This Groups Is The Most Likely To Become Addicted To Opioids

People who are in the ER or recovering from surgery are the most likely to be prescribed opioids.

Opioids like oxycodone are highly addictive
Opioids like Oxycodone are over prescribed at an alarming rate which leads to unintentional drug addiction

This is where someone is the most likely to be prescribed pain killers, which are all too often highly addictive opioids. This means they will likely be coming back for more pain killers and a cycle and addiction is born.

The face of an opioid addict is not what you probably think

When most people think of a drug addict, someone who has become addicted to prescription drugs, they typically think about some sketchy guy buying drugs in an alley or from street drug dealers.  When in fact the most likely group of people to become addicted to prescription drugs are middle aged women.  According to a recent study sponsored by Pacira Pharaceuticals Inc.

Women ages 40-59 are prescribed more opioids than any other age group and receive twice as many opioid prescriptions as their male counterparts. This population is also particularly vulnerable when prescribed opioids after surgery, with about 13% of middle age women becoming newly persistent opioid users who continue to use opioids three to six months after surgery, which puts them at high risk for dependence and addiction. Among women, this age group has been shown to have the highest death rates from opioids.

This is a disturbing statistic.  The report also indicates that nearly 3 million patients undergoing surgeries in 2016 became persistent
opioid users. They showed that the most common surgeries that resulted in persistent opioid use were colectomies and knee replacement.  They estimate 16-17% of those undergoing these surgeries use prescription drug abusers.

There is a reason women are more likely to be prescribed opioids and may become addicted to them

Women are prescribed painkillers after surgery were 40 percent more likely than men to become persistent opioid users.  There is some science behind this.  Men and women experience pain differently.  Women are more sensitive to pain because they have more nerve receptors, which means their body registers more sensations.  This doesn’t justify the over prescribing of opioids, or the poor medical supervision, but it explains why women may become more easily addicted to them.

The solution is better medical treatment, monitoring and an informed consumer

No one wants to be in pain, regardless of their sex.  It’s all too easy for a doctor to simply write a prescription and feel done with it.  However, someone who is going into surgery or otherwise being treated for something that will result in some sort of pain management afterwards would be wise to talk at length with their doctor about anything they are being prescribed.  Learn what the signs of addiction are, the cycle, the symptoms.

You cannot ask your doctor too many questions about prescribed pain medications.  Be a wise consumer of medical care and do what you can to avoid any kind of drug abuse or dependency or addiction.  Remember, the most common drug addiction is not the person seeking to get high, its the person who is prescribed highly addictive medication.

Want to learn more?  Read our special report: Addiction Hotline Facts About Opioids and Opiates

Fentanyl and Synthetic Opioid Overdose Deaths Doubled In 2016

fentanyl and heroin vials
Lethal dose of heroin compared to a lethal dose of fentanyl

Death by Fentanyl Overdose is on the Rise

Fentanyl, a synthetic opioid used for pain management, has surpassed heroin as a leading cause of drug overdose deaths.  According to a CDC Report, the number of drug overdose deaths in the US increased by 21% last year.  Synthetic-opioid fatalities more than doubled during this period.

The National Center for Health Statistics, a division of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, (CDC) estimates that 64,070 people in the US  died of drug overdose last year.  An increase of 21% over the 52,898 drug overdose deaths recorded in 2015.  This is double the rate of death for firearm and motor vehicle related deaths.  In the US Fentanyl caused 20,100 deaths in 2016, a rise of 540% over the past 3 years.   The drug gained national notoriety when medical examiners concluded that musician Prince died from an accidental fentanyl overdose.

The researchers for the CDC wrote “The first wave of deaths began in 1999 and included deaths involving prescription opioids. It was followed by a second wave, beginning in 2010, and characterized by deaths involving heroin. A third wave started in 2013, with deaths involving synthetic opioids, particularly illicitly manufactured fentanyl (IMF). IMF is now being used in combination with heroin, counterfeit pills, and cocaine.” 

What is Fentanyl?

Fentanyl is a potent synthetic opioid analgesic that is similar to morphine but is 50 to 100 times more potent.  It’s typically prescribed to treat patients with severe pain or to manage pain after surgery.  In its prescription form, its known by such names as Actiq, Duragesic, and Sublimaze.

How is Fentanyl Used?

When prescribed by a doctor, fentanyl is often administered via injection, a patch, or in lozenge form. However, much of the  fentanyl that’s being associated with illicit use and overdose deaths is being produced in clandestine laboratories. This illegal, non-pharmaceutical drug is being found as a powder,  spiked on blotter paper; mixed with or substituted for heroin; or as tablets that look like other, less potent opioids. Most often the drug is snorted, swallowed or injected.

How Does Fentanyl Affect The Brain?

Fentanyl acts much like heroin or morphine by binding to the body’s opioid receptors, which are found in areas of the brain that control pain and emotions.  When opioid drugs bind to these receptors, they can drive up dopamine levels in the brain’s reward areas, producing a state of euphoria and relaxation.  The drug’s effects resemble those of heroin and include euphoria, drowsiness, nausea, confusion, constipation, sedation, tolerance, addiction, respiratory depression and arrest, unconsciousness, coma, and death.

What Makes Fentanyl So Dangerous?

Opioid receptors are also found in the areas of the brain that control breathing.  Significant doses of opioids, especially potent opioids such as fentanyl, can cause breathing to stop completely.  Because the drug is so powerful and in street form the dose is often unknown, or the user thinks they are using a lower potency drug they are at a great risk of overdose or death.  Fentanyl sold on the street can be mixed with heroin or cocaine, which markedly amplifies its potency and potential dangers.

The medication naloxone is an opioid receptor antagonist that reverses opioid overdose and restores normal respiration.  Overdoses of fentanyl should be treated immediately with naloxone.

Treatment for Fentanyl Addiction

Treatment for and recovery from Fentanyl is similar to treating a heroin or other opioid or opiate addition.   The best course is to see a medical professional who specializes in addiction.  A medical detox is a possibility as well as in-patient treatment.  At the very least the treatment and recovery should be monitored and supervised by a medical specialist.  It should be noted that coming off of an opioid addiction poses serious health risks, going “cold turkey” like in the movies can be dangerous.

Formal treatment with support group participation is the ideal plan of action.  There are numerous free and confidential support groups such as Narcotics Anonymous, Heroin Anonymous, and Opiates Anonymous to name a few.

If you are struggling with an opioid addiction reach out to a treatment center in your community.  Get help today.  And our National Addiction Hotline is here 24/7 to provide guidance and treatment options.  1-888-352-6072

Learn The Facts About Opioids and Opiates

and better understand opioid and opiate addicts in our “Heroin And Opioid Addiction In Their Own Words“.

Teen Drug Use Is Down But Opioid Overdoses Are Up

While Teen Drug Use is Down Deadly Opioid Overdoses Are On The Rise

teen drug use
Teen drug use is down, but overdose deaths are up

According to a new report put out by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), drug overdose deaths among older American teenagers increased in 2015.  This was after a steady decline and in spite of the fact that overall drug use among this group has declined.  The research showed that between 1999 and 2015, drug overdose death rates for 15- to 19-year-olds more than doubled.  In total, there were 772 drug overdose deaths among older teens in 2015, with two-thirds more deaths among males than females. Between 2014 and 2015, the overdose death rate for males in this age group rose 15 percent. For women the rate increased 35 percent between 2013 and 2015.

Noteworthy is that over 80 percent of overdose deaths were unintentional, the rest were due to suicides or homicides involving drug overdose.

Opioids Are The Leading Cause of Teen Overdose

A 2015 study in the journal Pediatrics also found that teens who are prescribed opioids in high school are 33 percent more likely to abuse any opioid or opiate between ages 19 and 23.  Such prescriptions are often the result of a sports injury.

Heroin Use Among Teenagers Is Also More Prevalent

Opioids and prescription pain killers appear to be gateway drugs for heroin.  Heroin is typically less expensive and widely available.  Several states have passed laws limiting how many opioid pills doctors can prescribe at a time.  While many teens begin with prescription opioids, others reach heroin after years of experimenting with other drugs.

Helping Teenagers

There are some bright spots in this reports.  According to this survey in 2016 drug use, other than marijuana, among teens is at its lowest point in decades.   Over the last five years abuse of prescription opioids among 12th graders. Heroin use among 10th- and 12th-grade students remains very low.

For teenagers who develop drub abuse problems and drug addiction, some sort of intervention is critical.  Whether an out patient counseling program, or in patient treatment center, it’s important to help a teenager end their drug use and get their life pointed back in a positive direction.  These are there formative years and some bad habits can be lethal.
If you or your teenagers is struggling with drug abuse, call a professional in your community and get answers and guidance.  And our National Addiction Hotline is here for you 24/7. 1-888-352-6072

Learn the Facts About Opioids and Opiates and read Heroin and Opioid Addiction: In Their Own Words

Alcoholism On The Rise According to JAMA

Alcoholism Statistics
Alcoholism Statistics

Research on Alcoholism Shows an Alarming Trend

Alcoholism, also called alcohol use disorder, has been on the rise in adults in the USA.  A recent study published in the JAMA Psychiatry indicates that the rate of alcohol use disorder rose by 49 percent in the first decade of the 2000s. To put this in perspective one in eight American adults, or 12.7 percent of the U.S. population, now meets diagnostic criteria for alcohol use disorder, according to their findings.  These are staggering statistics.

People often associate alcoholism as something that can wreck a person’s life by causing work issues, family issues, and social problems but there is an array of health problems associated with alcoholic drinking such as “fetal alcohol spectrum disorders, hypertension, cardiovascular diseases, stroke, liver cirrhosis, several types of cancer and infections, pancreatitis, type 2 diabetes, and various injuries.”  And while opioid and opiate overdose and deaths dominate the headlines these days,  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 88,000 people a year die of alcohol-related causes, more than twice the annual death toll of opiate overdose.

Who Is Considered An Alcoholic?

The study’s data comes from the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions (NESARC), a nationally representative survey administered by the National Institutes of Health. Survey respondents were considered to have alcohol use disorder if they met widely used diagnostic criteria for either alcohol abuse or alcohol dependence.

Alcohol Abuse

For a diagnosis of alcohol abuse, an individual must have exhibited at least one of the following characteristics in the past year:

  • Recurrent use of alcohol resulting in a failure to fulfill major role obligations at work, school, or home (e.g., repeated absences or poor work performance related to alcohol use; alcohol-related absences, suspensions, or expulsions from school; neglect of children or household).
  • Recurrent alcohol use in situations in which it is physically hazardous (e.g., driving an automobile or operating a machine when impaired by alcohol use).
  • Recurrent alcohol-related legal problems (e.g., arrests for alcohol-related disorderly conduct).
  • Continued alcohol use despite having persistent or recurrent social or interpersonal problems. 

Alcohol Dependence

For a diagnosis of alcohol dependence, an individual must experience at least three of the following seven symptoms:

  • Need for markedly increased amounts of alcohol to achieve intoxication or desired effect; or markedly diminished effect with continued use of the same amount of alcohol.
  • The characteristic withdrawal syndrome for alcohol; or drinking (or using a closely related substance) to relieve or avoid withdrawal symptoms.
  • Drinking in larger amounts or over a longer period than intended.
  • Persistent desire or one or more unsuccessful efforts to cut down or control drinking.
  • Important social, occupational, or recreational activities given up or reduced because of drinking.
  • A great deal of time spent in activities necessary to obtain, to use, or to recover from the effects

Theories About The Rising Numbers And Treatment For Alcoholism

“I think the increases are due to stress and despair and the use of alcohol as a coping mechanism,” said the study’s lead author, Bridget Grant, a researcher at the National Institutes of Health. The study notes that the increases in alcohol use disorder were “much greater among minorities than among white individuals,” likely reflecting widening social inequalities after the 2008 recession.

“If we ignore these problems, they will come back to us at much higher costs through emergency department visits, impaired children who are likely to need care for many years for preventable problems, and higher costs for jails and prisons that are the last resort for help for many,” University of California at San Diego psychiatrist Marc Schuckit said.

Man with alcoholism
Alcoholism and related issues are a leading cause in deaths

While the rise in alcoholism is alarming the solution is always the same.  We need better education to avoid it, to recognize the signs and symptoms and also viable treatment.  Sometimes participation in free, confidential support groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous is enough to help someone stop drinking and turn their life around.  Others respond well to one on one or group counseling and still others may be in need of detox and in-patient treatment.  The first step, of course, is admitting a problem exists and reaching out for guidance.

If you or a loved one is dealing with a drinking problem  reach out to an organization in your community that specializes in help for alcoholics and addiction, or call your insurance company for a referral.   Our National Addiction Hotline is always here to provide guidance and assistance in determining treatment options as well.

See our report on The Periodic Alcoholic

Heroin And Opioid Addiction In Their Own Words

a mother's overdose fears
a mother’s overdose fears

Opioid Addiction Stories in Their Own Words

The television program, Frontline, has published several documentaries about heroin and opioid addiction.  Recently they asked their audience to open up about their experience with addictions and the responses are powerful.  Some are from addicts themselves, others from a family member or loved one touched by the addiction of someone else.  Each is touching in it’s own way.

Opioid Addiction –  Addicts Tell Their Stories:

 

Someone addicted to opioids

I’m a good person. I’m a contributing member of society. I’m educated. I have a good job, make good money, have wonderful relationships with my loved ones. I’m so completely average. The only thing that sets me apart from that other young business professional that seems to have it all is that I’m addicted to opiates. And the problem is that I tell myself everyday it’s not a problem because I am able to carry my life on in a normal way…I’m not a typical addict. I don’t steal, lie to borrow money, I don’t manipulate people, I don’t engage in promiscuous activity…since it’s not ruining my life in the way of major money, legal, or relationship issues I tell myself that it’s not ruining my life. I’m delusional.

John, from Portland

I have struggled with opioid addiction on and off for 30 years with the most clean time being 7 years consecutive. The thing that I think that people are quickly understanding is that opiate addiction does not discriminate and is not a moral failing. Many of us that have become addicted are intelligent, valuable people who lost control after experimentation, curiosity or having the opiates prescribed. I didn’t ever intend to be a heroin addict; it quickly got out of control and led me to places I never dreamed of.

A former addict from Pittsburgh

You must be vigilant at all times against relapse and you must surround yourself with different places and people. Being in recovery is hard. It’s almost impossible if you stay in your neighborhood and are friends with the same people. You basically have to dump your life and start over.

Craig from Deptford

How it can take over anyone’s life. My childhood was beautiful. My life was beautiful. I was motivated, active, successful, and loved my family. My addiction stole everything from me. Recovery is possible though. In two years clean and sober I have gained so much back.

Sarah who overcame her addiction

That it’s a public/mental health disease, it’s not about being a bad person or morally weak. I also want people to know that with proper long-term treatment it’s possible to recover and live a beautiful life. I feel incredibly fortunate to have my recovery of almost 6 years and to have my life back

addiction stories in their own words
Addiction Stories

People Whose Lives Have Been Affected By Opioid Addiction:

Jenny from Philadelphia

That it is truly a disease that affects so many families. Many times drug abusers have underlying mental health issues. So many people are afraid to talk about it, yet so many are affected by it. The system in place now doesn’t provide the best support for some people who are struggling to stay clean. Loving an addict when they are using is heartbreaking, scary, and frustrating.

Denise from Oklahoma

That it KILLS!! I’ve lost BOTH MY BOYS to heroin overdoses. My 19-year-old Dillan in 2010, and my 28-year-old Matthew just two weeks ago, February 3, 2016!!! THIS KILLS!!!! DEALERS ARE CUTTING DRUGS WITH ALL SORTS OF CHEMICALS…DO NOT USE!!!!

Jennifer from Jacksonville

The chance of dying during relapse after rehabilitation from opioid dependency is the most painful experience your loved ones may have to face. Even in death we love you and wish there was a better outcome. I miss my wife every single day.

Margie who lost her son in 2010, when he was 22

That they never intended for this to happen to them. That they wish they never would have started. They feel pretty bad about themselves already without judgment from everyone else. They were still good, caring people. Addiction just completely overtook them. Their families are devastated. Their siblings and parents left behind are forever affected, forever touched by this disease. This becomes a family disease once it touches even one person in the family. We are not ashamed of them. Through their addiction we continued to love them and forever will.

We are survivors of one the worst wars in America. We cry everyday. We cry for those that will die today, tomorrow, next week, next month and on and on. We cry for their families, and with their families. We are losing beautiful, creative, and loving people, every 19 minutes, and over 120 people a day. It seems like no one cares, that there is no outrage. This is a silent killer, and not enough noise is being made about this modern-day scourge in America.

While I am a mother who lost her son to an opioid overdose, it does not define me, or my family. My son still matters, even though most people cannot bring themselves to even say his name, or recall his memory. I am forever missing my son, Mitchell, and he is my inspiration to wake up and live, every single day

Justine who lost her 16-year-old son to an overdose

That it can take one time; that not everyone gets 10 chances at rehab. That the reckless and glamorous life of your favorite band will not necessarily be your outcome. That you can overdose and die by snorting; needles are not required.

Opioid Addiction Conclusion

These stories are a grim reminder of how getting high for fun so often leads to tragedy.  A life cut off far too soon, a family shattered, a parent loses a child, a young life is taken.  Our hope is out readers will listen and learn and if they are struggling with opioid or opiates they will reach out for help, or that if one who has a family member or loved one is reading they too will reach out for solutions.  Most every community has some sort of social service that can help you find an appropriate level of addiction treatment.  Our National Addiction Hotline is open 24/7 and we are always here to provide guidance and also help you determine treatment options. 1-888-352-6072

To learn more read our special report, Addiction Hotline Facts About Opioids and Opiates

Learn more about Help for Crystal Meth Addicts

Nashville Mayors Son Dies of Apparent Opioid Overdose

Max Barry drug overdose victim
Photo Tennessean

Thousands of people die from opioid overdose each year and now Nashville Mayor, Megan Barry’s son, Max,  has become a yet another tragic statistic, he died from an apparent overdose.

His death occurred in Littleton, Colo., a suburb of Denver, where the 22-year-old Max Barry had recently moved after graduating college.

“Early this morning, we received news that no parents should ever have to hear,” Megan and Bruce Barry said in a statement. “Our son Max suffered from an overdose and passed away. We cannot begin to describe the pain and heartbreak that comes with losing our only child. Our son was a kind soul full of life and love for his family and friends.”

Our hearts and prayers go out to the Barry family.   We’ve witnessed the toll opioid addiction and opioid overdose takes on families each and every day.  We’ve seen the heart ache that parents experience when they lose a child to an overdose.  Usually the overdose death is a simple statistic, an anonymous person who does not make headlines, but the pain the family feels is the same.  A senseless and avoidable loss.

Megan Barry with Max as a young child
Megan and Max as a young child

Often times an opioid, or opiate addict knows they need help but doesn’t know how to get it.  In-patient treatment or otherwise medical treatment and detox is often times expensive and determining insurance coverage for treatment can be complicated to the addict and their family.

If you or a loved one is struggling with opioid, opiate, heroin or prescription drug abuse and addiction call our helpline now.  Our phones are manned by trained specialists who can help you make sense of your insurance coverage and provide you with guidance.  Call now, don’t risk being another statistic. 1-888-352-6072

  • Messages of condolence to be sent to megan.barry@nashville.gov or Office of Mayor Megan Barry, 1 Public Sq, Nashville, TN 37201.