Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Opioid Addiction: A Long History

addiction
As the American addiction epidemic rages on, the catalyst of which is believed to be opioids, it's easy to forget the age-old history of pain-killing narcotics. Not that the origins of opium-based drugs have any bearing on the lives of addicts, but acknowledging previous attempts to rein in addiction can be informative.

Most Americans are acutely familiar with the impact of opioids on society. Drugs in the opiate family have long been used in medicine and for pleasure. However, we've seen an unprecedented surge in use and abuse over the last two decades.

Rampant overprescribing of drugs like OxyContin (oxycodone) – beginning in the late 1990s – resulted in millions becoming dependent and addicted. A reckless disregard among pharmaceutical companies and doctors for acknowledging the dangers of prescription opioids created today's public health crisis. Once the faucet was turned on, it soon became apparent that turning it off was a near-impossible task.

Curbing widespread opioid use isn't as simple as altering prescribing practices. It helps but does little to address the underlying addiction. Physical dependence to opioids is more powerful than the majority of other mind-altering substances carrying the potential for abuse. Those caught in the grips of an opioid use disorder will seek out new access points to sate their cravings.

The rise in heroin use in recent years is the direct result of not attending to the use disorders brought on by prescription opioids. Studies show that the majority of heroin users alive today first used a narcotic painkiller. Staggering heroin use rates seen today are a byproduct of rampant overprescribing followed by implementing more stringent prescribing restrictions.

Ending the Epidemic Through Recovery


The truth is that our government may not be able to effectively combat the flow of heroin and synthetic opioids like fentanyl into this country. However, they can give federal, state, and local public health agencies the resources to increase access to evidence-based therapies.

Opium and its derivatives have been disrupting and stealing people's lives for millennia. Governments around the world have made an effort to curb non-medical use of opium and opioids for centuries with very little success. The failure to control opioid use disorders in generations past stemmed partly from the lack of available therapies. It's only in this century that effective treatments proved that addiction recovery was even possible.

PBS Frontline created a timeline that shows opium throughout history that is both fascinating and informative. We strongly recommend taking a look at it in your free time. Notable dates include:
  • c.3400 B.C. — The opium poppy is cultivated in lower Mesopotamia; present-day Iraq, Kuwait, eastern Syria, and Southeastern Turkey.
  • 1799 A.D. — China's emperor, Kia King, bans opium completely, making trade and poppy cultivation illegal.
  • 1803 A.D. — Friedrich Sertuerner of Paderborn, Germany, discovers the active ingredient of opium: Principium somniferum or morphine.
  • 1874 A.D. — English researcher, C.R. Wright first synthesizes heroin, or diacetylmorphine, by boiling morphine over a stove.
  • 1895 A.D. — Bayer begins production of diacetylmorphine and coins the name "heroin."
  • 1996 A.D. — International drug trafficking organizations in China, Nigeria, Colombia, and Mexico are said to be "aggressively marketing heroin in the United States and Europe."
PBS points out that doctors in the first years of the 20th Century recommended using heroin to help morphine addicts discontinue their use. Naturally, heroin addiction in the U.S. rose to alarming rates by 1904. Treating opioid use disorder has come a very long way in the last hundred years.

 

California Opioid Use Disorder Treatment


Please contact Hemet Valley Recovery Center & Sage Retreat if you or a loved one is struggling with an opioid use disorder. Our team relies on evidence-based treatments to help our clients break the cycle of addiction and learn how to prosper in recovery.

Friday, August 9, 2019

Couple's Recovery Inspires Others

recovery
Recent reports indicate that methamphetamine use is surging in California and other areas of the country. The Golden State's proximity to the Mexican border means that a large amount of meth finds its way into the hands of Californians. If you have been reading the news about today's meth, then you know that it is cheaper and more potent than ever before.

Mexican drug cartels saw an opportunity to exploit the U.S. crackdown on homemade methamphetamine. Today, the vast majority of meth or "Ice," as it is sometimes called, is manufactured in large labs south of the border.

While the nation has focused significant resources on curbing the opioid epidemic, meth has flooded American towns and cities, virtually unchecked. Thousands of Americans grapple with meth addiction each year, and many people succumb to the drugs deadly effects.

Fortunately, people can recover from a stimulant use disorder and lead healthy lives. Working a program of recovery is hard work, but the rewards are worth the effort. Unfortunately, people struggling with meth cannot turn to a drug like buprenorphine to aid them in detox. There are not any medications that are used specifically for treating stimulant addiction. Nevertheless, those who are dedicated to changing their lives can accomplish the task provided they have outside assistance.

From time to time, it is helpful to showcase individuals who are working programs of recovery. Such men and women can inspire those who are still in the grips of the disease. Brent Walker of Cleveland, Tennessee, and his wife Ashley are two people who found themselves able to recover from meth addiction.

Life In Recovery


Nearly three years ago, Brent and Ashley Walker were in a bad way; they were both addicted to methamphetamine. On July 26, they posted a before and after photo on Facebook which embodies how life changes when you are in recovery, Knox News reports. Since then, hundreds of thousands of people have reacted or commented on Walker's photo. Attached to the picture, the couple wrote:

"This is my wife and I in active meth addiction the first photo was taken around December 2016 the second one was taken in July of 2019. This December 31st will be 3 years we have been clean and sober and living for God. I hope that my transformation can encourage a [sic] addict somewhere! It is possible to recover!!" 

Clean for more than two and a half years, the two recovering addicts have undergone a complete 180 turn. It is safe to say that the couple barely recognizes the people in the before photo.

Brent was in jail for two years on meth-related charges just before choosing to recover, according to the article. He started using again once he was released but then decided that failing a drug test would mean more jail time. He asked Ashley, his girlfriend at the time, if she would be willing to get clean with him, and she agreed.

Since that time, the two got married, and Brent got his GED. They both hold down full-time employment. Brent says he never thought that he would be sober, nor did he expect their before and after photos to go viral. They are proof that it's possible to turn your life around in recovery. They are glad that their experience is helping others see that there is a different way.

"Don't give up, it gets easier. It's really hard. We had a really hard time, just because we didn't have nobody [sic] to talk to," Walker told Knox News. "But if you don't give up... the grass is greener on the other side. It's been a blessing. It really has."
  

Stimulant Use Disorder Recovery


Please reach out to Hemet Valley Recovery Center & Sage Retreat if you are struggling with amphetamines or methamphetamine. Our highly-trained staff can help you begin a journey of lasting addiction recovery. We offer several different programs that cater to the unique needs of each client. We are confident that you can go on to lead a healthy and productive life in sobriety.

Thursday, August 1, 2019

Binge Drinking Among Older Americans

binge drinking
Our focus in the field of addiction medicine is most often on young people. Stemming the tide of alcohol and substance use disorder is crucial to preventing men and women from having severe health problems later in life. It is vital to encourage individuals to ask for help when a problem develops at a young age.

While the choice to center our attention on younger demographics is not misplaced, we mustn't lose sight of the older Americans who struggle with drugs and alcohol. As people age and reach retirement, they find themselves with far more freedom.

With fewer responsibilities, many men and women will choose to fill their time imbibing. Some will even engage in unhealthy drinking practices that are most closely associated with young Americans. Older folk who have a hazardous relationship with alcohol are at significant risk of injury and other health problems.

Besides having a plethora of free time, many seniors are contending with difficult emotions. The identity of many men and women is attached to the kind of work they did; without it, some people feel an overwhelming loss of purpose. Moreover, baby boomers in retirement are also dealing with the loss of spouses and other loved ones; some will look to the bottle for comfort and solace.

In recent years, a fair amount of research has been conducted on alcohol and substance use among aging Americans. Prescription drug and alcohol misuse are proving to be more common than previously thought among older people. A new study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society shows that about 1 in 10 older adults binge drinks.

Older Americans Binge Drinking


The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) defines binge drinking as a pattern of consuming four alcoholic beverages for women and five drinks for men—in about 2 hours. It's a dangerous practice that brings people to a level of intoxication in a short period.

Study senior author, Joseph Palamar – an associate professor in the department of population health at NYU Langone Health – analyzed data on 10,927 people over age 65, NBC News reports. The data comes from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health between 2015 and 2017.

Some 80 percent of older people are living with at least one chronic condition (e.g., heart disease, cancer, or diabetes), according to the National Council on Aging (NCOA). Naturally, binge drinking can cause health complications for those with serious health problems.

"We focus so much on young people and their risky drinking," said senior author Joseph Palamar. "But this research reminds us that we also have to keep an eye on the older population." 

Moreover, it is not uncommon for an older person to develop an alcohol use disorder stemming from repeated, daily bouts of intoxication. This research should prompt primary care physicians to keep a watchful eye for patients who exhibit signs of alcohol or drug misuse.

It's also worth mentioning that the researchers found elevated rates of cannabis use among people over 65. Palamar rightly points out that polysubstance use can lead to complications. Heavy alcohol use increases one's risk of injury, and admixing pot into the situation heightens the chance of falling down.

Older Adult Addiction Treatment Program


At Hemet Valley Recovery Center & Sage Retreat, we understand that seniors are going through significant life changes. Our team of addiction professionals understands that alcohol or other drug use can worsen pre-existing conditions that are common among older adults. If addiction develops, such people must seek help from a center that caters to their unique needs.

With that in mind, we have designed an Older Adult Addiction Treatment Program that is conducive to the needs and abilities of this age group. Please contact us today to learn more.