Tag Archives: fentanyl

Addiction to Opioids and Finding Recovery

addiction

At times, the American addiction opioid epidemic appears to be an unwinnable battle. Lawmakers and public health experts continue to do everything in their power – ostensibly – to impede the trend of ever-increasing overdose death rates. Police officers and other first responders have the overdose reversal drug naloxone (Narcan) on hand. Many opioid use disorders (OUDs) and their families can acquire Narcan kits without a prescription in many parts of the country. More doctors are now exercising additional significant caution when prescribing drugs like OxyContin and Percocet. And, perhaps most vital, the states hardest hit by the epidemic are expanding access to addiction treatment. However, to everyone’s dismay, the overdose death rate continues to climb with each passing year.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued preliminary estimates for the overdose death toll in 2017, and the findings are disconcerting. In 2016, the national overdose deaths were right around 64,000 Americans, but in 2017 the number jumped 10.2 percent with overdoses killing about 72,000. The startling number is not a final count which means there is an excellent chance that the toll is even more concerning.

In spite of all the hard work of thousands of Americans, more people than ever are caught in the vicious cycle of opioid addiction. The primary driving force behind the record-setting overdose death rates is – without any doubt – synthetic opioids like fentanyl. It is worth pointing out that there are good signs that almost get lost in the noise of data, some areas are doing better. In parts of the country hardest hit by the epidemic, there are promising indicators thanks to public health campaigns and expanding access to addiction treatment, The New York Times reports. So far in 2018, it looks like the Commonwealth of Massachusetts will see a decrease in overdose fatalities.

Tackling Widespread Opioid Use

The two driving forces behind the increase over 2016 are synthetic opioid analogs, and more people are using opioids, according to the article. Brandon Marshall, an associate professor of epidemiology at the Brown University School of Public Health, would agree with the latter, he says the number of opioid users is increasing but not exponentially.

The C.D.C reports that synthetic opioid-related overdoses rose dramatically last year, whereas heroin, prescription opioid-related deaths fell. The agency says there is some evidence that fatal overdoses may have plateaued toward the end of last year, especially in the East. But, there is a reason to suspect things could get worse on the West Coast.

Chris Jones, the director of the national mental health and substance use policy laboratory, tells the NYT that drug distributors are discovering how to mix fentanyl with black tar heroin. Unlike the East Coast, the majority of heroin used in states like California is a black tarry-ish resin iteration of the drug. Black tar – experts say – doesn’t admix as well with fentanyl like the white powder heroin does found in states east of the Mississippi.

Persisting Stigma of Addiction

In 2016, a phone survey revealed that more than 2 million Americans were struggling with opioid use disorder. However, Dan Ciccarone, a professor of family and community medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, says the actual number might be closer to 4 million Americans. Why the 2-million-person discrepancy? Stigma! Many people are reluctant to share that they have a problem, even during an anonymous phone survey. Dr. Ciccarone, who researches heroin markets, adds:

Because of the forces of stigma, the population is reluctant to seek care. I wouldn’t expect a rapid downturn; I would expect a slow, smooth downturn.”

Naturally, anyone struggling with any form of addiction can do him or herself an excellent service by seeking addiction treatment immediately. While opioids are more likely to cause an overdose death than most other drugs, harmful synthetic opiates are showing up in substances other than heroin. Mixing fentanyl with cocaine, methamphetamine, and benzodiazepines is becoming more common. Unsuspecting addicts are at high risk, and the only sure way of avoiding contact with fentanyl is abstinence and working a program of recovery.

Addiction Treatment

We understand that the decision to seek treatment isn’t made lightly, and the stigma of addiction is daunting. However, those who can find the courage to seek assistance can and do recover from the impact of drug and alcohol abuse. At PACE Recovery Center, we offer clients struggling with addiction and co-occurring mental health disorders a safe and supportive environment. Our team of highly-skilled addiction professionals helps adult males overcome the challenges they have experienced due to alcohol and substance use disorders. Please contact us today to learn more about our specialized clinical treatment for men.

Recovery: Exercising Gratitude and Giving Back

recovery

With all the opioid overdose deaths occurring across the country each day, it is easy to forget that for each tragedy there is a second chance (i.e., recovery). Now that first responders and the families of addicts can access naloxone, or Narcan, with greater ease, it is possible to reverse the deadly side effects of some opioid overdoses. In the blink of an eye, a person can become a hero thanks to their quick response in administering the life-saving antidote.

Today, the majority of EMTs, firefighters, and police officers carry naloxone kits in their vehicles. In the wake of the American opioid addiction epidemic, the need for overdose reversal has skyrocketed. In recent years, the easy to use drug has become one of the essential tools among those whose job it is to come to the aid of others. What’s more, many addicts and their families can acquire Narcan with relative ease, and in some states without a prescription. Expanding access to naloxone has saved countless lives, considering that many reversals go unreported.

Those who survive a drug overdose are usually pretty shaken up and for a good reason. Walking the precipice between life and the hereafter is a traumatic experience, by anyone’s standards. One could even argue that being within a hair's breadth of perishing, is as about as close to a “bottom” as any one person can get when battling substance use disorder. As a result, many advocates for recovery seize on such an opportunity to reach people who could benefit from addiction treatment services.

An Opportunity for Recovery

While not every person’s overdose is a catalyst to seeking recovery, there are some who do find help. Many addicts are starting to understand that fentanyl exposure is becoming more and more common. Those same people are learning that naloxone isn’t always capable of bringing them back from an overdose involving dangerous synthetic opioids. And, given that many addicts experience several overdoses during their using tenure, it’s likely the odds of returning to consciousness diminish each time.

Fentanyl isn’t forgiving! It was never intended to be administered without medical supervision. What’s more, even when a person is aware that their heroin contains fentanyl, it’s difficult to gauge a safe dose. As a result, seasoned addicts are succumbing to opioid toxicity. If ever there were a time for opiate addicts to consider treatment and recovery strongly, the time is now.

Synthetic opioids are more common than ever, and experts do not expect that trend to wane in the coming years. At PACE Recovery Center, we implore each person struggling with opioid use disorder to seek addiction recovery services. Recovery is possible; recovery is life-saving!

Giving Back In Recovery

In the rooms of recovery people often talk about paying it forward. Once individuals have a foundation for building a new life they can begin making efforts to help others. Another critical facet of working a program is selflessness; being of service to other people (not just those who are in recovery) whenever possible. Little acts of kindness can have a remarkable impact on one’s life, and they can help individuals stay clean and sober. It feels good to provide unsolicited assistance to anyone, even perfect strangers.

An instance of kindness and gratitude made the news recently, involving six (6) EMTs, a recovering addict, and an IHOP. Last Friday, six emergency services volunteers were eating breakfast in Toms River, New Jersey. When it was time to pay the bill, members of the Toms River First Aid Squad learned that their check was taken care of by an anonymous woman, WSMV reports. The EMT’s receipt for $77 said: "Paid, thank you for all you do! Have a great day!" — signed: "Recovering Addict."

Alyssa Golembeski, captain of the Toms River First Aid Squad, asked the IHOP manager if they could thank their benefactor only to learn that she wanted to remain unknown, according to the article. Captain Golembeski said she doesn’t know if the anonymous woman is in recovery from opioid use disorder. But, she added that the opioid crisis is terrible in New Jersey, which made the act of kindness all the more special.

This gift was amazingly thoughtful, and brought our table of tired EMTs to tears," the squad posted on Facebook. "We are so blessed to be able to serve you and everyone else who lives and works in the greater Toms River area. Good luck on your journey of recovery!"

Opioid Use Disorder Treatment for Men

PACE Recovery Center is a gender-specific, specialized treatment for men struggling with addiction and co-occurring mental health disorders. If you are in the grips of an opioid use disorder, please contact PACE as soon as possible. We can help you make lasting recovery your reality!

Opioid Use Disorder Tackled On A&E INTERVENTION℠

opioid use disorder

Last year, we had the opportunity at PACE Recovery Center to help a young man break the cycle of addiction and begin the life-saving journey of recovery. Many of our regular readers probably remember the excellent work we did with A&E’s program INTERVENTION? The show directed their spotlight on then 23-year old Sturgill who, like so many young Americans, developed an opioid use disorder. His story was not too dissimilar from a significant portion of the more than 2 million opiate addicts in the U.S., Sturgill’s opioid use disorder stemmed from painkillers prescribed for an injury.

Opioid addiction and the eponymous epidemic is the result of liberal prescribing practices. The trend of overprescribing arose out the pharmaceutical industry’s effort to spread false or misleading information about the dangers of drugs likes OxyContin. Once patients became addicted to their painkillers, the majority found little recourse for dealing with their condition, due to limited access to addiction treatment services.

The situation in America today is not any different from when Sturgill came to PACE for assistance, the problem in America is dire. The number is not in yet for 2017, but overdose deaths are expected to surpass the previous year, which boasted the highest death toll on record. Efforts to curb the epidemic have shown some promise, to be sure, although the outbreak is far from coming to an end. Doctors still prescribe opioids with little prejudice, patients don't receive info about opioid-alternatives for pain, and treatment centers in most of America are challenging to access.

What’s more, prescription opioids are only one facet of the epidemic; heroin, fentanyl-laced heroin, and fentanyl pills disguised as popular painkillers continue to steal American lives.

A&E INTERVENTION℠ Tackles Heroin

Last week, A&E kicked off its new season of INTERVENTION℠; this year the show's producers decided to focus on the opioid addiction epidemic. The first episode directed viewer’s attention to what is dubbed the heroin triangle north of Atlanta, according to Daily Report. The triangle includes affluent Cobb, Fulton, and Gwinnett counties, is struggling with opioids; Cobb County District Attorney Vic Reynolds hopes the show will draw people's attention to the heroin crisis throughout the country. He’d also like people to see some of the novel approaches utilized in North Atlanta; in an interview, DA Reynolds echoed what many experts have said about addiction for decades:

We cannot arrest our way out of this heroin epidemic,” Reynolds said. “It cannot be done.”

The series premiere last Tuesday included two one-hour episodes; if you missed them hopefully, you can catch a rerun. For the next seven weeks (Tuesday at 9 PM) INTERVENTION℠ will cover aspects of the epidemic in the areas affected greatest.

As a testament to the severity of the country’s current opioid crises, this season focuses on the victims of this epidemic and exposes the widespread impact of addiction on a community-wide scale,” Elaine Frontain Bryant, head of programming for A&E Network, said in a news release. “We are extremely proud of the tremendous work of our interventionists and we hope the stories told this season serve as a beacon of hope to those suffering directly and indirectly from opioid addiction.”

Opioid Use Disorder Recovery

When mainstream media sheds light on public health epidemics like the opioid addiction crisis, it can lead to progress. Putting human faces to something that people mostly understood via statistics opens people’s minds to the true nature of addiction. The problem we face is a disease, a mental health disorder that has no known cure but is treatable, effectively. It should go without saying that addiction treatment is the most effective tool used in addressing the epidemic. Recovery is possible if people have access to the necessary resources.

If you are one of the millions of Americans touched by opioid use disorder, please contact PACE Recovery Center.

Opioid Addiction Epidemic: A Perfect Storm

opioid addiction

The opioid addiction epidemic in the United States is nothing, if not a “perfect storm.” All of us in America are acutely aware of the devastation caused by this insidious family of drugs. We have seen how overprescribing and a lack of emphasis on addiction treatment has morphed into a catastrophic problem. One comprised of millions of addicts caught in a vicious maelstrom of mental illness, unable to access the help they need. At least, in most cases. Practically everyone across the country knows (or has known) someone who has been touched by opioid addiction. It is highly likely that you were acquainted with a person who died from an opioid overdose. Perhaps it was a loved one.

Given the unprecedented nature of this epidemic, finding ways to stem the tide of opioid use has been a challenge. For nearly two decades Americans, some of whom were young adults, often found themselves on the road to addiction by way of a prescription opioid. Those who already had a propensity for developing the disease became caught in the cycle before they knew what hit them. It does not take long for dependence to set in. And once it does, the future holds little good, short of hopefully finding recovery one day. That is if an overdose doesn’t steal one’s life beforehand.

Some of you reading this may be saying to yourselves, ‘But… Isn’t it more difficult to acquire prescription opioids, now?’ Well, in many cases that is an accurate perception. However, it is still relatively easy for people to get ahold of prescription opioids. Either through a doctor, or on the streets. Many Americans have few qualms about giving a friend or family member some of their painkillers. Despite the inherent dangers of doing so.

Opioid Addiction Epidemic: The Perfect Storm

Like all great storms, they are usually made up of several weather fronts coming together. In the case of the opioid addiction epidemic, many addicts struggling to acquire prescription opioids have turned to heroin. A drug that is easier to get, less expensive and often more potent. The drug is even more dangerous (of late) due to the introduction (unbeknownst to the user) of the analgesic fentanyl. A powerful painkiller that causes severe respiratory depression, being 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine.

In 1991, a nor'easter named the Halloween Gale consumed Hurricane Grace off the eastern seaboard. Thus, creating a new hurricane that morphed into a catastrophic cyclone over the Atlantic. You might be familiar with this weather event, being popularized by author Sebastian Junger in his book The Perfect Storm. It tells the story of the Andrea Gail, a commercial fishing vessel lost at sea during the storm. Perhaps you saw the movie? So, what does this have to do with addiction?

One way to look at it is this, rampant over prescribing of opioids (hurricane). Reduced prescribing leads to greater demand for heroin, “graciously” supplied by Mexican Cartels (nor'easter). A new hurricane is created, which is then accelerated by fentanyl to become a cyclone. A veritable perfect storm of addiction and death.

There is a noticeable difference between the Perfect Storm of 1991 and the perfect storm that began roughly ten years later with prescription opioids. The latter was man made. Surely there are some who could argue that 1991 may have been the product of climate change, but that topic is for another blog. With regard to addiction, Americans created this epidemic—so it is up to us to find our way out of this tempest of mental illness. Addiction treatment is the answer.

Addiction Treatment Via Surrender

Last December, we covered an important topic regarding the opioid addiction epidemic. And, the idea that addiction can’t be arrested away—only treated. We have written about the dismal failure that is the American “war on drugs.” There is little need for debate, draconian drug sentencing laws do little to curb addiction rates. Opioid use disorder treatment, on the other hand, saves lives without the use of handcuffs and cell bars. A mindset shared by the Gloucester, Massachusetts Police Department.

In 2015, the former Chief of Police in Gloucester created the Police Assisted Addiction and Recovery Initiative (PAARI). When we first wrote about PAARI, 160 police departments nationwide were using the model to help addicts find treatment. PAARI, otherwise known as “Angel Programs,” encourages addicts to surrender their drugs and treatment will be arranged. No criminal charges, no jail time. Just treatment and continued recovery (hopefully).

Today, there are more than 260 law enforcement departments in 30 states using the model, ABC News reports. To be sure, the Angel Program conceived in the commercial fishing town of Gloucester has not prevented overdoses from happening, outright. But, every person helped into addiction treatment is potentially one fewer overdose.

Opioid overdoses are soaring in much of the country, and the total for Gloucester might well have been higher if not for the ANGEL program," said Keith Humphreys, a psychiatry professor at the Stanford's School of Medicine.

Calming the Storm

So, let’s bring the nautical theme of the opioid addiction epidemic and PAARI full circle. For starters, the Andrea Gail and her crew lost in the Perfect Storm of 1991 was based out of Gloucester. The Angel Program was devised in the very city synonymous with the Perfect Storm. While naloxone couldn’t have helped the crew of the Andrea Gail survive their storm, it is helping other fisherman today, survive the storm of addiction, that is. Gloucester police Chief John McCarthy says that officials have been distributing the overdose reversal drug naloxone to boat operators. Training fishing crews on how to use the life-saving overdose antidote at sea. Heroin is deadlier than hurricanes. Hopefully those who survive an overdose will be referred to treatment and find recovery.

Are you a young adult male struggling with opioid use disorder, or do you have a son who is battling addiction? PACE Recovery Center can help you break the cycle, and teach you how living a life of addiction recovery is possible.

Fentanyl and Heroin: A Deadly Mixture

fentanyl

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.

Synthetic Opioids, A Real Threat

synthetic opioidsSurely, we can all agree that opioid narcotics should be the main focus of substance use prevention efforts in the United States. Americans continue to lose their lives every day from prescription opioid and heroin overdoses; many of those overdose deaths involve young adults caught in the grips of addiction. Opioid use disorder rates are well over 2 million Americans, and some experts believe that that number is actually much higher. Unlike other addictive narcotics, drugs in the opioid family can cause serious respiratory depression. It only takes a little bit too high of dose for one to experience an overdose, and without access to the lifesaving overdose reversal drug naloxone, the outcome can be fatal. While drugs like heroin are already deadly enough, the narcotic is commonly mixed with even more potent synthetic opioids, such as fentanyl. Experts estimate fentanyl to be about 80 times more potent than morphine, and as much as 50 percent more potent than medical grade heroin. It is a drug that was never meant to be used without the close supervision of medical personnel, yet overdose death cases involving the drug are more and more common these days. Unfortunately, naloxone is not as effective with fentanyl-laced heroin as compared with heroin on its own, or with synthetic opioids all together.

Synthetic Drug Epidemic

The prescription opioid/heroin epidemic has proven to be next to impossible to curb, with so many variables to contend with between prescribing practices and the growing demand for heroin in the wake of prescription opioid government crackdowns. The matter is complicated even more by the fact synthetic opioids are becoming ever so common, some of which are not even illegal and can be purchased online by teenagers. Talk of synthetic drugs in the U.S. is usually with regard to “bath salts” or Spice (synthetic cannabinoids), along with a number of other chemically similar variations. There are zero standards in the synthetic drug world, which means that users have no way of predicting how they will react to those types of drugs. It is likely that you have heard the horror stories about violent attacks involving synthetic drugs. Government officials continue to attempt to make it harder for people to acquire such drugs, but is has proved to be a difficult task; every time a chemical formula is banned, chemists simply alter the composition. Teenagers and young adults can easily, and inexpensively purchase synthetic drugs, and they do so despite the dangerous side effects they might experience. While overdose deaths involving synthetic cannabis are relatively rare, when it comes to synthetic opioids that is simply not the case. What’s more, synthetic opioid death rates are likely to go in only one direction, due to the rise in the use of a family synthetic opioids—relatives of fentanyl. Such drugs include:
  • ifentanyl
  • carfentanil
  • furanyl fentanyl
  • U-47700
“Pink,” sold online under the name U-47700, is an unregulated synthetic opioid which could be up to eight times stronger than heroin, NBC News reports. The drug is being purchased online for $5 plus shipping, an appealing price tag for a potent drug.
This stuff is so powerful that if you touch it, you could go into cardiac arrest," said Police Chief Wade Carpenter, Park City, UT. "The problem is if you have a credit card and a cell phone, you have access to it."
Please take a moment to watch the short video below: If you are having trouble viewing the video, you can see it here.

Merging Epidemics

At this point, the line between the opioid use epidemic and the synthetic drug scourge in America is blurring. If it weren’t easy enough already to acquire, try and become addicted to opioids, the surge in online synthetic opioid sales is concerning. The ability to buy drugs online appeals to, already Internet savvy, young adults. Many such users have no idea about the deadly nature of these drugs. If you are a young adult male abusing heroin or prescription opioids, please contact PACE Recovery Center. With each day that passes, there is a greater likelihood that a bag you buy will contain a deadly additive like fentanyl or carfentanil. Recovery is possible, and we can help you achieve it.