Tag Archives: opioid use disorder

Opioid Addiction in America Accountability

opioid

The effort to rein in the prescription opioid problem here in America continues even though there hasn’t been an announcement from the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) on how it plans to tackle the issue. While state and Federal lawmakers tirelessly work to bring about change and hold those responsible for their actions, the pharmaceutical industry has been less than cooperative. It probably shouldn't come as a surprise, after all the prescription painkillers are a multibillion-dollar industry in the U.S. Taking even a modicum of responsibility for misleading doctors and patients about the dangers of opioids would be to acknowledge profiting off suffering and death.

All roads lead to the pharmaceutical industry no matter from what angle you examine the American opioid addiction epidemic. There is a plethora of evidence showing the tactics of companies, like Purdue Pharma, beginning in the late 1990s. Methods including promotional videos assuring doctors that the number of patients who might develop an opioid use disorder was statistically irrelevant. Before long, and with the bonus of incentives to prescribe, primary care physicians began doling out drugs like OxyContin for all things pain.

Naturally, the opioid scourge in America wasn’t the doing of just one entity; we need to consider that there are many stops along the way from the poppy fields to the medicine cabinet. The onus of the problem affecting millions of people falls on many private companies, health organizations, and government agencies like the FDA. In fact, some of the companies which profited the most from addiction in America were pharmaceutical distributors, those in the business of getting drugs from manufacturers to the pharmacy. Even a cursory look reveals that wholesalers turned a blind eye to filling suspicious orders.

Opioid Addiction Accountability

Yesterday, the leaders of five pharmaceutical distributors sat before a House panel hearing fielding questions regarding their practices in the state of West Virginia. The population of the “Mountain State” is roughly 1.80 million, according to today’s estimates and yet, 780 million hydrocodone and oxycodone tablets went into the state between 2007 and 2012, CNN reports. The town of Kermit, WV, for instance has a total population of 400 people and yet, over the course of just two years almost 9 million painkillers were sent to one local pharmacy.

At one point during the hearing, House Energy and Commerce Oversight and Investigation Subcommittee chairman, Gregg Harper (R-MS) asked McKesson Corp., Cardinal Health, AmerisourceBergen, Miami-Luken and Smith Wholesale if their companies had a role in the opioid epidemic? All the distributor heads but Dr. Joseph Mastandrea, chairman of the board of Miami-Luken, answered Harper unequivocally, “NO!”

Despite the fact that Rep. David McKinley, (R-WV) was not a member of the subcommittee he was able to sit in and allowed to share some thoughts with the distributors, according to the article. He points to the companies' "lack of attention on your algorithm and your core operation. And deflecting responsibility, saying, 'I just had to fill the order' -- no, you had a role. You had a role." Adding, "And for several of you to say you had no role whatsoever in this I find particularly offensive."

I just want you to feel shame in your roles, respectively, in all this," said McKinley. "I am so frustrated for the people of West Virginia and this country that you all have not stepped up and took more responsibility for this.

Paying for Opioid Use Disorder Treatment

Lawmakers’ ire is fervent toward manufacturers as well, with many reasoning that since the companies had a role in creating the problem, the least they can do is help cover the cost of treatment. Currently, some 15 states have legislation in the works that would tax prescription opioids; the revenue would then fund addiction treatment services, The Chicago Tribune reports. Of course, bringing such laws to fruition is, unfortunately, a David and Goliath scenario given the powerful ‘big pharma’ lobbies. To date, only the state of New York has been able to pass an opioid tax measure.

The industry is up-to-its-eyeballs in lawsuits and protracted litigation, owing mainly to the staggering death toll in the last twenty years. The general public and lawmakers (some of whom have lost loved ones to overdose) want the industry to do what’s right, take responsibility, and be a part of the solution. Such companies can afford to help, especially when you consider the amount of money opioid developers spend in efforts to defeat common sense legislation. The big opioid producers spent $880 million on politics and lobbying from 2006 through 2015, according to AP and the Center for Public Integrity.

So, what is the manufacturers and distributors argument, you ask? The companies contend that an opioid tax is wrong and would lead to patients or taxpayers eating the cost in the long run. As you can probably imagine some lawmakers are at their wit's end with the lack of accountability, state Sen. Julie Rosen (R-MN) walked out of a meeting with big pharma reps, the article reports. She said:

They know that they're spending way too much money on defending their position instead of being part of the solution.

Opioid Use Disorder Treatment

If you are a young man struggling with opioid addiction, PACE Recovery Center can help. Our team of experts can teach you the skills and provide you the necessary tools for leading a productive life in recovery. Please contact us today to learn more about our program.

Addiction: The Unforeseen Consequences of Stigma

addiction

What we say to one another matters, perhaps more than some are willing to admit; few people can grasp this as much as the addict. It isn’t just what we say to each person that is worth discussion, how we talk about groups of people can a lasting impact and unforeseen consequences. As the U.S. nears the end of the second decade of unprecedented opioid use and overdose rates, some hard questions are worth asking. If addiction is a mental health disorder, and the NIDA considers the condition a long-term, treatable brain disease; why does much of society continue to view the illness with scorn, ridicule, and judgment?

Searching the internet reveals that treatment works and recovery is possible. If you ask your friends and family members if they know someone in recovery, they will likely say ‘yes.’ Reading books or watching television can illuminate the lives of others who have gone to battle against the seemingly indomitable foe that is an addiction. While such people do not slay the dragon, they do find a way to tame (manage) it with the help of specific programs.

If a person is sick why would anyone want to discourage them from seeking assistance? If that same person gets better, why would people still look at them differently or expect that at a certain point they will fail? It is difficult to explain why some people will always view those whose addiction is at bay through working a program different from one whose cancer is in remission thanks to chemo.

It’s unlikely the answers to most of these questions will reveal themselves by the end of this article, and that is alright. Hopefully, by making inquiries into the nature of addiction, we might encourage people to rethink their views.

Defining Addiction

Better to sleep with a sober cannibal than a drunk Christian. ―Herman Melville, Moby-Dick or, The Whale

Could a drunkard "actually" be more dangerous to the fabric of society than a person who "literally" consumes their fellow man? Of course not, but it depends on who you ask. As health experts and lawmakers continue to seek out novel ways of addressing addiction in America, the word “stigma” comes up in the discussion more often than not. If the addict were a horse, stigma is the wagon it pulls. With that in mind, it might be helpful to contemplate the origins of the words inextricably bound to mental illness.

The word ‘addiction’ results from the Latin ‘addictus,’ from the verb ‘addicere’ [ah-dee-keh-reh]. There are several translations for addicere, but a few stand out; enslavement, extreme religious devotion, and sacrifice. Other definitions can apply, but those above will suit for this article. Nobody can deny that people living in the grips of mental illness find themselves in a form of bondage. Each day, enormous sacrifices are made (against wellbeing) in devotion to the disease. What’s more, it may be worth mentioning that the verb addicere can also mean to judge, sentence, or condemn. It isn't hard to see that the way we talk about mental illness results in stigmatization.

Defining Stigma

stigma

Now, let’s talk about stigma or a mark of disgrace. Half a millennium ago, the word from the Latin Stigmata, meant a "mark made on skin by burning with a hot iron;" from the Greek stigma (genitive stigmatos) "mark of a pointed instrument, puncture, tattoo-mark, brand." Anyone with a Christian upbringing can probably deduce the association with Christ and stigmata. Stigmas "marks resembling the wounds on the body of Christ, appearing supernaturally on the bodies of the devout." The last bit there, and perhaps worth extended focus, is devout; if you remember from above the addict devotes him or herself to the point of slavery, and here we see that stigmas are brands upon such people.

You can easily see the link between addicts and stigmas in America; if we are honest, everyone living with mental illness has come face to face with judgment at some point. The question we should be asking is, ‘to what end?’ There is research with ample support to back it showing that stigma prevents people from accessing treatment, and by default—recovery. Given that addiction is an epidemic, and the symptoms of which are treatable; it begs the question, why does society continue to act and speak in a way that prevents mothers, fathers, sisters, and brothers from getting help?

The perspective of addiction that many people adhere to is somewhat schizophrenic (in the non-psychological sense of the word); to give you an idea, please consider the data below. More than half of Americans believe addiction is a medical problem; however, less than 1 in 5 Americans say they would closely associate with people (i.e., friend, co-worker, or neighbor) struggling with addiction.

The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research Survey

A survey involving 1,054 adults fielding questions online or by phone reveals the kind of troubling findings above. The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research survey shows that forty-four percent believe opioid use disorder is a sign of lacking willpower or discipline; one-third of those participating see opiate addiction as a character flaw, The Washington Post reports. Equally as troubling is the fifty-five percent of respondents favoring a “crackdown” on people misusing drugs.

While two-thirds said policy-makers should expand access to treatment, it appears that respondents fail to grasp how their views of addiction bar people from accessing rehab. Federal research confirms what those working in the field of addiction acutely understand; stigma prevents people from seeking treatment. Over 2 million Americans are struggling with an opioid use disorder; but, only 1 in 5 receive “specialized treatment.”

“When something is stigmatized nobody wants to bring it up, so therefore people who need the help are less willing to come forward,” Dr. Corey Waller, an addiction specialist in New Jersey, told the AP.

Opioid Use Disorder Treatment

In my judgment such of us who have never fallen victims have been spared more by the absence of appetite than from any mental or moral superiority over those who have. Indeed, I believe if we take habitual drunkards as a class, their heads and their hearts will bear an advantageous comparison with those of any other class. —Abraham Lincoln [addressing the Washingtonian Temperance Society, February 22, 1842]

Addicts are people living with a form of mental illness that they can manage and recover from provided, however, they feel compassion from their friends, family, and community. For too long stigma has had a hand in preventing individuals from finding support; we can no longer allow people’s “personal” views about any life-threatening conditions shape our policy. Millions of people are living with an opioid use disorder, and many millions more are battling alcohol use disorder; no family or community is exempt from mental illness. Compassion is far more valuable than judgment; branding our fellows as weak or flawed impacts society in myriad ways.

If prescription opioids or heroin is impacting your life negatively, PACE Recovery Center can help. We specialize in the treatment of young men caught in the vicious cycle of addiction and coöccurring disorders. Please contact PACE to learn more about how we can assist you to begin the process of healing and learn how to lead a productive life in recovery.

Opioid Addiction Epidemic Observations

opioid addiction

Media news outlets are instrumental in presenting a picture of addiction in America. The tireless work of journalists serves to educate all of us on the nature of the disease and informs us about efforts to rectify the problem. While the media doesn’t always get it right, the simple fact that discourse exists is a step in the right direction. Headlines put human faces to the numbers, which is vital to ending the stigma of alcohol and substance use disorders.

Curbing the American opioid addiction epidemic is challenging, due to a myriad of reasons—it's difficult to list them all. There is a fundamental problem in this country in how most people refer to the scourge of opioid use. It's called an "opioid epidemic;" however, the crisis we face is exponentially more massive than the 2 million plus (low estimate) individuals abusing OxyContin or injecting heroin, and the 64,000 people who perished in 2016. In reality, we are up against an addiction epidemic; something many experts and the media have lost sight of in recent years.

While we have all focused on opioids, a family of drugs devastating a large number of White Americans, the use, and abuse of other substances receives little attention. Lawmakers and health experts sincerely desire to help those in the grips of opioid addiction, yet few can agree on the means and ways of accomplishing the task. Congress pledges to help Americans overcome opioid dependence while simultaneously vowing to dismantle legislation intended to protect Americans.

Symptoms of Addiction

Ensuring that insurance companies cover mental health costs is of the utmost importance; the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act and the Affordable Care Act both include provisions mandating insurance to cover all health costs commensurately. A person with opioid use disorder should have the same level of coverage as someone with diabetes. Despite such legislation, providers still find a way to skirt the mandates; a person need only try to get 90-days of treatment covered to determine the depth of their policy regarding parity.

Overprescribing opioid painkillers had a hand in creating the problem we face today, but we must be careful when playing the blame game. Addiction takes root in a person when the conditions are just right, i.e., family history, quality of life, and co-occurring mental illnesses. Doctors were prescribing opioids willy-nilly in the mid to late 2000's, a time when economic hardship was people's reality. Simply put, people were unhappy, opiates made them feel better, and people had access to a bottomless reservoir of painkillers. A large percentage of those same people are still in an unfortunate way.

Doctors could stop prescribing opioids altogether, and the use of drugs like heroin or fentanyl would continue. Unless help is accessible, the suffering and premature deaths will continue. Not just from opioids, any mind-altering substance that results in physical dependence is likely to play a detrimental role in a person's health and their prospect of living a long life. It's vital for us to remember that more Americans die from alcohol each year than from overdoses. Only by looking at the big picture, can we make headway in addressing the scourge of opioid abuse.

How to Solve an Epidemic?

The New York Times is asking its readers to help the publication shape their coverage of opioid use in America. As a society, all of us have been affected by addiction both personally and in our families; with that in mind, everyone’s opinion is valuable to the goal of reducing addiction rates. A NYT survey opens with:

The devastating effects of opioid abuse are rippling through families and neighborhoods across the United States. To improve our coverage we are seeking to learn more about what our readers are looking for. Tell us what kinds of stories you’d like to see us cover. Your answers will be confidential and only shared internally. We won’t use your name or attribute any of your responses to you.”

One of the more critical questions the newspaper asks is: “In general, are you hopeful that the opioid epidemic in America will eventually be solved? Why or why not?”

Opioid Use Disorder Treatment

Addiction is a treatable mental illness provided however you have the right help. At PACE Recovery Center, we can help you get out from under this insidious disease and begin a journey of lasting recovery. Please contact us today if you are in the grips of this progressive mental illness.

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.

Addiction Treatment for Opioid Use Disorder

addiction

Opioid use disorder has the potential to impact any one’s life, as is evident by overwhelming addiction rates and an ever-increasing death toll. Prescription opioids, heroin, and synthetic opioid use is a complicated problem to address; on the one hand, pain must be treated adequately, while on the other hand, such drugs wield deadly power. If the nation is to find a solution to this public health crisis, it will be in the realm of responsible prescribing practices and addiction treatment services expansion.

If you have been following the epidemic, and efforts to address opioid use disorder, then you are probably aware that in the grand scheme of things there has been limited progress. Prescription drug monitoring programs designed to curb doctor shopping and help physicians identify opioid-dependent patients are underutilized. A large number of doctors are resistant to prescribing guidelines from government health agencies. Legislation passed to address various aspects of the scourge, while sensible and likely to reap progress, lacks the appropriate funding to fulfill such goals.

Addiction treatment exists, and it’s a useful means for turning one’s life around completely. Those who seek help from addiction treatment centers get introduced to a way of living that they once thought impossible. Sadly, many addicts and alcoholics don’t believe recovery is possible; it’s hard to see the light of change when in a perpetual cycle of darkness. People in the throes of addiction often resign themselves to thinking they will succumb to their disease. It’s for those reasons that everyone in recovery and the field of addiction medicine needs to do what they can to disabuse people of such notions.

Encouraging Addiction Treatment

If you are dependent on opioid narcotics, we understand what you are going through, and we’d like to say that there is hope. There are thousands of people around the country who have made helping others break the cycle of addiction their life’s purpose. Many of those very same people were once in the position you find yourself in today; they have first-hand knowledge of your struggle.

Getting out from under one’s disease and leading a life in recovery is only possible with the help of others, going it alone is not an option. Due to this reality, it’s common for people in recovery to dedicate themselves to helping others realize their dreams of a different life. When you decide to seek treatment, you will find out relatively quickly that many of the people employed by the center are in recovery, too. In effect, people who work at treatment centers are living proof that the program works, forcing one to think that maybe recovery will work for me as well.

Who knows maybe one day, having learned how to live a life in recovery in addiction treatment, you will pass the message along to others. You will be in a position to guide others out of the depths of despair into the light of recovery; and in doing so, strengthen your program. Naturally, there is much to do in between now and spreading the message that recovery works, starting with addressing your disease and the self-defeating behaviors that accompany the condition.

Making A Decision

No one can force another into treatment. Even if you could, the result wouldn’t likely be positive. Meaningful progress only comes about when a person decides to take specific steps for change. It’s not a choice that comes easily; people can talk themselves out of seeking help even when one is looking up from the bottom. Mental illness does not loosen its grip without putting up a fight, and it excels at sowing the seeds of doubt in the minds of the afflicted. We could say that choosing to go into treatment is a leap of faith in a sense. However, there is living proof that walking blindly into a center of recovery will be fruitful in the long run.

Those of you with loved ones battling opioid use disorder should know that encouraging them to seek treatment will save their life and grant them a future. Over 2 million Americans are struggling with prescription opioid and heroin addiction, and over 50,000 people die of an overdose each year. The above numbers are expected to go in only one direction in the coming years, so the need for promoting recovery is more vital than ever.

If you are unsure about how to efficiently discuss recovery with your loved one, we can help. We work closely with addiction interventionists across the country who can guide you in how to talk about treatment with a loved one. Having a mediator in the room mitigates the risk of an intervention going south. Please contact us today to learn how PACE Recovery Center can help you or a loved one break the cycle of addiction and help one learn how to lead a productive life in recovery.

Addiction-Free Pain Management

addiction

The search for cures to the world’s most deadly diseases (i.e., cancer and addiction) is one that tends to result in more questions than answers. History indicates, time and time again, that solutions to medical ailments are hard-fought, often taking decades to make progress. Some 37 years have passed since the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) began its quest for a cure to the human immunodeficiency virus infection and acquired immune deficiency syndrome (HIV/AIDS). While there are medications that can keep HIV/AIDS at bay, a cure still eludes researchers.

We could say the same for many life-threatening health conditions leading to premature death, i.e., cancer, diabetes, and hepatitis C. The disease of addiction could also be added to the list of fatal conditions with no known cure. Like AIDS, recovery from addiction can be managed and maintained, but not cured.

It’s safe to assume that researchers are not on the brink of discovery regarding a cure for addiction. However, if a problem can’t be solved, then a temporary solution is to lessen the number of new cases. Finding ways to prevent individuals from going down the road of addiction is complicated by the method doctors use to treat pain.

Treating Pain Without The Risk of Addiction

Pain is a fact of life. At some point, all of us experience acute or chronic pain. The current means of treating either type of pain is prescription opioids. We don’t need to tell you the result of handling all-things-pain with opioids. Even when something non-addictive, like Tylenol, will work, doctors, more times than not (it seems) still fall back on drugs like OxyContin or Vicodin. The result? We now have more than 2 million opioid addicts in the United States.

At the Society for Neuroscience meeting this week in Washington, D.C., opioids was a significant topic of discussion. Pharmacologist Edward Bilsky, provost and chief academic officer at Pacific Northwest University of Health Sciences, is moderated a panel on pain, addiction, and opioid abuse, NPR reports. One of the topics of discussion: alternatives to opioids in the treatment of pain.

We know a lot more about pain and addiction than we used to," said Bilsky, "But it's been hard to get a practical drug."

Bilsky highlights several areas of pain management that carry fewer risks to patient safety than opioids, such as:

  • Scientists discovered cone snail venom contains substances that act as powerful painkillers affecting non-opioid receptors in the brain. However, the one drug on the market is only administered by spinal column injection.
  • Drugs targeting specific brain circuits which increase or diminish perception of pain; some antidepressants have shown promise.
  • Researchers are also working on ways to erase memories of pain.

Addiction Via Chronic Pain

The definition of chronic pain is experiencing daily discomfort for more than three months. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) reports that at least 25 million people suffer from chronic pain. Given that most of the individuals mentioned above receive prescription opioids, the risk of new opioid addiction cases is high. The need for opiate alternatives is tremendous, and hopefully, progress in the field is on the horizon.

The road to opioid use disorder often begins with chronic pain. When anyone uses a drug like OxyContin for months on end, dependence is inevitable. The hooks of opiate narcotics sink deep, even if one’s pain subsides the need for the drugs lingers on. Patients looking to break free from their painkillers struggle to do so on their own; fortunately, there is help available.

At PACE Recovery Center, an exclusive, gender-specific, extended care, alcohol and drug rehab for men, we’ve seen the devastating effect of reckless overprescribing. We know that people with opioid use disorder are prone to relapse if they do not seek assistance when seeking recovery. Our team of highly-skilled addiction professionals can help you (or a loved one) break the cycle of opioid addiction, and show you how life in recovery is possible. Please contact us today, regardless of which type of drug you are addicted (OxyContin or heroin). We can help.

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.

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.