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Substance addiction is a complex illness characterized by powerful and, at times, irresistible cravings, along with compulsive substance seeking and use. Although the path to addiction begins with the voluntary act of taking a substance, the desire to seek and use drugs becomes uncontrollable with persistent use.

It’s no stretch to say that a truly addicted person needs alcohol and/or drugs just like a normal person needs food and water to feel normal. In fact, substances become paramount to everything else including food and water in the case of substance use disorders (addiction).  

Treatment is often ineffective, as addiction infiltrates many aspects of a person’s life. For genuine recovery to take root, a complete life change is often necessary. This includes changing an addicted person’s hometown, friends, profession, diet and mental/emotional/spiritual constitution. Researchers across the globe are tirelessly seeking treatment methods that will help more people adopt and maintain substance-free lifestyles.

Not to get political, but with passage of the Affordable Care Act, access to inpatient treatment programs became even more difficult. Health insurance companies found a loophole in the law allowing them to deny claims for substance abuse treatment at record rates.

With access to 30 days of inpatient treatment proving more difficult, and research suggesting 90 days of treatment for a substantial chance at sustained recovery, it’s no wonder relapse is the norm.

Looking towards the future, those of us providing residential recovery programs hope science delivers more weapons in the war against addiction.

Immunotherapy – a Promising Possibility

One emerging area of interest in the biological treatment of substance addictions is immunotherapy. Researchers create vaccines that cause the immune system to attack addictive substances in the bloodstream, thwarting the pleasurable response before drugs enter the brain. Although vaccines for substance addictions appear promising, more research is needed to answer questions about the safety and efficacy of such treatments.

Incredibly, there’s no funding for vaccines. While there’s plenty of money to research and develop drugs like Viagra and Cialis, or pain killers like Oxycodone, or strong narcotic benzodiazepines like Xanax, a recently developed heroin vaccine cannot capture funding necessary for development. 

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Categories: Drugs

Post-Surgical Therapy Not Just for Breast Cancer Patients

Q. I’m going to be getting a mastectomy, but am concerned that recovery will be difficult.  Are there any procedures that can help me with this?

Individuals who have gone through a breast surgical procedure often have difficulty regaining full function of their arm or shoulder due to scar tissue.  Midwest Health Strategies offers a Breast Surgery Recovery Program to help women regain normal functions.  The process begins with a free screening to any woman who has had breast surgery for any reason.  This screening measures any lack of motion, lack of strength or pain. 

Q. How does rehabilitation therapy work? 

Following surgery, there is often a buildup of scar tissue that inhibits freedom of movement.  Gentle massage and stretching techniques are used in this area to reduce pain and increase function.  Exercises can then be used to strengthen the muscles as they begin to lengthen.  This treatment often takes place at the same time as chemotherapy or radiation treatments, so the patient can take an active part in helping to determine how much they are able to tolerate on a daily basis as there are changes.

Q. What other benefits does this therapy have?  

Patients having trouble will be able to increase their range of motion and in many cases increase their functional strength for daily activities and be pain-free.  Women can once again live a normal life free of overwhelming discomfort. 

Q. Is a referral necessary to participate in the program? 

Patients need to have a referral from their doctor.  It can be their family doctor, oncologist, or any other physician.

Q. Is therapy necessary for all breast surgery patients? 

No. Some patients are able to fully recover without rehabilitation therapy. Many people have breast surgery for a variety of reasons, the most frequent being cancer.  Our free screenings are for anyone having breast surgery, whether it is cancer or benign. There are many who have the screening and then determine that therapy is not needed. 

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Categories: Cardinal Health

Ask the Expert: Cold Relief and Prevention

Q. Why do I get a cold every year is the fall and winter months?

A. Most adults get between 2-4 colds a year while children usually get between 6-10 colds a year.  Since cold or inconsistent weather is typical of fall and winter, people are more likely to spend time indoors.  While indoors, they have more close contact with others, and are more vulnerable to cold viruses.  The changes in humidity also make it easier to catch a cold because viruses survive better in low humidity.  When the humidity is low the lining of your nose dries out which makes it more susceptible to infection.  Many children pick up more colds during this time of year because schools start and they are in closer contact with other children. 

Q. What exactly causes a cold?

A. There are more than 200 different types of viruses that can cause the common cold.  These viruses can be picked up in an unlimited number of ways.  They can come from direct or indirect contact with someone who is carrying a virus.  Usually the common cold symptoms begin around 2-3 days after picking up the virus.

Q. How can I prevent a cold?

A. Washing your hands is the best way to prevent a cold.  Cold germs enter the body most often by being on the hands and then the hands coming into contact with the nose, mouth or eyes.  Washing hands with soap and water or using an anti-bacterial hand sanitizer throughout the day will help prevent most cold viruses from being transmitted. 

Many people think that taking vitamin C will prevent a cold or relieve its symptoms, but they should take it with care.  The vitamin may help a little bit by reducing the severity of cold symptoms, but large amounts can cause severe diarrhea. 

Q. How can I get rid of a cold if I become infected?

A. There isn’t a cure for the common cold, but there is relief from its symptoms.  Getting enough rest and drinking plenty of fluids are the best things you can do to make your body feel better.  There are also throat sprays and lozenges for a sore throat and petroleum jelly for a raw nose.  

Q. Can a cold turn into anything more serious?

A. Colds can develop into bacterial infections, especially in the sinuses and middle ear.  If it does turn into a bacterial infection it will have to be treated with antibiotics prescribed by your healthcare provider.  If you have a high fever, extremely swollen glands, severe sinus pain and excess mucus you should visit your healthcare provider to determine if it is anything more serious. 

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Categories: Cardinal Health

Melo recognized as finalist for statewide award

MUNCIE—Dlynn Melo, clinical informatics director of Cardinal Health System (CHS) was one of four area women nominated for a Leading Light Award, sponsored by Women and Hi Tech.

The annual awards recognize women of achievement in science in technology who set an example for others by demonstrating expertise, professionalism, leadership, service, courage and tenacity in pursuit of their chosen career.

“Dlynn represents a combination of nursing and technological expertise,” said Alexis Neal, senior administrative director of Women and Children’s Services at Cardinal Health System.  “She possesses the nursing skills of an experienced clinician, along with outstanding academic abilities and has demonstrated mastery of many technological disciplines.  Perhaps her greatest accomplishment is helping individuals to embrace technology, instead of rejecting it.”

“I recognize Dlynn for boosting healthcare information technologies (HIT) within all ranks of health care professionals, but also for her innate love for teaching others the use of the right technology for the appropriate task or job at hand,” said Sandra Hoover, director of CHS Volunteer Resources.

Women and Hi Tech serves to engage, educate, and energize women in science, engineering, and technology.  The non-profit organization addresses the needs of women in Central Indiana high technology industries and serves to encourage more women to seek careers in technology.

About Cardinal Health System (CHS)

Cardinal Health System is a regional integrated network providing a full range of health services to the people of East Central Indiana. The major components of the system are Ball Memorial Hospital and Cardinal Health Ventures, which includes Cardinal Health Partners, Midwest HealthStrategies and various joint ventures. Kelly N. Stanley is President & CEO of Cardinal Health System.

About Ball Memorial Hospital (BMH)

Ball Memorial Hospital is the flagship of Cardinal Health System. The hospital serves as a tertiary referral center and teaching hospital for East Central Indiana. Ball Hospital is accredited by the Joint Commission and maintains more than one million square feet of facilities. More than 18,000 patients are admitted every year and 150,000 outpatient procedures are completed annually. Brent L. Batman is President of Ball Memorial Hospital.

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Categories: Cardinal Health Uncategorized

National Cervical Cancer Awareness Month

Q. January is National Cervical Cancer Awareness Month, what is cervical cancer

A. Sometimes the cells in the lining of a woman’s cervix, which is part of the uterus or womb, grow abnormally. Cervical cancer is a disease in which malignant (cancerous) cells form in the cervix.

Q. How do I know if I am at risk for cervical cancer? 

A. All women are at risk, but there are a number of factors that increase their chances of developing cervical cancer.

– Being infected with the human papillomavirus (HPV). HPV is made up of more than 100 related viruses that are sexually transmitted from person to person. Often there are no symptoms when a person is infected with HPV.  

– Smoking.

– Not being screened regularly with a Pap test.

Q. What can I do to reduce my risk?

A. Since cervical cancers do not form suddenly, they can easily be caught and treated in early stages or before developing. The best step to take for early detection of cervical cancer is to have a Pap test. Women should have a Pap test done annually. The tests should begin three years after first becoming sexually active but no later than reaching 21 years of age. 

Speak with your healthcare provider to determine how frequently you should have a Pap test. Some women who reach 30 years of age and have had three consecutive years of normal Pap tests may be able to reduce the frequency.   

Women ages 70 and above may be able to stop having Pap tests if they have had three consecutive normal tests. If a woman has had a total hysterectomy for noncancerous conditions they do not need a Pap test, but should have annual pelvic examinations. 

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Categories: Cancer