Tag Archives: addiction

When Doctors Become Addicted

Between 8% and 12% of people will develop a substance abuse problem at some point in their lives. Physicians are vulnerable to substance abuse at the same rate as the general population yet they have higher recovery rates. Doctors with the most addiction problems tend to be anesthesiologists, emergency room doctors and psychiatrists. However, they can be more reluctant to enter treatment because of the fear of losing their professional licenses. Many state medical boards run special treatment programs for physicians and others in the health care industry. Should they have specialized treatment? Listen in to this opiate recovery support group as they discuss this special population.

Discussion Guide:

Why would a physician be vulnerable to substance abuse?

What makes physicians better able to hide their addiction?

Should they have their own treatment programs?

Why would they have higher recovery rates than the general population?

Supplemental Reading:

Soumya Karlamangla, Doctors and Drug Abuse: Why Addictions Can be So Difficult, http://www.latimes.com/local/california/la-me-doctors-addiction-20170720-story.html

Dr. Oz’ On Air Intervention

It is a delicate matter to talk with someone about what you perceive as their shortcomings. This is especially true when you believe they are putting themselves in harms way with substance abuse. Formal, organized interventions may use "tough love"  to get the person with an addiction into treatment. This person may be confronted in a harsh or stern manner with the intent to help them in the long run. They may be presented with education, fear tactics, surprise, pressure, guilt, shame and resources. Dr. Oz orchestrated a public intervention on his nationally televised show. Listen to this support group discuss their reactions to Dr. Oz' intervention.

Discussion Guide:

Are you familiar with the concept "Tough Love"? If so, what is it?

Have you been the subject of an intervention?

If so, did you find the intervention more helpful or hurtful?

When people have expressed their concerns about your substance use, did they lean more heavily on "tough" or "love"?

Are you familiar with motivational interviewing, a counseling approach to help people work through ambivalence? What are the principles of motivational interviewing?

How would you advise someone talk to someone who has problems with substances?

Supplemental Reading:

Jami Wolf-Dolan, PsyD, What I Learned About Addiction From Attending the Dr. Oz Show, http://www.thefix.com/what-i-learned-about-addiction-attending-dr-oz-show

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?





What Do Drug Addicts Look Like?

We've all seen the before and after photos of the Faces of Meth campaign. The general public believes that drug addicts are poor, homeless, have poor hygiene, are skinny, have scabs on their face, dark circles under their eyes, bad teeth, and are males. There are negative consequences to this stigma. Listen to these opiate support group members talk about whether the perception is valid, why it might be true in late stage opiate addiction, and address the consequences of this stigma.

Discussion Guide:

What was your perception of what drug users look like before you developed an addiction?

What is your current perception of what an addict looks like?

Why would an addict look this way?

What are the negative consequences of this stigma?

Supplemental Reading:

Allison Tierney, Why We Need to Destroy the Concept of What a Drug User Looks Like, http://www.vice.com/en_ca/article/why-we-need-to-destroy-the-concept-of-what-a-drug-user-looks-like?utm_source=vicetwitterca

Public Policy: Which Approach Is Most Effective To Stop the Opioid Epidemic?

It is clear that the US is facing an opiate epidemic in which an average of 91 opioid-related deaths occur each day. It is not clear how to best stop the epidemic. In this podcast, we discuss three different approaches to this problem. Listen to this group of people who have been addicted to opiates give their opinions of which approach works, and which cause more harm.  

Discussion Guide:

Are you familiar with Gloucester's Angel Program in Massachusetts? Instead of being arrested, drug dependent people can present themselves to the police and get help. Do you think this is a good idea? What are the pros and cons?

There is a town in Fayetteville County, Ohio who charge overdose survivors with a misdemeanor after they have saved their lives with naloxone. Do you think this is an effective strategy to decrease deaths? What are the pros and cons?

US Attorney General Jeff Sessions spoke at an opioid awareness summit in New Hampshire. He said that the "Just Say No" campaign and D.A.R.E. curriculum were effective. However, this is not supported by research. Sessions thinks drug prevention and education is an effective way to stem the opioid epidemic.  Do you believe education alone is effective?

Which approach do you think is the most effective? What do you recommend?

Supplemental Reading:

Terry Weber, Gloucester's Angel Program Helps 260 in Four Months, http://gloucester.wickedlocal.com/article/20151030/NEWS/151039478

Philip Marcelo, Researchers: Gloucester's Angel Program Helped Nearly 400 Drug Addicts, http://bigstory.ap.org/article/731169b9ace54d808b53df2acc160b86/researchers-nearly-400-drug-addicts-helped-police-effort

Kelly Burch, Ohio Town To Criminally Charge Overdose Survivors, http://www.thefix.com/ohio-town-criminally-charge-overdose-survivors

Britni de la Cretaz, AG Jeff Sessions Talks Addiction Crisis At Awareness Summit, http://www.thefix.com/ag-jeff-sessions-talks-addiction-crisis-awareness-summit

Can We Predict If Our Children Will Become Addicts?

Every parent hopes their child will have a healthy and satisfying life. And their greatest fear is that their child will become a drug addict. Is it possible to predict this? Listen to this group talk about their experiences of their own addiction and their opinions on whether it can be predicted. And if it can be predicted, what are some protective factors?

Discussion Guide:

Is your family tree marked by addictions?

Do you believe your addiction is partly attributable to your family genetics?

Was your addiction partly caused by trauma?

Were you heavily influenced by your peer group and environment?

How would you protect your children from developing an addiction?

Supplemental Reading:

Can You Predict If Your Children Will Be Addicts? Addiction Unscripted, http://addictionunscripted.com/can-you-predict-if-your-children-will-be-addicts/

Sadie Ball, Is It Possible to Tell if Your Child Will Become an Addict?, http://www.parent.co/factors-that-can-contribute-to-future-addiction-in-children/

Couples with Substance Problems are Four Times More Likely to Divorce

Addiction disrupts relationships. It is a third party that interferes with the relationship and destroys trust. Did you know that couples with substance problems are four times more likely to divorce? One therapy model, the Gottman Method Couples Therapy, helps couples have conversations they have not been able to have, in a healthier way than was previously possible, when both partners engage in couples' recovery. Robert Navarra developed a therapy approach for couples who have been disrupted by an addiction, in conjunction with Dr. John Gottman and Dr. Julie Gottman. Listen in to this podcast as we discuss the elements of a stable relationship and tips for improving them.

Discussion Guidelines:

How has your addiction effected your primary relationships?

Does your partner have symptoms of second hand addiction, such as negative emotions, hypervigilence and chronic distrust?

Do you feel that you have good relationship skills?

Do you know what the characteristics of a healthy relationship are? What are they?

What makes it difficult for you to stay connected to your partners in a healthy way?

Supplemental Resources:

Robert Navarra, http://www.robertnavarra.net

John Gottman Ph.D. and Nan Silver, The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work

John Gottman Ph.D. The relationship Cure: A 5 Step Guide to Strengthening Your Marriage, Family and Friendships

John Gottman Ph.D. What Makes Love Last? How To Build Trust and Avoid Betrayal

Ask the Expert: Sarz Maxwell, MD on Dual Diagnosis

Dr. Sarz Maxwell is a psychiatrist who specializes in addiction. She joined our opiate recovery group to speak about Dual Diagnosis for people who struggle with both mental health and substance abuse issues. Listen in.

Discussion Guide:

Many people (75%) who abuse substances also struggle with mental illness. Is that true for you?

Have you received treatment for both?

Dr. Maxwell talks about medications that help vs. medications that work. Some medications mask the symptoms of psychiatric conditions and are therefore temporarily helpful, but don't treat the condition. Benzodiazepines don't work for anything (including anxiety) yet are widely used and misused. Have you used a benzodiazepine with the belief that it works? Have you become psychologically or physically dependent upon them?

Some people wonder about the chicken and the egg. Which came first, the mental illness or the addiction? Do you think one has to be treated first? Or at the same time?

Which of the mental health diagnoses do you think are the most prevalent among people with a substance abuse addiction?

If you are an opiate addict, you have a chronic illness and will have to battle the disease for a lifetime. The only question is whether you want to be winning or losing the battle. What do you intend to do to win the battle?

How long do you think you need to be on a medication to treat your opiate addiction?

What are the similarities and differences between Methadone and Suboxone?




Top 11 Reasons for Relapse

There are a million and one reasons why people who struggle with an addiction relapse. They can be categorized into 11 reasons. Listen to a group of people in recovery from opiate addiction discuss their reasons for having relapsed in the past.

Discussion Guidelines:

Here's a list of eleven common reasons for relapsing:

  1. Grief and Loss
  2. Environment (housing, finances, unemployment, drugs)
  3. Reward
  4. Relationships with Drug Users
  5. Overwhelming Stress
  6. Abuse or Trauma
  7. Pain Relief (withdrawal symptoms, emotional or physical pain)
  8. Drinking (can lower inhibitions)
  9. Revenge (oppositional defiance)
  10. Not Being Fully Committed
  11. Self-Sabotage

What were your reasons for relapsing in the past?

What might cause you to relapse in the future?

Do you have a relapse prevention plan?

In what ways can you further develop your prevention plan?

Which of these eleven reasons might cause early relapse and premature drop-out from treatment?

Supplemental Reading:

Common Relapse Triggers, Alcohol Rehab

Terence Gorski, How To Develop A Relapse Prevention Plan

What If You Don’t Stop All Substances?

Not everyone who enters drug treatment wants to be free of all substances. They may have a desire to cease the drug that is causing the most negative consequences.  Writer, Ross Fishman of THE FIX featured a father’s dilemma about Suboxone treatment and wrote his expert advice to the father.  In this podcast our members respond to the questions posed by the father who is concerned about his son who is opiate free but continues to abuse multiple other substances. Listen in to hear our group of recovering opiate addicts give their opinions and advice.

Discussion Guide:

Did you continue to abuse substances, other than your drug of choice,  on your path to recovery? (cross addiction)

How much control does the prescribing doctor have over cross addictions?

What is your advice to a father who asks “should my son stay on Suboxone if he is still using other drugs?

What are the pros and cons of stopping medication assisted treatment?

How much influence do family and friends have over an addict’s behavior?

Supplemental Reading:

Ross Fishman, Ask an Expert: Should My Son Stay On Suboxone If He Is Still Using Other (Non-Opioid) Drugs? https://www.thefix.com/ask-expert-my-sons-suboxone-treatment-working

The University of New Mexico, Center on Alcoholism, Substance Abuse, and Addictions (CASAA) Readiness Ruler, http://casaa.unm.edu/inst/Readiness%20Ruler.pdf