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Not a perfect world

In a perfect world, agencies like Family Recovery Center would not exist because there would be no need for them. In a perfect world people would have all the right skills in their life-coping skills toolbox. Everyone would have good common sense and practice loving kindness to each other. Everyone would have inner peace and contentedness. In a perfect world no one would self-harm.

Last week the Psychiatry and Behavioral Health Learning Network reported that stimulants and opioids used together are causing a rise in deaths per CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) data. The article states that, in 2019,76 percent of cocaine-related overdose deaths in the U.S. also involved opioids.

It’s called “speedballing,” mixing stimulants like cocaine or methamphetamine with opioids, which are depressants. There are some who believe that this removes the risk of overdosing, that they cancel each other out, but that’s just not true.

“People are combining substances, that’s true,” advises Tawnia Jenkins, facilitator of the Naloxone program at Family Recovery Center. “Naloxone will reverse the opiate, not the other substance. But being mixed could prove fatal, especially if you are expecting one drug and end up with something you have no tolerance for. It would take several doses of Naran to reverse a strong opiate like fentanyl.”

It’s a very dangerous mix that, actually, is even more dangerous than using one or the other. Heroin use causes heavy drowsiness, the article says. Cocaine causes a burst of energy. The combined use creates a “push-pull” reaction in the body and brain.

Pause and think about that for a moment, the push-pull reaction on the body.

“Once someone develops tolerance to a drug, they are more likely to combine drugs in order to achieve the desired effects,” the above article says. “When meth and heroin are combined, it’s difficult to determine when too much of either was taken. This lack of awareness can increase the chances of a fatal overdose.”

Dr. Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), writes, “Although deaths from opioids continue to command the public’s attention, an alarming increase in deaths involving the stimulant drugs methamphetamine and cocaine are a stark illustration that we no longer face just an opioid crisis. We face a complex and ever-evolving addiction and overdose crisis characterized by shifting use and availability of different substances and use of multiple drugs (and drug classes) together.”

What makes this worse scenario even more volatile is the addition of fentanyl to the mix, with or without the misuser’s knowledge. “…since 2013 fentanyl has driven the steep rise in opioid overdoses,” Dr. Volkow says. But overdose is not the only concern. Substance misuse of these drugs can cause problems with memory, thinking and reasoning. It can lead to heart and lung diseases, weaken immune system function, make HIV, hepatitis B and hepatitis C conditions worse. There are a whole host of problems that can and do arise from substance misuse.

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Family Recovery Center and other agencies that offer help for substance abuse and related health issues will still be around, which is reassuring to those who reach out to them for help to recover their lives.

Family Recovery Center helps families to find ways to navigate through these challenging times. For more information about the agency’s treatment and education programs, contact FRC at 964 N. Market St., Lisbon; phone, 330-424-1468, or email, info@familyrecovery.org. FRC is funded in part by the Columbiana County Mental Health and Recovery Services Board.

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