Tag Archives: opioid overdose

Addiction Took Matthew Brewer’s Legs, Not His Life

addiction

Opioid addiction is a public health crisis in the United States. Prescription painkillers, heroin, and synthetic opioids continue to cut people’s lives short at a startling rate. While progress has been made, we still have a long way to go in providing men and women the help they need.

Substance use disorders of any type put the lives of individuals in jeopardy. However, the effect that opioids have on vital systems of the human body makes this family of drugs particularly dangerous. Opioid narcotics have an impact on breathing, restricting a person’s ability to supply oxygen to the bloodstream.

Opioids kill people by slowing the rate of breathing and the depth of breathing,” said medical toxicologist and emergency physician Andrew Stolbach of Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

If an overdose is treated with naloxone promptly, then a fatal outcome can be prevented. Initiatives to arm drug users, family members, and first-responders with naloxone have led to thousands of overdose reversals. A user-friendly version of the drug, Narcan, allows medical laypeople to provide life-saving assistance to victims.

The outcomes of an opioid overdose are not always black and white. A reversal can mean a continuation of life, but severe complications can occur. Scientists are still researching the long-term effects of this type of near-death experience. Moreover, there are instances when doctors have to take drastic measures to save a life; such was the case of Matthew Brewer, 44, of Huntington Beach.

Learning to Walk Again, Following an Opioid Overdose

On September 25th, 2014, a few months after leaving treatment, Matthew Brewer relapsed and overdosed on heroin. Alone at the time, Brewer was fixed in a position that cut off blood flow to his legs for 10-12 hours (tissue begins to die after 4-6 hours).

Matthew’s roommate found him, and he was rushed to a hospital. He was then transferred to the University of California, Irvine, where doctors decided that a bilateral amputation of his legs was the only way to save his life. Fortunately, Brewer did not have brain damage from the overdose, but life would be an uphill battle moving forward.

Following the amputation, doctors resorted to prescription opioids: the powerful narcotics that led to addiction in the first place, The Orange County Register reports. Some years earlier, in 2008, Brewer was diagnosed with testicular cancer; he was prescribed opioids and addiction developed. For two-and-a-half years post-amputation, the young man a former competitive athlete suffered.

Matthew’s sister, Tera, owns a hair salon in Newport Beach; she had a client who was a producer on the medical show, “The Doctors,” according to the article. The show’s experts offered to take Brewer’s case, and he appeared on the television show in 2016 for the first time.

“The Doctors” helped Matthew detox from opioids and begin the healing process. In 2017, he attended a bilateral above-knee boot camp hosted by the Hanger Clinic. He learned how to walk with prosthetics, and so much more.

A New Lease on Life

Last month, Matthew Brewer competed in the Angel City Games, a four-day adaptive sports festival. At the event, he took part in a swimming race and the 200-meter sprint, the article reports. Despite his prosthetics, his athleticism goes beyond swimming and running; today, he enjoys surfing and snowboarding as well.

Matthew has a new lease on life; he travels around the country, speaking in front of audiences and visiting hospitals. The Huntington Beach man’s experience is an inspiration to so many people who have had their lives upended by opioid use disorder and overdose. Matthew is proof that there is hope after tragedy.

It’s given him a purpose,” said his mother, Cathy. “We’ve always been proud of him, but seeing the pride he has in himself has been the frosting on the cake. He just looks forward to the next event and the next event.”

Opioid Addiction Treatment for Men

PACE Recovery Center can help you or an adult male loved one recover from an opioid use disorder. Utilizing evidence-based treatments and a multidimensional approach, we show clients how to achieve their goals in recovery. Please contact us today to learn more about the programs we offer and the benefits of gender-specific addiction treatment.

Naloxone: The Price of Life

naloxoneIt’s likely that you may remember Martin Shkreli, the CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals, who caught the public’s attention and widespread criticism when he unabashedly raised the price of Daraprim by 5000 percent. The drug is used for treating the deadly AIDS virus. The average cost of treatment rose from around $1,130 to over $63,000, with each tablet costing $750.

While it may seem unconscionable to most that a company could unethically put people’s lives at risk by hiking the price of a potentially lifesaving drug to the point of unaffordability, sadly Mr. Shkreli decision to raise the price of Daraprim is not unique when it comes to pharmaceutical companies and lifesaving treatments. Which brings us to the main focus of today’s post—the opioid overdose reversal drug naloxone.

Stemming the Tide

If you have been following the ongoing story of the United States government’s policy changes for addressing the deadly opioid epidemic, then you have probably heard the calls from lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to get a handle on the situation—a scourge stealing the lives of over 70 Americans every day.

Multiple government agencies, including the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) for instance, at the behest of Senators, Congressman and the White House—are working to make it more difficult to abuse prescription drugs and develop the most effective treatments for treating substance use disorders. The agencies are imploring doctors to write prescriptions with discretion, only relying on drugs like oxycodone when it’s absolutely necessary.

Recently, a bill was put forward in the Senate that would impose a 1 cent tax on every milligram of active opioid ingredient in a prescription painkiller; the money generated from the tax would be used for expanding access to substance use disorder treatment. What’s more, the U.S. Senate overwhelmingly voted in favor (94-1) of the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) in March of 2016. The legislation is meant to cover a number of different facets relative to the opioid epidemic, which include:

    • Expanding Prevention and Educational Efforts
    • Expanding Access to Unwanted Prescription Drug Disposal Sites
    • Strengthening Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs
    • Expanding Access to Naloxone

The Price of Life

It is a sad truth that a number of people will die from an opioid overdose every day; however, there are many who will also be saved by naloxone, otherwise known as Narcan. If administered in a timely manner, the drug can reverse the potentially fatal depression of the central nervous system and respiratory system caused by an opioid overdose. In recent years, and with each month that passes, more law enforcement officials and other first responders have been trained to administer the drug. States and municipalities have begun to make it easier for addicts and their loved ones to gain access to naloxone without a prescription, due to the fact that they are often present at the time of an overdose, and time is of the essence.

The drug is a necessity, and with demand comes dreams of profit. In fact, the price of certain forms of naloxone has increased exponentially in the past two years, according to Politico. The year 2014 saw more opioid overdose deaths (28,000), more than any other year during the course of this epidemic. Truven Health Analytics reports that since that year:

      • Kaleo Pharma’s auto-inject version went from $575 to $3,750 per two-dose package.
      • Two injections of Amphastar’s naloxone doubled in price ($66) by the end of 2014.
      • Two vials of Hospira’s generic cost $1.84 in 2005, rising to $31.66 by 2014.

If the price of the drug keeps rising, it will be hard for not only patients, but first responders to afford to equip themselves with this vital medication and people who could have been saved may lose their life. Hopefully, steps will be taken to subsidize the ever growing costs of the drug.

Opiate and Heroin Rehab at PACE

Opiate and heroin addiction treatment options include psychosocial approaches, pharmacological treatment, therapeutic groups, 12-Step recovery, as well as individual and experiential therapy. Our addiction treatment staff also lead psychoeducational groups that cover the disease model of addiction, emotional management tools, relapse prevention techniques, boundaries and healthy relationships, and general life skills that help smooth the transition of clients from active addiction into life.

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