addiction

Addiction, recovery and sex

When I was new in recovery I memorized and learned the 12-Steps. Then, at a meeting I heard someone mention the 13th Step. What!? There's another step I have to do? I asked what the 13th Step was. "It's hitting on newcomers - hooking up with newbies," I was told. "Ah," a much younger and better looking me said to myself. "That's why all these guys are giving me hugs and buying me coffee." I stopped hugging guys that creeped me out - stuck out my hand instead. I learned the true understanding of "helping the newcomer." I listened to my sponsor and old-timers I trusted: "You don't get into relationships or date when you are in early recovery." "Why?" I asked. "Because nothing will take your mind off your recovery quicker than a guy,"  I was told. "And besides, you have demonstrated and extraordinary inability to have a healthy relationship. Your picker is broken."
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addiction

What we’re missing in treating addiction

Addiction is a disease of the brain. Over and over and over we heard this at the recent National RX Drug Abuse & Heroin Summit in Atlanta.

The president said it. His drug czar Michael Botticelli, said it. Dr. Nora Volkow, head of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, said it, along with the heads of the Centers for Disease Control, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration,...
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General

Buprenorphine: How many patients is too many?

Last week the Department of Health and Human Services published in the Federal Register a notice of rulemaking for medication assisted treatment - MAT - for opioid abuse that would increase the maximum number of patients a practitioner can treat from 100 to 200. The proposed rule would apply specifically to buprenorphine, also known as "bupe"among drug users. The drug is used to wean addicts off prescription and street opioids, such as oxycodone and heroin. Buprenorphine joins methadone and naltrexone as the only three drugs approved by the Food and Drug Administration to treat opioid addiction. The irony of the government's efforts to regulate patient limits for buprenorphine, is that there are no limits on the number of patients a practitioner can treat with the prescription opioids that feed addition. In fact, there is no other prescription medications with patient limits.
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Coping with Depression

Is self-sufficiency making you depressed?

Sunday marked the 13th anniversary of my mother's death. Sixteen months before she died, my father passed. Eight months after she died, my dog died. I loved my parents - and my dog - very much. But I probably should have known something was up when I cried much more when my dog died. I didn't know anything about grieving back then. I didn't know it could fester inside in my soul and come out sideways as anger, denial and desperation. I didn't know that my grief would morph into a bizarre, extreme strain of self-reliance that would end two years later with a swan dive into a deep, dark depression.
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Alcoholism

A recovered alcoholic asks: If I take antidepressants, am I still sober?

I am a recovered alcoholic. I also have bipolar II, which can manifest in depression. I am what they call "dual-diagnosed" - or "twice blessed" as those of us in recovery often quip. I was about 7 years into my recovery when I slid into a deep depression and was diagnosed and put on medications. The decision to take antidepressants and a mood stabilizer posed a huge ethical and medical conundrum for me. I had heard from many fellow recovering alcoholics that WE DON'T TAKE MIND ALTERING MEDICATIONS! Obviously, antidepressants and mood stabilizers are - thank God - mood altering. Desperate - and with the encouragement of doctor friend who understands addiction - I took them. It took several months find the right dosages and for them to kick in but when they did, my life - and sobriety - completely changed. I'm not saying my life got better but my ability to deal with life got much, much better.
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Alcoholism

How private are a drug addict’s treatment records?

The confidentiality of alcohol and drug abuse patient records is under the government's microscope. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration - SAMHSA - has filed notice of rule-making for such records. The proposed changes to 42 CFR Part 2- HIPPA - were published in Federal Register on Feb. 9. It's been 29 years since there have been any substantive updates to the Confidentiality of Alcohol and Drug Abuse Patient Records regulations. A lot has changed, especially the recent push for an integrated, continuum of care and the use of electronic medical records. I say changes are needed because you have a bunch of 20-something-year-old newly recovered addicts owning and operating some of the HIPPA-protected treatment programs, such as intensive outpatient programs, called IOPs. They, in turn, share a patient's health condition with their "clinical staff" - who are also newly recovered 20-something-year-old addicts who have little or no formal training and often no more than a high-school diploma.
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Alcoholism

4 reasons why addicts should not trust doctors

One Last month I went to the emergency room with tightness in my chest and shortness of breath. I answered a bunch of questions about my medical history, told them about my depression and bipolar, the meds I am on and made it clear that I am a recovered alcoholic/addict and that I do not want to be given any medications that might cause me to relapse. The doctor came, looked at my chart, looked at me and asked if I was in pain. I said no, just uncomfortable tightness and shortness of breath. . "Do you have any pain?" the doctor asked. "I'm going to give you some Ativan. It will help you relax," the doctor said. "No you're not," I said. "I'm a recovered alcoholic/addict and I don't take benzos." "Why?" the doctor asked.
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General

How to screw up taking antidepressants

Once a week I refill my pill box. I take two antidepressants and one mood-stabilizer, along with a handful of supplements - fish oil, glucosamine, daily vitamin etc. One-by-one I take each bottle out of a basket, open it, deposit the pills in their daily nook and put the bottle back into the basket. I take my medications without fail and I have done this little routine countless times over the years. Last week I screwed up. Big time. I forgot to put one of my antidepressants in the mix. It took five days and a swan dive into my black hole before I realized this. I probably would have discovered this faux pas sooner if I had been paying attention but I have been under a lot of stress lately and it has been difficult to focus on anything for long.
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General

Why you don’t know how much mental illness and drug abuse is really in your community

It's Sunday night. I am sitting at my desk in the newsroom. I am a reporter and every couple of months I pull a weekend shift. The newsroom is quiet and I can hear the police scanners clearly. During the day, with all that's going on in the newsroom, the scanners are just white noise. The cop reporters pay attention but to the rest of us, they are annoying. If you want an idea of how much mental illness and substance abuse is out there, listen to the police scanners in a major metropolitan area, like South Florida, where I work. Some agencies use human dispatchers but many of the calls are announced by a computer with a Siri-esque voice. Rescue 12. Responding to area 19. Overdose intoxication. 123 Main Street. Tac 2a. Rescue 6. Responding to area 12. Suicide attempt. 456 Main Street. Tac 6.
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Coping with Depression

Why are all the great Christmas classics about depression?

Ever notice that the great holiday classic are about depression? There's George Bailey, the financially strapped father of a posse of rowdy kids in It's a Wonderful Life. Then there's Scrooge and the Grinch. And how about that Santa-denying mother in Miracle on 34th Street? Charlie Brown and his pathetic little tree. Let's not forget The Littlest Angel, a story about a little boy who dies, goes to heaven, can't keep his halo on straight, can't sing on key with the seraphim and misses his dog? Then there is that country western song little boy who want to buy his dying mama a pair of shoes. We have Elvis' Blue Christmas and Do They Know It's Christmas about people starving in Africa.
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