Author - BHOPB

holistic treatment approach

Holistic Treatment vs. Traditional Treatment

Like many other diseases, addiction can be treated through a variety of options and there are many factors that come into play when determining the best level of care.

Everyone will experience a unique journey through recovery and there are many benefits to holistic addiction treatment as well as a more traditional route.

The addiction experts at our drug rehab in Palm Beach explain the differences between holistic treatment and traditional treatment for any addiction that is present. There are numerous benefits for both options and through professional care you will be able to start over and fully recover from addiction. If you are in need of addiction treatment in Palm Beach, read on to understand the different approaches to treating this disease.

(more…)

Read more...
New year in recovery

How to Start the New Year off Strong in Recovery

With any start to a new year, this is the perfect opportunity to start fresh and to set realistic goals for yourself.

A new year is the symbol for hope and new beginnings and if you are a newly recovering addict, this is a crucial time in your recovery journey. It’s so important to start this year off with an action plan for how you will preserve your sobriety. You can learn the tools for success in addiction treatment, but it’s how you apply these tools in the everyday setting that truly matters. At Behavioral Health of the Palm Beaches, we understand the importance of setting attainable recovery goals for the new year. We provide individualized addiction treatment services in Palm Beach for all who are battling with substance abuse.

(more…)

Read more...
holiday season- avoiding drug cravings

How to Avoid Drug Cravings this Holiday Season

While the holidays are filled with numerous celebrations and happy moments with your loved ones, recovering addicts may have a hard time navigating this time of year.

The holiday season can spark triggers when individuals encounter parties and celebrations with alcohol, and this may bring about a great deal of stress. You also may feel extra pressure to make the holidays perfect and this can lead to a potential relapse. You can still enjoy the holidays this year while maintaining your sobriety, and there are ways to avoid drug cravings. Behavioral Health of the Palm Beaches is here to help you stay on track this holiday season, and here we provide tips for avoiding drug cravings. A sober holiday season is possible!

(more…)

Read more...
professional treatment for addiction

Why Professional Treatment is Needed for Addiction

While some people think that addiction is a moral failing, this is not the case. Addiction is a struggle that can be perceived as a disease, and the physiological manifestations of addiction reinforce this opinion.

Studies show that when someone is an addict, their brain has a deficit in the function of the prefrontal cortex – the region of the brain responsible for reasoning, reward, and more [1]. When someone is an addict or alcoholic, their prefrontal cortex does not understand how to properly respond to stress [1]. Many argue that this is a learning disorder more than a disease, in which a person’s mind and body have learned to count on substance abuse rather than other natural coping mechanisms. Whether you consider addiction to be a learning disorder, a disease, or an unfortunate circumstance, professional treatment for addiction is key. (more…)

Read more...

Former Cardinal Newman star who’s NFL career was cut short is now saving lives

Philadelphia, PA (CBS12) — Chris T Jones took Philadelphia by storm in 1996. The receiver from Cardinal Newman High School and the University of Miami seemed to be on the path of to be a superstar wide receiver.

But it all fell apart for him. Now. instead of being an NFL legend, he’s helping others.. whose lives are falling apart

Jones works as a supervisor for Behavioral Heath of the Palm Beaches,a drug rehabilitation program, helping those that have lost their way get back on their feet. It’s a process that the West Palm Beach native has lived through himself.

In 1996, Jones was one of the best receivers in the NFL, and was poised to sign a big contract to stay with the Philadelphia Eagles. One day during the preseason he was offered a 5 year, 15 million dollar contract.

I turned it down that day,” says Jones. “And that evening, we were playing the Baltimore Ravens, and I got tackled (and injured my knee), and I didn’t even have to be in there.

Jones never got his big contract, and his knee never was the same. Then another similar hit two preseasons later ended his NFL career.

“I had days that I went into depression from the drinking, abusing the medication, hanging out with the wrong crowd.”

But over time, Jones found a way to deal with that depression. “You ask yourself why me? But I’m a faith based individual, and I turned to God, and I guess that’s not my calling.”

Jones has found that calling now. He may not have been able to pick himself off that Veterans Field turf, but now he’s helping to pick up those that have hit rock bottom. A much more admirable feat than scoring touchdowns.

Despite playing just one full season in the NFL, Chris T. Jones remains in the NFL record books. He and receiver Irving Fryar combined for 158 catches, which remains tops in Eagles history for a receiving tandem.

 

Read more...
Eliminating Stigma From the Inside Out

Eliminating ‘Stigma’ From the Inside Out

Eliminating Addiction Stigma

We seem to be constantly trying to change the public’s perception of substance use disorders and of people with substance use disorders. At best progress is slow. The terms “stigma” and “shame” have a lot in common. “Stigma” may be what is inflicted upon us by others. “Shame” is what we carry.

We’ve been trying to change the world. That’s hard to do. It’s easier to “have the courage to change the things we can.” Is it possible that we create at least some of the “shame” that feeds the stigma? It’s possible that we do.

(more…)

Read more...
photo of a young man holding his head with his hands

Social Anxiety Disorder and Alcohol Use: I’m SAD! I need a drink!

Being sad is one thing, but suffering from social anxiety disorder (SAD) is a totally different ball game. This is the same way that “wanting” a drink differs from “needing” a drink. When joined with problem drinking, this forms a lethal combination.  For a long time, experts have witnessed that people with anxiety disorders are susceptible to substance abuse and vice versa, but determining which one is the preceding problem has been a stumbling block for diagnosis.

More than just shyness

An individual suffering from social phobia, also known as social anxiety disorder (SAD), has a distinct and sometime irrational fear or anxiety about specific circumstances. According to WebMD, some of these situations include:

  • Speaking in public
  • Eating or drinking in front of others
  • Writing or working in front of others
  • Being the center of attention
  • Interacting with people (i.e. dating, attending parties, etc.)
  • Asking questions or giving reports in groups
  • Using public toilets
  • Talking on the telephone[1]

What causes SAD? Many researchers believe that it might be related to the abnormal functions of the brain circuits that regulate fear and anxiety. Genetics is also thought to play a part in its roots, since social phobia occasionally runs in a family. Other factors include stress and environment.[2]

The fear of making a mistake or humiliating oneself in front of others can be debilitating to a person with SAD. Taking a drink to calm one’s nerves is often used as a coping mechanism.

More common and costly than you think

Anxiety disorders, which affect over 40 million adults (or approximately 18 percent of the population), are the common mental illnesses in the United States.[3] According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, an estimated 15 million Americans suffer from SAD.

The disorder often surfaces during the teenage years or early adulthood and is more prevalent in women than men. Although highly treatable, sadly, only one-third of those suffering seek professional treatment.[4]

The economic costs associated with anxiety disorders in the United States are overwhelming. In the 1990, the costs were estimated to be around $46.6 billion. The majority of the expenditures was tied to the loss and reduction of productivity and other indirect costs, instead of treatment.[5]

Symptoms and signs

The symptoms that a person who is suffering with SAD experiences can vary and be difficult to distinguish from other health issues, such as depression and obsessive compulsive disorder. These individuals tends to have negative thoughts about themselves and what will happen to them in social situations. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, some of the common signs are:

  • Anxiousness – especially about being with other people
  • Self-consciousness – worried about how they are perceived by others
  • Extreme fear of embarrassment
  • Excessive worrying – sometimes for days and weeks before an activity
  • Avoidance of places where people hang out in crowds
  • Difficulty establishing and maintaining relationships

Physical signs, which include:

  • Blushing
  • Heavy sweating
  • Increased heart rate
  • Trembling
  • Nausea
  • Hard time talking[6]

Self-medicating

Even after diagnosis, individuals are often leery about seeking professional help. They underestimate the seriousness of their condition and believe that they can fix the problem themselves. Instead of seeking mental health treatment, alcohol and other substance are often used for self-medicating an anxiety disorder. Researchers are investigating just how frequently people are using and abusing self-destructive alternatives to deal with SAD and other anxiety-based disorders.

Individuals self-medicating an anxiety disorder are two to five times more likely to develop an alcohol or drug problem within three years.

A 2011 longitudinal study that includes almost 35,000 U. S. adults revealed that 13 percent of those who had consumed alcohol or drugs during the previous year had done so in order to relieve anxiety, fear or panic. It also found that individuals with a diagnosed anxiety disorder who were self-medicating at the beginning of the research were two to five times more likely to develop an alcohol or drug problem within three years than people who did not self-medicate.[7]

Other results from the three-year study showed that the number of people with an anxiety disorder who developed a substance problem varied depending on the self-medicating substance:

  • With alcohol use – 13 percent developed an alcohol problem
  • With recreational drugs use -“ 10 percent developed a drug problem

A drink won’t help

One of the most frequent self-medicating techniques is alcohol consumption. Individuals turn to alcohol because it help them feel more in control of a given situation or encounter. It also lowers inhibitions and reduces self-consciousness.  In some social gatherings, such as parties and mixers, alcohol is available in abundance.

A 2012 study at Emory University investigated the relationship between SAD and the motives for drinking. The researchers believed that the reasons for drinking are based on the fact that people drink in order to achieve an outcome that is of value to them. The motives can be categorized as:

  • Social: Drinking to aid camaraderie
  • Enhancement: Drinking to have more confidence or to enhance the impact of another drug
  • Coping: Drinking to cope with or escape from stress

The results showed that 13 percent of the participants met criteria for SAD at some point during their lives. It was determined that SAD was a predictor of coping drinking motives, but was not a predictor for social or enhancement motives. The research also revealed that other mood disorders (i.e. depression, panic disorder, and generalized anxiety disorder) also lead to coping drinking motives. [8]

Short-term solution, long-term problems

Self-medicating anxiety with alcohol makes things worse in the long term.Drinking alcohol is only a short-term solution for suppressing anxiety. Initially, drinking may make an individual suffering from SAD have less tension and feel more confident in social situations. However, once the “buzz” wears off, the old anxiety returns. Dr. James M. Bolton, lead researcher in a 2011 study about the effectiveness of alcohol in treating anxiety, stated: “People probably believe that self-medication works. What people do not realize is that this quick-fix method actually makes things worse in the long term.” [9]

Alcohol is a depressant and has an overall detrimental effect on the central nervous system. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, regular alcohol use can lead to long-term health problems such as:

  • Stretching and drooping of heart muscles (cardiomyopathy)
  • Irregular heartbeats (arrhythmias)
  • High blood pressure
  • Liver disease/inflammations
  • Certain cancers (mouth, esophagus, throat, liver and breast)
  • Weaken immune system [10]

Additionally, alcohol can interfere with the thinking process. Drinking a couple of glasses wine before a presentation may seem like a way to lessen tension. However, that consumption can lead to making errors and possibly fumbling through the talk, which could increase the anxiety for any future communications. Thus, this compels the anxiously-minded individual to drink even more alcohol and starts a vicious cycle that is difficult to break.

Alcohol is not the answer

If you suffer from SAD, don’t make the mistake of trying to eliminate your problems with alcohol SAD is a psychological disorder and should be treated by medical professionals.  Treating SAD with alcohol leads to additional problems that can destroy relationships with families and friends.

If you or a loved one has already started self-medicating with alcohol, the experts at Behavioral Health of the Palm Beaches can help. With nearly 20 years of experience, our doctors can develop a treatment program that gives you better options to deal with your anxiety issues. Alcohol is not a safe and healthy way to deal with anxiety. Call us at (888) 432-2467 for healthier possibilities.

Read more...
people sitting in a circle during a group therapy session with superimposed text that reads enter to win

SMART/12-Step: It’s not a contest.

A few months ago we began to offer a weekly meeting of SMART (Self-Management and Recovery Training) at Seaside Palm Beach as another tool in the arsenal that a person in recovery can use to maintain abstinence from addictive behaviors.  Twelve-step recovery meetings continue as they always have. The weekly Smart meeting has become popular. I can say that a number of people have integrated SMART into their long range plan for continued abstinence.

I was a little bit surprised at the impression a few people had of SMART even before we offered to first meeting. One person said “when I get to the point that I really want to drink I’m not going to do a cost-benefit analysis.” He’s probably correct. However, as I pointed out, “you’re not likely to call your sponsor either.” It doesn’t matter if a person is using 12-step recovery, SMART, or some combination, the reason we use meetings for support is so we don’t get to that point.

It is true that where 12-step recovery is based on spiritual principles SMART is based on Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). A SMART facilitator may tell the group that “spirituality is not part of the SMART program.”

I’m a SMART facilitator and a long time believer in 12-step recovery. I’m good at manipulating. So, if a person brings up “spirituality’ at one of my SMART meetings I will ask “what are the needs you are looking to fulfill?” I will then gladly put items such as belongingness,” “rootedness,”  “the desire to be a part of something bigger than oneself” on the agenda for the evening.

It also occurs to me that if there’s no need for a Higher Power, what do you call a group of people supporting each other?

On the other hand, “came to believe….” seems fairly cognitive to me.

There are clearly people who object to 12-step’s religiosity. Probably the worst thing someone can do is tell another that 12-Step is not religious.” It is! I’ve often wanted to tell non-believers to “get over it.”  Most of the time they don’t. So for some people SMART may be the only social support for recovery. That would be great if SMART was as geographically available as is 12-step recovery. It’s not even close.  Fortunately, SMART has a great website (www.smartrecovery.org).

Great websites are also available to support 12-step recovery (www.intherooms.com ).

Bottom line is that SMART is not something that is offered instead of 12-step recovery. It’s “in addition to.”

Is an addiction a disease? SMART recovery does not take a position. Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) makes reference to an allergy to alcohol. Does it make a difference when it comes to maintaining abstinence? Probably not. In any case, it’s unlikely that a group of recovering people is going to settle an issue. It takes a lot of energy to maintain abstinence. Leave the argument to scientists.

The goal of SMART recovery is abstinence from addictive behaviors. It does not advocate moderation. It is true that SMART meetings are open to people who have not yet decided to abstain from addictive behaviors. People who have yet to make that decision are welcome providing they are not disruptive.

AA is open to anyone with a “desire not to drink.”AA is open to anyone with a “desire not to drink.” AA is likely to attract some people still engaged in the addictive behavior. They need to have the desire. That’d not a stipulation of SMART recovery.

Point is that both SMART and 12-step recovery may attract people who are still using. I think that SMART attracts a few more. Whether that’s a positive or a negative is debatable.

What’s not debatable is that SMART is less shaming. People who find labeling (“my name is …….., I’m a…..”) will feel much more comfortable at SMART.

In 12-step recovery there’s an emphasis on “powerlessness.”  SMART emphasizes being “empowered.” The difference may not be as great as it seems. It can be argued that accepting “powerlessness” over an addictive behavior actually frees you up. A good number of people will reject this argument.

I see pluses and minuses regarding SMART’s use of trained facilitators. The thirty hour on-line certification process is very well done. My experience has been that SMART facilitators are very professional. I’m not sure that the thirty hour process screens out people who shouldn’t be facilitating groups.

I believe that participants in a SMART group attribute skills to a facilitator that go beyond what the facilitator is trained to perform.

However, sponsors in 12-step programs are frequently seen as having magical powers.

The thing to remember about 12-step and SMART is that they are both support groups, not professional help.

So what does it come down to? My belief is that when a person is ready to give up an addiction petty arguments about whether one support group being spiritual and another cognitive will go away. That being said, a person has to start somewhere. Whether it’s 12-step or SMART it really doesn’t mater. A person working a strong recovery will find comfort in both.

Read more...
photo of a closeup of person's eyes and forehead covered in many different color paints

The Myth of Drugs and Creativity: Mental Illness’ Role in the Using Artist

Drugs and CreativityThe writer sits at his table, a drink in hand and ready for the downing. The painter stands at her canvas, having recently smoked a bliff, and contemplates the pigments on the surface of her latest work. The musician runs on stage, revved up on coke and ready to wow the crowd.

Whether touted as an emblem of counter-cultural freedom from the restrictive thinking of mainstream society or reputed to stimulate the imagination, drugs and alcohol have been linked with the artistic process for some time now. Both celebrated and aspiring creatives often dabble in drugs at one point or another in their lives. Though emerging from different walks of life, many artists fall into a tradition that began well before the 20th century and that has been maintained by legends like Pablo Picasso, The Beatles, and most recently Prince. Cocaine, methamphetamines, marijuana, alcohol – these are all part of the artist’s toolkit, right?

Not exactly.

A Myth That Enables Addiction

This common trope of drugs as elixirs of creativity is misleading and, when taken too far, irrevocably harmful. America’s favorite horror author Stephen King, who famously struggled with alcoholism and a number of drug addictions throughout his life, has no patience for those who claim that drugs inspire creativity.[1] As he states in On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, “The idea that the creative endeavor and mind-altering substances are entwined is one of the great pop-intellectual myths of our time.” The mystique that drugs hold in society is just that — an illusion.

the idea that the creative endeavor and mind-altering substances are entwined is one of the great pop-intellectual myths of our time.

When it comes down to it, King goes on to argue, artists who claim to use illicit substances to stir their creative juices are more-or-less trying to justify their inclination toward such self-destructive behavior. “But I need it to write!” or “I can’t express myself artistically without it” are not valid excuses but are instead symptomatic of a larger problem at hand: abuse and/or addiction. Drugs don’t make artists — they break them.

Stress and its Many Sources

Connection between drugs, alcohol and creativityThough those who abuse and become addicted to drugs are not one in the same and range in socioeconomic status, race, gender and other qualities, what they often do share is stress. Unstable households, physical pain or the pressures from school or work are stressors that can drive individuals to self-medicate through available drugs.

However, mental illness is one of the most prominent sources of stress that pulls people toward abusing substances in attempt to relieve or cope with their conditions. In fact, approximately a third of all individuals who experience a mental illness and about half of people living with severe mental illnesses also have substance abuse issues, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI).[2]

For reasons not yet fully understood, rates of mental illness are also high among artists, and understanding this link may help explain why so many artists are drawn toward drugs.

Mentally Ill or Creatively Inclined? The Two Often Go Hand-in-Hand

bipolar disorder and creativityWhile the belief that creativity is dependent on drugs is, as King put it, just a “pop-intellectual myth,” the stereotype of the tortured artist does have some credence (though is certainly not all-defining). A body of research suggests that there is a strong link between mental illness and creativity. In 2012, Sweden’s Karolinska Institute found that, “People in creative professions are treated more often for mental illness than the general population.” [3]

In one of the most comprehensive studies conducted in this field, the researchers used a registry of psychiatric patients listed for over the past 40 years, containing data on nearly 1.2 million Swedes and their relatives. Analyzing patients with a variety of diagnoses, ranging from schizophrenia and depression to ADHD and anxiety syndromes, they saw that bipolar disorder was the most prevalent among people with artistic and scientific professions, including dancers, researchers, photographers and authors.

The creative figure of the author, however, seemed to be especially burdened by mental disorders more-so than other individuals, artistic or otherwise. The study stated that ‘authors suffered from schizophrenia and bipolar disorder more than twice as often as the general population.’ [4] They were also more likely to be diagnosed with depression and anxiety disorders, and they also had a greater tendency to commit suicide.

Abusing Drugs to Cope with Mental Illness

emotional pain and artSo, we know the facts: a considerable number of artists experience mental illness. Since those who are mentally ill often abuse substances or have substance use disorders, according to the NAMI statistics, it stands to reason that many artists also have drug problems. Though some try to convince themselves that their lingering, preoccupying desire for another hit is a testament to their creative genius, the real story is that many artists cling to substances for a false sense of stability. They want to relieve the distress of their mental disorder left untreated, and too often they turn to drugs as a way of coping. But this only harms them in the long run.

What starts out as a casual experiment can quickly turn into abuse when an illicit substance temporarily dulls emotional pain or provokes euphoric feelings of delight in the user. Eventually, the body and mind can become so dependent on the drug that the user continues to abuse it in order just to function. This is when addiction sets in.

Case Study: Eminem’s Descent into Drug Addiction and His Sober Awakening

Take Eminem, one of the most versatile and provocative artists of the rap and hip-hop world. Though only revealed later in his career in 2008 that he has been grappling with bi-polar disorder for most of his life, his feelings of raw anger and emotional instability were exceedingly clear in his lyrics.[5] He also suffered from prescription pill addiction and even nearly died from an overdose at one point, according to MTV News.[6]

“It’s no secret I had a drug problem,” he was quoted admitting. “If I was to give you a number of Vicodin I would actually take in a day? Anywhere between 10 to 20. Valium, Ambien, the numbers got so high I don’t even know what I was taking.”

Eminem drug addictionAnd how did he get so hooked? Through the psychological and physical relief that the substances instilled in him, countering the near-constant emotional instability that he experienced from his mental illness. “When I took my first Vicodin, it was like this feeling of ‘Ahh.’ Like everything was not only mellow, but [I] didn’t feel any pain,” Eminem says in the documentary How To Make Money Selling Drugs, quoted by MTV News.[7]

“I don’t know at what point exactly it started to be a problem. I just remember liking it more and more. People tried to tell me that I had a problem. I would say, “Get that f____g person outta here. I can’t believe they said that sh_t to me.”

As Eminem’s addiction worsened, his motivation, physical health, and even his ability to string words together deteriorated. MTV News writes that at his lowest the drugs shut off his brain and made him so lazy he preferred watching TV to making new tracks.[8]

After seeking treatment and remaining sober for a year, Eminem came back to the recording studio. In 2009, he released Relapse: an album that openly discussed his struggle with addiction. But he comments that during Recovery, an album released a year later, is when he really began to repair the damage that the drugs took on him despite how impossible it felt at times.

“I had to learn to write and rap again, and I had to do it sober and 100 percent clean,” Eminem told MTV News. “That didn’t feel good at first. I mean it in the literal sense. I actually had to learn how to say my lyrics again; how to phrase them, make them flow, how to use force so they sounded like I meant them. I was relearning basic motor skills. I couldn’t control my hand shakes. I’d get in the [recording] booth and tried to rap, and none of it was clever, none was witty and I wasn’t saying it right.”

Yet he did it, creating an award-winning album that stands as a testament to how only sobriety can unlock the true potential of an artist.

Let Our Treatment Help You Find Your Creative Flow Again

Eminem\’s Recovery is dedicated, “Anyone who’s in a dark place tryin’ to 2 get out. Keep your head up… It does get better!”[9] We couldn’t have said it better ourselves.

I actually had to learn how to say my lyrics again; how to phrase them, make them flow, how to use force so they sounded like I meant them.

Though the confusion, frustration and emotional agony that can come along with an untreated mental illness and drug addiction can seem insurmountable, there is a way out. Behavioral Health of the Palm Beaches’ dual diagnosis program is sensitive to the hardships unique to both mental health and substance use disorders, and our professionals are experienced in treating both conditions simultaneously.

At our facilities, artists can also continue creatively expressing themselves as a way of working through their conditions. We offer art therapy, music therapy, and expressive writing therapy for those who want to discover what it means to be creative while sober.

Don’t let drug addiction get in the way of what’s important in your life. Contact us at 888-432-2467 to learn more about our addiction help and mental health treatment options and how we can help you or a loved one find the courage to recover.

Read more...
photo of a young woman looking at fentanyl pills

How Worried About Fentanyl Should You Be?

If you had never heard about fentanyl before the results of Prince\’s autopsy were revealed, you are not alone. The drug has been around for more than 30 years, but has managed to fly below the radar of most everyday Americans. Unless you are suffering from excruciating pain after surgery or from advanced cancer, fentanyl has probably been completely invisible to you. With the news now popping up about the number of fentanyl-related overdose deaths, how worried should you be?

Journey to the U. S.

Fentanyl is currently a Schedule II synthetic opioid used to treat chronic pain.[1] But this drug did not get its start in this country. It was first synthesized by Dr. Paul Janssen in 1960 in Belgium.[2] He and his group of chemists were attempting to develop analgesics (pain relievers) that would easily migrate into the central nervous system (CNS). The initial batches of fentanyl, which were produced for intravenous uses, were 100 – 200 times more potent than morphine in the animal subjects tested. Initially, Dr. Janssen would not get U. S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval for fentanyl because of its potency. After a merger with Johnson and Johnson and the agreement to only use fentanyl in combination with other drugs, it was introduced to the U. S. in 1968. In 1972, fentanyl was approved for standalone use.[3]

A Patch, a Pill, a Snort and a Squirt

Initially, fentanyl was introduced as an injectable under tradename Sublimaze® in 1968. Since this introduction, it has been modified and reformulated. Currently, pure fentanyl and numerous analogs, which are developed by slight maneuvering of the basic chemical structure, are available. One of the most deadly analogs is acetyl fentanyl, which has been connected to a number of overdoses deaths in the United States.[4]

Pharmaceutical versions include tablets, pills, lozenges, nasal sprays, skin patches and even lollipops.

A distinction should be made between pharmaceutical fentanyl and non-pharmaceutical fentanyl (NPF), which is illicitly-produced and often mixed with heroin and/or cocaine to heighten its effects. Forms of the pharmaceutical versions include tablets, pills, lozenges, nasal sprays, skin patches and even lollipops. They are prescribed for pains associated with cancer, when other opioid medicines have proven ineffective, HIV- associated neuropathy and as an analgesic during and after various surgical procedures, including heart.[5]

Some of the specific brands include:

  • Actiq® – Transmucosal lozenge (Placed between the cheek and lower gum then sucked)
  • Abstral® – Sublingual tablet (Dissolved on the floor of the mouth)
  • Duragesic®- Transdermal patch (placed on a healthy, unbroken skin location)
  • Fentora® – Buccal tablet (placed between the cheek and gums)
  • Lazanda® – Nasal spray

The U. S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) recently issued a warning to law enforcement officials about the handling procedures. The deadly effects of fentanyl can be easily absorbed through the skin or accidentally inhaled if the powder becomes airborne.[6]

NPF comes from many sources and can be just as deadly as pure fentanyl. On the street, it has been sold as fentanyl, an additive in street heroin or completely camouflaged as another drug.[7] The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), working with other agencies, developed a definition for an NPF-related death. It is defined as one in which:

  • Fentanyl caused or contributed to it
  • No evidence of pharmaceutical fentanyl was presented
  • Toxicology testing confirmed fentanyl in the body[8]

Even pharmaceutical fentanyl can be used for illicit purposes. When patches are not properly disposed, leftover fentanyl gel can be extracted.[9] Guidelines have been established for the correct procedures for fentanyl disposal.[10]

The Path across the U. S.

Fentanyl has taken a circuitous route across the world and the nation since its inception in Belgium over 50 years ago. Abuse of the drug began recreationally in the 1970s,[11] appearing on the streets under names such as Apache, China Girl, China White, Murder 8 and TNT, to name a few.[12] It was initially just stolen from pharmacies, but was eventually used to lace cocaine and heroin to increase profits for illicit drug dealers. According to the CDC, one gram of pure fentanyl can be broken down into 7,000 doses for street sales.[13] The DEA estimates that a kilogram of fentanyl powder can be bought for $3,300 by drug traffickers and sold at 300 times the amount.[14]

Throughout the 80s and 90s, the DEA occasionally discovered illicit fentanyl labs, but the turn of the century and millennium ushered in an explosion of the drug’s popularity.[15] From 2005 – 2007, the CDC reported over 1,000 fentanyl-related deaths.[16] After a spike in fentanyl seizures in 2007, it appeared that the drug had faded away, but it made a strong comeback in 2014, leading the DEA to issue a nationwide alert in March of 2015.[17] Seizures of fentanyl have spiked in New Jersey, Maryland, Ohio, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Florida, New Hampshire and Indiana.[18]

While illicitly produced fentanyl is being brought into the U.S. primarily by Mexican-based drug cartels, they are purchased directly from China, according to DEA reports.14 The drug is so potent that it is prescribed in micrograms instead of milligrams. When a drug with this level of potency is cut into heroin and prescription opioids, the results are often deadly. From 2013 to 2014, there were more than 700 fentanyl overdose deaths in the U.S.18 While Prince’s tragedy may appear to be unique, rising statistics show that it is anything but.

Protect Your Family from Opioid Addiction

One of the biggest differences between an addiction to a prescription opioid and an illicit drug is that a person can develop an opioid addiction by following doctor’s orders. When a person is using prescription drugs for pain over a long period of time, eventually tolerance sets in and stronger drugs and higher doses are needed. It appears this was the unfortunate case with Prince.

If you’ve been taking more and more painkillers to find relief, or you’ve noticed someone close to you taking more prescription meds than seems necessary, it may be time to seek treatment. A tragic overdose is always a possibility when increasingly taking powerful opioids.

Our opioid addiction experts at Behavioral Health of the Palm Beaches are fully versed in the dangers of fentanyl and other opioids and will create a personalized addiction treatment for you or an important person in your life. One of the biggest mistakes people make when dealing with addiction is waiting too long before seeking help. Make sure you and your family don’t make the same mistake by contacting our professionals today at  888-432-2467.

 

 

 

Read more...