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heroin rehab arizona, naltrexone implant for opiate addiction

People are Getting Naltrexone Implants for Opiate Addiction & Why Heroin Rehab Arizona is a Better Choice

People are Getting Naltrexone Implants for Opiate Addiction & Why Heroin Rehab Arizona is a Better Choice

Millions of people struggle with addiction and are desperate to get to the light at the end of the tunnel and a return to a life of normalcy. However, the path is usually not an easy one, and it is a journey that can be taken in one of many different ways. Some turn to heroin rehab Arizona for help to overcome their addiction, while other people take problems into their own hands by getting a naltrexone implant for opiate addiction.

What Are Naltrexone Implants and Why Are People Turning to Them to Treat Opiate Addiction?

Naltrexone is an opioid antagonist. Its prime benefit is that it blocks the effects on the brain of opioids such as prescription painkillers, heroin and other narcotic drugs.

Effects of opioids usually include a temporary escape from pain, stress and fear, which is why they can be so addictive. However, that escape never lasts as tolerance starts getting built after many uses. Eventually, the effects of the substance continue to decrease, getting to the point that taking it ends up being necessary just to feel normal. Now the person’s body relies on the drug to survive, instead of using it as a means of escape, resulting in a heavy drug addiction.

Many of those who are addicted to opioids are turning to naltrexone implants to help them overcome their addictions for a number of reasons. The primary benefit of naltrexone is that it blocks many of the opioid’s effects at the brain cell receptor levels, which results in the desired benefits being significantly reduced. Due to this effect, the opioid cravings are lessened, a definite help in overcoming an addiction.

Specifically, a naltrexone implant for opiate addiction consists of small medication pellets that go under the skin. They gradually release the naltrexone over a period of several months.

Implants, in particular, are preferred by many because they remove the risk of forgetting to take a pill, or even purposefully not taking a pill. Naltrexone can be a good option for those who have a history of relapsing as it decreases the desire for alcohol or opiates.

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Do Naltrexone Implants Work?

A naltrexone implant for opiate addiction does appear to help reduce opioid use. According to a 2009 study, patients participating in a study experienced 45 fewer days of heroin use and 60 fewer days of opioid use than those in the control group. Additionally, a 2014 systematic review of nine studies found that naltrexone implants were much more effective than the absence of them although it should be noted that “the quality of the evidence ranged from moderate to very low.”

Importance of Heroin Rehab Arizona

Although naltrexone implants are proven to help with addiction, there are several other ways to take control of your recovery. One thing that naltrexone does not help with are withdrawal symptoms. These can be significant and can include abdominal pain, agitation, anxiety, diarrhea, muscle cramps, nausea, sleep disturbances, sweating and vomiting. Heroin Rehab Arizona will help ensure that the withdrawal experience is handled as carefully as possible so that this part of the recovery process is overcome and is not as overwhelming to the patient as it might otherwise be.

Another reason why it’s important for those addicted to heroin to engage with a heroin rehab program is because the rehab process will address the underlying issues that led to addiction in the first place. Allowing this process to happen will ensure that the chances of recovery are permanent. Of course, relapses are always possible, but it’s important to keep the odds of those occurring as low as possible, and heroin rehab is the best way to make sure that this ends up being the case.

Naltrexone Doesn’t Cure Addiction

It should also be noted that naltrexone doesn’t cure any sort of addiction. It helps, of course, but it is not a be-all and end-all cure that many might be hoping for. The person addicted to opiates also needs to be motivated to recover. Simply taking naltrexone will not be enough if the desire and motivation is not there to overcome the drug use and to make that permanent.

Obviously, the same can be said of those in a rehab center, but, in that case, the support will be there to help the patient see that it is in his or her best interests to overcome this addiction. Of course, all that matters in the end is that the patient is motivated, and no support system, regardless of how strong, can ensure that will occur, but a rehab center will increase the odds of that happening.

If you or a loved one is suffering from an addiction to heroin or other opioids, contact Desert Cove Recovery, Heroin Rehab Arizona for assistance. Our experienced staff will assist you as you begin your journey to recovery.

hepatitis c and opioid, addiction treatment az

The Link Between Hepatitis C and Opioid Addiction

The Link Between Hepatitis C and Opioid Addiction

The opioid epidemic is characterized by an increase in the number of people who misuse narcotics, including prescription painkillers and heroin. The National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that more than 115 people experience a fatal overdose from these substances every day in the U.S. Many who survive are facing a new challenge: hepatitis C infection. According to a study published in the American Journal of Public Health, hepatitis C and opioid use are linked.

What is Hepatitis C?

Hepatitis C is a disease that damages the liver. It’s spread through the blood and can cause liver failure or cancer. Doctors believed they were on their way to eradicating the disease through the use of certain medications, however, the rise of the opioid epidemic changed those expectations. The number of people with hepatitis C tripled from 2010 to 2015, according to CNN. Currently, approximately 3.5 million Americans have hepatitis C.

The decade from 2004 to 2014 saw a 400 percent increase in acute hepatitis C as well as an 817 percent increase in admissions of people ages 18 through 29 who injected prescription opioids. Most people who had hepatitis C before the 1990s were part of the baby-boomer generation. People born between 1945 and 1965 were more likely to have contracted the disease from unsafe medical procedures or blood transfusions. The increase of hepatitis C in the younger generation points to a link between the disease and opioid injections.

Hepatitis C is Spreading Through Injected Drug Use

Twenty-eight percent of people who inject drugs are infected with hepatitis C every year. Reusing the equipment that’s used to administer opioids intravenously can quickly cause an outbreak.

Jon E. Zibbell PhD was in charge of the study that looked at the connection between hepatitis C and the opioid epidemic from 2004 to 2014. He found statistically significant increases in the rates of hepatitis C among opioid users who injected the drugs.

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hepatitis c and opioid, addiction treatment az

Many people start taking prescription painkillers orally. Over time, they transition to injecting heroin because it is cheaper and delivers a quicker high. New infections occur most often among these opioid users, many of whom are younger than 40.

In some states, the number of people infected with hepatitis C is double the natural average. Once many people within a community are infected, the disease spreads more rapidly because they share equipment.

Women in rural counties are three times more likely to have hepatitis C than women in urban counties, according to a CDC study. The study did not intend to compare opioid abuse rates with hepatitis C rates, however, Dr. Stephen W. Patrick, the study’s author, said that 5 times more infants were born with opioid withdrawal symptoms in rural areas than urban ones. One concern that experts have is that babies born with hepatitis C may not be treated because their mothers are unaware that they’re infected.

Catching Hepatitis C Before It’s Spread Further

Because many people don’t have symptoms or seek treatment, the actual number of people who inject drugs and have the disease is probably much higher than researchers have found.

It takes time for symptoms of hepatitis C to show up, therefore, many people don’t know that they’re infected until it’s too late. Plus, most people with drug abuse disorders don’t seek treatment for their addiction. Oftentimes, many people don’t know that they have hepatitis C until they receive a blood screening for a blood donation or routine exam.

By that time, liver damage may have set in. People who do have symptoms right away are more likely to get treatment that prevents the disease from progressing.

The FDA has approved several treatment regimens that can cure the disease. The problem is that many people who suffer from hepatitis C and opioid abuse disorder don’t get help. People who suffer from addiction may be compelled to take part in risky behaviors, such as sharing needles, even though they know about the dangers.

Jonathan Mermin of the CDC says that testing people who are at risk of developing the disease, which includes anyone who has injected opioids intravenously, can increase the effectiveness of treatment for those who test positive.

Free needle exchange programs have cut down on the number of people who use dirty needles. However, the stigma of drug addiction prevents many people from taking advantage of these programs or going further to attend rehab. Access to treatment is another obstacle that people with hepatitis C face.

Treating Hepatitis C in Addiction Treatment AZ Setting

Many rehab centers are staffed by medical professionals who can provide treatment for hepatitis C alongside therapy for addiction. At rehab, patients can be monitored to make sure that they administer their hepatitis C medication correctly, which is crucial for curing the disease. Because some hepatitis C treatments cause side effects such as depression, getting help at a comprehensive rehab center, such as our addiction treatment AZ, is important for managing psychological and emotional issues as well as physical ailments.

If you have hepatitis C and suffer from opioid addiction, call our addiction treatment AZ to learn how we can help you manage your substance abuse disorder as well as other physical and medical conditions. Treating the mind, body and spirit can help you succeed on your path to recovery.

Arizona Rehabs Discuss the History of Opioid Addiction

Arizona Rehabs Discuss the History of Opioid Addiction

There’s no doubt that our country is in the throws of a crisis. How did opioid addiction begin? Let’s take a look at the history of opioid addiction and how Arizona rehabs are trying to help.

There is reliable evidence of opium use as far back as 3,400 B.C. The opium poppy was called “joy plant,” and it spread from Mesopotamia to Assyria, Egypt and the Mediterranean. In 460 B.C., Hippocrates acknowledged its usefulness. Alexander the Great introduced it to Persia and India, and Arab traders took it to China. The Opium Wars were fought in China from 1839 to 1860.

Opium’s power to alleviate pain has resulted in thousands of years of abuse. In modern history, famous opiate users who battled addiction include Charles Dickens, Edgar Allan Poe, Florence Nightingale, Billie Holiday, Janis Joplin, Elvis Presley and River Phoenix.

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History of Opioid Addiction arizona rehabs

The History of Opioid Addiction in the U.S.

Opiates are an unfortunate part of American history. With the advent of synthetic opioids, the problem only got worse:

  • The armies on both sides of the American Revolutionary War gave wounded soldiers opium. In his final years, Benjamin Franklin took it for a painful bladder stone that had tormented him for years.
  • Morphine was first isolated in 1803, and Merck & Co. took over commercial production in 1827.
  • Morphine and other opiates were widely used by the time of the Civil War. An alarming number of veterans were hopelessly hooked following the conflict.
  • Heroin was first made from morphine in 1874. As a cough suppressant, it was hailed as a wonder drug. Bayer Corp. launched it commercially in 1898. Heroin increased in popularity when users discovered that injecting the drug enhanced its effects.
  • Doctors were alarmed by climbing rates of drug addiction in the early 1920s. Heroin was made illegal in 1924.
  • World War II gave rise to nerve block clinics; anesthesiologists administered injections to treat pain without surgery. The clinics operated during the ‘50s and ‘60s.
  • President Gerald Ford set up a task force to study drug addiction in the 1970s. The focus shifted from marijuana and cocaine trafficking to the heroin epidemic.
  • Painkillers like Percocet and Vicodin were already becoming a problem by the late ‘70s. Many doctors were reluctant to prescribe them.

Dr. Hershel Jick of Boston University School of Medicine disagreed there was a problem. After analyzing almost 12,000 patients who’d been treated with narcotics, Jick concluded that addiction to opioids was rare in patients with no history of substance abuse. A pain-management specialist, Dr. Russell Portenoy, studied 38 patients six years later and also declared that opioid maintenance therapy was safe.

The two studies sparked a discussion that lasted into the early 1990s. Pain management became a priority for patients.

  • Every year in the early 1990s, the number of prescriptions for painkillers increased by 2 to 3 million. Then, from 1995 to 1996, the one-year increase was 8 million.
  • Purdue Pharma launched OxyContin in 1996. One year later, prescriptions of all opioid painkillers on the market increased by 11 million.
  • The Joint Commission is a nonprofit group that accredits medical facilities. In 2000, as part of doctors’ required continuing education, the commission published a book that cited studies in which there was “no evidence that addiction is a significant issue when persons are given opioids for pain control.” It expressed the opinion that doctors’ concerns about addiction were “inaccurate and exaggerated.”

The book was sponsored by Purdue Pharma.

Dr. David W. Baker with the Joint Commission later remarked, “There is no doubt that the widely held belief that short-term use of opioids had low risk of addiction was an important contributor to inappropriate prescribing patterns for opioids and the subsequent opioid epidemic.”

  • Purdue Pharma was charged in 2007 with misbranding and downplaying OxyContin’s high potential for addiction. Three executives pleaded guilty, and Purdue settled with the government for $635 million.
  • In 2010, the manufacturers of OxyContin released a new formula that contained an abuse deterrent. It was supposed to be more difficult to crush, inject or snort the product. According to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, 24 percent of abusers reported being able to get around the tamper-resistant measures.  One participant in the study said that most former OxyContin users had switched to heroin. It was cheaper and easier to get.
  • Portenoy, one of the doctors who insisted in the 1980s that opioid therapy was safe, later said, “Clearly if I had an inkling of what I know now then, I wouldn’t have spoken in the way that I spoke. It was clearly the wrong thing to do.”
  • In 2016, the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention began taking steps to address the opioid crisis.

As of 2018, several states, including Florida, Nevada, North Carolina, North Dakota, Tennessee and Texas, have sued pharmaceutical companies for their role in the epidemic. Cities that have sued include Chicago, Cincinnati, Dallas, Indianapolis and Seattle.

How Arizona Rehabs Can Help

The history of opioid addiction is a grim one. Substance abuse is a serious brain disease that affects people with all different backgrounds.

Getting clean for good requires professional help. Like many other Arizona rehabs, we at Discovery Cove Recovery are committed to helping people like you reclaim their lives. Call today to speak to an experienced, caring staff member.

End the Opioid Crisis, Opioid Addiction Treatment Arizona

How to End the Opioid Crisis, Opioid Addiction Treatment Arizona

How to End the Opioid Crisis – Opioid Addiction Treatment Arizona

According to the CDC, more than 33,000 people died from opioid overdoses in the United States in 2015. Every year, the steadily worsening opioid epidemic poses an economic burden of more than $78.5 billion, which includes costs that are associated with criminal justice activity, health care, addiction treatment and lost productivity. Oftentimes it feels like little or nothing is being done about it. However, many people have ideas about how to end the opioid crisis. The question is which of these proposed solutions will actually put a dent in the problem. Desert Cove Recovery, opioid addiction treatment in Arizona, takes a look at how to end the opioid crisis.

How Did We Get To the Opioid Crisis?

Starting around the late 1990s, pharmaceutical companies looking to peddle opioid painkillers assured the medical community that they wouldn’t lead to widespread addiction. We now know how wrong they were, of course; in no time, as opioids flooded the market, they became increasingly diverted away from people who were legally prescribed them, and misuse became rampant and widespread. When efforts were made to curb their availability, many people simply switched over to illegal drugs like heroin. In 2018, an average of 115 people die from an opioid overdose in this country every day. Read on to learn about some of the ideas for putting an end to the opioid crisis.
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Education about Addiction

Turning a blind eye to a problem is a surefire way to cause it spiral even more out of control, so education could very well be the key to curbing the opioid crisis. The primary goal of education would be to limit the spread of the epidemic by raising awareness about the risks of using opioids. This education should extend beyond the general public to be directed at physicians as well. Many doctors, for example, could benefit enormously from learning more about safely prescribing such medications.

Prescription Opioid Medication

People who aren’t informed about the issue often scoff at the notion of prescribing yet more medication to someone who is coping with an opioid addiction. However, medication-assisted treatment has been shown to be very effective for helping addicts to achieve long-term sobriety from these highly addictive substances. Sometimes referred to as replacement or maintenance therapy treatment, the use of medications like methadone and buprenorophine has been shown to reduce the risk of relapse, which tends to be quite common among those who quit “cold turkey.”

Early Intervention for Opioid Addiction

Another potential key to ending this ongoing crisis is to find help for people as early in the addiction cycle as possible. The sooner people seek treatment, the easier and more effective their results tend to be. A huge part of this will depend on education and raising awareness. If society at large starts being more open about the signs of opioid addiction, for example, it would be easier for people to recognize it in themselves—and they would be more likely to seek treatment sooner. It should also be noted that increasing the availability of medications like naloxone, which reverse overdoses, would also help enormously. Naloxone helps not only by saving lives but by potentially assisting those who have overdosed to seek treatment.

Accessible Opioid Addiction Treatment Arizona Options

Even when a person realizes that they have an opioid addiction, it isn’t always very easy or obvious to know where to turn for help. Increasing the availability of accessible, holistic, evidence-based treatment would streamline the process of reaching out for help when needed. This also means cracking down on treatment facilities that do little or nothing to truly help people overcome addictions. For example, more facilities could be required to employ doctors who are certified by the American Society of Addiction Medicine. Someone shouldn’t have such difficulty locating opioid addiction treatment Arizona or anywhere else.

End the Stigma of Opioid Addiction

Finally, perhaps the best way to turn the tide of the devastating opioid crisis would be to end the stigma that continues to shroud addiction. Although major strides have been made in that regard over the last few decades, there is still a lot of stigma attached to being open about having an addiction. This unfortunately makes it more difficult for people to seek treatment—or even to admit that they have a problem in the first place. Once again, education will play a major role in ending this stigma, so adding information about addiction to school curricula, for example, could be a step in the right direction.

In trying to put an end to the opioid crisis, it’s crucial not to overlook the most important thing of all: the addicts themselves. At the end of the day, the primary goal of this battle will continue to be getting help for those who need it. If you believe that you are addicted to opioids, it’s important to understand that help is available. Our opioid addiction treatment Arizona facility is here to help you take the first step, so give us a call today.

clinical opiate withdrawal scale

What is the Clinical Opiate Withdrawal Scale?

What is the Clinical Opiate Withdrawal Scale?

Everyone’s experience of addiction is different. Likewise, everyone’s path toward recovery is unique. When it comes to overcoming an addiction to opiates, seeking outside help is a must. For that help to be effective, a treatment plan that is tailored to suit the needs of the individual patient is essential. Rehab facilities have many tools at their disposal, and one of the best ones for assessing a patient’s opiate withdrawal symptoms and experiences is something called the Clinical Opiate Withdrawal Scale. Read on to learn more about this useful tool and how it is used to help people overcome serious addictions.

The Basics

Often abbreviated simply as COWS, the Clinical Opiate Withdrawal Scale is an 11-point scale that is used to rate common symptoms and signs of opiate withdrawal. Unlike the Subjective Opiate Withdrawal Scale, or SOWS, which is a self-reporting tool, it is designed to be administered by a clinician. Each of the 11 listed symptoms are given a score on a scale of 0 to 5, with 5 representing the most severe manifestation of the symptom in question. The patient’s score is then tallied and used to determine a tailored opioid withdrawal treatment plan.

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Clinical Opiate Withdrawal Scale

Which Signs and Symptoms are Assessed on the Scale?

Inpatient and outpatient treatment centers alike have numerous tools at their disposal for helping patients to withdraw safely from opiates. In particular, medications like buprenorphine and suboxone are often prescribed to help manage the most severe and uncomfortable symptoms. In turn, patients are less likely to relapse due to severe discomfort. However, to be effective, these medications must be administered at strategic points in the withdrawal process. The COWS scale is the primary tool that clinicians use to determine not only which medications should be used but when they should be administered.

The 11 signs and symptoms that are assessed on the COWS scale are:

1. Resting pulse rate – The patient’s pulse is monitored regularly. A resting pulse of 80 or below is given a score of zero while a resting pulse of 120 or higher is given a score of five.

2. Gastrointestinal upset – Symptoms may range from none to multiple episodes of vomiting and diarrhea.

3. Sweating – This symptom may not be present at all. On the other end, sweat may be streaming from the face or body.

4. Tremors – Tremors may not be present, or they may be severe enough to interfere with a patient’s ability to speak or move.

5. Restlessness – On the COWS scale, this symptom may not be present at all. In the worst case, the patient may be unable to sit still for more than a few seconds at a time.

6. Yawning – No yawning may be happening at all, or it may be happening as frequently as several times per minute.

7. Pupil size – Pupils may be pin-sized when exposed to light, or they may be extremely dilated on the more severe end of the scale.

8. Irritability and anxiety – Someone experiencing opioid withdrawals may show no sign of anxiety or irritability at all, or they may be so anxious or irritable that they struggle to participate in the assessment.

9. Bone and joint aches – This symptom can range from very mild to so severe that the patient is constantly rubbing their joints and unable to sit still.

10. Gooseflesh skin – Skin may be smooth on one end of the scale or look like gooseflesh on the other.

11. Teary eyes and runny nose – These symptoms may be missing entirely, or the eyes and nose may run constantly on the more severe end of the scale.

Benefits of the COWS Scale

After assessing the patient for each of the 11 symptoms, their score is tallied to determine how severe their withdrawal is. A score of 5 to 12 represents mild withdrawal while a score of 36 or higher represents severe withdrawal. Clinicians may use other scales in conjunction with COWS to gain an even clearer understanding of a patient’s current state; the Buprenorphine Administration Scale, for example, is often used in conjunction with COWS to determine effective doses of that medication as well as when to administer it. With many medications, introducing them too early can have the opposite effect, which can lead to a longer and more difficult withdrawal period.

Are You Looking for Opiate Addiction Treatment?

If you are coping with an addiction to opiates and are ready to regain your freedom from substance abuse, it’s important to understand that help is absolutely vital—and it is readily available. Detoxing from the drug is the first step, and the right inpatient or outpatient treatment program will use the COWS scale or other proven tools to determine the best individualized plan for you. Once detoxing is over, you will be free to begin the real work of addiction recovery and to take the first steps toward a lifetime of sober living.

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.

Pain Relief Without Fear of Addiction

Compound May Offer Pain Relief Without Fear of Addiction

New research from Indiana University-Bloomington may give doctors and their patients living with pain a non-opioid option for treating severe pain.

Researchers conducted a pre-clinical study involving mice. They discovered that compounds known as PAMs (Positive Allosteric Modulators) heighten the effect of natural pain relievers the body produces internally when injured or exposed to stress. PAMs were first discussed with attendees at the 2016 Conference for the Society for Neuroscience, held in San Diego, California.

About PAM

The researchers chose a PAM that would intensify endocannabinoids. These two brain compounds (anandamide and 2-arachidonoylglycerol) specifically act on the CB1 receptor that responds to the presence of THC, the main psychoactive ingredient in marijuana. The PAM used in the study was GAT211, a molecule that coauthor Ganesh Thakur at Northeastern University created that had effects that concentrated on the brain.

The PAM increased the effects of the endocannabinoids without creating the undesired side effects associated with marijuana use. These include lowering of body temperature and clumsiness.

The pain relief achieved from PAM was more effective and lasted longer than when drugs were used that work by breaking down then metabolizing the brain’s cannabis-type compounds. Using PAM on its own means natural painkillers target the correct part of the brain as needed. The alternative is take drugs that bind to receptor sites throughout the body.

Increases the Body’s Natural Ability to Relieve Pain

Study leader Andrea G. Hohmann, a professor and chair of neuroscience at the University’s Department of Psychology and Brain Sciences, stated that the study revealed a PAM increases the body’s pain relieving ability without decreasing effectiveness over time. This is a key component of addiction; a person finds that they need to consume more of their drug of choice to experience the desired effect.

Professor Hohmann went on to say that she sees the research her team is doing as “an important step forward” in the goal to find new, non-addictive pain relievers.

The results of the study were published in the journal Biological Psychiatry.

Non-Addictive Painkillers Help Save Lives from Opioid Overdose

Continuing to find ways of providing pain relief for patients that don’t involve drugs with a high potential for abuse is of utmost importance in the battle against opioid addiction. Tens of thousands of lives are now lost each year due to overdoses and millions of people are abusing these drugs.

If you have a loved one who needs treatment help for a substance abuse problem, contact Desert Cove today for more information about our program.

high sugar diet and opioid addiction

Research Indicates Link Between High Sugar Diet and Opioid Addiction

New research from the laboratory of behavioral neuroscience at the University of Guelph has suggested a possible link between diet and risk of opioid addiction. Specifically, children and adults may be more vulnerable to opioid addiction when high amounts of refined sugars are consumed.

There has been a lot of press recently about the current opioid crisis — and for good reason. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that provisional counts for the number of deaths has increased by 21 percent in the period 2015-2016. Drug overdoses are now claiming lives at double the rate of motor vehicle accidents and firearms combined.

Sugar Activates Reward Centers in Brain

Research studies have revealed that refined sugar activates the reward centers in the brain in the same manner as addictive drugs. Opioid abuse has also been linked to poor diet, including a preference for foods that are high in sugar. Based on this link, researchers had questions about whether there was a connection between a diet with an excessive amount of refined sugar and an increased susceptibility to opioid addiction.

How Research Was Conducted

The research team looked at whether an unlimited level of access to high fructose corn syrup changed laboratory rats’ behavior and responses to oxycodone, a semi-synthetic opioid. High fructose corn syrup, a commonly used food additive in North American processed foods and soft drinks, was selected for this study.

In one study conducted by doctoral student Meenu Minhas, the rats were given unrestricted access to drinking water sweetened with high fructose corn syrup. The sweetened water was removed after about a month. After a few days where the rats didn’t have access to any sweetened water, researchers evaluated the rats’ response to oxycodone.

The researchers found that when the rats consumed high levels of corn syrup, they may experience less rewards from the oxycodone. As a result, the rats may be looking to take higher amounts of the drug.

High Sugar Diet May Contribute to Opioid Addiction

The results indicate that a diet high in sugar may dampen the pleasure that someone may get from taking drugs such as Percocet, Percodan, and OxyContin at lower doses. Since these sedative drugs normally make a user feel more relaxed shortly after being ingested, someone who isn’t getting these results is likely to take a larger dose to get the desired results.

Higher doses of sedatives and painkillers can be dangerous. At high levels, they can interfere with central nervous functioning and slow down breathing, leading to coma or respiratory arrest. When combined with alcohol, their effects multiply since alcohol is also a depressant drug.

This research is another good reason to eat a balanced diet, including lean meats, fruits and vegetables, whole grains and low-fat dairy products. There is a place for sweets, but in moderation.

Heroin Affecting Newborns in Record Numbers

One of the most dangerous things about heroin is that it can impede a mother’s instinct to protect her child. This is most evident in the number of children being born addicted to heroin. This addiction occurs when mothers continue to use the drug while pregnant, causing their babies to be born dependent on the opiate, and needing to go through excruciating withdrawal symptoms in their first days of life. The number of infants born addicted to opiates continues to rise, as the heroin epidemic rages on in rural and urban communities.

While this problem is occurring throughout the country, it appears that rural areas are seeing a higher percentage of these tragedies than in cities. This may be because there is less access to quality treatment in rural areas, or drug education is not as evolved as it is in the cities. According to a University of Michigan study, heroin addicted babies increased four times in cities, while rural areas reported an increase of seven times. The results were published in the journal JAMA Pediatrics.

One reason why it is so difficult for expectant mothers to cease heroin use when they find out they are pregnant is because of the painful withdrawal symptoms they have to go through. Heroin addicts who stop using the drug experience insomnia, body aches, vomiting, paranoia, anxiety, depression, flu-like symptoms and intense cravings. These symptoms are so extreme that many in the medical profession strongly advocate for medical assistance when it comes to withdrawing from heroin. And while these are extreme symptoms for an adult, they are even more intense for an infant. Medical staff has to monitor the child constantly and watch as the baby goes through a withdrawal that most adults avoid at all costs.

“In the worst-case scenario, some of these babies die, and there’s a higher rate of mortality in this population. Later in life, there may possibly be issues with attention, but more research is really needed to understand the long-term effects,” explained Dr. Nicole Villapiano of University of Michigan Mott Children’s Hospital. Most babies who are born addicted to heroin exhibit increased irritability, tremors, inability or lack of desire to consume food, seizures and respiratory distress.

However, there are very few treatments approved for opiate-addicted mothers because of the potential damage caused to the unborn child during withdrawal. Unfortunately, the most common treatment includes putting the mothers on buprenorphine or methadone – both of which are synthetic opioids and can still cause the baby to have to go through agony after birth.

Researchers hope that this study will not only educate people on the dangers of using heroin while pregnant, but will also shed a light on the necessity of increasing education and prevention efforts in rural areas of the country. It also expresses a need for better treatment methods for mothers so that their newborns do not have to go through withdrawal.