Tag Archives: substance abuse

3 Easy Questions To Remember When Your Doctor Prescribes You Pain Pills

Pain is part of life. Everyone will experience pain at some point, whether it’s minor or more severe. You may take a nasty spill, or perhaps you need surgery, or else, you’re injured in a car accident. Anyone could find themselves needing the assistance of prescription pain medications to control their pain until the body heals. Pain causes stress and isn’t conducive to the healing process. If you need short-term treatment of moderate to severe pain, your doctor will likely prescribe some type of narcotic medication to ease your pain.

More About Narcotic Therapy

Narcotics are prescribed for pain because they are very effective. However, they also carry the potential for addiction. Everyone has different brain chemistry and therefore will respond to narcotic pain medications differently. Some are even genetically pre-disposed to addiction and don’t discover this until after they have taken a narcotic and become addicted to it. However, this is very rare. If you have a painful condition and your doctor thinks that narcotics are warranted, you should listen. If you’ve actually had an addiction problem before, even with a different substance, such as alcohol, you should let your doctor know. He or she will decide from there the best course of action for you.

Key Questions to Ask Your Doctor

Be proactive in your medical care. Ask questions! It’s your right. Let your doctor know your concerns. It is his or her job to listen to you and take your concerns into consideration during your care. Keep these three questions in mind when your doctor thinks you need narcotic medication:

  • What are some possible side effects?

Be sure you understand the major possible side effects. Take your pain medication EXACTLY as prescribed on the bottle. If your doctor is unavailable for future questions, don’t hesitate to call the pharmacy and ask to speak with a pharmacist.

  • Is there an alternative?

Depending upon your pain level, it’s possible that a much weaker pain medication would work for you. There are also non-narcotic pain medicines, such as those similar to ibuprofen, that may work for some people. Keep in mind, though, that this class of drugs isn’t likely to control severe pain.

  • What about the risk of addiction?

Overall, this risk is low, but it does exist. Most of the time, the pain-relieving benefits of narcotics far outweigh any risk of possible addiction. Your doctor will probably tell you this. Still, if it’s a concern for you, say so.

We are always willing to help in any way we can. Call us at (800)737-0933

Why Do They Still Prescribe Opiates If They Cause Addiction?

The United States is currently facing an opiate addiction epidemic, with opiate-related deaths quadrupling since 1999. There were approximately 19,000 deaths linked to opiates in 2014 alone, and it is estimated that up to 36 million people abuse these substances worldwide. Despite these numbers and all the problems that opiate addiction can cause, many of them are still being prescribed by doctors across the country. Some would argue that prescriptions for medications such as OxyContin, Percocet, and Vicodin should be taken off the market, while others believe that these drugs are helpful as long as they aren’t abused.

Opiates are often prescribed to help patients deal with pain after suffering an injury or while they recover from a major surgical procedure. They have also proven useful for those living with chronic conditions such as fibromyalgia, endrometriosis, and Ehlers-Danlos syndrome. These are all painful chronic conditions, and many people who live with them need some kind of medication just to maintain a good quality of life. Should they be expected to go without medicine that they arguably need because so many people abuse their prescriptions?

The Dangers of Opiates

The thing that makes opiates so dangerous is that they produce an intense high that makes them very addictive. The short-term effects of these drugs include pain relief and a feeling of euphoria. The relief from pain is attractive to anybody living with chronic pain or even acute pain from an injury, while euphoria is a common desired effect of many drugs. Abuse of opiates can also cause people to become addicted in as little as three days. Some of the side effects of opiate abuse include:

  • Drowsiness
  • Paranoia
  • Nausea
  • A depressed respiratory system

Long-term opiate use can cause problems such as chronic constipation, liver damage, and brain damage resulting from a depressed respiratory system.

With as dangerous and readily available as opiates are, should doctors stop prescribing them? Many people say yes, and the government has even encouraged doctors to avoid prescribing them. On the other hand, they do have their uses as long as they are taken as prescribed. Short-term opiate use can help people recover from injury and illness, but doctors need to make it clear that these drugs should only be used in the short-term.

If you believe that you are developing a dependence on opiates or you have struggled with substance abuse, there is help available. Contact us today to learn how you can recover from opiate addiction. Call Now 800-737-0933

New Synthetic Opioid “Pink” is Tied to Recent Fatalities

The Harris County Institute of Forensic Sciences has issued a warning about a new synthetic opioid. The drug has been detected in the system of three Houston people who have died recently. It is called “Pink,” “Pinky” or even “U4.”

The drug is a white powder that can be pressed into a pill form. It isn’t packaged in any type of unusual manner. Houston authorities aren’t the first law enforcement officials to encounter Pink; police in Park City, Utah, became aware of it when they were investigating the overdose deaths of two teenagers earlier in 2016.

Fatal Intoxication when Mixed with Other Substances

The chief toxicologist at the Harris County Institute for Forensic Sciences, Teresa Gray, explained that Pink is in the same class of drugs as hydrocodone, heroin and morphine. She said that it produces a feeling of euphoria among users, but can cause the person who takes it to stop breathing if the dosage is high enough. Gray said that users mix the Pink with other substances that, in combination, can cause a fatal intoxication.

Originally Created by a Pharmaceutical Company

Unlike some other street drugs which were originally cooked up in a laboratory, Pink’s origins can be traced to a more legitimate source. It was originally called U47700 and was made by Upjohn, a pharmaceutical company that was attempting to develop a new pain reliever.

The medication was never approved for use on humans or sold to the public. The patent was registered, however, and the drug’s formula found its way onto the Internet. From there, it started being produced in laboratories set up overseas.

The drug is available for sale online, and has now reached American streets. Buyers may not be aware of what they are taking or they may be buying heroin, cocaine or other drugs that have been cut with Pink. It’s a common practice for dealers to add other ingredients to street drugs, and buyers are not aware of what they may be taking along with their drug of choice.

Pink Declared a Controlled Substance

After the news of the untimely deaths attributed to Pink in 2016, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) sought an emergency order in November to have Pink designated a Schedule 1 controlled substance, making it illegal to possess, manufacture or sell it. Drugs in this category have no accepted medical use and have a high potential for abuse.

Lawyers Often Face Substance Abuse and Mental Health Issues

The American Bar Association and Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation have partnered to look at the rates for substance abuse and mental health issues among lawyers. The results of the study were reported in the Journal of Addiction Medicine.

Researchers used self-reporting surveys to gather information from 12,825 licensed attorneys. Study participants were almost equally divided among men and women (53.4 percent vs. 46.5 percent), with 31-40 years of age being the most common age group. Most of the participants described themselves as being White (91.3 percent), and the most commonly reported career length was 10 years or fewer (34.8 percent).

Anxiety and Depression a Significant Issue

The results of the research gathered showed that a significant number of respondents experience depression, anxiety and stress. The percentages were 28 percent for mild or higher levels of depression, 19 percent for anxiety and 23 percent for stress.

Problem Drinking Scored High Among Respondents

The respondents were asked to complete an Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT). More than 20 percent of them (20.6 percent) scored at a level “consistent with problematic drinking”; 25.1 percent of men surveyed drank at this consumption level compared with 15.5 percent of women.

Younger lawyers had a significantly higher level of alcohol consumption than older ones. Attorney under the age of 30 were most at risk for problematic drinking, with 31.9 percent of them engaged in this behavior. Lawyers under the age of 40 represented the next-highest risk group, with 25.1 percent.

Of the respondents who felt that drinking or use of other substances was a problem, over one-quarter (27.6 percent) said that their issue started before law school, 14.2 percent said that the problem started while attending law school and 43.7 percent said that the problem began within 15 years of completing law school. Just over 14 percent of respondents said that their problem with alcohol or substances started more than 15 years after completing law school.

Barriers to Getting Help for Substance Abuse

The survey respondents said that there were two main barriers to getting help for substance abuse: fear of others finding out they needed help and privacy concerns.

In light of these results being made public, hopefully more lawyers will realize they are not alone and feel comfortable about seeking help for substance abuse and mental health concerns. Treatment centers like Genesis House offer specialized rehabilitation programs to help professionals begin their recovery and return to work with new tools to remain sober.

The Economics Behind the Illicit Drug Trade

illicit drug tradeAlthough the illicit drug market has a very complex system of production and distribution, it still follows very simple economic rules of supply and demand. Regardless of where drugs come from or how much they cost, as long as people are still seeking them someone will find a way to capitalize on their plight.

The Drug Enforcement Administration’s System to Retrieve Information from Drug Evidence (STRIDE) database is a program that collects information regarding all aspects of illegal drugs. This can include market price and drug purity. These two variables help explain what is going on behind the drug dealing scenes on the streets. For instance, STRIDE has been able to show investigators that drug prices tend to decline over time. There are a few potential causes for this decline, but one interesting one has to do with substitution. When certain regulations, law enforcement changes and laws get enacted regarding a certain drug, many users will switch to something else. This means that the demand for the original drug has dropped, thereby decreasing the price. This type of information can show investigators if policy-changes are working, and what drug the addicts have shifted their attention to.

Another important factor when it comes to analyzing drug trends is purity. Purity, as it relates to illegal drugs, means how much actual drug (like pure heroin or pure cocaine) are in the drugs being sold to buyers. Most of the time when someone buys drugs off the street, they are buying very little pure drug, and a lot of additives. Investigators are able to measure the purity of confiscated drugs to determine the current purity levels of the drugs reaching customers.

When policy makers and law enforcement can look at data, like that provided by STRIDE, and see different drug trends across the country, they are better equipped to handle the problems. However, the wildcard in the illegal drug trade has been the pharmaceutical influence. Prescription drugs have become such a problem in the U.S. and are creating as much, if not more, havoc in America. This shows that whether the drug started out as something legal or not isn’t enough of a deterrent for users.

One of the arguments of harm reduction advocates is that if you legalize all drugs, then it will remove some of the value because supply will be plenty and instead more money will be available for treatment and prevention programs. We will probably never know if this would work, but we could divert more funding away from the law enforcement side of the problem and instead invest it into providing more education and rehabilitation services.

Connection Between Opioids and Marijuana Use Among Teens

prescription painkillersResearchers may have found evidence that prescription painkiller use is linked to early marijuana use. This information comes at a time when multiple states are in the process of legalizing marijuana, or considering putting the issue on the ballot for a future election. And while no state is looking to make marijuana legal for adolescents, it would seem that legalizing marijuana would make it easier for teenagers to obtain the drug, as has been demonstrated in the rising numbers in Colorado.

In a recent survey, 11,000 children and teenagers were asked a series of questions related to their drug and alcohol use. Included in these questions was whether they had used prescription opioids in the past 30 days and if they had ever used marijuana. After the data was collected, it was discovered that out of 11,000 participants, 524 had used prescription painkiller in the last month. Of those 524 children and teenagers, 80% had also used marijuana.

While this certainly does not mean that if you use marijuana you will definitely use painkillers, it does a show a link when it comes to drug experimentation (i.e. gateway drugs) and poly-drug use. There was also a correlation with alcohol and tobacco use, indicating that these substances that are becoming increasingly available to young people are contributing to further drug use.

On a policy level, our nation is continuing to send mixed messages to America’s youth. For a long time marijuana and cocaine were major focuses of prevention efforts, yet prescription drug and synthetic drug use has surged. Now we’re working to keep kids away from prescription drug abuse but telling them that smoking weed is okay when you’re old enough.

All of this seems to be missing the point of teaching kids and adults how to live without seeking out drugs for external stimulation. Without it, the patterns will continue to repeat, even though the types of drugs may change over time.

Neural Link Behind Stress and Alcohol Consumption Uncovered

neuronFor a long time scientists have known that stress plays a role in how much alcohol a person consumes. People under a lot of stress tend to rely more heavily on alcohol to minimize these feelings, but researchers and those in the medical community had a difficult time pinpointing why this was the case, physically. In an effort to better understand this phenomenon, researchers at the University of Pennsylvania conducted experiments on rats with different levels of stress and their relationship to alcohol.

The research team created stressful environments for some rats, while keeping others in a relaxed environment, each for one hour. After the hour, the rats were given sugar water laced with ethanol. The rats that had been exposed to stress were found to drink much more of the alcohol water than the rats that were not exposed to stress. This information was used to lead researchers down a path of discovery that revealed that stress compromises the reaction to dopamine in the brain. The results were published in the journal Neuron.

Dopamine is a naturally-occurring chemical that causes a person to feel good. The rats that were not responding the same way to dopamine then relied on the alcohol to provide that for them. The study also found that stress altered neuron physiology. After several stress trials, the rats’ brains required more and more alcohol, thus the rats consumed more alcohol when it was made available to them.

“These effects happen at the minute level of potassium, chloride, and other ions moving across the neuron outer membrane via channels and transporters. In addition, by chemically blocking stress hormone receptors on neurons, we prevented stress from causing increased drinking behavior,” explained Dr. John Dani, chair of the department of Neuroscience in the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania.

Interestingly, the research team was able to correct the alcohol-related dopamine response by administering a chemical called CLP290. This led to them being able to reduce the alcohol consumption and restore neural circuitry. According to Dani, “This line of research has implications for people with PTSD who have an increased risk for over-use of alcohol and drugs.”

Minimizing the amount of stress in one’s life, and finding healthier ways to be more resilient, is important for many health reasons. Stress can exasperate medical conditions, cause a person to lose or gain weight, and have a negative impact on their emotional state. Alcohol abuse can now be added to that list and researchers are hoping that this information can be used to help those struggling with stress to avoid developing an addiction to alcohol as well.

Students Become Ill After Ingesting “Lean” Drug Drink at School

leanFour students in the Buffalo Public School District became ill recently after ingesting a drug mixture called “Lean.” According to a report, the affected 8th grade students were taken to hospital by ambulance after trying the mixture, which was brought to school by a fellow student who shared it with three friends. All four affected students were treated and released.

What is “Lean”?

“Lean” (also called “Purple Drank” or “Sizzurp”) is a homemade mixture of over-the-counter (OTC) cold medication and sleep aids mixed with soda and candy. Prescription drugs may also be used to make Lean. Kids who make these dangerous concoctions usually find instructions online.

The ingredient that creates a “high” is either the codeine in prescription-strength cough medicine or the alcohol present in an ingredient OTC cold medicines. The other major ingredient in the OTC brands is DXM (dextromethorphan), which has been abused for many years by young people and sever addicts.

Dangers of Using Lean

Young people are most likely to experiment with using Lean. It can be a dangerous experience for them because each batch being prepared is different. In an effort to try to get high, Lean users are, in effect, poisoning themselves by ingesting large amounts of cough syrup and cold medication containing other ingredients. A group of teens or younger users may not know the signs of poisoning and be mature enough to call for help if someone in their group needs immediate medical attention.

Someone who starts using Lean regularly as an adolescent or teen may be on the slippery slope toward an addiction to codeine, or lead them to seek out other drugs.

Codeine Addiction

Codeine is an opiate. Although it is in the same category as morphine or oxycodone, it is not considered as strong as either of these two medications. Codeine is used to treat pain or suppress coughs.

When taken at a higher than recommended dose or for an extended time, codeine can be addictive. Over time, a person will develop a tolerance for codeine and need to take higher more to get the same effect from the drug.

It is important for parents, teachers and other mentors to take notice of these kinds of behaviors among growing teens, as the problems will likely escalate into more serious substance abuse issues. If you have a loved one in need of treatment, contact us today for more information about our successful recovery program, whether you are from New York or any other part of the country.

Hospitals Using Peer Recovery Support for Drug-Related ER Visits

peer supportAsk just about anyone who has been through treatment for a substance abuse problem in their lifetime and they will likely affirm that they received as much help from others in recovery as they did from professionals in the field like counselors and therapists. Their ability to relate to the situation and offer real-world advice and support can go a long way when people are in need of guidance.

Sometimes these overlap, when people in recovery go on to maintain their sobriety and earn official credentials through education and practical experience. In those cases the people continue to draw on their experiences to help others.

A growing trend in the field now is the idea of a recovery coach. These are people who do not diagnose or treat anything, but offer compassionate support for people in need during their recovery process. A recent news story shed light on one of the many uses of recovery coaches, which happens to be in hospital emergency rooms, and how more states are footing the bill.

In addition to Rhode Island taking the lead by putting peer support into each hospital, it is reported that Maryland, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Delaware, New Jersey, Wisconsin and New York are among other states working to implement similar strategies. This idea is also being promoted by the National Governor’s Association.

Recovery coaches are by no means a replacement for treatment. In fact they can be used to help people find appropriate treatment resources and continue to support them after completing a program. Research into the effectiveness of using peer support programs is currently being conducted, and many advocates are eager to be able to show the effectiveness of implementing these services as part of the larger continuum of care.

Sleep Habits May be Sign of Future Substance Abuse

Sleep and Substance AbuseWhile it has been known that adequate sleep is vital when it comes to physical, mental and emotional development, sleep patterns may also play a major role in the likelihood of future substance abuse, according to the results of new research published in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence.

Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and Pitt Department of Psychology released a study showing a link between lack of sleep among children and future marijuana and alcohol use. They were able to analyze data gathered from studies to look into the sleep habits of 11-year-old boys. They found that the children who slept the least or had the poorest sleep quality were more likely to abuse drugs as they aged. The researchers also found that the initial use of drugs was earlier for these children.

drug and alcohol dependenceUnderstanding the link between quality of sleep is another tool that parents can use to prevent their child from experimenting with and/or becoming addicted to drugs in the future.

“Treating problems with drugs and alcohol once they exist and preventing them can be challenging, and we are always looking for modifiable risk factors. Doing what we can to ensure sufficient sleep duration and improve sleep quality during late childhood may have benefits in terms of reducing the use of these substances later in life,” explained assistant profession of psychiatry and psychology Brant P. Hasler, Ph.D., who was the lead author of the study.

While the research did not investigate the causes of the poor sleep quality, it would seem that familial stressors, school problems and any other type of instability can play a major role in poor sleep. Children that have less parental supervision are also more likely to get poor sleep.

For those that are concerned with the amount or quality of sleep their child is getting, researchers suggest discussing this with the child’s physician. Diagnosing and handling a sleep issue is likely to be much easier than addressing a drug or alcohol addiction later on in life.