Drug Overdose Deaths At All-Time High

Drug Overdose Deaths At All-Time High

America’s Leading Cause of Accidental Death is Now Prescription Drug Overdose, CDC says

The stories are painfully familiar in American life.

A student athlete injures his leg playing football, gets addicted to opioid painkillers and progresses to heroin.

A suburban mother, the victim of a car accident, finds relief from the powerful narcotic OxyContin. She loses her insurance coverage and switches to heroin to soothe her pain.

Teenagers raid the family medicine cabinet and swap pills at house parties. A few of them begin a deep descent into drug addiction.

America is facing an unprecedented epidemic of prescription drug abuse, overdose deaths and rising heroin use among people addicted to opioids.

More Americans died from drug overdoses in 2014 than any previous year on record, according to a report released this month by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). There were 47,055 drug overdose deaths in 2014 in the United States, an all-time high and a 6.5 percent increase over 2013.

Opioids – primarily prescription painkillers and heroin – were involved in 61 percent of all drug overdose deaths in 2014. The rate of fatal opioid overdose has tripled since 2000, the CDC reported.


 

“Opioid disorders have reached alarming levels throughout our nation, and we must work together to overcome this serious public health threat,” said Kana Enomoto, Acting Administrator of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

“It takes collective effort from all parts of our communities to educate people about this problem and help prevent it,” Enomoto said. “Everyone needs to know how to identify people with opioid disorder, help them find treatment, and know how to help prevent overdose deaths.”

15-YEAR INCREASE IN FATAL OVERDOSES

Death from accidental prescription drug overdose has surpassed car accidents as the leading cause of unintentional death in the United States, according to the CDC. In 2014, there were approximately one and a half times more drug overdose deaths than deaths from motor vehicle crashes, the CDC reports.

The agency notes two interrelated trends: a 15-year increase in overdose deaths involving prescription opioid pain relievers, and a recent surge in illicit opioid overdose deaths, driven largely by heroin.

“These findings indicate that the opioid overdose epidemic is worsening,” the CDC notes in its Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, published January 1, 2016. “There is a need for continued action to prevent opioid abuse, dependence, and death, improve treatment capacity for opioid use disorders, and reduce the supply of illicit opioids, particularly heroin and illicit fentanyl.”

West Virginia had the highest rate of drug overdose deaths in 2014, with 35.5 deaths per 100,000 people, followed by New Mexico (27.3), New Hampshire (26.2), Kentucky (24.7) and Ohio (24.6). Fourteen other states had statistically significant increases in the rate of drug overdose deaths between 2013 and 2014, the CDC noted.

GATEWAY TO HEROIN USE?

Abuse of prescription opioid drugs such as OxyContin and Vicodin is a key reason for increased heroin use, according to drug experts and law enforcement officials.

Both heroin and opioid painkillers are derived from the same opium poppy plants, bind to the same receptors in the brain and have similar euphoric effects. People who are addicted to prescription opioids sometimes turn to heroin as a cheaper, more accessible opioid — although illegal and unregulated.

“The increased availability of heroin, combined with its relatively low price (compared with diverted prescription opioids) and high purity appear to be major drivers of the upward trend in heroin use and overdose,” the CDC notes.

Fatal heroin overdoses have more than tripled since 2010, from 1 death per 100,000 people to 3.4 deaths per 100,000 in 2014. The sharp rise in heroin deaths “is closely tied to opioid pain reliever misuse and dependence,” the CDC says.

Nearly half of young people who inject heroin say they first abused prescription opioid drugs before feeding their addiction with heroin, according to three recent studies by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).

“Many of these young people report that crushing prescription opioid pills to snort or inject the powder provided their initiation into these methods of drug administration,” NIDA reports.

A half century ago, the typical heroin user was a young impoverished teenage boy whose first opioid drug was heroin. Today, the typical user is more likely to be a suburban, white middle-class young adult who previously abused prescription painkillers, according to a study published in JAMA Psychiatry in May 2014.

CALL TO ACTION

To reverse the current opioid epidemic, health experts recommend greater access to naloxone (Narcan), an effective antidote that can reverse an opioid overdose. They also emphasize the need for safer prescribing of prescription opioids and effective treatment for addiction — including medication therapies such as buprenorphine and naltrexone that can reduce strong opioid cravings and prevent relapse.

“Efforts to ensure access to integrated prevention services, including access to syringe service programs when available, is also an important consideration to prevent the spread of hepatitis C virus and human immunodeficiency virus infections from injection drug use,” the CDC notes in its report.

SAMHSA publishes a free Opioid Overdose Prevention Toolkit for first responders, treatment providers and people recovering from opioid overdose. To access the toolkit, which was updated in 2016, click here:

http://store.samhsa.gov/product/Opioid-Overdose-Prevention-Toolkit-Updated- 2016/All-New-Products/SMA16-4742

To learn more about the safe use of prescription opioids — and how to handle an opioid emergency — click here: http://america-starts-talking.com


FREE HELP HOTLINES

1-800-NCA-CALL (800-622-2255) 24-hour helpline sponsored by the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence.

1-800-662-HELP (4357) 24-hour National Drug and Alcohol Abuse Hotline offering treatment referral services to people seeking treatment and other assistance; sponsored by the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment (CSAT)

1-888-957-3422 24-hour hotline providing free, confidential referrals to treatment programs and rehab clinics nationwide. Sponsored by DrugRehab.org.

If you or someone you know needs help finding treatment, contact us today to get help.


 

CDC Puts Out An Alert For An Increase In Fentanyl-Laced Heroin

CDC Puts Out An Alert For An Increase In Fentanyl-Laced Heroin

As reported by Time magazine in July 2015, heroin abuse has increased 63% between 2002 and 2013, while heroin overdose deaths have quadrupled. And more than 8,200 people died from heroin overdoses in 2013 alone.

Recently, there has been an alarming spike in fentanyl-laced heroin overdoses. Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is 30-50 times stronger than heroin and which is commonly mixed with cocaine, heroin, and other drugs. The mixing of fentanyl in heroin increases it potency and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has reported that it has resulted in the rise in accidental overdose deaths.

The Dangers of Fentanyl

Fentanyl is an extremely powerful drug that can rapidly kill those who are abusing it. Fentanyl is 50-100 more times more powerful than morphine and is medically-useful in treating the chronic pain associated with advanced stages of cancer. Unfortunately, its potency has made it a popular drug to “lace” with heroin.

And this problem has gotten worse because drug-makers are now finding fentanyl from non-medical sources. This means that users are potentially getting an unknown concoction of drugs when they use fentanyl-laced heroin, which only increases its danger.

CDC Alert

The rapid rise of fentanyl-laced heroin has recently caused the CDC to issue a warning about this concern and the ways it has led to an increase in overdose deaths. The alert occurred after reports from the National Forensic Laboratory Information System revealed that there were 4,585 fentanyl seizures reported in 2014 alone. The CDC alert was issued in October 2015 and is an official CDC Health Advisory.

The Top 10

While fentanyl seizures can occur anywhere, the CDC has posted the top 10 states with fentanyl seizures. More than 80% of the fentanyl seizures originated from these 10 states in 2014:

10) Indiana: 133 fentanyl seizures
9) New Hampshire: 177 fentanyl seizures
8) Florida: 183 fentanyl seizures
7) Virginia: 222 fentanyl seizures
6) Kentucky: 232 fentanyl seizures
5) New Jersey: 238 fentanyl seizures
4) Maryland: 311 fentanyl seizures
3) Pennsylvania: 419 fentanyl seizures
2) Massachusetts: 630 fentanyl seizures
1) Ohio: 1245 fentanyl seizures

Those At Risk

The CDC states that an increased number of fentanyl seizures likely indicates an increased number of fentanyl overdoses. In fact, two of the top five states (Ohio and Maryland), have recently seen an increase in fentanyl overdose deaths.

The CDC has also stated that fentanyl is also a serious danger for first responders, public health workers, and law enforcement personnel. Their risk originates from coming into contact with unknown substances through the skin or accidental inhalation while on the job.

Unfortunately, a case in August 2015, saw law enforcement officers from New Jersey suffering from shortness of breath, respiratory complications, and even dizziness after coming into contact with unknown substances. The CDC recommends that law enforcement officials use the proper safety precautions and equipment when coming into contact with any type of substances.

Finding Help If You’re At Risk

If you or someone you know is struggling from a heroin addiction, there is a potential of using heroin laced with fentanyl. Any type of drug addiction is a serious problem that needs to be addressed by professionals. Please contact us at DrugRehab.org to learn more about this serious problem. Our helpful counselors will help you find a solution that works for you.

Contact us today to learn more about heroin addiction and the treatment options available

New Enzyme Found That May Treat Cocaine Overdoses

New Enzyme Found That May Treat Cocaine Overdoses

Statistics conducted in 2008 by the National Survey on Drug and Health estimated that on average 1.9 million people used cocaine in a 30-day period, with 359,000 using crack cocaine. Drug addiction is on the rise in America and it is a serious issue we all must address. However, new findings give hope to those who are suffering to quit cocaine.

Recently on October 29th, 2015, researchers revealed that a new enzyme was found that may successfully treat cocaine overdoses. While struggling individuals should always seek treatment for their drug addiction (inpatient treatment, counseling, etc.), medications such as this enzyme may offer more reinforcements in the battle against drug abuse and a potential solution to cocaine overdoses.

The New Enzyme

On October 29, the findings of the enzyme were made public at the American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists Annual Meeting and Exposition in Orlando. The study was directed by professors from the College of Pharmacy at the University of Kentucky. The enzyme, E12-7Fc-M3, has proven beneficial in metabolizing cocaine in the body without negative consequences.

The professors at the College of Pharmacy found previous success in an enzyme that broke down cocaine in the bloodstream. This previous enzyme they created was called CoCH1. But currently, their research on the new enzyme, E12-7Fc-M3 has focused on finding out how mice and rats respond when injected with cocaine and the enzyme.

Testing Success

When the professors tested mice and rats with cocaine and the enzyme they found that it was more effective in breaking down cocaine than the original enzyme, but it also had a half-life of roughly 110 hours. To compare, CoCH1 only had a half-life of approximately eight hours.

Researchers also found that one 0.25 mg dose of E12-7Fc-M3 sped up the metabolization of cocaine in the body to a minimum of 20 days. They also discovered that 2.5 mg completely rid the test animals of 25 mg of cocaine in 7 days.

Looking Ahead

While only preliminary research has been done, professionals are optimistic that the results will be translatable to humans in the near future. It is hoped that one day very soon, this form of enzyme treatment could be administered to patients in the emergency room if they overdose on cocaine. In 2008, the Drug Abuse Warning Report indicated that of the 2 million emergency room visits that happened due to drug abuse, 482,000 of those were cocaine.

Encompassing Treatment

It’s fascinating how far science and research have advanced us in the medical field. While more research still needs to be conducted, this new enzyme may prove to be the next big step in helping those that struggle with cocaine addiction. Administering just the enzyme to the patient that has overdosed is a great benefit. However, it should not be the only form of treatment offered to the individual.

One potential downside to the enzyme is people using the enzyme as an emergency treatment while still abusing cocaine. This is why treatment options, such as inpatient facilities, counseling, outpatient facilities, and others are extremely important.

Combining the aspects of medical professionals, medication, therapy, and personal desire to seek help and get better, will provide individuals with a strong foundation for recovery success.

Contact Us

If you or someone you know is struggling from a cocaine addiction or other drug addiction, we can help. There are many treatment options available today and we can help you find the one that’s right for you. Contact us now at DrugRehab.org to get the help you need to find you way back to a sober lifestyle.

Contact us now at DrugRehab.org to get the help you need to find you way back to a sober lifestyle.

PERSONAL DEMONS, PUBLIC STRUGGLE: The Long Shadow of Addiction

PERSONAL DEMONS, PUBLIC STRUGGLE

The turbulent reality of several top athletes, coaches and public figures who made headlines recently accents a universal truth: addiction grips all walks of life.

Former NBA star Lamar Odom is fighting for his life after being found unconscious in Nevada on Oct. 13. Employees at the brothel where he was staying told 911 operators that Odom had binged on cocaine and herbal supplements. He regained consciousness three days later but is facing a long road to recovery.

USC Football Coach Steve Sarkisian was fired Oct. 12, following a string of incidents involving public intoxication. He has entered an alcohol treatment facility.

“This is a very difficult time for my family and me,” Sarkisian tweeted. “I am facing these challenges the best I can and your support helps immensely.”

Earlier this month, New York Yankees pitcher CC Sabathia – a Cy Young Award recipient and six-time All-Star player – announced he was entering alcohol rehab and would miss the playoffs.

“It hurts me deeply to do this now, but I owe it to myself and to my family to get myself right,” Sabathia said in a statement. “I want to take control of my disease, and I want to be a better man, father and player.”

Sabathia spoke of being accountable and said he didn’t want to “run and hide” from his struggles with substance abuse.

“Being a baseball player means that others look up to you. I want my kids – and others who may have become fans of mine over the years – to know that I am not too big of a man to ask for help,” Sabathia said.

Other public figures who recently entered treatment for drug or alcohol dependence include NFL quarterback Johnny Manziel, actor Jon Hamm, Houston Rockets’ point guard Ty Lawson, reality TV personality Scott Disick and Olympic gold medalist Michael Phelps.

A NATIONAL EPIDEMIC

Addiction reaches far beyond luminaries and VIPs, as many American families can attest. An estimated 23.2 million people need help for drug or alcohol dependence in the United States, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

“In reality, we know that drug addiction can touch anyone — our children, neighbors, grandparents, mothers,” says Patty McCarthy Metcalf, Executive Director of Faces & Voices of Recovery, a national advocacy movement. “I think that it is critical to put more of a human face on the struggles with drug addiction.”

Every day, approximately 120 Americans die from drug overdoses, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). Drug overdoses are now the leading cause of injury death in America – responsible for more deaths among people ages 25-64 than motor vehicle accidents.

An especially alarming concern is the resurgence of heroin, which has reached epidemic levels, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

“Heroin use is increasing at an alarming rate in many parts of society, driven by both the prescription opioid epidemic and cheaper, more available heroin,” CDC Director Tom Frieden said in a recent statement. Heroin overdose deaths nearly quadrupled from 2002 through 2013 (more than 8,200 deaths involved heroin in 2013).

Losing a loved one to addiction was illuminated during the recent GOP presidential debate. Republican candidate Carly Fiorina shared her family’s painful journey as she spoke of the nation’s epidemic of drug and alcohol abuse.

“I very much hope that I am the only person on this stage who can say this, but I know there are millions of Americans out there who will say the same thing: My husband, Frank, and I buried a child to drug addiction,” Fiorina said. Her step-daughter, Lori Ann Fiorina, whom the candidate had known and raised since Lori was six years old, died after years of battling alcohol, bulimia and prescription drug abuse.

Fiorina’s personal revelation puts a real face on this public health crisis, experts say, and may reduce the deep stigma that surrounds addiction.

More recently, actor Tom Hanks came forward to support his son Chet, who has struggled with addiction.

“As a parent, you love your kids unconditionally. You support them every step of the way,” the elder Hanks told Entertainment Tonight earlier this month.

Chet Hanks posted Instagram videos about his battle with cocaine, saying “there’s nothing glorious about bringing yourself closer to death and prison.” He entered treatment over the summer and is in recovery.

“If I can change, you can change,” Chet said. “There is a solution.”

Metcalf, of Faces & Voices of Recovery, says it’s critical that we end the stereotypes and stigma of addiction so that people get the help they need.

“As a society, we must work together in an organized movement to eliminate the stigma associated with addiction,” Metcalf says. “We envision a day when the public and policymakers will accord individuals and families affected by addiction dignity, and that they will receive respectful, nondiscriminatory care on the same basis as people with other health conditions.”

RESOURCES

If you or a loved one struggle with addiction, help is available. There are more treatment options available today – including newer medications such as naltrexone to help reduce heavy drinking or buprenorphine to treat heroin/opiate addiction.

Psychotherapy treatments such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and incentive- based motivations can also help people reclaim their lives and overcome addiction.

Please contact us today to talk to one of our helpful counselors.

Here are some resources to help you find the right treatment:

FREE HELP HOTLINES

1-800-NCA-CALL
24-hour helpline sponsored by the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence

Al-Anon
for families/loved ones of problem drinkers

NIDA
24-hour National Drug and Alcohol Abuse Hotline offering information and referral services to people seeking treatment and other assistance; sponsored by the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment (CSAT)

DrugRehab.org
24-hour hotline providing free, confidential referrals to treatment programs and rehab clinics nationwide. Sponsored by drugrehab.org; counselors available 24/7.

TREATMENT GUIDE Q&A

http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/seeking-drug-abuse-treatment-know-what-to-ask/introduction

Reviews questions to ask when searching for a rehabilitation program. A free publication from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).

MUTUAL AID/SUPPORT GROUPS

These websites provide an extensive list of mutual aid organizations, 12-step programs and other support resources for people with addiction:

http://www.facesandvoicesofrecovery.org/guide/support/

https://ncadd.org/recovery-support/mutual-aid-support

http://www.addictionsurvivors.org/

Heroin Mixed With Fentanyl Causing Overdoses

Heroin-Mixed-With-Fentanyl-Causing-Overdoses

Heroin is an extremely addictive drug on its own. Fentanyl is a narcotic and sedative used to help alleviate pain after surgeries or other procedures. It is a synthetic opioid analgesic. On its own, Fentanyl is 100 times more potent than morphine. It is also used for pain such as for those who are in the end-stages of cancer. It’s not a drug to be taken lightly.

Now, just imagine combining heroin and fentanyl in a cocktail-like mixture; it’s a disaster waiting to happen. Fentanyl overdoses are so similar to heroin overdoses, sometimes it is extremely hard to determine which drug was abused (if used separately). If a patient visits the ER for an overdose, urine samples do not pick up on fentanyl at all.

Just as long ago as March 2015, the Drug Enforcement Administration issued a national alert warning that there has been a national uptick in heroin-laced-fentanyl overdoses. Seizures by law enforcement of illegal drugs mixed with fentanyl have also surged. In 2013, there were 942 submissions of fentanyl drug mixed confiscations, in 2014, there were 3,344 cases. Confiscations of fentanyl have more than tripled during that time. And now, fentanyl mixed with heroin is causing many overdoses and deaths.

An Unknown Cocktail

When fentanyl is mixed with heroin, the results can be fatal. This is a concoction of a prescription drug and a street drug, with disastrous effects. Buying drugs off the street, such as heroin mixed with fentanyl, is a mixed bag. You never know what you are going to get. Some addicted individuals do not know that the heroin they bought off the street has been mixed with fentanyl, often causing terrible end results (extreme addictions, side effects, or death). For those who do know that the heroin is spiked with fentanyl, they are seeking a greater high. Fentanyl is given to patients who suffer from pain but are for those who have become “immune” (developed a tolerance) to other opioids. This is why they search for a stronger alternative.

Abuse of fentanyl and heroin is like many other substance abuses, it alters the way the brain functions, leading to addiction. Abusing drugs leads the user into a vicious circle. They first try drugs, such as opiates, and receive incredible highs, but after using the drugs for a while, their systems become dull and desensitized. This causes the individual to seek out more potent forms of a drug, in order to feel the same (or even stronger) highs.

Just A Little Bit

Those who buy heroin on the street may not know if it contains fentanyl. The dealers on the street may not even know how much fentanyl has been mixed with the heroin. Even a small amount of fentanyl mixed with heroin can be lethal because fentanyl on its own is so powerful. Just a tiny amount can have a huge impact on how it affects your body. Because prescription opiate medications are harder or even inaccessible to obtain and are costly, some believe this has pushed more people to use heroin mixed with fentanyl.

A Special Note To Those Who Are Struggling

Fentanyl is so potent that it is used as perhaps a last resort to experience the thrills of being high after other drugs just don’t have the same effects. So the serious question to ask is: Why are you doing this to yourself? If you are abusing heroin mixed with fentanyl knowingly or even unknowingly, why are you abusing drugs at all? Is there an underlying reason why you are putting your body though so much damage? Maybe you suffered a trauma, like a sexual assault, and you want to hide the pain. Or perhaps you suffered the loss of a loved one and you turned to drugs to numb reality. Maybe you just wanted to experiment with drugs after you were given a prescription medication, and you are embarrassed that you have developed a craving or addiction. Or maybe you are addicted to heroin, and you did not know your drugs were spiked with fentanyl, and now you crave that high.

Maybe there is no “real” reason for your drug use and you are just making bad choices and are seeking a high. But, realize there are better ways to effectively cope. There are better ways to address your emotions. Look at yourself in the mirror. Is this the person you want to be? Look at your life. The next time you decide to use drugs, the next time you visit someone on the street for your next high, the next time you overdose, could be your last. Do you realize how serious this is? You could die. No matter how good or great a high feels, there is always a risk that you could die. A high is temporary, death is permanent.

Seek Help Today

This is your life. Seek help now. Even if you feel that nobody cares about you, it’s not true. There are people who care for and your well being. And you need to reach out to those who can help before it’s too late. Maybe you are reading this right now because you are searching for something, anything to help you because you feel guilty and at a loss. Maybe you stumbled upon this blog post and these words are hitting home right now. And perhaps you even feel helpless. Abusing drugs has likely destroyed or severely strained your family relationships, your ties with friends, or your devotion to a spouse or partner. But you are not alone. There is hope and there is help. Don’t wait. Contact us today at DrugRehab.org and we will be there for you, helping you each step of the way as you find a new and healthy life.

Contact us today at DrugRehab.org and we will be there for you, helping you each step of the way as you find a new and healthy life.

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Understanding Cocaine’s Effect On The Brain

Understanding Cocaine's Effect on the Brain

Cocaine’s effect on the brain has been dubbed “a silent disease” despite the far-reaching and immediate consequences. It’s not called a silent disease because it does little harm, but rather that those who ingest even small amounts of the substance semi-regularly are doing great harm. Even small cocaine exposures can quickly reduce the amount of oxygen-rich blood reaching the vital neural network of the brain. Cell death quickly follows. Premature aging of the brain can result in early onset dementia as well as other behavioral, social, and perceptual changes.

What Is Cocaine?

Cocaine is a highly addictive stimulant derived from the leaves of the coca plant. The effects of cocaine as a central nervous system stimulant include short-lived heightened focus and extreme euphoria. Use of the drug can also cause a number of cardiovascular complications including the constriction of blood vessels, elevated blood pressure and heart rate, and increased risk of stroke and heart failure.

Cocaine is available on the street as a highly refined powder that is water soluble and injectable or snorted via the nasal passage. Cocaine may also be smoked in the form of crack cocaine. Cocaine’s long-term effects can include damage to grey matter in the brain as well as other structural and biochemical and resulting behavioral changes.

Cocaine’s Immediate Effect On The Brain

When cocaine is first introduced to the body and brain, the resulting euphoria is intense. Cocaine generates a dopamine response related to the reward centers of the brain, and simultaneously increases norepinephrine and serotonin, which when released at levels sustained by cocaine use, leave a person experiencing a heightened level of focus and concentration, along with increased confidence or energy and euphoria associated with the dopamine release.

This high, however, is short-lived, often lasting 15 minutes, and can perpetuate use of the substance, or a cocaine binge. Unfortunately, as someone increases frequency or the amount of cocaine they are ingesting, their normal brain function begins to shut down. Natural release of dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin is suppressed as the body becomes dependent on cocaine for similar effects.

Cocaine’s Adverse Effects On The Brain

As abrupt as the effects of cocaine are felt, cocaine’s adverse impact on the brain is equally swift. New research indicates the cocaine-addicted brain ages at twice the rate of a normal brain. The loss of grey matter, the vital communication network in the brain, can lead to stroke and early-onset dementia.

Stroke is the result of reduced blood flow to the brain, common among individuals who abuse cocaine. And recent research at Harvard University shows that even low level exposure to cocaine can restrict blood flow to the brain. The researchers at Harvard exposed test subjects to relatively low amounts of cocaine, compared with what would normally be sold on the street. It was discovered that even at these extremely low doses, blood flow constriction occurred in nearly every subject. It follows that levels obtainable on the street generate an even greater adverse impact on brain health, reducing blood flow and vital oxygen to the cells that need it, resulting most often in the death of grey cell matter.

Cocaine’s Impact On Behavioral Controls Of The Brain

Areas of the prefrontal cortex of the brain are literally rewired by exposure to cocaine. The prefrontal cortex regulates everything from our personality to cognitive function, decision-making, and behavior. This area of the brain can change or adapt over time as necessary to external stimuli, including stress, but when a powerful stimulant like cocaine is introduced, this rewiring can take place in a matter of days and weeks.

One experiment involving mice indicated that when given the choice of an uncomfortable enclosure versus a comfortable enclosure, mice chose the comfortable environment. However, when confined to the uncomfortable enclosure and exposed to cocaine, then re-tested, the mice quickly began showing preference for the uncomfortable enclosure they previously rejected.

This same region of the brain, when altered by cocaine, can turn a moral and sensible individual into a person capable of criminal and violent behaviors. In a healthy individual, the prefrontal cortex regulates decision making and is involved in sorting good thought processes from bad, associates positive action with positive results, avoids negative consequences by avoiding behaviors or situations that are more like to result in negative consequences, etc. In the cocaine-addicted brain, this highly social and regulated part of the brain becomes chaotic and may result in violent outbursts, antisocial behaviors, and an inability to associate action with consequence.

Studies have found a correlation between repeated exposure to cocaine generates a wide range of related psychological symptoms in addition to impaired cognitive function, including paranoia, social avoidance or withdrawal, severe insomnia, anxiety, impulsivity, delusions, hallucinations, violent outbursts, homicidal or suicidal thoughts or actions, and depression.

Treat The Addiction, Heal The Addicted Brain

Healing the brain after an addiction to cocaine is one of the greatest challenges to long-term recovery. It can take months for dopamine levels to return to any pre-cocaine exposure levels, resulting in feelings of apathy, lethargy, and general malaise. This is one of the primary reasons for relapse in the first year of recovery.

Cravings for cocaine as well as depression and the symptoms described above can persist for months. Managing these and other withdrawal side effects is one way to improve the long-term success outcome for the cocaine-addicted individual, as well as reducing overall harm to the brain.

Locate Treatment Options Near You For Cocaine Addiction

DrugRehab.org is an online resource designed to connect you with the drug treatment options that meet your individual needs and preferences.Let us connect you with the professional support and evidence-based drug treatment programs that can help you reclaim your life from a cocaine addiction. Contact us and discover a new and rewarding life in recovery beginning today.

Contact Us About DrugRehab.org Services

 

Drug Rehab Treatment and Education Are the Most Effective Ways to Fight the War on Drugs

In 2012, we crossed a dubious threshold: the War on Drugs has cost American taxpayers $1 trillion since 1971. Nearly 2% of the US population is in prison, most sentenced for drug offenses. Thousands of people have died trying to stop drugs from entering the country. And yet, despite the tremendous cost in treasure and lives, the street price of a gram of cocaine is 74% cheaper than it was in 1980, foreign drug cartels are more powerful and influential than ever, and the proportion of the population who abuse or are addicted to illicit drugs has pretty much remained constant in the last 20 years.

These figures suggest only one thing, that the War on Drugs as we currently know it has failed. In recent years in various states, new laws allow for the dispensation of medical marijuana in defiance of federal laws, and a recent Gallup poll reveals that 50% of Americans favor legalizing marijuana. Meanwhile, marijuana legalization is on ballots in Colorado, Oregon, and Washington, and voter initiatives to allow medical marijuana are underway in Arkansas, Montana, and Massachusetts.

Politicians are typically slow to change national policy on many issues, and drug policy is no different. National party platforms in 2012 are very similar regarding this issue. The Obama Administration is slowly shifting policy away from interdiction and toward treatment. This policy includes allowing federal funding for needle exchange programs, more funding for state-level prison-to-work programs to prevent recidivism, and the recently passed Fair Sentencing Act, which reduces racial disparities in sentencing for crack cocaine offenses. Republican proposals have a similar progressive bent, including federal funding for state initiatives to place nonviolent drug offenders in rehab instead of prison.

Common Sense Lessons from Europe and Home Point to Drug Rehab Treatment as Better than Prison

Make no mistake about it: drug abuse and addiction can destroy your health and happiness and even lead to premature death. The federal government is not ready to surrender in the War on Drugs. Indeed, President Obama has increased funding to Mexico and Central America, still the main route illegal drugs take to American streets, and the Republican 2012 party platform also favors this policy.

After so many years of spinning wheels in the mud, Americans are realizing the folly of pursuing a flawed policy. The approach to drug abuse and addiction in the European Union has always leaned heavily toward rehabilitation and education, and drug abuse in those countries is lower than it is in the United States. Many people think the Netherlands is a haven for pot smokers because of the liberal drug laws there, but only 2% of the population in Holland uses marijuana regularly, compared to about 15% in the United States.

It seems to make more and more sense to change the course of the War on Drugs toward a policy that favors rehab and education over law enforcement and imprisonment for offenders. But we’re still a long way away from an actual change of policy. The medical marijuana fiasco in California is a good example of the growing pains that lie ahead. The law there was intended to allow certain medical patients to receive marijuana legally through a doctor’s prescription. Many studies have shown that marijuana can help patients suffering from the effects of chemotherapy and other diseases, despite its negative effects on the user. But that law in California has become something of a joke—the state issues licenses to prescribe medical marijuana to people who are not actually doctors, allowing for widespread abuse. Other states following California’s lead are trying to tighten regulations. Meanwhile, the federal government continues to consider marijuana a Category I controlled substance subject to federal drug laws.

As the drug rehabilitation industry becomes more and more sophisticated and effective in treating drug abuse and addiction, we can find hope in a practical and more efficient solution. Addiction is a medical condition and should be treated as such, not as a criminal violation.

Contact us to get more information about drug treatment centers that can save lives.

Contact us to get more information about drug treatment centers that can save lives.