fentanyl overdose

Fentanyl Overdose: Recognize the Signs of Addiction Before It’s Too Late

Fentanyl often referred to as heroin’s synthetic cousin is a synthetic opioid that is known for being much stronger than heroin and other analgesics. This deadly drug has been gaining exposure in the addiction world and is one of the leading causes of drug abuse overdose. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention has said that Fentanyl is 100 times more potent than morphine and even more so than heroin. Whether the drug is being added to other opioids or taken alone, using fentanyl increases the likelihood of fatal overdose.  Recognizing the signs and symptoms of addiction in yourself or a loved one is key to getting the right treatment before it’s too late. 

What is Fentanyl?

Fentanyl is a type of opioid, typically found in powder form, that was intended to be an anesthetic. Pharmaceutical companies marketed the drug as an anesthetic but it was later discovered that it had a dual ability to act as a painkiller when given in small quantities.  Hospitals and trained clinical doctors began carefully measuring the appropriate dosage of fentanyl to ensure the dose was not only effective but safe. 

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), there were 19,413 synthetic opioid-related overdoses in 2016 alone. Fatal Overdoses involving synthetic opioids including fentanyl, increased almost 47% from 2016 to 2017.3 Roughly 28,400 people died from overdoses involving synthetic opioids other than methadone in 2017.

National law enforcement has indicated that much of the synthetic opioid overdose increase may be due to illegally or illicitly made fentanyl.

When the drug is bought off the streets, the dose and mix of chemicals is not regulated and often dealers and users don’t realize how strong fentanyl really is. To get the same effect as a typical dose of heroin, you would only need about 1/10th of the amount. Fentanyl also looks identical to heroin and is often mixed up.  These reasons all increase the deadliness of fentanyl and cause high overdose rates. 

Side Effects of Fentanyl

  • Mania
  • Euphoria
  • Confusion
  • Slowed breathing
  • Nausea 
  • Constipation
  • Unconsciousness 
  • Drowsiness
  • Mood swings
  • Overdose 

Like morphine, heroin, and other opioids, fentanyl works by communicating with the parts of the brain that cause emotions and pain. It increases the “feel good” chemicals and decreases both physical and emotional pain. Addiction to opioids can cause the brain to become dependant on the drug to feel pleasure. In turn, attempting to quit can lead to severe anxiety, depression, and mental health issues. 

Apart from the short term effects, Fentanyl may cause, repeated use can leave lasting damage to the body. 

Some of the Long Term Side Effects Include:

  • Heart Failure
  • Liver Damage
  • Kidney Damage
  • Infertility
  • Mental Health Deterioration
  • Brain Damage
  • Death

Signs of Fentanyl Addiction

Recognizing the signs and symptoms of addiction in your loved one could help you intervene before it’s too late. Addiction changes people’s behavior and overall personality. If you suspect that your loved one is using drugs, and any of the below signs are true for them, you should consider intervening. Some of the more common symptoms of Fentanyl Addiction include:

  • Irritability
  • Manic/Depressive Behavior
  • Anger Tantrums 
  • Loss of Interest in everyday life
  • Stealing Money 
  • Trouble Sleeping
  • Not keeping in touch with family or friends
  • Weight Gain or Weight Loss

Signs of Fentanyl Overdose

  • Severe Confusion
  • Slow Breathing
  • Trouble Walking, Talking, and Hearing
  • Obvious Sedation
  • Constricted Pupils
  • Vomiting
  • Dizziness

A fentanyl overdose has the potential to be fatal.  if you think you or a loved is using fentanyl recreationally and may be suffering from addiction, be sure to purchase and always carry Naloxone (Narcan, Evzio). Naloxone is a medication designed to reverse the effects of an overdose and increase the chances of survival. When administered within a reasonable amount of time, it has been known to save lives. Since Fentanyl always creates a sedated like state of being, it’s important to know how to recognize an overdose so you can administer Naloxone when needed. 

According to the Center for Disease Prevention and Control, Fentanyl is the leading cause of overdose in the Nation and is only increasing. This is likely done to it being less expensive than heroin but much stronger. Many people overdose from Fentanyl by accident thinking it is heroin, or not knowing that extra fentanyl was added to other drugs. 

When too much Fentanyl enters the body, the nervous system is overwhelmed and basic bodily functions shut down. At the same time, since fentanyl is a depressant, the respiratory system is also harmed.

If you or a loved one exhibits any of these symptoms while using fentanyl, it is important to seek medical assistance immediately. Even if you are unaware that fentanyl has put into your drugs, these symptoms should never be ignored. 

Treatment for Fentanyl Addiction 

Addiction to Fentanyl is a serious illness that requires a full medical rehabilitation plan. The first step in any addiction treatment is a drug detox. This period of time will enable the individual to safely and effectively rid their body of the drug and its harmful toxins. From there, individuals will typically enter an inpatient residential treatment. 

Residential treatment centers offer the individual a place to rebuild their health, both physical and mental, under the supervision of qualified professionals. Treatment centers will have licensed therapists, doctors, nurses, nutritionists, pharmacists, and holistic practitioners on hand to help with every aspect of recovery. 

Each Individual will have a personalized treatment plan with services tailored to meet their needs. Different combinations of talk therapy, medicated assistance, and holistic treatments will ensure a full recovery is achieved, and long term aftercare is planned. Addiction is a lifelong disease, and detoxing isn’t enough. Going back even for just “one last high” has the potential to cause a fatal overdose. A full treatment plan under the supervision of clinical professionals is needed to ensure lifelong recovery. 

You can reach our team of professionals by contacting us here.

Ohio Woman Shares Heartbreaking Reality of Heroin Addiction

heroinrealityIn an effort to show the public just what happens to people who become addicted to heroin, Eva Holland posted a controversial picture of her boyfriend, Mike’s, funeral in Ohio. Holland and their two children are seen standing next to the open casket of her longtime boyfriend. The jarring photo was taken and posted on social media so that people could see exactly what gets left behind when someone gets caught in the trap of heroin addiction. Holland understands exactly how an addiction to heroin can ruin a family. She and her children witnessed how Mike struggled with his condition.

One of the main objectives in posting the picture was to show the others how an addiction can affect anybody. “You may think it will never happen to you but guess what, that’s what Mike thought too. We were together 11 years. I was there before it all started. I knew what he wanted out of this life, all his hopes and dreams. He never would’ve imagined his life would turn out this way. He was once so happy and full of life,” explained Holland in part of her Facebook post.

Oftentimes, people who struggle with heroin addiction will attempt to get clean by enrolling in a treatment center. Experts agree that this is the best solution to an addiction problem. However, relapse can be an issue if people aren’t vigilant and there isn’t enough support or accountability. In Mike’s case, he reportedly relapsed months after completing treatment when he took a pain pill for a toothache. This quickly escalated into a deadly tailspin.

Since being posted on social media, the photo has received thousands of views and Holland has received support from all over the country. While the picture highlights the horror of addiction, it strikes a chord with the many people because it is the stark reality of what the end result will be if someone isn’t able to stop.

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.

Heroin Death Toll Continues to Rise

nejmopioidThere have been a lot of reports in the news lately regarding the declining numbers in teen drug abuse, giving some people the feeling that drug use in the country is starting to become something we have more control over. While more teens may be staying away from drugs, there are still plenty of heroin addicts out there, and unfortunately, they are dying at an alarming rate.

When a person takes heroin they do so because of the feeling it gives them, as when the drug hits the system the person feels a sense of euphoria, they become relaxed and tired. In the event that someone takes too much heroin, they pass out and vital organs begin to shut down. Many heroin overdose deaths occur as a result of respiratory failure.

“Usually when you are sleeping, your body naturally remembers to breathe. In the case of a heroin overdose, you fall asleep and essentially your body forgets,” explained Dr. Karen Drexler, an associate professor at Emory University.

Since state and Federal law enforcement agencies have cracked down on the sale of prescription drugs like OxyContin and Percocet, many former painkiller addicts have turned to heroin to supplement as the replacement. Due to the flood of people turning to heroin, it is no surprise that the death rate continues to rise, while the death rate from prescription drugs remains relatively constant now. In fact, reports show that the amount of people who have passed away from heroin overdoses has increased 39% in just the last year. There were 5,927 people who died in 2012 from heroin overdoses. That number jumped to 8,260 by 2013.

In order to combat the number of people dying from heroin overdoses, many police agencies around the country have started carrying doses of naloxone with them, administering to anyone who is in the midst of a heroin overdose. The naloxone helps reverse the effects of the drug and brings the person out of the overdose before they pass away. While this can help save lives in critical and emergency situations, more education and treatment is necessary to reduce the problem.

If someone you love is struggling with or showing signs of a heroin addiction, call us today for more information about treatment options.

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.

New England Governors Address Heroin Problem

govmalloyctWith the news that more than 15,000 people die from opiate overdoses in the U.S., and the fact that there is a heavy concentration of opiate users in the Northeast, several New England states have announced plans to work together on combating the problem.

Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy has been in the news lately regarding his position on drug abuse. He has been vocal about needing to monitor prescriptions that involve opioids. He has also been insistent that states need to communicate with each other when it comes to intelligence and crime fighting. Recently Malloy teamed up with four other New England Governors to tackle the opioid problem that has consumed the area, as well as signed a new law regarding overdose treatment in his state.

Governors from Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Malloy’s Connecticut met to discuss the heroin epidemic and how best to handle the problem. They understand that it will take the forces of all five states to make a dent in the amount of heroin and painkillers that are being abused.

Many leaders speak of prescription monitoring and an increased amount of information that needs to be shared between states. However, Malloy took it a step further and brought up the fact that addicts sometimes need to get out of their environment in order to receive effective treatment.

Malloy and the other Governors proposed reworking the Medicaid rules for their states so that addicts could go to other states to receive treatment for drug abuse problems. This is a major step towards handling addiction and making it possible for addicts to receive viable treatment. Removing an addict form his or her immediate environment can often be key in making sure that the person has a good chance at staying clean.

The drug abuse problem is growing so fast in the eastern states that Vermont Governor, Peter Shumlin, spent his entire speech about the affairs of the state talking about the drug abuse problem. “The problem is no worse in New England than it is in the other states.” Shumlin stated.

Maine’s governor, Paul LePage is the only dissenter amongst the states. He does not agree with Malloy’s pushing for citizens to be able to administer Naloxone (a drug designed to bring a person out of a heroin or opioid overdose). LePage stated that he felt that it would promote addicts to continue using and discourage them from seeking help.