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At Addiction Treatment Services International (ATSI), each client is treated with compassion and respect. Here, you or your loved one will learn to overcome the disease of addiction, understand why addiction has taken control and, in turn, change life for the better. Why? Because we make long-term recovery possible by advancing standards and practices in the field of substance use disorder treatment.

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New Drug Causing Trouble in Florida

Written by Bethany Winkel on . Posted in New Drugs

AMBULANCE 4A new drug has made its way to Florida and parts of the Midwest, and it has officials concerned. The drug, called flakka, is a potent stimulant that is made in laboratories and sold online. Flakka, also known as gravel, has been causing trouble in Florida, Tennessee, Kentucky, and Ohio for the past few years. It causes the user to suffer psychotic episodes, become delusional and aggressive, and experience hallucinations. It also raises body temperature to dangerous levels, and can cause cardiac arrest. According to Florida state officials, the crime lab at the Broward Sheriff’s Office went from analyzing one flakka case in January 2014 to 80 in September and an average of 100 a month this year.

Drugs like flakka are often more dangerous or cause more problems than better known drugs simply because they fly under the radar. There are no prevention programs in place for drugs like flakka or new synthetic drugs, and many of these drugs are even legal for the first few years until the government has time to ban them. Even though people should know better, many continue to get sucked in by drugs that are new, exciting, and that aren’t warned about in prevention campaigns. This doesn’t make the drugs less potent or dangerous, however.

“Flakka is whole different animal,” said one treatment provider. “What we’re seeing when these individuals come in (for treatment), cognitively something has changed in them. Paranoia, anxiety and aggression comes out of nowhere. They are fine, having a great day, and then they have a wave come over them.”

If you are a parent, the best thing you can do is talk to your child about the dangers of using any kind of substance. Give your teen reasons to avoid drug use by showing them addiction statistics. Keep yourself up-to-date on the latest drug trends as well, so you know what things are going on around your child and can watch for the warning signs. Flakka and drugs like it are not just being abused by teens or young adults either. Many adults are finding themselves in bad situations because of flakka. We all need to be aware of new drugs and the dangers of using any type of substance.

Click here to find out more about flakka and the dangers of this drug.

A Memory-Erasing Medication to Fight Addiction?

Written by Bethany Winkel on . Posted in Addiction Treatment

BrainResearchers are working on a new drug that they believe will help erase an addict’s memory in order to help them recover from drug addiction. The drug, which is being researched by Scripps Research Institute in Florida, is supposed to target certain parts of the brain that store memories of things like a drug high, and wipe them clean. The drug will target psychostimulant-induced memories like those associated with meth addiction.

Sound dangerous? Sound too good to be true? It very well might be. More research will need to be done to determine the safety of a drug like this, and even if it turns out to be harmless, we have learned through trial and error that there is no quick fix to addiction recovery.

No drug is going to be able to cure a person completely of addiction, and those that try to do so are only setting themselves up for failure and relapse. Addiction recovery happens through hard work, through skilled therapy, and through the building of skills needed to face the difficulties of life without substances.

Read more about this new drug here, and let us know what you think.

Sober Bars Making a Difference in the Late Night Scene

Written by Bethany Winkel on . Posted in Alcohol

file000284309193A new kind of bar is slowly emerging, and it has many people fascinated by the idea. Dry bars, or sober bars, provide people with a place to gather and have fun without the temptation to drink and get drunk. The idea is taking hold among people in recovery and also among those that don’t really care for the drunken scene that is so common among most late-night establishments.

There are a number of sober bars in Europe, and now the idea is spreading to parts of the United States as well. These bars sell non-alcoholic drinks and “mocktails,” and they focus on fun and socialization rather than getting wasted.

“The biggest problem for people in recovery is, you go home and you stare at your ceiling from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. because the only things open are things that you struggle with. You’re segregated because of your addiction,” said Kyle Kuehn, owner of one sober bar. “What I was really hitting on was there is a need for community late-night, away from substances.”

“This is a place where you can come and know you’re safe, and not everyone there is in recovery,” says Kuehn. “What I want to teach the community and teach kids and teach young adults is society has told us that to have fun at night, we need that drink. It’s not true. We can still have fun, and we don’t have to go to bed early. We can still party without that stuff.”

Kuehn’s bar is in Lancaster, PA. To learn more about his establishment and others like it, click here.

What are the most Effective Ways to Handle the Heroin Addiction Epidemic?

Written by Bethany Winkel on . Posted in Illicit Drugs, Prescription Drugs


By now we’ve all heard that heroin abuse and addiction are still on the rise, leading to shockingly high numbers of overdoses. According to the CDC, between 2002 and 2013, the rate of heroin-related overdose deaths nearly quadrupled, and more than 8,200 people died in 2013.

The CDC has a lot of information on their website about what is being done and what can be done about this problem. Basically, it will take education, prevention, and treatment for those at risk for this type of addiction. More people need to understand the risks associated with any type of opiate use, and also learn how easily a person can switch from using prescription painkillers to heroin.

According to the CDC, here is what is being done, and what else can be done:

The Federal government is:

  • Providing educational training and resources to health care providers so they can make informed decisions and ensure the appropriate prescribing of opioid painkillers.
  • Increasing access to substance abuse treatment services through the Affordable Care Act.
  • Expanding use of Medication-Assisted Treatment.
  • Supporting the development and distribution of the life-saving drug naloxone to reduce prescription opioid painkiller and heroin overdose deaths.
  • Supporting the research of pain medications that are less prone to abuse.
  • Track trends and target prevention strategies.

States can:

  • Address the strongest risk factor for heroin addiction: addiction to prescription opioid painkillers.
  • Increase access to substance abuse treatment services, including Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT), for opioid addiction.
  • Expand access to and training for administering naloxone to reduce opioid overdose deaths.
  • Ensure that people have access to integrated prevention services, including access to sterile injection equipment from a reliable source, as allowed by local policy.
  • Help local jurisdictions to put these effective practices to work in communities where drug addiction is common.

Health care providers can:

  • Follow best practices for responsible painkiller prescribing to reduce opioid painkiller addiction, the strongest risk factor for heroin addiction:
    • Use prescription drug monitoring programs and ask patients about past or current drug and alcohol use prior to considering opioid treatment.
    • Prescribe the lowest effective dose and only the quantity needed for each patient.
    • Link patients with substance use disorders to effective substance abuse treatment services.
  • Support the use of Food and Drug Administration approved MAT options (methadone, buprenorphine, and naltrexone) in patients addicted to prescription opioid painkillers or heroin.

Everyone should:

Learn more about the risks of using heroin and other drugs.

How Eminem Beat Addiction

Written by Bethany Winkel on . Posted in Prescription Drugs

eminem-467Eminem has a long and difficult history with prescription drug abuse, and not until he started a strict exercise regimen did he finally beat addiction. He now says he is clean and sober, and is ready to get on with the rest of his life.

The rap artist said at one time he was taking 60 pills a day, and that his addiction wiped out several years of his life. His addiction was putting a huge strain on his body, and when he began mixing the pills, he ended up in the hospital. “The doctors told me I’d done the equivalent of four bags of heroin … Had I got to the hospital about two hours later, I would have died,” Eminem said. “My organs were shutting down. My liver, kidneys, everything. They didn’t think I was gonna make it. My bottom was gonna be death.”

Although he went through rehab and relapsed several times, Eminem says what finally worked for him was sticking to an exercise routine. “It gave me a natural endorphin high, but it also helped me sleep, so it was perfect,” he said. “It’s easy to understand how people replace addiction with exercise.”

Many treatment providers agree that exercise is a vital component to recovery, because of the natural release of endorphines and the health benefits exercise has to the entire body. Exercise also helps stimulate blood flow to the brain, improving a person’s ability to concentrate and think more rationally.

Read more about Eminem’s journey here.


Marijuana and Professional Sports

Written by Bethany Winkel on . Posted in Illicit Drugs

file0001998098992 (1)The marijuana controversy rages on as people continue to argue about whether or not the drug is dangerous, whether it can be medically beneficial, and whether it should be legalized. In a story in the San Diego Union-Tribune, a number of athletes talk about how they believe marijuana can help them in their profession.

A different sort of drug than the performance-enhancing drugs that are so common in professional sports, many believe marijuana can have its benefits in the world of sports. “It’s natural for football players to lean toward marijuana to deal with the violence and trauma of the game,” said former Denver Broncos tight end Nate Jackson. “Teams will prescribe you bottles and injections that are really bad for you. Cannabis was what my teammates and I preferred.”

Marijuana is illegal in all major sports leagues, as well as college sports, and many people feel it should stay that way. Marijuana can exacerbate mental health problems, cause suicidal thoughts, result in cardiovascular problems when it is smoked, negatively impact brain development, and cause dependence. What is more, many young people look up to professional athletes, and seeing them openly use marijuana would send confusing messages in our already drug-saturated society.

As the debate continues there will be athletes that use marijuana regardless of its status in professional sports. These individuals put their health and their profession in jeopardy, but many are willing to do so. Read more about these athletes here.

Company under Fire for Drug Messages on Clothing

Written by Bethany Winkel on . Posted in Prescription Drugs

i0lIncoDA clothing company based in California has people upset over its choice of prints on shirts and pants. The company’s clothing features logos of pharmaceutical drugs that are commonly abused, as well as ingredient lists for making things like “Lean,” a drink that is made with cough syrup with codeine.

Those who are opposed to the clothing are amazed that the company could make light of such a sad situation. “We are losing almost an entire generation of young people to substance abuse. How sickening that there are no restrictions on clothing manufacturers that glamorize illicit drug use,” said Gail O’Brien, founder of The Parents Coalition for Substance Abuse Awareness of New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

A representative of the clothing company replied with the following statement: “We are not drug dealers. We sell clothes with drugs on there. I can’t help that people’s kids do drugs. Go get at the drug dealers, not the people that teach kids how to sell clothes with drugs on it instead of the real stuff.”

What do you think? Should there be more regulation over things like what is printed on clothing? Should these companies have enough respect for those going through addiction to not produce these items? Or, are some people making too big of a deal of it? Read the full story here, and then let us know what you think.

The Benefits of Holding Drug Take Back Days

Written by Bethany Winkel on . Posted in Prescription Drugs

file5601340932126Communities across the country are hosting drug take back days in the hopes of decreasing prescription drug abuse. These events are being held at police stations, hospitals, and community centers, places where people can easily go to drop off their prescription medications and know they are being disposed of properly.

One of the ways prescription painkiller addicts obtain their drugs is from family members, friends, and neighbors who use the medications under the care of a doctor. Many people have found it is easy to sneak into someone’s medicine cabinet and help themselves to a host of prescription opiates. Those who use painkillers for legitimate reasons and have pills left over often don’t know how to safely dispose of the pills. If they don’t do anything and leave the pills stashed away at home, the pills could end up in the wrong hands.

The DEA has announced that it will once again sponsor a national drug take back day. This event not only helps get rid of unwanted prescription painkillers, but it helps create awareness for the issue of opiate addiction, which has skyrocketed in recent years. This year’s event is scheduled for September 26, and will take place in secure locations across the country.

Senator Shelley Moore led the coalition that persuaded the DEA to continue holding this annual event. “They do it very well, they know what they’re doing. They know how to dispose of the prescriptions. It’s something we can all rally around as a nation, as a national day. And so I’m glad that they’ve brought this back,” Capito said.

You can learn more about the national drug take back day here.

New Drug Trends, 2015

Written by Bethany Winkel on . Posted in Health and Lifestyle, Illicit Drugs, New Drugs


file0001337084503We live in a society today that relies heavily on substances like drugs and alcohol to meet a variety of needs. Some people use substances to numb pain or help deal with stress or emotional issues. Others get caught up with substance use because it is something their friends are doing and they are pressured to try it. The National Institute on Drug Abuse regularly publishes reports about the emerging trends related to substance use in America. Below are some of the trends this organization found recently.

Surge in Fentanyl Overdose Deaths. Overdoses of the opioid Fentanyl have skyrocketed across the nation since 2013, often as a result of using heroin that has been laced with the much stronger substance.

Increasing Overdoses from Synthetic Cannabinoids (“Spice,” “K2,” etc.) in Several States. According to NIDA, more than 160 patients were hospitalized following synthetic cannabinoid use in under two weeks in mid April, 2015.

New Synthetic Drug, “Flakka” (alpha-PVP) used in Florida. This synthetic drug is very dangerous and causes hallucinations, violent aggression, suicide, and heart attacks.

Caffeine Powder. Last July, NIDA warned the public of a trend in caffeine powder use. The pure form of caffeine powder can cause erratic heartbeat, seizures, vomiting, disorientation, and even death.

It is important that parents, teachers, and even young adults learn about the trends young people might be faced with today. By educating yourself and your kids, you can be more prepared to avoid these dangerous drugs. You can view the NIDA page yourself here to keep up to date on the latest drug trends.

Recent Violence Linked to Mental Illness

Written by Bethany Winkel on . Posted in Co-Occurring Disorders and Mental Health

DSC06922 (1)According to officials, mental illness could be to blame for the recent shootings in America. Both John Russell Houser, shooter in the Louisiana movie theater attack, and Chattanooga gunman, Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez, struggled with mental health and depression in the past. Authorities say that the mental health issues of these men could have led them to carry out these atrocious acts of violence.

Mental illness is an issue that affects many Americans. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), 42.5 million American adults (or 18.2 percent of the total adult population in the United States) suffer from some mental illness, enduring conditions such as depression, bipolar disorder or schizophrenia. Of those, 9.3 million adults, or about 4 percent of those Americans ages 18 and up, experience “serious mental illness” which is categorized as impeding their normal daily activities.

Mental illness itself is debilitating, but it can also contribute to drug and alcohol abuse and addiction. In order to heal mental health issues and keep a person from turning to addiction to numb their pain, we need to screen more people for mental illness and provide help when necessary.

Read more about the history of the Louisiana and Chattanooga gunmen, and then weigh in with us how you feel our country can prevent episodes like this from occurring.

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