Tag: iv drug use

The Death of Prince – Highlighting Fentanyl Overdose

The Prince and the Fentanyl Overdose prince fentanyl lighthouse recovery

On what would have been Prince’s birthday today, instead,  headlines scream “How did Prince get his hands on Fentanyl?” In the meantime, people in recovery laugh and say obtaining the drug that killed Prince back in April is as easy as buying a pack of cigarettes. Fentanyl overdose isn’t “new” news.

Fentanyl is a powerful synthetic opiate analgesic similar to morphine, but immensely more powerful. It is used to treat patients with severe pain, but is also readily available as a street drug and often mixed with heroin. It causes a lot of overdose and death, and addiction. To have such a well-known celebrity such as Prince die from it will maybe shed some light on the growing problem.

What is Fentanyl

Fentanyl can be up to 100 times more potent than heroin, and causes more intense and rapid onset of respiratory depression, which gives users a bigger chance of overdose. Additionally, fentanyl is often mixed with or sold as heroin, so an addict will overdose because they don’t know exactly what it is they are getting.

Deaths related to fentanyl overdose rose by 500% from 2013 to 2014, and last March, the DEA classified fentanyl as a threat to health and public safety. The drug is so dangerous because of it’s immense strength and fast-action. However, fentanyl tends to wear off fast, leaving a user wanting more, immediately – and eventually seeking out higher and higher doses.

Prince’s Fentanyl Overdose Remains a Mystery

The question about Prince is whether or not he was prescribed fentanyl, or if he obtained it illegally, through a dealer or acquaintance. He was found unresponsive after a self-administered dose, in his elevator, leaving so many questions. If he was prescribed the medicine for pain, who prescribed it? The fact that there were doctors en route to his house for an intervention make it clear that scary drug abuse was going on. It makes is sad that they were so close, but just couldn’t make it in time to save Prince’s life.

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fentanyl overdose prince lighthouseThe Truth About Drug Overdose

Most people who overdose don’t intend to. Contrary to what it may look like to the rest of us, they aren’t suicidal, and definitely don’t want to die. Overdoses happen fast, and there are a couple of factors that tend to cause them. First, they tend to happen when someone hasn’t used in a while, and thinks they can handle the same amount as they could when they stopped using last time. This isn’t the case – and people OD very easily because of this.

Second, when a person buys street drugs, they never know exactly what is in them. Heroin mixed with fentanyl is a common cause of overdose, and the people who overdose just had no idea.

In the case of Prince, we may never know all the hows and whys, but it’s safe to say he was suffering a battle of addiction, which so many of us have been through. It’s a tragedy that he is now a part of the statistic of people who don’t survive their drug use, but we can only learn from his example and make the dangers of fentanyl overdose known.

 

Hepatitis Awareness Month

Hepatitis. Know Your Risk!

May is Hepatitis Awareness Month, a disease that goes hand-in-hand with drug use. Are you or could you be at risk? Knowledge is power! Read on to learn more about this disease and how to prevent it, and the basic facts.

Hepatitis in a Nutshell

There are three kinds of hepatitis, and the cause and effects are quite different for each. It is completely possible to have hepatitis and not even know at first, since there can be no symptoms. Hepatitis A is a rare form of the disease spread through contaminated food or drink, travelling to certain countries where the disease is prevalent, having sexual encounters with an infected person, or illegal drug injection. It is preventable by vaccine and typically resolves within days to a week.

Hepatitis B is a serious liver infection that is caused by a virus. For some people it becomes chronic, which can lead to liver failure, cancer, or cirrhosis. Finally, Hepatitis C is the strain most commonly associated with drug use, and unfortunately 75 to 85% of people who have it develop a long-term chronic condition. It is one of the top reasons people get liver transplants.

Why is Hepatitis C So Prevalent in the Drug Community?Hepatitis C Awareness

One of the leading causes of transmission of Hepatitis C is through drug injection, especially sharing drugs and needles. It only takes one time of sharing a needle or paraphernalia with an infected person to contract the disease, and contrary to popular belief, it isn’t just the needle itself that poses a threat.

Drug solutions that are prepared using a single set of equipment like cookers and filtration cotton provide an additional route or transmission for the disease from one user to another. Entire groups of people that use together can become infected this way, because anyone injecting the drug that was prepared in the contaminated cooker or cotton is injecting the virus directly into their bloodstream.

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Think You May Have Been Exposed?

Get tested. A blood test is the only way to determine if you do in fact have the virus, and from there you can figure out a treatment plan with your doctor. Symptoms include fevers, muscle and joint pain, nausea, loss of appetite, and weakness. However, often there are no symptoms at all until the disease has progressed. Catching it early can lead to a better outcome. Hepatitis C treatment has changed drastically in the past few years, and many options are out there to help anyone who has the disease live a long, healthy, and full life.

Protect Yourself

The best thing to do, as with any disease, is to prevent exposure in the first place. An obvious one would be to not use intravenous drugs, and if you are in the depths of addiction, seek the help you need. If you are using drugs, until you stop completely make sure never to share any needles or equipment.

If you live with or are in contact with someone who has the disease, or are unsure, drastic measures do not need to be taken, just simple steps to protect yourself. Never share toothbrushes, razors or other personal care items. Always practice safe sex to prevent the spread of Hepatitis C. Also, beware of procedures like tattoos and body piercing – always make sure the equipment used is brand-new, sterile, and the practitioner is licensed.

 

Why is Hepatitis C Spreading Across the US in Record Numbers?

Hepatitis C in America

hep c viral disease

What’s the worst disease you can think of?

Most people would probably say AIDS, cancer, or maybe the avian flu. Not many are going to say hepatitis C.

Guess what though? Hep C is currently spreading across the United States at far greater rates than any of the above.

It isn’t easy to admit, or pleasant to think about, but we’re in the midst of several wars. We’re fighting painkillers, heroin, synthetic drugs like spice and bath salts, and now – Hep C and liver disease.

Some sources are quick to point out that as IV heroin use has exploded, so have cases of Hep C. While the two have a close relationship, there still isn’t definitive proof one way of the other.

What we do know, and what affects people like you and me, is this – hepatitis C infection is up approximately 273% from 2009. Something very bad is going on here.

What is Hep C?

Although it’s often talked about, Hep C isn’t that well understood.

While explaining the ins and outs would take much more space than we have – not to mention, hepatitis C and various treatments are explored here – we’ll give you the basics.

Hep C, also known as HCV, is a viral infection that attacks the liver.

 

    • It can be symptomatic (showing signs) or asymptomatic (showing no signs)

 

    • It leads to fibrosis (scar tissue), cirrhosis (a build up of scar tissue on the liver causing major problems), and, in some cases, liver cancer

 

  • It can be acute (the first six months after becoming infected) or chronic (an HCV infection that last longer than six months. Most instances of HCV are chronic)

hep c liver
Hepatitis C is different from hepatitis A or B. Hep A is spread through contaminated food and water and has a vaccine. Hep B is spread through contact with infected body fluids and also has a vaccine.

HCV, on the other hand, is spread through blood-to-blood contact and has no vaccine. The primary route of infection is through IV drug users sharing needles.

Just How Quickly is Hep C Spreading?

That’s the real question, right? How bad is HCV in America? Find that information and more below:

    • Cases of acute Hep C grew 273% between 2009 and 2013

 

    • That breaks down to over 19,000 deaths due to HCV in 2013

 

    • This is up from 16,235 deaths in 2009

 

    • During early 2015, an average of 48,000 prescriptions were filled per month for Hep C fighting medications (Harvoni, Sovaldi, interferon, etc.)

 

  • Between 2007 and 2013, heroin use also exploded – rising close to 150%

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All statistics taken from the Star Tribune.

Since injection drug use is the primary transmission route of HCV and, during the same time period, both Hep C and heroin use increased dramatically – it’s safe to say the two are related.

Officials can’t say whether increased heroin use is the only cause, or even the primary cause, for the drastic increase in Hep C infections. Still, it’s clear the two are linked and having some impact on each other.

What States are Being Hit the Hardest?

Based on the above numbers, it isn’t hyperbole to say we’re in the grip of a hepatitis C outbreak…but what does that look like from the ground? What does it look like in individual states and counties?

Well, again according to the Star Tribune, it looks something like this:

    • The national rate of HCV infection is around .7 per 100,000 people. In Washington County, Maine, the rate is around 6 per 100,000 people.

 

    • Madison County, in Indiana, had 70 cases of Hep C in 2013. This number increased to 130 in 2014. All of which is to say nothing about Indiana’s HIV outbreak.

 

    • HCV infection in Massachusetts has grown from 10 new cases in 2009 to 174 in 2013.

 

    • Kentucky has 5.1 cases of acute Hep C infection per 100,000 people. Remember, the national average is .7 cases per 100,000 people.

iv drug use can cause hcv

  • Hepatitis C is on the rise in Springfield, Missouri. Although exact figures aren’t available, heroin is being seized at around five times the rate it was in 2013. This suggests cases of Hep C will be around five times higher than normal.

What Can We Do?

It’s easy to sit back and say that hepatitis C is on the rise in America. What isn’t so easy, though, is figuring out just what to do to slow it down.

Thankfully, there are a host of new medications that boast upwards of a 90% success rate in curing cases of Hep C. These, mentioned briefly above, are Harvoni, Sovaldi, and other direct protein inhibitors.

viral view of what hep c looks like

The downside to these new meds is their cost. They routinely cost upwards of $100,000 for a full course of therapy. This makes insurance companies wary of giving people the go ahead to take them.

The other major option we have is harm reduction. This is a form of substance abuse treatment aimed at helping addicts to, as the name suggests, reduce the potential harm of addiction.

It’s comprised of techniques like methadone maintenance, syringe exchanges, basic healthcare services, safe injection sites, and others.

Despite offering some major benefits – making sure addicts have access to clean syringes can almost entirely wipe out blood-borne disease like HCV – it’s also controversial and faces steep opposition from many politicians.

Regardless of where you stand on harm reduction, the fact that is can help to reduce the current spread of Hep C is pretty impressive. That’s something we can all agree on.

What do you think about the recent rise in Hep C infections? Let us know on social media.

The Pros and Cons of Needle Exchange Programs: Do They Really Work?

Written By: Brian Cattelle

What are Needle Exchange Programs?

Needle exchange programs are places where IV drug users can obtain clean syringes for free. Needle exchanges also often offer other services.

Why Were They Created?

The purpose of needle exchange programs is to reduce the transmission of HIV and other blood-borne diseases. Recent statistics show that one fifth of all HIV and HCV infections in the United States are due to IV drug use. IV drug users often share needles with others because they can’t afford to buy new ones. Many needle exchange programs also offer education to help prevent the spread of illnesses like HIV and STD’s.

Needle Exchange Programs in the US

What Services Do They Offer?

-HIV/AIDS education

-Condom distribution

-Access to drug rehabilitation centers

-HIV and STD testing

-Counseling

-Safe disposal of used syringes

-Other medical services

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Needle Exchange Program Facts

  • 87% of needle exchange programs offer HIV testing and counseling, 65% offer hepatitis C counseling and testing, 55% offered sexually transmitted disease screening, and 31% offered tuberculosis screening; 89% provided referrals to substance abuse treatment” (from Drug War Facts).
  • As long ago as 1997, The N.I.H. stated, “individuals in areas with needle exchange programs have an increased likelihood of entering drug treatment programs.”
  • In 2008, needle exchange programs reported exchanging just over twenty-nine million syringes.
  • Studies show needle exchange programs have led to a 30% decrease in HIV infection, and an 80% decrease in risky sexual behavior.
  • These needle exchange program facts and statistics pretty accurately answer the question “do needle exchange programs really work?” Yes, yes they do.Related: How to Pay for Drug Rehab

    What’s With all the Controversy?

    Many feel these programs shouldn’t exist and that drug users should be punished to prevent drug use. People against needle exchanges argue this would provide more incentive for quitting.

    Whether a program condones or prevents drug use, they’re helping the fight against HIV and STD’s. Addicts will find a way to get high and needle exchange programs offer harm reduction during active addiction. Those using these programs have less risk of contracting a blood-borne disease and, upon getting sober, will better be able to live as productive members of society.

    Needle exchange programs often try to get addicts to stop using. Information about treatment centers and other services to help quit are available. Many in the depths of drug use don’t know the path to recovery. Needle exchange programs offer information on what to do and where to seek help.

    Do Needle Exchange Programs Really Work?

    Those who don’t understand the disease of addiction say that addicts must deal with the consequences of their decision to use dirty needles. Contrary to public opinion, these programs actually help cut down on public health costs. Taxpayer costs increase with the increase of infections.

    In some states, there are laws against possessing needles without a prescription and individuals carrying syringes may even be arrested for possessing drug paraphernalia. By 2006, forty-eight states have authorized needle exchange programs and allow the purchase of needles without a prescription. As of 2012, needle exchange programs can be found in almost thirty-five states.

    There hasn’t been any increases in drug use, or more frequent drug injection, in these states. Crime statistics have NOT shown any higher risks of crime from needle exchange programs.

    You draw your own conclusion.

     Discover the Dangers of Speedballing

    At Lighthouse Recovery Institute, we understand there’s no simple solution to substance abuse. We’ve been there. We’ve felt the hopelessness of active addiction and found a way out.

    Thankfully, there’s another way. Recovery is possible and within the reach of everyone. Call us today at 1-844-I-CAN-CHANGE or 1-(561)-381-0015.

    Let us help you or your loved one recover. Let us help you break the chains of addiction.

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Hep C on the Rise & More Dangerous than HIV

An Outbreak Worse than HIV

A lot of noise has been made lately about Indiana’s HIV outbreak. It’s understandable, especially with over 150 residents testing positive for the infamous virus and numbers expected to keep rising.

hep c virus on the rise
image via Wikimedia Commons

There’s another outbreak that’s been causing quiet waves over the last few years. It hasn’t been getting as much media coverage as HIV, though it’s deadlier and spreading faster. I’m talking about the dramatic rise in Hepatitis C infections since 2006.

A recent study conducted by the Center for Disease Control notes an alarming rise in Hep C rates. This increase is centered in four Appalachian states – Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia.

Other areas of the country have been hit and the numbers keep growing. After seeing a 150% nationwide rise in Hep C infections between 2010 and 2013, John Ward, the Director of the CDC’s Division of Viral Hepatitis, went on record as saying, “We have a major problem with hepatitis C” (The Wall Street Journal).

What’s going on? Why are so many IV drug users becoming infected with Hepatitis C? Are all these addicts sharing needles? Find out below.

What’s going on in Indiana??

A Realistic View of Hep C in America

Find the latest information about Hepatitis C in America broken down below:

  • The four states hit the hardest have been Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia. There have been increased cases of Hep C in other parts of the country, notably in Wisconsin, Massachusetts and upstate New York.
  •  

  • All these areas are rural, non-urban environments where IV painkiller abuse is prevalent.
  •  

  • How much have infection rates grown? Well, from 2006 to 2012 they grew a whopping 364%. Of all these cases, 73% were linked directly to IV drug use.
  •  

  • A large percentages of these cases, almost 45%, were among white men and women under the age of thirty.
  •  

  • During this six year period, there was also a 12.6% rise in the admittance of IV drug users to addiction treatment centers.
  •  

  • All told, approximately three million Americans are thought to be infected with Hep C. Large portions of these infections are unrelated to IV drug use (baby boomers infected prior to safety regulations on blood transfusions).
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    Why Are So Many People Getting Infected?

    There’s been a large increase in Hepatitis C infections since the mid 2000’s. That much is fact. The question then becomes, simply, what now? Why are so many people getting infected and what can we do to stop the spread of HCV?

    Well, before looking at how to prevent and treat Hep C, let’s first examine why it’s spreading so rapidly. Let’s look at why, compared to HIV and other blood borne diseases, it’s spreading like wildfire (Hep C is approximately five times as prevalent as HIV).

    The answer is actually rather simple. Hep C is a more spreadable virus than HIV. It takes smaller quantities of the virus, already at minuscule levels, to infect an individual. This alone makes it more likely to spread.

    Add into the equation painkillers. Generally, when injecting painkillers, individuals need to use a higher gauge syringe. This leads to larger puncture wounds and more infected blood in the syringe. This, then, leads to greater infection rates.

    In fact, when a CDC team investigated this idea, they found that users who injected painkillers were five times more likely to test positive for Hepatitis C than those who injected only heroin.

    A simple guide to understanding Hep C treatment

    Hep C Treatment

    Now that we have an understanding of why HCV is spreading so quickly, let’s examine what can be done to halt this spread and treat the virus itself.

    In recent years there’s been an explosion of highly effective Hep C drugs. The most recent of these, Harvoni, has over a 90% success rate. It’s a twelve-week regimen of direct anti-viral medicine. Unlike Interferon, an older treatment, Harvoni carries with it almost no side effects.

    hcv infection

    So, there’s a medicine available with high “cure” rates and minimal side effects. Surely Hepatitis C shouldn’t worry anyone anymore, right? Well, there is a downside – the cost. An entire twelve-week supply of Harvoni can cost anywhere from $80,000 to upwards of $100,000.

    With prices reaching sky-high levels, many insurance companies are hesitant to pay. The question then becomes how to stop the spread of Hep C altogether. After all, if people aren’t getting infected, there’s no need for expensive treatment.

    Perhaps the best strategy to reduce the spread of Hepatitis C, and other blood borne disease, is education and outreach. Schools, community organizations, treatment centers, and other recovery resources should continue a dialogue about Hep C. They should educate the public on what the virus is, how it’s spread, and how to avoid contracting it.

    This moves us nicely towards direct outreach. These are things like syringe exchange programs, low cost health clinics, and other harm reduction methods. Although controversial, harm reduction has been shown to greatly reduce instances of Hep C and HIV infection.

    Through this combined approach, education and outreach, I believe we stand a real chance at halting Hepatitis C in its tracks. This can’t come soon enough. With the painkiller and heroin epidemic raging, with the increased prevalence of infectious disease, we need a solution and now! This just might be it.

    Indiana’s HIV Outbreak Gets Worse

    HIV Outbreak Goes From Bad to Worse

    Not long ago, Lighthouse reported on the rising number of Indiana residents contracting HIV. These cases were all linked back to prescription drug abuse, specifically to injecting the painkiller Opana.

    indiana hiv state of emergency

    Well things just got worse.

    There have been upwards of seventy confirmed cases of HIV since the outbreak started in December and that number is expected to grow. While most cases have been limited to Scott and other counties in the southeastern corner of the state, officials believe this is a statewide problem.

    In response to the HIV outbreak, Indiana governor Mike Pence declared a state of emergency. He issued an executive order and put into effect “preventative measures” to help stop the spread of HIV.

    What are these measures and why do many Indiana residents believe they’re not enough? Find out below.

    Learn about the new Hep C treatment that’s being called a miracle!

    How Will Indiana Contain the Outbreak?

    In light of the over seventy Scott County residents infected with HIV, Indiana officials have taken some drastic measures. Specifically, Gov. Mike Pence has issued a thirty-day executive order aimed at containing the spread of HIV.

    Gov. Pence’s order will include measures like increased addiction treatment, HIV treatment, a needle safety awareness program, and a campaign spreading awareness about HIV, drug abuse, and safe sex. Finally, needle exchange programs will be sanctioned in Scott County.

    Needle exchange programs are locations where IV drug users can go and turn in used syringes for new ones. They frequently offer health services like HIV, Hep C, and STD screenings and safe injection practice information.

    The governor has made clear that this needle exchange program isn’t here to stay. Rather, it will last thirty-days and is aimed only at stopping the spread of HIV. Pence has also stated that if the state legislature were to pass a law making needle exchange programs legal, he’ll veto it.

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    Will This Stop the Spread of HIV?

    There are numerous critics of Gov. Pence’s plan. One of these is Beth Meyerson, the Co-Director of the Rural Center for AIDS/STD Prevention. Meyerson believes the governor’s needle exchange program is doomed to failure. She’s stated,

    “There’s zero evidence to support the governor’s proposition. His solution is not based on public health science. I appreciate the governor’s flexibility, bit it’s not even close to being an appropriate response” (Uptown Magazine).

    Mrs. Meyerson isn’t alone in her critique of Pence’s response to the HIV outbreak. Dr. Kevin Burke, a public health officer from one of the affected counties, believes a thirty-day needle exchange program won’t offer any sort of long-term solution and may not even work in the short-term.

    Others believe that those infected with HIV may continue to spread the disease. Jeanni McCarty, office manager at Foundations Family Medicine, described a conversation with one infected woman –

    “The young woman came to her recently and confessed that not only did she use intravenous drugs and share needles with those around her, but she helped fund her habit with prostitution. She said she tested positive in January and since then, she estimated, she has had sexual relations with about 75 truck drivers passing through the area” (USA Today).

    While that’s a scary thing to think about, it’s also representative of the outbreak as a whole. Sharing contaminated needles directly causes HIV, but there are many other factors to consider. Things like lifestyle factors, how individuals finance their addictions, and even their living situations all need to be taken into account.

    There’s no doubt that a thirty-day needle exchange program, paired with increased drug treatment, HIV education and preventative resources, will do tremendous good for Indiana. Still, I can’t help but think that something more is needed.

    I’m not sure what that something more is, though. Perhaps Indiana does need a statewide syringe exchange program. Perhaps it simply needs to become proactive, rather than reactionary, about stopping the spread of HIV and other drug borne illnesses.

    One thing is very clear though – Indiana needs to do something and Gov. Pence’s thirty-day state of emergency is as good a place as any to start.

    Learn why practicing safe sex in sobriety is important!

    Rise in HIV Linked to Painkiller Abuse

    A Tragic Situation in Indiana

    The last four months have seen an unfortunate and unprecedented rise in HIV cases in Indiana. Officials say the twenty-seven confirmed cases, and ten additional preliminary cases, are largely due to IV painkiller abuse.

    Indiana HIV

    Since early December, painkiller addicts in the midwest have been sharing contaminated syringes. These dirty needles have, in turn, transmitted close to thirty confirmed cases of HIV. Some local officials believe unsafe sexual practices have also contributed to a number of cases.

    The cause of this recent outbreak is Opana, a powerful opioid drug. Opana, which goes by the chemical name oxymorphone, is six to eight times stronger than morphine. That also makes it two to three times stronger than heroin. To say southern Indiana is in the midst of a twofold epidemic, drug abuse and HIV, is no stretch.

    The counties hit the worst are all located in southeastern Indiana, on the border of Kentucky. Clark, Jackson, Perry, Scott, and Washington counties are the epicenter of this outbreak.

    Dr. Jerome Adams, the State Health Commissioner, had the following to say about the increasing number of HIV cases and their link to IV pain pill abuse,

    “Because prescription drug abuse is at the heart of this outbreak, we are not only working to identify, contact and test individuals who may have been exposed, but also to connect community members to resources for substance abuse treatment and recovery” (CBS Chicago).

    Do needle exchanges help addicts or perpetrate addiction?

    Drug Related HIV

    Dr. Adams is absolutely correct about Indiana’s HIV outbreak. It isn’t so much a matter of unsafe sexual practices, it’s more a matter of unsafe injection practices.

    State officials have been quick to note that Opana itself isn’t inherently spreading HIV. The pill itself isn’t infected. Rather, Opana addicts sharing syringes are spreading the virus. Dr. Shane Avery believes a lack of education lies at the heart of Indiana’s outbreak.

    He recently told the Indy Star, “It’s probably easier to get ahold of the Opana than it is the needles. This sounds almost unbelievable, but the issue is education… So many of them don’t appreciate or understand the dangers of sharing needles” (Indy Star).

    What makes this particular cluster of HIV infections noteworthy is their link to prescription drugs rather than “traditional” drugs like heroin or cocaine. Users injecting Opana, or for that matter OxyContin and other opioid painkillers, are more likely to bleed and sustain open wounds for longer.

    This is due, in no small part, to Opana manufactures making their drug “abuse-proof.” The unfortunate upshot of “abuse-proof” pain pills is that when shrewd addicts do figure out a way to abuse them, they’re putting themselves at risk. They’re injecting a dangerous combination of the drug itself, fillers, gel, and other abuse-deterrents.

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    Another byproduct of abusing painkillers, and one that may have contributed to Indiana’s rise in HIV infections, is the perceived safety of prescription medication. Although heroin, cocaine, and meth have long been linked to HIV, painkillers haven’t.

    Dr. Jan Scaglione, a clinical toxicologist at the Cincinnati Drug and Poison Information Center, said that IV Opana users might have been unaware of the need for clean syringes. The Indy Star reports,

    “Heroin users have long been cautioned about the need to use clean needles. But those involved with this outbreak might not have been aware of the need — or thought they were safe because they were using a licensed pharmaceutical and knew those with whom they shared the needle” (Indy Star).

    Indiana’s solution, which is still very much being implemented, is to educate those at risk. State health officials have begun to educate IV drug users about the importance of never reusing syringes and making sure syringes are properly sterilized before injecting drugs. State health officials have also begun to offer harm reduction services.

    These measures should help tremendously to slow and hopefully stop Indiana’s HIV outbreak.

    How addictive is Tramadol?

    Debunking Cotton Fever Myths: The Truth About Cotton Fever

    What the Heck is Cotton Fever?

    Cotton fever is a term that gets thrown around pretty frequently in the drug world. Despite hearing it often during active addiction, I never really knew what it meant. I’d heard about 10,000 definitions, each one a little different from the last.

    dangers of IV drug use

    Cotton fever is associated with IV drug use. It’s thought to result from injecting tiny particles from whatever is used as a filter. These are things like cotton balls, Q-Tips, and cigarette filters.

    Although injecting particles from these filters is a real concern for active addicts, they’re not the cause of cotton fever.

    So, what’s the real cause? Well, it’s most likely an infection brought on by Pantoea agglomerans. This is a bacterium found on cotton plants, not in cotton itself.

    In fact, in the 1940’s cotton pickers began to exhibit cotton fever symptoms. They weren’t IV drug users, but rather people who had frequent contact with cotton plants and, subsequently, Pantoea agglomerans.

    In recent years, there’s been new evidence that suggests cotton fever is actually a form of sepsis. This is due, in large part, to the fact that its symptoms are incredibly similar to sepsis symptoms.

    Let’s turn our attention to some frequent cotton fever symptoms.

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    Cotton Fever Symptoms

    • Fever (usually lasting no longer than twenty-four hours)
    • Extreme Shakes
    • Nausea & Vomiting
    • Muscle & Bone Pain
    • Chills
    • Migraines

    What is HCV and what’s its link to cotton fever?

    How to Get Rid of Cotton Fever

    Like many problems of active addiction, cotton fever treatment options seem to be a mix of common sense advice and urban legend. Find some cotton fever treatments below:

    what causes cotton fever

    • Seek Medical Help – this should be obvious! If you’re experiencing cotton fever, go to the hospital. While it usually isn’t deadly, there’s no way to tell what the exact outcome will be. If cotton fever really is a mild form of sepsis, then medical attention is absolutely necessary.
    • Take a Hot Shower – this is used by many heroin addicts to help ease withdrawal symptoms. Because cotton fever mimics opiate withdrawal, taking a hot shower may help mitigate some cotton fever symptoms.
    • Drink a Lot of Water – Like taking a hot shower, this is more to help ease some cotton fever symptoms. However, drinking a lot of water won’t do much to rid the body of any infection.
    • Let it Run its Course – while I don’t endorse doing nothing, this is an option. Many addicts view cotton fever as an unfortunate side effect of active addiction and won’t attempt any sort of treatment unless they have to.

    Learn the true scope of America’s painkiller epidemic

    #iloveheroin: Junkies on Instagram

    #junkiefam #junkiesofiggg

    heroin on instagram
    In a strange twist of social media, heroin addicts are using Instagram to share pictures of their addiction. With hashtags like those above getting thousands of posts, this isn’t a fad. It looks like using social media to document addiction is here to stay.

    The Daily Mail, and other news outlets, have run stories about this new trend.

    What exactly are the junkies of Instagram (their words, not mine) sharing pictures of? Why isn’t Instagram removing these pictures? More to the point, how can social media be used to influence both addiction and recovery?

    Pictures of Syringes & Heroin

    The most popular posts are pictures of syringes and of heroin itself. There are also pictures of pills, pipes, and tinfoil. There even seem to be a few pictures advertising drugs for sale. I’ll touch on that last one later.

    junkies on instagram

    The first question that comes to mind is why? Why would someone in the depths of active addiction post pictures of their addiction? Why would they document their downward spiral and then show the world?

    As a former heroin addict myself, I think the answer has to do with alienation and loneliness. Addiction isolates us from everyone. I cut off my family (to be more accurate, they cut me off) and friends. The people I was using with, buying from, and hanging around weren’t my friends. They were just warm bodies who happened to be in the same boat as me.

    Addiction is a disease of isolation, among other things. Ever hear that saying “I can be alone in a crowed room?” That’s addiction’s mantra.

    So, sharing pictures of a loaded syringe may be an attempt at connection. Having people comment on that picture may be a twisted form of friendship.

    Does harm reduction help or hurt heroin addicts?

    Drug Dealers on Instagram

    drug dealers on instagram

    And then there are those who’re using Instagram to sell drugs. This seems outrageous to say the least.

    Think about it. Someone has to take a picture of, say, a bundle of heroin. Then they have to post it and advertise that it’s for sale. Someone has to comment or message them. Finally, the two have to meet.

    That’s pretty involved. It’s also risky for the dealers themselves. You’d think this would stop them, right? Well, it doesn’t seem to. The Instagram drug market is alive and thriving.

    Why isn’t Instagram doing anything to stop this?

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    Why Doesn’t Instagram Remove These Pictures?

    Unfortunately, I don’t have an answer to this question. I reached out to Instagram, but didn’t receive any response. Maybe the answer lies in their user guidelines?

    I checked and this is what I found:

    Do share photos and videos that are safe for people of all ages
    Remember that our community is a diverse one, and that your posts are visible to people as young as 13 years old. While we respect the artistic integrity of photos and videos, we have to keep our product and the content within it in line with our App Store’s rating for nudity and mature content. In other words, please do not post nudity or mature content of any kind.

    social media and drugs

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    Don’t share photos or videos that show nudity or mature content
    If you wouldn’t show the photo or video you are thinking about uploading to a child, or your boss, or your parents, you probably shouldn’t share it on Instagram. The same rule applies to your profile photo. Accounts found sharing nudity or mature content will be disabled and your access to Instagram may be discontinued. While we know that families use Instagram to capture and share photos of their children, we may remove images that show nude or partially nude children for safety reasons. Even when these images are uploaded with the best of intentions, this content could be re-shared and used by other people in unanticipated and inappropriate ways. You can learn more on our Tips for Parents page.

    Don’t share photos or videos of illegal content
    If you are reported for sharing prohibited or illegal content, including photographs or videos of extreme violence or gore, your account may be disabled and we will take appropriate action, which may include reporting you to the authorities. Additionally, it is neither possible nor permitted to complete transactions involving regulated goods on our platform. If your photos or videos are promoting the sale of regulated goods or services, including firearms, alcohol, tobacco, prescription drugs, or adult products, we expect you to make sure you’re following the law and to encourage others to do the same.

    drugs on instagram

    The gist of these guidelines is to share pictures responsibly. Instagram asks users not to share mature, graphic, or illegal content.

    While that primarily refers to nudity, I think we can all agree that a syringe loaded with drugs qualifies as graphic content. Not to mention, it’s illegal!

    Social Media for Recovery

    Okay, enough of the doom and gloom. If social media can be used to promote, or even glorify, active addiction, then it can be used to help recovery, right?

    That’s an interesting idea. It looks like some institutions are even taking it to heart. The Carilion Center at Virginia Tech University was recently awarded a grant to investigate how social media can be used to aid recovery.

    I recently wrote about getting sober on Facebook. What about Instagram? Well, it looks like there’s a thriving recovery community there as well.

    Search #recovery, #recoveryispossible, #soberlife, and many others. These hashtags are getting thousands and, in some cases, millions of posts. That’s a welcome change from addiction hashtags.

    Let’s hope that as the junkies of Instagram (again, their words not mine) reach bottom, they’ll reach out to sober Instagram users. Wouldn’t it be great to see someone’s feed change from pictures of syringes to pictures of them smiling?

    Want to get sober for good? Find out how!

    We are here to support you during your time of need and help you make the best decision for yourself or your loved one. Click below to speak to a member of our staff directly.

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