Hydrocodone-Containing Drugs: a Leading Source of Prescription Drug Abuse
- Friday, 12 September 2014 10:00
Family Guidance Center
Hydrocodone combination products (HCP) have stirred up disagreement for many years on how tightly the government should regulate use of drugs which are not pure hydrocodone but which contain the potent opiate.
What Are Drug Schedules?
Most of the drugs doctors prescribe to treat health concerns are not classified (Scheduled) – meaning that there are not overarching controls on their use. The only drugs which get scheduled are those with a potential for drug abuse or those with no recognized medical value (illegal drugs). The greater the drug abuse danger, the tighter the controls. Drugs are classed from Schedule I (illegal, high addiction risk, no medical value) to Schedule V (very low addiction risk – cough syrup with codeine, for example).
Why Move HCP?
Right now hydrocodone alone is classified as a Schedule II drug, meaning that its use is tightly monitored because the drug has a high addiction risk. Drugs like Percocet, Vicodin or their generics, mix hydrocodone with acetaminophen or aspirin. Since there is a smaller amount of hydrocodone in these drugs they
have been classified less tightly, as Schedule III.
In 2011 more Americans died from drug overdose than were killed in car crashes and more than half
of those deaths involved prescription drugs. Since HCP represent the most prescribed drugs in the nation, they are a big part of this problem. The DEA has finally prevailed in its argument that HCP deserve to be included in the Schedule II classification. The change will take place in early October.
What’s the Difference?
The difference between Schedule III and Schedule II has to do with ease of access. With a Schedule III drug, the doctor is able to call in a prescription and can write a script for longer-term refills without an office visit. Drugs on Schedule II need a hand-written prescription and after 90 days the patient
must visit the doctor for a new (refill) prescription.
Hardly anyone starts out abusing Schedule I drugs like heroin. Instead, they often start by misusing more available drugs somewhere else on the Schedule. HCP, then, can be a gateway drug. For this reason, no matter how much hydrocodone a medication contains, it deserves careful oversight. If you or someone close to you is involved with drug abuse there is a way out. Contact the behavioral health professionals at Family Guidance and learn how they can help.
Depression Among Older, Caucasian Men Poses the Greatest Suicide Risk
- Tuesday, 09 September 2014 10:00
Family Guidance Center
Depression affects more people than any other mental health disorder. Research suggests that 16.6 percent of Americans will experience serious depression (referred to as major depressive disorder) at some period during their lifetime. Among women, some studies suggest the rate may be as high as 20 percent. Unfortunately, one episode of major depression often predicts future episodes.
Depression and Suicide
Depression carries with it many significant side effects. Apart from prolonged feelings of sadness and hopelessness, people with depression often become socially isolated, have trouble sleeping or concentrating and find difficulty truly enjoying many of life’s normal pleasures. Suicide is the most severe side effect. According to the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), suicide poses the greatest threat to depressed, Caucasian, older men.
Why Older, Caucasian Males?
There are no clear explanations as to why this is so, but several theories have been examined. For one thing, men seem more reluctant to seek out treatment and so their depression may become unbearable more often. In addition, men tend to make more violent attempts to take their life and so may succeed more often compared to women. Some experts have even suggested that white males enjoy the greatest amount of success in society and so may have fewer opportunities to learn coping skills which are formed through dealing with loss, disappointment and struggle.
Prevention is Key for Reducing Suicide Rate
Whatever the cause, the most serious danger seems to come from relapse. Having a single period of severe depression makes it much more likely that another bout of depression will turn up one day. This is even true for patients who seek out treatment. The patterns of negative thinking which contribute to depression may become a default pattern when stress increases. For this reason, some experts believe that prevention is the real key to reducing the suicide rate among older white men – or anyone.
It is better to get help when a person is beginning to feel depressed rather than waiting until it is severe. If you or someone close to you has been feeling down for several weeks without an obvious cause, contact Family Guidance today.
New School Year Anxiety for Children and Adolescents
- Friday, 05 September 2014 10:00
Family Guidance Center
Most of us entering a new situation experience a certain degree of anxiety. It is the case for adults starting a new job or moving into a new town and for kids facing a brand new year of school. Parents may be tuned in to potential anxiety when their child enters school for the very first time but, actually, every new school year can bring on fresh bouts of fear and worry.
Children and adolescents often feel a desire to return to the social world of the classroom by summer’s end even as they fear it. Will they succeed academically? Will they connect socially? And if they are beginning in a new school building – will they be able to find classrooms, lockers and bathrooms without looking foolish? These concerns are often present even if your child doesn’t verbalize them to you. So how can you, the parent, know when your child is struggling with anxiety about going back to school?
Clues to Unspoken Anxiety
- Lots of questions pertaining to school
- Increased nervous behaviors such as nail chewing, disturbed sleep, unexplained stomach problems or headaches
- Irritability or sudden attachment
How to Help
As a parent you can help your child work through their anxiety by talking over specific fears. Visits to the bus stop or the school can defuse some of the worry about finding things, making them less of an unknown. It will also lower stress if your home has a prepared atmosphere. Make sure book bags, school supplies and lunch items are all in place before the first day of class. Let children know that it is perfectly normal to feel anxious about walking into a new environment and that anxiety will not last forever.
Most of the time, as things at school start to become routine, your child’s level of anxiety will start to go down. If fears and unease persist after the first month or six weeks it may be a good idea to have your child evaluated by a mental health professional. Behavioral Health Professionals at Family Guidance work with children and adolescents every day, helping them learn to cope positively with anxiety and other powerful emotions.
Prescription Drug Abuse Among Young Adults
- Tuesday, 02 September 2014 10:00
Family Guidance Center
Despite concerted efforts to stem the tide of prescription drug abuse it is a problem which continues to plague our nation’s young people. The sheer numbers of prescription painkillers, stimulants and sedatives being used are staggering. Experts say about 100 Americans die each and every day as a result of prescription drug overdose.
Not a Matter of Overt Pressure
The efforts of drug makers, law enforcement and even the federal government are failing to change the high risk behavior. A new study finds that the behavior isn’t changing precisely because young people do not view it as high risk. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)- funded research says that interventions based on confronting overt peer pressure are misdirected. The Purdue University study says that direct peer pressure is not what drives prescription drug abuse among young people. It’s far more subtle than that.
Easy to Get
Researchers talked with 600 young adults and learned that few are won over with the “try this…all the cool kids use drugs” line. Instead, young people see a good number of their friends using the drugs and having a good time and, at the same time, never see any negative side effects. Multiple studies report that 70 percent of prescription drug users get their drugs from either a family member or a friend – meaning that the drugs are readily available.
Fun to Use
Easy availability and the subtle influence of observed peer behavior are hard issues to fight. Young people perceive significant social advantages and little negative social backlash to abusing prescription drugs. Until we figure out how to confront those subtleties, turning the tide of abuse will be difficult.
Family Guidance is a place where professionals understand how easy it is to fall into drug abuse but are ready and able to help show young people the way out. If prescription drugs are a problem in your life, contact us today.