Posts Tagged ‘pain killers’
Monday, April 30th, 2012
By Liz Szabo, USA TODAY
The number of babies born addicted to the class of drugs that includes prescription painkillers has nearly tripled in the past decade, according to the first national study of its kind.
About 3.4 of every 1,000 infants born in a hospital in 2009 suffered from a type of drug withdrawal commonly seen in the babies of pregnant women who abuse narcotic pain medications, the study says. It’s published today in The Journal of the American Medical Association.
That’s about 13,539 infants a year, or one drug-addicted baby born every hour, says the study’s lead author, Stephen Patrick, a fellow in neonatal-perinatal medicine at the University of Michigan.
Treating drug-addicted newborns, most of whom are covered by the publicly financed Medicaid program, cost $720 million in 2009, the study says.
The country has an obligation to help these newborns, who “have made no choices around drug abuse and addiction” and are “the most vulnerable and the most blameless” members of society, says Marie Hayes, psychology professor at the University of Maine, who was not involved in the study.
Unlike in the 1980s and 1990s, when hospitals saw a surge in babies born addicted to crack cocaine, many newborns today arrive hooked on powerful prescription painkillers, such as Vicodin and Oxycontin, Patrick says. The type of withdrawal Patrick studied, called neonatal abstinence syndrome, produces different symptoms from those caused by cocaine. The syndrome also can be caused by illegal opiates, such as heroin, Patrick says, but this surge in addicted babies probably is explained by the national “epidemic” of prescription drug abuse.
The number of pregnant women who used or abused narcotic painkillers increased fivefold from 2000 to 2009, his study found. These mothers now account for 5.6 out of 1,000 hospital births a year, the study found. The findings also were presented at the annual meeting of the Pediatric Academic Societies in Boston.
“The prevalence of drug use among pregnant women hasn’t changed since the early 2000s,” says Andreea Creanga, a researcher with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, noting about 4.5% of pregnant women use illegal drugs. “But the types of drugs that women are using is changing.”
The CDC has flagged prescription painkiller abuse as a major health threat, noting that these drugs now cause more overdose deaths than heroin and cocaine combined. And the problem is getting worse. The death rate from overdoses in 2007 — 12 deaths per 100,000 people — was roughly three times higher than in 1991, a CDC report in November showed. Most of that increase came from prescription drugs.
Many of these mothers tell their doctors they didn’t realize prescription painkillers could harm their babies, perhaps because the drugs are technically legal, says Mark Hudak, a spokesman for the American Academy of Pediatrics who wrote the group’s 2012 clinical report on newborn withdrawal. Other mothers are addicted when they become pregnant and simply unable to quit, he says.
Babies born in withdrawal are often born small and are at a higher risk of death than other infants, Patrick says. Doctors try to relieve the pain of surviving babies by treating them with methadone, a narcotic painkiller commonly used to treat heroin addicts. Doctors reduce the dose slowly over weeks to avoid causing sudden withdrawal symptoms, Patrick says.
Doctors and nurses sometimes can tell which babies are going through withdrawal from the hallway, without even seeing them, simply by hearing their cries, Patrick says. These babies are irritable and hard to console, with stiff, rigid muscles that won’t relax. They have tremors, seizures and breathing problems. They have trouble feeding and resist taking a bottle. They throw up frequently and produce watery diarrhea. “It’s like a colicky baby times 10,” Patrick says.
Sometimes, these babies are exposed to multiple drugs in the womb, from tobacco and alcohol to antidepressants and other psychiatric drugs, says Howard Heiman, associate chief of the neonatal intensive care unit at Cohen Children’s Medical Center of New York. Researchers need to find better ways to treat drug-addicted mothers and to identify and treat addicted babies as early as possible.
Some states have been hit harder than others, Hayes says, particularly those with high rates of rural poverty, such as Maine and Kentucky. In Florida, the number of babies with withdrawal syndrome soared from 354 in 2006 to 1,374 in 2010, according to the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration. In response, Florida’s attorney general has convened a task force to address the problem of drug-addicted newborns.
Friday, December 11th, 2009
Dr. A. Thomas McLellan, one of the leading researchers on addiction and a psychology professor at the University of Pennsylvania, recently shared his story with the New York Times. Dr. McLellan recently accepted a position with the U.S. government, at the invitation of Vice President Joe Biden, to be the nation’s number two drug control officer. This gave him an interesting choice- to stay a professor, or to go work for the new administration. However, some experiences in his home life led him to move to work with the administration.
Last year, Dr. McLellan’s 30-year-old son passed away from an overdose of anti-anxiety medication and alcohol, at the same time as his other, older son was in residential treatment working on his own addiction issues. This, McLellan said, is what led directly to him making the post. With the help of Gil Kerlikowski, the nation’s drug czar, he hopes to turn addiction from a punitive crime into one where we can see more people get help instead of jail time. From the article: “Dr. McLellan said that of the 25 million substance abusers he estimated were in this country, only about 2 million were receiving treatment. He and Mr. Kerlikowske want to triple that number, partly by spending more money and partly through other tactics, like integrating addiction treatment into the primary health care system.”
An interesting quote from Dr. McLellan: “If it has to happen, better it happens to me, I’m an expert, right? I didn’t know what to do and none of my buddies knew what to do, and let me tell you they were experts. So I said, “˜What the hell are we doing?’ ”
So what happens when the experts don’t know what to do? Well, that’s why we’re here. At Assistance in Recovery, we’re available to coach you through all those difficult questions, whether you’ve been researching addiction for 30 years or you know absolutely nothing about it, and everywhere in between. In the struggle with chemical dependency, it can happen to ANYONE- and is always better having an outside perspective on what to do.We can assist on all of those difficult questions and help put a solution in place.
Call us at 877-320-0247 or visit us on the web at www.a-i-r.com.
Tags: addiction, addiction genes, addiction intervention, AiR Assistance in recovery, anti-anxiety, assistance in recovery, chemical dependency, drug addiction, drug deaths, methamphetamine, overdose, pain addiction, pain killers, pain medication, prescription drug abuse, substance abuse, Treatment
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Monday, November 23rd, 2009
On the Wind River Reservation in Wyoming, families are mourning the deaths of three girls from methadone overdoses. CNN posted this interesting and terrible article this morning, talking about the tragic deaths of girls ages 13, 14 and 15. The three girls were sleeping over on a night just before starting a new semester of high school- and never made it home. On a reservation that has seen its share of drug and alcohol-related deaths, the loss of three young teenagers really struck home.
The coroner ruled the deaths homicides- but it was not readily apparent where the drugs came from.The FBI got involved almost immediately following the deaths, as they do when felonies occur on reservations. As a result, not much is known about the case itself. Two teenage boys have been arrested in conjunction with the deaths, but no other details are really known at this time. In a culture that acknowledges a distrust of law enforcement, nearly 24 hours passed before authorities were contacted about the deaths.
A difficult situation for the families on this reservation; one can only hope that, through this tragic loss, the people on the reservation can be more aware of the dangers of drug use and abuse. Through this, more help may be available- at least we can hope so. A difficult and tragic situation like this, along with it being brought into the public eye, may actually result in some change.
If you or a loved one are struggling with addiction, please contact us directly at 877-320-0247 or visit us on the web at www.a-i-r.com.
Tags: addiction, addiction intervention, adolescent addiction, AiR Assistance in recovery, assistance in recovery, chemical dependency, drug addiction, drug deaths, mental illness, methadone, methadone overdose, overdose, pain addiction, pain killers, prescription drug abuse, substance abuse, Treatment
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Friday, September 18th, 2009
As we’ve talked about before on the blog, some of the most dangerous substances of abuse are already legal- pain medication, alcohol and cigarettes are in the mainstream and on the rise. As a matter of fact, a recent study in the British medical journal Lancet stated that one in 25 deaths around the world is now alcohol-related- making alcohol just as dangerous as tobacco was ten years ago. These numbers are dangerous, and that’s talking about LEGAL substances!
Now what about marijuana? There has been a lot of controversy lately about drug policy, and it’s been all over the news. Colorado has decriminalized marijuana possessionof under an ounce to now a petty crime, or a ticketable offense. In California and other states, marijuana has been deemed a valuable medical resource, and now with Mexico decriminalizing the possession of small amounts of even harder drugs (such as cocaine and heroin), it seems as though it’s only a matter of time before this becomes a huge issue in the US. As we know, there has already been talk about California legalizing marijuana and taxing it to try and rescue themselves from a crippling budget deficit (although that idea has been shot down as of now).
We at AiR are from the stance that keeping drugs illegal prevents widespread abuse- easier access will create more problems, not less. However, as it’s obvious to us, the current U.S. structure of the “War on Drugs” isn’t working either. Our CEO, Andrew Wainwright, talked about this on CNN a few months ago. We need complete policy reform on this subject- basically, without an overhaul, we’ll be seeing an unnecessary amount of drug addicts go to prison and not get the help that they need, creating a cycle of addiction and imprisonment- none of which is good for our society as a whole. With reforms, we can create a route that pushes drug addicts into treatment and drug pushers into jail- the way the war should be fought. The addicts on the street, currently penned up in prisons and NOT getting help, aren’t the real problem here. By providing a viable solution for those addicts, we can help the drug market get smaller.
For more information about this topic, or for help for you or a loved one, please contact us at 877-320-0247.
Tags: addiction, andrew wainwright, assistance in recovery, california drug policy, chemical dependency, intervention, Legalization of Drugs, marijuana, marijuana legalization, pain addiction, pain killers, substance abuse
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Tuesday, September 1st, 2009
On Friday, we lost another high-profile drug addict, Adam Goldstein- also known as DJ AM. DJ AM had a long history of addiction and recovery, but he lost his final battle with his inner demons. Having recently survived a plane crash that killed four other passengers, he could add that to the long and terrible history of trauma in his life. A sad tale, but one that had a happy ending until this past week. Goldstein was noted for his compulsive behaviors; having struggled with overeating, he lost nearly 150 pounds following gastric bypass surgery and got clean in the late 90s. He had a long and detailed list of abuses from his father, who was verbally abusive and dealing with his own demons. Goldstein also talked about his suicide attempt where a gun jammed, saving his life. So Goldstein wasn’t just doing drugs to do drugs; he was masking and blotting out his pain.
Relapse can happen, even to those who have a history of recovery. These losses, as grave as they are, are good reminders to those of us in recovery to keep up our daily maintenance. Recovery is like any other disease; should you stop treatment, the disease will come back in full force. For DJ AM, his disease crept back- possibly through pain killers- and just was too much for him. Did the doctors know about his addiction? Were his sober friends monitoring his pain medication intake? Did Goldstein admit he was having problems with his sobriety to anyone? These are the answers we may never know. With a long history of making it through the fire relatively unscathed, he lost his final battle with his addiction.
His final message to the world: “New york, new york. Big city of dreams, but everything in new york aint always what it seems.” A sad ending to a tragic life. But there is hope. If you or a loved one are suffering today, call us at 877-320-0247. Help is out there, when you ask for it.
Tags: addiction, addiction intervention, AiR Assistance in recovery, chemical dependency, crack addiction, dj am, drew pinsky, intervention, pain addiction, pain killers, pain medication
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Wednesday, August 19th, 2009
A New York Times article brought up by AiR staff member Dave Kelly talks about different intervention approaches and how an intervention could have saved Michael Jackson. There were a couple of pretty good points in this article, namely around denial when dealing with addiction: “Denial is at the core of addiction, and breaking through it, many experts say, can require extreme measures, particularly with celebrities, who can procure an endless supply of drugs and are cocooned by people with an interest in keeping the star’s earnings flowing.” According to sources close to the Jackson family, there were multiple attempts made by Jackson’s family at an intervention. So the question remains- why aren’t Jackson’s employees, who held his family at bay, held liable for his death? They obviously knew of Jackson’s drug use; in fact, according to sources close to Jackson, they would often pick up his multiple prescriptions. Maybe we need to develop laws that, instead of forcing drug addicts into jail, create accountability for employers and employees who refuse to confront an addict.
Kurt Cobain, the former front man of Nirvana, is also mentioned in the article when talking about harm reduction- a controversial method of “managing” or cutting down ones drinking or using. Cobain apparently asked to do this around his heroin use, and was instead escorted to treatment, of his own choice. A doctor from Seattle talks about harm reduction and motivational interviewing as a method to help addicts “slow down” their using.
The problem with motivational interviewing- and harm reduction- is that by the time an intervention is needed to help a loved one, they are usually too far along to simply “slow down.” Harm reduction creates a pocket that allows addicts to make excuses when they slip up or go on a binge. Via intervention, we at Assistance In Recovery can create a healthy family system surrounding the addicted loved one, regardless of whether or not they choose to get help.
In the end, getting help for an addiction is a choice. But via intervention, we can make that choice easier for your loved one. Intervention, in the end, is the most caring thing you can do for a loved one- and one of the hardest. Make your choice.
Tags: addiction, addiction intervention, AiR Assistance in recovery, alcohol, assistance in recovery, cnn, drugs, intervention, michael jackson, michael jackson drug abuse, michael jackson intervention, pain killers, recovery assistance, substance abuse
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Monday, July 20th, 2009
Has there ever been a doubt that pain killers can be addictive? With the death of Michael Jackson and the revealing of years and years of pain medication abuse, the light is being shed on the dangers of these “legal” drugs. Andrew Wainwright, our CEO, talked on CNN a couple of weeks ago about the dangers of pain killer abuse (you can see the transcript here), and brought up a few key points: that off-label prescription drug abuse doesn’t carry the stigma of, say, a meth addict, and that in 1996 Oxycontin hit the market as “the” pain killer and was marketed as such. However- here’s a stunning fact: Overdose deaths involving prescription pain relievers increased 114 percent from 2001 to 2005, according to the Office of National Drug Control Policy.
In 2005, drug company Purdue Pharma confirmed that there was a federal inquiry about their marketing plan on the drug Oxycontin (check out the whole article from the Roanoke Times here). Paul Hanly, an attorney for one of the clients who worked for Purdue Pharma, had quite a bit to say, including that Purdue knew about widespread abuse and addiction to Oxycontin dating back to 1997 and 1998, even though they only publicly acknowledged that there “might be a problem” in 2000 after being notified by an attorney in Maine.
This past year, drug maker Merck has been battling a class action lawsuit in Australia over their pain medication Vioxx, which was pulled from the US market in 2004 after causing a series of cardiovascular injuries- to the tune of $4.85 billion. And two of the top-prescribed pain meds in the world, Percocet and Vicoden, have been recommended to be banned by the Food and Drug Administration.
The bottom line is this- drugs, of any form, are dangerous when abused. Pain medication can be lethal- and the fact that people think that because it’s coming from a doctor, it’s ok, is just wrong. Our doctors have been marketed and pushed and wined and dined by these pharmaceutical companies- companies without the best interest of the patients in mind, but the best dollar value and profit margin. Educate yourself before you start taking pain medication unnecessarily. Find out what kind of marketing strategy the drug company has used to get to your doctor. Ask questions. If your doctor is using their Oxycontin pen to prescribe you Oxycontin, make sure to ask why he or she recommends that- and what the dangerous side effects are.
If we aren’t active, we will see many more people die before things change. Be aware and be a voice.
For more information on pain killers, or for help with a pain killer addiction, contact us at 877-320-0247.
Tags: addiction intervention, assistance in recovery, oxycontin addiction, pain addiction, pain killers, pain medication, pain meds, percocet addiction, vicodin addiction
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