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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.

 

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.

New Study Shows Power of Prescription Length

quantity of pillsEmergency rooms throughout the country have recently started cutting back on the number of days’ worth of painkillers are prescribed to patients. Instead of the previously standard seven days, most hospitals have now instituted a policy that only allows up to three days of pills.

Policymakers wanted to ensure that patients were following up with their regular doctors, and most hospitals did not want the ER to be a destination for drug seekers or the start of a dependency issue. Now a recent study has provided further support to the argument of prescription opioid reduction, as it confirms that the longer a painkiller is prescribed, the more likely it is for the patient to become addicted.

“The initial prescription a clinician writes has a pretty profound impact on a person’s (likelihood) for being a long-term opioid user,” commented Bradley Martin, coauthor of the study. This means that patients who are given prescriptions for more than a month at a time have a 30% increase in their chances of becoming addicted. Although very few patients are actually given such a large number of painkillers at once, the study shows that patients who are only given enough painkiller for one day still have up to a 6% chance of continuing use throughout the year.

This detailed research illustrates just how addictive painkillers can be for people who are simply seeking relief from their discomfort. As a nation, we have been forced to look at prescribing practices and how they can be better tuned in multiple settings to help reduce the availability of addictive substances as well as protect patients from becoming dependent.

On the front end, new policies can act as both an intervention as well as a preventive measure, but there are still millions of people who have already become addicted and need help. If you have a loved one in need of treatment, contact us today to learn more about how we can help.

Emergency Room Doctors Can Help Reduce Prescription Drug Problem

aceperER doctors are well aware that many people addicted to prescription drugs utilize the emergency department as a way to obtain narcotic painkillers. They often go into the hospital complaining of various aches and pains hoping that a doctor will write a prescription for drugs like oxycodone or hydrocodone. Generally, ER doctors see so many patients that drug seekers feel more comfortable trying to get prescriptions there, as they might slip through the cracks.

A study conducted by researchers and published in the Annals of Emergency Medicine, concluded that doctors are not only aware that they work in a drug-seeking environment, but that they are more cautious when prescribing medicine that has a high rate of addiction. In the past, patients in the emergency room could expect to receive prescriptions for narcotic painkillers that would last thirty days. However, now that the prescription drug abuse problem is so problematic, most ER doctors have reduced the number of days they prescribe these drugs for.

“Our data show that opioid [narcotic painkiller] prescribing in the Emergency Department is done with caution and aligned with short-term use goals,” explained Dr. Scott Weiner, the author of the study.

In general, most prescriptions that are written in the ER are only for three to five days. This allows that patient to get the care they need, but it requires them to follow up with their General Practitioner in order to receive any more medication. It has been found that those with legitimate physical and health issues reliably follow up with their doctor, while those that were drug-seeking do not bother.

The study also charted the most common reasons why prescription painkillers were prescribed in emergency rooms. The leading situations included stomach pain, back pain, severe fractures, sprains and tooth pains.

The fact that these doctors are more cautious when it comes to prescribing narcotic painkillers indicates that the healthcare field is more aware of the role they play in the prescription drug problem in the United States.

Methamphetamine Rising Again in Many Areas

methnamesDespite the lack of media attention methamphetamine has gotten over the last several years, it is still a widely abused drug. In fact, methamphetamine users are showing up in larger numbers again – even rivaling opiates in some areas.

The drug, known for its powerful effect on the body, is a highly addictive stimulant. Users often fall into an intense addiction very quickly upon trying the drug. This is likely a reason why the abuse rate is so high with methamphetamine. Oftentimes users will seek out the drug and feel compelled to keep taking more.

Methamphetamine experienced a surge in popularity when users realized they could manufacture the drug from their homes. Using ingredients that were common among households and easy to obtain at drug stores and home improvement stores, addicts soon were able to produce their own supply. Then, about ten years ago, states started to regulate the methamphetamine ingredients more, and the number of at-home meth lab busts dropped significantly.

Unfortunately, there was still a large demand for methamphetamine. Drug cartels in Mexico realized that they could manufacture the drug and smuggle it into the United States. A recent study in the Twin Cities in Minnesota noted the increase of meth users there.

“Since 2009 it’s been creeping up again and now the supply is from Mexico,” explained Carol Falkowski, the lead author of the study. In addition to fueling the methamphetamine habit, cartels have also made the drug stronger. The methamphetamine brought in from Mexico is 80% pure and creating even more addicts.

In addition to the rise in treatment admissions again, emergency rooms have also seen an increase in people checking in for complications resulting from methamphetamine use. If you know of someone in need of help for a methamphetamine problem, contact us to learn more about effective treatment options.

Emergency Calls for Synthetic Marijuana Use Increasing Again

synthspiceSynthetic marijuana, which is often called Spice, has been the cause of thousands of people being sent to the ER in a recent spike. The drug is designed to mimic the effects of marijuana and can be purchased in many convenience stores or gas stations throughout the country. While it is billed as synthetic marijuana, the effects of the drug are intense, dangerous and sometimes deadly. As synthetic marijuana gains more popularity among youth and young adults, hospitals are noticing an alarming trend of users having to be admitted due to complications from ingesting the drug.

Emergency calls aren’t just coming from individuals who have taken the drug, they’re coming from institutions as well. “It’s been more than 90 percent hospitals this year. It’s not, ‘Hey, I smoked this thing and I don’t feel well.’ It’s, ‘This guy’s trying to tear up the E.R. and we have him locked down in restrains. We don’t know what he’s taken. What do we do?’” explained a 911 operator employee.

Reports have come in regarding the types of calls poison control centers and DEA field offices have received throughout the country. The amount of people who have had adverse effects from synthetic marijuana have increased four times since 2014.

The drug often appeals to the younger generation because it can be easily purchased and some variations are still not technically illegal. It usually comes in little packages with bright colors and is often labeled as some type of potpourri or incense. People who use this drug really have no idea what they’re going to be ingesting, as it is a chemical cocktail sprayed on some dried leaves. Common side effects can include paranoia, extreme depression, auditory and visual hallucinations, anxiety, suicidal thoughts and behavior, seizures and other complications.

Additional Complications From Marijuana Use Discovered

marijuanaDespite legalization in Colorado and Washington, marijuana use still poses a threat to individual and public health. New research recently discovered that marijuana use can affect more major organs than the brain and lungs.

A French study of nearly 2,000 frequent marijuana users found that cardiovascular problems seemed to occur at a younger age than a typical population. For people opposed to the drug’s legalization and regulation, this information becomes helpful in their fight.

In other reports, there have been an increase in emergency room visits and at least two deaths attributed to marijuana edibles. In some respects, marijuana-laced foods and candies pose a greater health risk than smoking it. This is largely due to the impression that people may have in thinking that it is safe, but also because the effects take longer and do people tend to consume more.

There is also the increase in marijuana dependency. Although it will take a while to be seen through statistics-gathering in national studies, a larger population of people will become addicted to the drug. In addition to the damage that can be caused physically and mentally, there can be a wide range social ramifications as well.

If you know of someone addicted to marijuana or any other drug, contact Desert Cove Recovery today for more information on how our treatment program can help.

Emergency Departments Have Contributed to Increase In Opiate Use

Researchers from the George Washington University School of Medicine recently found that the the number of emergency room visits resulting in a prescription for painkiller rose nearly 50 percent between 2001 and 2010. This has been one of the many contributing factors to the overall rise in prescription drug abuse throughout the country.

Published in the journal Academic Emergency Medicine, the results showed that the total number of such ER visits went from 21 percent up to 31 percent during the decade. Part of those statistics include the increase of Schedule II narcotics that nearly doubled, from 7.6% to 14.5%.

Despite these hefty increases, the percentage of patients reporting for painful conditions only increased by a modest 4%. Part of the reason for the sharp rise in narcotic painkillers was believed to involve a concern for greater patient satisfaction, indicating that fulfilling their wishes may have taken a front seat to doing what’s best for their conditions in some cases.

Dr. Ryan Stanton, spokesperson for the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP), told HealthDay that, “In many cases, naproxen, Tylenol (acetaminophen) and ibuprofen are the best choices.”

Unfortunately these statistics are a reflection of the overall scene when it comes to trying to treat pain, keep patients satisfied and find quick fixes when dealing with a large volume of patients. Hopefully more treatments can be used that aren’t as potentially addictive, yet still provide relief to those who are in need. Either way, our country must continue to find ways to cut back our overwhelming dependency on painkillers.

Rise in Ecstasy Use Shows Up in ER Visits

ecstasyresearchThe club drug that boomed in the late 90’s had apparently peaked shortly after 2000 and then waned, but has been rising again in recent years. A recent release from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) showed that the number of people under the age of 21 showing up in emergency rooms because of Ecstasy has more than doubled.

According to the Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN), Ecstasy-related emergency department visits rose a total of more than 120 percent between a six-year period for those under the legal drinking age. The number jumped from less than 4,500 visits to more than 10,000. While this represented only a small portion of the total drug-related visits, the continuing increase in MDMA use is substantial and alarming.

Among the most common side effects that could induce a trip to the ER for Ecstasy could be rapid heart rate, dehydration and hallucinations. Additional substance abuse while taking the drug also increases the incidence of seriously harmful reactions.

Even for those who don’t have immediate serious reactions, scientists say that Ecstasy use causes a depletion in serotonin availability after the initial burn-up, leaving many users in a depressed state. This is a dangerous and vulnerable time, especially for younger people, and their reactions unfortunately often include more substance abuse to try and cover up the feelings.

If you or someone you know needs help for Ecstasy abuse, contact us today for more information about successful treatment options from Desert Cove Recovery.