Naloxone Can Treat Cocaine and Heroin Addiction

May 1, 2015 by  
Filed under Treatment and Recovery News

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naloxone molecular diagramThe search continues for ways to prevent rampant spread of addiction. Since treatment protocols are only somewhat effective, there is a search for replacement or substitute drugs that can interfere with the progression of addiction in those who use drugs.

Drugs can either interfere with the chemical reaction of the body to other substances of abuse or create adverse effects like Antabuse, which is used to stop drinking behaviors by making the drinker sick if they’re on the drug.

Researchers have discovered one drug, Naloxone, which has shown promise for heroin addicts. Recently, drug researchers at both the University of Adelaide, South Australia and University of Colorado in Boulder have shown interesting links in the use of Naloxone.

How Naxolene Works

Previously seen to be effective in blocking the use of a brain receptor believed to be linked in addiction to heroin, Naloxone has shown the same benefits when used to block the addictive properties of cocaine.

This receptor, known to scientists as Toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4) is an immune receptor in the brain that responds to cocaine to produce a pro-inflammatory response. This response is considered a vital link in the reward system underlying formation of the addictive process.

In previous testing, scientists proved that using the drug Naloxone, along with heroin or cocaine, disrupts the process of binding the drug(s) to the receptor, thus ceasing pleasurable sensations normally caused by the drug. Without these pleasurable sensations, the continued use of the drug has no pleasurable effect on the brain of the addict.

The User’s Brain

The first response that a heroin or cocaine user feels is a sense of well-being and pleasure, often called “a rush.” This rush is created, according to the research, in the receptor known as TLR4 which is known to play a key part in creating addiction to the drug.

The user continues to seek the rush and drug use escalates as more and more of the drug is required to achieve the same effect. This is the process of addiction called tolerance. When there is no pleasure involved, it is believed that the user will stop using the drug.

Making Progress

Discovering that the same receptor is responsible for the rush received with cocaine is a big step toward testing Naloxone for further use in substances of addiction, such as methamphetamine, alcohol and others. We can perhaps speculate that addiction has a common mental component that is as simple as overusing the TLR4 receptor in the brain of a user. We might even go so far as to wonder if this is the key to finding a common solution to stopping the addictive properties of all drugs on the brains of users who have this common factor for addiction.

Sources:

Medical News Today.com. Finding new ways to treat cocaine dependence could help with all addictions. Retrieved online from: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/288896.php

Kelly McClanahan has an MSW in clinical social work and a CATC IV in addictions counseling. She teaches meditation and mindfulness, specializing in addiction and trauma. She also leads workshops and seminars on treatment of addictive disorders and stress reduction.

The Rising Epidemic of Heroin Addiction

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SONY DSCWhen people think about heroin, they often think back to the junkies of the 1960s and 1970s; sunken-eyed, skinny and unwashed young men and women who represented the poorer class of our social structure, stealing to support their habit and mostly living in dirty ghetto rooms with other junkies.

Today we see a whole new paradigm with heroin use and abuse. Most of those who abuse heroin now are professional or para-professional men and women who started using much later in life. They are doctors, nurses, police, clergy—those with high levels of education and living in nicer suburbs where addiction was not previously believed to travel in such high numbers. Again, these addicts most often speak of their addiction as having begun with prescription pain medications. Often, they first became addicted to pain medication that proved too difficult, illegal or expensive to maintain.

Why Heroin?

Heroin in today’s market is less expensive than ever before and more abundant in availability. One source reported that prescription pain pills sell on the street for approximately $1.00 per milligram. The cost for a 30-milligram pill would therefore be $30.00. This is far more than heroin costs, which would be somewhere between $10.00 and $25.00 a single use. The heroin available in most public settings today is of much higher quality than the black tar heroin of the 1960s and 1970s, since it is being refined more efficiently by producers before reaching the open market.

The United States is the world’s largest consumer of pain medication, buying 80% of the medication produced. Overdose of prescription pain medication is the highest cause of accidental death in this country, with death occurring every 19 minutes nationwide. Overdose from heroin use is rising sharply over the period of the last ten years; often observed with higher incidence in celebrity overdose cases in recent years.

The Center for Disease Control (CDC), reports that while overdose deaths from cocaine and prescription opiate medications have remained consistent in the period between 2011 and 2013, deaths from heroin overdose have doubled in number during that time.

A National Concern

Treatment professionals are seeing a steady increase in rates of admissions for addiction treatment regarding heroin, as well as prescribed opiates. In Denver, rates increased nearly one full percentage point between 2011 and 2012. In Vermont, the governor spent his entire ‘State of the State’ address in January, 2014 talking about the rising rates of heroin addiction, calling it a public health crisis. Cases there of heroin trafficking increased 135 percent between 2012 and 2013. From 2000 to 2013, the rate of heroin addiction treatment increased over 250 percent.

Most of the heroin coming in to the U.S. is coming from drug cartels in Mexico. Mexican heroin has decreased dramatically in cost for several reasons. Farmers who once grew acres of marijuana have switched to fields of heroin poppies. This is primarily due to the higher prices paid for the same volume of product. Drug cartels will pay the high price for tar produced by opium poppies and risk the dangerous transport of tar from mountain villages where they grow faster than crops that cannot be sold at the same high price.

Resources:

Typical Opioid User Has Changed. Real Time Recovery. Retrieved from http://realtimerecovery.net/typical-opioid-user-changed/

Edelsten, Josh. (August 2014). Vermont Quits War on Drugs to Treat Heroin Abuse as Health Issue.BloombergBusiness. Retrieved from http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2014-08-22/vermont-quits-war-on-drugs-to-treat-heroin-abuse-as-health-issue

O’Reilly, Andrew. (February 5, 2015). Gang warfare on streets of Chicago fueled by Sinaloa Cartel heroin.Fox News. Retrieved from http://latino.foxnews.com/latino/news/2015/02/05/gang-warfare-on-streets-chicago-fueled-by-sinaloa-cartel-heroin/

Stevenson, Mark. (February 3, 2015). Mexican Cartels Expand Offerings to Feed America’s Growing Heroin Addiction. Huffington Post. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/02/03/mexico-heroin-trade-us_n_6601296.html

Torres, Kevin. (January 7, 2015). Heroin Cheaper than Pain Killers. Denver News. Retrieved from http://www.9news.com/story/news/health/2015/01/03/heroin-prescription-drug-overdoses-colorado/21238183/

Weathers, Helen & Carmen Bruegmann. Heroin Britain.Daily Mail Online. Retrieved from http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-105112/Heroin-Britain.html

Kelly McClanahan has an MSW in clinical social work and a CATC IV in addictions counseling. She teaches meditation and mindfulness, specializing in addiction and trauma. She also leads workshops and seminars on treatment of addictive disorders and stress reduction.

Myanmar’s Heroin War Is Lost–Can America Be Next?

December 12, 2014 by  
Filed under Politics and Government

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heroinMyanmar (also known as Burma) has long been one of the world’s leading producers of heroin, and production of this opiate drug derived from poppies does not appear to be slowing. While the heroin export/import ration may have gone down after the 90s, that does not mean that production, import and export of the drug has stopped altogether.

Due to the fact that Burma is the second largest producer of poppy seeds, most countries can link heroin exports to Myanmar. The United Nations Office on Drug and Crime has tried cracking down on the country but it appears that we are far from seeing the end of heroin exports from Myanmar.

Controlling Where There’s No Control

Many of the citizens, police and civilians in Myanmar engage in heroin usage. The most common using grounds are cemeteries. The cemetery acts as a safe haven for junkies and social users alike. Many of the citizens of Myanmar contribute the lack of control of this drug to the fact that most of the officials use it as well.

Due to undercover investigations, many officials who set out to control the use have instead become addicted to the drug themselves. When police go undercover, it is their job to ensure that their persona is completely believable. There is no way to convince a dealer that you are a user unless you actually use the drug in front of him. The undercover investigators may have had good intentions to start, but they have fallen short of fixing the problem.

Heroin User Junction

The cemeteries in which the heroin users hang out are littered with addicts–many who end up as fatalities. Every day, there are more than five drug users discovered dead. The cause of death is almost always attributed to heroin overdose. The irony that users are dying in a cemetery that is filled with bodies of drug overdose victims is far from humorous. It is a travesty that needs to be stopped.

Opiates in the United States

Myanmar’s drug exports have touched many countries, including the United States. Many people fear that, if something drastic is not done soon, the United States will succumb to the same fate as Myanmar, if not worse. Heroin usage is a worldwide problem, and it is one that can essentially be the downfall of life as we know it.

According to recent studies, more than 50 percent of major crimes committed in the United States are linked to opiate drug usage. Statistics also state that over $480 billion has been lost due to opiate use, addiction and recovery. Those numbers include loss of wages, cost of hospital bills and even criminal justice system costs.

While the United States has significantly lowered heroin usage among its population, it is still an issue that needs to be tackled. The threat that the problems in Myanmar may be echoed in the United States is a threat that needs to be taken seriously. The war on drugs is an ongoing effort that is still in need of fine tuning.

Cryste Harvey has battled with addiction since the day she was born. From family issues to personal issues, she has seen many things, but she has taken the leap to be sober and to help inform others of the hardships, trials and tribulations associated with addiction. She is now a mother and wife, and she has vowed to help others on their road to recovery. With little to no help from her parents and siblings, she was the first person in her family to graduate high school and then continue on to college. She is currently working towards an English degree, and she hopes to become a published author.

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