Construction Workers Among the Most Susceptible to Opioid Abuse

Opioid Abuse in Construction Workers

Because it is such a physically demanding profession, opioid abuse rates tend to be higher among construction workers.

The profession often has high rates of occupational injuries and back and musculoskeletal pain.

Research in this area has revealed increased mortality rates from opioid overdoses in this professional category and five others.

Further, 57% of opioid-related overdose deaths occurred after a work injury, and an additional 13% had suffered a work injury within three years of death.

This profession is fraught with hazards.

But the professionals at Pathfinders can help break the link between construction work and the dangers of opioid abuse.

Construction Workers Among the Most Susceptible to Opioid Abuse Pathfinders - A construction worker is in intense physical pain after experiencing an injury on the job, which has led to the prescription of opioids to reduce his pain. Often, this leads to opioid abuse for those in this physically-demanding industry.

Dangers of Opioid Abuse

For mild pains like headaches and moderate muscle aches, you may find that relying on over-the-counter pain relief is enough.

But when you have severe or persistent pain from a repetitive stress injury, a muscle strain, or a fall, it may not be enough.

Your doctor may suggest an opioid pain reliever instead.

You may end up buying opioids elsewhere if you cannot get a prescription to ease the pain.

While they are effective at treating severe and persistent pains, these narcotic pain relievers are addictive.

They have troubling side effects that become worse with long-term use.

And if it is the only thing you have found that eases your pain, opioid abuse becomes nearly inevitable.

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Common Prescription Opioids

Opioids work by blocking pain receptors in your brain and spinal cord.

Essentially, they trick your brain into thinking that you are not in pain anymore.

Opioids have been used for decades by medical professionals to treat moderate to severe pains.

But, because they are also known to be addictive and strong, they are prescribed more sparingly now than they have ever been before.

Doctors often require that a patient exhaust less dangerous alternative pain relief methods first. They may want to see that a patient does not respond to other pain relievers before writing a prescription.

However, this is not always enough to avoid opioid abuse.

Some of the most common prescription opioids include:

  • Vicodin (Hydrocodone)
  • OxyContin / Percocet (Oxycodone)
  • Morphine (Kadian / Avinza)
  • Codeine
  • Fentanyl

Heroin is another common and dangerous opioid. However, heroin does not come in a prescription. Heroin is an illicit drug that lacks any approved medical uses.

And while morphine does come as a prescription and in monitored medical settings, it is more often obtained through illicit means.

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Prescription Opioid Abuse vs. Illicit Opioid Abuse

Whether prescription or illicit, opioids relieve pain and promote feelings of euphoria.

These are two of the qualities that make them so addictive.

Opioid abuse can quickly lead to a variety of complications.

Opioid addictions and related accidents are common, and heroin-related overdose deaths have been rising since 2007.

One of the biggest problems with prescription opioid abuse is that it often leads to heroin abuse.

Heroin produces similar but stronger and faster effects. It is the natural next step for many people when they find that they have built a tolerance to prescription opioids and need something more.

This method of pain relief and illicit drug abuse comes with its own unique set of problems.

Put an end to your opioid abuse before it becomes something more.

And if it already has, we can help with that too.

Different Ways that Opioid Addiction Starts

Prescription use often evolves into opioid abuse quickly.

As your body builds a tolerance, you will find that the opioid’s effects begin to fade faster. This leads many people to increase their dosages, frequencies, combine opioids with other substances, or otherwise abuse their prescriptions.

Most prescription opioids, when taken correctly, are swallowed.

When opioids are abused, they are often dissolved, injected, or snorted. These methods force a faster or more potent result that often shortens the time between abuse and dependence.

Opioids should only be taken according to a prescription and under the supervision of a medical professional.

Most opioid prescriptions are short-term. But, this rule is difficult to enforce and is rarely adhered to.

Trading drugs or purchasing another person’s prescription opioids is another way an opioid addiction may start.

Most individuals in opioid addiction treatment began with a prescription.

Whatever the reason for your evolution to opioid abuse, our opioid addiction treatment programs can help.

Early Withdrawal Symptoms After Opioid Abuse

Opioid withdrawal symptoms are one of the most common reasons that individuals experience a  relapse.

Your withdrawal symptoms may vary depending on many individual factors. For instance, the opioid you use, method, frequency, length of time, and body weight can all alter your symptoms.

The way you metabolize and withdraw from drugs may not be the same way that someone else does.

Most opioid withdrawal symptoms are uncomfortable or mildly painful.

However, more serious complications are possible.

Early opioid withdrawal symptoms may include:

  • Agitation or anxiety
  • Muscle aches
  • Insomnia
  • Increased sweating and yawning
  • Runny nose

What Happens Next

As you progress through your withdrawals, you may later experience:

  • Abdominal cramps
  • Dilated pupils
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting

If you have attempted to quit using opioids on your own but have relapsed due to withdrawal symptoms, drug cravings, or another obstacle, our medically-assisted drug detox can help.

This highly-specialized and monitored detox method is designed to help with even the worst withdrawal symptoms.

Our detoxes occur in a safe, comfortable, and monitored space.

They ease your withdrawal symptoms and cravings so that you can move forward.

They help enforce early sobriety, eliminate distractions, and restore your strength and motivation.

It is time to let this vital stage of your recovery journey place you firmly on the right path.

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Opioid Addiction Treatment Options

When it comes to effective opioid addiction treatment, there is no singular solution that works for everyone.

Depending on your unique addiction, needs, mental health, and other individual factors, we will work with you to build the treatment program that will be the most beneficial to you.

We will help you choose between residential rehab, intensive outpatient rehab, or a supplemental care program that lands somewhere in the middle.

A partial hospitalization program would be one example of this. This type of program is ideal for individuals battling a dual diagnosis with unpredictable symptoms.

Most patients in recovery for opioid addictions will begin with a residential program before transitioning into a more flexible care plan.

Residential rehab programs last from 30 days to over a year, depending on your needs, progress, and preferences.

These care programs offer high-level, specialized, and customized 24-hour care. You will have all of the care, support, and guidance you will need through each stage of your recovery.

Our various therapies, relapse prevention training, support groups, and holistic remedies will help you address, evaluate, and overcome your addiction and the complications stemming from it.

Construction Workers Among the Most Susceptible to Opioid Abuse Pathfinders - A construction worker who entered a residential drug rehab for opioid abuse is sharing his story on opioid abuse and addiction as part of a group therapy session during his recovery process.

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Pathfinders Recovery Center

Choosing Pathfinders means choosing a better way.

It means customized care plans, incredible support systems, and life-long learning opportunities.

It means commitment and dedication to a healthy, sustainable, and sober life.

You have it within you to turn the tables on your addiction.

You just need a little bit of help to get you there.

Let us guide you the same way we have guided so many others before you.

Call us today at 855-728-4363 for more information.

Melissa Etheridge’s Son Dies from Opioids

Melissa Etheridge’s Tragic Loss

In May 2020, Melissa Etheridge and her former spouse, Julie Cypher, lost their son to opioid addiction.

Melissa Etheridge announced their loss on Twitter: “Today I joined hundreds of thousands of families who have lost loved ones to opioid addiction.

My son Beckett, who was just 21, struggled to overcome his addiction and finally succumbed to it today.

He will be missed by those who loved him, his family, and friends.”

Unfortunately, Beckett Cypher was lost to an epidemic that has plagued our country for years. From 2010 to 2017, opioid-related overdose deaths rose from 21,088 to 47,600. In 2018 alone, there were 46,802.

Melissa Etheridge's Son Dies from Opioids Pathfinders - A young man is sitting with a rehab counselor discussing his opioid addiction that has, unfortunately, become an epidemic within the U.S. over recent years.

Opioid Addiction and Dependence

Each year, thousands of lives are lost to opioid addictions including those to prescription opioids, heroin, and synthetics.

Fentanyl is a common example of a dangerous synthetic opioid.

Natural opioids grow inside opium poppy plants.

The flowers are harvested to make prescription opioid pills.

Synthetics are created in a lab to mimic their effects.

They can be made with entirely artificial ingredients or a combination of natural and synthetic.

Through prescriptions, opioids are meant to relieve moderate to severe pain unresponsive to other pain relief methods.

For chronic or severe pains, over-the-counter medications may fall short.

Both prescription and illicit opioids relieve pain and promote relaxation.

For individuals with persistent pains and anxieties, these effects are appealing.

It’s important to remember that opioids are highly addictive and linked to many overdoses.

Our Pathfinders opioid addiction treatment programs can help you turn the tables on your addiction.

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Prescription Opioid Addiction

Prescription painkiller misuse is the second most common form of illicit drug use.

Unfortunately, it is difficult to avoid, and it rarely stops when the prescription does.

Most people who abuse prescription opioids will graduate to a stronger substance.

Most heroin users begin with prescription opioids that they took for a genuine medical need.

With strong and potent substances like opioids, physical tolerance can build quickly.

Once physical tolerance builds, the opioid becomes less effective.

If you have chronic pain or injuries, this tolerance can be difficult to overcome.

The pain relief and relaxation that comes with prescription opioid use initially become much more difficult to achieve again.

This is where opioid addiction begins.

We can help you end this abusive cycle before you take the next step.

Heroin addiction can be harder to overcome. But, the good news is that we can help you with this addiction too to get you to a happier, healthier life.

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Illicit Opioid Addiction

Researches have spent years studying the links between heroin and opioid abuse.

One study revealed that 86% of those surveyed had used opioid painkillers prior to using heroin. The effects that heroin creates are similar, but they are stronger, faster, and more potent. Sometimes, heroin is cheaper and easier to obtain than a prescription.

This transition is a troubling and dangerous one.

This drug alters your brain chemistry in important ways. It makes it difficult for you to quit even when you are ready and willing to.

But, we know what it takes to end opioid and heroin addictions.

We have spent many years developing the best treatment methods available.

Our methods are research-based, proven, customizable, and comprehensive.

Reasons for Prescription Opioid Use

Opioids block your body’s pain receptors. This signals to your brain that you are no longer in pain.

That is why prescription opioids are given to patients with severe and persistent pains unresponsive to normal medications.

Typically, a doctor will want to exhaust alternatives before prescribing opioids.

However, this is not always the case.

A dehydration headache or a bumped shin may be treated with a heating pad or a dose of aspirin.

However, when you need to have a tooth pulled, break one of your bones, or give birth to a child, your doctor may prescribe an opioid for the pain.

Even when they are prescribed, they are addictive and habit-forming.

With this information in mind, doctors tend to stick to short-term prescriptions. Unfortunately, this is difficult to monitor.

Common Opioids

Some of the most common opioids include:

  • Vicodin (Hydrocodone)
  • Percocet / OxyContin (Oxycodone)
  • Morphine
  • Codeine

Morphine is available through prescription and is often used in monitored medical settings like hospitals.

However, the illicit use of morphine is more common.

Heroin is another popular opioid, but it is one that has no approved medical uses. No amount of heroin use is safe.

Prescription opioid use should be limited to as little as a few weeks at a time.

Sometimes, though, chronic pains can lead to extended prescriptions, illicit purchases, drug swaps, and transitions to stronger drugs.

Overcoming opioid addiction requires dedicated treatment.

Over time, it becomes easier to manage.

Opioid Withdrawal Symptoms

Most patients who are addicted to something as strong as prescription opioids will start their treatment program with medical detox.

Opioid withdrawal symptoms scare many people off before they even begin.

However, withdrawal symptoms and overwhelming drug cravings can be eased in our opioid addiction treatment centers.

Quitting at home may lead to relapse, but here, we will eliminate temptations, distractions, and discomforts.

We will set you up for success.

There is a wide range of withdrawal symptoms associated with opioids.

Your symptoms may vary depending on specific individual factors, like the type of opioids you use, the amount, and how often.

Some of the most common withdrawal symptoms associated with opioids include:

  • Agitation and anxiety
  • Muscle aches
  • Insomnia
  • Increased sweating and runny nose
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Nausea and vomiting

Starting with a detox will help you through some of the worst parts of the recovery process.

Enforcing early sobriety and restoring your strength and confidence will give you what you need moving forward.

Trust our dedicated medical team to place you firmly on the path to recovery.

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Opioid Addiction Treatment Settings

At Pathfinders, we offer treatment settings to meet a variety of unique addictions and needs.

We will work with you to choose the program that will benefit you the most.

Our primary treatment settings include:

Residential rehab offers the highest levels of care, support, and guidance, with 24-hour access to our dedicated team.

Our other programs offer unique benefits, high-level care, and convenient flexibility.

Each program offers proven care methods, various therapies, support groups, and so much more.

Melissa Etheridge's Son Dies from Opioids Pathfinders - A group session in a drug rehab is taking place where those suffering from opioid addiction can share their stories, give advice, share coping strategies, and create a support system for the recovery process.

Call our addiction counselor for more information. They are available 24/7, and they will work you through your options and next steps. They will also verify your insurance for you or outline alternative options.

 

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Pathfinders’ Opioid Addiction Treatment Centers

Choosing the right opioid addiction treatment center does not have to be complicated.

Help is waiting for you right here at Pathfinders.

We customize each treatment program to suit the needs of the person entering it.

We will treat you like an individual, not a number.

Trust us to walk this path with you and help you build a new life based on health and sobriety.

Leave your addiction in the past.

Call Pathfinders today, and we will walk you into your future.

Withdrawal Help: How to Fight Through Opioid Withdrawal Symptoms and Come Out on Top

Many of us know someone who has struggled with opioid addiction. If not yourself, perhaps it was a family member or close friend. Opioids affect a lot of families throughout the United States, so know that you’re not alone in dealing with them.

In fact, statistics from the National Institute on Drug Abuse indicate the numbers of affected patients is significant. Studies show that 21 to 29 percent of patients who were medically prescribed opioids for chronic pain end up misusing them. On top of that, over 72,000 cases of death due to drug overdose have been recorded in a single year.

It’s clear that opioids affect many people throughout the country. If you or someone you know is undergoing a transition to sobriety from opioids, he or she will likely experience opioid withdrawal. Even though the transition can be challenging, consider these tips providing withdrawal help for you and your family.

Know What To Expect By Doing Your Research

Every opioid abuser has a different physical composition. That means that each patient has a different relationship with the substance, including how their body will react to opioid withdrawals.

Still, there are certain things you can expect that most patients experience during opioid withdrawals. If you’re a serious opioid abuser, you might already be familiar with the first symptoms of opioid withdrawals.

Within 6 to 12 hours, minor symptoms start to appear. These include muscle aches, excessive yawning, trouble sleeping, headaches, or even a fever. It’s around this time that most common opioid abusers give in and go back to their substance.

If the patient holds out, though, the worst part of withdrawals typically happens around 72 hours after last using the substance. These patients experience serious nausea, stomach cramps, depression, and serious cravings for the drugs.

After these intense symptoms, patients will still exhibit irritability and trouble adapting to life without drugs for up to weeks after last using. It’s up to them and the community around them to maintain sobriety through every avenue possible.

Maintain a Positive Attitude, Even When It’s Tough

The first step to remember is to remember your perspective throughout the entire process of transitioning to sobriety. Though withdrawal symptoms may be physical, the battle you’ll be finding is a mental one. You will be challenged to work through your pain instead of reaching for the drug again.

Don’t be too hopeful about maintaining such a positive outlook, though. It’s going to be pretty tough at times to remember that sobriety is worth the effort.

Many people go back to misusing their drug of choice simply because they choose to ignore their pain rather than fight through it. Break the cycle be sticking through even the toughest parts of the process.

There are benefits to staying grateful for being able to challenge yourself with sobriety. Consider this guidance to remain grateful even during your darkest times of overcoming opioid addiction.

Stay Connected To Surrounding Friends and Family Members

Not only will transitioning to sobriety challenge you in physical and mental ways. You’ll also be tested in an emotional capacity.

Many people don’t realize that drug abuse affects their emotional stability. The effects of consistent drug abuse can numb the natural coping mechanisms we’re supposed to use. When patients quit taking those numbing opioids, they tend to struggle with coping with emotions again.

Some patients overcoming addiction are fortunate enough to already be surrounded by family members and friends. Not everyone is so lucky, though. That’s why it might be necessary for some people to enter into a treatment facility to be surrounded by caring hands.

A stable community of support is crucial for adjusting a patient’s emotions back to normal. Consider this guidance for dealing with emotions during early sobriety.

Cultivating genuine relationships during withdrawals can be the difference between success and failure. Make sure you don’t try to handle the transition to sobriety all on your own.

Don’t Be Afraid To Ask for Help

As mentioned above, you’ll need other people around you to be successful in your sobriety. At the very least, you need to be able to talk to someone about your struggles throughout the process.

Misusing opioid substances ends turning our brain chemistry to have a dependency on those substances. It’s no wonder that many who attempt to quit the drug abuse turn back to it. The brain literally becomes hardwired to need the substance for peace.

Take care, though, to allow your brain to readjust after dependency on opioids. You’ll find that your cognition and emotional stability seem much healthier when you’re sober.

For a while after transitioning to sobriety, many patients tend to deal with symptoms of anxiety or depression. It’s unfortunate that the mood is so affected, but it’s important to prepare for.

Sometimes it can seem as though the transition to sobriety is too much for someone to handle. As difficult as it can be to deal with these strong withdrawal symptoms, don’t be afraid to ask for help during your dark times. There are plenty of resources available to assist you, such as the National Helpline for substance abuse.

Exercise At Least a Little Bit Every Day

It’s no secret that your body is going to go through some serious changes during this transition. You know from your research that you’ll experience trouble with energy levels and sleeping habits. The good news is that there are efforts you can take to help regulate your body’s needs.

That regulation starts with a thorough exercise routine. Don’t worry – you don’t need to become a bodybuilder just to transition away from drug abuse. It is a good idea though, even if just to maintain some level of routine.

It’s common that opioid abusers don’t make a habit of exercising while abusing substances. Since transitioning to sobriety is such a dramatic lifestyle shift, exercising can help normalize a sober life. For many, exercise is even a chance to substitute unhealthy habits for healthy ones.

Don’t push yourself, though. Only work out to the extent of whatever is recommended by your doctor. Don’t expect to be very active right off the bat.

Even if you only take a brisk walk every day, you’ll be off to a good start in your new sober lifestyle. You deserve to make the most of your new, healthy life of sobriety.

Get Plenty of Rest

Along the lines of physical health, don’t forget about your sleep cycle. It’s an unfortunate truth that going through opioid withdrawals could negatively affect your sleep. Don’t worry, though – there are steps you can take.

It might be difficult to get to sleep, especially at first during withdrawals. Do your best to stick to a regular sleep schedule anyway. Even if you’re only laying down without sleep for eight hours, your body will technically still get the rest it needs.

Over time, your brain will get used to calming down around the same time. The goal is to normalize a healthier sleep cycle than the one you had to rely on opioids for.

You’ll eventually notice that your sleep cycle becomes more regular. This is a sign that most of your withdrawal symptoms are wearing down. Work through those difficult withdrawal times knowing that a regular sleep cycle will surely be worth the investment.

Monitor Your Diet and Nutrition

Along with plenty of exercise and rest, don’t forget to watch your diet during addiction recovery. Your body is going to need all the natural help it can get to readjust without opioids.

The first thing to think about is making sure you drink plenty of water. Dehydration can be a huge problem for many patients overcoming opioid dependency. Make sure you drink at least 8 glasses of water every day while you’re going through withdrawals.

When it comes to what you eat, do your best to stick to healthy greens and grains. That means you need to eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. It also means you need to minimize the number of carbohydrates and fats you consume.

Examples of healthy foods to eat include leafy greens like spinach or salads. You should also look at nuts and non-meat proteins.

Your body is doing a lot of internal work when it is readjusting to a life without opioids. Give it the vitamins and minerals it needs to stay strong during this time.

Check Out Recovery Facilities

It’s clear that recovering addicts need to be surrounded by a supportive and helpful community. The withdrawal process can be long and arduous.

For those patients who aren’t fortunate enough to have family members and friends ready and available, recovery facilities are normally available. Do plenty of research to find the best treatment center in your area.

Stay Informed About Withdrawal Help

As you recovery from opioid abuse, you deserve to be around as much withdrawal help as is available. We know how important it is to take the matter of your recovery seriously.

We encourage you to stay as informed as possible about the recovery process. Check out the rest of our blog today to learn about withdrawals and other parts related to the recovery process.

 

Everything You Need to Know About Overdose Prevention Toolkits

More than 72,000 Americans died of a drug overdose in 2017. More than half of those deaths were due to opioids.

Every day we read another article about someone dying from opioid abuse. Mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, and beloved celebrities like Prince, and most recently Demi Lovato, are falling victim to these drugs.

Which is why the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration (SAMHSA) has recently released updates to its Overdose Prevention Toolkits. These toolkits are helpful for overdose prevention.

They can save someone’s life. But first, you need to understand what these toolkits are for and how to use them properly.

Keep reading to learn about overdose awareness and how to use the opioid overdose kit.

Facts About Overdose Prevention

Part of the problem when dealing with opioids is that those who do not use or abuse these drugs aren’t aware of what the signs of an overdose are. Recognizing the signs in a timely manner can help save someone’s life. Let’s go over the signs now.

Signs of an Overdose

One way to promote overdose prevention is by sharing the common signs of an overdose. Since people rarely die immediately from an overdose, there’s usually time to help save a life by knowing how to respond.

When in doubt, call 911.

If someone has lost consciousness or is unresponsive to outside stimuli, it’s a good chance they’re overdosing. Check to see if their breathing is slow, shallow, erratic or has stopped altogether. A limp body is also a sign they’re overdosing.

A slow, erratic or not there pulse is also a sign someone is in distress and needs immediate help.

Listen for the “Death Rattle”

In some cases, the person may be awake, but if they are unable to speak, it’s a sign they could be overdosing. Listen for choking or a gurgling noise that sounds similar to someone snoring, this is known as the “death rattle”.

Those with lighter skin, their skin tone may turn a bluish purple. For those with darker skin, their skin tone may appear ashen or grayish. In either case, their face will be pale and/or clammy. Check their nails and lips to see if they’re turning purplish black or blue.

Another sign of an overdose is vomiting.

Signs Someone is High on Opioids

Seeing someone high on opioids or heroin-based drugs can seem very scary to those who don’t abuse drugs. But if you’re worried someone is getting too high, it’s important not to leave them alone.

If this happens to you, monitor their breathing and keep them awake by walking them around.

To help you recognize the signs of opioid abuse, check their pupils. Their pupils will be contracted and look smaller than normal.

Their muscles may be droopy and it’s difficult for them to walk or function properly. They may start passing out. Their speech may be affected and slurring is possible.

Check to see if they appear to be scratching at itchy skin or if they start passing out but then respond to you shaking them or reacting to a loud noise.

If you feel you are out of your depths with helping someone you believe is overdosing, call 911 and ask for help.

Those Who are Most at Risk

Addictions don’t happen overnight. And those who are addicted often hide it well from others. Part of overdose awareness is understanding who is most at risk. Let’s take a look.

Long-Term Pain Management Users

Many people rely on opioids to manage their long-term pain. When used correctly, opioids are very helpful. Unfortunately, when used in the long-term, it can easily lead to overuse.

As the body builds up a tolerance, some people may begin to take more to get the same type of relief they were previously.

Others who are receiving opioid medication regimens are at a higher risk for incomplete cross-tolerance.

Abuse Drugs or Have a History of Drug Abuse

Those who have a history of substance abuse are also at high risk for overdosing or abusing opioids. And those who are currently abusing illicit drugs also have a higher risk of overdosing.

What the Opioid Overdose Kit Does

The opioid overdose kit was created to help 911 First Responders, medical personnel, and the public deal with the opioid crisis. The more all of us understand how dangerous opioids are and that we can all help, the more lives we can save.

If you believe you are witnessing someone have an overdose or if you believe you are overdosing, do not wait. Call 911 immediately. First responders are trained in overdose prevention.

However, First Responders are the last tool in preventing an overdose. Physicians and the support of friends and family can help prevent abuse in the first place. Keep reading to learn how.

How Prescribers Can Prevent Opioid Abuse

It’s incredibly important for physicians who prescribe opioids to their patients to carefully monitor the patient for the entire duration of them taking the drugs. Physicians should first ask the patient if there is a history of drug abuse.

State Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs

To help combat opioid abuse, many states have developed a prescription drug monitoring program. This way, a physician can check to see if a patient is being prescribed other medications from another doctor.

Choosing the Appropriate Medication

Part of overdose awareness is having the physician make choices on what type of medication is most appropriate based on a few factors.

First, the severity of the problem should be taken into account. Doctors should err on the side of caution rather than prescribing strong drugs for minor issues.

The doctor also needs to take into account how well the patient is able to take their medications properly. Those on opioids long-term should be closely monitored with follow up appointments.

The doctor needs to take into consideration the likelihood of the prescribed drug becoming a risk factor for the patient. Some drugs aren’t as habit-forming as others.

Educate the Patient

Every physician should carefully explain the effects all prescribed medications will have on them. Patients need to understand the likelihood of abusing the drugs and how to ask for help if they find they are becoming more dependent on them.

All patients should fully understand the risks and benefits of any medication they are prescribed.

And those patients who are taking a high-risk medication or are at a higher risk for abuse, a physician should consider prescribing Naxolone in the event of an overdose.

When to End the Prescription

In some cases, it’s necessary to end the prescription because the patient is showing signs of abuse. Here’s how to recognize those signs.

If the patient is caught altering or selling their prescriptions or has engaged in doctor shopping, it’s time to stop the behavior. And if a patient is consistently running out of their medication too early or they are threatening a physician, it’s time to get them the help they need.

How Yourself and Others Can Help

When someone is abusing drugs, it’s important for everyone to get involved to aid in overdose prevention. The opioid overdose kit helps friends and family spot the warning signs and provides them with information on appropriate actions to take.

All drugs should always be kept in a safe place away from children and animals. If possible, keep your prescription narcotics in a locked space so that other family members aren’t tempted.

If you are on opioids that are prescribed by your doctor, only take the medicine as it’s been prescribed by your doctor.

Mixing your prescription drugs with alcohol or other drugs is dangerous. It’s very easy to overdose when too many substances are in your body. Do not mix your drugs.

When someone in the family is taking an opioid, or other strong prescription drugs, it’s very important that everyone knows what the signs of an overdose are. Everyone in the household should also know what steps to take in case of an overdose.

Always properly dispose of any unused medications. It’s not safe to leave them lying around.

What is Naxolone

Naxolone, otherwise known as Narcan is an extremely important part of the opioid overdose kit. This drug is the antidote to an opioid overdose as it reverses the effects of the opioid.

However, Naxolone does not act as an overdose prevention when a person has taken benzodiazepines like Valium, Klonopin or Xanax. Naxolone also won’t work against barbiturates like Florinal or Seconal.

And Naxolone won’t work if the person has taken stimulants like amphetamines or cocaine. However, if the person mixed other drugs along with an opioid, it is possible that Naxolone will work.

Side Effects and Dangers of Naxolone

There are many possible side effects of Naxolone. It’s also possible to experience side effects of opioid withdrawal after being administered Naxolone.

Immediately call 911 or your physician if you’ve been administered Naxolone and experience things like chest pain or fast heartbeats. Naxolone may also cause vomiting, sweating, and a severe headache.

You may experience convulsions or slow breathing. It’s also possible to experience an allergic reaction to Naxolone.

Get Help Today

The most tragic part of overdose prevention is that most overdose deaths can be prevented. Overdose awareness needs to continue so that everyone knows the warning signs.

The stigma of seeking out help needs to be removed. Everyone deserves to be supported and feel safe.

If you or a loved one needs help, don’t wait until it’s too late. Contact us today and we’ll help you find out how much of your rehabilitation process is covered by your insurance.

Understanding the Opioid Epidemic in Arizona

The United States as a whole is facing a health crisis of epic proportions. More and more Americans are becoming addicted to – and dying from – opioids. Not one American state goes unscathed. Arizona, in particular, has slowly taken a big hit over the last decade. The opioid epidemic in Arizona now claims the lives of two people each day. The state has begun to collect data regarding opioid abuse. And recently, Blue Cross Blue Shield invested $10 million to reduce opiate misuse. But despite the efforts, many Arizonans are still misinformed about the state-wide epidemic. To help, we’ll explore everything about Arizona’s opioid crisis in this article.

Let’s begin!

When Did the Opioid Epidemic Begin?

The opiate epidemic is a recent phenomenon that has slowly been in the works since the 1990’s. But the presence of opiates in the United States dates as far back as the country’s foundation.

Early History of Opiates in the United States

It’s believed that opium first came over along with the pilgrims aboard the Mayflower. Back then, people used the opium poppy for the same reasons that doctors prescribe them today. Opiates have long treated pain, diarrhea, coughing, and also works as a sedative.

addiction treatment, heroin addiction treatment, dual diagnosis treatment center in arizona, cooccurring disorders treatment, meth detox scottsdale arizona, meth rehab arizonaBy the 19th century, Americans used opium to treat a wide range of medical issues. Doctors prescribed morphine to dying patients suffering from cancer.

Medics also used morphine as an anesthetic. It’s probable that medics administered morphine during the Mexican-American War. It’s also likely that physicians who settled in Arizona brought over opiates. Patented medications for teething and menstrual cramps began to contain opium. After the Civil War, the pharmaceutical company, Bayer, introduced heroin on the national market. Following this, heroin became widely used as a medicine into the early 20th century.

20th Century Stigmatization

In the early 1900’s, the federal government outlawed opiates in all its forms. Doctors could only prescribe them in medically necessary situations.

But even so, physicians during this time were vastly limited when it came to prescribing them. They were also limited when it came to treating opiate addiction. Despite all this, drug abuse continued to increase across the United States. During Prohibition, opiate users were further stigmatized. The concept of “junkie” came into being during this time.

The Rise of Prescription Painkillers

recovery center in scottsdale, recovery center in arizona, recovery center in phoenix, addiction treatment center, dual diagnosis recovery center, dual diagnosis treatment, heroin addiction help, get sober todayAmerican physicians continued to fight for the right to prescribe opiates. Soon after, the federal government began to recognize the medical value of opiates. By the 1960’s, Hydrocodone, Oxycodone, and other synthetic opiates came into being. Recreational opiate and heroin use skyrocketed during this time. Fears of prescribing opiates arose once again.

But despite all this, the prescription painkiller market surged – and continues to. Even though opiate addiction is now at an all-time high, it’s a problem that our nation has faced for over a century.

Why & How Did the Opioid Epidemic Happen?

Medicine and science have never been as advanced as it is today. We understand how to treat many diseases and conditions a lot better than we used to. However, our understanding of how to treat pain is still extremely weak. And to a large extent, the opioid crisis that our nation and the state of Arizona faces results from this.

Doctors Don’t Understand Pain Treatment & Management

It’s estimated that 100 million Americans live with chronic pain.

With such a big number as this, physicians would seem to have a better understanding of treatment. But that is, unfortunately, not the case.

Doctors only receive about 9 hours of education about pain over the course of medical school. To make matters worse, the federal government doesn’t adequately fund pain research. In fact, the National Institutes of Health only spend 1% of its budget ($358 million) per year on pain research.

Many doctors don’t understand how addictive opiates can be. They don’t understand how to wean their patients off them. Many patients wind up misusing their prescriptions, becoming addicted as a result.

Do Physicians Over-Prescribe Opiates?

It was once believed that American physicians under-prescribed opiates for pain treatment. Because of widespread stigmas against opiates, many doctors continue to fear to prescribe them. But that’s not to say that physicians aren’t over-prescribing them, either.

Many Americans in need of relief don’t have enough access to painkillers. Only about 5% of chronic pain patients have prescriptions for painkillers. But to a larger extent, Americans may have too much access to prescription opiates.

It’s known that some pharmaceutical companies have vigorous lobbying and marketing campaigns. Physicians are often the target of these marketing ploys.

In 2016, doctors prescribed 431 million painkillers. This was enough for every Arizonan to have a 2.5 week supply.

And again, many doctors don’t understand how to adequately treat patients with opiates. As of 2016, more than 70% of overdose fatalities occurred among patients who became addicted while treating their chronic pain. In Arizona, 4 out of 5 new heroin users start because of prescription painkiller misuse.

Health Insurance Doesn’t Cover Alternative Medicine

The opioid overdose epidemic has caused many pain patients to turn to other forms of therapy.

We’ve all heard of physical therapy and alternative therapy, like acupuncture and chiropractic. These forms of therapy yield great results in the treatment and management of pain. But many people suffering in pain are unable to afford them.

Certain health insurance policies may cover acupuncture, biofeedback, massage therapy, and chiropractic care. But as of 2007, Americans spent $33.9 billion out-of-pocket for alternative medicine.

This figure is likely much higher today. With high health insurance premiums, many Americans are unable to afford alternative medicine. In Arizona, 17% of residents are still uninsured as rates continue to increase for the insured.

Heroin as a Cheap and Dangerous Substitute

Millions of Americans not only suffer from chronic pain. Many of them are unable to obtain and afford adequate treatment. And many who take prescription painkillers find themselves prone to addiction.

As a result of these factors, many people have turned to heroin for relief.

Heroin and prescription painkillers are all derived from opium. Heroin is specifically derived from morphine while painkillers come from codeine. Despite the slight variations, heroin has the same – if not, a more powerful – effect as painkillers.

Heroin is not only a substitute for painkillers. It’s cheaper and easier to obtain.

In fact, a bag of heroin costs less than a pack of cigarettes. This means that in Arizona, a bag of heroin can cost anywhere from $5-$8.

Most heroin in the United States comes from Mexico. With Arizona right on the Mexican border, heroin is readily available on the streets.

Opioid and prescription overdoses in Arizona have increased in the last few years. But since 2016, heroin overdoses have tripled in Arizona.

Where Are Overdoses Occurring in Arizona?

Opiate overdoses have occurred in both urban and rural Arizona. But some areas are more ravaged by overdoses than others.

A concentration of overdoses has occurred all over the Phoenix metropolitan area. The northeast parts of the Tucson metropolitan area has also experienced many.

The cities of Buckeye, Flagstaff, and Kingman – and all surrounding areas – have also had high overdoses.

Fighting the Opioid Epidemic in Arizona

The opioid crisis has been in the making to become an epidemic since the 19th century. American physicians continue to prescribe painkillers without a firm understanding of them. Nor does the medical community understand how to provide adequate pain treatment.

With rising healthcare costs, many people addicted to painkillers are turning to heroin.

Many Arizonans wonder what is being done to address the opioid epidemic in Arizona. Here’s how the state is fighting the epidemic as of now.

Naloxone

In 2017, Arizona Governor Doug Ducey declared opioid overdoses a public health emergency. Since then, the state has integrated Naloxone as part of its efforts to combat the opioid crisis.

Slow breathing occurs with opiate use. But when someone overdoses, their breathing can stop altogether. It can also be near impossible to wake someone up while they’re overdosing.

Naloxone, otherwise known by its brand name, Narcan, is a narcotic blocker. When administered, it reverses the effects of opioids. It comes in the form of injections and nasal sprays.

The state of Arizona has trained emergency personnel on how to administer Narcan. Recently, Narcan became available at CVS stores across Arizona.

Narcan is by no means a cure for the opiate epidemic. However, it is an antidote that is saving more lives every day across the United States.

Arizona Opioid Emergency Action Plan

Since the declaration of Arizona’s opioid crisis, opioid overdose cases have decreased.

Statewide overdoses began to decrease after the implementation of new prescription guidelines. This decreasing trend also coincided with the state’s surveillance reporting system.

The Opioid Action Plan came into enactment in September 2017. The action plan aims to increase patient and public awareness as prevention methods. The plan also improves prescription practices and access to treatment facilities.

The Arizona Opioid Epidemic Act took effect in April 2018. This law enforces limitations on prescription opioids.

Under this law, physicians can no longer dispense prescriptions themselves. Physicians who prescribe opiates must take routine education courses on opioids. Pharmacies are also required to check into the Controlled Substances Prescription Monitoring Program.

Seeking Help for Opioid Addiction

Huge strides in the fight against opioid addiction have occurred in Arizona. But the opioid epidemic in Arizona is still alive and well, much like it is in the rest of the United States.

Still, there is hope for the future of Arizonans affected by opiate addiction.

Do you or someone you know suffer from heroin or painkiller addiction? A healthier and sober future is possible, and the Pathfinders Recovery Center is here to help.

To learn more about how we can help you at our Scottsdale, AZ facility, contact us today!

 

The Heroin Effect Of The Mind & Body

Heroin Use Today

Heroin is an opioid, first synthesized and sold in the late 1800’s. Like other opioids, heroin has a calming affect on the body, used as an antidepressant and a painkiller. Opioids have been used for centuries to provide relief from pain beginning in Egypt before making their way to Europe and India.

Derived from opium poppy sap, opioids can be found in the form of powder, tablets, pills, syrups and capsules. Heroin is typically sold in a powder that is most commonly injected, but can also be snorted smoked or sniffed. It is one of the most addictive substances on the market, which is why it is the most deadly. It has become one of the most widely used drugs amongst users worldwide with statistics rising everyday.

In the United States, heroin addiction has become an epidemic. In our country alone there are currently over one million heroin users across the nation. This startling number is five times what it was in 2000, increasing at a dramatic, unprecedented rate. Over 10,000 individuals die of a heroin overdose every year, which accounts for roughly 60% of all drug related deaths. In the past, most of the country’s heroin use was confined to urban areas. This is no longer the case as heroin addiction has spiked in suburban and rural communities, as well.

It is important for all of use to be educated about heroin addiction and how to deal with the issues that have risen because of our country’s epidemic. We must be armed with the facts about heroin abuse to start combating the problem and making headway towards a solution for the future. This article is intended to inform others on exactly how heroin addiction affects the mind and body of a drug addict. We will be discuss, explain and explore dopamine, opiate receptors, and the symptoms and side effects of heroin addiction.

effects-of-heroin-addiction

Key Concepts in Opioid Addiction

Opioids are a group of drugs that have been and are still used for medical purposes across the globe. Morpheme and codeine are common opiates that are prescribed to alleviate pain after surgery and to combat the side effects of certain illnesses. These are the key concepts that allow heroin alter our physical and mental states:

Dopamine – A neurotransmitter that controls emotions, motivation, movement and pleasure and plays a major role in reward based systems. Certain drugs, like heroin, produce excess amounts of dopamine in the brain. This dramatic increase in a feeling of euphoria is what keeps addicts coming back for more. The brain is rewarded with a spike in dopamine when a an addict is using heroin, causing it to crave the drug to produce another high.

Opioid receptors – A group of receptors in the brain with opioids as ligands, a molecule that binds to another. When opiates attach to the group of receptors, the brain sends signals to block pain and other senses related to emotion. The result is slower breathing and a calming feeling.

Opiates and Opioids – Alkaloid compounds naturally found in the opium poppy plant. Psychoactive compounds are found in opiates that trigger different sensations in the brain and body.

GABA – A Neurotransmitter that plays an important role in anxiety and more. Typically, GABA inhibits the amount of dopamine that is released in the brain. However, the use of opioids prevents GABA from working properly, allowing excess amounts of dopamine to be produced when heroin is in the system.

What Happens To Our Bodies When We Use Heroin?

When heroin is introduced into the bloodstream it travels to our brain and attaches itself to the opiate receptors in the cortex. What happens next? Our bodies produce dopamine in excess and our brain becomes flooded with the neurotransmitter. We experience an intense feeling of euphoria and pleasure, rewarding our brain for using the heroin. Opioid abuse also decreases our level of GABA. Low levels of this neurotransmitter are linked to irregular sleep patterns, depression, excessive stress, and anxiety. Because GABA is involved in the slowing of dopamine release, without this key component dopamine is produced in higher levels.

During my heroin addiction, the drugs made me not have a care in the world. I felt euphoria every time I was using and I couldn’t be brought down from the high that I felt. The grass looked greener and the sky looked bluer. Prolonged heroin use leads us to this state of being.

What are the Signs of a Heroin Addiction?

Sometimes people are unaware of the signs to look for in other people who may be struggling with a heroin addiction. There are many physical and psychological changes that you may notice a person abusing heroin. These include:

  • Flushed skin
  • Nasea
  • Falling asleep at inappropriate times and places
  • Lack of interest in activities, like school and work
  • Increased lying and secretiveness
  • Poor hygiene
  • Trying to hide body parts
  • Refusing to eat at all
  • Injection marks on the skin

What Are Some Side Effects Of Heroin?

The are many side effects of heroin use that keep heroin addicts using. When the body is not under the influence of the drug, the side effects worsen on an even greater scale. The body begins to go into withdrawal just hours after last use, keeping addicts coming back for more and more.

Here are some short-term effects of heroin abuse:

  • Decreased heart rate
  • Slowed breathing
  • Itchy skin
  • Confusion
  • Loss of appetite
  • Cold sweats
  • Constipation
  • Vomiting

What are the Long-Term Effects of Heroin Addiction?

Over time, continuous heroin abuse results in a decreased number of opioid receptors in the brain, which can lead to more serious issues and even death. After repeated use, our brain becomes custom to being under the influence of heroin and our tolerance decreases. Soon it takes more heroin to feel the same amount of pleasure as before. We feel as though must increase our dosage to experience any form of a high. This is what people often call “chasing the dragon.” It is trying to experience the high that we once had and being unable to achieve it. Your brain’s chemistry quite literally changes and you are unable to achieve the same effects with the same dose. Dr. Steven Dewey, a prominent addictions specialist, calls heroin addiction an organic brain disease. Dr. Dewey explains, “I’ve never seen a drug explode on the scene as much as opiates have.”

Here are some long-term effects of heroin abuse:

  • Hepatitis and HIV caused by use of unhygienic injections (i.e. dirty needles)
  • Pulmonary Edema (fluid in the lungs)
  • Decreased bowel motility
  • Muscle weakness
  • Impaired immune system
  • Poor dental health
  • Decreased sexual function
  • Open wounds, scabs and scars
  • Coma
  • Dealth

At the end of my heroin addiction in 2010, I could not get high and had to use to not feel extremely sick. This is a very dark place to arrive at, but it is darkest before the dawn!

heroin-addiction-signs

What Keeps Heroin Addicts Using?

A while into abusing opiates, us addicts experience withdrawal when our body is not flooded with dopamine and the chemicals are leaving our bodies. These withdrawal symptoms can be painful and unpleasant which is why so many addicts continue to use. They want to avoid what they know will come when the heroin runs out. As difficult as it may be, a safe, effective, medical detox is necessary to move forward with a healthy, happy and sober life.

Some symptoms of heroin withdrawal include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Stomach cramps
  • Extreme cravings
  • Depression
  • Body aches
  • Agitation
  • Insomnia
  • Sweats
  • Racing heart
  • Hypertension
  • Fevers
  • & More…

I’ve been there and I needed help to get sober. I would not have made it if it wasn’t for the group of people and support system that guided me through my early recovery.

There is a way out. At Pathfinders Recovery Center, you will meet the owners including myself on the first day of arrival, and throughout your stay you will receive the individual time and attention you deserve. Please call or message us if you or a loved one is struggling. Addiction is literally a matter of life and death. We are here 24 hours a day to help.