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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.

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, Opioid Epidemic, 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.
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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KNOW A FENTANYL USER?

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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.
LAW Enforcement Appreciation Day at Serenity Springs - Poster

Inaugural Law Enforcement Appreciation Day

September 19th, 2016 Posted by Awareness, Blog 0 comments on “Inaugural Law Enforcement Appreciation Day”
Our inaugural Law Enforcement Appreciation Day was a huge success! Police officers, city council, community members, sponsors, and folks in recovery all came out to enjoy the event and give endless thanks to our law enforcement. Police officers are often the first wake up call for an addict who is suffering from active addiction. (more…)

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