Beware of THC-Laced Candy

Gummies in bulk in glass containersAmong all of the gummy candies, gummy bears are among the most beloved. However, many parents are now opting for other favorites due to the rise of THC-laced gummies. The rise of THC gummies, or candies made with tetrahydrocannabinol (the psychedelic property found in marijuana), have become increasingly popular in the medical marijuana market, which may be why increasing numbers of young people are arriving at emergency rooms, ill from high dosages of the drug.

Many medical marijuana users prefer to ingest THC with edibles like gummies and baked goods rather than to smoke marijuana. According to Dan Anglin of the Colorado Cannabis Chamber of Commerce, drug-infused edibles comprise approximately half of Colorado’s legal cannabis market.

House Bill 1366, passed in 2014, required state regulators to devise laws on edible cannabis products so they are more identifiable when out of their packaging and less appealing to young people. However, kids who are not typically instructed to check for an identifying stamp or emblem on candies may accidentally ingest THC-laced candies. Children are also still at risk to be enticed by the unmarked THC gummies in circulation due to homemade production.

Unmarked gummies may have been at play when 12 Naperville North High School students ingested THC gummies and were sent to Edward Hospital for their accelerated heart rates, agitation, dizziness, and dry mouth. The two teens who distributed the weed gummies were charged with the delivery of marijuana. Another case of THC illness was reported when 11 Indiana teens ate less than one gummy bear each. “The strength is so strong that it caused an adverse reaction in 11 people – not one person, not three – it wasn’t just a small batch or a bad batch”, said Indiana Police Capt. Kellems.

The effect of THC is accelerated when eaten rather than smoked, according to the Marijuana Policy Project. Most edible marijuana is metabolized by the liver, which then produces a kind of THC that has a bigger psychedelic punch than the THC that reaches your blood plasma when you smoke it. The high will last much longer too, up to 12 hours.

The best thing you can do to keep your child safe this Halloween season is to carefully inspect your child’s candy. Here are a few rules you can follow to keep THC laced candies from your children this Halloween:

  • Discard candies printed with a marijuana leaf emblem on the packaging or on the candy itself.
  • All candy packaging should appear to be straight from a factory. Do not allow candies that have been hand-packaged.
  • Be wary of abnormally sized and shaped gummy bears. The gummy bear molds often used to make THC gummies are larger than the typical gummy bear size.
  • When it doubt, throw it out!

 

The Link Between Suicide and Substance Use Disorder

Suicirsz_istock_000001170662_largede is the tenth leading cause of death in the United States [1], but for people dealing with a substance use disorder, suicide risk is profoundly increased. In fact, those with substance use disorder face suicide as the number-one cause of death [2], making this population six times more likely to commit suicide than those without a substance use disorder [3].

Conditions that can flare or develop during a cycle of drug use are commonly depression and mood disorders, which are also the conditions that pose the highest risk for suicide. When an individual uses drugs and alcohol, emotions are intensified— positive feelings can bring a heightened euphoria while depressive feelings can bring intense despair. This mental state of dejection is what leads to the attempt or completion of self-inflicted death.

Interestingly, thoughts of suicide have also been seen to remain even after drugs have worn off. The effects of drug withdrawal may trigger suicidal thoughts due to the physical discomforts associated with withdrawal and depression caused by the depletion of “happy” neurotransmitters during an individual’s use.

Substance use can increase the risk of suicide in many different ways. There are different rates of suicide associated with specific drug use disorders, especially in regards to the use of opioids and alcohol.

  • Those with opiate use disorder are 14 times more likely to complete suicide [3].
  • Women with alcohol use disorders are 20 times more likely to complete suicide [3].
  • Men with alcohol use disorders are 4 times more likely to complete suicide [3].

Suicide prevention for someone with a substance use disorder begins with treatment. Gateway uses evidenced-based treatments to solve the underlying issues of an entire range of problems, including substance use disorder, depressive disorders, and suicidal ideation. Learn more about Gateway’s specialized co-occurring treatment programs at https://recovergateway.org/gateway/drug-rehab/Co-Occurring-Treatment/

 

[1] CDC Web Based Inquiry Statistics Query and Reporting System (WISQARS), 2015.

[2] Center for Substance Abuse Treatment, 2008.

[3] The National Center for Biotechnology Information, 2015.

The Role of Nutrition in Recovery

Substance Use Dnutrients and substance abuse recoveryisorder (SUD) and poor nutrition often go hand-in-hand. Nutrient imbalances can intensify the cravings for alcohol and drugs. Poor nutrition can also have an effect on co-occurring disorders such as depression and anxiety. According to an article in Today’s Dietitian SUD is known to lead to vitamin and mineral deficiencies that threaten physical and mental health, damage vital organs and the nervous system, and decrease immunity.

“A well balanced diet rich in nutrients is needed for cognitive repair, processing and critical thinking; which are all compounding factors to a healthful and lasting recovery,” said Jayne Chatzidakis, Gateway’s dietitian consultant with Cynthia Chow & Associates.

The recovery process at Gateway Foundation includes encouragement for proper nutrition through collaboration with the dietitians from Cynthia Chow & Associates. The dietitians provide the highest standard of dietary consultation for the specialized needs of Gateway clients.

Proper nutrition aids in ridding the body of toxins and restores the nutrients that have been lost as a result of substance use. What does proper nutrition look like? “Eat more nutrient rich foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains and fish,” encourages Jayne Chatzidakis. “Stay away from overly prep
ared, frozen, processed, or prepackaged foods. Also, drinking plenty of water throughout the day is vital to hydrate the body and assist in the detoxification process.”

“Overall, it’s about achieving a healthy lifestyle that is drug free, nutritious and active,” said Jayne Chatzidakis.

Appreciate a Social Worker: Social Worker Appreciation Month

Young Woman Having Counselling SessionMarch is National Professional Social Work Month as recognized by the National Association of Social Workers (NASW). According to the NASW our nation has more than 600,000 social workers, yet many people still misunderstand who social workers are and the invaluable contributions they bring to society.

Social workers are responsible for helping individuals, families, and groups of people to cope with problems they’re facing in their lives. Being a social worker is often a challenging, yet gratifying career.

As a part of this role, social workers regularly encounter individuals and families affected by substance use disorders (SUDs). Social workers must be knowledgeable about the dynamics of substance use, dependency, and recovery.

Working with clients with SUDs, a social worker must possess specialized knowledge and understanding of psychological and emotional factors, physiological issues, legal considerations, and the co-occurrence of mental health disorders that can coincide with substance use.

“Gateway’s collaboration with the social work profession is key in ensuring that our clients receive the highest quality of coordinated care,” said Katie Stout, Executive Director at Gateway Foundation in Carbondale, IL. “Social workers are instrumental to the evidence-based treatment offered by our programs.”

Social workers begin at the frontline of treatment continuum and are the advocate for their client. As part of this advocacy social workers help their clients gain access to the proper resources and treatment; from start to finish.

Please join Gateway in celebrating this month by honoring a social worker today!

Gateway Treatment Centers Offers Two Free CEU Webinars: “Understanding Addiction: Why Can’t Those Affected Just Say No”

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Addiction has a stigma attached to it, causing many to blame the struggling individual for their problems and assume that they should just be able to stop using if they want to. But the effects of substance use can change the chemistry of the brain, making the task of “Just Saying No” seem inaccessible.

This February, Gateway Alcohol & Drug Treatment Centers will offer two free webinars “Understanding Addiction: Why Can’t Those Affected Just Say No?” giving participants the opportunity to earn one continuing education unit (CEU) and learn about the brain processes that develop under the grips of addiction.

The webinar presenter is A’nna Jurich, LCPC, a Program Director at Gateway Treatment Centers. A’nna has worked with Gateway since 1994 and has worked as a clinician in addictions and mental health for the past 24 years. She is trained in Motivational Interviewing and EMDR.

Because of the way drugs work in the brain, addiction can form, causing compulsive behavior and a lack of control over seeking and taking the drug. “Addiction is a lifelong, chronic disease that affects millions of individuals. The more understanding and acceptance we are able to gain, the better prepared we are to treat and support those who suffer,” Jurich said.

The webinar will be offered on two occasions: Wednesday February 15th, 2017 from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. and Thursday February 23rd, 2017 from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. Participants can receive one CEU – NAADAC, Illinois: LCSW, LSW, LCPC, LPC, Nursing, Psychologist, IAODAPCA (Counselor I, Preventionist I, CARS I, MISA I, PCGC II, CCJP II, CAAP I, CRSS II, MAATP I, NCRS II, CFPP II)

For more details regarding the webinar, please visit Recovergatway.org/Training.

Registration in advance is required and space is limited.

 

Addiction: A Disease Delegitimized by Stigma

Professional medical associheroinations, such as the American Society of Addiction Medicine and American Medical Association, define addiction as a disease just like diabetes, cancer, or heart disease. Articulating a usable definition of what “disease” actually is can be surprisingly difficult, as notions of health vary by context. Dorland’s Medical Dictionary generally defines disease as any condition that causes pain, dysfunction, distress, social problems, or death to the person afflicted.

Dr. Thomas Britton, CEO of Gateway Foundation, wrote in his article “Releasing Stigma’s Grip” that the many facets of drugs and alcohol addiction make it a unique disease. In comparison to cancer or diabetes, addiction strongly affects spiritual and mental wellness—not just physical wellness. Dr. Britton explains that this cumulative approach generates internal battles in those inflicted and seeking help. He writes, “Many people are simply overcome with feelings of inadequacy, shame and embarrassment.”

Perhaps this is due to society’s disillusioned notions of addiction. Stereotypes of dependency disrupt society at large from truly understanding the legitimacy of the disease. Drug and alcohol abuse are commonly associated with crime, broken homes, laziness, violence, and moral failing. Dr. Britton explains that fear of judgment may prevent those suffering from seeking the treatment they need.

According to the Center of Addiction, up to 25 percent of people with substance abuse problems appear to have a chronic disorder, meaning that their disease is a long-lasting condition that can be controlled but not cured. For chronic sufferers, addiction is a progressive, relapsing disease that requires intensive treatments and continuing aftercare, monitoring, and support to manage recovery.

You may find Dr. Thomas Britton’s full article, “Releasing Stigma’s Grip,” here. If you or someone you know is suffering from substance abuse disorder, do not let shame or judgment impede pursuit of treatment. To get your or your loved one’s life back on track, learn more about treatment options at RecoverGateway.org.

 

New Year’s Resolutions to Achieve Sobriety

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New Year’s resolutions often stem from self-evaluation, enabling us to learn more about ourselves and push us to make better choices. Those who make New Year’s resolutions are 10 times more likely to change their behavior than those who don’t, according to researchers at the University of Scranton.

The severity of resolutions can vary from person to person whether they revolve around finances or health. With a new year representing change and optimism, a person struggling with substance abuse disorder often sees a new year as an opportunity for a fresh start. Those looking to break free of addiction can increase their chance of success by resolving to enter a drug rehab program in January of the New Year.

Because New Year’s resolutions often fail to launch, it’s a running joke how many commitments disintegrate on January 2nd. A resolution to enter a rehab program can flop just as easily, especially because getting clean and sober is so multifaceted. Drugs and alcohol affect and control every aspect of live, so resolving to quit is not just a matter of lack of will power or follow-through. With that said, it is important to stay focused and committed on this journey, while enlisting the support of friends and family members to help make the resolution succeed.

If you are new to goal setting or new to taking resolutions seriously, it’s OK to start slow. Read more about the full continuum of substance abuse treatment  options that Gateway can offer, including Fispecialized programs and schedules.

A resolution to enter drug rehab can be an important first step towards a better future. If you or someone you know is struggling with alcohol or drugs, visit RecoverGateway.org or call 877-505-4673 to learn more about treatment optionsinsurance coverage, and Gateway’s confidential consultation.

Prince’s Death Puts Opioid Fentanyl Overdose under Spotlight

According to a Minnesota medical examiner report, musician Prince passed away after a self-administered dose of fentanyl. (Forbes, 2016)

It is not clear whether Prince habitually used fentanyl or other prescription opioids or how long he used such medication; there is not enough information to classify this as an addiction. Nevertheless, this tragic and untimely loss is increasing awareness of the ongoing opioid epidemic in the United States – and more specifically, fentanyl abuse. During this devastating time, Gateway hopes to educate individuals on how to recognize the signs and symptoms of prescription drug abuse and help a loved one who may be struggling.

Addressing the Prescription Drug Abuse Epidemic

Medicine pill capsules with medicine bottleStudies show that more than 28,000 people died from opioids, which includes heroin and painkillers, in 2014, and 4.3 million people were taking pain medication for non-medical purposes that year. (NY Times, 2016)

In March of 2015, the DEA issued a nationwide alert regarding fentanyl. “Drug incidents and overdoses related to fentanyl are occurring at an alarming rate throughout the United States and represent a significant threat to public health and safety,” wrote DEA Administrator Michele M. Leonhart.

Fortunately, there is hope. Treatment is available for those who wish to seek help for prescription drug abuse.

What is Fentanyl?

Fentanyl is a powerful prescription opioid. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that fentanyl is nearly one hundred times as strong as morphine and hundreds of times more potent than heroin.

Fentanyl is typically prescribed to treat severe pain, or to manage pain after surgery. Like heroin, morphine, and other opioids, fentanyl binds to the body’s opiate receptors – driving up dopamine levels in the brain’s reward areas and producing a state of euphoria and relaxation.

When prescribed by a physician, fentanyl is often administered via injection, transdermal patch, or in lozenge form. However, the type of fentanyl associated with most overdoses is produced in underground laboratories and mixed with heroin or other substances in a powder form.

Mixing fentanyl with street drugs such as heroin or cocaine increases potency and potential dangers. (National Institute on Drug Abuse, 2016)

What are the Signs and Symptoms of Fentanyl Abuse?
If your loved one is prescribed an opioid painkiller, keep a watchful eye and ensure he or she takes the medication as directed. Some warning signs of prescription drug abuse to watch for include:

  • Appearing drowsy or intoxicated
  • Depression
  • Irritability
  • Not performing well at work or school (or just not attending at all)
  • Running out of medication too early
  • Changing doctors often

Effects of Fentanyl Abuse
There are serious mental and physical effects of prolonged fentanyl abuse in addition to the signs and symptoms of abuse listed above. Physical side effects include severe gastrointestinal problems, weakened immune system, difficulty breathing and seizures. Mental effects may include paranoia, lack of motivation, personality changes and social withdrawal. When combined with street drugs, the depression of the central nervous system can lead to respiratory distress, coma and even death. (DrugAbuse.com)

To learn more about prescription drug abuse and treatment visit RecoverGateway.org/RxDrugs.

 

Marijuana Update: Legalization Support and Teen Use Trending Up

From board rooms to family rooms, marijuana legalization continues to be a hot topic due largely to rapidly changing attitudes toward marijuana in the United States. According to a new 2015 Gallup Poll, the majority of Americans (58%) say marijuana use should be legal.

Young Americans have always shown the most support of any age group for making marijuana legal, but this number has grown form 20% in 1969 to 71% currently.

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Marijuana Legalization Support Trending Up: Young Americans have always shown the most support of any age group for making marijuana legal, but this number has grown from 20% in 1969 to 71% currently.

According to a new 2015 Gallup Poll, the majority of Americans (58%) say marijuana use should be legal.

To counter the hype, Gateway Alcohol & Drug Treatment Centers continue to carry out a marijuana awareness effort to educate affiliated professionals, as well as consumers, on why it’s important not to minimize the effects of marijuana use. With marijuana in the headlines nearly every day, it is important to separate the fact from the myths of this extremely popular drug.

Interested in learning how marijuana use impacts brain function and can lead to addiction? Gateway Alcohol & Drug Treatment Centers recently published a free guide available for download at RecoverGateway.org/MarijuanaFacts.

Teen Use Trending Up

Marijuana use continues to exceed cigarette use among high school seniors. In 2015, 21.3% of high schools seniors used marijuana in the past 30 days compared with 11.4% who smoked cigarettes. In 2015, for the first time, daily cigarette use was lower than daily marijuana use. Moreover, 79.5% of high school seniors say it is easy to get marijuana.

Treatment for Marijuana Use
At Gateway Treatment Centers, we offer customized treatment plans for people who abuse marijuana as well as alcohol and other drugs. Our highly qualified substance abuse specialists provide the counseling and skills people need to help rebuild positive connections, improve relationships and identify the triggers that lead to excessive, extended use of a drug like marijuana.

If you know someone that you think may be struggling with marijuana use, visit RecoverGateway.org to access free information on prevention and treatment options in Swansea, Illinois. For a free, confidential consultation call our 24/7 helpline at 877-505-HOPE (4673). With more than 45 years of experience treating teens and adults, Gateway is here to help.

Recovery Story: Treatment Enables Victory over Drug Abuse

recovery-drug-abuse“Partying” was getting the best of Everett G., who had been abusing alcohol and crack cocaine for about 20 years. Over those years, he repeatedly let down his father, sisters, brothers, nieces and nephews and damaged his relationships with his children and their mother. By the time his second child was born, the toll his abuse was taking became obvious to him.

Everett compares his experiences with cocaine and alcohol to being in a boxing ring, fighting a 12-foot monster. “I’m in the ring and I’m not even swinging any more – just taking punches. And I’m wondering why nobody threw in the towel, why nobody’s helping me. I turn around and look in my corner and I notice there’s nobody there, nobody at the fight with me. On December 10, 2013, I had the bright idea to get out of the ring.”

A staff member at Jackson Park Hospital recommended Gateway Alcohol & Drug Treatment Centers to Everett and then his union steward and EAP representative at work helped him get into a program. Over the course of his alcohol and crack cocaine abuse, Everett had been in and out of six different treatment facilities.

“Participating in treatment at Gateway was one of the best experiences of my life. I knew I needed help again and I’m glad I went to Gateway,” Everett said.

As consequence of abusing drugs, Everett had closed himself off emotionally and spiritually, losing his connection with principles and his spiritual side. He believed he could lead a sober life if he could reconnect to his spiritual life. He explained, “I know the enemy is the disease and once it isolates me, it’s got me. Once I connect through the love and the people, it’s hard to go outside the lines and drink and use drugs again.” He said at Gateway, he felt a level of love he had never experienced before, but also points out that he was ready to receive that love.

Everett said that Paul, the director of the men’s unit at Gateway Chicago West, was especially influential and that he paid attention to every individual in the program. “His heart was in it and he helped me everywhere he could. I could go to him for anything,” Everett said, adding “Everyone was so approachable and I could go to anyone with a problem. The level of caring is just over the top.”

Everett said the coping skills he learned at Gateway prepared him for the “boxing match” he was going to have for the rest of his life. During his treatment, Everett discovered the best way to prepare for the fight was to stay out of the ring, or “stay away from people, places and things” that can bring you down. He pointed out that sometimes the fight comes to you, and compared his newly acquired coping skills to learning how to uppercut, jab and dodge to win the match.

Everett’s initial inpatient treatment program extended to 60 days and he’s grateful for Gateway’s help in working with his health insurance company to obtain the additional time in treatment he needed. Following his program, he went to a halfway house where he met people who were instrumental to his success on the second portion of his recovery journey. He chose to participate in both intensive outpatient (IOP) and basic outpatient (BOP) programs at Gateway. “The aftercare programs set Gateway Chicago West apart from anywhere else I went. The programs are there for you when you need the support” Everett said.

Everett sees staying connected as essential to his continued sobriety, participating in the Alumni Program and chairing its Leadership Program, through which he reaches out to people who are fresh from treatment to see how they’re doing and give them a sense of hope. He believes maintaining the friendships he made during treatment and making new connections is a great addition to his life. “My new friends understand what I’m going through in a way that people who are not in recovery cannot.” he explained.

Everett offers his interpretation of the significance of Gateway’s name. “They’re saying, ‘walk through this door and change your life.’  They provide the gateway, a process to live by.”

If someone you know is struggling with alcohol or drug abuse, don’t wait. Call 877-505-HOPE (4673) or visit RecoverGateway.org to learn about insurance coverage, treatment options, and our free, confidential consultation. 

 

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