Pain Killers: Getting off is hard to do...

Opiate Overdose Symptoms

Opiates are drugs which are based from the opium poppy. These drugs are most frequently prescribed as painkillers, because they attach themselves to the opiate receptors inside the brain and create relief of pain as well as sensations of euphoria, accompanied by a time of feeling peaceful and content. Opiates are extremely addictive, specifically when not used as directed through a physician. Additionally, because the body gets accustomed to the opiates, it will require more medication to produce the same result, which unfortunately can cause an overdose.

In addition to the immediate effects of the drugs, other short and long-term effects are often related to opiate use and abuse. The most typical side effects are constipation, nausea and pinpoint pupils. As the addict increases intake, the results become more severe and may include extreme sleepiness, slowed respiration or breathing and pulse rates. The most well known side effect is physical dependence or addiction that takes place with long-term use.

The most unfortunate side effect of opiate or painkiller abuse is overdose or death.

Opiate Overdose Symptoms

Intestinal Symptoms

Opiates make the muscle tissue of your intestinal tract to become relaxed, which cause the regular movements which assist digestion and move waste products out of your body, to stop. The end result is constipation, which will, in the case of an overdose, becomes serious. Stools become so hard the intestinal tract become impacted. If they are not treated, this may lead to a rupture with the bowels. Other intestinal signs and symptoms of an opiate overdose might include loss of appetite or spasms of the stomach or intestines thereby causing nausea and vomiting.

The Eyes

Anyone who has consumed an excessive amount of an opiate will likely have blood-shot eyes, but will also have pinpoint pupils. Pinned or pinpoint pupils become very small, even in a dark room. Even though pinpoint pupils aren’t limited to an overdose, it is a symptom which can help confirm an opiate medication is the reason for the overdose.

Respiratory Symptoms

Probably the most dangerous symptoms of opiate overdose is a depressed, respiratory or breathing rate, as per the National Institute for Drug Abuse. The individual could have difficulty breathing, show labored breathing or very shallow breaths. This could lead to the appearance of blue skin tone, lips or fingernails. Breathing can become so shallow that it stops. This is normally the main cause of death from an overdose.

Cardiovascular Symptoms

Opiates can also negatively affect the cardiovascular system, specifically in an overdose scenario. An individual who has consumed an excessive amount of an opiate will have a decreased pulse rate together with low blood pressure. When your heart is unable to pump blood efficiently throughout the body, internal organs and brain they can become oxygen starved and the result is damage.

Central Nervous System

Opiates depress the central nervous system, which causes a loss of alertness. The most typical result of this is drowsiness which causes the overdosed individual to briefly fall asleep, even in the middle of a conversation. Much more harmful effects on the central nervous system are a loss of consciousness, seizures or even coma.

The CDC estimates that more than 100 people die every day from unintentional drug overdoses; many of them involving prescription pain killers.

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New Oxycontin Is Harder to Abuse

Michael had been snorting OxyContin for five years when a new version of the drug, intended to deter such abuse, hit the market last summer. The reformulated pills are harder to crush, turning instead into a gummy substance that cannot be easily snorted, injected or chewed.

James, 28, of Revere, Mass., at a treatment center in East Boston. He said he started using heroin when OxyContin changed its formula.

Uncrushable Oxycontin

Uncrushable Oxycontin

A blow with a hammer deforms, but won’t crush, the new OxyContin. The original formula could be turned into powder easily.

Instructed by his dealer, Mr. Capece, 21, tried microwaving one of the new pills, then sniffing up the burnt remains. Other addicts have tried to defeat the new formula by freezing, baking or soaking the pills in solvents ranging from soda to acetone. Many are ending up frustrated.

“It’s too much work,” said Mr. Capece who entered a rehab program here last month. “It wasn’t anything I enjoyed.”

A powerful narcotic meant for cancer patients and others with searing pain, OxyContin is designed to slowly release its active ingredient, oxycodone, over 12 hours. But after it was introduced in 1996, drug abusers quickly discovered that chewing an OxyContin tablet — or crushing one and snorting the powder, or injecting it with a needle — produced an instant high as powerful as heroin. It has been blamed for waves of addiction that have ravaged certain regions of the country, and has been a factor in many overdose deaths.

Purdue Pharma, the maker of OxyContin, may have succeeded for now in reducing illicit demand for its reformulated drug. But in several dozen interviews over the last few months, drug abuse experts, law enforcement officials and addicts said the reformulation had only driven up interest for other narcotics.

Demand appears especially high for pure oxycodone pills that come in a 30-milligram dose, often called “Perc 30s” or “Roxies” on the street. Opana, a time-release painkiller similar to OxyContin that has been on the market for five years, is showing up increasingly in police reports and has been blamed for a rash of overdose deaths. And heroin use has jumped sharply in many regions, according to rehab centers and the police.

“It’s just a matter of switching,” said John Burke, commander of the drug task force in Warren County, Ohio, and president of the National Association of Drug Diversion Investigators. “If I’m an addict, I’m going to find a drug that works.”

Mr. Burke said abuse of other oxycodone drugs was already growing before OxyContin was reformulated last August, partly because the other drugs are cheaper and because OxyContin had become harder to find on the street. Many doctors had stopped prescribing it because of its stigma and switched to other oxycodone drugs, Mr. Burke said.

Raymond V. Tamasi, president and chief executive of Gosnold on Cape Cod, a treatment center, said he had noticed that addicts switch initially to the Perc 30s.

“But eventually people make that progression from the pills to what appears to be a more economical high, which is heroin,” Mr. Tamasi said.

Prices vary, but 30-milligram oxycodone tablets generally sell on the street for $20 to $30 each, according to addicts and law enforcement officials. The old OxyContin sold for as much as $80 per 80-milligram pill. Several recovering addicts in Massachusetts said an 80-milligram tablet of the reformulated version, called OxyContin OP, costs about $40.

“You don’t make any money selling the OPs,” said James Moore, 28, who said he stopped selling and snorting OxyContin and moved on to heroin after the new version came out last year.

Mr. Moore, who said he used to snort as many as 10 OxyContin pills daily, was arrested in November for selling heroin and now lives at a halfway house in East Boston. Addicts can still get high from swallowing the new OxyContin pills, he said, but most prefer the immediate rush delivered by snorting or injecting the powder.

Outside of OxyContin, which comes in doses as high as 80 milligrams, the 30-milligram dose is the highest available for oxycodone, which is why addicts covet it.

Some addicts are reporting an even more powerful high from Opana, a time-release opiate painkiller whose active ingredient is oxymorphone. In Louisville, Ky., there have been at least 14 deaths this year involving Opana, according to the Jefferson County coroner’s office.

Purdue Pharma should have reformulated OxyContin sooner, said Steven Tolman, a state senator in Massachusetts who led a commission that investigated OxyContin abuse. The company asked the Food and Drug Administration to approve the new version for sale in November 2007; it won the approval in April 2010. It is the first painkiller reformulated to deter abuse, according to the F.D.A., which is now studying several proposed reformulations of other opiate drugs.

“It should not clear their conscience,” Mr. Tolman said of the change. “These people are scientists. Why didn’t they do this years ago?”

Not everyone is convinced that the days of abusing OxyContin are over. The F.D.A. is requiring Purdue Pharma to conduct clinical trials before it can claim that the new version is less abuse-prone. Though many addicts appear frustrated by the reformulation, Dr. Mark Publicker, an addiction medicine specialist at Mercy Recovery Center in Westbrook, Me., said he was “absolutely certain” that people would figure out how to abuse the new OxyContin.

“I like to think of them as drug addict scientists in white lab coats,” he said, pointing to Web sites where drug abusers debate various ways of trying to defeat the new formulation.

Libby Holman, a Purdue Pharma spokeswoman, said that based on initial data and reports, the company is “cautiously optimistic” that the reformulation will eventually prove less susceptible to abuse. But long-term studies will be necessary, she said in an e-mail, adding, “It is still too early to make any conclusions about the product’s impact on abuse and misuse in real-world settings.”

The company has initiated eight epidemiological studies and will report updates to the F.D.A., which approved their design, Ms. Holman said. Meanwhile, the new OxyContin pills have won some unflattering nicknames, said Dr. Ronald Bugaoan, director of psychiatric services at the High Point Treatment Center in Brockton.

“They call them gummies because when you chew them up they get stuck between your teeth,” he said. “They call them jellynoses because when you try to snort it up they get stuck. They cake in the nose.”

Mr. Moore, the recovering addict in East Boston, said that it was possible to snort the new OxyContin but that it took about an hour to break it down.

“It’s like doing a science project,” he said, “sitting there with a scraper, a knife, a razor blade, like it’s a frog or something.”

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Painkillers Bring Ohio County To It’s Knees

In Portsmouth Ohio, coal used to be king, now it’s Oxycontin and Oxycodone. The fifth-most-prescribed pain medication in the world, “oxy,” or “OC,” is a favorite of addicts, who crush and snort it or dilute it with water and inject it for a heroin-like rush. The drug and its cousin oxycodone are the cause of a prescription-drug-fueled epidemic that has brought Scioto County to its knees.

The county has seen a 360 percent increase in accidental drug-overdose deaths and has the highest hepatitis C rate in Ohio, a rate that has nearly quadrupled in the past five years, thanks to junkies who are shooting up.

Sixty-four Scioto County babies born in 2009 came into the world with drugs in their system — that’s nearly one in 10 births. And swamped drug treatment centers say they are turning away thousands of locals who need help for prescription-drug addiction.

This story is really sad, but you can read the rest of it HERE.

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Perry Moore, Chronicles of Narnia Producer, Dead from Overdose on Oxycontin

Perry Moore, The “Chronicles of Narnia” producer, was found dead in his SoHo apartment on Thursday. It is said he battled chronic back and neck pain and that pain sometimes interfered with his work. “He had a lot of chronic pain. It was always an issue we were dealing with on set,” said Mike Ryan, friend and Greyshack Films President, a producing partner on Perry Moore’s recent indie flick “Lake City.”

Moore’s father said his son had scheduled back surgery for the spring. “I hate to say he inherited it from me, but I’ve had several back surgeries,” Bill Moore, 69, told The News as he boarded a flight to New York City. The devastated father said his son’s initial autopsy was inconclusive, so formal cause of death is pending toxicology results. “I have no clue what happened. The examiner said he was in good condition,” he said. Sources said it appeared Moore died from an accidental overdose of the painkiller OxyContin.

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August Busch’s girlfriend caused by overdose on oxycodone

The girlfriend of former Anheuser-Busch CEO August Busch IV died at his home after accidentally overdosing on the painkiller oxycodone, the St. Louis County medical examiner said Wednesday.

Adrienne Martin, 27, of St. Charles, was found dead on the morning of Dec. 19 at Busch’s sprawling estate in suburban St. Louis after spending the night at his home. He has said he woke up around 11 a.m. and tried to awaken Martin, but couldn’t.

Oxycodone is used to relieve moderate to severe pain, according to the National Institutes of Health. It is in a class of medications called opiate (narcotic) analgesics and works by changing the way the brain and nervous system respond to pain. It is commonly known by its brand name, OxyContin.

The Drug Enforcement Administration says abuse of Oxycodone has increased markedly in recent years.

To read the rest of this story Click HERE

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OxyContin Overdose Kills 13 Year Old Boy in New York

A 13-year-old upstate New York boy has died of an apparent overdose after taking the powerful prescription painkiller Oxycontin. A painkiller that is claiming more and more lives lately.

Police say Matthew J. Kappelmeier was found dead in the backyard of a friend’s house in Nedrow on Sunday, about 5 miles south of Syracuse. The friend called 911, and no foul play is suspected in the teenager’s death.

Sgt. Susan Lockyer says some of the boy’s friends told investigators that he had recently taken Oxycontin, a brand name of the drug also known as Oxycodone, also known as HillBilly Heroin. The powerful narcotic drug is used to treat ongoing moderate to severe pain. Police are trying to determine how the boy obtained the medication.

Kappelmeier was supposed to be entering eighth grade at Onondaga Central Junior-Senior High School. Another sad story where prescription pain killers were involved, and most likely could have been avoided.

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3moms help spread awareness about dangers of substance abuse

A nontraditional approach to substance abuse education prevention and awareness is what makes 3moms unique. It brings parents together and puts a face on substance abuse through parent-to-parent contact.

“We encourage parents to spend time with their kids, talk about serious issues like substance abuse and build relationships based on trust and respect in which both the child and parent can be honest with one another,” says Beth Wilkinson, one of the original 3moms and chair of the organization.

Wilkinson lost her son, Kent to an accidental overdose of oxycontin when he was 18. Wilkinson, along with several other Valley mothers, approached the Arizona Affiliate of the Partnership for a Drug-Free America in 2008 to share stories of their lives and the impact of a child’s drug use on families.

“The moms, along with the Partnership, recognized that it’s not a matter of if but when children are going to be approached to try drugs or alcohol, and that we as a community must do everything we can to keep them from experimenting,” Wilkinson says. “This unique concept of moms talking to moms is to encourage everyone who hears our message to share the information with at least three other moms or caregivers, creating a network that will make a positive impact on our community.”

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L.A.’s “Walking Man” Found dead, was under investigation

A doctor and neighborhood fixture found dead in his hot tub this week was under investigation in connection with his treatment of a patient who overdosed on the prescription drug Oxycontin, authorities said.

Marc Abrams, the doctor known as the “walking man” for his long, shirtless strolls around Silver Lake, died Wednesday. His death is being investigated as a potential suicide, according to the Los Angeles Police Department.

Abrams, 58, was the subject of a series of undercover investigations following the death of a 25-year-old patient who was prescribed the powerful painkiller Oxycontin, a law enforcement official told the Los Angeles Times for Saturday’s edition. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly about the case, said officers posing as patients were able to easily get prescription medications from Abrams based on fake notes signed with names including “Dr. Kevorkian,” “Dr. Pepper” and “Dr. Dre.”

Abrams kept nighttime office hours and “catered to nothing but addicts,” the official told the Times. Police served a search warrant on Abrams’ office in North Hollywood in 2009, seizing patient files and other records, according to law enforcement officials.

No charges had been filed against Abrams. His lawyer said the doctor was “a fine physician with an impeccable record” and did nothing wrong.

Attorney Michael A. Zuk told the Times he had no knowledge of any criminal investigation and had not spoken with or been contacted by to any law enforcement agency on Abrams’ behalf.

The investigation was launched following the October 2008 death of 25-year-old Joseph Garcia, who died of an accidental overdose of Oxycontin. Other drugs also were found in his system.

Garcia’s mother, Lori, filed a wrongful death claim against Abrams last year, alleging that he was professionally negligent in prescribing drugs that resulted in the overdose. Garcia’s lawyer, Robert Gibson, said law enforcement officials from “multiple” agencies had contacted her about the criminal investigation surrounding her son’s death.

Abrams confirmed to the coroner’s investigator that he had seen Garcia about 7 p.m. the night before his death and had prescribed him Roxicodone, a version of oxycodone, and Soma, a muscle relaxant. He said Garcia had a history of back pain from an injury.

Abrams’ widow, Cindy, did not respond to a request for comment.

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