What is Kratom? Cutting Edge Treatment, or Addictive Drug?

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UPDATED APRIL 14TH, 2020

 

As the opioid epidemic rages in the United States, the Food & Drug Administration has issued new warnings about kratom. Many people have begun talking about this widely used, natural supplement and its benefits and potential risks. Native to Southeast Asia and a member of the coffee family, kratom is seen by many as an all-natural supplement to help in a myriad of physical and mental ailments. Some of the purported uses include treatment for:

  • Pain-management
  • Opioid withdrawal symptom relief
  • Depression
  • Obesity & high blood pressure
  • Anxiety
  • As an energy boost
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Is kratom dangerous? Many scientists and government agencies say yes.

But many scientists and the FDA disagree with these claims. In a statement from September 11, 2018, FDA chairman Scott Gottlieb, M.D. claims:

Science and evidence matter in demonstrating medical benefit, especially when a product is being marketed to treat serious diseases like opioid use disorder (OUD). However, to date, there have been no adequate and well-controlled scientific studies involving the use of kratom as a treatment for opioid use withdrawal or other diseases in humans. Nor have there been studies on how kratom, when combined with other substances, may impact the body, its dangers, potential side effects, or interactions with other drugs.”

While there may have not been adequate study to substantiate either side of these claims, many leading scientists and addiction specialists are championing the concerns as expressed by the FDA.

To begin, the agency claims that kratom contains opioids, which is not entirely true, yet the relationship is virtually undeniable. Mitragyna speciosa is a tree related to the coffee plant, which is not from the poppy family, but according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), some compounds found in kratom affect opioid receptors in the brain. Perhaps this is why many sufferers of opiate addiction swear by its usefulness in helping manage their withdrawal symptoms. Unfortunately, the reasons for this are certainly indicative of the strong potential for addiction to kratom. Because kratom affects the same brain receptors as opioids do, it is essentially like substituting one opioid addiction for another one.

Kratom exhibits a high potential for abuse and can lead to further opioid addiction.

In a study published by Addiction Biology in June of 2018, one of the two psychoactive compounds in Kratom, 7-hydroxymitragynine (or 7-HMG) has a “high abuse potential that may also increase the intake of other opiates”. The study showed that the other of the 2 psychoactive constituents, Mitragynine (MG) does not have a high potential for abuse and can actually decrease subsequent opiate intake. Since kratom is a plant, certain strains can be bred to intentionally have more 7-HMG than occurs naturally, so someone that uses kratom should be warned. The harvesting and extraction of the plant before it is packaged can also be adulterated to some extent. This could pose dangerous consequences to unsuspecting users of kratom extracts and supplements.

The safety of kratom is a major concern that has been taken into account by the FDA. In November 2017 the FDA claimed that kratom was responsible for 44 deaths since 2011. These reports hold true the assessment that kratom is an addictive drug, with a high potential for abuse that can create various health problems, including death.

These same government agencies are also warning that kratom can deter people from seeking medication-assisted treatment (MAT) such as buprenorphine, naloxone and methadone. These substance abuse treatment medications are scientifically proven to reduce opioid dependence in addicts:

“Patients who were using opioid agonist medications at the 18-month interview were more than twice as likely to report abstinence as those who were not (80.0 percent versus 36.6 percent).”National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)

With this evidence aside, many people are currently using kratom as a self-administered, step-down treatment for opioid dependence. They might think this will help them steer away from opioid drugs like heroin, yet there is no research-based evidence to back up these claims.

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Many people claim an array of benefits from kratom, yet the research is limited.

 

Kratom is fairly unregulated in the US and as a result potential dangers associated with the product certainly do exist. For instance, nine of the 44 kratom-related deaths the FDA claims in their report, were from a string of overdoses in Sweden, where a mixture of kratom and tramadol (4) was the culprit.

While the FDA tries to classify kratom as an opiate, they may be only partially right. Compounds in the plant affect the same areas of the brain as poppy-based opiates do. The compounds in the plant have been shown to trigger respiratory depression, much like opioids do. This affects the brains’ ability to tell the lungs to breathe and is ultimately how many people die from opioid overdoses. They simply quit breathing, which can result in their untimely death.

Withdrawal symptoms associated with kratom further prove its addictive properties.

Just like most other drugs, kratom can result in a chemical dependency, when taken over a period of time. When a person quits using kratom, they can experience painful withdrawal symptoms. The side effects of kratom withdrawal can include: anxiety, aggression, nausea, vomiting, irritability, depression and even seizures.

Kratom is an absolutely harmful drug whose dangerous risks far outweigh any perceived benefits. Poison control center calls concerning kratom increased ten fold from 2010 to 2015. Just like other drugs, kratom must be taken in higher and higher doses to produce the desired effects over any period of use. Your body can develop a tolerance to kratom much like it can for opioids.

Since the market is relatively unregulated, different batches of kratom can be wildly different from the next, even when it comes from the same brand. This is why many kratom consumers themselves, actually advocate for better regulation of the supplement. They want whole, pure leaf supplements that are not adulterated with other compounds, as these mixtures can be extremely dangerous.

While kratom exhibits a potential for abuse and addiction, many people still make illegitimate claims on the benefits of the plant. Some people are led to believe that it can help treat opioid addiction, then they find themselves addicted to kratom. Hopefully with more research being done, we can fully understand the potential dangers of this natural supplement.

Who is to Blame for the Drug Crisis?

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If there’s one thing Americans of all backgrounds, religions and political affiliations agree on, it’s that the United States is in the midst of a drug overdose epidemic, one that is fueled, largely by opioids. While virtually everyone agrees that losing over 70,000 lives a year to the drug epidemic is a travesty, many people are looking to place blame where blame is due. Complicating things further it is no one person, place or thing that created the opioid epidemic. Many historical, socioeconomic and individual factors play a role in the crisis.

One reason people look to assign blame is they believe (sometimes rightfully so), that finding the one thing to blame is the first step to solving the problem. This may be partially true, but for an honest, successful solution to the drug overdose crisis, we need to look at every possible factor that plays a role in the growing problem. Being honest with the findings is the best way to address the multitude of issues that contributed to the crisis.

Illicit drug dealers and pharmaceutical companies are who most people automatically blame for the drug crisis.

opioid-epidemic-who-is-to-blame-for-drug-crisis-in-United-States
“Big Pharma” drug manufacturers most certainly played a role in the drug crisis, by overselling the benefits of opioids and downplaying the risks. Yet there are various other factors that contributed to the opioid epidemic in the United States.

Of course the first place people look to when placing blame for the opioid epidemic is the drug dealers and manufacturers. Since President Nixon declared the “War on Drugs” in 1971, our strategy for dealing with the problems drugs cause in society was to go after the supply chain. In the nearly 50 years since this war on drugs was declared, we are nowhere close to solving the problems drugs have created in our society.

Certainly, drug dealers and big pharma have played a major role in creating the drug crisis in the United States. Many companies (including, most notably Purdue Pharma), have been found in court to have lied about the safety and efficacy of their prescription drug products. In the late 1990’s, Purdue aggressively marketed Oxycontin to doctors, claiming the extended-release of opioids would prevent misuse of the drug. This formula allowed the giant pharmaceutical company to receive FDA approval to put more opioids in each pill and we all know how that turned out.

The reality of Oxycontin was that it is much more prone to be abused or misused. People who developed a dependency to opiates found that the extended release formula could be bypassed by crushing up the pills and either snorting the powder or injecting the drug directly into their veins with intravenous needles. Because the oxycodone pills are so powerful, an addiction to opioids could develop very fast. Once the prescription ran-out, the addicted patients were forced to move on to street drugs like heroin, just to avoid the excruciatingly painful opiate withdrawal symptoms.

Even when someone successfully quit using opioids, they are highly prone to experience a relapse. A 2016 study found that people who are in recovery from opioid addiction experienced at least a 30% to 70% relapse rate within the first 6 months of their recovery. Fortunately, as a response to this contributing factor, the same pharmaceutical companies developed medications to help treat opioid addiction. Medication assisted treatment (MAT) can greatly help ease painful withdrawal symptoms from opioid addiction and they can greatly lower the rate of further relapses into substance use.

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Are doctors, physicians and other medical professionals to blame for the drug crisis? While some doctors ignored the warnings others may have been intentionally misled.

Doctors who overprescribed opioids and other painkillers are also rightfully to blame for the drug crisis in the United States.

While it is certainly easy to blame drug dealers and multi-billion dollar corporations for the opioid epidemic, the problem equally rests in the interpersonal and professional relationships of patients and doctors in their local communities. A 2016 survey found that about as many Americans blame doctors for overprescribing opioids (34%) as they do the patients who abuse prescription painkillers themselves (37%).

Illicit drug dealers market street drugs like heroin, counterfeit versions of prescription opioids and various forms of fentanyl. However, according to SAMHSA data, fewer than 10% of prescription opioids are obtained from drug dealers or other strangers. Over 50% of the misused or abused pills come from family members or close friends, while only 25% are obtained with a prescription from a doctor or physician. While the problem of patients receiving multiple prescriptions from different doctors, this only represents 3.1% of the opioids obtained for non-medical use, whereas over 22% receive prescription opioids from only one doctor.

Our overall approach to pain management drastically changed in the 1970’s when pain became the “fifth vital sign”.

Before the 1970’s, the medical profession virtually ignored the importance of pain management in a patient’s medical care. The inclusion of the question: “was your pain adequately treated” on patient surveys brought about a sort of preoccupation within the medical community on how to provide adequate pain management. Pain became the “fifth vital sign” along with body temperature, blood pressure, pulse and respiratory rate.

As a doctor, you certainly don’t want to see your patients suffer with pain symptoms. With a newfound focus on pain management, physicians and hospital administrators began aggressively treating pain symptoms, which led to a massive increase in opioid prescriptions.

We have to admit that opioids do serve as effective pain relievers and, when used appropriately, they can benefit the overall quality of health care services available in our society. Opioids do serve to benefit people who have recently undergone surgery, experienced a major bone fracture, cancer patients and other severely painful medical events. We cannot simply prohibit doctors from prescribing them appropriately.

Various forms of alternative pain management techniques are available, yet many doctors aren’t taught them in medical schools. The pharmaceutical industry provides massive funding to most of the medical schools in the US. This problem is compounded by the health insurance companies’ reimbursement policies. These policies make prescription opioids a much cheaper option for patients than other, alternative approaches to pain management, such as acupuncture, physical therapy or chiropractic techniques.

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Opioid manufactures, over-prescribing doctors, insurance policies and patients themselves have all played major roles in the drug overdose epidemic. Now that we know, it’s time to start fixing the problem.

While it is easy for people to simply blame “big pharma” as the culprits of the drug overdose crisis in America, we think that is simply just the tip of the iceberg. Of course the Sackler family from Purdue Pharma, along with other pharmaceutical giants like Johnson & Johnson seriously downplayed the risks associated with their products.

Currently, over 2,000 court cases against opioid manufactures are pending in the US. These cases rightfully assert that “big pharma” may have intentionally misled doctors into prescribing more opioids, which most certainly played a role in the creation of the opioid epidemic. Yet opioid misuse is a much more complicated issue than that.

Drug abuse typically coincides with strong feelings of hopelessness, depression and despair. The states that are the worst-hit by the opioid epidemic also suffer from the highest rates of joblessness and economic turmoil. Until we address all of the underlying causes of the current drug crisis in America, we are going to be fighting an uphill battle.

Overcoming an addiction is never easy, yet there are people who do it every day. 10 Acre Ranch offers a full medical detox and recovery program that can help you, every step of the way.

Please call us today to speak with one of our addiction specialists and we can get you, your family member or loved one the help they need right away. We are available 24/7, 365 days a year. Call now:

 

877-228-4679

 

 

2019 National Prescription Drug Take Back Day: Saturday, April 27th. Find a Collection Site Near You.

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On Saturday, April 27th, 2019 the United States Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) is hosting the National Prescription Drug Take Back Day. This event aims to provide for the safe and confidential disposal of any unused, expired or unwanted prescription drugs that you may have in your home medicine cabinet. Collection sites will be fully operational between 10am and 2pm.  The collection is completely confidential, with no personal information collected and no questions asked.

Besides removing drugs from potential abuse, the program aims to help to educate the public about the dangers of prescription drug misuse and abuse. On the DEA’s website for National RX Take Back Day, you will find a national list of collection facilities available in California for Saturday, April 27, 2019.  There is also a link to find year-round collection sites in your local area.

Prescription drug abuse is a major concern across the United States as many communities are struggling with the ongoing opioid epidemic. In August of 2018, the Centers for Disease Control released their annual summary of drug overdose deaths in the US. In the report, the CDC shows that over 72,000 people have died in the US from a drug overdose in 2017.  This is the largest number of recorded overdose deaths ever. Factor in the other 630,000 people who have died from a drug overdose since the late 90’s, and we see a growing problem that shows no signs of slowing down. Since the late 1990’s, pharmaceutical companies have been aggressively marketing prescription opioids such as Oxycontin, Percocet, codeine and even fentanyl. This major problem for many Americans begins as a medication, prescribed by a doctor and in several cases turns into a heroin addiction.

As opioid prescription rates are currently in decline, the problem of misuse of prescription drugs is constant and the health risks are dangerous and deadly. It is estimated that last year nearly 11.5 million Americans used a controlled prescription drug without a prescription from a doctor, according to the DEA. This study states that 40% received the pills from a family member or friend. Sometimes this occurs by the person visiting your home and raiding your personal medicine cabinet. Medicines that are accessibly placed in a bathroom or other location are highly susceptible to diversion, misuse and abuse.

heroin spoon syringe

This seemingly innocent accessibility of drugs at home or in garbage bins can be very dangerous when they sometimes find their way into the wrong hands. This certainly is a huge contributor to substance abuse in your community. The DEA’s National Take Back Day is a way for you to turn in your unwanted and unused drug prescriptions in a safe, confidential way. National Take Back Day is the perfect opportunity to clean out your home medicine cabinet and be assured that your old medications and pills are disposed of safely and securely with the expert help of the proper authorities.

Some facts about prescription pharmaceutical drugs:

  • -Prescription drug abuse causes more than half of the deaths from overdose in the US.
  • -Non-medical use of pharmaceutical drugs is the second most abused illicit substance, close behind marijuana.
  • -It is unsafe to simply throw prescription meds away in the trash. This makes it very easy way for people to steal them and sell them on the streets of your local community.
  • -The majority of teenagers in the United States who abuse medications and prescription drugs, get them from the medicine cabinets of their own home, or the homes of family members and close friends. 
  • -Pharmaceutical prescription drugs can be just as dangerous as illicit street drugs when taken without a medical doctor’s supervision.
  • -Flushing unused prescription drugs down the toilet is a very bad idea.  It can contaminate rivers and streams and your local community’s water supply. Proper disposal helps to protect the environment and it could help save someone’s life.
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In October of 2018, at a prior RX Drug Take Back Day, collection sites received over 450 tons of prescription meds from 5,839 locations nationwide. This is the agency’s 8th year of the program. The DEA will be holding these events twice per year, once in the spring and once in the fall.

If for any reason you are unable to make it to the National RX Drug Take Back Day, or the event has already passed, click this link to find out where you can find other, year-round disposal sites for your expired, unused or unwanted prescriptions:

On Saturday, April 27, 2019 the DEA is hosting an anonymous, confidential and safe way to dispose of your unused prescription medications. Participants are asked to remove labels or black out personal information before you drop them off at a collection facility. Find locations in California and more information on year round sites here:

https://apps.deadiversion.usdoj.gov/NTBI/ntbi-pub.pub?_flowExecutionKey=_c2D824ED8-7C29-BCF5-325E-6D874980C592_k91966A3B-739F-8010-46B0-CE524C868467

If you do not find your area listed at the link above, contact your local law enforcement officials to see if they participate in the event.

The Opioid Crisis: How The Sackler Family Made Billions, While America Became Addicted to Oxycontin.

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Internal Purdue memos sought to sell higher doses of the drugs over long periods of time. This obviously made the company more money, while the higher doses also increased the likelihood of their patients to develop an addiction. Many internal emails have proven that the Sackler family cared only about their sales numbers, not the safety of the patients who were taking the drugs.
While the Sackler family was pushing blame onto people who helplessly became addicted to their drugs, they raked in billions and billions of dollars. The family fortune is said to have exceeded $13 billion dollars at the end of 2018.

Continue reading

The 2018 Opioid Bill

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The United States Congress reconciled both House and Senate opioid bills aimed at reducing the deadly toll of the nation’s top health care crisis: the opioid epidemic.

In the SUPPORT For Patients and Communities Act, Republican and Democrat lawmakers came to a rare agreement between both parties. The drug overdose epidemic claimed 72,000 lives in 2017 alone and roughly two thirds of those deaths were from prescription and non-prescription opioids. The bill will now head to the Senate as the House of Representatives almost unanimously passed the bill in a rare, 393-8 vote. President Trump is expected to sign this legislation into law before the midterm elections.  This is a fairly large bill, that will cost the US billions of dollars but many argue that the bill doesn’t do enough to address the nation’s greatest public health issue. Senator Elizabeth Warren has proposed a bill that would cost the US tax payer $100 billion over the next 10 years, as she argues this is what is really necessary to fully address the opioid crisis.

The SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act takes a wide approach to the opioid epidemic from law enforcement, treatment and public health care measures.

We will talk about some of the major policy changes in the bill and the full-text of the bill is available here.

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The 2018 SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act was passed by United States Congress and signed into law by President Trump.

One of the greatest achievements of the new bill is a provision to allow Medicaid recipients to seek care at addiction treatment centers. The restrictions on Medicaid funding for substance abuse treatment had been long outdated and congress finally addressed this problem. Allowing Medicaid to help fund up to 30 days of inpatient rehab stays, including medication-assisted treatment (MAT) is going to help a lot of people get the help they desperately need. The bill authorizes a grant program through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to help communities develop opioid recovery centers. While the bill does address the lack of funding for increased access to treatment programs, many addiction specialists argue the bill does not do enough in this regard. While noting that the bill is not itself bad as it does a lot to address a multitude of issues, it is severely lacking on access to treatment, which many believe is the most important technique that could help solve the opioid crisis.

Another provision in the bill lifts restrictions on medications used to treat opioid use disorder and other types of addiction. This measure simply allows more medical practitioners to prescribe medications such as buprenorphine, used to help ease withdrawal symptoms in addiction recovery. As it stands today only 5 percent of doctors are licensed to prescribe this life-saving drug. Another medication, naloxone was addressed in this bill. One provision allows first responders greater access to the life-saving opioid antagonist which can reverse the effects of an opioid overdose.

The major law enforcement provision of the SUPPORT Act is aimed at the trafficking of drugs through the postal system. Fentanyl that is illegally imported from Mexico and China has been blamed for many of the opioid-related deaths in recent years. One package seized in Philadelphia last June contained 110 pounds of fentanyl, valued at $1.7 billion dollars. This was estimated to be enough of the dangerous substance to kill the entire population of the state of Pennsylvania two times over. Fentanyl is 50 times more potent than heroin, so it is easy to smuggle large amounts of the substance through the mail system. This bill makes it harder for people to sneak illicit substances into the US from abroad. The bill will require packages coming in from foreign countries to reveal their contents and where and who they’re coming from. While the bill is broadly aimed at targeting illicit drug suppliers, it includes protection for individuals looking to import cheaper prescriptions from overseas. This was in direct opposition to pharmaceutical companies’ requests to include enforcement against importing cheaper prescriptions from other countries.

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The opioid epidemic kills nearly 200 Americans every single day.

While the SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act does a lot to fight the opioid epidemic, there is still a lot of work to be done in the near future. The bill even authorizes research into opioid alternatives to pain management and penalizes drug manufacturers and distributors for overprescribing. A lot more could have been done to address the root causes of addiction and it should have offered greater access to outpatient treatment programs. However, while a lot of divisive partisan issues like funding were ignored in the bill, the Democrats and Republicans agreed on a lot of ‘second-tier’ issues that will definitely help save lives. Given the extreme divisiveness in American politics in the Trump era, this is a small political victory.  Thankfully, everyone finally seems to want to work together in fighting this urgent national health crisis.

Addiction Treatment Funding Cuts

woman taking post-surgery pain medication

In the wake of an opioid addiction epidemic more Americans than ever see the value of use disorder treatment. It doesn’t matter where you come from, the color of your skin, or your socio-economic standing — survival is contingent upon getting help. When people can’t access addiction treatment they remain in a vicious cycle; substance use disorder has the power to cut one’s life short. This is why we need to make sure our los angeles addiction treatment centres are properly funded!

When taking addiction into consideration, it’s easy to think that the problems in the U.S. are unique. It’s an opioid addiction epidemic, after all, not a pandemic. However, alcohol and substance use disorder is a severe problem in other parts of the western world. Many countries face obstacles similar to our own regarding getting people the help they need.

Addiction is deadly. Treating such conditions usually comes at a steep price; a bill that in many cases falls on the Federal and state governments to foot. Logically: Investing money into addiction treatment service saves lives. The data overwhelmingly supports the above conclusion; something that the United Kingdom had to learn the hard way.

Cutting Addiction Treatment Funding

In recent history, countries in the western world have been forced to address opioid use disorder. Again, the U.S. may have the most severe problem with such drugs, but others have been affected as well. While it’s hard to compare our staggering overdose deaths rates to other countries, any number of deaths is not right, and precautions should be taken to mitigate.

The U.K. has witnessed a trend from which we can all learn something — funding addiction treatment is a must. Wherever funding for addiction treatment gets cut, more people die from an overdose in England, The Guardian reports. Areas with heightened mortality rates directly correlate with treatment spending reductions.

In 2016, there were 3,744 overdose deaths compared with 2,640 a decade ago. That may not seem like much when compared to the 64,000 overdose deaths in America U.S. last year. Those were 3,744 mothers and fathers, and they were somebody’s children. Directing the necessary funds toward addiction treatment might have prevented some of those deaths.

“Funding cuts are reducing the ability of drug treatment services to reduce the risk of death among people using heroin,” said Alex Stevens, criminal justice professor at the University of Kent. “The government is fully aware that drug-related deaths are highest in the places with the highest levels of deprivation and that they are cutting budgets the deepest in areas with deepest deprivation.”

Treatment Is Worth the Investment

When it comes to addressing addiction, treatment is the most effective way to prevent future overdose events. Life in recovery is possible, but without help, it is challenging to break the cycle of addiction. The United Kingdom is not alone, here at home public addiction treatment services require much more significant investment than currently exists.

If you or a loved one is in need of addiction treatment, please contact 10 Acre Ranch. Our affordable program is for men who are ready to take specific steps for a better life. We can help make your recovery a reality.

Overdose Death Impacting Life Expectancy

woman suffered from drug overdose

In the 21st Century those of us living in America expect to live robust lives. Far longer than once thought possible, thanks to advances in medicine and a better understanding of healthy living. Fewer Americans smoke cigarettes across most demographics. And when people are diagnosed with certain forms of cancer the prospects for recovery are at times good. While average life expectancy has been steadily increasing over the decades, one variable has been tipping the scale—overdose death. Specifically, opioid overdose death.

It won’t come as a surprise to learn that American’s relationship with opioids has been approaching critical mass. We have steadily seen the number of premature deaths rise to greater heights with each passing year. There were more deaths in 2016 than in 2015, and overdose deaths are expected to surpass last year, in 2017. Overdose death is now the leading cause of premature death in America. And, believe it or not, these deaths are impacting figures on average life expectancy – for the worse.

A new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association shed some light on this subject. The researchers found that our life expectancy increased overall, from nearly 77 years to 79 years, between 2000 and 2015. However, the nearly two-decade spate of overdose deaths trimmed that expectancy by 2.5 months, HeathDay reports. Dr. Deborah Dowell from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Division of Unintentional Injury Prevention points out drug overdoses have more than doubled. With opioid overdose cases, more than tripled during the same time.

Reducing Overdose Death

“[U.S.] life expectancy is now lower than in most high-income countries,” said lead researcher Dowell, noting this as the is first decrease since 1993 at the height of the AIDS epidemic.

Studies like these don’t do much to save lives, but they do give society some perspective. With over 50,000 Americans dying from overdose every year, action is desperately needed. Failure to address this epidemic with greater urgency will result in greater death tolls with each subsequent year. Perhaps what is most troubling about all of this is the fact that treatment works, and recovery is possible. Yet, the majority of the more than 2 million opioid use disorder cases are never treated in any way.

What’s worse, doctors are often unable to read the writing on the wall when it comes to their patients. It’s no secret that physicians in the U.S. are only required to have minimal education in addiction and treatment. The majority of doctors are not even licensed to prescribed certain drugs that help opioid addicts strive for recovery. It is one thing to increase access to the overdose reversal drug naloxone. But, if overdose victims are not steered towards recovery, history is bound to repeat itself.

“There is an urgency to this problem,” said Dr. Adam Bisaga, a professor of psychiatry at Columbia University Medical Center in New York City. “The tragedy is, we have medication to treat opioid addiction. But death rates keep going up.”

Opioid Addiction Treatment

It doesn’t matter which form of opioid one uses, prescription painkillers or heroin. The risk of overdose and potential death is clear and present. To make matters worse, these are not easy drugs to abstain from due to the severity of withdrawal. However, as Dr. Bisaga points out, there are a number of meds that can help with withdrawal and treatment process. Dramatically increasing one’s ability to achieve long-term addiction recovery. If you are an adult male who has become dependent on opioids of any kind, please contact 10 Acre Ranch. We can help you find recovery.

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.