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ARTICLE OVERVIEW: Klonopin can be addictive. Regular use can easily lead to dependence that can then trigger dangerous withdrawal symptoms. But, there are ways to stop taking Klonopin safely. We review them here.

ESTIMATED READING TIME: 5 minutes

TABLE OF CONTENTS:

Consequences of Quitting

When you are prescribed with Klonopin, you should not stop taking it without talking to your doctor first, especially if you’ve been on it for a longer period of time. Once your body becomes dependent, you may experience unpleasant withdrawal symptoms which may intensify if you quit it abruptly.

In this article, we review the consequences of quitting Klonopin suddenly, but we also advise you how to come off this benzodiazepine safely. If you want to ask anything after reading the article, feel free to post your questions in the comments section. We try to respond to all legitimate inquiries personally and promptly.

How Addictive Is Klonopin?

Klonopin, the brand name for a medication containing clonazepam, is very addictive.  It is a Schedule IV drug, which means that it has a potential for abuse. While this potential is lower relative to substances in Schedule III, it still exists.

What is Klonopin used for? This sedative medication is prescribed to regulate anxiety and convulsions as well as to control and prevent seizures. Doctors and medical professional prescribe Klonopin to reduce anxiety from panic attacks.

What Makes Stopping Klonopin Hard?

Klonopin is hard to come off because of the way it changes brain chemistry. Like other benzos, it works by altering the levels and communication between chemical messengers called neurotransmitters. Klonopin produces a calming effect by influencing GABA, the primary inhibitory neurotransmitter in the body which exist to reduce the excitability of neurons.

Plus, Klonopin also affects dopamine levels. Dopamine is the body’s feel-good neurotransmitter. When you use Klonopin, dopamine levels raise in order to beat the anxiety and stabilize your psychological condition.

In effect, your brain becomes conditioned to repeat the action of taking Klonopin in order to feel good. But as you do, you develop a habit.

In addition to mental dependence, you also develop physical dependence. As you repeatedly take Klonopin, the body starts to adapt.  So, when you continue to take it for 4 weeks or longer, your body relies on this external chemical for internal balance. You will start to crave it if you try to quit using…and will encounter withdrawal symptoms.

What Makes Stopping Klonopin Dangerous?

Stopping Klonopin is dangerous because it triggers withdrawal symptoms. Withdrawal is especially dangerous when you stop using it cold turkey, without medical supervision, and when doses are lowered suddenly. Each of these methods of cessation make withdrawal symptoms more severe and can result in complications.

1. Cold turkey Klonopin

Cold turkey withdrawal can cause potentially dangerous symptoms such as seizures, panic attack, and episodes of depersonalization.  Many users cannot handle the severity of the acute withdrawal symptoms associated with cold turkey Klonopin withdrawal. This is why tapering is often recommended. Plus going cold turkey on Klonopin increases the chances of relapse due to the fact that your body is not accustomed to function without this drug.

2. Stopping Klonopin without medical supervision

It is against medical advice to discontinue a benzodiazepine medication without the proper care and monitoring from doctors and/or addiction professionals. The bottom line is that you can hurt yourself. Tapering under a doctor’s supervision can lower incidence of complications and is most safe. Another reason why medical monitoring during detox is essential is that medical detox results in higher chances of successful rehabilitation.

3. Lowering doses of Klonopin suddenly and abruptly

Suddenly stopping Klonopin without the help of a doctor can be risky. Benzodiazepines trigger severe withdrawal symptoms and rapid discontinuation can lead you to convulsions and seizures. People who stop suddenly are at a greater risk of trying to commit suicide due to the high depression levels. Instead, it is recommended you talk with a doctor to slowly reduce your Klonopin dose. This will decrease your chances of dangerous side effects and it can save your life.

Quitting Klonopin Side Effects

Individuals who’ve used Klonopin chronically for a longer period of time develop dependence, which makes it difficult to quit due to withdrawal symptoms. It usually takes around 3-4 weeks for most acute Klonopin withdrawal symptoms to start fading. Other symptoms can persist in the weeks, months, and years following initial withdrawal. Commonly reported Klonopin withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Anxiety
  • Concentration problems
  • Confusion
  • Crying spells
  • Depersonalization
  • Depression
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Hallucinations
  • Headaches
  • Insomnia
  • Irritability
  • Memory problems
  • Mood swings
  • Muscle spasms
  • Nausea
  • Nightmares
  • Palpitations
  • Panic attacks
  • Seizures
  • Sleep problems
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Sweating
  • Tremors
Quitting Klonopin Doesn’t Have To Be Dangerous

You might experience certain challenges and difficulties during Klonopin withdrawal. However, with the proper medical support and treatment you can succeed in overcoming these issues. These are the safest and most comfortable ways to get off of Klonopin.

1. Quitting Klonopin under medical supervision

If you get a doctor’s clearance that you can quit at home, then you are permitted to do so. Usually, you’ll need to schedule regular outpatient visits to the doctor’s office. Still, it is safer to detox in an INPATIENT setting so that you can benefit from round a clock care and support.

Quitting Klonopin by yourself is never recommended! While withdrawing Klonopin at home, you are obligated to follow your doctor’s recommendations and take some prescribed meds that might help you ease your symptoms. The following medications are most commonly prescribed for the moderation of Klonopin withdrawal:

  • Paxil and Prozac prescribed to help you with depression and anxiety during withdrawal.
  • Tegretol or carbamazepine prescribed to help you with seizures.
  • Melatonin has been useful in assisting with insomnia during Klonopin withdrawal process.

2. Tapering Klonopin

This is a longer lasting process but a far safer one that quitting cold turkey. In some cases, you can taper off of Klonopin by reducing the total daily dose by 0.125 mg (1/8 mg) on a weekly basis. So if you were taking 1mg of Klonopin per day, it would take you approximately 8 weeks to fully withdraw. However, this is only a recommendation, Klonopin tapering plans are unique for each individual and you can agree upon what best works for you with your doctor.

3. Klonopin detox clinic

Sometimes, people need more care. In cases when you think you’re addicted to the medicine, proper treatment requires trained medical professionals as well as licensed addiction counselors and therapists. Without these experts, time in addiction treatment is not well spent. If you do not uncover and address the reasons why you use Klonopin, your compulsive drug seeking will never go away. A detox facility can help you overcome your physical dependence on Klonopin AND help you get through mental and emotional difficult times.

4. Inpatient Klonopin treatment

After detoxing your body from Klonopin, inpatient treatment programs are usually focused on the psychological reasons of your addiction. If you check in to an inpatient treatment program, you can expect to receive individual and group therapy sessions. During a residential stay, you’ll live at the facility with other people who are learning how to live without addictive substances. Inpatient residential programs last from 30 days to one year, depending on the severity of the addiction, progress in treatment, and outside support.

Quitting Klonopin Difficulties Questions

Still have questions about quitting Klonopin and the difficulties that go with it? Please leave us your questions, comments, or experiences below. We respond to all questions personally. We will try to have you an answer or reply ASAP.

Reference Sources: Clonazepam Addiction Help: How Long Does it Take to Get Addicted to Clonazepam?
Clonazepam Addiction Help: The Addictive Effects of Benzodiazepines
Drug Abuse: The Effects of Clonazepam Use
PsyWeb: Clonazepam (Klonopin)
Mental Health Daily: Klonopin (Clonazepam) Withdrawal Symptoms + Duration
American Addiction Centers: Clonazepam Withdrawal Symptoms, Length, and Treatment
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ARTICLE OVERVIEW: This article reviews symptoms of hydrocodone withdrawal and when to expect them in the detoxification process. Then, we invite your questions  at the end.

TABLE OF CONTENTS:

What Happens To Your Brain?

Hydrocodone is a part of the opioid family of painkiller drugs, a man-made narcotic. Opioid medications have the potential to provide significant pain relieving benefit for people when used as directed. However, opioids also carry serious risks of misuse, abuse, dependence, addiction, overdose, and death.

Opioids like hydrocodone work by flooding opioid receptors in the brain, which is why you experience blocked pain, and increased serotonin that gives you a relaxed and pleasant feeling throughout the body. In other words, it works by changing the way the brain and nervous system respond to pain.

Dependence can develop after only a few weeks of using hydrocodone daily. The body adapts to the presence of hydrocodone and becomes part of the normal functioning. But when you stop taking hydrocodone, withdrawal symptoms manifest. During this time, the body struggle to regulate itself without the presence of hydrocodone. Symptoms occur as the brain reorganizes chemical messages to achieve balance.

What Happens To Your Body And What It’s Really Like?

In general, withdrawal symptoms are more intense when your dosage has been high.  Side effects of hydrocodone withdrawal range from mild to moderate to severe and may differ from person to person. Common symptoms people experience as they withdraw from hydrocodone may include:

  • Abnormal skin sensations.
  • A lowered appetite.
  • Cold flashes with goose bumps.
  • Confusion.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Dilated pupils.
  • Excessive yawning or sneezing.
  • Extreme drowsiness.
  • Fever.
  • Hypertension.
  • Insomnia.
  • Involuntary leg movements.
  • Lacrimation.
  • Mood changes.
  • Muscle and bone pain.
  • Nausea.
  • Stomach pain.
  • Strong drug craving.
  • Sweating.
  • Tachycardia
  • Tachypnea

There is a group of symptoms can last for weeks or months following withdrawal from hydrocodone, also known as post-acute or protracted withdrawal syndrome, PAWS. PAWS symptoms related to hydrocodone detox include:

  • Anxiety.
  • Deficits in executive control functions.
  • Depression.
  • Fatigue.
  • Irritability.
  • Sleep disturbances.
Duration

Hydrocodone withdrawal symptoms can develop a few minutes or hours after you miss an expected dose, and peak 12–48 hours after that. In fact, you can expect to feel hydrocodone withdrawal begin shortly after a missed dose. The degree and time that withdrawal takes, however, can fluctuate given your daily dose frequency and amount. Hydrocodone detox usually subsides over the course of 10–20 days.

However, after you have battled the physical effects hydrocodone withdrawal, you will have to deal with the psychological craving for the drug and kicking the need to take it again when stressors arrive. Also, symptoms like depression or trouble sleeping can linger. This could take up to 6 months or longer to resolve.

Timeline

Hydrocodone withdrawal start between 6 and 12 hours after the last dose. Usually, symptoms peaks within 72 hours and can last anywhere from a week to a month.Drug cravings and some of the emotional side effects may last longer than a month without the help and support of a mental health specialist.

Below is a list of the most common hydrocodone withdrawal symptoms with a general timeline that outlines their appearance:

24 – 72 Hours After The Last Hydrocodone Dose

  • Abdominal cramping.
  • Abnormal skin sensations.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Drowsiness.
  • Mood swings.
  • Sweats.

3-7 Days After The Last Hydrocodone Dose

  • Decreased appetite.
  • Depression.
  • Exhaustion.
  • Intense craving.
  • Irritability.
  • Sensitivity to pain.

Week 2 Of Hydrocodone Withdrawal

  • Back aches.
  • Cravings.
  • Irritability.
  • Mood swing.
  • Muscle cramps.
  • Tremors.

Week 3 Of Hydrocodone Withdrawal

  • Anxiety.
  • Mood swings.
  • Restlessness.
  • Sleep disorders.

Week 4 Of Hydrocodone Withdrawal

  • Anxiety.
  • Irritability.
  • Mood swings.
  • Restless legs syndrome.

The amount of time you’ve been using hydrocodone, as well as the average dose and exact formulation of the drug may make a difference in the precise withdrawal timeline and severity. The longer a drug is taken, the more intense the withdrawal. Also, it may be likely that significant physiological dependence has developed. Underlying medical or mental health issues can also prolong the process.

Dangers

Opiate withdrawal is typically not life threatening, but it can be very uncomfortable. However, the most dangerous part of withdrawal is the threat of relapse. For long-term users, relapse after withdrawal can be deadly. Many persons who want to partake of the drug “just one last time,” will consume it at the normal rate they tolerated prior to withdrawal. Because the drugs are out of their system, this amount can prove too much for the brain to handle. Many people overdose because of this.

Hydrocodone overdose is life threatening and requires immediate emergency attention. Recognizing the signs of opioid overdose is essential to saving lives; these are:

  • Bluish color to lips and nails.
  • Clammy, cold skin.
  • Confusion.
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness.
  • Limp body.
  • Low blood pressure.
  • Pale skin, especially in the face.
  • Pinpoint pupils.
  • Seizures.
  • Severely reduced or stopped breathing.
  • Unconsciousness or non-responsiveness.
  • Vomiting.

Opioid overdose can be fatal and requires immediate medical attention. Consider the following actions:

  1. Call for medical attention if you suspect that an overdose has occurred
  2. If the person has stopped breathing or if breathing is very weak, begin CPR.
  3. Make sure that your family members, caregivers, or the people who spend time with you know how to tell if you are experiencing an overdose and what to do until emergency medical help arrives. You will probably be unable to treat yourself if you experience an opioid overdose.

Naloxone is a medication used in treating opioid overdose. Naloxone is a medication approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to prevent overdose by hydrocodone. It blocks opioid receptor sites, reversing the toxic effects of the overdose. It´s administered when a person is showing signs of opioid overdose. The medication can be given by intranasal spray, intramuscular (into the muscle), subcutaneous (under the skin), or intravenous injection.

Can You Do It Yourself?

Yes, you can go through hydrocodone detox on your own, especially if you have just started taking it and you know which hydrocodone withdrawal symptoms to expect during detox and for how long. However, for others who have taken hydrocodone for more than a few weeks, medical supervision is strongly recommended to manage tapering, because drug cravings make it harder to deal with withdrawal symptoms.

Where To Detox?

A medical detox clinic is the best place to go through hydrocodone withdrawal. This medical setting creates a safe environment to manage uncomfortable symptoms of withdrawal. A supervised detox can prevent potential complications.

However, mental treatment is just as important as physical treatment. After withdrawal passes, you may need to change your behaviors related to drug abuse. A stay at a rehab center can enhance the effectiveness of medications and help you better manage life. Treatment for possible addiction can be delivered in many different settings using a variety of behavioral approaches. Some of the most common are:

  • 12-Step facilitation therapy.
  • Contingency management.
  • Group counseling.
  • Individual counseling
  • Motivational incentives.
Medications

Some treatment centers follow the philosophy that they should not treat a drug addiction with other drugs, but research shows that medication can help in many cases. FDA has approved a number of drug products that address opioid addiction or overdose.

Medicated-Assisted Treatment (MAT) is the use of FDA- approved medications, in combination with counseling and behavioral therapies, to provide a “whole-patient” approach to the treatment of substance use disorders.

Methadone, buprenorphine, and naltrexone are used to treat opioid dependence and addiction to short-acting opioids such as hydrocodone. People may safely take medications used in MAT for months, years, several years, or even a lifetime. Plans to stop a medication must always be discussed with a doctor.

Methadone

Methadone has been used for decades to treat people who are addicted to narcotic pain medicines. When taken as prescribed, it is safe and effective. Methadone tricks the brain into thinking it’s still getting the abused drug. In fact, the person is not getting high from it and feels normal, so withdrawal doesn’t occur.

Persons taking methadone to treat opioid addiction must receive the medication under the supervision of a physician. The length of time in methadone treatment varies from person to person. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse publication Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment: A Research-Based Guide – 2012, the length of methadone treatment should be a minimum of 12 months. Some people may require treatment for years. Even if a person feels that they are ready to stop methadone treatment, it must be stopped gradually to prevent withdrawal. A doctor should supervise such a decision.

Buprenorphine

Like methadone, buprenorphine suppresses and reduces cravings for the abused drug. It can come in a pill form or sublingual tablet that is placed under the tongue.

Buprenorphine has unique pharmacological properties that help:

  • Lower the potential for misuse
  • Diminish the effects of physical dependency to opioids, such as withdrawal symptoms and cravings
  • Increase safety in cases of overdose

Buprenorphine is the first medication to treat opioid dependency that is permitted to be prescribed or dispensed in physician offices, significantly increasing treatment access. Buprenorphine treatment happens in three phases:

1. The induction phase is the medically monitored startup of buprenorphine treatment. The medication is administered when a person with an opioid dependency has abstained from using opioids for 12 to 24 hours and is in the early stages of opioid withdrawal.

2. The stabilization phase begins after a person has discontinued or greatly reduced their misuse of the problem drug, no longer has cravings, and experiences few, if any, side effects. The buprenorphine dose may need to be adjusted during this phase.

3. The maintenance phase occurs when a person is doing well on a steady dose of buprenorphine. The length of time of the maintenance phase is tailored to each person and could be indefinite. Once a person is stabilized, an alternative approach would be to go into a medically supervised withdrawal, which makes the transition from a physically dependent state smoother.

Naltrexone

Naltrexone blocks the euphoric and sedative effects of drugs such as heroin, morphine, and codeine. It works differently in the body than buprenorphine and methadone, which activate opioid receptors in the body that suppress cravings. Naltrexone binds and blocks opioid receptors, and is reported to reduce opioid cravings. There is no abuse and diversion potential with naltrexone.

It is important that medically managed withdrawal from hydrocodone be completed at least 7 to 10 days before extended-release injectable naltrexone is initiated or resumed. Research has shown that naltrexone decreases reactivity to drug-conditioned cues and decreases craving.

Treating Common Symptoms

For common hydrocodone withdrawal symptoms, the following table outlines the symptomatic treatment:


Source: Clinical Guidelines for Withdrawal Management and Treatment of Drug Dependence in Closed Settings. Withdrawal Management.

These are recommendations for the treatment of these common symptoms, but remember that if you have any of these symptoms, it is always best to consult a doctor first, before self-medication.

Do You Have Questions?

Do you have questions about hydrocodone detox? Would you like to know more? Please ask any questions you may have here in the comments section and we will get back to you personally and promptly.

Additional Reference Sources:DEA: Hydrocodone
FDA: Opioid medications
MEDLINE PLUS: Hydrocodone/Oxycodone overdose
NCBI: Withdrawal management
NCBI: Pharmacological and physical interventions in opioid detoxification
NIDA: Commonly abused drugs charts
SAMHSA: Addressing opioid use disorder in general medical settings
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ARTICLE OVERVIEW: Doctors prescribe Vicodin as a means of treating moderate to severe pain. But it is extremely addictive. This article explains how to help someone who’s become addicted. Then, we invite your questions at the end. 

ESTIMATED READING TIME: 7 MINUTES

TABLE OF CONTENTS:

What Addiction Really Is
Addiction is a disease. There’s is a misguided notion that addiction is a choice. However, it’s very much a mental disorder similar to anxiety or depression. When it comes to Vicodin, this can be explained in the way it affects both the mind and body.

Vicodin affects opioid receptors in the brain. It particularly affects areas of the brain responsible for creating positive emotions, such as pleasure, satisfaction, and well-being. This is what causes the euphoria people feel when high on Vicodin.

But why can’t some people quit?

Vicodin can interrupt normal function of the brain. Over time, both the brain and body begin to adapt to the drug’s main chemical – hydrocodone – as normal. In turn, the brain and body speed up some processes to counterbalance the depressant effects of the drug, a state known as homeostasis. Take away the drug, and uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms occur.

Someone addicted to Vicodin relies on Vicodin as a means of feeling “normal”. And people can’t quit due to physical and psychological depedence. But what’s the difference between dependence and addiction?

Dependence or Addiction?
Vicodin is prescribed by a doctor, but it’s uncertain how people will react to the drug. Not everyone will abuse it and there will be those who know how to take it responsibly. Furthermore, not everyone who takes more than the recommended dose will end up with an addiction.

What separates addiction from dependence is craving.

To put it simply:

A drug dependence is when the body and brain have adapted to Vicodin’s as a survival function. Tolerance can develop, which means that original therapeutic doses are no longer effective. So, some people increase dosing amounts or frequency.

An addiction is compulsive use to the point of bringing harmful consequences upon self and others. People who struggle with a Vicodin addiction have the inability to stop even when negative effects are present

To assess possible risk of addiction, ask your affected loved one the following questions.

  • Are your responsibilities at school, work, family at risk due to your Vicodin use?
  • Do you take Vicodin despite it causing problem in your relationships?
  • Do you find yourself craving to use Vicodin?
  • Do you find yourself in risky behavior due to the fact that you use Vicodin?
  • Do you spend a large amount of time thinking about, obtaining, or using Vicodin?
  • Have you ever tried to quit Vicodin without success?

If your loved one answers yes to one or more of the above questions, there’s a solid chance they’re facing a Vicodin addiction. Since Vicodin is an opioid drug, this could lead to the use of harder opioid drugs, such as heroin.

Helping Address Denial
Much of the time, people facing an addiction won’t want to admit to their problem. Admittedly, they feel a sense of shame in their disease. As though it’s a failure to a responsible life. Due to this shame, people stay stuck.

It’s not expected that you’ll know all the ins and outs of drug addiction. In fact, before you address denial, it’s important you seek professional guidance – preferably, from a licensed clinical psychologist or counselor who has experience in addiction. This is important as it will teach you what you don’t know about addiction. With better knowledge, you’ll have more of the ability to help.

Getting help for yourself can teach you how to:

  • Bring up conversations about recovery at the right time.
  • Set boundaries.
  • Stay safe around a person struggling with addiction.
  • Understand addiction as a brain disorder.
  • Understand addiction as a family issue.

Your goal is to get your loved one to want to stop using Vicodin. Without this desire, there’s little you can do in order to help. Your first step should be to seek out medical help.

It’s hard to achieve long-term sobriety and avoid Vicodin relapse without the professional help of a reputable treatment program. Clinicians and scientists have developed a variety of effective treatments which aim to help those struggling how to re-learn how to live life without taking drugs.

Intervention Basics
If your efforts towards breaking denial prove futile, you’re going to have to take stronger measures. One efficient way to get the message across to your loved one is through an intervention. We receommend you reach out to a professional interventionist. Call us for a recommendation.
These professionals will guide you on the right path when it comes to handling a serious discussion about drug addiction and how to guide that conversation towards treatment. For example, it’s vital you plan out your intervention prior to having it. And, in order to do that, you’re going to want to keep some basic tips in mind:

Carefully choose who will attend.

As mentioned, people who handle a Vicodin addiction will most likely feel a sense of shame. It can be assumed you’re walking on fragile ice when trying to get a group of people together to have an open discussion about the topic. Keep in mind how sensitive this issue is and be keen on who’s present.

Get advice before you begin.

We’ve discussed the importance of seeking out professional guidance before holding your intervention. Your ultimate goal is to successfully get the person struggling into treatment. Minding the fact that this is a sensitive topic, you won’t want to make any wrong moves. You’ll want to be informed of important points to cover as well as how to handle the emotional side of your loved one’s addiction.

Plan communication in advance.

As we continuously mention, those who struggle with a drug addiction are very vulnerable individuals. You want to know what you’re going to say and how you’re going to say it. You want to reach out and offer the comfort they feel they don’t have. Plan the communication in order to nail these points.

Prepare for anything.

Even with a professional on your side, you have no way of understanding how the person struggling with addiction will react. Some will understand while others will retaliate. It’s best to prepare for anything.

Suggest consequences.

Though this isn’t the case for every family struggling with addiction, there are often instances where members are feeding an individual’s addiction. For example, you might be giving your loved one money which they, in turn, use to purchase drugs. Or you might offer them a place to stay which makes them comfortable enough to continue drug use and not worry of responsibility. It’s important your loved one understands these privileges will be in consequence if drug use continues.

Provide a solution.

Your goal is for the intervention to go well and for your loved one to take the first steps towards sobriety. Therefore, it’s in your best interest to provide options for them to get better. This should include rehab.

Follow through.

The intervention is only the first step towards recovery. Make sure you follow through with your loved one and help them on the path towards sobriety. Stick to your consequences. And make a commitment to getting help for yourself. Enter family counseling, individual therapy, or make resolution for self-care. Whatever the plan, follow through.

Help During Detox
During Vicodin detox, the body takes time to adjust. Often, this can be very exhausting and uncomfortable. So, what’s the general course of detox? What does it look like and how long does it take?

Your loved one can expect to experience Vicodin withdrawal starting 4-6 hours after their last dose. The acute symptoms will then peak between 24-72 hours. Withdrawals affect everyone differently. Therefore, the only way to know what your loved one will experience is by going to a medical professional. The most common Vicodin withdrawal symptoms are:

  • Abdominal cramps
  • Anxiety
  • Agitation
  • Confusion
  • Craving
  • Diarrhea
  • Drowsiness
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Restless leg
  • Seizures
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Vomiting

Though withdrawal isn’t fatal, it remains dangerous. Excessive loss of liquids through diarrhea and vomiting can cause dehydration and a lack of appetite. Without the proper care, this can damage health. You also risk relapse if you try to treat Vicodin detox at home.

In your position, it’s important to make sure your loved one receives the proper care s/he needs. Furthermore, a detox center will have the capability of easing withdrawal symptoms to make them less intense. As your loved one goes through this, offer your support as this is one of the most difficult periods of sobriety.

Help During Treatment
After detox, treatment includes talk therapy and medications. Your loved one will be offered psychological treatment as a means of reducing cravings and changing behavioral patterns. S/He most likely experienced a behavioral change in which they used the drug as a means of avoiding life stressors and/or handling certain negative emotions. The goal of talk therapy for addiction is to help people find themselves again and adjust back into day-to-day functioning without Vicodin.

Generally, this part of treatment lasts anywhere from 3 to 6 months. However, time spent in rehab can be higher depending on the level of addiction and severity of other mental health issues. While your loved one undergoes treatment, there are a variety of things you can do to make sure he/she makes the best out of it:

  • Always be there when things get difficult.
  • Be present at family therapy session.
  • Promote healthy and natural remedies to deal with cravings and emotions.
  • Send letters and cards with encouraging wishes.
How Many People Struggle?
Vicodin is one of the most common opioid prescriptions prescribed in the U.S. Therefore, there are a lot of people who struggle with addiction. Some statistics:
  • In 2009, 16 million Americans 12 and older used Vicodin for non-medical purposes.
  • In 2010, 6% of those 18 and under had abused the drug.
  • Vicodin addiction costs the country more than $484 billion annually.
  • 99% of Vicodin consumed is done so in the United States.
Referrals to Help (Where to Find Help)
You have a variety of options at your disposal when looking for help for a loved one. These include:
  • Calling us to learn about addiction treatment
  • Addiction doctors listed on the ABAM website
  • Psychologists or counselors via the APA website
  • Psychiatrists listed on the find an ABA psychiatrist near you website
  • Social Workers via your state’s Department of Health and Social Services
  • SAMHSA’s National Hotline 1-800-622-HELP
  • Your family physician
How to Support a Friend
If you’re a friend of someone who’s addicted to Vicodin, it’s important to help them distance themselves from old contacts. Once out of treatment, relapse is always a possibility and it’s in your best interest to do all you can at preventing this. These can include:
  • Going to NA meetings or other therapies with your friend
  • Offering new hobbies as a means of distraction
  • Socializing in drug free atmospheres

Furthermore, people who have been addicted to Vicodin may have mental health issues after their addiction. You’ll want to help them cope with these emotions and find a means of relieving them without medication. Your support can make a huge difference.

Your Questions
Still have questions?
If you have any further questions pertaining to how to help a Vicodin addict, we invite you to ask them in the comments below. If you have any advice to give for people currently trying to help a Vicodin addict, we’d also love to hear from you. We try to provide a personal response to each comment and get back to you promptly.
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ARTICLE OVERVIEW: Benzodiazepines act on the brain by slowing down its activity. These medications are some of the most abused prescription drugs in U.S. Check out the recent statistics on how many people abuse benzos and what the possible treatment options are here.

ESTIMATED READING TIME: 7 minutes

TABLE OF CONTENTS:

Benzodiazepines can be dangerous. Understanding Benzodiazepines

Benzodiazepines, commonly known as benzos, are pharmaceutical medications that are used for many mental issues such as panic attacks, seizures, or anxiety. Sometimes, they are used to manage alcohol withdrawal symptoms. Below is a list of the generic names of benzos, and well as their brand names:

  • Alprazolam – Xanax
  • Clonazepam – Klonopin
  • Diazepam – Valium
  • Lorazepam – Ativan
  • Temazepam – Restoril

These medications are classified as Schedule IV by the Controlled Substances Act [1] which means that they have a low potential for abuse and low risk of dependence.But, benzos can be really addictive, and dangerous medications. In fact, a NIDA study has found that these medications cause addiction in a similar way as opioids, cannabinoids, and GHB. [2]

Many researchers have come to understand that benzodiazepines have their own addictive potential. But there is still no strong movement to classify them as dangerous, even though they are.

Finally, it is important to know that benzodiazepines are part of a drug classification type known as “depressants” because they work to slow down the brain. Theyare divided into two main groups: tranquilizers and sedatives. Moreover, benzodiazepines can be divided according to the length of time they are active in the body, which is measured by the half-life of each medication:

1. Short-acting benzodiazepines. These benzos have a short half-life, which means they are processed more quickly, and leave the body faster.

2. Long-acting benzodiazepines. These medicines have a long half-life, which means they stay in the body longer because are processed more slowly.

Benzos can have a serious effect on your health. Benzodiazepines Effects and Abuse

Benzodiazepines act directly on the central nervous system by binding with GABA receptors. This leads to slowing down brain function and relieving metal stress. In addition, benzos may produce euphoria, especially if used for a long period of time.And when you get high on benzos over the long run, benzos can put your health in serious risk.

But, when does use become abuse?

Any use of benzodiazepines without a doctor’s recommendation is considered abuse. Also, if you take benzos in a way as not recommended by your doctor, this is considered abuse. If you crush, inject, chew, or snort benzos, you are abusing the drug. Some of the negative physical and mental side effects caused by benzo abuse include:

  • Anxiety
  • Blurred vision
  • Blunted emotions
  • Confusion
  • Dizziness
  • Depression
  • Drowsiness
  • Headaches
  • Lack of motor coordination
  • Loss of self-confidence
  • Memory lapses
  • Physical weakness
  • Poor judgment
  • Problems breathing
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Slurred speech
  • Tremors

Additionally, abusing benzodiazepines can affect your personal life, not just your health. Some of the negative consequences may include:

  • Financial problems
  • Losing close friends
  • Problems with family
  • Troubles performing in work/school duties
Benzos can be addictive. Benzodiazepines and Other Drugs

People who work with addiction report that benzodiazepines are rarely abused by their own, and they are not typically the first drug of choice. Usually, these medications are often used in combination with other substances.The most recent SAMHSA DAWN report shows that during 7 years, almost a million emergency department visits occurred due to combination of benzodiazepines with opioid painkillers, alcohol, or other substances. [3]

Alcohol, painkillers, and other benzos are the most common substances used in combination with benzodiazepines.

Why do people combine benzos with other substances? Some of the reasons people mix benzos with other drugs are to boost the effect of the two drugs together. Others believe that mixing prescription pills is a safer practice than mixing illicit drugs with alcohol or other substances. However, there are way too many risks and dangers connected with mixing benzodiazepines and other substances.The main dangers include:

1. Drug synergism.

When you use medications with similar effects, the final outcome you can get is drug synergism. Both substances can produce high, enhanced, significantly increased effects. Meaning that 2+2 won’t be 4, it may be 8 or 10, or even higher.

2. Increased risk of overdose.

Mixing any two substances increase the chances for fatal overdose. It’s hard to overcome an overdose on one substance, but imagine what could happen if you OD on two. Smaller amounts of two different substances are needed to cause suppressed breathing, and/or organ failure that can result in death.

3. Slow physical reactions.

Because of synergistic effects of both drugs, you may experience slow motor reaction, lack of coordination, and impairment.

4. Decreased cognition.

You may experience decreased cognitive ability because of the enhanced effects of the both substances. This can lead to impaired judgment that can put you in risky situations and bad decisions.

5. Increased potential for acute conditions.

Mixing benzodiazepines with other substances increases the potential for heart attack, stroke, seizures, psychosis, or suicidal tendencies.

6. Increased the risk for addiction.

Long-term abuse of mixing benzos with other substances increase the risk of drug dependence and addiction. Withdrawal from two substances can lead to fatal outcomes, and treatment is a must.

7. Increased risk of mental health disorder.

Prolonged polydrug use increases the probability to develop some mental health disorder such as depression, anxiety, or stress disorders.

Call us to discuss benzodiazepine addiction. Benzodiazepine Abuse Statistics

There is a benzo problem in the U.S. So, if you’re facing an addiction, you are not alone. Take a look at these numbers and then give us a call to talk about getting out of the cycle. You don’t need to live with the need for benzodiazepines every day.

According to the 2017 National Survey of Drug Use and Health, about 5.5 million people aged 12 or older were current abusers of benzodiazepine tranquilizers,and 202,000 people aged 12 or older were current abusers of benzodiazepine sedatives.[4] This break downs by types of benzodiazepine as follows.

Moreover, the Surgeon General’s Report in 2015 stated that 18.9 million individuals misused benzodiazepines [5]:

  • 6.1 million people misused tranquilizers such as Xanax.
  • 1.5 million people misused sedatives such as Valium.

Additionally, the 2014 DAWN Report of 2014 found that people came to hospitals for overdoses in the hundreds of thousands. From 2005 to 2011,over 943K emergency department visits involved benzodiazepine overdose alone or in combination with opioid pain relievers, or alcohol, or other substances. The benzodiazepine-only visits happened among all ages:

  • 174,998 aged 12 to 34
  • 88,644 aged 35 to 44
  • 150,780 aged 45 to 64
  • 72,575 aged 65 and older

Finally, the CDC Report on Drugs Most Frequently Involved in Drug Overdose Deaths showed that about 6,000 overdose deaths involved benzodiazepines in 2014 including [6]:

  • 4,217 people died from alprazolam overdose
  • 1,729 people died from diazepam overdose

Are you using more and more?

Don’t wait until it’s too late.

Make the first step to recovery. Reach out for help and call us today.

Don’t wait until it’s too late. Call us today. How Does Addiction to Benzos Develop?

Benzodiazepines aren’t supposed to be used for longer than a week or two at any one period of time. This is because benzos trigger drug dependence.

When your body and brain adapt to the presence of the benzos as normal, you cannot function without them. The medication highjacks your brain and changes it.

Is this cycle real?

Yes.

One analytical study reported that about a third of people who use benzodiazepines for more than 6 months develop drug dependence and tolerance [7].Another study published in the medical journal, Addictive Behaviors, reports that more 40% of chronic benzodiazepine users become dependent. [8]

If you take benzo medications for about a month, it is very likely you’ll experience withdrawal symptoms when you stop taking them abruptly. Withdrawal is a sign that you have become dependent on the drug.Moreover, withdrawal symptoms can be very severe and uncomfortable. Always seek medical supervision when you want to quit a benzodiazepine.

Caught in a cycle? Addiction is treatable. Treating a Benzodiazepine Addiction

Benzodiazepine addiction is a treatable condition.

First, you can safely quit these medications by enrolling into treatment program that follows tapering protocols.Tapering involves lowering benzodiazepine daily doses down gradually and slowly. Usually, it takes about 10 or more weeks to finally stop taking the medication. Check out the Ashton Manual to find more information on tapering schedules. [9]

Then, you can address the reasons why you use benzos. This is done through talk therapy. If you’re self-medicating for anxiety or depression, you can get to the heart of these issues. If you’re mixing benzos with other drugs, you’ll look at why.

Most people use drugs to feel better.

Rehabs teach us how to feel better naturally. Basically, we can feel healthy and happy without the need for mind changing drugs. Instead, we adapt healthier habits. This is the main goal of an addiction treatment program.

Inpatient programs are created for people who deal with severe levels of addiction, and can benefit from time away from a home environment. They live at the facility and are monitored 24/7. Also, this program offers constant medical care conducted by qualified addiction professionals.

Outpatient programs are designed for individuals with mild levels of addiction. These patients follow their recommended tapering schedule, and only come and go to the facility for few hours, several day per week.

You can quit benzos. Call us to begin treatment. How to Beat a Benzodiazepine Addiction

Benzodiazepine addiction can ruin your life… but you don’t need to hit rock bottom! Take action today. Call us to discuss treatment options! We can help.

Give us a call to talk about how benzodiazepines are affecting you. You don’t need to suffer alone. Break through the silence and talk with a compassionate operator. We know addiction. We can get you help.

And, if you have any questions, please write to us in the comments section at the end. We try to respond to all real life questions personally and promptly.

Call us and start over. You can live drug-free! Reference Sources: [1] DEA: Drug Scheduling
[2] NIDA: Well-Known Mechanism Underlies Benzodiazepines’ Addictive Properties
[3] SAMHSA: DAWN Report
[4] SAMHSA: National Survey on Drug Use and Health of 2017
[5] NCBI: Facing Addiction in America: The Surgeon General’s Report on Alcohol, Drugs, and Health
[6] CDC: Drugs Most Frequently Involved in Drug Overdose Deaths:United States, 2010–2014
[7] NCBI:Benzodiazepine harm: How can it be reduced?
[8]NCBI: The Benzodiazepine Dependence Questionnaire
[9] Benzo: The Ashton Manual
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ARTICLE OVERVIEW: Fentanyl is causing a spike in overdose deaths. This article uncovers why this is happening and how we can stop it. We invite your questions at the end.

ESTIMATED READING TIME: 7 minutes

Table of Contents:

What is Fentanyl?

In short, fentanyl is a synthetic opioid which has similar effects to morphine. It is anywhere from 50 to 100 times more potent as known opiates like heroin, morphine, or codeine. [1]

Medically, people are given fentanyl to treat severe pain. But dosage is highly regulated due to its strong effects. [2] Historically, it has even been used as a large mammal tranquilizer or pain reliever. For these reasons, there is a great chance for it to be abused and, inevitably, the person who takes it can trigger an addiction.

According to the DEA, common fentanyl prescription names are:

  • Actiq
  • Duragesic
  • Sublimaze

However, the street names for fentanyl are:

  • Apache
  • China Girl
  • China White
  • Dance Fever
  • Friend
  • Goodfella
  • Jackpot
  • Murder 8
  • TNT
  • Tango and Cash [3]

To understand the drug itself better, we should take a look at how it affects the brain and body.

As with other opioids, fentanyl attaches itself to opioid receptors in the brain. These are responsible for how you regulate various feelings, such as pain and pleasure. Via neurotransmission, the opioid dumps chemicals throughout your body, triggering a heavy euphoria and causing the brain to change the way it perceives pain. [4]

How Do You Get Addicted?

So, how does one become addicted to this chemical?

Addiction isn’t a choice. Nobody chooses to become addicted to a drug. Instead, the complex disease has to do with how drugs chemically affect the brain. Combined with genetics and environment, the physical effects make it super hard to quit.

When someone first takes fentanyl, the brain has the initial reaction mentioned above. Since this is a good feeling, it naturally wants more. When somebody takes fentanyl over time, the brain and body start to develop a tolerance to the drug in which it needs more of it in order to feel the initial effects. [5] And this dependence on the drug makes it hard to physically quit. When you do quit, withdrawal symptoms manifest.

When someone is addicted, they seek drugs compulsively and have the inability to stop despite any negative consequences it brings into their life. For this reason, addiction is professionally referenced as a disease rather than a choice. [6]

Why Do Drug Dealers Lace Heroin with Fentanyl?

There are two reasons a drug dealer may lace heroin with fentanyl:

  1. To make more of a profit.
  2. To get people coming back.

These two reasons are related to one another. Simply put, drug dealers make more of a profit with regular customers. And because fentanyl is cheap and widely available, it’s easy for drug dealers to multiply their profits by cutting it into dope.

Heroin on its own is a very dangerous drug. But that’s the pure form. The truth is…unless you test a street drug, you don’t know what’s going into it. Furthermore, users don’t know how many dealers the drug has already gone through. It’s very possible the drug has been cut numerous times as its already gone through multiple dealers.

What Are the Dangers in Fentanyl?

The first danger is overdose. Fentanyl is tens of times stronger than the strongest opiate. And people who use it die because their hearts stop beating and they stop breathing.

The second danger is an addiction. Fentanyl is highly addictive and people who are offered it have to be careful of this risk as it comes with a series of other dangers. [7] There are true risks to your health that can be divided into two categories; short-term and long-term effects.

Short-term health effects are hazards that can happen immediately after taking the drug. Long-term health effects come from using fentanyl for a long period of time. [8]  The body and brain not only adapt to the drug but also begin depending on to the point of deteriorating. Some of the short-term effects of fentanyl use are:

  • Altered heart rate
  • Confusion
  • Constipation
  • Constricted pupils
  • Hallucinations
  • Itchy skin
  • Nausea
  • Seizures
  • Slowed breathing
  • Sweating
  • Vomiting

Long-term effects of fentanyl use are:

  • Harms towards your personal life and relationship.
  • Heightening problems with mental health conditions, such as depression.
  • Higher chance of overdose and death.
  • Increased risk of anoxic injury.
  • Increased risk of organ damage.

Again, the greatest long-term health risks of fentanyl is overdose and potential death. This is a rising problem in America. Fentanyl is only fueling the opioid epidemic even further.

Fentanyl’s Responsibility in Overdose Deaths

Fentanyl has been found to cause nearly half of opioid-related overdose deaths in past months. In fact, fentanyl has had such an influence in the opioid epidemic, it has surpassed prescription opioid’s overdose death involvement. For example,when fentanyl was involved in 3,007 (14.3%) of opioid-related deaths in 2010. In 2016, that number rose to 19,413 (45.9%) overdose deaths.

So, why is fentanyl causing so many deaths?

Fentanyl is 50 to 100 times stronger than morphine. If someone hasn’t developed a tolerance to opioids and takes fentanyl, their risk of overdose is much higher as it’s so potent of a drug.

Furthermore, fentanyl is often cut with heroin. People who struggle with a heroin addiction often don’t know whether or not fentanyl is in their dose nor how much of their drug has been laced. This can lead to accidentally taking too much fentanyl and, in turn, overdosing on it.

It’s important to inform yourself of the overdose symptoms commonly caused by fentanyl in case an emergency requires. [9] These symptoms include:

  • Blue fingernails
  • Blue lips
  • Cold or clammy skin
  • Confusion
  • Gray or ashen skin
  • Intense drowsiness
  • Low blood pressure
  • Pinpoint pupils
  • Slow, irregular breathing
  • Slow, irregular heartbeat
  • Unconsciousness

If you or anyone you know faces an overdose, you need to call emergency services immediately. A drug overdose occurs when someone takes too much of a drug or is sensitive to a specific drug. [10] Usually, in terms of an opioid overdose, someone has taken so much that they’re not reactive to stimulation or breathing is insufficient.

Overdose Awareness: What You Need to Know about Drug Overdose. - YouTube

The reason for this is that opioids attach themselves to receptors which are responsible for the unconscious drive to breathe. When someone doesn’t breath – or isn’t breathing enough – oxygen levels within the bloodstream begin to decline.

Eventually, without oxygen in the bloodstream, the body’s important organs like the heart and brain begin to shut down. This is what leads to unconsciousness and, potentially, death. An overdose death can happen within minutes and there’s only so much time to react when someone is experiencing an overdose. This is why it’s extremely vital to contact emergency services as soon as you’re aware someone is having a drug overdose.

Fentanyl Statistics

Since 2000, fentanyl has seen a sharp increase in use and overdose deaths, with a particular spike starting in 2013. [11] The following statistics are composed based on fentanyl use and overdose in numerous locations.

  • In Australia, between the years of 2000 and 2011, 136 died due to fentanyl-related deaths – 54% of those people had previously injected drugs and 95% had died due to injected fentanyl.
  • In 2016, there were 42,249 overdose deaths caused by opioids in the U.S. 45.9% off those deaths were caused by synthetic opioids, such as fentanyl. In the same year, 17,087 overdose deaths were due to prescription opioid use. 23.7% were caused by synthetic opioids.
  • In 2016, there were 10,375 cocaine overdose deaths. 40.3% of those deaths were caused by synthetic opioids.
  • In 2016, there were 7,542 psychostimulant overdose stimulants. 13.8% of those deaths were caused by synthetic opioids.
  • In 2016, there were 10,684 benzodiazepine overdose deaths. 31% of those deaths were caused by synthetic opioids.
  • In 2016, there were 4,812 antidepressants overdose deaths. 20.8% of those deaths were caused by synthetic opioids.

As we can see, fentanyl overdose deaths don’t solely revolve around heroin use. Though the number of people overdosing due to heroin laced with fentanyl is high, there are numerous other drugs mixed with fentanyl which, in turn, have resulted in overdose deaths. Therefore, the problem of fentanyl is a problem of its own rather than one solely revolving around the opioid epidemic.

Basics to Drug Addiction Treatment

The best way to work towards sobriety is to enter a drug rehabilitation program. Within a treatment program, you can expect to go through two steps which are meant to guarantee you never use drugs again. The first is detox and the second is psychotherapies.

Detox is when your body rids itself of the chemical structure attach to your drug of choice and rework itself back to its normal, organic state – homeostasis. Due to this chemical naturally experiences withdrawal symptoms. Usually, fentanyl withdrawal symptoms start 24 hours after your last dose and symptoms will incline for around 2-3 days and then slowly taper off. Withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Abdominal cramping
  • Agitation
  • Anxiety
  • Diarrhea
  • Dilated pupils
  • Goosebumps
  • Headache
  • Increased tearing
  • Insomnia
  • Muscle and joint aches
  • Nausea
  • Restlessness
  • Runny nose
  • Sweating
  • Vomiting
  • Yawning

Withdrawals can be very uncomfortable and it’s important you do so under medical supervision. This will ensure you receive the best treatment for your condition and medications which can help with easing symptoms and cravings.

It should be noted that some people experience post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS), particularly in people who’ve been using for a long period of time and take high doses. [12] This is when symptoms persist for weeks or months after the initial detox but aren’t usually as severe.

After detox, you can expect to attend psychotherapy, mainly talk therapy. The purpose of these is to teach you how to handle life stressors and other emotions without the use of drugs. By discussing how you feel with professionals, you’ll better understand your behavior and what has affected you to initially be attracted to drugs. Furthermore, you can learn what to do to reduce cravings.

Where to Find Help

It can be difficult to know where to turn in order to find help.

However, there are a large number of resources available. To begin, you’ll want to contact your doctor or physician as they can provide a referral for addiction treatment centers near you.  As you go about this process, look for detox clinics first . You’ll also want to seek out the most competent and experienced clinical psychologists for the psychotherapy segment of your treatment. Finally, seek out support groups to round out the treatment arsenal.

Here’s where to find medical professionals:

If you’re looking to talk to someone immediately, you can check out the following Helplines:

  • Call our helpline.
  • National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence HopeLine 1-800-475-HOPE (4673)
  • National Institute on Drug Abuse – Drug and Treatment Information 1-800-6224357
  • National Suicide Prevention Helpline 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or 800-SUICIDE (784-2433)
  • Substance Abuse Helpline (available 24/7) 1-800-923-4327

Furthermore, you can always call us. We know addiction. We’re happy to help!

Don’t struggle alone.

Reach out before it’s too late.

Your Questions

If you have any further questions pertaining to the skyrocketing deaths caused by fentanyl or drug addiction, we invite you to ask them below. If you have advice to give or further information on these topics, we’d also love to hear from you. We try to reply to everyone in a prompt and personal manner. From there, you can begin looking at different types of treatment programs and come to a decision as to which one is right for you.

Reference Sources: [1] NIDA: Drug Facts: Fentanyl
[2] Medline Plus: Fentanyl
[3] DEA: Street Names for Fentanyl
[4] NIDA for Teens: Opioids and the Brain
[5] NIDA: Definition of Tolerance
[6] NIDA: The Science of Drug Use and Addiction
[7] NIDA: Health Consequences of Drug Misuse
[8] NIDA: Bringing the Power of Science to Bear on Drug Abuse and Addiction
[9] CDC: Drug Overdose
[10] Harm Reduction.org: Overdose Basics, What is an Overdose?
[11] NIDA: Overdose Death Rates
[12] UCLA Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior: PAWS
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ARTICLE SUMMARY: These guidelines will help you bring hope and healing to clients who may be in the midst of a battle with opioid addiction and dependency, stemming from chronic pain.

ESTIMATED READING TIME: 7 Minutes.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

The Need to Talk
 Although I have written at length about The Opioid Crisis, it remains a long-term public health concern for Americans. In fact, the latest death toll estimates from the CDC put the number at 72,000 fatalities from overdose in the first half of this year.

Chronic pain, which is one of the leading drivers of opioid overprescribing and subsequent addiction, affects 133 million Americans and 65% of them seek care for persistent pain at some point in their lives, reports the American Cancer Society. And the National Institutes of Health reports that an estimated $100 billion is spent annually to manage pain, including healthcare expenses, lost income, and lost productivity at work and home.

Since this is an issue that impacts many families, friends colleagues, and loved ones in every stretch of the country, I’ve developed some tips for opening honest dialogue about this issue for healthcare professionals, clinicians and therapists to talk with their clients.

Guidelines for Talking to Clients

As a clinician and interventionist, I know first-hand how it can be difficult to broach this topic in an informed and compassionate manner. However, with these guidelines you’ll be able to bring hope and healing to clients who may be in the midst of a battle with opioid addiction and dependency, stemming from chronic pain.

1. Meet Your Client Where They Are.
 I recently wrote The Definitive Guide to Addiction Intervention: Collective Strategies. In this textbook, I discuss the importance of starting where your client is. This means understanding who they are, where they come from, their family dynamics, experiences and their place in the world. The best theory in the world won’t take into account this human element. With unique people, a multitude of cultures, gender expressions and the changes in our genetic diversity, we must embrace difference as a teacher. That way you can help plan a strategy that meets their unique needs, not a preconceived cereal box of a model.

This approach also leaves judgment at the door. Addiction – in all its forms – is a disease, not a moral failing, and should be discussed in terms of the best way to bring healing to the person experiencing the disease. When we do this, we see the person for who they are and that can open the door to recovery.

2. Understand Your Client’s Trauma and Talk About It.
 Trauma is defined as an overwhelming experience that cannot be integrated and elicits animal defense mechanisms and dysregulated arousal. It can come from a host of experiences – a car accident, a dislocated knee or strained back, physical and sexual abuse, etc.

Trauma can be both objective and subjective:

  • Objective trauma is the event that took place
  • Subjective trauma is how the person perceives what took place and the emotional aftershocks

When we understand and discuss the trauma that took place, we then see how the door was opened to an opioid misuse problem. For example, a client may be a collegiate baseball player who tore his rotator cuff during a game. He undergoes two surgeries to fix the rotator cuff and is prescribed pain killers to aid in the healing process. But the player does not want to miss any more games, so he misuses the amount of painkillers he should take in order to “play through the pain” and stay in the game. As such, he develops an addiction and continues to take pills long after the rotator cuff healed. That you discuss the trauma in relation to the client’s pressure to succeed as a baseball player illuminates a detailed treatment plan for recovery.

3. Teach Your Clients About Opioids and Chronic Pain.
  • The National Survey on Drug Use & Health found that 92 million US adults, or about 38 percent of the population, took a legitimately prescribed opioid like OxyContin or Percocet in 2015. Prescription opioids are easy to come by and are impacting people from all walks of life.
  • 11.5 million people, or nearly 5 percent of the population, misused prescription opioids they obtained through illicit means.
  • In 2015 more than one third of all adults were prescribed opioids.
  • Over 259 million prescriptions were written in 2012, which is enough to give nearly every person in the US regardless of their age their own prescription bottle
  • A study authored by Bradley Martin, a professor of pharmaceutical evaluation and policy at the University of Arkansas for Medical Science, found that with a one-day supply of prescription painkillers, there’s about a six percent chance “of being on opioids for a year or longer.” A five-day supply jumps to 10 percent. And a ten-day supply bumps the user to a 20 percent chance they’ll still be using a year later.
  • Pain has been considered the fifth vital sign. That being said, 90 percent of all pain is emotion.
  • The differences between acute & chronic pain. See chart below:

4. Educate Your Clients on Alternative Pain Management Solutions.
 There are emerging evidenced based methods to help individuals, including:
  •  CBT
  • Breathing exercises
  • Qi chong
  • Physical therapy
  • Acupuncture
  • Mindfulness

A study published in the journal Addiction in 2016 by a team from the Veterans Administration Ann Arbor Healthcare System’s Center for Clinical Management Research found a non-drug approach that combines psychological therapies with a social element. In the study, 55 veterans took part in therapy rooted in the psychological theories of pain and felt the effects last up to a year.

The theory behind this approach is a self-management of pain. According to Medline Plus, the person experiencing the chronic pain needs help learning to think, feel, and do better, despite the persistence of pain. Self-management programs engage the individual in problem-solving, pacing, decision-making, and taking action to manage their pain. And they do it in a supportive environment where the social element plays a huge role because research shows that there is a link between pain and depression. Pain is responsive to mood and mood is responsive to social support, thus working through pain in a social environment posts strong results in healing.

With research showing that the support of others aids in recovery, centers willing to address the issues of pain management and recovery, and the medical community rethinking how opioids are prescribed, there are new ways developing to more effectively deal with chronic pain and the mental health and lifestyle issues that arise from these conditions.

Another alternative pain management solution that is gaining traction is meditation. Scott Weiss, clinical director at Bodhizone Physical Therapy and Wellness in New York City, who works with professional athletes, regularly prescribes meditation. “People often find meditation hard to swallow,” Weiss tells Outside Magazine, “but with the right instructor, they can start finding relief in just one session.” In fact, Weiss claims that half of the injured athletes he sees use meditation, and of those, 80% report reduced pain.

A Call to Action
 I urge all of my colleagues in behavioral health care to rethink how we talk to our clients about opioids. We must educate them on the risks of taking prescription opioids, open up honest dialogue, and work with friends, families, coworkers and communities to promote lasting change. Lastly, since chronic pain is a leading driver of opioid use and opens the door to addiction, we must educate our clients in alternative pain management forms to promote healthier ways of living. These changes begin with open dialogue with our clients, so we can work through this crisis together.

If you have a client that is experiencing difficulty with depression, anxiety ,chronic pain and/or opioid misuse, please give me a call. There is hope and solutions!

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ARTICLE OVERVIEW: Opiates are a highly addictive drugs that trigger intense withdrawal. This article describes what you need to know if you want to detox from an opiate…and where to get medical help.

TABLE OF CONTENTS:

What Happens To Your Brain?

Opiates are chemical compounds that are extracted or refined from natural poppy plants. Examples of opiates are:

  • Codeine
  • Heroin
  • Morphine
  • Opium

Opiates act by attaching to specific proteins called opioid receptors, which are found on nerve cells in the brain, spinal cord, gastrointestinal tract, and other organs in the body. When opiates attach to their receptors, they reduce the perception of pain and can produce a sense of well-being.

With repeated administration of these drugs, the production of endogenous opioids is inhibited, which accounts in part for the discomfort that ensues when the drugs are discontinued. Repeated exposure to opiates alters the brain so that it functions normally when the drugs are present and abnormally when they are not.

Opiates physically change the brain. 

Opiate drugs cause physical dependence. This means that a person relies on the drug to prevent withdrawal symptoms. Over time, more of the drug is needed for the same effect. This is called “drug tolerance”. When the person stops taking the drugs, the body needs time to recover, and withdrawal symptoms result.

Withdrawal from opiates can occur any time long-term use is stopped or cut back.

Read on for more on what to expect as the body goes through withdrawal.

What Happens To Your Body?

If you are thinking about quitting opiates, you probably don’t want to go through withdrawal. Withdrawal is like a really bad flue. But, there are medications that can help!

Early symptoms of opiates withdrawal include:

  • Agitation
  • Anxiety
  • Muscle aches
  • Increased tearing
  • Insomnia
  • Runny nose
  • Sweating
  • Yawning

Later symptoms of opiates withdrawal include:

  • Abdominal cramping
  • Diarrhea
  • Dilated pupils
  • Goose bumps
  • Nausea.
  • Vomiting
Call us to learn more about your detox options.

These symptoms are very uncomfortable, but are not life-threatening, and usually start within 12 hours of your last opiate dose. Physical symptoms will dissipate within the first couple of weeks, but a psychological need for drugs might remain. In fact, these “cravings” can be present long after you’ve stopped using.

Mood and sleep disorders can also continue in the weeks and months after you quit an opiate. As situations arise in your day-to-day life, stress can trigger potential cravings. So, even months or years after you finish acute withdrawal, protracted symptoms can persist.

The most commonly reported protracted symptoms include:

  • Anxiety.
  • Cravings.
  • Disturbed sleep.
  • Irritability.
  • Mood swings.
  • Tiredness, variable energy, low enthusias.
  • Variable concentration.
Duration

You can expect to start to feel opiate withdrawal 12 hours after your last dose. The severity of withdrawal peaks around Day 2 and can last between 5-7 days. The degree and time you spend in opiate withdrawal will varies by person and is based on drug use history, how much were in the system, your age, gender, weight, and metabolism factors.

Timeline

The physical symptoms of withdrawal start 6 to 24 hours after last use, peak in severity during days two to four, and generally subside by day seven. However, psychological features of dysphoria, anxiety, sleep disturbances and increased cravings may continue for weeks or even months.

Day 1: Early Withdrawal

Onset is within 6-12 hours for short-acting opiates and can include:

  • Agitation
  • Anxiety
  • Excesive yawning
  • Fever
  • Hypertension
  • Muscle aches
  • Nose running
  • Racing heart
  • Sweats
  • Tearing up

Days 2-3: Middle Withdrawal

During this time, the peak of severe symptoms begin and can include:

  • Abdominal cramping
  • Blurry vision
  • Diarrhea
  • Dilated pupils
  • Goose bumps
  • High blood pressure
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Rapid heartbeat

Day 3-7: Late Withdrawal

Late withdrawal symptoms peak and usually last week or so, and include:

  • Depression
  • Diarrhea
  • Drug cravings
  • Goosebumps
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Stomach cramps
Dangers

While it’s rare to die from withdrawal or detox, death is a possible side effect. Suicidal ideation, possible violence, and even hallucinations can occur. For this reason, it’s recommended that anyone who’s planning a opiate withdrawal detox at a medical facility.

“The major drawback of opiate use is the potential for abuse and addiction.”

Opiate abuse, addiction, and overdoses are serious public health problems in the United States. In 2016, more Americans died due to opiates overdoses than car crashes.[1] And the risk of overdose increases if you try to detox from opiates on your own. During detox, you lower tolerance for opiates…and this can result in problems if you relapse.

More below on why you need to seek help anytime you want to come off an opiate.

Can You Do It Yourself?

Withdrawal from these drugs on your own can be very hard and may be risky and very dangerous. If you try to go through withdrawal on your own, you’ll need to be prepared. Always seek medical supervision during an opiate detox.

You can try to slowly taper off before you go off completely, but you’ll need some suggested guidelines from a prescribing doctor or pharmacist first. This might limit the intensity of your withdrawal. However, given the compulsive nature of addiction, most people find self-regulated tapering to be impossible. It often leads to a full relapse into addiction.

Plus, if you relapse…you also risk overdose. When you lower your tolerance, you increase the risk of overdose during a relapse. Users who do not realize they may have lost their tolerance during a period of abstinence may initially take the high dosage that they previously had used before quitting, a dosage that produces an overdose in the person who no longer has tolerance.

Medical treatment of opiate withdrawal most often involves medicines, counseling, and support. This is the safest way to get off the drugs. Together, you can discuss your care and treatment goals with a doctor. Why risk it? Be safe!

Where To Detox?

Withdrawal can take place in a number of settings:

  1. In a detox clinic.
  2. In a regular hospital, if symptoms are severe.
  3. At home with medical supervision (in rare cases).

It’s possible to withdraw at home when you do not have access to a detox clinic. In these cases, you might consider managing the withdrawal on an outpatient basis with a supervising physician.

Detoxing from opiates is best done at a medical detox clinic and inpatient rehab center. This is the safest option, for both one’s mental and physical health. Medically assisted detox also has higher rates of success than other methods; alternatives can be risky at best and even life-threatening at worst.

Medications That Can Help

While opiates dependence has more treatment agents available than other abused drugs, none are curative. They can, however, markedly diminish withdrawal symptoms and craving, and block opiates effects due to lapses.

Withdrawal Agents

Buprenorphine is long-acting, safe, and effective by the sublingual route, but may precipitate withdrawal symptoms if given too soon after an opiates agonist.[2] Buprenorphine may be combined with Naloxone (Bunavail, Suboxone, Zubsolv), which helps prevent dependence and misuse.

Methadone  allows people to recover from their addiction and to reclaim active and meaningful lives.[2] For optimal results, persons should also participate in a comprehensive medication-assisted treatment (MAT) program that includes counseling and social support.[3]

Methadone therapy achieves this by preventing opiate withdrawal symptoms, blocking the euphoric effects, and minimizing the craving. Methadone maintenance has been shown to reduce illicit opiates use, decrease the incidence of infectious disease (such as HIV and hepatitis) commonly contracted through needle sharing, reduce criminal activity, improve social outcome, and reduce mortality.

Naltrexone blocks the euphoric and sedative effects of drugs such as opiates.[4] It works differently in the body than buprenorphine and methadone, which activate opioid receptors in the body that suppress cravings. Naltrexone binds and blocks opioid receptors, decreases reactivity to drug-conditioned cues, and decreases craving.

Other Detoxification Agents And Methods

Clonidine is an antihypertensive. Clonidine is used to help reduce anxiety, agitation, muscle aches, sweating, runny nose, and cramping.[2] It does not help reduce cravings. Since clonidine has mild analgesic effects, added analgesia may not be needed during the withdrawal period for medical opiates addicts. Compared with methadone-aided withdrawal clonidine has more side effects, especially hypotension, but is lessnlikely to lead to post-withdrawal rebound.

Lofexidine.[2] The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Lucemyra (lofexidine hydrochloride) for the mitigation of withdrawal symptoms to facilitate abrupt discontinuation of opiatess in adults.[5] While Lucemyra may lessen the severity of withdrawal symptoms, it may not completely prevent them and is only approved for treatment for up to 14 days. Lucemyra is not a treatment for opiate use disorder, but can be used as part of a broader, long-term treatment plan for managing opiate use disorder.

Treating Common Symptoms:

There are symptomatic medications that may be helpful for treat uncomfortable symptoms like nausea, vomiting, insomnia, diarrhea, muscle pain and depression. If you are in the process of detoxification of opiates, and present any of these symptoms, consult your treating physician to assess whether any of the treatment options presented here may work for you.

Q: What to do for nausea and vomiting?

A: Prochlorperazine or ondansetron are recommended for nausea and vomiting related to opiate withdrawal.

Q: What to do for insomnia?

A: Insomnia is both common and debilitating. Clonazepam, trazodone, and zolpidem have all been used for withdrawal-related insomnia, but the decision to use a benzodiazepine needs to be made carefully, especially for outpatient detoxification.

Q; What to do for diarrhea?

A; With your doctor’s supervision, several over-the-counter medications can help with acute withdrawal-related diarrhea if your symptoms are not severe. Common over-the-counter medications include Bismuth subsalicylate (Pepto-Bismol and Kaopectate) and Loperamide (Imodium).

Q: What to do for muscle pain?

A: Muscle aches often respond well to home treatment, like:

  • Applying ice to the affected area relieve pain and improve inflammation.
  • Resting the area of the body where you are experiencing aches and pains.
  • Taking an over-the-counter pain reliever, such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (ibuprofen or ketorolac tromethamine).

Q: What to do for depression?

A: The relationship between opiates abuse and depression is bi-directional, meaning that suffering from one increases the risk of the other. When seeking treatment for opiates abuse and depression, you first may need to seek immediate medical attention to address the withdrawal symptoms of opiates and also, talk to your doctor about programs that address the dual diagnosis simultaneously.

Effective inpatient or outpatient treatment programs typically include:

  • A treatment plan tailored to your individual needs.
  • Family psychoeducation and counseling.
  • Follow up support.
  • Intensive individual counseling.
  • Medication options for both opiates replacement and depression.
  • Onsite medical assistance and support.
  • Peer group support for addiction and depression.
Do You Have Questions?

Do you still have questions about opiates detox? Please share your questions and experiences with opiates in the comments section below. We’ll try to respond to you personally and promptly.

Reference Source: [1] Opioids: Confronting the Opioid Crisis in the U.S.
[2] NCBI Pharmacologic Treatments for Opioid Dependence: Detoxification and Maintenance options.
[3] SAMHSA: Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT)
[4] SAMHSA: Naltrexone
[5] FDA News Release
MEDLINE PLUS: Opioid and opioid withdrawal
NCBI: Maintenance medication for opiate addiction
NCBI: Medicines used in alcohol and opioid dependence
NCBI: The neurobiology of opioid dependence
NCBI: Withdrawal management
NIDA: America’s addiction to opioids
NIDA: Effective treatments for opioid addiction
NIDA: FDA approves first medication to reduce opioid withdrawal symptoms
NIDA: Opioids
SA HEALTH: Opioid withdrawal management
SAMHSA: Opioids
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ARTICLE OVERVIEW: Ultram is the brand name for tramadol, an opioid drug that is addictive. This article outlines the steps to take when dealing with addiction, including basics on education, intervention, and referral for help.

ESTIMATED READING TIME: 10 Minutes.

Table of Contents:

What Addiction Really Is
Because of stigma, there’s often the misconception that addiction is a choice. The thinking goes: a person choses to take a drug, therefore, they chose their path to addiction. However, this is anything but true.

People don’t choose to be addicted. Rather, their body and brain adapt to the chemical structure of drugs in a way that’s usually unexpected. When it comes to Ultram, the drug alters opioid receptors in the brain. In turn, this creates create pain relief sensations and pleasurable feelings. And because it can cause euphoria, people develop a habit with Ultram to replicate the good high it brings.

Eventually, people need Ultram in order to feel normal.

This is how we properly define addiction. Still, an addiction is quite different from a drug dependence.

Dependence or Addiction?
To begin, there are many out there who don’t become addicted to Ultram. This is because it has therapeutic use. However, because a doctor must prescribe tramadol and, depending on the doctor him/herself, there’s no telling how much of a prescription someone will get. Some people can develop an addiction while others simply develop a dependence.

So, what’s the difference?

  • Drug dependence is when the brain and body have adapted to Ultram’s chemical structure and may continue to develop a tolerance. This means that you may need more of the drug in order to feel the initial therapeutic effect. Dependence manifests as withdrawal when the drug is taken away. People who are dependent, however, do not crave tramadol.
  • An addiction is when Ultram use has become compulsive. The user craves the drug, and uses it as a way of coping with life. Often, addiction is pushed to the point of bringing harmful consequences. People struggling with an Ultram addiction have the inability to stop despite it resulting in negative effective on their responsibility.

The main danger in an Ultram dependence is that it’ll carry over into an Ultram addiction or an addiction for other drugs. This is a major concern when it comes to America’s Opioid Epidemic. Since the 1990’s, pharmaceutical companies have been prescribing opioid substances, such as Ultram at greater rates. In turn, this has gotten people addicted to the point of them finding their fix through other means. Some shop for multiple doctors while others hit the streets and the illicit market.

How to Identify a Problem

As a loved one, you need to be concerned about an Ultram dependence as it can lead to much greater consequences. Still, you might wonder, “Is my loved one already addicted to Ultram?” There are a few questions to ask him/her in order to find out:

  • Have you ever tried to quit Ultram without having success?
  • Do you find yourself craving to use Ultram?
  • Are your responsibilities (i.e. school, work, family) at risk due to your Ultram use?
  • Have you continued to use Ultram despite it causing problems in your relationship (i.e. significant other, family, friends)?
  • Do you find yourself in risky behavior due to the fact that you use Ultram?
  • Do you spend a large amount of time thinking about, obtaining, and/or using Ultram?

If your loved one answers yes to one or more of the above questions, there’s a good chance they’re facing an Ultram addiction rather than a dependence.

Still, you may come into the trouble of your loved one not admitting to their drug use. Not only is it difficult to get the truth out of a person struggling with addiction, but it’s also hard to tell the signs and symptoms of addiction for yourself.

Helping Address Denial

Denial is an obstacle which can be tricky to work around. Many people aren’t aware of how to handle it. We suggest that you call in the experts. The first step you should take is to seek professional guidance FOR YOURSELF. Preferably, with a licensed clinical psychologist or counselor who has experience with addiction and can address denial sucessfully.

Call us to learn how treatment can help break the cycle of “pretending”. By receiving help, you’ll learn how you can:
  • Building boundaries.
  • Comprehend addiction as a brain disorder.
  • Discuss addiction recovery at the right time.
  • Remain safe around a person struggling with addiction.
  • Understand addiction as a family issue.

In the process of developing your knowledge for addiction, you’ll also gain a perspective as to why someone doesn’t want to quit a drug – even when it’s caused so many negative consequences. But the idea is that a professional ALREADY KNOWS the barriers to treatment. Each objection will be met with a counter-objection.

Call us to learn how to work with a professional interventionist.

You are not alone!

Intervention Basics
Many times, the most efficient way of breaking denial is through an intervention. Much of the time, people are ashamed of their addiction. Therefore, they won’t approach you about it unless circumstance forces them to. For example, a close-to-fatal car accident caused by addiction could leave your loved one in enough despair to desperately seek help. Understandably, it’s in your best interest to avoid this.

Interventions are a great way to get the person struggling to realize they aren’t alone. That they do have a support system to quit and they don’t need to be ashamed for having a disease. In order to receive the best intervention advice, it’s suggested you seek out a professional interventionist.

As you prepare for your intervention, heavily consider the following:

  • Carefully choose who will attend.
  • Get some advice before you begin.
  • Plan communication in advance.
  • Prepare for anything.
  • Prepare to suggest consequences.
  • Provide your loved one with a solution.
  • Follow through after the intervention.
Help During Detox
Ultram detox is when the brain returns to its natural, original state – homeostasis. Though this isn’t a dangerous process, it can be extremely uncomfortable. Furthermore, there are some withdrawal symptoms which can be dangerous (such as a loss of appetite, seizure,  or diarrhea/vomiting) if not properly taken care of.
In order to give your loved one the best detox possible,  make sure they go through withdrawal under medical supervision. This will ensure their health remains in good standing. There may even be options to reduce the severity of withdrawal symptoms.

Because drug dependence is highly individual, so is detox. There’s no telling exactly which ones your loved one will feel. Here’s a list of common tramadol withdrawal symptoms:

  • Abdominal cramps
  • Agitation
  • Anxiety
  • Blurred vision
  • Confusion
  • Cravings
  • Depression
  • Diarrhea
  • Dizziness
  • Headaches
  • Insomnia
  • Irritability
  • Loss of appetite
  • Mood swings
  • Muscle pain
  • Nausea
  • Nightmares
  • Sweating
  • Tremors
  • Vomiting

Any of the above symptoms can last between 1-2 weeks. Generally, they start around 6-12 hours after the last dose of Ultram. Symptoms peak during the following 72 hours, when they’ll experience their most uncomfortable state. 4 days to a week later, the physical symptoms die down while the psychological symptoms just get started.

Craving, compulsion, and urge are addressed via psychotherapies. In fact, intensive talk therapy can last anywhere from 1-6 months, depending on your loved one’s level of addiction. Most people continue therapy for at least a year after initial treatment.

Help During Treatment
Psychotherapy is designed to help Ultram users adjust back into their day-to-day functioning without drugs. This is done through teaching how to handle emotions and behaviors and how to reduce cravings.

Psychotherapy play a major role in the addiction treatment process. It’s the basis for how your loved one with face the real world once they’re out of treatment. There’s really no way to change behavior except through practice. So, most therapies include, but aren’t limited to:

  • Family therapies
  • Group therapies
  • Individual counseling

Your role during this stage of treatment is vital. It’s when your loved needs support the most. They need to be aware that they aren’t alone in their battle. They need to have someone to depend on when things get too complicated. Things you can do to ensure your loved one gets the best out of treatment is:

  • Be present at family therapies.
  • Promote healthy and natural remedies for drug addiction.
  • Always be there when things get difficult.
How Many People Struggle?
Ultram and other tramadol drugs are considerably a small percentage of the overall prescription crisis. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, tramadol medications had a downfall misuse rate amongst high school students in 2011. To this day, the decline remains steady. About 10% of total pain relievers abused on the market include tramadol , affecting 3.2 million people in 2014.

The World Health Organization also lists these facts:

  • When tramadol was first made available (between the years of 1995 to 1998), it was only abused 1 out of every 3 cases per 100,000.
  • This number dropped in 1999 and 2000 to 1 out of every 100,00 cases.
  • In 2004, tramadol misuse kept low and has consistently since then.

The bottom line is Ultram isn’t one of the most abused prescription medications out there. Still, that’s not to say you shouldn’t warn those who receive a medication about the risk of addiction. Nor should you overlook potential misuse in someone you love.

Referrals to Help (Where to Find Help)
There ares everal ways to seek help for a drug addiction. Depending on your location, you’ll want to look into treatment facilities and professionals in drug addiction. In order to narrow your searches, here are some great resources:
How to Support a Friend
Friends of people addicted to Ultram have an important role in the recovery process. The sense of support from a friend differs from that of a family member.Your goal, once your friend is out of treatment, is to prevent all possibility of relapse. This can include:
  • Socializing in drug/alcohol free atmospheres
  • Going to Narcotics Anonymous (NA) meetings or other therapies with your friend
  • Offering new hobbies as a means of distraction

You may also want to concern yourself with any mental health issues that could arise due to your friend’s prior addiction. Though this doesn’t happen to everyone, some people end up in states of depression or anxiety due to the lack of Ultram in their system. Your best interest is to help them cope with these emotions and offering a source of support when they need it. This can have a great impact on them and make a huge difference.

Your Questions
If you have any further questions pertaining to how to help an Ultram addict, we invite you to ask them in the comments below. If you have any advice to give for people currently trying to help an Ultram addict, we’d also love to hear from you. We try to provide a personal response to each comment and get back to you promptly.
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ARTICLE SUMMARY: Yes, it can be dangerous to quit lorzepam, especially if you are physically dependent on it. During withdrawal you might experience symptoms such as agitation, anxiety, irritability, occasional seizures, or sleeplessness. More here on safety protocols for withdrawal and detox.

ESTIMATED READING TIME: 5 minutes.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Main Uses

Lorazepam is therapeutically used to treat:

  • Active seizures
  • Anxiety disorders
  • During alcohol withdrawal
  • During surgery for sedation
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Trouble sleeping

When used as prescribed, lorazepam is helpful in regulating panic attacks and other anxiety-driven disorders. Lorazepam affects receptors in the brain called GABA. The increase of GABA neurotransmitters in the brain create calmness. This way nerve activity in the brain reaches balance and enables people to sleep normally.

As lorazepam increases the activity of GABA in the brain, it also increases its calming effect so users become more and more sleepy.

As a depressant, lorazepam is also commonly prescribed to people diagnosed with anxiety. Psychological disorders, including anxiety are caused by an intensified nerve activity in the brain. Lorazepam works by stimulating neurotransmitters that reduce the number of “anxiety messages” traveling across synapses in the brain.

These effects are only beneficial if lorazepam is taken on a short term notice. When used for more than 4 months, the medication is known to create tolerance (lost responsiveness to lorazepam sedative effects). Repeated long-term use can lead to addiction.

How Addictive Is Lorazepam?

Lorazepam is a highly addictive benzodiazepine.

This is the reason why doctors prescribe lorazepam for no longer than 4 months. Lorazepam is intended as a short term benzodiazepine because users easily develop tolerance to this medication. With continued use, dependence can quickly progress to addiction influencing a person’s entire life. Signs of physical dependence are usually noticed early on, but the psychological effects of dependence tend to occur later and are longer-lasting.

What Makes Stopping Lorazepam Hard?

Users find it difficult to stop Lorazepam use without professional help due to physical dependence and the troubling withdrawal process. Since lorazepam causes physical dependence very quickly, some people may want to stop taking this medication immediately. However, this is not a good idea!

Going cold turkey on a powerful benzodiazepine such as lorazepam is NOT recommended. Any rapid method of cessation can worsen your withdrawal symptoms and lead to health complications. Instead of putting yourself in danger, ask for medical assistance when you decide you want to stop using lorazepam.

NOTE: Users won’t be able to just stop taking this medication without tapering first. It is best to detox from lorazepam in a safe and medically supervised environment.

What Makes Stopping Lorazepam Dangerous?

There are three situations that make quitting lorazepam dangerous.

1. Cold turkey lorazepam withdrawal.

If you have been taking lorazepam regularly for a while DO NOT go cold turkey off it! Benzodiazepine withdrawal can be very serious; it has been reported to trigger convulsions and hallucinations in some cases. Instead of rapid cessation try gradual dose reduction. Contact your doctor and create a tapering plan that will help you reduce your doses until you quit lorazepam completely.

2. Stopping lorazepam without medical supervision.

It is not advised that you stop taking lorazepam without checking with your doctor first due to the troubling withdrawal symptoms. Instead of exposing yourself to unneeded risk, gradually reducing doses with guidance is key to your safety. This may help you prevent difficulty. Plus, stopping this medication without medical supervision increases the chances of relapse and leads people back into using.

3. Lowering doses of lorazepam suddenly and abruptly.

Discontinuing lorazepam therapy suddenly and abruptly can lead to severe reactions including: mood changes, anxiety, and restlessness. Individuals who have suddenly lowered lorazepam amounts or frequency can require immediate medical assistance. Abrupt lorazepam withdrawal is usually associated with potentially life-threatening effects and therefore you should NEVER try it!

Quitting Lorazepam Side Effects

Those who’ve used lorazepam chronically – for longer than a few months – develop drug dependence, which makes it difficult to quit due to withdrawal symptoms.

Lorazepam withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Anxiety
  • Concentration problems
  • Confusion
  • Depersonalization
  • Depression
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Hallucinations
  • Headaches
  • Insomnia
  • Irritability
  • Memory problems
  • Mood swings
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Psychosis
  • Seizures
  • Suicidal thinking
Safety Suggestions

Regardless of the challenging withdrawal it is possible to quit lorazepam under proper medical care. The listed methods are considered safe and effective when you decide you want to stop using for good.

1. Quitting lorazepam under medical supervision

Lorazepam withdrawal is rarely done at home due to the intensive need of medical supervision, however if you get a doctor’s clearance – then you may be permitted to go through withdrawal at home following your doctor’s orders. During lorazepam withdrawal at home you are obligated to regularly visit your doctor’s office and run some checkup tests to make sure everything you are doing is safe and in accordance with your doctor recommends.

2. Tapering lorazepam

Tapering is a medical practice of dose reduction when users become physically dependent on a medication as a result of long-term use. Tapering off lorazepam means that you’ll drop your dose every 2 weeks to avoid feeling withdrawals so strong. Gradual tapering schedules include:

  • Dropping 1/8 of your current dose every two weeks.
  • Dropping 1/4 of your current dose every 2 weeks.

Tapering is beneficial because it gives your body and brain time to gradually adapt to small changes. Tapering plans are unique for each individual, created along with a doctor, and tailored to a patient’s individual needs.

3. Lorazepam detox clinic

In order to free your body from lorazepam, the most frequently recommended and safe way to do so is by checking into the nearest detox clinic. Detox centers are designed to provide you with all the resources you need safely come off drugs in a 24-7 monitored setting. The right detox program can help you manage the physical aspects of lorazepam withdrawal and provide you with the medical assistance you need during difficult times.

4. Inpatient lorazepam treatment

A proper treatment program and a support system can help you successfully overcome any addiction issues you have with the drug. Inpatient treatment facilities have structured programs that will help you remain sober and succeed in maintaining your health and well being. Lorazepam rehab centers offer medical expertise and counseling and a variety of therapy approaches such as:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy
  • Group counseling
  • Holistic therapy
  • One-on-one counseling
  • 12-step programs

Rehabs also provide proper nutrition and medications needed in order to detox. Additionally, inpatient hospitalization gives you the time to rest and get healthy. Inpatient treatment programs typically last from 30 to 90 days. Residential program lengths can be longer or shorter that this timeline depending on your individual needs and progress.

Your Questions

Still have questions?

If you still have questions about lorazepam quitting dangers please leave them in the designated section below. We try to answer all legitimate inquiries personally and promptly. In case we don’t know the answer to a question, we will gladly refer you to professionals who can help.

Reference Sources: Lorazepam Abuse Help: How Does Lorazepam Addiction Affect the Brain?
Net Doctor: Ativan (lorazepam)
Mental Health Daily: Ativan (Lorazepam) Withdrawal Symptoms + Duration
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ARTICLE OVERVIEW: Methadone is administered as part of Narcotic Treatment Programs in Texas. Combined with counseling and talk therapies, the medicine can offer numerous benefits for people addicted to opiates. We review more about the process of receiving methadone and where to find it in Texas here.

TABLE OF CONTENTS:

What is Narcotic Treatment?

The State of Texas calls use of methadone for addiction “narcotic treatment”.  It’s a form of medication assisted treatment. During narcotic treatment, you take prescribed medications in combination with counseling and talk therapy to treat opiate or opioid use disorder.

So, what is methadone? How does it work?

Methadone is a synthetic, long-acting opioid that works by acting on the brain receptors. It “covers” nerve receptors so that if you take strong drugs, you don’t get high. In the same way, methadone can dull withdrawal symptoms and drug cravings. It is a Schedule II controlled substance…which means that it is habit forming and has the potential for possible addiction if not used as directed. [1]

Public health officials consider medication assisted treatment one of many solutions that can help the growing number of people in the U.S. addicted to opioids. However, use of methadone is controversial. While it can be essential, some people abuse it. That’s why this type of treatment shouldn’t be limited to medicines. Other services include case management and referrals to help with lifestyle changes.

How Methadone Clinics in Texas Work

Narcotic Treatment Programs in Texas are specialized medical clinics that use methadone or buprenorphine to help people reduce or quit their use of heroin or pain killer drugs. It is illegal to use methadone without a prescription, to sell or give it to someone else. There are also laws against forging or altering a prescription or making false representation to obtain methadone or a prescription for the drug. [2]

So, how do methadone clinics in Texas works?

STEP 1: Screening

You won’t be processed for admission as a patient of a methadone clinic until you have been determined eligible to enter an narcotic treatment program. So, you will be screened by a health care professional to see if you meet the criteria. Exception to this screening phase include pregnant women, patients who have resided in a penal or chronic care institution for one month or longer, and patients who have had two documented attempts at short-term detoxification or drug-free treatment.

The screening process can include a history of your drug use, a medical history, psychological and sociological background questions, educational and vocational achievements, current mental status, and a physical examination. Also, you should be 18 or older with moderate to severe opioid use disorder for at least 12 months in order to qualify to receive methadone.

STEP 2: Admission and Initial Evaluation

After it’s been determined that you meet the criteria for admission, you will be evaluated by the medical director or program physician and clinical staff trained and qualified to perform assessments. The purpose of the evaluation is to determine if methadone treatment is the most appropriate treatment for you. The evaluation usually includes an assessment of your medical, psychosocial, educational, and vocational needs.

STEP 3: Drug Testing

Before receiving methadone, you will have to submit an initial drug test. For the first year of treatment, you will have to submit random drug tests each month, and eight random drug abuse tests yearly afterward.

STEP 4: Treatment Planning

Based on the initial screening and evaluation, your primary counselor will create an individualized treatment plan. The treatment plan will be reviewed at least once each 90 days during the first year of treatment, and at least twice a year thereafter. Planning will include a dosing schedule and outline recommended prescription use. You’ll also be encouraged to seek counseling or talk therapy at the same time you are taking methadone.

Dosing and length of treatment

Typically, most people go to a methadone clinic on a daily basis, six days a week. How long treatment will last is different for each patient, but for methadone maintenance, 12 months is considered the minimum. Some people use methadone for many years. The cost of treatment will be based on your income and expenses, and you may need to pay for some services. If you comply with the rules of the program, you may be allowed a certain quantity of take-home doses. [3]

Counseling

Counseling and behavioral therapies are an essential part of a Narcotic Treatment Program. They can help you reach stability faster and become a productive member of society. They can help you focus on relapse prevention, gain control over your life and learn to live a drug-free life. Individual and group therapies, family and couples counseling are just some of the services you may be offered.

Regulation of Methadone

In order to ensure the safety of patients and the quality of services, the state of Texas has set up numerous laws and regulations that outline how methadone should be used. The Narcotic Treatment Section of the Patient Quality Care Unit is responsible for regulating and inspecting methadone clinics in Texas. There are currently 75 maintenance programs in Texas that treat around 11,000 opiate-addicted patients.

There are few things you should consider if you are enrolling in a Narcotic Treatment Program in Texas. If you become a patient at a methadone clinic, you should be informed of your rights. Here are some basic principles to keep in mind.

1. Every narcotic treatment program in Texas must have a state permit issued by the Texas Department of Health and a federal permit issued by the SAMSHA and the DEA. If you want to make sure that a specific narcotic treatment clinic in Texas has a license, check the directory of narcotic treatment clinics.

2. Your patient confidentiality is protected by federal law.

3. Methadone clinics in Texas are required to provide or offer referrals to their patients. These services include social and human services, mental health services, educational and vocational services, family counseling, and HIV/AIDS counseling, prevention, and risk-reduction education.

4. In Texas, the patient-staff ratio needs to be a maximum of 50 patients for each counselor. Texas allows an increase in the ratio under certain circumstances. But if you don’t feel that you’re receiving the attention that you need, file a complaint on the hotline number below.

5. Methadone should be administered or dispensed in oral form by a certified health care professional.

If you believe that any TX State methadone clinic is not following the state regulations you may file a complaint. Complaints may be mailed, faxed or delivered by phone via the complaint hotline.

Submit a Complaint against a Texas Methadone Facility

Texas Laws and Rules

Narcotic clinics in Texas are tightly regulated. There are numerous state and federal laws that govern the prescription and dispensing of methadone. Also, there are laws that regulate how narcotic treatment clinics work. Here are some of the most important ones:

Title 42, Chapter I, Subchapter A, Part 8: The Certification of Opioid Treatment Programs, Code of Federal Regulations governs the treatment of opiate and opioid addiction with FDA-approved medications. This law outlines the system created to accredit and certify opioid treatment programs that prescribe methadone. In this law, patients must receive counseling and behavioral therapies in addition to methadone. [4]

Texas Administrative Code: Chapter 229 Subchapter J Minimum Standards for Narcotic Treatment Programs: This subsection of the Texas Administrative Code provides the minimum standards for the establishment and operation of a narcotic treatment program in Texas. It outlines the state and federal regulations, program application procedures, program fees, program operations, and enforcement procedures. [5]

Texas Health & Safety Code, Chapter 466: The purpose of this Chapter is outlining the regulation of narcotic drug treatment programs, and ensuring the proper use of approved narcotic drugs in the treatment of persons with a narcotic dependency. [6]

Texas Methadone Doctors

You can’t just go to a doctor in Texas and get a dose of methadone. By law, methadone is administered or dispensed in oral form in a licensed narcotic program only. Further, the law requires that the physician responsible for prescribing and supervision of methadone is licensed to practice medicine and has worked in the field of addiction medicine a minimum of one year. [7]

The clinic is there to ensure your safety. And methadone should be administered in a way that reduces the potential for abuse.

In Texas, methadone can be prescribed and taken only under the supervision of a physician via a licensed narcotic treatment programs.

How can you find a methadone prescribing doctor in Texas? You can find all state and federally licensed programs that offer methadone treatment through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, SAMSHA. Check out treatment centers who are authorized to offer patients methadone in the State of Texas in the following link.

SAMHSA OTP Treatment Directory for Texas.

State Sponsored Methadone Clinics in Texas

Texas is home to a number of private and public narcotic clinics that provide methadone. Public clinics are state-funded and usually have a longer waiting list than the private ones. So, what benefits exist to help people who are in need of financial aid?

If you want to receive coverage for methadone, federal law mandates that you are enrolled in, or have documented proof of, substance use disorder counseling.

Then, Texas Medicaid covers methadone under Fee-For-Service (FFS) and Managed Care (MC) plans. Methadone is listed as a medical and pharmacy benefit under both FFS and MC plans. Methadone also appears on the preferred drug list under both FFS and MC plans and is covered for use in accredited outpatient narcotic treatment programs under both plans.

There are a number of free narcotic clinics that support people trying to overcome opioid addiction. Texas Department of State Health Services’ website provides a list of licensed state-sponsored narcotic treatment facilities.

Texas Methadone for Veterans

Addiction is quite common for U.S. war veterans. Many veterans suffer from post traumatic stress disorder. Using drugs and alcohol can be a way of coping with the memory of past events.

If you’re a veteran suffering from opioid addiction, you can seek help from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. In order to apply, you’ll need your most recent tax return, social security numbers for yourself and your qualified dependents, and account numbers for any current health insurance.

Through this organization, you can find a number of treatment services and receive medically managed detoxification as well as drug substitution therapies like methadone. Counseling and other behavioral therapies may also be a part of your methadone treatment.

If you are interested, you can apply to receive VA health care online, by phone, by mail, or in person. In general, in a week or less, your application should be approved. Once you get the approval you’ll need to find a VA facility in Texas and start treatment with methadone. For a listing of VA centers in Texas, check out the Texas VA Directory here.

The Drug Epidemic in Texas

In Texas, the opioid crisis is a public health emergency. It affects people from all generations and socioeconomic status. In fact, almost half of all drug overdose deaths in Texas involve opioids. As a response, the Texas Department of State Health Services has developed two strategies in order to address opioid misuse. [8]

These include:

  1. Improving surveillance. The Department of State Health Services has started using health data in real time collected from hospitals, emergency centers, and urgent care providers, to look for early warning signs of overdose. Healthcare providers has also started reporting overdoses involving controlled substances to the state.
  2. Expanding prevention through education and training. Texas has started naloxone overdose education, buprenorphine waiver training, and maternal opioid misuse prevention.

The goal of these initiatives is to establish safety guidelines in hospitals for recognizing opioid misuse and enhancing care for women with opioid use disorder, during and after pregnancy.

The following statistics taken from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, NIDA, will give you an insight into the Texas opioid epidemic:

  • Texan physicians wrote 53.1 opioid prescriptions for every 100 persons in 2017.
  • In Texas, 1,458 overdose deaths involving opioids were reported in 2017.
  • Deaths involving fentanyl tripled from 118 in 2007 to 348 deaths in 2017.
  • There were 569 heroin-involved overdose deaths in 2017

Even in light of these figures, Texas continues to have one of the lowest rates of drug overdose deaths involving opioids in the country. The implementation of the strategies is expected to decrease these numbers even further. [9]

Methadone Saves Lives

Can methadone help?

Yes!

Methadone can save your life. It keeps you stable enough that you can make positive changes in your life. Methadone therapy will reduce or help you to avoid health problems such as HIV, hepatitis B and hepatitis C, skin infections and vein problems.

If it is part of a comprehensive treatment program, methadone treatment is more likely to be successful. Usually, treatment includes a combination of counseling, alternative therapies and the development of a positive support network of peers, friends and a support group. Work with a physician or a counselor to find the best approach that addresses your needs.

If you are struggling with opioid addiction, know that you are not alone. With the right addiction treatment program, you can achieve a lot. If you need help finding the right treatment center in Texas or would like more information on narcotic programs, we invite you to give us a call today. Our admission navigators are available 24/7.

Reference Sources: [1] SAMSHA: Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT)
[2] Texas Department of State Health Services: Narcotic Treatment Clinics
[3] Texas Department of State Health Services: Laws and Rules – Narcotic Treatment Clinics
[4] Title 42, Chapter I, Subchapter A, Part 8: MEDICATION ASSISTED TREATMENT FOR OPIOID USE DISORDERS
[5] Texas Administrative Code: Chapter 229 Subchapter J Minimum Standards for Narcotic Treatment Programs:
[6] Texas Health & Safety Code, Chapter 466: REGULATION OF NARCOTIC DRUG TREATMENT PROGRAMS
[7] Texas Administrative Code: CHAPTER 163. LICENSURE 
[8] Texas Department of State Health Services: Public Health Response to the Opioid Crisis
[9] NIDA: Texas Opioid Summary
ASAM: Medicaid Coverage of Medications for the Treatment of Opioid Use Disorder
Texas Department of State Health Services: Adult Substance Use Medication-Assisted Treatment

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