Tag Archives: opiates

holistic addiction treatment

Holistic Methods of Addiction Treatment

Holistic Methods of Addiction Treatment

Addiction affects every part of a person’s life. Relationships, career prospects, health, and spirituality can be damaged by a substance abuse problems. Drug abuse can also appear as a symptom of an issue with these or other areas of a person’s life. Without addressing these underlying problems, true healing and recovery cannot occur.

Holistic addiction treatment looks at an individual as a whole rather than focusing on a particular problem at the exclusion of other factors. By meeting the needs of the patient’s mind, body and soul at the same time, holistic addiction treatment plans are a more thorough and attentive solution.

Benefits of Holistic Addiction Treatment

The core belief behind holistic treatment is that an individual is more than the sum of his or her experiences and problems. Rather than isolating a specific issue like addiction and treating it in a vacuum, holistic treatments address concerns of the mind, body and spirit simultaneously.

This approach makes the most sense when you consider the power that addiction can have on a person’s life. Addiction can be all-consuming. It determines how a person feels, how time is spent, the quality and nature of relationships and so much more. Eliminating an addiction without addressing these other aspects of a person’s life may not be effective in the long term.

When a person is addicted, the substance at the heart of the addiction may become an all-purpose crutch to substitute for wellness and growth. Pain that is physical, spiritual or emotional in nature may be self-medicated through drugs or alcohol. When these substances are removed, the underlying issues must still be addressed.

Recognizing that sickness to the mind, body or spirit may be at the root of addiction is what separates holistic treatment from other types of drug rehab.

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holistic addiction treatment

Complementary and Integrative Therapies

Successful drug rehabilitation depends on a combination of an addiction cessation program and cognitive behavioral therapy. A program like the 12-step program provides a framework for combating and overcoming addiction within a supportive network of others in recovery. Therapy works to help a patient build better coping mechanisms and address the underlying issues that may cause addiction or exacerbate substance abuse problems.

On their own, each of these techniques is powerful. When combined, they provide a greater foundation on which a patient can build a new substance-free life. The greatest strength of the holistic treatment approach is the ability of one method’s strengths to balance out another’s weaknesses, and that is something we strive for at Desert Cove.

In addition to traditional drug rehab methods, holistic addiction treatment may also incorporate complementary and alternative or integrative medicine techniques:

  • Yoga
  • Acupuncture
  • Meditation
  • Nutritional intervention
  • Herbal medicine
  • Biofeedback
  • Reiki
  • Massage
  • Physical activities and exercise

Many holistic programs also take advantage of scenic locations. Being surrounded by nature can help to improve spiritual health and overall wellness, and the attractive atmosphere of these locations can ease the discomfort of people struggling with the decision to leave their lives for inpatient treatment at a facility.

Alternative medicine treatments are not scientifically proven to treat any specific ailment, but they have been shown to help some people with overall wellness, energy improvements, spiritual health or other benefits.

Stress relief is an important component of integrative therapy. Quitting an addictive substance is a tumultuous process that can cause significant upset and disturbance in an individual’s daily life. Providing a way to cope with that stress and manage it productively can have a tremendous benefit.

A Personalized Approach to Drug Rehab

Not all holistic drug recovery programs offer the same treatments, and not every treatment will be effective for every patient. This is why it’s important for recovery to be personalized and based on the needs of the individual. Taking the time to understand an individual’s history, background, challenges and goals helps with tailoring the treatment plan and ensuring the best possible results.

For more information about our holistic treatment options and what services we provide, contact Desert Cove Recovery today.

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.


stages of opiate withdrawal

Stages of Opiate Withdrawal

Stages of Opiate Withdrawal

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

How Opioids Work in the Brain

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

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

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Stages of Opiate Withdrawal: A Timeline

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

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

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

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stages of opioid withdrawal

Early withdrawal symptoms include the following:

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

These initial symptoms may cause restlessness and mood swings.

The later stage of withdrawal produces flu-like symptoms:

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

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

What About Drug Replacement?

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

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

The Importance of Support During Withdrawal

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

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

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

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

is vivitrol safe for addiction treatment

Is Vivitrol® Safe for Addiction Treatment?

Is Vivitrol® Safe Addiction Treatment?

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

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

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

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

What is Vivitrol®?

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

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

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

How Does Injectable Naltrexone Work?

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

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

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

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is vivitrol safe

Is Vivitrol® an Effective Treatment for Addiction?

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

What About Potential Side Effects of Vivitrol®?

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

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

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

Are There Any Other Concerns?

– Is Vivitrol® Safe?

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

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

– Does Vivitrol® Really Help Achieve Abstinence?

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

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

Contact Us For Addiction Help

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

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

controversy around kratom for withdrawal

The Controversy Around Using Kratom for Withdrawal

The Controversy Around Using Kratom for Withdrawal

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

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

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

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

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kratom for withdrawal

What Is Kratom?

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

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

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

What’s All the Fuss About?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Is Kratom Right for You?

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

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

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

opioid overdoses in arizona

Opioid Overdoses in Arizona

100 Deaths from Opioid Overdoses Each Month in Arizona

Opioid overdoses in Arizona are at their highest rate in a decade. As the opioid crisis escalates across the country, Arizona has been hit especially hard. It currently sits at second in the nation for drug-related death, coming in just behind Nevada. Worse, the numbers have been steadily rising over the last few years.

In 2016, there were 790 overdose-related deaths, representing a 16 percent increase from the previous year. Of these deaths, 482 were caused by prescription drugs; the other 308 were attributed to heroin. This year, the numbers have been even higher, with some estimates placing overdose-related deaths at around 100 per month.

These numbers reflect only a small part of the growing opioid problem in the state. Overdose deaths may be under-reported. These numbers also do not account for all of the non-lethal overdoses that are treated each month nor for the other physical, psychological and economical impacts of the drug crisis.

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opioid overdoses in arizona

The Opioid Epidemic is a Complex Issue

Many of those who develop opioid addiction are individuals who originally obtained their drugs legally through a doctor’s prescription. They may have obtained these drugs for a specific surgery or injury, or they may suffer from a chronic pain condition.

However, thanks to the highly addictive nature of opioids and their difficult withdrawal symptoms, going off of prescription drugs can prove challenging for many people. Additional factors, such as life stress and interpersonal relationship trouble, can contribute to the likelihood of developing an addiction. Once legal access to painkillers is ceased, some addicts may turn to buying their drugs off the street or switching to the comparatively cheaper illcit drug, heroin.

Since the 1990s, America has led the world in opioid prescriptions, and doctors have been known to write extensive prescriptions beyond what is actually necessary to deal with pain. For example, a patient might go to a dentist for a wisdom tooth removal and leave with a weeks-long supply of Vicodin, even though a milder painkiller would likely be just as effective after the first day or two. Having so many extra drugs left over creates opportunities for drug misuse and abuse.

Additionally, despite the real dangers posed by these drugs, prescription painkillers are often viewed by users as being safer than other kinds of drugs. There is less social stigma against taking prescription opioids, and people may not seek help for their dependency until the problem gets out of hand.

Opioids are also notoriously easy to overdose on. Drugs available on the street may not be as pure as what a user is accustomed to. They may be laced with stronger opioids, such as Fentanyl, or they may be in a higher concentration than the user is expecting. A person who has become habituated to a specific dose may also be extremely sensitive to that same dosage after a period without any drugs; when tolerance wanes, a previously safe dose can cause a deadly overdose.

A Holistic Look at Opioid Addiction

Because so many people get hooked on prescription drugs, one suggested solution to controlling the epidemic is to limit the amount of opioid drugs in circulation. That has been the suggestion of Dr. Cara Christ, Arizona’s head health official. Dr. Christ suggests heavy restrictions placed on opioid prescriptions, preventing doctors from prescribing more than are absolutely necessary.

Other solutions, such as the growing availability of the overdose-reversing drug NARCAN®, can help to reduce the amount of opioid-related deaths. However, these measures do not strike at the root of the problem. Being revived does not put an addict into recovery; without further treatment, the user may end up overdosing again in the future.

The reality is that drug addiction is complex, and no single solution will help to solve Arizona’s opioid crisis. While issues are being discussed and implemented on a policy level, it’s important for individuals to obtain the care and intervention that they need.

At Desert Cove Recovery we recognize that addiction is deeply personal and affects each person differently. We offer treatment programs that help people to get sober and stay that way by addressing the underlying causes and contributing factors to their addiction. For more information about our program, contact us today.

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.

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. Without the proper tools to recognize opioid overdose, a person abusing heroin or prescription pain meds can die or experience irreversible damage.

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 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 understanding the impact of addiction on 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.



Opioid Epidemic

Fentanyl’s Role in Opioid Epidemic

Study Confirms Fentanyl’s Role in Opioid Epidemic

The fentanyl epidemic in the United States is growing by the day, but because it is a relatively new additive, there is little research to compare the current situation with history. However, a recent study conducted by researchers at Boonshoft School of Medicine Center for Interventions, Treatment, and Addictions Research (CITAR) at Wright State University provides more concrete evidence about the fentanyl problem in this country. This is important because in order to reduce the number of people who ingest this powerful drug, there needs to be evidence of its growth and education about what fentanyl is and how to avoid its use.

What is Fentanyl and Why is it So Dangerous?

Fentanyl is a pharmaceutical drug that is 50 to 100 times more powerful than morphine. Most commonly, the drug is prescribed to cancer patients, but is also given in hospital settings to combat major pain issues. Regarding abuse, fentanyl has gained popularity with drug dealers because of increased potency when it is combined with heroin. Due to inadequate testing procedures, many experts believe that a greater number of overdose fatalities involved fentanyl than previously reported.

Heroin dealers are now mixing fentanyl into the supply in order to create a stronger, more intense high and to increase profits. But, because of this new combination, more addicts are suffering from fatal overdoses. Other studies have shown that most opioid users are not aware that they are ingesting fentanyl, and actively try to stay away from the drug in an effort to avoid these types of overdoses. This goes against the suggestion that addicts will seek out fentanyl in order to get a stronger high. Further research has shown that many drug dealers are getting their hands on fentanyl not from legitimate hospitals or doctors, but from illegal labs that have mimicked the recipe.

“The findings of our study highlight the urgent need to include testing for fentanyl and fentanyl analogs as a part of standard toxicology panels for biological specimens used by substance abuse treatment centers, criminal justice institutions and medical providers. Communities also need to assure that sufficient supplies of naloxone doses are provided to first responders and distributed through community overdose prevention programs to mitigate the effects of opioid overdoses,” explained lead author of the study, Raminta Daniulaityte.

Long-Term Impact of Fentanyl 

While there are still more long-term studies that need to be conducted on the fentanyl problem, this is a step forward for medical professionals who are looking to educate addicts and the public on the dangers and prevalence of the drug.