Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Substance abuse clinic closing

SAUGERTIES - A local alcohol and substance abuse clinic plans to permanently close its doors Friday.

Catskill Mountain Counseling on U.S. Route 9W notified the state last month that it would be voluntarily surrendering its operating certificate, according to Dianne Henk, director of communications for the state Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services. She said the local clinic notified the state of its intentions to close in a letter received July 31. Since that time, the state agency has been working with the clinic on a termination plan, Henk said.

Henk said the termination plan is created to make sure patients have appropriate care at a new location. As part of the plan, arrangements need to be made to protect the patients' medical records, she said. The facility is currently treating 35 clients, Henk said.

"What will happen now is the clients will be given a choice of other programs to go to," Henk said. She said there are three other clinics in the area, one of which is in Kingston, that could serve the needs of Catskill Mountain Counseling's clients.

Catskill Mountain Counseling serves as an outpatient alcoholism and substance abuse clinic. It provides a full range of treatments for alcoholics and addicts, as well as their families. Treatment is offered to individuals, couples, families and groups, though clinic owner Margot Molnar said most of the treatment has been provided on an individual basis.

"It's just time to close," Molnar said last week of the clinic. She said the clinic has been in business for the past 10 years and is happy to have served the community. Molnar said the clinic hopes its clients will stay "nice and clean and sober" in the future.

Henk said Ulster County's Mental Health Department may look to replace the clinic with a similar facility. She said the county's mental health commissioner has a subcommittee that deals with addiction issues and determines if there is a need for this type of clinic. If there is a need, the county would reach out to find one, Henk said. She said once a provider is found, the state Office of Alcohol and Substance Abuse Services would certify the program. Henk said the agency certifies all addiction programs in the state.

The state Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services had been investigating a complaint against Catskill Mountain Counseling, agency spokeswoman Jennifer Farrell said. She said the investigation has been substantially completed and a preliminary findings report regarding service quality and regulatory compliance was being drafted. That report, however, will not be made public because the clinic is closing, Farrell said. She said the clinic's closing concludes the investigation. If the investigation had gone forward, the clinic would have had the opportunity to respond to the report if it had desired to do so, Farrell added.
source: Daily Freeman,

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Humane way to tackle addiction

Ever heard of addiction psychiatry? It’s new in the medical field. Addiction psychiatrist Dr. Sanju George loves his job and the satisfaction that he derives from it is his greatest payoff. The reason that I am sitting with Dr. George is that he recently won the ‘Hospital Doctor’ Award in the United Kingdom in his field of work.

Dr. George (and “my team”, he insists) was chosen for the award for the innovation that he brought into the treatment of alcoholics and drug addicts. Traditionally treatment for substance misuse would be provided by a specialist and what Dr. George (and his team) has done is introduced the concept of ‘shared care’. Dr. George heads ‘The Bridge’. The Bridge is the specialist drug service in Solihull, part of the Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health Trust.

Innovation is what led him and his team to evolve this system of ‘shared care’ where the General Practitioner can treat an addict rather than referring him to a specialist. “Obviously there is stigma attached to addiction treatment. GPs do not want drug addicts walking in for treatment. What we are doing is encouraging them to treat addicts. We provide training, supervision and support.” Apparently unlike here where we head straight to a specialist the moment we suspect something, there everybody has to visit a GP who then decides where the sick person should be headed. The treatment would therefore be comprehensive because the patient gets holistic care. Drug addiction is accompanied by several other problems,” says Dr. George. Besides, according to him, there are fewer stigmas attached when an addict is treated at the level of GP. Of course if things get difficult at the GP’s then the specialist team steps in and takes over.

Family involved

Humaneness is what marks the system, the understanding that there are other people – the family – involved. In a gesture seldom done in foreign countries, Dr. George has handed his mobile number to his patients and their families. “It is fairly traumatic for family members when they have to bail a family member out of jail or any other problem. It is therefore good to establish a therapeutic relationship with the family too because they too need empathy and understanding,” he says. All said and done, he admits that this is no magic formula, but this is one formula that has worked or is working although there are occasional failures.

Would a system like that work in India? “I am not qualified to make a comment on that because I am not familiar with what the system is here.”

He has been at the Bridge, based in Birmingham for the last three years. Dr George did his schooling at Rajagiri School and pre-degree from Maharaja’s College before heading to St Johns, Bangalore for his MBBS and then to the United Kingdom for higher studies where he specialised in Addiction Psychiatry.

Addiction psychiatry is in its nascence. “There is a lot of scope to do things, whether it is innovative or research.”

Coming back to his payoff? “It is as I said. The satisfaction, of course I am at a privileged position of having the time as well to spend time with my patients, of being allowed to do this.” When he is not at The Bridge, Dr. George does research and he also teaches at the Birmingham Medical School.

Working in a place where 99 per cent of the population is white, has the colour of his skin been a problem? “I have never experienced discrimination because of my race, when a patient walks in my door for treatment I don’t think my race becomes the issue,” says Dr. George. How about coming back home? Dr. George stops, pauses, thinks and says, “Maybe. Sometimes I do think about doing something for my people but there are several things that have to be considered,” he signs off.
© Copyright 2000 - 2008 The Hindu,

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

B.C. government to help fund Mission addiction centre

The provincial government will provide a one-time grant of $650,000 to the Salvation Army's Cordula and Gunter Paetzold Rehabilitation Centre.

The centre, located northeast of Mission, is one of Canada's most recognized addiction treatment facilities, Housing and Social Development Minister Rich Coleman said in a news release.

The funding will go toward operating the centre's 90-day residential treatment and recovery program for men with alcohol and drug addictions.

The centre, which receives referrals from physicians, hospitals, regional detoxification centers, community agencies and other Salvation Army programs, admitted more than 700 men in 2007.

The funding is in addition to annual provincial funding of just over $768,000 provided through the Emergency Shelter Program, Coleman said.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

NY prohibits smoking in addiction recovery centers

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — Many drug addicts, problem gamblers and alcoholics may find it harder to kick their habits in New York now that the state has become the first in the country to ban smoking at all recovery centers.

Some addicts say losing the tobacco crutch could keep them from getting clean and sober, or from trying at all.

New York's 13 state-run addiction treatment centers have been tobacco free for more than 10 years. New regulations that take effect Thursday will also apply to private treatment centers. Some are worried that people who need help for drugs and alcohol won't pursue it because they aren't ready to quit smoking.

Bryan Lapsker, a 21-year-old PCP addict from Brooklyn who has been getting help for his addiction at a treatment center in Queens for nearly nine months, has been dreading the change every day.

"Nicotine helps (addicts) get through the day," he said. "Now you take the nicotine away from us, it's almost impossible to get through the day ... addiction is addiction, I understand that, but nicotine is a legal substance."

Legal or not, state officials behind the new rules believe banning tobacco is critical to successful treatment programs.

"Often times smoking was given as a reward in the day-to-day treatment programs, and we need to make sure that we're changing the culture to really promote an overall recovery plan that involves health and wellness for the optimal chance for recovery," said Karen Carpenter-Palumbo, the commissioner of the New York Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services.

About one in five New Yorkers smoke, compared to nine in 10 chemically dependent New Yorkers, she said.

Addicts are more likely to have long-term success if they quit smoking at the same time they enter treatment, Carpenter-Palumbo said.

A 2004 study in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology found that smoking cessation intervention provided during addiction treatment was associated with a 25 percent better chance of maintaining long term abstinence from alcohol and drugs.

Thomas Carr, the manager of national policy at the American Lung Association, said he's not aware of any other states that have taken this kind of action — although individual facilities around the country have eliminated smoking and offered cessation help.

An $8 million grant from the New York Department of Health will help train employees to deal with treating nicotine dependence and provide free nicotine replacements.

Providers say that's a start, but it won't pay for everything the mandate requires.

If people leave treatment because of the new rules it could create "an economic crisis for the field," said John Coppola, executive director of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Providers.

Treatment facilities will have a six-month grace period in which tobacco use won't be a factor in whether their certification is renewed. They will also be able to develop their own plans to become tobacco-free and decide at what point an addict would have to leave for violating the rules.

Robert Doherty, the executive director at St. Peter's Addiction Recovery Center in Albany, said the new regulations are more fair to facilities that have already prohibited smoking in the interest of their patients.

Doherty said St. Peters has had few problems since banning smoking in May 2006.

"I think it's a more healthy approach to providing care, it's a more useful approach to treating addiction ... it just seems to be a responsible thing to do," he said.

OASAS estimates that 250,000 addicts in New York are in non-state-run addiction treatment centers and could be affected by the change. Some of those facilities already have nonsmoking policies.

Roy Kearse is the vice president of residential services at Samaritan Village, the Queens-based long-term treatment facility where Lapsker and other addicts get treatment at multiple locations.

While Kearse supports eliminating tobacco use among addicts, he is concerned the zero-tolerance policy could discourage some from seeking help.

"We don't know how many people will leave, if any at all will leave," Kearse said. "But we did have patients who said 'I didn't come in here to deal with my smoking addiction, I came in here for my heroin addiction, or my addiction to crack.'"

Lapsker, getting treatment through a court-ordered mandate, says he is grateful for his time at Samaritan. But he said if he faces a potential relapse after leaving the facility he will "definitely not" go seek help because he doesn't want to quit smoking.

"I look forward to my every cigarette that I smoke," Lapsker said. "That's what gets me through the day, through the stress, through the pressure."
source: Associated Press

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Horizon Village to expand mental health, addiction services for veterans

War veterans in Western New York who are recovering from alcohol and drug addiction will soon have additional help with the construction of a 25-bed addition at Horizon Village in Sanborn.

Construction of the $3 million building, next to the existing 50-bed residential facility at 6301 Inducon Drive East on Horizon's 11-acre campus, is scheduled to begin early in the fall and be completed next spring.

As many as 85 percent of veterans in Western New York are not receiving the treatment they need, Commissioner Karen M. Carpenter-Palumbo of the state's substance abuse office said Tuesday.

"The development of this facility at Horizon Village will offer timely access to specialized services for veterans and their families desperate for the help they need and deserve," she said.

About 40 percent of veterans who have served in Iraq or Afghanistan will experience a mental health problem, and 60 percent of those will experience issues with chemical dependency, according to the National Association of Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Counselors.

"Currently, there can be a four to six week wait for a bed at Horizon Village," said Paige Prentice, the executive director.

The 22,000-square-foot treatment facility will provide specialized chemical dependency and mental health services for veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury. Residents will have full access to Horizon Village's broad range of services, including pre-vocational preparation and on- and off-site educational opportunities.

Further information is available at Horizon's Web site:
source: The Buffalo News

Monday, July 21, 2008

Overindulgence Of Alcohol Encouraged By Loud Music

Commercial venues are very aware of the effects that the environment - in this case, music - can have on in-store traffic flow, sales volumes, product choices, and consumer time spent in the immediate vicinity. A study of the effects of music levels on drinking in a bar setting has found that loud music leads to more drinking in less time.

Results will be published in the October issue of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research and are currently available at Early View.

"Previous research had shown that fast music can cause fast drinking, and that music versus no music can cause a person to spend more time in a bar," said Nicolas Guéguen, a professor of behavioral sciences at the Université de Bretagne-Sud in France, and corresponding author for the study. "This is the first time that an experimental approach in a real context found the effects of loud music on alcohol consumption."

Researchers discretely visited two bars for three Saturday evenings in a medium-size city located in the west of France. The study subjects, 40 males 18 to 25 years of age, were unaware that they were being observed; only those who ordered a glass of draft beer (25 cl. or 8 oz.) were included. With permission from the bar owners, observers would randomly manipulate the sound levels (either 72 dB, considered normal, or 88 dB, considered high) of the music in the bar (Top 40 songs) before choosing a participant. After the observed participant left the bar, sound levels were again randomly selected and a new participant was chosen.

Results showed that high sound levels led to increased drinking, within a decreased amount of time.

Guéguen and his colleagues offered two hypotheses for why this may have occurred. "One, in agreement with previous research on music, food and drink, high sound levels may have caused higher arousal, which led the subjects to drink faster and to order more drinks,"" said Guéguen. "Two, loud music may have had a negative effect on social interaction in the bar, so that patrons drank more because they talked less."

In France, observed Guéguen, more than 70,000 persons per year die because of chronic alcohol consumption, and alcohol is associated with the majority of fatal car accidents. "We have shown that environmental music played in a bar is associated with an increase in drinking," he said. "We need to encourage bar owners to play music at more of a moderate level ... and make consumers aware that loud music can influence their alcohol consumption."
source: Medical News Today

Friday, July 18, 2008

Groups file human rights complaint over treatment of Vancouver's homeless

VANCOUVER — Private security guards that patrol downtown Vancouver on the lookout for crimes and other social ills violate the rights of drug addicts and the homeless, says a complaint to be filed Thursday with the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal.

The complaint alleges the guards hired by the Downtown Vancouver Business Improvement Association and known as "downtown ambassadors," unfairly harass addicts and limit their access to public spaces.

The unarmed guards' role, according to the association's website, includes assisting the public with directions and other questions, monitoring and deterring crimes in public spaces and reporting crime and "quality of life" concerns.

The complaint by the Pivot Legal Society, the Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users and the United Native Nations claims the guards discriminate based on the disabilities of addiction and mental illness.

And they say the guards' actions disproportionately affect aboriginals.

In particular, the groups complain the guards order people sitting or laying on the sidewalk to move and try to prevent people from looking for recyclables in dumpsters.

They say the guards follow and stare at people they find "undesirable" and take photographs and notes for unknown purposes.

"Each of the above-noted tactics individually and collectively have the effect of 'humiliating' and 'shaming' homeless people who have equal legal access to public spaces, including sidewalks and back lanes," says the complaint, which contains allegations that haven't been tested in court.

No one from the business association was immediately available for comment.

The groups note the guards enjoy a sanctioned position of authority, but don't have any special legal mandate or protection.

They ask the commission to declare that the guards are violating the province's human rights code and order them to stop.

And they want the commission to order the business association to pay $20 each to people affected by their actions. They also ask the association to pay the costs of pursuing their complaint.

The security-guard program started eight years ago and has expanded with the blessing of Vancouver's city council.

The downtown ambassadors, along with the business association's loss-prevention programs, have a budget $961,000 for 2007-2008 - nearly 60 per cent of the association's entire budget.

The business association is funded through a levy imposed on the municipal property taxes of downtown commercial properties.

Abuse treatment program praised

A man who's helped implement substance abuse recovery programs throughout the world says the Baldy Hughes Therapeutic Community near Prince George is on the right track to success.

"I can't tell you how impressed I am with this therapeutic community" and how much it's achieved in a short time, said Fred Tent, who has been leading a five-day conference at the site, located 27 kilometres southwest of Prince George.
"It usually takes from three to five years to establish a (therapeutic) community so it's stable enough to stimulate those who come into it," said Tent, who attributes the success of the first seven months to the leadership and vision of Vancouver-Burrard MLA Lorne Mayencourt, who founded the program.
The focus of the conference is to learn and understand how and why a therapeutic community with a three-year program works for those recovering from drug and alcohol addiction.

"Forty years of research on people with addiction problems shows (during recovery) that up to 90 days there is no change at all. After that, then you start to see some slight changes, and at 12 months, you can start to accomplish things. The longer they stay, the better," Tent said.
The conference attracted about 45 administrators, directors, parole officers and other resource people from around the province.
"My hope is that they go home with an understanding of the model and how it can be used throughout the province," said Tent. "The unique thing is that we also have 15 residents (at the sessions), who I hope will gain a better understanding and ability to assess their own situation."

Mayencourt, who participated in the conference lectures, workshops and group sessions, said there are now 23 residents from across the province in the program.
"We'll have 30 in September, but right now we are stabilizing the community. We still have problems, but we are growing. I've learned the community is consistently better the closer we walk and work together. Whether staff or residents, we are all one family," Mayencourt said.
Among first residents were Stefani Meinster and Jeremy Ward, who became the parents of a baby boy in May.
The couple has left the community and is now back in the Lower Mainland, Mayencourt said.
"I'm just glad they were here six months and had time to stabilize their lives," he said.

Another resident, Ken Young of Prince George, has been there since the beginning and says he is committed to stay for the long haul. He said he's doing well both physically and mentally, and is connecting more closely with family members.
Tent said the former military base and radar station location is "a perfect setting" for the three-year program due its distance from the city and the facilities available.

He added the need for rehabilitation of the site buildings, being done by residents, will give them a strong sense of ownership and belonging, and he expects a number of successful clients will become staff members and continue to work at the site.
Mayencourt modeled the centre on the San Patrignano Community in Italy, which during 30 years of operation, has treated more than 20,000 people. Research found that 72 per cent of the clients remained drug-free after stays of at least two years.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Neighborhood rallies against methadone clinic

SEABROOK — Residents of the Pineo Farms subdivision came with their neighbors, spouses and even toddlers to tell the Planning Board how much they didn't want the proposed methadone clinic on Stard Road within 1,000 feet of their homes.

The use may be allowed in the industrial zone where the clinic is planned at 18 Stard Road, they said, but the families who have settled into the houses built on the former Pineo Farm fear their lives will never be the same if the clinic opens. They fear drug-addicted patients using the methadone clinic will endanger the lives of their children, bring crime and more traffic to the area off Route 107 and Interstate 95, and lower their property values, they said.

"I worry for the safety of my daughter," said Pineo Farms resident Tim Reeves at a hearing Tuesday night, holding his toddler in his arms. "If anything happened to my daughter, it would break my heart. I can't see how the risks (to her safety) wouldn't increase if something like this (clinic) is allowed into this place. Here, look at my daughter."

Assurances from Colonial Management Group, the company proposing the clinic, that such fears have not become reality in communities where their clinics are did nothing to assuage residents.

According to Colonial's development director, Joseph Sullivan, Seabrook was chosen for the location of this clinic because of the town's already high drug-related crime statistics, as well as its "well-known drug problem" and shortage of drug treatment facilities.

Although Julio Carrillo doesn't live in Pineo Farms, as a person formerly addicted to drugs, he told the Planning Board substituting methadone for heroin is no way to end someone's drug dependency. Addicts should go through a painful withdrawal, he said, so they remember not to fall into addiction again.

Carrillo, whose comments hushed the crowd, was praised and thanked for his courage in coming forward by Planning Board Chairwoman Susan Foote. The issue of whether methadone is or isn't effective in treating drug addiction, however, isn't one the Planning Board has any authority to address. The Planning Board handles land-use concerns, Foote repeatedly told Carrillo and others in the audience.

When Foote asked abutters to present evidence for their fearful speculations, they had no statistics to offer, but residents insisted their angst was real.

Pineo Farms resident James Prentice said his friend is being treated with methadone for drug addiction. Some do well on the program, but others abuse the program and get cut off from the methadone that quells their drug craving. They then become desperate for the money to buy illegal drugs like heroin and resort to stealing from those near the clinic, Prentice said.

"This clinic is going to place an extra burden on the Police Department and the taxpayers," Prentice said. "We're concerned about our welfare and our well-being and hope (the board) will consider our feelings. This is a neighborhood. It may be industrial, but it's a mixed bag (of businesses and homes)."

The expectation Colonial Management Group and King Weinstein, the owner of the land, would sue the town if turned down didn't worry Prentice.

"Go ahead and let them sue and let's see what happens," Prentice said.

Selectman and Planning Board member Bob Moore said he understands the neighbors' concerns. No one buys a house near an industrial zone and expects a methadone clinic to move in, Moore said. But, given the clinic would be in a multioffice professional building — a use allowed in the industrial zone, according to Seabrook's zoning rules — keeping the methadone clinic out because of neighbors' undocumented fears is most likely beyond the authority of the Planning Board or any other official, Moore said.

Before continuing the hearing to Aug. 5 for more research, Foote tried several times to explain the Planning Board's authority and limitations on the issue. As long as Weinstein builds his 9,000-square-foot office building to the specifications required by regulations for parking, traffic, lighting, utilities and storm water management, the board has little power to refuse approval. Weinstein can then lease 4,500 square feet to the clinic, Foote said, or any other medical professional or business as long as it's a legal enterprise with the appropriate licenses.

Former Selectman and current Planning Board member Bette Thibodeau said this isn't the first time Seabrook residents feared a new business in town.

"We've had this problem when the (Greyhound) racetrack wanted to come in, and we had it when the (nuclear) power plant wanted to come in," Thibodeau told the neighbors. "These things happen. You can't always say 'no' just because you don't like something."

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Counseling During Drug Addiction Treatment Reduces Unsafe Sexual Behavior Among People At Risk of HIV, Study Finds

Counseling about sexual behavior during drug addiction treatment could help reduce unsafe sexual behavior among people at risk of HIV in Russia, according to a study recently published in the journal Addiction, ANI/New Kerala reports. According to ANI/New Kerala, the researchers focused on "substance-dependent" individuals in Russia because alcohol use is highly pervasive in the country, and it has been linked with risky sexual behavior.

For the study, Jeffrey Samet -- chief of general internal medicine at Boston University School of Medicine and Boston Medical Center -- and colleagues compared the current method used to reduce unsafe sexual behavior in standard addiction treatment programs in the country with the Russian Partnership To Reduce the Epidemic via Engagement in Narcology Treatment, or PREVENT, intervention program. People living with or without HIV were randomly assigned either to the PREVENT or standard program. PREVENT sessions took place at a hospital in Russia and involved obtaining HIV test results, discussions of personal risk and the creation of a behavioral change plan. In addition, researchers explained to the PREVENT participants the risk reduction plan to promote safer sex, which includes condom use, sex negotiation skills, development of positive attitudes regarding safer sex, and emphasizing the role of alcohol and drugs in impairing decisions. Participants in the standard program received HIV testing but did not receive counseling. People who tested positive in the standard program received a 20-minute HIV post-test counseling session that included creating risk reduction goals and a referral to an HIV care program. All participants were given condoms when leaving the hospital, according to ANI/New Kerala.

The researchers contacted the participants by phone for three months and at six months to assess their personal long-term risk reduction goals and plans, ANI/New Kerala reports. The researchers found that after six months, participants in the PREVENT program had a higher percentage of safer sex, compared with the participants in the standard treatment program. "Both control and intervention groups had improvements in the percentage of safe[r]-sex occurrences, restraining from unprotected sex and increasing condom use between baseline and the three month follow-up," Samet said, adding, "While the intervention group maintained or improved their safe[r]-sex behaviors at the six month follow-up, the standard addiction treatment group worsened." The researchers noted that the results suggest an HIV intervention program targeting the sexual behaviors of alcohol and drug users is feasible and effective at increasing safer sex.