Category Archives: Heroin

Heroin and Prescription Drug Epidemic

senate-bill-drug-treatmentThe growing problem around opioid addiction continues to receive coverage in the media, and it has become a topic of discussion on the campaign trail because candidates are being approached throughout the country by concerned families and citizens.

Marcia Taylor, President of Partnership For Drug Free Kids, provided testimony in January to a Senate Judiciary Committee on the need to increase funding for drug prevention and drug treatment. Proposed for consideration is the CARA Senate Bill which stands for Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act. CARA would allocate funding for drug treatment and prevention resources with a goal of getting more addicted individuals into treatment, and better educating both parents and teens on the dangers of recreational opioid use.

CARA would also address the need to distribute naloxone across the U.S. to aid in the fight to reduce deaths from opioid overdose. Local law enforcement would be trained on the administration of naloxone. Prescription drug monitoring programs would also receive increased support under CARA.

Methadone and Suboxone have become familiar interventions for anyone knowledgeable on opioid addiction issues. Most state-funded opioid treatment programs in the United States are currently full and have waiting lists of addicted people who are eager to participate in medication-assisted treatment.

In America, there has been a notable expansion in recent years of treatment programs who utilize methadone or suboxone to help patients. While many of these programs are private self-pay, Medicaid presently pays for methadone-based treatment approaches in a number of U.S. states. The number of private pay programs currently outnumber state-funded and Medicaid-funded programs by a substantial margin.

Expanding Access to Medication-Assisted Treatment

opioid-treatment-in-mediaAn article in the Huffington Post recently addressed President Obama’s public comments on expanding access to opioid treatment, particularly medication-assisted treatment (MAT) like methadone or buprenorphine (suboxone).

Many members of the treatment industry and recovery community do not have a realistic grasp on the role that medication-assisted treatment can play in recovery from severe opioid addiction. Historically, the recovery community has not regarded those utilizing methadone or suboxone as truly in recovery. They emphasize total abstinence, even from methadone, despite the fact that methadone and buprenorphine have restored individuals to normal functioning and even saved lives in many cases.

There was a time some years ago, in the 12 step community, when individuals were chastised for taking psychotropic medication for depression or other mental health disorders. This criticism came from a fundamental lack of knowledge about the biological basis for many mental health disorders. Similarly, medication-assisted treatment interventions have been the subject of misunderstanding and unwarranted rejection by those with limited education on varied treatment approaches.

As America’s opioid problem continues to grow, we need real solutions rooted in medical science and research. At this point in time, medication-assisted treatment has been in use long enough to clearly demonstrate its usefulness in facilitating personal recovery from addiction.

In 2015, we saw numerous local and national political figures rally around families that have been impacted by heroin overdoses and the heartbreaking loss of loved ones. Opioid addiction has finally come into focus within the mainstream media, and even current Presidential candidates have begun to address this as an important issue which commands attention and a solution.

More: Question and Answers on how methadone works

 

Heroin Said To Be Back With A Vengeance

stop-opioid-addictionChuck Rosenberg, the new chief of the Drug Enforcement Administration, has expressed serious concerns about the continuing opioid addiction problem in America and the pervasive spread of heroin addiction in particular.

A Fox News article highlighted Mr. Rosenberg’s discussion of how the USA represents only 5% of the world’s population – but consumes 95% of the world’s hydrocodone. His position is that rampant overprescribing of opioids has been occurring for years. As individuals become addicted to prescription medications and are then cut off from further prescription refills, many turn to the illegal purchase of street opiates.

“Street” opiates are sold at a premium – often more than people can afford. This leads to increased crime in order to support the expensive habit or turning to heroin since it is reported to only cost about 20% of hydrocodone on the black market.

The Fox article states that nearly 44,000 per year are dying from drug overdose and that half of those overdoses are from prescription medications. Casualty rates have almost doubled over the last few years.

Also in the news last week was an announcement from Hillary Clinton that if elected President she plans to dedicate billions to opioid treatment. There are other candidates as well, including governor Chris Christie, that have expressed a similar commitment to addressing the opioid addiction epidemic. The groundswell of concern regarding opioid addiction has gained momentum over the past 2 years and is now an audible siren capturing the attention of many governmental leaders. It has become a real health hazard that cannot be ignored any longer.

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Acadia Healthcare Opioid Treatment Programs

Acadia HealthcareAcadia is a large U.S. based company who provide a broad range of behavioral healthcare services that target mental health and substance abuse problems in children, teenagers, and adults.

Their inpatient facilities provide approximately 9200 beds in 37 states including the United States, United Kingdom, and Puerto Rico. The company’s outpatient addiction services specialize in opioid addiction and medication-assisted treatment for those suffering with heroin and other opioid dependencies. Each Acadia clinic utilizes methadone and suboxone in their overall treatment.

Acadia recently acquired CRC Health Group and in so doing raised their total number of opioid treatment programs to about 90 – currently making them the single largest provider in the United States.

Acadia just added 10 more clinics to Methadone.US and site visitors can find more information about Acadia’s Opioid Treatment Programs by visiting these recently added cities on the Methadone.US website:

Reducing Risk of IV-Related Infections

drug-safetyOne of the risks associated with the progression of opioid addiction is the increased probability of an addicted person moving to injectable heroin as a last resort in dealing with opioid withdrawal. In the early years of methadone’s adoption in treatment centers, it was used primarily to help heroin addicted individuals detox from heroin and eventually remain heroin free.

While heroin is definitely resurfacing, the opioid epidemic of recent years has primarily been about prescription opioids taken orally. Following this pattern of use, users eventually discover that crushing and snorting pills is a more efficient means of getting an opioid into their system. Injecting is typically the last step in this progression of the disease of addiction.

But with injection comes a variety of new risks and health problems such as skin abscesses, localized infection at the site of injection, as well as hepatitis C (a viral infection of the liver) and HIV infection acquired through needle sharing with infected persons. A recent story in the news highlighted a sudden increase in HIV infections in Scott County (Indiana) in conjunction with the rise of opioid addiction there and injectable drug use.

Indiana’s governor has temporarily approved the use of needle exchange programs to help reduce the risk of virus transmission resulting from the use of dirty needles. The story indicated that the number of documented HIV infections had risen month over month. The county is presently trying to locate over 100 people who may have been exposed to the HIV virus in connection with injecting opiates.

Methadone and other medication-assisted treatments have been conclusively proven to reduce heroin/opiate relapse and injection drug use. For many individuals trapped in a daily cycle of perpetual drug abuse, the risk of acquiring a deadly infection increases with every day that they are not in treatment receiving help.

Treatment leads to recovery, and recovery leads to dramatic lifestyle change. Many patients who choose methadone as a tool in their personal recovery never go back to injecting drugs. This obviously is a life saving choice.

Someone recently stated “If you’re dead, you can’t recovery.” This is a rather blunt way of expressing a profound and meaningful truth. Addiction does rob loved ones, friends, family, and neighbors of life, health, and happiness. Recovery has the ability to restore all of these. Let us keep our minds and hearts open about the value of medication-assisted treatment. It is making a real difference for numerous people around the world.