RU Texas The Beat

When Classical Goes Clinical: The Best Composers to Listen to While Healing

[fa icon="calendar'] Dec 28, 2016 3:00:00 PM / by RU Texas posted in Addiction, Family

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Let’s face it: not all of us are ready to turn on Rachmaninoff when we come home from work at the end of the day or when we go on a road trip with our friends. We all have our own musical preferences and they don’t all skew toward the classical genre. Like everything else, there’s a time and a place for every kind of music. Sometimes we want nothing more than take our aggression out while listening to Black Flag’s “Damaged”; sometimes we want to lose ourselves in the jangly melancholy of the Smiths; sometimes we need a track from Jay-Z to get us hyped up and sometimes we just want something we can ignore while we clean our houses.

More and more, classical music has found a new sense of place in the most unlikely environment: the doctor’s office. Certain composers’ works have been found to be effective in the alleviation of chronic and acute health conditions like depression, high blood pressure, anxiety, chronic pain and many others. Slower-tempo music is playing an increasingly significant role in the treatment of many physical and psychological health disorders.

Who, then, are some of the composers responsible for this healing renaissance?

Johann Sebastian Bach – From chronic pain to anxiety, the Austrian-born Bach has been helping more and more patients heal from a variety of conditions. His influence has been experienced by both adult and pediatric patients.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart – A 2016 study reveals the powers of Mozart and Straus in the treatment of hypertension (high blood pressure).Works by the two composers were found to be significantly more beneficial than contemporary artists like ABBA.

Johannes Brahms – Brahms’ works have been celebrated throughout the world as a healing force for patients looking increase their energy, achieve inner calm and balance their physical and psychological wellness. The composer has been found to help listeners reduce their stress levels as well.

Other composers used to in clinical treatment include Beethoven, Wagner, Mendelssohn and many others. Embracing these works may take us a bit out of our comfort zone; but it’s important, whether or not we’re suffering from any kind of affliction to branch out and continue our musical education however possible. In the end, we just might find an unlikely source of healing and inspiration when we open our eyes and our ears.

These are just a few of the practical healing benefits of music. In an effort to provide further education regarding this invaluable therapeutic resource, Recovery Unplugged has released a new eBook on the healing properties of music in everyday life. We are committed to relaying music’s benefits before, during and after treatment or any other type of clinical intervention.

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San Antonio Docs Using "Kangaroo Care" to Help Addicted Newborn Babies

[fa icon="calendar'] Dec 22, 2016 11:38:07 AM / by RU Texas posted in Recovery, NAS, Addiction, Treatment, Withdrawl, Newborns

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Like the rest of the country, Texas is in the midst of a fierce and tragic drug addiction epidemic. It is not news to anyone living in the lone star state who have been affected by addiction that drugs like meth, opioids and cocaine are devastating public health issues with the power to end lives and destroy families. One group of casualties commonly affected by the disease of addiction is newborn babies born to vulnerable mothers. A research project in San Antonio, Texas, is aiming to ease the suffering of these babies and their mothers during this urgent and incredibly difficult time.

Prescription opioid addiction is affecting more and more newborns in San Antonio. According to the Texas Department of State Health Services, about 400 drug dependent babies are born in Bexar County each year. That’s one-third of all the cases in Texas. When a baby is born addicted, first early stages of life incredibly difficult and even impede natural development. It also leaves guilt-ridden mothers vulnerable to crippling emotional distress and mental illness as they’re confronted with what addiction has done to them. The withdrawal process can last days, weeks, even a couple of agonizing months. The medical term for the condition is Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome or NAS.

Physicians at the San Antonio’s U.T. Health Science Center are utilizing a method called kangaroo care to help babies more comfortably overcome their withdrawal periods. Kangaroo care is a method of holding a baby that involves skin-to-skin contact. The baby, who is naked except for a diaper and a piece of cloth covering his or her back (either a receiving blanket or the parent's clothing), is placed in an upright position against a parent's bare chest. Some of the immediate health benefits include:

  • Stabilization of the baby's heart rate
  • Improved (more regular) breathing pattern
  • Improved oxygen saturation levels
  • Increase in sleep time
  • Accelerated weight gain
  • Decreased crying
  • More successful breastfeeding episodes

Kangaroo care was first developed in he 1970s in response to the high mortality rate of premature babies born abroad. Researchers found that babies who were held close to their mothers' bodies for large portions of the day not only survived, but thrived. The method soon made its way to the United States where it is utilized in a variety of cases. In a state in which opioid dependency and other forms of drug addiction are becoming an increasingly common reality, another medical intervention to help affected infants can only help save lives. 

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The Impact of Music in Physical and Psychological Wellness

[fa icon="calendar'] Dec 20, 2016 11:30:00 AM / by RU Texas posted in Addiction, Family

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Morrissey once asked: “Does the body rule the mind or does the mind rule the body?” His ultimate conclusion was “I don’t know.” The good news is that music can have an extreme positive impact on both. For years clinicians have been using music to accelerate healing in both clinical and post-treatment environments. From the pediatric to palliative care settings, music has been proven to have healing choose that sooth both the savage beast and the human body and brain. Whether you’re suffering from chemical dependency, generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), chronic pain or anything else, there’s a place for music in your supplemental care plan. Some of the specific benefits of music integration may include:

Lowering of Blood Pressure – High blood pressure (also known as hypertension) can lead to a variety of unforeseen heath and quality-of-life issues, including weight gain, fatigue, stroke, anxiety and much more. A recent study, as well as many others, indicates that, depending upon the tempo, music has the power to regulate blood pressure. Researchers found that it increases when listening to fast-tempo music like punk or metal; but it has the opposite effect when listening to slower-paced works.

Reduction of Stress – Stress and anxiety are two of the most common mental health issues Americans face. If left unchecked these conditions can take a significant toll on the body, including muscle tension, fatigue, decreased memory and impaired cognitive function. Listening to music, specifically on headphones, has been documented to reduce stress and anxiety. It also helps in the facilitation of meditation in order to align physical and psychological wellness.

Management of Chronic Pain – As the evolution of pain-management research continues, clinicians are finding more and more ways that music helps reduce inflammation. One recent example of this is a study of men undergoing prostate biopsies at Duke University Hospital. The study compared those who listened to Bach during the procedure with those who had noise-canceling headphones or who didn’t listen to anything, and found that the Bach enthusiasts reported less pain.

These are just a few of the practical healing benefits of music. In an effort to provide further education regarding this invaluable therapeutic resource, Recovery Unplugged has released a new eBook on the healing properties of music in everyday life. We are committed to relaying music’s benefits before, during and after treatment or any other type of clinical intervention.

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New Father-Son Book Highlights Treatment Gap and Prison Rates for Addicts

[fa icon="calendar'] Dec 20, 2016 10:24:26 AM / by RU Texas posted in Recovery, Addiction, Treatment, Prison, Depression

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When most people are in the midst of a lengthy prison sentence, they tend to think their life is over, or at least severely disrupted. The last thing they’re thinking about is writing a book with their dad. Rolando Perez, however, has always been a little different and a little more driven. Once bent on being an engineer, he would, as a child, often run around his house with two books saying: “This is my dad's dissertation, and this is my dissertation.” He was even on an academic decathlete in high school. It seemed as though he was able to write his own future.

En route to that limitless future, however, life took an unexpected and ugly turn. In college, while studying on scholarship, Rolando started self-medicating for depression and his life spiraled out of control. He is currently serving seven years for possession with intent to deliver a narcotic. Many would call it a day after that; however, Rolando has decided to turn his experiences into a cautionary tale in the form of a book on which he’s collaborating with this father, Dr. Juan Perez. An Everlasting Bond: The Story of a Father and His Son hit shelves and sites last month.

In addition to the deeply personal material that the weighty title suggests, the book focuses on a variety of issues faced by the United States’ addicted population, including prison culture, treatment accessibility and more. It calls for a "cultural shift" in talking about and treating the issue because 90 percent of those with a substance abuse disorder are not getting any treatment at all. Above all it puts a human face on addiction and highlights the devastating impact it causes individuals and the families that love them. This is something that many need to see as the stigma of moral failure continues to hover around chemical dependency.

At his trial, Rolando had the same attorney that defended Ethan Couch, or as many know him the “affluenza teen” who killed four people while driving drunk in 2013 and receivedprobation. He did not, however, have Couch’s financial resources and wasn’t able to gather the money to attend a quality treatment program…the alternative was jail. Rolando has been sent to prison three times, and has received no level of treatment during the totality of his incarceration. Dr. Juan Perez, a certified school counselor who works with school districts and former parole commissioner for the state of Texas, is hoping this latest collaboration with his son will help guide the addiction conversation in a more substantive and helpful direction.

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Tom Petty to Be Named MusiCares 2017 Person of the Year

[fa icon="calendar'] Dec 13, 2016 2:35:00 PM / by RU Texas posted in Recovery, Addiction, Treatment, Heroin Addiction, Tom Petty

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A cluster of music’s greatest living artists will pay tribute to one of their own in just a few months’ time, as legendary singer/songwriter and Heartbreakers front-man Tom Petty is honored by MusiCares as their Person of the Year. MusiCares provides a safety net of critical assistance for musicians and those in the music business in times of need. Their services and resources cover a wide range of financial, medical and personal emergencies, and each case is treated with integrity and confidentiality. The organization also focuses the resources and attention of the music industry on human service issues that directly impact the health and welfare of the music community.

Petty’s struggles with heroin addiction became widely known after the release of his biography last year. He spent more than a decade battling the disease after he split from his wife in the 1990s. What is even better documented is his legendary career and triumphant return to the stage and studio after overcoming his dependency. A career that has spanned 40 years, first with the Heartbreakers then as a solo artist, Petty has solidified himself as one of the most important and influential songwriters of his era. His journey to and from heroin addiction reminds us that we can all get sucked in, but also that we can all recover.

Petty will be honored on February 10 at a Gala in Los Angeles. The proceeds of which will provide essential support for MusiCares, which ensures music people have a place to turn in times of financial, medical, and personal need. Performing artists will include Gary Clark, Jr. Foo Fighters, Don Henley, Norah Jones, Kings Of Leon, Jeff Lynne, Randy Newman, Stevie Nicks, George Strait, and Lucinda Williams, Jackson Browne, Chris Hillman and Herb Pedersen, Elle King, and Regina Spektor and the Bangles. The celebration culminates with the 59th Annual GRAMMY Awards at Staples Center on Sunday, Feb. 12, 2017. The telecast will be broadcast live on the CBS Television Network at 8pm.

About MusiCares

The MusiCares Foundation offers programs and services to members of the music community, including emergency financial assistance for basic living expenses such as rent, utilities, and car payments; medical expenses including doctor, dentist, and hospital bills; psychotherapy; and treatment for HIV/AIDS, Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease, hepatitis C, and other critical illnesses. MusiCares offers nationwide educational workshops covering a variety of subjects, including financial, legal, medical, and substance abuse issues, and programs in collaboration with health care professionals that provide services such as flu shots, hearing tests, and medical/dental screenings.

The MusiCares MAP Fund® allows access to addiction recovery treatment and sober living resources for members of the music community. Staffed by qualified chemical dependency and intervention specialists, MusiCares offers Safe Harbor Room® support, sponsored in part by the Bohemian Foundation and RBC Capital Markets, to provide a network to those in recovery while they are participating in the production of televised music shows and other major music events. MusiCares holds weekly addiction support groups for people to discuss how to best cope with the issues surrounding the recovery process. The MusiCares Sober Touring Network is a database of individuals across the United States who can take music people to recovery support meetings while on the road.


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Obama’s Final Round of Pardons Highlights Prison Rates for Drug Offenders

[fa icon="calendar'] Dec 7, 2016 10:11:23 AM / by RU Texas posted in Addiction, Treatment, Obama, Drug Crimes, Pardons

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Last month President Obama reduced the sentences of six federal inmates from Texas during his administration’s most recent and final wave of clemency and commutation. To date, the President has issued more pardons than the last eleven combined. Of particular interest to the outgoing administration has been the collective plight of non-violent drug offenders, nearly a thousand of whom have seen their sentences reduced during Obama’s time in office. In all, the President has granted clemency to 1023 people since taking office, a majority of whom have been sentenced under mandatory minimum drug-laws which many argue are comparatively strict under the current code.

One of the most recent, and admittedly glaring, examples of these laws lies in the case of Texas man recently pardoned by the President after being sentenced to 30 years in prison and 10 years of supervised release for possession and intent to distribute more than five kilograms of cocaine. He was sentenced in the Southern District of Texas in the late 1990s. While House Counsel Neil Eggleston described the pardons as a second chance for those who have earned it. Others in the latest round of pardons include those sentenced for meth trafficking and production and crack cocaine distribution.

As the sun sets on the Obama administration, it leaves behind an undeniable legacy of compassion toward non-violent drug offenders; however, they also leave firmly in place the legal climate that ensnared these offenders and removed them from their families in the first place. It’s unclear, and will remain so for at least a year, whether President-elect Trump will wield the power of the pardon in a fashion similar to his predecessor; however, with a prison system that is overwhelmingly packed (some say “bloated”) with these offenders, the wisdom of the incarceration-first approach continues to be questioned on both sides of the aisle.

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Common Types of Supplemental Treatment Therapies

[fa icon="calendar'] Dec 6, 2016 11:25:00 AM / by RU Texas posted in Addiction, Family

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No treatment program should be identical to another. The issues and circumstances that trigger substance abuse are as unique to each individual and must be treated as such. Although there are some universal elements of quality treatment (detoxification, group therapy, individualized counseling, etc.), each patient deserves a customized and targeted treatment program for the maximum level of success. One of the fundamental elements to this level of individualized treatment is the availability of different supplemental therapy techniques. More and more treatment facilities are integrating historically non-traditional therapies in an effort to give patients a well-rounded recovery experience. Many of these techniques have been game-changers for patients looking to strengthen their recovery and live addiction-free in their everyday lives.

Although there is a seemingly endless array of these techniques that are discussed, a select few have been clinically proven to help patients with the behavioral and physical rigors of the recovery process, whether it’s acute withdrawal-related pain, anxiety, depression or anything else. There are certain tried-and-true techniques that have incalculable benefits to the post-treatment recovery process, two of which include:

Arts-Based Therapy – Creative therapies not only allow patients to better express themselves in ways that talk therapy can’t; they also strengthen confidence, unlock emotions and help us nurture our emotional growth. Whether it’s drawing a picture, producing a song, writing a poem or story or anything else, art-based therapy helps us to improve our sense of accomplishment and get more in touch with our feelings in the process. More and more treatment facilities are offering art therapy, creative writing and music-based therapy because of their proven results.

Holistic Therapy – Holistic therapies help patients align their physical, psychological and even spiritual wellness. Some common holistic therapy techniques include yoga, meditation, qi gong, tai chi and acupuncture. These techniques help patients manage their chronic pain and harness the energy necessary to live comfortably with their withdrawal symptoms. Nutritional counseling and fitness are two other fundamental elements of this therapeutic category.

The addiction treatment landscape has evolved considerably to offer specialized care to almost every type of patient. Other types of therapy include professionally targeted programs and medication-assisted treatment.

Recovery Unplugged has recent released an eBook that more deeply explores the benefits, purpose and types of supplemental treatment techniques in addiction care. The document discusses the efficacy of historically non-traditional therapies and their role in the continuously innovating modern-day treatment paradigm. Check it out today!

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Taking It With You: Benefits of Supplemental Therapies in Post-Treatment Life

[fa icon="calendar'] Dec 2, 2016 11:17:00 AM / by RU Texas posted in Addiction, Family

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Sooner or later our treatment ends. If we’re lucky, our programs give us valuable behavioral coping resources to help us manage the situations that can trigger relapse, whether we have to avoid them or face them, head on. The strength of these resources often lives and dies by the therapies we use to cultivate them, which is why it’s important that patients are exposed to a wide range of therapeutic techniques beyond traditional talk therapy, such as art therapy, music-based treatment, holistic techniques and more. The more well-rounded a patient’s recovery program is, the more of an opportunity they have to learn about themselves and develop the confidence they need to maintain their recovery when they transition back into their everyday lives.

In addition to the various relapse-prevention benefits of these supplemental therapies, they can also help patients in other areas of their lives, including but not limited to:

Breaking Down Emotional Barriers – Sometimes we’re afraid to talk about our feelings or we just don’t want to. Fear, shame, self-consciousness and a variety of other behavioral factors often prevent us from saying what we need to say to make the necessary progress. Expressive therapies like music and art can help patients break down these emotional barriers and help them to unlock dormant feelings without fear of judgment.

Strengthening Confidence – Occupational therapy techniques encourage patients to begin, nurture and complete a realistic and identifiable goal, whether it’s writing a song, a poem, painting a picture or anything else. Although the quality of these works is never a factor in their success, as the journey is always more important than the result, the mere completion of these projects can foster a sense of accomplishment on which patients can build while further empowering themselves.

Cultivating and Strengthening Relationships – Depending on how far we choose to take our new interests, we may find ourselves building new relationships based on them. We can also use the behavioral benefits we glean from these techniques (patience, tolerance, empathy, etc.) to improve strained relationships with loved ones.

Though many continue to remain on the peripheral of established clinical practice, supplemental techniques have the power to change patients’ everyday lives for the better. The more we embrace these therapies, and the deeper we weave them into the fabric of treatment, the more resources we give patients as they endeavor continue their recovery and rebuild their lives, careers and families.

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A Word (or 400) about Addiction in Media and Pop Culture

[fa icon="calendar'] Dec 1, 2016 10:45:55 AM / by RU Texas posted in Recovery, Addiction, Media, Pop Culture

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The media we consume has always been a product of the culture and collective opinion of our time. However exaggerated and stylized, the messaging that we see in movies, on TV and in other media usually, in some way, reflects some level of reality within our society. There often comes a tipping point, however, when media falls behind and it is no longer reflective of the reality it’s trying to portray. In the meantime, it often unwittingly perpetuates a stigma and stereotype that further damages the image of the population it’s trying to represent. Simply put, people believe what they see on TV because they think the image comes from somewhere. Throughout the history of TV and modern media, this reality has been especially apparent in drug and alcohol addiction.

For decades it was often acceptable and encouraged to demonize addicts rather than addiction in movies and on television. While there were a few examples of a more enlightened representation of addiction as a disease rather than a moral failing, they were buried in a media avalanche of judgment and dismissal. Only recently has the addict become more of a victim and less of an opportunistic villain who is out to lie, cheat, steal and ruin everyone’s life for the sake of their next fix. Representations like Nurse Jackie and even The Wire are showing addicts as deeply troubled yet inherently good people; this is a stark departure from the one-sided representations of yesteryear.

Recent movies like “Moonlight” and “Adrift” have, in their own way, attempted to show a fuller context of drug addiction and its impact in a way few films within this genre have bothered. This is not to say that these representations always tell the whole story, but most of them are making more of an effort than their forerunners. While it is important to represent the negative realities of drug and alcohol abuse (the crime, the death, the indignity, etc.), it’s also important to represent what conditions give birth to substance abuse and the complicated nature of chemical dependency. It’s time to start seeing addicts as humans and not merely a composite of bad “choices”.

Why is it important the media does its part in telling the truth about addiction? Because it is more influential than anyone may realize on institutional policy. Despite current mixed feelings about our system of government, our legislature is made up of elected people who listen to voters that watch TV, see movies and listen to music. While the pendulum seems to be swinging away from judgment and more toward genuine understanding, it’s up to all of us (in the legislative chamber, in the movie studio and in the general community) to keep it there.

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How Vivitrol Helps Families after Treatment

[fa icon="calendar'] Nov 29, 2016 11:51:49 AM / by RU Texas posted in Vivitrol, Opioid Addiction, Addiction, Family, Prison

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Those of us who have helped our loved ones manage addiction know how difficult it can be. Even after the best treatment and the most positive and encouraging signs of progress, the path can still be difficult. For every single person that suffers from addiction, there is usually a group of people suffering right alongside them. Sometimes this suffering consists of active conflict, including shouting fights and even physical confrontation; other times it can be as passive as watching a loved one struggle through the pain and sickness withdrawal symptoms. Many prefer actually fighting with their loved ones to watching them go through withdrawal because at least they have sense of control over a confrontation.

To watch a loved one struggle through their residual withdrawal period, even when they’re remaining faithful to their post-treatment recovery program, can be truly painful. Add to this, the constantly looming danger of relapse and subsequent overdose, and it’s easy to see how families can disintegrate in the wake of drug addiction. Loved ones of addicts are getting help from a newer and increasingly effective resource: Vivitrol. Vivitrol is an established and reputable medication for combatting alcohol and opioid abuse. It reduces cravings and blocks the euphoria associated with opioid highs. It is administer via a monthly injection by a licensed and credentialed physician.

Families of addicts are experiencing the benefits of Vivitrol through a growing variety of institutional avenues. In Duval County, Florida, an area which lies just under five hours from the Recovery Unplugged flagship facility in Fort Lauderdale, the prison system is using the medication to help inmates with their cravings so they’re able to better transition into their everyday lives once they’re released. The county is one of dozens across the country that is utilizing Vivitrol injections to help rehabilitate inmates. Vivitrol maintenance is not meant to replace any element of rehab like group therapy or individual counseling; but rather it’s meant to help patients reduce ongoing cravings.

For families who have an addict either in treatment or in prison, the reduction of cravings and the stabilization of physical health can be a game-changer in the way they’re able to transition into their lives in recovery. This mitigates family dysfunction, helps recovering addicts to focus and allows them to feel better every day. For a disease that is so complex, so powerful and so destructive, every single resource helps.

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