Take Better Control Of Pain Management

Codeine withdrawal and dependence may be on the increase but better pain management treatments are available.

As of February 2018, codeine-based medications will no longer be available in Australia without a prescription. Already 25 other countries have restricted access to codeine as it is highly addictive and can cause hospitalisation, organ damage and even death if misused. When consumed, codeine can routinely converted to morphine in the body in order for it to be an effective painkiller. In one instance of codeine addiction, a person was taking 20 or more codeine-based tablets a day. Now pain management advocates are calling for safer and more effective approaches to pain control for Australians to replace over-the-counter codeine. Health experts estimate about one in five people could be dependant on low-dose, codeine-based preparations. Those high dependency rates were the main reason for restricting access to codeine but, with the restrictions now in place, many people may now be experiencing withdrawal. Some people may even not have been aware they have a problem and will also require support and help.

Australia’s leading national advocacy body Painaustralia say better pain management options need to be more readily available. Painaustralia chief executive Carol Bennett says that effective pain management requires more than just often it isn’t just a tablet.

“We know that codeine has proven to be ineffective in treating many chronic pain conditions and can also be addictive and harmful,” Ms. Bennett said. “If someone has ongoing pain the best way to manage it is with a combination of strategies that suit the individual’s personal situation. Physiotherapy, daily exercise, behavioural changes, and rethinking pain with the help of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy are among the best pain management strategies.”

She said changes to codeine prescription won’t stop people who really require codeine from accessing it through proper diagnosis and prescription.

“However, we’re encouraging everyone to look into the best pain management for their situation – often it isn’t just a tablet. It’s important that people living with chronic pain are given all the options and are supported by their clinicians to be able to access the treatment that’s most appropriate for them.”

At Retreat South our approach is to help you break unhealthy, even harmful, attachments with pain relief.  Our specialist team is experienced in treating both addiction and pain management. Using psychotherapy, including Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, physical therapy, diet and more, you can discover new ways of working toward wellness and channel your energy into positive ways to manage your recovery and chronic ailments. If you have concerns about pain management call us today to talk with our team about how we can help you.

Finding Help For Fly-In-Fly-Out Workers

Depression, anxiety, relationship breakdown and are some of the issues facing fly-in-fly-out (or fifo) workers.

With the resources boom of the 1980s, mining has increased to remote parts of Australia and its surrounding oceans. Large scale industry like this requires large workforces. Instead of requiring workers to locate to relocate with their families to permanently live in isolated areas, workers are flown in and out to the areas where they live in especially provided accommodation during the work period.

These unusual working and living conditions can have a very damaging effect on employees.  The growing research into the isolation and other issues facing fly-in-fly-out workers hopes to better understand their experience and develop strategies to maintain the wellbeing of workers and their families.

What we already know is that men experiencing difficulties due to weeks, or even months of isolation in remote, worker communities. Fly-in-fly-out workers can miss family events like birthdays and anniversaries. Being able to telephone or skype with family cannot replace actually being there, especially with children. When workers are back with family, often they are exhausted and placed under additional stress by spending what is supposed to be time-out from their work with full days of family commitment. Partners also experience isolation and even resentment towards their fifo partner for the long absences. Children miss the important bonding

Some workers who admit to problems are reluctant to accept help and support for fear of being considered weak or not up to the job. That impacts on the existing stress and so workers need to develop strong goals to get them through the away period as well as build routines that include healthy diet, relaxation and how to overcome depression, anxiety and other mental health conditions.

Retreat South specialise in intensive one on one therapy programmes for depression, anxiety and even relationship problems. We are here to help people in exceptional situations like the fly-in-fly-out lifestyle by creating exceptional treatment programmes to address a variety of mental health and other problems.

Call us today to talk about how we can help you.

What No One Tells You About Binge Drinking

Binge drinking and alcohol abuse is something we think about when a national holiday like Australia Day can often be used as an excuse to drink to excess.

In Australia, it is still common to get drunk on occasions like the Australia Day long weekend. Alcohol abuse has serious effects on physical and mental health. Binge drinking also has negative effects on physical and mental health.

Drinking to excess is something that is something too easy to do. Health experts recommend adults have no more than two standard alcoholic drinks per day reduce lifetime risk of alcohol-related disease. Research also shows that one-in-five Australian adults regularly consume more than two standard drinks per day on average.

When younger people binge drink the effects can be more serious. Young people with mental health problems who get drunk on a regular basis risk changes to the parts of the brain that control long-term memory and decision making. The alcohol can also increase the severity and cause mood disorders and slow brain development. For youth who already suffer from a mental illness, their symptoms can be exacerbated by misusing alcohol.

Alcohol related problems are part of addiction cycle. Successful treatment and recovery comes from developing strategies to deal with situations that trigger addiction related behaviours. At Retreat South we take the every aspect of the person into consideration. Our aim is to give you the advice, support and practical assistance to build foster a healthier approach to life and relationships that help you make lasting change.

If you are thinking of breaking that cycle of addiction call us today to discuss how we can help you to a life with alcohol misuse.

Take The Plunge and Seek Treatment

Stigma stops us from seeking treatment for mental health problems. Fear of letting others know you have mental health problems like depression or anxiety is very real. The stigma surrounding mental health problems is gradually giving way and people in need can seek help before the consequences are too great.

The consequences of anxiety and depression have again had international attention when swimming great Michael Phelps revealed how severe anxiety and depression nearly drove him to suicide after the 2012 London Games.

Phelps revealed his own struggle with depression and to end the stigma surrounding metal health problems like depression..

Speaking at mental health conference in America he said would remain in his room for four days without food or sleep. For him, each Olympic Games lead to a major state of depression causing him to not want to be in the sport anymore or even to not want to be alive. Phelps’s first experience of Olympic Games in Athens in 2004 as a 15-year-old was also his first experience of depression.

Phelps also revealed his mental health issues led to him abuse drugs and alcohol when he was older. He also explained that stigma surrounding mental health problems like depression caused people to hide that they may be experiencing it.

“We’re supposed to be this big, macho, physically strong human beings, but this is not a weakness,” Phelps said. “We are seeking and reaching for help.”

“I think people actually finally understand it is real. People are talking about it and I think this is the only way that it can change.”

Timely advise from someone that we all know and should listen to. Understanding that mental health problems like depression are treatable and something many people experience is a step toward breaking down that stigma.

Yoga and moving into well-being in the new year

Exercise and physical activities and yoga are great things to do when the warmer months are here.

Summer is here in Australia and the Christmas period has past and we are off to a new year. Christmas time can be a difficult, stressful time for some. It is a time when some of us have to put on a festive, happy face. For some with mental health issues that can add to the problems they are already facing. We can feel under pressure to put our problems on hold. And to add more problems to those problems the professionals and organisations that lend help and support are sometimes closed for the season. People take holidays at this time of the year. people with mental health issues might not feel like taking a break or even be able to take a break.

But with Summer at least there is the possibility to do some things that can help with those issues. The longer and warmer days mean that there are more opportunities to take some exercise. In addition to exercise it might be good to explore some other physical activity. Yoga is a good one. It can be a good addition to exercise.. Exercise has shown to be helpful to mental health. Yoga is too. It reduces stress and can help focus our mind and deal with things like our mood or anxiety.

Like exercise, yoga can even help our bodies produce the brain chemicals that help with depression. It helps with blood circulation and breathing, both of which elegise our bodies. Exercise and yoga are essential parts of the treatments we combine with psychological treatments at Retreat South.

Now that Summer and the new year, maybe trying some exercise and yoga can be your promise to yourself for the new year.

Overcoming the need for alcohol to cope with anxiety

People with anxiety have used alcohol to lessen that anxiety. Having an alcoholic drink has been a great way to loose a few inhibitions, feel more sociable and just have more fun.

Alcohol effects brain chemicals like dopamine and serotonin in the brain, which lessen the  effect of anxiety.  But dealing with anxiety that way means that our brain expects the alcohol and the feel-good effect it brings and so dependency is then the issue

Dopamine and serotonin work in the part of our brain where neurotransmitters control feelings of pleasure and gratification by mimicing those neurotransmitters. The more that part of the brain is stimulated with, in this case alcohol, the more the brain craves it. It can then end up producing the anxiety that we might have been using alcohol to reduce in the first place.

If we and our brains become dependant on the alcohol, the serotonin or dopamine production decreases, then if the alcohol is not supplied regularly, the craving begins and one of the symptoms is anxiety.

So, a drink or two can be a good thing to reduce anxiety sometimes but not so great in the long-term.  That kind of addiction to alcohol can develop in young people who find it helpful in coping with anxiety and nervousness.

Researchers at Australia’s National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre have released a therapeutic tool to help young people overcome that need for alcohol. called Inroads, it is a free internet-based program specifically for people between 17 and 24 which works via computer, phone or tablet device. You can find out more about the Inroads programme here.

Anxiety problems can be a major cause alcohol dependence so someone with anxiety can run the risk of developing an addiction over time. So seeking treatment to break that cycle of of dependance is important. At Retreat South, we can help you find a path away from that cycle. Call us today to talk about how you can create your own path. A path to recovery.

Prescription medication misuse on the rise

Around one million Australians misused pharmaceuticals and medication over the last 12 months according to a report from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. The report indicates the number of Australians using opioids and benzodiazepines for non-medical reasons is on the increase.

The report, released on December 19, 2017 focussed on two main types of prescription drugs. One was opioid analgesics, pain relief medications like codine and morphine.The other was Benzodiazepines, tranquillisers like diazepam, valium and xanax used in treating anxiety and sleeplessness.

With 23 per cent – or 2.5 million – of prescriptions dispensed in 2014–15 being for codeine, that means about 6.8 per cent of the population were using opioids.

In some instances that misuse had fatal consequences according to Institute spokesperson Matthew James

“Over the past decade, there has been a substantial rise in the number of deaths involving a prescription drug, with drug-induced deaths more likely to be due to prescription drugs than illegal drugs,’ he said.

According to the report, the number of people older than 14 to have misused these drugs in the last year was 4.8 per cent. Benzodiazepines were the most common single drug type identified among the 1,808 drug induced deaths, accounting for 663 deaths in 2016. That is an increase of 3.7 per cent since 2007.

The misuse was higher than all illegal drugs, with only the exception of cannabis.

People misusing these products are the ones more likely to experience mental illness, chronic pain and experience high or very high levels of psychological distress, according to the report.

NSW Pharmacy Guild president David Heffernan responded to the report findings in the Australian Journal of Pharmacy saying it highlights the need for vigilance and better exchange of information between health professionals and the need for better post-hospitalisation reconciliation of medicine use—where many addictions arise.

With these distressing statistic it seems that finding a better path to post-hospitalisation recovery is an important issue. Chronic pain management can be a difficult are in a person’s recovery and require a multifaceted therapeutic approach. At Retreat South we combine physical therapy with more traditional psychotherapy as well as tog and meditation to address physical recovery.

Contact us today to see how we can help with issues around medication dependancy, chronic pain and other mental health issues.

Understanding Depression and treatment

Depression is by far the most commonly experienced mental health problem. Somewhere around 300 million people globally experience depression. While it may effect so many people, less than 50 per cent of those 300 million seek treatment.

That’s part of a bigger picture showing that mental health problems account for around half of all health problems but, even more alarmingly, only around a quarter of people get treatment.

Men are still in the highest statistically to go undiagnosed and treated. Older men in particular are the least likely to be in treatment year they are in the group that has the highest rate of mental health problems.

Because it is so widely experienced, Depression has been the subject of many studies. We know a lot more about it. It is something caused by brain function. Experts think certain parts of the brain help regulate mood.
So while there is still much to learn about brain function and its relationship to Depression, the conduction itself is much better understood.

But just how it is understood can be somewhat confusing. Many people with Depression might not be aware that they have it. How many of us know someone who might seem like they need to snap out of it and and apply themselves more? That could be someone experiencing depression and neither you or they know it. It isn’t something that you can ‘snap out of’ either.

But understanding that you or someone you know might have depression is an important step. Taking that means that the next step, finding help and support through medication and therapy, can take place. Like so many mental health issues, taking control is that process of taking a step a time. But awareness, about the problem and seeking treatment are vital steps on that path to recovery.

Poor mental health can shorten life expectancy

The part played by alcohol in relation to mental health problems has been under the spotlight for many years. Dependancy and addiction to alcohol or alcohol used to deal with mental health problems is a significant problem.

New research between Danish and Australian universities has experts recommending more holistic mental health treatment in light of the part alcohol related problems played in reduced life spans across the last two decades.

New research has found that men diagnosed with a mental health problem can live ten years less than men who are not. The research found that women with a mental health problem could have a seven year shorter life span.

The study used information from Danish medical records between 1994 and 2014. The study was a joint work between Australian and Danish experts. The study is hoped to be replicated using Australian medical information.

The researchers said the shorter life span is of concern as there has been significant efforts to promote better understanding of mental health issues over that same time. Although the mortality gap has stayed the same, causes of death have changed with conditions like diabetes and heart disease being of greater significance.

Alcohol related conditions have also played an increasingly greater role in deaths during that period. Alcohol has been found to be the cause for shorter life-spans among people with mental health conditions over the last 20 years.

The researchers called on governments to implement more holistic approaches to mental health saying medication is not enough.

If you are experiencing alcohol related mental health or any other mental health look at our resources page for some places to contact for support. If you are considering treatment, contact us to see how we can work with you to plan course of action to help you on the path to recovery.

Knowing when to seek mental health help

Because it is most likely that all people will experience some form of mental health issue during their life, knowing when it is time to seek help is important. Just as most people will experience mental health problems, most people who seek treatment for them will benefit from that therapy.

When do you know you might need to find some help for a mental health issue?

It might not be so obvious to you that you are experiencing mental health problems. It isn’t a case of suddenly going ‘crazy’ either but sometimes there are signs when you might need help. Unusual changes in mood can be one. Sometimes those changes include more than just your mood. You can feel a little sad every now and then but if it is more pervade and experienced over a longer time it mean something is wrong. Changes in your lifestyle as well as mood, such as sleeplessness or loss of appetite can be a sign there immeshing wrong too.

Sometimes a significant or traumatic event in your life can cause physical and emotional problems. It can be an event that has happened recently or something that happened a long time ago and which is effecting you, even if you might not be aware of it.

Changes in the way we cope with life’s pressures can be an indicator. Sometimes it is a drastic change, and you might resort to using alcohol or other substances to cope or help in feeling better about things. Dependance on these substances can lead to major problems too. Finding help before those problems get out of control can be an important factor in duration of mental health treatment.

The good news is that more and more people are seeking psychotherapeutic help. Stigma has long been a barrier but, more and more people are discussing mental health and realising that it effects so many of us that it should not be bused up any longer.

Medication has become more sophisticated and better able to help deal with some mental health problems. Because of this many people feel that can get by by using medication. Even though we are in a time when medication be help reduce the symptoms of many problems such as depression and anxiety, psychotherapy has always been recommended along with medical treatment.

If you are thinking about treatment for mental health problems, take that next step and call today.