Posts Tagged ‘prescription drug abuse’
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.
Tuesday, May 11th, 2010
How do you know when your loved-one has surpassed the point of casual drug use and ventured into the dark territory of abuse and addiction?
Determining whether someone you care about has become addicted to drugs is difficult for many, not simply because the signs aren’t obvious, but because many times it’s difficult to admit someone so close can have gone so far.
Because of its difficulty, many times those standing by continue to not only allow the addiction and abuse to continue, but in their attempts to either help the situation themselves or pretend it doesn’t exist, they “enable” the user – inadvertently help them continue this lifestyle. Enabling endangers everyone affected, and drains the love and happiness from families.
Those addicted to or abusing drugs may exhibit different physical signs, as different drugs have different effects, but the symptoms of addiction remain generally the same, regardless of the substance.
When diagnosing issues of addiction, we look at whether someone is abusing substances or has moved into dependence. Some of the symptoms of abuse are:
- Regularly neglecting your responsibilities at school, work, or home (e.g. flunking classes, being chronically late for work, neglecting your children) because of use.
- Taking risks while using, such as driving while on drugs, using dirty needles, or having unprotected sex.
- The use is causing legal trouble, such as arrests for driving under the influence, drunk and disorderly conduct or stealing or dealing to support a drug habit.
- The use in general is causing problems in relationships, partner or employer.
Common signs and symptoms of drug or alcohol dependence include:
- Tolerance. This is the need to use or drink more to get any effect.
- Withdrawal symptoms. Experiences symptoms such as nausea, restlessness, insomnia, depression, sweating, shaking, and anxiety from a lack of use. People with this problem often times can’t go 3-4 days without using something to feel better.
- Loss of Control. When someone can no longer make choices about how, when or how much they use, even though they told themselves they wouldn’t.
- The addict spends a lot of time using and thinking about drugs or alcohol, figuring out how and when they can get their substance, and recovering from it’s effects.
- When someone is abusing substances, we are concerned that they are neglecting their roles and responsibilities. In dependence, people are more likely to abandon activities they used to enjoy, such as hobbies, sports, and socializing.
- Continued use despite knowing it’s causing major problems in one’s life—blackouts, infections, mood swings, depression, paranoia—but they continue to use anyway.
The more drugs and alcohol begin to affect your decisions and judgment the more they control your life. While people may go through a stage where they are abusing and can walk away, once addiction takes control it can be hard to break away without some form of help. Unfortunately, when you’re in the middle of it, the denial that you or your loved one may be experiencing can cloud one’s ability to look at the problem subjectively. That is why many people are “forced” into treatment by family, employers or the legal system.
The earlier someone recognizes the symptoms of addiction, the more likely they are to avoid some of the major consequences that often go hand in hand with addiction.
Post written by Jim Stoltz, Clinical Director for Assistance in Recovery and Licensed Independent Clinical Social worker who has spent almost 20 years working with addicts and alcoholics to achieve long-term recovery.
Tags: addiction recovery, assistance in recovery, drug abuse, drug addiction, prescription drug abuse, prescription drug overdose, recovery assistance, Recovery Assistance Program
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Thursday, April 8th, 2010
I don’t imagine there are a whole lot of shocked gasps out there from people hearing Corey Haim’s death has been officially attributed to prescription drug abuse, but the situation should be causing outrage and action as a response to its newest addition to high-profile addicts losing the battle to stay afloat.
According to the Los Angeles Times, the California attorney general announced Tuesday that Haim had managed to get prescription drugs from seven different doctors and multiple pharmacies. The number of pills stashed, an incredible 553 doses of Xanax, Valium, Soma and Vicodin.
As we’ve been commenting, the problem isn’t just for celebrities, but the publicity for this high profile death should be urging some real action in California, where attorney general Jerry Brown seems to be taking exception to the problem, saying though Haim “is the poster child for the problem, there are a lot of doctor-shoppers and most of them aren’t celebrities.”
Clearly this case isn’t one of accidental addiction; Haim’s drug problems have ranged the spectrum of mood altering and body destructive, so the idea that he, a well-known drug abuser, could so easily be issued so many drugs raises more than a few red flags for the industry.
The state has been cracking down on illegal prescription drug rings in California for months now, and the incident caused the attorney general to urge CA doctors to “check with” the California prescription drug-monitoring database so as to avoid “getting duped” by other would-be abusers, as Haim’s doctors claimed to have done.
But where’s the accountability here? “Checking with” a database doesn’t do a whole lot for those doctors who don’t take much ownership of the problems associated with these prescriptions in the first place.
While other states are pushing ahead in mandatory reporting for painkiller prescriptions, it appears California is lagging behind on the legislation needed to truly tackle its growing drug abuse problem at the source. I understand the state’s funding problems may outweigh its other priorities, but the message they send to those looking for drugs without strings, both from within and without the state, is one of neglect and consequent free indulgence.
Tuesday, April 6th, 2010
Flipping through the channels this weekend, I was pleasantly surprised to see E! going deeper than the celebrity deaths due to prescription drug abuse. Their new special looked into everyday people’s struggle with prescription painkiller and sedative addictions.
The show profiled different types of people—from the typical juvenile druggie, to the overachiever, to the unintentional addiction of someone simply prescribed poorly—and discussed how each became hooked, the steps they took to find sobriety and family reactions throughout. All of this was done with compassion and an absence of judgment, potentially leading viewers to gain the footing to seek help in response.
While I applaud them for delving out of their ordinary murder mysteries and celebrity documentaries by looking at the effects of the disease on normal people outside the Hollywood spotlight, the program ended without educating the audience as adequately as it could.
The show’s depictions neglect the concept of “continuing care” (the receipt of guidance after one leaves treatment), a crucial step in the recovery process to which the general population and media have yet to catch on, instead only going through the routine of intervention, treatment and either success or failure.
I don’t mean to rag on E!, but this special is another example of TV programs with the right idea yet lacking the correct and complete education to properly comment on the subject. Discussing recovery of any kind as a behavioral health problem by only highlighting intervention and treatment but missing continuing care is like missing the bread in a peanut butter and jelly sandwich; the other parts have the opportunity to be really satisfying, but without the boundaries, they just fall apart.
Tags: assistance in recovery, celebrity addiction, celebrity drug addiction, prescription drug abuse, prescription drug overdose, prescription pill addiction, Recovery Assistance Program, recovery support
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Monday, March 15th, 2010
Corey Haim’s death Wednesday brought another influx of attention to the prescription drug debate in America, though its misunderstanding could be the most costly side effect of the nation-wide disease.
Prescription drug abuse isn’t just for the wealthy. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, over 45 million Americans or over 20 percent of the country’s population have used prescription drugs for non-medical reasons. This dangerous and easily misunderstood addiction goes unnoticed by many and receives less press than other more “street” addictions.
What seems to be most concerning about the upsurge in high-profile deaths recently is that the concept of prescription drug dependency takes a sidecar to voyeur. In the case of Brittany Murphy, the notion of her drug habits elicted responses desiring to “out her” as something less beautiful and more disturbed, a demotion of image or an affirmation of her flaws.
With Corey Haim, the responses simply imply this was the natural course of things. Even his own certainty that he’d be “a chronic relapser for the rest of my life” (from an interview on CNN’s “Larry King Live”) gives little resistance to the idea.
The opposition of Murphy’s rumored closet addiction and the very public knowledge of Haim’s should bring to light the scope of the problem rather than act as both circus sideshow attraction and circle of life philosophy. Other high profile deaths within the last couple years (like Heath Ledger and Michael Jackson) that should also bring a wider view of the disease seem to be doing little by way of public action.
Sure, states are starting to pass laws putting restrictions on those who prescribe, but how about starting from an obvious point of concern: the labeling.
One of the most difficult issues with this type of addiction lies in the problematic directions on many painkiller labels. Those who are actually taking the drug for a legitimate problem may inadvertantly become hooked. Painkiller labels reading “Take 1 or 2 tablets or as necessary” creates an ambiguous statement. What does “as necessary” really mean?
These drugs are extremely easy to adapt to. After a relatively short time of taking them, the “Take 1 or 2 tablets” begins to take a backseat to “or as necessary” and begins the slope toward addiction.
Without changes to these most basic of problems, how can we expect to change the situation? When doctor’s offices situate themselves in strip malls and you can go to different doctors for the same problem, it makes getting these drugs very easy and makes painkiller addiction less of a celebrity problem.
Yes, state and national governments try to come up with ways to limit or track prescription drug issuance by passing new laws and creating databases. In the meantime, Middle America silently self-medicates behind bathroom doors.
Wednesday, January 20th, 2010
Suboxone (or buprenorphin) seems to be all the rage these days. With the power of the multi-lateral corporation Reckitt Benckiser (whose exclusive license on Suboxone brought in fifteen percent of their overall revenue in 2009), a huge push is being made to medical doctors to prescribe Suboxone as a way to combat heroin use. Since Suboxone is a semi-synthetic opiate, many dangers arise from the over-prescription of this drug. While we at AiR have seen many benefits to Suboxone during the initial detoxification process, we worry about the addicts who get saddled in trading one maintenance drug for another. Now the website for Suboxone does suggest that “more than medication alone” makes for successful treatment; however- we’d like to see some facts and research behind the amount of people who seek outside therapy along with their medication management.
Here’s the main problem, directly from the Suboxone website:
“All opioids can cause physical dependence. SUBOXONE belongs to a class of opioids called “partial opioid agonists.” As a partial agonist, buprenorphine appears to produce less physical dependence, limited euphoria, and less potential for abuse compared with a full agonist, eg, heroin, oxycodone, and hydrocodone. SUBOXONE has potential for abuse and produces dependence of the opioid type with a milder withdrawal syndrome than full agonists.
When patients are ready to stop taking SUBOXONE, the dose is slowly and gradually tapered. The withdrawal symptoms of SUBOXONE are milder than those seen with a full opioid agonist and can be managed with your doctor’s supervision.”
So, basically, are we dealing with the new methadone here? It sure looks like it. We need physicians to be responsible and educated around addiction before they reach for that prescription pad. If a doc wants to use suboxone to assist in the detoxification process, then please do- just be sure to remove a patient from this opioid. Creating additional dependence, albeit on a lower-level substance, still encourages a dependence instead of a solution. Hazelden had this to say (from a CNN article earlier this year): “At Hazelden, a small proportion of patients receive anti-addiction drugs, but medical director Dr. Kevin Clark says the traditional model — based on intensive therapy and the 12 steps — is still best. ‘It is a disease of the brain, but it’s a multifaceted disease. It has a spiritual component, a behavioral component to it,’ says Clark. ‘Our experience tells us that having the network of support and recovery is what really makes the difference.’”
With the help of residential treatment, twelve-step programs, and support from a family, the chances of an addict getting into recovery skyrocket. Medication alone will never be the solution, because, at the end of the day, the drugs are only a symptom. An addict needs help outside of a pill.
For help for yourself or a loved one, please call us at 877-320-0247 or visit our main page at www.a-i-r.com.
Tags: addiction, addiction intervention, AiR Assistance in recovery, assistance in recovery, buprenorphin, chemical dependency, drug addiction, drug deaths, methadone, prescription drug abuse, Recovery Assistance Program, suboxone, substance abuse, Treatment
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Friday, January 15th, 2010
According to a press release by SAMHSA, treatment providers and families should be expecting a “dramatic increase” in substance abuse among adults 50 and older.The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is the US government agency faced with the goal of improving the quality and availability of prevention, treatment, and rehabilitative services for in the substance abuse and mental health fields. SAMSHA’s latest report, published on January 8th, states that services for those of the aging baby boomer generation should be expected to double by the year 2020.
“This new data has profound implications for the health and well-being of older adults who continue to abuse substances,” said Pamela S. Hyde, J.D, the SAMHSA Administrator. “These findings highlight the need for prevention programs for all ages as well as to establish improved screening and appropriate referral to treatment as part of routine health care services.”
The stats point to a rising trend in marijuana use, with 8.5% of men between 50 and 54 reporting having used marijuana in the past year. And with a rise in prescription drug abuse (up from 1% to 5% of treatment admissions from 1997 to 2009), one can only expect that drug abuse will increase. The National Institute of Health reports that nearly 20% of adults have used prescription drugs for non medical reasons. Dr. Gary Kennedy, director of Geriatric Psychiatry at Montefiore Medical Center, stated: “We need much better support services for the number of older adults who are going to have substance abuse problems.” The New York Daily News even picked up on the story, stating that the Woodstock generation still has a tendency to get high.
So what do we do? Become better educated for prevention and awareness. Talk to your loved ones if you’re concerned about their use. Learn about the signs and symptoms of drug abuse. And when you need it, ask for help. Addiction is a disease of silence; keeping secrets keeps loved ones sick, and the only way to get better is through outside help.
If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, please call us at 877-320-0247 or visit us on the web at www.a-i-r.com.
Also, for those in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area, we will be presenting a family education series in conjunction with Hazelden on February 8th.
Tags: addiction, addiction intervention, AiR Assistance in recovery, alcohol, assistance in recovery, chemical dependency, drug addiction, intervention, older adult substance abuse, pain addiction, pain medication, prescription drug abuse, SAMHSA, substance abuse, Treatment
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Friday, January 8th, 2010
With a new year (and a new decade as well, depending on who you ask) upon us, we in the addiction world often see many people come to us with New Years resolutions, things such as:
“2010 will be the year I get sober.”
“Maybe I should cut down on my drinking.”
“This is the year I talk to my son about his drug use.”
“This is the year of big changes in my family.”
We at AiR encourage these resolutions- they can be a big catalyst for change, and help people get on the path to recovery. However, what’s important to remember here is how many times one has made these said resolutions. If you find yourself saying for the fifth year in a row that it’s time to quit drinking, it’s probably time to seek outside help. If you’re a family member and you’re hearing the same resolution year after year- we can help with that too.
Since the holiday season seems so volatile (as we’ve covered here), now is the time to act. A new year can bring about new changes. If you’re a family member and your loved one is hurting from a compulsive behavior, reach out. Ask for help. If you can’t make the phone call yet, then check out our book, It’s Not Okay To Be A Cannibal (available here); some good advice is available there, but be sure to get outside assistance when you decide to move forward.
If you or a loved one are in crisis, please call us at 877-320-0247 for immediate assistance, or visit us on the web at www.a-i-r.com.
Tags: addiction, addiction intervention, AiR Assistance in recovery, assistance in recovery, chemical dependency, drug addiction, drugs, eating disorders, gentetics of addiction, heroin addiction, intervention, mental health, methamphetamine, pain addiction, pain medication, prescription drug abuse, recovery assistance, Recovery Assistance Program, substance abuse, Treatment
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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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