Ask the Opioid Dependent Patient, Not Law Enforcement, About Incidences of Opioid Overdoses

Law enforcement is not in a position to know how many fatal or near fatal overdoses occur within their jurisdiction. We can’t rely on their statistics for an accurate count of how many people have nearly died. So where do we turn for more accurate figures? To the patients who are dependent upon opioids themselves. Listen in to the opiate recovery support group as they discuss attitudes toward Narcan.

Discussion Guide:

Have you suffered an overdose and been revived with Narcan? If so, were the police notified?

It is reported that a Sheriff in Butler County, Ohio refuses to equip his officers with Narcan. What are his concerns that would prevent him from doing so?

Other law enforcement departments are happy to have Narcan at their disposal. Why would they find it beneficial?

Why would law enforcement not be an accurate source of statistics on fatal or near fatal overdoses?

Supplemental Reading:

Gail Gabbert, Ask the Opioid Dependent Patient

Stop Using the Word “Relapse” for the Chronic Disease of Addiction. Instead use the phrase “Recurrence of Symptoms.”

The language we use to talk about addiction and recovery can cause personal shame and perpetuate public stigma against people with substance dependence. It is time to stop using the shame based word "relapse" for the chronic disease of addiction. Instead, use the phrase "recurrence of symptoms." It is more accurate, reduces shame and encourages people to re-enter treatment for a flare up when symptoms of addiction return. Listen in to this opiate recovery support group as they discuss this topic.

Discussion Guide:

What's the difference between stigma and shame?

Do you feel shamed by other's perception of your disease?

No one ever says "I want to be a drug addict one day." Yet, many people believe that you chose the life, therefore an addiction is your own damn fault and you have a moral failing.  How do you explain the process in which you became dependent?

No one is exempt from bias and stigmas, even within the recovery community. How do we best correct ourselves in order to stop reinforcing the stigma?

It is time to stop using the shame based word "relapse" for the chronic disease of addiction. No other chronic diseases refer to symptoms of their disease as a relapse. Instead, use the phrase "recurrence of symptoms." Do you agree?

Supplemental Reading:

Michael Weiner, PhD, MCAP, Eliminate Stigma from the Inside Out,

Snortable Chocolate is the Latest Craze

Perhaps it is a common human desire to alter our mood in any way possible. The latest craze is snortable chocolate. It comes by the name "Coco Loko" and "Infused Cacao Snuff" and some view it as "cocaine on training wheels" that will appeal to children. The FDA is is shutting down the company who markets it. Listen in to this opiate recovery support group as they discuss their opinions on the topic.

Discussion Guide:

Have you attempted to get high on novel substances? What were they?

Are you familiar with snortable chocolate? Have you done it?

What are possible negative consequences of snorting chocolate?

Do you agree with the FDA in attempting to shut down the manufacture and marketing of snortable chocolate? Why?

Supplemental Reading:

Keri Blakinger, FDA Moves to End the Sale of Snortable Chocolate,

What’s Up With Getting High In Public Restrooms?

Apparently, there is a gas station chain in the Pittsburgh area that is discouraging people who are dependent upon opiates from using their bathrooms. They have installed blue lights for the purpose of making it difficult for an IV user to see their veins. Listen in to this opiate recovery support group as they discuss their thoughts and experiences of using public restrooms.

Discussion Guide:

Have you utilized a public restroom to get high? If so, why?

Why do you think the public would not want you to use their bathrooms?

Would blue lights in a restroom deter you from getting high there?

Can you describe your decision making process regarding when and where to get high?

What are the risks involved in trying to use an IV needle in a dark room?

How does your IV use in a public place pose a threat to others?

Supplemental Reading:

Keri Blakinger, Gas Station Debuts Blue Lights To Fight IV Drug Use in Restroom,

Opioid Addiction Hotline – Would You Call It?

We live in a world where stigma prevents opiate addicts from asking for help. The state of Illinois launched a helpline to provide assistance to people who are dependent on opioids. 1-833-2FINDHELP is a confidential resource for people who want to locate a treatment facility. The aim of the hotline is to target opioid addicts for treatment and to curb overdose-related deaths. They want to make treatment easily accessible. Listen in to this opiate recovery support group as they discuss their experiences with hotlines.

Discussion Guide:

Have you called a hotline to ask for help? If so, was it helpful?

If it was not helpful, why not?

Have you resisted asking for help? Why?

What are the factors that would prevent you from utilizing the resources offered?

Are you familiar with the Safe Passage Initiative?

Would you present yourself to the police or sheriff's department and trust them not to charge you with a crime, and instead direct you to treatment?

Supplemental Reading:

Elizabeth Tomev, Gov. Rauner Launches 24/7 Helpline to Combat Opioid Epidemic, Help Illinoisans in Crisis,

Samhsa Treatment Locator,

Recovery Can Be Difficult Over the Holidays

Recovery can be especially difficult over the holidays due to family gatherings and stigma against medication assisted treatment. Listen in to this opioid support group as they discuss their handling of holidays.

Discussion Guide:

Is your family or social network supportive of your medication assisted treatment?

If not, how do you handle negative attitudes against your choice of recovery?

Do you have a prepared statement which can defuse a difficult situation?

If you have a supportive and warm family how did they come to accept you and your medication?

Supplemental Reading:

Promises Treatment Center, Tips to Support Recovery During the Holidays,

Do High Costs Prevent Poor People from Treatment?

According to the Centers for Disease Control, approximately 2 million people in the US are addicted to pain killers and half a million are addicted to heroin. However, there are only about 350,000 Americans utilizing methadone treatment, and 75,000 are getting treatment with Suboxone, according to Rockefeller University. Why don't more people access medication assisted treatment? Listen in to this opioid recovery support group as they discuss financial barriers to treatment.

Discussion Guide:

How much would you pay to be free of your opioid dependence?

How much are you able to pay?

Have you had difficulty accessing treatment due to lack of financial resources?

If you have health insurance, does it cover most or all of your treatment?

If your insurance no longer covered your treatment, what would you do?

Supplemental Reading:

Elizabeth Brico, The Cost of Addiction Treatment Keeps Poor People Addicted,


Rebuttal to an Abstinence Only Advocate

One of our group members wrote a rebuttal to a local newspaper column that had espoused an abstinence only view of opiate recovery. Our member wrote "It does no good to judge an addict on their form of treatment. What matters is if the treatment is successful or not." Listen in as the group discusses their views about medication assisted treatment and recovery.

Discussion Guide:

Have you utilized medicated assisted treatment for opiate addiction? If so, in your opinion, how does it compare to opiate abstinence without medication?

Have you been prevented from utilizing MAT (Medication Assisted Treatment) from someone in authority over you?

How do you combat negative and misinformed comments about MAT? What are the dangers of expounding a negative view?

How do you respond to the stigma against substance abusers as if it is a moral issue?

In what way is MAT similar and dissimilar to insulin for diabetes? Do you think it is a good analogy?

Have others implied that you should "man up" and stop using MAT? How has this effected you?



In the News: Duterte, Baking Soda Bombs, Narcan

Listen in to this opiate recovery support group as they discuss the news of the week. Narcan is now available at all Walgreens pharmacies; Duterte reluctantly ends the killing of drug users; and Baking Soda Bombs are the latest way to cheat a drug screen.

Discussion Guide:

Do you have a Narcan kit?

If not, do you know where you can get one?

Do you need a Narcan prescription in your state in order to get Narcan?

What are the pros and cons of drug screens?

Have you attempted to cheat a drug screen?

Have you heard of 'Baking Soda Bombs'? What are they?

Have you heard of the Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte's war on drugs? If not, check out our previous podcast on 2/7/17.

Supplemental Reading:

Bill Chappell, Narcan Opioid Overdose Spray Is Now Stocked By All Walgreens Pharmacies,

Paul Fuhr, Baking Soda Bombs Emerge As Latest Drug Test Trend in South Dakota,

Bryan Le, Duterte Ends Bloody Philippine Drug War,

President Trump Declared Opioid Crisis a Public Health Emergency

President Trump declared the opioid crisis a public health emergency. More than 140 Americans die every day from an opioid overdose. The nation's Public Health Emergency Fund has a current balance of just $57,000. But the opioid crisis is a $14 billion problem, at minimum. Listen in to this opiate recovery support group as they discuss how they would approach the crisis, if they had the funds to do so.

Discussion Guide:

Are you familiar with the declaration of the opioid crisis as a public health emergency? How is a public health emergency different from a national emergency?

What are the pros and cons of this declaration?

If you were in a position to change policy and were given funds to address the crisis, what strategies would you recommend?

Supplemental Reading:

Claude Brodesser-Akner, 7 takeways from Trump's opioids public health emergency: What it really means,