Opiate Addiction | What Are Opiates and Why Are People Getting So Addicted?

What Are Opiates and Why Are People Getting So Addicted

What Are Opiates and Why Are People Getting So AddictedIf you’ve been paying much attention to the news recently, you’ll have heard the words “opioid crisis.” everyone’s paying attention to it- the media, activists, healthcare professionals, the government, President Trump himself. And that’s because the statistics are jarring. More than 90 Americans die as a result of overdosing on opioids. And don’t think that the crisis only affects addicts and their families. It has huge social and political implications and especially huge financial repercussions. It has been estimated that the opioid crisis has cost the country 78.5 billion dollars in terms of lost productivity, drug treatment, criminal justice and healthcare costs.

So what’s behind all this chaos? Millions of pills and pounds of powder. Opiates, or opioids, as they’re commonly referred to, don’t give the full picture to these drugs. All opioids are derived from opium poppy, but there are many different manifestations. At first, legal opiates took off due to loose regulations and opportunistic doctors. The country saw a spike in the popularity of drugs such as oxycodone, hydrocodone, vicodin, dilaudid, percocet and more during the early 2000’s when the prescription drug crisis was taking off. However, oxycodone and hydrocodone were the most popular forms, due to their potency. However, crackdowns on pain pill prescribing and the influx of foreign drugs led heroin and fentanyl to enter the market, and they are among the most popular drugs for abuse in the country now. However, pain pills are still being abused and ripping families apart due to their violently addictive nature. In 2015, there were 20,101 deaths due to prescription painkillers and 12,990 deaths due to heroin use. The numbers only continue to grow.

So what are the origins of these dangerous drugs? Well, opiates have actually been around forever. They were first used by Sumerians in the year 3400 B.C. They cultivated the opium poppy plant, which has the more scientific name of papaver somniferum. They referred to this plant as the “joy plant.” They cultivated it primarily to mitigate pain, but also to be able to sleep and for stomach/bowel relief. It was these uses that gave it its medical connotation and ever since, doctors have been extracting it and harnessing its medicinal properties. This is where the difference between opiates and opioids come in. Opiates are naturally derived from the poppy plant, whereas opioids are man-made, manipulated derivations. There is not much difference in these words, or the effectiveness of the types of drugs.

There is hype surrounding the opioid crisis now, but people have been addicted to opioids/opiates for years. As long as it’s been in existence, people have used it to get high, in medicinal and abusive manners. However, since the mass production of opioid pharmaceuticals, demand has been higher than ever, which is in layman’s terms, what has brought us to the opioid crisis of today.

So what is it about opiates that has had people chasing after them for thousands of years? Well, there are a lot of factors that makes opiates so addictive. When they are taken, they enter the brain through the user’s bloodstream. It is during this process that a rush of fake endorphins and dopamine (neurotransmitters that induce sensations of pleasure and contentment) enters the body. This results in the user feeling very euphoric and high- a high that could never be reached naturally. The level of dopamine and endorphins that your body gets used to as an opiate addict is egregiously higher than any kind of naturally occurring neurotransmitter experience. This leads the user to begin to be unable to create dopamine and endorphins themselves and creates a reliance upon the drug for those feelings. This is what is called a craving and is the base level and experience of addiction. Opiate abuse stems from repeated cravings and acting upon them by getting high on fentanyl, heroin, prescription painkillers, or some other opiate. This highly addictive nature of the drug  is one of the reasons that makes the opiate crisis so concerning.

It is easy to develop an opiate addiction, even after taking opiates for a short period of time. The first step is tolerance, meaning that the user has to take increasing amounts of opiates to feel the same high. Next, physical dependence manifests, as the user starts to withdraw from the drug soon after coming down from a high. The last stage is psychological dependence, which manifests as cravings. This is the nadir of opiate addiction.

Hopefully this article has given you a deeper understanding of not only the opioid crisis, but of what those on the frontlines of the battle- the opiate addicts- are experiencing. Opiates are undeniably addictive and dangerous, which you know firsthand if you or a loved one is experiencing addiction to them. Many people let the stigma or other barriers deter them from seeking the treatment they need. Don’t let that happen. Recreate Life provides a variety of services including: individual therapy, group therapy, family therapy, medical and psychiatric services, case management services, alumni support and more. Opiate addiction is deplorable- but recovery is possible, so contact the trusted care professionals at Recreate Life today.

Opiate Abuse and The Trickle Down Effect

Once reserved for grown ups, the effects of opiate abuse have now trickled down to teens and children.  Yes, the most vulnerable group of our population have started to suffer the pain of our culture’s opiate epidemic.  The rate of opiate overdose among teens and children has tripled over the last three years, with OxyContin, Percocet, and Vicodin being the usual culprits.

Spreading the Damage

In fact, in looking at opiate abuse statistics, researcher Julie Gaither has said that some very young children are “eating them like candy,” as they scoop up their parents’ painkillers and swallow them by the mouthful.  For children under 10 at least, these are accidents caused by simple carelessness and a lock of oversight.   Gaither advises parents to restrict access to painkillers and to throw away left over pills.

When we look at  opiate overdoses among older children however, the problem becomes more complex.  It’s more complex because an alarming number of these overdoses are not accidental, even among children in the 10 to 14 age group.  It’s a horrifying truth, but many of these incidents are the results of suicide attempts or intentional self harm.  In this age group, such incidents have increased 37 percent in the last 15 years.

And the numbers become just plain ghastly when it comes to teenagers.  For teens aged 15 to 19 years, opiate overdoses resulting from suicide or self harm attempts increased 140 percent since 1997.  But not all of these incidents involve prescription drugs.  In a shameful microcosm of the wider addiction world, More and more teens are overdosing on heroin.

Why It’s Happening and How To Stop It

 So what on earth is going on here? How is it that so many innocents are taking painkillers and heroin? The short version is that children and teens are suffering from a sort of trickle down effect from our culture’s mental health problem.  Whether it’s an 8 year old drinking Mommy’s methadone, or a depressed high school student trying to escape, these young people are the victims of our systemic denial.  It’s time we got honest about our collective addiction to opiates.  Only then can we discover and develop more treatment options.

And in some ways, the use of opiates is only a symptom of a bigger problem.  This problem is of course our collective state of mental health.  We live in what can feel like a fragmented and isolating world.  It’s inevitable that under such conditions so many millions of people, adults and children alike, suffer from conditions like anxiety and depression.

So a two pronged approach is probably best, if we want to bring these skyrocketing numbers back to earth.  We must address mental health issues and opiate abuse both clinically, as the very real and pervasive maladies they are. For opiate abuse help, contact Recreate Life Counseling today.  

Opiate Addiction Treatment

Opiate Addiction Treatment and The Kitchen Sink

Divided and Conquered

For many years, a drug user who needed opiate addiction treatment didn’t have a whole lot of options.  In fact, for the most part there were just two roads the painkiller or heroin addict could take toward recovery.  If they lived in a large enough city, they could visit the methadone clinic seven days a week.  Everybody else had little choice but to go the 12 step route.  

And worse yet, these two types of opiate addiction treatment had a hard time working together.  They were too suspicious of one another for that.  The methadone folks tended to think that 12 step meetings were too religious, while the 12 steppers thought methadone violated the holy state of abstinence that had saved their lives.

It amounted to a feud between two approaches that should have been on the same side.  It’s probably an oversimplification to say so, but this feud was based on the opposition between science and spirituality.  The result was that both forms of opiate addiction treatment suffered and that opiate users continued to go to prison or die.  

Faith, Science, and Synthesis

Fortunately, this false opposition has started to melt away, along with the misguided binary that’s always stood at its root.  Addicts and experts are learning that science and spirituality can work together in the treatment of opiate addiction.  This is especially true now, with the medical profession actively engaging in the science side of recovery and spiritual types getting more open to what they can do to help.

Culturally speaking, it might have began when people started seeing that prescription painkillers were destroying as many lives as heroin.  Once this happened, it became more difficult to pretend the opiate problem was reserved for hustlers and junkies.  It didn’t take long for the will and the funding to appear for medical treatment for opiate addiction, for options beyond methadone and the problems inherent to it.  

Now the suffering user has options for different kinds of opiate addiction treatment.  They can still go the 12 step route and change themselves from the heart outward, but they can also accept help from drugs like Suboxone or Vivitrol to rewire their chemistry and suppress cravings.  We’ve learned that opiate addiction treatment sometimes needs to fix brain chemistry in ways that 12 step programs alone can’t.  

And as human beings and once suffering addicts, it’s incumbent upon us to open our minds and support whatever mode helps to slow down the incarceration rate and the death toll.  Otherwise, we’re just part of the problem.    

International Overdose Awareness Day 2016

International Overdose Awareness Day (IOAD) is a global event held on August 31st each year that aims to raise awareness of overdose and reduce the stigma of a drug-related death. IOAD also recognizes the grief felt by friends and families remembering those who have lost their lives by drug overdose. IOAD wishes to spread the message that the terrible tragedy of a drug overdose death can be prevented. IOAD originated in 2001 and has been spreading awareness of drug overdoses ever since.

The United States is in the midst of a drug overdose epidemic. According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, it is estimated that in 2014, there were 207,400 drug-related deaths across the world, with overdose accounting for up to a half of all deaths and with opioids involved in most cases. According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, more people died from drug overdoses in 2014 than in any other year on record. Drug overdose deaths are up among both sexes, all races, and adults of nearly all ages. More than three out of five overdose deaths involve an opioid, such as prescription painkillers, heroin, morphine, and fentanyl. In 2014, overdose deaths involving an opioid killed more than 28,000 people in the United States, and more than half of those deaths resulted from prescription opioids.

What is a drug overdose?

An overdose means having too much of a drug or combination of drugs for your body to be able to cope with. All drugs can cause an overdose, including prescription medication prescribed by a doctor. There are a number of signs and symptoms that signal a drug overdose, and these differ depending on the type of drug used.

Signs of a Depressant Overdose

(e.g. heroin, morphine, oxycodone, fentanyl, methadone)

  • Shallow breathing; not breathing at all
  • Snoring; gurgling sounds
  • Blue lips or fingertips
  • No response to stimulus
  • Floppy arms and legs
  • Disorientation
  • Won’t wake up; unconsciousness

Signs of Alcohol Poisoning/Overdose

  • Disorientation
  • Loss of coordination
  • Seizures
  • Vomiting
  • Irregular or slow breathing
  • Blue-tinged or pale face
  • Hypothermia
  • Stupor
  • Unconsciousness

Stimulant Overdose

It is possible to overdose on amphetamines, such as speed and ice. Amphetamine overdose increases the risk of stroke, heart attack, or drug-induced psychotic episodes. Amphetamine overdoses differ from an opioid overdose.

  • Chest pain
  • Disorientation/confusion
  • Severe headache
  • Seizures
  • High temperature
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Agitation; paranoia
  • Hallucinations
  • Unconsciousness

It’s important to be aware of the signs and symptoms of an overdose, so that lives can be saved.

Recovery Is Possible

Recovery from drug and alcohol addiction is possible, and professional help is available to get you started on the right track. If you are struggling with an addiction, or have a loved one who is addicted, please seek support as soon as possible. You do not need to become part of the statistics — help is available.

Number of Opioid-Addicted Babies More than Tripled in 15 Years

According to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the number of babies born dependent on opioids increased by 300% between 1999 and 2013. These babies are born craving opioids and experiencing withdrawal symptoms, resulting in many physical and mental challenges. This data is derived from publicly available data from 28 states where information about opioid addiction has been archived. Terrifyingly enough, the CDC believes that the hospital data greatly underestimates the prevalence of drug-addicted infants. In the report, the CDC stated that neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) increased from 1.5 per 1,000 hospital births in 1999, to 6 per 1,000 hospital births in 2013.

What Can Be Done About This?

The CDC believes that state governments have an important role to play in addressing this issue because they delegate funds for substance abuse treatment and recovery that are passed down from the federal government. In 2012 alone, Medicaid programs in some select states covered 80% of the whopping $1.5 billion in costs for the treatment of drug-addicted babies at hospitals. It would be ideal if even just a percentage of these funds went to helping the mothers before their babies were born addicted to drugs. The CDC urged the need for funding of a public health initiative to help pregnant women who are battling addiction. There needs to be more proactive attempts at helping these women before their babies are born already addicted to drugs. One such effort is the Perinatal Recovery Effort through Maternal Intervention and Education (Project P.R.E.M.I.E) in Santa Maria, California. This program provides pregnant women with a sober living environment, substance abuse programs, parenting classes, and nutrition and health support, regardless of the woman’s financial status. More programs and efforts such as Project P.R.E.M.I.E. need to happen to help expectant women abstain from opioids during pregnancy, and help them maintain lifelong abstinence and sobriety.

Recovery from Drug Addiction

Recovery from drug and alcohol addiction is possible. If you or a loved one is struggling with an addiction, please contact Recreate Life Counseling Services today. Our outpatient program in Delray Beach, Florida is here to help you or your loved one recover from addiction and recreate your life. We believe that addiction recovery is possible for everyone. There is no shame in asking for professional help, so please reach out to us today. We are happy to answer any questions you may have about our treatment program or how we can help you.

Prescription Drug Deaths in the United States

The Trait That Can Identify Addiction

 

The Trait That Can Identify AddictionPrescription drug abuse has been declared an epidemic in the United States, and for very good reason. According to a study published in the American Journal of Public Health, prescription painkillers kill more than two of the hardest illicit drugs, heroin and cocaine, combined. Prescription drug deaths make up a large majority of drug overdose deaths in the United States.

Drug overdose deaths are the leading cause of accidental death in the United States. In 2010, there were over 16,000 deaths due to painkiller use in the country. And according to the American Society of Addiction Medicine, of the 47,055 fatal drug overdoses in 2014, 18,893 overdose deaths were attributed to prescription drug deaths. Despite the crackdown on illegal pill mills in the United States over the last several years, prescription opioids continue to be a major health crisis in the nation. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in 2013, 51.8% of the drug overdose deaths in the United States were attributed to prescription drugs. These shocking statistics demonstrate how dangerous these legal prescription drugs prove to be.

Individuals who abuse prescription painkillers like Percocet and Vicodin continue to take larger and larger doses to achieve a more euphoric high, but such larges doses can stop one’s breathing, resulting in death. The United States has made some progress in recent years on cracking down on prescription drug abuse, which has lead many addicts to turn to heroin — a cheaper, and more easily attainable alternative. The CDC proposes that the answer lies in preventing Americans from becoming addicted to opiates in general, by educating all segments of society, including the medical professional.

Are you or a loved one struggling with an addiction to opiates? If so, the time to seek addiction help is now. Recreate Life Counseling Services can help you or your loved one receive the help you need to overcome your addiction to drugs and alcohol. Call us today for help. Recovery is possible.

Opioid Addiction and Women: The Shocking Statistics

What Are Opiates and Why Are People Getting So Addicted

What Are Opiates and Why Are People Getting So AddictedAddiction does not discriminate against any age, sex, religion, sexual orientation, or socioeconomic status. Rather, addiction affects all people, no matter the background. Americans all across the nation are rapidly becoming addicted to opioids, a class of drugs that includes prescription painkillers and the illegal drug heroin. According to a report by the director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, Nora Volkow, M.D., there are 2.1 million people suffering from substance use disorders related to opioid pain relievers. The group that has seen the highest rise in death rates is middle aged women. In fact, the United States has seen a 450 percent increase in the number of deaths among women since 1999. This statistics is attributed largely to opioid use.

Older Americans struggling with substance abuse related to opioids are largely developing their addiction through medical use, and the death rate is much higher in the older group than it is in the younger group. According to Andrew Kolodny, M.D., founder of Physicians for Responsible Opioid Prescribing, middle aged women are more likely to visit doctors and complain about a chronic pain problem, resulting in the prescribing of opioid pain relievers. Dr. Volkow reports that women are more likely to experience chronic pain and be prescribed prescription pain relievers, be given higher doses, and take them for longer time periods than men.

The Dangers of Opioids

One of the main dangers of opioids is the user’s quick progression to tolerance of the drug. With time, a user’s body becomes acclimated to the drug, and the user takes more of it to just feel normal. Opioids also cause respiratory depression — in fact, the number one cause of death in opioid use is respiratory depression. This means that opioids can cause your breathing to stop, resulting in death. Researchers are also studying the long-term effects of opioids on brain function.

Are You Struggling with an Opioid Addiction?

If you or a loved one is struggling with an opioid addiction, or an addiction of any kind, it is imperative that you seek professional help as soon as possible. The statistics are shocking and unsettling, but you do not need to become one of them. Seeking support from an addiction professional or team of professionals is the best way to ensure your recovery. At Recreate Life Counseling Services, we provide effective, proven methods to help you establish a foundation for your recovery. For more information on how we can help you or your loved one, reach out to us today at (844) 463-3968.