International Overdose Awareness Day

The annual International Overdose Awareness Day campaign began in 2001. In the years since then, government and non-governmental agencies worldwide have worked to raise awareness about drug overdoses and the issues surrounding them.

According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, over half a million people died from drug overdoses internationally in 2019. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics also reported that over 100,000 people in the United States alone died due to drug overdoses in 2021. This is an increase of more than 8,000 deaths since 2020.

Many of these deaths may be fueled by factors such as economic uncertainty, increased rates of anxiety and depression, and insufficient mental health resources. Additionally, synthetic opioids such as fentanyl have become more available since the COVID-19 pandemic as access to other drugs such as heroin has decreased.

People who regularly use drugs have also become more likely to do so alone since the beginning of the pandemic. This greatly increases the risk of overdose, as there’s no one present to call 911 or administer life-saving treatments such as naloxone in the event of an emergency.

You don’t have to face addiction or mental health issues alone. If you’ve developed a substance abuse problem, Flushing Hospital’s Division of Addiction Services provides a safe space for drug withdrawal and offers access to psychiatric assistance, substance abuse counseling, and care from our medical team. Our Reflections treatment program also offers helpful holistic techniques for curbing addictive behaviors.

To learn more about our addiction services, call Flushing Hospital Medical Center at (718) 670-5693 or (718) 670-5540. For more information about the Reflections program, 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.

Prescription Opioid Addiction Among Young Adults

It is crucial for parents and young adults to know the facts about opioids so that they can better understand how these drugs can negatively affect a person’s health and quality of life.

Here are six important facts families should know:

  1. Opioids are narcotic medications that are prescribed to treat mild to severe pain.
  2. Some of the most common types of opioids are fentanyl, hydrocodone, oxycodone, morphine tramadol and codeine.
  3. Opioids work by reducing the intensity of pain signals being transmitted to the brain. They interact with opioid receptors in the brain to produce pain relief and feelings of euphoria.
  4. Misusing opioids can result in the development of a chemical dependency on these drugs. Misuse may occur when a person is taking opioids long-term, is taking more than what was prescribed, or is taking them for non-medical reasons.
  5. It is common for teens to mix prescription opioids with other substances such as alcohol. A  study revealed that seven out of ten teens combined opioids with additional substances and 52% within this group co-ingested prescription pills with alcohol. This behavior puts teens at a higher risk for overdose.
  6. Some of the warning signs of opioid abuse include; anxiety attacks, depression, improved alertness, increased energy, a decrease in appetite, fatigue, nausea, constipation and breathlessness.

There are several steps one can take to prevent or reduce the chances of prescription opioid misuse, they include; keeping medication locked up or keeping track of medication to ensure pills are not missing, correctly disposing of unused medication, monitoring your loved one’s behavior while they are taking medication and communicating with your doctor about not exceeding the recommended time period for pain treatment.

If your loved one is addicted to prescription opioids it is highly recommended that you have an honest conversation with them about harmful effects that could potentially lead to death.  Reassure them that you are here to help and not to judge them. Seek help from a trained medical professional immediately.

There are several treatment options available which include medication and counseling. Your physician or mental health counselor will determine which treatments are best for a healthy recovery.

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.

Alcohol-Related Liver Disease

Excessive drinking of alcohol is classified as more than eight alcoholic drinks per day in women and more than 15 in men.  Consuming alcohol heavily over an extended period can result in the development of alcohol-related liver disease (ARLD).

ARLD causes damage and inflammation of the liver and can potentially lead to liver failure.

There are three types of alcohol-related liver disease, each categorized by stages. They include:

  1. Alcoholic fatty liver disease– This is the earliest stage that occurs when there is a build-up of fat in the liver. There are rarely any symptoms. However, developing fatty liver disease is a clear indication that the body is taking in more alcohol than the liver can process. Fatty liver disease is sometimes reversible when an individual removes alcohol from their diet.
  2. Acute alcoholic hepatitis– In this stage, the excessive consumption of alcohol causes inflammation and swelling of the liver, as well as the destruction of liver cells. This condition can be mild or severe, and symptoms may include jaundice, nausea, vomiting, fever, or abdominal pain. In some cases, treatment may reverse liver damage. In other cases, alcoholic hepatitis can lead to liver failure.
  3. Alcoholic cirrhosis– According to the American Liver Foundation, “Between 10 and 20 percent of heavy drinkers develop cirrhosis, usually after 10 or more years of drinking.” This is the most severe stage that causes the liver to become scarred, stiff and swollen. At this point, damage that is done to the liver generally cannot be undone. Cirrhosis often presents no symptoms until there is extensive damage done to the liver. Symptoms may include red or blotchy palms, jaundice, weight loss, nausea, accumulation of fluid in the abdomen, breast enlargement in men or the loss of periods in women.  It is important to pay attention to these symptoms and seek treatment because advanced cirrhosis can be life-threatening.

If you are believed to have alcoholic-related liver disease, your doctor may assess your history of alcohol consumption, order blood and imaging tests to rule out other liver diseases or request a liver biopsy to determine a diagnosis.

Treatment for alcoholic-related liver disease is based on severity. The first thing your doctor will aim to do is help you to stop drinking.  Abstinence will help to prevent further liver damage and promote healing.  It is common for patients with ARLD to have some degree of malnutrition, as a result, your doctor may recommend that you see a nutritionist. Medications may also be added to your care plan to reduce liver inflammation. In severe cases of ARLD, where there is advanced cirrhosis, treatment can include liver transplantation.

To schedule an appointment with an alcohol addiction specialist at Flushing Hospital Medical Center, 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.

How To Handle A Relapse

Overcoming addiction can be a difficult journey, as one may be faced with several challenges. One of those challenges is figuring out what to do after a relapse.

It is not uncommon for a person to relapse after getting clean. In fact, relapsing is often considered by many experts to be a part of lifelong recovery. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, 40 to 60 percent of people who participate in addiction treatment programs relapse at least once. And approximately 90% of alcoholics will relapse within four years.

A person’s addiction can be triggered by various emotional, social or environmental factors, all of which can lead to feeling the need to begin using drugs or drinking alcohol again.

There are often signs that point to a potential relapse. Recognizing the following signs can help someone avoid making the wrong decision, and jeopardizing their sobriety:

  • Feeling emotions that led to an addiction such as sadness, anger or even extreme happiness
  • Showing symptoms of depression or anxiety
  • Exhibiting changes in behavior
  • No longer attending or losing interest in therapy sessions or addiction recovery meetings
  • Reconnecting with people who encouraged substance abuse
  • Romanticizing past substance abuse
  • Believing that it is possible to abuse substances again without becoming addicted

In the event a person has relapsed there are several things they can do to get back on the road to recovery. They are:

  • Acknowledging relapse and learning from their mistakes
  • Avoiding triggers and setting healthy boundaries
  • Seeking support from those who can help them cope with their relapse
  • Going back to treatment
  • Attending self-help groups
  • Practicing self-care
  • Creating a relapse prevention plan

If you have a loved one who is battling substance abuse, you may understandably feel confused and helpless. Fortunately, you don’t have to walk the path to recovery and healing alone.

At Flushing Hospital Medical Center, our Psychiatry Department features a Division of Addiction Services where those battling addiction can receive comprehensive assessments and treatment for alcohol and chemical dependency.

To schedule an appointment or speak with a mental health professional, 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.

Alcohol Addiction During The Holiday Season

During the season of merriment of the season, you may want to ask yourself, “How many drinks are too many?”

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.

Flushing Hospital Provides Information About Addiction to Valium

There are many highly –addictive substances that have caught the nation’s attention in recent years. Some of these drugs are illegal, but many are prescription medications that when taken inappropriately, can be very dangerous. Flushing Hospital’s Department of Addiction Services would like to educate the community about one of these drugs, Valium.

Valium is the trade name for diazepam, a popular tranquilizing medication or sedative prescribed by both medical doctors and psychiatrists to treat a variety of conditions.  It is most commonly used to relieve the symptoms of anxiety and panic attacks, but it can also be prescribed to help people sleep, prevent seizures, and sooth of muscle spasms.

Valium is intended to strengthen certain neurotransmitters in the brain. These neurotransmitters work to slow down activity in the central nervous system, resulting in pleasurable feelings of relaxation and sedation for the user. While it can be effective when taken correctly, if taken in large doses, for an extended period of time or for reasons other than prescribed, Valium can become very addictive.  Even people who take Valium as prescribed can develop a dependence on the drug.

Valium addiction rarely develops overnight. In many cases, it can take a few weeks to several months for someone to display signs of Valium abuse.
Some of the symptoms of Valium abuse include:

  • Shaking
  • A change in appearance / hygiene
  • Slow movements and speech
  • Lack of coordination
  • Loss of appetite
  • Excessive sleepiness

If not treated, Valium addiction can lead to many serious physical and mental health issues, including:

  • Mood swings
  • Loss of memory
  • Violent or aggressive tendencies
  • Poor motor function
  • Problems with digestion and urination
  • Slowed respiration
  • Low blood pressure

Taking excess amounts of Valium increases the risk of an accidental overdose. This could end in a coma or even death, especially if it is paired with other drugs like alcohol, which also produces depressant effects on the body.

It is important to seek treatment for a Valium addiction because attempting to quit on your own can be dangerous and in extreme cases, unsupervised withdrawal can lead to seizures and death. It is recommended that withdrawal be overseen by qualified specialists to ensure the safety and comfort of the patient.

To speak to someone at Flushing Hospital’s Addiction Services 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.

Signs of Alcohol Abuse

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.

To schedule an appointment with a professional that is highly trained in the treatment of addiction, 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.

Can Someone Become Addicted to Food?

An addict is someone who repeatedly uses a substance or partakes in an activity despite the potential harm that can come from it because they derive so much pleasure from it. The substances or activities that are most commonly associated with addiction include drugs, alcohol, tobacco or even gambling, but there is growing awareness that a person can have a food addiction.

Recent studies of the brain have concluded that compulsive overeating has the same effect on the pleasure centers of the brain as addictive drugs, such as cocaine or heroin.  This is especially true of foods that are rich in sugar, fat, or salt.

These highly palatable foods trigger chemicals in the brain such as dopamine. Once a person experiences the pleasure associated with an increase in these chemicals in the brain, it will spark a reward signal to eat again. In some, these signals can override the feelings of fullness or satisfaction. As a result, a person with a food addiction will compulsively eat even when they are not hungry because of the intense pleasure they get from it.

People who show signs of a food addiction may develop a kind of tolerance to food. They will eat more and more, only to find that food satisfies them less and less. They will also continue to eat despite the negative consequences, and, similar to those who are addicted to drugs or gambling, people who are addicted to food will have trouble stopping their behavior.

Experts have created a survey tool to help professionals identify people who may have an addiction to food. This questionnaire includes questions, that ask the person if they:

  • End up eating more than planned when eating certain foods.
  • Keep eating certain foods even if  no longer hungry.
  • Eat to the point of feeling ill.
  • Go out of the way to obtain certain foods when they are not available.
  • Avoid professional or social situations where certain foods are available because of fear of overeating.
  • Have problems functioning effectively at their job or school because of food and eating.
  • Feel emotions such as guilt, anxiety, self-loathing or depression after eating.

Many believe that compulsive overeating and food addiction is more difficult to treat than other forms of addiction due to the fact that food is all around us. Alcoholics, for example, can remove themselves from situations where alcohol is present to help them abstain, but we all need to eat to survive and therefore we will always be exposed to situations where food is around.

There are a growing number of programs that can help people who are addicted to food. Many programs use a similar 12 step program that other addiction programs follow. Some food addiction programs also adopt a strict diet regimen that includes abstaining from problem ingredients, like sugar, refined flour, and wheat.

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.

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.