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Food Addictions are Real and More People are at Risk

Compulsive eating can become a dangerous problem in a similar way as abusing alcohol or addictive drugs, according to researchers. In all these instances, the compulsion to use or consume a substance has the potential to become a full-on addiction.

Some Types of Foods Stimulate Brain’s Pleasure Centers

Repeated exposure to sugars, fats, salts, etc., stimulates the brain’s pleasure centers. It creates a feedback loop of craving, indulging, consuming and regretting. This cycle repeats itself the next day, and the next, and so on. If the person continues this cycle in spite of the negative consequences, you have a recipe for addiction.

Research has revealed that approximately 30% of people who try heroin become addicted to the drug. About 16 percent of cocaine users have the same experience. According to a study, when a group of overweight or obese subjects had the definition of addiction explained to them, 29 percent of the subjects said they were addicted to food (Frontiers in Psychiatry).

Over 40% of Americans are obese and 71.5% are considered overweight. These figures suggest an unhealthy relationship with food is common in this country.

No Abstinence Solution for Food Addicts

Food is more subtle than drugs. There is no way that someone with a food addiction can embrace abstinence, since food is essential for life. It would have to be a constant juggling act: Eat a little, without going overboard. Be sure to eat the good stuff and avoid junk food. Sometimes a person will do all the right things, as we all do. There will be days when they binge and make a bad choice about what they eat, just like we all do.

How Dopamine Relates to Pleasure Sensations

Pleasure gets processed in the part of the brain called the striatum. It’s located deep in the midbrain and is rich in D2 receptors, which exist to bind with the feel-good transmitter dopamine. It’s the transmitter that drives the reward system. When a person does something that gives them a sense of satisfaction, dopamine is responsible for the good feeling that follows. It’s also linked to feelings of pleasure around food, intoxication and having sex.

As long as the dopamine levels remain in balance in the striatum, a person’s ability to control their appetite for pleasure will stay in check. They will be able to limit themselves to one piece of cake for dessert or a glass of wine with dinner, for example. If this system starts to blink, such as when too few D2 receptors are in place and too little dopamine is released to engage with them, behavior changes strikingly. It becomes easier to act impulsively, with little thought to the consequences.

Compulsive eaters don’t simply lack willpower or discipline. They have a similar battle on their hands as drug addicts and they need support if they are going to recover.

Opioid Crisis Took a $631B Toll Out of US Economy in Only Four Years: Study

The results of a study conducted by the Society of Actuaries found that the opioid crisis cost the US economy $631 billion from 2015-2018. The largest portion of this cost was attributed to the potential lifetime earnings of people who died due to drugs, with healthcare costs coming in second place.

Governments Suing Drug Companies

More than 2,000 local and state governments have taken drug manufacturers to court over their role in the opioid crisis. They are seeking to recover damages for the cost of first responder services, public health services and more. The results from the report found that the private sector and individuals bear most of the financial cost (more than two-thirds) as opposed to the government (less than one-third).

Financial Costs of Opioid Crisis Difficult to Track

The federal government has been keeping statistics on the number of deaths attributed to opioid abuse. The number has reached 400,000 American lives lost since 2000. Getting a clear figure of the financial cost has been more difficult.

According to a report released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the cost was $79 billion (2013). This figure is less than half the cost published in the latest report for more recent years. The opioid crisis has also intensified since 2013; fentanyl and carfentanil have contributed to a higher death toll. Opioid-related deaths grew throughout 2017 and stabilized in 2018 at approximately 47,000 lost lives.

According to the actuaries’ report, the opioid crisis will cost approximately $171-$214 billion in 2019. Even the most optimistic prediction puts the cost higher than the 2017 numbers.

Child Welfare, Criminal Justice Costs Up due to Opioids

The new study found that child welfare system and criminal justice costs have increased due to the opioid epidemic. Most of the increased health care costs related to opioid addiction and overdoses were absorbed by Medicaid, Medicare and other types of government programs. The crisis was also responsible for $18 billion in commercial insurance costs in 2018 and lost productivity accounted for an additional $27 billion hit to the economy last year.

New Resource Launched for Recovery Coaches

As more evidence points to long-term engagement being a key factor in permanent recovery rates, people are turning toward outpatient treatment, private therapists, peer support specialists and recovery coaches for help.

For a certain percentage of people struggling with substance use, there will always be a need for residential treatment, and they also still need aftercare programs to help build on the foundation that a treatment program can establish.

Recovery Coaches as a Part of the Continuum of Care

The American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) has various levels of treatment, ranging from high-level medical detoxification to periodic outpatient treatment. People receiving these various levels generally have to meet certain criteria to determine medical necessity, which unfortunately is largely driven by insurance companies. However, there is a greater recognition that continuing on in a setting such as intensive outpatient treatment (IOP) for a period of a few months, then stepping down to regular outpatient for a few more months is improving recovery rates. Other services that improve recovery rates include paraprofessional help through peer recovery support specialists, recovery coaches and sponsors, mentors and support groups. When combined, they add significant value to the overall treatment process.

Now there is a new resource forming just for recovery coaches and these peer support specialists, and its launch coincides with National Recovery Month. Erecoverycoaches.com provides a way for recovery coaches to offer their services directly to people in need, as well as a way for individuals to browse or search for recovery coaches who may be a good fit for them.

It is free to add a listing, and the intent is to grow it into a large, hand-curated resource for recovery coaches nationally.

Jails Slow to Help Addicted Inmates with Craving-Reducing Medication

Many jails are slow to help inmates with substance abuse issues. They are just starting to offer medications to help control cravings. Most jails only dispense one of the drugs approved for this purpose.

Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) is considered the standard treatment approach for opioid addiction. Buprenorphine and methadone are prescribed to treat withdrawal symptoms and reduce cravings. Naltrexone blocks the effects of opioids, and can also reduce cravings. This medication can also be used to treat alcoholism.

Approximately 220 of more than 3,000 jails across the US make naltrexone available to inmates. In most instances, the medication is offered to those who are about to be released. Only about 20 jails offer buprenorphine or methadone.

Cost One of the Barriers to Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT)

Experts say barriers to using medications to treat addiction are cost and the long-held belief that total abstinence is the way to attain sobriety. They point out that addiction doesn’t resolve itself because the affected person isn’t using drugs regularly. Many inmates with addiction issues will start using on release if they don’t get appropriate treatment.

A doctor must obtain a special license to distribute buprenorphine and methadone, which may not be easy for a physician working in a jail to acquire. These medications should be continued on a long-term basis to be an effective long-term drug treatment solution.

For inmates transitioning to life outside of jail, the change can be challenging enough without keeping track of medications. Many offenders who have recently been released have little support from family or friends.

MAT Can Help Reduce Relapses, Return to Custody

According to experts, offering opioid addiction treatment to jail inmates could help to address the opioid epidemic, since offenders may be less likely to use drugs after their release. Some research studies have shown MAT is effective at reducing relapses and the likelihood of returning to jail. The results of a small study on MAT with inmates in Rhode Island found that opioid overdose deaths among newly released offenders dropped by 60 percent.

AMA Approves Policy to Remove Barriers to Opioid Treatment

Delegates attending the recent American Medical Association (AMA) annual meeting approved a number of policies, including doing away with barriers to medication assisted therapy (MAT).

The delegates approved policies that will allow the AMA to do the following:

• Push for the end to administrative barriers to MAT. These include prior authorization that is responsible for delays and denials of care to patients.

• Push for the enforcement of substance abuse and mental health parity laws.

• Support laws to ensure that patients have access to all FDA-approved medications and therapies in all drug treatment clinics and facilities.

• Call for a public awareness campaign to share the information MAT is a first-line treatment for opioid use disorder.

• Coordinate efforts with interested organizations to decide best practices to treat opioid abuse disorder in the manner of a chronic disease.

• Support states in evaluating programs that have received funding from government sources to assist hospitals, medical practitioners and communities in order to coordinate care for patients living with opioid use disorder.

• Work for expansion and increased access to treatment for substance abuse during pregnancy.

• Make sure that practicing physicians, residents and medical students receive education on prescribing opioids.

Doctors Can Help Fight Addiction Stigma

Dr. Patrice A. Harris, the AMA’s president-elect and chair of the AMA Opioid Task Force, stated that doctors have a role in fighting to end the stigma around drug abuse and MAT. She went on to say that this type of treatment “has been shown to decrease overdose mortality, reduce transmission of infectious disease, and reduce general health care expenditures.”

Universal Access to MAT Not Available

Access to buprenorphine is not universally available to patients, in spite of scientific evidence showing that it prevents deaths from opioid use disorder. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) also lists it as one of the medications that is commonly used to treat opioid addiction.

A study found that that fewer than one in three eligible doctors have been avoiding prescribing buprenorphine. Another study revealed that buprenorphine is underprescribed by family doctors. For every 40 family doctors who prescribed opioid pain medications, only one family physician prescribed buprenorphine-naloxone.

Jail Addiction Treatment Program Struggling From Medicaid Funding Lack

Polk County, Iowa’s addiction treatment program has decreased by more than three-quarters and is now struggling to survive. Leaders of the Bridges of Iowa program, which has been called an “innovative way to respond to drug-related crime,” is blaming a lack of Medicaid funding for its current woes.

Medicaid Covers Addiction Counseling for Offenders

Medicaid is the public health-care plan that covers low-income state residents. Inmates who are sentenced to jail for crimes linked to addiction, such as theft, are also covered under Medicaid. Organizers at the Bridges of Iowa program have said they been unable to collect more than a fraction of the amount they have billed the public health-care plan for counseling and other services for clients involved with the justice system.

Clinical Director Angie Rodberg stated that the Bridges of Iowa (Bridges) program, which at one point served up to 150 people, was reduced to only 23 clients by early February.

Funding Rehab Programs Can Present a Challenge

The Bridges program has been helping clients in a separate part of the jail from the one housing inmates since 2012. Most of the program’s participants enter the program once they are released from jail on probation; one of the conditions they are required to meet is that they comply with the Bridges treatment program.

Program organizers said their main financial difficulty is that the private companies in charge of running the state’s Medicaid program have not provided reliable payments for therapy sessions. The leaders, who have become frustrated by the situation, have basically given up trying to bill Medicaid for services. Dozens of employees have been laid off, and the program is now relying on private donations to provide a reduced level of support to help clients get their life back on track following an arrest for addiction-related crime.

System Has Become a Tragedy

Ms. Connolly mentioned the opioid epidemic has been discussed at length in the press, and that it’s an issue that politicians have been saying needs to be solved. She said, “We know there’s a crisis — the state recognizes that — but they’re not fulfilling their obligations.” She went on to say that the whole system has become a tragedy.

Americans Abusing OTC Meds Along with Opioids: Study

Prescription opioid pain medications aren’t the only drugs being abused by Americans. Over the counter (OTC) preparations are also falling into that category.

The results of a new study conducted by researchers at Boston University School of Health has revealed that close to one in five users of headache remedies like Advil and Aleve doesn’t use the medicine as recommended. They admitted to exceeding the maximum recommended dose during a one-week period.

OTC Medication Use by Consumers Unsafe

People who use too many of these NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory pain relievers) likely won’t be starting on the slippery slope of moving toward heroin use. That doesn’t mean what they are doing is safe.

Dr. David Kaufman, the lead researcher on the study, and a professor of epidemiology at Boston University’s School of Public Health, explained that these drugs can produce serious side effects when taken. Even though they are readily available, it doesn’t mean that consumers can make up their own dose, no matter what the dosing instructions say on the label.

Consumers Don’t Read Medication Packages When Dosing

Consumers’ attitude that they can choose their own dose, no matter what the label states, along with lack of knowledge about dosing limits, is contributing to exceeding the daily limit, according to Dr. Kaufman.

The study was conducted in 2015-2016 by having 1,326 participants keep drug diaries for a week. Participants were, on average, 45 years of age. The majority of them (75 percent) were white, and 60 percent were women.

Most of the study participants (87 percent) took ibuprofen, which is sold OTC under brands like Motrin or Advil. Thirty-seven percent of the participants reported they took other NSAIDs like Aspirin or naproxen, such as Aleve.

Chronic Pain Patients More Likely to Take Higher Doses

The study results showed more than 15 percent of the study participants took too many of the pills at least one day of the week. Participants who live with chronic pain were even more likely to take more than the recommended dose.

When asked whether non-prescription pill abusers were trying to avoid taking opioids, Dr. Kaufman replied he didn’t think that scenario applied in this instance. He said that avoiding opioids may influence prescribing behavior for physicians, but it may not have a similar effect on consumers.

Before Meth Intervention, Families are Encouraged to Choose Treatment Location

choose meth interventionOnce you finally get your loved one to accept that he or she needs help overcoming meth addiction, the decision as to what type of treatment is best will come up. As a family member or loved one considering a meth intervention, it’s important for you to also consider WHERE your loved one will go if he or she says YES to rehab. Chances are, as the family member asking your loved one to seek help for his or her meth addiction, you’ll also be the one expected to help cover the costs of treatment so it’s best to prepare for that in advance.

It’s hard enough to get your loved one to accept treatment for his or her addiction—forcing the burden of finding and choosing a rehab center on him or her may defeat your efforts and leave you back at square one. Think about it from an addict’s standpoint, It can be hard to make decisions about your rehab when you are still in the middle of full-blown meth addiction. The drug makes you more likely to be distracted and this ruins the thought process. Thinking clearly, especially when you’ve just been faced with your family, friends and an interventionist encouraging you to quit, can be quite difficult.

Narrow down the options and simplify the decision-making process by picking either inpatient care or outpatient care for your loved one BEFORE the meth intervention happens. This way there are no roadblocks when help is accepted.

Inpatient Care: The Basics

If you decide to recommend inpatient rehab for your loved one, he or she will be required to remain at the rehab facility for the entirety of the treatment. This period is generally 30-90 days or more. The addict will eat, sleep, and bathe at the rehab center which will provide around-the-clock care for him or her. From intake to the days when the rehab program comes to a close, your loved one will reside at the treatment facility.

Outpatient Care: The Basics

On the other hand, if you choose outpatient care the individual is not in any way required to reside at the facility. Instead, patients are scheduled to attend rehab sessions and they are required only to arrive at the rehab to take part in those sessions. All other activities take place outside the rehab center leaving much of the recovery process to be taken on by the addict looking to you and other loved ones for added support.

Benefits of Choosing Inpatient Rehab

Inpatient rehab, first, is ideal for patients who are homeless or who have unstable housing, just as many with a meth addiction do. This allows them to get proper rest and maintain a nutritious diet during their treatment, and this lets them do their best in recovery without the burden of outside stressors.

Additionally, inpatient rehab provides a completely drug and alcohol-free space, removing any possibility of relapse. If your loved one faces daily temptation in his or her normal life, this environment may be vital to their success in rehab.

Benefits of Outpatient Rehab

If your loved one has avoided rehab because of obligations to their home, family, or workplace that they cannot fail to fulfill, you may consider outpatient rehab. This could also help you to get a positive response during the intervention as there will be less resistance toward the idea of rehab since it won’t be taking away from their daily priorities. Outpatient rehab allows participants to continue living their daily lives, which means people who may not otherwise accept rehab for help may be more conducive to it.

Still Wondering Which Is Best?

If you’re still on the fence as to whether inpatient or outpatient rehab is the best choice for you call 1-888-605-7779. We’ll connect you with an intervention specialist that will help you get your loved one sober once and for all.

Advice for Friends and Family Considering Alcohol Intervention

advice for alcohol interventionsFew things are more stressful than dealing with an addict. You feel obligated to care for the person you love as they grapple with their addiction, but you also need to take the time to nurture and care for yourself. Approaching the situation with understanding and a willingness to participate in the recovery process can both give you a way to help the addict you love, but can also help you to heal.

If you’re considering the idea of an alcohol intervention to get your loved one into treatment, the following advice can help you to balance out your emotions and to make the right decision towards help. For assistance in finding a local interventionist, call 1-888-605-7779 today.

Participate

Yes, you need to practice self-care and make your life a priority, but your participation will make a huge difference in your loved one’s recovery, so don’t disappear on them. Clinical experience indicates support from family and friends is an important component of recovery from alcohol addiction. Health providers consistently recommend it.

If you are uncertain about the role you can play or the support you should offer, call our helpline at 1-888-605-7779 for answers. We’ll help you to figure out how YOU can actively participate in helping your loved one to get into alcohol rehab through a carefully planned and executed alcohol intervention.

Be Patient

Overcoming an alcohol addiction is not fast nor is it easy. You will have to remind yourself that altering deeply ingrained habits takes time, is very difficult, and may require repeated efforts. If you’ve tried intervention before and failed, don’t be afraid to try again—a Systemic Family Intervention may be helpful in getting your family system to change and ultimately pulling the addicted individual along with you to make positive change.

Most people who are making a big change will face some backsliding; alcohol addiction recovery is no different. Even once you get your loved one to commit to rehab, the reality is relapse is always going to be a likely possibility. Don’t give up.

Most addicts have some degree of relapse during their recovery and it is not a signal of failure. Relapse merely points to the need for increased, modified, or reinstated treatment. If you are having trouble getting your loved one to accept that he or she needs continuing or modified treatment, an intervention can help. The interventionist will support you and provide helpful ways that you can get your loved one to commit to his or her recovery once again.

Pay Attention

It’s very easy to be angry when your loved one is in the throes of their addiction and then to remove yourself from the situation when they are getting better. Families often take recovery for granted not realizing the impact that this has on the addict. Whether you’re in the early stages of considering an alcohol intervention OR you’ve already tried to intervene and you’re considering what else can be done before life gets to rock bottom, your attention to detail will go a long way in helping your loved one.

Alcohol interventions begin with YOUR support. It all starts with YOU recognizing that your loved one is sick, needs help, and simply cannot get sober on his or her own. However, after alcohol rehab is over and the recovering individual in your life is making strides towards a sober lifestyle of his or her own it’s important that you pay attention when they are improving or making an effort. A word of acknowledgment and kind words of encouragement show that you care.

Need Help Finding an Interventionist?

For help finding an alcohol intervention specialist that can guide your family down the road of addiction recovery, call 1-888-605-7779. We can connect you with local interventionists that are ready to assist with the planning, execution and follow-up care that is required to help your loved one overcome alcohol addiction once and for all.