Monthly Archives: February 2016

Are 12 Step Meetings Helpful for People Who Utilize Medication Assisted Treatment?

There are a lot of opinions about 12 Step Meetings. There are some people in the 12 Step community who believe that the use of medication, such as an antidepressant, methadone or Suboxone, means that one is not abstinent from substances. Therefore, people who utilize medication assisted treatment tend to shy away from this model of help. Listen to a group of people who are in recovery from opiate dependence discuss their experience of AA and NA.

Discussion Guide:

Have you attended, or are you now attending, 12 Step Meetings? As a medication assisted treatment patient, do you feel welcome there?

The 12 Step program is based upon spiritual principles. Do you consider yourself a spiritual person? If not, how do you handle this when participating in a meeting?

Do you find the 12 Steps helpful and useful?

Can 12 Step meetings address underlying mental health issues?

What do you recommend to your peers about how to best utilize AA and NA?

Supplemental Reading:

AA, Without the 12 Steps, by Hank Murphy


What Are the Presidential Candidates Thinking About Addiction?

The opioid abuse epidemic has been declared a public health emergency. So how are the presidential hopefuls intending to address it? Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, Ted Cruz, Bernie Sanders, Ben Carson, and Marco Rubio are the political front runners in our current presidential election, as of the date of this podcast. What are their positions on this epidemic? Listen to a group of people who are in recovery from opiate addiction discuss these politician’s proposed drug policies.

Discussion Guide:

Are you familiar with drug policies being proposed by presidential candidates?

Would America be protected from heroin if we tightened border control by building a wall? (Trump)

Would more people enter treatment if there were federal funds to pay for it? (Clinton)

Is it a good use of federal funds to ensure that first responders have Narcan to reverse opiate overdosel? (Clinton)

Would fewer people become addicted to opiates if drug prescribers had additional training on substance abuse? (Clinton)

Should drug treatment be favored over prison sentences for low level and non-violent offenders? (Clinton)

Will tightening  immigration regulations stop the flow of drugs from Mexico to the US? (Cruz)

Should pharmaceutical companies be monitored to ensure they don’t overcharge for life saving drugs like Narcan to reverse opiate overdose? (Sanders)

And should pharmaceutical companies be monitored so they don’t continue to produce and market substances of abuse without concern for negative consequences?  (Sanders)

Is it sufficient for people who abuse substances to examine their inner core, with the hopes of recovery? If this is a helpful idea, is it an adequate foundation for a drug policy? (Carson)

Are you politically involved? If not, why? What are the benefits of advocating on behalf of substance abusers?

Supplemental Reading:

The Presidential Candidate U-Turn on Addiction, Keri Blakinger


Environment: The Lure and the Trap of the Heroin World

We all know that environment plays a role in the development of substance abuse and addiction. Environmental risk factors are characteristics in a person’s surroundings that increase their likelihood of becoming addicted to drugs. But let’s talk about the drug world, and specific aspects of the heroin world. Writer, Jason S wrote, “You get into an addiction because of the lure of the drug environment, but once you are addicted, you prefer that environment. Only while you are under the influence of a substance is that environment cool. As soon as you have a clear and sober mind, you see that environment as disgusting.”

Discussion Guide:

Heroin has a stigma associated with it, even within the drug world, that sets it apart from other drugs of abuse. Why does heroin have a stigma?

It is said that the average person would not happen upon a heroin addiction. This is something an individual seeks out. People seek the drug knowing full well the notorious reputation. Did you stumble upon heroin use or did you seek it out?

Many people would want to try it based on the mysterious nature of the drug. They would want to see it, smell it, touch it, and eventually try it. Mystery is a powerful lure. Is this true for you? Why were you drawn to heroin?

Jason S wrote, “When I began to use drugs more and more often, I was finding myself in environments I never thought I’d be in. I became comfortable and ultimately never wanted to be outside of places that were promotional to drug experimentation. Where in my childhood I was around people with immense disdain toward drugs and users, I was now surrounding myself with people advocating drug abuse of the most hardcore order. ” Did you notice a shift in your activities and environment as your addiction progressed?


Credit and appreciation is given to author, Jason M. S. for his article “Environment”. However, his identification is withheld for purposes of confidentiality.

Desperation Fuels Addiction

Early stage drug abuse may be a result of self medicating in order to avoid psychological distress. But late stage addiction can cause a state of intense distress and desperation. Desperation will drive someone who is dependent upon opiates to act against their moral code, in order to maintain their habit, or for fear of withdrawal. And they may experience desperation when  they have exhausted all their resources and when they are forced to account for their actions.

Discussion Guide:

Does addiction cause you to feel desperate at times? How? Why?

Does desperation change the way you think, and change your priorities?

If you didn’t feel desperate, what would be different?

How have you justified your addiction in the past?

Drug abuse is attempting to fill a void. A person who is addicted to drugs has ‘surface reasons’ and ‘core reasons’ for drug use. Is there a core problem underlying your addiction that needs to be filled or healed?

Now that you are in recovery, do you still feel desperate? Do you still feel a void?

What healthy things do you do to fill a void?


Credit and appreciation is given to author, Jason M. S. for his article “Desperation”. However, his identification is withheld for purposes of confidentiality.