5 Healthy Habits For Lasting Recovery From Addiction

Addiction recovery is a process that isn’t over when you stop using drugs or alcohol. It doesn’t end when treatment ends, either. If you go home thinking you’re cured and not being mindful of how you live your life, you risk relapse. 

Fortunately, developing and following healthy habits increases the chance of recovery success. Here are five healthy habits for lasting recovery.

1. Take Care Of Yourself

Most people who struggle with addiction neglect their physical and mental health. A successful recovery requires a complete change in the way you live, and taking care of yourself is the place to start.

Substance abuse often stems from an inability to deal with stress. Practicing stress management techniques and reducing the stress in your everyday life can prevent relapse. 

Since physical health and mental health are closely connected, nurturing your body goes a long way to decrease stress. 

A few ways to take care of yourself every day include:

  • A healthy diet: Drink enough water and eat enough food. Avoid processed foods whenever possible and eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. Eating poorly or being hungry makes it harder to think straight and stand firm in recovery.
  • Exercise: Exercise releases endorphins (brain chemicals that make you feel happy). It also reduces blood pressure and stress hormones. Choose a form of exercise that fits you—walking, yoga, kayaking—anything that gets you moving and makes you feel better.
  • Enough sleep: Most adults need seven or eight hours of sleep per night. More or less than that can leave you tired, which makes it harder to handle stress and may trigger substance use. Going to bed and waking up at the same time every day helps your body regulate sleep.

2. Connect With Others

If you attended an addiction treatment program, you probably participated in group therapy and support groups. Connecting with others is a vital part of getting out of the cycle of addiction.

When you’re isolated from others, you spend too much time with your thoughts. This can lead to many mental issues, such as depression, anxiety, and addiction. Being with others can give you a different perspective and lend you support when you feel helpless. 

Join a support group or reconnect with friends and family (other than those who abuse drugs or alcohol). Don’t be afraid to let in new people who support your recovery. Individuals who’ve also experienced addiction can be a comfort as they know what you’re going through.

Be sure to surround yourself with people who are positive and uplifting—not negative people who bring you down.

3. Be Creative

Writing, art, and music are creative ways to express yourself and your emotions. Creativity can be an outlet for frustration or an act of self-discovery. It’s a great way to relieve stress.

Being creative isn’t just about producing a work of art. It’s about changing the way you live. Develop new hobbies that can teach you things, fill your time, and boost your self-confidence. Do things that fulfill you and give meaning to your life.

Depending on drugs or alcohol to have fun or feel happy can make it hard to enjoy life without them. The way some substances affect the brain’s reward center makes this especially true. But if you start doing new fun things in recovery, your brain will adapt and reward you for your healthier choices.

4. Be Mindful

Many addiction treatment programs teach mindfulness, which is the act of being aware of your thoughts and the world around you. 

Mindfulness encourages people to enjoy the present rather than dwelling on the past or worrying about the future. This means savoring good experiences instead of missing them because your mind is somewhere else.

It also means paying attention to the things you do and not acting impulsively, which gives you more control over preventing relapse.

In recovery, you can practice mindfulness by staying away from people, places, and things that trigger substance abuse. Having a structured daily schedule can help. When you have a plan, you’re less likely to be bored or anxious, and it’s easier to avoid old habits.

Being mindful of your thoughts is also important in recovery. 

Part of healing is self-improvement and making up for bad things you’ve done in the past. But if you only focus on the negative, it might raise your chance of relapse. You need to recognize your strengths, too. 

Building on your strengths can give you confidence, separate you from your addiction, and make you a stronger person overall.

5. Be Grateful

If there’s ever a time to be grateful, it’s when you’re in recovery. You’ve broken free from addiction and are on your way to something better. Be grateful for your life, your health, and the people who support you.

When you start feeling negative or hopeless, list all the good things in your life. You’ll probably find that there is more to be thankful for than you realize. Focusing on the good can uplift your mood and give you the strength to carry on in recovery.

Some people feel that they don’t deserve good things after the damage they’ve caused by their addiction. Now is the time to forgive yourself and be grateful for this second chance.

If you’re struggling with addiction and want to make a change, speak with a treatment specialist at ARK Behavioral Health today. Our rehab programs teach healthy habits to give you the best chance of lasting recovery.

Written by Ark Behavioral Health Editorial Team
©2020 Ark National Holdings, LLC. | All Rights Reserved.

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Brief Brain Snacks

In this episode, Can The Brain Recover From Addiction, we explore the brain’s recovery from addiction to substances, like opioids and alcohol, and whether our brains are capable of making a complete recovery from any damage sustained from substance abuse and dependence. Can the brain recover from addiction? In honor of Micheal McClendon, 13 years sober prior to his passing in September 2018. He will be missed. Created by: Amanda Cortex Edited by: Aaron Amygdala ———- Support the show by becoming a patron on Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/briefbrainsnacks ———- Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/bbrainfacts Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/briefbrainsnack Instagram: http://instagram.com/briefbrainsnacks ———- References: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/bl…https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/bl…https://www.scientificamerican.com/ar…https://ajp.psychiatryonline.org/doi/…https://www.thelancet.com/journals/la…https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056… Images: Hammer – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Fi… Neuron – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Fi…

7 Ways Drugs & Alcohol Destroy Relationships

Maintaining a good relationship, whether it’s romantic or between family and friends, requires time and attention in addition to compassion and love. 

An unexamined relationship could have underlying problems that won’t become apparent until stress occurs, such as from financial difficulties or the emergence of drug or alcohol abuse. 

To help you avoid problems in your own life, or to recognize the signs of a fracturing bond, here are seven ways substance abuse can ruin relationships.

1. Secrets & Lies

When it comes to illegal drugs or using prescription drugs without authorization, your loved one may keep their use secret. Otherwise, they risk being shunned or stigmatized. 

In some cases, a person abusing alcohol or drugs will keep usage secret out of feelings of guilt and shame as well as not wanting to be judged. There is motivation to keep things under wraps, allowing secrets in the relationship to fester. 

This problem may unfortunately increase over time. Someone with addiction winds up doing things like hiding illicit substances in the house, periodically leaving for inexplicable trips, and lying to the people they love most.

2. Mental & Emotional Abuse

Under the influence of drugs and alcohol, your loved one may insult the people around them and increase verbal attacks to the point where it becomes mental abuse. 

Such ongoing abuse leads to mental health problems and feelings of low self esteem, whether directed at a parent, child, sibling, or close friend. Healthy relationships are not sustainable under conditions of ongoing emotional abuse.

3. Physical & Domestic Abuse

Injuring another person physically while abusing alcohol or drugs is an unfortunate reality. 

Someone who is out of control and not entirely aware of their physical capabilities can do some real damage. This is especially the case in parent-child relationships. 

Aside from the physical harm from fighting, the relationship will be effectively ended if someone is arrested or put in jail for domestic abuse. 

4. Loss Of Income & Stability

Losing your job is a distinct possibility when drug or alcohol abuse interferes with your ability to meet work obligations. If a pattern of absenteeism or tardiness emerges, the employer may have to take steps to put a stop to the pattern. 

But when your judgment is clouded because of alcohol or drugs, you may not be able easily comply with your boss’ instructions to fall in line. 

In a perfect world, you manage to take a leave of absence from work and enroll in a drug rehab facility. In reality, a chronically absent individual winds up being fired. 

The resulting loss of income, as well as feelings of shame and embarrassment, puts additional strain on relationships and threatens stability within the household. 

5. Loss Of Trust

Without a basic level of underlying trust, a relationship can quickly go sour, whether between friends, romance partners, or family. A person caught in the grips of drug abuse may continuously lie about their whereabouts, activities, or the people they’re spending time with. 

Sometimes trust dissolves in the presence of alcohol or drug addiction because of a pattern of broken promises, letdowns, and disappointments. 

For example, a father is coping with severe addiction and proclaims he will attend his child’s next music performance or little league baseball game, only to not show up once again. This causes a rift of mistrust to grow between parent and child.

6. Emotional Distance

When one half of a romantic couple loses control over alcohol or drug use, fights may happen more frequently. The strain of fighting can itself motivate the person to use even more drugs or alcohol, further complicating the dilemma.

At a certain point, this increased fighting can turn into a vicious circle. Without some intervention, including acknowledging that addiction is the disease, the relationship is more likely going to deteriorate further. 

Although it can be difficult, loved ones have the power to speak openly about their feelings and help motivate the person to seek therapy and treatment.

7. Codependency

In a codependent relationship, there is a power imbalance and a lack of harmony. A codependent person will tend to focus on their partner’s needs, ignoring their own. 

The problem here is that the partner with a drug or alcohol problem is being enabled. This could look like bailing your loved one out of jail or making excuses for their absences at work or school that were caused by intoxication. 

It’s easy to see, for example, how a codependent person would lie to a boss about her husband being sick when it’s actually the case that he has passed out or has gone missing while out on a bender with friends.

Although we mention several extreme hypotheticals, being in a relationship with someone with addiction is difficult. The good news is that there is hope in recovery for the whole family.

If you have any questions about the drug and alcohol rehab programs available at Ark Behavioral Health, please connect with one of our treatment specialists today.

Written by Ark Behavioral Health Editorial Team
©2020 Ark National Holdings, LLC. | All Rights Reserved.

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Todd Creager

https://toddcreager.com/ Todd Creager, a renowned marriage and relationship expert in Orange County, talks about 5 ways the alcohol can ruin relationships. From destroying the relationship with yourself, to inhibiting communication, alcohol is the most commonly abused substance and can create major barriers in your relationship. Learn more about Todd’s therapy and counseling services at https://toddcreager.com/. Based out of Huntington Beach, he serves the Orange County area – including Newport Beach, Irvine and Corona del Mar – with expert marriage and sex counseling services. TAKE ACTION: ============ Todd Creager, LCSW, LMFT Todd is a sex expert and therapist in Huntington Beach. He provides relationship counseling to couples throughout Orange County including Irvine, Newport Beach, Corona del Mar, Laguna Beach, Seal Beach and Long Beach. (714) 848-2288. Join Todd on social: ============== Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/Relationship… Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/todd_creager/ Twitter – https://twitter.com/toddcreager

COVID-19 Mental Health And Addiction Resources

The global coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has taken a dramatic toll on virtually all aspects of life, from the economy, to employment, relationships, public health, and personal health. 

In the United States, more than 200,000 individuals have died of the coronavirus. As of October, hundreds of thousands of Americans are filing unemployment claims each week. For all of us, the pandemic has become a time marked by uncertainty, fear, and grief. 

According to a survey conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 40 percent of US adults reported struggling with mental health or substance use issues

Although much of the general population has admitted to feeling more anxious and depressed during the pandemic, those with substance use and mental health issues face unique challenges.

What’s important to know during this time is that everyone responds to stressful situations differently. There is no wrong way to feel or to react to the changes you may see around you, or in people you love. 

Since March 2020, numerous resource guides and directories have been developed in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic to fill the gaps the pandemic has created in access to care, social support, and ensuring quality and affordable treatment.

Here you’ll find information on:

  • The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on mental health and substance use
  • List of mental health and addiction resources
  • Frequently asked questions (FAQ) about telehealth
  • caring for a loved one who is struggling

Why Are People Struggling More During The Pandemic?

Mental health difficulties that people are experiencing during the pandemic are not something that can be traced back to a single source. For most people, it’s likely a combination of factors.

The ways that people are impacted by sources of coronavirus-related stress can also differ depending on mental health history, the hardship they’ve personally experienced during the pandemic, and other personal risk factors. 

Sources of stress related to the coronavirus pandemic might include:

  • changes in employment
  • housing instability
  • economic insecurity
  • grief/loss
  • domestic abuse
  • being an essential worker (or worrying about a loved one who is)
  • being high-risk for COVID-19 complications
  • substance use/mental health relapse
  • severed access to medical and behavioral health services
  • reduced social support
  • living alone 
  • uncertainty of the timeline of the pandemic
  • returning to school or work (for yourself or loved ones)
  • increased attention towards germs/spreading disease 

There are a whole host of social, economic, and cultural forces that have driven increases in mental health symptoms in the general population and those with pre-existing mental health issues. 

In addition to the pandemic, people are also currently grappling with stress associated with racism, racial discrimination, police violence, and the presidential election.

These various sources of stress can pervade our interpersonal lives, our professional lives, and our interactions with our individual communities and the nation at large. We can see these struggles show up in the workplace—physically, or on digital platforms like Zoom—in the home, on the streets, in educational settings, and in online interactions. 

You might find yourself and the people around you demonstrating a short temper, isolating from others, lashing out, and acting in other uncharacteristic ways. 

Not all of us feel comfortable sharing the ways we’ve been negatively affected by the pandemic. This is true whether this concerns the loss of a loved one to the coronavirus, or how the pandemic has influenced our mental health and coping habits.

What We Know About Mental Health And The Pandemic

Multiple health agencies, such as the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO), have reported the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on mental health in the United States and globally.

Effects On Mental Health In The General Population

Many people without pre-existing mental health conditions are reporting feelings of increased stress, anxiety, and depression. 

In early October, Dr. Joseph Gorden—the director of the National Institute on Mental Health—told CNN that this increase in mental health symptoms has previously been seen in the aftermath of other crises, such as 9/11 and extreme weather events. 

One difference with COVID-19 is that the crisis is ongoing, and extends beyond a singular event. The American Psychiatric Association, which surveys Americans every year, recently released their 2020 findings on the state of mental health in America, which included the following:

  • Nearly 8 in 10 adults say the coronavirus pandemic has been a significant source of stress in their lives
  • Two in three adults report feeling increased stress during the pandemic
  • Nearly one in five adults say their mental health is worse than this time last year 
  • More than 75 percent of adults say the future of the nation is a significant source of stress
  • Generation Z teenagers (ages 13 to 17) and Generation Z adults (18-23) are experiencing elevated stress and depression that may have long-term consequences on health and well-being

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF), which conducted a poll in July, many adults are also reporting increases in alcohol or drug use, difficulty sleeping, changes in appetite, and worsened chronic health conditions. 

Effects On Mental Health In People With Mental Health And Substance Use Disorders

Trauma and stress can be major risk factors for substance use and mental health relapse. In the context of the coronavirus pandemic, it’s very reasonable to identify this experience as a form of trauma. Across the world, people are facing immense uncertainty, loss of life, and reduced access to supportive resources. 

While many sources of pandemic-related stress might be similar to those of the general population, the impact of this stress can have different implications for people with pre-existing mental health and substance use disorders. 

This includes people who have:

  • major depression
  • anxiety disorders
  • post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • bipolar disorder
  • obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
  • psychotic disorders (e.g. schizophrenia)
  • eating disorders
  • substance use disorders

Compared to the general population, people with mental health and substance disorders might face unique challenges. 

These could include difficulties accessing mental health services (including medications), severed access to substance use services and related social services, and enhanced reactions to the lack of social support and isolation generated by the pandemic.

Mental Health And Drug Relapse

The effects of the pandemic may provoke drug or alcohol relapse, which can be troubling both for the individual struggling as well as those around them. 

This might increase tension in the household, or provoke significant worry and concern among loved ones who aren’t able to visit their struggling loved one due to safety concerns.

Effects of substance use or mental health relapse might include:

  • increased agitation or hostility
  • suicidal thoughts and behaviors
  • domestic troubles
  • isolation
  • forgoing treatment (including medication regimens)
  • effects on work performance or studies
  • increased panic attacks or flashbacks

Increase In Drug Overdoses

Drug overdoses have also been on the rise, as reported by the American Medical Association (AMA). According to the AMA, more than 40 states nationwide have reported increased drug overdose rates in 2020 compared to 2019. 

This is significant, as the United States reached an all-time high in total drug overdose deaths in 2019, after seeing a decline from 2017 to 2018.

As reported by NBC, the month of May was the deadliest month for drug overdoses in five years. And according to national data from August, this year is on its way to reaching an all-time high in drug overdoses, with data already showing an 18 percent increase from this time last year.

During the pandemic, several barriers to treatment services—including harm reduction services, such as safe needle exchanges—have emerged, blocking pathways towards seeking help. 

People with active substance use issues may have also been cut off from their usual dealers. This might sound positive on the surface. However, this could very well lead to the sort of desperation that might result in seeking drugs from more dangerous sources, where drugs might be laced with other substances or otherwise put the drug user in danger.

Mental Health And Addiction Resources During COVID-19

As millions of people across the United States face greater stress and depression during the pandemic, many existing organizations—national, state, and local—have created and shared resources for mental health and substance use prevention.

The following is a non-exhaustive list of organizations that provide resources for people with mental health and substance use disorders, and their loved ones:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has created an exhaustive resource page for mental health during COVID-19. 

The agency has compiled a comprehensive list of national helplines, and resources specific to families and children, teens, healthcare workers and first responders, and people in the high risk category for COVID complications.

General resources include:

National Institute on Drug Abuse

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) is a government-run organization and resource for individuals, families, and communities impacted by substance abuse. They have compiled a list of COVID-19 resources and resources specific to helping individuals with substance use disorders

National Alliance on Mental Illness

The National Alliance on Mental Illness is the nation’s leading grassroots advocacy organization for individuals and families affected by mental illness. They’ve released an extensive resource guide, featuring information on how to cope with stress, how to seek treatment, and seeking help for loved ones who are incarcerated.

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is a government-run agency that has released a COVID-19 guide for drug abuse treatment providers, individuals, and families affected by substance use and mental health issues. 

Among other things, this guide includes guidance on safely administering naloxone for opioid overdose, virtual recovery resources, and information on telehealth services. 

Mental Health America

Mental Health America is a leading national nonprofit organization that has created a COVID-19 specific resource page for individuals and their loved ones affected by mental illness. 

This resource page offers general information about mental health and the coronavirus, as well as coping tools, screening tools, and informational sessions on mental health and COVID-19. MHA’s guide also offers resources specific to certain populations.

This includes mental health resources for:

  • Frontline workers
  • Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC)
  • LGBTQ+ communities
  • Caregivers
  • Parents

Psychology Today

Psychology Today has an online directory of clinical professionals, psychiatrists, and treatment centers across the United States. Through this website, individuals can search for nearby treatment centers and providers. 

Filters for accepted insurance, types of treatment, and preferred treatment modality are also available. This includes specific search functions for finding teletherapy services. 

Narcotics Anonymous

Narcotics Anonymous (NA) has moved their meetings online (also accessible by phone) to support current and former addicts across the country. Information about their meetings, how to get connected, and related resources are available here

Cocaine Anonymous

Cocaine Anonymous, like NA, is also offering free services for individuals impacted by cocaine use. This includes email support and voice-only online meetings. 

National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA)

The NIAAA has created a resource page specifically for people navigating the challenges of COVID-19 with a current or previous history of alcohol abuse and addiction. This includes information on virtual support meetings, frequently asked questions about alcohol and the coronavirus, and updates on alcohol sales.

National Support Hotlines For Mental Health, Abuse, And Addiction

Many national and local hotlines exist in the United States to provide support and treatment for individuals in crisis. 

During the COVID-19 pandemic, several leading behavioral health organizations have reported receiving enormous spikes in calls from individuals struggling with mental health and substance use issues. If you need immediate help for mental health or substance use-related struggles, you’re not alone.

For immediate support, consider these hotlines:

  • National Suicide Prevention: 1-800-273-TALK (8255) for English, 1-888-628-9454 for Spanish
  • National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) Helpline: 1-800-931-2237
  • National Alliance on Mental Illness Helpline: 1-800-950-6264
  • Crisis Text Line: text HOME to 741741
  • National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233 or text LOVEIS to 22522
  • Veterans Crisis Line (National): 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or text: 8388255
  • National Sexual Assault Hotline: 1-800-656-HOPE (4673)
  • National Child Abuse Hotline: 1-800-4AChild (1-800-422-4453) or text 1-800-422-4453
  • Teen Line: 1-800-852-8336 or text “TEEN” to 839863

To find local treatment centers, treatment providers, and Telehealth services:

You can also check your state and county health departments to find localized resources and treatment. Many state and local health departments have existing substance abuse prevention and behavioral health departments. 

Local health departments may have additional information on how to report an overdose, where to find safe sharps disposal sites near you, and how to access social support services during COVID-19.

Are Mental Health And Substance Abuse Treatment Centers Open?

Many substance abuse and mental health treatment centers across the United States have remained open at full or partial operation during the COVID-19 pandemic to ensure continued care during these difficult times. The types of services currently offered may vary according to the center. 

Early on in the pandemic, organizations like the CDC and the American Psychiatric Association (APA) released recommendations for how to safely treat patients in psychiatric settings during this time. 

These recommendations pertain to certain safety protocols as well as guidelines for maintaining HIPAA privacy standards while delivering telehealth services.

COVID-19 And TeleHealth Services

Since March, many mental health and substance abuse treatment providers have shifted their services online or by phone to prevent COVID-19 exposure. 

Telehealth services have become one solution to the safety concerns of in-person interactions between providers and patients. Telehealth refers to digital health services that are conducted by phone, text message, live chat, or video.

Telehealth services may include:

  • primary care
  • mental health and substance abuse counseling
  • virtual support groups
  • psychiatrist appointments
  • low-risk urgent care
  • coaching services
  • physical therapy and occupational therapy
  • case management and care planning

How TeleHealth Works

The experience of telehealth services can look different depending on the type of service and the provider. Telehealth services can be delivered in real-time by treatment providers, or be recorded, stored, and later shared with patients. 

For individuals with mental health and substance use issues, common telehealth services include: counseling, virtual support groups, and other clinical services. These services are offered by both individual treatment providers—such as a counselor—and some rehab centers. 

Groups like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) have also moved online in some communities, and on a national and regional level. You can learn more about AA’s online options for United States residents here

Who Can Benefit From Telehealth?

Many of the same benefits that can be received through in-person services can also be received through telehealth. As reported by ABC News, telehealth may be most beneficial for people who are already engaged in care, says Dr. Caleb Banta-Green, a principal research scientist at the University of Washington Alcohol and Drug Abuse Institute.

Younger people—including children, teens, and young adults—may also be more comfortable using digital communication platforms for telehealth. Generally, younger generations are more technologically savvy and are used to communicating with friends and others through digital communication.

Telehealth may also be beneficial for:

  • those in acute crisis
  • people who have relapsed
  • people who require regular monitoring for mental or physical health conditions

People who are seeking treatment for the first time, or are beginning treatment with a new provider, may struggle more with telehealth. 

This doesn’t mean that these first-time patients can’t benefit from telehealth. But it can be more difficult for new providers to assess patients over digital platforms and get an accurate representation of the state of a person’s physical, mental, and emotional health. 

Does Insurance Cover Tele-Health?

Insurers vary in their telehealth coverage policies. Where you live in the United States may also affect your coverage and telehealth availability, depending on state laws. 

Some private insurers and military insurers like Tricare have moved to cover some or all telehealth services the same as they would in-person services. Medicare Part B (Medical Insurance) also covers certain telehealth services. 

Medicare Advantage plans offer certain telehealth benefits in addition to those offered under original Medicare and are moving to expand.

To learn more about whether your insurance plan covers telehealth services, contact your insurance company or healthcare provider for up-to-date information.

Limitations And Challenges With Telehealth

Telehealth services have become a critical element of many people’s treatment and recovery plans. The use of these services, however, and gaining access to them has not come without its challenges. 

Challenges with telehealth services might include:

  • Cost: Not all insurance providers have moved to cover telehealth services the same as in-person. This means that many people who were previously able to receive coverage for certain services cannot receive the same coverage for services conducted digitally.
  • Learning curve: Not everyone is technologically savvy or comfortable receiving health services virtually. This has made it more difficult for some people to access treatment services during COVID-19.
  • Privacy concerns: Some people have concerns about talking about sensitive topics on certain digital platforms. This has deterred some people from accessing health services, and has complicated the process of delivering these services for providers.
  • Lacking Access to Computer/Wi-Fi: Lacking consistent or stable access to the internet has been a common barrier to care for people with mental health and substance use issues. This is especially true for low-income and homeless populations in need.

Federal health agencies, treatment providers, and insurance companies are continuing to work on addressing some primary concerns of telehealth moving forward. Legislators are also working to remove barriers to telehealth services imposed by state laws and some insurance policies.

If you have questions about using telehealth with an existing provider, you may ask them directly to learn more about how to address applicable limitations.

Caring For A Loved One Who’s Struggling

Watching someone you care about struggle with mental health or substance abuse can be very stressful. With the pandemic making in-person interaction and check-ins more difficult, this can exacerbate the concerns of parents, siblings, children of addicts, friends, and romantic partners.

Taking care of yourself is the most important consideration if you are a caregiver. If you’re not taking care of yourself, you may very well struggle to care for someone else. Neglecting your own needs can also create additional stress and may lead you to become resentful and depressed about your current position.

Several of the organizations shared above offer resources specific to caregivers and parents. If you’re the loved one of someone who is experiencing a mental health-related crisis, your health and well-being matter, too. You deserve the same care and level of compassion you would show your loved one. 

For more information about mental health and COVID-19, please check the websites of the CDC, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, and local treatment resources for ongoing updates. 

Written by Ark Behavioral Health Editorial Team
©2020 Ark National Holdings, LLC. | All Rights Reserved.

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National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA/NIH) 13.4K subscribers Full LIVE segment of NIDA’s Science Behind Addiction with Actor Brandon Thomas Lee interviews and NIDA Director Dr. Nora Volkow. Watch as they discuss addiction and recovery during COVID-19. This video can also be viewed at: https://www.drugabuse.gov/videos/copi… Comments on this video are allowed in accordance with our comment policy: https://www.drugabuse.gov/comment-policy

Detox Of South Florida A HIGH Quality Addiction Treatment Center

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At one point or another, we all know someone with substance abuse problems. However, it is sometimes hard to put your finger on. The behaviors build so gradually that it might not be obvious until it’s too late. If there is someone you love that displays the following symptoms, they might suffer from drug or alcohol addiction:

  • Lack of Energy and Motivation
  • Weight Loss or Gain
  • Neglect in Appearance
  • Odd and Sudden Requests for Money and/or Items Stolen from Home
  • Paranoia
  • Insomnia
  • Falls and Accidents
  • And More

As much as we want to help them create a new life or bring back their “old selves”, it can’t be done alone. Addiction is a tricky issue that requires the aid of professionals. You find solace in the workers at drug and alcohol detox centers. There are many drug and alcohol detox centers across the nation and not each one will be right for everyone. However, each one will have a similar journey to sobriety.

What to Expect

First, a health care professional will perform an initial comprehensive assessment. This will help them understand the nature of the problem and choose the best route for their patient. They will ask about issues within the past year, then conduct a screening test like NIDA. Following the screening, the patient’s resulting risk level will play a major role in the type of treatment they receive. Risk level will measure as low, moderate, or high. Best Drug Rehab Centers in Florida use all of this information to form a path to sobriety.

Treatments

choose best addiction treatment Addiction Treatments can consist of medication, behavioral therapy, or a combination of both. Behavioral therapy can be individual, group, or a combination. It helps patients see life in a new light, reconsider their actions, and find support. However, this isn’t always enough. When medication is necessary for addiction treatment, each substance has correlating prescriptions to wean them off the drug. The most important task they accomplish is easing painful withdrawal symptoms. Here are just a few examples of what the patient might receive for: Alcohol

  • Disulfiram
  • Naltrexone
  • Acamprosate

Opiods

  • Methadone
  • Naltrexone
  • Clonidine
  • Lofexidine
  • Buprenorphine

After stabilization, these drugs could be required for long term use. To maintain sobriety, taking a combination of these drugs might even be necessary. Although the length of maintenance treatment is controversial, it is proven to be dangerous for patients to quit taking medication. In addition to maintenance treatment via prescription medication, continual therapy and psychosocial services are also a good idea. Even after years of work to break the addiction, it can be very easy to slip into old habits. It is crucial that the patient has a reliable support network. Sobriety will not happen overnight and cannot be done alone. So where can you go for help?

Where to Go

Addiction Treatment is different for everyone and can be dangerous to attempt without professional help. Since every patient needs something different, there are several drug and alcohol detox centers from which to choose. In fact, there are roughly 15,000 drug and alcohol detox centers in the country. Regardless of where you choose to bring your loved one, there will be two main types of care:

Outpatient

Outpatient facilities are the most common and the best option for lower risk individuals. In these situations, patients report to the center each day but are able to return home at night. Consequently, patients have more freedom in outpatient services and are able to maintain everyday life. They don’t have to put their GED, college, work schedule, family, or other obligations on hold. In addition to retaining some degree of independence, outpatient drug and alcohol detox centers offer an environment safe from temptation.

Inpatient

Inpatient facilities are very similar to outpatient centers except that provide full-time supervision. Although they are less common, they are the best option for high-risk patients. It completely removes them from environments where they are likely to face temptation to old habits. Since many victims of addiction also struggle with other health issues, outpatient facilities offer full-time medical care. Although they are more expensive and reduce the patient’s independence, it is worth the effort in severe cases. The time and money spent on drug and alcohol detox centers could be a matter of life and death. Don’t wait until it’s too late to find help.

How to Choose a Detox Center

When deciding on the best drug and alcohol detox centers for your loved one, there are important questions to ask. During your search, you should also research and tour the facilities before your final decision. Throughout these tours, here are some crucial questions to ask to ensure the patient’s comfort:

  • Can the patient use a cell phone or computer?
  • Do you accept the patient’s current insurance?
  • Does the facility accommodate diet restrictions and preferences?
  • Can the patient have visitors?
  • What kind of resources and amenities do you offer the patient?

Asking these big questions could make the biggest difference in the journey to sobriety.

You are Stronger than Your Addiction

best addiction treatment program in south florida Even after addiction treatment is sought, it won’t be an easy ride. There will be a lot of heartache, stress, and times where you just want to give in. Often it seems like the bottle, needle, or straw is just part of who you are. That’s not true. You are not your addiction. An addiction to drugs and alcohol will place you in dangerous situations with dangerous people. Those people are not your friends. The drugs and alcohol are the only link in that relationship and it’s time to break it. Even if you don’t have a stable support system, you won’t have to do it alone. Professionals in drug and alcohol detox centers will not only help you break the addiction but help maintain sobriety too. There is hope. Please don’t wait until it’s too late. Find help today and rediscover the true “you” that addiction buried.

Source: https://detoxofsouthflorida.com/

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Drug and Alcohol Addiction During a Pandemic

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COVID-19 pandemic has hit differently compared to many other epidemics that have occurred before. It will get marked in history as an era of pain, anxiety, panic, and depression. In case we survive this pandemic as we pray and hope for the very best, the world will be all changed.

This pandemic has impacted the restriction of social gatherings, thus no attending the churches, schools got closed, businesses are dissolving every day. And each new day there is an introduction to more and more restrictions which are stricter than the previous ones. This pandemic has even turned the economy upside down. Social distancing means sometimes we do not have to be close to our loved ones like before, It also means people are not even attending their jobs hence financially disabled.

Research says many people may turn into abusing drugs, also let’s only consider the rates of people who have lost their jobs in the United States currently. After the pandemic, we may face addiction more than even the economic crisis. Just like the coronavirus has affected the world both socially and financially also, it has changed the domain of recovery and addiction. The wave of anxiety and fear that is wafting during this pandemic has contributed to a lot of individuals holding back from continuing or seeking addiction treatment and therapies.

EFFECT OF COVID-19 ON THE ADDICT BODY

Generally. addiction affects the body of the user in various means, it weakens the immune system and also alters the functioning of the inner organs. For example, the long term and frequent use of alcohol cause inflammation, pancreatitis, liver cirrhosis, fibrosis, alcohol hepatitis and it’s known for causing various types of cancer and brain damage. These health conditions which are brought by alcohol causes the user to be more vulnerable to the COVID -19 symptoms.

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Prolonged abuse of opioids such as heroin, fentanyl, codeine, and hydrocodone causes pulmonary and respiratory complications. Smoking of drugs such as marijuana or tobacco drastically weakens the lungs thus putting long term smokers into a risk of being profoundly affected by the coronavirus. According to the research from the national institute on drug abuse, they reported individuals with substance use disorder and smoker’s coronavirus is a significant threat to them. When COVID-19 infects an individual. It begins with weakening the cells on the lining of the lungs.

Thus the pre-symptoms of coronavirus are fever, headache, fatigue, and dry cough, shortness of breath and muscle pain. The symptoms get more severe after the infection reaches the lower respiratory tract. An individual who has a healthy immune system may be able to recover from the virus when it’s in the upper respiratory tract. However, coronavirus may cause severe impacts in the body such as pneumonia, and bronchitis, in more severe instances which is rare COVID-19 may cause acute respiratory distress syndrome. A healthy individual can fully recover from COVID-19 however if an individual has health complications such as chronic diseases, pulmonary abnormalities then they are at a high risk of not improving or more vulnerable to get severe illness.

CORONA VIRUS IMPACTS TO INDIVIDUALS WITH MENTAL HEALTH COMPLICATIONS.

Before I even jump into the effects of COVID -19 to mental health patients, let me point out that mental health and substance abuse are closely linked. Thus approximately fifty percent of individuals with mental disorders are as a result of prolonged use abuse of substances.

When an individual has substance abuse disorder and mental health issues. the condition is referred to as dual diagnosis or co-occurring disorder. Basing this conclusion on research, most individual’s abuse drugs to calm down and cope with their mental health. Some individuals confess that after using alcohol. smoking or other drugs, they get temporary relief from anxiety and stress, and they go in the state of nirvana ‘as they say. Fifty-three percent of substance abusers are said to have severe mental disorders, however, thanks to the rehabilitation centers, which offer services of treating the co-occurring condition. Actually, with the increased tensions and stress on the coronavirus, it’s the best time to seek treatment. The increase of COVID 19 pressure may lead to

  • Worry and fear of loved one’s health and individual’s health
  • Changes in eating and sleeping patterns
  • More use of tobacco. alcohol and other drugs

Therefore individuals with mental disorders, should continue receiving treatment and pay attention to worsening or new symptoms. WHO has requested people to limit news about coronavirus, which may cause more anxiety and instead get information from the trusted sources. WHO recommends the caregivers, media experts, doctors and first responders to the COVID 19 patients that in the process they may experience emotional toll and develop secondary traumatic stress. Thus in case, they experience fear, social withdrawal, illness, fatigue or guilt they should pull away from the media and allow themselves time for self-care to unwind.

ACCESSING TO ABUSE TREATMENT DURING COVID-19 PANDEMIC.

With the environment surrounding this pandemic such as the social distance, risk of substance use may increase, due to stress, isolation, and anxiety caused by COVID19. Therefore the addiction treatment should remain accessible.

OUTPATIENT TREATMENT

This program is for individuals with a mild addiction, they attend rehab during the day, but they go home. Upon arrival, they are screened for Covid-19 symptoms, in case they test positive they are isolated, and a telehealth treatment plan gets initiated. The patients who don’t have Covid-19 symptoms continue or begin addiction treatment while observing physical distance and sanitation.

VIRTUAL 12-STEP MEETINGS

This is a crucial stage for individuals who are in the recovery stage of drug abuse disorder such as the narcotics anonymous and alcoholics anonymous. These meetings currently have stipulated measures such as physical distancing, and sanitary precautions, thus individuals no longer shake or hold hands and hugging. The 12 step meetings are still available through most individuals are afraid of attending them.

CONCLUSION

Even if most world activities have stopped, the addictions continue. Expert in addiction treatment is accessible, therefore if your loved ones or you are suffering from addiction, reach out in the rehab centers, don’t wait.

Reference:

Coronavirus presents new challenges for drug and alcohol addiction recovery

The substance abuse pandemic: determinants to guide interventions

Dr. Vikram Tarugu

Dr. Vikram Tarugu, M.D, is the CEO of Detox of South Florida, Inc and medical professional focused on addiction. A veteran in the medical field with over 25 years of professional experience. He is a consultant for many South Florida Rehab centers. Patients travel from allover the US to seek his help with addiction and Hepatitis C treatment.

Source: https://detoxofsouthflorida.com

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Opioids More Likely To Kill Americans Than Car Crashes — peoples trust toronto

The National Safety Council has reported that Americans are now more likely to die from an opioid overdose than car crashes for the first time. As Statista’s Niall McCarthy notes, the overall rate of drug overdose deaths in the U.S. increased by 9.6 percent between 2016 and 2017 with the death rate from fentanyl skyrocketing 45 percent. The U.S. […]

via Opioids More Likely To Kill Americans Than Car Crashes — peoples trust toronto

The 17 Most Dangerous Airports In The World And Why You Must Experience Them – Jim Dobson

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I found myself gripping the armrest as my plane attempted a landing in Africa on a remote sandy airstrip, the landing was called off and we needed to circle around several times in order to scare off several resilient giraffes that were occupying the runway. Almost a month later I made a dramatic landing in Bhutan that was like a scene out of Star Wars where my commercial airliner had to bank dramatically to fit in between the narrow, remote mountain terrain………..

Read more: https://www.forbes.com/sites/jimdobson/2018/11/08/the-17-most-dangerous-airports-in-the-world-and-why-you-must-experience-them/#385fc5bd2a8f

 

 

 

 

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How Bad Are the Effects of Alcohol and Binge Drinking When You’re Young – Lauren Mazzo

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You may have been the Mike’s-Hard-Lemonade-in-high-school type. Or the Bud-Light-from-a-keg-in-college type. Or the unlimited-mimosas-at-Sunday-brunch type. But chances are, at some point during your teen and young adult years, you downed a hefty amount of alcohol. While life is most certainly about #balance, unfortunately, no amount of kale or HIIT classes can totally undo the damage excessive drinking has likely done to your brain and body…..

Read more: https://www.shape.com/lifestyle/mind-and-body/how-bad-are-effects-alcohol-and-binge-drinking-when-youre-young

 

 

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The Global Gender Gap In Alcohol-Related Deaths Infographic – Niall McCarthy

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A major new global study published in The Lancet has found that there is no safe level of alcohol consumption. The research looked at levels of alcohol use and its health effects across 195 countries between 1990 and 2016.

It found that even an occasional drink can prove harmful and its authors say that governments should recommend people abstain entirely from alcohol consumption. Consuming alcohol caused 2.8 million deaths in 2016 and it was the leading risk factor for premature mortality and disability among people aged 15 to 49.

Even though moderate drinking has been associated with limited health benefits for years, with a daily glass of red wine seen as being good for the heart, the new research claims that the harmful impact far outweighs any benefits. The following infographic shows the top-10 countries in terms of overall deaths attributable to alcohol and specifically, it highlights the massive gender gap in mortality. In the United States, for example, 71,000 male deaths and 19,000 female deaths were  attributable to alcohol in 2016.

Researchers used 694 studies to estimate worldwide drinking patterns and used 592 studies plus 28 million people to learn about alcohol’s health risks between 1990 and 2016 in 195 countries.

They found drinking alcohol was associated with nearly 1 in 10 deaths of people ages 15 to 49 years old. Causes included tuberculosis, road injuries and self-harm. For people over 50, cancers were cited as a leading cause of alcohol-related death (about 27 percent of deaths in women and 19 percent of deaths in men).

Researchers found that the “burden” of alcohol consumption was worse than previously reported. They called for more regulations around alcohol use and said there is no amount of alcohol that is healthy.

More research must still be done to explain how drinking patterns affect health. For example, a glass of wine every evening versus binge drinking. Griswold said there are also unknowns around health once people stop drinking.

The most recent Dietary Guidelines for Americans, a report by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the United States Department of Agriculture, suggests women have no more than one drink daily and men have no more than two. The American Society of Clinical Oncology, made up some of the nation’s top cancer doctors, has said limiting alcoholic drinks is important for cancer prevention.

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America’s Invisible Pot Addicts NearConstant Cannabis Use, As Legalization Forges Ahead – Annie Lowrey

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The proliferation of retail boutiques in California did not really bother him, Evan told me, but the billboards did. Advertisements for delivery, advertisements promoting the substance for relaxation, for fun, for health. “Shop. It’s legal.” “Hello marijuana, goodbye hangover.” “It’s not a trigger,” he told me. “But it is in your face.”

When we spoke, he had been sober for a hard-fought seven weeks: seven weeks of sleepless nights, intermittent nausea, irritability, trouble focusing, and psychological turmoil. There were upsides, he said, in terms of reduced mental fog, a fatter wallet, and a growing sense of confidence that he could quit. “I don’t think it’s a ‘can’ as much as a ‘must,’” he said.

Evan, who asked that his full name not be used for fear of professional repercussions, has a self-described cannabis-use disorder. If not necessarily because of legalization, but alongside legalization, such problems are becoming more common: The share of adults with one has doubled since the early aughts, as the share of cannabis users who consume it daily or near-daily has jumped nearly 50 percent—all “in the context of increasingly permissive cannabis legislation, attitudes, and lower risk perception,” as the National Institutes of Health put it.

Public-health experts worry about the increasingly potent options available, and the striking number of constant users. “Cannabis is potentially a real public-health problem,” said Mark A. R. Kleiman, a professor of public policy at New York University. “It wasn’t obvious to me 25 years ago, when 9 percent of self-reported cannabis users over the last month reported daily or near-daily use. I always was prepared to say, ‘No, it’s not a very abusable drug. Nine percent of anybody will do something stupid.’ But that number is now [something like] 40 percent.”

They argue that state and local governments are setting up legal regimes without sufficient public-health protection, with some even warning that the country is replacing one form of reefer madness with another, careening from treating cannabis as if it were as dangerous as heroin to treating it as if it were as benign as kombucha.

But cannabis is not benign, even if it is relatively benign, compared with alcohol, opiates, and cigarettes, among other substances. Thousands of Americans are finding their own use problematic in a climate where pot products are getting more potent, more socially acceptable to use, and yet easier to come by, not that it was particularly hard before.

For Keith Humphreys, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Stanford University, the most compelling evidence of the deleterious effects comes from users themselves. “In large national surveys, about one in 10 people who smoke it say they have a lot of problems. They say things like, ‘I have trouble quitting. I think a lot about quitting and I can’t do it.

I smoked more than I intended to. I neglect responsibilities.’ There are plenty of people who have problems with it, in terms of things like concentration, short-term memory, and motivation,” he said. “People will say, ‘Oh, that’s just you fuddy-duddy doctors.’ Actually, no. It’s millions of people who use the drug who say that it causes problems.”

Users or former users I spoke with described lost jobs, lost marriages, lost houses, lost money, lost time. Foreclosures and divorces. Weight gain and mental-health problems. And one other thing: the problem of convincing other people that what they were experiencing was real. A few mentioned jokes about Doritos, and comments implying that the real issue was that they were lazy stoners. Others mentioned the common belief that you can be “psychologically” addicted to pot, but not “physically” or “really” addicted. The condition remains misunderstood, discounted, and strangely invisible, even as legalization and white-marketization pitches ahead.

The country is in the midst of a volte-face on marijuana. The federal government still classifies cannabis as a Schedule I drug, with no accepted medical use. (Meth and PCP, among other drugs, are Schedule II.) Politicians still argue it is a gateway to the use of things like heroin and cocaine. The country still spends billions of dollars fighting it in a bloody and futile drug war, and still arrests more people for offenses related to cannabis than it does for all violent crimes combined.

Yet dozens of states have pushed ahead with legalization for medical or recreational purposes, given that for decades physicians have argued that marijuana’s health risks have been overstated and its medical uses overlooked; activists have stressed prohibition’s tremendous fiscal cost and far worse human cost; and researchers have convincingly argued that cannabis is far less dangerous than alcohol. A solid majority of Americans support legalization nowadays.

Academics and public-health officials, though, have raised the concern that cannabis’s real risks have been overlooked or underplayed—perhaps as part of a counter-reaction to federal prohibition, and perhaps because millions and millions of cannabis users have no problems controlling their use.

“Part of how legalization was sold was with this assumption that there was no harm, in reaction to the message that everyone has smoked marijuana was going to ruin their whole life,” Humphreys told me. It was a point Kleiman agreed with. “I do think that not legalization, but the legalization movement, does have a lot on its conscience now,” he said. “The mantra about how this is a harmless, natural, and non-addictive substance—it’s now known by everybody. And it’s a lie.”

Thousands of businesses, as well as local governments earning tax money off of sales, are now literally invested in that lie. “The liquor companies are salivating,” Matt Karnes of GreenWave Advisors told me. “They can’t wait to come in full force.” He added that Big Pharma was targeting the medical market, with Wall Street, Silicon Valley, food businesses, and tobacco companies aiming at the recreational market.

Sellers are targeting broad swaths of the consumer market—soccer moms, recent retirees, folks looking to replace their nightly glass of chardonnay with a precisely dosed, low-calorie, and hangover-free mint. Many have consciously played up cannabis as a lifestyle product, a gift to give yourself, like a nice crystal or an antioxidant face cream. “This is not about marijuana,” one executive at the California retailer MedMen recently argued. “This is about the people who use cannabis for all the reasons people have used cannabis for hundreds of years. Yes, for recreation, just like alcohol, but also for wellness.”

Evan started off smoking with his friends when they were playing sports or video games, lighting up to chill out after his nine-to-five as a paralegal at a law office. But that soon became couch-lock, and he lost interest in working out, going out, doing anything with his roommates. Then came a lack of motivation and the slow erosion of ambition, and law school moving further out of reach.

He started smoking before work and after work. Eventually, he realized it was impossible to get through the day without it. “I was smoking anytime I had to do anything boring, and it took a long time before I realized that I wasn’t doing anything without getting stoned,” he said.

His first attempts to reduce his use went miserably, as the consequences on his health and his life piled up. He gained nearly 40 pounds, he said, when he stopped working out and cooking his own food at home. He recognized that he was just barely getting by at work, and was continually worried about getting fired. Worse, his friends were unsympathetic to the idea that he was struggling and needed help. “[You have to] try to convince someone that something that is hurting you is hurting you,” he said.

Other people who found their use problematic or had managed to quit, none of whom wanted to use their names, described similar struggles and consequences. “I was running two companies at the time, and fitting smoking in between running those companies. Then, we sold those companies and I had a whole lot of time on my hands,” one other former cannabis user told me. “I just started sitting around smoking all the time. And things just came to a halt. I was in terrible shape. I was depressed.”

Lax regulatory standards and aggressive commercialization in some states have compounded some existing public-health risks, raised new ones, and failed to tamp down on others, experts argue. In terms of compounding risks, many cite the availability of hyper-potent marijuana products. “We’re seeing these increases in the strength of cannabis, as we are also seeing an emergence of new types of products,” such as edibles, tinctures, vape pens, sublingual sprays, and concentrates, Ziva Cooper, an associate professor of clinical neurobiology in the Department of Psychiatry at Columbia University Medical Center, told me.

“A lot of these concentrates can have up to 90 percent THC,” she said, whereas the kind of flower you could get 30 years ago was far, far weaker. Scientists are not sure how such high-octane products affect people’s bodies, she said, but worry that they might have more potential for raising tolerance, introducing brain damage, and inculcating dependence.

As for new risks: In many stores, budtenders are providing medical advice with no licensing or training whatsoever. “I’m most scared of the advice to smoke marijuana during pregnancy for cramps,” said Humphreys, arguing that sellers were providing recommendations with no scientific backing, good or bad, at all.

In terms of long-standing risks, the lack of federal involvement in legalization has meant that marijuana products are not being safety-tested like pharmaceuticals; measured and dosed like food products; subjected to agricultural-safety and pesticide standards like crops; and held to labeling standards like alcohol. (Different states have different rules and testing regimes, complicating things further.)

Health experts also cited an uncomfortable truth about allowing a vice product to be widely available, loosely regulated, and fully commercialized: Heavy users will make up a huge share of sales, with businesses wanting them to buy more and spend more and use more, despite any health consequences.

“The reckless way that we are legalizing marijuana so far is mind-boggling from a public-health perspective,” Kevin Sabet, an Obama administration official and a founder of the nonprofit Smart Approaches to Marijuana, told me. “The issue now is that we have lobbyists, special interests, and people whose motivation is to make money that are writing all of these laws and taking control of the conversation.”

This is not to say that prohibition is a more attractive policy, or that legalization has proven to be a public-health disaster. “The big-picture view is that the vast majority of people who use cannabis are not going to be problematic users,” said Jolene Forman, an attorney at the Drug Policy Alliance. “They’re not going to have a cannabis-use disorder. They’re going to have a healthy relationship with it. And criminalization actually increases the harms related to cannabis, and so having a strictly regulated market where there can be limits on advertising, where only adults can purchase cannabis, and where you’re going to get a wide variety of products makes sense.”

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Still, strictly regulated might mean more strictly regulated than today, at least in some places, drug-policy experts argue. “Here, what we’ve done is we’ve copied the alcohol industry fully formed, and then on steroids with very minimal regulation,” Humphreys said. “The oversight boards of a number of states are the industry themselves. We’ve learned enough about capitalism to know that’s very dangerous.”

A number of policy reforms might tamp down on problem use and protect consumers, without quashing the legal market or pivoting back to prohibition and all its harms. One extreme option would be to require markets to be noncommercial: The District of Columbia, for instance, does not allow recreational sales, but does allow home cultivation and the gifting of marijuana products among adults.

“If I got to pick a policy, that would probably be it,” Kleiman told me. “That would be a fine place to be if we were starting from prohibition, but we are starting from patchwork legalization. As the Vermont farmer says, I don’t think you can get there from here. I fear its time has passed. It’s generally true that the drug warriors have never missed an opportunity to miss an opportunity.”

There’s no shortage of other reasonable proposals, many already in place or under consideration in some states. The government could run marijuana stores, as in Canada. States could require budtenders to have some training or to refrain from making medical claims. They could ask users to set a monthly THC purchase cap and remain under it. They could cap the amount of THC in products, and bar producers from making edibles that are attractive to kids, like candies. A ban or limits on marijuana advertising are also options, as is requiring cannabis dispensaries to post public-health information.

Then, there are THC taxes, designed to hit heavy users the hardest. Some drug-policy experts argue that such levies would just push people from marijuana to alcohol, with dangerous health consequences. “It would be like saying, ‘Let’s let the beef and pork industries market and do whatever they wish, but let’s have much tougher restrictions on tofu and seitan,’” said Mason Tvert of the Marijuana Policy Project.

“In light of the current system, where alcohol is so prevalent and is a more harmful substance, it is bad policy to steer people toward that.” Yet reducing the commercial appeal of all vice products—cigarettes, alcohol, marijuana—is an option, if not necessarily a popular one.

Perhaps most important might be reintroducing some reasonable skepticism about cannabis, especially until scientists have a better sense of the health effects of high-potency products, used frequently. Until then, listening to and believing the hundreds of thousands of users who argue marijuana is not always benign might be a good start.

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