Author: Justin Mckibben
With the opioid epidemic in America there have been a lot of advances in the field of addiction treatment, as well as innovations in prevention and intervention. One of the most useful elements of preserving the lives of thousands of people across the country has been the development and implementation of the opioid overdose antidote Narcan. So many people are impacted by opioid abuse, and so many families and friends to addicts want to help in any way they can to give their loved ones an opportunity at surviving their struggles. A lot of people are still unsure how to obtain some of these life-saving resources, especially when it comes to the overdose antidote.
The truth is, basically anyone can get access to Naloxone or Narcan, with various expansion programs existing for the purpose of providing vital support to the communities afflicted. Also, anyone can be trained on how to use it. There are a few ways to obtain Narcan.
How Do You Get Narcan: What is Narcan/Naloxone
Just to verify, Narcan is the brand name of this life-saving medication. Naloxone is the generic name. Narcan (Naloxone) is used to counteract and reverse the deadly effects of an overdose of opiate drugs such as heroin, Oxycodone,Hydrocodone and others as well.
Naloxone hydrochloride, the scientific name, is a white to slightly off-white powder and is soluble in water. Naloxone Hydrochloride injection is available as a non-preserved sterile solution for intravenous, intramuscular or subcutaneous administration in 1 mg/mL concentration.
Narcan is also supplied as a nasal spray, which provides for a decreased risk factor and makes it easier to administer for many by eliminating needles. In these forms, Naloxone and Narcan expansion has become a very big part of combatting the opioid epidemic, and through many groups advocating for its use, Narcan has become available in many ways.
How Do You Get Narcan: CVS and Walgreens
One way is through pharmacy companies like CVS and Walgreens.
Back in late 2015, the pharmacy company CVS announced it would be selling the opioid overdose antidote naloxone without a prescription in 14 states. Then in early 2016 CVS announced they would be expanding the program to 20 states by the end of the year. Of course, pharmacy boards in each state can make the decisions about offering Naloxone or Narcan without a prescription, but CVS has worked to further grant access to people all over the nation. You can look online to see if it is available in your area.
Also in early 2016 the pharmacy organization Walgreens announced two programs to address key issues in the opioid crisis.
- Safe medical disposal kiosks for unused prescription drugs
- Narcan expansion
By the end of 2016 Walgreens had expanded naloxone access without the requirement of a prescription to 33 states and the District of Columbia. Walgreens also continues to express the intention to further expand these programs. A quick online search you let you know if it is currently available without a prescription at a Walgreens near you.
How Do You Get Narcan: Other Options
In truth there are a lot of different ways to get Narcan, depending on where you are. To name a few:
You can contact a family physician in order to gain access to a Naloxone or Narcan kit, and should even be able to get training on how to utilize it.
State or Local Health Department
Your state or local health department should be able to provide you with all the information about any Opioid Overdose Prevention Programs in your area that provide the resources and training for the overdose antidote.
Harm Reduction Organizations
There are clinics, community centers and other harm reduction organizations all over the country that work to provide extensive support, resources and information. The Harm Reduction Coalition is America’s national harm reduction network operating overdose prevention programs for years.
The Overdose Prevention Alliance (OPA)
The OPA is a home for information and debate on drug overdose worldwide. It operates with the goal of cutting overdose and mortality rates. The OPA aims to collect and document major issues in overdose worldwide, encourage overdose prevention initiatives. Finding this resource could also be a huge help.
How Do You Get Narcan: Making a Difference
In the end, there are so many avenues someone can take to obtain this crucial tool in the fight against opioid overdose. Some community leaders even organize local workshops where they invite the public to come and get training on how to use Naloxone or Narcan. Some colleges even provide Naloxone kits to students, and many of both kinds of programs are free of charge.
The goal with any program is to try and save lives. At the end of the day that is what it comes down to; saving lives. Every bit of these resources makes a difference.
Still, beyond being revived from an overdose; beyond having access to the opioid overdose antidote is the need for safe and effective treatment. Having a second chance means using it. Keeping someone alive after a nearly fatal overdose is a huge feat, but there has to be more to helping someone, and that is where holistic drug and alcohol treatment programs make the biggest difference.
If you or someone you love have survived an opioid overdose and don’t know what to do next, do not hesitate to get help. If you or someone you love is struggling, please call toll-free now. We want to help.
CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135
Author: Justin Mckibben
Suboxone is a medication meant to treat opiate and opioid withdrawal. It is one of two forms of the medication buprenorphine, which is an opiate agonist originally developed to treat pain problems. Suboxone works by binding to opiate receptors in the brain, which are the same receptors that morphine, heroin and other opiates bind to.
Is Suboxone Safe: How Suboxone Works
In order to better understand the risks of Suboxone use, it is important to understand how this medication works. Let us be clear, Suboxone is a narcotic. It is a semi-synthetic opioid made from a combination of two drugs:
This compound is intended for the treatment of pain, as well as for combating opioid addiction. However, what many people don’t realize it that buprenorphine is itself an opioid.
DEA reports show that the substance can be 20-30 times more potent than morphine as an analgesic; like morphine buprenorphine can create a dose-related euphoria. Like other opioids commonly abuse, buprenorphine is capable of producing a significant “high” and thus has been abused in various ways.
Now, all products containing buprenorphine are controlled substances. Given the nature of this powerful opioid, the other primary compound of Suboxone is added.
Naloxone is a pure opioid antagonist medication used to block the effects of opioids. It works by reversing the depression of the central nervous system and respiratory system. Narcan is a brand name for the medication that is commonly utilized as an overdose antidote.
But beyond being used to reverse overdoses, the addition of naloxone to products like Suboxone is with the intention of blocking the euphoric high resulting from the abuse of opioids by injection, like buprenorphine.
So when a drug like Suboxone is taken orally, just the opioid has affect. Naloxone blocks the impact of the opioid when it is injected. The primary purpose of naloxone in Suboxone is to deter intravenous abuse.
Is Suboxone Safe: How is it used?
Suboxone acts as a partial opioid agonist and diminishes cravings as well as prevents other opioids from reacting to the brain’s receptors. The drug has become a frequently utilized substance for trying to combat opioid addiction. Suboxone can come in tablet form, or in the form of a film taken sublingually, meaning dissolved under the tongue.
When taken orally or sublingually as directed, the naloxone is not absorbed and the buprenorphine acts uninhibited. However, the formulation still has potential for abuse. Published data has shown that the opioid receptor’s binding affinity to buprenorphine is higher, so the opioid typically overrides the antagonist, causing many reports to argue that naloxone is an insufficient deterrent for the injection of Suboxone for recreational abuse.
Serious dangers of Suboxone
While Suboxone may have become a mainstream tactic for combating opioid addiction, the question has become if it is as safe and effective as producers would have us believe. So when presented with the question of ‘is Suboxone safe?’ must look at a few factors.
Is Suboxone Safe: Adverse side-effects
The fact remains that Suboxone is an opioid narcotic. Therefore, the side-effects of Suboxone are essentially the same as other opioids.
Most common minor side-effects include:
- Mild dizziness
- Stomach pain
- Redness, pain or numbness in the mouth
- Trouble concentrating
Most common major side-effects include:
- Cough or hoarseness
- Feeling faint or lightheaded
- Feeling of warmth or heat
- Fever or chills
- Lower back or side pain
- Painful or difficult urination
Major side-effects suggest the individual should check with their doctor immediately.
Is Suboxone Safe: Withdrawal symptoms
The irony is that Suboxone is typically used because people are trying to stop abusing other illicit or prescription opioids but want to have something to curb the withdrawal symptoms. Yet, Suboxone is known to have its own withdrawals, and for some they are even worse.
Symptoms of Suboxone withdrawal can include:
- Body and muscle aches
- Difficulty concentrating
- Drug cravings
- Digestive distress
The physical withdrawals can peak in the first 72 hours after the last dose, and some of the more psychological symptoms can last much longer.
Is Suboxone Safe: Interactions with other drugs
Taking other drugs while on Suboxone, especially other opioids or sedatives, can actually be fatal. Combining Suboxone with other drugs can cause a very dangerous reactions that many also ignore. Drugs that are particularly dangerous with Suboxone are:
- Benzodiazepines (Benzos) such as Xanax
- Older Antihistamines
- Antipsychotics such as Zyprexa
Cocaine is also an extremely hazardous drug to combine with Suboxone because they are opposites on the spectrum of stimulant vs depressant. When you combine cocaine with Suboxone, it actually reduces the amount of buprenorphine that is in your bloodstream. With less buprenorphine in the body the effects of opioid withdrawal symptoms can be felt.
Combining cocaine with Suboxone also increases the risk of overdosing on cocaine.
If you would like more information on Suboxone, download our free E-book: 5 Things No One Tells You about Suboxone.
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Is Suboxone safe?
Suboxone may be a legal and popular alternative to some other opioids, but that doesn’t necessarily make it all that ‘safe’ to rely on. It is of course possible to overdose on Suboxone. As we said before, Suboxone combined with other drugs can also be incredibly dangerous. And at the end of the day, you can still become psychically and psychologically dependent on the drug.
In truth, Suboxone has been useful to some who have tried to get off of drugs like heroin and other dangerous opioids by providing a buffer and some method of harm reduction. But the often overlooked aspect is that Suboxone is only intended for short-term use and not long-term maintenance. When individuals use the substance for long periods of time, they become dependent on it just like any other potent narcotic. Experts insist that Suboxone and similar drugs are only effective in combination with comprehensive treatment or cognitive behavioral therapy.
For more information, read our
A safer and far more healthy and sustainable approach to recovery from opioid addiction is with holistic treatment that offers much more than an opioid substitute with its own adverse effects. If you or someone you love is struggling, please call toll-free now. We want to help.
CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135
Photo of artists Cane in the studio
Author: Justin Mckibben
Recently one of our Palm Partners Alumni who has been pursuing his passion for music posted a powerful music video with a strong message that caught our attention. After hearing how the track he had recorded was speaking intensely and poetically about the issues concerning the opiate epidemic and the shady side of Big Pharma in the prescription drug outbreak across the country, we wanted to know more about the project.
The name behind the deep reaching lyrics is Cane, and he’s a hip-hop artist ‘straight outta Indiana’. The video is titled “Detox” and is a powerful look into the world of prescription drug abuse from someone who has personally had to fight for their life. The video itself does have some mature content, but nothing extremely graphic. It begins with news broadcasters and headlines talking about the epidemic, and the beat itself is something a lot of people might recognize as the “Run This Town” instrumental by Jay Z, but Cane does a good job of making the music his own.
He credits the recording and video production to RJ Write @FlatlineMedia with a post that has been shared by multiple sources. Hopefully it’ll trend and catch even more momentum. We wanted to celebrate this level of heartfelt dedication, so we reached out to Cane to get a glimpse at some of the thoughts behind the music.
Q & A with Cane
Q: So, what is your sobriety date and how long have you been making music?
A: “My clean date is 8-8-14. I’ve been making music for 5 years. My father is a musician also so it’s always been in my life.”
Q: What has life been like since leaving treatment?
A: “Life after leaving treatment has been truly a blessing. When you’re caught up in the grip of addiction you tend to get caught up in the rat race and you feel like you’re going to be stuck in that forever you lose hope of having any normal life. Now that I’m home I’ve went back to school and getting my GED then went and got my CDL and in my semi-truck driver. I have a daughter and I also have another child on the way, all these things seemed impossible when all I could think about was getting one more… and as I grow in this recovery process I’m learning more about myself and learning to love myself and ways that I never have… and it all started when I took that first step and entered the doors of Palm Partners.”
Q: What was the most valuable experience you took from treatment at Palm Partners Recovery Center?
A: “The most value experience I took from Palm partners is that people do truly care and you’re not alone. I was reminded that Humanity is real and it still exists, there are still people out there that genuinely care because when you’re caught up in that street life you tend to lose that reality… and they also gave me a firm foundation to build on as I got out into the world and started to recover.”
Q: In your own words, what has inspired you to write about this in your music?
A: “What had inspired me to write this in my music was looking around at myself and those around me caught in the struggle, and realizing that we all share the same pain and can relate it was at that point that I knew I had to bring a clear message through my music and be a voice for those who feel they aren’t heard and also create awareness to situations that most turn a blind eye to.”
Q: What is the main message you want to send with a song like this?
A: “The main message that I want to get through with this song is that I believe the system (Big Pharma) is more of a business built on creating revenue instead of cures, it seems they are creating momentarily relief of symptoms instead of actually trying to heal their patients. A cured patient is a lost customer, not caring about the side effects their drugs have on the consumer they over medicate to the point that we feel we can’t go through life without these medications. It’s almost as if they’re telling the public, this is your only hope… don’t worry about what’s it’s doing to your health, don’t worry about what is doing to your life because we’ll just prescribe you something to handle that stress as well.
My personal experience has showed me that when my tolerance grew they upped the dose, always having a pharmaceutical answer for everything…when in the end everything they gave me to better my life was actually killing me, physically, mentally and spiritually.”
Q: Who has been most influential in your recovery?
A: “Ronald “Choke” Nelson has been one person who has helped me grow the most in my process of recovery, and my family.”
Q: How has recovery made you more successful in your music or other passions?
A: “Recovery is help me in my music by helping me learn who I truly am as a person, which helps me open up more and be able to express myself freely, opening up a new platform of consciousness and truly seeing life for what it is in all its beauty and Glory which makes me see reality instead of my self-made prison which kept my close minded, judgmental and delusional.
Now I see the beauty that life truly is, I can write and create with a sense of Peace and clarity, and with other passions like Family, relationships and life in general is just gave me a sense of gratitude and appreciation which helps generate a loving atmosphere, and in a loving atmosphere all things grow.”
Q: When can we expect more projects like “Detox” from you?
A: “I’m in the process of writing a new track called “It’s Okay” which will be somewhat of a motivational song letting the people know, it’s okay to have flaws, nobody’s perfect… just learn to accept yourself regardless of your past you can have a bright future.
I also already release a song called “My Story” which also gives hope and gives you a glimpse into my world.”
Q: If you could give a message to anyone who might be hurting, what would it be?
A: “Anybody that’s out there listening still caught up in the grip of addiction just know that there is hope. Find that last piece of strength; that last piece of love that you have for yourself and find a way to get somewhere to get some help. You do not have to settle for the limitations of your past, there is a brighter future ahead just step forth and make an effort and slowly but surely things will fall into place, you just have to believe. There is a better life for you out there, you don’t have to stay stuck in the never ending cycle, so please from me to you reach out to someone who cares make that call, Reach Out and save your life”
With gratitude and humility Cane happily touched on a lot of important ideas in his song and during our conversation. It is clear this artist believes in his recovery, and believes in raising awareness and spreading the message to others. We are always proud of the amazing accomplishments and uplifting stories our Palm Partners Alumni share with us about life in recovery. We always encourage our Alumni to reach out and share their own perspectives. Part of proving recovery and life after treatment is possible is living by example and making the most out of our message. Cane is taking that to heart and putting his talents to use to try and make a difference.
You can check out the music video for ‘Detox’ here and you can check out more of Cane’s music here.
We know there are so many more Palm Partners alumni out there with talents, stories and experiences to share, and we encourage you to contact us and be part of the message that may help countless others. You never know how many lives you can touch, and how many people could make the choice that saves their life because of something that you choose to share. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free now.
CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135
(This content is being used for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted in the content is a model)
Author: Justin Mckibben
Overdose victims are the people most obviously struggling with the opiate epidemic. So many have come so close to death that to be revived might be the only second chance they think they get. As the overdose outbreak has grown into such a prominent problem, more has been done to increase access to life-saving resources. Policies are now in place help those who are on the verge of a lethal dose. More is being done to help survivors get treatment. The concept of addiction has finally started to be more understand as something that impacts all walks of life and that it is not a moral failing, but a serious, chronic disorder. Yet, even as compassion and education have taken on more meaning in the fight against drug addiction, there are still some who think punishing addicts and overdose victims is somehow an answer.
It is one thing to argue the idea of charging drug dealers with murder in connection to overdoses. Even that is a controversial topic. But now officials in some areas are supporting a plan that further persecutes people who have suffered from an opiate overdose is a very dangerous development.
Should police be issuing charges to overdose victims who need to be revived with naloxone?
What is Naloxone?
Naloxone, also known by its generic name Narcan, is the antidote medication used to reverses an opioid overdose. It works by neutralizing the opioids and reviving the respiratory system. This medication has become one of the primary resources in fighting the overdose outbreak that has devastated the nation, and over recent years access to the drug has expanded a great deal. Naloxone has been around in ambulances and hospitals for decades to reverse overdose, but the demand for solutions to the rising death rates has made it more mainstream.
Naloxone has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and all over the country new programs have been put in place to make the drug more available. Now you can acquire a naloxone kit from pharmacies in many states, some without prescriptions. Community programs have developed to distribute the drug to the public in some areas where the issue is most prevalent.
Many areas have distributed naloxone to their police departments as well as other first responders, while providing training courses to both the public servants and the community. With some many people in America fighting addiction and losing their lives, it makes sense that more people be prepared to help.
Making Overdosing a Crime
In some states people who overdose are facing some new consequences. While government officials say they are trying everything they can to help people, all it really seems to be doing is further inhibiting the people who most desperately need the help.
Essentially, what officials in some areas have done is emphasized on making overdosing a crime. More specifically, charging people who have to be revived by police or medics with naloxone with inducing panic.
The charge is a misdemeanor, so it isn’t exactly as damaging as other charges often associated with drugs. However, the offense is technically still punishable with fines and jail time. Police are partnering with prosecutors to go on the attack against addiction, but is this the right plan of action?
Washington, Ohio Overdose Victims
One area with a policy like this is Washington, Ohio. Police in this part of the Buckeye State just started the new strategy in February. So far at least seven people who were revived during an overdose through naloxone have been charged with inducing panic.
In this area the offense can entitle someone to up to 180 days in jail and a one-thousand dollar fine. The City Attorney Mark Pitsick claims,
“It gives us the ability to keep an eye on them, to offer them assistance and to know who has overdosed. Sometimes we can’t even track who has overdosed.”
What some may find troubling is the vocabulary Pitsick uses to describe the situation. Saying thing like “keep an eye on them” is already a bit unsettling for some. One of the problems with this whole idea is exactly that; no one wants the police to have to “keep an eye on them”, especially addicts. Therefore, one has to wonder if people will avoid contacting emergency services in the event of an overdose.
How many people will suddenly be even more afraid to reach out for help? How many people are going to be too afraid of adding a charge to their name, paying a fine or even going to jail that they take their chances without naloxone and end up dead?
Is it right to use the legal system this way to keep tabs on people who ask for help?
Not All Bad
One thing the city officials do want to adamantly announce is that people who call 9-1-1 to report an overdose, or the people who may be with the overdose victims, will not be charged. This might make the policy a little easier to handle. At least this means the people who are around someone on the edge of dying could act in the individuals best interest without fear of personally being charged. Pitsick defended his stance saying,
“Service. Follow up. Just them understanding that people do care. We are here to help. We are not here to put them in jail,”
Still, the fact overdose victims are likely to receive charges may deter someone from calling for help for them, no matter how illogical to some that may seem. It is a sad truth that actually happens quite often already. People have allowed others to overdose and even die out of fear of legal repercussions. Would creating a standard of charging people for needing medical resuscitation make it better, or worse? The reality is it will not prevent addicts from using.
While the intention may be good, to try and take a stance against overdose rates, the strategy may be counterproductive. Personally, my opinion is this only pushes people away from wanting help. It inspires fear and feelings of guilt, not hope. It promotes stigma and turns people who are already struggling against the system they were hoping would help them.
Overdose death is not to be underestimated anymore. People every day lose their life to the fight against addiction. But there is help out there for those who are willing to take action. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free.
CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135
(This content is being used for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted in the content is a model)
Author: Justin Mckibben
Addiction is not an easy problem to address. It is a complex issue with many variables, so of course there is no simple answer to fix it. There is no one-size-fits-all solution; no monopoly on the right kind of treatment. It is understandable that there is a degree of effectiveness with utilizing any medical means available to try and address addiction, but are maintenance drugs really the answer?
Surely medication assisted treatment is useful, and it helps a lot of people. Most inpatient treatment programs utilize some form of medication to ease withdrawal symptoms and other side-effects of long-term drug use. The detox period of treatment usually focuses on medically assisting someone struggling with drugs in this transition.
However, is getting people off of one drug by making them dependent on another really the best case scenario? It seems now insurance companies are putting more effort into using maintenance drugs to treat addiction. Is this really a better strategy?
Firstly, let us make a clear definition of what maintenance drugs are. Typically, the definition of maintenance drugs is along the lines of prescriptions commonly used to treat conditions that are considered chronic or long-term. These conditions usually require regular, daily use of medicines.
Examples of common maintenance drugs are medications such as:
- Fluticasone and salmeterol (Advair Diskus) which is used to treat asthma
- Insulin glargine (Lantus) used to treat diabetes
If you consider these examples the point is that people use these medications to “manage” their illness, not to overcome or remedy it. So looking at the issue of addiction, there are some well-known maintenance drugs, specifically concerning opioid addiction.
These medications can be effective, but they also present a level of danger themselves. Even though doctors prescribe them to combat withdrawals, they actually can create their own devastating withdrawals, especially with long term use.
Aetna Aims for Maintenance Drugs
Aetna is one of the nation’s largest insurance companies. In a recent Aetna report, the company is prepared to remove a major restriction for patients seeking maintenance drugs for opioid addiction. The change is set to begin this coming March. Aetna is the third major health insurer to announce such a shift in policy in recent months, now in league with Anthem and Cigna insurers.
To be more specific, this insurance company will stop requiring doctors to seek approval before they prescribe particular medications that are used to combat withdrawal symptoms. One of these medications is suboxone, a well-known medication that many people use to fight opiate addiction.
The common insurance practice is known as “prior authorization”. The reason they are seeking to eliminate this policy is because it sometimes results in delays of hours to days before a patient can get the medications.
This new approach to regulation of maintenance drugs impacts all its private insurance plans, an Aetna spokeswoman confirmed.
Advocates of Maintenance Drugs
Addiction treatment advocates to support having expanded access to maintenance drugs. Dr. Corey Waller, an emergency physician who chairs the American Society of Addiction Medicine’s legislative advocacy committee, states:
“It’s a first-line, Food and Drug Administration-approved therapy for a disease with a known mortality. [For] every other disease with a known mortality, the first-line drugs are available right away.”
Essentially, the idea that parity laws require insurers to cover addiction treatments at the same level as other kinds of healthcare means these kinds of medication should be available for immediate access. This should be the same for all forms of addiction treatment.
Opinion: Treatment over Maintenance
While many would argue that maintenance drugs are a form of treatment, it is still a relevant argument that maintenance drugs are also imperfect and could actually be harmful if they become the cookie-cutter answer implemented by most insurers.
While harm reduction is understandable, and maintenance drugs can help people struggling with heroin or other dangerous opioids avoid other serious risks, the fact is many maintenance drugs include their own side-effects. Some often become subject to abuse themselves.
For instance, suboxone can be useful as a harm reduction tactic, but it can also be abused. Many people who have used suboxone as a long-term solution have found themselves battling suboxone withdrawal symptoms. The dangers of suboxone are very relevant.
The same, if not worse, has often been said about methadone maintenance drugs. While they may keep someone alive to get treatment, there should still be a strong emphasis on treatment itself. Maintenance drugs are most effective when part of a program. They are not a substitute for a treatment program.
Treatment should focus on finding solutions, not prolonging the suffering. Drug and alcohol addiction treatment should come from a holistic approach that addresses more than just physical ailments. Holistic treatment focuses on providing extensive and personalized therapy, combined with physical and emotional heal. If insurance companies want to focus on combining rational medical resources with comprehensive treatment, then this could be a great thing. However, if the focus becomes a quick-fix drug option opposing a full recovery through treatment, it only adds to the danger.
Maintenance drugs have support from the recovery community, but typically they must be accompanied by therapy and other means of treatment. Maintenance drugs are just that- drugs. They are often powerful narcotics, and are true to their title- “maintenance,” not a permanent solution.
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