Support for Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) has continued to grow in recent years as the opioid epidemic in America has put a mounting strain on the country. While the numbers of overdoses and opioid-related deaths have steadily climbed to devastating heights there has been more effort to explore treatment options. A better understanding of the medical and mental health aspects of addiction has become a priority. Stigma has slowly begun to carry less weight while advocates push for more effective and supportive routes to care for recovering addicts. One thing people have turned to heavily is medications like Suboxone of Methadone in attempts to steer away from more illicit and dangerous substances like heroin or fentanyl.
The application of medication in treatment can be very useful. It is a strategy that can help with the preservation of life by helping people stay off more unpredictable and life-threatening substances. However, some would say that if used for long-term this form of treatment is still relying on the idea of substitution. Often times these drugs have their own very harsh withdrawal symptoms, especially with extended use.
Taking a look at the more popular drugs used for medication-assisted treatment, one may ask- can you quit medication-assisted treatment with no withdrawals?
Understanding Medication-Assisted Treatment
Medication Assisted Treatment is the use of anti-craving medications to try and help address issues related to drug dependence, withdrawal, and relapse. The more common medications used in MAT include:
But MAT is also utilized alongside comprehensive therapy and other forms of support. Experts and advocates for addiction recovery, including the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), insist that maintenance medications alone are not sufficient enough treatment.
Advocates for medication-assisted treatment will compare MAT to someone taking medication for diabetes or asthma, with the belief that maintenance drugs are an essential part of staying healthy. However, others in the world of addiction recovery still believe it is possible to be healthy in recovery without the prolonged use of powerful medications.
The truth is the answer may not be the same for everybody. Different treatments may be more useful for different people. No one should be ashamed of the method they use to get help. But we also want to look at how some drugs used in medication-assisted treatment might make things more complicated for certain people.
Looking at the most popular maintenance drugs for opioid addiction, of course, we find Suboxone. To better understand Suboxone withdrawals, we first have to know what it is. This popular brand name is used to identify a prescription medication that contains active ingredients:
- Buprenorphine- a narcotic opioid medication
- Naloxone– an opioid blocker that impedes the effect of opioid medications
This medication functions as a partial opioid agonist and diminishes cravings as well as prevents other opioids from reacting to the brain’s opioid receptors. Taken in low doses for short periods of time, the drug can be helpful in curbing opioid withdrawal symptoms while tapering off without too many residual effects.
The tricky part comes when someone uses Suboxone for an extended amount of time as a replacement for heroin or other opioids.
Sometimes this can lead to its own form of recreational use and physical dependence. Even the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration reports that Suboxone is commonly susceptible to abuse. It is still a powerful drug.
Suboxone Withdrawal Symptoms
While Suboxone and other maintenance drugs may be a preferred tactic for going ‘cold turkey’ off of heroin or other opioids, the drug itself still has the power to cause its own set of withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms can include:
- Irritability or agitation
- Difficulty sleeping
- Profuse sweating
- Runny nose
- Frequent yawning
- Stomach pain or cramping
- Dilated pupils
- Nausea and vomiting
- Changes in mood
Not to mention precipitated withdrawal, when the ingredients in this medication can actually induce the onset of unpleasant symptoms rapidly, if not immediately, for someone actively engaged in opioid use.
Methadone is a long-acting opioid medication utilized since the 1970s to try and help people get off of heroin. It is typically used today under strict medical supervision because the drug is very potent and has a high risk of addiction. In fact, a 2012 National Survey on Drug Use and Health found that approximately 2.46 million people reported to using methadone for a non-prescribed purpose at least once.
According to another study, in 2009 methadone was responsible for 1 out of every 3 opioid overdose deaths.
Because of the risks, a gradual taper should be utilized to wean someone off of methadone. Often times doctors will prescribe another detox medication to help with this process, with the tapering to be done under medical supervision.
But as with trying to quit heroin or other powerful opioids ‘cold turkey’, trying to abruptly discontinue methadone can bring on intense withdrawal. This includes physical and psychological symptoms such as:
- Runny nose
- Tearing or watery eyes
- Muscle aches
- Joint pain
- Abdominal cramps
Many of these symptoms are similar to the symptoms of withdrawing from heroin or other opioids. So in a sense, this drug can create similar withdrawal symptoms as the drugs it is supposed to be used to treat.
Quitting Medication Assisted Treatment
Is it possible to quit medication-assisted treatment- yes, there are always other options for getting comprehensive care and lasting recovery without the prolonged use of these medications. Even relapse prevention is possible without relying on medications to fight cravings.
Can you quit medication-assisted treatment with no withdrawals? Well, that may be a process. It depends on a number of factors, such as the specific maintenance medication and the length of time using it. For example, someone who has been using methadone for years could probably have a much harder time getting off methadone than someone who used another medication for a month or so to help get off opioids.
Safety is crucial when deciding to quit MAT. Quitting medication-assisted treatment without a taper or other forms of medication can cause intense withdrawals. It is not suggested that someone try to quit MAT ‘cold turkey’ or without consulting a doctor for help with changing the dosage and slowly tapering off the drugs.
Again, just because it isn’t heroin or fentanyl doesn’t make it harmless.
MAT or Detox?
Medication-assisted treatment holds a lot of value, but the question becomes whether or not it is the kind of sustainable solution you want. Recovery isn’t one-size-fits-all. Medication-assisted treatment can be helpful in saving someone’s life who cannot stop using drugs. But is it something that will completely eliminate cravings and withdrawals, or will it just postpone these symptoms?
Remember, these are still powerful narcotic drugs that have a high risk for abuse. Some people end up using medication maintenance for life. Others will use it for a short period of time, with a detox period afterward. Either way, it is your choice; how long do you want to rely on substances, and to what extent?
Other models believe in providing holistic treatment and personalized therapy after a detox period, helping to reduce and remove chemical dependence and build a foundation for personal recovery.
Using medication to help with the painful and often overwhelming symptoms of withdrawal from opioids and other drugs can be essential to a smooth and healthy transition. In fact, with a safe medical detox, each individual is given an initial assessment to see what medications will be helpful in making this phase of treatment comfortable and safe. This can include medications for anxiety, mood disorders, physical pains and various other side-effects of substance abuse.
And when it comes to some of these medications, it can sometimes be necessary to continue using them.
The biggest difference is whether narcotic maintenance medications like Suboxone or methadone become a long-term prerequisite to recovery, or if they are used to help someone who is sick get better so that the real healing can happen.
Palm Healthcare Company believes in providing a safe medical detox to allow for a comfortable and healthy transition from active drug or alcohol use. Our facilities utilize an experienced and professional medical staff who help to monitor each individual’s progress and provide effective medical support for lasting recovery. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free now. We want to help.
CALL NOW 1-888-922-5398
Recently I heard about a new product making a little noise online for being advertised as an all-natural supplement used for drug detox. I had never heard of Mitadone before, but I had heard about people trying to promote what they call more natural home remedies for treating withdrawal symptoms. Some claim to use natural juice cleansing regiments, or synthetic herbal compounds, or various other forms of healthy dietary routines to assist in their recovery from drug or alcohol addiction. However, it seems some people are looking to Mitadone as some kind of ‘miracle supplement.’
So what is Mitadone? Does it Work?
When visiting the official website for Mitadone, one of the first things you will see is that the company claims to offer a variety of detox programs, including:
Some of these options have a number of supplement plans, with different combinations of supplements which seem to imply they assist with different functions at different stages.
For Example- the Opiate Aid Program has a 3 step program with:
- Opiate Withdrawal Aid- 120 Tablets
- 5 Day Detox- 60 Capsules
- Anxiety, Stress Relief, and Mood Support- 90 Capsules
Each with a different purpose and including different ingredients. So what kind of all-natural ingredients are there?
Anit-Opiate Aid Plus Extra Strength
This product is advertised on the site as helping with withdrawal symptoms and cravings from opioid medications and illicit opioids like heroin. The ingredients are listed as:
- Vitamin A (as Beta Carotene)
- Vitamin C (as Ascorbic Acid)
- Vitamin D3 (as Cholecalciferol)
- Pantothenic Acid
- Vitamin E (as D-Alpha Tocopheryl Succinate)
- Vitamin K1
- Kudzu Root
- Vitamin B1
- Vitamin B2
- Vitamin B6
- Folic Acid
- Vitamin B12
- John’s Wort
- Rutin Bioperine
- Dicalcium Phosphate
- Microcrystalline Cellulose
- Croscarmellose Sodium
- Stearic Acid
- Vegetable Stearate
- Silicon Dioxide
- Pharmaceutical Glaze
Quite a mouth-full, right?
Oh and guess what- its Gluten Free!
The site states the product is “manufactured by a GMP (Good Manufacturing Practices) approved facility that employs FDA certified manufacturing and quality control procedures.” Essentially, the Mitadone program is a large supply of multi-vitamins and other supplements. There are no prescription chemicals or habit-forming substances, according to their description.
Does it Work?
So are these multi-vitamin routines enough to combat such powerful addictions as opioids or alcohol? Well, Mitadone claims with their products you can detox from home, but is that really safe?
With alcohol detox, some withdrawal symptoms can be particularly harmful to your body. Others can even be lethal. With opioids, withdrawals can be extremely uncomfortable or even painful. So while these supplements may be able to help supply nutrients to the body, they aren’t exactly going to be able to support every aspect of the detox process.
If you look closer at the descriptions of these products, it seems Mitadone also knows how limited its impact can be. The fine-print acknowledges that everyone’s body chemistry is different, so the supplements will not always affect everyone the same. Some of the better reviews on Amazon.com still say that while the supplements made them feel a little better in some aspects, they were still extremely sick. Others claim the supplements did nothing to ease the more severe symptoms of opioid withdrawal.
When looking into the product and reading reviews, it is often but in the same category as Kava, which is a beverage or extract that is often advertised as a more natural substance. Some use Kava for recreational purposes. Others also use Kava to try and fight their withdrawals. If we look closer at Kava, it has much of its own controversy. There is a lot of contention as to whether Kava is responsible for liver damage and other health risks. While Mitadone is a totally different product, people associate them both with the concept of self-detoxing through ‘natural remedies’. Yet, many still question how safe or effective they are.
Even on the Mitadone website, in the Opiate Aid and Alcohol Aid programs you can see statements like:
“Increases the chances of substance abuse patients to stay in any maintenance therapy program.”
“Addiction doesn’t necessarily conclude after the patient exits a rehab program.”
So even in their product descriptions, they seem to admit that these supplements are not a solution on their own, but a product that might give someone a better chance while pursuing other specific treatment options.
In short, these kinds of nutritional products can be an asset to your recovery plan, but they are ineffective as a primary recovery strategy.
Nutraceutical Therapy and Addiction Treatment
Incorporating a healthier diet and perhaps even vitamins and other supplements can be very beneficial for some, but they should be utilized as part of a more holistic approach to addiction recovery.
Palm Healthcare Company offers Nutraceutical Therapy as part of a holistic addiction treatment program. We understand the importance of nourishing the body while also healing the mind. The value of vitamin and supplement therapy should not be underestimated. There is a benefit to supplements such as:
- Digestive enzymes
- Essential fatty acids
Combine these with a healthy, balanced diet and physical therapy can provide an exceptional advantage to someone on the path to recovery.
But we emphasize that recovering from addiction to drugs or alcohol is not just about balancing out the body to help it break its dependence on substances. Recovery is also about comprehensive addiction education, developing new coping skills and addressing personal traumas. There is so much more to a future in recovery.
Mitadone may have a decent product, but people should always remember that with drug addiction it is not always effective, or even safe, to detox on your own. Medical detox is a resource that exists to help people get off drugs as safely and effectively as possible, while providing various lines of support, including nutrition.
Nutritional therapy in addiction treatment recognizes the importance of what we put into our bodies, but it is most effective as part of a complete treatment plan. For those trying to find ways to overcome withdrawal symptoms, a medical detox with experienced professionals can make the process safer and easier. If you or someone you love is struggling, please call toll-free now.
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(This content is being used for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted in the content is a model)
Palm Healthcare knows the importance of addressing the multi-faceted needs of the individual who suffers from chronic pain. This is why we created the Pain Recovery Program. A person in pain is not only concerned about reclaiming their own sense of well-being and functioning. They are also concerned about reclaiming their sense of purpose, independence, and direction to life.
Palm Healthcare Pain Recovery Program
The focus of the Pain Recovery Program is assisting that person in pain in reclaiming all aspects of their life. Palm Healthcare utilizes a comprehensive bio-psychosocial perspective while incorporating the latest holistic, traditional, and state of the art, non-invasive technology and interventions.
Individuals participating in The Pain Recovery Program are provided a variety of treatment options that include:
- Medication management
- Nutraceutical (vitamin) therapy
- Physical therapy
- Strength and conditioning
- Muscle manipulation therapy
- Chiropractic care
- Aquatic therapy
Each person in The Pain Recovery Program will receive a personalized treatment plan based on comprehensive evaluations and the specific needs of the individual and their specific needs.
Connecting Pain and Addiction
Part of overcoming pain while overcoming addiction is understanding how the two are so closely related. Patients who are struggling with one or both of these conditions often report adverse symptoms such as:
Chronic pain and substance use disorder (SUD) have similar physical, social, emotional, and economic effects on health and well-being; one can easily be confused for the other, while both can exacerbate each other.
Pain in the Brain
Chronic pain and addiction actually have many of the same exact neurophysiological patterns.
For instance: Chronis pain involves abnormal neural processing. Coincidentally, addiction results when normal neural processes are altered into dysfunctional patterns, including disruptions in:
The truth is, there is still a lot to learn about both of these conditions, including patterns of severity, the course of development and responses to treatment.
Gauging and effectively addressing emotional responses is also crucial to effective and lasting pain treatment.
Pain and Emotions
Continued pain can also cause emotional responses, such as:
- Depressive symptoms
Each of these experiences can even turn into more pain. Even after these psychological causes have been addressed the feedback effect can still cause pain in the body.
In fact, there are many studies that indicate pain treatment has worse outcomes when depression is a factor. Some experts say you can even predict how a pain syndrome will evolve based on the emotional status of the patient.
Emotions and SUD
With substance use disorder, the individual’s emotional state is a core cause of continuous drug use. People who use drugs often experience these same emotional responses like anxiety and depression as a result of isolation, social and professional hardships and other side-effects of their drug use. Not to mention the way certain drugs impact the brain. Emotional and psychological trauma can be just as severe for these individuals as physical trauma.
On the other hand, some people may already have a history of experiencing these emotional difficulties and actually be trying to treat themselves by abusing drugs. This feeds into the cycle of emotional distress and substance use.
Both addiction and chronic pain fluctuate in intensity with time under different circumstances. Depending on what is going on in someone’s life, their pain may get worse or seem to disappear, just like an addiction may seem controllable for a time before hitting another harsh bottom.
Both often require ongoing management. But the difficulty can also be that these two conditions feed into each other in a very complicated, and at times toxic, relationship.
Treatment for one can either support or conflict with the other.
The Painful Cycle of Addiction
One of the many difficulties many people experience when trying to overcome addiction while struggling with chronic pain syndrome is that there is a cycle of pain- drugs- more pain- more drugs that seems inescapable.
For example- Narcotic medication typically prescribed for chronic pain may be an issue for someone with a history of substance use disorder.
But then if someone uses a narcotic prescription pain medication, such as opioid analgesics, it can create a physical dependence. Then when the substance is absent from the body the withdrawal symptoms set in.
Withdrawal and Pain
Withdrawal symptoms frequently lead to an increase in symptoms of anxiety and depression, while creating even more physical pain. In turn, the anxiety and depression from withdrawal can contribute to that pain even further.
This pain and distress can provoke a severe obsession with whatever substance the individual was relying on to provide relief. In other words, the individual will crave the drug even more because they are not only experiencing the psychological distress from their brain lacking the drug, they are also experiencing a magnified sense of pain from the experience as well.
Again, the cycle of pain- seeking relief from the pain through substances- recurring pain- continued substance use making the problem worse. The Pain Recovery Program is about interupting this self-destructive cycle with new, sustainable methods of pain management.
The Importance of Treating Pain and Addiction
Substance use disorder in relation to prescription pain medication is widely misunderstood, and while some programs focus on treating the addiction, if there is no way of addressing the chronic pain it does not help the chances of successful recovery. Part of working with chronic pain patients struggling with addiction is education on both conditions while providing effective treatment opportunities simultaneously.
Providing pain management opportunities for the U.S. population struggling with substance use disorder is a unique challenge for many primary care physicians. That is why experienced professionals in the field of drug and alcohol addiction treatment are in a unique position to help.
First, we need to acknowledge a few issues, including:
- People recovering from addiction experiencing pain are less likely to receive adequate pain management than anyone else.
- Insufficient pain relief is a substantial risk factor for possible relapse into substance use.
- It is crucial to distinguishing between patients who are seeking relief for legitimate pain and those who are seeking pain medication for recreational abuse
- Psychiatric and medical illnesses can complicate effective pain management
Experts believe that addiction specialists, in particular, can make significant contributions to the management of chronic pain in patients who suffer from substance use disorder. Addiction specialists can:
- Help create safeguards to assure any pain medication is taken appropriately
- Reinforce behavioral and self-care components of pain management
- Help individuals with strategies to reduce stress
- Assess patients’ recovery support systems
- Help to understand and identify relapse risks
Chronic pain management can be a complex process. Experts say that the efficiency of treatment is amplified when all medical and behavioral healthcare professionals involved collaborate as a team. Palm Healthcare Company’s Pain Recovery Program is all about a united effort toward treating both conditions with a variety of experienced professionals and trainers.
Considering how urgent the addiction epidemic is, and the fact that many people struggling with addiction do suffer from chronic pain, it is so important to have programs like this available. Education, support and relapse prevention is the key. If your or someone you love is struggling with substance use disorder and chronic pain, please call toll-free now. We want to help.
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In 2015 the Journal of Employee Assistance published an article to help Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) looking for addiction treatment programs to recommend for their clients. Guess what, challenge accepted!
When we at Palm Healthcare Company took a close look at the outline provided by the Journal of Employee Assistance on methods of treatment, we were happy to note that our treatment programs fit the description perfectly.
It is important for employers and their assistance groups to have a clear and comprehensive idea of what an effective addiction treatment program looks like, so they can provide their employees with options for quality care. The Journal of Employee Assistance article goes on to identify some of the aspects of the addiction treatment outline for EAP professionals should consider as vital for effective recovery. In order to make confident recommendations, Palm Healthcare Company also believes EA professionals should do all they can to understand all levels of care and the methods of treatment.
We understand and appreciate the power of information. Let us provide a detailed look, point-by-point, at how Palm Healthcare Company can best serve your clients by meeting the suggested specifications of the Journal of Employee Assistance.
As stated in the article by the Journal of Employee Assistance, the current focus for treatment of chronic diseases like addiction is based on dynamic treatment, also known as adaptive interventions or multi-stage treatment strategies. The idea is to continuously evaluate the individual’s progress in order to adjust their treatment.
One-size-fits-all tactics fail to address unique life issues that are connected to substance use and addiction. Personalized treatment that is tailored to each individual’s specific needs is a crucial element to effective holistic treatment.
In fact, the National Institutes of Health have stated that the best programs provide a combination of services that take into account all aspects of the individual, including:
Palm Healthcare Company does not believe in the ‘one-size-fits-all’ model of treatment. We know that every person has their own unique experiences and circumstances. We all live and learn differently, so addiction treatment should take those differences into consideration.
Palm Healthcare Company, like most traditional programs, provides the basics of addiction treatment. Looking at the addiction treatment outline for EAP professionals, the most traditional methods to look for include:
All detox facilities are staffed with medical professionals experienced with treating those struggling with drug or alcohol addiction. Every individual is given a thorough intake assessment to ensure the safest and most comfortable method of medical detox is offered to fit each client.
Because addiction is about far more than substance use, behavioral therapy is extremely important to the recovery process. Not only do these sessions examine destructive behaviors, but they also assess the thoughts and feelings that might cause them.
As part of offering behavioral therapy, Palm Healthcare Company facilities also offer unique classes on building social skills and personal development opportunities.
Palm Healthcare Company also believes that a crucial aspect of overcoming addiction is to understand it through educational, evidence-based therapeutic intervention. Classes are consistently provided explaining various aspects of addiction and mental health disorders so each individual can better understand and cope with their illness.
Support groups and 12 Steps
Historically, group therapies and a sense of community has always been a big piece of addiction recovery. Opportunities to get involved with 12 Step fellowships and other support groups can help individuals to find a sense of community with others recovering from drugs or alcohol. Palm Healthcare Company programs consistently facilitate these options.
Family weeks or weekends for those over 13 years old
The Palm Healthcare Family Program is a unique and empowering experience for individuals trying to overcome their addictions, as well as for their loved ones. Part of the family program is the Palm Healthcare Family Weekend which includes various events designed to educate family members and bring each other closer through connection and support.
However, the Journal of Employee Assistance notes that the more “novel yet effective” programs also include more innovative addiction treatment methods. These facilities go above and beyond the basic outline of services to provide holistic treatment programs. So how does Palm Healthcare Company match up to these recommendations?
A range of therapeutic approaches
Again, Palm Healthcare Company does not believe in the ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to treating addiction. Because not every form of therapy will be as influential for everyone our facilities offer a variety of therapeutic courses. Some of these include:
Palm Healthcare Company believes in utilizing cutting-edge treatment methods to create a more in-depth and personal recovery experience.
Provide multiple levels of care
There are several reasons why having different levels of care can be a big deal for EA professionals seeking treatment providers. For one, different levels of care allow for different levels of contact with the outside world.
With partial hospitalization, intensive or residential levels of treatment there is a much more secure and controlled environment with daily schedules full of therapy options and courses. If the individual is approved for Outpatient or Intensive Outpatient treatment they can attend work for part of the day while attending classes periodically.
Palm Healthcare Company helps the patient choose the level of care that is best suited for their needs. Monitoring individual progress and adapting the aspects of treatment to fit their progress is an important way to personalize the experience and support the transition from addiction to independent recovery.
Treat co-occurring mental health disorders
When an individual is struggling with a mental health disorder and substance use disorder the best method for them is dual diagnosis treatment. This allows the individual to address the addiction and the co-occurring disorder individually and simultaneously for a complete recovery.
Palm Healthcare Company understands that if someone only addresses one disorder without the other then they are more likely to have difficulty maintaining their recovery. These conditions tend to feed off of one another, and one going untreated can cause a relapse in the other.
Address underlying issues related to addiction
Palm Healthcare Company also cares a great deal about understanding substance use disorder; where it comes from and how it influences the lives of those who suffer. Therefore, we believe in exploring each individuals experience to help them find out what underlying issues are connected to their drug or alcohol use.
Addiction is such a complex disorder. There is no one way that someone ends up addicted. While there is a genetic predisposition, there are numerous other factors that contribute to the development of substance use disorder. Because things like trauma and family dynamics play a big part in the development of addiction, an effective treatment program should also examine and address these issues if the patient is going to experience lasting recovery.
Involve the entire family, including children
The Palm Healthcare Family Program is committed not just to offering brief visits with loved ones. Our Family Program is designed to:
- Give the family essential educational information
- Establish deeper connections between loved ones through recovery
- Teach about emotional well-being and healthy boundaries
- Offer life-changing breakthrough experiences
- Create a strong support system
The Palm Healthcare Family Program is a FREE service offered by our facilities because we believe that family involvement is incredibly important for lasting and worthwhile transformation.
Explore performance at work
Clients who are professionals are often very focused on how their substance use affects their career. Along with life skills and behavioral therapy, there is an important element of understanding how addiction impacts your professional life. Everyone from CEOs and executives to labor workers in every industry needs to be aware of how addiction affects the workplace.
Of course, EA professionals are more likely to recommend a treatment program that pays attention to addictions impact on the workplace. So teaching clients how to safely and effectively transition from treatment back to work is an important element of these programs.
Examine legal and financial issues resulting from addiction
Our facilities also take pride in providing teams of skilled individual case-workers who consistently work on behalf of each individual to maintain their personal interests regarding legal issues or other concerns they may have. It is important that an addiction treatment provider has experienced staff members who understand the difficulties that can arise from substance use and know how to best support each individual with these concerns.
Working with the Workforce
All Palm Healthcare Company facilities provide the more holistic and effective approach through this criterion of additional services. We know that addiction is an illness that impacts every walk of life. It also impacts any career position in every industry. We work every day to provide safe, effective and personal recovery plans to every individual we come into contact with.
Another part of providing recovery options to professionals can be to allow EA professionals to get involved in the aftercare process. An EA professional can inquire about policies relating to communication with the source of the referral. If the appropriate consent is given, the EA professional themselves can even become an important part of the recovery team for helping create a discharge and aftercare plan.
Looking at these very important suggestions coming from the Journal of Employee Assistance we are confident in our dedication to providing revolutionary and holistic care above and beyond the addiction treatment outline for EAP professionals. Palm Healthcare Company wants to support you and your clients to create a happier and healthier future. Please call toll-free now for more information.
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(This content is being used for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted in the content is a model)
Barbara Harris believes drug addicts should not have children, and she’s using cash incentives to ensure they never do.
For the last 20 years, Harris has driven across the country in a branded RV advertising her non-profit to drug addicts and alcoholics.
Her mission? To reduce the number of children born addicted to drugs and alcohol.
Her nonprofit, Project Prevention, pays substance abusers up to $300 to get sterilized or put on long term birth control like an implant or IUD. Those who get sterilized receive a lump sum and those who opt for less permanent birth control options get their payments in smaller installments.
To date, Harris’s organization has paid more than 7,000 people, mostly women, to give up their fertility. Project Prevention only pays the addicts and leaves the sterilizations and birth control procedures to doctors.
Harris believes the cash incentive is stopping a major societal problem in its tracks:
“We’re preventing women who are strung out on drugs and alcohol from conceiving a child,” Harris says. “Nobody has a right to force-feed any child drugs and then deliver a child that may die or may have lifelong illnesses.”
Drug and alcohol use during pregnancy can result in a host of medical complications. The use of heroin and narcotic painkillers like OxyContin, Vicodin, or morphine can cause bleeding within the brain (intracranial hemorrhage) and even infant death.
Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS) is defined as: “a group of problems that occur in a newborn who was exposed to addictive illegal or prescription drugs while in the mother’s womb,” according to Medscape.
- Every 25 minutes, a baby is born suffering from extreme withdrawal symptoms from the heroin, painkillers, or cocaine their mothers continued using throughout pregnancy.
- The numbers of babies born addicted to drugs have quadrupled between 2004 and 2013.
- In 2013, 27 babies out of every 1000 were born dependent on narcotics.
- These babies suffer from withdrawal symptoms like irritability, convulsions, sleep abnormalities and joint stiffness.
- Often, these babies must be sent to intensive care units where doctors help wean them off the drugs.
- It is taking longer to wean addicted babies off drugs such as heroin and mephedrone. On average, babies now spend their first 19 days – up from 13 days – in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.
- In 2015, the average overall cost of a newborn suffering from NAS was found to be between $159,000 and $238,000, and these numbers are expected to continue to rise.
In terms of alcohol consumption during pregnancy, fetal alcohol syndrome is another tragic outcome. Fetal alcohol syndrome can seriously harm the development of a baby during pregnancy, both mentally and physically. These effects can last throughout a child’s life.
FAS harms a baby in many ways including:
- Birth defects
- Vision or hearing problems
- Low birth weight
- Learning disabilities
- Speech and language delays
- Behavioral problems
- Growth deficiency
Some say Harris’s Organization Raises SERIOUS Ethical Questions
Harris’s mission to reduce these pregnancies seems straightforward. However, many feel her organization raises serious ethical questions. One question posed is whether she is taking advantage of addicts during their most vulnerable time.
A major critic of Project Prevention is Lynn Paltrow, Executive Director of National Advocates for Pregnant Women. She’s been a critic of Harris’s work for over 20 years.
“Barbara Harris greatest impact is in perpetuating really destructive and cruel myths about pregnant women and their children,” Paltrow says.
Paltrow believes Harris’s organization does more harm than good and does not address the underlying problems of poverty, lack of access to healthcare and stress created by racism have on these women. Instead, she feels Harris’s organization does nothing more but promote stigma.
“When you talk to the medical researchers, the great news is that none of the criminalized drugs cause unique permanent terrible damage,” Paltrow says. “Three percent of all women give birth to babies that have what are called serious birth defects. None of that has anything to do with the criminalized drugs.”
Another strong critic featured is Mary Barr, a former addict who believes what Harris is doing is wrong. Barr has two children who were born healthy despite her drug use.
“I have two children who are incredibly healthy, were born healthy, they’re 26 and 25, and they’re very amazingly successful,” she says.
When asked if she would have taken up on Harris’s offer at the height of her addiction, she says she would have.
“I would have taken it because $300 all at once, that means for me, three nights of sleeping indoors,” she says referring to her predicament back then.
Is Project Prevention Denying Addicts a Second Chance?
Despite the controversy, Harris believes what her organization is doing is the right thing for the children. She does not believe she is promoting sterilization. Instead, she says what she offers is a choice.
“We don’t promote sterilization, that’s their choice. They got strung out; they decided they wanted $300 to sterilize themselves, and if it’s a decision they regret, it was a decision they made just like prostituting and ending up with AIDS,” she says.
One of the reasons Harris is so passionate about this is because she adopted and raised four children from the same mother who used drugs throughout her pregnancy. She wants to prevent other children from being born in the same situation.
“I watched how my children suffered and had to withdraw from drugs when they were born so no, I wasn’t thinking about ‘These poor women,’ I was thinking ‘My poor children,’” she says.
“I always say to them if you believe that strongly that these women should keep conceiving children then you should step up and adopt the next one born, but most of the people who have a problem with what we’re doing would never consider adopting one of these children, so if you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem,” she concludes
Overall, like most harm reduction programs, this solution is controversial. There are many addicts who have recovered and gone on to have and raise children. Sadly, there are children born every day addicted to drugs and alcohol, and the consequences are real. Harris’s organization receives over $500,000 in funding every year. Clearly, there are many on her side when it comes to providing this option.
What are your thoughts? Does a program like this promote stigma or offer a solution? Either way, please do not continue to let your addiction take over your life. You deserve the opportunity to live a healthy and satisfying life. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or mental illness, please call now 1-800-777-9588.
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The opioid epidemic continues to reach epidemic numbers, and with the increasing overdoses comes increasing cases of hepatitis C. New cases of hepatitis C have nearly doubled over the past few years. Furthermore, those with opioid addiction are more likely to suffer from a variety of health disorders, complicating treatment for substance use disorder.
Hepatitis C is among the most concerning disorder to affect people with opioid addiction. People who abuse opioids are 9.1 times more likely to have hepatitis-C (HCV), in comparison to those who did not abuse opioids, according to an analysis by the health care company Amino. Amino drew data from the claims of 3.1 million privately insured patients between 2014 and 2016.
As the opioid epidemic spreads throughout the country, new cases of HCV have skyrocketed. In 2014, there were an estimated 30,500 new cases in the United States. This is nearly double the number of new cases in 2011, according to STAT News.
The CDC reports that new HCV infection is rising specifically among intravenous drug users under 40 years old, particularly in more rural areas. People with opioid use disorder are more likely to drink to excess, and more likely to have suicidal ideation.
While these numbers are shocking, many are not surprised:
“It’s known that people with co-occurring behavioral and mental health issues are at high risk for addiction even when prescribed opioids for a bonafide prescription medical use,” Dr. Anna Lembke, a Stanford University psychiatrist, and opioid addiction expert, told Amino.
However, Lembke was particularly moved by the fact that people with opioid addiction are seven times more likely to suffer from “failed back syndrome,” a chronic condition that is diagnosed following back surgeries.
“What I thought was really interesting was the correlation with failed back syndrome,” she said. “Perhaps failed back syndrome is a risk factor for developing an opioid use disorder—and that could be part of the reason why this community experiences such chronicity and lack of improvement. This is a subgroup that’s especially vulnerable to opioid misuse.”
The data collected by Amino looked at health claims among people with a variety of insurance codes, representing conditions from opioid dependence to opioid abuse in remission. Amino is a private insurer, and the data revealed a sharp increase in opioid abuse specifically among those with private insurance. According to the data, there was a six-fold increase in opioid-related insurance claimed between 2012 and 2016 among private insurers.
However, Lembke notes that this sharp increase may be underrepresented:
“Patients don’t want to carry them on their charts, and doctors don’t want to stigmatize their patients,” said Lembke. “But they will go ahead and chart it if there’s utility in it. And the utility is you can’t get buprenorphine, methadone maintenance, or naltrexone paid for by a third-party payer unless it’s diagnosed.”
Last month was Hepatitis Awareness Month. The treatments for hepatitis C have really come a long way, and it no longer as life endangering as It once was. The key is to seek treatment early. Unfortunately, due to the stigma of addiction, many are afraid to get tested.
Studies like these show that the numbers are not improving. Those with opioid addiction seriously need testing to prevent the disease from progressing any further. Please do not feel shame about testing for this disorder. Furthermore, if you are struggling with substance use disorder, please reach out to us. We have the tools to guide you to a sober life. Do not wait. Call today.
CALL NOW 1-888-922-5398