Profile of a Modern Heroin User


Profile of a Modern Heroin UserIn the 1960’s and 70’s a heroin epidemic gripped the inner city of America. At the time African-American communities were most affected. Other drugs have come in and out of vogue such as cocaine and crack in the 80’s, heroin, meth, and ecstasy in the 90’s, and MDMA (Molly), synthetic marijuana, and heroin once again in the 2000s. But today, the modern epidemic is mostly affecting middle and working class white America in the suburbs and rural communities. Most of those addicted to heroin today are in their early 20’s. They usually start recreationally. Someone swipes a bottle of opioid painkillers, most notably OxyContin from someone’s medicine cabinet. Others take Percocet with booze to increase their buzz. But then they start snorting, smoking, or shooting OxyContin to get a stronger high. Then they get hooked. Since these are prescription medications, many in this age group do not see these drugs as dangerous. Prescription opioids are hard to come by and expensive. The modern day variety too is also abuse-proof. These pills cannot be crushed and snorted, smoked, or shot. So users ultimately switch to heroin which is readily available, and inexpensive.
Most of these 20-somethings drop out of school and cannot hold down a job. They consistently lie, and have stolen all they can to support their addiction. For those who have been hurt by someone who has such a problem, know that it is not them who hurt you. It is their disease. You wouldn’t blame someone with cancer or schizophrenia if their symptoms impacted you. But just as in those cases, a medical professional is required to treat the problem effectively, here the addict must receive holistic treatment from a reputable provider. According to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), Americans no matter their coverage situation have access to treatment. Today, medically assisted rehabilitation including the drugs methadone, Suboxone or Naltrexone are available for a carefully planned, medically assisted recovery that can limit the discomfort of withdrawal. This along with individual and group therapy can give the person the tools they need to remain sober and overcome triggers that could cause a relapse. If someone in your life has a heroin addiction, contact a treatment facility near you to see they get the help they need.

How the Career Minded Should Manage Addiction

How the Career Minded Should Manage AddictionThere are fields that are highly demanding and business owners who never punch out. But these people like anyone else are susceptible to addiction. Many times those who recognize they have a problem say they don’t have the time to get treatment. But eventually substance abuse disorder crowds everything else out. Sooner or later, it will threaten your career or business too. Know where the line is, and admit when you need help. Most people today know that if one does not set boundaries, one’s home life, family life, responsibilities as a spouse or a parent are overwhelmed by the demands of work. Just as one hollows out some time for their family, those suffering from addiction must make time for to help overcome it. You may not be able to put everything on hold and spend three months at an inpatient facility. But you can attend an outpatient program. There are several options including part-day plans. These types of facilities are also generally covered by your health insurance provider. According to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), drug and alcohol treatment must be covered.
Psychotherapy, 12-step programs, and even alternative treatments like acupuncture can help tremendously. Often, there are underlying forces that push one towards addiction. These can be tremendous stress, anxiety, depression, a certain mood or psychological disorder, past trauma, and more. Attending a proper recovery program can help identify and address all of the forces that are causing your substance abuse and help you learn strategies to overcome them. For some outpatient is not enough. They have to attend an inpatient facility. At this point you may have to do some financial gymnastics. If you are a sole proprietor, can you draw from your savings at this time? Can your spouse seek employment? You are certainly an integral part of your business. But as such, what affects you effects it. So it is important to seek help before things spin out of control and you lose more due to the addiction than you bargained for. Call your insurance company, talk to your doctor, find out what your options have, and seek out the help that you need.

New Online System Alerts User to Gambling Addiction

New Online System Alerts User to Gambling AddictionOnline gambling is fun and convenient. But one thing it has inspired is. How can we identify who will become an addict? Or will legions of gambling addicts sink the family savings all from the comfort of their own home? Researchers at City University London along with those at BetBuddy—an online gaming analytics startup, have created a software program that alerts a player of worrisome, addictive behavior. It does so by tracing the players’ habits and comparing them to a dataset collected from former addicted players. The developers are calling it an “early warning system,” designed from the latest research on how gambling addiction occurs and what psychological pathway it is likely to take. Funders for this research included the Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), the Engineering and the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), and the Defense Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL). In the UK each site has to have a self-exclusion option to limit gambling addiction. This software is the key to such an option according to City University Professor Dr. Artur Garcez.

BetBuddy has been there to vet the system and identify addictive behavior earlier on. This ensures safe and responsible online gaming according to Dr. Garcez. The technique the software uses is called “random forests.” When applied to a specific dataset it was found to predict problem gambling patterns with 87% accuracy. The software can even decide whether or not to send certain users advertisements for gaming or not. Online gambling is growing astronomically worldwide. But there are few safeguards in place to make sure that it does not increase the number of problem gamblers. This is not only a great safety feature, it is also one of the first instances of artificial intelligence (AI) helping to mitigate a pressing social problem. Will we be seeing something similar for sites and even gaming establishments in the U.S.? No plans have been announced thus far. In America today, problem gambling has to be addressed the old fashioned way. If you or someone you know has a gambling addiction, be sure to contact a recovery program near you, and find out how you can get them the help they need.

Nicotine Increases Addiction Risk

Nicotine Increases Addiction RiskThe nicotine in cigarette smoke is not what is so harmful for one’s health, though it is addictive. Instead, it is the hundreds of other carcinogens that kill. Due to this, tobacco users who want to quit seek out nicotine gum, the patch, e-cigarettes, and other stepdown methods to make quitting easier. Now a new study published in Neuropsychopharmacology finds that over time nicotine increases the speed at which codeine is absorbed by the brain. It does so by increasing the production of a certain enzyme. It has been known for some time that this enzyme is produced by the liver. But these researchers have now discovered that this also happens in the brain itself. When this occurs codeine turns into morphine—a well-known opiate drug and one from which heroin is manufactured. Those who ingest tobacco therefore or nicotine as part of a cessation model get a higher buzz from codeine which is commonly found in cold medications. The additional conversion gives a person more pain relief too. But the presence of nicotine may also prime the brain to be more susceptible to addiction itself.

Previously, the brain was seen as a target for these substances, passively waiting for them to come and interact with it. But now researchers find that the brain can take a more active role. Enzymes within the brain build up or breakdown substances to increase their effect. Understanding how the brain’s unique metabolism works could give scientists insight into how people react to different drugs or toxins, and even be able to one day predict who is likely to be susceptible to addiction. It could also help tell who may develop certain neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s. In this study a group of laboratory rats were split into four cohorts. The first received nicotine for seven days. The next received propranolol which blocks the enzyme that converts codeine into morphine. The third received both propranolol and nicotine. The last was a control group and received neither. All the rats were then given codeine. Researchers found those who received codeine along nicotine had the greatest pain relief, but were also the most susceptible to addiction. Though treatment options derived from this research are still years away, there are lots of worthwhile options available today for those with substance abuse disorder. If you are struggling with addiction be sure to reach out to an appropriate recovery program near you.

How Can we Overcome the Stigma of Addiction?

How Can we Overcome the Stigma of Addiction?Henry Ford once said, “If you think you can do it, you’re right. If you think you can’t do it, you’re still right.” This is also true for recovery. We now know that substance abuse disorder is a lifelong illness that must be carefully managed. But a stigma persists, one that has been around for decades. In our culture those addicted to drugs or alcohol are automatically seen as criminals, even if they hold down a job, parent their children properly, and are overall pillars of the community. Though there are many who besides hiding their addiction conduct themselves honestly, all addicts are painted with the same broad brush. They are depicted as liars, thieves, and worse. Though the cravings and urges are overwhelming, instead of sympathizing with those who try to fight them, the addict is perceived as weak, even hopeless. And although we now know that there is a scientific basis for how and why someone gets addicted to something, including their genetic and biological makeup, psychological background, and social atmosphere, there are still those today who view addiction as a personal choice.

Many people believe that 12-step programs and others have a low success rate. But how do we know when they employ no metrics to measure their success? Then there is the question of how to measure it. How long does a person need go without drinking or using to be considered successful? Addiction is a day-to-day struggle, and a lifelong illness. There are those who go for years without a relapse. Drinking or using becomes the farthest thing from their mind. Until one day something really bad happens, and they find themselves relapsing. Is this person a success? A failure? These are difficult questions. But since our attitude around addiction is changing, the stigma is also starting to recede. According to recent statistics, about one-third of the U.S. population suffers from some form of substance abuse disorder. This can be anything from drinking too much too often to taking prescription pills for other than their prescribed use. Only about 10% of these seek help for addiction. But many avoid getting help due more than anything to coming out as an addict and admitting the problem. So how can we overcome the stigma of addiction? The best way is to talk about it openly and honestly. And if there is a problem to seek help from a qualified treatment center. Only when we are all courageous enough to speak out and work to undo damaging stereotypes can the stigma finally be eliminated.

Ireland’s New Plan to Battle Drug Addiction

Ireland’s New Plan to Battle Drug AddictionAmerica is not the only country in the midst of an addiction epidemic. Many other countries are wrestling with the same problem including Ireland. This small island nation in the British Isles has one of the highest rates of heroin use in Europe. It also has the third highest heroin-related death rate in the EU. The European Union sees 21 deaths from drug overdose per million people per year. In Ireland it is more than three times as much, 68 per million. Now the Emerald Isle is putting forth a new plan, spearheaded by Aodhán Ó Ríordáin, the Minister of Drugs. The official is pushing for an entirely new way to address addiction including “shooting rooms.” These are safe places provided by the state where addicts can acquire clean needles and use their intoxicants safely without the fear of spreading HIV, hepatitis-C, and other dangerous diseases. The minister cited too that the public is at risk from leftover paraphernalia, which is eliminated with this plan. It also helps prevent dangerous overdoses that take so many lives each year.

According to UK advocacy group Transform Drug Policy Foundation, 596 people in England and Whales died in 2011 as a result of a heroin or morphine overdose. But none died when using their drugs in a sanctioned monitoring facility. No legal consequences will be employed against users in shooting rooms according to the drug minister. Last but not least, the plan could act as an entryway for intervention and treatment. The Irish program is set to launch in Dublin next year. Ríordáin’s program was first proposed after a report released by the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction. In it the body concluded that such rooms would be effective harm reduction method and also provide an opportunity to convince those suffering from addiction to seek help. The minister is also considering legalizing small amounts of marijuana, heroin, and other drugs. Ríordáin said this reflected Ireland’s shift away from the punishment model and toward remediation and treatment. Advocates and activists say America is too, but much more slowly. If you are struggling with addiction no matter where you live, be sure to reach out to a reputable recovery program near you. They have the knowhow and resources to get you the help you need.

Is Big Pharma to Blame for the Prescription Drug Addiction Epidemic?

Is Big Pharma to Blame for the Prescription Drug Addiction Epidemic?A lot of pundits, politicians, and talking heads have put in their two cents on what has caused the opioid prescription drug addiction epidemic that has gripped this nation from the Atlantic to the Pacific. A weakening of traditional values, the stigma of drug addiction, too much pressure on people today, less of a connection to or time with loved ones, a lack of affordable mental health services, the stigma against psychological disorders, poor parenting, and the crumbling of our communities have all been blamed. But until now big business, particularly the drug companies have remained relatively unscathed. Until now. A recent interview with Washington Post columnist Charles Lane has fingered big pharma as the likely culprit. In a Fox News interview, Lane said that this latest addiction epidemic started with prescription pills evaluated by the FDA, prescribed by doctors, and funneling billions of dollars back to the drug companies. Lane contrasts this with the thinking that not going far enough in the War on Drugs was at fault. He puts the problem squarely on big pharma’s shoulders.
Lane claims that the drug companies with help from the government started “pumping prescription opioids into society” while also saying they were not addictive. Of course opioids are derived from the poppy plant, the same place opium, morphine, and heroin come from. Though if taken as prescribed, most doctors say these drugs are not addictive, Lane claims that the ability for these drugs to be taken outside of prescription guidelines or diverted was too easy, but also too apparent for these companies and the government to ignore. Treatment is necessary Lane claims. But to get at the heart of the addiction epidemic, the over prescription of these pills must be addressed. Newer versions have anti-abuse characteristics built in, such as that they cannot be ground up and shot or snorted. But many addiction specialists believe that though it could help prevent would-be addicts from abusing them, it may push those already addicted into the arms of heroin. Lane also claims that big pharma spread misinformation about these medications to keep the money flowing in. Whether or not the government will investigate is yet to be seen. Whoever is to blame, if you or someone you know is addicted to opioid painkillers, contact a well-regarded treatment center in your area, and find out how to get help.