Rebuilding A Family Fractured By Parental Substance Abuse

Every day, families face addiction and the hardships it creates. As a parent with a partner who suffers from addiction, the heartbreak can seem unfairly punishing. Watching your kids suffer while also witnessing the entire family’s relationship deteriorate with your significant other can make you feel helpless and hopeless. You know your priority is your kids, but the mix of anger, disappointment, regret, and love you feel for your partner is an almost unbearable weight.

There Are No Winners

The sad truth is that there are no winners in families dealing with addiction, regardless of who has the dependency issues. Your children may be in the most difficult position of all, because they are not empowered to change anything about their circumstances. Picking up the pieces when your spouse succumbs to addiction means taking on your children’s heartbreak along with your own. It can also mean taking the blame for the separation in the eyes of your children if they aren’t able to process what is actually happening.

It is important not to overprotect your children from the truth. Not disclosing their other parent’s shortcomings, be it rehabilitation, legal issues, or an unexplained departure, can lead to distrust.

Continue reading here.

What Science Says To Do If Your Loved One Has An Opioid Addiction

When a family member, spouse or other loved one develops an opioid addiction — whether to pain relievers like Vicodin or to heroin — few people know what to do. Faced with someone who appears to be driving heedlessly into the abyss, families often fight, freeze or flee, unable to figure out how to help.

Families are sometimes overwhelmed with conflicting advice about what should come next. Much of the advice given by treatment groups and programs ignores what the data says in a similar way that anti-vaccination or climate skeptic websites ignore science. The addictions field is neither adequately regulated nor effectively overseen. There are no federal standards for counseling practices or rehab programs. In many states, becoming an addiction counselor doesn’t require a high school degree or any standardized training. “There’s nothing professional about it, and it’s not evidence-based,” said Dr. Mark Willenbring, the former director of treatment research at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, who now runs a clinic that treats addictions.

Consequently, families are often given guidance that bears no resemblance to what the research evidence shows — and patients are commonly subjected to treatment that is known to do harm. People who are treated as experts firmly proclaim that they know what they are doing, but often turn out to base their care entirely on their own personal and clinical experience, not data. “Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew,” which many people see as an example of the best care available, for instance, used an approach that is not known to be effective for opioid addiction. More than 13 percent of its participants died after treatment,1 mainly of overdoses that could potentially have been prevented with evidence-based care. Unethical practices such as taking kickbacks for patient referrals are also rampant.

Continue reading here.

Addiction Affects Men’s & Women’s Brains Totally Differently: Here’s What You Need To Know

Anyone can get hooked on drugs and alcohol, but addiction isn’t gender-blind. When it comes to how substance abuse can affect your brain, your gender matters—regardless of whether the “drug of choice” is cocaine, heroin, alcohol, or another substance.

Mounting scientific evidence attests to this gender disparity in how addiction affects men’s and women’s brains, starting with more recent findings into the neurological effects of stimulants. What follows are key highlights of these findings.

According to a 2015 study published in the journal Radiology, long-term abuse of stimulants like cocaine, amphetamines, and/or methamphetamines has a distinct impact on the brains of men and women. In the study, researchers from the University of Colorado Denver School of Medicine examined the structural brain magnetic imaging (MRI) scans of men and women who had been using stimulants for nearly 16 years and who were similar in age. The researchers were then able to compare these scans to those for healthy men and women without a drug abuse problem.

Continue reading by clicking here.

What’s the definition of addiction?

An addiction is a chronic dysfunction of the brain system that involves reward, motivation, and memory. It’s about the way your body craves a substance or behavior, especially if it causes a compulsive or obsessive pursuit of “reward” and lack of concern over consequences.

Someone experiencing an addiction will:

  • be unable stay away from the substance or stop the addictive behavior
  • display a lack of self-control
  • have an increased desire for the substance or behavior
  • dismiss how their behavior may be causing problems
  • lack an emotional response

Over time, addictions can seriously interfere with your daily life. People experiencing addiction are also prone to cycles of relapse and remission. This means they may cycle between intense and mild use. Despite these cycles, addictions will typically worsen over time. They can lead to permanent health complications and serious consequences like bankruptcy.

That’s why it’s important for anyone who is experiencing addiction to seek help. Call 800-622-4357 for confidential and free treatment referral information, if you or someone you know has an addiction. This number is for The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). They’ll be able to provide more information, including guidance on prevention and mental and substance use disorders.

Continue reading more here.

Is Marijuana an Effective Substitute for Opioids?

We wanted to make sure you had seen four key studies from the past week:
  • groundbreaking study in The Lancet found that marijuana use over four years actually made it harder for patients to cope with chronic pain, and did not reduce their use of opioids.
  • study in Frontiers in Psychiatry found that increasing self-exposure to non-medical marijuana was a predictor of greater odds of opioid dependence diagnosis.
  • study in the International Review of Psychiatry found an increased rate of serious mental illness in states that had legalized medical marijuana.
  • In JAMA: “(The) associated acute and long-term psychoactive effects on brain function (of marijuana) are…known. Expanding use of cannabis among pregnant and lactating women (as likely will occur with legalization) may lead to increased risk from fetal and child exposures if the teratogenic potential of cannabis remains underappreciated.”
Additional Resources on Link Between Marijuana and Opioids
These articles follow other warnings from medical professionals: the recent editorial published in the Journal of the Society for the Study of Addiction, which cautions against drawing policy conclusions from population studies, and the editorial comment from the American Society of Addiction Medicine on February 20, 2018. And don’t forget NIDA’s rigorous study showing pot users are twice as likely to have abused opioids and have an opioid use disorder than non-marijuana users.
SAM has published a one-pager describing the overwhelming link between marijuana and opioid abuse. While not every marijuana user will go on to use heroin, nearly all heroin users previously abused marijuana. We need smart policies that discourage use, get people back on their feet, and restore people to participate in and contribute to society. States that have legalized marijuana, by contrast, see increased drugged driving, increased arrests of minority youth, and increased emergency room visits. Colorado is experiencing the highest number of drug overdoses in its history. Legalization is a failed experiment.
Please visit to learn about a smarter approach.

Which doctors can recommend medical marijuana in Ohio? Search our database

Anyone who wants to use medical marijuana in Ohio must first be approved and registered by a licensed Ohio physician who has been certified to recommend cannabis by the Ohio State Medical Board.

The medical board approves “certificates to recommend” marijuana at its monthly meetings. will keep an updated list of all certified doctors as they are approved.

Is your doctor on the list? Are there doctors in your area who can recommend medical marijuana?

To read more, click here.

Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol in 1934 or Skip to 2018?

Marijuana advocates who call for cannabis to be regulated like alcohol are probably unaware of all of the development and trial and error that got us to where we are today with alcohol regulation. We have learned a lot about what works and what doesn’t. We now have a great deal of research to help us solve problems and design systems. For example, in the past many states dropped the age limit for alcohol purchase to 18 or 19. After this change, alcohol was a factor in two-thirds of traffic deaths of 16-20 year olds. After the drinking age was raised to 21 nationwide, fatalities were cut in half. Research tells us that regular use of alcohol damages the developing adolescent brain; something we didn’t know as much about before sophisticated brain imaging was developed.

Yet, rather than going slow with a very limited program of regulated sale of marijuana, advocates would have us gallop full speed ahead to full-blown commercialization.  The alcohol regulation that the marijuana legalization folks want to copy comes in large part from the seminal work funded by John D. Rockefeller entitled Toward Liquor Control (recently reprinted by the Center for Alcohol Policy).  There is no similar research work guiding marijuana regulation.

Click here to look at some of the parallels and lessons learned.

Solutions over partisanship. . .

With opioids flooding the streets of Ohio and overdoses happening daily, local law enforcement is looking for ways to detect the deadly drugs earlier while keeping officers safe.

A new high-tech handheld device aims to do just that. Ohio Senators Brown and Portman announced last week a bipartisan bill that would provide grants to purchase the drug-detection devices for local law-enforcement agencies and first responders.

These devices use laser technology to test for thousands of substances often without actually coming in contact with the suspected substance. The result being that field testing can be come less risky and yield quicker test results.

We congratulate Senators Portman and Brown for crossing party lines to address a growing and dangerous concern for those on the frontlines of the opiate epidemic.

Working together to find solutions is one of the best defenses we have. It is important to let our legislators and congress know when they are doing something right. Encouragement and appreciation can go a long way.

Prevention Action Alliance


New Study Finds One in Four 12th Graders More Likely to Use Marijuana If Legalized

Monitoring The Future Study Finds Percentage of 12th Graders Admitting They Would Use Marijuana Reaching Levels Never Before Seen in 43-Year History

More 12th graders than ever admitted they would use marijuana if it were legal, according to new numbers from the largest drug use survey in the United States. Specifically, one in four 12th graders thought that they would try marijuana, or that their use would increase, if marijuana were legalized. Prevalence of annual marijuana use also rose by a significant 1.3 percentage points to 23.9% in 2017, based on data from 8th, 10th, and 12th grades combined.

The survey reported “a greater proportion of youth than ever predicted they would use marijuana if it were legally available. Historic highs over the 43 years of the study were reached in the percentage of 12th grade students who reported that they would try marijuana if it were legal (15.2%), as well as users who reported that they would use it more often than their current level of use (10.1%). The percentage who reported they would not use marijuana even if it were legal significantly declined to less than 50% for the first time ever over the 43-year life of the study (specifically, to 46.5%).”

Overall, the rate of 12th graders saying they would not use marijuana if it were legalized fell 30% in the last ten years. Additionally, the rate of 12th graders who said they would use more marijuana if it were legal increased by almost 100% in the past decade. These changes are also significant when comparing rates from 2016. Marijuana sales are now allowed in eight states and D.C.

“These findings fly in the face of the Big Marijuana argument that somehow fewer young people will use marijuana if it is legalized,” said Dr. Kevin Sabet, founder and president of Smart Approaches to Marijuana. “These data are clear. As more states move to commercialize, legalize, and normalize marijuana – more young people are going to use today’s super-strength drug.”

The survey reported that “it is likely that the growing number of states that have legalized recreational marijuana use for adults plays a role in the increasing tolerance of marijuana use among 12th grade students, who may interpret increasing legalization as a sign that marijuana use is safe and state-sanctioned.”

Interestingly, the survey also found that 17% of 12th graders today believe that their parents would not disapprove of marijuana use. This is almost double that of the 8% average from the late 1970’s.

The 2017 Monitoring the Future survey, compiled by researchers at the University of Michigan and funded by the National Institutes of Health, is the benchmark for student drug use in the United States.

According to the survey, the combination of low levels of perceived risk when it comes to using marijuana and the low disapproval for regular use sets the stage for “potentially substantial” increases in the use of the substance in the future. In 2017 the proportion of 12th graders who favor legalization of marijuana was at the highest level ever recorded, at 49%.

“This survey confirms what public health advocates have long claimed: as more is done to make THC candies, cookies, sodas, concentrates look innocent and safe, young people are more attracted to them and hold favorable views of them,” said Dr. Sabet. “In states that have loosened their marijuana laws youth use is steadily rising. This is a trend that will continue if we do not pump the brakes on this failed experiment.”


About SAM

Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM) is a nonpartisan, non-profit alliance of physicians, policy makers, prevention workers, treatment and recovery professionals, scientists, and other concerned citizens opposed to marijuana legalization who want health and scientific evidence to guide marijuana policies. SAM has affiliates in more than 30 states. For more information about marijuana use and its effects, visit

America’s 150-Year Opioid Epidemic

After the death of her father, a prominent hotel owner in Seattle, Ella Henderson started taking morphine to ease her grief. She was 33 years old, educated and intelligent, and she frequented the upper reaches of Seattle society. But her “thirst for morphine” soon “dragged her down to the verge of debauchery,” according to a newspaper article in 1877 titled “A Beautiful Opium Eater.” After years of addiction, she died of an overdose.

In researching opium addiction in late-19th-century America, I’ve come across countless stories like Henderson’s. What is striking is how, aside from some Victorian-era moralizing, they feel so familiar to a 21st-century reader: Henderson developed an addiction at a vulnerable point in her life, found doctors who enabled it and then self-destructed. She was just one of thousands of Americans who lost their lives to addiction between the 1870s and the 1920s.

The late-19th-century opiate epidemic was nearly identical to the one now spreading across the United States. Back then, doctors began to prescribe a profitable and effective drug — morphine, taken via hypodermic needle — too liberally. After a decade of overprescribing it for minor ailments and even for issues related to mental illness, a colony of American junkies began to emerge.

Read the rest of the opinion here.