Opiate Detox Program

The term “opiate” covers an extremely wide range of drugs, including both prescriptions medications and illicit substances. In recent times, heroin and prescription painkillers have become the most frequently and widely used opiates. This is largely due to the fact that prescriptions painkillers are so easy to obtain. According to the CDC (Center of Disease Control), the number of opioid prescriptions has been climbing rapidly since the early 1990s. From 1999 to 2016, over 200,000 Americans lost their lives to painkiller overdose. While the number of painkiller-related fatalities was high in 1999, it had more than quadrupled by 2016. In 2010 alone, it was estimated that nearly 210 million opiate prescriptions were filled nationwide (prescribing rates peaked between 2010 and 2012).

Unfortunately, because prescription painkillers are legally prescribed, many individuals will overlook their potential for abuse or addiction. If it’s prescribed by a doctor, it has to be safe – right? Unfortunately, the opposite is true. Those that take prescription painkillers for longer than prescribed or in higher doses than prescribed are exceptionally likely to develop a physical and mental dependency. The CDC also reported that in 2017, there were 58 painkiller prescriptions written for every 100 Americans. That means that over half of all American men and women have been prescribed an addictive narcotic painkiller at least once during their lifetimes.

As prescription rates began to climb, cases of painkiller-related addiction also began to skyrocket. Increased fatalities brought about stricter prescribing laws, and the government began to crack down on distribution. Unfortunately, thousands of Americans were already deep in the throws of opioid addiction. Because they were no longer able to obtain painkillers, many switched to a cheaper and far more readily available alternative – heroin. NIDA (The National Institute of Drug Abuse) reports that nearly 80 percent of all individuals who are seeking treatment for heroin addiction first began by abusing prescription painkillers. Unlike painkillers, which are synthetically manufactured, heroin is naturally derived from the seed pod of the opium poppy plant. Regardless of how heroin is used (it can be snorted, injected, or smoked), it enters the brain rapidly, and induces feelings of euphoria. Heroin works by binding to opioid receptors within the brain, and greatly affects heart rate, breathing, and feelings of pain and pleasure. Aside from feelings of euphoria, heroin use commonly causes dry mouth, flushing, decreased motor functioning, and “nodding” (moving back and forth between consciousness and unconsciousness). Long-term use can have much more severe effects, ranging from collapsed veins, liver and kidney disease, and sexual dysfunction to mental health issues, heart failure, and death.

All opiates are highly addictive, and using heroin presents a host of other issues, such as the risk of accidentally injecting fentanyl, which oftentimes lead to respiratory failure, overdose, and fatality. Those who overdose on heroin alone have a much higher rate of resuscitation. In most instances, they arrive to the emergency room alive, where they can be quickly treated with naloxone (an opioid blocker and antidote). If heroin is laced with fentanyl, however, rates a resuscitation are not nearly as high. Because this drug is significantly more potent than heroin, side effects are far more severe, and overdose occurs far more quickly. When fentanyl is involved, the necessary 1 to 2 mg of naloxone jumps to 30 to 5 times that amount.

If you are currently struggling with opioid abuse or addiction, it is extremely important that you seek professional care as quickly as possible. It was reported that in 2016 alone, there were nearly 42,249 opioid-related deaths. Out of all of these fatalities, nearly 50 percent (19,413) were directly related to fentanyl. For more information on opioid abuse or treatment for painkillers, heroin, and other opioid narcotics, please feel free to reach out today.