Posts Tagged ‘addiction’

Will Congress’s Omnibus Opioids Bill Turn the Tide on America’s Drug Epidemic?

October 14, 2018

Earlier this month, Congress sent a sweeping legislative package aimed at curbing the opioid epidemic to President Trump’s desk for signature, and the President has said he intends to sign it. Despite the increasing rancor that has poisoned so much our political discourse, the Substance Use Disorder Prevention that Promotes Opioid Recovery and Treatment (SUPPORT) for Patients and Communities Act (the SUPPORT Act) sped through Congress, winning approval by a vote of 393 to 8 in the House on Sept 28, and 98 to 1 in the Senate on October 3. Unlike most of the hot-button issues facing Congress today, the opioid epidemic is a truly bipartisan issue. Democrats and Republicans agree that government action is required to stem the tide of overdose deaths that reached more than 72,000 in 2017. More than two-thirds of those overdose deaths were due to opioids, including prescription pain pills, heroin, and fentanyl.

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The bill was sent to the President’s desk approximately one year after he declared the opioid epidemic a Public Health Emergency. It includes 72 separate proposals sponsored by legislators in both houses of Congress, many of whom are up for re-election next month. Polls indicate that voters view the opioid crisis as a serious problem and believe the federal government should be doing more to combat it.

The SUPPORT Act is extremely broad. It “creates, expands and reauthorizes programs and policies across almost every federal agency.” Among other things, it reauthorizes funding for the 21st Century CURES Act, which provided $500 million per year to states to combat the opioid crisis. It also provides support in the following areas:

Access to Treatment. It is estimated that over 20 million Americans are currently struggling with substance use disorder. Not surprisingly, communities are having trouble finding enough treatment beds and trained addiction professionals to serve the need. Moreover, addiction has historically been treated less favorably by private insurers and Medicaid/ Medicare programs than other chronic diseases. Although such disfavored treatment is unlawful, there are reported cases of insurance companies refusing to cover costs of necessary care. These issues contribute to the fact that only one in ten people who need addiction treatment actually receives it.

  • Increased access to inpatient rehab facilities: Under current law, treatment centers with more than 16 beds are not permitted to bill Medicaid for residential services, a situation which severely limits the number of beds available to low-income individuals. The SUPPORT Act repeals the 16-bed Medicaid rule for five years, opening these facilities up to patients needing addiction treatment and permitting stays of up to 30 days. It also expands the availability of Medicare dollars to treat opioid use disorder.
  • Ensuring adequate treatment services. The SUPPORT Act requires federal review of addiction treatment facilities to assess adequacy of treatment and funding needs. It also requires federal agencies to provide information to Congress regarding insurers who are noncompliant with coverage requirements for addiction treatment.
  • Expansion of Addiction Treatment Workforce: The SUPPORT Act provides a student loan repayment program for addiction treatment professionals working in areas hardest hit by drug overdoses, and where there is a shortage of treatment professionals.
  • Hospital Emergency Rooms: Too often, when an addicted person overdoses and ends up in a hospital emergency room, he is stabilized and released with nothing more than a list of phone numbers for treatment programs. And too often, the person fails to follow up with the listed providers, goes back to using, and overdoses again. The SUPPORT Act seeks to address this by offering grant money for the development of protocols that will provide a bridge from the emergency room to addiction treatment.

Access to Opioid Addiction Medications

  • Opioid-substitution medications such as buprenorphine (Suboxone) and methadone are considered essential tools for the treatment of opioid use disorder, but these medications are often stigmatized among treatment professionals and the recovery community as “trading one addiction for another.” This stigma exists despite multiple studies that show better results, in terms of treatment retention, relapse avoidance, and mortality, than most abstinence-based programs. Federal law requires physicians, physician assistants, and nurse practitioners to undergo special training in order to prescribe buprenorphine, and limits the number of patients each prescriber can have. The SUPPORT Act seeks to increase access to buprenorphine by allowing more types of health care practitioners to prescribe it, and by providing grant money to encourage newly graduated physicians to obtain the training.
  • Naloxone, commonly known by its brand name “Narcan”, is a drug used to reverse opioid overdoses. It is safe to use, non-addictive, and can be easily administered. In an overdose situation, seconds can mean the difference between life and death, so first responders such as police officers are increasingly being equipped with the drug. The SUPPORT Act expands a program that encourages first responders to carry and use naloxone.

Sober Housing and Recovery Support Services

  • “Recovery homes” provide housing for people in early recovery where they can gain strength in their sobriety. Unfortunately, such homes are subject to few regulations in most states, and this can create situations ripe for abuse. Further, the cost of recovery housing is generally not covered by private or public insurance, which can limit access.
  • The SUPPORT Act requires the Department of Health and Human Services to issue best practices for operating recovery housing, and to assist those recovering from opioid addiction with housing costs. The Act also offers support for a variety of recovery support services, as well as grants for programs to help recovering people transition to independent living.
  • Comprehensive Opioid Recovery Centers: The SUPPORT Act provides grant funding for the creation of centers that will provide a full range of treatment and recovery services, including medication-assisted treatment, recovery housing, job training, counseling, and peer recovery support services. The Act further supports the expansion of telemedicine to reach rural and other areas where addiction treatment resources are limited.

Enforcement and Prevention

  • Cutting Off the Flow of Fentanyl: The opioid epidemic has progressed through three waves, each driven by a different type of opioid. The first wave was driven by prescription pain pills like Vicodin and OxyContin, which caused the majority of opioid overdose deaths from 1999 to 2010. The second wave began in 2011, as physicians began to decrease opioid prescribing and opioid addicts migrated to heroin, leading to a surge in heroin overdose deaths from 2011 to 2015. In 2013, the third wave began as synthetic opioids like fentanyl flooded the market. Fentanyl is much stronger than heroin – only a few grains can cause overdose in those without opioid tolerance. In 2013, there were approximately 3000 deaths due to fentanyl; that number skyrocketed to nearly 30,000 in 2017.
  • Much of the fentanyl entering the United States is coming from China through the postal service. The SUPPORT Act imposes new requirements on federal agencies, including the Post Office, to help stop the influx of fentanyl at the border, and provides agencies with new tools to improve detection and testing at the border.
  • Reducing Opioid Prescribing. The SUPPORT Act provides increased penalties for drug manufacturers and distributors related to the overprescribing of opioids. It also provides grants for education and training of health care professionals on proper pain management, the dangers of opioid misuse, and early warning signs of opioid use disorder. Further, the Act provides support for research and development of new, non-opioid pain relievers.
  • Youth Programs: Prevention is an important part of curbing overdose deaths. The SUPPORT Act requires the Department of Health and Human Services to disseminate best practices for youth prevention, and provides grant money for drug education programs for youth and young adults, including funding for collegiate recovery programs. It also provides support for children at risk of entering foster care, or in foster care, as a result of a parent’s addiction.

The breadth of the SUPPORT Act is encouraging, as it demonstrates the federal government’s awareness of the many factors contributing to the overdose crisis. On the other hand, some argue that it spreads too little money across too many policies and programs; a more targeted approach providing increased funding for fewer high-priority items might be more successful.

Most of the funding included in the new legislation consists of grant authorizations, not guaranteed dollars. Congress will need to appropriate money to fund the grant authorizations through spending bills. So far this year, Congress has appropriated approximately $8.5 billion for opioid-related programs, but there is no guarantee of funding for future years. Experts say that turning the tide on the epidemic will require much more money than this, and some have suggested that even $100 billion over five years – which is comparable to the amount the United States spends on HIV/AIDS – may not be sufficient.

In addition to the lack of appropriated funds, much of the new funding authorized by the SUPPORT Act is for pilot programs, which means that it is of limited duration. This can create a disincentive for eligible organizations to invest time, energy, and resources to develop programs when they don’t know if there will be money to continue the programs in the long term.

Finally, some critics are disappointed that a popular provision in the House bill didn’t make the cut in the final compromise package – a provision for the responsible sharing of a patient’s addiction treatment information. More than 40 years ago, regulations were enacted that provided for heightened protection of a patient’s addiction treatment information, in recognition of the stigma associated with the disease and the need to protect patients from the possible negative consequences of disclosure. Unfortunately, these restrictive regulations can result in a patient’s physician not being fully informed about his patient’s addiction treatment history, which can undermine the effective coordination of patient care.

Despite its limitations, there is no doubt that the SUPPORT Act is a significant legislative achievement. While we should celebrate this breakthrough legislation, we must realize that it will not, by itself, carry us out of our current addiction crisis. Our work in conquering America’s opioid epidemic is far from done.

Lauren A. Rousseau is a professor of law at Western Michigan University Thomas M. Cooley Law School. She is President of the Northwest Wayne County Chapter of Families Against Narcotics, and has spoken and written extensively on the subject of addiction and the opioid epidemic. In 2016, she was honored as one of Michigan Lawyers Weekly’s 2016 Women in the Law in recognition of the work she has done in the area of addiction treatment, education, and advocacy. 

https://www.jurist.org/commentary/2018/10/lauren-rousseau-opioids-bill-drug-epidemic/

Suggested citation: Lauren A. Rousseau, Will Congress’s Omnibus Opioids Bill Turn the Tide on America’s Drug Epidemic?, JURIST – Academic Commentary, October 13, 2018, http://jurist.org/forum/2018/10/lauren-rousseau-opioids-bill-drug-epidemic.php

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Despite crisis, addiction dangers patients perceive opioids as superior and expect them for pain

October 14, 2018

Patients expect opioids after surgery, study finds — However, second study shows opioids tied to complications after back procedures

AMERICAN SOCIETY OF ANESTHESIOLOGISTS

SAN FRANCISCO – Even with concerns about addiction, side effects and the other risks of opioids dominating headlines, a study presented at the ANESTHESIOLOGY® 2018 annual meeting found people expect to be prescribed opioids and perceive them to be the most effective form of pain relief after surgery. Interestingly, other research presented at the meeting found opioids led to complications such as increased pain, poorer quality of life and dependence following back surgery.

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While opioids may effectively relieve pain after surgeries and procedures, they may not be the best option in all cases. Opioids can be highly addictive and carry some risks and side effects, such as sleepiness, constipation and nausea, as well as life-threatening shallow breathing and slowed heart rate, which may indicate an overdose.

“Patients often assume they will receive opioids for pain, believing they are superior, and therefore may pressure physicians to prescribe them after surgery,” said Nirmal B. Shah, D.O., lead author of the first study and an anesthesia resident at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, Philadelphia. “But research shows opioids often aren’t necessarily more effective. Clearly, we need to provide more education to bridge that gap and help patients understand that there are many options for pain relief after surgery, including other pain medications such as acetaminophen and ibuprofen.”

Patients expect opioids after surgery, study finds

In the first study, researchers set out to understand expectations of pain management after surgery. They gave a 13-question survey to 503 adults who were scheduled to have surgery for the back, ear-nose-and-throat, abdomen, or hip or knee replacement.

Everyone responded that they expected to receive pain medication after surgery:

  • 77 percent expected opioids, such as morphine, fentanyl and dilaudid
  • 37 percent expected acetaminophen, such as Tylenol
  • 18 percent expected a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID), such as Motrin

The majority of patients believed opioids would be most effective, even if they didn’t expect to receive them: 94 percent of those who assumed they would get opioids thought they would be effective, as did 67.5 percent of those who didn’t expect to receive them. Only 35.6 percent of patients expecting to receive acetaminophen thought it would be effective and 53.1 percent of those expecting to receive NSAIDs thought they would be effective.

“In previous opioid research, we found only 10 percent of people were worried about respiratory problems and 40 percent were concerned about nausea or constipation,” said Dr. Shah. “We believe there is a lack of education and understanding of the dangerous side effects of these drugs, which contributes to the epidemic.”

Opioids associated with complications after back surgery, study finds

In the second study, researchers analyzed nine papers that assessed opioid use in managing pain after spinal fusion (back) surgery. Interestingly, many of the findings contradict the assumptions of the patients in the first study. Findings included:

  • Those whose postsurgical pain was managed with opioids had higher postoperative pain scores and worse quality of life than those who managed their pain through non-medication regimens such as exercise.
  • Those who used opioids before surgery were six times more likely to use opioids long-term after surgery.
  • The longer patients used opioids prior to surgery, the longer they needed them after surgery.
  • Opioid use before surgery was associated with increased risk of opioid dependence 12 months after surgery.
  • Those who used opioids before surgery were more likely to have surgical site pain after the procedure.
  • Those who used opioids to manage pain before surgery stayed in the hospital longer after surgery, and were more likely to be readmitted after they had been discharged.

“Our review suggests there hasn’t been much clinical emphasis on alternative methods to manage pain after back surgery,” said Ramneek Dhillon, M.Sc., lead author of the study and a medical student at the University of Toledo College of Medicine and Life Sciences, Ohio. “While we looked at research on opioid use after spinal surgery, we believe these complications likely occur after other surgeries as well.”

https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2018-10/asoa-dcp100418.php

Related:

(Study funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation)

‘Drug Dealers in White Coats’

October 11, 2018

Five doctors were arrested for allegedly selling illegal opioids in exchange for cash, vacations and gifts

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One of the doctors is accused of selling more than 6 million oxycodone pills since January 2012.
One of the doctors is accused of selling more than 6 million oxycodone pills since January 2012. PHOTO: GEORGE FREY/REUTERS
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A group of doctors and medical professionals illegally sold opioids in the New York metro area in exchange for cash, paid vacations and gifts, with some of those drugs leading to fatal overdoses, law enforcement officials said Thursday.

Five doctors, a pharmacist, a nurse, two clinic workers and an alleged street dealer were arrested on Wednesday and Thursday morning as part of a sweeping round-up of illegal sellers of the narcotics, officials said. They were charged with conspiracy to distribute controlled substances and conspiracy to commit health-care fraud and were expected to appear in federal court in Manhattan on Thursday afternoon.

The defendants, who were based in Manhattan, Staten Island, Queens and Westchester County, sold the oxycodone pills to clients “who had no legitimate need for it,” including to clients recently released from rehabilitation or prison, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District Geoffrey Berman said at a press conference.

One of the doctors, Dante Cubangbang, 50 years old of Nassau County, New York, is accused of selling more than 6 million oxycodone pills from a Queens medical center since January 2012, the most prescriptions of the narcotic in the state, Mr. Berman said.  Dr. Cubangbang, as well as one of his nurses and clinic employees, received more than $5 million dollars in cash for their dealings, according to the U.S. attorney.

“Instead of caring for their patients, these doctors were drug dealers in white coats,” Mr. Berman said. “They hid behind their medical licenses to sell addictive, dangerous narcotics.”

Another suspect, Dr. Carl Anderson, 57,  is accused of opening his Staten Island office in the middle of the night to prescribe nearly a million pills to noisy crowds of drug-addicted clients, prompting nearby residents to call the police. Several of his patients died, Mr. Berman said, including two of his employees who received prescriptions to oxycodone. Another Staten Island-based physician, Nkanga Nkanga, 65, regularly prescribed more than 100 pills per patient a month, according to prosecutors.

Nadem Sayegh, 65, dealt opioids from offices in the Bronx and Westchester in return for cruises, an all-expense-paid trip to Puerto Rico, high-end whiskey and fancy meals, Mr. Berman said. Mark Klein, 47, who sold the drugs from his pharmacy in White Plains, N.Y., for cash and a vacation, once described himself as a “licenced drug dealer,” to one of his clients, according to Mr. Berman.

“He added, ‘Oxy pays the bills around here,’” Mr. Berman said.

A lawyer for Dr. Cubangbang could not be reached for comment. Attorneys for the other suspects did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Mr. Berman said the suspects used so-called “crew chiefs” tasked with recruiting clients for the doctors. The crew chiefs then bought some of the opioids back from the clients and distributed them on the city streets.

New York City is in the midst of what law enforcements have described as an opioid epidemic. Every six hours, someone in New York City dies of a drug overdose, according to the city’s health department. While the rate at which people are dying from drugs slowed in 2017, the number of fatal drug overdoses rose for the seventh straight year to 1,487, up 62 from a year before, according to the city’s health department. The rise has been driven by opioids, particularly the powerful, synthetic opioid, fentanyl, according to city officials.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/drug-dealers-in-white-coats-1539292026

Memoir of depression and prayer

October 11, 2018

Yesterday, Oct. 10, was World Mental Health Day. The UN Secretary General issued a message, a portion of which said: “We must leave no one behind… Healthy societies require greater integration of mental health into broader health and social care systems, under the umbrella of universal health coverage.”

By  – @inquirerdotnet

Timely for me to have interviewed Geoffrey Lilburne, the author of “Joy Interrupted: A Memoir of Depression and Prayer” (Coventry Press, 2018), a slim volume packed full of insights derived from firsthand experience.

Lilburne is a theologian and poet, with qualifications in counseling and professional supervision, a retired lecturer in theology (with graduate studies at the Yale School of Divinity in the United States). He is a Uniting Church minister in active ministry with a rural congregation in Western Australia.

Lilburne was in the country recently with his wife, Sophie Lizares, my friend of more than 30 years and at one time a colleague in social action and journalism. Sophie is now an ordained minister in the Uniting Church in Australia and is chaplain at UnitingCare West.

Lilburne begins with a startling revelation of how it began: “I awoke one morning wishing I had died during the night… I was 13 years of age.” What was a boy in the cusp of adolescence to make of what was going on inside him, a boy whose family background was relatively normal, who had no traumas to hark back to?

The book details Lilburne’s lifetime battle with depression (and manic episodes), how it was in different stages of his life, his seeking “professional assistance from general practitioners, psychiatrists, counselors, pastoral carers, ministers and spiritual directors.” But alongside these is Lilburne’s journey as an academic and, later, in various church ministries.

What was it like and what did he do to cope with it, deal with it, be healed of it, live with it? Lilburne’s early struggles meant pharmacological interventions or prescribed antidepressants, with names that were hard to spell and even harder to pronounce.

It was while he was in the United States that he met famous Catholic priest, theologian and author Henri Nouwen, who suggested a week at the Trappist monastery as a suitable therapy. Lilburne writes: “I have already alluded to the possibility that prayer might be significant in relation to depression, and have so far advanced the view that, for the person suffering from depression, prayer seems like a desperate ‘last resort.’” Much like what happens to atheists in the trenches.

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Henri Nouwen

But he also admits that the “episodic dips into depression also seemed to deprive me of any sense of relationship with God. They were not only dark times of sadness, they were for me also godless periods.” Lilburne writes (and he did say this in our interview) that the carer needs to pray for the depressed who are incapable of praying for themselves.

Lilburne ends the dark chapters by announcing that “just as joy had suddenly disappeared from my life when I was a young teenaged boy, joy returned to this old man… One day, it just came.” I am reminded of C. S. Lewis’ “Surprised by Joy.”

This space is not enough for Lilburne’s rich insights, so let me zoom to the end chapter, “Spirituality and Depression,” where he discusses “medicalization” or reliance on pharmacology and finding a “better framework,” “an alternative engagement.”

For spiritual counselors and carers, read Lilburne’s take on Saint John of the Cross’ “Dark Night of the Soul.” Lilburne describes depression as a “spiritual disturbance” or “spiritual disfiguring.” He asks: “Might it be helpful then, to regard depression and/or mood disorders as fundamentally disturbances of a person’s spirit, and to propose that the treatment of them should be a form of holistic therapy that embraces body, mind and spirit?”

St. John of the Cross

Lilburne provides guidelines on “living with the black dog” while discovering “one’s best friend which is one’s self, with God as the ultimate ground of our best friend self, the source of best friending.”

I am not a depressive, but reading Lilburne, I say I am awed. I paraphrase Saint Augustine on his behalf: (Not) too late have I (found) Thee, beauty so ancient yet ever new.

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Read more: https://opinion.inquirer.net/116675/memoir-depression-prayer#ixzz5TdJuSD00
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Mexico defense chief says legalizing opium ‘way out’ of violence

October 6, 2018

Mexico’s defense minister said on Friday legalizing opium for medicinal use could contain violence caused by drug gangs fighting over poppy fields and trafficking routes in the country’s southwest.

Defense Minister General Salvador Cienfuegos spoke to reporters during a visit to the town of Teloloapan in the crime-ridden state of Guerrero, where much of the heroin trafficked to the United States is produced.

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Mexico’s Defense Minister General Salvador Cienfuegos addresses the audience during the 50th anniversary of the Plan of Assistance to the Population in case of Disaster (Plan DN-III-E) in Mexico City, Mexico July 12, 2017. Picture taken on July 12, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Jasso

Legalization “is already on the table. I think it can be a way out of the problem,” Cienfuegos said when asked about violence in the state and proposals to regulate opium production.

Olga Sanchez, the designated interior minister of President-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, has said the next administration will explore regulating opium production for pharmaceutical use.

Guerrero’s governor has backed the idea and state lawmakers sent a draft bill to the federal congress in August.

“But it is a subject that will have to be debated. In principle, it seems to me that it is correct,” Cienfuegos said.

He expressed worries about how to guarantee the safety of farmers if they stop selling drugs to gangs and start providing opium to the government in order to produce morphine.

Leftist Lopez Obrador, who won July’s election by a landslide and takes office on Dec. 1, is proposing major changes to the drug war strategy. He has suggested a negotiated peace and amnesty for non-violent drug dealers, traffickers and farmers.

Lopez Obrador is expected to name a new defense minister to replace Cienfuegos soon.

Mexico has been mired for nearly 12 years in a bloody, military-led battle against drug gangs. Cartels have fragmented into warring groups and murders have risen to record levels.

Reporting by Uriel Sanchez; Editing by Paul Tait

Reuters

Catholic Recovery: AA and The Sacraments (Addiction is no joke)

September 25, 2018

The Best Cure for a Sick Human Being May Be Prayer 

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By John Francis Carey

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The “Big Book”

Addicted people, alcoholics and drug addicts, generally know where to go to get sober: Alcoholics Anonymous (and Narcotics Anonymous). Oh you can go to Malibu if your health insurance is good enough or you are  rolling in dough, but only the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous has a decades-long proven track record of getting drug addicts and alcoholics sober and keeping them that way.

So, having exhausted all prior options and afraid that sacrificing a live chicken in suburbia would upset the neighbors, I went to AA.

But since I am a Catholic, I have another place to go to help me to maintain a “fit spiritual condition.” We have the Church.

Suffering miserably, I trembled as I asked my spiritual advisor and AA sponsor the secret to good health and happiness.

“Go, listen to the Spoken Word, eat the Body of Christ in the form of the Eucharist at Mass, and confess your sins,” both of them replied.

I told them I thought I needed a better doctor and more health insurance.

“Nonsense,” one said.  “Physically you are fine. What you need is a spiritual awakening!”

There’s that thought again: spiritual awakening.

Isn’t “spiritual awakening” the entire point of Alcoholics Anonymous? Isn’t Step Twelve “Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.”

So,  I stepped into a Catholic Church for the first time in years.  Before too long The Holy Spirit began to talk to me and recommended I go to confession and get a new start on life by wiping away all the built-up sin and grime and dirt.

After confession, my first in decades, I felt like I could fly. So, for once in my life I followed orders exactly: I went to Mass every day, I listened, paid attention, concentrated and consecrated my efforts in life.

I also received Holy Communion daily: The Bread of Life. I have been keeping this daily routine supplemented with lots of prayer and spiritual reading since 2007; and you know what? I have had a spiritual recovery.

My Old friend Peter calls it a “CONVERSION.”  Like Saul in the Scripture: “the scales fell from my eyes.”

And Bill Wilson, one of the co-founders of Alcoholics Anonymous, used those same words.

“The scales fell from our eyes.”

One of the landmark books that told me I was on the right track was “Holy Spirit” by Father Edward Leen.

Father Leen says if you do the daily diet of Mass and Communion and you keep your life in a helpful, grateful and useful frame of mind with lots of good works: you will be filled with an “indwelling of the Holy Spirit.”

It happened to me exactly the way my spiritual advisor and Fr. Leen promised.  And I am reborn.

Many Catholics in AA find St. Francis de Sales a good one to read in order to straighten out a long lost catholic soul. “Introduction to the Devout Life” is the book that includes just about everything Francis de Sales teaches: but there are several shorter books of his teachings to get folks started.

And don’t let that word “devout” slow you down. Are you devoted to your sobriety or not? Are you grateful to God and devoted to Him?

I keep in mind that “what we really have is a daily reprieve contingent on the maintenance of our spiritual condition.”

Like a Space Walker tethered to the mother ship by a three inch diameter chord — we have support from our AA fellowship and the Church and all its benefits. But, I know that a mortal sin just now will slam the hatch, sever my relationship with God, and I could float off into space before I come to my senses and return to the Spiritual Life again! IF I can return to the spiritual life again.

Ed White was the first American to perform a spacewalk. Image Creit: NASA

Jesus said, “If you love me, keep my commandments.” So as I look at the Twelve Steps and the Ten Commandments, and see that our supplemental Catholic Church effort actually has fewer steps that AA! And since we are seeking that “daily reprieve contingent on the maintenance of our spiritual condition” — it might be a good idea for me not to continue to violate the Ten Commandments. I need all the Grace God can give me and I sure don’t want to slam the door in God’s face again.

It is only by the Grace of God that I am still alive.

So we use everything at our disposal to stay sober and stay on a spiritual path. We “go to any lengths to get it.” That means we pray, we go to AA meetings and we go to Church.

Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob both once said, “I’ll never go to church again.” But both DID go back to church after they got sober using the steps.

Now a few thoughts on prayer:

“A soul should not resolve, on account of the dryness it experiences, to abandon prayer.” — St. Teresa of Avila

“No prayer, no spiritual life.” –St. John Paul II

“Nothing so much purifies our mind from its errors, or our will from its depraved  affections, as prayer.” — St. Francis de Sales

“Pray, hope, and don’t worry. Worry is useless. God is merciful and will hear your prayer.” — St. Pio of  Pietrelcina (“Padre Pio”)

For thousands of years, human beings have been praying. We modern Americans may need to give it a try too. I know it’s not cool but being cool won’t keep me sober or get me to heaven!

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Related:

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We recommend the book “Holy Spirit” By Edward Leen. It changed my life. It can change yours too.

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Padre Pio

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 (“Stay in the present moment.”)
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Book: Four Signs of a Dynamic Catholic by Matthew Kelly.
  1. Pray/Meditate
  2. Study
  3. Pour ourselves out in service to others
  4. EVANGELIZE

Afternoon Prayer for Tuesday, September 25, 2018 — St. Augustine’s Prayer to the Holy Spirit

September 25, 2018

Breathe in me, O Holy Spirit, that my thoughts may all be holy. Act in me, O Holy Spirit, that my work, too, may be holy. Draw my heart, O Holy Spirit, that I love but what is holy. Strengthen me, O Holy Spirit, to defend all that is holy. Guard me, then, O Holy Spirit, that I always may be holy. Amen.

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Art: St. Augustine and His Mother St. Monica

Augustine’s prayer is particularly powerful when we know his story. Truly, Augustine is the first writer to show a change from a liberal view of sex to an extremely conservative view of sex and show the benefits that it did for him. Even though his book is clearly Catholic propaganda, he shows himself as lost sheep found, a reformed sinner; and that is a powerful message for many people.

Augustine wrote, at the age of 16 that “the frenzy gripped me and I surrendered myself entirely to lust.”

He admits he was “floundering in the broiling sea of … fornication.”

Today, he might be called a sex addict.

The fact that he became celibate and ultimately a Catholic Saint is a truly remarkable accomplishment — and a tribute to the power of his prayers.

See:

The Sex Animal Names Augustine

http://www.columbia.edu/itc/lithum/gallo/jeff2.html

and:

Augustine’s Sex-Life Change: From Profligate to Celibate

https://www.christianitytoday.com/history/issues/issue-15/augustines-sex-life-change-from-profligate-to-celibate.html

Related:

 

George Michael: Tragic Story of Aging, Addiction Often Repeated Among Show Business “Stars” — And Help Is All Around

September 25, 2018

POP legend George Michael “tried to stab himself 25 times” in rehab, according to lover Fadi Fawaz.

Fadi Fawaz posts throwback video of the late George Michael

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George Michael early in his career

The hairdresser also claimed the Faith singer made four failed suicide attempts leading up to his death, including in 2013 when he leapt from his car on the M1.Fadi says the tragic singer was hooked on party drug GHB, also known as liquid ecstasy and the date rape drug, often mixing the depressant into glasses of Coca-Cola before having sex.Fast Love singer George died on Christmas Day 2016 from natural causes.But Fadi, who was with George for six years, described how he was at first convinced the pop star had killed himself when he discovered his body in bed that morning.
George Michael with Fadi FawazSHUTTERSTOCKLOVERS: George Michael with Fadi Fawaz back in 2012

“He has tried to kill himself four times, whilst in rehab he tried to stab himself 25 times”

Fadi Fawaz

Fadi said in a rambling statement posted to his Instagram account: “I thought that’s it, he f nally did it and I finally saw him dead in his bed.

“I always begged him not to do this but he was so depressed.

“All he wanted to do is die.

“He has tried to kill himself four times, whilst in rehab he tried to stab himself 25 times.”

He added: “He never told me how he did it when he was taken for three days to Marlybone. I would say aren’t you glad May 16th didn’t happen, referring to one suicide attempt and he would say ‘no’.

George MichaelSWNSFlowers and tributes left outside George Michael’s Highgate home
“He wanted to die so badly and it was powerful to hear him say it. I think life stopped for him a long time ago.“Everyone wanted him for who and what he is. ‘Everyone wants me alive’ is what he would say.”Fadi also went into great detail about their early days in 2009 and how they began sleeping together when George still had a “live in partner”.His drug abuse was already evident, as the singer refused to have sex until he had taken GHB, said Fadi.And he says his lover started using drugs more heavily after a hospital visit for pneumonia in 2011. He added: “Whilst George was still skinny from his illness I saw him with cocaine in aluminium foil. He told me what it was.

“Nobody knew about this. George also had something brown, I don’t know what crack looks like. “George told me that he didn’t want to use and he wasn’t happy he was taking it.

“He wanted to clean his life but he didn’t know how.

“He was never the same again after pneumonia and as a result, we were never the same.”

But fans of the singer dismissed Fadi’s claims last night, calling him “disgusting”.

For confidential support call the Samaritans in the UK on 116 123 or visit a local Samaritans branch.

https://www.dailystar.co.uk/showbiz/731968/george-michael-death-suicide-attempts-fadi-fawaz

In the U.S., go to any Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous meeting or “Google” and phone either. Help really is all around and you can easily meet people who have recovered from the very worst kinds of addiction, pain and suffering.

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George Michael ‘was discovered passed out in bath full of water after overdosing on GHB,’ claims pal

Whitney Houston

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Spiritual Awakening In 12 Step Addiction Recovery — Meditation for September 23, 2018

September 23, 2018

Step Twelve is, “Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.” Note that the basis of our effectiveness in carrying the message to others is the reality of our own spiritual awakening. If we have not changed, we cannot be used to change others. To keep this program, we must pass it on to others. We cannot hoard it for ourselves. We may lose it unless we give it away. It cannot flow into us and stop; it must continue to flow into us as it flows out to others. Am I always ready to give away what I have learned in A.A.?

Meditation for the Day

“Draw nigh unto God and He will draw nigh unto you.” When you are faced with a problem beyond your strength, you must turn to God by an act of faith. It is that turning to God in each trying situation that you must cultivate. The turning may be one of glad thankfulness for God’s grace in your life. Or your appeal to God may be a prayerful claiming of His strength to face a situation and finding that you have it when the time comes. Not only the power to face trials, but also the comfort and joy of God’s nearness and companionship are yours for the asking.

Prayer for the Day

I pray that I may try to draw near to God each day in prayer. I pray that I may feel His nearness and His strength in my life.

From the Book “Twenty Four Hours A Day”

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From Despair to Repair

Cranberries singer Dolores O’Riordan died by drowning in hotel bath tub due to alcohol intoxication

September 6, 2018

Dolores O’Riordan, the 46-year-old lead singer of Irish rock group The Cranberries, died accidentally from drowning in a London hotel bathtub due to alcohol intoxication, according to an inquest.

The Westminster Coroner’s Court heard Thursday — on what would have been O’Riordan’s 47th birthday — that she had been drinking heavily before she was found dead Jan. 15 at the Park Lane Hilton hotel, The Guardian reported.

Her alcohol level was 330mg per 100ml of blood — more than four times the legal limit for driving of 80mg, according to the findings.

An autopsy report by Dr. Adam Combe concluded that she drowned as a result of alcohol intoxication. Authorities said after her death that it was not suspicious.

The coroner, Dr. Shirley Radcliffe, said: “There’s no evidence that this was anything other than an accident. There was no intention, this seems to be solely a tragic accident.”

Her mother, Eileen O’Riordan, as well as one of the singer’s brothers and sister-in-law attended the inquest, according to the paper.

A maid found O’Riordan submerged, face up in the bath, during a recording trip ahead of a planned tour. When paramedics arrived, police were performing CPR on her.

O’Riordan, whose distinctive and powerful voice helped fuel The Cranberries’ rapid rise in the early 1990s, had to cancel a tour with the reunited group last year because of a back problem.

Her partner at the time of her death, New York-based DJ and producer Ole Koretsky, said: “The love of my life is gone.”

According to the inquest, evidence also was found of heavy smoking and the of use of prescription drugs, including lorazepam, which is used to treat anxiety.

Five empty bottles of alcohol from the minibar were found, as well as a bottle of champagne.

A report by an American psychiatrist — Dr. Robert Hirschfield, who spoke to her by phone late last year —was read at the inquest.

“She was doing well, she was not drinking, she was a little sad on Christmas Day … no thoughts of suicide,” he said.

The court heard that O’Riordan had struggled with bipolar disorder and drinking problems. In September 2017, she wrote a suicide note while drinking heavily and taking lorazepam.

O’Riordan, who was born in Limerick in 1971, joined The Cranberries — then called the Cranberry Saw Us — in 1990, and performed with them until 2003, when they took a break.

Her distinctive voice helped make the group hugely successful on both sides of the Atlantic.

Their hits began with the song ”Linger,” which reached the Top 10 in the US and Ireland, and No. 14 in the UK. Other favorites included “Dream” and “Zombie.”

When her body was found, she had been in the capital to record a cover of “Zombie” with the hard rockers Bad Wolves.

O’Riordan is survived by her three children, Taylor Baxter, Molly Leigh and Dakota Rain, from her relationship with ex-husband Don Burton, Duran Duran’s tour manager.

With Post wires

https://pagesix.com/2018/09/06/cranberries-singer-dolores-oriordan-died-by-drowning/?_ga=2.98947352.765024762.1536067258-177237956.1502210845

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(Study funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation)

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FILE - In a Sunday, March 5, 2006, file photo, actor Philip Seymour Hoffman poses with the Oscar he won for best actor for his work in "Capote" at the 78th Academy Awards, in Los Angeles. Police say Hoffman has been found dead in his apartment. (AP Photo/Kevork Djansezian, File)

Actor Philip Seymour Hoffman poses with the Oscar he won for best actor for his work in “Capote” at the 78th Academy Awards, in Los Angeles, March 5, 2006. (AP Photo/Kevork Djansezian, File)

philip-seymour-hoffman-fune.jpg

The casket carrying actor Philip Seymour Hoffman leaves the funeral service, Friday, 7 February 2014. Getty Images

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Rock Stars and Addiction

Jim Morrison is the fourth in our Rock Stars And Addiction series, the others being Amy WinehouseKurt Cobain, and Jimi Hendrix in that order. It’s unknown whether he suffered from any mental illnesses or addiction, and even issues with drugs and alcohol were unknown. It is now thought that Morrison died of heroin overdose, but there are many conspiracy theories that surround his death.

Clockwise: Kurt Cobain, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin and Amy Winehouse, who have died at 27; the study suggested that most musicians live well beyond that age

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Clockwise: Kurt Cobain, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin and Amy Winehouse, who have died at 27; the study suggested that most musicians live well beyond that age Photo: Rex/AP

A Brief History Of Jim Morrison

Jim Morrison was born in Florida, but frequently moved as his father was in the Navy. After graduating high school, he attended UCLA film school, and finished his degree there in 1965. After that, he lived a rather unusual lifestyle and live on the rooftop of a building where a fellow UCLA alumni lived. It was there that he began writing lyrics that would later become known as Doors songs. It has been mentioned that he lived on “beans and LSD”, implying that he ate very little and mostly just tripped on acid.

That summer, he started a band with Ray Manzarek, whom he had met at UCLA. The Doors got their name from Aldous Huxley’s book The Doors of Perception, which is about psychedelic drug use.

Jim Morrison’s Possible Drug Overdose

Morrison and his long-term partner Pamela Courson were known to have rented an apartment in Paris, where they were staying when she found Morrison dead in the bathtub. The official cause of death was noted as heart failure, but no autopsy was performed. The lack of an autopsy is unusual and has opened up many questions regarding how he died. According to Danny Sugerman, Courson told him that Morrison had died of an accidental heroin overdose, snorting it thinking it was cocaine. He also said that Courson had told many stories, including that his death was her fault, or that she had outright killed him. Alain Ronay wrote that Morrison died of a hemorrhage, supporting Courson’s accidental overdose story. Ronay said that Morrison snorted Courson’s heroin, and that Courson “nodded off” instead of calling for an ambulance, and that he died bleeding to death alone.

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Jim Morrison

Ronay confessed in an interview that he helped cover up Morrison’s death. He said there was no autopsy because they bribed the coroner. Sugerman wrote that Courson lied in her deposition and told police that Morrison never took drugs. She also didn’t mention her relationship with Courson, telling them instead that she was his cousin.

One story is that Ronay and Agnes Varda arrived at the house shortly after Morrison’s death. Courson told them that he and her had taken heroin and had been drinking wine all night. Morrison started coughing badly, took a bath, and vomited blood. Courson claimed that he looked better and so she went to sleep. Later, when she woke, Morrison was unresponsive and she called her friends.

Sugerman also wrote that Morrison had respiratory issues and asthma, and was suffering from a condition that caused chronic cough and vomiting blood. The remaining members of The Doors claimed that MOrrison had been having an issue with coughing up blood for as much as the two months prior to his death, however it is known that they weren’t even in Paris at the time, and no other friends of his acknowledged that he had a noticeable cough.

Sugerman was also known to have written that a fake death theory isn’t “as farfetched as it may seem.” Fans were known to stalk surviving loved ones of Morrison, causing them quite a bit of distress. The fans were seeking evidence that Morrison was still alive. This theory is preposterous as no evidence was ever provided to support that statement, not even by Sugerman himself.

Just recently, in 2014, Marianne Faithfull mentioned in an interview that her boyfriend at the time, a drug dealer, had killed Morrison. The boyfriend was supposedly also dating Courson, and provided her with drugs. Faithfull claims that the same heroin that killed Morrison also killed Talitha Getty, just 11 days later in Rome.

Sam Bernett, who managed a nightclub called Rock ’n’ Roll Circus, wrote a book that claims Morrison had died in his nightclub, again, as a result of heroin overdose. He alleges that Morrison had attended the club intending to buy heroin for Courson, but used some in the bathroom and never made it out. Supposedly, his body was moved from the club bathroom to Morrison’s apartment by a couple of drug dealers. However, there is no evidence of this and no other witnesses.

Unfortunately, we may never know what actually happened, however it is most widely accepted that he died of heart failure from a heroin overdose. He was 27 years old, and thus, another member of the 27 club.

Courson died only a few years later of heroin overdose, and was known to participate in other recreational drug use as well.

End The Stigma

Mental illness and drug addiction often come with a large negative stigma, especially here in the United States. People who are depressed or anxious are told to “just deal with it.” People with addiction are seen as curse on our culture and the society as a whole. The strange thing is, when we look at someone with a disease like diabetes or cancer, we don’t see them a problem; we have pity. We feel bad for them. People raise money to help other people with these conditions while we’re all kicking the drug addicts out of our homes instead of helping them.

If there had been no negative stigma against addiction, people like Jim Morrison could still be alive. Instead of trying to hide their addiction, ultimately making it worse due to not seeking treatment, they would have been able to openly tell their loved ones “I have a problem and I need help.” Without the negative stigma, those loved ones would immediately have jumped to make sure everything is taken care of and they get their life back on track.

If you think your loved one is addicted to a substance, or perhaps is suffering from a behavioral addiction, don’t treat them badly for it. Addiction is a disease. Help them seek the proper medical treatment for addiction.