Opioid Addiction: Power Beyond Death

Opioid addiction has a powerful pull on those who use them, whether legally through prescription drug use or through illegal drugs such as heroin. Once addicted to opioids, a person typically requires professional intervention with medications such as Suboxone, as well as family and community support systems to beat the addiction. While the general public may not understand the intense addictive qualities of opioids, new research documentation may lead to greater awareness of the growing problem of opioid addiction in our society.

Addictive Cravings Detectable After Death

The Medical University of Vienna, Department of Forensic Medicine, published results in December 2016 that demonstrated addictive craving for opioid stimulation continues to exist up to nine days after a person has died. A protein in the brain’s reward center is altered with opioid use, making it more stable and able to react to an opioid stimulus in a type of memory function – this addictive craving can still be detected after death, indicating not only the power opioid addiction has, but the difficulty an addict has in trying to withdrawal from and quit opioids.

Post-Mortem Dependence Memory

The Journal of Addiction Research & Therapy reports on a study showing that the effects of chronic opioid stimulus can be identified post-mortem. The brain protein FosB that has been altered by opioid use, turns into DeltaFosB which becomes increasingly stimulated with chronic use and opioid addiction. DeltaFosB is found in the region where memory is formed which may make addiction and withdrawal all the more harder to achieve. DeltaFosB shows stimulation continues to exist nine days after the person has died – researchers believe that in living addicts the effect may last for months, making professional help all the more critical.

Psychiatric Opioid Addiction Treatment

When addictive cravings persist in the brain for months during and following withdrawal it is imperative to seek psychiatric opioid addiction treatment options. Call the office for a confidential appointment and expert care.

Opioid Abuse of Those 26 to 34 Has Doubled

Research published this September in the Journal of Addictive Behaviors shows that young adults, those 26 to 34 years old, are twice as likely to have prescription opioid abuse and opioid disorder as that same age group from one decade ago. In addition to young adults, data show that emerging adults, those 18 to 25 years of age, have shown an even larger alarming increase in use of the prescription opioids for non-medical purposes.

Opioid Abuse Wide-Reaching

The National Survey on Drug Use and Health has released data that also highlight the increasing trend of opioid abuse. The data show alarming and wide-reaching numbers for both the young adults and emerging adult groups. During the past decade, young adults have doubled their odds from 11% to 24%; emerging adults show a 37% increase in developing prescription opioid use disorder.

Opioid Abuse Leading To Heroin Use

The problem of opioid abuse and addiction often does not end there. Research has shown a 4x to 9x increase in movement on to heroin use for both young adults and emerging adults who have been using opioids without an appropriate prescription. Data show that over the past decade that heroin use post opioid use has risen from 2% to 7% for 18 to 25-year-olds, and from 2% to 12% for 26-to 34-year-olds.

Urgent Psychiatric Intervention Needed

With concrete data showing the alarming increases of prescription opioid use disorders as well as increased odds of moving on to heroin use, it is a critical time for public education, changes in the attitude of the medical community, and in development of new health policies. Opioid addiction is treatable – qualified medical professionals are waiting to develop a treatment plan.

Opioid Abuse Treatment

Dr. Hege has decades of experience in successfully treating opioid abuse and addiction. Give his office a call for a confidential appointment and begin to break the bonds addiction has over you.


Mental Health: Do You Have a Common Disorder?

There are many different mental health disorders and conditions that can be diagnosed and successfully treated by qualified mental health professionals. It may be found during a comprehensive evaluation that a person may have a primary disorder or illness with other psychiatric disorders present that require treatment as well.

Qualified Mental Health Evaluation Critical

Diagnosis of multiple mental illness in a person is not uncommon. In addition some mental illness disorders have components of others in them. Some examples: someone with PTSD who also presents with a depression component or a person who may be diagnosed with depression but who also has suicidal tendencies. Working with an experienced psychiatrist provides you with the skills needed to determine your individual issues and needs.

Common Mental Illness Diagnoses

The more common types of mental illness or mental disorders follow.

  • Anxiety Disorders: An anxiety disorder is typically diagnosed when a person’s response is not appropriate to the event or situation — if a person cannot control the response, or if the anxiety is interfering with normal daily life. Anxiety disorders usually come with feelings of fear and dread, physical signs of panic such as sweating and rapid heartbeat. Anxiety disorders do include panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, social anxiety disorder, generalized anxiety disorder and other specific phobias.
  • Mood Disorders: These disorders involve chronic long lasting feelings of sadness, periods of feeling overly happy, or feelings that fluctuate from extreme happiness to extreme sadness. This category includes the most common mood disorders of bipolar disorder, depression and cyclothymic disorder (low and high mood swings not as severe as those seen in bipolar disorder). 
  • Impulse Control and Addiction Disorders: With a diagnosis or diagnoses of this type of mental illness comes the inability to resist urges or impulses as well as performing acts that may to harmful to themselves or others. Some examples of impulse control and addiction disorders are compulsive gambling, alcohol and drug addiction, pyromania or kleptomania. It is not uncommon for the person to become so involved with their addiction that they start to ignore their work, home and social responsibilities and relationships.
  • Personality Disorders: Those people with personality disorders generally have extreme and inflexible personality traits that cause distress and problems not only to the person with this mental health illness, but also cause disruption at work, school or in social relationships. With personality disorders the pattern of thinking and behavior are often so rigid that they interfere with normal daily living skills. Some examples of this disorder are antisocial personality disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, and paranoid personality disorder.
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): This mental illness usually develops after a traumatic or terrifying event. People who are diagnosed with PTSD typically have lasting and frightening thoughts and memories of the event and often find themselves emotionally numb.

Expert Mental Illness Help Available

If you see yourself in one or more of the multiple descriptions above and are having difficulty with daily life functioning it may be time to take a proactive step; call for an appointment with a qualified mental health psychiatrist for evaluation.

10 Behaviors that Indicate a Mental Health Problem

People with quirky or eccentric personalities may be more interesting or fun to be around, but when their behaviors become too extreme or negatively impact their lives, there may be something else at play, including the possibility of a mental health disorder. In the U.S., about one in five adults, or almost 44 million people exhibit the occurrence of a mental illness every year.

Signs and Behaviors of Mental Health Issues

You may feel that you are unique and different, or even having a personality that is often misunderstood – when do those thoughts change over to questioning if you need to see a psychiatrist? There are certain behaviors and signs that do signal a need to see a mental health practitioner – if you recognize any of the following in yourself it does not mean you are disturbed or crazy, but rather that your life may be able to benefit from an aspect of mental health guidance and treatment.

  • Difficulty coping with life on a day to day basis, having irrational fears
  • Intense anxiety where every worry is “super-sized” and worst case scenario is expected
  • Feeling overcome with sadness, or feeling down or hopeless on a regular basis that affects your ability to function
  • Unexplained and recurrent headaches, stomach-aches or a rundown immune system
  • Using a substance to cope with daily life; use of alcohol, illegal or prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications or other illicit activities to numb emotional pain
  • Have impulsive or obvious mood swings
  • Cannot shake the impact of recent or past traumatic events
  • Thinking about suicide or hurting one self
  • Serious anger issues, significant irritability, hostility, rage and frequent outbursts of anger
  • Distorted body image along with a highly troubled relationship with food and eating

Help is a Phone Call Away

While the list above does not cover all the mental health issues or concerns a person may have, it does highlight some of the most common behaviors and signs that a comprehensive evaluation by a skilled psychiatrist may provide a diagnosis for. Mental health disorders are treatable. Call for an appointment.

E-Cigarettes Bring New Nicotine Addiction

For more than 1 billion people around the world, nicotine has now become available, through the advances of technology, to provide “clean” access for one’s nicotine craving and addiction.  The “clean” image of e-cigarettes is that you can smoke, exhale only water vapor, avoid the tar and thousands of chemicals found in regular tobacco smoke while satisfying your nicotine cravings.

Vaping vs. Smoking

With tobacco killing about 6 million people a year, e-cigarettes, introduced in 2006, have provided a new alternative that provides the “fix” without the adverse health effects. Over the past 10 years this industry has grown to $2.7 billion dollars in revenue worldwide. With “e” or electronic cigarettes, the nicotine, added flavors and other chemicals are delivered through vapor instead of smoke, thus the term “vaping.” With e-cigarettes delivering nicotine without burning tobacco they appear to be a cleaner, safer, less toxic alternative to conventional cigarettes. Not necessarily.

Dangers in E-Cigarette Vapors

E-cigarettes do not produce any smoke, yet the vapor released still contains nicotine, known carcinogens and toxic chemicals such as formaldehyde and acetaldehyde. The vapor also contains toxic metal nano-particles from the vaporizing mechanism which pose their own health consequences over repeated exposure. Nicotine is highly addictive and recent research points to nicotine exposure as priming the brain to become addicted to other substances – the e-cigarette nicotine cartridges are refillable and could easily be filled with other substances to serve as a new and potentially dangerous method to deliver other drugs.

Type and Level of Nicotine in E-Cigs Pose Risk

In a multi-country research study it was found that there are three types of nicotine used in e-cigarettes. In testing, it was found that all brands of e-liquid were of the strongest form, free base nicotine that the body easily absorbs. Overdosing with nicotine whether through vaping high levels or through skin contact in refilling e-cigarette cartridges is a reality. In addition the study found that the level of nicotine contained in the e-liquids often did not match the label, leaving users risking health and life.

Break the Nicotine Habit Once and For All

Whether you switched to e-cigarettes to help you quit smoking or are still smoking conventional cigarettes and want to break the habit, today is always a great time to make the decision to stop smoking. Dr. Hege, an esteemed local psychiatrist is ready to work with you from the first step to the final step to free yourself from nicotine addiction. Call the office today.

CARA: Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act

CARA is a bill that has made its way through the House and Senate and was just officially signed into law by the President of the U.S., which effectively changes the way the nation looks at the opioid epidemic. CARA looks to bend drug policy away from punishment and makes a push toward a public health approach by providing hundreds of millions of dollars into increased treatment resources and award grants to address the national epidemic of addiction to heroin and prescription opioids.

Political Support for CARA

While the opioid crisis has been progressively growing in this country for more than a decade with opioid and heroin related deaths growing more than 400% in a 10 year period, it has relatively recently come to the attention of U.S. national policymakers. The U.S. Senate passed the bill with a vote of 92 to 2, and the House followed suit and passed the bill with a vote of 407 to 5. President Obama has completed the process this past week by signing the bill into law on July 22, 2016.

Emphasis of CARA

The new bill, CARA, shifts the emphasis of treatment away from abstinence and toward the new emphasis of medication-assisted treatment. Use of medications as part of a comprehensive treatment plan has proven to be the most successful and most effective for those who want to end their opioid addiction. CARA will also allow qualified practitioners to more than double the number of patients that can be treated with specific medication, buprenorphine for example.

Benefits of CARA

When fully funded with approximately $800 million in funds each year, CARA will provide grants that will:

  • Expand access to opioid overdose reversal drugs (i.e., naloxone)
  • Support for addiction treatment services including those that use buprenorphine and other medication assisted treatments
  • Develop and enhance recovery services
  • Develop a link between recovery services and other recovery support systems
  • Provide state grants for opioid abuse education, treatment and recovery efforts
  • Provide for a prescription drug monitoring program across the country
  • Provide grants to develop prevention systems addressing overdose deaths

Local Treatment for Opioid Addiction Available

Dr. Hege has been providing treatment for opioid addiction / substance abuse for decades. Call the office for a confidential appointment.

College Transitions with Mental Health Disorders

College students with psychiatric disabilities are entitled to reasonable academic accommodations as provided by the American Disabilities Act of 1990 and 2008 amendments. The University of Washington through a grant from the U.S. Department of Education reports that tens of thousands of adult students report having a mental illness. Students with mental illness may experience symptoms that interfere with their educational goals and create a “psychiatric disability.”

Mental Health Intervention for College Transitions

Without mental health intervention, proper medication if prescribed as part of the treatment plan, or adjunct services, college students with mental health issues may experience severe disturbances in thinking, emotions or functional life skills. These disturbances may bring a diminished capacity to cope with the demands and stress of college life, which include a time of significant transition, a new lifestyle, friends, an alternate way of thinking, and exposure to new cultures along with the pressure of academic rigor and expectations.

College Transitions and Substance Abuse

Academic demands, new peer pressures, and poor ability to adapt and cope to the new environment of a college campus may result in students struggling with mental health or psychiatric disorders. The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse report 45% of college students binge drink and almost 21% abuse prescription or illegal drugs, often due to the students’ struggle to feel adequate and cope with their new life situations. Partnering with a qualified college transition psychiatrist can help steer the college student toward positive management of both their psychological issues and academic success.

Symptoms of College Psychiatric Disability

Some of the most common symptoms exhibited by adult students with developing psychiatric disabilities include:

  • Difficulty concentrating, making decisions and remembering things
  • Exhibiting increased anxiety, fear, suspicion, or blaming of others
  • Confused or disorganized thinking
  • Denial of obvious problems and resistive to offers of help
  • Displays of extreme highs or lows in mood
  • Marked personality changes over time
  • Talking about or thinking about suicide

College Transition Psychiatrist

Developing a strategy and treatment plan, as well as stabilizing any psychiatric issues, can help to minimize psychological and mental health issues that would otherwise prevent a successful first college experience. Call the office for a confidential appointment.

Adjunct Psychiatric Resources a Positive Force

Most experienced psychiatrists and psychiatric mental health professionals take advantage of adjunct psychiatric resources as a part of their therapeutic treatment plan. Adjunct programs or non-medication treatments have an important role in either augmenting a treatment plan that uses psychiatric medication or as part of a specialized program that does not use medication.

Adjunct Psychiatric Resources

Atlanta psychiatrist Dr. Hege works closely with a few select mental health therapists who provide non-medication treatments in conjunction with his individualized treatment plan. Whether medication is prescribed or not, referral to adjunct psychiatric resources is at the discretion of the doctor and may be made at any point in the therapy process. Working with a psychiatrist who maintains an open line of communication with skilled adjunct therapists make for a successful treatment program and plan. Not every patient may require an adjunct program, yet some may need to be involved in two or three services beyond scheduled sessions with Dr. Hege.

Evening Recovery Program

One of the adjunct psychiatric resources or service programs that Dr. Hege recommends and refers to is the Evening Recovery Program which is an outpatient program for adults 18 and up, specializing in the treatment and recovery of those with alcohol and substance abuse/addiction or the co-dependents in their lives. Advanced non-medication techniques are employed in a small group setting that meets 3 evenings a week for 6 weeks. For those that need a longer period of time they also offer 6 week aftercare recovery groups. Session times are offered in the evening to allow added convenience to busy lives and schedules.

Individual Psychiatric Care with Adjunct Services

Dr. Hege refers to a variety of specialized adjunct psychiatric resources to fully meet the needs of his patients. Evening Recovery Program is just one service that the doctor may want to include in the development of your individualized treatment plan.  Call the office for a confidential appointment today.

Buprenorphine Opioid Medications Treat Addiction

Buprenorphine is the generic name for Buprenex, Suboxone, Zubsolv, Bunavail, or Subutex to name a few. On March 29, 2016, the White House announced a proposal to increase a physician’s current patient limit of 100 for those prescribed buprenorphine, to 200 patients in order to effectively address the rising numbers of those with opioid addiction.

Suboxone and U.S. Opioid Epidemic

Suboxone and the other trade names for buprenorphine are used to treat opioid addiction and opioid use disorders in the U.S. which are now being officially addressed as an opioid epidemic. This increase in the number of patients one doctor can prescribe buprenorphine will be part of a package of public and private initiatives to address the rapidly growing problem.

Use of Buprenorphine in Treatment

Buprenorphine is the generic name for an opioid medication used to effectively treat opioid addiction. Patients may take the medications at home via a prescription. Treating opioid addiction in the home allows successful confidential treatment outside of an in-house addiction unit in the hospital or other opioid addiction facility.

Purpose of Buprenorphine Treatment

The National Alliance of Advocates for Buprenorphine Treatment, NAABT, describes the prescription and use of this medication as a suppressant for the debilitating symptoms of cravings and withdrawal. For those with an opioid addiction, buprenorphine gives the patient the ability to make positive long term changes that lead to a life without opioid addiction.

Trade Names of Buprenorphine

Buprenorphine is known by a variety of trade names, all of which require special training and certification in order to prescribe these medications. Trade names include:

  • Suboxone
  • Buprenex
  • Subutex
  • Butrans
  • Cizdol
  • Zubsolv
  • Bunavail
  • Belbuca

Doctor Able to Prescribe Suboxone

Dr. Hege has completed the training and holds the certification required in order to prescribe Suboxone and other buprenorphine mediations. In addition he has years of success in the treatment of opioid addiction.

If you want to end your opioid addiction and reclaim your life, give the office a call for a confidential appointment.

Prescription Drug Addiction

Prescription drug addiction is a growing problem in the U.S. with the National Institute of Drug Abuse estimating that 20% of the U.S. population have used prescription drugs for non-medical reasons at some point in their lives. With data only looking at those who have overdosed on prescribed medication and have been abusing them, the numbers point to more than 8 million citizens with a prescription drug addiction at any one time.

What is Prescription Drug Addiction?

Addiction causes compulsive drug seeking and use even when harmful consequences are involved. While many may think of illegal drugs when talking about a drug addiction, the number of “legal addicts,” or those with a prescription drug addiction continue to rise. Abusing drugs whether legal or illegal, lead to changes in the brain’s structure and function which have a negative impact on one’s personal or professional life. Addiction is a chronic often relapsing brain disorder.

Common Medications of Prescription Drug Addiction

There are three classes of medications that are typically abused with prescription drug addiction taking over a person’s life. The three classes are 1) opioids, 2) stimulants, and 3) central nervous system depressants.

  • Opioids – may be used effectively to treat pain on a short term basis; used long-term they may lead to prescription drug addiction and physical dependence. Over-use can easily lead to a life threatening overdose. Prescription medications properly prescribed and taken are not an addiction, however if the need for more and more opioids begins to take a front seat in your life it may be time to seek help. Working with a qualified addiction psychiatrist is the best option for breaking the hold prescription drug addiction has on you.
  • Stimulants – may be used to treat medical issues of ADHD, ADD, depression, narcolepsy and numerous other problems. Working with an experienced mental health professional the use of these medications has proven effective for millions of people with a specific diagnosis such as ADHD, ADD, or depression for example. Using these medications for enjoyment can quickly turn into a difficult to stop prescription drug addiction. It may even be possible that these medications may be what the doctor prescribes after a comprehensive evaluation.
  • Central nervous system depressants – medications such as Xanax, Valium, Klonopin or Ativan may be used to treat anxiety, panic, insomnia, and sleep disorders. These medications work by decreasing brain activity resulting in a calm or drowsy state. These medications can quickly become both physically and psychologically addicting and are prescribed on a short-term basis if at all possible. Having a seasoned prescription drug addiction doctor working with you is the top choice when your well-being, mental and physical health are involved.

Local Treatment for Prescription Drug Addiction

Help is as close as your phone. Give our office a call to set up an appointment.