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Archive for the ‘Opioid Abuse’ Category

Understanding Opioid Receptors, The Opioid System, and the Risks for Opioid Addiction

Tuesday, February 21st, 2017

Understanding Opioid Receptors, The Opioid System, and the Risks for Opioid AddictionThe United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime estimates that around 2.1 million people in the United States are currently suffering from substance use disorders related to prescription opioids. Another nearly 500,000 are addicted to heroin, another opiate. Opioid addiction is, in the words of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a national epidemic. The CDC estimates that about 91 Americans die every day from opioid overdose. This is more than four times the number of opioid-related overdose deaths since 1999. To get to the bottom of the ongoing opioid problem in the U.S, one must first understand the brain’s opioid receptors and the opioid system.

Taking a Look at the Brain’s Opioid System

The opioid system is the part of the brain that controls feelings of pain, pleasure, and reward. It is also in charge of addictive behaviors. Neurons in the brain release a family of endogenous peptides, such as endorphin and dynorphins, during activities such as eating, sleeping, exercising, and sexual activity. These peptides activate opioid receptors in the brain, triggering the reward system and generating feelings of pleasure and happiness. The opioid system is the brain’s way of keeping the body alive – offering rewards for activities necessary to sustain life.

The opioid system contains three G protein-coupled receptors: mu, delta, and kappa. It is these three receptors that the release of peptides stimulates in the brain. Mu receptors trigger the brain’s reward system. Studies suggest that it is the mu-opioid receptor that initiates addictive behaviors. The delta receptor is in charge of emotional responses, such as depression and anxiety. These two receptors may hold the key to why people become addicted to opioid drugs – and how to stop addiction in the future.

How Opioids Work on the Brain

Taking a Look at the Brain's Opioid System

Opiates are any drugs naturally derived from the opium poppy. Opioids are the synthetic and semi-synthetic drugs that stem from modified opiate foundations. For the most part, however, people use the terms “opiate” and “opioid” interchangeably. Opioids are a category of drugs that act on the brain’s opioid receptors to create feelings of euphoria. They include morphine, heroin, oxycodone, hydrocodone, codeine, and fentanyl. Opioids work by acting on the brain’s opioid receptors, activating them as the natural releases of peptides normally would. In this way, opioid drugs act as painkillers – and highly addictive recreational drugs.

When a person consumes opiates, they bind to the opioid receptors in the brain. This is possible because the chemical structure of opioids mimics that of the brain’s natural transmitters. Once attached, the drug blocks pain and slows down breathing, creating a clam and pleasant effect. The drugs do not activate the nerve cells the same way as natural transmitters – instead, they send abnormal messages through the brain’s opioid system. They flood the brain’s reward circuit with dopamine, a neurotransmitter that regulates feelings of pleasure, emotion, motivation, and cognition. It is the overstimulation of the reward system that leads to the euphoric feelings, or “high,” of consuming opiates.

Understanding Opioid Addiction

After consuming opiates, the brain associates them with pleasure. Opiates trick the brain into thinking taking the drug is a life-sustaining activity. This deception is what leads to a person wanting to take the drug again and again. Sometimes an opiate is strong enough to create this reaction after just a single use. When taken over a long period of time, opioids change the way the brain’s nerve cells function. Eventually, the user is unable to experience pleasure without the drug. At this point, the person is addicted. An opioid addict will experience unpleasant withdrawal symptoms without the regular use of the drug.

Opioids act on the body’s limbic system, brainstem, and spinal cord. The limbic system is responsible for controlling emotions such as relaxation, contentment, and pleasure. The brainstem controls the body’s automatic systems, such as breathing. Opioids in the brainstem can slow breathing and reduce feelings of pain. The spinal cord transmits sensations from the brain to the body and vice versa. Opioids on the spinal cord can decrease feelings of pain, such as after a serious accident. Injecting opioids into the bloodstream creates a faster, more intense reaction to the drugs. Taking an opioid by mouth results in slower effects, but is safer.

Opioids change the brain’s reward system, leading to addiction regardless of a person’s age, gender, or income. Opiate addiction does not depend on a person’s willpower, strength, or other dispositions, despite common misconceptions. Opiates are a dangerous and common substance for abuse. Understanding opioid addiction as a disease, and not a pitfall of a certain personality type or demographic, is the key to preventing addiction.

Opioid Addiction in America

The current opioid epidemic is due in large part to lax prescribing practices and lack of awareness and education about opioid addiction. Doctors around America issue prescriptions for strong painkillers to treat chronic pain and certain conditions, such as migraine headaches. Often, doctors fail to warn patients of the risk of addiction to prescription drugs. Patients typically do not associate prescription medications with drug abuse and addiction, since they are legal and given to them by a doctor. The combination of lack of addiction awareness and loose prescribing practices has led to the current opioid epidemic in the nation.

Heroin is just a step behind, with studies linking the increase in heroin use to the increase in prescription opioid addiction. According to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), heroin use in the U.S. tripled from 2007 to 2014. The number of deaths involving heroin skyrocketed from 3,036 in 2010 to 10,574 in 2014. As of 2015, the DEA estimated there were about 600,000 heroin users in the U.S. Understanding opioid addiction is the first step toward reducing the opiate powerhouse overtaking America.

Hope for the Future

In spite of the frightening rise in opioid abuse and related deaths in recent years, there is hope for the future. Many states have enacted systems to monitor prescribing practices in an effort to limit the number of prescription opioids that go to patients. Drug awareness programs have sprung up around the country, as have treatment centers. If you or a loved one is struggling with an opioid addiction, get help. Contact The Treatment Center.

Don’t Let Your Loved Ones Suffer From Their Addiction to Opioids! Talk to One of Our Professionals Now!

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How Naloxone Reverses Opioid Overdoses

Monday, February 13th, 2017

How Naloxone Reverses Opioid OverdosesThe United States is in the midst of an overdose epidemic involving opioids. In 2015, prescription and illegal opioids killed 33,000 people. An estimated 1.9 million individuals in the country are addicted to or abusing opioids. A medication known as Naloxone can reverse the symptoms of an opioid overdose and give addicts an opportunity to recover.

The Impact of Opioids in the Body

Opioids include all substances that bind to opioid receptors in the brain and throughout the body to block the experience of pain. The chemicals also stimulate reward centers in the brain, cause drowsiness, and depress respiration. Secondary effects of opioids include constipation and irregular heartbeats.

Over time, users may need more of the drug to achieve the same state of well-being. Continued use can also change the natural release of opioids in the body, creating a sense of discomfort and craving for the drug. Users can experience an overdose if they take too many doses at one time, mix opioids with other drugs, or alter the drug’s composition for faster absorption. The drug’s effects on the brain can cause a user not to realize the potential deadliness of the dose taken. Taking opioids based on how one feels is dangerous.

Signs Of Opioid Overdose

When someone overdoses on opioids, his or her breathing slows significantly. Often, a person suffocates without losing access to air. Those who die during opioid overdoses lose consciousness and stop breathing. If taken with a stimulant, the effects of the opioid may not manifest until the stimulant wears off.

Signs of an opioid overdose include constricted pupils, trouble breathing, and loss of consciousness. A witness may notice changes in breathing, bluish extremities and nails, and vomiting during an overdose.

Death from an opioid overdose can happen quickly or over the course of several hours. In the event of an overdose, first aid life support combined with the administration of Naloxone can prevent death. Anyone who notices the signs of an opioid overdose should immediately contact emergency services.

Signs Of Opioid Overdose

How Naloxone Combats Opioid Overdoses

Naloxone is an opioid antagonist and will not affect individuals who have not used opioids. Health care providers may use naloxone to diagnose and treat opioid overdose. Given via injection or nasal spray, the medication blocks the effects of opioids for up to an hour and a half, which allows the body time to restore respiratory capabilities.

The medication will reverse the overdose effects for anyone who has used:

  • Heroin
  • Morphine
  • Oxycodone
  • Methadone
  • Fentanyl
  • Hydrocodone
  • Codeine
  • Buprenorphine
  • Hydromorphone

Naloxone is only used for opioid overdose and will not stop the effects of stimulants, hallucinogens, benzodiazepines, or non-opiate sedatives. Taking naloxone will not make anyone experience a high, and opioid users will not develop a tolerance to the medication. It only reverses opioid effects on the body.

Treatment Using Naloxone

To reverse the symptoms of an opioid overdose, care providers may administer between 0.4 to 2 milligrams of Naloxone every two to three minutes until the individual begins breathing normally. If the patient does not respond after receiving 10 milligrams of Naloxone, the care provider may need to begin an alternative therapy. Naloxone typically takes about five minutes to reverse the effects of an overdose. If the person overdosing took a delayed-release or long-acting opioid, a professional may recommend ongoing Naloxone treatment and constant observation until all opioids have left the body.

Side Effects of Naloxone

The drug itself causes few side effects. Someone allergic to naloxone may experience difficulty breathing, hives, or swelling after treatment. More commonly, patients will experience opioid withdrawal symptoms after taking the medication. Symptoms including stomach pain and upset, fever, sweating, nervousness, chills, increased blood pressure, and a fast heart rate may all arise after the effects of opioids wear off. Certain medications, herbal supplements, and vitamins can interfere with the efficacy of naloxone.

Naloxone Kits for High-Risk Individuals

Naloxone Kits for High-Risk Individuals

Certain states now sell naloxone kits over the counter because of the widespread opioid epidemic. CVS and other pharmacies may sell kits without a prescription in Arkansas, California, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, New Jersey, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, and Wisconsin. Access to a naloxone inhaler or injection kit could save someone’s life in the event of an overdose.

According to the most recent information available from the World Health Organization, naloxone kit distribution in the United States prevented more than 10,000 overdose deaths between 2006 and 2010. Today, the number may be much higher thanks, in part, to the number of states that sell kits without a prescription.

Preventing Future Opioid Overdoses

One risk associated with a Naloxone-remediated overdose is the secondary overdose. Individuals who take additional opioids after receiving a naloxone treatment may overdose again. Naloxone is not a backup plan for opioid addiction. It is an emergency treatment given only in life-threatening situations. After an overdose, withdrawal support and additional therapies can address the underlying opioid addiction and help individuals on a path to recovery.

Naloxone plays a crucial role in the opioid epidemic as the first step in addiction treatment. When combined with proper aftercare and support, it offers addicts another chance to live life without substance abuse.

Opioid overdoses can happen unexpectedly to anyone who abuses prescription narcotics or takes illegal opioids. The amount of drugs and the time frame can vary widely, making immediate naloxone administration vital to survival. Instead of turning to opioids for pain management and recreational drug use, health care professionals recommend finding natural ways to stimulate the opioid receptors in the body. Meditation, exercise, and biofeedback practices can all minimize pain and create a natural feeling of ease and wellness.

While Naloxone May Save A Life When Administered, Those That Continue To Use Opioids Still Risk The Possibility of Overdose And Death

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The History of Poppies and Opium

Thursday, February 2nd, 2017

The History of Poppies and OpiumWhen most people think of poppies, they think of an innocent red or pink flower. They might think of the flower that put Dorothy to sleep in The Wizard of Oz, a fairly innocent children’s story. But poppies have a dark side with a long history – they are inextricably tied to drug addiction. Poppies are known as addictive plants and have long been used in opium production.

If you grow poppies in your garden, there is no need to panic and uproot them all at once. Nor is there any need to warn your families, friends, and neighbors against the evils of having a poppy in a bud vase. However, it is vital for everyone to educate themselves about the poppy’s history as an addictive plant. Education will help you and your loved ones guard against hidden sources of dangerous drugs.

How a Beautiful Flower Became a Dangerous Opium

Poppies have been cultivated for opium as far back as 3400 B.C. It was first cultivated in lower Mesopotamia, or what is now Southwest Asia. Poppies were progressively passed from the Sumerian culture to the Assyrians, and then to the Egyptians. The plant was commonly called hul gil, or “the joy plant,” because of the “highs” one can get from opium. From 3400 B.C. onward, opium importing, exporting, and use were common in many empires.

The main reason opium use spread so fast, was the Silk Road. The Silk Road refers to a series of interconnected trade routes running from Europe to China. The trade routes first developed between Persia (now Iran) and Syria, as well as in East Indian kingdoms. They grew along the Mediterranean coast, expanding well into China, and into European nations like Italy. By the Middle Ages, the Silk Road’s trade routes reached as far as Scandinavia. The Silk Road encompassed land and sea routes, making opium spread even farther and faster.

Opium was not always used recreationally. As far back as the 1600s and 1700s, it was primarily used medically, such as in traditional Chinese medicine. Recreational use was not unheard of, but uncommon, until the beginning of the Opium Wars. Until then, people who sought opium for recreational use depended on smuggling and commercial loopholes.

The Opium Wars

Although opium was not the only product traded on the Silk Road, it was always in high demand. Empires used it to increase their power and influence, and to control other nations. For example, Britain used their control of the East India Company to smuggle opium into China during the 1800s. The smuggling guaranteed Britain could meet its citizens’ constant demand for Chinese-produced tea. However, the more opium smuggled into China and other nations, the more people became addicted. By the early 1800s, China’s number of opium addicts had skyrocketed, partially due to Turkey’s involvement in the opium trade. An influx of American ships carrying Turkish-grown opium supplied China and other nations with heavy amounts of this coveted drug.

In 1839, China recognized this problem and shut down Britain’s drug trafficking racket. China also confiscated existing opium, which angered Britain and touched off the first of the Opium Wars. China’s Daoguang Emperor was determined to stop the spread of opium addiction in his country, and so Imperial Commissioner Lin Zexu enacted laws banning opium in China and cracking down on opium traders. British traders demanded compensation for their lost opium, but when the Treasury could not afford it, the war was used to resolve Britain’s debt.

During this time, Lin Zexu sent a letter to Queen Victoria, appealing to England’s own ban on the opium trade. He pointed out that if England was going to ban the drug, China was justified in instituting its own ban. In response, the Royal Navy blockaded Pearl Bay to restrict free trade in drugs. However, runs on the blockade, lost English and Chinese ships, and expeditionary forces kept the Opium War going until 1842.

The first Opium War ended with the Treaty of Nanjing, which established Hong Kong as a British territory. The treaty forced China to set up five treaty ports at which the British could trade all goods, including opium, freely. However, a second Opium War began in 1856 when Chinese officials seized the Arrow, a former pirate ship with a Chinese crew and expired British registration. This time France joined the war, having been involved in the treaty port business since 1843. Britain’s constant demand for concessions from China, failed diplomatic missions, and other issues made the Second Opium War stretch until 1860.

The Boxer Rebellion of 1899 further damaged relations between China and the West, and increased the opium problem. Today, the Opium Wars are known as part of China’s Century of Humiliations, and of the conflicts that destroyed Imperial China.

The Rise of Opium Across the World

Opium first entered the United States when Chinese immigrants arrived to work on our many developing railroads. The Gold Rush of 1849 brought a larger influx of Chinese immigrants, along with increased opium smoking and addiction. Opium addiction was not just a Chinese problem, however. By the mid-1800s, opium dens could be found around Southeast Asia and in parts of Europe. Immigrants from many nations brought opium with them, and dens gradually sprang up in the United States, especially in places like San Francisco and New York.

From the 1850s to the 1890s, opium use became more common in the United States. Opium could be drunk, injected, or smoked; drinking and injection were two popular methods of the time. San Francisco effectively banned opium smoking in the late 1800s, but the versatility of opium made it difficult to eradicate altogether. The Harrison Tax Act of 1914 sought to outlaw opium nationwide. However, opium, and especially its derivatives, was readily available to those who knew where to find them.

Opium Derivatives

Along with opium, itself, heroin can be produced from the opium poppy. This particular type of heroin has a long medical history; it was used as an asthma treatment in the 1830s. It was also used to calm fussy babies, as were its derivatives morphine and synthesized heroin. At the time, “heroin” was a brand name of the Bayer Company, now known for its aspirin, not just a street name or moniker for an illegal drug. After the Civil War, Bayer Heroin was actually used to help people addicted to morphine get rid of their addictions. Additionally, it was used as a pain reliever. These uses eventually backfired, and the Heroin Act of 1924 made heroin use illegal for medical and recreational uses throughout the United States.

Despite heroin’s illegal status, its use has been widespread for centuries. It was popular among jazz players and enthusiasts of the 1930s; this subculture gave us the term “hipster.” Heroin, opium, and related drugs such as LSD, MDMA, and marijuana have gained popularity in recent decades, too. Many people continue to use opium, heroin, and morphine to relieve chronic pain or induce sleep, which can lead to severe and lifelong addictions.

Codeine and Oxycodone are two other opium derivatives. They are arguably more dangerous than some of the others because they are often prescribed to treat common illnesses. Codeine, for example, is found in many popular cough syrups. It can also be taken orally as pain relief, and is much less potent than morphine. Yet constant or prolonged codeine use carries risk of dependency and addiction. As for Oxycodone, it too is a commonly prescribed pain reliever. It is made from a component of opium called the Baine, and can be snorted or injected.

Opium Addiction Signs and Symptoms

Opium has been used in medicine since at least 460 A.D., when Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, admitted its usefulness as a narcotic. However, opium’s addictive effects have consistently proven more harmful than beneficial. Today, opium addiction flourishes around the world, particularly in Asian and South American countries such as Thailand and Colombia. International drug trafficking organizations continue to market opium, heroin, and similar drugs throughout the United States.

Today, opium abuse is more commonly called opiate abuse. Abuse covers illegal drugs such as heroin, as well as legal ones such as fentanyl. Physical signs of the use of opioids include drowsiness, confusion, restricted pupils, slowed breathing, and intermittent loss of consciousness. Some opiate abusers experience marked euphoria and mood swings.

Opiate addicts often “doctor shop” to get the drugs they want. Their loved ones often notice extra pill bottles in the trash, or an increase in doctor’s appointments. Due to the doctor shopping, opiate addicts often experience financial problems. They may withdraw from friends and family to keep their addictions secret.

Some opiates are used to treat anxiety and insomnia, so addicts may experience an upswing of these symptoms when they can’t get their drugs of choice. During opiate withdrawal, addicts battle headaches, nausea, constipation and diarrhea, and fatigue, among other symptoms.

If You or a Loved are Suffering From an Opiate Addiction and Need Professional Help, Please Contact The Treatment Center Now for Individualized, Professional Rehabilitation.

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OxyContin Linked to Heroin’s Rise in Popularity

Saturday, July 14th, 2012

The Connection Between Prescribed Opioids and Increased Heroin Use

OxyContin and similar opioid prescriptions often serve as gateway drugs to heroin. When patients can no longer crush, snort, or access the pills they desire, they look elsewhere to achieve a high. Users take their money into the black market, purchase relatively inexpensive and plentiful heroin, and accept a greater degree of risk in doing so. After developing an addiction, the transition from pharmaceutical grade opioids to heroin isn’t too big a leap for many who crave the mind-numbing and euphoric sensation of using.

Discover the Truth About the Opioid/Heroin Crisis

The country is in the midst of an opioid epidemic. That sentence bears repeating – for non-medical users and all prescription drug users who follow their doctor’s recommendations. People developing opioid addictions today live in every state in the nation, come from a variety of socioeconomic backgrounds, and come from all different age groups. They begin using opioids for pain management or fun. Children steal prescriptions from a parent’s cabinet to sell at school. Adults see different doctors with the same ailment to obtain multiple prescriptions for the same opioid drug.

According to data collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the number of deaths associated with opioid use quadrupled from 2000-2015. During that period, over 500,000 people died after experiencing an opioid overdose (including heroin and prescription opioids). In 2015, over 15,000 people were killed from prescription opioids. Over 1,000 people receive treatment in emergency rooms every day because they fail to use opioid prescriptions as directed. The most common culprits in overdose deaths involving opioids include methadone, hydrocodone (Vicodin), and oxycodone (OxyContin).

How OxyContin and Similar Drugs Contribute To the Epidemic

According to research published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2015 and 2016, the connection between prescription opioids and heroin is clear. From surveys conducted from 2008-2014 from opioid-dependent patients, researchers discovered that as prescription opioid use wanes in different regions of the country, heroin abuse tends to rise (with certain regional differences). Availability of the drug and the cost of prescriptions vs. heroin often factor into a patient’s transition from one to the other.

The research published in 2016 highlights the different motivations in a patient’s prescription drug abuse. For some, increased abuse is recreation. For others, it arises from an increasing and perceived need to manage pain levels. Prescribing physicians often facilitate initial abuse. For years, they prescribed opioid medications including OxyContin, Percocet, Vicodin, Demerol, and others without reservation, a short-term tapering off plan, or an explanation of the drugs’ addictive nature. The study also confirmed a correlation between heroin and opioid prescriptions. Findings also suggest the transition from prescription to illegal opioid use leads to a higher rate of heroin overdose deaths.

A prescription opioid is a pharmaceutical-grade heroin. The drug triggers the same pain-blocking, dopamine-producing experience as a prescription. While the drugs behave the same, heroin comes at a higher risk. Dosage miscalculations, formulation mistakes, impurities, and other factors make heroin a much more dangerous opioid than prescription opioids in many ways. The data suggest the nonmedical use of prescription opioids represents a significant risk factor contributing to heroin popularity and abuse.

One Mayor May Sue OxyContin Manufacturer

In Snohomish, Washington, the government has officially declared opioid and heroin abuse as a local epidemic. The mayor there plans to ask for the support of other government officials in filing a lawsuit against Purdue Pharma – the maker of brand name oxycodone drug, OxyContin. If filed, the lawsuit may seek to prove negligent marketing of the drug. The manufacturer advertised the new version of the drug as a less-addictive alternative to other opioids and actively ignored distribution channels into “pill mills,” that then become part of drug-trafficking rings.

While OxyContin did reformulate the drug, so it was harder to abuse (i.e., crush and dissolve) in 2010, the change may only have deterred a limited number of users. Others simply switched to heroin or other opioids. In Snohomish, the government officials associate the addictive prescription with rising crime, homelessness, and an increased number of overdoses. Regardless of the outcome of a potential legal case, the fact that people can easily associate these prescriptions with increased opioid addiction, heroin use, and death raises a red flag we cannot ignore.

Addressing the Connection Between Prescription Opioids and Heroin

Few people question the reality of the epidemic today. Understanding how to curb opioid addiction and overdose death remains a clear challenge. To stem the tide of addiction and death permanently, the country must address the lack of prescription oversight, illegal drug trafficking, and the need for specialized recovery treatment. Those already addicted to opioids need access to medical detox facilities and recovery programs that understand the physical and psychological nature of opioid addictions.

This Epidemic Has Swept the Nation, and Getting Worst Day by Day!
Contact Our Counselors Today and Find Your Safe Recovery With the Treatment Center:

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Prescription Opiate Abuse Increases Lethal Potential of Benzodiazpines

Thursday, June 21st, 2012

A Lethal Combination: Prescription Opioids and Benzodiazepines

In 2015, the primary cause of death for nearly 9,000 individuals was linked to benzo-opiate combinations. Almost a third of opioid overdose fatalities also include the use of a benzodiazepine. The data supports recent regulatory changes to opioid and benzodiazepine warnings. Abusing a legal or illegal opioid with a benzodiazepine could increase a person’s likelihood of overdosing. For many, help will not arrive in time to undo the depressing effects on a person’s respiratory system.

Taking Opioids with Benzodiazepines

Opioid prescriptions (Codeine, Fentanyl, Hydrocodone, etc.) and illegal drugs such as heroin attach to brain receptors and block pain signals. The body naturally produces opioids to block pain under certain conditions. When administered via an outside source, the drug synthetically produces the pain-blocking experience. It also calms or depresses the respiratory system When someone takes too much of an opioid medication, the effect may depress the respiratory system so much that an individual passes out and eventually dies.

Benzodiazepine prescriptions (Xanax, Klonopin, Valium, Ativan, etc.) work throughout the brain and bind to GABA receptors and enhance the neurotransmitter’s function to depress the central nervous system’s responsivity. In effect, the drug acts as a sedative and can alleviate the experience of anxiety, spasms, muscle tension, or pain.

When taken together, a benzodiazepine strengthens the effects of an opioid medication. An individual who takes too high an amount of both drugs will experience increased sedative effects and depressed breathing. The combination can quickly lead to death.

A Combination Used in Ohio’s Death Penalty

Ohio even used a powerful benzo-opioid combination during one man’s execution in 2014. The man struggled, gasped, and convulsed for 10 minutes before he died. His death serves as a cautionary tale of what death looks like when someone mixes opioids and benzodiazepines.

Factors in Polysubstance Medication Abuse

Even a careful prescription drug user could fall victim to the deadly combination of opioids and benzodiazepines. If, for example, an orthopedic physician prescribes an opioid for back pain and a psychiatrist prescribes a benzodiazepine for panic attacks, a patient could unwittingly overdose on the two drugs. At times, a single physician may concurrently prescribe an opioid and a benzodiazepine, which may lure a patient into a false sense of security during use. Recreational drug users are not the only people who die from combining benzodiazepines and opioids.

For recreational drug users, the overdose concern lies in the need to experience a high. Users combine a benzodiazepine with a high-dose opioid to achieve euphoria and/or sedation. Without immediate intervention, an overdose can kill someone in a matter of minutes or hours or result in a coma.

Aside from a history of substance abuse and the failures of routine monitoring, the presence of chronic pain, a lack of insurance coverage, and concurrent addiction and mental health disorders can all contribute to polysubstance medication abuse. For certain individuals with these risk factors, the risk of an overdose and subsequent death or coma increases.

Today, every prescription drug user needs to maintain an awareness of drug outcomes. The medical system monitors drug usage only up to a certain point. From the potential for addiction to drug interactions, understanding prescription medications can help people make informed choices about drug use.

The Signs of an Opioid/Benzodiazepine Overdose

Knowing the signs and symptoms of an overdose can help people identify and treat the underlying problem. For opioid and benzodiazepine combination overdoses, symptoms may include shallow or irregular breathing patterns, a sense of confusion, loss of consciousness, loss of responsivity, and constricted pupils.

If contacted quickly, emergency responders can treat a combination overdose using respiration therapy and antagonist drug treatments. An overdose victim may require ongoing monitoring and further treatment to prevent the likelihood of future overdoses.

New Black Box Warning on Opioids/Benzodiazepines

To combat the high rate of mortality associated with opioid and benzodiazepine abuse, the Food and Drug Administration issued a new requirement for warning labels on almost 400 opioid and benzodiazepine containing products. The Black Box label warns users and health practitioners of a potential risk of co-use. The FDA currently considers the significant increase in overdose and death a public health crisis. Among the data used to make the regulatory changes, the FDA noted a 41% increase in the number of patients prescribed both types of drugs from 2002 to 2014 – an increase equivalent to 2.5 million patients and potential overdose victims.

Avoiding Opioid and Benzodiazepine Overdose

All drug users can take steps to avoid an accidental overdose. Keep a list of all the prescription medications you take in a handy location. Tell each physician about all your current medications before accepting a new prescription, and avoid taking any opioid or benzodiazepine for longer than necessary. Both drugs are highly addictive and can quickly result in abusive habits and overdose. Individually, these drugs represent a distinct health threat. Together, they are positively deadly.

Mixing These Drugs Are Extremely Dangerous, Can Even Lead to Fatal Overdose! If You or a Loved One Is Suffering From a Prescription Addiction,

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Despite Oxycodone Sales Drop, Problems Still Exist

Sunday, February 5th, 2012

Despite Oxycodone Sales Drop, Problems Still Exist

Oxycodone: A the Nationwide Problem

Oxycodone has been a problem across the country for years. The painkiller is an analgesic that was created in 1916. It’s derived from a chemical in poppy plants. This compound, called thebaine, is also an ingredient in other narcotic drugs like heroin and morphine. Originally, Oxycodone was meant to be a non-addictive alternative drugs like heroin and morphine, and were used medicinally as pain relievers before the First World War. After its use and the subsequent addictions that followed, it became apparent that, though less addictive that morphine and heroin, oxycodone is still an addictive substance that should be prescribed with caution.

Oxycodone comes in several different formulations with various names. It’s most commonly known as OxyContin, but it is also a component of drugs like Percodan, Percocet, Roxicodone, and Roxicets, among others.

The Dangers of Oxycodone

Though it is efficient at relieving pain, the biggest danger with Oxycodone is that it is highly addictive. People who use the drug can quickly develop a tolerance to the compound. As a result, they have to take larger and larger doses to feel the same pain relief or euphoria that comes with it. In fact, some studies have shown that oxycodone is as addictive as heroin. Many people who were simply recovering from surgery or treating chronic pain have found themselves the unwitting victims of addiction through oxycodone.

An addiction to Oxycodone can quickly spiral out of control. Even though most dependencies begin legally, people often find that their prescription isn’t enough to meet their needs. Eventually, they’re forced to begin buying their drugs off the street or supplement with heroin.

The Pain of Opiate Withdrawal

Many people feel trapped by their addiction because it is so hard to break. Missing a single dose can cause strong effects on the body in a matter of hours. Some of these are extremely hard to deal with and include:

  • Nausea
  • Muscle Pain
  • Depression
  • Intense Cravings
  • Irritability
  • Bone Pain
  • Sleep Pattern Changes

Opiate withdrawal is painful and can make sufferers feel out of control. Those who are in the midst of withdrawal should be under the supervision of a medical professional.

A Promising Trend for Opiate Addiction

Despite the threat Oxycodone poses, a positive trend has developed in the past years, and it is being led by Florida. In 2010, pharmacies across the state of Florida sold more than 622 million doses. By 2012, that number had fallen to 498 million. The reason Florida has seen such big changes is because their legislation has taken strong actions to fight “pill mills.” At one point, the state was a haven for those looking to sell or buy narcotic pain pills. The laws were very lax at the time. In fact, 90 of the top 100 doctors prescribing the highest amount of Oxycodone were living in Florida. A year later, that number was down to 13.

The new laws banned doctors from distributing pain pills directly from their offices. Undercover teams helped make arrests and prove how serious law enforcement is about cracking down on these dangerous pill mills. Florida legislation also created a database to track the number of prescriptions each doctor has written, as well as whether patients are getting multiple orders from different providers.

Continued Dangers of Oxycodone Addiction

Although these changes are very positive, unfortunately, they don’t signal the end of troubles for the Oxycodone epidemic that has swept the nation. What pills still remain on the street have nearly quadrupled in value. Previously, 80mg of Oxy fetched about $20. Now, they easily go for $80. And though Florida offers hope, it hasn’t resulted in an end to the problem. A significant portion of people suffering from addiction simply moved out of Florida into areas where the Oxy is easier to obtain. Neighboring states like Tennessee and Kentucky have much more lax laws, making it easier for them to continue a similar lifestyle.

Florida’s Legislative Changes Have Certainly Had a Positive Influence on the State
In the Future, the Rest of the Nation May Follow Suit to Help End Prescription Painkiller Abuse:

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