When we talk about Abuse vs. Addiction
To begin this discussion we must define the words Abuse and Addiction. When referring to Drug or Alcohol abuse Webster’s Dictionary defines abuse as the improper or excessive use or treatment, and Addiction when used in this context as the compulsive need for and use of a habit-forming substance (such as heroin, nicotine, or alcohol) characterized by tolerance and by well-defined physiological symptoms upon withdrawal; broadly: persistent compulsive use of a substance known by the user to be harmful.
- When is it recreational
- When is it addiction
- How does it affect families
- What is the answer
When referencing the reading and study materials we reflect on the 119 million Americans who consume alcohol every year and use alcohol “recreationally”. I believe this shows a clear example of those individuals who can consume alcohol yet live their lives without “abusing” alcohol or becoming addicted and go on living normal healthy lives.
We must also look at the eight to sixteen million individuals who do not have the power to use alcohol “recreationally”. It would appear from the reading material that abuse would fall between recreational and addiction. Those who abuse alcohol; to continue with this example the reading and study material references the approximately 5.6 million people who “abuse” alcohol meaning these individuals may not be yet defined as addicted but consume alcohol in a manner which could be described as reckless.
Individuals described in the eight to sixteen million who become totally dependent for example again alcohol, these are the individuals we define as “addicted” these are the individuals who at this point in their lives know this is a dangerous path but disregard their health and safety, these are the individuals who to fulfill their need commonly lose everything to the addiction and refuse to seek help until they have nothing else to lose or death conquers them first.
These individuals fall victim to the addiction which affects children or family they have. When we see this affecting the children it is at a point where the safety of the children is at risk and addiction has caused individuals to neglect their children. This is an example of when most individuals hit rock bottom generally after children have been removed from the custody of those parents affected by this epidemic, some of the cases we see these affected parents realize at this point if the path they are on continues they could lose their children permanently and make appropriate and substantial life changes.
The alternative, unfortunately, some are not able to overcome the addiction, children are placed in state custody, foster homes, or parents simply terminate rights and give up the fight to overcome to the addiction.
Coming from being a former employee at a county prosecuting attorning office and my son being a Deputy Sheriff, this is a daily epidemic, and these are daily calls and cases, they see these individuals who most commonly are addicted to prescription drugs, heroin, alcohol and other illicit things and how they are destroying individuals as well as families.
When did our society decide that everything is acceptable? So many turn a blind eye when they see people abusing their families or even some stranger out in public all while doing drugs or alcohol. When did our society become so acceptable of such a lifestyle and how can they ignore this ever-trending problem?
In this assignment we will delve into the drug called “Heroin”, as well as the drug called Fentanyl. We will discuss what Heroin and Fentanyl are and the interactions between the two drugs when combined, we will also discuss how to treat the users and their addiction, as well as research attempts experts are conducting to fight this epidemic.
Heroin and Fentanyl are two drugs creating an epidemic costing the United States billions of dollars per year as well as the lives they consume when combined due to drug overdoses and misuses.
Heroin and Fentanyl
Heroin is a Schedule I drug deemed by the United States Drug Enforcement Administration to be a highly addictive drug with no medical purposes. Heroin causes the user to experience a high sometimes referred to as a “Rush”. Most commonly users abuse heroin intravenously, but it can also be abused by means of smoking, or snorting. Heroin causes users to feel relieved of pain and sometimes gives them a feeling of intense pleasure. (Abuse).
Fentanyl is a Schedule II drug different from Heroin, Fentanyl is a drug approved by the US DEA for medical uses in pain relief as an anesthetic. When comparing Fentanyl to Heroin research shows Fentanyl to be at least fifty to one-hundred times stronger that its counterpart Heroin.
Like Heroin; Fentanyl is abused in the same manner and is used intravenously, snorted, or smoked, however different from Heroin; Fentanyl can be prescribed using pain patches designed to stick to the skin with medicated gel in the affected area. Fentanyl abusers remove the gel then inject or ingest it. (Abuse).
Exposure to and handling Fentanyl can prove to be a difficult task for not only the abuser but for Law Enforcement because it can be extremely lethal in doses as small as 0.25 milligrams. (Fentanyl)
Effects of Heroin.
Referred to as short term affects users will experience a rush and sometimes euphoric feeling, users may also have feelings of extreme heaviness in their extremities, followed by drowsiness. The euphoric feeling only last minutes. Users of heroin are at an
extremely high risk for overdose because of their effort to achieve the same euphoric feeling they first had from the drug, when trying to achieve this feeling users will up the amount of Heroin being ingested.
Effects of Fentanyl.
Fentanyl as mentioned previously has some mimicking similarities to heroin such as Euphoria or relaxed feelings, but also reduces the users pain senses. Some side of effects of the drug may include nausea, vomiting, constipation, altered heart rate, confusion, hallucinations, weakness, sweating, itchy skin, constricted pupils and sometimes seizures. (Abuse).
When combined Heroin and Fentanyl create a deadly cocktail which can quickly lead to overdose or death. Signs of overdose may include confusion, cardiac arrest, difficulty swallowing, increased fatigue, and sometimes respiratory arrest. (Abuse). It is estimated that nearly seven hundred Fentanyl related deaths occurred from 2013 to 2014. When combined Heroin-Fentanyl is thirty to fifty times more potent than Heroin alone.
Treating the Overdose.
Naloxone sometimes referred to as its brand name “Narcan” is used to almost immediately reverse or slow the side effects of a Heroin or Fentanyl overdose. Naloxone works when the medication blocks receptors that are sometimes called Opioid receptors. Naloxone can be
administered by injection, auto-injection or nasally by trained medical professionals or first responders.
Treating the Epidemic.
Treating users can prove to be difficult task, some rehabilitation facilities use a method called Medical Detox which is based on the type of drugs the user has consumed.
Medical Detox includes around the clock supervision to ensure the patient is safely detoxing and this process can last sometimes five to seven days.
In conclusion with more funding available for research these epidemics can be curable. If we are not able to secure tighter, stricter legislation concerning controlled substances it seems that we may be fighting a losing battle.
Making funding available to the areas severely torn by these epidemics would provide treatment centers and rehabilitation centers.
It seems this is more of a mental health crisis with a lack of funding and left alone becomes an even larger problem for law enforcement as well as correctional facilities. Law enforcement day in and day out are trying to combat the king pin making profit from the user as well as the doctors who have none or very limited oversight who seem to have a limitless prescription pad.
If these issues were to be corrected and funding redirected and redistributed I believe this is an epidemic that can be stopped or drastically slowed and the addicted may have a chance to be successful member of society once again.