THE RISKS OF OXYCODONE

Oxycodone is the most commonly abused opioid in America. More than 12 million people use opioid drugs recreationally in the U.S.A.

Oxycodone was the leading cause of drug-related deaths in America until 2012, when heroin and fentanyl became more widely abused. Oxycodone overdose can cause spinal cord infarction in high doses as well as ischemic damage to the brain, due to prolonged hypoxia from suppressed breathing.

Most common side effects of oxycodone include reduced sensitivity to pain, euphoria, relaxation, and respiratory depression. Other side effects of oxycodone include constipation, nausea, tiredness, dizziness, itching, dry mouth, and sweating. 

Most side effects generally decrease in intensity over time, although constipation is likely to continue throughout use. Oxycodone in combination with naloxone in timed-release tablets have been created to deter abuse and reduce “opioid-induced constipation.” 

There is a high risk of severe withdrawal symptoms if a patient abruptly discontinues taking oxycodone. In a medical context, if the drug has been taken over an extended period of time, it is to be withdrawn gradually. People who abuse oxycodone at higher than prescribed doses are at risk of severe withdrawal symptoms

Symptoms of oxycodone withdrawal may include anxiety, panic attack, nausea, insomnia, muscle weakness, fevers, and other flu-like symptoms. Withdrawal symptoms have also been reported in newborns whose mothers had been taking oxycodone orally or injecting it during pregnancy.

In high doses and in people not tolerant to opioids, oxycodone can cause shallow breathing, slowed heart rate, clammy skin, pauses in breathing, low blood pressure, constricted pupils, circulatory collapse, respiratory arrest and death. Opioids were responsible for 49,000 of the 72,000 overdose deaths in the U.S. in 2017.

Oxycodone, sold under brand names such as Roxicodone and OxyContin (the extended release form) is a strong, semi-synthetic opioid used medically for treatment of moderate to severe pain. It is highly addictive, usually taken by mouth, and is available in immediate-release and controlled-release formulations. Onset of pain relief begins within fifteen minutes and lasts up to six hours with the immediate-release tablets. 

The reformulated OxyContin has caused some recreational users to switch to fentanyl, which is cheaper and not as difficult to find (and far more dangerous). In the United Kingdom, oxycodone is available by injection. When taken by mouth, oxycodone has roughly one and a half times the effect of the equivalent amount of morphine. 

Oxycodone was first made in Germany in 1916 from thebaine, an opiate alkaloid. In 2020, oxycodone was the 54th most commonly prescribed medication in the United States with over 12 million prescriptions.

UNDERSTANDING FENTANYL

Fentanyl contamination in cocaine, methamphetamine, ketamine, MDMA, and certain “prescription” drugs is common. Fentanyl is often found in heroin as well as illegally manufactured opioids and benzodiazepines. Naloxone, sold under the brand name Narcan, can completely reverse an opioid overdose. Fentanyl poses an very high overdose risk, due in part to having an extremely unpredictable fatal dosage when mixed with other drugs.

A kilogram of heroin laced with fentanyl may sell for more than $100,000, but the fentanyl itself may be produced far more cheaply (about $6,000 per kilogram); this provides incentive for drug dealers to cut high amounts of it into their product. As of 2018, fentanyl was the most common opioid in overdose drug deaths, surpassing heroin. 

There were 81,230 drug overdose deaths during the 12 months from May 2019 to May 2020, the highest number of overdoses for a 12-month interval ever recorded for the U.S. In 2021, the Public Health Agency of Canada noted that 87% of accidental opioid toxicity deaths involved fentanyl. Deaths involving synthetic opioids such as fentanyl increased by a marked 22% in 2021, according to the CDC data. 

In the past, media outlets have reported stories about police officers being hospitalized after contact with powdered fentanyl, or after brushing it from their clothing. Transdermal (via the skin) and inhalative exposure to fentanyl is extremely unlikely to cause overdose (except in cases of prolonged exposure with large quantities) and first responders are at minimal risk of fentanyl poisoning through accidental contact. The effects being reported (rapid heartbeat, hyperventilation and chills) were more commonly associated with a panic attack.

A 2021 paper expressed concern that these physical fears over fentanyl may inhibit effective emergency response to overdoses by causing responding officers to spend time on unnecessary precautions, and that such media coverage could perpetuate social stigmas that people who use drugs are dangerous to be around. 

The CDC recommends the following; the need to expand distribution and use of naloxone and overdose prevention education locally; to expand access and availability of treatment for substance use disorders; to intervene early with individuals at highest risk for overdose; and to improve detection of overdose outbreaks, in order to facilitate a more effective response. 

An effective social media campaign has been put into motion by the United States DEA called “One Pill Can Kill” with the goal of spreading awareness about the prevalence of counterfeit pills, and to show the difference between counterfeit pills and real prescription pills. It also offers resources for help with drug addiction and rehabilitation.

GETTING OFF OF XANAX

Discontinuation of benzodiazepines, even after a relatively short duration of treatment, may result in withdrawal symptoms, which are the main sign of physical dependence. The most frequent symptoms of withdrawal are insomnia, gastric problems, tremors, agitation, fearfulness, and muscle spasms. Less frequent symptoms are irritability, sweating, depersonalization, derealization, hypersensitivity to stimuli, depression, suicidal behavior, psychosis, seizures, and delirium tremens.

Abrupt withdrawal can be dangerous and lead to excitotoxicity, causing damage and even death to nerve cells as a result of excessive levels of the excitatory neurotransmitter glutamate. In excitotoxicity, nerve cells suffer damage or death when the levels of otherwise necessary and safe neurotransmitters become pathologically high. Symptoms may also occur during a gradual dosage reduction, but are typically less severe and may persist as part of a protracted withdrawal syndrome for months after cessation of benzodiazepines

Approximately 10% of patients experience a notable protracted withdrawal syndrome, which can persist for many months or in some cases a year or longer. Protracted symptoms tend to resemble those seen during the first couple of months of withdrawal but usually are of a subacute level of severity. Such symptoms do gradually lessen over time, eventually disappearing altogether.

Benzodiazepines have a reputation for causing a severe and traumatic withdrawal; however, this is due largely to the withdrawal process being poorly managed. A slow and gradual withdrawal is recommended, customized to the individual, with psychological support. The time needed to complete withdrawal ranges from four weeks to several years. Alcohol is also cross tolerant with benzodiazepines and more toxic and caution is advised, in order to avoid replacing one dependence with another.

Withdrawal of benzodiazepines for long-term users leads to improved physical and mental health, particularly in the elderly; although some long term users report continued benefit from taking benzodiazepines, this is likely the result of suppression of withdrawal effects. A number of studies have drawn an association between long-term benzodiazepine use and neuro-degenerative disease, particularly Alzheimer’s disease as well as an increased risk of dementia.

SPONSORSHIP

To receive the 12th step and sponsor a newcomer is arguably the most crucial and most gratifying component of long-term sobriety. I recently gave step 12 to my first sponsee, and I so look forward to watching him take another man through the steps. 

What makes a good sponsor in Alcoholics Anonymous? Being new to the role myself, I’m hesitant to offer too many of my own conclusions, but I will pass along advice that I’ve received from more wisened members of our community. 

Tip #1: “A sponsor’s job is to take his sponsee through the steps; that is all. It is not the job of a sponsor to offer life advice.” 

Sponsorship is a sacred duty, too important to compromise under the swaying influence of one’s own opinions. The steps have been tested for nearly ninety years, and our trust in them is the implicit agreement which binds our community; it is from that trust alone that a sponsor derives his authority. 

You may find, in the course of your duties, that your sponsee has asked you for life advice. Respond with the utmost discretion; personal judgements, no matter how insightful or practiced, are sometimes wrong. 

Tip #2: “You can’t “make” them willing. The book says honesty, open mindedness and willingness are essential to one’s ability to stay sober. Those things can’t be forced on anyone… What you can do as sponsor is point out the willingness that your sponsee had in the beginning, if they start to balk in the later portion of the steps.”

Do not be disheartened by the apathy or relapse of your sponsee. The ultimate purpose of your work is not to keep your sponsee sober; it is to keep yourself sober. There is always another man who needs and wants your help.

Tip #3: “Ego has no place in sponsorship… The actual sponsor is the book; and God.” Keep ever present in your mind the foremost aim of the 12 steps: to foster a relationship between the alcoholic and a higher power of his own understanding. 

You are there to make an introduction to someone you have never met, and never will meet; to a friend your sponsee likely never knew he always had. Be reverent of the time and space he needs to cultivate that connection. If your sponsee fails to develop a bond with his higher power during your sponsorship, take heart; you have planted a seed. He will always remember the respect that you showed to this undiscovered part of himself.

I hope these tips will be helpful to you as you embark on your journey of sponsorship. Remember: though you may now be a sponsor, you are still yourself a sponsee, and we are all of us pedestrians forever on “the road to happy destiny.”

Staying “Out”

At the time of this writing, a friend of mine from the program (whom I will call “Justin”) is “out”, and has been for well over two months now. Before he abandoned his program, Justin achieved more than a year of sobriety, with multiple commitments and sponsees to his name.  

I had the opportunity to visit Justin late one afternoon last week at the room he is renting, and found him surrounded by drug and alcohol paraphernalia, halfway through an IPA. He was in good enough spirits and seemed happy to see me, but showed no interest at that time in returning to our community.    

It is not yet a year ago that a visitor to my place of residence would have found me in nearly identical circumstances. Though I would like to tell you that the intervening year has shed me of all such wayward instincts, even now, I harbor doubts about my program, and contend with bad dreams of ‘relapse’ nearly every night.  

This blog is about the positive value of sobriety, full stop. Where then do we place my contrary confession? Does it speak simply to the unfortunate but natural aberrations of my mind, of any mind? Or, being as I’m a card-carrying member of AA, is it a measure of my mental weakness? Of my failure to adopt the solution?

I feel at liberty to discuss my doubts because I can couple them with this certainty: the time that I have spent sober, attending AA meetings and working the steps, has resulted in tremendous growth and personal development. I know the same would prove true for any person with a long-standing chemical dependency.

And yet, Justin’s decision to terminate his sobriety is well within his rights as a human being, for sobriety is not morally superior to intoxication; morality is an exclusive function of our actions with respect to others.  

However, if in returning to drug and alcohol use, one finds oneself conformed to a lifestyle of self-centeredness and alienation; let not a moment’s shame prevent you from returning to the sober life that served you so well.

If shame is to account for Justin’s dalliance, I cannot know. However, I am confident time will return him to his program of sobriety; for it was clear to even the most casual observer, that no one so benefitted from its effects as much as the man himself.

What If?

What if you had woken up this morning and walked out the front door naked, screaming bloody murder into the street? 

What if you had picked up the phone and called each of your loved ones, describing your sexual fantasies in increasingly vivid detail? What if you had driven your car into a crowd of people?

In comparison, whatever mistakes you have made today -a typo in an email, the misremembered name of your new colleague, the coffee you spilled on your new shoes- must surely seem slight. 

What if you were moments from death, many decades from now, and given the opportunity to travel back to this moment? Can you imagine the inexplicable joy, the utter freedom you would feel to be, simply and exactly, as you are right now? 

It is sometimes said in the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous that “you cannot think your way into right action. You can only act your way into right thinking.” And it is indeed foolish to dwell errantly in one’s own mind. 

However, the writer of this blog must object to the aforementioned truism on the following basis: we can, in point of fact, take some control of our self-perception by doing just that; by dwelling for a time in our imaginations, with care and on purpose. 

We can better appreciate what is by asking ourselves what might well have been, and what might one day be. This is productive thinking. This is mindfulness.

The great screenwriting instructor Robert McKee is known to say that the screenwriter must know the world of their story “with the depth and breadth that God knows this world.” 

While we can never presume to know how the God of our understanding thinks, this is very good encouragement to be vigilantly thoughtful as we proceed throughout our day; and, indeed, throughout our lives.

Finding Your Higher Power

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Have you found your higher power? Is it God, the ocean, or a doorknob? Or is it something else entirely?

It is the opinion of the writer of this blog that the newcomer might very understandably feel nonplussed by the Big Book’s distinction between a God rooted in theological tradition, and a “higher power of [their] own understanding.” After all, in both cases, the newcomer is asked to believe in something for which there is no physical evidence. The dismissal of scientific reasoning in the chapter We Agnostics is specious; yes, like faith, science involves assumptions; but unlike faith, science is testable.

So now, what then? What are we left with? Have we outsmarted the Big Book? We can, at the very least, agree that God “is or He isn’t.” And this writer can agree to something else too; something that can be heard quoted, across the world on the right night, in meetings of Alcoholics Anonymous:

Except in a few rare cases, neither [the alcoholic] nor any other human being can provide [an effective mental defense against the first drink]. His defense must come from a Higher Power.”

Sometimes, your friends and family will save you from despair. Other times, you will save yourself.

But then there will come another time. A time when there will be no one and you will have nothing. What then?

It is the opinion of the writer of this blog that a reasonable person cannot possibly believe in a higher power, and must dismiss the notion. They must, however, simultaneously and constantly, believe in something exactly like a higher power, and make this belief the fundament of their worldview.

It is the opinion of the writer of this blog that a reasonable person cannot possibly believe in a higher power, and must dismiss the notion. They must, however, simultaneously and constantly, believe in something exactly like a higher power, and make this belief the fundament of their worldview, in order to maintain peak mental fitness. 

Conclusion

Maybe you still feel as if the word “God” or “Higher Power” is something too far out or is just too confusing. The beautiful thing is, this is your experience to have and build. The more you seek your Higher Power, the more your conception of what it might be will grow into something unfathomable, you will just know that your Higher Power is there with you.

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Why Sober Living is the Best Choice for Recovering Addicts

Why Sober Living is the Best Choice for Recovering Addicts

Sober living homes are transitional residences that help recovering addicts adjust to life after rehab. When compared to other recovery options, such as sober apartments or group homes, sober living provides the best chance of maintaining sobriety. This is because it combines a safe and supportive environment with the challenges of everyday life outside of rehab. Sober living facilities provide recovering addicts with a home-like setting while offering helpful services like nutritionists, doctors, and drug addiction counselors. The result is a safe space that helps individuals avoid the triggers and temptations of everyday life while also meeting their housing needs. In this article, we’ll explain why so many recovering addicts choose Sober Living as the best option for staying sober after rehab.

What is Sober Living?

Sober living is a form of transitional housing that helps recovering addicts transition from rehab to independent living. It’s also known as “co-occurring treatment,” “dual-diagnosis treatment,” or “co-treatment.” Co-occurring treatment is designed for individuals who are struggling with drug addiction and another mental health issue, such as depression, anxiety, or bipolar disorder. Sober living is often used as an alternative to inpatient or residential treatment. Individuals who participate in this type of treatment live at a facility or home with other people in recovery. Sober living facilities are often managed by a counselor or case manager. They provide a safe and supportive environment, as well as onsite or nearby medical care. They also help individuals meet their daily housing and cost of living needs.

The Benefits of Sober Living for Recovering Addicts

Sober living provides a safe and supportive environment that helps recovering addicts avoid trigger situations and maintain sobriety. This best chance at recovery for individuals who struggle with drug addiction and another mental health issue. Sober living facilities are often managed by a counselor or case manager. They provide a safe and supportive environment, as well as onsite or nearby medical care. They also help individuals meet their daily housing and cost of living needs. Sober living offers a variety of useful services and amenities. These include individualized drug addiction counseling, group therapy, nutritionists, healthcare professionals, and aftercare planning. These services help recovering addicts avoid the trigger and temptation situations of everyday life outside of rehab. They also help individuals find suitable housing and meet the daily costs of living. Additionally, sober living facilities provide a home-like setting that helps individuals adjust to life after rehab.

Why Most Recovering Addicts Chose Sober Living After Rehab

Sober living offers a combination of elements that help recovering addicts adjust to life after rehab. These include safety, access to drug addiction counseling, and access to healthcare providers. These elements also help recovering addicts avoid the trigger and temptation situations of everyday life outside of rehab. The result is a safe space that helps individuals adjust to life after rehab while also helping them maintain sobriety. Sober living facilities are often managed by a counselor or case manager. They provide timely, efficient, and reliable access to drug addiction counseling. Counseling is an essential part of any rehab treatment plan. It’s also an important part of addiction recovery without rehab. Counseling is a vital tool that helps individuals overcome drug addiction. It allows them to identify and work through any emotional or mental health issues they’re struggling with. It also helps them develop coping skills, change self-destructive behaviors, and discover new ways of thinking and living that are positive and productive.

Types of Sober Living Facilities

Sober living facilities are also known as “co-occurring treatment,” “dual-diagnosis treatment,” or “co-treatment” facilities. This type of residential treatment is designed for individuals who are struggling with drug addiction and another mental health issue. Sober living facilities are often used as an alternative to inpatient or residential treatment. Individuals who participate in this type of treatment live at a facility or home with other people in recovery. Sober living facilities come in a variety of forms. Some are fully dedicated to helping people recover from drug addiction, while others help individuals recover from drug addiction as well as other mental health issues. Some sober living facilities are entirely drug-free and alcohol-free, while others may allow controlled substances as prescribed by doctors.

How to Find the Best Sober Living Home for You

First, you need to understand that you’re not limited to sober living homes. You can also consider sober apartments and sober group homes as potential sober living options. All three of these recovery options are great choices for individuals who are struggling with drug addiction. You can find sober living facilities through online directories and services. You can also ask your treatment providers or counselors for recommendations on sober living homes. When searching for a sober living home, you should make sure you find the best fit for you. Part of finding the best fit is considering factors such as cost, location, services, and hours. You’ll also want to consider the people who live in these facilities. Are they the people you want to live and recover with?

How do you know which one is best for you?

When you’re searching for the right sober living home, keep an eye out for red flags. If the home seems unsafe or doesn’t meet your needs and expectations, don’t hesitate to look for another home. There are many different sober living homes out there, so you should be able to find one that meets your needs and expectations. You should also be able to find one that meets your budget. If you’re hoping to find a sober living home with like-minded individuals, you should consider joining an online community for people in recovery. These communities allow you to connect with other people in recovery, ask questions, and learn about various sober living facilities. You can also use these communities to find sober living roommates.

Conclusion

Sober living is a form of transitional housing that helps recovering addicts adjust to life after rehab. It’s also known as “co-occurring treatment,” “dual-diagnosis treatment,” or “co-treatment.” Sober living offers a safe and supportive environment that helps recovering addicts avoid trigger situations and maintain sobriety. It offers a combination of elements that help recovering addicts adjust to life after rehab. These include safety, access to drug addiction counseling, and access to healthcare providers. Sober living facilities are often managed by a counselor or case manager. They provide timely, efficient, and reliable access to drug addiction counseling.

There is help.

Often times we can find ourselves feeling alone and disconnected from the world in our struggle. At Oak Forest Recovery we are dedicated to helping you build a sober community that you can continue to grow with. Take a tour a virtual tour of our sober living!

Sober Living

If you need more information what what addiction may look like or how it may show up in you or a loved ones life, please check out our resource pages.

If you or a loved one suffers from addiction please give us at call at 1-888-597-6257 or visit Oak Forest Recovery.

For more resources available in your area feel free to reach out to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. You can also find more information about substance abuse on John Hopkins Medicine website.

Is Sobriety Boring You?

We understand, it may feel difficult to redefine fun in sobriety. You may find yourself asking why life seems so boring. Take a moment to consider where you are and how far you have come.

Just think: you could blow it all up right now. You could walk into a bar and the second that drink hits your throat, your life starts over. Your six months start over. Your two years. Your nine years. Just hit that joint and you’re free. You won’t have to carry this anymore, this responsibility.

Because it is a responsibility, isn’t it? It was supposed to be for you, just for you, but somewhere along the way someone convinced you to promise other people you’d stay sober. And now, here you are. How is this fair?

The reason it is fair, and the reason you should not blow up your life, can best be summarized by the penultimate scene in Steven Spielberg’s 2002 film Catch Me If You Can.

The movie, which tells the story of the surrogate father-son relationship between a young con artist named Frank Abagnale (based on a real life criminal by the same name) and the wizened FBI agent on his tail, ends after Frank has been captured and recruited to work for the bureau. Naturally skittish and eager to escape his newfound obligation, Frank has lit out for the airport, only to find Carl Hanratty, the agent assigned to his case, there waiting for him.

I’m gonna let you fly tonight, Frank,” says Carl, following the young man as he makes his way toward his gate, “I’m not even gonna try to stop you. Because I know you’ll be back on Monday.”

Yeah? How do you know I’ll come back?” asks Frank, finally stopping.

Look, Frank…” Carl extends an arm toward the empty terminal stretched out behind them.

“…Nobody’s chasing you.”

Before you try to dive back in the comfort zone of what you use to consider fun…

Please understand that the boredom you feel right now is not some minor inconvenience upon which you are frivolously or accidentally dwelling; it is of the Great Beast, crucial and eternal. Getting loaded would mask the symptom for the moment, but getting loaded is cheating, and cheaters always lose in the long game.

Life is a long game, if you’re lucky. The savage irony, of course, is that if you knew just how short life truly is, your boredom would evaporate like steam in sunlight, revealing itself to be an unfortunate illusion.

In the meantime, this writer is confident that you will do your best to get a kick out of something somewhere, and stay sober. And why is this?

Look around. Nobody’s chasing you.

What are some ways we can avoid feeling like sobriety is boring?

Find a community of people you can thrive with. Search inside yourself for those things that use to bring you joy as a child and seek them out again. Find a hobby. Whatever it is you may desire, try keeping an open mind to new experience and your life will grow fuller the more you open up to what it has to offer.

Fun in Sobriety

Conclusion

At Oak Forest Recovery, we emphasize on building a community around you to maintain sobriety. We spend most of our weekends on learning how to have fun in sobriety again to avoid the dilemma of asking ourselves, “Does sobriety have to be boring?”, we think not!

We encourage you to reach out to use if you live in the area of Agoura Hills/Thousand Oaks , California but if this is not possible there are plenty of resources to engage in sober activities such as Meetup ! It is a way to get involved in sober activates and engage in a sober connections we desire even if we may not recognize it at first.

Understanding Fentanyl and how it affects you.

The rise of Fentanyl use has fueled the Unites States opioid epidemic in recent years . The United States has reported over 90,000 opioid related overdoses from 2019 to 2022 with close to 56,000 of those deaths reported to involve synthetic opioids. Bringing awareness to this issue and understanding the feelings of someone who struggles with the mental obsession of addiction can not only help them but allow you the opportunity to help others in your community.

Do You Feel Like Smoking Fentanyl Right Now?

This article is meant to address the desire you feel at this moment to smoke fentanyl. The writer wishes to prevent you from acting upon that desire. How can the writer accomplish this?

Perhaps by begging you in the following language: “Please, please don’t get up from wherever you are sitting and go use fentanyl today.”

Rhetorical strategies intended to manipulate you might instead only succeed in off-putting and alienating you, so a direct appeal seems appropriate.

Please. If it doesn’t kill you this time, it will next time. And there will be a next time.”

But surely, you are already aware of this danger and it is a risk you are willing to take.

So perhaps instead this writer ought to present you with options alternative to that which is currently most appealing to you.

Why don’t you go read a book? Or take a walk? Or eat an apple?

Of course and unfortunately, you will not find these option as attractive as the notion which presently preoccupies you, for if you are fantasizing about smoking fentanyl, you are in all likelihood doing so because you have done so before, and the euphoric memories of so doing have released dopamine in your brain and triggered your craving for more.

And so it appears now that the writer of this blog means to persuade you by deconstructing the neuropsychology behind your feelings.

But the big book of Alcoholics Anonymous says that we’ll be “unable to stop [using] on the basis of self-knowledge” and our current predicament does seem to bear this out, doesn’t it? You are not stupid, you are in pain, and smoking fentanyl will make the pain go away.

So instead, do this: if you love anything or anyone on earth; your family; your parents, your brother, your sister, your uncles, your aunts, a friend, your wife, your husband, a son, a daughter, someone who’s died, a place; your home, an idea, an art form, the earth or love itself; think of them now. Then hold tightly to that thought, though tornados surround you, and scream and scream and scream into your heart.

This will keep you sober from one moment to the next. But only that.

Then, if you are interested in a more permanent solution, we can help.

Conclusion

If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, Oak Forest Recovery can help be the foundation of a new way of life allowing you to grow the connections in a community committed to spiritual growth. We offer many approaches to a long-term solution to living with addiction. We understand that depression and anxiety can fuel substance abuse and offer treatment programs that focus on the dual-diagnosis of mental disorder and substance abuse.

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