Painkillers for Pregnant Women: What We Don’t Know Might Hurt Us

By David Sack, M.D.

Painkillers for Pregnant Women: What We Don't Know Might Hurt UsPregnant women are often scrupulous about what they put in their bodies, avoiding alcohol, caffeine, processed meats and mercury-laced fish in an effort to protect their developing child. But if they go to their doctor for pain, about one in five will leave with a prescription for a narcotic painkiller such as codeine, hydrocodone or oxycodone, according to a recent study published in the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology. That’s a record number.

What’s wrong with this picture? Maybe nothing. Maybe a lot. The problem is we just don’t know for sure.

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Obamacare’s First Act: Why I’m Optimistic

By David Sack, M.D.

Obamacare's First Act: Why I'm OptimisticThe dust has begun to settle ever so slightly on the Affordable Care Act (ACA), known popularly as Obamacare, giving us a glimpse at what might be and what has already begun to change in terms of helping some of the most vulnerable among us – people struggling with addictions and mental illness.

As someone who works directly with this population, I am optimistic. It’s still early in the process, but the ACA’s mandated health coverage is having important practical and philosophical effects. In practical terms, more people are getting on the insurance rolls; philosophically, there’s increased recognition that those dealing with mental health issues or substance abuse need and deserve help, and that it benefits all of us when they get it.

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Baby Boomers: No More Strength in Our Numbers?

By David Sack, M.D.

Baby Boomers:  No More Strength in Our Numbers?We baby boomers have been lucky. Born into post-World War II prosperity, we grew up with more access to nutrition, medical care and education than any other generation in history. We’ve had opportunities undreamed of by our ancestors, and through our sheer numbers – 78 million strong – we’ve dominated the political and cultural landscape.

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5 Truths About the Addict in Your Life

By David Sack, M.D.

5 Truths About the Addict in Your LifeMost families have been touched by addiction. Many have been forever altered by it. And though most people are affected by it, few understand it. This is because addiction is not a logical disease. The selfishness, the repeated mistakes despite devastating consequences – none of it makes sense, not even to the person living it.

The recurring tumult – ER runs, bail requests, evictions – can lead the addict’s family members to make sweeping assumptions: “He doesn’t love me anymore.” “We’ve lost him forever.” While this may turn out to be true, it’s a story that is being written and the ending is far from certain. The hopelessness that sets in makes the entire family sick and makes it more difficult for the addict to seek the help they need.

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5 Must-Have Conversations for Back-To-School Season

By David Sack, M.D.

5 Must-Have Conversations for Back-To-School SeasonThis is the time of year when shopping for school clothes and the latest electronics and accessories is foremost in your child’s mind. But, for parents, back-to-school season brings up more pressing concerns that should find their way into conversation, whether casually at the mall, in the car or watching TV or in a more formal family discussion around the dinner table.

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Three Unlikely Groups Hit Hard by the Prescription Drug Epidemic

By David Sack, M.D.

Three Unlikely Groups Hit Hard by the Prescription Drug EpidemicThe face of drug addiction has changed dramatically in the past decade. Gone are the days when the “typical” drug addict was a junkie shooting heroin on the street. The widespread abuse of prescription drugs, which are easily accessible and presumed “safe,” has meant that addiction is plaguing some unexpected populations. Three unsuspecting groups have been hit particularly hard:

#1 Seniors

A new generation of addicts is making its way into drug rehab centers. Many Baby Boomers, who grew up in the 60s and 70s in a culture that romanticized drug abuse as consciousness-raising, are now retiring. Free from the responsibilities of work and raising children, some are using their extra time and money to return to the drugs of their youth or to experiment with newer drugs, including prescription medications.

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5 Realities of College Life Every Parent Needs to Know

By David Sack, M.D.

5 Realities of College Life Every Parent Needs to KnowThousands of recent high school grads are stocking up on dorm essentials and packing their bags for college. Since your blossoming young adult may be far from home for the next few years, and they’ll be none too quick to call with updates, there’s a good chance you’ll be in the dark about what really happens at college. Here are five of the less savory aspects of college life every parent should be on the lookout for:

#1 Stress Leads to Drug Use, Binge Drinking.

Transitions can be extremely stressful, especially for young people trying to balance a full load of classes, a part-time job, a social life, and new responsibilities like cooking, shopping and cleaning. Whether it’s the stress of school, the first taste of freedom or an attempt to fit into an unfamiliar environment, studies show that substance abuse and other risky behaviors increase significantly during this time.

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Do I Have to Stop Taking My ADHD Medication During Rehab?

By David Sack, M.D.

Do I Have to Stop Taking My ADHD Medication During Rehab?Drug rehab centers put a number of guidelines in place to ensure the safety of their patients, many of which are challenged by recovering addicts looking for as much normalcy and comfort as possible during the difficult early stages of recovery. One of the most frequently asked questions is: Why no Adderall to treat my ADHD during treatment?

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Grieving the Loss of Addiction

By David Sack, M.D.

Grieving the Loss of AddictionAn addict who has tried to kick their habit for years finally makes their way into recovery. What could they possibly have to grieve about?

Actually, recovering addicts have a lot to grieve. The activity that has been the central focus of their lives is now something they can never do again. The only comfort they have known is gone, and their life requires a complete overhaul. That’s a lot to take in, especially at a time when they are least prepared in terms of ego strength and coping skills.

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FDA Prescription Drug Abuse Plan Hits – and Misses – the Mark

By David Sack, M.D.

FDA Prescription Drug Abuse Plan Hits - and Misses - the MarkAs awareness grows about the dangers of prescription drug abuse, the government is following through on its promise to address the “nation’s fastest-growing drug problem.” The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently revealed its risk evaluation and mitigation strategy for extended-release and long-acting opioids to prevent misuse and abuse, starting with education for doctors who prescribe highly addictive painkillers as well as the patients who take them.

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