LOSING TREY: A STORY OF ADDICTION – Flakka, Bath Salts, and Opioid pills

As they used to say on the TV police drama Dragnet, the story you are about to hear is true. Only the names have been changed. In this case, however, the pseudonyms are used to protect the survivors…and the memory of “Trey,” a young man in his mid-twenties who is no longer among the living.

“Trey,” a young man in his mid-twenties who is no longer among the living.
“Trey,” a young man in his mid-twenties who is no longer among the living.

We heard Trey’s story from his friend “Jonah,” who came to The Hope Center from his mid-western home state for help in recovering from a heroin addiction—the same addiction that had led to Trey’s death. It was the abrupt and unexpected end to Trey’s life that scared Jonah into seeking help.

Like Trey, Jonah was is in his mid-twenties. The two went to high school together. Their paths separated during their college years, but after graduation, they both returned to their hometown and their friendship with each other.

They also both started experimenting with drugs. Jonah says they dabbled in Flakka, Bath Salts, and Opioid pills before being introduced to, and seduced by, Heroin. The first taste of Heroin for both of them came at a party.

Trey had played football in high school and college, though he didn’t go on to the pros. Some of his old high school teammates invited him to a barbeque one Sunday afternoon, and he brought Jonah along. As the afternoon progressed, a pick-up football game got started: shirts vs skins. It was casual, just for fun, and even Jonah played, though he hadn’t been on the high school team. As dusk approached, and the game came to an end, three of the guys went on a beer run, and the party moved indoors.

Then one of the guys introduced a new “guest” to the party: Heroin.

Then one of the guys introduced a new “guest” to the party: Heroin.
Then one of the guys introduced a new “guest” to the party: Heroin.

Some of the guys indulged. Some didn’t. Neither Trey nor Jonah was a stranger to drugs, though neither had ever tried Heroin before. “There’s a first time for everything,” observed the party’s host as he passed the syringe over to Trey.

Both Trey and Jonah were immediately impressed with the effects of the drug. “Hey, where can I get more of this stuff?” Trey asked. And thus began a habit.

At first Trey and Jonah shot up only on weekends. Jonah had a sales job, while Trey was in management in an office, and both wanted to stay clean and straight during working hours, but heroin is seductive and addictive, and soon they both were using seven days a week.

Jonah didn’t like the effect heroin had on his abilities at work, but he was in the grips of something stronger than his willpower, and he gave in.

It was at another party that Trey met his end, and Jonah found the resolve to quit. Another of Trey’s old high school football teammates was hosting this one, and he also supplied the drugs. There was a smorgasbord of drugs to choose from, and Jonah decided to go for some Opioid pills, but Trey opted for Heroin.

The effects were quick—and deadly. At first, when Trey passed out, the host of the party recommended letting him “sleep it off.” But Jonah noticed that Trey’s breathing was shallow and at times seemed to stop altogether. He wanted to call the paramedics. The host, fearful of legal repercussions, leaned on Jonah to not make the call. By the time Jonah defied him and dialed 911, and the ambulance arrived, it was too late. Trey was gone. Dead from an overdose.

It had been an unusually strong batch of heroin…and Trey, who wanted nothing more than to feel good and enjoy his partying with his friends, lost his chance to ever feel good again…to ever feel anything again…to live.

As for Jonah, he was “scared straight” and, after checking out a number of treatment facilities intentionally far from home, decided on The Hope Center.

Hopefully he will never use again. But there are still plenty of people out there who are hooked on heroin. If you are, or someone you care about is, one of those people, get help now, before it’s too late…before you meet the same fate as Trey.

There is hope. That is why we are called The Hope Center. Reach out to us today. The time is always now.

Our Top 10 Tips for Parents (or Loved Ones) of Someone Battling Addiction

10 Tips Image 13Embrace Early Screening & Early Intervention

As a parent or family member, you may recognize early signals of addiction in your loved one. It’s never too early to discuss the dangers of addiction with them or to have them pre-screened for early detection. This may help identify risk factors that will help prevent further and future damage to both to their health and livelihood. An early screening and intervention will help clarify if their use and profile is suitable for treatment. Treatment is a significant financial and physical commitment so you want to be sure they really meet the clinical standards for treatment. Much can be done in the early stages of addiction with the help of therapy, intensive and outpatient care. Visit a local outpatient treatment center to have them evaluated if they’re willing.

Don’t Worry About Timing

You may never know exactly when the right time is to help your loved one get help. Studies show that even if the addict hasn’t “hit rock bottom”, they may still reach long-term recovery if their addiction treatment enables them to understand a new, safe and successful way of living. And as we all know, so many families have experienced that waiting too long to intervene can cause them their loved one’s life.10 Tips Image 2

The Importance of a Professional Intervention

In the grips of addiction, it is often difficult for the addict to accept they have a problem and agree to long-term treatment, let alone see the damage they are doing to themselves and their family. Staging and intervention may be the best opportunity to allow them to understand the depth of their problem and agree to get help. Unfortunately, the least effective members of an intervention tend to be close family. So choosing a professional interventionist, or escorting a loved one to an outpatient center for an evaluation is often the best opportunity to see them into a treatment setting. Help from an outside interventionist, someone who understands their pain and their journey, who also has an objective viewpoint, is the best voice of reason for an addict. The interventionist will also help you stage the intervention, develop a strategy and lead the conversation for the most successful opportunity at getting your loved one the treatment they need.

10 Tips Image 4Recognize That Self-Detoxing Can Be Deadly

If your loved one has decided to begin the process of quitting their drug of choice, even if they’re not ready for treatment, it’s critical that they detox in a medically supervised detoxification center. Most people don’t realize that detoxing can lead to death. For those who abuse alcohol and drugs like opioids (painkillers) or benzodiazepine (anti-anxiety medication), a tolerance has been built that causes the body severe, adverse reactions when withheld from the system.  Alcohol is notoriously linked to life-threatening withdrawal reactions, such as seizures, which may cause fatal head trauma, heart attack, stroke, lethal dehydration, or asphyxiation. A medically supervised detox will help your loved one detox in comfort and with dignity, and helps prevent the propensity for relapse during this critical phase. Withdrawal symptoms may begin hours or days after the last use, and can last anywhere from a few days to several weeks depending on the type of drug and level of use. During this withdrawal phase, they are at the highest risk of relapse AND life-threatening symptoms that require 24/7 monitoring.

10 Tips Image 6Invest In Recovery, Not Relapse

The cost of treatment can seem steep, but when compared with long-term use, the cost of treatment is just a fraction of the price of continued drug use. However, choosing an “inexpensive” institution, or cutting down the time a loved one stays at a facility due to the cost, may lead to an early relapse. Staying 90+ days in a treatment facility will offer them the greatest opportunity to reach long-term recovery. Enlist them in an aftercare program following treatment, like a transitional living facility or three-quarter home. This is an excellent way to help them reach the long-term goal, while being supported and encouraged by a close-knit community of other recovering individuals. It will be an investment, but is far less costly than continued relapse or ongoing drug and alcohol use.

Start with 30-Days

You may not be able to convince your loved one to stay in treatment for 3 or more months, but you will likely be able to convince them to commit to 30-days. Most facilities find that the desire to continue treatment will manifest within those first 30-days, and you want your loved one to be able to continue with their treatment plan where they’re at if they do choose to stay, so make sure the facility can accommodate up to 90 days of treatment.

Addiction treatmentChoose A Specialization

Choose a treatment facility that offers specialize programming that caters to your loved ones needs, such as their drug of choice, a co-occurring disorder like PTSD, an eating disorder, social anxiety or a mental disorder, to name a few. This will help them beat their addiction along with the other psychological ailments that have contributed to their substance abuse. Since most people who suffer from addiction also suffer from another co-occurring disorder, choosing treatment at a facility that specializes in their particular ailment(s) will springboard their growth versus being left untreated.

Embrace A Geographical Change

Map of USA with state borders, 3d render

It is important to understand what can and what cannot be achieved with a geographical change for your loved one who is suffering with addiction. May people benefit greatly from a geographic change if they commit to receiving long-term, monitored care at a reputable treatment facility that’s located in a thriving recovery community. There are several located throughout the country, like Florida, Texas and Southern California.  They may also benefit greatly from being separated from family members and friends that have become “triggers” for their use. However, if your loved makes a geographic change simply to leave the environment which has “made them use” without seeking help, it is highly unlikely that their addiction will cease, and they will find themselves in the same addictive pattern wherever they move to. Geographic changes are encouraged when it comes to receiving treatment and/or working a fully committed program of recovery.

Honor New Boundaries

While therapy will be helpful to rebuild the family as a result of your loved one’s addiction, depending on their progress, it may not occur during treatment. If your loved one welcomes family sessions during their stay, take advantage of the clinical services offered at their institution. If this is an important factor, make sure the treatment center offers family programming and therapy. But don’t be discouraged if your loved one opts out. The first few months, and sometimes the first few years is often a time for them to fully understand their journey, and they will likely grow to a point in their recovery where they will be able to initiate therapeutic healing for all.

AddictionEliminate Enabling

Many loved ones feel responsible for helping the addict, especially as it relates to emotional and financial support. It can be impossible to cut them off as a supportive role. While this all comes from a place of love and concern, it’s critical to understand that as long as you are in some way enabling them to continue “running the show”, they are unlikely to feel the pressure to change in the long-term. Shutting off any access to support of their habits will force them to change their ways. The addict must recognize the breadth of their choices and arrive at a place where they have no choice but to initiate positive, responsible changes. As a loved one, you are a critical piece in enabling this change to happen. Also, don’t mistake your generosity for help. Enabling them to continue using is hurting them and may even lead to death. Follow this rule before, during and after treatment to offer the greatest opportunity for your loved one’s long-term success.

Addiction treatment

Someone Else’s Addiction Is Not Your Fault

It’s natural to feel hurt or even responsible for a loved one’s addiction, but it’s important to recognize these are naturally occurring emotions that stem from love. In most cases, for those who have “done all the right things,” they’re addiction has nothing to do with how you have treated them. Holding onto fear and anger for too long can make rebuilding family trust difficult. Support groups like Al-Anon help family and friends accept these feelings while learning how to support an addicted loved one — and themselves — during and following the rehabilitation process. Visit http://www.al-anon.org/ to find a local gathering near you.

Design Your Future with Vocational Rehabilitation

The Hope Center for Rehabilitation Infuses “Design Thinking” Into Their Vocational Rehabilitation Program To Help Clients Discover Their Passion, Purpose and Professional Potential.

The Hope Center has a staff dedicated to helping clients successfully maneuver back into the real world while maintaining a balanced life of recovery; by assisting each client in building a foundation and future through the delivery of a comprehensive Vocational Rehabilitation curriculum.

SuitVocational Rehabilitation is the practice of offering patients a guided curriculum to uncover what their unique interests, skill sets and experience levels are in order to design a path toward personal and professional success, while balancing a life in recovery. Vocational Rehabilitation also focuses on offering healing therapies to counter threatening, fearful or traumatic past events that may have contributed to addictive behavior, stemming from one’s past educational or employment history.

Inspired by the “Design Thinking” movement, the staff at The Hope Center for Rehabilitation took notes from thought leaders, like Stanford Universities Bill Burnett. Burnett developed the “Designing Your Life” course at the ivy-league university for his graduating seniors, and within a few years, the course had become so popular it is now being used throughout the country to help anyone reach their full, desired potential.

While originally developed for emerging workforce students, the process of finding your “flow”: identifying those moments, actions, and behaviors that elicit pure joy, positive challenges and heightened energy, help people from all walks of life discover their true vocation, or calling. The staff at The Hope Center took these principles and infused them into their vocational curriculum to help clients format their personal and professional journey in life while uncovering their true passion and purpose.

Vocational Rehabilitation“With the incorporation of ‘Design Thinking’ into our Vocational Program, we are helping our clients not only pursue a successful life in recovery, we help them tap into deep-seeded aspirations that they might never have gotten the opportunity to uncover,” says Vocational Program Director Ed Sergison. “Using these concepts to design their future, in addition to offering therapeutic healing, emotional building and soul searching techniques, our clients are leaving our program with a renewed sense of self and purpose, with a path to achieve their potential.”

After an initial meeting to pinpoint each client’s background, education and employment history, the vocational counselors assist them with developing a plan to incorporate education and/or career goals into their transition from a residential environment to an independent atmosphere.

For those looking to begin a new career, the counselors work with each client on an individual basis to assist them with the creation of a proper résumé. A selection of potential referrals are determined, followed by an overview of interview questions and techniques. The counselors pinpoint unique skill sets and interests of the client, and finally reinforce the importance of presentation, including choice of vocabulary, appearance, attitude and preparedness.

Vocational RehabilitationFor those who wish to pursue a furthered education, like acquiring a GED, associate or bachelors degree, or technical certification, the counselors create a specifically tailored roadmap for the client that offers a realistic timeline and financial plan to achieve their educational goals. The client is presented with Federal financial aid forms, scholarship opportunities and grant applications as part of the process, completed together with the counselor to ensure accuracy and thoroughness.

For clients who already have a seasoned work history, The Hope Center for Rehabilitation has a strong local network of professionals who can help clients receive job placement so they can begin working while developing into their long-term recovery process. It is recommended that a client stay 6-9 months under the care of a rehabilitation facility, or in a transitional-living sober environment for the best chance at achieving long-term recovery. With the help of local job placement services, we can, even temporarily, help our clients build a strong foundation for when they are ready to return home full-time.

The goal of this program is to empower clients to pursue a thoughtful, comprehensive growth plan for sustained employment, offering not just financial but emotional stability as well. This can be a daunting, insurmountable goal on one’s own following treatment, so the relationship between client and counselor weeks and months after treatment is critical as it offers the support needed to sustain the effort. They meet in person or via electronic communication to reflect on progress and discuss challenges that arise so the client can stay motivated and encouraged until they have achieved long-term success on their own.

For more information on Vocational Rehabilitation at The Hope Center, contact Program Director Ed Sergison at 631-793-9415 or via email ad Ed@hopecenterrehab.org.

5 Reasons Why You Should Stop Smoking Weed

While states across the country are de-criminalizing the use and possession of marijuana, instating regulations that allow for the legal sale and private use of the schedule 1 substance, it is still federally illegal – and for good reason. While widespread legalization may make it appear that the regular use of marijuana for recreational purposes is fine, the truth is this drug has major physical, psychological, social and ethical consequences.

  1. Weed IS AddictiveSmoking

The National Institute on Drug Abuse found that 30 percent of marijuana users may develop some degree of problem use, which can lead to dependence and in severe cases takes the form of full-blown addiction. Most users move on from marijuana and use other drugs, as it’s always been considered a high-risk gateway substance especially since the effects of cannabis are stimulated by combining it with other drugs. Research suggests that people who begin using marijuana before age 18 are 4 to 7 times more likely than adults to develop problem use.

  1. You Do Withdrawal from Weed

Contrary to popular folklore, you do detox and experience withdrawal symptoms from using marijuana regularly. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, those who are chronic users experience irritability, sleep problems, anxiety, and craving once cessation begins. Withdrawal symptoms are both physical and psychological, which may prompt relapse in order to “feel normal again”. Withdrawal symptoms are generally mild and peak a few days after use has stopped. They gradually disappear within about 2 weeks. While these symptoms do not pose an immediate threat to health, they can make it hard for someone to stop using the drug. In addition, THC remain in the body for several weeks or months after the last use for heavy users, and may be present in the blood stream up to 7 days after stopping.

  1. BrainUsing Weed Regularly Regresses Your Brain

Many studies have found significant correlations to recreational cannabis use and permanent regressive brain development. A study from Northwestern University found that heavy users who began in adolescence had the potential do develop structural abnormalities in certain brain areas. Another study in New Zealand found that continued marijuana use starting in adolescence was associated with an average loss of 8 IQ points measured in mid-adulthood. Additional concerns include memory and cognition problems, risk of addiction and schizophrenia in young people.

  1. Drive “Weed High” and Die, or Get a DUI

THC, the main psychoactive chemical in weed, significantly impairs judgement, motor coordination and reaction time. A study conducted by the Road Safety Observatory found that there is a significant relationship between a person’s blood THC concentration and impaired driving. Their findings concluded that marijuana is the illicit drug most frequently found in the blood stream of Stop Smokingdrivers who have been involved in motor vehicle accidents, including fatal ones. In regards to a DUI, some states do offer testing to understand the levels of THC found in the blood stream, but many consider any amount to be “under the influence” and therefore qualify as a DUI. Remember that THC can be detected in the blood system up to 7 days after use for “regular users” and up to 3 months in hair follicles. This means that a blood test several days after your last high, as a regular user, will reveal illegal amounts of THC in your blood stream and land you with a DUI.

  1. Unpredictable Potency and Reactions

Recreational and illegal cannabis contain significant levels of Tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, which is the psychoactive chemical found in weed that gives people their “high”. It is believed that “typical” percentages of THC found in modern day weed is between .3 and 4 percent. However, some specially grown plants can contain as much as 25 percent THC! This chemical compound is associated with feelings of euphoria, but in high doses, can also cause adverse effects. Since the effects of marijuana depend primarily on the dose and the user’s experience, it’s difficult or impossible to know exactly how someone will react to using the drug. Some users experience anxiety, fear, distrust, or panic. This may cause an acute psychosis, which includes hallucinations, delusions, and a loss of the sense of personal identity.

For more information on marijuana addiction and to find answers on getting help for you or a loved one, call our team of advisors 561-325-6686.

All Cannabis Is Not Created Equal

Marijuana, or Cannabis, is the most commonly used drug throughout the world according to the World Health Organization (WHO), and the number 3 in America behind alcohol and tobacco. Though still federally illegal to purchase and use, recreational marijuana is becoming legalized by individual states across the country, and blurring the lines between it’s predecessor, medical marijuana. In a world where the term for it – in it’s many colorful forms – means “the same thing” to most of us, we want to share clarifications on the difference between the two and what you should know as a user, a parent or if you’re considering trying it for the first time. As a substance abuse provider, our mission is to clarify the risks associated with recreational and medical cannabis, respectively. It is our chief concern to identify the highly variable risk factors relative to both, and let you decide if one of these choices might be a consideration for you or a loved one.

CannabisTo start with, there is no specific ratio of chemical compounds that clearly identifies the difference between medical cannabis and recreational weed … yet. In the future, there may be regulations on how much of certain chemicals are present in each for qualification. But as it’s still yet unidentified, it’s difficult to put either version into a clearly defined “box” for accurate scrutinization to be achieved.

For our purposes of identifying a broader explanation, our article will explain in general terms what the differences are between medically derived and recreationally produced cannabis so you can better understand the social and ethical debate that is sweeping across our country.

From a legal perspective, legislature prohibits medical marijuana from being sold at the same dispensary as recreational marijuana. Furthermore, recreational marijuana cannot have medicinal claims, and respectively, medical marijuana cannot have recreational claims. Also, medical marijuana requires a doctors written prescription to obtain, and does not include the hefty taxes that recreational cannabis comes with.

Medical cannabis can be administered using a variety of methods, including liquid tinctures, vaporizing or smoking dried buds, eating cannabis edibles, taking capsules, using lozenges, dermal patches or oral/dermal sprays. In this comparison, recreational marijuana can be used in the same way. The major difference in the ratio of chemical compounds found in each. In short, medical marijuana is almost devoid of the psychoactive chemicals that give recreational and illicit marijuana their “high”.

Understanding Medical Marijuana
Marijuana is medicineMedical marijuana is typically high in the naturally occurring chemical, Cannabidiol (or CBD). This chemical is rich with medicinal benefits that have been associated with helping people who are battling chronic illnesses or diseases such as chronic pain, epilepsy, schizophrenia, cancer, nausea, nerve pain, unintentional weight loss, glaucoma and multiple sclerosis for both adults and children. Many medical marijuana forms contain very low amounts of Tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC as it’s commonly referred to. This is the “psychoactive” chemical ingredient associated with marijuana, which offers users the “high” we typically associate with taking the drug. In medical marijuana, the levels of THC vary but are typically so low that they don’t cause the euphoric effects that recreational users are interested in. In this way, pharmaceutical-grade cannabis is meant to help people suffering from truly debilitating conditions without posing the threat of addiction or abuse, that which may be more likely from using recreational weed.

According to the Michigan Medical Marijuana Association, cannabis relieves convulsion, inflammation, anxiety, nausea, and inhibits cancer cell growth. Recent studies have shown cannabis to be as effective as antipsychotics in treating schizophrenia. In November 2007 it was reported that CBD reduces growth of aggressive human breast cancer cells in vitro and reduces their invasiveness. It is also a neuro-protective antioxidant.

Droves of activists across the country are hotly protesting the need for medical marijuana. They focus on the health benefits it has for patients who are battling chronic illnesses or are in need of pain management. Modern medical professionals do agree that there are benefits to using cannabis for medical needs. In fact, marijuana has been used for thousands of years for it’s medicinal purposes, dating back to ancient Chinese and Indian texts. The hotly debated topic today, of course, is whether marijuana has a place in modern day medicine considering all of the alternatives we currently have available to us.

Which segues into the debate over other prescription medications. Activists who are for medical marijuana claim that the side effects of using medical marijuana are greatly less when compared to using prescription painkillers, like opioids for instance. Considering prescription painkillers are the leading cause of both addiction and overdose death in the United States, that is a valid claim.

But nonetheless, many people throughout the world use marijuana to self-medicate without medical supervision, whether knowing it or not. This condition, known as “Cannabis Use Disorder”, affects about 30% of all users according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Because of the potentially positive psychological effects as well, many people may unknowingly be using the drug to combat naturally occurring conditions such as anxiety and depression that should otherwise be treated by a doctor with legal prescription medication. It is no less cause for concern then than a person who is self-medicating on prescription opioids. The difference is, of course, that prescription opioids can and do lead to lethal overdoses. Because cannabis is not associated with lethal overdoses, it’s simply not scrutinized the way prescription pain medications are.

Understanding Recreational Cannabis

Pot PiecePutting aside the debate over medical cannabis vs. prescription opioids, let’s focus on the difference between recreational marijuana. Recreational cannabis, which is considered the legal variety of marijuana grown in the United States, contains significant levels of Tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, as described earlier. This chemical compound is associated with feelings of euphoria, but can also cause adverse effects for users, especially if the potency is high – in some cases several times higher in some batches than others, or if the user is inexperienced. Like all drugs that are not administered under professional guidance, the tolerance of the user will affect how they react to the substance.

Since the effects of recreational cannabis depends on the user, it’s difficult or impossible to know exactly how someone will react to using the drug. Some users experience anxiety, fear, distrust, or panic. This may cause an acute psychosis, which includes hallucinations, delusions, and a loss of the sense of personal identity. In contrast to the trace amounts of THC found in medical marijuana, which is also prescribed with specific usage instructions by a physician, it is significantly safer to use medical marijuana in order to treat any medical condition.

In addition to the psychological effects that THC has on the mind, it also significantly impairs judgement, motor coordination and reaction time. A study conducted by the Road Safety Observatory found that there is a significant relationship between a person’s blood THC concentration and impaired driving. Their findings concluded that marijuana is the illicit drug most frequently found in the blood stream of drivers who have been involved in motor vehicle accidents, including fatal ones. Statistics aren’t yet available on the correlation between motor-vehicle accidents and those under the influence of “recreational marijuana”, however, considering their levels of THC are considered comparable, we can assume that the same risks apply.

But THC is not only temporarily dangerous to the user’s mind, many studies have found significant correlations to recreational cannabis use and permanent regressive brain development. A study from Northwestern University found that heavy users who began in adolescence had the potential do develop structural abnormalities in certain brain areas. Another study in New Zealand found that continued marijuana use starting in adolescence was associated with an average loss of 8 IQ points measured in mid-adulthood. Additional concerns include memory and cognition problems, risk of addiction and schizophrenia in young people.

Understanding “Recreational” Versus “Illegal” Cannabis

CannabisThere is a very significant difference between legal, recreational marijuana and illegal “street weed”. Illegal marijuana is typically carried over the border into the United States by crime-ridden cartels and operations that are in no way regulated. These batches are commonly transported in importable conditions, are sprayed with toxic chemicals to ward off drug-sniffing canines, and can include things like lead, for instance, to taint the weight of the product. With the ever-changing climate of illicit drugs pouring into our country, there is no way to predict what may be in the product you are ingesting, making the street form of cannabis the most threatening of any variety.

Why Abstinence Is The Best Policy

Aside from the temporary euphoric effects that may be produced by marijuana use, the cons heavily outweigh the pros. For instance, the National Institute on Drug Abuse found that 30 percent of users may develop some degree of problem use, which can lead to dependence and in severe cases takes the form of addiction. Most users move on from marijuana and use other drugs, considered a high-risk gateway drug especially since it’s effects are stimulated by combining cannabis with other drugs. Marijuana use has also been linked to mental health problems, such as depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts among teens. Users also report less academic and career success. For example, marijuana use is linked to a higher likelihood of dropping out of school. It is also linked to more job absences, accidents, and injuries. Research suggests that people who begin using marijuana before age 18 are 4 to 7 times more likely than adults to develop problem use. Even before birth, studies show that marijuana (and THC) ingestion in pregnancy is linked to increased risk of both brain and behavioral problems in babies.

Weed WithdrawalWhile medical marijuana may be a good option if you are suffering from a debilitating, chronic disease, it is important to speak to your physician about all possible therapies. If you find yourself fixated on any form of cannabis, you may already be addicted to the chemical compounds found within. There are plenty of non-addictive options for you or a loved one considering pain-management medication. Understanding the difference between recreational, medical and illegal cannabis can help you understand the risk factors involved so you can make the right choices for your health and for your future.

Medical Examiner Confirms Prince’s Death from Fentanyl Overdose

Amidst rumors of Prince’s alleged cause of death, the Midwest Medical Examiner’s Office in Minnesota released the heavily-awaited autopsy report for Prince, declaring his death the cause of “Accidental Fentanyl Toxicity”. While many still may be in disbelief by the report’s findings, this high-profile case of “opioid addiction” is an especially influential example that brings awareness to just how vast addiction is in our society.

The autopsy confirmed that Prince “Self-Administered Fentanyl”, ultimately leading to his death. The Associated Press instigated the release of information after sharing that, through an anonymous source, it was determined that Prince had died of an “Opioid Overdose”, followed by a release by the Minneapolis Star Tribune stating that the pop star died of an “Overdose of Painkillers”. In response, and to quell the ongoing suspicion, it is believed that the Carver County Sheriff’s Office, who is leading the investigation, felt pressured to release the official autopsy.

Though the press has been predicting such an outcome since the star’s untimely death in late April of this year, many fans will be stunned at the declaration that this incomparable icon was the victim of a self-incriminating disease: addiction. While we continue to celebrate his life and his work, this confirmation, we hope, helps a greater number of those in our community to understand that addiction does not discriminate.

In 2014, 47,055 drug overdose deaths occurred in the United States in relation to opioid pain relievers, which the CDC programmatically categorizes (natural and semisynthetic opioids, methadone, and other synthetic opioids) as "prescription" opioid overdoses.
In 2014, 47,055 drug overdose deaths occurred in the US from opioid pain relievers.

As we reported last November in an article entitled “Accidentally Addicted”, prescription medications are responsible for more overdose deaths in the United States than all other drug overdoses combined. This includes Fentanyl, the lethal drug that was found in Prince’s body at the time of his death, and what was determined to ultimately be the cause of death. USA TODAY shared in a recent article that the star was reported to have visited a local pharmacy with a friend the evening before he was found dead in his Paisley Park home.

To those who have dealt with opiate addiction, either themselves or via a loved one, Prince’s story of addiction and death is surprisingly “normal” by today’s standards. His behavior, based on the information that has been released in the press, paints the typical portrait of someone struggling with life-threatening opiate addiction.

Just days prior, his stunned staff called a painkiller addiction specialist to “rescue” Prince from a “grave physical state”, believed to be brought about by his use of opioids. Following that event, his private plane was grounded after his staff described that he had “fallen unconscious from an opioid overdose”. He was revived by the opioid-antidote Narcan, an increasingly popular “rescue-remedy” in the fight against fatal opiate overdose deaths.

Medical Examiner
Photo Credit: Spokesman.com

Narcan, also known as Naloxone, has been adopted by jurisdictions across the country, and is now available at select pharmacies and drugstores, like CVS and Walgreens, because of its effectiveness in counteracting the lethal effects of opiate overdoses. It has now been famously linked to helping revive heroin addicts as overdoses and deaths related to heroin and other opiates have skyrocketed throughout the nation, markedly increasing year-over-year, claiming 47,055 lives alone in 2014 (the most recently released statistics available). The CDC, one of the governing agencies who release annual reports on accidental overdoses, expects the deaths related to opiates in 2015 and 2016 to far exceed the numbers calculated from 2014.

While there will be a flurry of continuing reports detailing the cause of Prince’s death, his last weeks as told by his staff members is a story that has been told, and lived through hundreds of thousands of times by people and families across our Nation. Addiction – an all-too-often stigmatized disease – can affect anyone regardless of race, ethnicity, age, gender, social ranking, intellect and beyond. Prince’s death should not be overshadowed by the reasons as to why he died, but should serve as an example to the greater community that addiction does not discriminate.

Recovery Songs: Vol. 2

Last year, we shared a blog on our favorite recovery songs – whether the message of the song helps you get through the hard times, or reminds you of where you never want to be again – they all “strike a chord” and therapeutically support our recovery goals. Music has that way of hitting deeply to the inner feelers we keep so protected. Continue reading Recovery Songs: Vol. 2

The Hope Center for Rehabilitation receives the gold standard

With upwards of 15,000 substance abuse treatment facilities in the U.S., it can be difficult to determine which one is right for you or a loved one. One of the best ways to choose the right treatment program is to consider the facilities certifications. A seal of approval from the Joint Commission (JCAHO) is considered the highest award available Continue reading The Hope Center for Rehabilitation receives the gold standard

This is my #drugofchoice

As addicts, drugs and alcohol take over our actions, as well as our thoughts. The “great obsession” of using liquefies any desire to pursue interests that we either used to love or might find enriching to our lives. Refreshed and renewed, many of us feel the overwhelming need to replenish our desires with healthy actions. And this is where the concept of a new #drugofchoice is formulated. Continue reading This is my #drugofchoice

The Real Story on New Hampshire Heroin

New Hampshire has been at the forefront of US headlines illustrating the efforts to fight America’s heroin epidemic. It’s not because they have the most overdose deaths amongst the other US states. It’s because their legislation is doing an incredible job, arguably better than any other state’s, at exploiting the issue and proposing and appointing measures to help combat the struggle with the growing epidemic Continue reading The Real Story on New Hampshire Heroin