Iâ€™m a Recovering Addict, Child of an Addict and Psychology Major. I write this blog in the hopes that sharing my knowledge of addiction recovery can help people achieve a happy life in recovery. I want people to know they are not alone in this fight. This common struggle will hopefully bring us together so we can find support, in which we can gain the strength and the courage to keep fighting. I want this blog to help people understand addiction and inspire compassion within them for addicts. I hope to eliminate the discrimination and stigma of an already difficult struggle by raising awareness of the challenges addicts face, and hopefully increase peopleâ€™s acceptance of them. As a society, I believe we need to stop punishing addicts and increase our harm reduction efforts.
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Please don’t be so cool. I see it everywhere. People want to be cool. They do various hand gestures. There’s the peace sign, the victory sign. They speak in creaking, cool voices, as if they are holding smoke in their lungs from a deep puff. They walk with cool walks. Accessories and clothing must be […] The post Never Be Cool. Always Be Clean. appeared first on Recovering Addict...
Please don’t be so cool.
I see it everywhere. People want to be cool. They do various hand gestures. There’s the peace sign, the victory sign. They speak in creaking, cool voices, as if they are holding smoke in their lungs from a deep puff. They walk with cool walks. Accessories and clothing must be so very cool.
Cool can kill.
Always be cool is the code that actively using addicts live by. They must be hip, slick and cool. If you’re not cool enough, you can’t be in the club. Nerds and geeks not welcome. unless the nerd happens to be a doctor, nurse or paramedic administering Narcan to a cool addict who is overdosing. Cool for addicts is not cool.
Always Be Clean.
A much better way to live is to always be clean. Drop the cool. It’s not worth it. The tattoos and Harleys and leather are all great, but be careful. Cool may lead you back to a relapse. Don’t be too cool to ask for help. And, don’t be too cool to share how you feel.
Always be conscious.
A friend told me this. He said that after getting clean, we should try to be conscious of what we are doing and what happens around us. Be aware. Know what triggers you. See what helps you to move forward and what might take you back. Spend your time with the people who lift you up and not those who pull you down.
It is cool to not be cool.
You can drop the cool act and still be cool. These days, being uncool is cool. It is cool to be yourself. You can be who you are and follow your dreams. It is cool to do what you like to do. Be the person you dreamed of being when you were a little kid. Don’t be cool. Be clean. Be you.
Prone is a film about two people. First, there is an artist named Michelle. Michelle dreams of getting her artwork displayed in a prominent gallery to further her art career. She meets with a man who is able to make her dream come true. Unfortunately, this opportunity comes at a price. In order to get […] The post Prone: An Amazing Short Film About Addiction By Christopher Carson Emmons appeared first on Recovering Addict...
Prone is a film about two people.
First, there is an artist named Michelle. Michelle dreams of getting her artwork displayed in a prominent gallery to further her art career. She meets with a man who is able to make her dream come true.
Unfortunately, this opportunity comes at a price.
In order to get his help, she will be forced to compromise her own values. She will have to lie to her significant other and betray him. And, to get what she wants, she will have to comply with the wishes of this man in a position of power. While Michelle will be able to attain her goal, is it worth the cost? Would it be better for her to pass on this opportunity and be able to live with herself?
Addiction to power is also an addiction.
The man who made the proposal to Michelle to display her art displayed symptoms of addiction to power. He clearly had a history of using his position of authority to gain personal satisfaction at the expense of his victims. Unfortunately, we are now seeing real life stories such as this all over the news.
Pill addiction and romance.
The second story, which runs in parallel to Michelle’s story, is about Ryan, a pill addict. Ryan goes to an addiction counseling group. In the group, he is attracted to a woman who also attends the group for addiction therapy. Sadly, Ryan has issues with addiction to romance and possibly co-dependency in addition to drug addiction.
An intriguing film, written by a master of storytelling.
Christopher Carson Emmons wrote and directed Prone. He has also produced, directed, written and edited many other excellent films. The incredible thing about this film is how relevant it is in today’s world, considering that it was released years ago. Not only are we seeing abuses of power and sexual misconduct stories in the news, drug addiction has become a national epidemic and the number one killer in the United States.
Listen to an interview with Christopher Carson Emmons.
Here, you will find a fascinating podcast interview with Mr. Emmons. He discusses the art of film making and he makes some recommendations, including a great mainstream addiction film. I highly recommend listening to this interview and I recommend watching the incredible films of Christopher Carson Emmons.
The post Prone: An Amazing Short Film About Addiction By Christopher Carson Emmons appeared first on Recovering Addict Advice.
Having an addicted father is not easy. Addiction can tear a family apart and create serious turmoil. Young children suffer, not understanding what is happening around them. In the case of an addicted father, a child may see their dad acting strangely. Mom and dad fight for unknown reasons. Often, dad has to leave the […] The post Dad’s Addiction by Carolyn Hannan Bell: A book to teach your children about addiction appeared first on Recovering Addict...
Having an addicted father is not easy.
Addiction can tear a family apart and create serious turmoil. Young children suffer, not understanding what is happening around them. In the case of an addicted father, a child may see their dad acting strangely. Mom and dad fight for unknown reasons. Often, dad has to leave the home. If he can’t stop using drugs, he has to go.
It is never the child’s fault
Dad’s addiction to drugs is not something that his children can control. Children don’t always understand this. They cannot influence their father’s actions.
Dad’s addiction does not stop him from loving his children
Dad still loves his kids. Even if he is not around and he misses important events, he still loves them. The problem is that children don’t understand that addiction is a disease that changes their father’s behavior.
Dad’s Addiction: helping Children Understand Addiction
Carolyn Hannan Bell is the author of this excellent illustrated children’s book. You can find Carolyn’s books on Amazon. She is also a practicing psychotherapist in South Jersey. She works with families and individuals who suffer from the emotional effects of alcohol and substance abuse.
How to use this book
After you have purchased Dad’s addiction, the best way to make use of the book is to sit with your children and read it with them. Let them see the illustrations. Ask if they have questions as you read. This is an excellent way to open the discussion with your children about this difficult topic. This book can be useful for children of all ages. Even adults have found it to be helpful.
Understanding addiction helps prevent problems later on
When you help your children to understand that addiction is a disease, you are making an important difference in their lives going forward. Children must understand that they only have control over their own actions. There is nothing they can do or not do to change the behaviors of another person. Having this understanding helps to prevent children from growing up with co-dependency issues later in life.
I highly recommend Dad’s Addiction
Carolyn Hannan Bell has written an excellent book on the subject that is aimed at children of all ages. This book is an important tool for mothers dealing with this issue. While the book is specifically about an addicted father, the principles of the book could easily be applied to any situation in which an adult’s addiction affects a child. Please visit the author’s website here. To hear an excellent interview with the author, please visit The Rehab Podcast.
The post Dad’s Addiction by Carolyn Hannan Bell: A book to teach your children about addiction appeared first on Recovering Addict Advice.
Let’s put aside the topic of addiction treatment for a moment and talk about something much more interesting. I want to share a secret with you that could possibly help you to make a lot of money. You are not going to believe that this has been hiding from you in plain sight all these […] The post Survivorship Bias and Addiction Treatment appeared first on Recovering Addict...
Let’s put aside the topic of addiction treatment for a moment and talk about something much more interesting.
I want to share a secret with you that could possibly help you to make a lot of money. You are not going to believe that this has been hiding from you in plain sight all these years. Sit down, I am about to reveal a trick that could possibly change your life and make all of your dreams come true.
Every day, thousands of people win the lottery.
I’m not talking about the big jackpots. The odds against winning the lotto and powerball are far too great. To see where the winning is really happening for a lot of people, take a look at scratch-off tickets. These flashy little cards at the convenience store counter can be bought for as little as one dollar each.
And yes, thousands upon thousands of people scratch their way to winnings each and every day. A winning scratch-off can net a payoff of up to thousands of dollars. Some even offer the possibility of income for life.
Imagine if you bought ten tickets every day.
If each ticket won only $5, you would be profiting $40 per day. That is an additional $1200 per month income for just a few minutes of work each day.
Before get started, scratching your way to riches, I hope that you see the flaw in my logic. Even though thousands of winning tickets are scratched off each day, there are also millions of losing tickets. The deck is stacked against you. In fact, if you try the plan I just described for even a few days, it is unlikely that you will come out ahead, let alone get returns of 500% or more.
This is a ridiculous example of survivorship bias. Survivorship bias happens when we only focus on the successes and disregard the failures.
Another example is what happens when you walk into a new gym.
When you look around, you see people in incredibly good shape working out hard. Imagine that you walk up to a man with large, bulging muscles and almost no body fat. You ask him how he does it. “I just show up every day and do my routine. Anyone can do it.” You are inspired. But, is it true? Can anyone do it?
Yes, most of the men and women working out in the gym look great. But, before you sign up for a membership, think about the people you don’t see. How many hundreds, or even thousands of people have walked into this gym, signed up, and never achieved the results they had hoped for?
Why do gyms fail these people?
Did they just not work out hard enough? Did they not want it bad enough? The key to understanding success in the gym might be found in studying the failures more than the successes. Is it possible that genetics or upbringing or both affect personality and physical potential in such a way that some people are able to thrive in the gym and attain pro-level results? To promote gyms as successful vehicles for all people to develop near-perfect physiques is an example of survivorship bias.
Now, let’s get back to survivorship bias and addiction treatment.
There are spiritual fellowship programs that provide support and guidance in getting clean from drugs and alcohol. These programs employ a version of the 12 steps, originally developed by Alcoholics Anonymous. There are weekly and daily meetings in many communities.
You can find meetings of the major programs, such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA) in nearly every city and town in the U.S. and around the world.
Attending 12-step meetings are people with varying amounts of sober or clean time.
Often, a successful member will talk for the first half of the meeting. They discuss how they achieved success in accumulating clean time. The remainder of the meeting is open for other individuals in the group to speak.
12-step meetings can be inspirational, but can also, at times, sound like an extended infomercial. If you ask a group member after the meeting how to achieve success, they will recommend that you find a sponsor and work the steps.
When you listen to speakers at meetings, one thing you will not hear about is failure.
They may describe failures in their early attempts to get clean, but at some point, the speaker found success and stayed clean for over a year. How did they do it? Was it the 12-steps? Was it showing up to meetings every day?
While these activities may have contributed, the real reason that all speakers at a 12-step meeting have had success in staying clean for over a year is that the requirement for speaking is to have at least one year clean. That rule nearly guarantees that newcomers will only see success at the front of the room at every single meeting. It is just like the gym. Success appears to be the rule, not the exception.
If you have sat through many 12-step meetings over a period of years, you will notice that you get to know the successful people really well. You will get to know all of their names. In fact, they all fit easily in one room. Most likely, they don’t take up more than the first row of chairs. The rest of the people in the room are strangers. They come and go. Sometimes, they come around to the meeting for days, weeks or months, but eventually, they are gone and soon forgotten. Other newcomers take their place. Why didn’t it work for them?
They say that the failures did not want it badly enough.
Or, they were not ready yet. Some try, but they were not willing to work the program thoroughly.There are many reasons given for the failures. And, long-term group members will point to the overwhelming success of the program. Look around at all of the clean time in the room.
Yes, the level of success among the successful is high.
The ones who make it make it. The program works for the ones for whom it works. Is it possible that the people who do well in 12-step programs are predisposed to success in this particular environment?
Could it be that the people who enjoy speaking out loud and hearing the sound of their own voice have an advantage? What about people who like writing and exploring their self inventory, shortcomings and defects? There could be a great many variables involved. Is it possible that it takes a very specific type of person to quit drugs, go to a 12-step program, and achieve many years of clean time? For every success, how many don’t make it? It’s hard to say. No one is counting the failures.
Does this mean that if 12-step programs don’t work for you that you should just give up? Of course not.
There is more than one path to success. Some people find success through the practice of their religion. Others do well with medical treatment. Some people reach a point in their life where they have an awakening to the fact that there is no safety net and they stay clean no matter what. Everyone is different.
In conclusion, consider the possibility of survivorship bias when you hear people promoting their success with a particular program. Ask if there is any real data. Have scientific studies been done to support their claims? Find studies, if they exist, and review them for yourself. And, if something isn’t working for you, consider trying something else.
Success in life. Reba was a great success. She sold luxury homes for a living. You could see Reba’s smiling face on billboards and bus stop benches, all over town. Yet, Reba was not happy. In fact, she was living in a nightmare. Living in a dream. The preparations were complete. The beautiful modern mansion […] The post The Making of a Heroin Addict appeared first on Recovering Addict...
Success in life.
Reba was a great success. She sold luxury homes for a living. You could see Reba’s smiling face on billboards and bus stop benches, all over town. Yet, Reba was not happy. In fact, she was living in a nightmare.
Living in a dream.
The preparations were complete. The beautiful modern mansion was ready to show. The clients were on their way to the appointment to meet Reba. High ceilings, spacious rooms, A grand entrance way. In the back, the waters of the pool sparkled. Reba closed her eyes and imagined her own lifeless body floating in the water, discovered by her grief-stricken family. Holding everything together and hiding her secret was killing her.
In the beginning.
She remembered how it all started. While in high school, she was hanging out with her best friend, Toby one day. Toby lived in a big beautiful home. Reba and Toby went to a private school. Their parents were well off and made sure that their children had everything they wanted in life. That day, sitting in Toby’s room, Toby came back from the kitchen with a plate of brownies. They looked delicious.
“Fresh baked!”, said Toby, carrying the plate in one hand with a big smile on her face. “Take one”. Reba said, “No Thank you. I’m trying to watch my weight.” Toby popped a brownie in her mouth and said with a mouth full of brownie, “These are special brownies. They’re pot brownies! Don’t worry, these are totally legal in some states. It’s harmless.”
Entering the gateway.
Reba was scared. She had barely even tasted alcohol. Now, her friend was coaxing her to try marijuana. Reba felt pressured. She thought it over carefully. Everyone was talking about the many benefits of THC. She decided to go ahead and try it. Suddenly, Reba was chewing on a delicious sweet brownie.
Taking the next step.
Within about 40 minutes, Reba felt a little funny. It kept getting worse. She felt strange and a little paranoid. What if her parents found out? How could she go home like this? Toby had left the room. She came back in with a bottle and a glass. “I can see you aren’t handling it well. Maybe a drink will help.” Toby poured a shot of vodka for Reba. Normally, Reba would never accept an alcoholic drink. But, she wasn’t herself. She felt very strange and the world around her was also strange. She wanted to get out of this feeling right away. Reba grabbed the glass and quickly drank the vodka. It burned her throat, but she didn’t care. Then, Toby said, “take this too, it’s one of my mom’s Valiums” At this point, Reba wasn’t questioning anything. She popped the pill in her mouth and swallowed it without water.
The sick, paranoid feeling wore off. Reba felt better. A wave of smoothness came over her. She felt like everything was going to be fine. Reba and Toby sat around for hours talking and joking around about many things. They laughed and laughed together. As it began to get late, Toby asked Reba, “Do you want to go out tonight? I am hanging out with a few friends. It’s going to be a lot of fun.” Reba was very studious in high school. She was also socially awkward. The thought of hanging out with new kids would normally terrify her. But, now, she was relaxed and felt like she was suddenly cool. Also, she didn’t really want to see her parents in this state. Reba left a message for her mom and dad that she was going to stay over at Toby’s and have dinner.
What happened at the club.
Toby drove that night. They stopped to pick up Ally at her house. Ally came to the door and smiled when she saw Toby and Reba. She said, “Hold on, let me go get Molly.” A few minutes later, the three girls were driving to the club. Reba was confused. Who was Molly? When they got to the club, Ally said, “Don’t worry, I have a friend that is going to get us in.”
The three girls went to the bathroom together. The club was loud. There was blasting dance music and people dancing, drinking and talking everywhere. The place was packed. Reba had never seen anything like it. In the bathroom, the girls fixed their hair and makeup. Ally said, “ok, time to meet Molly.” She took out of her purse three big pills in a little zip locked baggie. “I brought one for each of us.” Reba was getting back to her senses a little and questioned the pills. “These are called Mollies? Are they safe? What are they.” Ally replied, “Don’t worry, they were invented for psychiatrists to help patients get over their problems relating to other people. You are going to have a great time tonight!” Reba wanted to have fun at the club. She decided to not question it. Besides, her two friends had already taken their pills.
The scary ride home.
That night, Reba had the most fun ever. She danced and danced all night with her friends. She felt like she was in love with everyone and she loved the club and the whole world. Everything was great. Ally kept bringing them glasses of water, saying that it was important to stay hydrated. Finally, long after midnight, the girls left. It had been a crazy night. Reba remembered that in the craziness of the club, she had kissed a man who she had never met. The Molly pill made her feel like she was in love with him. Driving back in the car, Reba wondered who he was. What if he had a disease or something? Also, she couldn’t remember if she had given him her phone number. What if this man started calling her at home? Then, her attention focused on Toby’s driving. She was all over the road. Reba now hoped that they would just all get home alive.
When Reba quietly entered her house, it was dark and quiet. No one was awake. She quietly slipped into her room and got into bed. Her head was pounding. She couldn’t sleep. There were sickly images of colored trains of shapes going through her head and the club dance music bouncing around in her mind. She couldn’t turn it off. She suddenly felt extremely depressed and alone. Reba started to cry. She didn’t realize that the pill was wearing off and she was crashing. The depression was a chemical response of her brain to a potent stimulant wearing off.
Over the years of high school and college, Reba had many more drug experiences. She still worked hard in school, but her grades had slipped. Her parents were concerned about her grades, but happy that Reba had opened up and was going out with friends more often. They had no idea that Reba was now taking drugs.
In spite of the partying every single weekend throughout college, Reba was able to hold everything together and pass all of her classes. She was getting Bs and Cs now instead of straight As, but she was fine with it. She just wanted to graduate. Her dream of being a scientist or a doctor had long faded. She decided that she wanted to sell houses. As a young child, Reba had enjoyed playing real estate agent and showing off her own house to her parents. She decided to honor her childhood dream and get her real estate license.
Success in real estate.
It turned out that Reba was good at selling houses. She started small and quickly moved up in the world of luxury real estate. The commissions were great. Reba was suddenly making a lot of money from her work. She felt as if she had made it in life. She could afford to travel, eat at fancy restaurants every night and she lived in a beautiful home of her own.
Along the way, Reba had discovered heroin. Throughout college, friends had offered her cocaine and heroin at parties. She would turn away in disgust and say, “I don’t touch that addicting stuff. No thank you.” Yet, during one night of partying with her business associates, someone was putting lines of powder on a glass table and several of the men and women were snorting the lines with a straw. Reba, who had been drinking the whole night at the party, asked if it was cocaine. One of the women looked up and said, “No, it’s heroin. way better than cocaine.”
Reba didn’t realize that heroin could be used that way. She had always associated heroin with the image of an emaciated druggie with scars all over her arms living under a bridge and eating out of dumpsters. She had thought of heroin as a dirty drug for low life people. But, here were her fancy real estate friends snorting lines of it off of a fancy glass table in a beautiful mansion. So, Reba decided it was ok to join in.
That night changed Reba’s life in an instant. Every drug she had tried in college paled in comparison. Suddenly, Reba was at peace with the world and she felt no pain, no anxiety. Everything was good. She had no idea that it was possible to feel so great. Maybe heroin was not so bad after all. She asked the woman who brought it where she could buy more for herself. “You are in luck! I know a guy who you can call anytime and he will bring as much as you need right to your house.”
The delivery man.
At first, Reba wasn’t comfortable with the dealer knowing where she lived. She had him meet at various cafes or gas stations. She met him in public places. It made her nervous when she would see a police car nearby. This went on for weeks and weeks. Reba couldn’t believe how great it was to be able to come home at night and relax with her new drug after a hard day of work.
One night, Reba decided to take a night off. She had been busy and didn’t have a chance to call the dealer man. As she was getting ready for bed, a sick feeling came over her. She was sweaty and nauseous and achy all over. Was she getting the flu? Reba decided that maybe a little heroin would make it easier to get through being sick. She called the man. Maybe it wasn’t so bad having him come by the house. He seemed nice and he did have a very nice car. Within an hour, the man drove up and delivered Reba’s heroin. He was very professional about it. He told her not to worry and that he could stop by any time she needed him to.
Trying not to get sick.
Reba was surprised to find that she suddenly felt better after snorting her first line of heroin. The sickness went away in an instant. What was that? She sat at her computer and Googled for answers. It was withdrawal. Reba realized that she was hooked. The sickness was her body responding to the heroin leaving her system. She learned that the sickness would have only worsened, lasting for days and even weeks. Reba was suddenly terrified of what she had become. She was a heroin addict and she had a dealer delivering heroin to the front door of her home.
Reba thought about asking her parents for help. They always knew what to do and how to help her get out of trouble. Then, she imagined the sickness. And, she thought about what life would be like without heroin. She couldn’t imagine not having her drug every day. It made life manageable. How was she ever going to enjoy anything ever again if she had to give up her drug?
Everything was fine for the next several months. Reba continue to work and thrive in her business. Every night was a relief to sit down and relax in front of the television with her bag of heroin. The dealer was reliable and showed up right away whenever she called. Money was not a problem. She was spending $200 every day, but she could easily afford it. That night, she had a date coming over. She wanted to finish her nightly ritual of heroin before he arrived. Reba used a little extra to help her relax for the date. She was nervous about it. The dealer had warned her to be careful with this batch, it was stronger than usual. Reba wasn’t concerned. She new how to handle herself.
The doorbell rang and Reba went to get it. Her date was at the door. He had a worried look on his face. “Are you ok?”, he asked. “Fine, come in for a minute while I get ready to go.” Reba invited him in and asked him to sit on the couch. She went to the bathroom to freshen up. Looking in the mirror, She had to admit, she looked a bit drowsy. Then everything went dark.
Suddenly, Reba was jolted from her sleep. She felt sick and anxious. It was like the sickness she felt that one night, but 100 times worse. What was happening? Reba looked around and realized she was surrounded by paramedics. She was on a stretcher. She noticed that her date for that night was standing off to the side. “He saved your life tonight ma’am. If you had been alone, you would be dead right now”, said the one of the paramedics. Reba was too sick to care about anything. She was wheeled out to the ambulance and taken to the hospital.
In the Emergency Room, there was no more hiding her problem. The doctor sat with her and asked her a lot of questions about her drug use. Reba couldn’t believe that her life had come to this. She was so embarrassed. She was supposed to go out on a date and now she was telling a doctor about her heroin habit. The doctor told her that there was help available. He recommended that she consider one of several medication programs to help her quit heroin. Or, she could check herself into rehab.
Reba refused help. She was not going to be one of those people who went to a methadone clinic every morning. Also, she could not afford to let her business fall apart while she sat in rehab for a month. She decided that she could beat this thing on her own. How hard could it be? Reba had succeeded in life and she was going to be a success in overcoming heroin.
After a week, the sick feeling had subsided enough that it was tolerable. Reba even sort of enjoyed the feeling of getting over the worst of the withdrawal symptoms. She was determined. Nothing was going to beat her. Reba counted the days and she was excited about her success. It was like being on a diet. A diet from taking drugs.
About a month after the overdose incident, Reba was doing great. She had been so terrified by what had happened, that the drug habit had been scared right out of her. She was reading motivational books and listening to motivational recordings. Little by little, life was getting back to normal. In fact, Reba was about to make a huge sale, the biggest yet in her career. If she could sell this one house, it would support her lifestyle for a long time.
The big sale.
The sale went through and Reba was delighted. Everything was going great for her. That night, Reba went home, beaming with a feeling of success. She sat on the couch and wondered what she should do that night. Maybe go out with some friends to celebrate? Visit her parents? Nothing really sounded that appealing. Maybe she would just stay home, watch TV and go to sleep.
Reba was sitting on the couch, playing with her phone and browsing through Facebook. As usual, there were friend suggestions presented to her in the app. The first guy’s picture looked familiar. Who was that? Wait! That was the guy who delivered heroin to her house! She decided to look at his profile. She looked through his friends list and pictures. He seemed like a normal guy. How was he a drug dealer? She was considering friending him on Facebook. Then, she thought, why not just give him a call? She had his number.
Making a bad call.
She dialed and he picked up after three rings. It was an easy conversation. He was friendly on the phone. She told him about the overdose and he sounded worried. “Didn’t I tell you to be careful with that batch? The stuff is stronger now. You get more for your money, but you have to be careful. Do you want me to bring some by tonight?” Reba’s chest tightened. She had a sick feeling. She had fought through the worst of withdrawal and come out on the other side. Why would she ever want to suffer like that again? She replied to him, “ok, come over. I’ll see you soon.” Reba decided she didn’t care. She was just going to enjoy tonight.
The delivery man returns.
When the man showed up, Reba asked if he wanted to come in for a minute. She showed him to the living room and they sat on the couch. Reba paid him and took her baggie. She proceeded to make a line of heroin on the table. She looked over and saw that the man was preparing a syringe and then putting a rubber tourniquet on his arm. He said, “This is the right way to do it. You are not getting the full effect that way.” Reba decided that if she was going to enjoy her one night, she would do it right. She asked him to help her with it. He showed her how to prepare heroin and inject it into a vein with a syringe and needle.
Reba discovered that night that her dealer was also able to supply her with sterile syringes and needles. He was right. It worked better that way. Reba called him again the next day. This continued for months. Reba was right back to where she started, but this time, she was finally shooting up heroin into her veins. Her arms were scarred from repeated injections. It was not a problem. Reba always wore long sleeved shirts and sweaters at work. No one would ever notice.
One day, she was preparing a beautiful home to show to some clients. She was all alone in the spacious mansion. Reba had done all of the work of making sure that the place was perfect to show. She decided to take a break and give herself a little shot in the bathroom. When she got there, she looked in her handbag. There was nothing. She poured everything out on the counter and realized that she had forgotten her heroin and kit back home. She panicked. There would be no time to go home before the clients arrived. She would just have to get through it.
Reba stood all alone in the house and finally realized what her life had come to. She was a financial success. She had a beautiful home and great friends. Her life was like a never ending party. But, now, she realized that she was also a heroin addict. A respected real estate agent who was preparing to show a luxury home to clients and all she could think about was her bag of heroin and the kit she had put together of syringe, needle, alcohol and gauze and all of the stuff she needed to shoot up.
What would happen next? Was there any way that Reba could get off of this addiction train? She had already tried to do it alone. She was also caught up in her own success. There was work to do, clients to meet. It was a lot of work, holding her life together. Reba remembered that the ER doctor that night of her overdose had mentioned something called Suboxone. She hadn’t bothered to look it up at the time.
Now, Reba decided to research Suboxone. It sounded pretty good. Suboxone had a relatively good success rate and it made it possible to continue with work and daily activities after getting started. This gave her a glimmer of hope. Reba was at the point of giving up on life. She had seriously considered suicide. Checking in to rehab was also a consideration. She would have to give up everything. But, Suboxone treatment offered the possibility of not dropping out and giving up her lifestyle and work.
She called the doctor’s office the next day to make an appointment.
Stay tuned for the next chapter in Reba’s Story.
Prayer and Medication: Can they work together? What is the best way to stay clean from drugs? What is the best way to quit using drugs in the first place? Is it prayer? Or, is medical treatment best? Maybe, it is some combination of prayer and medication. Prayer is a common theme that underlays most […] The post Prayer and Medication appeared first on Recovering Addict...
Prayer and Medication: Can they work together?
What is the best way to stay clean from drugs? What is the best way to quit using drugs in the first place? Is it prayer? Or, is medical treatment best? Maybe, it is some combination of prayer and medication.
Prayer is a common theme that underlays most of the 12 steps of NA. The the word, “prayer”, is only mentioned once in the steps. However, if you work the steps, your sponsor will likely instruct you to pray each time before putting your pen to paper. Prayer and having a connection with a higher power is an important part of recovery.
What about medication?
Specifically, what about medications that treat addiction? Methadone, Suboxone and naltrexone are medications that doctors use to treat addiction. Yet, 12-step programs preach abstinence. They stay out of involvement in medical treatment unless it comes to medical treatment for addiction.
If addiction is a disease, why is it treated differently from other diseases by the 12-step fellowships? A schizophrenic patient would not be told to stop his meds. Neither would a diabetic. Yet, an addict is not allowed to fully participate in recovery if certain medications are taken for addiction.
Then again, doctors do not prescribe meds like Suboxone for “addiction”.
Suboxone is often prescribed to treat F11.20. This is the diagnosis code for opioid use disorder or opioid dependence. The medical field does not use the word, “addiction”. You can make a strong argument for the unfairness of NA getting mixed up in the medical affairs of certain members.
Imagine an NA member named Joe. Joe gets up in front of his NA home group to accept his one year medallion, celebrating one year clean. He speaks about his success and mentions that he is prescribed Prozac for depression. The crowd is quiet. No big deal. A lot of recovering addicts take psych meds. It’s a war out there. Then, Joe says that he also takes Suboxone Film 8mg/2mg, once daily. Now, there is an uproar. What? Suboxone users are not clean! Take away this man’s medallion. Give him a white chip!
But wait, there’s more.
Joe shouts above the crowd that he is prescribed Suboxone off-label for the purpose of managing his chronic back pain. Joe was in a car accident ten years ago. He says that his doctor tried many different meds and found that Suboxone worked best for the pain. Now, a long-time member with many years clean stands up in the crowd. He yells for the crowd to quiet down. He tells the group to read the pamphlet, In Times of Illness. Medical treatment is an outside issue. As long as the medicine is not for addiction. Joe gets to keep his year and his medallion. He can now chair a meeting and even represent his group at the monthly area meetings.
Now, Caren gets up to accept her one year medallion right after Joe. Caren got clean at the same time as Joe. The members of the group fondly remember the two coming in from treatment and starting at this very meeting one year ago. Caren starts her acceptance speech by saying how relieved she is. She is happy to hear that the group is accepting of Joe’s medication use. Caren also takes Suboxone film 8mg/2mg once daily. She says that the treatment center started Suboxone to get her off of heroin. Her doctor felt that it was best to maintain treatment for at least the next year.
Again, the crowd goes wild with outrage and uproar. No, no, no Caren! It does not matter that you take the same exact medication at the same dose as Joe. Now, the group is involved in medical decision making for Caren. The conclusion is that Caren is taking her Suboxone to treat addiction. This is a no, no. Caren’s medallion is yanked from her hands by the nearest senior member. Sorry Caren, you do not get to chair meetings or represent your group at area. In fact, you can’t even make the coffee or set up the chairs before the meeting. You are not clean. Unfortunately, you take Suboxone for addiction.
Caren, with tears streaming down her cheeks, raises her hand. She shouts above the noise of the group that this is not fair. “I do not take Suboxone for addiction! I take it for opioid use disorder and opioid dependence. My doctor codes my diagnosis as F11.20. This code is not for addiction. I should be allowed to keep my year just like Joe”.
Now, Bill stands up to speak. He is a long-standing, respected member of the group with 35 years clean. Bill happens to take methadone 40mg daily for chronic pain. He takes pride in the fact that his dosage has not been increased in over 40 years. But, Bill’s medical treatment is not in question here. Bill says to the group and to Caren, “I know this code F11.20. I know all about these substance use disorders. It is the same thing as addiction. Joe’s condition is coded as G89.2, just like mine. That’s chronic pain, an outside condition as per the literature. Caren takes her Suboxone Films for addiction. Joe is clean and Caren is not.”
Caren walks out of the room angrily, mumbling swear words. She slams the door behind her. The group calms down now. The outsider is out of their midst now. Imagine the nerve of Caren to think she can claim clean time while taking Suboxone. Joe reminds those members sitting next to him that his situation is different. He takes Suboxone for an off-label condition that is not addiction-related. They nod in agreement.
Caren later relapses on heroin and she overdoses. Unfortunately, Caren did not realize that her tolerance would be lower after a year. Caren’s mother wants to know what happened. She angrily drives her car over to the medical doctor’s office. She reviews the medical chart with the doctor.
Why did the doctor recommend that Caren go to NA meetings? Clearly, there was a conflict with taking Suboxone and going to NA. The doctor explains that NA meetings are a part of recovering from addiction. Treatment centers take their patients to NA meetings. NA members even bring meetings to the treatment centers. In fact, the courts often make drug offenders go to NA meetings and get a paper signed after attending each meeting.
Then, Caren’s mother asks, why did the doctor put her on Suboxone in the first place if NA was going to have a problem with it. The doctor tells her that It is because Suboxone treatment has the highest rate of success of any form of treatment for opioid dependence. Caren’s mother asks the doctor why he couldn’t have coded Caren’s visit as G89.2 only. Caren did, in fact, have chronic pain issues as well. The doctor shook his head. Caren’s insurance would only cover Suboxone for an F11.20 diagnosis.
Prayer and Medication: They can work together with care.
This story is completely fictional. It is also preposterous. Yet, real life stories do play out similarly to Caren’s story. Medical treatment and spiritual programs of recovery sometimes clash over the issue of what NA calls “replacement medications”.
During these early decades of modern treatment for opioid use disorder, it is important that we take care in navigating the world of recovery, which is not all on the same page. These issues are very serious because of the deadly nature of misusing opiates and opioids. If you are receiving medical treatment, talk to your doctor before making any changes to your treatment. Do not allow people who are not your doctor to make medical decisions on your behalf.
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