Methamphetamine and Opioids: Drug Synergism Concerns

Methamphetamine

In 2011, 19% of opioid users said they also used methamphetamine; by 2017, that figure had risen to 34%, according to a study appearing in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence. The researchers concluded:

“Qualitative data indicated that methamphetamine served as an opioid substitute, provided a synergistic high, and balanced out the effects of opioids so one could function “normally.” Our data suggest that, at least to some extent, efforts limiting access to prescription opioids may be associated with an increase in the use of methamphetamine.”

In 2014, 14% of heroin users entering treatment in San Francisco reported also having a meth problem. A follow up in 2017 showed that 22% of heroin users seeking treatment in San Francisco had issues with meth too.

The numbers above are not an anomaly; methamphetamine is making a comeback across the United States. Although, some experts might argue that meth use never went away but was hiding in the shadows of the opioid epidemic.

The days of clandestine methamphetamine labs in the U.S. came to an end in the 2000s. However, government crackdowns had the unintended consequence of ushering in new opportunities for Mexican cartels.

Efforts to stem the tide of homegrown meth production in America were most successful at creating a windfall for the cartels. South of the border “super labs” sprung up to feed America’s growing demand for “crystal meth.” Mexican meth, sometimes called “ice” due to its purity, is stronger and less expensive than what was found on the streets a decade ago.

Deaths involving methamphetamine are steadily rising, particularly in the West, NPR reports. The link between meth and opioids is cause for concern; the surge in meth use is believed to be tied to efforts to confront the opioid epidemic.

The Impact of Rising Opioid Prices

Making it more difficult to acquire certain drugs does little to address addiction. Instead, it forces those who live with use disorders to take more risks and seek new avenues of euphoria. Most people are aware that the U.S. government has taken many steps to decrease access to prescription opioids. New legislation and prescribing guidelines forced many addicts to turn to heroin.

While heroin is less expensive than OxyContin, a habit can be hundreds of dollars a day. Maintaining an opioid addiction is costly, regardless of the drug in question. Opioids make people feel lethargic, which makes it difficult to hold down a job. Stimulants like meth provide many addicts the extra pep in their step needed to get to work.

Amelia, a recovering addict, tells NPR that meth enabled her to keep working so she could afford her heroin habit. She said that using stimulants to help her support the opioid use disorder developed into a pattern.

The heroin was the most expensive part,” she says. “That was $200 a day at one point. And the meth was $150 a week.”

There are other reasons why people use stimulants in conjunction with opioids—drug synergism. Addicts have been mixing heroin and cocaine (e.g., “speedballing”) for a long time; one drug enhances the effects of the other and vice versa. However, cocaine is often more expensive than heroin. Now, many people are using heroin and meth simultaneously to replicate a speedball; the admixture is commonly referred to as a “goofball.”

When a person is struggling with both a stimulant and opioid use disorder, it can complicate treatment efforts. Unlike opioids, there is no medication to help people with meth withdrawal. It’s it vital that treatment professionals pay close attention to polysubstance use disorder cases to prevent relapse.

Methamphetamine and Opioid Use Disorder Treatment

Mixing stimulants with opioids is a deadly combination; naloxone isn’t as effective on polysubstance overdoses. It is vital that individuals in the grips of meth and opioid addiction seek professional help immediately to avoid severe complications.

If you are an adult male who is struggling with a use disorder of any kind, please contact PACE Recovery Center today. Our gender-specific, extended care programs can help you break the cycle of addiction. We are available 24/7 to answer any of your questions about our multidimensional approach to substance use disorder treatment.

Mental Health Program Requires Funding

mental health

Health care is not free in the United States. Those who do not have insurance are unable to acquire elective services, even if they are potentially life-saving. Mental health care, whether it be for addiction or depression, is no different; many people do not get help because they lack financial resources.

In recent years, mental illnesses of the behavioral health and mood disorder varieties have come into the spotlight. Rising overdose and alcohol-related death rates and suicide have forced millions of Americans to take notice. Preventable “deaths of despair” have given many individuals cause for concern.

The reality is that there are not enough treatment centers, nor funding to provide evidence-based mental health care. Millions of Americans, many of whom are living in affluent parts of the country, are suffering needlessly. The situation is even more dire in rural America, where there may be one center or just a handful of mental health and addiction specialists for a radius of hundreds of miles.

Men and women who need assistance are unable to access it, and recovery is just out of reach for countless people. When one considers that we live in the most prosperous country in human history, facing the hard truths about mental illness is both perplexing and troubling.

In the last decade, lawmakers have introduced, passed, and signed into law legislation meant to increase funding and expand access to mental health care. The list of bills written to stem the tide of untreated mental illness and increase access to insurance parity include:

  • The Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008
  • The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010
  • The Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act of 2016
  • The 21st Century Cures Act (Cures Act) of 2016

Mental Health in America

Over the past few months, we observed several awareness campaigns focusing on addiction and mental health. June is PTSD Awareness Month; May is Mental Health Month; April is Alcohol Awareness Month; March is Problem Gambling Awareness Month; and, February is National Eating Disorder Awareness Month.

Whenever we cover the subject of national observances, pointing out the statistics is critical to catch people’s attention. Tens of millions of Americans are battling untreated mental health disorders. Those who would like to get assistance find it exceedingly challenging to do so. The human cost of not being able to find support is high; each day not in recovery can end in tragedy.

Many of the mental health-related awareness months deal heavily with ending the stigma that prevents people from recovery. However, a lack of funding for life-saving support is just as harmful than society’s attitudes about mental illness.

It’s fair to say that most people lack the financial resources to cover the costs of all or some of their care. Which means that the burden falls on the state, county, and municipal leaders to ensure less-fortunate people can access recovery services. Expanding access to care requires money, and the necessary funds can only come from one place: taxes!

Free Mental Health Care Program

San Francisco is no different than any other metropolis in America despite being the epitome of opulence and affluence. The city has its fair share of homelessness, drug use, and people struggling with various mental health problems. However, unlike Cleveland or Indianapolis, San Francisco is in California—home to many of the wealthiest cities in the nation. The Golden State is the fifth largest economy in the world.

Silicon Valley is just down the way from San Francisco; if it were a country of its own, it would be the second richest in the world, The Mercury News reports. Many tech companies, CEOs, and execs call San Francisco home. At street-level, just beneath some of the wealthiest Americans penthouses and tech company offices, people are crippled by mental illness symptoms.

Interestingly, San Francisco lawmakers would like companies with well-paid CEOs to foot some of the city’s mental health bill, Reason reports. The Board of Supervisors introduced a motion last week that would place a new tax on “disproportionate executive pay.” Companies paying top executives 100 to 600 times the median compensation of their employees would pay an additional .1 to .6 tax on gross receipts.

In November, San Franciscans will vote on two measures that could significantly help people living with addiction and other forms of mental illness. Six of the 11 supervisors support a disproportionate executive pay tax and a program called Mental Health SF. If voters approve both motions, the tax on CEO pay will cover some of the cost of a program that offers round-the-clock mental health services.

We have a crisis of people who are severely addicted to drugs and that have severe mental health illnesses that are wandering the street and that desperately need help,” said Supervisor Hillary Ronen.

California Mental Health Treatment for Men

At PACE Recovery Center, our team of highly trained mental health professionals specializes in the treatment of addiction and co-occurring mental illness. We also offer programs for men who do not meet the criteria for substance use disorders, but they struggle with anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, and PTSD.

We invite you to contact us today if you or a male loved one requires mental health assistance. Please call 800-526-1851 now to learn more about our behavioral health treatment team and mental health programs.

Recovery Communities Help People Succeed

recovery

On the road to long-term recovery, finding a community is essential. Most men and women who’ve had struggles with drug and alcohol and tried to get sober without assistance encounter problems. The modes of being that people utilized in active addiction – selfishness, self-centeredness, and isolation – are not the same that a person relies on for lasting recovery.

Individuals looking to make drastic changes for the better must embrace an entirely new mode of living. A paradigm shift in thinking about one’s self and others is required to make personal improvements stick. The old ways of living life will not suffice in the realm of addiction recovery.

Healing from alcohol and substance use disorder is a lengthy process. Time is a necessary ingredient; learning how to maintain a positive attitude in the face of stress doesn’t happen overnight.

Finding the courage to trust others isn’t easy; addiction makes it hard for people to look at others’ motives without suspicion. However, trust one must, if a man or woman is to make progress. The longer a person works a program, the less work it is to believe that peers have your best interest at heart when they make suggestions.

With each passing day, relative newcomers feel less and less alone. A sense of togetherness wells up inside individuals, providing them with the strength to keep moving forward.

Millions of people realize the gifts of recovery by working with others to achieve similar goals. Having a support network to rely on is the most vigorous defense against relapse. Abstaining from drugs and alcohol for a day or two is possible without help, but doing it for months or years requires outside help.

Community is Everything in Recovery

Many of those new to recovery, either in treatment or 12 Step meetings, are reticent about opening up. Finding a voice, and the courage to use it, can seem impossible to some. However, those unable to express their feelings initially learn to do so so by watching others do the same.

Hearing others share their daily struggles – such as the desire to use again – is empowering. It’s an acknowledgment that the disease is always trying to re-exert itself, and that talking about it diminishes its power. Sitting amongst like-minded individuals who all share similar challenges, collectively saying to their disease ‘not today,’ is a remarkable experience.

Recovering alcoholics and addicts draw strength from their community. Such people find solutions to everyday trials and tribulations by talking about them with a sponsor or trusted confidant. When a young man works the Steps with another man, their eyes become open to a world of possibilities.

Real friends are made through working a program of recovery. The very people who serve as a person’s guide toward a better life often become their most essential companions.

The connections made between men and women in “the rooms” are selfless, genuine, and enriching. Friendships made in sobriety feel meaningful because they are bound by honesty, open-mindedness, and willingness.

The recovery community gives people the freedom to be themselves, to no longer mask who they really are and feel accepted. Drugs and alcohol erode men and women’s authenticity; recovery builds it back up. Again, it is a process that requires more than abstinence alone. The Steps are a formula for more than sobriety; they are a recipe for being a whole person.

12 Step Recovery 84th Anniversary

In 2019, countless people around the globe owe some part of their ability to heal from addiction to a 12 Step recovery program. For those who embrace the principles of Alcoholics Anonymous, you probably know that Founders Day Weekend was just celebrated across the country.

It has been 84 years since Bill Wilson had a conversation with another alcoholic, Bob Smith, about a solution. Each year, recovering alcoholics and addicts acknowledge the importance of that meeting and the program that followed.

What started as two alcoholics working together to never drink again no matter what is now a community of millions of people. Bill W. and Dr. Bob’s fortuitous friendship led to an untold number of connections of a similar nature.

Gender-Specific Addiction and Mental Health Treatment

At PACE Recovery Center, we help adult men get to the root of their behavioral and mental health issues. Men work together and form lasting bonds with each other; in doing so, they learn the importance of community.

We offer several programs to address the unique needs of each client adequately. Please contact us today to learn more about our services and to begin creating a plan for finding long-term recovery.

PTSD Awareness Month 2019: Treatment is Available

PTSD

Addiction and trauma often go hand in hand; many people cope with post-traumatic stress by self-medicating. Severe physical or mental injury can lead to troubling symptoms, such as flashbacks, nightmares, insomnia, avoidance, hypervigilance, anxiety, and depression. When PTSD goes untreated, men and women look for relief; alcohol and illicit drug use often become people’s remedy.

As many individuals know, using mind-altering substances to cope with symptoms of mental illness is a slippery slope. What starts as a method of quieting one’s mind can quickly morph into an alcohol or substance use disorder. Moreover, self-medication typically worsens the symptoms people are trying to ease.

Americans most often associate trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) with combat; those who witness the horrors of war can face lingering effects. However, mental wounds can arise from any experience that an individual lacks the ability to handle. Many factors can play a role in why some develop a condition and others do not. When it comes to average citizens, surviving abuse, natural disasters, and sexual assault can result in post-traumatic stress. It is vital that people who are suffering from psychological distress or re-experiencing trauma seek help immediately. The condition can progressively worsen over time, especially if drugs and alcohol are involved.

Signs of PTSD

Post-traumatic stress disorder can manifest in several different ways; it also affects people on a spectrum severity. Everyone experiences fear when they encounter scary or dangerous events; and, what they experience may bother them for a time. Still, most people are not haunted by troubling events and will bounce back to their usual self eventually.

Unfortunately, many men and women continue to experience psychological problems stemming from trauma. About seven or eight of every 100 people will experience post-traumatic stress disorder at some point in their lives, according to the National Center for PTSD.

The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) lays down the criteria for receiving a PTSD diagnosis. An adult must have all of the following for at least one month:

  • At least one re-experiencing symptom (e.g., flashbacks, nightmares, and frightening thoughts).
  • At least one avoidance symptom (e.g., staying away from places, events, or objects).
  • At least two arousal and reactivity symptoms (e.g., being jumpy, tense, or angry).
  • At least two cognition and mood symptoms (e.g., trouble remembering aspects of the trauma, negative thoughts, guilt or blame, or anhedonia).

PTSD Awareness Month 2019

Encouraging people to reach out for help regarding their difficulties with trauma is vital. Millions of Americans can benefit significantly from obtaining professional advice. But, like any mental illness, stigma often prevents those men and women from seeking treatment.

June is PTSD Awareness Month. Now is the time to get the message out: treatment is available, and it works. The U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs and several organizations are asking for everyone’s help; together, we can end the stigma and empower those struggling to seek professional assistance.

During PTSD Awareness Month, and throughout the entire year, help raise awareness about the many different PTSD treatment options. You can make a difference in the lives of Veterans and others who have experienced trauma. Everyone can help.

If you would like to get involved with Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Month, please click here. The VA offers several materials to guide your messages about treatment and recovery.

Addiction and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Treatment

People who have PTSD are between two and four times more likely to struggle with addiction than their peers who do not have the disorder, the journal Clinical Psychology reports. Individuals who are battling both PTSD and addiction must consult with treatment centers that are equipped to treat both conditions simultaneously.

Long-term recovery rests on addressing the dual-diagnosis along with the addiction.

Please contact PACE Recovery Center today to learn more about our men’s gender-specific treatment center. Importantly, one does not have to be diagnosed with a substance misuse disorder to participate in the PACE Mental Health Program. We are standing by to answer any questions you may have for yourself or a loved one.

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