WKRN Article By: 

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Addiction is sweeping the country and impacting young people every day.

According to the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse, 25 percent of teenagers who use drugs become addicted before they turn 18.

“Drug addiction is chaotic,” said a former addict at Cumberland Heights in northwest Davidson County.

Addiction is becoming far too normal for people, including teenagers.

“Not all of them have gotten to that point, especially the youth, where they could be addicted, but they are definitely on a path,” said Dean Porterfield, Director of Adolescent and Young Adult Services.

There is no doubt in Alex Booth’s mind that he is a recovering addict. Booth is 28 years old now and once was hooked on pain pills.

“Drinking on the weekends, partying, having fun was all that I really cared about, and it’s not realistic to have that kind of lifestyle,” said Booth.

Booth came to Cumberland Heights years ago. He said without their help, he might not be alive today.

“I was on death’s door when I got to Cumberland Heights. I had a very low heart beat from being on so many depressants for so long,” said Booth.

That is a scary reality for many teenagers and young adults.

“I had pretty much given up and I said, ‘Do whatever.’ I’d follow any suggestion,” Booth told News 2.

A report from the National Institute on Drug Abuse says 50 percent of teens have tried alcohol and 40 percent have used some kind of illegal drug by their senior year in high school.

Porterfield said most of the teenagers coming to them are addicted to alcohol and marijuana and headed down a dark path with prescription pain pills.

“We are starting to see teenagers and young adults getting into substances at a faster rate and a more lethal rate,” said Porterfield.

Porterfield said the biggest challenge is making sure teenagers understand the disease and want to get help.

“It’s not uncommon for someone to get to us and have the drug history, substance abuse history of someone that is much older,” explained Porterfield.

That is something Booth said was a huge hurdle for him and others who have hit rock bottom.

“I remember being a teenager and thinking that I had the entire world figured out,” Booth said.

By: MELANIE KILGORE-HILL
Published: September 14, 2017

Specialists Address Disturbing Trends, Skyrocketing Death Rates

The Opioid Crisis hits Nashville Tennessee - Cumberland Heights treats Addiction to Opioids and Heroin

More than 2.5 million Americans suffer from opioid use disorder, which contributed to more than 33,000 overdose deaths in 2015, according to figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Fortunately, a growing number of treatment options are helping to break the addiction cycle and bring healing to families in Middle Tennessee and beyond.

The New Face of Addiction

“Once upon a time, opioid addiction was limited to healthcare professionals with access,” said Chapman Sledge, MD, FASAM, chief medical officer at Cumberland Heights.

 

An addiction specialist for more than 20 years, Sledge said programs like Cumberland’s primarily treated those suffering from alcoholism a decade ago. Fast-forward to 2017, and the 50-year-old program regularly sees housewives, teenagers and executives – all patients addicted to prescription opioids and, more recently, heroin.

 

“Eight years ago you rarely saw heroin in Nashville,” Sledge said. “When Tennessee became more aggressive with the Controlled Substance Monitoring Database Program, it cut down on multiple prescriptions from multiple prescribers, which tightened up the illegal supply and drove cost up.”

 

To help prevent abuse, pharmaceutical companies also made the drugs less dissolvable. That shift opened doors for mom-and-pop heroin dealers to set up shop, offering an alternative that’s cheaper, easier to get, and more potent than prescription opioids. Today, heroin is often the most popular opioid for first-time users, leading to more overdose-related deaths than ever.

 

Dr. Chapman Sledge, MD of Cumberland Heights Top Opioid Medical Doctor“The thing that’s a game-change is the rate at which people are dying and the desperation among families,” Sledge said. “It’s so incredibly dangerous because the potency has changed. With prescription opioids, we knew what to expect from a single dose … but with heroin, it’s difficult to judge potency.”

Evolving Therapies

Enter medication-assisted therapy (MAT) including fast-acting opioid antagonist drugs, now a standard in pharmacies and emergency departments nationwide. In fact, certain antagonist therapies are available without a prescription in many states, including Tennessee.

 

Also growing is the number of in- and out-patient treatment options now available. At Cumberland Heights, patients undergo an evidence-based, 12-step recovery process that focuses on spiritual healing, as well as physical. In 2016 the program treated more than 2,000 men, women and adolescents through their two main campuses and 10 outpatient offices.

Mental Health & Addiction

Fully addressing an addict’s mental health also is imperative. Kevin Lee, CEO of Nashville-based JourneyPure, said the majority of addicts struggle with mental illness related to anxiety, depression, OCD or bipolar disorder.

 

“Our approach to addiction treatment is to first get an examination done to identify possible mental illness,” said Lee. “That’s one reason we founded JourneyPure, because so many adults with chronic mental illness have spent time in psychiatric hospitals without addiction ever being addressed.”

 

Lee said 70 percent of addicts are between the ages of 20-35, many of whom developed mental illness after using drugs. While the company serves all demographics, JourneyPure also offers programs specifically for professionals struggling with addiction.

 

The company treats more than 3,000 new patients annually at facilities in Kentucky, Florida, Mississippi and Tennessee, including a Knoxville program specifically for expectant mothers. However, Lee said only 10 percent of addicts who would benefit from treatment receive it.

 

“They’re embarrassed because they think they can’t leave work or don’t have the money,” he said. “We want them to know it’s available and that it can be an enjoyable and rewarding process.”

A Lifelong Journey

While inpatient treatment programs traditionally last 30-60 days, those with substance abuse disorders typically face a lifetime struggle with addiction.

 

Maria Russo-Appel, MD, medical director for CleanSlate Addiction Treatment Centers Eastern Division, said patients who stop medications have an 80 percent chance of relapse. “Graduating from treatment is really an old concept in addiction medicine so we don’t frame our programs around that,” she said. “We understand that this is a potentially lifelong disease, and we provide medications for that.”

 

CleanSlate, which is relocating its Massachusetts headquarters to Nashville in 2017, currently treats more than 6,000 patients in eight states (and growing). Working closely with mental health providers, CleanSlate’s care coordinators ensure patients continue to receive medical and behavioral therapies as long as necessary.

Breaking the Cycle

Like Sledge and Lee, Russo-Appel said the stigma around addiction is changing. “Many believe addiction is found in the lower socioeconomic class or the homeless, but it’s startling to see the number of high functioning, well educated people battling this,” she said. That’s because addiction so often starts with a valid prescription for chronic pain. “PCPs and other providers are all coming into an understanding that this has gotten out of control,” she said. “We now have task forces and doctors signing pledges on how to prescribe opioids moving forward.”

 

Russo-Appel said stopping the addiction cycle begins with prevention efforts as early as grammar school. “We need more awareness programs and access to care,” she said. “The heart of our mission is access. How do we get treatment to as many people as we can?”


Addiction doesn’t know zip codes, GPAs, or bank account balances.

Teen-Vogue-How-This-Teen-Beat-Alcoholism-at-17


Article: Teen Vogue: How This Teen Beat Alcoholism
Author:
Written: FEB 16, 2016 11:21AM EST

The first week of senior year for most high school students means seeing old friends, figuring out new class schedules, and feeling the excitement of doing every high school thing for the last time. For Regan*, then 17, it meant going to rehab.

 
The night before her parents pulled her out of school to admit her to a 30-day in-patient drug and alcohol treatment program, Regan had run away from home. With nowhere to go, hiding in a bush and covered in poison ivy, she made her way to a local fire station where she called her parents. The next day her life would change forever.

 
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) in its fifth edition as of 2013, refers to the disease of alcoholism as Alcohol Use Disorder or AUD. Individuals diagnosed with an AUD are placed along a disease continuum ranging from mild to severe.

 

Regan didn’t smoke crack or carry a gun. She didn’t bounce from school to school or sell drugs. She went to a high school for gifted students and lived in a private, upper-middle-class neighborhood. When she talks about her childhood, she describes it as “ideal” and “perfect.” None of this mattered though. Addiction doesn’t know zip codes, GPAs, or bank account balances.

 

“My mind was killing me. I couldn’t be happy when I was drunk or high. It wasn’t the same as it was those first times,” says Regan, who first started drinking when she was 14.

 

On the night she ran away, Regan had gotten in a fight with her parents. They’d found out about her older boyfriend, read through all the messages on her phone, taken her car keys and her bedroom doorknob. Realizing her attempt to run away wasn’t worth it, that none of it — the drinking, the drugs, the getting in trouble — was worth it, she gave up.

 

“This isn’t how my life is supposed to be. I’m in need of a change, no matter what that is,” Regan remembers thinking. “I couldn’t continue living the way I was. I was going to die.”

 

Tammy Stone, a licensed professional counselor at Cumberland Heights, a drug and alcohol rehabilitation center located outside Nashville, Tennessee, works with patients, many under the age of 21, and their families to help them better understand addiction.

 

For many young people, trouble with alcohol and drugs begins with a precipitating event: a parent’s divorce, a break up with a partner, rejection from a dream school, perhaps the death of a loved one.

 

“If they [the patients] don’t have the coping skills or support to work through the event, they might turn to alcohol and drugs to cope,” says Stone. When this happens, the feelings associated with the precipitating event — disappointment, fear, confusion, sadness, anger — are all still there; they never went anywhere.

 

There isn’t always a precipitating event. Regan describes a general feeling of otherness, a feeling like she didn’t quite fit the mold of her peers or like she was missing the life manual everyone else seemed to have.

 

“If you’re experiencing negative consequences in at least three life areas as a result of a particular behavior, like drinking, you have a problem,” she advises. Failing or dropping grades, conflict in peer groups, getting arrested or cited for illegal activity, even losing interest in activities that once brought joy — these events begin to add up to something that looks like more than just the consequences of experimentation.

 

While there are more women in the public spotlight today sharing about their experiences with alcohol and drug abuse (Eva Mendes, Adwoa Aboah, Kelly Osbourne, Kat Von D), there is still a considerable social stigma women face when confronting addiction.

 

“There’s more of a social degradation, so women tend to hide it,” says Stone, adding that for young women, this is compounded by parents who enable, hide, or deny their child’s behavior.

 

“Parents want to protect them from that [the social stigma]. They have a hard time admitting ‘my daughter is an alcoholic,’ so they’ll bail them out of trouble, send them to different colleges, hire lawyers to get them out of legal trouble,” says Stone, “And what that does is send girls a message that, ‘OK, I can’t have this problem. My family is not accepting of me having this problem.'” Shame and denial bury the problem deeper.

 

Alcohol and drug abuse is also linked to sexual assault. A 2015 study conducted by The Washington Post and the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation revealed one in five college-aged women have been victims of sexual assault. The report stated, “Most notably, two-thirds of victims say they had been drinking alcohol just before the incidents.”

 

At Cumberland Heights, Stone estimates, conservatively, at least 80% of the female patients have some kind of sexual trauma in their history. “A lot of times, alcoholism doesn’t come to light until they suffer their first sexual assault. That’s if they’ll talk about it.” The shame that so often accompanies a sexual assault then gets tangled up with the shame and denial of addiction. One begins to feed the other and a way out can seem impossible to find.

 

On the way to treatment, Regan remembers thinking she didn’t have a problem with drugs or alcohol, that it was something else altogether. “That’s what I thought treatment was, addressing your problems with drugs and alcohol. But then I realized when I got there that no, those actually aren’t the problems; they’re symptoms.”

 

Just shy of 18, Regan was the oldest in her adolescent program in treatment. Initially, all she could hear was how different she was from everyone else. Over the days and weeks though, she began to realize how similar everyone’s stories were. Regan could replace alcohol for someone else’s heroin or crack, and the feelings were all the same: different, uncomfortable, ashamed, tired, defeated. In treatment, she worked with counselors and case managers to address underlying issues that led to self-medicating with alcohol and drugs.

 

Regan describes struggling early in sobriety with the awkwardness of experiencing life in a sober body: meeting new people, going to events sober, changing old habits and behaviors. The benefits, however, of the sober life quickly outweighed the chaos and instability of the drinking life. No more waking up next to people whose names she couldn’t remember, no more hangovers or blackouts, no more wasting time chasing alcohol and drugs. More than that, sobriety came to mean finding out what she liked to do for fun, uncovering (and appreciating) their authentic selves, and being present for their lives in a way she had never been before.

 

Stone stresses the importance of finding a supportive community, one that understands not only that you don’t drink, but that you can’t drink. That community may look vastly different from what it used to look like before sobriety; in many ways, that’s the point. Many individuals struggle to maintain sobriety when they fall back in with old friends and old habits, ones that don’t support sober living.

 

Through AA, which also has a young people’s program called Young People in Alcoholics Anonymous (icYPAA), and her meditation group, Regan found other people her age trying to do exactly what she was trying to do: stay sober one day at a time.

 

“Young people in recovery care for each other,” Regan explains, “They need each other. They need to see that other people can do it so they can do it.”

 

* Names changed or last names withheld to protect individuals’ anonymity.

 


Dr. Chapman Sledge, the medical director at Cumberland Heights Addiction Treatment Center in Nashville, said he notices the increase every year around this time. He said it’s spurred by all the social pressure to drink around events like the Super Bowl, but that often it’s a problem that has started much earlier than that. Read more…

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