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.

Monday, July 14, 2008

France to crack down on under-age binge drinking

France will ban the sale of alcohol to minors and drinking in public near schools as part of a broad crackdown on binge drinking among youths, the health minister said in an interview published on Sunday.

Roselyne Bachelot said that a recent study showed an over all decline in alcohol consumption among youths but the frequency of drunkenness was increasing.

"Almost half of youths said they had had five glasses of alcohol on a single night on at least one occasion in the previous 30 days, which is the definition of binge drinking," she said in an interview with Journal du Dimanche newspaper.

She said she was working on a new bill that would also ban promotions known as "open bar" which allow customers to drink as much as they want to for a fixed price.

"We are also going to ban open bars ... which are a classic at student parties and which encourage binge drinking," Bachelot said.

She said the number of under-25s hospitalised because of excessive drunkenness had doubled between 2004 and 2007.

"Drinking alcohol in public places close to schools will also be forbidden," she said.

She told the newspaper that at present there was a grey area surrounding sales of alcoholic drinks to teenagers aged 16 to 18, with different rules depending on the kind of alcohol and whether the sales point was a bar, a club or a supermarket.

She said her bill would unambiguously ban any sale of alcohol to under-18s anywhere in France.

Another measure will be to ban sales of alcohol in filling stations. Bachelot said that at present, such a ban exists only from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. and the new rule should help curb drunk driving.

Bachelot said the measures, which she expected will come into force in 2009, would be accompanied by an advertising campaign featuring youths in a heavenly environment that turns hellish after they have been drinking.

In May, a government body in charge of fighting drug and alcohol addiction said it was considering banning "happy hours" during which bars offer cheaper drinks early in the evening to attract customers. Bachelot's interview made no mention of this.
source: International Herald Tribune

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Weighing in on the alcohol issue

The toughest question about alcohol today isn't whether to shake or stir that martini. It's whether it's going to hurt or help your health. If you've been following the news about alcohol, it's enough to give you whiplash: One study says it's good; the next says it's bad. It depends on the study's perspective. For instance, alcohol is bad for your liver and increases your risk of diseases like breast cancer. But it's good for your arteries. So there's always a tradeoff.

Still, if you're female, you might wonder if it's ever safe, thanks to recent studies that found that two daily drinks raise your risk for the most common types of breast cancer by a scary 32 percent. Three drinks a day raise these odds by 50 percent.

But then there's the healthy side of alcohol: Moderate drinking can cut your risk of cardiovascular disease by 25 percent to 40 percent. That's because the ethanol in a 1990 Bordeaux, a Bud or any other alcoholic drink increases good cholesterol and discourages blood clots. It also may have an anti-inflammatory effect on plaque. True, red wine has special antioxidants (quercetin, catechins and resveratrol) that combat the inflammation and free radicals that make a mess of blood vessel walls. But mouse studies suggest it would take about 180 bottles of red wine a day to do your vessels any good. So it's probably the alcohol that benefits your arteries. And healthier arteries mean fewer heart attacks, strokes, wrinkles, senior moments - plus better sexual function for men. What about the new study linking a glass of wine a day (wine only; not beer or liquor) to lower risks of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, the No. 1 liver ailment in the U.S.? It's much too early to toast to that. More studies need to be done to see if the link holds up.

So should you sample that pinot noir or not? Someday, a genetic test may help you decide that. For now, here are the five best ways to get alcohol's health benefits without the risks:

1. Set your limits and stick to them. That means one-half to one drink per day for typical women and one to two for men. Men can safely drink a little more because they have an enzyme that metabolizes alcohol in their stomach lining - when most men have two drinks, only one is absorbed.

2. If you're a woman, weigh and balance. Some docs believe that women who are premenopausal, have a family history of breast cancer or are cancer survivors or are thinking about becoming pregnant simply shouldn't drink. (Definitely don't drink if you're already expecting.) On the other hand, heart disease - not breast cancer - is the No. 1 killer of women. Balance, ah, that's the key. If you're at average risk for breast cancer but high risk for ticker trouble, a drink a day might be a helpful addition to the other heart-healthy steps we know you're taking.

3. If you don't drink already, don't start. Especially if you have a family history of drug or alcohol abuse. Alcohol's risks range from addiction to overindulging enough to cause high blood pressure, strokes, heart failure, liver problems and car accidents. There are plenty of other ways to get its protective benefits against heart disease, wrinkles, memory gaps and erectile dysfunction.

The three biggies: Stay active, maintain a healthy weight and eat smart - avoid saturated and trans fats; simple sugars and syrups; and any grain that isn't 100 percent whole.

4. Think small. French fries and clothing sizes aren't the only things that have been supersized. Drinks have gotten huge, too, thanks in part to extra-large barware. Stick to official amounts: 1 glass of wine is 5 ounces (that's little); one beer is 12 ounces; 1 cocktail is 1.5 ounces of 80-proof spirits, such as vodka.

5. One a day doesn't mean seven on Saturday. Forget "saving up" your daily drinks for a weekend binge. The benefits vanish and alcohol turns toxic, aging your immune system and stressing your heart. Not to mention scrambling your ability to avoid waking up with someone you don't recognize or on a bus to Vegas.
source: Athens Banner-Herald

Monday, July 7, 2008

Opiate-substitution therapy quadruples treatment success in Malaysian heroin users: authors urge adoption in non-western countries

A study from Malaysia published in the June 28th edition of The Lancet has found that substitution therapy with the opiate drug, buprenorphine, tripled the length of time heroin users were able to stay “clean” compared with individuals on a placebo, and nearly quadrupled the proportion of participants who completed the trial without relapse.

An accompanying editorial states that, given these results, “the preferred oral pharmacological treatment for opioid dependence should be agonist maintenance with either methadone or buprenorphine,” and says that concerns that dispensing these drugs could swell black-market use should not outweigh “the major public-health effects of untreated opioid dependence”. Buprenorphine, like methadone, is currently illegal in Malaysia and many other countries with serious injecting drug use problems, such as Russia.

Four times as many individuals given buprenorphine completed the six-month treatment trial without relapse as individuals given naltrexone or placebo; individuals on buprenorphine took on average nearly three times as long to resume heroin use as those on placebo, and twice as long as those on naltrexone. Furthermore individuals provided with buprenorphine were able to stay completely abstinent from heroin for twice as long as those on either naltrexone or placebo.

Substitution therapy using the oral drugs methadone or buprenorphine has been standard practice as a way of trying to wean heroin users off injecting and off street drugs for years in most developed countries. However, in other parts of the world the idea of substituting one opioid for another is still seen as just substituting one addiction for another and adding more drugs into the black market. More recently the opioid antagonist naltrexone – a drug that blocks opioid receptors and so enforces a state of physiological withdrawal from heroin – has been permitted, but although some naltrexone trials report positive results, others have been neutral or negative.

This study was the first ever study in Malaysia to use an opiate agonist – a direct substitute – rather than an antagonist. In the event, the superiority of that agonist, buprenorphine, over both naltrexone and placebo was so marked that the study was terminated before time, when 70% of participants had completed their six month course.

The study involved dependent heroin users. A total of 44 were provided with buprenorphine plus a naltrexone placebo, 43 with naltrexone plus a buprenorphine placebo, and 39 with two placebos. The patients were initially given a fast six-day detox and then provided with substitution therapy or placebo. Urine tests were performed three times weekly to see if they had taken heroin.

Three primary outcome measures were used: time without any heroin use; time to relapse (being defined as three or more consecutive positive heroin tests or a positive test followed by withdrawal from the study); and time remaining on the treatment regime. One other outcome was a global score of HIV risk behaviours, which was split into drug-use and sex-related behaviours.

Patients had a mean age of 37 and were consistent heroin users, with an average of 27 days’ use in the last 30. Only a minority (approximately 41%) were current injectors, though 80% had injected at some point. Twenty-four per cent had shared needles in the last month. Twenty-two per cent were HIV-positive (with fewer in the placebo group, 13%), and the vast majority (95%) had hepatitis C. Only 7% reported consistently using condoms and a third reported having had multiple concurrent sex partners at some point.

At the time the study was terminated, individuals taking the placebo had stayed in treatment for an average of 70 days (out of a maximum possible 168); those on naltrexone for 84 days; and those on buprenorphine for 117 days. Retention was 2.15 times higher amongst buprenorphine users than those taking the placebo and some 1.55 times higher for those randomised to buprenorphine compared to naltrexone; it was 32% higher on naltrexone than placebo, but this was not statistically significant.

Patients on buprenorphine took 2.17 times longer on average to relapse than patients in the placebo arm and 1.56 times longer than patients taking naltrexone. By the end of the study, eleven out of 44 buprenorphine users were still in the study and still abstinent compared with four of those taking naltrexone and three in the placebo arm.

As indicated above, occasional one-off heroin use did not count as ‘relapse’; the mean time subjects manages to remain completely heroin free was 24 days on placebo, 42 days on naltrexone and 59 days on buprenorphine.

Sexual risk behaviours did not change at all during the study; drug-related risk behaviours (i.e. needle sharing) declined throughout the study but did not differ between treatment arms.

The authors report that their results “lend support to dissemination of maintenance treatment with buprenorphine or methadone…as an important component of an effective public-health approach for reduction of problems associated with heroin dependence.”

Schottenfeld R. et al. Maintenance treatment with buprenorphine and naltrexone for heroin dependence in Malaysia: a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. The Lancet 371: 2192-2200, 2008.

Hall W. et al. Oral substitution treatments for opioid dependence. The Lancet 371: 2150-2151, 2008.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

New Asheville clinic offers safer treatment of opioid addiction

A new clinic is making a safer alternative treatment for opioid addiction more widely available in Western North Carolina.

Crossroads Treatment Center opened in April and specializes in treating people with suboxone, a drug approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 2002.

The biggest advantage of the drug over methadone, which has traditionally been used to treat opioid addiction, may be its safety. A person cannot overdose on suboxone, and because it does not provide the same high as methadone, it is less likely to be abused.

“There are some people who do very well with methadone,” said Dr. Karl Schroeder, a psychiatrist at the VA Medical Center in Asheville. “But because it is a full-on narcotic, if you want to abuse methadone, you can take extra high doses to get blitzed on it. Methadone is one of the more dangerous things for death by overdose. With suboxone, the advantage is in safety. By itself you can’t overdose and kill yourself.”

The increased availability of the drug, a pill that can be prescribed by a doctor, may mean more people in WNC who are addicted to opioids seek treatment. The region is home to a high number of people addicted to the drugs.

Schroeder said he has prescribed suboxone to about two dozen patients at the VA. While it may be too costly for some patients, for others, suboxone helps them break their addiction.

“For many people it’s wonderful,” he said. “They talk about it as being a small miracle in their lives. … They get on suboxone, and they feel normal, and they don’t think about drugs all the time.”

Need for treatment

Dr. Elizabeth Stanton and Vicki Ittel, the former director of the Buncombe County Health Center, opened the new center to offer more treatment options for people addicted to opioids.

“There are just not enough of us,” Stanton said. “I think there’s a huge need in this community.”

WNC is home to many people addicted to prescription painkillers, and the number of people abusing these drugs nationwide increases every year.

Opioids are drugs derived from opium, like morphine, codeine and heroin, and some prescription drugs that have similar chemical properties, including oxycodone, hydrocodone and fentanyl.

“In WNC, we clearly have an increased incidence of narcotic addiction over the general population,” said Dr. Paul Martin, head of the Asheville Buncombe Drug Commission and a specialist in addiction medication.

Martin said he and others who study addiction don’t really know why more people in WNC are addicted to drugs, but what is clear is that there is a need for treatment.

Nick Reuter, a senior public health analyst at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration, said less than half of people who need treatment are getting it.

Treatment for addiction to opioids typically involved methadone. Both methadone clinics in Asheville are operating at capacity and have waiting lists, Martin said.

“We know clearly that the capacity of the methadone programs around the country are not nearly sufficient to meet the need for narcotic addiction,” he said.

Advantages of suboxone

Methadone was the prescribed treatment for opioid addiction until the Food and Drug Administration in 2002 approved two products, suboxone and subutex, which contain buprenorphine, a long-acting opioid.

In 2007, the number of patients being treated for opioid addiction with buprenorphine surpassed the number of patients being treated with methadone, Reuter said.

Methadone patients must visit a clinic daily for treatment, and some stay on methadone for the rest of their lives.

But buprenorphine-containing drugs can be prescribed by a family doctor, are taken in pill form at home and have fewer side effects. Some patients can stop taking the drugs after a few months. This makes these drugs not only more accessible for some people seeking treatment, but also a more appealing choice for some patients.

Reuter said the increased availability of suboxone and subutex has gotten more people into treatment for their addiction. He said 60 percent of patients using the drugs for treatment report never having accessed drug treatment before.

Woodlands Treatment Center in Greenville, S.C., has seen a 92 percent success rate in keeping people off of opioids over its four years of operation, Stanton said.

While some physicians in WNC are licensed to prescribe the drug, not many treat patients in large numbers, Ittel said. The required counseling that goes along with prescribing the drug can be time-consuming and hard to work into a regular medical practice, she said.

For that reason, she said Crossroads is filling a niche market in the region. The clinic is seeing about 50 patients. That number is expected to increase as more people learn about the treatment.

Potential for abuse

Although there have been reports of abuse of buprenorphine, they are fewer than abuse of other drugs in the same class, Reuter said.

Buprenorphine-containing drugs are less appealing to addicts than heroin and methadone because they don’t produce the same kind of euphoria, and when injected at high doses, the drugs can precipitate withdrawal symptoms.

“Two recent studies seem to suggest that (suboxone abuse) has leveled off and started to decrease, but the amount of suboxone dispensed every year continues to increase,” Reuter said.

Methadone still around

While buprenorphine-containing drugs have expanded treatment options, Reuter said there is a need for methadone to stay around. He said methadone is useful for people who are more highly dependent on opioids.

Suboxone also comes at a price. Reuter said suboxone treatment costs around $300 a month, compared with about $30 a month for methadone.

The Crossroads clinic charges around $275 a month, which does not cover the cost of the drug, and they do not take insurance, Stanton said.

The pill, which costs around $5 a day, is covered by insurance and government programs like Medicare and Medicaid.

Ittel said the treatment costs far less than what some people are paying to get their drugs on the street.

“It will be a nice option for a niche population, but as it is prescribed now, it won’t replace methadone programs,” he said.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

SouthCoast Recovery Debuts Gay and Lesbian Track Program

SouthCoast Recovery, a premier California alcohol and drug rehab center, announces the addition of a Gay, Lesbian, Bi-sexual, and Trans-gender (LGBT) Track to its 30, 60, 90-day and six month residential treatment programs.

SouthCoast Recovery recognizes the need for specialized drug rehab and alcohol treatment programs that address and provide support to the gay and lesbian community. Regardless of age, race or sexuality, people from all walks of life seek help for alcohol and drug addiction. Men and women in the LGBT community may struggle with issues pertinent to their sexuality that could contribute to alcohol or drug abuse. SouthCoast Recovery recognizes the need for specialized programs in drug and alcohol treatment tailored to the individual. SouthCoast Recovery provides the leading gay rehab treatment program in California, with a safe and supportive environment for those in the LGBT community, offering an assigned LGBT counselor for one-on-one sessions, individual therapy treatment targeting LGBT issues. Drug and alcohol dependency is often a symptom of underlying issues that need to be addressed on an individual basis. At our state-of-the-art facility, the finest clinical and medical physicians work together with skilled practitioners in advanced Eastern holistic therapies for the most comprehensive physical, emotional and spiritual renewal of each person.

We offer seven residential facilities, a clinical therapist, marriage & family therapist, certified drug & alcohol counselors, a medical physician, a licensed acupuncturist with a Masters in Oriental Medicine, a licensed massage therapist, sessions in primordial sound meditation, as well as, group support in the local 12-step community as a part of our gay addiction treatment program.

At SouthCoast Recovery, we believe that recovery from addiction is a transformation in all areas of life. Our Gay, Lesbian, Bi-sexual, and Trans-gender Track Program is now available during 30, 60 and 90-day residential treatment. For more information, please call Tom Petersen at (866) 847-4506 or visit

Like many noteworthy companies, SouthCoast Recovery started out of a garage in 1994 and today is one of the leading recovery centers in the nation offering advanced clinical, medical and holistic therapies in the individual treatment of drug and alcohol addiction.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Savings in alcohol, drug addiction treatment an Illusion

Nearly $18 million in state funds earmarked for alcohol and drug treatment was diverted to other uses in 2006, according to a watchdog agency report released last week.

If that sounds like a cost savings, think again.

In the same year, 1,185 men and women were sent back to prison because of probation violations. Fifty-seven percent are drug users, according to the Virginia Department of Corrections. The department expects these "technical violators" to increase to 3,000 inmates over the next five years.

This trend is one factor contributing to growth in the state's prison population, which will require Virginia to build one new prison a year for six years. Each new 1,000-bed prison will cost about $100 million to build and $25 million annually to operate.

Suddenly, an extra $18 million to help drug addicts kick the habit sounds like a good deal.

Analysts with the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission said the state is doing a poor job in evaluating which treatment and prevention programs are most effective, but it did find evidence that recidivism is lower among inmates who complete drug programs.

But drug treatment is not just for criminals behind bars. JLARC said few services are available for school dropouts and children of substance abusers. Adults indicated in a survey that they have trouble finding transportation and someone to watch their children so they can obtain drug treatment. Providers are unwilling to treat low-income people because the government-funded Medicaid program reimburses only a fraction of the true costs.

Drug treatment programs shouldn't be just about saving money. They should be motivated by the desire to save men, women and children from the misery of addiction. However, the financial benefits are clear. Eighteen million dollars won't solve all of the problems, but that money does nothing if it is left unused. A penny saved will cost Virginia far more in dollars and lives.
source: The Virginian Pilot

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Rehab center tries new therapies

Alice holds two collages that she's just pulled down from a wall in the hallway.

The collages are covered with magazine cutouts, drawings and handwritten poems representing two sides of her life.

One shows her childhood experiences with sexual abuse and her drug-ridden adulthood. The other depicts the future she's working toward during her stay at the new Guilford County Substance Abuse Treatment Center.

Alice's collages are part of the larger, creative aim of the drug and alcohol rehabilitation facility on West Wendover Avenue in High Point.

The center doesn't allow clients to identify themselves to reporters, so the News and Record could not provide their real names.

"It's amazing what you can do with a crayon," said Courtnaye Adams, who leads the treatment center's creative-therapy programs. She teaches art classes, yoga, leads meditation, facilitates group hikes and even brings in her dog for what she calls pet therapy.

"Sometimes the simplest things can help us more than we realize."

The 56-bed facility, funded by Guilford County, began opening in stages in March and will be fully operational when the last wing opens at the end of this month.

A nontraditional center run by Missouri-based Bridgeway Behavioral Health, the center only accepts addicts with no insurance and can keep clients much longer than the standard 28 days.

"One of our goals is to reduce the revolving door practice of alcoholics and addicts who seem to frequent emergency facilities," site director Mary Jane McGill said.

"If we can do that and we can help give them the long-term treatment, then our goal is to get them out there working and being taxpayers ... instead of draining the tax base."

One of the benefits of the longer rehabilitation time is that — in addition to offering traditional therapy — the center can experiment with solutions such as Adams' classes.

Adams, who has worked at the substance abuse center since April, knows from experience the value of such activities for rehabilitation. A recovered alcoholic, she said she discovered that she felt herself heal when she gardened.

"When I got in the dirt, I was OK," she said. "I would have these moments of serenity. My choices were drink, die or heal, and I chose to heal."

She said she provides a variety of creative activities for patients because each person responds to different activities.

Some of the center's other classes focus on more concrete topics. One client said classes about the brain and what drugs and alcohol do to the human body helped her understand the effects of her addiction and depression.

"I've learned how to clean out the garbage and put in the healthy stuff," she said. "They help you in every area to get you out there and back on your feet."

To prepare clients to contribute to society upon their release, the center offers classes in GED preparation, computer skills and other areas.

Staff also help patients find places to live and work after they leave.

McGill said a highly qualified and diverse staff help prepare patients to go on with their lives. One patient said he wants to go to college and become a substance-abuse counselor after he finishes treatment.

Another client said the message of the center is that patients can learn to take charge of their own futures.

"We don't have to go back to the past," she said. "We don't have to begin our lives in the past."

Monday, June 16, 2008

Freedom From Drug Addiction

He went from a cocaine and alcohol addiction, to a successful drywall businessman in Sioux Falls and Rapid City.

Greg Sands overcame his demons with a little help and a lot of determination. Now he's being honored with his name on a brand new treatment center for meth-addicted women.

His business is drywall, the company he built from the ground-up. But his passion is helping those with addiction.
"Addiction's a very subtle thing,” said Greg Sands, owner of Sands Drywall of Sioux Falls and Rapid City. “It's a process, not an event. Eventually, the addict ends up with problems in his life because of the addiction. For me, it was incarceration."

In 1989, at 31 years old, Sands was arrested for conspiring to deal cocaine, and spent two years in prison. Afterward, he moved into the Glory House in Sioux Falls.

"Have a warm spot in my heart because they helped me change my life," said Sands.

The facility is a halfway house that helps drug users shift back into the community. Sands says there's always a need for such facilities; in fact, the Glory House is now celebrating 40 years in business.

"The transition is extremely important,” he said. “If they leave incarceration and go straight to the streets, or go to a halfway house, it lowers their chance of violating by like 50%. It's a huge number."

And now, the Glory House is about to open the Sands Freedom Center, in September. It will specifically treat women addicted to meth, a fast-growing problem across the country.

"I believe the statistic is they go to prison at a rate of two to one over men."

Sands says the Freedom Center will be a top-notch facility, with both inpatient treatment for women and outpatient treatment for anyone battling meth. Between 300 and 400 people will walk through the doors every year.

"If we can teach people how to live a new way of life, it's better for society, better for our state as a whole because they're out becoming responsible, productive members of society," said Sands.

The facility is just another way Sands can reach out to people who are in the same place he was nearly 30 years ago.

His story has inspired many, and even earned him a presidential pardon from the Clinton administration back in 2001.

Since his record has been wiped clean, Sands can enter almost any institution and speak to prisoners about his experience.

"The best thing about that was that it carried a message of hope that you can change your life and you can do this too, if you're willing to do the work," Sands said.

Sands still works every day to keep his life on track, but doesn't have any regrets about the past.

"Everyone makes mistakes in their life and no one likes to experience that pain,” said Sands, “but it's those things I went through that got me to where I'm at today."

Sands says the project is close to his heart, but wouldn't have been possible without some outside help. He says Governor Mike Rounds, Senator Tim Johnson, the Glory House board of directors, staff, and volunteers, along with community leaders and businessmen all contributed in some way.

The Glory House is still raising money for the Sands Freedom Center, expected to open September 1st.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Why Is Mom in Rehab?

The actress Tatum O’Neal was arrested recently on charges of buying crack cocaine from a man on the street near her New York City home. She is a 44-year-old mother of three. She has spent years in and out of drug abuse treatment (which she chronicled in her 2004 memoir), and according to her publicist she will continue to “attend meetings” for drug and alcohol abuse.

Ms. O’Neal illustrates a disturbing trend among those being admitted to substance abuse treatment services: a growing percentage of older women are being treated for harder drugs.

Data from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration revealed that the total number of admissions to treatment services from 1996 to 2005 (the last year for which detailed data are available) stayed about the same among people under 40, but jumped 52 percent among those 40 and older. Of the 40 and older group, the rise in admissions among men was 44 percent. Among women, it was 82 percent.

(During the same span, the population in the United States age 40 and older grew by only 19 percent.)

Of these women, admissions for nonsmoked cocaine have doubled; admissions for crack cocaine have tripled; admissions for opiates other than heroin have nearly quadrupled; and admissions for methamphetamines have increased sevenfold.

These trends could grow stronger. A 2006 report by the National Institute on Drug Abuse focused on drug use among baby boomers, all of whom were 41 to 59 years old in 2005. It concluded that “the large size of this cohort, coupled with greater lifetime rates of drug use than previous generations, might result in unprecedented high numbers of older drug users in the next 15 to 20 years.”

There was a time when we thought that the biggest substance abuse threat to older women was alcoholism and abuse of prescription drugs.

Ten years ago this month, Betty Ford and the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University issued a report called “Under the Rug: Substance Abuse and the Mature Woman.” At the time, Joseph Califano, president of the center said: “Abuse and addiction to alcohol and psychoactive drugs and tobacco by women 60 and older is an inexcusable area of neglect.”

But since boomers can’t seem to shake their street-drug demons, the focus needs to shift.
source: The new York Times op-ed page.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Drug Treatment Center marks first anniversary

It’s a year to the day since eight drug addicts serving time became the first clients of Mesa County’s Summit View Drug Treatment Center.

Located on the third floor of the community corrections building in Grand Junction, the residential treatment center has seen more than 100 clients in its first year.

They’re clients like Brandon Burns, who volunteered for treatment because he kept using meth and marijuana while he was on probation. He’s coping with his past in treatment, picking at the things he’s hidden from with drugs since he was a preteen and learning how to deal with those problems sober.

“This is the longest I’ve been sober since I was 12 years old,” Burns said. “I’ve never felt this good in my life ever.”

Burns was ready to come, but Jason Thomas, who didn’t know his court sentence would bring him to the center, came in “kicking and screaming.” This was his fourth rehabilitation experience.

“I was going to fake it,” he said. He changed his mind when he saw this treatment center had more group participation and less staff control than other centers.

Group meetings with the 16-20 men living six to a room on the treatment floor happen every morning and afternoon. Clients write in a series of workbooks on topics from the connection between drugs and criminal behavior to anger management to communicating with family. Discussions are about discovering why they use drugs so they can live without drugs.

“It’s not the drugs, it’s you as a person you’re changing,” said Justin Ringold, who is transitioning out of the center.

The program isn’t for pretenders, said client Matt Onstott.

“If you do it for your sentence, it’s not going to work, you’re going to get called on it,” he said.

Optimism is common in the center, but that can wane when clients go to a community corrections floor to finish a sentence and when they get a place of their own. Justin Bohannon graduated from the center Nov. 5. He started going to the gym, took GED classes and got two jobs. But temptations outside get stronger, he said, and he ended up relapsing. He told the center he got high, and they worked with him to get him back on track.

“I knew if I went to prison I’d be in and out of prison for the rest of my life. The time comes when enough is enough,” he said. Still, it’s been “rough” to stay clean.

Helping clients transition from the center into the workforce has been a challenge, said Treatment Coordinator Jason Talley. The center now includes a short-term program, an enhanced outpatient program and a transition program to help with that, and case workers keep up with graduates and encourage them to meet new people and volunteer in the community. Talley said recidivism is low and the completion rate was 74 percent as of December.

Burton Shoebridge Jr. graduated treatment Nov. 26 and will move out of community corrections today. After spending nearly three decades in an out of prison, jail was the easy thing for Shoebridge. Living drug free in the real world was the struggle. But after treatment, he says he’s ready to try it.

“Things are going great and I’m not willing to give that up,” he said.

Counselor Bill Wimsatt said he’s heard no regrets from graduates.

“The ones I see are happy to be sober, happy to be clean. They walk up and they have a smile on their face, and that tells me enough. That tells me they’re happy to be living the life they choose to live,” he said.

The next step for the center could be incorporating clients under the age of 18. Talley said the need is greater to give youth a place to go than women and their children because the center isn’t “ideal” for families and there are two local in-patient treatment options for women, whereas the only nearby center for youth is in Glenwood Springs.
source: Grand Junction Colorado Free Press

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Hanley Center Names Dr. Barbara Krantz CEO and Medical Director

Dr. Barbara Krantz, has been named Chief Executive Officer and Medical Director of Hanley Center, a noted nonprofit addiction treatment facility in West Palm Beach, Florida. Prior to accepting this position she served as Hanley’s Chief of Medical Services.

Dr. Krantz joined Hanley Center in 2001 with a strong clinical and management background in addiction and family medicine. She has worked in a number of settings including the substance abuse treatment field, hospitals and in teaching positions at the university level. She is well known in the field of addiction medicine and was honored by the Palm Beach County Medical Society in 2008 as a Heroes in Medicine award recipient for her leadership, active community philanthropy and commitment to the field of medicine.

“The addiction profile of today’s patient is complex, and it has become increasingly important that addiction treatment of this neurobiological disease is treated with an integrated approach,” said Dr. Krantz, who is part of the multidisciplinary team at Hanley Center. Dr. Krantz points to the prevalence of dual diagnosis, complications of chemical and concurrent alcohol abuse and the advanced medical therapies that address seriously ill patients.

Hanley Center, located on a 16-acre campus in West Palm Beach, specializes in holistic age and gender-specific treatment based on the Twelve-Step model. The Center pioneered the industry model for older adult treatment, and continues to lead the industry.

Hanley Center offers premiere gender and age specific treatment for men and women, as well as family and prevention programs that have been proven effective. For more information call (561) 841-1000, 1-800-444-7008 or visit

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Medical wellness and fitness center coming to Water Valley

Poudre Valley Health System announced today that it plans to open a medical wellness and fitness center in Water Valley, northern Colorado’s premier resort-style community located in Windsor. This will be the first medical wellness and fitness center in northern Colorado.

The 2-story center will offer physical therapy and cardiac rehabilitation for patients; classes on health care; wellness counseling; spa services; orthopedic care; radiology; and exercise opportunities with fitness equipment and a therapeutic pool.

In addition, medical office space will be available for physicians who practice specialty or primary care.

Rulon Stacey, PVHS president and CEO, said Windsor is an ideal setting for a medical wellness and fitness center due to the community’s location in the epicenter of northern Colorado’s rapid population growth.

“Our goal is to offer high-quality health care that is easily accessible,” he said. “The unparalleled quality and accessibility of Water Valley and its beautiful setting add beneficial dimensions that will complement the medical wellness and fitness center.”

Martin Lind, Water Valley’s owner and president, said the PVHS presence will be a valuable addition to the community.

“Having a medical and health icon like PVHS believe and invest in Water Valley solidifies our vision and motto of “Life’s Better Here!,” Lind said.

“The medical wellness and fitness center, combined with our existing resort atmosphere, will prove to be a regional destination for those seeking medical-based lifestyle changes,” he continued. “In addition to the obvious benefit for Water Valley residents, the center will benefit all of northern Colorado. Water Valley could very well become the Broadmoar of the north by offering world-class wellness, golf and a resort atmosphere.”

The medical wellness and fitness center will be the center piece of Water Valley’s Marina Plaza project that will soon begin development in the 1,500-acre Water Valley community. Water Valley encompasses five lakes; Pelican Lakes Golf Course and Country Club; and residential areas where about 3,000 people reside. Plans for the Marina Plaza include a hotel and conference center, retail space, salon and spa, restaurant, and office complex in addition to the medical wellness and fitness center.
Construction of the medical wellness and fitness center, now in the early design stage, is expected to begin later this year.

The center is slated to open in the fall of 2009.

PVHS will lease about 16,000 square feet of the Marina Plaza to house the medical wellness and fitness services, and another 9,000 square feet will be occupied by physician offices.

Stacey said the center will work closely with physicians who occupy medical office space there.

“Physicians will be able to refer patients to the center for rehabilitation, health classes and other services,” he said. “This will be a significant convenience for patients.”

Stacey said other medical wellness and fitness centers in the U.S. have found that clients tend more often to be adults who prefer the facilities rather than more traditional health clubs.

“Medical wellness and fitness centers combine the outpatient care from rehab centers and primary and specialty care providers with the prevention and educational aspects of a health club—all in one location,” he said. “Very often older adults who want to condition their bodies or undergo rehabilitation feel more comfortable at a medical wellness and fitness center because of the medical presence there.”
source: Windsor Beacon,

Tuesday, June 10, 2008


The report by the Scottish Parliament-backed Scotland’s Futures Forum yesterday called for radical new ways to tackle the drug problem.

But critics immediately dismissed it as “recycling failed ideas”.

Key recommendations include setting up “consumption rooms” where addicts could take drugs safely and for heroin to be prescribed.

It also suggested taxing cannabis to enable it to be more tightly regulated.

Of an estimated 51,000 heroin users in Scotland, about 21,000 are thought to use methadone to help with their addiction.

In 2006 there were 421 drug-related deaths in Scotland, the highest rate in Europe.

The think tank was established by the Scottish Parliament in 2005.

In its latest report it asked how the damage caused by alcohol and drugs in Scotland could be halved by 2025.

On the idea of “consumption rooms” chairman Frank Pignatelli said: “I don’t think the public are ready for it. But I think they could be convinced with strong evidence.”

Mr Pignatelli, a former education chief and civil servant, added: “When everything else has failed, when no one knows how to solve this health problem, under very controlled conditions we should possibly be thinking why not experiment as other countries have done with this controlled environment where there are health professionals on site. Some people are led away from that lifestyle and, in terms of public order, you don’t have people shooting up in the street and causing alarm.”

The report comes just two weeks after the Scottish Gov-ernment launched the first drugs strategy in a decade, with the emphasis on getting people off drugs.

The report’s vice chairman Tom Wood, former Deputy Chief Constable of Lothian and Borders Police, said it was based on evidence of successful initiatives elsewhere.

But Scottish Tory leader Annabel Goldie said: “So-called shooting galleries and the legalisation of cannabis are ideas of the last two decades. Fortunately in Scotland we’ve moved forward.

“The new National Drugs Strategy for Scotland, which received the unanimous backing of the Scottish Parliament last week, demonstrates a new political will in Scotland. We believe that people should be assisted to get off drugs, not helped to take them.

A spokesman for the Scot-tish Government said: “We have no current plans to introduce drug consumption rooms.

“There are complex legal and ethical issues that can’t be easily resolved.”

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Addiction Recovery Center, Moving To North Texas

People from all of the country will be coming to our area. A new drug and alcohol addiction center is opening it's doors this fall with hopes to attract people from across the United States. Only a handful of progressive recovery centers, exist in Texas, and now one is moving into Van Alstyne. KTEN's Whitney Allen was on site and has the story.

Enterhealth, a company from Dallas is opening an addiction recovery center to meet the growing demand for progressive treatment. The program is designed to strengthen the brain, body, and soul.

Dr. Harold Urschell III, with Enterhealth says, "The patients that come to us for help and treating their specific addiction, come from all walks of life."

Enterhealth has a progressive approach which includes, cutting-edge medication therapies that treat the physical aspects of addiction, including cravings.

Dr. Urshell goes on to say, "Society views an addiction as a moral weakness or a sin. At enterhealth we view it as a disease, no different then high blood pressure."

Enterhealth's program will be personalized for each client, providing residential treatment services and outpatient support. The center can serve 14 clients. They will have 3 physicians on hand during the day, and 24 hour nurses on site.

"Our job here is to treat them as a whole person, nutrition, health, exercise, and stress management," says Dr. Urshell. On site they will also have a ropes course for team building, cooking classes, art therapy, a swimming pool, and running trails along with gym.

Dr. Urshell says, "The average length of stay will be 6 weeks and we will address multipul levels of their life."

Enterhealth says the reason they chose Van Alstyne was, because of the community and the proximaty from Dallas and Southern Oklahoma. "It's a rural and residential area for people to focus," says Dr. Urshell.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

A clear vision

A little girl with a big dream. That’s what Tabitha Hall Pennon of Ennis was when she started the outreach shelter, Texas Vision House.

“I knew from the time I was seven-years old that this was something I wanted to do,” she said. “In my simplistic take on it all, I just wanted to provide a house for people who didn’t have one and that is what I set out to do.”
Pennon’s initial plan of temporary housing for those in need went beyond mere thought; she said she obsessed over it, even drew up a blueprint for the center on poster board.

“My grandmother used to sew and she would have those huge books with patterns in them,” Pennon explained. “I would cut out the pictures of quilts and glue them on the beds in the rooms of the house I made and when I finally did get to build the facility I dreamed of, it was modeled from that poster board blueprint.”
After graduating from Ennis High in 1986, her brainchild was put on hold as she battled doubts and fears of putting into place the resources she would need to realize the project. While working at a correctional facility, she learned first hand the needs of the people she would serve in what would soon become her life’s work.
“At the correctional home I saw many people who had made the wrong choices in life but who were good people underneath it all,” she said. “I knew that sometimes in life people just need a second chance and I wanted to give them that.”

The path for second chances she chose was in the form of an interim housing center for women recovering from substance abuse. This facility would be a place for women to get back on their feet as they struggled through the first stages of being drug free; it would also be a place where they could develop skills that would serve them when they left the house to return to living on their own. The name of the outreach had always been clear to Pennon: Vision House.

Established in 1999, the center was the embodiment of the dream she had once put aside, but had come back to. She now dedicates her life to Vision House.
Due to the nature of residents’ issues, including alcoholism and drug abuse, and the specialized recovery methods needed to aid them in their transition from the facility to living independently, Pennon went back to school, earning a degree in social work and substance abuse counseling. Her no-nonsense approach to the women and the responsibilities they are expected to take on at Vision House allows her to help them with their problems while still supplying a shoulder for them to lean on.

“There is no free ride here,” she said. “I am always telling the ladies that the world does not owe them anything and if they want something they have to work for it, so that is what we put into practice here. They each have their roles to play at the house and they also take part in the work program that we have where we set up booths at the American Airlines Center and the Ball Park in Arlington to sell food. The work program also teaches them about giving back to those less fortunate because the money raised from the booth goes to the Canning Hunger project to help fight hunger in the world.”

Residents who stay at the facility –– from upwards of a year to 18 months ––attend four Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous meetings a week. They are also asked to attend church at the chapel located on the property. Pennon feels it’s important to heal the mind, body and spirit when dealing with recovery.
“These women must have healing in all aspects of their lives in order to function when they leave us,” she said. “We don’t make going to church a pre-requisite but we do encourage it.”

Although some residents leave Vision House only to return to old ways, there are many success stories.

“We have had people who got out of the program because they weren’t ready for the help and that is their decision,” she said. “I pray for them and work to help the rest of the group so they won’t follow suit. However, I have seen the change that can happen if the residents work toward it. and some of the best cases actually ended up cleaning up their lives and coming to work for us or volunteer with us after they left to reclaim their lives. When I’m feeling overwhelmed, those ladies remind me why it is I do what God has called me to do.”

Vision House, which operates on donations, has been chosen as the recipient of funds raised from a fashion show organized by fellow Ennisite, Charlotte Watson. The event is part of a program called “Meet me in the Boardroom,:” which is focused on helping women find the information they need to help with finances, health care and jobs. Part of the two-day workshop, to be held June 13-14, will feature a style show with some of the residents at Vision House acting as models.
Pennon said she’s thankful for the opportunity and that her residents are thrilled.
“The ladies are so excited and have been looking forward to this since they found out about it,” Pennon said.

“This will be a real ego boost for them and I’m so glad Charlotte thought of us for helping with the fashion show and receiving some of the proceeds.”
For more information about Vision House or to donate visit or call 214-257-0207.
source: Ennis News Daily

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Tough pill to swallow: Most overdose deaths involve prescription drugs

Data released last week show 154 people died in Maine from drug overdoses in 2007, and 86 percent of those deaths involved pharmaceuticals — many obtained with a legitimate prescription often paid for by Medicaid or private insurance and taken improperly or turned around for cash.

At the same time, the Prescription Monitoring Program approved by the Legislature in 2003 is being “grossly underutilized,” according to Maine’s U.S. Attorney Paula Silsby, and opportunities are being missed to prevent abuse, including fraud of the Medicaid system.

Adding to the problem is the fact Maine doctors and other providers write more prescriptions per capita for narcotic painkillers than in most other states.

Methadone was the leading killer, involved in 58 of the deaths last year, followed by oxycodone, involved in 38 deaths, and, benzodiazepine or prescription tranquilizers, involved in 36 deaths, according to statistics presented last week at the Maine Medical Association’s annual education seminar.

Heroin or morphine was also found in the blood stream of 25 who died, and the culprit could have been either, since heroin breaks down into morphine after death. Cocaine, an illegal drug becoming popular once again, was cited in 30 deaths. The drugs are often taken in combination and used with alcohol.

Marcella Sorg, director of the Rural Drug and Alcohol Research program at the Margaret Chase Smith Policy Center at the University of Maine, said more than 50 percent of those who died from oxycodone, which includes the infamous OxyContin, had a prescription for the drug, as did those who died from benzodiazepine.

The bulk of methadone deaths, however, appear to come from methadone tablets resold on the street and most likely initially prescribed as pain killers. Methadone is now used to treat pain more often than OxyContin because it is cheaper and relatively less controversial.

“It’s not the clinics,” providing the drugs on the street, Sorg said, separating the methadone given out by clinics in liquid form to treat narcotic addiction from the now prevalent tablets prescribed for pain.

While the death toll in 2007 is slightly better than 2006, when 167 people died from drug overdoses, the numbers have more than quadrupled since 1997 when 34 people in Maine died from overdoses.

Yet the state-run Prescription Monitoring Program set up in 2004 to help prevent prescription drug abuse and illegal resale by tracking how many controlled substances are being prescribed to an individual is only being used by 28 percent of eligible providers, according to Silsby.

“The very system that was developed to address this issue is simply not being used by the overwhelming majority of prescribers and pharmacists, and for me, that’s a problem,” said Silsby, who spoke last week along with Sorg to doctors gathered at the Augusta Civic Center.

That system lists all the controlled substances sold by pharmacists to an individual and would allow a doctor to see what a patient already has been prescribed. It helps prevent “doctor shopping,” where a patient goes to multiple physicians to get drugs.

Silsby also believes it could help raise some red flags on abuse of the state’s Medicaid system, which she said is a big part of the problem.

“A substantial amount of prescription drug abuse is associated with the Medicaid community,” Silsby said. “If they don’t pay for them with cash, then they’re all paid for by Medicaid, and then they can turn around and have 100-percent profit.”

Sorg said her research doesn’t show how many of the drugs that killed people were issued through the Medicaid program, but common sense shows it is part of the problem.

“We’re talking about rural poor people,” she said, who could sell just part of their prescription and make money, while still having enough pills to treat themselves.

In Maine, nearly 20 percent of the population is on Medicaid, so the sheer size of the program also assures it has a part in prescription drug abuse.

Roy McKinney, head of the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency, said whether it’s public or private insurance that buys the drugs, money is the motivator.

“Money is the root of it,” McKinney said, because drugs like OxyContin sell for $1 per milligram, making a 30-day supply of 40 milligram tablets worth $1,200 on the street.

Overmedicated Maine?

Sorg said the broader issue is more narcotics are being prescribed to treat pain nationwide, and Maine providers write more prescriptions than most.

According to the federal drug data base that tracks prescriptions of controlled substances, Maine ranked sixth in the country for morphine and methadone, and eighth for oxycodone.

Sorg said it is indicative of Maine’s aging population, and that the state has many manual laborers in dangerous jobs like wood harvesting. “We’re old, with a high number of laborers, who have a high number of injuries,” she said.

The typical overdose fatality is not a young person, although teenage abuse of pharmaceutical drugs has surpassed marijuana, according to McKinney.

Rather, the average victim is a male between 38 and 40 years old, whose body has been depleted through years of drug and alcohol abuse and the chronic diseases that go along with that behavior. “They’re not trying to recreationally get high,” Sorg said. “They’re addicted, and they absolutely have to have the drug.”

Gordon Smith, executive vice president of the Maine Medical Association, invited Sorg and Silsby as presenters at this year’s education seminar to raise awareness about the problem, and the use of the Prescription Monitoring Program.

“We’ve done a lot of education, but it is a difficult audience to get to,” Smith said. “They’re too busy and they can’t delegate this to their practice manager. They have to do this themselves.”

“In my opinion, the Board of Medicine and U.S. Attorney and DEA are going to come down quite hard on those, who after three years, are not utilizing this information,” he said.

Silsby agreed it’s hard for doctors. “In the medical profession, it’s ‘Do no harm. Do no harm.’ And now they find themselves having to be vigilant that they are not being scammed by their patients,” she said.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

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source: TransWorld News