Fentanyl and Heroin: A Deadly Mixture


The game has changed dramatically regarding illicit opioids in America. What was once a relatively unnoticeable trickle of fentanyl making its way onto the streets has become a whitewater torrent. This fact should be cause for concern for anyone currently abusing heroin or prescription painkillers purchased on the black market. Given that fentanyl has been linked with thousands of overdose deaths, in recent years. As the prevalence of the deadly analgesic increases, people with opioid use disorders would do themselves a great service to consider addiction treatment. Sooner, rather than later.

One not even need to do heroin mixed with fentanyl to experience an overdose; heroin on its own can be more than potent enough. People die from heroin overdoses every day in the United States. However, fentanyl makes something that is already deadly exponentially more fatal. It is worth remembering that fentanyl (depending on quality) is 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine. Opioids, like heroin or morphine, cause respiratory depression. Fentanyl, on the other hand, causes more prolonged respiratory depression. Taken on its own or as an admixture, the risk of overdose is great.

To make matters worse, the opioid overdose reversal drug naloxone is often ineffective with fentanyl. That is not to say it never works in cases involving the powerful narcotic. But, users should be aware that if they play with fire, water may not put it out. The fentanyl situation in America is made even more precarious by the fact most heroin users are not aware of the drug's presence. Making it next to impossible to dose “safely.”

To Fentanyl and Beyond

If you are actively abusing heroin today, it is not just fentanyl that you need to be worried about. Other analogues of the drug are being mixed with heroin or stamped into pills to resemble painkillers, such as OxyContin. Carfentanil is one analogue that has led to deaths, being approximately 10,000 times more potent than morphine and 100 times more potent than fentanyl, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH). U-47700, otherwise known as “Pink,” is an opioid analgesic that is around 7.5 times the potency of morphine. The drug has been mixed with heroin or stamped into pills, as well.

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has been quick to reign in fentanyl analogs of late. Aside from adding the deadly narcotics to the list of controlled substances, they have been pressuring China to ban their production and distribution. Just recently, China placed bans on U-47700 and 3 other compounds, Stat News reports. Hopefully, the bans, which take effect at the beginning of July, will translate to lives saved down the road. Only time will tell. In the meantime, it is important that people with opioid use disorder fully understand the risks. And, the likelihood of buying heroin or fake OxyContin that actually contains something more dangerous.

Fentanyl In Southern California

This month, the DEA busted three traffickers in San Diego who were in possession of 44.14 kilograms of fentanyl, according to a United States Department of Justice news release. It was the culmination of a long-term investigation, and was one the biggest opiate synthetic fentanyl seizures ever in the United States. With the federal indictments, the three individuals could face a maximum penalty of life in prison and up to $10,000,000 in fines.

Considering that just 3 milligrams is enough to kill an adult male, the 44.14 kilogram seizure represents over 14 million lethal doses.”

Fentanyl is a topic that is of the utmost importance to us at PACE Recovery Center. We specialize in the treatment of young adult males, a demographic whose heroin use and overdose rates has been on the rise. While the San Diego fentanyl bust is welcome news, it is probably only the tip of the iceberg. More and more of the drug will find its way into the country. Which is why it paramount that young adults abusing heroin strongly consider addiction treatment. Recovery is possible.

The longer one waits, the greater the risk. Please contact us today to discuss your options and to begin the lifesaving journey of addiction recovery.

Voluntary Addiction Treatment for Cannabis

addiction treatment

We find ourselves in a brave new world with marijuana. A good thing in several ways, especially regarding the impact the drug has on people’s lives. Specifically, fewer people are being sent to jail due to cannabis possession. This is a good thing, considering that our jails and prisons have long been filled with nonviolent drug offenders. needlessly serving unjust lengths of time because of draconian drug policy. To be certain, nobody who’s caught with relatively small amounts of marijuana should have to spend time in a cell. And in recent years, those charged with possession have been offered addiction treatment as an alternative.

Although, as more and more states embrace decriminalization and full, adult legalization—the need for such referrals is diminishing. Adults can now smoke “weed” legally in Alaska, California, Colorado, the District of Columbia, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington. Undoubtedly, more states will hop on board the marijuana legalization train in the coming years. Medical marijuana started as a trickle with California becoming the first state to launch a program. Now, a mere twenty years later, 29 states and D.C. have medical cannabis programs.

As you can probably imagine, those working in the field of addiction treatment have some concerns about marijuana in America. Our stance is certainly in favor of decriminalization, because no one should have to serve time for drug use. But, we must be leery about marijuana addiction, and elevated rates resulting from legalization. If you are like many Americans, there is a good chance that you believe marijuana is benign. Meaning, that it has a small likelihood of causing serious bodily harm. And for the most part you are right, at least when compared to other mind-altering substances. However, and we must be clear on this, marijuana can be habit-forming and cannabis addiction is a real thing.

Marijuana Addiction Treatment

Pop culture has helped create certain stereotypes about “pot” use. You have probably seen movies that paint a harmless-looking picture of marijuana addicts. Perhaps you have seen the movie Half Baked (1998)? If so, then you saw actor Bob Saget berate Dave Chappelle for being addicted to weed. For those who haven’t seen the movie, it doesn’t matter. The point is that in the realm of addiction, marijuana dependency is often viewed as being less legitimate. Believe it or not, there exists a kind of reverse hierarchy among addicts and alcoholics. Somebody with an opioid use disorder may look down upon a person seeking help for marijuana.

That being said, how others view your addiction is irrelevant. What matters is how it affects your life. No one should delude themselves into thinking that because marijuana is now legal—it’s harmless—because the exact opposite is true. Thousands of Americans seek addiction treatment for marijuana every year. Chronic cannabis use can have a negative impact on your cognitive abilities and there is a risk of dependence. People who find themselves dependent on marijuana do experience withdrawal symptoms during cessation.

Regarding cognitive deficits arising from cannabis use, teenagers and young adults are at particular risk. As an addiction treatment facility specializing in helping young adult males, we should join the narrative about marijuana. Young people need to have all the facts about pot. Thinking the drug does not carry risks just because it is now legal in your state is erroneous. Please remember, alcohol is legal and there is no shortage of suffering alcoholics in America.

Voluntary Treatment for Cannabis

Over the past few years, the number of people court ordered to addiction treatment for cannabis possession has declined. The byproduct of legalization. It must be noted that people court-ordered to treatment are not necessarily addicts. Being caught by the law doesn’t dictate having a substance use disorder. On the other hand, those who choose to go to treatment voluntarily probably have an issue worth considering. Evidence suggests that the number of people seeking addiction treatment voluntarily for cannabis use disorder is on the rise, The Washington Post reports. Evident by the overall number of people being treated for marijuana remaining stable, despite a 40 percent drop in court mandated treatment since 2011.

More people are using marijuana than ever in this country. It stands to reason that more young people will try and use the drug due to misconceptions about danger. The likelihood of greater numbers of people voluntarily seeking help is good. In Europe, the Netherlands has long had a light stance on the drug. Is it a coincidence that the Dutch also have the highest rate of seeking marijuana treatment in Europe?

If America is to blaze a different path than the Dutch, we need to be conscientious of the message being spread. Deterring young people from trying the drug will go a long way. Not by fear of punishment, but by giving them the facts. Marijuana is not benign, it can harm you. Dependence happens fairly often, and with it—addiction. If the drug is negatively impacting your life, please contact PACE Recovery Center today.

Alcohol Use: Colleges Deadliest Ritual

alcohol use

Young adults who go off to college typically have few allusions about the prevalence of alcohol use on campuses. Most have expectations of attending parties where drinking and drugging takes place, and know full well that they will probably partake in the use of such substances, at least from time to time. For others, drinking alcohol in unhealthy ways will be a weekly ritual. Engaging in binge drinking, which is when a male consumes 5 alcoholic beverages and female drinks 4 in a 2 hour -period. Over the course of the night, drinking in that manner can bring one’s blood alcohol level to dangerous, and even deadly, heights. Yet, both young men and women will take such risks several days in row, sometimes from Thursday to Sunday.

Try as colleges and universities might, educating young people about the inherent risks of alcohol use, especially regarding binge and high-intensity drinking (i.e. women/men consuming 8+/10+ drinks in a day), is a difficult task. People in their late teens and early twenties often forget the impermanence of existence. That is, they are not invincible.

All of us, especially those who are working a program of addiction recovery, at one point in our lives harbored false beliefs about what we could tolerate; we have views about what we can put our mind and body through without consequence. Most of our former errors in thinking we inherited from our peers, in many cases those who are older than us. You may have an older sibling or close friend that introduced you to drugs or alcohol at a young age. They may have encouraged you to do certain things without a second thought of the consequences. In most cases, people who are exposed to mind-altering substances early on actually move on to adulthood without any serious, life-changing costs. But for others, something quite different often occurs.

Alcohol Use Disorder In College

Most teenagers have their first drink in high school. Some parents will try to instill a healthy relationship with alcohol at fairly young ages (which often backfires). In other cases, initiation begins at parties, or with older siblings or peers of similar age. But for those who will go on to experience the unmanageability and true costs of heavy drinking, it usually occurs at and around schools of higher learning—where entire communities revolve around both a learning and drinking culture.

In many ways, campuses are the perfect environment to incubate the growth of unhealthy drinking patterns. From social drinking abuses at fraternities and sororities, to a wealth of parties where drinking games and drug use are rampant. Those who engage in heavy drinking on a weekly basis put themselves at serious risk of developing alcohol dependency, and some will develop an alcohol use disorder. This may not happen in college, but later down the road.

It is not uncommon for college students to need to seek help for an alcohol use disorder. Some will drop out, others will take a semester hiatus to go into treatment. At PACE Recovery Center, we know first-hand that a significant number of male students need help, but only a few receive assistance. Partly because it is easy for a young person to convince oneself that their consumption is on par with their peers, thus convincing himself that he doesn't need treatment. A college faculty is rarely equipped with skills to identify which students are in need of intervention.

Campus faculties across the country do work hard to mitigate the prevalence of alcohol consumption, and encourage students to exercise good judgment, if alcohol is to be imbibed. But, and by default, if alcohol is mixed into just about any equation, sound judgment has left the party a long time ago. And it is often only after a tragedy when a university realizes that several of their students needed far more than an hour-long orientation into the dangers of drinking, or having to take a class after being caught with alcohol in the dorm. It is usually only after a death, or several, before someone says, ‘wait a minute.’ The behaviors exhibited in Greek life should not be allowed to continue. Yet each year, young men die from alcohol and hazing related deaths.

One Drink Too Many Changes Several Lives

Naturally, in the field of addiction our primary focus is to encourage people to seek help when their lives have become unmanageable because of substance use. This is not always an easy task with young males. We know that when addiction is left unchecked, the risks of serious life problems and premature death are exponentially greater. But it is also important to discuss the risks of substance use even when addiction is not part of the equation, as is often the case in college.

Even when you are not the one who is injured because of alcohol use, there can be a cost. As is the case involving the death of student this year at Penn State University. A fraternity party in early February that involved alcohol hazing, caused 19-year-old pledge Tim Piazza to incur an estimated BAC of .40. After repeated falls, and then falling down a flight of stairs, Piazza sustained a collapsed lung, ruptured spleen, and a non-recoverable brain injury, according to NBC 10. A tragedy to be sure. But what has many people across the country alarmed is the fact that the Brothers of Beta Theta Pi did little if anything to help the sophomore pledge—failing to call for an ambulance until 10:48 a.m. the next day.

The New York Times reported last month that eighteen members of the fraternity were charged in connection with the death: eight were charged with involuntary manslaughter and the rest with other lesser offenses. The death of one young man will, in one way or another, change the lives of nearly twenty young men in the prime of their life. And for what?

Alcohol Use Can Be Deadly

Cases like Piazza are not unique. Sadly. There is little way of knowing what it will take to convince young people that the game they are playing with alcohol has the highest of stakes. Whether from alcohol-related trauma, or the development of an alcohol use disorder, little good comes from heavy drinking. If you have a son in college who you believe to be abusing alcohol, please contact PACE Recovery Center today. We specialize in the treatment of young males whose lives have become impacted by the use of drugs and alcohol.

Depression Affects Many Young People


At the beginning of May we wrote about depression, which was timely considering that the debilitating mental illness was the focus of the World Health Organization’s World Health Day (April 7, 2017). If you did not read the article, no worries, we can give you a little recap. The World Health Organization (WHO) launched a year-long campaign called, “Depression: Let’s Talk” to illuminate the public about the fact that over 300 million people around the world suffer from depression. WHO has determined that the mental illness is one of the leading causes of poor health in the world.

If people are unwilling to talk about the mental health disorder due to fear of social stigma, the whole world suffers. For every person touched by the illness, there are exponentially more people who are close to the afflicted whose lives are affected. By encouraging people to talk about their disease, we have a better chance of such people seeking help. In the realm of addiction medicine, it is abundantly clear that untreated mental illness of any form is correlated with an increased risk of substance use and abuse. Simply put, those who ignore their mental health disorder, by not seeking help, are on an easy course to addiction.

In the 21st Century, a time where the use of social media is ubiquitous, our ability to have open discussions about not only mental illness, but also the effective treatments available is significantly greater than in decades past. What’s more, the ability of scientists to disseminate facts about mental illness and that mental health problems beget other mental health issues—is greatly improved by the internet.

With that in mind, we also know now that problems like anxiety, depression and bipolar disorder often begin at a young age. And if it can be screened for early on, then it can be treated before behaviors like self-medicating with drugs or alcohol develop.

Depression Affects Teenage Boys and Girls

At PACE Recovery, we specialize in the treatment of addiction affecting young men. However, it is relevant to discuss how mental health is a problem for both sexes. A new study of data regarding children's mental health in the United States, showed that depression can begin in children at age 11, The Washington Post reports. The data indicates that 13.6 percent of boys and 36.1 percent of girls have experienced or are depressed by age 17. The results of the study highlight the importance of early screening. The findings were published in the journal Translational Psychiatry.

mental illness

The researchers admit that the reasons why females are at greater risk of depression in adolescence are not well understood, according to the article. Teenage boys, the data shows, are more likely to have problems with conduct, aggression and substance abuse; whereas depression appears to be much more common among girls. Understanding the reasons why for the time being, in many ways, pales in comparison to the importance of parents, teachers and medical professionals keeping a close eye for signs and symptoms of depression. Failure to do so, as you well know (probably), can have disastrous consequences—addiction and suicide to name a couple.

When you are seeing young people with symptoms consistent with depression it is really much, much better to get them connected to a pediatrician to get them a comprehensive mental health assessment and hook them into treatment sooner rather than later,” said study author Elizabeth Miller, director of the division of adolescent medicine at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh.

Young Adult Rehab Program

In a perfect world every child, of either sex, would be screened early on and regularly for mental illness. Unfortunately, we are not at that point, yet. The fact is, many young men experiencing symptoms of mental illness make it through high school without ever having been screened, and as a result turn to mind-altering substances to cope with their symptoms. As is clearly evident by the prevalence of young adults in need of substance use disorder treatment in America.

The good news or silver lining, in a sense, is that mental illness, whether it be depression, addiction or both, can be treated. Recovery is possible and the trained professionals at PACE Recovery Center can help you break the cycle of addiction and learn how to live a fruitful life in recovery. Please contact us today to begin the process, it is likely to be one of the most important phone calls you ever make.

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