TeenHealthFX is extremely concerned about your current pattern of abusing prescription medications. Using/abusing prescription drugs that have not been prescribed to you, or abusing medications that have been prescribed to you, are serious and dangerous problems. Ripping apart the couch to find these medications is a sign of a serious problem, and taking valium and OxyContin in such high doses indicates a deeply problematic kind of substance abuse that could end up being lethal. Before your problem gets even more serious and out-of-control, please do the following right away:
· Tell your mother about your prescription drug problem. Let her know that you have a problem with prescription drugs, that you have taken some of her prescription drugs, and that you need her to help you get professional help for this problem.
· Talk to your mother about her making arrangements for her prescription medications where you will not be able to have access to them. With the kind of problem you are currently dealing with your mother cannot keep these medications anywhere where you can possibly get a hold of them. This includes hiding them in the house where there is still the possibility of your finding them. If your mother does not have to take these medications, the most ideal situation would be for her to no longer be prescribed them and not to have them in her possession at all. If she does need these medications, it is critical that she make arrangements to keep them in a secure place outside of the house or to make sure they are in a secure, locked place in the home where you cannot get to them.
· Have your mother set up a consultation for you with a mental health professional trained in working with substance abuse disorders. It is critical that you receive treatment for your substance abuse, and that you and your mother receive education from a trained professional on exactly what a successful treatment plan will involve from you and from your family in order to keep you drug free.
· Tell your primary care physician (and any future doctors) about this problem. Whether you are actively in treatment or are in recovery it is important that any medical health professionals who treat you be aware of your substance abuse history so this can be taken into consideration if your doctor every wants to prescribe some kind of medication for you in the future. For the sake of your physical and emotional well-being, you do not want your doctor to prescribe you something that could contribute to current drug abuse or that could trigger a relapse.
· Please read below on the general information on prescription drug abuse FX has given, as well as some specific information on oxycodone and Percocet abuse.
If you live in northern New Jersey and need help finding a therapist you can call the Access Center from Atlantic Behavioral Health at 888-247-1400. Outside of this area you can log onto the US Department of Health and Human Services Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website for referrals in your area.
You can also contact the National Institute on Drug Abuse & Alcoholism at 1-888-644-6432 for more information.
General Information on Abusing Prescription Medication:
Prescription drugs that are abused or used for non-medical purposes can pose a definite threat to a person’s physical and emotional well-being as the drugs can end up altering brain activity and leading to dependence. Commonly abused prescription drugs include opioids (generally prescribed to treat pain), central nervous system depressants (usually used to treat anxiety and sleep disorders), and stimulants (prescribed for narcolepsy, ADHD, and obesity). The long-term use of opioids or central nervous system depressants can lead to physical dependence and addiction. And, taken in high doses, stimulants can lead to compulsive use, paranoia, dangerously high body temperatures, and irregular heartbeat.
Adolescents are among one of a couple of groups of people who are most vulnerable regarding the abuse of prescription medication. According to the 2003 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 9.2 percent of teenagers’ ages 12-17 had used a prescription drug for nonmedical reasons in the past year and 4.0 percent were current users. Prescription opioids are a particularly serious problem with teens in this age range. In 2004, the National Institute on Drug Abuse conducted a Monitoring the Future Survey of 8th, 10th and 12th graders. This survey found that 5.0 percent of 12th graders reported abusing OxyContin in the past year, and 9.3 percent reported abusing Vicodin – making Vicodin one of the most commonly abused prescription drugs in this population. Another very concerning trend amongst adolescents is the practice of “pharming” where teens mix prescription medication and ingest some or all of them at once, unaware of the potentially severe drug interactions that could lead to lead to various serious complications and problems, including death.
If an adolescent is abusing prescription medication and needs help in dealing with his/her drug dependence, TeenHealthFX recommends that person talk to a trusted adult as soon as possible so that an effective treatment plan can be put in place to deal with the problem. Whether you go to your parents, an extended family member, your primary care physician, or a school staff member – notify an adult immediately so that adult can intervene on your behalf. Addressing the abuse of prescription medications will usually involve behavioral treatments. Behavioral drug abuse treatments, such as individual counseling, group or family counseling, contingency management, and cognitive-behavioral therapy, all aim to teach the person who is abusing drugs how to stop using the drugs, how to handle cravings, how to prevent relapses, and how to handle a relapse should one occur. Behavioral treatments can also help people to improve their personal relationships and ability to function at work and at home without the need for drugs or illicit substances. While Pharmacological treatments (the use of medication) are used to address certain types of drug dependencies, such as opioid addictions, it is unclear as to whether or not this type of treatment is effective for people abusing prescription medications.
Information on Opioids, Including Oxycodone and Percocet:
Oxycodone and Percocet are both drugs that are classified as opioids. Opioids are analgesic, or pain-relieving, medications. When a person is prescribed an opioid analgesics by a medical health professional, takes the medication as it has been prescribed, and stays under the care of a medical health professional while on the medication, this class of medication is generally safe and effective. However, these drugs are extremely dangerous to those who take them without a doctor’s prescription and guidance.
· Percocet: Percocet is in the class of drugs called opiods, usually used to treat pain. It is a combination drug that contains both Oxycodone and Acetaminophen.
· Oxycodone: OxyContin is one of several brand name drugs containing Oxycodone, a class of medication called opiate (narcotic) analgesics used to relieve moderate to severe pain.
· Acetaminophen: Acetaminophen is used to relieve mild to moderate pain from headaches, muscle aches, menstrual periods, colds, sore throats, toothaches, backaches, reactions to vaccinations, and to reduce fevers. It can also be used to relieve the pain of osteoarthritis. Acetaminophen is in a class of medication called analgesics (pain relievers) and antipyretics (fever reducers), and works by changing the way the body senses pain and by cooling the body.
Some examples of opioids include:
· Hydrocodone (i.e., Vicodin)
· Oxycodone (i.e., OxyContin)
Safe Guidelines for Opioid Use
Opioids, such as OxyContin, can be habit-forming and can cause significant physical harm, and can even result in death, if taken improperly. So keep the following guidelines in mind:
· Do not take a larger dose than prescribed
· Do not take a dose more often than what has been prescribed
· Do not take an opioid for a longer period of time than your doctor has recommended
· If you have been taking an opioid for more than a few days, do not stop taking the medication suddenly as you may experience withdrawal symptoms. Your doctor will probably want to decrease your dose gradually to reduce the likelihood of withdrawal symptoms.
· Call your doctor if you experience any problematic side-effects or withdrawal symptoms.
· Keep all appointments with your doctor if you are being prescribed an opioid
· Do not take an opioid medication that has not been prescribed for you.
· Do not share or sell an opioid prescription that it for you to others (this could cause severe harm or death to others and is illegal)
· Be clear with your doctor about any other prescription or over-the-counter medications you are taking so you do not end up taking any dangerous combination of medications
How are Opioids abused?
Opioids can be taken orally in pill form or the pills can be crushed into a powder and snorted or injected.
Overdose deaths are very common when opioids are snorted or injected, especially with OxyContin. These pills were designed to slowly release the medication – but when snorted or injected there is a rapid release of the drug into the bloodstream, exposing a person to dangerously high doses of the drug in a very brief period of time.
Adverse Effects Associated with Opioids
· large single doses can cause severe respiratory depression, respiratory arrest, or death
· when you used outside of a doctor’s directions opioid abuse can also cause sedation, unconsciousness, coma, tolerance and addiction
Symptoms of Overdose
Symptoms of overdose with opioids can include the following:
· difficulty breathing, slowed breathing, or stopped breathing
· excessive sleepiness
· limp or weak muscles
· increase or decrease in pupil size
· cold, clammy skin
· slow or stopped heartbeat
· blue color of skin, fingernails, lips, or area around the mouth
· loss of consciousness or coma
In case of overdose, call your local poison control center at 1-800-222-1222. If the person has collapsed or is not breathing, call local emergency services at 911.
Opioids should not be used in combination with certain medications, as life-threatening respiratory depression can occur. Opioids should not be used in conjunction with:
Patients who have been legally prescribed opioids for a long period of time may become physically dependent on the drug. When a person is physically depending on a drug it means that a person may experience increased tolerance to the drug (more of the drug is needed to achieve the same effect compared with when it was first prescribed) and withdrawal symptoms when the medication is stopped. (Note that this is different than being addicted to the drug)
It is very important that a person only take an opioid medication when prescribed by a medical health professional – but it is equally important that a person stop opioid use under the guidance of a medical professional to prevent or minimize withdrawal symptoms. Withdrawal symptoms may include:
· muscle and bone pain
· cold flashes
· involuntary leg movements
· anxiety or depression
Opioid Abuse Symptoms
Narcotics abusers can develop tolerance, physical dependence and psychological dependence when abusing medications of this class over a period of time.
· Tolerance: decreased response to a drug, with increasing doses needed to achieve comparable effects
· Psychological dependence: compulsive drug use in which a person takes the drug for personal satisfaction, often in spite of knowing the health risks
· Physical dependence: occurs when a person stops using the narcotic but experiences a withdrawal symptom
· Signs and symptoms of narcotic abuse: analgesia (feeling no pain), sedation, euphoria, respiratory depression (shallow breathing), small pupils, bloodshot eyes, nausea, vomiting, itching or flushed skin, constipation, slurred speech, confusion, poor judgment, and/or needle marks on the skin.
Treatment for Opioid Addictions
There are definitely effective treatments available for opioid abuse and addiction. Treatment can involve:
· Detoxification that is medically supervised to help reduce withdrawal symptoms
· Behavioral treatments conducted by mental health professionals
· Use of medications that can reduce cravings and diminish withdrawal symptoms, such as methadone, buprenorphine, naltrexone, and naloxone
· Support groups
· Rehabilitation programs
For more information on Opioid abuse, including definition, causes, symptoms, risk factors and treatment, please read the Beth Israel Medical Center at Harvard Medical school webpage on Opioid Abuse.