Tag Archives: painkillers

Research Indicates Link Between High Sugar Diet and Opioid Addiction

New research from the laboratory of behavioral neuroscience at the University of Guelph has suggested a possible link between diet and risk of opioid addiction. Specifically, children and adults may be more vulnerable to opioid addiction when high amounts of refined sugars are consumed.

There has been a lot of press recently about the current opioid crisis — and for good reason. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that provisional counts for the number of deaths has increased by 21 percent in the period 2015-2016. Drug overdoses are now claiming lives at double the rate of motor vehicle accidents and firearms combined.

Sugar Activates Reward Centers in Brain

Research studies have revealed that refined sugar activates the reward centers in the brain in the same manner as addictive drugs. Opioid abuse has also been linked to poor diet, including a preference for foods that are high in sugar. Based on this link, researchers had questions about whether there was a connection between a diet with an excessive amount of refined sugar and an increased susceptibility to opioid addiction.

How Research Was Conducted

The research team looked at whether an unlimited level of access to high fructose corn syrup changed laboratory rats’ behavior and responses to oxycodone, a semi-synthetic opioid. High fructose corn syrup, a commonly used food additive in North American processed foods and soft drinks, was selected for this study.

In one study conducted by doctoral student Meenu Minhas, the rats were given unrestricted access to drinking water sweetened with high fructose corn syrup. The sweetened water was removed after about a month. After a few days where the rats didn’t have access to any sweetened water, researchers evaluated the rats’ response to oxycodone.

The researchers found that when the rats consumed high levels of corn syrup, they may experience less rewards from the oxycodone. As a result, the rats may be looking to take higher amounts of the drug.

High Sugar Diet May Contribute to Opioid Addiction

The results indicate that a diet high in sugar may dampen the pleasure that someone may get from taking drugs such as Percocet, Percodan, and OxyContin at lower doses. Since these sedative drugs normally make a user feel more relaxed shortly after being ingested, someone who isn’t getting these results is likely to take a larger dose to get the desired results.

Higher doses of sedatives and painkillers can be dangerous. At high levels, they can interfere with central nervous functioning and slow down breathing, leading to coma or respiratory arrest. When combined with alcohol, their effects multiply since alcohol is also a depressant drug.

This research is another good reason to eat a balanced diet, including lean meats, fruits and vegetables, whole grains and low-fat dairy products. There is a place for sweets, but in moderation.

recognize opioid overdose

How to Recognize an Opioid Overdose

Recognizing an Overdose Early Can Save a Life

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

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

What is an Opioid?

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

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

(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

Prescription Drug Abuse Includes More Than Just Painkillers

Prescription Drug Abuse Prescription painkillers have wreaked havoc on the nation for several years. The number of people who abuse pills like OxyContin, Vicodin and Percocet are still astronomical, and so are the number of people who have died from prescription painkiller overdoses. In fact, with millions of Americans abusing painkillers, it is likely that everyone knows someone who has been affected by it.

It is no wonder that this is the first thing that comes to mind when someone talks about prescription drug abuse. However, there are other types of medications that are being abused as well, and we cannot lose focus on preventing and treating all types of prescription drug problems.

Adderall, Ritalin, Vyvanse and other drugs that are prescribed to people with ADHD are prescription stimulants that are also commonly abused. These medications have often been dubbed as “study drugs” due to the number of college students who use the drug without having a prescription for it. Although the amphetamine-like qualities may allow them to stay awake longer and concentrate more for a short period of time, the risk is far greater than most young people realize.

Many experts have indicated that prescription stimulants are also popular gateway drugs that lead users on to trying more drugs as well. The abuse potential for drugs like Adderall is very high, and users can also feel cravings, irritability, anxiety and even paranoia.

“The bad side effects of it are that it sometimes makes me less social and sometimes I get easily annoyed if someone interrupts me when I am in the middle of something,” said Lilly, a college student that relies on Adderall and Vyvanse to get through her day.

So, while maintaining a heavy focus on prescription painkillers is important, it is also vital that we include all types of prescription drugs, as there are others beyond stimulants and painkillers that are frequently abused.

New Study Shows Power of Prescription Length

quantity of pillsEmergency rooms throughout the country have recently started cutting back on the number of days’ worth of painkillers are prescribed to patients. Instead of the previously standard seven days, most hospitals have now instituted a policy that only allows up to three days of pills.

Policymakers wanted to ensure that patients were following up with their regular doctors, and most hospitals did not want the ER to be a destination for drug seekers or the start of a dependency issue. Now a recent study has provided further support to the argument of prescription opioid reduction, as it confirms that the longer a painkiller is prescribed, the more likely it is for the patient to become addicted.

“The initial prescription a clinician writes has a pretty profound impact on a person’s (likelihood) for being a long-term opioid user,” commented Bradley Martin, coauthor of the study. This means that patients who are given prescriptions for more than a month at a time have a 30% increase in their chances of becoming addicted. Although very few patients are actually given such a large number of painkillers at once, the study shows that patients who are only given enough painkiller for one day still have up to a 6% chance of continuing use throughout the year.

This detailed research illustrates just how addictive painkillers can be for people who are simply seeking relief from their discomfort. As a nation, we have been forced to look at prescribing practices and how they can be better tuned in multiple settings to help reduce the availability of addictive substances as well as protect patients from becoming dependent.

On the front end, new policies can act as both an intervention as well as a preventive measure, but there are still millions of people who have already become addicted and need help. If you have a loved one in need of treatment, contact us today to learn more about how we can help.

Gateway or Not, Marijuana Use Often Comes First

Marijuana UseWhether or not marijuana is a gateway drug has been debated for years. Advocates of marijuana legalization have argued that marijuana is in no way associated with future use of harder drugs. However, there is yet another study that recently shows this not to be the case, at lease with regard to prescription painkillers.

This information comes at a time when several states are in the process of legalizing marijuana for adults, or considering putting the issue on the ballot. And while no state is looking to make marijuana legal for adolescents, it previous surveys have found that it becomes more prevalent and they have greater access to the drug.

The recent survey was conducted with 11,000 children and teenagers who were asked a series of questions related to their drug and alcohol use. Included in these questions was whether or not they had used prescription opioids in the past 30 days and if they had ever used marijuana. The survey was specifically looking to see if there was a connection between marijuana use and prescription painkiller use. After the data was collected, it was discovered that out of 11,000 participants, 524 had used prescription painkiller in the last month. Of those 524 children and teenagers, 80% had used marijuana prior to using painkillers.

And while this certainly does not mean that if you use marijuana you will definitely use opioids, it does a show a link. Teenagers who use prescription painkillers are more likely to have used marijuana first. This information may provide a guideline for parents and educators for prevention measures.

Additional information synthesized from the study shows that teenagers who drink alcohol and use tobacco products in addition to opioids are much more likely to have started out with just marijuana. Stopping a child when they are smoking marijuana is likely much easier than stopping a child when they are addicted to prescription drugs, where more serious interventions may be needed.

Study Recommends Simple Method to Reduce Painkiller Problem

Reduce Painkiller ProblemAs the prescription painkiller opioid epidemic continues, healthcare officials and top leaders in government are scrambling to find effective solutions. Most states have implemented prescription monitoring tools, more doctors are increasing their education regarding painkillers, and hospitals throughout the country have started screening their patients for potential painkiller addictions. One overlooked population includes the large number of people who are prescribed opiates following outpatient surgery. One researcher has identified this as a way to cut down on the number of pills being given to patients.

According to Richard J. Barth, chief of general surgery at the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in New Hampshire, doctors often prescribe larger numbers of painkillers after surgery as more of a convenience factor. However, reducing the number of visits or steps for a prescription refill has contributed to the painkiller problem in America.

This single action has the potential to have a significant impact on the volume of drugs being legally prescribed – and the subsequent overflow onto the black market. This theory was tested and proven by Dr. Barth and his group of researchers at five outpatient surgery clinics.

Many outpatient surgeries are invasive and the recovery can be difficult and painful. Sometimes patients are given 50 pills or more as part of their post-op care. But upon further inspection, the patients report that they were only taking about 28% of their prescriptions. This is an important factor because it shows that doctors are overprescribing and that because of the all the leftover pills, there leaves room for other people to use the prescription, especially addicts. Barth indicated that most patients really only need an average of about 15 pills, and that switching to non-narcotic pain relievers earlier was very effective.

While conducting their study, which appears in the Annals of Medicine, the researchers asked a group of outpatient surgeons to limit the number of painkillers they were prescribing for many procedures. They found that the patients who received less painkillers recovered quicker and did not ask for refills. The study shows a positive outcome when doctors limit their prescriptions for narcotics and also illustrates the need for more comprehensive studies into the level of pain associated with many outpatient surgeries.

Arizona Governor Suggests Mandatory Addiction Training for Doctors

Mandatory Addiction Training for DoctorsGovernor Doug Ducey has sent a letter to the Arizona Medical Board and the Arizona Board of Osteopathic Examiners making a push to have all Arizona doctors complete a continuing education course in drug addiction. He referred to the letter in his State of the State speech.

The speech was delivered a few days after Cronkite News published the results of an investigation indicating that some doctors had been overprescribing opioid pain medications for years before being disciplined by their professional board. In some cases, they were allowed to practice without restrictions even after being disciplined on several occasions.

Few Doctors Disciplined for Overprescribing

Only a small number of doctors have been disciplined in the past 16 years for overprescribing opioid pain medications. Of the 19,000 doctors licensed to prescribe controlled substances, 250 have been disciplined.

Arizona currently has a training program in place for doctors on prescribing opioids and treating chronic pain. The state doesn’t require them to take continuing education courses in prescribing controlled substances, pain management or substance abuse disorders. Some states, including Florida, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Oklahoma, Vermont and West Virginia, require doctors to undergo continuing education training in best practice of controlled substances, but this is not mandatory in all states.

Continuing Education Required for Doctors in AZ

Arizona doctors must complete 40 hours of continuing medical education every two years before they can have their license renewed by the Arizona Medical Board or the Arizona Board of Osteopathic Examiners.

The doctors can choose which continuing education courses they will take. Unless they are practicing in a state where they are required to take training in substance abuse or prescribing controlled substances, it is up to the individual doctor to choose whether to take this training. Ducey wants the boards in Arizona to require doctors to require one of the 40 required hours to be in addiction or Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services administration-supported opioid prescribing.

The governor remarked in his speech that drug addiction was a “problem that knows no bounds.”

Get Addiction Help in Arizona

Fortunately, for people who do get caught in the trap of substance abuse and addiction, there are programs like Desert Cove Recovery here to help them get back on the right track. Contact us today for more information about our successful rehabilitation center.

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.

Improving Opiate Prescribing Practices Among Veterans

Successfully treating physical pain while still protecting patients from becoming addicted to the drugs has been something that medical professionals have struggled with for quite some time now. It is often up to the prescriber to assess whether or not the patient is being truthful about their symptoms, and if there are any viable alternatives to opioids. This has proven to be difficult, as there is very little in the way of screening and decisions are often based on what the patient is reporting.

Although addition does not discriminate, and anyone can become dependent on a substance, certain populations tend to be more prone to dependency due to their exposure. Our nation’s veterans tend to be especially at risk of developing a dependence on prescription painkillers. Veterans often present to VA hospitals with physical and emotional trauma, requiring medication for bodily pain while also being at risk of self-medication for PTSD, depression or anxiety. Because of this high risk population, a concerted effort was taken to reduce the number of painkillers prescribed to veterans while still providing them with the care they need.

The Opioid Safety Initiative was a program that started in 2013 with the aim of improving prescribing practices and creating a safer medical environment for veterans. As part of the initiative, a monitoring tool was developed that connects VA physicians and VA clinic heads of departments, allowing people to view the different prescribing practices throughout the country. Viewers can see various alternatives and step-down methods used by VA doctors to help avoid dependency.

According to the research, the tool is effective at helping to change prescribing practices. After the development and implementation of the monitoring tool in 2013, heavy painkiller prescriptions have reduced by 16%. The study appears in the journal Pain and was conducted by researchers from the University of Michigan Medical School and Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation, the VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System, and Yale University.

“These results highlight the importance of addressing provider behaviors in our efforts to address the opioid epidemic, and the need for large health systems to develop and implement systematic approaches that are flexible enough to allow clinicians to make individual decisions while still reducing the overall prevalence of potentially risky prescribing,” explained Mark Ilgen, Ph.D. and senior author of the study.

Researchers are also hopeful that this VA experiment can translate into the broader population, further reducing large and heavy doses for prescription painkillers and their subsequent effects.