Author: Justin Mckibben
America, not to mention a good chunk of the rest of the world has been experiencing a grave increase in drug related issues, including overdose deaths. In America it has been stated that prescription painkiller overdoses have become the leading cause of hospital visits, surpassing even car accidents.
Even though there are strong forces allied together that are pushing for drug policy reform, and harm reduction is expected to make major strides in 2015, some are still predicting even more overdose deaths to come in the next few years.
Straight From Farr’s Law
According to a recent study conducted by Columbia University that was published in the journal Injury Epidemiology, the drug overdose epidemic in the United States will actually peak in 2017, at about 50,000 annual deaths. The study came up with this figure by being the first to apply Farr’s Law on the rise and fall of epidemics to an outbreak that is not from the strict perspective of epidemiologists infectious in origin.
In the United States more than 40,000 people die every year by unintentional drug overdose as of now. Looking at the number over overdose deaths in 1980 that number has multiplied 10 fold! Salima Darakjy, a doctoral student at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, is an author of the study who stated,
“To some extent, drug use is a social behavior and has the potential to spread like a contagious disease among individuals in a network.”
The Columbia University study does however estimate some good news. According to their figures the drug overdose epidemic may soon be ending, despite the coming spike in fatalities. How did they come up with that if the future is looking to grim? In the mid-1800s a study on smallpox done by pioneering British epidemiologist William Farr, it was discovered that that the rate and duration of the epidemic’s rise was mirrored in its decline.
Things Get Worse Before They Get Better
Using that same formula, the researchers measured the progress of the drug overdose epidemic. Using Farr’s Law, the study found that the drug overdose epidemic should hit its peak at about 50,000 annual deaths in 2017, but then start declining to a non-epidemic state of approximately the same rate it was before the epidemic, putting the body-count at about 6,000 deaths in the year 2035.
According to the researchers at Columbia, the rate of deaths from prescription painkillers, which again are credited for 2/3 of all the overdose related deaths, has already showed signs of decreasing. With stricter regulations being implemented on painkillers to combat the ‘pill mill’ and ‘doctor shopping’ trends, many users have chosen to switch to heroin, which is cheaper and more readily available. Even with taking this substitution effect into account, the experts believe it is still unlikely to alter the course of the epidemic.
However in order for this kind of positive change to take place, public health efforts cannot take a break. Once the epidemic starts to dwindle, the country will still have to continue to take action to reverse the overdose problem.
Director of the Center for Injury Prevention at the Mailman School and professor of Epidemiology, Dr. Guohua Li stated,
“A decline in overdose deaths shouldn’t be used as justification to pull back. That would be wrong. If there is no intervention then the epidemic will last much longer.”
With National Center for Health Statistics data and continued public health resources being used to prevent overdoses, the study concluded that this revolutionary change in statistics was possible. For the year 2014 Congress has committed $20 million in spending on resources to fight the overdose epidemic plaguing the country. It is truly troubling to suspect that we may see a devastating increase in deaths sooner, but hopefully there is some light at the end of that tunnel.
The pandemic of drug overdoses in America is a harsh reality that our country has been faced with in the past few years, and some believe it might only get much worse too soon. While some believe that relief is just a few years away, it is possible for each of us to take the opportunities in front of us. If you are still alive, then you still have a chance. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135
Author: Justin Mckibben
Treatment for Prescription Painkiller Abuse: Symptoms of Addiction
Treatment for prescription painkiller abuse is intended to address people of all walks of life who are suffering from the same types of circumstances and symptoms. Some of the signs of addiction range in severity and can affect each individual differently, especially depending on the method which the individual abuses the substance. If you are considering treatment for prescription painkillers you may or may not experience several or all of these symptoms, but they are indicators.
- Increased tolerance
- Decreased level of testosterone for men
- Enlargement of the prostate for men
- Excessive sweating
- Swelling in the arms and legs
- Chronic constipation
- Dry mouth
- Respiratory distress
Then again, if you have taken the time to look up and article to give these answers, it’s safe to say you should consider it, whether you have all these symptoms or not.
Treatment for Prescription Painkiller Abuse: Signs of Withdrawal
One thing that tends to hold people back from getting the treatment for prescription painkiller abuse that they desperately need is the withdrawal process, because they are afraid to experience the discomfort. Treatment for prescription painkiller abuse should also include a stage where those symptoms are addressed and the maximum amount of comfort is provided throughout. Some on that list of painful and problematic withdrawal symptoms seem more intimidating than others, but treatment for prescription painkiller abuse means you will have access to a medical staff ay any point. These withdrawal symptoms include:
- Muscle and bone pain
- Muscle spasms
- Diarrhea and vomiting
- Chills and goose bumps
- Intense anxiety
Treatment for Prescription Painkiller Abuse: Detox
Before you do anything in treatment for prescription painkiller abuse you must go through the detox process. At treatment for prescription painkiller abuse they will give each individual an assessment and go through detoxification prior to starting your treatment and therapy. In detox, they will give you a drug screening and analyze which substances are in your system.
By seeing the drugs in your system and the levels they are at, they can determine how to medically detox you properly. You will be started on medication and gradually weaned off in a reasonable period of time without having to experience the great discomfort that can come from prescription painkiller abuse. The goal is to make you as comfortable as possible and to get you physically cleared of all substances before sending you to rehab.
Treatment for Prescription Painkiller Abuse: Therapy and Treatment
After someone has completed the detox stage of treatment for prescription painkiller abuse, the next step is to go into the inpatient rehab phase and start therapy, which provides one-on-one and peer counseling for learning how to stay sober.
In treatment for prescription painkiller abuse they will ask you a series of questions first to better get to know you and understand your history, in order to know the best plan of action. Once they have asked you these questions, they will choose a therapist that is best suited for your specific needs prior to you getting started on your treatment plan. Programs on treatment for prescription painkiller abuse typically take you to 12-step meetings daily and get you acquainted with the recovery community around you. In treatment, you learn coping skills and how to live your life without drugs and alcohol.
Treatment for Prescription Painkiller Abuse: Long-term Sobriety
Once the treatment for prescription painkillers has determined that an individual is ready to leave to structure of inpatient rehab, they will be given the opportunity to attend an IOP program. IOP (intensive outpatient program) is the phase of treatment for prescription painkiller abuse where you continue therapy and group sessions, but you no longer live in the rehabs residential facility anymore, and thus have a lot more freedom.
A lot of individuals opt to go into a halfway house once they have finished inpatient treatment for prescription painkiller abuse. A halfway house offers more stability than being on your own, but you are still able to have much more freedom than rehab itself. Individuals are commonly required to stay accountable to a few things, like:
- Have a job
- Go to meetings
- Paying rent
- Clean and do chores
- Be drug tested
- Get a sponsor
- Work a program
After treatment for prescription painkiller abuse, it is important to know you are in a good and safe sober living environment. A halfway house where they want you going to meetings and working a program of recovery is especially productive, because that atmosphere promotes positive growth. Treatment for prescription painkiller abuse can be difficult for some to get involved with, but seeing the many people who stick around and recover is an amazing experience, and treatment for prescription painkillers is that first step.
For all those who are struggling with prescription painkillers, 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 painkiller abuse can be the first and most important step, so be sure to step up. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135
Author: Justin Mckibben
2014 is just about done, and as we prepare ourselves for whatever series of adventures awaits us in 2015, we look back at a lot of historical moments we experienced in many areas of our culture, and a big one is the ‘War on Drugs’ and its progress internationally thus far. It was a year that was thick with violence, corruption, incarceration, addiction and stigma just to name a few. Many insist that the ‘War on Drugs’ is a failed enterprise that we will regret not having a better hold of later on, in fact 82% of Americans recently surveyed believe it has failed.
Some stories echo our larger issues and concerns such as military and economic resources. But when we take a closer look at these 6 headlines and see the bigger picture, these are just a few of the articles out there that seem to sift through the grimes to highlight why the policy of prohibition actually sustains the very drug war between governments, citizens, and cartels that claim lives on all sides.
- “El Chapo” Is Captured in Mexico
Not a single shot was fired when Mexican soldiers and cops closed in on “El Chapo” Guzmán, Sinaloa Cartel boss and former Forbes list billionaire back on February 22, 2014 in Mazatlán. While some say that’s the best possible outcome, others insist there is an underlining meaning that is a lot less optimistic.
The event made great copy. Attorney General Eric Holder called the arrest
“landmark achievement, and a victory for the citizens of both Mexico and the United States.”
However, according to an expert on Mexican drug traffickers George Grayson,
“The takedown of El Chapo is a thorn in the side, but not a dagger in the heart of the Sinaloa Cartel.”
Drug-related violence has continued in recent months. Second, was it all a set-up? Retired DEA officials seem to believe thiese circumstances sound a little more than far-fetched.
2. China’s Tobacco Epidemic
In China the tobacco habit is severe, killing around 1 million annually.
- Nearly 30% of adults smoke
- 53% of men smoke
In April The WHO encouraged China to use graphic warnings on cigarette packages to fight the tobacco epidemic.
Why did the epidemic emerge? According to law professor Charles Whitebread, a long-term change in US smoking patterns created partly by federal and state regulations helped prompt this drastic change in Asia. Cigarette companies were soon confronted with a restricted market in America, so many opted to shifting their operations out of the United States and into China, Whitebread concluded.
At a 2012 conference, officials proposed the idea of price and tax measures to reduce the demand for tobacco, among the idea for graphic warnings and other initiatives.
China may adopt these proposals. Its government is considering a hike in cigarette taxes, while Beijing is considering a ban on smoking in all the city’s indoor public spaces, on public transport and in the workplace.
3. Pot Legalization Politics
Tuesday November 4th, 2014 the voting midterms drew to a close by early evening and as all the results were tallied and laws were forged and forfeited, it became clear that voters were largely in favor of legalizing marijuana in several states.
Oregon, Washington D.C. and Alaska were among the states in America that had weed winning in the midterms for various forms of legalization of marijuana.
A year ago Uruguay became the world’s first country to legalize the production and sale of marijuana. And in May, it publicized the regulations that will govern its marijuana market. President José Mujica argued that comparing Uruguay’s pot policies with Colorado’s that the United States marijuana model is one where “you prescribe it yourself” as opposed to the Uruguayan system, which regulates consumers.
President Mujica said the Uruguay policy is not designed to promote and expand marijuana use, just to regulate the present population of smokers. Residents 18 and older will be able to choose between three forms of access to non-medical weed
Each buyer will register with the government and be restricted to 10 grams each week.
4. Amphetamine Accelerates in Asia
In the year 2014 national experts have indicated that in East and Southeast Asia the use of ATS [amphetamine-type stimulants] has both increased and diversified, according to the UN Office on Drugs and Crime’s annual World Drug Report.
A paper published in Brookings Institution in March of 2014 further elaborated on this idea, stating that China has increasingly evolved into a producing country of new synthetic substances, amphetamine-type stimulants (ATS) in particular. The report also stated that China is a final consumption market for those same substances, stating:
“38 percent of registered drug users, almost 800,000 people, were identified as users of ATS.”
5. Afghan Opium Cultivation Reaches Record Levels
2014 also was a year for record level of Opium production in Afghanistan. The US military noted in October that regions opium poppy cultivation has almost tripled since 1994. Mother Jones reported,
“That’s despite more than a decade of American efforts to knock out the Afghan drug trade—at a cost of roughly $7.6 billion.”
Other reports claim the last time opium trafficking and production was markedly reduced in Afghanistan was in 2000—the last year the Taliban was in power.
Then later in 2001, only one of the country’s regions continued extensive cultivation. That region just happened to be the 5% of the territory the Washington-allied Northern Alliance controlled, and the United States had teamed with these warlords to assault the Taliban after 9/11.
Some claim that the US military presence has been enriching warlords at the expense of others, and that the booming “illicit trade” is also a vital source of funding for the Taliban insurgency, and a major contributor to the country’s rampant corruption.
According to a recent disclosure, Washington is actually planning to increase the number of troops in 2015 present in Afghanistan, but with so many claiming that American military activity only seems to promote the drug trade, will this really help the ‘War on Drugs’ in the area?
6. Prescription Painkillers #1 Overdose Offender in America
According to a recent national study of hospital emergency department visits for opioid overdoses published online by JAMA Internal Medicine, 67.8% of the overdoses had prescription opioids (including methadone) involved. This number was followed closely by heroin overdoses, and other unspecified opioids and multiple opioids.
The study analyzed 2010 data from the Nationwide Emergency Department Sample and was adjusted to generate national estimates. Opioid drugs including:
These were the medications prescribed by doctors that are credited as the cause of the estimated 92,200 hospital visits, which is more than 5 times the number of deaths involving opioid painkillers in 2010.
Researchers found that out of all recorded emergency room visits that were a result of a drug overdose:
- Heroin accounted for 16.1%
- Unspecified opioids accounted for 13.4%
- Multiple opioid types accounted for 2.7%
- While even fewer than 2% of overdoses treated in emergency rooms were fatal.
7. Political Leaders Call for End of ‘Drug War’
The ‘War on Drugs’ has never been limited to US soil, and in many of these international cases we seem how even change in other countries can effect Americans. Earlier this year there was a report published by the London School of Economics titled “Ending the Drug Wars”. The report was signed by several officials including:
- 5 Nobel prize-winning economists
- Britain’s deputy prime minister
- A former US Secretary of State
“The pursuit of a militarized and enforcement-led global ‘war on drugs’ strategy has produced enormous negative outcomes and collateral damage,”
The report went on to state:
“new global drug strategy should be based on principles of public health, harm reduction…and human rights.”
Four months later, the Global Commission on Drug Policy picked up where this report left off, when several high ranking officials called for:
“governments to decriminalize a variety of illegal drugs and set up regulated drug markets within their own countries.”
These 7 are all just a few examples of how politics and policies have played out in 2014, and notes how we can start to see a slight shift in an attempt to try and provoke change in the way the world collectively views and addresses the ‘War on Drugs’ on all fronts.
At the same time, it goes to question whether or not the ‘War on Drugs’ is a wholesale failure, or if the primary method needs to be shifted from prohibition to education and regulation. Some think maybe the focus should stop being put on punishing those arrested for drug charges and more on providing chances for treatment.
While the ‘War on Drugs’ may have a lot of changes coming in 2015, the opinion varies as to whether that means the fighting will dwindle, or if the struggles will rage on as people try to adapt, both citizens, authorities and cartels. One thing is for sure, drug and alcohol treatment will continue to strive toward innovation in whatever way to do its part. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135
By Cheryl Steinberg
New York State is trying something new when it comes to educating people about the dangers of drug use: it’s releasing Public Service Announcements (PSAs) to be shown in movie theatres across the state.
In efforts to address the alarming rise in heroin use throughout the state, New York is releasing these PSAs with the goal of warning moviegoers about the dangers of heroin use.
Drug Dangers PSAs Shown in Movie Theaters
The new strategy in fighting the heroin scourge began last Friday and feature testimonials from recovering heroin users who tell their personal stories about how their drug use affected both their lives and the lives of their loved ones. Because of the subject of the PSAs, they will only be shown before features that are rated PG-13 and R-rated movies. The current New York State Governor Andrew M. Cuomo says the campaign is part of the state’s plan to “push back” against heroin and prescription drug use.
Some Statistics on Opiate Use
This year, there were 91,000 hospital admissions in which heroin and prescription opiate abuse was the cause – a drastic increase when compared to just five years ago when there were 76,000 medical admissions. Also, there were more deaths from heroin overdoses in New York City than any year since 2013, with 420 out of 782 fatal heroin overdoses. The fact is, heroin-related deaths have more than doubled in the city since 2010.
In 2000, only 5% of people admitted to drug treatment centers checked in for heroin and other opiate addictions, but last year that number soared to 23%. Local hospitals have also reported more emergency room visits related to heroin in recent years.
And it’s not just a Big Apple issue; heroin use has crept into the suburbs and smaller cities throughout the state. In the Albany area, for example, a bag of heroin costs $10, which is just half the cost than it was only a few years ago. And with reports from those on the front lines – law enforcement officers – heroin today is stronger and more concentrated than ever before, leading to a higher demand, higher rate of use, higher overdose rates, and higher number of fatalities. Basically, opiate drug users are trading in their painkiller addiction for an addition to heroin because, simply-put, it’s more bang for their buck.
Crackdown on Prescription Painkillers Leads to Heroin Resurgence
“By taking away opiate pain pills, we are not necessarily reducing the demand for them,” said Dr. Bruce Masalak an addiction specialist at St. Mary’s Hospital in Amsterdam. “Heroin is an attractive substitute to feed that addiction.”
Some local communities have taken action to help address this problem. The Rensselaer County system, for example, has launched a venue for ongoing dialogue about substance abuse in their community, holding meetings and support groups to help address the issue.
Auerbach Lyman, who lost her son Jeremiah to drug use and attends the support group meetings shared, “He was functioning. He went to school every day. He was always out and about,” “You just want to rewind time.”
If you are struggling or you suspect that someone you love is struggling with heroin abuse, opiate addiction, or any other substance abuse disorder, you can call toll-free 1-800-951-6135 to speak with an Addiction Specialist around the clock.
By Cheryl Steinberg
If you are recovering from an addiction to opiates, the bad news is that you will most likely experience cravings and you’ll find it difficult to experience pleasure in the little things – an ability that people who don’t suffer from addiction possess.
Now for the good news. You can absolutely reduce your cravings and the method by which you can accomplish this just so happens to knock out the second drawback listed above. In a nutshell: by learning to enjoy other aspects of their lives, you can avoid cravings and find your joy.
Sounds like it’s easier said than done, right? However, the truth is that you have all the tools within you to accomplish boosting your ability to experience pleasure after being in active addiction to opiates. And, it’s something that will serve you in all aspects of your life. And – yes, another “and” – for many in recovery, it’s already a part of – or goal of – their recovery program.
Recovering from Opiate Addiction: Learning to Boost Pleasure
The key finding in a new study that was published in the Journal of Behavioral Medicine by Eric L. Garland, associate professor at the University of Utah College of Social Work, revealed this very solution. Garland and colleagues studied how an intervention program called Mindfulness-Oriented Recovery Enhancement (MORE) could positively impact chronic pain patients who were prescribed opiate painkillers by decreasing their desire for those drugs.
The MORE intervention focuses on helping people to rediscover a sense of meaning and fulfillment in everyday their everyday lives by embracing pleasures – and even pain – without turning to substance use as a coping mechanism. MORE integrates the latest research on addiction, cognitive neuroscience, positive psychology and mindfulness. The participants in Garland’s study were instructed on applying mindfulness-oriented techniques over the course of eight weeks in order to alleviate pain and craving while at the same time strengthening positive emotions and the sense of reward and meaning in life.
Here’s an example from the study to give you a better idea of what the instruction taught: in order to enhance their sense of reward in life, the study’s participants were taught a “mindful savoring practice,” in which they focused their attention on pleasant experiences such as a beautiful scene in nature, like a sunset, or else a feeling of connection with a loved one. Then, in a meditation session, the participants were taught to focus their awareness on the colors, textures, and scents of a bouquet of fresh flowers and to appreciate the sense of joy arising from the experience.
The participants also had daily homework, which involved practicing the same meditation technique as a way to enjoy other pleasant life experiences.
The new research shows that, after a sample of chronic pain patients misusing opioids completed MORE, their EEGs exhibited an increase in brain activation to natural, healthy pleasures. Furthermore, the more their brains became active in response to natural healthy pleasures, the less the patients craved opioids.
“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,” said Garland.
“This study suggests that this process can be reversed. We can teach people to use mindfulness to appreciate and enjoy life more, and by doing that, they may feel less of a need for addictive drugs. It’s a powerful finding.”
Garland, who developed MORE intervention, said that his method is also being tested for application with people who want to lose weight or quit smoking.
Have you tried to quit using opiates or other substances but found that the cravings were too powerful and seemingly impossible to overcome? Palm Partners offers a safe and comfortable medical detox as well as cutting edge therapies, including meditation and mindfulness, it helping clients to overcome this very difficult situation. Please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135.