The Efficacy of CBD in Treating Opioid Withdrawal Symptoms

CBD has gained a reputation as a magical elixir that can seemingly heal everything from stress and insomnia to cancer and chronic pain. People are captivated by the potential of CBD as a multipurpose remedy, and its purported benefits have fueled a surge in its popularity. However, most of these claims are not based on scientific evidence, and the only medical indication that CBD has been proven to treat humans is epilepsy.

That said, there has been a growing interest and scientific research on the potential efficacy of CBD in managing opioid withdrawal symptoms. In fact, a recent study suggests that CBD curbs cravings in people with opioid dependence. According to the study, the potential to reduce cue-induced craving and anxiety offers a strong basis for more research on the substance as a treatment option for opioid use disorder. 

This couldn't come at a better time, considering the pressing need to address the opioid crisis and provide effective interventions for those struggling with addiction. Opioid addiction has reached alarming levels, causing immense harm to individuals, families, and communities worldwide. In 2021, 80,816 people lost their lives due to opioids.

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However, the researchers in the study note that the study was very narrow and only used specific, standardized amounts of CBD. As such, the results don't suggest buying a jar or bottle of over-the-counter CBD will help with opioid cravings.

What is CBD?

CBD, or cannabidiol, is a naturally occurring compound in cannabis plants. It is one of the many cannabinoids present in the plant, alongside THC (tetrahydrocannabinol). Unlike THC, CBD is not psychoactive, meaning it does not induce a "high" sensation commonly associated with cannabis use. CBD is typically extracted from hemp plants to produce numerous products such as oils, tinctures, edibles, and topicals.

CBD has gained attention for its potential therapeutic use. It interacts with the body's endocannabinoid system, which regulates various physiological processes, such as pain sensation, mood, sleep, and immune function. CBD is believed to have anti-inflammatory, analgesic, anxiolytic (anti-anxiety), and neuroprotective properties.

While CBD has shown promise in treating certain medical conditions, such as epilepsy, its broader applications as an alternative treatment in areas like addiction recovery, pain management, sleep disorders, and anxiety are still being explored. More research is needed to fully understand its effects, optimal dosage, and potential interactions with other medications.

Addiction is a Brain Disease

Before we dive into why or how CBD might help in addiction recovery, it's important to look at how substance abuse alters normal behavior and brain function. Addiction is a complex brain disease characterized by compulsive drug-seeking behavior and the inability to control substance use despite negative consequences.

Addiction changes the way the brain processes information. It deregulates the brain's reward system (which is responsible for reinforcing pleasurable experiences), leading to a heightened sensitivity to drug-related cues and a diminished response to natural rewards. This happens with most substances, including nicotine, alcohol, cocaine, meth, and opioids.

When addiction develops, it becomes hard to stop. Attempts to quit might result in withdrawal symptoms that are uncomfortable and challenging to manage. Common opioid withdrawal symptoms include anxiety, nausea, rapid heartbeat, abdominal cramps, and intense cravings.

These symptoms can be debilitating and are often more intense for the first one to two weeks. Sometimes, they can linger for months and contribute to relapse or continued drug use.

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Potential Benefits and Effectiveness of CBD in Mitigating Withdrawal Symptoms

While the scientific evidence is still developing, preliminary studies suggest several ways CBD may play a role in alleviating withdrawal symptoms. One study found that CBD mitigated cravings among those with OUD who had already stopped opioid use. Researchers also found that the compound reduced:

Most of these symptoms occur during opioid withdrawal. In theory, this means that physicians could consider adding the compound to opioid withdrawal treatment plans to manage the symptoms. But more research is still needed to establish the direct effects of CBD on opioid withdrawal and the best formulations and dosages. Here's a closer look at how cannabinoids may help mitigate opioid withdrawal symptoms:

Craving Reduction

One of the key challenges during withdrawal is intense cravings for the substance of abuse. CBD can help mitigate this by reducing cue-induced cravings, especially among those who use heroin. Studies on rats noted a decrease in drug-seeking behavior when rats were taken off heroin and given CBD. A small human study also found similar effects lasting at least a week.

Anxiety and Stress Reduction

Withdrawal from opioids often triggers heightened anxiety and stress levels. CBD has been studied for its anxiolytic properties, with research indicating its potential to reduce anxiety symptoms. According to one review, CBD interacts with serotonin, type 1 receptor (CB1R), and other brain receptors that regulate anxiety-induced behaviors.

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Pain Relief

Opioid withdrawal is commonly associated with various physical symptoms, including muscle aches, joint pain, and general discomfort. CBD has shown analgesic properties and has been explored as a potential alternative to traditional pain medications. It may help alleviate withdrawal-related pain and discomfort. Clinical trials have also found CBD well-tolerated with no significant side effects, even when co-administered with a potent opioid agonist.

Sleep Improvement

Insomnia and disrupted sleep patterns are common during opioid withdrawal. CBD has been investigated for its potential to improve sleep quality and address sleep disorders. CBD may indirectly contribute to better sleep during withdrawal by promoting relaxation and reducing anxiety.

CBD has shown potential in withdrawal symptom management. It can help reduce anxiety, improve sleep, curb cravings, and in withdrawal relief. While more extensive research is needed to fully understand its effectiveness, the existing studies provide encouraging results. It is important to note that cannabinoid treatment should be part of a holistic care plan alongside counseling, behavioral therapies, and other evidence-based interventions.

It is also a good idea to take CBD while under medical supervision, especially when dealing with a serious issue like opioid use disorder or chronic pain. Healthcare professionals can coordinate your care and ensure CBD is used with other appropriate treatments for the best possible outcomes.

They will also offer expert guidance, monitor and adjust treatment and offer support and guidance. Most importantly, they will ensure that you have access to reputable CBD products that have undergone proper testing for purity and accurate labeling. Like other natural remedies, CBD is largely unregulated, and it can be hard to know which products have been formulated responsibly.

If you, or a loved one is experiencing a physical dependence on opioids, More Than Rehab is here to help. Contact us today. We are available 24/7, 365 days a year.

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The Price of Pills: The Hidden Costs of Drug Use

Pills have become integral to modern medicine, helping individuals manage pain, treat illnesses, and improve overall health. They are a vital component of health care – with over 131 million people (66%) of all adults in the US using prescription pills. However, the use of prescription drugs can also come at a high cost. This is the real price of pills.

Statistics show Americans spend more on prescription drugs, averaging about $1,300 per person yearly. And with almost half of the prescription medicines being paid out-of-pocket, the financial burden can be overwhelming.

But the true cost of prescription drug abuse extends beyond the price tag. The financial cost of prescription drugs can negatively impact physical and mental health, social relationships, career prospects, and personal safety.

This article will explore how drug use can impact an individual's life and why it's essential to be aware of the hidden costs. We'll also discuss the difference between drug misuse and drug abuse, the risk factors, and how to uncover the signs of prescription drug abuse.

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Prescription Pills and Addiction

Prescription pills are highly effective in treating various medical conditions. When taken as directed by a healthcare provider, they can provide significant relief. However, the misuse and abuse of prescription medications can lead to addiction and other negative consequences. Sadly, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration reveals that prescription drug use is the fastest-growing drug problem in the United States, especially among young people.

Prescription pill addiction happens when individuals take medications beyond the prescribed dose or for reasons other than their intended use. This behavior can lead to physical dependence, where the body relies on the substance to function normally. Those addicted to prescription pills may experience withdrawal symptoms when they try to stop taking the drug.

The difference between prescription pill misuse and abuse lies in the severity and frequency of the behavior.

Misuse refers to using the drug in a manner other than prescribed, such as:

Misuse can be dangerous and potentially lead to addiction. But it does not necessarily indicate a substance use disorder.

On the other hand, prescription pill abuse refers to using the drug in a manner that is harmful, dangerous, or compulsive. Abuse can lead to physical and psychological dependence and negative consequences like health problems, self-harm, legal issues, and strained relationships. Abuse of prescription pills is a serious concern and requires professional help to overcome.

Some risk factors that increase the likelihood of prescription drug abuse are:

With that in mind, let's look at some hidden costs of drug use.

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The Cost of Prescription Drug Abuse on Relationships

Prescription drug abuse can have a profound impact on all types of relationships. But the biggest casualty of addiction is intimacy between partners. Substance use disorders can create a rift between partners as the person using drugs shifts their attention to obtaining and using drugs than to maintaining the relationship. The trust that was once there can be lost, and the relationship can become strained or even completely shattered.

Beyond that, the financial impact of prescription drug abuse can cause a significant strain on relationships. The cost of addiction can quickly become overwhelming, leading to financial instability and debt.

The partner abusing pills may spend considerable money on obtaining drugs. This may translate to missed bill payments, unpaid debts, and bankruptcy. Such financial stress can further strain the relationship and lead to resentment and mistrust.

In extreme cases, partners abusing pills may turn to illegal activities, like theft or fraud, to support their addiction. This behavior can have legal consequences and can further damage the relationship, leading to feelings of betrayal and anger. There are also legal costs that may come to play.

The Cost of Prescription Drug Abuse on Career

Prescription drug abuse can also significantly impact an individual's career. Those who abuse prescription drugs may struggle to maintain a job or perform their duties at work. They may be absent or late for work due to drug use or perform poorly due to the effects of the drugs. This can lead to job loss, difficulty finding new employment, and financial instability.

Drug abuse can also lead to legal and disciplinary actions at work. For example, if an employee is found to be using prescription drugs without a valid prescription or is caught using drugs while on the job, they may face legal consequences or disciplinary actions from their employer. This can result in a tarnished reputation and limited career prospects in the future.

There's also the comorbidity issue, where mental and addiction problems co-occur. According to studies, those struggling with addiction are likely to struggle with mental problems, as one issue often leads to another. Comorbidity can further impact career – as depression and anxiety may affect one's ability to work.

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The Cost of Prescription Drug Abuse on Health

Prescription drug abuse can have severe health consequences, ranging from short-term side effects like dizziness, nausea, high blood pressure, and confusion to long-term impacts such as heart and liver damage, respiratory problems, and increased risk of overdose. Some prescription drugs, such as opioids and benzodiazepines, can lead to physical dependence and addiction, further worsening health outcomes and severe withdrawal symptoms.

Beyond the direct health impacts, prescription drug abuse can increase the risk of accidents and injuries, including falls, car accidents, and other types of trauma. They can also exacerbate existing health problems, like mental health conditions, and interfere with medical treatments for other illnesses.

Most notable is the cost of addiction treatment. Treatment options such as detoxification, inpatient rehabilitation, outpatient therapy, and medication-assisted treatment can be expensive and may not be covered by insurance. The cost of addiction treatment can further exacerbate financial instability and debt, leading to additional stress on relationships and careers.

Cost of Prescription Drug Abuse on Education

Prescription drug abuse can hurt academic performance and educational outcomes, particularly for young people. Substance use can interfere with learning and memory, making it difficult for students to retain information and perform well on exams. Drug use can also lead to absenteeism, tardiness, and difficulty concentrating in class, leading to lower grades and an increased risk of dropping out.

As with other mind-altering drugs, prescription pill abuse can impair judgment and inhibition, putting young adults at heightened risk for HIV and other STIs, misusing different types of drugs, and engaging in other risky behaviors. According to SAMHSA, most adolescents who misuse pain pills get them from friends and family, including their home's medicine cabinet.

Prescription drug abuse is a serious issue that requires prompt attention and intervention. If you or someone you know is struggling with prescription drug abuse, you must seek help from an addiction specialist. With the proper treatment and support, it is possible to overcome prescription drug abuse and lead a healthy, fulfilling life.

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Where to Buy Fentanyl Testing Strips in Texas

If you're concerned about the presence of fentanyl in drugs you or someone you know may be using, fentanyl testing strips (FTS) can be an essential tool to help ensure your safety. These testing strips detect the presence of fentanyl in a sample of drugs, allowing you to make informed decisions about your drug use and potentially avoid overdose.

This article will outline where to buy fentanyl testing strips in Texas and provide information on their availability. But first, let's look at the fentanyl crisis in Texas and what the state is doing to combat the spread of fentanyl and save lives

 

What are Fentanyl Testing Strips?

Fentanyl testing strips are small pieces of paper coated with a chemical reagent that reacts to the presence of fentanyl. They work by detecting the presence of fentanyl in different drugs (heroin, meth, cocaine, etc.) and drug forms (powder, injectables, and pills). These drug testing technologies serve as harm reduction strategies, providing essential information about fentanyl in the illicit drug supply so they can take steps to reduce the risk of overdose. 

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Image courtesy of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

 How to Use Fentanyl Test Strips:

  1. Prepare a small amount (at least 10mg) of the substance you want to test and place it in a clean, dry container.
  2. Add water to the container and mix the substance and water. For most drugs, you need ½ teaspoon of water. However, if you are testing methamphetamines, use one full teaspoon.
  3. Take the fentanyl test strip out of its packaging and hold it by the end without the wavy lines.
  4. Dip the wavy end of the test strip down into the mixture, ensuring the end is fully submerged in the liquid.
  5. Hold the strip in the liquid for about 15 seconds, allowing it to absorb the mixture fully.
  6. Remove it from the liquid and put it on a flat surface.
  7. Wait 2 to 5 minutes for the test results to appear.
  8. A single pink line indicates the presence of fentanyl or fentanyl analog in the drugs.
  9. Two pink lines indicate the absence of fentanyl or a fentanyl analog in the drugs. 

Fentanyl Crisis in Texas

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid 50 times stronger than heroin and 100 times stronger than morphine. When used for medical reasons, prescription opioids, including fentanyl, are safe and effective for pain relief. However, illicitly produced and distributed fentanyl is life-threatening and has contributed to the ongoing opioid crisis in Texas and the US. 

In recent years, fentanyl has been increasingly found in other illicit drugs such as counterfeit pills, heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamine. And considering the potency of fentanyl, even a small amount can be deadly. This has led to a sharp increase in overdose deaths related to fentanyl use, as many people may not realize they are consuming the drug.

The opioid crisis is a public health crisis in Texas. According to the CDC, there were over 5,000 drug overdose cases in Texas between October 2021 and October 2022. Fatalities involving fentanyl in Texas increased 399%, from 333 deaths in 2019 to 1,662 deaths in 2021. And as mentioned earlier, most people who ingested "their substance of choice" had no idea it was laced with the synthetic opioid.

Drug dealers and suppliers often cut illicit drugs with substances like fentanyl to increase potency and profit margins. This has created a dangerous and unpredictable drug market in Texas, where individuals unknowingly risk their lives every time they use drugs.

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What's Being Done to Combat the Fentanyl Crisis?

The recent push for the legalization of fentanyl testing strips in Texas is part of a larger effort to combat the ongoing opioid crisis in the state. Like many other states, Texas has seen a surge in fentanyl-related deaths in recent years, and lawmakers are looking for solutions to this crisis. 

In response to the opioid epidemic, the state launched the "Texas Fights Fentanyl" campaign in 2021 to raise awareness about the dangers of fentanyl and promote prevention efforts. Furthermore, on April 11th, 2023, the Texas House of Representatives overwhelmingly voted to legalize fentanyl testing strips, with the bill now heading to the Senate for approval.  

The bill, authored by Rep. Tom Oliverson, R-Harris County, would allow the sale and distribution of fentanyl testing strips to the public, which can help individuals test their drugs for the presence of fentanyl. 

If the bill is passed, it would mean that drug users could test their drugs for fentanyl before consuming them, potentially saving countless lives. Employers could also use fentanyl testing strips to test their employees for drug use, particularly in industries where safety is a concern. 

Are Fentanyl Testing Strips Banned in Texas?

Unfortunately, at the moment, these strips are classified as paraphernalia and are, therefore, illegal for people to perform tests for recreational use. This legal classification has limited the availability and accessibility of these life-saving testing strips, leaving many individuals at risk of accidental fentanyl poisoning.

Accessing Fentanyl Test Strips in TX

Currently, fentanyl test strips are banned in Texas, and carrying them is a crime. However, if you are a healthcare professional or a law enforcement agency looking to purchase fentanyl test strips for legitimate purposes, you may be able to obtain them from your local health department, needle exchange program, community-based organization, or online retailers that specialize in drug testing products. Some reputable companies that sell fentanyl test strips include bankpolice.com, amazon, and dancesafe.org. 

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More Drug Overdose Prevention Strategies

Fentanyl testing strips is just one tool in the toolbox of effective drug overdose prevention strategies. Other strategies include the following:

As the fentanyl crisis continues to devastate communities in Texas and across the United States, it's essential to take action to protect yourself and your loved ones. A critical tool in this fight is fentanyl testing strips, which can help identify the presence of this dangerous drug in other substances.

However, these strips are not foolproof and should be used with other harm reduction strategies, such as seeking professional addiction treatment.

If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, we highly recommend seeking the help of a reputable treatment center like More Than Rehab. Our experienced and compassionate team can provide the support and guidance needed to overcome addiction and start on the path to recovery. We offer various services, including detox, inpatient and outpatient, and mental health services. Remember, addiction is a disease, but it is treatable.

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How Prescription Drugs Helped Fuel the Drug Overdose Epidemic

The opioid epidemic is a serious public health crisis that has been ravaging communities in the United States for years. While many of us may associate illicit drugs such as heroin with causing drug overdoses, prescription drugs have also played a significant role in this devastating trend. The widespread availability and ease of obtaining these medications, combined with their powerful strength and addictive properties, have resulted in an alarming rise in overdose deaths due to prescription drug misuse.

Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's statistics indicate about 107,622 drug overdose deaths in the US during 2021. Synthetic opioids like fentanyl were responsible for a large portion of the deaths, accounting for 71,238 deaths. But prescription opioids (such as oxycodone and hydrocodone) were also major contributors to the crisis. According to the CDC, natural or semi-synthetic drugs accounted for 13,722 overdose deaths in 2020 and 13,503 in 2021.

These deaths were attributed mainly to over-prescribing opioid painkillers like OxyContin, which has led to numerous cases of physical dependence and addiction. In 2016, the CDC issued a national guideline on pain management to help improve appropriate opioid prescribing and minimize opioid-related risks. The guideline got a lot of support from Americans, especially in two key elements: advising physicians to issue less than a three-day supply of opioid painkillers for acute pain and trying other treatment options before considering opioids for chronic pain.

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Understanding Prescription Drugs Misuse

Prescription drugs are obtained with a doctor's prescription. They treat medical conditions, including pain, anxiety, and depression. However, they can also be abused due to their powerful effects.

Prescription drugs, like any other drug, can lead to substance use disorders as an unintended consequence. It is well-documented that these medications can be highly addictive and are major risk factors for people developing opioid use disorder.

The false sense of safety that comes with obtaining these medications from a doctor or pharmacy can lead some people to take them in ways they weren't prescribed. For example, they will:

Besides, since many people store these drugs in the medicine cabinet, they can be easily accessible to others, including young people. This increases the risk of them being taken and abused without the supervision of a healthcare professional. Taking someone else's medication can lead to dangerous side effects and death.

How Prescription Drug Abuse Contributes to the Overdose Crisis

Prescription painkiller abuse has become a major contributor to the overdose crisis in the United States. These drugs are often prescribed for legitimate medical conditions, such as pain management or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). However, when used improperly or for non-medical reasons, they can lead to substance use disorders, addiction, and even overdose deaths.

There are several ways in which prescription drugs like Oxycontin, Adderall, etc., contribute to the overdose crisis:

One of the ways is through the development of opioid dependence. People prescribed opioids for an injury or chronic pain may start to rely on them for relief, leading to a physical dependence on the drug. As their tolerance builds, they may need to take higher doses to achieve the same level of pain relief, increasing their risk of overdose.

Another way is through the use of street drugs. When people become dependent on prescription opioids and cannot obtain them, they may turn to street drugs like heroin to manage their withdrawal symptoms. Heroin is often cheaper and more readily available than prescription opioids, making it an attractive option for those struggling with addiction. However, street drugs are often more potent and can lead to a higher risk of overdose.

Polydrug use is also an issue, particularly when people combine opioids with alcohol or other sedatives. This practice often increases the risk of overdose and can be deadly.

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Who is to Blame for the Opioid Crisis?

It's important to note that the misuse of prescription drugs is not solely the patient's fault. Physicians have been criticized for overprescribing opioids, with some labeled as "pill mill doctors." They were seen as contributors to the crisis due to their over-reliance on opioid prescriptions to manage pain rather than exploring alternative treatments.

Pharmaceutical companies such as Purdue Pharmaceuticals have also been blamed for the crisis. Purdue, the real co-conspirator, was accused of downplaying the risks of addiction and exaggerating the benefits of OxyContin. It was also blamed for aggressively marketing the drug to physicians and misleading the public about the safety of its products.

The third guilty party is the American Pain Society, with its "pain as the 5th vital sign" campaign. This campaign promoted the idea that pain should be treated as a vital sign, like temperature, pulse, etc. However, it didn't come with any device to objectively measure pain as the previous vital signs, pulse temperature, respiratory rate, and blood pressure.

The 5th vital sign campaign was the first and only subjective vital sign. It led to a significant increase in opioid prescriptions, as doctors were pressured to treat patients' pain more aggressively.

Fourth on the list of blame is the Joint Commission. In 2001, it issued a mandate that required hospitals to use pain scales to evaluate patients' pain.

The commission also published a pain management guide that downplayed doctors' concerns about opioid addiction, tolerance, and risk of death. Additionally, it framed pain management as a patient's rights issue, increasing the pressure to prescribe opioids. Purdue Pharma sponsored this guide. 

Press Ganey is the fifth guilty party on the list. This company helped develop patient satisfaction surveys. The results of these surveys were then used to rank hospitals.

Then enters, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued a mandate to hospitals in 2002. The mandate threatened their Medicare reimbursement if patient satisfaction scores didn't meet specific standards. Patient satisfaction was based on surveys that included them scoring their satisfaction with pain control.

Inevitably, hospital administrators made it to the blame list. With CMS' mandate, hospital administrators felt pressure to increase patient satisfaction scores by any means necessary. So they started to pressure doctors to prescribe more opioids for pain management and patient satisfaction. This eventually led to overprescribing and misuse of opioids.

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Prescription Drugs Lawsuits

Numerous lawsuits have been filed against major pharmaceutical companies and high-profile figures concerning the opioid epidemic. One notable example is the lawsuit against Purdue Pharma, the maker of OxyContin. The company and members of the Sackler family, who owned Purdue, have been accused of aggressively marketing OxyContin while downplaying the risks of addiction, leading to the widespread abuse of the drug and the opioid epidemic.

In 2019, Purdue Pharma pleaded guilty to federal criminal charges and settled with the Department of Justice. The company and the Sackler family agreed to pay $8 billion in fines and penalties.

States and municipalities have also sued Johnson & Johnson, Teva, and Endo International over their role in the opioid epidemic. In 2021, Johnson & Johnson was ordered to pay $572 million in a landmark opioid trial in Oklahoma and is currently facing lawsuits in several other states.

Teva has settled with New York for $523 million and is working to finalize a nationwide settlement valued at more than $4.2 billion. And Endo which has now filed for bankruptcy has agreed to pay $450 million to support the treatment and prevention of opioid abuse. 

Opioid Abuse Treatment

More Than Rehab offers a range of treatment options to help those struggling with opioid addiction and substance abuse break the cycle and achieve long-term sobriety. The treatment center provides an array of evidence-based therapies, including individual and group counseling, medication-assisted treatment (MAT), relapse prevention training, and more.

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Is the Fentanyl Vaccine Real? How Do I Get One?

At a time when drug overdose is quickly becoming an epidemic in the United States, researchers at the University of Houston are hard at work on a solution that could save countless lives. They're developing a vaccine for fentanyl, an opioid linked to numerous fatal overdoses. This fentanyl vaccine could be a major game changer in the deadly drug overdose epidemic that has been sweeping the nation.

This groundbreaking research seeks to create antibodies that will bind to the drug and block its ability to produce feelings of euphoria and cause an overdose. If this vaccine is successful, it will offer a powerful solution for people suffering from addiction and those at risk of accidental overdose.

But is this vaccine real, and how does one get it? In this article, we'll explore the progress of the research at the University of Houston and answer those questions. We'll also discuss how this new approach to overdose prevention differs from treatments such as Naloxone or Buprenorphine and why a publicly available vaccine may not be available for many years.

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Understanding the Fentanyl Vaccine

The University of Houston is leading the way in research on a fentanyl vaccine that could potentially save lives. The vaccine would work by creating antibodies that will bind to the dangerous synthetic drug and prevent it from entering the brain, drastically reducing its ability to produce feelings of euphoria.

The research published on Pharmaceutics found that the vaccine was effective in lab rats and didn't cause adverse side effects. In the study, both male and female rats that got immunized produced high levels of anti-fentanyl antibodies that neutralized fentanyl-induced effects. The vaccine also reduced the levels of fentanyl in the brain after drug administration and prevented the drop in measures like heart rate and oxygen saturation. 

According to one researcher, these findings could have a significant impact on the opioid crisis that has been crippling the country for years. The vaccine could provide an effective, sustainable and long-lasting solution to the opioid epidemic.

It prevents the most desired effects of the drug (getting high) and allows the drug to be eliminated from the body through the kidneys. And seeing there were no adverse side effects in the immunized rats in the studies, the research team plans on producing a clinical-grade vaccine in the future, with clinical trials on humans ensuing after. 

A Timely Help for the Fentanyl Crisis in the US

The potential for a fentanyl vaccine to save lives is immense. As the opioid crisis continues to widen, more and more people are becoming addicted to this powerful synthetic drug. A vaccine would offer an effective solution for people suffering from substance use disorders, those at risk of accidental overdose, and those in recovery.

In 2021, the Centers for Diseases Control reported 107,622 overdose deaths in the United States, with opioids accounting for over 75% of these fatalities. According to the CDC, opioid overdose cases increased from 70,029 in 2020 to 80,816 in 2021.

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Synthetic opioids, such as fentanyl, were responsible for most of these fatalities. Fentanyl is a potent painkiller similar to morphine but 50 to 100 times more powerful. It has been linked to numerous overdose deaths and is increasingly becoming one of the most dangerous drugs in the country.

How is the Fentanyl Vaccine Different from Naloxone or Buprenorphine?

The fentanyl vaccine is different from maintenance treatments like naloxone or buprenorphine because it works by creating antibodies in the body that will bind to the dangerous synthetic drug, blocking its ability to produce feelings of euphoria and cause an overdose. Naloxone and buprenorphine, on the other hand, work by blocking or partially blocking opioid receptors. As a result, they are often used to reduce cravings and withdrawals in patients in recovery.

How Buprenorphine Works

Buprenorphine is an opioid agonist that stimulates the same receptors as opioids, such as heroin or fentanyl. This medication binds to the same receptors as opioids, producing similar effects but with much lower potency. This means that buprenorphine can block or partially block the feelings of intense euphoria caused by opioids while also reducing cravings and withdrawal symptoms.

How Naloxone Works

Naloxone is an opioid receptor antagonist that binds to the same receptors as opioids but with much higher potency. This means that it can completely block the effects of opioids, making it an essential medication for reversing opioid overdose. When administered on time, naloxone can rapidly reverse the effects of opioids, restoring normal respiration.

Unlike naloxone and buprenorphine, the fentanyl vaccine does not work by blocking the opioid receptors in the body. Instead, it stimulates the body's immune response to produce antibodies that bind to fentanyl molecules and block their effects. This means that those who get the vaccine won't feel high while using fentanyl and might therefore stop using the drug altogether.

It's important to note that the vaccine is still in its early stages of development and will take years before it's available on the market. Addiction treatment is currently the best way to prevent an overdose. Besides, some experts have pointed out that while the scientific breakthrough discovery is incredible and innovative, it is not a silver bullet to address the drug addiction crisis. That is to say, the vaccine mainly focuses on fentanyl's impact on the brain, yet environmental and social pressures also contribute to addiction.

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Addiction Treatment

Addiction treatment is the best way to prevent an overdose, manage withdrawal symptoms and treat substance abuse. It typically involves a combination of medications, behavioral therapies, and support groups. In many cases, family members are also included in addiction treatment plans and may help provide support and accountability.

At More Than Rehab, we understand that addiction is a complex issue and requires comprehensive treatment. We offer a range of treatments, including individual and group counseling, cognitive-behavioral therapy, group therapy relapse prevention, medication-assisted treatment, and 12-step programs. We also provide comprehensive aftercare services to ensure a successful recovery.

If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction, please contact us today to learn more about our services. We are here to help.

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Fighting Fentanyl: The Crisis in Texas Border Communities

The opioid crisis has become an increasingly pressing issue in the United States. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 91 people die every day in the country from opioid overdose. Heroin, prescription painkillers, and fentanyl are among the most commonly used drugs in this deadly epidemic. Combining opioids with other drugs, like benzodiazepines, alcohol, cocaine, etc., can significantly increase the risk of overdose and death.

According to the CDC, the states that were hardest hit by the drug overdose epidemic in 2015 were West Virginia, Kentucky, Delaware, Ohio, Tennessee, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Louisiana. But the epidemic is now spreading to Texas as well. The latest provisional data from the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) shows that there were 883 opioid-related overdoses in Texas in 2020. In 2021 the number increased to 1,672. 

Synthetic opioids (largely illicitly made fentanyl) are the major contributors to these rising opioid-related overdoses. Fentanyl is an opioid that is 50 times more potent than heroin, and even a small amount can cause an overdose or death. It is commonly mixed with other illegal drugs like heroin, cocaine, meth, and counterfeit pills, which makes them even more powerful. As a result, it has become one of the most dangerous substances on the streets today.

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Fentanyl Flow to the United States

Mexico has replaced China as the dominant source of fentanyl and other synthetic drugs flowing into the US. According to a report from Commission on Combating Synthetic Opioid Trafficking, most pure fentanyl that was seized by the authorities between 2014 and 2019 came from China. But since then, the leading source of fentanyl has shifted from China to Mexico. The report also noted that Mexican drug cartels had established manufacturing capabilities in Mexico, allowing them to produce the drug in large quantities.

The cartels use the US-Mexico border to smuggle fentanyl through ports of entry and illegal border crossings. However, reports by CBP, ICE, and DHS intelligence indicate that fentanyl is primarily smuggled through legal ports of entry and not illegal entry routes. Surprisingly, 91% of drug seizures at checkpoints are from US citizens. Fentanyl producers mostly hire US citizens because it is easier for them to cross the border than noncitizens.

According to the DEA, the drug cartels use major highway routes to transport illicit drugs. They use passenger cars with hidden compartments or intermingled with legitimate goods on tractor-trailers. 

Reports show that more than 90% of fentanyl border seizures happen at legal border crossings and interior vehicle checkpoints. Drug trafficking organizations use official crossing points because it's easier to hide drugs on legal goods than it is to hide a person crossing the border illegally. 

Fentanyl is an incredibly potent drug. This makes it hard to interdict, considering that even a small physical amount can satisfy US demand. Even more troubling is the fact that Mexican drug cartels produce fentanyl in counterfeit tablets with pain management drugs like Xanax and Adderall. This means that some people may unknowingly take fentanyl without realizing it.

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The Impacts of Drug Trafficking on Texas Border Communities

The influx of illicit drugs has put immense pressure on the border communities in San Diego, Texas, Arizona, and New Mexico. These drugs are affecting public health by increasing overdose deaths and hospitalizations, spreading infectious diseases such as HIV/AIDS, increasing crime rates in these areas, and fueling substance abuse among youth.

Furthermore, drug trafficking organizations like the famous Sinaloa cartel use violence to maintain control of their smuggling routes and to counter law enforcement. This has increased homicides and other violent crimes in border towns.

The proliferation of illicit drugs has also led to increased corruption as drug traffickers offer bribes to law enforcement and public officials. This has eroded trust in law enforcement officers, undermining their ability to protect the public. Other impacts include strain on healthcare resources, economic losses due to drug-related crimes, and increased addiction.

Texas Department of Health and Human Services Efforts to Fight the Fentanyl Epidemic

The Texas Health and Human Services (HHSC) have recently launched a campaign to help fight the fentanyl crisis in Texas, particularly on its southern border. The campaign, Texas Targeted Opioid Response  (TTOR), uses many forms of traditional media and social media to reach as many people as possible. The campaign focuses on educating people about preventing drug overdose and promoting treatment options for those battling addiction.

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TTOR is a public health initiative operated by HHSC through federal funding from SAMHSA. It aims to reduce overdose deaths, improve access to treatment, and prevent the misuse of opioids. The program also:

Fentanyl is one of the most dangerous drugs on the streets today, and it is smuggled into the US through Mexico's border with Texas. This drug influx negatively affects public health, increases crime rates, and fuels substance abuse. The more the general public can learn about the dangers of fentanyl and how fentanyl is smuggled into the country, the more we can help law enforcement battle this problem. 

Those struggling with addiction should seek help from professional providers like More Than Rehab. More Than Rehab offers comprehensive treatment plans and access to medication-assisted therapy and counseling, which can help individuals overcome their addiction and recover. With the right help and support, those struggling with addiction can have a chance at leading a life of sobriety.

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Overdoses Are at an All-Time High: 100,000 Deaths Last Year

Drug overdose deaths have reached epidemic proportions in the United States. In fact, according to a recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), drug overdoses killed more than 100,000 people in just one year. This is the first time drug overdose deaths have surpassed car accidents as the leading cause of accidental death in America. Most of these overdose deaths were caused by opioids, including prescription painkillers and synthetic opioids like fentanyl.

The State of Drug Abuse in the US

The drug crisis in America is showing no signs of slowing down, and states all over the country are feeling the effects. While some states have been hit harder than others, there seems to be a general trend of rising overdose deaths in almost every state. West Virginia, for instance, had a 52.8% overdose death rate in 2019 and 81.4% in 2020. Ohio had 38.4% in 2019 and 47.2% in 2020.

The states that have been most affected by the drug crisis have been hit hardest by the opioid epidemic. In addition to West Virginia and Ohio, which had a significant rise in overdose deaths cases, other states like Kentucky, Tennessee, Maryland, Louisiana, and Pennsylvania also had high death rates in 2020.

And while these numbers are alarming enough on their own, they only tell part of the story. Because illicit drugs are becoming more potent and more available than ever before, the drug crisis is only getting worse. To combat this growing problem, we need to invest in education and drug treatment programs that can help people get off of drugs.

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What's Driving Drug Overdoses in the US?

There are many reasons why drug overdoses have become so common. One of the biggest factors is the availability of drugs. With the rise of the internet, it's easier than ever to get your hands on illegal drugs.

Another factor is the potency of these drugs. Drug dealers are constantly trying to one-up each other by selling more potent drugs. This means that even first-time users are at risk of overdosing.

Synthetic opioids like fentanyl are largely to blame for this increase in fatalities

Illegal drug users are at an increased risk of overdose because of the rise in synthetic opioids like fentanyl. Fentanyl is a powerful opioid that is much more potent than other opioids, such as heroin. This increased potency makes fentanyl more dangerous and likely to cause overdose fatalities.

It can also be easily laced into other illegal drugs without the user's knowledge. As a result, drug users may unwittingly take a lethal dose, increasing drug-related fatalities. 

In addition, synthetic opioids are often cheaper and more readily available than traditional drugs, making them more attractive to illegal drug users. The increase in the availability of these drugs is likely to continue to fuel the current epidemic of drug overdoses.

In recent years, there has been a sharp increase in deaths caused by synthetic opioids like fentanyl. New data shows that opioid-related deaths increased from 56,064 in April 2020 to 75,673 in April 2021. Most of these deaths were accidental overdoses, which highlights the dangers of using illegal drugs like fentanyl.

Addiction to prescription painkillers after receiving them from a doctor for a legitimate injury or illness

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Overdose deaths in the United States are at an all-time high, and prescription painkillers are a major contributor to this trend. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 16,416 people died from drug overdoses in 2020. Painkillers like oxycodone, hydrocodone, and codeine are highly addictive, and it is easy for users to develop a tolerance and require ever-increasing doses to achieve the same effect.

As users become increasingly dependent on these drugs, they are more likely to turn to illegal narcotics like heroin when their prescriptions run out. This is a dangerous cycle that often leads to overdose and death. In addition, many users accidentally overdose on prescription painkillers because they are not aware of how powerful these drugs can be. As the opioid epidemic continues to claim lives, it is clear that something needs to be done to address this problem.

It's important to raise awareness about the dangers of opioid overdoses and how they can ruin lives

It's no secret that opioids are a serious problem in the United States. Each year, overdose deaths involving opioids claim the lives of tens of thousands of Americans. In addition to the human toll, the economic cost of the opioid epidemic is estimated to be over $500 billion. Despite these alarming statistics, many people remain unaware of the dangers of opioids and how easily they can ruin lives.

This lack of awareness is one of the biggest challenges in addressing the opioid epidemic. Raising awareness about the dangers of opioids is essential to saving lives and reducing the economic cost of this devastating problem. Only by increasing public understanding of the risks can we hope to make progress in tackling this pressing issue.

Get Help for Your Addiction

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Overdose deaths are at an all-time high in the United States. Every day, more than 130 people die from opioid overdose. If you're struggling with addiction, it's important to reach out for help. There are many effective treatments available, including rehab and medication-assisted treatment programs.

These programs can help you overcome addiction and achieve long-term sobriety. If you're unsure where to start, you can reach out to your doctor or a local addiction treatment center. They can connect you with the resources you need to get started on the road to recovery.

Contact More Than Rehab

When it comes to addiction, getting timely help could help save lives. MoreThanRehab provides information and resources on addiction treatment and a safe space for those who are struggling with addiction.

We also offer a range of treatment options, including detox, rehabilitation and therapies to those struggling with addiction who don’t know where to turn. If you or a loved one needs help, call us immediately. Don't hesitate.

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Texas Overdose Trend Remains At All-Time High For 2022

Substance abuse harms individuals’ physical, mental, and behavioral health. It also affects their families and communities at large. In some instances, it may result in overdose deaths.

A recent report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revealed that over 4,000 people in Texas died due to drug overdose in 2020 alone. The same report revealed that overdoses claimed a total of 93,000 lives in the United States in 2020.

Experts connected the rise in drug addiction deaths with the COVID-19 pandemic. According to Robert Redfield, the CDC director, the COVID-19 pandemic significantly affected individuals with substance use disorders. The need to isolate left them bored and lonely, thus they used drugs and alcohol for solace.

report by DSHS revealed that opioid use is one of the leading causes of overdose deaths in Texas. Other drugs reported causing overdose deaths are cocaine and methamphetamine.

Director of CDC’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Deb Houry, said that the significant increase in overdose deaths is worrying.

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How to prevent drug overdose deaths

Until recently, there was no state-wide system to collect overdose data. Researchers at the University of Texas have created a digital reporting and surveillance system to track this data. The system, commonly known as Project CONNECT. Its purpose is to give stakeholders a clear picture of the Texas overdose crisis and influence future interventions.

The CDC also made the following recommendations in a bid to reduce the number of overdose deaths:

What you can do

Everyone has a role to play in preventing overdose deaths. There is a high chance that someone you know or someone from your community may overdose at some point, but not all overdoses should end in death.

To prevent overdose deaths in your community, you can:

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Ways to talk loved ones into getting treatment

When a loved one is struggling with an addiction, you may be at a loss on what to do to help them. You wouldn’t want to risk losing anyone due to a drug overdose.

Addiction treatment is a personal choice, so you can’t force your loved one to get treatment. The best you can do is be there for them every step of the way. However, you can do a few things to convince your loved one to get substance abuse treatment. Here are some of the most important ones.

Be non-judgemental

If your loved one admits that they are struggling with drug addiction, try to react as calmly as possible. Talk to them in a non-judgemental manner and offer to help them. If your loved one doesn’t confide in you, but you notice they are addicted to drugs or alcohol, you may have to approach them with the issue. Try to be as non-judgemental as possible.

Research the effects of the drug

When your loved one is an addict, it would be best to research the short-term and long-term effects of the drug they are addicted to. When you are well informed, it is unlikely that they will misinform you on the seriousness of the problem. Additionally, they will more likely listen to you when you sound like an expert.

You can get information on various drugs on our website.

Seek professional help

Drug addiction is a chronic illness. Therefore, it needs professional intervention. Reach out to rehab facilities, doctors, or counselors to get relevant information.

Choose a convenient place and time to talk to them

When you decide to approach your loved one to air your concerns, choose a place and time when you would both be comfortable. Do not exhibit aggressive behavior as they may be defensive as a result. Instead, remain calm, maintain an even tone, and focus on the issue at hand.

It would be best to try talking to them when they are as sober as possible. This way, it will be easier to reason with them.

Listen to them

If your loved one is willing to talk about their addiction, listen to them. Give them a chance to air their side of the story, but don’t let them sway you into believing their problem is not serious. Additionally, it would be best to be mindful of how you react or respond.

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Bring up treatment options

From your initial research, you will notice several treatment options available depending on the drug your loved one is addicted to. Some treatment facilities offer both inpatient and outpatient programs. Let your loved ones know their options and help them select the one that suits them best.

Be supportive    

Your loved one will need a lot of your support throughout the treatment and recovery process.

Most treatment programs have medical detox as the first step of treatment. It is arguably the most challenging part of treatment, and most patients feel like they want  to give up. Be there for your loved one and offer emotional support to better their chances of recovery.

You may also have to accompany them to support groups which play a significant role in ensuring recovering addicts maintain sobriety.

What if they don’t want to get treatment?

Sometimes, addicts may refuse to voluntarily get treatment, posing a danger to themselves and those around them. When this happens, you may have to opt for interventionist court-ordered Rehab. You can petition the court for the order if you can prove your loved one’s addiction endangers them and others.

Get help today

If you are searching for trusted and proven drug treatment, Texas has one of the finest. More Than Rehab provides high-quality addiction treatment for Texas residents. We offer unique, individualized treatment programs based on successful national models.

Our experts will take care of your loved one throughout the recovery process, including medical detox, inpatient rehabilitation, and our comprehensive outpatient program. We also provide additional support for Texas overdose victims through sober living arrangements.

Isotonitazene: New Synthetic Opioid Has Recovery Specialists Worried

Every year hundreds of Texans die due to substance abuse. Illicit and illegal drugs like heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamine were the main culprits for the longest time. However, opioid-related deaths became more prevalent in 2017. A new synthetic opioid, isotonitazene threatens to make this problem worse.

Medical practitioners started prescribing opioid pain relievers to patients in the 1990s. Their role was to solely alleviate pain in patients who suffered from injuries or chronic pain. They also helped patients during the recovery period after surgery.

Unfortunately, opioids are highly addictive. They also have a high risk of abuse, so most patients become addicted. Opioid addiction quickly became an epidemic in the health care system.

Synthetic opioids started emerging soon after. Like natural opioids, they target brain parts to produce pain relief (analgesic) effects. By 2014, several synthetic opioids related to fentanyl had emerged in the illicit drug market. The evidence of synthetic opioid abuse was present in various toxicology samples and forensic drug exhibits.

In 2019, experts discovered isotonitazene, a synthetic opioid, in both biological samples and samples from drug seizures. Authorities submitted these findings to the National Medical Services (NMS) laboratory.

Since 2019, isotonitazene has gained popularity in the illegal trade market. Initially, dealers sold it in the black market, but it has become one of the many readily available street drugs. As a result, the number of fatal overdose cases associated with the drug has significantly increased.

This article discusses isotonitazene in detail. We will describe why synthetic opioids are dangerous, signs of opioid abuse or addiction, strategies to prevent abuse, and addiction treatment.

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What is isotonitazene?

Isotonitazene, commonly known as ISO, is a highly addictive synthetic opioid that mimics the effects of etonitazene.

Swiss researchers first discovered etonitazene, a powerful analgesic, in 1957. The analgesic was potent, with a high potential for abuse and addiction. Therefore, the researchers did not make it commercially available for human use. It is classified as a schedule 1 drug.

The chemical structure of etonitazene and isotonitazene are very similar. For this reason, authorities in the United States did not classify it as a separate substance, until recently. The DEA labeled it a schedule 1 drug in June of 2020.

Before then, isotonitazene was not expressly illegal, and most dealers sold it on the dark web. With time, dealers moved from the dark web to the streets. 

The DEA reported that they were able to link several fatalities in the US with isotonitazene. Therefore, the drug is an imminent hazard to public safety.  

Most users obtain isotonitazene in pill form, but it is also available in powder form. Usually, the powder is yellow or off-white, and dealers cut it into other drugs to increase their potency. They may also use it to manufacture pills that resemble existing drugs. For instance, in Canada, isotonitazene tablets in Canada resemble Dilaudid pills.

Why are synthetic opioids dangerous?

Synthetic opioids are dangerous because, like natural opioids, they target receptors in the brain that produce analgesic effects. Consequently, they are highly addictive. They also have several side effects. These include, but not limited to: respiratory depression, urinary retention, vomiting, nausea, pupillary constriction, drowsiness, and confusion. Opioid abuse may also result in opioid use disorders.

If you overdose on synthetic opioids, you may experience the following symptoms:

If you suspect an overdose, call 911 immediately as you or your loved one will require emergency treatment. You can use the prescription nasal spray called Narcan to reverse the overdose effects.

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Signs of opioid abuse and addiction

You can categorize opioid abuse and addiction signs into three: physical, psychological, and behavioral.

The first and most apparent sign of opioid addiction is your inability to stop using opioids, even if you want to. Further worsening the problem is taking more prescription medications than your doctor prescribed.

Other signs of abuse or addiction are;

If you crave opioids or can’t control your urge to take them, the chances are that you are addicted. You may also be an addict if you continue taking them without your doctor’s prescription. The same is true if the drug regularly interferes with your day-to-day life.

Your family and friends will likely notice your addiction before you do since they will notice the behavioral change.

Strategies to prevent isotonitazene abuse and overdose

Isotonitazene is still new in the United States’ illicit drug market. Therefore, there is a need for more strategies to prevent isotonitazene abuse and overdose. Its classification as a schedule 1 drug is helpful because of the stringent regulations and hefty penalties for dealers and traffickers.

Still, it would be more useful if isotonitazene was added to toxicology tests. This way, authorities, and experts will better understand the extent of its abuse in the United States.

There should be better access to Narcan (naloxone), the medication that reverses the effects of opioids. This could help to combat overdose resulting from isotonitazene abuse.

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Treatment

The opioid epidemic is a destructive public health crisis that requires comprehensive treatment. At More Than Rehab, we offer extensive treatment for opioid addiction.

Generally, withdrawal symptoms associated with opioid addiction are challenging to deal with on your own. This is true no matter if it is prescription opioidsor illicit synthetic opioids. Our experienced medical staff will help you through it.

We have inpatient detox, where our medical staff will supervise you as you experience acute withdrawal symptoms. Additionally, we have an inpatient rehab program that helps you navigate the early stages of sobriety. Our outpatient services consisting of group and individual therapy sessions.

Start your recovery journey today

Most people think it is impossible to successfully treat opioid addiction because it affects the central nervous system. However, this is not the case. With the proper treatment, you can make a full recovery.

If you or your loved one are addicted to opioids, it would be best to seek medical attention.

More Than Rehab has exhaustive treatment facilities. Our experts use an evidence-based approach to rehabilitation. We will walk you through our medical detox followed by the inpatient program to help you maintain sobriety.

Depending on your case, you may also opt for short-term replacement therapy to minimize your cravings with medication-assisted treatment.

Contact us today to start your recovery journey and get your life back on track. Our communication lines are open 24/7.

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East Texas Has an Opioid Problem, From Prescription

If you think that the drug abuse trend in the great state of Texas has anything to do with its closeness to the Mexican border, you are right. Texas shares a 1,254-mile border with Mexico, which is a big factor in the state's drug problem, especially with the illegal drug heroin.

According to the National Drug Intelligence Center, Texas Drug Threat Assessment, this border area is widely used by the cartels to smuggle illicit substances to the United States. That’s because most of is open, including state parks and this makes it difficult to constantly be monitored by enforcement agencies.

Large quantities of cocaine, heroin, marijuana, and meth are trafficked to the country through the border. Federal-wide Drug Seizure System (FDSS) research shows that the amount of drugs seized by officers in the state – most confiscated near or at the US-Mexico border – consistently surpasses that of any other region in the United States

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But despite the law enforcement effort, cartels still find creative ways of ferrying the drugs across the border, whether it’s through roads, air, rail, water, or underground tunnels. And while smuggling happens anywhere across the border, commercial smuggling is prevalent in the Gulf of Mexico and the Rio Grande River.

Prescription opioids in East Texas

Illicit substances aren’t the only drug problem in Texas. The seemingly safe prescription medicines are also frequently abused and can cause serious issues, like overdose and death. In 2018, there were 14,975 deaths involving prescription opioids in Texas, according to the National Institute on Drug Use. Although the national prescription opioid-involved death rates decreased by nearly 7% from 2018 to 2019, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reveal that more than 70% of the 70,630 deaths in 2019 involved opioids.

Prescription drugs produce feelings of calmness and euphoria when taken in large doses. And while they aren’t meant to be taken this way, people may become tolerant over time and begin taking larger doses to feel the effect. This is part of the reason Texas law limits opioid prescriptions for acute pain to 10 days – with no refills allowed. A separate law also mandates physicians to check a state database to track whether patients with moderate to severe pain have already gotten the drugs elsewhere.

The regional needs assessment showed that the lifetime use rates for codeine syrup, Adderall, and benzodiazepines in the south- and northeast Texas were 15.5%, 4.4%, and 4.1%, respectively. Additionally, there were 7 prescriptions per 10 people in northeast Texas compared to 5.2 per 10 people statewide, according to the assessment.

Examples of commonly abused prescription drugs in East Texas include:

Misuse of prescription medicines is widespread, especially among adults and teens. Xanax misuse is particularly prevalent for teens. Houston, which lies in Southeast Texas, near the Gulf of Mexico and Galveston, is a source city for bulk quantities of pain medicines. Most of the supply comes from diverse activities at Houston’s many illegal pill mills, organized pharmacy theft, and prescription fraud.

Counterfeit pill production

The rise of counterfeit pill production makes the prescription drug situation even worse. Fake Xanax and hydrocodone pills containing fentanyl and other synthetic opioids are increasingly being seized. These impure drugs can have severe side effects and lead to overdose and death in worse cases. In fact, reports show that misused opioids accounted for more deaths than any other drugs save for cocaine.

According to the DEA, fentanyl-laced counterfeit pills remain a leading cause of overdose deaths in East Texas and across the country. As cheap, potent fentanyl infiltrates the heroin markets, the drug will augment and supplant white powder heroin in different markets.

Texas is in the top five states for a total number of opioid-related deaths. It also has the second-highest opioid abuse-related health care costs, amounting to over $1.9 billion, according to the City of San Antonio Metropolitan Health District’s overview. Hundreds of people die of overdose every day, and deaths involving schedule II drugs have outpaced those of heroin and cocaine combined since 2002. The crisis has led several East Texas counties, like Upshur, Titus, and Bowie, to hold drug manufacturers like Pfizer Inc., Purdue Pharma, and Johnson & Johnson responsible for the economic burden of opioid addiction.

Opioid addiction

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Opioids such as fentanyl, heroin, and pain medications are highly addictive because they activate powerful reward centers in the brain. These drugs activate opioid receptors on cells situated in many areas of the spinal cord, brain, and other body organs, particularly those involved in feelings of pleasure and pain. When they attach to these receptors, they block pain signals and flood the body with dopamine. This effect can reinforce the act of using the drug, making one want to repeat the experience.

Long-term use of opioids can cause some people to develop tolerance. In this case, they’ll need higher and more frequent doses to achieve the desired effect. But this causes neurons to adapt so that they only work normally when the drug is present. The absence of the drug causes withdrawal symptoms, some of which are life-threatening. At this point, one is likely to rely on the drug to keep these symptoms at bay.

Treating opioid addiction

Chronic pain patients who develop opioid addiction need medical support to quit using the drugs. There are many inpatient and outpatient facilities in Trinity, Newton, Polk, Port Arthur, Tyler, Texas, etc., dedicated to treating people with addiction. Other programs, like the Deep East Texas Opioid Response Program, can also help with addiction care. Many of these programs use medications like buprenorphine or methadone to help individuals get off of opioids. In cases of opioid overdose, patients are given Naltrexone to flush out receptors to reverse the overdose.

Take advantage of the many resources available in the region to ensure you or your loved one is free from opioid addiction. The East Texas Council on Addiction and Drug Abuse is one such resource that acts as the first step for those seeking help. But you can also contact us today to learn how we can help you get off drugs and lead a clean, healthy life.