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Pride Month Special: Alcoholism in the LGBTQ+ Community

1 day 11 hours ago
When you think of the LGBTQ+ community, what's the first image that comes to mind? Was it an image or a Pride parade or a nightclub? Since we've been a visible community, we've been associated with drugs and alcohol. The namesake of the Stonewall riots, which launched the modern gay rights movement, is a bar in the Greenwich neighborhood of Manhattan. We are associated with the nightlife, and many of us also have a problem with substances. It's a topic that's not often discussed but needs to be brought into the open.Statistics on the LGBTQ Community and AlcoholAlthough society is far more accepting of gays and lesbians than during the preceding decades, it's not that way for everyone. People who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or questioning often face social stigma, discrimination, harassment and violence not encountered by people who identify as heterosexual. There's also still shame and guilt associated with sexual orientation. Drugs and alcohol provide an easy way to cope with—and forget about— the negative feelings some have about who they are. As a result, LGBTQ people are at increased risk for various behavioral health issues, including substance use disorder (SUD).Data from the 2018 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) suggests people who identify as gay or lesbian are twice as likely as heterosexuals to suffer from alcohol addiction. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, gay, lesbian, and bisexual adolescents are 90 percent more likely to use alcohol and drugs than their heterosexual counterparts. The NSDUH also found that LGBTQ adults are more likely to engage in casual, binge and heavy alcohol use than their heterosexual counterparts.In addition to LGBTQ adults, youth community members are also at a significantly higher risk than their straight peers. Almost forty-five percent of LGBTQ individuals between the ages of 18 and 28 reported binge drinking at least once in the past month. Another 10.2 percent engage in heavy alcohol use, defined as binge drinking at least five times in the past month.Although alcohol addiction in the LGBTQ community has gained more awareness in recent years, it's still greatly under-treated.Mental Health and the LGBTQ communityLooking at the data on mental health among LGBTQ-identified people in the U.S., the raw numbers are just staggering.According to a 2020 study by The Trevor Project, 40 percent of LGBTQ youths considered suicide in the last year, and the number jumps to more than 50 percent for trans and nonbinary young people. According to SAGE, the largest and oldest nonprofit dedicated to improving the lives of older LGBTQ adults, 53 percent of older adult LGBTQ people feel isolated and are twice as likely to live alone.The COVID-19 pandemic poured gasoline on an already raging fire. Diseases of despair were at already-high levels in terms of addiction, depression, trauma, anxiety, isolation, and loneliness, but the pandemic only heightened preexisting mental health challenges.My colleague and AspenRidge Recovery's Executive Clinical Director Dianna Sandoval spoke with NBC News earlier this year to discuss the impact of the pandemic on the LGBTQ community."We're already seeing higher levels of mental health challenges in the LGBT community being compounded with isolation," Sandoval said. "Because it's so difficult for folks to connect even to the small communities they've built for themselves, due to social distancing, there's an even greater distance between people in the LGBT community. Some people just don't feel that same sense of connection over Zoom."Now, as vaccination rates climb and businesses reopen at full capacity, there's reason to hope the stresses may be reduced. Still, the fact remains that addiction and mental health are underdiagnosed and treated.And let's be honest—alcohol and drugs can be fun. Night Circuit parties (think raves) are also nothing but dancing, drinks and drugs. Alcohol is an ingrained part of the gay community as well as the larger American culture. It's well known that some people use alcohol and drugs as an escape from reality. When your existence consists of disapproving parents or societal shaming, an escape seems deserved and warranted. But using substances as coping mechanisms is never healthy and can lead down the path to addiction.If you or someone you know struggles with substance abuse, call AspenRidge Recovery at 855.281.5588 today or visit AspenRidgeRecovery.com. One of our client advocates will help you find the best treatment option for your situation, even if it isn't with us. We're experienced in treating members of the LGBTQ community and accept most insurance. We also have virtual outpatient programs accessible in multiple states. To learn more, visit ReachOnlineRecovery.com
Steve Sarin

About Natalie: A Daughter's Addiction, A Mother's Love

2 days 13 hours ago
The phone rings. I check the caller ID and realize it is rehab. Natalie has been there for three weeks. My heart skips a beat. I answer.“Mommy?” It is Natalie’s voice. She sounds like she is ten years old. She sounds eager but not desperate, and because of the number, I at least know where she is. In the milliseconds in between the time when I first hear her voice and I greet her back, my mind races with a thousand horrible scenarios that explain this phone call. She is usually permitted to call only at six o’clock on Tuesday and Thursday. It is a Monday afternoon.“What’s wrong, baby?” I ask, wondering if this is a poor choice of words. I have been told, by my children, that it is slightly insulting that this is always my first question, that I assume something must be wrong.“Nothing,” she tells me. This is always how my kids first respond to my initial question whether this is fact or not.“It’s good to hear your voice,” I tell her.“Thanks,” she chirps. “Mommy (I love when she calls me this; she sounds youthful and sweet), I don’t have a lot of time. I’m in my therapy. But I wanted you to do me a favor.”I realize then that the counselor is listening in on the line as well. No worries. I really don’t mind. “Anything,” I tell her and visualize the therapist jotting down the words “supportive mother” on Natalie’s chart and adding a few points to my score.“Could you go up into my room?”“Sure,” I tell her and move from the kitchen toward her bedroom. To fill the time while I am hurrying up the stairs, I ask, “How are you?” even though I’m not sure if small talk is encouraged or permitted during such an obviously purposeful call.“Good,” she tells me, her voice sounding a little weak and thin.“I’m proud of you!” I tell her (more points), a little out of breath. I am out of shape and shouldn’t be. It is only a few steps.“I’m in your room. What do you need?” I cleaned the room from top to bottom while Natalie was gone and had tried to make it warm and welcoming, adding some “mom” touches: a new heart-shaped pillow, a new bulb for the lava lamp, and a “welcome back” sticky note on the mirror. I am pleased with how it looks.“There’s shit in my room,” Natalie tells me through the phone. “Censor yourself; language,” I hear the therapist instruct.“There’s stuff in my room,” Natalie amends. “And I need you to get it out so that it’s not there when I get home.”“Oh, okay,” I say, wanting to cooperate but thinking this is unnecessary.Unfortunately, but not unexpectedly, I had found plenty of “stuff ” in Natalie’s room. Some in plain sight, other stuff hidden. I found and stepped on syringes on the floor. There were pills strewn all over the bottom of the closet and empty stamp bags, spoons, and lighters everywhere—out in the open as well as hidden behind her bed and in her pillowcase. And then there were more of all of the above secretly stashed in purses, backpacks, books, pillows, stuffed animals, and jewelry boxes.“I’ve cleaned pretty well in here, honey,” I tell her. “And I did find some things (an understatement). So, we might be okay.”“We’re not, and you didn’t find it all,” she tells me flatly. “Okay,” I agree, noting that now she sounds older and worn.“I need you to go to the air vent,” she tells me. “Crouch down and pull the metal part off.”“Daddy…” I am about to tell her that Peter and I had checked in there, but I let my voice trail off and don’t finish. Peter had seen on a movie or read somewhere that this was a common place for addicts to hide drugs so we, being “on it” parents, had already looked there. But we hadn’t found anything.Natalie tells me to stretch my arm deeper into the vent, “around the corner and reach,” and I pull out a bag full of syringes and pills.Next, she instructs me to take off Miss Lizzy’s head. Nooo! Not Miss Lizzy! I whine in my head, devastated that Miss Lizzy is involved in all this horribleness. She has always been so innocent. Enough pills to medicate an elephant fall from Miss Lizzy’s pretty blond, smiling head.I need to run back down to the kitchen to retrieve a screwdriver to take off the light switch cover in order to get the stamp bags of heroin out of the crevasses between the wires.“I am proud of you, honey,” I say when Natalie tells me this is all of it.“Natalie, are you sure that’s all of it?” the therapist asks, breaking into the conversation.“It is,” Natalie tells her. The way she says it, I believe her.The therapist announces that the allotted time for this phone call is up. We exchange quick “I love yous,” and the line goes dead.I am sure I have done a poor job of hiding my devastation and the fact that I have aged ten years since we began this phone call ten minutes earlier. I visualize the therapist deducting all of my previously given bonus points and marking “exhausted” and “running out of steam” in the chart. I’m not sure I care anymore. Not at the moment anyway. I think I couldn’t love Natalie more. Which is true and will always continue to be. But I am tired. Exhausted, actually, so I lie down on the bed to rest.Miss Lizzy is in my arms; she and I go way back. I lie there for a few moments, wondering how in the world we ended up in this horrible, godforsaken place. I realize that no matter how long I lie there, I am not going to get any less tired, so I begin to get up.But just before I do, still on my back, I catch a glimpse of something above me in the overhead light fixture. I squint to see what it is but cannot tell for sure. I get up and pull the desk chair to the middle of the room beneath the light. I carefully unscrew the center anchor screw and pull down the glass shield covering the bulbs. When I do, a flurry of stamp packets fall on top of my head.This excerpt is from Christine Pisera Naman’s new book, About Natalie: A Daughter's Addiction. A Mother's Love. Finding Their Way Back to Each Other. Reprinted with permission from Health Communications, Inc. Available at Amazon and elsewhere.
Christine Pisera Naman

Substance Use, Addiction, and Recovery in the LGBTQ Community

3 days 23 hours ago
There are many dates that stick right in the mind, for one reason or another. For the LGBTQ+ community in the U.S., and, indeed, across the world, one of those dates would certainly be the anniversary of the “Stonewall Uprising,” a New York City riot resulting from the truncheon-happy local police raiding one of the city’s gay bars, way back on June 28th, 1969 - and the origin of the Pride movement.This historic date is the reason we celebrate Pride Month every year during the month of June.Matthew Shepard (December 1st, 1976 - October 12th, 1998)There’s another date, too - October, 12th, 1998 - a tragic, yet pivotal date, which involved the violent gay-hate murder of 21-year-old Matthew Shepard, a Wyoming student, by other young college students, which led to a national backlash over how the LGBTQ+ community were being treated at that time, and even legislated for.It is still regarded as one of the U.S.’s most famous gay-hate murders.In fact, it was only after lengthy, cross-party wrangling in the U.S. congress over 10 years later that President Obama was finally able to sign the Matthew Shepard Act (2009), a law which defined certain attacks motivated by victim identity as hate crimes.No such law existed prior to this Act. The men who dealt out the horrific beating (and it was horrific - Matthew was tied to a fence-post, and pistol-whipped so hard it crushed his brain stem) that led to the young gay man’s death were convicted of first-degree murder, and rightly each given a life sentence.However, they were not charged with a hate crime, as, in 1998 Wyoming, no such law actually existed, regardless of how obvious the link had been in countless, previous gay-hate murders.Fortunately, some things have changed. However, sadly, some other things have remained exactly the same.Did you know that young gay and transgender individuals, despite tremendous progress in the past couple of decades, are still twice as likely to suffer with a mental health disorder or a drug addiction or both as their hetrosexual peers?In this article, we’ll look at why the LGBTQ+ community is at an increased risk of both mental health and substance use issues, the U.S. statistics that support this, the important questions you need to ask when finding professional and affirming treatment for your LGBTQ+ child, and what resources are available to support them in their recovery from substance addiction.It’s 2021, but in many ways, society still has a lot of work to do to make itself as inclusive as it purports to be.The LGBTQ+ Community and Increased Substance Abuse RiskAs the LGBTQ+ community and its allies celebrate Pride Month 2021, this year with a mix of in-person and virtual events to avidly raise awareness about the issues of being LGBTQ+ in today’s America and beyond, the fact remains that those who identify in this way have always been far more at risk of a mental health disorder, a substance use disorder (SUD), or a combination of both, known as “co-occurring disorder” or “dual diagnosis,” and, even now in 2021, they continue to be.In this respect, nothing’s changed.Using data from the annual National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), an October 2016 report by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) was actually the first to identify the extent of substance abuse and addiction among LGBTQ+ people.The latest SAMHSA: LGBTQ+ report, published in 2020 and based on data from the 2019 NSDUH survey, has similar findings, namely:Adults who identify as lesbian, gay or bisexual (LGB) have higher rates of substance use and mental health illness than heterosexual adultsSerious mental illness among the LGB population - ages 18-25 and 26-49 - has significantly increased compared to 2016Major depressive episodes with severe impairment among all LGB men and women, aged 18-25, has significantly increased compared to previous yearsSubstance use disorder (SUD) significantly increased the probability of suicide among those within the LGB population aged 18 and olderThe transgender community experienced an even higher risk of substance use than the rest of LGBTQ+ community“One of the biggest things I struggle with… is accepting myself, honestly. This society does not cater to me or to people like me, so I’m always in a constant battle of validating my own identity while having society tell me to throw it away.”- Alora Lemalu, LGBTQ+ activist and artist, from Springfield, MissouriWhy Is the Substance Use Risk in the LGBTQ+ Community Significantly Higher?The primary reason for this increased risk is “Minority Stress Theory.” This states that, as one of society’s minorities, there are intrinsic yet inescapable elements simply by being the member of a minority, such as greater discrimination and more stigma.“When you are a person who is under chronic stress, that chronic stress results in negative health outcomes. The mind and body may react in multiple ways, and substance abuse is one of those ways.”- Jeremy Goldbach, PhD, LMSW, professor, School of Social Work, University of Southern CaliforniaAdditionally, LGBTQ+ youth face fundamental and unique issues, such as:HomophobiaHarassment (both physical and mental, in-person and online)Lack of family supportFamily ejectionHomelessnessMany of these young people, unsurprisingly, will use and abuse substances just like their peers do, in an attempt to deal with this hostility. Furthermore, common meeting places for the LGBT community tend to be bars and clubs - environments where it is far easier to access substances like alcohol and illicit drugs.U.S. LGBTQ+ Community and Mental Health: Facts and StatisticsIn terms of their mental health, for LGBTQ+ people, the story remains the same. For LGBTQ+ youth, the increased risk of mental health disorders mirrors their increased risk of substance use and addiction. Additionally, these young people are more likely to engage in “polydrug use” - mixing substances to magnify the resulting high and other effects.In doing so, these youth are also magnifying their risk of a fatal drug overdose.The most recent survey regarding mental health within the LGBTQ+ community was undertaken by The Trevor Project, with their “2021 National Survey on LGBTQ Youth Mental Health.” The Trevor Project is the world’s largest suicide prevention and crisis intervention organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer & questioning (LGBTQ) young people, and the survey they conducted represents the experiences of nearly 35,000 LGBTQ youth (aged 13-24) across the U.S.Following their detailed analysis of the collected data, their expansive report on LGBTQ youth mental health emphasizes the need for greater investment in mental health care and new policy solutions to deal with LGBTQ suicide. The survey’s various findings include:42% of LGBTQ youth, including more than half of transgender and nonbinary youth, seriously considered attempting suicide in the past year; however, nearly half of these could not access the mental health care they neededAn overwhelming majority of LGBTQ youth also reported recent symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder or major depressive disorderMore than 80% of LGBTQ youth stated that the COVID-19 pandemic had made their living situation more stressful70% stated that their mental health was “poor” either “most of the time” or “always” during the pandemicNearly 40% of LGBTQ youth who had a job reported that they lost it during the pandemic30% of LGBTQ youth reported having trouble affording enough food in the past month, including half of all Native/Indigenous LGBTQ youth, and more than 1 in 3 Black and Latinx LGBTQ youth75% of LGBTQ youth reported that they had experienced discrimination based on their sexual orientation or gender identity at least once in their lifetime, and more than half said they experienced this discrimination in the past yearThe survey also discovered the immensely negative impact of LGBTQ youth being forced to undertake controversial “conversion therapy”:Those who were subjected to conversion therapy reported more than twice the rate of attempting suicide in the past year compared to those who were not13% of LGBTQ youth reported being subjected to conversion therapy, including 21% of Native/Indigenous LGBTQ youth and 14% of Latinx LGBTQ youthTransgender and nonbinary youth reported being subjected to conversion therapy at twice the rate of cisgender LGBQ youth (cisgender is defined as a sense of personal identity and gender that corresponds with an individual’s birth sex)LGBTQ youth who reported being subjected to conversion therapy were, on average, only 15 years old at the time, with 83% reporting that it occurred when they were younger than 18“Conversion therapy” (also known as "reparative therapy" or "gay cure therapy") is an attempt to change someone's sexual orientation or gender identity. Many U.S. states and other countries, such as Canada, Germany and Mexico, have banned (or are currently in the process of banning) the so-called “therapy,” due to its hugely negative impacts, eg. suicide, depression, and anxiety.“The past year has been incredibly difficult for so many LGBTQ young people because of multiple crises, from the COVID-19 pandemic to the hostile political climate and repeated acts of racist and transphobic violence… LGBTQ youth face unique mental health challenges and continue to experience disparities in access to affirming care, family rejection, and discrimination.”- Amit Paley, CEO & Executive Director, The Trevor ProjectLGBTQ+ Teenage Addiction Treatment: 9 Important QuestionsWhen your child is suffering with a substance use disorder, or a co-occurring disorder, it can make your child and you extremely stressed, and even fearful. The natural temptation would be to grab the first offer of help that comes along. Please, don’t do that. It’s vital you take the time to ask the right kind of questions first.It’s important for you, as their parent or guardian, to understand that not all addiction treatment programs are the same. Unfortunately, LGBTQ patients, and especially transgender patients, have high than average rates of walking out of their treatment, and causes for this can range from a lack of support, therapists who don’t understand, inadequate facilities, disrespectful staff, to unresolved bullying by other patients.So before you sign on the dotted line of the first addiction treatment patient form place in front of you, ensure you ask these important questions of the addiction treatment facility:Do you have any LGBTQ-identified clinicians, counselors, or other support staff?Discussing personal issues and experiences with a counselor can be difficult for most people. However, these discussions are critical in successful addiction recovery. Obviously, a counselor who has experienced similar attitudes and issues will be able to earn the trust of their LGBTQ+ patient far quicker. Be sure to find out if rehab staff are LGBTQ+ themselves, or at least have stated they’re happy to work with members of the community.What LGBTQ certifications / training does your staff have to treat my child’s needs?LGBTQ+-related certifications and training are no guarantee of a perfect program of treatment, but it shows these staff are knowledgeable about identity and gender experience.How will your program make my child feel welcome and included?It’s vital that your child feels welcome, safe and content within an addiction treatment setting. Additionally, it is important that confidentiality is given a high priority, especially with information about sexual orientation or gender identity.Does your program offer specialized groups for LGBTQ people?Research has consistently highlighted that addiction treatment programs with groups specifically for LGBTQ+ patients have far better outcomes and success rates. Effective therapies for LGBTQ+ individuals include motivational interviewing, social support therapy, contingency management, and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). Ask if these are available as standard within the program.How does the treatment program address trauma, self-harm, depression or other mental health issues?It is well known that many LGBTQ people who enter addiction treatment suffer with a co-occurring disorder, meaning they have also been diagnosed with a mental health disorder. If this type of disorder applies to your child, make sure that any treatment program you are considering offers co-occurring treatment, and will treat both conditions simultaneously.How will you address the special needs my child has due to their identity?Asking questions about the LGBTQ-specific needs of your child is to ensure as best as you can that they have the best possible chance of success in their recovery. Is the vocabulary prospective counselors are using respectful, up-to-date and informed?Furthermore, will hormonal therapy be adequately managed if your trans child is in residential treatment? How does the treatment facility address HIV, STDs, hepatitis and other health issues if they need to? Obviously, stay away from any programs offering “Conversion Therapy.”What has the provider’s experience been with treating LGBTQ people like my child?Treatment providers should be able to tell you about how they have served your child’s population previously. For example, you can ask how the recovery program has helped other LGBTQ patients in the past. Did those patients complete the program? How successful were those programs?What are the bathroom and sleeping arrangements?If your child is transgender, ask if the treatment facility has co-ed bathrooms, showers and sleeping areas. Will they share a room with people who share their gender expression? Asking for a private room and bathroom can be an option, where possible.How familiar is the program with LGBTQ resources in your community for your child’s continuing care plan?On completion of the program, your child may move to a lower level of care. Understanding your child’s needs from this point on is important. Be confident that any “Relapse Prevention Plan” provided by the treatment facility addresses all of your child’s needs from this point onwards.LGBTQ+ Addiction Recovery Support & ResourcesThe LGBTQ community has many addiction recovery support organizations, programs and groups that can access to help your child, other family members and yourself, such as:PFLAGFamily Acceptance ProjectChild Welfare Information GatewayNational Network of LGBTQ Family GroupsNALGAP: National Association of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Addiction Professionals and Their AlliesAlcoholics Anonymous (special meetings for LGBTQ+ people)
Robert Castan

Substance Use, Addiction, and Recovery in the LGBTQ Community

4 days 14 hours ago
There are many dates that stick right in the mind, for one reason or another. For the LGBTQ+ community in the U.S., and, indeed, across the world, one of those dates would certainly be the anniversary of the “Stonewall Uprising,” a New York City riot resulting from the truncheon-happy local police raiding one of the city’s gay bars, way back on June 28th, 1969 - and the origin of the Pride movement.This historic date is the reason we celebrate Pride Month every year during the month of June.Matthew Shepard (December 1st, 1976 - October 12th, 1998)There’s another date, too - October, 12th, 1998 - a tragic, yet pivotal date, which involved the violent gay-hate murder of 21-year-old Matthew Shepard, a Wyoming student, by other young college students, which led to a national backlash over how the LGBTQ+ community were being treated at that time, and even legislated for.It is still regarded as one of the U.S.’s most famous gay-hate murders.In fact, it was only after lengthy, cross-party wrangling in the U.S. congress over 10 years later that President Obama was finally able to sign the Matthew Shepard Act (2009), a law which defined certain attacks motivated by victim identity as hate crimes.No such law existed prior to this Act. The men who dealt out the horrific beating (and it was horrific - Matthew was tied to a fence-post, and pistol-whipped so hard it crushed his brain stem) that led to the young gay man’s death were convicted of first-degree murder, and rightly each given a life sentence.However, they were not charged with a hate crime, as, in 1998 Wyoming, no such law actually existed, regardless of how obvious the link had been in countless, previous gay-hate murders.Fortunately, some things have changed. However, sadly, some other things have remained exactly the same.Did you know that young gay and transgender individuals, despite tremendous progress in the past couple of decades, are still twice as likely to suffer with a mental health disorder or a drug addiction or both as their hetrosexual peers?In this article, we’ll look at why the LGBTQ+ community is at an increased risk of both mental health and substance use issues, the U.S. statistics that support this, the important questions you need to ask when finding professional and affirming treatment for your LGBTQ+ child, and what resources are available to support them in their recovery from substance addiction.It’s 2021, but in many ways, society still has a lot of work to do to make itself as inclusive as it purports to be.The LGBTQ+ Community and Increased Substance Abuse RiskAs the LGBTQ+ community and its allies celebrate Pride Month 2021, this year with a mix of in-person and virtual events to avidly raise awareness about the issues of being LGBTQ+ in today’s America and beyond, the fact remains that those who identify in this way have always been far more at risk of a mental health disorder, a substance use disorder (SUD), or a combination of both, known as “co-occurring disorder” or “dual diagnosis,” and, even now in 2021, they continue to be.In this respect, nothing’s changed.Using data from the annual National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), an October 2016 report by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) was actually the first to identify the extent of substance abuse and addiction among LGBTQ+ people.The latest SAMHSA: LGBTQ+ report, published in 2020 and based on data from the 2019 NSDUH survey, has similar findings, namely:Adults who identify as lesbian, gay or bisexual (LGB) have higher rates of substance use and mental health illness than heterosexual adultsSerious mental illness among the LGB population - ages 18-25 and 26-49 - has significantly increased compared to 2016Major depressive episodes with severe impairment among all LGB men and women, aged 18-25, has significantly increased compared to previous yearsSubstance use disorder (SUD) significantly increased the probability of suicide among those within the LGB population aged 18 and olderThe transgender community experienced an even higher risk of substance use than the rest of LGBTQ+ community“One of the biggest things I struggle with… is accepting myself, honestly. This society does not cater to me or to people like me, so I’m always in a constant battle of validating my own identity while having society tell me to throw it away.”- Alora Lemalu, LGBTQ+ activist and artist, from Springfield, MissouriWhy Is the Substance Use Risk in the LGBTQ+ Community Significantly Higher?The primary reason for this increased risk is “Minority Stress Theory.” This states that, as one of society’s minorities, there are intrinsic yet inescapable elements simply by being the member of a minority, such as greater discrimination and more stigma.“When you are a person who is under chronic stress, that chronic stress results in negative health outcomes. The mind and body may react in multiple ways, and substance abuse is one of those ways.”- Jeremy Goldbach, PhD, LMSW, professor, School of Social Work, University of Southern CaliforniaAdditionally, LGBTQ+ youth face fundamental and unique issues, such as:HomophobiaHarassment (both physical and mental, in-person and online)Lack of family supportFamily ejectionHomelessnessMany of these young people, unsurprisingly, will use and abuse substances just like their peers do, in an attempt to deal with this hostility. Furthermore, common meeting places for the LGBT community tend to be bars and clubs - environments where it is far easier to access substances like alcohol and illicit drugs.U.S. LGBTQ+ Community and Mental Health: Facts and StatisticsIn terms of their mental health, for LGBTQ+ people, the story remains the same. For LGBTQ+ youth, the increased risk of mental health disorders mirrors their increased risk of substance use and addiction. Additionally, these young people are more likely to engage in “polydrug use” - mixing substances to magnify the resulting high and other effects.In doing so, these youth are also magnifying their risk of a fatal drug overdose.The most recent survey regarding mental health within the LGBTQ+ community was undertaken by The Trevor Project, with their “2021 National Survey on LGBTQ Youth Mental Health.” The Trevor Project is the world’s largest suicide prevention and crisis intervention organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer & questioning (LGBTQ) young people, and the survey they conducted represents the experiences of nearly 35,000 LGBTQ youth (aged 13-24) across the U.S.Following their detailed analysis of the collected data, their expansive report on LGBTQ youth mental health emphasizes the need for greater investment in mental health care and new policy solutions to deal with LGBTQ suicide. The survey’s various findings include:42% of LGBTQ youth, including more than half of transgender and nonbinary youth, seriously considered attempting suicide in the past year; however, nearly half of these could not access the mental health care they neededAn overwhelming majority of LGBTQ youth also reported recent symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder or major depressive disorderMore than 80% of LGBTQ youth stated that the COVID-19 pandemic had made their living situation more stressful70% stated that their mental health was “poor” either “most of the time” or “always” during the pandemicNearly 40% of LGBTQ youth who had a job reported that they lost it during the pandemic30% of LGBTQ youth reported having trouble affording enough food in the past month, including half of all Native/Indigenous LGBTQ youth, and more than 1 in 3 Black and Latinx LGBTQ youth75% of LGBTQ youth reported that they had experienced discrimination based on their sexual orientation or gender identity at least once in their lifetime, and more than half said they experienced this discrimination in the past yearThe survey also discovered the immensely negative impact of LGBTQ youth being forced to undertake controversial “conversion therapy”:Those who were subjected to conversion therapy reported more than twice the rate of attempting suicide in the past year compared to those who were not13% of LGBTQ youth reported being subjected to conversion therapy, including 21% of Native/Indigenous LGBTQ youth and 14% of Latinx LGBTQ youthTransgender and nonbinary youth reported being subjected to conversion therapy at twice the rate of cisgender LGBQ youth (cisgender is defined as a sense of personal identity and gender that corresponds with an individual’s birth sex)LGBTQ youth who reported being subjected to conversion therapy were, on average, only 15 years old at the time, with 83% reporting that it occurred when they were younger than 18“Conversion therapy” (also known as "reparative therapy" or "gay cure therapy") is an attempt to change someone's sexual orientation or gender identity. Many U.S. states and other countries, such as Canada, Germany and Mexico, have banned (or are currently in the process of banning) the so-called “therapy,” due to its hugely negative impacts, eg. suicide, depression, and anxiety.“The past year has been incredibly difficult for so many LGBTQ young people because of multiple crises, from the COVID-19 pandemic to the hostile political climate and repeated acts of racist and transphobic violence… LGBTQ youth face unique mental health challenges and continue to experience disparities in access to affirming care, family rejection, and discrimination.”- Amit Paley, CEO & Executive Director, The Trevor ProjectLGBTQ+ Teenage Addiction Treatment: 9 Important QuestionsWhen your child is suffering with a substance use disorder, or a co-occurring disorder, it can make your child and you extremely stressed, and even fearful. The natural temptation would be to grab the first offer of help that comes along. Please, don’t do that. It’s vital you take the time to ask the right kind of questions first.It’s important for you, as their parent or guardian, to understand that not all addiction treatment programs are the same. Unfortunately, LGBTQ patients, and especially transgender patients, have high than average rates of walking out of their treatment, and causes for this can range from a lack of support, therapists who don’t understand, inadequate facilities, disrespectful staff, to unresolved bullying by other patients.So before you sign on the dotted line of the first addiction treatment patient form place in front of you, ensure you ask these important questions of the addiction treatment facility:Do you have any LGBTQ-identified clinicians, counselors, or other support staff?Discussing personal issues and experiences with a counselor can be difficult for most people. However, these discussions are critical in successful addiction recovery. Obviously, a counselor who has experienced similar attitudes and issues will be able to earn the trust of their LGBTQ+ patient far quicker. Be sure to find out if rehab staff are LGBTQ+ themselves, or at least have stated they’re happy to work with members of the community.What LGBTQ certifications / training does your staff have to treat my child’s needs?LGBTQ+-related certifications and training are no guarantee of a perfect program of treatment, but it shows these staff are knowledgeable about identity and gender experience.How will your program make my child feel welcome and included?It’s vital that your child feels welcome, safe and content within an addiction treatment setting. Additionally, it is important that confidentiality is given a high priority, especially with information about sexual orientation or gender identity.Does your program offer specialized groups for LGBTQ people?Research has consistently highlighted that addiction treatment programs with groups specifically for LGBTQ+ patients have far better outcomes and success rates. Effective therapies for LGBTQ+ individuals include motivational interviewing, social support therapy, contingency management, and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). Ask if these are available as standard within the program.How does the treatment program address trauma, self-harm, depression or other mental health issues?It is well known that many LGBTQ people who enter addiction treatment suffer with a co-occurring disorder, meaning they have also been diagnosed with a mental health disorder. If this type of disorder applies to your child, make sure that any treatment program you are considering offers co-occurring treatment, and will treat both conditions simultaneously.How will you address the special needs my child has due to their identity?Asking questions about the LGBTQ-specific needs of your child is to ensure as best as you can that they have the best possible chance of success in their recovery. Is the vocabulary prospective counselors are using respectful, up-to-date and informed?Furthermore, will hormonal therapy be adequately managed if your trans child is in residential treatment? How does the treatment facility address HIV, STDs, hepatitis and other health issues if they need to? Obviously, stay away from any programs offering “Conversion Therapy.”What has the provider’s experience been with treating LGBTQ people like my child?Treatment providers should be able to tell you about how they have served your child’s population previously. For example, you can ask how the recovery program has helped other LGBTQ patients in the past. Did those patients complete the program? How successful were those programs?What are the bathroom and sleeping arrangements?If your child is transgender, ask if the treatment facility has co-ed bathrooms, showers and sleeping areas. Will they share a room with people who share their gender expression? Asking for a private room and bathroom can be an option, where possible.How familiar is the program with LGBTQ resources in your community for your child’s continuing care plan?On completion of the program, your child may move to a lower level of care. Understanding your child’s needs from this point on is important. Be confident that any “Relapse Prevention Plan” provided by the treatment facility addresses all of your child’s needs from this point onwards.LGBTQ+ Addiction Recovery Support & ResourcesThe LGBTQ community has many addiction recovery support organizations, programs and groups that can access to help your child, other family members and yourself, such as:PFLAGFamily Acceptance ProjectChild Welfare Information GatewayNational Network of LGBTQ Family GroupsNALGAP: National Association of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Addiction Professionals and Their AlliesAlcoholics Anonymous (special meetings for LGBTQ+ people)
Robert Castan

New Intergenerational Trauma Workbook Offers Process Strategies for Healing

1 week 2 days ago
In the Intergenerational Trauma Workbook, Dr. Lynne Friedman-Gell, PhD, and Dr. Joanne Barron, PsyD, apply years of practical clinical experience to foster a healing journey. Available on Amazon, this valuable addition to both the self-help and mental health categories is perfect for a post-pandemic world. With so many people uncovering intergenerational trauma while isolated during the extended quarantines, the co-authors offer a direct approach. The book shows how to confront and ultimately integrate past demons from within the shadowy depths of the human psyche.Addressing such a difficult challenge, the Intergenerational Trauma Workbook: Strategies to Support Your Journey of Discovery, Growth, and Healing provides a straightforward and empathetic roadmap that leads to actual healing. Dr. Gell and Dr. Barron explain how unintegrated memories affect a person negatively without the individual being aware of what is happening. Rather than being remembered or recollected, the unintegrated memories become painful symptomology.By following the clearly outlined steps to healing in the workbook, finding freedom from what feels like chronic pain of the mind and the body is possible. Yes, the emotional wounds of childhood often fail to integrate into the adult psyche. Never processed or even addressed, they morph into demons. In response, the workbook is all about processing.Clearly-Defined Chapters about Processing Intergenerational TraumaThe workbook is divided into clearly defined chapters that provide a roadmap to recovery from trauma. In the first chapter, the authors focus on "Understanding Intergenerational Trauma," providing the reader with an orientation to the subject matter while defining key terminology for future lessons. From a multitude of perspectives, they mine the depths of intergenerational trauma. Expressing with a clarity of voice balanced with compassion, they write, "Intergenerational trauma enables a traumatic event to affect not only the person who experiences it but also others to whom the impact is passed down through generations."The chapters carefully outline how the workbook is to be used and the psychological underpinnings behind the exercises. Moreover, they use individual stories to demonstrate the ideas being expressed. Thus, moments of identification are fostered where someone using the workbook can see themselves in the examples being presented. Overall, the organization of the workbook is well-designed to help someone face the difficult challenge of dealing with their legacy of intergenerational traumaIn terms of the chapter organization, the authors make the smart choice to start with the microcosm of the individual and their personal challenges. By beginning with the person's beliefs and emotions using the workbook, these chapters keep the beginning stages of healing contained. Afterward, a chapter on healing the body leads to expanding the process to others and the healing of external relationships. As a tool to promote actual recovery, the Intergenerational Trauma Workbook is successful because it does not rush the process. It allows for a natural flow of healing at whatever pace fits the needs and personal experiences of the person using the workbook.A Strong Addition to Self-Help Shelves in a Time of Trauma AwarenessIn a 2017 interview that I did for The Fix with Dr. Gabor Maté, one of the preeminent addictionologists of our time, he spoke about how the United States suffered from traumaphobia. The rise of the 21st-century divide in our country came about because our social institutions and popular culture avoid discussing trauma. Beyond avoiding, they do everything they can to distract us from the reality of trauma. However, after the pandemic, I don't believe that these old mechanisms will work anymore.Losing their functionality, people will need tools to deal with the intergenerational trauma that has been repressed on both microcosmic and macrocosmic levels for such a long time. The pain from below is rising, and it can no longer be ignored. In need of practical and accessible tools, many people will be relieved first to discover and then use the Intergenerational Trauma Workbook by Dr. Lynne Friedman-Gell and Dr. Joanne Barron. In this resonant work, they will be able to find a way to begin the healing process.
John Lavitt

Basic Details About NAD+ Treatment in Addiction Recovery

1 week 4 days ago
When a person has an addiction to drugs or alcohol, the substances alter their brain functions. With continued substance use, one of the body’s most essential molecules gets depleted. That molecule is NAD+. Addiction recovery is not impossible, but it can be difficult. With the aid of NAD+ treatment, a relatively new holistic IV infusion that boosts natural amounts of NAD+, recovery is not only more of a possibility, but it promises to make recovery more successful and sustainable.What Is NAD+?NAD+ refers to Nicotinamide Adenine Dinucleotide. Every cell in your body has it. It is a coenzyme of vitamin B-3 or niacin, making it a small molecule that helps activate enzymes by binding to protein molecules. Enzymes are necessary because they handle over 5,000 biochemical reactions within the body. NAD+ is of specific significance because it handles more bodily responses than all other vitamin-derived molecules in our bodies. For a healthy body with neurological systems, internal organs, and a brain performing with excellent efficiency, we need adequate amounts of NAD+.Optimal efficiency of your body is not possible when a person has substance use disorder and misuses drugs. The drugs and alcohol deplete natural levels of NAD+ and make it hard for their bodies to convert the energy they get from digesting food. Some theories even suggest certain people may be more susceptible to developing substance or alcohol use disorder and possible co-occurring disorders if they rarely produce enough NAD+ naturally.There are ways to increase NAD+, which include:Consuming vitamin-rich foodsEating raw foodsExercisingEating proteinFastingWhen a person enters a luxury rehabilitation center in Los Angeles, California, clinicians may introduce patients to some of the above practices to help in their addiction recovery. Although there are ways to have healthier lifestyle practices that can boost feel-good chemicals like endorphins and replace lost NAD+ in the body, NAD+ treatment is a proven method of detoxifying and harnessing the restorative power of NAD+ for addiction recovery.Who Does NAD Help? Is It Right for Me?There are many benefits to NAD+ treatment, which is why it can provide help for a broad range of conditions. You may be a suitable candidate for NAD+ therapy if you are:Hoping to increase energy levels and lessen fatigueSuffering from a decline in cognitive functionWanting to enhance a weight-loss regimenRecovering from alcohol use disorderRecovering from substance use disorderExperiencing serious anxietyHaving a problem with symptoms from PTSDWishing to fight against the signs of agingHowever, it isn’t necessary to have a medical condition or substance use disorder to benefit from NAD+ treatment. Because it is a versatile treatment, it can provide complete body wellness and ensure you perform at peak levels.How Does NAD+ Treatment Work?NAD+ treatment restores and supplements the levels of the coenzyme in your body. Using an IV, a doctor delivers a concentrated dose of NAD+ into the bloodstream in a specialized saline solution. In this way, the NAD+ is immediately available for use by your cells.With intravenous transmission, the potent molecule can bypass the metabolic and digestive system, which gives you a total absorption rate with minimal waste and maximum effect. The IV drip is the only way to guarantee you get complete bioavailability. Your body can then covert the supplemental NAD+ into molecular energy.For the best results from NAD+ treatment, experts recommend you receive two weeks of NAD+ therapy. The requirement is typically one infusion per day for 10 days. At the beginning of detox, you can expect sessions that last from seven to eight hours. The reason for this is to provide you with larger doses of the supplement that will support you through the process. After a few days, the sessions will shorten and will be approximately four to six hours. Patients have a private room for their NAD+ treatment to read or entertain themselves with a personal device. Patients who receive NAD+ therapy at a luxury rehabilitation center in Los Angeles, California, report that their withdrawal symptoms diminish after a few minutes.In all human studies so far, NAD+ treatment has shown no long-term adverse effects. There is possible temporary discomfort during the treatment and people report short-term side effects like:DiarrheaFatigueMild headachesStomach discomfortThere could be other side effects, which are possible with all intravenous infusions, such as:Feeling short of breathItchingJoint or muscle painHives or rashNauseaCoughChills or feverFeeling short of breathEffects of NAD+ Treatment in Addiction Recovery One obstacle to addiction recovery is the discomfort felt when you stop using drugs or drinking alcohol. The pain of withdrawal causes many people to have a relapse. The results that patients report after receiving NAD+ treatment is a significant decrease in cravings for drugs or alcohol—usually after the first treatment. Patients also say they have minimal withdrawal symptoms, which could speed up the recovery process. Other improvements you can expect after treatment include:Increased mental clarityIncreased energyImproved focusImproved concentrationBetter moodOverall enhanced brain function.NAD+ treatment is not a cure for substance or alcohol use disorder. It’s a natural remedy to combat the pain of withdrawal symptoms, which can be an obstacle for many people choosing a path of addiction recovery. NAD+ is a healthful beginning to a successful recovery.
Wish

Holistic Healing for First Responders

2 weeks 1 day ago
No matter what your job is, it likely has a big impact on your life. Most of us spend at least 40 hours a week working, and our jobs become intertwined with our identities. But what happens when the same job that you love and are passionate about also brings you harm?This is commonly the case with first responders. Police officers, military personnel and EMTs commonly come face-to-face with situations that most of us would run from. Over time, encountering these situations can take a mental toll. It’s hard to put an exact number on trauma, since experts disagree about the definition of trauma. However, it’s widely acknowledged that police and military professionals experience trauma at higher rates than the general population.What is occupational trauma?Occupational trauma is trauma that occurs within the setting of someone’s work. As with all trauma, there’s no one-size-fits-all definition, or simple explanation of what can trigger trauma. A situation that might be traumatic for one individual might not develop trauma in their colleagues. In other situations, a seemingly minor circumstance might ignite trauma.Certain occupations are exposed to more events that can create trauma. Police, military and EMTs regularly encounter death, abuse and individuals that have been traumatized themselves. It’s not surprising that many people in these occupations begin suffering a mental toll. Often, this manifests as PTSD.At the same time, these occupations come with a unique culture, which sometimes makes it difficult to talk about mental health or seek treatment for trauma. A robust occupational trauma program is able to address an individual’s trauma and understand the context that it has occurred within.What happens during treatment for occupational trauma?The treatment for occupational trauma isn’t wholly different from treatment for other forms of PTSD. At Sunshine Coast Health Centre in British Columbia, treatment for occupational trauma is focused on helping people cope with symptoms, while creating a personally meaningful life. The program is designed to align with an individual’s values and beliefs.The PTSD program at Sunshine Coast includes scientifically-backed treatments like Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), one-on-one talk therapy and Somatic Therapy. However, it also incorporates treatments that are particularly important for first responders, including exploring compassion fatigue and resilience techniques.Occupational trauma programs also focus on healthy coping mechanisms. Too often, people with PTSD turn to drugs or alcohol to deal with their trauma, and become addicted. At Sunshine Coast, the occupational trauma program removes any shame around addiction, and helps address the root cause of substance abuse so that people can go on to live healthy and sober lives.What is somatic therapy?Recently, Sunshine Coast Health Center expanded its PTSD program to include somatic therapy. This approach encourages people to release tension held in their body, as part of processing the trauma in their minds. The approach is led by Davis Briscoe, a somatic counselor with a background in massage therapy. Briscoe facilitates Sunshine Coast’s OSI (occupational stress injury) and Trauma Group in order to bring somatic therapy to people who have job-related trauma.“We’re excited for him to blend his experience in somatic counseling into the group therapy for clients and alumni with PTSD, occupational trauma, and other trauma experiences,” said Casey Jordan, chief marketing officer at Sunshine Coast. “We are constantly improving our trauma and PTSD treatment programs.”Police, military, and healthcare workers regularly step into situations that most other people avoid. When that takes a toll, they deserve to have treatment that fits their beliefs and alights with how they find meaning in their life. An occupational trauma program can help achieve that.Sunshine Coast Health Centre is a non 12-step drug and alcohol rehabilitation center in British Columbia. Learn more here.
The Fix staff

In Praise of Tuesday’s 6pm Meeting, Free Coffee* and Knowing Smiles

2 weeks 3 days ago
Even before they get into recovery (and, hopefully, they do get there one day), alcoholics already know all about the idea of a “Higher Power” - the concept that there is an unseen, spiritual force above all of us in the great scheme of things, more powerful than our humble selves, and far more in control of everything than we are.In fact, you could say alcoholics, when they’re actively drinking, have been regularly worshipping one specific “higher power,” albeit straight from the neck of the bottle, on a daily basis for years and years, and sometimes even 24/7, on a particularly inspired day.As an AA acquaintance, after an especially freezing winter’s night meeting in Seattle, once said to me: “Let’s face it - they don’t call it spirituality for nothing, you know. S-p-i-r-i-t-uality. That’s so stupid, even old drunks like me can understand it.” Yes, she really did s-p-e-l-l it out like that. “F.E.A.R. = Face Everything And Recover”- Old Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) ProverbSo, here’s the thing.Regardless of what you may believe to be true of Alcoholics Anonymous, whether you think it’s just old and bearded, God-fearing guys getting together every week, and telling each other drinking war stories, or simply an exceptionally good example of how we can find real healing for ourselves and for each other within a supportive community network, there has always been one specific point that has always been vehemently debated.Everyone from the addiction experts, the medical clinicians, and the mainstream media, right down to a couple of die-hard drinkers arguing in a bar, the question remains the same, and so do the arguments for and against.The question is this: Does AA actually work? You may have missed it, as the following results came out during 2020 when the majority of our minds were rightly firmly focused elsewhere, but now there is proof - and clear, 100% proof, at that (and yes, pun intended). It’s official - well, as official as these things can be.Yes, AA really does work.AA Provides Powerful, Cost-Effective Addiction TreatmentHold the front page. What? Let’s repeat that… Alcoholics Anonymous really does work. Tuesday’s 6pm meeting, “free” coffee (pop your coins in the jar, please, newcomers), friendly faces, knowing smiles, even the old war stories that say, “It’s okay, brother, sisters, I’ve been in that hell you now find yourself in. I got out, and you can, too. You’re not alone,” and everything else - put it all together, it works.AA works. Now we know. Got that? OK, if that isn’t enough, now here’s the real bombshell - the “hold-the-front-page” headline:Active involvement in the AA’s 12-Step program is as good as any other form of addiction treatment.Based upon the clinical results of 27 peer-reviewed studies, representing over 10,000 participants, and in the very first analysis of its kind, supported by the U.S. National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), active involvement in the AA’s 12-Step program performed as well as first-line clinical interventions at the end of treatment for keeping people abstinent from alcohol - and, therefore, sober.Clear-headed, 100% sober.Furthermore, in the majority of these 27 studies, which had to go through rigorous criteria to be included, full participation in AA even performed better over timed follow-ups - specifically at 6, 12, 24, and 36 monthly intervals - after the end of first-line clinical treatment for ensuring sobriety.That’s definitely worth repeating: Full and active participation in AA even performed better over time than first-line clinical treatments in keeping recovering alcoholics alcohol-free and in recovery.The proof comes from an ongoing review study, “Alcoholics Anonymous and Other 12-Step Programs for Alcohol Use Disorder,” which is being conducted through the esteemed Cochrane Library’s program of systematic clinical reviews, considered the gold standard in scientific rigor for medical research.This particular report, produced by the Recovery Research Institute, a leading nonprofit research institute of Massachusetts General Hospital (and an affiliate of Harvard Medical School), represents the most comprehensive and up-to-date review and analysis of the medical research community’s current and historical scientific literature on the effectiveness of Alcoholics Anonymous.More on the report, its evidential findings, and what it all means for the field of addiction treatment and recovery later in this article.Lockdowns, Locked Doors and Lost RecoveriesLet’s just remind ourselves of what the COVID-19 pandemic did to the absolutely huge number of AA meetings, here in the U.S.: When the stay-at-home orders came and the quarantine lockdowns began, every one of these meetings either had to move online or come to a temporary end.The once open doors of church halls, community centers, town halls and the like were now firmly closed, and the tough-looking padlock locking you out told you everything you needed to know about the fate of your usual 6pm Tuesday evening meeting. “F.E.A.R. = F*** Everything And Run”- Alternative AA version Knowing what we know now about exactly how effective these AA meetings are in keeping their regular attendees safely on the recovery wagon, it stands to reason that, when the lockdowns came, countless alcohol addiction recoveries simply fell by the wayside, lost to those who had previously relied on the camaraderie, the warm friendship, and the sense of real fellowship their local meetings provided to keep them focused, alcohol-free, and firmly in recovery.Fortunately, things are changing. According to the latest government figures, around 62% of U.S. adults have had at least one vaccination shot, and over 135 million are now fully vaccinated.Last month, the White House proudly declared the country was finally getting to grips with a virus that has taken over half a million lives across the nation to date, and Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, recently stated, "We do need to start being more liberal, as we get more people vaccinated."Importantly for the usual participants of AA meetings, no doubt extremely fed up staring into a computer screen, very soon they will once again be meeting in-person - together again, with the free coffee* and the knowing smiles.Always on the Edge of Accepted Addiction TreatmentAlcoholics Anonymous, one of many 12-Step programs and similar mutual-aid programs around today, is easily the world’s most widely available and most used support group for recovering substance addicts. During its 85-year history, it has supported countless millions of alcoholics, spread all over the globe, to find a manageable and sustained recovery from their own personal version of this chronic disease.However, as we said earlier, AA’s efficacy has always had the clinical doubters and expert naysayers, and so, as viable addiction treatment, it has always been right out there on the edge of accepted treatment.Regardless, it does have its rightful place in the “Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment: A Research-Based Guide (Third Edition),” published by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), which states, “Participation in group therapy and other peer support programs during and following treatment can help maintain abstinence.”Hopefully, the editors at NIDA will now edit the sentence to read “does help maintain abstinence.” Who knows? On the basis of this article, they may even publish a Fourth Edition...Back to the doubters. The late 20th century saw clinical scientists and addiction experts begin (once again) to question and debate its actual effectiveness, often citing a lack of cohesive and reliable data for analysis. Fortunately, we now have that data - an additional 30 years' worth, both cohesive and reliable, to draw on for analysis.Not only that, the researchers have now:Developed highly sophisticated methods for evaluating AAThoroughly tested its clinical interventions, andDeveloped a rigid methodology to compare these interventions to other treatments, such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Motivational Enhancement Therapy (MET).Twelve-Step Facilitation (TSF)In addition, their analysis included another recognised treatment strategy, directly allied to AA, and known as “Twelve-Step Facilitation” (or TSF, for short). TSF is an active engagement strategy included as standard in many professional treatment programs which directly links current program participants to 12-step mutual-aid organizations like AA, and encourages the active engagement and involvement of those people.Effectiveness and Cost Study of Alcoholics Anonymous (2020)So, sadly without a suitable fanfare, let’s provide a more detailed summary of the study’s findings, in terms of both the effectiveness and cost benefits of AA and TSF compared to other first-line clinical interventions, namely the standard therapies of CBT and MET:EffectivenessAlcoholics Anonymous and Twelve-Step Facilitation (AA/TSF) produced rates of alcohol abstinence, and subsequent alcohol use, comparable to first-line clinical interventions, and outperforms them over follow-up; for example:a 21% lower risk of a return to alcohol use among AA participants compared to those receiving other clinical interventions at 12-month follow-up.a 66% lower risk of a return to alcohol use among AA participants compared to those receiving other clinical interventions at 6-month follow-up.Specifically, AA/TSF was found to be better than other standard treatments (eg. CBT and MET) in achieving:Continuous abstinence, andSpecifically, AA/TSF was as effective as other standard treatments in reducing:The intensity of drinkingAlcohol-related consequences, andThe severity of AUD.Lastly, AA/TSF showed a higher percentage of days abstinent from alcohol use; for example:at the 24-month stage, an average improvement of 12.1% days, andat the 36-month stage, an average improvement of 6.6% days.CostIn addition to the overall effectiveness of AA/TSF as an addiction treatment in its own right, the Recovery Research Institute researchers took the opportunity to assess cost comparisons between the 12-Step program and the traditionally recognized therapies.In a 3-year follow up study of individuals with severe AUD, the researchers found that AA participants had alcohol-related outcomes comparable to outpatients receiving clinical addiction treatment, yet their alcohol-related health care costs associated with AA participation were considerably lower - 45% lower, in fact, representing a cost-saving of $2,856 per participant.What Does AA’s Proven Effectiveness Mean for Addiction Treatment?The report’s implications are undeniably extensive, affecting current and future recovering alcoholics, their families and loved ones, the field of addiction treatment and recovery, including both the medical researchers and addiction treatment businesses, and, particularly when you consider the cost-saving aspects, even right up to the policy makers in federal government.For example, if a recovering alcoholic is opposed to AA in some way, they really should consider alternative mutual-aid organizations, such as Self-Management and Recovery Training (SMART), LifeRing, Refuge Recovery, and Women for Sobriety, and then actively participate in the group of their choice.Certainly, far more research is needed around AA and other mutual-aid programs to discover what it is about the concepts and practicalities of each that drives these levels of engagement. With the additional benefit of significant cost-savings, hopefully, in the future, it will result in professional addiction treatment being far more accessible to more people who need it.Increased access to alcohol addiction treatment is certainly something that desperately needs to happen, and happen soon, especially when you consider the following recent statistics:Only 7.2% of people, aged 12 and older, who had AUD in 2019 received any treatment, andFurthermore, only 6.4% of adolescents, ages 12 to 17, who had AUD in 2019 received any treatment.*(Pop your coins in the jar - thanks) 
Robert Castan

The Case Against Drug Decriminalization

3 weeks ago
Proponents of drug legalization argue that legalizing drugs would bring abuse from the darkness into the light, but Clare Waismann, RAS/SUDCC, founder of Waismann Method® and Domus Retreat, fears legalizing drugs would pour fuel on the fire of America's addiction and mental health crisis. "In the United States, we are currently lacking good, accessible and effective mental healthcare. Therefore, legalizing brain altering drugs is just putting gasoline on the fire." Waismann said on a recent episode of her podcast. The movement toward drug legalization or decriminalization might seem far-fetched, but the United States is rapidly moving toward decriminalization. In the past ten years, seventeen states have legalized marijuana for recreational use, and 43% of Americans now live in the seventeen states and Washington D.C., where recreational marijuana use is legal. States have recently started decriminalizing psychedelics as well. Although some see this as progress, Waismann believes it can be dangerous. A simple example is that marijuana users are more likely to drive while under the influence, putting themselves and others at risk. Additionally, they're dabbling with a drug with serious adverse effects on brain regions responsible for memory, learning, impulse control, and cognitive abilities. Likewise, psychedelics can impact the mind and perception of the world even after use. Studies have shown that psychedelic drugs can lead to severe long-term health conditions, including persistent paranoia and perception disorder.Marijuana might be considered a harmless substance that can be used safely and responsibly. However, widespread legalization means that any adult, regardless of their mental health history, has access to the intoxicant without any health care management. That's irresponsible, says Waismann, and could spell disaster down the line. Consistent marijuana use can diminish people's motivation, which can lead to depression and unproductivity."Sometimes individuals use marijuana to manage psychiatric disorders that are not being adequately treated by a professional. However, marijuana is not a treatment, but a way to self-medicate the emotional distress. Therefore, the condition may continue worsening because the person doesn't receive the help they truly need," Waismann says. According to recent studies, marijuana use can cause aggressive behavior, exacerbate psychosis, or even lead to paranoia.Furthermore, the currently available marijuana is far more potent in THC concentrations, the psychoactive component which results in a higher risk for paranoid ideation and psychosis. Consequently, paranoid behavior is directly associated with aggressive and violent behaviors.Legalizing drugs is currently a growing risk to American citizens’ well-being. The expansion of private pay studies, showing that marijuana provides minor threats to the public's health, is causing state and federal legislatures to change laws that will significantly expand the accessibility of marijuana. Consequently this puts people at risk.Of course, the harm of drugs exists on a continuum. Using marijuana is not the same as abusing opioids, for example. If someone can work with their doctor to medicate with cannabis rather than powerful prescription pills, that should be encouraged. Private industries have spread a tremendous amount of information that compares harmful drugs like opioids to marijuana. It's ludicrous that we have to choose one evil over another. Instead, we can choose to use our resources to focus and treat why someone is seeking to alter their feelings. If you just cover up a condition with a band aid, you may not see it, but the problem will keep growing. You can numb unwanted emotions with substances to a certain point, but eventually, the drug won't be enough to ease the pain anymore, leading to unpredictable, risky situations.People must address any physical or emotional pain that is driving them to seek relief through substances. By addressing the root cause of the pain — whether childhood trauma, untreated mental illness, or a physical condition — people can learn to live life without seeking mind-altering substances. Helping people find the best chance to a better quality of life is the goal of the Waismann Method and Domus Retreat team. Our mission is to better the lives of those impacted by substance use through proven medical care, using comprehensive and individualized solutions. Our work is strengthened and inspired by the respect and compassion we have for every person who comes to us for help. We genuinely believe that when people reclaim their health, they strengthen their abilities to cope with mental health issues.With millions of Americans dependent on substances, it's clear that we need to do something more. However, legalizing drugs, especially drugs that further cause damage to the nervous system, is not the answer. Instead, we must strengthen the strategies that people use to address their physical and mental pain, to keep them from seeking drugs in the first place. We need to focus on the crises of pain, isolation, and emotional health many Americans are grappling with. Legalizing drugs is not a solution but a profitable and damaging delay in providing one. 
The Fix staff

4 Tips for Staying Strong as the World Reopens

3 weeks 2 days ago
A year ago, we were all reeling from the adjustments to pandemic life. Wearing masks felt confining and absurd; our tongues were still wrapping around new words like “social-distancing” and “quarantine.” And yet, over the past 12 months, pandemic life, with its social isolation, remote work and six-foot distances, has become our new normal. Now, as vaccines become more widespread and the world opens up, some people are finding that transition to be challenging and uncomfortable as well.This can be even more so the case for people who are newly in recovery. If you were newly sober before the pandemic, you might have found comfort in the fact that no one was out drinking and socializing — the world, for a year, hit pause, and that may have allowed you to focus on your recovery. Now, you might find yourself struggling to adapt to being sober during more normal times, or even concerned about relapse.If that’s the case, don’t worry. If you could stay sober during the pandemic, you’ll be able to maintain that during the reopening phase, even if your approach might need some adjustment. Here are some tips for staying strong and sober as the world reopens.Decide what stays and what goes. The past year has taught us that the world can keep turning even when we step away from our norms and routines. That was true as things shut down, and it will be the same as they reopen.Use that idea as a way to empower yourself. While there are some things we’re all eager to get back to (hello, restaurant dining) there are other changes during the pandemic that we’re loath to give up (like working from home). Take some time to decide what worked well for you during the past year, and what you might like to hang on to in the future.Set goals for the year. Sure, we probably all already set our New Year’s resolutions. But as things continue to open up, we’re facing another new beginning. Think about what you want to get out of this period of time, and set goals for it.Maybe you missed being of service, and are looking to utilize in-person volunteer opportunities. Perhaps you have enjoyed a particular online meeting and want to maintain your connection to that group. Write down your goals in order to stay focused on them through the transition.Recognize that change is tough. For months we’ve all been waiting for the end of the pandemic. But now that things are returning to normal, we’re also faced with the loss of the past year: the lives lost, the time apart from loved ones, and the milestones that we’ve missed.Because of that you might find yourself grieving, even during a time when you thought you would be celebrating. Recognize that this is a normal response — it’s understandable to be overwhelmed at a time when everything is changing, just when you’ve gotten used to the way things were. Practice self care to keep on track with your recovery even during this transition.Set the tone for the rest of your recovery. This year has hopefully been a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Right now you’re adjusting your recovery to post-pandemic life, but that will be the norm for the rest of your life in recovery. Right now is a great time to think about what you want your routine to look like long-term. Identify your priorities for your recovery, and begin implementing those in your life today. By doing that, you can guarantee that you have the recovery that you want.Getting through the past year with your sobriety intact is no small feat. If you’ve done that, congratulations. If you need support during this transition time, don’t be afraid to reach out to your rehab team, your recovery group or any friends and mentors that you have made in the community. Everyone is going through a transition right now, and by opening up to others you can surround yourself with the support that you need to make your recovery successful.Learn more about Oceanside Malibu at http://oceansidemalibu.com/. Reach Oceanside Malibu by phone at (866) 738-6550. Find Oceanside Malibu on Facebook.
The Fix staff

5 Side Effects of Smoking That Might Come as a Shock to You

3 weeks 3 days ago
Cigarette smoking has catastrophic consequences as it changes just about every organ in your body, which leads to general deterioration of the smoker's life and health. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated that cigarette smoking is responsible for every 1 in 5 deaths across the U.S. It is deadlier on an annual basis than HIV/AIDS. Not only this, it also puts people at risk of heart disease and diabetes.Considering this array of diseases, it is necessary to seek proper medical help and sign up for an addiction treatment program as soon as you can.In case you’re not convinced that smoking is actually harmful to you, here are some side effects of lighting up that you might not be aware of:1. Risk of ALSA widely-held hypothesis that smoking causes ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis) has been confirmed by a study in 2009. ALS is a devitalizing neurological illness, a progressive nervous system disease that affects the nerves in the brain and spinal cord, causing you to lose muscle control. Research has found that people who are regular smokers put themselves at greater risk of developing ALS than non-smokers. In particular, people who have been smoking for around 33 years have a two-fold risk of developing ALS at a later age.2. COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease)COPD, also known as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, is an umbrella term used to describe complications in air flowing through your lungs. These diseases cause inflammation and affect the flexibility of alveoli; they also entirely destroy the walls between them. Symptoms include shortness of breath, wheezing, and coughing. Severe symptoms include a very high heart rate, weight loss, and discoloration of lips. There is no cure for COPD, only treatments that manage the progression of the disease.3. Pregnancy and Birth IssuesSmoking has been known to reduce fertility in women as well as men. It vastly affects the body’s ability to produce hormones, which makes it difficult to get pregnant, as well as damaging the eggs and sperm. For women who are able to conceive, smoking increases the probability of preterm labor, stillbirth, sudden death syndrome and low birth weight. One study found that smoking may put the baby at risk of contracting asthma. Moreover, women taking birth control pills while smoking are at a greater risk of developing blood clots. In men, smoking may cause issues with sperm quantity and motility.  4. Reduces Bone DensityIt's been 20 years since scientists first discovered that smoking puts one at risk of osteoporosis. In 2012, a study found that smoking also weakens the bones in general. Researchers discovered that smokers produce two types of proteins in massive amounts, which causes the production of osteoclasts and leading to the breakdown of old bone. In addition, the nicotine present in cigarettes destroys osteoblasts, the bone-making cells.5. Cognitive DeclineSmoking accelerates cognitive decline regardless of age; however, one study showed that older men who smoke experience a higher rate of cognitive decline. Researchers found that the decline was most evident in executive functions such as memory, problem solving, attention span, multi tasking, verbal reasoning, etc.The effects of smoking go far beyond the cancer scare we're all familiar with. Kicking the habit can save you from other life-long chronic illnesses and health complications. Although the effects are dire, you can take control of your health. Quit today and work on reversing the damage.
Lantana Recovery

Love Without Martinis: Building Healthy Relationships in Recovery

4 weeks 1 day ago
Those who recover and prioritize sobriety almost always do so with the assistance of stories. The books of AA and Al-Anon, the literature given out at treatment centers, memoirs on addiction to alcohol or drugs, therapeutic workbooks, and even religious texts are used to guide both the newly sober and old-timer into a healthier and more stable version of their own sobriety. When it comes to romantic relationships in sobriety, the field is less crowded--there aren’t many guide books for two people who want to work on their relationship after the chaos of addiction.Love Without Martinis seeks to provide that valuable guidance through a collection of six stories of actual couples who found their way to a better place. As author Chantal Jauvin writes in the book’s opening, “Stories are a powerful medium for self-understanding. They help us find ourselves or remember who we are.”Jauvin and her husband Bill went through hell and back in their marriage as they struggled with Bill’s addiction to alcohol. Jauvin eventually worked with Dr. Jeremy Frank, PhD, CADC, a certified alcohol and drug counselor, and together they developed a framework for healing for couples in recovery called the ASCENT Approach. ASCENT includes a specific set of healthy practices that couples who successfully rebuild their relationships in recovery have in common; despite the many differences in couples’ stories--their sexuality, gender, socio-economic background--it is these powerful commonalities that ASCENT was built on, and Love Without Martinis was written to convey.After opening with a chapter outlining the specifics of the ASCENT Approach, the couples’ stories are told chapter by chapter in novelistic prose, instead of the seated in therapy and taking dictation-style of many self-help books. The narrative addresses the emotions, thoughts, and actions of each person in the couple as the addiction worsens, hits crisis, turns to recovery, and then the couple’s journey to heal the rifts between them.“When individuals suffering from substance use disorder get well, it changes the patterns of behavior and interaction in the couple.” writes Doug Tieman, President and CEO of Caron Treatment Center, in the foreword. “This new relationship is truly one of the “Promises of Recovery” and it does materialize if you invest yourself in reclaiming and rebuilding the healthy relationship.” The stories in Love Without Martinis trace the arc of the couples who do invest themselves.“The battle of an addicted person’s partner to either strong-arm a person they love into sobriety, or ignore them until they become sober, often draws a wedge between the partners and the world within us and around us,” the authors point out. It is this disconnect and dysfunctional coping mechanisms--as well as past hurt and anger--that these couples are addressing.Jauvin writes, “Here are the practices of The ASCENT Approach for couples in recovery: Assess your readiness to change. Structure your time. Create your community. Engage in your life. Nurture your spirituality. Treasure your partnership.” The couples' detailed stories are a living illustration of how each of these guide-points plays out.As a couple’s narrative is being driven forward, the changes to their thoughts and behaviors are illuminated to make clear the specific steps that each person must take to repair the relationship. Here is Larry, from the couple Larry and Sherri, moving through a negative thought pattern into a positive one:“Yes, he just needed to keep her in check. That thought was foul on so many levels, he admonished himself. First, it implied the game his psychiatrist warned him against. Larry might be the responsible one, keeping the family together, but he was also the “enabler.” He contributed to the family disease. That was a tall order for Larry to accept. For a long time, maybe even a few years, Larry had transferred the anger he felt towards Sherri onto the professionals whose help he sought. Of course, he tried to control his wife. He could not let her run wild with three young children in the house. Not to mention all the debt from rehab, therapists, and psychiatrists for the entire family. It was a miracle the dogs did not need therapy. Stop, he commanded himself. Control the silent introverted “awfulizing”—such a genius medical term—that is what Larry needed to do. Control himself, not Sherri. He’d accepted the expenses, written the checks, hired the housekeepers. He’d perhaps even played the martyr in the name of keeping the family together. Stop, he dictated to himself. Larry redirected his thoughts.”The work that these couples do individually and within their family can be life-changing for generations to come. Families can create a legacy of recovery with just one person deciding to work for and maintain sobriety; once one person has broken through, any other member of the family is more likely to get into treatment. Not only is the substance use disorder addressed, but years (perhaps generations) of dysfunctional interpersonal habits and thoughts can be changed, freeing the children of that family from those patterns. And those children are then more likely to seek partners of their own who have healthier relationship and coping skills. The legacy that a couple can leave for their family within the work of recovery is priceless.The stories in this book address many of the blocks that partners face in new recovery, but certainly cannot cover all of them. No one in these stories, for example, has severe mental illness, has been a violent abuser or abused, or is living in total poverty. The couples included here are not interchangeable: a gay couple with a partner suffering from Crohn’s disease, a young family with a baby whose father relapses, an executive who loses control once he retires, and the author’s battle with ovarian cancer and her husband’s messy divorce. However, the problems of co-occurring mental health issues are not specifically addressed.It’s obvious that Jauvin is a compassionate and knowledgeable guide from the way she writes and frames each couple’s story; the inner dialogue feels authentic, and raw struggles are portrayed with care to acknowledge the source of pain and the pathway out of it. Jauvin spent five years interviewing these couples--in addition to the work she did with Dr. Jeremy Frank to build the ASCENT guideposts--and that, combined with her own story of her husband Bill’s addiction to alcohol and recovery, makes her a trusted and worthy guide. She writes in the foreword: My favorite definition of recovery remains one written by Earnie Larsen, a pioneer in the field of recovery from addictive behaviors: “The core of recovery is becoming a person increasingly capable of functioning in a healthy relationship.” And now, Jauvin has contributed to that capability with Love Without Martinis.Love Without Martinis is a helpful touchstone and guide for couples seeking to stay together and heal in recovery, and would be a good book to take home on discharge for anyone in a relationship and leaving a rehabilitation center or sober living home to reenter life. Love Without Martinis is available at Amazon and elsewhere.
The Fix staff

Apology to the Young Addict

1 month ago
The following is excerpted from a longer work.You post your picture on Facebook. It’s a close-up. Your long hair is dark brown. On one side you have strands of it curled behind your ear. Your eyes are dark brown, too, but they are also glossy and red. In your hand is a glass pipe, the bowl hot and alive, swirling with gray smoke. You’re holding it out to whoever is taking the picture, but it looks as if you’re offering it to me.You must be about twenty now. I lose track of time. In the beginning, as a child, you probably wonder why, when I come to see your father, he always asks you to go to your room and watch TV. After a while, though, and I don’t suppose it takes more than a few visits, you must catch on. By no means am I his only friend, if you can call his many visitors friends, because truthfully we are not. Sure, we laugh and joke and talk too long, like friends do, but we always leave looking and acting differently than when we arrived. Sometimes we move in slow motion. Sometimes we’re fidgety and nervous. It depends on the drug, whether it’s heroin or coke. Or meth. Or all three for an interesting little cocktail. Other times your father’s friends come and go so quickly you must wonder why they ever bothered to visit.Your mother, where is she?When did you last see her?I’m not familiar with this part of your story, knowing only that she’s not there for you at this point in your life. She’s an addict, too, this much I do know, and maybe she’s still using when your father is clean. Maybe that’s why she left. If this is the case, at least with your father you have a roof over your head and food in the refrigerator. At least you attend school instead of bouncing from one dope house to another, crashing on beat-up couches or dirty floors, and sometimes, when your mother wears out her welcome, having to sleep on the streets.To be fair, your father has seven years clean from heroin and cocaine before he receives his disability settlement for an injury he suffers working as a heavy equipment operator. He undergoes spinal fusion surgery but the procedure is hardly successful in relieving his pain. Still, for those seven years, he refuses the Vicodin and Oxycodone the doctors prescribe, knowing it will trigger his old cravings, and even though he walks slowly, wincing often, he nonetheless manages to take you fishing off the docks in Lake Arrowhead. You remember he’s good at it, and teaches you how to be good at it, too, so that you both catch plenty of trout. You also remember him taking you camping and how comforting, how calming, how secure and safe and loved you feel snuggling up to him in your sleeping bags in the tent he shows you how to pitch, because he can’t do much of the work himself. You like helping him. You like knowing he needs you, as you need him, and you think of you and your father as a little team.But money can be a trigger, weakening the addict’s resolve to stay clean. Why this is, I’m not sure, but I’ve seen it happen too often not to believe there’s truth in it -- addicts and alcoholics struggling to make ends meet, and then, when the burden is lifted, finding themselves drunk or strung out again. A seventy-five-thousand-dollar disability settlement is a windfall when you’ve been living month to month on paltry government disability checks.Ironically your father is my first sponsor, once a week taking me through the Big Book page by page, but after one too many slips I give up on myself and he gives up on me, too. I can’t blame him. We stop seeing each other until he calls out of the blue one day, asks if I’m clean, and when I tell him I’m not, that I’m drinking as we speak, he laughs and invites me over. He has it all. Heroin. Coke. Plenty of booze. From that night on we party hard and often, but your father is diligent, always cautious never to let you catch us in the act of getting high. He makes certain that his drugs and paraphernalia are always well hidden and never brought out until they’re needed. Syringes. An old leather belt with teeth marks on it. A couple spoons, the hollow part blackened, the handles bent for better control, easier balance.You aren’t supposed to be there.You are, instead, supposed to be spending the night with a friend. I don’t know the full story, if your friend gets sick or you have a fight and want to come home early, but I remember that you couldn’t have been more than eleven or twelve years old, and that we don’t hear you unlock the front door. We don’t hear your footsteps on the stairs leading to the living room where your father and I sit on the couch beside a coffee table scattered with syringes and booze and little baggies of heroin and coke. I’m already deep on the nod, melting into the couch. Your father has just tied off his arm, biting down on the leather belt with his teeth, searching for a vein. He slips the needle in and presses the plunger. Blood slides down his forearm, and you drop the backpack that’s hanging from your shoulder. It hits the floor and a pair of pajamas with little blue flowers on them tumble out. Your eyes meet with your father’s and I lower mine.“Baby,” he says. “I’m sorry. Come here.”He tries to get up from the couch but falls back. He tries again and succeeds this time, though he’s shaky on his feet. You run to your room, slam and lock the door. Your father weaves down the hallway, calling your name, and when I hear you crying, I pick up my cigarettes and leave. There is no excuse, accidental or otherwise, for an adult to use narcotics in front of a child, and my presence alone that night makes me complicit in your addiction today.I am and am not guilty.I am and am not responsible.Jump in time. Fast-forward a few years. Your father is pulled over for a broken taillight and ends up arrested for possession and distribution of narcotics. By no means is this his first run-in with the law. Once, traveling through Texas, he’s busted with two kilos of heroin and spends four years in the state prison in Huntsville. This time the judge sends him to Glen Helen in San Bernardino County. One day, in another life, I will find myself speaking to the convicts here about drug and alcohol abuse.In his mid-forties, he is, like myself, no longer a young man, and while serving the first of his two-year sentence he suffers a massive heart attack. The doctors save him with bypass surgery, and I’m sure they warn him that if he uses drugs again it will be his last heart attack. But when has the fear of death ever stopped an addict? Certainly it’s an answer to the end of the misery called addiction and all the shame and anguish and self-loathing that’s killing us anyway.Your father used to say, “You can always put more in but you can’t take it out,” which means the wise addict, if there is such a thing, is cautious. You know when you buy Jack Daniel’s that you’re getting eighty proof whiskey. On every bottle there’s a government seal stating exactly that, but there is no quality control when you buy dope. One day your dealer might sell you weak or bunk product. A week later it might be stellar, so the same amount you shot last time might kill you now. What happens, though, when you have a weak heart and any dose, even a small one, is enough to put you under? That’s the case with your father inside of a month after he’s released.Here’s the ugliest part.Here’s the scene where trauma gives you a choice. Break the cycle or join it. I can’t and won’t blame you, as I have no right, because I made the wrong decision, too, when I was young and lost my brother. My sister did the same and also found herself an early grave.That little team, just your father and you, it’s true. He had only you. All other family ties had been severed long ago, and so who do his so-called friends phone when they can’t revive him? Not the paramedics. Paramedics bring police and police make arrests. Take him to hospital? That’s also risky. Besides, by then, he’s probably stopped breathing. Instead, like good junkies concerned only for themselves, they phone you and then grab their dope and get out of whosever house or apartment they’re in. I’m told the message is brief.“Come get your father.”They give you an address and hang up. I have a hard time believing the caller would tell you he’s dead. I don’t suppose it’s fair to generalize, but junkies are notorious for being liars, cowards and thieves.So let me add it up.You’re just a kid the first time we meet and your father and I go on a run. Then he spends two years in prison while I begin the arduous struggle to get clean and sober. That should make you about seventeen or eighteen when you pull up to the house or apartment in your father’s old truck, the one he gave you after he lost his license and went to prison. Maybe you’re thinking that he’s passed out drunk. Possibly you detect the panic in the caller’s voice and already suspect the worst. I doubt it, though, and it has nothing to do with your youth. Old or young, clean or dirty, even the most jaded among us cling to hope where we know there is none.I understand you go there alone.I understand the door is left unlocked, so all you have to do is turn the knob and walk inside and this is how you find him, sprawled out on the couch in the living room, his face blue, his limbs already stiffening. I don’t know if you drew back in horror or kneeled by his side and cried and held him and kissed his cold skin. That’s as far as I let imagination invade this private and heartbreaking moment of your life.Under your picture on Facebook, in the reply box, I write that it doesn’t have to be this way, knowing full well my words mean nothing. I can hear you laughing. I can see you shaking your head and saying:“You motherfucker, of all people, slamming dope with my dad and now this shit. Fuck you. Of course it has to be this way. How could it be any other?”And maybe you’re right. Maybe this motherfucker might as well have snapped your picture. Fuck his laments, you think. Fuck his apologies. You hate the hypocrisy of reformed addicts telling you that the dope will stop working one day, that it always does, and in the end you’ll be left with nothing but misery. That you’ll do things you never imagined yourself capable of doing. Sell your body. Rip off friends and whatever family you might still have left.This is only the beginning.What the older recovering addict has to offer the younger, active addict is the hope and promise of change through example and really nothing more.Listen.I despise him, too, but at least for today he is as dead as your father, and hopefully he will remain dead, this old junkie staring into the photo of your glossy red eyes, who long ago might just as well have passed that glowing hot pipe to you. From Apology to the Young Addict by James Brown. Used with permission of Counterpoint Press. Copyright © 2020 by James Brown. 
James Brown

Addiction in America: An Interview with Tom Coderre of SAMHSA

1 month ago
Tom Coderre is the first person in active recovery to hold the position of Acting Assistant Secretary for Mental Health and Substance Abuse at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Agency (SAMHSA). Prior to this appointment, Tom was Senior Advisor to Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo from 2016-2019, where he helped to coordinate the state’s response to the opioid crisis. During the Obama administration, Tom led the team which produced “Facing Addiction in America: The Surgeon General’s Report on Alcohol, Drugs, and Health,” the first report from a U.S. Surgeon General dedicated to this public health crisis. And as the former National Field Director of Faces & Voices of Recovery, he was a key voice in “The Anonymous People” documentary and helped increase peer support services nationwide. The Fix is honored to have the opportunity to speak with him.The Fix: You are the first person in recovery from substance use disorder to lead SAMHSA. How is this significant? Do you think being in recovery will help you accomplish more?Tom Coderre: That’s a great question, John, but it’s important to point out that I am the acting assistant secretary for mental health and substance use. I am serving in an interim capacity until the Senate confirms Dr. Miriam Delphin-Rittmon. She was nominated by President Biden last week. I’ll serve until the U.S. Senate confirms her. I am currently leading SAMHSA, but I’m not going to be leading it too much more into the future. At the same time, I’ll continue to be a part of our leadership team here at the agency.Still, my acting appointment is significant because I count SAMHSA as partially responsible for me getting into recovery. SAMHSA block grant dollars funded the treatment that I received. Moreover, the recovery support services that I received post-treatment were funded by a SAMHSA discretionary grant program, the Recovery Community Services Program (RCSP). My experience speaks volumes about how the agency helps people.As the acting assistant secretary, being in recovery is the lens from which I view the world. I don’t know if it has helped me accomplish more or will help me moving forward, but it certainly has given me that lens of lived experience to bring to any policy conversation when we are talking about ways we can help more people find sustainable recovery.Has it been difficult to prioritize prevention, treatment, and recovery services for substance use disorder during the COVID-19 pandemic?To begin with, the Biden-Harris Administration obviously is remaining focused on the COVID-19 pandemic. At the same time, it also has prioritized the expansion of evidence-based treatment to get people with substance use disorders the help they need. Already, SAMHSA has received significant increases in funding from Congress and from the President to help address our country’s mental health and addiction crisis.As you know, John, it has only gotten worse during the pandemic. The latest CDC data points to ninety thousand overdose deaths in the twelve-month period that ended last September. It’s the largest increase on record, and that is why SAMHSA has been getting resources to the states and the people who need it the most. In addition to the state block grants, we have awarded a total of almost 700 million dollars to certified community health clinics (CCHPs) across the nation. We just gave a series of COVID Emergency Grants to address mental health disorders that arose during the pandemic. We have even made supplements to those grants with the new American Rescue Plan money.In terms of innovations, early on in the pandemic, we began the mission of expanding the regulatory definition of telehealth to help ensure that people who need medication-based treatment would access that critical support during the pandemic. We also provided free technical assistance and training for physicians who were unfamiliar with the use of telehealth. Out of necessity, telehealth has blown up during the pandemic, and we wanted to ensure that it was both accessible and well-executed. The free virtual trainings we provided were well-attended, and the response was positive. We knew that we could not focus only on COVID-19 because the parallel track of spikes in mental illness and substance use disorders could not be ignored. We had to ensure that people in crisis could access real help.Post-pandemic, what do you think will be the biggest challenges facing SAMHSA?That’s another really good question that we have been discussing at the agency. We know that multiple stressors during the pandemic like isolation, sickness, grief, job loss, food instability, loss of routines, and so many more have been devastating for many Americans. It has led to a series of unprecedented challenges for health providers across the nation.For example, the CDC also reported that American adults in June of 2020 reported elevated levels of adverse mental health conditions, including symptoms of anxiety and depression that were three to four times the levels of those reported in 2019. Going forward, this is a big challenge for us. Traditionally, SAMHSA’s Disaster Distress Help Line has been a low-volume hotline compared to our others that we operate like the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. However, the call volume on the disaster distress hotline has increased significantly as people have become more aware of its services. We saw a 440% increase in the twelve months from March 2020 to February 2021. It tells us that people are reaching out and seeking help.One of the obstacles during the pandemic has been barriers to accessing services and the treatment that these people need. The challenge is that even people with mild or moderate symptoms who are looking for help cannot access it. They are unable to connect with a community mental health center or a treatment center. In response, SAMHSA is promoting the Disaster Distress Help Line and other similar resources because we want to know who needs help and where they are located. We want to be able to support them in the process of knowing where to go to get help.Another challenge to note is workforce readiness. Are people ready to make the full transition back to work? Mental health professionals have seen a significant increase in people seeking appointments to work past negative public attitudes. We need more trained professionals to help those folks successfully make that transition.President Biden recently dedicated $2.5 billion to prevention and treatment efforts. How do you see the pie chart of those funds being divided up?In the bill that Congress passed and the President signed, those resources are pretty prescriptive. SAMHSA does not really get to decide how to split them up. We have been directed to send that money to states and to territories and tribes. They have the flexibility to address those funds to address those various needs. The $2.5 billion in additional money that went to the different block grants for substance use disorder and mental health and those block grants allows states, territories, and tribes to tailor those grants to address the specific needs that they have identified.As part of the COVID Relief Package, we got $4.25 billion in December and an additional $3.56 billion in March as part of President Biden’s American Rescue Plan. Beyond the block grants targeted at front-line people on the ground, these new grants also help us expand the building out of the Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics, which provide all sorts of wraparound services for people in the various communities. Each of the bills also dedicated funds to improve suicide prevention efforts and school-based mental health efforts. Also, the money for the National Child Traumatic Stress Initiative is an important step. We are really concerned with what has happened with youth during this pandemic, and we want to make sure they have access to needed resources.We are extremely grateful to President Biden and Congress for making these resources available. This capital is the largest investment in behavioral health in the history of our country. It’s a big step going from an overall budget of $6 billion to $13.8 billion. Thus, we’ve been tasked with a big, big job to get these funds awarded to states and, most importantly, working in local communities, thus reaching the people in need of this kind of help and support. Thank God for the SAMHSA staff because they have been working tirelessly to make this happen.In 2018, commenting on the rise in opioid use disorder (OUD) deaths, you told Fox News, “It took too long to get to where we are today. I think there was thought they could do this without declaring a national emergency, but people are dying.” Post-Covid, will we need to declare another national emergency to combat opioid use disorder and resulting overdose deaths?First of all, did I really say that? It sounds brilliant. Okay, I’m just joking, but I think I was referring to the public health emergency that was being declared at that time. Both SAMHSA and this Administration get the urgency of the current situation. We understand the concept of parity and the importance of delivering care to underserved communities. We understand that all of these statistics related to mental health disorders and substance use are tied to real people with loved ones and families. Suppose you look at the work done under the leadership of the Biden-Harris Administration. In that case, you see that SAMHSA’s funding and efforts are a crucial part of the White House’s tailored response to these challenges, including America’s mental health needs.An emergency is declared to increase access to funds and speed up the delivery of those funds to people in crisis. It’s precisely what is being done right now by this administration to address the opioid crisis, and the hard work at SAMHSA is making those directives happen. We are taking steps to expand access to evidence-based treatment like MAT [Medication-Assisted Treatment] and reduce the stigma that still exists. For example, we are working to reduce the medical stigma around integrating opioid use disorder treatment with primary care in office settings of doctors across the country. We also know that powerful synthetic opioids like fentanyl in the nation’s drug supply compound the overdose risk for Americans significantly. People with little or no opioid-related tolerance are being given this incredibly potent drug, and they are at a much greater risk of dying as a result from an overdose. This danger is one more reason we are grateful to work with the White House to connect more Americans to the treatment and care they truly need. Indeed, these communities need that support more than ever, and this is why it’s an all-hands-on-deck moment at SAMHSA.Under the last administration, there was a shift away from community-led, demographically-targeted interventions. Under the new administration, do you think there will be a renewed focus on evidence-based practices that address substance use disorder (SUD) and mental health from a holistic lens, including strategies to address current health disparities among various racial/ethnic groups?Of course, I do. Both President Biden and Vice President Harris have made diversity, equity, and inclusion a key part of their strategic plan for the nation. At SAMHSA, we have been doing behavioral health equity work for more than a decade. We recognize that there are disparities in treatment services that exist, particularly in Black, Indigenous, and people of color communities. We need to do more to identify those disparities in particular and root them out, do they can be eliminated.It is not okay to turn a blind eye anymore and expect somebody else to take care of these issues. We are making these efforts a strategic priority, and we are considering steps like disparity impact statements as an ongoing part of our grant programs. Also, although we think globally, we act locally. Although the White House or Xavier Becerra, the first Latino to serve as Secretary of Health and Human Services, can issue the policy, we are responsible for helping to make the change locally through our grant programs.We need to emphasize this issue regularly through our long-term relationships with states and local communities. Such essential progress in cultural competence and applying it effectively is now a priority on all levels of the federal government. For example, we need to do a lot more recruitment in the workforce at all levels, so the people providing the services look like the people they are serving. From our experience, the best people for helping local communities are people who came out of those communities and know firsthand the nature of the challenges. As you know, I came from the peer movement, and I believe the peer work that is being done around the country is an excellent example of this proposition working in practice.A perfect exemplification of this work is the success of recovery coaches that walk into emergency rooms. When they sit at the bedside of somebody who has just overdosed, and they can tell that person, “Not that long ago, I was exactly where you are now. I was lying in a bed in this hospital after a drug overdose. I was able to find out, and I am here today as a person in recovery to show you how I did it and how you can do it as well.” It’s so much more likely that such an encounter will lead to a person’s life being saved. We need to recruit a workforce that can walk that journey with people from their communities in need of such help. People who can give them the confidence to take that step, tell them about the pitfalls they’ll encounter along the way, and inspire them to start that journey of recovery.
John Lavitt

App Provides Safe, Accessible Recovery Social Media

1 month ago
When Giuseppe Ganci looks at the community of people touched by substance use disorder, he sees too many divides. There are the people who are still actively using, separated from people who are sober and in recovery. The people who practice abstinence or 12 steps are separated from people who take a harm reduction approach.Ganci wants to bring them all together. That’s why he developed Better, an app designed to support people whose lives have been touched by addiction.“We want individuals who are using drugs and those who are in recovery to have a platform to work together on improving their connection to their community,” says Ganci, who is the project manager for Better, and director of community development for Last Door Recovery Society. Better is a social enterprise of Last Door.Using the features of Better, people can support their recovery and overall wellness. The features of Better include:My Recovery WallThe recovery wall is a key feature of Better. It’s designed to let people celebrate all aspects of their recovery, even those that are hard to face.“This is a safe space for people to post about their recovery journeys,” Ganci says. Some aspects of recovery — like fear of relapse — might not be suitable for posting on Facebook or other mainstream media. Better’s Recovery Wall gives people space to make those posts and get support.It’s also a space for people, including professionals, who can’t be open about their recovery on other social media. It’s also more positive — rather than doom scrolling Facebook, people can see posts and inspiration about recovery.Safety NetOne of the most unique aspects of Better is Safety Net. Safety Net is a global overdose prevention tool. People who are using drugs alone can share their location with someone else on the app. Their safety net partner can activate an alarm. If the person using doesn’t turn the alarm off, it may be an indication of an overdose. The volunteer can call emergency services for them, since they know the person’s direct location.“This is a way to make a bridge so that people who are in recovery can support people who are still using,” Ganci says.My Recovery Capital Score This aspect of Better allows people to gamify their recovery, providing some extra motivation. Users can earn recovery capital by doing things like attending digital meetings, journaling or posting on the Recovery Wall.Since Recovery Capital Scores are public, this is another way of building community.“Your friends will know if your points are going down,” says Ganci. “It’s going to help people reach out to people when they need help.”MarketplaceMarketplace allows people in recovery to support other people in the recovery community.“There’s no charge, users can put businesses up for free,” Ganci says.Marketplace also lets people search for sober roommates, and sell or donate items to people who are newly in recovery.“It’s always a struggle being a newcomer," Ganci says.My Recovery PlanMy Recovery Plan is a one-stop shop for keeping track of your short-term and long-term goals, and tracking your progress.Support Circles Support Circles allow group chats for step groups, friend networks, or even alumni groups for treatment centers.People Nearby and LGBTQ SupportThese features allow people to search for people in recovery when they’re traveling. They can make new friends and ask about the local recovery community. The LGBTQ2s Support allows people to connect with people in recovery who have shared values and lifestyles.Recovery Celebrations Recovery Celebrations allows you to congratulate people who are celebrating recovery milestones that day, as well as sharing your own accomplishments.Speaker Tapes and CoachingUsers have access to over 15,000 speaker tapes. The “Higher Power” option allows the app to auto play what you need to hear in that moment. Coaching allows people to connect directly with a recovery coach.MeetingsThis section allows people to connect with their home meeting, without friending or following people on mainstream social media to do so.“It takes away the whole barriers to access in a meeting,” Ganci says.Step WorkStep work features personal growth virtual exercises, decision-making guidance, 12-step exercises to help you live in the solution, and a daily journal.After 13 years in recovery himself and years of working in the recovery industry, Ganci is excited about launching an app that will help more people thrive in recovery, as well as helping others stay safe until they’re ready to change their habits around drugs and alcohol.“I can see how social media has helped recovery become normal, but I also see how not everyone can participate in that conversation about recovery,” he said. Better provides a solution. “It’s all about making recovery attractive. The days of the abstinence community sitting on one side of the room and harm reduction people on the other side of the room are over.”To download the Better app or get more information, visit betterapp.ca.
The Fix staff

10 Celebrities Who Talked About Rehab, Recovery and Relapses Amidst COVID-19

1 month 1 week ago
The loneliness, the boredom, the need to escape reality—COVID-19 has really put the world through a wringer.Even though our social lives have slowed down, stay-at-home orders and the general rollercoaster of the pandemic have thrown us off our routines. It’s easy to see why some are struggling with sobriety and addiction during this time.The age of COVID-19 has been challenging for those looking to stay sober, and celebrities are no exception. Here is a list of 10 celebs who have opened up about rehab, recovery and relapses during the pandemic.Celebs Who Spoke About Addiction in 2020-2021Miley CyrusA major vocal chord surgery in November 2019 forced singer Miley Cyrus into sobriety, but it sparked a positive change in her life. "I did a lot of family history, which has a lot of addiction and mental health challenges,” she said in a Variety interview. “So just going through that and asking, ‘Why am I the way that I am?’ By understanding the past, we understand the present and the future much more clearly.” However, she did struggle during the pandemic: in November 2020, she said that she was two weeks sober after having a setback due to the COVID-19 pandemic. “I fell off and I realized that I now am back on sobriety, two weeks sober, and I feel like I really accepted that time.”Joe RoganAlthough he was temporarily sober for Sober October, Joe Rogan shone a light on sobriety amid the COVID pandemic. “COVID-19 and 2020 as a whole have presented a unique set of obstacles and a great deal of stress. Many people drink alcohol as a way to blow off steam,” he said. “On the flip side, because there are fewer opportunities to attend social get-togethers, parties and large gatherings such as in-person networking events, weddings, concerts and the like that often serve alcohol or offer it. For some people, there may be less of an outside influence to consume alcoholic beverages, too.”MacklemoreOn a podcast interview with “People’s Party With Talib Kweli” in January 2021, the rapper said, “If it wasn't for my pops having the 10 or 12 racks that it was when I first went to treatment [at 25] and [his ability] to spend that on me, I'd be f—ing dead. I wouldn't be here right now. That's not to be f—ing dramatic, that's just what it is. I was about to die." In the same interview, Macklemore discussed how having a sense of community made a positive impact on his recovery. He said, "There is a therapeutic value of one addict to another sharing their experience, strength and hope [and] that has saved my f—ing life and continues to save my life."Demi LovatoIn order to open up about her overdose, singer Demi Lovato thought it would be best to tell her story and “set the record straight” in her upcoming documentary. In July 2018, Lovato overdosed on a reported mix of fentanyl and oxycodone. “I was left with brain damage, and I still deal with that today. I don’t drive a car due to blind spots with my vision and I had a really hard time reading,” Lovato said. The experience also left her with “three strokes, a heart attack and my doctors saying I had five to ten minutes.” According to Lovato, the documentary covers a lot of aspects of her recovery, including substance, mental health, emotional health, and her own spiritual journey. Demi Lovato: Dancing With the Devil is available to watch on YouTube.Jessica SimpsonIn her memoir, Open Book (published in February 2020), Jessica Simpson opens up about her sobriety journey, candidly sharing that her desire for change was sparked on Halloween 2017. “It was 7:30 in the morning and I’d already had a drink,” she wrote. “I was terrified of letting [the kids] see me in that shape. I am ashamed to say that I don’t know who got them into their costumes that night.” In an interview with People, she divulged, “When I finally said I needed help, it was like I was that little girl that found her calling again in life. Honesty is hard, but it’s the most rewarding thing we have. And getting to the other side of fear is beautiful.”Chrissy TeiganOn December 30, 2020, Chrissy Teigan announced on Instagram that she was four weeks sober and giving up alcohol “for good.” She wrote: “I was done with making an ass of myself in front of people (I'm still embarrassed), tired of day drinking and feeling like s—t by 6, not being able to sleep. I have been sober ever since.” The model and cookbook author also said, "I knew in my heart it wasn't right… I used to think it was kind of nutty to have to go totally sober. But now I get it. I don't want to be that person... I have to fix myself."Celebs Celebrating Milestones During COVIDAnthony HopkinsIn December 2020, the Silence of the Lambs star tweeted: “Forty-five years ago today, I had a wake-up call. I was headed for disaster, I was drinking myself to death...A little thought that said, 'Do you want to live or die?' And I said, 'I want to live.' And suddenly the relief came and my life has been amazing.” He continued, “I have my off days and sometimes little bits of doubt and all that… All in all, I say hang in there. Today is the tomorrow you were so worried about yesterday. Young people, don’t give up. Just keep in there.”Elton JohnIn July 2020, Elton John posted to Instagram: “Reflecting on the most magical day having celebrated my 30th Sobriety Birthday...I’m truly a blessed man. If I hadn’t finally taken the big step of asking for help 30 years ago, I’d be dead. Thank-you from the bottom of my heart to all the people who have inspired and supported me along the way.”Tim AllenDuring an appearance on The Kelly Clarkson Show in March 2020, the Home Improvement star talked about how he has been sober for “about 22 years.” “It doesn’t happen overnight,” he said. “It’s a day-to-day thing. You gotta reprise every day.”Florence WelchIn February 2021, the Florence and the Machine singer posted to social media: “I am 7 years sober today. I send my love and support to anyone who is struggling,” she captioned an Instagram post of a heart painting. “If you are feeling shaky around ED issues, drugs or alcohol, I completely understand. The desire to disassociate is so strong. But please don’t give up. We are going to need you on the other side.♥️.” Drive your online success with WebServ.
Preston Powell

The U.S. Alcohol Crisis, Still Deadlier Than the Opioid Epidemic

1 month 1 week ago
As deeply disturbing as the U.S. opioid epidemic is now becoming, having taken a record number of lives - over 81,000, in the 12 months up to May, 2020 - and now being firmly driven to worsening depths by the prevalence of the synthetic opioid fentanyl in virtually every other illicit drug, here’s something else for you to consider:Alcohol, our perfectly legal, yet highly addictive, and potentially deadly substance of choice, continues year-on-year to take even more lives - 95,000, at the last count. Thousands and thousands more.“Because their bodies have become sensitized to alcohol, once they have taken that first drink, the tissues of the body cry out for more and more, until sufferers find that they cannot control the amount of alcohol consumed.One drink is too many - a hundred, not enough.”- John G. Cooney, eminent Irish psychiatrist, lecturer, and author of “Under the Weather: Coping with Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.”Make no mistake, the record death toll from fatal opioid and other drug overdoses is awful, sad and shocking - there is no doubt about that. However, if you are considering which addictive substances require even more education, far greater awareness, especially for our children and adolescents, and significantly more treatment options for all, you would have to look at the biggest killer, and that, by far, is alcohol.Liking “One Too Many Beers” Doesn’t Make Newspaper HeadlinesAlcohol has continued to be the toxic factor in most year-on-year U.S. substance use deaths for decades. Did you know that alcohol has continued to cause at least 88,000 deaths every single year in the U.S. since 2006? In fact, in 2019, it is estimated that 95,000 U.S. citizens died from alcohol-related illness and accidents, making alcohol the third-leading preventable cause of death in the nation.Let that figure sink in for one moment. 95,000. And preventable, too.Alcohol - the “third-leading preventable cause of death”? You would imagine, then, that the conversation about the recent tragic deaths from substance use, substance use disorders (SUDs) and addiction isn’t focused on the biggest killer, alcohol or alcohol use disorders (AUDs), at all - pandemic or no pandemic.However, the conversation continues to be placed “fairly and squarely” onto drugs, and those who take those drugs, who get their “product” from shady, downtown street corners, purchased from criminals, too - not on those who drink alcohol, perfectly legally (as long as they’re old enough to know better), and who get their tax-generating “product” from corner supermarkets and liquor stores, purchased from normal, law-abiding folk. Folk like you and me.“Alcoholism is an addiction - it’s just one type of addiction. When you break out the specific things that someone who is suffering from alcoholism contends with, they are no different from any other type of addict.”- Dr. John Sharp, M.D., Harvard Medical SchoolThe hard truth of the matter is this: the hard-working, blue-collar guy who shifts of few bottles a beer on his way home after a long day, or the housewife who sneaks a bottle of wine during her lonely day spent at home, do not look upon themselves as “addicts,” and they would be the first to tell you that they are certainly nothing like the media’s constant portrayal of “addicts” as desperate, potentially dangerous people.That’s the simple truth, and the reality of how alcohol has always been viewed in the U.S… “He’s ok, salt of the earth - just likes his beer is all.”Now if that doesn’t tell you we have a seriously long way to go in addressing the unnecessary shame and stigma surrounding substance use and mental health issues in this country, well… monkey’s uncle, and all that.Legal, Easily Available & AcceptableAlcohol doesn’t attract constant media attention as a serious and dangerous killer in the U.S. because it’s legal, it’s easily available, it’s socially acceptable, and those who misuse it aren’t “desperate, potentially dangerous people.” They would consider themselves the exact opposite - quite “normal.”However, should it be considered “normal” when alcohol drives its related death rate in women up a colossal 85% in the space of just 10 years (from 2007 to 2017, to be exact)? In fact, with 95,000 people dying every year now in the U.S., should it be not called what it actually is - an alcohol epidemic? Alcohol: The Subtle & Immediate DangersThe majority of people still know and understand the dangers of high alcohol consumption and AUDs, eg. serious health problems, like liver damage. However, much of the physical damage done by alcohol can be initially subtle, often immediate, and can act as a contributing factor to other serious health issues. Examples of this include:Cardiovascular Symptoms: Alcohol causes cardiomyopathy, which is a disease of the heart muscle, making it harder for your heart to pump blood around your body. This decreases how much blood the left ventricle pumps out with each contraction, known as “ejection fraction,” greatly increasing the real risk of congestive heart failure. As you can imagine, that’s fatal.Furthermore, cardiac arrhythmia, an irregular beating of the heart, can be caused by a few days of hard drinking, and is often called “holiday heart syndrome.” Additionally, it can lead to atrial fibrillation - a fast and irregular heart rhythm. The heart rate in atrial fibrillation can range from 100 to a massive 175 beats a minute. Lastly, alcohol is also associated with high blood pressure and increased stroke risk, particularly among women.Pancytopenia: This serious, yet not fatal condition (in itself, that is), occurs when the bone marrow can only produce limited amounts of blood cells, causing the body’s cell count of red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets to be low. The cessation of alcohol consumption is usually enough for recovery.Dementia: Excessive alcohol consumption can cause the development of a type of dementia, known as alcohol dementia, understandable considering its drastic effects on the brain. However, alcohol dementia is quite different from Alzheimer’s, and is becoming increasingly more common as dementia diagnoses become more accurate.Cancer: Alcohol is associated with an increased risk of cancer, notably esophageal, liver, mouth, throat, and colorectal cancer. Additionally, it also increases the risk of breast cancer in women.Immune Suppression: Regular alcohol use makes you more susceptible to infections - vital to know during a viral pandemic.Sadly, the truth is your family physician will often overlook alcohol as a contributing factor to your illness, such as the previously mentioned congestive heart failure or atrial fibrillation. However, this “traditional” approach is now changing as more and more healthcare professionals are trained in the vast range in effects of substance use disorders.Mental Health Disorders: Alcohol, among other things, is a powerful central nervous system depressant. Because of the euphoric feeling people get from alcohol, they often don’t believe that drinking alcohol when they are anxious or depressed can further worsen these mental health issues, and, perhaps, lead to an active disorder, eg. major depressive disorder, also known as clinical depression.In fact, a prime example of this direct link in action was seen last year. You’d best read on. We haven’t finished yet, and, unfortunately, neither has alcohol...2020: A Year of Increased Alcohol Use & Decreased Mental HealthIn November 2020, the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board announced colossal increases in statewide online alcohol purchases, like much of the rest of the U.S. In Pennsylvania, the statistics were quite incredible, when compared to the previous year: Unit alcohol sales increased by 851%, and dollar alcohol sales increased by 436%.Furthermore, in 2020, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) National Helpline - 800-662-HELP - for individuals and families seeking either mental health or substance use disorder support saw a 27% increase in phone calls year-on-year.In one particular medical research study, “Alcohol Consumption during the COVID-19 Pandemic: A Cross-Sectional Survey of US Adults,” it was found that nearly two-thirds of the participants reported that their drinking had increased in 2020 when compared with their drinking pre-pandemic, citing a number of reasons, including increased stress, anxiety, ease of alcohol purchase online, and, obviously, sheer boredom.In terms of the nation’s declining mental health, another research study, conducted by the NYU School of Global Public Health, found that people with anxiety and depression were more likely to report an increase in drinking alcohol during the COVID-19 pandemic than those without mental health issues.“This increase in drinking, particularly among people with anxiety and depression, is consistent with concerns that the pandemic may be triggering an epidemic of problematic alcohol use.”- Ariadna Capasso, NYU School of Global Public Health doctoral student, and the above study’s author“Triggering an epidemic of problematic alcohol use”? We’re already there, Ariadna. In fact, we’re probably far, far beyond anything seen before. Furthermore, in the NYU study, the clear link between mental health and increased alcohol consumption was evidenced by the following findings:29% of participants increased their alcohol use during 2020; however, those with symptoms of a depressive disorder were 64% more likely to have increased alcohol useYounger respondents (aged 19-39) had the highest probability of reporting increased alcohol use - regardless of their mental health status, andAdults over the age of 40 with poor mental health were far more likely to report increased drinkingAlcohol Abuse: A Significant Factor in COVID-19 InfectionNumerous studies pre-pandemic and mid-pandemic (as we are now) have all acknowledged the direct link between alcohol abuse and other forms of substance abuse with a greater infection risk for COVID-19. One particular study, “Clinical Vulnerability for Severity and Mortality by COVID-19 among Users of Alcohol and Other Substances,” carried out by the Center for Drug and Alcohol Research, in Porto Alegre, Brazil, found that not only are individuals with addiction more susceptible to a worse COVID-19 prognosis, but additionally, alcohol, crack cocaine and polydrug users had distinct vulnerability factors for the virus.The Link Between Alcohol & Opioid OverdosesOne of the main drivers of the huge increase in fatal drug overdoses seen last year was polyuse, where, knowingly or unknowingly, users combine substances; for example, knowingly, opioids with alcohol, and, unknowingly, methamphetamine cut with fentanyl. In fact, in 2017, considered the peak of the opioid epidemic before 2020, 15% of opioid-related deaths, or 1 in 7, involved alcohol.Why? Because alcohol is a central nervous system depressant, and will contribute negatively to the respiratory depression seen in opioid overdoses - the reason why people die.Furthermore, from 2012 to 2014, more than 2 million people who misused their prescription opioids were also binge drinkers, twice as many as nondrinkers. Evidence indicates that around 23% of people who currently have an opioid use disorder (OUD) have a concurrent AUD.Changing People’s Perspectives: An Uphill BattleThe National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), among other similar organizations, has since understood that public perceptions about alcohol, particularly what constitutes “low-risk” vs. “high-risk” alcohol consumption, have been very wide of the mark. In response, the NIAAA has since created a new website, titled “Rethinking Drinking,” to highlight the extent of these clear misperceptions.The new website has a wealth of evidence-based information about alcohol and its consumption, such as how much is too much, strategies for cutting down your alcohol intake, and a list of essential help links, with contact information for social support services like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and other mutual aid groups.When it comes to changing people’s perspectives about a health issue, alas, it’s an uphill battle - or more accurately, “upmountain” when you consider the huge volume of misinformation circulating in 2020 about COVID-19 (and it’s still circulating, too).The trouble with perceptions nowadays is our world of digital technology, where one online fact is easily disputed with another online “fact.” However, sometimes, it takes more than researched, evidential statistics, published by leading public bodies, like the CDC, to change people’s minds. Unfortunately, for some people, it takes real, first-hand experience of the issue, and, when it comes to the dangers of alcohol, that’s sadly the premature death of a loved one.
Robert Castan

Last Door Recovery Society

1 month 1 week ago
Last Door Recovery Society, in British Columbia, Canada, has been providing addiction treatment for men and male youth for over 35 years. They offer youth and adult programs with substantial family support, and a “10 day intro to recovery” for individuals who may not be ready to commit to longer-term inpatient care but want to explore that option. More than just a rehab, Last Door is “an inclusive supportive addiction recovery community.” People come to Last Door to find recovery from drug and alcohol addiction, gambling addiction, video game addiction, internet addiction, and nicotine addiction. Last Door is located in New Westminster, a community that has become known as the Recovery Capital of Canada. Keystone, their 40-acre rural property one hour from Metro Vancouver, provides horticultural, wilderness, and recreational therapy.One of the things that sets Last Door apart is the level of participation from their alumni as mentors and volunteers. When invited to participate in a survey for the purpose of this review, more than 90 former residents responded, from recent graduates to alumni who completed the program more than 30 years ago. The bonds formed between residents and alumni have created an unbroken chain of mutual support spanning decades.Last Door alumni describe their fellow residents as coming from a wide range of economic backgrounds, “From homeless to professionals earning 6 or 7 figures,” with diverse histories. Some describe desperate circumstances that led them to Last Door: “I was thinking of doing an armed robbery at 7-11 to get high or go to jail.” A family member connected him with a Last Door alum and he ended up staying for seven months. Many people find their way to Last Door through referrals from former residents, who refer to themselves and others as “Door Boys.” Last Door is well established and connected to the local community, and many clients are also referred by detox facilities, other therapeutic communities, and courts. For this reason, Last Door is the first choice for many people who live in the area. For others it is quite literally the last door: “I was in deep addiction for 35 years, went through many other treatment centres with no luck.” Said another, “A friend told me about Last Door and the success they had with him. I saw the change in him and I wanted it.” His friend, like many alumni, not only referred him, but helped facilitate the transition. The gentleman went on to describe his time at Last Door as “An amazing experience.”Residents’ lengths of stay vary quite a bit, from a few months to a year or more. Some graduates go on to volunteer or become staff members. The youth program (13-18) is based on a “social model” which offers scaffolding in all areas to “improve overall functioning,” with the goal of improving self-esteem and decision-making skills. There is ongoing aftercare support for this group in the form of “Emerging Adult” alumni groups. One resident noted that their peers “were not excited to be in treatment at first” but after some time they became “invested in the other people there and made recovery look fun.” Another alum of the youth program reports that they “made great friends, and worked through problems with people I didn’t like.”Alumni were enthusiastic about the food at Last Door, describing “fresh home-cooked cuisine,” “comfort food,” and “Great variety of healthy, hearty and gourmet meals from day to day” with plenty of leftovers. While nutritious options are always available, one alum recalls that “Meals weren’t always healthy but were always delicious.” Another described “calorie dense” meals “centered on making opioid addicts gain weight.” Coffee, tea, and juices are always available, as well as snacks like fruit, trail mix, chips, and babybel cheese. “Dinners were what you'd get from a really good restaurant,” with a variety of proteins, including steak or ribs on Fridays, “everything carefully made by a trained Chef.” Residents also described “out of this world potlucks” and “amazing” weekend brunches. Least favorite items mentioned were “fish” and “curry.”Accommodations at Last Door are shared, sometimes with four people in one large room. “Relationship skills were gained,” said one alum. “I learned to get along with all kinds of people.” Chores are divided, but “everyone has a chore they must attend to twice daily, which can be anything from cleaning to helping make meals.” Daily life is structured and based around NA meetings in the mornings and evenings. There is group therapy and free time, spent “hanging out with each other,” going to the gym, and “going on outings.” As residents progress through the levels of treatment, they may transition into working an outside job.Most alumni felt that staff were fair when it came to infractions. Misbehavior such as “smoking, aggression, poor attitudes” or “leaving the property” (without permission or notice) was handled “swiftly and evenly. No grey areas.” Depending on the severity of the transgression, discipline could include completing “written exercises,” doing “extra chores," or having "restrictions on access to certain activities." In extreme cases, a resident could be discharged. Generally, “the punishment fit the crime and was usually pretty fair,” and infractions were treated “diligently, respectfully, and sternly.” A few alumni complained that some staff were “unprofessional” and exhibited “favoritism."Amenities at Last Door include a main gym and pool about a 20-minute walk away, weekly yoga and acupuncture, music therapy, martial arts, meditation, and more. Residents are encouraged to get involved with the greater recovery community and participate in NA dances and Recovery Day. Outdoor activities include “bowling, hiking, swimming, paintball,” volley-ball, and frisbee. Keystone, Last Door’s countryside retreat facility, was described as a “fantastic break from the centre while still continuing that fantastic fellowship and the recovery,” while another alum felt that “Keystone was definitely a good experience but not always accessible to everyone and not equally distributed.” Other off-site excursions are encouraged as long as they are approved by staff. Rules governing access to phones and the internet vary depending on the level of treatment. People in the early stages are not allowed to have their phones (or any personal money). After a set amount of time, phone use is allowed in non-group times as long as staff and other residents agree that there will be no misuse. Unsupervised emailing is not allowed, and internet access is only available at the library. TV is available on the weekends, and some alumni reported watching movies three times a week. While transitioning to working at a job, these rules are variable and determined in consultation with one’s caseworker.A doctor is on site at Last Door once a week (as well as on call 24 hours), and there is a clinic about ten minutes away. Alumni praised the doctors as being “very helpful and compassionate,” “extremely easy to be around,” and “extremely knowledgeable in dealing with addicts specifically.”According to the alumni who took our survey, Last Door is a 12-step- and social model-based program, and not centered around religion, although “anyone was free to practice whatever religion they believed in.” The treatment is “very strict in terms of having to follow the rules and participate” and “very much a 'tough-love' approach in that they did not coddle us or baby us." However, “the counsellors and staff were also very supportive, patient and empathetic.”Since leaving Last Door, the majority of the respondents who took our survey have remained clean, sober, and/or abstinent, with one “coming up on 30 years.” Some have relapsed and come back, crediting Last Door with providing “a deep recovery foundation.” Many have stuck around, volunteering at Last Door after finishing treatment. “You feel like you are part of a family,” one alum said, describing the “supportive camaraderie” that ensures “nobody gets left behind.” In fact, after completing treatment, you keep your facility key so “you can come and go as you like, if you want to drop by to have lunch, attend a group session or just visit and hang with the new guys.”When asked what Last Door could do better, most alumni felt that Last Door was already “the most effective treatment centre,” or that they should “add more beds.” Some respondents, however, felt there should be more “awareness on mental health” and a better “platform for mental illness treatment,” with “mental health evaluations when you enter treatment” and counselors with “better credentials.” Overwhelmingly, the alumni who took our survey had high praise for their entire experience at Last Door. Describing the group therapy sessions, one alum recalls “An incredible amount of recovery, healing, tears and growth took place during nearly every group session.” Another resident is grateful for forming “genuine connections with people. And learning to love myself.” One former resident describes “ feeling a sense of belonging and connection for the first time in so long. Having a strong recovery community of men who support each other was something I’ve never had before.” One alum echoed many others’ feelings with this final thought: “A part of me will always be there.. and for that I am forever grateful.” 
The Fix staff

Doctors More Likely to Prescribe Opioids to Covid ‘Long Haulers,’ Raising Addiction Fears

1 month 2 weeks ago
Covid survivors are at risk from a separate epidemic of opioid addiction, given the high rate of painkillers being prescribed to these patients, health experts say.A new study in Nature found alarmingly high rates of opioid use among covid survivors with lingering symptoms at Veterans Health Administration facilities. About 10% of covid survivors develop “long covid,” struggling with often disabling health problems even six months or longer after a diagnosis.For every 1,000 long-covid patients, known as “long haulers,” who were treated at a Veterans Affairs facility, doctors wrote nine more prescriptions for opioids than they otherwise would have, along with 22 additional prescriptions for benzodiazepines, which include Xanax and other addictive pills used to treat anxiety.Although previous studies have found many covid survivors experience persistent health problems, the new article is the first to show they’re using more addictive medications, said Dr. Ziyad Al-Aly, the paper’s lead author.He’s concerned that even an apparently small increase in the inappropriate use of addictive pain pills will lead to a resurgence of the prescription opioid crisis, given the large number of covid survivors. More than 3 million of the 31 million Americans infected with covid develop long-term symptoms, which can include fatigue, shortness of breath, depression, anxiety and memory problems known as “brain fog.”The new study also found many patients have significant muscle and bone pain.The frequent use of opioids was surprising, given concerns about their potential for addiction, said Al-Aly, chief of research and education service at the VA St. Louis Health Care System.“Physicians now are supposed to shy away from prescribing opioids,” said Al-Aly, who studied more than 73,000 patients in the VA system. When Al-Aly saw the number of opioids prescriptions, he said, he thought to himself, “Is this really happening all over again?”Doctors need to act now, before “it’s too late to do something,” Al-Aly said. “We must act now and ensure that people are getting the care they need. We do not want this to balloon into a suicide crisis or another opioid epidemic.”As more doctors became aware of their addictive potential, new opioid prescriptions fell, by more than half since 2012. But U.S. doctors still prescribe far more of the drugs — which include OxyContin, Vicodin and codeine — than physicians in other countries, said Dr. Andrew Kolodny, medical director of opioid policy research at Brandeis University.Some patients who became addicted to prescription painkillers switched to heroin, either because it was cheaper or because they could no longer obtain opioids from their doctors. Overdose deaths surged in recent years as drug dealers began spiking heroin with a powerful synthetic opioid called fentanyl.More than 88,000 Americans died from overdoses during the 12 months ending in August 2020, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Health experts now advise doctors to avoid prescribing opioids for long periods.The new study “suggests to me that many clinicians still don’t get it,” Kolodny said. “Many clinicians are under the false impression that opioids are appropriate for chronic pain patients.”Hospitalized covid patients often receive a lot of medication to control pain and anxiety, especially in intensive care units, said Dr. Greg Martin, president of the Society of Critical Care Medicine. Patients placed on ventilators, for example, are often sedated to make them more comfortable.Martin said he’s concerned by the study’s findings, which suggest patients are unnecessarily continuing medications after leaving the hospital.“I worry that covid-19 patients, especially those who are severely and critically ill, receive a lot of medications during the hospitalization, and because they have persistent symptoms, the medications are continued after hospital discharge,” Martin said.While some covid patients are experiencing muscle and bone pain for the first time, others say the illness has intensified their preexisting pain.Rachael Sunshine Burnett has suffered from chronic pain in her back and feet for 20 years, ever since an accident at a warehouse where she once worked. But Burnett, who first was diagnosed with covid in April 2020, said the pain soon became 10 times worse and spread to the area between her shoulders and spine. Although she was already taking long-acting OxyContin twice a day, her doctor prescribed an additional opioid called oxycodone, which relieves pain immediately. She was reinfected with covid in December.“It’s been a horrible, horrible year,” said Burnett, 43, of Coxsackie, New York.Doctors should recognize that pain can be a part of long covid, Martin said. “We need to find the proper non-narcotic treatment for it, just like we do with other forms of chronic pain,” he said.The CDC recommends a number of alternatives to opioids — from physical therapy to biofeedback, over-the-counter anti-inflammatories, antidepressants and anti-seizure drugs that also relieve nerve pain.The country also needs an overall strategy to cope with the wave of post-covid complications, Al-Aly said“It’s better to be prepared than to be caught off guard years from now, when doctors realize … ‘Oh, we have a resurgence in opioids,’” Al-Aly said.Al-Aly noted that his study may not capture the full complexity of post-covid patient needs. Although women make up the majority of long-covid patients in most studies, most patients in the VA system are men.The study of VA patients makes it “abundantly clear that we are not prepared to meet the needs of 3 million Americans with long covid,” said Dr. Eric Topol, founder and director of the Scripps Research Translational Institute. “We desperately need an intervention that will effectively treat these individuals.”Al-Aly said covid survivors may need care for years.“That’s going to be a huge, significant burden on the health care system,” Al-Aly said. “Long covid will reverberate in the health system for years or even decades to come.” Subscribe to KHN's free Morning Briefing.
Liz Szabo

Punk Rock Powers My Recovery Every Day

1 month 2 weeks ago
I was a disheveled and bedraggled disaster of a person back in the winter of 2012. I lived for alcohol. If beer was the entrée, crack-cocaine was my digestif. But after an intervention and rehab, I’ve been sober nine years now. I never could’ve done it without music.Even though I had spent most of my career working in the music industry as a producer for MTV News, music wasn’t really a significant part of my life during the worst of my drinking days. But when I was a teen and again now, music has been of utmost importance. Now as an adult I realize music is better than sex. It’s better than drugs. And it’s better than alcohol. It’s a natural high. If given a choice between music and drugs, I choose music. Starting with punk.A Youth in Revolt“Where do you go now when you’re only 15?”Rancid, “Roots Radical,” off the 1994 album And Out Come the WolvesI’ve always felt like a bit of an outcast. As someone who struggles with the dual diagnosis of addiction and bipolar disorder, in a way, I am. But I’m proud to be an outcast, and my punk rock upbringing only reaffirmed that being different is cool.In the spring of 1995, March 9th to be exact — 26 years ago — I experienced my very first punk show. It was Rancid with the Lunachicks at the Metro in Chicago. I still have the ticket stub. I was 15. And in that crowd of about 1,000, I felt like I belonged. I had found my tribe. It was a moment that would transport me on a decades-long excursion, one that finds my punk rock heart still beating now and forever.I often think in retrospect that maybe there were signs and signals of my bipolar status as I grew up. I was in fact different from the others. And I was experiencing bouts of depression inside the halls and walls of high school. Freshman and sophomore years in particular I did not fit in. I was the quiet kid who had barely any friends. I didn’t belong to a social clique like everyone else. I was a rebel in disguise. Until I found punk rock. Then I let it all hang out."Once a punk, always a punk."Rock ‘n’ Roll High SchoolI am a Catholic school refugee. Punk was my escape from the horrific bullying I experienced in high school. Back then, the kids from the suburbs threw keggers. We city kids — I had three or four punk rock friends — were pretty much sober, save for smoking the occasional bowl of weed if we had any. We were definitely overwhelmingly the minority at school as there were probably only five or so of us in a school of 1,400. For the most part, though, we found our own fun at music venues like the Fireside Bowl and the Metro. We went to shows every weekend at the now-defunct Fireside – the CBGB or punk mecca of Chicago that used to host $5 punk and ska shows almost every night.The Fireside was dilapidated but charming. It was a rundown bowling alley in a rough neighborhood with a small stage in the corner. You couldn’t actually bowl there and the ceiling felt like it was going to cave in. It was a smoke-filled room with a beer-soaked carpet. Punks sported colorful mohawks, and silver-studded motorcycle jackets. Every show was $5.My few friends and I practically lived at the Fireside. We also drove to punk shows all over the city and suburbs of Chicago – from VFW Halls to church basements to punk houses.The Fireside has since been fixed up and has become a working bowling alley with no live music. A casualty of my youth. But it was a cathedral of music for me when it was still a working club. After every show, we would cruise Lake Shore Drive blasting The Clash or The Ramones. I felt so comfortable in my own skin during those halcyon days.Fat Mike of NOFX at Riot Fest in Chicago, 2012Punk Up the VolumePunk isn’t just a style of music, it’s a dynamic idea. It’s about grassroots activism and power to the people. It’s about sticking up for the little guy, empowering the youth, lifting up the poor, and welcoming the ostracized.Punk is inherently anti-establishment. Punk values celebrate that which is abnormal. It is also about pointing out hypocrisy in politics and standing up against politicians who wield too much power and influence, and are racist, homophobic, transphobic, and xenophobic.Everyone is welcome under the umbrella of punk rock. And if you are a musician, they say all you need to play punk is three chords and a bad attitude. Fast and loud is punk at its core.They say “once a punk, always a punk” and it’s true.Punk was and still is sacred and liturgical to me. The music mollified my depression and made me feel a sense of belonging. I went wherever punk rock took me. My ethos — developed through the lens of the punk aesthetic — still pulses through my punk rock veins. It is entrenched in every fiber of my being.Godfather of Punk Iggy Pop at Riot Fest in Chicago, 2015A New DayNow, whether it’s on Spotify on the subway or on vinyl at home, I listen to music intently two to three hours a day. Music is my TV. It’s not just on in the background; I give it my full, undivided attention.I started collecting vinyl about eight years ago right around the time I got sober and I have since amassed more than 100 record albums. There’s a reason why people in audiophile circles refer to vinyl as “black crack.” It’s addictive.I’m glad I’m addicted to something abstract, something that is not a substance. A music addiction is cheaper than alcohol and drugs. And not only that, it’s healthy, invigorating, fun, and liberating.And while my music taste continues to evolve, I’m still a punk rocker through and through. My love affair with punk may have started 26 years ago, but it soldiers on today, even though I mostly listen to indie rock and jazz these days. I recently started bleaching my hair again, platinum blonde as I had when I was a punker back in high school. It’s fun and it also hides the greys.Looking back on my musical self, I knew there was a reason why I can feel the music. Why tiny little flourishes of notes or guitar riffs or drumbeats can make my entire body tingle instantly. Why lyrics speak to me like the Bible and the sound of a needle dropping and popping on a record fills me with anticipationPunk is a movement that lives inside me. It surrounds me. It grounds me. Fifteen or 41 years-old, I’m a punk rocker for life. I’d rather be a punk rocker than an active alcoholic. I’m a proud music addict. I get my fix every day. Please enjoy and subscribe to this Spotify playlist I made of old-school punk anthems and new classics. It’s by no means comprehensive, but it’s pretty close.
Conor Bezane