Author: Shernide Delva
As most know by now, the opioid epidemic has reached epic proportions. In the U.S. alone, more than 15 million people abuse prescription drugs. The leading cause of accidental death in the United States are opioid overdoses, with 52,404 lethal drug overdoses in 2015.
In 2012, 259 million prescriptions were written for painkillers, such as Vicodin and OxyContin. When these drugs are abused, they present some of the same risks as heroin on the street. Furthermore, as prescription opioids are regulated, more and more people are turning to heroin making the risk of a fatal overdose even greater.
With all that said, how exactly do opioids affect the body? We wanted to explore several areas of the body and understand how opioid abuse specifically affected each area. Whether it is prescription drugs or heroin, opioids affect almost every part of your body. Long-term use can lead to permanent damage to your health. Read on further to learn how the body reacts to abuse of opioids. Treatment can put a stop to the risk and address issues that may have already arisen in the body.
The Effects of Opioid Use on the Body:
Painkillers are known to have side effects such as extreme drowsiness which can result in needing stimulant medication to counteract this effect. For example, heroin can elicit profound drowsiness. Abusers frequently experience bouts of ‘nodding off’ as they slip in and out of consciousness. Over time, the use of painkillers results in an increased risk fo major depression. Patients using painkillers for more than six months has a 50 percent greater chance of developing depressive episodes.
THE RESPIRATORY SYSTEM
Opioid overdoses can lead to a condition known as respiratory depression. It essentially means that breathing slows down significantly. The body goes into respiratory arrest and deprives the brain and body tissues of oxygen.
THE DIGESTIVE SYSTEM
Opioids affect the muscles of the digestive system making constipation common. This effect is due to the slowing of the digestive transit. The gastrointestinal motility and chronic constipation associated with opioid abuse can lead to more severe conditions such as small bowel obstruction, perforation, and resultant peritonitis. Nausea is very common among opioid users along with sudden, uncontrollable vomiting.
THE NERVOUS SYSTEM
The chronic use of opioid painkillers can lead to a syndrome that can increase your sensitivity to pain resulting in a condition known as hyperalgesia. Furthermore, opioid use may result in psychomotor impairment and an overall slowing of a person’s physical movements and loss of coordination.
THE IMMUNE SYSTEM
Opioid use affects the immune system which means you’re more vulnerable to getting illnesses or feeling under the weather. The opioid receptors regulate immunity so long-term opioid abuse can negatively affect this process.
Most people are unaware of how many opioid painkillers contain acetaminophen, the same ingredient found in Tylenol. Excessive use of these drugs can cause liver damage from toxicity. Damage to the liver is an undeniable risk to taking excessive amounts of prescription painkillers like Vicodin. When you add alcohol to the mix— as many opioid-dependent users do—it makes a risky situation, even more,
Overall, opioids affect every part of the body, and we did not even mention the psychological impacts of drug abuse. Opioid use disorder wreaks havoc on your life and the life of those around you. Do not wait for the potentially life-altering consequences of opioid abuse to take its toll. Please call to speak to a professional treatment support specialist today. Please call now.
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Author: Shernide Delva
In order to help offset the sky-rocketing costs of addiction and rehab, a California legislator wants to tax OxyContin, Vicodin and other prescription opioids. Should this be considered throughout the country?
Over the last few years, Los Angeles County has led the state when it comes to opioid drug overdoses. As a result, California lawmaker Kevin McCarty announced a new bill that would implement a 1 cent-per-milligram tax on prescription opioids to help offset the expense of rehab services.
“What we have here is a plan to create a surcharge of opiate sales in California and redirect all those moneys to provided needed services for the communities,” McCarty explained.
In 2014, more than 2,000 people died of opioid overdoses in California. In the United States, 91 people die of opioid-related causes every single day.
With this proposed law, taxes would be placed on opioid prescription wholesales, and could also impact prices for manufactures. However, some are concerned that the cost will be passed down to patients.
Emergency Room physician Dr. Stephen Kishineff was concerned that addicts who buy opioids illegally won’t be the ones shouldering the tax.
“Really the end users are going to pay for it because they’re going to pay for it in higher prescription costs or higher insurance premiums,” said Kishineff.
But he added the intention is good.
“As a society, it’s kind of a nice idea for a tax to be put on something that can be abused in order to help somebody who is abusing it,” Kishineff said.
McCarty estimates minimal impact on consumers, and if any, would be roughly a few dollars a month.
“So we think there is a real nexus between the opioid industry and the problem that we’re seeing out there on the streets. So this ties the two things together to address the problem,” McCarty said.
In the past, similar legislation was proposed at the federal level, but if the new McCarty bill becomes law, California would be the first state to enact such a tax on painkillers.
It is important to note that the funds from this tax would go towards funding rehabilitation services. The tax would be imposed on wholesalers, not at the point of sale, and would require two-thirds approval in the legislature.
“California’s opioid epidemic has cost state taxpayers millions and the lives of too many of our sons and daughters,” McCarty said in a statement. “We must do more to help these individuals find hope and sobriety. This plan will provide counties with critical resources needed to curb the deadly cycle of opioid and heroin addiction in California.”
If passed, the surcharge would raise tens of millions for county drug treatment programs. These funds would help the endless amount of addicts who lack the financial support to seek proper treatment.
Do you think a law like this could be effective?
If so, should other states follow suit? One argument is that a law like this opens the door for other prescriptions drug taxes. It also punishes chronic pain suffers who use painkillers in a safe, non-addictive way.
In the comment section of the article, several people argued against the tax, saying it posed an unfair punishment to honest prescription pain killer patients.
“I say this proposal is ridiculous. I don’t use that medicine. I don’t believe people should be taxed because of others irresponsibility. If they want to overdose let them it’s their choice.”
“Rub salt in the wounds why don’t you! Unlike cigarette tax, this med tax would compound an already painful and difficult situation for those who really need it, because of those who really don’t…adding insult to injury!”
Clearly, this is a topic up for serious debate. What we know for sure is that addiction is a serious problem and treatment is necessary to overcome it. If you need help, please reach out to professionals. We are waiting for your call. Call now.
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Author: Shernide Delva
A while back, CVS made the bold decision to cease the sale of tobacco products in their stores. Now, new data reveals their decision to stop selling cigarettes contributed to a drop in tobacco purchases from all retailers. Furthermore, CVS customers were 38% more likely to stop buying cigarettes, according to research from the American Journal of Public Health.
The analysis comes less than three years after the company stopped selling all tobacco products. The move garnered national attention from public health advocates, doctors, and even the white house.
“After CVS’s tobacco removal, household- and population-level cigarette purchasing declined significantly,” the study concluded.
CVS officially stopped selling tobacco products as of October 1, 2014, at its CVS/pharmacy stores. The decision had the greatest impact on customers who bought cigarettes only at CVS drugstores. Those particular customers were 38% more likely to stop buying cigarettes altogether.
To gather those numbers, the study used household purchasing data to examine American households that stopped buying cigarettes for at least six months during the period of September 2014 to August 2015. The study, written by CVS executives and paid for by the company, was a peer-reviewed article, the journal disclosed.
“When we removed tobacco from our shelves, a significant number of our customers simply stopped buying and hopefully smoking cigarettes altogether instead of just altering their cigarette purchasing habits,” Dr. Troyen Brennan, CVS Health chief medical officer, said in a statement.
“This research proves that our decision had a powerful public health impact by disrupting access to cigarettes and helping more of our customers on their path to better health.”
The decision by CVS to cut off tobacco sales amounted to a loss of $2 billion in annual sales that existed when it sold cigarettes. Still, the drugstore’s overall sales have been increasing in the last three years thanks to new business from the Affordable Care Act which benefit the pharmacy. CVS is growing significantly as a medical service business.
As for its rivals, the CVS decision has not triggered a trend. None of the other stores such as Wal-Mart, Rite Aid or Walgreens Boots Alliance have followed suit with their own plans to stop selling cigarettes. The pressure from the public and some of their shareholders has not made enough of an impact to change their mind. Walgreens, for example, has instead decided to push more smoking cessation products alongside their tobacco products.
The response from customers in regards to the ban was mixed. Some commended the stand from CVS saying it was a step in the right direction. These days, smoking is banned in restaurants, schools, and even certain parks, so the move did seem to follow the ongoing trend.
On the other hands, many people were outraged at the decision. Some stated it was hypocritical because CVS continues to sell alcohol, candy, and sugary drinks, which can be equally as harmful to the health. Therefore, the argument was made that it is the choice of the customer, not CVS, to decide.
With these recent results, it is evident that CVS may have gotten the result they were hoping for. More outside studies are needed to fully determine the impact the ban had on smoking trends. Still, it sends a message loud and clear that CVS will no longer support tobacco products.
What do you think about the ban? Should other pharmacies follow? In recovery, it is important to take steps to living a healthy life. Perhaps quitting smoking is something you should consider. If you are struggling to quit smoking, or are struggling with any addiction, please call now. We want to help.
CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135
(This content is being used for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted in the content is a model)
Author: Shernide Delva
Every 25 minutes, a baby is born addicted to opioids. The use of opioids results in newborns born with a condition called neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS), and it is essentially when a baby is born withdrawing from drugs. The condition causes a newborn to suffer through a variety of withdrawal symptoms resulting in lengthy and costly overnight hospital stays.
A study from 2012 estimated that nearly 21,731 babies are born with this condition. With the rise of drug addiction, more babies than ever are born addicted to substances mothers consumed during pregnancy. Often, these mothers are too consumed by their addiction to nurture their child.
Now, hospitals are fighting back by recruiting volunteers to cuddle these innocent babies. A few cuddles from selfless volunteers may be just what they need to heal. These babies have incredible obstacles to overcome from the moment they leave the womb. Healing from neonatal abstinence syndrome is a long painful process. Nurses wean babies off of their withdrawal symptoms by administrating smaller and smaller doses of morphine or methadone.
The good news is that a program developed by veteran nurse Jane Cavanaugh of Thomas Jefferson University Hospital is proving to drastically help with the treatment process. Cavanaugh knew she had to do something to help the staggering amount of babies born with NAS. She came up with an ingenious plan that let people volunteer to help cuddle and hold newborns in an attempt to help them through their withdrawals.
“These babies going through withdrawal need to be held for extended periods,” Cavanaugh tells Philly.com. “They need human touch. They need soothing. They need talking,”
Shortly after the program was announced on Philly.com, it quickly exceeded capacity on volunteers. Philadelphia readers eagerly wrote in asking how they could become a baby snuggler. The list is currently full and won’t reopen until July 2017.
Maribeth McLaughlin, chief nursing officer and vice president of Patient Care Services at Magee-Women’s Hospital of UPMC in Pittsburgh, strongly supports Cavanaugh’s treatment solution. According to her, the cuddling and snuggling seem to be helping.
“[Cuddling] is helping them manage through these symptoms, They are very irritable; they are hard to console. This is about swaddling them and giving them that comfort and safe, secure feeling,” she told Today.com.
McLaughlin, who oversees a group of volunteers for the program, found that cuddling expedites the healing process. She discovered that babies in withdrawal who are held go home sooner and need less medication on average than those that are not held.
Overall, the program demonstrates that cuddling helps babies through their dependencies. Even more comforting, it helps the parents by creating a liaison between the children and their mothers who often feel characterized by the doctors and nurses.
Anyone interested in snuggling babies should reach out to volunteer programs in their area. Although not every hospital will have this exact program, many do and need volunteers to help. So far, hospitals in Texas, Ohio Chicago, California (and much more) have similar programs. Try calling your local hospital and ask about their volunteer services. Even if they do not have this exact program, you could find another way to contribute.
This form of treatment proves that touching and human connection often make the biggest impact in the healing process. Babies who are held and cuddled, on average, go home sooner than those who were not held during treatment. Perhaps, these results say a lot about human nature. If you or anyone you know is struggling with substance use disorder or mental illness, please call now.
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Author: Shernide Delva
Drug overdoses have skyrocketed across the United States, and as a result, the popularity and accessibility of naloxone have risen as well. Most pharmacies now carry naloxone and even schools are carrying it in the event of an overdose emergency. Nationwide, naloxone is available to emergency departments and paramedics who find they are using the overdose antidote more than ever before.
While the use of naloxone is saving countless lives, one of the major battles first responders are facing is that they often administer naloxone to the same people over and over again. The repeated overdoses have many pondering; Where do we go from here? What is the next step after naloxone?
After the Overdose Reversal
First responders have acknowledged the pattern of repeated overdoses throughout the country. While an overdose often is a turning point for many, for others it is not enough to stop the active addiction. Therefore, in many areas of the country, first responders and community members have launched programs to reach out to those who recently overdosed. These programs aim to offer resources on overdose prevention, mental health counseling and substance use disorder treatment.
In July 2015, the Township of Colerain, Ohio, started a post-naloxone outreach program led by their Director of Public Safety, Daniel Meloy. Ohio has some of the highest rates of drug overdoses in the country. Under the program, representatives from the Colerain Police Department, the Colerain Fire Department, and Addiction Services Council all meet to review overdose reports from the previous week. Then, the representatives, known collectively as the Rapid Response Team, go into their community to visit the homes where the overdoses occurred.
“We knock on doors and ask to speak with either the person who overdosed or any friends or family,” says Shana Merrick, a social worker with Addiction Services Council. “We explain that we are not there to make an arrest, but to offer resources to keep the person healthy, safe and well. Most people open their doors and we talk about their situation and needs.”
In cases where a person lacks medical insurance, these programs help them find insurance. For those who are not eligible for insurance or Medicaid or simply can’t afford insurance, there are dedicated funds to help pay for treatment costs.
“About 80% of the people we see eventually seek some form of treatment,” says Shana. “It’s not always right away, but if we build a relationship over time then they may contact us later on asking for help.”
One of the biggest challenges is treatment capacity. When all beds are full, Shana enrolls people in intensive outpatient programs until a slot opens up at a traditional inpatient program. Some will enroll in medication-assistant treatment programs. Another challenge is staying in touch with people who are transient and may have changed address or phone numbers.
Shana and The Rapid Response Team are fortunate to have a variety of resources available to them to help guide people. Other places are not so fortunate. The Santa Fe Prevention Alliance in New Mexico have similar post-overdose outreach program but have fewer resources to utilize.
“There aren’t a lot of substance use or mental health treatment services in our area where we can refer people,” says Bernie, who visits people who have recently overdosed each week, along with a paramedic from the Santa Fe Fire Department.
“We do offer to help people find treatment facilities if they want, but during most of our visits we work with families to come up with an overdose response plan, offer naloxone and training on how to use it, and brainstorm about how to reduce the risk of another overdose. People are excited and respond well to us. No one has ever refused to let us visit.”
Do These Programs Work?
The purpose of these programs is helping those who have recently overdosed from overdosing again. The vast majority of people are receptive to receiving help. In some cases, they may not want help right away but often reach out in the future.
There is a critical overdose epidemic nationwide, and communities are exploring ways to help past the initial overdose reversal. Post-naloxone programs do offer hope, however they are just one solution to a very complex issue. There is not a quick-fix one-step solution–—not naloxone, not post-overdose outreach programs, not more inpatient treatment, not injected medications that block cravings for opioids—is a magic cure.
A combination of efforts that explore a diverse range of treatment options is key. While saving lives using naloxone is extremely important, the post-naloxone addict needs just as much assistance. What are your thoughts? If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, please call now. Do not wait.
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