Treatment to be Given to Drug Offenders in NJ

Last modified: September 23, 2013 12:52:08 PM

NJ Gov. Chris Christie signs bill into law so more non-violent offenders are eligible for treatment in the state’s criminal justice system.

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has put his signature on a bill making it a law that the criminal justice system in the state provide treatment for addicted criminal rather than only focus on time served.

The program will be phased in over a five year period, and will make it possible for more non-violent, drug addicted convicts to qualify for the state’s drug court program and get treatment for their substance abuse issues.

According to a statement made by Christie to the media, although the ideology of “The War on Drugs” may have seemed like a viable option in the struggle for sobriety, treatment works better.  He further noted to the media at the Rescue Mission of Trenton, a substance abuse treatment facility in NJ, that locking up drug-abuse convicts will not end the addiction because the underlying issues will not have been addressed.  The offender will most likely partictipate in substance abuse behaviour upon release from prison and engage in other criminal activities, and the offender will simply return to jail again, repeating the cycle.

“This will ensure that people have an opportunity to break the cycle”, said Christie.

The program is currently treating over 4,500 non-violent drug abuse offenders, and over 12,000 have gone through the “drug court” program in the past 10 years.  The numbers are encouraging; only 16 percent of those who graduate from the drug court system get re-arrested within the following three years, and only 8% get convicted of new crimes.  Those who do not participate in the drug court system have a re-arrest rate of 54% and 43% of those arrested get convicted of crimes committed after release.

Christie himself and the NJ Legislature will receive a report once a year on the program to ensure that it is effectively run, as an added layer of supervision.  Included in the report will be information on the costs and revocation, completion, and recidivism rates.

The NJ governor is very confident about the program being a statistical success, but also stated that “every life is precious” and the effort will be worth it if it saves one life.  He further stated that because of his time spent on the board of directors at another treatment facility: “I’m a believer in this because I have seen it myself”.

Bonnie Watson-Coleman, Assemblywoman for Trenton, said the entire public will be better off because of the program.  She also spoke to the media at the Rescue Mission.

“We have too many inappropriate people in prison, and people go in and come out unprepared to back into society because those issues aren’t addressed.”

Methadone: New CDC Report Dispels Some Myths

Last modified: September 23, 2013 12:51:03 PM

CDC report found methadone to be an safe and effective treatment for those addicted to Heroin

For those who help rehabilitate heroin addicts or are the friends and relatives of an opiate addict who has decided to attempt treatment or is currently in a treatment program, there has been some very encouraging news from the medical community dispelling some myths about the use of methadone as a therapeutic tool.

According to doctors and experts at a methadone treatment center in the U.S., the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the U.S. have been noting and recording a decrease in the number of methadone overdose deaths.  Their report also dispels the myths and negativity that come part and parcel with the use of methadone as a treatment for heroin (or any other opiate) addiction.

Research, which has been done continuously on the subject for over 60 years, shows that the use of methadone is indeed very effective in treating opiate addiction.  New medications such as Suboxone are also proving to be effective tools in addiction treatment.  The CDC report emphasizes that almost all the deaths cause by methadone overdose were due to its use by chronic pain sufferers as a painkiller, not due to its use to treat those addicted to heroin.  Methadone use in an addiction clinic is strictly regulated in most areas, and almost impossible for an addict to abuse as access is also severely restricted, administered only by highly qualified doctors and nurses.

The report shows undeniable evidence that methadone treatment works and former heroin addicts who take methadone will not go back to the illegal street drugs.  The report shows, over and over, that addicts can go back to a fulfilling lifestyle with employment, reuniting with friends and family, and much improved physical and mental health.

What the CDC report makes crystal-clear is this:  methadone treatment is NOT simply substituting one drug for another.  Methadone is a prescription medication administered by doctors for therapeutic uses and the improvement of health.  One can become physically dependent on methadone after a period of prolonged use; it does not provide the “highs” characteristic of opiates.  It also does not cause addiction, nor does it cause the characteristic behaviors associated with opiate addiction.

Mark Jorrisch, M.D. and Cary Kaplin, MRC, LCAC from the Methadone and Opiate Rehabilitation and Education Center of Kentucky further state in a letter to the Louisville Courier-Journal that while they do not want to give the impression that methadone use in inexperienced hands is safe, methadone works to cure a deadly addiction and has been helping heroin addicts recover in treatment centers for over sixty years.  Hopefully the CDC’s report will eliminate the stigma attached to methadone treatment.

Opiate Addiction and Relapse Prevention

Last modified: September 16, 2013 10:19:41 AM

Relapses occur on the road to addiction recovery

Opiate addiction is a very strong disease and recovery is not something instantaneous; sobriety is a process that has its ups and downs, and relapses are painful bumps in the recovery road that can sometimes occur.  A person who is trying to kick a opiate habit must not get discouraged if a relapse does occur; a relapse does not mean total failure and full recovery is still possible.  As the saying goes, if you fall off the wagon, dust yourself off and get right back on again.

However, this does not mean that relapses are inevitable.  Relapses can be prevented if certain steps are taken and if certain behaviors are changed.  Here is some advice from the famed Mayo Clinic of the U.S. that can help you prevent a relapse.

  1. Do not go into high-risk situations.  If all of your friends happen to be people that you used to take drugs with and are all still using, make new friends who don’t use drugs.  Hanging out with the old crowd will make you susceptible to peer pressure and you might actually feel a physical craving for the drug (dependency).  Similarly, don’t go to places where you used to take drugs and find new, drug-free places to go.  You might miss your old crowd and familiar surroundings, but your health is more important.  Soon you’ll be enjoying your new friends and environment so much, you won’t miss your former pals.  However, do be supportive of former friends who have also given up the habit.
  2. Keep seeing your psychotherapist/ attending meetings.  One of the best ways to prevent a relapse is to stick to your treatment plan and attend regular therapy sessions or AA-style meetings.  While you might feel that you have fully recovered and don’t need any more help, studies show that those who continue their therapy after rehab on a regular basis are far less likely to relapse.
  3. Speak to your doctor or therapist immediately if you feel strong urges to use again.   You may be directed to further treatment to help you deal with your cravings.  If you are prescribed certain medication, make sure you follow the doctor’s orders to the letter; the medication you’ve been given might help suppress cravings.
  4. Contact your doctor or therapist immediately if you do start using the drug again.  Your doctor or therapist may put you back into rehab so that you can get on the right track again.  While a relapse is disappointing, it does not mean that you cannot make a full recovery, so try again; remember that many people have been able to achieve sobriety and lead productive, happy lives after an addiction, but it may have taken them several attempts.

What are the Characteristics of a Good Rehab

Last modified: August 6, 2013 02:31:25 AM

Discussing Detox Plan

When one is dealing with a loved one or friend who has an addiction, there may be temptation to just put them into the first rehabilitation center one sees in order for the quitting process to begin quickly; however, as can be seen in many news stories, some rehab facilities are ineffective at best and deadly at worst, so extreme care must be taken when choosing a center.  Before checking in, make sure a facility meets the following criteria in order to give an addict the best chance at successfully kicking the habit.

  • The facility begins with detox  A proper facility understands that addicts cannot go a day without their drug of choice and that their bodies have grown dependent on the substance.  Detox ensures that the patient gets weaned off the drug  either through a rapid detox program or a more tradition 1 to 2 weeks detox.  In both detox methods, a good facility will have specialized medical staff, doctors and nurses to help the patient get through the debilitating and painful withdrawal symptoms.
  • The facility provides clinical isolation  Inpatient treatment that is residential is one of the most effective methods to turn an addict’s life around; a stay may last anywhere from 28 to 90 days and the undisturbed time is critical for an addict to get better.   Medical staff and counselors can ensure that patients don’t use drugs, and the patient can focus entirely on recovery, not worrying about the goings-on in the outside world.
  • The facility uses evidence-based therapies and treatments  Most rehabs in the U.S. use treatments and therapies that are statistically proven, scientifically tested, approved by government and approved by private institutions in the field.  Therapy should include extensive one-on-one counselling sessions; peer group sessions and therapies that are family-based also form part of the treatment arsenal of a so id rehab facility.
  • The facility provides reality therapy  This sort of therapy teaches a recovering addict to distinguish between situations that they can control and those they cannot; control issues are what underlie the addictions of many.  The patient learns how to deal with stress appropriately and avoid situations that may trigger cravings.
  • The facility will treat Post Acute Withdrawal  The leading cause of relapse is Post Acute Withdrawal Syndrome, which can take place almost immediately after detox.  Effects are insomnia, chronic pain, depression, cravings, and at times, schizophrenia.  Good rehabs recognize the syndrome and will treat it with counselling, education and if needed, medication.

If a facility does not meet these requirements, it will be in the patient’s best interests to go to one that does.