Heroin Overdose Doesn’t Stop Some Addicts

Listen to the news and you’ll hear news reporters, commentators, and even politicians talking about opiate drug use and overdose. In fact, it’s become such a hot topic that heroin and prescription drugs are going to be in the upcoming presidential debate. The issue of prescription drug use has become so severe for the United States that there are people who actually overdose on opiates. By miracle, their lives are saved. But instead of using that near death as a sign to go into treatment, they end up finding another way to get high. It seems once you’re hooked there are no limits to the damage prescription drugs and heroin can do. This points to the severe stronghold that heroin and other opiates can have on a person once they start using.

Opiate addiction is sometimes also called opioid use disorder. It is considered to be an illness, an addiction to heroin and other substances that contain opioids, such as prescription drugs. Types of prescription medication that men, women, and teens can get hooked on include morphine, codeine, oxycodone, and hydrocodone. As with other addictions, one of the primary symptoms of opiate addiction is that there is compulsive use of the drug despite the severe consequences that can come with continued use. Often, with this type of addiction there is both a physical dependency as well as a psychological dependency.

The amount of people hooked on heroin and other opiates have increased dramatically in the last 15 years. In 2013, opiate addiction resulted in 51,000 deaths whereas in 1990 there were 18,000 people who died from their opiate use. Furthermore, the number of hospital stays related to opiate use has gone up 5% annually from 1993-2012. And the number of those admitted to emergency rooms due to an issue related to opiate use went up from 43% in 1993 to 64% in 2005. Since then, this number has stayed relatively the same.

More recently, research has shown that those who tend to have an addiction to heroin or prescription drugs also have one or more psychological illnesses. It’s very common for this type of addiction to develop because of self-medication. In other words, a person might be searching for a way to escape emotional turmoil and turn to this substance for relief. Furthermore, this type of substance does extremely well in relieving one of pain. For this reason, there might be more of a hook for someone to turn to it to presumably cope with their lives. Therefore, when this medication is prescribed to relieve one’s physical pain, there is an immediate attraction. However, those addicted to the substance tend to develop an addiction not so much because of the physical pain relief but because of the euphoria that opiates can induce in someone. In fact, as mentioned above, this experience of euphoria might be so rewarding for someone that even if they lose their lives briefly because of the drug, they are willing to return again and again for the high.

As this article points out, opiate use and abuse is incredibly dangerous. If you or someone you know is regularly using heroin or misusing their prescription pain medication, contact a mental health provider. Doing so may save a life!


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Methadone as a Treatment for Heroin Addiction

Methadone as a Treatment for Heroin Addiction | Transcend Recovery Community

Methadone has been the standard form of sober living treatment for opioid addiction for over 30 years. It is legally only available from federally-regulated clinics for regular use in order to slowly wean an individual off the opiate addiction.

The treatment for those who are addicted to heroin or painkillers typically undergo clinical, supervised detoxification in order to manage the withdrawal symptoms. Research has shown that the best combination of treatment include methadone, which is itself an opioid, to manage the withdrawal symptoms, as well as therapy to address the behavioral and psychological issues that contributed to the addiction in the first place.

Some of the side effects of taking methadone include:

  • Addiction
  • Allergic reaction
  • Confusion
  • Constipation
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Difficulty passing urine
  • Dizzy spells
  • Drowsiness
  • Irregular heart rate
  • Itching
  • Limb swelling
  • Loss of interest in sex
  • Mood changes and agitation
  • Reduced heart rate (bradycardia) or fast heart rate (tachycardia)
  • Sudden death is a risk particularly for first time users
  • Tolerance
  • Weight gain

Despite the side effects, the use of methadone has had many successes in facilitating sober living for recovery addicts of opiates. For instance, Bechara Choucair, MD, Commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health commented that “methadone maintenance treatment is an effective treatment for heroin and prescription narcotic addiction — slashing injection rates, lethal overdose, and crime rates, as well as reducing HIV transmission, time spent unemployed, and time spent incarcerated.”

When taken properly, medication-assisted treatment with methadone suppresses opioid withdrawal. It also blocks the effects of other problem opioids and reduces cravings. However, there is criticism against the use of methadone as a treatment drug because regular use of methadone essentially creates another addiction. Although someone might be taking the drug according to instruction, he or she can grow tolerant to the drug, which essentially indicates that an addiction has developed. Replacing one addiction for another, some argue, should not be a form of treatment.

For this reason, some experts suggest the use of Suboxone, a drug that treats opiate addiction by blocking the opiate receptors in the brain. With the use of Suboxone, an addict can try to use heroin or painkillers, but he or she won’t feel a high, and for that reason there won’t ever there won’t be any incentive to use, and there won’t ever be a relapse – at least not to opiates.

Despite the dangers and the side of effects of the drug, methadone is widely used in the medical and addiction treatment fields. In addition to facilitating the end of heroin/opioid addiction, methadone frequently used to relieve severe pain. It’s often prescribed after other drugs have failed to manage pain, particularly because methadone is less expensive than other opiates and its effects last longer. For many reasons, methadone is a cost-effective pain management treatment.

However, for the reasons already explained, this drug can also be dangerous. Nonetheless, it is widely used. Some of the nicknames for methadone include:

  • Amidone
  • Chocolate Chip Cookies
  • Dolophine (brand name)
  • Fizzies
  • Heptadon
  • Methadose (brand name)
  • Phy
  • Symoron

Interestingly, there are sober living homes that won’t admit addicts who are currently on Suboxone and methadone as a means for treatment. They are concerned it will lead to dirty urine samples in their guests. However, experts say that there are ways to get around this by using drug tests that require more than just peeing in a cup. They tend to be more expensive, and for that reason, some addiction treatment centers may not choose to use these testing methods.

Furthermore, national operating standards for sober living homes prevent the admittance of recovering addicts who require a daily dose of methadone or Suboxone. For example, these medications would need to be kept in a lockbox because if found by other residents, they can pose great danger and perhaps lead to legal trouble for the sober living facility. However, there are sober living facilities that will accept recovering addicts who require the use of medication assistance treatment in order to heal their addiction to heroin or opiates. At times they can be hard to find, but they’re out there.

Methadone can be a safe way to wean off a heroin addiction. However, there are precautions to take. Consult with a mental health professional or your doctor for more information.


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More Opiate Addicts Recover with Sober Living Housing

More Opiate Addicts Recover with Sober Living Housing | Transcend Recovery Community

There have been a few recent studies that confirm the incredible value that sober living homes have in a person’s ability to stay sober.

One study done in 2012 found that this is particularly true for opiate addicts, those who are addicted to either heroin or prescription pain relievers. The study found that the inclusion of sober living homes and day treatment programs in a person’s treatment plan greatly improves the chances he or she will recover from opiates. Typically, those who have completed detoxification struggle when they enter the early stages of their sobriety. For those who use detox as their only means of treatment tend to have extremely high relapse rates. Relapse rates within a month of undergoing detox are between 65 percent and 80 percent, according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Yet, the study found that opiate addicts who were provided with drug-free recovery housing and day treatment programs right after detox were up to 10 times more likely to remain drug-free.

To arrive at these conclusions, researchers examined the experiences of 243 opioid addicts, primarily those with heroin addictions, after their release from detox. Of those in the study who had no follow-up housing or treatment, only 32 people were able to stay drug-free compared to 90 men and women who were able to stay drug-free with housing, and 121 men and women who remained drug-free who received both housing and day treatment. It makes sense that those with supportive living environments after detoxification would have more of a chance to stay sober. Environment, support networks, and mental health professionals around you can greatly improve the probabilities of staying sober.

Another study done 2011 found that sober living homes are an effective means for achieving sobriety when certain factors are in place. The study found that for 300 individuals a sober living home was an effective option for those in need of alcohol-free and drug-free housing. When individuals were involved in 12-step programs, had a strong network of support and were living in a drug-free environment, they tended to reach sobriety with few or no relapses. The study reaffirmed the importance of social and environmental factors in recovery.

In the lives of participants of the study, improvements were seen in the areas of alcohol and drug use, arrests, psychiatric symptoms and employment. It was clear from the study that there are certain factors that predict better recovery outcomes, such as high involvement in 12-step meetings, little alcohol and drug use among peers, and a low severity level for any presenting mental illnesses. The study also found that for those who were referred to sober living homes from the criminal justice system, they experienced similar outcomes when these same factors were present. However, they had a harder time finding and keeping work and had higher re-arrest rates. Of course, sober living homes are effective for almost any kind of addiction.

These research studies reveal the advantages of staying in a sober living home, extending treatment beyond simply detox. Here are some of the clear benefits of residing in a home for sober living:

  • Sober living homes are affordable, alcohol and drug-free environments that provide a positive place for peer group recovery.
  • Sober living homes facilitate individual recovery by providing an environment that allows their participants to become self-supporting.
  • Quality assurance in homes is maintained through a membership in a sober living coalition or network. Sober living homes must abide by a particular code of ethics. For instance, the Los Angeles County Sober Living Coalition has established regulations on how sober living homes run their businesses in Los Angeles.
  • Sober living homes are typically single-family homes in quiet, residential neighborhoods.
  • Sober living homes typically have regulations that ensure the safety and sobriety of its guests, of which the single most important rule is zero tolerance for drugs or alcohol.

Certainly, addiction is a challenging cycle to break. However, once treatment is done, the benefits of continuing to live in a supportive environment could be the one factor that makes or breaks long-term sobriety.


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Halfway House Help to Ease America’s Heroin Epidemic

America's Heroin Epidemic on the Rise | Transcend Recovery Community

There is a heroin epidemic underway in America. In the Northeast, in the Midwest, and on the Pacific Coast, heroin addicts are struggling with addiction and attempting to find a sober life.

In the New England area, for example, needles are becoming just as popular as the lighthouses across the Northeast coast. In a small town in Vermont, addicts meet in a local Walmart parking lot to buy a “ticket,” the slang term used for a baggie of heroin worth $20. Sadly, in Vermont, heroin overdoses have doubled in the year 2013. In the same way, newspapers of New York’s Staten Island are filling with obituaries of early deaths – those dying of heroin overdoses and who lost their lives to the drug because of its highly addictive quality.

According to the New York Times, in 2012 alone, 36 people died from heroin overdoses on Staten Island, which is higher than New York’s other four boroughs and the highest number in a decade. The statistics continue to be staggering: from January through April 13, 2014, approximately 1,700 glassine bags of heroin were seized which is 500 more than what was collected in these same four months in 2013. Overall, the amount of heroin seized has jumped to over 300% between 2011 and 2013.

Heroin is a highly addictive drug that creates a fast spiral downward. Mental, emotional, psychological and even physical abilities are impaired. It is a narcotic that can leave a user with red or raw nostrils and needle marks or scars on their arms. Obviously, the drug can lead to overdosing and the loss of life.

Yet, for those who are lucky enough to enter treatment, the rest of their lives may be theirs to keep. Perhaps they will find their way to sober living long term. Perhaps they will turn their lives around. The only way to do this is to make the decision to acquire sober help and get clean. The only way to save their life is to commit to their sobriety.

This begins with medical and psychological treatment of the addiction, including working with a physical doctor to address the physiological effects of withdrawal, a psychologist to address the underlying emotional needs, and lastly with a drug counselor to learn the fundamentals of addiction and how to stay sober. An important part to rehabilitative treatment is addressing an addict’s ambivalence to change. An essential part of treatment is eliciting one’s intrinsic desire to change. Anyone using heroin is going to have strong ambivalence about ending an addiction, especially if they enjoyed their drug use. If using heroin brought relief from emotional pain, a dramatic increase in energy, and a euphoric feeling for life, reasons to continue to use might still be there, despite the growing severity in consequences.

Also, if underlying emotional issues, medical concerns, or any mental illnesses still exist, then the desire to use drugs will almost undoubtedly continue. An addict might say that he or she wants to change, but depression, anxiety, and other fundamental reasons might promote continued use. Thus, there often lies an enormous amount of ambivalence.

The examination and resolution of this ambivalence needs to be the focus of treatment. It’s important to know that ambivalence doesn’t end when treatment ends. In fact, it might increase. Once an individual leaves 24-hour care and they feel the freedom of their discharge, a part of them might yearn for using again. A part of them may want to return to old friends, old ways, and the euphoria of a heroin high.

For this reason, a halfway house is a pivotal place for recovery addicts to get the sober help they need and to continue to face their ambivalence head on. A half way house is a place to for a recovering addict to start reintegrating into society with sobriety in their hearts. In fact, a halfway house is where anyone wishing to find freedom from the heroin epidemic can safely return to his or her life. It’s where a recovering addict can ease their way back home by integrating society with sobriety.


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America’s Heroin Epidemic on the Rise

America's Heroin Epidemic on the Rise | Transcend Recovery Community

Living sober in America today can be hard to do. Sobriety isn’t just staying away from alcohol; it’s keeping your distance from any drugs that stimulate the addiction cycle in your brain. And you could argue that sober living includes cleansing yourself of the thought patterns that lead to drinking or drug use in the first place. One of the reasons why it’s hard to stay sober today is because of the news about drug use everywhere. Particularly in recent months, news articles and television programs are highlighting heroin, which is becoming one of the most abused drugs in America. Continue reading “America’s Heroin Epidemic on the Rise”