Archives for June 2016

The Timeline of Narcotic (Opioid) Abuse

The Timeline of Narcotic (Opioids) Abuse

After the death of Prince, the media’s attention turned to the abuse of opioids and opiate-based drugs. Preliminary tests show that he overdosed on an opioid-based substance, which lead to his death. His high profile demise and its likely cause have highlighted opioids and the large problem of opioid abuse -- a global problem, according to many.

What Are Opioids?

Opioids are painkillers made from opium. No one should casually use opioids as these drugs are highly addictive. Some of the most commonly used opioids and synthetics include the following:

  • Demerol or pethidine
  • Vicodin, Lorcet, Lortab, which are hydrocodone
  • Dilaudid or hydromorphone
  • Methadone
  • Duragesic or fentanyl
  • Percocet, Percodan, OxyContin, which are oxycodone and
  • Heroin, a street drug.

Why Do People Use Opioids?

Many researchers agree that the initial introduction to opioids is the result of suffering an injury or chronic pain and obtaining a prescription for pain relief. While this appears to be the main reason for opioids use, others are introduced to them socially or experiment out of curiosity. In any case, many users find themselves unexpectedly abusing opiates or addicted to the drug.

Why are Opiates so Addictive?

Studies show that opiates are highly addictive because of the way they interact with the body’s natural chemistry. As an individual uses the opioid, the body develops a certain tolerance to the drug so that prolonged use requires a higher dosage to maintain a certain feeling or level of pain relief. Thomas Kosten and Tony George, in “The Neurobiology of Opioid Dependence: Implications for Treatment,” indicate that opiates move through our bloodstream and attach to certain types of brain cells in such a way that the user’s body interprets the chemical reaction as a positive experience similar to other enjoyable life experiences, such as eating, laughing and sex. Opioids trigger this center in the brain, and if a person is not in pain, the drug becomes addictive because it stimulates this pleasure “button.” According to John’s Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, opiates created in ways to reduce dependency and abuse are still just as addictive.

Tolerance, Opiate Dependence, and Withdrawal

Many researchers make a distinction between tolerance, dependence and withdrawal. Adrian Preda, M.D., author of “Opioid Abuse Clinical Presentation,” provides a helpful explanation of these distinctions.

  • Tolerance is the need for increasing doses of medication to achieve the initial effect of the drug
  • Addiction is characterized as a psychological and behavioral syndrome in which the following features are observed: drug craving, compulsive use, and strong tendency to relapse after withdrawal…
  • Withdrawal occurs when physical dependence develops due to use but then drug use stops. Symptoms include diarrhea, shivering, nausea, sleeplessness, restlessness, tremors, abdominal cramping, bone pains, drug cravings and many more.

From prescription to use to addiction, opioids offer necessary pain relief but do require carefully monitored use. If you think your teen might be struggling with addiction, seek professional help to avoid potentially life-threatening situations or even death.

Fentanyl: Why You Should Be Terrified

Fentanyl: Why You Should Be Terrified

Each opioid prescription pain medication from a long list of many has the potential to become addictive. The Centers for Disease Control estimates that 78 people in the United States die every day from opioid addiction. In 2015, 253 overdosed on Fentanyl in the state of New Hampshire alone . Fentanyl can kill users, which should terrify you unless you take precautionary measures.

The Most Potent Drug on the Market

Fentanyl comes in the form of a patch that is normally replaced every 48 to 72 hours with varying doses that range from 25 mcg up to as much as 200 mcg. More and more doctors across the nation are prescribing this highly addictive drug, which is more powerful than nearly every other opioid and 50 times more potent than heroin. It has deservedly earned the title of the most potent drug on the market.

How Addicts Utilize Fentanyl

Fentanyl gel patches offer a variety of uses for addicts looking for a high. Two drops the size of a pinhead affect an adult significantly. One of the ways that addicts utilize Fentanyl patches is to cut them open and mix the gel with other drugs, such as heroin. This enhances the high, but it can also be fatal.

As with many opioid pain killers, Fentanyl users can easily become addicted and find themselves working their way up to wearing two and three patches at a time instead of the one that was prescribed. Addicts commonly cut the patches into small squares and consume them. All of these alternative ways for taking Fentanyl can be extremely dangerous and could lead to an overdose.

Warnings about Fentanyl Dangers

The Food and Drug Administration released a warning for Fentanyl users to be sure to properly dispose of their used patches. A patch that has been used for three days still contains a significant amount of the drug, and children sometimes find discarded patches and affixing them to their bodies, which can result in an almost instant fatality.

In June 2016, the media reported that Prince died from a Fentanyl overdose. While the singer’s battle with chronic pain was no secret, his death makes fans wonder just how much Fentanyl he was taking. The death of a celebrity shines a bright spotlight on problems that affect the country. The FDA’s warning and the death of Prince have clearly shown just how dangerous the drug can be and further emphasize the very real effects of this narcotic pain killer.

Cautions Regarding Fentanyl

Opioid pain killers can offer relief when taken as prescribed. However, Fentanyl has proven to be such an addictive pain killer that it is becoming a scourge on society. If you are prescribed Fentanyl for pain, be sure to ask your doctor plenty of questions about the potential effects and the dosage. Take every available precaution in order to keep the drug out of your teen’s hands as some adolescents use the drug in an attempt to seek a high.

The Five Most Dangerous Misconceptions About Prescription Drugs

The_Five_Most_Dangerous_Misconceptions_About_Prescription_Drugs

When it comes to prescription drugs, you need to be fully informed as ignorance is definitely not bliss. As a parent, you want to avoid potential health hazards so that you can protect you and your teen. Avoid these misconceptions to keep your prescription use safe and effective.

1. Doctors prescribe prescription drugs so they must be safer than illegal drugs.

Studies repeatedly indicate that teens and young people of college age believe that prescriptions are safer than illicit street drugs. After all, they have the Food and Drug Administration’s stamp of approval, and they have probably observed family members use them without incident. But prescription drugs can be as potent as heroin when abused. For example, just 1 2/3 morphine pills provide a high equivalent to 10 mg. of heroin in a low-tolerance user.

2. My doctor wouldn’t write me a prescription that I don’t need.

Only some — not all — conditions require a prescription. You don’t have to passively accept a treatment plan that doesn’t feel right to you. The best doctors do not immediately write a prescription; they start with obvious pillars of health like exercise, sleep and diet. Beware of any tendency you might have to seek out doctors who dish out pills too quickly.

3. Sharing prescription pills with others won’t harm you.

You don’t want to fall into this trap. Only a doctor can legally prescribe medication, and sharing meds almost always has negative consequences. By taking someone else’s medication, you are assuming you know how to diagnose your condition and taking your treatment into your own hands — not a great idea if you don’t have a medical license.

In addition, you might not respond to the medication, or worse yet, suffer an allergic reaction to it. If you take someone else’s medication and encounter these problems, you have only hurt yourself. If you are taking other medications, the drugs could negatively interact with each other. If you share your pills with a friend and they suffer ill consequences as a result, you will be partly responsible.

4. Misusing prescription drugs occasionally is not a problem.

Because of the misconception that medications are safer than illegal drugs, teens might experiment with them for non-medicinal reasons. But as already discussed, prescriptions can be just as powerful as street drugs. Most addictions start during youth, so occasional use to manage stress or pull an all-nighter can easily lead to abuse. Research shows that students who take prescription drugs for non-medical reasons are at least five times more likely to develop a drug abuse problem than those who don’t.

5. If you’re using painkillers for legitimate reasons, you can’t get addicted.

You can become addicted regardless of why you started using painkillers. Many people who end up with a drug problem started taking them for pain but at some point, lost control and couldn’t stop. Painkillers don’t usually eliminate all of the pain, but the goal is to make the pain manageable.

Parents: Your Teen’s Friendly Neighborhood Drug Dealer

Parents: Your Teen’s Friendly Neighborhood Drug Dealer

As the number one cause of accidental death in the nation, drug overdoses might often be due to the easy access that many adolescents have to their parents’ medicine cabinet. Many of the drugs include opioid-based prescriptions. Instead of looking for street drugs, teens pilfer their parents’ medicine cabinet.

An Overview of Opioids

Narcotics, including opioids and opiates, are any form of medication that relieves pain and discomfort by reducing how pain signals reach the brain. Legal narcotics, or prescription drugs, and illegal drugs, usually come in the form of heroin, commonly known by its street terms like brown sugar, china white, smack or white horse, among others.

Alarming Opioid Statistics

Every day in 2014, more than three dozen people across the country lost their lives due to accidental opioid overdoses or more than double those who died from heroin overdoses. In other words, more people die every day from overdosing on legal drugs than illegal drugs. Furthermore, more than 50 percent of teenagers perceive prescription drugs as safer than illegal street drugs. Teen heroin use has risen by an alarming 80 percent in first-time users between the ages of 12-17 since 2002.

In 2014, 94 percent of people treated for opioid addiction said that they chose heroin because prescription narcotics were far more expensive and more difficult to obtain. Yet, if not kept in a safe place, teens can easily access these drugs inside their own homes

Substituting Legal Opioids for Heroin

Parents might not realize what dose of a prescription drug compares with an equal dose for a low-tolerance heroin user. A better understanding of the inherent dangers of prescription drugs makes it apparent how dangerous it is for teens to have such easy access to their medicine cabinets. Parents accidentally supply their children with drugs.

Comparison of Legal Opioids and Heroin

Children can obtain prescription drugs from the medicine cabinet and easily ingest lethal doses of legal drugs. For example, 15 pills of 60 mg. codeine pills contain the equivalent of a low tolerance dose of 10 mg. of heroin. In excessive doses, other substances in codeine medication can also possibly result in kidney damage.

If you are keeping Methadone in your medicine cabinet, it takes just a few pills to equal a low-tolerance dosage of 10 mg. of heroin. Similarly, your son or daughter can experience these effects with a 15-30 mg. dosage of morphine. Taking 5-15 mg. of Oxycodone, or Oxycontin, is also equivalent to a 30. mg pill of low tolerance heroin.

Preventative Measures

As parents, you can take the following preventative measures:

  • Educate yourself about legal and illicit opioids and other prescriptions
  • Keep all prescription medications out of reach or locked away from adolescents.
  • Discuss the dangers of narcotic use with your teen
  • Become involved with your adolescent, including meeting friends.

These actions can keep your teen from becoming another statistic in an accidental and preventable drug overdose.