Forensic chemist discusses current trends in opioid abuse
Opioid administration routes, production methods and commonly used opioids were described to professionals at Wisconsin EMS conference
MILWAUKEE — The many ways people use opioids and other drugs through ingestion, injection, inhalation and transdermal absorption were the focus of a lively presentation about opiate abuse trends from Lynn Riemer, a forensic chemist. The session, presented to EMTs, paramedics and medical first responders, was held during a full-day pre-conference session at the Wisconsin EMS Association Working Together Conference.
Riemer spent 12 years in federal and local law enforcement, including investigations of drug scenes. She started and is now the president of ACT on Drugs, Inc. She speaks nationally on substance abuse issues. The focus of her presentation was current trends in opiate abuse, including administration routes and production methods. Riemer also described the different types of opiates that are being abused and how they are being abused by opioid addicts.
Memorable quotes on opioid abuse
Reimer speaks to students, advocacy groups and medical professionals across the United States. Riemer, describing herself as the "Martha Stewart of met labs," had many memorable quotes. Here are a few of the most memorable quotes from Riemer's presentation.
"Throwing a drug addict in jail is not the answer."
"You stay in the cycle of addiction to not get withdrawal, (which is) the most God-awful part of addiction."
"Withdrawal symptoms from heroin will not kill you, but addicts will tell you they wish it would."
"U.S. consumes 80 percent of all the prescription pain pills in the world. All prescription pain killers are very addictive."
"When people want something they are going to find it."
Key takeways on trends in opioid abuse
Drug addiction is a disease that needs to be understood and treated. Here are four takeaways from Riemer's presentation.
1. Understand why people use drugs
People use drugs because it impacts the brain to make the user feel better or happy. Drug use also buries bad, sad or uncomfortable feelings. Drugs also lead to altered perception, spiritually or sensually.
2. Dope sickness drives continued use
The adverse effects of withdrawal from opiates are what drive addicts to continue using narcotics. When a narcotic addict is dope sick — in withdrawal — they are driven to resolving their withdrawal symptoms by finding and using an opioid available.
3. Fentanyl is biggest opioid problem in U.S.
Fentanyl has become the number one drug of abuse in the United States. It is used on its own or mixed into other drugs to increase potency. Variations of fentanyl or drugs being sold as fentanyl can be easily ordered online and shipped directly to the purchaser. Designer or chemically altered versions of fentanyl often require higher doses of naloxone.
4. Feelings need to be dealt with
Drugs aren't the answer to the problem of bad, defeating or negative problems. Riemer encouraged attendees to find someone to talk with about their feelings and deal with the underlying causes of their problems.
Check out these articles, videos, podcasts and other resources to learn more about the opioid overdose epidemic.
- 5 EMS safety tips to prevent carfentanil exposure
- Drug diversion legal brief for EMS leaders
- Why increasing access to naloxone doesn't enable addicts
- Inside EMS Podcast: Why EMS should treat opioid exposure as a hazmat scene
- How to effectively use naloxone in an EMS system
- Remember 2 Things: Narcan administration by EMTs and paramedics
- How to administer naloxone
- ACT on Drugs on Facebook