miércoles, 17 de junio de 2015

Is There A Such Thing As Abuse-Deterrent Painkillers?

By John Horton, Multimedia Specialist

What’s the first thing that pops in your mind when you hear the word, “Addiction”? You might think about drugs (if not a particular one) or alcohol, right? As often as the word is thrown around, we always seem to hear or read about someone being addicted to their smart phone or some popular TV show. Either one isn’t something I would consider addictive, but it’s still possible to get “hooked” on. You could really enjoy the features of the phone and let it stimulate your brain for hours at a time. You can get hooked on a TV show because it’s got a great story. To be honest, they are better described as vices or obsessions, not so much as addiction.

The fact is that we all have our vices and obsessions. To be fair, some people believe that addiction is a choice, not a disease. The true definition of addiction is “The fact or condition of being addicted to a particular substance, thing, or activity.” A person could argue all day long until their face turns blue about being addicted to the cell phone because they’re constantly on it or that their favorite TV show is streaming on some online service allowing them to binge watch it which keeps from functioning on a normal schedule, but honestly it’s quite the opposite of addiction. Yes, both may be stimulating and intriguing, but they are both something that you can walk away from cold turkey if you tried.

Claiming to be addicted to something that isn’t addictive may be a form of expressing how you feel about a particular activity, but it’s not a laughing matter to those who have actually been troubled with that problem. Not everyone makes it out of addiction so easily and struggles daily. It’s no secret there are three categories of prescription drugs that are most abused: stimulants, depressants, and pain medication. Abuse of opiate-based pain medications has seen a serious increase, resulted in a sharp increase in fatal overdoses and some heroin addiction. In fact, more people have died from using prescription opioids than cocaine and heroin combined.

There are no clearly defined estimates as to the total amount of illegally obtained prescription narcotics, depressants, and stimulants available.

There are no clearly defined estimates as to the total amount of illegally obtained prescription narcotics, depressants, and stimulants available.

With all that in mind, makes you wonder where are all these people getting access to these dangerous drugs? Would you believe me if I said that drug dealers are not the main source of illicit drugs anymore? Research shows that the majority of all people who use opioids for non-medical reasons just so they can feel the “high” effects can get them from friends or family. Although many abusers are going straight to the doctors for their opioid pain relievers. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) revealed that health care providers wrote a massive 259 million prescriptions for painkillers in 2012. That’s just about enough for each adult in the U.S. to have a bottle of pills. In 2013, opioids (including Vicodin and OxyContin) caused 75% of prescription drug overdoses, a whole lot more than cocaine and heroin combined.

To break it down more, the numbers of women that have died from prescription painkiller overdoses have increased over 400% since 1999, compared to 265% among men. For each woman whose death is caused by a prescription painkiller overdose, an average of 30 more goes into the emergency department for painkiller abuse. Even the CDC Director, Tom Frieden, M.D., M.P.H. weighed in by saying that “Health care providers need to screen for abuse risk and prescribe judiciously by checking past records in state prescription drug monitoring programs. It’s time we stop the source and treat the troubled.”

Honestly, it is a little difficult to study abuse and addiction behaviors in great detail for various reasons. There’s really no way to tell 100% before it comes on to the marketplace unless extensive, costly, and time consuming testing is done for confirmation. Furthermore, past experience has shown that abuse detected by post marketing surveillance is more widespread than a lot of pre-approval studies. Experts warn of a risk that the protections are misunderstood and could mislead both users and those prescribed into thinking that the underlying medications are less addictive.

I admit that most of us knew a lot of this information already. It shouldn’t come as much of a surprise for the rest that opioids can be abused in a variety of ways. However, did you know there are thousands of addicts who still find ways to abuse a deterrent form of OxyContin and similar painkillers? These are called “abuse-deterrent formulations” and are designed with the intention of minimizing drug abuse while maintaining effective pain control for the patients who have been prescribed. Now if you aren’t completely sure what the difference is between those two genres, please allow me a moment to explain.

Medical emergencies resulting from prescription drug abuse increased 132% over the last seven years, with Opioid involvement rising 183%

Medical emergencies resulting from prescription drug abuse increased 132% over the last seven years, with Opioid involvement rising 183%

OxyContin, itself, consists of strong potent levels of the opioid oxycodone. This medication was designed to allow the drugs powerful effects to be released over a specified amount of time. If a person who didn’t actually need the drug, but wanted to get “high”, all he or she would have to do is crush the pill down into a powder and then snort it or they could simply dissolve it in liquid to drink it, if they didn’t want to use a syringe to inject the concoction.

Although when it comes to “abuse-deterrent formulations”, it makes the process of crushing that pill a little more difficult. You see, instead of a turning into a powder, it turns into a gooey gel that makes it next to impossible for snorting or injecting into a vein. We can all send our thanks to modern medical technology and the Food and Drug Administration for approving abuse-deterrent version of OxyContin back in 2010, but the question now is, do these formulations actually deter abusers from doing what they want?

The FDA has mentioned that its deterrence features are “expected to reduce, but not totally prevent” abuse of the drug. For clarification, they define abuse-deterrent as “to meaningfully deter abuse, even if they do not fully prevent abuse”. By using the word, “Abuse”, it’s defined as “the intentional, non-therapeutic use of a drug product or substance, even once, to achieve a desirable psychological or physiological effect”. Granted, the technique of deterrence formulation technologies is relatively new, there is room for it to evolve into what it is intended for.

Right now, the Food and Drug Administration is doing the best they can for the time being with what they’ve got to prevent as many overdoses as possible by doing these steps:

• Keeping a watch on all drug overdose trends.

• Initiating protocols that require manufacturers to offer information that help educate patients about the risks and benefits of their prescription drugs in order to prevent abuse that could result in overdose while ensuring patients have access to safe pain treatment.

• Strongly encouraging the development of more abuse-deterrent opioid formulations that will prevent abuse and possible overdose.

• Educating the public about the risks of prescription drug abuse.

However, the truth is that our Federal Government (including all the alphabet agencies) can’t do it all alone. To help, many of the states have picked up the slack where they can by:

• Integrating prescription drug monitoring programs to help keep track of each prescription for opioids and to single out the possibility of high-risks.

• Using medical claims data to identify improper prescribing of opioids.

• Starting up public insurance programs and plans to identify abuse of opioids.

• Passing state laws to reduce prescription opioid abuse.

• Having state licensing boards take legal action against inappropriate prescribing.

• Increasing access to substance abuse treatment and programs to the public.

It goes without saying that prescription drug abuse is one of the most critical public health concerns in the U.S. today. Even though the federal, state, and local agencies continuously focus their abilities on reducing prescription drug abuse, there is a point when each of us could step up to monitor our surroundings, including the people in it. One way to do that is knowing the symptoms of opioid withdrawals. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine (NLM), early symptoms of withdrawal include:

• Agitation
• Anxiety
• Muscle aches
• Increased tearing
• Insomnia
• Runny nose
• Sweating
• Yawning

Late symptoms of withdrawal include:
• Abdominal cramping
• Diarrhea
• Dilated pupils
• Goose bumps
• Nausea
• Vomiting

Opiate withdrawal symptoms can last anywhere from one week to one month. Research claims that emotional symptoms (low energy, anxiety, and insomnia) can last for a few months after someone stops taking high amounts of opiates. From what I understand, withdrawal can be very uncomfortable for that person. Although, each person will experience symptoms differently than the other, depending on their body mass and size. If you were to add the possiblility that if the person is taking other drugs along with Opioids, they can remain in your system for various lengths of time, it may cause additional problems.

How Early Should We Start Testing

If you want to have a serious conversation about addiction, I’m sure there are plenty of recovering alcoholics and drug addicts who would be more than willing to discuss their prior habits at great lengths. Listen to what they say about thought process during their experiences to get a better understanding on what to look for if you start noticing something strange with a co-worker, family member, a friend, or someone else you know. You might be able to avoid any trouble that could come from being around them. If it’s someone who works for you, perhaps you should have them drug tested to confirm they are abusing. We, at Rapid Detect, offer a single dip drug test that can accurately detect Opiates in urine within a short amount of time.

If you’re at a business that doesn’t have a drug testing policy, this knowledge might help you identify a possible drug abuser. Just one abuser is more than enough reason to initialize a drug testing program at your workplace. If you have any concerns about drug testing in general, let us help ease your mind. Call to speak with one of our friendly knowledgeable sales consultants by calling toll free at (888) 404-0020 weekdays from 8am to 4pm Central Time or send them an email to sales@rapiddetect.com anytime and they’ll get back to you as soon as possible. Don’t let this issue get out of control at your business. Not only would you be saving your business, it could end up saving a person’s life!

Know more about Rapid Detect: The Rapid Detect Blog - Is There A Such Thing As Abuse-Deterrent Painkillers?

K2 Death Toll Rises During Spring Break

By John Horton, Multimedia Specialist

   Spring break is a time for students in both in college and school to take a break during (or as close to) the beginning of the Spring Equinox season. It’s a time when they can blow off steam and cut loose for a bit prior to heading back and taking tests before the end of the year. School kids can sleep in, hang around the house, or just do absolutely nothing if their parents allow it. For college students on the other hand, it’s a time to take chances, doing things that they’ve never done like taking a trip across the country or around the world. Maybe even try something that they’ve never done before in the heat of the moment that is a little bit risky, like drink excessively or do drugs.

Peer pressure can play a part in getting hooked as well. After all, if you are young and impressionable, you could be tempted to try something new after seeing someone having fun doing it and want to experience that same enjoyment. If you’re friends are doing it, you’ll feel more inclined to do it as well just to fit in. As a fair warning, it’s kind of hard to stop yourself from crossing the line if your mental capability and vision is blurry from all the booze or drugs. If you’re wits are keen and you close pay attention, you might be able to control yourself before it goes too far. Especially when K2 Spice (a.k.a. any of its alias’s) gets involved.

K2 Spice in Prisons   Spice is meant to be a copycat for tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the chemical found in marijuana, therefore giving the name of “Synthetic Marijuana”. The fact is this drug has the ability to change a person’s mental state to become aggressive, violent, and combative. Part of that is because you really don’t know what all chemicals are in it because it’s not regulated in the United States where it’s illegal to manufacture and distribute Synthetic Marijuana. Therefore, many users are forced to go online to purchase it from other countries like China and other parts of Asia where it’s easy to buy.

According to a recent update by the American Association of Poison Control Centers, this dangerous drug has seen a huge spike in exposure this year all across the country, mostly from early March until now. Each case involved a person who came into contact with the substance in some way such as ingested, inhaled, absorbed by the skin or eyes, ect. States like Pennsylvania (130), Texas (319), Arizona (117), Maryland and Florida are tied (111) with their share of problems, but Mississippi (1265) and New York (560) have experienced the most cases.

Perhaps one of the biggest reasons why this drug is almost epidemic could be because it was easy to buy for people who like to smoke it in joints or pipes. From a manufacturing stand point, they contain powerful chemicals that can be considered more powerful and more dangerous than marijuana which will cause dangerous health effects. Like many other illegal drugs, synthetic marijuana is not tested for safety, and users don’t really know exactly what chemicals they are putting into their bodies that are proven to create serious health issues, both short and long term. Some symptoms or reactions from using synthetic marijuana include:

  • Severe agitation and anxiety
  • Racing heartbeat / increasing high blood pressure
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Muscle spasms, seizures, and tremors
  • Intense hallucinations and psychotic episodes
  • Suicidal and other harmful thoughts or actions
  • Coma

*Users of synthetic marijuana can experience these symptoms (or others) with varying intensity*

The state of New York has gotten so concerned that the governor decided to issue a “Health Alert” to warn the people of a rise in the usage of Synthetic Marijuana that has sent more than 160 patients to the hospital since April 8th of this year. Under the Health Department regulations, governor Cuomo had already banned all synthetic drug sales and possession back in 2012. “Synthetic drugs are anything but harmless, and this rash of severe health emergencies across the state is direct proof” he said in a news release. Not long after, paramedics responded to twelve overdose calls at the Auburn Correctional Facility within just four days. In fact, a spokeswoman went on to say that nearly 40 inmates have been treated at outside hospitals statewide since April 23rd while others experience dangerous symptoms and presented to be risks to staff and other inmates without the need of outside treatment.

Two more major K2 Spice cases come out of the Austin, Texas area. A news report confirmed that during the first weekend of April, twenty people had overdosed on K2 Spice and been treated by emergency crews. The individuals involved ranged from teenagers all the way up to their 60s, proving that this drug does not discriminate age. Another incident happened during the last weekend of May, Emergency Management Services were called to respond to 61 K2 incidents within four days involving new and habitual users. Police have said that that a big concern for this outbreak is because dealers have been spiking the latest batch with bug spray which has caused the user’s blood pressure and heart rate to get lower into extreme levels.

Confirm BioSciences Home K2 THC test kit   According to the Alabama Department of Public Health, they say that between March 17th and May 11th, at least 964 patients who have ingested or smoked Spice have been seen in emergency rooms across the state. Of those patients, 217 have been hospitalized while five others have died. Because of this outbreak, an intense state and federal investigation has been launched into the dramatic increase and whether it’s linked to similar problems in neighboring states. On top of that staggering list of numbers, police across the state say that hundreds of people in recent months have called emergency services with physical and psychological reactions to the drug.

In Mississippi, they’ve been extremely busy working on this issue in a state where no form of Synthetic Marijuana is legal is legal since it is neither regulated nor safe. So far this year, there have been over 1200 confirmed K2 Spice-related visits to emergency rooms, hospitals, or physicians in Mississippi since the current outbreak began in April. As of the time of this writing, there are seventeen deaths potentially related to Spice use that is currently being investigated by state authorities.

Nebraska is not immune to the synthetic drug either. It’s been reported that over 100 overdoses in just a few weeks can be credited to K2 in the city of Lincoln. First responders have made the claim they are also seeing more violent behavior from those who’ve used K2. An investigation led to shutting down two smoke shops. Afterwards, usage has tapered off considerably. Even thought the police are focusing on the current crisis, like so many other states they plan to look around the country to figure out the best way of fighting synthetic marijuana.

New Jersey is also facing a serious dilemma involving synthetic drugs. Back in April, the New Jersey Poison Information and Education System released a statement claiming that 30 people were admitted to hospitals across the state due to K2 Spice and warned people not to use products sold as Synthetic Marijuana.

Last but not least, here’s a report that comes from the areas Bethlehem and Allentown, Pennsylvania. In less than a week at the beginning of May, over 50 people between the ages of 13 and 60 years old, have been hospitalized with K-2 related overdose injuries. Elsewhere across the state, Synthetic marijuana is suspected in at least eight deaths.

Since it first emerged in the U.S. around 2008, there have been many, MANY documented cases on people who overdosed on K2 Spice. As many cases documented, you would have to assume there are that many user who haven’t overdosed yet. Even though it’s not accessible in many places as it once was (convenience stores and head shops), people can still get it over the Internet. It popularity skyrocketed because it was easy to buy and people thought was harmless because its chemicals aren’t detected on standard drug tests. Since 2011, all 50 states have banned specific compounds, and a federal law in 2012 added certain ones to the U.S. controlled substances list, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Usually, Synthetic Marijuana is manufactured from a non-marijuana plant material sprayed with cannabinoids and marketed under brand names that are catchy to get ones attention, but make no mistake about this manufactured drug as it can be more potent than regular marijuana. It changes the brain functions while creating significant long term damages and can cause serious injury not just to the user, but to all those around. One of the best ways to avoid it is to know what it’s referred to as on the street and social circles. You might want to stay away if you hear or see anything with the following names:

  • Black Mamba
  • Blaze
  • Bliss
  • Buzz
  • Cloud 9
  • Earthquake
  • Fake Weed
  • Genie
  • Hush
  • K2
  • K3
  • Moon Rocks
  • Mystery
  • No More Mr. Nice Guy Ocean Blue
  • Potpourri
  • Pulse
  • Scooby Snax
  • Sence
  • Serenity
  • Skunk
  • Smoke
  • Spice
  • Spice gold
  • Stinger
  • Yucatan Fire
  • Zohai

Law enforcement and public health officials are working really hard to spread the word about the dangers of using synthetic drugs. The FDA has banned many of these chemicals, but with all the new versions constantly appearing in hopes to evade any form of regulation, it’s hard to stay up with them all. Most people (including teenagers) are attracted to the convenient packaging and claims of being “natural”, making it very popular to those who want to avoid standard drug detection processes be done to fight against this chemical mixture that is growing popular.

RDI K2 Test

Rapid Detect K2 Drug Test

There is some good news after reading all this even though Spice products contain unique synthetic chemicals which change frequently. That’s why you need to test frequently as needed to stay ahead and Rapid Detect can help you deter those who might use the horrible drug. We offer K2 Spice tests that will detect most versions out there. Parents can even get involved by checking their teenager for not only for Marijuana, but also the Synthetic versions as well with the convenient use of our Home K2 THC Test available on the website. Call to speak with one of our friendly knowledgeable sales consultants at (800) 404-0020 weekdays from 8am to 4pm Central Time or email sales@rapiddetect.com anytime.

Know more about Rapid Detect: The Rapid Detect Blog - K2 Death Toll Rises During Spring Break

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