Prince’s Death Puts Opioid Fentanyl Overdose under Spotlight

According to a Minnesota medical examiner report, musician Prince passed away after a self-administered dose of fentanyl. (Forbes, 2016)

It is not clear whether Prince habitually used fentanyl or other prescription opioids or how long he used such medication; there is not enough information to classify this as an addiction. Nevertheless, this tragic and untimely loss is increasing awareness of the ongoing opioid epidemic in the United States – and more specifically, fentanyl abuse. During this devastating time, Gateway hopes to educate individuals on how to recognize the signs and symptoms of prescription drug abuse and help a loved one who may be struggling.

Addressing the Prescription Drug Abuse Epidemic

Medicine pill capsules with medicine bottleStudies show that more than 28,000 people died from opioids, which includes heroin and painkillers, in 2014, and 4.3 million people were taking pain medication for non-medical purposes that year. (NY Times, 2016)

In March of 2015, the DEA issued a nationwide alert regarding fentanyl. “Drug incidents and overdoses related to fentanyl are occurring at an alarming rate throughout the United States and represent a significant threat to public health and safety,” wrote DEA Administrator Michele M. Leonhart.

Fortunately, there is hope. Treatment is available for those who wish to seek help for prescription drug abuse.

What is Fentanyl?

Fentanyl is a powerful prescription opioid. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that fentanyl is nearly one hundred times as strong as morphine and hundreds of times more potent than heroin.

Fentanyl is typically prescribed to treat severe pain, or to manage pain after surgery. Like heroin, morphine, and other opioids, fentanyl binds to the body’s opiate receptors – driving up dopamine levels in the brain’s reward areas and producing a state of euphoria and relaxation.

When prescribed by a physician, fentanyl is often administered via injection, transdermal patch, or in lozenge form. However, the type of fentanyl associated with most overdoses is produced in underground laboratories and mixed with heroin or other substances in a powder form.

Mixing fentanyl with street drugs such as heroin or cocaine increases potency and potential dangers. (National Institute on Drug Abuse, 2016)

What are the Signs and Symptoms of Fentanyl Abuse?
If your loved one is prescribed an opioid painkiller, keep a watchful eye and ensure he or she takes the medication as directed. Some warning signs of prescription drug abuse to watch for include:

  • Appearing drowsy or intoxicated
  • Depression
  • Irritability
  • Not performing well at work or school (or just not attending at all)
  • Running out of medication too early
  • Changing doctors often

Effects of Fentanyl Abuse
There are serious mental and physical effects of prolonged fentanyl abuse in addition to the signs and symptoms of abuse listed above. Physical side effects include severe gastrointestinal problems, weakened immune system, difficulty breathing and seizures. Mental effects may include paranoia, lack of motivation, personality changes and social withdrawal. When combined with street drugs, the depression of the central nervous system can lead to respiratory distress, coma and even death. (DrugAbuse.com)

To learn more about prescription drug abuse and treatment visit RecoverGateway.org/RxDrugs.

 

NOVEMBER 2014: GATEWAY TREATMENT CENTERS PRESENT FREE ONLINE CEU TRAININGS

OPIOID OVERDOSE AVERTED: NALOXONE-FRIENDLY ZONES SAVE LIVES

naloxone, heroin, opioids, webinar, free ceu training, gateway alcohol and drug treatmentThis November, Gateway Alcohol & Drug Treatment is offering an expert-led webinar about the importance of growing Illinois’ Naloxone-friendly zones to reverse the opioid overdose epidemic. Join us during your lunchtime on November 13th or 18th to earn a continuing education credit courtesy of Gateway!

The goal of this webinar is to encourage healthcare professionals to take the most appropriate course of action in the event of an opioid overdose. Learn valuable information related to overdose and Naloxone as presented by Carl Scroggins, Gateway’s resident expert on overdose prevention.

  • 1 CEU – IAODAPCA, NAADAC, Illinois: LCSW, LSW, LCPC, LPC, Nursing,
    Psychology
  • Cost: FREE with Registration
  • Registration only available online

LEARN MORE >

CHOOSE YOUR DATE

Thursday, November 13th
12:30p.m. – 1:30p.m.
(Additional Time for Q&A)
Register

Tuesday, Novmeber 18th
12:30p.m. – 1:30p.m.
(Additional Time for Q&A)
Register

Space is limited! Register today at
RecoveryGateway.org/Training

 

HEROIN USE SPIKES AMONG 18-22 YEAR OLDS

Today’s portrait of a typical heroin user probably isn’t what most people imagine. The growth in heroin use is primarily among white, middle and upper class 18-22 year olds, living in America’s suburbs and rural areas.

The heroin concern is an unfortunate outcome of another sweeping drug abuse trend among affluent teens: abuse of prescription pain medications, such as Vicodin and Oxycontin. According to Partnership for Drug Free America, 24 % of high school students have abused addictive prescription drugs, a 33% increase in 5 years. 

However, prescription opioids have become harder to obtain and more expensive, therefore opioid abusers are migrating to a cheaper, stronger alternative to prescription pills: heroin.

It’s important to recognize the physical signs and symptoms of heroin use, which include:

  • Shallow breathing and shortness of breath.
  • Clouded mental functioning.
  • Decreased pain from either physical conditions or emotional challenges.
  • Uncontrollable feelings of itching.
  • Constricted pupils.

As well as behavioral signs of heroin abuse, such as:

  • Lying or other deceptive behavior.
  • Substantial increase in time spent sleeping.
  • Increase in slurred or incoherent speech.
  • Poor performance in school or work, including expulsion or loss of jobs.
  • Decreasing attention to hygiene and physical appearance.
  • Loss of motivation and apathy toward future goals and interests.
  • Withdrawal from friends and family, instead spending time with new friends with no natural tie.
  • Repeatedly stealing or borrowing money from loved ones, or unexplained absence of valuables.
  • Wearing long pants or long sleeves to hide needle marks, even in very warm weather.

If you know someone who needs help breaking free from opioids, Gateway Foundation can help. For a free and confidential consultation, please call 877-505-4673.

Drug Abuse Treatment Center Offers Free Continuing Education Workshops

Gateway Foundation’s Lunchtime Learning Series Addresses the Opioid Epedemic

Drug abuse is a pervasive social issue that affects millions of Americans. All too often the outcome of abusing drugs and alcohol is tragic.

To help medical professionals better understand heroin and opiate abuse and treatment options available for those struggling with opiate and alcohol addiction, Gateway Foundation is hosting two different, educational webinars this October. Hear directly from Gateway Foundation’s drug abuse treatment experts and advance your understanding of these important topics.

drug abuse, CEU Training

OCTOBER LUNCHTIME LEARNING SERIES WEBINARS

Advanced Treatment for Opioid & Alcohol Dependence:
Training provides: 1 CE
Location: Online
October 10 or October 24, 12:30 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.

The goal of this webinar is to increase your understanding of the advanced treatment options available for those struggling with opiate and alcohol abuse. As part of a comprehensive program, medication assisted treatment includes use of medicine, counseling and therapy to help individuals modify their behavior to make better lifestyle changes. Research shows that medication assisted treatment helps people remain drug and alcohol free.

You will learn: how medication can effectively address withdrawal symptoms, the benefits of Suboxone®, Vivitrol®, and other medications, and the importance of integrated treatment for successful outcomes.

Heroin & Opioid RX: Expert Insight to an Epidemic:
Training provides: 1 CE
Location: Online
October 22or October 30, 12:30 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.

As the consumption of one of the most highly addictive drugs continues to rise, Gateway Foundation takes a closer look at the devastating consequences of heroin abuse.

  • In the past 5 years heroin use has increased 75% (Source: SAMHSA).
  • The Illinois State Crime Commission says heroin use is an epidemic.

The goal of the webinar is to provide valuable information regarding the drugs reported on the news and seen in the ER. You will learn: trends, signs and symptoms of heroin and opiate use, the effects of heroin and opioid use on the mind and body, and the use of naloxone “the overdose drug.”

Don’t miss out. Sign up for Gateway Foundation’s FREE Lunchtime Learning Series of four webinars and earn up to 2 CEs (NAADAC, Illinois – LCSW, LSW, LCPC, LPC, Nursing).

Space is Limited. Registration only available online at RecoverGateway.org/Training

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