Gateway Presents New Program at National Rx Drug Abuse and Heroin Summit

The National Rx Drug Abuse and Heroin Summit took place in Atlanta this week, and two of Gateway’s own attended to speak about a new program on Thursday. Also in attendance were special speakers President Bill Clinton, Counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway, and U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams.

Karen Wolownik-Albert, Gateway Lake Villa executive director, and Sally Thoren, Chicago-Independence executive director, presented on Project Warm Hand Off. This federally funded initiative targets those struggling with opioid use and works to remove barriers to treatment. Using the Screening Brief Intervention and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) model, this program aims to connect people struggling with opioid use disorders to treatment directly from emergency departments. Recovery coaches follow up with patients to ensure the Warm Hand Off is completed, and also with patients who initially declined assistance. “We call it ‘intercepting’ those in crisis and shepherding them to care,” Thoren says.

Biggest takeaways

“We were thrilled to find our room full of interested attendees,” Thoren says. “We found that the challenges we faced in implementation have been experienced by most others as well, including delays in hospitals agreeing to partner, capacity issues, and challenges with the Medicaid changes.”

Thoren left the conference struck by New York’s coordinated, state-wide efforts against the opioid crisis.

“They have obtained the waiver that allows for more services to be paid by Medicaid, so they don’t have the capacity challenges we face in Illinois,” she elaborates. “They have robust needle exchange programs, embracing a harm-reduction approach. They have outstanding data demonstrating their effectiveness.”

Dr. Adams’ presentation garnered most of the national attention: He issued the first surgeon general national public health advisory in 13 years, urging more Americans to carry naloxone, an antidote that blocks the effects of opioids and reverses overdoses.

“We fully support the surgeon general’s advisory,” Wolownik-Albert says. “At Gateway, we have been working for several years to increase naloxone access and provide education to clients, alumni, and family. Our goal is to ensure that everyone in need of naloxone has access to this life-saving medication. We train all of our staff on overdose prevention and administering naloxone.”

“In northern Illinois, we are very fortunate in comparison to other areas of the country, to have many programs and collaborations to combat the Opioid Epidemic,” Wolownik-Albert says.

Dr. Adams stated that more access to naloxone alone will not solve this crisis – access to evidence-based treatment also must be expanded.

“The ‘tone’ was one of action, not a ‘call to action,’” Thoren says. “That is, since there is universal agreement that this crisis is real, the need is great, the tone was ‘we are doing’ as opposed to ‘we must do.’”

 

Gateway Foundation’s ASPIRE Program Achieves Top, Dual Diagnosis Rating

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Gateway is proud to announce the ASPIRE program at Chicago Independence is the first in Illinois to be certified as a Dual Diagnosis Enhanced (DDE) site. This means ASPIRE is now officially able to treat co-occurring mental health and substance use disorders. ASPIRE is the only women’s program that has met the DDE standard, as determined by an independent rater, and one of the only women’s programs American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) deems appropriate for clients who have severe or unstable mental health disorders and need residential treatment.

Being able to treat substance use and mental health disorders is extremely important, as 80 percent of individuals with substance use disorders also have mental health disorders, such as depression and anxiety. In order for a person to have the greatest chance of a successful outcome, both aspects must be treated. When either disorder goes untreated, the probability of relapse is much higher.

In order to ensure the staff is thoroughly prepared for treating clients with substance use and co-occurring mental health disorders, Gateway hired employees who established many techniques to develop a training program to spread the knowledge. Ensuring the staff is properly prepared to treat both disorders allows for patients to have the best chance at lifelong recovery.

What is ASPIRE?

The ASPIRE program was first implemented six years ago and provides evidence-based treatment for women suffering from substance use disorders and co-occurring mental health conditions. While addiction does not discriminate based on gender, addiction has often been painted as a male issue. In reality, millions of women in the United States are also battling addiction. A program like ASPIRE helps bridge the gender gap of addiction while still ensuring women receive a tailored, personalized treatment plan for their individual needs.

“The program gives women everything that exists in the best non-gender specific programs, with the added benefit of women-specific programming that addresses how gender roles impact substance use disorders and related co-morbid conditions, such as trauma,” says Chicago Independence Clinical Director Gilbert Lichstein. “The program is a safe space where participants are not addressed in a confrontational manner or judged.”

ASPIRE is one of many Gateway initiatives that demonstrates our commitment to treating not only substance use disorders but the underlying causes of addiction.

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.

 

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