Relapse Prevention Through Naltrexone

relapseAddiction is extremely hard to recover from, but it is worth the effort if you are willing to take certain steps to improve your quality of life. It could be argued that there has been no other time in American history when addiction recovery has been more vital, in the wake of a prescription opioid and heroin epidemic. One of the reasons that the epidemic has continued as long as it has is the fact that recovering from opioid addiction is arduous and relapse rates are staggering.

There has been a lot of talk in the news recently about improving and expanding addiction treatment services nationwide, especially in rural America. Additionally, substance use disorder centers need to utilize evidence based treatments in order to mitigate the chances of relapse. A number of treatment centers have begun prescribing patients naltrexone – sold under the brand name Vivitrol ®.

Relapse Prevention

Early recovery can be a trying time, filled with strong cravings to use, coupled with new feelings and emotions that can drive such urges. New research suggests that utilizing naltrexone can dramatically reduce the chance of relapse, HealthDay reports. The study appears in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Naltrexone blocks the euphoric effects of opioid narcotics, which means if an addict were to use oxycodone or heroin they would not experience a high. The participants in the study were all opioid-addicted adults with history involving the criminal justice system. The participants were split into two groups, one receiving monthly naltrexone injections; the other group didn’t receive the drug but was referred to counseling and referrals to community treatment programs, according to the article.

After six months, only 43 percent of the Vivitrol group had experienced a relapse, compared with 64 percent in the other group. What’s more, no one in the naltrexone group had an overdose during the six months, compared to five overdoses in the group that did not receive the drug.

Promising Findings

“We believe our study is the first of its kind to look at the real-world effectiveness of extended-release naltrexone in community settings,” lead author at NYU Langone Medical Center in New York said in a news release. “It may be particularly effective with populations, such as recently released prisoners, who typically don’t have access to other evidence-based daily medications for opiate disorders, like methadone or buprenorphine.”

If you are in need of addiction treatment services, please contact N2 Treatment. We can help you determine the best course of action for a successful recovery, giving you the tools necessary to prevent relapse.

Protecting Drug Dependent Babies

NASNeonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS) occurs when a mother uses opioid narcotics during the course of her pregnancy. After birth, some babies will experience withdrawal symptoms which require medical attention. NAS is a byproduct of elevated opioid addiction rates, one that introduces newborns to substance dependency from the start of life. In the wake of the opioid epidemic in the United States, neonatal intensive care units have been overburdened on a number of different levels.

Naturally, NAS requires more than just treatment; mothers who struggle with opioid addiction need assistance as well, in order to ensure the safety of the children upon going home. Reuters looked into the matter; the investigation found that 110 babies whose mothers used opioid narcotics during their pregnancy – died from preventable causes at home. The investigation, while troubling, led to action among lawmakers on the national level. The legislation will provide assistance to opioid dependent mothers, and require both federal and state governments to monitor, better than they have in the past, the health and safety of babies born drug-dependent.

Protecting Our Drug Dependent Infants

Last week, a bill went to the Senate floor which prompted the U.S. Health and Human Services Department to pledge reforms, Reuters reports. This week, a similar bill was introduced in the House that would require states to report the number of babies determined to have been born drug-dependent. The states would also have to report the number of infants who have had safe care plans developed.

“We see the damage of substance abuse across all segments of our society, but perhaps the most tragic cases involve newborns who enter the world defenseless against the addictions they were born with,” said Representative Lou Barletta of Pennsylvania in a statement. “It is a sad reality in this country that a baby is born addicted to opioids every 19 minutes. We must do everything we can to safeguard the most vulnerable among us and ensure they will be well protected and cared for.”

A Failure to Report

In 2003, a law was passed that required hospitals throughout the country to alert state social services when a baby was born dependent on drugs, according to the article. The Reuters report found that only 9 states actually comply with the 2003 law, putting newborn babies at severe risk.

Going forward and in a perfect world, the expectant mother would be able to begin her addiction recovery well before the baby is born. While adult intervention is not appropriate in every situation, it may be the only way to prevent fallout from severe addiction. In some cases, intervention may even be a life-saving solution for loved ones that deny the presence of addiction or the need for rehabilitation. If you have questions about intervention and recovery, please contact us.

Meditation Dramatically Reduced Patient Pain

meditationChronic pain affects millions of Americans. Left untreated, one’s quality of life can be severely diminished. In the United States, doctors treating chronic pain almost always turn to prescription opioids for pain management. While there is little question as to whether drugs like oxycodone are effective, the price of pain relief often leads to dependence, addiction and overdose.

The United States has been in the grips of an opioid epidemic for over a decade, a crisis driven primarily by prescription opioids. Government crackdowns and the tightening of prescribing restrictions have resulted in a number of prescription painkiller addicts turning to heroin to fill the gap. Heroin is cheaper and stronger than the majority of prescription opioids, and arguably more deadly for the fact that users are not always aware of what they are using.

Pain Management Alternatives

It may be harder to acquire opioid medications, but that does not mean that they are not being prescribed at alarming rates – still contributing to the problem. It is crucial that pain management experts turn to alternative forms of treatment, methods that do not involve dangerous narcotics.

New research suggests that meditation may be an effective alternative to opioids for treating pain, Medical Daily reports. A research team from Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center found that meditation dramatically reduced patient pain, without the assistance of their body’s “pain-blocking process and opioid receptors.” The research was published in The Journal of Neuroscience.

Meditation On Pain

The study involved 78 volunteers who were injected with either a saline placebo solution or naloxone, according to the article. The participants were separated in four groups; each group had a different variation of treatment, such as:

  • The first group received naloxone and meditated.
  • The second practiced meditation without naloxone.
  • The third group meditated and had a saline placebo.
  • The fourth group received the placebo and didn’t meditate.

The volunteers in the meditation groups saw pain reductions by over 20 percent, the article reports. However, the participants who did not meditate saw an increase in pain.

“Our finding was surprising and could be important for the millions of chronic pain sufferers who are seeking a fast-acting, non-opiate-based therapy to alleviate their pain,” said Dr. Fadel Zeidan, assistant professor of neurobiology and anatomy at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, in a statement. “Our team has demonstrated across four separate studies that meditation, after a short training period, can reduce experimentally induced pain. And now this study shows that meditation doesn’t work through the body’s opioid system.”

About Holistic Treatment

We, too, understand the importance of using a holistic treatment approach which includes meditation. Prayer or relaxation exercises are proven to lower anxiety and reduce tension by increasing an individual’s spiritual awareness and sense of wellbeing. When volatile emotions are managed, there is less chance of relapse or binging. Over time, a meditation practice can be a long-term tool for achieving and maintaining sobriety and finding joy in life.

The Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA)

addictionAddiction treatment and prevention are crucial if we are ever to get a handle on the prescription opioid and heroin epidemic in the United States. As presidential candidates criss-cross the country, addiction is a major talking point – especially in some of the most rural areas. Everyone is interested in learning how the potential leaders will tackle the problem, a crisis that is stealing 78 lives every day, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

On top of an interagency effort to curb overprescribing, expand access to the life saving drug naloxone and create more substance use disorder treatment facilities Senators have been working to pass the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act.

A Fighting Chance

The Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA), if passed, the bill authorizes the Attorney General to award grants to address the national epidemics of prescription opioid abuse and heroin use. After concerns that there would not be enough funding for the bill to be effective, an amendment to the bill was put forward for an additional $600 million in funding. On Wednesday, the amendment failed to receive the 60 votes needed to approve the additional funds, The Washington Post reports. Despite the amendment being voted down, Senate Democrats said they will not block the legislation over funding.

“There certainly is no desire to take the bill down over that through the caucus at large,” said Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), an author of legislation. “If somebody’s so mad about that that they just can’t bring themselves to vote for it, that will be their personal decision.”

The Big Picture

The democratic Senators choice to not block the bill because of the vote on Wednesday is indicative of how much attention the crisis deserves. While the amendment had the support of Senators from both sides of the aisle, there are a number of republicans who feel that the bill had enough funding to adequately address the opioid epidemic, according to the article. One could argue that some lawmakers do not fully grasp the true scope of the problem.

“It just seems ill-advised, to say the least, to appropriate more money when in fact there’s already $571 million available to deal with this epidemic,” said Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas).

This is a story we will continue to follow.

Needle Exchanges Have Funding On The Way

needle exchangeIt is fair to say that people are going to continue to use both prescription opioids and heroin despite the recent interagency actions of the Federal government which are doing what they can to assist states that are struggling to address the crisis. Of late, there have been three areas that have been the focus topics, some of which are controversial.

In a number of states, opioid addicts and their loved ones can acquire the life saving drug naloxone without a prescription. The drug, if administered in a timely manner, can reverse the deadly symptoms of an opioid overdose. There have also been reports of opioid addicts having to wait lengthy periods for a bed at substance use disorder treatment facilities, which is why the White House is calling upon Congress for $1.1 billion to expand access to treatment throughout the country.

Arguably, needle exchange programs remain to be controversial, despite the fact that they not only reduce the transmission of disease, they also provide a forum for addiction counselors to reach addicts that they would otherwise not see. Historically, many lawmakers have been opposed to such programs, arguing that they promote continued drug use; however, every lawmaker is aware that the opioid crisis in America has reached epidemic proportions and they are coming to see that they may have to think outside the box.

A Federal Ban On Needle Exchanges

Every day, needle exchanges operate throughout the country, but they do so without any financial support from the federal government. Needle exchange programs do a lot of good and with the spike of opioid addiction there is a much higher demand for clean needles – a reality which is spreading the programs thin.

In an attempt to assist such programs, last month Congress passed a measure that would lift a ban on funding needle exchanges, WBUR reports. While the measure’s passing could easily be considered to be a paradigm shift, the funding cannot be used for purchasing syringes – which can account for a third of the facilities overhead.

The funding can only be used for:

  • Staff
  • Vehicles
  • Counseling
  • Outreach

Baby Steps

It could easily be argued that the measure is lacking, but anything helps and we can only hope that this measure will be amended after Congress sees what the good needle exchange programs do for communities that have been hit hard by the opioid epidemic. Without expanded access to clean needles, the problem is only exacerbated.

“It is really an important and historic moment for us at syringe exchanges,” said Mark Casanova, Executive Director of Homeless Healthcare Los Angeles, which runs a syringe exchange. “But it doesn’t go far enough.”

Treating Neuropathic Pain With Prescription Opioids

neuropathic-painWhile prescription opioids are highly addictive and have led to an epidemic in the United States, there is no question prescription opioids are great for treating pain. When people go to a hospital with a minor injury they might receive Tylenol 3 (codeine) or Vicodin (hydrocodone), if a patient is in need of surgery they are given something a lot stronger, such as morphine or fentanyl. People who are living with chronic pain are often prescribed monthly supplies of opioids and are at a heightened risk of developing a dependency to the drugs which can lead to addiction.

The treatment of chronic pain over the last 15 years played a large part in creating the opioid epidemic that we face today. This is a fact which suggests that physicians need to adopt different prescribing practices, and look to alternative forms of pain management treatment. Opioids have long been the go-to treatment for all forms of pain, but it turns out that treating certain types of pain with opioids may counter health improvements.

The Nerve of Prescribing Opioids

The American Chronic Pain Association states that neuropathic pain often involves nerve fiber damage which sends the wrong signals to other pain centers. Neuropathic pain can be difficult to live with, diminishing one’s quality of life. So it is not all that surprising those doctors will prescribe opioids for neuropathic pain. However, new research suggests that patients prescribed opioids for neuropathic pain experienced no improvements in physical functioning, compared to patients treated with alternative therapies, Medical Daily reports. The research was published in the journal Pain Medicine.

“Opioids can help people with severe pain be more comfortable, but if they are not also facilitating improved function, the impact of these medications on quality of life should be questioned,” said Geoff Bostick, lead author of the study.

Researchers analyzed data from 789 patients, some of the participants were using opioids to treat the neuropathic pain. The participants provided self-reported baseline measures of function before the study, and then again after six and twelve months of treatment, according to the article. The patients using opioids for neuropathic pain saw no improvements in physical functioning, compared to patients using other therapies.

Hindering Improvement

If using prescription opioids during the healing process does not improve physical function, it begs the question of whether or not they should always be used. Bostick points out that improving movement and function may be more important than pain relief. If we consider all the risks of using opioids, it is hard not to agree with him.

AMCC National Day of Awareness and Safe Disposal

American-Medicine-Chest-ChallengeFar too often, prescription drugs end up in the wrong and/or unintended hands. People prescribed opioids will take the drugs until the pain subsides and then leave the unfinished pill bottles in the medicine cabinet to collect dust. A practice which may be relatively harmless when you are a living alone. However, it is a different story when it comes to families.

Many teenagers and young adults come across prescription opioids for the first time in the family medicine cabinet. Those who decide to take the unused medications, such as oxycodone or hydrocodone, are at risk for addiction or worse – overdose. The CDC reports that 44 people lose their life to prescription opioid overdoses every day in America. Naturally, mitigating the harm that can accompany non-prescribed painkiller use is crucial in the fight against the opioid epidemic that has been crippling families for over a decade.

American Medicine Chest Challenge

One way to keep prescription opioids out of the wrong hands is to safely dispose of unused or unwanted medication. Throughout the year, there are times when people can dispose of the medications at predetermined sites, giving Americans an opportunity to have an active role in the fight against the nation’s worst epidemic in modern times.

This month, the American Medicine Chest Challenge (AMCC), a community-based public health initiative, will hold the sixth-annual National Day of Awareness and Safe Disposal, according to a news release. On November 14th, families are encouraged to safely dispose of their unwanted medications at more than 1500 collection sites across the country. Both families and individuals can find a list of disposal sites at AmericanMedicineChest.com or by downloading the free app AMCC Rx Drop.

The Challenge

Families are encouraged to take the American Medicine Chest Challenge, an opportunity to not only take stock of the potentially dangerous drugs in their home, but also learn more about prescription drug abuse in order to better inform children as to the dangers.

“The American Medicine Chest Challenge can help save the lives of our children,” said Angelo M. Valente, CEO of AMCC. “On November 14th we encourage all Americans to take the 5-Step American Medicine Chest Challenge and find a location to safely dispose of your unused, unwanted and expired medicine.”

The five-step challenge encourages families to:

  • Take inventory of their prescription and over-the-counter medicine
  • Secure their medicine.
  • Dispose of unused, unwanted, and expired medicine in their home or at an AMCC disposal site.
  • Take their medicine(s) exactly as prescribed.
  • Talk to their children about the dangers of prescription drug abuse.

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Please contact N2 Treatment if you are struggling with prescription drugs. We can assist you in finding the right treatment which will help you start your journey of recovery.

College Students Find It Easy To Obtain Prescription Drugs

prescription-drugsAround the country the use of prescription stimulants is quite common on college campuses, used with or without a prescription. Students will use drugs, such as Ritalin or Adderall, for more focus and energy while studying. While prescription stimulants can give a student an edge during finals, the drugs can be habit forming and lead to the use of other narcotics.

The selling or use of prescription drugs is illegal without a prescription from one’s doctor; nevertheless, use with of drugs without a prescription happens quite frequently. In fact, a new survey has found that college students in the U.S. have little trouble illegally acquiring prescription drugs on campus, HealthDay reports.

The 2015 College Prescription Drug Study

Researchers at Ohio State University found that 70 percent of the more than 3,900 survey respondents reported that obtaining medications without a prescription was somewhat “easy or very easy.” The data comes from students at six public and two private colleges and universities in five states across the country, and included undergraduate, graduate and professional students.

The data showed that about 18 percent of undergraduates misused prescription stimulants, according to the article. What’s more, 83 percent obtained the drugs from their friends. While prescription stimulant misuse was the most common, their survey showed a significant amount of prescription opioid misuse.

More Than Just Stimulants

The researchers found that 10 percent of undergraduates misused prescription opioids, and about one third of them reported that acquiring the drugs was “easy or very easy.” About 9 percent misused sedatives, and 44 percent said it was “easy or very easy” to obtain the drugs.

“Overall, 1 in 4 undergraduates reported that they used prescription pain medications, sedatives or stimulants for nonmedical reasons in their lifetimes,” said study author Anne McDaniel, associate director of research and data management at Ohio State University’s Center for the Study of Student Life, in a press release.

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Please contact N2 Treatment if you are struggling with prescription drugs. We can assist you in finding the right treatment which will help you start your journey of recovery.

Cutting Off Veterans from Opioids

veteransThe prescription opioid epidemic has had a lasting effect on every demographic in America. Years of overprescribing and limited options for those who become addicted to drugs like OxyContin ® (oxycodone) and Vicodin ® (hydrocodone), have created a problem that no one has been able to control. Efforts to reduce addiction rates and overdose deaths have done some good, but at the same time, new policies have failed to address the underlying addiction.

One demographic that has been hit especially hard by the new policies is veterans. Measures made to reduce opioid painkiller prescriptions among veterans, in favor of alternative pain management, have left many struggling with chronic pain, The Star Tribune reports.

A Double Edged Sword

Over an 11-year period, the number of prescriptions for opioids prescribed by VA doctors increased dramatically. In fact, prescriptions for oxycodone and morphine jumped 259 percent nationwide by 2013. After more than a decade of war, almost 60 percent of veterans listed chronic pain as their most common medical problem, according to the article.

Prescription opioids, while addictive, are by far the most effective way to manage chronic pain. The problem starts when addiction sets in and the drugs are still required. The federal government’s mandate to reduce opioid prescription did manage to reduce the rates of addiction, the article reports. Unfortunately, many veterans were left to deal with pain on their own, a number of which sought out illicit methods to manage their pain.

No Offers Of Assistance

Individuals who use any narcotic, especially opioids, require detoxification and effective alternatives to the drugs they were using. Simply cutting off the supply may look good for reports, but fails to address the addiction that comes with years of use. Addicts who are cut off from their supply will seek other avenues to find what they need, unless an effective alternative is offered.

“There wasn’t a lot of discussion with the veteran except for the provider saying, ‘We’re not going to be doing this anymore because it’s not good for you,’ ” said Joy Ilem, of Disabled American Veterans, one of the nation’s largest veteran service groups.

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If you are or loved one is addicted to prescription opioids, please contact N2 Treatment. We can assist you in finding the right treatment which will help you learn how to live a life free of opioid addiction.

Surrender Your Drugs and Go To Treatment

surrender-drugsThe “war on drugs” has been quite effective with regard to getting addicts off the streets, but it has done little to address the problem of addiction – a disease which plagues millions of Americans. People who are arrested and imprisoned, simply for the crime of being an addict, often find themselves in a hamster wheel.

The rates of jail recidivism among drug addicts who are released is extremely high. Research tells us that jail does little when it comes to teaching people how to live a life free from drugs – something treatment does quite well.

Treatment Over Jail

In many states there exist drug courts, which give those charged with drug crimes the option of probation and addiction treatment counseling as opposed to being locked up. Such programs have been found to save taxpayers money, and help rather than harm a number of people who are already suffering. However, there are many who feel that treatment is more successful when it is not mandatory or forced.

In many states across the country, prescription drug abuse and heroin addiction have become the largest social welfare issue. The death toll related to the use of opioids is staggering and some cities have begun thinking outside the box.

Surrender Your Drugs and Go To Treatment

In the little New England city of Gloucester, Massachusetts, the local police chief launched a novel program which provides substance use disorder treatment for people who turn in their illegal drugs to the police, WBUR reports. Gloucester Police Chief Leonard Campanello said that 17 people have accepted the offer thus far.

While the number of people who have accepted treatment may seem small, Campanello points out that 17 people is more than three times the number of people who have died of drug overdoses in a town of 29,000, Needham, MA, this year alone. What’s more, the 17 who surrendered were using opioid drugs, such as heroin, morphine and oxycodone – drugs which all carry the potential for overdose.

“We need to get people into treatment,” Campanello said. “If they fail, we need to get them into treatment again. Just keep trying. Arresting them or coercing them into treatment just doesn’t work.”

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If you are struggling with prescription opioids or heroin abuse, please do not hesitate to contact N2 Treatment. We can assist you in finding the right treatment which will help show you how to live a life free of opioid addiction.

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