Monthly Archives: February 2018

Is Addiction a Choice, Disease, Both or Neither?

No one ever says they want to be an addict when they grow up. So how does it happen? Is it a choice or a disease? Listen in to this opiate recovery support group talk about whether addiction is a choice, disease, both or neither.

Discussion Guide:

Do you believe that addiction is a choice, a disease, both, or neither?

How would you characterize the beginning and progression of your addiction?

In what way was it a choice?

Would you say that addiction is an unintended consequence?

In what way is it a disease?

Supplemental Reading:

Derek Hobson, Is Addiction a Disease or a Choice?

“Don’t Run, Call 911”: Good Samaritan Laws

"Don't Run, Call 911" is the slogan for Good Samaritan laws. To encourage people to seek out medical attention for an overdose or for follow-up care after naloxone has been administered, 40 states and the District of Columbia have enacted some form of a Good Samaritan or 911 drug immunity law. These laws generally provide immunity from arrest, charge or prosecution for certain controlled substance possession and paraphernalia offenses when a person who is either experiencing an opiate-related overdose or observing one calls 911 for assistance or seeks medical attention. Listen in to our opiate recovery support group as they discuss a proposed bill in the state of Iowa.  

Discussion Guide:

Are you familiar with Good Samaritan laws?

Does your state have this protection? Do you know the parameters of the immunity in your state?

Have you called 911 when attempting to save someone from an overdose? If so, what was your experience?

Do you feel that the protections are sufficient to shield you from negative legal consequences?

Are there changes you would recommend to the existing Good Samaritan laws?

Supplemental Reading:

National Conference of State Legislatures, Drug Overdose Immunity and Good Samaritan Laws,

Shorter, or Longer Sentences for Drug Related Criminal Charges?

More and more people are seeking alternatives to incarceration for non-violent drug offenses. However, a new bill was introduced in New Jersey that would increase sentences, in some cases up to four times longer for people convicted of heroin or fentanyl related offenses. Listen in to this opiate recovery support group as the members discuss their opinions on this bill.

Discussion Guide:

What is your opinion on harsh sentencing for people convicted of drug-related offenses?

Would longer sentences serve as a significant deterant to drug use and sales?

Do you believe that incarceration offers effective substance abuse treatment?

Is treatment of opioid dependence different from treatment of other substances? And are prisons able to provide the gold standard of opioid treatment such as Medication Assisted Treatment?

What would you recommend as an alternative to incarceration for drug related criminal charges?

Supplemental Reading:

Britni de la Cretaz, New Bill Could Quadruple Prison Time for Opioid-Related Offenses,


Key Principles of Addiction

Key principles about addictive disorders can help us understand the complexities of recovery. Listen in to the opiate recovery support group as they share their thoughts on these principles.

Discussion Guide:

What are your thoughts about these key principles?

  1. Don't expect a sick brain to make a healthy decision.
  2. Always a part of the problem, it is difficult for family members of people addictive disorders to become a part of the solution.
  3. In the treatment of patients with addictive disorders, any therapeutic compromise is destined to fail.
  4. Never, never underestimate the additive power of alcohol and opioids.
  5. Don't expect a broken brain to fix itself by itself.
  6. People who are addicted to alcohol and drugs alienate all friends who are not themselves chemically dependent.
  7. Combining other personality disorders with addictive disorders is like combining jet fuel with a match.
  8. It takes one physician to withdraw a person from alcohol and drugs. It takes a "therapeutic village" to prevent his or her return to alcohol and drugs.
  9. Although a person with addictive disorders cannot recover without total abstinence, total abstinence does not constitute recovery.
  10. When a person with addictive disorders begins to recover, the dynamics of all important relationship also change.
  11. The discontinuation of alcohol and drugs lifts the veil of denial covering over the tragic consequences of addiction-related misbehavior.
  12. Even though the reasons for depression are understandable, treat the person for depression. (Antidepressants may be required at any phase of the treatment of patients with addictive disorders.)
  13. Alcohol and drugs of abuse will poison a person's assets.

Adapted from Stuart C. Yudofsky, Fatal Flaws: Navigating Destructive Relationships with People with Disorders of Personality and Character

Group Member Talks About his Relapse

One of our group members is overwhelmed with depression following the loss of someone he loves. It was more than he could withstand, and he turned to substances to cope. Thankfully, he returned to recovery group for support. Listen in to the opiate recovery support group as he talks about what happened and what he needs now.

Discussion Guide:

Describe a situation that caused, or nearly caused, a relapse.

What was your intention at the time? What did you want to have happen?

What was your belief about the situation? What were the automatic thoughts that came to your mind? Can you identify faulty thinking?

What were your feelings? What emotions caused you to be vulnerable at the time?

What was, or could have been, the negative effect of a relapse to yourself? To others?

What is your prevention plan? Identify the steps you will take to avoid a future relapse.