Author: Shernide Delva
As most know by now, the opioid epidemic has reached epic proportions. In the U.S. alone, more than 15 million people abuse prescription drugs. The leading cause of accidental death in the United States are opioid overdoses, with 52,404 lethal drug overdoses in 2015.
In 2012, 259 million prescriptions were written for painkillers, such as Vicodin and OxyContin. When these drugs are abused, they present some of the same risks as heroin on the street. Furthermore, as prescription opioids are regulated, more and more people are turning to heroin making the risk of a fatal overdose even greater.
With all that said, how exactly do opioids affect the body? We wanted to explore several areas of the body and understand how opioid abuse specifically affected each area. Whether it is prescription drugs or heroin, opioids affect almost every part of your body. Long-term use can lead to permanent damage to your health. Read on further to learn how the body reacts to abuse of opioids. Treatment can put a stop to the risk and address issues that may have already arisen in the body.
The Effects of Opioid Use on the Body:
Painkillers are known to have side effects such as extreme drowsiness which can result in needing stimulant medication to counteract this effect. For example, heroin can elicit profound drowsiness. Abusers frequently experience bouts of ‘nodding off’ as they slip in and out of consciousness. Over time, the use of painkillers results in an increased risk fo major depression. Patients using painkillers for more than six months has a 50 percent greater chance of developing depressive episodes.
THE RESPIRATORY SYSTEM
Opioid overdoses can lead to a condition known as respiratory depression. It essentially means that breathing slows down significantly. The body goes into respiratory arrest and deprives the brain and body tissues of oxygen.
THE DIGESTIVE SYSTEM
Opioids affect the muscles of the digestive system making constipation common. This effect is due to the slowing of the digestive transit. The gastrointestinal motility and chronic constipation associated with opioid abuse can lead to more severe conditions such as small bowel obstruction, perforation, and resultant peritonitis. Nausea is very common among opioid users along with sudden, uncontrollable vomiting.
THE NERVOUS SYSTEM
The chronic use of opioid painkillers can lead to a syndrome that can increase your sensitivity to pain resulting in a condition known as hyperalgesia. Furthermore, opioid use may result in psychomotor impairment and an overall slowing of a person’s physical movements and loss of coordination.
THE IMMUNE SYSTEM
Opioid use affects the immune system which means you’re more vulnerable to getting illnesses or feeling under the weather. The opioid receptors regulate immunity so long-term opioid abuse can negatively affect this process.
Most people are unaware of how many opioid painkillers contain acetaminophen, the same ingredient found in Tylenol. Excessive use of these drugs can cause liver damage from toxicity. Damage to the liver is an undeniable risk to taking excessive amounts of prescription painkillers like Vicodin. When you add alcohol to the mix— as many opioid-dependent users do—it makes a risky situation, even more,
Overall, opioids affect every part of the body, and we did not even mention the psychological impacts of drug abuse. Opioid use disorder wreaks havoc on your life and the life of those around you. Do not wait for the potentially life-altering consequences of opioid abuse to take its toll. Please call to speak to a professional treatment support specialist today. Please call now.
CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135
Author: Justin Mckibben
With drug abuse being a major issue facing the nation, education is extremely important. Any hope of winning the fight against rising overdose rates and the spread of drug-related illness and death starts with making sure we have as much information as possible to make a difference. On that note, explaining prescription drug abuse is critical because prescription drug abuse is a key contributor to the state of the country today.
If we want to help people avoid prescription drug abuse, or recognize the signs and know there is help, it is important to explain the reality and the risks.
What is prescription drug abuse?
Simply put- prescription drug abuse is one of two things.
- When someone takes a medication that is not their prescription
- If someone takes their own prescription in a way not intended by a doctor or for a different reason
When you take prescription drugs properly they are usually safe. It requires a trained health care clinician, such as a doctor or nurse, to determine if the benefits of taking the medication outweigh any risks for side effects. But when abused and taken in different amounts or for different purposes than as prescribed, they affect the brain and body in ways very similar to illicit drugs.
These drugs have a close relation to morphine, or the street drug heroin. Opioids are typically for pain management. Opioid addiction has become one of the biggest problems facing the country today. Drugs such as:
These drugs are also known as “downers”. You can divide the category can be up into:
Drugs such as Zyprexa, Seroquel and Haldol are meant to reduce symptoms of mental illness.
- Benzodiazepines (Benzos)
Prescription drugs like Xanax, Klonopin, Valium and Librium.
Amytal, Numbutal and Seconal are included in a class of depressants intended as sedatives or sleeping pills.
These kinds of prescription drugs are also called “uppers” or “smart drugs” because of the increase alertness, attention and energy. They also increase heart rate and respiration. Many of these medications are used to combat conditions such as ADHD, including:
Prescription drug abuse has become a big health issue because of the various health hazards. This risk is particularly true of abusing prescription pain medications.
Who abuses prescription drugs?
When asking who are most likely to abuse prescription drugs, the answer may vary depending on the substance. Some people end up participating in prescription drug abuse due to an injury or legitimate health reason, but the “high” they can experience may lead to more frequent use and ultimately a physical dependence.
Recent studies have indicated that prescription drug abuse impacts young adults most; specifically age 18 to 25. In regards to teens, after marijuana and alcohol, prescription drugs are the most common substances of abuse by Americans age 14 and older.
Prescription drug abuse is present across all demographics, relevant to every social and economic class. Many believe this rise has largely contributed to the heroin addiction epidemic and the overdose outbreak in the past few years.
Prescription Drug Addiction Treatment
The Palm Partners Treatment Program has a design for prescription drug abuse intended to address people of all walks of life who are suffering. Personalized recovery programs are meant to work with each individual’s circumstances and symptoms to create a blueprint for the future.
Some of the signs of addiction range in severity and can affect each people differently, especially depending on the specific prescription drug. Increased tolerance is a clear cut sign of progressive physical dependence. Some indicators of prescription drug addiction may be:
- Excessive sweating
- Swelling in the arms and legs
- Chronic constipation
- Respiratory distress
- Slurred speech
- Poor concentration
- High body temperature
- High blood pressure
Treatment for prescription drug addiction includes a detox period to help combat the uncomfortable symptoms of prescription drug addiction, as well as withdrawal.
For all those who are struggling with prescription drug abuse, or even abusing other drugs or medications, there is a massive community of recovery all over the country to help you get the care you need. Treatment for prescription drug abuse can be the first and most important step, so be sure to step up.
CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135
Author: Justin Mckibben
The synthetic epidemic is one that has existed parallel to the ongoing and increasingly distressing heroin and opiate epidemic, but now a new synthetic opiate threatens to make a detrimental contribution to both sides of the troubled task of fighting these epidemics.
Synthetic Substance Problems
For a while it seemed like every other week you would hear about another synthetic form of a street drug was being marketed in corner stores and smoke-shops under clever brand disguises, or there was a new form of chemically-induced insanity like Bath Salts or Flakka with a name always stranger than the one before it. Overdoses, bizarre behaviors and even deaths escalated as a result of these unregulated and often mysteriously concocted ingredients as law enforcement struggled to keep up with constantly changing names and components.
As distributors did their best to avoid detection they changed an ingredient or two in the chemicals used to make the synthetic drugs, and this kept them slipping through loop holes and out of the grasp of law enforcement. New legislation has been proposed just to try and hone in on the problem, and many states are still stumbling trying to keep up.
This newest suspect to send a shock to the system is the synthetic opiate U-47700. In the last several decades the synthetic opiate U-47700 has generally been limited to laboratories, but is now this opiate is being “recycled” as a recreational drug on the streets.
The Trouble with U-47700
According to reports on the synthetic opiate U-47700 the drug is actually 7.5 times more powerful than morphine and can cost as low as $40 per gram! The synthetic opiate also has been reported to be abused in various ways including:
- Snorted in powder form
- Taken orally
- Injected intravenously
There have even been reports of individuals taking U-47700 rectally. At this point no matter how it is ingested, users should be aware that it comes with a great measure of danger. Most recently the synthetic opiate already sent two young adults in North Texas to the hospital, with one of the individuals in intensive care with respiratory depression.
This recent incident created such shock that it prompted the Parkland Health and Hospital System to release a statement last week desperately warning the community of the dangers of U-47700. In a Parkland Hospital press release Dr. Kristina Domanski, a toxicologist with the North Texas Poison Center stressed the nature of the drug as an experimental synthetic opiate, saying:
“This seems to be a pretty new recycling of the drug which is intended as a research drug and not for use in humans,”
This may be the first time you have ever even heard of U-47700, I know I had never heard of it… but this isn’t the first time this drug has brought some serious concerns to the table. This synthetic opiate has been linked to deaths throughout Europe, motivating Sweden and Finland to make it illegal, and back in February the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) issued a statement regarding a death in Belgium that was connected to a combination of fentanyl and U-47700.
In this statement the UNODC noted that U-47700 has,
“…effects very similar to morphine and heroin, but with a significantly shorter duration of action.”
The intensity of this synthetic opiate creates an exacerbated threat potential for overdose, respiratory depression and death.
Internet Intervenes with the Issue
Users of the synthetic opiate have shared a variety of personal experiences on online forums like Bluelight and Reddit, and one Bluelight user quoted a parent whose son died from an accidental U-47700 overdose, stating:
“He was still sitting in his chair, so I hope with all my heart that he died quickly, painlessly and without fear. He was our only child…we don’t have answers, but these chemicals are far too dangerous. Live to be old, not just 22.”
A Reddit user described watching a friend almost succumb to an overdose on U-47700, but this individual was saved be the administration of Narcan.
With all the internet testimonies of users seeking a euphoric feeling and being met with near-death experiences it is probably fair to say that these online forums are helping spread the word on this dangerous and deadly synthetic drug that is making its way from the research labs to the mainstream drug scene.
But how is this drug getting on the streets? Well, that too is the internet… as plenty of sites also advertise being able to sell research chemicals. In fact, when I searched U-47700 on Google the third site to link to was selling the synthetic opiate in powdered form for $39.99 in U.S. dollars, so it apparently isn’t that hard to get a hold of.
The question is- will people heed the warnings being shouted out across the internet and news, or will this new potent and potentially lethal substance add a new element to the demoralization and ruin caused by the opiate epidemic.
Synthetic or ‘designer’ drugs are bad enough already, and the opiate problem has only continuously gotten worse. Although this research chemical may not be as well known, it is a tremendous threat, but there is an effective rehabilitation program to help. If your or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135
(This content is being used for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted in the content is a model)
Author: Justin Mckibben
I remember a while back I had written about how some schools were venturing to start training their nursing staff how to administer naloxone, the life-saving opiate overdose antidote. There was some controversy over the concept, and many people were just not sure if this was a wise plan, and would it be sending the wrong message?
Some were actually concerned that providing this kinds of training might actually have an adverse effect on the students in these schools and that it might actually encourage opiate use.
Right now with more people becoming aware of the life-saving benefits of opiate overdose antidote drug naloxone, as well as its easy to use administration. Some communities are now going beyond the training of school staff and skipping ahead instead to teaching the kids themselves how to administer naloxone.
Empowering the Youth
Naloxone (Narcan) is a drug that helps to reverse the effects of opiate based drugs such as heroin. Naloxone has been proven to save lives, and many states have begun actively finding ways to increase access to this amazing resource in the face of a horrific opiate epidemic.
Up until recently only medical professionals could administer the drug inside the confines of a hospital, but more and more communities are doing everything they can to empower the people in their area to help on the front lines against addiction and overdose.
Jennifer Stepp is a resident of Bullitt County, Kentucky and acts as the leader of her community Opioid Addiction Team. Stepp has a 25 year old son who has struggled with addiction for most of his life, and she herself has already taught her eight-year-old daughter Audrey how to use naloxone, but she hasn’t stopped there. Stepp has announced plans to host a local workshop on November 21, 2015 to teach other children in the area how to administer naloxone. One company Evizo, which manufactures naloxone-administering devices, has already donated free kits to support this effort.
This plan has its share of strong supports, including Dr. Mina “Mike” Kalfas, a certified addiction expert in Northern Kentucky. Dr. Kalfas stated:
“This is telling them, if you do find a brother, sister, mother, uncle, not breathing, here’s something that you can do about it. These kids are realizing that drugs can kill them. This is part of an environment where they might find someone dead.”
Also in Kentucky is the action being put forth by a nonprofit organization entitled Mentoring Plus of Northern Kentucky, which rallied together for a naloxone-administering workshop last May for a group of children between the ages of 13 up to 17. The Mentoring Plus workshop was part of a 10-week drug abuse prevention program for kids.
Why So Important?
Now some people may read this and think it’s a bit extreme, but these kinds of programs are particularly crucial for states like Kentucky, which has found itself caught in the uproar of the opiate addiction epidemic. While some would say teaching children to use an overdose antidote is far too excessive, a Kentucky Health Issues Poll in 2014 revealed in Northern Kentucky nearly 26% of those surveyed knew someone with a heroin problem.
And that is just the people willing to admit it or talk about it. Not to mention countless others who are dealing with their own addictions.
So many families are plagued by the disease of addiction, and far too many children in these communities and many others are being left orphaned in the wake of this outbreak. As death rates from overdose skyrocket we can easily look around in any community and see the toll it has taken. How many children could lose a brother or sister, mother or father right in front of their eyes because of opiate addiction?
So is it wrong that some officials think we should put some knowledge or resource in the hands of children at a certain age so that given the circumstances they can intervene in a way that could save the life of their loved one if necessary?
Surely some people will not feel this is the right thing. Surely some people will worry that this sets a bad precedence, or that it is too dangerously close to condoning drug abuse… is it truly better to be safe than sorry?
I think in this case it is. Personally I think it also shows young people the gravity of the situation. Death is a very real, very common outcome from this kind of drug abuse. Maybe the best way to implement harm reduction while simultaneously providing a level of prevention means teaching young people about how quickly these drugs kill, and how they can try to help someone before it is too late.
The reality is people everywhere fight for their own lives against the disease of addiction, and life-saving drugs like naloxone could mean the difference for some to have a second chance or not. Maybe giving kids the knowledge as early as we can will help. You don’t have to suffer an overdose to choose to get help, you just have to make the choice. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135
Author: Justin Mckibben
Southeastern Indiana has been battling the prescription painkiller problem for some time, and for a second it seemed that heroin was outdoing opioids as the drug of choice and the pill issue was in decline. Then this past Wednesday news from state health officials changed all that optimism when people were informed that at least 26 people in the region were diagnosed with HIV in just a 3 month period, and most of them contracted it after injecting drugs, but not the heroin they thought they were dealing with, but Opana, another potent painkiller.
Record Numbers of HIV Cases
The first case that has been included in the outbreak in southeastern Indiana was diagnosed in early December according to the deputy commissioner and director for health outcomes at the Indiana State Department of Health Dr. Jennifer Walthall.
By January 23rd the total of newly diagnosed HIV cases jumped to 11, and in a region that typically experiences less than 5 new cases annually that was a big eye-opener. Since then, more cases have been diagnosed in several counties, and officials are troubled.
These cases, not to mention 4 others considered preliminary cases, could be the start of a whole new problem for the people of Indiana. State health officials are interviewing newly identified HIV patients and urging them to reach out to their sexual partners as well as anyone with whom they shared needles, as both forms of contact can spread the disease.
During their investigation into the outbreak, officials found those infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, had injected Opana. State health officials say it is not a common occurrence that prescription drug abuse has sparked an HIV outbreak, and Dr. Melinda Campopiano, a medical officer with the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, agreed in a statement.
“I am not aware of any similar instances like this related to this or any other specific opioid pain reliever. I am so sorry to learn this is going on.”
Opana is a drug that started its trend about 5 years ago when the makers of Oxycontin’s reformulated that drug in an attempt to make it harder to abuse. The company who makes Opana- Endo Pharmaceuticals, took similar steps, but Opana contains oxymorphone, an opioid more potent per milligram than Oxycontin, and people have continued to find ways to transform Opana pills into an injectable high.
Experts say the prevalence of Opana abuse varies across the country, but they have stated that just one or two doctors prescribing the drug in large quantities can have a drastic impact on the drugs popularity for abuse.
Kentucky, for instance, saw a spike in Opana overdose deaths in 2011 according to the executive director of the Kentucky Office for Drug Control Policy. But the issue seems resolved since the drug became tamper-resistant. In addition Kentucky closed a number of the infamous ‘pill mills’.
Health and law enforcement officials have fought back against Opana in southeastern Indiana as well, including shutting down pill mills and creating stricter enforcement on prescriptions, and statistics showed that the number of prescriptions had dropped.
But at the same time, heroin use in the area has raised according to Indiana State Police officials.
The recent outbreak has brought the reality of drug abuse to many peoples front door for the first time. That being said, there’s nothing specific about this drug to link it to HIV according to expert opinion. Sharing needles, regardless of the substance, creates the risk of contracting whatever disease the previous user had.
Then again, whenever anyone injects a substance such as Opana, bigger wounds and more bleeding can ensue, which can increase the chance of contamination.
Now, those in health care must bring the message of the dangers of needle sharing to the general public, and state health officials are actively trying to spread the word about the importance of cleaning needles. Here again we see the importance of a harm-reduction approach. Officials are now providing harm-reduction kits to those who use drugs intravenously, and encouraging them to seek treatment.
While the efforts seem well planned, many believe that the outbreak has just begun, and that local clinics should be prepared to test patients in the region worried about contracting HIV through sexual partners, given the nature of the illness. In the near future many bodies will have to come together to help care for those affected by this outbreak, including churches, clinics and counselors. But the public health care system will need to be there to support the community, because some expect the outbreak is likely to impact far too many too soon.
HIV and other infectious diseases are just example one of the countless devastating side-effects of drug abuse. Too many lives are either destroyed or ended because of drugs and alcohol, but there is always a way out for those willing to seek it. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135