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Author: Justin Mckibben
You may remember back 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 programs
By the end of 2016, Walgreens had expanded access to the opioid overdose antidote without the requirement of a prescription to 33 states and the District of Columbia. The Narcan opioid overdose antidote, also known by the generic name Naloxone, is a nasal spray that is utilized all over the country as a means to revive someone experiencing an opioid overdose.
Now, this life-saving compound is becoming even more accessible, as Walgreens is announcing the Narcan opioid overdose antidote will now be available at all of its over 8,000 pharmacy locations!
Pharmacies Stepping Up to the State of Emergency
This new move to combat the opioid epidemic comes at a crucial time. The epidemic continues to claim lives every day, with recovery advocates and government officials rallying for more resources to fight the problem.
Today, Thursday, October 26, 2017, the nation is expecting President Donald Trump to officially declare the opioid crisis a public health emergency at a scheduled White House event.
According to Rick Gates, Vice President of Walgreens,
“By stocking Narcan in all our pharmacies, we are making it easier for families and caregivers to help their loved ones by having it on hand in case it is needed.”
The company offers Narcan opioid overdose antidote without a prescription in 45 states and is willing to work with the remaining states to make to include them.
Of course, the fight for more availability of Narcan and Naloxone has been going on for some time. However, it seems as the country is calling for more sweeping action from government officials; pharmacies are taking it as a call to action themselves. Rick Gates went on to say,
“As a pharmacy, we are committed to making Narcan more accessible in the communities we serve.”
Walgreens also says it will inform customers about the Narcan opioid overdose antidote if they receive drugs with more than 50 morphine milligram equivalents (MME). This is actually a recommendation from the CDC.
It isn’t just Walgreens either. CVS pharmacy has expanded access to Narcan and other products that contain naloxone. CVS reportedly has been offering prescription-free naloxone in up to 43 states as of last month. CVS pharmacies have said that its locations “in most communities have naloxone on hand and can dispense it the same day or ordered for the next business day.”
Big Pharma’s Role
Big Pharma wholesaler AmerisourceBergen is also helping in these efforts. AmerisourceBergen is now distributing Narcan demo devices at no cost to Walgreens pharmacists. These demo devices will help with instructing patients on how to administer the medication safely and effectively.
Robert Mauch, Executive Vice President & Group President, Pharmaceutical Distribution & Strategic Global Sourcing for AmerisourceBergen, states,
“At AmerisourceBergen, we strive to provide our customers the highest quality care and support so they can ultimately enhance the lives of patients in their communities,”
“We recognize the important role we play in addressing the opioid epidemic, and our collaboration with Walgreens is another key milestone to supply our customers with access to lifesaving initiatives and emergency medications that can help keep individuals safe across the country.”
Ironically, AmerisourceBergen just so happens to be one of the three largest drug distributors that were mentioned in the recent 60 Minutes interview with ex-DEA agent Joe Rannazzisi. In the segment that has since caused a major uproar, Rabbazzisi said companies including AmerisourceBergen controlled probably 85%- 90% of drugs that went “downstream” and ended up on the streets.
This might not be what Mauch meant by “recognize the important role we play”, but at least it seems like AmerisourceBergen is taking steps to become part of a solution.
Meanwhile, Adapt Pharma, the manufacturer of Narcan Nasal Spray, celebrates this action by Walgreens to expand naloxone and Narcan access. Seamus Mulligan, CEO at Adapt Pharma states,
“This action is an important milestone and we applaud Walgreens initiatives to improve access to Narcan Nasal Spray in communities across the U.S.,”
“This effort, combined with the opportunity for patients and caregivers to obtain Narcan Nasal Spray without an individual prescription in 45 states, is critical in combating this crisis.”
America is working hard to find the right path on the road to recovery from the devastating opioid crisis. It is crucial that we make every possible resource available to help save lives. With opioid overdose killing an estimated 91 people every day, the need for this life-saving medication could not be more evident.
Beyond reversing the effects of an overdose, there is more we need to do. While having access to Narcan and naloxone can help tremendously, we also need to promote recovery and addiction treatment resources. Preservation of life is important, but giving people the help they need to live a happier and healthier life should also be a priority in the fight to overcome the opioid crisis. Palm Partners Recovery Center believes in actively providing the best in innovative and holistic treatment opportunities, to help transform lives. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, we want to help. Please call toll-free now.
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
Author: Justin Mckibben
In case you have never read one of my stories on Ohio, I am a born and raised Buckeye. While living away from home for a few years I have taken every opportunity to read about progress in my birth state and spread the word. I have also had to write some disheartening stories that make me afraid for the people I grew up with and the neighborhoods I knew my whole life. However, when a new drug hits Ohio and causes shattering damage I have to step up and say something.
Right now the entire country is fighting a hard fight against opiate and heroin addiction. Overdose deaths tear families and communities apart. Law makers and law enforcement reel trying to keep up. Meanwhile every day a new drug seems to crop up and reap more havoc in cities on all sides of the nation. This time we see a surge of overdoses in the Tri-state area that are truly terrifying, especially considering a new even more powerful substance is suspected.
New Drug Named Carfentanil
This new drug is suggested to be incredibly more potent than any other forms of opiate substances on the street. Carfentanil is said to be:
- 10,000 times stronger than morphine
- 100 times stronger than Fentanyl
- Used as an animal tranquilizer
Officials are saying this is the MOST potent opiate out there. In that case, this is beyond horrifying! Data has already concluded that Fentanyl alone is 40-100 times stronger than heroin. Now they are suggesting that Carfentanil is 100 times stronger than Fentanyl?! It is almost difficult to even comprehend a new drug could possibly be 10,000 times more powerful than pure heroin!
And that last note- this new drug is a sedative used on large animals. Not just any animals, we’re talking bears and elephants!
New Drugs Deadly Dose
Deaths across Hamilton County are rising at an alarming rate and many suspect Carfentanil as the common factor. This drug is actually being used in combination with heroin and amplifying the impact. So far cases have already been reported in:
In just 9 hours in Columbus authorities counted at least 10 overdoses possibly connected to Carfentanil. 2 were fatal.
During just 3 days in Akron authorities suspect Carfentanil could be linked to 25 overdoses. 4 were fatal.
Health officials and county leaders spoke out at the Hamilton County Health Department urgently issuing a public health warning created by this new drug mixture. Officials state that in just a few days there was a massive increase in drug-related emergency room visits.
In case you weren’t already freaked out- it is not just injecting this drug or ingesting it intentionally that puts people are a critical risk. The Hamilton County Heroin Coalition is also urging area police not to conduct field tests on heroin because Carfentanil can be absorbed through the skin or even inhaled.
As if that wasn’t enough, Dr. Lakshmi Sammarco, Hamilton County Coroner, warns-
“Narcan may not save you from this one,”
Narcan (or generic Naloxone) is the opiate overdose antidote. To say even this valuable resource may not actually be able to save you from an overdose with Carfentanil is a frightening concept. Tim Ingram, Hamiton County Health Commissioner, said with a troubling hint of realism-
“This is clearly going to… kill a lot of people.”
People often say the truth hurts. This is one truth that is devastating to consider. Knowing that there are so many struggling addicts in these areas is terrifying and tragic, because one can only imagine how many will unknowingly fall victim to this vicious new element in the already treacherous world of drug addiction.
The next question is- where else is this stuff being slipped into street drugs and poisoning people?
This does not have to be the end. Drugs are only getting more dangerous, but effective treatment is also becoming more holistic. For the addict or alcoholic who still suffers there are thousands of people just like you who have recovered and who want to help you. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135
Author: Shernide Delva
On Wednesday night, CNN aired a town hall discussion on the opioid epidemic. The hour-long special was hosted by news anchor Anderson Cooper and CNN chief correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta. The discussion focused in on the root of the prescription painkiller problem, what’s being done to fight it, and unveiled personal stories from opioid users themselves.
The special is long overdue for an epidemic that is taking lives away each day. In 2014, painkiller abuse accounted for more than 28,000 deaths. That is more deaths per year than in automobile accidents. Even worse, those rates have tripled since 2000, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Close to two million Americans in 2014 have abused or become addicted to these drugs.
In attendance was former NFL quarterback Ray Lewis, who shared his personal story of becoming addicted to opioid painkillers after a football injury. Unfortunately, stories like Lewis are all too common in sports. Lewis’s addiction worsened to the point that he was eventually taking 1,400 painkillers a month.
“I was a functioning addict,” he said. He described how he would make regular TV appearances for the New York Jets and then rush off to take 15 pills and then another 15 on the way home.
“I tell my story, and I’m not ashamed because I think opiates have changed the face of what people think are addicts,” he said during the town hall. “I’m an eight-year NFL veteran, graduated from Rutgers University, but I’m an addict. And I will always be that way.”
Also contributing to the cause this week is Seattle rapper and songwriter Macklemore. Although he was not at the town hall meeting, Macklemore will have a documentary air on MTV about opioid abuse. Macklemore has been very open in the media about his personal struggle with addiction. President Obama and Macklemore appeared in a Your Weekly Address video to talk about the problem.
“This week, the House passed several bills about opioids, but unless they also make actual investments in more treatment, it won’t get Americans the help they need,” Obama said. “Deaths from opioid overdoses have tripled since 2000. A lot of the time, they’re from legal drugs prescribed by a doctor.”
Macklemore supported Obama’s pitch with a personal request.
“I know recovery isn’t easy or quick, but along with the 12-step program, treatment has saved my life,” Macklemore said. “Recovery works — and we need our leaders in Washington to fund it and people to know how to find it.”
Macklemore first opened up about his struggles with addiction two years ago. He says he almost ruined his music career because of his addiction. Macklemore found that using drugs hindered him as an artist because when he would use, his mind would go blank.
How Do We Prevent This?
Macklemore has since recovered and hopes to spread the message of hope to others. But for many addicts, the future is uncertain. One of the questions asked by an audience member was how to stop doctors from prescribing these addictive drugs.
Dr. Leana Wen, Baltimore City Health Commissioner, responded by explaining that doctors need to “own the problem.” She said they need to be aware of what is going on. On the same note, we as the consumers need to be aware of the potential for abuse these medications have in order to make a more informed decision.
Dr. Drew explained how he believes doctors are also prescribing opioids for too long.
“These things are prescribed for acute intervention, not long-term use,” he said. “And if it is going for more than two weeks, both doctor and patient better really think about it.”
Dr. Sanjay Gupta highlighted in the discussion that 91% of people who overdose go back to their doctor and are given those same prescriptions for opioids. This is a problem that needs to be addressed.
Another topic raised was the concept of America being a “culture of consumption.” Are we simply too reliant on seeking a pill to solve all of our problems? Dr. Wen elaborated stating:
“We have this culture of giving a pill for every problem, this culture of a quick fix, and that is something we have to change.”
Whether you believe in that opinion or not, this discussion is critical in the fight against opioid abuse. Each and every day, someone is afraid to open up about their addiction because of the stigma surrounding it. Because of the stigma, their addiction is kept a secret, and some never seek help.
Do not be afraid to come forward with you addiction. You are not alone. Many people are facing the same challenges with addiction as you are. We can help. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135.
Author: Justin Mckibben
Being someone born and raised in the Buckeye State, and a recovering addict/alcoholic from Columbus, Ohio, I am always happy to see change going on back home, and it seems as though the state is taking new action to try and fight back against prescription drug abuse.
I’ve said it before, living miles away I still bleed scarlet and grey. I had personally abused prescription opiate painkillers in Ohio for years, and I know people who still suffer back in the Capital City. About this time last year statistics showed that Ohio had the 12th highest drug overdose mortality rate in the country, and these numbers are growing every day.
Ohio’s prescription drug abuse, alongside its opioid problem as a whole, have been identified as the state’s leading public health epidemic, and now Ohio officials are putting in a new effort to put a stop to these statistics.
Smart Rx Campaign
The Ohio State Medical Association (OSMA) was created a new statewide public health campaign with the intentions of enlisting and supporting local physicians and hospital systems in the state in order to seek out further solutions to prescription drug and opioid abuse.
The Smart Rx Campaign (Smart Medicine and Responsible Treatment) is set to take place over the course of several years, featuring various strategies for spreading the word, including:
- State-based physicians and other health providers in public service announcements
- Health providers being included in community outreach efforts
- Increasing patient education directives
- Offering up-to-date training on proper prescribing procedures through online sessions
- Looking for healthier alternatives instead of pills to treat pain
According to Mary J. Wall, MD the president of the Ohio State Medical Association, the key component to the Smart Rx campaign will have doctors take direct action in regard to reducing the amount of pain medication and other drugs that they prescribe to patients. It seems the backbone of the program is based on the idea of limiting the amounts of prescriptions, and keeping the physicians accountable for their tactics of treatment.
Working Together as a State
Some may be familiar with the program that Governor John Kasich has created in regard to his own strides to address prescription and opioid addiction issues. The opiate epidemic in Ohio was at the grassroots level with the governor’s Start Talking program.
The Start Talking program was designed to give parents, guardians, educators and community leaders the utensils to start the conversation with Ohio’s youth about the importance of living healthy, drug-free lives. The Start Talking website boasts that Ohio has made attacking the drug problem a priority since 2011 when adopting a multi-pronged approach to fight drug abuse. Efforts are already ongoing in attempt to:
- Promote public and professional education
- Ramp up enforcement and interdiction efforts on our highways
- Expand treatment options and recovery supports so those struggling
Governor Kasich stated,
“We can do more to help physicians identify alternatives to prescription drug, as well as educate patients about the dangers of improperly taking medication.”
“Our physicians, they are on the front line of this battle. And we know that working together is absolutely critical to our success.”
Business Impact Zone (BIZ) is the second installment of the Start Talking program that are beginning to shine even further light on the issue of prescription drug abuse by focusing on employers. Other programs associated with Start Talking include:
- 5 Minutes for Life- program led by the Ohio Highway Patrol, the Ohio National Guard and local law enforcement in partnership with high schools and the Ohio High School Athletic Association (OHSAA). Troopers, law enforcement officers and National Guard members talk to student athletes about peer-to-peer conversations to promote healthy life-styles.
- Know!- A drug prevention and awareness partnership that targets parents and caregivers of middle school students and empowers them to raise their children substance-free.
- Parents360 Rx- a component of PACT360 – Police and Communities Together, a national community education program developed by the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids. Ohio is disseminating Parents360 Rx Action Toolkits to assist parents and school leaders in hosting discussions locally to support prevention efforts in their communities.
- Building Youth Resilencey- The Office of the Ohio First Lady, in partnership with the Governor’s Office of Faith-Based Initiatives and the Departments of Aging, Job & Family Services and Mental Health & Addiction Services working to better equip kids with an empowered response to peer-pressure.
These are just a handful of ways locals can get involved in helping the Ohio community take a stand against the mounting prescription drug issue. While any state can take action, a great deal of the footwork relies on the people in the community. Most of these programs are geared toward helping the communities effected in Ohio, but these are merely opportunities that don’t make much difference if people aren’t willing to take them. The best way for Ohioans to stack the odds against opiate abuse is to make an individual contribution to the programs being built to overcome the opiate epidemic.
As always I hold out hope for my home-town, but I challenge those I know back home to get involved! I challenge every Ohioan to make a contribution; by volunteering, educating or attending programs.
When dealing with substance abuse or addiction as a whole, or even on a personal level, it takes some action to make a difference. If you want to make a difference in your life then be willing to make a change. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135.