Where Did Fentanyl Addiction And Abuse Come From?

Fentanyl Addiction & Abuse \ Transcend Recovery Community

Fentanyl addiction is from a drug among the most bewilderingly powerful opioids in the world. Up to 100 times more potent than morphine, the lethal dosage of fentanyl is about 2 milligrams. Because of its potency, illegal fentanyl is the cause for an alarming number of overdoses, especially in the growing opioid epidemic that has seized the nation.

It’s a drug so powerful that law enforcement crime labs must carry shots of naloxene, to save the lives of their own crew if one of them come into accidental contact (such as inhaling a cloud of the stuff kicked up in a bust) with a dose of fentanyl or its more potent cousin, carfentanil.

To understand what fentanyl is, why it exists, and why Fentanyl addiction is becoming a growing problem, we’ll start by tackling the drug itself.


Exploring Fentanyl Addiction And Traits

Unlike opium, heroin, and other poppy-derived analgesics, fentanyl is a synthetic opiate. First discovered by Paul Janssen some four decades ago, fentanyl and its deadlier cousin carfentanil have gained much deserved notoriety recently for being chiefly responsible for the deaths and overdoses of hundreds of opiate addicts throughout the United States. Often imported through China, which until recently was not regulating fentanyl, it makes its way into the hands of heroin producers who lace their product with the drugs to increase potency at a low cost.

Fentanyl, due to its purely synthetic production, is hard to regulate. Not only can it be illegally manufactured and sold through China, but someone with rudimentary equipment could turn it into an equally or more potent version of Fentanyl addiction not yet passed through regulation.

From a business perspective, selling fentanyl is incredibly risky. Reports have come out that pills disguised as Xanax or Oxycodone have been laced with, or replaced with pure fentanyl on the streets. Combine that with the fact that many heroin users might inadvertently overdose off a new product they haven’t tested before, and it quickly becomes a way to thin out your supply of customers. Since the introduction of fentanyl to America’s black market, opioid overdoses have risen dramatically.

That isn’t to say that the US hasn’t been using fentanyl medically. Fentanyl is typically used as a pain medication after surgery, and in the late stages of terminal cancer. It’s given either laced on blotter paper (the same stuff used to distribute LSD), or in the form of a medical lozenge (a fentanyl lollipop). Due to its potency and risk of Fentanyl addiction, other applications may be too dangerous.


The Dangers Of Fentanyl In Heroin

The way fentanyl and other opiates kill is quite simple. Due to its potency, fentanyl and its cousin aren’t just mere opiates anymore – their potency borders on nerve gas. In fact, it’s been stated of carfentanil several times that its potency is high enough to justify seeing it as a chemical weapon. These are drugs powerful enough to kill people with a few specks of dust.

The drugs bind with the opiate receptors in the brain, inducing an extremely powerful high at the cost of respiratory function. Numbing the body, the drug induces respiratory failure by making it hard, if not impossible to breathe. Your body stops respiration.

The reason it’s so dangerous isn’t just the fact that it is so potent. It’s the fact that it’s impossible to spot. Today’s crisis in America draws its origins from the days of wanton prescriptions in the 80s and 90s, when painkillers were quite abundant, and the medical world was encouraged to sell as many of them as possible. Its full history goes back even further. It wasn’t until after some time that it became apparent just how great the potential for Fentanyl addiction is with opiate-based painkillers – so regulations came in to bottleneck the supply and cut people off from an overflow of drugs.

With no legal alternative and no real access to drug addiction treatment for addiction, or any concrete knowledge around the subject, thousands of Americans turned to other means to satisfy their newfound craving: chief among them was heroin. For a time, heroin was solely responsible for a new and growing list of overdoses, as those who struggled to find a way to keep their addiction under control took increasingly larger doses to fight tolerance, until one day, their dosage killed them.

But when fentanyl-laced heroin became popular, the massively increased potency of the drug led to a new, longer string of overdoses and Fentanyl addiction.

There is no simple solution to Fentanyl addiction – not now, decades after the problem has grown and evolved. But there are measures we can all take to slow, and eventually stop the problem, and they start with education and awareness. No one wants to die from an overdose, and no one wants their life to turn into an endless cycle of withdrawal and blurry euphoria. People need to understand that there are ways to find help for Fentanyl addiction, and that they work. A Los Angeles sober living is a good place to recovery from addiction.

Despite the growth in Fentanyl addiction overdoses over the past few years, a miniscule percentage of Americans actively seek treatment for their Fentanyl addiction or other drug addictions. Healthcare costs are partially to blame, making treatment often unfeasible for those in low-income households. In many other cases, the shame and stigma attached to addiction deters people from admitting their Fentanyl addiction problem and seeking help. But through friends, family, and community leadership, drug addiction can be tackled in a constructive way to lead to less deaths and better recovery.


Middle Schoolers Learn To Save Someone From Heroin Overdose

Because of the widespread epidemic of opiate addiction (which includes both heroin and prescription pain pills) officials are doing their best to spread the word about Naloxone, a drug that can help reverse the effects of a heroin overdose. So far, the following organizations have been working hard to educate the public about this life-saving medication:

  • The American Medical Association
  • The American Society of Addiction Medicine
  • The American Association of Poison Control Centers
  • The Office of National Drug Control Policy
  • The World Health Organization
  • The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration

Because thousands of men, women, and teens are addicted to opiates, spreading the word about a safe drug can potentially save many lives! And recently a medically trained fire fighter spoke to Southside Middle School in Manchester, New Hampshire for the same reason. Chris Hickey, the Emergency Medical Services (EMS) training officer for the Manchester Fire Department in New Hampshire was interviewed by the ABC News television program 20/20.

Hickey began his talk to the sixth graders by asking them if they had ever seen a hypodermic needle before. Some of the students said they had. At one point in his talk, Hickey invited a student to practice administering the drug into each nostril of his nose. For the demonstration, they used saline solution. However, one of the great benefits of Naloxone is that it can be easily administered and has minimal effects on people who have not used heroin. This is why public officials are okay with spreading the news about this medication – even to middle schoolers. Naloxone is not a drug that can be abused in any way.

Essentially, the drug only works on those who have heroin in their system. The drug can be administered through injection or intra-nasally. It contains specific opioid receptor antagonists that can reverse an opioid overdose. When someone is experiencing an overdose, Naloxone temporarily blocks the opiate effects, allowing a person to breathe again long enough for help to arrive. In fact, the drug has been used for decades among medical professionals and it has saved thousands of lives. Now that the epidemic of opiate addiction is becoming more severe, more and more of those in the helping professions want Naloxone to be well known.

Some might argue that children who are 11 and 12 years old are too young to know about heroin addiction, overdose, and how to administer a life-saving drug.  However, the truth is, heroin and prescription pain pills can affect a child at all ages – even at infancy. Frequently, children are born positive to heroin or meth or other illicit drugs. And the youngest known heroin addict on record is a child who is 11 years of age.

Furthermore, Hickey commented in the interview that he is pleased to be speaking to middle schoolers about this topic. He feels he is saving lives by providing important education on a medication that can reverse the fatal effects of overdose.

Perhaps these children are young, but they are old enough to understand the effects of the drug. And in an emergency, they may be able to save the life of a friend or loved one.


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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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Why People Use Cocaine & Heroin Despite Knowing Their Extreme Dangers

Why People Use Cocaine & Heroin Despite Knowing Their Extreme Dangers | Transcend Recovery Community

In a recent article on this blog, a list of the most addictive drugs was included. Heroin and cocaine were listed as the top two drugs that create the greatest dependency. Perhaps that alone indicates why these drugs are so dangerous. Even a one-time experience can be so alluring that you’re tempted to continue again and again. And with each continued use of either heroin or cocaine, the brain rewires itself, the body wants more of it, and the psychological dependency gets stronger and stronger.

Perhaps the dangers of each of these drugs are well known, or at the very least, they have a reputation for being dangerous and that anyone should stay away from them, if you can. But then why do people end up using them? Why do men and women get hooked on such drugs?

Certainly, it’s the high that’s the bait. It’s the kind of high that makes any sexual experience pale in comparison. Heroin has been labeled the most addictive drug in the world. Its high includes feelings of euphoria, warmth, safety, pleasure, and even joy. For many reasons, the high of heroin along with its severe withdrawal symptoms will easily keep someone in the prison of heroin use for many years. As mentioned in the article that listed the top ten most addictive drugs, heroin has a dependence rating of 2.89.

At the same time, the high of cocaine is not all that different. The intoxication of ingesting cocaine includes feeling very alert, excited, powerful, and happy. Some users of cocaine describe its euphoria as equivalent to orgasm. However, the euphoria of being high on cocaine can also bring feelings of suspicion and paranoia. In fact, after awhile the high might produce anxious feelings, compulsive behaviors, and flashes of light or hallucinations. Cocaine has a dependence rating of 2.82.

Another factor that plays a role in why people end up using these drugs, despite knowing their extreme dangers, is its low cost. In fact, heroin is less expensive than the popular use of alcohol. Because heroin is so inexpensive, it makes it attractive to those who are looking for a way to escape or feel better, if they’re feeling anxious, depressed, lost, or confused.  The low cost makes heroin accessible to wide groups of people.

And prices are relatively low for cocaine as well. One site indicates that cocaine ranges from about $30 to $300 per gram in the United States. According to a recent article in Slate magazine, the price for a gram of cocaine went down to $140 in 2007, which is an 80% decrease from its cost in 1982. Among other factors, the drug’s increased production combined with a lower demand has caused its price to drop significantly.

However, despite the cheaper high, cocaine has significant effects on the brain and it is particularly addictive, more so than any other amphetamine. According a recent study, the time it takes to go from experimentation to weekly use of the drug is less than 3 months. The significant changes that occur in the brain are likely responsible for the rapid path towards addiction.

The low cost and euphoric high of both these drugs lead to the use of them despite their dangers. And the high dependency of the drug catches people in the prison of addiction. Yet, even though the addictive quality of both heroin and cocaine are quite high, it’s still quite possible to end an addiction to them. With the right support, treatment, and commitment to get sober, it’s been done by thousands, if not millions of people before.

If you’ve been captured by the spell of heroin or cocaine and you’re ready to put an end to your substance use, contact a mental health professional today.


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The 10 Most Addictive Drugs to Quit (Part Two)

The 10 Most Addictive Drugs to Quit (Part Two) | Transcend Recovery Community

This article is the second in a two part series listing the top ten addictive drugs, counting backwards from 10 to the top most addictive drug. This list is based upon an article recently published by The Fix magazine.

The first article in this series listed the most addictive drugs, rated 10 through 5. The following completes the list with the top four addictive drugs.

  • Methadone (dependence rating = 2.68) – 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. When taken properly, medication-assisted treatment with methadone suppresses opioid withdrawal, 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.
  • Nicotine (dependence rating = 2.82) – Nicotine is found in the roots of certain plants known as the nightshade family of plants and is considered a stimulant. In small doses, nicotine is used in cigarettes and has a stimulating effect when smoked. However, in large doses nicotine can be harmful. Sadly, the nicotine content found in cigarettes has increased over time. One study found that American made cigarettes had an increase of nicotine of about 1.78 percent. Approximately 1000 people die from nicotine-related illnesses every day, including lung cancer. Another study found that those who smoke are more likely to have symptoms of depression than those who do not. Depression is associated with an increased risk for smoking, and research has found that smoking is often a behavior that depressed adults engage in as a way to self-medicate.
  • Crack Cocaine (dependence rating = 2.82) – Cocaine is derived from the leaves of the cocoa plant. It can be taken into the body in a variety of ways, including snorting, injecting, and smoking. However, when cocaine is converted into crack or free base cocaine and smoked or injected directly into the bloodstream, these methods deliver the drug faster to the brain and leads to a more intense high. Because of this, these methods also have more dangerous effects. Extended use of crack cocaine can lead to thickening of tissues in the heart, heart attacks, and heart failure. If used over a length of time, cocaine can lead to sores in the lungs, throat, and mouth, among other significant physical impairments. Of course, other dangers of cocaine use are criminal activity, such as stealing money to maintain an addiction. Over time, a cocaine addiction could even lead to long-term life of crime.
  • Heroin (dependence rating = 2.82) – Heroin is an opiod that is synthesized from morphine, a naturally occurring substance extracted from the seedpod of the Asian poppy plant. Heroin can be injected or inhaled by snorting or sniffing or smoking it. Symptoms of using the drug include red or raw nostrils, needle marks or scars on arms, wearing long sleeves at inappropriate times, and medicinal breath. Physical evidence might include cough syrup, bottles, syringes, cotton swabs, and spoons for heating heroin. Long-term symptoms are loss of appetite, constipation, brain damage, and damage to the central nervous system. Heroin is a dangerous drug, not only for being incredibly addictive, but also the drug essentially rewires the brain suppressing all instincts and slowing down the nervous system. The drug can be hard to break, as many news reports, articles, and television programs are revealing. Between 2007 and 2012, the number of heroin users almost doubled. In 2007, for example, 337 thousand people were addicted to heroin in America and in 2012 that number jumped up to 669 thousand.

Of course, it should be noted that drugs, regardless of their addictive quality, can produce significant impairment in one’s life when an addiction develops. In fact, addictions can also develop to behaviors, such as gambling and shopping, which can also lead to great harm.  Therefore, it’s important to keep in mind that the dependence rating included in this two part article series is one of many factors in the development of addiction.


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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”