Scientists May Have Found Cure for Cocaine Dependency

Researchers at New York’s Mt. Sinai Medical Center have pinpointed a specific protein produced by the body’s immune system which may be responsible for a person becoming addicted to cocaine. The scientists believe this discovery could be instrumental in helping to cure cocaine addiction, since they have successfully defeated cocaine dependency in laboratory mice.

The protein, granulocyte-colony stimulating factor (G-CSF), affects the brain’s reward centers. In cocaine users, levels of G-CSF increase in the brain with repeated use.

Medical Therapies for Treating Cocaine

Lead researcher Dr. Drew Kiraly, an assistant professor of psychiatry at the Icahn School of Psychiatry, explained that the results of the study are a very exciting development. Dr. Kiraly pointed out that cocaine addiction has traditionally been treated with psychotherapy and 12-step programs; to date, there are no medication-assisted therapy options available.

Researchers injected G-CSF into the nucleus acumbens (brain reward centers) of laboratory mice. They noted that the mice displayed a “significant increase” in seeking out and consuming cocaine. As the level of G-CSF doses was gradually increased, the mice worked harder to find even more cocaine.

When the research team tested a treatment to neutralize G-CSF, they discovered that the mice’s motivation to look for the drug disappeared. The changes in G-CSF levels were linked exclusively to urges to use cocaine. The mice were still as interested in other treats, such as sugar water, which also activate the reward centers in the brain.

The results of the study were published in Nature Communications. The scientists point out that addiction treatments are plagued with difficulties for several reasons, including issues with “side effects, routes of delivery, or abuse potential of agents tested.”

Future Non-Addictive Treatment Option Might Be Possible

The potential for substance abuse is a risk factor in other options currently in development. The risk is that patients are being weaned from one addictive substance in favor of another one.

The authors of the study feel that G-CSF has the advantage of being an option for reducing the urge to use cocaine while being non-addictive. Dr. Kiraly says there is work required to adapt the study’s findings to humans. However, there is a “high possibility” of it leading to future treatments for human clients.

Dr. Kiraly points out that medications that can change G-CSF are already available and are approved by the Food and Drug Administration. Once researchers are able to clarify the best ways to target G-CSF inhibitors to reduce addiction-related behaviors, there is every reason to be optimistic that treatments will be developed for patients.

Perks of Giving up Alcohol for Good: Sobriety Perks

Perks of Giving up Alcohol for Good: Sobriety Perks

While the thought of giving up alcohol might seem overwhelming to some people, doing so can offer numerous long-term benefits. Some sobriety perks include such things as better sleep, better skin and hair, and a reduction of risk for such conditions as diabetes, cancer, liver disease and others. You may also enjoy better relationships with your friends and family. If you are thinking about giving up alcohol, it may be easier when you think about the sobriety perks that you will enjoy instead of focusing on not being able to drink.

Sleep More Without Alcohol

Drinking alcohol disrupts your sleep. In one study that was published in Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research, a peer-reviewed journal, the researchers found that people who drink alcohol before they go to sleep show an increase in alpha waves. Alpha waves are most common when people are awake but in a resting state. This means that your sleep is disrupted. A meta-analysis of 27 studies of alcohol’s effect on sleep found that while alcohol might help people to fall asleep faster initially, it causes them to toss and turn at night and interferes with their REM sleep. This results in fatigue, lower concentration and problems with focusing during the day. When you give up alcohol, you can look forward to better sleep, less fatigue and a better ability to concentrate during the day.

Without Alcohol Your Hair and Skin will Shine

Since alcohol is a diuretic, it can cause you to become dehydrated easily. This may also cause your skin to become less hydrated, leading to complexion problems. When you give up alcohol, you’ll notice that your skin looks fuller and less dry. Ruddiness around your nose and on your cheeks may also fade, and other skin issues may improve. your hair is also likely to improve. It may become shinier and fuller when you give up alcohol for good.

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perks of giving up alcohol

Lessen the Risk of Disease When You Give up Drinking

A huge benefit of giving up alcohol is that you can enjoy substantially lower risks of developing certain diseases. The National Cancer Institute reports that quitting drinking can reduce your risk of developing seven different types of cancer. In a study that was reported in the National Institutes of Health’s Report on Carcinogens, 19,500 cancer deaths in 2009 were alcohol-related, which accounted for 3.5 percent of the total.

In addition to reducing your risk of cancer, quitting alcohol can also help to reduce your risk of diabetes and liver disease. Your liver is responsible for processing liver. When people drink too much alcohol, the liver is unable to keep up and stores glucose as fat. If you have a fatty liver, stopping drinking may allow it to heal so that you can lower your risk of developing liver disease or cirrhosis. Moderate amounts of alcohol may cause your blood sugar to rise while excessive amounts of alcohol may cause it to fall dangerously. This may raise your risk of developing diabetes. Quitting drinking can help you to get your blood sugar under control.

Relationships Improve Without Alcohol

There is no question that alcohol can negatively impact relationships with your family and friends. When you quit drinking, you can concentrate on rebuilding these relationships. Remaining sober may help you to learn how to deal with disappointments and stress in a healthier way.

Lose Weight When You Give Up Alcohol

A great benefit of quitting drinking is that you may find that you lose excess weight almost effortlessly. There are quite a few calories in alcohol. When you stop drinking, you give up those excess calories. As long as you don’t replace the calories with desserts or snacks, you may begin to lose the excess weight that you have wanted to for a long time.

More Money When You’re Not Buying Alcohol

Drinking costs a lot of money, especially if you have been a moderate or heavy drinker or have indulged in expensive liqueurs or wines. Sitting down with a calculator and a pen and paper can be eye-opening. Tally up how much you drank each day both at home and while you were out and look at the cost. It can be very motivating for most people to remain sober when they see exactly how much their former alcohol use cost them each month. A fun thing to do is to put the money that you used to spend on alcohol in your savings and reward yourself for your sobriety with a fun trip.

Embracing sobriety for the long term may seem like a daunting idea, but you may enjoy numerous benefits when you do. Keep reminding yourself of these sobriety perks, and make certain to talk to people in your support network when you experience cravings. Soon, you will be on your way to a healthier and happier life that is alcohol-free.

Sources
http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/acer.12621/abstract

https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/causes-prevention/risk/alcohol/alcohol-fact-sheet#q2

http://ntp.niehs.nih.gov/ntp/roc/twelfth/profiles/AlcoholicBeverageConsumption.pdf

https://www.webmd.com/diabetes/guide/drinking-alcohol

States Looking to Rewrite Drug Laws with Focus on Addiction Treatment

Legislators and other policy makers throughout the country continue their efforts to combat the drug epidemic in America, especially with regards to heroin and other opiates. For example, lawmakers in Washington are seeking to change the way the Evergreen State approaches treating opioid addiction. House Bill 2489 and its counterpart in the Senate would make significant changes to the state law to make medication-assisted therapy the treatment of choice for opioid addiction, according to reports.

Treatments for Opioid Dependency

Medication-assisted therapy is one type of treatment where people dependent on the drugs are prescribed substitute medications such as buprenorphine or methadone to keep withdrawal symptoms under control while providing supportive counseling and other services.

Many studies have shown that the incorporation of such medication can be beneficial, although most treatment specialists still recommend only short-term usage, as continuing to take the drugs for years results in its own dependency. However, used for stabilization and then a tapering process bolstered by intensive treatment can improve early relapse rates for many users.

Offering Many Forms of Treatment

The deputy chief medical officer for the Washington Health Care Authority, Charissa Fotinos, pointed out that updating the state treatment guidelines would help to put across the message that addiction is not a moral failing on the part of those affected. It may not encourage more people to seek help, but it will change the tone of the conversation for those who do reach out for assistance.

Opioid users themselves stated in a survey they were very interested in medications to help them reduce their drug use. They are interested in obtaining the most effective treatment for their addiction, according to the University of Washington’s Alcohol and Drug Abuse Institute, which conducted the survey of needle exchange clients.

The bill will change the current language, and it includes directions to expand access to treatment options across the state. Many of these expanded treatment provisions hinge on funding that will be provided in Governor Jay Inslee’s new budget.

The new bill and the funding would work together to create a “hub and spoke” treatment network in areas of Washington. Six pilot sites are operating in the western part of the state with federal funding received last fall.

Under this treatment model, clients are referred to a central hub to get started on their treatment. Once they are stabilized, they can get ongoing care, including counseling and medication, from a mobile provider or a clinic located closer to their home.

treating issues behind addiction

Facing and Treating the Issues Behind Addiction

Identifying the Issues Behind Addiction

Many treatment centers focus only on addiction when they try to help people break the habit and reclaim control of their lives. Because addiction is often the symptom of other problems, looking under the surface and treating those conditions is a vital part of the recovery process. Taking the right steps will not only help people overcome addiction, but it will also prevent them from falling into the same trap in the future.

When people come to us for support and guidance through this challenging period, we will learn about them and their needs so that we can craft an approach that will get the job done. With a dual diagnosis, we will find and treat the underlying issues, and you will be happy when you see the difference it can make. In addition to facing the issues behind addiction, you will also learn to take a holistic approach to recovery, allowing your body, mind and spirit to break the chains of addiction so that you can move forward with your life.

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Mental Illness and Addiction

Mental illness is a significant factor for many people who struggle with addiction and want to find a cure. Some people don’t even realize that they are using drugs or alcohol to treat depression, anxiety or other mental health problems.

While using substances can provide temporary relief, it can cause many more complications over the long run that you can’t afford to overlook if you value your well-being. The team at ABC Rehab will search for, find and treat the problems that remain out of view, and you will be on the right track before you know it. When you let us manage your addiction and the issues that contribute to it, you will enhance your odds of reaching your desired outcome.

The Connection Between Abuse and Addiction

When people use drugs or alcohol, they often do so to mask the pain of abuse. While some of them drink or take drugs to reduce the pain of ongoing abuse, others turn to substance use to forget about and ease the stress of past abuse. If you or someone you know can relate to that problem, we are here to give you a hand, offering support when you need it the most.

Trauma and Addiction

People don’t always have the same response to stressful events in life, and poor coping skills can make it all but impossible to overcome emotional trauma. Those who enlist our help will learn to accept the past and create a bright future.

Depending on your needs and goals, we can help you come to terms with what has happened so that it won’t hold you back from reaching your real potential. Removing the pain of past trauma will make it a lot easier for you to get and stay sober, and you will have confidence in your decision to work with our team. Learning to accept the past will dissolve your trauma and allow you to embrace any challenge you encounter along the way. Our goal is to give you the required strength and mental endurance to face your trauma in a way that will lead to your success.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

During the time we have spent helping people overcome addiction, we discovered that post-traumatic stress disorder is often to blame. When you have PTSD, anything can trigger it and start a flashback that will force you to relive one of the worst moments of your life, and many people see drugs or alcohol as the only way to escape from the pain.

Helping you overcome your addiction won’t do a lot of good if you still have PTSD because it can entice you to return to old habits. Treating your PTSD and addiction at the same time will skyrocket your odds of defeating addiction, and our team will guide you through each step.

Our Approach

If you would like to get the most from your effort and to work with a team that offers consistent results, learn how we approach addiction and its underlying issues. Arming yourself with that information will let you choose a path with peace of mind, and you will know what you can expect at each step.

You will have access to caring experts who will learn about your exact needs and help you create a strategy that will allow you to achieve long-term success. When you work with us, you will discover how to let God into your life so that he can give you the strength you never knew you had.

Getting Started

Are you done allowing addiction to control your life and dictate the choices you make each day? If so, you can reach out to Desert Cove Recovery right away, and we will do what it takes to get you moving on the right track as soon as possible. When we stand with you and help you treat issues that hide below the surface, you will see that defeating addiction is possible and that you can reach your goals if you use a proven approach and the right mindset.

We will answer your questions and address your concerns so that you will have confidence as you make your choice. The future of which you have been dreaming is right around the corner, and you don’t need to fight the battle alone.

stages of opiate withdrawal

Stages of Opiate Withdrawal

Stages of Opiate Withdrawal

Opiates are addictive in part because they activate parts of the brain associated with pleasure. However, that is only part of the story. A person who takes painkillers or other opioids will find themselves chemically dependent on the drugs. Once this happens, overcoming addiction can be extremely difficult. The physical and emotional withdrawal symptoms pose a tremendous challenge to individuals looking for recovery.

How Opioids Work in the Brain

Your body naturally produces opioids, which attach to special receptors in the brain. These neurotransmitters help the body naturally regulate pain and stress.

Chemical opioids attach to the same receptors in the brain and have a similar effect of producing euphoria. However, they are significantly stronger than anything the body can produce on its own. These fake neurotransmitters flood the system and eventually prevent the body from producing opioids of its own. Part of what causes drug withdrawal symptoms is this lack of dopamine and related chemicals in the brain as the body adjusts to the absence of opioids.

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Stages of Opiate Withdrawal: A Timeline

Drug withdrawal presents a set of physical and emotional symptoms that can be extremely difficult to endure. However, it’s important to remember that withdrawal is temporary.

If you or a loved one is facing detoxification and rehab, know that the worst of the symptoms will last just a few days. Knowing what to expect and having a timeline of events in mind can help to ease some of the psychological pressure when facing withdrawal and recovery.

Withdrawal symptoms for short-acting opiates will begin within 12 hours of the last dose. For long-acting opiates, symptoms may start within 30 hours. Over the next two days, symptoms will continue to worsen, peaking around the 72 hour mark. By the end of the third day, most physical symptoms will have resolved. Psychological symptoms and cravings may continue for a week or more.

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stages of opioid withdrawal

Early withdrawal symptoms include the following:

  • Drug cravings
  • Agitation or anxiety
  • Muscle aches
  • Sweats and fever
  • Increased blood pressure and heart rate
  • Sleep disruption

These initial symptoms may cause restlessness and mood swings.

The later stage of withdrawal produces flu-like symptoms:

  • Nausea, vomiting or diarrhea
  • Goosebumps and shivering
  • Stomach cramps and pain

Depression and intense drug cravings may accompany this stage. These symptoms will generally peak within 72 hours and resolve within five days. From a physical standpoint, recovery is well underway. Physical symptoms of withdrawal may disappear quickly after the third day of detox. However, psychological symptoms may linger, and drug cravings may persist or come and go in the weeks and months that follow.

What About Drug Replacement?

In some cases, an alternative substance like Suboxone may be provided to help mitigate the effects of chemical dependence. This drug is classified as a “partial opioid agonist,” which means that it is a weaker type of opioid that cannot be abused. Other replacement drugs, like methadone, may also sometimes be used.

Addiction clinics and rehab facilities offer these medications as a stepping stone to help reduce the severity of drug withdrawal symptoms. However, users will still undergo withdrawal when weaning off of the replacement drug, and recovery will take longer when these medical aids are offered. There is also the risk of finding a way to abuse these medications.

The Importance of Support During Withdrawal

Drug detox and addiction recovery services are crucial to helping people recover safely throughout the stages of opiate withdrawal and stay away from drugs long-term.

One important but often overlooked symptom of withdrawal is suicidal ideation. Not everyone who undergoes withdrawal feels suicidal, but the feelings of depression can be overwhelming. People in the grip of withdrawal may experience mood swings and dark thoughts that seem to have no end point. The feeling that life may never be better than it is in that dark moment or that the addict can never be happy again without drugs can be overwhelming. For this reason, a strong support system is essential to the safety of people overcoming addiction. Recovering addicts need to know that their symptoms are temporary. They also need to be protected from opportunities for self-harm and relapse.

Protecting recovering addicts from relapse is especially important because many deadly overdoses occur during relapse. Because the user’s body is no longer accustomed to the drug, it will be more sensitive. What would have been a normal dose for the user before withdrawal can become a deadly overdose in the weeks that follow.

The best drug rehabilitation programs provide a strong support network for recovering addicts throughout all stages of recovery, including the difficult weeks that follow acute drug withdrawal. By continuing to offer support after the initial symptoms have faded, the rehab program can provide the best environment for successful and permanent drug cessation.

Buprenorphine for Addiction Treatment

States Expanding Access to Buprenorphine for Addiction Treatment

Buprenorphine for Addiction TreatmentThere continues to be a high demand for medication-assisted treatment (MAT) for opioid addiction. To date, however, states like Ohio only haveabout two percent of doctors that have completed the training necessary to prescribe or dispense buprenorphine. This is the main ingredient in the addiction treatment drug Suboxone, and other similar medications.

Plan to Double Healthcare Professionals Providing Buprenorphine

The state is planning to double the number of healthcare professionals certified to provide Suboxone (and other addiction treatment medications) to patients over the next 18 months. The federal government has provided $26 million in grant funding under the 21st Century Cares Act so that more healthcare providers can get training. Under existing law, doctors, as well as nurse practitioners and physician assistants (PAs) can dispense buprenorphine.

Waiver to Treat Patients for Opioid Addiction

Under the Drug Addiction Treatment Act of 2000 (Data 2000), doctors can apply for a waiver allowing them to treat patients with buprenorphine in their office, clinic, a community hospital or “any other setting where they are qualified to practice.” To qualify for a physician waiver, a doctor must be:

• Licensed under state law
• Registered with the DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration) to dispense controlled substances
• Agree to treat a maximum of 30 MAT patients during the first year
• Qualify to treat MAT patients, either by training or by professional certification

A doctor who has completed at least eight hours of classroom training focused on treating and managing patients with opioid use disorders can qualify for a waiver. The new training program for medical professionals is 1.5 days of classroom instruction, and participants are expected to continue their education through online courses and seminars.

Medication-Assisted Treatment Growing in the United States

The National Institutes of Health Studies says that MAT is a very effective method for treating opioid addiction. Studies conducted in 2014 revealed improved long-term recovery rates over traditional treatment methods, though it often takes finding the perfect balance for each individual as to how long they stay on the medication. Ideally, they would work toward being off of it in 2 years or less, and many people seek to use Suboxone for short-term tapering to simply ease opiate withdrawal symptoms.

is vivitrol safe for addiction treatment

Is Vivitrol® Safe for Addiction Treatment?

Is Vivitrol® Safe Addiction Treatment?

Did you know that the Center for Disease Control reports that 91 Americans die every day from an opioid overdose?

Would you believe that opioids like heroin, fentanyl and prescription narcotics killed over 33,000 people in 2015 alone?

The CDC states that over 60 percent of overdose deaths are due to opioids, whether they’re prescription pills or street drugs. Opioid addiction is quickly reaching crisis levels in the United States, but addiction treatments are not keeping up with this alarming trend.

The Food and Drug Administration has recently approved the use of Vivitrol®, an injectable form of the well-known addiction treatment drug naltrexone.

What is Vivitrol®?

Vivitrol® is the injectable form of the pill naltrexone. Until recently, naltrexone was an oral medication that doctors would prescribe for both alcohol and drug addictions. The person would be required to take a pill every day in order to curb cravings for opioids or alcohol.

The potential problem with naltrexone pills is the accountability aspect of the treatment. It can be easy for addicts to find themselves in compromising situations and “forget” to take their pill, which undermines their sobriety treatment.

By switching to a single monthly shot administered by a doctor, this can eliminate the temptation of those potentially dangerous situations.

How Does Injectable Naltrexone Work?

At its core, naltrexone is what is known as an antagonist, or blocking, medication. The medication works by binding itself to the same receptors in the brain that an opioid molecule would typically bind to. The difference is that naltrexone does not provide the dopamine release, or “high,” that comes when an opioid binds to the receptor instead.

This means that the medication creates a barrier to block opioid molecules from binding to those receptors, which takes away all of the reward an addict would typically get from using his or her drug of choice. This helps to retrain the brain’s craving signals and prevent relapse while the person is in recovery.

It’s important to note that Vivitrol®, or any naltrexone can only be taken after a full detoxification has been completed. Attempting to take this type of medication before fully detoxing is dangerous.

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is vivitrol safe

Is Vivitrol® an Effective Treatment for Addiction?

While no treatment yet has a perfect success rate, Vivitrol® can be immensely helpful for some people. The accountability and single dose both help to make the treatment process as successful as possible.

What About Potential Side Effects of Vivitrol®?

As with any medication, there are potential side effects to using Vivitrol®. This is especially true for people who have been regularly using opioids prior to beginning treatment.

Some people experience symptoms like nausea, tiredness, anxiety, restlessness, joint pain and abdominal cramping, which are all mild signs of withdrawal. This is only cause for concern if the symptoms persist over an extended period of time.

Other, more serious side effects of Vivitrol like mood changes, vomiting, confusion or hallucinations can occur, but they are rare. Typically, if a doctor has prescribed Vivitrol® for treatment, it is because he or she believes that the benefits outweigh any potential risks. Few people experience any serious problems while taking Vivitrol®.

Are There Any Other Concerns?

– Is Vivitrol® Safe?

One of the most common questions people ask is, “Is Vivitrol® safe?” The answer to this question is yes, as long as the person follows the full treatment plan and is medically supervised.

Because naltrexone blocks a person’s ability to feel an opioid high, some people will try to overcome this by taking large quantities of drugs, which is extremely dangerous. This is a concern for some, but doctors and recovery centers have become more diligent about educating patients about this.

– Does Vivitrol® Really Help Achieve Abstinence?

While every person is different, overall the studies have shown that the injections are effective for helping patients stay sober. One study found that 36 percent of patients who were receiving Vivitrol® injections stayed completely sober compared to only 23 percent who received no medication.

In addition, Vivitrol® users reported up to 99 percent opioid-free days during a 25-week evaluation. Non-users only reported 60 percent opioid-free days.

Contact Us For Addiction Help

If you or a loved one are struggling with an opioid addiction, know you’re not alone. There are so many options available to you, and we want to help. Addiction is a disease that can be treated, but you can’t do it by yourself.

Don’t become one of the CDC’s tragic statistics. Contact Desert Cove Recovery today, and let us know that you want to get started on your journey to recovery so that we can help you with your next steps.

alcohol consumption in young men

Alcohol Consumption in Young Men Heightens Risk of Liver Disease

The results of a published study confirm that when young men drink alcohol, they are putting themselves at a higher level of risk for severe liver disease over time. This risk factor depends on the number of servings the young men consume and affects them for up to 39 years, researchers have found.

Hannes Hagström, MD, PhD, from Stockholm’s Karolinska Institutet, explained that the precise amount necessary to damage the liver is not clear. Several factors determine alcohol’s influence on an individual’s liver, such as:

• Genetics
• Drinking patterns
• Type of alcohol ingested
• Diet

Multiple Risk Factors for Alcoholism

Dr. Hagström went on to say that the new study suggests that the risks associated with alcohol consumption are already present early in life. It’s likely that the risk increases the longer a man is exposed to alcohol, and that someone with a history of long-term alcohol use is at higher risk for developing severe liver disease.

The researchers looked at data from a 1969-1970 Swedish national population study. All the 49,321 participants (men aged 18-20 years) had been enlisted for conscription, and 43,296 were available to answer follow-up questions in 2009.

The participants filled out questionnaires about their alcohol consumption. The results were as follows:

• 43.2 percent reported 1-5 grams per day
• 4.6 percent reported more than 60 grams per day
• 6.1 percent abstained from consuming alcohol

In the US, a standard alcoholic beverage (5 ounces of wine, 12 ounces of beer, 1.5 ounces of liquor) contains 14 grams of alcohol.

Study Participants Followed for Years

During a follow-up conducted over the next 39 years, 2,661 men received a formal alcohol abuse diagnosis. Of these men, 243 were later diagnosed with severe liver disease. The average time from the participants’ conscription to the first diagnosis of severe liver disease was 25.5 years.

Compared to men who didn’t drink alcohol, the risk for an alcohol abuse diagnosis increased moderately for men who reported 1-5 grams per day. It was highly elevated for men who reported a consumption rate of more than 60 grams per day.

The researchers admit that the study has limitations: drinking at a young age is only one part of a person’s lifetime pattern of alcohol use. It didn’t take the effect of binge drinking into account, for example.

This shows that even people who may not be considered addicts, alcoholics or even heavy users are still likely to cause considerable damage to themselves over time.

controversy around kratom for withdrawal

The Controversy Around Using Kratom for Withdrawal

The Controversy Around Using Kratom for Withdrawal

In the war on drugs, there’s a war on a plant-based herbal supplement called kratom.

Advocates swear by it as a pain reliever, a mild stimulant or an aid in beating opioid addiction. Many proponents say that they’ve used kratom for withdrawal with great success.

Detractors point to its mind-altering and addictive properties. Federal authorities have attempted to classify kratom, which is legal and widely available, as a Schedule I drug in the same class as heroin and LSD. Schedule I drugs are considered dangerous for their high potential for abuse and lack of known medical benefits.

Everyone agrees that solid scientific evidence about kratom is sorely lacking.

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kratom for withdrawal

What Is Kratom?

Kratom is derived from an evergreen plant in the coffee family. It is native to South Asia, but Malaysia and Thailand are now two of the 16 countries that tightly control the use of kratom or ban it altogether.

In the U.S., kratom leaves are typically ground into powder and brewed as tea. In doses of a few grams, kratom acts as a mild stimulant for alertness and sociability. At doses of 10 to 25 grams, it acts as a sedative. The user may feel calm and euphoric.

Kratom is mostly used to manage chronic pain, aid digestion or lift mood, but its popularity as a drug for weaning addicts from opioids has generated a storm of controversy.

What’s All the Fuss About?

Kratom isn’t an opioid, but it contains almost as many alkaloids as opium or hallucinogenic mushrooms. The U.S. government gets alarmed, understandably, when kratom powder is touted as a safe, legal, cheap high. Herbal supplements aren’t regulated, so there’s no way of knowing what’s actually in them.

According to a study conducted at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, kratom-related calls to regional U.S. poison control centers increased tenfold between 2010 and 2016. The CDC warns of an emerging health threat, especially when kratom is combined with alcohol or other drugs.

In a recent statement, Scott Gottlieb of the Food and Drug Administration implied that kratom was no safer than the 340 million packages of illegal opioids that stream into the U.S. every year. Gottlieb also cited 36 deaths linked to kratom.

One of raw kratom’s chief alkaloids is mitragynine, which is thought to activate natural opioid receptors without depressing the respiratory system. That’s why so many proponents of kratom are excited about its potential as a safer pain medication. Between 1999 and 2016, more than 200,000 Americans died from prescription opioid overdose.

A woman named Susan Ash recovered from Lyme disease only to wind up addicted to pain pills. After detox and addiction treatment, she stumbled across kratom and has used it every day since. Indeed, she attributes her recovery to it. Ash and thousands of other users regularly lobby against state bills that would ban the sale of kratom. Six states have made kratom illegal.

Others aren’t so sure about kratom for withdrawal and insist that Ash and other recovering addicts are anything but clean.

Dariya Pankova was battling a heroin addiction when she tried kratom. She became hooked on it and eventually returned to the more potent heroin. A South Florida man who was trying to quit several substances had a similar experience. He developed tolerance to kratom and returned to rehab many times before he beat his addiction to it.

Respondents to a recent survey of 6,150 regular users told a different story:

  • More than 98 percent denied that kratom is dangerous.
  • Around 75 percent said that it’s impossible to get high on kratom.
  • Almost 67 percent considered themselves more likely to get hooked or overdose on other substances if kratom is banned.
  • Almost a fourth said they would break the law to use kratom after a ban.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, kratom’s negative effects may include the following:

  • Sensitivity to sunburn
  • Nausea
  • Itching
  • Sweating
  • Dry mouth
  • Constipation
  • Increased urination
  • Loss of appetite
  • Psychotic symptoms

Researchers at NIDA believe that kratom is habit-forming. Reported side effects during withdrawal include the following:

  • Muscle aches
  • Insomnia
  • Irritability
  • Hostility
  • Aggression
  • Mood swings
  • Runny nose
  • Jerky movements

It’s important to note that behavioral therapies have not been tested for treatment of kratom addiction alone.

Is Kratom Right for You?

It’s hard to make a good decision about kratom until far more research is done. Many recovering addicts see it as a godsend during opioid withdrawal, but many others flatly insist that using kratom is the equivalent of relapsing.

One thing’s for sure: Where opioid addiction is concerned, kratom is no substitute for the professional help of experienced caregivers.

Call Desert Cove Recovery today. We’re committed to helping you heal and reclaim your life.

Opioids for ER Patients

Over-the-Counter Pain Relievers as Effective as Opioids for ER Patients

For a number of patients, their first introduction to opioid pain medications occurs when they seek treatment in an Emergency Room (ER). Since doctors have more than one option for treating pain, what would happen if they offered over-the-counter pain medications instead of these strong, potentially addictive drugs instead?

A new study looked at what would happen if doctors took this approach to patients who visited the ER for treatment of sprains and broken bones. The results found that pain relievers sold under brand names as Tylenol and Motrin were as effective as opioids for treating severe pain.

Treating Acute Pain Without Opioids

The study involved 411 adult patients who sought treatment in two Emergency Rooms in New York City. All of them received ibuprofen (the main ingredient in Motrin) and acetaminophen (the main ingredient in Tylenol) or one of three opioid drugs: codeine, oxycodone or hydrocodone. All patients received standard doses, and none were told which medication was being administered.

The patients rated their pain levels on a score of 1-10 before being given their pain medication and again two hours later. The researchers found that for an average patient, the pain levels dropped from a 9/10 to approximately 5/10. There was little difference reported between the two groups.

Dr. Andrew Chang, Professor of Emergency Room Medicine at Albany Medical College in New York State, explained that ibuprofen and acetaminophen affect different pain receptors in the body. He went on to say that using them together may be especially effective.

These results dispute the standard ER practice used for treating acute pain. It could lead to changes that could help prevent new patients from being given opioids, which have such a high potential for abuse.

Although the study didn’t continue to follow the patients after they left the hospital, it is likely that the pain relief continued while taking the OTC remedies.

Study Has Potential to Help Opioid Crisis

Over two million people in the US are addicted to prescription painkillers or heroin. According to experts, changes in how ER doctors prescribe drugs could potentially put a dent in the current opioid crisis and help save lives.

Long-term opioid use often starts after patients are introduced to the drugs in an acute pain treatment situation. Emergency Rooms have given them to patients more often in recent years, although more states have limited the number of pills that can be given out. According to previous studies, approximately one-third of ER patients received an opioid painkiller during their visit. Approximately 20 percent of ER patients leave the hospital with a prescription for an opioid pain medication.