Monthly Archives: May 2017

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,

Overdose Awareness and Use of Naloxone Test,


Childhood Trauma Is Found to Underlie Most Addictions

It is no surprise that many people turn to substances in order to cope with difficulties. They want to numb themselves to emotional pain. A new study has found 10 types of childhood trauma that can lead to addiction as well as other harmful outcomes such as smoking, promiscuity, obesity, mental illness, heart disease, cancer, lung disease, and a shortened lifespan. The Adverse Childhood Experiences Study (ACE Study) is a research study done by Kaiser Permanente and the CDC. Listen in to this opiate support group  discuss this study. Take the ACE questionnaire in order to follow along.

Discussion Guide:

Are you familiar with the Adverse Childhood Experiences study? If you took the 10-item questionnaire, what is your score?

If you had a high ACE score, you experienced Post Traumatic Stress. This is a normal response to what you experienced, and your addiction is an understandable outcome. Do you believe this is true of you?

Addiction is a coping behavior you developed because you weren't provided with a healthy alternative. Have you learned healthy coping skills in recovery?

In what way does your ACE score and resiliency factors influence your recovery? Will it influence your compliance and length of time that you stay in treatment? The involvement in counseling and recovery groups? Your chances of relapse?

Supplemental Reading:

Jane Stevens, Substance-Abuse Doc Says: Stop Chasing the Drug! Focus on ACEs,

Kaiser Permanente, Adverse Childhood Experience (ACE) Questionnaire

What You Should Know About Methadone

Opioid addiction and overdose deaths are an epidemic. Methadone treatment for this epidemic is the treatment of choice. And yet, the stigma surrounding this effective medication keeps people from getting the help they need. Listen to this opiate support group discuss their experience of methadone.

Discussion Guide:

1. Methadone has been used to help treat heroin addiction and other opioid use disorders for over 50 years. Where and why was it developed? When was it first used to treat addiction?

2. Methadone is the most successful treatment option for opioid misuse, period. What research and statistics back up this assertion?

3. Methadone is a medical treatment for a medical condition. Why wouldn't you treat it with a medicine?

4. Propaganda and stigma prevent many people from seeking MAT and can contribute to people leaving treatment early. Has the stigma against Methadone caused you to consider tapering your dose for a premature discharge?

5. Relapse is much less likely to result in a fatal overdose because Methadone provides a protective barrier. What is meant by a protective barrier?

6. Methadone, as a controlled substance, is one of the most tightly-regulated medications in the United States. And yet, a stigma persists that it is easily abused. Why?

7. Methadone isn't right for everyone. Who would not be appropriate for Methadone assisted treatment?

Supplemental Reading:

Jeremy Galloway, 7 Things You Need to Know About Methadone Treatment,

Warning: New Opioid Related Memory Loss Syndrome

Public health officials in Massachusetts recognize a new opioid related "reportable disease" called CHIAS (complete hippocampal ischemic amnestic syndrome). The CDC published a paper on 14 cases of memory loss from damage to the hippocampus. There are lots of theories on the relationship between opioids and the damaged brain. Listen in to this recovery support group as they discuss this topic. 

Discussion Guide:

Have you, as someone who has abused opiates, experienced any mysterious illnesses? 

Have you had experienced episodes of amnesia? 

What is your theory of why someone would develop this disease?

1. Opiates contaminated with a toxin?

2. Genetic predisposition that makes them sensitive to something in the drug?

3. Repeated use of fentanyl which causes respiratory depression, which could weaken the hippocampal neurons over time?

4. Loss of oxygen from overdose, which could damage the hippocampal cells, leaving the rest of the brain unscathed. 

5. The consequence of exposing the brain to opioids, again and again?

Supplemental Reading:

Azeen Ghorayshi, The Fourteen Who Forgot,

Should You Tell Your Doctor That You Are Taking Methadone or Suboxone?

Some people prefer not to tell their doctors that they are on medication, such as Methadone or Suboxone, because they fear discrimination. But they may also believe that coordinating Medication Assisted Treatment services with your physicians is important for adequate care. This is a difficult decision with possible negative repercussions. Listen in to this opiate support group discuss their opinions on this dilemma.

Discussion  Guide:

What are the pros and cons of informing your doctor about MAT (Medication Assisted Treatment)?

If you are taking a medication such as Methadone or Suboxone, have you informed your doctor?

Are you comfortable telling your physician your private matters?

Does your physician treat your addiction as a disease, or a moral condition?

Have you been discriminated against when professionals learned of your recovery treatment? What happened?

Supplemental Reading:

Karla Lopez, Deborah Reid, Discrimination Against Patients with Substance Use Disorders Remains Prevalent and Harmful,

Ask the Expert: Dr. Sarz Maxwell Talks about Addiction Treatment

Dr. Sarz Maxwell, psychiatrist, stopped by to talk to the support group. She addressed various types of treatment for opioid addiction. The most frequently recommended treatment for opioid dependence is detox. The problem is that detox is offered as if it were treatment. But detox is not treatment, it is a procedure. Listen in to hear what she has to say about the cause of opioid addiction, the course of its progression, and its treatment.

Discussion Guide:

Name all the different types of treatments for opioid addiction that you are familiar with. Which did you try?

How is detox different from treatment?

What do you believe causes opioid addiction? Brain chemistry, hereditary factors, trauma, stress, or other pre-existing conditions?

Which contributed to your personal addiction?

How long does current research recommend you stay in treatment?

Are there negative, long term consequences from Methadone and Suboxone?

If there is no magic cure for your disease, what is your long term plan to manage it?