Tag Archives: opiates

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.

recognize opioid overdose

How to Recognize an Opioid Overdose

Recognizing an Overdose Early Can Save a Life

It is a sad but true fact that opiate addiction has been steadily on the rise since the early 2000s. This means that the rates of overdose have also been steadily climbing. In fact, the problem has become so widespread that law enforcement and medical professionals are labeling it an epidemic.

The World Health Organization estimates that at least 69,000 people across the globe die from opiate overdoses each year. To help curb this number, we believe it is important that everyone is educated about this class of drugs as well as the symptoms and how to help someone who may be experiencing an overdose. Continue reading to find out how opioids affect a person, how to recognize an opioid overdose, and what steps to take to help save someone’s life. 

What is an Opioid?

Opioids are a category of painkillers that include well-known drugs such as heroin, morphine, OxyContin, Vicodin, methadone and tramadol. Due to the nature of these drugs, it is easy to become dependent on them if a person is not under careful medical supervision.

Most often, these types of drugs are given to people who have serious surgeries, significant injuries or chronic pain, but substances like heroin are most often introduced on the streets, sometimes when a person is unable to get more of their prescribed opioids.

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recognize opioid overdhose

How Do Opioids Affect a Person?

Opiates bind to certain receptors in the brain that help to block pain signals and make the user feel relaxed. When used in a managed setting, they are excellent tools for people who suffer from intense pain.

Issues arise when people take too much at once or begin to use the drugs as a way to escape from real life.

How to Recognize an Opioid Overdose

There are several telltale signs that a person is experiencing an opioid overdose.

Physical signs include:

  • Slowed breathing
  • Bluish tint around fingernails or lips
  • Pinpoint pupils
  • Vomiting or painful constipation
  • Inability to be woken from sleep
  • Slow or irregular heartbeat
  • Cold or clammy skin
  • Unusual paleness
  • Extreme mood swings
  • Confusion or drunken behavior

If you encounter someone with these symptoms, it is critical to contact emergency medical services right away because the person’s life is in immediate danger. Opiate overdoses can kill a person quickly, so every moment counts.

How to Help Someone Who Has Overdosed

Though you should immediately call 911 when you recognize an overdose, there are steps you can take to assist the person until help arrives.

If the person is unconscious, roll him or her to one side. This helps prevent people from choking if they vomit while unconscious. If the person is still conscious, do your best to keep the person talking to you and don’t let him or her fall asleep. Because these drugs slow breathing functions, allowing an overdosed person to fall asleep can lead to cessation of breathing.

Don’t leave the person alone if you can help it. A conscious person will be delirious and can easily get into a dangerous situation, and an unconscious person may stop breathing. If left unattended, you won’t be able to administer rescue breathing if necessary.

There is also a treatment for these overdoses called naloxone. This is something that emergency rooms have used for many years to help reverse these types of overdoses, especially heroin-related ones. Due to the dramatic increase in overdose deaths, however, it is now common for emergency medical personnel and even caregivers to carry naloxone with them.

Naloxone comes in nasal spray and injectable forms and can give the overdosed person up to an hour’s respite from overdose symptoms. This does not stop the overdose permanently, so it is still important to call emergency responders to give the person lifesaving medical treatment. In addition, following an overdose, the person will likely require some sort of opioid addiction treatment to ensure that they don’t use heroin or other opioids again once they have recovered from the overdose.

Encountering an opioid overdose can be a frightening experience, but learning how to recognize the signs and give assistance can save lives.

impact of addiction on family

The Impact of Addiction on Family

How Addiction Affects a Family

Addiction affects not only the life of the person struggling with addiction but also the lives of everyone he or she cares about. Families can suffer the effects of addiction emotionally, financially and even physically. In some cases, family members may be inadvertently contributing to an individual’s addictive behaviors. By learning to understand how addiction can impact a family, you can be prepared to offer your loved one the support he or she needs while protecting yourself and the others you care about.
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How Drug and Alcohol Abuse Can Damage Family Ties

When a person is struggling with addiction, getting the next fix becomes their top priority. The disease of addiction can lead a person to do things that are otherwise out of character, and these behaviors can put a serious strain on family relationships.

In pursuit of feeding their addictions, addicts may:

  • Lie or fail to keep promises
  • Borrow or even steal money from family to pay for the addictive substance
  • Be unreliable and struggle to meet family commitments
  • Forget about important duties or become distracted
  • Engage in illegal behaviors

Addicts may struggle to maintain employment as a result of their addiction, leading to additional financial strain for themselves and their families. Addicts may also suffer mood swings and other uncharacteristic behavior as a result of a substance’s effects or the effects of withdrawal if they cannot get a regular fix.

All of these issues can quickly compound to create a hostile environment at home.

The Impact of Addiction on Children

Addiction has an especially powerful effect on families when the addict is a parent. Children require care and attention, but the disease of addiction can take away a parent’s time and ability to care for his or her family.

Parents struggling with addiction may forget to take care of their own needs and the needs of their children. This may include missing meals, forgetting to pick kids up from school or failing to keep up with laundry and other chores.

Additionally, it may be unsafe for the children to be around the addicted parent. Mood swings and poor judgment can lead to explosive outbursts, and a parent caught up in the effects of drugs or alcohol may not be alert enough to protect children from dangers around the home. Sadly, there is also the risk that the parent may overdose in the presence of their child, putting their child in serious danger as well.

If only one parent is an addict, the other parent may experience significant stress while trying to deal with family responsibilities alone. This can put stress on the marriage, creating domestic turmoil at home that may affect the children as well.

For these reasons and more, children feel the impact of family addiction very strongly. Kids growing up in these conditions are more likely to face drug and alcohol problems of their own later in life.

Getting Help for Addicted Family Members

Most people who struggle with addiction do not want to hurt their families. However, they may be unable to break the habits and behaviors on their own. Similarly, family members are poorly equipped to handle the realities of addiction on their own.

Love is not enough to overcome the power of addiction, and loving family members run the risk of enabling the addiction further by continuing to provide financial support or shouldering the consequences of an addict’s actions. For this reason, it is important to seek the help of qualified professionals outside of the family.

A professional intervention followed by drug treatment can help your loved one get the help he or she needs without putting further stress and risk upon your family. Together, you can work toward healing and recovering from the addiction and its effects on those you love.

SOURCE:

drugabuse.gov

Unused Painkillers from Dental Surgery a Source of Prescription Drug Abuse

One of the most common dental procedures in the United States is the removal of wisdom teeth. Left over from a time when we needed an extra set of molars to chew a diet of leaves, roots and nuts, the removal of these teeth is now causing thousands of people to become addicted to painkillers.

Most people get their wisdom teeth removed when there is too much crowding, or they are not coming in correctly. It is common to get this procedure done between the ages of 17 and 25. As this procedure requires surgery on the mouth, a prescription of Vicodin or Percocet is usually given to help with recovery. However, according to a study in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence, more than half of these pills go unused. And instead of disposing of these unused pills, many people keep them, and this is where the danger comes in.

Storing and forgetting about bottles of prescription painkillers often leads to abuse by other family members or friends of the family who stumble onto the drugs. Because the pills are not currently being taken, the theft often goes unnoticed. And while the study uncovered this potential for abuse, it also uncovered a way to cut back on the problem. By providing patients with information on how to safely dispose of their unused medications and the risks associated with keeping unused pills, people were more likely to get rid of the pills rather than hang on to them after the pain healed from surgery. Another way is for dentists to begin to prescribe a smaller number of pills.

This type of information is important because many healthcare professionals balk at the thought of not sending home a prescription for painkillers after a patient has undergone any type of surgery, but it is important to prevent addiction and save lives.

“We’re going to keep prescribing these drugs because people will need them. We have a long way to go. There’s a lot of health illiteracy. We need to give people information at a level they can understand,” explained Terri Voepel-Lewis of the University of Michigan Health System.

Studies like this one who the importance of educating patients and providing them with information on the proper way of handling a potentially dangerous narcotic. In the midst of the worst drug overdose epidemic in history, these types of life-saving measures should be taken very seriously.

Heroin, Fentanyl Lead Surge in Overdose Deaths

Although there has been a lot of coverage about the opioid epidemic and the record number of overdoses, until recently there hasn’t been a more detailed look at exactly which substances are tied to the most fatalities. With updated information from the National Center for Health Statistics, it is clear that heroin and fentanyl are the biggest overdose threats currently.

Information from 2010 to 2014 showed a sharp increase in the number of heroin-related deaths, while those resulting from prescription painkillers remained relatively the same over that time period. In 2010, the most overdose deaths were from oxycodone, which amounted to 5,200 that year, while there were about 3,000 from heroin. Just four years later heroin led the way with over 11,000 deaths. It accounted for nearly a quarter of all overdose fatalities.

Researchers were also interested in the fact that many of the overdose deaths involved more than one drug. Nearly half of all overdoses included multiple drugs being taken. One of the deadliest additives has been fentanyl, as it is incredibly potent and highly dangerous. Another important aspect of the multiple substance issue is that there are many accidental deaths caused by mixing prescription drugs, such as a painkiller and sedative while drinking alcohol.

While current drug policies are changing to focus more on treatment and rehabilitation, it is likely that more still needs to be done in order to reverse the upward trend of heroin overdose deaths in this country. The nation has been making much more of an effort over the past year, and we will have to wait to see statistics on whether that has been working. Either way, much more can and should be done to help save lives.

If you have a loved one struggling with an addiction to heroin or any other combination of drugs, contact Desert Cove today to find out more about successful treatment options.

Study of Veterans Documents Transition from Painkillers to Heroin Abuse

veterans painkillersAddicts who abuse prescription painkillers often turn to heroin as well. This phenomenon has plagued society for the last several years. Some people insist that in order to reduce heroin addiction in the country, the prescription painkiller epidemic must be solved first. Others caution that by making prescription painkillers harder to obtain, that policy makers will drive users to toward heroin. In order to develop the best plan of attack for reducing heroin and prescription painkiller abuse, ongoing studies are being conducted and analyzed on different demographics that abuse these types of drugs.

One recent study shows that veterans are more likely to use heroin if they have misused prescription painkillers in the past. Veteran healthcare, including mental health, has been an ongoing concern of late, as they deserve the best care our nation can provide. Veterans and other people who present with suspicious behavior regarding their prescription painkillers should be more closely monitored by medical professionals for potential heroin abuse in the future. The results of this study appear in the journal Addiction.

“Our findings demonstrate a pattern of transitioning from non-medical use of prescription opioids to heroin use that has only been demonstrated in select populations. Our findings are unique in that our sample of individuals consisted of patients who were receiving routine medical care for common medical conditions,” explained David Fiellin, the co-author of the study.

This specific information and method of study can now also be applied to other groups to better document the link of painkillers and heroin addiction. As more information is gathered about the transition into heroin abuse, the more specialized prevention programs can be.

For people who do become dependent on opiates, including veterans and other populations, should seek out effective addiction treatment programs such as Desert Cove Recovery.

U.S. Dept. of Health Continues Fight Against Opioid Addiction

painkillersThe United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced earlier this month new efforts to make an impact on the opioid problem in America. There were three main areas of focus included in this announcement, which were improving prescribing practices, increasing access to medication-assisted treatment and making naloxone more widely available for emergencies.

With this came what many consider the big news that doctors who are approved to prescribe buprenorphine have been able to more than double the number of people they can treat at a time. They were previously limited to 100 patients, but the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) just raised that cap to 275 patients.

Secretary of Health and Human Services Sylvia Burwell stated, “The opioid epidemic is one of the most pressing public health issues in the United States. More Americans now die from drug overdoses than car crashes, and these overdoses have hit families from every walk of life and across our entire nation. At HHS, we are helping to lead the nationwide effort to address the opioid epidemic by taking a targeted approach focused on prevention, treatment, and intervention.”

The part that seems to stand out as having the greatest overall impact is the changing of prescribing practices by doctors who give out painkillers. Opiates have been too heavily relied on to treat various pain conditions, while at the same time underestimating their abuse and addiction potential, and a major overhaul is sorely needed.

In the meantime, wider availability and use of medications that like naloxone and buprenorphine can help to reduce the damage caused by painkillers and other opiates so that there is a better chance at rehabilitation. Most people want, and deserve, long-term fixes for opioid problems rather than temporary patches.

If you or someone you love has a problem with painkillers, heroin or any other type of drug, contact Desert Cove Recovery today to see how we can help.

Technology Takes Aim at Reducing Painkiller Use

virtual reality treatment for painAs more healthcare providers and patients come to the realization that prescription narcotics are not nearly as effective at treating pain long-term as they were once believed, there continues to be more effort placed on finding alternative solutions to pain management. Another driving factor is simply the number of lives ruined and lost associated with opioid painkillers due to addiction and overdose deaths.

One recent article highlights some work being done by a start-up called Applied VR, which uses virtual reality headsets and games in various applications. In this case, they’re working with hospitals and other institutions to examine the effects that a simple virtual reality game can have on reducing pain symptoms and anxiety.

Applied VR has created games to help patients reduce pain or anxiety. One game consists of the patient walking very slowly down a path that has bears and other animals. They are tasked with throwing balls at the animals. And unlike other games, players do not die or get injured.
The games are intentionally slow and mesmerizing. And research suggests that they are effective.

Prior to using the game, patients were asked to rate their pain on a scale of zero to ten. On average the patients rated their pain as 5.5. After playing the virtual reality game for 20 minutes, the patients dropped their ratings to a 4.0. This reduction of roughly 25% has impressed many in the medical community.

The use of such calming techniques can have many applications, including after an accident, injury or some other traumatic event. It can also help relieve symptoms of pain and anxiety before and after procedures ranging from simply drawing blood to complicated surgery.

Considering that more than 165,000 people have died in the United States in relation to prescription narcotics since 1999, we all should be welcoming alternative solutions for relief that do not introduce people to addictive substances.

Addiction Treatment Funding Help From Unlikely Source

treatment helpAs most of us know, every part of the country has been affected by substance abuse in one way or another. More recently, the primary focus has been on reducing the number of fatalities from opioid addiction through treatment, intervention and prevention efforts. Funding for these measures have come in many ways, from state budgets and federal earmarks to private non-profits seeking to help.

Last week a new source of funding announced a series of grants for helping some rural areas with telemedicine targeted specifically at reducing the opiate problem. The $1.4 million came from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, of all places. Telemedicine is a way to reach people in more remote areas to provide a variety of services, and many more healthcare professionals and treatment centers are offering these types of services as adjuncts to inpatient care.

“Because addiction treatment is often out of reach for many in rural America, expanding access to telemedicine is an important step toward making sure rural communities have the tools they need to fight the opioid epidemic. The USDA is committed to provide the critical resources rural areas need to reduce the staggering increase in opioid overdose deaths that is driving up health-care costs and devastating communities,” said U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack at a recent press conference.

The current White House Administration has been focused on providing more resources to treat and prevent substance abuse, and the President recently submitted a budget proposal that included $1.1 billion in additional funding for the opiate problem.

The fact that more resources are being focused in this area is a great indicator that there is a large-scale commitment to saving more lives. If you have a loved one addicted to opiates or any other kind of drug, contact Desert Cove today to find out more about how we can help.

Study Indicates Opioids Worsen Pain Over Time

pain pillsA new study conducted by researchers at the University of Colorado, shows that prescription painkillers do very little in terms of helping with chronic or acute pain. Instead, the temporary masking of the pain that they do provide can actually lengthen or worsen the problem. This breakthrough comes at a very important time for the United States, a country that reportedly consumes 80% of all painkillers in the world.

Researchers administered painkillers to rats and found that after only five days on the medication, the rats suffered from chronic pain that lasted months. Researchers noted that the pain signals were coming from the spinal cord. Normally, the glial cells in the spinal cord are responsible for clearing out infection-causing microorganisms. However, when pain medication is administered, the cells are put on high alert and increase their activity, causing a buildup of glial cells in the spinal cord. This buildup stimulates the nerves and chronic pain is experienced for longer periods of time.

“We are showing for the first time that even a brief exposure to opioids can have long-term negative effects on pain. We found the treatment was contributing to the problem,” explained Peter Grace, researcher and faculty member in the Department of Psychology and Neuroscience at the University of Colorado-Boulder.

In order to take the research further, the study would need to be conducted on humans. However, researchers are excited about the progress. And for many, the findings answer the question of why people are reliant on prescription painkillers for so long. Understanding that painkillers are not only just temporarily covering up the problem, but also making it worse, explains why patients have to take such high doses for extended amounts of time to feel relief. Many are also convinced that they will continue to have pain if they stop taking the drugs, whether their original condition is still present or not.

This breakthrough study is likely to lead to further research into the effectiveness of opiate painkillers. The ineffectiveness, paired with the high rate of addiction may finally convince the medical community to stop blanket opiate prescriptions for pain, and instead seek more non-narcotic solutions and treatments.