Monthly Archives: September 2016

Public Safety Alert: Carfentanil

Carfentanil is a synthetic opioid approximately 10,000 times more potent than morphine and 100 times more potent than fentanyl. It poses a public hazard not only to substance abusers, but to first responders, medical and substance abuse treatment providers and law enforcement personnel who may come into contact with this substance. Listen to a group of opioid addicts in recovery, talk about their experiences and knowledge of carfentanil. Be careful out there.  

Discussion Guide:

Are you familiar with fentanyl and carfentanil?

Have you used these substances?

Do you have a plan for the safe handling of these substances?

Are you or your family members trained in the use of naloxone, and do you have a naloxone kit readily available for a possible overdose?

Have you warned others about the dangers of these substances?

Supplemental Reading:

DEA Issues Carfentanil Warning to Police and Public, Drug Enforcement Administration,
More information about fentanyl, carfentanil and other dangerous synthetic opiates can be found at

Celebrating Recovery Achievements

For newer people in recovery, long-term drug abstinence seems like an impossible feat. Even getting through the day can be overwhelming. Seeing others celebrate recovery milestones and anniversaries helps enforce the fact that sobriety and recovery is attainable and that there is hope. In this podcast we celebrate our member's successes.

Discussion Guide:

What are your recovery successes?

What are the changes you've made with recovery?

What rewards would you find meaningful to mark your achievements?


Supplemental Reading:

Incentives Promote Abstinence, NIDA Director, Nora D. Volkow, M.D.

Can You Get and Stay Drug Free Alone?

What are the odds that you can overcome drug addiction alone? Some people have been able to achieve abstinence through sheer will power, but the majority of people cannot. Most people require the guidance of a treatment program. Recovery support groups help people feel that they are not alone, in a non-judgmental environment, where they receive education and tips for abstinence. Hearing other's addiction stories can serve as motivation and inspiration for abstinence. Listen to a recovery group talk about their opinions and experiences of getting sober, whether alone or with a treatment program.

Discussion Guide:

Have you attempted to withdraw from opiates alone? If so, was it successful?

Were you able to sustain drug abstinence without treatment?

What are the healing aspects of a recovery support group?

Have you disclosed and confessed your darkest addiction stories to someone? If so, was it a cleansing experience?

What healthy activities have replaced your drug use?

Do you have adequate tools in your toolbox to sustain recovery?

Supplemental Reading:

Jessica Taylor, Independent Recovery: Can You Get Sober Alone?, Can You Get Sober and Stay Sober Alone?

Ask the Expert: Dr. Mary Wenzel, Addiction Specialist

Dr. Wenzel, addiction specialist, is our clinic's Medical Director. She joined our recovery group for a question and answer session. Listen in as our members ask Dr. Wenzel questions related to medication assisted treatment.

Discussion Guide:

Is it acceptable to split one's daily dose of methadone? Under what conditions is it advisable to split one's dose?

Is it safe to take daily prescribed benzodiazepine medication in conjunction with methadone? What is considered an excessively high dose of benzodiazepine?

What is the best way to talk to your family about addiction medication and treatment?

What is Vivitrol and how does it work for opiate addiction?

When is an appropriate time to start tapering methadone?

If I am discharged after tapering methadone down to zero dose, and I want to return to to treatment, can I easily come back?

What do you recommend for side effects of methadone such as sweating, constipation and poor sexual functioning?

What are the pros and cons of switching from Methadone to Suboxone? Or, from Suboxone to Methadone?

LAAM was previously used as a longer acting medication for opiate dependence. Why was it discontinued?








Narcotic Prescribing Guidelines

Most people who take pain pills have no trouble stopping. But all too often, prescription pain killers fuel an addiction. Medical centers are tightening their policies on the administration of opioids in order to avoid addiction and overdose death. Listen to a group of people who are in recovery from opioid addiction talk about their experiences with prescribed medications. We review our local hospital's narcotic prescribing guidelines and patient contract.

Discussion Guidelines:

Did your addiction begin with prescription medications for an injury or medical pain?

If so, were you educated on the risks of dependency?

Was the education sufficient to avoid addiction, and were you receptive to the warnings?

Were you asked to sign a controlled substance agreement? If so, did you sign it in good faith with every intention of complying? Or were you manipulating the medical system in order to maintain your addiction?

In order to help others avoid addiction, what additional precautions would you recommend the medical centers enforce?

Supplemental Reading:

8 Rights of Medication Administration, Lippinicott Nursing Center,

Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies, Policy for Prescribing and Dispensing Opioids

Sample Opiate/Pain Management Agreement,

Addiction is a Family Disease

Addiction is a disease that affects the entire family. While the person with a substance abuse problem struggles to heal in recovery, family members may also need to heal and could benefit from counseling. Perhaps they experienced a disruption of family communication, trust, stress, and have resentments. Or, they may have been traumatized by an overdose. Listen to a group of people in substance abuse treatment discuss addiction as a family disease.

Discussion Guide:

In what ways has your addiction affected your family?

Who in your family was most negatively affected by your addiction? Who was least affected?

Do you believe that your treatment outcome will be improved if your family also receives treatment?

Has your family participated in your substance abuse treatment? If so, in what ways and was it helpful?

If you could design a family therapy session, what information or content would you want to cover?

Supplemental Reading:

Why is Family Therapy an Important Part of a Recovery Curriculum?, Black Bear Lodge,

Top 11 Reasons for Relapse

There are a million and one reasons why people who struggle with an addiction relapse. They can be categorized into 11 reasons. Listen to a group of people in recovery from opiate addiction discuss their reasons for having relapsed in the past.

Discussion Guidelines:

Here's a list of eleven common reasons for relapsing:

  1. Grief and Loss
  2. Environment (housing, finances, unemployment, drugs)
  3. Reward
  4. Relationships with Drug Users
  5. Overwhelming Stress
  6. Abuse or Trauma
  7. Pain Relief (withdrawal symptoms, emotional or physical pain)
  8. Drinking (can lower inhibitions)
  9. Revenge (oppositional defiance)
  10. Not Being Fully Committed
  11. Self-Sabotage

What were your reasons for relapsing in the past?

What might cause you to relapse in the future?

Do you have a relapse prevention plan?

In what ways can you further develop your prevention plan?

Which of these eleven reasons might cause early relapse and premature drop-out from treatment?

Supplemental Reading:

Common Relapse Triggers, Alcohol Rehab

Terence Gorski, How To Develop A Relapse Prevention Plan