Author: Shernide Delva
In the past, we’ve talked about the potential of opioid vaccines. These vaccines could have a major impact on lowering a number of opioid overdose deaths. They could completely shift the direction of how we treat opioid addiction. However, is the future of opioids imminent or far, far away?
Sadly, it will be a long time before we see opioid vaccines available for widespread use. Experts all agree that although the future of opioid vaccines looks bright, the process of getting a drug into the market is a lengthy one and we should not hold our breath just yet.
Recently, Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price mentioned opioid vaccines as an exciting new development in the war against opioid abuse.
“One of the exciting things that they’re actually working on is a vaccine for addiction, which is incredibly exciting,” Price said during a briefing about the drug epidemic.
However, experts say it won’t be made public for years… if ever.
The process of a drug going from the research phase to the production phase is a long, tedious process. Opioid addiction vaccines have not even begun human trials yet. Researchers would have to put drugs through phase one, two and three trials before submitting them for approval by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), given that the trials are successful.
“He may be a physician, but he’s not terribly well-informed about addictions,” said Dr. Thomas R. Kosten, a psychiatry professor at the Baylor College of Medicine with a concentration in addiction vaccines. “I can’t imagine the vaccine would be on the market before the Trump administration is over.”
Dr. Kosten knows all about vaccines. He worked on cocaine vaccines for 16 years before deciding that it “just didn’t work well enough” to continue. Today, he is working on a vaccine for fentanyl, an opioid painkiller up to 100 times stronger than morphine. Fentanyl has been a major culprit for overdose deaths in the current opioid epidemic.
Those who previously used painkillers turn to heroin due to the lower price and easier access. Unfortunately, often heroin is not just heroin and instead is laced with powerful painkillers like fentanyl which make a user much more susceptible to an overdose.
Dr. Kosten hopes his work on the vaccine will pan out, but he wants to ensure people are not holding their breath. These things take time.
“There are no opiate vaccines that have been in people at this point,” said Dr. Kosten.
Even if the vaccine passes trials and goes into full-scale production, it would only be used therapeutically, not as a preventative measure.
“The purpose is not to “mass-immunize a whole bunch of kids,” Dr. Kosten said. “That’s not at all what they’re designed for.”
For now, the vaccine is proving to be effective in animal testing. However, this is not necessarily good news.
“Sometimes, the translation from animals is not necessarily the same in humans. So we have to do the human studies,” said Dr. Ivan Montoya of NIDA’s Division of Therapeutics and Medical Consequences.
The goal of the vaccine is to allow the body’s own immune system to combat opioids before they can reach the brain and take effect.
“We don’t have to modify the brain to produce the effect,” said Dr. Montoya. “You take advantage of your own immune system and prevent access of the drug to the brain.”
In the future, Dr. Montoya hopes to come up with a vaccine that can block the effects of a wide range of opioids including fentanyl, heroin, and OxyContin.
While the prospect of opioid vaccines sounds promising, we are still far away from this becoming a reality. Therefore, stating vaccines as an exciting solution to the opioid epidemic is a bit of a stretch for now. Instead, the focus should be placed on increasing access to treatment. With the right program, recovery is possible. If you are struggling with substance abuse, call now. Do not wait.
CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135
Author: Shernide Delva
Chronic pain can be extremely difficult to manage. Pain management involves a variety of treatment options, but one area that desperately needs attention is the psychological impact of chronic pain. According to researchers, about half of adults with chronic pain also experience anxiety or mood disorders like depression.
The findings, published online in the Journal of Affective Disorders, highlight the need to offer treatment and resources to those struggling with the psychological impact of chronic pain.
“The dual burden of chronic physical conditions and mood and anxiety disorders is a significant and growing problem,” said Silvia Martins, MD, Ph.D., associate professor of Epidemiology at the Mailman School of Public Health, and senior author.
The research examined data to analyze the associations between mood and anxiety disorder and self-reported chronic physical conditions. 5,037 participants in São Paulo, Brazil participated in the interview process.
Among individuals with mood disorders, chronic pain was reported by 50 percent, followed by respiratory disease at 33 percent, cardiovascular disease at 10 percent, arthritis by 9 percent, and diabetes by 7 percent.
Anxiety disorders were also common among those with chronic pain reported at 45 percent, and respiratory at 30 percent, as well as arthritis and cardiovascular disease, each 11 percent.
“These results shed new light on the public health impact of the dual burden of physical and mental illness,” said Dr. Martins. “Chronic disease coupled with a psychiatric disorder is a pressing issue that health providers should consider when designing preventive interventions and treatment services — especially the heavy mental health burden experienced by those with two or more chronic diseases.”
Chronic Pain and Painkiller Addiction
One common treatment for chronic pain is the use of prescription painkillers. Opioids like Vicodin, OxyContin, and Percocet affect specific parts of the brain that reduce the perception of pain. However, along with reducing the perception of pain, these medications also release feel-good chemicals in the brain, often leading to dependence.
With this study, it is clear why chronic pain sufferers are susceptible to opioid dependence due to a variety of factors including the need for feel-good chemicals like dopamine. Chemicals like dopamine and serotonin are lacking in those with depression and anxiety.
Many patients who take prescription painkillers do so without forming any dependence. In some, opioid use generates negative side effects such as nausea, making them more unwilling to use the drug’s long-term. Still, some individuals are so desperate for pain relief, that they take larger doses than prescribed more frequently. Not long after, a full-blown addiction develops.
It is important to note that there is no way to know whether a prescription painkiller user will develop an addiction to opioids. However, factors like having a family history of addiction, struggling with mood disorders such as depression or anxiety, or experiencing a past trauma, such as physical or sexual abuse all increase the risk. Those who have struggled with previous addiction are at a higher risk as well.
Another dangerous aspect of opioid addiction is that it often leads to heroin use. Health officials confirm that this is not uncommon. Because painkillers are more difficult to obtain and more expensive, many users turn to using heroin. Heroin is in a similar drug classification as opioids and is easy to obtain for cheap on the street.
Overall, this study says a lot about the way mental disorders and addiction often go hand in hand. That’s why so many treatment centers offer a dual diagnosis program. Therefore, if you struggle with mental illness, addiction or both, please call now. We want to help.
CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135
Author: Shernide Delva
The opioid epidemic has reached record-breaking numbers, and with that shift comes many seeking to recover from opioid addiction. However, the withdrawal process for opioids can be a very uncomfortable process.
It is advisable to seek medical treatment to recover from opioid dependence. This process usually involves detox and professional treatment to address the addiction. It is a bad idea to try and quit cold turkey on your own terms.
Without professional addiction treatment, people who quit opioid use on their own risk severe complications. While opioid withdrawal is not fatal necessarily, related complications can be dangerous. Even with the utmost determination and preparation, the painful side effects of withdrawal can cause even the strongest-willed person to relapse.
How Addiction and Withdrawal Works
In the brain, opioids target receptors that govern things like mood, emotion, feeling of reward and the natural pain response. When opioids hit these receptors, they cause them to over-fire, leading to short-term feelings of euphoria. Over time, the intensity of these feelings dwindles leading to the need to take more of these substances to feel good. That is why dependence begins to occur.
With regular use, your brain rewires, and eventually, the use of opioids will be the only way to feel pleasure. All other activities that gave you joy will fall by the wayside, and your main goal will be to obtain your next high.
All of this can happen relatively quickly, sometimes within a few weeks. What makes addiction to opioids severe is the level of tolerance that quickly follows. Within a week of using the drug, you may find you need to take more to achieve the same effects, and if you continue to use that amount regularly, your addiction will become much more severe. Eventually, you will need several times more a day than a doctor would ever prescribe—a recipe for a very difficult withdrawal.
Withdrawal occurs when your body tries to adjust to not having the substance anymore. When you quit cold turkey, it is like seeing the wall you are leaning on crumble. It can have very shocking effects on your system.
Opiate Withdrawal Complications
It can take weeks to recovery from substance abuse. The effects of withdrawal can be severe. Within a few days, you are likely to encounter a few of these withdrawal symptoms.
A few days later, more severe symptoms can occur like:
- Painful abdominal cramping
- Severe nausea
- Chills and shivers
Opioid addiction may cause you to experience hallucinations, severe body tremors, and even suicidal thoughts. It is important to be aware of these symptoms and to have medical professionals monitoring you throughout the process. Medical professionals also have medications and holistic alternatives to help guide you through the detox process.
The biggest risk during the detox period is that you will relapse. People who quit cold turkey often start off feeling strong and determined, but severe withdrawals completely change that mindset. Many reach a point in which they would do absolutely anything to get ahold of the drug, even if it means hurting others.
Sadly, if you relapse after withdrawal, you have a higher chance of not surviving the next high. Because your tolerance decreases during detox, your body will not handle the same amount of opioids that you were used to taking. Therefore, if you relapse and take the same amount of opioid medication that you did prior, you may accidentally overdose.
While withdrawal itself may not be fatal, the instances of addicts dying due to relapsing after withdrawal are common. Furthermore, there are cases of addicts dying during the withdrawal process. Some addicts forget to keep themselves hydrated which can lead to electrolyte disturbances. The body is also prone to infections or other complications, which can have deadly consequences.
Overall, quitting cold turkey is a bad idea. It may seem like a simple solution at first, but please understand the danger you risk by doing this on your own. Remember, so many people are struggling with addiction. Instead, call us today. We have professionals waiting to get you on the right track. Recovery is possible. Call now.
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
When it comes to looking for addiction treatment, there are a variety of concerns that need addressing. One important decision is whether or not to travel for recovery or stay at home. Regardless of what you decide, the primary concern should be finding the right treatment for your needs.
That said, sometimes it is necessary to travel for treatment to receive the best care. People often turn to their insurance to figure out what treatment centers are covered under their benefits. Many plans offer a variety of treatment options, and while some options are local, others are further away.
Regardless of how you pay for treatment, some options locally may not offer the level of care you need. If you are willing to travel for treatment, it expands your options tremendously to hundreds of thousands of centers across the country. Therefore, you can be more selective in what program suits your needs.
With all that said, are there any benefits for traveling to treatment?
The answer is Yes. There are quite a few benefits to traveling to a new city or state for treatment. Traveling puts you in the mindset of taking a journey toward recovery. It offers you a fresh step in a new environment.
For many, it is crucial to put some distance between their hometown and recovery. Some may find that staying home brings up way too many triggers which increase vulnerability to a relapse.
But Staying Home is Way More Convenient!
When looking for a treatment center, may consider convenience first. This is understandable. We all lead busy lives, and it might seem easier to go to a nearby treatment center instead of traveling hundreds to thousands of miles. However, you must remember that your disease requires the best care possible.
Your addiction has become unmanageable, and it is important to make time for yourself to heal. Your family, work life, and routine are already being affected by addiction and traveling for treatment give you the best chance of recovering.
Here are a few reasons why you should recover away from home:
You get a fresh start:
Pursuing treatment in another geographical area provides a “fresh start” both physically and psychologically. A new location allows you to move forward instead of being reminded of past mistakes. The goal is a long-term recovery, not short-term convenience. In a new location, you can focus on recovery and healing. Addiction is a brain disease, and recovery requires brain healing and restoration. Attending rehab in a new environment jumpstarts the process of your brain forming new neural connections and associations.
Seeking treatment far away from home limits the amount of distraction you have around you. You won’t run into “friends” who are also seeking treatment, and your old life will not interfere with your future. Traveling also makes it more difficult to continue using drugs or alcohol. Of course, it is still feasible; however, familiarity with an area can make it easier to do drugs. In a new location, there are fewer memories of past substance abuse. You are not near any drug dealers you already know or neighborhoods that you used to do drugs in. Finally, you can begin to build and experience healthy relationships and learn what it means to lead a sober life.
You can curb impulsive behavior:
When you are in a familiar area, it is easier to follow through on impulsive decisions. Remaining in rehab for a longer period is crucial to recovery. Several studies note how extended periods of time in treatment away from home increase the chance of recovery long term. It is easy to not give into impulses when you have a strong support system hoping the best for you.
While you may know of some programs close to home, that does not mean they are right for you. Price and convenience should not be the only consideration when choosing treatment. Your life depends on finding adequate care. Do not skimp on your recovery. Choose the best treatment center that you can afford to go to, even if it means spending more or sacrificing more.
Getting treatment for substance abuse is an investment. It is your first step toward a new, sober life. What are your thoughts on traveling for treatment? Remember, if you are currently struggling with substance abuse, please do not wait. Seek adequate care today. Call now.
CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135
Dug and Heidi McGuirk answer “Should I Drink in Front of My Loved One in Recovery?”
Author: Shernide Delva
Dug and Heidi McGuirk, who run the Revolutionary Family program for Palm Healthcare, recently answered, “Should I drink in front of my loved one in recovery?” in their latest video. This question was submitted by a parent with a son in recovery.
My husband and I love craft beers and he’s making a wine right now at home and while we don’t drink around our son or mention it, we were wondering if he moves back to town, although he won’t be living with us, does that mean we have to stop drinking for his sobriety, or just not drink around him? It seems strange to pretend that we have given up drinking. I also ask because when we were visiting, my dad drank right in front of him, and he didn’t say anything, but I was nervous since he’s still new to recovery. I thought other parents might have the same question. I don’t want to treat him differently than any others, but I also don’t want to hurt his sobriety.
This is a common question that many parents and loved one’s of addicts ask especially in the early stages of recovery.
To start off, Dug McGuirk answers that it is important to have an initial awareness of your behaviors around your recovering loved one.
“My initial thoughts are that it’s great that you’re considering it, that you’re being aware, and you have some sensory acuity,” Dug McGuirk affirms. “It’s also fantastic that right now, in early recovery, you’re not necessary drinking in front of him, that’s probably fine. That’s a great decision if you believe in it.”
Still, it’s important to remember that you are not responsible for your loved one relapsing. Your loved one can still relapse regardless of whether you have alcohol around the house or not. Alcohol is everywhere, and eventually, they are going to have to deal with that reality.
“At some point, he’s going to be exposed to alcohol, so what are you going to do? Be co-dependent?” Dug McGuirk asks.
“Being exposed to stimulus doesn’t necessarily make somebody drink,” Heidi McGuirk says. “Your loved one is going to be exposed to the stimulus all the time, and that’s part of life.”
“You could go your whole life and not drink a drop of alcohol in front of somebody, or not have any alcohol in the home around them and they still could relapse,” Heidi McGuirk continues.
Decide What You Believe In:
Ultimately, Heidi McGuirk says it comes down to doing what you believe in. It is important to keep that in mind when making these types of decisions.
“Everybody’s going to be different,” she says. “Don’t do what you think is going to keep somebody sober. Do what you believe in instead.”
You may decide that not drinking around your loved one is a small sacrifice to make. That decision may give you some peace of mind when they are around. You have to determine that for yourself depending on the circumstances.
For Heidi McGuirk, she says if her father, who wrestled with addiction, were still alive, she likely would not feel comfortable drinking around him.
“If he were still here and he was still in recovery, we would not have alcohol around him. I just– I don’t believe in that. I wouldn’t want that for him,” she admits. “Me, not drinking anyway, it’s irrelevant, but if he were staying in my house, I would just do what I believe in. which is not having any alcohol around.”
Heidi McGuirk says her decision would come from a loving place. She compares it to the way she would behave around someone struggling with managing their weight.
“Just for the same reason that if I knew somebody who was managing their weight and they had a gastric bypass, I wouldn’t sit down to a four-course meal of desserts in front of them because I would find them kind of rude, but that’s me! Could I be a little codependent there? Probably. But that’s how I love,“ she explains.
Everyone is Different:
Heidi McGuirk explains how these decisions may simply come from a place of love for your addicted loved one. However, it also good to note how your loved one feels about it. They may feel offended by your decision to not drink or have alcohol around.
“In my own life, I wouldn’t want for one second for somebody not to drink around me,” she admits. “I have lots of friends, lots of family, who drink in front of me all the time, and I don’t take offense to it, and I wouldn’t want them to change their lifestyle. So again, it’s not about keeping somebody sober, it’s finding what you believe in and then practicing what you believe in from a place of your heart versus your mind on what you think is going to keep somebody well.”
“The simple answer is that whether you drink or not is not going to make someone relapse,” Dug McGuirk says. “Cause if someone relapses, it has nothing to do with what they’re exposed to. It has everything to do with: Are they working their recovery?”
Insights From My Relationship
Personally, I related to this question a lot, and agree with the answer Dug and Heidi McGuirk gave. My boyfriend was five years sober when we first got together nearly two years ago. However, I am not in recovery from drugs or alcohol. In the beginning of the relationship, I wanted to ensure he was okay with seeing me consume alcohol.
It turns out; drinking in front of my boyfriend did not bother him at all. In fact, he felt more comfortable when I did not alter my behavior due to his recovery. However, his drug of choice was never alcohol, so drinking was never a trigger for him to begin with.
If needed, I would have abstained from alcohol while he was around, simply from a place of love. Fortunately, I never needed to make that decision. As you can see, these situations really vary from person to person.
Still, whether or not to drink in front of a loved one is a multifaceted question. Communication is essential. In early recovery, drinking or having alcohol around the house might not be a good idea. Later on, it may become less of an issue. Overall, if you have any uncertainty about your loved one’s sobriety, please reach out. We can help. Call now.
CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135