Safe Passage Program Hosts Recognition and Celebration Event

gold star trophy against blue background

On September 1, 2015, the Dixon Police Department in northwest Illinois launched the Safe Passage Program to help people addicted to opiates receive the proper treatment to get their lives back on track. Gateway Alcohol & Drug Treatment Centers has partnered with the Dixon PD in the Safe Passage Program to help provide treatmen
t to those seeking help.

In honor of the one-year anniversary of the Safe Passage Program, the Dixon PD will be hosting a recognition and celebration event on Wednesday, September 21 at That Place on Palmyra in Dixon, IL. The event runs from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. and is open to the public. Awards will be provided to all treatment partners, including Gateway Treatment Centers.

The Dixon, IL website describes the program:

Safe Passage – Opiate Addiction Program

Are you addicted to heroin or other opioids? Do you know someone who is?

It’s time to get help!

The Dixon Police Department and Lee County Sheriff’s Department have a revolutionary new policing program aimed at getting people suffering from addiction the help they need, instead of putting them in handcuffs. Lee County is changing the way they handle addicts who request help with their addiction to opiates such as Morphine, Heroin, Fentanyl, Oxycodone, Percocet and Percodan and Hydrocodone as found in Vicodin.

Any Lee County resident who enters the police station or sheriff’s department and asks for help with their addiction to opiates will be placed into appropriate treatment.

The Safe Passage Initiative was created to help heroin and opiate addicts get into recovery. If you need help or know someone who needs help into recovery from addiction, you just need to come to one of the stations and ask for it. We are here to help with the steps towards recovery. There will be some paperwork that needs to be completed and then you will be paired with a volunteer who will help guide you through the process. We have partnered with treatment centers to ensure that our patients receive the care and treatment they deserve—not in days or weeks, but immediately.

You can bring drugs or drug paraphernalia with you to the police or sheriff’s department. We will dispose of it for you. You will not be arrested. You will not be charged with a crime. You will not be jailed. You will be directed to treatment.

All you have to do is come to the police station or sheriff’s department and ask for help. We are here to do just that.

Source: Dixon Police Department

If you know someone who is experiencing substance abuse, learn more at RecoverGateway.org or call Gateway Alcohol & Drug Treatment Centers for a confidential consultation at 877-505-HOPE (4673).

Free CEU Webinars in Honor of National Recovery Month in September: “Current Drug Trends and Treatment Options”

national-recovery-monthIn honor of National Recovery Month in September, Gateway Alcohol & Drug Treatment Centers will offer a free continuing education (CEU) webinar for healthcare professionals.

The webinar, “Fentanyl, Sizzurp, Vaping and Other Current Drug Trends,” will give participants the opportunity to earn one CEU and learn about current drug trends and treatment options.

The webinar presenter is Rachel Obafemi, LCPC, MISA, CADC, a Program Director at Gateway Treatment Centers. Rachel implements program improvements and standards, evaluates clinical programming and ensures excellent delivery service through best practices and evidence-based curriculums.

“It is imperative as healthcare providers that we have a knowledge base of current trends in substance use to better assist individuals who struggle with substance use challenges,” Obafemi said. “As medical marijuana and opiate overdose become more common in the general population, it is helpful to have an understanding of the complexity of the issues.”

It's like one mindThe webinar will be offered on two occasions: Thursday, September 15 from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. and Tuesday, September 20 from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. Participants can receive one CEU IAODAPCA, NAADAC, Illinois: LCPC, LPC, LCSW, LSW, Nursing, Psychologist.

Registration in advance is required at Recovergatway.org/Training and space is limited.

“A lack of knowledge in the area of current substance use can hinder our ability to identify the needs of our patients. If such an integral part of an individual’s life is foreign to those providing care, then we are unable to promote health and wellness to our patients as a whole,” Obafemi said.

To learn more about this training, visit  RecoverGateway.org/training.

Talking to Teens about “Back to School” Alcohol and Drug Use

As students return to school, it is important for parents to be mindful of their teens’ habits. Alcohol and drug abuse can easily become a problem in your child’s life, especially with the added stressors of a new school year. The top five reasons kids use drugs and alcohol are:

Students Looking Out Of School Bus Window

  1. To combat loneliness, low self-esteem, anxiety, or depression
  2. To mentally “check-out” of family issues or school trouble
  3. To ease discomfort in an unfamiliar situation
  4. To look cool or change their image/reputation
  5. To fit in with a desired group of friends

All these causes can be intensified at the beginning of the school year, as teens adjust to new classes, new classmates, and possibly a new school. This can lead to experimentation with drugs and/or alcohol.

According the 2015 Monitoring the Future study conducted by the University of Michigan, 58% of 12th graders used alcohol within the last year, 35% used marijuana, and 8% used amphetamines. While there has been a trend downward in these numbers, the percentage can still seem staggeringly high. Moreover, in the same study, it was found that only 32% of 12th graders think that regular use of marijuana puts the user at a great risk. This highlights the fact that not all teens are aware of the effects of drug use. In reality, marijuana can have a variety of harmful effects; among other issues, use can cause changes in adolescent brain development, increase the risk of psychosis, and cause lung complications. (Learn more about the effects of marijuana abuse at RecoverGateway.org/Marijuana)

To make sure your teen stays safe this school year, it is important to have a discussion about the risks associated with drug and alcohol use. You have more influence on your child’s values and decisions about using substances before he or she begins to use alcohol or drugs. But, starting the conversation isn’t always easy. For information about the dangers of teen drug use and for tips on how to have open conversations with your teen, download the Roadmap to Understanding Substance Abuse provided by Gateway Drug & Alcohol Treatment Centers.

 

 

Shame, Stigma, and Addiction

Individuals struggling with substance abuse may often feel a sense of shame or stigma and find that it is easier to lie and hide rather than seek treatment. However, more prevalent coverage of substance use disorder-related issues in media and depictions on television of individuals who are not only struggling with drugs and alcohol but also seeking treatment and sobriety, is helping reduce the shame and stigma associated with addiction.

THE FIX REPORTS:

With addiction, stigma can crush you. Stigma is what says your drug and alcohol use is a character flaw. It’s what says you’re a bad mother, it is what says you are a bad son, or a bad husband.

TheFix

It took me a while to get to rehab. I spent years bashing around, harming myself and the people around me before I finally went. I knew I had some serious issues with booze, drugs and sex that I could not get under control on my own, but still, at least people didn’t know I had those problems, and at the time that was all that mattered. It wasn’t like my parents, friends, employers, wives and lovers, knew I was a drunk, a freak and a loser. Sure, it might help if I went to rehab, but as ridiculous as it sounds to me now, the embarrassment of going, and the stigma attached to it, outweighed the fact that I actually might be able to get help. I was terrified of people finding out what my problems were. I had fallen victim to shame, that was perpetuated by stigma.

If you are suffering with an issue of addiction, stigma can crush you. Stigma is what says your drug and alcohol use is a character flaw. It’s what says you’re a bad mother, it is what says you are a bad son, or a bad husband. It is what says you are weak, that you are crazy, that you are a piece of crap. It is why you are afraid to tell your boss that you need some time off to go get help. It is why you would rather lie than tell someone that you are not doing okay. It was why I would rather steal than let people know I needed help.

That was ten years ago. Now, when I look around at the people I know who are struggling with similar issues, there seems to be much less stigma attached to addiction and getting help for one’s problems, at least when it comes to the younger people I know. I am a member of Generation X, my generation hid everything we could about our issues as a rule, but with the coming of Generation Y, otherwise known as millennials, things finally seem to be changing.

Mike Reis, CEO and Founder of DecisionPoint Wellness, had this to say to me about stigma and the younger generation over an email interview: “A big factor that prevents many people from getting the help they need is the stigma associated with being labeled an addict. This is especially true for older Americans who isolate and feel an overwhelming sense of shame. Surprisingly, millennials are leading the way to remove the social stigma. I’ve learned a lot from the millennials that have come through our intensive outpatient program at DecisionPoint in Johns Creek, Georgia. They are connecting to others in recovery through technology and social media. Millennials openly share their recovery stories and daily journey on the Internet too. Unlike previous generations that came into recovery through the anonymity of AA, millennials don’t feel the need to be shackled to those traditions. They are more focused being individuals, and building a community of support. It’s common to see them proudly posting their sober anniversary dates on Facebook. Millennials seem to understand that the way to maintain their sobriety long-term is to publicly share their personal stories as survivors, and bring truth to the spotlight while creating a community of support. In doing so, they help others realize that addiction is a disease, and it needs to be treated as such without shame.”

Many millennials just don’t care a whole lot about what anyone thinks. A good example of this is Kassia Kristoff, a 30-year-old woman who once went to rehab to get help with her heroin use. “Fortunately for me, I have never cared much if at all what ‘society’ thinks of me, and as a result, felt no shame going to rehab. My world by the end consisted of only other addicts, so the only shame might have been in throwing in the towel. What I do feel shame about is the fact that people in this country are judged so harshly for being addicts. As someone who now works in a rehab and works with addicts in my personal life as well, I have seen the devastation that addiction causes to all who suffer from it. Most addicts, when clean, are extremely loving, caring and productive people. They simply need to be taught how to live without using first. Rehab is very helpful in this regard, because it teaches addicts (a term I use for all who suffer from addiction to any substance, including alcohol) about their addiction, and ways to cope without the crutch of their substance. Rehab gives addicts an opportunity to temporarily thrive in a safe and compassionate controlled environment, and to allow their brains and bodies to ‘sober up.'”

According to Karen Wolownik Albert, LCSW, who is executive director of Gateway Foundation Alcohol & Drug Treatment, social and traditional media has a lot to do with this change. She said to me in an interview: “More prevalent coverage of substance use disorder-related issues in media and depictions on television of individuals who are not only struggling with drugs and alcohol but also seeking treatment and sobriety, is helping reduce the shame and stigma associated with addiction. Younger generations are more likely to openly discuss the topic and be more transparent with their families and friends about their desire to seek help, compared to previous generations that kept their struggles private due the negative stigma of being an ‘addict.'”

Of course, it isn’t easy to go to rehab, no matter what generation you are in. But the stigma is way harder to deal with when you are going to get help than it is once you come out on the other side. As an obvious example, I have gone from someone who was terrified about letting anyone know about my issues, to writing about them in forums such as this one. Someone else who has done that is Lindsey Hall, who writes for many websites about her experiences with her eating disorder, including her own.

She told me that “I do not feel stigma around my eating disorder. Not anymore, at least… but I also write about it publicly and have connected with hundreds of people who have been through what I experienced, and I think that has slowly worn away the fear of stigma. Also, we live in a world where opioid addiction and eating disorders are on the rise, so it’s more likely than ever that you have a loved one or you yourself have experienced addiction. Due to social media, people talk about their ‘issues’ more openly than ever and for an eating disorder, there are so many body positive Instagram accounts as well as recovery websites and essays and blogs (including mine) about this exact topic that make you feel like you’re actually in a community. However, before I went to rehab in 2013, I absolutely did feel stigma. I was terrified to tell people I was going. I wanted people to respect me and think of me as someone who had her life together, and I felt like rehab had this whole stigma of ‘Oh, you went to rehab? You must be like super messed up. You’re crazy. I can’t take you seriously anymore.’ At the end of the day, I’m not going to say it’s easy to proclaim, when meeting new people, that I’ve been in rehab. But, it’s just becoming more of an acceptable reality in a culture where drug addiction/binge drinking/and eating disorders are rampant.”

David Rosenbloom, PhD, is a professor of Public Health at Boston University where he directs Join Together, a program that helps communities prevent and reduce alcohol and drug problems.

Dr. Rosenbloom told me that he believes millennials are more tolerant of a much broader range of human conditions than their parents or prior generations. When I asked him what we could do as a society to decrease stigma, he said, “We need to significantly expand access to medication-assisted treatment and conduct a public education campaign in support of their long-term use. We also need to apologize for past excesses in the criminal justice system, and systematically review and release hundreds of thousands of people who are in prison or jail because of their substance use disorder. We should repeal all laws that prevent individuals with criminal records associated with drug or alcohol use from getting jobs, housing or education, and expand public investments to provide jobs for these people.”

When it comes right down to it, more and more people of the millennial generation are not only not ashamed of their seeking help for their issues, they make a point of that for all to see. One of those people is Seth Leaf Pruzansky, who is shopping a book about his spiritual awakening that came when he was incarcerated for a drug-related offense.

Seth told me that, “The stigma of being an addict shouldn’t stop anyone from getting help. Taking responsibility for getting it is squarely in the lap of the addict him or herself. Until they really own the fact that despite the circumstances leading to their addiction, they are the ones who ultimately made the choice of devolving into their current station in life, they will remain in a state of not believing that help is available. They will continue to play the victim card because in the short run, it’s a lot easier to stay in that rut rather than to get help and clean up. But in the long run, the continuing spiral into de-evolution and death is all but inevitable. I know. I personally climbed out of that hell.”

View article on TheFix.com >

If you know someone struggling with substance abuse and mental health issues, know that help is available. Visit RecoverGateway.org for more information or call Gateway Alcohol & Drug Treatment Centers for a confidential consultation at 877-505-HOPE (4673).

July is Purposeful Parenting Month

 

teens-drugs-alcoholPurposeful parenting is being an active, engaged parent who strives to give their child the best life possible. Purposeful parenting is also about building strong, positive, functional families and recognizing the importance of meaningful relationships between parents and children.

This July, Gateway Alcohol & Drug Treatment Centers, aims to highlight some tips you can use to talk to your child about drug and alcohol use. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, starting the conversation isn’t always easy, but research suggests that the majority of teens – around 80% – feel parents should have a say in whether they drink alcohol.

A PARENT CHECKLIST FOR TALKING TO TEENS ABOUT DRUGS AND ALCOHOL

  • ENCOURAGE OPEN DIALOGUE

If you’ve been talking to your child openly throughout the years then you’ve formed a solid foundation for an open dialogue. However, as your child matures even the most communicative child can close up. It’s up to you to keep the lines of communication open and non-judgmental.

  • SET ASIDE ONE-ON-ONE BONDING TIME

Sometimes your child needs to be reminded despite the preoccupations of everyday life for the both of you – work, school, after-school functions, siblings and family obligations – he or she still matters and is being listened to. Try to get some one-on-one time with each of your children.

  • JUST LISTEN

When you talk with your child about drinking and drug use, listen and respect what they have to say. These are conversations you’ll want to have many times over the years and if they shut down initially, it may be more difficult to get them to open up later.

  • DISCUSS DRUGS AND ALCOHOL IN A WAY THAT REFLECTS THE IMPORTANCE OF THE TOPIC

A quick chat in between texts or on the drive to soccer practice may not be sufficient to signal the gravity and importance of drug abuse. We know it’s hard to find the right time to have a conversation with your children, but this is an important message to share.

  • SET CLEAR EXPECTATIONS

Make clear your expectations to your child – that drinking and using drugs is unacceptable. Let them know your expectations will be enforced.

For more information, download our Free Guide to Understanding Drug and Alcohol Abuse at www.RecoverGateway.org/Teens.

Dangers of Prescription Drug Abuse Highlighted During National Safety Month

What's this?

As part of National Safety Month in June, families are encouraged to learn about the dangers of prescription drug abuse—along with how these drugs are obtained.

“Prescription drug abuse often starts with a legal prescription, or from someone diverting pills from a friend or family member,” said Karen Wolownik Albert, Executive Director at Gateway Alcohol & Drug Treatment Centers. “National Safety Month is a great time to remind parents and families about the issue of addiction and how it may be prevented.”

Poisonings are the leading cause of preventable deaths among 25 to 64 year olds, largely from drug overdoses and prescription opioids, according to the National Safety Council.

“Because these drugs are prescribed by a doctor, many people falsely believe they’re risk free, but prescription drugs can be just as addictive and lethal as illicit drugs bought on the street,” Albert said. “Your brain and body sees no difference between a prescription opioid like hydrocodone and street-purchased heroin.”

Young people are particularly vulnerable when it comes to prescription drug abuse and addiction. Teens prefer prescription drugs as their drug of choice, second only to marijuana, according to the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy. Teen brains are not yet fully developed, and can be very sensitive to drugs and alcohol. Frequent use of drugs and alcohol may permanently alter or impair brain development.

Gateway offers these steps parents can take to reduce the risk of prescription drug abuse within their families:

  • Use medications only as prescribed or directed on the label.
  • Keep such medications in a secure and concealed location.
  • Don’t share prescriptions with a friend or family member.
  • Properly dispose of unwanted or expired prescriptions to keep them from falling into the wrong hands. Local pharmacies or the police may accept unwanted medications.
  • Monitor family members for any unusual behavior if they’re taking prescription drugs, especially young people who are more susceptible to risk taking and addiction.

Warning signs of prescription drug abuse include changes in health such as sleeping habits, energy level, hygiene, appearance or weight loss. Other signs might include changes in friends, personality or a loss of interest in school or other activities.

Gateway offers a free downloadable guide to prescription drug abuse at: RecoverGateway.org/RxDrugs

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.

 

Co-Occurring Disorders: The Chicken or the Egg?

Known as a dual diagnosis or co-occurring disorder, substance abuse and mental health issues frequently occur together. In fact, 80% of individuals with addiction issues have a co-occurring mental health issue according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

The question comes down to the chicken or the egg – which came first and which do we treat first? The mental health issue or the substance abuse issue? “The likelihood of succeeding in treatment is greatly enhanced when both are treated simultaneously. Integrated treatment approaches coordinate substance abuse and mental health interventions to treat the whole person,” said Sally Thoren, Executive Director of Gateway Alcohol & Drug Treatment in Chicago.

Desperate man

Individuals arriving at Gateway receive a comprehensive assessment and those who are found to have a mental health disorder may be admitted into our specialized dual diagnosis program. “We use a variety of clinically proved treatment methods to address co-occurring substance abuse and mental health problems at the same time, in the same program by the same treatment team,” said Thoren.

As each individual is unique, so should be their treatment plan. We work together with individuals to develop a customized treatment plan that capitalizes on methods that may have worked for them in the past. In addition, medication assisted treatment may be used if deemed appropriate for the individual.

If you know someone struggling with substance abuse and mental health issues, know that help is available. Visit RecoverGateway.org for more information.

CEU Webinar to Increase Understanding of the Relationship between Trauma and Addiction

In honor of Mental Health Awareness Month in May, Gateway Alcohol & Drug Treatment Centers will offer a free continuing education (CEU) webinar for healthcare professionals.

The webinar, “Dual Recovery fromTutor with class of students Trauma and Addiction,” will give participants the opportunity to earn one CEU and learn how to identify signs of trauma-infused personalities and how and when to intervene.

The Webinar presenter is Dr. John Fusco, Psy.D., M.Div., a Licensed Clinical Psychologist at Gateway Treatment Centers. Dr. Fusco trains and supervises psychology students to provide diagnostic testing, biofeedback and individual, group and family psychotherapy in an inpatient addictions program for adolescents and adults with mental health related issues.

“Past and current traumas have a ripple effect over decades in the lives of individuals,” Fusco said. “These traumas account for much if not most of a person’s difficulties in living, anxiety, depression as well as inefficient and ineffective coping strategies, including  the use of substances of addiction.”

The webinar will be offered on two occasions: Wednesday, May 18 from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. and Tuesday, May 24 from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. Participants can receive one CEU IAODAPCA, NAADAC, Illinois: LCPC, LPC, LCSW, LSW, Nursing, Psychologist.

Registration in advance is required at RecoverGateway.org/training and space is limited.

“The trauma infused personality is a syndrome of troubling thoughts, feelings and behaviors which go down to the marrow of a person’s psychological bones. It impacts almost everything about a person’s relationships, view of self and view of the world,” Fusco said.

Other areas to be discussed include coping mechanisms, stages of recovery and appropriate interventions for each stage.

To learn more about this training, visit  RecoverGateway.org/training.

Mental health and alcohol abuse: Is there a connection?

During the month of May, Gateway Alcohol & Drug Treatment Centers, Mental Health America and countless other organizations across the country are bringing awareness to mental health. Mental Health Awareness Month aims to fight the stigma associated with mental health issues as well as provide support to those who may be struggling.

While we support mental health awareness year round, this May, GatewayiStock_000059997060_Medium Alcohol & Drug Treatment Centers would like to highlight the strong correlation between mental health issues and alcohol abuse.

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSA), 80 percent of individuals with addiction issues have a co-occurring mental health issue. These can include depression, mood disorder, ADD, among others.  “In our experience the number of people with a dual diagnosis may be even higher,” says Jim Scarpace, Executive Director, Gateway Aurora.

Alcohol abuse and mental health issues go hand in hand because both are tied to similar centers of the brain. Alcohol temporarily energizes the center of the brain responsible for depression and anxiety, decreasing those symptoms for a person.

The effects of using alcohol to self-medicate are fleeting, leaving a person feeling substantially worse than prior to using. Still, many use this “band aid” approach because it helps them obtain some manner of immediate relief. However, when a person drinks to make them self feel better, they create a cycle that repeats, so both the alcohol abuse and mental health issue worsen.

Caught in the spiral, it is almost impossible to stop the cycle without help and support. To learn more visit RecoverGateway.org/MentalHealth

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