Tag: oxycontin

Searching for a Way Out of America’s Opioid Epidemic

Opioid Use is RampantAmericas Opioid Epidemic

Opioid abuse has become an all-American epidemic, unique to our country and widespread enough to be called a public health outbreak. Abuse covers all ages, races, classes, and genders, however, the most typical victim is a non-Hispanic Caucasian male in his mid-30s.

In emergency rooms, nurses are not surprised when new overdose patients are rolled in on stretchers. Overdose is becoming so widely common that many doctors no longer need to run lab tests to determine which drug caused it. Observations such as dilated pupils mean cocaine, amphetamines, and hallucinogens. Constricted pupils almost always point to an opiate.

Opiate abuse also causes the characteristic “nodding out”, scratching, cold and clammy skin. In the wrong amounts, overdose is always just a few breaths away – and when that breath begins to sound like a rattle – the person is officially in the midst of an overdose that all too frequently leads to death.

The thought of a loved one – anyone – dying like this is terrifying, and reality is that every 19 minutes, one person in this country dies of opioid overdose. Hydrocodone, OxyContin, and Percocet are three examples of this medication, the only one known to man that is routinely prescribed and kills patients so frequently.

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How Did The Opioid Epidemic Get So Bad?

The United States is embarrassingly leading the charge in opioid abuse. 75% of the world’s opioid prescription drugs are prescribed here, and it is the number one cause of preventable death. We can’t point our fingers in one direction to place blame, however, certain pharmaceutical companies and doctors certainly had a heavy hand in leading to these statistics.

The FDA was misled for years about the true nature of opioid dependence so that big pharmaceutical companies could sell more drugs and make more money. Doctors often turn a blind eye to the reality of these drugs, accepting lame scientific data and continue writing out prescriptions, ignoring the obvious red flags.

Some staggering facts include:

  • 259 million opioid prescriptions are written yearly – enough to give every American adult their own bottle of pills
  • 91% of people who survived an overdose are able to get a new prescription, often from the same doctor
  • 80% of heroin users started off using pain pills
  • As many as 4.2 million Americans have reported using heroin at least once
  • 94% of respondents in a 2014 survey of people in treatment said they chose to use heroin because prescription opioids were more expensive and difficult to obtain.
  • Heroin overdose deaths in women have tripled in the past few years.


Opioid AbusePutting an End to Prescription Abuse

The opioid industry has gotten so huge that it will take a long time to shift practices and make a positive change. As policy makers start to learn about the epidemic – and it can’t be ignored for much longer – they will begin to modify regulations. Small changes can already be seen, pills coming with safeguards to make them more difficult to abuse, the Centers for Disease Control recommending doctors not to prescribe opioids for chronic pain, monitoring of controlled substances, but much of the responsibility lies with each doctor.

Doctors need to discuss options and the realities of addiction with their patients and be more vigilant in what and how they are prescribing medications. Expectations must be set, and follow up is necessary. Knowing more about a patient’s history is key – for example, if a patient has a history of drug or alcohol abuse, they should never be prescribed addictive drugs. Opioids should always be considered an end-of-the-line resource instead of the first thing handed out.

Those of us in recovery are tired of hearing about friends and loved ones overdosing. We are sick of the same familiar and sad story. It isn’t too late to make a change, but in order for the severity of this to end, doctors need to step up and tighten up their prescription policies.


Discovering How to Artificially Produced Opioids Could Be a VERY Bad Thing

Artificially Produced Opioids

A seemingly insane story started to sweep around the internet a couple of months ago. Scientists had, it goes, been able to synthesize opioids from yeast cultures.

Think about that for one second – scientists in a lab had been able to artificially produce opioids. We’re not talking about scrapping opium poppies, taking the raw opium back to a lab, and producing painkillers.

No, we’re talking about a team in a lab, probably dressed in HAZMAT suits, cooking up completely synthetic opioids.

That’s a terrifying prospect when you really consider it.

We weren’t sure how to feel about it here at Lighthouse. After all, who knew if it was true and, more importantly, who knew the positive and negative impacts this discovery might have on our culture at large.

Then we read this excellent article. In it, author David DiSalvo explores some of those positive and negative impacts.

It’s interesting stuff. Read on for a breakdown of his ideas and our own spin on whether 100% artificial opioids are a blessing or a curse.

Benefits of Synthetically Produced Opioids

Before getting into any doomsday prophecies, it’s important to look at some of the very real benefits that synthetically produced opioids may offer. DiSalvo makes this very clear in his article and I couldn’t agree more.

Artificially made opioids can lead to a whole host of positive effects, including things like:

  • Increased production of painkillers both inside and outside of the US
  • Unique additions to any given chemical which can potentially produce less addictive drugs
  • Painkillers would most likely become cheaper to produce which would enable them to be distributed to those who need them most, rather than those with good insurance


DiSalvo touches on these in his article. I’d like to add one of my own.

If creating opioids of all shapes and sizes starts to take place solely in labs, there’s a good chance this’ll lead to a decrease in “opium farms.” This, in turn, could lead to a decrease in the illegal production of morphine, heroin, and other potent chemicals.

There are a few ifs in that scenario. Still, it makes logical sense that increasing production of opioids in labs will lead to decreased production in the Middle East.

Okay, those are the positives. Now let’s look at some of the potentially disastrous side effects of mass-producing artificial opioids in a lab.

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Drawbacks of Synthetically Produced Opioids

The first thing DiSalvo makes clear is the connection between synthetically creating narcotics and the other synthetic drug explosion in recent years.

He writes, “Right now more than 160,000 labs in China are pumping out synthetic drugs for buyers across the globe” (Forbes).

Call them bath salts, flakka, gravel, or any of their other ridiculous names. The point is the same – when creating drugs in a lab, there’s the potential that someone can, and most likely will, start creating those same drugs for a different purpose.

America is in the midst of an opioid epidemic. That much is old news. Do we really need another source of painkillers for our population to consume? Do we really need to outsource that production (as it were) to illicit labs in foreign countries?

negative effects of artifical painkillers

Of course those are worst-case scenarios. Still, they’re worth considering. After all, look what happened to Tramadol in Egypt.

There’s another angle that DiSalvo doesn’t touch on that bears examining. I’m talking about the simple idea of supply and demand.

There’s likely always going to be a demand for painkillers and other opioids. If the supply increases – as artificial production is refined, it’s going to cost less and less to produce these pills – and demand remains steady, then the price of black-market opioids is going to drop.

On one hand this is a good thing. After all, it takes money out of the pockets of drug dealers. On the other hand, though, this is horrible. Incredibly addictive and powerful chemicals could become available for pennies on the dollar.

That’s a scary thought!

So What?

That’s a good question reader! So what? Why does any of this matter? A small group of scientists were able to create thebaine and hydrocodone from yeast. That’s a far cry from any scenarios mentioned above, good or bad!

This stuff matters because it gives us the opportunity to be prepared! Remember when OxyContin first emerged in the late ‘90s? No one saw it coming and it started the painkiller epidemic – it fundamentally changed America.

We have the opportunity to avoid that if, and most likely when, synthetically produced opioids start to cause trouble.

What do you think? Let us know on social media!

Addicts are Still Abusing “Abuse-Proof” OxyContin

OxyContin is Still Being Abused

In 2009, at the height of the “OxyContin craze,” Perdue Pharma took a large step to combat prescription pill abuse. They came out with a reformulated, abuse-deterrent version of their blockbuster drug. Supporters of this new OxyContin were quick to label it “abuse-proof” and praise Perdue Pharma.

oxycontin and heroin

While Perdue certainly stepped up, six years of research on their abuse-deterrent drug has uncovered some interesting information. While “abuse-proof” OxyContin is difficult to crush, and turns into a gooey gel-like substance if mixed with water, it can still be abused.

According to researchers from the Washington University School of Medicine, OxyContin abuse is still rampant. Scientists and academics studied something called SKIP, or the Survey of Key Informants’ Patients. They examined more than 10,000 SKIPs from 150 rehabs across the country, for the years 2009 to 2014. They also conducted patient interviews.

The results? Well, OxyContin abuse is down. In 2009 around 45% of people seeking substance abuse treatment admitted to abusing OxyContin in the past month. In 2014 that number hovers in the 25% range.

These findings, published recently in JAMA Psychiatry, are still alarming. Around 25% of people going to rehab are abusing a so-called “abuse-proof” drug. What gives?

Think your child may be using pills? Learn how to be sure today

”Abuse-Proof” OxyContin Facts

So what exactly did researchers from the Washington University School of Medicine find? Well, according to study results pulled from the JAMA Network’s site:

  • In 2009, 45.1% of individuals entering treatment admitted to past month use of abuse-deterrent OxyContin
  • In 2012, 26% of individuals entering treatment admitted to past month use of abuse-deterrent OxyContin
  • This 26% remained steady throughout 2013 and 2014
  • Abuse-deterrent forms of OxyContin did change addicts’ using behavior. 43% of those interviewed by researchers from Washington University switched from smoking, snorting, or shooting the drug to taking it orally
  • 34% of those interviewed found ways to defeat the “abuse-proof” mechanism and continued to snort, smoke, or inject the drug
  • 23% of those interviewed were already oral OxyContin users. They continued as such

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Side Effects of “Abuse-Proof” Pills

So OxyContin abuse is down from 2009. That much is clear and cause for celebration. Less people are abusing and addicted to a powerful opioid painkiller. Surely that’s a good thing, right?

Well, think again. While it’s good that fewer people are abusing OxyContin, that doesn’t mean they’re sober. Dr. Theodore J. Cicero, lead author of this new study and Professor of Neuropharmacology in Psychiatry, thinks that something’s amiss.

In a statement, Dr. Cicero said,

“We found that the abuse-deterrent formulation was useful as a first line of defense…Oxycontin abuse in people seeking treatment declined, but that decline slowed after a while. And during that same time period, heroin use increased dramatically” (Psychiatry Advisor).

That’s the heart of the problem with abuse-deterrent pain pills. Unless some other intervention is put in place, users will simply switch to opioids they don’t need a prescription to obtain. I’m talking, of course, about heroin.

Cicero and his team found that 70% of individuals who stopped abusing OxyContin and continued getting high switched to heroin. Let that number sink in for a minute. 70% of former OxyContin users switched to heroin. That’s a grim number.

An older study reflects this same stark reality. According to this study around 75% of current heroin users were first introduced to heroin through painkillers. It’s clear that making pills harder to abuse isn’t offering any sort of long-term solution. It’s a sort of Band-Aid fix to a wound that requires much more.

An “abuse-proof” version of Vicodin was recently released…but does it really work to deter abuse?

Hope for Addicts

If making so called “abuse-proof” pills isn’t the answer, well, what is? Unfortunately for all involved, the answer isn’t easy and it isn’t quick.

abuse proof oxycontin

The solution to opioid addiction, be it to OxyContin, heroin, or another drug entirely, comes from one addict helping another. It comes from quality substance abuse treatment, followed up with living a life based on certain ideas. The ideas I’m talking about are spiritual in nature.

Addicts and alcoholics are, by nature, undisciplined. A quick fix solution, something like making pills harder to abuse, isn’t going to make them quit drugs for good. Rather, it will make them switch to something easier to obtain and abuse.

What will help addicts quit drugs once and for all is a form of spiritual discipline. Now don’t mistake me, I’m not talking about the type of discipline we’re used to from grade school. No, I’m talking about getting connected to a Higher Power through involvement in twelve-step fellowships. This promotes the type of long-term recovery that restores families.

Of course, before even thinking about long-term recovery, individuals struggling with addiction need to enter treatment. They need to be physically separated from drugs and gain insight into why they used in the first place.

The one-two punch of substance abuse treatment and twelve-step participation offers real and meaningful recovery from opioid dependence. It’s that simple.

Learn true facts and shocking statistics about OxyContin

A Controversial New “Abuse-Proof” Painkiller

The FDA Approved WHAT?

In a bold and possibly rash move, the FDA approved a new “abuse-proof” form of a powerful opioid.

hysingla opioid painkiller

On November 20th, the FDA gave the green light to Hysingla ER, an extended release version of the popular opioid hydrocodone. Hydrocodone is the chemical name of the blockbuster drug Vicodin.

Okay, so the government approved a hard to abuse painkiller. What’s wrong with that? If anything, we should be singing Hysingla’s praises. I’m not so sure. A closer look into Hysingla and its development reveals a troubling history.

Learn the staggering effect of Vicodin on society

Not All It’s Cracked Up to Be

Hysingla is the latest form of extended release hydrocodone. Following Vicodin’s huge spike in popularity (it’s currently the most prescribed and abused painkiller in the U.S.), it became clear something had to be done.

Vicodin exposes its legitimate and recreational users to a host of negative side effects. These include liver damage, due to acetaminophen, and addiction. So, drug companies began working on a pure form of hydrocodone that was also “abuse-proof.”

Fast-forward to 2013. The FDA, despite numerous doubts about its safety, approved Zohydro ER. Legislators, police officers, addiction professional, and even the FDA’s own advisory board claimed Zohydro presented a danger to users due to its high levels of hydrocodone (the highest strength contains fifty milligrams of the opioid).

Once Zohydro hit the market, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick declared a public health emergency. It was reactions like these that prompted the pharmaceutical company Perdue to develop Hysingla.

Not everyone is so sure this new drug is safe, though. Jane Woodcock, the director of the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, wrote the following

“Prescription opioids with abuse-deterrent properties will not completely fix the prescription opioid abuse problem, but they can be part of a comprehensive approach to combat the epidemic.”


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How is Hysingla “Abuse-Proof?”

No matter what side of the Hysingla debate you’re on, we can all celebrate a drug that’s difficult for addicts to abuse. Surely we can all agree on that, right?

Well, it turns out Hysingla isn’t actually that abuse-proof. In fact, Hysingla is difficult to crush. That’s it. It doesn’t turn to gel when mixed with water. It isn’t impossible to inject. It’s simply difficult to crush.

Hysingla may need some better abuse-deterrent methods. Otherwise it’s destined to join the ranks of the many other “abuse-proof” drugs which aren’t too hard to abuse.

Is there an end in sight for prescription pill overdoses?

”Abuse-Proof” Pills Aren’t Abuse-Proof

Since the mid-2000’s there’s been a push to develop abuse-proof alternatives to popular opioid drugs like OxyContin, Percocet, Roxicodone, and you guessed it, Vicodin.

abuse proof opioids

These pills were simply too popular with addicts. People were overdosing left and right. A painkiller epidemic was born.

So, Perdue and other pharmaceutical companies began to develop “abuse-proof” forms of many opioids. The only drawback, though, was that these abuse-deterrent pills were still abusable.

OxyContin formulas started to turn to gel when mixed with water. Enterprising addicts figured out a way to extract the drug from the gel. Roxicodone pills were supposedly “un-crushable.” Once again, enterprising addicts learned how to crush them.

Not to mention, as a specific pill became harder to abuse, addicts would simply switch to one that wasn’t so hard. This is why, by the mid and late 2000’s, we saw people switching from oxy to Dilaudid.

This presents a powerful lesion. As long as opioid drugs are available, people will figure out ways to abuse them. It doesn’t matter if they’re “abuse-proof” or not.

So, what’s the answer? Well, there isn’t an easy answer. Knowledge of the destructive effects of addiction helps. Shifting the focus of addiction from a moral failing to a medical condition helps. Increased access to substance abuse treatment helps.

Now put all those things together and we can hope to see a real solution to American’s painkiller epidemic.

He went from pills to heroin and homelessness. Read the recovery story of Jesse Schenker, world famous chef!

Oxycodone Addiction: The Truth Behind Facts and Statistics About the Deadliest Painkiller

Written By: Fiona Stockard

Oxycodone Addiction Facts and Statistics

oxycodone addiction facts

Oxycodone addiction is nothing new. The drug was first synthesized in 1916 and abused for its euphoric effects not long after. However, today we’re in the midst of an oxycodone abuse epidemic, the likes of which haven’t been seen before.

Can we trust the media’s portray of oxycodone? Are their oxycodone addiction facts true? Is it really the most dangerous drug? What about their oxycodone addiction statistics? Are adolescents everywhere really popping and sniffing oxy’s?

Learn accurate oxycodone addiction facts and statics with Lighthouse Recovery Institute.

The difference between pain pills and heroin may be less than you think

Oxycodone Addiction Facts

Find six oxycodone addiction facts below:

• Popular oxycodone products include: OxyContin (time release oxycodone), Percocet (oxycodone and acetaminophen), Roxicodone (pure oxycodone), Endocet (generic oxycodone and OTC analgesic mixtures), and Percodan (oxycodone and Aspirin).

• All oxycodone products are classified as Schedule II narcotics by the DEA. This means they have a high potential for abuse.

• In 2012, upwards of seven million oxycodone prescriptions were written.

• The Department of Justice reported that over ten million people have abused oxycodone at least once in their lives.

• Although oxycodone abuse is nothing new, it was the release of OxyContin in 1996 which sparked the current oxycodone epidemic.

• Starting in 2010, “abuse-proof” versions of popular oxycodone pills became available.

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Oxycodone Addiction Statistics

Find six oxycodone addiction statistics below:

• In 2004, over three million people abused oxycodone for the first time.

• According to the New York Times, oxycodone prescriptions in New York State rose 82% between 2007 and 2010.

• In 2007, the U.S. consumed over 80% of the world’s oxycodone.

• In 2006, oxycodone pills sent over 64,000 people to the ER.

• By 2010, this number rose to over 182,000 people.

• Also in 2010, 2% of eighth graders, 4.6% of high school sophomores, and 5.1% of high school seniors admitted to engaging in oxycodone abuse.

Why are some people saying there’s new hope in America’s opioid overdose epidemic?

What Do These Oxycodone Addiction Facts and Statistics Mean For You?

These statistics and facts about oxycodone addiction are troubling! They show we’re in the midst of an explosive oxycodone epidemic. They show that oxycodone is an incredibly dangerous drug.

The above facts about oxycodone addiction show that something needs to be done. There are strict government regulations over the prescribing and dispensing of oxycodone, yet the drug is still illegally available. There are abuse-proof forms of oxycodone pills, yet people are still abusing them. What can we do?

The answer lies not in strict regulations or safer pills, though those are certainly necessary. The answer lies in you and me, in our friends and loved ones, in talking about the problem honestly.

See, once we address the negative impact oxycodone is having across America, we can begin to come up with a solution. Will this happen tomorrow? Probably not. However, what these facts about oxycodone addiction make incredibly clear is that we need to start the process. After all, if nothing changes, then nothing is going to change!

Painkiller Addiction: Real Facts and Statistics Behind the Prescription Drug Epidemic

Written By: Fiona Stockard

Painkiller Addiction Facts and Statistics

painkiller addiction facts

Painkiller addiction is nothing new. Ancient cultures all over the world used opium, both to treat pain and to catch a buzz. During the Civil War, morphine addiction was called the soldier’s disease, due to its prevalence among fighting troops. During the early 20th century, heroin was sold legally in Sear’s catalog!

However, the recent rise of prescription painkiller abuse and addiction are unprecedented. Never has there been a time when people were using opioid drugs with such frequency or in such numbers. Because of this massive intake of painkillers, there’s a lot of false information out there. People think they know painkiller addiction facts simply because they’ve taken painkillers. People think because they’ve taken Vicodin, they’re medical experts.

So, what’s the truth about painkiller addiction facts? Which painkiller addiction statistics are real? Which are skewed?

Learn accurate facts about painkiller addiction with Lighthouse Recovery Institute!

What’s the truth about a controversial new “abuse-proof” painkiller?

Painkiller Addiction Facts

Find six painkiller addiction facts below:

• The most common prescription painkillers are hydrocodone products (Vicodin, Norco, Lortab, etc.) and oxycodone products (OxyContin, Roxicodone, Percocet, etc.). Morphine products, although the first type of painkiller, have fallen out of popularity.

• In fact, hydrocodone products are the most prescribed drugs in the United States. They’re also the most diverted and abused prescription drug, painkiller or otherwise, in the country.

• The U.S. consumes 99% of the world’s hydrocodone and over 80% of the world’s oxycodone.

• Even when used as prescribed, painkillers are addicting. Physical dependence can develop in as little as two weeks of taking the prescribed amount.

• Prescription painkillers account for three out of four prescription drug overdose. In fact, as of 2009, prescription drugs caused more deaths than automobile accidents.

• Painkillers kill more people than cocaine and heroin combined.

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Painkiller Addiction Statistics

Find seven painkiller addiction statistics below:

• 10% of high school seniors admits to engaging in painkiller abuse.

• In 2009, painkillers sent over 475,000 people to the ER.

• In 2010, over twelve million people admitted to nonmedical use of prescription painkillers.

• In 2012, just over two million people met the criteria for painkiller addiction.

• In 2012, almost two million people abused painkillers for the first time. Of these, over 370,000 abused OxyContin.

• In 2012, 2.2% of adolescents (ages twelve to seventeen) engaged in nonmedical painkiller use.

• In 2012, approximately 973,000 people were admitted to treatment centers for painkiller abuse.

Do methadone and Suboxone really work?

What Do These Painkiller Addiction Facts and Statistics Mean For You?

These statistics and facts about painkiller addiction mean only one thing – we’ve got a major problem on our hands! The U.S. is prescribing, consuming, abusing, and becoming addicted to painkillers like never before.

Why is this? That’s a complicated question with no easy answer. However, there is good news! With more people taking painkillers, comes more people seeking treatment. In 2002, 360,000 people were admitted to treatment centers for painkiller abuse. That number rose to 973,000 people in 2012.

There’s help out there. If you think you may have a problem with painkillers, reach out! It’s important to remember that you’re not alone!

Is there new hope to end the painkiller overdose epidemic?

Are you or a loved one suffering from a painkiller addiction? At Lighthouse Recovery Institute, we’ve been there.

In fact, many of our staff are in long-term recovery. We know what it’s like to be unable to stop binge drinking or compulsively using drugs. Let us show you another way, a sober way.

Call Lighthouse today at 1-844-I-CAN-CHANGE or 1-(561)-381-0015. You’ll be connected to a caring and expert outreach and admission coordinator who can help start the process of recovery.

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