Author: Justin Mckibben
Recent data shows a drastic decrease in overdose in 2013, though it still remains remarkably high over-all as an issue in America. Staten Island is the so-called overlooked borough of New York City that has been despairingly dubbed ‘Heroin’s New Hometown’ by The New York Times publication. Back in 2006 New York State (NYS) introduced the ‘Opioid Prevention Act’ allowing the NYCDOH to distribute 50,000 Naloxone OD kits, and the decision to arm the general public with a first defense against overdose has apparently been well needed on the front lines on the war against the ‘heroin epidemic’.
Dr. Hillary Kunins is an Assistant Commissioner at the NYCDOH, stated that Staten Island has been the focus of an aggressive campaign to fight an overdose rate 4 times higher than any NYC borough! Dr Kunins is also the Director of Bureau of Alcohol and Drug Use Prevention Care at the NYDOH. Her and other expert physicians in the area believe in the impact that this resource can have on the community, and think it is appropriate to take the fight against heroin to the streets.
The Opiate and the Overdose
Dr. Harshai Kirane, the director of addiction at Staten Island Hospital, recently gave a presentation in a new teaching auditorium at Staten Island University Hospital (SIUH) on Staten Island. During this public presentation Dr.Kirane showed a video of how to spot the symptoms of overdose, and the proper and safe method to distribute Narcan, the brand name for Naloxone. During the lecture Dr Kirane made a statement that reflected the severity of the overdose epidemic in Staten Island, saying everyone should carry an OD kit!
Opiates are prescription pain relievers based on morphine, which have become more and more popular and more awareness has been brought to the dangerous effects these drug have on people who get them prescribed. Opiates are products, like heroin, derived from the morphine poppy plant, so most people use the term ‘opiate’ to refer to both types of narcotic, and those people who use prescription painkillers quite typically move on to using heroin. An overdose caused by an opiate is described using some physical symptoms such as:
- Shallow breathing
- Lips and fingers appearing gray
- Loss of consciousness
The Overdose Disruptor
Naloxone is the famous ‘miracle anti-OD drug’ that is currently being freely distributed to anyone that wants it by New York City’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (NYCDOH). If applied to a victim during overdose, the antidote will get rid of the effects of opiates temporarily, but with the possibility of returning the victim returning to an overdosed state once again. However that small period of time is enough opportunity to contact emergency services. It’s being called a time-out from death, the second chance or pause button is not a cure, but it’s definitely helping save lives.
How do you use Naloxone? Well the first thing you do is call 911, and then if the individual isn’t breathing attempt to give mouth-to-mouth resuscitation and apply the Narcan. The drug is only useful in an opiate overdose, and also it is a safe substance that would not harm someone who is not overdosing.
Getting the Kit Out
Dr. Kunins stated these kits include two doses of the intra-nasal form of Narcan. They were passed out to several community groups, as well as handed out to targeted individuals at risk of overdose, and even their families. The wonderful part was that the efforts included active drug users in a position to observe overdoses themselves.
With the kit the DOH gives away the two doses of Narcan come in a small blue bag with a nasal spray or a syringe shot. The kit also includes surgical gloves and rescue breathing mask. A single puncture in the shoulder with the syringe can be used to administer the drug into the bloodstream immediately and reverse the effects of the opioids, so the shot does not need to be taken intravenously. Spraying the medication up each nostril from the atomizer will have the same effect. Luckily, the process has been simplified and can be done by anyone.
Dr. Kunins believes that the Narcan program being used in collaboration with sensible prescription practices and raising awareness of the potential risk of overdose has all the potential to help reverse a disturbing nationwide trend. The climbing deaths due to both heroin and prescription opiate abuse and ultimately overdose has been devastating and disturbing for too long, and now has great potential to put power back in the hands of the people struggling most.
Thankfully, Staten Island is one of many areas that has started to take action in trying to overcome the overdose statistics across the country. With these kits being put in the possession of the public, more people are going to have a chance at surviving the disease of addiction. However real recovery comes with consistent growth, and it all starts with a willingness to change. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135
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.