September 28, 2017

Addicts Hurting Their Pups for a Fix

According to a recent New York Post article, addicts are now maiming their dogs to get Tramadol, so that they can get the drug from vets and get loaded.

This brings to mind that there is no length as to what an addict will do to get high.

I am a dog lover and a recovering alcoholic with over five years in recovery. For me, my dogs have provided canine therapy, which has helped my recovery.  So part of me cannot comprehend how a person can commit such a crime. But when I was actively drinking and broke, I do remember other crazy things that I did to get booze.

And what exactly is Tramadol used for?

For dogs, vets prescribe Tramadol as a pain medication. If the dog is suffering from cancer, has moderate to severe pain, is hurting from osteoarthritis, or has recently undergone surgery, Tramadol is often prescribed. Other uses of the drug for pooches include canine degenerative myelopathy (which is a deteriorating disease that affects the spinal cord), anxiety and coughing. And finally, Tramadol is used for canine injuries.

Usually, the dosage varies, depending on the animal’s weight. A Chihuahua will be prescribed a smaller dose than that of a pit bull.

For humans, Tramadol is also used for pain. As with dogs, sometimes cancer patients are prescribed Tramadol.

In the meantime, addicts have caught on that the same Tramadol used for dogs, is the same medication given to humans.

While Tramadol is one of the weaker opioid painkillers, it produces euphoria and a sense of calmness, which is why it is widely abused. Also once a person gets a prescription, it’s cheaper than other opiates.

But there are downsides. As with other drugs, a tolerance is quickly developed. When the drug is abused, addicts self-medicate with a higher dosage, as well as ingest the drug between shorter time intervals.

Clients who become addicted to other painkillers, including Vicodin, OxyContin and hydrocodone will try to get refills from a doctor. If they are chronic pain clients, chances are they can get their meds from one doctor, especially if they go to a government-funded clinic. Those who can’t get refills shop around for other unsuspecting medical professionals, and move from doctor to doctor, once refills are exhausted or if the doctor catches wind that they are abusing the medication.

And then there are addicts who purposely injure their dog to get Tramadol. A highly diligent vet will be wary from the get go, and study the dog’s injuries to see if they are manmade or if the dog got into a fight with another dog, or sustained a natural injury. Hopefully, if the vets detect mutilation, they can contact the proper authorities.

According to the New York Post article, one woman sliced up her dog’s leg with a disposable razor so that she could get her hands on Tramadol. It appears that the vet did not catch on at first.

He stitched up the dog’s injuries and as is usually the case, prescribed Tramadol for the pup.  Three days later, the woman came back and said that her child had flushed the Tramadol down the toilet. The vet gave her the medication. If he did not replace it for free, perhaps he gave her a prescription, because it’s cheaper to get the refill at a pharmacy than directly from the vet.  Shortly after that, she came back, this time with her dog, asking for more Tramadol. It was then that the vet became suspicious, especially after he checked the dog’s injuries and realized that the cut was “too clean.” He called the police.  The woman was convicted of obtaining narcotics by fraud. I wonder if he reported her to animal control or if she was arrested for animal abuse.

Part of me can’t understand why it took the vet some time to comprehend the events that were unfolding before his eyes. The fact that she told him that her child got a hold of the pills was another red flag.

And the vet himself said, that he could not believe that it took him three visits to see what was happening.

Chances are that the veterinarian had not previously encountered such an awful incident. Or perhaps he could not comprehend that someone could be so cruel to her dog. Many doggy owners who rush their pooches to the vet for a sudden injury, are worried to death and concerned about the animal’s well-being.

As for the addict? I would like to believe that if she was clean, and in recovery, that she would not do such a thing.

The Boston Globe recently reported another event in which a woman, whose dog was prescribed Tramadol for a long-lasting illness, became alarmed when she noticed that her beloved pet was not improving.  She then realized that a family member was stealing her dog’s pills!

Veterinarians need to become conscious of these horrifying incidents. Awareness is the first step to treating this problem because these occurrences are rapidly increasing across the nation.

Another tragic dilemma is the rising amount of human fatalities occurring from drug overdoses. The New York Post reported that every 15 minutes, there is an overdose death. The best solution to healing from substance abuse and co-occurring disorders is clinical, evidence-based treatment. The addicts, and their families need help.

Knowledge and treatment is the key to drug addiction.

According to the Boston Globe, the Massachusetts Veterinary Medical Association is working in conjunction with police enforcement, and the district attorney’s office to provide an outreach program designed to educate vets on drug misuse, which not only hurts dogs, but also hurts their owners. And the outreach program plans to publish handouts that inform state residents about opiates, including storage and disposal.

This outreach program would be valuable, on a nationwide level. Because without public knowledge, followed by proper evidence-based substance abuse and addiction treatment, the opiate epidemic is going to get worse.

And there will be more deaths.

Las Vegas Satellite Office

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