Tag: prescription drugs

Brittany Ringersen on NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt.

Brittany Ringersen speaks out on NBC’s Nightly News

Kate Snow, a national correspondent for NBC’s Nightly News, speaks with Lighthouse Recovery Institutes founder Brittany Ringersen about the dangers of addiction following a routine dentist visit. Brittany draws on her own experience and explains how a routine visit to the dentist office was the beginning of a dark long path of addiction. Their discussion reveals the pitfalls that come with pain medication and the strong warnings that need to come before taking them.

Click here to read the full article on NBC

Is Making Narcan Over The Counter A Good Decision?

Selling Narcan Over the Counter Narcan OVer the Counter

Naloxone (Narcan) has recently been released in limited proportions for sale over the counter in select pharmacies and states. Selling Narcan over the counter is a bold move in what many are looking at as part of the war against drugs, specifically the war against the opioid epidemic sweeping across our country. Others see it as a cop-out for junkies – a get out of jail free card in the case of an overdose. As with anything, the lines are blurry, and the bottom line is that if lives can be saved and fatal overdoses can be prevented, it is probably a good thing.

What is Narcan?

Narcan (naloxone) is an opiate antidote. Opiates include drugs like heroin, morphine, codeine, oxycodone, methadone, and Vicodin. Taking too much or a combination of any of these drugs can cause an overdose, symptoms of which include the slowing or stopping of breathing, leading to loss of consciousness and even death. Once a person who is ODing is in this state, it is incredibly difficult to wake them up.

Narcan blocks the effects of opioids and reverses an overdose in a patient that has taken too much of a drug. The opiates are essentially knocked out of receptors in the brain, even if the opiate was taken in addition to alcohol or another drug that can further suppress the immune system. After Narcan is administered, the overdosing person should begin to breathe more regularly, and they will be easier to wake. There are no known negative effects of Narcan, and nothing will happen to a person who is not ODing and accidentally takes the drug.

Narcan Over The Counter Is Controversial

Narcan over the counter LighthouseThere are many people who maintain that the only reason a person would get Narcan over the counter would be if they expected that they or someone they are close with will overdose. In their eyes, it’s a way of prepping for a big Friday night party, and as mentioned earlier in the article, a get out of jail free card.

In the eyes of supporters, Narcan is preventative. For the mothers and fathers who have an addict child, to the wives of an addict husband, and to the child of an addict mother – it is something to have around in the case of an overdose that can prevent death. It isn’t just for addicts – accidental overdose could happen to anyone who has prescription opiates on hand, so in a sense shouldn’t it be sold with every opiate prescription given out?

America’s Opiate Epidemic

It’s no secret that opiates are taking a huge toll on Americans. The U.S. is in the throes of an opiate epidemic and it is a long, sad, and messy road to get out of it. In 2014, 47,055 people died of a drug overdose, making it the number one leading cause of accidental death. It is a problem that is nationwide and is destroying lives regardless of age, race, class, and location. If Narcan can help reduce these numbers and save some lives, why wouldn’t we make it as available as possible?

Study Drugs and Drug Abuse in College

study drugs lighthouse recoveryStudy Drugs are Common

Experimenting, drinking, and drug abuse in college are well-known pitfalls of the four years that are meant to be spent bettering your education. Kegs, parties, marijuana – these things are normal, and often can lead to other things that spiral out of hand. The use of study drugs like Adderall and Ritalin is becoming common at school, because of the increase in energy and not needing to sleep, which students think will help them cram for exams.

Drug Abuse and Misuse

The Center on Young Adult Health and Development describes abuse and misuse of prescription drugs as any use whatsoever by someone who does not have a prescription, or if it is used by someone who has it prescribed that is not consistent with the prescribing physician’s directions.

Unfortunately, in college, lots of students with prescriptions to these drugs give them out to students who don’t. Sometimes they charge a few dollars for a pill, and sometimes they just hope it will help them get popular. Sometimes students feel pressure to sell or share their script. Either way, these pills are getting into the wrong hands and can quickly lead to abuse.

College is The Perfect Stress StormStudy Drugs college lighthouse recovery

College is a stressful time for young adults. There are so many factors – the cost of education, passing final exams, social and peer pressure, being away from home – that come together and can be overwhelming for a person. According to some doctors, anxiety has beat depression as the number one issue college students face in the nation. This anxiety about final exams can lead students to reach for any support, even if it comes in the form of a pill.

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Negative Consequences of Study Drugs

The misuse of any prescription drug is bad and could lead to very serious health consequences. It can lead to addiction, and if the prescriptions are being used while taking alcohol or other drugs, the consequences could be deadly.

Students don’t realize how potent these pills are and how they work. They don’t realize that taking them in a way that they aren’t prescribed or taking them with other things can have a slew of horrendous consequences, leading up to death.

Universities have begun trying to spread awareness about prescription drug use and abuse. Educating college kids about healthier behaviors that can help reduce stress and increase functionality.


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

Every 19 Minutes Pain Pills Kill Someone

Painkiller Overdose is an Epidemic

As far back as 2012, the Center for Disease Control released an incredibly alarming statistic. There are an average of 27,000 unintentional overdose deaths each year in America. That breaks down to someone accidentally dying every nineteen minutes.

Maybe you’ve heard this figure before. It’s been floating around the medical world for a few years now. Take a minute, though, and really think about it. Every nineteen minutes someone dies due to prescription painkillers.

opioid addiction

That’s saddening to say the least. It also raises a number of questions about what’s being done to address the rampant overmedication, both legitimate and non, of America.

I have some thoughts on that matter. Before we get to a solution, though, we have to fully understand the problem. Let’s examine some of the facts and statistics the CDC has gather regarding painkiller abuse in the United States.

Learn about the many benefits of Narcan!

Staggering Death Statistics

What exactly has the Center for Disease Control found out about America’s opioid consumption?

  • Prescription painkillers account for more deaths than heroin and cocaine combined. This has been the case since 2003.

  • For every person who dies as a result of opioid overdose, nine people are admitted to addiction treatment centers, thirty-five people are admitted to emergency rooms, and 461 people report non-medically using prescription opioids.

  • Changing the above information into numbers – for every person who overdoses on pain pills, 243,000 end up in rehab, 945,000 end up in the ER, and 12,447,000 misuse prescription painkillers.

  • Death rates are highest among men who’re twenty to sixty-four years old, Caucasian, economically disadvantaged, and live in rural areas.

  • The two groups with the highest risk for overdose are the five million Americans who use opioids non-medically and the nine million Americans who are on long-term, doctor recommended opioid protocols.

  • Approximately 80% of patients prescribed painkillers are prescribed low doses (under 100mg of a morphine equivalent dose per day). These patients make up around 20% of all prescription drug overdoses.

  • Approximately 10% of patients prescribed painkillers are prescribed high doses (over 100mg of a morphine equivalent dose per day). These patients make up around 40% of painkiller overdoses.

  • The remaining 10% of patients prescribed painkillers are prescribed large daily doses, engage in doctor shopping, and make up, approximately, another 40% of overdose victims.

  • 76% of those who use prescription opioids non-medically obtained pills from someone other than a doctor. A mere 20% were prescribed pills.

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Hope for Painkiller Overdose

The above facts and statistics don’t paint a rosy picture. Rather, they show a country with a large appetite for the incredibly addictive prescription drugs known as opioids. So, what’s being done, or what should be done, to combat this overwhelming epidemic?

As of February 2016, President Obama has earmarked over $100 million new federal dollars to the Department of Health and Human Services. This money is being split between three main programs: prescription drug monitoring programs, improving state and federal treatment options, and an initiative to make the “anti-overdose” drug Narcan more available to first responders.

Additionally, the Obama administration has set aside $27.6 billion dollars to support the prevention and treatment of substance use disorders.

So, there’s money being allocated on a federal level to reduce prescription painkiller overdose rates. What about on a local level, though? It’s here that community organizations and grassroots groups have the largest impact.

painkiller overdose

Take Delray Beach, FL, for example. It’s a town that’s commonly called “the recovery capital of America” and has been on the front lines of the prescription pill epidemic from its start.

There are many rehabs, both private and state funded, in Delray Beach. There are an equally large number of community groups dedicated to providing support to recovering addicts. While Delray’s treatment centers do an amazing job of helping those struggling with substance abuse, it’s the community organizations that really shine.

Take, for example, the numerous twelve-step fellowship and meetings in Delray. These are a completely free service for anyone with drug or alcohol issues. Not only do they offer a safe haven for addicts during meetings, but individual members are quick to reach out and help.

In addition to substance abuse treatment and community involvement, doctors should drastically cut their opioid prescription rates. Think about it – if prescription pain pills are prescribed less frequently, they’ll be less available for individuals to abuse.

This is only going to happen once doctors begin to examine alternative strategies for treating chronic pain. It’s not like there’s a shortage of promising non-pharmaceutical routes. Things like physical therapy, acupuncture, talk therapy, and yoga have all been shown to reduce pain in patients.

A combination of increased federal funding, ever increasing community involvement, and decreased opioid prescription offers a real glimmer of hope in an otherwise dark situation. And hope, my friends, is exactly what the doctor ordered.

Read the inspiring story of Jesse Schenker, world famous chef and recovering addict!

My Doctor Made Me a Drug Addict

By: Tim Myers

An Overmedicated Kid to an Addicted Adult

I couldn’t sit still. I daydreamed a lot. I had a hard time focusing in class. I liked to fidget with things, doodle, draw, and talk…a lot. So, my doctor prescribed me drugs. I was twelve years old.

photo via Wikimedia Commons

Tell me the name of one twelve year old who doesn’t exhibit those same symptoms. Its called being twelve! It’s not called Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. You drugged a twelve year old, doctor, and you made him a drug addict.

I never had a chance! Back in the 1990’s everyone had a disorder and every drug company was making a dangerous new drug to treat these fake disorders. Mine was ADHD.

Looking for a solution to my “issues,” my parents took me to see a psychologist. He spoke to me for the insurance accepted one-hour period of time. When our session was up, he said, “You have ADHD, you need Ritalin. Go to your doctor and tell him I said that.“

So, I went to my doctor and told him, “That guy said I need Ritalin.” Like a good doctor, he wrote me a prescription.

I had it filled and…boom! I could run faster! I could talk faster! I could draw faster! I could do everything faster! I WAS ON DRUGS.

I felt stronger and had the power to do anything except sit still and concentrate on school. Man, it felt good. I would wake up, take my drugs, skip to school, bounce off the walls all day, grind my teeth, eat absolutely nothing, come home, and crash.

This crash was the only thing that sucked. Every sound and noise bothered me. I snapped and yelled at everything in sight. I would go to bed pissed off at the world, stare at the ceiling ‘til three am, finally pass out, then wake up and start again.

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The Birth of a Drug Addict

Life went on like this for another two years. When my grades didn’t increase, the amount of Ritalin I was prescribed did. Up and up and up the milligrams went. “If the drugs don’t work,” the guy with all those fancy degrees said, “keep taking more drugs.”

Then one night when I was fourteen my life changed forever. I saw an episode of 20/20 that said kids were taking Ritalin and it was being called “kiddie cocaine.”

“Hmm,” I thought to myself, “that sounds cool. Cocaine sounds cool. I’m being prescribed Ritalin, so it won’t be bad if I snort it. It’ll just be cool.”

Ritalin abuse
photo via Wikimedia Commons

I snorted Ritalin everyday for the next ten years. I couldn’t get enough. It worked faster and better and I needed more. I was snorting eighty milligrams every morning, pounding a large coffee, and going to school. At lunch, I’d snort another eighty mg, and at dinner another eighty.

I was out of my mind high and could never sleep. I then turned to the alcohol I found in my Dad’s den to get a few hours of shuteye. Take Ritalin, get drunk, wake up, do it again. This pattern repeated itself over and over and before I knew it I was a full-blown drug addict and alcoholic.

Speaking of doctors, did science just cure alcoholism?

A Sober Life

I’m sober four years today.

Over the years, I’ve learned many tricks and tips to stay focused, none of which require medication. While alcoholism and drug abuse do run in my family, I don’t think I’d have gone through fifteen years of hell, nine rehabs, and a near fatal car accident if some doctor hadn’t prescribed me Ritalin when I was twelve.

A doctor made me a drug addict. Period.

Learn how to tell if your child is using pills

Narcan Doesn’t Solve the Heroin Epidemic

Narcan Isn’t a Silver Bullet

Narcan, also know by its chemical name naloxone, is literally a lifesaver. It reverses the effects of opioids on people who overdose. The drug has gained popularity over the last few years and is being hailed by some as “the solution to heroin addiction.”

image via Wikimedia Commons

Sadly, this isn’t the case. While Narcan is extremely helpful in reversing overdoses, it isn’t a magic bullet. It saves lives, but it doesn’t heal them. To bring someone back from the hell of active addiction, fearless soul searching (aka treatment!) is needed.

That’s the gist of this article I recently stumbled upon. It’s a great primer on the benefits and drawbacks of Narcan.

So, what can this lifesaving chemical do and what can’t it do? More to the point, how can we help those suffering from addiction find long-term recovery? How can we offer them real hope?

Who are the “junkies of Instagram?”

A REAL Solution

Naloxone is often the first step down the lifelong road of recovery. It’s just that, though, a first step. More is needed. Kathleen, a woman quoted in the above article, echoes this sentiment. She says,

“There are little windows of opportunity with an addict, little windows where I wake up and say, ‘I can’t f—king do this anymore. Either I got to die or please help me. That window will last for four hours. Then somebody will call and be like, ‘I got some s—t.'”

While Narcan can save a suffering addict’s life, while it can give them that window of opportunity, it doesn’t get them into treatment or a twelve-step fellowship. That comes from old-fashioned willingness.

It’s worth noting that, in America at least, there aren’t a ton of treatment options given to addicts who overdose. They’re generally brought back to consciousness in the ER, monitored for a few hours, and then sent on their way. They’re given contact numbers for local treatment centers and twelve-step supports, but that’s it.

What I’m proposing is that treatment centers partner with hospitals to provide the care these addicts so desperately need. Imagine if someone overdoses and is brought into a local Emergency Room. They’re stabilized and willing to seek help. How amazing would it be if there was an addiction specialist available to talk right away?

That would begin to change the cycle of overdose, relapse, overdose, relapse that so many addicts go through. To put it another way – that would facilitate recovery like nothing currently in place.

It’s important to note that I’m not dismissing Narcan. In fact, it has some amazing benefits. There’s a reason it’s now the first line of defense in our country’s war against heroin. Let’s examine what exactly those are.

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What Narcan Does

Naloxone is a pure opioid antagonist. That means it clears the body of all opioid molecules and reverses their effects in mere minutes. While naloxone has been around since the 1960’s, it’s only become popular in the last ten years.

drug overdose

Narcan can be administered orally, intravenously (IV), intramuscularly (IM), via an intranasal spray, and rectally. Its onset depends on the method of administration, but it generally takes effect within minutes.

An opioid overdose consists of things like extreme central nervous system and respiratory depression, decreased heartbeat, and dangerously low blood pressure. Naloxone reverses these symptoms as soon as it takes effect.

It then sends the users into opioid withdrawal, which isn’t pleasant. However, addicts are usually more likely to accept help while they’re detoxing (think that window of opportunity mentioned above).

Naloxone is now available without a prescription in many states. In fact, there are over 200 licensed naloxone distribution programs in the United States.

Learn what heroin withdrawal is really like

Narcan & Rehab = Changed Lives

Okay, Narcan has some major benefits. That much is plain to see. So, how do we take the next step? How do we move from using Narcan to save lives to implementing drug treatment options after an overdose?

As I mentioned above, the answer comes in the form of hospitals, police officers, EMT’s, and other first responders partnering with treatment centers. It’s one thing to save someone’s life. It’s another to give them their life back. Let’s start doing both!

Is Tramadol the next heroin?

Benzo Addiction: Facts and Statistics About Benzo Abuse

Written By: Fiona Stockard

Benzo Addiction Facts and Statistics

Facts about benzo addiction are often untrue, or at the very least, heavily skewed. The prescription and sale of benzodiazepines worldwide is estimated to make upwards of twenty billion dollars annually. Simply put, the medical establishment has a vested interest in hiding the truth about benzo addiction facts and benzo addiction statistics.

benzo addiction facts

Discover the truth about benzo addiction!

Learn why Xanax is called “freeze-dried alcohol”

Benzo Addiction Facts

Find six benzo addiction facts below:

• The sale of tranquilizers (including both benzo and non-benzo drugs) trailed off in the 80’s and 90’s, as a result of the popularity of SSRI’s (drugs like Paxil and Zoloft). However, benzo sales returned full force in the early 2000’s. This was due, in large part, to the marketing of benzo’s as wonder drugs, useful for treating more than anxiety and panic disorders.

• In the US, benzo sales are estimated at upwards of one billion dollars annually.

• Shrinking and swelling of the brain have been reported in short and long-term benzo patients. Quick onset benzo’s, such as Ativan and Xanax, produce damage faster. However, longer duration benzo’s, like Valium and Klonopin, also produce significant damage.

• Benzo addiction creates potentially deadly withdrawal symptoms, sometimes in as little as two to three weeks. Common benzo withdrawal symptoms include: severe depression, suicidal ideation, and seizure.

• Once physical dependence on benzo’s occurs, it can take anywhere from six to eighteen months to achieve full body and mind recovery. This includes recovery from withdrawal symptoms, from mental health issues surrounding benzo addiction, and from acute benzo brain damage.

• The adverse effects of benzo addiction, including those mentioned above, have been known for well over two decades. Still, there’s been remarkably little done to address their over prescription.

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Benzo Addiction Statistics

Find seven benzo addiction statistics below:

• In 2002, US doctors prescribed 69 million benzo’s. In 2007, they prescribed 83 million. That’s a jump of almost 20 million prescriptions in only five years!

• According to a study performed by SAMHSA, benzo’s account for 35% of all drug-related ER visits. This makes benzo’s the most frequently abused class of prescription drugs in the US.

• In 2002, the Drug Abuse Warning Network reported there were over 100,000 ER visits because of benzo’s.

• In fact, between 2004 and 2006, the number of ER visits due to benzo’s increased by 36%.

• By 2006, the number of annually reported ER visits due to benzo abuse was over 195,000.

• It’s estimated that 60% of those prescribed benzo’s become physically dependent on them.

• TEDS (the Treatment Episode Data Set) reported that 12.9% of individuals admitted to US treatment center listed benzo’s as their drug-of-choice.

What are the real facts about prescription drug abuse?

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

The above statistics and facts about benzo addiction show a few major trends.

First and foremost, they show the true scope of benzo addiction. This isn’t a problem isolated to those traditionally thought of as addicts. No, the rampant over prescription of benzo’s is everyone’s problem.

Second, these facts about benzo addiction show the serious side effects associated with benzo use. Note I said use, not abuse. Short-term, as prescribed, benzo use can produce deadly withdrawal symptoms.

These facts and statistics show that, finally, benzo addiction may be getting the recognition it deserves. Knowledge is power. The more people know about benzo addition, the more powerful they are to fight it!

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