Addiction (to Narcotics)
One of the biggest problems faced in American health care is the growing trend of narcotics addictions. These narcotics addictions are not the kinds that leap to mind when you think of a classic “drug addict”—as today there are people with active lifestyles who have become dependent upon an opiate painkiller through no fault of their own. In fact, people are becoming addicted to painkillers by following their doctors’ orders! Frequently due to the fact that narcotic pain management is considered the viable and available treatment option, one that is considered cost effective and championed to physicians by aggressive pharmaceutical company marketing, and sadly but often a result of simple laziness, physicians are handing out open-ended prescriptions for painkillers in ever increasing amounts and dosages, leading to a shocking trend of addiction in epidemic proportion.
The good news is that there are treatment options being pioneered to fight this alarming trend. It used to be that aside from going “cold turkey” a synthetic opioid called methadone became one of the only ways to wean oneself off prescription drugs and heroin. The problem is methadone creates a dependency on methadone when improperly administered, which it often is, by methadone clinics that have become a billion dollar industry. And while methadone is a better alternative than painkiller or herion use, it is still an addiction that takes a shocking physical toll. Today there is detox and treatment that can end drug dependency without creating a new one. One such program is offered at the Lakehouse Recovery Center in Westlake Village, California. The Lakehouse substance abuse treatment program utilizes holistic modalities that, by treating the mild, body and spirit, create the support systems needed to combat drug addiction and promote long-term recovery.
One of the biggest problems facing in the medical community today is the problem of opiate abuse–not by patients, but by doctors. Few would disagree that opiate drugs like hyrdrocodone, oxycodone, and methadone are being over-prescribed, but there are also few that would do anything about it.
A large part of this problem stems from doctors lacking time or resources to treat a number of their patients. When someone is suffering from chronic pain or a similar ailment, it can be hard and time-consuming to find a proper course of treatment. Many doctors don’t know how to effectively manage their patients’ pain, and many more simply don’t have the time to be able to attend to these patients in detail. As a result, physicians will prescribe potent painkillers for patients to anesthetize the pain. This makes the patient’s pain go away, but is often a solution that reeks of overkill. Patients then take the painkillers, unaware that their doctor has no clear objective of how or when to end the course of narcotics, and the patient is soon dependent on the drug.
Opiate addiction is characterized by behaviors of the individual which include lack of control over drug use, compulsive use of the specific drug, continued use regardless of the physical, emotional and social consequences and continued craving for the drug. A state of tolerance exists in that the addict adapts to the effects of the drug over time and consequently, higher doses are required to provide the needed results.
Some of the signs and symptoms of opiate addiction include restlessness, hyperactive behavior, poor physical coordination, inability to concentrate, poor judgment, slurred speech and euphoria. The danger of accelerated heartbeat can result in coma or death. The addict displays marked changes in attitude and behavior and relationships with family members deteriorate. Performance at work and/or school decreases. Lying and stealing may occur. Individuals may steal money from family members to finance their drug use and may also steal and pawn or sell objects like television sets, jewelry, etc.
Opiate addiction is believed to be a disorder of the central nervous system resulting from continuous use of opiates. Because of prolonged opiate use, natural pain killers, known as endorphins, no longer function normally. Endorphins are no longer produced by the body because it is instead receiving opiates. Since these nerve cells in the brain have degenerated, a physical dependency results wherein the body must have a supply of opiates from an external source. If and when the individual no longer has a supply of opiates, the body experiences the trauma of withdrawal symptoms.
When you are addicted to drugs, the opiates in the drug stimulate “receptors” in the brain. When those receptors don’t get the opiates they crave, the brain tells the body and the body responds by going into “withdrawal.” These symptoms, i.e., anxiety, sleeplessness, muscle aches and pains, diarrhea, etc., are often accompanied by physical and psychological cravings for opiates. The package is most unpleasant and symptoms can last, in many cases, for weeks.
Withdrawal symptoms vary among people, even those addicted to the same drug. However, it is certain that these will include intense anxiety and a craving for the drug. As this craving is not met, withdrawal symptoms will become more severe, possibly even including depression. In short, withdrawal is a dangerous state, and it is both dangerous and ineffective to try to detoxify “cold turkey” and without medical supervision.
Ativan is the brand name for Lorazepam, an anti-anxiety agent. Ativan is a benzodiazepine and mild tranquilizer, sedative, and central nervous system (CNS) depressant. The sudden cessation of any benzo without medical supervision may lead to seizure. Benzodiazepines like Ativan, Klonipin, Valium and Xanax are addictive if taken regularly over a long period of time and should not be stopped without medical supervision. Medical detoxification may take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks.
A derivative of the opioid alkaloid thebaine that is a more potent and longer lasting analgesic than morphine. It appears to act as a partial agonist at mu and kappa opioid receptors and as an antagonist at delta receptors. The lack of delta-agonist activity has been suggested to account for the observation that buprenorphine tolerance may not develop with chronic use. This analgesic binds to one of the subclasses of opioid receptors called mu receptors.
Buprenorphine was first developed over ten years ago for pain management. It bumps conventional opiates off the receptors in the brain, replacing those opiates and stimulating the receptors in a similar way. The brain then tells the body that it is satisfied and doesn’t need to go into withdrawal. It will therefore not only eliminate withdrawal symptoms, but cravings for opiates as well. When a patient is weaned off of Buprenorphine, it doesn’t cling as tenaciously to the receptors as a real opiate. Therefore, the patient has energy and is fully functional even as his dosage is lowered. It is an entirely different experience than weaning off of conventional opiates. There is no fatigue, depression or anxiety commonly associated with the cessation of addicting opioids.
The Buprenorphine does not become a substitute for the addiction, but instead treats the otherwise-painful symptoms of withdrawal. Once the body has been thoroughly detoxified, the Buprenorphine treatment ends with no visible effects.
Buprenorphine Addiction Treatments
Buprenorphine has been is being used successfully in the detox of opiate dependent patients in programs like those offered at the Lakehouse Recovery Center. The Lakehouse attributes most of their success to a holistic approach to recovery, which allows the patient to detox in a comfortable, safe and supervised environment that is also conducive to personal growth. The increasingly successful treatment of opiate addiction has only been made possible by the development of new treatment protocols utilizing Buprenorphine, a breakthrough in the treatment of opiate addiction.
Scientists have been seeking a remedy for opiate addiction for generations. Believe it or not, morphine was used to treat opium addiction, heroin was created to treat morphine addiction, and methadone was developed to treat heroin addiction. While each of these steps created a less intense drug, they required carefully measured dosages for an indeterminate amount of time. Finally, with Buprenorphine, science has found what it has been looking for. With buprenorphine, the body experiences the plateau effect. No high is created and you cannot abuse this drug.
Codeine is a member of the drug class opiates. Opiates include all naturally occurring drugs with morphine-like effects such as codeine and all semi and fully synthetic drugs with morphine-like effects such as heroin and meperidine (Demerol).
Given darvocet’s similarities to methadone, it’s not surprising that the drug is as addictive as it is. In fact, the medical journal Clinical Pharmacology even argued that darvocet’s “most prominent effect…may be its addictive quality.”
Demerol is a narcotic analgesic (opiate pain medication) prescribed for short-term treatment of moderate to severe pain.
Dilaudid preparations are similar to those containing morphine, but are stronger and have fewer side effects.
Heroin, a member of the opiate family, is a pain killing drug that is made from the opium poppy. Before it is exported from its various countries of origin, it is processed from raw opium into a brown powder that is approximately 70% pure heroin. It is then mixed with several chemicals such as acetic anhydride and hydrochloric acid and is dried and sieved.
Heroin is manufactured in laboratories in remote areas using simple equipment, where it is packaged into brick form for shipment. Small amounts of this narcotic are smuggled by couriers known as “mules” who either swallow latex balloons filled with heroin or else smuggle the drug in a balloon in a body cavity in the hope that it will not be discovered. This, of course, is extremely dangerous on the part of the couriers as if the balloon were to burst, death from an overdose could occur.
When smoked or injected, this is a fast acting narcotic. Mainlining (direct injection into a vein) creates a sense of euphoria within seven to eight seconds. Injection into a muscle brings on a high within five to eight minutes. Effects of smoking heroin take a few minutes more to reach a slightly lesser high.
While the preferred means of heroin use had been either subcutaneous (skin popping), intramuscular or intravenous, a number of addicts in the United States now snort the drug due to the availability of a purer grade of heroin on the street. Heroin abusers may find themselves addicted fairly rapidly. Addiction can occur anywhere from three days to one to two weeks of constant use based upon the length of use and the size of the dose used. This drug remains popular because of the intensity of the sensation created and consequently, the habit is hard to kick.
Rarely does a heroin addict obtain the drug in its pure form which is a white, bitter-tasting powder. Heroin that is bought on the street is usually cut with any of the following: quinine, powdered milk, starch or sugar and some unscrupulous dealers resort to using brick dust as an additive. Heroin addicts are so accustomed to buying a lower grade that when a higher grade is somehow obtained, death may occur due to the increase in strength.
The reason that heroin is so addictive is because of its rapid entry into the brain. Heroin addiction provides an effect that occurs almost immediately and some users feel sick upon initial use as the drug crosses the blood-brain barrier. Once heroin enters the brain, it is converted to morphine and the user feels a “rush”, an overwhelming feeling of pleasure. Based on how much of the drug is used and at what speed the heroin enters the brain, the result is an intense feeling of warmth and calmness which spreads through the body of the user. Problems, worries and any form of physical pain are blocked from consciousness. After a “fix”, the heroin addict feels that the world and his or her life is good – until such time, of course, that the sensation wears off and the user returns to the real world and all the attendant problems. He then must concern himself with the details involved in scoring the next hit.
The first step of the treatment process for heroin addiction is detox (detoxification). This highly addictive opiate requires medical supervision. Not all drugs require medical detox. However, an abuser of heroin should never attempt to detox without his or her vital signs (heart rate and blood pressure) being closely monitored in case of complications.
A period of detox is important because until the individual’s body is purged of drugs, the craving for more heroin will cause severe withdrawal symptoms. While the heroin abuser is going through the detox process, he or she will be unable to fully concentrate on participating in rehabilitation and treatment and consequently, is not ready for recovery. Use of heroin and other opiates over a long period of time has a negative effect on the nerve cells in the brain and disrupts its normal functioning. Endorphins, which are natural painkillers, are routinely produced by these nerve cells. However, use of heroin replaces these cells in the brain’s receptors which results in a craving for continued high doses of opiates. Since the nerve cells are changed in this way, dependency on heroin – an external source of painkillers – occurs.
Research states that approximately 30% of patients who are heroin addicts attempting detox through traditional inpatient treatment are unable to complete more than three days of detox because of the intensity of withdrawal and cravings for the drug.
Heroin, which is processed from morphine, is also known by the street names of “H”, “smack”, “skag” and “junk” among other names based upon the geographical area where the drug is used. This powerful narcotic can become physically and physiologically addictive as regular use continues over time.
Consequently, regular use of heroin results in drug tolerance. What this means is that the heroin addict must use more and higher doses to achieve the results he or she previously obtained when first using the drug. This results in physical dependence on the drug because the individual’s body has become used to its presence.
If the heroin dose is reduced or use of the drug is stopped, withdrawal symptoms will occur. Regular users may experience initial symptoms of withdrawal within only a few hours after ingesting the last dose. Between 48 and 72 hours after administration of the last dose of the drug, major withdrawal symptoms will reach their peak. Heroin addicts have reported that symptoms of withdrawal can be likened to a severe case of the flu.
Some of the symptoms of heroin withdrawal include the following:
- loss of appetite
- runny nose
- muscle cramps
- goose bumps
- extreme sweating or chills
- watery eyes
- stomach cramps
Although purer heroin is becoming more common, most street heroin is “cut” with other drugs or with substances such as sugar, starch, powdered milk, or quinine. Street heroin can also be cut with strychnine or other poisons. Because heroin abusers do not know the actual strength of the drug or its true contents, they are at risk of overdose or death. Heroin also poses special problems because of the transmission of HIV and other diseases that can occur from sharing needles or other injection equipment.
Hydrocodone is an opioid that is listed in Schedule II of the Controlled Substances Act. Medications that contain this narcotic combined with other non-narcotic ingredients are listed in Schedule III of the Controlled Substances Act. In the United States alone, there are over two hundred drugs on the market that contain hydrocodone.
Some of the products that are commonly combined with hydrocodone are:
- hydrocodone + acetaminophen = Vicodin and Lortab
- hydrocodone + aspirin = Lortab ASA
- hydrocodone + ibuprofen = Vicoprofen
- hydrocodone + antihistamines = Hycomine
Hydrocodone is available in tablet as well as in capsule and liquid forms (Tussionex). The Schedule II drug is pure hydrocodone. Consequently, this narcotic is tightly controlled and hydrocodone on this level is not easy to obtain. However, when combined with other non-narcotic medications under Schedule III classification, laxer regulation makes them easier to obtain and hence results in more hydrocodone abuse through Lortab and Vicodin.
If you try to remove this drug from your body, you will experience withdrawal–which includes feeling ill and getting strong cravings for the drug. If you don’t cave to these cravings, you can experience more severe withdrawal symptoms that in some cases can even be life-threatening.
When your body is presented with an opioid like hydrocodone, there are three kinds of receptors in your brain that are activated. Named for Greek letters, your Mu, Kappa, and Delta receptors are activated in response to any kind of opioid–including illegal drugs like heroin and prescription drugs like hydrocodone and oxycodone. When these receptors are activated, they induce analgesic and euphoria.
Prolonged activation of these sites causes the brain to respond in a way that causes two phenomena: tolerance and dependency. As the brain is exposed to opioids more frequently, it causes it to need higher doses to achieve the same analgesic and euphoric qualities. In addition, the brain starts to become dependent upon the opioid, and to experience painful withdrawal symptoms when it is removed. Because of the lack of strict control, more widespread hydrocodone abuse occurs in the form of over-prescription, theft, “doctor shopping” and forged prescriptions.
In 1923, the first report appeared linking hydrocodone to addiction and advising that use of this drug can result in noticeable euphoria. In 1961, the first report about hydrocodone addiction was published in the United States. In 2002, an estimated 4.5 million individuals (aged 12 and over) were reported to have used hydrocodone for nonmedical reasons at some point in their lifetime. Hydrocodone, which is considered to be similar in morphine in all respects, have a laundry list of side effects. These include, but are not limited to, the following:
- nausea and vomiting
- decreased sex drive
- emotional dependence
- difficulty breathing
- tightness in chest
- severe dizziness or weakness
- mood swings
Symptoms of hydrocodone overdose are:
- kidney problems
- liver failure
- slow heartbeat
- troubled breathing
- low blood pressure
- heart problems
- extreme sleepiness possibly resulting in coma
- cold, clammy skin
Lortab is a medication which is commonly prescribed as a pain killer. This drug is a combination of acetaminophen (Tylenol) and hydrocodone and is a brand name for these two products. It is an opioid prescribed by doctors for relief of pain after surgery, for arthritis and for sports injuries. It is also prescribed by dentists for pain relief after oral surgery.
Hydrocodone is used as an anti-cough agent. As an analgesic, it is used in the management of mild to moderate pain. However, when taken orally, five mg. of this drug is the equivalent of thirty mg. of codeine. If this medication is taken according to direction, it can be used to effectively manage pain. Abuse of this drug can affect areas of the brain that changes the way an individual experiences pain. Lortab abuse can also affect parts of the brain that control our perceptions of pleasure which results in the feelings of euphoria caused by opiate use. Further results can include drowsiness, constipation and the possibility of depressed breathing. A large overdose could result in severe respiratory depression or even death.
Patients taking this narcotic should not stop using it abruptly but should receive medical supervision when stopping its use to avoid symptoms of withdrawal. Some of these withdrawal symptoms can include:
- nausea and/or vomiting
- aches and pains in muscles and bones
- cold flashes with goose bumps
When a patient is given a prescription for Lortab, he or she may not have been informed by the prescribing physician about the nature of this drug. The patient may not be aware that Lortab is a combination of acetaminophen (commonly known as Tylenol) and hydrocodone (an active narcotic analgesic and anti-cough agent).
The patient may not have been informed of the addictive nature of this drug. He or she may not have been warned that it is important to take the drug exactly as prescribed and not to take a larger dose than was prescribed and not to take the drug earlier than prescribed. Without these warnings, the patient may have done all of the aforementioned and as a result, become addicted. Consequently, the patient may experience some of these common side effects: nausea, vomiting, constipation, light-headedness, dizziness and sedation.
Some side effects that are less common are: mood swings, skin rash, seizures, yellowing of skin or eyes, allergic reactions such as closing of your throat, swelling of your lips, tongue or face, unusual fatigue, anxiety, difficulty in urinating, irregularity in breathing, mental cloudiness and respiratory depression.
Lortab, which is the brand name for a blend of acetaminophen (commonly known as Tylenol) and hydrocodone, can be used in effective pain management if taken according to your doctor’s prescription. When this drug attaches to opioid receptors in your brain, spinal cord or gastrointestinal tract, the way you experience pain can be changed. In addition, changes that occur in the brain are responsible for the resultant compulsion to use drugs that is defined as addiction.
Often addicts who take acetaminophen in excessive doses over a long period of time may wind up with a severe case of hepatotoxicity. A dangerous dose is considered to be 10 to 15 grams of acetaminophen within a 24 hour period. In order to get around the possibility of this problem, some users will remove some of the acetaminophen since a portion of the drug is water soluble. Because of the concern about possible liver damage, some addicts will limit their opiate use to OxyContin which is a pure form of narcotic. Common side effects of Lortab abuse include nausea, vomiting, constipation, lightheadedness, drowsiness, euphoria and dizziness.
Some of the symptoms of Lortab overdose include but are not limited to:
- stomach or intestinal spasms
- heavy perspiration
- cold, clammy hands
- blue lips and fingertips
- shallow breathing
- muscle spasms
- slow and labored breathing
- low blood pressure
If you are addicted to Lortab or other opiate painkillers such as hydrocodone or oxycodone, you’ve come to the right place. There are millions of Americans currently addicted to prescription medications. These powerful and effective drugs are often prescribed by physicians without an “exit strategy.” Patients treat legitimate underlying pain issues with drugs like Lortab or OxyContin, but then find themselves dependent on the meds and don’t know how to stop.
Methadone is a synthetic narcotic which has effects that are similar to morphine. Originating in Germany, it began being used in clinics after World War II.
Doctors Marie Nyswander and Vincent Dole started to promote methadone in the 1960’s to aid in the rehabilitation of narcotics addicts. This is a Schedule II drug under the Controlled Substances Act and is commonly used in the United States, Thailand, Sweden and Hong Kong in methadone maintenance programs. The legal purpose of methadone is to reduce cravings for opiates. Since these cravings are suppressed for a period of 24 to 36 hours, the drug can be taken once a day for treatment of addiction to opiates.
This narcotic, which is available in several forms, may only be prescribed and dispensed to treat opiate addiction by licensed doctors who are certified by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. However, any licensed physician may prescribe methadone or any other opiate to a patient in the treatment of chronic pain. Under these circumstances, this prescription may be filled by any licensed pharmacy.
Research provided by the Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN) informs us that data indicates that methadone abuse ranks among the top ten in drug-related deaths in the following US cities: Chicago, Newark, Phoenix, Detroit, Baltimore. In emergency department episodes where methadone is mixed with other drugs, the top combinations reported are methadone + alcohol, methadone + cocaine and methadone + heroin.
Some addicts manage to sell the methadone which they receive legally through a maintenance program and use the money to purchase heroin. Consequently, various forms of diversion have resulted in methadone joining the ranks of other addictive drugs which are sold on the street.
In the past, methadone was thought to be an effective way to eliminate dependency on opiate drugs. Instead of decreasing dosages, though, many methadone clinics raise them with financial motives. Their patients suffer physically and emotionally from long-term use of methadone, and find themselves tethered to their clinics, unable to travel or live their lives fully. There’s little point to replacing one dependency with another, and many people who use methadone are unhappy that they rely on one drug to keep them from being dependent on another. In fact, methadone has been shown to be more addictive than many drugs it is used to treat.
In terms of chemical structure, methadone is the simplest compound that is an opioid. It has a very long half-life in the body, but still binds to the same sites in the brain as do other opioids. That means that it has had a history as both an effective drug treatment and as a painkiller.
Morphine has been most frequently used to wean people off dependencies to more potent narcotics. This treatment works for both illegal and prescription opioids, and has been the cornerstone of opiate detox for many years. Although the patient then becomes dependent on the methadone, it is considered an improvement in quality of life due to the fact that methadone does not create any “high.” Methadone has recently become popular among physicians as a painkiller. When chronic pain patients don’t respond to weaker painkillers, methadone can be prescribed. It makes a good alternative to opioids like morphine that have shorter half-lives and more dramatic “highs,” but methadone’s use as a painkiller is tempered by the fact that it does create a dependency when regularly dosed.
Millions of Americans are paying for drugs they don’t need every day. Many physicians aren’t familiar with how to properly treat ailments like chronic pain. Not knowing how to cure these often imprecise complaints, doctors will anaesthetized or narcoticize their patients, giving prescription opiates. The problem with this approach to medicine is that it leaves patients dependent on their prescriptions.
Many patients in this situation will try to detoxify to end their dependencies, but unfortunately, too many detox clinics don’t offer proper care. They use methadone to wean the patient off of their prescription drugs, but then leave the patient dependent on methadone. While methadone has a lesser impact on the patient than the original drug did, it is still a dependency–and the patient is still paying for the daily dose.
Any individual who has become addicted to opiates in any form or to alcohol should not consider going through the withdrawal process without consulting a physician who is licensed and experienced in the treatment of addiction to opiates or to the treatment of alcoholism.
Substance abusers who have been using opiates for long periods of time and have then stopped using their original drug of choice and switched over to methadone maintenance may decide at some point that they no longer wish to continue methadone use. Initial use of methadone requires the client to attend the clinic every day for at least thirty days. He or she must drink their dose in front of the dispensing nurse and, in a number of clinics, speak to the nurse afterward to prove that the dose has been swallowed. The reason for this is that some clients have been known to leave the clinic, spit the dose into a cup and sell it for a profit. If their first urine test at the end of the first month is clean, they may then be “promoted” to a higher level of trust, have earned the ability for a take-home dose and are not required to attend the clinic on a daily basis. Depending upon the rules and regulations of the state in which the methadone clinic is located, clean urines are rewarded in decreased attendance at the clinic and more bottles of methadone to drink at home.
Taking methadone on a daily basis is merely switching from an illegal drug to one which is legal as methadone is as addictive.as any narcotic on the market. Some of the methadone withdrawal symptoms are as follows:
- aches and pains
- stomach cramps
After a user has been stabilized, the dose can be gradually decreased. The physician in charge of the clinic observes the reactions of the individual and keeps the rate of decrease at a level that is comfortable for the client.
Many individuals become free of addiction to heroin or other opiates and enter a methadone maintenance program. They then exchange their addiction to heroin to an addiction to methadone. It is very easy to fall into a pattern of attending a methadone clinic on a proscribed routine and obtaining a dose on a set schedule based upon federal regulations. Based upon the rules set by the federal government, the following clinical attendance schedule is required by methadone patients:
- First 90 days (1st thru 3rd month): one take-home dose per week
- Second 90 days (4th thru 6th month): two take-home doses per week
- Third 90 days (7th thru 9th month): three take-home doses per week
- Fourth 90 days (10th thru 12th month): 6 days’ supply of take-home doses per week
- After one year of continuous methadone maintenance: two weeks’ supply of take-home doses
- After two years of continuous treatment: one month’s supply of take-home doses.
- Monthly visits to the clinic are still required.
Individual states may impose additional requirements if they so desire.
Take-home doses refer to medication that patient takes unsupervised. Any patient is allowed to receive one single take-home dose for a day when the clinic is closed which includes Sundays and state and federal holidays. The criteria used by the medical director are the following based upon federal regulations:
- Regular clinical attendance.
- Absence of recent drug and alcohol abuse (based upon “clean: urines).
- Absence of recent criminal activity.
- Patient’s ability to safely store take-home medication.
- Absence of behavioral problems at the clinic.
- Stable home environment and social relationships.
- Appropriate length of time in treatment program.
- Assurance that benefits of decreased attendance outweigh possible risks of diversion.
For those individuals who desire to become totally free of chemical dependency and are tired of the need to ingest a dose of methadone each and every day – and wish to end their enforced relationship with the methadone maintenance clinic – there is a solution to your problem! The Lakehouse Recovery Center offers a program designed to help you safely and effectively end your dependence upon methadone without transferring to an addiction or craving for another form of narcotic and without interfering with your career or education.
Morphine, a narcotic, acts directly on the central nervous system. Besides relieving pain, it impairs mental and physical performance, relieves fear and anxiety, and produces euphoria.
A medication or illegal drug that is either derived from the opium poppy, or that mimics the effect of an opiate (a synthetic opiate). Opiate drugs are narcotic sedatives that depress activity of the central nervous system, reduce pain, and induce sleep. Side effects may include over sedation, nausea, and constipation. Long term use of opiates can produce addiction, and overuse can cause overdose and potentially death.
Oxycodone is the most potent painkiller that can be taken in pill form, and is a favorite choice among doctors for post-operative pain, despite its potential for addiction. It is the active ingredient in drugs that carry the brand names OxyContin, OxyNorm, OxyIR, Percocet, Endocet, Roxicet, Percodan, Endodan, and Roxiprin. When taken in moderate doses over a short time period (no longer than several weeks), there are few side effects.
However, when taken for longer periods, the body will build up a tolerance to the drug, and larger and larger doses are required for its analgesic properties to be useful. When used for longer than the recommended period, oxycodone addiction can result–though this fact is disputed by drug companies, and several lawsuits are still pending. Some doctors even prescribe oxycodone for chronic pain symptoms, despite the potential for tolerance and addiction.
Oxycodone (oxycontin) is an opiate that is manufactured in controlled release tablets which are twice as potent as morphine. When used legally, this medication is intended to alleviate moderate to severe pain and is an active ingredient in percocet and percodan. Originally approved for use by the FDA in 1995, this pain killer has become a popular recreational drug along with heroin, vicodin, lortab and other similar opiates.
The original labeling of this medication carried a warning that users should not crush these tablets because the result would be a release of lethal amounts of this drug. However, in addition to warning patients using the drug for legal purposes of this danger, it also informed recreational users of an added method of abuse. Oxycodone binds to pain receptors in the brain so that the sensation of pain is reduced. However, if used more frequently than prescribed or in larger doses, it also causes both mental and physical addiction by triggering intense feelings of pleasure in the brain – followed by a feeling of contentment that lasts for several hours.
As you take a drug regularly, your body tries to maintain a normal level of functioning. In effect, your brain conditions itself to believe that the presence of the drug is “normal,” and you will feel best when it is in your system. You see this in the building of tolerance–since a certain amount of the drug is part of normal brain function, it takes a stronger dose to have any analgesic effect. This process is what causes oxycodone withdrawal. Your brain is used to having a drug around, and has adjusted so that the presence of the drug does not disrupt its function. When the drug is removed, though, you start to crave the drug–since your brain has effectively re-calibrated itself to thinking that the drug is normal.
Oxycodone withdrawal symptoms can include headaches, trembling, cramps, and nausea, and can last for up to a few days. This period of withdrawal is what makes it so hard to detoxify, because you have to convince your body that it no longer needs a drug to function.
In America today, there is an epidemic of prescription drug abuse, and OxyContin abuse in particular. OxyContin, referred to on the street as “Oxy”, “O.C” and “killer”, provides long-lasting benefits of pain relief for approximately twelve hours to patients who suffer from chronic pain. This powerful opiate provides relief when prescribed for cancer patients and individuals who have chronic, long-lasting back pain.
The active ingredient in this medication is oxycodone which is also found in drugs like Tylox and Percodan. However, OxyContin contains between 10 and 160 milligrams of oxycodone while the other pain killers contain only 5 milligrams. Additionally, because they are not nearly as strong as OxyContin and do not contain the time-release component, these drugs must be administered more frequently than the twice a day dose needed of OxyContin. OxyContin, if taken according to prescription, is a safe medication. However, those individuals who abuse their prescription or take the drugs illegally may easily become addicted or dependent upon this strong narcotic. OxyContin is designed so that the oxycodone is slowly released over time, allowing it to be used twice daily. You should never break, chew, or crush the OxyContin tablet since this causes a large amount of oxycodone to be released from the tablet all at once, potentially resulting in a dangerous or fatal drug overdose.
There is a great deal of controversy surrounding this drug. It is considered to be miraculous by patients in need of pain relief who are being helped to lead a normal life but it is also considered “pharmaceutical heroin” by others who see the number of deaths and robberies in areas where this drug is being abused.
Much of this epidemic is not caused by irresponsible use of drugs by patients, but by irresponsible prescribing by physicians. For people looking to end a dependency on prescription drugs, Meditox offers a safe and reliable treatment option.
The hardest part of detoxifying from a drug dependency is the withdrawal symptoms, which can be very painful. The Lakehouse Recovery Center, for example, uses the drug Buprenorphine (more commonly known by the pharmaceutical brand names of Subutex and Suboxone) to help fight withdrawal and to curb drug cravings, so our patients don’t need to turn to their prescriptions for relief. Buprenorphine works because it is a chemical derivative of the opiates, and shares many properties with them.
In the medical community today, there are two big problems. The first is that doctors are often too liberal in the administration of prescription drugs such as opiate painkillers. The second is that doctors are often hesitant to talk to their patients about potential prescription drug dependencies.
For a multitude of reasons, it has become increasingly common for doctors to hand out open-ended prescriptions for potent narcotics such as OxyContin. Biggest among these is the fact that many doctors don’t have the knowledge or the time to properly treat diseases such as chronic pain. To help their patients, they give out painkillers in the hopes of anaesthetizing the problem.
On top of this, a National Institute of Health study showed that physicians find that prescription drug dependency is the hardest topic to bring up with their patients. Over 40 percent of doctors report having difficulty discussing this with their patients–but less than 20 percent have trouble talking about depression. If your doctor is reluctant to discuss prescription drug dependency and OxyContin withdrawal with you, then it’s time you take matters into your own hands.
Percocet is classified as a Schedule II drug which means it has a high potential for addiction and can only be obtained by prescription from a licensed physician. One of the ingredients in this drug is oxycodone which, like morphine, is a very strong narcotic pain reliever Oxycodone in this drug is designed to be slowly released over time. Consequently, percocet tablets should never be chewed, crushed or broken which would release a large amount of oxycodone into the system at once and possibly cause a serious or fatal drug overdose.
Percocet is a perfectly safe form of medication when used according to the doctor’s prescription. However, for those patients who find themselves taking the drug more often than prescribed for a long period of time, addiction may occur. To be sure that you are taking a correct dose and to avoid percocet abuse, it is best to measure the liquid form with a spoon or cup that is made especially for medication dose measurement. Possible signs of percocet abuse:
- Needing more pills to obtain the same effect as when you received your initial prescription.
- Taking larger doses on a more frequent basis than originally prescribed.
- Seeing different doctors to obtain percocet prescriptions because your original doctor will no longer write any more prescriptions for you.
- Buying percocet on the street.
Percocet is a combination of the narcotic oxycodone and acetaminophen which is commonly known as Tylenol. This product is used to control moderate to severe pain.
Doctors routinely prescribe this drug to patients to aid in the healing process after surgery as well as to dull the pain of serious injuries resulting from automobile accidents or the like. Consequently, the use and addiction of Percocet is not limited to a specific age or socio-economic group as this narcotic is not routinely used as a recreational drug. Grandma or grandpa might well have a Percocet prescription to alleviate their arthritis pain, mom or dad may be taking this drug because of a herniated disc and junior may have been seriously injured in a car or motorcycle accident. The individual usually does not realize he or she is addicted to this powerful narcotic until they find it is controlling their life.
Individuals who have been taking Percocet on a continuous basis for more than five to seven days should not suddenly stop taking this drug as withdrawal symptoms could occur. This should only be done while being monitored by your doctor who will probably want to gradually reduce your dosage of this powerful narcotic analgesic.
Abruptly stopping the use of Percocet may result in severe withdrawal symptoms which will occur from six to eight hours after taking the last dose. Some of these symptoms include:
- runny nose
- tearing eyes
- aches and pains
- upset stomach
- difficulty sleeping
Buprenorphine is the drug that will help any patient fight his or her cravings, and will keep them from going through the more painful withdrawal symptoms of a Percocet or Percodan addiction. team). To find out more about how to end any opiate addiction, call a detox program like the one offered by the Lakehouse Recovery Center in Southern California..
Percodan is a narcotic drug. When a narcotic is injected, the user feels a surge of pleasure, then a state of gratification into which hunger, pain, and sexual urges do not intrude.
Prescription Drug Addictions
When a doctor gives a patient a course of treatment, he should have a plan by which the treatment will end and the patient will be better. For chronic conditions, this is trickier–there is never an end to treatment, but it must be carefully planned in order to have a minimal impact to the patient’s quality of life. Unfortunately, many doctors today are disregarding these principles and prescribing strong painkillers to patients who could be better treated in other manners. These people have become dependent upon their prescriptions, and have decided to seek other treatment. There are doctors out there who will treat chronic pain with methods other than strong narcotics. Such patients should connect you to a physician or program who will treat these ailments without just resorting to a bottle of painkillers. Free of drugs and being treated by a caring and knowledgeable physician results in a vast improvement in the long-term quality of life of these patients.
Subutex and Suboxone
Subutex and Suboxone are medications approved for the treatment of opiate dependence. Both medicines contain the active ingredient, buprenorphine hydrochloride, which works to reduce the symptoms of opiate dependence.
Subutex contains only buprenorphine hydrochloride. This formulation was developed as the initial product. The second medication, Suboxone contains an additional ingredient called naloxone to guard against misuse.
Subutex is often prescribed during the first few days of treatment, while Suboxone is used during the maintenance phase of treatment.
Valium is a medication for the treatment of anxiety and alcohol withdrawal. First entering the U.S. market in 1963, Valium became controversial as a widely prescribed tranquilizer and widespread abuse.
Vicodin is a combination of two pain relievers. One is acetaminophen which is commonly known as Tylenol and the other is hydrocodone, which is a synthetic form of codeine. This narcotic is one of the most widely prescribed pain relief medications and has unfortunately become a drug that is frequently abused.
Vicodin is commonly prescribed by doctors to alleviate pain after surgery, as a result of automobile injuries, arthritis and sports injuries and may be prescribed by dentists after oral surgery. If used as directed for real and legitimate pain, the patient should not experience any form of addiction. However, for those individuals who increase their dosage of the drug and take it sooner than prescribed, if other factors are also involved, this may indicate signs of Vicodin abuse:
- Do you need more pills to get the same effect as you did when you obtained your first prescription?
- Has the doctor who wrote your original prescription refused to write a new one for you?
- Do you feel guilty about your use of the drug?
- Are you taking Vicodin more frequently or in larger doses than initially prescribed?
- Do you resort to buying Vicodin on the street?
- Do you go to different doctors to obtain prescriptions for sufficient drugs to supply your needs?
- When your supply runs out, do you feel sick and experience muscle pain, insomnia, night sweats, etc?
- Has your family noticed your abuse of this drug and commented on it to you?
For many years, those suffering from insipid Vicodin Addictions have had very few alternatives for meaningful treatment, and virtually no options for meaningful treatment that would not require hospitalization or some other departure from one’s regular life. Further, these days more than ever before, Vicodin is prescribed by doctors, dentists and many other health practitioners as the “painkiller of choice” for many typical procedures. Unfortunately, the prolific use of Vicodin has led to addictions for ordinary people, from hard-working stay-at-home moms to the CEO of multi-national corporations.
Vicodin Detox & Treatment
When it comes to pharmacological treatment of opiate dependency, there are three drugs that are approved by the government. Naltrexone and methadone were joined by buprenorphine in October 2002 after more than a decade of research. Now that buprenorphine is on the market, naltrexone and methadone are quickly being outdated in terms of Vicodin detox.
At the Lakehouse Recovery Center, buprenorphine is the agent of choice for effective Vicodin detox. Unlike its counterparts, buprenorphine is non-habit forming and has a low potential for abuse. Thanks to its “plateau effect,” higher doses of buprenorphine have no greater effects than lower ones, so there is no incentive to misuse the drug. Plus, buprenorphine does not create dependency and can be removed from the system without any withdrawal symptoms. That means that you don’t treat one dependency by replacing it with another–you can be completely drug free in weeks or less. The Lakehouse Recovery Center does not advocate longterm maintenance on Buprenorphine (Subutex or Suboxone). Rather than replace one drug for another, a program advocating the creation of strong support systems to maintain long term abstinence from all opiate use is advised.
When you are dependent on a prescription painkiller, it’s often your pocketbook that gets hit the worst. Millions of Americans are addicted to their prescription drugs, but these people are following doctor’s orders and live otherwise healthy and active lifestyles. It’s the cost of continual medication that starts to pile up, and with no end in sight. The recent epidemic of Heroin use in Southern California, for example, is being traced to this predicament painkiller addicts find themselves in. When those addicted to painkillers turn to the “street” to purchase these drugs the cost per pill skyrockets. Those individuals who are finding themselves dependent on Vicodin or Oxycontin, for example, are forced to purchase pills on the street for thirty or forty dollars per pill. That bill can end op costing an addict hundreds of dollars per day. As a result, more painkiller addicts have been turning to Heroin which is less expensive. The result in communities in California like Simi Valley, Thousand Oaks, Newbury Park, Westlake Village and greater Ventura County has been a spike in Heroin abuse and a rising toll of death from overdose.
There are good reasons for Vicodin addicts to attend a treatment program as there are dangers associated with prolonged use of this drug:
- After several weeks of continued use, physical and emotional dependence may occur.
- One of the drugs contained in Vicodin is acetaminophen, also known as Tylenol. Prolonged use can lead to increased doses which can lead to liver damage.
- In severe cases, respiratory complications can result in death.
- There is also the possibility of drug interactions with tricyclic antidepressants and with MAO inhibitors.
Why is Vicodin rehab necessary? Because the user’s brain is eventually changed in ways that are basic and long-lasting and consequently, he or she cannot just quit on their own. When used over a prolonged period of time in ever-increasing doses, Vicodin takes over the areas of the brain devoted to pleasure and motivational responses. Drug use is then assigned the highest priority in the levels of motivational importance and takes over all other drives.
As a result, the brain changes. Individuals are then addicted to use of the drug and will do whatever he or she feels is necessary to obtain it which includes, but is not limited to, shopping for several doctors who will provide the Vicodin prescription since one doctor will not prescribe enough of the drug to satisfy the addict. Consequently, the user must also feign illnesses to each new doctor in order to obtain legal prescriptions forthe drug. Some addicts will, when possible, resort to stealing prescription pads from physicians and steal from pharmacies to obtain Vicodin.
One female patient is reported to have kept a computerized spread sheet listing doctors and pharmacies she was using to keep track of her drug collecting. The consequences to this woman was failure of her liver and a liver transplant was required to save her life.
If you are addicted to Vicodin and are ready to become free of chemical dependency, it is time to consider treatment for painkiller abuse like those offered at the Lakehouse Recovery Center.