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When addiction is present, the road to good mental health is often full of obstacles. Stigma, fear and lack of effective treatment make this journey, for so many, extremely challenging.

When a person is struggling with a substance use disorder (SUD), he or she is physically and psychologically impacted. That impact can exacerbate pre-existing emotional conditions, while also limiting the effectiveness of therapy.

Approximately one in five U.S. adults has experienced some form of mental illness, according to the 2017 National Survey on Drug Use and Health by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). Of those 46.6 million adults, 8.5 million had both any mental illness and at least one SUD in the past year. An estimated 3.1 million adults had co-occurring severe mental illness and an SUD in the past year.

“Research indicates that 43% of people in SUD treatment for nonmedical use of prescription painkillers have a diagnosis or symptoms of mental health disorders, particularly depression and anxiety,” according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).

Mental health disorders and SUDs share contributing factors. In other words, one can aggravate the other. Once they are co-occurring, however, there is a proven, effective order to treatment: Address the physical substance dependence first.

Why Detox Has to Happen Before Therapy

Physical dependence on alcohol or opioids can be successfully treated with medical detoxification. Once a patient has been detoxed, they can be adequately diagnosed and have the physical capacity and emotional clarity to engage in treatment for underlying mental health disorders.

Any attempt at therapy while the patient is still battling a SUD is going to be starting at a severe disadvantage. The better chance for the patient’s success is to detox first.

Common Contributing Factors Between Substance Use and Mental Health Disorders

SUDs and mental health disorders share many common factors. NIDA has identified the following as the most common:

  • Genetic vulnerabilities
  • Epigenetic influences, which can include the ways in which environmental factors like stress and drug exposure affect how genetic information is acted on by cells in the body
  • Brain region involvement
  • Environmental influences
  • Stress
  • Trauma and adverse childhood experiences

These same risk factors are often cited by people as the reasons they began misusing or abusing alcohol and drugs. “It is commonly hypothesized that individuals with severe, mild, or even subclinical mental disorders may use drugs as a form of self-medication,” reported NIDA.

How Substance Use Disorders and Mental Illness Feed Off Each Other

Unfortunately, those common risk factors that lead to co-occurring SUDs and mental health disorders and that motivate people to self-medicate also make both types of disorders worse. “Although some drugs may temporarily reduce symptoms of a mental illness, they can also exacerbate symptoms, both acutely and in the long run,” according to NIDA.

NIDA reported that individuals with mental illness experience changes in their brain activity that make them more vulnerable to substance misuse and abuse. These vulnerabilities are seen in the following ways:

  • Enhanced rewarding effects of substances
  • Reduced awareness of negative effects of substances
  • Alleviated unpleasant symptoms of the mental disorder
  • Alleviated side effects of the medication used to treat the mental disorder

Conversely, people with no mental illness can be prone to developing a mental health disorder after prolonged substance use. “Drug use that precedes the first symptoms of a mental illness may produce changes in brain structure and function that kindle an underlying predisposition to develop that mental illness,” according to NIDA. “Substance use can lead to changes in some of the same brain areas that are disrupted in mental disorders, such as schizophrenia, anxiety, mood, or impulse-control disorders.”

Effective Medical Detox Treatment and Aftercare for Physical and Mental Wellness

The relationship between SUDs and mental health disorders is as complex as the histories of people suffering from these conditions. Therefore, in order to achieve success, an individualized and integrated approach to treatment is necessary.

Waismann Method®, for example, specializes in providing effective medical detoxification protocols tailored to individuals’ health needs. Its treatment starts with a comprehensive medical evaluation to help disentangle various symptoms of substance use disorder and other conditions. The medical detox is performed by a quadruple board-certified medical doctor with over 20 years of experience in medically assisted detoxification and rapid detox procedures.

After completing detoxification, patients are discharged to Domus Retreat, a recovery center specifically designed to help people throughout the challenges of the post-detox adjustment period. Now free of their substance dependence, individuals and mental health professionals can design the most productive and effective path to achieve and sustain overall health.

The Waismann Treatment™ and Domus Retreat team works from the premise of carefully listening to and seeing each patient. Gaining a thorough understanding of each person’s strengths, difficulties and fears allows the team to support and guide them while providing the best path forward.

The post When Addiction Is Present, Medical Detox Is the First Step Toward Achieving Good Mental Health appeared first on Rapid Detox by Waismann Method.

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Insys Therapueutics’ founder was convicted of racketeering conspiracy related to fentanyl-based Subsys. Fentanyl is one of the leading causes of drug overdose deaths in the U.S., but effective fentanyl detox treatment is available.

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif., May 3, 2019 — Former billionaire and Insys Therapeutics founder John Kapoor was found guilty of racketeering conspiracy by a Boston jury May 2, 2019. He’s among the highest ranking pharmaceutical executives to face trial related to the opioid epidemic, according to NPR.

The verdict is a major win for federal prosecutors and lays the foundation for holding more drug company executives responsible for their roles in the opioid crisis. The federal government now has a successful case to show how a pharmaceutical company’s illegal methods of increasing sales can resemble and be prosecuted as organized crime.

Kapoor and his co-defendants faced federal charges of running a nationwide bribery scheme. The scheme included paying doctors to prescribe their opioid medication, Subsys, and having staff lie to insurance companies to get it covered, reported NPR.

Subsys is a fentanyl sublingual spray medication. It is prescribed in doses of 100 mcg to 1600 mcg with as many as 120 unit doses per container, according to the company website. A container of 800 mcg Subsys with 30 units can cost over $6,700, according to Drugs.com.

Criminal Tactics Used by Kapoor’s Pharmaceutical Company

NPR reported that Insys sought out doctors who allegedly already had a track record of prescribing opioids liberally. The company reportedly bribed the doctors to prescribe Subsys under the guise of paying the doctors to participate in the company’s “speakers program.” The company paid doctors whether they attended the program or not as long as they wrote a lot of prescriptions for Subsys. At the pharmaceutical executive’s trial, prosecutors alleged that these doctors prescribed the medication to patients who did not need it.

The second half of the scheme covered in the trial involved the Insys company call center. The drug company’s employees allegedly pretended to work for the doctors’ offices and lied about patient diagnoses to ensure the prescriptions were covered.

The Arizona-based company’s future is in jeopardy in light of financial, legal and management problems. In August 2018, the company reached a deal with the U.S. Justice Department to pay $150 million over five years, and potentially another $75 million, to resolve the department’s investigation into claims the company had paid doctors to prescribe Subsys.

With this latest legal win, federal prosecutors have a model for winning a criminal case against an opioid executive. Other cases are already being pursued. On April 23, for example, prosecutors charged Rochester Drug Co-Operative — one of the 10 largest pharmaceutical distributors in the U.S. — with conspiracy to distribute oxycodone and fentanyl for nonmedical reasons and conspiracy to defraud the U.S. The company’s former CEO, Laurence Doud, and former chief of compliance, William Peitruszewski, were charged with willfully failing to file suspicious order reports to the Drug Enforcement Administration, reported NPR.

State and local governments are pursuing similar litigation, according to the Associated Press. For example, in April, the state of New York sued the Sackler family of Purdue Pharma, the company that created OxyContin.

More Regulations Are Needed to Stop Ongoing Unethical, Aggressive Drug Sales Tactics

Although paying doctors to write prescriptions is illegal, NPR’s reporting noted that paying physicians to promote a product is still a common, legal practice in the pharmaceutical industry. Similarly, off-label prescribing by doctors is legal and common; however, drug sales representatives are not supposed to advocate for off-label uses.

These practices, along with aggressive drug marketing tactics, are legal. They also can be considered unethical. Such methods have contributed to fueling the opioid epidemic. More government regulation of drug companies’ marketing and interactions with doctors could help end the opioid crisis.

Fentanyl Is One of the Leading Causes of Drug Overdose Deaths

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is stronger than morphine and heroin. It is designed to decrease physical pain as well as a person’s emotional response to pain. Insys Therapeutics’ drug Subsys, for example, is a fentanyl-based prescription pain medicine used to manage pain in cancer patients.

The Subsys warning information includes risk of life-threatening respiratory depression; addiction, abuse and misuse; adverse reactions such as vomiting; and more. Numerous negative side effects and drug interactions can occur.

Fentanyl’s potency and addictiveness make it one of the most dangerous opioids available. “Among the more than 70,200 drug overdose deaths estimated in 2017, the sharpest increase occurred among deaths related to fentanyl and fentanyl analogs, with more than 28,400 overdose deaths,” according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Non-Opioid Fentanyl Detox Treatment Is Available

People struggling with opioid use disorder can benefit from medical detoxification treatments that do not involve the use of replacement opioids. Medical detox provider Waismann Method®, which is one of the originators of rapid opiate detoxification, offers fentanyl detox in a private accredited hospital. Medical detoxification is tailored to each patient’s unique needs, and full treatment typically lasts seven to 10 days.

This inpatient fentanyl detox is performed by Waismann Method®’s quadruple board-certified medical doctor in a private room at a JCAHO-accredited hospital. Because fentanyl is such a strong opioid, withdrawal without proper medical management can be intense and dangerous, potentially resulting in respiratory failure. When detoxing in a full-service hospital, however, patient risk is greatly reduced, and medication is available to better manage withdrawal symptoms, discomfort and cravings.

Waismann Method® has one of the highest opioid detox success rates in the U.S. Its medical director has successfully treated thousands of patients suffering from opioid use disorder.

This kind of superior medical support is key to helping people get free from an overpowering drug like fentanyl. Whether a patient has developed a dependence on a fentanyl-based prescription drug, abused a prescription painkiller, or uses an illicit form of fentanyl, medical detox can provide a means to get off the drug successfully.

About the Waismann Method® Experts

Clare Waismann, certified addiction treatment counselor, is the founder of Waismann Method® Advanced Treatment of Opiate Dependence and Domus Retreat. As an addiction treatment specialist with over 20 years’ experience, Waismann has served as an advocate for patients suffering from opioid use disorder and mental illness, working to provide the public with the proper education to eliminate the stigma associated with both conditions. Waismann, her team, and Waismann Method® have been featured in The New York Times, USA Today, Fox News, Vogue Magazine, WIRED Magazine, and many other media outlets around the world.

Dr. Michael H. Lowenstein, M.D., serves as the medical director for Waismann Method®. He is quadruple board-certified in anesthesiology; addiction medicine; pain management; and anti-aging, restorative, and regenerative medicine. Dr. Lowenstein is recognized by the international community as a leader in opiate detoxification and has provided cutting-edge medical treatment for patients suffering from opioid use disorder for over two decades. Dr. Lowenstein continues to enhance detoxification protocols to offer medical treatment for additional substances in a safer and more effective manner. Our commitment to the well-being of our patients is as strong now as it was 20 years ago when Waismann Method® was founded.

The post Opioid Executive Guilty Verdict Means Other Pharma Execs Could Be Charged with Racketeering appeared first on Rapid Detox by Waismann Method.

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BEVERLY HILLS, Calif., April 30, 2019 — The Council of Economic Advisers (CEA) released its report, “The Role of Opioid Prices in the Evolving Opioid Crisis,” on April 30, 2019, and the White House summarized the report in a fact sheet titled “Understanding and Addressing the Driving Forces of the Opioid Crisis.” Although this administration is putting more focus on and real effort in fighting this crisis than any of its predecessors, neither the full report nor the fact sheet mention the country’s lack of comprehensive, accessible mental health care.

“In order to effectively address this crisis, it is vital to understand the forces that are driving it,” according to the fact sheet. To fully understand the driving forces of the opioid crisis, however, the country needs to factor in the lack of mental health care. A clear emotional distress crisis was fed by the availability of prescription and illicit opioid drugs.

Furthermore, having access to effective and humane medical detoxification allows people to overcome the fear of withdrawal that contributes to why many have found it easier to stay dependent on prescription and illicit drugs. If the physical dependence is not there, then the emotional issues can be adequately diagnosed and addressed.

The CEA’s Summary of Opioid Crisis Causes

The CEA’s analysis separated the crisis into two waves: First, the large growth in prescription opioid related deaths that through 2010. Second, the increase in illicit opioid deaths since 2010.

The CEA summarizes factors that led to the first wave of the crisis as the following:

  • Prescription opioid prices fell by 81% between 2001 and 2010
  • Opioid manufacturers used deceptive marketing practices.
  • Inadequate controls on prescription opioids were in place.

The fact sheet reported that the second wave of the crisis came “as individuals struggling with addiction turned to heroin in place of prescription opioids.” It did not mention people’s inability to access alternative options, such as treatment for opioid dependence, as a factor. Instead, the report and its summary attribute the second wave to the following:

  • New controls decreased access to prescription opioids, causing individuals with opioid use disorders to substitute with cheaper illicit opioids such as heroin.
  • Countries such as Mexico and China responded to this increased demand with more shipments of heroin and synthetic opioids like fentanyl.
  • Suppliers of heroin started lacing it with fentanyl to increase drug potency, resulting in heroin-related deaths spiking over 400% and synthetic opioid deaths skyrocketing over 800% from 2010 to 2017.
The Trump Administration’s Response to the Opioid Crisis

The emergency response summary similarly leaves out any mention of increasing access to effective opioid use disorder treatments and mental health care. The full report, however, does mention some preliminary efforts on that front. President Trump’s response to the crisis is primarily focused on cutting off illicit opioid supplies and reducing prescription opioid oversupply with the following efforts:

  • President Trump signed legislation to disrupt shipments of deadly drugs. Customs and Border Protection seized over 2000 pounds of fentanyl and 5700 pounds of heroin in 2018.
  • President Trump is working with China to take measures to prevent trafficking of Chinese fentanyl and fentanyl analogues.
  • The Department of Justice brought charges against a pharmaceutical distributor and its executives for their role in fueling the opioid crisis. The CEA report indicates the Trump Administration’s efforts have helped decrease opioid prescribing nationwide.

In terms of treatment, the CEA reports that the Trump administration is expanding access to naloxone and addiction recovery services. President Trump signed the Substance Use Disorder Prevention That Promotes Opioid Recovery and Treatment (SUPPORT) for Patients and Communities Act in October 2018. The act includes provisions for expanding opioid use disorder treatment services for Medicaid and Medicare patients. Additionally, it allocated $1.5 billion for states to fund opioid addiction prevention and treatment.

Next Steps for the Trump Administration and the U.S.

The Trump Administration’s response to the opioid crisis has been strong, far-reaching and effective. With that said, the country cannot lose focus on why people seek drugs in the first place: emotional pain. A complete plan that hopes to not just successfully end the opioid crisis but also prevent new crises from surfacing needs to include more accessible medical opioid use disorder treatments and mental health care for people suffering from opioid dependence.

“Multiple national population surveys have found that about half of those who experience a mental illness during their lives will also experience a substance use disorder and vice versa,” according to the National Institute of Drug Abuse. People struggling with opioid use disorder need medical treatment for their drug dependence as well as various treatments to address their underlying emotional conditions.

The CEA report fact sheet leads with a quote from President Trump: “Addiction is not our future. We will liberate our country from this crisis.” To achieve that liberation, the administration is going to need to equip people with access to more comprehensive treatment that will free them from the bondage of opioid dependence.

About the Waismann Method® Experts

Clare Waismann, certified addiction treatment counselor, is the founder of Waismann Method® Advanced Treatment of Opiate Dependence and Domus Retreat. As an addiction treatment specialist with over 20 years’ experience, Waismann has served as an advocate for patients suffering from opioid use disorder and mental illness, working to provide the public with the proper education to eliminate the stigma associated with both conditions. Waismann, her team, and Waismann Method® have been featured in The New York Times, USA Today, Fox News, Vogue Magazine, WIRED Magazine, and many other media outlets around the world.

Dr. Michael H. Lowenstein, M.D., serves as the medical director for Waismann Method®. He is quadruple board-certified in anesthesiology; addiction medicine; pain management; and anti-aging, restorative, and regenerative medicine. Dr. Lowenstein is recognized by the international community as a leader in opiate detoxification and has provided cutting-edge medical treatment for patients suffering from opioid use disorder for over two decades. Dr. Lowenstein continues to enhance detoxification protocols to offer medical treatment for additional substances in a safer and more effective manner. Our commitment to the well-being of our patients is as strong now as it was 20 years ago when Waismann Method® was founded.

The post Finally an Administration Is Dealing with the Opioid Crisis Head-On appeared first on Rapid Detox by Waismann Method.

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The Drug Enforcement Administration doesn’t just fight the opioid crisis at U.S. ports of entry by seizing illegal drugs. Its National Drug Take Back Day events across the country on April 27 collect unused prescription pills and patches to help prevent drug abuse and overdose deaths.

The 2017 National Survey on Drug Use and Health revealed that 6 million Americans misused controlled prescription drugs — mostly painkillers — that year. The majority of abused prescription drugs were obtained from family and friends, such as taken from a home medicine cabinet, according to the DEA. National Drug Take Back Day aims eliminate unused pills in homes as a means for opioid abuse.

Don’t Let Your Unused Prescriptions Fall into the Wrong Hands

The 2019 National Drug Take Back Day theme, “Don’t Be the Dealer,” highlights how everyone can help prevent opioid abuse by responsibly disposing of unused prescriptions. Lost or stolen prescription opioids can be misused, shared, or sold illegally, perpetuating opioid abuse. Some people suffering from opioid use disorder seek out opportunities to pilfer prescription opioid pills from friends and family members. If people keep prescriptions stored away where others cannot easily access them and dispose of unused pills responsibly, they can prevent pills from being misused.

Initiatives such as Drug Take Back Day are designed to complement efforts to get prescription and illicit opioids off the street. The ultimate goal is to reduce the number of drug overdose deaths per year, currently at 70,000. More than 47,000 overdose deaths in 2017 involved opioids.

“Over the last two years, our nationwide Drug Take Back Day has recovered 3.7 million pounds of prescriptions drugs,” said President Donald Trump at the 2019 Rx Drug Abuse and Heroin Summit on April 24. “One of the most important steps to ending the opioid crisis is to prevent young people from ever using drugs in the first place.”

Where to Drop Off Your Unused Prescriptions on Drug Take Back Day

By participating in an event like Drug Take Back Day, you can make sure your unused opioids don’t fall into the wrong hands. All dropoffs are anonymous.

What you can drop off:

  • Unused or expired prescription pills
  • Unused or expired prescription patches

What you can’t drop off:

  • Illicit drugs
  • Liquids
  • Sharps
  • Asthma inhalers
  • Medications containing iodine

Where to drop off your unused prescriptions:

You can look up the nearest location participating in Drug Take Back Day by using the DEA’s drug collection site locator. If you miss the event, which is held twice a year, you can find a year-round drug disposal location using the Diversion Control Division’s controlled substance public disposal location finder.

If you can’t make it to any designated dropoff location, read the FDA’s guidelines for disposing of medications in the trash or by flushing them down the toilet. Some controlled substances present an environmental safety hazard, so don’t just toss them out without looking up how to properly and safely discard them.

Learn About Medical Detox Treatment for Opioid Dependence

National Drug Take Back Day also provides an opportunity for people to learn about treatment options for opioid use disorder. If you or a loved one is struggling with opioid dependence, you can find resources at Drug Take Back Day events and online.

One such option is medical detoxification. Medical detoxification, such as the Waismann Treatment™, is a safe and effective option for many people when it is performed correctly by a medical doctor.

Waismann Method® Medical Opiate Detox

Waismann Method® is the only provider of the Waismann Treatment™ and is one of the originators of anesthesia-assisted opiate detoxification. The medical director conducts a comprehensive medical evaluation of each patient to tailor the medical protocol to the individual’s health needs. Anesthesia-assisted rapid detox and inpatient medically assisted detox options are available depending on the patient’s medical and opioid use history. The treatments are performed by a quadruple board-certified medical doctor with decades of experience treating opioid dependence.

The Waismann Detox™ offers several benefits and options that other treatment programs do not. It lessens the discomfort and duration of acute withdrawal. In the anesthesia-assisted opiate detox, the patient is sedated during the withdrawal so that they have no recollection of the detoxification when they wake up.

Unlike other forms of medically assisted detox, the Waismann Treatment™ is designed to get patients completely off of opioids. No replacement drugs such as methadone or Suboxone are used. When medically appropriate, patients are given FDA-approved, non-addictive, non-opioid medications to prevent cravings after detox.

Waismann Method® offers superior medical care in a full-service, JCAHO-accredited hospital. Its doctors and staff also provide patients with professional care during the challenging post-detox transitional phase at its recovery center. The Waismann Detox™ takes less than two hours. The entire treatment, including recovery, can be completed in five to 10 days. Extended stays at the recovery center are also available.

Published on April 26, 2019

Reviewed by Clare Waismann, CATC, Founder of Waismann Method® Advanced Treatment for Opiate Dependence

Sources:

https://www.samhsa.gov/data/sites/default/files/cbhsq-reports/NSDUHDetailedTabs2017/NSDUHDetailedTabs2017.pdf

https://www.samhsa.gov/data/sites/default/files/cbhsq-reports/NSDUHMethodSummDefs2017/NSDUHMethodSummDefs2017.pdf

https://www.samhsa.gov/data/sites/default/files/cbhsq-reports/NSDUHDetailedTabs2017/NSDUHDetailedTabs2017.htm#tab1-22A

https://d14rmgtrwzf5a.cloudfront.net/sites/default/files/2609-misuse-of-prescription-drugs_0.pdf

https://www.samhsa.gov/data/report/2017-nsduh-detailed-tables

https://takebackday.dea.gov/sites/default/files/NTBI%20XVI%20Totals.pdf

https://www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov/drug_disposal/fact_sheets/disposal_registrant.pdf

https://www.getsmartaboutdrugs.gov/content/national-take-back-day

https://www.drugs.com/article/medication-disposal.html

https://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm101653.htm

https://www.fda.gov/drugs/resourcesforyou/consumers/buyingusingmedicinesafely/ensuringsafeuseofmedicine/safedisposalofmedicines/ucm186187.htm

All content found on this website, including text, images, audio, or other formats, was created for informational purposes only. The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.

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Links to educational content not created by this website are taken at your own risk. This website is not responsible for the claims of external websites and education companies.

All topics for the Opiates.com blog are selected and written based on high standards of editorial quality, including cited sources. Articles are reviewed by Clare Waismann, CATC and founder of Waismann Method®, for accuracy, credibility and relevancy to the audience. Clare Waismann is an authority and expert on opioid dependence, opioid use disorder, substance dependence, detoxification treatments, detox recovery, and other topics covered on the Opiates.com blog. Some articles are additionally reviewed by one of Waismann Method®’s specialists, depending on their field of expertise. For additional information and disclaimers regarding third-party sources and content for informational purposes only, please see our Terms of Service.

The post National Drug Take Back Day: DEA Tells Americans ‘Don’t Be the Dealer’ appeared first on Rapid Detox by Waismann Method.

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Waismann Method® Applauds FDA’s Opioid Label Changes but Cautions New Guidelines Are Not Enough

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif., April 10, 2019 — The U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s recent efforts to stem the tide of the opioid epidemic have received backlash from pain management doctors and chronic pain patients. By curtailing access to prescription opioids for everyone, the FDA also cut off patients who rely on these medications and have no alternative options for pain control. Patients dependent on prescription opioids suffer distressing withdrawal symptoms and pain when opioid use is suddenly decreased or discontinued. Furthermore, a large number of these patients have severe pain for multiple reasons, including hyperalgesia and other medical conditions.

The sudden restrictions on prescribing opioids have denied safe and effective treatment to hundreds of thousands of patients. People find themselves experiencing such a level of pain and desperation that they often become suicidal. The FDA is now responding to this safety concern by requiring changes to the prescribing information for opioid medications intended for use in outpatient settings, according to an FDA press release issued April 10, 2019.

The label changes will “provide expanded guidance to health care professionals on how to safely decrease the dose in patients who are physically dependent on opioid pain medicines when the dose is to be decreased or the medicine is to be discontinued.”

FDA’s New Label Changes Address Multiple Consequences from Other Opioid Regulations

These most recent changes are meant to benefit chronic pain patients. Not only have these patients suffered unnecessary increased pain from changes to their medication availability, but they also have been confused with people who are drug-seeking or doctor shopping for purposes of opioid abuse. Some of these patients suffer from hyperalgesia as well, which is a poorly understood condition in which a person develops an increased sensitivity to pain.

The FDA is working to address the consequences of rapid prescription opioid discontinuation. These prescribing method changes will hopefully prevent patients from trying to treat their pain and withdrawal symptoms with illicit opioids or, even more importantly, provide patients adequate treatment options for pain and dependence.

In light of these serious safety concerns, the FDA is now saying “health care professionals should not abruptly discontinue opioids in a patient who is physically dependent.” This is a welcome guideline for patients and doctors alike, as doctors have faced increasing pressure from the FDA, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Drug Enforcement Agency. The threat of prosecution for overprescribing has scared some doctors to the point of stopping prescribing opioids completely. The combination of these agencies’ efforts to end the opioid crisis has inadvertently victimized chronic pain sufferers and people dependent on prescription opioids.

Common-Sense Guidelines for Patient-Specific Treatment Plans

The FDA now is advising health care professionals to “create a patient-specific plan to gradually taper the dose of the opioid and ensure monitoring and support … to avoid serious withdrawal symptoms, worsening of the patient’s pain, or psychological distress.” It says there is no standard opioid tapering schedule for all patients. Instead, health care professionals should agree on a tapering schedule with their patients based on various factors specific to each patient, such as:

  • The dose of the drug
  • The duration of the treatment
  • The type of pain being treated
  • The patient’s physical and psychological attributes

Additionally, the FDA’s press release recommended that patients taking opioid pain medicines long term not suddenly stop taking their prescription opioid medication. Patients should instead discuss a plan with their health care professional to slowly decrease the dose of the opioid and continue to manage their pain.

To help FDA track safety issues with medicines, people can report side effects from opioids or other medicines to the FDA MedWatch program using the information in the Contact FDA page. The FDA also is including new prescribing information on other side effects of opioid pain medicines, including central sleep apnea and drug interactions. It also is updating proper opioid storage and disposal guidelines on its website.

Providing More Treatment Options for Patients on Opioid Drugs

Although the FDA’s newest guidelines correctly recommend individualized treatment plans for patients, the guidelines are limited to tapering off opioids slowly. There is not just one solution for all people struggling with opioid dependence. Some patients are candidates for other treatment options, such as medical opiate detoxification in a hospital. If the FDA and other agencies continue to make sweeping recommendations that aren’t multifaceted, they might continue to inadvertently create more victims caught in between the various guidelines.

“Patients need to be treated as individuals, and their treatment plans need to address their specific physical and emotional needs,” said Clare Waismann, CATC and founder of Waismann Method® Advanced Treatment for Opiate Dependence. They need comprehensive assessment of various factors, including:

  • Physical conditions
  • Emotional state
  • Degree of opioid dependence

With every new rule, some people benefit and others suffer. The team at Waismann Method® is glad the FDA and other agencies are working on reducing the tragic effects of the opioid crisis. As people are becoming more aware of the suffering already imposed on pain patients — from a lack of regulations to too many regulations — the Waismann Method® team hopes adequate efforts will prevent further suffering and suicides. Hopefully, patients and doctors will be able to create comprehensive and responsible treatment plans to improve patients’ health and quality of life.

About the Waismann Method® Experts

Clare Waismann, certified addiction treatment counselor, is the founder of Waismann Method® Advanced Treatment of Opiate Dependence and Domus Retreat. As an addiction treatment specialist with over 20 years’ experience, Waismann has served as an advocate for patients suffering from opioid use disorder and mental illness, working to provide the public with the proper education to  eliminate the stigma associated with both conditions. Waismann, her team, and Waismann Method® have been featured in The New York Times, USA Today, Fox News, Vogue Magazine, WIRED Magazine, and many other media outlets around the world.

Dr. Michael H. Lowenstein, M.D., serves as the medical director for Waismann Method®. He is quadruple board-certified in anesthesiology; addiction medicine; pain management; and anti-aging, restorative, and regenerative medicine. Dr. Lowenstein is recognized by the international community as a leader in opiate detox and has provided cutting-edge medical treatment for patients suffering from opioid use disorder for over two decades. Dr. Lowenstein continues to enhance detoxification protocols to offer medical treatment for additional substances in a safer and more effective manner. Our commitment to the well-being of our patients is as strong now as it was 20 years ago when it all started.

The post FDA Takes Steps to Limit Harm on Sudden Discontinuation of Prescription Opioids appeared first on Rapid Detox by Waismann Method.

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Patients who take antidepressants and opioids together can experience serious health risks. Despite that risk, doctors co-prescribed the two drug types in over 17 million office visits between 2013 and 2014, according to a 2018 study from Drug, Healthcare and Patient Safety. New research has shed more light on the dangerous consequences of these drug interactions. Millions of patients taking both drug types now face the question of how to address these risks and whether to reevaluate their antidepressant and painkiller prescriptions with their doctors.

These Are the Most Dangerous Consequences of Taking Antidepressants and Opioids Together

Patients taking antidepressant and opioids together can experience a range of adverse effects depending on the drug combination, from discomforts like diarrhea to potentially lethal conditions. Here are the three types of dangerous consequences a person could face when taking antidepressants and opioids.

1. Opioids Can Stop Working as Well

A 2019 PLOS One study revealed that the class of antidepressant known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) — such as Prozac and Zoloft — can impede the effectiveness of some common opioids known as prodrug opioids. This group of opioids includes codeine and hydrocodone, which is sold under various brand names such as Lorcet, Lortab, Norco and Vicodin. Prodrug opioids are metabolized in the liver by a specific enzyme, but SSRIs inhibit that enzyme. That makes combinations like Zoloft and Vicodin potentially harmful, for example.

The researchers studied over 4,000 surgical patients who were taking SSRIs. Patients in the study reported more pain on a scale of one to 10 after surgery, even eight weeks later. The researchers attributed the higher level of pain to the SSRIs decreasing the opioids’ effectiveness. This study focused exclusively on the interaction between SSRIs and prodrug opioids. Prodrug opioids are different from direct-acting opioids such as morphine and oxycodone.

The 2018 Drug, Healthcare and Patient Safety study found that one-fifth of opioid and SSRI co-prescribing included higher-risk opioids such as tramadol. The study also found that, out of the more than 7 million office visits it studied for patients diagnosed with migraines, over 16 percent of them reported opioid and SSRI co-prescribing.

Patients like those these studies face an added risk on top of significant pain, however. They also could develop an opioid tolerance. When some people stop feeling relief from the opioids they have been taking, they are at risk of wanting to take more of the drug than was originally prescribed. People who do start taking more opioids — such as to compensate for an SSRI inhibiting an opioid’s effectiveness —could potentially develop an opioid tolerance.

Already 21 percent to 29 percent of patients prescribed opioids for chronic pain misuse them, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. If doctors mismanage pain in patients also taking SSRIs, that number could climb significantly. Ultimately, they could add to the roughly 10 percent of pain patients prescribed opioids who develop an opioid use disorder.

2. Potentially Lethal Serotonin Syndrome Can Develop

Antidepressant and opioid drug interactions can cause serotonin syndrome. Serotonin syndrome is also referred to as serotonin toxicity. It’s a condition in which the body has too much serotonin, which can result in mild to life-threatening symptoms.

Types of antidepressants associated with an increased risk for serotonin syndrome include:

  • SSRIs
  • Serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs)
  • Serotonergic antidepressants, part of the drug class known as noradrenergic and specific serotonergic antidepressants (NaSSAs)

According to Neurology Times, meperidine (sold under brand names such as Demerol), methadone, and tramadol carry label warnings about the risk of serotonin syndrome, but other opioids most commonly linked to serotonin syndrome include:

  • Fentanyl
  • Methadone
  • Oxycodone

The 2018 Drug, Healthcare and Patient Safety study on co-prescribed antidepressants and opioids noted that tramadol predominated among the opioid combinations observed in the study. “Despite its warning label at that time, [this predominance] suggests that prescribers may lack awareness of the risk of excess serotonin agonism or perceive this risk to be negligible in their clinical decision making,” wrote the researchers. “This finding is of particular interest, as tramadol has been reportedly linked to a greater number of cases of serotonin syndrome than have other opioid agents.”

More than 40 million tramadol prescriptions were dispensed in 2017, and 1.6 million people reported misusing tramadol that year, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration. Prozac, the first SSRI to hit the market and still one of the most popular, was dispensed more than 24 million times in 2012 alone, according to Statista. At such prescribing rates, there is a significant chance of people taking tramadol and Prozac, presenting a risk for serotonin toxicity.

Serotonin toxicity symptoms can include but are not limited to the following health concerns, depending on the combination of antidepressants and opioids:

  • Anxiety
  • Clonus and myoclonus (involuntary muscle contractions)
  • Diarrhea
  • Fever
  • Hallucinations
  • Hypertension (high blood pressure)
  • Hypotension (low blood pressure)
  • Hypoxia (a condition in which body tissue lacks adequate oxygen)
  • Lethargy
  • Muscle rigidity
  • Seizures
  • Vomiting

One study in the Journal of Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine concluded that since serotonin syndrome (SS) is a clinical diagnosis, “heightened clinician awareness of the possibility of SS among patients receiving SSRI or mirtazapine in combination with opioids may lead to earlier detection and avoidance of potentially lethal consequences.”

Read More: Why Mood Disorders and Opiate Dependency Are Closely Related

3. Side Effects of Both Drugs Could Intensify

Another health risk of taking opioids and antidepressants is the overlapping side effects. Examples of the side effects antidepressants and opioids share include:

  • Drowsiness
  • Decreased respiration
  • Decreased heart rate

Because both drug types have side effects in common, taking them together means a person could experience those effects more intensely. For example, taking two medications that lower respiration, such as Xanax and hydrocodone, could potentially cause a person to stop breathing, depending on the drugs and dosages.

Between 1999 and 2017, the number of drug overdose deaths for women age 30-64 increased 260 percent, according to a 2019 Centers for Disease Control report. Part of that increase was the 492 percent escalation of overdose deaths involving opioids, but overdose deaths involving antidepressants increased by 176 percent as well. “Increases in deaths involving certain drugs might be the result of increases in certain drug combinations,” according to the report.

See Also: Your Guide to Safe Over-the-Counter Drug and Food Combinations

How You Can Reduce Your Risk of These Adverse Drug Interactions

Anticipating drug interactions is complicated. And for the average person, reading the full drug information pamphlet that comes with prescriptions can be daunting. The more patients and doctors communicate about antidepressants, opioids and drug interactions, however, the better their chances of reducing health risks.

If you need or want to get off of opioids to reduce your risk of adverse drug interactions or to reverse opioid dependence, medical detoxification might be a treatment option for you. Rapid detox is anesthesia-assisted detox performed in a hospital by a medical doctor. Waismann Method® has been a worldwide leader in this field since 1998. Waismann Method® also offers non-anesthesia medical detox for patients not eligible for anesthesia, depending on the person’s needs and factors such as type and amount of drug.

Patients who detox in unsafe or inadequate circumstances risk significant discomfort, pain or health complications. The Waismann Treatment™ offers the peace of mind of being in a full-service hospital treated by highly experienced medical professionals.

This medical team conducts a comprehensive medical evaluation prior to the Waismann Detox™ that accounts for any medications or health issues you might have. During the inpatient detox treatment, your vitals are monitored around the clock to ensure your well-being and make you as comfortable as possible.

Once you have successfully completed the detox, your body is opioid free. You can then address any other medical or emotional needs without the burden of opioids.

Published on March 29, 2019

All content found on this website, including text, images, audio, or other formats, was created for informational purposes only. The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.

If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor, go to the emergency department, or call 911 immediately. Reliance on any information provided by this website, its employees, contracted writers, or medical professionals presenting content for publication to this website is solely at your own risk.

The site and its content are provided on an “as is” basis.

Links to educational content not created by this website are taken at your own risk. This website is not responsible for the claims of external websites and education companies.

The post The 3 Biggest Risks of Antidepressant and Opioid Drug Interactions appeared first on Rapid Detox by Waismann Method.

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Physicians commonly prescribe opioids to treat pain, with more than 17 percent of Americans filling at least one opioid prescription in 2017, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Yet few people realize that prolonged use of opioids can actually make pain worse.

A condition called opiate-induced hyperalgesia remains relatively misunderstood by patients and physicians. Here’s what you need to know about hyperalgesia and what you can consider asking your doctor.

What Is Hyperalgesia?

The word “hyperalgesia” means increased (“hyper”) pain (“algesia”). Opiate-induced hyperalgesia is precisely what it sounds like: a condition in which taking opioids causes a person to experience a greater degree of pain.

Read More: What Is Hyperalgesia? Learn the Signs and Symptoms

It is difficult to estimate how many people suffer from hyperalgesia. Experts agree that there isn’t sufficient data to support or refute the condition’s existence and that the quality of available studies on hyperalgesia is poor, according to Practical Pain Management.

Scientists continue to study hyperalgesia, but the exact causes are not yet understood. When a person takes opioids, the opioid molecules bind to special receptors throughout the brain and body. The opioids block pain messages sent to the brain. For some people, after opioids bind, the pain receptors become even more sensitive, meaning as time goes on, even a less-painful stimulus can cause a severe pain response. When this condition develops, the brain receives major pain signals even when the circumstances would normally not be particularly painful.

Why Many Pain Patients Are Unaware of Hyperalgesia

Many pain patients have never heard of hyperalgesia and are unaware of its effects. Part of this lack of awareness may be due to physicians failing to mention the possibility of the condition because they think it’s unlikely in their patients.

According to a report on opioid-induced hyperalgesia by physicians at the Institute of Pain Medicine in Haifa, Israel, evidence to support the notion that opioid dose escalation causes OIH is limited, in part because studies of chronic pain patients have used various experimental pain models yielding inconsistent results that can be hard to interpret. The study noted that the need for pain models to establish the clinical diagnosis of OIH — and the need to indentify which specific model would be preferred — is yet to be determined.

Some medical practitioners simply write a prescription for opioid painkillers without thoroughly explaining every potential risk. Even if they do describe the risks, doctors may focus on the risk of addiction or developing a tolerance to the medication, not hyperalgesia. Thus, patients may not be informed that they could potentially experience greater pain as a result of taking opioid painkillers.

What Is the Difference Between Hyperalgesia and Tolerance?

Another difficulty patients encounter is understanding the difference between hyperalgesia and tolerance. Tolerance is a normal physiological reaction to taking opioid medications over an extended period of time. As your body becomes accustomed to the presence of opioids, your pain receptors can become less responsive to the drug. This means that you may need a higher dose to achieve the same painkilling effects that you used to get from a lower dose.

Many patients understand that developing a tolerance is a possible consequence of taking opioid painkillers. When some start to experience increased pain, however, they might increase their drug dose to compensate for the tolerance. Taking more opioids than prescribed can be dangerous, so pain patients can benefit from regularly communicating any changes in tolerance to their doctors.

Although patients who have developed a tolerance can still get the painkilling effects of opioids at a higher dose, patients experiencing opiate-induced hyperalgesia feel no effect or pain relief by taking more of the drug. Instead, taking more of the opiate could make things worse by causing pain receptors to become even more sensitized. Complicating things further, patients can experience both hyperalgesia and tolerance at the same time. Disentangling these effects can be challenging, making patient-doctor communication even more critical.

Why Diagnosing Hyperalgesia Is Important

The lack of studies on opioid-induced hyperalgesia makes it difficult to properly diagnose OIH and means there isn’t data to show how many people are affected by it. And this lack of data means that, even though the condition is a real problem, doctors don’t have evidence or data to make discussing the issue with patients a priority.

The few studies that have been conducted show evidence for hyperalgesia most clearly in patients taking extreme doses, such as opioid abusers and terminal cancer patients with severe pain, according to Science Magazine. Evidence of OIH in patients taking lower doses of opioids over long periods of time, such as when managing chronic pain over months or years, is harder to come by. Variables such as opioid tolerance levels, changes in the underlying condition, or changes in the patient’s chronic pain symptoms complicate diagnosing OIH. Some researchers are working to document changing pain thresholds with quantitative sensory tests to help diagnose OIH, according to Science Magazine.

Risks of Leaving OIH Untreated

Without an abundance of evidence of OIH and a clear method of diagnosing the condition, some doctors remain skeptical of it. Their skepticism can cause them to dismiss a patient’s complaint of excessive pain as exaggeration. Doctors might even mislabel pateints with hyperalgesia as “medication-seeking” if they don’t recognize hyperalgesia as the reason the patients are requesting more drugs.

One of the biggest risks of hyperalgesia going undiagnosed is that physicians might prescribe higher doses of opioid painkillers in an attempt to treat the patient’s pain. This leads to increased risk of developing or worsening an opioid use disorder. Conversely, if a doctor disregards the patient’s complaints of increasing pain as illegitimate, the patient could be at risk of several problems, such as excessive pain or a potential to use or abuse other drugs in an attempt to relieve hyperalgesia symptoms.

How to Recognize Signs of Hyperalgesia to Discuss With a Doctor

Some physicians are misinformed or underinformed about hyperalgesia, so patients have an opportunity to become their own advocates. People taking opioid painkillers can watch for symptoms of opioid-induced hyperalgesia to considering discussing with their doctor. The most common symptoms include:

  • Pain intensity that increases even though the underlying medical condition has not gotten worse
  • The area of pain becomes broader than the initially affected region
  • New pain develops in a different part of the body without a clear reason or diagnosis
  • Formerly painless stimuli now become painful (e.g., light touch or the sensation of wearing clothes may feel painful)
  • A change in the quality of the pain, even if it is difficult to describe how the pain has changed
Treatments for Hyperalgesia

The first step in treating hyperalgesia is getting a proper medical diagnosis from a doctor. Patients who suspect they might have hyperalgesia can talk to their prescribing doctors about their questions, pain, symptoms and responses to the medications.

Despite the lack of data currently limiting hyperalgesia research, a study in the Journal of Pain and Palliative Care Pharmacotherapy reported possible opioid and non-opioid treatment regimens for hyperalgesia.

The study’s possible treatment methods involving opioids, such as opioid switching, included using:

Possible non-opioid treatment regimens included using the following:

Much more research is needed to fully understand, diagnose and properly treat hyperalgesia. Because taking more opioids can make the condition worse, the non-opioid treatment regimens have the potential to be more effective.

How Medical Detox Can Help Treat Hyperalgesia

In order to start a non-opioid treatment for hyperalgesia, a patient would need to stop taking opioid medications. Patients suffering from hyperalgesia, however, might have difficulty with the potential discomfort associated with opioid withdrawal.

A safe, more comfortable and effective way to reverse a physical opioid dependence is medical opioid detoxification. Medical detox dramatically reduces the discomfort and duration of withdrawal. It provides a proven means of safely removing opioids from a person’s pain receptors. Removing the opioids enables their body to gradually return to a normal level of pain response.

Anesthesia-Assisted Detox

Rapid detox is an anesthesia-assisted form of medical detox that can remove opiates from a person’s system in a matter of hours. This procedure, when conducted correctly, is performed by a medical doctor in a full-service, accredited hospital and is highly effective. Waismann Method®, for example, is one of the originators of this procedure. The Waismann team has maintained a nearly 98 percent opioid detox success rate since 1998. The official Waismann Method® is exclusively located in Southern California, treating patients from around the world, and is the only medical detox provider that offers patients a superior combination of medical care and rapid detox experience under the leadership of a medical director who is board certified in pain management, anesthesia, addiction, and regenerative medicine.

For people managing chronic medical conditions, stopping opioid use might mean needing to find other ways to manage pain. Pain patients can consult their doctors about non-opioid medications and alternative treatments that may be used for pain management, such as:

  • Acetaminophen
  • Antidepressants
  • Gabapentin
  • Non-pharmaceutical options like physical therapy, biofeedback and acupuncture
  • NSAIDs

For pain patients working with their doctors to find the best treatment options for hyperalgesia and other opioid-related problems, the Waismann detox in a full-service hospital can be a viable part of a comprehensive treatment plan. Being treated by a medical doctor who has 20 years of experience performing the Waismann treatment of medical detox on a range of patients with various complications can provide the peace of mind needed to pursue the next step in opioid-free chronic pain management.

Published on March 21, 2019

All content found on this website, including text, images, audio, or other formats, was created for informational purposes only. The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.

If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor, go to the emergency department, or call 911 immediately. Reliance on any information provided by this website, its employees, contracted writers, or medical professionals presenting content for publication to this website is solely at your own risk.

The site and its content are provided on an “as is” basis.

Links to educational content not created by this website are taken at your own risk. This website is not responsible for the claims of external websites and education companies.

The post How Your Opioid Prescription Can Make Your Pain Worse: What You Need to Know About Hyperalgesia appeared first on Rapid Detox by Waismann Method.

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Opioid dependence and painkiller abuse have become significant issues among people over 65 years of age. Since 2002, the number of older adults misusing opioids has doubled, according to a 2017 report by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

Older adults commonly suffer from many painful degenerative conditions that invariably require some kind of pain management. These patients deserve adequate care and pain relief, but side effects and consequences of the indicated treatment plans have not always been adequately considered.

A Department of Health and Human Services report revealed that, of the 40 million senior citizens enrolled in Medicare Part D in 2016, one-third of them had been prescribed opioids. Moreover, a large number of those prescriptions were for more than the recommended dosage. This overprescribing is a perfect example of why opioid abuse among seniors rose to the extent it did in the last decade.

Opioid Use Disorder Poses Unique Risks for Seniors

Although opioid drugs can be safely used in short-term cases, long-term opioid prescriptions for seniors should be only initiated when other options are not available. In cases of prolonged opioid use, dependence and tolerance are more likely to develop.

Health care providers should watch for signs of opioid use disorder among this group of people. Signs of confusion or mood changes can misinterpreted as possible dementia and depression in older patients when those symptoms could actually be related to long-term opioid use.

Another concern among older individuals in particular is how they handle the realization that they have developed an opioid dependence. They often feel fear of withdrawal and shame about having a “drug problem,” both of which can keep them from getting the help they need.

Medical Detox Addiction Treatment for the Elderly

Opioid addiction treatment for seniors can be improved by creating more forms of prevention. In the meantime, improving people’s understanding of the difference between addiction, dependence, and tolerance can be a major tool to eliminate the stigma and shame keeping people from getting treatment.

Also, with increased opioid use prevention and treatment alternatives for pain management, we can prevent a large number of seniors from falling into the addiction trap. Once a physical dependence exists, however, it can be much safer and wiser for seniors to undergo a medical detox than other treatment options, such as rehab.

Medical detoxification is suitable for seniors because the procedure involves a team of medical professionals working to manage the dreadful symptoms of withdrawal while also monitoring vitals in a hospital. Furthermore, admitting patients into a private room of a hospital not only provides a much safer and more successful opioid detox but also gives patients privacy to help them feel less fear and shame. Finally, if people are treated for opioid use disorder early on, as soon as dependence occurs, addiction issues can be prevented.

How to Address Factors Putting Seniors at Risk of Opioid Dependence

People age 50 and over have distinct physiological, emotional, and mental health needs, so they require individualized diagnosis and adequate medical care. To prevent more senior citizens from becoming victims of opioid abuse, we need to expect doctors to manage pain symptoms using a safe and effective range of options. We must also provide accessible medical detoxification for those already suffering from opioid dependence.

Additionally, we need to be sensitive to how older people characterize their drug dependence. The stigma placed on addiction issues in the drug treatment space creates a damaging negative impact of shame for those who need help. This perception of shame can be particularly difficult to get past for seniors who have no history of drug abuse but simply took an opioid prescription from their doctor and ended up developing an opioid dependence.

Although opioid use disorder is often seen as an issue affecting people in younger age groups, seniors are at great risk as well. Degenerative conditions, chronic pain, and depression due to loss of autonomy are significant factors affecting seniors that can lead to opioid abuse. With more education, prevention and effective treatment options, however, seniors can get the care they need.

Published on March 13, 2019

Keep Reading: Why Are We Focusing on Addiction Instead of the Individual Behind It?

The post When Seniors Become Victims of Opioid Dependence, This Is the Kind of Help They Need appeared first on Rapid Detox by Waismann Method.

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The opioid crisis has become one of the deadliest phenomena of our time. With over 100 deaths a day in the U.S. from prescription and illicit opioid drugs, life expectancy has declined for the first time in many years. The escalation of this devastating issue was preventable. The tragic consequences will continue until we refocus our attention from treating the addiction to treating the individual affected by it.

New laws and restrictions on opioids are announced frequently — some very positive and some that don’t appear to be well thought-through, claiming new victims. The good news is that we are making progress; the bad news is that this progress is not fast enough or good enough. Every day, sadly, lives are lost, families are broken, and babies are born dependent on drugs.

We Have to Do Better at Educating People About How to Treat Addiction

People seeking treatment will often search online for “best addiction treatment in the U.S.” or “most successful addiction treatment near me,” but what are they really looking for? Is addiction the issue or is it the consequence? Are drug rehabs failing to successfully treat patients because they are not focusing on the real problem?

To understand the issue of addiction and treat it successfully, we first need to identify the cause. Treating addiction without addressing the reason for the addiction is like cleaning the blood without closing the wound; eventually, the patient will most likely bleed to death.

Additionally, trying to treat someone without detoxing them first negatively impacts any effort to change the behavioral aspect of the condition. With the emotional fog caused by the substance removed, an effective psychological assessment is more easily attained.

When people search for addiction treatment, they’re looking for a way to change their lives for the better as soon as possible and for the long term. They’re not looking to sign up for a lifelong sentence to punitive treatment as a condemned “addict.” And they’re not looking to commit to a pattern of treatment that keeps them dependent on the treatment instead of dependent on the substance. In some ways, ineffective, cyclical treatments can seem like trading one prison for another. People are looking for real freedom, and those of us committed to providing drug treatment need to help them find it. Settling for anything less is unacceptable.

Keep Reading About Addiction Stigma: Why You Should Never Call Someone an “Addict”

What Is the Best Way to Treat Opioid Addiction?

Ultimately, the best way to solve the opioid crisis is to prevent opioid addiction from developing. We can do that by providing more education about mental health and addiction — and, more importantly, by providing accessible mental health care.

The best way to treat opioid addiction is to provide immediate and adequate medical detoxification once dependence occurs. A significant number of people who currently suffer from prescription painkiller addiction started with an untreated physical opioid dependence. That dependence then escalated to higher tolerances and, eventually, full-blown addiction.

Imagine the different life outcome if, instead of being left to allow the addiction to develop, that person had instead received medical detox treatment when they first noticed the dependence. After a few days in the hospital, they could have moved on to a productive life without spending years scared and ashamed of their growing need for drugs.

This medical solution is available now, but for a number of reasons, it’s mostly ignored. Instead of getting fully detoxed from their physical opioid dependence in a full-service hospital, people battling opioid use disorder are seeking or being persuaded to choose other types of treatments, such as:

  • Replacement drugs
  • Long-term inpatient rehab
  • Long-term outpatient rehab

When people finally find the courage to seek help from friends, family or various treatment professionals, they are most frequently either offered more drugs or they’re locked into a long-term rehab commitment. These approaches to treatment are often ineffective. They can delay a person from getting the help they truly need or can leave them feeling like a failure, more hopeless than when they first sought help.

See Also: The Insanity of the Growing Opioid Crisis — Expecting Different Results with the Same Old Approach

Why Replacement Drugs Don’t Work

Replacement drugs just take patients from one opioid to another one with even longer effects. Drug replacement therapy has been touted as a means of providing people with legal access to drugs they might otherwise seek through illegal means. It also has been cited as a way to prevent people from turning to more dangerous, illicit forms of opioids. Although this approach might be well-meaning, it prolongs a person’s dependence on drugs instead of giving them a means of getting off opioids.

Why Drug Rehabs Keep Failing

For some people, getting away from their environment is the safe thing to do. For example, if they’re around people who enable drug use or are being subjected to trauma or stress that compels them to take more opioids, then getting away from that environment can, of course, be beneficial. But simply going from a negative environment to a rehab is insufficient, and drug rehabs need to be candid about what they can and can’t provide. Moreover, temporarily escaping a stressful environment is not enough; people need to be prepared for what they have to do after they complete a drug treatment.

It would be unrealistic, and maybe arrogant, to believe one rehab, program or health care provider could take care of all of a person’s medical, emotional and social issues. It is even more ludicrous to think one can heal it all in just 30, 60 or 90 days. It is also challenging to have a good success rate when applying the same kind of support or treatment to everyone, regardless of each individual’s different needs.

We often hear people say how many times they failed drug treatment. But the real question is not whether they failed but whether the drug treatment program failed them.

One of the most significant factors that can aggravate depression is feeling lonely and misunderstood. People want to be acknowledged as an individual with unique needs, traits and hopes. They want to be seen, heard and understood.

Telling someone that they will always be an “addict” — a label that can carry a lifelong connotation — strips them of the hope of feeling at ease with themselves. It furthers the mischaracterization that they are beneath the rest of society. These feelings of hopelessness and loneliness are common triggers for people to continue to seek the numbing effects of drugs.

A more practical, effective approach is to tackle the problems burdening the person dependent on opioids layer by layer:

  • First, remove the physical dependence. Medical detoxification, such as anesthesia-assisted rapid detox, performed by a medical doctor in a full-service hospital is a safe, humane and effective way to reverse a person’s physical opioid dependence.
  • Second, with the opioids removed from the patient’s system, the patient can be supported through the challenging transitional phase that follows. They can start adjusting physically to being opioid free and relearn what it feels like to live without the numbing effects of opioids.
  • Third, with the physical component of the drug dependence treated, the patient can now be properly diagnosed for any previously untreated emotional issues that triggered the opioid use. In a healthier physical state equipped with an accurate diagnosis, they can pursue a course of treatment for those issues.
Is there a Solution for Addiction?

Of course there is a solution for addiction. But to achieve that solution, we have to focus on the person, not on the symptoms. Our priority has to be understanding the “why” behind the condition first. Then we can figure out the “how” for the person to be able to experience positive change.

As health care providers, we need to be humble enough to know we don’t have all the answers and realize the limitations of what we can promise someone in need. Through education and discussion, we need to help people break out of the habit of relying on preconceived notions of what drug treatment has to be.

More importantly, we need to embrace science and discard judgment. Let us restore hope and faith for those who see darkness.

Most of all, we need to educate the public on what opioid use disorder is. Make effective medical detoxification accessible for all who need it, not just those who can afford it out of pocket. Finally, make mental health assistance availability a priority in our society. We can save lives, but first, we need to prioritize the value of each life.

— Clare Waismann, CATC, founder of Waismann Method® Advanced Treatment for Opiate Dependence and Domus Retreat

Published on March 8, 2019

Keep Reading: Opioid Addiction vs. Opioid Dependence — Key Differences in Symptoms and Treatments You Need to Know

The post Why Are We Focusing on Addiction Instead of the Individual Behind It? appeared first on Rapid Detox by Waismann Method.

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Of the more than 30 million Americans who have kidney disease, most don’t even know they have it, according to the National Kidney Foundation. Often, no symptoms of kidney disease are apparent until the disease has progressed. National Kidney Month this March is an opportunity to shed light on the damage opioid use can do to kidneys so that people can get treatment as early as possible before kidney damage progresses to a dangerous point.

Learn More: Opioid Side Effects and Risks

What Do Kidneys Do?

Most people have two kidneys, which are organs that filter waste out of 200 liters of your blood per day, including removing drugs from your body. They release hormones that regulate blood pressure and produce a form of vitamin D that promotes bone health. Additionally, they regulate the body’s:

  • Fluids
  • Salt content
  • Potassium content
  • Acid content
  • Production of red blood cells
How Opioid Use Can Harm Your Kidneys

Both prescription opioids and illicit opiate drugs can directly and indirectly cause internal damage, including to the kidneys. Additives in street heroin, for example, can include substances that do not readily dissolve, clogging the blood vessels leading to organs such as the kidneys and causing infection or death of small patches of organ cells, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

How Opioids Can Increase Your Risk of Kidney Damage

Evidence suggests a link between opioid use and kidney disease, according to a 2017 International Journal of Molecular Sciences study. Although opioids can be used responsibly for pain control in those with kidney disease, according to the study, renal toxicity appears amid inappropriate use, such as in the following contexts:

  • Higher-than-needed doses
  • In the presence of other toxins
  • With pre-existing dehydration
  • Prostate enlargement

Chronic kidney disease could result from the method in which the opioid was administered, such as intravenously. For example, the study notes that skin-popping can result in amyloidosis, an abnormal protein build-up that can lead to organ failure, and heroin-associated kidney damage can cause end-stage renal disease.

Opioid overdose can result in acute kidney injury, the study also noted, due to the following conditions:

  • Dehydration
  • Hypotension (low blood pressure)
  • Rhabdomyolysis (breakdown of muscle tissue resulting in muscle fiber contents being released into the blood)
  • Urinary retention
What to Know If You Have Kidney Disease and Are Taking Opioids

Opioids are sometimes prescribed to kidney patients for palliative care or following surgery. They are analgesic drugs prescribed to alleviate pain by attaching to opioid receptors in the brain and spinal cord. Examples of synthetic opioid derivatives prescribed for kidney patients include hydrocodone and oxycodone.

Because prescription opioids can be addictive, it’s crucial for patients to follow their doctor’s instructions for appropriate use. The National Kidney Foundation recommends the following tips for kidney disease patients who have been prescribed opioids:

  • Communicate with your doctors and healthcare providers regularly about your medication use.
  • Never take more medication than you are prescribed. If you are not getting enough pain relief, talk to your doctor.
  • Do not share your medications with anyone and keep them away from children.
  • Avoid drinking alcohol.
  • Talk to your doctor right away if you are having any side effects such as constipation, breaking problems or if you have had issues with substance abuse in the past. Your doctor may be able to discuss alternative treatments for you or recommend methods to lessen the opioid side effects.

Read: 5 Ways to Relieve Opiate-Induced Constipation

Link Between Dialysis Patient Opioid Use and Death

As kidney disease advances, it can lead to kidney failure and end-stage renal disease. In recent years, aggressive pain treatment for ESRD included prescription opioids. A 2017 study on opioid prescription morbidity and mortality in dialysis patients published in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology found that patients with short-term (less than 90 days) and chronic opioid prescriptions had increased mortality, dialysis discontinuation and hospitalization. The study also found that:

  • More than 60 percent of dialysis patients had at least one opioid prescription every year.
  • Approximately 20 percent of patients had a chronic (90-day supply or more) opioid prescription each year, usually for hydrocodone, oxycodone, or tramadol.
  • All opioid drugs associated with mortality; most associated with worsened morbidity.

The study concluded that opioid drug prescriptions for dialysis patients is associated with increased risk of death, dialysis discontinuation and hospitalization. It recommended considering efforts to treat pain effectively while decreasing opioid prescriptions.

Treatments to End Opioid Dependence Before Kidney Disease Advances

With heightened awareness on kidney health, National Kidney Month is a good time to get your kidneys checked by a doctor and consult a physician or detoxification specialist about how to get off opioids safely.

People in the early stages of kidney disease may not show symptoms, and many people don’t find out they have kidney disease until their kidneys are permanently damaged, which is why you should get tested early, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. The institute recommends asking your doctor:

  • Have I been tested for kidney disease?
  • How healthy are my kidneys?
  • How often should I get my kidneys checked?
  • What should I do to keep my kidneys healthy?

One thing you might find you can do to protect your kidney health is to stop using opioids. If you require acute pain management, talk to your doctor about your pain management options. If you do not require opioids for pain management, however, such as if you are abusing a prescription, self-medicating for other reasons, or are using illicit opiates, you could discuss your detoxification treatment options with a specialist.

Fast, Safe and Effective Rapid Detox Treatment

Rapid detox is a method of treatment to end physical opioid dependence. In this treatment conducted in a hospital, you, the patient, are sedated for a relatively short period of time while a medical doctor flushes the opioids from your system, pushing them off the opioid receptors. When you wake up, the physical dependence is reversed, the worst of the acute withdrawal has passed, and you can move on to a short recovery period and adjusting to an opioid-free life.

Similarly, non-anesthesia medical detox involves detoxification in a hospital under the supervision of a medical doctor. Both treatments ensure the safety and effectiveness of the detox process by providing medical care throughout the course of treatment.

A leader in the field of rapid detox treatment is Waismann Method®, which has been successfully performing detox treatments on thousands of patients for over 20 years. Waismann Method® enhanced its approach to rapid detox and non-anesthesia medical detox by using superior medical protocols tailored to each patient’s unique medical and emotional needs. The process begins with a comprehensive medical evaluation, including assessing organ function, so that all vitals are appropriately monitored throughout treatment. This approach, combined with the treatment center’s safety standards and unmatched level of experience, dramatically increases the likelihood of the patient successfully completing detox to become opioid free.

Keep Reading: Why Waismann Method® Is the Leading Opioid Detoxification Treatment Center

By reversing the physical dependence on opioids, you are then freed of that burden to follow courses of treatment for underlying causes of the drug dependence. And without having to process opioids, your kidney health — and your health in general — can improve.

The post How Your Opioid Dependence Can Cause Kidney Damage — and What You Can Do About It appeared first on Rapid Detox by Waismann Method.

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