The use and abuse of opioids in the United States is a public health crisis, most Americans are aware of the severe death toll from the use of this class of drugs. So, it’s probably not a surprise the White House renewed a previous order declaring the opioid crisis a public health emergency, before it ran out toward the end of last month. Eric D. Hargan, Acting Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, writes:
As a result of the continued consequences of the opioid crisis affecting our nation, on this date and after consultation with public health officials as necessary, I, Eric D. Hargan, Acting Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, pursuant to the authority vested in me under section 319 of the Public Health Service Act, do hereby renew, effective January 24, 2018, my October 26, 2017, determination that a public health emergency exists nationwide as a result of the consequences of the opioid crisis.
The use of any type of opioid can lead to addiction, or worse, overdose. Around a hundred Americans perish each day from drugs like OxyContin, fentanyl, and heroin; naloxone can reverse an overdose, but that’s not always the case—especially when fentanyl is involved. In a short time, synthetic opioids became one of the greatest threats to the drug using public. Fentanyl is regularly added to heroin to boost potency, but it’s done without the user’s knowledge; it’s an ignorance that often results in fatal overdose.
Fentanyl On The Mind
Synthetic opioids are great at killing pain in medically supervised environments. However, the influx of the drug into the U.S. from Chinese laboratories is a major concern. A report from the Senate shows that manufacturers of the drug in China market it online and use the USPS to get it to civilians in the U.S. Once here, fentanyl is stamped into pills resembling OxyContin or simply mixed into batches of heroin—a drug that requires no assistance in being deadly.
Even when fentanyl use doesn’t result in an overdose death, it can wreak havoc on people’s health. Researchers from West Virginia University warn that there is an association between fentanyl and severe memory loss, according to Health Day. More than a dozen patients exhibited signs of short-term memory loss after using fentanyl alone or with stimulants. Their brain scans showed lesions on the hippocampus, a region of the brain responsible for memory.
“They all have difficulty learning new information, and it’s pretty dense,” said Marc Haut, chair of West Virginia University’s department of behavioral medicine and psychiatry. Every day is pretty much a new day for them, and sometimes within a day they can’t maintain information they’ve learned.”
Haut says it’s possible the patients experienced overdose prior to the symptoms of amnesia arising, the article reports. He points out that such individuals do not recover quickly and may not fully regain their short-term memory.
“We talk a lot about people who don’t survive overdoses, but we aren’t talking about people who survive repeated overdoses and the impact that might have on them and their functioning,” Haut said. “If their memory is really compromised, it’s going to be hard for them to learn a new life that doesn’t involve drugs.”
Opioid Use Disorder Treatment
Painkillers, synthetic opioids, and heroin carry severe risks; if you are addicted to opioids of any kind, please contact Synergy Group Services. We can help you overcome the cycle of addiction and give you the tools for living a life of lasting addiction recovery.
Methamphetamine, or Crystal Meth, is a powerful stimulant that was a significant problem in the United States at the turn of the century. The drug and the efforts of law enforcement to control its use became a considerable focus for America. Even pop culture grabbed ahold of it, leading to the award-winning television show Breaking Bad, showcasing a dying chemistry teacher’s infamous blue meth.
Most adults in America have a pretty low opinion of methamphetamine. A series of public service announcements painting a very grim picture of the drug and what it does to stimulant addicts left scarring images in peoples’ minds. You have to remember that meth in the early 2000’s was laden with toxic chemicals. The product was made by a crude synthesis of over-the-counter cold medicine and just about any caustic compound available to the chemist.
The effect of meth on users was varied, but the drug was guaranteed to rot one’s teeth away before their eyes and give addicts a jaundiced appearance. Internally, the drug wreaked havoc, damaging a host of organs. Highly addictive, meth users would resort to criminal acts to maintain their habit. In the mid-2000’s, lawmakers pushed for action, and it had the desired effect for a change, mostly.
The Return of The Meth
Thanks to campaigns to educate Americans and reign in methamphetamine use, the prevalence of the drug ebbed. Laws restricting the sale of vital ingredients used in home meth labs made making meth here in America exceedingly more difficult. One could say that meth labs across the country nearly disappeared and methamphetamine use rates declined; however, the drug itself is still a real problem in the U.S., and in some ways, it’s an even bigger problem.
American meth labs all but disappeared, methamphetamine production on the other hand skyrocketed. Cartels south of the border took it upon themselves to fill the market gap created by policing homegrown meth. Today’s meth is produced in “super labs” in Mexico, and the finished product smoked, snorted, and injected in America is around 100 percent pure. The drug once again has reared its ugly head in Florida.
As of December 29, 2017, the Miami-Dade’s crime lab had identified 267 cases of crystal meth, the Miami Herald reports. Total seizures last year were three times more than five years ago, and tests show that the cartels are not “watering down” their product. Users are consistently buying meth that is nearly 100 percent pure.
“With the much stronger meth, there is a higher rate of psychosis and overdoses,” said David Fawcett, a South Florida therapist. “People are getting addicted sooner.”
Stimulant Addiction Treatment
Methamphetamine is incredibly addictive; without help, recovery is difficult to find. At Synergy Group Services, South Florida’s choice for holistic addiction treatment, we can help you or a loved one break the cycle of stimulant addiction. Please contact us today to begin the life-saving journey of recovery.
The holiday season officially begins just one week from tomorrow, with Thanksgiving next Thursday. While the holiday season can be a chaotic and stressful time for the average American, it can be exponentially more stressful for the men and women working a program. Holidays have a way of dredging up old memories of a time when drinking and drugging was not problematic, partying with close friends and family from Thanksgiving through the New Year.
It isn’t just people who are new to recovery who struggle when the holidays come around. Even those with a significant amount of sobriety or clean time can find the holidays to be trying. It is vital that even the most seasoned members of the program put their recovery first on Thanksgiving and the subsequent holidays that follow. Remember, your addiction is just waiting for you to slip up, so it can rear its ugly head.
If you are new to recovery, it is likely that your sponsor or recovery peers have told you how important it is to have plans over the course of a holiday. It is often said that idle time is the devil’s handmaiden. It can also be analogous to inviting one’s addiction back into the picture. Those who successfully navigate the holiday waters, without picking up a drink or drug, are typically people who had a plan in place for the day. A schedule that is centered around one’s recovery. Please do not discount the importance of having a plan for Thanksgiving Day.
For those who still have family in their life, make sure that you set and stick to your boundaries when attending dinner. If you find that your boundaries have been crossed, or that the stress of being around family has become too much, there is no shame in leaving the gathering for the sake of your recovery. Once again, your recovery needs at times to be put before family; without one’s recovery, it is likely you won’t have family in your life.
If you are not traveling for the Thanksgiving break, make a point to attend your homegroup as much as possible. Even if you are feeling strong in your recovery, there is a good chance that there is a newcomer who could benefit from your story. Giving back to the program is paramount to keeping your recovery. Those of you who have traveling plans, make sure that you locate the meetings in the area where you will be. Have your cell phone handy at all times so that you can reach out to your sponsor, if you find yourself in a risky situation.
At Synergy Group Services, we would like to wish everyone working a program of recovery a safe and sober Thanksgiving.
While we don’t hear much these days about cocaine because opioid abuse has taken the spotlight for over a decade, many people still use and abuse the drug. In the 1980s cocaine was all the rage, and for a time Florida was ground zero for all the cocaine that came into this country from Colombian cartels. Today, the majority of the cocaine used in the United States is brought into the country by the Mexican cartels, and while people may use less cocaine now than in decades past – the drug remains as one of the most popular drugs among young adults.
The drug elicits short-term euphoric feelings, increased energy and talkativeness. People high on the drug have heightened heart rates and blood pressure. The drug loses its effect relatively quickly, which causes users to do more and more to keep the desired feeling. Just because the euphoria diminishes does not mean the drug is out of one’s system, continued use can lead to emergencies.
In recent years there have been a number of studies conducted regarding the effects of the drug on the brain, some of which focused on finding new drugs for treating cocaine addiction. A new study has found that heavy cocaine use can have a serious impact on the brain, actually causing brain cells to destroy themselves – through a process called autophagy, Medical News Today reports. The research will be published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Brain cells have built-in mechanism for self-destruction, which are necessary if cells have problems and stop working properly, according to the article. When cells digest and recycle waste matter, it is known as autophagy; heavy use of cocaine can cause autophagy to kick into overdrive. On top of disposing of cell waste, the substance can cause autophagy to eat essential cell components.
“Autophagy is the housekeeper that takes out the trash – it’s usually a good thing,” says Dr. Prasun Guha, a postdoctoral student at Johns Hopkins University. But cocaine makes the housekeeper throw away really important things, like mitochondria, which produce energy for the cell.”
The researchers at Johns Hopkins hope that further research will result in the development of treatments that protect not only adults, but babies as well. If you are struggling with addiction, please contact Synergy Group Services.
When most people consider retirement, historically climate was one the top concerns – particularly sunshine. In the past, retirees looked to Florida or Arizona as optimum states to spend their later years. It seems that the times are changing, and retirees are thinking less about sunshine and more about marijuana. Many retirees are considering marijuana laws when they choose their next move, Reuters reports.
At the University of California, Los Angeles a professor of public policy, Michael Stoll, says “There is anecdotal evidence that people with health conditions which medical marijuana could help treat, are relocating to states with legalized marijuana.” Stoll, who studies retiree migration trends, points to the United Van Lines 38th Annual National Movers Study as evidence.
The study showed that Oregon was the top moving destination in 2014, according to the article. In November, Oregon voted to legalize marijuana for recreational use, and the law went into effect on July 1, 2015. Oregon isn’t the only state where marijuana is legal that retirees are moving to, Colorado had the highest percentage of people moving there to retire.
“In Colorado, since legalization, many dispensaries have seen the largest portion of sales going to baby boomers and people of retirement age,” said Taylor West, deputy director of the Denver-based National Cannabis Industry Association.
While there many different opinions floating around regarding the medical benefits of the drug, or lack thereof, many seniors claim that the drug helps.
“A lot of the things marijuana is best at are conditions which become more of an issue as you get older,” said West. “Chronic pain, inflammation, insomnia, loss of appetite: All of those things are widespread among seniors.”
Whether retirees are searching for pain relief or nostalgia, it is important to keep in mind that the drug holds the potential for abuse.
At Synergy Group Services we offer individualized treatment plans for addiction recovery.