DUI: A Sign of Addiction?

By David Sack, M.D.

DUI: A Sign of Addiction?If you have ever been arrested for driving under the influence (DUI), or in some jurisdictions driving while intoxicated (DWI), you quickly learned the legal and financial consequences of driving while impaired, but you may have been left wondering what the DUI means for your personal well-being. Did you make a one-time mistake, or could a DUI be a sign of a bigger problem?

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Drugs and Alcohol: These Looks Can Kill

By David Sack, M.D.

Drugs-and-Alcohol-These-Looks-Can-KillDrug and alcohol abuse do ugly things, not only to our insides but to our outsides. And the effects on our appearance can have the power to move us. Tell us that alcohol damages our liver and brain, and we nod. Tell us that it may make us fat, well, now you have our attention.

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Dispelling Myths About Naltrexone: Is It Right for You?

By David Sack, M.D.

Dispelling-Myths-About-Naltrexone-Is-It-Right-for-YouNaltrexone has been around for decades as a treatment for those struggling with opioid or alcohol dependence, first in pill form and now as a once-a-month injection marketed under the name Vivitrol.

Despite its long-term presence on the scene, confusion about naltrexone’s efficacy and appropriateness abound. Here’s a look at a few myths surrounding this increasingly popular addiction medication to help you determine if it might be right for you:

Myth 1: It’s not that effective.

Historically, it has been hard to judge how well naltrexone worked because patients needed to take it every day. If they missed even a few doses, its benefit was lost. It is now clear that when the pills are taken as directed or the intramuscular injections are received monthly, naltrexone offers significant relief for many who struggle with addictions to alcohol or opioids.

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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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