E! Investigates: Prescription Drug Abuse in America
Waismann Method® Opioid Treatment Specialists are featured in an educational episode of the provocative national cable television series, “E! Investigates,” dedicated to prescription drug abuse in America. During this one-hour, in-depth episode, viewers will gain insight into Waismann Method®, the original rapid detox provider since 1998, as the producers follow one woman through treatment.
WAISMANN TREATMENT™, a pioneering medical opiate detoxification procedure, is performed in a carefully monitored hospital intensive care unit and involves the administration of medications to reverse the physiological dependence on opiates while the symptoms of withdrawal are addressed. During the procedure, the patient experiences minimal conscious withdrawal and will be able to return home within days. Seventy-five percent of the prescription drug dependent patients who are treated with the WAISMANN DETOX™ remain drug-free after one year.
Michael H. Lowenstein, M.D, Waismann Method’s medical director, said the company is honored to be involved in the project. “As an industry authority on opiate addiction, the Waismann Method is proud to be involved in helping thousands of people worldwide turn their lives around,” he said.
E! Investigates: Addicted to Painkillers (Part 1)
Dr. Michael Lowenstein: We’ve begun the detox procedure now.
Host: Leanna is the 26-year-old nursing student from Kingman, Arizona. She is also a single mother of two. We first met Leanna in October 2009. She was dependent on prescription painkillers.
Leanna: I’m constantly tired, I’m constantly fatigued. I’m constantly, like, agitated, always sick to my stomach, always I feel like I have the flu 24 hours a day.
Sue (Leanna’s Mother): Getting her to hold the meal down is quite an accomplishment. Even though she’s tired all the time, getting her to have a decent night’s sleep is is difficult.
Ashley (Leanna’s Friend): She went from being happy and yelling out loud to slowly being depressed. She cries a lot, you know, she feels bad. She can’t take care of her kids all the time like she wants to.
Leanna: They don’t want a mom that is sick all the time having to lay down and not take them to the park. Oh, I absolutely hate it. It’s ruined my life.
Host: Leanna’s pharmaceutical odyssey began three years earlier when she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, a debilitating chronic illness.
Leanna: I noticed that I started having tension headaches and then I started having problems with my legs. And it got to the point where it is really hard, you know, to walk.
That’s when Leanna received a prescription for Vicodin to control her pain. It worked wonders, at first.
Leanna: I was like walking on water. I can exercise. I could take the kids to the park, I could run. I could do all these things because I had no pain and it was nice and I wasn’t able to do that very often.
Sue (Leanna’s Mother): The medication did allow her to to function in a normal way. But then you build up a tolerance. The pain comes back, so with Leanna in order to keep the pain under control, her physicians would continue increasing the dose,
Ashley (Leanna’s Friend) : The Vicodin to the oxy, to morphine. It was just too much.
Dr. Michael Lowenstein: Overtime. You get to the point where it’s a no win situation. It’s just more and more medication to get less and less effect. Could the medications have caused changes in her nervous system that’s now making her pain worse?
Leanna: That’s a lot of throbbing, some areas stabbing. It could be anywhere, you know, today is my back or tomorrow with my legs or my neck. It’s just awful.
In March 2009, Leanna began using one of the strongest pain medications available.
Dr. Michael Lowenstein: Fentanyl is a very potent opioid medication, 50 times stronger than morphine, milligram for milligram. And what you see in her case and a lot of patients that they’re all physically dependent on the medication and they can’t get off it on their own.
Host: Leanna tried to quit the fentanyl patch, but she experienced severe withdrawal symptoms.
Sue (Leanna’s Mother): Her body reacted so violently. It was it was almost like waiting for her to go into seizures. It was horrifying to watch.
Leanna: It was awful. Couldn’t sit still, shaking, all of a sudden I was sobbing, sweating, freezing. No one could touch me because my skin was so sensitive, throwing up everything. My body is not mine anymore at all. It’s hard to deal with.
Host: Leanna was so desperate to get off narcotics that she decided to undergo a controversial form of detox. The procedure takes less than an hour, but cost twenty thousand dollars.
Dr. Michael Lowenstein: With the Waismann Method we’re initially treating the patient’s physical dependence, using both intravenous and oral medications so that we can essentially precipitate or accelerate the whole withdrawal process while the patients are comfortably sedated.
Sue (Leanna’s Mother): I believe that rapid detox is a perfect situation for Leanna because of her MS diagnosis. She has exacerbations of her symptoms when she is in long periods of high stress. The thought of her going through a 30 day, 90-day rehab situation really scares me because of the stress on her body.
Host: Still, addiction experts caution that removing the physical dependency is just one part of the process.
Nancy Szakacsy: Rapid detox won’t get you out of the cycle of addiction. It won’t keep you from relapse. Much more intensive treatment is going to have to take place.
Dr. Reef Karim: If you’re just doing, say, a rapid detox. And then you go back into your life and expect to reintegrate, you’re going to have a problem because you skipped a big, huge part of addiction recovery.
Leanna: There’s so many things that are going through my mind right now on what’s going to happen and how I’m going to feel. And it’s pretty hard to cope with right now.
E! Investigates: Addicted to Painkillers (Part 2)
Leanna: So I just got another fentanyl patch put on, hopefully it will be my last one. God willing, because I’ll have the procedure on Friday and that’s the same day I am due to put a new one on. So hopefully it will be the end.
Mike (Leanna’s Father): Lord, we thank you for just always being there for us, for being her strength, her comfort, her courage.
Leanna: Now I’m scared and nervous and leaving the girls was hard.
Leanna: (I love you, ok?)
Leanna: I’m tired and nervous and I don’t really want to be here right now.
Leanna: My name is Leanna, and when I was twenty-three, I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. I started on a low dose of Vicodin for pain control. Now I’m 26 and I’m addicted to the fentanyl pain patch, going to go through a rapid detoxification to see if I can get off of it.
In October 2009, Leeanna traveled 350 miles from Kingman, Arizona, to Long Beach, California, in order to undergo the Waismann Method of rapid detox.
Dr. Michael Lowenstein: When the patients are done with this procedure, they’re no longer opiate dependent. 72 to 74 percent of patients are still opiate free at a year.
Some experts question the Waismann statistics, citing the need for independent follow up studies.
Nancy Szakacsy: I think you have to have treatment that helps you until you can help yourself and you cannot get that in a quick fashion. So I’m not in any way supporting the quick fixes or the rapid detoxes, to me I’ve never seen them work.
Leanna: There’s definitely concerns about it. But I’m willing to just do this Rapid detox just because it’s worth the risk. It really is.
Leanna: Getting ready to go to the hospital.
Mike (Leanna’s Father): All right, a beautiful day for a detox, huh?
Leanna: Getting ready for all this to start. Physically, I hope that I do wonderful. But, you know, I can’t be any worse than I am now. And then when we see the sign of the hospital that just about made my heart stop. So now I’m not feeling so great. It was all talk before.
Mike (Leanna’s Father): A whole bunch of people here to drag you in.
The detox procedure will require Leanna to spend two days in the hospital.
Client Assistant: So this is going to be your unit right here. Unit B, and you’re going to be bed 5, so right this way.
Leanna: I was told to go ahead and take off my patch and they’re going hook me up to an I.V. So I’m going to rip it off. So this is hopefully my last patch. I will ever have to use.
Dr. Michael Lowenstein: Hi Leanna, how are you?
Leanna: Doing ok, how are you?
Dr. Michael Lowenstein: Good, thanks. I’m Dr. Lowenstein.
Leanna: Nice to meet you.
Dr. Michael Lowenstein: You too. so as we discussed, you’re on the opiates because of your treating your pain.
Leanna: For two years. I just did Vicodin, and then I got transferred to a pain doctor and within eight months I went from Vicodin to one hundred microgram fentanyl patch. I decided I didn’t want to be on the patch anymore and I took myself off of it. I had the worst like most violent withdrawals for like two weeks straight.
Dr. Michael Lowenstein: So we’re going to treat that opiate dependence. And my guess is you’ll be in significantly less pain and you can find none opiate ways to deal with your pain.
Leanna: Perfect. Well, thank you so much, Doctor and I will see you tomorrow morning.
And during Leanna’s first day in the hospital, nurses perform a battery of tests.
E! Investigates: Addicted to Painkillers (Part 3)
Mike (Leanna’s Father): Now and the process has started and it’s it’s it’s a great feeling, it really is, to see her resting here now, know that she hasn’t had her medicines today and that does my heart a whole lot.
Leanna: I’m tired, and nervous and don’t really want to be here right now.
Mike (Leanna’s Father): This is the big day.
Leanna: I know, I’m glad I’m here but on the other hand I just, I want to run away.
Dr. Michael Lowenstein: OK. OK, you ready to get sleepy? We’re going to take real good care of you, OK?
The rapid detox begins at eight-thirty a.m.
Dr. Michael Lowenstein: So we’ve begun the procedure now, Leanna’s sedated. We’re using enough anesthesia so that she doesn’t remember or doesn’t feel anything during the process. Right before she went to sleep, I gave her some blocking medicine that will remain in her system over time. And that’s the medicine she’ll take for up to nine months afterwards. That keeps the receptors full prevents the craving. We’ve begun administering the reversal medicine and the body is just going through the withdrawal process.
Dr. Michael Lowenstein: If you talk to people about withdrawal, they’ll tell you they have sneezing, shakes and chills, things like that, and I will see patients, they’ll sneeze several times. But the nice thing is that she’s stable medically. She’s very well controlled and she’ll have no recall of any of these little symptoms that she experiences.
Dr. Michael Lowenstein: So we’re almost done with the procedure. The reversal medicine is almost completely infused. At this point we’ll just turn the infusion off as its completed and then just monitor. There’s one to one nursing in the ICU overnight. So that’s it.
Dr. Michael Lowenstein: Yeah. Leanna, you’re all done the procedures over you did very well, just want you to rest and be comfortable and you did great.
Leanna’s rapid detox took only 40 minutes.
Dr. Michael Lowenstein: I feel Leanna’s prognosis is very good, she went through the procedure with no problems. Today, she’s no longer opiate dependent. She’s on the blocking medicine, which will treat her cravings, and then we can help her address what else is going on and to help her find non medication solutions to whatever else is causing her, her physical pain or emotional pain.
The morning after the procedure, Leanna is transferred from the hospital to a nearby recuperation facility.
David Livingston: Domus allows patients after the detox to come and recover physically and start to feel better before they go home. So it’s a transitional place where they get to really just concentrate on their sense of well-being.
It’s been 72 hours since Leanna underwent rapid detox.
Leanna: You know what’s really weird is this morning I was like, oh, my God, I don’t have a patch on my back, it like, hit me. It was amazing that I was fully functional without that on my back in two days. And I still have, you know, the little sticky tape right where it was, its that new. But I’m doing great.
David Livingston: Leann is very afraid of not knowing sort of physically how her body’s going to hold up over time. And she’s frustrated and angry that at such a young age she’s facing some chronic pain and a really debilitating illness. And her growth is going to substantially come from her ability to deal with the reality of her life.
Leanna: Being able to feel emotions, being able to feel, you know, good days, bad days. You never had that before. You just had a bad day. You just reach for Mommy’s little helper and you’re fine. And so I’m starting to acknowledge, you know, you’re in pain. You’re just gonna have to live with it.
Sue (Leanna’s Mother): When she comes home. It’s my my hope that she’s going to feel like a new woman. And of course, my hope is that she won’t be in pain. MS does have pain associated with it. There’s no way around that. And it concerns me thinking that she’s going to have to take care of that somehow.
Leanna: So I got to give myself strong and then I can go home and be a mom and go back to school. And one semester left and I got an RN. So this is what I have to do in order to get to the goal right there. Being a wonderful mom, active mom and getting my degree. And I’m doing it.
Waismann Method® is well known in the industry for providing a cutting-edge medical detox for opiates including fentanyl, OxyContin, Percocet, Vicodin, and Norco. Fentanyl is a very powerful narcotic medication that has a high potential for abuse, illegal diversion and addiction. As the number of cases of opiate addiction continues to skyrocket, the timing of this story has never been more relevant. Similar stories have been piling up in recent years as more and more people succumb to the devastating effects of prescription painkiller addiction.
So often, we hear about the celebrities who’ve struggled – or lost the struggle – with this insidious addiction. But people all over the world are finding themselves in this boat. Because of its potency and associated withdrawal, fentanyl addiction should be treated professionally. Fentanyl is branded as Duragesic, a skin patch that delivers the drug transdermally. It is used to treat moderate to severe chronic pain. It’s also marketed as Actiq, a solid form of fentanyl that comes in a lollipop and dissolves slowly in the mouth. It’s meant for opiate-tolerant patients and is used to treat breakthrough cancer pain.
The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency estimates that fentanyl has an analgesic potency “of about 80 times that of morphine,” according to its website. The most popular routes of abuse, according to the DEA, are intravenous injection, smoking, and snorting. Although the drug is widely available on the black market, most people who become addicted to fentanyl don’t intend to do so. Pain management can be difficult to balance because of the potential for addiction. Once tolerance develops with regular use, patients with legitimate pain often begin to take more and more to achieve relief. Addiction can take hold quickly.
For more than two decades, Waismann Method® has performed thousands of detoxifications, which have proven to be safe, effective, humane and discreet. We get patients back on their feet quickly with our procedure, rapid detox. The major points of difference between WAISMANN DETOX™ and other facilities are that we manage withdrawal to ensure safety and comfort, and we can accomplish a thorough detox in a matter of days.
E! Investigates: Prescription Painkillers premiered on January 08, 2010
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