Author: Justin Mckibben
I know what you’re thinking… but just set aside that thought for a second. Many of us know the flaws of contempt prior to investigation. So I ask of you to consider the following, and do some investigation yourself, to see what impact this whole idea might have.
You may remember, because I’ve written on the subject of safe injection sites many times, that last September the Harm Reduction Coalition convened with law enforcement and public health experts on an international level to deliberate on the possibility of supervised injection facilities helping to reduce the opiate addiction crisis and overdose death outbreak in American. Since then, officials in several states in America have proposed the implementation of supervised injection facilities, including:
In this discussion, reports were presented with some of the pros and cons of the concept, and with the press and politics focusing so heavily on addressing the epidemic status of heroin and opiate abuse I wanted to revisit the conversation with some information presented. I bring it up again because I have had a few conversations about these facilities; people seem split on the issue and many are misinformed.
What a Supervised Injection Facility IS
Supervised injection facilities (SIFs) are legally sanctioned locations where people who use intravenous drugs can inject pre-obtained drugs under medical supervision.
For those of you who keep implying it makes heroin legal, supervised injection facilities do NOT sell heroin to users OR make heroin legal. It is simply a place where people who are already using can safely use.
They are designed to reduce the health and societal problems associated with intravenous drug use, and have been shown to reduce injection-related risks and harms like:
- Vein damage
- Transmission of diseases like HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis C
Public Injection Alternatives
Now when it comes to drug abuse and recovery from addiction, there is no cookie cutter answer and no express-lane (in my experience) to lasting sobriety. There are numerous programs put in place to provide different treatment alternatives, and one genre of treatment that has been making some come back is harm reduction- which includes supervised injection facilities and needle exchange programs.
As part of the consultation there was a report titled Alternatives to Public Injection in which experts with experience operating supervised injection facilities shared how such services were implemented in their countries. These areas included:
The experts also enclosed in the report how effective supervised injection facilities could be as an alternative solution to public health crises that involve injection drug use. Over the course of this committee there were other entities including:
- Open Society Foundation
- Foundation for AIDS Research
From these reports and discussions there came some relevant information that could be crucial to American policymakers. These points might also cause the everyday skeptic to pause and wonder if these kinds of initiatives can’t do some good.
- People who use SIFs take better care of themselves
- They reduce or eliminate their needle sharing
- Ultimately, participants reduce their drug use all together
- SIF participants gain access to other medical and social services
- Participants have resources to seek addiction treatment
- SIFs do not increase drug use in the surrounding area
- Crime and public disturbances decrease in the areas around these programs
- There has not been a SINGLE overdose death in any of these programs over many years of operation
That last one… that is an especially impressive statistic with all things considered! The simple fact that these sites, which are not yet in America, have been able to treat overdoses and eliminate deaths should at least have people thinking twice about supervised injection facilities.
Long Way to Go
The fact of it all is America has a long road ahead before we ever get to a place where this is a popular idea. Taking into account how many people on the outside of addiction looking in still only have an understanding based on stigma and fear, the reality is that it would be incredibly difficult to get this idea off the ground and make it work because every country in so far operating SIFs have stressed in order to successfully implement supervised injection facilities it is important to have support from all corners, such as:
- The community
- Local law enforcement
Greg Scott is a professor of sociology at DePaul University who has shown a strong sentiment for the need of progressive ideas that promote health and safety over incarceration and punishment. Scott stated,
“SIFs are practical, concrete, humane, and cost-effective.”
“In every respect, SIFs make sense. They represent a logical (and arguably moral) next step in the process of creatively and effectively providing the whole country with far better health solutions for drug users than have ever been available before.”
American families of every demographic and in every community are feeling the damages of the opiate epidemic and the side-effects of unscientific drug policies, causing an upsurge of interest in public health alternatives. No wonder more people are starting to take supervised injection facilities more seriously.
The Recovery Community
When it comes to people in the recovery community, I understand why some people would be cynical about the possibility of government run establishments allowing injection drug use of heroin or other dangerous narcotics.
Even asking people I personally respect in the local recovery community it seems I get answers ranging from one extreme to the other. Some still say that it is just making legal “shooting galleries” that enable addicts to avoid the consequences of their addiction.
Others say with so many people dying every single day, the numbers speak for themselves and no statistically and scientifically supported program should be ignored without at least a conversation.
Once more, I think the preservation of life and promotion of effective addiction treatment is worth some effort.
Now, tell us what YOU think.
Preventing of death and the spread of disease is vital, and getting the right kind of treatment for drug addiction is paramount to progress. If you or someone you love is struggling, don’t wait. Please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135
(This content is being used for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted in the content is a model)
Author: Shernide Delva
Your employer may not be the only one questioning your illegal drug use. Now you could get “drilled” about it by your dentist. A new survey revealed that three out of four U.S dentists ask their patients about their illegal drug use.
One reason is the dental problems that long term drug use can cause such as tooth loss, tooth wear, gum disease and tooth decay, researchers explained. Drug history is helpful for dentists in treating patients effectively.
Another reason is that dentists are the second-largest group of prescribers for opioids such as Vicodin, OxyContin, and Percocet.
In the study, lead author Carrigan Parish, an associate research scientist from Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health in New York City, explained further:
“Because dental care routinely involves treating pain and emergencies, dentists may encounter substance-seeking patients who complain of pain more severe than anticipated based on the nature of their dental condition, who report lost prescriptions for opioid pain medications, or who only seek dental treatment sporadically,”
- Over 1,200 dentists nationwide responded to the survey.
- More than half of dentists believe they should conduct drug screening of new patients.
- The survey found that older dentists were less likely to screen for drug use.
- Younger dentists under 53 years old were more likely to feel it was their role to conduct drug screenings.
- Female respondents were more likely than males to agree that dentists should screen for illegal drug use
“There are a sizable number of people whose visit to a dentist represents their sole interaction with the health care system, highlighting the significance of the dental visit as a key opportunity to identify substance use disorders,” Parish said.
Dentists may require extra training to increase their awareness and knowledge of substance abuse, Parish said. It still is also unclear how patients feel about these screenings.
“While surveys have shown that patients are amenable to receiving medical screenings by dentists ‘chair-side’ for such conditions as HIV, heart disease, and diabetes, further studies directly addressing patient attitudes on substance misuse screening are key in determining patients’ acceptance of such services,” Parish said.
With the opioid epidemic spreading throughout the country, anything to cut down on the addiction crisis can help lives. Dentists rarely get the blame for the prescription drug abuse problem. I mean, you almost never hear terms like “dentist shopping” or “dental pill mills?” Dentists rarely are brought up even though they prescribe these strong pain medications on a regular basis.
The question remains on how to combat the drug abuse without hurting those patients who actually need the medications the most: Patients suffering from real dental pain. It is a complex problem and it is difficult for dentists to do anything about it.
One suggestion is to take advantage of “take back” days sponsored by the Drug Enforcement Administration to safely get rid of excess drugs. Flushing unused drugs is not recommended due to environmental contamination.
The next “take back” day is September 26. There are plenty of locations on the website where you can drop off your unused prescriptions.
Do you think dentists are taking a step in the right direction? Remember, prescription medications should be used for their medical purposes only. If you find yourself falling into the cycle of addiction, remember you are not alone. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135
By Cheryl Steinberg
A Washington Post survey published in April of last year, found that, of more than 500 retired NFL players, one in four said he team doctors pressured them to take medication they were uncomfortable with taking. Players told The Post that they took prescription drugs on almost a daily basis, and frequently without documentation. Furthermore, nine in 10 former football players said they played while injured at some point in their careers, and more than two in three said they felt that they didn’t have a choice.
Prescription Pill Crackdown Within the NFL
Yesterday, Federal Drug Enforcement Administration agents conducted surprise inspections of the medical staffs of National Football League teams as part of an ongoing investigation into claims of prescription drug abuse in the NFL. The inspections, consisting of bag searches and questioning of team doctors by DEA agents, were initiated as a result of suspicion that NFL teams illegally dispense drugs in order to keep players on the field – a violation of the Controlled Substances Act – according to a senior law enforcement official associated with the investigation.
Rusty Payne, a DEA spokesman, confirmed that the investigation did indeed exist and said it was spurred on by a class-action lawsuit that was filed in federal court back in May by more than 1,300 retired NFL players.
In the suit, the former players allege that NFL team medical staffs regularly violated federal and state laws by plying their players with powerful and addictive narcotics, such as Percocet, sleeping pills, such as Ambien, as well as the non-narcotic painkiller, Toradol, so that they could play through their injuries on game days.
In fact, a Washington University School of Medicine 2010 study of 644 former NFL players found that retired NFL players misuse opioids at a rate of four times that of non-players in their age bracket. This was indicated by either overusing opiate painkillers within the past 30 days, taking these drugs without a prescription — or both.
Players described being given unlabeled medications in hazardous combinations – a practice known as “stacking” or “cocktailing” medications, teams filling out prescriptions in players’ names without their knowledge, trainers passing out pills in hotels or locker rooms, and medications being given out on team planes after games – while alcohol was being consumed.
Federal law states that only a physician or nurse practitioner can distribute prescription drugs, and they must meet countless regulations for acquiring, storing, labeling and transporting them. Furthermore, it is also illegal for a physician to administer or distribute prescription drugs outside of their geographic area of practice. That said, it is illegal for trainers to dispense – or even handle – controlled substances in any way.
The DEA official also said that the investigation will focus on medical practices amongst all 32 teams that comprise the league, including the possible distribution of drugs without prescriptions or labels as well as the alleged practice of drugs being dispensed by trainers instead of physicians.
Part of the driving force behind the DEA’s interest in pursuing such an investigation into the NFL is their widely-held belief that relaxed prescribing practices is one of the leading factors in creating addicts.
An official with the NFL said that many teams had met with federal authorities on Sunday. “Our teams cooperated with the DEA today and we have no information to indicate that irregularities were found,” league spokesman Brian McCarthy said in a statement.
If you had at one time been prescribed powerful narcotics, such as painkillers like Oxycodone or Vicodin, and find that you can’t stop taking them, even though you desperately want to, help is available. There are many others in the same situation. Please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135 to speak with an Addiction Specialist today.
Were you prescribed pain meds after surgery or a serious illness? Are you now trying to stop taking the meds, only to find that you begin to feel sick, depressed, and anxious? This is a sign of drug dependence and it is very common, especially with powerful narcotic painkillers that doctors prescribe post-surgery or for certain illnesses and pain conditions. Because of this there are programs for medical detox for pain meds after surgery or illness, or for a chronic pain disorder.
Physical Dependence vs. Addiction
Being physically dependent on a medication does not necessarily mean that you are an addict. You may be physically addicted but, there is a difference when it comes to that and someone who has the disease of addiction.
Prescription painkillers are opioids, meaning a man-made version of an opiate – such as heroin, which comes from a plant. The way opioids work is this: once taken, your brain recognizes them as chemicals and they attach to tiny parts on nerve cells called opioid receptors. After using opioid pain meds long-term, these drugs actually cause changes in the way brain nerve cells work. This happens to everyone, even people who were prescribed pain meds for a legitimate medical reason. The nerve cells become used to having opioids around, so that when they are taken away suddenly, you experience a lot of uncomfortable and even painful reactions. These are known as withdrawal symptoms. A detox for pain meds after surgery or illness can treat your withdrawal symptoms and keep you comfortable through the process.
Someone with the disease of addiction is also physically dependent on a drug, or drugs, such as pain meds. When someone has a drug addiction, it means that they continue to take the meds until they build a tolerance and then seek more, even if it means getting drugs through illegal means, although this is not always the case. People with addiction will also continue to use drugs despite the negative impact it’s having on their lives, such as loss of job, relationships, and financial and legal troubles. For these folks, a detox from pain meds after surgery or illness is also beneficial, although they will need to continue their rehabilitation through other programs, such as inpatient and intensive outpatient.
Detox for Pain Meds After Surgery or Illness: What to Expect
A detox program that treats the withdrawal symptoms that result from coming off of narcotic pain meds has two phases.
Detox for Pain Meds After Surgery or Illness: Evaluation
The first step in the detox process takes place when you first arrive. You will meet with an Intake Specialist who will ask you questions about your situation: what drug or drugs you are taking, how much, and how you take them (whether you swallow them as pills, crush and snort them, or inject them). All of this information is kept confidential and is protected by HIPAA laws that are a part of federal legislation that protects an individual’s medical information.
Detox for Pain Meds After Surgery or Illness: Stabilization
This process takes anywhere from 4 to ten days, sometimes a little longer, and consists of you being tapered off of the pain meds, usually with the help of other prescribed medications. You will be monitored by a full professional medical staff for the rest of your stay. Your vitals will be taken twice daily and your meals will be provided for you.
By the end of your detox from pain meds after surgery or illness, you will be feeling much, much better. If you have a chronic pain condition that will continue some kind of management, including medication, the medical doctor at the detox will work with you to prescribe a non-narcotic alternative as well as make suggestions as to other therapies that can alleviate your pain, such as physical therapy, acupuncture, and chiropractic care.
If you have become dependent or addicted to prescription pain meds and are looking for help to get off of them, an opiate detox such as a detox for pain meds after surgery or illness can offer you this help. Call an Addiction Specialist at toll-free 1-800-951-6135 today, we are available around the clock.
For those addicts who struggle with the abuse of prescription pills, especially powerful painkillers, it is an uphill battle trying to find treatment and escape out of that vicious cycle and into recovery. Discomfort doesn’t even come close to articulating some of the pain that is involved in detoxing from painkillers cold turkey, and the longer you have been using the worse it gets. So when you throw into the mix a legit medical problem that consists of a fair amount of pain, the concept of giving up the only thing that you believe can help you because it is causing you a different kind of pain can be terrifying. Here are 5 reasons recovery is so scary for prescription pill addicts with legit medical problems.
- Afraid of the pain of detox
For prescription pill addicts, the thought of detox is scary enough. When you add the pain of detox to a regularly scheduled agony from medical problems it only makes it harder to stick through that detox process without giving up, and many addicts who use pain killers have a hard time telling the difference between their own pains and the discomforts caused by withdrawals.
- Afraid detox will make medical problem worse
Sometimes when someone with a serious medical condition considers the idea of going to treatment for use of a prescription pill that has developed into a serious addiction they are afraid that the physical toll taken on the body from the detoxification process will actually create more complications with their current condition. Especially if their condition is the actual reason why they have been prescribed the medication in the first place, the addict can become even more worried that without it their problem will progress.
- Afraid of being ‘black listed’
A lot of times a prescription pill addict will avoid going to treatment or getting involved in their own recovery because they are worried that when they admit to having a serious problem with narcotics and abusing their medications that they will no longer be able to be prescribed medications. Many addicts believe that by going to treatment they are automatically ‘black-listed’ from being able to receive specific medications and they are scared that if they do so and their medical problem persists that they will no longer be able to get the treatment for that condition. They may fear that once they admit to a drug problem that doctors will assume in the future that they are just trying to manipulate the system in order to get these medications, when they really do have a more serious problem.
- Afraid of new medications
When taken off of you prescribed medication to try and resolve an issue with substance abuse, there can be some fear in recovery that your new medication may not be as helpful or healthy as you had hoped. It is possible that these new medications may not be as effective, or they may include their own list of side-effects or long-term effects that make them just as detrimental as the original medication you were taking.
- Afraid of relapses
Probably the worst fear of prescription pill addicts with legit medical conditions in recovery is relapse. Once in recovery a prescription pill addict will probably start off with a pretty legit fear of their condition because if they know already that they have issues with substance abuse and painkillers then it is understandable when they are hesitant to be prescribed new medications to help with their health problems because they are not familiar with the effects of these medications. Being an addict in recovery who has a legit medical issue and must be on some kind of medication, it can seem scary to have to remain vigilant as to your medications. At the end of the day though, all addicts must maintain self-awareness and vigilance.
For those with medical issues, the fear of getting off harmful medications can seem scary when you don’t know how else to navigate your illness without the help of your prescriptions. Some addicts don’t realize how much worse their illness may actually be as a result of the medications they abuse, or how it may be as simple as a new medication that could mean the difference between addiction and recovery, which for most means life or death. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135