Stress, Addiction and Mindfulness-Based Therapies

Stress, Addiction and Mindfulness-Based Therapies

Stress is powerful and destructive. It attacks one’s frame of reference. Stress can send a recovering addict straight into the arms of active addiction. It courses throughout the body like a tidal wave. It leaves devastation in its wake, at first, there are only small pockets of residue left behind, but eventually it corrupts the body’s ability to fight disease, to maintain a positive attitude, or to cope with the everyday stressors of living. Decades have passed since the introduction of biofeedback occurred where patients learned to focus attention on calming bodily function using electric cues. Relaxing muscles and focusing on relaxation were found to alter the person’s physical and mental state. In 1979, MBSR (Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction) program was introduced to patients with physical and mental health problems. And that began the movement acknowledging the mind/body connection. Today researchers are actively looking at the impact of practicing mindfulness in treating many diseases: including addiction! Mindfulness therapy teaches the patient to: Pay attention in the moment Awareness and acceptance of thoughts and feelings Re-preceive thoughts According to a Study published in Substance Abuse Oct/Dec. 2009, researchers found that Mindfulness-based interventions produced positive results in overcoming experiential avoidance. The ability to look at the thought or feeling in the moment without judgment enabled clients to respond differently to those thoughts and feelings. Clients were able to interrupt poor behavioral choices, and automatic responses were avoided. A series of papers called for by the National Institute of Health indicated that those who received Mindfulness-based therapies experienced fewer cravings, and experienced stress reduction. In a study published in JAMA Psychiatry, Sarah Bowen, of...
New Study Reinforces the Need for Comprehensive Aftercare

New Study Reinforces the Need for Comprehensive Aftercare

The September, 2014, issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association published the results of a new study which found that those who overcame one addiction had a lower risk of developing a new addiction. The study, which involved 34,653 individuals suffering from substance use disorder were interviewed twice three years apart during 2001 and 2004. The data taken from the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions found the long-held belief that addicts would substitute one addiction for another to be erroneous. Indeed, only 13% of former addicts replaced the first substance with a new one. Those who stopped using their original drug of choice had significantly lower risk, less than half, of developing a new addiction. Young unmarried men with psychiatric problems were most likely to fall victim to additional addictions. The study further revealed that the substitution hypothesis, which has guided many treatment protocols, evolved out of therapists’ assumptions. These new findings raise many new issues. However, lifestyle changes, as well as strong coping strategies still play a crucial role in establishing a stable recovery. Therefore, the availability of strong aftercare programs remains a critical component to sobriety. Technology Supports Continuing Care for Substance Abuse Disorders In January, 2012, the Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment published a study examining benefits of computerized continuing support for those suffering from SUD. The study spanned 18 months and included several disease management programs, as well as components such as recovery coaches. While participation fell after the first year, those that accessed a variety of program components maintained a higher rate of abstinence and consumed less alcohol or...
Aftercare Fights Stigmatization and Relapse

Aftercare Fights Stigmatization and Relapse

The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health released the results of a new study examining Americans’ attitude toward those suffering from substance use disorders opposed to those suffering from mental illness. Americans have a harsher, unsympathetic view of people who suffer from addiction and are less willing to support positive public policies to deal with SUD. Published in the October issue of the Journal of Psychiatric Services, the study suggest that Americans view SUD as a weakness of character and a personal failing rather than a treatable medical condition like diabetes or heart disease. 64 percent of those responding believe employers should be able to deny employment to people with a drug addiction compared to 25 percent who believe employers have a right to deny employment to those suffering from mental illness. How do we as an industry respond to the misunderstandings and bias held by so many Americans? And what role does aftercare programs play in combating stigmatization? Addiction Recovery and Management The authors of another study sited in Addiction Recovery Management found that the acute care model, along with the commercialization of addiction treatment have moved addiction treatment into the brief, and discrete care models. The researchers believe a sustained recovery management model would produce far more positive results that would include post-treatment monitoring and support. (Addiction Recovery Management, 2011, pp 67-87) A new report from the University of Pretoria found “there was a lack of manual or guidelines on how aftercare and reintegration service should be rendered…” Furthermore, clinicians were relatively uninformed adding to “the lack of support, boredom and experience of stigma” felt by...

Reducing Relapse Rates Among Opiate Users

On Oct. 3, 2014, the CDC released a new data survey. This data revealed that the national statistics for deaths due to opiate overdoses quadrupled (1999-2010) while deaths due to heroin doubled (2010-2012). The data came from 28 states revealing: The number of persons using OPR nonmedically on a frequent basis also has grown (6). From 2002–2004 to 2008–2010, past year heroin use increased among persons reporting frequent nonmedical use of OPR, from 62.0 to 94.7 per 1,000. Moreover, the only increases in past year heroin use were observed among persons who reported past year nonmedical use of OPR… Some in the government’s health agencies believe the increase in heroin use and overdoses can be attributed to the cost and diminished accessibility of opiates on the street. Data indicates that non-prescription pain medication users are at greatest risk for using heroin. The greatest increase of heroin use was found between two demographics: the 26 to 34 years and 50 years and older age groups. Males in both demographics were found to be at greatest risk. (JAMA, Sept. 2012, Vol. 172, No. 16) In 2007, Florida led the nation with doctors who prescribed opiates: 98 of the nation’s top 100 prescribing doctors. Because of the national outcry, Florida enacting stricter regulatory laws controlling pain clinics and the dispensation of painkillers. Between 2003 and 2012 Florida has seen heroin use rise and fall but since 2012, Florida’s statistics indicates that heroin use is on the rise again. Addiction Treatment is Only Part of the Answer A study published in The Irish Medical Journal, (Smyth, B.P. et. al., June 2010) found that...

According to an article on PsychCentral (10/22/14) a new study from Columbia University’s National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse found what researchers what have long known. There are no national standards for addiction care, and that the acute care model that directs treatment is failing patients. In a previous blog, the issue of acute care versus chronic care was raised. The underlying realities of the acute care model remain. Here are the known facts: Addiction is a chronic disease Continual care and status check-ups are needed Addressing real-time issues are crucial to maintaining sobriety (drugs and alcohol) Mental health issues must be addressed simultaneously and for the long term Known scientific therapies do work and need to be utilized Professional staffing with expertise in drug and alcohol addiction is needed Separate programs for men and women along with specialty treatments (religions, sexual preference) Comprehensive family programs need to be integrated into the treatment program Strong support systems need to be established Clinical groups for aftercare must be part of the treatment program Aftercare programs help maintain early sobriety and solidify the tools for recovery Use technology to help support those in recovery Columbia University launches new interactive website In keeping with the times, Columbia University has launched a new interactive website that allows providers and patients access to recovery information and tools. Does this sound familiar? Recovery Passport Solutions is dedicated to shifting the failure of drug and alcohol treatment programs by utilizing web based tools. Where Columbia University’s interactive website offers people tools to determine whether addiction is a problem, we offer treatment facilities the tools to “shore up”...
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