Tag Archives: Arizona Drug Abuse

Gabapentin High

According to GoodRX, gabapentin is the fourth most prescribed drug in the United States. Due to its prevalence and popularity, it has slowly made its way into the realm of drug abuse and addiction.

What is Gabapentin?

Gabapentin is a prescription drug used to prevent seizures. An anticonvulsant or antiepileptic drug, it is commonly administered orally via capsule. Along with its seizure preventative properties, it can also help dull nerve pain caused from shingles. Different brand names of gabapentin can have different primary uses. For example, the brand Gralise treats shingles pain, whereas Neurontin primarily targets adult seizure activity. Both medications contain gabapentin; however, they also contain a mixture of other drugs to treat the specific ailment.

Gabapentin for Anxiety

Gabapentin has been proven to be effective against anxiety disorders while being potentially a safer alternative to traditional benzodiazepines such as Xanax. It is considered to be a low risk drug that likely will not cause addiction or promote abuse and the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) does not consider it to be a controlled substance. 

Gabapentin Warnings

Gabapentin comes with a long list of medical warnings intended to promote cautious and informed use amongst users. One of these warnings is to not suddenly stop taking the drug. The immediate cessation of gabapentin use, when prescribed for epilepsy and seizures, can cause a condition which is known as status epilepticus. Status epilepticus, a seizure lasting longer than 30 minutes, has a high mortality rate.

Other warnings include avoiding the combined use of the drug with other substances, drowsiness warnings and a depression warning. 

Is Gabapentin Addictive?

Most people don’t consider gabapentin to be an addictive drug. However, most anything can cause an addiction or dependency if abused for a long enough period of time. Many individuals who are currently using stronger opioids may also take it. Furthermore, individuals who are attempting to taper off an opioid addiction may turn to it as an alternative as it does not show up in drug tests.

Gabapentin Abuse

Gabapentin can cause a euphoric high if taken in high enough doses and some users have likened its experience to marijuana. Typically, users will have to take more than 800mg in order to feel the euphoric effects. People who abuse it are also more likely to combine the drug with other substances. With polysubstance abuse, the risk of experiencing an overdose is much greater as your body experiences different effects from multiple drugs which can overwhelm the system. Most of the time, people abuse gabapentin along with opioids or alcohol. 

Gabapentin High

Overdose

Gabapentin overdoses are rare but still well documented. While it is very much possible to overdose, the mortality rate from this is relatively low. In other words, a significantly low number of overdoses are fatal. However, an overdose can still cause permanent damage to your body as it can prevent adequate oxygen from reaching your brain. Unfortunately, unlike opioid overdoses, gabapentin does not have a quick remedy in the case of an overdose. It is possible to inject most patients with Narcan to end a narcotic overdose. There is no such cure for gabapentin.  Therefore, it is important that suspected overdose patients call emergency services immediately. Some signs of an overdose include:

  • Dizziness
  • Double vision
  • Slurred speech
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Low blood pressure
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Labored breathing
  • Unresponsiveness

Gabapentin Interactions

Gabapentin can interact with other medications such as morphine and stomach acid drugs (aluminum hydroxide and magnesium hydroxide). Further, according to drugs.com, there are a total of 219 drugs known to interact with this medication, 24 of which are major interactions such as methadone, oxycodone, percocet, suboxone, tramadol and alcohol.

Gabapentin High

Gabapentin and Alcohol

Gabapentin can increase the effects of alcohol on the body and can seriously affect cognitive ability. It may cause you to experience enhanced side effects such as dizziness, drowsiness and difficulty concentrating. Further, the decrease in cognitive ability can cause poor decision making, such as making the decision to drink and drive. 

Side Effects

Gabapentin can cause moderate to severe side effects when taken orally as prescribed. Some of the more serious side effects include:

  • Changes in mood and behavior
  • Depression (presence of suicidal thoughts)
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Increase in aggressiveness 
  • Allergic reactions
  • Muscle pain
  • Swollen skin
  • Rashes
  • Panic attacks

If you experience any of the above symptoms, it may help to call your medical provider and ask for further guidance.

Withdrawal

Gabapentin is known to cause withdrawal symptoms in long-term users. According to one study, those who frequently take between 400mg to 800mg may be at higher risk of experiencing withdrawals. Gabapentin withdrawals will likely cause similar symptoms experienced by alcohol and benzodiazepine users, as all three drugs target the same GABA receptors in the brain. Withdrawal symptoms typically begin immediately after quitting and can continue for up to a week. Withdrawal severity is dependent on a variety of factors ranging from age to the regular dosage taken by the patient. 

However, quitting is not impossible. Experts recommend that tapering be done in increments of no more than 300mg every 4 days. While a taper may be a safe way to slowly come off a gabapentin dependency, it does not address possible mental health issues which may have created a co-occuring disorder in the patient. Therefore, we always recommend that individuals seek professional help before beginning their journey to recovery.

Gabapentin High

Treatment

Gabapentin addiction may go hand in hand with other drugs, such as opioids or alcohol. It may also result from a co-occurring mental disorder. Whatever the reason, treatment and recovery is possible. If you or a loved one is dealing with addiction, please contact us today so that we may begin the journey to life-time sobriety, together. To find out more about drug abuse and treatment, read our blog.

Addiction and Suicide Rates Soaring in Arizona Cities

Drug addiction and mental health problems go hand in hand like the circle of love and marriage. We use drugs to numb pain, physical or emotional, real or imagined, and because we have mental health problems. And we sometimes have mental health problems because we use too many drugs.

Arizona has had a growing problem of both drug addiction and mental health crises. Phoenix and her suburbs have been particularly hard hit, especially Gilbert, AZ, which has been the center of opioid and heroin addiction in the state for more than 10 years.

Arizona’s Growing Mental Health Crisis 

Depression is a serious mental health problem. It can be fatal.

In 2015, suicide took more than 44,000 lives in America, making self-murder a significant health issue that affects people of all ages, races and ethnicities. In Arizona, suicide is such a severe issue it is ranked as the eighth-leading cause of death, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data.

According to statistics taken from CDC and Arizona Department of Health Services reports, the numbers around this deadly condition in Arizona are shocking:

  • Arizona had 10 child suicides (ages 14 and under) in 2015.
  • Arizona had 60 teen suicides (ages 15 to 19) in 2015.
  • The state had 1,276 suicides overall in 2015.
  • Suicide is the leading cause of death for those aged 10 to 14.
  • Taking one’s own life is the second-leading cause of death for Arizonans aged 15 to 34.
  • There are 2.5 times more deaths from suicide annually than homicide.
  • For each successful suicide attempt, there are 25 failed attempts — with many leading to hospitalization.
  • More women than men have suicidal thoughts and attempts.
  • More men than women are likely to die by suicide.

Arizona Suicide Rates Have Tripled

From 2001 to 2011, the suicide rates in Arizona have soared.

Of note is the suburb of Gilbert, near Phoenix. According to the Health Status Report for Cities and Towns in Maricopa County, the suicide rate increased threefold during the decade. In 2011, there were 31 suicides; in 2000, there were only 7, according to the Maricopa County Department of Public Health. The ratios per capita have increased as well.

The Gilbert Police Department has said it receives an average of four suicide threats or attempts each week, and one suicide completion per week. Mercy Gilbert Medical Center reports the number of mental health consultations rising over the past several years, some of which are related to suicide attempts.

Youth Suicides in Arizona

Last summer, a cluster of teen suicides rocked the community of Gilbert. Six teenagers hanged themselves, and a seventh fell victim to suicide by shooting oneself. Tragically, these young people, unknown to each other, lived less than 12 miles apart from each other. All committed suicide within a six-week period.

Subsequently, Gilbert Public Schools underwent Suicide Alertness Training to help educators recognize students who need help and to connect them with the appropriate resources.

Teen suicide prevention includes:

  • Improved communication between parents and teens.
  • Keeping a close watch on teens’ cellphones.
  • When depression is present, asking outright whether the student plans to kill himself/herself.
  • Monitoring social media.
  • Removing guns, belts and other potential means of self-destruction from the home.
  • Watching for drug or alcohol use.
  • Watching for teens talking about dying or death.
  • Being wary of teens becoming impulsive or taking unnecessary risks.

However, it’s not just the youth in Gilbert that are dying from suicide; it affects people of all ages. Friends and family may think their loved one is just depressed, but depression can become such a severe mental health crisis that suicide seems like a rational solution at the time.

Suicide Risk Factors

People at risk for suicidal behavior fall into all age groups. Some common risk factors are:

  • Having a mental health disorder
  • Having a substance use disorder
  • Stressful life events
  • Prolonged stress factors
  • Previous suicide attempts
  • Family history of suicide

According to America’s Health Ranking for Arizona in 2016, families concerned about a loved one should restrict access to firearms, lethal doses of medications and alcohol in the home.

Lack of Access to Mental Health Treatment in Arizona

It doesn’t help matters that Arizona is the second-worst state at addressing mental health issues. According to studies, adults and youth with a diagnosed condition, serious thoughts of suicide, and substance abuse problems have serious unmet needs in Arizona.

Lack of access to effective mental health treatment means:

  • Arizonans have unmet mental health needs.
  • Some Arizona residents don’t receive mental health treatment at all.
  • Residents are often unable to see doctors because of the cost.
  • Not enough primary care physicians are screening for mental illness.
  • Insufficient mental health professionals to meet the need in Arizona.
  • There are long wait times to get treatment.
  • A significant need for community services.
  • Insurance has holes in coverage concerning mental health services.

Heroin and Prescription Drug Addiction Arizona on the Rise 

Last year, President Trump declared that America was in the throes of a national public health emergency because of what opioids are doing to our citizens. Arizona is no exception. An American crisis, an Arizonan crisis, opioids and heroin have taken over our streets.

Derived from the age-old poppy plant, opioids are synthetic and organic drugs made from opium. One of the strongest and most addictive of these drugs is heroin, commonly snorted or liquefied and then injected. People caught up in the Gilbert, AZ heroin epidemic just call it dope.

Prescription drug addiction in Arizona is often a result of opioid use. Examples of commonly prescribed opioids are:

  • Percocet
  • Oxycodone/OxyContin
  • Methadone
  • Hydrocodone/Norco
  • Vicodin
  • Fentanyl

In the current opioid epidemic, these medications are easily ill gotten. Whether it be from a relative’s medicine cabinet or through illicit means, prescription drug addiction is rampant across the country and in Arizona.

Opioid Deaths Skyrocketing

New reports are showing a surge in opioid overdose deaths in Arizona. In fact, 2016 marked the highest number of deaths in 10 years. Heroin and prescription opioid painkillers are to blame.

People are starting out by taking painkillers for a legitimate reason, then getting hooked and moving on to something stronger. Accidentally taking too much opioid medication causes cessation of breathing and death.

According to the Arizona Department of Health Services in 2016, the following statistics alarmed state officials:

  • Heroin deaths have tripled since 2012.
  • Every day, two Arizonans die from an opioid overdose.
  • The heroin death rate is rising faster than that of prescription opioids.
  • Hospitals saw more than 51,000 opioid-related encounters.

Because prescription opioid deaths are soaring and the government is cracking down on doctors who prescribe too much Vicodin, Percocet and OxyContin, it’s no surprise people are turning to heroin for relief.

Drug Rehab near Gilbert, AZ

Because of the growing problem of heroin arrests, drug addiction and mental health crises in the Phoenix area, many are seeking out drug rehabs all over Arizona.

The city of Gilbert has seen heroin, a cheaper and more accessible alternative to prescription painkillers, cause an increase in narcotic-related arrests by 300 percent in the past 10 years. Regardless of the changing prescribing guidelines set forth by the government, when people are addicted, they find a way to get the drug they crave.

Treatment centers in Arizona are helping people who are addicted to heroin. The first seven to 10 days going without heroin is excruciating without medical help. Thus, professional drug rehab facilities wean people off opioids and keeps them as comfortable as possible.

If you or your son needs help with a mental health or substance abuse problem in Arizona, call Reflections Recovery Center while there is still time. Many of our clients have dealt with both a mental health issue like depression and a substance use disorder like heroin addiction. We have caring professionals waiting to help.

The Arizona families who have had to deal with these problems are in the thoughts of the team at Reflections Recovery Center in Prescott, AZ. For those facing thoughts of suicide, the situation can feel hopeless. However, depression is a treatable illness. There is help available.

See the Reflections Recovery Experience