Graphic Images and Smoking

smokingSmoking rates have dropped dramatically over the last several decades. Every adult knows that cigarettes carry inherent risks to one’s health. It seems like with each year that passes, researchers add to the list of conditions and cancers linked to tobacco use. While health officials and lawmakers have made it more difficult for tobacco companies to market and sell their products, millions of Americans continue to smoke despite these risks.

In recent years there has been a lot of talk about placing graphic images on cigarette packaging, pictures that show smokers what can happen. Public health experts believe that it would be a deterrent that may stop people from picking up the habit and may influence current smokers to quit. Naturally, tobacco lobbyist have put up stiff resistance to the implementation of such warnings, which is why we still have only the Surgeon General’s warning. Interestingly, new research suggests that graphic warnings may not have the desired result and may produce a boomerang effect, Science Daily reports. The findings were published online by the journal Communication Research.

A Threat to Freedom

The study, conducted by researchers at the University of Illinois found that graphic images may be viewed by smokers as a threat to their freedom, choice or autonomy. When some people are told what to do, or have the feeling that they are being told what to, they will often do the opposite.

“What we found is that most people don’t like these warning labels, whether they are smokers or nonsmokers,” said Nicole LaVoie, a doctoral student in communication and the lead author of the study. “It makes them angry, it makes them express negative thoughts about the packaging, that they’re being manipulated,” LaVoie said. “Ultimately, it also makes them think that the source — the government in this case, mandating these labels — is being overly domineering, is being too much in their business.”

Smoking in Recovery

If you are working a program of recovery and also smoke cigarettes, you may want to seriously consider breaking the habit. Cigarettes are extremely difficult to quit and are also bad for you, but new research suggest that people in recovery who smoke are at much greater risk of relapse. In recent years, a significant number of people working a program have turned to e-cigarettes as healthier alternative; however, some e-juices that smokers vaporize actually contain a small amount of alcohol which could potentially trigger a relapse.

Marijuana Can Lead to Substance Use Disorders

substance use disorderLast month, a new study was published that debunked the often stated claim that marijuana was the “gateway” drug, meaning the use of cannabis would lead people to trying harder, more dangerous narcotics, possibly resulting with the development of a substance use disorder. The study painted a picture of the true gateway drug – alcohol. While the findings shined a new light on an old idea, it does not mean that the use of marijuana is completely safe and that those who use marijuana won’t go on to try harder drugs.

The changing views about cannabis in the United States, for better or worse, has resulted in long overdue research about the drug. A new study published recently found that people who smoke marijuana were at a much greater risk of developing an addiction to other drugs or alcohol, HealthDay reports. The research was published in JAMA Psychiatry.

All Roads Lead from Marijuana

The findings come from preliminary interviews of nearly 35,000 adults, who were interviewed again three years later. Almost 1,300 of the adults used marijuana, according to the article. The researchers found that two-thirds of cannabis users had some type of substance use disorder after the second interview. Of those who didn’t use marijuana, only 20 percent were found to have a substance use disorder. What’s more, the researchers observed that people who used marijuana once or more a month, had higher rates of substance use disorders.

“This new finding raises the possibility that the recent rise in marijuana use may be contributing to the coincident rise in serious harms related to narcotics and other drugs of abuse,” said lead researcher Dr. Mark Olfson, professor of psychiatry at Columbia University Medical Center in New York City.

Recreational Disaster

With more states lightening their laws regarding marijuana, and four states where adults 21-years or older using marijuana legally, it is important that we acknowledge the fact that marijuana is not a benign substance just because it’s legal. Alcohol has been legal for a long time; every year thousands of people lose their life due to the use of the substance, from alcohol related illness and accidents.

“In the ongoing national debate concerning whether to legalize recreational marijuana, the public and legislators should take into consideration the potential for marijuana use to increase the risk of developing alcohol abuse and other serious drug problems,” said Olfson.

Substance Use Disorders

If you or a loved one’s use of marijuana, or another mind altering substance is out of control, reach out for help before the problem worsens. Please contact N2 Treatment to get on the road to recovery.

Treating Neuropathic Pain With Prescription Opioids

neuropathic-painWhile prescription opioids are highly addictive and have led to an epidemic in the United States, there is no question prescription opioids are great for treating pain. When people go to a hospital with a minor injury they might receive Tylenol 3 (codeine) or Vicodin (hydrocodone), if a patient is in need of surgery they are given something a lot stronger, such as morphine or fentanyl. People who are living with chronic pain are often prescribed monthly supplies of opioids and are at a heightened risk of developing a dependency to the drugs which can lead to addiction.

The treatment of chronic pain over the last 15 years played a large part in creating the opioid epidemic that we face today. This is a fact which suggests that physicians need to adopt different prescribing practices, and look to alternative forms of pain management treatment. Opioids have long been the go-to treatment for all forms of pain, but it turns out that treating certain types of pain with opioids may counter health improvements.

The Nerve of Prescribing Opioids

The American Chronic Pain Association states that neuropathic pain often involves nerve fiber damage which sends the wrong signals to other pain centers. Neuropathic pain can be difficult to live with, diminishing one’s quality of life. So it is not all that surprising those doctors will prescribe opioids for neuropathic pain. However, new research suggests that patients prescribed opioids for neuropathic pain experienced no improvements in physical functioning, compared to patients treated with alternative therapies, Medical Daily reports. The research was published in the journal Pain Medicine.

“Opioids can help people with severe pain be more comfortable, but if they are not also facilitating improved function, the impact of these medications on quality of life should be questioned,” said Geoff Bostick, lead author of the study.

Researchers analyzed data from 789 patients, some of the participants were using opioids to treat the neuropathic pain. The participants provided self-reported baseline measures of function before the study, and then again after six and twelve months of treatment, according to the article. The patients using opioids for neuropathic pain saw no improvements in physical functioning, compared to patients using other therapies.

Hindering Improvement

If using prescription opioids during the healing process does not improve physical function, it begs the question of whether or not they should always be used. Bostick points out that improving movement and function may be more important than pain relief. If we consider all the risks of using opioids, it is hard not to agree with him.

Exercise and Craving Alcohol

exerciseWhen people get sober and begin working a program of recovery, many find themselves with a lot of energy and an urge to live healthy which beg for an outlet. Recovering alcoholics and addicts will often turn to recreational sports or aerobic exercise, joining softball leagues or getting memberships to a gym.

Living with addiction is often a sedentary existence, addicts and alcoholics have a single goal worth putting their energy into, that of finding their next buzz or high. Once accomplished, there is typically a lot of down time. When those in recovery find that the cloud of addiction has lifted from their mind, the desire to be active is strong. Most addiction counselors encourage people in recovery to engage in activities that will release endorphin’s, as long as such activities do not morph into new addictions.

Exercising Into A Glass

It turns out that people in recovery may want to be careful when it comes to exercise, as new research indicates that the activity may result in cravings for alcohol. New research has found that the people who exercise more may drink more alcohol or want to drink, Medical Daily reports. The findings indicate that the trend has to do with the brains search for reward.

When a person exercises, adrenaline is released which results in a feeling of euphoria. After the workout, many people are driven to prolong the high they have been experiencing. The findings should be particularly alarming for those in recovery who work out, lest exercise lead to a relapse.

The Last “Rep” Happens in The Bar

At Pennsylvania State University, researchers examined the health of 150 men and women between the ages of 18 and 75, according to the article. With the goal of determining the link between alcohol use following exercise, those who took part in the study filled out a questionnaire and then used a smartphone app to record daily drinking and exercise habits over three 21 day periods. The study’s authors wrote, “People drank more than usual on the same days that they engaged in more physical activity than usual.” The findings were published in the journal Health Psychology.

“In contrast to proposals that physical activity (PA) can be a substitute for alcohol use, people who engage in greater overall PA generally consume more alcohol on average than less-active peers,” wrote the study’s authors.

Recovery and Exercise

If you are working a program of recovery, it is important that you remain physically active, but it is even more important that your program stays strong. If you are working out and you are finding a heightened urge to consume alcohol afterward, it is probably best to call your sponsor and/or get to a meeting. You never want to be idle when experiencing cravings that if acted upon would jeopardize your recovery.

Driving Under The Influence of Prescription Drugs

drugged-drivingWith more people than ever taking prescription narcotics, the likelihood that people will drive under the influence is that much greater. Even though prescription drugs are legal, it does not remotely mean that they are safe to drive with in one’s system. Developed nations have requirements that prescription bottles warn of the dangers of operating heavy machinery while taking the drug. Unfortunately, a number of people choose to drive despite the warning labels, meaning that the labels are not a strong deterrent.

New research suggest that warning labels are not enough and most people drive while under the influence of the prescription drugs, ScienceDaily reports. The findings will be presented at the Tackling Drug Driving in Queensland: Leading Research and Contextual Issues symposium in Brisbane, Australia.

Use Care When Operating A Vehicle

Road safety researcher Dr Tanya Smyth, from the Queensland University of Technology’s (QUT) Centre for Accident Research & Road Safety, said that driving while taking some prescription drugs can be just as dangerous as driving under the influence of illegal drugs. Smythe found that warning labels and pharmacist consultations were the chief systems used for controlling drugged driving, according to the article. Such methods are ineffective when you consider that prescription drug users have to self-assess their impairment, a subjective gauge to say the least.

“The biggest problem is that research has shown drivers are unable to accurately self-assess their impairment when taking medication and are overconfident in assessing their abilities,” said Smythe.

May Cause Drowsiness

In the 21st Century, many prescriptions are filled online and are sent to people’s home. This means that a number of patients are not being consulted with by pharmacists. Dr Smyth said prescription drug users were not receiving important advice from pharmacists, the article reports.

“This limits their exposure to verbal warnings, and increases the likelihood of people having to rely on labels.”

Smyth added that more research is required to fully understand how medications affect individuals.

“Some medications can cause a variety of impairments including drowsiness, increased reaction time, loss of mental concentration, shakiness and affect coordination and these all make it unsafe to drive, cycle or use machinery”.

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Please contact N2 Treatment if you are struggling with prescription drugs. We can assist you in finding the right treatment which will help you start your journey of recovery.

Childhood Head Injuries Could Lead to Alcohol Abuse

alcohol-abuseConcussions, head traumas, or traumatic brain injuries (TBI), are something that can severely impact one’s life and can be fatal. We see it all the time with football players who take major hits, they walk off the field and go home. Sometimes people with TBIs go to bed and never wake up.

It turns out, that even minor concussions can lead to changes in the brain that can impact people later on in life, possibly resulting in addiction. New research suggests that females who experience a head injury during childhood may be at an increased risk of alcohol abuse later in life, ScienceDaily reports. The study was published in the Journal of Neurotrauma.

A Bump On The Head

Working with mice, researchers found that females who experienced “mild closed-head brain injury” were at a greater risk of misusing alcohol later in life, according to the article. The females were also more likely to associate drinking with reward and pleasure.

Fortunately, the adverse effects may be reversible with enriched environments. The mice that were raised in environments that provided activities were less likely to exhibit increased drinking behavior, when compared to the mice raised in standard housing. The researchers found that enriched environments reduced degeneration of nerve axons.

It’s Not Set In Stone

“We wanted to demonstrate that this effect is not set in stone at the time of injury,” said Zachary Weil, assistant professor of neuroscience at The Ohio State University and lead author of the study. “There are ways to intervene, but they’re expensive in terms of effort and money. It requires sustained treatment and rehabilitation and educational support.”

“The best therapy for a childhood brain injury is everybody getting great medical care and rehabilitation, regardless of socioeconomic status,” he said. “People with juvenile head injuries are already at risk for memory problems, difficulty concentrating, poor learning and reduced impulse control. If we can prevent alcohol misuse, chances for a good life are much better.”

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Please contact N2 Treatment if you are struggling with alcohol. We can assist you in finding the right treatment which will help you start your journey of recovery.

Needle Exchange Programs Reduce Disease Transmission

needle-exchangeThere are a number of lawmakers who have mixed feeling about needle exchange programs, places where IV drug users can exchange used syringes for clean ones. Many taxpayers are not comfortable with fronting the bill for addicts to continue their drug use, despite the fact that needle exchange programs have proven to reduce the spread of infectious disease. On top of that, needle exchanges give counselors a perfect opportunity to discuss recovery with active users, potentially channeling them into treatment.

Exchanges Reduce Transmission

New research suggests that after Washington D.C. lifted the ban on funding needle exchange programs it prevented 120 new cases of HIV in just two years, USA Today reports. The ban was lifted in 2007, giving the District’s health department the power to provide free:

  • Clean Needles
  • Condoms
  • HIV Tests
  • Referrals to Addiction Treatment

“Policy change makes a difference,” says lead author Monica Ruiz of George Washington University.

The Research

If the DC ban had not happened, Ruiz calculated 296 HIV infections would have occurred, according to the article. In the two years after lifting the ban, there were 176 new cases of HIV, which means that lifting the ban prevented 120 cases. Ruiz and her colleagues calculated the average lifetime cost of treating the 120 people had they been infected, about $44 million.

“Our study adds to the evidence that needle exchange programs not only work but are cost-effective investments in the battle against HIV,” says Ruiz, an assistant research professor of community health at George Washington’s Milken Institute School of Public Health.

The findings were published in AIDS and Behavior.

DC is Not Alone

A number of states have seen an alarming rise in the transmission of HIV and hepatitis C, forcing government officials to change their stance on the value of having clean needle programs. The Governor of Indiana declared a state of emergency regarding HIV transmission linked to the prescription drug Opana ®. Governor Mike Pence allowed for needle exchanges in the most troubled areas of the state. Indiana’s state health commissioner, Jerome Adams, said that needle exchanges “have been shown scientifically to slow the spread of infectious disease across time and across the country.”

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If you are or your loved one is struggling with opioids, please contact N2 Treatment. We can assist you in finding the right treatment which will help you start your journey of recovery.

Mindfulness Meditation to Quit Smoking

mindfulness-meditationIt often takes several years for people to successfully quit cigarettes for good. Nicotine is highly addictive and tobacco products are in people’s line of sight practically everywhere. With the rise of e-cigarettes there is a new generation of nicotine addicts, people who will one day need to consider quitting. While there are smoking cessation products and therapies that have proven to be effective, the rate of nicotine relapse is still extremely high.

In recent years there has been a lot of discussion about cognitive behavioral therapies (CBT) with regard to nicotine cessation, and in some cases CBT techniques have shown great promise. A review of past research suggests that mindfulness meditation (becoming self-aware of one’s experience), a form behavioral training, may help people (even those who have no urge to quit) exercise self-control when it comes to quitting, Medical News Today reports.

“Early evidence suggests that exercises aimed at increasing self-control, such as mindfulness meditation, can decrease the unconscious influences that motivate a person to smoke,” say the experts, including senior study author Dr. Nora Volkow, director of the US National Institute on Drug Abuse.

A Will to Quit is Not Required

One study reviewed by researchers was conducted by researchers at Texas Tech University and University of Oregon to determine if improvements in self-control could disrupt cravings, according to the article. A novel aspect of the study is that participants were under the opinion that they were learning about meditation and relaxation methods for stress reduction and cognitive enhancement, rather than techniques for quitting smoking.

The research involved 60 undergraduate students, 27 of which smoked cigarettes. Mindfulness meditation training was taught to one half, while the other half received a relaxation technique, the article reports. Before and after the two weeks of sessions, the participants were asked questions and their smoking was objectively measured with carbon monoxide testing.

Interestingly, the participants that were smokers reported having smoked the same amount as usual before and after. However, the group that received mindfulness meditation training were found to have a 60% reduction in smoking. The findings were based off carbon monoxide tests in the 2 weeks after the study.

“The students changed their smoking behavior but were not aware of it. When we showed the data to a participant who said they had smoked 20 cigarettes, this person checked their pocket immediately and was shocked to find 10 left,” said lead author Yi-Yuan Tang, a professor of psychological sciences at Texas Tech.

Mindfulness Meditation May Not Be For Everyone

“Mindfulness meditation, as well as other strategies that are aimed at strengthening self-control, are likely to be useful for the management of addiction, but not necessarily for everybody,” said Dr. Volkow. “However, understanding how our brain works when we do interventions that strengthen self-control can also have multiple implications that relate to behaviors that are necessary for health and wellbeing.”

The findings were published in the journal Trends in Cognitive Sciences.
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If you are or loved one is suffering from addiction, please contact N2 Treatment. We can assist you in finding the right treatment which will help you start your journey of recovery.

AUDIT-ing Alcohol Use Disorder

Alcohol-Use-DisorderEvery day, all over the country, people enter local emergency rooms with injuries linked to alcohol consumption. A host of ailments can arise from drinking alcohol, both internal and external.

Physicians treating alcohol related injuries work to identify if the injury was the result of simply drinking too much, or if the injury is indicative of a more serious problem – such as an alcohol use disorder (AUD). Identifying if a patient has an AUD is crucial for physicians to intervene, and potentially guiding a patient towards treatment – reducing future trauma incidents.

AUDIT-ing Alcohol

New research suggests that a 10-point questionnaire is more effective in determining if a patient may have an AUD, compared to a blood alcohol content (BAC) test, ScienceDaily reports. The questionnaire helps physicians identify who may be at risk of future drinking related injuries.

Designed by the World Health Organization and known as the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT), the questionnaire assesses:

  • Alcohol Consumption
  • Drinking Behaviors
  • Alcohol-Related Problems

“The potential cost savings from reducing trauma visits could amount to more than $1.8 billion a year, making screening and intervention for at-risk drinking one of the single most cost-effective preventative healthcare measures,” said Mark Mitchell, DO, president of the American College of Osteopathic Emergency Medicine.

The Research

The study, conducted by researchers at Loyola University Medical Center indicated that the AUDIT questionnaire was 20 percent more effective at identifying at-risk drinking behavior, compared to BAC tests.

“Given the interactions between alcohol and trauma, screening and intervention for at-risk drinking behavior are important components of injury prevention and public health. Previous studies have shown that brief interventions with these patients can lead to a 50 percent reduction in future trauma visits,” said Timothy Plackett, DO, the study’s lead researcher.

The findings were published in The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association.
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If you are or loved one is addicted to alcohol, please contact N2 Treatment. We can assist you in finding the right treatment which will help you learn how to live a life free of alcohol.

The Impact of Medical Marijuana Advertisements

medical-marijuanaThe Impact of Marijuana Advertising

In 1996, it became legal for people to get a recommendation from a doctor to use marijuana for medical purposes in California. As the state gears up for a vote on the legality of recreational use in 2016, there are a number of factors that need to be considered including weighing the impact that medical marijuana has had on teenagers. New research suggests that middle school students who saw medical marijuana ads were twice as likely to have used the drug or plan to use it in the future, HealthDay reports.

Medical Marijuana Ads Spur Teenage Use

More than 8,200 middle school students in Southern California were included in the study, teens in sixth through eighth grade. After the first year of the research, 22 percent of the students reported seeing at least one advertisement for medical marijuana in the past three months, according to the article. A year later, that figure had risen to 30 percent.

Since the state passed medical marijuana, the number of advertisements for the drug has grown due to the exponential growth of the industry with every year that passes. The researchers point out that it is not uncommon for medical marijuana ads to appear on and in: television, newspapers, billboards and dispensary storefronts.

“Given that advertising typically tells only one side of the story, prevention efforts must begin to better educate youth about how medical marijuana is used, while also emphasizing the negative effects that marijuana can have on the brain and performance,” said study author, Elizabeth D’Amico of the nonprofit research organization RAND, in a news release.

Using Alcohol As A Guide

“As prohibitions on marijuana ease and sales of marijuana become more visible, it’s important to think about how we need to change the way we talk to young people about the risks posed by the drug,” said D’Amico. “The lessons we have learned from alcohol — a substance that is legal, but not necessarily safe — may provide guidance about approaches we need to take toward marijuana.”

The findings are published in Psychology of Addictive Behaviors.

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If you are struggling with marijuana addiction, please do not hesitate to contact N2 Treatment. We can assist you in finding the right treatment which will help you be free from addiction.

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