Posts tagged "withdrawal"

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Deafening Silence: Uncovering My Son’s Opioid Addiction

March 23rd, 2019 Posted by Awareness, Opioid Epidemic, Treatment 0 comments on “Deafening Silence: Uncovering My Son’s Opioid Addiction”

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, “his commission did not come through yet.” We noticed that his good friends were no longer coming around our home. He also began going out 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.

We then suddenly notice that Brad was saving trouble processing his thoughts. He repeated stories that he expressed great concern over. Things on the TV seemed to disturb him. Whitney Houston had just been found dead in her bathtub due to an 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!” said Brad, unable to connect sentences that made sense.

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 benzos 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.

My husband decided to take him for a ride to get flowers for me on Valentine’s Day. We had only a moment to speak to one another regarding what course of action 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 his shared apartment. 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!

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… silence. 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…and it was so 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, 30 mg 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!

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. These are real numbers that have been checked and verified by a medical professional who was able to get these numbers for legal purposes due to the state’s Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP).

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 them were for Xanax. Later on, I learned that the opioid and benzo combination 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,

“oxy… lots of 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.

I made a call to the number of a rehab in California that looked very good. At the time, I was standing in my garage, which was at about 30 degrees, Fahrenheit. I spilled out my story through sobs. 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.

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!]

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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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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.
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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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