Monthly Archives: March 2016

Virtual Reality Headsets Can Be a Helpful Recovery Tool

Researchers at the University of Houston have developed a study on the use of virtual reality headsets to help heroin addicts kick their addictions. People who are addicted to opiates can practice drug refusal skills while in this virtual drug world. Or, at worse, it could stimulate cravings, leading to relapse.

Discussion Guide:

In your opinion, what are the pros and cons of this virtual reality tool?

Do you have strong drug refusal skills?

Do you believe you would be susceptible to cravings and relapse if you were immersed in a virtual drug world?

Would you recommend this tool to people in early stage recovery? Late stage recovery?

Supplemental Reading:

Virtual Reality Could Help Researchers Understand Heroin Addiction, Jon Herskovitz,


Safe Injection Sites for Heroin Users

Europe, Australia and Canada operate facilities where injection drug users are monitored for safety while injecting substances. These facilities offer medical care such as wound care, testing for diseases, needle exchanges and referrals to treatment if wanted.  It is based upon a harm reduction model, which is based on interventions for those who are unable or unwilling to stop, in order to keep them safe. According to research there is a 35 percent reduction in heroin overdose deaths, the transmission of infectious diseases is greatly reduced, and neighborhoods are cleaned up of discarded needles. I’m reading news articles that Ithaca, New York, Massachusetts and Seattle are considering the benefits of these sites.

Discussion Guide:

In your opinion, what are the pros and cons of injection sites?

If you had an opportunity to make use of an injection site, when you were in active addiction, would you do so?

If you were an active drug addict and had access to an injection site, would it help you or prolong your drug use?

Would you support changes in United States law to open injection sites?

Supplemental Reading:

Massachusetts Needs Safe Injection Sites, Boston Globe

Are Safe Injection Facilities for Heroin Users a Step in the Right Direction?

Seattle Could Be the First City in the U.S. to Host Safe Injection Sites for Heroin Users, Casey Jaywork,

Is a Painful Detox Really a Blessing in Disguise?

People who are addicted to opiates have likely tried to stop their drug use on their own, only to find themselves in intense and prolonged withdrawal. Many return to the substance in order to stop the pain and return to a normal level of functioning. They learn to fear detoxification. But the detox process can serve as a purification of the body, mind and soul. It clears a path to recovery. And the fear of detox can also motivate the opiate dependent person to refrain from future use, once they have completed detox.

Author, Jason M.S. wrote “my opinion, based on my experiences, is that going through a period of detox, whether under supervision or alone, is far more beneficial and empowering for the addict to get sober and stay sober, than if they were to never experience the painful, traumatic, and ultimately purifying experience of detoxification.”

Discussion Guide:

Have you experienced withdrawal from opiates without the use of medication?

Were you able to successfully finish a self administered detox?

Did it serve as motivation to refrain from further use of opiates?

Would you say that the suffering from detox was helpful to recovery?


Credit and appreciation is given to author, Jason M. S. for his article “How Hurting Helps: Benefits of Detox”. However, his identification is withheld for purposes of confidentiality.


Opiate Addiction Is Different from Other Addictions: Physical Dependence

Addiction to opiates, such as heroin and pain killer medications, are more complex than addiction to other substances. Other substances do not cause intense physical withdrawal symptoms from abrupt cessation of the substance. People who suffer from opiate addiction face a multi-layered challenge in recovery, where those suffering from other addictions have to deal primarily with psychological dependence.

Discussion Guide:

What is the difference between psychological and physical dependence?

Can you identify which substances you were psychologically dependent upon, and which you felt physically dependent upon?

How long of a period did you use opiates before you became physically dependent upon them?

Once you overcome a physical dependence upon opiates, is it tempting to switch up to a difference substance that is less physically risky?

There is one reason why a person does not abuse substances: they don’t have to. A user takes drugs because they feel they have a reason to. They have a psychological void to fill. Is that true of you? What was the nature of your void?

Supplemental Reading:

Credit and appreciation is given to author, Jason M. S. for his articles Why Heroin Addiction Is Unlike Other Drug Addictions and Opiates Go Deep.  However, his identification is withheld for purposes of confidentiality.


The Importance of Emotional Muscle

No one gets through life without experiencing hardship. Drugs of abuse tend to flatten emotional range which can serve to protect the user from distress. One of the tasks of recovery is to learn to deal with emotions without turning to an over-use of pills, such as anti-depressants or anti-anxiety medications, or switching their drug of choice. Emotional muscle is required for a sustained recovery. Without emotional muscle people in recovery are prone to relapse.

Discussion Guide:

When you were abusing substances, did you notice that your emotions were numbed?

Did you notice a return of strong emotions when you ceased abusing substances?

Have you experienced difficulties during recovery that you could not cope with? Did it cause a relapse?

Do you have coping skills and tools to manage distress?

Are there new tools you would like to develop?

Supplemental Reading:

Stress Management: How To Reduce, Prevent and Cope with Stress, by HelpGuide.Org

Emotion Focused Techniques for Stree Relief, by Elizabeth Scott