Opioids include prescription medications used to treat acute and chronic pain such as morphine, codeine, methadone, oxycodone, hydrocodone, fentanyl, and hydromorphone as well as illicit drugs such as heroin. Opioids work by binding to specific receptors in the brain and spinal cord and diminish the body’s perception of pain. Opiods can also have a major impact altering mood including causing the euphoric effects or "high." Opiods can also dramatically slow or suppress breathing and result in low blood oxygen levels, which can lead to overdose and death.
Opioid overdose has caused an unprecedented level of mortality and just recently, for the first time in American history, is currently the leading cause of death of Americans under 50 years old and for the first time in US history, opioid overdose annually kills more people than motor vehicle accidents. Opioid overdose in America, 70,000 deaths in 2017, takes more lives than US soldiers that were lost in the deadliest year of the Vietnam War (16,899 in 1968) or at the height of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the United States (43,115 in 1995). Other significant facts to also keep in mind include the population in the United States is about 4% of the world's population yet American physicians prescribe 85-90% of the world’s opioids. Thus, it is no surprise that the present-day opioid epidemic is "Made in America". Norco or Vicodin (hydrocodone) is the number one medication prescribed in the United States, more than any medication used for hypertension, heart disease or diabetes.
Methamphetamine is an extremely powerful and highly addictive stimulant that quickly and relentlessly hijacks the brain and causes devastating health effects, and sometimes death, even on the first try. Crystal methamphetamine is a form of the drug that looks like glass fragments or shiny, bluish-white rocks. Other common names for methamphetamine include blue, crystal, ice, meth, and speed. It is chemically similar to amphetamine, a drug used to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy. Methamphetamine is much more potent and addictive than its pharmaceutical counterpart.
The abuse of methamphetamine is increasingly and becoming more of a serious problem all across America. According to data from the 2012 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), over 12 million people (4.7 percent of the population) have tried methamphetamine at least once. The number of fatal overdoses involving methamphetamine has more than quadrupled between 2011 and 2017.
In 2017, about 15 percent of all drug overdose deaths involved the methamphetamine category. Fifty percent of those deaths also involved an opioid. Dangerous synthetic opioids, such as fentanyl, are sometimes added to street methamphetamine without the user knowing, which increases the risk of overdose and death.
People throughout the world have been brewing and drinking alcoholic beverages since the dawn of civilization. Consumed in moderate amounts, which generally means up to one drink a day for women and up to two drinks a day for men, alcoholic beverages can be relaxing and in some cases may even have beneficial effects on heart health, although more recently, this data is being challenged. Consumed in excess, alcohol is poisonous and can kill you. The lifetime exposure to alcohol is very high with almost 90% of the US population reporting using alcohol at least once in their lifetime.
Problem drinking that becomes severe is given the medical diagnosis of "alcohol use disorder" or AUD. AUD is a chronic relapsing brain disorder characterized by an impaired ability to stop or control alcohol use despite significant adverse social, occupational, or health consequences.
An estimated 5.8 percent or 15 million adults in the United States ages 18 and older have AUD in 2018 including 9.5 million men and 5.5 million women. Adolescents can be diagnosed with AUD as well, and in 2018, and alarmingly an estimated 401,000 adolescents ages 12–17 had AUD. Less than 10% of all people with an AUD ever receive any form of treatment-in other words, over 90% do not receive any treatment.
Although addiction research scientists cannot pinpoint specific reasons why alcoholism develops, they have identified several contributing factors, including genetic predisposition, environmental and mental health. A given person's risk of becoming an alcoholic is three to four times greater if a parent is alcoholic.
Alcohol is well known to "lubricate the wheels" and is a major trigger for a drug relapse. These risks are real and potentially life threatening, so the Blue Willow team provides ongoing education, support and guidance that allows the client and the family to develop the necessary tools to effectively minimize these risks for relapse.