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!

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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.

addiction in the media

Study Finds Media Skews Depiction of Drug Problem

addiction in the mediaPeople in the addiction treatment and recovery community have long been fighting an uphill battle regarding the stigma surrounding addiction. Although it appears that progress is being made in educating more people about addiction, there is still a tendency to err on the side of criminalizing the behavior rather than supporting treatment and successful recovery programs.

One of the biggest offenders of this has been traditional mainstream media, and a recent study examined how prescription painkiller abuse was depicted by some of the largest media outlets over more than a decade.

According to the study, the number of stories having to do with prescription opioid abuse increased significantly since 1998. Of the sample of media outlets examined, the number of stories jumped from 13 that year up to 63 by 2012, which was an increase of 484%. Two-thirds of these stories depicted opioid abuse along with criminal activity, while only 3% of them offered readers or viewers treatment solutions.

“Results of a recent experimental study suggest that portrayals of successful treatment of opioid analgesic abuse can improve public attitudes toward and reduce willingness to discriminate against individuals experiencing the condition, but only slightly over one-third of news stories depicted an individual engaging in treatment,” explained the researchers.

While most treatment professionals would agree that more coverage of the substance abuse problem is needed to increase overall awareness, having a more balanced and responsible approach to the subject would be a much better service to the general public. The truth is that addiction does not discriminate and can affect anyone. It is also true that prevention, intervention, and treatment are effective and that long-term recovery is made possible every day.

ATS_Blogs_Launch_DoctorGivesMedOverdosePatient

Overdose Patients Still Getting Drugs From Doctors

intmedPatients who are admitted into the Emergency Room for prescription painkiller overdoses are often still given prescriptions for their drug of choice well after they have had near fatal problems with pills. This is likely due to the fact that ER doctors very rarely communicate with the patient’s prescribing doctor. This significant oversight has caused many patients to continue abusing prescription painkillers and risk further overdose. Researchers at Boston University School of Medicine came to this conclusion after investigating information provided by insurance companies. The study was published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

“Seventy percent of patients who overdosed were getting their drugs from the same doctor who prescribed the narcotic before the overdose…This signals a problem with the health system, but I don’t think it necessarily fingers doctors as being bad doctors,” explained Dr. Marc Larochelle, an assistant professor of medicine at Boston University School of Medicine.

Doctors who are treating patients that are prescribed prescription painkillers cannot rely on them disclosing the fact that they overdosed. Those who are addicted are not likely to admit to this for fear that their drugs will be taken away or they will be forced into treatment. In order to effectively handle this problem, Larochelle says that Emergency Room doctors and prescribing doctors have to communicate.

This is especially important because the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released information stating that prescription drug overdoses are at an all-time high. According to reports, 47,000 people in the United States passed away from drug overdoses, that is a 14% increase from the year before. These numbers are only projected to increase if doctors are not aware that their patients are being treated for overdoses from the pills that are being prescribed.

As the prescription painkiller problem continues to grow, medical doctors are being cautioned about perpetuating the problem by prescribing the drugs to people who abuse them, however the problem may be better addressed if more information was shared, such as with prescription drug monitoring databases. Emergency Room doctors, patients, loved ones and other medical professionals need to maintain communication for the safest prescribing practices and to help minimize future overdoses.

Prescription Painkillers

The Problem with Pain Management and Addiction

Prescription PainkillersPain management is a tricky problem that many healthcare providers struggle with addressing on a daily basis. Measuring to what degree a patient is in pain is very subjective and oftentimes the most important factor in determining whether or not they should be prescribed narcotic painkillers.

Doctors and nurses are taught to take pain very seriously. The American Pain Society designated pain to be the fifth vital sign in 1995 and the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO) developed monitoring standards in which to measure pain in a patient. So, with the increased awareness of pain and the understanding that it is necessary to treat pain, doctors are put in a strange position. They are tasked with addressing and helping to alleviate a person’s pain, but they also need to make sure that they are not prescribing narcotic painkillers to someone who is lying or exaggerating about their symptoms in order to receive drugs.

The American College of Preventive Medicine reports that 5.3 million Americans abuse narcotic painkillers every month. Some of these people get their pills off the street and some of these people get them directly from a doctor. No matter where they are obtaining their drugs, one this is clear, the pills came after some diagnosis of pain somewhere. Dealers who have a chronic pain problem can acquire the pills and then sell them on the street for one dollar per milligram, or addicts can go into a hospital and complain of pain and hope that a doctor is willing to write them a prescription. It has become the general consensus that we have created the problem together – doctors, patients and drug companies.

There is an incredible amount of people who abuse pain management attempts by doctors, but there is also a large group that suffers from legitimate chronic pain and needs the aid of medication as part of their therapy. The Institute of Medicine came out with a report that stated that more than 100 million people in the United States suffer from chronic pain. Recent reports of the ineffectiveness of opioid narcotics to treat chronic pain, along with their intensely high potential for abuse, have spurred leaders to develop and use non-narcotic treatments instead.

Addiction Causing Death Rate to Rise Among Specific Population

mortalityratestudyIn general, the mortality rate in the United States has been steadily declining. This means that more people are living longer than ever before, which is often attributed to the wonders of modern medicine. However, middle-aged Caucasian males are not among the groups who are increasing their lifespan. This is likely due to the increased drug and alcohol use among this group as well as more reported suicides. A new study by a Nobel prize-winning researcher was published by the National Academy of Sciences.

According to a recent article, “Death rates for other races have continued to fall, as they have for whites 65 and older. But death rates for whites 35 to 44 have been level recently, they’re beginning to turn up for whites 55 to 64, and – most strikingly – death rates for whites ages 45 to 54 have risen by half a percent per year since 1998.” The research team was headed by Angus Deaton and Anne Case from Princeton University.

This information is important because it seems to correlate with the time that painkillers started becoming more widely prescribed and abused. The late nineties was when doctors starting prescribing pills like OxyContin and Vicodin to patients with varying levels of pain.

There has also been a higher incidence rate in self reported problems among the same age group such as various types of pain, other liver and other physical health problems as well as many mental health issues.

It is slightly ironic that modern medicine, specifically the pharmaceutical component, can be credited with helping to sustain life for some people and end it for others.

FDA Approves OxyContin for Kids

OxyContinSeveral areas of the healthcare field are abuzz with the recent news that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) just approved the use of OxyContin to treat chronic pain in children as young as 11 years old. Those disturbed most by the decision are addiction treatment and prevention specialists. However, some doctors remain uncertain.

OxyContin is a powerful prescription narcotic that is in an extended release form that is often given for moderate to severe chronic pain. All oxycodone products have a very high potential for abuse, and the drug’s maker, Purdue Pharma, has settled major lawsuits claiming it withheld evidence of the additional risks that OxyContin carries. The maker eventually introduced tamper-resistant forms, but many users are still able to get around that.

A lot of people have heard of OxyContin because of the prescription painkiller epidemic that has swept across the country. Many believe that OxyContin was one of the biggest culprits of this disturbing trend, as well as a gateway drug to heroin. Patients who were prescribed the drug can easily become dependent on it and eventually addicted to. Thousands of people now die each year from overdoses on synthetic opioids like this drug.

Given all this information and the deadly history with the drug, why would the FDA approve it for use in children? Dr. Sharon Hertz with the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research claims that it is okay for certain uses and said, “new study data and resulting pediatric indication for OxyContin give doctors more specific information on how to safely manage pain in their pediatric patients following these types of surgery or traumas.”

Regardless of how safe particular studies may claim the drug is for children, the fear is that it will once again be overprescribed, leaving thousands of young people at serious risk of harm.

How Responsible are Doctors and Pharmacists for Prescription Drug Addiction?

A recent West Virginia Supreme Court ruling could potentially impact the fate of physicians and pharmacists throughout the state. A 3-2 vote made it legal for addicts to sue their doctor or pharmacist for allowing the person to become addicted to prescription painkillers. Since the decision was made the medical community and the general public are divided over the future implications of this decision.

Prescription drug abuse has long since reached epidemic proportions and in states like West Virginia, and thousands of people are dying because of their addiction to painkillers. Because of the extreme gravity and speed that prescription painkillers are taking over people’s lives, extreme decisions like the one made in the West Virginia may be called for.

One of the most common ways that addicts acquire their prescription painkillers is through doctor-shopping. This means that they go from doctor to doctor complaining of ailments and receive prescriptions to various narcotics. Many states have instituted a prescription monitoring programs in an attempt to avoid excessive doctor-shopping and other forms of prescription drug fraud. The tool that can be accessed by other doctors and pharmacists is designed to allow doctors to input the information from their visit with a patient as well as review the patient’s prescription drug history.

The decision to allow people who become addicted to prescription drugs to sue doctors and pharmacists is extreme but will likely give many professionals pause before liberally prescribing prescription painkillers.

“It may cause some physicians to curb or stop treating pain altogether for fear of retribution should treatment lead to patient addiction and/or criminal behavior. It may create additional barriers for patients seeking treatment for legitimate chronic pain due to reduced access to physician. It would allow criminals to potentially profit for their wrongful conduct by taking doctors and pharmacists to court,” explained The West Virginia Medical Association in response to the new ruling.

It could be very difficult to prove that a particular doctor or pharmacist was the cause of someone’s addiction, yet there is no doubt that the prescribing industry has certainly played its part, whether knowingly or unknowingly, in the escalation of the prescription drug problem in America.