Episode 16: Opiates, Opiods, Crack!

Opiates, Opioids, Crack!

This week Ann wasn’t able to make it to the podcast so we scratched the legal talk.
Joined by Paul Smith of TruTalk on Tru Radio Network in our makeshift studio, Dan and Becky discuss Dan’s favorite topic, drugs! We will be back in our studio to talk about the law next week!

With all of the media coverage on the opioid epidemic we wanted to discuss why it was considered an epidemic and how it’s being treated differently than the crack epidemic in the 80s. We also talk about safe drug use, drug interactions, and overdosing.

Prior to heroin, morphine was the drug of choice for treating pain but it was later discovered that morphine was addictive. Bayer invented heroin as a safer, non-addictive alternative which was prescribed up until about the 1920s. Once it was realized that heroin was more addictive than morphine, history repeated itself. We finally ended up with Percocet, Vicodin, and Codeine which were billed as safer alternatives to heroin and morphine. It turns out they got it wrong again. Opiates are very addictive as proven throughout history, but they’re also very effective at controlling pain.

SOME of the problems contributing to opiate-related deaths are:

  • Drug interactions. Mixing opiates with other drugs such as alcohol and benzos (Xanax, Valium, etc…)
  • Acetaminophen (Tylenol). Vicodin and Percocet both contain Tylenol as an ingredient. You should only take up to 1,000mg of Tylenol per one dose, and 4,000mg per day. Both of these can be easily exceeded by opiate users, leading to liver damage/failure.
  • Fentanyl. With the Darknet Markets being a popular place to mail order drugs there a lot of look-a-like prescription pills that are actually pressed with Fentanyl which is 50-100 times stronger than morphine. Fentanyl is being passed off as Xanax, Percocet, Vicodin, Molly, and other popular drugs. Dealers are also stretching heroine by mixing in Fentanyl leading to overdoses of all of these drugs.
  • Respiratory Arrest. You essentially become too relaxed to breathe.

Paul discusses Narcan (Naloxone) from his time as an EMT. Narcan stops an opiate overdose in it’s tracks. Paul has administered Narcan 40-50 times and has experienced patients becoming hostile afterward because they didn’t know they overdosed. To the patient, they wake up immediately and think the medics ruined their high.

Why are so many people abusing opiates and why are so many people turning to the black market? 

We don’t really know why opiate use is so common but we have theories that mental illness and despair have a lot to do with it. Some people also think that because they’re prescribed as medication by doctors that opiates are safe. As far as the black market is concerned, the recent media coverage and new FDA recommendations are leading doctors to write fewer opiate prescriptions. Also, buying black-market pills gets expensive! Buying heroin is a lot cheaper when buying on the streets.

How can you stay safe as an opiate user?

We don’t advocate drug use, but if you’re going to use drugs we suggest you practice safe drug use.

  • Know your source! If your source is a pharmacy, that’s about as safe as you’re going to get ingredient-wise.
  • Don’t exceed 1,000mgs of acetaminophen every 4-6 hours or 4,000mg in a 24 hour period if you can help it. If you cannot avoid taking more than 1,000mgs of acetaminophen, Google Cold Water Extraction. Coldwater extractions separate most of the opiate from the acetaminophen.
  • Know your dealer. Do you trust them?
  • Research drug interactions. Know what you can and can’t take together.

To be perfectly honest, the only way to stay safe from opiates is to stay away from opiates!

If you or someone you know has an opiate addiction and would like to get help, you can call the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services hotline at 1-800-662-HELP.