Archive for February, 2016


Posted on: February 23rd, 2016 by sobrietyresources


Okay, I lied. This list isn’t really the five best recovery apps; it’s five recovery app categories with a few app recommendations within each (covering both iPhone and Android). I apologize for my dishonesty but I hope these resources will be helpful enough for you to forgive me. Look guys, it’s progress not perfection.

If you are newly sober, you will learn that having alcoholism is both a blessing and a curse. The blessing being that there is a solution and that so many people in the world are going through what you are going through right this moment, and even more who have been there and lived to talk about it (I think the curse part is self-explanatory). But those of you who are quitting drinking and using, or who are in early sobriety, or just wish to feel more connected to the sober community, are very lucky. Now, more than ever, technology affords us (at least those with smart phones, a computer and Internet access) a plethora of online support, which wasn’t available 10-plus years ago.

Here is a look at five areas where having an “app for that” can really save our sober butts.

 1) Access to the Literature

 12 Step Companion (iPhoneAndroid)­ – $1.99

I bought this app as soon as I got my first iPhone, in 2010, and have used it almost as much as my Amazon app. Okay, that’s a gross exaggeration for dramatic effect but I really have used it a lot. It is kind of a must-have for anyone who is sober through 12-step as it provides quick access to the entire Big Book (complete with Forwards to the first and second edition, The Doctor’s Opinion and the personal stories), appendices discussing the Spiritual Experience, the AA Tradition and both the short and long form of the 12 Traditions, prayers (morning, evening, one correlated to each step, St. Francis and the Serenity Prayer), the Promises (one for every step!) and AA’s Preamble, which is very handy if you want to conduct a meeting on the fly.

The 12 Step Companion also has a sobriety calculator, which is the greeting interface of the app, and it keeps track of how long you have been sober in years, months, days and even hours. No, you don’t have to be one of those people in meetings who announces how many minutes you’ve been sober, but at least if you have the info.

2) Sobriety Tracker

 Recovery Elevator (iPhoneAndroid) – $.99

Recovery Elevator is relatively new to the market but it doesn’t make this borderline genius app any less awesome. Created by the folks over at Recovery Elevator, who also run a website, host a podcast and organize sober social meet-ups, this clever little app not only keeps track of how long you are sober but it also calculates how much money you have saved not drinking (or whatever you are tracking—smoking, doing blow, slamming H) and how many calories you didn’t consume by not drinking (this obviously doesn’t apply to cigarettes, cocaine or heroin but it could apply to semen if that’s your thing).

Clean Time Counter (Android only) – FREE

If you are a proud owner of an Android-based device, strictly a lover of narcotics or not down with the term “sober,” you are in luck! The Clean Time Counter will keep track of how many years, days, hours and seconds you have been clean. And as an equal opportunity counter, it will ask you, under the user profile settings, whether you are clean or sober (which, beyond terminology, is the same thing).

3) Inspiration

 Happify (iPhoneAndroid) – FREE

Although this app has nothing directly to do with sobriety, it is a valuable tool for those of us trudging the road of happy destiny. Happify is chock full of inspiring games and activities that help manage daily stress and anxiety. While everyone can benefit from a little Happifyness in their lives, alcoholics and addicts are certainly at the front of the line (not because they need it more, per se, but because they got there early and secured their spot). Developed by scientists, this app has received rave reviews from The New York TimesThe Today Show and Katie Couric.

Twenty-Four Hours a Day (iPhoneAndroid)­ – $5.99

From the Grand Poobah of recovery, Hazelden brings us an e-derivative of their popular daily meditations book by the same name. Complete with 366 meditations, this app eliminates the need to make a DIY book cover out of grocery bags so you can meditate on the bus without the world being all up in your spiritual biznass. As far as apps go, the cost may seem steep but if you look at it as an e-book, which is pretty much what it is, it’s a lot cheaper than the $12-$16 price tag of the hard copy.

4) Social Connection 

 MOBER (iPhoneAndroid) – FREE

Ever wish there was Facebook just for sober people? Your wish has been granted with this new handy app that’s getting big buzz, particularly around LA. Connect with other sober people locally and worldwide using all the social media features we love, with a twist! Profiles include common buddies, sobriety dates, affiliated program, interests, activities, endorsements and the ability to post video and audio mini-shares. But what makes MOBER essentially more awesome than Facebook is the fact that the core connection among members is already there—being sober—so the moment you log on, you have a huge network of people at your fingertips for support, sober activities or just making new friends. While MOBER isn’t the only app out there for sober social networking, it’s certainly the latest and greatest, with a fresh, clean interface and resources that are all absolutely free.

5) Doing The Work

 Spot Check Inventory (iPhone only) – $.99

As most of us know, just because we no longer drink or use, we are not immune to daily upsets. Through 12-step work, we learned how to take an inventory of ourselves and make amends to the people we have harmed. For the price of a condom at the 99 Cents Store, the Spot Check Inventory app nudges you to do just that so you can see your part and right any wrongs. Or just see your part and then do nothing but stew on it for months until you wake up one morning hating life and don’t know why, at which point you can reflect back on that inventory and make things right. But I digress. In 12-step, we believe that it’s the same disease that connects us all; however, the folks over at Spot Check Inventory don’t share our disregard for separatism and have only made their app available for iPhone users.

Gratitude Journal (iPhone only) – $2.99

I’ll tell you what I am grateful for: having an iPhone! Androidians lose again with this adorable little app that allows you to make a gratitude list on the go. This is super handy when you are waiting for your friend who is already 20 minutes late and just texted you that she is “leaving now.” Don’t get resentful, get grateful! There are so many blessings in our lives but like a tree in the forest, they don’t really exist if we don’t acknowledge them. So get to work!

12 Steps AA Spiritual Tool Kit (iPhoneAndroid) – FREE

Saving the best for last. If other apps are convenience stores, the 12 Steps AA Spiritual Tool Kit is Target. Complete with a journal, gratitude list, spot check inventory and a sobriety calculator, this one-stop-shop for staying sober and spiritually fit is the perfect way to keep it simple. Oh and it’s FREE!


Posted on: February 23rd, 2016 by sobrietyresources

By  Danielle Prieur, February 14th, 2016

Treating drug addiction with a vaccine might become a solution to combat prescription drug and heroin addiction and the rapid rise in overdose deaths.

A vaccine, which has undergone tests in animal subjects so far, holds promise, said Dr. William Compton, deputy director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse. The vaccine would “produce an antibody response which would latch onto the drug of use…and because they’re large molecules they will not be able to cross the blood-brain barrier.”

Compton focused on the prescription drug and heroin addiction epidemic at a panel on the “Neuroscience Clues to the Chemistry of Mood Disorders and Addictions” on Saturday. He said the vaccine might be our best solution, speaking at the American Association for the Advancement of Science conference in Washington D.C.

He estimated there are 200 million prescriptions written for opioids a year in the United States. Usually prescribed for pain, many remain unused and get in the hands of family and friends.

As prescription drugs are chemically similar to heroin, if a patient becomes addicted to prescription drugs, heroin is a logical next step on the journey to addiction.  In 2014, more than 50,000 Americans died of drug overdoses, including 19,000 who died of prescription drug overdoses and 10,000 who died of heroin overdose. The remaining overdoses were due to other commonly abused drugs.

“Science can help in many ways,” he said.

If drugs can’t cross from the circulatory system into the brain through the blood-brain barrier, Compton said the “intoxication reinforcement” would be halted. If addicts can’t get “high” from drugs, they are less likely to abuse them.

Compton used an “empty wallet” analogy to describe how this vaccine would allow addicts to “spend” on drugs, but not get the payback of a “high.”

Compton said this vaccine would be part of a three-part strategy aimed at combatting the drug addiction epidemic which includes: helping addicts, reversing drug overdoses, and preventing addiction.

Along with vaccines, Compton said that the NIH is working on a buprenorphine implant that can also help addicts combat their addiction.

The implant would be inserted under the skin, like several birth control products said Compton, and would allow for a steady dose of opioid replacement drugs like buprenorphine for six months.

“It would be very small, minimally invasive and would last six months,” said Compton. “As a clinician, that sounds marvelous to me. Every day [my patients] have to decide ‘today am I going to stay healthy or am I going to go back into my drug using pathway?”

He said the implant can make the decision for them for at least six months to help them kick addiction.

Scientific solutions to reverse overdose include naloxone, available since the 1970s and now in use by police and first responders.  Compton said the NIH has announced a naloxone nasal spray, but scientific solutions to prevent addiction are crucial.

Most heroin addiction begins with prescription drug or opioid addictions prescribed for pain, he said. If less addictive non-opioid alternatives were invented to treat pain, fewer patients might become addicted in the first place.  One of these alternatives involves transmitting constant, low current to the brain through a series of electrodes attached to the scalp.

“Transcranial brain stimulation [might] change the perception of pain just as opioids,” said Compton. “Maybe we can do it in less problematic ways.”

Whether science can solve the United States drug addiction epidemic, which saw death rates from prescription drug and heroin overdose quadruple over the past 15 years, Dr. Michel Kazatchkine, who is a member of the global commission on drugs policy with the United Nations, said that polices and society must work on the problem as well.

“We are all working under the international drug control that is based on international United Nations conventions and these conventions aim at the health and welfare of mankind. However, the way drugs are understood or perceived in the public opinion, the way people who use drugs are dealt is far from actually going in direction of achieving these goals.”

Kazatchkine said that these problems will be addressed when the UN General Assembly Special Session on Drugs convenes for the first time since 1998, in three months’ time to discuss international solutions to drug addiction.

Waiting Lists Grow For Medicine To Fight Opioid Addiction

Posted on: February 23rd, 2016 by sobrietyresources

Almost 500 opioid addicts are waitlisted to receive medical treatment for their dependence.

02/11/2016 11:39 am ET by Christine Vestal

This piece comes to us courtesy of Stateline. Stateline is a nonpartisan, nonprofit news service of the Pew Charitable Trusts that provides daily reporting and analysis on trends in state policy.

BURLINGTON, Vermont — After more than a decade of getting high on illicit opioid painkillers and heroin every day, Christopher Dezotelle decided to quit. He saw too many people overdose and die. “I couldn’t do that to my mom or my children,” he said.

He also got tired of having to commit crimes to pay for his habit — or at least the consequences of those crimes. At 33, he has spent more than 11 of his last 17 years incarcerated. The oldest of seven children, he started using marijuana and alcohol when he was 12.

It’s been five years since Dezotelle started treatment the first time, and he still hustles for drugs every day. Only now, instead of heroin or OxyContin, he’s trying to score buprenorphine, one of three federally approved opioid-addiction medications. He says heroin is much easier to find, and it’s less than half the price of buprenorphine on the streets and parking lots of this college town.

Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin, a Democrat, was among the first in the nation to address the opioid epidemic. He devoted his entire State of the State address to the crisis in 2014. Since then, his administration and many of Vermont’s private practice doctors have made treatment more available than it is in most of the country.

But it’s not enough.

In this state of about 626,000, almost 500 addicts are on waiting lists to receive medication for opioid dependence. More than half will wait close to a year.

Nationwide, a shortage of doctors willing to prescribe buprenorphine, which reduces drug cravings, and a federal limit on the number of patients they can treat, prevents many who could benefit from the addiction medication from getting it.

Less than half of the 2.2 million people who need treatment for opioid addiction are receiving it, U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell said this month, previewing President Barack Obama’s new budget, which was released Tuesday and proposes $1.1 billion to expand the availability of buprenorphine and other opioid-addiction medications.

Where are the Doctors?

 More than 900,000 U.S. physicians can write prescriptions for opioid painkillers such as OxyContin, Percocet and Vicodin by simply signing on to a federal registry. Nurse practitioners and physician assistants can also prescribe opioids.

But to prescribe buprenorphine to people who become addicted to opioids and heroin, doctors must take an eight-hour course and apply for a special license. So far, fewer than 32,000 doctors have received the license and the vast majority who have one seldom, if ever, use it.

Vermont has 248 doctors licensed to prescribe buprenorphine, according to the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. All but a few treat only their existing patients who have opioid dependence.

In the weeks ahead, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is expected to propose a change to the federal rule that limits the number of patients each doctor can treat with buprenorphine. The proposed change would likely increase the number of patients a doctor can treat, possibly with the addition of new licensing requirements.

But many who work in the field of addiction question whether allowing licensed doctors to treat more patients will do much to alleviate the shortage. As in Vermont, very few doctors across the country come anywhere close to maxing out on the number of patients they are allowed to have.

The solution, they say, is for more doctors to prescribe the medication. But that’s a long-term solution that involves teaching newly minted doctors about addiction during their residencies and trying to change the hearts and minds of physicians already in private practices, said Dr. John Brooklyn, the medical director of the Howard Center’s opioid treatment program here in Chittenden County. “We’re making progress,” he said. “But it will take time.”

Advocates for greater access to buprenorphine also support a bipartisan bill in Congress — the Recovery Enhancement for Addiction Treatment or TREAT Act — that would allow nurse practitioners and physician assistants to prescribe it.

Without legislation, HHS only has authority to adjust the patient limit and licensing rules for physicians. Melinda Campopiano, chief medical officer at HHS’ Center for Substance Abuse Treatment, agreed that patients with opioid addiction would be better served if more doctors offered addiction screening and treatment.

“What is a concern to me is that more physicians don’t feel the responsibility to step up” and get a license to provide buprenorphine, she said.

An Untapped Resource 

When it was approved in 2002, buprenorphine was the first opioid-addiction medication that could be prescribed by doctors. The only other medicine available for addicts at the time was methadone, which had to be dispensed daily at highly regulated clinics. (A third addiction medication, a 30-day injectable form of naltrexone, which has been used to treat opioid addiction since 1984, has since been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration [FDA], but it is expensive and not widely used for opioid addiction in much of the country.)

Although buprenorphine does not produce the euphoric effects of heroin or OxyContin, many drug users purchase it on the street to tide themselves over until they can score the real thing. Some, like Dezotelle, use it to self-medicate.

Clinical research shows that all three opioid-addiction medicines offer a far greater chance of recovery than treatments that do not involve medication, such as 12-step programs and residential stays. Staying in recovery and avoiding relapse for at least a year is more than twice as likely with medications as without them. Medications also lower the risk of a fatal overdose.

Buprenorphine was developed with the idea that family doctors could assess patients presenting with an opioid addiction to make sure the daily oral medication was appropriate and prescribe a monthly supply to be picked up at a local drugstore.

Like methadone, buprenorphine is a long-acting opioid that relieves drug cravings and physical withdrawal symptoms with fewer of the side effects of other opioids. It presents a very low risk of overdose unless taken in combination with benzodiazepines such as Valium or Xanax.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse, which funded buprenorphine’s development, has urged doctors everywhere to start prescribing it to their patients with opioid addiction. That way, people who respond well would no longer have to travel to a methadone clinic every morning. They could get help the same way people with other diseases do — at their local doctor’s office.

So far, that hasn’t happened.

Federal Impediments

In anticipation of buprenorphine’s approval by the FDA, a 2000 federal law required doctors to seek a special license from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration to prescribe it. Without that law, a 1914 federal narcotics law would have precluded doctors from prescribing buprenorphine, and it would have been subject to the same kind of regulation as methadone.

Because buprenorphine is much safer than methadone, Congress wanted to make sure patients didn’t have to disrupt their lives by traveling to one of only 1,200 methadone clinics sparsely scattered across the country to take the daily medication under strict supervision.

In addition to requiring training, the law limited licensed doctors to 30 patients in the first year and 100 patients in subsequent years. The restriction was meant to limit so-called pill mills, in which doctors prescribe addiction medications for a cash fee without ensuring that patients are actually using it to recover and not selling it on the street.

Since then, the law has been criticized for contributing to a shortage of prescribers and unfairly singling out addicts and the doctors who treat them. No other medication requires a special license, and no other disease is subject to a patient limit, argued Dr. Kelly J. Clark, president-elect of the American Society of Addiction Medicine. She said the rules are symptomatic of the nation’s longstanding prejudice against the disease of addiction.

But others argue the rules are warranted to keep buprenorphine off the streets and to ensure quality treatment.

“Treating opioid addiction with medications has to be more than just medication management,” said Mark Parrino, president of the American Association for the Treatment of Opioid Dependence Inc., which represents methadone clinic operators.

If buprenorphine were deregulated, Parrino says there would be no guarantee patients would get the counseling and toxicology exams major medical associations agree they should have. Under current rules, the DEA regularly audits physicians to make sure they are keeping records as required and providing adequate treatment.

Forced to ‘Score’ on the Street

Here in Burlington, at a publicly funded needle exchange center, director Tom Dalton says he’s not worried about diversion of buprenorphine. He said most people who buy it illicitly, like Dezotelle does, are forced to because they can’t get a prescription for it.

Dezotelle is convinced he could stay clean and become productive if he could get and keep a prescription for a daily dose. The first time he took buprenorphine, he said, he started to feel “normal” again. “I was able to start working on some of my emotional issues.”

But after two years on the medication, Dezotelle relapsed. He missed two appointments, and his doctor refused to keep prescribing buprenorphine to him. He said the doctor told him he had other patients on his waiting list who were just as deserving and might do a better job of showing up.

After that, Dezotelle said he searched for another doctor for nearly two years and got on a waiting list here at the Howard Center for a treatment program that provides both methadone and buprenorphine. He stayed in treatment for five months until a parole violation caught up with him and he was sent back to jail.

Waiting lists are tragic, Dalton said. When people make the decision to get clean, they should be able to get into treatment immediately. Otherwise, there’s a good chance they will disappear, die of an overdose, or get arrested. At a minimum, their addiction will escalate, he said. Many who are smoking or snorting opioids start injecting, which spreads diseases such as hepatitis and HIV.

In October, the average wait time to get into the opioid treatment program here in Chittenden County was 358 days. But because the number includes pregnant women who by law must be treated within 48 hours and intravenous drug users who must be treated within 14 days, the wait is much longer for everyone else.

Dezotelle left his most recent incarceration right before Christmas. He signed up for treatment at the Howard Center again and was told the wait could be two years. Desperate to get clean and stay out of jail, he sought advice from Dalton. If he participated in a federal grant aimed at tracking people’s recovery outcomes, he would be given priority on the waitlist.

On Feb. 17, Dezotelle can quit trying to score buprenorphine on the street. He starts treatment.

Report: DMX almost dies from drug overdose

Posted on: February 23rd, 2016 by sobrietyresources

Published February 09, 2016 by New York Post

The rapper DMX almost died from a drug overdose in Yonkers on Monday night — but cops saved his life, a police source said Tuesday.

The 45-year-old “Slippin” singer collapsed next to a white BMW — and stopped breathing — in the parking lot of a Ramada Inn at around 6:20 p.m., the sources said. He also had no pulse.

Four cops gave him CPR and a medic injected him with Narcan, an anti-opioid used to reverse the effects of a heroin overdose, the police source said.

A witness at the scene, who knows the rapper, said he had taken a powdered drug before he collapsed, the police source said. He became “semi-conscious” and was rushed to a nearby hospital, the source said.

“The cops did a great job, they saved [his] life  — no doubt about it,” a police spokesman said.

A rep for DMX, whose real name is Earl Simmons, claimed early Tuesday he had suffered another asthma attack.

But a source familiar with the situation fired back, “They’re trying to cover up by saying it was an asthma attack. Obviously they don’t want to put out that this was an overdose.”

No drugs were found at the scene and no criminal charges were filed, the police source said.

Simmons was arrested in October for allegedly failing to pay $10,000 a month in child support, according to the Journal News.

Facing Addiction: It's Time to Focus on Solutions

Posted on: February 11th, 2016 by sobrietyresources

By Jim Hood Co-Founder and CEO of Facing Addiction 02/10/2016 11:15 am ET

The recent well-researched and deeply disturbing stories about overdose trends in The New York Times provide further irrefutable evidence that the addiction crisis in America is dramatically worsening:

“Graphs of the drug overdose deaths look like those of a new infectious disease… diffusing out and catching more and more people…But deaths from the traditional killers for which treatment has greatly improved over the past decade – heart disease, HIV and cancer – went down.”

However, the stories fail to investigate any solutions or suggest the critical need for a systematic approach (like we have taken with the other massive health problems mentioned in the articles) to address the national scourge of addiction.

Twenty two million Americans are currently suffering from addiction – far more than from cancer and nearly as many as from heart disease. As the death toll has continued to climb in the last decade, addiction has maintained one statistic that should shock all of us — a 90 percent treatment gap. This means that 90 percent of those 22 million Americans suffering today will not get any help whatsoever for their life-threatening illness.

We can no longer sit back and look with detached concern at graphs and statistics of this plague that is ravaging our country’s youth. We have to begin to ask the all-important but difficult question: How do we reverse these trends?

Just like the complex illness of HIV/AIDS, there is not yet a cure for addiction, but there is much to be hopeful about. Promising work is underway in the areas of prevention, treatment, and long-term recovery. Communities are benefiting from programs such as providing first responders with the ability to reverse overdoses using Naloxone. But much more needs to be done – and this will require significant philanthropy and innovation.

Astonishingly, there has never been the equivalent of the American Cancer Society or American Heart Association to battle addiction in our country, despite the terrifying reality that addiction impacts one in every three households (i.e., those currently suffering and those in long-term recovery

I left my career to help form Facing Addiction because three years ago my beautiful boy, Austin, died of an overdose. His death could have been prevented if addiction received the same public outpouring of concern, empathy, and funding that cancer and other chronic diseases receive.

Americans generously and rightfully donate hundreds of millions — and, in some cases, billions — of dollars yearly to support the efforts to fight against cancer, heart disease, and even the once marginalized condition of HIV/AIDS. Yet only a tiny fraction of this amount — literally just a few million dollars — is donated to battling addiction. The opportunity lies before us to make great strides in the fight against addiction. But it will require us to dig deeper than just reporting the numbers on the “overdose crisis;” think well beyond the simplistic notion that those afflicted “got themselves into this mess and if they wanted to stop, they would;” and boldly envision a systematic transformation similar to those that have been made with other health crises in America’s history.

But it is going to take all of us – individuals, the health care system, and journalists – to ask the tougher, more complex questions about the issue all of us would prefer to deny with a turn of our heads. Unfortunately, having paid the ultimate price for our collective apathy and inaction, I will never be able to turn my attention away from addiction. It’s time to start facing addiction with the urgency these deeply disturbing statistics demand and asking ourselves tougher questions – and demanding better answers – than ever before.

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