For many older adults, opioids may be the best option for treating chronic pain. But, using these substances can come with a tremendous risk of addiction, overdose, and death. Some people over the age of 65 are unable to tolerate non-opioid drugs due to liver problems, kidney dysfunction, high blood pressure, cardiac issues, or other problems. Since untreated pain can lead to depression and other physical or mental issues, opioids seem to be the solution. However, research shows a distinct link between opioids and suicides among older people. Why does this happen?
Are Older People More Susceptible to Opioids and Suicides?
A recent study of over 38 thousand adults found that people who misuse opioids were 71 percent more likely to have suicidal thoughts. Of those, 50 percent had attempted suicide. These percentages are higher in adults over the age of 50. Many physicians continue to prescribe opioids to individuals in this age group regardless.
Older adults often misuse medications unintentionally. Some struggle with age-related memory problems and get confused about when the next dose is due. Also, long-term painkiller use can cause dependency or addiction. Many of these adults have been on the medications for years, and are needing higher doses to get the pain relief they need.
In a study published by the International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, researchers found that 25.4 percent of older adults had misused their prescriptions were more likely to have had suicidal thoughts. Furthermore, about 10 percent had new-onset depression after being on opioids for only a month. This issue progressed the longer the person stayed on the medication, contributing to the increasing problem of opioids and suicides.
Other Problems Associated with Senior Citizens’ Prescription Drug Use
Although opioids and suicides among senior citizens is a national health crisis, other issues surround this generation of prescription pain pill users. For instance, studies show that more than 36,000 emergency room visits due to opioid complications involved senior citizens. Furthermore, there was a 34 percent increase in opioid-related hospitalizations among older adults in a five-year period.
More than 10 million senior citizens filled at least one opioid prescription in 2018. About 4 million of seniors filled prescriptions for more than four opioids in that same year. Why should this be a major concern in our country? Because our seniors are struggling with diminished quality of life and are in danger of physical harm due to opioids. Here are just a few examples of the consequences:
- Adverse central nervous system issues – Mild cognitive impairment and sedation result in forgetfulness, falls, and other physical or mental problems.
- Respiratory depression – This life-threatening complication of opioids can be worse when co-occurring disorders such as emphysema, asthma, or COPD are present.
- Urinary retention – Many older adults have kidney dysfunction. Opioids can make it worse. Uncomfortable swelling of the extremities can result in addition to further damage to the kidneys.
According to a study published by the National Institutes of Health:
“In general, the rate at which certain drugs are absorbed can be altered in the elderly because of decreased gastrointestinal transit time and increased gastric pH secondary to use of proton pump inhibitors, H2 receptor antagonist, or antacids. Properly evaluating and treating pain in all types of elderly patients and clinical scenarios should be the goal of all clinicians.”
Clearly, older adults are struggling with the effects of several medications all at one time. This puts them at risk for a range of consequences.
Get Help for Addiction at Awakenings Rehabilitation
If you know an older adult who is struggling with prescription drug dependence or addiction, contact us at Awakenings. The risk of opioids and suicide is only one of the problems these individuals face. We can help. Call today.
onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs – Prescription Opioid and Benzodiazepine Misuse is Associated with Suicidal Ideation in Older Adults
webmd.com – Reports Warn of Growing Senior Opioid Crisis
ncbi.nlm.nih.gov – Opiates and the Elderly: Use and Side Effects
Poison control centers report a sharp increase in calls about children eating marijuana-infused chocolates, gummies, and brownies. This is happening especially in states where recreational marijuana use has been legalized. Many of the children are as young as four or five years of age and don’t know what they’re consuming. So, what do parents who use legalized marijuana need to know about the dangers of children and edible THC products?
Signs That a Child has Consumed Edible THC Products
Young children under the age of 12 are highly susceptible to the effects of THC because of their size and weight. The doses are for adults, so it will have a stronger and more prolonged effect on a small child.
When a child consumes edible THC products, the symptoms may take a while to manifest. Some of the most common signs are lethargy, difficulty breathing, poor coordination, and unresponsiveness. The onset of symptoms can take from one to four hours and can last for several hours.
A visit to the ER ensures that the child is not in danger from an overdose. Medical professionals monitor the child until the effects of the drug subside. In some cases, children remain hospitalized due to severe symptoms.
How Widespread is the Problem of Children Consuming Edible Marijuana?
As of May 2020, the recreational use of marijuana is legal in 12 states and decriminalized in 26 states. Also, medicinal use is legal in 34 states. No doubt, the potential for marijuana getting into the hands of children increases with each new addition to this list.
The problem of children consuming edible marijuana has increased tenfold in states where recreational use of marijuana is legal. In Michigan, for instance, calls to 911 increased from 6 in 2017 to 59 this year. In Maine,19 calls have been made so far this year, which is a 160 percent increase from 2016. Colorado reports that twice as many kids came to the ER to be treated for THC ingestion since recreational marijuana became legal. Other states are reporting similar trends.
Overall, in the United States, children’s exposure to marijuana products rose 147.5 percent. However, in states where medical marijuana is legal, the figure jumped to 610 percent.
What’s Being Done to Protect Children?
State marijuana regulators require states to package the products in childproof containers. But, many people say more oversight is needed. Jeremy Unruh, a spokesperson for Pharmacann, LLC has this to say about the problem:
“I don’t think anybody is more out in front of this than the cannabis industry right now,” Unruh said. “We agree that rules, regulations, and protocols should be robust enough to discourage or remove the opportunity for minors to unintentionally ingest these products.”
Unruh suggests that parents keep edible THC products locked up and far out of reach of kids. Also, it is crucial that the products remain in the original, childproof packaging.
Many instances of children taking the edibles to school and sharing with classmates were reported. Children need to be warned about the dangers of accepting candy, brownies, or cookies from anyone other than trusted individuals.
Are You Struggling to Control Your Marijuana Use?
If you are struggling to limit or stop your marijuana use, contact us at Awakenings Rehabilitation today. Our multi-modality approach to addiction treatment will help you enjoy a drug-free lifestyle that lasts.
disa.com– Map of Marijuana Legality by State
boston25news.com– Framingham middle-schooler hospitalized after eating marijuana edible on school bus
childrenscolorado.org – Acute Marijuana Intoxication
justthinktwice.gov – Drug Alert: Marijuana Edibles
It’s inconceivable to most of us that people are repeatedly harming pets to get opioids, but studies show that it happens more than we realize. Scientists from Penn Medicine and Penn Vet conducted a study that reveals a 41 percent increase in pet opioid prescriptions in the last ten years. However, the number of vet visit only increased by about 13 percent. Obviously, there was something unusual going on. Who’s really using all those meds?
Are Veterinarians Suspicious About Who is Using the Meds?
The dramatic spike in pet opioid prescriptions could mean that those meds weren’t consumed by Fido. For that reason, the researchers reviewed pet hospital pharmacy records. They found that the most widely prescribed painkillers were hydrocodone, codeine, fentanyl patches, and tramadol. About 73% of those prescriptions were for dogs, 23% for cats, and the remainder for other pets such as rabbits, birds, or snakes.
Researchers with the Center for Health, Work, and Environment surveyed veterinarians and found that about 13% suspected some clients of purposely injuring their pets to get opioids. The suspected injuries include cutting the pet with razor blades or other sharp instruments. Some even feed the animal something to make it appear ill. FDA Commission, Scott Gottlieb called on veterinarians to recommend alternative medications when possible and to educate the pet owners about safe storage and disposal of opioids, if prescribed.
What Can be Done to Prevent People from Harming Pets to Get Opioids?
As these incidents of pet abuse continue to increase, many states have created new medication restrictions for veterinarians. Working with state legislators, the Veterinary Medical Association is looking into this issue. Some of the steps they are taking include monitoring patients that need long-term opioid use and creating opioid administration guidelines. Their goal is to significantly reduce the number of people who are harming pets to get opioids.
Also, veterinarians are alert for suspicious injuries, especially repeated injuries to the same pet. Vets are also informed about how to check the pet owner’s background for a history of drug abuse or “doctor- shopping” indicators. In addition, the FDA released a list of recommendations for veterinarians in case they encounter a situation of deliberate pet abuse.
Some veterinarians report that they do not prescribe opioids if they suspect the pet owner of drug-seeking. Many vets refuse to keep these substances in their clinics. Also, they are now asking clients to sign waivers that allow them to examine the pet’s medical background. If the person refuses to sign, the vet will refuse treatment. In some states, vets must report each opioid or other controlled substance they prescribe.
Treatment for Opioid Addiction Prevents More Harm to Innocent Victims
Harming pets to get opioids is just one more way addicts inflict pain to get what they want. But, the list of victims of the opioid epidemic in the US is astonishing. It includes friends, family, employers, children, pets, and society as a whole. To prevent further harm to these victims and to the substance abusers themselves, professional treatment is the best option.
If you or someone you know is struggling with opioid addiction, please contact us at Awakenings Rehabilitation today. We can get you on the path to the drug-free, healthy lifestyle you deserve. Our program offers the most innovative and up-to-date evidence-based treatment available today. One of our representatives will conduct a confidential assessment and recommend a treatment plan that is right for your needs.
fda.gov – FDA Regulation of Animal Drugs
jamanetwork.com – Trends in Opioid Prescribing and Dispensing by Veterinarians in Pennsylvania
usatoday.com/ – Shocking Trend: Pet Owners Abuse Their Own Animals to Get Drugs
The devastating effects of the Coronavirus pandemic continue to shock us as we watch the statistics rise. Daily news reports reveal more deaths, lost jobs, business closings, and economic repercussions that stem from this virus. Unfortunately, the effects will continue to pose threats to society in ways we would not have imagined a few months ago. Among those threats is the potential for increased substance abuse during COVID-19.
Studies show that people tend to increase their alcohol or drug use during times of stress. For instance, after the 911 terrorist attacks in 2001, alcohol consumption increased by 25 percent of New Yorkers in the days immediately following the attacks. The same survey shows that 10 percent of people surveyed reported increased smoking and 3 percent reported increased cannabis use. We should not be surprised to see increased substance abuse during COVID-19 lockdowns.
Why Substance Abusers are at Risk for the Virus
So far, the deaths and illness from COVID-19 appear to be among older individuals who have health issues such as COPD, diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular disease, and other conditions. However, many younger, healthier people have fallen victim as well.
Other at-risk individuals include cigarette smokers or people who use e-cigarettes. Because the virus attacks the lungs, people who use these products are particularly vulnerable.
Also, people who abuse opioids may be more susceptible to the effects of the virus. Opioids slow a person’s breathing, resulting in diminished oxygen in the blood (hypoxemia). If the individual contracts COVID-19, the lungs are unable to withstand more damage.
Meth abusers may be at high risk of contracting the virus because methamphetamine constricts the blood vessels which in turn causes pulmonary damage.
Other reasons for the increased risk of contracting COVID-19 among substance abusers include:
- Limited access to health care.
- Homelessness or incarceration exposes individuals to close contact with others who are at high risk of spreading infectious diseases.
- Sharing needles increases their risk of exposure.
- Lack of housing prevents self-quarantine measures.
- Weak immune system due to poor nutrition, drug abuse, and poor hygiene.
For these reasons, it is imperative that people with substance abuse disorders not be discriminated against during the virus crisis.
Social Isolation Fuels Substance Abuse
Keeping Americans stuck at home can cause a variety of problems that have the potential to become life-threatening. For instance, a person who struggles with depression may develop suicidal thoughts during isolation. Substance abusers or addicts may possibly overdose. A person who has recently exited addiction rehab is at risk of relapse due to the stress surrounding the pandemic. Individuals who were social drinkers could become heavy drinkers in an attempt to cope with the boredom of lockdown.
This is a challenging time for all Americans, but we must resist making the situation worse by using addictive substances as a coping tool.
Booze Sales Spike as People Shelter in Place
It’s no secret, Americans love to be entertained and alcoholic beverages are often included. But, bars and restaurants are not open now, and people are stockpiling their favorite booze so they can party at home. Here are some statistics from CNN that will give us an idea of the situation:
- Since the third week of March, alcoholic beverage sales increased by 55%.
- Ready-to-drink cocktails rose by 75%.
- Compared to one year ago, purchases of 24 to 30 packs of beer grew by 90%.
- Wine sales increased by 66% from one year ago.
These increases are expected to slow down as people are forced to focus on purchasing essentials such as food and medicines if the virus continues for an extended time.
Learn More About Increased Substance Abuse During COVID-19
At Awakenings Rehabilitation, we understand your fears and concerns during this unusual time. Hopefully, this information helped you understand increased substance abuse during COVID-19. Contact us today if you need help overcoming substance abuse problems. We are always available to assist you.
drugabuse.gov – COVID-19: Potential Implications for Individuals with Substance Use Disorders
drugabuse.gov – COVID-19
cnn.com – Booze Sales are Booming as People Stockpile Alcohol
It’s a new year and with it comes the desire to do more for ourselves, our families, and society. Hopefully, we learned some things in the past year that will help us create effective solutions to problems, improve the quality of life for the less fortunate, and generate a better sense of togetherness as a nation. Among the many things on our “to do” list, winning the battle against substance abuse should be at the top.
In a report released by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the World Drug Report, research shows that the adverse consequences of substance abuse are more widespread and severe than previously thought. For instance, estimates show that the number of opioid users is 53 million and these drugs cause about two-thirds of the 585,000 drug-related deaths.
On a global scale, more than 11 million people abused injectible drugs in 2017. Of those, about 1.4 million have HIV and another 5.6 million suffer from hepatitis C. Not to mention the economic costs that soared to reach over $696 billion in 2018. So, what have we learned in the past and where do we go from here in winning the never-ending war on drugs?
What We Learned in the Past Decade
It’s no surprise that the drug problem is evolving and escalating at unprecedented rates. The types of substances and the amounts available are more potent and plentiful than ever before in the history of substance abuse. According to UNODC, drug use is:
“A complex, multifactorial health disorder characterized by a chronic and relapsing nature that requires a multidisciplinary and comprehensive response, including diversified pharmacological and psychosocial interventions.”
With that definition in mind, let’s look at some of the things that we’ve learned in the past decade about winning the battle against substance abuse:
- Detention and punishment don’t always work. As the length of prison sentences grew drug arrests rose 53% in ten years. But, studies show that about 85% of those individuals leave prison or jail and return to using. Comparatively, about 75% of drug offenders remained arrest-free two years after receiving drug treatment.
- Eradicating the source fuels the problem. Eliminating drugs at the point of production (crops) can foster human rights violations, political instability, and social conflict thus benefiting smaller, armed illicit producers.
- Treatment programs are not created equal. A substance abuse program should encompass a variety of treatment approaches that seek to improve a person’s cognitive skills, build self-esteem, and provide a safe environment for healing. Unfortunately, this is not always the case in some facilities. Many individuals may fail at one program, but they reach recovery with a comprehensive treatment plan that provides compassion, professionalism, and evidence-based methodologies.
Treatment vs Incarceration: Can it Work?
Studies show that if only 10 percent of individuals with drug-related offenses received professional treatment, more than $4.9 billion would be saved. Exponentially, sending 40 percent to treatment saves as much as $12.9 billion, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. The US is called the “incarceration nation.” We make up only 5 percent of the global population but have more than 25 percent of the world’s prisoners.
Every 25 seconds, someone is arrested in America for drug possession. Clearly, a lot of money is spent without gaining anything beneficial in return.
What’s Next in Winning the Battle Against Substance Abuse?
The most significant changes come when we as a nation overcome the stigma associated with substance abuse. No one intentionally sets out to become an addict or an overdose statistic. These individuals have a medical disorder that requires proven intervention methods just like any other medical condition. Let’s work together to help these individuals restore their quality of life and return to being productive citizens again.
Every 16 minutes someone in the US dies from an opioid overdose. If you know someone who needs help with substance abuse, please contact us at Awakenings Rehabilitation. This phone call could save a life. Do your part in winning the battle against substance abuse.
unodc.org – World Drug Report 2019
knowledgecenter.csg.org – Drug Abuse in the States: Incarceration
bop.gov – Federal Bureau of Prisons Statistics: Offenses
The Internet abounds with articles and stories about how the holidays affect people who are struggling with addiction. They offer hundreds of tips and advice for those individuals on how to get through the parties and get-togethers and stay sober. But, what about the loved ones who are wondering how to navigate the festive season without causing the addict in their lives to feel uncomfortable? Are there some tips on how to celebrate the holidays with an addict in the house? No doubt, holidays and addictions are not a good combination, but you can still enjoy the gatherings with these tips.
Don’t Cancel Christmas
Many families of addicts are tempted to isolate themselves from the Christmas festivities. Some of these families are feeling shame, embarrassment, fear, or anger about the situation. So, they choose to avoid complications by simply staying at home. It’s reasonable to be concerned about how your addicted loved one will behave in a group of people who are drinking. But, part of the recovery process is learning to cope with trigger situations. Holidays and addictions can be stressful, but you don’t need to cancel your holiday plans. A few changes may be all it takes to ensure that everything goes smoothly.
Try Some Alternatives
There are a few alternatives for celebrating the holidays without causing your addicted loved one more stress. If you are hosting a holiday gathering in your home, you have the option of requesting that no alcohol be served. This request may seem over the top, especially if your friends and family are accustomed to heavy drinking at your parties. But, a sober party is not impossible. Millions of people socialize without alcohol and have a great time.
If you have a recovering addict in your family, the alcohol-free idea is a great way to show that you respect their hard work in overcoming their addiction. Your support and understanding can go a long way in keeping your loved one on track.
If the addict in your family is still using, you may be tempted to exclude him or her from your gathering. But, according to addiction treatment specialists, this plan could backfire. If you exclude the loved one it may cause more feelings of estrangement, shame, and isolation that the person is experiencing already, driving them further into substance abuse.
Of course, you must consider the needs and safety of other family members. If you choose to invite the addict to your event, you can set firm ground rules of behavior. If the rules are broken, you must follow through with the consequences you established.
Don’t Go It Alone
Dealing with an addict in the family is difficult even at the best of times. It’s important for you and your family to know that you are not alone. You can find local support groups for families of addicts that can help you stay focused and find strength. Your loved one needs to feel that someone cares and will be there for them when things get tough. But, you also need a source of compassion and support yourself. If you aren’t at your best, you can’t be much help to your loved one. So, find a group you feel is right for your needs and attend regularly to ensure that you get the most from the meetings.
Holidays and Addictions Don’t Have to Cause Disaster
Holidays and addictions are tough, but with some advance planning and a strong support structure, you and your loved one can navigate the ups and downs together.
If you need information about addiction treatment programs for your loved one, please contact us at Awakenings Rehabilitation today. One of our experts will help you choose the best recovery plan available today.
psychologytoday.com – Addiction During the Holidays
Is there a difference between detox and withdrawal management? Professional organizations and clinicians believe so and have recently replaced the term “detox” with the term “withdrawal management.” They recognize that these two processes are not the same thing and that the term detox can be misleading.
Clarifying the Differences Between Detox and Withdrawal Management
The World Health Organization (WHO) states that there are technical issues with continuing to use the terms detox and detoxification to describe the withdrawal process. As such, they decided to describe the process as withdrawal management. The American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) has followed suit.
They sum it up like this:
“The liver performs detoxification and clinicians manage withdrawal symptoms.”
The ASAM has formally applied the term to all of their publications with references to recovering from substance use disorders.
Let’s take a look at the difference between detox and withdrawal management to understand better why there needs to be a distinction between the two.
Understanding the Detoxification Process
Detoxification, or detox, refers to the cleansing of toxins from the body. Of course, the liver performs this process naturally every day by eliminating waste products and foreign substances from the blood. This natural detoxification occurs in healthy individuals and even some people who are using a drug or medication.
Ultimately, withdrawal symptoms appear when a drug of abuse is not replenished. This syndrome happens because the body has adapted to the presence of the addictive substance. Therefore, if the drug is withheld, the system is thrown out of balance. As a result, the symptoms can manifest as physical or emotional consequences.
Why Withdrawal Management is Necessary
Withdrawal management refers to the psychological and medical processes that can become life-threatening depending on the drug involved and the severity of the addiction. Of course, some people have successfully overcome drug abuse on their own, but this is not recommended in most instances.
Some of the withdrawal symptoms that require medical intervention include:
- Nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea that can lead to dehydration
- Anxiety, aggressiveness
- Confusion, disorientation
- Rapid heart rate
- Increased blood pressure
- Difficulty breathing
- Shakes, tremors, muscle cramping
- Seizures, coma
Of course, the duration and intensity of withdrawal symptoms vary depending on the person’s physical health and the drug involved.
Other factors that indicate the need for professional withdrawal management include co-occurring mental health issues such as:
- bipolar disorder
- major depressive disorder
- personality disorders
- severe alcoholism
Individuals with these dual-diagnosis issues are advised against going through withdrawal without medical intervention. In many cases, it has resulted in self-harm, injury, or death as a result of these conditions.
During withdrawal management, patients are monitored 24/7 by a team of addiction specialists and medical personnel. Accordingly, the goal is to ensure a safe, effective withdrawal process that prepares the individual for the next phase of treatment.
What Comes Next?
After undergoing withdrawal management, the individual should enter a professional rehabilitation program. Rehab addresses the underlying causes of the addiction with a variety of counseling and skills training classes. Furthermore, patients learn more effective methods for coping and overcoming daily stressors that played a role in their drug use.
Recovering addicts are specifically advised to take advantage of an aftercare program after completing rehab. Overall, these programs provide continuing advice, support, and guidance as the person attempts to reintegrate into society as a sober person. Sober living homes are also an excellent resource for recovering addicts.
Learn More About the Difference Between Detox and Withdrawal Management
When a person fears detox and withdrawal, they often avoid seeking help for their addiction, and many lives have been lost. For this reason, if you know someone who is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, help them learn the facts and overcome their fear of treatment. Contact us today at our toll-free number to learn more about the difference between detox and withdrawal management. All in all, this knowledge could save a life.
asam.org – The ASAM Criteria
ncbi.nlm.nih.gov – Clinical Guidelines for Withdrawal Management and Treatment of Drug Dependence in Closed Settings
When we try to think of ways to contribute to reducing the opioid crisis, it’s hard to figure out where to begin. Where should we apply our efforts to achieve the best results? Can only one person do anything that will genuinely make a difference? Here’s the thing. If you can influence just one person to avoid drug use or to give up drugs, you’ve made a huge contribution. We can win the battle against drug abuse, one person at a time if necessary.
If you want to get involved in reducing the opioid crisis, we have a few suggestions that will help you get started.
Begin by Sharing the Knowledge About the Dangers of Drugs
More likely than not, you’ve heard someone say, “It’s safe; everyone’s using it.” Or, “One won’t hurt you.” Or, “It’s a prescription pill, so it’s not dangerous.” These misconceptions have led many people to become addicted to these dangerous substances and had their lives and health disrupted. There’s no such thing as innocent experimentation. Some drugs can be deadly, with only one dose.
You can help spread the word about the dangers of drugs in a variety of ways. Here are a few organizations that encourage public involvement in their campaigns:
Also, each month of the year, nationwide education and awareness organizations sponsor a variety of events such as:
These are only a small portion of the many organizations and events that need your support. Millions of people are involved daily in doing whatever they can to prevent drug abuse. Many lives have been saved, but there are still more that need saving.
How Bad is the Prevalence of Drug Abuse and Addiction?
More than 70,200 people died from drug overdoses last year. About 17,029 of those deaths involved prescription opioids.
It’s far too easy to obtain addictive substances today. Look in any bathroom medicine cabinet, and you’ll see a variety of pain pills, sleep aids, depression meds, and more. Even over-the-counter drugs are abused to get high, and every household has these drugs stashed somewhere.
In 2018, over 214 million opioid prescriptions were dispensed by retail pharmacies. Nine out of ten of these individuals reported not finishing all of their medications. That means there are millions of these unused pills sitting around waiting to get into the wrong hands. Many of these drugs end up at “skittles parties” or being handed out to friends at school.
If you find some of these unused prescriptions, check out this infographic to learn the best ways to dispose of them.
Other Ways to Contribute to Reducing the Opioid Crisis
One of the best ways to help reduce the opioid epidemic is to serve as an example to your friends. Let them know you won’t tolerate drugs in your presence. Encourage your friends to find ways to have fun without getting high.
Talk to your parents and relatives about the dangers of leaving unused medications in the home. Show them the above infographic on how to dispose of those drugs.
If you would like more information about reducing the opioid crisis, please contact us today. We’ll also be happy to talk to you about our treatment program if you know someone who needs help overcoming addiction.
Methadone maintenance treatment is not something new to the methods of treating opioid addiction. Methadone maintenance treatment has been used since the 1950s for opioid-dependent patients. This drug is an opiate, and it is addictive. However, addiction to methadone is not the same as addiction to illegal opioids like heroin.
What is Methadone and Methadone Maintenance Treatment?
Methadone is classified as a Schedule II drug. What a Schedule II classification means is that the drug has a legitimate legal use in the medical field. However, it also is a highly addictive drug. Methadone is a synthetic opioid which physicians use to treat moderate to severe pain. It is also used to treat opioid addictions, such as addictions to heroin.
For those with addictions to heroin, methadone can curtail the withdrawal symptoms when they stop using heroin. In addition, it can decrease the cravings for heroin. However, anyone using methadone maintenance treatment is at a high risk of abuse and dependency on this drug because they are already addicted to opiates.
How is Methadone Administered?
By law, methadone can only be dispensed through an opioid treatment program (OTP) certified by SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration). Patients taking methadone for opioid addictions must have physician supervision in a clinic or medical facility.
Methadone comes in liquid, pill, or wafer forms. Methadone maintenance treatment is not just a matter of showing up at the clinic and taking your daily dose of methadone. It also involves a treatment program of counseling and group support meetings. In other words, you have to be trying to help yourself as you slowly withdraw with methadone from heroin or other opioids.
Methadone as a Painkiller
In recent years, physicians have started prescribing methadone as a painkiller, just like OxyContin or Vicodin. Methadone is less expensive than these name-brand opioid painkillers. Therefore, insurance companies are more willing to pay for this drug over others.
Methadone is a long-acting drug. Because of this, it can build up in the body where even one extra dose of the medication can cause an overdose. When physicians prescribe methadone as a painkiller, they must supervise their patients carefully to avoid dangerous results. Methadone’s half-life makes it less effective as a painkiller.
What are the Side Effects of Methadone?
Whether a person is using methadone for pain relief or as methadone maintenance treatment, there are side effects to deal with.
Some of the common side effects include:
- Dry mouth
- Loss of appetite
- Nausea and vomiting
- Decreased sex drive
Some of the more severe side effects of methadone include:
- Chest pain
- Shallow breathing
- Rapid heartbeat
Furthermore, methadone may interact with other medications. In fact, these medications can be prescription medications, over-the-counter medications, even vitamin supplements. Anyone starting methadone maintenance treatment or starting methadone as a medication for chronic pain should tell their doctor any of these drugs that they are currently taking.
Methadone Abuse and Addiction
As Methadone becomes more available to drug abusers either by stealing it from friends or buying it illegally on the streets, there are more individuals forming addictions to this drug today. Furthermore, individuals are abusing methadone and using it recreationally more than ever before. It can be easy for a user to overdose on methadone, especially if mixing it with alcohol or other legal or illegal drugs. If a patient is taking methadone for chronic pain, they can develop a tolerance to the drug, just like any other opioid painkiller. Once this happens, abuse turns into an addiction.
Methadone Maintenance Treatment Can Transform into Addiction
When physicians put individuals on methadone as maintenance treatment for heroin or other opioid addiction, they can end up with an addiction to this drug. If this happens, don’t be ashamed to ask for help at a professional addiction treatment center. In fact, an inpatient addiction treatment program can be tailor-made for your needs as well as your preferences.
You can regain your health and become a productive member of society and your community with the help of inpatient addiction treatment. Contact one of our informed representatives today to discuss a treatment program that will fulfill all of your needs. They can answer any questions you may have about our facility (Awakenings Rehabilitation) and the treatment programs that we offer. Contact us today!
ncbi.nlm.nih.gov – Methadone Maintenance Treatment
samhsa.gov – Medication-Assisted Treatment
samhsa.gov – Medication and Counseling Treatment
In the United States today, more than 23 million people are struggling with substance use disorders. The sad thing is that only about 10 percent of these individuals receive the treatment they so desperately need. Is there a reason why so many people don’t enter addiction treatment programs? It’s possible that some of the commonly misunderstood facts about drug rehab are part of the problem. Let’s take a look at some of these misconceptions and provide the facts to debunk them.
Misinformation About Drug Rehab Can Generate Fear
It’s surprising in today’s world to find that so many individuals don’t know the truth about drug rehab. With an abundance of information at their fingertips, there is no reason for people to base their opinions about rehab on hearsay and false information. Their lack of knowledge about rehab has caused a significant number of people to fear rehab and avoid treatment for their addictions.
The best way for a person to overcome their fear of rehab is to learn the facts. Of course, rehab isn’t easy for anyone. However, going into it with the right expectations and attitude can make all the difference in a person’s successful recovery.
10 of the Most Commonly Misunderstood Facts About Drug Rehab
To help a person overcome their fear of rehab, we have chosen ten of the most commonly misunderstood facts about drug rehab to debunk. Hopefully, the right information will lead someone to take action and begin treatment right away.
1. Only hardcore addicts need rehab.
This misbelief has caused many people to avoid treatment until overdose or death occurs. It is never too early to enter a rehab program, regardless of the substance involved. In fact, the sooner a person begins treatment, the easier the process will be. Also, long-lasting damages to the person’s health are diminished if they enter rehab early in the addiction.
2. Only mentally ill addicts need rehab.
Most people don’t realize that many addicts suffer from mental and emotional issues along with their addiction. It is impossible to recover from addiction without also treating these mental problems. In a drug rehab facility, detox addresses the physical aspects of addiction. A combination of counseling, education, and skills training helps addicts understand what caused their addiction and how to avoid the triggers that can cause a relapse.
3. Rehabs force religion on you.
A person seeking addiction treatment today has many options when it comes to the type of program they need. While many of the programs are faith-based, there are non-religious programs available.
4. Rehab doesn’t work.
When a person goes through rehab and then relapse shortly after, it’s easy to assume that the program didn’t work. But, relapse is often the result of leaving the program too soon, choosing the wrong treatment plan, failure to take advantage of an aftercare program after rehab.
5. Being in rehab is like being in prison.
Although a rehab program has strict rules, the environment is far from oppressive. Patients can leave anytime they want, however, they jeopardize their ability to stay sober. Most rehabs offer daily activities that help patients relax and have a little fun while working on recovery.
6. Detox is all I need.
This is one of the most common misconceptions about drug rehab. Detox is only the first step in recovery, not the cure-all. When a person goes through the detox process, they are addressing the physical part of their dependence on a substance. The next step after detox is to learn how to effectively cope with life’s challenges without resorting to drugs or alcohol. A rehab program offers a comprehensive assortment of options to help recovering addicts learn how to avoid the behaviors and environment that contributed to their addiction.
7. I’ll lose my job if I go to rehab.
The fact is, you can go to rehab and still keep your job. The Americans with Disabilities Act protects persons who work in government jobs or private companies that have 15 or more employees. Also, if a company gets federal funding, the Rehabilitation Act protects individuals who need to enter rehab.
8. All rehabs are the same.
Not true. There are hundreds of programs that offer a variety of amenities and approaches to treatment. Today’s treatment providers realize that each addict has their own unique needs. Their programs provide a personalized approach to treatment.
9. Rehab gets you hooked on other drugs.
Depending on the drug involved, your addiction can be treated without using other addictive substances. You have the option of choosing a different approach to treatment that doesn’t involve drugs. Keep in mind that with some substances such as heroin, the withdrawals can be intense or dangerous, and medicated detox is often the best option.
10. Relapse means rehab failed and I failed.
As discussed above, relapse is not an indication that anyone failed. It simply means you need to reenter treatment or make some changes in the environment you must occupy. It’s also important that you join an aftercare program following rehab to benefit from the continued support and guidance they offer.
Learn the Truth About Drug Rehab at Awakenings
If you would like more information about the most misunderstood facts about drug rehab, contact us today. We will be happy to tell you about our program and we can help you succeed in beating drug addiction for good.
drugabuse.gov – Treatment Approaches for Drug Addiction
ada.gov – Information and Technical Assistance on the Americans with Disabilities Act