Gateway Director of Events Marty Cook and alum Nick Share Their Thoughts on Life After Recovery

b86459cf-e41a-418f-bea9-7d9bf643d6ed

Photo Credit: Jason Marck/WBEZ

For WBEZ’s final Voice of Chicagoland’s Opioid Crisis segment, host Jennifer White spoke to Gateway Foundation Director of Events Marty Cook and alum Nick about young people in recovery.

To listen to the segment, click here.

“I just imagine that the power, particularly for younger people, to walk into a room and they think their life is over because they’ll never have fun again, and when they walk into a room, they see there’s 50 other people their own age that look just like them, who are young and who are laughing and having fun, but share the same common disease of addiction but are overcoming it and living life.”

Marty Cook talks about the importance of young people in recovery being able to see that they can still have fun without the influence of drugs and alcohol.

 

“It’s hard to connect definitely in high school. It’s already hard being a teen, and drugs and alcohol gave me that connection.”

Nick speaks about the struggles he faced during his teens and what led him to ultimately starting drinking and using drugs.

 

“The work we’re doing at Gateway is to create an added layer of support for our alums. When they leave treatment they get connected to other people.”

Marty discusses the work he does for Gateway Foundation and the events he plans for the alumni program to make sure alums have a support system in place post treatment.

 

“Recovery is possible.”

While reflecting on success stories and the various alums he encounters at his alumni events, Marty speaks to the change he’s seen in those that have left treatment and stayed engaged in the alumni programs.

 

“I enjoy exactly what I do and I think I’m in the right place and where I need to be.”

If you or a loved one are considering Gateway as a treatment option, click here to learn more.

Dr. Britton and Gateway Alum Discuss the Opioid Crisis

Gateway Foundation President and CEO Dr. Thomas Britton and Gateway alum Nick spoke to Niala Boodhoo on Illinois Public Media’s The 21st show to discuss the current opioid crisis and Nick’s journey to recovery.

To listen to the podcast, click here.

“It destroyed everything.”

Nick’s addiction had severe consequences. It damaged his relationships with family and loved ones. He found himself in legal trouble, and struggling to maintain any sense of normalcy in his life.

 “If we were to snap back 10 years ago, 5 to 10 percent of the people that we supported had opiates as one of their primary drugs and in a lot of the facilities that we treat today it’s as high as 60 percent.”

Dr. Britton speaks to the increase in the amount of people seeking treatment for opiates as the opioid crisis  continues to grow exponentially.

“An estimated 27 million people that require treatment for substance use disorders and 66 million drank in a binge fashion in the last 30 days so there’s this massive problem with all substances. Opiates are one of the smaller as a whole out of that, however, the consequences are so much faster and more intense.”

Dr. Britton discusses the current substance use problems facing the country, including excessive alcohol consumption and binge drinking, which are often overlooked. Though alcohol use disorder affects more people than opioid use disorder, the consequences of opioids are felt much faster.

“[Addiction] is a brain disease; it is not an issue of moral failing or willpower.”

Dr. Britton speaks to the importance of treating addiction as a brain disease and ending the stigma around addiction.

“There is fun in sobriety.”

Nick discusses how becoming engaged in the Gateway Alumni program and attending the events helped him after completing treatment.

“I’ve been sober for two and a half years… I have a great job that has insurance and benefits and the whole works.. It’s a total turnaround from who I was to who I am today… I gave this thing a shot and I actually gave myself that chance.”

If you or someone you know would like to tell your Gateway recovery story, please contact us. We’d love to interview you and inspire others. 

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.’”

 

The Trump Administration’s Opioid Action Plan

valentino-funghi-276005-unsplashDuring the 2016 presidential election, then Republican nominee Donald Trump took a tough stance on the opioid crisis, declaring he would help solve the crisis if he were elected. President Trump often cited his personal connection to addiction as a major motivator, as his oldest brother passed away after a battle with alcohol use disorder.

The first step the Trump administration took was to declare the opioid crisis a national public health emergency last October. In 2017, Trump also donated his third quarter salary to the Department of Health and Human Services in an effort to combat the opioid crisis.

During a speech on Monday in New Hampshire, President Trump released his plan to combat the opioid crisis, which he called “The Crisis Next Door.” The plan is broken into the following three sections: enforcement and interdiction, education and prevention through a federal advertising campaign, and employment assistance for those battling addiction:

Enforcement & Interdiction

jack-finnigan-548212-unsplash.png

President Trump has mentioned numerous times a desire to implement the death penalty for drug traffickers when the Department of Justice (DOJ) deems it appropriate, which has stirred controversy. During today’s speech, Trump officially called for the use of the death penalty for high-level drug traffickers.

The DOJ is now leading a task force on major litigation against drug companies at the federal level. Trump called for these companies to be held responsible for their actions. The administration plans to cut the nationwide opioid prescriptions by one-third. Trump also stated federal funding will be invested in the development of non-addictive painkillers. In addition, within two years at least half of all federally employed healthcare providers will adopt best practices for opioid prescribing, and within five years all federally employed healthcare providers will do so in order to prevent over prescribing.

Trump also emphasized supplying emergency responders and law enforcement with the overdose-reversing medication Narcan. Some cities, including Chicago, have already put forth this policy.

Education & Prevention

children-403582_1280A major initiative will be a federal advertising campaign targeting young adults and children. The administration plans to spend money on commercials that depict the devastating effects of drugs to scare children away from ever using them.

During his speech, Trump highlighted Adapt Pharma and its work with colleges and high schools. Adapt provided colleges and universities across the country with four boxes and high schools with two boxes of Narcan in an effort to reduce student overdose deaths. Adapt has also provided education on Narcan to school staff.

Employment

chuttersnap-461239-unsplash

Another focal point is helping inmates with substance use disorders get the treatment they need and, further, helping them secure employment after they are released. Trump referenced the country’s low unemployment rate and strong economy as being beneficial to helping inmates get hired.

Additional Takeaways:

Although no financial plans were discussed during the speech, in his latest budget proposal released in February, Trump called for an allocation of nearly $17 billion in 2019 to fight the opioid epidemic. The money from the budget will mainly go to expanding coverage of Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) and helping states monitor and track clinics that prescribe a large amount of opioids, which many public health officials deem necessary to resolving the crisis. Trump reiterated in his speech that the administration will dedicate resources to ensure the accessibility and affordability of medication-assisted treatments.

The administration will also waive a Medicaid rule that prevents treatment facilities with more than 16 beds from receiving reimbursements for addiction services. This initiative could prove instrumental for low-income individuals seeking treatment.

Shortly after the president’s speech, Congress released plans to introduce multiple bills to help end the opioid crisis. One of the bills is the Preventing Overdoses While in Emergency Rooms (POWER) act. This bipartisan bill aims to set up protocols for emergency rooms across the United States on best practices for discharging overdose patients, to ensure patients have the resources they need to succeed post-hospitalization. Measures of this act would ensure patients’ access to overdose-reversal medication and other medication-assisted treatments, as well as peer-support specialists and other types of treatment programs.

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.

Pekin Event Aims to Educate Public About Addiction

A mother who lost her son to a heroin overdose last year has gone lengths to increase awareness about the dangers of addiction. She has organized the first annual Fight the Fight Addiction Awareness Walk which takes place August 7 from 2-4 p.m. at the Mineral Springs Park lagoon. She shares her story with Pekin Daily Times.

Pekin Daily Times Reports:

A person is injured, they are prescribed opioid painkillers and they become addicted. Unable to obtain the pills, they turn to heroin, on which they overdose and die, leaving a grieving family to question how it all could have happened.

This story has been told too often, which is why one mother is doing something to stop it.

Wendy McCready, who lost her son Alan Vaughn to a heroinheroin overdose last year, has taken strides to help educate others of the dangers of addiction and what it could possibly lead to. She has organized the Fight the Fight Addiction Awareness Walk in an effort to do so, which takes place from 2-4 p.m. Sunday at the Mineral Springs Park lagoon.

Throughout the afternoon, eight community members and experts will speak about the signs, effects and consequences of heroin addiction, McCready said.

“A lot of people aren’t educated on addiction, just like I wasn’t before my son became an addict,” she said. “I certainly didn’t know he was about to die from it.”

Alan Vaughn’s fatal battle began eight years ago, when he was prescribed opioid painkillers for his back pain. This lead to an addiction and physical dependence on opiates, which eventually landed him in the firm grasp of the cheaper and more easily obtainable heroin. This was something his mother, who described Vaughn as having the biggest heart of anyone she had met, said she would have never seen coming.

“If you think it could never be your child, then you really need to stop thinking like that,” she said. “… We raised our kids right, taught them morals and right from wrong, but addiction doesn’t discriminate. It doesn’t matter where you live or what color you are, everybody is at risk and needs to be educated.

Pekin Police Public Information Officer Mike Eeten — who will speak Sunday — echoed this sentiment, citing opiates’ physically addictive characteristics as a cause.

“When we think of addicts, often we think of a guy living in a tent down by the river or something,” he said. “But with heroin, it’s people that you wouldn’t ever think of as a drug user, or even a drug dealer. We see kids that come from great families that get addicted to heroin.”

McCready believes that if people better understand how to respond then lives will be saved.

“Parents need to know that they need to be ready when their child or loved one is ready,” she said. “Addicts need to get help right when they want it because if they wait just one more day, then they might not want the help anymore”

After the speakers, those in attendance will walk once around the Lagoon in solidarity and support. McCready encourages those taking part to bring signs covered with the pictures of lost loved ones, or displaying messages to the tune of “I hate heroin.”

Eeten, who has investigated several overdoses firsthand, said even those that haven’t been effected directly should consider attending the walk.

“It is never an easy thing to see a young life cut short because of addiction,” he said. “In order to put up a good fight against this, we need the whole community to buy in.”

Eeten said a major step for everyone is the better monitoring of when and how opioid painkillers are being used and where extras are ending up.

Once the lap around the Lagoon is complete, a short “fight song” will be performed, while walkers receive balloons for a balloon release around the lagoon.

Throughout the evening, several local rehab clinics and medical experts will have tables available for added information.

Once such table will aim to promote Narcan, a drug used in emergency situations to treat overdoses of both synthetic and natural opiate overdoses. Those that visit the table will receive training on how to use the drug, as well as a kit to have in their own home in case of emergency.

Immediately following the walk and balloon release, Gateway Pekin will be holding an open house at its Pekin treatment center. Experts and counselors will be on hand to answer any questions regarding drug and alcohol abuse. Light refreshments will be served and attendance at the walk is not mandatory to attend the open house.

McCready hopes that the two events will save other parents the heartache she has gone through.

“My son was one of my best friends,” she said. “… My goal is to keep any other parent from having to bury their own child.”

Are you concerned a loved one may be addicted to opioids? Learn more about prescription drug abuse online at RecoverGateway.org or call 877-505-HOPE (4673) for a confidential consultation.

Heroin Epidemic Continues. Gateway Provides Valuable Information

 

The untimely death of Oscar-winning actor Philip Seymour Hoffman at age 46, as well as similar tragedies in your own community has heightened concern about heroin. Yet, Gateway Treatment Centers want to ensure you know there is a co-star in these heartbreaking stories: Driven by the powerful effects on the human brain of drugs derived from morphine, the crossing of these two drug epidemics is creating an “opioid-vortex” across the U.S. Consider these related trends:

  • prescription drugsAmericans consume 80% of opiate prescriptions produced in the world, according to the American Society of Interventional Pain Physicians.
  • Each day, about 45 deaths are recorded from prescription drug overdose in the U.S.

Consequently, Gateway Treatment Centers have responded by ensuring the highest quality treatment for opioid and heroin addiction to support lasting recovery, including:

To learn more about opioid and heroin trends visit RecoverGateway.org/Heroin.

%d bloggers like this: