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New Study Finds Many Patients Unclear About Prescription Drug Addiction Risk

Educating Patients on Risks of Prescription Drug Addiction

Pill Addiction 2When you experience a health emergency, a visit to the hospital emergency room may be necessary. Though emergencies can take many forms, one of the leading prescribed drugs in hospital ERs are opioid painkillers. Despite the fact that prescription drug addiction continues to be a serious problem in our country, the powerful painkillers are routinely handed out because they are so effective in treating pain. A new study suggests that many patients receiving those drugs may not be fully aware of the risks involved in using them.

The Northwestern University study learned that 25 percent of patients in the ER don’t realize that opioid drugs are addictive. The other 75 percent of ER patients believe that there is an addiction ris k associated with using prescription painkillers. One quarter of patients is a significant proportion given the gravity of the risk. Researchers say that one way to bring that percentage down would be for doctors and nurses to spend more time dialoging with patients about the facts and risk associated with prescription painkillers.

For their research, investigators used 174 previously gathered patient responses accumulated during a longer and randomized study. The patient subjects had all been to the emergency room and been given a prescription for painkillers that combined acetaminophen and hydrocodone (like Vicodin). Several days later the patients were contacted and asked directly whether or not they considered their pain medication addictive.

The responses given reflect a patient population unclear about the true facts of prescription drug addiction. Many responses were based on personal experience or the words of others. Considering the fact that drug overdoses kill more Americans than car crashes and that 50 percent of those overdoses are linked to prescription drugs, it’s important to educate the public about the risks of prescription drug addiction.

If you or someone you care about has a problem with prescription drugs, help is available. Contact us at Family Guidance Center; we have experience helping countless others.

The Changing Face of Heroin Addiction

Heroin Addiction Replacing Prescription Drug Addiction as Leading Substance Abuse

heroine addictionThe U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has reported a new and worrying trend. Heroin addiction is replacing prescription drug abuse as a leading drug problem. In fact, while heroin has been increasingly taking the lives of males and females both young and old with little racial distinction (Latino, black and white), those considered most at risk for heroin addiction are very different from those considered at highest risk a decade and a half ago.

The new CDC report is derived from the study of 2013 drug-related death certificates in which heroin was a risk component. Comparing the statistics with those of previous years the CDC identified a 400 percent rise in heroin deaths since 2002. In recent years the problem of heroin addiction has escalated exponentially. Just five years ago (2010) there were 3,000 reported heroin-related deaths. In 2012 that figure climbed to 5,925 heroin-associated deaths and by 2013 8,257 Americans were lost to a heroin-linked fatality.

While the number of heroin-related overdose deaths is trending upward, the age of overdose deaths is trending downward. Fifteen years ago heroin deaths occurred mostly among older (45-64 years) black males living in the West or Northeast. Today, the majority of heroin deaths occur among young (18-44 years), white, Midwest males.

Just what accounts for the shift remains unclear. There are some who believe that heroin use is rising in tandem with decreased access to prescription drugs and among those who were initially opioid abusers. The CDC however, reports that 96 percent of heroin users also take other drugs, often prescription drugs. This shows a possible link between prescription drug use and rising heroin addiction. Prescription drug abuse can work as an early clue to high risk for heroin use.

The good news is that treatment for heroin addiction is available. If heroin is affecting someone you love, don’t wait until they become a statistic. Contact Family Guidance Center and let us help.

Prescription Drug Addiction Slowing Down Except Among the Elderly

Why Prescription Drug Addiction Among the Elderly Continues to Rise

As a person ages they face different health challenges in each stage of life. As older people face weakening health and undergo more medicalprescription drug addiction treatments and procedures compared to younger individuals, they often take more medications. As these medications increase, they are increasingly becoming ensnared in prescription drug addiction.

The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) reports that while deaths from prescription painkillers, known as opioids, have leveled off in every other age bracket, there has been a six-fold rise in opioid overdose deaths among those 55-74 years old. How can this be and how is it that prescription drug addiction can be going unnoticed in this age group?

One reason may be that some symptoms of addiction may be mistaken for signs of aging. Other times, doctors may be overprescribing to older patients with chronic or terminal illness. It’s also easier for an elderly body to overuse simply because it doesn’t metabolize drugs as efficiently as a younger body.

The fact that there are 75 million aging baby boomers in this country means that this problem could easily escalate if it is not addressed soon. However, even when family members recognize addiction or the individual is prepared to ask for help, treatment is not always successful in traditional group settings. Experience is showing that older rehab patients may need to be treated separately from younger patients in order to get the best results.

At Family Guidance Center we can help you when you have an elderly loved one who is abusing prescription drugs. We have experience helping family members of all ages to overcome dependence on substances. Call us soon.

Popular ADHD Medications a Source of Substance Abuse on College Campuses

substance abuseMost of us are sympathetic to the pressures of college. While incoming college freshmen may focus on school as their first “on-their-own” life experience, as students progress through college and approach graduation the reality of adulthood becomes a looming presence. That can mean an increasing pressure to perform well academically.

As the perceived pressure to earn good grades increases, students sometimes look for ways to gain a competitive edge. According to a meta-study conducted through the University of South Carolina more than one-sixth of college kids are turning to attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) stimulant medications to find that edge. Students are abusing drugs like Ritalin, Adderall and Concerta in hopes of improving study times, test-taking and overall academic performance.

The problem of stimulant substance abuse is a growing concern since more and more children are being diagnosed and prescribed treatment with these medications. This means that there are more entering college freshmen every year taking the drugs. Patients with an ADHD prescription are a popular source of supply for those engaged in illicit substance abuse.

Researchers chose 30 previous studies on the subject for their meta-analysis. Investigation showed that those most likely to be involved with stimulant substance abuse were white male upperclassmen with fraternity membership. Although these young men took the drugs to boost their scholastic prowess, the research showed that non-users actually perform better academically.

If you suspect your college student may be struggling with substance abuse, don’t look the other way hoping that it will end on graduation day. Instead, call and talk to one of our mental health professionals at Family Guidance. We can help guide you in approaching your child and provide step by step counsel in changing a dangerous pattern.

Drug Abuse Where You Don’t Expect To Find It

Mom 1The proliferation of prescription drugs has infiltrated mainstream culture and created drug abuse problems in segments of the population where it is often least expected. Adolescents, moms and senior citizens have all become increasingly represented at addiction treatment centers across the country.

1. Adolescents
The number of young people misusing prescription drugs now outstrips the number of those who abuse methamphetamine, heroin and cocaine put together. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) reports that eight percent of kids between the ages of 12-17 are struggling with prescription drug abuse. These drugs can interfere with important development still taking place in young, growing bodies.

2. Senior Citizens
On the other end of the spectrum are the elderly of whom 3 million are reportedly abusing prescription medications. Seniors often take several prescription drugs to treat various ailments and not always prescribed by the same physician. This means that they have more access to powerful drugs and less oversight over the use of those drugs. It is anticipated that as the baby boomer generation finishes entering retirement age, abuse problems could continue to climb among this age group.

3. Young Moms
Moms are attempting to do more than perhaps ever before. Many work outside the home. Yet moms still believe they should be able to manage affairs on the home-front, at their child’s school, in their marriage and as the family social director. It’s an impossible task they’ve set for themselves and when they fall short, they feel stressed. An alarming number of young moms have turned to prescription sedatives to help them cope. Millions are addicted.

Whoever you are and whatever circumstance has led you into drug abuse, help is available. The Family GuidanceCenter knows how to help. Contact us today.