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Former NFL Player Shane Olivea Overcame 125 Vicodin-Per-Day Habit

Former NFL Player Shane Olivea Overcame 125 Vicodin-Per-Day Habit

(This content is being used for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted in the content is a model)

Author: Shernide Delva

Former NFL player Shane Olivea opened up to the media about his painkiller addiction. At one point, Olivea states he was taking 125 Vicodin pills per day and spent more than $584,000 fueling his painkiller addiction.

Shane Olivea, who excelled as a college football star at Ohio State University, admits that at the height of his addiction he was taking an astounding 125 Vicodin pills per day. He says that he was high every day after first trying Vicodin at the end of his rookie NFL season with the San Diego Chargers.

To obtain the drugs, Olivea had a variety of sources. On several occasions, he would pay a cab driver $100 to drive to a “pharmacy” in Tijuana.

 “You could buy anything you want if you had cash. I’d go buy a couple hundred Vicodin, or by then I’d progressed to OxyContin.”

Eventually, the disease of addiction progressed into buying more and more.

“It got to the point I would take a pile of 15 Vicodin and would have to take them with chocolate milk. If I did it with water or Gatorade, I’d throw it up,” he said.

After a while, Olivea began to withdraw from teammates and his relationship with coaches and management suffered. In 2007, Olivea was benched late into the season and his weight spiraled up to nearly 390 pounds.

All of his friends and family were worried. As a last resort, the entire family, andhis Chargers teammate Roman Oben came together for an intervention and asked him to seek treatment.

In April 2008, Olivea entered rehab at a California treatment facility. During his initial medical examination, his doctors were stunned.

“[The doctors] looked at me and said, ‘We’ve never seen anybody living with that amount of opioids in you. You’re literally a walking miracle,’” said Olivea. “That was a punch to the gut.”

Starting Over

Later that year, Olivea signed with the New York Giants, however, a back injury eventually ended his career. Despite the setbacks, Olivea has managed to stay sober since his days in treatment. In 2015, he re-enrolled at Ohio State University, and then graduated last December with a degree in the sports industry.

In addition to considering job offers on and off the field, Olivea also wants to use his experience with addiction to mentor players struggling with the physical toll of the game. He wants to ensure others are on the right path.

“If you got it, you can spot it,” Olivea said. “I can spot an addict in a public setting. I know the behavior. I know the tendencies. I know what he’s going to do. I’ll be able to notice somebody going down that slippery path and maybe catch them.”

Fact or Fiction: 125 Vicodin per day?

In delving into this article, I read many comments stating that it was impossible that Olivea consumed that many Vicodin without major health consequences.

Some of the comments via the Daily Mail read:

    • “125 pills per day? Yea, right. That would kill you, I don’t care how big you are.”
    • “I kind of don’t believe 125 a day. You might be able to survive a chronic opioid addiction, but if you took that much acetaminophen – the other ingredient in Vicodin – your liver would give out in short order.”
    • “I don’t believe his story entirely – if he’d taken 125 Vicodin pills a day, his liver would have packed up and he’d have died. You can abuse Vicodin a bunch, but 125 pills a day isn’t abusing it, it’s taking an O/D _every day_.”
      —-

Vicodin is a combination of acetaminophen and hydrocodone. Hydrocodone is the opioid part of Vicodin while acetaminophen is a less potent pain reliever that increases the effects of hydrocodone. The acetaminophen part is the same chemical found in Tylenol so most of us are familiar with it.

Since Olivea was at a high weight level (peaking at 390 pounds) and had built up a tolerance to the drug, chances are he would be able to handle a higher amount of Vicodin than the average person. However, the astounding amount of 125 pills a day normally would result in an overdose.

Furthermore, large quantities of acetaminophen can easily result in major liver damage. For the average person, even a few days of exceeding the recommended dose of the drug could result in liver damage.  The first signs of an acetaminophen overdose include loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, sweating, and weakness.

Furthermore, the 125 Vicodin per day number does seem astounding. Ultimately, whether or not that number is accurate is irrelevant. The takeaway here is that Shane Olivea had a serious addiction to opioids and was able to overcome it through treatment. It is inspiring to see Olivea use his achieved sobriety to help others.  If you or someone you know is struggling with drug addiction, please call now. Do not wait. Call toll-free today.

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After the Naloxone: The Next Step After Overdose Reversal

After the Naloxone: What’s the Next Step?

Author: Shernide Delva

Drug overdoses have skyrocketed across the United States, and as a result, the popularity and accessibility of naloxone have risen as well. Most pharmacies now carry naloxone and even schools are carrying it in the event of an overdose emergency. Nationwide, naloxone is available to emergency departments and paramedics who find they are using the overdose antidote more than ever before.

While the use of naloxone is saving countless lives, one of the major battles first responders are facing is that they often administer naloxone to the same people over and over again. The repeated overdoses have many pondering; Where do we go from here? What is the next step after naloxone?

After the Overdose Reversal

First responders have acknowledged the pattern of repeated overdoses throughout the country. While an overdose often is a turning point for many, for others it is not enough to stop the active addiction. Therefore, in many areas of the country, first responders and community members have launched programs to reach out to those who recently overdosed. These programs aim to offer resources on overdose prevention, mental health counseling and substance use disorder treatment.

In July 2015, the Township of Colerain, Ohio, started a post-naloxone outreach program led by their Director of Public Safety, Daniel Meloy. Ohio has some of the highest rates of drug overdoses in the country. Under the program, representatives from the Colerain Police Department, the Colerain Fire Department, and Addiction Services Council all meet to review overdose reports from the previous week. Then, the representatives, known collectively as the Rapid Response Team, go into their community to visit the homes where the overdoses occurred.

“We knock on doors and ask to speak with either the person who overdosed or any friends or family,” says Shana Merrick, a social worker with Addiction Services Council. “We explain that we are not there to make an arrest, but to offer resources to keep the person healthy, safe and well. Most people open their doors and we talk about their situation and needs.”

In cases where a person lacks medical insurance, these programs help them find insurance. For those who are not eligible for insurance or Medicaid or simply can’t afford insurance, there are dedicated funds to help pay for treatment costs.

“About 80% of the people we see eventually seek some form of treatment,” says Shana. “It’s not always right away, but if we build a relationship over time then they may contact us later on asking for help.”

One of the biggest challenges is treatment capacity. When all beds are full, Shana enrolls people in intensive outpatient programs until a slot opens up at a traditional inpatient program. Some will enroll in medication-assistant treatment programs. Another challenge is staying in touch with people who are transient and may have changed address or phone numbers.

Shana and The Rapid Response Team are fortunate to have a variety of resources available to them to help guide people. Other places are not so fortunate. The Santa Fe Prevention Alliance in New Mexico have  similar post-overdose outreach program but have fewer resources to utilize.

“There aren’t a lot of substance use or mental health treatment services in our area where we can refer people,” says Bernie, who visits people who have recently overdosed each week, along with a paramedic from the Santa Fe Fire Department.

We do offer to help people find treatment facilities if they want, but during most of our visits we work with families to come up with an overdose response plan, offer naloxone and training on how to use it, and brainstorm about how to reduce the risk of another overdose. People are excited and respond well to us. No one has ever refused to let us visit.”

Do These Programs Work?

The purpose of these programs is helping those who have recently overdosed from overdosing again. The vast majority of people are receptive to receiving help. In some cases, they may not want help right away but often reach out in the future.

There is a critical overdose epidemic nationwide, and communities are exploring ways to help past the initial overdose reversal. Post-naloxone programs do offer hope, however they are just one solution to a very complex issue. There is not a quick-fix one-step solution–—not naloxone, not post-overdose outreach programs, not more inpatient treatment, not injected medications that block cravings for opioids—is a magic cure.

A combination of efforts that explore a diverse range of treatment options is key. While saving lives using naloxone is extremely important, the post-naloxone addict needs just as much assistance. What are your thoughts? If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, please call now. Do not wait. 

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Did Satisfaction Surveys Make Opioid Crisis Worse?

 

Did Satisfaction Surveys Make Opioid Crisis Worse?

Author: Shernide Delva

The opioid crisis is pinpointed to a variety of sources, yet those blamed the most are doctors. Doctors are criticized for their generous prescribing of prescription painkillers that led to patients developing an addiction to the drug. Drugs like oxycodone were for a long time easily prescribed until recently. Once the prescription drugs became more difficult to obtain, addicts turns to heroin thus resulting in the shocking epidemic we are in today.

However, there is more to the story. Turns out, patient satisfaction surveys may be another major part of the puzzle. These surveys continue to influence doctors today. To understand the problem, you have to understand the influence these surveys have. Doctors incomes are based on survey scores, and patients who are not given a desired prescription leave doctors a low score on their satisfaction surveys.

 The Opioid Crisis: Behind the Scenes

An article published in The Fix explained the behind the scenes in hospital emergency rooms. ER doctor of osteopathic medicine Gerald O’Malley opened up about what he considers to be the biggest culprit in the opioid crisis. With over 25 year of experience, he understands the depth of the epidemic from a medical point of view.

The culprit is the hospital satisfaction surveys mandated by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). CMS is a government organization that dictates payment for medical surveys and sets the agenda for the entire insurance industry.

The problem with these surveys is that they contradict the doctor-patient relationship dynamic. Instead of the relationship being about trust and integrity, it becomes about the doctor pleasing the patient for improved survey scores. The physician no longer is an adviser, but a corporate spokesperson. Hospital administrations hand out scripts to memorize and recite.

“We were told to say, ‘Hi, my name is So and So, and I’ll be your doctor today,’ and ‘Please let me know if there’s anything we can do to make your experience here more pleasant.’ It was incredibly insulting to me, and what you’d expect from a waiter or electronics salesman,” said O’Malley. “I like to treat people as individuals, not somebody who came to the ER to spend money.”

At Albert Einstein Medical Center in Philadelphia, O’Malley described a common scenario where staff were routinely lectured by the department chairperson. They were told their survey scores would be judged and to be aware of the consequences of low performance.

“Then, just to be dramatic, I guess, the chair quoted a line from The Godfather,” said O’Malley. “He said, ‘This is the business we’ve chosen.’ Which meant, if you don’t like it, get out.”

What the Surveys Require:

The expectations to earn a high score on these surveys have little to do with a doctor’s ability to take care of a patient.

“It had nothing to do with medical care,” said O’Malley.

Instead, the surveys instill behaviors such as having staff knock on doors and introduce themselves. Doctors also must accommodate the requests of their patients.

“We had to allow as many people into the room if they requested it. One time there were five family members; two in wheelchairs. There was literally no way for me to get to the bed. I had to play traffic cop and say, ‘I’m sorry, I understand you all want to be here but I need to perform an exam so some of you have to leave.’

Seems like an appropriate request from a doctor attempting to do their job, however administration does not see it that way.

“That kind of honest, blunt conversation was frowned upon by the administration. They don’t practice medicine so they don’t understand that it’s fucking impossible to try to talk to someone about anything sensitive. They may not want their family members to know what drugs they’ve taken. But asking everybody to leave is uncomfortable.”

In addition, these surveys request that medical personnel sit during consultations. Studies show that sitting down makes customers feel like their physician is with them longer. That sounds manipulative because it is, but O’Malley says the point is to give customers the perception of good care. Moods matter too.  Medical personnel are to maintain their energetic demeanor despite physical exhaustion from working long hours.

Drug Abusers:  Doctors Struggle to Do the Right Thing

When it comes to patients seeking narcotics, their opinion of their doctor will largely relate to whether they leave with a prescription. Unfortunately, doing the right thing in this situation can negatively affect a doctor’s survey results and stir up conflict.

“They’d walk in and say, ‘I need two milligrams of Dilaudid 4 with 25 milligrams of Phenergan,’ and, ‘Come on, chop, chop, let’s go. Snap to it.’ Or they’d say, ‘I’m going home now, so I need a prescription for 50 tablets of oxycodone.’ After looking up their records in the computer, I’d have to say, ‘Hang on, you just got a prescription for 50 tablets of oxycodone last week.’

“Then suddenly, you’re in a confrontation. The patient is yelling ‘I want to speak to your boss!’ If it’s 2:30 in the morning, I was the most senior person there. In those circumstances I knew this was somebody abusing oxycodone or selling it in a school playground somewhere. So then it’s ‘What do I do now?’ Did I really want to deal with this for the next two weeks, having to explain why this guy got so pissed off and gave me bad survey numbers?”

In situations like these, doing the right things becomes a difficult decision. It is easy to see why doctors sometimes choose the easier route of prescribing the requested meds. Emergency room visits are skyrocketing because of lack of healthcare. Many addicts go to ERS because they are open 24 hours.

“I had a guy show up at three in the morning with a herpes outbreak. He said, ‘I need Acyclovir and Zovirax cream.’ Okay, that made sense. But then he said, ‘I need something for the pain—Percocet or Vicodin or Dilaudid.’ I go, ‘Dude, you’ve got herpes. It’s not like a broken leg.’”

Making Difficult Decisions

When the patient is denied their prescription, they  may soar into a roaring fit, demanding to speak to higher authority and provoking further conflict. Sadly, it is easier for some doctors to decide to not do what is right, but what is easier. After all, their survey scores are sent to the CMS who use those scores to distribute reimbursements.

“Look,” said O’Malley, “we have certain metrics we have to meet. If CMS doesn’t like our scores, then, guess what? They’re not going to reimburse us. We’re going to be out money.”

Even when doctors tighten up on prescribing painkillers, it leaves behind those who need them most: chronic pain sufferers. Dr. O’Malley admits when a chronic pain sufferer comes into the ER late at night requesting a prescription for an opioid, it puts him in a difficult position.

“I’ve never seen them before. I don’t know if the stuff they’re saying is true. I don’t want to see people in pain but I have a social responsibility not to contribute to this opioid epidemic. They say, ‘I don’t care about your social responsibility. I want my narcotics NOW! If I don’t get them I’m going to slam you on your evaluation.’”

Administering Narcan

When it comes to administering Narcan (naloxone), Dr. O’Malley sees the increase availability of Narcan as a positive force in the opioid epidemic. When doctors revive patients, they often become belligerent with medical personnel.

“They jump off the bed, and run out of the ER. That is terrifying. Narcan is only going to last 20 to 30 minutes. If they overdosed on opioids like methadone or oxycodone they’re going to go back into respiratory arrest, or pass out at the top of a staircase, or get behind the wheel of a car.”

Sadly, the epidemic is only getting worse.  The worse part, O’Malley says, is having to tell families their children have died because of an overdose. Therefore, despite the consequences of bad survey scores, it is important all doctors take a stand in preventing the amount of overdoses reported annually in the United States. They must do the right thing.

Every 19 minutes, someone dies from opioids alone. The opioid crisis is complex and it may take time to figure out the right solution; however that does not mean you should give up. Treatment is critical and if you or someone you know is currently struggling, the time is now to seek treatment. Do not wait. Seek treatment today.

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Nearly 1.5 Million People Arrested for ‘Drug Abuse’ In 2015, FBI Says

Nearly 1.5 Million People Arrested for 'Drug Abuse' In 2015, FBI Says

Author: Shernide Delva

President Obama has granted clemency to hundreds of inmates in prison for nonviolent drug crimes. However, the War on Drugs is still very much alive.  In fact, last week a crime report released by the FBI revealed that law enforcement made nearly 1.5 million “drug abuse” arrests last year.

FBI Report: “2015 Crime in the United States.”

The FBI Uniform Crime Reporting Program report, titled “2015 Crime in the United States,” marked 1,488,707 total arrests for drug abuse for that year. “Drug abuse” is defined in the report as the sale, trafficking, and possession of narcotics. The FBI noted that the report reflects the number arrests, not the number of individuals.

When we break this down this into percentages, the numbers reveal close to 83.9% of drug arrests were for mere possession. Only 16.1% were due to drug sales or manufacturing, and of the arrests for possession, marijuana possession made up 38.6%.

The Washington Post elaborated stating that in 2015, there were over 1,500 arrests per day for marijuana possession. Following marijuana on the list were “other dangerous non-narcotic drugs” (20.2%), and heroin or cocaine and their derivatives (19.9%).

It should come to no one’s surprise that the U.S. prison system is full of people incarcerated for non-violent drug crimes like possession. Substance abuse arrests are more common than property crimes (1,463,213), drunk driving (1,089,171) and “other assaults” (1,081,019) trailing slightly behind. Crimes like murder and non-negligent manslaughter pale in comparison (11,092).

Shifting the War on Drugs Mindset

While efforts are being made to change the War on Drugs mindset, it is a slow process at best. There have been gradual shifts towards placing non-violent drug offenders in treatment rather than in prison. This eliminates the need for excessively long sentences due to drug possession.

Furthermore, President Obama has gained extensive media attention for granting 673 clemencies for non-violent offenders during his two terms so far. Many of these prisoners were serving life sentences.

“While I expect that the President will continue to grant commutations through the end of this administration, the individualized nature of this relief highlights the need for bipartisan criminal justice reform legislation, including reforms that address excessive mandatory minimum sentences,” said White House Counsel Neil Eggleston in a statement last month. “Only the passage of legislation can achieve the broader reforms needed to ensure our federal sentencing system operates more fairly and effectively in the service of public safety.”

While there have been significant efforts to approach the addiction epidemic through treatment, the reality is hundred – if not thousands—of Americans are arrested by law enforcement for something as simple as marijuana possession.Drug trafficking is a common offense.  The controversy splits between whether or not the government should have this level of control when it comes to drug criminalization.

The Prescription Drug Epidemic

Furthermore, prescription drug abuse is one of the major problems in the drug world today. So many people received these prescriptions legally through their doctors and are not dependent upon them. The U.S Department of Health estimates that more than 50% of Americans take at least one prescribed pill a day. These people eventually turn to drugs like heroin because of the cheap high that heroin provides. Therefore, sales of illegal narcotics in the black market have soared. The problem is as complex as the solution. What should the next approach be to the addiction epidemic?

Overall, the amount of arrests for drug possession is still at an extremely high number. How should the government be approaching drug arrests? At the end of the day, addiction is a disease. Treatment should be the first approach, not criminalization. Please seek help for your addiction before it is too late. We can get you on the right track. Call today.

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Fentanyl Maker Donates $500,000 to Anti-Pot Legalization Campaign

Fentanyl Maker Donates $500,000 to Anti-Pot Legalization Campaign Author: Shernide Delva

A pharmaceutical company that manufactures a form of the painkiller fentanyl made a $500,000 contribution towards an anti-pot legalization campaign. Pro-marijuana reform advocates believe the company may be trying to “kill a non-pharmaceutical market for marijuana in order to line their own pockets.”

It would be hard to imagine a more controversial donor than Insys Therapeutics Inc. The company, based in Chandler, Arizona, makes a fentanyl sublingual spray called Subsys. Many argue that drug companies like Insys Therapeutics Inc., are eager to keep cannabis illegal to dominate the market with their often dangerous and addictive drugs. The donation from Insys Therapeutics Inc. makes up more than a third of all the funds raised by the group. Advocates for marijuana legalization criticized the contribution, citing a variety of legal issues around the company Insys.

Advocates for marijuana legalizations criticized the contribution, citing a variety of legal issues around the company Insys.

“[Our opponents] are now funding their campaign with profits from the sale of opioids—and maybe even the improper sale of opioids,” said J.P. Holyoak, chairman of the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol.

“We hope that every Arizonan understands that Arizonans for Responsible Drug Policy is now a complete misnomer. Their entire campaign is tainted by this money. Any time an ad airs against Proposition 205, the voters should know that it was paid for by highly suspect Big Pharma actors.”

In addition to selling Subsys, Insys Therapeutics Inc. has developed Syndros, a synthetic version of THC, the active ingredient in marijuana. The drug received approval from the FDA in July 2016 for the treatment of AIDS and cancer patients.

Still, while the contribution is a victory for the opposition, the initiative itself remains a contest for either side to claim. A recent poll found that 50% of Arizona voters favor

While the contribution is a victory for the opposition, the initiative itself remains a contest for either side to claim. A recent poll discovered 50 percent of registered Arizona voters favor legalization, 40 percent oppose the measure, and 10 percent are undecided

Insys said in a statement that its opposition to the legalization of cannabis was “because it fails to protect the safety of Arizona’s citizens, and particularly its children.”

Furthermore, there have been studies revealing some negative health effects of marijuana. Some of these studies link marijuana to a variety of side effects.

In a report from the American Medical Association, they stated:

“Heavy cannabis use in adolescence causes persistent impairments in neurocognitive performance and IQ, and use is associated with increased rates of anxiety, mood and psychotic thought disorders.”

Many in opposition to marijuana legalization believe the drug can be addictive for some people. Also, some worry about the easy-access child may have to the drug if legalized.

Proposition 205: The Final Verdict

On November 8, 2016, Arizona residents will vote on the ballot regarding Proposition 205:

  • A “yes” vote supports this measure to legalize the possession and consumption of marijuana by persons who are 21 years of age or older.
  • A “no” vote opposes this measure to legalize the possession and consumption of marijuana by persons who are 21 years of age or older.

Marijuana legalization will continue to be a hot topic across the country.  Many believe marijuana legalization would put a strain on the recovery community. Still, when it comes to sobriety, it is up to the individual to commit to the lifestyle of recovery. If you are struggling with any form of addiction, legal or illegal, we can help. Call toll-free today.

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