Waismann Method® - Anesthesia Assisted Rapid Detox for Opiates
Find out more about addiction, Drug Treatment, Rapid Drug Detoxification, Drug Rehab, and the latest Opiate Detox research. Our Mission is to ensure that Franklin County and the North Quabbin Region of Massachusetts work together to help reduce opioid and heroin addiction, prevent overdose deaths, and improve the quality of life in our community.
Waismann Method’s director Clare Waismann provides insight into the CDC reports on doubling of death rates from fentanyl analogs. According to the CDC’s Mortality and Morbidity Weekly Report, the number of deaths from fentanyl and fentanyl analogs doubled in the first half of 2017 compared to the second half of 2016.
“We need to reach patients well before they reach the point of needing emergent naloxone,” states Clare Waismann, founder of the Waismann Method a medical opioid treatment program. She goes on to say, “While the attention is focused on addiction, the individual is forgotten. Their basic emotional needs are not met and their hope never restored.” The dramatic rise in deaths from fentanyl and its potent analogs speak to a dire need to effective treatment programs. Waismann adds, “The word crisis in opioid crisis is overused to the point that it sometimes loses meaning. The death rates published by the CDC yesterday show why the word ‘crisis’ is accurate and appropriate.”
Clare Waismann also provides a bit of hope to an otherwise bleak CDC report, saying, “Addiction is a reversible consequence of an untreated condition. It is simply a part of a one’s life, not what defines who they are.”
Pain is intuitive. Drop something heavy on your foot, and you immediately know something about pain. Pain is also remarkably complex. Why do some things barely register as painful for some people, but are excruciating for others? Why is the anticipation of pain often more distressing than the pain itself? Why do people experience pain after limb amputation? To understand pain, we must first understand how we feel pain.
Sudden, unexpected pain
The easiest type of pain to understand is physical pain that happens without warning. For this example, let us say you kicked the coffee table with your bare foot. Pain receptors in the foot detect a stimulus (your foot ramming into the leg of the coffee table). Those pain receptors then send electrical signals (action potentials) up through your leg, your spinal cord, and into your brain. Your brain then makes a rapid determination that what you have just experienced could cause bodily harm. It often considers the worst: you could have potentially broken a bone, cut the skin, caused infection, which lead to gangrene or even death. To protect your body from harm, it sternly alerts you that what you have just done is potentially dangerous behavior. “Escape from danger and don’t do that again!” It alerts you by creating the sensation of intense pain.
The brain creates pain
You may be surprised to know that the brain creates the sensation of pain. It is constantly taking in information through your senses, and trying to make sense of the world (no pun intended). Some stimuli are deemed neutral, some pleasurable, and some painful. Pain receptors are usually activated by stretching, tearing, heat or other sensations that would normally harm the body. However, the quality and intensity of these pain sensations depend a great deal on how the brain interprets the messages. The complex organ integrates and deciphers this information and if it decides that the stimuli are painful, it creates what you experience as pain.
Pain is not just all in your head, pain is also a function of the signals coming from the body. If you have chronic tooth infection and inflammation, pain receptors become highly sensitive. They register a higher degree of pain well beyond any physical danger that may be happening. On the other hand, if your dentist injects local anesthetic in your mouth, it deadens the nerves and so no pain signals are transmitted. Your psychological state also affects the sensation of pain. Fear of the dentist can either prime you so that the pain you experience during the visit is accentuated, or the actual pain you experience ends up being far less than you had imagined it would be. Pain receptors and pain pathways are important, but so is the perception of that information.
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Pain signals are made more or less painful in real time. The brain can send its own signals down through the spinal cord to reduce pain sensitivity (neuroscientists call this descending inhibition). Likewise, the central nervous system can release its own (endogenous) opioids that bind to opioid receptors and relieve pain. Healthcare providers take advantage of these opioid receptors to help their patients feel less pain. Prescribed opioids (exogenous) bind to the body’s own opioid receptors and affect how the body senses pain.
The problem with opioid pain relief
For short periods of time, using opioid medications to relieve pain can be very useful. If the body is healing appropriately after surgery, there is no benefit to enduring intense pain. So using opioids for a brief time after surgery is a good use of this type of medication. On the other hand, using opioids for chronic lower back pain poses a potential problem. Over time, opioid receptors become desensitized, i.e., higher doses of the drug are needed to relieve pain. At the same time, what were once interpreted as neutral sensations are now interpreted by the brain to be painful sensations. To deal with the pain, more opioid medications are required, and the cycle continues. Making matters worse, people tend to become psychologically dependent on the drugs as well, leading to addiction.
Resetting the system
The knowledge that the brain creates the sensation of pain can be a great comfort to patients and a source of hope. Just as pain pathways were primed to be more sensitive and create severe sensations of pain, they can also be desensitized. By detoxing from opioids, the body can begin to reset itself. People can learn techniques to control how they perceive pain. Mindfulness and meditation are incredibly powerful tools for simply being with our sensations without judgment, qualification, or labels, for example. Over time, the brain can be retrained. It can be taught to create less pain, to feel less pain. The first step is to reset the system is through an effective opioid detox.
For more information on opioid treatment options, please call us at 310-205-0808
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Suicide and overdose are two primary causes of death in the United States. The issue becomes how to differentiate intentional overdoses versus accidental ones? Is emotional pain the real cause of most deaths in our society? If this is correct, then adequate and accessible mental health care should be the focus of our efforts. Numerous news outlets have picked up our press release addressing the concerns of whether the CDC may be Underestimating Apparent Suicide Rates. This is an important subject that should be at the forefront of mental health conversations today.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), suicide is ranked tenth among leading causes of death for people in the U.S. The government says that, in 2016 (the last year for which statistics are available), 44,965 people took their own lives. But that number may be misleading. The true number could be considerably higher.
To classify a death as a suicide, a physician or coroner must discern the intention of the deceased. Indeed, the government defines this cause of death as “intentional self-harm.” In contrast, when a doctor or coroner deems that a death is an “accident,” they define the cause as involuntary, calling it an “unintentional injury.” While some suicides and accidents are black and white – such as suicide by hanging or an automobile accident fatality – many are less obvious. Delve deeper, and it’s clear that there is a spectrum of intent that can lead to misclassifying causes of death.
Overdose: At the Crossroads of Suicide and Accidental Death
The CDC reports that, in 2016, more than 63,600 people died from drug overdoses in the U.S. Adjusted for age, that is more than triple the number of overdose deaths in 1999. This figure is stunning, and certainly reflects the opioid epidemic that is sweeping the nation. But that’s just part of the story. Remember, it’s all about intent. The CDC classifies overdoses as “drug poisoning” deaths, which encompass both intentional and unintentional overdoses.
Viewed through another lens – one that sees the whole person – an unknown but significant number of overdose deaths can be categorized as suicide. The National Institute on Drug Abuse, part of the National Institutes of Health, acknowledges that mental illness can play a role in substance abuse. For example, anxiety, depression, and stress can lead people to seek drugs in order to alleviate negative feelings; over time, drug use can become drug abuse. When those with mental health issues also have a genetic vulnerability to addiction, drug usage can accelerate.
Scientific American reports that one in six adults in the U.S. take psychiatric drugs, including antidepressants, anti-anxiety drugs, and sedatives, and that white and older adults typically access these drugs more than non-white and younger adults. This could be a result of systemic and economic barriers to accessing healthcare and mental health care, as well as increased mental illness stigma among non-white adults.
It’s logical that when people don’t have access to mental health services, they may turn to available drugs in an attempt to ease their pain. For example, prescription painkillers can do double duty, helping to alleviate physical pain as well as anxiety and depression. It’s also logical that, for some people, physical and mental health issues are inextricably intertwined. The woman who is in chronic pain is not able to actively participate in life activities. As her world becomes smaller, she spirals into depression. Her reliance on painkillers increases but her psychological pain remains unaddressed. While under the influence, she may quietly decide to take a few more pills and end her life. In the absence of evidence of intent, her death is likely to be ruled an overdose rather than a suicide. If even 15 percent of overdose deaths were reclassified as suicides, suicide would jump to the eighth leading cause of death among adults in the U.S.
The Role of Ineffective Drug Treatment Programs
Those who suffer from substance abuse and mental illness are often invisible patients within the drug treatment program construct. Addiction is too often diagnosed as the problem to be treated, rather than as a symptom of a significant, painful underlying mental health issue. When the focus is on the symptom – substance abuse – drug treatment becomes a revolving door of sobriety, relapse, and re-admittance. Along the way, the person’s underlying untreated mental illness can become a vortex of emotional distress and hopelessness that leads them to take their own life via overdose – and never be counted as a suicide casualty.
“Insanity is repeating the same mistakes and expecting different results.” Ironically, although often attributed to Albert Einstein, this sentiment first appeared in writing in a 1981 Narcotics Anonymous pamphlet. The substance abuse treatment paradigm most often used today does just that: it makes the same mistakes again and again, yet continues to expect that the outcome will be sobriety.
A Different Approach
In contrast, seeing the person as an individual rather than an addict enables a treatment approach that considers all of the factors that contribute to the person’s behavior. Rather than focusing on the patient’s character, their personality, and even their DNA, an effective treatment program begins with a correct diagnosis of the patient’s mental illness and an identification of their emotional challenges.
With a correct diagnosis, treatment can be tailored to the patient. With a personalized treatment plan, it may no longer be necessary to treat drug addiction with yet another drug. It may no longer be necessary for the patient to self-medicate or to turn to maintenance medications. It may no longer be necessary to treat drug addiction as a life sentence. Instead, we can see addiction for what it is: the symptom of a treatable underlying condition.
It’s time to shine a spotlight on invisible patients. Drug treatment programs must provide patients with a dignified path to wellness that acknowledges the role that mental illness plays in substance abuse.
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Waismann Method, one of the world’s most successful opioid detox programs, has released some sobering statistics. When comparing the number of patients in the first part of 2017 to the same months of 2018, and the drugs they seek treatment from, the center found a 233% hike in detoxification for Suboxone dependence and other buprenorphine-based medications. This rise in addiction to drugs used to treat opioid use disorder raises significant concerns.
On the surface, the idea that people are seeking treatment, including MAT, may seem like a positive trend. Opioid addiction kills 115 people in the United States each day. Anytime a substance user enters or seeks drug treatment; it should be thought of as a positive move. However, maintenance drugs such as Suboxone and Methadone does not necessarily solve the patient’s opioid dependence problems. Instead, it can prolong them.
When an opioid user enters Medically Assisted Treatment (MAT) therapy, they do so under the supervision of a medical professional. Typically, the patient is given replacement drugs such as methadone or Suboxone. Although both substances are opioid narcotics, they are meant to prevent the withdrawal symptoms, illicit buying and the spread of infectious diseases – All significant considerations. People fear and try to avoid withdrawal symptoms at any cost so that MAT medications might become an immediate-attractive option. However, since these maintenance drugs are opioids themselves, when patients decide to discontinue their use they often experience similar withdrawal symptoms to those of heroin and fentanyl.
In addition to the impressive rise of patients seeking detox treatment for MAT-related medications, the team also found some other interesting statistics that align with the current trends associated with opioid addiction. The average age of patients who entered the Waismann Method Rapid Detox program in 2018 for Suboxone detoxification, was 50 years old. While this statistic is disheartening, it’s not surprising that opioid addiction in older adults is also on the rise.
The word detox makes the process sound simple. Some envision a period of rest and relaxation while the toxins in the body just drift away. Perhaps the commercials of spa-like retreats lull people into this false reality. The truth is that detoxing from opioids can be hard. It can also be dangerous. Trying to detox from opioids yourself or outside of a hospital environment can not only put your health at risk, but it can also put your future sobriety at risk, as well. However, freedom from opioids begins with inpatient detox. This is why we specialize in providing the best inpatient opioid detox experience.
This is your body on opioids
When people are dependent on opioids, their bodies and brains have physically changed. Do you need to use more drug than you once did? That is because your body has adapted to the opioids. In essence, you become tolerant to the effects of the drug. Your heart, your blood vessels, your intestines, even your skin have come to expect a constant supply of opioids. While opioids deaden pain, the nerves and receptors that detect pain actually become hypersensitive after long-term opioid use. When you stop taking opioids e.g., a do-it-yourself detox, the body’s organ systems react violently to the absence of the drug.
Opioid detox, without any medical support, is simply opioid withdrawal.
This is your body when opioids are stopped
Opioid detox, without any medical support, is simply opioid withdrawal. Withdrawal from opioids causes several symptoms and signs that follow a predictable time course. For short-acting opioids, like oxycodone and morphine, the symptoms of opioid withdrawal occur within as little as 6 to 12 hours after the last dose. For longer-acting opioids, like the fentanyl patch and extended release morphine, symptoms of opioid withdrawal may not appear for as many as 30 hours after the last dose. Once withdrawal symptoms start, however, they build in intensity and rise to a peak within 48 hours.
People who are withdrawing from opioids are often irritable and restless. They crave more of the drug—not necessarily for the “high”—but more so to stop the feeling of withdrawal. Their pupils dilate and their eyes water. They become sweaty and get goosebumps. Their experience of nausea, abdominal cramping, and vomiting can be overwhelming.
Since opioids slow down the gastrointestinal tract and cause constipation, withdrawal from opioids causes the gastrointestinal tract to speed up, leading to copious amounts of diarrhea and possibly dehydration. Opioid withdrawal also affects the cardiorespiratory system. Withdrawal is so uncomfortable, such a dramatic change from what it’s used to, the body releases hormones that increase blood pressure, heart rate, and respiratory rate. These changes can be particularly dangerous for people with underlying heart conditions but pose at least some risk to anyone detoxing from opioids. Since nerve and pain receptors have become hypersensitive, even mild pain can be excruciating. This pain can make the symptoms of opioid withdrawal worse.
The importance of opioid inpatient detox
Given the many changes that occur to the body during opioid detox, this period can really be thought of as its own medical illness. Consider a person with severe nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. A doctor would admit the patient to the hospital to monitor their condition and provide treatment. The physician would order powerful anti-nausea drugs and intravenous fluids to treat dehydration. The doctor would also check the blood for electrolyte imbalances and replenish them, as needed. Imagine if that patient also had an elevated blood pressure, heart rate, and respiratory rate. The doctor would use heart rate monitors and ECG readings to detect abnormalities and signs of danger for the heart. In the hospital setting, rapidly acting, intravenous drugs could be given to reduce blood pressure and heart rate. Since people who are detoxing from opioids experience these serious symptoms, why would they not be treated in the same way?
Since people who are detoxing from opioids experience these serious symptoms, why would they not be treated in the same way?
Beyond these, an inpatient hospital environment offers the resources and supervision required to make opioid withdrawal a.k.a. opioid detox as safe and comfortable for the patient as possible. When treatments are needed, they can be given as quickly as possible, e.g. through IV injection. Each patient’s individual experience with detox is unique, so it important that skilled medical professionals are available to assess, diagnose, and treat issues as they arise. In short, inpatient detox provides the level of care needed to effectively manage this difficult transition from sickness to sobriety.
Taking inpatient detox a step further
The goal of detox is to reset all of the changes that took place in the body when the person was abusing opioids. This means resetting pain receptors, resetting the gastrointestinal tract, resetting the brain. Hitting the reset button can be difficult for all the reasons described above, but once detox is finished, the work of abstinence, psychotherapy, and behavior modification can begin.
The Waismann method® operates on a rather simple principle: Use anesthesia and close medical supervision to speed up the detox phase, in essence, to reset the body faster. Instead of experiencing the irritability, bodily changes, and pain of the withdrawal experience, the Waismann method® helps patients essentially “sleep” through the detox phase so that they come out the other side reset, refreshed, and ready to begin their life free of sobriety.
Fentanyl is a drug used medically for pain management, but for drug users, it can be a new way to achieve a high when combined with heroin. Recent research by the Waismann Method® opioid treatment specialists, reveals the striking increase in the number of recreational fentanyl use and users who are seeking detoxification.
Fentanyl use was primarily for managing intense pain that couldn’t be managed with weaker drugs. This year, the rapid increase in its popularity among the younger generation reveals its use as a drug to complement and heighten the effects of heroin.
According to Dr. Michael H. Lowenstein, Medical Director for the Waismann Method, “The illicit use of Fentanyl to enhance a drug high is particularly disconcerting. Our study should be seen as a serious indicator of an impending widespread epidemic that can be avoidable when adequate prevention, education, and treatment are available.”
Naltrexone treatment might sound like a new approach for you, but the truth is, the Waismann Method physicians have been using this medication, in conjunction with a medical detox, for two decades.
What Is Naltrexone?
Naltrexone is a medication approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat opioid use and alcohol disorders. It comes in a pill form (Revia or Depade ) or as an injectable (Vivitrol). The pill form comes in one dose of 50 mg, and it can be taken once per day. The injectable extended-release come in 380 mg and is given to patients once a month.
When the oral form is chosen, dosage may vary on your medical history and your individual response to the Naltrexone therapy. Some doctors may start you at a lower oral dose and monitor how you respond. If you have minimum side effects, a monthly Vivitrol injection may be an option. For this and other reasons, it is important to take this medication as directed. Do not decrease or increase your daily dose, do not take it more often, and do not stop taking it without discussing it with your doctor first.
Naltrexone Treatment Benefits
Naltrexone has the ability to assist significantly in reducing physical cravings to opioid drugs by binding to the receptor sites. The medication helps in blocking the euphoric and sedative effects of drugs such as heroin, morphine, and codeine.
It is essential to achieve complete opioid detoxification before commencing a Naltrexone therapy. When patients go through a non-accelerated method of detoxification, the recommended time of abstinence from an opioid drug is at least 7 to 10 days. However, in the event a rapid detox treatment was the chosen detoxification method, naltrexone therapy can be initiated immediately to reduce relapse risk.
Before someone can begin naltrexone therapy, they must be appropriately screened and assessed. Also, the patient must be completely opioid-free. A comprehensive physical examination that can identify any medical issues (such as liver disease) should also be done prior to taking this medication.
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Absolutely not. Naltrexone is not an opioid drug and for that reason, it is not addictive and does not cause withdrawal symptoms when you stop taking the medication. Now, Suboxone and Methadone are both opioid narcotics with high affinity to the receptors and extremely addictive drugs. Although there is Naltrexone within the Suboxone, the active addictive ingredient is the opiate and not the antagonist.
Opioid Use Disorder Treatment
People that have become dependent on heroin, suboxone or other opioid drugs like Suboxone and Methadone, need an effective detoxification to start any recovery process. Medical detoxification at the Waismann method® in a full-service hospital is usually the most successful and safe option. Although, there are many treatment options, choosing the right one is probably the most important decision you will make. With the right detox center and ongoing therapy, you can regain your strength and remain drug-free.
“If you are seeking a rehabilitation center for you or a loved one, consider the safety and effectiveness of the detoxification and the benefits of a naltrexone treatment program.”
For many people struggling with opioid use disorder, treatment with naltrexone after a complete detoxification is a great option. By blocking the physiological sense of pleasure associated with opioid use, naltrexone significantly reduces cravings. Cravings can lead to intense anxiety and the desire to continue using the drug. Naltrexone in addition to individual behavioral approaches has helped many people return to a productive life free from opioid addiction.
People using naltrexone should not use any opioids or illicit drug. They should also abstain from drinking alcohol taking sedatives or tranquilizers unless under direct instructions from a physician.
Patients on naltrexone therapy need to be aware that they may also have a lower tolerance to opioid drugs after a period of abstinence. In other words, they might have much more sensitivity to the same or lower doses of drug they used to take. Therefore, they are at a higher overdose risk if a relapse occurs.
Other Side Effects May Include:
Upset stomach or vomiting
Joint or muscle pain
Remember, if any of the above side effects occur, contact your treating physician. Sometimes these side effects can be managed by adjusting the dosages and time when the medication is taken.
If you or someone you know is having difficulty coming off or staying off opioid drugs, you might want to consider the Waismann Method Opioid Treatment Program. An inpatient medical detoxification followed by a few days at a recovery retreat gives you an excellent chance to come off opioids and immediately start a Naltrexone Treatment Program.
Many families are just not ready to accept the fact that substance abuse has become an issue to one of their children. Denial, anger, and shame often overwhelm parents to the point of inability to adequately address the situation. We’ve written this article to address how to help your teen overcome drug abuse.
Helping Your Teen Overcome Drug Abuse
Parents often try to implement stricter rules of discipline, without adequately understanding the condition. When punishment is met with resistance, a wider gap is created between the teen and the parent; consequently, gap communication also occurs. It is nearly impossible to understand your child when you cannot openly speak with them. Unfortunately, this emotional distance causes the teen to feel misunderstood, resentful and lonely. These distressful feelings are the typical reason so many teens turn to further drug use.
When all efforts fail, parents usually search for advice from “addiction experts.” Unfortunately, this advice mostly comes from people that deal with addiction issues themselves rather than health care providers. Although they have the best intentions, their knowledge of brain function is insufficient for a correct diagnosis or proper recommendation.
Some of the most conventional advice parents receive is:
Let your child hit bottom.
Kick them out and let them figure it out.
Don’t waste your time; you have others in the family to care for and are willing to follow the rules.
An addict will always be an addict.
He is born with an addictive personality.
Addiction is a lifelong chronic disease with no cure.
These “addiction experts” forget that teenagers do not fully develop their brain until they are around their mid-20s. The typical teen substance use experimentation introduces toxic substances to an underdeveloped brain. As a result, this affects how they think and behave, leading to unstable, unpredictable and risky actions. Trying to discipline the teen out of the problem usually does not work. Focusing on negative behavior can escalate the issue.
Unfortunately, there are no exact formulas that will work for everyone, but there are tools that can help you engage with your teen in a positive and productive manner.
Talking About Drug Abuse with your Teen
There are many tools parents can use to influence their child positively. Instead of just letting your child fall apart (hit bottom) in front of your eyes; you need to see, hear and understand them. It is important to realize that the substances they are using are also affecting their reaction and response to the situation. They need your love, patience, and support more than ever. Use the influence that you have wisely.
First and foremost, use positive reinforcement. Try to engage your child in healthy behaviors you know they enjoy and are good at.
Let them know you are here to work with them in finding a healthy path.
Ask them what they believe this path should be. Allowing the teen to have opinions, makes them feel less threatened and more in control. Having a voice on the matter also shows they are being heard, which can immediately reduce that emotional gap.
Talk “with them” and not “to them.”
Ask them what benefits they get from the drug use. As weird as this question might sound, this information is crucial in order to decide on the best treatment plan. Most of these young adults use drugs, especially opioids, to self-medicate emotional distress. Untreated conditions such as anxiety, depression, and trauma could significantly increase your child’s risk for substance abuse.
When you recognize and validate someone’s feelings, they feel seen and understood; consequently, the dynamics changes. Now a sense of bond and trust are reaffirming itself and there is a better chance to engage in a conversation regarding treatment options.
Early Intervention is Crucial
Intervene as early as you can. The physiological, emotional and social implications can be severe and irreversible. Also, it is much easier to help someone hold on to a life with friends, a job or school, rather than waiting for all of that to dissipate, which makes the recovery process much longer and more arduous. The presumption that allowing someone to hit bottom in order to realize what they are losing, is harmful and risky, especially when dealing with young adults.
Overcoming Drug Abuse
Seeking the best medical drug detoxification allows one to overcome the physical difficulties of drug abuse so that the emotional factors can be immediately addressed. As with any other medical condition, adequate diagnosis is half the treatment. Getting help from experienced and capable healthcare professionals can make the difference between failure and success. Sometimes learning new tools to handle frustration, anger, and fear is all it takes to engage in a healthy productive life. In other cases, psychiatric conditions might need therapeutic assistance and pharmacological intervention. Either way, there are a number of very successful treatments available for most emotional conditions.
Remember substance abuse is not who your child is, but a phase they are in.
In this post, we cover the 5 opioid drugs parents should watch for. As the opioid epidemic rages across the country, unprecedented numbers of adults and older Americans are caught in the crossfire, developing substance abuse problems related to heroin or prescription medications. Unfortunately, children and teenagers often become lost in the narrative about the opioid epidemic. Older teens and adults have high rates of opioid dependence, but younger children also remain vulnerable.
The Pediatric Health Information System Database shows that 43% of children admitted to hospitals across the US for opioid overdose ended up in ICU. Nearly 20% of the overdose cases were likely due to methadone from adults in the house. The study also demonstrated that 60% of these overdose victims, were children between 12 to 17 years of age.
In some cases, kids prescribed opioid painkillers for legitimate purposes go on to develop a pattern of problematic opioid use. As the opioid crisis takes over this country, children are quickly becoming secondary victims. Parents should be cautious and well informed of what they have in their cabinets and what’s available in the streets. Here are severe opioid drugs commonly available, that parents should watch for.
Here are the 5 opioid drugs parents should watch out for:
The rise of synthetic opioids has many parents alarmed at their abuse potential. Perhaps the most dangerous is fentanyl, a synthetic opioid compound that is 100 times more potent than heroin. In medical settings, prescribers may use fentanyl patches to curb cancer-related pain. However, the growing availability of fentanyl outside of medical settings poses serious risks for children and teens.
The Pediatric Health Information System Database shows that 43% of children admitted to hospitals across the US for opioid overdose ended up in ICU. Additionally, research from the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) shows that almost half of all opioid overdose deaths in 2016 involved fentanyl. Young people may be less wary about the potency of fentanyl. Other issues that increase the risks of overdose for teens is Fentanyl’s’ variability, availability and the increasing contamination of illicit drugs.
In 2015, heroin was the deadliest opioid in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. For children and young adults, heroin abuse may begin with a less sinister cause: legitimately prescribed opioids for surgery or sports-related injury. Once the prescription runs out, kids may turn to heroin for its painkilling properties or get high. Other kids are just trying to belong, minimize emotional and social distress or simply to have fun.
Although rates of heroin abuse among 12 to 17-year-olds have declined slightly, there’s an overall uptick in public use by young adults aged 18 to 25. Abusing heroin has become a significant problem among young people. A new study shows that seven out of ten teens nonmedical combine opioids with other mood-altering substances. Opioids drugs, especially heroin, is dangerous enough when taken by themselves; combining heroin with other substances dramatically compounds the risks.
Methadone often slips under parents’ radar, as it is drug doctors prescribe with the intention of reducing addiction, not fueling it. It is an opioid agonist like heroin or morphine, meaning that it binds to mu-opioid receptors throughout the brain and body. However, methadone exerts less of an effect than heroin or morphine, resulting in a blunted response that lacks the characteristic euphoria or “high” provided by other opioids. For this reason, medical professionals sometimes use methadone to attempt to taper people off opioids. Taking methadone prevents the severe withdrawal symptoms triggered by going “cold turkey,” allowing affected individuals to avoid unpleasant and medically dangerous withdrawal.
Unfortunately, methadone merely replaces one addiction with another. Methadone shares the same chemical mechanism of action as other opioids. Although people initially take methadone for a legitimate medical purpose, they also end up having difficulty curbing their use of the drug. As a result, parents should be cautious about having methadone around or in reachable places. It is critical to remember that one-third of prescription opioid overdoses in the US involve Methadone.
Hydrocodone, also known by its chemical name dihydrocodeinone, is made from codeine. As an analgesic, physicians often prescribe it to relieve moderate to severe pain. Sold under the names Vicodin, Lortab, Norco, and Zydone, hydrocodone is widely prescribed in medical settings. Certain types of cough syrup also contain hydrocodone, as the drug also has antitussive (cough-suppressant) effects. Although these feature labels are warning against their use in people under age 18, some parents remain unaware of the dangers of these cough syrups.
While medical practitioners write most hydrocodone prescriptions for adults, children and teenagers increasingly use hydrocodone recreationally. Prescription opioids are one of the most commonly abused substances by teens, after alcohol, and marijuana. The easy availability of the drug, whether from family members’ leftover pills or street purchases, makes hydrocodone attractive to young people. Experimenting children also may also drink cough syrup containing hydrocodone in an attempt to get high.
Oxycodone, sold under the brand name Oxycontin, Percodan and Percocet are widely prescribed to address acute and chronic pain. Available in extended-release tablets, users commonly crush and snort the pills to deliver the drug rapidly to their systems. Kids prescribed Oxycontin for post-surgical pain, or chronic pain may be at risk for abusing the drug, and street use of oxycodone remains high.
Opiate painkillers are chemically very similar to heroin, and so are their effects. Because heroin may be cheaper and more available, teens who have become addicted to opioid painkillers often switch to using heroin. It is important to know that nearly 80% of heroin users, started with prescription opioids.
What to Do if you Suspect your Child is Suffering from Opioid Addiction?
If a doctor prescribes your child opiates, ask if other medications would suffice. If a prescription for opioid becomes necessary, you need to carefully monitor your child’s use. Doctors should evaluate any prescriptions lasting over three consecutive days for additional pain management options. Make sure to keep all extra pills locked away to prevent misuse. Should your child develop an opioid dependence or withdrawal symptoms, contact the physician immediately.
There are a number of medical treatment options to overcome opioid withdrawals. The sooner the issue is resolved that less chance your child will have to suffer from an addiction. If an addiction occurs, the first step should be complete drug detoxification. Often the best opioid detoxification or the ones with the higher success rates are the ones who are in a medical facility. Once your child is opiate-free, he or she will have a better chance to adhere to an individual therapy where emotional challenges can be worked with. Also, early intervention allows young adults to engage in productive and healthy activities, away from the drug addiction world.