Tag Archives: opioid use disorder

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 Recovery: COVID-19 Pandemic Affects People in Sobriety

addiction

If you are like most Americans, then coronavirus (COVID-19) is on your mind throughout the day. It’s the most severe pandemic since the worldwide influenza outbreak of 1918. In the United States, COVID-19 is the deadliest epidemic since the onset of the opioid addiction crisis in America in 1999.

From 1999 to February 2019, nearly 500,000 thousand Americans died from drug overdoses. From the beginning of March 2020 to March 27, there have been 1,301 reported deaths in the United States related to COVID-19. The number of confirmed cases stands at 86,012 in the U.S., according to The New York Times. At least 553,244 people have tested positive worldwide, with 25,035 reported deaths.

Our nation has just surpassed every other nation in COVID-19 cases. While Europe is still the epicenter of the pandemic, projections indicate that the U.S. is poised to take that position and will likely see the highest death toll. Reuters asked Margaret Harris, a spokeswoman for the World Health Organization (WHO), if the U.S. could become the new epicenter of the virus; her response:

We are now seeing a very large acceleration in cases in the U.S. So it does have that potential.”

As the number of positive tests exponentially increases each day in America, all of our lives have changed in unquantifiable ways. Schools are shut down, while businesses that can operate remotely continue to do so, but an untold number have had to close. Millions are newly unemployed as a result of this public health crisis.

Education and the economy are of vital importance to be sure; however, they both pale in comparison to the value of a single human life.

COVID-19 and Addiction

If you have been following the news reports, then you are probably aware that specific demographics are at higher risk of contracting and succumbing to the disease. Older demographics and those with pre-existing health conditions are most susceptible, including individuals living with the disease of addiction.

Those with active alcohol and substance use disorders need to take extra precautions. The coronavirus attacks the lungs. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) points out that tobacco and cannabis smokers are at particular risk; the same is true for vapers.

NIDA also stresses that people with opioid use disorder (OUD) and stimulant use disorder could be vulnerable too. Both drugs are detrimental to respiratory and pulmonary health. Men and women in long term recovery are not in the clear either. NIDA writes:

We know very little right now about COVID-19 and even less about its intersection with substance use disorders. But we can make educated guesses based on past experience that people with compromised health due to smoking or vaping and people with opioid, methamphetamine, cannabis, and other substance use disorders could find themselves at increased risk of COVID-19 and its more serious complications—for multiple physiological and social/environmental reasons.”

Years of heavy drug and alcohol use can do irreparable damage to one’s health. Many people in recovery have chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and other respiratory diseases. Even those in early recovery – both the young and old – have compromised immune systems, which can worsen the prognosis if they contract COVID-19.

As we have pointed out in a previous article, many 12 Step groups have resorted to conducting meetings online. Video conferencing is now instrumental in protecting the recovery of millions of Americans, and digital meetings prevent people from coming into contact with COVID-19.

Coping with Anxiety and Stress in Recovery

The entire nation rightly fears contracting coronavirus, which is placing enormous stress on all of us. Anxiety and stress are known triggers for relapse in the recovery community. At PACE Recovery Center, we ask that everyone in recovery be extra vigilant about recovery during this time.

We know that many people have lost their employment and are quarantined from friends, family, and networks of support. Everyone is facing adversity, and it’s essential to continue focusing on your recovery. You can still practice the principles of recovery in all your affairs even when you are cut off physically from your peers.

Take advantage of the online resources available and reach out if you find yourself craving drugs and alcohol. The program gave you tools for coping with challenging emotions and situations; we implore you to utilize them at all times.

Together, we can support each other from afar and prevent countless relapses. We are all in this together and will get through it, helping one another and adhering to the recommendations of our public health officials.

PACE would like to express our deepest sympathies to the families who have lost loved ones. Our prayers and thoughts are with all of you, and we hope that those battling COVID-19 make a speedy recovery.

Gender-Specific Addiction Treatment for Men

During this trying time, it is still possible to begin a journey of addiction recovery. If you are an adult male living with alcohol, substance, mental, or a co-occurring disorder, then PACE Recovery Center can be of significant assistance. Please contact us today to learn more about our programs and the precautions we’re taking to ensure the health safety of our clients.

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.

Methamphetamine and Opioids: Drug Synergism Concerns

Methamphetamine

In 2011, 19% of opioid users said they also used methamphetamine; by 2017, that figure had risen to 34%, according to a study appearing in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence. The researchers concluded:

“Qualitative data indicated that methamphetamine served as an opioid substitute, provided a synergistic high, and balanced out the effects of opioids so one could function “normally.” Our data suggest that, at least to some extent, efforts limiting access to prescription opioids may be associated with an increase in the use of methamphetamine.”

In 2014, 14% of heroin users entering treatment in San Francisco reported also having a meth problem. A follow up in 2017 showed that 22% of heroin users seeking treatment in San Francisco had issues with meth too.

The numbers above are not an anomaly; methamphetamine is making a comeback across the United States. Although, some experts might argue that meth use never went away but was hiding in the shadows of the opioid epidemic.

The days of clandestine methamphetamine labs in the U.S. came to an end in the 2000s. However, government crackdowns had the unintended consequence of ushering in new opportunities for Mexican cartels.

Efforts to stem the tide of homegrown meth production in America were most successful at creating a windfall for the cartels. South of the border “super labs” sprung up to feed America’s growing demand for “crystal meth.” Mexican meth, sometimes called “ice” due to its purity, is stronger and less expensive than what was found on the streets a decade ago.

Deaths involving methamphetamine are steadily rising, particularly in the West, NPR reports. The link between meth and opioids is cause for concern; the surge in meth use is believed to be tied to efforts to confront the opioid epidemic.

The Impact of Rising Opioid Prices

Making it more difficult to acquire certain drugs does little to address addiction. Instead, it forces those who live with use disorders to take more risks and seek new avenues of euphoria. Most people are aware that the U.S. government has taken many steps to decrease access to prescription opioids. New legislation and prescribing guidelines forced many addicts to turn to heroin.

While heroin is less expensive than OxyContin, a habit can be hundreds of dollars a day. Maintaining an opioid addiction is costly, regardless of the drug in question. Opioids make people feel lethargic, which makes it difficult to hold down a job. Stimulants like meth provide many addicts the extra pep in their step needed to get to work.

Amelia, a recovering addict, tells NPR that meth enabled her to keep working so she could afford her heroin habit. She said that using stimulants to help her support the opioid use disorder developed into a pattern.

The heroin was the most expensive part,” she says. “That was $200 a day at one point. And the meth was $150 a week.”

There are other reasons why people use stimulants in conjunction with opioids—drug synergism. Addicts have been mixing heroin and cocaine (e.g., “speedballing”) for a long time; one drug enhances the effects of the other and vice versa. However, cocaine is often more expensive than heroin. Now, many people are using heroin and meth simultaneously to replicate a speedball; the admixture is commonly referred to as a “goofball.”

When a person is struggling with both a stimulant and opioid use disorder, it can complicate treatment efforts. Unlike opioids, there is no medication to help people with meth withdrawal. It’s it vital that treatment professionals pay close attention to polysubstance use disorder cases to prevent relapse.

Methamphetamine and Opioid Use Disorder Treatment

Mixing stimulants with opioids is a deadly combination; naloxone isn’t as effective on polysubstance overdoses. It is vital that individuals in the grips of meth and opioid addiction seek professional help immediately to avoid severe complications.

If you are an adult male who is struggling with a use disorder of any kind, please contact PACE Recovery Center today. Our gender-specific, extended care programs can help you break the cycle of addiction. We are available 24/7 to answer any of your questions about our multidimensional approach to substance use disorder treatment.

Recovery Helps Young Men Achieve Their Goals

recovery

When a young man gives up drugs and alcohol, hopefully for good, there is no limit on what he can achieve. Anyone still in the grips of addiction may find that statement hard to believe. Maybe such readers are asking themselves, “What’s the catch?” There isn’t one! All that recovery asks of people is willingness and honesty. A willingness to be open-minded and honest, even when every cell in the body urges one to do the opposite.

Learning to live life on life’s terms, choosing to no longer be driven by fear, is a recipe for opening doors. The tendency to self-sabotage and adhere to a self-defeating mentality disappears when one surrenders. When a man accepts that he has an incurable affliction and is willing to do whatever it takes to manage his symptoms of mental illness, he discovers a life once thought impossible.

When young men find the courage to reinvent their lives, it is a gift. Moreover, recovery is the ultimate gift that keeps on giving. Working a program grants people the honor of helping others find the strength to make similar changes. There are few feelings as potent as what one experiences when he witnesses recovery transform the life of another. Knowing that your selfless acts of kindness, understanding, and gentle guidance played a critical role in saving a life is remarkable.

People In Recovery Inspire

People who embrace long-term sobriety become inspirations to those who are still “out there” and newcomers alike. Since most in recovery do so with the benefit of anonymity, it can be challenging to find inspiring people outside “the rooms” to look to for motivation. Fortunately, more and more people are turning their back on the societal stigma of addiction. That ever-pressing urge to keep both the addiction and recovery a closely guarded secret loses its appeal with each passing year.

In the twenty-first century, many celebrities and icons are opening up about their struggles and recoveries. Several athletes, musicians, and movie stars are sharing their experiences, strength, and hope with the world. In doing so, members of the general public are finding the will to reach out for assistance and they are healing. While each person in recovery has the right to share their story with whomever they choose – or not – no rule says sobriety shouldn’t be talked about openly.

The 91st Academy Awards have passed, but before they aired, one nominee shared that he owes his life and success to sobriety. Some readers may have had an opportunity to watch A Star Is Born: a film that has been remade three times now. The most recent iteration stars Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga. Cooper directed the film and played the addicted rock star named Jackson Maine. It turns out it was a role Cooper was uniquely equipped for, owing to his history with substance abuse, mental health, and fifteen years of sobriety.

The stories that exist in this story, it comes from a very deep personal place and that’s the only way that I know how to communicate with many people,” Cooper tells The New York Times.

A Recovery Is Born

In 2012, Mr. Cooper spoke with The Hollywood Reporter (THR) about the roots of his mental health and addiction struggles. His story is likely to resonate with many young men, both in active addiction or recovery.

Bradley started drinking at a young age and began having suicidal ideations at the turn of the century. An injury led him to an opioid use disorder. He acknowledges that his path to addiction was a consequence of deep-seated insecurities: a sentiment familiar to many in recovery.

I was so concerned what you thought of me, how I was coming across, how I would survive the day,” he told THR. “I always felt like an outsider. I just lived in my head. I realized I wasn’t going to live up to my potential, and that scared the hell out of me. I thought, ‘Wow, I’m actually gonna ruin my life; I’m really gonna ruin it.'”

Once Bradley decided to make changes, his life started to improve — as did his mental health. He came to see that he didn’t need drugs and alcohol to cope with his insecurities. In 2015, with eleven years sober, he shared with Barbara Walters that he owes his whole life to sobriety:

“I would never be sitting here with you, no way, no chance [if I hadn’t gotten sober,]” he said. “I wouldn’t have been able to have access to myself or other people, or even been able to take in other people, if I hadn’t changed my life. I never would have been able to have the relationships that I do. I never would have been able to take care of my father the way I did when he was sick. So many things.”

PACE Recovery Center Young Adult Rehab

Our clinical team specializes in working with young adult males battling chemical dependency and behavioral health issues. Since more than half of individuals living with addiction also struggle with co-occurring mental illness, it is critical to seek help from a center that can treat the entire patient. PACE Recovery Center provides young men with a structured program: one that teaches clients how to live balanced lives free from drugs and alcohol. We invite you to contact us for yourself or a loved one to discuss treatment options.

“We believe that incorporating sound clinical interventions and a lifestyle that encourages health and wellness, in a shame-free setting that encourages accountability and responsibility, will help foster long term recovery.”

Opioid Addiction Epidemic Solutions

opioid

More than 72,000 people in the United States died from accidental drug overdoses last year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). While it is difficult to quickly pinpoint the exact cause of a fatal drug overdose – prescription drugs, heroin, or synthetic opioids – opioid painkillers are one of the leading reasons. Drugs like oxycodone, hydromorphone, and hydrocodone are responsible for many deaths each year, despite efforts to rein in overprescribing and doctor shopping.

Even if a prescription opioid isn’t linked to an overdose death, there is a good chance that a victim was introduced to opiates by a physician. Deadly introductions to opioids are extremely common, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) reports that 80 percent of heroin users first misused prescription painkillers. The reasons for changing from FDA-approved drugs to street-grade heroin vary; but, it often stems from a patient no longer being able to acquire their prescriptions easily.

Anyone living with opioid use disorder – whether they’re still active or in the first 5-years of recovery – knows that in most states it’s more difficult than before to meet the demands of their disease. Why is more challenging? Because practically every state in the country has some form of prescription drug monitoring program (PDMP); many doctors have a better understanding of the disease; and, most physicians are unable to write refill after refill for opioid narcotics. Patients are now receiving smaller, less potent drugs than before and more doctors are determined to taper patients off in a timely manner.

In many cases, not all, patients will turn to the black market to acquire the drugs they desire—narcotics that will prevent painful withdrawal symptoms. However, many Americans still find ways to obtain their prescription meds and use them in dangerous ways.

Prescription Drug Monitoring Program Mandate

PDMPs exist, but few doctors rely on the life-saving tools! Each doctor gives their reasons for resistance, and such reasons vary from state-to-state. Here in California, and despite being the first state to implement a PDMP, the track record of use is nothing short of dismal.

The Controlled Substance Utilization Review and Evaluation System, or CURES, debuted in 1997; but, by 2012 less than 10 percent of providers and pharmacists had signed up for access to the database, according to a Los Angeles Times investigation. In 2012, the opioid addiction epidemic was well underway, and Californians were succumbing to overdoses at a staggering rate. Moreover, few doctors were turning to CURES to learn about their patient’s prescriptions, who prescribed the drugs, and which pharmacies filled them.

Given that doctors are in a wholly unique position to identify patients at risk of abuse, or those already showing signs of addiction, utilizing CURES is no longer up for debate. Whether a physician likes the database or not (some have complained that it is hard to use), starting next month use is mandatory, The Los Angeles Times reports. State Sen. Ricardo Lara’s SB 482 goes into effect requiring, among other things, that:

A health care practitioner authorized to prescribe, order, administer, or furnish a controlled substance to consult the CURES database to review a patient’s controlled substance history no earlier than 24 hours, or the previous business day, before prescribing a Schedule II, Schedule III, or Schedule IV controlled substance to the patient for the first time and at least once every 4 months thereafter if the substance remains part of the treatment of the patient.

Stemming the Tide of Addiction With Due Diligence

Despite being around for more than 20 years, the program has had a number of problems that have been addressed over the years. Originally described as “clunky and far from user-friendly,” the system was revamped in 2009 and CURES 2.0 was released in 2016 with a better interface, according to the article. The newer database is far from perfect and can use some improvements; even still, compulsory use of CURES will undoubtedly save lives.

California joins New York, Kentucky, and Tennessee in requiring doctors to consult a prescription drug database before prescribing. According to the article, a 2017 study showed that mandatory use of New York’s I-STOP database in 2013 led to a leveling off of prescription opioid deaths in the state.

California created the first system to track prescriptions of the strongest painkillers, but our state fell behind as the opioid crisis grew,” said state Sen. Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens), who drafted the legislation in 2015. “I wrote SB 482 to require that doctors and others consult the CURES system before prescribing these powerful and addictive drugs. This tool will help limit doctor shopping, break the cycle of addiction and prevent prescriptions from ever again fueling an epidemic that claims thousands of lives.”

Opioid Use Disorder Treatment for Men

Please reach out to PACE Recovery Center if you are struggling with prescription opioids or heroin, or your loved one is about to complete inpatient treatment and can benefit from extended care. Relying on a combination of traditional and alternative therapeutic methods, we can help you or a family member enter into a life of recovery from opiate addiction.

If you are in crisis, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741741.

Addiction to Opioids and Finding Recovery

addiction

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

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

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

Tackling Widespread Opioid Use

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

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

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

Persisting Stigma of Addiction

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

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

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

Addiction Treatment

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

Recovery Boys: Young Men Living With Opioid Use Disorder

Recovery Boys

Beyond drugs and alcohol, there is a meaningful life to be had for anyone provided however they are willing to make significant changes. We know this, we have seen it first hand at PACE Recovery Center; each year we help young men pull themselves out of the depths of despair and embrace a wholly new way of living. Males whose prospects for the future were exceedingly dim just a short time ago are today committed to doing whatever it takes to keep their disease at bay. Those same men are living examples of the power of recovery, and they serve as an inspiration to all who are interested in following a similar path.

When scrolling through news feeds of addiction-related topics, it can be easy to adopt the opinion that recovery is nearly impossible. Such is especially for some people when they see headlines about the almost two-decade-long opioid addiction epidemic, a crisis that has shattered families and stolen the lives of both young and old alike. With over 100 Americans perishing from opioid-related causes every day, and another 2.1 million people whose next use could be their last, it can be easy to become discouraged.

It is vital we balance the scales and dispel myths about addiction and recovery. And, the general public should know that for every tragic story, there is one of hope; with the help of detox facilities, treatment centers, and a daily program, men and women can persevere. This most deadly illness has a weakness, that of community, compassion, and empathy; working together with those who came before, people can overcome use disorders and find peace and serenity.

Recovery Boys

Encouraging people to take the leap from substance use to recovery isn’t simple, addiction has a way of persuading people to act in ways counter to their best interest. With that in mind, it helps if addicts first believe that recovery is possible and one way to accomplish the task of encouraging individuals to seek treatment is to show them stories of success. Documentary filmmaker and director, Elaine McMillion Sheldon, has made it her mission to light the way toward healing for many young men still “out there.” In her latest film, “Recovery Boys,” Sheldon follows four young men living with opioid use disorder as they chart a path out of the dark cave of addiction.

If you are familiar with her prior work about the opioid epidemic, “Heroin(e),” then you would likely agree that Sheldon aims to erode the stigma of addiction. “Heroin(e)” follows three women in Huntington, West Virginia, working on the frontlines of the epidemic. Some call Huntington the “overdose capital of the United States!” If you have not seen the Oscar-nominated film, you can stream it on Netflix.

While the spotlight focuses on empathetic people trying to save the lives of addicts in “Heroin(e),” Sheldon turns the lens on young men who do not want opioid addiction to be the end of their story in “Recovery Boys.” Like most people in early recovery, the four human subjects in Sheldon’s new film have many obstacles ahead, but watching them go through the process may inspire others to embark on similar journeys.

I make this film not to victimize, pity or make excuses for individuals, but to uplift the stories of people who are actively trying to make change, no matter how big or small,” Sheldon said in a statement.

Please take a moment to watch the trailer:


If you are having trouble watching, please click here.

Opioid Use Disorder Treatment for Men

Many young men across the country believe that recovery is not an option. Some of those same people give recovery a go for a time only to relapse; when that happens, it’s easy to resign oneself to negative lines of thought about the prospect of change. Becoming discouraged is understandable, but it shouldn’t be an excuse to give up on recovery altogether. The fact is that there are thousands of compassionate people working in the field of addiction medicine, many of whom are healing from addiction too, who are committed to helping others adopt a program of recovery. Mental illness is treatable; we can break the bonds of the disease, and long-term recovery is achievable. Although to achieve the above ends, individuals must work together!

Due to the complexities of opioid dependence, long-term treatment is the most effective way of bringing about lasting recovery. If you are a young adult male who is battling an opioid use disorder, our team of highly skilled addiction professionals can show you how life in recovery is possible. Please contact us at your earliest convenience to learn more about the PACE Recovery model.

Opioid Summit Involves Google and Facebook

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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 Addiction in America Accountability

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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.

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