Opiate Overdose

opiate overdoseBecause of the increasing opiate overdose deaths, I want to post these warning signs. This is from www.Drugabuse.com :

Depressant Overdose

Opiates and benzodiazepines (heroin, Oxycontin, Valium, Xanax) are all depressants, meaning they significantly slow your breathing and heart rate. When an overdose occurs, the victim runs a significant risk of respiratory failure, which could lead to a coma, permanent brain damage and death.

Signs of a depressant overdose include:

  • Shallow breathing or not breathing at all
  • Blue lips or fingertips
  • Severe disorientation
  • No response or the inability to be waken
  • Snoring or gurgling sounds

We still see patients come to our clinic who are using both opiates and benzodiazepines — this is a deadly combination. This excerpt is from American Addiction Centers website:

Opioid painkillers and benzodiazepines are two of the most frequently abused prescription drugs in the world, although they are frequently prescribed together. Medical researchers have been concerned about this combination since the 1970s, when the trend began to surface. A report from the Drug Abuse Warning Network shows that combining opioid medications and benzodiazepines increases the risk of overdose leading to emergency medical care. Another report published in the British Medical Journal suggests that, while some of these emergency room visits involve prescribing practices that accidentally mix benzodiazepines and opioids in dangerous quantities, some patients take more of these drugs than prescribed, or they get a “high” off taking higher doses than prescribed of both medications. They noted that benzodiazepines enhanced the effects of opioid painkillers, which means this drug combination has a high potential for abuse.

It’s never safe to combine such drugs, and when you add alcohol, it’s even more dangerous. Below are suggestions if you see someone overdosing:

Step #1 Check Responsiveness

If someone is unconscious with shortness of breath or not breathing, rub your knuckles hard over their chest bone. If they are still unresponsive, call 911 immediately.

Step #2 Perform Rescue Breathing

A majority of overdose deaths are due to respiratory failure, so rescue breathing is crucial when dealing with an overdose. Tilt the head, lift the chin, and pinch the nose. Seal their lips and give two quick breaths into their mouth. Then give one long breath every five seconds.

Step #3 Administer Naloxone

Naloxone (Narcan) is a life-saving drug that reverses the depressing effects of opiates on the central nervous system. Naloxone kits are available in two forms: intranasal and injectable.

Intranasal Naloxone: Pry off yellow caps on the plastic delivery device (needleless syringe), and pry off the red cap of the cartridge. Screw the naloxone cartridge into the barrel of the syringe. Tilt head back and spray half of the naloxone (1cc) into each nostril.

Injectable Naloxone: Pry the orange top off the naloxone vial. Draw 1cc of naloxone into syringe and inject into a major muscle (buttocks, thighs or shoulders).

If need be, continue rescue breathing while the naloxone takes effect. If the person is still unresponsive after three to five minutes, administer another dose of naloxone.

Unless you have a reason to keep Naloxone on hand, you probably wouldn’t have it ready, but if you have a family member or friend with a problem, you might want to keep this drug handy. Opiate overdose is a huge problem, and knowledge of what to do when it happens can save lives.

Addiction Recovery and Freedom

Addiction recovery and freedomThe topic of addiction recovery and freedom aren’t often discussed. Many even think of recovery in terms of loss of freedom — the person in early recovery complains that they can’t go to nightclubs for a night on the town, can’t have that glass of wine that makes good meals even better, can’t go to tailgate parties, can’t attend that weekly women’s night out on Thursday, etc. Yes, in the beginning certain activities are best avoided if they put recovery at risk, but this is in the beginning.

As recovery grows, the recovering person’s world expands, then, looking back, addiction is seen as the lack of freedom it had always been. The addict in the middle of addiction holds on to the false idea that liberty is found in a mood-altering substance. In reality, the addict makes her world smaller and smaller, controlled more and more by the drug. The addict loses old friends who don’t like the drinking/drug using lifestyle. The addict doesn’t go to places anymore that would highlight their addiction. The addict gives up hobbies that were once pleasurable as addiction takes more time and effort. The addicts world gradually shrinks, and any idea of freedom exists only in make-believe fueled by an artificial stimulant, and then even that fantasy fades. The addict eventually loses all sense of freedom and struggles each day to reach a state of “normal” that becomes more elusive as time goes by.

Addiction recovery and freedom are synonymous. Once recovery’s established, the person’s world opens to many new possibilities. Go back to school — get a new job — enrich relationships — revisit old recreational interests and discover new ones — go where you want to go without fear — enjoy clarity of mind –experience life in all it’s realness, fullness and uniqueness. In early recovery this all sounds like flowery talk, but the addict who reaches true recovery doesn’t think so — all of this becomes a way of life, and true freedom is experienced on a daily basis. The addict who finds this freedom in recovery is grateful and humble, and, given the opportunity, usually wants to help others to find this same transformation — not through promotion, but through attraction. Witnessing someone make the journey through addiction recovery and freedom is inspiring. 

 

 

Addiction As A Disease

Addiction as a diseaseThere’s still confusion about addiction as a disease. Old ideas persist contrary to the chronic brain disease concept. There’s a lingering idea that to call it a disease let’s people off the responsibility hook. I hear this often – “No one forced them to drink alcohol or take other drugs, so it can’t be a disease.” If we went by that logic, then diabetes wouldn’t be a disease, and you can also say that heart disease is partly due to lifestyle and what we eat. The point is not how the person started using drugs (alcohol is a drug), but what happens to the person’s brain/body when addiction occurs. The progression of addiction meets all the criteria for disease. Below is what Terry Gorski wrote about addiction as a disease:

 

To intelligently discuss the issue of whether or not alcoholism is a disease, we must first define the term “disease”.       To do this I turned to the 24th Edition of the Stedman’s Medical Dictionary which provided the following definitions.

  1. A disease is a morbus, an illness, a sickness that causes an interruption, cessation, or disorder of bodily functions, systems, or organs
  2. A disease is an entity characterized by at least two of these criteria:

(1)       a recognized etiologic agent (or agents);

(2)       an identifiable group of signs and symptoms;       or

(3)       consistent anatomical alterations of known body systems.

To determine if alcoholism is a disease, we must see if it meets this definition.

My position is that alcoholism is a disease.       This position is shared by many prestigious organizations including the World Health Organization (WHO), the American Medical Association (AMA), and the American Psychiatric Association (APA).       The Congress of the United States of America formally acknowledged that Alcoholism was a disease with the passage of the Hughes Act in 1970.       The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) was created to promote research on the nature of this disease.       A major thrust of NIAAA has been on the biomedical aspects of this disease and much progress has been made in understanding its etiology, symptoms, and treatment.

Society can debate the moral issue of using drugs, and society can hold a person responsible for taking the first drug, but society can’t ignore scientific facts, without consequences, and what we’re faced to deal with is addiction when it happens and causes legal, relationship and medical problems that cost society billions every year.

Most people aren’t moralistic about using drugs, especially alcohol. The majority starts out drinking alcohol or smoking pot or whatever because it’s acceptable in their social circles. No one starts out to be an addict. Some people are susceptible to addiction because of their brain chemistry, and it can happen to anyone. When addiction happens in a family, people usually develop a different, understanding perspective — they know how the family member was before addiction, so they understand something powerful is driving the destructive behavior. Addiction as a disease begins to make more sense. They also realize that shaming the family member only makes it worse.

It does no good to take a moralistic stance when someone is addicted, but once the person knows about addiction as a disease and that recovery is possible, then the person becomes responsible to make the changes necessary to recover long-term. Recovery is not punishment for bad, addictive behavior.

Recovery is about transformation, about rewiring the brain and thinking differently, about taking responsibility to mend what was damaged and go forward clear headed and free from addiction. Recovery is about embracing life and health, while addiction is about sickness and destructive behavior. In treatment, we teach recovering addicts that abstinence and time are their best friends. It takes time for the body and brain to heal. Treatment for 8 weeks or so is a bare beginning — it can years before the healing is complete and the desire to use drugs is gone. But, recovery does happen. Yes, responsibility comes in when a person knows that addiction is deadly yet refuses to try recovery. Like I wrote above, no one starts out to become an addict, but once it happens the person doesn’t have to slowly die from it. Addiction isn’t a choice, but recovery is.

Addiction: Cause & Effect

Addiction: cause and effectI saw a headline today related to a celebrity who’s a recovering alcoholic. The headline implied a tragic event is revealed in the article which led the celebrity to alcoholism. This is misleading and unsupported scientifically. There’s no evidence which establishes tragic events as a cause of alcoholism. Many people have tragic events happen to them and never become alcoholics. Many alcoholics grow up without any tragedy, yet they’re alcoholics.

When people start drinking alcohol, for whatever reason they start, some are susceptible to alcoholism and some are not. Environmental and psychological factors play their roles in alcoholism, but there’s no established causal role. There are factors which complicate alcoholism, like mental condition, emotional stability, environment, but there’s no evidence that alcoholism is caused by any of these factors.

Research shows that alcohol creates changes in the brains of those susceptible to alcoholism. If a bad childhood caused a person to become an alcoholic, then dealing with the childhood trauma would logically solve the problem and allow the once alcoholic person to drink normally. Many people have died alcoholic deaths using this logic. Changing social contacts and becoming mentally and emotionally healthy doesn’t cure alcoholism. There’s no known cure for alcoholism. Alcoholics often need to change their environment and seek mental and emotional health in order to remain abstinent, but doing these things doesn’t mean the person can then drink safely.

This is from NIH:

As a result of scientific research, we know that addiction is a disease that affects both the brain and behavior. We have identified many of the biological and environmental factors and are beginning to search for the genetic variations that contribute to the development and progression of the disease. Scientists use this knowledge to develop effective prevention and treatment approaches that reduce the toll drug abuse takes on individuals, families, and communities.

Education is critical in understanding drug addiction/alcoholism. Old, false ideas about drinking alcohol and other drug use have to be smashed if we’re going to deal effectively with addiction. To ignore the science is to choose ignorance, and that never works out well.

No quick fixes in addiction recovery

Now quick fixes in addiction recoveryWe live in an age in which everyone looks for the quick fix, the pill, the relationship, the instant gimmick or technological gadget to make things change right away. This mindset is prevalent in treatment. There are no quick fixes in addiction recovery. Many people think if they Google addiction recovery they’ll find a quicker, easier “cure”. First of all, there’s no cure for addiction. Addiction can be arrested by remaining abstinent, but there’s no magic “cure” that allows an addict to continue drinking/using at some point with no consequences, or to stop with little or no effort.

Many addicts in early remission search for replacements to alcohol/drug use, if, that is, they’re still getting some pleasurable relief from the drug (addicts in the late stage of addiction don’t receive any pleasure from using/drinking, but they’re still driven to continue as if they’ll die without it). The idea of replacement is that if they can find something which stimulates adrenaline, then they’ll not miss the drug, but these gimmicks run their course and the person is back to the choice of making hard, long term changes or slipping back in addiction. New romantic relationships often feel like the answer to a person in early recovery. Maybe a couple meets in treatment or AA and they have a certain chemistry — the adrenaline of a new relationship feels like real change that lead to recovery — they’ll help one another stay straight and will support each other through thick and thin. These relationships don’t usually last. They end badly and one or both often return to active addiction.

People in early recovery have usually avoided dealing with problems in their addiction — the problems build up and everything crashes, they hit a bottom and seek help. When the addict seeking help realizes that “help” is long term and that addiction is a chronic brain disease that requires much effort, time and major changes, they begin to minimize the severity and look for easier, softer ways. So, naturally, a relationship, or a job change, sky diving, switching to a drug you think is “safer”, moving to a new place, etc, all look like better solutions to the problem.

Recovery from addiction is difficult — it takes time and effort. There are no quick fixes in addiction recovery. Research shows that recovery is more successful when treatment is longer and more comprehensive. Short term fixes don’t work long term. Some “treatment” offerings cater to the quick fixes, but at NewDay we don’t lead anyone to believe that recovery will be quick and easy — we tell people the truth — it’s difficult and long term, but it’s infinitely worth it. 

There’s No Holiday From Addiction

There's no holiday from addictionToo often people in early recovery think they can get by with a few beers on holidays like the 4th of July. There’s so much cultural pressure to drink on these holidays that many succumb to the pressure. There’s no holiday from addiction. In early recovery there should be a plan to deal with holidays which are characterized by lots of alcohol.

Even family members and friends who don’t have a good understanding of addiction will encourage the idea that a few beers once or twice a year won’t hurt. What happens is that once the recovering alcoholic starts drinking it triggers the brain and sets off active-addiction thoughts and behaviors. The alcoholic will begin thinking that if she can control it a couple of times a year, then she’ll be able to control it at birthdays, Friday nights after a long week at work, then Tuesday, then Saturday, then…on and on.

Neural pathways in the alcoholic brain are rewired during addiction to alcohol, and it takes a long time to rewire the brain to neural pathways in recovery, but as soon as alcohol is introduced, the old, weakened neural pathways of active addiction begin to strengthen once again and become dominate.

It takes consistency, abstinence, and time to recover from alcoholism. When the recovering alcoholic begins drinking a few beers or shots of liquor here and there, they’re slipping back to full blown addiction. The recovering alcoholic has to understand that there’s no holiday from addiction — they have to take responsibility to guard their recovery — no one will do it for them. It’s not the responsibility of others to understand. Friends and family members might encourage the recovering alcoholic to drink a few beers on special occasions, but it’s out of ignorance, and they aren’t the ones who’ll suffer the worst consequences. The recovering alcoholic has to take responsible for recovery, where they go, what they do and what they drink.

The recovering alcoholic can receive support, though, and this is where Alcoholics Anonymous and other support groups come into play. While family and friends might not understand, a person in recovery will understand that there’s no holiday from addiction. The recovering alcoholic also understands through time in recovery that holidays are more enjoyable sober and clear-headed than drunk and addled.

Fact and Statistics on Alcohol Use and Alcoholism

Alcohol statsEvery once in a while, I like to post the facts and statistics on alcohol use and alcoholism. Because of advertising showing the benefits of alcohol, it’s not often we see the damage caused by misuse and the total cost of untreated alcoholism. Misuse of alcohol is not necessarily alcoholism — it can be someone who typically drinks socially, drinking way too much at a special party, driving, colliding with another vehicle and doing great damage. Periodic misuse of alcohol can cause a lot of damage and has a high societal cost, but the real damage comes from untreated alcoholism.

I usually provide an excerpt and a link, but I think I’ll post all the statistics, for quick reference in the future — this comes from NIH:

 

Facts and Statistics on alcohol use and alcoholism

 

 

Alcohol Use in the United States:

  • Prevalence of Drinking: According to the 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), 86.4 percent of people ages 18 or older reported that they drank alcohol at some point in their lifetime; 70.1 percent reported that they drank in the past year; 56.0 percent reported that they drank in the past month.1
     
  • Prevalence of Binge Drinking and Heavy Alcohol USe: In 2015, 26.9 percent of people ages 18 or older reported that they engaged in binge drinking in the past month; 7.0 percent reported that they engaged in heavy alcohol use in the past month.2 (See sidebar below for definitions of binge drinking and heavy alcohol use.)

Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD) in the United States:

  • Adults (ages 18+): According to the 2015 NSDUH, 15.1 million adults ages 18 and older(6.2 percent of this age group4) had AUD. This includes 9.8 million men3 (8.4 percent of men in this age group4) and 5.3 million women3 (4.2 percent of women in this age group4).
    • About 1.3 million adults received treatment for AUD at a specialized facility in 2015 (8.3 percent of adults who needed treatment).5 This included 898,000 men5 (8.8 percent of men who needed treatment) and 417,000 women (7.5 percent of wom
      en who needed treatment).5
  • Youth (ages 12–17): According to the 2015 NSDUH, an estimated 623,000 adolescents ages 12–176 (2.5 percent of this age group7) had AUD. This number includes 298,000 males6 (2.3 percent of males in this age group7) and 325,000 females6 (2.7 percent of females in this age group7).
     
  • An estimated 37,000 adolescents (22,000 males and 15,000 females) received treatment for an alcohol problem in a specialized facility in 2015.8

Alcohol-Related Deaths:

  • An estimated 88,0009 people (approximately 62,000 men and 26,000 women9) die from alcohol-related causes annually, making alcohol the fourth leading preventable cause of death in the United States.10
  • In 2014, alcohol-impaired driving fatalities accounted for 9,967 deaths (31 percent of overall driving fatalities).11

Economic Burden:

  • In 2010, alcohol misuse cost the United States $249.0 billion.12
  • Three-quarters of the total cost of alcohol misuse is related to binge drinking.12

Global Burden:

  • In 2012, 3.3 million deaths, or 5.9 percent of all global deaths (7.6 percent for men and 4.0 percent for women), were attributable to alcohol consumption.13
  • In 2014, the World Health Organization reported that alcohol contributed to more than 200 diseases and injury-related health conditions, most notably DSM–IV alcohol dependence (see sidebar), liver cirrhosis, cancers, and injuries.14 In 2012, 5.1 percent of the burden of disease and injury worldwide (139 million disability-adjusted life-years) was attributable to alcohol consumption.13
  • Globally, alcohol misuse is the fifth leading risk factor for premature death and disability; among people between the ages of 15 and 49, it is the first.15 In the age group 20–39 years, approximately 25 percent of the total deaths are alcohol attributable.16

Family Consequences:

  • More than 10 percent of U.S. children live with a parent with alcohol problems, according to a 2012 study.17

Underage Drinking:

  • Prevalence of Underage Alcohol Use:
    • Prevalence of Drinking: According to the 2015 NSDUH, 33.1 percent of 15-year-olds report that they have had at least 1 drink in their lives.18 About 7.7 million people ages 12–2019 (20.3 percent of this age group20) reported drinking alcohol in the past month (19.8 percent of males and 20.8 percent of females20).
    • Prevalence of Binge Drinking: According to the 2015 NSDUH, approximately 5.1 million people19 (about 13.4 percent20) ages 12–20 (13.4 percent of males and 13.3 percent of females20) reported binge drinking in the past month.20).
    • Prevalence of Heavy Alcohol Use: According to the 2015 NSDUH, approximately 1.3 million people19  (about 3.3 percent20) ages 12–20 (3.6 percent of males and 3.0 percent of females20) reported heavy alcohol use in the past month).
  • Consequences of Underage Alcohol Use:
    • Research indicates that alcohol use during the teenage years could interfere with normal adolescent brain development and increase the risk of developing AUD. In addition, underage drinking contributes to a range of acute consequences, including injuries, sexual assaults, and even deaths—including those from car crashes.21

Alcohol and College Students:

  • Prevalence of Alcohol Use:
    • Prevalence of Drinking: According to the 2015 NSDUH, 58.0 percent of full-time college students ages 18–22 drank alcohol in the past month compared with 48.2 percent of other persons of the same age.22
    • Prevalence of Binge Drinking: According to the 2015 NSDUH, 37.9 percent of college students ages 18–22 reported binge drinking in the past month compared with 32.6 percent of other persons of the same age.22
    • Prevalence of Heavy Alcohol Use: According to the 2015 NSDUH, 12.5 percent of college students ages 18–22 reported heavy alcohol use in the past month compared with 8.5 percent of other persons of the same age.22
  • Consequences—Researchers estimate that each year:
    • 1,825 college students between the ages of 18 and 24 die from alcohol-related unintentional injuries, including motor-vehicle crashes.23
    • 696,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 are assaulted by another student who has been drinking.24
    • 97,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 report experiencing alcohol-related sexual assault or date rape.24
    • Roughly 20 percent of college students meet the criteria for AUD.25
    • About 1 in 4 college students report academic consequences from drinking, including missing class, falling behind in class, doing poorly on exams or papers, and receiving lower grades overall.26

Alcohol and Pregnancy:

  • The prevalence of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) in the United States was estimated by the Institute of Medicine in 1996 to be between 0.5 and 3.0 cases per 1,000.27
  • More recent reports from specific U.S. sites report the prevalence of FAS to be 2 to 7 cases per 1,000, and the prevalence of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) to be as high as 20 to 50 cases per 1,000.28,29

Alcohol and the Human Body:

  • In 2013, of the 72,559 liver disease deaths among individuals ages 12 and older, 45.8 percent involved alcohol. Among males, 48.5 percent of the 46,568 liver disease deaths involved alcohol. Among females, 41.8 percent of the 25,991 liver disease deaths involved alcohol.30
  • Among all cirrhosis deaths in 2013, 47.9 percent were alcohol related. The proportion of alcohol-related cirrhosis was highest (76.5 percent) among deaths of persons ages 25–34, followed by deaths of persons aged 35–44, at 70.0 percent.31
  • In 2009, alcohol-related liver disease was the primary cause of almost 1 in 3 liver transplants in the United States.32
  • Drinking alcohol increases the risk of cancers of the mouth, esophagus, pharynx, larynx, liver, and breast.33

Health Benefits of Moderate Alcohol Consumption:

  • Moderate alcohol consumption, according to the 2015–2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, is up to 1 drink per day for women and up to 2 drinks per day for men.34
  • Moderate alcohol consumption may have beneficial effects on health. These include decreased risk for heart disease and mortality due to heart disease, decreased risk of ischemic stroke (in which the arteries to the brain become narrowed or blocked, resulting in reduced blood flow), and decreased risk of diabetes.35
  • In most Western countries where chronic diseases such as coronary heart disease (CHD), cancer, stroke, and diabetes are the primary causes of death, results from large epidemiological studies consistently show that alcohol reduces mortality, especially among middle-aged and older men and women—an association which is likely due to the protective effects of moderate alcohol consumption on CHD, diabetes, and ischemic stroke.35
  • It is estimated that 26,000 deaths were averted in 2005 because of reductions in ischemic heart disease, ischemic stroke, and diabetes from the benefits attributed to moderate alcohol consumption.36
  • Expanding our understanding of the relationship between moderate alcohol consumption and potential health benefits remains a challenge, and, although there are positive effects, alcohol may not benefit everyone who drinks moderately.
  • More information about the potential health benefits, as well as risks, of moderate alcohol consumption can be found at https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15201626.

Alcoholics Anonymous Is Not Addiction Treatment

Alcoholics Anonymous is not addiction treatmentThere’s a tendency for some people to confuse AA with addiction treatment. Often we’ll ask someone if they’ve had addiction treatment before and the person will say they attended a few “classes”. When we ask what type of classes, they describe AA meetings. Nowadays, judges will often mandate that DUI violators attend AA, so it gets mixed up in the attendee’s head what is AA, what is connected with the court and what is addiction treatment. Alcoholics Anonymous is not addiction treatment, and AA is not affiliated with the courts.

AA is a support group and their only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking. Anyone, though, can attend AA, because no one will be asked at the door if they have a desire to stop drinking. It’s really left up to the individual when and if they attend. The person attending AA can say something in a meeting or not. No one has to give anyone any information in a AA meeting. I suggest googling AA to get a better understanding. Below is AA’s Preamble:

 

A.A. PREAMBLE©

Alcoholics Anonymous is a fellowship of men and women who share their experience, strength and hope with each other that they may solve their common problem and help others to recover from alcoholism.

The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking. There are no dues or fees for A.A. membership; we are selfsupporting through our own contributions. A.A. is not allied with any sect, denomination, politics, organization or institution; does not wish to engage in any controversy, neither endorses nor opposes any causes. Our primary purpose is to stay sober and help other alcoholics to achieve sobriety.

Copyright © The AA Grapevine, Inc. Reprinted with permission

Addiction treatment is something else entirely. Treatment facilities are licensed by the state and under state and federal regulations. Addiction treatment covers a wide array of issues and doesn’t necessarily adhere to AA except in broad recovery principles. In treatment, physicians are involved and medical issues are considered. There are assessments and formal treatment plans developed in addiction treatment, and there’s a cost to treatment, although some facilities are state funded and the cost is not covered by the individual in treatment. In AA, the people in the meetings are in recovery themselves — in addiction treatment there are paid licensed professionals who work with the clients.

This is not to say that everyone with an addiction problem must go through treatment and receive professional assistance. Many alcoholics go straight into AA and stay sober long term. It’s just that they’re two separate things that shouldn’t be confused with one another. When clients come to treatment, the treatment facility will often recommend AA for long term support. So, even though Alcoholics Anonymous is not addiction treatment, we all work together when possible to help those in need reaching out for help.

 

The Latest News on Suboxone

The latest news on SuboxoneSuboxone has become standard use in Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) for opioid addiction. In the latest news on Suboxone, Congress has formed committees to create national standards for opioid addiction and MAT is seen as a vital part of any treatment plan. Because the withdrawal from opioids is so painful, most opioid addicts won’t even attempt to enter outpatient treatment, and inpatient treatment is usually unaffordable or considered inappropriate level of care by insurance providers. This is from Drugs.com:

MONDAY, June 19, 2017 – The rate of opioid addiction among Americans age 25 and under rose nearly sixfold from 2001 to 2014. But few young addicts get medical treatment that might prevent overdose or relapse, a new study finds. Only about 27 percent of youths treated for addiction to prescription painkillers or heroin receive either buprenorphine or naltrexone, two recommended anti-addiction medications, researchers reported. “These medications are considered the evidence-based standard of care for opioid addiction by the American Academy of Pediatrics,” said lead researcher Dr. Scott Hadland. He’s an assistant professor of pediatrics at Boston University School of Medicine. Buprenorphine (Buprenex, Suboxone) has been shown to reduce cravings, while naltrexone (Revia, Vivitrol) blocks the high from opioids, he said.

The problem is access and the availability of quality treatment programs. Other studies show that opioid addicts who enter medical care that’s not an addiction specialty treatment facility are far more likely to die from opioid addiction. There’s still a lack of knowledge and understanding of the latest treatment methods related to dealing with opioid addiction, especially when it comes to Suboxone.

The good news is that opioid addiction can be treated and people do recover. Long term treatment is better than short term. It’s not that we don’t know what to do to deal with the epidemic — it’s access and availability to treatment facilities that provide evidence-based, quality care. The next time you hear someone say that opioid addiction is a serious and vexing problem, remind them that there are solutions. We just have to develop innovative ways to fund and get opioid addicts into treatment.

Good News For Alcoholics

Good news for alcoholicsThanks to scientific research and the modern capabilities of medicine, there’s good news for alcoholics in early recovery. First of all, research has shown that a certain receptor, mGluR5 , in the brain related to craving alcohol actually reduces in number after a heavy drinking bout — researchers believe the brain is trying to adapt to the damage caused by the receptor which is creating the craving for alcohol.

Research shows that this receptor in some alcoholics returns significantly after detox from alcohol, and this is what’s causing the intense craving and relapse for these alcoholics. Below is an excerpt:

Alcohol abuse disorder is a devastating and complicated disease affecting millions of people worldwide. A study presented at the 2017 Annual Meeting of the Society of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging (SNMMI) reveals how brain receptors involved in the compulsion to drink, adapt to alcohol-dependency by reducing their bioavailability, but return to their normal availability after a modest period of detoxification. Receptor availability at the outset of sobriety could also serve as a predictor of long-term success.

If they can devise a medicine that reduces the brain receptor, this is indeed good news for alcoholics. This will significantly reduce the compulsion to drink after a short period of sobriety. Science gets closer and closer to discovering what creates the insane craving for alcohol that has confounded so many doctors, family members, friends and the alcoholic who continues to drink in spite of negative consequences. Another excerpt:

These results could be used to further investigate mGluR5 downregulation and other biomarkers for molecular imaging and the evaluation of novel therapies that could increase an alcoholic’s ability to achieve long-term sobriety.

Yes, the language is difficult to understand for a lay person, but if you read the article, you’ll understand that this is definitely good news for alcoholics. The problem with treatment often is that when the person is out of treatment, the alcoholic brain often still craves alcohol, and, if the receptors causing the craving return to full force, it makes it difficult for some alcoholics to stay sober — the craving and triggers just wear the person down mentally and emotionally. It takes a long time for the brain to rewire itself and recover. If medicines are discovered which can reduce the craving long-term, then the person has a better chance of staying in a support group, working on a recovery management plan and achieving long-term sobriety.

Here is the article:

Society of Nuclear Medicine. “Neuro-receptor PET could provide an early warning for alcoholic relapse.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 12 June 2017. .
Society of Nuclear Medicine. (2017, June 12). Neuro-receptor PET could provide an early warning for alcoholic relapse. ScienceDaily. Retrieved June 13, 2017 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/06/170612094112.htm
Society of Nuclear Medicine. “Neuro-receptor PET could provide an early warning for alcoholic relapse.” ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/06/170612094112.htm (accessed June 13, 2017).
 

 
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