Senior Citizens Using More Opiate Painkillers

Sneiors and Drug Use
The number of prescriptions for addictive painkillers like oxycodone and hydrocodone in the United States was skyrocketing over the past decade – until it became apparent that overdose deaths and opiate addiction rates were going through the roof as well. Since then, changes have been made that limit the availability of prescriptions to those who would abuse them, and as a result, the rate of painkiller abuse has gone down – except among senior citizens.

Seniors and Addictive Medication

According to a report on Medicare data published in USA Today, the use of sedatives and opiate painkillers is increasing sharply in the over-65 age group – an estimated one in five Americans over 65 has a prescription for a painkiller – and they are experiencing high rates of prescription drug abuse, addiction and medical complications as a result. The study found that:

  • Seniors are using prescription painkillers for longer than they used to.
  • The number of seniors with a prescription for painkillers increased 30 percent between 2007 and 2012.
  • An estimated 8.5 million seniors had an opiate prescription in 2012.
  • Use of the most commonly prescribed opiate medications (e.g., oxycodone, hydrocodone, etc.) increased by an estimated 50 percent.
  • The amount of each medication per patient increased by an average of 15 percent.
  • Prescriptions for sedatives prescribed to reduce anxiety increased by about 25 percent between 2007 and 2012. The average amount of medication prescribed increased by about 10 percent in that time.

The Problem With Addictive Medication

Sedatives and opiate painkillers can make the user hazy as well as reduce their agility and ability to process information. As a result, their chronic use can lead to an increase in:

When the patient uses these kinds of medications in combination, it can increase the chance that he or she will develop these kinds of problems. Michael Von Korff of the Group Health Research Institute in Seattle says: “Misuse and abuse of these medicines is not uncommon among the elderly. They do get into trouble with these drugs.”

Early Help Is Key

Paying attention is the first step to recognizing when there may be an issue with your loved one’s use of addictive painkillers and sedatives. Note the length of time that they have used the medications, their response, and whether or not they abuse alcohol or other drugs as well. If you see a problem, don’t wait to intervene. If addiction or willful abuse of their prescriptions is an issue, we can help. Contact us at Alta Mira today.

Google Trends May Be Tracking America’s Interest in Drugs

Alcohol Rehab Success Rate
America’s opinion on whether or not marijuana is dangerous, should be legalized, and their need for treatment for dependence upon the drug is now being tracked in a new and unique way: through an online tool called Google Trends. Others hope to use the tool as well, to track the interest in other drugs.

Why? A study that was presented at the College on Problems of Drug Dependence found that there was a link between the number of marijuana-related searches in a state and the use of the drug among residents.

Twenty marijuana-related search terms were included in the study, like “bong,” “THC,” “blunts,” cannabis,” and of course, “marijuana” and phrases like “smoke weed” or “smoke pot.”

Melissa Krauss was the study co-author. She said: “We looked at regional trends — differences across states in marijuana search terms, and then we compared those with marijuana abuse and dependence rates, people’s perception of availability of marijuana, and their perceptions of marijuana risks.”

Trends in Drug Use

As marijuana becomes legalized for medical use in more and more states, a number of problems are becoming an obvious issue. In the states where it is legal to use the drug:

  • Teens are having an easier time accessing marijuana and more are abusing the drug as a result.
  • More drugged driving accidents are occurring because drivers are under the influence of the drug.
  • More and more people are citing marijuana as their drug of choice when they enter rehab.
  • More people are being admitted to the ER for marijuana-related medical emergencies.

Legislators are trying to manage the problems by adjusting laws. For example, New York just legalized marijuana use for medicinal purposes in the state but put a number of restrictions into place in order to protect residents, including the fact that it can’t be smoked – only vaporized or eaten in the form of marijuana edibles. Other states are working to better define “drugged” driving when it comes to marijuana and put into place other limits that will keep residents safe as well.

Managing Marijuana Use

If your loved one is using marijuana legally or illegally and unable to manage the negative fallout, it may be time to seek help. Here at Alta Mira, we offer an intensive substance abuse and addiction treatment program that can assist your loved one in getting back on track by stopping the use of all drugs and alcohol and learning how to better cope with medical issues, mental health symptoms, and day-to-day stress. Call now to learn more.

Level of Intoxication Positively Associated With Higher Rates of Risky Sex

sad sick girl

Risky sexual behaviors – like unprotected sex or sex with poorly known partners – has long been linked to the abuse of drugs and alcohol. A study published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs found that the level of intoxication is further indicative of the likelihood that the drinker will engage in these behaviors. The researchers recommended focusing on the level of intoxication when addressing the potential for risky sexual behaviors that could result in issues like unwanted pregnancy or the contraction of hepatitis C or HIV.

Unsafe sex is only one of a thousand possible dangers that can befall those who drink to excess – health problems, financial issues, relationship stress, etc. – and that risk increases each time the person drinks heavily. Those who struggle with alcoholism, regular abuse of alcohol, and/or binge drinking have an even higher likelihood of falling victim to any one of these problems.

How can you help your loved one avoid the pitfalls of an alcohol use disorder?

Alcohol Use Disorders

There is a spectrum of disorders that fall under the classification of “alcohol use disorder.” Essentially, any use of alcohol that is problematic for the drinker and that the drinker is unable to control falls into this category. Binge drinking occurs when a woman drinks more than four alcoholic drinks and a man drinks more than five alcoholic beverages in a two-hour period, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Chronic drinking becomes an issue when a woman drinks more than seven drinks per week or a man drinks more than eight on a regular basis. Alcoholism is diagnosed when the person experiences withdrawal symptoms when without drugs or alcohol for any amount of time.

What all these disorders share in common is the risk to the drinker and everyone around him or her – and the fact that they are all treatable at an intensive and personalized rehabilitation program.

Clearing the Slate: Alcohol Rehab

No matter what your loved one’s experience with alcohol, here at Alta Mira we can help him or her to overcome the problem through our comprehensive treatment program. Learn more about our uniquely designed alcohol rehab and the different therapeutic interventions that we have to offer when you contact us at the phone number listed above today. We’re here to help you and your family create the lives that you deserve. Call now!

NIDA Director Nora Volkow Says Marijuana Can Be Addictive

heroin addiction
No more guesswork – the United States government has taken a laissez-faire approach to dealing with the issue of legalizing marijuana. Though it is illegal to use the drug for any purpose federally, state after state has legalized use of the drug for medicinal purposes and Washington State has decriminalized it while Colorado went so far as to legalize it recreationally. Many other states are filing the paperwork to do the same. While President Obama is focusing on other issues at the moment, the Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), Dr. Nora Volkow, didn’t mince words when writing for the New England Journal of Medicine.

Volkow pointed out that the evidence shows that 9 percent of people who try marijuana will ultimately develop an addiction to the drug. She noted too that that number rises to 17 percent when one looks only at the under-18 age group.

Said Dr. Volkow: “This is something that a lot of people who are pro-marijuana deny. The evidence shows otherwise.”

The Definition of Addiction

Whether or not someone begins taking a substance under a doctor’s order, there is a possibility of developing a dependence if it is a drug that creates a tolerance in the user. Marijuana is one of those substances, and the fact that it can be psychologically addictive as well due to its triggering of the pleasure/reward system in the brain adds up to the fact that it is an addictive drug by definition.

Says Dr. Volkow: “By making marijuana legal, you have more widespread use and many more health implications. We don’t need a third legal drug. We already have enough problems with the two we have.

Doesn’t Legality Bring More Safety and Regulation With It?

Not when it comes to marijuana. In the states where the drug is legalized for medicinal use,  there is little in the way of regulation of the growing process. Independent growers grow the plants and each of them has differing levels of THC content – the active ingredient in the drug that creates the “high.” Each plant is different, so there is no standardization of potency; every patient will experience something different when he or she uses the drug.

Also, when marijuana is “prescribed,” the patient is given a card that makes it legal for them to purchase and possess the drug in the amounts dictated by their state. There are no personal guidelines for dosage – how much, how often, how best to ingest the drug. The patient is left to experiment with smoking a wide range of types of marijuana or eating marijuana-laced edibles to determine what works for him and then forced to do it all over again as the inventory at his local “dispensary” changes.

When Marijuana Becomes the Problem

Even if marijuana is initially prescribed to treat symptoms of a troublesome disorder, it can quickly become the primary problem. Learn more about treating addiction as well as co-occurring disorders when you contact us at Alta Mira today.

Is Amazon Joining the Ranks of Illegal Online Drug Dealers?

prescription fentanyl
Illegal online pharmacies are the source of a wide range of illegal pharmaceuticals for those in the US who wish to abuse them. Google has been accused of connecting buyers with sellers by allowing these illegal pharmacies to place ads and letting their sites be found through their search engine. Now some are saying that is responsible for the sale of some prescription drugs through its marketplace too, contributing to the problem.

In a article, the writer details his wife’s search for acne medication on Upon finding one that was well-reviewed, she purchased the item. Her suspicions were aroused, however, when the package arrived – from Thailand and marked as a “gift.” Her husband, and the writer of the article, is a physician so she asked him about the main ingredient in the medication. Was it a prescription drug?

Yes, it was. A brief search revealed that also available on Amazon were a number of other prescription medications, including muscle relaxants that are addictive and anabolic steroids as well. The company, however, is not currently being investigated by the FDA.

Cutting Drug Abuse Off at the Source

There are a number of other sites where those drugs are exceedingly easy to get.  So how do you intercept illegal drugs in order to stop your addicted loved one from using them?

The fact is that that trying to stop the flow of illicit substances into your family member’s hands may not be the best way to address the problem. If your loved one is living with an active addiction, he will seek out his drug of choice by any means necessary.

The most effective way to tackle a drug problem in your family is to go directly to the addicted person. When they enroll in a comprehensive addiction treatment program, they will learn ways to:

  • Deal with cravings
  • Manage compulsive behavior
  • Replace old coping mechanisms with new positive ones
  • Build and rebuild positive relationships
  • Remain strong in the face of triggers to relapse

Find Out About Treatment Today

At Alta Mira, we offer a comprehensive experience in addiction treatment, helping your loved one to not only stop use of all illicit substances but also to learn how to create a life built on positivity and good health. Contact us today for more information.

Opiate Addiction and the Opiate Addict: 50 Years of Change

Fifty years ago, the typical opiate addict abused heroin. His initiation into opiate use began with his first dose of heroin, and the typical user was a minority, male, and lived in the inner city.

Today, these characteristics no longer define heroin addicts or their experience with addiction, according to a report published in the journal JAMA Psychiatry. First use of opiate drugs are usually painkillers like OxyContin and Vicodin, with users transitioning to the use of heroin after they are no longer able to maintain a painkiller addiction. Also, the typical heroin addict is now white, middle class, and living in the suburbs. The drug is equally popular among men and women.

The evolution of heroin addiction in the United States is nothing compared to the evolution of a person’s life once they begin using the drug regularly. How has heroin impacted your loved one’s life?

Initiation to Heroin Abuse

Today’s heroin addict often begins using heroin when he is unable to continue the flow of opiate painkillers. Pills are expensive, and doctors and pharmacists are cracking down on patients who try to get higher doses or seek to get the same prescriptions from multiple legitimate sources. Heroin, on the other hand, is much cheaper and often easier to come by, even though it is illegal.

A Slippery Slope

The negative changes that began during painkiller abuse only intensify and increase in number when the addicted person turns to heroin. It doesn’t take long for the person to begin experiencing issues that include:

  • Acute health problems (e.g., withdrawal symptoms that often begin within a few hours of the last dose)
  • Problems at work or finding a job
  • Issues with family members and close friends
  • Inability to manage the details of his life

Some people also begin to have legal problems as well, especially if they are caught buying, selling, or under the influence of the drug.

Coming Back From Addiction

Heroin doesn’t have to be the end of the road for an opiate addict. There are a number of different comprehensive care measures that can help your loved one stop using and start living a life that is based on positive and healthy choices.

Contact us at Alta Mira now to learn more about our evidence-based treatment program and how we can help your addicted family member make opiate addiction a part of his history and not his future.