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
The American Academy of Neurology (AAN) has recently issued a warning about taking powerful painkillers to treat pain conditions not associated with cancer conditions.
According to the AAN, which issued their new position statement in the September issue of the academy’s medical journal, Neurology, the risks of taking prescription painkillers far outweigh any potential benefits.
The AAN cited risks associated with the taking of powerful narcotic painkillers, which include overdose, death, and a high potential for abuse, dependence and addiction, outweigh the benefits of treating pain such as that from headaches, fibromyalgia, and chronic low back pain – essentially non-cancer conditions.
Painkillers and Non-Cancer Pain Treatment
Initially, narcotic painkillers such as oxycodone, Oxycontin, and hydrocodone were developed for the purpose of pain management in cancer patients. Due to more lax prescribing regulations for long-term use, painkillers have become more and more the go-to for treating pain that pales in comparison to that associated with cancer.
Gary Franklin, a research professor in the Department of Environmental & Occupational Health Sciences in the University Of Washington School Of Public Health in Seattle and a fellow with the AAN said, “More than 100,000 people have died from prescription opioid use since policies changed in the late 1990s to allow much more liberal long-term use.”
Painkillers, the U.S., and Overdose Rates
Every year, U.S. doctors prescribe more than 259 million prescriptions for painkillers. As a result, Americans consume 80% of the world’s painkillers. Doctors, institutions, states, and patients need to work together to stop this “epidemic,” Franklin said.
Rates of drug overdose deaths in the United States have tripled in the past 20 years, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “There have been more deaths from prescription opioids in the most vulnerable young to middle-aged groups than from firearms and car accidents,” added Franklin.
Studies cited by the AAN have shown that half of patients who were taking opioid painkillers for at least three months are still taking the drugs five years later. After reviewing the available research, it’s evident that, while these medications can provide significant pain relief in the short-term, there is no considerable evidence “for maintaining this effect or improving function over long periods without serious risk of overdose, dependence, or addiction.”
The AAN suggests that doctors can prescribe opioids more safely and effectively by screening their patients for current or past drug use, depression, as well as assessing their pain and function by measuring for tolerance and effectiveness. “More research and information regarding opioid effectiveness and management is needed along with changes in state and federal laws and policy to ensure patients are safer when prescribed these drugs,” Franklin said.
In addition, the AAN recommends that doctors consult a pain management specialist if their patient’s painkiller dosage exceeds 80 to 120 milligrams per day and especially if their pain and function have not improved substantially.
Are you taking prescription painkillers for a chronic pain condition? Have you been on the medication for way too long and want to get off of it but can’t? A lot of people who become addicted to narcotics were initially prescribed them by their doctors for legitimate reasons. These drugs are so powerful, though, that they tend to do more harm than good in the long run. If you want to find out other options for treating your pain, call toll-free 1-800-951-6135 to speak with an Addiction Specialist. We have helped many other people in your position to stop taking painkillers in a safe and comfortable way.
Author: Justin Mckibben
Drug overdose death rates in the United States in the past 5 years have developed a pattern, and more than tripled between 2014 and 1990. In 2008, more than 36,000 people died from drug overdoses, and most of these deaths were caused by prescription drugs. Finally there has been a change of pace, but the severity of a narcotic painkiller overdose is still a serious concern, and so this will take the time to identify the impact of narcotic painkillers on the body, and help identify the signs of overdose.
What Is a Narcotic Painkiller Overdose
Just like heroin, prescription painkillers work by binding to receptors in the brain to decrease the perception of pain. These powerful drugs can create a feeling of euphoria, as well as cause physical dependence, and can lead to a painkiller addiction. Prescription painkillers also cause sedation and slow down a person’s breathing.
Those abusing prescription narcotic painkillers typically end up taking increasingly larger doses to achieve the same high or euphoric effect, or even just to reduce their withdrawal symptoms. The increased dosage of narcotic painkillers can cause breathing to slow down so much that breathing stops, resulting in respiratory failure and/or fatal overdose.
Statistics on Painkiller Overdose
Although painkillers are not the only prescription drugs that are abused, there has been what is frequently referred to as an epidemic of prescription painkiller abuse in the past few years, although recent reports are stating that recent reform and awareness has helped the number begin a decrease.
- Nearly 3 out of 4 prescription drug overdoses are attributed to the abuse of prescription painkillers, also identified as opiate pain relievers.
- The extraordinary rise in overdose deaths in the US paralleled a 300% increase since 1999 in the sale of these strong painkillers. Narcotics painkiller drugs were involved in 14,800 overdose deaths in 2008, more than cocaine and heroin combined!
- The abuse of prescription narcotic painkillers was responsible for more than 475,000 emergency department visits in 2009, a number that nearly doubled in the past 5 years.
- In 2010 over an estimated 12 million people reported using prescription painkillers without a prescription either for supposed medical reasons or simply for the high
Effects of an Overdose from Narcotic Painkillers
Narcotic painkiller overdose is just like a heroin overdose; the only difference between these two drugs is their legal status. Taking large amounts of analgesics can cause breathing to become extremely slow. Heart rate can slow or speed up, blood pressure can drop, and breathing can become labored. A slow or undetectable pulse and drop in blood pressure can cause dizziness. Changes in respiration can prevent the lungs and vital organs from getting the oxygen they need. The skin may appear bluish in color and feel cold or clammy to the touch, and weakness and fatigue can develop. Lack of oxygen can affect the nervous system and lead to changes in consciousness, brain damage, coma or even death if not treated.
Some of the symptoms of a narcotic painkiller overdose are more critical than others, which may just be indicators of painkiller abuse. But all of the following signs should be taken into account:
- Pinpoint pupils
- Respiratory depression
- Slow heart rate
- Skin can be cool and sweaty, or hot and dry.
- Chest pain caused by heart or lung damage
In Case of Overdose
Narcotic painkiller overdoses require emergency medical treatment in order to safely and effectively treat the individual, because this is a deadly drug overdose. If breathing is extremely slow or shallow, or if emergency room doctors feel that other symptoms are life threatening, a drug called naloxone is used to reverse symptoms of an overdose. If doctors determine breathing is acceptable they may opt to use activated charcoal or laxatives to help remove any leftover medications in the stomach.
If you believe someone is overdosing on narcotic painkillers immediately call a hospital emergency room, or possibly a local poison control center. This hotline will let you talk to experts in poisoning and can properly instruct you on the safest course of action. Make sure to determine the following information for the poison control operator:
- Persons age, weight, and condition
- Name of product (as well as the ingredients and strength if known)
- The time the painkiller was taken
- The amount of the painkiller taken
- If the medication was prescribed for the patient
This is a free and confidential service. You should call if you have any questions about poisoning or poison prevention, and this assistance can be reached 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Overdosing on narcotic painkillers is no small thing. Painkiller addiction and abuse is a fierce affliction, and overdose can be fatal.
Taken from someone who has personally had to consume activated charcoal and expel leftover drugs from my digestive system in a shivering and sweating heap of drowsy hallucination, an overdose can be a terrifying and tormenting experience, if you’re lucky and it doesn’t kill you first. 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.
By Cheryl Steinberg
A new study reveals that access to medical marijuana appears to already have saved thousands of lives over the past few years by reducing accidental overdose deaths from prescription painkillers such as Vicodin, Percocet and OxyContin.
According to the study, states where marijuana has been made medically legal saw, on average, 1,700 fewer deaths per year from prescription drugs than they would have otherwise, before the introduction of medical marijuana.
The study was conducted by researchers from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and the Philadelphia Veterans Affairs Medical Center. However, the study has its critics, who claim say that it’s flawed, saying that it makes “sweeping” conclusions that are not supported by the data collected.
Medical Marijuana for Pain Management
Federal officials say that prescription narcotics, specifically painkillers, are among the most abused drugs prescription medicines in the U.S., and are responsible for the deaths of more than 15,000 deaths of Americans annually. Those who are proponents of medical marijuana say pot is a far safer and more effective alternative for relieving pain; however, research is still lacking to support their claims. The authors of the study say their research is groundbreaking – indicating that public health officials need to look more closely at the potential benefits of marijuana for treating and managing pain.
“It suggests the potential for many lives to be saved,” said study senior author Colleen L. Barry, an associate professor in the Department of Health Policy and Management at the Bloomberg School. “We can speculate … that people are completely switching or perhaps supplementing, which allows them to lower the dosage of their prescription opioid.”
Medical Marijuana: Spreading Like Wildfire
Twenty-three states as well as the District of Columbia now permit doctors to prescribe some form of medical marijuana.
In the states that permit medical marijuana, prescription drug overdoses dropped by 25%. Barry admits that the study doesn’t explain why this phenomenon but, raises important questions. What is known, however, is that federal officials are making it harder for patients to legally acquire large qualities of certain opioid drugs like Vicodin and other painkillers. Opiate painkillers are highly addictive, and patients who get hooked build up a tolerance, having to take increasingly higher doses in order to feel the drug’s effects.
“There’s a lot of rethinking about relative harms and relative benefits right now,” Barry said. “Medical marijuana is not susceptible to unintentional overdose … What we don’t know, and that’s because we haven’t had enough research done, is how good of a job medical marijuana does for people with chronic pain.”
Could Medical Marijuana Reduce Drug Overdose Deaths? Study Says Yes
Director of the Drug Policy Institute at the University Of Florida College Of Medicine, Kevin Sabet, said he has concerns about the methods used by the study’s authors when collecting and analyzing the data. According to Sabet, they failed to differentiate between states when it came to which had strict and which had lax medical marijuana laws, and didn’t examine emergency-room admission and prescription data. Moreover, he says the researchers failed to see what impact methadone clinics might have had. He said it’s hard to believe there was such an across-the-board reduction in predicted deaths.
“In today’s supercharged discussions, it could be easily misunderstood by people,” he said of the study, which he faulted for drawing distinct conclusions based on limited data. “There may be promise in marijuana-based medications but that’s a lot different than ‘here’s a joint for you to smoke.'”
Although marijuana is becoming legalized, for both medical grade and recreational use, it can still become a problem for some people. Cannabis dependence, abuse, and addiction are real conditions for which more and more people are seeking rehab and treatment. If you or someone you love struggles with marijuana or any other substance, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135 to speak directly with an Addiction Specialist today. We’re here around the clock to help.
There’s your ‘typical’ drug addict, the type that’s usually referred to as “junkie,” – you know, the homeless person getting high on the streets, possibly prostituting themselves (male and female) – and then there’s the ‘functional addict.’ This type of drug addict is seemingly “normal.” They have their life together, for the most part. They hold a steady job, have a place to live, have a car…all the typical things that describe a normal, functioning member of society. But the functional addict is really someone who is just good at ‘passing’ for something they’re not. As someone who spent her active addiction as a functional addict, I’m going to share with you some tell-tale signs of someone who’s struggling with substance abuse and addiction: someone who may be merely passing for doing OK.
Here it is: Living a Double Life: How to Spot a Functional Addict
How to Spot a Functional Addict: Physical Signs
Now, the functional addict in your life could be someone as close as a loved one or it might be someone you see on a regular basis, such as a coworker, or even your boss. This first way to spot a functional addict is to look for some obvious and not-so-obvious physical indications, such as changes in their appearance.
They say the eyes are the windows to the soul and the functional addict, depending on what they are using, will have certain ‘dead giveaways’ like pinned (or very small) pupils if they are using opiates, such as heroin or prescription painkillers. Or, their eyes might be bloodshot on a daily basis – a possible sign of alcohol abuse or marijuana abuse. Their eyelids might also be quite heavy-looking, as if they are constantly tired. Lastly, the functional addict’s eyes might appear ‘glassy,’ which means that they look like kind of glazed over. They also might seem to have difficulty focusing their eyes.
Another tell-tale physical sign of someone who is living a double life as a functional addict is extreme and rapid weight loss or weight gain, again depending on the substance or substances they are abusing. In my experience as a functioning addict, it was rapid weight loss because I was using opiates (heroin and painkillers), amphetamines (Dexedrine) and stimulants (cocaine and crack). I was in a job that had me in direct contact with the public – I guess you could call it a customer service position. There came a point when my dwindling figure was so noticeable that I was getting a lot of comments from our business’s regular customers regarding my weight. My go-to excuse was that I was “just under a lot of stress lately.” And the truth of the matter was that I really was under a lot of stress, from leading a double life and also with struggling with the misery and brokenness I was feeling on the inside.
Lastly in the physical signs category is any detectable odor such as that of alcohol or else strong mouthwash or mints. A person who is secretly abusing alcohol will either smell like alcohol or these personal hygiene products as a way to mask the odor of the alcohol. And contrary to a common belief out there, vodka does smell. Many people struggling with alcoholism and who are trying to hide it think that vodka is a ‘safe’ poison drink of choice when it comes to hiding their addiction but it really isn’t.
How to Spot a Functional Addict: Behavioral
This one’s a little trickier than the last category but, someone who is abusing drugs will more than likely be demonstrating behavioral signs of their addiction, too. First, there’s the habitual tardiness and absences – this doesn’t always apply to the functional addict, however. The absences might be due to frequent illness (read: hangovers or being dope sick) or else multiple doctors’ appointments (known as doctor-shopping).
Also, the functional addict might have multiple pill bottles and always seem to be dipping into their purse or locker at work – whatever the case may be – to take their “medicine.” Of course, be careful with this as the person might actually have legitimate health issues and concerns that require the use of medications as well as frequent doctor’s visits in order to monitor whatever condition they have.
Other behaviors of a tell-tale functional addict are that they act secretive, always stealing away for something, disappearing, acting aloof, or being vague about details. The functional addict might also have an unusual or inappropriate wardrobe, for example, they always wear long sleeves, even in the summer. This could be an indication that they are hiding track marks.
How to Spot a Functional Addict: Mood
Again, this category calls for discretion when trying to weed out the functional addict in your life. That’s because someone might have a legitimate mood disorder such as depression, anxiety, or bipolar disorder. But, if someone close to you suddenly has a personality shift, and you already suspect drug use, it’s more than possible that this person is an addict in hiding. They might seem erratic, moody, emotional, and react in unexpected ways. Also, if you always feel like you have to walk on eggshells in their presence, this can be an indication of an emotional and psychological consequence they are experiencing as a result of their substance abuse.
This is because of the profound effect that drugs have on the chemistry of the brain. This impact is so dramatic, in fact, that the medical community’s stance on a mental health diagnosis made within 2 years of last drug use could be inaccurate. Considering that bit of information, you can see how someone who is hiding their addiction would emote differently than how they used to.
If you are struggling with an addiction but don’t really realize it because you seem to be doing fine on a daily basis, check in with yourself. Do you feel like you have to use a substance first thing when you wake up or throughout the day just so you can function and feel relatively normal? Are you feeling tired and fed up of this regimen? Or do you know someone who seems to fit the bill of a functional addict? If you said ‘yes’ to any of these and are unsure of what to do next, you can call us toll-free at 1-800-951-6135 around the clock to speak with an Addiction Specialist who can answer your questions about addiction and what to do next. Remember: you are not alone and help is available. Call today.