Narcotic Addiction – the epidemic and new strategies

Meds bathroom
Prolonged use at higher than necessary doses can lead to opioid (narcotic) addiction

Narcotic addiction is now at epidemic proportions. Drug abuse has been with us for all of recorded time. The specifics of the drug(s) most commonly abused change over time. Sometimes the most abused drugs fall out of favor for a while and then reemerge. Common examples from the past few decades include LSD, cocaine, crack cocaine, and inhalants.

Right now, prescription opioid pain medicines (narcotics) are being abused at an alarming rate.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), 2 million people abused or were dependent on opioid analgesics in 2014.

Refer back to last week’s blog. Terms are very important here. Dependence is a physiologic response to these medications. Anyone who takes them over time will have some changes in how their body handles pain signals. The body’s normal response takes a backseat to the medication. In order for the body to take over again, the medication needs to be titrated off slowly. If you stop the medication all of a sudden, the body goes through withdrawal. It can’t take back over the pain control that quickly. It needs time to gear up. NOTE, this type of dependence and withdrawal is different than ADDICTION.

Addiction

Genetic, psychosocial, and environmental factors all play a role in the creation of an addiction.

Addiction usually occurs when the opioid medication is continued after the pain has gotten better. Sometimes people keep taking the medication for the effects beyond the pain relief. Some people feel a euphoria or high while others are very laid back.   If they keep continuing the medication for this purpose, then addiction can occur. Not only are the body’s receptors letting the medication handle pain it is seeking these other effects. Over time it takes a higher dose more frequently to get the same amount of desired effect. So, doses keep going up and desire to take the medication is very strong.

The FBI and the DEA created a documentary about this addiction. If you would like to know more, I highly encourage you to watch this video. You can find it at this link: https://www.fbi.gov/news/stories/2016/february/raising-awareness-of-opioid-addiction/video/chasing-the-dragon-the-life-of-an-opiate-addict.

In March of this year (2016), the CDC released new guidelines for prescribing of these medications. If you would like to read them, you can find it at this link: http://www.cdc.gov/drugoverdose/prescribing/guideline.html . These guidelines are emphasizing less use.  Use only for moderate to severe pain.  Use at the lowest possible dose for the shortest time possible. There are other, non-addictive options for lesser pain.

When people addicted to prescribed opioid pain medications can’t get more prescriptions, they often turn to heroin. This is another opioid substance that is illegal but sadly, easier to get ‘on the street’. This allows the addicted person to keep getting the effects they are seeking. Note, at this point, addicted people realize this is a miserable, horrifying state. But the demands for more drugs override common sense. Again, I highly recommend watching the video created by the FBI and DEA.

So overcoming this epidemic is being addressed from the prevention side by the new prescribing guidelines. It is also being addressed through new medications and techniques to help people escape the addiction. So, there is hope for the future with this addiction!

If you would like to know more about narcotic addiction, new steps to address it, or similar topics, contact us at www.medsmash.com.

BIBLICAL APPLICATION

Temptation has been part of our world since Adam and Eve, the very first people. It did not take mankind long at all to prove how difficult resistance to temptation can be.

I first want to send a loud, clear message that love, compassion, forgiveness, and constant support are key elements of walking away from addiction. Rather than avoid, isolate, and punish those who find themselves addicted, we have a calling to reach out in love and be part of that crucial support network.

Proverbs 17:17 TLB

A true friend is always loyal, and a brother is born to help in time of need.

1 Peter 4:8 NIV

Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.

I want to write about temptation and the fact that it is a fact of life. God knows all about the temptations in our path. He is also there to help us through. And when we are entangled in a temptation that we did not resist, He is there to bring us back away from it.

1 Corinthians 10:13 ESV

No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.

1 Peter 5:8 ESV

Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.

James 1:12-15 ESV

Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him. Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.

1 John 2:16 ESV

For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions—is not from the Father but is from the world.

I pray you are always aware of the temptation around you and the help available to you at all times from God. I also hope you find opportunities to reach out to those who have fallen into temptation and love them back out of that snare. That love might be tough love, but the Bible is full of examples of that too. Check out Luke 6:27-49.

Blessings,

Michelle

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