Opioid Use in the United States

The use of opioids is widespread and common in many first-world countries and is only globally second to cancer medicines in the rate of usage. Hundreds of millions of pain prescriptions are written each year, for various reasons, and the market for opioids is around $24 billion, an astronomical amount. While you would think that this number would be distributed throughout the world, it’s unfortunately mostly concentrated in the United States. This number works out to around 80 percent of opioids being used in the United States.

Lack of limitations

One of the reasons that the United States leads with the amount of opioids prescribed and used is likely the past lack of limitations on the drug. Previously, people who used opioids for pain relief were easily able to get multiple prescriptions from different doctors or have prescriptions renewed before they should be in an effort to take more medications. Another difference between the United States and other countries in opioid prescription is medical culture.  American doctors were much more willing to prescribe the pills for people suffering from acute and chronic pain. In other countries, opioids are only prescribed in extreme trauma cases, like childbirth, severe burns, and end-of-life care. Studying in Europe it was rather rare to see patients ask or receive the various potent opioids inappropriately.  Conversely, when I started my training nearly ten years ago the culture was to liberally give out opioids at the slightest whimper.  Since U.S. doctors were more willing to prescribe opioids, less serious medical conditions were and sometimes are treated with opioids.  Only now is the pendulum swinging the other way and there have been new regulations limiting opioid prescribing.  

Amount of prescriptions

According to the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM), a number of opioids prescribed has quadrupled, with close to 300 million prescriptions written in 2012, “which is enough to provide every American adult with a bottle of opioid pills”. Not every American adult has a bottle of opioids, which is even more concerning because it means that others have lots of different opioids they’re constantly taking. While it may be still fairly easy to acquire a prescription from a doctor, many people also receive their opioids from family members or friends who have their own prescription.

High risk of addiction

Opioids whether legal or illegal can be extremely addicting, which is why it’s so concerning at the rate they’re being used in the United States.  In this document, ASAM breaks down a lot of the numbers associated with opioid use and addiction. People are willing to share pain medication, especially when they receive it for less serious medical conditions and then end up having pills or prescriptions left over that they can give to loved ones suffering from chronic pain, or to sell. Unfortunately, opioids are also a gateway to heroin usage. Many people initially start taking opioids and then work their way up to heroin, because they’ve become addicted to their prescription pills and need to get that high. It’s important to limit, or at least carefully monitor, the amount of opioids being consumed in the United States.

Six Ways for Better Sleep

We live in a busy world with untold numbers of stressors that fly at us from every angle. Work, technology, relationships, finances, responsibilities—it can all pile up on you and create major anxiety and stress, causing you to have low-quality sleep. And the last thing that you need on top of all of this is to feel tired, groggy, and cranky all day while you’re trying to manage your life.

Getting good sleep at night can be a remedy for many problems ranging from memory and cognition issues to behavioral issues like how you relate to your co-workers and important people in your life. To help you make the most of your night and get the best sleep possible, here are some tips for practicing good ‘sleep hygiene’:

  • Get a sleep study. According to the Cleveland Clinic, 9 percent of women and 24 percent of men suffer from a condition called Sleep Apnea. Sleep Apnea is a sometimes life-threatening condition that causes breathing to stop while sleeping, can mask itself as other conditions like depression, among others. What’s more shocking is that more than 80 percent of people go undiagnosed. This condition can lead to obesity, diabetes, and heart disease a host of other issues. The answer? Get a sleep study. If people have complained about your snoring or you feel exhausted during the day, it may be time for you to consult a sleep specialist and get a sleep study.
  •  Keep a ‘baby’ bedtime. When you were a baby, it’s likely that your parents put you to bed at the same time every night— and it was probably pretty early. Babies need good sleep to help their brains and bodies develop, but adults need this too. If you find yourself tired during the day, power down your life and crawl into bed by nine at night to get some good quality, ‘baby’ sleep.
  •  Manage your stress. Easier said than done, right? It’s true that stress management may seem daunting to some, but if you make it part of your daily routine, like brushing your teeth or eating breakfast, stress management can easily become part of your daily life. From meditating to playing calming music or folding laundry, finding coping mechanisms to make stress management a part of your nighttime ‘wind down’ routine can really help you catch some zzz’s.
  • Exercise helps. Science has proven that physical activity during the daytime can really help you sleep better at night, so making sure that you make time for exercise during the day is important. Even mild exercise like walking or yoga can help you sleep more soundly at night.
  •  Stop snacking and drinking before bed. If you tend to be a late night snacker or drinker, stop doing that now. Late night snacking can lead to weight gain, but it can also just make you uncomfortable. Drinking late at night can cause you to repeatedly get out of bed to make trips to the bathroom. It’s also important to cut out caffeine late in the day if you have trouble sleeping.
  •  Get rid of the blue light, and create a sleep sanctuary. Recent studies indicate that the blue light emitted from items like laptops and blu-ray players can interrupt sleep significantly. So, power down those electronics early and cover those lights so you can sleep better. Not only that but ‘unplugging’ before bed will help calm your mind and help you relax. Try keeping your bedroom cool (68 degrees or less), dark and quiet during sleep.  Simulate dusk by dimming your lights for a couple of hours before bed.

Immigration Medical Exams

Immigration medical examinations conducted inside the United States must be performed by a certified civil surgeon who has been designated by United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). In order to apply for a U.S. green card, you must undergo a medical examination. The purpose of the examination is to ensure that you are not inadmissible to the U.S. on public health grounds.immigration-flag-rv-420x199

However, you cannot simply undergo a medical examination with your regular doctor. Instead, a civil surgeon who has been specially designated by the relevant immigration authorities must perform the required medical examination. The civil surgeons who are qualified to perform green card medical examinations receive special, ongoing training about immigration issues.

How to find a civil surgeon or an authorized physician  

If you are applying for your green card from within the United States, otherwise known as “adjusting status,” you can use the list of qualified civil surgeons from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The easiest way is probably by checking the “USCIS Civil Surgeons Locator” page of the USCIS website.

If you’re adjusting status, you can alternately call the USCIS National Customer Service Center at 800-375-5283 or make an INFOPASS appointment to pick up the list at your local USCIS office.

What the doctor will examine?

During your examination, the doctor will speak with you, review your medical and vaccination history, and perform a physical examination, as well as necessary immunizations and blood work.

Current screenings include tuberculosis, syphilis, gonorrhea, other communicable diseases, drug abuse, addiction, physical or mental disorders and other medical conditions.

Required vaccinations are aged based and may include:

  • Hepatitis A and B
  • Influenza
  • Haemophilus Influenzae type B
  • Measles, mumps,rubella
  • Meningococcal
  • Pneumococcal
  • Polio
  • Tetanus-diphtheria-pertussis
  • Varicella

immigration-medical-exams

 

For more on immigration exams and follow-up questions, follow me on Quora.  

Three Early Signs of Opioid Addiction

What are OPIOIDS?
Opioids are drugs that react on the nervous system relieving pain anywhere in the body. Many Opioids are common drugs like Robitussin A-C, Tylenol with Codeine, Empirin with Codeine, Fiorinal with Codeine, Roxanol, Duramorph, and Demerol and others.

Their names sound pretty common, many are everyday medications, and significantly make a difference in the lives of millions of people when properly taken.

OPIOID Abuse
Opioid abuse delivers many effects on the body. It is no longer the relief of pain, or the feeling received with the ease of movement, and a euphoric feeling as the pain subsides. Internally, the effects on the body can go unnoticed because of the relief from suffering is welcomed and enjoyed.

Causes of OPIOID Abuse
Although there is no direct evidence of genetic factors causing addiction to opiates, studies have indicated individuals with a direct family member addicted to opioids are more inclined to become addicted themselves. This could also be a factor of lifestyle and the people a person chooses as close friends.

What Signifies Addiction
The risk of dependency is dependent on the drug was taken. All opioids are addictive, but some are more quickly addictive than others, and dosage of the opioid taken is detrimental to addiction and the person’s health. Also included in the effects of opioids is the height and weight of the consumer and the time frame in which the dosage was taken. Of course, the mixture of alcohol and opioids is forbidden and extremely dangerous. Mixing alcohol and opioids is life-threatening and harmful to bodily organs and their ability to properly function.

As drug use increases, the frequency of doses increases, and the time between doses is shortened as a person gravitates to addiction.

What Are Three Early Key Signs of Addiction?

  • Feeling that you must use the drug regularly, or taking the drug several times each day not only when needed.
  • Feeling more of the opioid drug is required to obtain the same euphoric feeling. Pleasure in feeling euphoria rather than the relief of pain.
  • Doing things you would normally not do just to get a supply of the opioid, keeping a supply on hand for special events.

Recognizing Drug Abuse in Family and Friends

  • School work, attendance, activities and performance drop for no apparent reason.
  • Motivation decreases and health problems begin to appear.
  • The sudden lack of personal hygiene and grooming.
  • Behavioral changes, manners, family connection, secretive, and isolates themselves from family activities.
  • Excessive spending of money or the need for unusual amounts of money.

Know The Risks: Opioid Prevention Is Possible

For the past two decades drug addiction in the United States has climbed steadily until now, in 2017, it is at a record high. It has become a problem of epidemic proportions, taking lives and wreaking havoc in the form of overdoses by the dozens every day. Opioid addiction crosses all cultural and financial boundaries, affecting the poorest neighborhoods and ghettos and the wealthiest of communities alike, as well as all points in between.

In this day and age of the information superhighway where knowledge and warnings of such dangers are shared worldwide in mere seconds, how is this possible? How is it that the caveats of those who have fallen victim to this deadly epidemic are not being heard and heeded?

The answer is because most people are unaware that there are certain risk factors that significantly increase a person’s chances of becoming addicted to opioids in particular. Many don’t realize that addiction begins with a seemingly safe and innocent prescription from their trusted family doctor. Even when used exactly as directed, prolonged use of any opioid will decrease it’s effect on pain as the body builds up an immunity, or “tolerance” to it. When the medication no longer works to kill the pain, it isn’t uncommon for the patient to begin taking more of the prescription than instructed. When the medicine no longer has any effect at all on their suffering, they will often turn to a stronger form of drug – whether it is legal or not – in order to find relief. This can also happen when a person loses their insurance or their medical coverage and/or is no longer able to afford the expensive prescription medication. The illicit street drugs are far less costly.

There are a number of other factors which can also have a heavy influence on a predisposition to addiction. They include:

1. FAMILY HISTORY- The number of members of the same family who often fall victim to addiction points to a genetic predisposition. The closer the blood relation, the higher the risk of addiction.

2. DEPRESSION/ANXIETY- For those who suffer from depression or anxiety disorders, opioids provide relief from the tormenting psychological effects that often accompany these conditions.

3. MEN ARE AT GREATER RISK THAN WOMEN- Studies have indicated that males are more inclined than females to become addicts, although sadly those numbers have begun to even out in recent years.

4. ABANDONMENT BY FAMILY- Lack of healthy, nurturing family relationships and bonds with parents, siblings, etc, can greatly increase the chances of developing an addiction as individuals seek comfort from their feelings of loneliness and rejection.

5. PEER PRESSURE- Though nearly archaic-sounding in modern times, the number one cause of drug experimentation which can so easily lead to addiction is the influence on young people by their peer group and friends.

By being aware of the main triggers and pitfalls which can lead down the spiraling path to dangerous, often deadly opioid abuse, there is hope. Addiction can be prevented, treated, overcome. The best way to deal with these issues is prevention. Education, open communication, compassion, professional intervention whenever necessary, all will work together to stop the cycle of addiction. Personal awareness and accountability, a willingness to ask for help when it is needed, honesty, and not allowing feelings of embarrassment, shame, or fear of being judged to overshadow the need for guidance and help – these are the keys to preventing, overcoming, and eliminating this scourge once and for all.

Dr. Gregory Burzynski Tips on How to Stay Mentally Healthy

 

Enjoying mental health means having a sense of well-being, being able to function during everyday life and feeling confident to rise to a challenge when the opportunity arises.

Just like your physical health, there are actions you can take to increase your mental health. Boost your wellbeing and stay mentally healthy by following a few of these simple steps outlined below.

Dr. Gregory Burzynski mental health

Connect with others

Develop and maintain strong relationships with people around you who will support and enrich your life. The quality of our personal relationships has a great effect on our wellbeing. Putting time and effort into building strong relationships can bring great rewards.

Take time to enjoy

Set aside time for activities, hobbies and projects you enjoy. Let yourself be spontaneous and creative when the urge takes you.

Participate and share interests

Join a club or group of people who share your interests. Being part of a group of people with a common interest provides a sense of belonging and is good for your mental health.

Contribute to your community

Volunteer your time for a cause or issue that you care about. Help out a neighbor, work in a community garden or do something nice for a friend. There are many great ways to contribute that can help you feel good about yourself and your place in the world. An effort to improve the lives of others is sure to improve your life too.

Take care of yourself

Being active and eating well helps maintain a healthy body. Physical and mental health are closely linked; it’s easier to feel good about life if your body feels good. Having a physical and mental balance radiates health.

Exercise can help raise serotonin levels. It helps you feel physically better and more in touch with your body. Combine physical activity with a balanced diet to nourish your body and mind and keep you feeling good, inside and out. Try yoga, a local fitness class, or spinning. Start slowly as going from zero to 100 can be counter-productive.

Meditation is another important factor in mental health. Daily practice can train the mind to relax and relieve stress.

 

The Easy Choice: Holistic Care Lowers Costs and Pain

Quality medical care is increasingly difficult to find and expensive to obtain. Because of this problem, many people have started to seek out other methods and sources of medical information in order to care for themselves and those they love. Holistic medicine has modern implications, but, though its popularity is on the rise, it’s hardly a new trend. Even as far back as the 1970s and prior, holistic health has been challenging the status quo of the medical field.

Lower Costs

One motivating factor that drives people to seek out alternative or holistic care is the fact that it’s much cheaper than traditional medical services. Holistic health is a business, to be sure, but it’s not regulated by government, legislated to the hilt, and subject to the same standards as many medical procedures are. Furthermore, the profit margin on, say, a prescription for an antibiotic is much higher than the profit margin on a natural antibiotic. With a single ER visit, patients could tally up a bill in the tens of thousands of dollars. It’s no wonder, then, that spending a hundred dollars or so on a holistic practitioner and a few more dollars on a natural remedy is so appealing.

Lower Pain

Holistic care is often mocked by the mainstream medical community. However, many wonder if the reason for that mockery isn’t fear. After all, if holistic medicine works, it poses a great challenge and threat to special interest groups and Big Pharma. Whole body healing is a major focus of holistic ideology, and it’s something the medical community doesn’t always excel at. Holistic medicine is wonderful at reducing pain, inflammation, and stress, and its focus on healing the actual cause of the problem instead of putting a prescription bandage over the symptom makes it effective.

It’s easy to see why so many people are turning to holistic health remedies. Not only is the current economic climate motivating patients to seek out less expensive treatments, the effectiveness of holistic treatments is more widely accepted. Society is becoming more and more tolerant of alternative viewpoints, making holistic treatment options seem less scary and easier to embrace. While Big Pharma and the medical industry inflates prices and legislates their way to high profit margins and overpriced insurance, people are finding that the simple, effective, and inexpensive methods of holistic medicine are more than worth a second look.

Probiotics Emerge as an Effective Cure Against ADHD

Both Western and Eastern medical practices have been teaching that your gut (Gastrointestinal Tract or GI) is essentially your second brain. “The Second Brain” published by Michael D. Gershone in October of 1998 provides substantial evidence that gut care is imperative in keeping humans healthy. Probiotics are a nutritional supplement that help keep the gut’s bacteria in balance, which in turn helps the human body to function properly.

Bad Bacteria in the GI Tract

According to DrMurray.com children with ADHD tend to have GI disturbances. In other words, the GI tract is not functioning as it should in a normal child. One of his studies finds that children who have lower levels of the good bacteria, Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria, have a higher level of bad bacteria that produces toxins. While on treatment with antibiotics, which eliminated the bad bacteria, ADHD behavior improved. This study indicates that probiotics, which also sufficiently decrease bad gut bacteria, may improve the behavior of children with ADHD.

Good Bacteria in The GI Tract

Livestrong.com also states the fact that individuals with ADHD often have higher amounts of bad bacteria in their gut as well as very little good bacteria. Higher amounts of bad bacteria allow the leakage of toxins that contribute to conditions like ADHD. Higher amounts of good bacteria, provided by probiotics, can lead to a decrease in ADHD symptoms.

Food Allergies and ADHD

According to Livestrong.com, many researchers believe that food allergies impact ADHD. While research has demonstrated that the behavior problems associated with ADHD can be reduced on a restricted diet, doctors recommend against doing this. Regular use of probiotics, however, have been shown effective in combating food allergies. One can easily make the conclusion that combating food allergies with probiotics will also lead to improved behavior for individuals with ADHD. As the probiotics remove the effects of the food allergies, the effects of food allergies on ADHD will be mitigated.

One Thing For Certain

Nutrition plays a powerful role in preventing diseases and treating all types of conditions. Keeping the gut’s bacteria in healthy balance will go a long way to ensure better health and reduced symptoms of ADHD. Probiotics are relatively side effect free, nutritional supplements that are affordable and readily available. They can be combined with nearly every treatment plan. As you see the benefits of taking probiotics, you can begin to reduce ADHD medication with your Physician’s Guidance.

Understanding Holistic Care in Relation to Chronic Illness

In my recent blog post “Understanding Approaches for Pain Management and Patient Care”  I speak on the lasting effects of holistic health care and the benefits that it has in terms of managing pain and taking care of the “whole” patient.

Before I get started, it is important to mention that the holistic approach to health does not reject conventional medicine, but is a sensible, complete form of healing that considers your child’s entire picture of health and uses the best and most appropriate options for healing. It is a process of strengthening every system of the mind-body and allowing your child’s natural healing potential to flourish.

Many of the chronic health problems that affect children will respond best when addressed from a holistic point of view.

Conventional v.s Alternative Medicine

Aside from conventional medicine, alternative medicine covers a broad range of healing philosophies, approaches, and therapies that can be used alone, in combination with other alternative therapies, or along with conventional medicine. Most homeopaths, naturopaths, and doctors  of oriental medicine are holistic practitioners, considering all aspects of their patients and assisting them in achieving a vibrant state of health.

But not all alternative practitioners can be considered holistic, nor is a conventional medical doctor necessarily not holistic. Alternative practitioners who believe that all disease is caused by vitamin deficiencies or spinal misalignments are no more holistic than a medical doctor who believes that all illness is caused by germs.

When it comes to medicine, it is beneficial to not have an either/or attitude. Both conventional and alternative have an important place in health care and can make a powerful team in certain situations.

Integrative Medicine

Integrative medicine (another word for holistic medicine) is an emerging system of health care practiced by medical doctors who respect all valid systems of healing, recognizing the value of each one.

Alternative and conventional treatments are combined in order to meet the needs of the patient on all levels of healing. The treatments that are the most effective in helping the patient are the ones used. It is not a matter of what type of medicine is better. It is a matter of what works for each patient.

 

 

For more on holistic care and ways to find doctors in your area visit drgregoryburzynski.net

Factors That Matter for Behavioral Addictions

Behavioral addiction is categorized by an individual engaging in a non-drug related behavior repeatedly.  Common behavioral addictions include gambling and shopping addiction, hoarding and impulsive stealing.  Such addictions can damage an individuals employment, personal relationships and mental health issues.  Although not all behavioral addictions are in conjunction with a mental health issue, many individuals do suffer from a mental disorder that can lead to a behavior addiction.  When an person needs to be treated for a psychological disorder and an addiction it is known as a dual diagnosis.  Common psychological disorders that “co-occur” with a behavioral addiction can include impulse control problems, anxiety disorders, depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, post-traumatic stress disorder and personality disorders such as borderline personality disorder.

Dual Diagnosis

While mental disorders can contribute to behavioral addictions, individuals with certain personality traits have been found to exhibit behavioral addictions.  Studies have shown that individuals who score high on impulsivity and risk seeking behaviors on personality assessments are more likely to have a behavioral addiction.  On a behavioral assessment, people who scored low on harm-avoidance are also more likely to exhibit a behavioral addiction.  Such studies have shown as well that people with specific sets of personality traits are likely to have a behavioral addiction.  Personality traits of high harm-avoidance, personal conflict, psychoticism, and lack of self-direction showed to be correlated within individuals who suffer from an internet addiction.  Individuals who scored high on impulsivity were more likely to have trichotillomania, an addiction of skin-picking or hair-pulling.

Substance Abuse

When an individual has a behavioral addiction he or she is addicted not to a substance but is addicted to the feeling he or she gets from the behavior.  For instance, someone who has a behavioral addiction to gambling has the reward feeling of excitement from winning.  That excitement generated by the behavioral action of gambling seeks the same thrill of winning over and over which eventually leads to an impulsivity to gamble to the point that it can have a negative impact on his or her daily life.  Although many behavioral addictions are not influenced by drug abuse, studies have found that such factors as drug and alcohol abuse have a significant impact on the behavioral addiction.  Studies found that individuals who were addicted to gambling were about 3.8 times more likely to display alcohol abuse.  While substance abuse has not been found to influence a behavioral addiction like gambling, hoarding, or trichotillomania, it does increase the risk of developing a behavioral addiction.

Genetics

Genetics can be a factor that matters to mental health patients as well.  Some individuals can be predisposed to a behavioral addiction by having a relative such as a parent or sibling that has a behavioral addiction.  Studies have shown that those that have a relative with a behavioral addiction and/or substance addiction are more at risk for developing a behavioral addiction.  Genetics has been shown to be responsible for an individual developing a behavioral addiction by up to 20%.  Similar research studies about addictions have found that genetics can put a person at risk of developing a behavioral addiction by 64%.

Sources
Projectknow. “Behavioral Addictions.”  Projectknow.

Recovery. “Choosing a Top Inpatient Behavioral Disorder Recovery Center.”

Alavi, Seyyed S., Ferdosi, Masound, and Setare, Mehrdad.  “Behavioral Addiction versus Substance Addiction: Correspondence of Psychiatric and Psychological Views.” International Journal of Preventive Medicine.