Cigarettes Affect Addiction Recovery

cigarrette

In the world of addiction recovery, cigarettes are in many cases the last bastion of one’s disease. When people seek help for drugs and alcohol and successfully complete a substance use disorder treatment program—cigarettes often hold strong. While most treatment centers encourage clients to quit smoking while under their care and some don’t allow tobacco use of any kind, cigarettes are typically where clients put their foot down. Maybe using a vape, like the kind found at MagicVaporizers, would prove to be a valuable help.

Already anxious and depressed about saying bon voyage to drugs and alcohol, the thought of quitting smoking, too, is often more than one is willing to consider in early recovery. One says to themselves that tobacco did not make my life unmanageable, my wife didn’t leave me because of my addiction to Camels; so why do I need to give them up, and why should I do it at the same time I’m attempting to kick opioids or withdraw from alcohol?

The best counter to such musings is: for the sake of your health and your recovery. But, let’s start with the effect tobacco has on one’s health.

Cigarettes, In the End, Will Kill You

There is hardly a single adult in the United States who would find it surprising to learn that tobacco is deadly. Smokers are reminded of that fact on the side of every pack of cigarettes they purchase. Even though everyone is made aware of the risks, people still continue to smoke. No wonder why companies like Money Expert exist. Even “big tobacco” has admitted that they knew there was a correlation between premature death and their products, and chose to mislead the general public for profit. That being said, most smokers if asked the risks would likely respond by saying, “lung cancer.”

While it is true that years of smoking often results in the development of lung cancer, the reality is that the lists of cancers now associated with tobacco use is ever growing. There are about 36.5 million smokers in the United States, and just under half (16 million) of those individuals are living with some form of smoking related illness, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Cigarettes are currently the number one cause of preventable disease and death in America, and according to the National Cancer Institute smoking causes coronary heart disease, as well as cancer of the:

  • Esophagus
  • Larynx
  • Mouth
  • Throat
  • Kidney
  • Bladder
  • Liver
  • Pancreas
  • Stomach
  • Cervix
  • Colon
  • Rectum

What Are The Risks to My Recovery?

After seeing the lengthy list above, there is a chance that people in recovery will continue smoking regardless. The reasons for which are going to be subjective, but one of the major reasons is the fact that many addicts and alcoholics think that just because something is likely to happen—doesn’t mean that it will. When you have recovering heroin addicts who have survived an overdose, and alcoholics who have survived nearly fatal car wrecks, then it can give individuals a sense of invincibility, and thus they forget that they are eligible, too.

However, why someone does not heed the warnings about tobacco is not the focus of this article. We would like to discuss research which has shown that recovering addicts and alcoholics who continue to smoke whilst working a program of recovery are at a greater risk of relapse than their peers who have quit or didn’t smoke in the first place. If you are in recovery and still smoke, we implore you consider the study conducted at Boston University: School of Public Health which found that continuing or initiating cigarette use in recovery is associated with an increased likelihood of substance use relapse. The findings were published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry.

People working a program of recovery often say that their program is the most important thing in their life. Saying things like, “to drink is to die” or “I’m sure I have another drink or drug in me, but I’m not sure I have another recovery.” A testament to the deadly nature of addiction, and thinking that your next relapse could be your last is reinforced by the fact that the likelihood of a deadly overdose in today’s world is high. So, if your recovery is, in fact, paramount to your continued existence. Rethinking your relationship with cigarettes is not just healthy, your future depends upon it.

You are probably aware, there are a number of smoking cessation aids; patches, gums and lozenges to name a few. There are some medications that have been proven to be effective for some smokers, such as Chantix and Wellbutrin. Using any one of those aids in conjunction with step-work and talking with your peers in the program, could allow you to break free from the chains of tobacco use. And possibly prevent a relapse.

Your Addiction Recovery On Memorial Day

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This is Memorial Day weekend, a time to remember all the brave American men and women who gave their lives for our great nation. And like most American holidays, it also a time when friends and family gather to celebrate during the three-day weekend. If you are working a program of recovery and plan on attending such gatherings, it is important that you talk about it with your sponsor beforehand and have plan in place if things get shaky.

You do not have to be in early recovery to experience cravings when you are around alcohol. Individuals with significant lengths of time, people who thought their program was strong, have convinced themselves that having just one or two beers at a barbeque was OK. And while such a slip may not lead to a full blown relapse that goes on for an extended period of time, such is often the case. Relapsing is easy, plugging oneself back into the program, having to identify as a newcomer once again is no small feat. But your life depends upon it.

With that in mind, let’s discuss a few things you can do to protect your recovery over the weekend.

Holidays Can Be Hard In Recovery

Whether it is Christmas, New Year’s Eve or Memorial Day—navigating any major holiday can be a real challenge and test in recovery. Even though we all want to believe that our program is secure enough to go anywhere and not pick up a drink or drug, such a belief can be a slippery slope. There is a reason why we talk about the various obstacles in our life on weekly basis with our peers in recovery. In many ways, it serves as a barometer, showing you if you are doing enough for your program. If you are not, your sponsors or others in your homegroup will enlighten you about what else you could be doing. They may ask you if you are volunteering? Are you extending your hand to newcomers? Are you spending enough time around people who have common goals? If not, some changes are likely in order.

If you answered “no” to any of those questions, it is a safe bet that you may not want to be in place or events typified by alcohol use. If you have committed yourself to attending a Memorial Day barbeque, you would be wise to ask another person in the program to go along with you. What’s more, your addiction does not take holidays. Make sure you get to at least one meeting, either before or after attending an event that involves alcohol. There is never any harm in going to two meetings in one day.

Have your phone charged and always by your side. Finding yourself on uncertain ground without a lifeline is precarious to say the least.

Relapse Back to Recovery

Sadly, there will be people in the program who do not take certain steps to protect their recovery this weekend. If that ends up being your story, please do not make the problem worse due to guilt or shame. That is the beauty of the program, your peers will welcome you back with open arms. Your seat at the table will always be there.

On another note, you may need to consider checking back into to treatment. Some relapses go on for a long time. If that is the case, please contact 10 Acre Ranch to for help.

Methamphetamine Related Overdose Deaths

Methamphetamine also known as crystal meth

Opioid overdose deaths are common. The family of drugs associated with the ever-rising death rates, causes severe respiratory depression. Simply put, a dose that is a little bit too much can cause individuals to stop breathing. Without intervention by way of the opioid overdose reversal drug naloxone, there is a high likelihood of death.

The health care system in America has been put, arguably, to its greatest test in modern times. Hospitals emergency departments have been increasingly bogged down in the last two decades due to opioid use disorder and all that can come with it. Anything from potentially deadly infections, blood-transmitted disease and overdoses. One could say that all other health problems related to other types of drugs had become an afterthought. After all, you don’t hear much in the news these days about stimulants.

However, make no mistake about it, cocaine and methamphetamine while not typically associated with overdose, have not gone anywhere. Kilogram after kilogram of stimulant narcotics makes its way into the United States via the southern border. Trafficked by Mexican drug cartels whose ability to operate with relative impunity is very real. In Mexico can be found huge super laboratories manufacturing methamphetamine on a scale never seen before. The days of Americans buying all the Sudafed available in local pharmacies to make the drug in clandestine labs are seemingly behind us, due to government crackdowns. But in Mexico, the meth manufacturing business is booming.

Methamphetamine Is Still a Threat

A number of states have seen a resurgence in meth use, and federal officials fear that the problem is only going to get worse, KTOO Public Media reports. More and more people are using the drug, and many of them are dying from it. Not just the slow death of addiction, people are overdosing on the stimulant in Arizona, New Mexico and Oklahoma to Montana, Wisconsin and Minnesota and beyond.

“The beginning of the opioid epidemic was 2000 and we thought it was just localized,” said Kimberly Johnson, director of the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). “Now we know that drug outbreaks aren’t likely to stay localized so we can start addressing them sooner and letting other states know of the potential for it spreading.”

Meth Overdose

When most people think of the ugly side effects of meth use, they typically envision weathered looking individuals with bad skin and rotting teeth. This the result of the caustic chemical used to make the drug in inexpensive ways. Beneath the surface, methamphetamine addicts suffer from heart and kidney failure, according to the article. To be sure, the chance of an overdose from opioids is much greater than meth. Yet, people do, in fact, fatally overdose on methamphetamine.

Here are some numbers to consider. Around 3,700 Americans died of a meth-related overdose in 2014, more than double the number of deaths in 2010, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). If 3,700 deaths were not alarming enough, nearly 4,900 meth users died of an overdose in 2015, an increase of 30 percent.

Treating Stimulant Addiction

Are you struggling with meth addiction, please contact 10 Acre Ranch. We have helped a significant number of people break the cycle of meth addiction and go on to live a rewarding life in recovery.

Dark Web Drug Sales On The Rise

a man at a computer disguised as an anonymous wearing a mask working on dark web drug sales

Earlier this week, we discussed the important topic of synthetic drug use, a trend that is both dangerous and indicative of the ever-changing landscape of drug addiction in America. The people making these dangerous drugs are usually one step ahead of government organizations responsible for mitigating the impact of drug use across the country, such as the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA).

Part of the problem, or the difficulty, in policing synthetic drugs is that the chemicals that are sprayed on benign plant matter to make synthetic cannabis and salts to make “bath salts” are synthesized in China. An enormous country that lacks the kind of oversight that we find in our own country, at least when it comes to laboratories. While China has made efforts to curb the problem and commitments to the United States to do a better job at policing the manufacturing and distribution of such chemicals, the deadly chemicals are still being made and escaping the country’s borders.

In many cases, acquiring the chemical needed is as easy as opening a laptop and venturing into what is known as the “dark web.” Perhaps you have heard of the former online marketplace known as the Silk Road. If not, it was a website that operated in the darkest regions of the internet, a place where one can by heroin, passports and various chemicals to make drugs like synthetic marijuana.

The Dark Web

Once inside the Internet’s shadowy underworld, the possibilities are endless. What’s worse, people journeying into the dark web can do so anonymously, paying for goods and services with a virtually untraceable currency known as Bitcoins. The Federal Bureau of Investigation has been working tirelessly to shut down black markets residing in the dark web.

In 2015 Ross Ulbricht, the founder of the Silk Road was sentenced to life without parole after being arrested by the FBI. But as was mentioned earlier, the ever-changing landscape of drug use in America, such as buying drugs online, allows for others to do the same. Just as when a cartel head is arrested, another moves into a position of power. The Hydra Effect. Cut off one head, only to face another.

The sentence Ulbricht received was arguably harsh. While he got rich off illegal drug sales, et al., he wasn’t in fact the one selling the drugs. He just received a percentage of all sales. The stiff sentence was intended to deter others from creating similar dark marketplaces.

However, a new study published in the British Journal of Criminology, shows that in the two years since the Silk Road saw its end, Boston College sociologist Isak Ladegaard found that sales on the dark web actually increased, Wired reports. And the reasons for the rise in overall sales in the marketplaces that replaced Ulbricht’s site might be linked to a greater awareness in the public about online illegal drug sales due to the media coverage of the Silk Road.

“The timing suggests that people weren’t discouraged from buying and selling drugs,” says Ladegaard. “The data suggests that trade increased. And one likely explanation is that all the media coverage only made people more aware of the existence of the Silk Road and similar markets.”

A Dangerous Way to Buy Drugs

Setting aside the potential for arrest, buying drugs online could lead to the purchase of substance that might contain deadly ingredients. As was mentioned in other posts, fentanyl is often mixed with heroin to increase potency. The chemicals used to make synthetic drugs have unpredictable side effects, some of which can be deadly.

If you are addicted to drugs, seeking help is a lifesaving decision. Please contact 10 Acre Ranch today to end the cycle of addiction.

Synthetic Marijuana: Deadly Side Effects

Synthetic Marijuana

The news of late has been dominated by talk of opioid narcotics, prescription drugs like oxycodone and illicit ones like heroin. Recently there has been a lot of talk about powerful synthetic opioids like fentanyl and carfentanil, around 100 times and 10,000 times more potent than morphine respectively. In many ways, taking synthetic opioids can be a death sentence. Fentanyl was never meant to be used illicitly, and carfentanil was meant for elephants not humans.

Synthetic opioids are a major concern, to be sure, but there are other synthetic drugs that have been plaguing American streets for some time now. And there is a good chance that you have heard or read about many of them. Spice, K2, Flakka and bath salts may come to mind. In many parts of the world the chemicals used to make synthetic marijuana and bath salts are not outlawed. When governments to ban the ingredients used to make them, chemists are quick to alter the formula in order to circumvent the blacklist.

If you are working a program of addiction recovery, or have a vested interest in understanding these chemicals, you may be wondering what the attraction is to a family of drugs that has been linked to hundreds of terrifying news stories? The easiest way to answer that question is that they are easy to acquire, relatively inexpensive and often go undetected on standard drug screens. But despite the perceived benefits of synthetic drugs, the potential side effects are not worth the risk.

Unpredictable Synthetic Drugs

For the time being, let’s just spotlight synthetic cannabinoids; which, despite the moniker have little in common with traditional marijuana. To be sure, marijuana despite its benign reputation is not without risk. Yet, when you compare marijuana to synthetic cannabis—apples and oranges is what you find.

The chemical makeup of what is sprayed on herbal matter to be smoked by users is constantly being changed. A user hasn’t any way of knowing what to expect, and what they experience can be deadly. Common side effects of synthetic marijuana, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), include extreme anxiety, confusion, paranoia and hallucinations. And even more concerning:

  • Rapid Heart Rate
  • Vomiting
  • Violent Behavior
  • Suicidal Thoughts

In order to combat the synthetic drug crisis in America, lawmakers and government agencies have banned certain chemicals and begun targeting people distributing the dangerous drugs. Just this week, 42-year-old Ramsey Jeries Farraj from Bakersfield, pleaded guilty to a charge related to more than $4 million in synthetic drug-sale proceeds, Bakersfield Now reports. For his crimes related to selling spice and K-2 online, Farraj is looking at five years in prison and a fine.

Synthetic Marijuana is Dangerous

Young people are often drawn to synthetic drugs for the reasons mentioned earlier. They frequently do not know about the synthetic drugs deadly nature and that they can be addictive. If you are young adult male who is using synthetic drugs of any kind on a regular basis, there is a good chance that you have become dependent. With each week that passes, there is no way of knowing what changes chemists will make to the drugs you are consuming, the next batch may be your last. Please contact 10 Acre Ranch to break the cycle of addiction and begin the journey of recovery.

How to Stop Negative Thinking

Sad woman sitting on sofa at home having negative thoughts

Many people in recovery from addiction continue to struggle with negative thinking from time to time. This is because you likely spent a good portion of your life indulging in negative thoughts – plus, just because you’re sober, it doesn’t mean that you’ll automatically gain a sunny outlook.

Luckily, breaking a negative cycle is possible. It just may take a bit of time, patience and practice to think more positively. These strategies can help brighten your perspective.

  • Reach out to a friend. Talking to a loved one (preferable someone who is optimistic) is the perfect healthy distraction to quiet the negative chatter in your mind. By the end of your conversation, you may even forget what you were upset about in the first place.
  • Step outside. Stuck inside with your negative thoughts? Put on those shoes and head outside. The sunshine and fresh air will automatically give you a sunnier outlook.
  • Meditate: Taking a minute to be still and focus on your breath will help you clear your head so you can control your negative thinking.
  • Exercise: This works by helping to release feel-good endorphins and by keeping you in the moment, where negative thoughts are less likely to thrive.
  • Help someone: An act of altruism is often the wake-up call needed to stop dwelling on the bad and start focusing on the good.

Self-Realization at 10 Acre Ranch
Many addicted individuals believe that they are on a dead-end road with no hope in sight, and no ability to solve their problems or fulfill their most basic needs. The credentialed 10 Acre Ranch team helps residents and outpatients separate personal potential from chemical dependency and learn to love themselves again. To learn more, call 877-228-4679.

Treating Soldiers With PTSD and Addiction

photo of psychologist and a soldier with PTSD

It is a well known fact that experiencing trauma can have a serious impact on the course of one’s life. A severe accident, or the loss of a loved one can scar people in seemingly ineluctable ways. If you have ever experienced such trauma, then you know firsthand the scars the event can leave with you, possibly even post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). An insidious mental illness that if left untreated can lead people to engage in self-destructive behavior. The paradox is such behaviors often take the form of self-medicating with drugs and alcohol, which initially can alleviate some of the symptoms of the disorder, but actually make the symptoms worse in the long run. What’s more, self-medicating can also lead to addiction, and what one finds themselves with is a co-occurring disorder—otherwise known as a dual diagnosis.

Symptoms of PTSD can include:

  • Reliving the event (also called re-experiencing symptoms).
  • Avoiding situations that remind you of the event.
  • Having more negative beliefs and feelings.
  • Feeling keyed up (also called hyperarousal).

PTSD In The Military

While the condition can develop in anyone who experiences trauma, most people you probably associate post-traumatic stress with is the military. Young men and women who go off to fight in armed conflict witness and experience first-hand the horrors of war. In the field of battle even the survivors are victims. After nearly two decades of continuous involvement in the Middle East there are thousands of military personnel who have come home from Afghanistan and Iraq changed.

Ideally, such people would have access to the best treatment money could buy. That is, effective methods of therapy and medication that can counter the symptoms and even repair some of the damage. Unfortunately, the Veterans Administration (VA) isn’t always on top of treating affected personnel, which means many service men and women take to calming their symptoms with substances. In many cases, it is a choice that leads to a dishonorable discharge, which can actually cut individuals off from receiving VA benefits. Therefore, upsetting one’s prospects for obtaining a good job after the military

A new report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that during a four-year period, almost two-thirds of the 91,764 U.S. troops kicked out of the military for misconduct had received a diagnosis for post-traumatic stress, The Washington Post reports. The GAO is urging the Defense Department to do a better job at ensuring commanders consider medical conditions like PTSD when determining how to handle misconduct cases.

Treating Mental Illness – PTSD and Addiction

It is quite common for people with any form of mental illness to suffer from addiction as well. Which condition comes first is not as important as treating both disorders at the same time. Failure to do so usually results in an inability to recovery. At 10 Acre Ranch, we understand that drugs and alcohol can prolong a cycle of avoidance and delay treatment. For more than 25 years, we have treated many clients who courageously served overseas, who self-medicated their PTSD with drugs and alcohol. By addressing both the addiction and the co-occurring disorder they could get back on their feet and lead a fulfilling life.

If you or a loved one is struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder, and self-medicates, please contact us today. Recovery is possible.

Social Model of Addiction Recovery

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If you are in recovery from addiction or if you are still actively using drugs or alcohol, you are acutely aware of the fact that the disease is typified by solitude. While active users may be accompanied by others spiraling towards a similar bottom, the reality is that you are in fact alone. Nobody is going to support you in any fashion, short of maybe some friends and family members who could be enabling your destructive behavior. Perhaps you are still using and happen to be in a romantic relationship, if so there is good chance that it is unhealthy due to its codependent nature.

The point is that meaningful relationships in active addiction are virtually nonexistent. Even when you are around others, you are in every way alone. Conversely, in active recovery meaningful relationships are in abundance. The social model of addiction recovery centers around relying upon one another for support. It is such relationships that in many ways give you reasons to stay the course, you are there for others and they are there for you.

The road to addiction and beyond is a lonely road, the path to recovery involves walking side by side with others, as equals. It is often said recovery cannot be achieved on one’s own, only with the help of others. And there is plenty of evidence to support such claims.

The Social Model of Addiction Recovery

Isolation for addicts and alcoholics is a destructive behavior. In recovery, much emphasis is placed on getting out of one’s comfort zone and working hard to embrace the power of the group and its lifesaving qualities. At 10 Acre Ranch, we instill in our clients the power of the group. We know if you are feeling down others can assist you in getting back up, and vice versa.

In treatment, you and the other clients take part in groups that become the model for how you will sustain recovery upon discharge via 12 Step recovery. On multiple nights a week, clients are taken to various meetings to see and participate in a program of recovery that has helped countless individuals find a new way of living since the 1930’s.

One learns that a sponsor is not a boss or a parent, but rather a friend who can guide you through the Steps and can give you suggestions for overcoming situations that, left to one’s own devices, could lead to relapse. It isn’t a secret that people with substance use disorders don’t respond well to orders and commands, which is why the social model is so effective. In recovery we are all equals, there is no hierarchy. Through such a format, people can learn what a healthy relationship looks like, they can learn the value of open and honest lines of interpersonal communication.

Recovering Without Distraction

At our Southern California treatment facility, we understand that in early recovery distractions can be counterproductive. The greatest distraction for men is without a doubt the fairer sex. Once the drugs and alcohol are out of your system, people often remember what a sex drive is. How appealing being in the company of women is after years, decades even, of being in a fog. One of the most common routes to relapse in early recovery is without a doubt romantic attachments.

Being in a home surrounded by other males, gives you time to form lasting bonds with other men. It is not uncommon for men who go through treatment together to be friends for the rest of their lives, even if they reside in opposite ends of the country.

If you are still in the grips of addiction, we hope that you will contact us as soon as possible. We can help you break the cycle of addiction and give you the tools necessary for living a life in recovery. Please take a moment to watch a short video below:

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Addiction In America – War In Mexico

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Much of the news these days is focused on the Middle East, with ISIS taking front and center as being many Americans’ biggest concern. We have all seen the devastation in Syria on television and on the front pages. The death toll is staggering. While every one of us should feel disturbed by the carnage caused by this civil war being fought overseas, it is important to remember that the drugs being used and abused by Americans also come with a heavy price.

People die in this country every day from addiction, both from overdoses and the damage done by years of abuse. But, we would be wise to remember that the drugs that feed the fire of the United States’ insatiable drug habit, come to us by a bloody road. The clear majority of illegal drugs used today in this country arrive via Central America—particularly through Mexico.

At any given time, or in any given year, several Mexican drug cartels vie for the power to fuel the fire of addiction raging just north of the border. And negotiations usually take the form of gunfire, not peaceful talks. As a result, a global survey has revealed that after Syria, Mexico has become the second deadliest conflict area in the world.

A War for Drugs

In 2016, there were 23,000 intentional homicides in Mexico. The smaller central American countries have not been left unscathed either, with 16,000 having been killed during the same time in El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala. But it is important to remember that the deaths are not always the result of one cartel or gang fighting another, in each of the aforementioned countries the military has been tasked with fighting the war against transnational drug trafficking. And the cartels themselves have military grade weapons.

“The death toll in Mexico’s conflict surpasses those for Afghanistan and Somalia. This is even more surprising, considering that the conflict deaths are nearly all attributable to small arms. Mexico is a conflict marked by the absence of artillery, tanks or combat aviation,” said John Chipman, International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) chief executive and director-general, in the statement.

The cartels, to be sure, are not going anywhere as long as there is demand. There are millions of Americans with untreated addiction. Each year, those same people spend billions of dollars to maintain the very habit that is, in fact, killing them. Billions of dollars which are destined to line the pockets of cartel bosses south of the border.

Every time a particular cartel or boss, like Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán, is taken down there is always someone else to fill the void.

Treating Addiction is The Best Weapon

Encouraging people to seek help for addiction not only helps individuals, it helps society. Not just ours. Thousands of innocent Mexicans, with zero affiliation to the cartels, have lost their lives just because of proximity. By ending the stigma of addiction more people will begin to see that recovery is possible, that treatment does work. For too long substance use been viewed as a crime, and that the solution to the problem was incarceration. We know that wars on drugs have little effect on addiction rates, but on the other hand treatment has a huge effect.

If you or a loved one is battling an alcohol or substance use disorder, please contact 10 Acre Ranch today. We can help break the cycle of addiction, and start you down the most important road of life.

Fentanyl and Carfentanil Taking Lives

Book with fentanyl and test tubes

It would seem that we all live in an era where the drugs of our parents’ generation do not hold the same appeal. That is not to say that people no longer use cocaine, marijuana, speed and heroin (especially heroin); but rather, that the environment has changed dramatically and we live in a time when synthetic drugs are seemingly the biggest threat—at least with respect to posterity. Over the last decade, give or take, the media has flooded America with horror story after horror story, centered on synthetic analogs that are literally killing people.

First, it is important to make clear that the greatest problem regarding drug use today is centered around the American opioid addiction epidemic. A crisis of epic proportions that arose from what can only be called reckless overprescribing of prescription opioid painkillers. For nearly two decades both individual states and the Federal government have been reeling to find a way to reign in the scourge of opioid addiction that resulted from prescribing opioids for all things considered painful, whether that be a stubbed toe or back pain.

What started with pills prescribed legally, morphed into an even greater problem when crackdowns made it harder for already addicted Americans to acquire painkillers from a doctor. Such people did what any addict would do, looked to the black market for relief. A marketplace with zero-oversight and few concerns about patient wellbeing. Many pill abusers found that they could save money and actually achieve a greater high by making the switch to heroin. Thinking that prescription painkillers and heroin were both opioids, what’s the difference? The answer to which is, a lot!

Opioid Mystery Bags

Is it true that people die every day from prescription opioid overdoses? Yes. However, many of the overdose deaths today are the result of using heroin, and it isn’t just the heroin that is killing people. But rather what is mixed into the heroin, unbeknownst to users, in order to boost potency. For a number of years now, people have been dying of overdoses on heroin that is mixed with an extremely powerful synthetic opioid narcotic. One that is often resistant to the life-saving effects of the overdose reversal drug naloxone—sold under the brand name Narcan.

You may already have guessed that the synthetic being referred to is fentanyl. A drug commonly used in hospital settings for surgery and traumatic injuries which is 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine. The ingredients to make fentanyl can be acquired with relative ease from Chinese laboratories, and shipped overseas to cartels in Mexico. From there, the drug which causes severe respiratory depression is either stamped into pills disguised as other drugs (i.e. OxyContin) or it is mixed in with batches of heroin. Either way, by the time the fentanyl reaches people with opioid use disorder in the U.S., there is little way of knowing what is being consumed.

To make matters even worse, there are stronger analgesics also finding their way into the hands of American drug addicts, once again without their knowledge of the drugs’ presence. Interestingly, the more powerful drugs are analogs of fentanyl, but were never intended for human use.

Gray Death: A Fentanyl Admixture

In Alabama, Georgia and Ohio there has been a spate of deaths linked to dangerous opioid admixture, fittingly referred to as “Gray Death.” It was given the moniker because it looks like concrete mix, and causes overdose, the Associated Press reports. It is usually a mixture of heroin, fentanyl and carfentanil — an analog of fentanyl 10,000 times more potent than morphine, often used to tranquilize large animals like elephants. Sometimes another obscure synthetic opioid called U-47700, which has been associated with dozens of deaths, is added to the bags.

“Gray death is one of the scariest combinations that I have ever seen in nearly 20 years of forensic chemistry drug analysis,” Deneen Kilcrease, manager of the chemistry section at the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.

If you are actively abusing opioids, these combinations of drugs should be cause for concern. Around one hundred people die every day in this country just from abusing heroin on its own and prescription opioids. If you add something that includes elephant tranquilizers into the mix, then the stakes suddenly get much higher. If you think that you are buying heroin, there is no way of knowing until it’s too late. If you think that just because a pill has an OC stamped on the side and it is therefore OxyContin, it could in fact be something entirely different.

At 10 Acre Ranch, we strongly encourage you to consider reaching out for help. Entering substance use disorder treatment will end the risk of a fatal overdose and prevent the often slow death of active addiction. We can help you break the cycle and show you how to live a fulfilling life in recovery. Please contact us today.