Category Archives: Prescription Drug

Is Placer County, California, The Next Target Of The Teen & Young Adult Heroin Epidemic?

Placer County, California, the Next Target of the Teen and Young Adult Heroin EpidemicOpioid abuse and heroin addiction have risen dramatically since the early 2000s. They affect every socioeconomic class, age, and gender in our nation, and pose a great threat to public health. California has not been spared. Statistics show that Placer County opioid abuse and heroin addiction are higher than the national average. What can we do as parents, educators, and community leaders to protect our teens and young adults?

Recognizing The Scope Of The Problem

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), a division of the National Institutes of Health, classifies opioid abuse and heroin addiction as an epidemic. NIDA estimates that in the United States, 2.1 million people abuse opioids and approximately 500,000 people are addicted to heroin. The number of prescription opioid-related deaths has quadrupled since 1999.

Cali Hospitals Treated Patients for Overdoses

In 2013, California hospitals treated 11,500 patients for opioid and heroin overdoses. Every 45 minutes, a person in California overdoses. This staggering statistic represents a 50 percent increase from 2006. Hospitals in rural northern California see more overdoses than other parts of the state. Placer County, Sacramento County, and Shasta County all rank higher than the national average for opioid abuse and heroin addiction.

Opioid Prescriptions On The Rise

In 2001, The Joint Commission deemed pain the fifth vital sign in pain management. Physicians are required to manage pain effectively, based on a patient’s perceived pain scale. Hospitals evaluations consider how well the physicians do it.

As a result, opioid prescriptions have skyrocketed in the last two decades. In 1991, there were 76 million opioid prescriptions in the United States. In 2012, opioid prescriptions more than doubled to 207 million. Along with the surge in prescriptions, the number of emergency room visits related to abuse steadily rose, from 144,000 in 2004 to 305,000 in 2008. The United States is the largest consumer of opioids, accounting for 100 percent of the global supply of hydrocodone and 81 percent of oxycodone.

Increased opioid prescriptions mean greater access for teens and young adults in family homes. A doctor may dispense a 30-day prescription of Vicodin following surgery, but a patient may need pain relief for only a few days. Instead of disposing of the prescription, the leftover pills sit in a medicine cabinet at home.

How Opioids Become Drugs Of Abuse

Physicians commonly prescribe opioids for moderate-to-severe pain. They work by attaching to opioid receptors in the body, which both reduce the perception of pain and trigger a rush of endorphins, producing a sense of well-being. Endorphins are the body’s naturally occurring opioids.

As people continue to use synthetic opioids, the body begins to inhibit its own opioid-producing system. Users have to increase their dosages to experience the same effects, which leads to a dangerous cycle of building tolerance and increasing risk of overdose. This is how addiction develops.

Addictive Behaviors In Teens And Young Adults

When teens and young adults begin to abuse opioids, they may take the drugs in ways other than prescribed. For example, they may crush and snort the drugs to increase their effects and produce a rush of euphoria. Most oral opioids are extended-release pills, providing long-lasting pain relief and minimizing the risk of addiction. When someone crushes and snorts or smokes these pills, however, they put the body into overdrive, triggering a massive release of endorphins that leads teens and young adults to experience a high.

Opioids are alluring and dangerous for teens because they affect the reward center of the brain. This makes the drugs highly addicting. Because many of us keep opioids from old injuries or oral surgeries in our medicine cabinets, they’re easy for teens and young adults to obtain. The more potent the opioid, the easier the path to addiction is.

Opioids And Their Relationship To Heroin

As the opioid epidemic increases, so does access to heroin. Government officials have taken steps to curb opioid abuse by establishing new prescribing guidelines for physicians. Since it’s harder for many prescription pill abusers to get access to opioids, they turn to the next best thing: heroin, which is also an opioid.

Heroin use has skyrocketed in the past few years, with the number of past-year users doubling between 2005 and 2012. NIDA directly links increased heroin use to the opioid epidemic, because it is the next logical step in the addiction path. Heroin is cheaper and more readily available than prescription opioids. It provides a viable alternative to achieving the euphoric effect associated with mis-using pills.

Heroin is particularly dangerous because, unlike prescription drugs, there is no control over its purity. Heroin cut with fentanyl, a potent opioid, has found its way into local communities. When combined with other substances, heroin carries a higher risk of overdose and death. Anecdotal evidence suggests that heroin combined with fentanyl can bring about overdose within seconds of injection into a vein.

Heroin Affecting Teens

Heroin And Opioid Use In Placer County Teens And Young Adults

Statewide emergency room data shows that heroin use among young adults has risen sharply in recent years. It is a growing problem in northern California, though some areas have more problems than others do. Lincoln Police Chief Rex Marks notes that, although heroin isn’t as prevalent in his area as some other parts of the country, it was easy for teens to obtain.

Heroin once was a drug for the affluent. Now it is more affordable than meth, selling for $40 to $50 for a few grams. According to the County Sheriff’s Office, heroin use is up, based on possession arrests and deaths from overdose. The majority of victims are in their 20s.

Prescription Pill Abuse

According to data from the Drug Enforcement Agency, prescription pill abuse is rising among teens. Oxycodone is the most widely used and abused drug among 12- to 24-year-olds.

In Placer County, 11th-graders abuse prescription pills at a rate two times the national average. This sobering statistic should compel concerned parents, educators, and community leaders to act.

What Adults Can Do To Combat Opioid Abuse In Teens And Young Adults

Parents and educators can take simple steps to prevent prescription drug and heroin abuse in teens and young adults. One simple step is for parents to clear out their medicine cabinets. The Roseville Police Department recently coordinated an effort to take back prescription drugs from residents, and safely and effectively dispose of them. Their last event yielded over 9,000 pounds of prescription drugs.

Parental Efforts

According to the Coalition for Placer Youth, those who learn about drug risks from their parents are 50 percent less likely to use. Parents should not be afraid to talk with their teens about the dangers of opioid abuse and its path to riskier behaviors such as heroin addiction. Teens identify their parents as the #1 influence in their lives. Parents should provide guidance about possible negative consequences of opioid use and abuse.

The sheer availability of prescription drugs makes it possible for Placer County teens to experiment. Make sure to lock up all your current medications in a cabinet. Even if you trust your teen, their friends and acquaintances might not be so trustworthy.

Know The Consequences

The adverse outcomes associated with prescription drug abuse are severe. Respiratory distress, addiction, coma, brain damage, and death are all possibilities. Prescription drug experimentation may quickly devolve into heroin abuse, given its increased affordability and availability. Heroin and other intravenous drug use have their own consequences, including transmission of HIV and hepatitis C, among other blood-borne diseases from shared needles.

Act Quickly And Know The Signs

Parents, educators, and community leaders should be involved in a multifaceted effort to curb the threat of opioid and heroin abuse at the local and county levels. Parents should talk frankly to their children about the consequences. Educators should implement districtwide initiatives to inform the student body about the dangers of abusing prescription pills. Community leaders should encourage pill take-back programs and offer resources for parents to guide the conversation.

Prescription pill abuse and heroin addiction are preventable. We, as a community, should be aware of the threat heroin poses to our children and how readily accessible prescription pills are. According to the American Society of Addiction Medicine, 168,000 teens were addicted to pain medicine in 2014, and an additional 500,000 were using a pain reliever for nonmedical purposes. In 2014, nearly 30,000 teens aged 12 to 17 used heroin, and 18,000 became addicted.

Most adolescents who misuse prescription pain relievers get them at no cost from a friend or relative. Don’t let your teen be one of them. Talk to them about the dangers of drug abuse and the connection between prescription pills and heroin. Together, the residents of Placer County can address the issue head on, paving the way for healthier teens and brighter futures.

Need more information to help your teen or young adult with a drug or potential drug problem? Read here for additional options available to you.

Family Education Program

Pain Relief At A Heavy Price: The Effects Of Oxycodone

Effects Of OxycodoneOxycodone is a semi-synthetic opioid painkiller, most often prescribed by doctors to alleviate moderate to severe pain. It is a very effective narcotic commonly used after surgery or to treat other extremely painful injuries. One of the main characteristics of oxycodone is its highly addictive properties.

Developed in 1916 by a group of German scientists, oxycodone was originally intended to replace heroin, which was considered at that time (and still is) dangerously addictive. In 1996, Perdue Pharma introduced OxyContin which contained a higher concentration of the drug formulated in an extended time release capsule. Touted as the 12-hour painkiller, the press release from Perdue stated, one tablet in the morning and one before bed would provide “smooth and sustained pain control all day and all night.” OxyContin immediately took off in terms of sales.

A Wide Range Of Disturbing Side Effects

While OxyContin was certainly promoted as a convenient source of pain relief, and physicians began to widely prescribe it because of its efficacy, few understood the risks with it and its high potential for addiction. And, even fewer realized the unintended consequences of addicts crushing OxyContin capsules and snorting or injecting them to obtain a euphoric, opium-based high.

Along with addiction, there are many other unwanted side effects of the drug:

  • Emotional Instability
  • Difficulty Concentrating
  • Euphoria
  • Drowsiness
  • Hallucinations
  • Light Headedness
  • Paranoia
  • Risk of Violence
  • Difficulties Sleeping
  • Cravings
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Mood Changes
  • Agitation
  • Memory Loss
  • Confusion

Overcoming OxyContin Addiction

One of the other very unfortunate aspects of OxyContin addiction is the withdrawal symptoms that occur when the drug is stopped. Symptoms of withdrawal can range from nausea, diarrhea and chills to serious complications, such as heart palpitations and seizures. Symptoms of withdrawal tend to be longer with opioid painkillers like oxycodone and can actually occur for weeks and even months, depending on the length of time the individual abused the drug.

Because symptoms can be both unpredictable and serious, professional detox and rehabilitation provide the best chance for overcoming withdrawal and achieving long-term recovery. For some, medication can be beneficial for overcoming the symptoms of withdrawal. When this is combined with other treatments, including individual and group therapy, yoga, meditation and a 12-step program, the individual can work on recovery of the mind, body and spirit.

What Else Is Being Done

Because an increasing number of Americans are becoming addicted to this dangerous medication, there have been recent steps to curb the problem. In 2013, the FDA released labeling guidelines for long acting and extended release opioids that forced the manufacturer, Purdue Pharma, to state that the drug is for:

“pain severe enough to require daily, around-the-clock, long-term opioid treatment"

It is no longer recommended for moderate pain. The manufacturer also reformulated the medication to make it more difficult to crush or dissolve.

Still, the US Department of Health and Human Services estimates that approximately 11 million people in the United States consume oxycodone in a non-medical way annually. And sadly, a significant percentage of these individuals will end up in the emergency room or will die from overdose.

Get Help Now, Call Today

Because of the severity of the addiction to OxyContin and the painful side effects, the best chance for recovery is with professional treatment. Don’t wait for your addiction to get worse. Call now for immediate help, one of our specialized counselors will be there for you.

A Drug 50x Deadlier Than Heroin?

Fentanyl 50x More Deadly Then HeroinThe dangers of opioid addiction have certainly gained more exposure recently with the deaths of celebrities like Prince, who was reported to be struggling with an addiction to opioid painkillers prior to his untimely death in April. It’s an unfortunate reality that opioid addiction has become an epidemic in the United States, and much of it is being fueled by prescription painkillers.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), an estimated 80 percent of prescription painkillers are prescribed by 20 percent of prescribers, and sales for prescription painkillers have increased more than 400 percent since 1999. Not surprisingly, the number of overdose from these medications has also increased – by more than 300 percent. In fact, more individuals are dying from prescription pain medications than from heroin and cocaine combined.

An Illicit Version Of A Prescription Painkiller

While all opioid painkillers are addictive and can lead to overdose, addiction specialists are particularly worried about one medication that is flooding into cities and towns across the U.S. It’s fentanyl, which is the most potent painkiller on the market. Prescribed by doctors for cancer treatment, the drug was developed to ease the extreme pain of cancer patients. Now, an illicit version of this drug is being sold on the street in the form of pills and powder, causing a growing number of individuals to become addicted and even overdose. The Drug Enforcement Administration and the CDC both believe that illegal fentanyl is currently a national health crisis.

Clusters of fentanyl-related overdoses are showing up in increasing numbers which has led to the CDC issuing a health advisory to inform health providers and first responders about overdoses. Ohio, Florida and New Hampshire have all seen tremendous jumps in related deaths. In these states and a growing number of others, fentanyl deaths are far surpassing overdoses caused by heroin.

Just How Dangerous Is Fentanyl?

Many are surprised by the strength of this drug. When law enforcement confiscates it, they have to wear hazmat suits for protection. It can be absorbed by the skin and the eyes, and only a few small grains of the drug can kill an individual. First appearing on the streets in 2007, the Drug Enforcement Agency traced the drug to a lab in Mexico. Seven years, later the number of  overdoses spiked, and many believe that it is now being produced in China and trafficked through Mexican cartels into the U.S.

Effects Of Fentanyl Abuse

Along with the risk of overdose, this drug also has many long-term damaging effects including:

• Immune suppression
• Gastrointestinal problems
• Paranoia
• Social withdrawal
• Delusions or hallucinations
• Personality changes

Help For Fentanyl Withdrawal

Withdrawal from this drug requires professional treatment because of the intense symptoms that happen during the detoxification process. If you or a loved one is abusing fentanyl or any other drugs, do not wait another day to get help. It could be a matter of life or death. Call Pathways Recovery immediately for help.

Why The Risk Of Opana Addiction Continues To Increase

Continued and updated from our original blog: Opana Taking Over For Oxycontin

It has been nearly a decade since the powerful prescription painkiller Opana hit the market. Twice as strong as OxyContin, it continues to destroy the lives of abusers and their families.

The Dangers Of OpanaPathwaysRecovery-SignsOfOxycontin-5-4-16

Also known as oxymorphone hydrochloride, Opana is two to eight times more potent than morphine and can be crushed, chewed, snorted or injected. Because of its strength, abusers of other opioids are at risk of overdosing on Opana. Unlike OxyContin that can produce a stimulating effect, Opana causes users to fall asleep. One of the biggest risks of the drug is respiratory depression. There is also a big risk for addiction, depending on the dose and frequency of use.

Classified as a schedule II narcotic by the DEA, Opana also produces side effects of:

  • severe drowsiness
  • light-headedness
  • itchy and/or clammy skin
  • headache
  • constipation
  • trouble breathing
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • decreased heart rate
  • seizures
  • confusion
  • weakness

When mixed with other drugs or alcohol, the results can be dangerous and even fatal.

Widespread Availability Leads To More Addicts

A key reason why Opana has become such a popular drug is because of its street price which is nearly half that of Oxycontin. Many addicts who once used OxyContin or other opioid painkillers have made the switch to Opana. In fact, it has become the drug of choice for many. In Kentucky, the drug was present in the blood of 23 percent of all overdose victims in 2011. Since then, the numbers have only increased.

The Trend Of Opana Abuse And Addiction

A decade ago, the drugs of choice were Vicodin or Lortab. This shifted to oxycodone, and today it’s all about Opana which is leading to greater number of addicts and more fatal overdoses. Sadly, the trend is spreading fastest in rural, low-income areas where individuals are purchasing the drug from elderly people with prescriptions who are selling it to supplement social security income. Others are buying the drug from overseas manufacturers. Some are even stealing the drugs from pharmacies or stealing other things to obtain the money to buy the drug. For abusers of Opana who cannot afford the drug, the next step is heroin.

Are You Battling Opana Addiction?

Do not underestimate the power of this dangerous drug. Attempting to overcome addiction to Opana is not something to try alone. Withdrawal symptoms can be very serious, and your best chance of recovery is under the watchful eye of professional addition treatment professionals. In many cases, there is insurance that covers detox and rehab for Opana addiction. Call now to get the the help you need, we will be with you every step of the way.

Learn More About Insurance That Covers Detox And Rehab

Will Congress’ Recent Efforts On How To Prevent Drug Abuse Have A Substantial Impact On The Addiction Treatment Field?

Congress How To Prevent Drug Abuse

On March 10, 2016, the U.S. Senate passed bipartisan legislation intended to combat the opioid addiction epidemic in the United States. This landmark legislation is known as the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA), and it is the largest congressional action to date intended to fight America’s ongoing abuse of and addiction to opioids.

CARA also intends to open new avenues of treatment for those suffering from opioid addiction. While still needing to be passed by the House of Representatives, CARA secured a 94-to-1 vote in the Senate, which sends a strong message that Congress is serious about taking on opioid abuse and addiction treatment.

What Will The Opioid Legislation Do, If Signed Into Law?

If passed by the House of Representatives and signed by the president, CARA will provide the following:

  • Expanded access to addiction treatment resources, including medication-assisted addiction treatment for heroin and opioid dependence
  • Funding for substance use prevention efforts and addiction recovery programs
  • New opportunities for addicts to receive drug treatment in lieu of jail time
  • Stronger prescription drug-monitoring programs to help states track prescription drug diversions and to help at-risk individuals access addiction treatment resources
  • Expanded addiction recovery support for students in high school and colleges
  • Wider availability of Naloxone (which reverses the effects of opioid medication) to police and other first responders so they can administer it to more patients who need it
  • More disposal sites for unwanted prescription medications, which will help keep them out of the hands of children and young adults

What Has Prompted This Recent Legislation?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more people died from drug overdoses in 2014 than in any year on record. Also, since 1999, the number of deaths from opioid overdoses has nearly quadrupled. Between 2000 and 2014, nearly half a million people died from drug overdoses. As of 2016, an average of 78 Americans are dying every day from opioid overdose.

Since 1999, the volume of opioid-based prescription pain medications sold in the U.S. has nearly quadrupled, while at the same time, there has not been a significant increase in the amount of pain that Americans are reporting. Deaths from prescription opioids (drugs like hydrocodone, methadone and oxycodone) have similarly quadrupled since 1999. Clearly, many of the opioid painkillers being prescribed in the U.S. are being diverted to recreational users and opioid addicts.

How Does Opioid Addiction Develop?

Evolving from a legitimate prescription painkiller user to someone who is addicted can often happen by accident. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), prescription opioid pain medication and heroin affect the brain through the same mechanism. Opioids (both prescribed and illegal) reduce the perception of pain by binding to opioid receptors in the brain cells as well as other places in the body. As opioid use continues, one’s tolerance to the drug increases, requiring higher doses to achieve the same effect.

For someone in legitimate pain, this can be a dangerous path, as they need more of their pain medication to get relief. For someone using opioid-based pain medications for recreational purposes, this can be a deadly path, because most recreational users alter the medication to achieve quicker euphoric effects. For both the legitimate user and the recreational user, they can become physically dependent on opioids before they know it. The combination of dependence and higher tolerance quickly leads to an opioid addiction.

Once addicted, acquiring enough opioid-based prescription medication can be difficult and very costly. With limitations on the amount they can get from their primary care doctor or pain management physician, most opioid addicts turn to illegal ways to acquire enough of the drug to achieve the euphoric state they have become accustomed to. This can be done by buying pain medication on the street or turning to illegal drugs like heroin.

The street price for opioid medications like oxycodone and hydrocodone, however, is much higher than what they were paying at their local pharmacy. Suddenly, the opioid addict is in a desperate situation where he or she can no longer afford the drug of choice. As a result of the higher availability and lower cost of heroin in many communities, many opioid addicts transition to using heroin.

Seeking Treatment For Opioid Addiction

Opioid Addiction TreatmentFor people who are addicted to opioids and trying to seek proper treatment, many roadblocks are present. According to NIDA, less than 12 percent of the 21.5 million Americans suffering from drug addiction in 2014 received substance abuse treatment.

Furthermore, many addiction treatment programs do not utilize evidence-based treatment methods. As an example, less than half of the addiction treatment programs surveyed by NIDA offered medically assisted treatment for opioid addicts. Proven addiction treatment medications such as Suboxone and buprenorphine do not appear to be widely used in the addiction treatment field, as of 2014.

According to NIDA, providing evidence-based treatment for addicts offers the best chance at interrupting the drug use-criminal justice cycle for many drug addicts. Viewing drug addiction as a disease instead of a crime seems to be critical to reducing the heavy load on our criminal justice system caused by addicts who result to criminal behavior to support their addiction.

Addiction treatment has proved over the years to reduce the costs related to addiction resulting in terms of lost productivity, crime and incarceration. NIDA has suggested several ways that addiction treatment can be implemented into a criminal justice environment, including the following:

  • Addiction treatment as a condition of probation
  • Drug courts that combine judicial monitoring and sanctions with addiction treatment
  • Addiction treatment in prison followed up by community based treatment after release
  • Addiction treatment under parole or probation supervision

How To Prevent Drug Abuse On A National Level

So, will the recent Congressional action have a significant impact on addiction treatment in the United States, specifically as it relates to opioid addiction? Recognizing the seriousness of the epidemic and the growing problems it is creating was a monumental first step by Congress.

For CARA to be implemented, however, it must next pass in the House of Representatives. You can help make this happen by lobbying your Congressional representative.

As for the legislation’s impact on the addiction treatment field, Norma Cordero, Outreach Coordinator at Pathways Recovery and a veteran of the addiction treatment industry, has this to say: “Passage of the bill will continue a philosophical shift toward treating addiction not as a crime, but as a chronic disease. Hopefully, it will establish new rules and policies for prevention and treatment of addiction.”

Prescription Drug Abuse Epidemic Comes West

Pathways-- Prescription Drug Abuse Epidemic Comes West -- 08-23-16

Prescription Drug Abuse Finds Western States Unprepared

The epidemic of prescription drug abuse that had struck many regions in the eastern and southern U.S. has now struck with a vengeance in several western states where law enforcement and drug treatment professionals have been unprepared.  In fact the rates of prescription drug abuse has exceeded the levels of prescription drug abuse in some eastern regions where the epidemic first began.

SAMHSA Reports The Highest Prescription Drug Abuse Rates Are Now In The Western United States

According to a recent survey completed by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) the highest prescription drug abuse rates in the country are now found in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and Colorado.  As an example, in Kentucky where the prescription drug abuse epidemic had its roots 4.5% of people over the age of 12 reportedly abuse prescription drugs, but in Oregon the same segment of the population that reports prescription drug abuse is 6.5%.  Public health official, including drug treatment professionals, and law enforcement officials in some western states have no plan or policy in force to handle the prescription drug epidemic that has now come to their cities and towns.

The rates of prescription drug abuse in southern and eastern states has gone down recently, while the rates of prescription drug abuse has spiked in western states like Washington, Colorado, and Oregon.  According to reports, government officials in these states were unprepared for the spike in prescription drug abuse.  Idaho's drug policy administrator is quoted as saying "We're just now in the beginning stages of grasping the full magnitude" of the prescription drug abuse issue.

Prescription Drug Abuse Problem Starts In Southern California

The increase across the western United States has been mostly fueled by drug dealers who obtain large supplies of drugs from "pill mills" in Southern California and then transport them to other states in the west.  Much like the problem of the early to mid 2000's where addicts and dealers obtained large supplies of prescription drugs in Florida and then transported them to other parts of the East Coast, Southern California is providing the supply to meet the demand in other regions of the west.  While just getting their arms around the methamphetamine problem in their areas, the prescription drug abuse problem crept unnoticed into their cities and towns catching law enforcement officials in the western United States unprepared.

Some Prescription Drug Abuse Policies Are Beginning To Work Out West

Taking a page from their counterparts back east, many western states are beginning to adopt policies that were developed several years ago in states like Kentucky, West Virginia, and Florida.  A crackdown on "pill mills" in Florida has resulted in drastic reduction of prescription drugs on the black market, and education programs across the East and South have resulted in reductions in prescription drug abuse and reductions in overdose deaths attributed to prescription drug abuse.  In Florida, the number of deaths related to prescription drug overdoses has gone down by 17% over the past couple of years.  In West Virginia, the rate of prescription drug abuse in people 12 and over has gone down from 5.9% to 4.8% over the past two years.

Prescription drug abuse continues to be an epidemic in the United States, but education and public awareness campaigns have shown success in the East and in the South.  By adopting many of the policies put in place back east, western states should be able to attack prescription drug abuse in their states.

Drug Overdose Deaths Continue To Rise Due To Prescription Drug Abuse

Drug Overdose Deaths Continue to RiseThe United States is experiencing an alarming increase in overdoses of prescription drugs - many of which are leading to death. Disturbingly, fatalities and sales related to prescription drugs have more than quadrupled since 1999. More than half of the overdose deaths in the nation are related to a prescription painkiller in the opiate family.

Prescription drug abuse incidents are even more common than those involving illicit drugs. In the past, many prevention tactics focused on heroin, marijuana, and methamphetamine. However, drugs that were prescribed weren’t given the same attention, leaving room for addictions, overdoses, and deaths from prescriptions like Vicodin, OxyContin, and Xanax.

The Dangers Of Prescription Drug Abuse

There are many dangers inherent in drug use, but the deadliest situations occur when people mix different drug varieties. Mixing two prescriptions can have sudden and unpredictable effects. In fact, 77% of drug abuse deaths involving benzodiazepines also involved an opioid painkiller. Taking different drugs at the same time will often either amplify or block the effects of one of the substances. Though physicians can usually explain drug interactions, these medications are often taken illegally. It can be impossible to tell exactly how the two substances will interact in general because individuals often experience different symptoms depending on the chemistry of their bodies.

When an interaction like this occurs, one drug can remain in your system too long or in a concentration that’s too high. This can trigger drug poisoning, even if the dosages of both medications are independently within a normally prescribed range.

Mixing prescription drugs has a chance of exacerbating negative side effects as well. If a potential symptom of each substance is nausea, a combination of the two could potentially cause vomiting and extreme vertigo. More serious effects, like immune system suppression and thinned blood compound, can lead to incredibly dangerous and unexpected health problems.

Preventing Overdoses And Deaths

Studies have shown that less than 20% of prescription drug-related deaths are intentional, and mixing different prescriptions causes most of the accidental deaths—sometimes even when taken as directed. Doing research on potential drug interactions is a smart habit to develop. It’s also very important that your doctor be fully aware of prescription drugs you’re taking, even if you’re doing so without a prescription.

Another way to prevent overdoses and deaths is to seek help for friends or family members that are affected. Spotting the signs of drug abuse in friends or family can be life-saving. Early intervention could prevent overdoses and deaths. Some individuals can use drugs as they need, and then put them away with no consequences. Others, however, quickly become addicted.

Determining whether someone you love has a drug problem can be complicated. The first step is to look for signs associated with misuse. Physical symptoms can be easy to notice if you spend time in close proximity with them. Keep an eye out for things such as:

  • Reduced appetite
  • Constipation
  • Confusion
  • Agitation
  • Nausea
  • Unsteady walking
  • Elevated temperature
  • Slowed breathing
  • Slurred speech
  • Poor concentration
  • Insomnia
  • Paranoia
  • Anxiety

Many addicts will experience a complete shift in their priorities, neglecting important duties like their job or caring for a child. This is another crucial sign to look out for. They’re also likely to exhibit suspicious behaviors. If you notice things disappearing, a consistent loss of prescriptions, or visiting more than one doctor, there’s cause for concern.

Why Treatment Is Crucial

Long-term use of prescription drugs changes the chemistry in the body. When someone becomes accustomed to the presence of the chemical, sudden removal can be dangerous—or even deadly. Withdrawal offers nasty symptoms, ranging from dizziness to strong hallucinations and even seizures. Some medications are worse than others, but all are cause for caution.

Getting professional help is the best way to ensure a safe and feasibly comfortable detoxification. Inpatient and outpatient facilities both offer help and work along these three steps: evaluation, stabilization, and treatment transitioning. Medical and holistic approaches provide a secure environment to ride out this tough change.

Aside from the immediate dangers of quitting a medication, treatment centers are important because they help prepare the user for a drug-free future. Many facilities teach coping methods and accountability to reduce the chance of relapse.

The New Face Of Heroin Addiction And Prescription Pain Killers

New Face Of Heroin AddictionStudies have shown that prescription drugs are abused more commonly than any other class of substance in the nation. They’ve taken the country by storm, particularly among young and middle-aged Americans. The effects of their illicit use are dangerous, but what’s worse is the fact that they open the gateway for heroin addiction.

The Connection Between Prescription And Illicit

Prescription painkillers and heroin, believe it or not, are in the same class. This group, known as opioids, attach to receptors within the brain and other organs of the body. They cling to nerve cells and work to decrease the amount of pain that an individual feels. The original intention for these prescription drugs was noble, but the same qualities that bring pain relief also bring addiction.

When an opiate is taken, the chemicals can cause a widespread feeling of relaxation. Some individuals also experience euphoria, which is a strongly positive emotional reaction. Individuals become used to the benefits of the drugs and develop a dependency. They take larger and more frequent doses, intending to maintain their high. Addicts look not only for comfort but to avoid the uncomfortable symptoms of withdrawal. As their need grows, they search for an easier source of satisfaction.

Heroin is stronger than prescription pills, can be obtained more easily, and is cheaper. People can skip the process of finding a doctor, being seen, and dropping off a prescription at a pharmacy. When people become desperate for relief from withdrawals, they’ll look instead for a dealer on the streets and find a substitute much faster. Many individuals will switch back and forth between the two, using their prescription pills until they run out and then returning to the streets.

The Dangers Associated With Opioids

The biggest problem with these drugs is that they’re highly addictive. Once a dependency is established, it’s almost impossible to quit using without treatment. The withdrawal symptoms can present in as little as six hours after the last dose. Others will show signs at around 30 hours and peak at 72. Individuals often experience muscle and bone pain, vomiting, insomnia, cold flashes, restlessness, and uncontrollable leg movements.

The long-term effects are even worse than the symptoms of withdrawal. Many users experience brain damage due to hypoxia. This is when the respiratory system is depressed and the brain doesn’t receive enough oxygen. Abdominal distention and liver damage also might be the aftermath of opiate addiction.

Why Transitioning To Heroin Is Even More Dangerous

Aside from the other health dangers, heroin itself poses many risks because it’s impossible to determine its origins. Anytime someone buys from the streets, the user is taking a gamble. In its purest form, the drug is a white powder. But on the street, it’s more commonly seen as rose gray, brown, or black, due to additives. These other chemicals are added to dilute the drug and give the dealer more value for the money.

Additives present a range of hazards. Some dealers will use sugar or caffeine to thin out the powder. Others add compounds like strychnine—a potent stimulant used in rat poison that causes violent convulsions. It’s impossible to tell which additives are thrown into the mix. If they’re not dangerous enough to cause death on their own, their presence can still wreak havoc. Many of them don’t dissolve fully. When they’re forced into the body via injection, they can clog blood vessels leading to vital organs. Infection and atrophy of the affected body parts is all too common.

Finding Treatment Is Important

Opioids are incredibly addictive, and they can be especially difficult to quit. This becomes even truer when a person has used the drug for an extended period of time. Finding a treatment center will help addicts slowly and safely detoxify their bodies before transitioning into proactive treatments. Many facilities focus on methods that retrain the brain. Understanding effective coping mechanisms and accountability can transform an individual’s chances of recovery.

Wasted Nation

Prescription Drug Abuse Treatment

Sales of prescription drugs specifically pain medication continues to increase at unprecedented levels. As a result, prescription drug abuse and addiction and prescription drug abuse treatment is continuing to increase at levels previously unheard of.  The Centers for Disease Control has stated that prescription drug abuse and addiction has reached an epidemic level in the United States.  Furthermore, the problemprescription drug abuse treatment of prescription drug abuse is overwhelming state and county resources by filling up jails, emergency rooms, and county supported prescription abuse treatment programs.

The epidemic of prescription drug abuse and prescription drug abuse treatment has evolved through the years from its beginnings with pain killers like Oxycontin in the late 1990’s.  At this time Oxycontin became known as “Hillbilly Heroin” as a result of its popularity in the Appalachian region of the United States.  From there it spread to Florida and its “pill mills” where greedy doctors saw an opportunity to make a quick buck by over prescribing pain medications to clients whose “pain” symptoms were questionable.

As a result of their ease of abuse, prescription pain medications have been modified as a reaction to the epidemic of pain medication abuse.  In spite of the changes, however, prescription drug abuse has continued to increase in the United States as opiate addicts have reacted to the changes in pill manufacturing to continue to chase the high they seek.  Along with this has come a whole new population of addicted Americans with no prior history of drug abuse because of the highly addictive nature of new opiate-based pain medications.

Addiction treatment centers across the United States have also kept pace with the changes and continued to modify their method of prescription drug abuse treatment.  As with other forms of opiate abuse and addiction, prescription drug abuse treatment begins with an opiate detox where the poisons are given a chance to leave the body.  After this, the detox phase of prescription drug abuse treatment is almost always followed up with further inpatient treatment at a facility that is familiar with the special needs of prescription drug abuse treatment.  If you feel you or a loved one has become addicted to prescription drugs, don’t wait to contact a prescription drug abuse treatment program to discuss your options for help.

Deaths from prescription drug abuse have risen steadily with the number of people addicted to prescription drugs.  Without help from a prescription drug abuse treatment program you or your loved one could easily become part of this statistic.

Opana Taking Over For Oxycontin

Pathways-- Opana Taking Over For Oxycontin -- 08-23-16A New Pill That Drug Treatment Providers Need To Be Aware Of

Oxycontin abuse in the Sacramento area and all of California continues to devastate families of all walks of life.  Education of the general public and in the drug treatment community is the key to effectively treating addiction to opiates like Oxycontin.  To be successful in the drug treatment efforts means that providers need to stay up to date on what’s going on with opiate abuse.

Prompted By The Change To Oxycontin Formula?

The formulation for Oxycontin was recently changed in an effort to make it harder for addicts and other people to abuse the drug.  As a result, many people that have become addicted to Oxycontin have switched to heroin or other forms of opiates to chase the high they seek.  A new prescription drug that is starting to become available on the street is a pill called Opana.  This is resulting in an accelerating number of drug treatment intakes for Opana in relation to drug treatment intakes for Oxycontin.

Oxymorphone Hydrochloride

Opana, also known as oxymorphone hydrochloride, is in the Opiate family and almost twice as potent as Oxycontin. It is a morphine-like opiod agonist and can be abused like other opiod agonists. Opana can be crushed and chewed, snorted, or injected. If the user is not aware of the potency of Opana, they are at great risk for overdose or possibly death. Even users with a high tolerance for Oxycontin can easily overdose on this powerful new drug.

Opana Legal Status

The DEA classifies Opana as a schedule II narcotic and indicates the potency as two to eight times that of morphine; it also produces more sedation than morphine. According to one regional healthcare provider 7.5 mg of Opana is equivalent, in terms of strength, to 30 mg of morphine.

Side Effects of Opana

Some of the side effects of Opana that drug treatment providers should be aware of include shallow breathing, slow heart rate, seizures, cold and clammy skin, confusion, severe weakness, vomiting and dizziness.  In other words, the symptoms of Opana abuse exhibited are similar to other opiates.  When mixed with alcohol or other pain killers dangerous results can occur-including death.

Street Price of Opana

The reported street price of Opana is $35 to $50 per pill as compared to $60 to $90 for an 80 mg old style Oxycontin pill.  So not only is it cheaper than Oxycontin, but Opana has the same attractiveness to users that Oxycontin has-it’s not heroin and it’s sometimes prescribed by doctors giving it the aura of being "OK" to abuse.  Street names for Opana include blues, blue heaven, new blues (even though some of the pills are pink and off-white), octagons (extended release), stop signs, pink, pink heaven, biscuits, pink lady, Mrs. O, Orgasna IR, OM, Pink O, The O Bomb and others.

Opana Addiction

The same vicious cycle that exists for Oxycontin exists for Opana.  The high is good, or the pain is relieved, which leads to additional use.  Before the addict or the patient knows it, they are hooked and usually require a structure drug treatment program to "kick" their addiction to Opana.  The body becomes dependent and the withdrawal symptoms are rough.  This drives the user to seek more of the drug to relieve their Opana withdrawal symptoms.  As their Opana abuse continues their tolerance continues to go up which makes their withdrawal symptoms even worse.

By this time they need to seek higher doses of the Opana to relieve their withdrawal symptoms, kill the pain they perceive, or achieve the high they are seeking.  If money is tight for the Opana addict or their prescription has run out, the odds are they will switch to heroin which is much cheaper and more readily available.  If they don't seek drug treatment at some point, their continued opiate abuse (Opana or heroin) will eventually lead to their demise.

Treatment for Opana Abuse, Dependency, Withdrawal and Addiction

While this cycle of addiction is nothing new, there is a need amongst drug treatment providers, parents and loved ones to be aware of the drug.  Drug treatment for Opana abuse will be similar to other opiates.  The first step in drug treatment will be an opiate detox treatment followed by addiction counseling, inpatient residential drug treatment, and possible 12 step meetings.

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If you or a loved one has become addicted to Opana (or any other opiate for that matter) contact Pathways Recovery to discuss your options for drug treatment.  The first step towards a happy and healthy life is only a phone call away.