Category Archives: Opiate Addiction

Massachusetts Is Prohibited From Banning Zohydro

court-decisionSomewhat of a surprise was the recent ruling that the state of Massachusetts cannot ban the powerful new painkiller, Zohydro, from being prescribed in the state. The manufacturer of Zohydro, Zogenix, had argued that the ban was not constitutional and must be reversed.

The state governor, Deval Patrick, had announced his intention to make Zohydro unavailable since the manufacturer’s initial plan was to provide it without a tamper-proof component to deter abuse and potential overdose.

Judge Rya Zobel ruled that the state of Massachusetts had exceeded its authority in banning the drug, and she consequently implemented a preliminary injunction temporarily reversing the ban. The governor expressed disappointment that the public’s safety concerns were not sufficient to halt the sale of Zohydro, but he stated he would pursue other channels for addressing the widespread opioid abuse problem that is continuing to grow in the state and across the country.

Opioid pain medications have become a primary drug of abuse for a number of age groups. Deaths by opioid overdose now surpass deaths by homicide and motor vehicle accidents in numerous states.

While Zohydro may be an effective pain management medication, it will very likely be sought (and purchased illegally) by those with severe opioid addictions trying to avoid daily opioid withdrawal sickness. Sadly, overdose deaths will result from the use of this medication in similar fashion to the problems that surfaced when oxycontin hit the market. Please keep yourself informed, and if you are suffering with opioid addiction and withdrawal sickness, seek treatment immediately. There is opioid detox, methadone medication assistance, and private physicians using suboxone to help patients cope with their addiction.

Recovery From Heroin Addiction Helps Parenting

methadone-clinic-7When a parent enters treatment for opioid addiction and begins methadone dosing, hopefully that person embraces the recovery process and the resumption of certain responsibilities that may have been neglected during addiction.

Many parents in addiction live with a sense of regret and shame over not always being there for their children. Opiate addiction is particularly brutal and can derail a person’s priorities for extended periods of time. Families can suffer, and their bonds strained to the limit for years because of drug addiction.

When a parent begins to find true recovery and is able to take an honest look at their life, they recognize how their mistakes affected others – most often their families and particularly their children.

Effective parenting requires a notable combination of talents & abilities – obviously love mixed with patience, availability, consistency, and attention. These qualities suffer and are diminished for a majority of addicted parents when drugs are in control. As the years roll on while a parent remains in active addiction, their children may develop behavior problems, experience depression or rage, or feel lonely or abandoned. Facing this damage can be very hard for a parent in early recovery. Trying to resume the role of an “active parent” may not be well-received once the kids have endured on their own without supervision or proper care.

Rebuilding trust and good communication will take time. As a parent in recovery, it will require a new commitment from you to your children (and family) to be there when you can and to be honest and genuine. Addicted people have often broken multiple promises to those they love. Family who were lied to or repeatedly disappointed will be in a cautious, protective mode for a long time – perhaps hopeful that Dad is really going to stay sober, yet fearful he will return to drugs and restart the painful cycle all over again.

If you are a parent in recovery, you should have your own support group who can help to nurture you through the transitions and stresses of getting clean & sober and learning to deal with past damage. The path of recovery obviously involves a strong commitment to sober living. Good intentions are important, but real follow-through and demonstrated effort are much more important. It’s not enough to talk-the-talk. You must walk-the-walk if you are to truly succeed in achieving a sober life and recapturing the trust of those who were harmed or neglected.

The good news is that families, and children, often have a remarkable sense of love and willingness to forgive when they see that you are real about your recovery. Recovery changes people from the inside out. It returns people to a better form, and in some instances makes them better than they ever were. These positive changes in attitude, behavior, and lifestyle are visible to others. When they see the real you, the better you – that has evolved during the recovery process – the love, trust, and communication often return and may actually surpass what they once were.

It is important to do the work of recovery and to recognize that you must work on yourself. This is the basis for leaving the past in the past, and moving forward to a better future.

For More On Becoming a Client in a Methadone Program

Prescription Drug Addiction Among Affluent Women

women-in-addictionAn interesting post was made on the DrugFree.org website related to a recent survey which found that the primary drug of abuse among “affluent” addicted women was prescription opioids or heroin.

The definition of affluent included those whose annual family income exceeded $100,000. Of those who entered treatment for their addiction, 61% of them identified prescription opioids as their predominant addiction problem. 

The survey found that 70% of those who developed an addiction reported that their initial use was related to a prescription of legal medications for the treatment of pain or emotional problems.

The opioid epidemic has shown how universal addiction problems actually are by transcending all types of assumed barriers and biases. Opioid addiction is a very clear brain disease and poses risk, even in prescribed legitimate uses, to those individuals with no prior addiction-related problems or high risk behaviors.

For individuals receiving prescription pain medication, it is imperative that they have a thoughtful and candid discussion with their prescribing physician about the recommended dosage and length of time a particular pain medication is to be taken. Many physicians are highly assertive with their patients and do an excellent job of informing them of potential risks. Conversely, some physicians do not regularly educate patients on key medication issues often providing no more than a printout of medication information.

With prescription opioids, it is essential that medical professionals take the necessary time to fully inform consumers of the potential for developing a dependency on the medication. Patients need to maintain an awareness of a medication’s addictive potential. It is also vitally important that opioid prescriptions in particular be safeguarded from children & teenagers, and then properly destroyed when no longer being taken. See the Flip The Script facebook page for more information on this important topic.

As we move forward through 2014, it seems likely that we will hear more in the news media about the proliferation of opioid addiction and associated costs and consequences. Sharing your concerns with family and friends is one way to help insure that more people remain aware of the risks. Sustaining the discussion on opioid addiction and medication-assisted treatment (methadone, suboxone, naltrexone) is a worthwhile ambition.

Heroin Addiction in Charlotte, North Carolina

methadone-blog-picAs has been widely documented in recent news media, heroin addiction is on the rise in the United States and does not appear to be slowing down anytime soon. From densely populated metropolitan cities to rural America, opiates are finding their way into schools, places of employment, and the upper socio-economic strata.

A well-written piece is just out in Charlotte Magazine profiling an intelligent 21 year old man by the name of Alex Uhler who succumbed to the pull of heroin, and sadly died of a fatal overdose. His story clearly illustrates a number of complex issues around addictive disease: the shame associated with being addicted, the extent some will go to conceal their addiction, and that it is an illness which impacts all people regardless of race, money, intelligence, or status.

The article addresses the increased presence of heroin in Charlotte, NC partly in response to the crackdown on, and scarcity of, prescription opioids. The extensive piece, by Lisa Rab, speaks to the emergence of opioids in professional work settings and schools, and touches on the frequency of co-occurring disorders alongside the addiction such as clinical depression, ADHD, and bipolar disorder.

Naloxone is also highlighted in the article sidebar as it has gained notable acceptance as the leading antidote for opioid overdose, and has been already documented to have saved hundreds of lives just in recent years. Naloxone can be administered by any bystander to an overdose victim. There are injectable and intranasal versions of the medication available at this time.

A local law enforcement official was quoted as saying that Charlotte’s drug problem cannot be eradicated by merely arresting drug dealers because there is always another up-and-coming dealer waiting on the sideline to take that vacant spot. The official said that society must stem the demand for drugs. Only then can we make our communities safer.

Medication-assisted treatment should most definitely continue to be funded and promoted as our society endeavors to save people from chronic opioid addiction. Many individuals have needlessly died when their lives and safety could have been restored through enrollment in an opioid treatment program. Methadone, buprenorphine (suboxone), naloxone and naltrexone are highly beneficial medications and act as a critical bridge in the addiction recovery process.

While Charlotte has a number of methadone clinics and buprenorphine-approved physicians, funding for opioid treatment remains a substantial obstacle for a number of people. Methadone is the most affordable option although various formulations of buprenorphine (suboxone) are becoming more cost-effective.

For more on opioid addiction, see Opioid Addiction in the United States

Medication-Assisted Treatment for Teens and Young Adults

opioid-addiction-childrenThere is increasing momentum building for opioid addiction treatment in response to the growing opioid addiction problem in the United States. Many teenagers and young adults who are being introduced to prescription opiates are at risk for developing a crippling drug dependency. The risk is increased as these youth discover that heroin is a relatively cheaper alternative than pain pills purchased on the street.

The Partnership at DrugFree.org has published a 36 page guide outlining opioid addiction and the therapeutic role that medication-assisted treatment can have even for teens and young adults. Methadone, suboxone, buprenorphine, and naltrexone are highlighted in the guide with an accompanying description of each medication and its use in opioid treatment.

Opioid replacement therapy has historically been used as a treatment of last resort in adult populations. The dilemma is that a high percentage of opioid addicted individuals are unable to remain drug free with traditional models of treatment that do not include medication assistance of some variety like naltrexone, buprenorphine, or methadone. Overcoming opioid withdrawal without effective symptom relief presents a serious obstacle in the recovery process.

The Partnership at DrugFree.org recognizes that the wave of opioid addiction in America is mounting. The news media have been covering this issue too with some regularity over the past year. Effective remedies need to be in place as all ages seek help for opiate addiction. If we are to save lives, the stigma of medication-assisted therapy and the misunderstanding around it must be finally removed.

New York City’s Black Market for Painkillers

pain-pill-scheme-new-yorkA Reuter’s story was just released highlighting a large drug bust in New York City in which 25 people were indicted on drug charges including two physicians. The charges stem from evidence that a healthcare clinic called Astramed dumped $500 million in prescription opioids into New York City’s black market from 2011 through 2014. It is reported that a total of 5.5 million oxycodone pills were sold to local drug dealers via phony prescriptions. The Reuter’s article reports a federal indictment was issued in which 24 defendants were charged with conspiracy to distribute narcotics.

This story is especially disturbing and comes on the heels of other recent stories in the news like the overdose death of Philip Seymour Hoffman and the death of 17 people in Pennsylvania who had used the deadly heroin and fentanyl mixture only weeks ago.

The opioid abuse problem in the United States is reaching unprecedented levels and is causing concern in segments of society that had previously never thought much about addiction-related issues.

As addicted individuals come to grips with the reality of their illness, it will be imperative that they have ready access to detoxification and treatment services.

As a clinician of 25 years in North Carolina, I have witnessed a gradual and steady reduction in both substance abuse and mental health funding over the last decade. When rehabilitation services become no longer available to help people, the vast majority of them either remain in active addiction and die prematurely, or wind up incarcerated for committing crimes in desperation.

Stiff penalties for drug dealers are obviously merited. But treatment is the answer for those with addictive disease. We must also do something about our culture which far too often glorifies drug abuse and partying among the younger generation in our society. Opiates are seriously powerful and potentially dangerous medications. America needs to revisit the necessity of increasing funding for drug education & prevention as well as evidenced-based treatment for opioid addiction. That includes life saving medications like methadone and suboxone administered professionally, ethically, and responsibly.