Category Archives: Treatment Programs

Does Smoking Inhibit Recovery?

One of the most common sites to see in a treatment facility is cigarette smoking. Clients and counselors often engage in smoking as a way to temporarily reduce stress, socialize and still feed at least one of their addictions. However, new research is showing that smoking can also be a serious hindrance to maintaining sobriety.

Researchers at Columbia University’s School of Public Health investigated data gathered from 35,000 adults, specifically looking at rate of relapse after treatment. They found that people who smoke before treatment and continue doing so afterward are nearly twice as likely to relapse as non-smokers.

This information is especially interesting because of the current take on smoking in most treatment centers. Since coming off of drugs can be so stressful and patients are often having to work through painful past experiences, smoking is accepted because it is a “lesser” addiction. However, according to this research it can be detrimental.

“If research continues to show a relationship between smoking and relapse to substance use among those in recovery, making tobacco treatment a standard part of treatment for illicit substance use disorders may be a critical service to provide to adults toward improving substance treatment outcomes over the long term,” commented Renee Goodwin, author of the study.

Perhaps some of the indicators of having a compulsive behavior tied to a chemical leaves a pathway open in the brain that makes people more susceptible to relapse. Whereas research into neuroplasticity has shown that the brain can be “re-trained” to create new pathways and behaviors, maintaining an active addiction to nicotine may prevent that re-writing process from occurring.

The Surgeon General’s Report on Addiction

US Surgeon General Calls for Holistic Approach in Addiction Treatment

Surgeon General's Report on Addiction

The US Surgeon General has issued the first report of its kind on the subject of substance abuse. In it, Dr. Vivek Murthy issued a direct call to action to stop what he has said is a “public health crisis of drug and alcohol addiction that is both underappreciated and undertreated.”

US Drug Use and Overdose Statistics

Dr. Murthy pointed out that the number of US deaths from drug overdoses reached 47,055 in 2014, which was a record number according to statistics provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This figure represented a 6.5 percent increase over previous years.

The government has requested additional funds to address the serious issue of drug addiction. President Barack Obama has made a request for additional funding of US$ 1.1 billion to help combat the problem. Opioid painkiller abuse is of particular concern, with drugs such as fentanyl, oxycodone, hydrocodone and morphine being at the forefront of the public’s attention.

In 2015, the number of people who have reported either using illegal drugs or misusing prescription drugs has hit 27 million. Close to one-quarter of all adolescents and adults (66 million people) have reported engaging in an episode of binge drinking during the past month.

Early Intervention Important: Surgeon General

Dr. Murthy’s report calls for a holistic approach to taking on the issue of addiction. It should involve a number of entities and organizations, from policy makers and regulators to communities, schools and families. One of Dr. Murthy’s goals is to increase access to existing treatment programs and to expand the number of programs available.

His report also discussed the importance of early intervention in schools to teach children about the dangers of alcohol use. Dr. Murthy pointed out that if a young person has their first drink before they turn 15, they are four times more likely to develop an alcohol problem than if they postponed their first drink to after age 21.

Dr. Murthy’s model for his approach is the 1964 Surgeon General’s report on tobacco. At that time, approximately 42 percent of the US population smoked, but few people recognized the dangers of tobacco products. Through the work of the campaign, the public was made aware of the health consequences of smoking, and the current smoking rate is below 17 percent.

Preventing Opioid Addiction Goal of New Michigan Surgical Initiative

doctor prescribing opiatesMichigan, like other states, has been hit hard by America’s drug epidemic. A team from the University of Michigan (U-M) is taking action against a key factor in the problem: opioids being prescribed to patients both before and after surgery.

The Department of Health and Human Services will be providing a grant of $1.4 million in funding per year over each of the next five years ($7 million total funding), which will be matched by U-M. The team will be launching an initiative that will help doctors and hospitals across Michigan address surgical patients’ pain without putting them at high risk for becoming new chronic opioid users, misusers or addicts.

Michigan Opioid Engagement Network Will Prescribe Fewer Narcotics

The program, called the Michigan Opioid Engagement Network (Michigan OPEN), has set as its goal to reduce the number of opioids being prescribed to Michigan surgery patients by 50 percent. It also wants to lower the number of patients still using opioids several months after surgery by the same rate.

Based in the U-M Medical School and Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation, Michigan-OPEN will work with existing networks of hospitals, doctors and nurses across the state. The team will be working with 12 of these networks to understand and use best practices for managing pain for their patients, which includes using opioid pain medications wisely.

“Surgeons prescribe nearly 40 percent of opioid painkillers in Michigan, but have few resources to guide them on best use of the drugs by patients before and after surgery,” according to Chad Brummett, M.D., who is of Michigan-OPEN’s three leaders and the director of the Division of Pain Research in the U-M Department of Anesthesiology. “We hope that by working with surgical teams across the state, we can fill that gap for the benefit of individual patients and our state as a whole.”

According to U-M researchers, approximately 10 percent of patients who weren’t taking opioid medications before they undergo surgery become dependent on them after the procedure. This dependency can open the door to misuse and addiction to prescription and illegal drugs.

How Michigan-OPEN Will Help to Prevent Addiction

Opioid abuse in Michigan is already a widespread issue that costs the state nearly $2 billion each year. Mortality rates are increasing faster than in other states. Michigan-OPEN will move quickly to distribute evidence-based information and advice to health care teams and treatment programs statewide.

Special attention will be paid to patients currently on Medicaid insurance. Patients in this category make up 12 percent of those having surgery, but account for close to one-third of those who develop a post-surgical opioid dependence.

Michigan-OPEN will also work with patients who are already taking opioids prior to surgery. A U-M study has found that care for these patients costs nine percent more than for patients who did not use opioids before their procedure. It also resulted in more complications and readmissions than for patients of similar age, health and insurance status.

Michigan-OPEN teams will work with patients and their healthcare team to create strategies they can use to reduce the number and level of opioids being prescribed and dependence on these types of drugs. One strategy that can be implemented is for surgeons to discuss pain management expectations and concerns with the patient before surgery.

Wrapping up Recovery Month 2016

recoveryAs yet another Recovery Month comes to a close today, we wanted to take a bit of time an reflect on the meaning of recovery. In truth, recovery can mean different things to different people.

A general definition for recovery is “a return to a normal state of health, mind, or strength,” but that doesn’t really tell the whole story in terms of addiction.

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), their working definition of recovery is: ” A process of change through which individuals improve their health and wellness, live a self-directed life, and strive to reach their full potential.”

samhsarecovdefThrough the Recovery Support Strategic Initiative, SAMHSA has delineated four major dimensions that support a life in recovery. These areas encompass what are often considered the most important parts of life, although some may feel that family and religion could be added. But, these can also be part of the greater category of community, below.

  • Health – Overcoming or managing one’s disease(s) or symptoms—for example, abstaining from use of alcohol, illicit drugs, and non-prescribed medications if one has an addiction problem— and for everyone in recovery, making informed, healthy choices that support physical and emotional wellbeing.
  • Home – A stable and safe place to live.
  • Purpose – Meaningful daily activities, such as a job, school, volunteerism, family caretaking, or creative endeavors, and the independence, income and resources to participate in society.
  • Community – Relationships and social networks that provide support, friendship, love, and hope.

They also have 10 Guiding Principles of Recovery, which include Hope, Person-Driven, Many Pathways, Holistic, Peer Support, Relational, Culture, Addresses Trauma, Strengths/Responsibility, and Respect.

Regardless of what each person’s individual definition of recovery may be, we feel it is imperative for us all to be supportive of one another in this journey. Just because your definition may include things that others do not, it doesn’t mean they are wrong or somehow missing something. Yes, it’s fine to share opinions and successes, but they shouldn’t come at the expense of someone else’s progress in their own lives.

Instead, let’s celebrate not just recovery, but the experience of life as a whole, for these are the reasons for living in the first place. If you would like help getting started on your path to recovery, contact us today to speak with a treatment consultant who can help you find appropriate resources.

Surgeon General Asks All Doctors to Help Reduce Prescription Opioid Problem

sgrxThe 19th Surgeon General of the United States of America, Vivek H. Murthy, M.D., M.B.A., has issued a landmark letter to all physicians seeking help to address the opioid epidemic in the country. He acknowledges the critical role that doctors have played in partially creating the problem through the over-prescription of narcotics, while at the same time asserts that they can help to greatly reduce the crisis as well.

“Everywhere I travel, I see communities devastated by opioid overdoses. I meet families too ashamed to seek treatment for addiction,” Dr. Murthy wrote, citing that overdose deaths have quadrupled in America since 1999.

He also noted that the responsibility is shared with pharmaceutical companies as well as patients, stating, “Nearly two decades ago, we were encouraged to be more aggressive about treating pain, often without enough training and support to do so safely. This coincided with heavy marketing of opioids to doctors. Many of us were even taught – incorrectly – that opioids are not addictive when prescribed for legitimate pain.”

Dr. Murthy asked his fellow physicians to take a pledge to reduce prescription opioid abuse at a special website set up at, which also includes helpful information on recommended prescribing practices, non-narcotic alternatives for treating pain, resources for patients who become addicted and other helpful information. The goal is to address the problem from all sides within their profession.

“First, we will educate ourselves to treat pain safely and effectively. A good place to start is the enclosed pocket card with the CDC Opioid Prescribing Guideline. Second, we will screen our patients for opioid use disorder and provide or connect them with evidence-based treatment. Third, we can shape how the rest of the country sees addiction by talking about and treating it as a chronic illness, not a moral failing,” the Surgeon General wrote.

If you have a loved one who is battling an opioid dependency, contact us today to speak with a treatment consultant who can help you find an appropriate rehab center.

Report: Most Insurance Plans Provide Inadequate Addiction Treatment Coverage

CASA report addiction treatment  insurance coverageA new report from the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University found that more than two-thirds of insurance policies violate the Affordable Healthcare Act (ACA) regulations concerning coverage for addiction treatment services. The report is titled Uncovering Coverage Gaps: A Review of Addiction Benefits in ACA Plans.

Although the passage of parity for behavioral health coverage and the ACA have helped many more people gain access to substance abuse treatment programs, there is still a major problem with coverage. The report also found that 18 percent of the plans aren’t sufficient in complying with parity requirements, and none of them provide comprehensive coverage for all of the services that are deemed critical without prohibitive limits on benefits.

“Our findings reveal that people with addiction may not be receiving effective treatment because insurance plans aren’t covering the full range of evidence-based care,” said Lindsey Vuolo, JD, MPH, Associate Director of Health Law and Policy at The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse, and lead author of the report. “For example, our review did not find a single state that covers all of the approved medications used to treat opioid addiction.”

One of the problems we have seen on the ground level is not enough days approved for treatment. Patients and facilities are often having to submit for reauthorization of inpatient treatment after only a few days, for example, when if they were really interested in helping people get the most effective care then they would approve more days to start with.

“While insurance can definitely be a life-saver and more people are able to gain access to treatment now because of it, there is a fundamental flaw in the insurance system,” comments Lucas Catton, CEO of Advanced Recovery Resources, “The end goal for most of the companies is to make money for their shareholders, so by default they have to try and reduce their payouts in any way possible.” Catton acknowledges that any company has to take in more than it spends, but perhaps there is still a need for more non-profit insurance companies if they can navigate the pitfalls.

There have been some major shifts in the addiction treatment field in the past decade where insurance coverage is concerned. Application of better regulatory practices could help to standardize things, keep predatory facilities from unethical billing practices, and help people have more complete coverage for the rehabilitation services they need and deserve.

Drug Rehab Reviews

reviewsReviews are among the hottest trends in the treatment industry for both consumers/potential clients as well as facilities. People seeking help for themselves or loved ones want to be able to get third party validation of rehab centers from someone else who has been there before. This is completely understandable, and there should be references available, but how many of the reviews out there are legitimate?

Websites for drug rehab reviews and other listing sites that have reviews and rating systems are routinely manipulated, by both competitors as well as the centers themselves. We often see even very reputable programs try and overshadow malicious reviews by submitting manufactured testimonials. This is true for sites that try to weed out false reviews as well as even the almighty Google reviews. It is part of something called online reputation management, and there are definitely varying degrees of this practice, ranging from simply helping to improve their profile to complete manipulation.

This is not meant to scare anyone or even fault people and facilities engaged in these practices. Everyone has the common goal here of recovery and survival, some just go about it in different ways. This is also certainly not an attempt to endorse predatory or misleading behavior in any way either. There are very above-board ways of doing reviews, testimonials and reputation management as well.

We have intentionally left out ratings and reviews from this site due to the reasons above. All of our regular listings are purely for user benefit and free for facilities. Any paid listings are clearly marked as sponsored and should be considered as advertisements, which they are.

How Reliable Are Treatment Center Ratings?

The truth is that every rehab program has people that would endorse it for helping them recover from addiction, otherwise they wouldn’t still be in business. At the same time, even the very best drug rehabs will have their naysayers and unhappy clients for one reason or another. Any number of the people for or against can speak out at any time. That being said, if you see particular reasons that seem real to you for why you should or shouldn’t pursue a specific program, especially if repeated by many people, then you should listen to your gut instinct.

Don’t be afraid to do a little research on your own. When doing so, keep in mind that you’re likely to come across both positive and negative statements along the way. It doesn’t hurt to take some recommendations from referral sources as well, as we’ll try to help you find additional treatment options.

How Mindfulness Enhances Recovery

practicing mindfulness in recoveryThere is a growing body of research showing the benefits of incorporating mindfulness practices into many parts of our daily lives. Recovery is no exception, as it has been shown to be particularly helpful in preventing relapse and improving overall mental stability.

Sometimes there are some misconceptions of what mindfulness really is, as people may think it is only a part of an Eastern religion. While it definitely has roots dating back 2,500 years or so in that foundation, it is not limited to any particular set of beliefs at all.

The definition of mindfulness is: “a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.”

Practicing being aware of things in the moment can be extremely helpful in addiction recovery in many ways, whether those situations are initially positive or if they are threatening in some way. For example, if a person is experiencing a drug or alcohol craving, through a deeper awareness they are able to see themselves through it as it passes rather than falling prey to the transient reactive impulses. They are able to withstand the craving with more ease each time as they become less affected by the sensations that arise during such episodes. Treatment programs that incorporate some form of mindfulness practice will become more sought after.

It is also helpful in building longer-lasting stability by being more in tune with one’s thoughts and feelings and paying more attention to daily tasks, especially those that bring warmth or pleasure. These may include time with family, playing a sport, creating something artistically or simply enjoying yourself on a vacation. These positive experiences can have a greater impact the more aware of them we are, and help us to focus more on the good things in life rather than the bad things.

One mistake many people think is that if they do it a few times then that is sufficient, but mindfulness is a practice that should always continue, and the longer that it is, the more effective it will be with regards to recovery as well as general happiness. This continued practice helps bring us more out of the realm of past upsets or future anxieties and helps us to maintain more balance in the continuously present moments of each day.

Methadone Overdose Deaths Often Overlooked

methadone With so much attention placed on the heroin and other opioid-related deaths in the United States in recent years, many people have forgotten how many lives have been lost to accidental overdose on methadone. In fact, the Federal government just announced additional funding for opioid-replacement therapy to treat heroin addiction using methadone or buprenorphine.

As a grim reminder, news outlets have just been covering the accidental overdose death of Victoria Siegel caused by methadone. She was the daughter of billionaire property mogul David Siegel. Other notable overdose deaths involving methadone included Daniel Smith, who was the son of the late Anna Nicole Smith, and Alexander Jentzsch, son of missing church of Scientology president Heber Jentzsch.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), methadone is responsible for a much larger percentage of opioid-related deaths when compared to the number of users. In fact, methadone was involved in 31% of opioid pain reliever deaths in the 13 states. It accounted for 40% of single-drug opioid pain reliever deaths. The overdose death rate for methadone was significantly greater than that for other drugs in the same category.

While methadone appears to be deadlier in combination with other drugs, the statistics above demonstrate that it is among the most dangerous prescription narcotics on the market as well. Today methadone is not just used to treat opioid addiction, but also as a pain reliever for serious, chronic symptoms without producing the same high as other opiates. The half-life of methadone is between 10 and 40 hours, so daily doses compound and create a dangerous toxicity level where organs begin to shut down.

So, while it is encouraging to see that there is more funding being allocated to treat opiate addiction, many believe the money would be better spent elsewhere than funding methadone treatments. At the very least physicians, treatment clinics and patients should be more aware of the risks involved in using the drug.

If you have someone battling an opioid addiction and would like to find some successful treatment center options, contact us today.

Rehabs Going Corporate

Doctor with Rehab ExecutiveThe fastest growing segment of drug and alcohol rehabs in the U.S. appears to be private for-profit companies, which have increased from about 25% of facilities to 32% within the last decade. The number of private non-profits, while still making up the biggest percentage, has dropped from 61% to 55%. Programs that are publicly supported or run by government agencies are limited and are typically full with waiting lists. However, with increased insurance coverage for substance abuse treatment, many more people have access to private programs than ever before.

Since the drug and alcohol problems seem to continue to be serious issues, more corporations are investing in this area of healthcare as well. The question some people ask is whether or not large, for-profit companies can provide adequate treatment for people in need. We tend to believe that the answer is yes and no.

Like most other healthcare companies, whether they are for- or non-profit, they are still businesses that need to make money to survive and pay staff. If a corporation owns many different facilities, the quality of care can usually be determined by finding out if they are in business for the primary purpose of generating a ton of revenue, or if they simply make money because they provide excellent service. There are some private companies out there that focus primarily on their incoming dollars each month and year, and debate on whether or not a publicly-held company has more responsibility to their shareholders or their treatment clients.

From an overall addiction treatment landscape perspective, the jury is still out on whether the corporate trend in rehabs is better or worse for clients and recovery outcomes. So, rather than immediately assuming a program is good or bad based on its ownership, we suggest taking the time to do more research on the quality of care provided, professionalism of staff and the environment that is created. Look for personal recommendations or referrals from friends and family members wherever possible, and you can also get referrals from people like us to compare facility options.