Author: Justin Mckibben
When discussing the very real devastation of the opioid crisis some people are still skeptical as to how big of a part prescription opioids play in the problem. While all patients should have access to comprehensive care for conditions relating to severe pain, ignoring the fact that prescription drug abuse is a crucial element of the epidemic is far too careless.
Many states had to face the issue of pill mill clinics and doctor shopping. Now one state, in particular, is now taking massive action in hopes of ending a very serious problem that has only grown over the years. Authorities in North Carolina took a close look at how prescription drugs wind up on the streets.
One of the key factors to narcotic medications hitting the illicit market was doctor shopping.
Doctor Shopping Stats
First, let us explain what doctor shopping is for those unfamiliar with the concept. Innovations in Clinical Neuroscience described the practice of doctor shopping, saying it:
“- entails the scheduling by patients of office visits with multiple clinicians for the same agenda, either for a continuing illness or to procure prescription drugs illicitly. As expected, the explicit definitions in the literature vary considerably, with a significant proportion focusing on a given illness episode.”
Essentially, doctor shopping is when patients visit multiple doctors with the intention of having a prescription given and then filled from each physician, giving them an abundance of medications.
Now in the case of North Carolina, this tactic grew a great deal of momentum as the opioid epidemic spiraled out of control in the past few years. According to WRAL, a Raleigh-based news outlet:
- In 2010, the State Bureau of Investigation says there were 88 doctor shopping cases.
- In 2016, that number rose to 184
- That is a 110% increase in doctor shopping incidents!
According to NBC Charlotte:
- Approximately three people North Carolina die every day in due to drug overdoses.
- Around half of those deaths are due to opioid painkillers.
So now, what moves is North Carolina making to try and fight back?
The Strengthen Opioid Misuse Prevent Act
After realizing just how big of an issue prescription drugs were playing into their current drug problem, officials in North Carolina have decided to put measures in place to try and prevent doctor shopping.
Starting January 1st with the new year, North Carolina enacted a new law, referred to as the Strengthen Opioid Misuse Prevent Act. So what does this new measure do?
- It allows doctors to only give a five day supply of opioids for pain from certain injuries, like broken bones.
- After a surgery, it allows doctors to prescribe a seven day supply.
- Refills can be given as needed, but the first refill will be limited.
North Carolina also gave some thought to protecting those in severe need of pain management resources. The new law does not apply to those with:
Local Authorities Unsure of the Future
The executive director of the North Carolina Board of Pharmacy, Jay Campbell, told reporters that while the action is being taken, it will probably never be completely eliminated. Campbell states,
“We’re certainly hoping that we can radically reduce the scope of drug diversion from pharmacies or any place else. But it is a problem that is never going to go away.”
However, Campbell believes there are certain indications of doctor shopping that pharmacists can keep an eye on as well, such as:
- The patient is visiting a pharmacy far outside their normal location.
- The patient brings in prescriptions from doctors the pharmacy is not familiar with.
Officials trying to stop doctor shopping in the area are asking pharmacists to be alert and ask questions when appropriate. Meanwhile, they are also working to develop other means of drug monitoring, including a system in which North Carolina doctors can register when they prescribe opioids to monitor records and catch patterns of doctor shopping.
There may now be some light at the end of the tunnel. Overdose death rates due to many legal prescription opioids are still rising, but they are rising far more slowly than that of fentanyl and other synthetic opioids according to a CDC report. While it is terrible that the death rates are still increasing, the fact that the rate of progression has slowed noticeably could suggest that many of the recent efforts aimed at curbing widespread over-prescribing practices could be starting to have a positive impact on the extent of the opioid crisis.
Medical Detox for Opioids
An important thing to remember is that for those suffering from substance use disorder or a physical dependency to opioids should always seek safe medical treatment in order to get off these powerful drugs. Opioid abuse presents an inherent risk to the body and the brain. Because of the often difficult and uncomfortable withdrawals, detoxing from opioids is best done in a safe medical environment.
Palm Healthcare Company’s detox facilities will offer a more comprehensive model for recovery from opioid addiction. Medical detox consists of both psychological treatment from professionals for both addiction and co-occurring mental health issues, as well as pharmacological treatment from medical specialists who can decide if there are optional medications to help ease the detox process.
What a medical detox for opioids should always do is provide a trained staff to monitor important vital signs like:
- Respiration levels
- Blood pressure
- Body temperature
- Heart rate
Abruptly discontinuing opioids can be painful or even damaging to the body. Make sure to seek the appropriate help. If you or someone you love is struggling, do not wait. Please call toll-free now. You are not alone.
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(This content is being used for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted in the content is a model)
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.
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Photo of artists Cane in the studio
Author: Justin Mckibben
Recently one of our Palm Partners Alumni who has been pursuing his passion for music posted a powerful music video with a strong message that caught our attention. After hearing how the track he had recorded was speaking intensely and poetically about the issues concerning the opiate epidemic and the shady side of Big Pharma in the prescription drug outbreak across the country, we wanted to know more about the project.
The name behind the deep reaching lyrics is Cane, and he’s a hip-hop artist ‘straight outta Indiana’. The video is titled “Detox” and is a powerful look into the world of prescription drug abuse from someone who has personally had to fight for their life. The video itself does have some mature content, but nothing extremely graphic. It begins with news broadcasters and headlines talking about the epidemic, and the beat itself is something a lot of people might recognize as the “Run This Town” instrumental by Jay Z, but Cane does a good job of making the music his own.
He credits the recording and video production to RJ Write @FlatlineMedia with a post that has been shared by multiple sources. Hopefully it’ll trend and catch even more momentum. We wanted to celebrate this level of heartfelt dedication, so we reached out to Cane to get a glimpse at some of the thoughts behind the music.
Q & A with Cane
Q: So, what is your sobriety date and how long have you been making music?
A: “My clean date is 8-8-14. I’ve been making music for 5 years. My father is a musician also so it’s always been in my life.”
Q: What has life been like since leaving treatment?
A: “Life after leaving treatment has been truly a blessing. When you’re caught up in the grip of addiction you tend to get caught up in the rat race and you feel like you’re going to be stuck in that forever you lose hope of having any normal life. Now that I’m home I’ve went back to school and getting my GED then went and got my CDL and in my semi-truck driver. I have a daughter and I also have another child on the way, all these things seemed impossible when all I could think about was getting one more… and as I grow in this recovery process I’m learning more about myself and learning to love myself and ways that I never have… and it all started when I took that first step and entered the doors of Palm Partners.”
Q: What was the most valuable experience you took from treatment at Palm Partners Recovery Center?
A: “The most value experience I took from Palm partners is that people do truly care and you’re not alone. I was reminded that Humanity is real and it still exists, there are still people out there that genuinely care because when you’re caught up in that street life you tend to lose that reality… and they also gave me a firm foundation to build on as I got out into the world and started to recover.”
Q: In your own words, what has inspired you to write about this in your music?
A: “What had inspired me to write this in my music was looking around at myself and those around me caught in the struggle, and realizing that we all share the same pain and can relate it was at that point that I knew I had to bring a clear message through my music and be a voice for those who feel they aren’t heard and also create awareness to situations that most turn a blind eye to.”
Q: What is the main message you want to send with a song like this?
A: “The main message that I want to get through with this song is that I believe the system (Big Pharma) is more of a business built on creating revenue instead of cures, it seems they are creating momentarily relief of symptoms instead of actually trying to heal their patients. A cured patient is a lost customer, not caring about the side effects their drugs have on the consumer they over medicate to the point that we feel we can’t go through life without these medications. It’s almost as if they’re telling the public, this is your only hope… don’t worry about what’s it’s doing to your health, don’t worry about what is doing to your life because we’ll just prescribe you something to handle that stress as well.
My personal experience has showed me that when my tolerance grew they upped the dose, always having a pharmaceutical answer for everything…when in the end everything they gave me to better my life was actually killing me, physically, mentally and spiritually.”
Q: Who has been most influential in your recovery?
A: “Ronald “Choke” Nelson has been one person who has helped me grow the most in my process of recovery, and my family.”
Q: How has recovery made you more successful in your music or other passions?
A: “Recovery is help me in my music by helping me learn who I truly am as a person, which helps me open up more and be able to express myself freely, opening up a new platform of consciousness and truly seeing life for what it is in all its beauty and Glory which makes me see reality instead of my self-made prison which kept my close minded, judgmental and delusional.
Now I see the beauty that life truly is, I can write and create with a sense of Peace and clarity, and with other passions like Family, relationships and life in general is just gave me a sense of gratitude and appreciation which helps generate a loving atmosphere, and in a loving atmosphere all things grow.”
Q: When can we expect more projects like “Detox” from you?
A: “I’m in the process of writing a new track called “It’s Okay” which will be somewhat of a motivational song letting the people know, it’s okay to have flaws, nobody’s perfect… just learn to accept yourself regardless of your past you can have a bright future.
I also already release a song called “My Story” which also gives hope and gives you a glimpse into my world.”
Q: If you could give a message to anyone who might be hurting, what would it be?
A: “Anybody that’s out there listening still caught up in the grip of addiction just know that there is hope. Find that last piece of strength; that last piece of love that you have for yourself and find a way to get somewhere to get some help. You do not have to settle for the limitations of your past, there is a brighter future ahead just step forth and make an effort and slowly but surely things will fall into place, you just have to believe. There is a better life for you out there, you don’t have to stay stuck in the never ending cycle, so please from me to you reach out to someone who cares make that call, Reach Out and save your life”
With gratitude and humility Cane happily touched on a lot of important ideas in his song and during our conversation. It is clear this artist believes in his recovery, and believes in raising awareness and spreading the message to others. We are always proud of the amazing accomplishments and uplifting stories our Palm Partners Alumni share with us about life in recovery. We always encourage our Alumni to reach out and share their own perspectives. Part of proving recovery and life after treatment is possible is living by example and making the most out of our message. Cane is taking that to heart and putting his talents to use to try and make a difference.
You can check out the music video for ‘Detox’ here and you can check out more of Cane’s music here.
We know there are so many more Palm Partners alumni out there with talents, stories and experiences to share, and we encourage you to contact us and be part of the message that may help countless others. You never know how many lives you can touch, and how many people could make the choice that saves their life because of something that you choose to share. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 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.
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Author: Shernide Delva
President Obama has granted clemency to hundreds of inmates in prison for nonviolent drug crimes. However, the War on Drugs is still very much alive. In fact, last week a crime report released by the FBI revealed that law enforcement made nearly 1.5 million “drug abuse” arrests last year.
FBI Report: “2015 Crime in the United States.”
The FBI Uniform Crime Reporting Program report, titled “2015 Crime in the United States,” marked 1,488,707 total arrests for drug abuse for that year. “Drug abuse” is defined in the report as the sale, trafficking, and possession of narcotics. The FBI noted that the report reflects the number arrests, not the number of individuals.
When we break this down this into percentages, the numbers reveal close to 83.9% of drug arrests were for mere possession. Only 16.1% were due to drug sales or manufacturing, and of the arrests for possession, marijuana possession made up 38.6%.
The Washington Post elaborated stating that in 2015, there were over 1,500 arrests per day for marijuana possession. Following marijuana on the list were “other dangerous non-narcotic drugs” (20.2%), and heroin or cocaine and their derivatives (19.9%).
It should come to no one’s surprise that the U.S. prison system is full of people incarcerated for non-violent drug crimes like possession. Substance abuse arrests are more common than property crimes (1,463,213), drunk driving (1,089,171) and “other assaults” (1,081,019) trailing slightly behind. Crimes like murder and non-negligent manslaughter pale in comparison (11,092).
Shifting the War on Drugs Mindset
While efforts are being made to change the War on Drugs mindset, it is a slow process at best. There have been gradual shifts towards placing non-violent drug offenders in treatment rather than in prison. This eliminates the need for excessively long sentences due to drug possession.
Furthermore, President Obama has gained extensive media attention for granting 673 clemencies for non-violent offenders during his two terms so far. Many of these prisoners were serving life sentences.
“While I expect that the President will continue to grant commutations through the end of this administration, the individualized nature of this relief highlights the need for bipartisan criminal justice reform legislation, including reforms that address excessive mandatory minimum sentences,” said White House Counsel Neil Eggleston in a statement last month. “Only the passage of legislation can achieve the broader reforms needed to ensure our federal sentencing system operates more fairly and effectively in the service of public safety.”
While there have been significant efforts to approach the addiction epidemic through treatment, the reality is hundred – if not thousands—of Americans are arrested by law enforcement for something as simple as marijuana possession.Drug trafficking is a common offense. The controversy splits between whether or not the government should have this level of control when it comes to drug criminalization.
The Prescription Drug Epidemic
Furthermore, prescription drug abuse is one of the major problems in the drug world today. So many people received these prescriptions legally through their doctors and are not dependent upon them. The U.S Department of Health estimates that more than 50% of Americans take at least one prescribed pill a day. These people eventually turn to drugs like heroin because of the cheap high that heroin provides. Therefore, sales of illegal narcotics in the black market have soared. The problem is as complex as the solution. What should the next approach be to the addiction epidemic?
Overall, the amount of arrests for drug possession is still at an extremely high number. How should the government be approaching drug arrests? At the end of the day, addiction is a disease. Treatment should be the first approach, not criminalization. Please seek help for your addiction before it is too late. We can get you on the right track. Call today.
CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135