Tag Archives: opioids

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.

Alcohol Use Disorder Prevention and Recovery

alcohol use

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) reports that an estimated 16 million Americans meet the criteria for alcohol use disorder. In 2015, 9.8 million men, 5.3 million women, and an estimated 623,000 adolescents (12–17) had AUD. You can see that alcohol use is affecting the lives of far too many people; and given that most people who are struggling with mental illness, like addiction, do not receive the care required for recovery—their lives will only get more chaotic. Opioids are the primary focus of lawmakers and health experts when it comes to substance use and abuse these days, and for more than a decade now. If you consider that far more people succumb to alcohol-related illness each year than opioids, you may find yourself wondering why we are not having more conversations about alcoholism?

Research appearing in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2017 indicates that more than 2 million Americans are grappling with an opioid use disorder (OUD). It stands to reason that this number will continue to grow before it shrinks unless more significant efforts are taken to educate people about the risks (addiction and overdose) of prescription painkillers and to use any form of opioid narcotic. There are more than 64,000 drug overdose deaths estimated in 2016, but an estimated 88,000 people (approximately 62,000 men) die from alcohol-related causes annually.

Opioids are and should be a critical concern across the nation; although, we must never lose sight of the dangers of using other mind-altering substances, especially those that are legal to use under federal and state law. Permission to use isn't an endorsement for safety; mental illness pays no mind to the often arbitrary laws of humankind.

Alcohol Awareness Month

Education is the most significant tool for preventing alcohol use. Even though young people are pretty much guaranteed to flirt with alcohol at some point during adolescence, teaching them about the dangers of heavy and continuous use could lead many to make more responsible choices. Having all the facts can spare people from forming unhealthy relationships with substances and prevent countless people from developing a use disorder.

It is equally vital that steps are taken to encourage individuals who are already struggling with alcohol use disorder to seek assistance in the form of treatment. The stigma of addiction has gone on for far too long, at a terrible cost to millions of families. Let it be known, whenever possible, that alcohol and substance use disorder is not a moral failing, a deficiency in willpower, or a lack of a constitution. There is no fault to place on people, any more than you would blame a person with diabetes for having too much sugar in their blood. What’s more, addiction, like diabetes, has no known cure but can be managed provided that people are given the resources to do so in an effective manner.

April is Alcohol Awareness Month. The event is sponsored by the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, Inc. (NCADD). For more than 30 years, organizations and addiction experts have taken the opportunity to support public awareness about alcohol, reduce stigma, and encourage local communities to focus on alcoholism and alcohol-related issues. If people are better able to identify the signs of addiction and understand that treatment can spare them from unnecessary heartache and physical harm, they are far more likely to seek help. When society views individuals with compassion rather than stigma, they are more apt to reach out for assistance.

NCADD Message to Parents

Alcohol Awareness Month is also relevant to teenagers, as well. It is not that uncommon for alcohol-related problems to arise during adolescence or a little further down the road in young adulthood. It is crucial that parents do everything in their power to prevent their children from forming unhealthy relationships with alcohol; that includes doing away with the misguided notion of parental provisional alcohol use. There is no evidence that parents supplying teens with alcohol leads to responsible use, but there is evidence to the contrary.

The theme of Alcohol Awareness Month this year is “Changing Attitudes: It’s not a ‘rite of passage.’” Local, state and national events aim to educate parents about the vital role they can play in helping their children understand the impact that alcohol can have on their lives. If you would like more information on events this April, please click here.

Alcohol and drug use is a very risky business for young people,” says Andrew Pucher, President and CEO of NCADD, “and parents can make a difference. The longer children delay drinking and drug use, the less likely they are to develop any problems associated with it. That’s why it is so important to help your child make smart decisions about alcohol and drugs.

Alcohol Use Disorder Treatment

If alcohol is impacting your life in negative ways and you find it seemingly impossible to abstain for any length of time, there is a high likelihood that you meet the criteria for an alcohol use disorder. At PACE, we specialize in the treatment of young men caught in the vicious cycle of self-destructive and self-defeating behaviors that typify alcoholism. Please contact PACE Recovery Center to learn more about how we can help you begin the process of healing and learn how to lead a productive life in addiction recovery.

Shatter The Myths® About Drugs, Alcohol, and Addiction

addiction

The internet, social media, television, movies, and music have a lot to say about drugs, alcohol, and addiction. Unfortunately, sometimes the message isn't clear, and information doesn’t always deal in fact. The above trend may not seem like that big a deal until you consider the misconceptions that teenagers and young adults walk away with regarding substance use.

In the 21st Century, young people have access to more media outlets than ever before. Theoretically, it should lead to such people having a more informed grasp on any given subject. In just a few moments, one could learn all there is to know about drug and alcohol use on the internet. Television shows air programs that highlight the symptoms of mental illness and the risks of substance abuse. While it’s nice that there is now a lot of buzz about the above subjects, the information projected into the minds of youths is rarely science-based.

Again, talking about drugs, alcohol, substance use disorder, and mental illness is, without any doubt, of the utmost importance. Young people should understand what’s at stake when experimenting with any mind-altering substance, from cannabis right on down to heroin. Right? A problem of concern arises when you look at surveys focusing on this subject matter, revealing that young people have a multitude of potentially dangerous mistaken beliefs.

Surveys, such as Monitoring the Future, often highlight that both adolescents and young adults are misinformed about addiction. It’s entirely critical that younger Americans grasp the risk of prescription drug use, for instance. Experts must reiterate the dangers of binge drinking and regular cannabis use. When people are uninformed about alcohol and substance use, they make decisions putting their life in jeopardy.

Young Americans Misguided Beliefs

Each year, high schools and colleges devote significant amounts of time and resources in educating young people about substance use. Such efforts have paid off in many ways, ever-declining rates of tobacco use are just one example. However, while it’s clear most young people understand the dangers of smoking, many do not seem to have a grasp on the risks of addiction. E-cigarette use is prevalent among young people. Cigarette use down, e-cig use up is just an example of mixed messaging and a demographics failure to grasp the implications of their behavior.

Young people with stimulant medications for ADHD regularly divert their Adderall and Ritalin to their peers. A large number of people don’t see the harm, saying to themselves, ‘if it’s safe for me to use, surely it’s safe for my friend.’ Prescription stimulants are not to be toyed with, both highly addictive and known to cause dangerous side effects. We are in the midst of a prescription drug use epidemic in the U.S., and yet drug diversion is a clear indicator that thousands of young Americans downplay the seriousness of the situation. Another reason why experts must appeal to young people with facts.

A plethora of teenagers and young adults still don’t see the harm of grabbing oxycodone from the family medicine chest. What’s worse, parents will sometimes divert their opioid meds to an injured son or daughter. The takeaway is that young people are not the only ones with misguided beliefs about drug use.

We could offer up a long list of examples highlighting the misunderstandings young Americans share, but it’s more salient to discuss how to inform such people better, instead.

Shatter The Myths® About Drugs, Alcohol, and Addiction

This week, addiction and health experts around the country are observing National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week®. Now in its 8th year, NDAFW brings young people together to get the facts on drugs, alcohol, and addiction. Scientists from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), are using this week to Shatter The Myths®.

Here are a few facts that should be of interest to young people:

  • The brain keeps developing well into a person’s 20s, and alcohol can alter this development, potentially affecting both the brain’s structure and its function.
  • Smoking THC-rich resins, known as “dabbing,” pacts so much of the psychoactive ingredient that young people regularly need emergency services.
  • More than 90 Americans die after overdosing on opioids every day. Nearly 23,000 people died in the United States from prescription opioid pain reliever overdoses in 2015.

Such facts are just some of the information experts are talking about with young people this week. In all 50 states, young people have an opportunity to get clarity on several subjects at community and school events. At NDAFW events, scientists and experts from several fields encourage teens to ask questions about how drugs affect the brain, body, and behaviors. Last year, 2174 events took place in the U.S.

Even if you are unable to host an event or attend one, you can still spread the word about NDAFW. You can partner with the NIH by giving a Shout Out on Social Media (tweet, blog, or update your Facebook status).

Addiction Treatment

When young people don’t have the facts about drugs and alcohol, they are more likely to start down a treacherous path. Young adults struggling with addiction today, more times than not, began using in high school. Many of them had no idea that their behavior was problematic, and would lead them to heartache. If you are a young adult male battling alcohol and substance use disorder, please contact PACE Recovery Center. Let NDAFW be the week you decide to stem the tide of addiction, and embrace 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.

The Science of Addiction

addiction

One of the most read and loved monthly magazines is National Geographic. Most of us have fond memories growing up scanning the magazine for awe-inspiring images of animals and landscapes. With the first issue published in 1888, National Geographic now reaches more than 730 million globally in 172 countries and 43 languages every month. In the United States, there is a circulation of 3.5 million per month. Many readers subscribe for articles about pan troglodytes (common chimpanzee) or loxodonta africana (African bush elephant). But, Nat Geo focuses on human interests as well. In this month’s edition, the publication set its sights on addiction, and the conditions’ many complexities.

We often think of addiction as being an American problem. We know it affects people around the globe, but in the United States we are using the market share of drugs. Especially opioid use, as you must be acutely aware by now has reached epidemic proportions. Opioid use, prescription or illicit, is a serious concern that deserves overwhelming attention. Yet, it is worth pointing out that opioids, like alcohol or any other mind-altering drug, can cut life short. This doesn’t just happen in America, it is happening almost everywhere. Finding ways to mitigate the risks of premature death is no easy task, to be sure. Although, taking the focus off the substances, and placing it on the underlying condition is perhaps the most salient. The disease of addiction.

After all, addiction is addiction is addiction. What one struggles with pales in importance to what is to be done about it. History shows us that billions of dollars can be spent to make it more difficult to get “high.” Yet, people will still get high.

Addiction by The Numbers

In the U.S. we have tried “locking up” every addict, and most people still use again upon release. All we’ve accomplished is creating an overburdened prison system housing mostly nonviolent drug offenders. Exhausting billions in taxpayers’ money every year. To make a long story short, treating addiction as a crime hasn’t paid off—doing absolutely nothing good. Rather than delve into to Our track record of draconian policies on addiction in America, let's pivot our focus. As was pointed out earlier, Nat Geo published a lengthy spotlight on addiction and the scientific effort for clarity. But first, some figures:

  • 1.1 Billion Smokers Worldwide
  • Over 100 Opioid Overdose in America Every Day
  • 3.3 Million Worldwide Die Each Year from Alcohol
  • 21 million Americans Living With Drug or Alcohol Addiction

In 2015, 33,091 Americans died of an overdose, enough to make anyone wince, but again addiction is not just Our problem. Over 200,000 people worldwide die of overdose or drug-related Illness every year, The United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime reports. Such figures you might find hard to believe. You may find it even harder to believe that more people are living with the disease of addiction than cancer in America. Both are deadly, but only one of them carries social stigma. Veritably, we don’t need to point out which. If addiction in America is an epidemic, addiction worldwide is nothing short of a pandemic. And if solutions are to be found it requires the attention of some of the world's brightest scientists.

The Science of Addiction

In a sense, addiction is a pathological form of learning,” said Antonello Bonci to National Geographic, a neurologist at the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

Which begs the question, can it be unlearned? Many experts would argue, no, it can’t. And for good reason. Few people, if any, have ever thought their way out of an illness. However, science continues to shed light on the complexities of addiction. In turn, new avenues have been opened to help treat the disease and give a greater number of people hope for breaking the self-defeating cycle.

The Nat Geo article has many facets and layers of minutiae. We obviously can’t cover all of it, except for the main takeaways. One area covered had to do with advancements in transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS). The researchers working with TMS point out that medications can only go so far. They [medications] can help people quit using, but they do little to prevent relapse. The idea that putting down drugs and alcohol is easy, how to not pick them back up is the crux of addiction science. Dr. Luigi Gallimberti, a psychologist and toxicologist who has been treating addiction for 30 years has hope for TMS, according to the article. Which could essentially reboot the human computer (brain) by activating drug-damaged neural pathways. Gallimberti worked with Bonci, and preliminary research showed promise with cocaine addicts. Future research is planned.

It’s so promising,” Bonci says. “Patients tell me, ‘Cocaine used to be part of who I am. Now it’s a distant thing that no longer controls me.’ ”

Keeping Cravings At Bay

The article transverses several areas involving addiction, from sex to overeating. It talks about the merits of spiritual programs based on the 12 Step model, and beyond. But the overarching theme, or target for that matter, is “craving.” How to stop the brain from craving substances or behaviors that are self-defeating? If the brain's trait of remarkable plasticity can easily lead to addiction, could it be used to foster recovery?

As it stands now, the ways and means of recovery utilized today seem to be anyone's best shot at recovery. A combination of medical detox, residential addiction treatment, medications and continued spiritual maintenance has borne the most fruit. A modality that will surely be fine-tuned as science uncovers the mechanisms of addiction more fully. Particularly regarding craving and keeping dopamine in check. Interestingly, the article writes: “In Buddhist philosophy, craving is viewed as the root of all suffering.”

Perhaps one day soon every addict will have a magnetic wand waved over one’s head. Putting an end to the cravings that lead to relapse. Programs of recovery today, are in no way full proof. But they can lead to long term recovery for anyone who is willing to give the program their all. Those who are committed to being vigilantly honest with them self and others can succeed. It is not easy, testament to the rates of relapse in recovery. But, those who lay a solid foundation to build their recovery upon can, and do recover. At PACE Recovery Center, we specialize in the treatment of young adult males touched by addiction. Are you ready to break the cycle of addiction and learn how to mitigate cravings to avoid relapse? If so, please contact us today. Recovery is possible.

Addiction Treatment: The Endless Possibilities of Recovery

addiction

Few other places in the country have been as ravaged by the opioid addiction epidemic as West Virginia. Prescription opioids and heroin have stolen the lives of young and old alike. Lawmakers and health experts continue to develop methods for turning the tide. While addiction treatment centers work tirelessly to spread the message of recovery to as many afflicted as possible. Addiction recovery being the most effective means of saving people from the insidious grip of opioid dependence.

America has been trying to get a wrap on the epidemic for nearly two decades. As as result, many are doubtful that it is even possible. Opioids are so addictive and incredibly deadly, yet the drugs are prescribed at alarming rates, still. Those who lose access to prescription opioids regularly turn to heroin. Thus, putting themselves at risk of fentanyl exposure, a synthetic opioid commonly mixed with heroin to boost potency. Fentanyl can be up to a hundred times stronger than morphine.

Without access to addiction treatment, those addicted to opioids are at incredible risk of experiencing an overdose. And a potentially fatal overdose, at that. Those who seek help often relapse shortly thereafter, testament to just how addictive this family of drugs is. A relapse after a short stent of abstinence increases the chances of an overdose exponentially. Because one’s tolerance has diminished. This is why it so important that people who seek help do so by way of long-term residential treatment. Therefore, further mitigating the risk of relapse and subsequent overdose. The longer an addict or alcoholic stays in treatment, the greater the chance for long-term recovery.

There are around 142 fatal overdoses every day in the U.S. Given the high morbidity rate, some might think that recovery impossible. But, it is, just ask Sturgill.

INTERVENTION℠ Endless Possibilities, Continued

So, who is Sturgill? A&E INTERVENTION℠, interventionist Sylvia Parsons and PACE Recovery Center gave a young West Virginian a life-saving opportunity. Sturgill (then 23) was in the grips of addiction, a problem that began the same way as so many Americans. With an injury that called for prescription opioids. A broken arm sent Sturgill into an addictive death spiral, involving the abuse of alcohol, benzodiazepines, methadone, and heroin. A potentially deadly admixture, to be sure.

Sturgill was a promising young golden gloves boxer and wrestler who dreamed of the Olympics. He was also an academically gifted pre-med student. But a broken arm and multiple surgeries led to a pain pill addiction, which soon turned to heroin.” —reads the A&E INTERVENTION℠ website

With the help of Parsons, Sturgill’s family implored him to choose life and take the opportunity to get treatment. He accepted the gift of recovery and last year came to PACE Recovery Center. While there are never guarantees in recovery, Sturgill's story went from one of despair to the light of the spirit. During the season premiere of A&E INTERVENTION℠ (Season 17) an update on our former client was provided to viewers. Now, with over a year clean and sober, Sturgill remains plugged into the local recovery community. His future plans include getting certified to be an alcohol and drug counselor (CADC).

The update shows that, in fact, with recovery there can be endless possibilities if one is willing to do the work. Please take a moment to watch the short clip below:

If you are having trouble watching, please click here.

Addiction Treatment Is The Answer

I can't put it into words how blessed I am… I do something for recovery every day." —Sturgill

Not too long ago, Sturgill was in the same frightful position as millions of other Americans. Today, with the help of his family and his family in recovery he is living a life in recovery. It all started with a willingness to surrender and make the courageous decision to go to treatment. It is often the hardest decision that one will make in a lifetime. The grip of one’s disease is extremely powerful. It will do whatever it can to keep you from saving your own life. But, it is possible to break the cycle and lead a fulfilling life in recovery.

If your story is similar to Sturgill’s, PACE Recovery Center can help you find the miracles of addiction recovery—too. Please contact us today to begin the lifesaving journey.

This is Your Brain On Drugs – 20 Years Later

This is Your Brain On Drugs

Some of you are likely to remember a series of public service announcements (PSA) made by the Partnership for a Drug-Free America ® for a nationwide anti-drug campaign called This is Your Brain On Drugs. The large-scale campaign was launched in 1987, in a different era, at least with respect to how the nation viewed drug addiction and what to do about what we now know to be a form of mental health disorder. The first PSA titled “Frying Pan,” has actor John Roselius frying ups some eggs in order to show viewers what drugs do to your brain.

The second iteration of the campaign was released in 1997 and was titled again, "Frying Pan." The PSA starred actress Rachael Leigh Cook essentially using a frying pan and an egg to demonstrate to viewers the inherent dangers that accompany using heroin, and presumably other drugs as well, but heroin was singled out. The 30 second clip highlighted the fact that one’s drug use didn’t only affect the individual, but rather one’s family and one could even argue society.

If you were not born yet, too young to remember or would like to refresh your memory, please take a moment to watch the short PSA:

If you are having trouble viewing the clip, please click here.

You can probably gather that the PSA’s toed the line of the American “war on drugs.” While the PSA’s attempted to scare people away from drugs, pointing out that they would take everything from you, even your life; the makers of the ads seemed to forget to mention that before drugs took your life, they could be a cause for losing your freedom. Both the aforementioned PSAs ending with the rhetorical statement, “Any Questions?” As if frying an egg or smashing up an apartment would say everything that needed to be said about the reasons for abstaining from drugs.

Any Questions About Addiction

While Entertainment Weekly named “Frying Pan” 8th best commercial of all time, the American Egg Board, naturally, had some concerns about eggs getting an unfair reputation. At the end of the day; however, This is Your Brain On Drugs was a scare tactic, as were all public service announcements about drug use going back to Reefer Madness. They were all created under the premise that drug use was a choice; you could choose to, or not, but the power was in your hands. If you chose wrongly, you risked everything.

Even though addiction is a disease, a symptom of which include the use of drugs, drugs are still for the most part illegal under both state and Federal law. For decades, as we have written about in the past, the 40+ year war on drugs has done little to prevent and treat substance abuse. What it has done is disenfranchise millions of Americans, mostly people who were low on the socio-economic spectrum and minorities. Getting caught up in the legal system for the crime of addiction has proven to be relatively easy, getting out of it has proven to be much more difficult.

Today, in the 21st Century and still in the grips of an opioid addiction epidemic, many people's views about the war on drugs have changed. Thanks both to science and the fact that the epidemic has predominantly affected white America (both rich and poor), our society has been rethinking the true cost of the war on drugs. And, as a result, more Americans than ever are advocating for addiction treatment over prison for those caught possessing illegal drugs.

We are not out of the woods yet. There are still swaths of lawmakers who cling to draconian drug policies as the solution to addiction. Which is why the fight to end the stigma of this most serious mental illness must continue. Which has not been lost on the Drug Policy Alliance, the nation's leading organization promoting drug policies that are grounded in science, compassion, health and human rights. The organization, with the help of a 20-years older Rachael Leigh Cook, decided to make a postscript to the 1997 PSA. In the new version of the “Frying Pan,” Cook says:

The war on drugs is ruining peoples' lives. It fuels mass incarceration, it targets people of color in greater numbers than their white counter parts. It cripples communities, it costs billions, and it doesn't work. Any questions?

Please take a moment to watch:

If you are having trouble watching, please click here.

Addiction Treatment Is The Answer

Effective measures of treating addiction were helping a significant number of Americans in 1987 at the start of This is Your Brain On Drugs. It wasn’t talked about, because it did not line up with the stigma-driven narrative of addiction employed at the time. It was being treated and people were living lives in recovery, just as they are today. Fortunately, people touched by the disease today have more of an ability to seek help, without fear of prosecution.

Now the science behind addiction, and other forms of mental illness is far better understood. With each year that passes, the stigma of addiction seems to soften. Slowly, but surely, more Americans see the value of ending the war on drugs and advocating for treatment. If you or a loved one has been touched by the deadly disease of addiction, please contact PACE Recovery Center.