Gooden Center
A residential drug treatment center for men located in Pasadena, CA. The Gooden Center is a proud member of the National Association of Addiction Treatment Providers (NAATP).

(626) 356-0078
191 North El Molino Avenue Pasadena, CA 91101 US

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Archive for the ‘Addiction’ Category

Military Personnel At High-Risk For Opioid Abuse

Posted on: November 24th, 2019 by emarketed No Comments

Military Personnel At High-Risk For Opioid Abuse

The United States opioid epidemic is hitting the military population especially hard. According to DrugAbuse.gov rates of prescription opioid misuse are higher among service members than among civilians. Veterans are also more likely to suffer a fatal opioid overdose than civilians. Most professionals believe the rates are mostly due to alleviating PTSD symptoms. Specifically, combat exposure puts active duty military and veterans at a great risk for abusing prescription opioids.

Additionally, Military Times reports that about a third of opioid abuse among service members and veterans could be explained by a war injury and subsequent chronic pain. Service-related injuries are almost always prescribed prescription opioids. The National Bureau of Economic Research reports the government health care costs associated with the treatment for active-duty service members and veterans who misuse prescription painkillers is $1 billion per year.

Of the military branches, the Army and Marine Corps had showed the highest rates of use, followed by the Navy and then the Air Force. The VA also reported a significant upsurge in opioid use disorders from veterans following combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

PTSD

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, which used to be known as “shell shock” is common for military personnel. Exposure to combat stress, witnessing the loss of a friend, and natural disasters can all cause PTSD. Most common symptoms include negative flashbacks, avoidance, negative changes in thoughts and moods, numbness, irritability and insomnia. Multiple deployments, injury and high stress also affect the mental health of military personnel.

Other Mental Health Issues

While PTSD is the most talked about when it comes to military mental health, issues including depression, anxiety, mood disorders are common as well. Service members can experience depression during deployment or suffer from severe anxiety leading up to deployment. Military stress can affect the entire family, with more children experiencing behavioral issues if they have a parent deployed

The Department of Veteran Affairs Challenges

The VA along with the Department of Defense has made efforts to curb opioid prescriptions by funding research and implementing guidelines. Their Opioid Safety Initiative encouraged military personal to explore alternative pain management treatments as well as educating healthcare providers on the risks of prescribing opioids.The prescription of opioids from VA has been decreasing due to the reluctance of doctors.

The military also enforces a strict zero-tolerance policy which creates a stigma around drug abuse and addiction. Those with substance abuse issues often suffer in silence due to fear of losing rank or being discharged and can also resort to isolating themselves resulting in additional mental health distresses.

Treatment

Those diagnosed with PTSD or Opioid Abuse Disorder can greatly benefit from one on one psychotherapy as well as group therapy and other forms treatment. The VA has multiple resources available here that also include helpful resources for spouses and family members. Military personnel and their families form a tight-knit community and opening up and supporting one another in these times is most valuable.

References:

https://www.militarytimes.com/pay-benefits/2019/10/14/combat-troops-at-higher-risk-for-opioid-heroin-addiction-study-says/

https://www.military.com/spouse/military-life/wounded-warriors/opiate-addiction-and-veterans-how-to-get-help.html

https://www.vox.com/first-person/2019/11/11/20955190/veterans-opioid-addiction-shame

 

 

When Opioid Addiction Meets Sesame Street

Posted on: October 26th, 2019 by The Gooden Center No Comments

opioid addiction sesame

Many people are familiar with the classic children’s television show Sesame Street, which first debuted in 1969 and has become a staple in the lives of many families across the globe. The show’s impact has cross many generations and has made numerous lists for being one of the greatest shows in television history. The fun yet educational television series has introduced many iconic and beloved characters including Big Bird, Elmo, Bert and Ernie and so many more. The award-winning show is known for its mix of puppetry, live-action, improv and animation and its ability to capture children’s attention and educate them.

Controversy

The show has touched on numerous cultural and societal issues throughout its long run and though mostly celebrated for its positive and progressive attitudes, has occasionally made headlines for what some deem “controversial” subject matter. Over the 40-year show history, scandals including Bert and Ernie’s sexual orientation, Katy Perry’s risqué costume choice and issues involving the character’s voice actors have all made waves.

The show has introduced characters over the years to bring awareness and education to issues including Autism, HIV, race relations, incarceration, homelessness and even high political tensions. This year Sesame Street has introduced a character whose mother is struggling with opioid addiction. Many people have applauded this choice  to delve into something so real and widespread while others feel it is an inappropriate and extremely sensitive subject matter.

The truth is, the opioid crisis is rampant and has devastated different areas throughout the country, with children of those battling addiction becoming extremely affected.  Children of parents that abuse opioids often experience neglect, anxiety and depression and long term psychological trauma. Many children often find themselves in foster care or in the custody of other family members, especially their grandparents care. According to the NCBI, between 2009 and 2014, nearly 3% (2.1 million) of US children age 17 years and younger lived in households with at least 1 parent struggling with a substance use disorder. Other statistics reveal 5.7 million children under age 11 live in households with a parent with substance use disorder. “

Sesame Street Statement

A statement released by the shows President of Social Impact and Philanthropy reads, “Having a parent battling addiction can be one of the most isolating and stressful situations young children and their families face. Sesame Street’ has always been a source of comfort to children during the toughest of times, and our new resources are designed to break down the stigma of parental addiction and help families build hope for the future.”

The goal is to bring awareness to many of life’s circumstances, both good and bad, and teach children empathy and understanding. The characters encourage other children to speak openly about how they feel, top understand it is not their fault and most importantly that treatment is important for their parents to get better.

The Sesame Workshop offers resources for both children and their caregivers that include helpful information including addiction education, coping strategies including stress management tools, as well as constructive talking points

 

References:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/education/2019/10/12/sesame-street-characters-mom-has-an-addiction-experts-say-thats-valuable-lesson/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6330457/

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-50003560

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/sesame-street-addiction-childrens-show-addresses-opioid-crisis-as-muppets-mother-battles-addiction/

https://www.nichq.org/insight/treating-opioid-epidemic-childrens-health-crisis

 

 

 

Is LA’s Homeless Crisis Fueled By Mental Health and Addiction?

Posted on: October 17th, 2019 by The Gooden Center No Comments

Is LA’s Homeless Crisis Fueled By Mental Health and Addiction?

According to The Addiction Center in 2017, there were approximately 554,000 homeless people in the United States. Many believe the number to be much higher due to the challenges in accurate data collection. The number of homeless increases each year, especially within the younger age demographic.

Causes of Homelessness

Although substance abuse can lead to homelessness, in many cases the end result of homelessness is substance abuse. Unfortunately, homelessness and addiction do often go hand in hand across age and ethnic groups. Other common causes are the result of a financial hardship including job loss, home forecloses and a lack of affordable healthcare or housing.  According to Harvard Health, “The mentally ill and people addicted to alcohol or drugs are the first victims of housing shortages.”

The National Coalition for the Homeless (NCH) also lists addiction and mental illness as “two of the primary personal factors that lead to financial instability and the loss of permanent housing.” It is also important to note there do exist homeless individuals who do not have a problem with drugs or alcohol. Although rates of substance use are disproportionately high among those experiencing homelessness, homelessness cannot be explained by substance use alone as many people who suffer from addiction never become homeless

Mental health

Those experiencing homelessness may also develop mental health issues due to the harsh lifestyle. Not only do individuals who are homeless  generally face hunger and a lack of shelter, they also experience violence, sexual assault and many forms of harassment.

Homeless women suffer from gender-based trauma which in turn results in higher amounts of drug use compared to homeless men. The majority of homeless women also suffer from mental and emotional disturbances that often develop even before they become homeless.

Some mental health issues that homeless people experience include:

  • Severe anxiety
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Paranoia/Delusions/Disorentiation
  • Schizophrenia/Schizoaffective disorder
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
  • Major depressive disorder

The Cycle Continues

Without proper shelter, security and a lack of access to affordable treatment for substance abuse and mental health care, the homeless population continue deeper into the destructive cycle of abuse and often relentlessly withdraw from mainstream society.

There are numerous programs and continuous efforts to “solve the homeless crisis” but those involved face many challenges. Recently, Mayor Eric Garcetti allocated funding to emergency shelters with “A Bridge Home” program for those waiting to be placed in a more permanent form of housing. However, connecting those in need with these services are hard because of the widespread substance abuse and mental illness. The timing and bureaucracy of finding solutions also pushes those away.

Stigma

Unfortunately, negative narratives and a general misunderstanding of homelessness continuously lead to an ongoing negative stigma. Many believe the end to homelessness starts with the end of the homeless stigma. When attitudes are shifted and more people are informed of the causes and challenges, they can treat those experiencing homelessness with empathy and respect.

References:

https://www.addictioncenter.com/addiction/homelessness/

https://www.dailynews.com/2019/10/07/a-new-look-at-las-homeless-count-numbers-has-some-wondering-if-there-will-be-a-shift-in-conversation-around-mental-illness-drug-addiction/

https://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletter_article/The_homeless_mentally_ill

 

Stay-Busy Activities in Recovery

Posted on: August 9th, 2019 by The Gooden Center No Comments

Military Personnel At High-Risk For Opioid Abuse

 

Everyone who is going through recovery from an addiction must find ways to keep themselves busy. When a person has too much free time they can experience boredom, depression, loneliness and other feelings that can trigger them to engage in substance abuse again. Preventing relapse can depend a lot on a person’s ability to find activities that keep them focused and healthy.

 

At some point in recovery, an individual must brainstorm and think of a list of activities that can keep them busy when they are experiencing cravings or simply have too much empty time. It can help to write down ideas and reference them whenever you are not sure what to do to stay busy. Make sure to focus on activities that you know from past experience are helpful in making you feel calm and happy.

 

Stay-busy activities can be anything that helps keep your mind off of triggering feelings. It can be things like calling a friend, going to a movie, exercising, playing sports or games, cooking a healthy meal, listening to music, writing in a journal, meditating, taking a bath or even going for a walk. The possibilities for activities are unlimited and can include anything that helps motivate you to improve your health.

 

These kinds of activities can be useful whenever you are feeling stressed, anxious, upset or depressed. Focusing too much on negative feelings and not being active can be dangerous for people with addictions. Over time you will find new and effective ways to deal with triggers and stay busy whenever problems come up.

 

For those in recovery, talking to your therapist can help give you ideas on how to stay busy and cope with your feelings when they come up. Having a plan and a strategy for triggers can be crucial to preventing relapse.

 

References

https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugs-brains-behavior-science-addiction/treatment-recovery

The Links Between Alcoholism And Mental Health

Posted on: August 8th, 2019 by The Gooden Center No Comments

Alcoholism and mental health can seem like a complicated topic. The reason for this is that, in someone suffering from alcoholism, it is difficult to determine cause and effect. Did a mental illness lead to the person’s alcoholism? Did the person’s alcoholism lead to a mental illness? Will the symptoms of mental illness disappear when the person stops drinking?

But, with recent studies indicating that even casual drinking is linked to poorer mental health, the link between alcoholism and mental illness is well-established. We just need to disentangle the various threads to see why this is so, and what can be done about it.

Alcoholism and mental illness: in parallel

Some individuals suffer from both alcoholism and mental illness, with neither having caused or triggered the other. For example, a person who sometimes suffers from depression might start drinking for totally external reasons. They may simply drink for fun when they go out with friends, or use alcohol for some “dutch courage” at a club. In other words, their alcoholism starts independently of their mental illness.

However, someone suffering from both alcoholism and mental illness will see both aspects worsen on account of each other. The symptoms of mental illness will become more severe on account of the alcohol, which will lead the person to drink more, becoming trapped in a vicious circle.

Alcoholism leading to mental illness

Alternatively, alcoholism can directly cause or trigger mental illness. A person who has strong coping mechanisms and a solid sense of self will see those eroding as they become more and more dependent on alcohol. They may previously have had a healthy approach to difficult emotions and trying times. However, alcohol can seem like an easier, more immediate tool for dealing with difficulties. While alcohol is very dysfunctional as a coping mechanism, it becomes the person’s go-to, and their healthy skills atrophy.

It is not just the erosion of coping skills that leads to or triggers mental illness. Alcohol is in fact a depressant. It can relax and disinhibit you, but at the same time makes you vulnerable to feelings of lowness. It disrupts your thinking. It causes sleep problems. All-in-all, it plays havoc with your sense of balance.

Mental illness leading to alcoholism

But mental illness can also be a trigger or cause of alcoholism. Someone suffering from social anxiety may start drinking to feel disinhibition. Someone suffering from depression may drink to numb out the painful feelings. OCD in particular is connected to alcoholism, as sufferers search for ways to quiet their obsessive thinking.

Alcohol may help with the symptoms of mental illness temporarily. However, consequences soon set in, with lower lows than before, poor quality of sleep, and a range of personal problems. The person ends up drinking more to try and deal with their worsening situation, and their alcoholism becomes worse.

Which mental illnesses are particularly linked to alcoholism?

While alcoholism can lead to or complicate many mental illnesses, some are more closely linked to addiction than others.

  • Depression: Individuals suffering from depression may start drinking to try to feel good again. It may temporarily work but, since alcohol is a depressant itself, it ultimately worsens the problem.
  • Bipolar disorder: Individuals going through a manic episode may reach for alcohol to help slow down their racing minds or to help them sleep. They may start using it to turn off when their illness is causing them to feel “on” all the time.
  • OCD: Individuals with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) often start using alcohol to clear their mind of obsessive thoughts. The slowness or confusion of being inebriated may seem like temporary relief from the relentlessness of their cognitive reality.
  • PTSD: Since post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is caused in part by a continued stress response even when the stressor is no longer present, alcohol can at first temporarily help relax a person’s body and mind, and inhibit their memories. Eventually, it begins to worsen the symptoms instead of relieving them.
  • Anxiety disorders: People suffering from anxiety may feel temporarily relieved from their worries when they are inebriated. This is especially common for those suffering from social anxiety disorders. In the long run, the consequences of alcoholism lead to cause for more severe anxiety.

 

 

 

Dual-diagnosis

When you or a loved one receives help for alcoholism, a psychiatrist will evaluate whether you have a dual-diagnosis. They test for various mental illnesses and try to establish how the illnesses are linked.

Regardless of whether there is a causal relationship between your alcoholism and mental health, one cannot be treated in isolation. Without treating your alcoholism, your mental health will only worsen. Without treating your mental health, any sobriety will be short-lived.

If you or a loved one are suffering from mental illness, be aware that there is an increased risk of alcoholism and other substance use disorders. Watch out for symptoms of excessive drinking or alcohol dependence.

References:

1. Change in moderate alcohol consumption and quality of life: evidence from 2 population-based cohorts

Xiaoxin I. Yao, Michael Y. Ni, Felix Cheung, Joseph T. Wu, C. Mary Schooling, Gabriel M. Leung, Herbert Pang CMAJ Jul 2019, 191 (27) E753-E760; DOI: 10.1503/cmaj.181583

2. Mary W. Kuria, David M. Ndetei, Isodore S. Obot, et al., “The Association between Alcohol Dependence and Depression before and after Treatment for Alcohol Dependence,” ISRN Psychiatry, vol. 2012, Article ID 482802, 6 pages, 2012. https://doi.org/10.5402/2012/482802

3. Farren, C., Hill, K. and Weiss, R. (2012). Bipolar Disorder and Alcohol Use Disorder: A Review. Current Psychiatry Reports, 14(6), pp.659-666.

4. Mancebo, M. C., Grant, J. E., Pinto, A., Eisen, J. L., & Rasmussen, S. A. (2009). Substance use disorders in an obsessive compulsive disorder clinical sample. Journal of anxiety disorders, 23(4), 429–435. doi:10.1016/j.janxdis.2008.08.008

5. Kofoed, L., Friedman, M.J. & Peck, R. Psych Quart (1993) 64: 151. https://doi.org/10.1007/BF01065867