Medicines the Reverse Overdose Reduce Opioid Deaths: Is It Positive for Our Society or Does It Encourage Opioid Use?

In 2017, almost fifty thousand Americans died of opioid-related overdoses. Unfortunately, this number is comparable to the number of deaths from gun violence and car accidents. However, research suggests that this exceptionally high number could have been lower if people had received Naloxone, the medication that reverses opioid-related overdoses. 

What Is Naloxone?

Naloxone is a highly effective, safe, and non-addictive opioid-related overdose medication available as a nasal spray or an injection. When it is used quickly following an overdose, Naloxone reduces the likelihood of brain damage from the reduced blood flow due to the overdose. However, to be effective, it has to be available at the time it is needed and administered by someone trained to give it. Currently, first responders equipped with this life-saving medicine include firefighters, EMTs, and police officers. However, even EMTs may not have Naloxone on hand when they need it, and most states within the United States only allow intermediate and advanced-level EMTs to carry and administer the drug. Unfortunately, in many parts of the country, basic-trained EMT’s are the only first responders instantly available in emergencies.

Another big problem is that the actual first responders are often friends and family of the individual using opioids and overdosing. Very few of these individuals have access to Naloxone. The need for someone close by to have access to this life-saving medication is imperative to battle the opioid crisis.  

How Is Naloxone Obtained by the Public, and At What Cost?

One obtains Naloxone through a prescription from a doctor, a community distribution center, or from pharmacies in states that do not require a prescription to get it. Currently, there are over 40 states that allow pharmacists to dispense this medication without a prescription. Unfortunately, many pharmacies do not stock it. 

Since opioid-related deaths are soaring, there is a push to make this life-saving medicine more available to the public. The general public exposed to opioid overdoses must have access to Naloxone because many witnesses of overdose hesitate when calling 911 for fear of arrest, losing government benefits, and the associated stigma or shame. Furthermore, health centers are training people who are likely to witness overdoses on how to recognize the signs of an overdose and then give them Naloxone for free. However, data suggests that communities with high opioid-related death rates do not have these programs available to their residents.

The price of some Naloxone medications has risen since 2009, sometimes almost doubling in price per dose. In 2017, a city in Ohio spent upwards of $35,000 in administered Naloxone in nearly one thousand opioid-overdose calls. This amount was three times the amount spent in the year prior. Unfortunately, due to these substantial cost increases, local government officials suggested refusing to resuscitate people who repeatedly overdose.

Naloxone is Cost-Effective for Society

The opioid crisis is hurting low-income communities due to the loss of economic productivity related to fatal overdoses. Therefore, Naloxone saves society money. Although it is an expense for the community, it leads to saving money since it keeps more of the workforce of that community alive and contributing to society. Therefore, the most cost-effective way to battle opioid-related deaths is to distribute Naloxone to all groups involved in the opioid crisis, including the general public, firefighters, police officers, and EMTs. If low-income communities have trouble affording the medicine, the next option is to give the medication to the general public in that area, and at least one first responder group assigned to that area.

The study found that when the general public, police officers, firefighters, and EMTs have Naloxone, it costs about $16,000 per year. Conversely, defibrillators used to revive those in cardiac arrest cost over $50,000 per year, while new cancer drugs cost over $100,000 per year. Therefore, Naloxone saves society money, and it even saves the cost associated with opioid use and the criminal justice system. 

Does Naloxone’s Availability Encourage Opioid Use?

Some argue that increasing access to Naloxone will encourage opioid use, saying that it becomes a sort of “safety net,” in which those who suffer an overdose may not feel the need to seek treatment for their substance use disorder (SUD). This belief system is known as a “moral hazard,” which occurs with life-saving interventions that encourage reckless behaviors. Historically, the opposition of seat belts and condoms fed into this idea of “moral hazard.” For example, society once thought that condoms would make people engage in more reckless sexual behaviors, and seat belts will make people engage in more reckless driving behaviors. Often, politicians and policymakers combine the “moral hazard” argument with discussions on budgets to oppose distributing Naloxone on a larger scale. Although there is no evidence that the availability of Naloxone encourages opioid use, the argument remains persistent.

The research shows that we can substantially decrease opioid-related overdoses with the increased availability of life-saving medicines such as Naloxone. However, the question of its availability creating an environment of promoted opioid use is persistent. Society as a whole and communities ravaged by the opioid crisis need to figure out what is best for their particular challenges in dealing with the opioid epidemic. Furthermore, treatment is available, and there is hope for life-long recovery. At Enlightened Solutions, we understand the ever-changing circumstances of addiction and that the development of a substance use disorder is a unique journey dependent upon many influences. If you or someone you know has an addiction to drugs or alcohol, call us today at 833-801-LIVE.

Angels Pitcher’s Death From Lethal Combination of Opioids, Alcohol, and Fentanyl

Angels Pitcher’s Death From Lethal Combination of Opioids, Alcohol, and Fentanyl

There is always a chance that your addiction can kill you if you do not get help for it. Combining two or more drugs together can increase those chances. Angels pitcher, Tyler Skaggs, died recently from opioid, alcohol, and fentanyl overdose which can teach us just how grave and lethal the combination can be if you do not get help. 

Tyler Skaggs

Tyler Skaggs was a popular player of the Angels and one of their most reliable pitchers of the season. He suffered a lot of injuries last season such as his elbow. He worked with mobility coach Sarah Howard in Los Angeles and renowned strength coach Eric Cressey. This year, Skaggs experienced soreness in the forearm after experimenting with a new pitch during Spring training and missed a start. He also injured his ankle in an April game against the Chicago Cubs. 

Finding Tyler Skaggs

Angels pitcher Tyler Skaggs died in his hotel room on July 1st with opioids, fentanyl, and alcohol in his system. The Angels were staying at a hotel in Southlake ahead of a four-game series against the Texas Rangers. Skaggs’ body was found the day after the team arrived at 2:18 pm when a teammate was concerned about Skaggs not returning his calls or texts about meeting him for lunch. 

Drugs Found in Tyler Skaggs

Fentanyl was one of the drugs found in Skaggs’ system. It is a powerful synthetic opioid that works like morphine but 50-100 times more powerful. If you take this drug in uncontrolled concentrations or if your opioid tolerance is not tolerant of long-term use, you are more likely to have breathing suppression, as well as death, occur to you. There were 3.8 nanograms per millimeter of fentanyl in Skaggs’ system which is a huge amount. There were levels of over 100 in his system.

There were also 38 nanograms per millimeter of the prescription-strength painkiller oxycodone which is prohibited by Major League Baseball’s Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program since it is considered a “drug of abuse” on the federal Drug Enforcement Administration list. There was a blood alcohol level of 0.122%. Having 0.08% is considered legally impaired. 

Mysteries Surrounding Tyler Skaggs’ Death

It was said that the cause of Skaggs’ death was a mixture of alcohol, fentanyl, and oxycodone intoxication “with terminal aspiration of gastric contents.” This means that Skaggs choked on his own vomit while under the influence. His death was ruled as an accident and was found in his bed fully clothed with no signs of trauma. His family believes that an employee of the Angels team had something to do with his death. They released a statement of how heartbroken they were to learn that Skaggs died of a combination of these drugs and how out of character it was of him for someone trying to make it as a major league baseball player. The family believes that an employee of the Angels supplied these drugs to Skaggs.

Attorney Rusty Hardin

Rusty Hardin is a renowned criminal defense attorney who has represented athletes like Roger Clemens who was accused of lying before Congress over alleged steroid use. Hardin is determined to provide answers to Skaggs’ wife and family about what happened and how it happened. He wants to know how he acquired those drugs and if others are responsible for what happened. It is unfortunately too early to speculate if there are grounds for legal action.

After Tyler Skaggs’ Death

Players paid tribute to Skaggs by etching his initials and jersey number onto their hats and into the dirt on the mounds. Teammate Andrew Heaney threw Skaggs’ signature curveball when opening his first start. Angels player Mike Trout and Tommy La Stella wore Skaggs’ number underneath their last names and others wore No. 45 patches. In the first home game after Skaggs’ death, the Angels wore No. 45 jerseys with the name Skaggs on the back during the July 12th game against Seattle. Skaggs’ mother, Debbie, threw a strike for the ceremonial first pitch after a 45-second moment of silence. When the game was over, the players arranged their jerseys on the ground and said a prayer for Skaggs and the jerseys were left there.

Hundreds paid tribute to Skaggs at a memorial service at the St. Monica Catholic Church in Santa Monica. He was thought of as a passionate and caring man. Skaggs’ wife spoke of their love and family members and friends shared their goofiest and heartwarming memories with him. 

What We Can Learn From Tyler Skaggs’ Death

Tyler Skaggs’ was a major league baseball player that had a hidden addiction. Family members and teammates had no idea that he was struggling with addiction and were shocked at the discovery. Unfortunately, Skaggs did not seek out help which led to his untimely demise. The circumstances around Skaggs’ death does not change the man he was when he was alive or how talented he was. Because there is a big stigma surrounding addiction, especially in the sports community, not enough players get the help they need. If you are struggling with addiction or know someone who is, no matter what profession they are in, it is important to make sure they receive the tools they need to continue to live. Tyler Skaggs’ death should teach everyone how common addiction and overdoses are as well as how lethal the combination is of alcohol, oxycodone, and fentanyl.

Located on the shore of Southern New Jersey, Enlightened Solutions is a recovery center that uses evidence-based therapies and holistic healing to treat addiction and mental illness. With the opportunity to learn about therapies that are keyed in to healing the human spirit and learning about new stress-reducing techniques centered around a 12 step network, you will ensure a lasting recovery. For more information, please call us at 833-801-LIVE as we are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Egg Harbor Teen Raises Money in Memory of Father Who Died of an Overdose

Egg Harbor Teen Raises Money in Memory of Father Who Died of an Overdose

It can be hard to see your parent struggle with addiction only to have them lose their battle with it. By keeping the memory of your parent alive by remembering the good times you had with them, they will always stay with you. One teen in Egg Harbor Township decided to take it one step further by raising money to spread awareness of addiction in honor of her father.

Megan Herbein’s Efforts to Break the Addiction Stigma

State data says that there have been 1,304 deaths in New Jersey in 2014 and have doubled in 2018. Four years ago, Megan Herbein, a 16 year-old girl from Egg Harbor Township High School, lost her father to an overdose. He would have been 49 years-old this year. One way that Herbein decided to break the stigma of addiction was by speaking highly of her father. When others ask her about her father, she always wants them to know that he was always happy, telling jokes, and always nice to strangers. That just because her father suffered the disease of addiction did not mean that he was a bad person. Herbein remembers her father going to dance competitions, loved roller coasters, and would drive his daughter to school.

Hope One Mobile Addiction Outreach Van

Atlantic County Sheriff Eric Scheffer and his office wanted to help connect the community with treatments and services by launching the Hope One mobile addiction outreach van. This unit is meant to help promote substance abuse and mental health awareness. Contributions and donations were received through the nonprofit Atlantic County Sheriff’s Foundation. Ever since the start of this program, at least ten people who sought out help with at least one person requesting treatment. Services and arrangements were made for that person in helping them with transportation and finding a residential treatment center.

Herbein’s mother heard about the Hope One project through social media and made sure to tell her daughter about it. This project inspired Herbein to want to raise money in honor of her dad. She emailed everyone she knew asking for donations in her father’s memory towards the Hope One van. In ten days, she was able to raise $1,100 with more money coming in.

Megan Herbein’s Hopes Going Forward

By the time her parents separated, Herbein knew that there was something going on with her father. Her half-sisters knew more about their father’s addiction since they were older at the time that it escalated. The older Herbein got, the more that she started to understand the way addiction worked. It was hard for her to see her father like this since she “idolized” him very much.

Herbein hopes that this fundraiser that she created could be an annual thing and to be on the lookout for more opportunities to volunteer. Her, her mother, and grandmother are figuring out more ways that they can raise money for next year. By speaking about the person her father was, Herbein was showing to the community that her father was more than his addiction and his struggles but a human being like everyone else.

What to Tell the Child of a Parent Struggling with Addiction

It may be hard to know what to tell a child when you know one of their parents is struggling with addiction. They may feel anger at their parent for not being able to stop or their age can make it hard for them to understand what addiction is. Herbein’s message that she wants others to know is that when someone is struggling to stop themselves from their substance abuse, it is no one’s fault and it does not mean that your parent does not love you.

Adults should let their children know that addiction is as much of a disease as when you need medical attention for a physical condition. That your parent might be behaving badly and saying mean things when the truth is, they have no control of what they are saying when they are drunk or high. Children should also know that addiction is not their fault or responsibility to try to stop it. All they can do if offer suggestions and find support towards when the situation becomes hard to handle. You should let your child know that there are many others out there whose parents struggle with addiction. You can give them the number in terms of statistics or find a support group for children to be able to speak about their experiences.

Let your children know that it is okay to speak to someone. There is still a big stigma of addiction where people tend to forget who the person struggling with their addiction was before. They do not need to be scared or embarrassed to speak about their parents. There should be no secret to having an addiction as people are going through it every day. Megan Herbein knew how important it was to speak about her father as people who heard about his death only know about the cause of death and not the person behind it. By letting people know who someone was outside of their disease is honoring that person in the highest light. By making attempts to break the stigma of addiction and mental illness in their own area will help honor the lives of those who died and making sure no one has to go through that type of loss again.

Located on the shore of Southern New Jersey, Enlightened Solutions is a recovery center that uses evidence-based therapies and holistic healing to treat addiction and mental illness. With the opportunity to learn about therapies that are keyed in to healing the human spirit and learning about new stress reducing techniques centered around a 12 step network, you will be ensure a lasting recovery. For more information, please call us at 833-801-LIVE as we are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

partial care program

Symptoms And Side Effects Of Alcohol Overdose

Symptoms And Side Effects Of Alcohol Overdose

Alcohol overdose is a life threatening situation, can cause heart failure, and is a sign of alcoholism.

Physical: Alcohol overdose greatly impairs cognitive functioning, therefore interfering with essential motor function. Additionally, alcohol overdose can cause problems in the digestive system or failure of certain organs like the liver. Symptoms and side effects include:

  • Loss of equilibrium: difficulty keeping balance, falling over, unable to walk
  • Lack of coordination: difficulty walking without stumbling or falling, cannot coordinate limbs to make motion, cannot perform separate physical movements at the same time
  • Numbness or lack of feeling in limbs
  • Slurring, drooling, or inability to communicate clearly; incoherence
  • Head falling down with a loose neck
  • Upset stomach including excess vomiting
  • Eyes rolling back in the head
  • Passing in and out of consciousness
  • Seizures

Psychological: Significant amounts of alcohol also impair essential psychological functions, from emotional to mental states. Symptoms and side effects include:

  • Aggression
  • Violence
  • Rage
  • Crying or hysteria
  • Short Term Memory Loss
  • Rapidly Changing Emotional State
  • Paranoia
  • Confusion

What To Do For An Overdose: If you believe someone is experiencing an overdose on Alcohol it is important not to leave them alone. If they exhibit extreme signs like eyes rolling back in the head, drooling, or a seizure it is important to call an ambulance or get them to an emergency room as soon as possible. Loss of consciousness during an alcohol overdose can result in unconscious vomiting, which could result in choking and death.

After Overdose: Drinking to the extent of alcohol overdose is not a normal manner of drinking. Depending on the situation, for example if a person commits a crime or gets a DUI, they might be forced into an alcohol counseling program. Many judicial circuits mandate attending a certain number of 12 step meetings like alcoholics anonymous or narcotics anonymous.

If you are concerned a loved one has a drinking problem which has now threatened their life, call Enlightened Solutions today. We can refer you to a detox center and set you up to move through our levels of care. Rehabilitation for alcoholism requires therapy, holistic healing, and creating meaning in life. Our program is inspired by the tradition of the twelve step spiritual program while integrating holistic healing modalities and progressive therapeutic methods. For more information on our programs, or for guidance on a loved one suffering from alcoholism, call 833-801-LIVE.