful substances. The better we understand how drugs change our bodies and brains, the better we can fight back and make better choices.

One very important thing to emphasize is that people should not abruptly discontinue use of benzodiazepine medications. In the event someone is trying to get off of benzodiazepine, a safe medical detox is critical due to the severe and even life-threatening complications of benzo withdrawal. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-777-9588 now.

The post Benzo Brain Damage: How Drugs Like Xanax Break Down the Mind appeared first on Orchid Recovery Center.

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In the looming shadow of our current opioid epidemic in America, people are quick to forget that we had another pill-propelled epidemic back in the mid-1960s. Over five decades ago America stumbled into a nationwide amphetamine epidemic, and some suggest we are already on the verge of another and we don’t even notice.

Can we learn from our mistakes from the 60s? Can we apply the same urgency of the opioid crisis to stimulants? Could prescription amphetamines be the next big epidemic?

ADHD and Adderall Outbreak

Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) has become a relatively common term in our world today. While the disorder is best understood in children, in 2006 the American Journal of Psychiatry reported that 4.4% of U.S. adults also had ADHD. Then between 2005 and 2014, the number of ADHD diagnosis more than doubled. In 2014, 14% of children in America were diagnosed with ADHD.

Needless to say, with the increase in ADHD patients there was also an increase in medications being prescribed.

Adderall is one of the more popular prescription amphetamine typically used for treating ADHD. As a medication, it helps people improve their focus and manage other symptoms of ADHD. It is a useful prescription medication, but over time it managed to earn a reputation as a ‘smart drug’ popular among non-ADHD sufferers hoping to use the drug to improve their performance at school or in the workplace.

Although mixed amphetamines can be a helpful medicine for people with ADHD, they carry a risk of misuse and abuse. Research shows Adderall abuse has increased on college campuses over the past 15 years. Students often diagnose themselves and seek these powerful stimulants through doctors, other students, and the illicit drug trade.

Amphetamine Epidemic of the Past

If we take the trip down memory lane, we find that amphetamines were first developed back in 1929. Over 30 years later in the ‘60s, these stimulant pills were widely prescribed for a variety of things, including weight loss, study aids, or energy pills. The average user was usually middle-aged, middle-class; someone who needed more energy or help to cope with daily life. In the days of yesteryear, it was seen as a harmless and helpful medication. This was all before any recognition that this medicine was potentially addictive.

Fun Fact- It’s been documented that President John F. Kennedy’s physician gave him regular injections that included methamphetamine, vitamins, and hormones.

Middle-Americans, politicians, and even celebrities were using stimulants. One of the most famous amphetamine addicts was the man in black himself, Johnny Cash.

Looking back, we see that the opioid crisis began much like the last amphetamine epidemic. The pharmaceutical industry and physicians all over the country pushed medications while either not know the risks, or not caring enough to let it stop them.

It was not until 1971 that the FDA set forth regulations that made it more difficult for doctors to justify the medical usage of potent stimulant medications. New restrictions made it more difficult for pharmacists to fill prescriptions. Sales eventually plummeted as people realized the days of endless “uppers” were coming to a close.

Since then, we have seen other illicit stimulants rise and fall in popularity, including illegal drugs cocaine and methamphetamine.

Potential of an Amphetamine Epidemic

Illicit methamphetamines like crystal meth in the 80s paved the way, prescription amphetamines are also steadily making a comeback.

Today, drugs like Ritalin (methylphenidate) and Adderall (amphetamine) are increasingly popular prescriptions. While we may not notice it the way we notice opioid abuse and overdose death rates, there are more amphetamines being used now than the original amphetamine epidemic of the 60s at the peak. Reports indicate that 16 million prescriptions for stimulants were written in 2012. According to the CDC, 3.5 million children were on stimulant medications by 2013.

We see amphetamine abuse steadily climbing, but are we really prepared for what comes next? Is it possible that because people are using these drugs to feel focused and alert, instead of nodding out behind the wheel of a car or dying of an overdose in a public restroom, that we are overlooking the possible fallout from an amphetamine epidemic?

Some experts believe that the prescription amphetamine crisis is indeed growing. Many suspect it may catch up to the opioid epidemic in scope and damage. For now we know that opioids have caused the worst drug epidemic in American history, and there is no denying the massive loss of life from it. However, it is possible that unless we are paying attention, prescription psychostimulants like Adderall may be the next big thing to do a drastic amount of damage in this country.

The Orchid Recovery Center specializes in providing unique care to women with addictions, and we’ve developed an innovative program that pairs the best of conventional addiction treatment with therapies known to work best with women. If you or someone you love is struggling with an addiction to Adderall or other amphetamines, we want to help. Please call toll-free

The post Could Prescription Amphetamines Be the Next Big Epidemic in America? appeared first on Orchid Recovery Center.

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(This content is being used for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted in the content is a model)

Abuse can come in all shapes and sizes and can impact any kind of relationship. One form of abuse that is not as easy to recognize is psychological abuse. This form of toxic behavior is also commonly underestimated for how harmful it can actually be.

The difficult to identify psychological abuse can endanger women the most. That is because unlike the obvious evidence of harm that happens with physical violence, psychological abuse can create “invisible injuries” on a woman’s thoughts, feelings, and perceptions.

However, this same psychological abuse can impact one’s psyche and sense of well-being just as intensely as physical violence.

Understanding the extent of these devastating effects helps with identifying this behavior and seeing it for what it really is- abuse. So look at these 3 signs of psychological abuse and then at how to overcome it.

3 Signs of Psychological Abuse

Let’s recognize the signs of psychological abuse as they appear during a relationship with a controlling partner.

Abuse can be the cause of various responses, symptoms, and conditions that go on to impact more than just the relationship between two people. In a piece written by Carol A. Lambert, MSW, a psychotherapist and domestic abuse expert, she describes the most common conditions identified by the majority of the more than 1,000 women who attended her recovery groups.

Your controlling partner creates an experience in your relationship that can cause major negative changes in you, leading to many profound losses:

  1. Suddenly self-doubting and insecure

When exposed to psychological abuse, many women who saw themselves as confident and self-assured would find themselves struggling with insecurities and self-doubt due to their experience.

If you have insecurities, you will find they intensify over time as they are used against you in a psychologically abusive relationship.

  1. Confused and indecisive

Before a relationship that subjects you to psychological abuse, you may have felt more grounded and trusting in your own choices. However, the abuse leads you to question everything.

As psychological abuse often attacks the individual’s ability to be self-sufficient, you may start to feel incapable or questioning your own judgment.

  1. Emotionally exhausted

Someone who is psychologically abusive will not want you to be emotionally content, especially if it means your happiness does not depend on them. So they will harm you psychologically in order to wear you down.

Psychological abuse also often contributes to other serious mental health conditions, such as:

One symptom of trauma is hypervigilance. This state is very frequently experienced by women with a controlling or abusive partner. It causes people to feel tense and stay on high alert when their partner is around. Hypervigilance can make people afraid of saying or doing saying something their partner doesn’t like. The individual’s ability to control their own life diminishes over time as a result of their trauma.

3 Steps to Overcome Psychological Abuse

Psychological abuse is all about mentally and emotionally harming and disarming someone. Therefore, overcoming psychological abuse means becoming emotionally stronger. Building yourself back up will help you act in your own best interest. Looking at these 3 signs, there are 3 steps you can take to overcome the effects of psychological abuse.

  1. Learn more

The old saying ‘knowledge is power’ applies to overcoming psychological abuse. Understanding how to overcome the abuse is possible when you better understand the abuse in the first place. Learning about controlling behaviors and their impact, while also learning to recognize them in your relationships, can help you to learn how best to respond.

  1. Trust yourself

A big part of being empowered is being able to trust yourself and your worth. In order to become emotionally stronger, you don’t want to allow someone else to constantly confuse you by devaluing how you feel and what you think. A huge step in the right direction is trusting yourself to see things clearly. Trust yourself to think and to feel for yourself, so someone else cannot control your thoughts and feelings.

  1. Express yourself

Living with psychological abuse, people tend to had to hide parts of themselves. Not only should you learn to trust your thoughts and feelings, but you should also express them. This means welcoming in all those pieces of yourself that you were hiding from your partner and being who you are regardless.

When you start making progress, don’t let any of it go to waste. Your feelings and your thoughts and what you’ve learned from the relationship matters, so make it count. When you are able to trust your own perception and express your own emotions in a strong and healthy way, you’ll be able to break free from the psychological abuse of a controlling partner.

Psychological Health and Addiction

Many people who experience psychological abuse turn to drugs or alcohol in order to cope with their pain. Some people will turn to drugs that help them to feel numb or calm their anxieties. Others will turn to drugs that help them feel empowered, focused or accomplished. All of these strategies are temporary and self-destructive. They do not help create actual empowerment or lasting support.

Abusing drugs in order to try and regulate emotions can quickly lead to an addiction. Meanwhile, the two conditions feed into one another. Substance abuse can make someone feel worse about themselves, making them more vulnerable to psychological abuse, so they use more to escape those feelings. This cycle can go on for a long time.

In order to have an effective and lasting recovery, the steps the individual takes toward sobriety should be comprehensive and holistic. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-777-9588 now.

The post 3 Signs of Psychological Abuse and How to Overcome Them appeared first on Orchid Recovery Center.

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Margot Kidder was the Canadian-born actress widely regarded as the Lois Lane, having portrayed the iconic character in the original Christopher Reeve Superman film (and its three sequels) stealing the hearts of the Man of Steel and his fans worldwide on the silver screen for many years. Kidder passed away this past Sunday at 69 years old, leaving behind a loving family and acting career reaching back to the late 60s.

The cause of death at the time of this writing is not yet public.

When looking back at the life of Margot Kidder and her legacy as Lois Lane long beloved by many fans, we also look at her courageous battle to overcome mental health issues. Kidder’s struggles with bipolar disorder led her to homelessness and even addiction, but eventually, she found herself on an inspiring path to recovery and advocacy.

Margot Kidder Talks Mental Health

During a cover story interview for PEOPLE magazine in 1996, Margot Kidder opened up about the flying-with-Superman highs and the not-so-subtle lows of her life dealing with bipolar disorder.

“The reality of my life has been grand and wonderful, punctuated by these odd blips and burps of madness,”

Bipolar disorder is actually a mental health condition that affects over 9 million Americans, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. It was once referred to as manic-depressive disorder, because of the euphoric highs and desperate lows that individuals experience.

When talking to PEOPLE about her struggles, she described one of her core problems as “mood swings that could knock over a building” being part of her bipolar disorder. Kidder explained that when she was first diagnosed in 1988, she refused to accept the findings or to take the recommended lithium treatment. She stated:

“It’s very hard to convince a manic person that there is anything wrong with them. You have no desire to sleep. You are full of ideas.”

In 1996, those ideas took Margot Kidder to a new level of desperation, which led to a very public breakdown.

Media Breakdown

Years later, describing the incident, Kidder called it “the most public freak-out in history.”

It all began when a computer virus accidentally deleted a memoir Kidder had been working on for several years. At that point, she said she went from “distressed to absolute delusion.” She traveled to L.A. to see a computer specialist, who told her the files could not be recovered.

Waiting for a flight home, she became convinced that Thomas McGuane, novelist, and Kidder’s first husband, was working with the CIA to try and kill her because her memoir was going to change the world. At 3 a.m. in the airport, she spoke with a TV crew, telling them:

“My ex-husband has hired people to kill me.”

Kidder explained that she threw her purse away, because she thought there was a bomb in it, and ran away from an ATM machine she feared was going to explode.

Margot Kidder made it 20 miles away to downtown by the next afternoon, sleeping on porches and in yards along the way, and was taken in by a homeless man. During her time on the street, she was attacked by another homeless man, and chopped most of her hair off to disguise herself. On a 12 mile journey to reach the home of a friend, she met members of an Alcoholics Anonymous group who put her up in a hotel.

Eventually, Kidder had a moment of clarity and wandered into a backyard, introducing herself to homeowner Elaine Lamb, how called 911. The police found Kidder and took her to Olive View Medical Center for observation. She was transferred to UCLA and released 5 days after being found when a judge ruled she was no longer a danger to herself or others.

Overcoming Addiction and Adversity

This four day disappearance was not the first time Margot Kidder had found herself between a speeding bullet and a locomotive. In 1990, she was in an auto accident while working on the TV series Nancy Drew and Daughter. The accident left her legs partially paralyzed. In 1992 she received a back operation for a herniated disk, which actually restored her ability to walk. However, she found herself in bankruptcy due to more than $600,000 of medical bills.

The pain caused by her injury also led her to an addiction to alcohol and pills as she attempted to self-medicate. Most people don’t realize the complicated relationship between bipolar disorder and addiction. Eventually, she joined a 12 Step program and started making progress in recovery. One of the greatest gifts of her recovery from drugs and her mental health disorder is the improved relationship with her daughter.

In her recovery, the Lois Lane actress said she received help from Elena Crippen, a Canadian acupuncturist, and therapist. She also found help from actor Russel Means, a friend who introduced her to Native American herbal remedies. Over time, her treatments started to work and she never experienced another episode like the one in 1996. When speaking about her path to recovery from drugs, alcohol, and mental illness Margot Kidder did admit that recovery was a work in progress.

“I’m not saying it’s all over. I’m saying this is the pattern of my life. In three years I might be having another wig-out. I have no idea. I just have to accept the fact that this is me, or I ain’t gonna make it.”

Margot Kidder went on to be a superhero in her own way. She became an advocate for mental health awareness. Over the years she spoke out to promote mental health issues, as well as anti-war efforts and as an environmental activist. Lois Lane was even arrested in August 2011 while protesting in Washington D.C. against the extension of the Keystone Pipeline.

She never gave up on her passions either. She acted in dozens of roles both on television and in film, even starring in the Canadian drama film The Neighborhood in 2017. Since her passing, other stars have expressed their love and admiration for the world’s favorite Daily Planet reporter, including Star Wars star Mark Hamill who stated:

“On-screen she was magic.
Off-screen she was one of the kindest, sweetest, most caring woman I’ve ever known.
I’ll miss you
#MargoKidder.
Your legacy will live on forever.”

There is no doubt that the legacy of the Lois Lane will forever be a bright spot on the history of Hollywood Superhero stardom. And another part of Margot Kidder’s amazing story is her fight to overcome the adversities in her personal life. The journey to face her mental health disorder and the drug and alcohol abuse that came from it is admirable. And even more so, to be open with the world about these issues is truly inspiring.

The story of Margot Kidder is an amazing one, even without a Clark Kent to fly her around town. Let us remember her for her strength in and out of character, and her part in trying to make Metropolis and the rest of the world a better place.

“Acting’s fun, but life’s more important” – Margot Kidder October 17, 1948 – May 13, 2018 Celebrity recovery stories can be truly remarkable, and they remind us that mental health disorders and addictions can impact anyone. Making an effort to make a change in your life is what matters. If you or someone you love is struggling, please call toll-free 1-800-777-9588 now.

The post Remembering Margot Kidder: Lois Lane’s Story of Recovery appeared first on Orchid Recovery Center.

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Not many people truly realize how prevalent meth abuse in America is, and how damaging it can be to the human body. Just the drug itself is attached to a great deal of taboo, not to mention attaching it to addiction. However, this powerful stimulant drug is used by roughly 4% of the US population. Data from a few SAMHSA reports, including Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN) study and 2014 NSDUH, in recent years indicate:

  • Hospital emergency room visits related to the use of methamphetamine rose from about 68,000 in 2007 to about 103,000 in 2011.
  • More than 60% of these visits involved the use of meth with at least one other substance.
  • In 2014, 569,000 Americans reported using meth in the past month.

There has been a tremendous focus on opioid overdose in the midst of an ongoing epidemic, but meanwhile, meth overdose deaths have also increased over the years.

  • 2014- 3,700 overdose deaths were caused by meth
  • 2015- 4,900 overdose deaths were caused by meth
  • 2016- 7,700 overdose deaths were caused by meth

Needless to say, developing an addiction to methamphetamine is a very serious issue and should be taken seriously. That is why understanding what to look for in a meth detox program is so important. As with any addiction, there are many factors one should consider when seeking meth detox.

Meth Detox: What is Meth?

If you are looking for resources to help some struggling with meth abuse, you may not completely understand what exactly this drug is. Having a better understanding of the drug can also give you a better idea of what the individual is going through.

The term “meth” is short for methamphetamine, which is a highly addictive stimulant that affects the central nervous system. Methamphetamine is abused because it causes increased activity and a general sense of well-being or euphoria. Street names include:

  • Speed
  • Crank
  • Glass
  • Chalk
  • Crystal
  • Ice

When most people think of meth, they imagine colored crystals, but that is not the only way meth is produced or consumed. Regular methamphetamine comes in powder or pill form, while crystal meth is commonly found as fragments of glass or shiny ‘rocks’ of varying sizes. People ingest meth in various ways, including:

  • Orally
  • Injecting
  • Smoking
  • Snorting

Like any other drug, most people use meth because it gives them a feeling of intense pleasure. However, the side effects of meth can be extreme, making meth detox an effective option for addressing these issues.

For example, methamphetamine causes cardiovascular problems, so users run a serious health risk with each use. Some of the cardiovascular effects include:

  • Rapid heart rate
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Increased blood pressure

Meth overdoses are also very dangerous. An overdose on methamphetamine can cause hyperthermia, which is when one experiences an extremely elevated body temperature and convulsions. If the individual does not seek treatment immediately, a meth overdose can quickly turn fatal.

Meth Detox: Long-term Effects

Long-term meth users experience a number of devastating side-effects. One of those side-effects is psychosis, with symptoms that include:

People struggling with long-term meth abuse also typically experience:

  • Memory loss
  • Aggressive or violent behavior
  • Mood disturbances
  • Severe dental problems
  • Weight loss

Probably one of the most well-known effects of meth abuse is Xerostomia or “Meth Mouth”. This is when a meth user experiences chronic dry mouth, which causes a reduction in saliva and ultimately exposure to more bacteria. Meth mouth causes issues like:

  • Gum disease
  • Tooth Decay
  • Tooth Loss
  • Inflammation

One of the most detrimental long-term effects of meth use and abuse is an addiction. Meth detox is one of the many necessary steps someone struggles with meth addiction should consider taking in order to get clean.

Meth Detox: Withdrawal Symptoms

One of the main reasons meth detox is so essential for many people is because the withdrawal from meth can range from uncomfortable to life-threatening. In fact, in many cases people will relapse back into using meth to avoid these withdrawal symptoms.

Some of the withdrawal symptoms one experiences when they stop using meth include:

  • Irritability
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Increased appetite
  • Excessive sleeping
  • Suicidal ideation (obsessive thoughts of suicide)

Because of the side-effects and health risks associated with meth use, meth detox is often the safest and most effective way to build a foundation for addiction recovery. So how do you get help?

Meth Detox: Getting the Help You Need

There are many reasons why meth detox is such an important resource for those seeking help. Not only because you can transition off of meth in a safe medical setting, but because you also have the opportunity to work with addiction specialists to decide what the next step toward recovery is for you.

While there is no magic pill that will solve meth addiction, meeting with a professional team of medical and addiction specialists will provide you with the opportunity to consider options for medications that may ease the mental and physical discomfort of withdrawal symptoms.

Part of cultivating a healthier future in meth detox is the chance to experience holistic treatment options. This can include a variety of different methods that treat the whole person, not just the symptoms and side-effects of the drug. These treatments include:

The priority in meth detox is to help the individual get off of the drug in a secure and supportive environment. Quality care means having a compassionate staff that works with each individual for the best possible future. By getting the best help available for the meth detox stage, you can begin building a personalized recovery plan that supports your life beyond recovery.

Sadly, many people who are battling with a meth addiction don’t know how to begin getting off the drug. Meth detox can help. It may be the best chance of having the life you deserve. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free now 1-800-777-9588.

The post Meth Detox: What You Need to Know appeared first on Orchid Recovery Center.

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Sidney Depp is a 16-year-old sophomore cheerleader at Springboro High School in Springboro, Ohio. For the past two years she has been running a non-profit called The Love Project. The mission of her campaign is to help fight infant heroin addiction, which has increased drastically in the past few years due to the opioid epidemic.

The Love Project

In the two years since Sidney started The Love Project there have been over 2,000 baby blankets decorated and donated to hospitals throughout the state of Ohio. The blankets are made to swaddle babies born with drug addiction. The Love Project uses new donated receiving blankets along with blankets sold to her by a local Walmart for $1 each. Sidney Depp irons patches on the comforters reading “You Are Loved. Jeremiah 29:11” and distributes boxes of the blankets to area hospitals. When talking about her efforts in an interview with PEOPLE, Sidney states,

“I want not only the baby as it grows, but the mother to be reminded that God still has a plan and a future, and you should never lose hope.”

The Ohio teen delivers hundreds of blankets to mothers of drug-addicted babies in person. Currently, the campaign operates on donations and monetary contributions.

While there is no website, you can visit the GoFundMe page or Facebook page to get more information.

A Mission of Love

Sidney says she was only 14 when she learned infant heroin addiction was such a prevalent issue. When she found out that every 19 minutes a child is born addicted to opioids in America, she was shocked, which sparked a desire to help.

Sidney told PEOPLE that a friend of her family had been certified to take in foster children, and their very first week they were called to care for a baby born with infant heroin addiction. Sidney said,

“I had no idea that it was such a big problem, and as soon as I saw that baby, I wanted to do something to help.”

Doctors told her that one of the best ways to comfort these children was to wrap them in receiving blankets when they were going through opioid withdrawals, she said:

“I thought that’s something I can do to make a difference where I live,”

Ohio has been a state at the heart of the opioid crisis for some time. Dayton, not too far from where Sidney lives, was recently named the number one city in the country for drug overdoses. In fact, two other Ohio towns made the top 10.

During her interview, Sidney talked about how most people believe addiction is a problem for big cities. However, she knows that this big problem has a huge impact in small towns. So when she found a way to help, she took the opportunity and learned about infant heroin addiction.

“When I first started doing this, it broke my heart to find out that most of these babies are left alone to go through withdrawal because their mothers aren’t able to see them,” “Nurses can’t spend enough time with them and hospitals need more volunteers. But with a blanket, at least these babies can feel some comfort and relief. And when the blanket goes home with them, they’ll always have a reminder that they are loved.”

Likewise, Sidney tries to use her campaign as an opportunity to support the mothers of babies with infant heroin addiction.

Making a Difference

Throughout this process, Sidney has made connections with mothers like Nichole Potts, a 33-year-old who was devastated to discover her son, Christian, was born with infant heroin addiction. In fact, the now two-year-old boy Christian was one of the first to receive a swaddling blanket from The Love Project. Potts told PEOPLE:

“When I met Sidney [at the hospital], she treated us like any other mother and new baby. Instead of making me feel like a terrible person. For once, I didn’t feel judged, just loved. It made me feel really special, getting that blanket. Ever since, I’ve been clean and sober, and Christian is now healthy and happy. It’s wonderful to know there are people like Sidney who care.”

Sidney’s parents were also saddened to hear about the impact of the opioid epidemic, but are proud of the work their daughter is doing. Her mother, Virginia, states:

“I love that she’s been able to take this current drug epidemic and give people a new perspective on some of the victims. Sidney is teaching us that everyone can do their part to make a difference in the world.”

And it is truly amazing to see someone so young doing something so courageous and making a difference. Not only does this campaign bring comfort to babies born into very real suffering, it also brings hope to their parents who may have otherwise been hopeless. It is without question a touching and compassionate effort to make the lives of victims of the opioid crisis better.

Infant Heroin Addiction

The technical term for the symptoms and issues babies experience when withdrawing due to exposure to narcotics is Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS).

According to Stanford Children’s Health, nearly every drug a mother ingests passes from the mother’s bloodstream through the placenta and to the fetus. Therefore, if a mother is using illicit and addictive substances while pregnant, it also causes the fetus to become addicted to the substance. So, the infant is born with a drug dependence. However, because that substance is no longer present, the baby’s central nervous system will become overstimulated, causing withdrawal symptoms. Some symptoms include:

  • Tremors (trembling)
  • Irritability (excessive crying)
  • Sleep problems
  • Tight muscle tone
  • Hyperactive reflexes
  • Seizures
  • Yawning
  • Stuffy nose and sneezing
  • Poor feeding
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Dehydration
  • Sweating
  • Fever or unstable temperature

Typically, heroin and other opioid drugs cause withdrawal in over half of the babies prenatally exposed to them. So when a mother uses illicit substances like heroin, she places her unborn child at a high risk for many health problems.

But infant heroin addiction and neonatal abstinence syndrome don’t only lead to withdrawals. Other complications the baby may experience include:

  • Poor intrauterine growth
  • Premature birth
  • Seizures
  • Birth defects

Furthermore, symptoms of infant heroin addiction can last as long as six months. Sadly, a mother using drugs is also less likely to seek prenatal care, which only increases the risks for both her and the baby.

However, there are specific treatments for NAS. Speaking with your baby’s doctor is the best way to determine a course of action.

Every day far too many children are born into addiction, and too many mothers lose their lives to drugs like heroin. Sometimes, even prescription drugs can harm an unborn child. Every mother should have every opportunity to get help, and the best resources to address the specific needs of women in recovery. The Orchid Recovery Center focuses on providing the best possible care for the unique challenges women in addiction face. If you or someone you love is struggling, please call toll-free now 1-800-777-9588.

The post Ohio Teen Using Baby Blankets to Fight Infant Heroin Addiction appeared first on Orchid Recovery Center.

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