Opioid Addiction: A First Hand Look

Oftentimes it is hard for someone who is not an addict to understand the full severity of an addiction. It is hard for them to comprehend the way it makes someone feel, the grip it has on their life and the science behind why they continue to live the lifestyle they do. While you can’t experience it for yourself unless you decide to go that route, you can sometimes find someone who has overcome their addiction and is willing to give you a first-hand glimpse into what exactly the life of an addict is like.

British Columbia Addiction Treatment BC

Recently on CBC News, an article was shared about a former athlete who was once an opioid user. He describes how he became addicted in the first place, how it made him feel and more. In this blog post, we are going to recap that article so you can see for yourself just how bad an opioid addiction really is.

The Accident

Twelve years ago, there was a then 17 high-level competitive swimmer in Calgary by the name of Taylor Maxey. He trained at the pool nine times a week in hopes of becoming an Olympic swimmer. However, this vision of his future was drastically changed when Maxey was injured while goofing around in the backyard with his siblings. Maxey’s little brother kicked a soccer ball that hit Maxey in the neck, and it hit him so hard it chipped his C2 vertebra. This one accident is what would eventually send Maxey down a path of opioid dependency.

The Prescriptions

Following his injury, Maxey spent several months in a cervical collar and was prescribed numerous medications to combat neck pain and chronic headaches. These prescription medications included Oxycodone, sleeping and anxiety pills, hydromorphone, and fentanyl patches. Hopeful that he would one day return to swimming, Maxey followed his doctors’ orders.

“I just wasn’t functioning,” Maxey told CBC. “And their answer was just, more and more and more and more. Little did I know anything about withdrawal symptoms, what it can do to you long-term.”

As a curious high schooler though, Maxey discovered his drugs could also be used recreationally, and he began to do so. Getting a buzz or getting high was now fun for him.

His Life Was Saved

Thanks to an addictions doctor, Maxey was finally able to get clean and take control of his life again.

“You have no idea, how devilish it makes you feel, it literally makes you feel like you have a split personality,” he said in an interview with The Calgary Eyeopener, according to CBC. “You have this monster inside of you that’s just caged, and half the time the door is open, it’s running the show. It’s the worst thing. Your mind wants one thing, your body wants another.”


Source for this article: https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/calgary/calgary-opioid-crisis-recovery-taylor-maxey-1.4859973


September: National Recovery Month

The month is nearing end now, but let’s not forget to highlight that September is recognized as National Recovery Month in the United States. Every year, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) sponsors Recovery Month. It is designed to increase understanding and awareness of both mental and substance use disorders. Additionally, it is to celebrate those who have recovered from their addiction.

If you have successfully recovered from your addiction, congratulations! That is a major event in your life. If you are still on the fence about going to recovery, please reach out to us today. Recovery will change your life in ways you never imagined – mentally, physically, spiritually and emotionally.

So, in honor of National Recovery Month, let’s take a look at some added benefits of recovery:

You will save money.

Have you ever been to a point in your life where you really did not want/could not use any more money? Probably not. Most people would always gladly take the opportunity to make more money. And, by cutting your addiction you are basically giving yourself a raise.

Rather it was drugs or alcohol, if you were addicted to it, chances are you were investing in it quite a bit. By leaving this behind, you will likely notice a major difference in how much you are able to save.

Tip: Every time you would have normally purchased drugs or alcohol, set aside the amount you would have spent in a savings account or safe place. You will be pleasantly surprised how much you are able to save in a short time!

You will make new friends.

Yes, it will be hard to leave your old ones behind, and as you are cutting the addiction, you will find that you have to cut some friends, too. However, you will find yourself making new, and more importantly, healthy friends. As you welcome this new stage in life, try to get excited about the opportunity to meet new people.

You will look better.

Getting sober provides such a boost of confidence. Not only can you boast that you actually did it, but you will be physically and mentally healthier and that will show. You will notice a difference in the way you feel on the inside and look on the outside.

If you have a success story about your recovery, we would love to hear from you. Please feel free to share your success story, or the success story of a loved one with us in the comments.

Naloxone Kits in Kelowna

When it comes to addiction, one of the things we have to be realistic about is the possibility of overdosing. This is a very real concern especially with the overdose emergency of opioids going on today. In the Free Naloxone Kits community, there are Naloxone kits available to you and your family free of charge to prevent the loss of life. These are called Naloxone kits.

These kits are made to save lives and now in Kelowna are free to the public, if you or a loved one is dealing with opioid addiction this is something you will want to look in to. While it may seem scary or difficult to express a need for these kits, it is a necessity for many of us today.

Naloxone is a medication that when administered can reverse the effect of an overdose caused by: all opioids including morphine, fetanyl, heroin and methadone.) Naloxone works by pushing the opioids out of the opiates receptors in a person’s brain. While the medications will reverse the effects immediately, more treatment may be needed.

Currently this medication is available to individuals for free through specific sites. These sites are able to provide the kits to anyone who is at risk themselves for overdosing or are at risk of being around, seeing, experiencing someone overdose on opioids. This medication is used as an emergency treatment option, but does not negate the need for follow up treatment. There are agencies in Kelowna such as: The Crossing Point and Valiant Recovery. If you or a family member needs ongoing addiction treatment, these are great options for you to seek out.

If you are worried about yourself or a family member, you can visit this site to find out the closest site where you can obtain your free Naloxone kit – http://towardtheheart.com/site-locator There are currently 5 sites in the Kelowna area that offer Naloxone kits to the public. There is the Kelowna Health Unit, Outreach Urban Health, Kelowna’s Gospel Mission, Inn from the Cold and Alexandra Gardner Safe Centre.

Information for the 5 sites is as follows:

Kelowna Health Unit – 1340 Ellis St., Kelowna, V1Y 9N1

Outreach Urban Health – 455 Leon Ave, Kelowna, V1Y 6J4

Kelowna’s Gospel Mission – 251 Leon Ave, Kelowna V1Y 6J1

Inn from the Cold – 1829 Chandler St., Kelowna V1Y 3Z2

Alexandra Gardner Safe Centre – 2609 Richter St., Kelowna, V1Y 2R3

Please remember when using Naloxone, it can bring a person’s breathing back and reverse the effects of the overdose. However, the person may still need to get to a doctor or emergency room. Lastly it is important to understand that more than 1 dose of Naloxone may be needed to revive a person after an overdose.

Effective Substance Abuse Treatment Includes Family Involvement

family involvement, substance abuse treatmentMany substance abuse treatment programs forbid family involvement and other contacts with the outside world, but studies have shown that involving loved ones in the treatment process can make it more effective and help the entire family unit start to heal from the substance abuse. Before treatment, it is common for friends and family to enable the addict, or to try and protect them from the consequences of their alcohol or drug abuse. Sometimes loved ones do not address the substance abuse because they fear pushing the person away or alienating them even further, but ignoring or denying the problem is not helping the addict and neither is protecting them from facing consequences. It is usually beneficial for friends and family to receive counseling as well as the person with the substance abuse problem.

Family involvement can make substance abuse treatment more effective and improve the odds for a full and complete recovery. Sessions of family counseling can help clear the air in a safe environment and allow those close to the person with the addiction to voice and then let go of past anger and resentment over the drug or alcohol abuse. Just like an intervention this type of counseling will also allow the individual to see how their behavior and substance abuse has harmed the ones that they love. For a full recovery, healing must happen, and family involvement in substance abuse treatment can make this happen much faster and in an environment where relapse is not a problem.

The Link Between Alcoholism and Denial

alcoholism denial


Denial by both alcoholics, their friends, and family is one of the most powerful processes that keep the cycle of addiction going. It hides the damage and the importance the issue in ways that eliminate any chance of recovery. Facing facts with simple questions is a good way to confront denial and a key step on the road to recovery.

Unacknowledged Loss

Anyone who has a drinking problem has engaged in denial at least once or twice but most likely all the time. The distortion in thinking allows the individual to continue drinking and keeps them from facing the real facts and truth about what their alcohol abuse is doing to them.

It should be very clear to an alcoholic that everything they have suffered and lost is because of their drinking yet most alcoholics refuse to acknowledge this fact and they continue to deny that they even have a problem in the first place.

Denial is integral to alcohol addiction, and it can be a big obstacle for someone who is trying to recover from this type of substance abuse. In spite of the obvious adverse consequences, the individual refuses to see what the alcohol abuse is doing.

Denial As Protection

Denial is part of alcoholism because it can affect more than just the person with a drinking problem. Many families cover up for the alcoholic or believe that the problem is chronic pain, an old injury, or something other than the disease of alcohol abuse and addiction.

Very often the alcoholic is so much more ‘pleasant’ when happily drinking that friends and families learn to tolerate and even support the drinking just so life doesn’t get as obnoxious as it could get in the absence of alcohol.  That much is well known.  However, what is rarely if ever talked about is how badly this kind of dysfunction ends.

Usually the stronger the addiction to alcohol the stronger the denial will be as well. Often family members and friends of the drinker will cover for them or try to protect them from facing the consequences of their alcohol abuse and actions. It is important for the alcoholic to face the consequences so that they begin to realize how alcohol is destroying their life, and finally, ask for the help they desperately need.

Confronting Alcoholism And Denial

For family members who suspect a loved one has an addiction problem asking themselves simple questions based on what they know can be helpful.  For individuals who would like to assess themselves one good resource is the NIH website questionnaire.

If denial can’t be overcome by individuals themselves or their friends and family, and this is often the case, then an outside interventionist can and likely should be called.



Stimulant Medication Misuse Raises Risks for Conduct Problems, Substance Abuse, and ADHD

stimulant medication misuse for adhdInvestigators at Massachusetts General Hospital have determined that stimulant medication misuse increases the risk of conduct problems, substance abuse, and ADHD among college students when compared to peers who did not misuse stimulant medication. The investigators also discovered that the extended versions of this class of drug was misused less often than the immediate release versions. The investigative results of the study can be found in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry. According to the report corresponding author Timothy Wilens, M.D., “Our data suggest that college students who misuse prescription stimulant medication are more likely to exhibit clinically relevant psychiatric dysfunction. In addition to higher levels of ADHD, conduct disorder, and alcohol or drug use disorders, the majority of those misusing stimulants met or approached criteria for stimulant-use disorder.”

The fact that stimulant medications are typically used to treat ADHD is ironic because stimulant medication misuse can actually cause this disorder, as well as making the person more likely to engage in other forms of substance abuse and to develop conduct disorders. Dr. Wilens explained that “Someone may report on a survey that they misused stimulants on ‘a handful of occasions’ and have never been diagnosed with a substance-use disorder. While that misuser may deny having a stimulant-use disorder, when systematically queried, it may be found that he or she met or approached the criteria for a full disorder. Some misusers may be pressured to use a friend’s prescription if they believe it will improve academic performance, which is not likely if combined with alcohol or other drugs. We know that untreated ADHD is associated with increased risk of alcohol- and drug-use disorders, so it is not surprising that we found high rates of co-occurring ADHD and of stimulant-use and overall substance-use disorders in those misusing stimulants. It’s possible that pre-existing cognitive deficits may lead some individuals to develop stimulant misuse as they try to self-medicate.”

International Study Shows Mental Health Disorders Raise the Risk of Teen Substance Abuse

Teen Substance Abuse and Mental HealthAn international review study has examined the relationship between high school student substance abuse patterns and psychiatric symptoms. The study involved a collaboration between researchers from the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University and the Federal University of Sao Paulo. The researchers determined that the respondents who had clinically significant scores when taking a behavioral screening questionnaire were also more likely to have engaged in substance abuse in the month previously when compared to those who did not have symptoms. This is the first study of this kind, which highlights the link and association between substance abuse and psychiatric symptoms in teens from a county with a middle level of income but high social inequality levels. The respondents represented more than 4,000 high school students between 10th and 12th grade, and these students came from 128 schools in San Paula. Both public and private school students were represented in the survey.

The latest study on teen substance abuse and mental health disorders showed that the type of substance abuse that the teen engaged in varied according to the psychiatric symptoms experienced. Some of the symptoms were emotional, others involved problems with conduct, and peer relationships and hyperactivity were also examined. According to associate professor of epidemiology Silvia Martins, M.D., Ph.D., “Studies to determine which specific mental health symptoms are associated with substance use among adolescents in different settings are crucial. In developing countries such as Brazil where a wide gap of social inequalities is observed, this is particularly important. Mental health policies should focus on these populations, especially since providing early treatment for psychiatric symptoms may have a direct impact on mental health prevalence and its costs among adults.”

What You Need to Know About Remifentanil

Remifentanil is a synthetic opioid drugRemifentanil is one of the fentanyl analogs which has been approved for use in human patients, and this drug is marketed under the brand name Ultiva by Abbott and GlaxoSmithKline. This is a synthetic opioid drug which is short acting but very potent, and it is used during surgery for both anesthesia and pain management purposes. Sedation is another purpose that remifentanil may be used for, and when combined with other drugs it can be ideal for general anesthesia. Some anesthesiologists use remifentanil because it is strong enough to do the job but it has a fairly fast recovery time when compared to other opioid drugs that could be used instead. This opioid has a shorter half life than many alternatives so the patient becomes alert and aware in less time and the drug leaves the patient’s system quicker.

Just like other fentanyl analogs there have been cases of abuse reported with remifentanil. Because it is an opioid this drug can cause euphoria and the typical opioid high, however the extremely short half life means that this drug would be low on the preference list when compared to most other drugs in this class. Fentanyl is only half as potent as remifentanil, and the fentanyl analog has a potency that is between 100-200 times what morphine has. In fact remifentanil is so strong that there have been cases where the drug has successfully circumvented naltrexone for those who need adequate pain management. This potency is also what makes the drug such a dangerous one when it is bought and sold illicitly.

Opioid Abuse Risks May Increase After Common Surgical Procedures for Many Patients

Opioid abuse risk after surgeryOpioid abuse is on the rise across North America, and recent research shows that common surgical procedures include a standard practice of opioid prescribing. First time opioid exposure after one of these procedures could make some patients more vulnerable to opioid abuse in the future. The suggestion from researchers is that opioid use needs to be monitored more closely for a period of up to a year after many of these common surgical procedures. Early detection can increase the odds of a full recovery, but abuse of these drugs may not be detected right away. Monitoring could prevent the abuse from continuing and provide early treatment resources to patients who end up abusing opioid drugs.

According to the conclusions reached by the researchers who performed the study on common surgical procedures and opioid abuse “Our results have several clinical implications. First, while we found that surgical patients are at an increased risk for chronic opioid use, the overall risk for chronic opioid use remains low among these patients, at less than 0.5 percent for most of the procedures that we examined. Thus, our results should not be taken as advocating that patients forgo surgery out of concerns for chronic opioid use. Rather, our results suggest that primary care clinicians and surgeons should monitor opioid use closely in the postsurgical period.” Some of the common surgeries that were associated with a higher risk for opioid abuse included simple mastectomy, traditional gall bladder surgery, total knee replacements, and total hip replacements.