Monthly Archives: December 2016

Why Isn’t Narcan More Easily Accessed?

Narcan (also known as Naloxone) can be a life saver for someone who has overdosed from an opiate. Given the high number of overdose deaths, lawmakers created a path to make Narcan readily available at pharmacies. For example, California passed a bill that allowed pharmacists to dispense Narcan to people who may be at risk of overdose including their family members and friends. A prescription is not necessary provided the pharmacist completes an hour of training, agrees to train the recipient in its use, briefly mentions drug treatment options, and notifies the recipient's primary care physician. But, the problem is that even two years later, the pharmacies haven't followed through on the plan. It is not available. Listen in to an opiate recovery support group discuss this issue.

Discussion Guide:

Do you have Narcan? Where did you get it? Did your health insurance help pay for it?

Can you get Narcan from your local pharmacy?

What factors do you believe have prevented pharmacies from offering Narcan?

What are your state regulations on accessing Narcan?

I encourage you to contact your local pharmacy to ask if they distribute Narcan, if you need a prescription, and what the cost is.

Supplemental Reading:

Jonathon Sobotor, We Don't Do Narcan Here,

Drugged Driving: Safety Issues

Every day, 28 people in the US die in motor vehicle crashes that involve an alcohol-impaired driver. This amounts to one death every 58 minutes. Drugs other than alcohol (legal and illegal drugs) are involved in about 16% of those crashes. The effects of drugs differ depending on which substance, the amount of substance in your body, whether there are multiple substances used, and how the brain reacts to the drug. But all of these factors can cause impaired driving, and possible death. Listen to a group of people who have been addicted to opioids discuss their experiences with impaired driving.

Discussion Guide:

Have you been pulled over for impaired driving? Were you impaired? What substance had you used?

Do you believe you are driving safely while taking Methadone or Suboxone?

Under what conditions are you not a safe driver while taking your medication?

How do the following substances effect driving? Marijuana? Cocaine? Benzodiazepines? Methamphetamines? Cough syrups?

Do you know what tests are used by officers to detect a drug impaired driver?

What are the driving safety laws in your state?

Supplemental Reading:

Impaired Driving: Get the Fact, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Drugged Driving, National Institute on Drug Abuse,

Drug-impaired Driving, Wikipedia,


Are Doctors Too Quick to Prescribe and/or Too Quick to Terminate?

Medical doctors have been partially blamed for the opioid epidemic. But doctors can err on both sides of the continuum. They can be too quick to prescribe opioids and/or they can be too quick to terminate their professional relationship once they discover an addiction. What's the best response from a doctor when they learn that their patient is abusing their opioids? Listen in to an opiate support group talk about their experiences.

Discussion Guide:

Have you experienced unfair treatment from a medical doctor regarding the prescription of pain killers?

Have you received excessive amounts of a prescribed opiate from a doctor who was too easily manipulated?

Have you been harshly and abruptly cut off by a doctor?

What are the factors that influence whether you will receive a pain killer, if needed?

What are the factors involved in whether you will be terminated as a patient?

How do you believe a doctor should approach someone who they discover is abusing opiates?

Supplemental Reading:

Lembke, Anna, The Compassionate Doctor, the Narcissistic Injury, and the Prescription Opioid Epidemic,

Don’t Pressure Someone to Stop Suboxone or Methadone

Some people believe that medication assisted treatment for opiate dependence is just substituting one drug for another. This myth that can be harmful to the people who need these medications for their recovery. In fact, Suboxone and Methadone are life-saving medications for those that need them. There can be dire consequences to people who feel pressured to cease their medication prematurely, possibly even death. Listen in to a group of opiate addicts talk about feeling pressured to stop their medication.

Discussion Guide:

Have you been told that your medication is just substituting one drug for another?

Have you felt pressured to taper off your medication?

Have you felt shamed by other's in recovery for taking a medication?

How do you educate your family and friends about the benefits of Methadone or Suboxone?

Do you feel supported by others in your treatment program?

Supplemental Reading:

Alexander, Maksimilian In Defense of Suboxone,

Feeling Different from Sober, Drug Free People?

People who struggle with an addiction feel different from the norm. And in some ways, they are. Listen in to an opiate recovery group discuss their opinions and experiences of being different from sober, drug free people.

Discussion Guide:

What is different about people who struggle with an addiction and those who don't?

In what ways do sober, drug free people handle the following things differently from people who've had an addiction?

  • Money
  • Legal problems
  • Handling of crises
  • Gratitude levels
  • Hypervigilence to the social environment
  • Spirituality
  • Coping mechanisms

Supplemental Reading:

Kelly Fitzgerald, The 7 Biggest Differences Between Sober People and Normies,

How to Approach Someone You Suspect of a Drug Problem

So, you suspect that your friend has a drug problem. Should you intervene or mind your own business? If you decide to talk to them, what's the best way to do so? Listen in to an opiate recovery group discuss their opinion and share their experiences.  

Discussion Guide:

Did your friends talk to you about your drug problem? If so, was it helpful?

What are the signs of opiate abuse?

Have you talked to others whom you suspected had a drug problem? If so, are you glad you did?

How do you start this conversation? In what manner would you approach them?


Supplemental Reading:

Katie MacBride, Ask Katie: I Think My Friend Has a Drug Problem, Do I Confront Her?

Doctor Indicted for an Overdose Death

Generally speaking, an overdose victim is largely held responsible for the behavior that led to their death. But sometimes people who die by drug overdose are assisted by others. It is an especially sad incident when health care providers contribute to the deaths of their patients. In this podcast we discuss the death of Matthew Roberts, guitarist of 3 Doors Down, at the hands of his doctor, Richard Snellgrove. Where did the doctor go wrong? Listen in.

Discussion Guide:

Matthew Roberts died of a drug overdose on Aug. 20, 2016 and his doctor, Dr. Richard Snellgrove, has been indicted for unlawfully prescribing medication.

What could go wrong with prescribing Fentanyl, Hydroodone and Xanax?

What could go wrong by prescribing a controlled substance for no known medical purpose?

What could go wrong with prescribing medication to other people, knowing that they were intended for Matthew Roberts?

What could go wrong with having a close and personal relationship with your doctor who provides after-hour appointments?

What could go wrong with a doctor who is described as a "celebrity junkie"?

What could go wrong with a doctor prescribing medication to patients that he has not seen in person?

What could go wrong with writing a prescription to a second party because the insurance won't cover the medication for the first party?

Have you had any of these experiences?

Supplemental Reading:

Britni de la Cretaz, Doctor Indicted for 3 Doors Down Co-Founder Matthew Roberts' Fatal Overdose


The Brown Bottle, A Children’s Story

The Brown Bottle by Penny Jones is a 1983 children's book that helps young people understand addiction. It is an illustrated book about a caterpillar who is seduced by a brown bottle and fails to turn into a butterfly. Listen in to this podcast as the group talks about similar experiences in their addiction.

Discussion Guide:

Do you believe this is an appropriate book for children as an explanation of addiction? How have you explained your addiction to your children?

How did alcoholism sneak up on Charlie? In what way did your addiction sneak up on you?

How is Charlie seduced by the brown bottle?

Charlie's friends could not get him to leave the bottle. Have your friends tried to help you leave your addiction?

The Promise represents the process of caterpillars becoming butterflies. What does The Promise represent for you?

Charlie insists that he can leave the bottle at any time. Is this simply denial, or are there barriers to his leaving the bottle?

Charlie dies frail and alone. Do you believe your addiction would lead to death without intervention?

How can The Promise be fulfilled in your life?

Are there ways in which you are changing from a caterpillar to a butterfly?

Supplemental Reading:

The Brown Bottle, Penny Jones