Friday, November 18, 2016

Facing Addiction in America

Addiction is a clinically accepted form of mental illness, a debilitating disease of the brain that can steal everything good from you—even your life. Certainly, people have been dying from alcohol and tobacco related complications for millennia, even though those substances are typically legal for adult consumption in today’s world. When that occurs, it is not uncommon for members of the general public to think that they died from a character flaw that they were unable to change. It is a line of thinking that could not be further from the truth, a veritably “flawed” line of reasoning, to be sure.

For nearly twenty years, Americans have been battling with opioid addiction. Rampant over-prescribing of opioid painkillers resulted in over two million people developing an opioid use disorder. Efforts to alter prescribing practices in America, via putting ceilings on the number of pills that can be prescribed and the duration of a prescription, did manage to reduce prescription opioid abuse in the United States. However, making it more difficult for Americans to acquire opioid painkillers, resulted in the creation of a vacuum, which in turn led to a scourge of heroin abuse and the importation of even more deadly opioids.

The Great Lengths of Addiction


Attempts at curbing the American opioid epidemic, in some ways, is analogous to playing a game of Whack-o-Mole—only with a darker outcome. Making it harder to get prescription opioids, only served to create a larger demand for heroin, fentanyl and other synthetic opioids. In many cases people with an opioid use disorder traded deadly drugs for even more deadly narcotics. Fentanyl is 100 times more potent than morphine and 80 times stronger than medical grade heroin. Law enforcement officials and medical professionals have seen a surge in fentanyl abuse and subsequent overdose deaths.

If fentanyl weren’t scary enough, it turns out that there are even more deadly opioid narcotics that can be acquired with ease and in some cases, legally over the Internet. The drug we are referring to is carfentanil, which is 10,000 times more potent than morphine and should only be used for sedating large animals, such as elephants. Yet, Americans are ordering the fentanyl-analog online to be used by humans.

The behaviors being exhibited is nothing short of mind-boggling. Just a pinhead sized amount of carfentanil touching the skin can be lethal, nevertheless people are still taking the risk. It just goes to show that you make it next to impossible for an addict to get their hands on a particular mind altering substance, and they will find a way to maintain their addiction. Risk of life is seemingly of little consequence. With such great stakes at risk, it is hard to view addiction as being a mere character flaw, rather than a mental illness or disease of the mind. People will go to extraordinary lengths to avoid opioid withdrawal symptoms. Which is why we need to put more emphasis on treating addiction, rather than making it harder to get drugs or punishing those who are afflicted by the disease.

Viewing Addiction Differently


Addiction is a disability that affects millions of Americans each year, thousands of which will not live to see the end of the year. Instead of looking at or talking about addiction as being a moral failing or a character flaw, we need to look at addiction the same way we would any potentially fatal disease. Just like a diabetic requires insulin maintenance to live, an addict requires treatment, followed by a lifelong course of spiritual maintenance.

The U.S. Surgeon General, Dr. Vivek Murthy, released a report on addiction: A call to action that demands we look at addiction as what it really is—a mental illness. In "Facing Addiction in America: The Surgeon General’s Report on Alcohol, Drugs and Health," Murthy points out that for every dollar spent on addiction treatment services, saves $4 in health care costs and $7 in criminal justice costs every year, according to USA Today. The Surgeon General's report calls for a paradigm shift regarding how society looks at addiction. Murthy would like to see the end of stigma and discrimination—seeing fewer prisoners and more patients.

“We have to recognize (addiction) isn't evidence of a character flaw or a moral failing,” Murthy said. “It’s a chronic disease of the brain that deserves the same compassion that any other chronic illness does, like diabetes or heart disease.” 

Please take a few minutes to watch the video below:

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At Hemet Valley Recovery Center & Sage Retreat, we offer a full continuum of care including: Acute Medical Detoxification, Rehabilitation, Residential, Partial Hospitalization and Recovery Residences.

Please contact Hemet Valley Recovery Center & Sage Retreat 866.273.0868 to begin the journey of recovery.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Children Dying of Opioid Overdoses

Parents who use drugs and/or alcohol in unhealthy ways are at risk of seriously impacting their children. Setting aside the fact that addiction often runs in the family (that is, there is a heredity factor to consider), exposure to unhealthy behaviors can lead children to adopting such behaviors themselves. Young people are extremely impressionable; if they see something, then they are more likely to want to try it, too. It is a tendency that can be extremely dangerous and even fatal.

There are some other issues to keep in mind when active addiction occurs in the household. People who are under the influence of mind altering substances are not always fully aware of what is happening around them, i.e. what their kids are getting into. Teenagers who sneak a drink of alcohol, here or there, may not be cause for concern; but, when it comes to drugs like prescription opioids, the stakes are exponentially higher.

The American opioid epidemic has been deadly to say the least. And, while the death toll associated with opioid use is usually referenced with regard to adult overdose deaths, it is important to point out that the adolescent death toll in recent years has sharply increased. Children across the country have been dying from accidental poisonings, overdoses and overdose suicides. What’s more, they are getting their hands on prescription opioids primarily at home.

Opioids In The House

A new study, conducted by researchers from the Yale School of Medicine, showed that the number of children who received emergency care for a drug overdose more than doubled between 1997 and 2012, NBC News reports. The research team found that the incidence of hospitalizations every year for opioid poisonings per 100,000 children aged 1 to 19 years, increased from 1.40 to 3.71 (165 percent). The findings were published in the Journal of the American Medical Association's JAMA Pediatrics.

The study found that older adolescents were hospitalized the most, but the largest increase in opioid hospitalization rates were among toddlers and preschoolers, according to the article. The researchers write:

“During the course of 16 years, hospitalizations attributed to opioid poisonings rose nearly 2-fold in the pediatric population. Hospitalizations increased across all age groups, yet young children and older adolescents were most vulnerable to the risks of opioid exposure. Mitigating these risks will require comprehensive strategies that target opioid storage, packaging, and misuse.” 

Protecting Children

Whether you are taking prescription opioids for pain, as prescribed, or are abusing them, it is vital that your prescription narcotics can’t be accessed by your children—regardless of age. As is evident by the death rates, opioids can easily lead to an overdose. If you have an opioid use disorder, recovery may not only save your life, but the life of a child as well. Together we can, and do recover from the disease of addiction.

At Hemet Valley Recovery Center & Sage Retreat, we offer a full continuum of care including: Acute Medical Detoxification, Rehabilitation, Residential, Partial Hospitalization, a Family Program and Recovery Residences.

Please contact Hemet Valley Recovery Center & Sage Retreat 866.273.0868 to begin the journey of recovery.