Can Tamper-Proof Versions of Heavy Painkillers Push Addicts to Harsher Opioids?

Last modified: July 22, 2013 10:10:31 PM

A very disturbing trend which has been noted in an article from the world-renowned Time magazine is that while the new, abuse-proof versions of prescription painkillers such as Oxycontin and Opana can prevent new users from becoming addicts, long-time abusers who started taking the drugs before the new version came out are increasingly turning to harsher street drugs such as heroin in order to feed their addiction.

Originally hailed as a breakthrough, many thought abuse-proof versions of the painkillers would halt the prescription-pill addiction epidemic that is plaguing the U.S.  While it has been successful in preventing new addictions, those who were previously addicted have not all of a sudden become sober and clean because their supply got cut off; they are simply turning to heroin.  Heroin is easier to get, less expensive, and is easy to administer.  While the number of prescription pill abusers is going down, the number of heroin users is going up.  The problem of addiction has not been solved; addicts have simply changed the drug.

Drug detox centres and those in the recovery business say that there seems to be a dirty secret in the medical profession, which is that doctors prefer to treat prescription drug addicts rather than those who take illegal drugs because in a medicinal sense, it is easier – and safer.  Prescription drugs come in known quantities with known ingredients and the proper medical steps can be taken; heroin can be mixed with a multitude of toxic substances making it difficult to start the detox process.  An investigation into the specific supply of heroin must take place before a thorough medical procedure can begin.  Doctors are therefore more willing to provide medical treatment to those who abuse prescription drugs.

However, a huge point that the Time article demonstrates is that while many are investigating ways to prevent addiction to painkillers, nobody is investigating why people are looking for ways to get high.  Perhaps if more attention was spent investigating the root cause of why people are looking for ways to escape reality, addiction to any drug could very well be avoided.  The drug itself is not the problem; the problem is the need for the drug.

The most effective treatment for those who addicted to painkillers is not simply cutting them off.  Opioid abusers need to get into the medical system, get medical treatment for the addiction and get counselling services and psychiatric help to discover why they search for a high in the first place.  It is only with a multi-thronged approach that we can unlock the mysteries of addiction and find some sort of solution.  This is the only way that we can prevent a prescription-pill abuser from turning to the frightening dangers of heroin.

Methadone: New CRC Report Dispels Some Myths about Addiction Treatment

Last modified: July 29, 2013 07:20:46 AM

For those who help rehabilitate heroin addicts or are the friends and relatives of an opiate addict who has decided to attempt treatment or is currently in a treatment program, there has been some encouraging news from the medical community dispelling some myths about the use of methadone as a therapeutic tool.

According to doctors and experts at a methadone treatment center in the U.S., the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the U.S. have been noting and recording a decrease in the number of methadone overdose deaths.  Their report also dispels the myths and negativity that come part and parcel with the use of methadone as a treatment for heroin (or any other opiate) addiction.

Research, which has been done continuously on the subject for over 60 years, shows that the use of methadone can be effective in treating opiate addiction.  New medications such as suboxone are also looking like they may be effective tools in addiction treatment.  The CDC report emphasizes that almost all the deaths caused by methadone overdose were due to its use by chronic pain sufferers as a painkiller, not due to its use to treat those addicted to heroin.  Methadone use in an addiction clinic is strictly regulated in most areas, and almost impossible for an addict to abuse as access is also severely restricted, administered only by highly qualified doctors and nurses.

The report does show some evidence that methadone treatment can work  and former heroin addicts who take methadone will not go back to the illegal street drugs.  The report offers shows that addicts can go back to a fulfilling lifestyle with employment, reuniting with friends and family, and much improved physical and mental health.

The CDC report also gives evidence that methadone treatment is not simply substituting one drug for another.  Methadone is a prescription medication administered by doctors for therapeutic uses and the improvement of health.  One can become physically dependent on methadone after a period of prolonged use; it does not provide the “highs” characteristic of opiates.  It also does not cause addiction, nor does it cause the characteristic behaviors associated with opiate addiction.

Mark Jorrisch, M.D. and Cary Kaplin, MRC, LCAC from the Methadone and Opiate Rehabilitation and Education Center of Kentucky further state in a letter to the Louisville Courier-Journal that while they do not want to give the impression that methadone use in inexperienced hands is safe, methadone can work as one of the many tools to manage addiction and has been helping heroin addicts recover in treatment centers for over sixty years.  The CDC’s report should dispel some of the public misconceptions surrounding the use of methadone in the battle against opiate addiction.

Drug and Alcohol Addiction: The Enabler

Last modified: July 29, 2013 07:23:39 AM

Drug addiction and alcohol addiction not only hurt those addicted, they hurt the addicts’ families and friends in ways that can be completely devastating emotionally, mentally, and financially.  The people who get hurt the most are often those who are closest to and love the addict unconditionally, and end up enabling the addict’s substance abuse rather than risk their anger or displeasure.

An enabler is someone who is in denial about the addict’s problem and unreasonably hopes that the problem will somehow just go away.  An addict makes an enormous amount of demands on their enabler and feels entitled to expect the enabler to drop everything to “help them out” one last time; however the demands and neediness are limitless and endless.  The enabler will always give way in order not to anger their loved one who is an addict or lose their love.  The manipulation is constant and grows with the addiction; the enabler, by constantly agreeing or doing what the addict wants, only sweeps the problem under the rug; the increasing denial goes hand-in-hand with the increasing substance abuse of the addict.  An enabler often has just as many emotional and mental problems as the addict, and the addict cannot recover if an enabler refuses to deal with his or her own issues with co-dependency.

Enablers lie, provide alibis, complete tasks, make excuses and will cover up for an addict so that the addict needn’t take responsibility and suffer the consequences of his or her actions.  Enablers rationalize the substance abuse, coming up with reasons why the drug or alcohol abuse is understandable or even acceptable.  “But no one has given him a chance in life” or “well, he’s had hard times,” or “she’s just ended a long relationship and needs a crutch to get through the day” are common refrains heard from enablers who refuse to see the seriousness of the abuse.  Enablers will also give addicts untold sums of money to feed the addiction so that the enabler doesn’t suffer the addict’s ire.  Enablers will go so far as to get loans for the addict and can get into crippling amounts of debt rather than lose the addict’s love.

Enablers withdraw from the addict emotionally or even physically, avoiding contact, hoping that this may encourage the addict to stop his or her destructive behaviour.  Enablers will also blame and get upset with the addict for the failure to stop the substance abuse.  An enabler will try to control and be responsible for the addict, who they themselves have made irresponsible by making excuses , etc., for them, by attempting to cut the supply, limiting it, or throwing it out.

Enablers also threaten that the addict will suffer the consequences of his or her actions, but never follow through and continue the enabling behaviour, further feeding the addict’s problems.

The enabler is addicted to rescuing the addict; both will deny that there is a problem and both parties will sink deeper and deeper into their destructive habits.  The only way that a person can recover from alcohol or drug addiction is for both parties to get the help they desperately need to deal with their emotional and mental issues.

Doctor Loses License to Prescribe, Retains License to Practice

Last modified: July 24, 2013 01:08:05 AM

How much pain is too much pain? When is it illegal for a physician to give patients prescription to pain relieving medication with high potential for abuse and addiction? These questions were raised in the wake of the raid on a Los Angeles physician’s clinics.

The outcome?

Dr. Andrew Sun may have lost his license to prescribe controlled substances, but no legal charges can be filed against him. The Drug Enforcement Administration released this information in a statement after it raided the office of the Los Angeles County doctor.

Doctor, Doctor, I Am Sick

Dr. Sun, 76, of La Mirada surrendered his license after a search of his clinics in East Los Angeles and home in San Gabriel. The search is a joint effort of the DEA, the California Medical Board, the state’s Department of Healthcare Services, and the Internal Revenue Service. Continue Reading

FDA to Crack Down on Unregulated Oxycodone

Last modified: July 31, 2013 11:03:37 PM

Don’t be so quick to make a beeline for your painkillers—they may not be FDA-approved.

In a statement released July 5, the Food and Drug Administration reveals its plan for a severe crackdown on the companies that have been marketing versions of oxycodone for years, without FDA clearance. Continue Reading