Tag Archives: heroin

Opioid Addiction Epidemic in America

opioid addiction

The American opioid addiction epidemic has been relegated to the back burner of late because of the COVID-19 pandemic. That’s not to say opioid addiction and overdose are no longer on the radar; it’s that we’ve been caught up in COVID-19 statistics and our government’s plan to address the situation.

As far as public health crises are concerned, it makes sense that our focus has shifted to the coronavirus—it has stolen more than 220,000 lives in 2020 thus far. Still, the opioid use disorder epidemic should not be forgotten about, even if it’s challenging to focus on more than one public health crisis at a time.

For years, it seemed like opioid addiction and overdoses dominated the headlines; that nearly 100,000 Americans die of an overdose each year seemed like a primary topic of discussion. With each passing week, a new headline involving opioids would be seen having to do with misuse or a new lawsuit against those who profited from overprescribing. However, public attention has pivoted to COVID-19, which has led to more than one million deaths worldwide.

With the nation’s attention on coronavirus, many important stories are being overlooked. You may have missed specific headlines, like the one involving Purdue Pharma and the Sackler family.

The Sackler family, which owns Purdue Pharma, has been in the limelight in recent years. The primary shareholders of the makers of OxyContin are infamous in America. You may be aware that Purdue touted OxyContin as not carrying a significant risk for addiction. The drug was promoted to prescribers as being safe, despite the steady rise in overdoses since the release of the drug in the mid-’90s.

Purdue’s Role in the Nation’s Opioid Crisis

Last week, Purdue Pharma agreed to plead guilty to criminal charges related to its marketing practices, The New York Times reports. The company is looking at $8.3 billion in penalties, and the Sacklers have agreed to pay $225 million in civil penalties.

In recent years, thousands of thousands of lawsuits have been brought against Purdue Pharma. States, cities, counties, and tribes are all trying to hold the company and the Sackler family responsible for their role in the nation’s opioid addiction epidemic. The vast majority of people using heroin today used prescription opioids like OxyContin first.

Research shows that 21% of high school seniors who misused prescription opioids and later received an opioid prescription, used heroin by age 35.

While this update is promising news, it’s unlikely that Purdue will pay anything close to the $8 billion; the company has already sought bankruptcy court protection, according to the article. However, the settlement could lead to the resolution of many of the thousands of pending lawsuits. The agreement did not end all the litigation against Purdue, nor does it preclude the filing of criminal charges against Purdue Pharma executives or individual Sacklers.

In a letter to the Department of Justice, relatives of opioid use disorder victims said the agreement falls short. What’s more, Massachusetts has scheduled depositions against some Sacklers for next month.

The D.O.J. failed,” said Maura Healey, the Massachusetts attorney general. “Justice in this case requires exposing the truth and holding the perpetrators accountable, not rushing a settlement to beat an election. I am not done with Purdue and the Sacklers, and I will never sell out the families who have been calling for justice for so long.”

Opioid Addiction During the Pandemic

Purdue Pharma and the Sacklers are the tip of the iceberg. Lawsuits have been filed against other drug companies, including prescription drug distributors that filled pharmacy orders despite evidence of impropriety. The opioid addiction epidemic is nuanced; many players were involved in the problem becoming this bad.

The pandemic has made matters worse, according to a new Quest Diagnostics Health Trends study. The research shows that misuse of fentanyl, heroin, and non-prescribed opioids are on the rise.

The findings indicate that the drug positivity rate increased 35% for non-prescribed fentanyl and 44% for heroin during the pandemic compared to the period before the pandemic (January 1, 2019-March 14, 2020 and March 15-May 16, 2020).

The COVID-19 pandemic has created the perfect storm for a rise in substance use disorders and other forms of prescription and illicit drug misuse. Stress, job losses and depression compounded with isolation and a lack of access to health services can trigger prescription medication overuse, illicit drug use, or relapses,” said co-author Harvey W. Kaufman, M.D., Senior Medical Director, Head of Health Trends Research Program, Quest Diagnostics.

It was concerning to learn that the positivity for a combination of drugs was especially pronounced. Positivity for non-prescribed fentanyl and amphetamines increased by 89%, benzodiazepines (48%), cocaine (34%), and opiates (39%). The researchers point out that most overdoses involve concurrent use of benzodiazepines, cocaine, or methamphetamine.

Our Health Trends data demonstrate the consequences of the pandemic, with dramatic increases of misuse of non-prescribed drugs at a time when fentanyl is also on the rise. Our nation is grappling with a drug epidemic inside a pandemic. Patients and providers need increased access to support services, clinical care and drug testing to stop drug misuse from claiming more lives,” Dr. Kaufman said.

Opioid Use Disorder Treatment for Men

Please contact PACE Recovery Center if you or a loved one is struggling with an opioid use disorder. Our team utilizes evidence-based therapies to help our clients break the cycle of addiction and learn how to lead a positive life in recovery. We are standing by at 800-526-1851 to answer any questions you have about our gender-specific treatment for men.

Addiction Relapse and Risk of Overdose After Reopening

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The COVID-19 pandemic continues, but many states are taking steps to reopen businesses and loosen restrictions. It is still unclear what impact the changes will have on the addiction recovery community. Naturally, going back to in-person meetings in the near future is welcome; however, we should be concerned about heightened relapse and overdose rates among people in early recovery.

We must be clear; the pandemic is not over. Some 1,570,154 Americans have tested positive, and 93,436 have died from complications related to the coronavirus, a 9 percent increase since May 15th. Each of us must continue practicing social distancing, and the wearing of face masks in public is still strongly advised.

It is still unclear how much longer millions of Americans will have to live in relative isolation, which we pointed out before is not healthy for men and women in recovery. At PACE Recovery Center, we are hopeful that you continue to take precautions to protect your physical and mental health.

As an aside, one of the unforeseen byproducts of the COVID-19 crisis was the effect it would have on the international drug trade, drug sales, overdoses, and the addiction treatment industry. Many of you are probably aware that drug trafficking into the country is much more challenging than it was just a few months ago.

Naturally, stay at home orders made it harder for drug dealers to meet clients on the streets. Heroin shortages resulted in the stretching of product with deadly synthetic opioids like fentanyl, a drug that is 100 times more potent than morphine. We don’t have data yet, but it’s fair to wager there has been an uptick in overdoses in some parts of the country as a result.

Opioid Addiction During a Pandemic

Unable to access opioids from one’s usual dealer, many turned to new avenues of acquiring heroin and pills, NPR reports. Utilizing a foreign supply source may not seem like a big deal, but according to an addiction expert in Orange County, California, such changes are fraught with peril.

When they had to use another dealer, they would be getting a different strength. So they weren’t really sure of how they should measure it and how much they should use. So we started seeing a lot of overdoses and a lot of overdose deaths in the first couple of weeks of the pandemic.”

Travel restrictions at the southern border, and on flights from Asia or South America, have decreased the availability of heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamine significantly. Shortages led dealers to increase their prices exponentially, according to the article. With more than 35 million out of work and store closures preventing shoplifting, many addicts could no longer afford to purchase their drugs.

Many people sought addiction treatment services as one might expect, rather than face painful opioid withdrawal symptoms. Jack MacEachern, who runs a Salvation Army residential drug recovery program in Cambridge, Massachusetts, says the pandemic has led to a decrease in relapse and overdose rates.

Reopening Could Lead to Relapse and Overdose

When a person detoxes and begins a program of recovery, their tolerance to opioids changes. When life returns to normal, and drug supply routes open back up, a number of those who got clean during the lockdown may decide to start using again. Such individuals may not understand that their tolerance is not the same, which could result in a spike of fatal overdoses.

The above concern has resulted in discussions about ramping up access to the overdose reversal drug naloxone, a tactic that the head of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), Elinore McCance-Katz, supports, the article reports. However, she says that such measures are complicated.

In some areas, first responders such as law enforcement do not want to administer naloxone because they’re afraid of being exposed to the coronavirus,” said McCance-Katz. “I found that very concerning because the option is that the person dies.”

Opioid Addiction Treatment for Men

Please reach out to PACE Recovery Center if you are an adult male struggling with opioid use disorder. Opioid addiction is a treatable condition, and long-term recovery is possible with the guidance of professionals. Our gender-specific treatment center for men can give you the tools to break the cycle of self-destructive and self-defeating behavior and help you begin a new life.

Addiction Affects the Entire Family

Across the country, thousands of families have had to watch as an addiction epidemic stole their loved ones. Each time a young person falls victim to an overdose, it’s worth remembering that he or she is someone’s child. For every tragic story we hear about in the news, there are countless mothers and fathers nobody has heard of who are desperate to see their child find recovery.

When a teenager or young adult is in the throes of addiction, parents will go to extraordinary lengths to intervene. It is never easy; accepting assistance for addiction is something that many young addicts and alcoholics will resist initially. Mothers and fathers will try any number of actions to persuade their children to seek help. However, if a person is not ready to break the cycle of self-defeating and self-destructive behavior, then there is little anyone can do to affect change.

When a son or daughter refuses to seek treatment for an alcohol or substance use disorder, it is heartbreaking. Parents must stand back and wait until their child has finally had enough, or hit rock bottom, so to speak. Some will try tough love in the hope that if they no longer provide financial support, he or she will come to their senses about recovery sooner. However, sooner is a nebulous word; years of estrangement can pass before a person is ready to surrender.

In the interim of active addiction and recovery, some parents will look for support and guidance on the internet. Social media provides an outlet for sharing about the struggles that accompany loving an addict or alcoholic. Mothers and fathers share tips and guide one another on ways to help facilitate getting a loved one into recovery.

Mother Raises Awareness About Son’s Addiction

When a mother sent out a plea for help on Facebook, she had no way of knowing the response of support she would receive. Jennifer Salfen-Tracy of St. Charles County, Missouri, is the mother of an addict. Her son Cody had been struggling with heroin and methamphetamine at the time of her candid post, according to 5 On Your Side. Jennifer Salfen-Tracy posted:

The face of heroin and meth…… is reality for so many people and families in this world today. This may be long so i apologize. For my family and friends who know me know that my oldest son Cody Bishop is suffering from his addiction. I am hesitant on sharing but many people ask how things are going so I feel I should share. I have learned along this path that so many people and families deal with the same heartache but just do not talk about it…”

Cody was homeless at the time of his mother’s post; she did not know where he was and had not heard from him in a while. The post has more than 60,000 shares and 30,000 comments. She updated the post and added before and after pictures of her son; the images capture the toll that drugs take on the human body. In the update she wrote:

This is not just A problem that my family faces but almost everyone knows someone who has A drug/ heroin addiction. I pray for strength for those suffering and healing for their families and friends. FYI…. these pictures were taken 7 months apart. That is how fast someone is effected…. let’s get ahold of this issue America and help eachother. Thanks again for everyone’s love and support.”

The viral post, while shocking to see and challenging to read, has a silver lining to it. Salfen-Tracy announced in an update that “Cody Bishop has been found and [is] currently in a rehab facility where he is starting his road to recovery.” She also created a Facebook page so that anyone interested can chart his progress in recovery: Cody Bishop’s Road to Recovery.

Salfen-Tracy’s decision to reveal her family’s struggle with addiction was a brave act. It is helpful in multiple ways. The more we discuss the realities of addiction as a society, the better able we are to show compassion and encourage other young men like Cody to seek assistance.

Gender-Specific Addiction Treatment for Adult Men

Deciding to reach out for support is not simple, and it takes an enormous amount of courage. Those who do decide to make drastic changes and break the cycle of addiction can go on to lead fulfilling and productive lives. If you or an adult male loved one is struggling with addiction, then please contact PACE Recovery Center.

We offer several innovative, evidence-based programs that help clients get on the path to long-term recovery. We are available 24-hours a day to answer your questions and to help begin the treatment process.

Addiction and Recovery is the Focus of ‘Beautiful Boy’

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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

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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

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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.

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