Designer Drugs: A flashy name for a knockoff product.

The name Designer Drugs, sounds prestigious and exclusive like GUCCI or PRADA, however the reality is nowhere near as glamorous. Designer drugs are created in secret laboratories to mimic the pharmacological effects of the original drug, while avoiding the classification of illegal. Almost comparable to a knock off PRADA bag, they may look similar to the real thing, but the workmanship is poor with the stitching all wrong and the label is upside down. Like a knockoff purse designer drugs have poor workmanship and absolutely no quality control. These drugs are made from a variety of products, that when separate aren’t that harmful and sometimes used daily. However when mixed together become a deadly cocktail that is almost like playing Russian roulette when taking them. Because these drugs are made with a variety of ingredients they don’t always come out the same therefore the reaction and high aren’t always the same. This can often be deadly for someone who gets a batch of MDMA or Methamphetamine, to name a few common designer drugs, that causes them a different reaction then a previous doses. Designer drugs have ever changing ingredients and the dangers that come with them are constantly being underestimated. Which is why it is so important that awareness is brought to our community. While buying a PRADA knockoff when expecting the real deal is a giant let down, buying a designer “knockoff” drug may have a more grand and finite consequence.

Methadone: What you think you know and really don’t.

Methadone has been around for decades and has been used for Heroin addiction since the 1960’s. Yet so many people still are unaware of Methadone and its effects. 

Some people hear Methadone and think it’s made from Meth. Others believe it’s a legal way to get high, it rots your bones and is addictive. The amount of misconceptions and negative stigmas that follow Methadone are endless.

Methadone is a long-acting opioid medication used to treat addiction to heroin and certain prescription pills. Methadone helps to normalize the body’s neurological system which has been impaired by the use of heroin or the misuse of other opioids. Methadone reduces or eliminates cravings for opioid drugs and blocks the effects of other opioids. Methadone is no means a cure for opioid/heroin addiction. It’s an opportunity for someone struggling with addiction/dependence to regain their life and receive treatment.

If someone has high blood pressure they see a doctor and in most cases are prescribed a medication in which they take daily. That medication helps eliminate symptoms and helps the patient to get on with a “normal” and healthy life. This is similar to a patient struggling with heroin addiction. They see a doctor and are prescribed a medication, Methadone. They take their medication daily and it helps eliminate symptoms of withdrawals and cravings. It allows the patient to get past their addiction/dependence and move on with a healthier lifestyle. 

The sooner we make an effort as a society to understand and accept Methadone as an effective treatment, the sooner heroin/opiate addicts can stop stigma about their choice of treatment and focus on the treatment and recovery process.

Mental Illness and Substance Use: Understanding the Connection

Many patients at Intensive Treatment Systems (ITS) enter treatment expecting to feel better after stopping their illicit opiate use, however, what they sometimes experience is an increase in depression and anxiety once they have stopped using heroin or pain pills and are stabilized on methadone. What is the reason for this seeming worsening of a patient’s mental health condition once in treatment? The answer lies in the understanding that drug use disorders often co-occur with mental health issues. Many patients affected with substance use disorder are unaware of the mental health issues they may be experiencing. Their drug use may be masking and “treating” symptoms of depression, anxiety, bi-polar disorder, or schizophrenia. This is what is commonly referred to as “self-medicating.”

It is important for patients to understand this concept of self-medicating in order to understand some of the underlying reasons for drug use, as many people may switch to using additional substances once they have stopped using opiates, in an effort to effect the underlying symptoms of depression, anxiety, mania, or psychosis. In addition, many people use substances to treat psychosocial issues such as loneliness, boredom, stress, anger, grief, which are also important to identify and address in an effective way. Vicky Dramaretska, P.A.-C. at ITS also notes that many patients she sees who experience mental health issues have had history of neglect, abuse (physical and psychological), family history of psychiatric disorder, and family history of substance use which affect a patient’s development of mental health issues. ITS recommends that patients work with their counselors in the program to identify self-medicating patterns, to develop appropriate coping skills for dealing with psychosocial stressors, and to obtain referral for an outside mental health specialist to address any trauma or family history issues that may currently be impacting the patient.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) indicates that brain chemistry plays an important role in the development of both mental illness and substance use disorders. According to NIDA, “Some areas of the brain are affected by both drug use disorders and other mental illnesses. For example, the circuits in the brain that use the neurotransmitter dopamine–a chemical that carries messages from one neuron to another– are typically affected by addictive substances and may also be involved in depression, schizophrenia, and other psychiatric disorders.

Indeed, some antidepressants and essentially all antipsychotic medications directly target the regulation of dopamine in this system, whereas others may have indirect effects. Importantly, dopamine pathways have also been implicated in the way in which stress can increase vulnerability to drug addiction. Stress is also a known risk factor for a range of mental disorders and therefore provides one likely common neurobiological link between the disease processes of addiction and those of other mental disorders.” Understanding this connection between brain chemistry and mental health issues and substance use disorders is essential in identifying the most effective treatment for both. If you are experiencing any mental health symptoms, please consult with your counselor who can guide you to the appropriate resource for effective treatment. ITS recommends psychiatric evaluation for any patient who is being affected by co-occurring issues.

In addition to consulting with your counselor, Mercy Maricopa Integrated Care Customer Service, 1-800- 564-5465, can provide direct referral for mental health services.

Recovery and Diet: How the two go hand in hand.

Addiction takes a major toll on a person’s body. It often leads to irregular eating habits and poor nutrition. Nutrients, vitamins and minerals provide the body with the ability to function properly and repair itself. Nutrients provide the body with energy, help to strengthen the immune system and help the body with overall better health. This is incredibly important while in recovery for substance abuse. Feeling better and being healthy enables a person to focus on the recovery process.

Some important guidelines to remember.

  • Stick to regular mealtimes
  • Eat foods that are low in fat
  • Get more protein, complex carbohydrates, and dietary fiber
  • Vitamin and mineral supplements may be helpful during recovery (this may include B-complex, zinc, and vitamins A and C)
  • Stay away from processed sugar
  • Less caffeine

Foods that will help during recovery

  • Leafy Greens: Green leafy plants are good for the digestive tract. They can help with digestive problems due to nausea and diarrhea throughout the withdrawal process. (Kale, Spinach, Barley and other green vegetables).
  • Fruit: High in vitamins. Citrus is helpful with flushing toxins out of the body. (Oranges, lemons and limes. All can be placed in water)
  • Cranberries & Cherries: The antioxidants found in green tea can help increase liver function.
  • Garlic: Flushes out toxins and stimulates liver function
  • Nuts and Seed: Provide clean protein and help detox the body.
  • Omega 3 oils: Help clean the body and organs. Help lubricate the intestinal wall and keep it healthy. (Coconut, hemp, and extra virgin olive oil).
     

LET’S GET THIS PARTY STARTED

People that are addicted to or abuse opioids experience a euphoric response. Since these drugs also affect the brain regions involved in reward. Endorphin’s (pleasure/reward center) are subsequently released, providing the feeling of well being and gratification.

Opiates are designed to medically mange pain. Consequently there detrimental side effects, and risk associated with the use/abuse of opiates. Some of the short term effects may be feelings of euphoria, drowsiness, lethargy, respiratory depression, and constipation. Some of the long term risk associated with the use of opiates are: Dependence, nausea, vomiting, liver damage, and brain damage.

No need to be dismayed however, all is not lost. There are natural alternatives to create the feeling euphoria with all of the side effects and risk. The best thing about them is that they are free.

Here are a few ways to set off the dopamine party!

  • Eat some chocolate. That’s right…….. You have an excuse to eat chocolate, not only because it taste so wonderful, but it can be good for you. By releasing those endorphins it can make you HAPPY!!!
  • Drink some Green Tea. Be sure that it is green, as the other teas tend to have a calming agent that will cause relaxation. (Have you ever tried to be at a party and relax at the same time?)
  • GET MOVING! Moving increases production of new brain cells, slows down brain cell aging, and improves the flow of nutrients to the brain. New brain cells, new increased levels of dopamine. (TURN DOWN FOR WHAT?)
  • Listen to some music Andy Grammer telling his Honey he is good just might be what you need to get you moving and to cash in on those endorphin’s (Wink)
  • Take on a new challenge. Be creative don’t just exercise your body, but also your brain it has the same effect. (Smart is the new high.)

The party does not stop with these few suggestions. Invest some time exploring and researching (Which also releases dopamine) you may find that what you were seeking can be found without risk, or compromise.

Providing Answers to the Opioid Epidemic

With Heroin and Opiate abuse aggressively sweeping the nation, the effects are devastating. Eighty-one people die each day in the United States from an opioid overdose and 2.2 million Americans struggle with an addiction to opioids, such as heroin or pain pills.  With drug over doses now leading the cause of accidental deaths, it is clear this epidemic does not discriminate.  

What are Opioids/Opiates?

Opiates cover a large variety of substances, some legal like pain pills and others illegal such as opium and heroin. When discussing pain pills like Vicodin, OxyContin and Percocet to name a few, those substances are often referred to as “opioids”. When referring to drugs naturally derived from active narcotic components of the opium poppy like heroin and opium they are referred to as “opiates”. These terms have become interchangeable.

Opiates are medications that are prescribed to relieve pain; they reduce the pain signals reaching the brain. Opiates target the brain’s reward system and floods the brain with dopamine. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter present in sectors of the brain that regulate movement, cognition, emotion, motivation and feelings of pleasure. There are certain life-sustaining activities that the brain wants to make sure people repeat in life, in order to do so when a person performs one of those activities the brain associates those activities with pleasure or a reward like the release of dopamine. Because drugs of abuse stimulate those same areas it teaches the person to abuse drugs

Heroin is an opioid drug synthesized from morphine. Heroin usually appears as a white or brown powder. Heroin can be inhaled by sniffing or snorting, smoked or injected. All three ways of consumption deliver the drug to the brain very rapidly. When Heroin enters the brain it is converted back to morphine and binds to molecules on cells known as opioid receptors. These receptors are throughout the brain and body and are involved in the perception of pain and in reward.

With continued use of Opiates/Opioids tolerance is built and dependence occurs. 

What can be done?

 At this time, MAT is the industry standard for treating opioid addiction, as recommended by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).  It offers the best possible outcome for people struggling to stop illicit opioid use.  Medication assisted treatment (MAT) is the use of medications combined with counseling and behavioral therapies, to provide a ‘whole patient’ approach to the treatment of substance use disorders. Research indicates that a combination of medication and behavioral therapies can successfully treat substance use disorders, and for some people struggling with addiction, MAT can help sustain recovery.

Who is Intensive Treatment Systems?

Intensive Treatment Systems (I.T.S) is a CARF accredited, outpatient substance abuse treatment program providing Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) to patients who are affected by Opioid Use Disorder, or Opioid Addiction. The primary treatment objective of I.T.S is to help patients free themselves from the dysfunctional pattern of opioid abuse through the use of medications such as Methadone as well as counseling and case management services.

Ultimately through the use of medication, counseling, and case management services, it is our goal to guide patients toward a drug-free lifestyle with improved personal and vocational functioning. Medication services are provided and closely monitored by qualified medical staff, who emphasize safety and a comprehensive approach to the patient’s treatment. Counseling, case management services and groups are provided by addictions professionals who utilize Motivational Interviewing and other evidenced based practices to ensure exceptional recovery-oriented and patient centered treatment.

I.T.S has been serving patients in the Phoenix area for more than 20 years and has developed a program that is dedicated to high quality patient care and is focused on comprehensive recovery.  I.T.S has three clinics in the Phoenix area, offering methadone and counseling services at all locations.  Each patient’s care is also closely monitored by a Physician Assistant to ensure therapeutic dosing and to prevent over medication.  Our Medical Director is Board Certified in Addiction Medicine and directs the program to abide by all federal and state guidelines and to ensure safety for all patients served. 

I.T.S looks forward to serving any patients in need of MAT.  Currently we accept AHCCCS and private pay as forms of payment.  In addition, we utilize the Substance Abuse Block Grant to provide treatment to patients who are unable to pay and who do not have AHCCCS. We provide priority treatment to pregnant women and work closely with OBGYN doctors to ensure the most effective care for pregnant women addicted to opioids. 

I.T.S is dedicated to providing quality care to all patients. To ensure the best care for every patient, I.T.S believes in the importance of strong community ties and the power of the community working together to provide as many services and resources to each and every patient. I.T.S is aware that together is the only way to find a solution to this devastating epidemic.

For more information on Intensive Treatment Systems, please visit www.itsofaz.com.

Providing Answers to the Opioid Epidemic

With Heroin and Opiate abuse aggressively sweeping the nation, the effects are devastating. Eighty-one people die each day in the United States from an opioid overdose and 2.2 million Americans struggle with an addiction to opioids, such as heroin or pain pills.  With drug over doses now leading the cause of accidental deaths, it is clear this epidemic does not discriminate.  

What are Opioids/Opiates?

Opiates cover a large variety of substances, some legal like pain pills and others illegal such as opium and heroin. When discussing pain pills like Vicodin, OxyContin and Percocet to name a few, those substances are often referred to as “opioids”. When referring to drugs naturally derived from active narcotic components of the opium poppy like heroin and opium they are referred to as “opiates”. These terms have become interchangeable.

Opiates are medications that are prescribed to relieve pain; they reduce the pain signals reaching the brain. Opiates target the brain’s reward system and floods the brain with dopamine. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter present in sectors of the brain that regulate movement, cognition, emotion, motivation and feelings of pleasure. There are certain life-sustaining activities that the brain wants to make sure people repeat in life, in order to do so when a person performs one of those activities the brain associates those activities with pleasure or a reward like the release of dopamine. Because drugs of abuse stimulate those same areas it teaches the person to abuse drugs

Heroin is an opioid drug synthesized from morphine. Heroin usually appears as a white or brown powder. Heroin can be inhaled by sniffing or snorting, smoked or injected. All three ways of consumption deliver the drug to the brain very rapidly. When Heroin enters the brain it is converted back to morphine and binds to molecules on cells known as opioid receptors. These receptors are throughout the brain and body and are involved in the perception of pain and in reward.

With continued use of Opiates/Opioids tolerance is built and dependence occurs. 

What can be done?

 At this time, MAT is the industry standard for treating opioid addiction, as recommended by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).  It offers the best possible outcome for people struggling to stop illicit opioid use.  Medication assisted treatment (MAT) is the use of medications combined with counseling and behavioral therapies, to provide a ‘whole patient’ approach to the treatment of substance use disorders. Research indicates that a combination of medication and behavioral therapies can successfully treat substance use disorders, and for some people struggling with addiction, MAT can help sustain recovery.

Who is Intensive Treatment Systems?

Intensive Treatment Systems (I.T.S) is a CARF accredited, outpatient substance abuse treatment program providing Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) to patients who are affected by Opioid Use Disorder, or Opioid Addiction. The primary treatment objective of I.T.S is to help patients free themselves from the dysfunctional pattern of opioid abuse through the use of medications such as Methadone as well as counseling and case management services.

Ultimately through the use of medication, counseling, and case management services, it is our goal to guide patients toward a drug-free lifestyle with improved personal and vocational functioning. Medication services are provided and closely monitored by qualified medical staff, who emphasize safety and a comprehensive approach to the patient’s treatment. Counseling, case management services and groups are provided by addictions professionals who utilize Motivational Interviewing and other evidenced based practices to ensure exceptional recovery-oriented and patient centered treatment.

I.T.S has been serving patients in the Phoenix area for more than 20 years and has developed a program that is dedicated to high quality patient care and is focused on comprehensive recovery.  I.T.S has three clinics in the Phoenix area, offering methadone and counseling services at all locations.  Each patient’s care is also closely monitored by a Physician Assistant to ensure therapeutic dosing and to prevent over medication.  Our Medical Director is Board Certified in Addiction Medicine and directs the program to abide by all federal and state guidelines and to ensure safety for all patients served. 

I.T.S looks forward to serving any patients in need of MAT.  Currently we accept AHCCCS and private pay as forms of payment.  In addition, we utilize the Substance Abuse Block Grant to provide treatment to patients who are unable to pay and who do not have AHCCCS. We provide priority treatment to pregnant women and work closely with OBGYN doctors to ensure the most effective care for pregnant women addicted to opioids. 

I.T.S is dedicated to providing quality care to all patients. To ensure the best care for every patient, I.T.S believes in the importance of strong community ties and the power of the community working together to provide as many services and resources to each and every patient. I.T.S is aware that together is the only way to find a solution to this devastating epidemic.

For more information on Intensive Treatment Systems, please visit www.itsofaz.com.

When will the heroin epidemic end?

It seems these days you cannot open a newspaper or watch the news without seeing a story about someone overdosing on heroin or other opiates.  On Facebook you see the countless heartbreaking stories of parents who lost a child to overdose and are spending their time effortlessly spreading the word in hopes of preventing another parent from experiencing such heartbreak. Endless foundations have been started like Tyler’s Light. Started by his Father Wayne Campbell after the tragic loss of his son to a heroin overdose after getting addicted to pain pills while playing sports. Wayne now has dedicated his time and energy to educate others in hopes of saving a life.

So why does it seem that this problem is only getting worse? Could it be that through social media we are able to see the affect opiates are having on our country? Is it easier to speak out online and hide behind a computer? Or has this epidemic become so wide spread people are finally speaking out whether out of desperation or just pure fear. Whatever the reason may be they are SPEAKING UP.

We are all aware of the problem and the many different ways in which people get entangled with opiates. But what comes next? Where does someone even begin in the journey of recovery?

Intensive Treatment Systems (ITS) is dedicated to helping the community and helping guide those in need of help.  Intensive Treatment Systems is an outpatient substance abuse treatment program providing Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) to patients who are affected by Opioid Use Disorder, or opioid addiction. The primary treatment objective of ITS is to help patients free themselves from the dysfunctional pattern of opioid abuse through the use of medications such as Methadone as well as counseling and case management services.

Intensive Treatment Systems is aware that this is just one part of recovery and is committed to helping patients and making sure they have the right resources available to them. Intensive Treatment systems knows that only together can we really overcome this epidemic.

For more information on Intensive Treatment Systems please visit us at www.itsofaz.com.

If you’re a treatment facility or business in the community interested in being added to our resource list for patients please contact our Community Outreach Director Jennifer Stolpe.

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From Selfish to Self-Love: When focusing on one’s self goes from self-indulgent to the key to success in recovery.

It’s not selfish to love yourself, take care of yourself, and to make your happiness priority. It’s necessary. – Mandy Halo

Selfish is a common term used when discussing addiction. With a common belief of society that those who use drugs are only concerned with themselves. For anyone who has struggled with addiction I’m sure they can agree at times they were selfish. I’m sure they can remember a time when they would have done anything to get high and feel better and had no regard for anyone else. While society shakes its head at those who have made themselves their priority and labeled them selfish, it’s important that we all know focusing on one’s self does not always have to be selfish.

Recovery is a time of transition filled with re-evaluation, lots of changes and hopefully growth. Recovery is a time when someone must put themselves first and focus on their health, happiness, and all around wellbeing. It’s a time where it’s okay to put yourself first and do what’s best for you. While this could be considered selfish, in Recovery it’s called Self Love.

Self-love is a necessity and vital part of recovery, which is often very hard for most. Learning to love yourself enough to let go of all the hate, disappointment and regret that is often tied with using. Learning to love yourself enough to know you are worthy of getting better and deserve to get help. Learning to love yourself enough to want to change and stick with it even when it’s difficult. Learning to love yourself before you can ever love someone else.

So if someone you know is taking time to focus on themselves be supportive. Sometimes focusing on one’s self is the key to success.

Postpartum Depression: Breaking the stigma and getting the truth

Having a baby is an exciting time in a women’s life filled with big changes and a lot of emotions.  Feeling tired, anxious, and depressed is common for a new mom. It’s often referred to as the “Baby Blues” and generally goes away in a few weeks. For some new moms, it doesn’t go away and they experience a much more severe mood disorder known as postpartum depression (PPD). PPD occurs in 1 out of every 7 women who give birth and in some cases these new moms don’t even know they have it or are just too ashamed to admit it. PPD can occur days or months after giving birth with symptoms ranging from no appetite, feeling numb of emotions, not being able to connect with your child, diminished concentration, feeling guilty or like you’re a bad mom, feelings of sadness or hopeless just to name a few. While some experience mild symptoms others can experience more extreme and in some severe cases life threatening, these symptoms are very individualized and not one size fits all. It’s important that new moms understand PPD is not caused but what a mom does or does not do. PPD is simply caused by the extreme hormone changes the body experiences after giving birth added to lack of sleep and anxiety new moms often feel. With stars like Brook Shields, Courtney Cox, Gwyneth Paltrow and Hayden Panettiere sharing their stories about their own struggles with PPD it has brought more awareness to postpartum depression.  Slowly the stigmas of postpartum depression are being alleviated along with the unrealistic expectation we hold for new moms. PPD can be treated, so the earlier the detection and treatment begins the better.  It’s important for new moms even with mild symptoms to talk to their Doctors. Untreated PPD can last for months or longer and in some cases, turn to severe depression. Treatments will vary depending on the individual.  The most important thing for new moms struggling with PPD is to know is that you did nothing wrong, you are not alone and it is treatable.  

For more information on Postpartum Depression 

For help finding a local psychologist visit The American Psychological Association’s Consumer Help Center or Call 1-800-964-2000

National Strategy for Suicide Prevention: Life Line 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255)          

PPD Moms 1-800-PPDMOMS (1-800-773-6667)