Tag Archives: heroin addiction

detox on your own, arizona detox

Why It’s Dangerous to Detox on Your Own; Arizona Detox Centers Provide Professional Assistance

Why It’s Dangerous to Detox on Your Own; Arizona Detox Centers Provide Professional Assistance

It is commendable to take the first steps towards overcoming an addiction. However, it can be very dangerous to detox on your own, which is why it’s important to use an Arizona detox provider that has medical professionals on hand to assist with the process.

Those who have become addicted have been experiencing dopamine hits to the brain provided a relief from the stresses of their lives. However, what ended up happening was so much worse than what they had been trying to avoid. Now, their primary concern is getting the brain and the body used to sober living again.

However, the process to get there involves reversing what occurred, pulling away from the effects that caused the addiction to take hold. This time is generally filled with quite a bit of anguish and discomfort. Of course, it is very much worth it in the end, but getting there is not easy, and it should not be done alone for comfort and, more importantly, safety reasons.

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So, Why Is It Dangerous to Detox on Your Own?

In many cases, not checking into an Arizona detox center during this part of the recovery process results in dangerous physical symptoms such as seizures without any professional help nearby to assist. It should also be noted that delirium tremens, which consist of a rapid heartbeat and a sense of confusion, occur in many who are recovering from alcohol addiction and in some cases results in death.

Physical Discomfort

Other possible withdrawal symptoms that provide physical discomfort include aches, constipation, diarrhea, fever, headaches, high blood pressure, increased heart rate, memory problems, nausea, panic attacks, seizures, tremors and vomiting. These vary depending on the substance that was being used but an individual will experience a variety of these symptoms.

The main reason why detox can be such a shock to the body is because, when alcohol or drugs were introduced to the brain, it started being flooded by certain chemicals, which caused the brain to produce more countering ones to balance it out. However, once the substance is removed, the brain is still sending all of those countering chemicals in high numbers, and the situation is out of balance again.

Mental Side Effects

The mental side effects of detoxing should not be discounted as experiencing those at home are much more apt to result in an end to the detox and a return to the substance that was being used. The desire to resume regular use is extremely high during this step of the recovery process, and it’s important to be able to push past this point, and assistance is often necessary for this to occur.

Specific withdrawal symptoms related to the mental side of the recovery process include agitation, anxiety, depression, hallucinations, insomnia, lack of interest in things that used to be viewed as important, mood changes, nightmares and oversleeping.

Lack of Support

It’s also of benefit to simply have others around during this trying time as detoxing at home often leaves that person completely alone during one of the most difficult times of their lives. This type of setting, detoxing at home, can exacerbate withdrawal symptoms such as anxiety and depression.

Possible Overdose

It’s important to also point out that those who do relapse while detoxing at home are much more apt to experience an overdose, which can be deadly as the body is often not ready for the dosage that it’s being provided. This is due to the person returning to previous dosage amounts, which may be too much for the body to handle once the detox process has started. The odds of this situation occurring increase the longer the detox period has lasted, but it can still take place during the early stages of the process.

What Can Detox Centers Provide?

One of the most significant benefits of being in a professional environment during this challenging time is simply having medical professional nearby who can help should a dangerous situation develop suddenly and unexpectedly. This immediate medical intervention can and does save lives. For example, should a seizure occur, someone would be there to intervene and help, which would not be possible if detoxing at home.

Another reason why detoxing without the assistance of qualified Arizona detox professionals doesn’t lead to sustained recovery is the failure to address any underlying issues that caused the substance abuse to begin. Addiction is a complex disorder that requires not only a safe detox but also treatment options that will help set the individual up for success.

Desert Cove Recovery has trained medical professionals who are willing to walk you safely through detox. We will work to uncover the underlying issues through therapy sessions and other treatment options.

Probably one of the most important things to consider is that detoxing is not easy. If it was, there would be significantly fewer people addicted to drugs or alcohol, and detox centers would be few and far between. It’s difficult to jump over this significant hurdle of the recovery process, and it becomes so much more difficult and dangerous when attempting to do so on your own.

If you or a loved one is looking to take this important first step on the recovery path, contact Desert Cove Recovery today. We will provide a safe place and medical professionals on hand to ensure that the detox process is done safely and get you started on your road to recovery.

fentanyl in other drugs, fentanyl overdoses

Fentanyl in Other Drugs Leading to an Increase in Fentanyl Overdose

Fentanyl in Other Drugs Leading to an Increase in Fentanyl Overdoses

If you’ve read any articles lately or turned on the news, chances are you’ve heard much discussion about fentanyl and fentanyl overdoses. Fentanyl overdoses becoming more and more of an issue. People are discovering fentanyl in other drugs, much to the surprise of the user, leading to tragic consequences. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the number of fentanyl-related deaths reached 30,000, the sharpest increase of all drug-related overdoses.

What is Fentanyl?

Fentanyl is described as a powerful synthetic drug that is 50 to 100 times more potent than heroin or cocaine. Fentanyl and its analogs are part of a class of drugs known as rapid-acting synthetic opioids. They can be used to treat severe pain or to help manage pain after surgery. Opioids create euphoria through the brain which is why fentanyl can become very addictive. Even those who are prescribed the drug for pain management can easily become dependent if they’re not careful.

In no way should fentanyl and any other opioids be used for anything else, but the truth is that people are getting their hands on the drug and adding it to other illegal substances with deadly consequences.

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How Fentanyl is Appearing in Other Drugs

Fentanyl can be manufactured into a white powder that is virtually impossible to distinguish between drugs like cocaine and heroin which is why many users can not even detect it. While heroin comes from the opium poppy plant, making the plant necessary to make the drug, fentanyl can be made in a lab, which may be a major reason why its use is becoming more and more rampant. Fentanyl can be lethal in doses as small as two milligrams.

Because of the way synthesized fentanyl can be made, it is becoming easier for drug cartels to produce and it and is why users are finding fentanyl in other drugs. This is leading to many people overdosing on fentanyl without even realizing they took it. Fentanyl can be diluted and also re-cut, allowing drug dealers to mix it with other drugs like heroin and cocaine. A user will not realize it until it may be too late. These facts are what are contributing to what is now being referred to as an opioid crisis in the United States.

The New York City Health Department notes that someone dies of a drug overdose every seven hours in the city. In 2017, opioids were involved in 80 percent of those deaths. While opioid and fentanyl overdoses have been seen in the past, they have never been seen in this type or quantity. This disturbing trend is what is contributing to the epidemic.

Fighting Fentanyl Overdoses

Fentanyl overdoses and the opioid crisis were recognized by the White House in 2017 as a Public Health Emergency. This directs federal agencies to provide more grant money to fight the epidemic.

Many first responders have also been armed with Narcan (brand name for the drug Naloxone) to help treat those who are experiencing an opioid overdose. The drug works quickly by binding to opioid receptors to reverse the effects of the drug. Typically its effects can be felt within five minutes of administering the drug. While naloxone can be given as an inhalant, it is usually given as an injectable by emergency responders. The goal is to get the patient breathing normally once again.

While naloxone can provide a quick fix and can help save the life of someone overdosing, in order to prevent future fentanyl overdoses and overcome addiction, rehab is needed. Drug addiction is often caused by deep-rooted problems that need to be addressed at their core.

In order for someone to fight their addiction, many times a detox program is first needed so that the patient can begin the rehab process. This is best done under the supervision of a trained medical team. At Desert Cove Recovery, patients are evaluated to see if detox is needed. If so, recommendations are made for detox with one of Desert Cove’s partners.

Other forms of rehab can include a 12-step process that lets each patient go through individual and group therapy to get them on the road to sobriety. Patients learn the skills they need to live a happy and healthy life without the use of drugs. Holistic treatment, outdoor therapy, and extended care are also provided at Desert Cove Recovery. Once you make the decision to get the help you need, the staff will recommend the best treatments for your addiction.

If you’re ready to get started on your journey to sobriety, contact Desert Cove Recovery today and speak to a highly trained member of our staff or fill out an online form. Help is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, year-round.

holistic heroin addiction treatment

Cope Better with Holistic Heroin Addiction Treatment

Cope Better with Holistic Heroin Addiction Treatment

Dealing with an addiction to alcohol, heroin or other drugs is never easy. Taking that first step and admitting that you need help is huge, but it’s just the beginning. Long after putting down a substance, the underlying causes of addiction often remain. Through effective addiction treatment, you can take the first steps toward regaining your life.

By considering holistic heroin addiction treatment, you can enjoy traditional treatments and therapies alongside alternative, holistic therapies that help to heal your entire person—not just the behavioral aspects of your addiction. Read on to learn more about it and how it may benefit you.

What is Holistic Addiction Treatment, Anyway?

The term “holistic” has become something of a buzzword these days; in fact, many treatment centers that advertise their holistic treatments don’t actually deliver. Therefore, it is important to look closely at programs and facilities that claim to offer holistic addiction treatment.

Put simply, holistic addiction treatment involves not only traditional treatments like counseling and medical detox, but alternative therapies like yoga, meditation, acupuncture and massage. It follows the philosophy that you are far more than your addiction, and it addresses underlying causes that can lead to relapse.
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What are the Benefits of Holistic Treatment?

Why would you choose to undergo holistic addiction treatment rather than traditional treatment? First, it’s important to understand that holistic addiction treatment isn’t a dramatic departure from regular treatment. Rather, it builds upon the proven methods and therapies of traditional addiction treatment by incorporating therapies that help to heal you as a whole person. To better understand why so many people are turning to holistic heroin addiction treatment, consider these benefits:

Improved Ability to Cope with Physical Symptoms

With holistic addiction treatment, you will be introduced to therapies like yoga, guided meditation and massage that are believed to help assuage the physical symptoms of withdrawing from drugs or alcohol. These techniques help you to improve your ability to be mindful, which can help you to understand that you are not your thoughts, feelings or emotions. In turn, you are less apt to “go down a rabbit hole” when negative thoughts and energies appear in your mind. This can translate into an improved ability to cope with the triggers.

Better Spiritual Grounding

Having faith in something bigger than yourself can help you to achieve and maintain lasting sobriety. That doesn’t mean having to convert to a religion; it simply means having a spiritual grounding that you can fall back on when struggling with your addiction. Many find that through activities like yoga and meditation they are able to connect with a deeper spirituality that comes very much in handy in maintaining sobriety.

More Balanced Emotions

Many people with substance abuse disorders have preexisting emotional and mental imbalances that are often largely responsible for their behavior. Even if someone doesn’t have an underlying mental illness beforehand, they often emerge from addiction in a severely imbalanced emotional state. Holistic treatment arms you with tools that you can turn to again and again through your life to achieve calm and balance in your mind. You will learn to be able to find that place of calm and peace whenever you need it.

Improved Nutrition

Since holistic addiction treatment strives to treat the whole person, nutrition plays a crucial role. In this type of treatment, you will be educated about how to achieve and maintain a healthy diet. Since people in addiction often have poor nutrition, they also often suffer from neurochemical imbalances that can make it even more difficult to maintain sobriety. While you can and certainly should treat yourself during the holidays, you will also know how to ensure that you get enough nutrients to remain healthy and balanced.

An Easier Transition Out of Treatment

Perhaps one of the most exciting things about holistic addiction treatment is that it arms you with tools that you can turn to again and again throughout your life. While traditional therapies like counseling and behavioral therapy are important parts of most addiction treatment programs, these aren’t things that you can turn to if you are in danger of being triggered into relapse. Things like yoga and meditation, on the other hand, can be practiced just about anywhere and just about any time—and they provide incredible comfort for people who are in the early stages of sobriety too.

Get Help Today

If you are ready to reclaim a sober life, Desert Cove Recovery’s holistic heroin addiction treatment center is here to help. Contact us today to learn more and to get the help that you need to avoid triggers and issues that can cause you to turn to unhealthy habits.

suicide and opioid addiction dual diagnosis treatment centers

Suicide and Opioid Addiction – Linked Epidemics?

Suicide and Opioid Addiction – Linked Epidemics?

Important note: This article addresses suicide. If you or a loved one is struggling, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

A disproportionately large number of U.S. residents have committed suicide while using an opioid. By definition, we are witnessing an epidemic. Dual diagnosis treatment centers are seeing an increase in patients as they themselves effort to understand the connection between suicide and opioid addiction. 

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) released alarming numbers during the spring of 2018. Their study determined almost 45,000 Americans committed suicide in 2016 alone and discovered an increase of suicide every year since 1999.

The U.S. Surgeon General has advised more Americans use opioids than smoke cigarettes. Considering the U.S. purchases 80% of the world’s opioid medications and prescriptions have increased 300 percent in a nine-year time frame, this makes sense.

Together, it appears opioids and an increasing suicide rate may indeed be linked.

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suicide and opioid addiction linked dual diagnosis treatment centers

An Increasing Suicide Rate

The relationship between suicide and substance abuse is a complicated one. While suicide is closely correlated with depression, use of either legal or illicit drugs increases the risk substantially. A 2013 study by the CDC revealed which types of substances were found in those who committed suicide. The leading six substances were:

  • Alcohol – 38.2%
  • Antidepressants – 35.3%
  • Benzodiazepines – 31.3%
  • Opiates – 26.8%
  • Marijuana – 16.6%
  • Anticonvulsants – 11.9%

Use of drugs or alcohol is one of the most common risk factors for suicide. However, substance use is only one half of the equation.

In isolation, it would easy to pin a large portion of suicides strictly on substance abuse. But unfortunately, nothing could be further from the truth. In most suicides, substance abuse is the cause or the result of one or more contributing conditions.

The CDC completed a study reviewing the mental reports of both medical examiners and law enforcement officials from 27 states in 2015. They acknowledged there may have been other circumstances involved in any single suicide report, but the result sheds light on the types of problems individuals may have been facing prior to their passing:

  • 42% reported relationship problems
  • 29% faced a crisis in the past or upcoming two weeks
  • 22% had physical health problems
  • 16% were confronting job or financial related issues
  • 9% tackled criminal legal problems
  • 4% lost their housing

The study showed that just over one-quarter (28%) of suicides had reported known problematic substance abuse. Understanding the relationship between the CDC’s statistics of the substances found in the bloodstream with the contributing factors is important. The connection underscores the role substance abuse plays in scenarios where the abuse was not a determining factor in the suicide.

The Exploding Use of Opioids

During the late-1990s, prescription opioid pain relievers were introduced to the general public in mass. It was promised these drugs would not be addictive or habit forming. The pharmaceutical companies were wrong.

The rate of opioid overdose has risen ever since opioids arrived at the corner pharmacy. In 2015, the CDC reported 33,000 deaths directly resulting from an opioid overdose. This includes prescription opioids such as fentanyl, hydrocodone, and methadone, illegally manufactured synthetics, and heroin.

Almost 225 million opioid prescriptions were written in 2015. The CDC study from the same year found approximately 2 million Americans were suffering from prescription opioid substance abuse disorders. The statistics of opioid misuse are staggering:

  • 21% – 29% of prescriptions for chronic pain are misused
  • 8% – 12% of prescribed opioid patients develop an opioid use disorder
  • 4% – 6% of those who misuse opioid prescriptions move onto heroin

Although the sheer number of annual opioid prescriptions has begun to decline, their misuse continues to increase. And as the number of prescriptions decreased, we may begin to see increased heroin and illicit opioid use in the coming years. Consider the following growth in opioid overdoses:

  • 54% increase in large cities in 16 states
  • 70% increase in the Midwest 2016 to 2017
  • 30% increase in 52 surveyed regions in the U.S.

We are in the midst of a public health crisis. The consequences of which are being felt by individuals, families, employers, and entire communities. Finding the link between suicide and opioid addiction will go a long way toward solving this immense problem.

Connecting Suicide and Opioid Addiction

Overdoses, caused by any substance, can often be difficult to evaluate. Was the overdose accidental or were the drugs consumed with a purpose – suicide?

What we do know are the increases in suicide risk associated with an opioid misuse. For men, the suicide risk nearly doubles if they were known to have an opioid use disorder. For women, there has been found to be an eightfold increase in the risk of suicide. Yet in most cases, the final factor causing an overdose is never known.

Opioid addiction is extremely powerful. The fact that 80% of first-time heroin users were misusing prescription opioids first supports this claim. And regardless of how many of the 115 daily opioid overdoses are attributed to suicide, any number larger than zero is too many.

The likelihood of suicidal thoughts can increase upwards of 60% when while taking an opioid. There are studies indicating death by suicide is 13 times more likely in opioid and injection drug users. More evidence that combating opioid addiction’s role in the nation’s suicide crisis cannot be overlooked

The Role of Dual Diagnosis Treatment Centers

Admittance into rehabilitation centers increased 400% in the decade prior to 2010. As more research is conducted and more is learned about the relationship between suicide and substance abuse, the greater positive impact dual diagnosis treatment centers will have on their patients.

Dual diagnosis takes a coordinated approach to mental health disorders and substance abuse. By using a multidisciplinary team of clinicians, patients with co-occurring disorders are much more likely to find long-term success after receiving treatment. Traditional treatment centers are becoming much better at identifying individuals who are suffering from two or more conditions. And if dual diagnosis treatment isn’t available, such facilities are fortunately opening on a regular basis.

After completing programs offered at dual diagnosis treatment centers, individuals will effectively be able to manage both disorders. If you suspect someone you care about may be struggling with suicide and opioid addiction, let them know not only their friends and family are there for them, but specially trained experts. The community supporting those breaking opioid addiction is growing and help is no further than a phone call away.

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.

Brain Cell Changes Linked to Opiate Addiction, Narcolepsy

UCLA researchers have made two discoveries that provide new information on chemical messengers in the brain regulating addiction and sleep. One of the new findings involves the brain of people living with a heroin addiction and the other involves the brain of drowsy mice.

In 2000, scientists at the University of California Los Angeles found that narcolepsy (a sleep disorder whose symptoms include excessive sleepiness, sleep attacks, hallucinations and loss of muscle control) is caused by loss of approximately 90 percent of the brain cells that contain the neurotransmitter hypocretin. This chemical messenger is normally present in 80,000 brain cells.

Narcolepsy and Heroin Addiction

Narcolepsy is not a common disorder, affecting about one in 2,000-3,000 people. It can go undiagnosed for a number of years, with the patient usually starting to experience symptoms in childhood or adolescence.

The results of a new study have revealed that heroin addicts have 54 percent more hypocretin-secreting neurons that non-addicts, on average. Tests performed on mice have confirmed that opiate use is responsible for this increase. The jump in hypocretin cells lasted for up to four weeks after morphine treatment stopped, which is well after the morphine would have left the mice’s bodies.

The researchers thought morphine, which is the active ingredient in heroin, may restore the hypocretin-producing neurons which are missing in narcolepsy patients. To put this idea to the test, they gave narcoleptic mice morphine. The researchers found that morphine increased the number of hypocretin-producing cells, and the symptoms of narcolepsy disappeared.

Brain Neurotransmitter May Contribute to Opioid Cravings

The mice continued to produce hypocretin after they were taken off morphine. To the researchers, this observation led to a theory that humans may continue producing hypocretin after going through heroin detox (detoxification). The researchers thought the increase in hypocretin levels may be linked to opiate cravings and that bringing them close to “normal” levels might potentially reverse narcolepsy symptoms in humans.

More work will be needed with mice before this treatment approach can be recommended for human patients. Researchers would like to discover whether reducing the number of “excess” hypocretin cells could have a role in relieving withdrawal symptoms for long-term opiate users and preventing relapse once they are clean.

Bacterial Infection Hidden Epidemic, Taking Lives in Opioid Crisis

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

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

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

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

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

How Infection is Spread

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

Endocarditis Treatment Not Enough for Opioid Use Disorder Patients

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

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

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

opioid epidemic

Addiction Expert Explains Three Main Groups of Opioid Epidemic

For the average person reading news stories or listening to the situation being discussed on the air, it seems as though the situation is mainly about young people who have moved from a prescription opioid dependency to a heroin addiction and that fentanyl is causing many of the overdose deaths. Popular news stories imply that efforts to stop people from becoming addicted to prescription drugs have not helped, but only made the issue worse.

This is one part of the opioid crisis but it isn’t the full story. As Andrew Kolodny, the co-director of opioid policy research at Brandeis University Heller School for Social Policy and Management pointed out, there are three opioid epidemics impacting North America.

The Three Opioid Epidemics in North America

1. Longtime Addicts

This, according to Kolodny, is the smallest group. Most of them are between the ages of 50-70 and started using heroin in the 1970s and 1980s. They lost a number of their friends to addiction. Fentanyl is responsible for killing off people in this group, due to the heroin supply being “laced” with this powerful pain reliever.

2. Young Rural and Suburban Users

The second group is the middle one, and is between 20-40 years of age. This is the group that gets most of the press coverage. They are people who are being found dead of an overdose, often with needles still in stuck in their arm.

In many instances, the road to addiction starts out with prescription opioids. The person may have started taking medications prescribed for someone else. They may have originally been prescribed the pain medication, but started using it more often than as directed. When their supply ran out, they turned to buying pills on the street.

At some point the cravings for pills increased. The cost was high and heroin could satisfy the cravings at a cheaper price. Switching from pills to heroin wasn’t anything new, according to Kolodny. Again, when dealers started adding fentanyl to their heroin supply around 2011 because it was a cheap filler, the number of overdose victims skyrocketed.

3. Middle-Aged and Senior Adults

The largest group, which has remained mostly under the popular press’ radar, is made up of people in their mid-40s through to their 80s. Their deaths due to opioid abuse are under-reported.

People in this age group may have been taking pain medications prescribed by their primary care doctors for several years. When they pass away from heart disease or another cause, no one wants to think of their long-term opioid use as being a contributing factor. Families also don’t think to ask whether their loved one may not have been using their opioid medication appropriately, whether there was an interaction with other medications (over the counter or herbal supplements included). They wouldn’t ask whether alcohol use and opioids may have been an issue.

The fact there are three sub-groups among this epidemic is why the number of overdose deaths have continued to rise. This isn’t a typical substance abuse problem, as the number of lives lost have actually reduced the average life expectancy in America.

To solve this problem Kolodny suggests investing money in building a new treatment system at an estimated cost of $60 billion. Although there are a ton of addiction programs doing great things, the system as a whole isn’t slowing the number of deaths, so more must be done.

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.

The Evolving Face of Heroin Addiction

young manIt is becoming more and more clear to investigators and the public that heroin abuse has moved from seedy back alleys of major cities and into homes in quiet, little neighborhoods. No longer is the average heroin user a middle aged man. Instead, a typical heroin user is the average teen or young adult. Scores of overdoses are happening in communities where parents never thought heroin could touch.

Unfortunately, in many cases, the heroin problems that are destroying many of these lives are being kept quiet. People feel ashamed when instead they should be speaking up and asking for help. It is too big of a problem to keep silent, and parents fighting to save their sons and daughters from heroin or any other drug need to know that there are resources that can help. They also help shed light on the pervasiveness of the problems and can help prevent more tragedies by sharing their experiences with other parents.

Experts caution that heroin is cheap and widely available. These reasons are helping to fuel the heroin surge throughout the country. They also point out that many teenagers and adults don’t start off abusing heroin. They oftentimes start by taking prescription painkillers and then moving to heroin because the drug is cheaper and provides a similar high.

This past weekend a huge rally was held at the National Mall in Washington, D.C. called Unite to Face Addiction. Many thousands of people attended the event, which featured many speakers and performers including notable politicians, legendary musicians and people who have lost family members to addiction.

According to Donald McFarland, the communications direct for Facing Addiction, “That’s why we’re in Washington, D.C., because it is a national health-care crisis. The truth of the matter is, ‘just say no’ didn’t work and the war on drugs failed.”

Facing Addiction is a new non-profit organization that is trying to unify many groups and messages into wielding more power by acting together. Every effort helps.