Tag Archives: heroin

Addiction and Recovery is the Focus of ‘Beautiful Boy’

addiction

In the springtime, we wrote about a book-to-film adaptation many people in recovery and their family can relate to, being that addiction recovery is the focal point. The movie, which debuts one week from today is titled, “Beautiful Boy.” Some of our subscribers may be familiar with the story of journalist David Sheff’s arduous struggle to help his son Nic find recovery. David Sheff’s effort to get his boy help, and Nic’s resistance to receiving assistance (at first), is a story that millions of Americans are familiar with firsthand. The millions who’ve been witness to the power of a disease that does not go away without a fight, and certainly not quietly.

Nic Sheff’s use and abuse of a host of drugs during his teenage and young adult years brought him to his knees in despair. His addiction to heroin and methamphetamine showed a side of the Northern Californian that his family had never seen before; Nic’s loved ones watched powerlessly as substance use disorder transformed the young man into a stranger. They were witness to Nic’s lies, cheating, stealing, and worse to maintain his addiction; his multiple trips in and out of treatment; his relapses; and finally, his acceptance of his condition and dedication to living a life free from drugs and alcohol.

“Beautiful Boy,” the film, premieres around the country on October 12, 2018, and stars Oscar nominees Timothée Chalamet (Nic) and Steve Carrell (David). While the movie’s name comes from the title of David’s book, the screenplay is based on material from Nic Sheff’s memoir as well. Nic, like his father, is a successful writer with his focus being on addiction and recovery.

Two Memoirs On Addiction

The younger Sheff’s first book is titled Tweak. David’s memoir is essentially about where addiction took his son and the complicated nature of trying to help someone who isn’t ready to help themselves recover. Nic’s memoir covers his experience with addiction and subsequent mission(s) to embrace recovery. Like many young men, Nic’s recovery didn’t take root on his first attempts. Simply put, relapse is a part of the younger Sheff’s journey.

Nic Sheff’s Tweak: Growing Up On Meth was followed by another memoir We All Fall Down: Living With Addiction. Anyone who read Tweak may have sensed that its ending had a “to be continued feeling.” In Nic Sheff’s second read, he discusses treatment, relapse, and what it’s like to be a young man in recovery.

Hollywood doesn’t always get drug and alcohol use and addiction right. One could argue that it takes someone with a history of mental illness to portray such conditions accurately. That’s not to say that screenwriters and directors are never up to the task, just that a lot can go wrong when capturing the harrowing nature of addiction. In a recent interview with Sam Lansky for TIME Steve Carrell shares being reticent even to discuss the movie; he fears that the story is not his to relay. In the interview, both Chalamet and Carrell seem to grasp the importance to get right on screen something that is misunderstood by millions of Americans.

Talking about the movie is almost as daunting as doing the movie,” Carell says. “You don’t want to speak as if you’re an authority.”

Writers In Recovery

Beautiful Boy will likely be affecting for some people to watch, especially those in early recovery. From the reviews published already, one can expect some disturbing scenes. However, it is worth mentioning that while the subject matter in the film will be painful to watch at times, at this point, Nic is leading a life in recovery and has had success writing for and producing television—the Netflix series 13 Reasons Why.

The author of the interview discussed above, Sam Lansky, is in recovery. He understands that when it comes to talking about the disease in book, film, or otherwise it is hard to make sense of everything. Lansky could relate to what it must have been like for his father who, like David Sheff, had to get Sam into treatment on numerous occasions. Lanksy had to wrestle with the emotions that many in recovery who read David’s Beautiful Boy experience, a first-hand account of what one’s addiction does to the loved ones who are trying to help. Lansky says that when he finished the interview with Carrell and Chalamet, he called his father on the way home.

So of course it’s hard to talk about: because when you talk about addiction, there are, maddeningly, no satisfying answers. And even I, after many years clean and sober, never know exactly what to say about it. Which is both the challenge and the triumph of the film: it’s not a movie that claims, Hollywood ending and all, that the love of a parent is enough to save a sick kid. But it’s a powerful reminder that it’s worth trying.”

Addiction Recovery

PACE Recovery Center is here to help men in the grips of addiction and co-occurring mental illness find recovery. Our gender-specific, extended care treatment center assists men in getting to the underlying issues that led to substance use and self-defeating behaviors, and learn tools and skills for leading a life in recovery. Please contact our team to learn more.

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 Summit Involves Google and Facebook

opioid

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is hosting an Opioid Summit today, June 27, 2018, in Washington D.C. Government entities, academic researchers, and advocacy groups are attending the event, as you’d probably expect. Unexpectedly, internet stakeholders, as well as senior executives from major search engines like Google and social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram are also participating. Why would the FDA, led by Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, M.D., invite the movers and shakers of Silicon Valley to such an event? The answer, to combat illicit opioid sales over the internet.

Most people have heard or know a little bit about the “dark web;” home to multiple online marketplaces that allow people to exchange illicit goods. Users can peddle and procure just about anything in the far corners of the world wide web; and, those engaging in such activities are, theoretically, protected by proxy servers and virtual private networks (VPNs). Disguising one’s internet protocol (IP) address allows people to buy and sell things like heroin and counterfeit passports, evading the watchful eye of authorities, most of the time. You have probably heard about the dark web marketplace known as The Silk Road; if so, you know that the FBI shut it down and arrested its founder Ross Ulbricht in 2013. Ulbricht is now serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole, which you’d be right to think should deter others from having similar aspirations. It didn’t!

Today, the internet is home to even more black marketplaces than before. The number of sales and profit generated on the most popular sites people now rely on for illicit goods dwarfs that of the preceding Silk Road, according to findings by RAND Europe and researchers at Carnegie Mellon University.

Hiding In Plain Sight

Not everyone looking to sell opioids online has the know-how to set up shop on the darknet. An even more significant number of people on the hunt for prescription painkillers or heroin do not understand how or have the tools to access dark marketplaces. Many people take a more cavalier approach to purvey and procure opioids over the internet; advertisements for online pharmacies abound on the plain old internet on search engines and social media sites. While some good many websites are scams to harvest private information from the naive, plenty of these sites make good on their promise.

Earlier this month, the FDA reached out to some 53 online pharmacies instructing them to cease and desist, or face severe legal consequences, Wired reports. A study conducted by Carnegie Mellon University shows that online illicit drug sale revenue increased from between $15 and $17 million in 2012 to between $150 and $180 million in 2015. Whether more people are acquiring their drugs from internet pharmacy sites or on the dark web is somewhat irrelevant, what is salient is how to stop the practice.

Addressing the problem of drug dealing on the web is more urgent than ever considering the rise of synthetic opioids like fentanyl, carfentanil, and U-47700 or Pinky. Dealers disguise the substances mentioned above as more popular and less dangerous opioids like OxyContin, and they carry an enormous risk of fatal overdose. On average, 115 Americans succumb to opioid misuse every day in the U.S.

Opioid Summit May Devolve Into A Blame Game

At this point, it is hard to tell what, if anything, will come out of the meeting in Washington today. Reports show that in the days leading up to the summit, tech representatives and lobbyist began tossing blame around. The Center for Safe Internet Prescribing (CSIP) released a report showing that majority of drug sales happen on the dark web, and that open web offers for opioids were more likely to be scams. Libby Baney, an advisor to the Alliance for Safe Online Pharmacies, argues otherwise to Wired:

If all drug sales happening on the internet were on the dark web, I'd throw a party. Then the vast majority of Americans would be safe."

Tim Mackey, an associate adjunct professor at the University of California, San Diego, and fellow researchers found that online links on Twitter and Facebook offering up for sale illegal items originate on the darknet. Professor Mackey, who will speak at the summit, says:

What’s happening on the dark web is a lot of business-to-business sales. The digital drug dealers are sourcing from the dark web and using social media to sell directly to consumers.”

It’s worth noting that Facebook will direct users attempting to purchase opioids to addiction treatment resources, instead. Google played a significant role in the most recent National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day. And, according to CSIP—which is backed by tech giants—117 million ads attempting to sell illicit goods were blocked last year.

Proactive Approaches to Opioid Use Disorder

Dark web, open web, prescribed by doctors or not; lives hang in the balance if significant corporations in the tech sector cannot work together with government agencies to stem the tide of opioid addiction in America. There is an opportunity here to put a stop to illicit online opioid sales. The problem is here, and we cannot afford to ignore it, the United States Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations released a report presenting incontrovertible evidence that average Americans can purchase illicit opioids online. Another report from the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy shows that when searching online for prescription opioids, nearly 91 percent of the first search results led users to an illegal online drug seller offering prescription opioids—regardless of the search engine.

Social media companies, search engines, and domain registrars are in a unique position to nip, at least some of these kinds of practices, in the bud; not only redirecting people to addiction treatment services but having a hand in saving countless lives.

Opioid Use Disorder Treatment

If you or a loved is struggling with opioid use disorder, please contact PACE Recovery Center. We offer clients gender-specific, extended care treatment for males in the grips of progressive mental health disorders.

If you have suicidal ideations, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255

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.

Preventing New Opioid Use Disorders

opioids

As National Recovery Month quickly comes to a close it is important to talk, once again, about opioid use disorders. The use of which has resulted in the most serious addiction epidemic to ever bear down on the United States. Naturally, being in the field of addiction medicine, we’ve covered this topic at great length. From causation to consequence. While we can talk about such things ad nauseam, it is far more important to discuss some ways out this “perfect storm.”

In the immortal words of Robert Frost, “the best way out is always through.” So, and with that logic in mind — headfirst into the storm, we go. As has been pointed out, time and time again, the root of the epidemic rests with opioid prescribing practice standards. Which, up into recently, there were relatively few. But, even with greater utilization of prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMPs) opioids are still prescribed in great numbers. In fact, in many California counties, there more prescription opioids than people, according to the California Department of Public Health.

Case in Point: 2016 Trinity County population — 13,628 people. However, there were 18,439 prescriptions filled in the same year. The highest per capita rate of opioid prescriptions in California, in the fourth smallest county in the state.

The case of Trinity County is not unique to rural California, any more than it is to rural America. Prescription opioids may be a little harder to get or prescribed in large numbers. But, it has had very little effect overall. After all, more people died of overdoses in 2016 than 2015. The only real and notable difference is what people are overdosing on, and why.

Preventing New Opioid Use Disorders

Fewer people are dying from prescription opioids than just a few years, ago. Which is great. However, more people are dying from heroin and fentanyl, an even deadlier opioid analgesic. A New York Times analysis found that 15,400 overdose deaths could be attributed to heroin, 20,100 to fentanyl. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicates that 64,000 Americans died of drug overdoses during last year. Which means that more people are dying from illicit opioids than prescriptions.

Such numbers should not be read to mean that the focus of addiction prevention should pivot to illicit opioids. Especially when you consider that most people report starting down the path to opioid use disorder with prescription painkillers. The heroin and fentanyl problem in America has its origins in prescription opioids. And opioid use initiation most commonly begins with a prescription, still. The Trinity statistics are a clear indication that the business of prescribing is, good.

There is no question, making headway requires a multifaceted approach. Calling upon both lawmakers to enact common sense legislation and health leaders to push for more informed doctors. The better doctors understand addiction, the fewer patients who will be prescribed opioids. In turn, reducing the number of future opioid use disorders. What’s more, encouraging doctors to only rely on a prescription opioid when it’s absolutely necessary.

In the United States we’ve become so reliant on opioids, we ignore the alternatives. Non-opioid methods of managing pain, that in many cases can be more effective, and certainly less dangerous.

Opioid Addiction Can Be Avoided

Every time opioids are prescribed, there is potential for future opioid use disorders. You may be surprised to learn that with some forms of pain, opioids can exacerbate one’s symptoms. If “addictive” and “prolonging pain” is a possibility, it dictates that doctors should look elsewhere in many cases. You’d even think that doctors would welcome opioid alternatives, and in many cases, they do. But, there are still others who rely heavily on prescription opioids for all things pain. Despite the risk of opioid use disorders. The reason for this is often because of financial incentives to prescribe certain drugs by the pharmaceutical and insurance industry.

opioid use disorder

Apropos to this, attorneys general (AG) from 35 states sent a message to insurers encouraging painkiller alternatives, The Los Angeles Times reports. Addressed to the trade group America's Health Insurance Plans, the letter called for insurers to prioritize coverage of non-opioid treatments. As wells as, pain management techniques that include physical therapy and massage.

If we can get the best practices changed with insurance companies and the payment incentives are just a bit different than what they are today, I think that's going to continue to see the number of pills prescribed and dispensed drop dramatically," said West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey. "This is an important new front to open up."

Reducing prescriptions is just one step in reducing the prevalence of opioid use disorders, but it’s perhaps the most salient. With more than 2 million with opioid use disorders and rising, action is required now. Both the pharmaceutical and insurance industry can have a major role in ending an epidemic they helped create.

Opioid Use Disorder Treatment

Efforts to change prescribing practices are vital, but they don’t mean much to those already in the grips of addiction. Equally important to reducing our reliance on opioids, is increasing our reliance on addiction treatment. Tempering the storm of opioid addiction is best achieved through opioid use disorder treatment. Recovery is possible, and if you have been touched by the disease, please do not hesitate to reach out for assistance. At PACE Recovery Center, we are fully equipped to assist young men who are ready to break the insidious cycle of addiction. Please contact us today, and make this Recovery Month the beginning of your own recovery.

Addiction Treatment: The Endless Possibilities of Recovery

addiction

Few other places in the country have been as ravaged by the opioid addiction epidemic as West Virginia. Prescription opioids and heroin have stolen the lives of young and old alike. Lawmakers and health experts continue to develop methods for turning the tide. While addiction treatment centers work tirelessly to spread the message of recovery to as many afflicted as possible. Addiction recovery being the most effective means of saving people from the insidious grip of opioid dependence.

America has been trying to get a wrap on the epidemic for nearly two decades. As as result, many are doubtful that it is even possible. Opioids are so addictive and incredibly deadly, yet the drugs are prescribed at alarming rates, still. Those who lose access to prescription opioids regularly turn to heroin. Thus, putting themselves at risk of fentanyl exposure, a synthetic opioid commonly mixed with heroin to boost potency. Fentanyl can be up to a hundred times stronger than morphine.

Without access to addiction treatment, those addicted to opioids are at incredible risk of experiencing an overdose. And a potentially fatal overdose, at that. Those who seek help often relapse shortly thereafter, testament to just how addictive this family of drugs is. A relapse after a short stent of abstinence increases the chances of an overdose exponentially. Because one’s tolerance has diminished. This is why it so important that people who seek help do so by way of long-term residential treatment. Therefore, further mitigating the risk of relapse and subsequent overdose. The longer an addict or alcoholic stays in treatment, the greater the chance for long-term recovery.

There are around 142 fatal overdoses every day in the U.S. Given the high morbidity rate, some might think that recovery impossible. But, it is, just ask Sturgill.

INTERVENTION℠ Endless Possibilities, Continued

So, who is Sturgill? A&E INTERVENTION℠, interventionist Sylvia Parsons and PACE Recovery Center gave a young West Virginian a life-saving opportunity. Sturgill (then 23) was in the grips of addiction, a problem that began the same way as so many Americans. With an injury that called for prescription opioids. A broken arm sent Sturgill into an addictive death spiral, involving the abuse of alcohol, benzodiazepines, methadone, and heroin. A potentially deadly admixture, to be sure.

Sturgill was a promising young golden gloves boxer and wrestler who dreamed of the Olympics. He was also an academically gifted pre-med student. But a broken arm and multiple surgeries led to a pain pill addiction, which soon turned to heroin.” —reads the A&E INTERVENTION℠ website

With the help of Parsons, Sturgill’s family implored him to choose life and take the opportunity to get treatment. He accepted the gift of recovery and last year came to PACE Recovery Center. While there are never guarantees in recovery, Sturgill's story went from one of despair to the light of the spirit. During the season premiere of A&E INTERVENTION℠ (Season 17) an update on our former client was provided to viewers. Now, with over a year clean and sober, Sturgill remains plugged into the local recovery community. His future plans include getting certified to be an alcohol and drug counselor (CADC).

The update shows that, in fact, with recovery there can be endless possibilities if one is willing to do the work. Please take a moment to watch the short clip below:

If you are having trouble watching, please click here.

Addiction Treatment Is The Answer

I can't put it into words how blessed I am… I do something for recovery every day." —Sturgill

Not too long ago, Sturgill was in the same frightful position as millions of other Americans. Today, with the help of his family and his family in recovery he is living a life in recovery. It all started with a willingness to surrender and make the courageous decision to go to treatment. It is often the hardest decision that one will make in a lifetime. The grip of one’s disease is extremely powerful. It will do whatever it can to keep you from saving your own life. But, it is possible to break the cycle and lead a fulfilling life in recovery.

If your story is similar to Sturgill’s, PACE Recovery Center can help you find the miracles of addiction recovery—too. Please contact us today to begin the lifesaving journey.

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.

This is Your Brain On Drugs – 20 Years Later

This is Your Brain On Drugs

Some of you are likely to remember a series of public service announcements (PSA) made by the Partnership for a Drug-Free America ® for a nationwide anti-drug campaign called This is Your Brain On Drugs. The large-scale campaign was launched in 1987, in a different era, at least with respect to how the nation viewed drug addiction and what to do about what we now know to be a form of mental health disorder. The first PSA titled “Frying Pan,” has actor John Roselius frying ups some eggs in order to show viewers what drugs do to your brain.

The second iteration of the campaign was released in 1997 and was titled again, "Frying Pan." The PSA starred actress Rachael Leigh Cook essentially using a frying pan and an egg to demonstrate to viewers the inherent dangers that accompany using heroin, and presumably other drugs as well, but heroin was singled out. The 30 second clip highlighted the fact that one’s drug use didn’t only affect the individual, but rather one’s family and one could even argue society.

If you were not born yet, too young to remember or would like to refresh your memory, please take a moment to watch the short PSA:

If you are having trouble viewing the clip, please click here.

You can probably gather that the PSA’s toed the line of the American “war on drugs.” While the PSA’s attempted to scare people away from drugs, pointing out that they would take everything from you, even your life; the makers of the ads seemed to forget to mention that before drugs took your life, they could be a cause for losing your freedom. Both the aforementioned PSAs ending with the rhetorical statement, “Any Questions?” As if frying an egg or smashing up an apartment would say everything that needed to be said about the reasons for abstaining from drugs.

Any Questions About Addiction

While Entertainment Weekly named “Frying Pan” 8th best commercial of all time, the American Egg Board, naturally, had some concerns about eggs getting an unfair reputation. At the end of the day; however, This is Your Brain On Drugs was a scare tactic, as were all public service announcements about drug use going back to Reefer Madness. They were all created under the premise that drug use was a choice; you could choose to, or not, but the power was in your hands. If you chose wrongly, you risked everything.

Even though addiction is a disease, a symptom of which include the use of drugs, drugs are still for the most part illegal under both state and Federal law. For decades, as we have written about in the past, the 40+ year war on drugs has done little to prevent and treat substance abuse. What it has done is disenfranchise millions of Americans, mostly people who were low on the socio-economic spectrum and minorities. Getting caught up in the legal system for the crime of addiction has proven to be relatively easy, getting out of it has proven to be much more difficult.

Today, in the 21st Century and still in the grips of an opioid addiction epidemic, many people's views about the war on drugs have changed. Thanks both to science and the fact that the epidemic has predominantly affected white America (both rich and poor), our society has been rethinking the true cost of the war on drugs. And, as a result, more Americans than ever are advocating for addiction treatment over prison for those caught possessing illegal drugs.

We are not out of the woods yet. There are still swaths of lawmakers who cling to draconian drug policies as the solution to addiction. Which is why the fight to end the stigma of this most serious mental illness must continue. Which has not been lost on the Drug Policy Alliance, the nation's leading organization promoting drug policies that are grounded in science, compassion, health and human rights. The organization, with the help of a 20-years older Rachael Leigh Cook, decided to make a postscript to the 1997 PSA. In the new version of the “Frying Pan,” Cook says:

The war on drugs is ruining peoples' lives. It fuels mass incarceration, it targets people of color in greater numbers than their white counter parts. It cripples communities, it costs billions, and it doesn't work. Any questions?

Please take a moment to watch:

If you are having trouble watching, please click here.

Addiction Treatment Is The Answer

Effective measures of treating addiction were helping a significant number of Americans in 1987 at the start of This is Your Brain On Drugs. It wasn’t talked about, because it did not line up with the stigma-driven narrative of addiction employed at the time. It was being treated and people were living lives in recovery, just as they are today. Fortunately, people touched by the disease today have more of an ability to seek help, without fear of prosecution.

Now the science behind addiction, and other forms of mental illness is far better understood. With each year that passes, the stigma of addiction seems to soften. Slowly, but surely, more Americans see the value of ending the war on drugs and advocating for treatment. If you or a loved one has been touched by the deadly disease of addiction, please contact PACE Recovery Center.

Heroin Overdoses Among Young Adults

heroin

Researchers from the University of Michigan conduct the Monitoring the Future (MTF) survey every year. The answers that high school students give, provide experts a window into the severity of teen substance use and abuse. The findings can help direct preventive measures in the coming years. The 2016 MTF presented some promising findings, especially regarding prescription opioid use among young people. In fact, past year prescription opioid use among 12th graders dropped 45 percent, compared to five years ago.

The findings are a good sign that we may see reductions in opioid use among 20 something-year-olds in the coming years, an age group that as of late has been using both heroin prescription opioids at alarming rates. The dangers of using opioids of any kind need to be reinforced in young people early on and repeatedly. If preventative measures fall short, more and more young people will succumb to hooks and snares of opioid narcotics. Unfortunately, identifying the groups of people at greatest risk of opioid use initiation isn’t an easy task, partly due to stereotyping.

Heroin Outside City Limits

Heroin, like “crack cocaine,” is often considered to be a drug that primarily wreaks havoc in the inner city. A drug that is used by downtrodden and impoverished Americans. While there is a lot opioid abuse in urban areas, the situation has changed. In recent years, the opioid addiction epidemic has predominantly affected suburban and rural parts of the country. Additionally, many of the young people abusing heroin today, come from white middle class or affluent families. These are young people who have access to financial resources that make it easier to maintain an addiction.

But, even with more resources than the average person of the same age, what often starts as a prescription opioid problem can quickly morph into a heroin problem. The reasons are simple. The price of drugs like OxyContin has only gone in one direction—up! Heroin on the other hand is cheaper, and in many cases, stronger than prescription opioids. Easier to acquire, as well.

One of the unintended consequences of this prescription opioid epidemic has been the increase in heroin addiction and overdoses, in part due to the transition from prescription opioids to less expensive heroin street drugs,” California state health officials report. “Heroin deaths have continued to increase steadily by 67 percent since 2006 and account for a growing share of the total opioid-related deaths.”

In the first quarter of 2016, 412 adults age 20 to 29 went to emergency departments in California due to heroin, according to Los Angeles Daily News. Los Angeles and Orange counties have seen a continued increase in ER cases involving heroin among people in their twenties.

Spotting the Signs

If you have a child in their twenties, frequently they are still living at home, as many Millennials do. But if you have never used an opioid, there is a good chance you would not be able to spot the signs of use. And it isn’t like your child is just going to use right in front of you. So how can you identify signs of a problem? In some cases, you may see track marks from IV heroin use. However, many young heroin addicts do not use needles, opting to smoke or snort the drug. In which case, track marks will not be a signpost you can rely on.

Common signs of opioid use, include:

  • Tiny Pupils
  • Nodding Off
  • Slurred Speech
  • Incessant Itching
  • Complaints of Constipation
  • Diminished Appetite

There are other signs, but those listed are synonymous with opioid use. If you see any of those appearances or behaviors, there is a good chance there is a problem. Such discoveries should prompt further investigation. You can always confront your child about the signs you are seeing, but getting an honest answer is easier said than done. Addiction will lead people to do or say just about anything to continue fueling the fire.

You can also ask if they would be willing to take a drug test. If they refuse, that’s a pretty good sign that you are on the right track. The best results for getting your child into treatment often come by way of interventionists. They are skilled professionals who can help walk you through the process of saving your child’s life.

PACE Recovery Center Can Help

If you know, or suspect that your young adult son is using heroin or prescription opioids, please contact us as soon as possible. With so many young people succumbing to heroin addiction, time is of the essence.