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suicide and opioid addiction dual diagnosis treatment centers

Suicide and Opioid Addiction – Linked Epidemics?

Suicide and Opioid Addiction – Linked Epidemics?

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

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

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

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

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

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suicide and opioid addiction linked dual diagnosis treatment centers

An Increasing Suicide Rate

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Exploding Use of Opioids

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Connecting Suicide and Opioid Addiction

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

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

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

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

The Role of Dual Diagnosis Treatment Centers

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

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

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

Arizona Rehabs Discuss the History of Opioid Addiction

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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History of Opioid Addiction arizona rehabs

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.

End the Opioid Crisis, Opioid Addiction Treatment Arizona

How to End the Opioid Crisis, Opioid Addiction Treatment Arizona

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.
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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.

Accessible Opioid Addiction Treatment Arizona Options

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.

clinical opiate withdrawal scale

What is the Clinical Opiate Withdrawal Scale?

What is the Clinical Opiate Withdrawal Scale?

Everyone’s experience of 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.

The Basics

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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Clinical Opiate Withdrawal Scale

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 prescription

Length of Opioid Prescriptions and Opioid Addiction

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.

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Limiting the Length of Opioid Prescription

In an effort to stop this epidemic, mental health experts and politicians want to limit the number of doses that patients can get at one time. Several states have passed laws on prescription lengths. The CVS pharmacy chain recently announced that it will only dispense seven days’ worth of opioids at a time.

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.

That’s why lawmakers are so concerned about doctors over-prescribing painkillers. The practice results in millions of loose pills being abused or falling into the wrong hands.

Are You Addicted?

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
  • Group meetings
  • Holistic approaches such as prayer, meditation, yoga, art, music or massage
  • Exercise classes and outdoor activities
  • Nutritional instruction

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.

 

 

myths of opioid addiction

Myths of Opioid Addiction 

Myths of Opioid Addiction 

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. 

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3 myths of opioid addiction

Myth #1: Opioid Addicts Can Detox On Their Own

Detox, short for detoxification, is the process of a drug user or alcoholic allowing the body to naturally cleanse itself. On the surface, this method may appear to be a leading solution for an opioid addict. However, “detox” is only part of the process of breaking an opioid addiction.

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

This may be perhaps one of the most common myths of opioid addiction. With the sheer number of opioid prescriptions written each year, one would believe this is indeed true. But it’s not. There have been studies which have shown opioids perhaps could be the worst drugs available for chronic pain.

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.

 

 

pay for the opioid crisis

Who’s Going to Pay for the Opioid Crisis?

Who’s Going to Pay for 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.

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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.

The Government

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.

Nonprofit Organizations

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.

Drug Users

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.

12 step rehab

How 12 Step Rehab Works

Will 12 Step Rehab Work for Me?

The 12 step method is considered by many addiction experts to be the best help for long-term addiction recovery. However, it is not without controversy.

Keep reading to get a better understanding of this groundbreaking approach and find out why millions of people in recovery still trust it.

How the 12 Steps Started

Alcoholics Anonymous was founded in Ohio in 1935 by Bill Wilson, a recovering alcoholic, and Dr. Robert Holbrook Smith. AA was based on this premise: When it comes to staying sober, there is strength in numbers. Alcoholics from all walks of life began meeting to share their struggles, celebrate their successes and lean on one another throughout the journey to recovery.

The 12 steps were established in 1946. Originally, the steps emphasized the importance of surrendering one’s addiction to a higher power for healing and restoration. AA also embraced the Serenity Prayer, which was penned by the American theologian Reinhold Niebuhr:

“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

Throughout AA’s history, nonreligious people have objected to its heavy emphasis on spirituality. As a result, the language in many 12 step models has been amended to accommodate people from a myriad of belief systems. References to the presence of God are open to a wide variety of interpretations. Even atheists can use the basic principles for guidance.

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12 Step Sponsors

Sponsorship is also an important feature. Newcomers navigate the 12 steps alongside someone who has already worked through them and is successfully staying sober. Sponsors are typically available for questions, intervention or encouragement almost 24/7.

Another benefit is the ability to learn from others who are farther along on the journey. New members can pick up coping skills and tips for avoiding relapse from seasoned group members. There is also a compassionate atmosphere of accountability without judgment.

12 Step for Addiction Treatment

Over the years, the success of AA has spawned hundreds of other organizations for people with all kinds of addictions. Groups exist for those who struggle with drug abuse, gambling, overeating, hoarding and even addiction to using credit cards. The 12 basic steps are applicable to almost any struggle.

Nationwide, membership in groups that use the model is estimated in the millions. Many fellowships cater to specific demographic groups such as veterans, men or women only, gay people, clergy or seniors. You name it, and there’s probably a 12 step group for it somewhere.

If you talk to recovering alcoholics about the 12 step program, you may start to see a funny pattern. Many express mixed or negative feelings about going to meetings week after week or year after year. However, they grudgingly admit that attendance keeps them sober. When the choice is continued participation or relapse, many people choose to stay involved.

What Are the 12 Steps?

According to the website 12step.org, this is the most current version of the original 12 traditions:

  1. Admit powerlessness over addiction.
  2. Find hope through a higher power or higher goal.
  3. Turn the power to manage life over to the higher power.
  4. Analyze the self and behaviors objectively, described as taking a moral inventory.
  5. Share the results of the analysis with another person or the higher power.
  6. Prepare to allow the higher power to remove the negative aspects discovered in the analysis.
  7. Ask the higher power for these negative aspects to be removed.
  8. Make a list of wrongs done to others.
  9. Make amends for those wrongs as long as it is not harmful to the recipient to do so.
  10. Make self-analysis, removal of faults and amends regular practices.
  11. Meditate or pray for the continued ability to recover.
  12. Help others in need to go through the same process.

Each of the 12 steps expresses an essential value for healing. Working through them one by one empowers addicts to manage their disease and regain control of their lives.

Again, there are many alternative 12 step organizations for people who oppose the idea of God or a higher power.

12 Step Rehab

Around 75 percent of treatment programs incorporate the 12 step philosophy in some form. Most experts recommend the 12 step approach as an established, methodical process for understanding and managing addiction.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse endorses the 12 step premise that addiction cannot be cured and that preventing recurrences is a lifelong process. A study published in the Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment found that the 12 step method perfectly complements therapies geared toward changing thought patterns and behavior.

Like many other treatments, 12 step is most effective as part of a comprehensive program that incorporates other proven methods. Here are just a few treatments that can be supported by the 12 step philosophy:

  • Detox
  • Cognitive behavior therapy
  • Motivational incentives
  • Holistic methods
  • Family counseling
  • Long-term aftercare

Most people who have an addiction also have at least one other mental disorder. This is called dual diagnosis. Treating both conditions at once is far more effective than treating them separately. A study of 12 step programs published in the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs found them beneficial in treating dual diagnosis.

If you need help deciding on the best treatment plan, call Desert Cove Recovery today to speak with an experienced counselor.

Adderall Abuse Among College Students

How Prevalent is Adderall Abuse Among College Students?

Adderall is the most commonly prescribed amphetamine. It is a strong central nervous system stimulant that is used primarily to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Even scientists aren’t sure how speed improves concentration or calms people who are prone to fidget.

Adderall’s effects are similar to those of cocaine, and it is classified as a Schedule II controlled substance because of its high potential for increased tolerance leading to addiction. To date, there is little research into its long-term effects.

Adderall abuse is widespread in the U.S. Young people between ages 18 and 25, particularly college students, are the worst offenders. According to the 2016 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, full-time students abuse Adderall at twice the rate of their peers who don’t attend college. On college campuses, it’s the second-most common drug of abuse. Only marijuana is more popular.

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adderall abuse among College students

Where Do Students Obtain Adderall?

Around two-thirds of young adults get their Adderall supply from friends, roommates or relatives who have prescriptions. Many buy pills from dealers. Since there is no definitive clinical test for ADHD — doctors base diagnoses largely on symptoms and the observations of parents and teachers — faking symptoms to get a prescription is common.

Students may be surprised to learn that sharing their pills, borrowing someone else’s pills, selling, buying or stealing pills, faking symptoms and taking pills at the wrong dose all constitute prescription fraud which is a felony.

Even worse, becoming addicted to Adderall poses serious health risks. Between 2006 and 2011, Adderall-related emergency room visits spiked by more than 156 percent.

What’s the Attraction of Using Adderall?

At correctly prescribed doses in patients with ADHD, Adderall improves focus, sharpens mental acuity and provides a small energy boost for more productive study. Like many drugs, Adderall also increases levels of a natural brain chemical called dopamine. Dopamine enhances feelings of well-being, confidence and reward.

College students who face a long night of cramming for finals often bump up the dose or enhance it with a high-caffeine energy drink. In theory, they can stay awake all hours, absorb everything they study, have perfect recall of the material the next day and ace the test.

In reality, things seldom work out that way. For one thing, Adderall makes no difference whatsoever if you don’t have ADHD. Indeed, that’s one of the biggest factors in diagnosis: If you take Adderall and concentration doesn’t improve, ADHD is not the problem.

For recreational use, it’s cheaper than cocaine and provides many of the same perceived benefits. Someone who is shy or suffers from low self-esteem might take Adderall to have more fun at a party. Unfortunately, like cocaine’s effects, Adderall’s are short-lived at high doses. Coming down is disappointing and unpleasant, so higher doses are required for the same sense of confidence and euphoria. The life of the party eventually becomes annoying, overly talkative, excitable, irritable or downright impossible to be around.

Other attractions for college students are increased libido and sexual stamina. Adderall may work that way for a night or two, but it has the opposite effect as tolerance increase.

Snorting Adderall is even more dangerous than taking it orally. People looking for immediate, intense effects crush pills into a powder and snort it like cocaine.

That’s a good way to destroy your nasal and sinus cavities over just a few weeks. Snorting also exacerbates the negative side effects, such as irregular heartbeat, shown below. You can overdose on Adderall by just taking too many pills, but snorting exponentially increases risk.

At the very least, taking a little extra for nonmedical reasons makes you hyperactive, overly talkative and insomniac. Here are the more serious side effects of using long term at high doses:

  • Rapid or difficult breathing
  • Increased or irregular heart rate
  • High blood pressure
  • Loss of appetite
  • Headache
  • Dry mouth
  • Hoarseness
  • Inability to sleep or sleep disturbances
  • Nausea, diarrhea or constipation
  • Shaking
  • Dizziness
  • Difficulty speaking
  • Nervousness or paranoia
  • Excitability, aggression, anxiety or hostility
  • Hallucinations
  • Depression
  • Excessive fatigue
  • Numbness in the extremities
  • Rash, hives or blistering skin
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Seizures
  • Coma
  • Stroke
  • Suicidal thoughts

Abusing Adderall is so dangerous that the Food and Drug Administration mandates a black-box warning on the label.

No one intends to become addicted to a legal drug that is prescribed by competent doctors every day. It’s the same with prescription painkillers. They’re a godsend for people who require surgery, are injured in an accident or live with chronic pain long term. Painkillers are largely safe when used as directed under the supervision of a doctor, but taking just one extra pill or combining it with another drug, such as alcohol, can have catastrophic, life-changing results.

You may be in danger of becoming addicted to Adderall if you’re taking more than your doctor prescribed, taking it by a non-approved method or taking it without a prescription. Other red flags include those below:

  • Trying repeatedly to stop without success
  • Feeling tired or mentally foggy when you’re not using
  • Lying about Adderall use
  • Watching your academic performance decline
  • Stealing pills or spending a lot of money buying them
  • Losing interest in friends and social activities

Our caring staff at Desert Cove Recovery is highly experienced with Adderall abuse. Call us today for sound advice on breaking free and reclaiming your life.

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.