Category Archives: recovery

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.


White House Opioid Commission Top Recommendations to President Trump

The United States is facing an opioid overdose epidemic. We look to our government to alleviate this crisis. Michael Botticelli was an American public official who served as the director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) from March 2014 until the end of President Obama's term. Since that time, the Trump administration has had difficulty filling that office. Listen in to this opiate recovery support group as they discuss their opinions of this office and public policy recommendations.

Discussion Guide:

What qualifications do you believe a Drug Czar should possess to be effective in that role?

What government policies could have helped your recovery?

What recommendations would you make to President Trump to alleviate the opioid epidemic?

Supplemental Reading:

Robert O'Harrow, Jr, Meet the 24-year-old Trump Campaign Worker Appointed to Help Lead the Government's Drug Policy Office,

Mary Louise Kelly, White House Opioid Commission Presents Final Recommendations to President Trump,

Aly Semigran, New Strategy Protects Police Dogs from Opioid Overdoses,

Don’t Feel Trapped by Your Medication, Get Out There and Travel

I've heard it said that Methadone is like "liquid handcuffs". This stigma prevents many people from the benefits of medication assisted treatment. People who take Methadone, Suboxone or Vivitrol can still be active, travel and have a full life. Listen in to the opiate recovery support group as they discuss their experiences and aspirations while in MMT.  

Discussion Guide:

What's on your travel bucket list?

Do you have a desire to travel to other countries but find your medication prohibitive? Is your medication a barrier to travel?

Have you Guest Dosed at a another location? What was your experience with that?

Are you familiar with other countries guidelines on importation of Methadone/Buprenorphine? What would you like to know?

Supplemental Reading:

Methadone/Buprenorphine International Travel Guide Index,

Counteracting Media Bias and Sensationalism

Sensationalism is a type of editorial bias in the media in which events and topics are over-hyped to catch attention. This misrepresentation often happens in the case of addictions in general and with heroin dependent people in particular. Many news features and photographs are designed to shock. Certainly there are unethical addiction treatment centers but the vast majority of facilities are professional and closely follow federal and state regulations. Photos of the opioid crisis feature IV needles and people passed out or dead. So what can be done to reverse this negative perception of this disease and treatment? Listen in to this opiate recovery support group as they discuss their experiences and opinions.

Discussion Guide:

Have you read negative portrayals of addiction treatment in the news more often than hopeful and inspiring stories?

Would you agree that the majority of photos pertaining to the opioid crisis perpetuate a negative perception of people dependent upon opioids?

Often heroin addiction is depicted in Hollywood movies in a way that sensationalizes and glamorizes an addiction lifestyle. Why do you think this is?

 Do you believe there is a bias against treatment clinics as disreputable?

What are the costs to the recovery community of this bias?

What can be done to counteract this bias?

Supplemental Reading:

Julie Miller, Behavioral Healthcare Executive,

Couples In Recovery: You Will Either be Clean Together, Use Together, or Not be Together

Couples who enter treatment together are warned "you will either be clean together, use together, or not be together." Listen in to this opiate recovery support group podcast as a married couple discusses their recovery struggles and successes.

Discussion Guide:

Are you in a love relationship with someone who is also in recovery?

If so, would you say that you are a good influence, or bad, to each other?

What are the recovery struggles that you've experienced?

What are your recovery successes as a couple in recovery?

Supplemental Resource:

Recovering Couples Anonymous,

When Children Abuse Prescription Meds

We don't expect children to purposefully abuse prescription medications. The discovery of two middle school students who were found to be under the influence of an opiate took the community by surprise. Listen in to this opiate recovery support group as they discuss prevention issues for youth.

Discussion Guide:

How old were you when you started to abuse opiates?

How did you access them?

Are you familiar with pharm parties? Have you attended one?

What do you recommend as prevention against substance abuse for children and adolescents?

Supplemental Reading:

Jacqueline Covey, School District to Address RX Abuse, http://www.clintonherald.c

Jacqueline Covey, Middle School Town Hall Talks Prescription Abuse,