myths of opioid addiction

Myths of Opioid Addiction 

Myths of Opioid Addiction 

The news is bleak and the numbers are staggering. Opioid use in the United States has been on a sharp incline over the past two decades. The number of fatalities, however, how increased at an exponential rate since the late 1990’s. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control, the number of overdose fatalities has:

  • Increased five-fold since 1999
  • Doubled since 2010
  • Soared by 25% since last year

And there seems to be no end in sight. The deaths from opioid use have reached and remain at record levels throughout much of the nation.

These are devastating blows to communities where addiction has reached epidemic levels. Closer to home, addiction can be shattering to both the individual and their family. Although the causes of the increased use to opioids are many, myths of opioid addiction can exasperate efforts to make progress on the issue. Here are just three myths and rumors not only causing hysteria, but barriers to real solutions. 

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3 myths of opioid addiction

Myth #1: Opioid Addicts Can Detox On Their Own

Detox, short for detoxification, is the process of a drug user or alcoholic allowing the body to naturally cleanse itself. On the surface, this method may appear to be a leading solution for an opioid addict. However, “detox” is only part of the process of breaking an opioid addiction.

Similar to other addictions, supplementing the natural detoxification process with FDA-approved medications, medical assistance, and counseling dramatically increase success rates. One key component is implementing behavioral health management.

Breaking addictions is a two-pronged process. On one side, the body must be prepared and properly nourished for the physical toll which accompanies detoxification. On the other, mental fortitude is necessary to endure psychological effects individuals will experience. For both, self-detoxification not only can be ineffective, it may put an addict into a worse state than before.

Myth #2: Opioids Are the Most Effective Chronic Pain Drug

This may be perhaps one of the most common myths of opioid addiction. With the sheer number of opioid prescriptions written each year, one would believe this is indeed true. But it’s not. There have been studies which have shown opioids perhaps could be the worst drugs available for chronic pain.

Working as well as other drugs, opioids have a unique quality. They can actually increase an individual’s tolerance to pain over time. As the pain tolerance rises, so too are the potential negative effects of opioid use including addiction, cardiac arrest, and other threatening outcomes.

There are many less expensive but just as effective non-opioid medications on the market today. From ibuprofen and acetaminophen to lidocaine and capsaicin, patients should have discussions with their physician about alternatives. 

And beyond pills, chronic pain sufferers should explore other options, with the guidance of licensed providers. For example, simple steps such as increased exercise and a healthy diet can go a long way to reducing pain symptoms. Alternative treatments may also be effective. Spinal manipulation, acupuncture, and electric stimulation therapy are methods gaining attention in not only managing but reducing chronic pain.

Myth #3: Some is Good, More is Better

We’ve all heard the saying “less is more.” Debates go on as to how true this statement may be in our daily lives. But when it comes to opioid use, more almost never is better.

Physicians are still learning how the human body regulates pain. There are a number of receptors involved and only a few of them react to opiates. When a low to moderate dose of opioid is effective, higher doses will likely provide no further improvement. This is because as the opioid dosage increases, the body’s ability to use them doesn’t change. The result is the body is left with an overage of the drug which the body must work overtime to flush out while increasing the body’s resistance.

Often it is a better course of action to supplement the effective low to moderate opioid dose with a different type of medication. Two together may work better than either one alone, without the negative side effects. Of course, always discuss with your doctor or pharmacist about taking more than one medication at one time. This includes seemingly innocuous medicines such as cough syrups and common over the counter medications. 

Understand the Signs of Opioid Addiction

As a close family member, it would be easy to believe you would know if a loved one was addicted to opioids. But for a handful of reasons this often is not the case.

Opioid addicts will attempt to hide their addiction from family and friends. Unlike other addictions, opioid users do not have as many telltale signs of addictions. Usually only in the most severe cases will physical and behavioral changes become apparent.

However, one area which may raise a red flag are changes in social behavior. When abusing drugs, users will cut themselves off from social media, avoid phone calls, and not respond to texts. Small talk may become almost non-existent. And interest in others can disappear.

If you suspect someone you care about may have a problem, let them know not only their friends and family are there for them, but specially trained experts. The community supporting those breaking opioid addiction is growing. By eliminating the myths of opioid addiction and showing the way to recovery, we can help to reduce the effects of the opioid crisis.

 

 

Med Conference: Buprenorphine Effective for Addiction Treatment

Attendees at a presentation during Hospital Medicine 2018 learned that the drug buprenorphine is appropriate to prescribe for hospitalized patients with opioid use disorders. The same medication is also effective for treating the acute pain experienced by patients being treated using buprenorphine.

Significant Increase in Drug Overdose Deaths

Dr. Anika Alvanzo, from John Hopkins Medicine, made a presentation at the conference. She referred to the significant increase in drug overdose deaths over the past 20 years. The number of fatalities jumped from three percent per year between 2006-2014 and 18 percent per year in the years 2014-2016. Dr. Alvanzo said that a large number of these deaths can be linked to increased use of synthetic opioids.

Types of Prescription Pain Medications

While some people refer to opioids to describe all types of prescription pain medications, they differ in the way they are made.

• Opiates are natural pain medications that are derived from opium. The opium is extracted from the opium poppy and is used to make medications such as morphine and codeine.
• Synthetic opioids are manufactured by humans and include methadone and fentanyl.
• Semi-synthetic opioids are a hybrid made from making chemical modifications to opiates. Drugs in this category include oxycodone, hydromorphone and buprenorphine.

Buprenorphine Availability a Bridge to Treatment for Opioid Use Disorders

Dr. Alvanzo stated during her presentation that there are currently three medications approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for treating opioid use disorder: buprenorphine, naltrexone and methadone. She went on to say that when buprenorphine is prescribed to patients on discharge from hospital, it “significantly increases” the likelihood that the patient will seek professional treatment. Approximately 75 percent of patients were in treatment one month after discharge.

The doctor urged her colleagues attending Hospital Medicine 2018 to consider getting their buprenorphine certification so that they can order the drug within the hospital and at discharge for patients. She referred to buprenorphine availability as a “bridge to treatment” for opioid use disorders patients.

Bacterial Infection Hidden Epidemic, Taking Lives in Opioid Crisis

The current opioid crisis is responsible for producing a new epidemic among teens and young adults. It’s a potentially-fatal bacterial heart infection called endocarditis.

This condition is most commonly seen in older adults. Now doctors are seeing it in much younger patients more often due to opioid drug use.

What is Endocarditis and How is is Related to Opioid Abuse?

Endocarditis is a bacterial infection of the inner lining of the heart chamber and its valves. The condition occurs when bacteria are enter the body, then are spread through the bloodstream until they attach themselves to damaged parts of the heart. It is spreading through the use of shared needles by IV drug drug users.

The clump of bacteria grows over time, and the infection can be life-threatening if it isn’t treated, according to Dr. Sarah Wakeman, the Medical Director of the Substance Use Disorder Initiative and the Addiction Consult Team at Massachusetts General Hospital.

How Infection is Spread

In a doctor’s office, clinic or hospital setting, a health care worker will swab a patient’s skin with a disinfectant to kill bacteria before administering an injection. The purpose of this step is to avoid pushing bacteria from the skin into the body with the needle. Opioid drug users who are using needles may not be taking this step, which has led to the increase in endocarditis cases.

Endocarditis Treatment Not Enough for Opioid Use Disorder Patients

Endocarditis can be treated using intravenous antibiotics over a long time. If the damage to the heart valves is severe, surgery may be recommended to replace them.

If the patient is also injecting opioids, such as heroin, treating the infection is only treating half of the problem. The opioid use disorder is still present, and the patient will go right back to using once if he doesn’t get appropriate help for the addiction.

According to a 2016 Tufts University study, hospital admissions for endocarditis due to injectable drug use increased from 3,578 in 2000 to 8,530 in 2013. The study also found that a large number of these cases involved young people aged 15-24.

pay for the opioid crisis

Who’s Going to Pay for the Opioid Crisis?

Who’s Going to Pay for the Opioid Crisis?

If you were to ask most recovering heroin addicts about their past choices, they would probably say that they would have never touched the drug if they had known the way it would affect them over the long run. When the cravings are at their worst, people will do anything they can to get their next dose, turning to crime to pay for the habit. Addicts often sell drugs to others so that they won’t run out of money, and that is why the heroin crisis is spreading across the nation like a plague.

The cost on society is much higher than most people would suspect, totaling around $193 billion. The government has to pay to investigate, prosecute and incarcerate those who commit heroin-related crimes, but the public pays for treatment and rehabilitation for those who are on public assistance. Also, many people lose their jobs because of their heroin addiction and are required to sign up for welfare programs, which further strains local, state and federal funds.

With the problem getting worse each day, many are now asking who should pay for the harm heroin has done to the nation. Getting everyone to agree won’t be an easy task, but we need to review the facts and find a solution that will repair the damage and allow us to move forward.

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Pharmaceutical Companies’ Role in the Opioid Epidemic

If you follow the trail of addiction far enough, you will find that many addicts once took prescription painkillers. People would get injured, go to the doctor and receive a prescription for opioid medications to ease the pain. After a few weeks or months, doctors wean patients off the pain medications so that they will no longer need them. By the time their doctors stop writing new prescriptions, many people have already become addicted.

Without a legitimate source of opioids, former patients often look to the streets to satisfy their cravings and stop the withdrawal symptoms. Some evidence suggests that major pharmaceutical companies knew about the danger and still opted to push their drugs to the public. Many people think that the drug manufacturers and marketers should help pay for the damage. Those who disagree with the stance say addicts only have themselves to blame.

The Government

Since the people designed the government to protect and serve the citizens, some say that it should pay for the cost of the opioid crisis. Government-funded rehabilitation centers that focus on treatment instead of punishment could have a positive impact on the nation.

Addicts would not fear prosecution and would be much more willing to seek help. Although the government would face some upfront costs, a lot of advocates believe this method is much cheaper over the long run. Critics argue that the government should not use taxpayer dollars to save people from the trap into which they have fallen.

Nonprofit Organizations

When it comes to finding a solution to the opioid epidemic that has already harmed many lives, some people say that nonprofit organizations should cover the bill. A lot of nonprofits have many connections and deep pockets that would allow them to set up treatment centers and cover the cost of overdose medications. Even though some charities offer their support, involving a few more organizations would take their results to new heights. On the other hand, some believe that nonprofit organizations should focus on assisting people who have diseases over which they have no control.

Drug Users

Since heroin addicts are responsible for the situation in which they have found themselves, they should pay for the fallout, according to some people. The argument is that heroin users had chosen to use opioids and to allow their lives to spiral out of control. The ones who don’t agree with that stance state that most heroin users have lost their jobs and homes, making them unable to pay for the damage.

Families of Drug Users

A lot of individuals feel as though a drug addict’s family should pay for the damage the drug addict has caused to society. Since they believe family members should help and support each other, they conclude that they should also pay for medical treatment, overdose medication and other expenses related to the opioid crisis.

From their perspective, family members should have spotted the warning signs and helped the addict before it was too late to find an easy answer. Others maintain that people are responsible for their own choices, so we should not hold family members accountable for an addict’s behavior.

Getting Help for Opioid Addiction

If you or someone you love is battling a heroin addiction, getting help quickly is vital, and we are here to give you a hand. We take time to get to know each client so that we can craft a treatment plan that will provide the best possible odds of success. If you have concerns, questions or are ready to start, contact us at Desert Cove Recovery today.

12 step rehab

How 12 Step Rehab Works

Will 12 Step Rehab Work for Me?

The 12 step method is considered by many addiction experts to be the best help for long-term addiction recovery. However, it is not without controversy.

Keep reading to get a better understanding of this groundbreaking approach and find out why millions of people in recovery still trust it.

How the 12 Steps Started

Alcoholics Anonymous was founded in Ohio in 1935 by Bill Wilson, a recovering alcoholic, and Dr. Robert Holbrook Smith. AA was based on this premise: When it comes to staying sober, there is strength in numbers. Alcoholics from all walks of life began meeting to share their struggles, celebrate their successes and lean on one another throughout the journey to recovery.

The 12 steps were established in 1946. Originally, the steps emphasized the importance of surrendering one’s addiction to a higher power for healing and restoration. AA also embraced the Serenity Prayer, which was penned by the American theologian Reinhold Niebuhr:

“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

Throughout AA’s history, nonreligious people have objected to its heavy emphasis on spirituality. As a result, the language in many 12 step models has been amended to accommodate people from a myriad of belief systems. References to the presence of God are open to a wide variety of interpretations. Even atheists can use the basic principles for guidance.

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12 Step Sponsors

Sponsorship is also an important feature. Newcomers navigate the 12 steps alongside someone who has already worked through them and is successfully staying sober. Sponsors are typically available for questions, intervention or encouragement almost 24/7.

Another benefit is the ability to learn from others who are farther along on the journey. New members can pick up coping skills and tips for avoiding relapse from seasoned group members. There is also a compassionate atmosphere of accountability without judgment.

12 Step for Addiction Treatment

Over the years, the success of AA has spawned hundreds of other organizations for people with all kinds of addictions. Groups exist for those who struggle with drug abuse, gambling, overeating, hoarding and even addiction to using credit cards. The 12 basic steps are applicable to almost any struggle.

Nationwide, membership in groups that use the model is estimated in the millions. Many fellowships cater to specific demographic groups such as veterans, men or women only, gay people, clergy or seniors. You name it, and there’s probably a 12 step group for it somewhere.

If you talk to recovering alcoholics about the 12 step program, you may start to see a funny pattern. Many express mixed or negative feelings about going to meetings week after week or year after year. However, they grudgingly admit that attendance keeps them sober. When the choice is continued participation or relapse, many people choose to stay involved.

What Are the 12 Steps?

According to the website 12step.org, this is the most current version of the original 12 traditions:

  1. Admit powerlessness over addiction.
  2. Find hope through a higher power or higher goal.
  3. Turn the power to manage life over to the higher power.
  4. Analyze the self and behaviors objectively, described as taking a moral inventory.
  5. Share the results of the analysis with another person or the higher power.
  6. Prepare to allow the higher power to remove the negative aspects discovered in the analysis.
  7. Ask the higher power for these negative aspects to be removed.
  8. Make a list of wrongs done to others.
  9. Make amends for those wrongs as long as it is not harmful to the recipient to do so.
  10. Make self-analysis, removal of faults and amends regular practices.
  11. Meditate or pray for the continued ability to recover.
  12. Help others in need to go through the same process.

Each of the 12 steps expresses an essential value for healing. Working through them one by one empowers addicts to manage their disease and regain control of their lives.

Again, there are many alternative 12 step organizations for people who oppose the idea of God or a higher power.

12 Step Rehab

Around 75 percent of treatment programs incorporate the 12 step philosophy in some form. Most experts recommend the 12 step approach as an established, methodical process for understanding and managing addiction.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse endorses the 12 step premise that addiction cannot be cured and that preventing recurrences is a lifelong process. A study published in the Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment found that the 12 step method perfectly complements therapies geared toward changing thought patterns and behavior.

Like many other treatments, 12 step is most effective as part of a comprehensive program that incorporates other proven methods. Here are just a few treatments that can be supported by the 12 step philosophy:

  • Detox
  • Cognitive behavior therapy
  • Motivational incentives
  • Holistic methods
  • Family counseling
  • Long-term aftercare

Most people who have an addiction also have at least one other mental disorder. This is called dual diagnosis. Treating both conditions at once is far more effective than treating them separately. A study of 12 step programs published in the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs found them beneficial in treating dual diagnosis.

If you need help deciding on the best treatment plan, call Desert Cove Recovery today to speak with an experienced counselor.

Adderall Abuse Among College Students

How Prevalent is Adderall Abuse Among College Students?

Adderall is the most commonly prescribed amphetamine. It is a strong central nervous system stimulant that is used primarily to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Even scientists aren’t sure how speed improves concentration or calms people who are prone to fidget.

Adderall’s effects are similar to those of cocaine, and it is classified as a Schedule II controlled substance because of its high potential for increased tolerance leading to addiction. To date, there is little research into its long-term effects.

Adderall abuse is widespread in the U.S. Young people between ages 18 and 25, particularly college students, are the worst offenders. According to the 2016 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, full-time students abuse Adderall at twice the rate of their peers who don’t attend college. On college campuses, it’s the second-most common drug of abuse. Only marijuana is more popular.

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adderall abuse among College students

Where Do Students Obtain Adderall?

Around two-thirds of young adults get their Adderall supply from friends, roommates or relatives who have prescriptions. Many buy pills from dealers. Since there is no definitive clinical test for ADHD — doctors base diagnoses largely on symptoms and the observations of parents and teachers — faking symptoms to get a prescription is common.

Students may be surprised to learn that sharing their pills, borrowing someone else’s pills, selling, buying or stealing pills, faking symptoms and taking pills at the wrong dose all constitute prescription fraud which is a felony.

Even worse, becoming addicted to Adderall poses serious health risks. Between 2006 and 2011, Adderall-related emergency room visits spiked by more than 156 percent.

What’s the Attraction of Using Adderall?

At correctly prescribed doses in patients with ADHD, Adderall improves focus, sharpens mental acuity and provides a small energy boost for more productive study. Like many drugs, Adderall also increases levels of a natural brain chemical called dopamine. Dopamine enhances feelings of well-being, confidence and reward.

College students who face a long night of cramming for finals often bump up the dose or enhance it with a high-caffeine energy drink. In theory, they can stay awake all hours, absorb everything they study, have perfect recall of the material the next day and ace the test.

In reality, things seldom work out that way. For one thing, Adderall makes no difference whatsoever if you don’t have ADHD. Indeed, that’s one of the biggest factors in diagnosis: If you take Adderall and concentration doesn’t improve, ADHD is not the problem.

For recreational use, it’s cheaper than cocaine and provides many of the same perceived benefits. Someone who is shy or suffers from low self-esteem might take Adderall to have more fun at a party. Unfortunately, like cocaine’s effects, Adderall’s are short-lived at high doses. Coming down is disappointing and unpleasant, so higher doses are required for the same sense of confidence and euphoria. The life of the party eventually becomes annoying, overly talkative, excitable, irritable or downright impossible to be around.

Other attractions for college students are increased libido and sexual stamina. Adderall may work that way for a night or two, but it has the opposite effect as tolerance increase.

Snorting Adderall is even more dangerous than taking it orally. People looking for immediate, intense effects crush pills into a powder and snort it like cocaine.

That’s a good way to destroy your nasal and sinus cavities over just a few weeks. Snorting also exacerbates the negative side effects, such as irregular heartbeat, shown below. You can overdose on Adderall by just taking too many pills, but snorting exponentially increases risk.

At the very least, taking a little extra for nonmedical reasons makes you hyperactive, overly talkative and insomniac. Here are the more serious side effects of using long term at high doses:

  • Rapid or difficult breathing
  • Increased or irregular heart rate
  • High blood pressure
  • Loss of appetite
  • Headache
  • Dry mouth
  • Hoarseness
  • Inability to sleep or sleep disturbances
  • Nausea, diarrhea or constipation
  • Shaking
  • Dizziness
  • Difficulty speaking
  • Nervousness or paranoia
  • Excitability, aggression, anxiety or hostility
  • Hallucinations
  • Depression
  • Excessive fatigue
  • Numbness in the extremities
  • Rash, hives or blistering skin
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Seizures
  • Coma
  • Stroke
  • Suicidal thoughts

Abusing Adderall is so dangerous that the Food and Drug Administration mandates a black-box warning on the label.

No one intends to become addicted to a legal drug that is prescribed by competent doctors every day. It’s the same with prescription painkillers. They’re a godsend for people who require surgery, are injured in an accident or live with chronic pain long term. Painkillers are largely safe when used as directed under the supervision of a doctor, but taking just one extra pill or combining it with another drug, such as alcohol, can have catastrophic, life-changing results.

You may be in danger of becoming addicted to Adderall if you’re taking more than your doctor prescribed, taking it by a non-approved method or taking it without a prescription. Other red flags include those below:

  • Trying repeatedly to stop without success
  • Feeling tired or mentally foggy when you’re not using
  • Lying about Adderall use
  • Watching your academic performance decline
  • Stealing pills or spending a lot of money buying them
  • Losing interest in friends and social activities

Our caring staff at Desert Cove Recovery is highly experienced with Adderall abuse. Call us today for sound advice on breaking free and reclaiming your life.

Dentist Group Announces Policy to Cut Opioid Painkiller Prescriptions

The American Dental Association its members to reduce the number of opioid painkillers they are prescribing. The Association announced a new policy stating that members should “essentially eliminate” opioids from the list of remedies they have at their disposal, “if at all possible.”

Weekly Limits for Narcotics

The Association also wants to have a time limit put in place on prescriptions of no more than one week at a time. Under the new policy, dentists would be required to complete a mandatory education program that encourages use of other pain relievers.

Dentists Prescribe Most Opioids to US Teens

Dental practitioners are the leading source of opioid prescriptions for US teens, even though they write less than seven percent of opioid prescriptions in the US. During the period from 2010-2015, the most notable increase in dental prescriptions was for patients aged 11-18. The rate jumped from close to 100 per 1,000 patients to 165 per 1,000 patients. Among all age groups, the rate increased from 131 per 1,000 patients to 147 per 1,000 patients.

Other Options Shown to be Just as Effective

The number of opioid prescriptions written by dentists continues to rise even though evidence has shown that ibuprofen and acetaminophen control most dental pain effectively, according to an analysis conducted on five studies. The results were published in the Journal of the American Dental Association. These over-the-counter medications are less risky than opioids, which are addictive.

When dentists prescribe opioids, they tend to prescribe Vicodin or Percocet to relieve the short-term pain from procedures such as wisdom teeth extractions, dental implants and root canal work.

Dr. Paul Moore, Professor at the University of Pittsburgh’s School of Dentistry and the co-author of the analysis, said that the fact dentists are still prescribing opioids when other options are just as effective most of the time is “a little disturbing.”

The Association’s new policy supports requiring dentists to complete continuing education courses on limiting opioid use to retain their license. A number of states have already adopted this policy.

holistic addiction treatment

Holistic Methods of Addiction Treatment

Holistic Methods of Addiction Treatment

Addiction affects every part of a person’s life. Relationships, career prospects, health, and spirituality can be damaged by a substance abuse problems. Drug abuse can also appear as a symptom of an issue with these or other areas of a person’s life. Without addressing these underlying problems, true healing and recovery cannot occur.

Holistic addiction treatment looks at an individual as a whole rather than focusing on a particular problem at the exclusion of other factors. By meeting the needs of the patient’s mind, body and soul at the same time, holistic addiction treatment plans are a more thorough and attentive solution.

Benefits of Holistic Addiction Treatment

The core belief behind holistic treatment is that an individual is more than the sum of his or her experiences and problems. Rather than isolating a specific issue like addiction and treating it in a vacuum, holistic treatments address concerns of the mind, body and spirit simultaneously.

This approach makes the most sense when you consider the power that addiction can have on a person’s life. Addiction can be all-consuming. It determines how a person feels, how time is spent, the quality and nature of relationships and so much more. Eliminating an addiction without addressing these other aspects of a person’s life may not be effective in the long term.

When a person is addicted, the substance at the heart of the addiction may become an all-purpose crutch to substitute for wellness and growth. Pain that is physical, spiritual or emotional in nature may be self-medicated through drugs or alcohol. When these substances are removed, the underlying issues must still be addressed.

Recognizing that sickness to the mind, body or spirit may be at the root of addiction is what separates holistic treatment from other types of drug rehab.

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holistic addiction treatment

Complementary and Integrative Therapies

Successful drug rehabilitation depends on a combination of an addiction cessation program and cognitive behavioral therapy. A program like the 12-step program provides a framework for combating and overcoming addiction within a supportive network of others in recovery. Therapy works to help a patient build better coping mechanisms and address the underlying issues that may cause addiction or exacerbate substance abuse problems.

On their own, each of these techniques is powerful. When combined, they provide a greater foundation on which a patient can build a new substance-free life. The greatest strength of the holistic treatment approach is the ability of one method’s strengths to balance out another’s weaknesses, and that is something we strive for at Desert Cove.

In addition to traditional drug rehab methods, holistic addiction treatment may also incorporate complementary and alternative or integrative medicine techniques:

  • Yoga
  • Acupuncture
  • Meditation
  • Nutritional intervention
  • Herbal medicine
  • Biofeedback
  • Reiki
  • Massage
  • Physical activities and exercise

Many holistic programs also take advantage of scenic locations. Being surrounded by nature can help to improve spiritual health and overall wellness, and the attractive atmosphere of these locations can ease the discomfort of people struggling with the decision to leave their lives for inpatient treatment at a facility.

Alternative medicine treatments are not scientifically proven to treat any specific ailment, but they have been shown to help some people with overall wellness, energy improvements, spiritual health or other benefits.

Stress relief is an important component of integrative therapy. Quitting an addictive substance is a tumultuous process that can cause significant upset and disturbance in an individual’s daily life. Providing a way to cope with that stress and manage it productively can have a tremendous benefit.

A Personalized Approach to Drug Rehab

Not all holistic drug recovery programs offer the same treatments, and not every treatment will be effective for every patient. This is why it’s important for recovery to be personalized and based on the needs of the individual. Taking the time to understand an individual’s history, background, challenges and goals helps with tailoring the treatment plan and ensuring the best possible results.

For more information about our holistic treatment options and what services we provide, contact Desert Cove Recovery today.

Hospitals Reduce Opioid Dispensing in Response to Epidemic

More hospitals are changing their policies about dispensing opioids to emergency room and surgical patients. Drugs like OxyContin, Vicodin and fentanyl, which are prescribed to temporarily provide relief for moderate to severe pain, have also caused irreparable damage. It’s difficult to determine how many people who currently have an addiction to opioids were first exposed to the drugs at a hospital, but it is often where people first encounter them.

Hospital patients aren’t the only ones who were at risk of becoming addicted to painkillers. People who were prescribed large amounts of this class of drugs would often end up with leftover pills. More than 50 percent of Americans who misuse opioids get them from friends or family members, according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health.

Now there is an increasing number of hospitals and other medical practices that are reducing the number of pills being prescribed for pain. Doctors are saying that opioids are not the only choice for treating acute pain and that less potent options are often just as effective. In the past six months, Rush University Medical Center has given patients recovering from surgery ibuprofen, acetaminophen and gabapentin, which is used to treat nerve pain. A mild opioid medication is used to treat sharper spikes of pain and more acute pain.

Dr. Asokumar Buvanendran, a pain specialist at Rush University Medical Center, said that patients were “more satisfied” with the new protocol. It represents a trend that is hopefully leading more people away from these deadly drugs.

According to experts, opioid use skyrocketed in the 1990s when doctors started prescribing them to patients much more often. During this time, physicians were influenced in their choice to provide medicines in this class to patients by aggressive pharmaceutical company marketing tactics.

Rethinking Approach to Treating Pain

Most of the opioids were given to chronic pain patients. They were also the first choice for post-surgical pain or for patients visiting emergency rooms complaining of pain.

Doctors had the idea that drugs didn’t cause addiction; abusers were solely responsible for their own plight if they became addicted. Research has now shown that the properties of the drugs themselves change brain chemistry in users to cause the addiction.

New Opioid Prescribing Guidelines Help Doctors Make Better Decisions

Northwestern Medicine now talks to patients about the dangers of opioids before surgery. Patients are asked to bring any unused medication to follow-up appointments with their surgeon, so that the drugs can be disposed of safely.

All doctors in the state are required to enroll in a database to monitor painkillers and prescriptions that are commonly abused, a measure to seek out those who may be “doctor shopping” to get drugs. Some hospitals have similar in-house systems.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has called for doctors to prescribe a maximum of seven days’ worth of opioids for patients to take home for acute pain. Many emergency departments today are only giving out 24 – 72 hours’ worth of pills.

While some chronic and severe pain patients may feel these tougher prescribing practices are prohibitive to their care, hopefully there is some comfort knowing that their inconvenience could be contributing to saving lives.

arizona safe injection sites

Safe Injection Sites in AZ

Safe Injection Sites in AZ

Safe injection sites, also known as supervised injection facilities or “fix rooms,” provide a medically-supervised facility where injectable drugs can be used safely and without legal repercussions.

These safe injection facilities are contentious. Critics and supporters alike have made arguments about their efficacy and usefulness. At present, are no safe injection sites in AZ or surrounding areas, but some states are considering implementing them as a harm-reduction strategy for battling the opioid crisis.

Locations of Safe Injection Sites

Worldwide, there are 66 cities with some form of medically supervised drug injection facility. The first North American location opened in Canada in 2004, and an experimental “underground” facility has been in operation at an undisclosed location in the U.S. since 2013. However, the legality of these facilities is still hotly debated, and only a few states have discussed implementing them.

At present, cities in New York and California are considering opening safe injection sites. Two facilities have been approved for opening in Seattle. If these facilities lead to positive outcomes, they may become more widespread. However, the controversy surrounding safe injection facilities continues to grow.

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safe injection sites in arizona

How Do Safe Injection Sites Work?

The idea behind a supervised injection facility is to reduce the risk of overdose and disease associated with injectable drugs. Opioid overdose kills tens of thousands of people each year and is a leading cause of death. Staff members at supervised injection facilities would have access to the overdose-reversal drug naloxone, reducing the risk of death.

Additionally, reusing and sharing needles can cause the spread of disease and infection. Providing drug users sterile, fresh needles and a way to safely dispose of them should reduce the spread of HIV, hepatitis and other similar diseases. In this way, these facilities are meant to protect public health as well as the health of individual users.

These facilities would also provide information and resources regarding drug rehabilitation and recovery programs. By providing a safe location for drug users to receive health and social services, a line of communication can be opened that may encourage more addicts to seek treatment.

Pros and Cons of Safe Injection Sites in AZ

It’s too early to tell whether supervised injection facilities might become the norm in the U.S. Despite some evidence that these facilities may reduce the overall numbers of drug-related deaths, many opponents simply are not comfortable with allowing illegal drug use to be condoned.

The current administration has tended to side with the “war on drugs,” and many people are in favor of stronger legal repercussions against the sale and use of drugs. Having a safe place to inject drugs without fear of legal punishment may encourage more people to begin using drugs. In other words, the fear of legal repercussions or safety concerns may be preventing some people from engaging in drug use. Removing these fears may actually make the opioid problem worse, not better.

Another concern about these facilities is that they currently illegal at the federal level. Although states can institute these policies themselves, federal law still rules against them. This means that government oversight over these facilities and the drug policy in general will weaken, and laws and regulations may vary between states and locations. This could cause confusion and potentially create safety concerns.

A Multi-Faceted Approach to a Complex Problem

The drug problem gripping the nation is complex, and no single solution will solve this epidemic. Addiction is complicated. It is affected by mental health, socioeconomic status, genetic predisposition and more. A variety of individual and systemic factors create and support drug abuse.

Only a holistic approach that considers the individual needs of drug users and the systems in place to offer support, recovery and intervention can truly provide long-term solutions. Harm reduction techniques may prove to be a temporary bandage for a bigger issue, but exploring the possibilities and analyzing their effectiveness can still help move us toward solving the drug crisis.

There is one thing that is certain: Drug users require resources and assistance to overcome their addictions. Whether or not safe injection sites and other harm-reduction strategies are implemented, drug rehabilitation facilities remain a cornerstone of helping individuals overcome their addictions and reclaiming their lives.

If you or a loved one currently suffers from addiction, contact us for more information about our addiction treatment programs and the work we do with the community in Arizona to aid recovery and prevent relapse.