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Is Meditation the Best Medication for Opiate Addiction?

Is Meditation the Best Medication for Opiate Addiction?

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

Author: Justin Mckibben

Mindfulness and meditation is an amazing resource for healing on a holistic level, especially for those struggling with substance abuse. Even basic meditation techniques can have a strong enough influence to ease severe pain in arthritis and asthma patients. Meditation reduces anxiety and other symptoms of depression, and it actually improves heart health.

Meditation is such a powerful resource that some speculate it works far better than conventional methods such as medication and psychotherapy for many, if not all of these conditions. So it is no surprise that a new study has found that mindfulness and meditation can be the catalyst behind re-creating happiness in the lives of opioid drug addicts.

The Meaning of Mindfulness

Mindfulness is not as intense and unachievable as some may think, but it is not always so cut and dry. It involves a person taking time to relax, and to become aware and in tune with the present moment. To be connected with the here and now. Simple aspects of a moment are part of the awareness, such as:

  • Sounds
  • Smells
  • Surrounding environment

Meditation and mindfulness come from a sense of calm when a person is focusing on their emotions and thoughts.

By considering the things we think about and our emotions in the context of the present, people become better able to achieve wellness. This is possible because mindfulness requires that we approach our emotions and out thoughts without judgment. Without the concept of objective opinions and staying in the moment, meditation helps us find happiness in the present moment.

According to a recent study, this kind of present moment thinking without judging our thoughts or feelings as ‘right or wrong’ is exactly what people in the grips of opioid drug addiction need.

Opiates and Dopamine

Whether abusing heroin, oxycodone or some other morphine-derived drug, many opiate addicted individuals often experience a rush of the neurotransmitter dopamine during use as the drug binds to opioid-sensitive receptors in the brain. This causes a high full of pleasure caused by dopamine, and the brain translates that pleasure with whatever environment it occurs in, so opiate drug abuse conditions the mind to rely on the drug.

Thus, the brain develops a craving for those feelings again, and with continued use of opiates the individual experiences a weaker effect from the dopamine. As a result people typically seek higher doses of the drug, and those who start out with oxycodone and other prescriptions typically move on to heroin for a stronger dose. Based on this fact it is easy to see how the vicious cycle of addition creates itself.

Meditation is the Best Medication

One associate professor at the University Of Utah College Of Social Work named Eric Garland stated in a press release that the desensitization of opioid drug users can actually be reversed through mindfulness, and that it may even be able to keep them off the drugs.

“These findings are scientifically important because one of the major theories about how and why addiction occurs asserts that over time drug abusers become dulled to the experience of joy in everyday life, and this pushes them to use higher and higher doses of drugs to feel happiness.”

Garland and his team determined that the intervention program Mindfulness-Oriented Recovery Enhancement (MORE) was able to reduce cravings for opioid drugs in patients with a history of abuse.

Chronic pain patients taking these drugs underwent an 8 week intervention, during which time they were taught a “mindful savoring practice” that encouraged them to focus attention on different materials or concepts such as:

  • Beautiful scenes of nature
  • A sunset
  • A connection with a love one

These 3 are all considered pleasant experiences which were used to help calm the mind. During meditation, the patients were asked to focus and appreciate the present moment, which involved taking in the smells, textures, and colors of a bouquet of flowers.

As the study continued researchers found through EEG scans that by pushing patients to find happiness in their day-to-day activities that their brains activated at a higher rate to such events. As to be expected the more activity they showed, the less likely they were to crave opiates. Researchers involved in the process insist that this shows scientifically the strength of meditation in changing the lives and the quality of life for opiate addicts.

Millions of Americans actively abuse opiates, whether in the form of prescriptions or heroin, and overdose deaths have more than quadrupled in the last 15 years, which supports what many have begun to suggest is an opiate epidemic. For people to want to recover, there has to be a possibility of happiness! No one who wants to recover wants to believe there is little or no possibility of living a full and exuberant life without dependence on drugs. The truth is, happiness is one of recovery’s greatest gifts.

Many people should take heed to the therapeutic values of mindfulness and meditation. Even most recovery oriented programs, 12 Step groups, and other fellowships have a strong belief in the power and the usefulness of meditation. And if the only thing keeping you from being happy is taking the time to be calm and present to appreciate the moment, then some meditation is the best medication for you.

Many people may not know what it means to be present and aware in the moment, and how mindfulness can ultimately fuel their happiness, especially battling with drugs and alcohol. There are always amazing people ready to help you on that path. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135. We want to help. You are not alone.

 

Shady Doctors: Are Suboxone Clinics the New Pill Mills?

Are Suboxone Clinics the New Pill Mills

“You don’t take anything??” My old using buddy, Matt, asks me incredulously. “You don’t even drink?”

“Nope, I’m clean and sober,” I tell him.

“What’s that like?” He laughs a little.

It’s good to hear him laugh. When we first got on the phone, he sounded completely hopeless.

“I’m miserable,” he tells me at the beginning of the call. “I’m off the roxys. I’m getting subs now, but I’m still miserable.”

“Roxys” refers to Roxicodone (generic name oxycodone) which was my (and his) drug of choice. “Subs” means Suboxone (generic name: buprenorphine), a drug similar to methadone. It was originally developed for short-term use to ease the pain of withdrawal for people coming off opiates like prescription painkillers and heroin. Now more and more doctors and treatment centers are using it for long-term treatment.   Proponents view long-term buprenorphine treatment as the best available solution not only to the life of crime, unemployment, poverty and cravings led by many addicts, but also to the chronic depression that can follow detox.

“It’s funny,” he says to me. “I go to the same doctor that gave me the roxys. He closed his pain management clinic, and opened a Suboxone clinic across town.”

“Jesus.” I say.

This is not the first time I’ve heard this. When Florida started cracking down on so-called “pill-mills,” many of the doctors closed up shop and/or switched to prescribing Suboxone. The same patients that they had been treating for “pain” now come to them to get treatment for their addiction to pills.

My Introduction to the “Pill Mill”

It was actually a friend of Matt’s that introduced me to pain management pill mills for the first time. I’d been seeing a “normal” doctor for a while. He took insurance, and had a tightly regulated practice. He’d been prescribing me pain medication for the past six months, but he wouldn’t give me anything stronger than Percocet. My addiction was in full swing at that point. I’d usually finish my month’s prescription within the first week or two after my visit and then buy pills on the street to get me through the rest of the month.  It was getting expensive.

Matt’s friend, let’s call him Chris, had been selling us 30 mg roxys at $15-$20 a pop, depending on how many we bought. One day when I was completely broke, begging him to front me a couple, he presented a different solution.

Chris asked me if I wanted to be his “proxy” at a pain management clinic.

He said he’d pay for the visit, the MRI, and the prescription if I gave him most of the pills out of the first prescription.

“They’ll probably give you 180 of them on your first visit”, he told me. “So you give me 120, keep 60, and then you can go back every month for more and keep them all.”

“They’re going to give me one hundred and eighty pills on my first visit??” I asked him incredulously.

“Yep.” He said. “And by the second or third month, you’ll probably get 240, plus 90 Valium or Xanax.”

At this point I was prescribed four 10mg Percocet a day at my “legit” doctor. He was telling me I would now get six 30 mg Roxiodone pills a day, with potential to get more. I was sold.

I made an appointment the next day. The place wasn’t like any doctor’s office I’d ever seen. In fact, it wasn’t even an office, it was a house, set way back into the trees in a residential neighborhood. There were cheap metal folding chairs in the living-room-slash-waiting-room, and the receptionist sat behind a sheet of bullet-proof glass.

The place was packed, and many of the patients seemed to know each other. Whole families were there together, and one couple told me they drove down every month from Georgia to see the doctor.

I immediately felt out of place. I’d come on my lunch break from the law office where I worked, and I was dressed in a skirt and twinset. The other patients were comparing tattoos, catching up, and sharing cigarettes. One girl kept nodding out. I sat in a corner and tried not to make eye contact with anyone.

After 2 hours, my name was finally called and I went up to pay. A visit cost $240. They only took cash and there was no refund under any circumstances.

I was ushered into a little room off to the side. The doctor’s assistant asked if I’d had my MRI results. Luckily, I had known to get the MRI before going in. Everyone had to have one, and if you didn’t, they’d send you out to another place (a cash-only diagnostic facility that was down the street from the clinic) and you’d have to wait in line over there for another few hours.

She took the MRI report and stuck it in my chart without even glancing at it, and then turned to me and asked “What do you want?”

I’d been prepped for this part too and I told her I wanted 180 30mg oxycodone and 90 10mg Valium. She wrote the scripts and then disappeared. A few minutes later she came back with them signed, gave them to me, and told me to come back in a month. I never saw the doctor.

From Roxys to Subs

A couple of years later, after hitting an emotional, financial, and spiritual bottom due to my Roxicodone addiction, I decided to try Suboxone maintenance program. My first visit at the Suboxone clinic was eerily similar to that first experience at a pill mill.

The office only took cash. I never saw the doctor, and there were at least 50 people in that waiting room, one of them nodding out. Most of the patients waited in front, chain smoking and joking with each other.

When I went in the back, they asked me two questions:

1. What were you on?

2. How long has it been since you’ve used?

I told them how many pills I’d been taking, and that I’d just used before coming in. The assistant wrote a script for the highest dose, and told me not to take the first for 24 hours. (Taking Suboxone too soon after using heroin or painkillers can cause you to go into immediate, intense withdrawal.)

She gave me my prescriptions and told me to come back in a month.

“Pill Mill” or Detox Clinic?

A pill mill masquerading as a detox clinic isn’t exactly new. Back in the height of Florida’s pill mill epidemic, many pill mills would claim they could help you get off the pills. Their ads would proclaim “Addicted? We can help!”

Those “in the know” realized that these were just pill mills looking to fool law enforcement agencies, but I imagine more than one addict went there looking for help and was told they must “wean off slowly” before being handed a prescription for enough pills to kill a small horse.

Now that the ruse has been discovered, it seems as if at least a few of these same doctors have decided to stop prescribing painkillers altogether and have switched completely to Suboxone. They’ve found a way to make more money off the same poor souls that they got addicted in the first place.

Suboxone is more regulated than pain management, and I suppose that’s the only good news. These doctors must get special licensing and are only allowed to treat up to 100 patients at a time.

However, visits cost between $200-$300 cash, and with 100 patients, that’s still $20,000 to $30,000 a month; a nice little profit with virtually none of the risk associated with shady pain management.

Many of the doctors who didn’t get out of the pain management game before the crackdown have had their medical licenses revoked, and a few are even doing jail time.

I tell Matt about my experience. How abstinence and the twelve steps saved my life, and my sanity.

“I can’t keep doing this.” He says. “I want to punch that doctor every time I see him. I’m so angry that he got me hooked on pills.”

He sighs in defeat. “But I can’t. I still need him to give me Suboxone.”

If you or someone you know is in need of painkiller or Suboxone addiction treatment, please give us a call at 800-951-6135.

Oxycodone Addiction: An Infectious Disease

A Close Look At Oxycodone

Oxycodone Addiction

When the central nervous system of person experiences pain due to ailments like arthritis, fractures, or even during labor, doctors prescribe certain prescription drugs to help minimize the pain. In many cases, prescription painkillers are also prescribed to those suffering from serious diseases like Cancer.

These prescription drugs are narcotic in nature: for example, drugs like Vicodin, Morphine, etc. Similarly, Oxycodone, which is a Schedule II drug, is prescribed in cases where patients suffer from severe pain disorders. Oxycodone depresses the central nervous system of a patient which helps lower his or her pain.

A prescription drug, which is actually used as a powerful painkiller, Oxycodone can alter moods in a person who uses the drug. Although it is a prescribed drug, possessing Oxycodone by illegal means is a criminal offence that leads to prosecution. However, in the last ten years its popularity among drug addicts has increased significantly and so has Oxycodone’s illegal use and subsequent abuse.

Apart from pain, Oxycodone also acts as a cough suppressant and helps arrest anxiety. Oxycodone leads to euphoria and assists in mental relaxation. Patients who have taken this drug for these purposes have reported suffering from constipation. Oxycodone is highly potent and people suffer from serious side effects, if addicted to it. Medically and legally every effort is made to monitor the prescription of this painkiller through qualified practitioners.

Patients who are prescribed Oxycodone are assessed continuously for side effects as well as relief from pain. Based on assessments and clinical judgment, necessary adjustments are made by the doctor regarding continuity with the drug. Being a prescribed and controlled drug, Oxycodone can only be legally obtained through a prescription. In our country most doctors frequently prescribe Oxycodone to patients who seek painkillers to get relief from severe pain.

There are several side effects associated with Oxycodone usage in its prescribed form. Many patients have reported side effects like sweating profusely, nausea and headache, dry mouth, etc. Some have even experienced other symptoms that are severe in nature like labored breathing, coma, feeling dizzy, and even seizures.

Oxycodone is available under different brand names like Oxycontin, which is the most common name, Percocet, Tylox, and Percodan. Today, because of its highly addictive properties many blatantly abuse Oxycodone. Repeated intake of Oxycodone leads to Oxycodone tolerances.  In such cases people who are addicted to this drug require higher doses. Drug addicts who take this drug more commonly refer to it as ‘Oxy’ and sometimes as ‘hillbilly heroin.’ These are the popular names of Oxycodone in alleys frequented by addicts.

Oxycodone Abuse

It is a matter of concern that in the last ten years there has been a dramatic increase in Oxycodone addiction. Statistics state that within the US its usage has increased up to 300%. Equally alarming is the number of Oxycodone addicts seeking emergency treatment, which has shot up to 500%.

It has been observed that people who have been actually prescribed with it have abused Oxycodone. Normally they start with the prescribed dosage, but since this drug is highly addictive its usage goes out of control.

Oxycodone Abuse

It is a matter of concern that in the last ten years there has been a dramatic increase in Oxycodone addiction. Statistics state that within the US its usage has increased up to 300%. Equally alarming is the number of Oxycodone addicts seeking emergency treatment, which has shot up to 500%.

It has been observed that people who have been actually prescribed with it have abused Oxycodone. Normally they start with the prescribed dosage, but since this drug is highly addictive its usage goes out of control.

Gradually, they become tolerant to the prescribed dosage and fail to get the same effects, and because of this they start taking higher doses. Taking higher doses not only gives pain relief but also enhances the feeling of euphoria and also helps prevent the withdrawal symptoms that they have been experiencing.

Using Oxycodone in a way that is different from its prescribed form leads to addiction. Once this Oxycodone is abused, it leads to dependence and the person continues to abuse Oxys despite knowing that the consequences would be fatal or irreversible. If at this stage usage is stopped the body experiences severe withdrawal symptoms like anxiety, diarrhea, nausea, restlessness, and cramping of the muscles in the legs.

Oxycodone abusers take the drug in the pill form or snort it after crushing the pill. Some abusers even melt this drug in water and then inject themselves. Oxycodone in its pill form acts as a slow time-released pain reliever. However, when higher doses are taken through snorting or injections, an equally large amount enters the system instantly providing an intense high. This also puts the abuser at a risk of an Oxycodone overdose.

Addicts find this drug attractive as well as convenient, since it can be taken in oral form also. Being a time-released drug, it is considered to be safer than other drugs. Once people become addicts they can go to any length to have it. Some even produce phony prescriptions while there are others who wouldn’t even hesitate to steal from medicine stores even at the risk of getting caught.

People from all age groups are getting afflicted with Oxycodone addiction. Till a few years back it was those white-collared professionals who were popping pills but today Oxycodone addiction

has touched people irrespective of age, gender, or profession. However, to our surprise it is mostly men in the age group of 10 to 40 years who are addicted to Oxycodone.

Oxycodone addiction leads to severe side effects and it is very difficult to recover from this addiction. This is because an Oxycodone addict becomes both mentally and physically addicted. Oxycodone acts as a central nervous system depressant, it stimulates the brain and the person experiences intense pleasure. It starts with an intense high and then goes on to provide relaxation and satisfaction which lasts for many hours. This affects the respiratory system and leads to labored breathing, forcing the person to slow down. This can turn out to be really fatal.

Oxycodone Treatment

Treatment for Oxycodone addiction usually focuses on its psychological aspect and the withdrawal symptoms. However, in most cases this form of treatment had not been that effective. As such nowadays the Accelerated Neuro-Regulation (ANR) method is applied to help people recover from Oxycodone addiction. This is a new way of treating this addiction or rather an infectious disease, and medical techniques are used for the purpose. Oxycodone addicts who have been treated through this method have shown a marked improvement in their condition.

The Importance of Oxycodone Addiction Treatment

The importance of Oxycodone addiction treatment is understandable for a person who is an Oxycodone addict. However, it is his/her realization of the fact that he or she needs to get help at the earliest which is more important. Every type of addiction carries with it the risk of death or an irreversible disease, and Oxycodone addiction is no exception.

If your loved one is in need of Oxycodone Addiction Treatment, please give us a call at 800-951-6135.

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