Largest Health Care Fraud Enforcement Action in United States History

apothecary-pharmacy-chemist-mortar-and-pestle-39522On July 13, 2013, Attorney General Jeff Sessions and the Department of Health and Human Services announced the largest ever health care fraud enforcement action by the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, involving 412 charged defendants (including doctors, nurses, and other licensed medical professional) for alleged health care fraud schemes. Of the 412 defendants, over 120 of those were charged for their roles in prescribing and distributing opioids and other controlled substances.

The charges were for medically unnecessary prescription drugs and medications that were never purchased or distributed but were billed to Medicare, Medicaid, or Tricare (insurance for military personnel, Veterans, and their families). The charges had a particular focus on medical professionals involved in unlawful distribution of opioids and other controlled substances.

In one case, nine defendants were charged with prescribing medically unnecessary controlled substances, some of which were sold on the street, and billing Medicare for one hundred and sixty-four million dollars for medically unnecessary services or services that were not provided. In another case, a physician and clinic owner were indicted on one count of conspiracy to distribute and dispense controlled substances and three substantive counts of distribution of controlled substances in connection with a supposed pain management clinic that is said to have been the highest prescribing Norco clinic in Houston. There are similar charges made to defendants in Connecticut, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, and other states.

Approximately 91 Americans die every day of an opioid related overdose and the United States is in the middle of an unprecedented opioid epidemic. It is good news if some of the individuals responsible for contributing to this major and deadly health issue are put out of business.

If you, or someone you know, needs assistance in withdrawing from drugs or alcohol or treatment for addiction please contact the New Bridge Foundation’s admissions department at 800-785-2400 for a free assessment.

Death of Nelsan Ellis Saddens Entertainment Industry

The entertainment industry was saddened by the unexpected death of “True Blood” actor Nelsan Ellis on July 8, 2017.

On July 10, 2017, Ellis’s family revealed that he had died as a result of attempting to withdraw from alcohol on his own, without medical supervision.flowers-marguerites-destroyed-dead

In a statement released through Ellis’s manager to the Hollywood Reporter, it was reported that, “Nelsan had suffered with drug and alcohol abuse for years.”

Many people are not aware of the danger of alcohol withdrawal which is more dangerous than opiate withdrawal and can lead to death. According to research between 5 and 25 percent of people who go through extreme alcohol withdrawal die. A hospital or treatment program that supplies medical interventions is the safest way to detox from drugs or alcohol.

Ellis’ family’s statement also stated that, “Nelsan was ashamed of his addiction and thus was reluctant to talk about it during his life. His family however, believes that in death he would want his life to serve as a cautionary tale in an attempt to help others.”

If you or someone you know, needs assistance in withdrawing from drugs or alcohol or treatment for addiction please contact the New Bridge Foundation’s admissions department at 800-785-2400 for a free assessment.

How to Choose a Drug & Alcohol Treatment Center

pexels-photo-164531 2hand two piecsChoosing the right drug and alcohol treatment center can be one of the most important decisions you will make in regards to you or your loved one’s health. While it is true, that not all doctors have the same level of expertise and competency, the same can be said for treatment facilities. Treatment centers can differ greatly in regards to program components, cost, effectiveness, and staff training and qualifications. The process of finding help can be difficult, scary, and overwhelming. Here are some questions and considerations to assist you in your search.

  • Is there a multi-disciplinary staff including physicians, healthcare providers, mental health practitioners, and certified drug and alcohol counselors?
  • Does the treatment center use evidence-based practices?
  • Does the treatment center treat individuals with co-occurring disorders (also known as dual diagnosis)?
  • Is the center “in-network” with your insurance company? If, not what will be the expense to you?
  • Does the facility have different program options?
  • Does the facility have the appropriate state license?
  • Does the program have a family component? If so, what does it consist of?
  • Does the program have people in recovery on staff?
  • Is the program accredited by the Joint Commission or CARF (The Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities)?
  • Does the program pay attention to health and wellness, including exercise?
  • What is offered in regards to continuing care?

Please feel confident to ask appropriate questions of the New Bridge Foundation facility, with the expectation of receiving clear and concise answers at 800-785-2400.

The admissions staff will be friendly, helpful and available. They’ll be able to schedule an free assessment appointment for you within a few days of your inquiry. If you feel it would be helpful, it is also fine to request a tour of the facility. Above all, be a good consumer and trust your intuition and instincts. Your life or the life of your loved one is at stake. We’re located in Berkeley, California.

Yoga for Drug & Alcohol Addiction Recovery

yoga girlsMore and more people are discovering the benefits of yoga for those individuals who are seeking recovery from addiction. Roy King, PhD, MD from Stanford University has studied the biological impact of yoga on drug abuse. What he found is that by inhibiting the dopamine impulse, which addicts get from using, yoga helps to inhibit cravings and the emotional shifts that trigger drug use. Dr. Mary Margaret Frederick, of New York University found that yoga treats the biology and the psychology of an addict, by helping people regain control of their bodies and their minds.

Yoga has many potential benefits that include; stress relief, increased physical stamina, self-reflection and increased self-awareness, healthier exercise and eating habits, heightened self-confidence, pain relief, sleep benefits, increased energy, emotional healing, and overall health and wellness improvements.

When someone has been abusing drugs and alcohol regularly, some of the brain’s pathways are altered. This can affect one’s ability to regulate emotions, make decisions, and control impulses. Abstinence can help the brain’s chemistry to heal and rebuild itself and yoga has been found to be helpful in this process. Harvard Health has reported that there is scientific evidence showing a link between practicing yoga and the reduction of stress. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine reported on a study that showed an increase in the levels of gamma-amino butyric acid (GABA), a kind of natural tranquilizer, with the practice of yoga techniques.

Yoga has been found to help prevent relapse, reduce withdrawal symptoms and drug and alcohol cravings while providing spirituality and new coping skills. Countless individuals have discovered the benefits of yoga while beginning their recovery in the over twenty years that New Bridge has been providing yoga to its clients.

Call us today at 800-785-2400 for a free assessment.

May 2017 is National Mental Health Awareness Month

President Trump has declared May 2017 as National Mental Health Awareness Month.

nina with florThe proclamation recognizes the millions of American families affected by mental illness and calls to redouble our efforts to ensure that people who suffer can get the care and the treatment they need. The proclamation reports that nearly 10 million Americans suffer from a serious mental illness such a schizophrenia, bi-polar disorder, or major depression. It also points out that addressing substance abuse, addiction, and overdose is often critical to improving outcomes for the mentally ill since it is estimated that 8.1 million adults in America suffer from both mental illness and substance abuse. Plainly put, individuals with a mental health diagnosis are more likely to have substance abuse problems than the general population.

The link between mental illness and substance use disorders is well known and well established. 51% of individuals with bi-polar disorder have experienced drug or alcohol addiction in their lifetime. About half of those diagnosed with schizophrenia have substance abuse problems and 20% of individuals with major depression also have drug or alcohol problems. Additionally, there is a high correlation between suicide and substance abuse.

Experts agree that if you or a family member are suffering from what is called a co-occurring disorder (both a mental health and substance use disorder diagnosis), previously referred to as a dual diagnosis, then it is extremely important to pick professionals and providers who specialize in treating both mental health and substance use issues. Integrated treatment which includes collaboration across disciplines and treatment planning which addresses both the mental illness and the substance abuse is recommended by SAMHSA (Substance Abuse Mental Health Administration). Additionally, the use of evidence–based practices are now recognized as imperative in treating both mental health and substance use diagnoses.

New Bridge Foundation has long had a multi-disciplinary team that utilizes evidence-based practices. Additionally, New Bridge has received from the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities their highest accreditation for integrated mental health and substance abuse.

If you or someone you love has substance abuse problems please contact New Bridge Foundation today for a free assessment at (800) 785-2400 or email us here.

Sexual Assault and Substance Abuse

women and birdsSurvivors of sexual violence process trauma in a variety of ways, ranging from rage and grief to apathy and disassociation; it is important to understand that there is not one pattern of response to a sexual assault. Subsequently, individuals who experience sexual assault are at much higher risk of developing substance abuse issues.

Research shows that as many as two thirds of people in drug and alcohol treatment facilities have experienced some degree of physical or sexual abuse during childhood. Additionally, 70-80% of survivors of sexual violence report having to battle with substance abuse issues following their assault. One study found that 50% people who have experienced sexual trauma showed symptoms of PTSD following the assault, and that 30% of those individuals were still affected by PTSD 9 months later – that number is on par with the percentage of soldiers who experienced PTSD after returning from Vietnam (31%). It is common knowledge that people who suffer from PTSD are likely to turn to drugs and alcohol to self-medicate.

Although every individual responds differently, if you believe that you or someone you know may have been assaulted, the common feelings that may occur after experiencing sexual violence are:

  • Emotional numbness
  • Denial
  • Concern for the offender
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Disturbed sleep/nightmares
  • Shame/guilt
  • Fear
  • Anger
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Increased drug and alcohol use

Whether you experienced sexual abuse two weeks ago, or two decades ago, it is never too late to seek help. Immediate crisis intervention and long-term counseling can be invaluable to a survivor, and aid in recovery from mental health and substance abuse issues. There are organizations in nearly every city that specialize in serving those who have been victimized by sexual violence. RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network) is an excellent place to begin looking for resources.

If you or someone you love has substance abuse problem please, contact New Bridge Foundation today for a free assessment.

 

April Is Alcoholism Awareness Month

Rotwein FlascheApril is Alcohol Awareness month. Established in 1987 by the National Council on Alcohol and Drug Dependence (NCADD) to help reduce the stigma associated with alcoholism by sharing information and education on alcohol abuse and recovery every April.

Alcoholism, can be evidenced by a loss of control such as not being able to stop drinking once you have started, physical dependence with includes withdrawal symptoms, and tolerance which is defined as the need to drink greater amounts of alcohol to achieve the same “high.”

Alcoholism is viewed as a disease and the craving to drink; an alcoholic feels they can be very strong. Those plagued with an alcohol use issue will continue to drink despite, serious family, social, health, or legal consequences.

The following are a list of frequently asked questions in regards to alcohol abuse and alcoholism:

  1. Is alcoholism inherited?
  2. There is evidence to suggest that genetics plays a part in the development of alcoholism. Genes clearly do contribute and research indicates that multiple genes play a role in a person’s risk of developing alcohol use disorder. Having said that lifestyle is certainly also a factor.
  3. Can alcoholism be cured?
  4. No alcoholism is not curable.
  5. Can alcoholism be treated?
  6. There is significant evidence that shows that treatment is effective and recovery is possible. With support and treatment, many people are able to stop drinking and rebuild their lives.
  7. Can a problem drinker just cut down?
  8. This is a solution that rarely works. Abstaining from alcohol is typically the best course of action.
  9. Who is at risk for becoming an alcoholic? Alcoholism affects all genders, races, and nationalities. Approximately 17% of men and 8% of women will be dependent on alcohol in their lifetime. Alcohol problems are highest among young adults 18-29.
  10. How can you tell if someone has an alcohol problem?
  11. Answering the following questions can help you find out if you or a loved one has a drinking problem.
  • Have you ever felt you should cut down on your drinking?
  • Have people annoyed you by criticizing your drinking?
  • Have you had a drink in the morning to steady your nerves or get rid of a hangover?
  • Have you had problems connected to your drinking in the past year?
  • Have you experienced blackouts?

One yes answer suggests you may have an alcohol problem. Please consult with a doctor or healthcare provider.

Alcoholism is a major health problem in the United States. Long-term alcohol use can cause serious health consequences and can affect every organ in your body, including your brain. 88,000 deaths a year are attributed to excessive alcohol use. If you or someone you love has an alcohol problem, contact New Bridge Foundation today for a free assessment.

America’s Opioid Drug Epidemic

head over hoodIt is now well documented, and publicized, that the United States is in the midst of a terrible and fatal opioid drug epidemic. On March 29, 2017, it was announced that New Jersey governor Chris Christie will lead a new national opioid commission whose task will be to figure out ways to fight the opioid epidemic.

In 2015, more than 52,000 people died of drug overdoses, nearly two-thirds of which were linked to opioids. This constitutes more deaths from overdoses than from any other time in American history. Vox, an American news and opinion website, listed, 15 facts that you may not be aware of about this crisis.

  • Drug overdoses now kill more people than gun violence and car crashes combined
  • Opioids deaths are on the rise
  • Opioid overdoses are one reason US life expectancy declined for the first time in decades
  • The epidemic is much worse in some states than others (West Virginia, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Ohio) to name a few
  • By and large, the drug overdose epidemic has hit white Americans hardest
  • Americans consume more opioids than any other country
  • In some states, doctors have filed out more painkiller prescriptions than there are people
  • Drug companies have made a lot of money from opioids
  • Americans are reporting greater levels of pain (chronic pain)
  • Painkillers are often prescribed for long periods of time, even though there is no evidence they effectively treat chronic pain
  • States are now cracking down on opioid prescriptions
  • Heroin is cheap, making it an easy alternative for painkillers
  • Fentanyl has become a growing problem
  • Anti-anxiety medications are involved in more overdoses as well

Most people who meet the definition for a drug use disorder don’t get treatment. It is clear that the United States has a tremendous fight ahead when it comes to combating this horrific problem which has cost so many their lives and devastated families and communities.

We’re Here to Help
The experienced and compassionate staff at New Bridge Foundation, in Berkeley, California can help you or your loved one recover from heroin and fentanyl addiction issues: Click Here to contact us or Call (800) 785-2400

Grief And Addiction Recovery

woman grievingAs we all know, grief is a common reaction to the loss of a loved one. How people grieve and for how long differs and is often defined by their culture. Grieving is a natural reaction that is meant to assist in accepting the loss of a loved one.

However, research has been done that indicates a difference between the normal grief process and what is called complicated or abnormal grief. A normal grief reaction includes shock, denial, numbness, anger, depression, with ultimate acceptance. Complicated or prolonged grief occurs when the normal responses are absent, excessive, distorted or never ending. Individuals who have lost their loved ones to a traumatic death (such as suicide or overdose) or individuals with a psychiatric history, multiple stressors, emotional dependency or substance abuse issues are at greater risk of developing a complicated grief reaction.

Complicated grief is usually defined by a prolonged grieving process that over time impacts the individual’s ability to function well. Tomlinson and Kline (2004) outlined the following warning signs of complicated grief; absence of grief, persistent blame or guilt, aggression, antisocial or destructive acts, suicidal thoughts or actions, unwillingness to speak of the deceased, prolonged dysfunction at school/work, exhibiting proneness to accidents and engaging in addictive behaviors.

If grief is severely impacting you or someone you love, it is important to consider seeking professional help from someone who is trained in the treatment of loss.

We Can Help With Treating Grief and Loss
The experienced and compassionate staff at New Bridge Foundation, in Berkeley, California can help you or your loved one recover from grief related addiction issues: Click Here to Contact Us or Call (800) 785-2400

Guidance of the Stars

Ben Affleck should be commended for his Facebook post on March 14, 2017, that announced that he had completed 30 days of treatment for alcohol addiction. Affleck who had been to rehab in 2001 hollywood signstated, “ I want my kids to know there is no shame in getting help when you need it, and to be a source of strength for anyone out there who needs help but is afraid to take the first step.” The post stated, “I have completed treatment for alcohol addiction something I have dealt with in the past and will continue to confront. I want to live life to the fullest and be the best father I can be. This was the first of many steps being taken towards a positive recovery.” He additionally thanked family and friends including his wife Jennifer Garner for their support.

It is well known that when celebrities and famous people disclose their medical issues publicly, it benefits the public. Former First Lady, Betty Ford was one of the first people to disclose her struggles with alcoholism to the public and thus did a tremendous amount to help destigmatize the problem. After Angelina Jolie disclosed that she had the BRCA1 gene for Breast Cancer, genetic testing for the disease increased. The same was true when Katie Couric’s husband died from Colon Cancer. After his publicized death, screenings for the disease increased and the death rate decreased.

Hopefully, Affleck’s post will inspire those individuals struggling with addiction to seek help and will lead to improved lives for individuals with chemical dependency issues and their families.

If you or a loved one would like a free assessment. Please contact The New Bridge Foundation @ 1-800-785-2400