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Friday, July 29, 2016

Elephant Sedative Mixed With Heroin

There has been a lot of discussion lately about mixing fentanyl with heroin, or overdosing on fentanyl that they thought was heroin. Fentanyl is a powerful analgesic, between 80 and 100 times more potent than morphine and as much as 50 times stronger than pharmaceutical grade heroin. The drug causes severe respiratory depression that makes it extremely deadly, which is why we have seen an uptick in fentanyl overdoses in recent years.

Fentanyl was never intended to be used without close medical supervision, yet Mexican cartels are manufacturing the drug in scores to be sold in the United States. The growing demand for heroin in the wake of prescription drug prescribing crackdowns has lead illegal drug manufacturers and dealers to come up with novel ways of making it. This has led to the sale of mock OxyContin (oxycodone) pills that are actually comprised of fentanyl. A pill that is significantly more deadly than your typical oxycodone medication.

If emergency departments weren't busy enough with opioid overdoses, it turns out that a drug used to sedate elephants is being mixed with or sold as heroin, NBC News reports. The drug, carfentanil (which is used to tranquilize elephants), is 100 times as potent as fentanyl and has led to a number of overdoses in several states recently.

This week, an Ohio man was indicted on 20 counts, after selling carfentanil which led to nine overdoses and one overdose death, according to the article. The overdose death brought the man a murder charge. Everyone thought they were buying heroin, but lab tests showed the contrary. It is likely that we will see many more deaths in the future related to carfentanil.

"It certainly is a very disturbing trend," said Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine. 

If you or a loved one is battling with opioid addiction please reach out to Celebrate Hope at Hope By The Sea. Celebrate Hope is the Christian residential drug rehab and alcohol treatment program.

Friday, July 22, 2016

The Pain of Opioid Withdrawal

prescription opioids
It is easy to blame the American opioid epidemic on doctors, pharmaceutical companies and our over reliance on prescription drugs. While all of those played a huge role in the issue becoming a full blown national crisis, the fact remains that opioid narcotics are extremely difficult to stop using for many people—especially those who experience legitimate chronic pain. Those of you in recovery for an opioid use disorder, whether prescription painkillers or heroin, know all too well just how difficult it was to break the cycle of opioid addiction.

It often takes people suffering from opioid addiction a number of attempts at abstinence to finally succeed. And those who do manage to find recovery from such drugs typically need assistance via medical detox, inpatient treatment and regular attendance at 12-Step recovery meetings.

Those who have known alcoholics who managed to sober up using Alcoholics Anonymous, may find themselves asking why opioid addicts are unable to do the same? The answer to that question usually lies in the nature of opioid withdrawal. The early days of abstinence from opioids is by all accounts an extremely painful, uncomfortable experience. Typically characterized by:
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Diarrhea
  • Cramping
  • Insomnia
  • Irritability
  • Nausea
  • Pain
  • Restlessness
While it is true that opioid withdrawal is painful, those who actually have a chronic pain condition which led to the use of opioids in the first place, are met with even more pain as the drugs leave their system. What’s more, it can take some time for the brain to start producing painkilling endorphins after being idle for extended periods of time. Those who cannot tolerate the pain experienced during that interim period are at great risk of relapse, HealthDay reports. Kelly Dunn, an addiction specialist who researches opioids at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, in Baltimore, points out that:

"When you stop taking opioids it takes time for your body to regenerate its own 'painkiller' system," she explained. "Generally, four to five days. The severity varies per patient, and it's not predictable who will react how -- but withdrawal is real." 

It for the reasons mentioned above that many prescription opioid addicts require inpatient treatment. Being in a monitored environment, closed off from the medicine cabinet at home and aided by addiction withdrawal medicines are vital to the success of recovery.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Quitting Smoking With Varenicline

smoking cessation
Abstaining from all mind altering substances is of vital importance for those working a program of recovery. Even using a chemical other than one’s drug of choice can be risky. A large number of people in recovery smoke cigarettes, and it is like those who are smoking were also smoking before they found recovery. That being said, we know now that people working a program who smoke are at greater risk of relapse, compared to those who do not.

Those who find recovery in a treatment center are often advised to give smoking cessation a try. Tobacco is both addictive and can cause serious harm to one’s health, illness that is often times deadly. Recovery is not just about abstaining from drugs or alcohol, it is also about living a healthy and productive life. Cigarettes, naturally, are not conducive to such a goal.

It is well understood that quitting cigarettes for good is no easy task, and most smokers attempt to quit as many as thirty time before accomplishing the feat, according to research published in BMJ Open. With that in mind, anything that can be done to assist you quit should be taken advantage of, but many of those resources are often times ineffective, i.e. gums, patches and inhalers.

There are medicines available that have shown some promise, such as Chantix (varenicline) or Wellbutrin (bupropion). However, new research suggests that varenicline is more effective for women than any other form of smoking cessation treatment, ScienceDaily reports. There were no differences seen with men. The findings were published in Nicotine & Tobacco Research.

"Before our study, research had shown that among the choices for medications for smokers who wanted to quit, varenicline was the clear winner when it came to promoting quitting," said Assistant Medical Professor Philip Smith of The City College of New York's Sophie Davis Biomedical Education/CUNY School of Medicine. "Our study shows this is clearly the case for women. The story seems less clear among men, who showed less of a difference when taking any of the three medications."

Friday, July 8, 2016

Prescription Opioid Diversion

prescription opioids
When most people are given a prescription for an opioid painkiller, they take the medication until the pain dissipates. It is quite common for there to be leftover tablets sitting in the medicine cabinet. Patients usually forget the pills are even there and continue living their life.

The prescription opioid epidemic that has been raging since 1999 has prompted a number of actions that were previously deemed unnecessary. Leftover opioid painkillers pose a serious threat, and often end up in the wrong hands. That is why prescription drug take-back programs have become more and more common in recent years. Opioid addicts will scavenge other people's medicine cabinets for drugs like oxycodone and Percocet. More importantly, teens will also raid their parents' medication bottles as well.

Such drugs are highly addictive and carry a large risk of overdose. It is vital that those with leftover medication dispose of them properly. Many pharmacies will actually take back unused medications. Another common trend of concern is medication diversion. People with a prescription for opioids giving the drugs away to friends, family or peers. A new study sought to find out how often painkiller sharing occurs.

A team of researchers from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, MD, found that 50 percent of patients with prescribed opioids have leftover tablets and 20 percent share the drugs, MNT reports. The findings were published in JAMA Internal Medicine.

"The fact that people are sharing their leftover prescription painkillers at such high rates is a big concern,” said Prof. Colleen L. Barry, Ph.D., senior study author. “It's fine to give a friend a Tylenol if they're having pain, but it's not fine to give your OxyContin to someone without a prescription." 

There were some other findings of note, including:
  • 14 percent of respondents said they would share with family.
  • 8 percent said they would share the pills with a friend.
  • Less than 50 percent were not given safe storage or proper disposal information.

Friday, July 1, 2016

Staying Sober on July Fourth

We at Celebrate Hope would like to take a moment to wish everyone working a program of recovery a safe and sober Fourth of July. National holidays can be a challenge to navigate through, especially for those who are new to recovery. It is difficult not to pick up a drink or drug on any day, but holidays often bring back a lot of memories, some of which are good. Such reminiscences can trick one into thinking that it is not a big deal if they have a few drinks on the Fourth—the reality is quite the opposite.

If you are new to the program, we would like to strongly encourage you to stay close to your support network, i.e. sponsor and/or recovery peers. They can prove to be a vital resource for refraining from drugs and alcohol on Monday. It is also important that you attend a 12-Step meeting or two, sticking to one’s normal routine can make the day go by smoother and mitigate the risk of a relapse.

Every year, a number of people in the program experience a relapse. It is a sad truth that months, or years of hard work is thrown to the wind on major holidays. To avoid relapse becoming a part of your story, vigilance is needed. We are not suggesting that you should shut yourself in on Monday, in fact it is the opposite. It is often said in the rooms of recovery that “we thoroughly insist on enjoying life.”

Having fun in recovery is possible and holidays are no exception. The only difference is that you will be experiencing new kinds of fun with a clear head. It is likely that some recovery barbecues will be taking place near you on Monday. If so, you should make an effort to attend one, you will find yourself pleasantly surprised by how much fun they can be.

Remember to keep your phone handy in case a problem arises, or you think you may drink. It is much easier to call your sponsor before a relapse than it is after.

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