Leading Stories

November 1st, 2010

Escalating prescription drug abuse of concern

By Ami Albernaz

For the past decade or so, substance abuse counselors, law enforcement and families have been faced with a particularly pernicious problem: the skyrocketing abuse of prescription drugs. Instead of the elaborate schemes involved in getting, illegal drugs such as heroin or cocaine, painkillers like OxyContin and Vicodin are often easily procured from a medicine cabinet. In spite of educational campaigns, bottle collection programs and improved prescription-drug monitoring in some states, the problem continues, seemingly unabated – requiring a coordinated effort from physicians, pharmacists and families. In all of the New England states except Vermont, drugs, both prescription and illicit, now [More]

November 1st, 2010

Practices started to better control abuses

By Ami Albernaz

Between 2002 and 2007, more Americans died of opiate-related overdoses than were killed in the Afghanistan and Iraq wars. In Massachusetts alone during those years, 78 soldiers died in the wars, while 3,265 residents overdosed on opiates and died. These stark findings prompted a group of Massachusetts legislators and substance abuse and corrections officials to investigate the impacts of OxyContin and heroin abuse and issue recommendations on how the problem should be tackled. The commission’s recommendations, released last November, drew from public hearings that included medical experts, police, addicts and their families and touched on a number of fronts including [More]

November 1st, 2010

Fewer dollars challenge Maine’s mental health services

By Phyllis Hanlon

The news is not good, but not as bad as it could be, according to Brenda M. Harvey, commissioner of Maine’s Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). Over the last three fiscal years, the legislature has cut approximately $3.2 million in grant funds from the DHHS budget. “That’s about 13 percent,” Harvey says. According to Harvey, Maine uses two funding sources for its mental health services: grant/general fund and Medicaid. She notes that when she served as deputy commissioner in 2002 the legislature began to reduce the general fund. “We were able to use the dollars in Medicaid to [More]

November 1st, 2010

Living by stories

By Alan Bodnar Ph.D.

When I decided to spend part of a recent Sunday afternoon at a reading by Robert Coles in a bookstore in a nearby town, I knew I was in for a pleasant drive through the fall countryside and an hour or so of interesting observations by a man whose ideas on life and literature have inspired me throughout my professional career. Interesting observations and a pleasant drive would have been more than enough to make my day but the highlight of the afternoon was something for which I am still searching for the words to describe. It had to do [More]

November 1st, 2010

Prescription authority comes with risks, uncertainties

By Edward Stern J.D.

Forces are in the health care system changing its landscape. The greatest changes seem to revolve around the payments of insurance, including who will provide particular services. One of the services that has become part of the discussion is which professionals will be permitted to have prescription-writing privileges for controlled substances. Traditionally, Doctors of Medicine (MDs) and Doctors of Osteopathic Medicine (DOs) could write prescriptions for medications. Dentists (DDS and DMD) also can prescribe. In some areas, Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRN), known in some places as Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioners (PMHNP), with a master’s degree in psychiatric/mental health [More]

November 1st, 2010

Work ‘addiction’ on the rise?

By Ami Albernaz

We all know someone we could classify as a workaholic – maybe that person works 70-hour weeks or never seems to take a vacation. Now, the topic of work addiction – working excessively and working compulsively – is receiving more attention, partly because of stresses it can place on family life and on physical and mental health. Although people might be skeptical about whether work addiction really exists – after all, some people have to work long hours or simply enjoy working – the defining characteristic is working to relieve feelings of anxiety or guilt that come from not working. [More]

November 1st, 2010

Study: Are insomnia medications effective for children?

By Ami Albernaz

Despite uncertainty about the safety and efficacy of insomnia medication for children, a new survey finds that child psychiatrists endorse using medication in at least one-quarter of their patients. The study’s authors are recommending the clinical trials be used to learn how effective sleep medications are for children, what the optimal doses are and how the drugs affect mood and daytime functioning. The findings, reported in the August issue of Sleep Medicine, are based on responses from nearly 1,300 members of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. Insomnia is a significant clinical issue among many school-aged child and [More]

November 1st, 2010

Talk therapy on the decline, study says

By Pamela Berard

Talk therapy is on the decline, while more Americans with mental health conditions are being treated with drugs alone, according to a new study. The results, reported in the American Journal of Psychiatry, are based on data from government health surveys conducted in 1998 and 2007. The percentage of Americans who said they’d had at least one psychotherapy session in the past year remained just over three percent in 1998 (3.37) and 2007 (3.18). However, those being treated with drugs alone rose from 44.1 to 57.4 percent in that span; combined treatments (drugs and psychotherapy) declined from 40 to 32.1 [More]

November 1st, 2010

Introspection, respect, heals youth drug addiction at CASTLE

By Jennifer E Chase

Self respect, and the respect we elicit from family and peers, is often the common missing denominator among kids who use drugs to salve pain. A program in Brockton, Mass., with a regal-sounding name is teaching patients to restore the missing tenet of respect as the first step toward healing from drug addiction. CASTLE stands for “Clean and Sober Teens Living Empowered,” and its foundation is based on a model that combines neuroscience with familial therapeutic practices to build the self esteem adolescents typically fill with drugs’ euphoria. Two years ago, this short-term residential rehab program opened for patients ages [More]

November 1st, 2010

Learn to Cope becomes addiction‘school’ for parents

By Jennifer E Chase

She’ll probably downplay the whole thing by saying it started by accident. She’ll probably tell you that the majority of the site is written by her only because she likes to write. But, the picture gets bigger when you learn what started as a one-woman support group for parents with kids addicted to opiates now has five chapters that meet as many days each week or that her Web site learn2cope.com has a 1,700-member online forum. And when she tells you she was trying to help her son find recovery, but she ended up finding herself, you don’t need to [More]

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