Ohio’s Medical Misuse of Opiates

by Katie McGraw on November 27, 2013 at 6:44 am

Everyone has taken prescription drugs at some time in their life. But sometimes the cure can turn into a problem.

"Prescription pills are heavily addictive," said Muskingum Behavioral Health CEO, Steve Carrel.

"The ability to get it is easier now than it ever has been," said Zanesville Police Department Captain Tony Coury.

"It is a huge problem and it is just exponentially getting worse year to year in our community," added Heather Rice, the Director of Help Me Grow Programs.

All area professionals we have spoken to agree. Opiates are easily addictive. The pills are good at their job. . . making people feel no pain.

“Then there’s the euphoria of I don’t care whats going on, I’m not worried about anything," said Behavioral Health Specialist at Genesis Recovery Center, Denise Williams.

Addiction can happen in a variety of ways. including a persons particular brain composition.

"There is something there genetically and the way the body responds to it," explained Dr. Vicki Whitacre of ZMCHD.

When someone does try to cut the habit, the withdraw symptoms set in, making it even more difficult to quit.

"Much worse than the flu you have ever had," said Williams.

"Some people can have tremors, goosebumps, chills, nasal drainage, eyes are watery, nausea, vomiting," RN and Chemical Dependency Counselor, Linda Kirkbride added.

Another growing trend, that many in the medical field are concerned about, is pregnant women using opiates and the damage it can cause for the unborn fetus.

"They have the potential of miscarrying and if they make it through delivery, they have withdrawal symptoms,” explained Kirkbride.

“It’s scary because it is compounded in the uterus to be even 3,4, 5 times more concentrated because it is a smaller space and they cant get rid of the waste because they are contained in that fetus," added Rice.

According to Rice, besides the baby facing withdrawal symptoms, the impacts of drug use depends on what part of the pregnancy the abuse occurred. If a mother used later in her pregnancy, the central nervous system is most effected and the children are impacted behaviorally and educationally.
"The brain might be telling their body what to do, but their body cant get it to do it, because there is some sort of break in the connection because of drug use,”Rice said.

Opiate overdose is now the leading cause of accidental death. . . even over car accidents.

"They relapse and go back and use, frequently they will use the amount that they were using when they had stopped and their tolerance has dropped,” explained Williams. “So the amount that they would have normally used to get high is now enough to cause a lethal dose.”

"Well if you crush up that pill and make it a powder, that time delay is gone, so then you have the rare form of the pill and its power,” added Muskingum County Sheriff Matt Lutz. “So then we were getting people who were snorting that and then overdosing."

According to Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, we lose 5 Ohioans everyday to the drug epidemic.