heroin

Phillip Seymour Hoffman was a Son, Partner, and a Dad for 3 Children

Superbowl Sunday started with some negative news here on the east coast. Academy award winner Hoffman had died due to a suspected overdose. Hoffman was in detox last year after a heroin relapse following 23 years of sobriety. He was found on Sunday with a needle in his arm.  The harsh reality of heroin always seems to come to the forefront when a celebrity overdoses.

The truth though is that Hoffman was a dad of 3 young children. He lived with his long time girlfriend and mother of his children since 1998. That's the pain.  That's the part of this that hits home for all of us. Take the celebrity out of it, and there are 3 children who won't have a dad anymore. There is a single mom asking why, why, why.

Details are unclear as to Mr. Hoffmans detox last year, but stories claim  he went to detox and returned to work. At Sunrise Detox we advocate strongly for clinical care after detox to deal with the emotional struggles usually associated with heroin addiction. There is no quick fix for opiate use.

While the world will miss a great actor I am thinking of another family destroyed by heroin!

Addiction Doesn’t Have to End in Death

New Jersey is suffering from a wave of heroin and prescription pain killer abuse, but it is not a new thing like a plague or infectious agent. The abuse is a continuation of known behavior we've seen increase over many years — people experimenting and abusing drugs and alcohol.  The difference, and the reason our kids are dying now, is in the drugs. The drugs, the combinations of drugs, and the combination of drugs and alcohol is deadlier than ever before.

At Sunrise Detox we treat those who have an acknowledged physical and/or psychological dependency on substances like heroin, opiates (Percocet, Oxycontin), and mood altering prescription drugs like Xanax. We help them break free of the addiction that is running their lives, hopefully before it destroys everything. But many of the overdose deaths are from sudden, deadly over-dosing of drugs that were of unknown purity, or were also mixed with alcohol in deadly combinations.

At some point this year,  drug overdose counts in New Jersey climbed to alarming levels. Those involved with drug abuse and overdoses noted that nearly 60% of the deaths were of kids aged 20-26.  It is true that some of these  could have been prevented if the kids were admitted into treatment (drug detox for 10 days, followed by residential rehab or other treatment). But it is also likely that many would have died even if treatment had been arranged, because the overdose was a sudden, unexpected event. They didn't know that last hit would kill them.

Here are some of the key reasons why over 115 New Jerseyans (most in their twenties) have died this year:

Prescription Drugs are considered Safer than Heroin

As young adults experimented with drugs, they watched doctors prescribe numerous high-potency medications for various purposes (post-surgical pain management, sports injury pain management, toothache pain, etc) and came to understand that these pain drugs were pure, controlled, and recommended by doctors. So when it came time to “take some drugs” to get high, those prescription pills were a safer bet than street drugs of unknown composition or purity.

Many who would say they would never engage in street drug activity or “shoot heroin” were willingly ingesting, snorting, or smoking crushed up prescription pills which were, in fact, almost chemically identical to heroin.

Prescription Opiates and Opioids were Readily Available for Years

Opiate and opioid prescription pain killers are highly addicting, yet were readily available for many years in New Jersey. When a physical addiction sets in, the addict must work hard to secure enough supply to stave off the sickness of withdrawal. That is why heroin addicts often turn to petty crimes so quickly… they need more and more drug to stave off withdrawal sickness, and become desperate for money to pay for the drugs.

In effect, the ready supply of powerful prescription drugs in New jersey enabled addictions to advance without some of the real-world pressures associated with drug seeking. Until…

Prescription Opiates and Opioids (Painkillers) suddenly became Scarce

As awareness of the prescription drug addiction problems grew, the controlled channels for addictive prescription pain killers shut down. The New Jersey Prescription Drug Monitoring Program shut down a lot of doctor shopping, which was a primary way to get more than an appropriate amount of a drug by prescription. Various enforcement efforts stepped up, including increased drug take-back and medicine cabinet clean out or lock up awareness campaigns. These efforts removed more drugs from easy reach.  Additionally, enforcement actions taken against “over prescribers” and loosely-managed pharmacies meant the steady supply of pure, high-potency drugs was shutting off.

An unintended consequence of these positive efforts to contain the pill problem was that many unacknowledged pill addictions were left without a supply of pharmaceutical grade drugs of known, controlled dose. Then…

Enter the Heroin Dealer : Supply and Demand

Did you know that many prescription pain killers are just about chemically equivalent to heroin, the most addictive street drug? Faced with an active addiction to pills and a suddenly curtailed supply chain, what would an addicted young adult in New Jersey do?After just a day or two without drugs, the withdrawal sickness can get quite severe.

The drug dealers provided an answer: heroin. Cheaper than ever, and often stronger than ever, heroin became the only acceptable substitute for an addict in desperate need of pills to prevent sickness from withdrawal.

This is where heron detox is the right move — get into a drug detox center as withdrawal sickness threatens. When the pill supply runs out, and the money runs out, the addict faces real challenges. The only options available are much more dangerous than the drug abuse has been up to that point.

Engaging in high-risk, illegal activities to raise money might seem preferable to withdrawal sickness. Taking on debt to the potentially violent drug dealer might start to seem like a good idea. Or starting to sell drugs for profit, to cover the need, despite the risks of arrest and prison. When the addiction is pushing the addict towards the most dangerous drugs on the street, and the highest risk behaviors, the right move is to get into drug detox center under medical care.

At Sunrise Detox our medical assessment quickly sets the stage for managing the addiction. Medications are used to prevent withdrawal sickness from interfering with efforts to get clean of the influence of the drugs. Our focus in on comfort and care, with sincere determination to break thru the physical dependency, while securing whatever medical and perhaps psychological treatment is needed.

The Street Drugs are often Deadly

Detox is also the right move before the addict takes the much bigger risk of ingesting or otherwise using the street version of the drugs. What's been mixed in with the drug? In what concentration?

The dealer can't be trusted. Street drugs are often mixed with various fillers to increase profits, but sometimes are kept extremely pure to encourage further dependency. How do you know what you are getting?

A hit of heroin of unknown purity and composition can be deadly for one person, while tolerable for another. Our kids may have been feeding an active addiction to moderate doses of opioids, and then left to chance their lives with what was supposed to be an equivalent dose, but turns out to be a deadly overdose.

Drugs and Alcohol Don't Mix Well

One of the more common contributors to overdose death on New Jersey is alcohol. Again, a user may have become accustomed to a specific dose of prescription drugs, and survived taking them with alcohol, but then die from a deadly mixture of the same alcohol with street heroin of unexpectedly purity or composition.

We Need Education, Prevention, Awareness, Intervention, and Treatment

All of this is needed to fix the problems we're experiencing in New Jersey right now. We need to recognize addiction for what it is – a physical and psychological dependency on substances which change our bodies and minds, so we are not in control of our actions and futures. We need to intervene as soon as we have an opportunity. Get the individual into medical detox or addiction treatment, in any way possible, to begin the process of regaining control over the addiction. And then, through determination, commitment, and unconditional love and acceptance, help move them towards successful recovery. It won't be easy, but it can be done.

Every addiction drives the victim hard towards and end, but addiction doesn't have to end in death. Intervene as soon as you have a chance, and please ask for help. If Sunrise Detox can help, call us at  888-443-3869.

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Prescription Drug Abuse: Society’s Newest Epidemic” Ira Levy On the Air Friday June 21 12:00 Noon

Ira Levy will be helping to educate and inform as he participates in a discussion of the prescription drug abuse epidemic

Ira Levy of Sunrise Detox in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida will join Dr. Lisa Stewart of VoiceAmerica for a radio show about the prescription drug abuse epidemic in America.

Ira Levy will be a guest on a special episode of Voice America's Health and Wellness program this Friday, June 21, at noon. Ira will provide insights into what is being called the “new epidemic” of prescription drug abuse and addiction.

Over the past several years prescription drug abuse (especially misuse of opioid pain killer medicines) has surged beyond anyone's expectations. Addiction to these drugs is one of the leading causes of preventable death in America.

Sunrise Detox treats thousands of patients every year for substance abuse, and prescription drugs compete with alcohol for the top substance abuse issue month after month. While government administrators and drug enforcement agents often spout statistics about crime and bad people doing drugs, Ira will show how regular everyday good people are suffering the consequences of addiction. Addictive substances now follow everyday events like minor injuries, doctor's orders, and everyday life challenges.

Drug addiction is no longer a problem for only “drug addicts”. Powerful opioid pain killers show up in almost everyone's medicine cabinet these days.

  • “Prescription Drug Abuse – Society’s Newest Epidemic” featuring Ira Levy of Sunrise Detox
  • Hosted by Dr. Lisa Stewart
  • June 21, 2013 at 12 noon Eastern time or via Podcast published after the show

From the studio:

Most people have had pain medication prescribed to them by a physician at some point in their lives. The recovery from knee and back surgery, for example, can be long and painful. What are the dangers of taking these prescribed pain medications? How can we avoid the damage caused by addiction to these medications that are supposed to be helping us? What can both doctors and patients do to become more aware of the dangers? Join Dr. Lisa Stewart as she talks with Ira Levy, an addictions specialist, about this national epidemic. Learn important information about the addiction cycle as it pertains to pain medication, and preventative measures that can be taken on an individual level to avoid the nightmare of physical and psychological addiction. Treatment options and specific strategies for this population of addicts will also be discussed.

 

Injection Drug Users Need Targeted Help — Study

A study published in the July Journal of Addictive Diseases indicates what those of us in the treatment field have long known: that injection drug users, regardless of what kind of drugs they use, are at the greatest risk for associated medical problems, psychological problems and death, and most in need of effective intervention and treatment.  This is true despite the fact that injection users represent a relatively small percentage of alcohol and drug addicts as a whole.

Image - DEA

Because of the circumstances surrounding injection, which include overdose, infection, transmission of blood-borne diseases by dirty “works,” accompanying higher rates of abuse and addiction (as opposed to occasional use), and diverse psychological problems, the authors of the study believe that their findings can help spur targeting of these individuals.

The researchers analyzed data from the National Survey on Drug Abuse and Health, which is conducted annually on roughly 70,000 children and adults in order to gain a statistically accurate overview of the current state of drug use and abuse in the United States.  The study showed that injection drug users were likely to be older than other abusers and addicts, more likely to live in rural areas, be unemployed, and not have achieved graduation from high school or its equivalent in education.  Unemployment was one of the major issues defining the group.

Lead author Scott Novak, senior behavioral health epidemiologist at RTI International, stated “Our findings indicate that injection drug use is associated with substantially more substance abuse-related problems than non-injection drug use, including a higher prevalence of dependence, unemployment, and co-occurring mental and physical disorders.  “These problems appear to characterize a treatment-resistant population in need of specialized treatments.”

RTI International provides research and technical services to governments and businesses in the areas of health and pharmaceuticals, education and training, surveys and statistics, advanced technology, international development, economic and social policy, energy and the environment, and laboratory testing and chemical analysis.