Tag Archives: Heroin

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

At Pathways Recovery, we pride ourselves on the services we offer to those who are ready to take the next step to heal. Our services include, but not limited to, drug and alcohol treatment, heroin detox treatment, and opiate detox treatment. At Pathways Recovery, we also offer a holistic treatment plan for those who might need a little more assistance in our comfortable and safe drug and alcohol detox center located in a quite and friendly residential area.Contact us today for any questions or to speak with a highly trained member of our staff. The first step starts with a call today for a better tomorrow.

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.

Pathways Recovery is a prestigious detox treatment center that services the greater area of Sacramento. Here at Pathways Recovery, we know how hard it is to start the road to recovery from drug and alcohol addiction while having compassion and patience for those recovering. We have many services to cater to each individual in regards to their lifestyle. Our detox treatment center is made to make everyone feel safe and at home with many of our services like opiate detox treatment, drug and alcohol treatment, and many more . Contact us today for further information over our services and see which one fits for you or a loved one. Don't think you are alone; we are here to help you on your road to recovery.

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.