Archive for May, 2013



At Novus Medical Detox Center, Suboxone and Subutex are used to assist people more comfortably and safely withdraw from other opioids and opiates. 

Here are some facts about Suboxone and Subutex and Suboxone Withdrawals:

  • Suboxone and Subutex are manufactured by Reckitt Benckiser Pharmaceuticals, Inc. 
  • Both were approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 2002 for the treatment of addiction and protocols have been established for Suboxone withdrawals. 
  • Before being allowed to dispense Suboxone and Subutex in medical detox facilities or for outpatient Suboxone maintenance, a doctor must pass a special test.
  • Suboxone and Subutex both contain buprenorphine—an opioid, called a partial agonist, that only partially stimulates the receptors stimulated by other opioids and opiates.
  • This means that Suboxone or Subutex will not produce the same “high” or feeling of pain relief as one of the other opioids that produce more endorphins by fully stimulating the receptors (full agonists) such as:
    • Heroin
    • OxyContin
    • Vicodin
    • Oxycodone
    • Hydrocodone
    • Percocet
    • Lortab
    • Lorcet
    • Norco
    • Methadone
    • Morphine
    • Fentanyl patch
  • Like OxyContin, oxycodone, Norco, Lortab, Lorcet, heroin, hydrocodone, methadone and other opiates and opioids when taken for pain, Suboxone actually increases the pain in many people.  This is a condition called opioid- induced hyperalgesia.
  • Subutex contains only buprenorphine—a partial agonist opioid.
  • Suboxone contains four parts buprenorphine.
  • Suboxone also contains one part naloxone, an antagonist.  An antagonist is a drug that blocks the activities of the opioids or opiates like the ones listed above and prevents one from feeling high or experiencing pain relief.
  • Suboxone pills are either:
    • Two milligrams buprenorphine and 0.5 milligrams of naloxone;
    • Eight milligrams of buprenorphine and two milligrams of naloxone.
  • Suboxone should only be taken by placing under the tongue (sublingually) and allowed to dissolve naturally.
  • If Suboxone is taken properly, the naloxone will not be absorbed in high amounts by the body so there will be no blocking of the opiate/opioid receptors.
  • If Suboxone is crushed or chewed or injected, the naloxone will be absorbed by the body and will block the opiate/opioid receptors, causing the user not to feel the same high or relief of withdrawal symptoms as if Suboxone was allowed to dissolve under the tongue.
  • Suboxone and Subutex should only be taken when you are in withdrawal from other opioids or opiates.  Taking it too soon will lead to painful Suboxone withdrawal symptoms.
  • This Suboxone withdrawal is caused not by taking Suboxone but by taking the Suboxone too soon.
  • The main side effect of taking Suboxone too soon causes the body to expel any other opiates/opioids that are stimulating the receptors and creating endorphins, and replace them with buprenorphine which will produce far fewer endorphins.
  • It is this drop in endorphin production, not the taking of Suboxone, that is mistaken for Suboxone or Subutex withdrawals.
  • Suboxone and Subutex, like OxyContin, oxycodone, Norco, Lortab, Lorcet, heroin, hydrocodone, methadone and other opiates and opioids, are highly addictive even if not as powerful at producing endorphins by stimulating receptors.
  • Suboxone and Subutex side effects include liver damage along with many other side effects and withdrawal symptoms associated with other opioid withdrawals.
  • Another risk of Suboxone and Subutex is that they can adversely affect the health of innocent babies if you continue taking them while pregnant.
  • Suboxone and Subutex were not scientifically tested for use for more than 16 weeks when they were approved by the FDA.
  • Like other opioids and opiates, the use of Suboxone and Subutex can lead to :
    • Dependence which means that you will experience painful withdrawal symptoms if you stop taking Suboxone or Subutex;
    • Addiction which means that you will not only experience painful Suboxone and Subutex withdrawal symptoms but also that you crave the “high” that you get from using Suboxone and Subutex.
  • Suboxone or Subutex addiction or Suboxone or Subutex dependence are serious matters. Understanding how opioids like Suboxone affect the body is important.

If you want information about Suboxone or Subutex detoxification, call Novus Medical Detox Center.

CALL NOW: 1.866.892.0248 Our counselors are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.


How Suboxone And Subutex Are Used At Novus Medical Detox Center To Help People Detox

Suboxone and Subutex are used to help our patients withdraw from:

    • Heroin
    • OxyContin
    • Vicodin
    • Oxycodone
    • Hydrocodone
    • Percocet
    • Lortab
    • Lorcet
    • Norco
    • Methadone
    • Morphine
    • Fentanyl patch

Our professional Staff will:

  • Ensure that a detox program is designed for you;
  • Ensure that you are only given Suboxone or Subutex at the proper time so as to avoid the painful Suboxone withdrawal if taken too early;
  • Ensure that you get vitamin IV’s that provide:     
    • Hydration
    • Needed nutrients
    • Vitamins and minerals.
  • Ensure that your detox is as safe and comfortable as possible.

From one of our patients:

“I realized that substances ran my life everyday. That’s what I lived for. Now I know that isn’t my purpose. I am meant for better things. I feel I can finally control my cravings and answers are not found in pills.”

Addicted to Suboxone and want help?

You are not alone.  More and more people are coming to Novus because they are unable to complete their Suboxone withdrawal or Subutex withdrawal.

We can help you finish the job and safely and more comfortably complete your Suboxone withdrawal or Subutex withdrawal.



If you or someone you care about is taking Suboxone or Subutex and needs help,

CALL Novus Medical Detox Center NOW: 1.866.892.0248

We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to help.  We can help you arrange a safer, more comfortable Suboxone detox or Subutex detox to help you on the way to permanently ending your opioid dependency or addiction.

OVERDOSE– A Very Dangerous Side Effect of Suboxone or Subutex Addiction

Overdose occurs when you take more of a drug than your body can handle.  Some of the symptoms of Suboxone or Subutex overdose are:

    • Lowered blood pressure and heart rate
    • Cold and clammy skin
    • Skeletal muscle flaccidity
    • Coma
    • Severe respiratory distress
    • Circulatory problems
    • Allergic reactions that affect breathing
    • Cardiac arrest

A Safe and More Comfortable Withdrawal Is The Best Option.

Guy calling Novus

If you want information about Suboxone or Subutex detoxification, call Novus Medical Detox Center.

CALL NOW: 1.866.892.0248 Our counselors are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

More words from a patient:  “Thank you for giving me not only my life back, my sanity, and my strength, but my soul as well….”


What Are the Dangers of Suboxone?
Photo Credit Jupiterimages/ Images

Suboxone is a combination drug product useful for helping people addicted to opioid drugs to stop using these substances. The medication includes buprenorphine, classified as a partial opioid agonist, and the antagonist drug naloxone, which counteracts opioid overdose symptoms. Buprenorphine has a limited opioid effect. While it prevents withdrawal, it causes only mild euphoria compared to the intense euphoria associated with drugs such as oxycodone, morphine and heroin. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved Suboxone tablets for long-term maintenance therapy, so opioid addicts can resume and maintain normal, productive lives. Nevertheless, some dangers are linked to Suboxone.


Suboxone can cause drowsiness, dizziness, impaired thinking and slow reaction times. It also may increase the impact of drugs with similar effects, according to These drugs include alcohol, anti-anxiety medications, antidepressants, antihistamines, sedatives, tranquilizers, certain pain relievers and muscle relaxants. This can make driving or operating machinery dangerous.

OVERDOSE, the official website for the drug product, recommends that doctors use an aggressive approach to dealing with opioid addiction when using Suboxone. The risk of severe negative effects, including overdose, is higher if the patient does not receive enough buprenorphine and continues to take other drugs. Suboxone overdose can be fatal, particularly if the patient injects this drug while also taking sedatives, tranquilizers or alcohol. Unconsciousness, severe respiratory depression and death can occur. Life-threatening overdose also can result from taking excessive amounts of Suboxone orally or combining oral Suboxone with alcohol, sedatives, tranquilizers, certain antidepressants and other opioid medications.


Some people receiving buprenorphine treatment for opioid addiction have developed hepatitis, an inflammation of the liver, according to Symptoms include jaundice, dark urine, light-colored bowel movements, lack of appetite, nausea and stomach pain.


Some people may experience an allergic reaction to either buprenorphine or naloxone. Signs as listed by include hives, difficulty breathing, asthma and facial swelling. An allergic reaction to Suboxone should be considered a medical emergency, because it can lead to anaphylactic shock, a life-threatening reaction involving a severe drop in blood pressure and loss of consciousness.


Buprenorphine and naloxone are both classified as FDA pregnancy category C, according to This means research has either not determined whether the medication is harmful to an unborn baby or that animal research indicates this possibility. Using Suboxone during pregnancy also could cause withdrawal symptoms in a newborn baby. Additionally, breastfeeding women should not take Suboxone, because it transfers into breast milk and may harm the nursing baby.

Read more:

  • Myth: Prescription drugs can’t be dangerous if a doctor prescribes them.
    • Think twice ADHD medications like Adderall can cause increased heart rate and blood pressure, psychosis, and seizures if they’re abused; pain medications like Vicodin can cause respiratory depression and arrest, and even death, particularly when combined with alcohol. Learn more.
Two male students looking at a laptop.

Student looking at computerfeel free

Prescription Opioid Abuse Can Lead to Heroin Abuse

You may have heard marijuana referred to as a “gateway drug,” meaning that it can open doors to other kinds of drug abuse. But did you know that prescription painkillers can be gateway drugs to heroin? Some show that people who are addicted to heroin often (opioids), like OxyContin or Vicodin. Not everyone who abuses a prescription opioid will move on to heroin—but why take the risk? It might begin innocently enough—you think that taking a family member’s prescription painkiller is safer than abusing an illicit drug like Ecstasy, and you start using your dad’s prescription to get high. But what if you can’t stop? Prescription painkillers act on the same brain areas as heroin, after all, and can be very addictive. Once the pills run out, what do you do? If you’re addicted, you may look for another source, and sometimes that means buying heroin, a dangerous move, considering the. NIDA’s of teen drug use and attitudes shows that high school students have long seen heroin as one of the most dangerous drugs out there. However, once a person is addicted to prescription painkillers and can’t get them anymore, heroin might not sound like such a bad deal. Both prescription opioids and heroin are extremely hard to stop once a person is addicted. A person trying to quit abusing opioids or heroin usually goes through severe withdrawal, which can cause restlessness, muscle and bone pain, insomnia, diarrhea, vomiting, cold flashes with goosebumps, and involuntary leg movements. Read more about the dangers of abusing . Curious what could happen if you abuse someone else’s prescription drugs? “Choose Your Path” with NIDA’s . The best part is, if you don’t like your outcome, you can go back and try another path!

Narcotics and prescription drugs account for about of all deaths caused by unintentional poisonings in North Carolina. “Unintentional poisoning” may make you think about small children accidentally taking medicines they find at home, but they make up the smallest fraction of the total—less than 1%! It’s much more likely to happen to a teen or an adult, mostly because of prescription and over-the-counter drug abuse. In March 2012, the North Carolina Attorney General announced the “. The contest encouraged teens to create brief PSA videos on teen prescription drug abuse. Check out the , selected from over 130 submissions from North Carolina teens in grades 9–12. You can also watch the 10 honorable mention videos on . Homero Plancarte’s video shows how prescription drug abuse can have unexpected effects. The video’s tagline is, “One life, One wrong decision, Prescription drugs kill.” Trevor Belk’s video describes how people usually associate drug abuse with meth labs and street alleys, even though more people in North Carolina die from prescription drug overdoses than any other group of drugs.Carson Banks’ video describes facts related to prescription drug abuse and the arrests and deaths that can result from it. The video is brought together with the tagline, “Life is not a video. There is no rewind.” Is your state, school, or community doing something to raise awareness about the dangers of prescription drug abuse? If so, what are they doing? To learn more about prescription drug abuse or how you can help spread the word, check out NIDA’s prescription drug abuse awareness campaign for teens, .

A recent episode of the hit TV show “Glee” focused on the problem of underage drinking. Called “Blame It on the Alcohol,” the episode depicted glee club members narrowly avoiding school suspension for drinking on school grounds—never a smart idea! Not only is it illegal to drink before age 21, but drinking too much can impair brain function and motor skills and lead to addiction. Mixing alcohol with illicit or other drugs—even legal ones—greatly increases the dangers: Combining alcohol with another like Xanax or like Vicodin can slow your heartbeat and breathing and may lead to death. Mixing alcohol with like Adderall or club drugs like Ecstasy can cause heart problems, too, as well as strokes and convulsions. that don’t need a prescription can mess you up if you abuse them or combine them with alcohol—once again, heart problems and trouble breathing. Play it safe and don’t mix alcohol with other drugs.

Most people are familiar with taking prescription medications like antibiotics when they get sick. Some people also are prescribed medication to help with a problem like depression or ADHD. Did you know that some (not all) drug actually can be treated with prescription medications, too? It may seem odd that someone addicted to a drug like heroin would start taking another drug so they can stop using heroin. But, shows that some people respond very well to what is called “medication-assisted treatment.” If a person is addicted to an opioid (like heroin or prescription pain relievers), medication can help him or her get back to a better state of mind—beyond just thinking about seeking and using the drug. It also can help ease and cravings, which can give a person who is addicted the chance to focus on changes needed to recover. Taking medication for opioid addiction is like taking medication to control heart disease or diabetes. It is the same as substituting one addictive drug for another. Used properly, the medication does create a new addiction. Medications to treat opioid addiction (like methadone and buprenorphine) affect the same brain areas as the drugs of abuse they are opposing (like heroin and OxyContin)—but in different ways. Anti-addiction medications “trick” the brain into thinking it is still getting the drug, which stops withdrawal. They help the person feel normal, not high, and reduce drug cravings. Alcohol dependence also may be treated with medication. Three oral medications and one that is injected have been shown to help patients reduce drinking, avoid relapse to heavy drinking, or stop drinking altogether. Of course, these medications aren’t available over the counter at your local pharmacy. They are dispensed at treatment centers or by primary care doctors approved to prescribe them. Medication isn’t the only treatment for opioid or alcohol dependence—adding counseling or therapy can help, and the support of family and friends is often crucial to a person’s success. See NIDA’s new treatment resource, . To learn more about medication-assisted treatment for opioid addiction, read the brochure,

feel free

Girls and Boys Have Different Reasons for Prescription Drug Use

Help Prevent Prescription Drug Abuse: Ask Mom and Dad To Clean Out the Medicine Cabinet


A Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advisory panel voted to impose stricter controls on prescriptions for drugs like Vicodin, which contain the opioid pain reliever hydrocodone.  The new rules would ban prescribing of more than a month’s supply of hydrocodone-containing drugs and prevent refills without a new doctor visit. Prescriptions would not be allowed to be phoned, faxed or emailed and physician’s assistants and nurse practitioners wouldn’t be permitted to prescribe the medications in the states in which they have limited prescribing powers.

Citing growing concern about prescription drug misuse and the potential for addiction to painkillers — overdoses lead to 15,000 deaths annually — the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has long pushed for the stringent rules, which would reclassify opioid pain relievers as Schedule II drugs, the most restricted category short of being prohibited. The FDA is likely to accept the panel’s decision, changing the rules for some 47 million patients who receive prescriptions for hydrocodone-containing products annually.

“I believe that this change will mark a turning point in the epidemic,” Dr. Andrew Kolodny, the founder of a group called Physicians for Responsible Opioid Prescribing (PROP), told NPR. “It will lead to less people becoming addicted, which is the most important thing that needs to happen to bring this crisis under control.”  PROP has petitioned the FDA to tighten the official labeling on opioids, which critics say would result in even more severe restrictions.  But Kolodny says that their intent has been “misinterpreted” and they do not want to see legitimate access reduced.*

However, according to numerous studies and government statistics the majority of those who become addicted to opioids don’t get hooked after receiving legitimate prescriptions from doctors for pain treatment. More than two-thirds of people who used opioids  recreationally in 2010-2011 obtained the medications from friends or relatives for free, mostly with their permission.  And, of people in treatment for chronic pain without a prior history of drug problems, a Cochrane review found that less than 1% became addicted to the medication, with 44% dropping out of treatment due to side effects from the drugs.

Similarly, most fatal overdoses do not seem to involve people taking their medications as prescribed for pain — one study in hard-hit West Virginia analyzed medical examiner records and drug treatment data and found that 95% of victims had signs of addiction, such as snorting or injecting drugs meant to be taken orally and combining these prescriptions with illegal drugs.  Only 44% had a prescription that was written for them.  Another study, in Utah, relied on family member reports and found that more than half of victims had misused the drugs.  Since most opioid overdose deaths actually involve mixtures of drugs— typically including alcohol, which patients are warned not to drink — misuse significantly increases the risk of dying from abusing the medications.

The new rules would likely make it harder for those who rely on opioids to treat chronic pain for conditions like multiple sclerosis, fibromyalgia, certain genetic disorders and some severe injuries (the kind of pain that often lasts decades) to get their prescriptions filled. Many doctors already decline to treat chronic pain with opioids, fearing prosecution if some of their patients turn out to be addicted to the painkillers and are faking pain, or end up overdosing.  Those who can get treatment are already subjected to random pill counts and urine tests to ensure they are taking their pills as directed and as needed.

Under the new rules, some patients may even lose access to treatment entirely because insurers may not cover the monthly doctor visits required for continued prescribing or because doctors may not want to deal with the added hassle. Many pharmacies also refuse to carry Schedule II drugs. Nursing homes already report problems with other opioid drugs in Schedule II, as patients are forced to wait for pain relief for an unavailable physician to update a prescription. And, with non-physicians in rural areas unable to prescribe, patients may be switched to weaker and less effective drugs in Schedule III.

But the restrictions likely won’t have a drastic change on the number of prescriptions for those with acute pain that ends shortly after procedures like routine surgeries and root canals. And some data suggests that these pills are a source of considerable misuse: because these conditions resolve quickly, many patients won’t finish an entire prescription but will keep the remaining pills “just in case,” making them potentially available to teens or others at risk for addiction.

MORE: Dentists, Too, Can Help Battle Painkiller Addiction

I was asked the other day “is full recovery from addiction possible?” and that is the question that consistently is asked, and needs to be consistently addressed, because those who struggle with addiction, eating disorders, self-harm, etc. truly need to hear an answer from those whom are in recovery from addiction or recovered. Anyone who follows me on Twitter, or reads my blogs, knows that I believe in full addiction recovery. I know it is possible not only because I am living proof, but because I see people daily who are also living proof.

Addiction Recovery Means Facing Our Fears

I believe the question is asked because people are scared, struggling, and feel lost and dismayed that their fighting is getting them nowhere. Perhaps a person is struggling more, facing a relapse, or deep within their tenth full relapse. I cannot repeat enough, nor loud enough, that I absolutely believe addictionrecovery is possible, and believe that hope in that is a key cornerstone to those fighting for recovery.there-is-always-hope-251688

“Strong hope is a much greater stimulant of life than any single realized joy could be.” – Friedrich Nietzsche

Life in general can be hard, we face struggles, and the point isn’t to avoid them, it is to find a way to help cope with them in a healthy way, in both mind and spirit. When in recovery from addiction, hope is a key perspective to embrace.

Recovery From Addiction Means Embracing a New Perspective

When I was in early recovery I struggled, tripped, fell over and over and thought recovery just wasn’t for me. I wasn’t willing to give up my old behaviors and was able to rationalize that they weren’t that bad, anything to avoid the fight for recovery. It took a long time to see that the perspective I was choosing wasn’t one of hope. Once I started to look around me with clearer (and sober) eyes, I started to see people surrounding me at all different levels of recovery, and saw myself piece by piece within their stories, their feelings, and hope built more and more.

I realized that having strong hope in recovery from addiction, was just as important as embracing a “one day at a time” perspective, seeking therapy, seeking a support system, having courage to change, and determination to never give up no matter how many times I fell. There are many ways to help you embrace an attitude of hope:

Take time to write down all that you have done in your day!

I think acknowledging the progress we are making is so important. Often we get stuck thinking we are making no progress in the recovery journey. If you keep a list, and look back over a few months you will see progress happens, just one day at a time and builds over time.

Relapse does not mean you are a failure, or aren’t still moving forward in your recovery.

I think a lot of people get tripped up over relapse, they lose hope, and worry they are back at square one, but this is not the case. You are constantly learning in recovery, and with each relapse you learn new triggers, and can apply new tools to help you stand back up and fight for recovery. We never start in square one; we just may have stopped moving forward. Keep pushing forward knowing that you have learned from the past, will continue to learn, and there is hope that with each new day you are moving farther in your recovery.

Hope isn’t static – it will grow over time.

Every day, you may learn to embrace a little more hope. Do not be so hard on yourself for not feeling like you have “enough” hope. Your recovery path is different from others, and the hope we are building will take time. After years of addiction, eating disorders, self-harm, etc. you may have lost any hope you ever had, and it will take time to build a reservoir of hope you can tap into on the hard days.

Manage your expectations in recovery.

I know that many people may be overachievers, perfectionists, and want to be recovered fast, and with little effort. You may feel frustrated when you see others doing so well, and you feel like you are fighting harder and harder and not getting anywhere. It is important to stop comparing to others, and lower your expectations in recovery. You will be progressing at your own speed, and having hope and accepting a mindset of being present in the moment will help you take one step at a time. This isn’t a race, and finding a support system to help you along the way, can help slowly build hope in the recovery process.

I believe embracing a mindset of hope is returning more and more to our authentic selves, working with and embracing who we really are.

Healing may not be so much about getting better, as about letting go of everything that isn’t you – all of the expectations, all of the beliefs – and becoming who you are.

Considering Reasons, Effects and Solutions

Molly, which is also known as ecstasy or club drug, is becoming an increasingly popular drug of choice among youth. It is easily found in suburbs and in college campuses and can have extremely dangerous effects on users. In this article, we will mainly talk about the growing dangers of Molly to make you aware of the disastrous effects that this drug can have both on your body and life.

What is Molly?

According to the DEA, both a psychedelic and a stimulant MDMA or Molly is an illegal drug that is consumed to produce feelings of rapture. Many consumers claim that they feel an overpowering sense of compassion and energy. While its real name is 3, 4 methylenedioxymethamphetamine, it is mostly taken in pill or capsule form and usually lasts from 3 to 6 hours.

Reasons Responsible for the Increased Usage of Molly

The drug MDMA is mostly consumed by club goers and entertainers, who are in search of euphoria. This is one reason responsible for steady increased usage of the drug among youth. However, although this club drug has been around for quite some time, it has shown a surge in popularity just recently. The major reason considered for the sudden rise in popularity of this drug is its recent mention in popular song lyrics. “She gone off that Molly,” rapped Kanye West on his newest single “Mercy”. Posters featuring “Have You Seen Molly?” littered music festivals all over. Even pop icon Madonna produced controversy at Miami’s Ultra festival this year, captivating the stage and announcing “Who here has seen Molly?” All this has given rise to a dangerous trend in youth and teen use of this drug. It has been reported that a large number of people visited hospitals in the present year to get treated for the side-effects of Molly.

According to a report presented by Drug Enforcement Administration, a large drug trafficking ring consisting of a group of 20 men and women within age 27 to 52 were arrested for distributing more than 100 kg of Molly in New York, Florida, California, Texas, Virginia and other states. Also, the Drug Abuse Warning Network has found out that from 2004 to 2009, there was a 123% increase in the number of emergency room visits involving MDMA taken alone or in combination with pharmaceuticals, alcohol or both.

Catastrophic Effects of Molly on the Abuser

The club drug is seen to have really dangerous and sometimes fatal consequences on the abuser. While it is known to cause distortions of time and memory loss, it is also a major cause for strong muscle tension and aggression, and can also lead to high blood pressure and heart rate, dizziness and reduced vision. MDMA can also result to severe anxiety and depression that can last for over a week even by using just one pill. Moreover, these pills taken in combination with any other drug have the possibility of causing long-term sickness and even death.

Molly is considered to be extremely dangerous as it affects the working of our brain severely. The longer you consume this drug, more severe side-effects you are likely to encounter. Dehydration, anxieties, vomiting and heart palpitations are some of its common side-effects. However, overdose of the drug can also lead to faintness, seizures and loss of consciousness.

The Solution

If used in excess, Molly does not only harm you mentally and physically, but also lead to harsh financial consequences for you and your family. Therefore, if you or your loved one is going through this fatal addiction or any other addiction, seek help and reach out to a treatment center immediately.

A New Day Rehab in south Florida offer family programs for loved ones affected by one’s drug abuse. Addiction experts are on hand to and educate families and the addict on recovery and the dangers of drug abuse. Getting help from a drug treatment center gives addict hope and chance for an addiction-free life.

Though drug abuse and drug addiction have only been recognized by the International Classification of Diseases (ICD) as diseases in the last century, humans have always had a propensity to eat more, drink more, and consume substances that make them feel good. And because addiction to all sorts of substances has been passed down from generation to generation, genetic factors do influence whether a person ends up with a drug addiction. This makes dealing with addiction even more complex — though it helps to understand the role that genetics play in addiction.

Consider these facts:

  • Addiction is an evolutionary advantage, similar to storing fat in the body or having natural coordination skills. Just as some people are better at sports than others, and some people are better at storing fat than others, some people are more susceptible to addiction than others.
  • In a study of 231 people who were diagnosed with drug addiction and 61 people who were not, researchers found that a child of a drug addict is 8 times more likely to develop a drug abuse problem than a child of non-addicts.
  • In a study of 861 identical twin sets and 653 fraternal twin sets, researchers found that one addicted identical twin often meant the other was very likely to be addicted, while an addicted fraternal twin did not change the likelihood of the other’s addiction. This suggests that human genes play a large role in addiction.
  • In a study of more than 18,000 adopted children in Sweden, researchers found that adopted children with biological parents who are drug addicts are twice as likely to abuse drugs, while adopted children with adoptive parents who are drug addicts have only a slight increase in their likelihood of abusing drugs.
  • In a cocaine study, researchers found that a large proportion of siblings had alcohol-related problems if the participant suffered from alcoholism.

These are just a few findings that have helped physicians determine that roughly 50-60% of the risk of addiction is due to genetic factors. Still, family history is not the whole story. The other 50% of addiction risk is due to poor coping factors . This is good news for people with a family history of drug abuse: It suggests that they can escape their genetic predisposition to addiction by working on their ability to cope with drugs.

What to do if your family has a history of drug abuse:

  • Remember that drug abuse is a disease. Diseases are generally caused partly by genetics and partly by lifestyle, and addiction is no different. Having relatives with drug abuse problems is akin to having relatives with diabetes or heart disease in the family. The risk, while heritable, is surmountable.
  • Develop good habits regarding drug use. It’s a given that one should avoid harmful illegal substances, but also try to avoid (or severely limit) addictive legal substances such as cigarettes, cigars, alcohol, painkillers, and tranquilizers. Cross-addictions — in which someone addicted to one drug is also addicted to another — are common, so avoid or limit any drug that can be addictive, irrespective of a specific family history with that substance.
  • Create a strong family support system. Among African Americans and Hispanics, a support system consisting of family members has been shown to help protect youth against alcohol and drug use. Studies have also shown that parents who provide a safe environment with open communication help reduce the risk of addiction in their children. These support mechanisms are critical in preventing a predisposition from becoming an addiction.




While the use of many street drugs is on a slight decline in the US, abuse of prescription drugs is growing. In 2007, 2.5 million Americans abused prescription drugs for the first time, compared to 2.1 million who used marijuana for the first time.

Among teens, prescription drugs are the most commonly used drugs next to marijuana, and almost half of the teens abusing prescription drugs are taking painkillers.

Why are so many young people turning to prescription drugs to get high?

By survey, almost 50% of teens believe that taking prescription drugs is much safer than using illegal street drugs.

What is not known by most of these young people is the risk they are taking by consuming these highly potent and mind-altering drugs. Long-term use of painkillers can lead to dependence, even for people who are prescribed them to relieve a medical condition but eventually fall into the trap of abuse and addiction.

In some cases, the dangers of painkillers don’t surface until it is too late. In 2007, for example, abuse of the painkiller Fentanyl killed more than 1,000 people. The drug was found to be thirty to fifty times more powerful than heroin.




Prescription painkillers are powerful drugs that interfere with the nervous system’s transmission of the nerve signals we perceive as pain. Most painkillers also stimulate portions of the brain associated with pleasure. Thus, in addition to blocking pain, they produce a “high.”

The most powerful prescription painkillers are called opioids, which are opium-like1compounds. They are manufactured to react on the nervous system in the same way as drugs derived from the opium poppy, like heroin. The most commonly abused opioid painkillers include oxycodone, hydrocodone, meperidine, hydromorphone and propoxyphene.

Oxycodone has the greatest potential for abuse and the greatest dangers. It is as powerful as heroin and affects the nervous system the same way. Oxycodone is sold under many trade names, such as Percodan, Endodan, Roxiprin, Percocet, Endocet, Roxicet and OxyContin. It comes in tablet form.

Hydrocodone is used in combination with other chemicals and is available in prescription pain medications as tablets, capsules and syrups. Trade names include Anexsia, Dicodid, Hycodan, Hycomine, Lorcet, Lortab, Norco, Tussionex and Vicodin. Sales and production of this drug have increased significantly in recent years, as has its illicit use.

Meperidine (brand name Demerol) and hydromorphone (Dilaudid) come in tablets and propoxyphene (Darvon) in capsules, but all three have been known to be crushed and injected, snorted or smoked. Darvon, banned in the UK since 2005, is among the top ten drugs reported in drug abuse deaths in the US. Dilaudid, considered eight times more potent than morphine, is often called “drug store heroin” on the streets.



SARASOTA, Fla.—Hospitals around the country are confronting an unsettling consequence of the prescription-pain-pill epidemic: a surge in the number of babies born dependent on drugs such as oxycodone.

One recent morning a 12-day-old girl lay writhing in the neonatal intensive-care unit at Sarasota Memorial Hospital. Erin Weatherwax, a nurse, tried to console the newborn by holding her against her chest and patting the baby’s back. She placed the girl in a motorized swing that made cricket sounds. But the infant continued to squirm, unable to sleep more than a few minutes at a time.

The baby suffered withdrawal from methadone, a drug used to treat painkiller addiction that her mother took during pregnancy. The hospital sated the baby’s physical cravings by giving her morphine as well as phenobarbital, a barbiturate used to treat seizures. Now she had to be weaned off those drugs.

Born Dependent on Opioids

Jason Henry for The Wall Street Journal

Eight hours after Gabriel was born, he exhibited a variety of withdrawal symptoms, including stiffened muscles and excessive sucking.

“It’s heartbreaking,” Ms. Weatherwax said.

Between 2000 and 2009, the number of newborns showing symptoms of withdrawal from drugs called opioids—including painkillers like oxycodone and antiaddiction drugs such as methadone—tripled in the U.S., according to a study published earlier this year in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

In 2009, more than 13,000 babies in the U.S. were diagnosed with the condition, formally known as neonatal abstinence syndrome, the study said.

The newborns—reminiscent of the “crack babies” of the 1980s and 1990s born to women addicted to cocaine—present a host of challenges to hospitals. There is no standard way to treat their withdrawal, so doctors and nurses are improvising to figure out the most effective combination of drugs and dosages.

The babies require constant attention, and their stays in a neonatal intensive care unit, or NICU, can stretch for weeks, tying up hospital resources. Their treatment is costly—a mean of $53,400—according to the JAMA study, and Medicaid covers the tab for 78% of the babies. Hospital charges to care for such infants jumped to an estimated $720 million in 2009 from $190 million in 2000, the study said.


Hospitals in states such as Kentucky and West Virginia have reported a sharp rise in the number of opioid-dependent babies. In Florida, long the nation’s epicenter of illegal prescription-drug sales, the problem is acute, especially in a cluster of counties near Tampa Bay, including Sarasota. Hospitals such as Spring Hill Regional Hospital, north of Tampa, said that as many as 30% of the babies in their NICUs suffer from opioid withdrawal.

Hospitals were ill-prepared for the drug-dependent infants. “This isn’t a problem I learned about in training,” said Terri Ashmeade, medical director of the NICU and chief of pediatrics at Tampa General Hospital. Her unit, like others, relied at first on protocols for heroin withdrawal in babies, mainly using phenobarbital, she said. But the staff quickly found that withdrawal symptoms for today’s painkillers, which are powerful and long-acting, were much more severe.

The newborns cry incessantly, jerk their limbs and vomit. They can have such severe diarrhea that it burns the skin off their bottoms. Though treating them with the very opioids they are withdrawing from may seem jarring, doctors say the alternative could be worse: seizures and even death.

After years of trying different treatments, Tampa General settled on a uniform approach three months ago. Like many hospitals, it relies on a system that assigns points for different symptoms, and it initiates drug treatment if the numbers cross a certain threshold. (There is no blood test or other diagnostic to determine whether a baby is drug-dependent.)

Eight hours after he was born, Gabriel, a baby undergoing treatment recently at Tampa General’s NICU, exhibited a variety of symptoms, including stiffened muscles and excessive sucking. So the hospital gave him methadone and, when the symptoms persisted, increased the doses until he reached the maximum. Two days later, he was still scoring high, so the hospital gave him clonidine, a drug used to treat withdrawal in adults.

At eight days, Gabriel was still taking the maximum dosage of methadone and close to the maximum of clonidine. He appeared mostly calm, but startled and trembled at times. It would likely take weeks more to wean him off the drugs, nurses said.

Sixty miles to the south, Sarasota Memorial is following a different protocol. While using the same scoring system, it starts babies on morphine, and if necessary, adds phenobarbital.

Hospitals have no choice but to experiment, given the paucity of research on what treatments are most effective. The American Academy of Pediatrics in February published new guidelines for neonatal abstinence syndrome—its first update since 1998. Though the paper cited a range of potential treatments, it didn’t recommend one particular protocol.

To try to come up with a standard regimen, a collaborative of Florida hospitals, including Sarasota Memorial, plans to compare various approaches. Each NICU will rely on morphine and clonidine, but at different dosages, increased and decreased at different rates, said Mark Hudak, a neonatologist at Wolfson Children’s Hospital in Jacksonville, which is part of the group. The group hopes to assemble its findings some time next year.

One objective is to cut down the amount of time babies are spending in intensive care and assess whether they are being overmedicated, Mr. Hudak said.

Hospitals are grappling with another concern: They worry they aren’t catching all the affected babies. Not every mother is forthcoming about using prescription painkillers, which leaves it up to medical staff to look out for symptoms. Most newborns are discharged within 48 to 72 hours, yet babies exposed to long-acting opioids like methadone can take five or more days to show signs of withdrawal.

“Some are going home and withdrawing,” said Tony Napolitano, medical director at Sarasota Memorial. And a mother with dependency issues may not be equipped to handle a highly irritable and sensitive newborn, he said.

Organizations like the Healthy Start Coalition of Hillsborough County, a nonprofit, are urging obstetricians to broach the subject of opioid use with their patients. Many don’t, often because they are unaware how widespread the problem is, said Executive Director Jane Murphy.

Because the phenomenon of opioid-exposed babies is so new, little is known about any long-term effects. Some studies suggest they are at greater risk of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, but the findings aren’t conclusive.

Fears that the “crack babies” of decades past would develop severe physical, mental and emotional disabilities proved to be unfounded, research showed. But prescription-drug exposure “seems to be affecting babies’ physiologies more than cocaine,” said Ms. Ashmeade, the Tampa General neonatologist.

Step One:


When I first entered the room I thought I was humble enough to admit defeat. This first step, I thought, was to be the easiest. 

 I’d woken up early that morning, around 9 or 10, to go have coffee with a friend. It had been roughly four days since my last fix. The hebejeebies had just start to creep in. I was nausous and shaky, to name only the physical symptoms. Those, however, were nothing compared to the mental anguish I was experiencing. 

I don’t really recall making a decision to stop using. I didn’t sit down the previous Sunday and say to myself, “Okay, get your crap together.”. Nor did I do that the next day. To this day I don’t know what caused me to pick up that phone and ask for help that Thursday. Some might say it was God. Some might say it was  the friend I was having coffee with and will ultimately start a relationship with. Some might say I’d just had enough. Whatever the case may be a decision was made to start a new life. 

Thursday was the day I had been dreading. This would be the first full day off of work I would have since my last use. A whole day without a single plan. Just a junkie alone with his thoughts. A very toxic enviroment indeed. 

At the time I was living in an efficiency apartment in downtown Port St. Joe. I was literally across the street from the Drug’s. To call it an apartment would be a stretching the truth, it was essentially a bedroom that I had crammed into it what little I had to show for my 30 years of exsitence. Various knick-knacks. A vast collection of books that I’d had only the first 20 pages read out of each. Perpetually closed blinds with a thick coating of dust. Sheets marred with cigarettes burns, each one showing a time I got so high I passed out with a lit cigarette in hand. A mini fridge stuffed with every condiment imaginable, along with food I’d bought on a whim and would eventually go bad before I could muster up the energy to cook it. An ashtray on top of my nightstand filled to the brim with cigarettes. A draw in the nightstand filled with past due bills from collection agencies, a small plate with a straw and an old debit card that I used to chop up & snort my adderal. An empty pill bottle that I carried my methadone/ Hydro’s around in. Everything in that room represented unmanageability.

Was my life unmanageable?

Was I powerless? Not quite.

After coffee, I was off to my room to unwittingly make a life altering decision. 

I had decided the day prior I wanted to talk to someone about quitting. I wasn’t sure I actually wanted to quit, just that I wanted to talk to someone about quitting. At first I wasn’t sure were to turn. So the first call I made was to Life Management to make an appointment with a mental health professional  At the time I just wanted different pills to help me stop taking those other pills. After setting the appointment I thought I could just relax and take the day easy. Not the case. 

It’s still tough for me to describe in detail what obsessing about pill’s is like without inadvertently obsessing about dope. I still find it difficult to get too in detail about my story thus far without a faint desire to use but after getting off the phone with the secretary at Life Management I slipped deep into an obsession. I starred blankly at the television at it flickered, chain smoking and steadily thinking about Pain pill’s. I fought such a battle within my neurosis I became sick to my stomach. I was certain I was going to have a panic attack. I became so over wrought with emotion it literally scared me. 

“Just take a few to calm your nerves, you don’t have to get high!” is what it would tell me. Just enough to get me by is all it needs. Just enough to keep it alive and well. 

All my connections were still in my phone. My contact list had become a whos who of  opiate’s dealers and Pill head’s. I wanted to talk to someone, but who?? I needed someone that I could scream HELP ME to at the top of my  lungs!! I picked up the yellow pages and under addiction treatment there it is, the number for your local Rehab.

I called and was immediatly put in contact with someone. I won’t give his name, since that whole Anonymous issue, but he played a crucial role in my survival that day by simply being there. By staying on the phone and listen to me anxiously ramble as I literally walked in circles around my room he stopped me from picking up another one. My life changed after that phone call. I came to the crossroads and picked the rockier road. I went to a meeting that night and continued going for some time before I had become disillusioned but make no mistake about it, Rehab & god helped save my life. It gave me a purpose and a direction when I was useless and lost and I for that I am forever grateful.