Tag Archives: 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.

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.

Many Patients Receiving Treatment for Opioid Addictions Still Being Prescribed Painkillers

Opioid AddictionsA new study conducted by researchers at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health revealed a major problem with prescribing practices in several states throughout the country. It was discovered that many patients who were receiving prescriptions for buprenorphine to treat their opioid addictions were also receiving prescriptions for prescription painkillers at the same time.

According to information from eleven states, two in five patients that were using buprenorphine were also being prescribed prescription painkillers. Additionally, it was discovered that 66% of people who had completed treatment were also being prescribed painkillers within 12 months.

This shocking discovery only serves to highlight the obvious need for better prescribing practices, prescription drug monitoring programs and more education for doctors. “Policymakers may believe that people treated for opioid addiction are cured, but people with substance abuse disorders have a lifelong vulnerability, even if they are not actively using. Our findings highlight the importance of stable, ongoing care for these patients,” commented Dr. G. Caleb Alexander, study author.

Many experts agree with Dr. Alexander. Treatment has been found to be one of the most effective ways to overcome an addiction to opiates. However, many people struggle to find a treatment facility that is right for them. This is made even more difficult by the potential changes being implemented surrounding the Affordable Care Act, which helped increase access to treatment for more people.

There are many successful ways of treating opioid addiction, and using burprenorphine (Suboxone) as an aid to reduce withdrawal symptoms and cravings has proven to have multiple benefits. What this study shows is that the healthcare system in America has a long way to go to help fix the opioid crisis that appears to be continuing to escalate.

White House Announces More Funding to Combat Opioid Addiction

ondcpopiodcrisisLast week the Obama Administration shared the news about $53 million in additional funding to address opioid dependency and overdoses by expanding availability and use of naloxone, which is a drug that helps to reverse an opioid overdose. Although the money is very much appreciated and will definitely help save lives, it is only one of a few small grants that fall short from the $1.1 billion that President Obama asked from Congress.

White House Office of National Drug Control Policy director Michael Botticelli said that “simply reviving people isn’t enough to turn the tide of this epidemic.” He pleaded with legislators, indicating that they “must act to provide sufficient resources to make life-saving treatment available to everyone who seeks it.”

The announcement coincided with International Overdose Awareness Day, which aims to highlight the need for more education, prevention, intervention and treatment worldwide to save more lives from drug abuse. Currently there are approximately 100,000 people who die each year around the globe due overdoses, with nearly half of them coming from the United States alone.

Arizona is reportedly one of the states with the highest overdose rates, and will therefore receive additional funding for various treatments and medications, including buprenorphine. Although medications like naloxone and buprenorphine can be invaluable life-saving tools, rarely are they enough to solve the problem, as treatment must also include other valid forms of therapy to address the root causes of an individual’s substance abuse.

Desert Cove helps people from Arizona and around the country recover from addiction every day. If you or a loved one has a problem with opiates or any other substances, contact us today to find out more about how we can help.

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.

Doctors Issue New Guidelines for Treating Opioid Addiction

doctors studyingThe medical community is immersed in the prescription painkiller epidemic in two ways. On the front end, doctors are often the ones prescribing the drugs like Oxycontin, Percocet and Vicodin to patients. Medical professionals are essentially the gatekeepers of prescription painkillers and often have to decide if patients are in legitimate need of medication or if they are seeking the painkillers to feed their addictions.

Additionally, doctors are also charged with treating addicts who are seeking help for their substance abuse problems. Because of this two-fold interaction with the prescription painkiller problem, the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) gathered doctors from around the country to develop better policies for dealing with the painkiller epidemic.

The first problem that the group encountered was the insufficient training in addiction medicine for most doctors. While most physicians certainly understand the basic fundamentals of addiction, the nuances of treating this disease is considered a specialized form of medicine.

Doctors who are not familiar with addiction treatments often do not prescribe medication designed to help with drug withdrawals and detox, such as buprenorphine. While studies show that monitored use of drug replacement medications illicit better results in treatment, many doctors still consider this is replacing one dependency for another when used indefinitely. Suboxone is one of the most popular medications given to patients with a heroin or prescription painkiller addiction, ad currently only doctors who meet certain criteria are allowed to prescribe the medication.

Another problem that was discussed during the meeting was the lack of treatment facilities. Currently, state-run facilities oftentimes run at capacity, while private treatment centers are struggling to keep up with the demand. Doctors can contribute to the treatment problem by encouraging addicts to seek treatment, helping them locate appropriate treatment and staying up to date with the changing methods of treating addicts.

“We just don’t have enough specialty treatment facilities and expertise in this country to treat everyone. That’s why we need guidelines like this as part of a larger movement to help integrate treatment into general practice,” explained Christopher Jones from the Department of Health and Human Services.

These new guidelines are scheduled to be included in the new ASAM’s National Practice Guideline and will also be included in the CDC’s Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain coming out in the near future.