Find the latest news regarding addiction and mental health treatment from Behavioral Health of the Palm Beaches.

Movies About Drug Abuse

Hollywood is known for its glitz, glam, and drama.  With new movies coming out every year, the goal is to entertain, and dramatization is one way to capture and captivate their audience.

Unfortunately, with drama also comes many inaccuracies. There are many movies about drug abuse in particular, but as a South Florida behavioral healthcare center that has plenty of experience working with drug addicts, we know that a lot of them get it wrong.

Inaccurate Films About Drug Addiction

Not only do the films get it wrong, but many movies related to drug addiction glorify drugs. They focus on the high and the fun of partying rather than the crash and the impending negatives that come with it. These films aren’t just inaccurate, but they can be a bad influence as well. One study found that teenagers with the most exposure to alcohol use in films were more likely to try alcohol than their peers who had minimum exposure.1

Our residential rehab in Palm Beach is listing some movies related to drug abuse that got it wrong.

Pineapple Express

This action comedy is a memorable film about marijuana that shows the drug in a comedic light. Although the main character is on the run because of his smoking habits, the exaggerated story seems so farfetched that it does little to actually deter anyone from smoking. The movie’s comedic tone also doesn’t show the reality of a drug addiction and the negatives the come with it. Instead, it may only make someone want to try marijuana more.

The Wolf of Wall Street

Prescription drugs, alcohol, and cocaine play a major role in this movie. Based loosely on the true story of Jordan Belfort, The Wolf of Wall Street often uses drug use as comedic relief or as a way to enhance the lifestyle of the rich and famous. The main characters are always partying and when Belfort overdoses and tries to drive home, the scene is meant to be hilarious. Besides the financial trouble that ensues, the movie doesn’t discuss withdrawal symptoms, a drug detox, or the negative health effects of long-term drug abuse. The real-life daughter of Tom Prousalis, an associate of Jordan Belfort, even spoke out about the film saying, “Your film is a reckless attempt at continuing to pretend that these sorts of schemes are entertaining…We want to get lost in what? These phony financiers’ fun sexcapades and coke binges?”

We’re The Millers

A great movie for a good laugh, We’re the Millers depicts drug smuggling in a comedic and less than accurate light. A group of four people pose as a family on vacation in Mexico and use an RV to transport an enormous amount of drugs back to the United States. While the movie take a lighthearted look at what can happen when people get mixed in with the drug trade, the comedic moments overshadow the actual danger. The film also has a happy ending for the “family” of drug smugglers even though they broke the law.

Superbad

This comedic tale of two misfit teenagers mentions drugs and alcohol a whopping 172 times. The focus on partying and drinking neglects the negatives that come with drug abuse. Instead, drug and alcohol abuse are seen as cool, harmless, and lots of fun.

Real life addictions are often much more serious than what you will see in the movies about drug abuse. If you or a loved one is struggling with substance abuse, get help immediately. Call us today at 888-280-4763 to get started and to learn more about Behavioral Health of the Palm Beaches.

 

Sources:

  1. AAP News & Journals Gateway – Alcohol Use in Films and Adolescent Alcohol Use

 

 

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Signs of A Functioning Alcoholic

To many people, the stereotypical alcoholic is someone who is noticeably drunk most of the time.

They might be isolated from their friends and family because of their drinking. They may have lost their job because they were hungover and may even be homeless carrying around a bottle in a brown paper bag. While some people with alcohol abuse disorder may fit this mold, not everyone qualifies. Some alcoholics you may never suspect.

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Cocaine Found Floating Off the Coast of The Florida Keys

Many tourists flock to the Florida Keys for their fishing charters, but fish may not be the only things you will find in those waters.

Cocaine was found floating off the coast of the Florida Keys in early August. The U.S. Coast Guard recovered the cocaine bails and an investigation on where they came from began.

In the span of three days, the Coast Guard found six bails total of the illegal drug after boaters began reporting the floating bails. The first bail of cocaine was found floating 10 miles east of Islamorada. The next day, two more bails of cocaine were found. Finally, on the third day, three more bails were discovered, only this time 15 miles east of Marathon. Together, the bails contained over 280 pounds of cocaine that is worth an estimated $3.8 million.

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Florida drug bust

Florida Drug Bust

The Largest Drug Bust in Brevard County History

Known for the Kennedy Space Center and the quiet beaches, Brevard County is not usually the place for crime or drug busts, but recently this sleepy county made big news. After a six-month investigation, there was the largest drug bust in Brevard County history. 60 people have already been arrested and more than 100 people have warrants out for their arrest. Brevard County police found firearms, $100,000 in cash, and a combination of drugs including kilos of fentanyl, meth, and heroin. Brevard County Sherriff Wayne Ivey commented, “That is enough fentanyl to kill everyone in Brevard County.”1

Not only was this Brevard County drug bust spanning across the county, but the sheer enormity of the bust leads to suspicion that the illegal activity was reaching outside of Florida as well. The suspects involved in the drug operation range in age and gender, proving that drug abuse knowns no bounds. The three suspected leaders of the drug trafficking include Brand Huff, Jonathan Walker, and Megan Wilborn who were taken to Brevard County Jail with high bails. 1

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Former Cardinal Newman star who’s NFL career was cut short is now saving lives

Philadelphia, PA (CBS12) — Chris T Jones took Philadelphia by storm in 1996. The receiver from Cardinal Newman High School and the University of Miami seemed to be on the path of to be a superstar wide receiver.

But it all fell apart for him. Now. instead of being an NFL legend, he’s helping others.. whose lives are falling apart

Jones works as a supervisor for Behavioral Heath of the Palm Beaches,a drug rehabilitation program, helping those that have lost their way get back on their feet. It’s a process that the West Palm Beach native has lived through himself.

In 1996, Jones was one of the best receivers in the NFL, and was poised to sign a big contract to stay with the Philadelphia Eagles. One day during the preseason he was offered a 5 year, 15 million dollar contract.

I turned it down that day,” says Jones. “And that evening, we were playing the Baltimore Ravens, and I got tackled (and injured my knee), and I didn’t even have to be in there.

Jones never got his big contract, and his knee never was the same. Then another similar hit two preseasons later ended his NFL career.

“I had days that I went into depression from the drinking, abusing the medication, hanging out with the wrong crowd.”

But over time, Jones found a way to deal with that depression. “You ask yourself why me? But I’m a faith based individual, and I turned to God, and I guess that’s not my calling.”

Jones has found that calling now. He may not have been able to pick himself off that Veterans Field turf, but now he’s helping to pick up those that have hit rock bottom. A much more admirable feat than scoring touchdowns.

Despite playing just one full season in the NFL, Chris T. Jones remains in the NFL record books. He and receiver Irving Fryar combined for 158 catches, which remains tops in Eagles history for a receiving tandem.

 

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photo of a closeup of person's eyes and forehead covered in many different color paints

The Myth of Drugs and Creativity: Mental Illness’ Role in the Using Artist

Drugs and CreativityThe writer sits at his table, a drink in hand and ready for the downing. The painter stands at her canvas, having recently smoked a bliff, and contemplates the pigments on the surface of her latest work. The musician runs on stage, revved up on coke and ready to wow the crowd.

Whether touted as an emblem of counter-cultural freedom from the restrictive thinking of mainstream society or reputed to stimulate the imagination, drugs and alcohol have been linked with the artistic process for some time now. Both celebrated and aspiring creatives often dabble in drugs at one point or another in their lives. Though emerging from different walks of life, many artists fall into a tradition that began well before the 20th century and that has been maintained by legends like Pablo Picasso, The Beatles, and most recently Prince. Cocaine, methamphetamines, marijuana, alcohol – these are all part of the artist’s toolkit, right?

Not exactly.

A Myth That Enables Addiction

This common trope of drugs as elixirs of creativity is misleading and, when taken too far, irrevocably harmful. America’s favorite horror author Stephen King, who famously struggled with alcoholism and a number of drug addictions throughout his life, has no patience for those who claim that drugs inspire creativity.[1] As he states in On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, “The idea that the creative endeavor and mind-altering substances are entwined is one of the great pop-intellectual myths of our time.” The mystique that drugs hold in society is just that — an illusion.

the idea that the creative endeavor and mind-altering substances are entwined is one of the great pop-intellectual myths of our time.

When it comes down to it, King goes on to argue, artists who claim to use illicit substances to stir their creative juices are more-or-less trying to justify their inclination toward such self-destructive behavior. “But I need it to write!” or “I can’t express myself artistically without it” are not valid excuses but are instead symptomatic of a larger problem at hand: abuse and/or addiction. Drugs don’t make artists — they break them.

Stress and its Many Sources

Connection between drugs, alcohol and creativityThough those who abuse and become addicted to drugs are not one in the same and range in socioeconomic status, race, gender and other qualities, what they often do share is stress. Unstable households, physical pain or the pressures from school or work are stressors that can drive individuals to self-medicate through available drugs.

However, mental illness is one of the most prominent sources of stress that pulls people toward abusing substances in attempt to relieve or cope with their conditions. In fact, approximately a third of all individuals who experience a mental illness and about half of people living with severe mental illnesses also have substance abuse issues, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI).[2]

For reasons not yet fully understood, rates of mental illness are also high among artists, and understanding this link may help explain why so many artists are drawn toward drugs.

Mentally Ill or Creatively Inclined? The Two Often Go Hand-in-Hand

bipolar disorder and creativityWhile the belief that creativity is dependent on drugs is, as King put it, just a “pop-intellectual myth,” the stereotype of the tortured artist does have some credence (though is certainly not all-defining). A body of research suggests that there is a strong link between mental illness and creativity. In 2012, Sweden’s Karolinska Institute found that, “People in creative professions are treated more often for mental illness than the general population.” [3]

In one of the most comprehensive studies conducted in this field, the researchers used a registry of psychiatric patients listed for over the past 40 years, containing data on nearly 1.2 million Swedes and their relatives. Analyzing patients with a variety of diagnoses, ranging from schizophrenia and depression to ADHD and anxiety syndromes, they saw that bipolar disorder was the most prevalent among people with artistic and scientific professions, including dancers, researchers, photographers and authors.

The creative figure of the author, however, seemed to be especially burdened by mental disorders more-so than other individuals, artistic or otherwise. The study stated that ‘authors suffered from schizophrenia and bipolar disorder more than twice as often as the general population.’ [4] They were also more likely to be diagnosed with depression and anxiety disorders, and they also had a greater tendency to commit suicide.

Abusing Drugs to Cope with Mental Illness

emotional pain and artSo, we know the facts: a considerable number of artists experience mental illness. Since those who are mentally ill often abuse substances or have substance use disorders, according to the NAMI statistics, it stands to reason that many artists also have drug problems. Though some try to convince themselves that their lingering, preoccupying desire for another hit is a testament to their creative genius, the real story is that many artists cling to substances for a false sense of stability. They want to relieve the distress of their mental disorder left untreated, and too often they turn to drugs as a way of coping. But this only harms them in the long run.

What starts out as a casual experiment can quickly turn into abuse when an illicit substance temporarily dulls emotional pain or provokes euphoric feelings of delight in the user. Eventually, the body and mind can become so dependent on the drug that the user continues to abuse it in order just to function. This is when addiction sets in.

Case Study: Eminem’s Descent into Drug Addiction and His Sober Awakening

Take Eminem, one of the most versatile and provocative artists of the rap and hip-hop world. Though only revealed later in his career in 2008 that he has been grappling with bi-polar disorder for most of his life, his feelings of raw anger and emotional instability were exceedingly clear in his lyrics.[5] He also suffered from prescription pill addiction and even nearly died from an overdose at one point, according to MTV News.[6]

“It’s no secret I had a drug problem,” he was quoted admitting. “If I was to give you a number of Vicodin I would actually take in a day? Anywhere between 10 to 20. Valium, Ambien, the numbers got so high I don’t even know what I was taking.”

Eminem drug addictionAnd how did he get so hooked? Through the psychological and physical relief that the substances instilled in him, countering the near-constant emotional instability that he experienced from his mental illness. “When I took my first Vicodin, it was like this feeling of ‘Ahh.’ Like everything was not only mellow, but [I] didn’t feel any pain,” Eminem says in the documentary How To Make Money Selling Drugs, quoted by MTV News.[7]

“I don’t know at what point exactly it started to be a problem. I just remember liking it more and more. People tried to tell me that I had a problem. I would say, “Get that f____g person outta here. I can’t believe they said that sh_t to me.”

As Eminem’s addiction worsened, his motivation, physical health, and even his ability to string words together deteriorated. MTV News writes that at his lowest the drugs shut off his brain and made him so lazy he preferred watching TV to making new tracks.[8]

After seeking treatment and remaining sober for a year, Eminem came back to the recording studio. In 2009, he released Relapse: an album that openly discussed his struggle with addiction. But he comments that during Recovery, an album released a year later, is when he really began to repair the damage that the drugs took on him despite how impossible it felt at times.

“I had to learn to write and rap again, and I had to do it sober and 100 percent clean,” Eminem told MTV News. “That didn’t feel good at first. I mean it in the literal sense. I actually had to learn how to say my lyrics again; how to phrase them, make them flow, how to use force so they sounded like I meant them. I was relearning basic motor skills. I couldn’t control my hand shakes. I’d get in the [recording] booth and tried to rap, and none of it was clever, none was witty and I wasn’t saying it right.”

Yet he did it, creating an award-winning album that stands as a testament to how only sobriety can unlock the true potential of an artist.

Let Our Treatment Help You Find Your Creative Flow Again

Eminem\’s Recovery is dedicated, “Anyone who’s in a dark place tryin’ to 2 get out. Keep your head up… It does get better!”[9] We couldn’t have said it better ourselves.

I actually had to learn how to say my lyrics again; how to phrase them, make them flow, how to use force so they sounded like I meant them.

Though the confusion, frustration and emotional agony that can come along with an untreated mental illness and drug addiction can seem insurmountable, there is a way out. Behavioral Health of the Palm Beaches’ dual diagnosis program is sensitive to the hardships unique to both mental health and substance use disorders, and our professionals are experienced in treating both conditions simultaneously.

At our facilities, artists can also continue creatively expressing themselves as a way of working through their conditions. We offer art therapy, music therapy, and expressive writing therapy for those who want to discover what it means to be creative while sober.

Don’t let drug addiction get in the way of what’s important in your life. Contact us at 888-432-2467 to learn more about our addiction help and mental health treatment options and how we can help you or a loved one find the courage to recover.

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photo of a group of baby boomers sitting together at an outdoor party drinking alcohol

Substance Abuse on the Rise with Baby Boomers

Overlooking a Growing Dilemma

Substance abuse, particularly of alcohol and prescription drugs, among baby boomers is one of the fastest growing health issues facing our country. Yet, even as the number of older adults suffering from these disorders increases, the situation remains relatively hidden from the public’s eye. While substance abuse among the young is surveyed, categorized and analyzed, addiction problems of the parents and grandparents of these youths are virtually ignored.

Addiction problems of the parents and grandparents of these youths are virtually ignored.

The reasons for this oversight can be due to a lack of knowledge, limited available research statistics or even hurried doctor visits that overlook symptoms or attribute them to other health issues. As people age, medical issues, such as high-blood pressure, diabetes, dementia and others, can present symptoms that mirror the ones associated with addiction.  However, a better assessment of the problems associated with substance abuse among baby boomers is needed.

The Numbers are Rising

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), alcohol use among individuals aged 50+ is sustainably higher than illicit drug use. [1] The 2014 and 2015 SAMHSA’s Behavioral Health Barometer, which provides overviews of behavioral health in the United States, reported the following information on baby boomers: [2]

The use of illegal substances by older adults is on the rise. The generation who grew up in the “Age of Sex, Drugs and Rock & Roll” often see drugs as a way to combat loneliness and depression. Long-term recreational drug users, such as marijuana smokers, may now be facing increasing physiological problems associated with aging and drug use. Extended periods of isolation from retirement, “empty nest” or reduced interpersonal interactions tend to escalate substance use. Individuals who are hard-core drug users are at an even higher risks of serious physical decline, possibly leading to an early death. In 2013, more than 12,000 boomers died from accidental drug overdose. [3]Elements that contribute to higher alcohol use among older adults include significant changes in life, such as retirement, loss of family and friends and a decline in mental or physical health. Additional factors that make older individuals more vulnerable to inappropriate alcohol use include insomnia, family history of substance abuse, and having a psychiatric illness, such as depression or anxiety.

Misperceptions and Addiction

According to the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM), addiction is a primary, chronic disease of brain reward, motivation, memory and related circuitry. It is characterized by biological, psychological, social and spiritual symptoms. [4] Addiction, like Alzheimer’s disease, is a disorder of the brain that can affect both young and old. The lack of attention to this problem in older individuals may stem from the false beliefs that addiction results from a lack of willpower. So, this could result in a “shame” associated with substance abuse, which then leads to a reluctance to seek professional help and attempting to handle the issue privately and discretely. Their relatives, especially adult children, are often embarrassed by the problem and purposely choose to ignore it.

Ageism can also contribute to the silence associated with substance abuse in baby boomers. Young people often assign a different set of standards to older individuals. However, it is the belief that substance abuse can be overlooked in older individuals because of far-fetched reasons, such as: “It doesn”t make a difference since they are near the end of their lives anyway,” or “Grandma needs her ‘Happy Juice’ because she is so much easier to manage after she has it.” These attitudes are not only callous, they rely on false perceptions. Somehow, it becomes acceptable to ignore addiction problems with baby boomers. The same disorder that would have a family rallying around and staging an intervention for a teenager does not illicit the same sense of urgency for a grandparent.

Small Amounts, Big Effects

The reality is that the misuse and abuse of alcohol and drugs takes a greater toll on baby boomers than younger individuals. As people age, the way that their bodies metabolize alcohol and other substances slows. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), as the body goes through aging changes, alcohol and drugs cannot be broken down and eliminated from the body as easily.  Thus, they remain in the body longer and even a small amount can have a strong effect. [5] Some of the risks include increased number of falls, greater levels of confusion and higher potential to interactions with other medications.

Telling Mom and Dad That They Need Help

It is a difficult situation when a child has to tell Mom or Dad that they need help for a substance problem.

Increased mood swings, difficulties making decisions, disorientation and just not seeming like themselves can be symptoms of a substance abuse problem and not just general characteristics of the aging process. However, it is a difficult situation when a child who has always relied on his or her parents to make wise choices, now has to tell Mom or Dad that they need help for a substance problem.

Unfortunately, our society does not fully recognize the seriousness and extent of substance misuse in older adults. As the number of older individuals with addiction problems grows, better methods for early identification of the signs are needed. In an article in Today’s Geriatric Medicine, some of the steps are:

  • Improving quality of care, including training and broadening dissemination of effective practices;
  • Integrating substance abuse, health, mental health and aging services to provide comprehensive care tailored to the needs of the individual consumer who presents with co-occurring, multiple needs;
  • Building a clinically and culturally competent workforce through education and training of providers, increasing the supply of competent providers, especially those who are bilingual and culturally competent and using older adults in peer-to-peer service roles more extensively;
  • Increasing support for family caregivers, including education about medication management and signs of alcohol and drug abuse;
  • Providing public education to address ageism, stigma, ignorance and fears about treatment and its effectiveness;
  • Improving research on effective prevention, intervention and recovery support strategies
  • Developing governmental and private sector readiness including leadership, planning and program development. [6]

Too Much Time On Your Hands

The generation that grew up in an era that romanticized drug use and rebellion is now preparing to retire. Uninhibited by work responsibilities and parental duties, many of the baby boomers are using the extra time to relive their youth and return to a favorite pastime. If you are concerned about an older friend or family member, Behavioral Health of the Palm Beaches is ready to help. With nearly 20 years of experience, our doctors and other medical professionals can develop a treatment program that encompasses baby boomers’ needs. When you are ready to get back those good feelings without misusing alcohol and drugs, call us at (888) 432-2467.

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photo of bartender pouring alcohol into a row of shot glasses

Alcohol Still One of The Nation’s Deadliest Drugs

While much of the national discussion about substance abuse and addiction has been focused on the rising death tolls surrounding prescription opioids and heroin use, alcohol-induced deaths remain perched near the top.

New data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) showed that the alcohol-induced death rate has increased nearly 23 percent since 1999. It also revealed that almost 31,000 people died as a result of alcohol abuse in 2014, surpassing the death toll from opioid overdoses. When accounting for deaths from drunk driving, other accidents and homicides committed under the influence of alcohol, the death toll spiked to 88,000 in 2014, making alcohol the second deadliest drug in America, only behind tobacco. [1]

Why Americans Are Drinking More and More

Given the various factors that lead an individual to alcohol consumption and abuse, pinpointing an exact reason why alcohol-related deaths have increased is extremely difficult, if not impossible. But one of the simplest reasons is that Americans are drinking more. The number of Americans who reported having a drink in the previous month has increased along with the rising death toll. [2]

The most significant increase is in the female demographic, who reported more drinking and binge drinking than in the past. In 2006, 45.2 percent of women reported drinking within the past month, and 15.2 percent admitted to binge drinking (five or more drinks in one occasion). In 2014, those numbers climbed to 48.4 percent and 16.4 percent, respectively.

Another factor is that alcohol is more affordable than it has been in six decades, according to a study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine. The study attributed this to rising incomes and stagnant alcohol taxes. [3]

What’s Leading to More Deaths?

A rise in alcohol consumption does not necessarily lead to an increase in alcohol-related deaths. In fact, while more and more people are drinking alcohol, binge-drinking and heavy alcohol use have not increased population-wide, according to the National Survey on Drug Abuse. Many industry experts have pointed to the opioid painkiller and heroin epidemic as a reason why.

It’s extremely dangerous to mix prescription painkillers and alcohol. When taken together, opioids and alcohol intensify the effects of the other drug. Additionally, approximately one-third of opioid deaths now involve benzodiazepines, such as Xanax. Benzodiazepines can enhance the effects of alcohol, which may explain why death rates from alcohol have risen at the same time as death rates from prescription drugs.

What Can Be Done?

Leading researchers are pointing to the need for legislative action. It is impossible to completely eliminate all substance use and abuse, as was shown during the nation’s failed attempt at prohibition in the 1920s. But just because alcohol abuse and the resulting deaths can’t be eliminated doesn’t mean that they can’t be reduced. Many leading researchers are pointing to the need for legislative action and federal policy changes.

One of the loudest calls is for an increase on alcohol tax, as written by David Roodman, senior adviser for the Open Philanthropy Project: [4]

“Higher prices do correlate with less drinking and lower incidence of problems such as cirrhosis deaths. And I see little reason to doubt the obvious explanation: higher prices cause less drinking. A rough rule of thumb is that each 1 percent increase in alcohol price reduces drinking by 0.5 percent. Extrapolating from some of the most powerful studies, I estimate an even larger impact on the death rate from alcohol-caused diseases: 1-3 percent within months. By extension, a 10 percent price increase would cut the death rate 9-25 percent. For the US in 2010, this represents 2,000-6,000 averted deaths/year.”

A 10 percent increase, put in context, amounts to only a few extra cents and dollars on a bottle of wine, spirits or on a six-pack of beer, but could save thousands of lives.

Parents Must Set Better Examples

One of the greatest predictors of a person’s future drinking habits is their parents’ patterns. It has been shown that children of alcoholics are approximately four times more likely to develop alcohol abuse problems than the rest of the population. [5] It has also been shown that children may mirror their parents’ drinking habits when they become adults. [6]

Even further than parents directing the future substance abuse habits of their children, they are also often the easiest place for kids to acquire alcohol. According to a study published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, children who had sipped alcohol by the time they were in sixth grade were about five times more likely to have a full drink by high school and four times more likely to binge and get drunk. [7]

Quite obviously, the most likely place for an underage person to get alcohol is from his or her parents:

  • Nearly half of kids between ages 12 and 14 who drink got their alcohol for free from a family member or at home. [8]
  • Approximately 709,000 U.S. kids between ages 12-14 have had at least one alcoholic beverage in the last month. [9]
  • Of this group, 93.4 percent said they got their alcohol for free last time they drank.
  • 44.8 percent of kids who got free alcohol said it was from a parent or in their home.
  • 19.6 percent got alcohol from another underage person
  • 13.5 percent from an unrelated adult
  • 6.8 percent from someone else’s home.
  • 8.7 percent got alcohol from other miscellaneous source
  • 6.6 percent paid for their alcohol
  • People who begin drinking alcohol before age 15 are six times more likely to develop alcohol problems than those who wait till they are 21. [10]

By working to reshape the thoughts and attitudes children have about alcohol use and abuse, parents can sow the seeds for a better future with fewer alcohol-induced deaths. This begins with parents setting examples with their actions as well as their words.

Start Setting a Better Example by Seeking Help

No matter how long you’ve been abusing alcohol or to what extent alcoholism has taken hold, it’s never too late to ask for help. If you’ve allowed alcohol and drug abuse to take over your life and dominate your habits, set an example your kids won’t soon forget by admitting you have a problem, acknowledging the need for treatment, completing rehab and turning around your life.

Behavioral Health of the Palm Beaches will guide you through each step of the process, from a medically administered alcohol detox all the way to a year’s worth of aftercare services. Contact us today at 888-432-2467 to learn more about our treatments, family-themed therapies and nationally recognized facilities.

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photo of former Florida Governor Jeb Bush at recent republican debate talking about the problem of addiction in the U.S.

Jeb Bush: Daughter Noelle Bush’s Drug Addiction Leads to a Father’s Strategy

Jeb Bush’s Daughter on Drugs

With a lineage that consists of two U. S. presidents, a U.S. senator, two governors, president of major industrial manufacturer and several successful businessmen, one would not expect to find a drug addict on any branch of the respected Bush family tree. However, Noelle Bush is an addict. As the only daughter of Republican Presidential candidate John Ellis “Jeb” Bush, Noelle has endured a long and trying struggle with drug addiction.  In today’s society, substance abuse knows no boundaries. Regardless of gender, race and socio-economic status, the allure of illicit substances continues to have a strong magnetic pull over a significant portion of the population.

Jeb Bush recently addressed the challenges that he and his family have encountered while dealing with his daughter’s disease. As the potential holder of the highest U. S. governmental office, he has outlined steps to fight the drug epidemic in this country. He recognizes that this is a long-term dilemma that needs a long-term solution. According to Bush, “It will take real leadership that makes solving the problem a top priority.”

Noelle Bush on Drugs: An Uncontrollable Spiral

Noelle did not wake up one morning and decide to use heroin. However, she did become a statistic in the opiate crisis that is overwhelming this country. In 2012, 259 million prescriptions for opioid pain medication were written, which is enough for every American to have a bottle of pills.1

Opioid abuse serves as a key to unlocking dormant compulsions within a person’s brain. The resulting addiction is defined as a chronic, relapsing disease that alternates the brain’s mechanisms due to sustained drug use. Some of its symptoms are:

  • Persistent desire or unsuccessful effort to stop or reduce the use of substance
  • Lack of behavioral control, i.e. overwhelming cravings, taking undue risks, etc.
  • Inability to recognize significant behavior and relationship problems
  • Inappropriate emotional responses

Without a proper Florida opioid detox program like ours, addiction often involves spiraling between relapse and remission. This never-ending cycle places an enormous amount of stress on a family. But, when your family is in the public eye, the additional pressures are unimaginable. With Noelle Bush on drugs, her struggle serves as an eye-opening experience for the man who was once a presidential hopeful.

A Slippery Slope

Transitioning From Prescription Medicine to Addiction

The transition from a prescription for OxyContin to heroin is not a difficult one. According to the Journal of American Medical Association, approximately 75 percent of patients addicted to opioids will switch to heroin as a cheaper substitution.2

The ease-of-access and lower costs were cited as the two major reasons for the conversion.  This also introduces even greater dangers. Because heroin is illegal and unregulated, it can be laced with anything. Users are virtually unaware of exactly what they are putting in their bodies. They can quickly become addicted and before they realize it, they will need a professional heroin medically-monitored detox treatment in order to get themselves to stop.

One Vision For Drug Changes

In 1989, a group of concerned professionals came together to address the drug epidemic by forming the first drug court. The idea was simple;  to stop treating substance abusers as criminals and to recognize that they were facing a disease that requires more help than just jail time.

The concept of combining medical professionals with the judiciary system to create a treatment program that could break the continual recovery-relapse loop was revolutionary. While drug courts have proven to be very effective, the exponential growth of substance abuse in the U. S. requires additional methods of combat.

Jeb Bush’s Strategy: Tackling the Addiction Problem

With Noelle Bush on drugs for a lot of her life, the next step was for her to receive professional treatment. Noelle is an addict, but she is also currently in recovery after successfully graduating from the drug court system. In a recent post, Jeb Bush not only addressed Noelle’s substance problems, but he also identified tactics for dealing with the drug epidemic in this country. His versatile strategies included:

  • Preventing drug abuse and addiction before it starts
  • Strengthening criminal justice
  • Securing the border to stop the flow of illicit drugs
  • Improving drug abuse treatment and recovery programs.

1. Prevention Programs

With drug addiction starting at younger ages, the best time for discussion is during early childhood. Before Noelle Bush was on drugs, there was a missed opportunity for prevention. Children need to develop strong coping mechanisms so that drugs don’t appear as the only viable option for handling pressure. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) developed a list of the 16 principles for developing a prevention program. Some of the key factors are:

  • Enhance protective factors and reverse or reduce risk factors
  • Address all forms of drug abuse
  • Deal with the drug abuse in the local community
  • Tailor program to address risks specific to population or audience characteristics
  • Enhance family bonding and relationships
  • Design the package to intervene as early as preschool
  • Target improving academic and social-emotional learning to address risk factors for drug abuse (Elementary school students)
  • Increase academic and social competence in various areas (Middle/High school students)
  • Aim initiatives at general populations and key transition points, such as the transition to middle school
  • Combine two or more effective programs, such as family-based and school-based programs
  • Present consistent, community-wide message in multiple settings, including schools, clubs, faith-based organization and the media
  • Retain the core elements (Structure, Content and Delivery) when adapted to meet the needs of the community
  • Should be long-term with repeated interventions
  • Include teacher training on good classroom management
  • Employ interactive techniques
  • Should be cost-effective 3

2. Adding Support to the Justice System

The justice system is littered with addicts and the mentally ill. Many statistics reveal the overall ineffectiveness of incarceration. Recently, a report revealed that over half of the federal prisoners are serving time for drug crimes.4

While drug courts are helping, other options for dealing with addiction in the judicial system are needed.

Drug courts provide an additional mechanism for dealing with the effects of addiction. Since their initial introduction in 1989, they have expanded to include courts dedicated to families, adults, veterans, DWI-related and juveniles. Courts have also been established to deal with parolees’ reentries into the community after incarceration. These specific courts help with jobs, housing and any other services that will keep the individuals drug-free. As of June 2015, over 3,000 drug courts are in operation in the United States.5 While drug courts are helping, other options for dealing with addiction in the judicial system are needed.

3. Drug Seizures

Drug seizures at the U. S. borders are constantly making headlines. While there are many governmental departments that handle drug interdiction, Bush suggests that direct intervention from the highest offices would have the most impact on improving border control.

He affirms that the establishment of better relationships with the nations responsible for the majority of illicit substances will lessen the drug flow. Whether it’s better border patrol, guidelines or coordination, stopping drugs before they enter this country is one of the best ways to reduce drug abuse.

4. Better Drug Recovery Program

With his daughter, Noelle Bush, on drugs and in treatment, the last part of Bush’s strategy called for improvement in residential addiction treatment programs and recovery programs for drug addiction. At Behavioral Health of the Palm Beaches (BHOPB), we offer a comprehensive program designed to deal with the addiction disease. In a warm and welcoming environment, we empower our patients with the tools that they need to manage and overcome their affliction.

With intervention, detox, and holistic approaches, we can design a strategy that will help you become a better you. Noelle was on drugs, but she has started recovery, and so can you. For more information about a drug rehabilitation plan for you, call our Florida drug treatment center at 888-280-4763.

Sources:

  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – Opioid Painkiller Prescribing
  2. JAMA Network – The Changing Face of Heroin Use in the United States-A Retrospective Analysis of the Past 50 Years
  3. National Institute on Drug Abuse – Preventing Drug Use among Children and Adolescents (In Brief)
  4. U.S. Department of Justice – Prisoners in 2012
  5. National Institute of Justice – Drug Courts
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Pills and Marijuana

To Legalize or Not to Legalize: That Is the Question

There’s an argument, often made by libertarians, that all drugs should be legal. A person’s body is their own domain so what they do to it should be beyond government control. By and large, that sounds like a sound argument, I might agree. In this case, however, we have the opportunity to reflect on a time in our country’s past when all drugs were legal.

Why ignore history?

Around the turn of the 19th century, all drugs in the United Stated were legal. It’s not like anyone made a law stating that all drugs should be legal. There was never an opportunity to vote on whether or not we were going to have marijuana available for medical purposes. Drugs of all kinds were available because no one ever thought about controlling them.

I wonder how many people reading this remember the old western movies, even those of Gene Autry, Hopalong Cassidy and Roy Rogers. Some of those movies depicted medicine-shows or wagons selling “Feel Good Tonic” and even medications or “elixirs” for weight loss.

What was being sold seems to have been effective. “Feel Good Tonic” did make you feel good, as well it should have. It likely contained alcohol, cocaine, and probably an opiate like laudanum. The weight loss drugs probably worked too: ingesting a capsule containing the head of a tapeworm will make anyone lose weight, after all.

A Look into the Past

It may be helpful to look at where we were as a culture as 1899 turned to 1900. It was not too long after the end of the civil war. It has been estimated that somewhere between 600,000 and 650,000 soldiers lost their lives in that conflict. How many severe injuries were there? I don’t know. I do think painful injuries probably surpassed the number of deaths and that wartime injuries were often treated with morphine. I don’t know how many people became addicted to morphine, nor do I know how many people who were afflicted with “morphinism” passed the addiction on–it must have been a lot.

The preferred method of ingesting an opiate, other than morphine, became “opium eating.” The primary opiate of the day was Laudanum. It would have been more appropriate to call it “opium drinking” because Laudanum was actually a liquid. I don’t know who initially thought that cocaine would cure morphinism but Sigmund Freud wanting to “write a song of praise to this magical substance” probably didn’t help. 

Opium Comes to America

As Freud and the psychoanalysts of the era were arriving at Clark University on our East Coast, something else was influencing us on our West Coast. A lot of Chinese workers were building America’s railroads. Smoking opium was as much a part of that culture for them as watching a football game with a Budweiser in hand is for Americans.

As smoking opium began to pass from Chinese workers to American middle-class culture, an emotional reaction was triggered in the halls of Congress and gave brith to the the Pure Food and Drug Act passed in 1906 (at least Congress was doing something back then). The Pure Food and Drug Act really didn’t change much of what was going on. It just said that whoever was producing “Feel Good Tonic” had to put a label on it. It’s likely that triggered even more sales because customers could pick and choose their poison.

A lot of people were abusing drugs, including alcohol, cocaine, and opiates around 1900. Many were addicted (e.g. Annie Myers, Eight Years in Cocaine Hell, 1902). It’s likely that many families and livelihoods were affected. How come everyone doesn’t know this? What impact did addiction have on our country around 1900?

Things were not the same. The Wright brothers didn’t take off from Kitty Hawk until 1903 and America’s first car didn’t hit the road until 1908. There were no 300-passenger jet planes flying between New York and California; there were no Ferraris or SUVs driving along interstates at 70-80 mph. I doubt that farmers were using tractors that could be lethal or that there was as much machinery around that could seriously injure and kill people. A lot more people stayed at home and were able to keep their problems a secret.

Also, the American population at that time was around 78,000,000. Now it’s 330,000,000. What would the 1900 culture be like with a population of 330,000,000? Well, it would be like, as they say in Persia, “the fit hitting the Shan.”  

The Harrison Act Changes Everything

There were also clinics available, mostly in cities, with doctors who would provide maintenance medication to people who were addicted to morphine or laudanum. Everything came to a screeching halt with the passage of the Harrison Act in 1914. Clinics that were providing maintenance medications to addicts were swiftly closed. Physicians who defied the Harrison Act and continued to provide maintenance medications to addicts were jailed. The day after the passage of the Harrison Act, the price of drugs on the street became 50 times more expensive than it was the day before.

The Harrison Act criminalized addiction, prior to passage there was no connection between addiction and criminality like there is today.

Few things have impacted the culture of addiction more than the Harrison Act.

  • The most significant effect of the Harrison Act was that it criminalized addiction. Prior to passage there was no connection between addiction and criminality. There is today.
  • “Narcotic” came to mean all illegal drugs (not just those that derive from opium).
  • Heroin and marijuana were deemed to be equally as dangerous and both remain federal schedule 1 drugs today. Schedule 1 drugs are the perceived to have the most abuse potential and are the most highly regulated.

The Harrison Act has shaped thinking and behaviors for more than 100 years, for example a lot of people still think that all illegal drugs are “narcotic” drugs . Our prisons are overflowing with people convicted of drug-related crimes. The number of people in U.S. prisons is embarrassing. A rallying cry that could solve this problem has been a campaign to make all drugs legal. That would be another emotional response creating a policy that has already been made nonsensical by emotional responses.

But the question of whether or not drugs should be legal is not that simple. It’s not black or white. Legalization does not necessarily mean that crack cocaine and heroin should be available on every street corner. It does seem to me that an evolution is taking place rather than a revolution. In general, evolutions work better.

So Where are We and Where Will We Go?

  1. We could return to the times when every drug conceivable was readily available to everyone in any quantity, quality, and location. We could return to the days of local apothecaries. Personally, I don’t think that would be a good idea.
  2. The only drugs that I know of that are readily available to everyone in any quantity, quality, and location are alcohol and nicotine. How’s that working?
  3. As of April 2014 twenty states have approved marijuana’s use for certain medical conditions. The term “medical marijuana” is generally used to refer to the whole, unprocessed marijuana plant or its crude extracts, which are not approved as medicine by the FDA. Two of the chemicals contained in the marijuana plant that receive frequent attention are THC and CBD. THC gets you high, CBD doesn’t. Selective planting can yield plants high in CBD and low in THC and vice versa. THC is effective in treating the nausea caused by chemotherapy and the severe weight loss experienced by AIDS patients. CBD is effective for reducing the frequency of seizures. Two medications containing THC are FDA approved in the U.S. Two containing CBD are in process. Marijuana for recreational purposes is available in four states. For a full discussion of medical marijuana see the 2015 NIDA publication listed below.
  4. We do have clinics where people who have an addictive disease can get maintenance drugs. We provide methadone, buprenorphine and buprenorphine/naltrexone. These are not necessarily drugs of choice for people with addictive diseases and they can be abused. Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) is a controversial topic among addiction professionals. Before anyone rejects what is going on now, I think that we need to look at how we can use MAT on a large scale better than we do today. On a small scale, one that limits access, it works well.
  5. Researchers continue to work on safe medications to replace stimulant drugs such as cocaine.

Perhaps the question that we’re left with is whether or not we will make more recreational drugs that will cause impairment, drugs such as cocaine and heroin, legally available to the public? Where will they be available and under what conditions? We already allow for the use of alcohol and marijuana both of which can cause impairment. The inappropriate use of methadone and buprenorphine will also cause impairment.

We, as a culture, seem to have made the decision to tolerate a certain level of impairment despite the risks involved. We can go back to the libertarians and say a person’s body is their domain. However, the drugs we’re talking about effect us all.  A person may say “I will never drink and drive,” but alcohol is mind altering. When our minds are altered we make bad decisions. Sometimes those decisions lead to the next DUI or worse. Under the influence no one should bet on what they will do. The bottom line is that drug use will have an impact on us all . . . legal or illegal.

My best guess is that we will have to continue to assess the results of what we have only recently begun to do, e.g. medical and recreational use of marijuana. We’ll see what works and then decide what risks we are willing to take. Keeping things as they are today certainly involves risk; but evolution works.

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