Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Alcohol Classes Online Help Our Culture With The Silent Killer

Alcohol has several negative effects not he human body, most of which won't harm the individual who has a drink on occasion, as long as that occasion isn't every night. Alcohol is a silent killer because it works inside with no apparent harm until it's too late.

Alcohol education classes can help inform the young and old of the multiple effects of alcohol on the body, how it causes breakdowns in the body and can eventually cause death. Alcohol is the second common cause of death in the U.S. next to tobacco related deaths. Alcohol has severe effects not only on the physical body, but also on the mental state of the consumer.

As far as our bodies can understand, the alcohol we ingest is actually a poison. Alcohol awareness classes will help the student understand that over consumption can result in brain damage, liver damage, pancreatic shutdown, and even nerve damage. Have you ever seen an alcoholic with the shakes? That's the nervous system reacting to the individual's lack of alcohol.

Alcohol classes will inform the student of how alcohol cuts oxygen to the brain, making the brain react poorly to your surroundings and possibly causing permanent brain damage. The effects of heavy drinking can be obvious, but few realize that heavy consumption can shorten a person's life by nearly 20 years or more.

Alcohol courses for the young give them an added advantage when facing their future. Young drinkers that have taken an alcohol awareness class can change their behavior before the long-term effects set in. As parents, ignoring that opportunity for your child can be detrimental to even the strongest of teens.

For older drinkers, it's a sad fact that the more often you drink, the higher your tolerance becomes. This can quickly lead to alcohol dependence. Alcohol awareness classes will teach students about the anxiety, cold sweats, loss of income, and even vomiting that a lack of alcohol can cause when completely dependent.

Alcohol awareness classes can help the public better understand a silent killer named alcohol, and help those in need to change before the silent killers takes them, or worse, causes the drinker to take the life of another.

As you can see, there are several ways that alcohol awareness classes can help teach an individual of any age how to overcome dependency, and the effects on the body that it can cause. After years of abuse, no matter how old you are, the body's organs will begin to shut down. Public classes on California alcohol awareness will raise the chances that people have, especially the young, of avoiding and/or overcoming alcohol dependence.

If you feel that you may have a drinking problem, then classes are a great first step to overcoming your addiction. AA groups are also a handy step in helping the young and old drinkers overcome their problem. An 8 hour alcohol awareness class is another viable option.

There may never be a law requiring alcohol awareness classes for the public, but if you find yourself or a friend in need of a class, then there are online options to consider. They are affordable and can be done from the comfort of your own home.

Friday, 16 December 2011

Addiction Treatment Is Not a Cure for Addiction: Why Relapse Is So Common

Every time I hear that another celebrity has died from addiction to drugs or alcohol, my first thought is -- why didn't anybody care enough to help? It's instinctual and I am often humbled later when I discover that people did actually try to help...sometimes more than once. Yet, the next time somebody dies I find myself asking the same question again and, inevitably, run into the same troubling answer. The fact is, many people who die from substance abuse, whether from an overdose or long-term systemic toxic damage, usually have entered rehab (sometimes more than once) and gotten clean for at least some period of time. Yet, they still end up dying from their disease.
 
As I see it, the problem is three-fold. First, current best practices in addiction medicine advocate a period of treatment that is far too short to effectuate long-term recovery for many patients (actually, the recommended treatment is based on what insurance carriers are willing to cover). Second, once a patient has recovered we assume they are cured and fail to adequately plan for inevitable relapse. Finally, there may be people in the addict's life who benefit more from the person's active addiction than recovery.
 
Treatment Periods Are Inadequate
 
Although the standard "28-day" rehab has, over the years, steadily climbed to the emerging "90-day" program, it is still too short for many patients. Unfortunately, these "recovery" periods are often dictated by finances or insurers and have little to do with what the patient actually needs. In the case of celebrities who can afford longer treatment, it is hard to convince them they need more than what insurance-dependent addicts typically get. They often fear they will harm their career if they stay out of the spotlight for too long.
 
Addiction treatment entails much more than just getting the patient to stop using drugs or alcohol. For most patients, the abuse will re-occur unless they can understand both why they became addicted in the first place and how they can prevent it from happening again. And, even then, relapse is still likely. Given this reality, it is bizarre to think that years and even decades of substance abuse could be adequately addressed in a month or two of treatment.
 
Instead of viewing addiction as a chronic, life-long disorder (like diabetes or heart disease) that needs long-term follow-up treatment, the current model equates the initial treatment as the "cure" and leaves the patient to figure it out for themselves after that. However, without long-term monitoring, the support of ongoing therapy, and peer-support found in SMART Recovery or 12-step meetings, the chances of resuming bad habits when back in the "real" world seem inevitable, especially when we consider that addiction is marked by nearly insurmountable physical cravings. It is no wonder that the success rate of "treatment" is so abysmally low: we have made treatment a discrete period of time rather than an ongoing process. We don't have regular "check-ups" like we do for other diseases and we certainly don't have any consensus on long-term maintenance like we do for heart disease and other life-long ailments.
 
The Need for Ongoing Support & Treatment
 
Even with an adequate length of treatment and the availability of follow-up support, ongoing recovery requires co-operation from family, friends, and sometimes even employees or employers. If everybody is not onboard with lasting sobriety, even the most motivated person can relapse. Due to the level of media interest, we see this phenomenon most often with celebrities. In some cases, people want to keep an addict using because it benefits them. In other cases they are too afraid of angering the addict to intervene in ongoing substance abuse. The allure of being part of the celebrity's inner circle can create quite a moral hazard.
 
When a celebrity or wealthy person is battling addiction, we see both opportunists and yes-men. The opportunist benefits from active addiction either because the person is easier to get along with or easier to manipulate. This is especially true when a person close to the addict is getting away with something (such as embezzlement) or controlling a situation that would not be possible if the celebrity were clear-headed and sober. The yes-man does not want to do anything that would make them fall out of favor with the celebrity and cause them to lose their position, be it a family member, friend or employee. While yes-men often see that there is a problem that needs to be addressed, their own short-sighted self-interest will prevent them from doing anything about it.
 
Unfortunately, many celebrities become quite comfortable with an entourage of yes-men or sycophants who protect them from the realities of their behavior. If they are insecure they crave attention from people who would do anything to be in their presence. If they are addicted they are drawn to people who will look the other way or make their addiction easier by obtaining drugs for them. While most people would soon find themselves friendless or out of funds, celebrities can behave very badly for much longer.
 
Is Relapse Inevitable?
 
The truth is, relapse is part of recovery for many with addiction. The attitude has thus-far been "treatment failed." The truth is drug rehab treatment was probably too short and follow-up care is largely nonexistent in the addiction medicine field. As a society we have long bemoaned the costs of addiction, yet we have done little to change attitudes. The medical community has pushed addiction treatment into a sub-sub-specialty that is so "specialized" most doctors get zero training in identifying or intervening when a patient develops an addiction. We have mainly paid lip service to the disease model of addiction and still consider it "willful negligence" or some sort of moral failing. This approach has clearly failed. Until we truly change our attitudes, relapse will indeed, for most, be inevitable.


Thursday, 15 December 2011

This Drug Is Not the "Spice" of Life

"Variety is the very spice of life," was originally said by English poet William Cowper in the 1700's. In the early 20th century another British author said, "Variety is not the spice of life. It is the very stuff of it." Then for some comic relief to this phrase, comedian and host of the Tonight Show, Johnny Carson, "If variety is the spice of life, marriage is the big can of left over Spam." The drug Spice is not life at all. If you haven't heard of Spice before, here's a crash course:

It is a new synthetic drug in the family of cannabinoids on the market since 2006.
The generic name is K 2.
This drug acts similar to THC except that it is anywhere between 3x - 800x the potency of THC.
It can be purchased on the internet or at convenience stores, head shops, or truck stops.
Its cost is relatively cheap, about $20-60 for 1-3 grams.
It is hard to test this synthetic. This is appealing to anyone needing a clean UA-people in prison, rehab, military and on probation.
The variability of substances present in each batch makes it virtually impossible to test for use.
Other names: Yucatan Fire, Sence, Chill X, Dragon, Spice Gold, Spice Silver or Spice Diamond.
Take 1/10 gram and put it into a bong, take 3-6 hits and the synthetic drug effect starts immediately and produces up to an 8 hour high. Some feel the effect for 24 hours.
Users report the high feels like marijuana but with hallucinations possible.

From the outline above, no wonder its growing popularity, especially the part about undetected UA's when using Spice. It's cheap and relatively easy to get. The effects are quicker and greater than other similar substances.

The evolution of Spice's presence on the market is interesting. In 1995, Dr. John Hoffman, professor of Organic Chemistry at Clemson University (SC) conducted research on effects of cannabinoids on the brain. In order to do this, he developed a synthetic cannabinoid (JWH-018) for use in the study. A paper was published including the formula for the chemicals used to create the synthetic and the rest is history, as they say. Enterprising individuals used the formula to replicate the compound JWH-018. Then it was sprayed on dried leaves, flower, herbs and tobacco.

In keeping with the saying, "Variety is the Spice of Life"; the drug Spice has a lot of variety that actually are spices and herbs. It may contain none, some, most, or all of the listed ingredients: Baybean, Blue Lotus, Lion's Tail, Lousewort, Mugwort, Indian Warrior, Dwarf Skullcap, Maconha Brava, Sassafrass, Pink Lotus, Marshmallow, Red Clover, Nutmeg, Rose, Siberian Motherwort, Damiana, Canavalia Maritime, Leonotis Leonurus, Leonurus Sibiricus, Passion Flower, Vanilla Planifolia, Zorinia Latifolia, Magnolia Officinalis, Sage, Rosa Gallica, or Trifolium. The drug Spice will also contain a synthetic or combination of synthetics sprayed onto the mixture but with little to no chemical smell; it would be more like a potpourri smell.

The drug Spice binds to the same receptor sites as cannabis and creates a similar effect in the user. However, the potential for longer than normal psychoactive effects is due to longer half-lives of chemicals and full binding at receptor sites versus partial binding of THC. Spice also causes seizures, anxiety, agitation, and dangerously increased blood pressure and heart rates, but there is little known regarding detailed pharmacology and toxicology.

There are numerous reports of addiction to Spice. Withdrawal symptoms are common to other drug withdrawal and include: night sweats, internal unrest, tremors, palpitations, insomnia, headaches, diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting. Not enough is known in places where treatment takes place because of its newness.

The DEA and states are scrambling to make it a Schedule 1 Controlled Substance for legal reason. The US military has banned possession and use and it is also banned in Chile, France, Germany, S. Korea, Sweden and Switzerland. Unfortunately, those of us in the substance abuse, rehabilitation and legal systems know from experience that within weeks of state bans, new varieties of Spice which skirt the legal issues will be marketed. Being aware of new developments and sharing developments helps all of us combat drug abuse and addiction.

Olive E. Hinnant is an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ. In her 22 years of ministry she has served in urban, suburban and rural churches; in hospitals, hospice and retirement communities; as well as teaching in higher education. She holds degrees from Trinity University, BA, Princeton Theological Seminary, Master of Divinity and Iliff School of Theology, Doctor of Ministry. In 2011 she began working as a Chaplain at Parker Valley Hope, in Parker Colorado, just outside of Denver. This is one of 9 rehabilitation centers in the Valley Hope Association, a nationally-recognized, nonprofit organization dedicated to providing quality chemical dependency treatment services at an affordable price. Other Valley Hope facilities are in Arizona, Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas and Nebraska. She and her partner reside in Aurora CO with their very joyful and active 5 year-old son.