Friday, February 14, 2020

Naloxone Saves Lives and Helps People with Opioid Use Disorders

opioid use disorder
It's hard to imagine how much deadlier the American opioid addiction epidemic would be if it were not for naloxone. Often sold under the brand name Narcan, naloxone is a drug that can reverse the potentially fatal effects of an opioid overdose.

If the naloxone is administered in a timely fashion, lives are saved. Since the late 1990s, naloxone has saved thousands and thousands of lives, both young and old Americans alike. The life-saving drug is a miracle worker by any standard, which is why every first responder in the country has a naloxone kit on hand at all times.

We must also note that addicts and their friends and families keep naloxone close by in case of an emergency. What's more, many people living with an opioid use disorder owe a debt of gratitude to naloxone for allowing them to find recovery. Naloxone gives people a second chance they wouldn't have had otherwise.

In recent years, federal and state legislation has made it easier for citizens to acquire the overdose antidote. Sadly, there was a time not long ago when a prescription was required to acquire a dose of naloxone. Previously, if someone lacked a prescription, then they were at the mercy of a fast response from paramedics, and that's assuming someone else was present to call 911.

Even still, seeking recovery is the only sure way to protect against a fatal overdose. Naloxone is not always effective when powerful synthetic opioids like fentanyl or carfentanil are involved. Moreover, if an overdose involves other central nervous system depressants such as benzodiazepines, a dose of Narcan may not produce the desired outcome.

Reducing Opioid Overdose Deaths in America

While reports indicate that overdose deaths were down in 2018 from the previous year, the daily death toll is still unacceptable. More than 100 Americans succumb to an overdose every day; that number would be much higher if not for naloxone, without question. Still, some states are reticent to pass legislation that would allow for the sale of naloxone over the counter (OTC).

If the drug is made more available, it saves lives and opens the door for someone to seek treatment. An overdose is a traumatic event that could be likened to hitting bottom. Some individuals are more receptive to the idea of treatment in the hours following an overdose.

Research shows that doing away with prescription requirements is a priority. When legislation is passed to that end, addicts and their loved ones will utilize the freedom to purchase the life-saving drug.

A team of researchers at the University of Cincinnati report in JAMA Network Open that naloxone dispensing in Ohio increased dramatically since 2015, according to HealthDay. After Ohio lawmakers passed legislation allowing pharmacists to sell naloxone OTC, there has been a 2,328% increase in naloxone dispensing across the state.

"Overdoses are not a planned event so during an emergency is not the time to try and access naloxone," said lead researcher Pam Heaton. "The intent is for any adult to be able to go to a pharmacy and purchase naloxone for themselves or for anybody who might need it, so they are adequately prepared to administer a life-saving medication." 

Naloxone Nasal Spray is Easy to Administer

Since the advent of a naloxone nasal spray, even a child can administer the overdose antidote with limited training. William Eggleston, clinical assistant professor at Binghamton University, State University of New York, and colleagues at SUNY Upstate Medical University conducted a study on administering naloxone, HealthDay reports. The professor reported that most participants were able to deliver the drug after watching a short training video.

In a new study, Eggleston sought to determine if he would get the same results if participants had no training at all. He had groups of participants test all three available methods for administering the antidote: nasal spray, intramuscular shot, and a nasal atomizer kit.

Eggleston found that participants were able to administer the nasal spray faster than the other two methods; the median administration time was 16 seconds. The atomizer took the longest because it comes in three pieces that require assembling.

"People may not realize how important it is to provide training on how to administer naloxone," Eggleston said. "But when someone is not breathing, every second counts. If naloxone becomes available over the counter, our study highlights the importance of training resources, like pharmacists, public health campaigns and community resources. It also shows that the nasal spray product is the most intuitive to use and easiest to give quickly."

Opioid Use Disorder Treatment in California

If you or a loved one survived an overdose recently, then today is the ideal opportunity to reach out for professional assistance. Those who survive one overdose are exponentially more likely to experience another, and the outcome could be fatal.

At Hemet Valley Recovery Center & Sage Retreat, we help adult men and women take the first step toward a life in recovery from opioid use disorder. Please contact our admissions team today to learn more about our chemical dependency rehabilitation hospital.

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Early Life Adversity and Opioid Addiction

ELA Opioid Addiction
At Hemet Valley Recovery Center & Sage Retreat, we specialize in the treatment of addiction and trauma. The majority of individuals who meet the criteria for alcohol or substance use disorder experienced at least one traumatic event in their life.

Those who do not have the coping skills to manage adverse experiences often resort to mind-altering substances to ease their minds. For those who are genetically predisposed to addiction, using drugs and alcohol to cope is a sure path to developing an addiction.

In the field of mental health and addiction medicine, the topic of adverse childhood experiences or ACEs is frequently discussed. Sometimes referred to as early life adversity (ELA), ACEs can include being exposed to the following at a young age:
  • Physical Abuse
  • Emotional Abuse
  • Sexual Abuse
  • Physical or Emotional Neglect
  • Household Mental Illness or Substance Use
  • Household Domestic Violence
  • Incarcerated Household
While parental separation or divorce may appear to be less severe than abuse, such events can leave an indelible mark on a young person's psyche. Each child will respond to trauma the best they can, but many children lack the ability to process their feelings, which can impact their life trajectory.

In 2018, a study appearing in JAMA Pediatrics delved into the effects of adverse childhood experiences. The researchers found that as young people with ACEs grow up, they are more likely to turn to drugs and alcohol, such as opioid use and misuse. The report suggests that the trend can affect one generation to the next. The authors write:

"Early life adversity is associated with leading causes of adult morbidity and mortality and effects on life opportunities. These findings highlight the importance of understanding why some individuals are at higher risk of experiencing adverse childhood experiences than others, including how this increased risk may exacerbate health inequities across the lifespan and future generations."

Early Life Adversity and Opioid Addiction

It's been nearly two years since the above research was published. Since that time, more research on the subject of early life adversity and opioid use disorder has been conducted. A team of researchers at the University of California - Irvine (UCI) sought to determine why people with a history of ELA are disproportionately prone to opioid addiction. Their findings appear in the journal Molecular Psychiatry.

The authors of the study titled, "On the early life origins of vulnerability to opioid addiction," examined how ELAs impact brain development and function, thus causing a higher potential for opioid use disorder, according to a UCI news release. The new research could lead to the development of predictive biomarkers and novel prevention strategies for curbing the American opioid abuse epidemic.

"We already know that genetics plays a major role in addiction vulnerability. But, this factor alone cannot account for the recent exponential rise in opioid abuse," said Tallie Z. Baram, MD, Ph.D., the Danette Shepard Chair in Neurological Sciences at the UCI School of Medicine. "Our team was determined to find out if environmental factors, like early life adversity, were contributing." 

There is now a direct causal link between ELA and opioid addiction vulnerability, according to the release. The research was supported by the National Institutes of Health and the Hewitt Foundation for Biomedical Research.

Opioid Use Disorder and Trauma Treatment

At HVRC, we can help you or a loved one address the traumatic events of your past and give you the tools to lead a healthy life in recovery. Please contact us today to learn more about our Chemical Dependency Rehabilitation Hospital (CDRH) and to speak with our admissions team about treatment options. Take the first step toward a life in long-term recovery with HVRC.