Heroin Returns to America's Streets and Suburbs

By Robert P Mauer
There can be a tendency among people who do not abuse illicit substances to assume that suburban communities do not suffer the same problems with hard drugs that more urban environments do. Sure, the Johnson's kid got into trouble for smoking a joint at school, or maybe there's gossip about old Mrs. Smith not really needing to take as much valium as she does, but there can be an assumption that something like heroin would never find its way into a gated community or suburban high school. The truth, however, is that heroin, after years of declining use as other drugs became more popular, is making a comeback, and it's strongest in unexpected demographics.
Prescription drugs, many of them pain killers and muscle relaxers, surged in popularity in the late nineties. This rapid rise in prescription pill abuse was caused by a number of factors, such as easier availability and a general misconception that such drugs were safer than "street drugs" like methamphetamines and heroin. As prescription pills became popular, heroin use declined mildly, but as law enforcement and doctors have become more aware of prescription pill abuse and are cracking down on it accordingly, heroin use is once more on the rise. What's more, the recent data on modern heroin use displays a number of disturbing trends.
Heroin used to be the sort of drug that people thought of as an end-game addiction. Which is to say, it was only after experimenting with so-called "gateway drugs" that individuals progressed to the use of hard drugs like heroin. Now, the "gateway drug" theory seems to be in question, as more and more users are admitting to trying heroin without ever having used other drugs, even legal ones like cigarettes and alcohol. Part of the reason, it is theorized, is that as prescription opiates like Percocet and Oxycontin become harder for abusers to cheaply access, they turn to a cheaper alternative: heroin. Of those users who only came to heroin after trying other drugs, the overwhelming majority had started out using prescription painkillers.
In addition to the trend of users going straight to heroin when they decide to experiment with drugs, there are several other ugly statistics. One of these, which comes directly from the Drug Enforcement Agency, is that heroin use in the United States will continue to rise. Another is that the drug has gained the most popularity among middle class communities, and at the same time, the age of the average user has gone down. What this means is that not only is heroin use in the suburbs a growing problem, but users are turning to heroin much earlier in life, with the average having gone down five years to the shocking age of only 21.
Heroin is extremely addictive, and has claimed countless lives-and unless an individual undergoes heroin addiction treatment, it is almost impossible to quit. Here at Malibu Horizon, we are better equipped to combat heroin addiction than most anywhere else in the country. This is due to our extensive expertise, state-of-the-art facilities, and ability to tailor a treatment plan to the individual.

Why Drug Counseling Can Mean the Difference Between Relapse and Recovery

By Benjamin Brafman
Drug counselingwhen used effectively, can truly make a difference between relapse and recovery. During drug rehab, it is usually not enough to just get off the drugs. It is important to figure out the reasons behind the drug use in the first place. Counseling can be one of the most important components of the recovery process, as it explores multiple factors that can lead to addiction. Here are some of the benefits of drug counseling.

Benefits of Drug Counseling
Family Sessions
Many therapists may try to involve a recovering person's family members in the counseling sessions. If family members are willing to learn more about a loved one's addiction and participate in the recovery process, the process of addiction recovery can become smoother. With
the support of family members, a client may feel inspired to work harder to get better. During the counseling sessions, family members are encouraged to share their thoughts and feelings, even if it is difficult to do so. These options are very popular with clients whose families want to be involved.
Relapse Prevention
When a person in recovery is faced with a stressful situation, relapse can be a common occurrence. Some people may feel compelled to turn back to drugs, even if they have been in recovery for 10 years. Continued aftercare drug counseling can help prevent relapse because the therapist can teach a client about the warning signs of relapse and help them develop coping skills to deal with stress and depression.
Find the Root of the Problem
Beating drug addiction is more than giving up illicit substances; it's about searching deep to find the root of the problem. It can be difficult for a client to do that on his own, so a professional therapist can help. A therapist may make you feel comfortable and safe enough to share your feelings and information about your past. By doing so, you can work together to find out what may have triggered your addiction.
Change Self-Destructive Behaviors and Thoughts
The craving for drugs can make you feel out of control in certain situations, regardless of how long you've been in recovery. Often, these feelings can lead to self-destructive behaviors and thoughts. In drug counseling, you can learn how to identify these thoughts and behaviors. A professional therapist may also teach you how to change these thoughts and behaviors and replace them with more constructive ones.
Drug counseling has many benefits. Participating in counseling during recovery can help you realize the reason behind your addiction and learn much healthier ways to deal with stress. Going to counseling sessions can help prevent relapse and make you a happier and more fulfilled individual.
Ben Brafman, LMHC, CAP is the President and CEO of Destination Hope, a licensed dual diagnosis substance abuse treatment center in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Ben has more than 20 years of experience in the addiction and mental health fields, which led him to develop a combination of innovative treatment protocols at Destination Hope. He has been published on various topics including dual diagnosis and chemical dependency, and gives back to the community by educating other addiction counselors at his Academy for Addiction Professionals.

Quit Smoking Before Surgery Involving Orthopedics

When you think of orthopedics, you probably don't think of smoking. After all, bones, joints, and muscles may seem unrelated to the lungs. However, when they undergo surgeries for hip replacements or injuries, current smokers are more likely to experience infection, significant pain, and poor healing.
Risks for Smokers During Surgery
According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, current smokers are 53 percent more likely to have serious heart and lung problems after major surgery than people that have quit smoking. They are also 17 percent more likely to die after major surgery. Fortunately, the risks that smokers experience during procedures involving orthopedics aren't as severe as the risks they experience during major surgery. Still, smokers do have more problems than their non-smoking peers.

Dr. Bhaveen Kapadia of Sinai Hospital in Baltimore found that 8 percent of smoking patients required additional surgery within four years compared to just 1 percent of their non-smoking counterparts. Dr. Kapadia found that smokers scored about 1.5 points higher on a 10-point pain scale than patients that did not smoke. Also, fractures took about six weeks longer to heal, and smokers were more than twice as likely to experience fractures that did not heal.
Quitting smoking can significantly reduce these risks. While patients don't have risks as low as people who never habitually smoked, they still have much lower risks than current smokers. Many doctors suspect that smoking prevents sufficient oxygen from getting to the tissues. This lack of oxygen slows down the healing process and exposes smokers to more risks.
The CDC estimates that 70 percent of smokers want to quit, but quitting is not as easy as non-smokers may think. Experts suggest following that people who want to quit smoking before orthopedics procedures follow these five tips for success:
1. Don't smoke any tobacco or tobacco products. Every cigarette smoked does more harm to the body. Even occasional smoking is extremely harmful to the lungs, heart, and blood vessels.
2. Write down the reasons that you want to quit smoking. Some people want to discourage their children from smoking, and they want to protect their loved ones from secondhand smoke. Others decide to quit smoking to improve their health and their appearances.
3. Expect withdrawal symptoms. While some people do not experience withdrawal symptoms, other people have symptoms lasting up to a month. Use nicotine patches to lessen symptoms before your orthopedics procedure. You can also quit smoking with a friend or with the help of a support group. Support from others won't decrease withdrawal symptoms, but it can make them easier to withstand.
4. Take advantage of free resources. You can call the CDC's hotline, 1-800-QUIT-NOW, or you can look online for information about quitting. If you're worried about gaining weight, then look online for tips about controlling weight gain when you quit smoking.
5. Be optimistic. Half of all smokers have successfully quit. You can also quit smoking before undergoing procedures involving orthopedics. You could increase your chances for successful surgery, and you could give your health a significant boost.

5 Ways To Deal With Late Night Cravings

Cravings are a normal part of giving up anything, they are unpleasant but they will happen particularly if you are withdrawing physically. Just because you are experiencing a craving it does not mean you have to act upon it. Therefore it is important that you are prepared for cravings and have a strategy for coping with them when they occur.
People use drugs in a wide range of situations many things are likely to be associated with drug use, these associations may trigger cravings. However cravings can occur not just for drugs or alcohol but any other addictive behaviour which provides us with instant gratification such as gambling, pornography, smoking and even sugar!
The idea of conditioned learning was highlighted in an experiment with Pavlov's dogs. Pavlov rang a bell every time food
was given to the dogs, after a while ringing the bell alone would make the dogs mouth water. Cravings can be similar, in the same way as a particular song may make you think of a person, particular situations will make you think of your addiction. If you keep ringing the bell, but not producing food, the dog's mouth will stop watering when the bell rings.
There is a time limited nature for cravings; they usually peak and disappear in an hour or under, if not followed by drug use or activating your addiction. After a while the cravings will come less frequently and will become easier to manage, until they stop. So each craving you do not give into brings you closer to no cravings at all.
Experiencing Cravings
For some you may be experience constant cravings, it may be cognitive and you can't get it out of your head, for others physical, or even emotional, distressing thoughts can make you get nervous. Cravings will vary depending on the individual and the addiction.
For some people it's a big problem, others deny it, you may find that you have just ignored cravings and then found yourself being impulsive and indulged in your addiction.
It is important to be aware of what triggers, places, events, people or emotions produce cravings as these may be high risk situations that you need to avoid.
Dealing with Late Night Cravings: 5 Keys
This will help you to recognise cravings for what they are, avoid high risk situations, triggers and cope with cravings rather than act on them.
1. Distraction Techniques: Do some exercises, housework, find a hobby, go to events, call or visit a friend, play computer games, go for a walk, have a tea of coffee, cook a meal, do something nice for someone else, watch a good film. Find something you enjoy that will distract you.
2. Talk About It. Have a conversation with a friend, relative or professional who supports you giving up and changing your additive behaviour. They can help you find alternative coping strategies or maybe resolve some of the issues which trigger you emotionally.
3. Go With The Craving: Get an image of surfing a wave. The idea is to let the craving occur, peak and pass. The idea is not to make it disappear, but to experience it in a different way, which makes it less dangerous. Relax and focus on the experience, focus on how it feels, where it is, how strong it is, if it moves or changes. When it's over rate how intense it was before and after on a scale of 1- 10.
4. Remember The Negative Consequences:List on an index card the reasons why you want to stop using and the negative consequences of starting again/carrying on. Keep the card in your purse/wallet and read it when the craving starts. Add things to the card as you think of them, or as things change.
5. Positive Self Talk: Saying positive things to yourself can be a simple way of keeping your sense of control over the cravings. It is helpful if you already have the statements prepared in your head so that you can call upon it when the cravings are strong. Some examples are: I can cope with this, it will pass soon. I am stronger than this craving; I'm going to prove it.There is no craving that is more important than all my hard work, I'll beat this. I've done it before, I can do it again.

Just Two Smoke-Free Freedoms

People Want Freedom 'From'!
All over the world in so many places we read about in the daily news: People are rioting for freedom. "We Want Our Freedom" they cry- with loud voices along with large placards. 'And great for them!' I say. But have you thought how most of what they talk about with this famous freedom of theirs is FREEDOM FROM. Freedom from a dictatorship... freedom from entrenched dictators, But the key word is always FROM. In other words they want to be free FROM some thing,... from something, from what they don't like.
What About Freedom 'To'?
And certainly, you need to first get freedom FROM. But do we hear much 
about what they'd like freedom TO DO... What they want it TO BE. They don't seem to talk about THAT. And THAT is what I feel is the problem with folks who are preached to stop their smoking- to get their freedom from nicotine and from the nasty parts of their cigarettes. And that's all well and good. But what are these smokers told to do with their great freedom? Once they get freedom FROM their smoking, what can they then have freedom TO DO, TO BE?
Have you ever wondered? Yes, once you stop smoking you breathe better, you smell better, your health is much better, You can live much longer. As I say, it's all well and good. But what do you want TO DO with your freedom once you have freedom FROM your smoking?
So Many Things To Do!
I really don't hear much from any of the plans about what your freedom allows you to do once it's yours. It is a funny thing why we all don't go there often. And it is only when folks have freedom to do some great things that the smoking habit begins to look very debilitating for those who have it. You see, there are so many things you will have freedom to do once you are free from all your smoking.
"What Sort Of Things?" You Ask!
"What sort of things?" You ask? Well, let's start at the low end of ourselves: The Instinctive. Now you'll have freedom to romp around with grandkids- play with them till they've had enough- not stop when you're worn out. You'll have freedom now to build up your whole Instinctive Force- work out in a way that totally benefits-without concern for heart attacks. You'll have freedom to build up your capacity to exercise as someone much younger than you now are. And moving up from there- There's freedom for intimacy-- a lot more than before. And if your partner wants to bear children, you'll have freedom now to impregnate her much more quickly than if you were smoking and less virile.
I Could Go On And On!
I could go on and on with many more freedoms you'll now have: to accomplish things- but suffice it to know from just these examples: that freedom from smoking really grants you greater freedom to fulfill life's blessings for you and all those whom you love.