Poll: Heroin Addiction Is A Serious Problem

One of the major concerns being voiced by voters is the prescription opioid epidemic, and the scourge that followed in its wake now being referred to as having reached epidemic proportions. With each day that passes with the nation continuing to struggle with how to curb the opioid crisis in America, more people are being affected – even if they themselves are not the ones addicted to opioid narcotics. In fact, a new poll shows that more than one-third of respondents know someone who has struggled with prescription opioid or heroin addiction, The Huffington Post reports. The findings come from an online poll conducted between January 20-22, and involved 1,000 completed interviews.

The new HuffPost/YouGov poll showed that nearly half of respondents (49 percent) view heroin use as a serious national problem, and 87 percent say that the heroin problem is at least a somewhat serious problem. Interestingly, when respondents were asked who should be held responsible for the heroin problem in America, almost the majority said an equal share of fault falls on:

  • Drug Users
  • Drug Dealers
  • Government
  • Law Enforcement

Who is to be held to account for the problem is somewhat irrelevant, what is important is how we, as a nation, plan to address the crisis. Greater access to addiction treatment services needs to be made available; many addicts who are in need of help often need to wait long periods of time to receive the help they so desperately require. What’s more, making clean needles and the life saving drug naloxone more readily available will not only stop the spread of infectious disease – it will save thousands of lives.

Fortunately, the President will ask congress for $1.1 billion dollars next week to fund addiction treatment services across the country, USA Today reports. Funding such programs is a clear sign that America no longer agrees with the idea that addiction can be swept under the rug through arrests, and subsequent jailing. Treatment is our best fight against addiction.

If you or a loved a one is suffering from opioid addiction, please contact Harmony Foundation. Harmony is one of the longest running, most successful, treatment programs in the world, our experienced addiction treatment team can help you begin the journey of recovery.

The Brain Disease Model of Addiction


Our understanding of addiction has come a long way in a relatively short period of time; how the disease is viewed and treated are perfect examples of the progress we have made. Not too long ago, society’s answer to addiction was to dismiss those who used drugs and alcohol to the point of despair as having a shortage of willpower and perpetually hedonistic. The government’s response was to arrest and jail people who sold or abused mind altering substances, essentially branding millions of Americans as social pariahs for something that they were unable to control.

After decades of draconian drug policies, U.S. jails and prison populations exponentially grew, costing taxpayers billions of dollars each year. What’s more, when offenders with substance use disorders were released, more often than not they would be re-incarcerated for similar offenses.

Advances in medicine and our understanding of the brain has given scientists the ability to see that addiction is not a voluntary lack of self-determination and personal responsibility, but rather a disease of the brain; and, like any disease, for one to recover they require intensive treatment. Today, in most states people with substance use disorders are given the option of treatment in lieu of jail, and for those who are willing to do the work – recovery is possible.

Treating addiction as a mental illness is still a hard pill for many people to swallow, the reasons for this vary. One reason for this is that neurobiology is difficult to understand, another may be that the idea that using drugs and alcohol is a voluntary decision. The list goes on, but treating addiction as a mental illness has allowed experts to develop more effective treatments and sound prevention methods.

A review of available research conducted by the director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), Nora Volkow and colleagues, about addiction as a brain disease was published in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM). The goal was to enlighten those who question the brain disease model of addiction. The review of research produced a clear outline supporting the model, and we encourage you to read it in full. Dan L. Longo, M.D. writes:

“Advances in neurobiology have begun to clarify the mechanisms underlying the profound disruptions in decision-making ability and emotional balance displayed by persons with drug addiction. These advances also provide insight into the ways in which fundamental biologic processes, when disrupted, can alter voluntary behavioral control, not just in drug addiction but also in other, related disorders of self-regulation, such as obesity and pathologic gambling and video-gaming — the so-called behavioral addictions.”

A New Year In Recovery

Harmony Foundation would like to wish everyone in recovery a Happy New Year. We hope that everyone made it through the conclusion of the holiday season without picking up a drink or drug – a noteworthy accomplishment to say the least. Arguably, more alcohol is consumed on New Year’s Eve than any other day of the year and it can be difficult to resist the temptations all around.

We hope that everyone took a moment to think about how far you have come in recovery, even if you have only been clean and sober for a short period of time. Everyday sober is a blessing, and is another day of working towards a productive future. On the 1st of the year, it is always wise to reflect upon the people and things in your life for which you are grateful. Even if it is a short list, it will probably consist of more than before you got sober. Living from a place of gratitude is conducive to continue, long term recovery; a goal which every recovering addict and alcoholic strives to achieve – one day at a time.

If you happen to still be active in your addiction, perhaps recovery is a New Year’s resolution you have set for yourself. We would like you to know that breaking the cycle of addiction is possible, and worth it. The holidays can serve as a litmus test, showing you all the people and things that addiction has taken from you. Let 2016 be the year where you start working towards living a life free from drugs and alcohol, and in doing so you will begin to repair the damage of your past. What better time than now, why not start the new year on a sober footing?

While some addicts and alcoholics can begin to recover in the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous from the beginning, others may need extra assistance in starting the process, such as medical detoxification and a safe place away from the ever looming, omnipresent temptations. Long-term residential treatment can provide the setting which will ensure a greater chance of success.

At Harmony Foundation, we can help you begin the journey of recovery. Our affordable, residential addiction treatment program located in the beautiful Rocky Mountains is the perfect environment to start the process of turning your life around. If you or a loved one needs assistance, please contact us as soon as possible.

Quiting Smoking Reduces Risk of Relapse


For many people, alcohol and cigarettes often go hand in hand. Some people who do not regularly smoke cigarettes will concede to doing so when they are drinking. The correlation between alcohol and nicotine may be more important than you think when it comes to addiction recovery.

Recovering from any addictive substance is challenging, anything one can do to make the experience less trying is recommended. Those in recovery usually give up cigarettes last, but it turns out that alcoholics who quit smoking when they stop drinking may find a greater chance at success.

New research suggests that smokers with a history of alcohol abuse are at an increased risk of relapse three years later if they continue smoking, Science Daily reports. The study was conducted by researchers at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health and the City University of New York.

The findings come from a sample of 34,653 adults with a past alcohol use disorder. The researchers found, when compared to nonsmokers, daily smokers and nondaily smokers had about double the odds of relapsing to alcohol, according to the article.

Across the country, many substance use disorder treatment facilities do not require patients to give up cigarettes. Although, most will encourage smoking cessation, offering access to a number of current therapies. Some treatment centers believe that quitting drinking and smoking at the same time is too difficult. While that mindset may have some merit, in the long run quitting both at the same time may be more fruitful.

“Quitting smoking will improve anyone’s health,” says Goodwin, an associate professor in the Department of Epidemiology at the Mailman School of Public Health. “But our study shows that giving up cigarettes is even more important for adults in recovery from alcohol since it will help them stay sober.”

The findings held even when factoring in:

  • Anxiety
  • Illicit Drug Use
  • Mood
  • Nicotine Dependence

The findings appear in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research. __________________________________________________________________________________

If you are or a loved one is struggling with alcohol, please contact Harmony Foundation to begin the journey of recovery. Harmony is a state-of-the-art, affordable, residential addiction treatment program located in the Rocky Mountains.

Addiction and recovery news provided by Harmony Foundation.

Behavioral Health is Essential to Overall Health


Recovery is a cause for celebration, whether you are 24hrs sober or 24 years; abstaining from drugs and alcohol is a huge accomplishment. Substance use disorders plague the lives of millions of people, leaving wreckage in its wake; the brave individuals who have made the decision to free themselves of the bondage of addiction are worthy of commendation, working towards repairing the damage of their past and practicing a set of principles to ensure a healthy future. September is National Recovery Month, now in its 26th year the National Recovery Month is a time to honor the millions of people who have worked a program of recovery for nearly a century.

Throughout the month, SAMHSA sponsored events are being held to celebrate the countless men and women who are working a program of recovery, and everyone who works in the field of addiction or mental health – helping people live a life free from the insidious effects of drugs, alcohol and mental illness. People who have found recovery and those who work in the field, remind the general public that addiction is a disease not a moral failing. It is an illness that requires treatment, not incarceration.

The nation has long been in the grips of an opioid epidemic. While terrible, the scourge of opioid abuse has touched people from every class, race and demographic; reinforcing the fact that anyone can be caught in the grips of addiction. Ridding the world of the stigma of addiction will drive more addicts toward the rooms of recovery, and fewer people to the morgue. Dismantling the stigma of addiction is one of the main goals of the National Recovery Month. According to SAMHSA:

“Recovery Month promotes the societal benefits of prevention, treatment, and recovery for mental and substance use disorders, celebrates people in recovery, lauds the contributions of treatment and service providers, and promotes the message that recovery in all its forms is possible. Recovery Month spreads the positive message that behavioral health is essential to overall health, that prevention works, treatment is effective and people can and do recover.”

President Obama has Proclaimed September:

– – – – – – –
Every day, resilient Americans with substance use disorders summon extraordinary courage and strength and commit to living healthy and productive lives through recovery. From big cities to small towns to Indian Country, substance use disorders affect the lives of millions of Americans. This month, we reaffirm our unwavering commitment to all those who are seeking or in need of treatment, and we recognize the key role families, friends, and health care providers play in supporting those on the path to a better tomorrow.
This year’s theme is “Join the Voices for Recovery: Visible, Vocal, Valuable!” It encourages us all to do our part to eliminate negative public attitudes associated with substance use disorders and treatment. People in recovery are part of our communities — they are our family and friends, colleagues and neighbors — and by supporting them and raising awareness of the challenges they face, we can help eradicate prejudice and discrimination associated with substance use disorders, as well as with co-occurring mental disorders. Prevention and treatment work, and people recover — and we must ensure all those seeking help feel empowered, encouraged, and confident in their ability to take control of their future. Americans looking for help for themselves or their loved ones can call 1-800-662-HELP or use the “Treatment Locator” tool at www.SAMHSA.gov.
My Administration remains dedicated to pursuing evidence-based strategies to address substance use disorders as part of our National Drug Control Strategy. Seeking to widen pathways to recovery, our strategy supports the integration of substance use treatment into primary health care settings and the expansion of support services in places such as high schools, institutions of higher education, and throughout the criminal justice system. In the wake of public health crises related to non-medical use of prescription drugs and heroin in communities across our Nation, my Administration has pledged considerable resources to help Federal, State, and local authorities boost prevention efforts, improve public health and safety, and increase access to treatment in communities across the country. And the Affordable Care Act has extended substance use disorder and mental health benefits and Federal parity protections to millions of Americans.
Behavioral health is essential to overall health, and recovery is a process through which individuals are able to improve their wellness, live increasingly self-directed lives, and strive to fulfill their greatest potential. During National Alcohol and Drug Addiction Recovery Month, we reaffirm our belief that recovery and limitless opportunity are within reach of every single American battling substance use disorders, and we continue our work to achieve this reality.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim September 2015 as National Alcohol and Drug Addiction Recovery Month. I call upon the people of the United States to observe this month with appropriate programs, ceremonies, and activities.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this thirty-first day of August, in the year of our Lord two thousand fifteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and fortieth.

If you are or a loved one is struggling with addiction, please contact Harmony Foundation to begin the journey of recovery. Harmony is a state-of-the-art, affordable, residential addiction treatment program located in the Rocky Mountains.

Heroin Users Need Help Not Incarceration


The heroin epidemic in the United States is almost hard to comprehend, especially since the nation has a history of facing narcotic scourges. The rates of abuse and overdoses deaths are staggering, calling on officials to rethink how they look at and deal with substance abuse.

On the eastern seaboard and Appalachian region, officials have seen an unprecedented rate of addiction. Public rehabilitation services are overflowing, infectious disease continues to spread and more people lose their lives with each day that passes.

In Pennsylvania, eight people overdosed on heroin in 70 minutes, in a county of 200,000 people, The Washington Post reports. The rush of overdoses was not the result of a bad batch of the drug or negligent dosing practices among users; it was simply an example of what is resulting from a dramatic rise in heroin use (it is possible that fentanyl was involved). Sadly, more than eight people would overdose that day, in 24 hours there were 16 overdoses in all, and 25 over a two day period.

While three people lost their lives, no question a tragedy, it is worth noting that others were saved by opioid overdose reversal drug naloxone – sold under the brand name Narcan ®. It probably goes without saying, that this recent incident underscores the need for increased naloxone access – especially because the problem does not appear to be subsiding anytime soon.

“There’s been a progressive increase in overdoses the last two years, and it just went out of control,” said Rick Gluth, supervising detective on the district attorney’s drug task force. “I’ve been a police officer for 27 years and worked narcotics for the last 15, and this is the worst. I’d be glad to have the crack epidemic back.”

In the past, users would be incarcerated for their acts, but this does little to address the problem of addiction. Approaching addiction as a disease has more and more states offering treatment over jail. The U.S. attorney for western Pennsylvania and co-chair of the National Heroin Task Force established by the Justice Department, David J. Hickton, believes users need help not incarceration, according to the article.

“There is a growing sense of community outrage that we can’t accept this like we are accepting it,” said Hickton. “We just can’t go on like this.”

“If they’re using and trafficking, I prosecute them,” he said. “If they’re just using, they need help.”


If you or a loved one is struggling with heroin addiction, please contact Harmony Foundation to begin the journey of recovery. Harmony is a state-of-the-art, affordable, residential addiction treatment program located in the Rocky Mountains.

Combination of Drugs Could Help SSRI Resistant Depressives

For the millions of people around the world living with depression the most common form of treatment is medication. While medications, notably selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors (SSRIs), have proven to be effective in managing the symptoms of depression for many, there are a significant number of people for whom SSRIs do not work. Naturally, the need to create medications for SSRI resistant people is crucial.

Researchers at the University of Bath in England have found that a combination of two drugs often used for treating addiction may lead to a new drug for treating SSRI resistant depressives, MedicalXpress reports. If successful, the 30-50 percent of patients living with depression who do not respond to SSRI treatment may have a remedy in the near future.

“Whilst SSRIs work for a lot of people, they can cause serious side effects and don’t work for everyone,” said Dr Sarah Bailey, senior Lecturer in the Department of Pharmacy & Pharmacology at the University of Bath. “No new drugs for depression have been developed for decades – they all work in a similar way – so there’s an urgent need to develop new treatments for this condition that affects around 4 million adults in the UK.” 

The research team combined buprenorphine with naltrexone and found that it produced antidepressant-like responses in mice, according to the article. Buprenorphine is commonly used in detox and addiction treatment settings to alleviate the severe discomfort and cravings that occur during opioid withdrawal. Naltrexone is used for the treatment of both opioid and alcohol addiction; the drug blocks the euphoric effects of opioids and it has been shown to decrease heavy drinking.

“Our study shows that using a combination of naltrexone and buprenorphine gives an antidepressant effect in mice, but without the problems of addiction that could be caused by using buprenorphine alone,” said Dr Bailey. “Developing new drugs is a lengthy process, with lots of safety tests and trials to go through. These two drugs have already gone through that process individually, so we know they are safe. There still need to be further trials of the combination in humans, but the whole process of developing this as a new treatment would be greatly reduced.” 

The findings were published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology. __________________________________________________

Addiction is often accompanied by various mental illnesses, such as depression. If you are or a loved one is living with a co-occurring disorder, please contact Harmony Foundation to begin the journey of recovery. Harmony is a state-of-the-art, affordable, residential addiction treatment program located in the Rocky Mountains.

Addiction and recovery news provided by Harmony Foundation.

Public Schools Screen for Substance Abuse


A number of states across the country have seen a dramatic rise in overdose deaths related to prescription opioids or heroin. Naturally, as the affected states work to combat this crisis there is a lot of concern about teenage substance abuse. In Massachusetts, a state which saw more than 1,000 overdose deaths last year, child advocates are calling for substance abuse screening in public schools, WBUR reports. Screenings could help school nurses identify the students who may be in need of help before a problem gets even more out of hand.

School nurses already screen for hearing and vision problems, why not add substance abuse screening to the list? Currently, eight schools in MA have already started screening, with seven more districts expected to follow this fall, according to the article.

“Similar to the way they do hearing and eye tests, all with the goal that this is a normal process where kids are brought into their nursing offices and given a screening,” said Mary McGeown, president and CEO of the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children.

Identifying a problem early on could potentially save the lives of teens who might look to opioids for their next high. Many teens are unaware just how addictive and life threatening these types of drugs can be.

“In about 10 percent of the cases there is brief counseling, that the individual reports that they have used alcohol or have used marijuana,” said McGeown.

“In a very, very small percentage of those 10 percent, really 1 or 2 percent, there’s a referral to treatment,” she added. “And it’s at that point that a parent would be called.” Lawmakers are meeting today to discuss a bill that would take the program statewide.


If you are currently struggling with opioids and are need of help, please do not hesitate to contact Harmony Foundation to begin the journey of recovery. Harmony is a state-of-the-art, affordable, residential addiction treatment program located in the Rocky Mountains.

Blood Pressure Medication Affects Unconscious Addiction Memories

There is still a lot that scientists do not understand about the complex nature of addiction. Nevertheless, researchers continue to tirelessly probe the human mind in order to decode the nature of addiction and the causes of relapse, with the hope that one day better treatments for the disease can be developed.

Over the last few years, addiction researchers have been testing the effects of a number pharmaceuticals developed for a series of medical conditions. The goal was to see if such drugs had an impact on the cycle of addiction. Researchers from the University of Texas at Austin have been experimenting with the blood pressure medication isradipine, and if human trials prove successful, the drug could help prevent relapse, ScienceDaily reports.

The researchers gave high doses of the antihypertensive drug isradipine to rats addicted to cocaine or alcohol. Hitoshi Morikawa, an associate professor of neuroscience at The University of Texas at Austin, along with colleagues, trained rats to associate either a black or white room with the use of a drug, according to the article. Over time, the rats given isradipine no longer chose the room they associated with the addictive drug. The rats who didn’t receive the antihypertensive almost always choice the drug room. The findings suggest that the memories of addiction had disappeared entirely.

“The isradipine erased memories that led them to associate a certain room with cocaine or alcohol,” said Morikawa.

It may be possible to target the associations an addict has with the experience prior to the use of a drug. If isradipine can erase the unconscious memories that underlie addiction in humans, it would be a monumental advancement in addiction research.

“Addicts show up to the rehab center already addicted,” he said. “Many addicts want to quit, but their brains are already conditioned. This drug might help the addicted brain become de-addicted.”

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved isradipine, the article reports. Morikawa points out that clinical trials could begin in the near future.

The findings were published in the journal Molecular Psychiatry.

If you are or a love one are in the grips of a substance use disorder, please contact Harmony Foundation. We can help you build a foundation for recovery.

Addiction and recovery news provided by Harmony Foundation

A Review of Medical Marijuana Research

The need for a better understanding of marijuana’s medicinal properties is great, considering that more states are expected to adopt medical marijuana programs in the coming years. There are currently 23 states and the District of Columbia which have active medical marijuana programs. Such programs have brought on an increase in research involving the controversial drug. While each state is different regarding the acceptable health conditions for which marijuana can be recommended, new research suggests that cannabis works for treating some conditions better than others, Reuters reports.

A new review of previously conducted research, which included 80 randomized trials involving nearly 6,500 people, indicated moderate support for using cannabis to treat certain ailments, including chronic pain, muscle spasms and involuntary movements. However, the review did not show much support for using cannabis to treat:

  • Chemotherapy Induced Nausea and Vomiting
  • Sleep Disorders
  • HIV-Related Weight Loss
  • Tourette Syndrome

“As systematic reviewers, we have provided a summary of the available evidence which doctors can now use to make decisions regarding whether to prescribe cannabinoids for their patients,” said Penny Whiting of University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust in the UK.

Whiting points out that when considering the benefits of using marijuana to treat medical conditions, one must also consider the potential side effects which often accompany the drug, according to the article. Side effects which include:

  • Euphoria
  • Dry Mouth
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Sleepiness

“Individuals considering cannabinoids as a possible treatment for their symptoms should discuss the potential benefits and harms with their doctor,” said Whiting.

The research was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).

It is important to keep in mind that marijuana is a mind altering substance which carries with it the potential for addiction. If you find yourself struggling with cannabis, please do not hesitate to reach out for help.

Addiction and recovery news provided by Harmony Foundation