Pharmaceutical firm Johnson & Johnson has been ordered to pay $572 million in damages to the state of Oklahoma after losing a lawsuit. The State claimed that the company had participated in a sales campaign that was described at trial as “false and dangerous” and that it was responsible for the opioid epidemic currently plaguing the US.
Lengthy Decision Blames Company for Drug Epidemic
Judge Thad Balkman wrote a 42-page decision in which he determined that the company was responsible for creating what has been described as “the worst drug epidemic in US history.” The judge said that the company was aggressive in its marketing practices, pushing false claims that narcotic pain medications weren’t addictive to physicians. It also used its own resources to provide funding for organizations and research that would actively promote narcotic use.
Johnson & Johnson to Pay for Treatment, Overdose Prevention Costs
The $572 million isn’t the entire amount of the judgment that Johnson & Johnson has been ordered to pay. In his decision, Judge Balkman made a provision for the $572 million as an initial payment. Other payments from the company to the state of Oklahoma will need to be negotiated to pay for the following:
• Treatment costs • Overdose prevention • Cost of combatting the Oklahoma epidemic in future years
The State has requested $17 billion in compensation from Johnson & Johnson. The company has announced it will appeal the judgment.
Opioid Manufacturers Face Hundreds of Lawsuits
This decision is a disappointment to other drug manufacturers, as well as medication distributors and pharmacies that have been named in over 2,000 legal actions by districts nationwide. They will find it much more difficult to argue that the blame for the opioid crisis, which has been responsible for more than 400,000 deaths in the past 20 years, solely on the physicians who prescribed the medications or the people who took them (whether they had a prescription or not).
Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter also filed a lawsuit against Purdue Pharma, the company which produced OxyContin. This opioid pain medication is considered to have had a major role in starting the opioid epidemic in the 1990s. Purdue and Oklahoma reached a settlement for $270 million without having to go to trial; however, the company has to defend itself against several hundred other legal actions.
Increases in Opioid Overdoses in Arizona Lead to Spike in Organ Donations
In recent years, drug and opioid overdoses in Arizona have steadily risen. Interestingly enough, so have organ donations. Seeking help from an opioid addiction treatment center today can help lower your risk of becoming another statistic.
So, What is the Connection?
It was once thought that harvesting organs from an individual who suffered from an opioid or drug addiction while they were alive, held too many risks for the patient who would receive said organs. However, researchers have confirmed through recent studies that prove organs from drug-addicted individuals have almost the same transplant success rates as organs from overall healthy individuals.
With the recent spike in opioid-related deaths, there has also been a spike in organ donations, creating a tragic but hopeful realization. With the increase of overdose deaths, comes the increase of new life opportunities to patients waiting for new organs.
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If There is So Much Hope Found in These Studies, Why is This Seemingly Taboo?
First off, the opioid epidemic is a newer issue facing, not only in Arizona, but The United States as a whole. A recent study done by investigators at the University of Utah Health found that currently 110,000 people across the United States are lingering on organ transplant waiting lists. However, the increase in the opioid epidemic has paved the way for unexpected opportunities in increases of organ availability for donation.
The Annals of Medicine found that a major rise of organ donors who’s death occurred due to an overdose rose up to 13.4% in 2017, compared to the meager 1.1% that it was at in 2000. In Arizona alone, opioid-related deaths have seen a 74 percent increase in the last four years. These numbers suggests that with the rise in organ donations from drug-related overdoses, it could significantly improve our country’s organ shortage. Unfortunately, it also shows that there were a great many organs from opioid overdoses in Arizona that went unused before 2017, which could have saved numerous lives.
While these statistics are encouraging, there is a big question that remains.
Are These Organs Safe to Use For Transplants?
Up until recent years, it was not common practice for medical professionals to accept the use of organs from drug-induced deaths, as there were legitimate concerns for the success of the transplant and the patient who received it.
During an overdose, an individual can experience a drop in blood pressure, which reduces the supply of oxygen and holds the potential to affect the organs negatively. There have also been, and still are, potential risks of infection such as hepatitis C. Although there can be a slightly higher risk of those organs having hepatitis C, at only a 30% risk, it still scares off both medical professionals and patients. Recipients of these donors have shown through testing that patient and graft survival rates remain within the same percentage as those recipients who received organs from trauma or medical deaths.
Dr. Christine Durand from Johns Hopkins Medical School in Baltimore has done numerous studies on this topic and states that; “While it is natural for patients to be concerned when they hear that an organ has an increased risk of infection, the tests for the disease are so effective that the risk is low — for HIV, it is around one in 10 000. For hepatitis C, there is a cure available to treat the recipient if an infection is passed on.”
While these studies were created to better understand the effects these specific types of transplants can have on the receiver, they also stand to offer more insight and knowledge for the patient. Even though having an organ transplant surgery is often necessary to continue having a quality of life, it can still be a daunting thing for any patient to consider. The topic can weigh even heavier when the fear of receiving an organ from a former drug user could mean. The United Network for Organ Sharing policy requires that patients be fully aware of any circumstances of potentially higher risk donations so they can best decide whether or not to accept it.
Opioid Addiction Treatment Can Help Prolong Your Life
While the spike in organ transplants is good news, the method to which they have become so readily available is not. An organ comes with a story unique and all its own. This new organ could hold the potential for a fresh start, a promise for a continued journey, and the hope of a healthy and happy life.
But, even before those organs are given to someone else, the person struggling with addiction has options available to them so that they don’t become another number in these staggering statistics.
If opioid addiction is prevalent in an individual’s life, they have ways to begin moving forward and beginning recovery today. There are numerous opioid addiction treatment centers within Arizona that offer a multitude of treatment options and programs. Don’t let the numbers and addiction dictate the journey. Make the decision for a chance at a new beginning today by calling Desert Cove Recovery.
Ibogaine treatment has seen a rise in popularity in recent years, specifically when it comes to opioid addiction treatment. There are many claims made regarding the success rates of Ibogaine treatment, which uses a psychoactive compound found in several different plants to facilitate a detox experience for patients addicted to a wide-range of substances. While this treatment seems to show promise, it is important to be aware of the potential risks involved in undergoing this largely unproven and untested form of addiction treatment. Before diving into this treatment method, it’s important to answer the question: is Ibogaine safe?
The Trap of the Magic Pill Mindset
In the battle to overcome addiction, it can be tempting to believe that a simple magic pill or treatment will be the answer to the problem. Unfortunately, addiction is often the result of many factors in one’s life. Whether it be trauma, a genetic predisposition to certain substances, social influences, or other co-occurring disorders, addiction can stem from many root causes, something which a simple treatment modality such as Ibogaine will not fully address.
To quote from Harvard Medical School professor Dr. Bertha Madras: “People think there is going to be a magic pill that’s going to erase addiction, and that’s just not reality. What they should not be desperate for is a quick fix.” While certain treatment methods can be useful in the process of overcoming addiction, a holistic, multi-faceted approach is the recommended way to address an addiction, as it will incorporate each issue which is contributing to the dependence.
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The Dangers of Ibogaine Treatment
Ibogaine has been promoted recently as an alternative therapy to traditional methods, specifically as an option for opioid addiction treatment. Some medical professionals believe that Ibogaine inhibits the reuptake of serotonin, and that it can not only prevent a person from experiencing dangerous withdrawals, but that it can also reduce a person’s desire to use the substance again.
It is claimed that the spiritual aspects of this substance induce a sense of introspection which also leads to relief from addictive cravings, as a person will have an increased degree of perspective after their Ibogaine experience. This is the result of the fact that Ibogaine is an intense, hallucinogenic drug that can last up to 24 hours. Ibogaine can cause physical responses such as dry mouth, nausea and vomiting, muscle coordination issues, as well as extreme levels of dehydration.
In addition to the physical symptoms a person may experience as a result of taking Ibogaine, the drug can also bring on intense emotional reactions, many of which can be difficult for some individuals to process. If a practitioner is not able to effectively help guide a patient through their experience, Ibogaine can become a terrifying experience, fraught with uncertainty and unclear solutions.
An Uncertain, Unproven Treatment for Addiction
While Ibogaine seems to show promise as a treatment option for addiction, there is simply not enough data to say for sure whether this is a reliable and effective modality. A patient who decides to take the chance and try Ibogaine as a method for curing their addiction must rely on a certain degree of faith, as there is an absence of proven, time-tested evidence to fall back on in terms of how effective this drug is.
Because Ibogaine is listed as a schedule 1 drug in the United States, there are no Ibogaine clinics available stateside where a person can seek treatment. Instead, individuals are forced to go to Mexico and other countries where Ibogaine is allowed, but still not has heavily regulated as it would be in the US. While some clinics may claim to offer a trusted, safe environment for patients to detox within while using Ibogaine, this process is undoubtedly risky and involves a great level of inconvenience for the person who decides to go this route.
In order to answer the question: is Ibogaine safe, we must look at the potential risks inherent in this treatment option. According to a study conducted by the National Institutes of Health, Ibogaine affects the cardiovascular system and there have been alarming reports of life-threatening complications, as well as sudden death cases associated with the administration of Ibogaine. The most likely cause of these sudden death cases was cardiac arrhythmias, showcasing the potential downsides which can impact a patient if they don’t consider all of their current health conditions.
Is Ibogaine Safe?
Ibogaine is an unknown, mostly untested treatment option which has a long way to go before it can be considered a safe option for patients seeking relief from their drug addiction. The most effective treatment options are always those that address the confluence of factors which can make up the reasons for why a person becomes addicted. Magic pills are an intriguing idea to entertain, but the truth is that they are simply not a realistic outcome for people seeking relief from their addiction.
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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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.
Arizona Rehabs Discuss the History of Opioid Addiction
There’s no doubt that our country is in the throws of a crisis. How did opioid addiction begin? Let’s take a look at the history of opioid addiction and how Arizona rehabs are trying to help.
There is reliable evidence of opium use as far back as 3,400 B.C. The opium poppy was called “joy plant,” and it spread from Mesopotamia to Assyria, Egypt and the Mediterranean. In 460 B.C., Hippocrates acknowledged its usefulness. Alexander the Great introduced it to Persia and India, and Arab traders took it to China. The Opium Wars were fought in China from 1839 to 1860.
Opium’s power to alleviate pain has resulted in thousands of years of abuse. In modern history, famous opiate users who battled addiction include Charles Dickens, Edgar Allan Poe, Florence Nightingale, Billie Holiday, Janis Joplin, Elvis Presley and River Phoenix.
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The History of Opioid Addiction in the U.S.
Opiates are an unfortunate part of American history. With the advent of synthetic opioids, the problem only got worse:
The armies on both sides of the American Revolutionary War gave wounded soldiers opium. In his final years, Benjamin Franklin took it for a painful bladder stone that had tormented him for years.
Morphine was first isolated in 1803, and Merck & Co. took over commercial production in 1827.
Morphine and other opiates were widely used by the time of the Civil War. An alarming number of veterans were hopelessly hooked following the conflict.
Heroin was first made from morphine in 1874. As a cough suppressant, it was hailed as a wonder drug. Bayer Corp. launched it commercially in 1898. Heroin increased in popularity when users discovered that injecting the drug enhanced its effects.
Doctors were alarmed by climbing rates of drug addiction in the early 1920s. Heroin was made illegal in 1924.
World War II gave rise to nerve block clinics; anesthesiologists administered injections to treat pain without surgery. The clinics operated during the ‘50s and ‘60s.
President Gerald Ford set up a task force to study drug addiction in the 1970s. The focus shifted from marijuana and cocaine trafficking to the heroin epidemic.
Painkillers like Percocet and Vicodin were already becoming a problem by the late ‘70s. Many doctors were reluctant to prescribe them.
Dr. Hershel Jick of Boston University School of Medicine disagreed there was a problem. After analyzing almost 12,000 patients who’d been treated with narcotics, Jick concluded that addiction to opioids was rare in patients with no history of substance abuse. A pain-management specialist, Dr. Russell Portenoy, studied 38 patients six years later and also declared that opioid maintenance therapy was safe.
The two studies sparked a discussion that lasted into the early 1990s. Pain management became a priority for patients.
Every year in the early 1990s, the number of prescriptions for painkillers increased by 2 to 3 million. Then, from 1995 to 1996, the one-year increase was 8 million.
Purdue Pharma launched OxyContin in 1996. One year later, prescriptions of all opioid painkillers on the market increased by 11 million.
The Joint Commission is a nonprofit group that accredits medical facilities. In 2000, as part of doctors’ required continuing education, the commission published a book that cited studies in which there was “no evidence that addiction is a significant issue when persons are given opioids for pain control.” It expressed the opinion that doctors’ concerns about addiction were “inaccurate and exaggerated.”
The book was sponsored by Purdue Pharma.
Dr. David W. Baker with the Joint Commission later remarked, “There is no doubt that the widely held belief that short-term use of opioids had low risk of addiction was an important contributor to inappropriate prescribing patterns for opioids and the subsequent opioid epidemic.”
Purdue Pharma was charged in 2007 with misbranding and downplaying OxyContin’s high potential for addiction. Three executives pleaded guilty, and Purdue settled with the government for $635 million.
In 2010, the manufacturers of OxyContin released a new formula that contained an abuse deterrent. It was supposed to be more difficult to crush, inject or snort the product. According to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, 24 percent of abusers reported being able to get around the tamper-resistant measures. One participant in the study said that most former OxyContin users had switched to heroin. It was cheaper and easier to get.
Portenoy, one of the doctors who insisted in the 1980s that opioid therapy was safe, later said, “Clearly if I had an inkling of what I know now then, I wouldn’t have spoken in the way that I spoke. It was clearly the wrong thing to do.”
In 2016, the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention began taking steps to address the opioid crisis.
As of 2018, several states, including Florida, Nevada, North Carolina, North Dakota, Tennessee and Texas, have sued pharmaceutical companies for their role in the epidemic. Cities that have sued include Chicago, Cincinnati, Dallas, Indianapolis and Seattle.
How Arizona Rehabs Can Help
The history of opioid addiction is a grim one. Substance abuse is a serious brain disease that affects people with all different backgrounds.
Getting clean for good requires professional help. Like many other Arizona rehabs, we at Discovery Cove Recovery are committed to helping people like you reclaim their lives. Call today to speak to an experienced, caring staff member.
How to End the Opioid Crisis – Opioid Addiction Treatment Arizona
According to the CDC, more than 33,000 people died from opioid overdoses in the United States in 2015. Every year, the steadily worsening opioid epidemic poses an economic burden of more than $78.5 billion, which includes costs that are associated with criminal justice activity, health care, addiction treatment and lost productivity. Oftentimes it feels like little or nothing is being done about it. However, many people have ideas about how to end the opioid crisis. The question is which of these proposed solutions will actually put a dent in the problem. Desert Cove Recovery, opioid addiction treatment in Arizona, takes a look at how to end the opioid crisis.
How Did We Get To the Opioid Crisis?
Starting around the late 1990s, pharmaceutical companies looking to peddle opioid painkillers assured the medical community that they wouldn’t lead to widespread addiction. We now know how wrong they were, of course; in no time, as opioids flooded the market, they became increasingly diverted away from people who were legally prescribed them, and misuse became rampant and widespread. When efforts were made to curb their availability, many people simply switched over to illegal drugs like heroin. In 2018, an average of 115 people die from an opioid overdose in this country every day. Read on to learn about some of the ideas for putting an end to the opioid crisis. Continued after video:
Education about Addiction
Turning a blind eye to a problem is a surefire way to cause it spiral even more out of control, so education could very well be the key to curbing the opioid crisis. The primary goal of education would be to limit the spread of the epidemic by raising awareness about the risks of using opioids. This education should extend beyond the general public to be directed at physicians as well. Many doctors, for example, could benefit enormously from learning more about safely prescribing such medications.
Prescription Opioid Medication
People who aren’t informed about the issue often scoff at the notion of prescribing yet more medication to someone who is coping with an opioid addiction. However, medication-assisted treatment has been shown to be very effective for helping addicts to achieve long-term sobriety from these highly addictive substances. Sometimes referred to as replacement or maintenance therapy treatment, the use of medications like methadone and buprenorophine has been shown to reduce the risk of relapse, which tends to be quite common among those who quit “cold turkey.”
Early Intervention for Opioid Addiction
Another potential key to ending this ongoing crisis is to find help for people as early in the addiction cycle as possible. The sooner people seek treatment, the easier and more effective their results tend to be. A huge part of this will depend on education and raising awareness. If society at large starts being more open about the signs of opioid addiction, for example, it would be easier for people to recognize it in themselves—and they would be more likely to seek treatment sooner. It should also be noted that increasing the availability of medications like naloxone, which reverse overdoses, would also help enormously. Naloxone helps not only by saving lives but by potentially assisting those who have overdosed to seek treatment.
Even when a person realizes that they have an opioid addiction, it isn’t always very easy or obvious to know where to turn for help. Increasing the availability of accessible, holistic, evidence-based treatment would streamline the process of reaching out for help when needed. This also means cracking down on treatment facilities that do little or nothing to truly help people overcome addictions. For example, more facilities could be required to employ doctors who are certified by the American Society of Addiction Medicine. Someone shouldn’t have such difficulty locating opioid addiction treatment Arizona or anywhere else.
End the Stigma of Opioid Addiction
Finally, perhaps the best way to turn the tide of the devastating opioid crisis would be to end the stigma that continues to shroud addiction. Although major strides have been made in that regard over the last few decades, there is still a lot of stigma attached to being open about having an addiction. This unfortunately makes it more difficult for people to seek treatment—or even to admit that they have a problem in the first place. Once again, education will play a major role in ending this stigma, so adding information about addiction to school curricula, for example, could be a step in the right direction.
In trying to put an end to the opioid crisis, it’s crucial not to overlook the most important thing of all: the addicts themselves. At the end of the day, the primary goal of this battle will continue to be getting help for those who need it. If you believe that you are addicted to opioids, it’s important to understand that help is available. Our opioid addiction treatment Arizona facility is here to help you take the first step, so give us a call today.
Everyone’s experience with addiction is different. Likewise, everyone’s path toward recovery is unique. When it comes to overcoming an addiction to opiates, seeking outside help is a must. For that help to be effective, a treatment plan that is tailored to suit the needs of the individual patient is essential. Rehab facilities have many tools at their disposal, and one of the best ones for assessing a patient’s opiate withdrawal symptoms and experiences is something called the Clinical Opiate Withdrawal Scale. Read on to learn more about this useful tool and how it is used to help people overcome serious addictions.
Often abbreviated simply as COWS, the Clinical Opiate Withdrawal Scale is an 11-point scale that is used to rate common symptoms and signs of opiate withdrawal. Unlike the Subjective Opiate Withdrawal Scale, or SOWS, which is a self-reporting tool, it is designed to be administered by a clinician. Each of the 11 listed symptoms are given a score on a scale of 0 to 5, with 5 representing the most severe manifestation of the symptom in question. The patient’s score is then tallied and used to determine a tailored opioid withdrawal treatment plan.
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Which Signs and Symptoms are Assessed on the Scale?
Inpatient and outpatient treatment centers alike have numerous tools at their disposal for helping patients to withdraw safely from opiates. In particular, medications like buprenorphine and suboxone are often prescribed to help manage the most severe and uncomfortable symptoms. In turn, patients are less likely to relapse due to severe discomfort. However, to be effective, these medications must be administered at strategic points in the withdrawal process. The COWS scale is the primary tool that clinicians use to determine not only which medications should be used but when they should be administered.
The 11 signs and symptoms that are assessed on the COWS scale are:
1. Resting pulse rate – The patient’s pulse is monitored regularly. A resting pulse of 80 or below is given a score of zero while a resting pulse of 120 or higher is given a score of five.
2. Gastrointestinal upset – Symptoms may range from none to multiple episodes of vomiting and diarrhea.
3. Sweating – This symptom may not be present at all. On the other end, sweat may be streaming from the face or body.
4. Tremors – Tremors may not be present, or they may be severe enough to interfere with a patient’s ability to speak or move.
5. Restlessness – On the COWS scale, this symptom may not be present at all. In the worst case, the patient may be unable to sit still for more than a few seconds at a time.
6. Yawning – No yawning may be happening at all, or it may be happening as frequently as several times per minute.
7. Pupil size – Pupils may be pin-sized when exposed to light, or they may be extremely dilated on the more severe end of the scale.
8. Irritability and anxiety – Someone experiencing opioid withdrawals may show no sign of anxiety or irritability at all, or they may be so anxious or irritable that they struggle to participate in the assessment.
9. Bone and joint aches – This symptom can range from very mild to so severe that the patient is constantly rubbing their joints and unable to sit still.
10. Gooseflesh skin – Skin may be smooth on one end of the scale or look like gooseflesh on the other.
11. Teary eyes and runny nose – These symptoms may be missing entirely, or the eyes and nose may run constantly on the more severe end of the scale.
Benefits of the COWS Scale
After assessing the patient for each of the 11 symptoms, their score is tallied to determine how severe their withdrawal is. A score of 5 to 12 represents mild withdrawal while a score of 36 or higher represents severe withdrawal. Clinicians may use other scales in conjunction with COWS to gain an even clearer understanding of a patient’s current state; the Buprenorphine Administration Scale, for example, is often used in conjunction with COWS to determine effective doses of that medication as well as when to administer it. With many medications, introducing them too early can have the opposite effect, which can lead to a longer and more difficult withdrawal period.
Are You Looking for Opiate Addiction Treatment?
If you are coping with an addiction to opiates and are ready to regain your freedom from substance abuse, it’s important to understand that help is absolutely vital—and it is readily available. Detoxing from the drug is the first step, and the right inpatient or outpatient treatment program will use the COWS scale or other proven tools to determine the best-individualized plan for you. Once detoxing is over, you will be free to begin the real work of addiction recovery and to take the first steps toward a lifetime of sober living.
Length of Opioid Prescriptions and Opioid Addiction
Every day, people who were only seeking a little pain relief unwittingly become addicted to opioids.
Most get prescriptions from their doctors following surgery or an injury. Many seek relief for ongoing back pain. Some borrow pills from friends just to take the edge off after a stressful day at work. None ever plan on getting hooked.
In 2016, 66% of all fatal drug overdoses in the U.S. involved an opioid. What was only an area of concern in the late ‘90s is now a full-blown crisis.
If you’re worried about your opioid habit, you may have reached out to us just in time. Keep reading to find out how your lawmakers and the professional caregivers at Desert Cove Recovery can help you.
The idea behind shorter prescriptions is to take unnecessary pills out of circulation. Limiting doses will result in less potential for abuse. Even people who use painkillers responsibly fail to properly dispose of the extras; stockpiles in home medicine cabinets are tempting.
Finding the magic number is no easy task. In the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines, the recommended length of opioid prescription is three to seven days. Some experts challenge those numbers, pointing out that they are far too conservative for major surgeries like hysterectomies. They also argue that unreasonably short prescriptions will only prompt patients to get refills.
There’s no easy fix, but the opioid addiction crisis has everyone’s attention. That’s a good thing.
Understanding Opioid Addiction
Prescription opioids are closely related to morphine, codeine and heroin. Commonly used opioids include methadone, hydrocodone and fentanyl. One of the most frequently prescribed remedies, oxycodone, is twice as powerful as morphine.
Synthetic opioids attach to receptors in the brain so that your perception of pain is altered. If you have a legitimate need for them on a short-term basis, they’re a godsend. However, they have great potential for becoming addictive.
Synthetic Opioids are Addictive
Dopamine is a natural feel-good chemical that gives you a warm sense of pleasure and reward when you’re enjoying yourself. In mentally healthy people, it’s always at just the right dose.
In addition to relieving pain, opioids signal your brain to increase production of dopamine. The excess might result in a rush of intense euphoria. There’s a severe letdown when the sensation wears off.
People become addicted to opioids when they try to duplicate that initial high by increasing the dose or combining pills with other drugs like alcohol. The body quickly builds tolerance, and the vicious cycle of addiction begins.
You may have an opioid addiction if you’ve experienced even one of these symptoms:
Taking opioids after your pain has subsided
Taking higher doses than prescribed
Taking opioids that aren’t prescribed to you
Trying without success to stop
Using opioids recreationally
Combining opioids with other substances
Craving opioids when you’re not using them
Lying about opioid use
Becoming defensive when friends or family members express concern
Sleeping during waking hours
Experiencing irritability, mood swings or depression
Your chances of becoming addicted are significantly higher if you have a mental problem such as depression, anxiety or eating disorder. You’re also at greater risk if anyone in your family struggles with substance abuse. Traumatic events in your past, like divorce, domestic violence or rape, will also make you more susceptible to opioid addiction.
Getting Help for Addiction
Substance abuse can start with one bad decision, but after that, the painkillers take over. Like other drugs, they teach your brain to crave them.
Drug addiction is a chronic disease with no cure, but it can be managed just like asthma or diabetes can. Just as people become addicted every day, people start to recover every day.
Choosing Desert Cove Recovery for Help With Opioid Addiction
Our caregivers at Desert Cove Recovery have years of experience with people just like you. Our comprehensive treatment plans utilize time-tested approaches that help recovering addicts stay clean for good:
The 12-step model
Cognitive behavioral therapy
Individual and family counseling
Holistic approaches such as prayer, meditation, yoga, art, music or massage
Exercise classes and outdoor activities
With professional help, you can break free from the grip of opiate addiction. Call Desert Cove Recovery today to speak with a caring counselor. We’ll tailor a unique treatment plan that’s just right for you.
The news is bleak and the numbers are staggering. Opioid use in the United States has been on a sharp incline over the past two decades. The number of fatalities, however, how increased at an exponential rate since the late 1990’s. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control, the number of overdose fatalities has:
Increased five-fold since 1999
Doubled since 2010
Soared by 25% since last year
And there seems to be no end in sight. The deaths from opioid use have reached and remain at record levels throughout much of the nation.
These are devastating blows to communities where addiction has reached epidemic levels. Closer to home, addiction can be shattering to both the individual and their family. Although the causes of the increased use to opioids are many, myths of opioid addiction can exasperate efforts to make progress on the issue. Here are just three myths and rumors not only causing hysteria, but barriers to real solutions.
Similar to other addictions, supplementing the natural detoxification process with FDA-approved medications, medical assistance, and counseling dramatically increase success rates. One key component is implementing behavioral health management.
Breaking addictions is a two-pronged process. On one side, the body must be prepared and properly nourished for the physical toll which accompanies detoxification. On the other, mental fortitude is necessary to endure psychological effects individuals will experience. For both, self-detoxification not only can be ineffective, it may put an addict into a worse state than before.
Myth #2: Opioids Are the Most Effective Chronic Pain Drug
Working as well as other drugs, opioids have a unique quality. They can actually increase an individual’s tolerance to pain over time. As the pain tolerance rises, so too are the potential negative effects of opioid use including addiction, cardiac arrest, and other threatening outcomes.
There are many less expensive but just as effective non-opioid medications on the market today. From ibuprofen and acetaminophen to lidocaine and capsaicin, patients should have discussions with their physician about alternatives.
And beyond pills, chronic pain sufferers should explore other options, with the guidance of licensed providers. For example, simple steps such as increased exercise and a healthy diet can go a long way to reducing pain symptoms. Alternative treatments may also be effective. Spinal manipulation, acupuncture, and electric stimulation therapy are methods gaining attention in not only managing but reducing chronic pain.
Myth #3: Some is Good, More is Better
We’ve all heard the saying “less is more.” Debates go on as to how true this statement may be in our daily lives. But when it comes to opioid use, more almost never is better.
Physicians are still learning how the human body regulates pain. There are a number of receptors involved and only a few of them react to opiates. When a low to moderate dose of opioid is effective, higher doses will likely provide no further improvement. This is because as the opioid dosage increases, the body’s ability to use them doesn’t change. The result is the body is left with an overage of the drug which the body must work overtime to flush out while increasing the body’s resistance.
Often it is a better course of action to supplement the effective low to moderate opioid dose with a different type of medication. Two together may work better than either one alone, without the negative side effects. Of course, always discuss with your doctor or pharmacist about taking more than one medication at one time. This includes seemingly innocuous medicines such as cough syrups and common over the counter medications.
Understand the Signs of Opioid Addiction
As a close family member, it would be easy to believe you would know if a loved one was addicted to opioids. But for a handful of reasons this often is not the case.
Opioid addicts will attempt to hide their addiction from family and friends. Unlike other addictions, opioid users do not have as many telltale signs of addictions. Usually only in the most severe cases will physical and behavioral changes become apparent.
However, one area which may raise a red flag are changes in social behavior. When abusing drugs, users will cut themselves off from social media, avoid phone calls, and not respond to texts. Small talk may become almost non-existent. And interest in others can disappear.
If you suspect someone you care about may have a problem, 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. By eliminating the myths of opioid addiction and showing the way to recovery, we can help to reduce the effects of the opioid crisis.
If you were to ask most recovering heroin addicts about their past choices, they would probably say that they would have never touched the drug if they had known the way it would affect them over the long run. When the cravings are at their worst, people will do anything they can to get their next dose, turning to crime to pay for the habit. Addicts often sell drugs to others so that they won’t run out of money, and that is why the heroin crisis is spreading across the nation like a plague.
The cost on society is much higher than most people would suspect, totaling around $193 billion. The government has to pay to investigate, prosecute and incarcerate those who commit heroin-related crimes, but the public pays for treatment and rehabilitation for those who are on public assistance. Also, many people lose their jobs because of their heroin addiction and are required to sign up for welfare programs, which further strains local, state and federal funds.
With the problem getting worse each day, many are now asking who should pay for the harm heroin has done to the nation. Getting everyone to agree won’t be an easy task, but we need to review the facts and find a solution that will repair the damage and allow us to move forward.
Continued after video…
Pharmaceutical Companies’ Role in the Opioid Epidemic
If you follow the trail of addiction far enough, you will find that many addicts once took prescription painkillers. People would get injured, go to the doctor and receive a prescription for opioid medications to ease the pain. After a few weeks or months, doctors wean patients off the pain medications so that they will no longer need them. By the time their doctors stop writing new prescriptions, many people have already become addicted.
Without a legitimate source of opioids, former patients often look to the streets to satisfy their cravings and stop the withdrawal symptoms. Some evidence suggests that major pharmaceutical companies knew about the danger and still opted to push their drugs to the public. Many people think that the drug manufacturers and marketers should help pay for the damage. Those who disagree with the stance say addicts only have themselves to blame.
Since the people designed the government to protect and serve the citizens, some say that it should pay for the cost of the opioid crisis. Government-funded rehabilitation centers that focus on treatment instead of punishment could have a positive impact on the nation.
Addicts would not fear prosecution and would be much more willing to seek help. Although the government would face some upfront costs, a lot of advocates believe this method is much cheaper over the long run. Critics argue that the government should not use taxpayer dollars to save people from the trap into which they have fallen.
When it comes to finding a solution to the opioid epidemic that has already harmed many lives, some people say that nonprofit organizations should cover the bill. A lot of nonprofits have many connections and deep pockets that would allow them to set up treatment centers and cover the cost of overdose medications. Even though some charities offer their support, involving a few more organizations would take their results to new heights. On the other hand, some believe that nonprofit organizations should focus on assisting people who have diseases over which they have no control.
Since heroin addicts are responsible for the situation in which they have found themselves, they should pay for the fallout, according to some people. The argument is that heroin users had chosen to use opioids and to allow their lives to spiral out of control. The ones who don’t agree with that stance state that most heroin users have lost their jobs and homes, making them unable to pay for the damage.
Families of Drug Users
A lot of individuals feel as though a drug addict’s family should pay for the damage the drug addict has caused to society. Since they believe family members should help and support each other, they conclude that they should also pay for medical treatment, overdose medication and other expenses related to the opioid crisis.
From their perspective, family members should have spotted the warning signs and helped the addict before it was too late to find an easy answer. Others maintain that people are responsible for their own choices, so we should not hold family members accountable for an addict’s behavior.
Getting Help for Opioid Addiction
If you or someone you love is battling a heroin addiction, getting help quickly is vital, and we are here to give you a hand. We take time to get to know each client so that we can craft a treatment plan that will provide the best possible odds of success. If you have concerns, questions or are ready to start, contact us at Desert Cove Recovery today.
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