RU Texas The Beat

Northern Kentucky Officials Taking Addiction Prevention into their Own Hands

[fa icon="calendar'] Mar 21, 2017 12:12:20 PM / by RU Texas posted in Recovery, Drug Treatment, Addiction, Rehab, Kentucky

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Every so often, we’re reminded of the power of communities to mobilize and improve conditions for their citizens and outlying neighborhoods. Whether it’s an issue with drug trafficking, relations with law enforcement, environmental impact or anything else, real change starts at the grass-roots level with people who are directly affected by the problem that needs changing. Officials in Northern Kentucky-a region of the United States that has been hit particularly hard by the American opioid crisis-has demonstrated such a commitment to ground-level change with a bold new initiative that makes it harder for addicts to access prescription drugs for illicit use.

The Northern Kentucky Health Department has partnered with Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals and several local officials and businesses to launch a program that will provide free drug disposal pouches to ensure that medications are disposed of properly. The organization announced the collaboration in a statement in which they also said officials will announce details of the initiative Thursday at the Boone County Sheriff's Office in Burlington. The initiative makes permanent in the area, the same kind of one-day opioid-disposal events we’ve seen in Kentucky as well as the rest of the country, including Florida and Texas. Further details are expected to be forthcoming.

In addition to federal and state funding, law enforcement awareness, increased treatment options and other vital anti-overdoses resources, community involvement is key to preventing the further proliferation of localized drug trafficking and abuse. In 2015, the state of Kentucky saw nearly 1,250 overdose deaths, an increase of over 200 from the previous year. Local officials have cause to believe the problem is getting worse. Like most areas of the United States, the proliferation of fentanyl has spiked overall overdose rates in the region. Most recently, the city of Louisville recorded 52 overdoses in a 32-hour period, a trend which area hospitals and law enforcement say is likely to continue.

Kentucky’s proactive action reminds communities everywhere of their power to affect change and keep themselves and he people around them safe. A culture of drug trafficking seriously erodes quality of life in any community it touches, and the sooner we realize that, and work to prevent it, the better off we will be. While we can’t expect our friends and neighbors to solve the world’s addiction problems, we can start the process of incremental change by asking ourselves what we can do to curb addiction in our own corners of the world.

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Is It Time To Adopt A State-by-State Approach to Addiction Treatment?

[fa icon="calendar'] Mar 14, 2017 12:20:38 PM / by RU Texas posted in Recovery, Addiction Treatment, Rehab, AATA, Regulations

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Yesterday it was announced that the American Addiction Treatment Association launched new industry regulations for addiction care facilities in the state of Michigan. Michigan is the ninth state in which AATA membership resources are available to industry professionals, sober/transitional living facilities, and addiction treatment centers. AATA has previously launched regulatory compliance resources in California, Arizona, New York, Illinois, Tennessee, Georgia and RU’s home states of Florida and Texas. Membership will also soon become available in the coming months for Pennsylvania, Washington, Colorado, New Jersey, and Minnesota. One state that is left of the list is the beleaguered New Hampshire, which, while not yet under the AATA umbrella, got a special visit from New United States Attorney General Jeff Sessions to discuss the specialized nature of its drug epidemic.

Sessions spoke of the start of a national prevention movement during his surprise New Hampshire speech, but part of that may entail taking a special look at each state’s individual drug problem and allocating resources accordingly. The reality is that while virtually every state in the Union has been affected by the escalation of heroin and opioid fatality, some have felt the impact more than others, and others are battling their own separate epidemics. Texas, for example, continues to battle a significant methamphetamine problem, a drug that has long been contained in other regions of the country. The Lone Star State is also facing an issue of underreporting with regard to opioid overdose fatalities.

State-specific regulations could help to localize regional attention and maximize institutional resources. This is not to say that the addiction prevention battle should not be waged at the federal level; but if there were more state-specific guidelines and oversight by a single regulatory body, vulnerable residents might better understand their options and how to best take advantages of the resources available to them. While the opioid crisis is a national problem, each state should feel empowered to begin solving the problem within its borders; this includes streamlined and easily comprehensive guidelines, allocation of federal funding and state-specific prevention and education programs established and run by communities.

The fact is that some states need more help than others in battling addiction and overdose. Making sure they have the tools they need and formalizing treatment standards and practices to suit their specific addiction crises may be a good start to addressing the greatest national public health issue of our time. It will also help to ensure that patients are getting the best possible care, no matter the state in which they reside.

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Are Recovery Schools the Wave of the Future for Juvenile Addicts?

[fa icon="calendar'] Feb 21, 2017 11:21:10 AM / by RU Texas posted in Recovery, Addiction, Treatment, Children, Rehab, Education, Recovery Schools

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Addiction has many casualties. Depending upon when, in one’s life, substance abuse takes hold, it can take away any sense of normalcy that so many of us take for granted, including a decent education. Many parents of young addicts are forced to choose between their children’s education and their recovery. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) reports that nearly 32 percent of high school dropouts use illicit drugs and nearly 42 percent abuse alcohol. The agency also reports that dropouts are at increased risk of substance abuse once they leave school and move on to the next phase of their lives.

When we examine the long-term implications of this correlation, the picture gets even grimmer. Dropouts obviously face markedly increased difficulty finding quality employment that provides health insurance and a living wage. These conditions can easily put them in an economic class that, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is three times as likely as higher-earning Americans to abuse dangerous drugs like heroin, which has become one of the nation’s dominant public health issues. Once this poverty-related addiction takes hold, finding a job with healthcare that can pay for treatment while your employer holds your job for you, is a virtual impossibility without the right education.

That’s the problem and more and more states are coalescing behind what they feel is the solution: recovery schools. These schools are specialized, drug-free facilities where adolescents in recovery can receive a quality education through individualized instruction; a flexible curriculum that allows for addiction and mental health treatment; participation in peer support groups; and an environment that caters to sober living. Some have been built as standalone facilities and some are programs within existing high schools. The National Association of Recovery Schools reports that there are nearly 40 recovery schools planned or currently in operation in 20 states across the country. The schools provide a targeted balance between instruction and treatment according to each student’s individual needs and are designed to ensure that even those suffering from drug or alcohol addiction can get an education.

New York is the latest state to offer recovery schools, with Governor Cuomo announcing plans for two this year. Other states that have adopted the recovery school model include Washington, Nevada, California, Colorado, Wyoming, Minnesota, Oklahoma and right here in Texas. Additional schools are planned for the aforementioned New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana Tennessee, Illinois and Wisconsin. The National Association of Recovery Schools offers a clearly outlined roadmap to accreditation. Currently only five schools are accredited; however, this process is not mandatory for operation. Accreditation merely offers an established set of standards and practices that better ensure quality control.

Perhaps one of the primary advantages of recovery schools is that they represent an additional, and potentially critical, safety net for students who go from a standard treatment program right back into their old community. Some data suggests that as much as 85 percent of adolescents who receive treatment start using again within six months to a year. Recovery schools may provide the insulation needed to give teenagers time to heal while completing the education that will be critical in overcoming the fallout of their substance abuse and furthering their lives. These schools serve as a reminder that addiction is not only a medical issue, but an economic and education issue, as well.

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Gregg County Perfectly Represents Texas’ Diverse Addiction Problem

[fa icon="calendar'] Jan 17, 2017 1:41:26 PM / by RU Texas posted in Recovery, Addiction, Rehab, Gregg County, Drug Crimes

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Gregg County Sherriff Maxey recently spoke before members of the Longview Griggton Rotary Club about the multi-pronged addiction threat facing Gregg County and the rest of the lone star state. The talk provided illuminating insight into the pervasive and devastating public health issue that addiction represents in Texas, as well as its impact on communities across the state. Cerliano highlighted the most urgent drug threats in the area and the conditions that lead to and sustain abuse on an individual and community level. Gregg County has experienced a steady methamphetamine problem for years, mostly because it is easy to make and it’s cheaper than heroin and cocaine, which are also readily available in the area.

The sherriff also spoke extensively of the impact that addiction was having on the county’s jail. In 2016, there were a total of 9,171 bookings at the Gregg County Jail, 2,924 of which were for possession charges. This doesn’t include arrests for drug-motivated crimes, which experts speculate can push the percentage of drug-related bookings up to 80 percent. Opiates like hydrocodone and oxycodone represented about 60 percent of prescription-related arrests last year, which tallied nearly 930. One of the primary aims of Cerliano’s talk was to mobilize and empower the Gregg County community to take action against addiction whenever possible.

Although Gregg County lies about five hours northeast of Austin, it’s hard not to look at the area’s drug problem as a microcosm of the entire state of Texas. It’s also important to remember the swift and immediate nature of drug trafficking and that what happens in a town like Tyler can, and often does, easily happen in Austin or San Antonio. In a time when drug threats are only getting more diverse and sophisticated, and Texas remains ever vulnerable to international trafficking, we must all remain vigilant and committed to protecting ourselves and the people around us. This means recognizing when a loved one is vulnerable to addiction and working to guide them toward help.

Prevention activism can also mean getting involved in the formation of public policy, holding awareness events within our own communities or simply learning about the physical and behavioral pathology of each drug so we know what to look for. Although state and municipal governments are finally allocating more resources toward address collective drug addiction, it will ultimately take a certain level of community will and action in order to eradicate it.

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A SAFE and Happy Halloween: Alcohol and Halloween’s Burgeoning Relationship

[fa icon="calendar'] Oct 31, 2016 8:58:25 AM / by RU Texas posted in Recovery, Alcoholism, alcohol abuse, Rehab, Halloween

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This year Americans will have spent approximately $8.5 billion on Halloween. Translation: it’s not just a kids’ holiday anymore. While many of us still celebrate the occasion by taking our children or nieces and nephews trick-or-treating, or sitting at home and watching scary movies, Halloween has become an increasingly social (and increasingly adult) affair. As yesterday’s children become today’s adults, many keep the spirit of Halloween alive and well, and take their love of the holiday to new and more mature heights. This past weekend, many of us took part in Halloween celebrations that had little or nothing to do with children. There were parties, club outings and all other manner of grown-up events where the costumes were elaborate…and the alcohol was flowing.

Why do we mention this? Because certain lesser-controlled social situations in which alcohol is present can be problematic for those who are still vulnerable to relapse; and every year, adult Halloween parties fit this description more and more. There are an increasing amount of Halloween-themed cocktails to back up this assertion. We may not think that an occasion as seemingly benign as Halloween can conjure any ghosts beyond the costumed variety; but recovery has taught us that any encounter with alcohol for which we aren’t ready can bring us face to face with the ghosts of our alcoholic pasts, and this can be dangerous no matter what day of the year it is.

Most of us have the strength and durability of our recovery tested every day, and some of us are closer to a setback than others. If at any point this weekend, we felt ourselves to be particularly vulnerable to relapse, we can use this as an opportunity to work the steps of our aftercare plans and get in touch with our therapists and treatment professionals. This rule of thumb applies to every day of the year, including October 31st. In an age where Halloween has come to mean jellybeans and Jell-O shots in equal measure, we can’t be too careful and must always keep our recovery first…even when we think we’ve got it under control. Recovery Unplugged wishes everyone a safe, fun and happy Halloween.

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Sing Your Life: The Positive Impact of Singing on the Brain

[fa icon="calendar'] Oct 21, 2016 8:07:00 AM / by RU Texas posted in Recovery, Music Therapy, Singing, Rehab

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Ever notice how we often sing when we’re excited, exuberant or motivated? This is not a coincidence. Nor is it a coincidence that over 30 million adults in America are in choirs. Whether we’re in the car, performing live, singing with our friends, cleaning our houses or in any other environment, singing just makes us feel better. This is one of the reasons why, regardless of whether or not we’ve ever picked up an instrument, we can all benefit from music therapy. Group-singing, in particular has been said to elicit feelings of camaraderie, jubilation and fulfillment. The reasons for this are many and varied.

For one thing, singing releases oxytocin, a neuropeptide that is said to elicit positive emotions, mediate social behavior and regulate stress and anxiety. This is why karaoke is one of the most common group activities. When we sing with others, it helps us to “break the ice” and connect with people on a deeper level that the social barriers of normal verbal communication often prevent. Singing also releases endorphins, which are hormones commonly associated with feelings of pleasure and satisfaction. Endorphins are also released during other pleasurable activities like working out, eating and sex. These benefits can be reaped from singing, regardless of whether or not we consider ourselves “good singers”. We should never be afraid or self-conscious to sing.

Whether or not we’re in recovery, singing can breathe new life into our routines and significantly improve our overall mental health. We don’t have to start performing at clubs, writing our own songs or even join a choir to start integrating singing into our lives. For many, the process simply begins and ends with memorizing the lyrics to their favorite songs and singing along as often as they can. We might be surprised at just how much better we feel when we let loose and belt out some of our favorite tunes. The next time you’re feeling anxious, depressed or vulnerable, just start singing.

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The Importance of Specialized Therapies in Addiction Treatment

[fa icon="calendar'] Oct 19, 2016 2:14:06 PM / by RU Texas posted in Recovery, Music Therapy, Addiction, Treatment, Rehab

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RU-texas-whitepaper1-shadow.jpgRecovery Unplugged recently published a FREE white paper on the positive impact of music in addiction treatment, and its power to heal those suffering from deep-rooted emotional trauma. We are exceedingly proud of our own Dr. David Kramer for his authorship of this document and look forward to being an integral part of the ongoing conversation conversation regarding more progressive and specialized therapies in addiction care. The days of cookie-cutter treatment are over. Addiction is an unpredictable disease that impacts many, if not all, aspects of sufferers’ lives. Patients in treatment will benefit best from a program that is equipped and inclined to offer the most targeted treatment possible. A fundamental element of this approach is the inclusion of innovative supplemental treatment therapies.

One of the fundamental realities of addiction is that no two cases are exactly the same. Each individual develops and maintains a substance abuse issue based on their own unique set of lifestyle and mental health circumstances. While there may be broad and abstract contributing factors that give birth to substance abuse and allow it to continue (trauma, mental illness, family history, etc.), each sufferer experiences their own painful journey within these paradigms. Despite the unique nature of the disease of addiction from patient to patient, there has, for a long time, been a singular and largely uniform way of treating the problem in a clinical setting that isn’t always able to take into account patients’ specific care needs.

Just as no two cases of substance abuse are identical, neither should the programs through which they’re treated. Each patient should have the benefit of a targeted and individualized care program that addresses their care needs, not only through talk therapy and traditional 12-step counseling; but also through a series of supplemental therapies, the benefits of which speak to the heart of the patients’ deep-rooted emotional issues. As the addiction treatment landscape becomes more and more complex, and new substance abuse threats are emerging at seemingly rapid intervals, an increasing amount of therapies are being developed based on their promising results within select patient populations.

Modalities like music therapy, equine-assisted therapy, art therapy and creative journaling have all proven to be effective in helping patients access their internal voice, overcome their anxiety, relate to others and increase their personal strength and confidence. These techniques empower patients, often on a primal level, and pick up where traditional talk therapy often falls short. While they are not meant to replace proven treatment techniques like group therapy and one-on-one counseling, they have proven extremely effective when incorporated into a larger overall care program.

 

Read the latest Recovery Unplugged White Paper HERE. 

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Taking It with You: Embracing Music in Everyday Recovery

[fa icon="calendar'] Oct 18, 2016 2:02:31 PM / by RU Texas posted in Recovery, Music Therapy, Substance Abuse, Addicion, Rehab

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At Recovery Unplugged, we commonly hear concerns from prospective patients about their lack of musical experience prior to treatment. They’re concerned that they have to have an overtly musical background as a pre-requisite to taking advantage of our program. The truth is that everybody can benefit from music therapy, regardless of whether or not they’ve ever picked up an instrument, written a lyric or even attended a concert. If they have a favorite song, or simply a song of which they’re particularly fond, they can experience the healing power of this modality. Invariably, they wind up understanding the universal nature of music-based therapy, and many even wind up integrating music into their everyday recovery well after they leave our program.

Whether it’s continuing to take lessons on a specific instrument, writing, recording and performing our own music and lyrics, or just being more mindful of how our favorite songs make us feel, patients’ appreciation for and connection to music doesn’t have to end once they complete their treatment. Recovery Unplugged strives to open this world up to everyone, and we encourage our patients to live with music whenever they can. It’s a healing resource that transcends traditional talk therapy and verbal expression; and that’s something from which each and every one of us could benefit, regardless of whether or not we’re in recovery.

People have been utilizing music to heal for thousands of years, and there’s an incredibly viable reason for that: it works. None of us should get caught up in whether or not we “belong” in a music therapy program, because each and every one of us has a place within this healing paradigm. We would like to remind all everyone, including past, present and future patients to live with music in their lives whenever possible, as actively or passively as they wish. Keep singing, playing and writing. 

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Rock 4 Recovery Group Healing Wounded Veterans through Music

[fa icon="calendar'] Oct 13, 2016 4:45:45 PM / by RU Texas posted in Music Therapy, Addiction, PTSD, Trauma, Rehab

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Recovery Unplugged is always gratified and inspired to see another organization working to heal vulnerable populations through the power of music, and that’s exactly what Army Staff Sgt. (Ret.) Paul De La Cerda has been up to. His group, Rock 4 Recovery, is a Houston-based organization that uses music therapy to help veterans who have been wounded in combat. In a recent interview with the Houston Press, De La Cerda describes his impetus to start Rock 4 Recovery, relaying a story of how in 2005, an IED exploded near his vehicle leaving him with traumatic brain injury. The physical injuries caused subsequent memory loss, depression and PTSD.

A lifelong drummer, De La Cerda had to reteach himself how to play after he sustained his injuries. In the course of getting reacquainted with the kit, he discovered a profound catharsis and therapy that he has used to help many others. He soon found himself in a band with other veterans and eventually established space where fellow veterans can come, play music and start healing from the trauma associated with the rigors of their service. Eventually he got bigger names involved and has generated an enormous amount of support in the form of everything from free concert tickets to wounded veterans to VIP experiences. The organization has been a welcome supplemental therapy for vets healing from both external and internal wounds.

 Though lack of funding has caused Rock 4 Recovery to scale back on many of its initiatives, De La Cerda remains committed to helping veterans through the power of music. He has several events and live performances planned in order raise awareness of the plight of wounded vets while providing some much needed entertainment, and respite from the rigors of the recovery process. His efforts are a refreshing resource to an historically at-risk population.

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New Jersey Program Uses Music to Connect with Elders with Dementia

[fa icon="calendar'] Oct 4, 2016 12:16:42 PM / by RU Texas posted in Recovery, Music Therapy, Addiction, Elder, Rehab

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In yet another illustration of the strong and natural relationship between music and the brain’s function, a New Jersey music school is working with elderly residents who have been stricken with dementia to offer a new therapy program. Asbury Park’s Lakehouse Music Academy launched the program in partnership with the Alive Inside Foundation last spring and has seen promising results since its start.

The impetus for the programs establishment came largely from “Alive Inside”, a film that conveys the close and established relationship between music and the human brain. A Lakehouse instructor had seen the film and began the journey of integrating music into her grandmother’s therapy. Shortly after she showed the film to her students, they began collaborating with the Alive Inside Foundation on the pilot program. They set about learning older standards to perform for elderly patients at nursing homes, eldercare facilities, hospitals and other locations. The Alive Inside Foundation hopes to eventually spread the initiative throughout the country.

The program has led to marked changes in participants’ quality of life, including one previously non-verbal patient who began talking and singing after hearing familiar music and connecting with it on a deep and familiar level. It further reinforces music’s ability to transcend verbal communication and reach patients in a way that traditional talk therapy might not be able to. This has been clearly illustrated in various types of mental illness, including depression and substance abuse. Programs like this bring further attention to the tangible and demonstrable healing benefits of music and all that can be gained from simply listening to one’s favorite songs.

To bring further awareness to the relationship between music and healing, the Alive Inside Foundation will be hosting a fundraiser at Asbury Park’s House of Independents on October 20 that will include a screening of the film and a Q and A session with it’s creator, Michael Rossato-Bennett.

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