Education is an important yet underrated aspect of addiction treatment. Sometimes, to see the issues that have affected you, your loved ones, and the greater community, it is necessary to learn history. In terms of addiction treatment, Southeast Addiction has gone through great lengths to inform and educate about the opioid crisis in TN as well as at the national level. We do this as a means to see how the effects of substance use disorders presents a systemic issue that affects every level of a community both economic and personal. To provide the best addiction treatment in TN, we are always trying to stay current and aware of the most pressing issues in our community.
Current Issues Impacting Addiction Treatment in TN
Addiction treatment in TN has always been a pressing need ever since the onset of the opioid crisis. Even prior to that, alcoholism has been the dark underbelly of Nashville, TN’s rich and celebrated music scene. Many artists have historically struggled to tread the line between their creative impulses and their desire to indulge in addictive behaviors. It only makes sense that a city such as Nashville with a legacy of producing incredible artists would also have a contingent of people who need addiction treatment—that’s just the reality.
One of the biggest issues impacting TN and perhaps the nation is, or was, the notion that the opioid crisis was waning. It’s true, prescription rates have gone down throughout the US as medical professionals err on the side of caution when prescribing addictive painkillers for procedures that may not require them.
The original scourge of the opioid epidemic in the US began with an over prescription and ease of access to opioids combined with a laissez faire attitude towards their potential for abuse. Some people knew, but many were told by drug manufacturers that such medicines were potent and safe for prescription. How they were wrong at best and unethical at worst.
Today, clinics are more hesitant to prescribe opioids and are also in better communication with other clinics to prevent patients from trying to cheat the system to obtain refills or get re-prescribed a medication. This is one of the major benefits of advanced in medical technologies such as EHR (electronic health records).
While overdose rates did decline over time as awareness of these issues grew, a major wrench was thrown into existing plans of action to fight the opioid epidemic in 2020. The COVID-19 pandemic brought widespread chaos to just about every aspect of life globally. Social distancing and strict shutdowns were the norm for months. Social isolation is one of the most potent fuels that feed addiction. Naturally, when people who are used to relying on the support of their communities to stay sober and maintain recovery are forced to stay at home and have additional stressors put on them, the desire to drink or abuse drugs becomes difficult to resist.
Many people who have been sober for years relapsed last year as a result of the unnatural circumstances we were all placed under. Many individuals who have no alcohol use disorder began to develop one through the innocuous use of alcohol to numb the isolation and boredom of being forced away from those we love and being imprisoned in our own homes.
Opioid Addiction in TN is Back on the Rise
According to the state website, 80% of Tennessee’s crimes have some relation to drugs or drug use. There are approximately 800 meth labs operating out of TN at any given time. Statistics indicate that meth use has tapered off to some degree, but heroin use is on the rise once more.
One of the greatest threats in the opioid epidemic has always been the presence of fentanyl, which is 50-100 times more potent than morphine. Many overdoses occur because people purchase heroin that—unbeknownst to them, is laced with fentanyl, and they overdose and die.
A news story from April 2020 details 5 overdose deaths in less than an hour in Nashville, TN. All 5 of these people purchased heroin from the same person and died within the hour because it was laced with fentanyl.
Pure fentanyl is so potent that law enforcement must take extra precautions when dealing with drugs because death can occur simply through absorbing pure fentanyl through the skin. To combat this, those who commonly come into contact with such substances in the labs are being provided handheld injectors to reverse opioid overdoses.
Fentanyl Overdose Symptoms
To gain an understanding of one of the most immediate reasons why it is so important to gain sobriety from opioid addiction, there needs to be education on the worst offender: fentanyl. As stated, fentanyl is 50-100 times more potent than morphine, and is one of the leading causes of overdose deaths in the United States.
Fentanyl is a prescription drug that is medically used to treat severe pain in patients who have had major surgeries. Patients who are resistant to other, weaker painkillers are given fentanyl. Even though a person can develop a tolerance to fentanyl, the word tolerance is misleading, as tolerance to effects doesn’t change the amount that would result in an overdose. This is why addictive drugs such as opioids have such a high overdose rate, because tolerance to the drug increases which results in the user being goaded to keep upping the dose, closer and closer to overdosing.
Needless to say, this drug is manufactured and sold illegally on the street. It is often used to cut other weaker substances, but due to the potency of fentanyl, anything other than measured, medical administration of this drug is sure to result in mistakes in dosing. A simple miscalculation is enough to create a lethal dose.
Overdose symptoms include:
- Low blood pressure
- Pupillary changes
- Cold skin, blue lips and fingernails
- Nausea and vomiting
- Impaired or stopped respiration
- Decreased heart rate
- Loss of consciousness or coma
The speed at which a fentanyl overdose occurs is quite rapid compared to many drugs, with many experts pointing out that gurgling sounds alongside breathing, lips immediately turning blue (signaling decreasing blood oxygen levels), foaming at the mouth, and otherwise confused or impaired cognitive behavior are strong signals of the onset of a fentanyl overdose.
Fentanyl withdrawal symptoms are equally important to know and recognize, especially if you or a loved one are in need of detox, it can be helpful to know.
- Sleep issues
- Severe cravings
- Elevated heart rate/hypertension
- Muscle and bone pain (due to lowered pain thresholds)
- Diarrhea and vomiting
And many more.
Opioid withdrawal can recede within a week, give or take. However, detoxing should always be done under medical supervision.
Counterfeit Drugs Entering the Market in Tennessee
As if things weren’t dangerous enough, there are reports of counterfeit drugs entering the market in TN. A story that broke recently recounts a drug bust yielding fake oxycodone. The pills look like oxycodone but instead contain the much more potent fentanyl. This is nothing new, as the DEA issued a release in 2019 detailing the same scenario with over 20,000 fake oxycodone pills being seized in New York.
It is unknown how many of these pills exist in total but the overdose deaths remaining high, it’s clear that opioid addiction in TN and overdose deaths are still a plague to the community and to the country.
Our Programs for Opioid Addiction Treatment in TN
Southeast Addiction is here to help as many as we can. If you or a loved one are struggling with addiction—especially addiction to painkillers, you MUST seek out aid. Dying from an opioid addiction is not a question of “if” but a question of “when”. People make all kinds of rationalizations about their opioid addiction, but all it takes is one wrong dose, one wrong product to lose your life.
Loss of life due to addiction is something that affects the entire community. Friends, family, and lost potential in the people we lose.
Our programs have helped many people with a broad range of differing circumstances stop their drug use and embrace a healthier and more fulfilling lifestyle.
our most intensive outpatient program is our partial hospitalization program. You will commit to full-time contact hours which is 9:00 am – 4:00 pm. This creates a structured schedule for recovery without incurring the oftentimes heavy cost of residential care that inpatient programs have.
While all of our programs offer the same high quality level of care and array of services, the PHP will net the most time for the critical foundational work that is necessary for a longstanding recovery from drug and alcohol abuse.
This means participating in group, individual, and family therapy where relevant. Individual therapy provides the privacy and intimate environment for a person to feel the safest and most confident about opening up on issues that may have contributed to their substance use disorder. SUDs are often comorbid with other behavioral conditions such as depression or anxiety, or they can be the instigating factor for developing comorbidity with one of those conditions. This is why therapy remains a front-line defense against addiction by striking at the heart of it—maladaptive coping mechanisms.
Medication management is also offered by our licensed staff. MAT can prove to be a powerful treatment modality to getting a person into recovery. Getting diagnosed by a medical professional for various mental health or behavioral conditions can shed light on a person’s addictive tendencies. Once that issue is managed, it becomes more realistic for the person suffering from addiction to maintain recovery.
Intensive Outpatient Care offers all of the same benefits of our PHP while requiring less contact hours. While it is always better to opt for our PHP if you have the time, not everyone can make the full time commitment. Our staff is happy to accommodate your schedule.
Life can be complicated, and despite the overwhelming necessity for receiving addiction treatment in TN, there are some responsibilities that cannot be put on pause, such as caring for children. For those who have limited hours available, don’t let that be your excuse to avoid seeking out treatment—for you or for a loved one who may shirk off the need for treatment and cite a busy schedule.
Our OP is here for that reason! We are confident that even with just a few hours a week, we can help provide a framework for recovery. Making small steps towards recovery, no matter how small is far more important than big strides.
Contact Southeast Addiction today to make that critical step towards recovery by getting treatment for opioid addiction in TN.
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