Categories
Addiction Heroin Opiates

OxyContin Use Down, Heroin Use On the Rise

When the manufacturers of OxyContin changed their formula in 2010 to lesson its potential for abuse, I don’t think they intended to drive addicts to use other drugs. Unfortunately, that’s what happened. As a result of OxyContin’s new formula being harder to snort or inject, addicts ultimately flocked to the streets. The unfortunate drug of choice: heroin—because it’s easier to obtain and cheaper than its pharmaceutical counterpart.

Dr. Theodore Cicero, professor of neuropharmacology in psychiatry at Washington University, and the principal investigator for a three-year research study of OxyContin use noticed a significant drop in OxyContin use after its formula change.  In fact, “Respondents indicating OxyContin as their primary drug of abuse dropped from 35.6 percent at the start of the study to 12.8 percent now.”   Further, the number of subjects who stated they’d used OxyContin to get high at least once in the last 30 days “fell from 47.4 percent to 30 percent.” Unfortunately, the Washington University team found that their respondents’ use of heroin grew from 5 percent to 15 percent—these numbers nearly tripled during that same 30-day period!

Addicts and drug abusers had clearly moved to the streets, the suburbs, and to heroin. They have essentially migrated toward a drug that is easier to inject or snort, much like the old formulation of OxyContin.  Dr. Cicero compared drug abuse to a “large balloon.” He explains it thusly,  “You press in one area, and the volume doesn’t decrease, it just simply moves to another spot.” This analogy fits well here as we look at the decline in OxyContin use and the increase in heroin use. As Dr. Cicero’s analogy deftly points out, the Oxy problem hasn’t really been solved; it has just been diverted.

While OxyContin is regulated and easily identifiable, heroin is not. In a weird way, you know what you’re getting with Oxy. But let’s be honest, anytime we put something in our arm or in our noses in an effort to alter our mind and body, we are playing the part of lab rat. Heroin is a problem: it’s unpredictable from one source to the next – sometimes it’s nearly pure, increasing one’s potential for an overdose.

The bottom line is the overall increase in opioid use: this is troublesome and growing into an epidemic. While we can treat addicts when they’re ready, how can we prevent addiction or abuse in the first place? Let’s start the conversation before it becomes a problem, taking preventative measures during the early years of our children’s lives: that perfect time when they’re just starting to dip their toes in the burgeoning years of curious adolescence.

Categories
Mental Health Mindfulness Recovery Self-Care Spirituality

Deepening Our Recovery With Yoga and Meditation

recovery |riˈkəvərē|

noun

1. a return to a normal state of health, mind, or strength;

2. the action or process of regaining possession or control of something stolen or lost. 

This Statue of Shiva (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When we begin the process of recovery from various addictions, some may be surprised to find there are a number of approaches to recovery. This is promising. It means recovery isn’t one-size-fits-all, and it means there is hope for those who may be having some difficulties finding their way. While some of us may solely lean on the 12 steps to create a foundation in recovery, others find they can also lean on the Eastern practices of yoga and meditation. The latter two provide a unique path for practitioners to compassionately look at themselves and develop the means to create a healing “space” within the mind and body. In this way, yoga and meditation encourage an internal healing, and ultimately nurture our minds and bodies toward a spiritual and physical recovery. These modalities cultivate recovery by using a most practical tool: the breath. “Our breath is portable,” says Sharon Salzberg, a renowned meditation teacher. No one can see it, touch it, or take it away from you. It is simple, yet powerful in its silence.

When we engage in our addictive behaviors, we disconnect from ourselves and from our bodies: I remember distinctly using so I didn’t have to feel. I sought to desensitize my mind, body and soul by means of drugs, alcohol, starvation and self-harming.  In sobriety, this behavior often continued with the transference of addictive behaviors, proving that the desire to nullify emotions or sensations is sometimes stronger than the desire to face them. Here’s where things like yoga and meditation are remarkable. They gently encourage you to come back to the present; to face the shadows; to embrace the often difficult process of recovery. This doesn’t mean you can or should ignore the 12 steps. Rather, yoga and meditation are what allow you to take the foundation you create with the steps to a deeper place. In this way, yoga and meditation facilitate our innate ability to undo the physical erosion created by our addictions.

I recently took a class with Seane Corn called “Yoga for a Broken Heart.” For an hour and a half, she addressed the physical manifestations of grief, compassionately leading us through the process of creating a healing space within our bodies with movement and breath. At one point, she said, “You can’t have light without the shadows.” How apropos for the recovering mind! It reminded me that none of us come into recovery without demons or shadows. We all have them, and we probably had them while we were using. In fact, how many of us used because of them? I know I did. Frankly, the sheer thought of turning to face them was abhorrent to me, and in the beginning, I did it with so much resistance, the shadows sometimes won. Truth be told, we come into recovery with an unspoken need to grieve. Modalities like yoga and meditation show us a way to create the space in our bodies to face that grief with compassion instead of anger and fear. Think of it this way: when we use, we disallow the grieving process by blocking it with “stuff.” Imagine what would happen if we gently removed that extraneous stuff and began to let it go. We can do that with these practices. We can allow what is to just be and we can let go of the things that are holding us back.

With yoga, we are graced with a set period of time where our breath takes precedence. We are afforded the opportunity to let go of the competitive mind and face the very thing we’ve been avoiding: ourselves. As we cultivate this space, we learn to give ourselves the love and attention we sought with our addictive behaviors. We begin to practice the art of forgiveness and become compassionate toward ourselves. We ultimately learn to find comfort in our skin, in our bodies, and in our minds. Through this process, we can and will find light in the shadows.

For more information, check out:

Mindfulness-Based Relapse Prevention

Yoga for Addiction Recovery

Q & A With Tommy Rosen

Mindfulness and Meditation (weekly meetings)

 

Categories
Addiction Adolescence Prevention

Latest Study: Teens and RX Drugs–Provokes Call for Early Prevention

According to a recent study by Michigan State Researchers, the “Peak risk for misusing prescription pain relievers occurs in mid-adolescence, specifically about 16 years old and earlier than many experts thought.” (Science Daily)

It’s always been assumed that drug and alcohol use starts in the latter years of adolescence, and while that may be the average, by the time some of these kids hit high school, preventative measures may be too late. This study is suggesting that preventative programs be introduced much earlier than in current practice. I echo this sentiment and am a huge proponent of early preventative measures. How early? As soon as the questions start coming up. You can make a difference at home too:

  • Tell your child in a general way what drugs are and how they can negatively impact their life.
  • Teach the value and power  of saying “No” and walking away from people or situations where drugs are involved.
  • Store your medications responsibly: Behind lock and key if necessary.
  • Model good behavior: if you are stressed, take a deep breath instead of a drink or a pill. Your kids learn from you first.
  • Transparency: If you are in recovery, and your kids ask you a question about your history, answer them within reason.
  • Know who your kids’ friends are and who their parents are.
  • Stay in tune with current events and trends.
  • Be social media savvy so you can understand the temperature of this generation.
  • If you discover drugs or alcohol on your child, use it as a doorway to create dialogue.  If you find that the drug use is more of a pattern, please get some help.

There are definitely organizations that teach preparedness and prevention, but the first teachers our kids ever have is us. Showing our kids we’re there for them may be the best preventative measure of all.

You can also check out:

NIDA for Teens

SAMHSA

Prevention Plus

Categories
Addiction Mental Health Recovery

Are We Quicker to Judge Than We Are to Love?

Whitney Houston - Concert in Central Park / Good Morning America 2009 - Manhattan NYC (Photo credit: asterix611)

I wasn’t planning on writing about the death of Whitney Houston, because I try not to saddle up to the hyperbole surrounding celebrity and their downfalls. However, as news of her death began to unfold, what I noticed wasn’t kindness or compassion in the public’s reaction and commentary, but an uncensored, callous backlash referencing her addiction. Mind you, the cause of her death is purely speculative at this point–the negative comments began without evidence of an overdose or confirmation from the medical examiner. Makes me wonder, would this commentary be the same if she’d had cancer? I don’t think so. Why? Because cancer is a disease without stigma.

 
Addiction is just that: a disease. When we talk about diseases, we talk about things we can understand: cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and so on. But when addiction is spoken of, it’s often considered a poor choice someone is making. No one consciously chooses to become an addict. Addiction is a disease, just like any other, but unfortunately, it comes with the stigma of oft-repeated failures and sullied reputations.

 
What I’m talking about isn’t really Whitney Houston and the tragedy of her death, but about addiction and recovery and all of the mixed-up perceptions that come along with it. Can we, with all of our amends and life changes recreate our image in the public sphere? What about the private sphere?  Or will we always remain the person who “can’t make a good choice.” In cases like this, it would appear that no matter what we do in our recovery, no matter how long we stay clean and sober, if something goes wrong, drugs and alcohol are the first accusations that come to mind. But I call foul, because I know far too many people with long-term recovery who have turned their lives around and become outstanding, respectable human beings.

 
Addiction doesn’t give a hoot if you’re rich, poor, famous, infamous, fat, thin, talented, ugly or beautiful; all it cares about is sinking its hooks into you. Where addiction differs from other diseases is in its effect on those who come in contact with it: families, friends, classmates, teachers, fans, or the cat pouring your coffee at Starbucks. There’s no doubt it’s a selfish disease, but it still requires compassion and kindness. When I first got sober, I was a bit screwball—my sober big brother loves to tell people I was feral—but ultimately, the thing that kept me coming back wasn’t judgment, it was kindness. When I heard “Let us love you until you can learn to love yourself,” I thought it was hokey. But you know what? It worked a hell of a lot better than damnation and shame.

 
So, whatever took Whitney, be it drugs or some anomaly with her health, perhaps we should honor her for the woman and legend she was rather than berate her with misunderstood perceptions of a disease. Reverend Al Sharpton echoed this sentiment when he said, “Don’t remember the rumors. Remember the voice God gave this lady and she gave that voice to the world. (She) was an international icon. Whatever she did was on the front page. Don’t delve in the mess. All of us have some mess.”

 

Remember, though our past may have influenced the way we see the world, it does not define us unless we allow it to do so. In recovery, we do have a choice: we can choose how we interact with the world and how we engage in the present.

 

__

Love this from Voice in Recovery: Whitney Houston’s Death and Addiction Stigma 

 

Categories
Mental Health Recovery

Facing Our Fears & Meeting Our Grief

It takes more strength to feel your feelings than it does to hide them. As counterintuitive as it may seem, I’ve found this to be true. Because we encounter so much anxiety and depression in our lives and in our recovery, it ‘s appropriate to also notice the element of grief which often acts as the undercurrent and silent driving force. If there’s a history of abuse or abandonment, neglect, or bullying, there is grief. If a parent suffers from a mental illness and/or addiction, there is grief. If there’s social anxiety, there is grief. It’s a pervasive feeling, and one which we often ignore or pass off as a phase, something that happens in passing. But in recovery, be it from addiction or mental illness or both, we need to address it.

How do we face our fears—especially when they are paralyzing? How do we defy this part of being human which urges us to avoid pain at all costs? We eat to feel better, drink and smoke to feel better, have sex to feel better, live on our phones to feel better, surf the Internet to feel better, ad infinitum. We do whatever it takes to go as far as possible from that nagging pain in our guts. With the addictive personality, this behavior is even more pronounced. If there’s a mental illness co-occurring but not acknowledged, the desire to resist the fear and feelings might be even greater. It can get pretty darn lonely, especially when one’s ego and fear kick in, coupled with a refusal to ask for help.

Certainly, there is an imperative to face these fears and the grief associated with them, but we can’t do it all at once. Since it requires us to look deeply within, I have found it far more beneficial to do in pieces. Even in a therapeutic environment, one doesn’t address every single issue at once. The trouble is, addicts and alcoholics don’t like to do anything in pieces. It’s usually all or nothing. It takes a new outlook and a commitment to slowing down to start to change that perspective. But it is possible.  Keep in mind, alcoholism and addiction are oftentimes symptoms of a much greater problem. The question is, are we brave enough to determine what that problem is?  If it’s a mental illness, do we have the courage to take care of it appropriately?

Instead of attempting to lift a tree to see its roots, try lifting one leaf at a time. Eventually, when it’s time to lift the tree, it may not be as heavy.

 

Categories
Recovery Service Treatment

Visions Hits Double-Digits: Celebrating a Decade of Adolescent Treatment

This past decade, Visions has set a mission to provide a treatment plan that truly caters to youth and their families. We’ve coexisted alongside a myriad of recovery centers, working hand in hand with them to bring a sense of healing to the entirety of the family dynamic. As we celebrate 10 years of providing treatment, our professional growth, and the program development we’re embarking on, it behooves us to acknowledge and celebrate our treatment team and the culture they have built at Visions.

There is something that lies within every single person at Visions, something which connects all of us in a very unique way. As I’ve sat and pondered what that “thing” is, I‘ve realized it’s the sense of being of service which we all embody. The thing that drives us to get up and “do it again” isn’t the promise of a paycheck or the gratification of completing a task on time; instead, it’s the desire to put forth the effort in watering the seeds of recovery planted at the very beginning of treatment. It’s a continuum, this process, one which starts at intake and continues on to supporting healthy living. There is no “end” to the dedication and perseverance of our team. Selflessness is what I continue to notice about those who’ve been here since the beginning and in those just planting their feet. There is an element of altruism within the team, not forced, just naturally there and engaged beyond any expectations placed upon us by simply being an employee.

Amidst all of the selflessness and service, however, runs an underlying tone of never taking ourselves too seriously.  The team wears their hearts on their sleeves and carries laughter in their hearts. Frankly, we can’t see any other way to show our clients our authenticity.  As we know, adolescence is strife with the mistrust of adults and a deep need for autonomy; having adults who care for them and are willing to share their ability to be themselves while maintaining positive boundaries is crucial. There’s nothing forced about this, and the organic factor allows us to be consistent in our care and treatment. Remember, teens can suss out a fake in two seconds flat…especially when it comes to adults.

The treatment world understands a language all its own.  It feels the pain of the mentally ill, the addict, the depressed, the eating disordered, the anxious, and the suicidal. From our perspective, there’s no judgment, just the sincere effort to help someone heal. There comes a point where the need to “just” be of service ceases to solely focus on recovery and begins to seep into paving the path to living better lives. At Visions, we shoot for the families’ new beginning and aim to be the best examples of recovery, compassion and fun. As Dr. Seuss liked to say, “Fun is good.”

Categories
Recovery

Know Your Facts: The Increase in Prescription Drug Abuse

(part 2 of 3)

Monitoring the Future released their latest study, noting that alcohol use was down, but marijuana, synthetic marijuana, and prescription drugs were up. In part one of this series, we focused on marijuana and its synthetic counterparts, bringing attention to the
perceived harmlessness of marijuana and the growing trend toward the use of synthetics. Here, we’ll talk about the rampant use of prescription drugs and the myriad dangers which accompany their use.

When it comes to prescription drugs, the ease of acquisition is often as simple as going through a parents’ or relative’s medicine cabinet, raiding a friend’s house, or simply trading with friends at school or at parties. The use of opioid prescriptions like Oxycontin and Vicodin are rampant…and deadly. As reported in Monitoring the Future’s 2010 National Results on Adolescent Drug Use: Overview of Key Findings, “54% of high-school seniors said ‘opioid drugs other than heroin (e.g., Vicodin) would be fairly easy to get.’” Why are teens using prescription drugs with such frequency? Could it simply be the ease with which they’re obtained? Or is it the built-in societal respect for doctors and their judgment which allows us to look away when the pen flies across the prescription pad.

Take note of the behaviors and physical symptoms which surround prescription drug addiction (via Educate Before You Medicatewww.talkaboutrx.org):

Behavioral signs:

  • Sudden mood changes:
    • Irritability
    • Negativity
    • Personality change
    • Extreme change in friends or hangout locations
    • Lying or being deceitful
      • Skipping school
      • Avoiding eye contact
      • Losing interest in personal appearance, extracurricular activities, sports
      • Sudden changes in appetite
      • Sudden drop in grades and/or academic or athletic involvement
      • Borrowing money or having extra, unexplained cash
      • Acting especially angry or abusive, or engaging in reckless behavior

 Physical Signs and Symptoms (these are varied, depending on the drug being used/abused):

Stimulants can bring about:

  • Hyperactivity
  • Shaking
  • Sweating
  • Dilated pupils
  • Fast or irregular heartbeat
  • Elevated body temperature
  • Seizures
  • Paranoia/nervousness
  • Repetitive behaviors
  • Loss of appetite or sudden and unexplained weight loss

Sedatives/depressants can bring about:

  • Loss of coordination
  • Respiratory depression
  • Slowed reflexes
  • Slurred speech
  • Coma

Opioids can bring about:

  • Sleep deprivation or “nodding.”
  • Pinpoint/constricted pupils, watery or droopy eyes
  • Nausea, vomiting, constipation
  • Slow, slurred speech
  • Slow gait
  • Dry skin, itching, infections
  • Constant flu-like symptoms
  • Track marks (bruising at injection sites)

The unfortunate, but common misconception is that prescription drug use is safer than illegal drugs like cocaine and heroin: because it’s been prescribed, it’s “okay.” The problem with this ideology is doctors consistently prescribe and sometimes inadvertently over-prescribe narcotics, A: because they work, and B: because it’s easy. What this influx of prescription drugs does, however, is provide an underground stockpile of prescription opioids in the homes of our adolescents and their friends. As patients, start asking for non-narcotic alternatives. It makes no difference to the doctor but it may make the difference of life and death for you or someone in your family.

Start disposing of any unused medications and store those that are necessary in a secured place. Honestly, these days, the medicine cabinet should probably only be used for toothpaste and Tiger Balm.

Categories
Addiction Marijuana Smoking Synthetic Drugs

Marijuana and its Synthetic Counterparts: A Look at a New Study

Part one of a three-part blog, wherein I will begin to address the use of marijuana and synthetic marijuana. Stay tuned for parts 2 and 3, where I will address the increase in prescription drug and hookah use.

Recent studies elicited by Monitoring the Future (MTF) show a decrease in alcohol consumption and tobacco use; at the same time, they found an increase in the use of alternate tobacco products (hookah, small cigars, smokeless tobacco), marijuana, and prescription drugs.

One explanation for the increase in marijuana consumption is a lower perceived risk: “In recent years, fewer teens report seeing much danger associated with its use, even with regular use.” The call to legalize marijuana has also contributed to this new perception by extinguishing some of the associated stigma. As a result, we are seeing a denial of risk and a decline in disapproval amongst our adolescent counterparts. There seems to be a viable change in societal norms occurring at the adolescent level. No longer is marijuana use relegated to the “losers,” but rather it is now part and parcel to one’s normative social interactions with anyone, regardless of socio-economic status. With the advent of synthetic marijuana, the perception of danger has been further clouded by the sheer fact that these synthetic substances can be purchased almost anywhere. The surge in the use of synthetic marijuana products like Spice and K2 has created a maelstrom of reported symptoms which include:

  • paranoia;
  • loss of consciousness;
  • hallucinations, and;
  • psychotic episodes.

We currently see more and more kids coming into treatment with a history of Spice and K2 use. And Gil Kerlikoeske, Director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) points out that, “Poison control center data across America has shown a substantial rise in the number of calls from victims suffering serious consequences from these synthetic drugs.” Currently, the House has voted on a ban of synthetic drugs like Spice, K2, bath salts, et cetera, asking that it be added to the “highly restrictive Schedule 1 of the Controlled Substances Act.” So far, approximately 40 states have passed laws which criminalize Spice and other synthetic substances.

Whether banned or not, there needs to be open dialogue about Spice and K2 and its various counterparts. These synthetics are popping up faster than the DEA can regulate them, proving that the drug environment is changing before our eyes. As such, it’s imperative we stay fluent in the language of our teens, and the social environments in which they operate. We all know the “thrill of the high” is often associated with the verboten nature of its purchase and consumption. Open dialogue removes the mystery, and frankly, it’s not enough to rely upon the justice system to provide the answers.

Categories
Parenting Recovery Transparency

Tell It Like It Is

One thing is clear, there isn’t a definitive handbook for child-rearing. And while we

Image via Wikipedia

parents try our darndest to “do the right thing,” we often fall flat on our faces as a result of being mired by our own childhood stories. I think I can safely say that most of us didn’t grow up in some idealized version of Leave it to Beaver, which is not to say that all of us suffered hellish childhoods either. Still, we have to be careful that we don’t project our own experiences and expectations onto our children. If anything, parenting provides us the opportunity to do things differently. For those of us in recovery, that may also mean facing very real fears that our kids will follow in our sullied footsteps: drinking and using much like we once did.

Adolescence is all about pushing boundaries, experimentation, breaking rules, rebellion, and other assorted behaviors us parents typically loathe. And somewhere in the midst of diaper changes, spit up, and pre-adolescence, many of us simply forget what it was like to grow up. So, if we come across our very own “little Bobby” hung over or high, we are tend to fly off the handle. The truth is, that’s the last thing we should be doing. Our indignation and outrage automatically puts our kids on the defensive, making us the bad guys and the enemy, preventing them from opening up to us. They’re already exerting their independence, distancing themselves from us as much as possible, so being reactive parents will just push them further away. Precisely what we don’t want to do during adolescence. Face it, our teens will rebel. It’s in their nature. But it’s our responsibility to learn to respond to that rebellion skillfully. Even if it means confronting suspected or known drug and alcohol use.

If you suspect drugs or alcohol abuse or already know your child is using, these are some tips from The Partnership for a Drug Free America:

  • Talk to your partner or spouse and get in alignment with one another. You need to have a united front.
  • Expect denial and even anger.
  • Let your teen know you are coming from a place of love and concern.
  • Prepare to be called a hypocrite.
    • If you are in recovery, show some transparency. Your experience and its outcome is a teaching tool.
    • If you smoke or drink, you will more than likely be called out on it by your teen.
    • Have some evidence. Denial is a key component during these sorts of confrontation.
    • Work toward a desirable and realistic outcome: don’t expect full disclosure.
    • Formulate rules and consequences with your partner/spouse beforehand. The last thing you want to do is make snap decisions.
      • Don’t set rules you can’t enforce.
      • If you have addiction within the family, discuss your child’s pre-disposition toward addiction.
      • Be transparent. Talking about your past in a general way is helpful. If we aren’t honest with our kids, how can we expect them to be honest with us?

On occasion, our young ones will ask us questions we may feel are inappropriate or too revealing to answer truthfully, but as puberty hits, and curiosity burgeons, it’s really the time to answer these things as best we can. Our fears and issues need to be set aside, because it’s in those teachable moments where we can affect change. It’s in those moments of honesty and openheartedness where we can provide outlines for healthy perspectives on alcohol, drugs, sexuality, media use, et cetera. Our kids, whether they admit it or not, rely on us to be steady and forthright. If they can’t lean on us, or depend on us, who can they lean on? Who can they trust if we stumble and trip over our own lies while we encourage them to tell the truth? It’s time to be transparent with our teens; they need us to.

Categories
Addiction Opiates

At Death’s Door: An Overdosing “Epidemic”

Image by TerryJohnston via Flickr

According to preliminary data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention(CDC), “Drugs exceeded motor vehicle accidents as a cause of death in 2009, killing at least 37,485 people nationwide.”

What we have is a growing epidemic of pharmaceutical overdoses, where the age of users and overdose victims vary from teens trying to achieve a heroin-like high to adults attempting to manage a slipped disc, or other painful injury. Some of the most commonly abused drugs are OxyContin, Vicodin, Xanax and Soma, but I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Fentanyl, a relative newcomer, but a dangerous one nonetheless. Fentanyl’s allure is its heroin-like high along with its unassuming portability: it comes in the form of lollypops and patches and packs a punch 100 times harder than morphine. It’s drugs like these which are responsible for more deaths than heroin and cocaine combined.

  • Prescription painkiller overdoses killed nearly 15,000 people in the US in 2008. This is more than 3 times the 4,000 people killed by these drugs in 1999.
  • In 2010, about 12 million Americans (age 12 or older) reported nonmedical use of prescription painkillers in the past year.
  • Nearly half a million emergency department visits in 2009 were due to people misusing or abusing prescription painkillers.
  • Enough opiates were prescribed last year to medicate every American adult with a standard pain treatment dose of 5mg of hydrocodone (Vicodin and others) taken every 4 hours for a month.
  • The quantity of prescription painkillers sold to pharmacies, hospitals, and doctors’ offices in 2010 had quadrupled since 1999.

According to a recent CDC report, “3% of physicians accounted for 62% of the OPR (Opiod Pain Relievers) prescribed.” Still, there are many doctors voicing concern about this very issue. There is legitimate concern regarding prescriptions being handed out without sufficient evaluations or follow-ups. We see a lot of this in the often illegitimate pain clinics (pill-mills), who provide easy access to patients and don’t question the potentiality of doctor shopping. Still, it would benefit more physicians to become more judicious with their prescription pads and in the practice of writing a 3-day prescription rather than the ubiquitous 30-day bucket of pain meds, at least for those dealing with acute pain. So far, 48 states have instituted Prescription Drug Management Programs (PDMPs) that will flag doctors who have profiles of heavy prescribing and use. This may some of the problems, but I fear it may also marginalize those who actually need to take pain medications to manage chronic pain issues. According to CDC director Thomas Frieden, they “are still figuring out how to use them (PDMP laws) effectively.” At this point, PDMPs only provide monitoring for physicians and their patients. What they do not monitor is the fact that “seven out of 10 medication abusers get their drugs from friends and family.”

Which brings us to the other issue here, which lies in our homes, hanging out in our medicine cabinets

. Gil Kerlikowske, the director of the White

House Office of National Drug Control Policy says, “As much of 40% of all prescription drugs go unused.” Think that sounds like a lot? Check your medicine cabinets—there’s more than likely something there from some old root canal or surgery you had. As parents, we need to take stock and inventory those medicine cabinets. Safely dispose of what you don’t need and lock up the prescriptions you do need. This not only safeguards our kids, it also eases our own temptation to take an unprescribed medication for our own relief or pleasure. Our kids look to us for guidance. We are their first role models, and if we teach them that medication is their go-to release valve, then the natural byproduct is a lesson in numbing out. Use this as an opportunity to talk to your burgeoning adult about healthier ways in which to manage discomfort. Your kids’ lives are worth it.

Articles linked to and used as reference:

https://www.cdc.gov/Features/VitalSigns/PainkillerOverdoses/

https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm6043a4.htm?s_cid=mm6043a4_w

https://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2011/11/01/141914150/cdc-calls-for-action-to-curb-shocking-epidemic-of-narcotics-overdoses?ft=1&f=1001

https://www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/2011/11/painkiller-epidemic-deepens-in-us.html