Author: Justin Mckibben
New legislation is being processed and approved all over America with the intention of irradiating the increasing opioid epidemic, with officials teaming up across parties to participate in the discussion and development of initiatives to put the opportunities out there for saving and changing lives of addicts across the nation.
Now Florida has a new law that will undoubtedly help with the threat of overdose deaths. Republican Governor Rick Scott signed off on a new pieces of legislation that will put the power of the opioid overdose antidote in the hands of the people who need it most, which stands to have a pretty legitimate impact on the vast recovery community in the area.
With a Republican majority, the fight against the mounting and disturbing mortality rate has been a bipartisan battle. This month Florida joins the ranks of 28 other states, both conservative and liberal, with similar bills being approved to make naloxone more accessible, also known as Narcan (opioid overdose antidote).
Behind Bill HB-751
On June 10th2015, just this past week, Rick Scott signed off on a new piece of legislation that will give first responders, caregivers, and patients in Florida the authority to prescribe and administer naloxone, a pure antidote to opioid overdose.
Bill HB-751, AKA the Emergency Treatment for Opioid Overdose Act, was ratified recently and authorizes healthcare providers and pharmacies to prescribe and dispense naloxone to patients and caregivers, who can then administer the drug to anyone who they think, in good faith, is experiencing an opiate-related overdose.
The bill has been sponsored by Pensacola Senator Greg Evers, and Representatives Julio Gonzalez of Venice and Doc Renuart of Ponte Vedra Beach. It has been aimed at alleviating Florida’s overdose death rate, which now is 11th-highest in the country.
The important difference created by the Emergency Treatment for Opioid Overdose Act is the same that sets it and other bills which extend the access of naloxone to third parties apart is that it offers civil liability to caregivers and others who may end up administering the drug.
What does it mean?
It means a person attempting to save a life with this overdose antidote is protected from being held responsible in case something were to go wrong, so the individual will not face legal ramifications for any adverse effects that could be argued as caused by administering naloxone.
This has been a matter of some debate, considering that many ponder how many lives may or may not be saved if healthcare providers are afraid to administer a medication which could mean the difference between death or recovery for an addict at the edge of oblivion.
Acknowledging the Epidemic Every Day
Where does this change come from?
Well harm reduction has already been gaining some serious ground in this discussion, and for these reforms in policy to be effective and encouraged people have to acknowledge the epidemic every day.
A report from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) revealed overdose deaths involving heroin have nearly quadrupled from 2000-2013, and keeping with statistics of epidemic outbreak patterns, it’s likely the numbers in 2015 are much higher. There are already reports from several states flooding in about severe overdose rates just half-way through the year.
As the opiate issue becomes increasingly calamitous, more states are likely to develop programs to make naloxone more accessible.
That is welcome news, especially considering the change in public opinion. Almost exactly 1 year ago we reported on the Governor of Maine Paul LePage vetoing a similar bill that had passed in 2013, calling the overdose antidote an “excuse to stay addicted” and openly admitting that he would oppose future legislation to make naloxone more accessible.
On the other end, October of 2014 Staten Island was handing out Narcan kits all over the place trying to fight the growing epidemic. Illinois law makers even debated just this past March about making overdose antidotes available to school nurses given the overdose deaths of students in the area.
The concept has never been completely cut and dry, but it seems like the overall opinion is shifting a bit, and Florida has made its move.
For a state with such a thriving recovery community, especially South Florida which is often referred to as the recovery capitol of the nation, it only makes sense to have more resources for health care providers to… ya know, provide healthcare… duh!
Saving a life shouldn’t be something people are afraid to do. What sense would it make to expect addiction specialists, who strive to save addicts and help them rehabilitate, to just let an addict die from fear of legal punishment?
I wouldn’t be here today if doctors were afraid to use anti-overdose medications, so I support empowering physicians to save more lives. Sure regulation and proper training should definitely be in place, but you don’t clip the wings off of a guardian angel. Why take the weapons away from soldiers on the front line?
Overdose death and addiction have destroyed enough lives already, and they continue to hurt people everywhere. Now more methods are becoming available to help those who are hurting, and a healthy future is much closer than you think. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135
By Cheryl Steinberg
In Bangor, Maine and its surrounding areas, a team has come together with a three-pronged strategy for attacking opiate addiction and one aspect is to get rid of methadone as a maintenance treatment.
The approach, which came together after 6 months of several community members and agencies meeting on the subject of the opioid problem in their state, doesn’t wish to rid addiction treatment of supportive medication, though; they’re looking to shift from the use of methadone to that of Suboxone.
In recent months, there has been much debate about the use of methadone and, specifically, the replacing of methadone with alternatives, such as Suboxone, for opioid dependence and addiction.
Gov. Paul LePage proposed in his two-year budget plan that he would end methadone treatment for recipients of MaineCare, the state- and federally-funded health coverage system for qualifying individuals, and switch their treatment over to Suboxone. There is pushback from many treatment and health care providers in the area, who warn that addiction treatment isn’t as simple as switching one drug for another.
Three-pronged Approach in Maine Rids Methadone from Addiction Treatment
Bangor Sen. Geoff Gratwick has offered a work-around concerning this debate. His proposal is for a pilot program that would test the efficacy of using drug treatments other than methadone to address opioid addiction. In this pilot project, test sites would involve primary care providers outside of Bangor and would also offer peer support. The senator was inspired by the work of a Bangor group that studied, discussed, and scrutinized drug abuse and addiction in the city.
This ‘group’ is a committee made up of residents, medical providers, treatment specialists, and law enforcement officials put in the hard work for a six month period in order to come up with a strategy to address drug abuse and addiction in Bangor.
Theirs is a three-pronged approach, meaning that the plan emphasizes three key focus areas. The first aspect would be to encourage better prescribing practices when it comes to pain medications in order to reduce the supply of opiates. The second aspect is to evaluate how cases of addiction are treated in emergency rooms, specifically in cases of overdose, in which the patient the practice is to merely send them home after being stabilized; the group suggests transitional steps for such cases. And the third aspect – and incentive for the bill – is to look at alternatives to methadone.
Gratwick’s bill is getting some support because it “looks at the whole person,” allows for treatment closer to home, offers a support system to those receiving treatment, as well as holds participants accountable – an important life skill to learn for those who deal with addiction.
The pilot project aims to set up one or two test sites that are at least 30 miles from already-existing methadone clinics. This way, clients can remain close to their families and jobs so that they can reintegrate or continue to be a part of their communities, which is one of the Department of Health and Human Services’ (DHHS) main goals when it comes to substituting in the Suboxone plan. Furthermore, it will save the state monies on transportation for methadone patients, which can instead go toward paying for the pilot project.
This comprehensive approach is certainly worthy of a look and, moreover, of support. It’s a smart way to plow right on through the competing arguments about what’s the best approach to treatment. Instead of being polarized – and therefore getting nothing done – the plan would be a proactive approach to addressing the opioid epidemic in and around Bangor. Who knows? It may spread to the rest of the state and even to other states.
The project is able to identify what system and supports need to be in place for the best chance of success, which makes it a step in the right direction.
If you or a loved one are struggling with addiction or have become dependent on maintenance drugs, such as methadone or Suboxone, treatment is available for these exact situations. Healing and successful recovery are possible with the right treatment and education. 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.
By Cheryl Steinberg
I just celebrated two years of sobriety, being clean and sober from all mood and mind-altering substances, save for caffeine and nicotine (nicotine-free now for 6 months). In my addiction, I used and abused anything I could get my hands on: from alcohol to painkillers to benzos to even sleeping pills. I would say that my true DOC was opiates, painkillers and later, heroin.
My love affair began with a drug called Tramadol, also known as Ultram and Ultracet. It had been prescribed to me for a legitimate pain condition and, at the time, I was told it was a ‘safe’ drug, meaning that it had a low rate of physical dependence amongst those to whom it’s prescribed. I was told it was a “non-narcotic opioid,” not really knowing what that meant. I thought it sounded good, though and trusted my physician whole-heartedly.
What I found, however, from taking Tramadol, was that it made me feel good. You know, that certain euphoric high that illicit drugs and narcotic painkillers give you. I also noticed that, if I took more than was prescribed, I felt even better; higher.
Around this time, I had graduated from an institute of higher learning and was living in the college town. This wasn’t a very big town nor was there much to do, except hit the bars and pubs along Main Street. I honestly wasn’t that big of a boozer anymore; alcohol had stopped ‘working’ for me a while back, while I was still in college. It just didn’t sit well with me physically and I couldn’t drink enough to get drunk (why else do people drink, amirite?).
Then one evening, when I had plans to meet friends at a local pub, I took my Tramadol beforehand. I ordered a beer with the rest of them, not expecting to be able to finish it. This time was different, though. I could drink, and drink some more. The alcohol didn’t upset my stomach! And, as an added bonus, I was pleasantly high and drunk, due to the synergistic effect of the Tramadol and alcohol together. This was to be my new jam for a while.
But ‘a while’ soon passed and the drug combination stopped working. Even with the tramadol, I wasn’t able to drink alcohol anymore. But, you know what? I didn’t even matter. I had my new love: painkillers. And, in love I was!
The rest of my story doesn’t really matter for the purpose of this article. I just wanted to illustrate how my addiction to narcotic painkillers and heroin began. It’s been my experience that there are several other people like me out there, who thought they were being prescribed a relatively safe drug with no potential for addiction only later to find themselves hooked.
Others in recovery don’t seem to know what Tramadol is and that is worrisome to me. I want to get the word out that Tramadol is not something to be taken lightly – both literally and figuratively.
Always always always be a self-advocate when it comes to your health and when dealing with your healthcare providers. Let them know you are concerned about taking certain drugs, such as narcotic painkillers and benzos, if they want to prescribe a drug of these classes to you. There are alternatives to narcotic medications. In the case that your condition requires something more potent, say, you’ve undergone surgery, then don’t be a martyr. There are safe ways to take these drugs. Always follow the prescription instructions. Talk to your sober supports and sponsor. Have someone trustworthy hold your prescription for you. Whatever it takes.
So, is tramadol safe for people in recovery? It’s not necessarily a black-and-white issue with a clear-cut answer. Tramadol is an opioid – which just means that it is a man-made opiate (heroin). If you are struggling with prescription painkillers or any other substance, help is available. Call toll-free 1-800-951-6135 to speak with an Addiction Specialist. You are not alone.