Posts tagged "epidemic"

The Opioid Epidemic | A Nation In Pain

June 13th, 2019 Posted by Blog 0 comments on “The Opioid Epidemic | A Nation In Pain”

The Opioid Epidemic

For more than a decade, the US has been experiencing an opioid epidemic. Each year the number of deaths by drug overdose continue to increase in the United States. Every day in America, on average, there are 130 deaths due to opioid overdose. In the United States, more than 700,200 people suffered death by drug overdose between the years 1999 and 2017.

These numbers are shocking, and unless we confront this tragedy, which is The Opioid Epidemic, it won’t be long before it begins to face all of us. Not just the addict, but the entire United States, every year is becoming more affected by the opioid epidemic. In this article, we are going to cover the brief history of why we are now witnessing this eternal destruction caused by the recent rise in both legal and illegal opioids. This article also provides anyone seeking drug and alcohol treatment the proper information in order to transition into a Florida Recovery Center like Serenity Springs. If you been affected by opioids like so many other Americans, we suggest reading this article on The Opioid Epidemic. If you or your loved one is struggling with addiction, call a Serenity Springs addiction professional today. [1]

What is an Opioid?

what is an opioid - info-graphic

Opioids are substances that act on the brain’s receptors producing morphine-like effects. Medically, opioids are primarily prescribed to patients who require pain relief. Opioids are also used as a form of anesthesia.

Opioids fall under the class of drugs, which include heroin, synthetic opioids like fentanyl, and prescription pain relievers. (morphine, oxycodone, hydrocodone) [2]

What is an Epidemic?

The Meriam Webster definition of an epidemic is:

  1. An outbreak of disease that spreads quickly and affects many individuals at the same time : an outbreak of epidemic disease.
  2. Affecting or tending to affect a disproportionate large number of individuals within a population, community, or region at the same time.

The Opioid Crisis

The roots of the opioid crisis are more deep-seated than popular narrative suggests. Examining the onset of America’s opioid epidemic brings precisely how and why we got here to light. Was this an honest push by honest medical professionals to aid patients pain with ethical narcotics? These are same narcotics they stood in fear of prescribing even terminal cancer patients up until opioid crisis info-graphicthe 1990s. Is the cause of this ever-growing American tragedy an accident? Or, was it a calculated marketing effort by big pharma and the rest of the usual medical suspects? Time to examine the facts.

Opioid Epidemic in the 1970s

Before the Big Pharma opioid push of the late 1990s, physicians were reluctant to prescribe opioid medication for fearing that patients would become addicted. Into the 1970s physicians and nurses were trained to give minimal opioids for pain, often less than prescribed, unless death seemed imminent. However, this common practice of neglecting opioids to treat pain, specifically for cancer patients, was about to be reversed for the first time.

What was to follow has been nothing short of a nightmare for many American citizens, both young and old, rich or poor. This US nightmare began as an ethical attempt to treat everyday Americans who where experiencing physical discomfort and pain. One can argue the irony that has taken place as a result of what began with opioid prescription medication. Medication that was designed to take away the pain for suffering individuals. The adverse result is a country in more pain due to the inundation and addiction of less restricted, much deadlier, illegal street opioids like heroin and fentanyl. [4]

Opioid Epidemic in the 1980s

In the 1980s, the medical community began to treat acute pain frequently with opioids. Propoxyphene, a powerful prescription opiate, became the second-most dispensed drug in the United States. Top cancer specialist Kathleen Foley published two articles, in 1981/86, illustrating low rates of addiction in small groups of cancer and non-cancer patients. These articles started a massive debate between pain management specialists and professionals, arguing that long-term opioid therapy was safe. Several pain management specialists pointed out the high risks of opioid dependence, opioid overdose, and side effects caused by opioid addiction. Foley’s articles, along with other efforts, started a 20-year campaign to prescribe opioids for long-term pain management. This campaign included long-term, opioid pain management for both cancer and non-cancer patients.[4]

What followed was nothing short of a nightmare for many American citizens. This nightmare began as an ethical attempt to treat regular people that were experiencing physical discomfort and/or pain. No one could have predicted what this sudden reversal of medical opinion on opioid medication would do to the citizens of the United States. This change of opinion had a colossal impact on the American People. As of June 13th, 2019, there is no end in sight. It is fascinating to explore how quickly the United States became flooded with opioid prescriptions, the world’s purest heroin, and the most deadly synthetic opioid, fentanyl.

From 1990 to 1995, prescriptions for opioids increased by 2-3 million each year.

Opioid Epidemic in the 1990s

The medical community received a reassurance from Big Pharma, stating that patients needing pain relief would not become addicted to opioid-based pain medication. Consequently, this led to widespread misuse of these medications before the truth came out… these medications were and are highly addictive. As a result, opioid overdose rates began to increase and have not slowed down since.

number of deaths by opioid overdose-1999/2017The Institute of Medicine issued a report attributing the rise in chronic pain prevalence during the 1990s to the following:

    • Higher patient expectations for pain relief.
    • Musculoskeletal disorders of an aging population.
    • Increase in Obesity in the US.
    • Increased survivorship after injury & cancer
    • Increasing frequency & complexity of surgery.

Opioids in 2017

    • Death by opioid overdose killed more than 47,000 Americans, which included prescription opioids, heroin, and fentanyl.
    • An estimated 1.7 million Americans suffered from substance abuse addiction related to prescription opioid pain relievers.
    • More than 652,000 suffered from heroin use disorder (not mutually exclusive).

Three Waves of the Opioid Epidemic

The first wave ignited during the mid to late 1990s when overdose deaths from opioids began to increase. During this time, most overdose deaths involved prescription opioids (natural and semi-synthetic opioids and methadone).

The second wave began in 2010 with the beginning of a massive increase in overdose deaths involving heroin; here is why. With the rising dependency and tolerance of prescription opioids, many people transitioned to a more potent and cheaper alternative, including heroin/fentanyl. During this time frame, uncrushable Oxycontin was introduced, making it more challenging to use intravenously and through the nasal. As a result, those individuals addicted to prescription pain killers turned to the more potent, less expensive heroin/fentanyl.

The third wave started in 2013 and continues to this present day. The United States began to see more efficient global supply chains like China inundating illegal heroin/opioid markets with the more potent synthetic opioid, fentanyl. What is fentanyl? Fentanyl is a powerful synthetic opioid that is similar to morphine but is 50 to 100 times more potent and shockingly deadlier. Between the years of 2013 through 2016, death by fentanyl-related overdose climbed over 540% nationally. This very rapid, very deadly acceleration of the opioid epidemic has led to the United States government declaring this crisis as a national public health emergency.

every 25 minutes a baby is born in opioid withdrawal-info-graphicConsequences of the Opioid Epidemic

    • Americans in 2019 consume 80% of the entire world’s supply of opioid pain medications. 
    • The overall life expectancy in the United States has dropped for the first time since 1993, particularly for those under age 65 years.
    • The highest increase as the cause of death (with a 6.7% increase between 2014 and 2015) was from unintentional injuries, including drug overdoses.
    • Drug overdose has surpassed firearms and motor vehicle trauma as the most common cause of accidental death among adults.
    • County-level estimates highlight that nearly every geographic area in the country has seen marked increases of opioid-related deaths
    • In 2017, 81,000 people in the United Stated used heroin for the first time.

Opioid Prevention

The harsh consequences that opioid abuse and addiction has created across the United States has resulted in opioid prevention becoming a vital part of our society. More than any time in history, government officials, treatment centers, medical professionals, law enforcement, and entire communities are coming together and taking part in opioid prevention. The following are some ways to help prevent opioid abuse or help someone recover if they are currently addicted.

  1. 12-Step programs – Programs like AA, NA, and HA are a tremendous help and support for someone to recover from opiate addiction. These programs help prevent opioid addiction and abuse by helping someone who is addicted heal internally, emotionally, and spiritually.
  2. Monitor your doses of prescription pain meds – If it is necessary to take opioids/opiates to recover from surgery, or for chronic pain, it can be helpful to have a family member or loved one administer the medication. Having accountability will help prevent opioid abuse and addiction.
  3. Individual counseling – Although opiates are created to curb physical pain, many times someone who is abusing opiates uses the drug to feel less emotional pain. Mental health issues and traumas like PTSD are many times at the root of an opioid/opiate addiction.
  4. Vivitrol and Naltrexone – Both are non-narcotic drugs used in opioid prevention. Vivitrol and naltrexone both contain properties that block opiate receptors. Therefore, someone who is on either medication will not experience the high if they try to take on opiate.
  5. Amino Acid Therapy – Amino acid IV therapy is another great tool in preventing future opioid abuse. A specific combination of amino acids are given to an individual to help repair damage done to receptor sites by the opiates. The process can help spark a speedy recovery from opiates and help curb future opioid cravings and withdrawals.
  6. Residential and Intensive Outpatient Treatment (IOP) – Many times it is necessary for someone addicted to opiates to have a more structured setting in order to fully recover. Outcomes for people recovering from addiction are usually greater in those who received a well-structured treatment program.

Serenity Springs Recovery Center Residential CampusTo learn more about opioid prevention and how to deal with opiate or opioid addiction, call an addiction specialist at Serenity Springs Addiction Hotline

Content Sources: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention , National Institute of Drug Abuse, Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Poison Control

 

woman holding index finger over lips for deafening silence blog post on recovery blog

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!!

man opening green beer bottle with bottle opener while driving his car - Serenity Springs Recovery

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!

Know an opioid addict?

Save a life... get professional help now!

Addicted to opioids?

Get help, avoid an overdose!

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…)

prescription pill bottle tipped over with pinkish orange pills coming out - white background for Florida opioid prescription law blog post - Serenity Springs

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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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.

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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.

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