Prescription Painkillers are becoming the major source of overdose in the USA
The problems of opiate abuse from Prescription Painkillers is pretty well known. Opiates are from the same family of organa-chemicals as Morphine or the Victorian painkiller Laudanum or the Victorian street drug Opium and the modern street drug Heroin, the latter started as a common cough suppressant remember that fact.
The power of this group of chemicals is that they are plant based, like cocaine & marijuana-why are the plant based chemicals so efficient at what they do? The reason is that we share between 40% and 60% of our DNA with plants (this is a tricky figure to pin down due to complexity of DNA & what aspects we are talking about, but this rough estimate is good enough), this common heritage means we share a lot of biochemistry in common-why its healthy to eat your vegetables! This means that we will come across organic chemicals in plants that bear a remarkable similarity to those found in the human body, opiates bind to the same receptors in the human brain as our natural endogenous opioids–the receptors are found in various areas of the brain-mu, delta, and kappa receptors.
As all life on Earth shares a common ancestry we share DNA, the further back you split off the less DNA. Because a large amount of evolution stayed in the protozoa stage the rest is condensed so we share more than you would think.
Organic Chemistry is a highly complex subject and Pharmaceutical Companies struggle to come up with compounds anywhere near complex or targeted enough to achieve the right effect-especially in the brain. The best solution, for them, is to take organic chemicals found in plants that already match closely our own endogenous chemicals and adapt or modify them if necessary.
Aspirin is an interesting example of organic chemistry-taken from a plant we are still discovering the complexity of Aspirin-hence the ever changing advice on its use!
This link with organic chemistry makes the drugs highly addictive-what does that mean? Basically, the brain can’t tell the difference as, mentioned above, the brain’s receptors react to both. The difference is the natural system in the body will carefully regulate these chemicals to produce the effect it needs-very carefully-by contrast, inserting wildly varying amounts of exogenous (not produced by the body) chemicals into the system quickly overwhelmes it.
This is the addiction cycle. The body reacts to the introduced exogenous chemical by reducing the amount of endogenous natural chemicals-a common sense reaction, the levels seem high, produce less. When you stop taking the drug the brain has stopped making its own, now you’re in trouble, you’ll notice the absence VERY quickly! When it comes to painkillers then you’ve boosted the brain’s natural pain reduction system, then taken away the boost but the brain has switched off its own – now you have NO natural pain reduction ability.
Herion the street opiate of choice but it has few differences from medical morphine or standard pain-killer opiates-all derived from the same Poppy Seed
Before the brain can adjust there will be an excess of pain-reduction this is an odd idea, so what does an excess feel like-it feels like euphoria!
Imagine a control with a minus side and a plus side and zero in the middle-call this the pain control. When there is nothing wrong, no injuries, the dial will be set to zero. If there is an illness or injury the brain increases its defense system, the dial goes up, to… say… 40. It will then return back to zero when the problem is resolved. When you introduce an opiate with no pain, the dial jumps up, but as there isn’t the equal and opposite force of pain to negate this-the dial shoots up to 80! This is the high. Even if there is pain you could substantially increase the input so the dial still jumps to 80. Either way with the introduction of external drugs the natural endogenous chemicals will have been shut down. When the external drugs wear off the dial doesn’t drop back to zero, it goes into the negative scale as the system is now out of balance. This equals pain and extreme discomfort-withdrawal. The solution? Take more external drugs as you have no control over the brain’s own internal system. CONTINUE TO DO THIS AND YOU RESET THE ZERO POINT ON THE DIAL now you have to have the external drug to keep the dial at zero. The amount needed will slowly increase. Now you have a major problem, you need more and more of the external drug just to keep that dial at zero-and should there be an increase in pain from the injury YOU NEED EVEN MORE DRUGS.
IT IS VERY DIFFICULT TO BRING THE SYSTEM BACK INTO BALANCE WHEN YOU ARE IN THIS DISRUPTIVE STATE.
You’re now in a real mess and struggling not to relive pain or get a high anymore but to keep the dial at zero!
Purdue Pharma launched OxyContin about 20 years ago and they added a sustained-release system (designed around a 12 hour cycle)-a system that has been further developed and added to other drugs since. New research has found that the effect is not homogenous, works for some, has a very different effect on others. This is a VERY serious issue. If the delayed-release isn’t working properly then you could get a higher dose that you thought you were getting-or-you could be getting a lower dose. Tests have indicated that many people are-best I could put it-getting high doses that run out early leaving them in detox which amounts to craving and the need for more of the drug.
Many common street drugs have been around a long time (even Meth was being used in WWII) but we have never seen them in such variety or inexpensive availability.
ITS EXACERBATING THE SYSTEM I OUTLINED – IT’S ALMOST AS IF THE DRUG IS DESIGNED TO CREATE AN OUT OF CONTROL DEPENDENCY.
The Los Angeles Times released an expose on the problem and here is very telling extract:
The Times investigation, based on thousands of pages of confidential Purdue documents and other records, found that:
- Purdue has known about the problem for decades. Even before OxyContin went on the market, clinical trials showed many patients weren’t getting 12 hours of relief. Since the drug’s debut in 1996, the company has been confronted with additional evidence, including complaints from doctors, reports from its own sales reps and independent research.
- The company has held fast to the claim of 12-hour relief, in part to protect its revenue. OxyContin’s market dominance and its high price — up to hundreds of dollars per bottle — hinge on its 12-hour duration. Without that, it offers little advantage over less expensive painkillers.
- When many doctors began prescribing OxyContin at shorter intervals in the late 1990s, Purdue executives mobilized hundreds of sales reps to “refocus” physicians on 12-hour dosing. Anything shorter “needs to be nipped in the bud. NOW!!” one manager wrote to her staff.
- Purdue tells doctors to prescribe stronger doses, not more frequent ones, when patients complain that OxyContin doesn’t last 12 hours. That approach creates risks of its own. Research shows that the more potent the dose of an opioid such as OxyContin, the greater the possibility of overdose and death.
- More than half of long-term OxyContin users are on doses that public health officials consider dangerously high, according to an analysis of nationwide prescription data conducted for The Times.
As the company knew about the problem for a long time and could see-or read in the press-the effects on society… were they ignoring this for profit?
ANYONE ELSE FEEL THEY’RE BACK IN THE TOBACCO SCANDAL?
And a lot of those guys eventually went to prison! I’m also wondering… how many other Pharmaceuticals have this problem – the idea of sustained or managed release is pretty widespread now!
Remember I asked you to remember the cough suppressant factor? Opiates are a reparatory system suppressant-this leads to hypoxia, this is when there is not enough enough oxygen in the blood and hence the brain. There are similarities with hypothermia-when the body temperature drops too low-when in this condition you tend to make bad decisions that exacerbate the effect. In opiate overdose hypoxia leads to those same bad decisions-if the effect of an overdose with opiates were extreme stomach cramps then we would be in a much better position. We would be calling everyone we know to get us to the hospital and when it got bad enough we’d call 911 or crawl to a hospital-with opiate overdose you become drowsy and soporific, you don’t seek help, you don’t dial 911, you do the worst thing possible, you lay down and sleep.
When opiates take you away it’s a powerful pull into an irresistible sleep, no alarm bells, warnings are muffled in a soporific state, then you drift gently away, never to return… this is what makes opiate overdose as dangerous as it is…
GEOFFREY RAGNAROKK DANES © 2016
Read the full LA TIMES article here