Tag Archives: Drug Addiction

National Methamphetamine Awareness Day Is Coming: What You Should Know

National Methamphetamine Awareness Day - Pathways Recovery CaliforniaNovember 30, 2016 is National Methamphetamine Awareness Day. Pathways Recovery is dedicated to eradicating all addiction, whether involving drugs or alcohol. We think it’s important, however, to know all you can about the various drugs out there. The more you know, the better you are able to avoid addiction.

Methamphetamine is highly dangerous and negatively affects hundreds of thousands of people every year. Yet, the recognition of National Methamphetamine Awareness Day is somewhat recent. It was first recognized in 2006, making November 30 one of the "younger" drug awareness days in America. As we learn more about methamphetamine and raise awareness of it, we can work to prevent more people from using this drug.

Why National Methamphetamine Awareness Day Is Important

Since 2012, there has been a rise in methamphetamine usage. In 2012, an estimated 1.2 million people reported using the drug in the past year. In a 2013 survey, an estimated 595,000 people in the United States used methamphetamine in the last month, as compared to 353,000 total users in 2010. In 2012, 19.4 percent of drug offenses involved methamphetamine. Many offenders were convicted for meth trafficking. Offenders were found in possession of 3.3 to 11 pounds of methamphetamine.

Surprisingly, sentencing for methamphetamine possession, trafficking and personal use has become less harsh since 2012. Although 98.9 percent of methamphetamine offenders were sent to prison, only 34.1 percent of offenders received the recommended minimum sentence or longer.

In the years between 2008 and 2012, 40 percent of methamphetamine offenders received a sentence outside applicable guideline ranges. In many cases, this was because the state or federal government encouraged a below-range sentence. While the average minimum sentence guidelines for methamphetamine use remains the same, average sentences have decreased.

Is There An 'Average Methamphetamine Offender'?

Most methamphetamine traffickers convicted in 2012 were male (about 80 percent). Just over half of these individuals had no prior criminal history, and 68 percent were United States citizens. In 2012, most methamphetamine traffickers were white or Hispanic (47.6 and 45.4 percent, respectively). Only 2.5 percent of traffickers were black, and 4.5 percent were of other races.

Methamphetamine users are often young. In 2012, the average age of someone sentenced for methamphetamine use or trafficking was 35 years old. About 23.5 percent of reported users were minors or participated minimally in the offense, which decreased their sentences. These statistics indicate the average methamphetamine user or trafficker is a young white male. However, anyone can use methamphetamine and become addicted, and they could face serious negative consequences.

Types Of Methamphetamine

When most people think of methamphetamine, they think of crystal meth. While this is a popular and dangerous drug, there are several other forms of methamphetamine.

Most users take methamphetamine in one of three ways: The first is crystalline, which comes in an ice or crystal form. The second is powder (also known as “speed”). Third, some people take the methamphetamine base.

Methamphetamine derivatives are also popular. One derivative is ecstasy, which is commonly sold as a tablet. Methamphetamine derivatives are sometimes used as ingredients in herbal or vitamin supplements because they increase the user’s energy.

The Effects Of Methamphetamine

Methamphetamine users swallow, snort, smoke or inject the drug. Many users choose methamphetamine because it provides short-term bursts of high energy and alertness. As with many other drugs, methamphetamine cause a sense of euphoria, which often leaves users addicted to the emotional high.

The high energy associated with meth can cause:

  • Increased talkativeness
  • Shaking hands
  • Teeth grinding
  • Profuse sweating
  • Jaw clenching
  • Dry mouth
  • Nervousness
  • Paranoia
  • Frequent meth usage often causes nausea and vomiting, decreased appetite, libido changes and aggression or hostility.

    The Dangers Of Methamphetamine

    Long-term methamphetamine users experience a range of severe physical, mental and emotional symptoms. Extreme weight loss as well as deterioration of the mouth, teeth and skin are all common. In some cases, meth users experience brain damage and memory loss, which can permanently affect cognition.

    Many meth users sustain organ problems, such as:

    • Weakened heart
    • Kidney damage
    • Liver damage

    If the methamphetamine was snorted or smoked, the user may suffer from respiratory diseases and damage to his or her nose, sinuses and lungs.

    The psychological symptoms associated with methamphetamine use are often debilitating, too. Meth users may experience mood swings or depression. Some engage in violent behavior. In some cases, long-term methamphetamine usage leads to psychosis, strokes and brain damage similar to Alzheimer’s disease.

    Awareness Brings Solutions

    If you or a loved one is suffering from any kind of addiction, not just methamphetamine (crystal meth), please call us today and speak to one of our specialists, no matter what the drug or alcohol addiction you face. We have the solution!

    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.”

    Are You An Enabler? | A Simple Questionnaire

    Pathways-- Are You An Enabler -- 08-23-16To understand if you might possibly be enabling someone's substance abuse and preventing them from seeking the addiction treatment they need, answer these questions with a "yes" or a "no":

    Are You An Enabler? : A Simple Questionnaire

    1. Do you call in sick for your loved one because they were too hung over to go to work or school?
    2. Have you ever told a lie to someone to cover up for your loved one's substance abuse?
    3. Have you had to pay bills for your loved one that they were responsible for?
    4. Have you ever done someone else's work for them because they failed  to complete it as a result of their substance abuse?
    5. Have you ever paid legal fees for your loved one or bailed him or her out of jail?
    6. Do you avoid talking you your loved one about their substance abuse because you are afraid of how they will react?
    7. Have you threatened to leave your loved one because of their substance abuse and then did not follow through on it?

    Yes or No Addiciton Enabling SurveyIf you answered "yes" to any of these questions, then it is quite possible you are enabling someone's substance abuse problem and standing in the way of them seeking the addiction treatment they need.  Addiction is a family disease and denial is a large part of it.  Denial of a substance abuse problem happens for both the addict and their loved ones when the issue is not confronted.

    Enabling creates an environment in which an addict can comfortably continue to engage in negative and risky behavior without consequences.  "Helping" someone means we are doing something for someone who is incapable of doing it for themselves.  "Enabling" is doing something for someone when they should have done it for themselves.  This will prevent change and a desire to seek addiction treatment.

    While enabling is a behavior that loved ones learn for their own emotional survival, it also prolongs the problem of substance abuse.  Don't be part of the problem, be part of the solution and help your loved one seek out the addiction treatment they need.

     

    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.

    How To Dispose Of Unused Medication

    How to Dispose of Unused MedicinesOccasionally, patients finish taking a medication without taking all the prescribed doses. In some cases, a physician may prescribe a medication on an as-needed basis. In others, the patient may fail to take all the prescribed doses for any number of reasons. Regardless of the situation, many people don’t know how to properly dispose of medications. This is your guide to disposing of unused medication in a safe and approved way.

    The Right Way To Take Medication

    In most cases, physicians prescribe the minimum doses needed to treat a medical condition. If a physician, pharmacist, or medication documentation encourages you to take the full recommended regimen, follow the instructions to the best of your ability. Unfortunately, many people fail to take their prescription medications as directed. Instead, they stop taking the medication without calling the doctor’s office or talking to a pharmacist.

    After a surgery or accident, physicians may prescribe a painkiller on an as-needed basis. Those who take fewer than the recommended number of pain relievers can decrease their risk of medication dependence. In these cases, stopping a medication may make more sense than consuming the entire bottle. However, patients should consider appropriate methods of disposal instead of holding onto a bottle after the recommended prescription period.

    How NOT To Dispose Of Medication

    When you find an old bottle of prescription medication, don’t:

    • Give the meds to someone else who describes the same symptoms you experienced
    • Sell them
    • Give them away for recreational drug use
    • Use them yourself for recreational drug use
    • Keep them on hand “just in case” (prescriptions do go bad over time, and you should always take controlled substances under the guidance of a physician)
    • Dump them down the drain or toilet (dissolved prescriptions can leech into the groundwater and contaminate ecosystems)
    • Throw highly addictive medication into household garbage
    • Try to send them back to the manufacturer (manufacturers can’t accept used medications for recycling or disposal)
    • Leave unused medications in your cabinet, particularly if they’re potentially addictive

    These methods of disposal can have long-reaching effects on other individuals, yourself, or the environment. If you aren’t sure how to dispose of unused medication, do some additional research using Google or ask your pharmacist for guidance.

    How To Properly Use And Dispose Of Unused Medication

    If you have any questions about the appropriate way to use, store, or dispose of a medication, contact your physician or a pharmacist. Prescription drugs may seem like a routine part of life, but handling them appropriately is critically important. Use these tips to properly use and dispose of unused medication:

    • Don’t move medications to different containers. The bottle/box has relevant information about dosing, side effects, and expiration dates. The bottle also protects certain medications from sun and moisture damage.
    • Read through prescription medication material. Ask questions at the physician’s office and at the pharmacy. Take the medication as prescribed and for as long as your physician directs. Pay close attention to any specific disposal directions.
    • Watch the expiration dates. Don’t take any medicine past its expiration date. Unlike food, medications can change after these important dates and may not provide the same effects or the same level of safety.
    • Always scratch out identifying information. Remove the label or scratch out any information on a medication bottle to protect your privacy and prevent others from identifying the type of medication you took.
    • Dispose of medications in an appropriate location:
    • You can dispose of prescriptions in household garbage if you mix it with something undesirable such as used kitty litter, coffee grounds, or old soup. Avoid using this method for highly addictive substances.
    • If available, take to a local “take-back” program. Locate a local program using the following resources:
    • American Medicine Chest This site offers an interactive map with local take-back sites.
    • World Medical Relief. This organization collects, evaluates, and redistributes unused medications to those in need around the world.
    • Your local pharmacist. Your pharmacist will take unused prescription medications back or have a list of resources you can use to safely dispose of potentially harmful substances.

    Unused medications pose a distinct threat to the health of others and to the environment. Use safe disposal practices to reduce instances of prescription drug abuse and for peace of mind. In addition to prescription drugs, review disposal methods for over-the-counter medications too.

    Naltrexone Alcohol Drug Rehab Assisted Recovery in the Midwest

    Pathways-- Naltrexone Alcohol Drug Rehab Assisted Recovery in the Midwest -- 08-23-16One of the latest tools in the fight against opiate dependence and addiction, Naltrexone is being used more and more throughout the Midwest to curb the problem of opiate abuse and dependence that is expanding nationally, and is now reaching the Western United States. This video is a great introduction to Naltrexone and the possibilities that it offers.

    Naltrexone breaks the cycle of addiction and gives new hope for alcohol and opiate dependence.

    Produced by ARCAmidwest.