Tag Archives: substance abuse

Trauma and Addiction are Connected

It is not surprising that people who have been traumatized are more likely to abuse substances. For example, those who have been sexually abused are more likely to use drugs than the general public. It is said that they are 3.4 times more likely to use marijuana, 6 times more likely to use cocaine, 10 times more likely to use other major drugs. This podcast explores the connection between trauma and addiction. Listen in to hear this opiate recovery group discuss their experiences and opinions.

Discussion Guide:

Have you experienced trauma?

Do you believe the trauma predisposed you to an addiction?

What would you say the root cause of your addiction is?

Some say that you are as sick as your secrets. Have you had counseling to address the trauma?

If you went to rehab, were you in a dual diagnosis program? Was it helpful?

What would you look for in a counselor?

Supplemental Reading:

Jennifer Storm, How Trauma, Victimization and Addiction Are All Connected, http://www.thefix.com/how-trauma-victimization-and-addiction-are-all-connected

Kaiser Permanente, Adverse Childhood Experience (ACE) Questionnaire http://www.ncjfcj.org/sites/default/files/Finding%20Your%20ACE%20Score.pdf

Opiatesupportgroup.com Podcast, Childhood Trauma Is Found to Underlie Most Addictions, May 21, 2017

It Is Unethical and Inhumane To Withhold Narcan (Naloxone)

A stigma against people who abuse substances exists. Most often it is subtle, but now and then it is loud and ugly. Sheriff Richard Jones in Butler County, Ohio said that he will not equip his deputies with Narcan. "My officers don't carry Narcan, nor will they". He will change his position only if he is court ordered to begin carrying Narcan. Also in Ohio, Dan Picard, Councilman from Middletown, proposed a two strikes and you're out policy. He suggested that the council explore the possibility of denying emergency medical services to people who have sought overdose intervention twice before. Listen in to this group of addicts share their opinions on the matter.

Discussion Guide:

Have you overdosed? If so, were you revived with Narcan? How would you describe the benefits of Narcan to someone who is not familiar with it?

Have you experienced a stigma as a result of having a drug dependency? Please describe it.

If you, a close friend or a family member were denied Narcan and died as a consequence, what steps would you take to seek justice? And what steps would you take to ensure it doesn't happen again?

What are the underlying values of people who would withhold Narcan?

As the costs associated with overdoses increases, how do you think communities or the overdose patients should pay for it?

Some people think that withholding emergency medical response to overdose patients is manslaughter and premeditated murder. Do you agree or disagree?

Supplemental Reading:

Nick Wing, Sheriff In Heart of Ohio's Opioid Epdemic Refuses to Carry Overdose Reversal Drug, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/richard-jones-butler-county_us_595fb129e4b02e9bdb0c3b78

Corky Siemaszko, Ohio Councilman Sparks Fury After Asking If EMS Can Stop Responding to Overdoses, http://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/americas-heroin-epidemic/ohio-councilman-sparks-fury-after-asking-if-ems-can-stop-n778711

Am I An Addict? Coming to Terms with the Label

Rarely does one immediately identify themselves as having an addiction. The causes and progression of addiction are complex and unfold over time. Resistance to the label of addiction is common. Listen to this support group as they discuss their thinking as they came to accept the label of 'addict'.

Discussion Guide:

When was the point in your life that you accepted that you were addicted to a substance?

What was your thinking process as you came to accept that you were an addict?

What were the consequences of your drug use? Did the negative consequences present a red flag that you were addicted?

Did you compromise your values over time? Did this change of values present a red flag that you were addicted?

Did you lose control of your behavior? Was this a red flag that you were addicted?

What did your loved ones telling you? Was that a red flag?

What was your substance abuse trying to tell you? It could have been trying to tell you something about your life, something that needs to change, or a trauma that hasn't healed.

Have you participated in psychotherapy to address the underlying issues of addiction?

Supplemental Reading:

Sam Dylan Finch, 5 Better Questions to Ask Than 'Am I an Alcoholic?', http://www.thefix.com/5-better-questions-ask-am-i-alcoholic

Vivitrol Manufacturer Tries to Corner the Market on Opioid Medication Treatment

A drug manufacturer is at it again. Manufacturer, Alkermes, the maker of Vivitrol, is cashing in on the opioid epidemic. They are successfully lobbying legislation to pass bills in support of Vivitrol. Vivitrol is an opioid blocker which should prevent addicts from experiencing euphoria if they take heroin or pain killers. It also cuts cravings. These are also the properties of Methadone and Suboxone. Vivitrol is costly at $1000 for a shot that remains in the system for one month. Alkermes made $209 million in 2016 through their lobbying efforts coast to coast. They are alleged to be giving misinformation about Methadone and Suboxone and purposefully lobbying to restrict their use. Listen in to this opiate support group as they talk about this issue.

Discussion Guide:

Are you familiar with Vivitrol? What do you know about it, and have you been treated with it?

Do you believe that Vivitrol should be legislated for use, over Methadone and Suboxone?

What are the pros and cons of each of these medications in terms of cost, administration and adjunct treatment? (Vivitrol, Methadone and Suboxone)

What types of patients would do better on each?

Supplemental Reading:

Jake Harper, NPR, A Drugmaker Tries to Cash In On The Opioid Epidemic, One State Law At a Time, http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2017/06/12/523774660/a-drugmaker-tries-to-cash-in-on-the-opioid-epidemic-one-state-law-at-a-time

Should We Relax HIPAA Regulations to Allow Release of Information to Family Members When Someone Overdoses?

Health Insurance Portability and Accountabiity Act (HIPAA) regulates the confidentiality of health records. Presently, healthcare records cannot be released without the informed consent of a patient. Governor Chris Christie, who is leading an opioid task force, was asked to consider relaxing HIPAA regulations in order to allow family members to be informed of a member's non-lethal overdose. This knowledge could open the door to treatment options. Listen in to this opiate support group discuss their opinions.

Discussion Guide:

If you were to overdose and received services from a healthcare provider, would you want that information released to your family?

Under what circumstances would you want your family to be informed of your overdose?

What are the pros and cons of relaxing HIPAA regulations in the case of overdose?

Narcan (also known as Naltrexone) is a life saving measure. Do you have Narcan available? Have you instructed your family and associates in how to use it?

Supplemental Reading:

Erin Mershon and Andrew Joseph, Do Family Members Have a Right to Know When a Loved one Overdoses on Opioids? https://www.statnews.com/2017/06/13/overdoses-family-notification/

Grounding Techniques To Stop Cravings and Manage Emotions

Many people who abuse substances struggle with emotions. They may have numbed themselves to pain with the use of substances, and then feel uncomfortable with emotions in recovery. Cravings are a common phenomena in recovery. Listen and learn practical skills for coping with emotions and stop cravings.

Discussion Guide:

When you have experienced drug cravings, what have you done to cope with them in a healthy manner?

What techniques do you utilize to deal with cravings?

There are three different types of grounding techniques: mental, physical and soothing techniques. Which types are most effective for you?

What if the techniques don't work immediately? What should you do?

Supplemental Reading:

Grounding Techniques

Overdose: Condolences to One Of Our Group Members Who Lost a Family Member

By now, everyone is knowledgable about the high number of opioid overdose deaths and what public health officials are calling an epidemic. In spite of public awareness and prevention efforts, the death toll continues. In this podcast, one of our group members shares his experience of the recent death of his family member from overdose. Listen in to these group members as they offer support.

Discussion Guide:

Have you lost a family member or friend to opiate overdose?

How did it affect you?

Did you have any negative automatic thoughts?

What are alternate healthier thoughts?

What could have been done differently for the person who died, prior to the overdose?

What can be done for you?

Supplemental Reading:

SAMHSA Behavioral Treatment Services Locator, https://findtreatment.samhsa.gov/

SAMHSA Opioid Overdose Toolkit, http://store.samhsa.gov/shin/content/SMA14-4742/Overdose_Toolkit.pdf

Overdose Awareness and Use of Naloxone Test, http://www.opiatesupportgroup.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/Overdose-Awareness-and-Use-of-Naloxone-Test.pdf

SCARE ME, http://www.opiatesupportgroup.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/SCARE-ME.pdf

Dr. Oz’ On Air Intervention

It is a delicate matter to talk with someone about what you perceive as their shortcomings. This is especially true when you believe they are putting themselves in harms way with substance abuse. Formal, organized interventions may use "tough love"  to get the person with an addiction into treatment. This person may be confronted in a harsh or stern manner with the intent to help them in the long run. They may be presented with education, fear tactics, surprise, pressure, guilt, shame and resources. Dr. Oz orchestrated a public intervention on his nationally televised show. Listen to this support group discuss their reactions to Dr. Oz' intervention.

Discussion Guide:

Are you familiar with the concept "Tough Love"? If so, what is it?

Have you been the subject of an intervention?

If so, did you find the intervention more helpful or hurtful?

When people have expressed their concerns about your substance use, did they lean more heavily on "tough" or "love"?

Are you familiar with motivational interviewing, a counseling approach to help people work through ambivalence? What are the principles of motivational interviewing?

How would you advise someone talk to someone who has problems with substances?

Supplemental Reading:

Jami Wolf-Dolan, PsyD, What I Learned About Addiction From Attending the Dr. Oz Show, http://www.thefix.com/what-i-learned-about-addiction-attending-dr-oz-show

When Treatment Programs Are Abusive

It is a sad occurrence when people seek help and instead find abusive practices. Kenneth "Kenny" Chatman and his wife operated a sober home in Florida committing acts of human rights violations and fraud. He was sentenced to 27 1/2 years in prison and his wife could be sentenced to 10 years. Chatman pled guilty to money laundering, healthcare fraud and sex trafficking. He admitted he controlled his patients by taking their car keys, phones, medication and food stamps. He allowed his patients to do drugs in his sober homes, as long as they let him bill their insurance for treatment they never received. Some patients died. Hopefully, these crimes are few among recovery programs. Listen in to this opiate support group talk about their reactions and experiences in treatment. Warning: The content of this podcast may be disturbing.

Discussion Guide:

Have you experienced poor treatment in a recovery program?

If so, did you file a complaint, and did you receive a satsifactory response?

What are the pros and cons of informing the authorities about poor practices of the facility, staff or other patients?

Do you know how to find a reputable program?

Supplemental Reading:

Lawrence Mower, Sober Home Owner Kenny Chatman Pleads Guilty, Faces Life in Prison http://www.mypalmbeachpost.com/news/sober-home-owner-kenny-chatman-pleads-guilty-faces-life-prison/0YngSRJ4ZjbgfsO74e2neL/

Zachary Seigel, South Florida Sober Home Operator Sentenced To 27 1/2 Years, Crackdown Continues, http://www.thefix.com/south-florida-sober-home-operator-sentenced-27-12-years-crackdown-continues

What Do You Say to Someone Who Has Lost a Family Member to Overdose?

One of our podcast listeners asked the group for feedback. She recently lost her ex-husband to a drug overdose, leaving their son and daughter devastated by the loss. She wonders what could have gone wrong, and what prevention steps could've altered the outcome. Listen in to this support group as they give their opinions on what likely happened and what could've been done to help. Our hearts go out to Brooke and her family.

Discussion Guide:

Why would someone in a Methadone Treatment Program be so oversedated that they would have trouble staying awake, drooling, be difficult to arouse when sleeping, and awaken in a foul mood and lash out? Is this common with methadone?

What are common substances that will cause a vulnerability to overdose if mixed with Methadone?

What would motivate someone to take another substance on top of Methadone?

What are the signs and symptoms of overdose?

Do you have Narcan available in case of an overdose? Have you trained your family members in its use?

Grief is a normal reaction to loss. One aspect of grief is wondering if you could've or should've done more to prevent the death. Do you think that you can do something to prevent an overdose? What would you recommend to others?

Supplemental Reading:

SAMHSA Opioid Overdose Toolkit, http://store.samhsa.gov/shin/content/SMA14-4742/Overdose_Toolkit.pdf

Overdose Awareness and Use of Naloxone Test, http://www.opiatesupportgroup.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/Overdose-Awareness-and-Use-of-Naloxone-Test.pdf

SCARE ME, http://www.opiatesupportgroup.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/SCARE-ME.pdf