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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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State Announces Art Contest to Help with Heroin Crisis

Written by Bethany Winkel on . Posted in Illicit Drugs

drugfreeIn today’s world, we need to use every tactic possible to help curb opiate abuse and addiction. Many different ideas have been presented and implemented, including better monitoring of prescription drugs, better law enforcement, prevention campaigns, and more awareness about the benefits of rehab.

A statewide contest encourages citizens to help create awareness about heroin abuse in New Jersey through their art. The goal of contest organizers is to help prevent more heroin overdose deaths, a problem that has been steadily rising in the past several years. Carl J. Kotowski, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s New Jersey Division said, “This contest is a great way for New Jersey residents to use their creative talents to spread the word about heroin addiction. Our aim is to raise awareness about this problem and to reduce heroin addiction and overdoses.”

The contest is being held by the Partnership for a Drug Free New Jersey and the Governor’s Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse, and sponsored by the DEA-New Jersey Division and New York/New Jersey High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area. It is open to all residents of New Jersey, and the winner will receive a grand prize of $500. Contestants are encouraged to submit original artwork on the theme of heroin abuse, addiction, and recovery. If you are interested in entering the contest, visit drugfreenj.org for more information. The deadline for submissions is July 28, 2015.

What New Jersey’s Newest Law Means for Opiate Addicts

Written by Bethany Winkel on . Posted in Government/Law, Prescription Drugs

file1321340932141Governor Christie signed a bill this week that targets the prescription opiate problem in New Jersey. The bill strengthens the state’s prescription drug monitoring program in the hopes that it will make it more difficult for people to abuse opiates. However, the bill says little about the other half of the opiate crisis: heroin addiction.

New Jersey has been struggling with prescription painkiller and heroin abuse for the past few years, and the statistics get more disappointing year after year. The new bill will help the state regulate prescription painkillers better and will hopefully help identify those that need addiction treatment.

According to Governor Christie, “We have taken great strides in the fight against opiate abuse through a comprehensive strategy that encourages healthcare professionals, treatment providers, law enforcement, and members of the public to each embrace their role in addressing this healthcare crisis. By signing S-1998, we’re not only making the New Jersey Prescription Monitoring Program even stronger, we’re demonstrating  that by working together, we can all be part of the solution – a solution that fights the stigma of addiction, saves lives and helps rebuild families.”

What this means for those that abuse prescription opiates is that it will be more difficult to get their drug of choice. What is unclear is what this will do to the heroin addiction epidemic.

Read more about the bill here, and then tell us what you think should be done about the opiate abuse problem in the state.

How Do You Know if You Have a Problem with Alcohol?

Written by Bethany Winkel on . Posted in Addiction Treatment

IMG_20130705_164014_582 (1)Many people use and abuse alcohol, but do not believe they have a real problem with it. Alcoholism is a disease that starts out as alcohol abuse, and before long, the person is addicted and can’t stop drinking.

If you consume alcohol regularly, or find yourself thinking about alcohol and craving it when you’re not drinking, you could be at risk for alcoholism. The more you drink, the more likely you are to become dependent on alcohol.

The National Council on Alcohol and Drug Dependence (NCADD) has developed a self-test that can help you determine if you have a problem with alcohol dependence. The following are just a few of the signs of alcoholism, as described by NCAAD:

  1. Tolerance: Tolerance means that, over time, you need more alcohol to feel the same effect. Do you drink more than you used to? Do you drink more than other people without showing obvious signs of intoxication?
  2. Withdrawal: As the effect of the alcohol wears off you may experience withdrawal symptoms: anxiety or jumpiness; shakiness or trembling; sweating, nausea and vomiting, insomnia, depression, irritability, fatigue or loss of appetite and headaches. Do you drink to steady the nerves, stop the shakes in the morning? Drinking to relieve or avoid withdrawal symptoms is a sign of alcoholism and addiction. In severe cases, withdrawal from alcohol can be life-threatening and involve hallucinations, confusion, seizures, fever, and agitation. These symptoms can be dangerous and should be managed by a physician specifically trained and experienced in dealing with alcoholism and addiction.
  3. Loss of Control: Drinking more than you wanted to, for longer than you intended, or despite telling yourself that you wouldn’t do it this time.

Visit NCAAD’s website to read about more signs of alcoholism, and to take the self-test.

Researchers Link Eye Color to Alcoholism Risk

Written by Bethany Winkel on . Posted in Alcohol

DSC_0015A new study shows an interesting link between eye color and the risk for alcoholism. According to researchers at the University of Vermont, the rate of alcohol dependence was 54 percent higher among people with light-colored eyes, blue, green, and gray, than those with dark-brown eyes.

According to researcher Arvis Sulvari, “This suggests an intriguing possibility — that eye color can be useful in the clinic for alcohol dependence.”

What do you think? Will these results be enough to help screen people who might be at-risk for alcoholism? The full study results can be found in the July edition of the American Journal of Medical Genetics Part B.

New Jersey Eclipses National Statistics for Heroin Overdoses

Written by Bethany Winkel on . Posted in Illicit Drugs

DSC06922 (1)New Jersey has achieved some unwelcome statistics. In a report released earlier this month by the CDC, the national numbers of heroin overdoses have skyrocketed in recent years, quadrupling from 2002 to 2013. The report also shows that the heroin situation in New Jersey is even worse – overdoses in New Jersey are more than triple that national rate.

Triple the national rate means that in New Jersey, more people die from heroin overdoses than homicides, suicides, AIDS, or even car accidents. The numbers are astounding: 741 heroin-related deaths in 2013 in New Jersey, which is 8.3 deaths per 100,000 people in the state. National figures put heroin overdose deaths at 2.6 per 100,000 people.

Read about what New Jersey officials have to say about the epidemic here.

What the New Drug Czar Has to Say, Part 2

Written by Bethany Winkel on . Posted in Addiction Treatment, Government/Law

MichaelBotticelliMichael Botticelli, Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), has his own views about legalizing marijuana and how drug crimes should be handled. Many people are looking to the drug czar to provide direction in cases related to drug and alcohol abuse and addiction.

The ONDCP has been against the legalization of marijuana all along, and Botticelli says it is partly because of the health problems marijuana can cause, and how legalizing it will affect younger people. “We’ve been opposed to legalization efforts, not from an ideological perspective, but from a public-health perspective,” Botticelli told the Dallas Morning News. “A couple of things: The evidence is abundantly clear that there are significant adverse health consequences to marijuana, and particularly for youths. We know that kids who use substances, particularly alcohol, tobacco, marijuana, from a very young age are [harming their] developing brains. It puts them at significant risk for developing addiction. It’s been linked to poor academic achievement. It seems to exacerbate, particularly, issues around mental health issues. A study showed that fairly chronic use leads to lower IQ issues.”

As far as punishments for drug crimes, however, Botticelli believes that we must focus on treatment and rehab rather than time behind bars, and his office will work to make treatment more available to those that need it. “Locking people up for minor drug offenses, and especially people with substance-use disorders, is not the answer,” Mr. Botticelli told the New York Times. “It’s cruel. It’s costly. And it doesn’t make the public any safer.”

Do you agree with the drug czar? Read the full interview with Botticelli here and then tell us what you think.

What the New Drug Czar Has to Say, Part 1

Written by Bethany Winkel on . Posted in Addiction Treatment, Government/Law

MichaelBotticelliDrug Czar Michael Botticelli has been in office for less than a year, but his drug policies are already starting to show through. He recently talked with the Dallas Morning News editorial board about his views regarding drug crimes and the stigma attached to addiction.

Botticelli, himself a recovered alcoholic, believes firmly that in order to help more people get treatment for addiction, we need to change how our society talks about, views, and treats addicts. Many people who are addicted to drugs or alcohol, or who have a loved one struggling with addiction, try to do all they can to keep the addiction a secret. They will make excuses and pull away from others because they don’t want them to find out. This often leads to the person slipping further into their addiction and shutting everyone else out.

If more people would feel comfortable talking about the disease of addiction, however, they would be more likely to seek help. Botticelli explains how even the words people use can be embarrassing to addicts. “There are a whole host of terms we use in addiction that we don’t use for [people with disorders] … you know — junkies, addicts. We even call the results of urine tests dirty and unclean. We don’t do that for any other disease.”

According to Botticelli, the way society views addiction is one of the biggest barriers to treatment. Only about 10% of those that need help actually get the treatment they need. “One of the biggest reasons why people don’t seek care is shame and stigma,” he said. “They really feel embarrassed, even more so than mental health.” Botticelli will be working during his term as drug czar to create awareness about the disease of addiction, and will promote educational and prevention campaigns.

Read the full interview with Botticelli here, and then tell us what you think: how can we do away with the stigma associated with addiction?

New Jersey Man Gives Up Everything to Make Illegal Drugs at Home

Written by Bethany Winkel on . Posted in Illicit Drugs

file0001354457655A New Jersey man was recently arrested for making and selling illicit drugs from his home. The man, a 44-year-old senior scientist at a pharmaceutical company, was successful at his job by day. At night, however, he manufactured illegal drugs in his clandestine home lab. Neighbors say the story is just like the TV show, “Breaking Bad,” in which this kind of illegal business ruins a person for life.

The drug the man made was GHB, a sedative known as a date rape drug. It is commonly made in home labs by those that have some knowledge of chemistry and are willing to risk everything to take part in this shady business.

The New Jersey man was caught and now faces up to 20 years in prison. This is just another example of a brilliant person who had so much going for him giving it all up for drugs and a little extra money. Read more about the story here.

Fun Without Alcohol

Written by Bethany Winkel on . Posted in Alcohol, Holidays

_DSC4091Many people believe that it is impossible to have fun without alcohol. These are the people that like to get so wasted that they forget what they did that night, get sick, and sometimes even find themselves in trouble or in dangerous situations. The problem with using alcohol as a means to have fun is that it takes away a person’s ability to think on their own, to be social, and to enjoy the company with others doing safe, responsible things.

There is more to life than alcohol, and life can definitely be fun without drinking. All it takes is some creativity and a group of friends that are willing to try it.

Alcohol abuse and binge drinking are huge problems in America today. Summer is a time for drinking and partying, and the Fourth of July is a particularly dangerous time on the roads because of all the drunk drivers. This year, find something sober to do. Alcohol is not necessary for a fun time. Below is a list of things you can do that can entertain, enlighten, and show you a good time, yet don’t have to involve alcohol. Pick a few from the list and try them this weekend.

Take a walk on a beach, by a lake, or through the woods.

Watch the sunrise.

Call an old friend.

Take your dog to the park.

Watch fireworks with some kids (tag along with a friend’s family if you don’t have kids of your own).

Watch a movie.

Read a book.

Organize a pick up game of football or baseball.

Go to a trampoline park and bounce.

Plant a flower or tree.

Test drive a car.

Visit a farmers market.

Go to an arcade.

Climb a tree.

Cook or bake something delicious.

Volunteer at a local shelter or food bank.

Play a musical instrument.

Take a dance class.

Paint pottery.

Go to a sporting event.

Visit an expensive clothing store and play dress up.

Go swimming.

Sing karaoke.

Get together with friends and have a sampling of alcohol-free drinks.

Visit an art museum.

The possibilities are endless, and it just takes some creativity and a positive attitude to have a good time, even without alcohol. There are many benefits to having fun without alcohol: you will remember it, you will feel even better the next day, you will spend less money, you will not embarrass yourself, you will remove the temptation for alcoholics around you, and you will enjoy the company of others even more.

This summer, work on living a fun and sober life. If you do enjoy alcohol, do so responsibly. And always be considerate of friends or family that should not drink because they struggle with alcohol abuse.

DUI Patrols on the Lookout this Fourth of July Weekend

Written by Bethany Winkel on . Posted in Alcohol

file0001344864914The Fourth of July is one of the most dangerous holidays on the roads because of drunk driving. New Jersey law enforcement will be out in full force this year, looking for those that are putting themselves and others in danger because of drunk driving.

If you are going out this Fourth of July, don’t drink and drive. Set up a designated driver ahead of time, and be responsible. Encourage your friends and family to do the same. Let’s keep the roads safe this year.

Learn more about New Jersey patrols here, and visit http://www.trafficsafetymarketing.gov to learn about ways to prevent drunk driving this Fourth of July.

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