Fentanyl Seizures At San Diego Border Are Higher Than Ever
Almost 3,000 pounds of fentanyl in San Diego County between March and May, a 300% increase from the same time last year. Authorities describe the uptick in drug seizures due to a joint effort between law enforcement agents working in San Diego’s port. Customs and Border Protection agents have been working with Homeland Security to hunt down drug traffickers and stop them in their tracks.
San Diego Port Drug Seizures
A two-month-long enforcement effort netted a huge number of drugs. The busts, which took place over two months, netted 4,721 pounds of fentanyl and 1,700 pounds of fentanyl precursors. These drugs were headed to the streets to be pressed into pills. Instead, more than 200 arrests of alleged smugglers took place, and the government seized these drugs.
San Diego is a central hub for drug trafficking, leading to many people to addiction within the city and county. Addiction has been a significant issue in San Diego, as it has been in many other parts of the United States. The town has a complex history of addiction spanning several decades.
History of Addiction in San Diego
Drugs have always been an issue in San Diego. In the 1960s, the city grappled with heroin addiction. During the 1990s, the town had a surge of people who struggled with crack cocaine addiction and the violence associated with that. In the 2000s, however, the city succumbed to the addiction crisis caused by opioids.
Like many others, the city is still grappling with an opioid crisis. The rise of potent synthetic opioids, such as fentanyl, has resulted in a surge in overdose deaths. The accessibility of these powerful substances often sold illicitly, has exacerbated the addiction problem, and strained public health resources.
Substance use among the homeless population has become a pressing issue in San Diego. Homelessness and addiction are interconnected problems. Many individuals often turn to drugs or alcohol as a coping mechanism. San Diego has implemented various programs and initiatives to address homelessness and substance abuse simultaneously, focusing on harm reduction, treatment, and housing solutions.
Recent Seizures Reflect Concerted Effort to Fight Fentanyl in San Diego and Beyond
“We are an epicenter for fentanyl trafficking into the United States, and we know the immense responsibility that we bear to address this crisis,” U.S. Attorney Randy Grossman said about the recent Blue Lotus Operation. “We are answering that call to action with hard work, a purpose, and a plan. Every milligram of fentanyl that we seize, and every smuggler, trafficker, and dealer we bring to justice, means less fatal doses on the streets of San Diego and beyond.”
During the operation, Homeland Security deployed eighty agents to work on drug trafficking in San Diego. In San Diego County, the two-month surge has resulted in a 300 percent increase in fentanyl seizures. There was also a 30 percent increase in defendants prosecuted for fentanyl-related crimes in the Southern District of California compared to last year.
The Blue Lotus Operation also seized fentanyl, which also tested positive for xylazine, creating a dangerous drug called “tranq dope” that leaves people physically addicted and causes gaping sores when they use it. The White House recently designated the combination of xylazine and fentanyl as an emerging threat to the United States on its growing role in overdose deaths. Xylazine is still a relatively new drug, but when a person overdoses, they may not wake up. Narcan has limited value in overdose reversal when a person has taken xylazine. It can help reverse the fentanyl overdose, but xylazine is a sedative, and there is currently no antidote to the drug.
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San Diego is a great place to be in recovery and a recovery home; you’ll meet others with similar goals. Sober living is a great stepping stone for people who want to live in a stable, therapeutic environment. Give us a call to learn more about the sober lifestyle in our homes.
If you are in recovery from addiction and looking for a program, you may be interested in learning more about sober living arrangements. Many people confuse sober homes with halfway houses. Both are transitional living arrangements designed to support individuals recovering from addiction. While the two have some similarities, they also have distinct differences in purpose, structure, and rules.
The Halfway House
A halfway house, also known as the transitional housing program (THP) in California, typically serves individuals who have completed a period of incarceration or are on probation or parole. It aims to help people transition back into society by providing housing, structure, and support services. In California, halfway houses are part of the transitional housing program the Department of Corrections runs.
Halfway houses can be government-funded or privately operated and often have a contractual relationship with the criminal justice system. They are typically larger residential facilities and may house more residents. The focus is on providing a structured environment that facilitates reintegration into society.
Halfway houses often have more stringent rules and regulations than sober homes, particularly for residents with a criminal justice background. These rules may include abiding by a curfew, attending mandatory counseling or treatment programs, seeking employment or participating in job training, and refraining from criminal behavior. Random drug testing is also common in halfway houses.
In a halfway house, the length of stay is often determined by the requirements of the criminal justice system or parole/probation conditions. Depending on the individual's progress and compliance, it can range from a few weeks to several months.
Some halfway houses require residents to pay rent, usually on a sliding scale. Sometimes people also must pay for therapy and other services required to remain at the halfway house and fulfill probation or parole standards.
Sober Living Programs Are Much Different From Halfway Houses
The primary purpose of a sober living program is to provide a stable and supportive environment for individuals in early recovery from addiction. It aims to bridge the gap between an inpatient treatment facility and independent sober living, making it an ideal choice for people who have finished inpatient rehab. The focus is on promoting sobriety, personal growth, and the development of skills necessary for long-term recovery.
Sober living programs are often privately owned and operated by treatment centers or nonprofit organizations. They may consist of houses or apartment complexes where residents live together. The facilities are designed to create a recovery-focused community and may offer various amenities, such as group meeting spaces, healthy meals, and communal activities.
Sober living programs generally have specific rules and guidelines to ensure a safe and supportive environment. These rules may include maintaining sobriety, participating in 12-step meetings, paying rent and expenses, actively seeking employment or educational opportunities, adhering to curfews, and contributing to household chores. Random drug testing is often conducted to ensure sobriety compliance.
The length of stay in a sober living program can vary depending on individual needs and progress. Some programs have a recommended minimum stay of a few months, while others may provide long-term housing options for individuals who require ongoing support.
Sober living does not usually take health insurance because it is more of a living situation than a therapeutic program.
Both sober living programs and halfway houses offer transitional living arrangements, but their purposes and structures differ. Sober living programs focus on supporting individuals in early recovery from addiction, whereas halfway houses primarily serve individuals transitioning from incarceration to society. The rules and regulations may be more lenient in sober living programs, emphasizing sobriety and personal growth, while halfway houses typically have more structured guidelines enforced by the criminal justice system.
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The food service industry in California employs more than 1.4 million people, generating over $200 billion in economic activity annually. Many people make hospitality their career, which can be lucrative and fulfilling. However, it is also an industry with high rates of addiction. Workers in the food industry have the highest rate of substance use disorder among all industries.
Why Is Substance Use So Pervasive in the Food Service Industry?
People use drugs for many reasons, but when asked directly, they often say they use them to relax and unwind. Other reasons also may be at play, such as coping with mental health issues or trauma. Due to limited healthcare access, some people also use substances to deal with chronic pain issues.
One of the primary reasons for the high rates of substance use disorder in the food industry is the long working hours and the high-stress environment. Many workers in the food industry work long hours, including nights and weekends, which can lead to physical and emotional exhaustion. This exhaustion and the high-stress environment of working in a busy kitchen or restaurant can make workers more vulnerable to substance use disorders.
Substances are often more freely available in the restaurant and food industry. Many drugs, including alcohol, marijuana, and prescription opioids, are readily shared by coworkers or even customers. In some cases, workers may even be encouraged to use drugs to cope with the stress and pressure of the job.
Substance use disorder is a pervasive problem that affects many industries, including the food industry in California. Substance use disorder, also known as addiction, is a chronic disease characterized by compulsive drug seeking and use despite negative consequences. It can affect anyone, regardless of age, gender, or profession.
How Substance Misuse Affects Food Workers On-the-Job
The consequences of substance use disorder in the food industry can be severe. Workers struggling with addiction may have difficulty performing their jobs, leading to mistakes and accidents. They may also be more likely to engage in risky behaviors, such as driving under the influence, which can lead to legal trouble. Addiction is characterized by compulsive drug seeking and use despite the harmful consequences. Here are some symptoms of substance use disorder that may be observed in people who work in restaurants:
- Changes in Behavior: One of the most common symptoms of substance use disorder is changes in behavior. This may include changes in mood, irritability, anxiety, depression, and agitation. Restaurant workers may also become more secretive, avoid social interactions, or become less reliable.
- Physical Symptoms: Substance use disorder can cause various physical symptoms, including changes in appetite, sleep patterns, and weight loss or gain. Restaurant workers with substance use disorder may arrive to work unkempt, smell alcohol or experience tremors, sweating, dilated pupils, and bloodshot eyes.
- Poor Work Performance: Substance use disorder can impact an individual's ability to perform their job effectively. Restaurant workers with addiction may miss work, arrive late, or leave early. They may also make more mistakes or have a slower work pace if they are under the influence. Additionally, they may have conflicts with coworkers, managers, or customers.
- Financial Problems: Substance use disorder can lead to financial problems, including spending money on drugs or alcohol and missing bill payments. Restaurant workers with addiction may even steal from their employers or coworkers to support their drug use.
- Legal Issues: Substance use disorder can also lead to legal problems, including arrests for drug possession, driving under the influence, or other criminal offenses. Restaurant workers may also lose their driver's licenses, making it difficult to get to work.
- Intoxication: A worker with substance use issues may come to work intoxicated or use drugs or alcohol on the job. They may take frequent work breaks.
Getting Sober if You Work in the Restaurant Industry
Many people who have been sober for significant amounts of time work within the restaurant industry, although they tend to stay away from bars and nightclub scenes. San Diego especially has a robust recovery community, and people work in all kinds of jobs and industries when they get sober. If you are getting sober for the first time, you may want to seek guidance from your peers in your next job endeavor. Staying sober is always the top priority.
Some people in 12-step groups even network for jobs through their support system. It’s a great idea to learn a new job alongside somebody who has been in recovery a while.
Sober Living San Diego
San Diego has so much to offer people new to recovery! We’re here to help you grow at a sober home every step of the way. Learn more about our homes, what our programs offer, and how you can start sober living by giving us a call.
The DEA recently warned about the growing use of “tranq dope,” a new street drug made from fentanyl and xylazine. Fentanyl is a powerful synthetic opioid used medically for pain relief but also commonly used illicitly for its intense euphoric effects, and it is sold on the street. Humans sometimes abuse Xylazine, a horse tranquilizer for its sedative and hallucinogenic properties. The two drugs are now commonly sold on the street, primarily in urban areas, under the name “tranq dope.” And while it’s not a hugely popular drug, the combination still manages to cause overdoses. Many people who take tranq dope don’t know they’re taking it. Usually, they think they're taking fentanyl or another opioid.
What Are the Effects of Tranq Dope?
When combined, fentanyl and xylazine can produce various effects, including sedation, respiratory depression, and altered perception. Users may experience euphoria followed by heavy sedation. The combination can increase the risk of overdose, as both drugs can depress the central nervous system, leading to slowed or stopped breathing, coma, and death.
Tranq dope, or specifically, the xylazine used in the street drug, has also been known to give its users ulcers. (Xylazine has never been tested on humans.)
People who use tranq dope are also gambling with addiction. Both drugs are highly addictive, leaving some users hooked after the first high. The dangers associated with developing a substance use disorder from using fentanyl and xylazine are significant. Both drugs can quickly lead to physical dependence and withdrawal symptoms when use is stopped. The risk of overdose and other health complications increases with prolonged or heavy use.
Symptoms of Tranq Dope Use
The symptoms of intoxication from a drug like tranq dope (a combination of fentanyl and xylazine) can vary depending on the individual's tolerance level, the amount consumed, and other factors such as the purity and potency of the drug. However, some common signs and symptoms of intoxication from opioids and sedatives like these include:
- Respiratory depression, i.e., slowed breathing.
- Pinpoint pupils
- Extreme drowsiness or sedation
- Confusion or disorientation
- Nausea and vomiting
- Slurred speech
- Impaired coordination or motor function
- Low blood pressure and slow heart rate
- Bluish skin or lips due to lack of oxygen
- Coma or unconsciousness
Most people who take tranq dope will have overdose symptoms like those listed above. An overdose is a medical emergency and the best way to handle it is by calling 911 and administering Narcan.
Narcan aka naloxone, doesn’t always help with tranq dope overdoses because the xylazine is a sedative, not an opioid. However, Narcan does help reverse opioid intoxication, which can contribute to overdoses. Carrying Narcan can help reverse opioid overdoses.
Using "tranq dope" or any other illegal drug can have serious health consequences and be potentially fatal. Even long-term drug users have overdosed from tranq dope because of its intensity. If you or someone you know is experiencing any of the symptoms of tranq dope intoxication, it is important to seek medical attention. Misusing any mind-altering substance is potentially dangerous.
Remembering that xylazine was meant for much larger animals than humans is important. It’s a horse tranquilizer and was not meant to be used recreationally. It can be very dangerous.
Try Sober Living in San Diego
Are you looking for a sober living home where you can learn to live life sober in a vibrant, welcoming community? San Diego can be a great place to get sober, with restorative beaches, parks, and other outdoor spaces offering scenic and tranquil environments conducive to recovery. Being surrounded by supportive networks, new neighbors and natural beauty can be grounding for individuals seeking sobriety. San Diego also has a strong and supportive recovery community with many 12-step meetings around town.
Learn more about what our sober living homes offer. Get in touch!
On the evening of April 17, U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers seized more than three million fentanyl pills. The pills were a distinct color, blue. They were hidden in a shipment of green beans inspected at the Otay Mesa Port of Entry facility.
What Is Blue Fentanyl?
Fentanyl is often sold as fake prescription pills known as "M30s" online via apps, social media, and on the street. Drug users typically think the pills are Oxycodone. Usually, these drugs contain fentanyl. However, sometimes they are pure fentanyl, like in this particular case.
These pills are usually round tablets and often light blue. Rainbow colors have also been seized in the past. Blue pills, however, remain the most popular. These blue pills have also been sold as Molly and other club drugs.
Massive Blue Fentanyl Bust Was Hidden In Green Beans
A driver was bringing a tractor-trailer, purportedly a shipment of green beans. The Customs officer did what they called a "non-intrusive inspection," according to the press release. However, something was off, so they brought the drug dog in to sniff.
The dogs were successful, helping the officers stop 776 pounds of fentanyl in California. The narcotics are worth 221 million dollars on the streets.
"This seizure provides insight and displays how our officers work together in collaboration to keep this dangerous drug off the streets," said Rosa Hernandez, Port Director for the Otay Mesa Cargo Facility, said in a press release.
Fentanyl Seizures Are Common at All Ports (Green Beans or Not)
Much of the drugs that enter this country come through ports and borders with Mexico.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) uses various methods and technologies to combat drug smuggling and other criminal activities at the border. For example, they typically inspect vehicles and cargo. Drug sniffing dogs are a standard tool, and other intelligence methods they don't disclose often help with seizures. However, smugglers constantly adapt their strategies and tactics, and drug trafficking remains a significant challenge at many border crossings.
The smuggler will be charged for attempting to smuggle narcotics and is currently in the custody of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
Ongoing Dangers of Fake Blue Pills
Fake blue pills are an ongoing danger to people who use drugs. Sold on the street or via apps, these pills are almost always purported to be something other than fentanyl. Yet they are fentanyl, or contain fentanyl, pretty much 100% of the time, according to the DEA. In addition, agencies in the U.S. continue to seize drugs on the border, yet they still sweep the nation and make it to the streets.
Blue fentanyl pills are often sold as Oxycontin, Molly, or other drugs that are nowhere nearly as strong as fentanyl itself. Because of the danger, multiple campaigns in the public health industry are trying to get the word out that "one pill can kill." Pills sold on apps such as WhatsApp, Signal, or Telegram often make it into the hands of drug users who are what doctors term "opioid naïve."
When a non-opioid user takes fentanyl, an opioid that is 50-100 times the strength of morphine, their bodies can't handle it. Drug overdoses slow respiration and make it so the user can't wake up. Narcan, an opioid-overdose reversal drug, can work to save lives if drug users carry them. San Diego now has free dispensers to help people reverse overdoses in areas known for drug activity.
Sober Living Residences in San Diego
People who get sober have challenges and temptations. Because of this, many people decide that a group home or sober living house is the best option for them to begin their life drug-free. We're here to help you find community and build trust and confidence as you continue living without substances. Give us a call to learn more about what our homes offer.
Opioid use disorder (OUD) is a chronic disease that can significantly impact the brain and how a user thinks. Addiction occurs when an individual becomes dependent on opioids to function, both physically and mentally. Over time, addiction can lead to changes in the brain and body that can be difficult to reverse.
Opioid Use Disorder and The Brain's Reward System
One of the most significant impacts of opioid addiction on the brain is its effect on the reward system. These drugs trigger dopamine release in the brain, a neurotransmitter associated with pleasure and reward. With repeated use, the brain can become dependent on the drug to release dopamine, developing tolerance and addiction. This can make it difficult for individuals to feel pleasure or reward from other activities, leading to a loss of interest in hobbies and relationships.
Other Brain Changes and Opioids
OUD can also change the way a person thinks and behaves. There is a science behind these changes. Misuse causes changes in the brain's prefrontal cortex, which is responsible for decision-making and impulse control.
Chronic opioid use can decrease the prefrontal cortex's volume, impairing decision-making and making it more difficult for the drug user to control their impulses. Many self-destructive behaviors that characterize addiction can be attributed to these changes. As a result, people with OUD exhibit behaviors that harm the individual and those around them in pursuing the drug or while high.
Opioid Use Disorder's Effects on the Body
In addition to its impact on the brain, opioid addiction can significantly affect the body.
Long-term opioid use can lead to respiratory depression, breathing issues, and even death. In addition, some people who overdose have heart trouble and lingering neurological symptoms. Chronic use can also lead to gastrointestinal issues, such as constipation, nausea, and vomiting. This can also lead to malnutrition.
When a person who is a chronic user tries to stop using or cut down, they usually have significant withdrawal symptoms. This can include bone pain, nausea and vomiting, sweats, and anxiety. This is why Medication-Assisted Treatment is considered to be the gold standard of care when it comes to to OUD. It can minimize the uncomfortable symptoms and cravings a person getting sober experiences.
Mental Health and Opioid Addiction
Addiction to opioids can also have significant social and emotional impacts. OUD can lead to social isolation as individuals become more wrapped up in chasing the high and spend more time in active addiction. You may notice a person with opioid use disorder becoming more withdrawn and spending more time alone.
A person stuck in the throes of active addiction may self-medicate painful or upsetting mental health symptoms.
The emotional toll of addiction can also be significant. People with OUD often strain family relationships and change friends when addicted. Privately, they may be wrestling with shame, guilt, and hopelessness.
Opioid use disorder (OUD) can be associated with a range of mental health issues, including:
- Depression: Individuals with OUD may experience symptoms of depression, including feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and loss of interest in activities they once enjoyed. These symptoms can be caused by changes in brain chemistry or may result from the emotional toll of addiction.
- Anxiety: OUD can also be associated with anxiety symptoms, such as panic attacks, obsessive thoughts, or excessive worry. Anxiety symptoms may be triggered by the withdrawal effects or the fear of being unable to obtain or use their drug of choice. People who use drugs with anxiety tend to have a vicious cycle of panic due to the effects on their brains.
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD): Many individuals with OUD have a history of trauma, which can cause PTSD. Symptoms may include flashbacks, nightmares, and feelings of intense anxiety/hyperarousal or avoidance. In addition, many veterans and people who have experienced sexual trauma will use substances to self-medicate uncomfortable symptoms.
- Bipolar disorder: Some individuals with OUD may also have a co-occurring diagnosis of bipolar disorder, characterized by mood shifts from extreme highs (mania) to extreme lows (depression). People who are bipolar may self-medicate or take risks that they usually wouldn't when experiencing mania.
Individuals with OUD need comprehensive treatment addressing their addiction and co-occurring mental health issues.
OUD can have significant impacts on the brain and body. Substance use disorder can also cause mental health problems and exacerbate mental health issues you may already struggle with. Getting screened for mental illness during your recovery and paying attention to any new symptoms is essential. A psychiatrist can better assess your needs or help diagnose any disorder.
Sober Housing and OUD
Many people with OUD find that they can stay sober when they have structure, solidarity, and community with other people in recovery. Many people in sober housing choose to use MAT as a tool for their OUD. Sober living can give you a home to return to at the end of the day, meetings in and out-of-house, and a healthy, vibrant, spiritual environment to reflect on your recovery and future. Learn more about our homes and how we can help by giving us a call.
On Jan. 30, 2023, the Biden Administration announced it would end the COVID public health emergency, which could mean new issues regarding telehealth and Medication-Assisted Treatment when the order ends in May this year. MAT, especially buprenorphine, was expanded to online access for most people with opioid use disorder, giving greater access to desperately needed treatment for people in rural areas. Now, it appears that access to buprenorphine may be trickier than it seemed before.
The expansion has saved lives, and there have been repeated assurances by HHS, DEA, SAMHSA, and even the Biden Administration that telehealth buprenorphine patients won’t lose access to treatment. The truth, however, is murkier than it seems. It appears the DEA wants to put much stronger limits to telehealth treatment in place, which could cause unsurmountable access barriers for people who can’t go in person to get their meds prescribed.
What Will the Proposed Rules Do for MAT?
The new proposed rules, treatment advocates say, could cause more harm than good. While they say they’re not stripping access to treatment, the rules would make treatment much more difficult for vulnerable demographics. Patients will be required to have in-person exams and will not be able to continue to a fully virtual telemedicine care regimen. Patients already taking MAT will not be exempted; if their care began at a virtual clinic, they now would need to meet a treatment provider in-person to continue their care.
There seems to be little scientific reasoning behind this; unlike other treatment drugs, buprenorphine is a partial opioid agonist. It is less likely to be abused compared to other opioids due to its unique pharmacological properties and the way it is prescribed. Buprenorphine has a "ceiling effect," which means that after a specific dose, taking more medication does not produce any additional effects, making it less likely to be abused.
Increasing MAT Access Can Only Be a Good Thing
Many medical and professional societies have advocated for increased access to MAT, including buprenorphine. The American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM), a professional society representing physicians, clinicians, and other healthcare professionals specializing in addiction medicine, has long argued for increased access to MAT to improve treatment for opioid addiction. The American Medical Association (AMA), the largest professional association of physicians in the United States, has supported efforts to expand access to buprenorphine as part of a comprehensive approach to addressing the opioid epidemic.
Other doctor organizations have recognized the importance of increasing access to buprenorphine to help combat the opioid epidemic and improve the treatment of opioid addiction. The American Academy of Family Physicians, American College of Physicians, and American Osteopathic Association have written letters or papers supporting increasing access to buprenorphine.
Hundreds of organizations signed a paper asking the Biden Administration to make the emergency act telehealth provisions permanent last year; however, the DEA seems to have other thoughts about drug and MAT safety and administration.
Hopefully, the DEA will listen to these organizations and create a rule that’s fair and flexible so that patients can get the treatment they need with the fewest barriers possible.
Getting Help for Addiction
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The FDA recently approved a new OTC form of naloxone nasal spray, meant to be available for people to purchase via dispensers and other less conspicuous places without the input of medical professionals. Naloxone is an opioid overdose reversal drug available by prescription and over the counter in certain states. In most localities, a user must take a training class to administer the lifesaving drug. Much debate surrounded removing the training requirements. For the FDA, the discussion centered not on using naloxone but on the importance of fine-tuning its instructions.
Advisory Committee Meetings on OTC Naloxone Nasal Spray
At a meeting involving the Nonprescription Drug Advisory Committee and Anesthetic and Analgesic Drug Products Advisory Committee, pharmaceutical giant Emergent BioSolutions presented data and newly developed labeling for an OTC form of its nasal naloxone spray. (Typically, people who are prescribed naloxone have to take a short training class or meet other requirements.)
New instructions were written to help people without healthcare training in emergency treatment. Still, FDA reviewers cited various issues, ranging from user errors like dialing 911 first (rather than administering a dose) to the possibility that each blister packaging may need to contain instructions should users discard the box.
The FDA will work closely with manufacturers to ensure the design is simple and effective for people who have never used it before. "The design of the entire user interface plays an important role in how effective the product is at reversing opioid-induced respiratory depression and preventing death and other serious outcomes," they wrote briefly before the meeting.
The FDA Committees issue opinions to the FDA, which are usually respected in final decisions. While OTC Naloxone is likely soon to be approved, there will still be barriers to access, such as cost and locality.
Benefits of OTC Narcan/Naloxone
Naloxone (brand name Narcan) is a medication used to reverse opioid overdose rapidly. It works by blocking the effects of opioids in the brain and can quickly restore normal breathing in someone who overdosed on opioids. Narcan is typically administered by emergency medical personnel, but in recent years, some jurisdictions have made it available over the counter, meaning that anyone can purchase it without a prescription.
The benefits of Narcan being available over the counter include:
- Increased access: Making Narcan available over the counter can improve access to the medication, especially for those who may not have a prescription. The FDA has pointed out that price can still be a barrier, which must also be addressed through state or federal funding.
- Faster response: In specific environments, when Narcan is available over the counter, people can quickly obtain and administer the medication. This can be especially important when emergency medical services are not immediately available or every minute counts.
- Reduced stigma: Stigma is often a barrier to access. Making Narcan available over the counter can help reduce the stigma and help people understand that opioid addiction is a treatable medical condition.
- Potential to save lives: By making Narcan available over the counter, more people may be able to access the medication and potentially save lives in cases of opioid overdose. Studies have shown that increasing access to Narcan can save lives.
While Narcan can be a lifesaving medication, it is not a substitute for long-term treatment and support for opioid addiction. Most people need additional medical help after an overdose.
If you or someone you know is struggling with opioid addiction, seeking professional help and support is important.
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If you or a loved one is looking for safe, stable housing as you continue your recovery, sober housing may be your best next step. Learn more about what we can offer by giving us a call.
Many people struggle with withdrawal symptoms even after their initial 90 days, which is the typical period of time to expect withdrawal symptoms. As a person's substance use moves further into the past, they may not initially notice that they still have some issues. However, many people struggle with PAWS in their first few years of recovery, especially if their drug of choice is an opioid. Without understanding the cause of their symptoms, it can be very frustrating and even detrimental.
Post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS) is a term used to describe persistent withdrawal symptoms that occur after the acute withdrawal period has ended. While people who use any substance may struggle with PAWS, it's commonly associated with opioid use. It can last for months or even years after an individual has stopped using opioids. PAWS can significantly hinder recovery and long-term sobriety without education and treatment. It can be incredibly frustrating for a newcomer to recovery to cope with PAWs for months or even years into sobriety.
Acute Withdrawal vs. Post-Acute Withdrawal
Opioids are highly addictive substances that can cause physical dependence. People who use opioids regularly have a body that has adapted to the presence of the drug. When they don't have it regularly, they can experience intense withdrawal symptoms. The acute withdrawal period typically begins within a few hours of the last dose. It can last for several days to a week. Symptoms of opioid withdrawal can include muscle aches, agitation, anxiety, insomnia, and abdominal cramps.
PAWS occurs after the acute withdrawal period. It is diagnosed by persistent symptoms such as fatigue, irritability, anxiety, depression, and sleep disturbances. These symptoms can persist for weeks, months, or even years and can be challenging to manage. Additionally, PAWS can increase the risk of relapse, as some individuals may turn back to using opioids to relieve their symptoms.
Effective management of PAWS is crucial for long-term recovery from opioid addiction. Treatment options for PAWS may include medication-assisted treatment (MAT), behavioral therapies, and holistic approaches such as nutrition and exercise. Individuals in recovery need a healthcare professional or addiction specialist to help develop a personalized treatment plan that addresses their specific needs and helps to support their journey to long-term sobriety.
Nutrition in Post-Acute Withdrawal
Many treatment centers provide a holistic approach to treatment and recovery. However, nutrition can be essential in post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS) and recovery from substance abuse. Here are some ways that nutrition can help:
1. Replenishing nutrients: Substance abuse can deplete the body of essential nutrients, and a healthy diet can help to replenish these stores.
2. Stabilizing blood sugar: Substance abuse can cause fluctuations in blood sugar levels, contributing to cravings and mood swings. A balanced diet that includes complex carbohydrates, healthy fats, and lean proteins can help to regulate blood sugar and improve mood stability.
3. Supporting the brain and nervous system: The brain and nervous system are particularly vulnerable during recovery, and adequate nutrition is necessary for their proper function. Consuming foods rich in vitamins and minerals such as B vitamins, omega-3 fatty acids, and magnesium can help to support the brain and nervous system during recovery.
4. Boosting energy: PAWS can cause fatigue and lack of energy. Proper nutrition can help increase energy levels and support overall physical health.
It is important to note that everyone's nutritional needs are different. Therefore, consult a healthcare professional or registered dietitian for personalized recommendations if you suffer from any health condition.
Living With PAWS in Recovery
A healthy lifestyle is essential for sobriety. Living with PAWS means taking care of yourself and learning to cope with life, even when you experience symptoms of it.
Many people experience PAWs and find relief with assistance. If you or somebody you love is experiencing longer-term anxiety, cravings, sleep issues, or other symptoms, it's essential to seek help. A medical professional can help rule out other disorders as well.
Many people in recovery also live with mental health disorders, which may have previously been masked due to substance use. Both of these disorders can cause challenges for people in recovery. You deserve to be treated for all your illnesses and live your best life.
Therapy and treatment groups can also help you work through the challenges of PAWS in daily life.
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Xylazine, a drug called “Tranq dope”, is being found more frequently in drug seizures in San Diego. For the people who use this drug, there are new dangers. It’s often found in fentanyl and is also used as an additive in other opioids like heroin. It’s a disturbing new challenge for people trying to overcome opioid use disorder.
Xylazine Is Found in Local Drug Seizures
In recent years, xylazine has been found in large drug seizures across the US. Usually, it is added to drugs such as heroin or Oxy. While few overdoses on the West Coast have detected the drug, San Diego authorities say xylazine has been found in seized drugs 23 times in the last two fiscal years between San Diego and Imperial counties. While this isn’t indicative of widespread use, it’s a growing pattern that concerns authorities.
On the East Coast, including Pennsylvania and Rhode Island, xylazine has quickly established itself as a drug of concern, added to drugs like fentanyl to create a more substantial buzz. Just like fentanyl, it’s being added to other drugs without people knowing. More than 40% of street drug samples tested in Rhode Island contained xylazine, according to recent research.
What Is Xylazine?
Xylazine is a drug that has never been approved for human use. Its main purpose is the sedation of large animals such as horses. It is technically a muscle relaxant for horses. In the past few years, the drug has been making major headway on the East Coast, where it is added to other drugs. It has been found in heroin, fentanyl, and cocaine.
The sedation caused by it can lead to an overdose death. If a person who has taken fentanyl also has taken xylazine, it may be much harder to reverse the overdose. Naloxone, an opioid-overdose reversal drug, does not work in reversing xylazine toxicity. The person who overdoses may have the opioids reversed but not wake up. It can cause coma and death when a person overdoses on it.
The Dangers of Xylazine, aka Tranq Dope
Xylazine is a drug that is still being understood in the medical community. There are a few things that the DEA has told medical providers about it, such as the fact that the “high” starts within minutes and lasts for hours.
Inside a person’s body, it relaxes muscles by decreasing the release of norepinephrine and dopamine in the central nervous system. It has a profoundly sedating effect.
People high on xylazine may experience blurred vision, low blood pressure, and sleepiness/drowsiness/nodding out. It can cause hyperglycemia (high blood sugar) and can be dangerous for people with medical conditions affected by blood sugar.
Xylazine can cause skin disease. People often end up with painful, easily infected skin ulcers when they’ve taken a drug containing it. The wound usually isn’t in the same place they injected it and can still occur if they didn’t inject it, making it a hazard for all accidental users.
On the East Coast, especially in places like Pennsylvania, where xylazine use has become endemic, users have become addicted to the drug. This means they only seek out opioids containing it. When they decide to get sober, this adds an extra challenge because they will typically experience withdrawal symptoms that Medication-Assisted Treatment can’t suppress. Treatment centers are still learning to cope with the challenge but are ready to help anyone who wants to get sober, regardless of the challenges. Medications still exist to help minimize withdrawal symptoms.
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