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Friday, August 4, 2017

Addiction Treatment: Answer to The Opioid Epidemic

addiction treatment
One of the problems with tackling the American opioid addiction epidemic is its unprecedented nature. Sure, we have faced drug addiction crises in the past, but nothing as severe nor as deadly. Coupled with the fact that the opioids being abused are coming from several different fronts. On the one hand, we have opioid painkillers prescribed by doctors—in many cases over-prescribed. Then there is the problem of heroin and even more deadly fentanyl coming from Mexico. However, and more importantly: Where these dangerous drugs are originating is not as salient as what is to be done about the millions of Americans already in the grips of an opioid use disorder.

You have seen the headlines, whether you are in the field of addiction or not, you know that the problem we face is catastrophic. You have heard of various pieces of legislation crafted to combat the epidemic, right? Perhaps you thought that it would have a significant impact on lowering the death toll? Unfortunately, that has not been the case, showing once again that this crisis will not dissipate without putting up a fight.

This week, the Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis released a preliminary report citing data which estimates the daily overdose death toll at 142 Americans, the Associated Press reports. Yes, 142 mothers, daughters, fathers and sons' lives cut short by a mental illness which can be effectively treated. And yet, the clear majority of the over 2 million people with an opioid use disorder have not been benefited by addiction treatment services.


Addiction Treatment Has Always Been The Solution

Lawmakers can make it harder to acquire prescription opioids. Doctors can utilize prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMP) to identify risky patients. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) can mandate the use of abuse-deterrent painkiller formulas. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) can double their efforts at the border to mitigate the number of drugs making it across. The aforementioned efforts are sure to help, potentially saving many lives.

The reality, though, must be faced. Right now, prescription opioids are the most effective method of pain management. Doctors will continue to prescribe them to patients exhibiting the need. PDMP’s can make doctor shopping harder, but many prescription opioids can be acquired on the black market. Addicts are notorious for finding ways to circumvent abuse deterrent drug properties. The cartels will find new ways to get around the DEA and U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents.

If people are living with untreated addiction, they will find a way to get their hands on the drugs they seek. If there is demand, supply is sure to follow. Just as the “war on drugs’ proved to be an unwinnable fight, targeting the opioid supply will not have the desired effect. Conversely, placing greater focus on the demand, is the best option.

This is accomplished by providing greater access to treatment, emphasizing recovery over punishment. A fact that has not been lost on the Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis, who has asked the President to declare a national emergency regarding the epidemic. The commission states that such a declaration would “force Congress to focus on funding” and to “awaken every American to this simple fact: if this scourge has not found you or your family yet, without bold action by everyone, it soon will.”


Addiction Treatment Can Save Your Life

If you, or someone you love, suffers from an opioid use disorder—treatment is perhaps the only thing that can prevent catastrophe. The likelihood of an overdose is extremely high, a question of “when” not “if.” Please do not hesitate, contact us at Whiteside Manor. We can help break the cycle of addiction and show you how living a life in recovery is possible.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Dark Web Banning Fentanyl

The Internet can be an amazing tool, or a destructive resource. It depends on who you are talking to about the subject. One can use the world-wide web to find information on, well… anything. Which is great, most of the time. In other situations, however, the Internet can be used to acquire deadly, illegal goods such as drugs. We have written in the past about the “Dark Web.” What started with the Silk Road has morphed into a sprawling marketplace, with several websites that operate anonymously. Providing a forum for people to buy and sell anything from passports to heroin.

We will not take time to get into the minutiae regarding the ins and outs of the Dark Web. For that you can easily refer to some of our previous articles on the subject. Today’s post has more to do with opioids, as the drugs are one of the number one killers of Americans, today. One can easily get their hands on anything from OxyContin to heroin, anonymously (most of the time). Two drugs that have been involved in thousands of premature deaths over the last 15+ years.

While the FBI was able to close down the Silk Road, several more sites filled its place providing illicit services. It is clear that the agency can’t get them all, so maybe it is more important to impress upon such websites the ethics of what they are doing, or allowing to be sold.

Fentanyl On The Dark Web

In the U.S., we have seen a dramatic uptick in opioid overdose deaths linked to the powerful synthetic opioid fentanyl. A drug that is extremely deadly, being 100 times stronger than morphine. If you have been following the news, or our blog, then you know it's quite common for fentanyl to mixed with heroin to increase potency. Users are usually unaware, so they do not adjust their dosage. Overdose, and death often come next.

As you can imagine, fentanyl or drugs laced with it have surfaced on the dark web. And even though illegal marketplace operators have seemingly never presented themselves having and ethical code, fentanyl may be where they draw the line. Hansa Market, one of the largest Dark Web marketplaces, banned the sale of the synthetic opioid, The New York Times reports. However, the move may have less to do with ethics, and more to do with preservation.

The largest dark web marketplace, AlphaBay, was shuttered recently in the wake of a coordinated law enforcement action, according to the article. Potentially, due to the large number of AlphaBay retailers selling fentanyl and similar analogs. Whatever, the reasons are not as important as saving lives, which banning fentanyl sales will likely do.

Opioid Use Disorder Treatment

Opioid addiction is a serious problem in the United States, to be sure. Which is why it is so vital that people with an opioid use disorder be encouraged to seek treatment before they encounter drugs like fentanyl. The potential for overdose death is so high. Addiction treatment is one of the best weapons in fighting this epidemic. Recovery is possible. If you are struggling with opioids, please contact Whiteside Manor. We can help.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Methamphetamine Back With A Vengeance

Remember methamphetamine? For those of you actively abusing drugs, or in recovery from narcotics addiction—the answer is probably yes. Much of the general public, however, associates meth with the award winning television show Breaking Bad. Short of that, the drug is probably as unnoticed as it is deadly, today. But before the country realized that it was already in the beginning stages of a full blown opioid crisis in America, talk of drug epidemics was tied to methamphetamine.

In the late 1990’s into the early 2000’s, meth devastated individuals and families across the country. During that time the drug was easily manufactured with over the counter cold medicine and crude chemicals in clandestine laboratories. A cheaper, stronger alternative to cocaine. In a number of communities meth use was at epidemic proportions. In response, the government passed the Combat Methamphetamine Epidemic Act of 2006, which made it far more difficult to acquire the necessary ingredients to produce the drug easily in America.

The result was promising, federal data indicated a significant drop in meth production, use, hospitalization, arrests and prosecutions. Seeing an opportunity, Mexican drug cartels managed to fill in the void, and then some. Creating massive super labs to create far more pure batches of the drug, which could be sold for cheaper than ever in the United States, NBC News reports. In the shadow of the American opioid addiction epidemic, over the last decade the price of meth continued to drop while the purity got better.

A New Meth Epidemic

While meth addiction is not getting anywhere near the amount of attention that opioid use disorder receives, meth use in Wisconsin has increased an estimated 250 percent since 2011, according to the article. Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel commissioned a study which determined those shocking numbers, and he believes that meth use could overtake heroin at this rate.

"All of a sudden, it's everywhere again," said Schimel. "We are entering another full-blown epidemic with meth.”

The problem is not isolated to Wisconsin. Meth use is on the rise in rural areas of states across the country, including:
  • Iowa
  • Minnesota
  • Montana
  • Ohio
  • Oklahoma
  • South Dakota
  • Texas
Meth seizures at the border in San Diego County jumped from 3,585 kilograms in 2012 to 8,706 kilograms in 2016, according to the deputy U.S. Attorney in Southern California—Mark Conover. He says: "We're seeing it pour across the border in bigger quantities. It used to be that loads of 20, 30, 40 pounds were big for us. Now we have 200-pound loads."


Methamphetamine Addiction Treatment

The tackling of the first meth scourge in America, followed by efforts to address the opioid epidemic, underscores the unintended consequences of making something harder to get versus focusing on treating addiction, instead. Making it harder to manufacture meth in America led to the rise of Mexican super labs and increased use. Efforts to curb prescription opioid addiction by making it harder to acquire drugs like OxyContin resulted in a boom of heroin use. Once again, Mexico cartels step in to sate American demand. Rather than expanding access to addiction treatment, the government focused on cutting the supply. Essentially doing the cartels a great service.

In reality, the best way to curb demand, thus removing the need, for supply is to treat addiction. If you, or a loved one is battling meth and/or opioid addiction, please contact Whiteside Manor. We can help.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Overdose Affecting Young Native Americans

It is sad fact that young people are dying in America at unprecedented rates. The reasons are varied; however, when looking at the data, overdose and alcohol are often involved. There is nary a soul in our country that is not aware that Americans have long been in the grips of an opioid addiction epidemic. Every day, some 100 people in this country pass away from an opioid overdose death. Millions more are caught in the insidious cycle of opioid use disorder, a deadly form of addiction that to break free from almost always requires treatment.

Efforts have been made to address rampant over-prescribing and provide access to naloxone to reverse an overdose, but the death toll continues to rise. Especially among young people in America. A demographic that should be at peak physical fitness, not held back by health problems. While practically every subset of young people has been touched by the opioid addiction epidemic, two groups have had the highest increase in morbidity: whites and Native Americans.


Overdose and Alcohol Killing Young Americans

The Washington Post recently conducted an analysis of mortality data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The print news organization found that the death rate has increased among people between 25 and 44. Nearly every race and ethnic group has seen a rise in morbidity. While the data is concerning to say the least, the highest increases were observed among whites (12 percent) and Native Americans (18 percent) between 2010 and 2015.

Please take a moment to watch a short video:

If you are having trouble viewing the video, you can see it here.

It is worth noting that opioids were not the only culprit; alcohol and suicide played a significant role in the increase, according to the report. Experts speculate that rise may be related to huge numbers of people finding themselves unable to get ahead after the economic recession that began a decade ago. What more, it is still difficult to access addiction treatment in many parts of the country.

“People with four-year degrees overall are doing fine in this economy, and everybody else overall is doing pretty poorly,” said Joan C. Williams, a University of California law professor, author and scholar on work and class. “This whole large segment of society is seeing their grip on the American Dream slipping away.”


Seeking Help

If you are Native American in the grips of opioid or alcohol use disorder, please contact Whiteside Manor. Our professional staff has undergone training for Native American philosophies, and cultural diversity training from the local Native American Recovery Community. We have helped many Native Americans break the cycle of addiction and begin the journey of recovery, with successful outcomes.

Friday, June 9, 2017

FDA Calls for Taking Opana Off the Market

In 2012, we wrote about a drug that had taken the place of OxyContin as the favorite among prescription opioid abusers. For the simple reasons that it was easier to crush up to be either snorted or injected, and roughly twice as potent as its oxycodone cousin. The drug we are referring to is Opana, made by Endo Pharmaceuticals. Even five years ago the drug had already found its way to the rural pockets of America, regions where overprescribing is rampant and access to addiction treatment is minimal—such as Scott County, Indiana.

While Endo would go on to reformulate the Opana to make it harder to abuse at the behest of agencies like the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), people living with opioid use disorders found ways to circumvent the tamper resistant features. When OxyContin was reformulated, it did not take long for addicts to “hack” their way through the safeguards built into the pills. The reformulated Opana made it more difficult to snort, so addicts turned to the needle. With a little bit of effort and some ingenuity, users started injecting these powerful prescription opioids.


Risk of Infection

Back in 2012, our fears were directed towards the risk of overdose, as a significant number of people were succumbing to Opana abuse. Granted, such concerns were certainly warranted; however, there were things other than overdose to be worried about. You see, in places like rural Indiana and the ilk, accessing clean hypodermic syringes hasn’t been an easy task, historically. Both citizens and lawmakers have long held to an idea that providing sterile needles to IV drug users promotes continued use. When reality is something quite different.

Needle exchanges not only reduce people’s risk of contracting HIV and hepatitis C, they also provide substance abuse counselors an opportunity to discuss addiction recovery options with the subset at greatest risk of a fatal overdose. People in the grips of active addiction are rarely in a setting that they will be in contact with addiction counselors.

As a result of not providing resources for IV users to obtain new syringes, sharing was a regular occurrence. And in rural Indiana, sharing needles resulted in about 150 new cases of HIV, CNN reported in 2015. People's lives changed forever because of erroneous ideas about needle exchanges.


Taking Opana Off The Market

Opana was approved by the FDA in 2006, shortly after the trend of OxyContin abuse was picking up steam. There was significant backlash regarding the approval by health experts and addiction professionals, but the drug went to market anyway. Now, just over ten years later, the FDA is rethinking the benefits of a drug like Opana. The agency has requested that Endo Pharmaceuticals remove its reformulated Opana ER (oxymorphone hydrochloride), from the market, according to an agency press release. FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, M.D said:

“We are facing an opioid epidemic – a public health crisis, and we must take all necessary steps to reduce the scope of opioid misuse and abuse. We will continue to take regulatory steps when we see situations where an opioid product’s risks outweigh its benefits, not only for its intended patient population but also in regard to its potential for misuse and abuse.”


Addiction Treatment

Are you or a loved one addicted to prescription opioids or heroin? If so, please contact Whiteside Manor as soon as possible. The landscape of opioid use and abuse is constantly changing for the worse, fentanyl is being mixed into heroin or disguised as OxyContin. The risk of overdose death is greater than it’s ever been.

We can help you or your loved one break the cycle of addiction and learn how to live a fulfilling life in recovery.