Medically-Assisted Detox

Medically-Assisted Detox vs. Medication-Assisted Treatment:  What’s the Difference?

Before choosing an addiction treatment program, you need to know what type of detox is available.  Two terms you will see during your search may cause some confusion.  The terms are similar but are completely different processes: Medically-Assisted Detox and Medication-Assisted Treatment.  Knowing the differences between the two can have a significant impact on your recovery.

Understanding Medically Assisted Detox vs. Medication-Assisted Treatment

Detoxification is the first step in overcoming addiction. Of course, the substance of abuse and the duration of the addiction will determine which type of detox is best.  However, other factors such as age and physical health must also be considered.  

Addiction treatment is the next stage of recovery that consists of a comprehensive program of classes and activities that address the physical, mental, and spiritual aspects of the addiction. 

Here are some the ways medically-assisted detox and medication-assisted treatment differ:

  • Medically-assisted detox

Medically assisted detox (MAD), also known as medical detox, happens in the beginning stage of addiction treatment.  The process allows the body to eliminate all traces of the substance of abuse.  When cravings subside, the individual is ready for rehab.  During medical detox, the withdrawal symptoms are monitored by medically trained professionals to ensure the safety and comfort of the client.  Medications may be used to help manage withdrawals.

In most cases, individuals struggling with alcohol or opioid addictions benefit from this type of detox.  The services are offered in a variety of settings such as hospitals, clinics, and treatment centers.  Also, there are levels of intensity in medical detox programs.  For instance, the individual may need inpatient, partial hospitalization, or outpatient services.  Professional rehabilitation is the next step in treatment.

  • Medication-assisted treatment

Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) differs from medical detox because it occurs during inpatient or outpatient substance abuse treatment.  It provides a combined approach of counseling, behavioral therapies, and FDA-approved medications to help individuals manage withdrawal symptoms and overcome psychological cravings.  The medication is strictly monitored and in most cases, is intended for short-term use only.  However, some individuals continue on a maintenance program of MAT medication after leaving treatment.  

This approach to addiction treatment is controversial due to the potentially addictive qualities of the medications used.  

Medications That May be Used During Detox and Treatment

The primary similarity between medically-assisted detox and medication-assisted treatment are that they use the same FDA-approved medications.  

Examples of FDA-approved medications are:

Buprenorphine – Controls withdrawal symptoms. Suppresses or reduces cravings. Side effects include headache, drowsiness, loss of appetite, abdominal pain, and skin rashes.

Naloxone – Blocks the effects of opioids and reverses the effects of narcotic drugs.  Used in emergency treatment for a narcotic overdose.  May cause flu-like symptoms such as fever, chills, runny nose, muscle weakness.

Naltrexone – Helps prevent relapse in people who have been clean for at least seven days.  This drug is slow-acting and can cause appetite loss, aches, pains, irritability, restlessness, nausea, and vomiting.

Methadone – A synthetic opioid used primarily in opioid addiction treatment.    The effects are long-lasting.  May cause shallow breathing, high blood pressure, cardiac issues, coma, or death.  People refer to methadone maintenance as “trading one addiction for another” because sudden discontinuance causes severe withdrawal symptoms.

Suboxone – A combination of buprenorphine and naloxone to treat opioid addiction.  May cause headache, dizziness, blurred vision, anxiety, depression, nausea, diarrhea, and shallow breathing.

Benzodiazepine – Helps with alcohol withdrawal by controlling withdrawal systems.  This MAT drug can alleviate anxiety and acts as an anticonvulsant and muscle relaxer. 

Disulfiram – Used after detox to deter drinking alcohol.  May cause unpleasant side effects if the person drinks even a small amount of alcoholic beverages.  The side effects include headache, nausea, vomiting, chest pains, and difficulty breathing.

Acamprosate – Stabilizes the chemical balance in the brain of recovering alcoholics to prevent future drinking.  May cause headache, dizziness, drowsiness, fatigue, stomach distress, decreased sexual ability, and muscle or joint pain.

Naltrexone – Blocks the euphoria produced by alcohol or opioid consumption. It helps people reduce drinking and avoid relapse.  May cause side effects such as insomnia, headache, dizziness, nausea, anxiety, and fatigue.

Find the Best Addiction Treatment for Your Needs

It is important to note that we are not advocating or promoting the use of medication in detox or addiction treatment.  Healthy, drug-free alternatives are available.  The above information is simply to help clarify the differences between medically-assisted detox vs. medication-assisted treatment.

If you are in the process of evaluating treatment options, please contact us at New Beginnings.  One of our representatives can help you determine which approach is right for your situation.

Sources:

ncbi.nlm.nih.gov – Pharmacologic Treatments for Opioid Dependence: Detoxification and Maintenance Options

 

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Fatal Heroin Overdoses

Fatal Heroin Overdoses: An Old Drug Making a Deadly Comeback

For most people, the word “heroin” conjures images of misery and despair.  We imagine thousands of people hopelessly addicted, their lives in shambles.  As one of the world’s oldest drugs, heroin has certainly left its devastating mark on the world during the last several decades.  However, from 1999 to 2010 the number of fatal heroin overdoses remained fairly steady.  Then, in 2011, the numbers skyrocketed and more than tripled in only six years.  

What is Heroin and Why is It Making a Comeback?

Heroin is a synthetic drug derived from morphine.  It is in the class of drugs known as opioids and is highly addictive.  Heroin may be obtained in the form of a white or brown powder, or as a sticky tar-like substance.  The drug is ingested by smoking, snorting, or injecting and it provides an intense euphoric experience.  

As one of America’s oldest drugs, heroin was first introduced for medical use in 1875.  It was used as a numbing agent and pain reliever.  Heroin is the English translation of the drug’s original German name “Heroisch”, meaning large or powerful. When heroin patients and physicians began noticing the addictive qualities of the drug, it was eventually made illegal in 1924.  But, it didn’t take long for illicit sales and trafficking of heroin to begin.  And, now here we are, witnessing thousands of heroin deaths yearly.  As the costs of prescription opioids continue to rise, more people are switching to heroin as a replacement because it is cheaper and easier to obtain.  

Shocking Statistics: Sudden Increase in Heroin-Related Deaths

This graph from the National Institute on Drug Abuse shows the steady incline in overdoses attributed to heroin and other substances since 1999.

To look at it another way, since 2002, the number of fatal heroin overdoses increased by almost 800 percent.  Sadly, there doesn’t appear to be any end in sight.  

Of course, with these shocking numbers in mind, we have to wonder if there is something we can do to help lower the death rates.  Convincing a heroin abuser to seek professional treatment is a good way to begin.  But, first, we need to know the warning signs of heroin abuse.

What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Heroin Abuse?

Heroin addiction affects a person both physically and mentally.  For that reason, the warning signs can be subtle or surprisingly obvious, depending on the individual and their stage of addiction.

Signs or symptoms that are immediately noticeable:

  • Poor concentration
  • Nodding off
  • Changes in behavior
  • Hyper alertness
  • Shortness of breath

Physical symptoms can include:

  • Small pupils
  • Flushing of skin
  • Heavy feeling in the extremities
  • Dry mouth
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Poor coordination
  • Weight loss
  • Tremors
  • Cramps

Psychological symptoms can include:

  • Heroin is the only thing they care about
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • No sense of responsibility

Behavioral symptoms of heroin abuse:

  • Social isolation
  • Secretive behavior
  • Aggression, hostility
  • Lying, stealing
  • Lack of interest in activities 
  • Severe itching
  • Disorientation
  • Lack of interest in personal hygiene
  • Wearing long pants and long-sleeved shirts

Of course, some of these signs and symptoms can be attributed to other issues.  However, knowing that heroin is a possible culprit, it’s wise to pay attention.  In fact, many fatal heroin overdoses could be prevented with this knowledge.

Signs of Heroin Abuse:  Paraphernalia

If you suspect someone that you know or love is using heroin, some of the following paraphernalia may show up eventually:

  • Pieces of drinking straws
  • Rubber bands or shoelaces
  • Small pieces of foil with burn marks
  • Plastic tubes
  • Needles
  • Spoons with burn marks
  • Cigarette lighters
  • Small sandwich bags with powdery residue

All in all, the presence of these items is usually a good indication that heroin abuse is occurring.  

What Are the Symptoms of Heroin Overdose?

People overdose on heroin for a variety of reasons, most of which are not intentional.  If you know someone who uses this drug, learn these warning signs of overdose:

  • Slow, shallow breathing
  • Small pupils
  • Dry mouth
  • Weak pulse,  low blood pressure
  • Bluish-colored lips or nails
  • Disorientation, confusion
  • Sleepiness, unresponsiveness
  • Poor coordination
  • Coma 

Experts advise seeking medical help if the above symptoms appear after heroin use.  Firstly, do not make the person vomit unless told to do so by a medical person.  Also, before calling emergency services, try to obtain information regarding the person’s age, weight, and how much heroin they ingested.

Treatment for Heroin Addiction at New Beginnings Recovery

Of course, the best way to prevent fatal heroin overdoses is abstinence.  But, if a person is already addicted, the next recourse is professional treatment.  So, if you know someone who needs help overcoming heroin abuse, please contact us at New Beginnings Recovery today.

Sources:

cdc.gov – Heroin Overdose Data

drugabuse.gov – Overdose Death Rates

medlineplus.gov– Heroin Overdose

 

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Co-Occurring Disorders in the US

How Common are Co-Occurring Disorders in the US?

Most of you probably don’t realize how common co-occurring disorders are in the United States today.  Co-occurring disorders are many times diagnosed when a person seeks treatment for addiction or treatment for a mental health issue. In other words, co-occurring disorders in the US are very common. 

What are Co-Occurring Disorders?

A co-occurring disorder is a condition which individuals experience when they have two disorders. It most often is a combination of a mental health issue along with another condition such as substance abuse. Co-occurring disorders can occur when people have a mental health problem along with issues other than substance abuse. However, those involving substance abuse or addiction are the most common. (In previous years, dual-diagnosis or dual disorder was the term used for this same condition.)

When a person has a co-occurring disorder, one issue may take precedence over the other. The psychiatric problem may be worse than the substance abuse issue or vice-versa. And, over time the severity of each problem may change. Physicians and psychologists need to treat these two conditions at the same time other than trying to treat each disorder separately. 

What Causes Co-Occurring Disorders in the US?

When a person has a mental health issue that goes untreated, sometimes they tend to self-medicate with drugs or alcohol. They do this to try to alleviate their symptoms of depression, bipolar disorder, or whatever mental illness they are struggling with. Individuals who struggle with mental health issues are far more likely to also have substance abuse problems. It has been determined that in many cases of opioid abuse or addiction, the use of the drug can cause mental health issues. Or, the opioid abuse may worsen a pre-existing mental problem.

In many cases, genetics plays a role in mental illness. This is also true in the case of addiction and substance abuse. Of course, a person’s environment can also have a part in both conditions. Living a very stressful or anxious life can contribute to a person’s mental issues as well as substance abuse.  

How Many People does this Affect in the United States?

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIH), 7.7 million people have co-occurring disorders in the US.  It is never easy to determine which disorder came before the other. 

A report from 2017 by NIH stated that there were 20.3 million Americans with substance use disorders. Of these 20.3 million, 37.9% also had mental health disorders. In the same year, there were 42.1 million adults with mental illnesses. Of these, 18.2% also had substance abuse issues.

Treatment for Co-Occurring Disorders

There is professional treatment available for individuals who are struggling with co-occurring disorders. Specialists advise inpatient addiction treatment for these individuals. They receive one-on-one counseling as well as many other integrated programs. Patients can go through safe detoxification before starting a treatment program that will address both issues.

Contact New Beginnings Recovery to learn about a treatment program that can help you start a life in recovery from co-occurring disorders. You can manage your life and get to a productive and healthy life in recovery from addiction. One of our representatives can answer any questions you may have about treatment programs that will benefit you or a loved one.

Contact us today to start your new life.

Resources:

Psychologytoday.com – Co-Occurring Disorders

Drugabuse.govComorbidity: Substance Use and Other Mental Disorders

 

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Anti-Anxiety Meds During the Lockdown

More Americans Using Anti-Anxiety Meds During the Lockdown

Americans have been in the coronavirus lockdown for a few months and its beginning to take a toll on people’s mental health.  The concerns about how the virus has up-ended our everyday lives have morphed into anxiety, depression, loneliness, and insomnia.  Studies show that alcohol and drug consumption have increased, and domestic violence is on the rise.  Also, suicides have increased as a result of the psychological impact of the lockdowns.  For these reasons, many people are turning to anti-anxiety meds during the lockdown.

Research shows that between February 16th and March 15th, the number of anti-depressants, and anti-anxiety or anti-insomnia prescriptions filled increased 21%.  The most significant increase was for anti-anxiety medications which rose 34.1% during that time frame.  It was also determined that more than 78% of prescriptions for the three drugs were for new prescriptions. 

Unfortunately, the increases are reversing a trend.  For instance, in the last 5 years, the use of these drugs decreased by 12.1%.  However, when the pandemic lockdown began, that downward trend halted and continues to rise. 

Reasons for Turning to Anti-Anxiety Meds During the Lockdown

It seems that we woke one day and suddenly everything changed.  All aspects of our lives were affected by COVID-19, and we are still adjusting.  The sense of isolation, fear of infection, and uncertainties about our future have everyone on edge.  Unemployment has skyrocketed and thousands of people have died.  The stress and worry generated by these factors cause many people to seek relief from their mental anguish.  

The Kaiser Family Foundation conducted a poll in late March and found that 32% of participants experienced an increase in stress and worry during the pandemic.  Another poll conducted by the American Psychiatric Association found that 62% of Americans are anxious about a loved once contracting the virus. 

Furthermore, these challenges are especially difficult for individuals who struggle with drug and alcohol addiction.  These individuals may be in danger of overdose if they increase their consumption of those substances due to anxiety.  Also, people who combine anti-anxiety meds with alcohol or other substances are putting themselves at increased risk of dangerous consequences.

Overcoming Pandemic Fears and Anxiety Without Meds

It’s understandable to feel anxious during the pandemic. People around the world struggle with problems caused by the monumental impact of the virus pandemic.  Many are creative and have found ways to stay busy, feel productive, and control anxiety without medications.  Their approach to overcoming stress, boredom, and fear is to find healthy outlets for venting those emotions.  The CDC recommends these simple ways to cope with stress:

  • Take deep breaths, meditate, stretch.
  • Get plenty of sleep.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Eat nutritious meals.
  • Avoid drugs or alcohol.
  • Make time to do activities you enjoy.
  • Talk with someone you trust about your feelings.

If you are looking for suggestions on finding support, assistance, or how to maintain mental well-being during the lockdowns, the National Institute on Drug Abuse provides a list of resources and answers to questions that should be helpful.   

Social Distancing Does not Necessarily Mean Social Isolation

We are fortunate to have modern technologies today that are designed to easily keep us connected with others.  During the virus pandemic, thousands of organizations are using various internet platforms to help those who struggle with anxiety, addiction, or mental health problems.  These resources are vital to helping a person avoid anti-anxiety meds during the lockdown.

If you were receiving treatment or counseling for mental illness or addiction, you can find virtual groups online to help you get the support you need.  For instance, the CDC has the Disaster Distress Helpline if you are feeling overwhelmed with emotions of sadness or stress these days.

Also, you should familiarize yourself with the warning signs and risk factors for emotional distress.  

It’s important to remember that you are not alone.  Everyone is having trouble adjusting to the extended lockdown.  Don’t hesitate to practice self-care.  Do something that makes you feel special at least once a day.  But, don’t forget to maintain contact with friends or loved ones.  They may need some support from you.  

Call New Beginnings if You Need Treatment for Addiction

We understand that it’s easy to want anti-anxiety meds during the lockdown.  But, will you be able to stop once the pandemic is over?  If not, and you end up needing help with addiction as a result, please contact us at New Beginnings to learn about our multi-modality treatment programs.

Sources:

nytimes.com– How Much Nature is Enough?

ncbi.nlm.nih.gov– Brain, Behavior, and Immunity

psychiatry.org – Help With Anxiety Disorders

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Addiction Interaction Disorder

Addiction Interaction Disorder:  What is It and Can It be Treated?

Many substance use disorders are comprised of a combination of addictions at the same time.  Since these addictions coexist, they interact and reinforce each other.  The process is known as Addiction Interaction Disorder (AID).  Overcoming AID requires professional treatment that targets both addictions simultaneously.  

In most cases, people with multiple addictions are struggling with two or more of the following addictions at any given time:

  • Drugs
  • Alcohol
  • Work
  • Eating
  • Sex
  • Internet
  • Gambling

Although the addictions are different, they share certain similarities.  Also, the consequences of these addictions are often the same.  

Treating Addiction Interaction Disorder

Individuals with Addiction Interaction Disorder often feel strong emotions and stressors which fuel the addictions.  Emotions such as guilt, shame, stress, trauma, and denial play a role.  Recovery depends on addressing each of these factors professionally. 

Traditional substance abuse programs focus on treating a person’s drug of choice.  These drugs are usually prescription painkillers, alcohol, cocaine, or heroin.  However, the accompanying addiction may not be diagnosed and will not be treated.  This oversight can leave the person at high risk for relapse.  For that reason, treating AID involves identifying the multiple addictions and assessing each as pieces of the whole problem.  

In some instances, it isn’t possible to treat multiple disorders simultaneously.  For example, a person can be addicted to cocaine and gambling at the same time.   In the case of cocaine and gambling, cocaine addiction should be treated first.  Once the cocaine problem is addressed, the individual is better equipped to address their gambling addiction.

Differences Between AID, Co-Occurring Addiction, and Dual-Diagnosis

Any addiction can overwhelm a person and bring chaos to their lives.  However, when someone struggles with two or more addictions, the results can be devastating. 

Here are the most common addiction disorders and the differences between them:

Dual-diagnosis refers to a combination of mental illness along with a substance use disorder.  Dual-diagnosis differs from AID and co-occurring addiction disorders.  It includes a mental health diagnosis that caused the addiction or is a result of the addiction.  In many cases, it’s difficult to determine which came first.  Dual-diagnosis is also referred to as a co-occurring disorder, not to be confused with co-occurring addiction.  

Co-occurring addiction happens when a person has multiple addictions simultaneously.  For instance, someone is an alcoholic, also uses cocaine and gambles compulsively at the same time. An assessment will determine which addiction is the most severe.

Addiction interaction disorder is the process of one addiction fueling another.  In other words, a person may switch from one addiction to another.  For example, an alcoholic may stop drinking then turn to another compulsive behavior such as overeating.  Cross-addiction is another name for this process.

Consequences of Seeking Escape from Reality

A person’s need to dissociate from emotional discomfort fuels their substance abuse.  Regardless of the substance or behavior involved in their addiction, the motivations are usually the same.  The person needs to feel achieve a sensation of numbness or disconnection.  Their desire or craving for an addictive substance outweighs the negative consequences that occur as a result.

Addiction interaction disorder can wreak havoc on a person’s life in many ways:

  • physical health problems
  • low self-esteem
  • damaged relationships
  • financial trouble
  • job loss
  • family dysfunction  

The best option for overcoming addiction is professional addiction treatment programs.  If you or someone you know needs help with substance abuse disorders, please contact us at New Beginnings today.  One of our representatives can help you choose a treatment program that is right for your needs.

Sources:

drugfree.org– Substance Use + Mental Health: Your Guide to Addressing Co-occurring Disorders

 

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Coronavirus Disrupts Drug Supply Chain

Coronavirus Disrupts Illegal Drug Supply Chains

In some ways, the virus pandemic has an adverse effect on the illegal drug supply chain.  Production, sales, and transport are feeling the impact of closed borders, bars, motels, and nightclubs.  These venues are some of the most profitable for dealers, but things have slowed down recently.  Also, the coronavirus disrupts illegal drug supply chains by increasing prices, making it difficult to sell the drugs if they manage to get them.  

Closed borders and limited air traffic also have an impact on drug smuggling over long distances.  For that reason, the use of drones, submarines, and unmanned platforms may be used to deliver drugs.  

The virus pandemic is causing a supply and demand problem that has dealers scrambling to keep customers and maintain profits. In fact, law enforcement officers have a new saying today:

“Not even the dope dealers can hide from the coronavirus.”

Traffickers Hoarding Drugs to Beat Shortages

Supply chain disruptions are affecting virtually every illicit drug.  The short supply has caused a ripple effect at both the retail and wholesale levels.  A decrease in money-laundering and dark-web sales are reported by the US Drug Enforcement Administration.  

Traffickers are trying every trick to keep their business afloat.  Some are hoarding or holding back existing supplies of methamphetamine in an effort to manipulate the market.  They threaten their organization members with death if caught selling meth during this time.

Methamphetamine and fentanyl are the two drugs most affected by the situation.  These drugs rely on precursor chemicals imported from China.  The head of DEA had this to say about the supply disruptions:

“This is something we would use as a lesson learned for us.  If the disruption is significant, we need to continue to work with our global partners to ensure that, once we come out of the pandemic, those precursor chemicals are not available to these drug-trafficking organizations.”  

Although some clandestine fentanyl labs exist here and there, cartels still rely on the precursor drugs from China because of low prices. One of the main suppliers is located in Wuhan, which is the epicenter of the virus outbreak.

Users Stocking Up on Their Drug of Choice

Not only are traffickers and dealers in a quandary over drug shortages, but users are also stockpiling as well.  In fact, some dealers encourage their clients to stock up if they can.  As a result of this advice, users inadvertently contribute to shortages and higher prices.

Another concern is that people may try another drug if they can’t afford their usual.  This substitution can be deadly, especially if they switch from opioids to heroin, for example.  Or, they may try a combination of drugs to get the desired effects they have been accustomed to.  These combinations are likely to cause a rise in fatal overdoses.  

Coronavirus Disrupts Drug Supply but Not Overdoses

People who have been using heroin may switch to fentanyl during the shortages, thereby increasing their chance of overdose.  Fentanyl is 50 times stronger than heroin and is the cause of most overdoses in the US today.  It’s possible the overdose death rates will climb more than ever.

The coming weeks and months will give a better picture of how the coronavirus disrupts illegal drug supplies.  However, the drug crisis alone has been causing deaths long before the virus appeared.  It’s important that we remain diligent in our efforts to prevent drug abuse now during this critical time in our nation.  

New Beginnings Has a Solution to Your Drug Problems

Enough people are dying from the virus, without additional deaths from substance abuse.  Far too many lives are in jeopardy today for a variety of reasons.  However, some of those deaths are preventable, such as those caused by drugs.  

Learn more about drug addiction and treatment programs by calling New Beginnings today.  One of our experts will be available to help you choose a path to recovery that is right for your situation.  

Sources:

cnn.com  – Why Coronavirus is Making People Hoard Illegal Drugs

abcnews.go.com – Cartels are Scrambling: Virus Snarls Global Drug Trade

 

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Drug Users and COVID-19

COVID-19 and the Added Dangers Posed to Drug Users

No one is immune to the deadly Coronavirus, but some people are more susceptible to negative outcomes.  For instance, individuals who have chronic pre-existing health problems, and the elderly.  They are at a higher risk of severe complications or death if they contract the virus.  Another group of people at increased risk of dangerous outcomes includes individuals who are struggling with substance abuse or addiction.  In fact, NIDA Director, Dr. Nora Volkow, says this about drug users and COVID-19

“The coronavirus could increase the pressure to use, cause complicated health effects, and curtail access to treatment for those struggling with addiction. Every one of us is affected by COVID – maybe we don’t get infected, (but) we’re all anxious because of the uncertainties surrounding it. How we cope with that anxiety is very much dependent on multiple factors, including our circumstances, but one of the ways that people cope with it is by taking drugs.”

Social distancing is one factor that can be especially problematic for drug users or people in recovery from addiction.

Dangers of Social Isolation for Substance Abusers

During the prolonged lockdowns, they are unable to cope with the loneliness, lack of support, and boredom.  They feel isolated and may become depressed. As a result, a significant number of these individuals will increase their drug or alcohol consumption to help them get through the day. With this increased consumption comes the risk of overdose or death.  

Another problem that arises from social isolation is that if a person overdoses, it is less likely that someone will be around to help.  In many cases, an overdose can be reversed,  But, someone must be available to call 911 or administer Naloxone to the individual. 

Drug availability is another issue faced by addicts during the pandemic.  Travel restrictions can have an impact on the drug supply chain.  Limited availability can raise prices or cause dealers to lace their products with dangerous chemicals in an effort to increase profits.  If a person can’t get or afford their drug of choice, they may try another substance that could be riskier.

Drug Users and COVID-19 Lockdowns: Other Problems That May Arise

In recent years, needle exchange programs (NEPs) have grown in popularity and have helped many drug users avoid disease by providing clean hypodermic needles at little or no cost. The goal of these programs is to reduce the risk of spreading infectious diseases.  

The NEPs have significantly reduced the spread of disease, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).  However, that progress may come to a halt because of the virus pandemic.  During the lockdowns, many of the NEP clinics are closed.  They weren’t classified by some states as “essential” businesses.  These shutdowns have put many addicts at increased risk for infection or worse. 

Recovering addicts are also struggling with the effects of the COVID-19 stay-at-home orders.  The lockdown has affected their ability to attend in-person counseling. Many self-help programs or any other support services have closed temporarily.  Furthermore, those who go to methadone clinics daily are having problems getting there if the clinics are even open.  

Are Drug Users Able to Get Treatment in Today’s New Normal?

Another issue has to do with substance abusers getting the treatment they need.  Many drug users don’t have insurance or money, so they rely on the ER if they need help.  But, virus patients take priority.  Therefore, addicts may not be at the top of the list for receiving services.  Also, many rehabilitation facilities closed during the pandemic and are unable to take in new patients. This is certainly a very scary time for drug users as well as everyone else.

The dilemma of drug users and COVID-19 complications is a complex issue that could lead to needless deaths.  If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction today, learn about the various resources that are available specifically for this unique situation.  Many organizations have established online support groups and counseling sessions.  These can help you stay in touch and avoid feeling forgotten or helpless.  

Resources: 

nih.gov – NIDA Director Outlines Potential Risks to People Who Smoke and Use Drugs During COVID-19 Pandemic

en.wikipedia.org – Needle Exchange Programme

usnews.com – For Drug Users, COVID Poses Added Dangers

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Opioids in America

Opioids in America: Are We Desensitized to This Ongoing Crisis?

As busy Americans, we go about our daily routines in a blur.  Sometimes, we get a few minutes to watch the news or take in a good movie.  Unfortunately, most of what we hear and see is lost or forgotten amid the chaos of our lives.  Each day brings a new onslaught of information and challenges to absorb such as the current COVID-19 pandemic.  So, it’s no surprise that most of us aren’t thinking about things like the deaths caused by opioids in America each day.   

More than 180 people die every day from opioid-related causes.  But, that number is predicted to increase during the virus lockdowns.  This can happen for a number of reasons. For instance, someone who is recovering from opioid addiction can’t attend the daily or weekly support meetings.  Many of those venues are closed due to the lockdown, leaving these individuals at risk for relapse.  

Furthermore, opioid abusers increase their doses due to the stress and fear surrounding the pandemic.  These situations can lead to a rise in overdoses and deaths.  Yet, many people are desensitized to this ongoing crisis because it’s not mentioned in today’s news.

Understanding the Prevalence of Opioids in America 

America ranks #1 in opioid consumption and has held that position since 2013.  Other countries with high opioid use, in order of rank, include Canada, Germany, Denmark, and Austria.  Why is our country at the top of that list?  

The prevalence of opioids in America results from a combination of factors that include, but not limited to, the following.

Factors that Contribute to the Opioid Crisis

  • Overprescribing:

People don’t like pain and want a quick fix and it’s not difficult to find a physician who will write a painkiller prescription.  Most people are unaware of the alternative methods of pain relief.  Also, many people don’t want to change their daily routine enough to include exercise or healthy meals. 

  • Mass marketing by pharmaceutical companies:

In the US, pharmaceutical companies spent more than $6.4 billion on advertising in one year alone.  Of course, none of the drugs advertised are opioids.  However, the power of suggestion points to there being a pill for everything.

  • Senior citizens and medications:

Individuals above the age of 60 have a variety of aches, pains, and chronic health conditions.  Many of them are consuming a cocktail of prescriptions each day that includes opioids, sedatives, stimulants, blood pressure meds, diabetes medication, and more.  Combining these drugs can cause severe consequences.

  • Overpriced medications:

The price of prescription drugs such as opioid painkillers has skyrocketed in recent years.  For that reason, some people may turn to less costly drugs such as heroin, which is also an opioid.  Unfortunately, illicit heroin can contain deadly chemicals such as fentanyl, cocaine, meth, or other dangerous chemicals.

With more than 48,400 opioid overdose deaths in our country last year, there’s no doubt that we face a monumental task.  Hopefully, the other issues that consume our time and resources won’t distract us from doing what we can to reduce the use of opioids in America.

What Can We do to Resolve the Opioid Crisis?

Ongoing efforts by our government and thousands of private organizations have worked diligently to lower the opioid statistics.  The numbers have decreased somewhat.  But, much more needs to be done.  For that reason, in 2018, the federal government unveiled plans to help reduce demand and over-prescription of opioids.  The plan involves getting tougher on international and domestic suppliers.  It also seeks to help people who have opioid addictions get the evidence-based treatment and support they need.

It’s possible we will always have issues stemming from opioids in America.  The best we can do is continue education and awareness campaigns and provide affordable treatment.  At New Beginnings, we understand the complexities of opioid addiction and recovery.  If you are ready to overcome addiction, please contact us today.

Sources:

drugabuse.gov – What is an Opioid?

whitehouse.gov – Ending America’s Opioid Crisis

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How did I Become a Heroin Addict?

Many people probably ask themselves this question, “How did I become a heroin addict?” No one chooses to become addicted to heroin. It happens for different reasons. Sure, some individuals choose to experiment with heroin due to peer pressure or simple curiosity. However, many people end up addicted to heroin because of an addiction to prescription painkillers.

A Heroin Addict and Their Thoughts

A heroin addict may wonder how they got to this point in their life? They may have begun with a legitimate sports injury or an injury at work, an automobile accident, or many other scenarios. Now, they are not using heroin to get high, they are using it to keep from having withdrawal symptoms which are excruciating to the user. But how did all this start?

Many of these individuals did not grow up in a drug or alcohol use environment. They simply went to their physician with chronic pain from an injury. Many of these physicians instead of trying alternative methods of pain relief, prescribe opioid painkillers. It doesn’t take long for the patient to develop a tolerance to these drugs. 

Tolerance to Opioid Prescription Painkillers

It is not uncommon for patients to develop a tolerance to their pain medication. Tolerance means that it takes more of the medication to produce the same results. If the patient takes more of the medication or takes it more often than prescribed, they will develop a dependence on the drug. 

Once the patient develops a dependence, they will have withdrawal symptoms if they do not take the drug. The body has to have the drug to keep from becoming ill from not having it. Physicians today are becoming more aware of opioid addiction and are not prescribing these drugs as freely. 

Once the doctors stop prescribing the opioid painkillers is the point when many individuals turn to heroin because it produces the same effects. Heroin is easier to obtain and in fact, is much cheaper than prescription painkillers on the streets.

What is Heroin and Why is it So Dangerous?

Heroin is the class of drugs known as opioids. It is, however, an illicit drug. It is sold on the streets and is readily available in almost every area of the United States today. Heroin reduces pain as well as producing a feeling of euphoria and relaxation. However, this drug is extremely addictive. It can be smoked, snorted, or injected into veins, under the skin, or into muscles.

The biggest danger associated with heroin is that it is sold on the streets by dealers who “cut” the drug with other substances such as powdered milk or sugar, among many other substances. Therefore, the user has no idea how much actual heroin they are receiving when buying this drug. 

Today, there has become a very dangerous and deadly practice of dealers “cutting” heroin with fentanyl. Many heroin overdose deaths are attributed to heroin laced with fentanyl. A heroin addict can never be sure of what substance they are receiving and using.

Seek Help for Heroin Addiction

Most heroin addicts do not seek help from a reputable addiction treatment center because of the withdrawal symptoms. Once they do not have the drug, withdrawal symptoms start. These symptoms are more than uncomfortable. A heroin addict can think that these symptoms are unbearable. This is why when these symptoms start, they do anything they can to get another “fix.” After all, this is much easier than asking for help. 

If you have become addicted to heroin for whatever reason, reach out for help. A reputable inpatient addiction treatment center can help you get through the withdrawal symptoms and detoxification as comfortably as possible. You will be safe during detox and will be treated with the utmost respect and compassion.

Our representatives at New Beginnings Rehab can help you choose a treatment program that will suit your individual needs. They can explain the entire process of detoxification after which you will receive a treatment program which will educate you about ways to stay sober and live a new life in recovery from addiction.

Don’t continue on the road to disaster. Seek help today. One of our representatives can answer any questions you may have about the right facility and treatment program for your needs. Make that call today.

 

 

 

Resources:

drugabuse.gov/ – What is Heroin and How is it Used?

Drugabuse.gov – What is Fentanyl?

 

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Alcohol Use Disorder

What is Alcohol Use Disorder and Who does it Affect?

Alcohol is one of our country’s most preventable causes of death today. It is estimated that about 15 million people in the United States are affected by an alcohol use disorder (AUD). The term “alcohol use disorder” is used to describe alcohol abuse and alcohol dependence. AUD is put into classifications, mild, moderate, or severe.

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA)

 

Problem drinking that becomes severe is given the medical diagnosis of “alcohol use disorder” or AUD.  AUD is a chronic relapsing brain disease characterized by compulsive alcohol use, loss of control over alcohol intake, and a negative emotional state when not using.”

What are the Signs of Alcohol Use Disorder?

When a person’s drinking causes harm or distress, physicians usually diagnose it as an alcohol use disorder.  Sometimes individuals see mild signs that they don’t really describe as problem drinking. However, this can be the beginning of the AUD.

Some of the common signs of alcohol abuse include:

  • Irritability and mood swings
  • Choosing to drink over other activities or responsibilities
  • Making excuses for drinking
  • Becoming isolated from family and friends
  • Having blackouts or temporary memory loss while drinking
  • Drinking in secrecy

There are many other signs of alcohol use disorder. So, the main thing to consider is if the person’s lifestyle has changed. Do they not enjoy or participate in activities that they once did because they don’t involve drinking? This is a sign of a big problem with alcohol. 

Other major problems of alcohol abuse include taking chances while drinking such as driving while intoxicated or participating in other dangerous activities while drinking. If a person starts showing signs of withdrawal when not drinking, this is another red flag. Having to have a drink first thing in the morning to get over a hangover from drinking is another sign of major problem drinking.

Is Alcohol Use Disorder the Same as Alcoholism?

As mentioned before, physicians categorize alcohol use disorder as mild, moderate, or severe. The medical profession does not use the term alcoholism today. You might hear other people call someone an alcoholic or say that they are struggling with alcoholism. If a person shows severe consequences from drinking alcohol, they are said to have a severe alcohol use disorder. 

Do You Think You are Dependent on Alcohol?

If you are wondering if you have a problem with drinking alcohol, there are some questions you can ask yourself such as do you crave alcohol when not drinking. Are you not able to concentrate on other things because of thinking about drinking? Do you have problems holding down a job because of drinking? Do you have relationship problems because of your drinking? The list goes on and on.

Other problems which we have not discussed here are physical problems. Does drinking alcohol cause you physical problems?  Some of the physical signs of alcohol use disorder are insomnia, headaches, and stomach problems. Many individuals experience physical problems from falls while intoxicated such as broken bones, cuts, or severe bruising. After years of abusing alcohol people will develop cirrhosis of the liver, pancreatic cancer, and many other cancers all caused by alcohol abuse.

Seek Help for Alcohol Use Disorder

If you are struggling with problems caused by abusing alcohol, seek help from a reputable addiction treatment facility. The representatives at New Beginnings can help you develop a treatment plan that will fit your individual needs. Contact one of our representatives today. They can answer any questions you may have about a treatment program for your needs.

 

 

Resource:

Niaaa.nih.govAlcohol Use Disorder

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