Tag Archives: overdose

recognize opioid overdose

How to Recognize an Opioid Overdose

Recognizing an Overdose Early Can Save a Life

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

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

What is an Opioid?

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

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

(Continued below image…)

recognize opioid overdhose

How Do Opioids Affect a Person?

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

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

How to Recognize an Opioid Overdose

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

Physical signs include:

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

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

How to Help Someone Who Has Overdosed

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

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

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

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

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

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

impact of addiction on family

The Impact of Addiction on Family

How Addiction Affects a Family

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

How Drug and Alcohol Abuse Can Damage Family Ties

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

In pursuit of feeding their addictions, addicts may:

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

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

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

The Impact of Addiction on Children

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

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

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

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

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

Getting Help for Addicted Family Members

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

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

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

SOURCE:

drugabuse.gov

CDC: Number of Opioid Prescriptions Falling

opioid prescriptionsAccording to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the number of opioid prescriptions in the United States fell 18% between its peak in 2010 and 2015. However, it is still three times higher than it was in just 1999.

The reduction in prescriptions is partially due to the revised prescribing practices that have been recommended for physicians, as well as the general awareness campaigns brought on by the overdose epidemic. For more than a decade our nation has lost many thousands of lives each year to drugs like OxyContin, Vicodin, Percocet, Opana and many others. Unfortunately, those horrible losses are still occurring today.

While there are still some counties around the nation that have shown increased activity in this regard, there are also additional good news reports, such as the number of prescriptions with high doses dropping by 41% since 2010.

It is still unclear what kind of impact this reduction will have on current and future opioid abusers. While there will still be thousands of people who die each year, hopefully that number continues to go down as well.

“We do know that when you start people on prescription opioids, the risk of unintended consequences and illicit use goes up. But our staff has done intensive analyses to see whether changing policies for prescription drugs shifts people into illicit use, and the answer is no,” explained Dr. Anne Schuchat, acting director of CDC, in response to the suggestion that limiting the number of pills being prescribed will drive abusers to seek out street drugs like heroin.

The painkiller epidemic is one area where it seems that cutting down the supply will have an effect on the demand, eventually. This is encouraging news for the continued efforts to help save lives from prescription drug addiction of all kinds, not just opioids. These and other forms of interventions are often necessary when it comes to

The Rising Societal Costs of the Heroin Epidemic

Heroin EpidemicSome may think that drug abuse is a problem with only one victim – the user. However, their family members also suffer as well and society feels the effects in the form of dollars. According to a new study published in the journal PLOS ONE, taxpayers shelled out more than $51 billion in 2015 to go towards the fall out of the heroin problem.

Incarcerations due to heroin abuse and the sale of the drug, treatment costs, treatment of infectious diseases caused by heroin use, cost of treating infants born addicted to heroin, loss of productivity at work and heroin deaths were all variables used to calculate the astronomical number. This record-breaking amount is like pouring salt in the wound of already having the highest number of overdose deaths.

The researchers went even further and determined how much each heroin user costs society. According to the data, a single heroin user can cost taxpayers as much as $50,799 a year. This is due to the above variables as well as the fact that heroin users are more likely to be unproductive, and have large blocks of time where they are not working or contributing to the economy.

Interestingly, patients with different chronic problems cost society much less. For instance, a person who is suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease costs society about $2,567 a year. And a person who has diabetes generally costs about $11,148 a year.

“The downstream effects of heroin use, such as the spread of infectious diseases and increased incarceration due to actions associated with heroin use, compounded by their associated costs, would continue to increase the societal burden of heroin use disorder,” explained Dr. Simon Pickard, one of the lead authors of the study from the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Of course the research is not only to illustrate the burden heroin addiction has on society, it also indicates that effective treatment and prevention efforts are perhaps the only way to get this incredibly high number down. By getting more people the help they need, not only are we saving billions of dollars, but most importantly, we’re saving lives.

Simple Resource from NIDA Helping Criminal Offenders Avoid Relapse

avoid relapseThe National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) has developed a new, low-tech tool to help prevent relapse for at-risk offenders leaving prison. The Drugs and the Brain Wallet Card (DBWC) is a resource for former drug users who were incarcerated and are now returning to society. It can also be used by those in early recovery in a number of other settings as well. Clients who have participated in a residential treatment program are at risk of relapse when they return home as well, and the threat of overdose upon relapse is very high.

Card Serves as a Resource Guide

The DBWC is a 2-inch x 3.5-inch trifold card. It’s small enough to be kept in a pocket, purse, wallet or a cell phone case. Someone who is in the process of transitioning into society after being incarcerated or after being treated in a residential program can carry it with them.

One of the panels of the card has a space where the addict or their counselor can fill in individual triggers leading to temptations to use or drink. These may include specific places where the person used to go to drink or use drugs. Other triggers may include certain sights or sounds, such as the neon lights from a bar or glasses clinking and people or situations that are not good for them.

The space on the card can also be used to fill in local resources that can be accessed if the person feels they need help. These resources may include a counselor, a sponsor or a helpline. They would include any person or agency that a person who feels they are at risk of a relapse could reach out to for help quickly.

Community Re-entry Means Increased Risk for Relapse

Anyone who is re-entering the community is at a higher risk for relapse. They don’t have the structure of residential treatment program or the correctional institution in this early phase of their recovery, and it takes time to adjust.

The DBWC is meant to be used in tandem with ongoing addiction treatment. More than 90,000 cards have been distributed since it was introduced last December. In addition to the drug information and resources on the card, for many people having a physical reminder with them of their commitment to sobriety can be much more effective than an app on their phone or another similar tool.

Opioids and Cocaine Make for a Dangerous Combination

Opioids and CocaineThere was a time when cocaine use was sweeping across the country. The drug took inner cities by storm in the eighties and nineties and claimed many lives in the process. Then, cocaine use generally went down after prescription painkillers and heroin became more popular.

Now experts have noticed that more people are dying from drug overdoses involving cocaine than in subsequent years. In an effort to isolate the reasons why this may be occurring, researchers investigated the most recent string of overdose deaths . They found that it is much more common to mix cocaine with opioids than previously thought. This deadly combination has been identified as the reason for the surging fatalities.

“Opioids, primarily heroin and synthetic opioids, have been driving the recent increase in cocaine-related overdose deaths. This corresponds to the growing supply and use of heroin and illicitly manufactured fentanyl [a synthetic opioid] in the United States,” explained the researchers.

It was discovered that cocaine and opioid overdoses increased between 2006 and 2015, despite the number of cocaine users declining over that same period of time. This indicates that they are more like additional opioid deaths who also used cocaine, rather than the other way around, as there has also been a long upward trend of poly-drug users. Mixing multiple substances in such a fashion makes overdoses more likely to happen as well.

There have also been reports of cocaine users unknowingly ingesting synthetic opioids that were added to the powder. “In the absence of recent, regular opioid use, someone using cocaine and fentanyl (knowingly or unknowingly) would be highly susceptible to opioid-induced respiratory depression and subsequent overdose,” the authors wrote.

In a day where drug overdose deaths continue to rise, the threat for every single user becomes a very real possibility. There are too many things that can go wrong and synthetic drug additives for any user to really know what they are consuming. If you have a loved one who is addicted to drugs, contact us today to learn more about successful intervention and treatment options.

Unused Painkillers from Dental Surgery a Source of Prescription Drug Abuse

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

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

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

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

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

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

Heroin, Fentanyl Lead Surge in Overdose Deaths

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

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

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

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

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

White House Announces More Funding to Combat Opioid Addiction

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

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

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

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

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

Technology Takes Aim at Reducing Painkiller Use

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

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

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

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

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

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