Miscellaneous


A Look at Pennsylvania's Opioid EpidemicNationwide, the opioid epidemic killed more Americans in 2016 than the wars in Vietnam and Iraq combined. On October 26, 2017, President Donald Trump officially declared the opioid crisis a national public health emergency.

The Roots of a National Crisis
The term opioid is used to refer to substances that act on the opioid receptors in the brain to create morphine-like effects. The opioid epidemic refers to the abuse of prescription pain medications as well as illegal street drugs like heroin. Often, people begin their addiction with prescription pain medication and progress to illegal street drugs when it becomes too difficult to obtain their pills by doctor shopping or borrowing from friends and family members.

Prescription opioids play a vital role in managing chronic pain for people who suffer from serious medical conditions, but have a high potential for abuse when they are not taken precisely as prescribed. Many experts believe the opioid epidemic began in the late 1990s and early 2000s when doctors began shifting away from encouraging physical therapy, biofeedback, and exercise or meditation as the first response for pain management to writing prescriptions for opioids. Often, the patients who received these prescriptions were not fully aware of the risk for dependency and addiction until it was too late.

Opioid Addiction in Pennsylvania
To get a sense of the scale of the problem Pennsylvania is facing, consider the following statistics from 2016:

  • Prescription pain medications like Vicodin and OxyContin were responsible for 1,775 overdose admissions in the state of Pennsylvania, compared to the 1,524 admissions for heroin. However, hospital admissions for heroin overdose in Pennsylvania have quadrupled since 2010. Statistics for emergency room visits are not available, but these numbers are thought to be even higher.
  • Opioid pain medication overdoses are most common among people age 50 and over, with 60% of admissions falling in this age group. In comparison, about 70% of the admissions for heroin overdoses were patients between 20 and 39 years old.
  • Philadelphia admitted 47 per 100,000 residents, making it the center of the state’s opioid epidemic. However, rates in several other countries, including both rural Beaver and suburban Delaware, also topped 40 admissions per 100,000 residents.
  • Fatal overdoses in Pennsylvania rose 37% from 2015 to 2016, with 13 people dying of an overdose each day. In total, 4,632 Pennsylvania residents lost their lives as victims of drug overdoses in 2016. This is nearly four times the number of residents who died as the result of fatal traffic accidents, with about 85% of the overdoses attributed to opioids.
  • Fentanyl was found in about two-thirds of Pennsylvania drug fatalities in 2016, while heroin was found in about half. The overlap is due to the fact that many cases included victims who had taken both drugs. Fentanyl is often added to heroin, with or without the user’s knowledge.

What’s Been Done to Fight the Epidemic
Governor Tom Wolf has made fighting the opioid epidemic a top priority of his administration. In the 2016 to 2017 state budget, he secured an overall total of $20.4 million to fight opioid abuse. These funds allowed DHS to create 45 Opioid Use Disorder Centers of Excellence to provide care for approximately 10,100 people who are currently unable to access treatment through other means.

Expanded efforts have been made to provide access to naloxone, a medication designed to quickly reduce the effects of opioid overdose, for law enforcement, first responders, schools, and others who are likely to encounter overdose victims. Training for administering this vital medication is provided regularly at several locations throughout the state as well as in a convenient online course.

To reduce the availability of prescription medications for potential misuse, the Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs, in partnership with the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency, the Office of the Attorney General, the National Guard, and the Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association, has implemented a prescription drug take-back box program with 580 take-back boxes across all 67 counties. In 2016, participation in the program allowed for the destruction of approximately 124,336 pounds of no longer needed prescription drugs.

How St. Joseph Institute Is Helping
As the leading treatment and detox center in Pennsylvania, St. Joseph Institute is committed to providing Pennsylvania residents with the care they need to overcome opioid addiction. Our personalized treatment programs focus on healing the mind, body, and spirit–offering counseling, opportunities for spiritual development, and a chance to address co-occurring conditions like anxiety and depression as you prepare to take the first step towards a brighter future.

By Dana Hinders

https://www.pa.gov/guides/opioid-epidemic

http://www.philly.com/philly/health/addiction/opioid-heroin-painkiller-vicodin-overdose-hospitalizations-soar-in-pa-20170628.html

http://www.philly.com/archive/don_sapatkin/dea-fatal-ods-rose-37-across-pa-in-2016-20170608.html

http://www.poconorecord.com/news/20160923/pennsylvania-opioid-addiction-statistics-are-staggering

addictionOne of the ways that addiction is described by Alcoholics Anonymous is with the phrase cunning, baffling and powerful.To those living with it, this expression certainly rings true. Someone who is clean and sober may seem to be doing well on their journey, but then they have a slip or even a full-blown relapse.

This type of behavior is very confusing to an addicted persons family members and friends: they likely think that once their loved one goes for treatment, that the problem will be fixed.Unfortunately, addiction doesnt work that way. Its a chronic illness that has all of the qualities listed above, along with infinite patience.

Addiction Treatment Teaches Coping Skills
At the root of many addictions is a desire to avoid emotional pain. If someone is looking for a way to numb themselves or to avoid dealing with something that makes them feel uncomfortable, they can drink, take a pill, snort or smoke something that will help them do that. They dont have to learn how to deal with things going on in their life.

Its not realistic to think that someone who has developed that pattern of living can simply stop using their drug of choice without having something to replace it. For this reason, addiction treatment programs teach coping strategies to their clients that they can use in their chemical-free lifestyle.

Addiction is Cunning
Keep in mind that the addiction is not cured; it is still lying in the background. An addict has to learn that they cant drink again, ever: they cant pick up a drink when they are feeling down or stressed. They learn strategies to avoid these types of situations while in treatment.

Its more challenging to get used to the idea that they cant drink as part of a celebration. If someone has been sober for a time, they might get a little cocky and start thinking that they can have one drink and will be all right. This is the cunning part of their addiction talking to them. It lies in wait, trying to trip them up.

Addiction is Baffling
Unless an addict continues to be diligent about working their program, they will likely relapse. The first part of a 12-step program is to admit that one is powerless over the addiction. The minute someone thinks that they have their addiction beatand that they dont need to keep going to meetings and doing things to stay on track, they are opening the door to letting it take control of their life.

Addiction is Powerful
This disease has the power to change the way a person thinks and how they perceive the world around them. People who are in the throes of an addictive lifestyle will do whatever they need to in order to feed their addiction. The need to use becomes so powerful it takes precedent over anything else.

Addiction is Patient
Someone who is an addict is in recovery, but they are not recovered. The addiction will patiently wait for a chance to step back into their life, if given a chance. The best way to prevent this from occurring is to be constantly vigilant about ones recovery on a day-to-day basis.

In some instances, taking things in smaller chunks of time makes more sense. It may mean looking at life one hour at a time if that is what is needed to stay sober. The 12-step programs offer support and fellowship for people who are experiencing challenges in their journey to stay sober. Many of their members will likely understand exactly what the phrase cunning, baffling powerfulmeans from personal experience, too.

 
To learn more about our programs or for a campus tour  of St. Joseph Institute, please visit our website. You can also call us directly at 877-727-4465. 

VegitablesMany factors contribute to lasting recovery from addiction. St Joseph is dedicated to helping our residents improve their overall health and wellness,and that includes physical well-being. You may be surprised to learn that other aspects of a healthy lifestyle—such as good nutrition and exercise—can be powerful tools in the fight to overcome addiction. Both scientific research and experience attest to the value of these practices:

Because alcohol is high in calories, drinking can make one feel full even if he or she has eaten very little. As a result, many addicts suffer from malnutrition. Alcohol and drugs also make it difficult for the body to absorb nutrients, which can lead to a host of other health problems. Many people who abuse drugs and alcohol have chronic gastrointestinal disorders like diarrhea, constipation, and indigestion.

Recovery is about replacing negative behaviors with positive ones. Both during their time at our center and throughout recovery, residents are encouraged to include healthy eating habits in their journey to optimal health and wellness. In fact, because of the plethora of health problem associated with abusing drugs and alcohol, it’s particularly important for those in treatment to eat a diet that is high in nutrients and can help rebuild damaged organs and tissues. A diet with the right types of high protein and carb-rich foods can even ameliorate some of the symptoms of withdraw.

For example, drugs and alcohol prevent the body from processing tyrosine and tryptophan, two amino acids that are responsible for the production of neurotransmitters that control mood. Tyrosine is related to alertness, so eating protein-rich foods like meat, poultry, seafood and tofu can help those in recovery replenish helpful neurotransmitters and feel more active and alert. Tryptophan can have a calming effect and makes it easier to sleep; it is found in bananas, milk, turkey and sunflower seeds. On the other hand, both sugars and caffeine contribute to mood swings and should be avoided.

This site offers tips and healthy meal plans for those recovering from addiction:

http://alcoholicsvictorious.org/faq/rec-diet

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