Category Archives: Drug Abuse

Lecture: Pain and Addiction: Challenges & Controversies

Past Lecture: Frontiers in Addiction Lectures Series

Presented by Thelma McMillen Center

Pain and Addiction: Challenges & Controversies

May 19, 2015

Hoffman Health Conference Center, 3315 Medical Center Drive, Torrance, CA

8:30 AM Breakfast

9:00 – 11:30 AM Lecture

Speaker:

Mel Pohl, M.D. Medical Director
Las Vegas Central Recovery
Las Vegas, Nevada

Attendees Will:

  • List examples of the complicated co-occurring diagnoses of chronic pain and addiction when they both occur in an individual
  • List implications for treatment interventions with chronic pain with specific discussion of central pain syndromes
  • Describe and show brain mechanisms for the experience of pain and suffering

FREE CMEs and CEUs
FREE Continental Breakfast Provided

RSVP not required.
Call (310)-257-5758 for further information.

Location
Torrance Memorial’s Health Conference Center
3315 Medical Center Dr. Torrance, Calif. 90505 (off Skypark Dr; between Hawthorne & Crenshaw)

FREE Parking in the MAIN HOSPITAL STRUCTURE
(off Lomita on Hospital & Technology Dr.), near the Emergency area. SHUTTLE AVAILABLE.

Target Audience: MDs and Psychologists (*), RN (BRN Provider #300), LCSW & MFT (PCE #1881), CAADAC (2S-02-489-0716), CAADE (CP20955C0816) and allied health professionals.

Torrance Memorial Medical Center is accredited by the Institute for Medical Quality/California Medical Association (IMQ/CMA) to provide continuing medical education for physicians.

Torrance Memorial Medical Center designates this live activity for a maximum of 2.5 AMA PRA Category I credits™. Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity.

This credit may also be applied to the CMA Certification in Continuing Medical Education.

Click here for Torrance Memorial Medical Center events.

Marijuana Legalization Expected to Lead to More Teen Use: Survey

A survey of high school seniors suggests marijuana legalization will lead to increased use of the drug among teens. The survey found 10 percent of seniors who said they don’t currently use marijuana said they would try it if the drug were legal.

Researchers at New York University’s Center for Drug Use and HIV Research surveyed almost 10,000 high school seniors about their attitudes toward marijuana, UPI reports. The findings appear in the International Journal of Drug Policy.

“What I personally find interesting is the reasonably high percentage of students who are very religious, non-cigarette smokers, non-drinkers, and those who have friends who disapprove of marijuana use — who said they intended to try marijuana if it was legal,” lead researcher Dr. Joseph J. Palamar said in a news release. “This suggests that many people may be solely avoiding use because it is illegal, not because it is ‘bad’ for you, or ‘wrong’ to use.”

Source: Join Together

Addiction Should be Treated as Public Health Issue: Kerlikowske

Addiction should be treated as a public health issue, National Drug Control Policy Director R. Gil Kerlikowske told participants of a conference on prescription drug abuse Thursday. Addiction is a brain disease, and should not be treated as a moral failure, he said.

Drug overdoses kill more Americans than traffic crashes or gunshot wounds, he told the group. He praised prescription drug take-back events for removing drugs from the home that might otherwise fall into the hands of young people and others who may abuse them, the Associated Press reports.

Kerlikowske touched on a range of issues, including medical marijuana, cocaine use and heroin use. He said the popularity of medical marijuana sends the wrong message to young people, and noted there has been a 40 percent drop in cocaine use since 2006.

There has been a decrease in the number of people abusing prescription drugs, from 7 million in 2010, to 6.1 million in 2011, he said. Kerlikowske expressed concern about the rise in heroin use.

Source: Join Together

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Legalizing Drugs Won’t Make Organized Crime Disappear: Kerlikowske

U.S. National Drug Control Policy Director Gil Kerlikowske told an international meeting this week that legalizing drugs will not be a “silver bullet” that will make organized crime disappear.

Instead of arresting more users and building prisons for them, Kerlikowske said governments should focus on “a science-based approach to drug addiction as a disease of the brain that can be prevented, treated and from which people can recover,” Reuters reports.

Kerlikowske told the meeting that the U.S. federal government now spends more on drug prevention and treatment than domestic law enforcement. However, the United States is continuing its efforts to disrupt and dismantle criminal organizations around the world, he added.

Some Latin American countries are considering relaxing penalties for personal drug use. Guatemalan President Otto Pérez Molina favors legalization as a way to reduce crime and violence. Uruguay has considered a proposal to legalize marijuana.

On Wednesday, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime Executive Director Yury Fedotov said the agency’s new drug report found a decline in the use of traditional drugs such as heroin and cocaine in some parts of the world, and an increase in the use of prescription drugs and new psychoactive substances.

Source: Join Together

Parenting 101

March 2013


1.  As a single dad (sober 17years) to two teen-age sons I’m concerned about the move to legalize marijuana.  I’ve been honest with my kids about my own use, but how do I continue my “hard line” when everywhere I look and everything I hear about marijuana makes it seem as if it’s harmless.

Assuming that your use is in the past (if not, then stopping your own use is the most impactful thing you can do to keep them Marijuana free),  it is good to keep an ongoing dialogue with them about the dangers of Marijuana. One focus needs to be the facts known about Marijuana and the other the fact that something being legal does not make it harmless, alcohol being a great example.  The following link provides some excellent information regarding  the public health consequences associated with legalization:  www.whitehouse.gov/ondcp/marijuanainfo.   Assuming that you stopped for some very specific reasons, it would be good to share with your sons any and all the negative effects, both physical and psychological, that contributed to your decision to stop.  You may also want to point out, that ‘if’ marijuana is legalized, it will most likely be restricted to persons over 21, like alcohol.  The simple reason is that individuals under 21 are not in a stage of life where they can completely understand the risks and impacts of substance use that could very well change the course of their lives.   Also,  research has repeatedly shown that parents can be the strongest influence on adolescents’ attitudes towards drug use.  Being a good example, sending a consistent message (one talk does not do it), and being  a good listener will help them find the truth.

2.  I just found out that my 17yo daughter is pregnant.  And if that’s not bad enough, she’s been smoking and drinking with her friends and, in general, been pretty much out of control for over a year.  She hasn’t been to a full day of school in ages and now I’m worried sick about the child she’s carrying.   I don’t know where to turn or what to do.

You are right to be concerned about the child your daughter  is carrying. Alcohol, Marijuana and Tobacco are all capable of having devastating negative impacts on that child. There is nothing sadder than permanent harm done to a complete innocent. There is help available for your daughter. There are a number of publicly funded treatment centers that specialize in pregnant or parenting women, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health’s Substance Abuse Prevention and Control division can help you find one near you.  It is important to note that when a child is born and tests positive or shows clear signs of drug exposure, medical staff are mandated to report to DCFS and they will open a file.  If your daughter is unwilling to seek help you are faced with some hard choices.  There are a number of options you will want to explore to protect your unborn grandchild involving interventions with your daughter, boundaries on your support for her continued harmful behaviors, and involvement of the authorities. None of these are black and white or cut and dried. A good first step would be to engage a counselor or therapist knowledgeable about addiction to help you  find the right decisions for you.

Responses to the above parent questions have been provided by members of the South Bay Coalition whose expertise and experience lies in parenting, counseling, and/or substance abuse prevention.  The South Bay Coalition is a non-profit partnership of agencies working to prevent substance abuse among our community’s youth.  For local resources or more information, please visit our website www.thefutureiswatching.org or if you have questions you’d like our experts to respond to, contact: events@sbcoalition.com.

Parenting 101

February 2013

1.  My ex-husband is an alcoholic & drug addict and has almost no contact with our two children (12 & 15).  My oldest daughter is beginning to worry me with her recent behavior.  She blames me for her father’s problems, and often talks about how weak he is to have become addicted.  I know some of her friends have been caught drinking and I’m afraid that’s the path she’s headed down.  Is there anything I can do to make sure she’s drug-free?

If your daughter has not had any education on the disease concept of addiction it would be a good thing to make sure she gets.  Addiction is a diagnosable brain disease, not a weakness and whether he is active in her life or not, he is her father and it is important she have a framework for understanding what has happened to him. As far as making sure your daughter stays drug free, there are no guaranteed methods but there’s a lot you can do to increase the chances that she does not damage her life with substance use.  Along with some education on the disease concept to understand her father’s affliction, she needs to understand her own genetic predisposition and the risks associated with it. She needs a very clear message from you stating the family boundaries about substance use and that no amount (alcohol included) is acceptable while she is a minor in your house. You can assist her in building positive aspects to her life; positive passions, hobbies and accomplishments are wonderful protective assets. Keep the dialogue about substance use open, it is not a one conversation issue. One of the most important things is to make sure you are as aware as possible of what she is or is not doing substance-wise. One of the easiest methods is to make a hard rule family tradition that she must give you a hug or a kiss on the cheek anytime she comes home, even if that means waking you up.  A significant degree of intoxication can be hidden by keeping even a small physical distance. If she is close enough for physical contact with you,  it will be much easier to discern if she has been drinking or using.   Finally, both your children would greatly benefit from speaking with a professional drug counselor, especially one that is a recovered addict.  They would be very helpful in helping your children understand the ‘psychology’ of an addict,  and clear up the misunderstanding that you had much to do with her father’s ‘problem’, and how they are at risk if they have similar thoughts as addicts do.

2.  My 17yo son is a good student – popular & gets good grades.  Several of his friends come from very financially successful families and I’ve heard them talk about having parties without their parents – how do I make sure my son understands that just because these friends have money and (maybe too much) freedom, doesn’t make them invincible when it comes to drinking or drugs?

The key to successfully raising children in these very difficult times (difficult because there are so many choices that have lifetime impacts) is communication, communication and communication.  Have frequent talks where you make clear your expectations.  Especially let him know that because you observe him making good choices, even when some of his friends are making poor ones, that you will continue to allow him the freedoms he enjoys, i.e. going to his friends ‘gatherings’ as long as he continues making good decisions. All people, especially teens need constant positive reinforcement to stay on the right path. He may act like he is tired of hearing this over and over, but the truth is it really helps you stay in touch.  Alternatively, if you are truly against his attending his friends’ unsupervised parties, you should make clear your unwillingness to approve his participation in those activities.   Remember,  the feeling of “invincibility” is a normal part of adolescent development.  It is all too easy for them to believe it “cannot happen to me or my friends.”   This means that you must make sure that your son has the information on both the risks of alcohol and drug use, as well as the very real and certain negative impacts it has. There is a lot of solid research showing the negative impacts of alcohol and other substances on the developing brain and discussing that with him is worthwhile.  Unfortunately, it is just not, by itself, tremendously effective. To give your son the best chance at avoiding substance use-driven harms, he also needs an ongoing dialogue with you about substance use and very clear boundaries that no level of such is acceptable while he is a minor in your house.

Responses to the above parent questions have been provided by members of the South Bay Coalition whose expertise and experience lies in parenting, counseling, and/or substance abuse prevention.  The South Bay Coalition is a non-profit partnership of agencies working to prevent substance abuse among our community’s youth.  For local resources or more information, please visit our website www.thefutureiswatching.org or if you have questions you’d like our experts to respond to, contact: events@sbcoalition.com.

Parenting 101

January 2013

1.  My husband and I suspect that the father of one our son’s friends might be using steroids.  He’s abnormally “buff” and his moods sometimes seem way over the top.  How can we approach our son about this to ensure he doesn’t think it’s cool to use steroids without harming the relationship between he and his friend?

It is important to see these as separate issues.  One is about your concerns that the father of your son’s friend “may” be using steroids, and the other about the use of steroids and your own son.
The second concern can be better addressed by casually bringing up the topic of performance enhancement drugs like steroids and HGH.  You may want to bring up the current situation with Lance Armstrong, asking your son what he thinks.   Research some information online about how many great individuals, including Olympic athletics fall victim to the temptation of performance enhancement drugs and stress how important it is to avoid all use of such things.

While it surely may be true that this father is using steroids, without specific proof of this, any accusations could easily turn into a hostile situation that could reflect poorly on the two of you.  This may be best left alone.   Any suggestion you make between steroids and this boy’s father may go straight to the father, making a hostile situation for you and your family, especially if he has altered moods.   However, if you feel it needs to be addressed specifically doing that research becomes even more be helpful in becoming familiar with the dangers of steroid use,  both to the user and those close to the user.  If you make a short list of the biggest concerns,  noting that there can be many other problems as well,  your son will more likely to be receptive to the information and more likely to retain it.  You will want to make clear that you are pursuing a concern, not an attack on his friend or his friend’s father.  As you will find in your research, steroid abuse leads to severe damage to the body and brain and can be a huge contributing factor to homicides, suicides and other violent and aggressive behaviors.  If the idea that his friend’s father may be using steroids shakes him up or concerns him then  make sure he is aware of the dangers if the father goes into a “roid rage” and plan appropriately for his safety.  If he defends steroid use itself, you will have a lot more work to do with more research done together, serious discussions of his thought process in thinking they are in any way o.k. and possibly professional counseling.

2.   My 15yo daughter is having significant mood swings.  She’s always been a bit dramatic, but lately she get extremely angry or weepy over the smallest things.  And then 10 minutes later she’ll be her old laughing, good-natured self.  I don’t have insurance so getting her to a counselor or therapist will be next to impossible.  What can I do to help her?

One of the biggest challenges for parents, and in reality, therapists as well, is distinguishing when adolescent behaviors are normal and when they may be pathological.  This entire stage of life is noted for instability of mood, mind and will, which makes this period of time often the least favorite of life’s stages. You stated that having her see a therapist is next to impossible.  This practically rules out the possibility of having a professional diagnosis and leaves it all in your hands.  The biggest worry is that this behavior will somehow hinder her growth both emotionally and academically.  Check with her teachers, school counselor, and adult friends and ask them if they are concerned about her behaviors with them or in public.  If she is progressing at school academically and socially, without any of the people who interact with her being concerned, then allow yourself to step back and become an observer as well as her biggest supporter and see where it goes.  However, if you do discover issues that are holding her back, please reconsider the counseling option.

Specifically,  be aware that any expression, verbally, in writing, or in behavior of a desire to harm herself or others needs to be taken seriously and professional help engaged.  Angry or weepy (minus destructive behavior) is fairly normal for a 15 year old girl. The quick rebound to her normal laughing self even sounds fairly healthy, different than the manic glee of a substance induced rebound.

Responses to the above parent questions have been provided by members of the South Bay Coalition whose expertise and experience lies in parenting, counseling, and/or substance abuse prevention.  The South Bay Coalition is a non-profit partnership of agencies working to prevent substance abuse among our community’s youth.  For local resources or more information, please visit our website www.thefutureiswatching.org or if you have questions you’d like our experts to respond to, contact: events@sbcoalition.com.

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