Posts in Opioid Epidemic

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My Addicted Son – Deafening Silence Hits Home

March 23rd, 2019 Posted by Awareness, Blog, Disease of Addiction, Opioid Epidemic, Treatment 0 comments on “My Addicted Son – Deafening Silence Hits Home”

Deafening Silence… I heard this two word expression so many times, but I did not put much thought into it. That is until the day my life changed in just a quick moment. Our son’s behavior started to change in subtle ways. He seemed to be secretive and sneaking around at times. We caught him in several lies, even telling different versions of the same story. Like when he needed to borrow money to make car payments, telling us many different lies, such as, “his commission did not come through yet.” We began to notice that his good friends were no longer coming around our home. He also started leaving the house at odd times and returning shortly after leaving. All the signs were there, but we did not pay attention, but our trust was wearing thin.

Delusions, Hallucinations, and Racing Thoughts

We suddenly noticed that Brad was having trouble processing his thoughts. He seemed to be repeating stories that he expressed deep concern over. Things on the TV seemed to disturb him. It was 2012, and Whitney Houston had just been found dead in her bathtub due to an alcohol and Xanax overdose. Each time the story came on the news, he reacted to it as if it were the first time he heard it.

“Did you see this? Dead! She’s gone. Drugs got her!” Brad seemed unable to string his sentences together at this point, piecing together broken sentences.

The weather forecast came on the TV, showing weather across the country. He kept blurting out these delusional statements that we now know are due to the extreme, short and long-term term, multiple drug addictions and from the withdrawal symptoms of benzodiazepines he was prescribed (i.e. Xanax and klonopin). My husband and I looked at each other, scared and confused. We did not have a clue as to what was happening with our son. We had never seen him like this before. He was a bright, charismatic man who seemed totally out of it. He was very delusional and hallucinatory. He even seemed to be skittish at times. We were very frightened about trying to understand what was happening with our son.

Discovering My Addicted Son’s Opioid Habit

My husband decided go for a ride to get flowers for me on Valentine’s Day and took Brad along. We only had a moment to speak to one another in regards to what course of action we were going to take. He took Brad for a ride, while I went into his room to get some things together in a small bag in case he needed to check into a hospital.

He had been living with us after losing his job, unable to pay rent in the apartment he shared with his girlfriend. His room was a total mess, in a complete state of disarray. There were piles of clothing everywhere and his hamper was overflowing. I started taking things out of the hamper to wash, thinking he might need them. After going through a few things, I discovered an empty pill bottle. It was a prescription for oxycodone!

Deafening Silence Strikes Home

I felt like I had been stabbed in the heart. The TV was blaring from one room as well as from another TV on the first floor of the house. For some reason, all I could hear was… s-i-l-e-n-c-e. All of a sudden, I not only knew the meaning of DEAFENING SILENCE, but I was smack in the middle of experiencing it. My eyes and ears were functioning, but I could not see or hear anything. It was extremely loud!

After a small amount of time had elapsed, I continued on my mission. Tears were streaming uncontrollably down the sides of my face. As I picked up items from the hamper, I found more and more empty pill bottles, mostly for oxycodone (generic for Roxicodone or oxycodone hydrochloride), some read alzaprozalam (generic for Xanax) or Methadone. All officially prescribed to him, with his name printed on the bottle. One of those bottles had 240 round pills and 30 milligrams printed on the label. I discovered that these pills were supposed to be for extreme pain–the kind of pain that comes from cancer or lupus.

Prescription Pills and Empty Containers

Several years later, we found out from Brad that bottle was a one-week prescription, and he went there every Monday for a quantity of pain medication that most pharmacies refused to fill. The doctor had to write two, separate prescriptions for this amount to avoid visits from the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA).

EDITOR’S NOTE: This occurred before the official opioid epidemic, when doctor shopping (having multiple doctors prescribe the same medication) was still going on. The quantity above comes to around 35 pills a day, which at $30 per pill comes out to $1050 a day (street value). These numbers are not inflated for the purpose of building a good story. The Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP) brought the prescription narcotic epidemic to a halt.

This program was put in place in hopes of ending prescription drug abuse. They had some success in doing so, however it spawned an influx of heroin users, which everyone now knows as the opioid epidemic. This could no longer go unnoticed in America. There was, and is, more heroin in our streets than ever before. Unfortunately, there are overdoses and heroin or opioid related deaths, which have now become the leading cause of death in Americans under the age of 50, according to cdc.com.

My heart was pounding and my head was spinning… What do we do now? What is wrong with Brad? I found many other pill containers, all in his name. A bunch of these pills were for Xanax. Later on, I learned that the opioid and benzodiazepine combination that was nicknamed, cock-tailing, and has resulted in a large number of heart-stopping overdoses in America. But in this moment, I was in a state of shock. I called my husband in a frenzy, and told him that our son is a drug addict. I managed to blurt out fragments of sentences that read something like this,

“Oxycodone… many empty bottles, some in his pillow case, hidden in sneakers, etc.”

My poor husband was driving and trying to process this while trying to get our son back home. Brad came home and went to straight to bed. This really had us terrified and worried, there might have been more pills up there. We still had no idea where to go, who to turn to, what to do!! I went on the internet and entered, “son oxy and xanax addiction” into Google, and went with the first thing I saw. I was so desperate and did not want to ask anyone for help. I did not want to potentially expose what we wanted to keep a family secret.

The Search for an Addiction Treatment Center

I made a call to the number of a California rehab that looked very good. At the time, I was standing in my garage, which was freezing cold in the middle of winter. I spilled out my story through sobs and whimpers. A kind and caring man was on the other end and reassured me that help was available. He kept mentioning that we were not to blame for our son’s drug addiction.

We decided to make plans to send Brad to this program. They also sent an interventionist to walk Brad through the airport, who was in the midst of intense withdrawal symptoms from multiple medications. We had no time to think this through; we felt pressure as we fought for our son’s life.

I called for my husband and explained these things to him in our living room. We stood up and began crying in each other’s arms. The next day, the interventionist showed up for Brad. After the intervention process, Brad was very quick to say yes to a desperate attempt at saving his life. He threw some things into a duffel bag and we said our goodbyes, hugging and clinging to eachother. I watched the car drive away to the unknown. Again, that deafening silence took over my mind.

Moving Forward from Addiction in Recovery

I hate that I now understand the emotion and true meaning of this oxymoron, which is defined as,

“an expression for describes something related to shock, usually from an uncomfortable experience.”

I wish I could say that these two times were the only I had, but there have been quite a few more in dealing with Brad’s addiction. Unfortunately, those “deafening silences” can be a part of life. Just remember that right after the hearing returns, we must move forward and deal with whatever comes our way next!

bus crashes into tree after driver overdoses on heroin in Newark, NJ - Serenity Springs Recovery

2 Drugged Drivers → 3 Deaths and School Bus Crash in NJ

February 21st, 2019 Posted by Disease of Addiction, News, Opioid Epidemic 0 comments on “2 Drugged Drivers → 3 Deaths and School Bus Crash in NJ”

A substitute bus driver, Lisa Byrd drove a school bus and twelve children into a tree after overdosing on heroin. She lost consciousness and the bus from 14th Avenue School in Newark, NJ slowly rolled off the road. According to CNN, she was arrested by the Newark police on Wednesday after being revived by Narcan.

1. School Bus Driver Overdoses, Crashes in NJ
2. Fiery Crash Leaves Three Dead in Wayne, NJ

On Tuesday, Jason Vanderee, a 29-year-old male from Glenwood, NJ crashed his vehicle into a gas station in Wayne, NJ, killing three in a vicious head-on collision. According to northjersey.com, He was high and driving reckless while under the influence of heroin. Again, he was revived with Narcan by local police. Police found 9 bags of heroin in his vehicle, arrested Mr. Vanderee and charged him with 3 counts of death by auto, 3 counts of aggravated manslaughter, and driving while intoxicated.

Drug Overdoses are Dangerous for Everyone

The two stories out of New Jersey occurred over the past few days. This is very frightening to think that these types of drivers are out there and we might have to dodge an oncoming, overdosed driver at some point. However, no one can live there lives like this. Drunk drivers have been on the loose for quite some time now. Please stay alert on the road!!

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We are again asking the same question here. Where are we right now in this country in terms of stopping this opioid epidemic? It seems to be doing a bit of a roller coaster routine again and not showing any signs of slowing down. Just when we thought it was cooling off, New Jersey strikes again.

Will the opioid epidemic slow down?

Stories like the aforementioned will put knots in your stomach or fear in your hearts. We are in a scary place as Americans for a number of reasons, but we are not going to get into politics. In terms of addiction and the epidemic, there is no clear cut answer. Obviously, as citizens or human beings, we wish these stories and epidemic would disappear for good.

The truth is drugs are here to stay and we have to hope that scientists continue to improve methods for combating the disease of addiction like our amino acid therapy or the bridge device. All we can do is continue to live our lives, focusing on our goals one day at a time. Writing this actually brought on some déjà vu from this blog post below where we asked very similar questions, and the results have not changed much!

An excerpt from, “Fentanyl Epidemic: Week in Review,” posted 10/16/2017:

What can we do to stop this?

As of today, there is really no answer for why, when or how this epidemic is going to end. It seems that drugs will always be a problem in this country and throughout the world regardless of the efforts made by police, armed forces, government, citizens, etc. of any country. At Serenity Springs Recovery Center, we do not worry about the numbers or politics involved, even though these are hot topics in America. We are here to offer a solution for addiction and change the lives of suffering addicts and alcoholics. These changes come from the knowledge and spiritual principles that we instill into their daily lives. This can and will happen for all that thoroughly work our program of recovery.

stop sign with trees in background

Recovery from Addiction is Possible

Not good when we are coming to the same conclusion from 16 months ago. However, we will keep fighting this thing from our corner, here in Volusia County, FL. We have seen many recover and will continue to recover opioid addicts, alcoholics, meth addicts, benzo addicts, we have even seen a few internet/pornography addicts recover at Serenity Springs. It is on the individual, if they want it, the solution is waiting for them and will always be available to those that seek freedom from addiction!

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MY BOYFRIEND, HIS ADDICTION, AND ME blog post header couple on brick wall - Serenity Springs Recovery

My Boyfriend, His Addiction, and Me

February 8th, 2019 Posted by Blog, Disease of Addiction, Opioid Epidemic, Recover, Treatment 0 comments on “My Boyfriend, His Addiction, and Me”

This is a story of a different experience of addiction, his addiction that became our addiction. Fortunately, I am not an addict or an alcoholic. I am considered by most to be a “good girl,” raised with values and morals in my very close family in the Philippines. I was the baby of four sisters and when I finally made it to America at age fifteen. It was here in the States that I met the love of my life, Joey, who suffers from the powerful disease of addiction.

(more…)

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Am I an Addict or Alcoholic?

December 29th, 2018 Posted by Awareness, Blog, Disease of Addiction, Opioid Epidemic, Recover, Treatment 0 comments on “Am I an Addict or Alcoholic?”

Not everyone who drinks or uses drugs is an addict. So why am I an addict? They say that the first step in addressing any problem is admitting that you have a problem, but admitting I was an addict was the last thing I wanted to do. It seemed to me that admitting that I was a drug addict was admitting that I was a flawed human being, that my willpower was worthless, and I was forever inferior to others. Through talking to other addicts and a lot of research, I learned that just like diabetes, addiction was a disease and, though I didn’t necessarily choose it, I could learn to live with it as soon as I identified as someone who has the disease.

Progression of Addiction

Since the 1950’s, addiction has been known by the AMA (American Medical Association), as a mental disease. A disease is understood as something that is progressive, chronic and fatal, and when I was honest about my condition, it was clear to see that the way I used drugs and alcohol fit into this model.

I remember being 17 and going to parties with friends. It seemed as though everyone around me was interested in socializing with others and listening to the music. Though I was good at pretending, all that I could focus on was the alcohol and pills I saw going around the party. Other people’s observance of me was just an obstacle I had to dart around as I consumed as much as I could. The older I got, the more I became a daily user and adopted new drugs into my regiment, going from alcohol and pills to street drugs like meth and heroin.

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Substances like alcohol and drugs affect the dopamine neurotransmitters, which creates pleasure in the brain. Basically, they make the brain think it is experiencing something great that feels really good, better than the basic pleasures like food and sex. Because of the extreme pleasure, the brain’s natural state, or hedonic set-point is increased. Therefore, basic “feel goods” like food and sex don’t feel as good anymore in comparison.

After repetition of this pattern of consuming drugs and alcohol, the brain stops producing as much dopamine, or “pleasure chemicals,” because it is getting it from an external source. This means that someone who uses substances like these is making it difficult to feel good normally, thus creating a habit or physical dependence on the drugs to feel good. Some people’s brains are more susceptible to a dependence or addiction than others, though anyone has the potential to become addicted.

When did I cross the line of addiction?

I don’t know where I crossed the line from heavy use to addiction, but at about 18 or 19 I was a full blown daily user of opiates and benzos. If I stopped using these drugs everyday, I would get very sick so now I was not just mentally dependent, I was physically dependent. My life started going down hill as I began to flunk classes in college, get in trouble with my family and visited the county jail. I was beginning to think I had a problem.

There are some buzzwords that are commonly connected as a part of addiction and two of these are tolerance and withdrawal. Tolerance is described as needing more of the substance one is using to achieve the same affect. This happens after repeated frequent use of the substance. So for an opiate addict, this looks like taking two Vicodin and getting high, to having to take ten Vicodin to get high a few weeks later.

Withdrawal happens when a person becomes physically dependent. Once someone begins to develop a tolerance to a drug, they will probably have withdrawal symptoms if they stop taking the drug. With opiates, the symptoms may feel like body aches, nausea, restlessness and anxiety. Drug or alcohol withdrawal typically needs to be monitored by medical staff because the symptoms are so uncomfortable that if the person wants to stop, they may feel it is impossible without medical help because the symptoms are so uncomfortable.

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Identifying My Problem

After a few visits to treatment centers many AA meetings, and seeing where I could relate to people in recovery instead of looking at the differences in my story, I too identified “my problem,” as the disease of addiction. I recognized that on my own, I could not stop the patterns of behaviors I was participating in my life. I couldn’t fully commit to staying away from the drugs that my body and mind seemed to crave, even if I got a few months free from them.

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In the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous, they call this place, “the jumping off point.” I did not yet know how to stay sober and find peace, but I knew I had to change something because I was miserable with the way things were going. Even when I put my best effort into stopping the types of behaviors I was acting upon, I alone was not able to stop. Though it was a scary place to be in, at least in that moment I had some relief in admitting that I too was an addict. At that moment, I could decide to do something different and ask for help.

Changing Behaviors and Recovering from Addiction

Though for some addiction is a fatal disease, many do find recovery. According to SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration), recovery is a process of change through which individuals improve their health and wellness, live a self-directed life, and strive to reach their full potential. For me, recovery has been more of a process of letting go of old beliefs systems that were causing me more harm than good and adopting new ones which become more real through changing my behaviors.

It has been internal growth through intensive therapeutic work and 12-step practices which then is manifested as external successes in my life. Recovery has taken place in my life through both treatment and a continual practice of the 12-step program. Today my recovery is my most precious gift which intertwines into all areas of my life.

Where can someone get treatment?

Serenity Springs Recovery Center and Intensive Outpatient (IOP) offer help to those stuck in their addiction. With medical detoxification and the inpatient treatment, individuals can begin their path to full recovery.

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Florida’s New Opioid Prescription Law

August 31st, 2018 Posted by Blog, Opioid Epidemic 0 comments on “Florida’s New Opioid Prescription Law”

It’s undeniable that opioids have significant utility as tools for healing. These types of drugs are incredibly effective at numbing pain that would otherwise seriously imp

act a person’s ability to function effectively in the world. However, just like anything else that is inherently powerful, opioids are prone to abuse, and the state of Florida has recently taken action to combat the potential misuse of opioids.

A New Approach to the Opioid Crisis

florida new opioid law

As of July 1st, 2018, Florida has a new opioid prescription law that limits the prescription of opioids. This new opioid law limits the term of most opioid prescriptions to three days. This development means that, in most situations, you can only get a three-day supply of opioids when you are prescribed OxyContin, PERCOCET, or any other type of prescription opioid.

However, in certain cases, physicians in Florida may prescribe seven-day supplies of opioids for acute pain, which is defined under Florida law as being a “normal, predicted, psychological and time-limited response to an adverse chemical, thermal or mechanical stimulus, associated with surgery, trauma or acute illness.” If you have acute pain that lasts more than seven days, you’ll need to either reduce the amount of opioids that you use each day or return to your doctor for a second prescription after seven days.

This new Florida opioid law doesn’t apply to opioid prescriptions that are used to treat terminal conditions. The treatment of serious traumatic injuries is also exempt, and so is cancer treatment. While these new legal measures may interrupt the supply of some people who habitually use opioids, there are plenty of good reasons why this law has been instated at this particular point in American history.

Opioids Defined

An opioid is a type of drug that mimics the effects of opium. Some opioids are directly derived from poppies, but others are created synthetically in a lab. Traditionally known as “the milk of the poppy,” pure opium is produced by harvesting the thick, crusty syrup that emerges from a mature poppy when it is cut. Opium has been used recreationally and for medical purposes in India for centuries, and this drug experienced a brief surge of popularity in China in the 19th century due to British trade influence.

While community facilities for opium use had already been relatively popular in India, the popular cultural image of the “opium den” is derived from this drug’s use in underground facilities in China. An opium den is pictured as a dark, illicit chamber in which people lounge around in a near-catatonic state on beds next to opium pipes. While this stylized trope may not be exactly representative of opioid use today, it’s true that using opiates knocks out any ambition you may have had and usually makes it hard even to walk or talk.

Here are some of the ways that opioids affect the minds and bodies of their users:

  • The reason for opium’s sedative effect is partially chemical, but it is also psychological.
  • Use of high doses of opioids imparts a feeling of bliss that causes other incentives to pale in comparison.
  • Some heroin addicts and other heavy opioid users report the feeling of using opioids as being similar to the bliss that is felt by a child being coddled by their mother.

In order to return to this feeling of original bliss, opioid addicts are willing to give a lot away.

American physicians have been aware of the medical benefits of the poppy since the days of the nation’s founding. An isolate of one of the active ingredients in poppy milk, known as morphine, was created in the early 1800s, and it became widely used after the hypodermic syringe was invented in the mid-19th century. Physicians were aware of the potential of morphine abuse from the early days of its use in a medical setting, but drug abuse didn’t become a significant problem in the United States until the normalization of drug culture that occurred in the mid-20th century.

In the first couple of decades of the 20th century, a discovery was made that would prove fateful to the lives of hundreds of thousands of Americans. Oxycodone was first created in 1917. This opioid is a semi-synthetic compound, which means that it is a mixture of natural and artificial opioids. Oxycodone is sold under brand names such as PERCOCET and OxyContin, and many versions of oxycodone are also cut with a drug called naloxone, which supposedly blocks the effects of this opioid when it is injected. Naloxone is included in oxycodone drugs due to its anti-addiction benefits, but these benefits have been called under scrutiny in light of the practically unbelievable rate of opioid addiction in the United States today.

An Unprecedented Epidemic

In the early days of OxyContin and PERCOCET, prescription opioids were represented as safe alternatives to other pain-relieving drugs. In particular, opioid manufacturers like Purdue Pharma, the maker of OxyContin, told physicians and customers that their opioids were non-addictive and that they had negligible side effects.

It has since come out that Purdue Pharma was fully aware of the potential dangers of their drugs and that they willfully lied about the risks of OxyContin and other opioids. The results of this fabrication include the addiction of thousands of Americans to toxic and dangerous substances and an opioid culture in which the use of OxyContin and other drugs was normalized.

In some cases, the normalization of opioids had consequences that were incredibly beneficial to drug companies but were almost unbelievably impactful in rural American communities. For instance, in 2013, health care providers in West Virginia wrote 110 opioid prescriptions for every 100 people in that state. This ratio of prescriptions to people has had a significantly harmful impact on the people of West Virginia. This state has subsequently become one of the epicenters of the opioid crisis.

It’s obvious that the actions of drug manufacturers and health care providers have directly led to decreased quality of life for thousands of Americans. Some citizens of our country have never known a life without opioids; in West Virginia, the instance of Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS), which is when a baby is born addicted to opioids, rose from 7.7 to 33.4 cases per 1,000 live births per year between 2007 and 2013. Babies born with opioid addiction will suffer the consequences for the rest of their lives.

West Virginia is just one striking example of where opioid addiction has resulted in a harsh toll on human life, but this phenomenon is widespread throughout the entire nation. Opioid addiction and overdose are ravaging the United States, and more and more people suffer from the direct or indirect effects of opioid abuse every year.

Around a quarter of the people in the United States who have been prescribed opioids misuse their drugs, and even a short period of misuse drastically increases your potential for opioid addiction. Even if you never misuse your opioid medication, you can still become addicted.

From Legal to Illegal

Once drug users become hooked on opioids, they’ll search for a different source of the drug they need if they run out. For instance, if their health care provider has an ethical breakthrough or has to comply with state law and decides not to prescribe them any more OxyContin, they’re still addicted to the drug, and they’ll seek alternate ways to get their fix. Unfortunately, illicit forms of opioids are also rampant in the United States, and it’s easy for addicts to get their hands on drugs that are even more dangerous than prescription opioids.

It’s been demonstrated that users are 19 times more likely to start using heroin if they have abused pain relievers before. If illicit opioids were roughly the same strength as prescription options, transferring from legal to illegal opioids wouldn’t cause many more problems than those that are associated with the abuse of prescription medication. However, it’s estimated that fentanyl, which is largely manufactured in China and then smuggled over the Mexican border, is 100 times more potent than morphine.

If an opioid user who has dabbled in heroin, for instance, buys a heroin bag that happens to contain fentanyl, their risk of overdose becomes much higher. Some users decide willingly to try fentanyl, but others are inadvertently exposed to this incredibly potent substance without their knowledge. Since people are much more likely to start using highly dangerous drugs like fentanyl if they have previously been prescribed opiates in a medical setting, the best way to limit the exposure of the American people to this scourge is to impose stricter controls on the opioid prescription protocols in our country.

Why Has Florida Taken Action?

Now that we understand the true nature of opioids, it’s easy to see why the state of Florida has taken action to limit the prescription of these drugs. Over the last few decades, state and federal lawmakers have largely stood by and watched as their communities have been ravaged, as their young generations have been crippled, and as opioids have served as gateway drugs to potent black-market alternatives like fentanyl. Finally, however, public servants around the country are waking up to the serious danger that opioids pose to their constituents, and Florida’s recent reaction to the opioid menace is symptomatic of a great awakening that is occurring across the country.

Everywhere you turn, the tide of opioids, which once seemed unstoppable, is being curbed on every front. Pharmaceutical manufacturers are being held accountable for their lies and greed, and drug lobbyists are losing their influence in Washington. The White House has taken a hard-line approach toward opioids, and a national state of emergency has been declared to push back against the opioid epidemic. Every week, new stories come out about massive drug busts on the U.S./Mexican border, and organized crime syndicates who have profited for too long from the illegal sale of opioids in our county are becoming weakened due to lack of funding.

In the past, opioids were viewed as relatively benign substances with practically limitless potential to help people. Through the early 2000s, miracle stories about PERCOCET and other drugs were promulgated through the mass media apparatus. Thousands of people who wouldn’t have ever considered themselves drug users started trying opioids, and a permissive culture with lots of kickbacks to prescribing physicians caused this drug’s popularity to rise.

However, practically everyone knows someone whose life was destroyed by opioids. When they have adequate access to their drug of choice, opioid addicts are distant, forgetful, and neglectful of their families and friends. If they are ever denied their drugs, however, things can get truly dire.

People experiencing opioid withdrawal can endure profound feelings of nausea or stomach pain. They waste away, and they are often incapable of eating anything besides liquid foods. They complain of intense cramping and pain throughout their bodies, and they are unable to sleep. Due to their intense discomfort, they act out in intense and sometimes terrifying ways, and they may scream or moan at night as they lay in agony unable to sleep.

In some cases, the bodies of opioid addicts begin to break down when they are separated from the drugs upon which they have become addicted, and they need to be carefully guided through the detoxification process to avoid injury. That’s why it’s so important to work with the experts while withdrawing from opioids.

With all of these significant dangers in mind, Florida lawmakers sat down to devise a solution. While limiting the length of opioid prescriptions doesn’t do anything to solve the issues of unwarranted supply and our nation’s permissive drug culture, this new legislation does require that people who use opioids for conditions that aren’t serious stay in close contact with their doctors as they use these potentially dangerous drugs. Most importantly, Florida’s new opioid prescription law brings attention to the dangers that these drugs can cause, and it helps spur on a vital national conversation that has been decades in the making.

kratom-green leaf

Opioid Alternatives: Kratom…? Let’s Find Out

November 28th, 2017 Posted by Awareness, Blog, Opioid Epidemic, Spiritual Experience 0 comments on “Opioid Alternatives: Kratom…? Let’s Find Out”

Kratom has been widely used as one of the “safe” opioid alternatives that are available and legal. Considered as one of the “millennial” drugs with the likes of Molly (MDMA) and such, kratom has been making headlines lately. In particular, the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) warns that kratom is responsible for 36 deaths. Specifics on these deaths are not disclosed. However, some of the long-term side effects of kratom include liver damage and seizures. Regular kratom users, in response, have insisted that these claims are misleading and overstated. [1]

Is the truth somewhere in between? Let’s find out…

What exactly is kratom?

More scientifically known as Mitragyna speciose, kratom has a multitude of descriptions, reputations, and most of all opinions. This tropical evergreen tree is in the coffee family. Its origins are Southeast Asia, more specifically Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Myanmar, and Papua New Guinea. Kratom can be ingested in powder, capsule, and tea, and there are different strains of this substance based on location. This can slightly vary its effects on the user.

And what exactly are those effects, now that we’ve got the formalities out of the way? This is where it gets interesting. In smaller doses, kratom creates a stimulant effect, much like a mild amphetamine, offering a jolt of energy, alertness, and euphoria. However, at higher doses, kratom provides a more sedating effect, similar to an opioid effect. This provides freedom from anxiety, stress, and a false sense of overall well-being, safety, and love.

The effects of kratom last around 5 to 6 hours, and the onset is about 30-40 minutes after ingestion on an empty stomach. With food in the stomach, this time doubles, although this is all an estimate as it depends on the user and the way they metabolize.

Kratom Facts

Kratom, with regular use, does, in fact, create a physical dependency and a withdrawal, although there are many claims that this withdrawal is “mild.” Regular users claim it is comparable to a withdrawal from coffee or tea after steady intake of caffeine, where other research seems to point more to a withdrawal similar to that of an opioid detox, which is quite different. The reported effects of kratom withdrawal are craving, muscle pain, yawning, nausea, fatigue, tremors, mood swings, runny nose, and hostility. These are, in fact, similar to an opioid withdrawal.

Long-term side effects are also similar to that of opioids/opiates: constipation, dependency, and addiction. In addition, reported long-term effects include liver damage, seizures, and hyperpigmentation of the cheeks.

Kratom has been reported to have been used since the 1900s for its “therapeutic effect.” Among some of the therapeutic effects are a natural painkiller, anti-diarrheal, and “increased sociability.” In addition, it is reportedly a natural anti-anxiety medication.

The Addict Perspective

Now that we’ve laid out some facts about kratom, or at least what the users report, let’s look at this from an addict’s perspective.

A drug addict needs to walk on eggshells when considering any substance he/she introduces into the body. There are many red flags in here regarding kratom use, both for the addict and anyone else contemplating use. In the interest of considering addiction, we will look at the addict. Kratom is described as having a “mild dependency syndrome.” I have never known a dependency syndrome to be “mild.” Dependence, by nature, is a terrible beast. There are, perhaps, some more horrific in nature than others. By default, dependence is going to cloud the mind and body, creating attachment, and haunting the user. This is all the more prominent for the drug addict, who will have a reaction to this dependence that is life-altering.

Kratom Capsules

With both the effects of the drug and the withdrawal echoing similar qualities of opioid use and withdrawal, the overall experience must be similar.

What we know of addicts is that there is not much choice involved with the amount of any given drug ingested. So if the preferred effect is the mild stimulant quality achieved in smaller doses, it is doubtful that the decision to manage the amount taken will be entirely in control of the user. When a good thing is presented, the immediate need is always “more.” As tolerance develops to any substance in both the drug addict and the average user, the amount needed increases, some quickly, others slowly.

Opioid Alternatives that are “Natural” or “Therapeutic”

Words such as “natural” and “therapeutic” are dangerous. We love to hear we are taking something natural or taking something for the right reasons, “therapeutically.” Let’s take hallucinogenics, for instance. Hallucinogenics have been experimented with, therapeutically, as a treatment for depression, spiritual experiences, clarity, perspective changes, mind expansion, etc. While this research is valid and results are positive, this is not valid proof that hallucinogenics are the right or safe choice for everyone. The term “therapeutic” legitimizes the use of substances to treat any condition, and this issue must be taken into careful consideration.

“Natural” holds a similar association. Natural does not always mean better, as many think. Opium is natural, as is poison ivy. The holistic approach is excellent, but that does not mean in any way natural will protect one from dependency or dangerous effects. This is another loophole used often by addicts to get away with substance use and/or abuse.

Supporters of kratom insist the medicinal use of kratom is safe, when used properly and in moderation. Many report long time use of kratom with success. Others insist it can be of use in these times of an opioid epidemic. It is being portrayed as a safe, herbal alternative that could potentially help those dealing with opioid addiction. This might be true to someone that is not an addict, and might be a reason why it was able to get the scientific backing necessary to gain DEA and FDA approval. However, in these times of a prescription drug and opioid crisis, FDA approval does not make a drug safe – not by a long shot.

So you make your own conclusion. Serenity Springs stance is this: if you are seeking opioid alternatives, kratom is not a safe choice and we will continue to firmly discourage the use of kratom!

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REFERENCES


  1. Hicks, Jesse. “FDA Warns People Not to Use Kratom, Citing 36 Deaths.” Tonic, 15 Nov. 2017, tonic.vice.com/en_us/article/ne3mdq/fda-kratom-warning-deaths.

Fentanyl Brings Most West Virginia Overdoses in 2017

November 24th, 2017 Posted by Awareness, Opioid Epidemic 1 comment on “Fentanyl Brings Most West Virginia Overdoses in 2017”

According to the Charleston Gazette-Mail, fentanyl has been linked to more deaths than any other drug in the state of West Virginia this year. The staggeringly lethal synthetic opioid is said to be 50 times more potent than heroin and has been driving overdose deaths across the nation. Fentanyl is being increasingly added to heroin unbeknownst to most addicts but has also been linked to overdose incidents related to methamphetamine and cocaine abuse, suggesting that no street drug, dangerous in its own right, is safe from being tampered with. Pure fentanyl has even been pressed into pills, demonstrating how the levels of manipulation in the drug trade have reached such dangerous depths.

West Virginia Overdoses Double in First Half of 2017

Statistics from the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources show that fentanyl-related overdoses have doubled heroin-related overdoses for the first half of 2017. 57% of the overdose deaths in the state was a result of fentanyl, compared to the 26% that were linked to heroin. This trend in West Virginia can be seen as a microcosm of the country at large, as stories of fentanyl overdoses all over the nation have been increasing in both occurrence and severity. In short, it is virtually impossible to overstate the gravity of the opioid epidemic that is sweeping the nation, which in turn has spawned a fentanyl epidemic to be reckoned with.

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< style="color:#222222">THE NEXT OVERDOSE IN AMERICA

On average, 7 Americans die from an overdose of drugs each hour. Drug overdoses are the number one cause of death for Americans under the age of 50. The rate at which Americans are from fentanyl and its related analogs is at 55 per day. These staggering statistics underscore the need for a solution: one that works and one that lasts.

Serenity Springs Recovery Center believes the solution can be found in the components of its program. Highlighted by honesty and compassion, Serenity Springs gives each client the tools to overcome addiction and shows them how to use them, which is why our success stories are so inspiring. If you or a loved one is struggling with drug addiction or alcoholism, please do not hesitate to contact us. Each individual recovered constitutes a victory against the deadly opioid epidemic.

SOMEONE USING STREET DRUGS?

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Volusia County Sheriff Michael Chitwood on WESH 2 News

Serenity Springs Expands as Opioid Epidemic Ignites Volusia County

October 31st, 2017 Posted by Awareness, Blog, News, Opioid Epidemic, Recover, Treatment 0 comments on “Serenity Springs Expands as Opioid Epidemic Ignites Volusia County”

America’s opioid epidemic has made its presence felt right here in Volusia County, with recent headlines leaving no questions of this unfortunate reality. As drug overdose rates continue to rise at an all-time high, there is a crisis concerning the limited resources of addiction treatment centers across the country. Treatment centers in Volusia County, Florida are no exception. On Friday, Volusia County Sherriff Mike Chitwood stated:

“It is easier to get high in Florida than get help.”

Sherriff Chitwood stated his point loud and clear at a panel on Friday, according to the Daytona Beach News-Journal. Behavioral healthcare representatives were seated alongside Sheriff Chitwood at the Ocean Center in Daytona Beach, FL. He was also referring to the state’s lagging efforts to provide adequate services for people in need of substance abuse or mental health treatment. The panel concluded the following:

“Drug treatment capacity is insufficient. Behavioral health providers are overburdened. State funding is inconsistent. Housing for recovering addicts is non-existent.” [1]

Unfortunately, this is the situation in every state, not just Florida.

These are very powerful conclusions that are concise and cut straight to the heart of the issue. As part of the drug & alcohol treatment industry, Serenity Springs is grateful for these words. It seems that Floridians and probably most Americans are unhappy with the state the treatment industry as a whole. Serenity Springs is proud to stand as a reliable solution in the face of a growing and seemingly insurmountable epidemic. We have faith in the strength of our program and the fact that lives and families are being improved daily due in part to the tireless work of our staff.

RA smiles while working the steps with client at Serenity Springs

Fighting the Opioid Epidemic

While much of the content that makes it to the Serenity Springs blog is editorial in nature, it is still bolstered by facts and evidence. The opioid epidemic that has gripped the nation seems to be picking up speed, as some of our nation’s leaders are mobilizing in attempts to slow it down. Treatment professionals at Serenity Springs in Edgewater, FL and New Smyrna Beach, FL will both agree when talking about the unthinkable levels that this epidemic has reached. We must address this on a case-by-case basis if we want to see people overcome the powerful grip of addiction.

Our only argument we have against that panel in Daytona Beach last Friday is this: We want everyone to know that there are some options on the table that have not been fully utilized. Our treatment program provides recovering addicts with the solution that will take them back to the sober way of life. This epidemic has taken enough lives and ruined enough families over the past fifteen years. At a fair cost, we will guarantee outstanding results and positive changes to those in active addiction.

For now, Serenity Springs builds custom treatment plans that are used both inside and outside of our drug rehabilitation programs. These plans include job searching and finding a sober living environment in an area where real recovery exists. As a result, under the care of Serenity Springs and its full continuum of treatment, people are recovering from drug and alcohol addiction.

Serenity Springs logo white

Our intensive outpatient program is always an option to those that cannot afford the cost or time that is necessary for completion of our residential program. We are reintroducing a multi-session format to accommodate the increase in drug abuse associated with the opioid epidemic and the growing need for treatment. Not only is it cost-efficient; our program breaks down and teaches the 12 steps in a way that is just not offered in meetings. We also encourage and hold the addict accountable for working an honest and thorough program of recovery.

What is offered at our outpatient (IOP)?

A therapist is available on-site at our outpatient facility, which is located at 313 Julia Street, New Smyrna Beach, FL 32168. Therapy sessions are available with behavioral psychotherapy to build awareness and ultimately highlight some of the underlying causes of addiction.

MPTI Certified Personal Trainer, Jessica Lawrence, teaches 12-Step Yoga, once a week initiating the physical healing process. This helps with repairing damages from drug and/or alcohol abuse.

Last, but not least, our clients are provided with a “Harvard education” in recovery and the 12-Steps. Kathy Stanton, our IOP Director, makes sure that every client is working a solid program and meeting the requirements on a case-by-case basis. When she and the rest of our treatment team feel that a psychic change has occurred and the client is doing all he/she is asked, they will move on to the next step…

A happy, joyous, and free lifestyle!!

12 step yoga at our Men's Residential program (outdoor yoga)

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REFERENCE


  1. Mike Finch II. “Chitwood: ‘Easier to get high in Florida than get help’ for opioids.” The Daytona Beach News-Journal. 27 Oct. 2017. Web.
a mother staring up looking worried in black and white - Mother's Eyes (heroin addiction & sons) blog

Heroin Addiction: Through a Mother’s Eyes

October 18th, 2017 Posted by Awareness, Blog, Opioid Epidemic, Treatment 2 comments on “Heroin Addiction: Through a Mother’s Eyes”

As an expectant mom, I ate healthily, did not drink coffee or alcohol, and I delivered my babies without any drugs, “Lamaze Natural Child Birth,” and that with 8-9 pound babies with big, round heads. I breastfed and even made baby food. I wanted my children to have a jumpstart on a healthy life. My husband and I encouraged healthy eating, exercise, being good students, and attending church. We were extremely involved in their lives.

My husband did a number of things with them: coached them in sports, Boy Scouts, fishing, camping, and taught them to be honest and loyal. He also taught them that hard work would result in success and satisfaction. So upon discovering that two of our three sons were dealing with addiction to opiates/opioids (Oxy, Methadone, Morphine) and benzos (Xanax & Klonopin), we frequently asked ourselves,

“What did we do wrong? What else could we have done to prevent this?”

Professionals, friends, and family reassured us that it was not what we did or did not do. THIS WAS NOT OUR FAULT! As responsible, supportive parents, this was very difficult to accept. We had no answers. Even after our sons reassured us that it was no fault of our own, but rather the poor choices they made, we felt like we failed as parents.

two brothers one mocking the other in matching plaid shirts - younger and older brothers

Life was Difficult

We sent them to detox after the two of them spent a week at our home, with much pain & discomfort on their end, and stress on our end. We did not know what to do! This was very dangerous!! Their detox from the staggering number of benzodiazepines they were ingesting was done without any medication or professional advice. They could not stomach much, they could not sleep, they couldn’t even put words or thoughts together. Out of our love and hope to “fix” their problems and “cure” their drug addiction, we sent them to a drug & alcohol rehab. This is what parents do, right? But their four-month stint in rehab was finished, what is next?

What came after rehab?

They came home to live with us after completing detox and rehab, and we lived on pins and needles. We worried every time they went out. We worried why they were struggling with finding work, both with college degrees. They were known in town for their athleticism, well-liked for their senses of humor and charisma. But their lives were so different now. They were not used to this lifestyle.

son is looking through the window
"They were not used to this lifestyle."

So many of their friends we dropping out of their lives, Several friends were struggling with addiction as well (NOTE FROM SSRC: This was 2012 and doctor shopping was over, which in turn meant fewer prescription opioids or painkillers on the streets at higher prices. Heroin addiction was rapidly spreading throughout the country, fueling the opioid epidemic). At one point, we had to hide purses and wallets, as we suspected money was disappearing. We were in denial about the power of opioid addiction and addiction in general, saying to ourselves,

“They wouldn’t steal from us… maybe we misplaced it?”

We were afraid to leave our home for long periods of time, unsure of what would go on in our home. The stress in our lives put a damper on living as we definitely imagined our lives would much easier at this point. The most difficult thing was learning the difference between assisting and enabling! To this day, we still do not know. It is a fine line between the two, and neither the assisting or enabling are defined (more about this here). I know we made plenty of mistakes in this area. Another mother, who lived with this for more than twenty years, said something I will never forget. She said,

“Addicts have mastered the skill of lying, and as parents, we really want to believe them.”

mother hugging happy son

I can honestly say that hindsight makes it easy to criticize our own actions and mistakes. One thing I know, I love them UNCONDITIONALLY. Most parents will continue to fight, love, and support their children. This thing called addiction is tough; we are forced to take it one day at a time. My youngest calls me every day now, knowing how the worry affects me.

Neither of us wants those feelings of shame (for him) and worry (for me) to happen again. Relapses have occurred, but he still calls regardless after he heard how this affected me as a mother. He is now in Florida and no longer lost or alone, 1000+ miles away, as we remain cold most of the year in New Jersey. His older brother, unfortunately, passed away two and half years ago.

We Appreciate Serenity Springs

Our son went to Serenity Springs Recovery Center in Edgewater, FL almost three years ago.The support of their staff, alumni, and even their owners/managers have helped him stay on track. It is remarkable to hear this after witnessing other treatment centers would send him right back into life without any type of structure to ease back in. Relapses occurred on both drugs and alcohol, getting worse each time. He even added a few new additions to his rough journey of recovering from his “pill problem.” At one point, he was convinced that his problem was strictly Oxy and Xanax. Everything else was fair game. That went on for a while, each time ending with state-run rehab, arrests and/or jail time. We believe he has finally stopped the bleeding and struggling to find happiness and fulfillment. Again I have to extend a big thank you from our family to Serenity Springs in Florida. That phrase that I was unsure of is making sense now!

STOP RECOVERING AND RECOVER

Want to know the real meaning?

STOP RECOVERING

AND RECOVERING

NEVER GIVE UP HOPE

We did not and will not give up on the daily struggle that addiction continues to be. We have taken our lumps in stride as a family. Our family is now stronger and our son’s second family has become larger in New Smyrna Beach, FL. One thing remains the same though: while our lives keep moving, we continue to live ONE DAY AT A TIME!

 

Written By: Louise (mother of a Serenity Springs Alumni)

KDA6Y7 Staten Island, NY, USA. 12th Oct, 2017. NY Governor Andrew Cuomo announces support for a new bill that would categorize 11 different Fentanyl variations as controlled substances giving law enforcement the ability to pursue dealers and manufacturers of the drug across NY State in a press conference on Staten Island in New York City on October 12, 2017. Credit: Dennis Van Tine/Media Punch/Alamy Live News

Fentanyl Epidemic: Week in Review

October 16th, 2017 Posted by Awareness, Blog, News, Opioid Epidemic 0 comments on “Fentanyl Epidemic: Week in Review”

On Wednesday, New York State Governor, Andrew Cuomo held a press hearing to discuss a move implementing a significant crack-down on deadly pharmaceutical opioid drug fentanyl. Less than 24 hours before Governor Cuomo made the announcement; there were 14 overdoses in a four-hour time frame due to the synthetic opioid just down the road in Camden, New Jersey. Camden County, NJ ranks one in New Jersey’s heroin overdose frequency. [1]

Summary of the epidemic:

Drug overdose is the number one cause of death for Americans who are under age 50. Many state legislations report the overdose spike is related to the easily-accessible, synthetic opioid made by pharmaceutical companies. [2] FENTANYL is the name for those not paying attention to the opioid, AKA heroin, and for now, it is also the fentanyl epidemic. Puzzled parents and loved ones of opioid-dependent addicts now with more reason to fear a knock at the door or the phone ringing. They’re left to question, “What is fentanyl?” and “What are we doing to stop the never-ending, always-growing opioid & fentanyl epidemic?”

What does fentanyl look like?

There are really no distinct traits of fentanyl that make it stand out from heroin, cocaine or any other street drugs. The color is usually white or tan, when in powder form. However, there are many unique forms or “faces” of fentanyl. This is yet another reason it is so dangerous: the many ways it is produced, prescribed, smuggled, manufactured, and/or ordered into the wrong hands.

Not to mention, the staggering number of “research chemicals” that are coming from the internet, under the radar. These chemicals are shipped with a label, identifying them with a scientific formula. They also have a name, usually complex, with the drug name somehow mixed into it i.e. methoxyacetyl-fentanyl powder. The label will have something like, “USE FOR RESEARCH PURPOSES ONLY” or “NOT FOR HUMAN CONSUMPTION,” which is or once was a way of reducing penalties for possession. This is some frightening information. That means that anyone with internet access, an address, and credit card can simply click the “I certify that I am 18 or older” checkbox and “research chemicals” will be delivered! Most of these chemicals are made in a lab, usually in China, and shipped from the same place.

SOME FACES OF FENTANYL

pop/liquid

ACTIQ (oral transmucosal fentanyl citrate)
Fentanyl Citrate liquid (50 mcg/mL fentanyl) tiny brown bottle - Serenity Springs Recovery

molecule

chemist model of fentanyl (molecular make-up)
similar stickers appear on research chemicals

patch

fentanyl (transdermal patch) with cover on it

What is fentanyl used for?

Fentanyl is classified as an analgesic, commonly known as an opioid pain medication like morphine and OxyContin. The only similarity between fentanyl and morphine is just that, their classification. Differences, there are a bunch, the biggest being the strength of fentanyl. This lethal drug packs 50-100 times the power of morphine. Some forms of fentanyl analogs carry up to 10,000 times the potency levels we commonly see in prescription opioids, such as OxyContin, morphine, and Dilaudid. [3]

Celebrity Usage Exposed

Other common methods of delivery include gel patches and fentanyl lollipops. Media and many celebrities including pop princess, Britney Spears and the late music icon, Prince have been suspected of publically ingesting and referencing the opioid-laced lollipop. The death of Prince was said to be the direct result of his opioid dependence, which included fentanyl and fentanyl lollipops. Not only are the lollipops appealing to the youth of America, the media felt exposing dangerous drug use information about pop icons was necessary too. Just like any other addiction, this intimidating and deadly substance can grab a hold of anyone, anywhere.

Prince promotional picture early in his career (Died from fentanyl overdose April 21, 2016)

Overdoses Out of Control

Of the estimated 64,000 drug overdose deaths in 2016, the most significant increase occurred among deaths related to fentanyl with over 20,000 overdose deaths. According to the New York Times, estimated deaths due to drug overdose went up 19% from 2015 to 2016. This unfavorable sweep of death and destruction by from opioid-induced drug addiction doesn’t seem like it’s decreasing anytime soon. Adding insult to injury on Wednesday, October 12, 2017, Camden, New Jersey reported fourteen overdoses in four hours as the result of fentanyl-laced heroin.

KNOW SOMEONE USING FENTANYL/HEROIN?

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Fentanyl Epidemic Eruption

Unfortunately, acute tragedies involving several opioid-related overdoses are reported nationwide every day. West Virginia who leads the country’s overdose rates by three times the national average, in 2016 communicated 27 heroin-induced overdoses in only 4 hours. Early this year West Virginia Public Broadcasting cited a 46 percent increase in overdose deaths in the state in just four years. They claim direct relation to the rise of fentanyl and the choice mixture among drug traffickers to increase potency levels of heroin.

Massachusetts has recently put most of its energy and effort in combating this drug over any other drug, including heroin. The Boston Globe this month ran a story in which they interviewed Michael J. Ferguson, a special agent who oversees the New England field division of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). In the article, they quoted Fergenson pleading, “Fentanyl is manufactured death, and it’s like no other epidemic that I’ve come across in my 27 years at DEA.” Mr. Fergenson and the rest of the state of Massachusetts saw that among the 1,899 death by opioid overdose in 2016, 69 percent of them tested positive for fentanyl.

Fentanyl Epidemic Headlines:

States all over the country are starting to feel the crippling power that fentanyl has over its citizens. The fentanyl epidemic is starting to explode nationwide. These are just some of this week’s major headlines involving fentanyl [10.8.17-10.15.17]

MARYLAND: Police seize over 6000 fentanyl pills while serving warrant in Baltimore


NEBRASKA: Investigators capture more than 30 pounds of fentanyl


NEW JERSEY: Governor Christie passes legislation to combat fentanyl-laced heroin


COLORADO: Registered nurse arrested for stealing fentanyl intended for patients


VIRGINIA: Fentanyl Hazmat exercise held in Virginia Beach


PENNSYLVANIA: Drug rehab founder accused of providing fentanyl to addict patients


FLORIDA: Authorities find 11-year child dead from fentanyl exposure during a raid

What can we do to stop this?

As of today, there is really no answer for why, when or how this epidemic is going to end. It seems that drugs will always be a problem in this country and throughout the world regardless of the efforts made by police, armed forces, government, citizens, etc. of any country. At Serenity Springs Recovery Center, we do not worry about the numbers or politics involved, even though these are hot topics in America. We are here to offer a solution for addiction and change the lives of suffering addicts and alcoholics. These changes come from the knowledge and spiritual principles that we instill into their daily lives. This can and will happen for all that thoroughly work our program of recovery.

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REFERENCES


  1. Vicki Batts. “Drug Overdose Is Now Leading Cause of…” CDC News. 13 Sept. 2017. Web.
  2. “Fentanyl.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 11 Oct. 2017. Web.
  3. Milo, Paul. “14 Overdoses in 4 Hours Linked to Fentanyl-laced Heroin.” NJ.com. NJ.com, 12 Oct. 2017. Web.
wood bridge leading into the woods - Serenity Springs logo - Bridge Blog (cover)

Opiate Withdrawal Finds Solution in Volusia County

September 18th, 2017 Posted by Blog, News, Opioid Epidemic, Treatment 0 comments on “Opiate Withdrawal Finds Solution in Volusia County”

Among the circles of recovery in New Smyrna Beach, Daytona Beach, and throughout Volusia County, Florida, you experience and watch life get really good, or really bad. It vacillates between weddings, graduations, accomplishments, celebrations, or funerals. As a person in long-term recovery, I have attended my share of funerals. With the opiate epidemic and opiate withdrawal sweeping the country, any innovative solutions are intriguing, one, in particular, being The Bridge.

The Bridge

The Bridge is nothing short of a lifeline. Worn behind the ear, and free of opiates, The Bridge is a small device that works as a peripheral nerve stimulator, blocking pain signals by targeting cranial nerves. With its effect on the brain functions of the hypothalamus and the amygdala, it stops withdrawal symptoms in its tracks.

The Mind of an Addict Through Opiate Withdrawal

Let me take you on a tour of the mind of an addict. As an ex-opiate/heroin addict, there were hundreds of times I did anything to evade opiate withdrawal. This is parallel to the hundreds of women I’ve assisted in getting sober as well over the last five years.

Why? Why do we evade? Logically speaking, and from the average, unaddicted Joe’s perspective, acute withdrawal is only a few days in duration. Who can’t get through a few days? Isn’t it like having the flu? And why should we get to evade suffering?

Because there’s no logic driving the unprecedented brain of an addict in withdrawal. Because the experience of withdrawal causes the brain to send signals to the system saying,

“We’re dying. We’ll do anything to survive.”

Because us suffering withdrawal with do little to nothing to imprint the horror of the experience in such a way that will teach us not to do it again. Experience shows us this. And it is not, in fact, like having the flu.

Bridging the Gap of Sobriety and Addiction

The Bridge aids withdrawal symptoms for the first five days of withdrawal, and let’s be clear; the sole purpose is to aid in these first five days. After that, the real work starts; the core of the insanity of addiction lies in the fact that, even after being fully detoxed, nothing clouding our system, we will pick up again, without treatment. Hence the imprint of suffering having no weight in us not using again.

Tragically, many of us do not reach this point of crossroads in choosing life rather than death and doing this work. We run from withdrawal again and again. Withdrawal does not inspire the logical decision to get through it once and not use again. For the addict, it inspires the opposite; keep using, at absolutely any cost.

If we can “Bridge” over the first five days (yes, pun intended), we have crossed a major hurdle. Those five days feel like five years to an addict. We have now reached an opportunity to do the work necessary for freedom, should we be willing.

Opiate Free Solution to Opiate Withdrawal

I tried every which way; both long-term and short-term Suboxone, Methadone, Vivitrol, complete obliteration with other substances, you name it. The Bridge is opiate free, with a less than 1% failure rate. At an out-of-pocket cost of $495, which opiate users generally do not have, this has caught the attention of insurance companies and funding is currently in the works. Perhaps your support can help.

The Bridge works with us, not against us. It is revolutionary, the first of its kind, and will save lives. Rates of death are soaring and overdose often happens in the throes of withdrawal; I have lived through four near-fatal overdoses myself from this exact scenario, not to mention the years I burned running from withdrawal altogether. According to the Chicago Tribune, there were over 50,000 overdose deaths in 2015.

opiate withdrawal can lead to opioid overdose - map of the overdoses in the US in 2015 - economist.com

You Can Detox Comfortably

Join Serenity Springs, one of the best rehab centers in Florida, and get through your withdrawal symptoms comfortably! Check out The Bridge which we can have placed by one of our licensed clinicians at our outpatient facility in New Smyrna Beach, FL. We also offer other holistic, drug treatment options for opiate/opioid withdrawal and substance abuse.

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Greetings from Krokodil - Russia - postcard (blog image)

Krokodil: Greetings from Russia

September 15th, 2017 Posted by Awareness, Blog, Opioid Epidemic 0 comments on “Krokodil: Greetings from Russia”

Krokodil has made its way to the US and it has been wreaking havoc since the day it arrived. An incredibly powerful opioid, Krokodil in the US is putting law enforcement on high alert as it’s affordable and relatively easy to make, which makes it a dangerous replacement drug for those hooked on other opioids, such as heroin.

What is Krokodil?

Made in a manner similar to meth, Krokodil came from Siberia, cutting its path across Russia and the western countries in Europe. What is krokodil? Officially known as Desomorphine, this hardcore street drug is created with krokodil ingredients that include gasoline, paint thinner, lighter fluid, iodine, and hydrochloric acid.

While it acts like an opioid, providing sedative and pain relieving effects, Krokodil is different because it is cooked.

Increasing Availability

Krokodil in the US could not have come at a worse time, considering the opiate crisis the nation is facing in 2017. With its affordability and increasing availability, Krokodil is already being met with lethal consequences in this country as addicts turn to it for a fix when they can’t afford other, “higher-end” drugs.

Although the drug Krokodil is still much less known in the United States, with the majority of production still heavily focused in Russia, authorities are fearful that it will rapidly spread.

Deadliest Designer Drug

According to a fascinating article published in Time, “Krokodil… was the deadliest designer drug ever to sweep through Russia… it wound up ensnaring hundreds of thousands of addicts across the country, and it spread especially fast in poor, industrial areas.” The same article goes on to speak about the gruesome effects of this homemade drug, saying that the “flesh at the injection site would often rot away, while the tissues of the brain and other vital organs were severely eroded.”

Treatment is Urgent

The need for Krokodil drug treatment is urgent, as serious damage can be done with just one use. If you or someone you know is struggling with substance abuse addiction, be sure to find a reputable drug addiction treatment center for them to get help from.

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boy with whirlwind over head while parents talk (drug talk) - blog image for Serenity Springs

No Preparation: Our Son is an Addict

September 2nd, 2017 Posted by Awareness, Blog, Disease of Addiction, Opioid Epidemic, Spiritual Experience, Treatment 2 comments on “No Preparation: Our Son is an Addict”

Nothing could have prepared me for what I would encounter in my life. I was so fulfilled as a mother of three sons living miles from the infamous Jersey Shore in Monmouth County, NJ. They were all handsome, intelligent, athletic, and had the greatest senses of humor ‒ all of them. There were the normal hurdles, but our family was so happy and so very close. My husband and I, both teachers, were involved In our community serving on many different committees and actively participating in programs involving youth, including the Alliance Against Drug and Alcohol Abuse in Long Branch, New Jersey. Never did we imagine our lives would be so impacted by drug addiction.

This Wasn’t Our Son

Somehow we missed the obvious signs that existed in our home. Suspicions were often quelled more by what we wanted to hear and believe. The strongest medication in our medicine cabinet was aspirin. We knew that many of their friends and classmates were having issues, but certainly not our sons. Then the reality hit us hard; one of our sons was acting strangely ‒ no drive, unproductive, coming and going at strange times, and not associating with his good friends. He was not at all like the man we once knew.

“Suspicions were often quelled more by what we wanted to hear and believe.

The strongest medication in our medicine cabinet was aspirin.” -Louise B.

video from drug-alliance.org

What do we do now?

Upon discovering (another story for another time), we had no idea what to do, where to go, who to ask for help. My son was battling opioid addiction (i.e. Oxycodone, Oxycontin & Methadone) coupled with benzodiazepines addiction (i.e. Xanax & Klonopin); a dangerous drug combination that mirrors the effects of heroin. I turned to my computer to find help. A site came up offering help. I did not know what else to do, so I called the number that popped up when I entered… “son, drugs, help.” The next day, after an intervention with a young man who flew in from the program, our youngest son left for a program in California. I cried nonstop for days. I was never so scared. For many reasons, this program (based on Scientology methods) did not work. This was just the beginning relapses with months and years of bouncing around to different drug/alcohol rehabs. Finding facilities was still a trip into unknown territory. One facility claimed to take insurance, released him after two weeks… only to have him return to quickly using.

This time when I discovered what he was doing, I knew I had to find a better program. Ironically, the NJ News channel was doing a story on a new rehab center in Florida started by a father and son from New Brunswick, New Jersey. They believed that a successful program would be one that had just a few clients, all the same sex, and the program encompassed treatment for mind, body, and soul for the three-part disease of addiction. It sounded like a perfect fit. Certainly worth a try!

Serenity Springs is Different

The attention Serenity Springs gave to my son was just what he needed. The staff was professional and caring. They kept us informed and allowed our son to call us. (That first program did not allow any contact for weeks, and then calls could only be made from a pay phone on the site with an expensive card we had to purchase). I loved that they knew that healthy family involvement was a factor in healing, and it helped us as well.

A family hugs outside addiction treatment center
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New Jersey’s “Grey Death” Heroin

September 1st, 2017 Posted by Awareness, Blog, Opioid Epidemic 1 comment on “New Jersey’s “Grey Death” Heroin”

While the issue of heroin addiction has made headlines in New Jersey as of late, a new and even more frightening trend is shocking the state and the nation. Heroin addicts and others hooked on prescription drugs are turning to this highly potent mixture for their next fix known as “Grey Death,” and the result is lethal.

"Grey Death" heroin siezed from streets (buzzfeed.com)

“Grey Death”

According to experts, Grey Death is a mixture of heroin, fentanyl, carfentanil, and U-47700, producing a drug that can kill within seconds. Even one tiny grain of the cement-like substance is enough to be lethal. Some say that even touching it can be dangerous.

So, what exactly is this substance that New Jersey heroin addicts cannot wait to get their hands on?

Heroin, a natural opioid, is dangerous enough on its own. When you add fentanyl, which is known to be 100 times more powerful than heroin, and carfentanil, which is a synthetic opioid used to tranquilize large animals like elephants, it is no wonder that the result can so quickly cause fatalities.

U-47700

To top it all off, U-47700, or “pink”, is another synthetic opioid, one so powerful that less than 1 mg not only produces a high, but it can be instantly fatal. In October 2016 Serenity Springs’ Clinical Staff was interviewed by NBC News Orlando about the extreme dangers of this new potent opioid.

Get Help for Opioid Addiction

As one of the top drug rehab centers in Florida, Serenity Springs’ addiction center continues to treat heroin users who have all experienced a brush with these deadly new opioids. Serenity Springs’ Admissions Coordinator, Thomas Fain explains, “heroin use is like playing Russian Roulette regardless, but now it is more severe than ever. I am seeing more and more of these synthetic opioids, but more than ever they remain consistent with the Northeast tri-state area (New Jersey, New York, and Connecticut).”

With such a dangerous drug making its way to the streets of New Jersey, it is important that heroin users know there are options for opioid addiction. Current heroin users are more prone to try Grey Death and other deadly substances. Getting separated from the streets and admitted into a treatment center with a solution is vital!

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Xanax: New Jersey’s Silent Epidemic

August 30th, 2017 Posted by Awareness, Blog, Opioid Epidemic 1 comment on “Xanax: New Jersey’s Silent Epidemic”

While an issue for the nation as a whole, perhaps no other state is feeling the opioid crisis as much as New Jersey. To help take action towards fighting the issue, in 2016 over thirty doctors in the state were disciplined for being too lax with prescriptions. Although just part of the problem, doctors that do not adhere to guidelines strictly enough should face disciplinary action. Four out of five new heroin users start off their habit with prescription drugs.

Doctor holding a prescription Rx that says XANAX - Serenity Springs blog

Among the prescription drugs most abused is Xanax. Used to treat anxiety and panic attacks, Xanax is highly addictive if not taken properly.

Xanax withdrawal can be fatal

For people who have become dependent on the drug, a difficult Xanax withdrawal is ahead. Xanax withdrawal symptoms, which include headaches, blurry vision, aggression, and seizures. These are among the most dangerous symptoms of all prescription drugs. It is not uncommon for a withdrawal to be life threatening or even fatal.

New Jersey isn’t alone in this issue, with several other states in the nation dealing with people who have become addicted to the dangerous prescription drug. In order to help ensure that new, even more, lethal street drugs aren’t sought after to get a fix, individuals must look for effective and safe treatment centers that can help them safely get through withdrawals.

For more information on benzodiazepine addiction and the best resources to get help; please call Serenity Springs.
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