Tips For Preventing Heroin Overdose



Victoria Kamm

Copyright © 2016


[+ Preface +]

[+ Opiates And Pain +]

[+ Economics of Addiction +]

[+ Medical Emergencies +]

[+ Three Simple Steps +]

[+ Maybe One Really Hard One +]

[+ Additional Resources +]


We live in a world of unintended consequences. Some are great. Some are bothersome. Some are horrible.

The opiate and heroin epidemic is horrible. It erupted after prescription pills became more than a means to simply reducing pain. The effects on the brain caused addiction. Easy access to them made it easier not to quit. Needing increasing amounts and going to great lengths to get them were rationalized. They were legally prescribed and filled after all. That couldn’t possibly be described as addiction.

Here we are several years later. The unintended consequences are getting uglier. The [+ number of people who are overdosing and dying +] is escalating despite the huge amount of money devoted to it.

Preventing the circumstances that can lead to abuse doesn’t require money. It requires a change in how we take our medications. How we manage them while taking them. What we do with the drugs we no longer need or use.

This ebook is designed to give you the information you need to make changes on an individual basis that can be expanded to neighborhoods and communities.

Opiates And Pain

Opiates are a godsend to anyone with pain. They interfere with the signals the brain gets about a broken bone, cancer, or any of a million other things that happen to us.

Opiates are so good pain can become non-existent. Lower back pain? Sprained wrist? Broken toe? Not to worry. You can probably carry on without noticing much pain.

Chronic cancer pain? There’s medication for that thankfully. Arthritis that makes walking nearly impossible? Got you covered.

Understanding the seamless move from pain killing to addiction requires a little knowledge of how the brain operates.

First the difference between opiates and opioids which are often used interchangeably now because of so much addiction. They shouldn’t be.

Opiates originated in the sap of poppy blooms. They can be processed, manipulated, or pressed into products that are ingested through smoking, snorting, injecting or eaten. Heroin is the most notorious of these. Their value is pain relief.

Opioids are synthetic versions of opiates. The goal in manufacturing them was pain relief. (You may hear opioids are synthetic heroin. This is true in the conceptual sense but it is far too simplistic to be used in everyday conversation.)

Opiate receptors are available all over the body including deep in the brain. Opiates have a unique ability to pass from blood to the these brain receptors very rapidly. The resulting feeling is relief, reward, release whatever term you want to call it.

Here’s the thing. It occurs in the brain’s reward center and the brain records the feeling of bliss every time the medication is taken. When pain occurs the brain remembers and puts out a message it wants the drug to stop it.

This is okay when there is physical pain that needs to be managed. Once this pain stops the brain stops requesting medication.

Until it doesn’t.

The brain really likes to feel good. Sometimes people who no longer need the medication may continue because it helps all kinds of pain and let’s be honest nobody would use drugs if it didn’t feel good. Others may “experiment” and discover this same set of good feelings. Those predisposed to addiction set themselves on a course that is nearly impossible to stop.

In addition the brain’s send out of dopamine – the feel good chemical – starts to become dependent on larger doses. This is called tolerance and eventually crowds out any other dopamine releasing activities previously practiced by the addict. For example, you often hear someone described as “loved whitewater rafting; always played the guitar at church; was a great athlete”. These can’t begin to offset the dopamine hit of opioids and so addiction completely takes over a person’s life. Hence the reason addiction is referred to as a brain disease.

The extremely addictive qualities of heroin and opioids make it nearly impossible to quit using without huge amounts of time, counseling, community support, and the knowing that relapse is a probability.

Economics of Addiction

Oxycontin is a very common and effective painkiller. Generally it’s covered by insurance because it’s due to medical needs.

Even uncovered insurance prescriptions are relatively inexpensive. A single 10 mg of Oxy is $1.25; 80 mg is $5.00.

Increasing tolerance may require additional medication and that is easily done through conversations with a physician. If a doctor refuses to comply with a request and the desire for the drug becomes so great street drugs become the only option.

Street Oxycontin of 10 mg costs $5.00. 80 mg street Oxy can be as expensive as $80.00.

These are per pill prices and abusers take several pills a day. As the cost explodes the economics become untenable. This leads to the second most well known outcome of heroin and opioid addiction: Stealing and committing other crimes in order to continue buying drugs.

Other economic consequences of addiction include loss of effectiveness at work including absenteeism and inability to be productive, lack of a stable home life, court ordered removal of children, the affects on extended relationships, health care costs.

These seemingly invisible costs are very real. The National Institute on Drug Abuse [+ estimates health costs +] at $11 billion annually and $193 billion overall or roughly $551 per person in the United States.

Medical Emergencies

In 2014 there were nearly 19,000 opioid overdose deaths. There were 10,500 heroin overdose deaths. This according to [+ National Institutes of Health +] .

It is virtually impossible to determine the number of overdoses that occurred not resulting in death. For reference in Lucas County, Ohio over a two year period there were 3,000 calls to first responders. What isn’t represented are victims transported privately, those who woke up, those who use opioid use not yet detectable by lab research.

It has become so frequent [+ Naloxone +]  is available by prescription to keep on hand if a family or friends knows an active heroin/opioid user. Naloxone is an easy to use nasal spray that when used as directed can reverse an overdose.

Nothing is without side effects. Overdoses often require two doses. (Latest opioid drugs can require as many as nine.) Naloxone alone isn’t adequate. Because overdoses include depressed respiratory systems it’s also important to try to wake the victim and keep them awake.

Hoping to keep it private? Please don’t. It might not work because Naloxone has a lifespan of 30 minutes. A reversed overdose can then reverse back.

Want to save a life? Call 911.

Medication isn’t the answer although it’s a great start. Counseling, support, treatment are critical components of recovery.

Three Simple Steps

Take as directed

If it’s not working as expected talk to your doctor before taking extra. If your budget doesn’t have room ask for help. Too little means not enough to take care of pain. We used to save unused medication “just in case”. Not an option any more. So the extra pills your cousin kept are not for you.

Store securely

Most young addicts get their opiates out of the family medicine cabinet or drawer or purse. Stealing from ill family members or friends isn’t unusual. Addicts operate on an entirely different thought process and will go wherever drugs are and will not hesitate to ask for seemingly innocent favors like using a restroom at a yard sale or open house.

Medication theft is an enormous problem especially for the elderly or chronically ill. For them pain management makes end of life much easier. Follow hospice procedures and count pills every day. Going for a necessary refill can turn ugly if it’s five or six or ten days early.

Dispose of properly

Prescriptions aren’t always completely used. When that happens it’s important to get rid of them. There are options.

●  Many police stations have a container for medication. They are hassle free. No request for ID, no questions, no problem. Easy peasy.

●  Physicians may take them on a limited basis.

●  There are a handful of businesses that collect extra medications either pharmacies or drug abuse agencies. You can find them [+ here +] .

●  A last resort is using FDA [+ recommended procedures. +]

Maybe One Really Hard One

Recovery is a lifetime job. It’s harder than non-addicts can imagine. They have lost so much.

We must commit to patience. Heroin has a relapse rate of 97% because it is a brain disease. A full year of sobriety only guarantees a 50/50 chance of not relapsing.

We must commit to support. Addiction is not a moral issue. No one chooses it. It is a brain disease.

We must commit to talking about heroin to our children. There are [+ signs of addiction +] . Just like the rest of the body have them checked if you suspect anything because it is a disease – a brain disease.

We must commit to education everywhere in our community because it’s wrong to leave it up to law enforcement. We wouldn’t do that if we believed it is a brain disease.

It will take all the communities within our larger community to stop this. Please commit.

Additional Resources

[+ SAMHSA +]

[+ Drug Free Kids +]

[+ Pact 360 +]

This are millions of sites on Google. These are a good start but don’t hesitate to put in your own specific terms and get the answers you need.

Addiction Help Toledo


[+ addictionhelptoledo.com +]

[+ Addiction Help Toledo on Facebook +]

Tips For Preventing Heroin Overdose

Heroin and opiate overdoses and deaths occur every day in every place in America. Yet many parents and families are stunned to learn someone they love is a heroin addict when there is an overdose/death. There are more and more technologies that reverse overdoses. Treatment modalities that create supportive, caring environments to manage the mental issues that come with addiction. Support groups that help families, friends, and entire communities learn to deal with being burned by fires they didn't start. And yet addiction and deaths are increasing. Prevention, starting at home, is the only answer. This book discusses the epidemic and its impact on every part of an addict's life so the conversations families have are based on facts not simply information "they heard". Its simple and straightforward format provides an easy to use and understand primer perfect for every age.

  • ISBN: 9781370122189
  • Author: Victoria Kamm
  • Published: 2016-11-17 17:20:08
  • Words: 1624
Tips For Preventing Heroin Overdose Tips For Preventing Heroin Overdose