Posts Tagged ‘heroin’
Friday, August 17th, 2012
Drug known as plus-naloxone ‘reduces the reward level down to the equivalent of food, sex, and hugs.’ Could be used to treat addicts or patients who need pain relief, but are worried about becoming addicted.
AFP RELAX NEWS
The new drug could be used to treat addicts, or to allow patients who need pain relief to use drugs without fear of addiction.
Heroin and morphine addiction can be blocked, according to research released Wednesday which could prove a major breakthrough in treating addicts and in pain relief treatments.
Researchers at the University of Adelaide in Australia worked with colleagues at the University of Colorado in the United States to pinpoint a key mechanism in the body’s immune system that amplifies addiction to opioid drugs.
“Our studies have shown conclusively that we can block addiction via the immune system of the brain, without targeting the brain’s wiring,” said Mark Hutchinson from Adelaide’s School of Medical Sciences.
“Both the central nervous system and the immune system play important roles in creating addiction, but our studies have shown we only need to block the immune response in the brain to prevent cravings for opioid drugs.”
The results, to be published Thursday in the Journal of Neuroscience, reveal that laboratory studies showed that the drug known as plus-naloxone, which is not yet in clinical use, will selectively block the immune-addiction response.
The researchers said that opioid drugs such as morphine and heroin bind to immune receptors in the brain known as TLR4 which then act as amplifiers for addiction, ramping up the “reward” effect of drugs of abuse to a high degree.
The new drug automatically shuts this effect down, Hutchinson said.
“It really reduces the reward level down to the equivalent of food, sex, and hugs,” he told AFP.
Professor Linda Watkins, from the Center for Neuroscience at the University of Colorado, said the work fundamentally changed understanding about opioids, reward and addiction.
“We’ve suspected for some years that TLR4 may be the key to blocking opioid addiction, but now we have the proof,” she said in a statement.
The researchers believe the discovery could prove useful if plus-naloxone could become a co-formulated drug with morphine, to allow patients who need pain relief to take the drug without fear of addiction.
But it could have a second application.
“It can be used by itself potentially in addicted people to help their addiction,” Hutchinson said.
The research team says clinical trials could be underway within 18 months.
Tuesday, August 14th, 2012
By JIM SALTER
distributed by The Associated Press
Monitoring programs adopted in 49 states are helping to address the problem of prescription drug abuse, White House Office of National Drug Control Policy Director Gil Kerlikowske said in an interview with The Associated Press. The lone holdout is Missouri, where Kerlikowske plans to be Wednesday to push for such a program.
Kerlikowske called prescription drug abuse an “epidemic.” Nearly 21,000 deaths in the U.S. were attributed to prescription drug overdoses in 2009, the most recent year with statistics available.
“The number of deaths as a result of prescription drug use and abuse are greater than heroin and cocaine overdose deaths combined,” Kerlikowske said.
Kerlikowske is scheduled to be in the St. Louis suburb of Fenton on Wednesday. Among those meeting with him will be state Sen. Kevin Engler, a Farmington Republican who has unsuccessfully pushed for a state program.
Engler said he’ll try again in 2013. But the chief opponent, Republican Sen. Rob Schaaf of St. Joseph, said he’s willing to pursue another filibuster like the one that killed Engler’s proposal this year. Schaaf said the databases reveal sensitive information that many people don’t believe the government needs to know.
“All they have to do is punch in your name and address and they can find out every controlled substance you’ve been prescribed,” Schaaf said this week.
The Office of National Drug Control Policy said the number of deaths from prescription drug overdoses has increased fourfold over the past decade. Addictions are up sharply, too. Sometimes people being treated for legitimate pain become addicted, Kerlikowske said, but in many other cases people looking to get high turn to prescription drugs.
Some start by stealing drugs from relatives or friends. “That’s why they’re now producing medicine cabinets with locks,” Kerlikowske said. “Realtors will tell you to clean out your medicine cabinet before an open house.”
Many prescription drug abusers eventually “doctor shop” — that is, search out physicians who will give them prescription drugs to feed a habit. Kerlikowske said that’s where monitoring programs are helpful.
The programs involve electronic databases that can identify when a person is going to multiple medical offices to obtain prescriptions. State licensure boards can also use the databases to identify so-called “pill mills,” or doctor offices that overprescribe medicines.
Florida was once known as the pill mill capital. Just a few years ago, more than 90 of the nation’s top 100 prescription-dispensing physicians were in Florida. That was before the state instituted a tracking program in 2009.
“Now they’re down to 13 of the top 100,” Kerlikowske said. “Many of those (pill mills) have been opening offices in Georgia, Kentucky and Missouri.”
Engler said, “That’s why we’re turning into the pill mill capital of the country.”
But Schaaf, a family physician, said he doesn’t believe the databases are effective, noting the increasing number of overdoses and deaths despite the rising number of statewide monitoring programs.
Kerlikowske and Engler say the problem is too significant to ignore and monitoring is useful.
“The doctors that use them call it a real patient safety tool,” Kerlikowske said.
Monday, June 18th, 2012
Two weeks ago a young man by the name of Elliot Smith from Memphis, Tennessee overdosed on heroin and died.
Elliot had spent the last few years orbiting around a local sober community with various degrees of commitment to his recovery. Recently word was passed around that he wasn’t doing so well, that he had lost his job and that he was using again. The final call to his parents came on a Thursday from his roommate. He had found Elliot dead in their apartment.
After the funeral it came to light that Elliot had recently turned to buying his drugs online and having them shipped to his door. He had been using an online marketplace known as the Silk Road and a peer-to-peer digital currency service called Bitcoin.
The use of the Silk Road originally required a fairly sophisticated understanding of computing, but its growing popularity has made it much more user friendly. The currency used to purchase items on the Silk Road is known as bitcoins due to their resemblance to the bit torrent technology used in most online piracy. A user takes real currency and trades it online for bitcoins and then uses this non-currency to make transactions.
The Silk Road community functions like eBay or Amazon by creating a feedback-based reputation for its sellers and an entire world of shadowy transactions. The ease, anonymity and technically legal nature of the Silk Road allowed Elliot to bypass many of the traditional barriers to purchasing illegal drugs. It also allowed him to hide his use and stay under the radar of concerned friends and family until it was too late.
The designers of Silk Road and many of its users hail it as an international anarchistic blow for commercial freedom, a way to trade and deal independent of the global control of world financial markets. Unfortunately in Elliot’s case it was enough freedom to privately lose his battle with the disease of chemical dependency.
In recent years the World Wide Web has opened up unimaginable vistas of opportunity. Things that were impossible just a short time ago are now possible. These opportunities unfortunately extend to the world of illegal drug dealing and purchasing which has embraced technology to meet the times. It is important to know that less and less these days do people drive to a shady part of town to purchase illegal drugs from tough looking characters on the corner. Less and less do individuals struggling with addiction conform to our old ideas of what a drug addict looks like.
If there is a lesson here for those of us on the front lines of addiction treatment it is this: to stay in the fight we need to be up to speed on the opposition’s newest tricks and tools. We need to understand who is selling drugs to our friends and families, how they are being disguised, and by what circuitous routes these drugs are being delivered. I am not a computer pirate/hacker/expert and this new shady world frightens me – but, forewarned is forearmed.
I may not know how the Silk Road works in detail but I understand in theory that drugs are easier to obtain than ever. I understand that to be relevant as a treatment professional I need to understand the tactics of the opposition.
If we want more than to stay in this fight, if we want to win – one person, one family at a time – then we need to be prepared to change our own tactics.
Stay tuned. More to come.
For confidential reasons, names and locations have been changed.
Below is a link to an article about the Silk Road and bitcoins
Wednesday, November 4th, 2009
A great article in the Washington Post was published yesterday talking about heroin hitting home in Centreville, Virginia. The death of a 19-year-old girl, Alicia Lannes, from a heroin overdose, shone a light on a heroin ring centering around teens and young adults, and many were current or former students of the local high school. Many of the students were high performing- athletes, cheerleaders, and AP students were all a part of the ring. 16 of those young people were convicted on drug charges, from 30 days to 26 years in prison.
This article showed a good perspective from the parents’ point of view, of someone who had lost a loved one to the disease of addiciton. Alicia, the girl whose death is the center of the article, had previous problems with drinking and drugs prior to the overdose. And why did this happen in such a seemingly “ideal” community? Edythe London, a neuroscientist and pharmacologist at UCLA who is at the forefront of addiction study: “Heroin is an equal-opportunity substance.” Patrick McConnell, director of Alcohol and Drug Services in Fairfax County, says many families are reluctant to believe their children have a problem. “These parents, a lot of times, will believe their kid before they believe us,” he says. “We can say whatever we want to say, but if no one’s going to listen, there are some fairly severe consequences that can result from that.”
Our CEO, Andrew Wainwright (who grew up in Washington DC) had this to say: “Sadly, this is the America I know and am all too familiar with. This is the America of the families that call us every day. This is the America of my own drug use. This is also the America of my recovery. I was the kids in that story as an active heroin addict on the streets of Washington DC and Baltimore. Now I am the 13 years sober and the CEO of the nation’s leading crisis addiction company. My only job today at AiR is to make sure that someone is there to answer the phone when the next mother calls ““ just like someone was there to answer it when my mother did.”
This morning, a blog posting in the New York Times touched on the response from a parent. Here’s a quote from Lisa Belkin, the article’s author: “As a parent of two teen sons, I am haunted by tales like these; I look at the photos of grieving parents and wonder what flimsy lines separate me from them. When I first had children I was sometimes overwhelmed by everything there was to do. As they get older I am ever more aware of what I can’t do “” the stark fact that, however much we love, and teach and stay vigilant, it might not be enough.”
For help for yourself or your loved one, please visit www.a-i-r.com or call us directly at 877-320-0247;
Tags: addiction, addiction intervention, AiR Assistance in recovery, andrew wainwright, heroin, heroin addiction, intervention, Legalization of Drugs, prescription drug abuse, substance abuse, Treatment, virginia drug abuse
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Wednesday, October 21st, 2009
Looks like CNN has been reading our blog! A post of theirs last night talked about treating heroin addicts with heroin, something we wrote about almost a month ago. Glad to see a large media source picking up on the news, and making it a topic of discussion.
A headlining article on the CNN website today spoke about the United Nations’ concerns with the ever-growing Afghan heroin trade. According to the article, Afghan opium is responsible for over 100,000 deaths across the globe per year, which is easily more than any other drug. The heroin trade also kills, as stated by UN figures, nearly five times as many people in NATO countries than total casualties of war in the eight-year Afghan conflict. The Taliban forces have been using a local “heroin tax” to raise money for their endeavors, and 15 million or so heroin addicts around the world are a sad part of this $65 billion trade.
Antonio Maria Costa, head of the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime, has said the solution to this problem is very clear. “We need a much greater effort and commitment by governments to prevent drug addiction, to take care of drug addicts … to reduce demand.” Basically, when we provide treatment to heroin addicts, and the treatment is successful, we’re going to be able to decrease demand. However, Ethan Nadelmann, founding executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, had this to say about the UN study: “It’s very good at describing a problem. But it truly is devoid of any kind of pragmatic solution, and it essentially suggests that the answer is to keep doing more of what’s failed us in the past.”
Both are valid points- we need an overhaul of drug policy both in our country and abroad. The best way to do this is innovative treatment options and improving the quality of care that we, in the treatment field, provide. With better rates of success, and better treatment available, we’ll be able to gradually decrease demand- and if not decrease demand, at least provide better solutions to the people who are still struggling. Our Recovery Assistance Program is exactly that. Designed to help families and addicts better manage their early recovery, we’ve provided a step in the right direction to help improve treatment outcomes. We will continue to move forward in providing more comprehensive solutions for families and addicts; our best hope is providing the best help.
Tags: addiction, addiction intervention, AiR Assistance in recovery, alcohol, alcoholism, heroin, heroin addiction, mental health, mental illness, recovery assistance, Recovery Assistance Program, substance abuse, Treatment
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Monday, September 28th, 2009
An interesting post in Time Magazine today touched on a new British trial, over the last four years, of providing free daily heroin injections as a method to wean them off the drugs. Since the results of the trial were positive (i.e. lower street drug use, lower crime rate among participates, etc.), officials are talking about making this a permanent addition of state-funded heroin clinics for the drug addicts in the U.K.
A quote from John Strang, one of the researchers with the National Addiction Centre (who helped lead the project): “It’s a less than perfect treatment, but for entrenched addicts, it gives them the first steps toward getting their life together. Some make a virtually complete recovery, but others, we get them from a bad place to a less bad place.” According to the research, those treated with heroin had better results than those treated with methadone. However, Paul Hayes, head of the National Treatment Agency, stressed in the Guardian this month that the services would be available to only a “very small proportion” of the nearly 200,000 heroin addicts in treatment.
So, government, if this works so well, why is it only available to a very small population? Shouldn’t this be the course of treatment for everyone? Obviously not. By giving drug addicts more drugs, aren’t we simply condoning and encouraging their habit? Why not fund a comprehensive, state-funded detoxification program followed by residential treatment? And harm reduction, in the long run is, in the words of our CEO Andrew Wainwright, simply a “band-aid on a bullet wound.” With addiction being a disease, and a malady of the physical, social and spiritual, simply medicating the addict’s “need” for the drug will not create a long term solution. We need to be moving people into comprehensive treatment, not helping them sustain their addiction.
For more information on heroin addiction and getting your loved one help, please call us at 877-320-0247.
Tags: addiction, addiction intervention, air, AiR Assistance in recovery, alcoholism, andrew wainwright, assistance in recovery, chemical dependency, drugs, heroin, heroin addiction, intervention, legal heroin, Legalization of Drugs, mental health, substance abuse, Treatment
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