How we can be triggers

Did you realize – At times family can be the biggest triggers for those who are struggling with a Substance Use Disorder.

For a loved one in recovery, it’s important to be understanding not judgmental.  It takes courage to disclose addiction to someone they love or admire. Often fear losing your trust and respect, their self confidence will be at its lowest point. Take the time to recognize, you have the opportunity to make a huge impact, it’s not the time for confrontation.

When someone identifies as an ‘addict’ typically they are deemed as untrustworthy, with no ethics. Reaching the lowest point in their lives, rejected by friends and family. This often leads them further into addiction.

Finally, they open up and are honest about their addiction. It’s crucial to be supportive, they need encouragement now more than ever.  Try not to talk negatively or accusingly as this may trigger feelings of guilt and shame. Being judged by someone you love and respect can cause additional mental health issues, it can make it more difficult to move forward honestly and transparently.  

Through life we all have obstacles to overcome Addiction unfortunately has a stigma that causes people to be treated differently. Society can be inhumane, critical and dismissive. Regardless of the addiction, whether drugs or alcohol or a combination of both – support and understanding are essential.

People, places and things can be triggers, learning what the individual triggers are, how to encourage and offer guidance will help enormously.  It will foster a greater understanding and together you can make the changes needed in rebuilding your lives. 

You will have questions and doubts, about each other and the treatment processes. Our team of professionals at Intensive Treatment Systems (ITS) are available to support you and your family through this journey and the treatment options available. 
Call 1-855-245-6350 anytime 24-hours a day /7-days a week


Opioid Addiction and How the Brain Responds

Opioid addiction is much deeper than what we see from the outside. It involves how the drug changes the structure and function of the brain that makes people continue to use it, leading to the addiction.

Dr. Sol Snyder first studied the effects of opioids in the 1970s at John Hopkins University. His team discovered opioid receptors in the brain. This discovery helped them better understand why opioid users feel euphoric, less pain, and become physically and psychologically dependent.

How the Brain Responds to Opioids

Opioid addiction directly affects the brain’s receptors in much of the same way other enjoyable activities do, such as sex or eating. When we engage in pleasurable activities, our brain releases neurotransmitters. These neurotransmitters attach to mu receptors, which activate the release of chemicals. These chemicals are what cause us to enjoy what we are doing and reduce the sensation of pain.

When introduced into the body, enzymes in the brain convert them into morphine. It’s the morphine that attaches and activates opioid receptors, releasing the neurotransmitter dopamine. The nervous system uses dopamine to send messages between nerve cells. It also plays a significant role in how we feel pleasure. The more dopamine there is, the more pleasure we feel.

The brain is highly adaptable. After regular use of opioids and the increased dopamine release, the brain begins to alter its functioning to accommodate the increase in dopamine. The brain no longer reacts as quickly and as powerfully to the drugs, which means lower feelings of pleasure and increased pain sensitivity. The only way to bring back the euphoria and higher pain thresholds is to introduce a higher dose of the drug.

Opioid addiction can occur quickly and easily, depending on how fast it adapts to the increased dopamine levels. Once the brain adapts to those higher levels, the only way to avoid feeling the withdrawal effects is to continue the opioid drug dosage that produces higher dopamine levels. 

Long Term Effects on the Brain

Using opioids for many years can lead to permanent changes to the prefrontal cortex and medial temporal lobe of the brain. These two areas of the brain are essential in:

  • Memory
  • Decision-making
  • Thought processes
  • Social behavior
  • Reasoning skills
  • Emotional processes
  • Behavior control

Since opioid addiction can lead to those permanent changes, it’s important to seek help as soon as possible. Opioid addiction is not a lifelong sentence. Treatment can help the brain withdraw from the elevated levels of dopamine and become accustomed to what the brain naturally produces. Recovery helps with the mental and emotional dependency of the drug to prevent relapse.

Intensive Treatment Systems offers Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT), integrated care, counseling, peer support, and much more to those who struggle with opioid and alcohol addiction. We have many clinics conveniently located in and around the Phoenix area. Call us 24/7 at 623-247-1234 for additional information on how we can help you break free from opioid addiction.

William Fox DNP, AGNP-C

HOW ITS IS RESPONDING TO THE CRISIS

The Covid-19 crisis paired with the already opiate epidemic has had an impact on individuals struggling with addiction and mental health. According to the National Institute of Health, because of the effect that Covid-19 has on the respiratory and pulmonary health it leads the potential to become a bigger threat to those who struggle with opiate use disorder.  Individuals struggling with substance use disorder are also more likely to experience homelessness, lack of health care, and barriers when it comes to transportation. ITS takes pride in being able to bridge those barriers to allow individuals the best possible care.

At ITS we are doing everything possible to ensure patient safety while continuing to give top notch patient care. ITS understands the barriers that Covid-19 has created for individuals who are engaged in MAT clinics, specifically the ones taking methadone. ITS does not only offer medication assistance treatment but also offers integrated care. We understand how difficult it is to see a provider during this pandemic. ITS strives on eliminating all barriers to make sure sobriety is in reach. At all ITS locations there is mask mandate, frequent sanitization, and social distancing guidelines in place. Like all other MAT clinics, ITS is also engaging in the Covid-19 take homes for what SAMSHA considers “stable” patients.

At ITS, we take the crisis very serious, but also understand the impact it has had on mental health.  Individuals may experience a surge in stress during this pandemic which can lead to many things including increased drug use. According to the CDC, there has been a surge in individuals who are reporting fear and anxiety to the pandemic. ITS is offering both in person care and telemedicine to ensure that individuals are both physically safe and mentally safe.

Intensive Treatment System offers same day appointments, same day transportation, and integrated care. Struggling with substance abuse can be exhausting, sometimes causing one to feel depressed and alone, but ITS is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, to offer services and help individuals gain a sense of purpose.

Call ITS to speak to someone today for a better tomorrow, 1-855-245-6350.

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.