Flushing Hospital Offers Information About Opioid Overdose Kit

Earlier this month, United States Surgeon General, Dr. Jerome Adams issued a national advisory encouraging more Americans to have access to, and carry the opioid overdose reversing drug Naloxone, which can save the life of someone overdosing on opioids.

This is the first Surgeon General advisory issued in more than a decade, which exemplifies how serious the opioid crisis is in the United States.  America’s top doctor stated that “the situation is all around us.” adding “knowing how to use Naloxone and keeping it within reach can save a life.”

The opioid epidemic has killed over 250,000 people over the past decade and the problem is growing. In fact, the number of Americans who died from an overdose has doubled from 21,000 in 2010 to over 42,000 in 2016. It is estimated that we lose 115 people in the United States every day to an opioid overdose, or one person every 12 ½ minutes.

The rise in opioid overdoses is largely attributed to an increase in prescription medications, heroin, and most notably synthetic drugs, such as Fentanyl, which is 50 times more potent than heroin.

Naloxone, also known by the brand name Narcan, can be administered either as an injection or as a nasal mist, and is currently carried by emergency medical technicians and police officers, but because over three quarters of the opioid overdoses occur outside of a medical setting, it is important to empower civilians to help. Dr. Adams believes making naloxone more available in communities across the country is critical to reducing overdose death and research has shown that when Naloxone and overdose education is available to the public, overdoses decrease.

What should remain clear is that making Naloxone readily available to the public is not intended to serve as a long-term treatment option. According to Dr. Seeth Vivek, Chairman of Mental Health and Addiction Services at Jamaica Hospital Medical Center and Flushing Hospital Medical Center, “Critics need to understand that addiction is a chronic disease and they should look at this recommendation the same way they look at other life-saving measures, such as CPR training, the Heimlich maneuver, or access to an epi-pen to treat an allergic reaction.”  Administering Naloxone should be considered an emergency intervention to suspend the effects of an overdose, but it needs to be the bridge to long term services and support that can lead to a complete recovery.

Flushing Hospital offers both inpatient and outpatient addiction services programs. To learn more about our  Reflections outpatient program, please call 718-670-5078. To learn more about our inpatient Chemical Dependancy Unit, please call 718-670-5540.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

Is Your Child Addicted to Video Games?

It’s often difficult for parents to know how much time their children spend online. Often children play video games, view videos and browse social networking sites. Spending too much time online can lead to the deterioration of your child’s school work and can cause problems with their relationships with family and friends.

Studies have shown that children ages 8 to 18 spend an average of 7 hours and 38 minutes a day consuming media for fun, including TV, music, video games and other content.  About two-thirds of 8 to 18 year olds had no rules on the amount of time spent watching TB, playing video games or using a computer.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that parents limit their child’s screen time for entertainment to less than two hours per day and children under 2 have no TV or internet exposure.

Research shows that academic failure correlates with addictive video game play, and to a higher incidence of attention problems. Conversely, academic achievers spend less time online.  Research has also revealed that child and adolescent video game addiction correlates with functional impairment, emotional problems, poor conduct, hyperactivity and peer problems, as well as with depression and social phobia. In addition, several studies have proven a relationship between excessive video game play and obesity and poor diet among children in grades 4 through 6.

Parents should discuss with their children their expectations for responsible online usage and set limits on how much time can be spent online.  Dr. Gonzalez suggests the following rules for internet use:

  • Regularly determine how much time your kids are online every day.
  • Don’t put a computer or game console in your child’s bedroom—rather put them in the living room.
  • Avoid online activity before bedtime.
  • Charge children’s cell or smart phone or other handheld devices overnight in your bedroom.
  • Be a role model. Set an example with your own internet usage.
  • Use an alarm clock or timer to limit your child’s time online.
  • Provide alternatives to online activity and video games: sports, reading, play dates, time with pets, etc.
  • Set a rule: no handheld devices at the table during meals.

For more information or to schedule an appointment for your child with a Flushing Hospital Medical Center Child Psychiatrist, please call 718-670-5562

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

Alcohol Awareness Month

April is Alcohol Awareness Month. This observance was founded in 1987 by the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence Inc. (NCADD) to raise awareness and help reduce the stigma associated with alcoholism.

Alcoholism is a disease that affects a person’s ability to manage their drinking habits (consumption of alcoholic beverages). It is estimated that over 15 million people living in the United States have an alcohol use disorder- which means their drinking causes distress or harm.

Alcohol abuse can lead to several medical complications including an increased risk of certain cancers, liver disease, digestive problems, diabetes, bone damage, heart disease and neurological disorders. It can also lead to dangerous and destructive behaviors which can negatively impact relationships, one’s personal safety as well as the safety of others.

There are warning signs and symptoms that are indicative of alcohol abuse; they include:

  • Drinking more or longer than intended
  • Having a high tolerance for alcohol
  • Drinking that leads to memory loss
  • Drinking daily
  • Consuming alcohol in places where drinking is inappropriate
  • Losing interest in appearance
  • Engaging in risky or unsafe behaviors
  • Losing interest in activities that were once of importance
  • Becoming defensive about drinking habits
  • Feeling depressed when not drinking
  • Experiencing mood swings
  • Denying alcohol abuse

Paying attention to these signs is important, as some are subtle and may go unnoticed. The sooner professional help is received, the better the chance of recovery.  A trained addiction specialist or mental health professional can provide the support or assistance needed to treat alcohol dependence. Treatment may include a combination of medication and counseling.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

Warning Signs of a Painkiller Addiction

Prescription painkiller addiction has become a growing and serious problem in the United States.  A 2016 study conducted by the National Study on Drug Use and Health found that an estimated 54 million people living in the United States have used prescription drugs for non-medical reasons at some point during their lifetime.

While narcotic painkillers are designed to significantly reduce a person’s sensitivity to pain, they can also create a short-lived sense of euphoria. Some people may crave this sensation and become addicted, as they want to experience this feeling more frequently and for longer periods of time. Long-term or misappropriate use of prescription painkillers can lead to physical dependence.

A person can become addicted to painkillers over time; however, there are often tell-tale signs that indicate a growing addiction. They include:

  • Feeling the need to use the drug regularly
  • Experiencing intense urges that interrupt other thoughts
  • Taking more medications than prescribed by a doctor
  • Going doctor shopping to find physicians to provide a prescription
  • Taking medications longer than prescribed by a doctor
  • Seeking other sources such as relative’s medicine cabinets or the internet to get prescription painkillers
  • Afflicting injuries to oneself to attain painkillers
  • Continuing to take the medications although they affect job performance, relationships or the ability to carry out routine activities
  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when attempting to stop drug use

Paying attention to these signs is crucial in getting the necessary help needed in a timely manner. The sooner a problem is recognized is the sooner help can be received. If you or someone you know are displaying these signs, speak to your doctor or a professional who specializes in addiction medicine immediately.

To schedule an appointment with Flushing Hospital Medical Center’s  Addiction Service Division please call 718-670-5078.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

Maintaining Sobriety in The New Year

Maintaining sobriety in the New Year is a common resolution for those who are overcoming alcohol addiction. As with other resolutions, maintaining this goal can be difficult as there are many challenging obstacles you can encounter.

Resisting the temptation to drink at social gatherings is often one of several difficulties you may face. However, there are measures you can take to avoid relapse and maintain your sobriety while socializing. Creating a plan ahead of time to avoid temptations and triggers is one of your best defenses against jeopardizing your sobriety.

When creating a plan, these are some factors you may want to consider:

  • On-call sober friend/sponsor – Choose a person you trust to call if you are experiencing the desire to drink.
  • Alcohol alternatives – Bring or ask the host to have non-alcoholic beverages available.
  • Eat a sweet – If an urge to drink hits you, eat or drink something sweet. Since alcohol is a sugar, eating a sweet can satisfy the part of the brain that triggers the need for alcohol.
  • Bring a Friend – Ask a sober friend to accompany you to the party for moral support.
  • Get rest – Take some time to nap, meditate or just to remain quiet. It’s best to try and relieve stress before going to a gathering.
  • Work on your response – Not everyone knows you are in recovery. They may ask you if you’d like a drink.  A response that works well is, “I have plans early in the morning tomorrow or I’m driving tonight.”
  • Pick and choose your events wisely – If you are invited to an event where there will be excessive amounts of alcohol served, remember you have the right to decline the invitation. Many recovery groups organize non-alcoholic mixers and sober holiday events.
  • Limit time with triggers – If you know your “drinking buddy” is going to be at an event you are attending, you can limit the time you spend with them and surround yourself with people who are aware of your sobriety or “safe-zones.”
  • Be honest – Honesty just may be the best policy. If you are honest with the people around you, they can help support you in maintaining sobriety.

While alcoholic beverages may be served at events, keep in mind that social gatherings are not only about drinking. You can have an exciting time while staying sober.

The road to recovery can be difficult but it is one that you do not have to travel alone. Flushing Hospital Medical Center’s Addiction Services Division provides support and treatment for alcohol and chemical dependence through our Inpatient Chemical Dependence Unit and Reflections Outpatient Program.  Our highly trained staff utilizes a medical and holistic approach in helping our patients to address addiction and the impact it has on their lives. These approaches help patients to build coping skills so they can better reflect and focus on their goals. To schedule a consultation, please call 718-670-5087.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

How Much Post-Holiday Drinking IsToo Much?

The holidays are behind us, but some habits may linger.  After the merriment of the season, you may want to ask yourself, “How many drinks are too many?”

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Answer: According to the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism: men should not exceed four drinks per day or a total of 14 per week and women should not to exceed three drinks a day or a total of seven per week.

When following these guidelines here are some factors to consider:

.Portion size: Standard portions in the United States include 12-ounces of beer, 8-ounces of malt liquor, 5-ounces of wine and 1.5-ounces or a “shot” of 80-proof distilled spirits or liquor.

  • Alcohol content: There are differences in alcohol percentages between red and white wines, as well as between light beers and lagers.
  • Gender: Women have less body water than men and hence retain a higher blood-alcohol concentration than men from a single drink.
  • Food:  An empty stomach speeds up alcohol absorption. Food slows absorption rates in men and women.

Remember, everyone metabolizes alcohol differently and moderation is key. Make smart choices when enjoying dinner or a night out with friends and NEVER drink and drive.

If you think you have a problem with alcohol, please contact Flushing Hospital Medical Center’s Addiction Treatment Division at 718- 670-5486.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

Addiction

Addiction is a very complex chronic condition that causes a person to be dependent on performing an activity or taking a chemical substance in order to get through the day. It is a chronic disorder with psychosocial, environmental, and biological influences that affect a person’s behavior. Very often an addiction can have detrimental effects on a person’s well-being and ability to function normally.
Some of the substances and activities frequently associated with addiction include:
• Alcohol
• Marijuana
• Hallucinogens (LSD, PCP)
• Inhaled substances ( glue and paint thinner)
• Opioid pain killers
• Tobacco
• Sedatives
• Gambling
• Sex
People who are addicts may build up a level of tolerance to whatever it is they are addicted to and may need more and more to satisfy their cravings. If a person who has an addiction is not able to meet the demands of their addiction, their behavior can change dramatically and cause them to act irrationally until the cravings are satisfied.
Some of the reasons people become addicted to a substance or an activity include:
• Feeling of pleasure
• Relief from stress
• Performance improvement
• Peer pressure curiosity
Professional help for the different types of addiction disorders do exist. The first step is usually having the person with the addiction realize that they have a problem and be willing to try to treat it.  It is helpful if the reasons that a person has become addicted to a drug or an activity can be identified when trying to determine the appropriate plan of action.  Often treatment options may include prescribed medications along with individual or group counseling.  Flushing Hospital offers a specialized unit for people who have addiction problems. To schedule an appointment with this department, please call 718-670-5078.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

Great American Smokeout

On November 16, 2017, the Flushing Hospital Medical Center’s Smoking Cessation Team joined with the American Cancer Society and participated in The Great American Smokeout. The Smoking Cessation Team hosted an informational table in the hospital’s lobby.

The Great American Smokeout is designed for you to have a chance for you to make a plan to quit smoking.  Did you know that by quitting for even one day, you will be taking an important step toward a healthier life and can reduce your risk of getting Cancer? Well, you can!

Tobacco is the single greatest cause of multiple diseases and premature deaths in the USA today.  It kills more Americans each year than alcohol, crack, heroin, homicide, suicide, car accidents, fire and AIDS combined. There are an estimated 480,000 deaths in the United States annually that are due to tobacco use. It is the only legal consumer product that is lethal when used exactly as recommended by the manufacturer.

Smoking cigarettes affects many aspects of health. Tobacco smoke contains about 7000 chemicals, including low concentrations of such strong poisons as ammonia, cyanide, arsenic and formaldehyde.  It also contains 69 carcinogens – substances that are known to cause cancers in humans. Direct association has been established between smoking and cancers of the lung, mouth, nose, throat, larynx, esophagus, colon and rectum, stomach, pancreas, cervix, bladder, kidney and blood.
In the United States, Illnesses caused by smoking cost more than 300 billion dollars per year in direct medical care and lost productivity. Smokers pay twice as much for life insurance and will die on average of 13-14 years earlier than non-smokers. It costs tobacco companies approximately 5 cents to produce a pack of cigarettes.

Many lung conditions are either caused or aggravated by cigarette smoke. It irritates bronchial airways and stimulates mucous production leading eventually to decreased elasticity and functional failure. Patients suffering from COPD, Asthma, Chronic Bronchitis or Emphysema have a much higher risk of dying when repeatedly exposed to smoke.
Smokers are also at greater risk for cardiovascular disease. Smoking damages blood vessels making them stiff and narrow, obstructing blood flow which results with elevated blood pressure, heart attacks, strokes, kidney failure or chronic skin changes.

Pregnant women exposed to tobacco smoke have increased risk of complications like miscarriage, premature birth, and brain and lung damage in developing baby. Sudden infant death syndrome is three times more likely if mother smoked during pregnancy.
Secondhand smoke is the smoke exhaled by smokers or given off by a burning cigarette or pipe. Inhaling secondhand smoke is as hazardous as smoking a cigarette. There is no safe level for secondhand smoke exposure established. People can inhale it at work, homes, cars or public spaces and have all the complications mentioned above.

Smoking tobacco is an addiction similar to heroin and cocaine. It can be successfully treated but the majority of cases require three or more attempts. Quitting smoking offers a chance of feeling better and living longer.  Studies have shown that five, common sense steps, provide the best chance for quitting smoking for good:

  1. Get ready: set a quit date and throw out all cigarettes and ashtrays from your home.
  2. Get support: tell your family, friends and doctor about quitting plans; search the internet for advice.
  3. Learn new behaviors: distract yourself from the urge to smoke; exercise or go for a walk.
  4. Get medication: combining medication like nicotine patches or Zyban with behavioral adaptation and family support quadruples your chances of success.
  5. Be prepared for relapse and difficult situations– most people try to quit a few times before   succeeding.

If you would like to learn more about quitting smoking call the Flushing Hospital Medical Center’s Smoking Cessation Team at 718-670-3146.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

Are you at Risk for Hep C?

Hepatitis C (HCV) is a disease that infects and causes damage to the liver. It is caused by the hepatitis C virus and is spread from person to person through contact with blood. Over time, this disease can lead to cirrhosis, liver cancer and ultimately, liver failure.

Although hepatitis C is the most common reason for liver transplants in the United States, many people do not know they have the disease until they are donating blood or are diagnosed with liver damage.  The symptoms of HCV can take years to present and may include:

  • Joint pain
  • Sore muscles
  • Dark urine
  • Stomach pain
  • Yellowing of the eyes (jaundice) and skin
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fever
  • Clay-colored bowel movements

Learning the risk factors of hepatitis C and receiving treatment promptly can reduce the severity of symptoms. Talk to your doctor about getting tested if the following pertains to you:

  • You were born between 1945 and 1965
  • You are infected with HIV
  • You received a blood transfusion or organ transplant before July, 1992
  • You are having or have had unprotected sex with multiple partners
  • You are a current or former drug injection user and have shared needles
  • You work in an environment where you are exposed to blood through a needle stick
  • You have liver disease or have received abnormal liver test results
  • You were treated for a blood clotting problem before 1987
  • Your mother had hepatitis C when she gave birth to you

If diagnosed with hepatitis C, consider seeing a specialist who is trained and experienced in treating patients with your condition. There are several therapies and medications that your doctor may recommend.  A complete list of approved medications and treatments for HCV can be found on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s website.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

Chemical Dependency Unit

Mid adult woman sprawled on a mattress with vials of pills strewn on the floor

Chemical dependency is a term used to describe a disease characterized by the addiction to mood- altering chemicals found in legal or illegal drugs or alcohol. Some of the causes of chemical abuse and dependence are environmental stressors, social pressures, psychiatric problems or possible genetic traits.

People who have a chemical dependence most often abuse one or more of these agents:

  • Alcohol
  • Marijuana
  • Cocaine
  • Opiates
  • Inhalants
  • Hallucinogens
  • Methamphetamine
  • Pain medications

Warning signs that indicate a growing chemical dependence on these substances include:

  • Developing a tolerance to use more alcohol or drugs to get a desired effect
  • Interference with work, school, and relationships
  • Spending a lot of time getting, using or recovering from the use of substances
  • Craving drugs or alcohol on a continuing basis
  • Having withdrawal symptoms if drugs or alcohol are not available

The Chemical Dependency Unit at Flushing Hospital is a medically managed detoxification unit that offers safe withdrawal from alcohol and drugs. Culturally-sensitive treatment is provided by a dedicated and caring staff that consists of physicians, physicians’ assistants, specially trained nurses, credentialed alcoholism and substance abuse counselors, creative arts therapists, social workers, and psychiatric consultants. Their focus is stabilizing the individual physically and emotionally so they can start the recovery process.

In addition to providing treatment, educational groups are facilitated to help patients learn about addiction as well as creative arts groups to help patients understand and express their emotions. Also self-help groups, such as AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) and NA (Narcotics Anonymous), conduct meetings on the unit to familiarize patients with the support services they provide.

Patients are admitted 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The length of stay is usually between three and seven days. Discharge plans are based on the individual needs of the patient.

For more information or to schedule an appointment at the Chemical Dependency Unit at Flushing Hospital, call 718-670-5540 or 718-670-5693.

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All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.