What are the Dangers of Using Needles for Drugs?

Although most addictions begin with less direct approaches to drug use, like snorting or smoking drugs, many people who experiment with injecting drugs through needles can develop or strengthen their addictions much sooner.

What is intravenous drug use?

Intravenous (IV) drug use is simply the action of injecting a liquefied substance into the bloodstream directly through a vein with the use of a syringe and needle. When people inject drugs into their system, the result is a rapid and heightened high. Injecting drugs can take as little as 5-10 seconds to feel the effects of the drug. Due to the instantaneous high achieved with intravenous drug use, dependency and addiction can develop rapidly, both physically and psychologically.

needles-intravenous-drug-use-shooting-up-getting-high-TX-rehab

Most drugs can be injected using needles, with the exception of marijuana. The most commonly injected drugs are heroin, methamphetamine, cocaine, opioid painkillers, barbiturates and benzodiazepines. Typically, a user of these substances does not begin by injecting them. As a user’s dependence and tolerance increases from ingestion or smoking the drug, they may turn to injecting the drug to produce more prominent effects and to feel the high much sooner. When someone begins using drugs intravenously, very few consider the dangerous potential for physical and psychological damage that can occur from IV drug use.

The dangerous consequences of using needles for drugs.

Using a needle to inject drugs can cause numerous health problems for the drug user. These problems range from cardiovascular diseases, infections, scarring and abscesses to other, more deadly consequences like HIV/AIDS and increased likelihood for a drug overdose death.

Intravenous drug use can cause permanent damage to the nervous system and can cause veins to completely collapse over time, rendering the vein permanently useless. Repeated trauma at the injection site will cause blood clots to develop in the vein, which will seal the sides of the vein together, causing a complete collapse.

Drug overdoses and death are common for intravenous drug users. When you are injecting drugs into your body, you are sending the substance directly into the bloodstream, which accelerates the drug from entering the blood-brain barrier. For instance, when you inject a drug it can take anywhere from 5 to thirty seconds to feel the effects. If you were snorting the exact same drug, it could take up to 5 minutes to feel an effect.  It is much easier for an IV drug user to overdose as they end up taking more drugs than their bodies can handle. Often times this happens so fast, the user doesn’t even realize they have taken too much, before it is too late.

If you ever suspect someone is overdosing on drugs, it is important to call 911 immediately, as a drug overdose is a medical emergency.

addiction-drug-rehabilitation-Texas-College-Station-rehab

Getting immediate help for someone who has overdosed on drugs could save their lives. In the case of heroin or opioid abuse, Narcan® or naloxone is an opioid overdose reversing agent. Many emergency medical technicians (EMTs), police and fire departments carry naloxone with them at all times. It is also available in 46 states as an over the counter medication. Naloxone is an opioid antagonist, which can immediately reverse the effects of a heroin or opioid overdose. Even if you have administered naloxone to someone who was experiencing an overdose, it is still highly recommended to call 911 as the effects of the drugs injected could outlast the effects of the naloxone.

Drug overdoses kill over 200 Americans every single day in the United States, according to the CDC. IV drug use greatly increases the risk for a potentially fatal drug overdose. In addition to a potentially deadly drug overdose, intravenous drug use also carries a long-term risk for a variety of infectious diseases.

Infectious disease risks are increased by sharing needles with other drug users.

Sharing needles with other people can greatly increase the likelihood of exposure to infectious diseases like HIV, AIDS, tuberculosis, hepatitis B and hepatitis C. Sadly, many who suffer from a substance use disorder do not take the necessary safety precautions when injecting drugs. HIV is such a high risk for IV drug users because the virus can remain in a used needle for up to 42 days, depending on temperature and other factors.

In an effort to decrease the spread of disease, many localities and charitable organizations have set up needle exchange programs across the United States. These programs aim at not only encouraging people to use sterilized needles to prevent the spread of diseases, but they also aim to reduce the negative stigma associated with drug abuse. Many people who have a substance abuse problem or have become addicted to drugs are afraid to report diseases and other health complications due to the negative stigma associated with their lifestyle. This arguably makes the scourge of drug abuse in America much worse as people become too afraid to ask for help.

888-249-2191

What is Suboxone?

Suboxone® is an evidence-based, prescription treatment for opioid addiction and heroin addiction. It is a prescription medication that combines buprenorphine and naloxone and has been shown in numerous studies to ease opiate withdrawal symptoms in patients who are beginning their recovery from addiction. These studies also highlight that the medication is beneficial in helping reduce the likelihood of relapse in some patients. Suboxone is known as a medication-assisted treatment (MAT), which is used in conjunction with cognitive behavioral therapy and other “whole-patient” approaches to treatment.

Suboxone can be an incredibly helpful part of drug rehab, as the United States faces an overwhelming drug overdose crisis.

In 2017 over 70,000 Americans died from a drug overdose according to the Centers for Disease Control. Most of these overdose deaths were fueled by an ongoing opioid epidemic that appears to only be getting worse as time goes on. Opioids were linked to 47,600 of these deaths (67.8% of all drug overdose deaths). With the United States battling this epidemic, the need for effective treatment is at an all time high.

The History of Suboxone and buprenorphine.

The US Food and Drug Administration approved Suboxone® to treat opioid dependence issues in patients in 2002. Because Suboxone is itself an opioid drug, it should only be taken with a prescription from a doctor, under close medical care and supervision at a treatment facility like we provide at More Than Rehab, a Houston, Texas area drug rehab facility.

MAT-Suboxone-naloxone-buprenorphine-Houston-Texas

How does Suboxone work?

Helping to suppress cravings and often painful withdrawal symptoms, Suboxone has the potential to make the process of detox and recovery from opioid addiction much more manageable. Suboxone and buprenorphine have some distinct advantages over other medication assisted treatments like naltrexone or methadone. Suboxone contains both buprenorphine (an opioid partial-antagonist) and naloxone (an opioid antagonist). The buprenorphine will allow the brain to think it is receiving opioids, while the naloxone component blocks the euphoric “high” associated with opioids. These components, in combination will last for about 24 hours. Success rates, as measured by retention in treatment and one-year sobriety have been reported as high as 40-60% in some studies.

suboxone-evidence-based-treatment-Central-Texas

At More Than Rehab, we have found this form of treatment to be successful, helping our patients in the Houston, Texas area avoid the painful process of detox and withdrawal from an opioid or heroin addiction.

Since Suboxone contains buprenorphine, a partial opioid antagonist, it will have less of an effect when it attaches to the opioid receptors in the brain. This does not produce the same high effects of full opioid antagonists like Oxycontin, hydrocodone, morphine or heroin. For patients taking Suboxone, they may experience a mildly pleasant sensation. However, for someone who had developed a dependence on opioids, most patients describe that they feel ‘normal’ after taking Suboxone. If the patient had been experiencing pain symptoms they may experience mild pain relief. When taken properly, Suboxone or buprenorphine will not get a euphoric high like they would when they took oxycodone or heroin.  

Since the effects of the buprenorphine lasts a full 24 hours, if a patient who was using this medication-assisted treatment took a problem opioid like heroin or Oxycontin they would not get their usual high. Buprenorphine sticks to opioid receptors so the other opioids could not get in. This is a major benefit of medication-assisted treatments and will ultimately help prevent relapsing while on the medication.

Since Suboxone is only a partial opioid antagonist, taking more of the drug than was prescribed will not allow the patient to get high, unlike other step-down treatments like methadone. This is called the “ceiling effect”. If Suboxone or buprenorphine was taken in the event of an opioid overdose it would help lower the effect of suppression of breathing from the full opioid.

Suboxone contains Naloxone, which helps to discourage misuse and abuse.

Naloxone is the life-saving drug that can be used to reverse the effects of an opioid overdose. By blocking opioid receptors in the brain, it can be used to prevent suppression of breathing, which in the event of an overdose, can be life-saving. The nasal spray version, Narcan® is available as an over-the-counter medication in 46 states.  Since the opioid receptors in the brain have a higher affinity for naloxone, they will take the place of any other opioid present in the central nervous system, which can block any further negative effects.

Suboxone is a combination of buprenorphine and naloxone. The presence of naloxone prevents the Suboxone from being crushed or injected and abused like any other opioid. Suboxone is administered sublingually as a film or strip that dissolves under the tongue. If it is used any other way, the naloxone will block the effects of the buprenorphine so the user cannot get high. It was designed this way to prevent misuse or further substance abuse. Only when used as directed will the Suboxone work as intended.

How long should Suboxone treatment last?

The length of use for medication assisted treatment varies greatly and depends on the individual situation. Treatment usually lasts between 1 and 6 months, though in some cases it can be recommended for use over 12 months or longer. As the patient stabilizes, the doctor will decide to taper-off dosage, slowly over time. During this maintenance phase of recovery, you should be monitored closely by a medical addiction treatment professional, as results will vary.

Suboxone and buprenorphine treatment will work best in conjunction with other recovery techniques, like individual and group therapy sessions. To begin a lifetime of sobriety, a comprehensive treatment program is recommended. If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction to opioids or heroin, please call us today. At More Than Rehab, we want to help make the world a better place, one client at a time. We listen to you, your needs and we will formulate an individualized treatment plan to help you achieve your goal of sobriety. We are available 24/7 and can get the process started, all you have to do is call.

888-249-2191

Most Common Drug Overdose Types in Texas:

Deaths from drug overdoses in the state of Texas have nearly tripled in the last 18 years. From 1999 to 2017, drug overdose deaths have nearly tripled from 1,087 to 2,979. This increase was across the board for all types of drugs, although methamphetamine and cocaine caused the most overdose deaths in the lone star state. Synthetic opioids like fentanyl are also rising as a cause of an increase of deaths for Texans.

The Center for Disease Control 2017 estimates show that nearly 72,000 Americans died from drug overdoses. While the state of Texas was certainly not accounted as the highest increase across the United States, the alarming trend is that it is increasing at a terrifying rate. States with the highest number of overdose deaths were West Virginia, Washington, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Maryland. These states numbers were heavily driven by prescription, illicit and synthetic opioids. While the nation endures the widely-popularized “opioid epidemic” Texas has yet to see a major increase in overdose deaths from opioids.

Houston-Texas-Drug-Overdose-Statistics

This does not count problems with opioids out of the equation for the state of Texas, however. With the increasing availability of fentanyl from the internet and from the porous southern border, Texas officials expect to see an upward trend in opioid overdoses in the years to come. Heroin from the southern border is typically more expensive than methamphetamine, so a lot of drug users typically don’t start with heroin. In Texas there are people who get started on prescription opioids, like Oxycontin or hydrocodone, but the state’s prescription monitoring program (PMP) efforts have made prescription painkiller abuse more difficult to maintain. This system notifies doctors when their patients visit other medical facilities to obtain prescription opioids, or when a Texas resident visits a pharmacy in another state to obtain opioid drugs. These monitoring efforts also have been accompanied by statewide efforts of the Texas Hospital Association to only prescribe short-acting opioids at the lowest dose possible.

Methamphetamine and Cocaine: The Leading Killers of Texas Residents.

Meth has been a major problem in the state of Texas for a very long time. In the late 1990’s and early 2000’s the use of methamphetamine was on a steep increase across the nation. Southwestern states, like Texas were among the first to experience the explosion of the drug’s popularity around this time as the trend continued across all 50 states. Over the course of a decade, the problem seemed to be declining after state and local officials cracked down on the manufacture and supply of pseudoephedrine (the principal ingredient in methamphetamine). Pseudoephedrine is the common cold and allergy decongestant that was available at every local corner drugstore.

When local officials cracked down on the manufacture of meth in clandestine labs (like those popularized in the hit show: Breaking Bad), the Mexican drug cartels stepped-up their supply efforts. Today, meth is coming across rural portions of the southern border, making Texas the first stop on the way to the rest of the continental United States. Therefore, the efforts by state lawmakers to reduce the manufacture of meth in Texas has done very little to disrupt the supply of the drug in the state. As there is a lot of money to be made on the black market for illicit drugs, the Mexican drug cartels will seemingly always step up production south of the border to meet the demand of American consumers. To illustrate this, the Drug Enforcement Agency released data on testing of confiscated samples of meth from 2013:

“Only 1 percent of the samples from across the United States examined in the DEA’s MPP were produced from the pseudoephedrine method. Ninety-five percent was produced from the phenyl-2-propanone (P2P) method, which is used in Mexico, where it is legal.” Substance Abuse Trends in Texas, 2014. Dr. Jane C. Maxwell, Ph.D.

Methamphetamines took the lives of 577 Texans in 2016, a steep increase since 1999 where only 15 people died from a meth overdose. Increasingly, the drug has become popular with children and young adults, which points to a further increase in meth overdoses if the problem continues to grow.

drug-addiction-recovery-program-outside-Houston-Texas

Cocaine overdoses killed the most Texans in 2016 according to CDC data. While there had been a 17% decrease in cocaine seizures on the US-Mexico border from 2010-2015, the drug has been increasing in popularity in recent years. Many people have moved away from smoking crack cocaine and returned to snorting the white powdered cocaine as there is a seemingly lower stigma for inhaling powdered cocaine. Popular culture seems to be more accepting of cocaine use as many songs on the radio, television shows and movies have glamorized its use in recent years.

Though seizures on the border have reduced most likely due to internal conflicts in the Mexican drug cartels, cocaine production is up in Colombia and the drug is somehow finding its way into American communities. In fact, in 2018, $18 million dollars worth of cocaine was found in boxes of bananas that were being donated to a Texas state prison. Many attribute cocaine’s increase in abuse to an increase in supply from Colombia. Recently, the nation of Colombia ended an aerial crop spraying program because the herbicide intended to kill cocoa plants was poisoning the local ecosystem. Authorities believe this has encouraged cartels to plant more of the cocoa plant, thus increasing supply.

Stopping the supply of drugs from the southern border should be considered a worthwhile effort and it will definitely continue. At some point however, the state of Texas, and the entire nation should constantly monitor our efforts to reduce substance abuse, aimed at reducing drug overdose deaths. Are our efforts really working? Should we switch our focus from a criminal justice approach to drug abuse or should we start viewing addiction as a public health crisis?

Regardless of how you view substance abuse and addiction, there are people in Texas who need help. Every day offers the potential for someone to turn their life around by choosing to quit drugs. We employ a social model of addiction recovery to help you succeed in sobriety, long after you leave the drug rehab program. If you are struggling with addiction, contact us at More Than Rehab today, we can help you overcome addiction and begin a new, healthy lifestyle.

888-249-2191

 

National Prescription Drug Take Back Day: October 27, 2018

Saturday, October 27, 2018, Texas Collection Sites for National RX Take Back Day:

The United States Drug Enforcement Agency’s National Prescription Drug Take Back Day is this Saturday, (10/27/18). It has been set aside for the safe, convenient disposal of unused, expired or unwanted prescription drugs. On the DEA’s website, you will find a list of Texas collection facilities available to the public on this Saturday, October 27, 2018.

The Centers for Disease Control released troublesome data concerning the drug overdose epidemic that is sweeping the nation. As such, the time to be concerned with how our prescription drugs are being misused and abused is now. The CDC reports that over 72,000 people died in the US from a drug overdose in 2017. This is added to the total of 630,000 people who have died from a drug overdose between 1999 and 2016 in the United States alone. This means that in a little less than 2 decades, when prescription opioids began marketing heavily in the US, we have seen 700,000 fellow Americans succumb to the perils of substance abuse.

This is a huge problem that only seems to be getting worse. In the health care market, doctors currently prescribe around 58.5 opioid prescriptions per 100 people. While opioid prescription rates are currently in decline, the problem of misuse of prescription drugs is persistent and the health risks for our society are very dangerous. It is estimated that currently, 6.2 million Americans are misusing controlled prescription drugs. The CDC’s study also concludes that most of these drugs are obtained from family or friends by raiding their home medicine cabinets.

The DEA’s National Take Back Day is aimed at lowering the exposure rate of these potentially deadly prescription medications. This initiative is hoping to help lower the already high drug overdose death rates. These drugs find their way into the wrong hands much too often and this is a dangerous combination for your community. The National Take Back Day is a way for you to anonymously and confidentially turn in your unwanted and unused prescription drugs. This presents a wonderful opportunity to clean out your home medicine cabinets. Take them to the closest collection location, and you'll know that your old medications are going to be disposed of safely and securely.

teen-addiction-rehab-drug-abuse-TX

Know the facts about prescription pharmaceutical drugs before you throw them in the trash:

The DEA held a prior Take Back Day in April of 2018. Over 5,000 collection sites were available nationwide and they safely removed and disposed 474.5 tons of unused prescription drugs. As the trend continues it looks like the agency will be holding these events bi-annually happening in the spring and fall of each year.

Are you unable to make it to this October’s Take Back Day? Did the day already pass? Click this link to find out where you can find year-round disposal options for your unwanted, expired or unused prescription drugs: https://apps.deadiversion.usdoj.gov/pubdispsearch/spring/main?execution=e1s1

What is Fentanyl?

What Is Fentanyl And Why Is It So Deadly?

As the opioid crisis wages on and a record number of people are dying each and every day from drug overdoses, fentanyl is making news headlines. It is popping up in all sorts of illicit street drugs from heroin, LSD, cocaine, Xanax and even synthetic marijuana aka: spice or K2. Fentanyl is extremely deadly; just a few grains of salt sized dose can be lethal for an adult human being. While fentanyl is extremely potent, it also has a short duration high, so most addicts have to continually re-dose multiple times a day just to support their habit. This is a dangerous combination and the abuse of fentanyl is driving increase of overdose deaths in the United States today.

It is estimated that nearly 72,000 people in the United States died from a drug overdose in 2017. That’s close to 200 people each and every day. – Centers for Disease Control (CDC)

drug-abuse-opioids-depression-mental-illness

The opioid crisis arguably began in the late 1990’s, with pharmaceutical companies advertising new opioids that were supposedly non-habit forming. American doctors began prescribing these drugs en masse, including OxyContin, Vicodin and Percocet. While big pharma companies were making record profits, they were also creating a new class of drug addicts. This affected all types of people: young, old, rich and the poor. No segment of society has been immune from the effects of the opioid epidemic.

As the government and the medical industry began limiting prescriptions and access to these drugs, a dangerous black-market began to emerge in every corner of America. People began turning to dangerous street drugs like heroin because the withdrawal symptoms from opiates are so painful, they literally cause the user to feel uncomfortably sick. For the drug dealers, heroin is difficult to produce and transport so many saw an economic advantage of pushing a new, more potent drug on our streets: fentanyl.

Since it is so potent (and street drugs are not regulated, nor rarely tested) a tiny error in the production process in a clandestine lab can cause more overdoses and more deaths. This is why you will see one city having multiple overdoses in a few hours or a few days as the result of a ‘bad batch’ showing up in that market. Making matters worse, many who are not even trying to do opioids end up getting fentanyl in other drugs like cocaine, LSD or spice.  Drugs that are not at all like opioids but the dealers put it in there to increase perceived potency and increase their profits. The black market is a major problem and people are dying as a result of drug dealers, gangsters and crime syndicates trying to make money on America’s streets.

Our addiction problem is not going away overnight. There have been many theories on ways to approach this massive public health issue. The most likely on to succeed is increased access and resources for effective addiction treatment and rehab programs. Many simply lack the access or funds to attend a private facility. Also, many government-run facilities have a long waiting list where many die waiting to receive treatment for their substance abuse disorder. As the drugs become more and more potent, the crisis will only get worse and more Americans will die day after day.

Houston-Texas-Bryan-TX-area-addiction-treatment

Emergency preparedness is an important thing most people could do to lessen the chances of an overdose death occurring. Having a Nalaxone kit available can easily save someone’s life. This drug counters the opioid receptors in the brain and can reverse a drug overdose long enough for emergency services to arrive at the scene. If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction there are many ways you can help.

Call us now to speak with and addiction specialist at More Than Rehab.

888-249-2191

CDC Report: Record Number of Drug Overdose Deaths in 2017

New CDC Report Shows Record Number of Overdoses in 2017

Drug overdose deaths in the United States topped 72,000 in 2017 according to a new Center for Disease Control report, an increase of nearly 10 percent from 2016. These numbers translate into 200 deaths per day in the US for drug overdoses, or one every 8 minutes. The primary force behind the increase has been synthetic opioids such as fentanyl and oxycodone. While there is no clear boundary separating types of people who fall into addiction, the opioid epidemic seems to affect poor, rural, working class communities the most. Drug overdoses are now a leading killer of American citizens, more than car accidents, gun violence and HIV/AIDS in 2017.

This data also shows that states that increased funding for treatment and rehab programs saw a decline in overdoses.

States with high overdose rates like Vermont and Massachusetts saw decreases as they have stepped up funding for drug addiction treatment programs. However as states reduce access to pharmaceutical grade prescription opioids, a dangerous black market is emerging to fill the void of demand for these drugs. Fentanyl is a cheap, easily produced synthetic opioid that has been flooding the streets of American cities. Fentanyl is 50 times stronger than heroin. It is being mixed with a variety of street drugs from cocaine, heroin, methamphetamines, and anti-anxiety drugs like Xanax. Illicit drug manufacturers are mixing fentanyl in their drugs to increase the potency and potential for addiction. This makes the dealers more money and many addicts simply do not know what they are getting when buying drugs on the streets these days. Nearly half of all drug overdose deaths in 2017 were from these types of synthetic opioids alone.

One strategy being employed that is helping to reduce deaths is community access to Naloxone.

Naloxone is an ‘opioid antagonist’ that helps block the opioid receptors in the brain and can help stop an imminent overdose. This is what singer Demi Lovato’s friends had on hand and administered to her when she was having an overdose. It most likely saved her life. More and more communities are allowing public access to Naloxone (known as Narcan) and they are seeing a reduction in overdose deaths as a result. One specific example is Dayton, Ohio. After seeing the highest rate of overdoses in the state, Dayton officials launched a multi-tiered plan to combat drug related deaths. One major component of this was a harm reduction practice that distributed Naloxone doses to the public. This offered training and increased public awareness of this life-saving technique. In 2017 this program helped administer 2,507 doses, which undoubtedly saved many lives.

Increased access to drug treatment and rehab facilities is one major factor that helps reduce drug overdose deaths.

Dayton, Ohio also increased access to treatment and recovery services by increasing the number of residential detox beds by 6, which raised the number of patients they could treat yearly from 415 to 730. They also bolstered access to outpatient services, and recovery houses which have all contributed to the declining numbers of overdose deaths. Care Source, Ohio’s largest Medicaid provider announced that they had cut the number of opioid prescriptions to its members by 40 percent in the last 18 months.

All of these are helping to combat the opioid epidemic, but no single strategy alone is enough to stop this national emergency. We need to address not only the effects that drug abuse has on our population, but the underlying causes as well. A strong coalition of government, industry and the community is necessary to curb accidental drug overdoses in our great nation.

Drug treatment and rehab programs are crucial in helping people quit before they overdose.

Since relapse is a normal part of the drug rehabilitation process, we need to add a greater emphasis of reducing the stigma associated with drug abuse. Many addicts are simply too embarrassed to even ask for help. Instead of treating addicts like criminals, we need to recognize they are our family members, friends, coworkers and neighbors who are battling their addictions and they should not be barred from receiving the help they desperately need.

If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, do not hesitate to call. We are open 24/7 and a licensed professional is available to take your call and get you the help you need.

888-249-2191

(1) https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/nvss/vsrr/drug-overdose-data.htm

(2) https://www.phdmc.org/agency-reports/807-2017-coat-annual-report/file

(3) https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/caresource-successfully-cuts-opioid-use-by-forty-percent-300688660.html