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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most addictive drugs

The Worst of the Worst: Which of the Most Addictive Drugs Are the Worst for Your Health?

Cocaine, meth, and heroin, oh my! If you ask someone what the most addictive drugs are, they’ll probably site those three (not necessarily in that order).

And we agree – heroin, meth, and cocaine all cause thousands of deaths a year. We have death tolls that tell us which is “worst”, but they’re all life-altering bad.

Learn what two of the most dangerous three can do to a user below.

A Quick Disclaimer

It’s almost impossible to rank which drug is the most dangerous for your health. Why? Because of the way one drug acts on someone is different than the way it acts on another person. At least in subtle ways.

Some people try drugs once and can stop cold turkey. Other people are addicted from the first hit/puff/sniff. It’s all about how your body processes things and if you have addiction in your family.

Or if you’re predisposed to addiction from other factors, like your mental health.

That said – we’re going to use data that shows the number of deaths per drug to rank the dangerous drugs below, but keep in mind there is no real order- at least on an individual basis.

The Most Addictive Drugs: Heroin

Which drug have we seen an uptick of use within the last five years? Unfortunately, it’s not something relatively mild, like Cannabis.

It’s one of the most dangerous drugs (the most deaths), heroin.

Perhaps it’s because the people doing Heroin these days didn’t grow up hearing stories of people overdosing. There hasn’t been a famous death from heroin in quite a while.

At least not one as well-covered as Jim Morrison’s or Sid Vicious’. 

There were over 10,000 deaths from Heroin use in the US, in 2014, and the number goes up every year.

Why is Heroin so Dangerous?

Heroin is very addictive, you can compare it to things we’re seeing now, like fentanyl. In fact, they’re not that chemically different.

Both are depressants, which means they relax your body and create a feeling of euphoria. Both are types of opiates, which are derived from the Poppy plant.

If you’ve ever heard of Opium dens in Asian history – these were the kind of drugs they were doing.

However, heroin is very hard to administer. You can both snort and smoke the powder, but most choose to shoot it up – that is, insert it straight into their bloodstream through their veins.

That involves needles, which aren’t something you want to play with at home. Many heroin addicts care more about getting high than the quality and sterilization of the needle, which is how bloodborne diseases spread.

There are higher rates of hepatitis and HIV-Aids among intravenous drug users.

The Addictive Factor

Heroin is extremely addictive. One addict said that you feel so good on Heroin that you never feel that good again once you’re sober.

If it makes you really feel that good, you can see how quickly it becomes addictive.

But it’s not just that. The body builds up a tolerance to heroin as it does with any other drug. As you build up a tolerance, you have to shoot up more every time, to get the same effect.

And since heroin processes as morphine in your brain, it’s like turning the morphine drip to the highest setting – that’ll shut down your body’s processes and kill you just like that.

Issues with Purity

As if all that wasn’t dangerous enough, it’s rare to get pure heroin anymore. The purest heroin is a white powder, but most of the time it’s seen as tan or brownish. There is some that are black – which you’ve probably heard called black tar heroin.

The problem is, the darker the color, the worse the quality. Drug dealers are famous for “cutting” their drugs, which means that they add in another substance so they have more to sell/

Rat poison is commonly found in heroin, as is fentanyl. Laundry detergent and flour are two other, less harmful ingredients.

Yet- you saw what happened with the Tide Pod challenge. Do you really want to insert those kinds of chemicals into your blood?

Let us answer that for you: you don’t.

Finally, some drug dealers put pure caffeine into the heroin. While this doesn’t sound so dangerous, it can mask the signs of an overdose.

If someone doesn’t feel as high from the drug because of the caffeine, they may take more – and end up administering a lethal dose.

Second Place: Meth

It’s not easy to rank drugs. While there are fewer deaths due to meth use, Meth has a much more visible effect on your body. It’s not a drug anyone who values their looks want to use.

It’s highly addictive as well, probably as addictive (if not more) as heroin. It’s smoked or snorted, so it’s an easier delivery method than shooting up.

Along with the addictive aspect, meth restructures how your brain works – and that can last for up to a week after your last dose.

Drug-Induced Psychosis 

It’s common to experience drug-induced psychosis when coming down from meth. That means that your body experiences some of the symptoms of things like multiple personality disorder and schizophrenia as it tries to regain a sense of normality.

Both of those disorders can create delusions and hallucinations. Delusions can drive people to do dangerous and crazy things, like jump off a bridge if they think someone’s chasing them.

You also see the damage of the teeth, the lungs, the nervous system, and the skin in meth users. They famously have sores all over their body, as one of the common delusions is feeling like you have bugs crawling under your skin.

A lot of the deaths from meth don’t come from the direct use of the drug – but what it causes people to do.

That said, the number of deaths due to meth according to this CDC report was 3,495 in 2014. That’s almost a third of the deaths from heroin, but again, it doesn’t count drug-use-accident related cases.

There are No Good Drugs

When it comes to drugs – you shouldn’t do them unless you’re directed to by a doctor. And if you are directed to by a doctor, only do so in the exact fashion and for the exact amount of time as they direct.

The most addictive drugs are heroin and meth, but benzodiazepines (think, Xanax) and cocaine also make the list.

If you suspect a loved one is using one of these dangerous drugs (or any other!) get them to a rehab center, as soon as possible. Here’s a list of centers nearby, for your convenience. 

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5 Myths About Addiction

5 Myths About Addiction That Need To Go Away

5 Myths About AddictionThere are still unfortunately many stigmas when it comes to addiction. These stigmas not only make it more difficult for individuals to admit when they have a problem with drugs or alcohol, but they can also hinder them from getting the help they need. Because addiction is something that strikes both men and women of all ages and across all demographics, it’s vital to put to rest some of the myths or fallacies that lead to the stigmas of addiction.

Five Myths About Addiction

The following are five myths about addiction that need to be properly understood and then put to rest.

Myth #1 – Individuals With Addiction Are Bad And Don’t Deserve Help

It’s perhaps the most common myth out there that those who are suffering from addiction are inherently bad people and that they deserve to suffer. Unfortunately, many addicts themselves believe this very negative idea. But this couldn’t be further from the truth. Addiction can happen to anyone, anywhere and it affects each of us in some way, whether we’re aware of it or not.

Myth #2 – Addiction Is A Choice

No one wakes up one day and decides they want to struggle from the devastating physical, emotional, mental and financial impact of addiction. While an individual does choose to try drugs or alcohol, these addictive substances quickly alter brain chemistry, making it very difficult to stop. Addiction is not a bad decision, it’s a brain disorder that has contributing factors such as environment, hardships and co-occurring mental illness.

Myth #3 – It’s Not As Bad To Be Hooked On Prescription Medication

There is certainly less of a social stigma when it comes to those who become addicted to prescription drugs. However, even if a doctor prescribed a medication, it can still be just as addictive and dangerous as street drugs. Drugs like Codeine and Xanax have the same addictive properties as illegal drugs.

Myth #4 – Addicts Usually Have Only One Drug Of Choice

It’s very common for individuals to mix drugs to create a more intense high, or to use one drug to come down from another. Some simply choose to use whatever drug is available to them. When there are multiple addictions, treatment becomes more complex.

Myth #5 – Shame-Based Treatment Methods Are Effective

It’s a common misconception that shame must be incorporated into treatment to get someone to make a positive change. However, it’s this idea that actually prevents many people from getting the help they need. Fortunately, there is growing realization that individuals with substance use disorders need to be given the same level of treatment and care as those with other chronic conditions. In other words, treatment centers that take a more caring, personalized approach are inherently more effective.

Deciding On A Treatment Center Can Be Difficult – Let Us Help!

There are many treatment centers out there, and it can be challenging to determine which one is right for you or your loved one. There are many factors to consider. Yet, it starts with making a call to learn more. Call Addiction Treatment Services now to get started.

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Young People Who Witness Substance Abuse More Likely to Engage in Antisocial Behavior

devpsychpathA new study of a group of teenagers found that they were much more likely to participate in destructive actions on the days when they witness substance abuse. While it has been known that active substance abuse occurring in the environment of young people can have a negative impact on their lives, this is perhaps the first set of data that was able to look at specific actions and record the evidence more precisely and efficiently.

“Past research has shown that children who grow up in families, schools and neighborhoods where alcohol and drugs are frequently used are at risk for behavioral problems later in life, but our findings demonstrate that these effects are immediate,” said Candice Odgers, associate professor in Duke’s Sanford School of Public Policy and associate director of the Duke Center for Child and Family Policy.

The full results of the study appear in the journal Development and Psychopathology. One of the interesting things about this particular study is how they collected the data – via mobile devices. Rather than doing and end-of-the-day recap like other similar research, they were able to have the adolescents record their thoughts, actions and events real time via their cell phones.

It was also noted that teens with the genotype most common for ADHD diagnosis were more susceptible to acting out following the influence. Impulsivity combined with the exposure made for a difficult situation for these kids to deal with, resulting in the antisocial behavior.

“A series of studies has shown that consuming alcohol before age 15 predicts a wide range of later problems including substance dependency, involvement in criminal behavior and health problems. Our findings suggest that we may also need to prevent exposure to others using substances during this period,” Odgers said.

If you or a loved one are struggling with alcohol abuse or alcoholism, Addiction Treatment Services can help you find the best possible treatment. For more information, contact us.

Children of Alcoholics and Drug Addicts – Breaking the Cycle

parentAddiction treatment professionals have long cautioned parents and children that addiction is a disease and can be passed down to other family members. The extent to which substance abuse dependency can affect offspring has always been in question, as there are learned behaviors as well as genetic factors that formulate the risk of the pattern repeating with a new generation.

Research suggests that children who are born to a family with one immediate relative that suffers from a drug or alcohol problem are eight times more likely to develop a similar problem later on life. This compelling information points to a greater need for education and prevention, including being able to identify and address other risk factors that could act as triggers.

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), 12% of U.S. children live in a household where one or person is an addict. Further data shows that there are at least 28 million Americans who are children of alcoholics.

“This doesn’t mean it’s certain that a child of addicted parents will become addicted. But, what the studies do show is that since addiction has a genetic component, children of addicted parents are predisposed to the disease – just as they would be if their parent had heart disease or diabetes,” explained David Bohl, a program operator in Illinois.

However, unlike many other hereditary diseases, children have a much greater chance of avoiding substance abuse issues for themselves. If they are aware that these problems exist within their family they have the ability to break the chain through conscious effort. Understanding how binge drinking and drug experimentation can lead to abuse is an important part of breaking that chain.

For people who do get caught up in repeating the cycle, there is help available. Contact Addiction Treatment Services for information about effective rehabilitation programs and intervention services today.

Using Technology in Recovery: Does it Work?

technologyAs we continue to rely more on technology for other areas in our life, several groups of researchers have sought to find out how it can be used in the substance abuse treatment, recovery, prevention and treatment fields. Can websites, apps and text messages really help people cut back or stop their drug and alcohol use? What they have found thus far is that yes, technology can be used to reduce substance abuse.

Although in-person intervention and prevention techniques are generally more effective, having direct access to people via phone, email and the computer can still have a very positive impact. Both earlier studies, as well as more current ones, show that the benefits of personal interaction, even if it is through a device, is a helpful tool in the full scope of recovery-related support.

Most recently these tools have targeted college binge drinking. The goal here was more to reduce the amount of time spent drinking as well as the volume consumed and the frequency of consumption. A marked decrease did occur and results were better than campus-wide awareness programs since they targeted people on a more individual level.

Other areas of use have included help for returning vets to reduce their drinking via online interventions, and treatment center aftercare programs to aid in sobriety. There are also a handful of AA- and NA-related apps available to assist people in their personal recovery.

CDC Gives Overview of Heroin Problem in America

In the latest VitalSigns report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the focus is heroin addiction. Heroin use has more than doubled in the last decade among people between the ages of 18 and 25, and thousands of lives are being lost to the drug each year.

The CDC listed out several points that need to be considered in each state to help reduce the drug’s impact. These include:

  • Use all available tools to reduce the prescription painkiller use and availability, as they represent the biggest risk factor for developing a heroin addiction
  • Increase access to substance abuse treatment services for those abusing or addicted to the drug
  • Expand access to and training for administering naloxone to reduce opioid overdose deaths
  • Increase efforts for reducing harm through a variety of prevention and intervention tactics
  • Share best practices with other communities and help them get implemented around the nation

In addition to the above information, additional facts were shared to help increase awareness. One of them was the fact that nearly every heroin user also uses other drugs or alcohol, and poly-substance abuse also increases the chances of drug interaction and compounding negative effects.

While many government agencies continue to push medication-assisted treatment such as using methadone or buprenorphine as long-term maintenance drugs, we try to help people explore the option of finding treatment centers that use other methods for rehabilitation first. Dependency on another form of opioid should be a last resort for the course of treatment in our book. We very routinely get calls from people looking for Suboxone clinics, and we are often able to help them find other alternatives to consider.

If you know of someone who needs help to recover from a heroin problem, call us today for more information and resources for recovering from substance abuse.

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New Collaboration Offers Promising Future for Addiction Research

casalogAddressing the addiction problem in the United States requires more than the work of official agencies and treatment centers. Understanding all of the aspects of addiction and how to combat it can take much more research and collaboration. In an effort to tackle more of these subjects, the Yale School of Medicine has partnered up with The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University (CASAColumbia). The combined forces of these renowned institutions will likely produce further breakthroughs in the field of addiction and relapse prevention.

“Combining the resources and talent of Yale, a leading source of research findings in almost every aspect of addiction, with CASAColumbia, an institution on the cutting-edge of translating scientific findings and disseminating information, is a momentous achievement in the fight against the disease of addiction,” explained the Chairman of CASAColumbia, Jeffrey B. Lane.

In order to get the most mileage out of this new partnership, directors have promised to focus on a variety of addiction-related issues. Psychiatry, public health, neuroscience, clinical trials, healthcare policy and biostatistics are all areas that will be explored by researchers at the new facility. Researchers will also investigate other addictions, such as gambling and food. Examining why and how a person can become so compulsively driven to do the same thing over and over again, despite health and relationship consequences, is important when looking for solutions to the problems by providing greater understanding.

CASAColumbia was founded in 1992 by Joseph A. Califano, Jr., former U.S. Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare as well as Presidential Advisor. The organization originally focused on alcohol, tobacco, and drug use, abuse, and addiction, and assembled under one roof the skills needed to assess the impact of all addictive substances in all sectors of society.