Ireland fourth highest in Europe for drug deaths, by Cormac O’Keefe in the Irish Examiner, 31st October 2017

This story first appeared in the Irish Examiner, Online, 31st October, 2017

Ireland has a death rate from drugs more than three times above the European average, according to an EU report.

Figures from the EU drugs agency shows the high death rate is concentrated among users under the age of 40.

Ireland’s drug-induced mortality rate is 71 per 1m people, placing us fourth out of 28 EU countries, along with Norway and Turkey. Estonia tops the table, then Sweden and Norway, with the UK in fifth place (60 per million), behind Ireland.

Ireland’s rate of drug deaths is more than four times that of the Netherlands (16.5) and 12 times that of Portugal (5.8).

“The drug-induced mortality rate among adults aged 15-64 years was 71 deaths per million in 2014, which is more than three times the most recent European average of 20.3 deaths per million,” said the report by the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction.

The Ireland Country Drug Report 2017 took data supplied by the Irish Health Research Board and compared them against 29 other European states.

This showed that Ireland has a far higher death rate among younger drug users.

It shows that 22% of people who died here were aged 35-39, compared to 16% in Europe. Some 19% of deaths in Ireland involved users aged 30-34 (15% average), 16% were aged 25-29 (11%) and 9% were aged 20-24 (8%).

It found Ireland was fifth for newly diagnosed HIV infections attributed to injecting drug use, increasing between 2014 and 2015.

The report shows that a European survey of 15- to 16-year-old students found that Ireland was below average for current use of cigarettes, alcohol, and heavy drinking. However, Irish teens scored higher than average for lifetime use of cannabis, other drugs, and inhalants

This story first appeared in the Irish Examiner, Online, 31st October, 2017

About

Hands on Peer Education, is a front-line service in Dublin’s north inner city, where those suffering with addiction and their families can get access to much needed support and treatment options. H.O.P.E. facilitates and advocates for recovery through abstinence. We also offer a wide range of advocacy services. H.O.P.E.’s free and confidential drop-in clinic is open from 10am ‘til 1pm, Monday to Friday.

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Alcohol policy in Ireland

Excerpts from ‘Alcohol policy in Ireland and Scotland’

by Lucy Dillon


On 2 March 2016, Scottish Health Action on Alcohol Problems (SHAAP), Alcohol Focus Scotland and Eurocare held a joint event in Edinburgh to discuss alcohol policy in Scotland and Ireland. They subsequently published the proceedings of the event in Alcohol policy in Scotland and Ireland: European trailblazers or Celtic fringes?1 The event came about as governments in both countries promoted policies that focused on increasing the price of alcohol, reducing its availability, and restricting its marketing. Similarly, both governments were seen to face sustained opposition from global alcohol producers in implementing these policies.

The published proceedings contain the five papers presented on the day and notes from the final discussion session.

Whisky galore? Policy challenges and priorities in Scotland’, Alison Douglas, chief executive, Alcohol Focus Scotland

Douglas described the pattern of alcohol consumption in Scotland, highlighting the widespread harms experienced in particular in deprived communities. She argued that in terms of cost-effectiveness of interventions to reduce consumption and harm, the three ‘best buys’ were to take action on alcohol pricing, availability and marketing. They were to be seen as mutually reinforcing and should therefore be implemented ‘collectively’.

Finding the right measure? Policy challenges and priorities in Ireland’, Suzanne Costello, chief executive, Alcohol Action Ireland

Costello described Irish alcohol consumption patterns, emphasising that ‘binge drinking is a real problem in Ireland’. Alcohol-related harms were highlighted, including alcohol-related deaths, and their role in deaths by suicide in Ireland. Addressing Ireland’s drinking ‘culture’ was described as presenting a particular challenge. As with previous speakers, she identified alcohol pricing, availability, consumer information, and advertising and marketing as requiring action if consumption and harms were to be addressed. These reflected some of the key elements of the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill 2015 that was described, including the use of product labels to contain a link to a public health website providing information on alcohol and its related harms. She concluded that at the time of presenting, the Irish political landscape was ‘much more favourable to health issues’.

1    Scottish Health Action on Alcohol Problems (2016) Alcohol policy in Scotland and Ireland: European trailblazers or Celtic fringes? Edinburgh: Scottish Health Action on Alcohol Problems. http://www.drugsandalcohol.ie/26101/ (see below)

Alcohol policy in Scotland and Ireland: European trailblazers or Celtic fringes?

On 2nd March 2016, Scottish Health Action on Alcohol Problems (SHAAP), Alcohol Focus Scotland and Eurocare, held a joint event in the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh to explore and discuss alcohol policy in Scotland and Ireland. Governments in Scotland and Ireland are pushing forward policies that focus on increasing alcohol price and reducing availability and marketing, in the face of sustained opposition by global alcohol producers.

In the context of a refresh to the current Scottish Alcohol Strategy, ‘‘Changing Scotland’s Relationship with Alcohol’’, and Ireland introducing a new Public Health (Alcohol) Bill, which includes Minimum Unit Pricing and is wide ranging in its provisions related to marketing and availability, the event provided an opportunity to hear from experts who are centrally involved in influencing alcohol policies. As well as providing an update on Scottish, Irish and European alcohol challenges and priorities, the findings of the latest MESAS (Monitoring and Evaluating Scotland’s Alcohol Strategy) report, which was launched on 1st March 2016, were presented.

 

HRB Factsheet January 2017 – Opiates: the Irish situation

Opiates: the Irish situation

January 2017


In common usage, the term ‘opiate’ tends to be understood as referring to all opiate/opioid drugs. To keep things simple, this Factsheet uses the term ‘opiate’ in this way.


What are opiates?

Opiates are derived from the dried milk of the opium poppy. Synthetic opiates are called opioids. Heroin is the most commonly used opioid. Methadone, which is used as a substitute drug in the treatment of heroin addiction, is also an opioid.

What do opiates do?

Opiates are sedative drugs that depress the nervous system. They induce feelings of relaxation and detachment in the user. The more often the drug is used the greater the quantity needed to produce the desired effect. Physical dependence often results from regular use and withdrawal can be very unpleasant. Opiates can be smoked, snorted or prepared for injection. Overdosing on an opiate can be fatal.

How do we know how many people use opiates in Ireland?

Surveys of random samples of the population can be used to estimate the total number of people who use specific drugs. However, opiate users are under-represented in population-based surveys, which are not designed to include people who do not normally live in private households (such as the homeless, hostel dwellers or prisoners).

Researchers in Ireland use a number of sources of information to estimate the number of opiate users in the population. These include:

  • The Central Treatment List (CTL), which is a register of the number of people who are receiving methadone or another opioid as a substitute drug treatment.
  • The Hospital In-Patient Enquiry (HIPE) scheme, which records details of people discharged from hospital, including their diagnosis.
  • The Garda information systems, which record details of drug-related crime.

How many people use opiates in Ireland?

There have been attempts in recent years to estimate the number of problem opiate users in Ireland using these overlapping sources. The first study estimated that 14,158 people were using heroin in 2001, a rate of 5.6 per 1,000 of the population. In 2006 the estimate was 20,790, a rate of 7.2 per 1,000. There are about 1.3 million opiate users in Europe.

How many people receive treatment for opiate use?

As of 31st August 2016 there were 9,652 patients receiving treatment for opiate use (excluding prisons).

The National Drug Treatment Reporting System (NDTRS) provides data on treated drug and alcohol misuse in Ireland.a A total of 16,587 cases entered treatment for problem drug or alcohol use in 2014, of whom 4,477 reported an opiate as their main problem drug. Of the 4,477 cases who reported an opiate as their main problem drug:

  • 943 were new cases.
  • 2,148 were resident in Dublin.
  • 2,955 were men.
  • 5 were under 18 years; 2,618 were aged 18–34.
  • 2,676 used opiates with other drugs.
  • 2,079 used an opiate daily, 640 used it between two and six days per week, 294 used it once per week or less, and 1,163 had not used it in the last month.ha
  • 1,737 injected, 2,059 smoked, 487 ate/drank and 5 sniffed/snorted opiates.

How many people die from using opiates?

The National Drug-Related Deaths Index (NDRDI) is a database which records cases of death by drug and alcohol poisoning, and deaths among drug users and those who are alcohol dependent. 354 people died from poisoning in 2014. Opiates were the main drug group implicated in poisoning deaths in Ireland in 2014. Methadone was implicated in more than a quarter of poisonings (98, 28%). The number of deaths where heroin was implicated increased to 90 in 2014 compared to 86 in 2013. This is the second year in succession that a rise in heroin deaths is reported.

One quarter (25%) of all poisoning deaths involved heroin. Of those who died where heroin was implicated:

  • 87% were male
  • 81% involved more than one drug
  • 48% were injecting at the time of the incident that led to their death
  • 46% lived outside Dublin (city and county)
  • 42% were not alone at the time of the incident that led to their death
  • 29% were homeless
  • 18% were recorded as being in addiction treatment at the time of their death.

Non-fatal overdoses and drug-related emergencies

According to the Hospital In-Patient Enquiry (HIPE) scheme, 4,233 cases of non-fatal overdose were discharged from Irish hospitals in 2013. There were 14% (587) positive findings for narcotic or hallucinogenic drugs in relation to these cases, of which 80% (468) were for an opiate.

What does the law say about opiates?

Heroin and other opiates are on the list of controlled drugs under the Misuse of Drugs Acts 1977 and 1984, and amending regulations. Under the legislation a person who has this controlled drug in their possession is guilty of an offence. You can find more information about Irish drug laws, offences and penalties on the Citizens Information Board website.

Seizure of opiates

Information on drugs and crime is published by the Central Statistics Office (CSO) and includes data on drug seizures made by Garda and Revenue Customs officers. The number of seizures of heroin rose from 690 in 2013 to 954 in 2014. There were 15 seizures of methadone in 2009, and 56 in
2014.

The Forensic Science Ireland (FSI) analyses drugs seized by the Garda. FSI prepare a quarterly report for the Garda and the data presented here are from the combined report for 2014. This tells us the number of cases involving drugs initiated by the Garda and gives a picture of the relative
frequency of the various types of illicit drugs seized. 954 cases were associated with seizures of diamorphine (heroin). There was a significant increase in the quantity of heroin seized; from just under 40 Kgs in 2014 to just under 62 Kgs in 2015 (just over 61 Kgs of heroin in 2013).

For more information on opiates please refer to the following sources:

  1. European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction.
  2. Kelly A, Teljeur C and Carvalho M (2009). Prevalence of opiate use in Ireland 2006: a 3-source capture-recapture study. Dublin: Stationery Office.
  3. European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (2014) European drug report 2014: trends and developments. Luxembourg: Publications Office of the European Union.
  4. Health Service Executive (2017) Health service performance report August/September 2016. Dublin: Health Service Executive.
  5. Treatment data HRB National Drugs Library interactive tables.
  6. Health Research Board (2016) National Drug-Related Deaths Index 2004 to 2014 data. Dublin: Health Research Board.
  7. Health Research Board Irish National Focal Point to the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (2016) Ireland: national report for 2015 – harms and harm reduction.
  8. Irish National Focal Point to the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction. (2016) Ireland: national report for 2015 – drug markets and crime. Dublin: Health Research Board.
  9. An Garda Siochana (2016) An Garda Siochana: annual report 2015. An Garda Siochana, Dublin.

 

How to cite this factsheet:

HRB National Drugs Library (2017) Opiates: the Irish situation. HRB National Drugs Library, Dublin www.drugsandalcohol.ie/17313

************

Other Factsheets in this series:

Cocaine: the Irish situation
Alcohol: the Irish situation
Sedatives and tranquillisers: the Irish situation
Cannabis: the Irish situation

HRB National Drugs Library – Find the evidence

www.drugsandalcohol.ie

  • Quick updates – newsletter & Drugnet Ireland
  • Summaries – Factsheets & Annual national reports
  • Policy – Policy page & Dail debates
  • International research on interventions – Evidence resources
  • Publications of key organisations – HRB, NACDA & EMCDDA
  • Explanations of terms and acronyms – Glossary
  • Treatment data – Drug data link (or HRB publications)
  • Alcohol diary data
  • Search our collection – basic and advanced (you can save your results)

HRB National Drugs Library

Health Research Board
Grattan House
67-72 Lower Mount Street
Dublin 2, Ireland
t: +353 1 2345 175
e: [email protected]
w: www.drugsandalcohol.ie

 

HRB Factsheet January 2017 – Seditives and tranquilisers: the Irish situation

Sedatives and tranquillisers: the Irish situation

January 2017


What are sedatives and tranquillisers?

‘Sedatives’ and ‘tranquillisers’ are commonly used terms for a group of medicines which depress, slow down or calm the brain and central nervous system. Benzodiazepines (‘Benzos’) are the most common type of drug in this group, but other drugs with the same effects are also included.

What do sedatives and tranquillisers do?

Sedatives and tranquillisers can be used as hypnotic or anti-anxiety agents, depending on the dosage and on the time of day that they are taken. Hypnotics are used to treat insomnia (lack of adequate restful sleep) which is causing distress. Anti-anxiety drugs (anxiolytics), such as benzodiazepines, are used to obtain relief from severe and disabling anxiety.¹

How do we know how many people use sedatives or tranquillisers in Ireland?

Every four years the National Advisory Committee on Drugs and Alcohol (NACDA) and the Northern Ireland Public Health Information and Research Branch (PHIRB) commission a survey of the general population to estimate the number of people in Ireland who use drugs and alcohol.² Face-to-face interviews take place with respondents aged 15+a normally resident in households in Ireland and Northern Ireland. This type of survey is not designed to include people who do not normally live in private households (such as prisoners or hostel dwellers).

How many people use sedatives or tranquillisers in Ireland?

The 2014/15 survey involved 9,505 people (7,005 in Ireland and 2,500 in Northern Ireland). The results for Ireland showed that:

  • 14.3% of the population had used sedatives or tranquillisers at least once.
  • Lifetime usage of sedatives or tranquillisers is higher amongst females than males across all age groups.
  • Use was higher among 65+ year-olds (21.4%) than all other age groups.

Use among young people

The European School Survey Project on Alcohol and Other Drugs (ESPAD) collects comparable data on substance use among 15–16-year-old students in 30 countries. According to the 2015 ESPAD report, 11% of Irish students (aged 15–16) reported that they had taken prescribed tranquillisers or sedatives at some point in their lives, and a further 2.8% had taken them without a prescription. Of 37 students who used non-prescribed tranquilisers or sedatives, 28 were aged 14 – 16 and 3 reported being 11 years old or younger. 20% of respondents said it was fairly easy or very easy to obtain sedatives or tranquilisers.

How many people receive treatment for sedative and tranquilliser use?

The National Drug Treatment Reporting System (NDTRS) provides data on treated drug and alcohol misuse in Ireland.b The most recent published data from the NDTRS4 shows that:
The number of cases entering treatment and reporting a benzodiazepine as their main problem drug increased from 78 in 2005 to 827 in 2014. Of the 827 cases who reported benzodiazepines as their main problem drug:

  • 347 (42%) were new cases.
  • 257 (31%) lived in Dublin.
  • 522 (63%) were men.
  • 50 (6%) were aged under 18 years; 577 (70%) were aged 18–34; 129 (15%) were aged 35–44; and 45 (5%) were aged 45–64.
  • 589 (71%) used benzodiazepines with other drugs.
  • 399 (48%) used benzodiazepines daily, 177 (21%) used it between two and six times per week, 57 (6%) used it once per week or less, and 150 (18%) had not used it in the last month.

How many people die from misuse of sedatives and tranquillisers?

The National Drug-Related Deaths Index (NDRDI) is a database of cases of death by drug and alcohol poisoning and deaths among drug users and people who are alcohol dependent. Two thirds of poisoning deaths involved poly-drug use, with an average of four different drugs
involved. Benzodiazepines were the most common drug group involved in deaths involving more than one drug (poly-drug). Diazepam (a benzodiazepine) was the most common single prescription drug, implicated in one-third (32%) of all poisoning deaths. Zopiclone-related deaths (a nonbenzodiazepine sedative drug) increased by 41% between 2013 and 2014.

Non-fatal overdoses and drug-related emergencies

According to the Hospital In-Patient Enquiry Scheme (HIPE), there were 4,233 cases of non-fatal overdose discharged from Irish hospitals in 2013. There was evidence of benzodiazepines in 19% (818) of cases of overdose.

What does the law say about sedatives and tranquillisers?

Under the Medicinal Products (Prescription and Control of Supply) Regulations 2003–2008, a prescription medication can only be supplied in accordance with a prescription, and the supply must be made from a registered pharmacy by or under the personal supervision of a registered pharmacist. It is illegal for prescription medicines to be supplied through mail-order or internet sites. A person who has in his possession a prescription medicine containing a substance controlled under the misuse of drugs legislation for the purpose of selling or otherwise supplying it is guilty of an offence under that legislation.

Changes to regulations under the Misuse of Drugs (Amendment) Bill will introduce stricter controls on benzodiazepines and an initiative to tackle overprescribing. You can find more information about Irish drug laws, offences and penalties on the Citizens Information Board website.

Seizures of sedatives and tranquillisers

The Garda send drugs seized to the laboratory of Forensic Science Ireland (FSI) for analysis. Seizures of a selection of benzodiazepines and Z-hypnotics analysed by FSI in 2014 included 201 seizures of Alprazolam, 420 seizures of Diazepam and 125 seizures of Zopiclone. According to the
2015 Garda annual report 749 grams of benzodiazepines were seized with a value of nearly one million euro.

For more information on sedatives and tranquillisers please refer to the following sources:

  1. National Advisory Committee on Drugs & Public Health Information and Research Branch (2012)
    Drug use in Ireland and Northern Ireland. 2010/11 drug prevalence survey: sedatives or tranquillisers and anti-depressants results. Bulletin 6. Dublin: National Advisory Committee on Drugs. [See glossary]
  2. National Advisory Committee on Drugs & Public Health Information and Research Branch (2016) Prevalence of drug use and gambling in Ireland & drug use in Northern Ireland. Bulletin 1. Dublin: National Advisory Committee on Drugs and Alcohol.
  3. Taylor, Keishia and Babineau, Kate and Keogan, Sheila and Whelan, Ellen and Clancy, Luke (2016) ESPAD 2015: European Schools Project on Alcohol and Other Drugs in Ireland. Dublin: Department of Health.
  4. Treatment data HRB National Drugs Library interactive tables.
  5. Health Research Board (2016) National Drug-Related Deaths Index 2004 to 2014 data. Dublin: Health
    Research Board.
  6. Health Research Board. Irish National Focal Point to the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction. (2016) Ireland: national report for 2015 – harms and harm reduction. Dublin: Health Research Board.
  7. Health Research Board. Irish National Focal Point to the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction. (2016) Ireland: national report for 2015 – drug markets and crime. Dublin: Health Research Board.
  8. An Garda Siochana. (2016) An Garda Siochana: annual report 2015. An Garda Siochana, Dublin.

See also: European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction. (2015) Perspectives on drugs: the misuse of benzodiazepines among high-risk opioid users in Europe. Lisbon: EMCDDA

How to cite this factsheet:

HRB National Drugs Library (2017) Sedatives and tranquilisers: the Irish situation. HRB National Drugs Library, Dublin www.drugsandalcohol.ie/24954

************

Other Factsheets in this series:

Cocaine: the Irish situation

Opiates: the Irish situation

Sedatives and tranquillisers: the Irish situation

Cannabis: the Irish situation

Alcohol: the Irish situation

HRB National Drugs Library – find the evidence

www.drugsandalcohol.ie

  • Quick updates – newsletter & Drugnet Ireland
  • Summaries – factsheets & Annual national reports
  • Policy – policy page & Dail debates
  • International research on interventions – Evidence resources
  • Publications of key organisations – HRB, NACDA, & EMCDDA
  • Explanations of terms and acronyms – glossary
  • Treatment of data – key Irish data link
  • Search our collection – basic and advanced (you can save your results)

HRB National Drugs Library
Health Research Board
Grattan House
67-72 Lower Mount Street
Dublin 2, Ireland
t: +353 1 2345 175
e: [email protected]
w: www.drugsandalcohol.ie

Family support handbook. Information for families affected by someone’s drug and alcohol use

fshb

This book is for anyone who has a family
member misusing drugs or alcohol, including
parents, siblings, partners, grandparents and
friends. This book was put together by
practitioners working in the area of drug and
alcohol support and is based on
recommendations from family members that had
previously sought information and support.
Many of these family members commented that
it was difficult to find accurate and relevant
information and so we have endeavoured to
make this information more accessible in this
resource and through the links within it.
It is not intended that you read this handbook in
one session. We would encourage you to take
some time out and find some peace and quiet
with no distractions to read the sections that are
relevant to you. You may also want to share it
with other family members and discuss what you
have read. Having this discussion may help
develop options as part of a family response.
Though we hope that you will find this
information helpful, and that it provides some
useful pointers, this handbook offers information
that is general in nature so issues that may be
painful for some readers are dealt with very
briefly. Some sections may resonate with you
and others may not. Through reading it, we hope
you will find some ways to help you work
through this difficult time a little more easily, and
that you will realise you are not alone and that
importantly support is available. Perhaps, this is
a starting point where you can seek further help
for you and/or other family members.

Click here to read the Family-Support-Handbook

How Addiction Affects the Whole Family

What Is Addiction? Insights From The Experts

How Addiction Affects the Whole Family

Addiction (or its current term of substance use disorder) is a personal journey. A person takes the path of drug use for his own reasons and by following his personal risk factors. Even if his path of addiction follows the same path of others, he will be dealing with his own struggles, symptoms and scenarios.

That’s why effective addiction treatment needs to address the needs of each individual – because not all paths of addiction look exactly the same, and people have different needs to address to become sober.
But even though this struggle is part of an individual’s journey, an addicted person can’t say that she’s only hurting herself. Instead, the effects of the addiction are reverberating throughout the person’s family, whether that includes parents, siblings, a spouse and/or children. That’s why addiction is called “a family disease.” Everyone faces some effects of this problem.

Here are two significant ways addiction affects family members:

Creating an Unstable Home Life

Addiction creates instability within the home and within the family unit. Instead of feeling safe and comfortable at home, the family members of an addicted person can feel uncertain, anxious and scared. They might be walking on eggshells waiting until anger strikes, witness arguing or take part in the arguing, and face the brunt of emotional and/or physical abuse.

Family members can deal with an unhealthy environment that includes hiding habits, manipulation and other tactics from the addicted person. [In the United States] The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, or NCADD, notes that family members tend to notice that the person’s actions don’t fit her words.

The family can have to deal with mental and physical health problems associated with the addiction. In addition, the NCADD explains that everyday routines are often thrown off by addiction. It can be hard to count on the addicted person, which creates a rift in the relationship and the loved ones’ well-being.

The home life can also be financially unstable because of the addiction. Income might go toward the substance use rather than enough food and other necessities. There might be worries about paying the bills and keeping the home. The addicted person may even lose his job because of the addiction and fail to contribute financially to the family, yet continue to add the burden of needing money for the substance.

The family can be put into a lot of tough situations that they wouldn’t have been in without the addiction. Family members become affected by legal troubles and financial troubles. They might have to worry when their loved one doesn’t show up at home all night, face the consequences of reckless behavior and have to deal with their loved one’s declining health.
These kinds of experiences create an unstable home environment that affects the family members’ mental health and ability to cope with life. And even though addiction involves the family members’ personal life, the effects extend beyond that.

The problems caused by the addiction can affect children’s school performance and adults’ work performance. Spouses and parents may have to work harder to make up for financial problems, and children may exhibit behavioral problems. Loved ones may give up personal interests and friendships to focus on the home life and hide the problem. These are just some examples of how the effects of addiction can work their way into different aspects of the loved ones’ lives.

Developing Unhealthy Ways of Coping

Especially when the individuals are stuck in a house with someone who’s addicted, family members often develop unhealthy ways of dealing with the situation. They often try to hide the substance use from outsiders and they may be ashamed of the person.

Family members often enable the person by providing money, buying the substances or offering support in other ways. In addition, family members often become codependent on the addicted person. David Sack, M.D., provided warning signs of this in an article for PsychCentral.

These signs include putting the addicted person’s feelings first and the loved one making herself responsible for the life of the addicted person. In addition, the codependent person can have trouble with personal boundaries, have his own emotions and decisions follow those of the addicted person and follow unhealthy practices, such as giving up his own interests or friendships, to keep the relationship.

Darlene Lancer, JD, MFT, explained in an article for PsychCentral that codependency (and addiction as well) can lead to ongoing shame that creates a sense that, “You’re ashamed of who you are. You don’t believe that you matter or are worthy of love, respect, success or happiness.”

 

Hopefully, the person with the substance problem will eventually get help to change his own life and improve the entire family. Family members can help the person seek treatment and go through the treatment and recovery process.

When the addicted person does enter a treatment program, the family can often take part in their loved one’s program through family therapy. This type of therapy helps to heal the entire family unit and get it working on the same page toward a healthier future together.

If the program does not offer family therapy, families could find a separate mental health or addiction professional who could offer this type of therapy to the group. Each person could also receive individual counseling if needed.

In addition, family members can take part in supportive groups available to them. These include Adult Children of Alcoholics, Al-Anon and others. These groups give loved ones a space to work on themselves and how the family addiction affected their lives.

Overall, addiction doesn’t just affect the addicted person. It affects everyone who is close to that person. Yet there is hope for the addicted individual to recover, and there is hope for the whole family.
Sources:

  • http://blogs.psychcentral.com/addiction-recovery/2012/09/5-warning-signs-codependency/
  • http://psychcentral.com/lib/shame-the-core-of-addiction-and-codependency/
  • https://www.ncadd.org/family-friends/there-is-help/family-disease
  • https://easyread.drugabuse.gov/content/drug-use-hurts-families

 

Authors’ Bio

drdina

Dr. Dina Macaluso’s journey toward a career in psychology began in 1990. Since then, she has dedicated her life to helping people recover from addiction and mental health issues. Dr. Macaluso holds a doctorate degree in psychology, a master’s degree in sociology and marriage and family therapy, and a bachelor’s degree in psychology. She is licensed in the state of Florida as a mental health counselor. Additionally, Dr. Macaluso is working on her certification as an addiction counselor. She currently is the Clinical Director at Lumiere Healing Centers Florida Location.

The Power Of Addiction

Canadian physician Gabor Maté is a specialist in terminal illnesses, chemical dependents, and HIV positive patients. Dr. Maté is a renowned author of books and columnist known for his knowledge about attention deficit disorder, stress, chronic illness and parental relations. His theme at TEDxRio+20 was addiction — from drugs to power. From the lack of love to the desire to escape oneself, from susceptibility of the being to interior power — nothing escapes. And he risks a generic and generous prescription: “Find your nature and be nice to yourself.”

Medical Disaster

Bad side-effects of drugs such as Valium a ‘medical disaster’

Ex-government press secretary Shane Kenny to screen his documentary on benzodiazepine

The commonly prescribed benzodiazepine family of drugs includes diazepam (such as Valium), alprazolam drugs (such as Xanax) and lorazepam (such as Ativan).

The over-prescription and potential long-term crippling side effects of anti-anxiety drugs such as Valium are described as a “medical disaster” akin to the Thalidomide scandal in a new documentary.

Former government press secretary and RTÉ presenter Shane Kenny will screen his investigation Benzodiazepine Medical Disaster at RTÉ Television Centre on Tuesday night.

Mr Kenny wrote at the weekend of how he was almost driven to suicide by terrifying and painful effects caused by the Valium he was first prescribed in 2001 as a preventative against Meniere’s disease, an inner ear condition that causes vertigo and vomiting.

The symptoms he subsequently suffered over a period of years, including chronic shooting pains in his legs like “electric shocks”, eventually took such a toll on his health that he was forced to take sick leave from his job in 2008.

Continue reading…

SOBERNATION 6 Natural Highs That Give You A Healthy Buzz

I won’t lie, I loved getting high.

During the height of my addiction my number one goal was to stay lit around the clock. However, years of addiction took their toll–and like Icarus with his waxed wings I fell to earth. While drug treatment was able to restore my body and mind I was doubtful that I could find natural ways to cop the buzz I felt with drugs and alcohol. Fortunately, I learned there were many natural highs I could incorporate into my daily routine that could keep me feeling fine without regret.

A New Way of Thinking

Believe me, finding new ways to get the high I desired without the aid of chemicals seemed far-fetched. For many years I was accustomed to getting euphoria from drugs and alcohol. Once I made the commitment to getting clean and sober the concept of the natural high was akin to diet soda. While I knew I couldn’t go back to using substances, I just didn’t think it was possible to feel good about life without those familiar crutches.

As my sobriety grew, I listened to my counselors and my recovering peers and I learned ways to dip into the brain’s natural pharmacy and get the buzz I desired without the hangovers and the guilt.

The following are six natural highs that have helped me keep smiling on the inside.

The Best Natural Highs

Exercise

The most common way to achieve a natural high in recovery is through good ol’ exercise. The benefits of exercise in recovery are enormous. First and foremost, exercise releases endorphins which is your brain’s “feel good chemical.” Exercise helps create a euphoric relaxation response which helps you hit the reset button in your brain. Not only will you look good and feel great, you can bring a friend along for added fun and motivation. Additionally, it is easy to create you own personalized exercise regimen that best fits your personality. Whether it is the extreme rush of Crossfit, banging plates at the gym, biking, or just taking a leisurely stroll around the neighborhood–there is a physical activity that you can find and enjoy.

Step Up Your Diet Game

When finding ways to feel awesome in recovery, the role of one’s diet cannot be overlooked. Creating a well-balanced diet is absolutely essential in maintaining one’s physical and psychological health. When I think about my recovery diet, I need to remember to include plenty of fruits and vegetables, as well as plenty of protein. I also have made it a point to significantly reduce or eliminate processed food, sugars and caffeine from my diet. Additionally, I also try to eat several smaller meals spaced throughout the day.

Get to Know Mother Nature

Perhaps there is no natural high as powerful as the one provided by nature. When I hike a forest trail, traverse alongside a raging river or stand on top of a mountain, the majesty and scope of Mother Nature often takes my breath away.  Nature is everywhere you turn, and it is easy to take a few moments to soak in its grandeur. Ponder the glory of a sunrise or sunset. Feel the power of a summer breeze. Take in the sights and sounds of a beach on a June afternoon. The euphoria of nature is waiting for everyone.

Immerse Yourself in the Arts

Another excellent way I have found to lose myself in bliss is to engage in the creative arts. I love to bang on a bass guitar, write poetry or in my daily journal, and I also have been known to sketch out some mad doodles. I find that immersing myself in creative pursuits takes my thoughts and feelings to places that I wouldn’t have thought to explore. If you don’t think of yourself as the creative type, there are still plenty of ways to immerse yourself in the natural high of the arts. It can be as simple as creating a playlist of your favorite jams or attending an outdoor music festival. You can also feel the natural high of art by going to a great movie, reading an enthralling novel or even attending a gallery exhibit.

Be Grateful

In order to feel the natural buzz of euphoria, our mindset must be positive. In my opinion, practicing gratitude is one of the best natural highs I can experience. Gratitude in recovery is one of the most powerful natural highs because of the expression of thankfulness and appreciation for what sobriety gives me on a daily basis. Even if I am experiencing difficulty, having a sense of gratitude allows me to change the negatives to positives–and I can learn to grow from those obstacles. You may be surprised on how good you truly feel when you say thank you.

Stay In The Here and Now

Do you want to know the secret to getting and staying naturally high? It’s simple really–keep you mind in the present and focus on the here and now. If you think about it, our daily lives throw many curves at us, and we often get pulled in a million different directions. When you are able to stop yourself, wade through the static of distractions and look at this moment right now–the world stops. You see things for what they are and you see people for what they are. Take time to devote your undivided attention to yourself and those you love. When you feel the love come back to you, that is the best high ever.

Follow Your Own Path

This list of ways to get your natural buzz on is by no means an exhaustive list. Take the time and explore what makes you truly happy on the inside. Don’t be afraid to try new things and explore those avenues which are healthy and positive. The way that you will truly grow in recovery is to step outside your comfort zone. Go out there and truly find those natural highs that will keep you healthy.

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SOBERNATION What is Self-Medicating and Why Do We Do It

Addiction can be a whirlwind of destruction, highs, lows, and emotions run riot. Why do people become addicted? That’s the million-dollar question and it’s different for everyone. It can depend on genetics, environment, trauma, and even mental illness. It’s not uncommon to hear that some people affected by a substance use disorder have been self-medicating. What does self-medicating mean? Is it something everyone does? I believe it is a component to many people’s using. We are convinced in today’s world that we should not feel pain which leads us to numb ourselves. Let’s explore exactly what self-medication is and why we do it.

What is self-medicating?

Google defines self-medication as an act of choosing and taking medications by oneself instead of by prescription or under the recommendations of a doctor or other medical professional. Their second definition is, “taking addictive or habituating drugs to relieve stress or other conditions.” It doesn’t always have to be addictive drugs; self-medicating can also refer to taking over-the-counter medication to treat ailments such as a headache or fever.

But in the case of a substance use disorder, self-medicating is a coping mechanism and an unhealthy one at that. When we run into tough problems in our lives or we feel uncomfortable due to pain and emotions, our first instinct may be to try to run away from these feelings. What better way to do that than with drugs and alcohol? I believe many people who have an addiction are attempting to alter their reality in some way, for some reason.

You might have back pain and to deal with it you have three beers every night. You may have a loved one who just passed away and the emotional depth of your pain won’t subside so you take Percocet every day. You might have a big exam coming up which your job depends on so you take Adderall to help you concentrate. You just broke up with your significant other and that’s why you went to happy hour every day this week. These are all common examples of self-medicating. In our society where alcohol is promoted on television and online relentlessly, it’s no wonder a martini is the first thing we turn to when we feel pain.

Self-medicating is a learned human a behavior. If it’s not a healthy way to cope, why do we do it?

Why do we do it?

How do we learn to self-medicate? We might have seen others doing it around us. We live in a society where pain is not an emotion that wants to be dealt with. But I believe we also self-medicate because it works. It works for a time until it doesn’t anymore. The thing about self-medicating is that it doesn’t remove the pain from our lives. It almost never changes the situation or emotions that we are required to deal with. That’s why as a part of recovery, we are required to learn new coping mechanisms and the goal is to learn how to deal with life on life’s terms.

It’s unrealistic to think that nothing bad will ever happen to us in our lives and that we can live pain-free 100 percent of the time. What we can do is learn to live with the pain and work on our internal selves and how we process pain and how to manage it. If self-medication works, why should you stop doing it?

How can we stop self-medicating?

The reality is self-medicating can be harmful. This type of coping mechanism can lead to addiction and can exacerbate an already troublesome issue with dangerous substances like drugs and alcohol.

The dangers of self-medicating include:

Mixed medications. Using medications that may interact could cause an accidental overdose or death.

Inaccurate medical diagnosis. If you aren’t a medical professional, you could be misdiagnosing yourself and mistreating yourself with certain medications.

Covering symptoms. By self-medicating you could actually be covering up symptoms that are worse than they appear. It may mask a bigger problem.

Delaying real medical care. Just like with an inaccurate diagnosis, delaying real medical care can be risky. You may be missing something more severe, or could put off getting help until something is much worse.

Of course, any time you self-medicate with dangerous substances like alcohol and drugs, you are at a higher risk for developing an addiction.

Short-term solution. As I mentioned earlier, self-medication is only a short-term solution. It doesn’t ever get to the root of any issue. It can make you feel better for a time, but in the end, it doesn’t remove the pain from your life.

While you may believe self-medication is an effective strategy, it can do more damage than good. In order to leave behind these risks, we must stop self-medicating. If you know you’re using drugs and alcohol to deal with stress, emotions, or everyday life, recovery might be the best path for you. Self-medication won’t be able to last you your whole life through. Recovery on the other hand, can. There are many options on how to start your life in recovery: addiction treatment, 12 step groups, SMART recovery, recovery coaches, and more.

The beauty of recovery is getting in touch with your inner self, learning new ways to cope, and how to be a functioning member of society who doesn’t need to self-medicate in order to live. Recovery allows us to be in touch with our emotions, but not overwhelmed by them. It can teach us why we drank and used in the first place and how to move on from a life ruled by substances.

If self-medication has been your way of dealing with anything life throws at you and you are still unhappy, it’s likely you need a change. Recovery is the greatest change anyone can make and most important, it’s a lifelong solution. Leaving self-medication behind and trying sobriety could be the best decision you ever make and it may be the solution that you’ve been searching for all along.

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