A Brief Lesson in the War on Drugs

War on DrugsSince the war on drugs began almost 50 years ago, we have learned much about the science of addiction. Today, we know that when an adolescent is exposed to substances that produce pleasure chemically, the individual’s brain undergoes permanent changes regarding their balance of pleasure and pain. The typical response to substances that cause the release of unnatural levels of dopamine can lead to a lifelong compulsion to use substances to cope with the demands of daily life.


It doesn’t matter what the drug of choice is – the result is the same. The individual will use the drug repeatedly, regardless of the unpleasant consequences. This habit is the heart of addiction. It is a lifelong condition that requires lifelong attention and, in many cases, lifelong treatment. It’s important to understand that punishment – even the threat of jail time – is not a deterrent for a person who is struggling with addiction. Conventional logic cannot sway the parts of the brain driven by addiction. Punishments may make the punishers feel as if they have more control – but they do nothing to address the real problem.

How the War on Drugs Was Born 

That’s why the war on drugs is such a controversial topic. Like any war, we can view the war on drugs through very different lenses. President Richard Nixon started this war himself in 1971 when he signed into law the Comprehensive Drug Abuse and Prevention Control Act. He also established the DEA (Drug Enforcement Agency). These actions were in response to so many soldiers returning home from the Vietnam War and turning to illicit drugs as a way to cope with the atrocities they’d witnessed and experienced. Drug use skyrocketed, from marijuana to heroin.

The Futility of Criminal Punishment 

The war on drugs prompted two distinct schools of thought regarding what the primary focus should be. The first was an attack on the availability of illegal drugs. Allocate more efforts and resources toward making these drugs harder to access, said this school of thought. Regulate and criminalize the drugs themselves. This initiative comprises all the efforts to control the transport, sale, and distribution of illegal drugs – both in the US and across borders.

As the Reagan administration continued this fight and even scaled up efforts to reduce the supply of drugs on our streets, our prisons overflowed. In fact, the US now has the highest incarceration rates in the entire world. One in five people in prison is there for a drug-related offense, with nearly half a million people incarcerated for nonviolent drug offenses, such as possession or trafficking. The problem with imprisoning individuals who are addicted to drugs is that it simply doesn’t help. Withdrawal in prison can be dangerous, drugs are readily available in prisons anyway, and most incarcerated addicts – fully 95% – will resume using their drug of choice after their release.

The Rewards of Real Help

Also, studies are showing us that most individuals who suffer from addiction have a common thread of child trauma. The dopamine release they experience from the first onset of drug use provides a reward so pleasurable that it helps them cope with this trauma and then often the desire for more develops a dependence that they become an addiction. From the knowledge of associated childhood trauma and early exposure, the other school of thought approached.

This thought was instead of working so hard to keep drugs out (which isn’t working), we should be focusing on reducing the demand for these substances – we spend our energy and resources on making people want drugs less. We accomplish a lower demand for drugs through education, prevention, early intervention, and long-term treatment.

This approach – education regarding the risks associated with recreational drug use and early intervention before drug or alcohol use becomes a problem – has been shown to be highly effective. Unlike punishment, which is a reaction to the problem after the problem has already become advanced, education helps prevent the problem in the first place, early intervention keeps a small problem from becoming a big one, and long-term treatment programs support addicts over the months and years as they rebuild their lives.

The Future of the War on Drugs 

As the battle rages on in the US, the struggle over the right allocation of resources will continue. There are countless possible approaches to find the appropriate balance, but the future of prevention must include more education, early intervention, and chronic disease management. Just like the management of a physical disease such as high blood pressure, addiction recovery requires lifelong attention.

At Pathway Healthcare, we believe in the science-backed methods of education and long-term rehab programs. Because addiction is different for each person, we use an individualized approach when it comes to helping our patients. We provide highly effective treatments for addictions to substances such as alcohol, opioids, and other drugs in a professional outpatient environment. We invite you to get in touch if you are experiencing a struggle with addiction and require assistance. We treat all our patients with respect and work to remove the stigma associated with addiction. Contact us today for real help.

Facts About Roxicodone You Should Know in 2020


Roxicodone, often called “Roxy” or “Roxi,” is a popular prescription medication whose addiction rate continues to grow by the day. Here is what you need to know about Roxi in 2020.

What is Roxicodone?

Roxicodone is a prescription medication used to alleviate severe pain. It is used when other non-opioid painkillers cannot effectively manage pain. The semi-synthetic opioid analgesic contains highly addictive properties, and it falls under DEA’s Schedule II narcotics.

What is the difference between Roxicodone and Oxycodone?

When defining Roxicodone, it is vital to mention that the chemical works by affecting the central nervous system, unlike Oxycodone, which is used for sustained pain relief. Roxi is an immediate-release tablet for relief against moderate to severe pain. Although Roxicodone is an effective moderate-to-severe chronic pain reliever, the immediate rush of pleasure it induces makes it highly addictive.

Information about Roxicodone addiction

Prescription drug addiction tends to go unnoticed. For some people, Roxicodone abuse may not be an issue as they follow their physician’s instructions. While some individuals may innocently begin their addiction journey, its consequences can be fatal.

Roxicodone addiction develops gradually, making it hard to notice for a casual observer. For instance, some people develop Roxi tolerance, requiring a higher dosage to gain the same pain-relieving impact. To reach their previous level of relief, they graduate to a non-prescribed dosage, and the body develops dependence. What’s more, the euphoric feeling may provide a pleasurable effect for some users, and even after the physical pain is gone, they continue to use it to numb emotional pain.

How do you know if someone is abusing Roxicodone?

If you are worried that you or your loved one is abusing Roxicodone, here are the early tells;

  • Frequent trips to the medicine cabinet, resulting in the use of higher doses, on a more frequent basis, than prescribed
  • Taking Roxi in an unprescribed or potentially more addictive manner such as crushing and snorting, smoking, or by injection
  • Using Roxicodone without prescription

Symptoms of someone abusing Roxicodone

Roxicodone abuse symptoms vary by both the individual and the amount taken.

Moreover, factors such as body tolerance and frequency of use also play a role. However, common signs and symptoms of Roxicodone can be categorized into disturbances of (1) mood, (2) behavior, (3) psychological functioning, and (4) physical functioning. Here is a look at some of the signs and symptoms.

  • Mood Disturbances: Mood swings, anger, irritability, anxiety, and depression.
  • Behavioral Disturbances: Nervousness and restlessness; loss of appetite; tampered and forged prescriptions; using more than one doctor for prescriptions; impaired performance of daily activities; borrowing or stealing prescriptions from colleagues or family members.
  • Psychological Disturbances: Psychotic symptoms, such as delusions and hallucinations; confusion; and “brain fog” (experienced as a clouding of consciousness).
  • Physical Disturbances: Fatigue, dizziness, lightheadedness, extreme weakness, increased respiratory infections, constipation, increased sweating, chest pains, seizures, and cardiac arrest.

Roxicodone abuse could rob you of your health, relationships, and financial performance, all at the same time. In the quest for a better tomorrow, it is critical to consider addiction recovery options. Since withdrawal symptoms could be a challenge, it is advisable to seek professional help from a reputable recovery institution.

If you or your loved one is on their recovery journey, do not hesitate to contact Pathway Healthcare for professional help. We will aid you through the journey of recovery and help you implement strategies and structure that will support sobriety and discourage relapse. You can count on us to support you or your loved one through this challenging but necessary undertaking.

Opioid Takedown

On Wednesday, April 17th, 2019 the Appalachian Regional Prescription Opioid Strike Force charged 60 people in 7 states as part of the largest government takedown during our National Opioid Epidemic. The charges were for illegally prescribing and distributing millions of pills such as opioids, benzodiazepines, and other drugs.

Among the defendants were 53 doctors, pharmacists, nurse practitioners, and other medical professionals. A fair question after removing so many doctors, pharmacists, and medical professionals from their posts is what does this mean for those patients and communities?

For the patients, it means an opportunity for better, safer treatment. Access to quality, evidence-based care, and treatment for those who are fighting an addiction to opioids or other drugs is essential. For the communities, it means they too will become safer. One of the doctors charged was accused of prescribing opioids in exchange for sexual favors. Others were providing staff with blank pre-signed prescriptions to offer to patients, and another doctor was prescribing a single patient 15 opioid pills per day. Some of the accused doctors were providing prescriptions to personal friends who paid and Facebook friends. It’s discouraging to hear how doctors, who are to be trusted with our personal health and safety took advantage of people in vulnerable positions. No doubt creating some doctor-induced opioid addictions for their own prosperity.

The treatment of opioid use disorder (OUD) has come a long way over the past 50 years. We now have an excellent arsenal of therapies to combat this chronic, but deadly disease. OUD, like other addictions, can be successfully managed but there is no cure and relapse is always a threat. Like other chronic diseases, the clinical progression of addictive disorders, including OUD, can be best characterized by periods of exacerbation and periods of remission but the patient is never disease-free.

For too long, those in the fight of their lives over an opioid addiction thought when the supply of opioids tightened their only option was to turn to the streets or wake up at 4am to stand in line at a for their daily dosage of medication. This just isn’t right quality care is affordable and available. It’s time that those of us not fighting this addiction realize we are graciously only one injury away from not being prescribed the same pain medication that caused the battle of addiction these same, good people are suffering from today. It’s vital to lay the stigma surrounding addiction to rest and be committed to supporting those with substance abuse disorders find a treatment that is evidence-based and effective.

Today, we have strong evidence supporting the use of basic medication approaches to the treatment of opioid use disorder. Two of these medication approaches is partial agonist therapy in the form of buprenorphine, and antagonist therapy in the form of naltrexone.

It is essential to understand that there is not a “one size fits all” approach to treating the complex disease of addiction. Peer support groups such as AA/NA may work well for some, while others may respond better to individualize, private counseling. Some patients will respond best to naltrexone while others may require treatment with buprenorphine. Throughout their disease, the treatment drug of choice may even change. Patients may need to stabilize on buprenorphine then move to antagonist therapy with naltrexone. The process may reverse itself requiring the patient to go back to buprenorphine after a period of stabilized care on antagonist therapy or complete abstinence from all medication. No single FDA approved drug class used in the treatment of OUD is the best option for all patients. It is vital that doctors and patients have access to medications like naltrexone and buprenorphine to employ the use of the right medication for the right patient at the right time.

It is also crucial that treatment providers be in constant review of best practices. As a treatment provider, we are committed to bringing access to the best, evidence-based care to those who need treatment for OUD and other substance abuse disorders. Our biggest obstacles often are the policies that are set in place to protect communities. We have the opportunity to treat in several states, and every state has different procedures for governing treatment. It’s never without difficulty and obstacles that we work hard to help the addiction community recover. Like the laws that determine our speed limits, we must be willing to be advised to caution our pace in effort to protect those around us, not just ourselves. At Pathway Healthcare we understand we must follow all relevant federal and state laws and requirements and we maintain high standards within our programs as an effort to remain committed to the rights of our patients and reach as many people as possible with the very best, evidence-based care available.

Find a Pathway Healthcare treatment office near you.