Marilyn Mosby, Maryland State Attorney, In Favor of Safe Injection Sites

Maryland State Attorney in Favor of Safe Injection Sites

Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby has come out in favor of safe injection sites for heroin and other drug users, signing onto a legal brief in support, along with 63 other experts in the criminal justice field. Mosby signed a legal brief that is in support of Safehouse, a safe injection site, sometimes referred to as an overdose prevention site, in Philadelphia.

The legal brief has been signed by multiple federal and state prosecutors, as well as law enforcement officials from across the country. The brief states that, “Philadelphia and other American communities gripped by this public health emergency should be able to make use of the proven benefits of an overdose prevention site to save lives, improve public health, and enhance community trust and public safety.”

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Marilyn Mosby, Maryland State Attorney, has signed onto a legal brief in support of safe injection sites.

The idea of giving people addicted to heroin and other drugs a safe place to use has become the topic of conversation for those pro harm-reduction, mostly due to opioid overdose rates skyrocketing in recent years, assumingly because of fentanyl. Fentanyl has increasingly been found in heroin and cocaine overdose deaths. Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid more potent than heroin. Safe injection sites can be found throughout Europe and Canada.

Baltimore County operates clean needle exchange programs, which allows those suffering with addiction to exchange dirty syringes for clean needles and learn about resources and treatment options. However, Maryland needle exchanges are not statewide, and none of the programs allow for user to inject themselves on-site, where they would have access to naloxone, nursing staff and social workers. In Baltimore, 224 people died to due opioid overdoses during that period, according to the health department.

While the use of safe injection sites has been increasingly popular, and a topic of conversation, there are still some issues with the idea that this would actually help anyone suffering with addiction. The biggest issue that has been raised with safe injection facilities is that it is a temporary solution to a huge problem. While safe injection sites could help aid in overdose prevention and the spread of infectious disease, there is no “getting better” if you are using drugs daily. These sites become a band-aid when we need stitches or surgery. Deciding to enter treatment is the best way to get the help you need to truly live a happy, sober, life.

Foundations Recovery Center of Maryland is here to help you recover from your addiction, not just physically, but spiritually, mentally and emotionally as well. Trauma, pain and the fear of stigma and shame often create barriers in treatment, but at Foundations our therapists work with you to get through these issues.

Reports Show Maryland Overdose has Declined

Drug Overdose Deaths have Declined in Maryland

In the last two years, officials locally and across the country have been allocating any and all extra resources to combat the opioid epidemic since drug overdoses were declared a public health emergency. Recently, we have seen a small amount of progress in the state of Maryland.

There has been a 15 percent drop in the number of overdose deaths in 15 Maryland counties, including Baltimore City. The total number of deaths is still extremely high considering 577 people in the first three months of 2019 is more than six people dying a day, but the 15 percent drop is still promising and the first decline in deaths since 2010.

Throughout Maryland, more than six people have died per day since the start of 2019. However, this is a 15% drop.

Last year, 2,385 people died due to drug overdose in the state of Maryland alone. Many believe that the spike in deaths is due to the cheaper and more dangerous drug, fentanyl. Many users initially don’t know if they are using fentanyl, because it is commonly mixed with heroin, which in turn causes users to overdose due to the higher potency. Public health and law enforcement officials have warned the public that fentanyl has almost entirely replaced heroin in the street-drug supply.

Overdose death is preventable, and help is always available. Just because overdose has declined in the past three months, doesn’t mean you are safe. If you or someone you know is struggling with substance use, the safest and most effective way to get clean and sober is entering treatment.

Anne Arundel County School’s Work to Combat Addiction

Anne Arundel County STAR Program to help Adolescents with Substance Use Disorder

Screening Teens to Access Recovery, also known as the STAR Program, will allow high school students in Anne Arundel county suspected of substance abuse, to connect with licensed therapists from the Department of Health via tele-sessions. The program is the newest effort to combat drug addiction among adolescents in Anne Arundel County.

The STAR Program will allow students to be screened via tele-session by a licensed therapist. Based on the results, the therapist and the student can continue to work together and determine the appropriate next steps for treatment.

School officials have been keeping track of students who might be abusing drugs. In the past year it was estimated that 327 students were under the influence of some substance, presumably marijuana, while in school.

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Experts in Anne Arundel County believe that drug and alcohol misuse is one of the main contributing factors to suicidal ideations and attempts. Suicide is the second leading cause of death for young people between the ages of 15 and 24 in Anne Arundel County.

In the county’s 2019 Community Health Needs Assessment, it was documented that students as young as 11 years old are beginning to use marijuana recreationally. National data collected by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration also suggests more young people are turning to prescription drugs, like opioids.

Experts in Anne Arundel County believe that drug and alcohol misuse is one of the main contributing factors to suicidal ideations and attempts. Suicide is the second leading cause of death for young people between the ages of 15 and 24 in Anne Arundel County.

The introduction of the STAR Program in Anne Arundel County high schools is coming at a pivotal moment.  The county continues to fight the opioid crisis and hopes that this will help decrease the number of opioid overdose deaths, which is highest for people 18 to 24.

If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse, help is always available, and treatment is the best option to begin your path to wellness.

Addiction Recovery Journey: Haven’s Story

Haven's Recovery Story

Deciding on going to treatment from drug or alcohol addiction can be the hardest, and best, decision of your life. This week, Foundations Alumni Haven L., shared her story of recovery in hopes to inspire others to make that same leap of faith.

Haven, like many people struggling with substance abuse, shared that before she asked for help it had gotten to a point of desperation. “I just wanted to be dead,” Haven said. Haven finally decided to tell her family, who was supportive in helping her get into treatment. “It was kind of a relief to be honest. Because even before drugs were in the picture, I spent most of my life lying about anything and everything.” Haven shared that the first three weeks of treatment she wasn’t sure if she made the right decision, then something switched within her. She decided to finally give sobriety a real chance and to work on some of the things that had made her want to use in the first place.

Haven spoke a lot about codependency, a problem many people struggle with in relationships, and how working on finding out who she really is, has helped her on her journey to recovery. Haven shared about learning to be willing to do whatever was suggested of her to stay sober, which she admits wasn’t easy. “I moved, I left my old job that I loved, but I knew I had to if I wanted to stay sober.”

Haven believes meetings, her sponsor, her therapist, and a higher power have all helped her remain sober since leaving Foundations. She also attributes “aggressive journaling” to helping her cope with life’s stressors.

If you or someone you know is struggling with substance abuse, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Our 24/7 admissions specialists are available by phone or chat whenever you are in crisis.

Psychodrama at Foundations Recovery Center

What is Psychodrama?

When a new member joins my Psychodrama group, I often ask, “Any idea what Psychodrama is?” I’ve gotten a deadpan stare or two. Responses usually range from fretting about high school Theatre class exercises to, “you want me to act something out?” In practice, Psychodrama is neither of these. Those who have been part of a Psychodrama group usually struggle to find words to explain the experience. Usually, all they can share to console that confused new member is, “You just have to see it.”

I explain Psychodrama to a newcomer like this: Psychodrama is therapy in action. With the support of a trained practitioner, Psychodrama allows us to put abstract concepts like emotions, self-doubt, and even addiction in front of us and interact with them through props, scarves, or people. There is usually no sitting in a circle in this type of group. Members are standing, moving, and interacting with the intention of supporting a chosen member, or protagonist, through an inner struggle.

Photo of clients acting for psychodrama group therapy sessions.
Psychodrama can be described as "therapy in action." Psychodrama group is held weekly at Foundations Recovery Center.

Who created Psychodrama and who benefits from it?

Psychodrama was developed by Dr. J.L. Moreno after an experience running groups with disempowered sex workers in Vienna showed him the potential for healing through group therapy. After emigrating to the United States, Moreno met his wife, Zerka, and the two began training others in experiential therapy methods. Since then, Psychodrama has evolved into a variety of branches and methods. Though Psychodrama has not been studied as extensively as other therapies, research does support Psychodrama as a positive intervention for those in treatment for Substance Use Disorders. Imagine being able to hold a conversation with your addiction or get clarity on a recurring pattern in your life. Imagine how helpful it could be to identify recovery supports you may have never considered before. All these are possibilities in the space we create in a Psychodrama group.

Foundations Recovery Center Psychodrama Group

At Foundations Recovery Center, we hold one group a week dedicated to Psychodrama. Themes commonly explored include family dynamics, internal/external resources for recovery, coping with difficult emotions, and recovery goals. Though the protagonist is doing the most vulnerable therapeutic work, I like to involve as many group members as possible in supporting roles. By helping each other heal in this way, we can begin to recover the sense of authentic human connection stolen by active addiction.

Carley Foster, LGPC, MSE
Primary Therapist at Foundations Recovery Center

Alcohol Awareness Month

Do you know the dangerous side effects of alcohol?

Did you know there are roughly 80,000 deaths that are related to alcohol abuse every year, making it the 3rd highest cause of death in the U.S.? Alcohol, a drug thousands of people consume regularly, is the third leading cause of death in the U.S.  Although alcohol is only legal to those over the age 21, roughly 5,000 people under the age of 21 die from an alcohol-related incident including car crashes, homicides, suicides, and alcohol poisoning annually.

Approximately 17% of men and 8% of women will be dependent on alcohol in their lifetime. Women who are dependent on alcohol are 50 to 100 percent more likely to die from alcohol-related causes than men who are dependent on alcohol. Signs that you may be dependent on alcohol can vary from tremors and seizures, to feeling extreme anxiety when you aren’t drinking. People who feel they need alcohol to “relax” or “have a good time” are more likely to misuse alcohol or become addicted to alcohol.

5.1 million people ages 12-20 reported binge drinking in the past month. Binge drinking is when you drink 4 or more alcoholic beverages in one episode. Binge drinking often leads to alcohol poisoning, which left untreated can cause severe dehydration, coma and death.

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Many people don't realize the dangerous effects of alcohol addiction and believe if its legal, it must not be dangerous. Alcohol kills roughly 80,000 people each year.

Alcohol use can lead to long-term health issues like cardiovascular disease, cancer of the throat, liver, or mouth, anxiety and depression, dementia and liver disease. In a study done in 2009, alcohol related kidney disease was the cause for 1 in 3 kidney transplants in the U.S. Some alcohol related diseases can be partially or fully cured when drinking is stopped, which is why treatment for alcohol dependency is vital. With medical detox and intensive therapy, recovery from alcohol dependence is possible!

Teens who start drinking before the age of 15 are more likely to develop alcohol dependence or substance use disorder later on in life. Youth who drink are 7.5 times more likely to use other illegal drugs and fifty times more likely to use cocaine than young people who never drink. One survey found that 32% of the heavy drinkers over 12 were also illegal drug users.

If you believe you or a loved one may have a problem with alcohol, call or message our 24/7 admissions specialists for more information about treatment and recovery.

Is Addiction a Disease or a Choice?

Is addiction a disease or a choice?

Everyone has an opinion: is addiction a disease or a choice? Many people will argue that addiction is a string of bad choices, some will shame you for comparing addiction to a “real disease” such as cancer, and a few will ask “why can’t they just stop?”

On the other side of the argument are those who believe that addiction is a disease of the mind, body and spirit that can be treated with 12 Step programs. The National Institute on Drug Abuse categorizes addiction as a complex, relapsing disease, and quitting usually takes more than just “good intentions” or a strong will. Drug abuse hijacks the brain in ways that make quitting hard, even for those who truly want to.

Drug and alcohol use may start out as a choice but becoming addicted is not. Once you are addicted physically and mentally to drugs or alcohol, that is when we begin to see the patterns and behaviors that society has deemed as “morally unjust.”

You may choose to try smoking pot or drinking a beer with friends, you may even up the ante and experiment with cocaine or pills. For some, doing it once or twice and never thinking about it again is simple, but others will become addicted to the high and chase it for years. While the initial decision to experiment was a choice, the disease, that effects some and not others, was not a choice.

So, that leaves us with the question that nobody really knows the answer to, what makes these people different?

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Is addiction a disease, or is a bad choice we make?

Why Are Some People Addicted, While Others Aren't?

Some people who become addicts were born this way, with the “addiction gene” hiding in their genetic makeup. For these people, they may have realized they had qualities of an addicted person long before the drug or alcohol abuse began. They may also have parents or grandparents that were addicts, that just passed the gene down to them.

For others it is nature and nurture that ultimately pointed them into the depths of addiction. It could be trauma or low self-esteem, a problem with their mind and how they view themselves.

The truth is, nobody really knows why some of us are alcoholics or addicts, and some of us can drink or use without consequence.

I like to think that we don’t just become addicts, that we, whether genetically or due to our upbringing, are using the coping skills we can to deal with life. I like to believe that if drugs and alcohol never came into the picture, then there would probably be some other (negative) coping skill that you used- such as food, gambling, shopping or even romantic relationships.

Drugs are a symptom of the disease, that is something you will likely learn if you ever attend an NA or AA meeting- but then what is the disease if it is not just us being drug addicts or alcoholics? Is the disease us?

In some ways, yes, we/us/you/me are the disease, or at least a really big part of the disease. Alongside the “us” is everything else about us like where we are from, how many siblings we have, what parenting styles we grew up with, and what belief’s we have about ourselves.

These things all play into our disease, which cause us to seek out coping skills to make us feel better, because that is all most addicts and alcoholics want- to feel better. Maybe you tried something like running or drawing, and that just did not fill the void. Maybe for a while you were binge shopping and that helped ease your pain. Maybe you drank your first beer and knew “this is it,” but maybe you didn’t. Maybe it wasn’t until many years later when your friend offered you a Xanax that you decided that this would be a pretty good coping skill, and it felt really good to use.

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Our multidisciplinary approach focuses on each person as a whole

Getting Help With Addiction

Addiction is different for everyone who struggles with it, it is a chronic relapsing disorder that needs to be taken care of daily in order to stay well. It isn’t a moral failing, and it is definitely not something people choose to live with. I doubt that anyone wakes up and says, “I want to become a heroin addict, that sounds like a lot of fun.” However, this is thousands of people’s reality, they are addicted, and they cannot stop without the proper treatment, which is the tricky part.

Since everyone has different experiences and genetics that could play into their addiction, there is no one way to treat all of these people. At Foundations Recovery Center, we do not apply cookie cutter treatment techniques, each patient gets their own treatment plan based on their strengths and needs.

We use a multidisciplinary approach that focuses on each person as a whole. We look to treat the mind, body, and spirit, along with family issues, social relationships, educational issues, and mental health issues.

Many of us know some healthy coping skills, we may have even tried to use these “healthy” coping skills to no avail. You wouldn’t hammer a screw with a nail, and sometimes that is what we are doing when we try to use new coping skills.  Our clinical staff will teach you how to properly use the coping skills and tools and find what works best for you.

Inpatient Vs Outpatient Treatment: What to Choose

Inpatient Vs Outpatient

When deciding to get help with your addiction to drugs or alcohol, many people assume they need to go to inpatient or residential treatment directly after detox. Outpatient treatment, for some reason, continually gets labeled as “not enough,” even when in some cases, it mimics higher levels of care as far as therapeutic groups and peer support.

When deciding between inpatient and outpatient care, it is most important for you and your family to look at the quality of care you will be receiving. All treatment centers are different, and at Foundations Recovery Center, we will always make the best decision for our patients.

Inpatient care is the most acute level of care offered

While inpatient care is great and has a lot to offer, it is not always feasible when it comes to cost and insurance coverage. Many people get hung up on the idea that residential care is the best way to stay away from triggers and work on yourself. Triggers don’t go away when you enter residential care, and will likely still be there when you get back. Working on your triggers while in outpatient care can help you learn how to better handle them.

When searching for treatment for yourself or a loved one it is important to look at all possible options, and if you believe you need an extra layer accountability, structure, time away from drugs, alcohol and outside triggers, why not consider a partial hospitalization program with community housing?

Many people have a lot of questions about outpatient treatment- some of the most common ones are “what’s the difference between inpatient versus outpatient” and “where do I live during outpatient treatment if I can’t live at home?”

Our outpatient treatment offers community housing, where patients are given freedoms and taught life skills under the supervision of community housing aids.

Partial hospitalization is the highest level of outpatient care we offer. Partial hospitalization mimics a higher level of care while still giving patients the freedom to leave property while supervised.  In community housing patients can learn valuable life skills such as grocery shopping, learning to communicate with peers, and other daily responsibilities we have throughout life. At this level of care patients attend group therapy and individual therapy on a daily basis. Community housing may seem like a lot of responsibility for someone right out of detox, but with the help of our 24/7 community housing aids, patients will have the extra layer of accountability they may need.

Many patients and their families are concerned about outpatient treatment being less restrictive than inpatient treatment. One of the biggest things we hear is “What will my loved one being doing at night?”

Under the supervision of our 24/7 housing aids, patients are brought to meetings nightly, as well as other fun sober activities, such as nail salons for women or barber shops for men.

Patients have their own bedroom or apartment where they can cook themselves meals, watch TV, or work on therapeutic projects they may have been given by their treatment team. Patients are free to build relationships with sober support in the area and create friendships with those living with them in our outpatient care.

Weekends are a great time for patients to go on outings, visit their family, and create a network in the local recovery community. During the weekend’s patients have a lot of down time, which can help teach them about responsibility.

During the weekend we offer outings that are recovery focused and fun. We will also bring patients to local AA and NA meetings during the weekend, or allow them to choose one to go to themselves. In our outpatient care, patients are given freedoms that will help enhance their recovery.

Sober weekend activities include going to the movies, bowling, local community events and AA or NA meetings.

Alcoholism and Young Adults

Why Don’t Young People Reach Out For Help With Alcoholism?

“Alcohol isn’t really a drug…”

“Alcohol is legal!”

“It’s not as deadly as heroin- you know what your getting!”

 

Many young adults who meet the diagnosis for alcohol use disorder aren’t seeking treatment, because they don’t think they have a problem. In a recent study of 351 young adults who met the criteria for alcohol use disorder, 96% believed they didn’t need help and 29% thought the problem would go away on its own as they got older. So why don’t young people think alcoholism is a real problem?

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Adolescent drinking can lead to alcohol dependence in young adults.

Three common reasons why people are hesitant to seek treatment for alcohol use disorder

Its legal: So, you can buy alcohol at a store, you can use it public, how can it be that bad- the question then becomes, if you had to buy alcohol from the sketchy part of town, from a dealer, would that make it a “bad” drug, would you then stop, or would you continue to drink?

Many people don’t even consider alcohol to be a drug, and if they do, they justify it by saying its legal or “not that bad.” While alcohol is a legal drug, that doesn’t equate it to be a safe drug. Alcohol poisoning kills six people per day, which doesn’t include the number of people who die in fatal car crashes due to impaired driving or cirrhosis of the liver, which is caused by heavy drinking over long periods of time. Legal does not mean safe: Smoking cigarettes is also legal, however proven to be deadly and cancerous. Eating McDonalds everyday is legal, but we know it is bad for our health and can cause health problems. Not wearing a seatbelt is legal, but we know that increases our chances of being injured if we got in a crash. Just because alcohol is legal, doesn’t mean you should ask for help if your drinking has began affecting you negatively in any way.

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Over 600,000 youths, ages 12-17, have alcohol use disorder. Only 5.2% of these adolescents receive treatment.

It could be worse: Many people feel that if they aren’t heavily drinking every day, or they don’t get the “shakes” from drinking, then there drinking isn’t really a problem. Many alcoholics minimize there drinking to avoid feelings of guilt or shame, some even believe that their drinking isn’t that bad regardless of one or two negative consequences. The excuses may be “I don’t have any DUI’s” or “I don’t black out every night, it’s just a drink or two!” While these excuses may be accurate, maybe they are experiencing family problems or increased depression and anxiety- which are two symptoms of alcohol abuse and alcoholism.

Everyone Else is doing it: The statistics are shocking, and the excuse “everyone else is doing it” isn’t too far off. Over seventy percent of American’s ages 18 and older reported binge drinking in the past year. Does that make it okay? No. Does that make it seem like binge drinking is normal? Possibly.Many people who engage in dangerous drinking don’t see it as a problem simply because they are out drinking with friends who drink just as much if not more, or because it’s not an everyday occurrence. Binge drinking is actually just as dangerous as drinking every day, it can cause health problems, such as liver, digestive, and alcohol poisoning, as well as legal problems such as DUI’s. If “everyone is doing it” is your best excuse as to why you continue to binge drink, ask yourself- if everyone was doing a “harder” drug would you do it?

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88,000 people die from alcohol related causes per year.

88,000 people die from alcohol related causes per year. Alcohol is a hard drug. Just because it is legal, doesn’t mean it is any safer. If you or a loved one are struggling with alcohol abuse, and don’t know where to turn for help, let go and let’s chat. You don’t have to be like “everyone” else, you can decide to change your life, today.

What’s Really in Your Drugs?

Drug dealers have taken on a new role as a chef, creating concoctions of multiple deadly drugs.

Drug dealers have been marketing what they sell on the street as pills, heroin or cocaine, when in reality it is a mix of different drugs, they created to make more money while spending less. The drugs they have mixed together could be opiates, such as fentanyl, stimulants, such as cocaine and methamphetamine, benzodiazepines and barbiturates, however there is no way to know what you are actually getting.

These deadly concoctions are dealer’s security, by getting users hooked to their specific product means they will be forced to continue to come back, regardless of price or consequence, in order to stay well. Drug dealers are spending less money on synthetic opioids, such as fentanyl, which is one reason they may be using it to cut all of their drugs, including stimulants such as cocaine. In New York, a statement was released warning people who recreationally use drugs such as cocaine or MDMA, that they may be contaminated with fentanyl and cause overdose death. In Iowa, police and Drug Enforcement Agency spokesman warned about counterfeit pills that, they say, could have fooled a pharmacist. In Mississippi police pleaded with users to take precaution due to fentanyl being found in multiple drugs found on the street.

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Fake drugs don't come with a warning. When you buy drugs off the street, you have no idea what your really getting.

Counterfeit pills could contain only fentanyl in them, regardless of them being labeled as Xanax or Oxycodone, which would cause immediate overdose. Fentanyl is 100 times stronger than morphine, only one spec could cause an overdose. This problem has popped up than five states that have had to release statements, including a federal statement from the Drug Enforcement Agency, warning those addicted that any drug bought on the street could be counterfeit, contain fentanyl, and be deadly.

Besides adding fentanyl to drugs, dealers have been mixing heroin with Xanax and barbiturates. Adding other prescription drugs to heroin or cocaine, is not only dangerous, but can make withdrawals more difficult to overcome and even cause seizures when Xanax is involved.

The different additives will also cause the user to experience withdrawals from one or more of the other drugs. These additives may be heroin mixed with fentanyl and Xanax, muscle relaxers, tramadol, or cocaine mixed with fentanyl and Adderall. Fighting multiple withdrawal symptoms makes the detox process difficult for many, which keeps them in the grips of their addiction.

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Drug dealers have been mixing different drugs together to increase there profit, and it could cost you your life.

Every time you use, regardless of your drug of choice, if you are just trying it for the first time, or think you “know” your dealer, you are playing Russian roulette. These dealers are keeping you hooked to what they are selling, and your life is in danger every time you use, you have no idea what could be in that pill, or in that bag. If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, you don’t have to go through this alone. Our admissions specialists can help you get sober and into detox today. Let go and let’s chat.