Wednesday, 8 June 2016

Opioid and other prescription drugs addictions and deaths                                               

A former attorney for two of Prince's dead siblings says they had revealed to him that Prince had an addiction to Percocet decades before his sudden death in April, 2016. He was found dead in the elevator in his home. Prince's half-brother, Duane Nelson, said he used to get the drug for Prince to help him come down after his shows, Duane told him that he witnessed him taking the drugs and he also procured Percocet for him.

Percocet is used to relieve moderate to severe pain. The drug contains a combination of acetaminophen and oxycodone. The latter is an opioid pain medication. An opioid is a narcotic. Acetaminophen is a less potent pain reliever that increases the effects of oxycodone.
 An overdose of acetaminophen found in oxycodone can damage your liver and even cause your death.               
Percocet should never be used if you have recently used alcohol, sedatives, tranquilizers, or other narcotic medications. Narcotic pain medicine can also be habit-forming if used regularly.

Overdose deaths from prescription opiates such as oxycodone and morphine have “risen sharply” in Canada, and now account for approximately half of all drug-related deaths in this country, according to the latest report from the Canadian Drug Policy Coalition.

In Ontario, (a province of Canada) for example, Oxycodone prescriptions increased by 850 per cent between 1991 and 2007. Between 300 and 400 people die each year in that province from an overdose of a prescription opioid.

The report’s release coincides with a review by researchers at McGill University in Montreal, who found that the number of deaths involving prescription painkillers is higher than the number of deaths from heroin and cocaine overdoses combined. The McGill team reviewed existing research, and found that the spike in opioid-related deaths cannot be attributed to one single cause. In fact, there are at least 17 different contributing factors, in particular the increase in prescriptions and sales of opioids, the increased use of strong, long-lasting drugs such as OxyContin and methadone, and the mixing of opioids with other drugs or with alcohol.

A Canadian Drug Policy report stated that between 500,000 and 1.25 million people are estimated to use prescription opioids non-medically. It also stated that in fact, non-medical use of prescribed opiates is the fourth-most prevalent form of substance use in Canada behind alcohol, tobacco, and cannabis.  This makes it obvious that their use of these opiates are for recreational purposes only.

National overdose deaths in the United Sates are increasing year after year with respect to the use of opioid pain relievers. From 2001 to 2014 has increased immensely. The number of deaths by females and males from 2001 to 2014 was rising proportionally. However more males are dying than females.  The number of deaths in 2001 was a little over 5,000 but each year the numbers gradually increased until 1014 when the number of overdose deaths were as high as 18,000. This means that more users are using prescription opioid pain relievers than other narcotics. In fact when you add the figures of deaths that year from heroin (10,000), benzodiazepines (8,000)  and cocaine (5,000) you will see that the use of prescription opioid pain relievers are far ahead of the other narcotics being used. In the US, there are 24 overdose deaths every day. The reason is obvious. It would appear that for users who want to use opioids for recreational purposes,  it is too  easy for them to get their prescriptions for that drug from their doctors.

The signs of opioid addiction may be easier to spot in illegal drug users than in patients addicted to prescription opioids. However, the signs of addiction are the same for both types of the drug. An addict will exhibit some of the following symptoms:

Taking more of the drug than the doctor prescribed.

Crushing pills to snort, swallow, or inject them.

Marks on the arms, feet or necks from injecting opioids. These are called track marks, and they look like small sores clustered in the injection area.

Slurred speech, a sedated manner, slow movement, a slow pulse and the inability to keep the head up, all without the presence of alcohol.

Complaining of pain and taking medication for it long after the pain symptoms should have subsided.

Whether they take place in a residential opioid treatment facility or on an out-patient basis, opioid treatments begin with attention for the withdrawal symptoms. This withdrawal treatment involves a lengthy process that provides the best results if it includes medication. Once a patient has the opioid out of his or her system is ready to face a sober life, generally aftercare programs are there to help.

Opioid users have to face the fact that withdrawal is uncomfortable, and heavy users may experience the most severe symptoms. Fortunately, detox and withdrawal programs include the medications such as methadone, clonidine, naltrexone, and buprenorphine, which act much as the opiate does in the body without providing the euphoria that addicts feel. In specially-metered doses, these drugs help the body through withdrawal with minimal, if any, discomfort. Patients will continue the medicinal treatment through the next stage of rehab and after that stage is finished.

Opioid patients, like many other drug addicts, get psychological treatment in inpatient rehab. The treatment helps them get to the root of their addiction, find alternative ways to cope, and learn how to avoid a relapse in the future. Exercise, nutritious meals, and mental health assessments supplement the treatment. Medical personnel also place prescription opioid addicts on structured pain management programs to help them deal with the pain that led to their addiction. Group, individual, and family sessions are all a part of the counseling program.

More than 165,000 people have died in the U.S. from overdoses related to overuse of prescriptions of opioids and other drugs.

On February 11th, 2012, on the eve of the Grammy Awards, Whitney Houston fell asleep in a bathtub at the Beverly Hilton hotel in Los Angeles and never woke up. Two months later, the Los Angeles County coroner ruled that she had drowned, but it’s been well established that the 48-year-old singer ingested a cocktail of cocaine and prescription drugs before taking her final breath. Most notably, the toxicology report revealed that a “plethora of prescription medication bottles” had been littered across her hotel room—12 in total, prescribed by five different doctors. Among the drugs discovered were the anti-anxiety medication Xanax and the muscle relaxant Flexeril.
In the past decade, Heath Ledger, Brittany Murphy, Anna Nicole Smith, Michael Jackson. Whitney Houston and Prince were just six of the most famous stars to overdose on legal but deadly medication. What a waste of talent.
 Their deaths reflect a larger wave of prescription drug abuse across the United States. What illicit drugs like crack cocaine and ecstasy were to the 1990s and the early 2000s, prescription medication is to a millennial generation. Recent studies show that, in 2010, as many as 2.4 million people age 12 or older began using prescription drugs for non-medical reasons. That’s 6,600 persons a day. Now by 2016, the numbers have increased exponentially.

We’re in a middle of an opioid epidemic. What’s interesting to know is that it’s not just an opioid epidemic; it’s a prescription opioid epidemic. And I blame the doctors who prescribe the deadly medicines because they are not taking greater care to make sure that these drugs are always necessary to those who are requesting them.

The number of infants born addicted to prescription drugs every year has also tripled in the past 10 years up to 2012 to approximately 13,500, according to a report in the Journal of American Medical Association. In 2009, treatment of these drug-addicted babies cost Medicaid some $720 million. How many babies are addicted by 2016 and how many billions of dollars are being spent by Medicaid treating them?

There are no illegal cartels profiting from the prescription drug epidemic. Instead, the blame goes to a pharmacy system lacking centralized tracking (so that an addict may be able to recycle the same prescription to obtain hundreds of pills a month) and a pharmaceutical industry that spends millions lobbying against regulations that could squeeze their bottom line.

And then there are the doctors. It isn’t just the corrupt Dr. Feelgoods who are over-prescribing drugs to addicts. There are also well-intentioned physicians who don’t have a clue about the neurochemistry of addiction, who through their prescription pads are literally sending their patients to their deaths.

The authorities who govern these two professions have to come down hard on those negligent and corrupt professional carriers of death. Until that happens, thousands of people who have so much to live for are killing themselves with the help of professionals who either don’t know what they are doing or alternatively, couldn’t  care less. 

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