Tag Archives: opioid use disorders

Addiction Recovery: Refocusing On Opioid Use Disorder

addiction recovery

The United States isn’t a stranger to deadly epidemics. For over twenty years, public health officials have waged a protracted war against the opioid addiction epidemic. Opioid use disorder (OUD) has cut hundreds of thousands of lives short; millions of Americans are currently in the grips of OUD and are in desperate need of addiction recovery.

As you well know, our local, state, and federal public health agencies are stretched thin because of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic. As such, it’s unlikely that health officials have the resources to combat two epidemics simultaneously.

The deadly coronavirus is commonly referred to as COVID-19; ‘CO’ stands for ‘corona,’ ‘VI’ for ‘virus,’ and ‘D’ for disease. The 19 corresponds to the year it was discovered. If you’ve been following the news reports while sheltering in place, then you know that the coronavirus has hit America harder than any other country.

Today’s reports indicate that 672,303 Americans have confirmed cases and 33,898 of our citizens are no longer with us. It must be pointed out that the exact number of people who have COVID-19 is probably significantly higher than what the reports indicate, as is the death toll. Testing is limited, people can be asymptomatic, and there has been a shortage of autopsies. Some Americans are dying from SARS-CoV-2, and it’s not being reported.

Limited Testing Demands Continued Preventive Measures

Only people who exhibit symptoms are eligible for a test because of the limited number of available tests. On April 16th, only 3.2 million (about 1 percent of the population) Americans had been tested, according to The Atlantic. Nearly one in five people who get tested for the COVID-19 in the United States are positive; Tracking Project reports that is a “test-positivity rate” of nearly 20 percent. Jason Andrews, an infectious-disease professor at Stanford, says that number is “very high.”

The reality laid out above is alarming and is cause for all of us to continue taking preventative measures. Even though prolonging the practice of social distancing and sheltering in place is taking a toll on us all, we must keep heeding the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines. Along with wearing face masks in public, following CDC recommendations is the only way to stop the spread of the disease until the advent of a vaccine.

Unfortunately, it’s challenging for average citizens to acquire a medical grade face mask like the N95; those available need to be in the hands of medical workers who are on the frontlines. The good news is that making an effective mask is relatively easy with a few essential ingredients. Matthew McConaughey, AKA “Bobby Bandito,” explains how:


If you are having trouble watching, please click here.

Refocusing On Opioid Addiction Recovery

Over the last two decades we’ve witnessed a staggering rise in overdose deaths mostly involving the use of opioid narcotics. Opioid addiction remains a real public health threat that has been overshadowed by the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s vital that we do not lose sight of the crisis and continue to provide and expand access to addiction recovery services.

The day will come when the coronavirus is contained, but addiction will continue to plague millions of Americans. We have written on many occasions about the steps taken to curb opioid use disorder rates and reduce the annual death toll related to prescription opioids and heroin. The passing of multiple pieces of legislation to expand access to addiction treatment and the opioid overdose reversal drug naloxone has paid off.

In 2018, the number of overdose deaths in America fell by 4 percent from the previous year, Politico reports. Experts considered the reduction as an inflection point. The decrease is almost certainly due to the actions we mentioned above. However, there is reason to believe that we could see a rise in 2020 because the nation’s public health experts are primarily focused on the pandemic.

We must turn our eyes back to the American addiction epidemic related to opioids and other deadly substances. Experts must take steps to ensure people can access addiction recovery services. Moreover, those struggling with substance use disorders need to be made aware that addiction treatment centers are still operating; they are an “essential service” if the strictest sense of the words.

I think we’re going to see deaths climb again,” Nora Volkow, the long-serving director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse. “We can’t afford to focus solely on COVID. We need to multitask.”

Tackling the Opioid Epidemic During a Pandemic

Yesterday, a group of mental health and addiction recovery advocates spoke with White House officials, including the president, according to the article. The experts cautioned that without nearly $50 billion in emergency funds, progress made with the opioid epidemic could be lost. They said that with new support, we could prevent backsliding on the ground we’ve made regarding the shortage of providers and stigma. The funds will ensure that people can access lifesaving addiction recovery services.

Some of you will remember that the “great recession” of 2008 contributed a dramatic rise in opioid use and overdose deaths. Economic woes often lead people to cope in unhealthy ways. Given that 22 million Americans lost their jobs in the last month, history suggests we will see a similar trend to what happened 12 years ago.

There is already evidence that many Americans are using drugs and alcohol to cope with the pandemic. Last week, the market research firm Nielsen reported that alcohol sales surged 55 percent in the first week “stay at home” orders.

Hard liquor sales increased by 75 percent compared to the same time last year. It’s fair to say that a similar trend is occurring regarding opioid use. Sheila Vakharia, a deputy director at the Drug Policy Alliance, said:

We had that little blip, 4 percent or 5 percent decrease [in overdose deaths] and there were way too many headlines celebrating. That tenuous plateau people hoped we were seeing is not going to hold.”

Opioid Addiction Recovery Treatment for Men

Individuals struggling with alcohol or substance use disorders during these challenging times can still take steps toward a life in addiction recovery. At PACE Recovery Center, we continue to treat adult males living with addiction and mental health disorders. Our clients’ safety is our chief priority; we continue to adhere to the COVID-19 guidelines from the CDC strictly. Please contact us today to discuss treatment options.

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.

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