Coming Clean. Staying Clean. Living Well.Gulf Coast Healthy Living Magazine Volume 5, Issue 2 - Lakeview Center
How Addiction Happens
An online NPR interviewer recently shared the story of a 39-year-old construction worker who strained his back while lifting heavy cinder blocks. He went to the emergency room to be treated and after a thorough examination the doctor recommended a prescription for Percocet. The man refused. “That stuff messed me up,” he said. The man had taken prescription pain medication (opioids) for a similar injury in his 20s and became addicted. It took him 10 years to get clean.
Regardless of how judicious a doctor is with the prescription pad, pain medication abuse can affect people who have no history of addiction. Opioids have highly addictive properties, and when they become difficult to obtain, many people turn to illicit opiates, namely, heroin. Previously considered an inner city problem, the heroin epidemic is now forcing small town neighborhoods to confront the issue, and the Gulf Coast community is not immune to it.
“Often, pain management patients become reliant on opioids and begin to ‘doctor shop,’ obtaining several prescriptions from several unknowing doctors,” says Marvin C. Chaffin, II, M.S., LMHC, director of Lakeview Center’s Pensacola Methadone Clinic. “As those resources run out, they are turning to heroin, and we’ve seen an increase in heroin-related deaths right here in our community.”
Why so many deaths
The Florida Alcohol & Drug Abuse Association (FADAA) reports that Florida’s crackdown on the supply of diverted pharmaceuticals back in 2011 reduced availability. However, as this occurred, Mexican heroin production dramatically increased and spread to Florida, among other places. A critical factor in the escalation of heroin deaths is that the illicit drug is often laced or cut with a powerful opioid named fentanyl, which is 40 to 50 times more potent than pharmaceutical grade heroin. Produced in clandestine labs, fentanyl can be 100 times more powerful than morphine.
The Florida Medical Examiners Commission reported earlier this year a 111.4 percent increase in the number of deaths caused by heroin between 2013 and 2014. According to the FADAA, national studies are now showing a rapid growth of new heroin users occurring among young adults (age 18 to 24). However, the increase in both opioid and heroin use is occurring among all age groups, income levels and genders. Reports show that drug-induced deaths are now exceeding traffic fatalities in Florida.
"You can’t just walk away from addiction. That’s why it involves rebalancing the mind, body and spirit under the care of an experienced professional," said Chaffin.
A variety of MAT programs are available
depending on individual needs, finances and
lifestyles. The following are resources provided
locally by Lakeview Center: