Dangers of Prescription Drug Abuse Highlighted During National Safety Month

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As part of National Safety Month in June, families are encouraged to learn about the dangers of prescription drug abuse—along with how these drugs are obtained.

“Prescription drug abuse often starts with a legal prescription, or from someone diverting pills from a friend or family member,” said Karen Wolownik Albert, Executive Director at Gateway Alcohol & Drug Treatment Centers. “National Safety Month is a great time to remind parents and families about the issue of addiction and how it may be prevented.”

Poisonings are the leading cause of preventable deaths among 25 to 64 year olds, largely from drug overdoses and prescription opioids, according to the National Safety Council.

“Because these drugs are prescribed by a doctor, many people falsely believe they’re risk free, but prescription drugs can be just as addictive and lethal as illicit drugs bought on the street,” Albert said. “Your brain and body sees no difference between a prescription opioid like hydrocodone and street-purchased heroin.”

Young people are particularly vulnerable when it comes to prescription drug abuse and addiction. Teens prefer prescription drugs as their drug of choice, second only to marijuana, according to the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy. Teen brains are not yet fully developed, and can be very sensitive to drugs and alcohol. Frequent use of drugs and alcohol may permanently alter or impair brain development.

Gateway offers these steps parents can take to reduce the risk of prescription drug abuse within their families:

  • Use medications only as prescribed or directed on the label.
  • Keep such medications in a secure and concealed location.
  • Don’t share prescriptions with a friend or family member.
  • Properly dispose of unwanted or expired prescriptions to keep them from falling into the wrong hands. Local pharmacies or the police may accept unwanted medications.
  • Monitor family members for any unusual behavior if they’re taking prescription drugs, especially young people who are more susceptible to risk taking and addiction.

Warning signs of prescription drug abuse include changes in health such as sleeping habits, energy level, hygiene, appearance or weight loss. Other signs might include changes in friends, personality or a loss of interest in school or other activities.

Gateway offers a free downloadable guide to prescription drug abuse at: RecoverGateway.org/RxDrugs

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.

 

Gateway Featured in ABC News Segment: “Fentanyl deaths spike in Chicago area”

Gateway Alcohol & Drug Treatment Centers was featured in an ABC News segment addressing the spike in fentanyl deaths in the Chicago area. According to the Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office, more than 100 deaths last year were attributed to new varieties of fentanyl.

Gateway is here to help individuals struggling with opioid addiction by offering customized treatment plans and providing highly qualified substance abuse specialists.

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Photo Credit: ABC News

 

ABC News Article: “FENTANYL DEATHS SPIKE IN CHICAGO AREA”

Chicago area public health officials are grappling with an increase in deaths due to overdoses of fentanyl, a powerful synthetic opioid.

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Photo Credit: ABC News

On Monday, the Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office reported a sharp increase in fentanyl-related deaths. They join officials in Will and DuPage counties who are also troubled by more overdoses related to strong new batches of fentanyl.

Now, a new FBI campaign hopes to education people about the threat.

Fentanyl is a drug commonly used for surgeries and post-operative care. The drug is in the family of opioids, which includes morphine and heroin.

At Gateway Treatment Centers in Naperville, patient service representatives take calls around the clock. Most of their concerns are opioid addiction.

“We know treatment works, but if we can’t get people to treatment it’s really hard to help them change their behavior as well as their use of medicines,” said Jim Scarpace, executive director of Gateway Aurora.

Making the heroin epidemic worse is the use of synthetic drugs such as fentanyl.

“Fentanyl is something that we use during surgery or during procedures,” said Dr. Steven Aks, of Stroger Hospital of Cook County. “It’s routinely used in the hospital every day. It is an ultra-potent pain medication.”

Staff at Stroger Hospital of Cook County in Chicago also have seen increases in fentanyl overdoses – some of them fatal.

More than 100 deaths last year are attributed to new varieties of fentanyl, according to the Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office.

“We really started seeing a big spike back in September. We had one day where we had nine victims come in at once,” Aks said.

Efforts to prevent opioid use now coming from a partnership with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency.

The federal agencies will premiere their new documentary in the Chicago area at Westmont High School on Wednesday.

WATCH: Clips of FBI/DEA documentary about opiate addiction

However, John Roberts – whose son Billy Roberts died of a heroin overdose — worries that new, powerful illegal opioids will lead to more grieving families.

“If anybody were to take a pure dose of fentanyl, it would kill them on the spot,” Roberts said.

After Billy Roberts died seven years ago, his father started Heroin Epidemic Relief Organization (H.E.R.O).

“Until I join my little boy, I will fight this battle until that day,” Roberts said.

Treatment experts suspect those using heroin may mistake fentanyl as heroin, but the drug is much more powerful and can take several does of the antidote to revive a patient.

Anyone concerned about a loved one can now be trained and get naloxone from a pharmacy or recovery advocacy organizations.

H.E.R.O. is hosting an event on April 29 at Edwards Hospital in Naperville.

Source: ABC News

Are you concerned a loved one may be addicted to opioids? Learn more about prescription drug abuse online at RecoverGateway.org or call Gateway Alcohol & Drug Treatment Centers for a free consultation at 877-505-HOPE (4673).

 

Fall into Drug Safety: Safeguard Unused Prescription Drugs

As the colder weather approaches, we start preparing to spend more time indoors. Now’s the time to make sure our windows and doors are in good shape, have the furnace inspected and cleaned, and take the car in for winterizing.

What many of us don’t think about, are the less visible dangers that may be present in our homes, specifically, prescription medications. In the wrong hands, prescription drugs can quickly turn from helpful to harmful.

Safeguard Your Prescription Drugs

prescription drugs, gateway alcohol and drug treatment centersPrescription pills in the household may “disappear” without the owner’s consent. If you have prescription drugs in your home, ask yourself:  What prescription drugs do I have? Where are they kept? Would I notice if some were missing?

You can take immediate steps to limit access to prescription and also over-the-counter medicines. Here’s how:

  • Conceal their location, monitor the quantities, and control access to them
  • Set clear rules for teens about drug use, including not sharing medicine and following the prescriber’s advice and dosage
  • Be a good role model – follow the above rules yourself
  • Discuss safeguarding medications with your friends and family
  • Properly dispose of old or unused medications

If taken accidentally, pharmaceutical and over-the-counter drugs can be especially harmful to a child, pet or anyone else. Possible harmful effects include breathing difficulties, heart problems, and possibly, death.

The experts at Gateway Treatment Centers are available to answer any questions you may have about substance abuse. We wish you a happy, healthy fall!

For More information about prescription drug abuse, visit RecoverGateway.org/RxDrugs

If you or someone you love is struggling with prescription drug abuse, Gateway can help. Call our 24-Hour Helpline at 877-505-HO{PE (4673).

Prescription Drug Abuse is on the Rise

prescription drug abuse, prescription pills, prescription drugs“Abuse of pain medications may start when a person takes them for an injury or medical condition that causes chronic pain. It can get out of control. Over time, people develop a tolerance level to opiates which often prompts them to increase their dosages,” says Cynthia Miles, LCSW, Clinical Supervisor, Gateway Alcohol & Drug Treatment Centers

Prescription drugs are often perceived as safer than illicit drugs but, when abused, pose serious health risks including overdose. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) found that more people die from prescription opioid overdose than all other drugs combined.

What Can You Do?

It is important to safeguard and keep track of prescription drugs. Following are steps you can immediately take to limit access to your prescription drugs:

  • Safeguard all drugs at home, including over-the-counter medicines. Conceal, monitor quantities and control access.
  • If you have children, set clear rules for teens about all drug use, including not sharing medicine and always following the medical provider’s advice and dosages.
  • Be a good role model by following these same rules with your own medicines.
  • Ask friends and family to safeguard their prescription drugs as well.
  • Properly dispose of old or unused medicines

Read More about Prescription Drug Abuse >

Alternatives to Managing Pain

Gateway Alcohol & Drug Treatment’s H.O.P.E. program is a voluntary program designed to help people find alternatives to taking pain medications and/or narcotics. The program name acronym stands for Healthy Options to Treat Pain Effectively. Offered at the Gateway Treatment Center in Carbondale, Illinois, the H.O.P.E. program educates attendees on ways to take a more holistic approach to their health.

Provided in a group format, the program’s goals include helping people gain an understanding of their pain, and how to identify the ways in which it goes further than the physical sensations to include emotional pain and cognitive disorders. Once people can identify this, they can use this knowledge to begin to alter their thinking.

Participants learn how to use techniques designed to improve their emotional pain, which should in turn help to decrease the perception of physical pain. Daily grounding and coping skills are practiced, which are ideally, performed even when a person’s pain level is not high. By being consistent, a life change that is conducive to self-awareness and pain management is reinforced.

If you know someone who may be abusing presription drugs, don’t wait. Call Gateway at 877-971-4673.

Learn more about Substance Abuse Treatment Programs at Gateway Treatment Centers >

Prescription Drug Abuse and the Road to Heroin

Prescription drug abuse is a growing trend.
heroin abuse, prescription drurug treatmenway foundation, gateway alcohol and drug treatment centers, gateway alcohol and drug treatmentFollowing marijuana and alcohol, prescription and over-the-counter drugs have become the most commonly abused substances by Americans 14 and older.*

The process of becoming dependent on prescription drugs can begin easily and often, innocently. “Sometimes, people don’t finish their medication and might give it away to others who appear to need it, or the person’s children or other family members may come across it,” explains Carl Scroggins, Overdose Prevention Programs Supervisor at Gateway.

Link to Heroin
Research now shows addiction to prescription opioids such as Vicodin and Oxycontin may open the door to heroin abuse. Making the transition from one to the other is frequently a matter of economics and accessibility: The cost of prescription pills is $20 to $60, while the easier to access heroin sells for $3 to $10 a bag.

In the past five years, heroin use has increased by 75 percent** No longer a predominantly urban issue, heroin abuse has mushroomed in the Chicago suburbs, Springfield and throughout Central Illinois.

Read Full Article>

Reminder: National Prescription Drug Take Back Day is Tomorrow

prescription drug abuseGateway Treatment Center in Carbondale was paid a visit earlier this week from reporter Kathryn DiGisi of NBC affiliate WPSD-TV Channel 6 in Paducah, KY, for a news story about the upswing in prescription drug abuse across the region. Ms. DiGisi interviewed Gateway Substance Abuse Counselor Jennifer Casteel, who reminds parents that teens who abuse prescription drugs often start in their own home or their friends’ and family members’ homes.

NBC6 encourages local residents to do their part and responsibly dispose of leftover medications with the DEA’s National Prescription Drug Take Back Day on Saturday, April 26, 2004.

The 8th National Prescription Drug Take Back Day
Saturday, April 26, 2014
10 am – 2:00 pm

To find a Take Back location,click here. For more information about prescription drug abuse including helpful tips for parents about talking to children about substance abuse, click here.

Prescription Drug Abuse: A Vital Public Safety and Health Issue

National Prescription Drug Take Back Day is September 29,2012

prescription drug abuseNational Prescription Drug Take Back Day addresses a vital public safety and public health issue: prescription drug abuse. More than seven million Americans currently abuse prescription drugs, according to the 2009 Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s National Survey on Drug Use and Health. Furthermore, each day, approximately, 2,500 teens abuse prescription drugs to get high for the first time according to the Partnership for a Drug Free America.

If you have unused or expired medicine cluttering up your medicine cabinet and drawers, the DEA’s bi-annual National Prescription Drug Take Back Day taking place on Saturday, September 29, 2012 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. is a great opportunity to get rid of unwanted prescriptions in a responsible manner.

Conscientious Americans have responded overwhelmingly to the most recent DEA-led National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day. On April 28, 2012, citizens turned in a record-breaking 552,161 pounds (276 tons) of unwanted or expired medications for safe and proper disposal at the 5,659 take-back sites that were available in all 50 states and U.S. territories.

It is important to realize that just because something can be prescribed, doesn’t mean it isn’t dangerous. In fact, it’s the perception of safety that makes prescription drug abuse so dangerous. Studies show that a majority of abused prescription drugs are obtained from family and friends, including the home medicine cabinet.

Gateway Foundation Alcohol & Drug Treatment encourages you to be part of the solution to prescription drug abuse in America—properly dispose of your unwanted medicines and drop them off at designated locations on September 29. Please take advantage of this opportunity to safely discard prescription drugs in order to prevent unintended prescription drug abuse. Click here to find a list of National Take Back Initiative Collection(s) Sites in Illinois.

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