April 2017 ASAC Action Newsletter

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Cultural Awareness Training

There are an increasing number of culturally different clients in substance abuse treatment programs in the state of Iowa.  To promote awareness of culturally different patients and to provide professionals with tools to deal with such differences, ASAC will be holding workshops on Cultural Differences in Substance Abuse: Assessment and Intervention. A session was held on March 31st and two more sessions are scheduled to be held in ASAC’s Prevention Conference Room, 3536 18th Avenue SW, in Cedar Rapids on April 28 from 10:00 am – 2:00 pm (lunch provided) and May 19 from 8:00 am – 12:00 pm.

Topics covered include 1) Psychological principles of the perception of others, 2) Cultural vs Non-cultural factors in substance abuse, 3) Identifying own world views and biases towards the culturally different, and 4) Implications of cultural factors in assessment and treatment.

The facilitator for the training is Dr. Pedro Sánchez-Escobedo, a Senior Lecturer at the University of Yucatan.  Dr. Sánchez-Escobedo has contributed significantly to both educational and psychological fields in Mexico. He has published 12 books and more than 100 original research manuscripts. His research areas are talent development, intelligence, gifted education and curriculum development. Dr. Sánchez-Escobedo is a Fulbright visiting scholar at Kirkwood Community College.

There is no cost for the training but please register early because there is a maximum of 30 participants per training. Visit www.asac.us/training to register online.


Defining Recovery

Recovery from substance use disorders is a primary goal for behavioral health. The Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is leading efforts to advance the understanding of recovery and has developed the following working definition of recovery:

A process of change through which individuals improve their health and wellness, live a self-directed life, and strive to their full potential.

The definition recognizes that treatment is patient centered and that recovery for one person may be very different from another. To accommodate this individualized approach to recovery; ASAC uses successful completion of treatment as the primary indicator of a patient obtaining recovery and as a measure of program success. When a patient’s individualized treatment plan is completed, that indicates that the patient is addressing the issues that are negatively affecting their substance misuse or abuse and they are putting into practice the skills they have learned to live a healthy lifestyle. The state’s goal for treatment completion is >52%. Year to date, 55% of ASAC’s patients have successfully completed treatment.


Alcohol Awareness Month

Alcohol related problems negatively impact families, schools, businesses and the community as a whole.  Alcohol is the most abused substance in Iowa and it is often used with other drugs increasing the negative effects.

Most people are unaware of how much alcohol they are actually consuming. A standard drink of alcohol is defined as 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine or 1.5 ounces of 80 proof spirits.  As the percentage of alcohol increases, the size of the drink of the standard drink will decrease. Though this may be easy to manage when drinking premade versions, like cans of beer, mixed drinks can be a little tricky. Those that choose to drink mixed drinks should ask how much alcohol was put into the drink.  For instance, a small margarita is usually about 3 ounces; 2 standard drinks, but sometimes the larger margaritas might be more like 5-6 standard drinks.  On average, 3 standard drinks can put most people over the legal limit of .08 Blood Alcohol Content (BAC), increasing the risk of an accident.  There are factors that can increase BAC, but how somebody physically feels is not an accurate indicator of how high their BAC may be, so paying attention to the amount you drink is vitally important.

People also usually underestimate how long it takes for the body to metabolize alcohol and lower a person’s BAC.  It can take 1-2 hours to metabolize the alcohol from just one standard drink.  There are those that think having a glass of water or taking a short nap will lower their BAC so they can safely drive, but that is not the case.  Depending on how many standard drinks they consumed, a person may not drop below the legal limit until late the next morning and even after reaching the legal limit, mental abilities may still be impaired.  The best recommendation is that if somebody is drinking alcohol, then they should not drive.

Increased health problems may result from binge drinking or using other substances, like stimulants, with alcohol.  Binge drinking involves consuming drinks so fast that the body can’t keep up, leading to a rapid and dangerous increase in a person’s BAC.  When alcohol is mixed with stimulants, like energy drinks, people tend to drink more than usual as they feel a sense of alertness.  Without the stimulant present, the depressant aspect of alcohol will kick in and your body will naturally slow down. When a stimulant is added, your body isn’t experiencing any of the normal warning signs that it needs to slow down or stop drinking altogether. This can lead to alcohol poisoning where the blood becomes toxic and can resulted in serious health problems, including death.

It is recommended that individuals under the age of 21 should not consume any alcohol to avoid any health and legal problems.  Research also shows that the younger someone begins drinking alcohol, the more likely they are to develop health related problems, including addiction. For those over the age of 21, it is recommended that they error on the side of safety.  Feelings of relaxation generally occur after 1-2 standard drinks, but drinking too much, drinking too fast and mixing with other substances can quickly increase the likelihood of problems occurring.



Support Birdies for ASAC

Ian Johnston, a sophomore golfer at Prairie High School, is conducting a fundraiser for ASAC. Ian lost an older brother to substance abuse and wants to help bring recovery and hope to those struggling with addiction. Ian’s goal is to raise $5,000.

Please visit Ian’s webpage at www.ijohnstongolf.com to make a donation, learn more about his fundraiser, and to watch Ian’s video.  You can make either a one-time donation or make a pledge per birdie or eagle. To date Ian has raised $425 and made 12 birdies.

We are honored that Ian has selected ASAC as the benefiting agency for the American Junior Golf Association Leadership Links program and look forward to providing updates of his fundraising efforts throughout his 2017 golf season.


Helping People to Recover

The Way Home

The Way Home

ASAC has two long term transitional housing programs that target low income individuals and families in recovery from substance abuse: The Way Home and ND Housing.


The Way Home is a 24-unit apartment complex located at 5480 Kirkwood Blvd in Cedar Rapids.  The campus includes a program building and two apartment buildings with a total of sixteen 2-bedroom and eight 3-bedroom apartments which rent for $640 and $760 respectively.

ND Housing, located at 2733 S. 19th Street in Clinton, is a ten unit alcohol and drug free apartment building which consists of six 2- bedroom units and four 3-bedroom units. The current rent for a 2-bedroom apartment is $591 and a 3 bedroom rents for $758.

ND Housing

ND Housing

For both sites, each apartment is furnished with all major appliances, including a stove, refrigerator, microwave, washer, dryer, and dishwasher and rent include utilities. The two housing programs also provide a playground area for supervised children and their families, a community room for social gatherings and activities, a computer center, and on-site supportive services such as substance abuse counseling, life skills classes, and support groups. There is also a tenant council that represents the community in providing program feedback.


The Way Home and ND Housing provide safe, affordable housing devoted to the choice of recovery. They are places where families are nurtured, goals can be reached and the strength of self-sufficiency is gained through hard work, respect, and maintaining personal integrity.


Kratom, An Emerging Drug Concern

Kratom is a substance derived from a tree native to Southeast Asia that has been showing up in local stores.  To date, there has been a limited amount of legitimate research conducted on Kratom and the FDA has not approved any use of Kratom for treatment.  While the legal status of Kratom is being debated, use by anyone should be discouraged, especially when it comes to youth.

Like many other drugs, Kratom has the potential to be addictive, can lead to other health concerns and may create some safety issues.  Kratom side effects include anxiety, nausea, constipation, aggression, seizures, confusion, problems with coordination and increased mental health issues.  Like many unregulated drugs, there is no standard for ingredients and no set dosage for use, leading to additional dangers from overuse.  Additionally, there have been a number of cases where Kratom products were tested revealing the presence of other drugs. Sadly, someone could possibly develop substance use disorders to Kratom or use it as a short term replacement when they cannot obtain heroin or other drugs.

ASAC can assist organizations in being more educated on this topic or any other emerging drug trends.  Anyone interested in more information or gaining assistance can call to talk to a prevention specialist in any of our offices: Cedar Rapids (319-390-1884), Clinton (563-243-2124), Anamosa (319-462-4327), Maquoketa (563-652-2216) and Vinton (319-436-4728 x 5809).


Providing Mental Health Services to CD+ Patients

Starting in November, ASAC partnered with Foundation 2 in order to offer and expand mental health services for patients served in the CD+ youth residential program. Access to mental health treatment for teens is a growing concern in this community and around the state. Many of our patients come to CD+ with untreated, undertreated or undiagnosed mental health conditions. Often times untreated mental health conditions and trauma issues are displayed by our youth through inappropriate and self-harming behaviors including excessive substance use/abuse, defiance, criminal behavior, and an inability to self-regulate and demonstrate pro-social behaviors.  Often times the underlying issue is depression, anxiety and ADHD.  Without adequate assessment, diagnosis and treatment of these issues, many youth will struggle with the cognitive-behavioral approach to the treatment process.

Kristen O’Conner-Sherrets, MA, LMHC, NCC, is our Foundation 2 therapist. She is currently seeing patients at CD+ one day per week. Having the opportunity for therapy services on-site at CD+ allows patients seek mental health services without having to step foot outside our facility. Kristen is a great addition to our holistic approach to therapy.


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