prescription abuse

7 Things You Didn’t Know About Painkiller Addiction

It is no secret that painkillers have played a large role in the addiction rates in the U.S.

In fact, there are currently 58 opioid prescriptions every year for every 100 Americans.

If these are prescribed medications, what kind of damage can they do, and what can I do to help?

Let’s talk about prescription painkillers, their risks, and everything you need to know about them.

What Are Prescribed Painkillers?

Prescribed painkillers are drugs that are prescribed by a doctor for the sole purpose of relieving pain.

These drugs are not meant to treat or cure any disease or illness, but simply to mask pain. They can be prescribed for a wide variety of conditions, from a broken hand to alleviating pain after an operation.

These drugs involve the use of opium, which is a highly addictive compound that can impair judgment and motor functions.

These often lead to a very short-lived euphoria, and many people enjoy the feeling and feel a need to continue to relive it.

There are many risks involved with these types of medications, particularly with substance abuse, leading to other complications. Let’s talk about that.

7 Things You Didn’t Know About Painkiller Addiction

Painkiller addictions are a serious problem and should be treated that way. You have likely heard stories of addictions from the media or from loved ones.

Painkillers can lead to serious health risks, especially when taken consistently or with high doses. Here are some of the facts.

1. Painkillers Can Lead To Other Addictions

This may sound obvious, but it is to a much higher extent than you would believe. People who are prescribed opioids are 19 times more likely to start using drugs like heroin.

In fact, urban injection drug users interviewed in 2008 and 2009 found that 86% had used pain relievers either medically or nonmedically prior to their heroin addiction.

2. Withdrawal Symptoms Are No Joke

After you use these medications for a while, the body can become dependant on it. Once the body has adapted to the presence of the substance, a higher dose may be needed to create the same effects.

After a while, once the body is fully dependant on the substance, quitting can cause some serious effects. Including insomnia, diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, and involuntary muscle spasms.

3. Side Effects Can Be Lethal

Overdoses are all too common in the US, and 68% of them involve the use of opioids.

One of the most serious risks with painkillers is the possibility of respiratory depression. High doses can cause breathing to slow down to the point that users die.

Some of the side effects you may encounter with these drugs include constipation, nausea, drowsiness, dizziness, and decreased cognitive abilities.

While those are not fatal, they can certainly inhibit one’s ability to perform essential duties for their health. That can lead to malnourishment and other potentially fatal complications.

Not only that, day-to-day operations can be incredibly lethal while using these medications, like driving or operating machinery. If you are using these drugs, driving after use can put many people’s lives at risk.

Another serious risk of death with these medications is when they are mixed with other substances, including alcohol. Taking these medications for medical use should be used exclusively, and in the prescribed dosage, to avoid complications.

4. Symptoms Can Be Spotted

Visiting multiple doctors to get prescriptions for painkillers, social withdrawal, slurring speech, lying about whereabouts and activities, or stealing medication that has been prescribed to someone else.

These are all common indicators of painkiller addiction. If you know somebody who exhibits these behaviors, or if you exhibit them yourself, these are key signs of addiction.

If you are looking for physical symptoms, they will likely include dilated pupils, impaired coordination, and heavy perspiration.

If those symptoms fit the bill, then that person needs treatment. Find out how to do an intervention the right way to help a loved one.

5. These Prescriptions Are On The Rise

Since the year 2000, the number of opioid prescriptions in the US has increased by over 400%.

That is a troubling amount considering the rising addiction rates. If you are able to get through the pain with over-the-counter medicine like acetaminophen, it may be a wise choice to choose that alternative.

6. Other Factors Can Influence Addiction

There are many co-occurring illnesses that often pair with substance abuse. People can be more susceptible to addiction when they are facing other mental health issues.

People suffering from depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder are far more likely to be a victim of substance abuse. People will look for non-medical ways to help ease their suffering.

Be transparent with your doctors about these pre-existing conditions before accepting addictive medications.

However, there is dual diagnosis treatment available for people struggling with addiction and mental illness.

7. Treatment Is Not The End

Unfortunately, many people who receive treatment will relapse, as addiction is very powerful. Between 40% and 60% of patients will abuse the drug again.

That shouldn’t stop you from trying. Yes, many do go back to substance abuse. However, that is only because treatment is not a cure.

Recovery is a lifelong process. The three main steps are seeking treatment, starting recovery, and maintaining abstinence. The latter is the longest and most difficult.

If a loved one has received treatment, do what you can to support them, as they will need a helping hand.

If you are maintaining your abstinence, seek out any support you can get and continue the progress you’ve made.

Next Steps

It is clear that the risks of these medications are incredibly serious, and should be treated with care.

If you have been prescribed a painkiller, make sure that you take the proper steps to avoid addiction.

If you or a loved one are struggling with addiction to painkillers, please check out our admissions page and get the help that is needed today!


pain management

5 Ways to Manage Pain Without Opioids

Pain is something we all deal with from time to time. Pain may be caused by illness, injury, surgery, and a variety of other factors. Left untreated, pain can have a negative impact on your overall quality of life and possibly lead to other complications. Effective treatment is the key to adequate pain relief.  

Chronic pain in particular can have a huge effect on a person’s physical, mental, and emotional health. Chronic pain is when pain becomes long-term, usually lasting for longer than 12 weeks. 

Complications that can arise from chronic pain include depression, weight gain, insomnia, anxiety, hormonal changes, and more. Without proper pain management, a person falls risk to all these complications. We at Addiction Treatment Services care about the whole person, that is why we care about the mind and body, as well as the symptoms. 

There are many options when it comes to pain management. The tricky part is that what works well for one person may not work well for someone else. Unfortunately for this reason, opioids can quickly lead to abuse, and eventually, an addiction may form. 

This is not to say that addiction is always the case. When opioids are used appropriately as prescribed by a medical professional, they can be an important and beneficial component of treatment. 

Serious risks remain however, and for this reason, an individual should always consider the risks of using opioids alongside their benefits. One should also consider the other ways that pain can be managed. 

So, what are some other ways pain can be managed? 

1. Exercise 

Getting some exercise is one example of a simple way to deal with pain without using opioids. While some people cannot imagine exercising through their pain, there are definitely ways it can be done. 

The best way is to exercise through your pain is with the guidance of a physical therapist. A physical therapist is an expert in the area of dealing with chronic pain. It may be a slower path that requires more patience, but the results are well worth it. Physical therapy can help you regain strength and become more active for better overall health. 

Exercise also releases a natural pain reliever in the brain called endorphins, which are hormones responsible for producing a positive feeling. Other exercises that may help with pain include swimming, walking, yoga, and biking. 

2. Acupuncture 

Acupuncture is a form of therapy that involves thin needles being inserted into the skin. While this may sound counterintuitive and quite painful in itself, many people report pain relief after undergoing acupuncture. 

The way this form of therapy works is by stimulating certain points within the body that are believed to be responsible for certain pathways of pain. It is said that acupuncture disrupts the flow of these pathways, thereby blocking the pathway of pain. 

Many people regard acupuncture as just a false form of treatment made popular by people who believe in exotic treatments, however it is actually approved by the FDA to be used as a medical device. 

3. Injections and Nerve Blocks 

Some people turn to receiving injections to manage pain. These injections work by blocking pain receptor sites which results in a decreased sensation of pain. This form of therapy is temporary and works best in cases of acute pain. However, it can be beneficial for people dealing with chronic pain if they use it in conjunction with other forms of therapy. 

Nerve blocking injections are most commonly used in people dealing with joint pain or peripheral nerve issues, and it’s usually only considered when other forms of treatment have not worked. The location in which you receive the injection depends on the site of your pain. If you feel immediate pain relief, the treatment is usually considered successful. 

4. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy 

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a form of therapy that addresses the psychological patterns that contribute to pain. CBT is done with a licensed professional therapist, and has been proven to be very beneficial to patients dealing chronic pain. 

In this form of therapy, the therapist helps the individual identify certain patterns and thought processes that may be exacerbating their physical symptoms. Some of these thought patterns may include avoidance, fear, anxiety, anger, and other forms of distress. 

During CBT, you will be trained on how to deal with these negative thought patterns by learning new behavioral techniques to employ instead, which should lead to more positive thinking patterns and decreased stress, thus, decreased pain.  

5. Non-Opioid Medication Options 

There are many medications available to help treat pain that do not fall under the opioid category. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs act within the body to help with pain and inflammation. Inflammation occurs with many chronic pain issues, especially issues of the joints. 

Corticosteroids are a class of medication that also have an effect on inflammation and are given to many people who have arthritis. Acetaminophen is another drug you can get over the counter that helps with pain, but not inflammation. 

Ask your provider about non-opioid medication options. While you can get many of these drugs over the counter, it’s always best to consult with your provider before starting any new medications. 

Take Control of Your Life 

Opioids can be a very beneficial part of treatment for pain. However, it is far too easy to become dependent on opioids, which can lead to a full blown addiction. 

The thing is, there is no limit to how much you can increase the dose of opioids. Unlike non-opioid drugs, you can keep increasing the dose of opioids once you start to become tolerant of the current dose’s effects. This quickly turns into a slippery slope that can easily lead to addiction. The consequences are extremely harmful and can even be fatal. 

If you’re dealing with chronic pain, talk with your provider about your concerns regarding the risks of opioids. There are many other options available and your doctor can help you find the best fit for you.  

We at Addiction Treatment Services want you to know that we are here to help you, whether you or a loved one are struggling with an addiction. Our team of highly qualified professionals care about you and your success in sobriety. Reach out to us today at our 24 hour hotline by calling (877) 455-0055.

Senate Bill Passes To Fight Against Painkiller Abuse & Heroin Addiction

Senate BuildingPainkiller Abuse & Heroin Addiction Bill Passed By The Senate

With the growing epidemic of opioid addiction, the U.S. Senate recently passed bipartisan legislation to support actions to combat the problem. Known as the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA), the legislation passed on March 10th was specifically written to help control addiction to prescription opioid painkillers and heroin.

Just What Are Opioids?

Opioids are a specific class of drugs that include prescription painkillers like oxycodone, hydrocodone, codeine, morphine and fentanyl, as well as the illicit drug heroin. Opioids interact with opioid receptors on nerve cells in the brain and nervous system to produce pleasurable feelings and to relieve pain.

How Big Is The Opioid Addiction Problem?

Heroin addiction was once thought of as anStreets inner-city problem that only affected down and out individuals who lived on the street. Today, nearly two million Americans 12 or older are addicted to prescription painkillers, and over 580,000 have a substance abuse problem involving heroin. There were more than 18,000 overdose deaths related to prescription pain relievers in 2014, and over 10,000 overdose deaths linked to heroin. The overdose rate has more than quadrupled in the last 15 years. Yes, the problem is serious and growing rapidly!

How The Legislation Will Help

CARA is a big shift from previous governmental efforts to control opioid addiction. Rather than placing some drug offenders into the criminal justice system, they may gain access to evidence-based, rehab treatment for painkiller addiction treatment if this bill gets passed by Congress.Individuals currently in prison for drug offenses may also receive greater access to treatment. CARA could also provide funds for medication-assisted treatment programs that use methadone and other opioid medications to wean patients from heroin and other opioid drugs.

The bill has now shifted to the House of Representatives. However, it’s unclear if and when it will be signed into law, particularly since there is a similar bill that is currently pending that is focused on funding for treatment for heroin addiction.

Do You Or A Loved One Need Help For Opioid Addiction?

While there may be more treatment resources available soon if CARA or other legislation is passed, there is help now. Don’t wait for an opioid addiction to get worse. Call now to speak with an addiction specialist.

Share this newsworthy post with friends, family and colleagues or anyone who might be interested in these new changes.

Research Suggests Nicotine Use Increases Chances of Opioid Dependency

maylogAs the drug problem continues to get worse throughout many parts of the United States, researchers and clinicians keep looking for answers and solutions. Some are working to find new treatments, while others are searching for understanding of what makes some people more susceptible to becoming addicted.

A new report from the Mayo Clinic shows that there is a strong connection between people who have nicotine dependencies and substance abuse in their past and those that abuse narcotic painkillers. After looking over data from the National Institutes of Health-funded Rochester Epidemiology Project, researchers were able to determine that 25% of nicotine users and substance abusers go on to become prescription painkiller addicts. Prescription opioids have caused tremendous devastation across the country.

“Many people will suggest it’s actually a national epidemic. More people now are experiencing fatal overdoses related to opioid use than compared to heroin and cocaine combined,” explained Dr. W. Michael Hooten, a collaborator on the study.

Researchers hope that the study will be helpful to physicians around the country. The more doctors know about the types of people that are more likely to start abusing the drugs, the more caution they can take when prescribing the painkillers. In the past, physicians have struggled with their duty to eliminate pain and improve their patient’s quality of life against the dangers of prescription drug abuse. The idea that some patients exhibit more traits that can ultimately cause a prescription drug abuse problem is important when trying to reduce the painkiller epidemic in this country.

Dr. Hooten went on to say that sometimes, especially in emergency situations, doctors must prescribe opioid narcotics to patients. He suggests that in these types of cases that the dose is small and that the patient is required to follow up with their doctor in order to get a full prescription. This will allow doctors to keep better tab on their patients, and more hospitals are practicing this method.

Do Abuse-Deterrent Features on Painkillers Really Work?

embedaThe U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved new labeling for Embeda (morphine sulfate and naltrexone hydrochloride). The new labeling includes the claim that the drug has properties expected to reduce abuse when the product is crushed.

Embeda abuse-deterrent properties are expected to reduce, but not completely prevent, misuse of the drug when tampered with. When the capsule is taken properly, only the morphine contained in the drug is released. However, if the structure of the tablet is manipulated, or crushed, the naltrexone is released blocking some of the euphoric effects of the morphine. Naltrexone can also bring on withdrawal symptoms in opioid dependent people.

Sharon Hertz, MD, acting director of the Division of Anesthesia, Analgesia and Addiction Products in the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, says that the science behind the development of abuse-deterrent properties for prescription opioids continues to evolve, but will not completely correct the problem of prescription opioid abuse. “But they [abuse-deterrent properties] can be a part of a comprehensive approach to combat the very serious problem of prescription drug abuse in the United States,” Hertz said.

Embeda extended release is an opioid analgesic used to treat severe pain. Patients taking Embeda found alternative treatments to be ineffective, and have pain that is severe enough to require daily, around the clock, long term opioid treatment. Abuse or misuse of Embeda can cause an overdose which may lead to death. The fear of abuse stems from the morphine base, which of course is a highly addictive opiate.

Interestingly, despite the PR and marketing hype of the approval of the abuse-deterrent labeling, a snapshot of the Embeda website clearly states, “There is no evidence that the naltrexone in Embeda reduces the abuse liability of [the drug].”

The FDA’s release includes the statement, “When swallowed intact, however, Embeda can still be abused or misused because the naltrexone is not expected to substantially block the euphoric effects of the morphine.”

While Pfizer and some chronic pain patients may disagree, most addiction treatment and prevention experts would probably say that another extended release prescription opioid on the market only increases the chances of someone becoming dependent on the drugs.

CDC Indicates Sharp Rise in Heroin and Opioid Overdoses in US

cdcodsOverdose deaths from heroin abuse and prescription pain medication abuse (opioids) increased through much of the United States in 2012. In fact, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reviewed the data from 28 states and found that twice as many people died from prescription opioid overdoses than died from heroin overdoses.

There are a couple of things that appear to be driving the increase of heroin overdoses. First, there is the widespread exposure to painkillers that can often find addicts winding up on heroin. Second, there seems to be an increase in heroin supply to meet this increasing demand. No all prescription opioid users become heroin users, but previous research showed that 3 out of 4 new heroin users abused painkillers before using heroin.

Heroin’s cheaper price and increasing availability have been contributing factors. Since heroin and prescription painkillers are in the same category of substance, users experience the similar effects from both drugs. Therefore, the relationship between the two drugs is not surprising.

CDC Director Tom Frienden, MD, MPH says that reducing inappropriate prescribing practices is an important part of the strategy targeting overdoses from both heroin and the medications. “Addressing prescription opioid abuse by changing prescribing is likely to prevent heroin use in the long term,” he said.

Researchers also believe it is important to help those who are addicted to heroin and painkillers with effective treatment services in conjunction with the preventative measures. While some may recommend opioid replacement therapy, we work with facilities that help people fully detox from heroin and other opiates, and incorporate long-term residential treatment.

U.S. Senator Urges HHS to Overturn FDA Approval of Potent Painkiller

senatorjoemanchinSenator Joe Manchin (D – W.Va.) issued a letter on March 10th to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius urging the Department to overturn the FDA’s approval of the new painkiller Zohydro. The drug is a powerful form of hydrocodone that has many people worried throughout the country.

In his letter, Manchin wrote, “For inexplicable reasons, the FDA approved Zohydro ER despite strong opposition from its own Anesthetic and Analgesic Drug Products Advisory Committee, which voted 11-2 against allowing Zohydro ER to advance in the approval process. Simply put, the FDA’s approval of Zohydro ER, in its current form, must be stopped before this dangerous drug is sold to the public.”

The Senator also expressed concern over multiple allegations that FDA officials have taken payments from pharmaceutical companies and that a “pay to play” system of corruption has been in place for some time in the world of legal drug marketing.

West Virginia is just one of the multiple states throughout the country that have seen the devastating effects of opioid painkiller abuse and addiction. Overdose deaths and a plethora of other problems have risen and caused hardship for millions of people. The drug is feared to have similarly devastating effects as OxyContin has had, which is an extended-release version of the powerful drug oxycodone. Zohydro is also an extended-release drug that is said to be many times stronger than other hydrocodone products currently on the market.

If you have a loved one struggling with an addiction to prescription painkillers or any other type of drugs, contact Addiction Treatment Services to find out more about intervention, rehabilitation, and other recovery resources.

Study Shows Physician Attitudes Reflect Level of Opioid Prescriptions

Science Daily reported on a study that was recently published in the Journal of Pain linking doctors’ attitudes toward opioids and the amount prescribed.

According to researchers, the study was designed to develop a reliable and valid measurement to assess current and evolving beliefs regarding opioids and opioid use in patients with chronic pain, with respect to location and specialty areas of practice. More than 1,500 doctors were included in the questionnaire that inquired about 38 different measures surrounding opiate narcotics. The five main areas examined were the perceived effectiveness, tamper-resistant formulations, impediments and concerns, medical education and Schedule II vs. Schedule III medications.

No significant differences were cited by the survey regarding geographical regions, but several were noticed among the varying medical specialties. Orthopedists were most cautious about concerns regarding long-term opioid use and had the least confidence in the efficacy of the drugs, whereas pain medicine and rehabilitation specialists were the most confident in efficacy.

The Science Daily article said that the majority of the doctors who were surveyed reported they use opioids in fewer than 30 percent of their patients with chronic non-cancer pain. However, physicians who see higher volumes of pain patients were more likely to prescribe opiates.

This survey comes at a time when narcotic pain medication abuse and overdoses are at an all-time high. Granted, there are additional problems when it comes to treating chronic pain patients who require opiates for better lives, but there is an even more difficult time in treating patients who begin abusing their pain medication, even if unintentionally as a result of tolerance.

Given the number of people who are chronic pain patients and are taking opiates, some addiction treatment centers have begun researching ways to deal with such a sensitive issue. If you or someone you love is struggling with chronic pain and also needs a rehabilitation program for prescription opiates, we can help.