Category Archives: Drug Addiction

Some Good News In Fighting the Opioid Epidemic

A New Medication

 On June 6, CBS TV profiled an early stage biotechnology company called Blue Therapeutics that has developed a non-addictive painkiller. Pharmaceutical companies have been talking about developing less addictive painkillers lately, but their definition refers to pills that would be more difficult to crush and so forth. Blue Therapeutics supposedly has the real thing, which means that people looking for pain relief will not become addicted with this medication as has happened so often with other pain relief. This company’s medication clings to different receptors that are non-addictive and so it “eliminates the narcotic high,” according to a company executive who was interviewed. Unfortunately, the medication won’t be available for about five years. It’s in clinical trials now.

 Acupuncture

 People in recovery from heroin and methamphetamine addiction might suffer from anxiety and fear like Sarah Downs, the woman featured in an article appearing in several newspapers in May. She was at the Pickaway Area Recovery Services (PARS) in Ohio, for acupuncture, which she hoped would ease the symptoms she experienced since getting sober for three months prior. Jimmy Laux, a chiropractor associated with the program, eased needles into her ears in a new program for the center. What’s interesting is that a judge is linked to the program as well. He heard about Laux because he sends defendants to a recovery facility, and Laux educated him about acupuncture for easing addicts’ recovery. This judge has pledged almost $13,000 for treatment for people who don’t have the funds to pay for it themselves. Acupuncture isn’t meant to be used in isolation, the article said. NAR-ANON and AA meetings are also important, as well as therapy. But the executive director of PARS said that his research “shows that people in recovery who undergo acupuncture stay clean at a higher rate than those who don’t.”

drug rehab programs

 Brain Stimulation

 It’s surprising that brain stimulation isn’t more well-known than it is when it was publicized as far back as 2015. On a site called Addiction Recovery Guide, run by a psychologist, Magnetic Brain Stimulation and Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation are mentioned as promising research. Magnetic Brain Stimulation stimulates nerve cells in the brain’s prefrontal cortex, which controls impulsive behavior. The article says it’s been used since the 1980 to treat depression, and in a study using it for cocaine addiction, patients were able to reduce their cocaine use and had few cravings after eight sessions. This information was published in the European Neuropsychopharmacology Journal (December 3, 2015). Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation has also been used for depression and anxiety, and was also was found to decrease cravings for drugs, although more study on how many sessions and what length is needed. This information was published in the October 2016 issue of the Annals of Neuroscience.

 Exercise

 The fact that exercise is good for people in recovery is nothing new. Treatment centers often have exercise programs, and clients are advised about the benefits of exercise, But if you thought that was only to return a person to health, you should know that exercise can have actual positive effects on recovery. In June  U.S. News cited a study which found “daily aerobic exercise altered dopamine signaling in the brain in ways that make alcohol and other substances of abuse less appealing or rewarding.” The lead author also said that exercise also increases functioning of the brain’s frontal areas, which help inhibit cravings. For information on drug rehab programs please contact our rehab in California at (866) 569-9391

Ecstacy and Ketamine for Addiction Treatment?

Ecstacy and Veterans

There are certain substances that are seen as bad but paradoxically can be used for good. For example, botox is a toxin, but it’s also well-known as a wrinkle treatment. As WebMD cites, it can also be used to treat crossed eyes, uncontrolled blinking, and muscle spasms or movement disorders. It’s helpful for people who experience frequent migraines, too. Now, Ecstacy, also known as Molly, has been found to show promise as a treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder to help veterans suffering from the condition. Ecstacy alters mood and perception, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. A study in the Lancet Psychiatry journal explained that when 26 combat veterans were given two sessions of therapy along with the party drug MDMA, a majority of them benefitted. In fact, there were dramatic improvements in symptoms. They also slept better and “became more conscientious.” Sixteen, or 62 percent, no longer could be said to have PTSD.

PTSD Treatment

This study bears out the results of smaller studies done in previous years. The next step is Phase 3 trials, which will replicate safety and efficacy results, and if all goes well, the FDA could approve the drug by 2021. That doesn’t mean the treatment will be loosey-goosey, however. Indeed, the original headline, “A Drug From the Dance Floor May Soon Help Ease Veterans’ PTSD” was worded differently in the digital version: “Now Ecstasy as a Remedy for PTSD? You Probably Have Some Questions.” There is a protocol. First there are three therapy sessions. In a fourth session, a licensed therapist administers the drug in pill form. Then the patient lies down amid candles and flowers and listens to music. A male and a female therapist sit with the patient as a guide. The drug floods the brain with hormones and neurotransmitters and users report feelings of trust and well-being. Following this session, users “process” emotions in a follow-up session, and take MDMA “two or three times, each a month apart, interspersed with psychotherapy.” Larger clinical trials will validate whether or not the technique really works, and unfortunately, there are side effects, such as headache, fatigue, muscle tension, and insomnia. (Puzzling, since most people reported sleeping better.) What has excited a few experts is that there is a lack of treatments for PTSD, so they’re hopeful. Sadly, as word has spread, some people are self-medicating with MDMA, and as a street drug, it may be found to be mixed with other drugs. Also, frequent use can damage the brain and an overdose can be fatal.

drug addiction treatment center

Ketamine and Veterans

Ketamine, also known as K, Special K, or cat Valium, is one of the club drugs listed on the National Institute on Drug Abuse website along with Methamphetamine, MDMA, LSD, GHB, and Rohypnol. These are frequently used by teens and young adults at parties, nightclubs and the like. Ketamine is also used as an anesthetic for humans and animals, and in addition to GHP and Rohypnol, it’s a date rape drug. Ketamine is known as a dissociative drug because it makes users feel out of control and disconnected from their body and environment. They may hallucinate, have psychotic-like episodes that can linger, and experience respiratory depression, heart rate abnormalities, and withdrawal. A doctor at a veteran’s hospital in Mufreesboro, Tenn., is using the drug to treat opioid addiction, and the Department of Veterans Affairs is supporting him. The doctor, an anesthesiologist, claims a 74% success rate, and said it “resets excited pain receptors” so that patients feel pain “in a normal, manageable way.” The article mentions a veteran who was on opioids after being shot in the hip years earlier. Eventually, he developed an addiction and couldn’t wean himself off. The implication was that ketamine helped. For more information please contact our drug addiction treatment center at (866) 569-9391

Opioid Protests, and an Imodium High? Who Would Believe It?

 Opioid dissent

 Americans have a long history of protesting when they don’t like something. It hasn’t been that long since Occupy Wall Street, the Parkland, Florida students, and the #MeToo campaigns, to name just three uprisings. But who would have thought there would be an actual protest against OxyContin? A lot has been written against Purdue Pharma, the drug’s manufacturer, but to actually take to the street over it? Well, it’s happened. Last month, Nan Goldin, a well-known photographer who was addicted to opioids herself once, led a demonstration at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, in a wing named for two Sackler brothers whose family owns the company. The group had a symbolic “die-in” there, marched through the halls and also gathered outside. Their goal was to get buy-in from cultural institutions not to accept money from the family, and to fund addiction treatment. They unfurled banners and scattered pill bottles labeled with the drug’s name and the Sackler name into a reflecting pool. MOMA is not the only museum the family has given money to, either.

 Opioid Protest

Previously, a small protest took place in November outside a VA medical center in Florida when six veterans marched outside to protest opioid deaths and show support for medical marijuana. They carried a casket draped in an American flag and then poured “hundreds of empty pill bottles inside the casket.” Most either had a personal story about opioids or knew someone who became addicted. One vet’s young daughter had died from a seizure and he believed she would had lived if she had access to marijuana for her genetic condition. Can you imagine if families that have lost loved ones due to opioids, or who have loved ones that have become addicted decided to them march en masse in major cities? And if those who became addicted themselves joined them and identified and put pressure on perpetrators to provide funding for treatment? That would be something to see. Some people think progress is being made in the fight against the opioid epidemic because a partnership has been established between the NIH and pharmaceutical companies to develop nonaddictive painkillers. But abuse-deterrent doesn’t mean less addictive at all, it simply means pills are harder to crush or do otherwise with for snorting or injecting them.

a drug treatment program

 Imodium

 Also in the category of “Will wonders never cease?”, it seems that Loperamide—Imodium A-D, the diarrhea stopper, has potential for abuse. If you’ve heard of Joe and Teresa Graedon, you may know they’re syndicated columnists with a health column (The People’s Pharmacy) in which they answer readers’ questions and comment on people’s concerns.  In their March column in The Seattle Times, a reader wrote in to say he or she has been taking Imodium for Irritable Bowel Syndrome for years, one pill a day, and it has been extremely helpful. The person doesn’t have to be near a bathroom shortly after eating. He or she was concerned because the FDA wants to limit the allowable amount to be sold over the counter to packs of eight pills, an amount good for two days. The writer is afraid that the price will go up and it will be difficult to get the amount he or she needs. (Sound familiar? Like the complaints from people who take opioids for legitimate pain and don’t abuse them, and are fearful that more stringent measures may mean they won’t be able to get what they need? Appears so.) The Graedons explain: “Some people have been using high doses….to ease opioid withdrawal symptoms; others have abused the drug in order to get high.” One problem with the latter behavior is that it may result in irregular heart rhythms or cardiac arrest. Who knew an IBS medicine could be used for other than stopping diarrhea?

For more information contact Summit Estate, a drug treatment program, at (866) 569-9391.  

White Collar Professionals and Addiction

Often, the stereotype of someone suffering from alcohol or other substance use disorder is that they’re down and out, barely functioning most of the time, and always looking for the next drink or fix. Yet if you’re at all knowledgeable about addiction, you know that addiction affects people at all socioeconomic levels, including executives in the corner office and other white collar professionals.

 

These employees often work in highly stressful jobs, such as in high-tech companies, where much is expected of them. They also fall prey to the stigma of addiction, so the fear of losing their job is strong.

 

Denial is strong at this level, and the excuses are many.  Perhaps the most common is that they don’t have a problem. Some people say they deserve to drink or take drugs because of all they’re dealing with, or even that they can do their job better with drugs. (I interviewed one woman addicted to oxycodone who said she took a handful of pills every day just to feel normal.) Others say they could never take time from work for treatment.Tyler Fitzgerald, Clinical Director of Summit Estate, says his experience has been that most companies are incredibly supportive of people getting help, especially in Silicon Valley. “What they won’t put up with is the absenteeism, the hangovers, and the outbursts,” adds Jon Heller, Summit Estate’s Admissions Director.

 

You may have done some research and learned that effective treatment facilities group people with similar needs for the best results. A teenage boy does not have the same rehabilitation needs as a high-level executive, for example. Summit Estate caters to white collar professionals with stressful jobs. “We’re the non-luxury luxury treatment center,” says Fitzgerald. “This is not the kind of place where people come and are pampered and get to sleep until noon and have breakfast brought to them. We don’t emphasize the things that aren’t necessary. We focus on real treatment for real people.”

 

Similarly, he explains, the reintegration program is an intensive daily program that can be built around people’s work schedules, if need be. “People continue working with their therapist and their treatment team while being reintegrated into the community and learn how to deal with the everyday stresses of work.” 

 

Even during the program, people who absolutely need to keep in touch with work can be accommodated. “What we do is take away excuses not to come,” says Fitzgerald.

 

On Psych Central, Dr. David Sack explains that addicts may think they’re “getting away with” their addition quite awhile before taking action:  “High-functioning addicts are masters of disguise whose struggles with drugs and alcohol may go unnoticed for years, often with increasingly severe consequences. A … position of power at work … may cushion them from the consequences of their drug use, while a sense of self-importance or belief that they can resolve their own problems may prevent them from seeking treatment.

 

 

Fitzgerald offers the perfect conclusion for this post with an apt observation about treatment: “Our clients could be at their bottom. They could have been called in at work and spoken to about their performance, or perhaps other people have noticed they’ve been intoxicated or are increasingly missing deadlines or work. Everyone’s bottom is the same — you’re up against a wall, and the rug’s about to be pulled out from under you and you’re going to be exposed. Our clients often come to us in a state of panic that they’re going to lose their job; this is the time to save it.” 

Overcoming Abuse with a Drug Rehab Program

Drug addiction is a very serious condition that is very hard to overcome. When you abuse of any type of narcotics, it’s highly likely that you have changed the natural chemical balance in your brain. In this case, attending a drug rehab program is essential to find a successful solution.

Chemical imbalance can increase dependence on drugs, and cause you to need larger and larger doses to reach the same high as you continue using. On the other hand, when your body is deprived of the drug for an extended period of time, you may suffer a wide range of negative side effects, which can include but not limited to cold sweats, headaches and shaking.

Overcoming drug abuse and addiction is a difficult and intricate process since drug abuse affects your body both physically and mentally. When overcome by drug abuse, you are unable to think and reason properly which can result in thinking that your drug use is not a problem. Once you have accepted that drug abuse is a problem, it’s extremely difficult to cope and deal with the withdrawal symptoms.

Basic Steps to Recovery

There are a few steps required to start the journey in overcoming drug abuse:

  1. Recognize the problem

This very first step in overcoming a problem is always recognizing that you have a problem and accepting that your actions or behavior is problematic.

This can be a very difficult thing to do, especially after a long time of qualifying the behavior as a choice that you can stop at any time you choose. It takes a great amount of strength to accept the reality of your problem and do something about it.

  1. A want for change

Once you accept that you have a problem, the next step is wanting to change your destructive behavior. Without making excuses, you need to take a good look at your life from an outsider perspective.

Look at the costs involved in your addiction, which are not limited to finances, but also include your health and relationships. Think about the advice you would give yourself if you were an outsider looking in at your life. 

Overcoming Abuse with a Drug Rehab Program

  1. Get help

As if it’s not difficult enough to recognize that you have a problem, approaching someone else to ask for help is just as difficult, especially admitting that you can’t handle the problem on your own. There is a huge misconception that asking for help is a sign of weakness.

In fact, asking for help is a sign of great strength and that you have the willpower to get overcome the abuse and become even stronger. The next step would be to find the best drug addiction treatment center available for you.

  1. Find professional help

The only way to successfully overcome drug abuse is to seek professional help. Once you have the support of friends and family, consulting with a professional will give you the facilities and tools to help with addiction. Professionals are well-equipped with the right tools and knowledge to help you detox your body from the drugs to eventually overcome addiction. Once you have dealt with the previous steps, you will be able to start removing drugs from your system and learn how to cope with a new drug-free lifestyle.

Find the proper Drug Rehab Program

At Summit Estate, we have a team of professionals dedicated to problems like the one you’re going through now. Give us a call at (866) 569-9391 to know more about how we can help you change your life for good.

The Best Drug Rehabilitation Is Just the First Step

For many people, this first step into recovery is the hardest. It’s perhaps one of the greatest challenges in a lifetime. Even if you go to the best drug rehabilitation, this is just the beginning of a long, complex process. Many pitfalls and obstacles remain, and those who have just left rehab need to realize that the journey has just begun:

Rehab is not a silver bullet

Many recovering addicts view therapy mistakenly as a magic solution that will solve all their problems. The truth, however, is far more complicated.

Rehab enables a person to have the emotional and psychological ‘’breathing room’’ to begin to fix their problems themselves whilst at the same time providing them with the necessary tools to so, whether that be help in psychological or other medical areas.

Avoiding a (re)-relapse is key

Some people relapse and fall back into their destructive ways. It often takes a relapse for a person to truly decide to fix their issues once and for all. Though the circumstance change from situational and personal differences between different people, some will have to fully reinvent themselves to move on with life.

This includes eliminating toxic relationships and often changing where they live or work. The fact remains that they have made the choice to change their circumstances to avoid a repeat of the same destructive actions/environments.

recovering addict

Mental Health is Physical Health

Many recovering addicts were addicted because of some psychological issues and the problems associated with them. Depression can cause insomnia and an eating disorders. This may lead to physical conditions like anorexia, for example.

Receiving counseling of some kind after rehab is strongly advised. Fixing/managing the issue that was causing dependence is the only real long-term solution to not becoming an addict again.

Medication may be necessary

Whether it is for physical or mental reasons, consulting with a doctor and a psychiatrist whilst during and also after rehab may be necessary to change one’s lifestyle.

The circumstances of each recovering addict are different even if broad similarities are present, so it is important to consult with those who are there to help about the best course of treatment in both the long term and short term.

A support network

One of the most important factors to consider is if a support network exists. Whether family, friends or a formal ‘’support group’’, not being isolated is a key factor in breaking away from addiction. Preferably all 3 forms of support are available but this is sadly often not the case for many recovering addicts.

The key is to find what works for you. At Summit Estate, we can help you find the best solution for your problem. Please give us a call at (866) 569-9391.

Choosing a Bay Area Rehabilitation Center

For those that are struggling with addiction or have a loved one caught up in drug abuse or alcohol abuse, finding a rehab center to turn to for help can be one of the most important decisions you make in your life. Selecting the right rehab center can be the difference for you between a long and successful recovery or falling back and deeper into addiction and abuse. It is worth the time and effort to consider facilities that provide the best care possible, and when you are choosing a Bay Area rehabilitation center, there are important factors to consider that can help you make the best choice.

Look at the Staff at the Center

An important factor in selecting a center for treatment is to know something about the staff available at the center. Many centers today find themselves understaffed, with a very high client to staff ratio. You want a location that offers a lower ratio so that you know you or your loved one is going to get the attention and support that is needed. Look to see what the staff is like, the type of professionals that are available to provide medical care, therapy and the like so you can determine if they can offer you the level of care needed.

Choosing a Bay Area Rehabilitation Center

Look at the Treatment Plans of the Center

When choosing any Bay area rehabilitation center, you want to take a close look to see what type of treatment plans are available to clients. You want to select a location that offers varied and personalized treatment plans so you can be sure you or your loved one get the best help possible. Different facilities offer different treatments, with some only offering outpatient or inpatient programs, while others offer a selection.

The Bay Area Center to Consider

If you are seeking a Bay Area rehabilitation center to help with addiction, consider contacting us here at Summit Estate Recovery Center. We offer one of the finest facilities in Northern California and have the experienced, caring staff and the treatment programs that can provide the specialized care that clients need. You can find out more about us by reading about our facilities and programs here on our website, or you can give us a call at 866-569-9391 and speak with a team member who can answer your questions and provide you with the assistance you need to get you started.

 

The Help Available at the Summit Rehab Center

Drug or alcohol addiction destroys lives and families each day. The longer you or a loved one suffer from an addiction, the harder it may become to overcome the problem and reclaim what has been lost in life. If you or someone you care about it is struggling with an addiction, you know the devastation it can cause, and you want to do whatever you can to get the person you love the help they need. It is important for you to know that help is available here at our Summit Rehab Center, where we work with individuals dealing with addiction in a highly effective manner.

Providing Personalized Care at Our Center

Here at Summit Rehab Center, we are the best drug and alcohol treatment center available in Northern California. We understand that each person deals with addiction differently and that there is no “cookie cutter” approach to treatment that works for everyone. We craft a personalized treatment plan for each individual and have a high staff to client ratio so that you are sure to get the attention you need and deserve for your treatment. This approach for much greater success in treatment and recovery.

The Help Available at the Summit Rehab Center

Care That Goes Beyond the Standards

The care we provide for each client at Summit Estate Recovery Center goes beyond the norm that you may find at other treatment facilities. We start working with our clients from the time that an intervention may be necessary. From that time forward, through admission, detox treatments, and therapy sessions, right through the necessary aftercare, we will be there for you to help you so that you can have the best chance at a successful recovery. We offer several program options, including outpatient treatment and a residential rehab facility, so that you have the options before you that work best for your situation.

Talk to Us about Our Rehab Center

If you would like to learn more about us at Summit Estate Recovery Center and see how our Summit Rehab Center can help you or a loved one, please take the time to review our website and take a visual tour of our facility. If you have any questions or need any help, we have staff available to speak with you 24 hours a day, seven days a week so you can get the help you need. You can phone us at 866-569-9391 to begin the process and learn what we can do to help you.

Inpatient and Outpatient Alcohol Treatment Programs in the Bay Area

Alcohol is something socially accepted and available everywhere. Maybe for this reason, it’s one of the most abused substances in the U.S. Unfortunately, sometimes it’s even glamorized or encouraged through media. For this reason, many people don’t fully understand the danger that comes along with alcohol abuse.

Summit Estate Recovery Center offers inpatient and outpatient alcohol treatment programs in the Bay Area. Their highly trained experts use tried and true methods in the treatment of alcoholism. The institution offers luxurious locations in order to provide their patients a comfortable, private environment. Such beautiful locations, along with the proper treatment, gives them enough encouragement and stimulation to finally beat the bottle.

inpatient and outpatient alcohol treatment programs in the Bay Area

Different kind of alcohol abuse treatments

People looking for inpatient and outpatient alcohol treatment programs in the Bay Area can find the proper aid at Summit Estate Recovery Center. After admission, the residential alcoholism treatment program starts with a full evaluation. In this evaluation, doctors try to find any co-occurring disorders like anxiety or depression. In those cases, a dual diagnosis treatment is recommended.

After this evaluation, patients receive a medically supervised detoxification. The comfort and safety of Summit Estate Recovery Center’s facilities are very helpful on this matter. Afterwards, patient meet with the clinical staff to create an individualized plan that best suits them. They can also assist to additional, helpful activities like yoga, massage, acupuncture, among others. Inpatient programs might last up to 90 days.

Summit Estate Recovery Center also offers outpatient treatments to fit your schedule. This facility is located in Saratoga, California. In this place, patients can participate in discussion dinners specially coked by an onsite chef. Saratoga’s location also offers one-on-one, family and couples therapy sessions or groups.

Some patients that already went through the inpatient treatment are encouraged to follow outpatient treatment after their 30 or 60 days of therapy. In these cases, it’s necessary the authorization of Summit Estate Recovery Center’s medical staff and substance abuse counselors.

The help you need is a phone call away

Either if you or a beloved one is going through an alcohol addiction, you can receive the help you need at Summit Estate Recovery Center. Its luxurious facilities and expert staff provide the right environment and inpatient and outpatient alcohol treatment programs in the Bay Area. Call at 866-569-9391 to receive more information and talk more about what you’re going through.

Heroin And Opioids Continue To Be A Runaway Problem In Northern California

Heroin And Opioids Continue To Be A Runaway Problem In Northern CaliforniaHeroin and opioid addiction continues to be a growing problem around the globe. Prescription pain relievers are incredibly addictive, damaging lives and increasing overdose death tolls in nearly every state. Opiate and heroin abuse affects the welfare of all societies, including Northern California. The problem in California has reached an all-time high due to low drug prices, easy access to drugs, and lack of awareness. Exploring the drug problem in Northern California can help our community find a solution.

Heroin And Opioids In NorCal: Surprising Statistics

Heroin And Opioids In NorCal- Surprising StatisticsIn 2013, California hospitals treated over 11,500 people suffering an overdose of opiates or heroin – the equivalent of one overdose every 45 minutes. This statistic shows a shocking 63% increase in overdose cases since 2002. Researchers believe this rise is partially due to consistently low prices and plentiful amounts of black tar heroin in California pipelined from Mexico. Every office in the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) in San Francisco reports the dominance of black tar heroin and that it’s easy to obtain.

According to data gathered by the Sacramento Bee, hospitals in rural superior California have the highest rate of opioid overdose patients. The county averages for overdoses per 10,000 residents were the worst in Northern California. Here’s an overview of the greatest county averages in overdoses per 10k residents from 2006 to 2013:

  • Plumas County: 9.1
  • Lake County: 8.8
  • Humboldt County: 8.4
  • Shasta County: 8.1
  • Tuolumne County: 7.5

Local counties faired slightly better on the scale but still had high overdose numbers:

  • Nevada County: 5.1 (400 total overdoses)
  • Yuba County: 4.1 (234 total overdoses)
  • Sacramento County: 3.3 (3,723 total overdoses)
  • Placer County: 3.3 (918 total overdoses)

Overdose Deaths In California

Heroin And Opioids In NorCal- Surprising StatisticsShasta County hospitals helped more than 1,150 overdose patients between 2006 and 2013—more than triple the average for the entire state. The rates of overdoses were also higher than the statewide average in Sacramento County, Placer County, and El Dorado County.

In 2013, there were a total of 6,108 ER visits due to opioid overdoses—a rise from 3,517 in 2006. The number has steadily increased each year, as have the number of hospital stays. The number of overdose deaths has risen since 2006, but there was a slight drop in 2012. This may be due to people seeking help before their problem gets out of control or advances in how hospitals treat patients suffering opioid overdoses. Still, an average of 1,752 people die from opioid overdoses in California every year.

The Relationship Between Opioids And Heroin Abuse

Recently, there’s been a statewide switch from prescription opioids to heroin, with a particularly high increase among young people. Evidence suggests that as prescription drugs become less available and more difficult to obtain, drug users are shifting to heroin. For example, a downward trend in OxyContin abuse directly correlated with an increase in heroin use in a study by the National Institute of Drug Abuse.

Additionally, drug users will build a tolerance for opiates and prescription painkillers, making them more likely to find heroin, which is easy and cheap to purchase in most major cities in California. In some communities, heroin costs less to purchase than prescription opioids. Between 2005 and 2012, the number of known heroin users in the United States almost doubled, from 380,000 to 670,000.

Unfortunately, the risk of overdosing is increased with heroin when compared to prescription opioids. Heroin addicts can’t control the purity of the drugs they purchase, leading to heroin that may be contaminated or mixed with other, unknown drugs. Previously, heroin use was a problem almost strictly in urban areas. Now, the DEA frequently encounters heroin in small towns and suburbs in California.

Sources Of The Heroin And Opioid Problem In Northern California

California officials attribute the ongoing problem to a number of different variables that have changed over the years. An increased patient awareness of the right to pain relief, various organizations that support the use of large doses of opioids, and aggressive marketing from the pharmaceutical industry have all contributed to the issue. Some doctors prescribe opioids loosely without properly educating patients on the addictive nature of such drugs.

Easy Access To Prescription Meds Through Family

Based on a survey by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the majority of people (54.2%) aged 12 and older who used pain relievers non-medically say that they obtained the drugs from a friend or relative for free—whether by consent or theft. Reducing the number of unused painkillers improperly disposed of may help prevent people, especially young people, from developing a drug addiction. Keeping prescribed pain medications hidden or counting them carefully can also help.

Methods Addicts Use To Obtain Drugs

While only 18.1% of respondents said that they obtained the drugs from one doctor, the 54.2% of people who got them from friends state that 81.6% of their sources got the drugs from one doctor. Patients with addictions can gain access to prescription pain medications relatively easily across the United States. In 2001, there was a movement toward prescribing more opioids, stating that doctors largely undertreated chronic pain. This led to the Pain Treatment Act and Bill of Rights. Since then, doctors have more openly prescribed pain medications for common health complaints without fear of retaliation.

One of the methods addicts use to get their hands on large amounts of opiates and painkillers is “doctor shopping.” Doctor shopping refers to the act of going to multiple doctors and complaining of the same symptoms. A patient may go to one doctor complaining of a health issue, either real or fake, and obtain a legitimate prescription for pain relievers. Then, the same patient will go to a different doctor and do the same thing. Doctor shopping allows addicts to consistently receive a high number of opioids with real prescriptions.

Opioids are available for purchase online, without the need for a prescription, through illegal online pharmacies. Law officials do their best to locate and shut down illegal Internet pharmacies, but they still exist. Online pharmacies may not sell customers prescription-grade opioids, posing an even greater threat to users.

Easy Heroin Availability And Low Prices

Los Angeles is a known collection and distribution point for black tar heroin from Mexico—the primary form of heroin the DEA encounters in Northern California. From there, tight-knit groups transport the drugs to locations in the Central Valley. San Francisco is a significant destination for this heroin, as are San Jose, Redwood City, and East Palo Alto.

Heroin availability has quickly spread throughout California, cropping up in counties such as Sacramento, Placer, Nevada, and Yuba that didn’t previously report heroin problems. The plentiful amount of heroin results in low prices. Prices vary across communities and depending on the purity of the drugs, but heroin typically is less expensive than other addictive drugs. The average cost of 0.1 gram (a single dose) of heroin on the street is only $15.

Effects Of Heroin And Opioid Addictions

Drug addictions can lead to a plethora of negative outcomes, and the price it costs the individual abuser, the community, and the nation as a whole is high. Many drug abusers don’t realize the extensive consequences of heroin and opioid addictions and each drug’s effect on daily life.

Not only do heroin and opioids have devastating mental and physical health effects, but they also cause damages to a person’s finances, employment, quality of life, and relationships. A drug addiction can take over literally every aspect of life until the user has nothing left except his or her addiction.

Effects On The Human Body

Doctors often prescribe hydrocodone and oxycodone in drugs such as OxyContin and Vicodin to treat moderate to severe pain. These medications attach to proteins (opioid receptors) found on nerve cells within the body and brain. These receptors reduce the perception of pain, producing a sense of peace. Opioids can also lead to mental confusion, drowsiness, and nausea. When someone abuses opioids, that person is at risk for serious medical complications such as coma and fatal overdose.

Heroin is well known as a drug with a high risk of overdose. Since there’s no regulation for the drug, most users have no way to know exact dosages or purity levels. Chasing the rush, or the feeling of euphoria, that typically comes with heroin leads users to increase their dosages more and more. Heroin can cloud mental function, slow breathing and heart function, and sometimes result in coma, permanent brain damage, and death.

Costs Of Addiction For The Addict And The Community

Opioid and heroin addictions can severely damage a user’s personal life. Addicts no longer express interest in achieving goals, education, working, or cultivating personal relationships. Relations with spouses, children, parents, and friends suffer—sometimes leading to damages that addicts may never be able to repair. Drugs take over every aspect of life, making it impossible for an addict to see past his or her addiction. With intervention and treatment, addicts can take their lives back. Without treatment, they risk eventually dying from overdose.

The community cost of providing healthcare, emergency services, and treatment programs for heroin and opioid addicts is remarkably high. The Centers for Disease Control ranks California as the number one state in the country for total health care costs from opioid abuse, exceeding $4,263 million in 2013. This was $2,299 million more than the number two state, Texas, which totaled only $1,964 million by comparison. The estimated total cost of opioid abuse in America is $25 billion annually.

California’s Lost Work Productivity

In 2010, illicit drugs cost California more than $15 billion in tangible costs, and though this statistic has yet to be updated, other stats suggest this number is much higher now. This includes $5.321 billion in wage work costs alone. Addicts lose productivity while using and abusing heroin and opioids, losing the desire to go into work, and eventually failing to show up at all. Illegal drug abuse also leads to incarceration, resulting in lost time at work and being terminated from jobs. Business costs also include increased employee turnover and higher insurance costs. The citizens and state economy bear 76% of all tangible costs of substance abuse in California.

Violent Crime Increases Across Counties

Violent crime and property damages are often related to street gangs in California who distribute heroin, among other drugs. Street gangs are involved in crimes such as burglary, assault, auto theft, carjacking, mugging, and home invasion. The U.S. Department of Justice states that much of the violent and property crime is in the Northern California region. This is due to trafficking, group rivalry, and drug abuse. Often, illicit drug abusers commit crimes like robberies to pay for their addictions.

The Northern California High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area program strives to reduce drug trafficking, lowering the impact of illicit drugs like heroin in the ten Northern California counties within its region. Part of the Northern California High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area’s goals is to reduce drug-related crime and violence throughout the area. This program locates major drug threats in each region and implements initiatives to put an end to drug trafficking.

Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome In California

One of the most tragic effects of opioid and heroin abuse in Northern California is the rising number of infants born with neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS), or a dependency on drugs from birth. In 2015, doctors diagnosed about 1,190 California newborns with NAS—up more than 50% from 2014. NAS leads to withdrawal symptoms as the drugs leave the baby’s system, including tremors, vomiting, fever, and restlessness. Neonatal withdrawal is painful for babies, although it doesn’t typically have a long-term effect on their health.

NAS causes lengthy hospital stays compared with normal births, resulting in increased healthcare costs. The average length of stay for a baby without NAS is about 2.1 days, costing around $3,500. In contrast, a baby with NAS has to stay 17 days or longer, costing $66,700. This resulted in an estimated total of $1.5 billion for hospitals in 2012—8% of which state Medicaid programs pay. As the rate of babies born with NAS increases, so does the total cost to California.

Finding A Solution For Opioid And Heroin Addiction

Opioid and heroin have become runaway drugs in California in part due to lack of community awareness and initiative to stop drug abuse. Currently, there are a number of anti-drug campaigns and programs running throughout Northern California, including the Northern District of California Project Safe Neighborhood, a state agency that focuses on areas of high violent crime and drug activity.

Staying on top of the growing trend toward heroin in NorCal and learning what you can do to prevent drug addiction and help current addicts are important steps to take during this time of high drug activity.

Reduce Future Drug Abuse

Addictions can start at an early age, with kids snatching prescription opioids from their parents’ medicine cabinets. Early intervention programs can help put young adults back on the correct path before a drug problem gets out of control and leads to tragedy. Research intervention centers in your area, and learn how to discuss a drug problem with your teenager. Preventing drug-related death, crime, and other tolls starts with spreading awareness to the next generation.

Many Northern California counties have launched community coalitions against drugs. They bring together leaders from the medical sphere, public health department, clinics, law enforcement, and addiction treatment providers to collectively work to decrease drug use and the overprescribing of pain medications within the community. The California HealthCare Foundation recently began an initiative to support new opioid safety coalitions throughout the state. Joining your local coalition can be a fantastic way to support local efforts against addictive drugs.

Support Sufferers And Addiction Research

Research on how best to treat opioid and heroin addictions continues throughout America, leading national recovery center leaders to discover new, more effective ways to reduce withdrawal symptoms and help abusers recover for good. Donate to your local recovery or research center to help further the knowledge industry leaders have about this growing epidemic. Northern California is just one region out of thousands across the country that can benefit from more advanced treatment research.

If you know someone who has a problem with opioids or heroin, learn how you can help them on the road to recovery. Getting past a drug problem is 100% possible with the right mindset and resources. In many cases, your friend or loved one will need an intervention to recognize that he or she has a problem and that treatment is the only solution. Once the addict agrees to seek help, support his or her efforts to embrace treatment and continue on the path to a drug-free life.

Get Professional Help

Drug addictions are complex—especially since there’s a medical component to the problem. Addicts need therapists, recovery programs, support groups, and treatment centers with the right tools and resources to facilitate healing. Thousands of people who have struggled with substance abuse have successfully overcome addiction and led normal, happy lives. Recovery isn’t possible without support from friends and family. Be there for your loved one, and know when to call in a professional for help.

If you feel you’re at risk of becoming addicted to prescription medications, heroin, or any other substance yourself, seek help from a treatment center such as Northern California’s Summit Estate Recovery Center immediately. Treatment centers are no-judgment zones where you can obtain the help you need to prevent or end a drug dependency.

If you would like to learn more news about addiction and drug, read more Summit Estate blogs.

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