Tag Archives: drug abuse

Group Member Profiles: What’s Their Story?

Our group received an email this week from Dan. He wrote "I have listened to every one of your podcasts and I really enjoy them. The one thing I have noticed is that we never learn about the stories of how the people in the discussion got addicted in the first place. It would be nice if any of the members would be willing to talk about their histories. Keep up the good work and thank you for what you all do." Dan asked for it, and we delivered. Listen in to hear three group members share their stories.

Discussion Guide:

What is your addiction story?

Describe your life before addiction.

Describe your life during active addiction.

Describe your recovery process.

What is your biggest regret?

What advise would you give others?

What do you hope for in the future?



How to Take Narcotics Responsibly If You’re in Recovery From Opiate Addiction

If a Methadone or Suboxone patient suffers intense pain, such as being hit by a truck, will they need more, or less, analgesics to get relief from the pain? Pain management is a complicated issue for physicians in the best of circumstances, but it is further complicated for people who use the medications Methadone and Suboxone. Well meaning physicians may under-prescribe or withhold pain medications for fear of causing someone to relapse. Or they may fear inducing overdose in someone who is already prescribed a synthetic opiate. But in fact, these patients are likely to need more aggressive interventions such as larger doses of short-acting pain killers and more frequent intervals for severe pain. Listen in to this opioid recovery support group discuss their experiences with pain management while on these medications.

Discussion Guide:

Did your opioid dependence begin due to a medical condition in which you were prescribed pain killers?

Do you still have a medical condition that causes pain?

Do you believe that your MAT, Medication Assisted Treatment such as Methadone or Suboxone, prevents you from experiencing pain?

If you have an injury or medical condition in the future, that would require painful surgery or treatment, would you take narcotics?

If you choose to take pain medicine, what is your plan to minimize potential abuse?

Who is your accountability partner for the responsible use of a pain killer?

Supplemental Reading:

Olivia Pennelle, How I Took Narcotics Responsibly in Sobrietyhttp://www.thefix.com/how-i-took-narcotics-responsibly-sobriety

Addiction Treatment Forum, Dealing With Pain, http://www.atforum.com/documents/english/Dealing_with_Pain.pdf

Prater, Zylstra, Miller, Successful Pain Management for the Recovering Addicted Patient, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC315480/pdf/i1523-5998-004-04-0125.pdf

Addiction, Medical Ethics and Involuntary Commitment

Opioid abuse, involving both prescription pain relievers and heroin, is having a major impact on the US healthcare sector. Expensive treatments, such as replacement of heart valves from endocarditis, are a burden upon medical facilities and insurance systems. How many times should a substance abuser receive these surgeries, assuming that they will continue to abuse drugs? And under what circumstances should a substance abuser be involuntarily committed to treatment if they are a risk to themselves? Listen in to this recovery support group as they discuss this complicated issue.

Discussion Guide:

Have you put yourself at risk of medical problems by misusing needles, or doing other dangerous drug related behaviors?

Have you had expensive medical treatment due to this unsafe drug related behavior?

If so, how much did it cost to you personally, to your insurer and medical facility?

How many times should a medical facility, or insurer, provide expensive treatment to a substance abuser who is not in recovery?

What ethical guidelines do you suggest to make a decision on how many times, and under what conditions, a substance abuser receives expensive treatment?

37 states allow people who are addicted to be involuntarily committed to treatment if they are a danger to themselves or others. In what way are substance abusers a threat to themselves or others? Examples?

What are the benefits of involuntary commitment?

Supplemental Reading:

Jack Rodolica, Doctors Consider Ethics of Costly Heart Surgery for People Addicted to Opioids, http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2017/03/21/520830183/doctors-consider-ethics-of-costly-heart-surgery-for-people-addicted-to-opioids

Kelly Burch, Involuntary Commitments for Addicts Being Considered By More States, http://www.thefix.com/involuntary-commitments-addicts-being-considered-more-states

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

Benefits of Coming Out of the Addiction Closet

Substance abusers are ashamed of their behavior and strive to keep it secret. Once you come out of the addiction closet you may be surprised at the benefits. Listen in to a group of people in recovery discuss the benefits of coming out.

Discussion Guide:

Have you told your close friends and family about your addiction and recovery, or did you try to keep it secret?

When you told, was it well received?

Who should you tell? When should you tell? How much should you tell?

What are the benefits of coming out of the addiction closet?

Did you feel a sense of relief after confessing your addiction to someone?

When you told your friends and family about your addiction, did they hold you accountable and help you maintain sobriety?

Have you found that you are helpful to others because of your honesty?

Do you feel a sense of community now that you've come out of hiding?

Supplemental Reading:

Beth Leipholtz, 5 Benefits To Coming Out of the Sobriety Closet, http://www.thefix.com/5-benefits-coming-out-sobriety-closet

What is “True” Recovery?

Medications such as Methadone and Suboxone are the gold standard for opiate dependence. They allow the person to cease drug use and return to a normal level of functioning. However, opponents of medication assisted treatment believe that these medications numb emotions, and therefore prevent them from addressing core emotional issues in recovery. Listen in to a group of former opiate addicts discuss what they believe constitutes “true” recovery.

Discussion Guide:

How do you define recovery?

What are the necessary components of recovery?

Has your medication (Methadone, Suboxone, Vivitrol) blunted your emotions and ability to examine the cause of your addiction?

Have you addressed the core issues that may have led you to opioid dependence, such as trauma and emotional distress?

Do you believe that you have to stop your medication in order to address these issues more fully?

Supplemental Reading:

Desanto, Joseph, MD, Do Suboxone and Methadone Prevent Us From Experiencing True Recovery? https://www.thefix.com/do-suboxone-and-methadone-prevent-us-experiencing-true-recovery

International Overdose Awareness Day

August 31 is International Overdose Awareness Day. It is a global event held each year and aims to raise awareness of overdose and reduce the stigma of a drug-related death. It also acknowledges the grief felt by families and friends remembering those who have met with death or permanent injury as a result of drug overdose. Listen to a group of opiate addicts talk about their experiences with drug overdose and prevention.

Discussion Guide:

Have you experienced a drug overdose?

How many people have you known that have overdosed?

How many of those people died as a result of a drug overdose?

If you were to write a tribute to your family and friends who have died, would you share it without guilt or shame? Or, would the stigma against addiction prevent you from sharing it?

What advise would you give others for drug safety and overdose prevention?


David Konow, Heath Ledger’s Family Recall His Tragic Accidental Overdose, https://www.thefix.com/heath-ledgers-family-recall-his-tragic-accidental-overdose

August 31st is International Overdose Awareness Day

International Overdose Awareness Day, http://www.overdoseday.com/

Paul Gaia, Fentanyl Patches Are More Dangerous in Hot Weather, https://www.thefix.com/fentanyl-patches-are-more-dangerous-hot-weather

Get the Overdose Aware App: http://www.overdoseday.com/resources/overdose-aware-app-2/

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

In the News: The Bridge, Federal Opioid Bill and Synthetic Marijuana

In this week’s podcast, we turn to things in the news. “The Bridge” is a new device to help manage symptoms of withdrawal; the Federal Opioid Bill was passed; and synthetic marijuana sent 33 people to the hospital. Let’s check in with the opiate addicts themselves to get their opinion on these topics.

Discussion Guide:

The Bridge is designed to reduce the pain of withdrawal for a 4-5 day period.

What do you think the advantages and disadvantages of The Bridge are?

What’s the best use of The Bridge?

Do you think it could’ve helped you detox from opiates?

The Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act was passed this week to address the high number of deaths from opiate overdoses. It expands access to Buprenorphine, expands access to the opiate overdose reversal drug, expands access to prescription drug monitoring program, and expands prevention and education. However, the bill does not create new funding for these purposes.

Have you benefitted from Buprenorphine treatment? Do you think this will adequately address the range of opiate treatment?

Have you, or your contacts, benefitted from Naloxone, a.k.a. Narcan?

Have you been stopped from doctor shopping due to the prescription drug monitoring program?

In your opinion, what type of education would you recommend to decrease or prevent drug use among students or others?

Synthetic Marijuana aka K2, Spice

Have you used synthetic marijuana?

Do you know what it’s made from?

Did you suffer bad effects from it?

It was written that “emergency visits were mostly by males, with a median age of 37, who are disproportionately residents of shelters and individuals with a psychiatric illness.” Why do you think this is?

Supplemental Reading:

Danielle Lama, New Device Aims to Help Heroin Addicts Get Through Withdrawal http://www.wdrb.com/story/32329836/new-device-aims-to-help-heroin-addicts-get-through-withdrawal

Amanda Holpuch, More Than 30 People Fall Ill in Apparent Mass Drug Overdose in New York https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/jul/13/more-than-30-people-fall-ill-in-apparent-mass-drug-overdose-in-new-york

Nicholas Rondinone, Five Things To Know About Recently Passed Federal Opioid Bill http://www.courant.com/health/heroin/hc-five-things-cara-passage-0714-20160714-story.html

How To Help Children of Substance Abusers

Writer Cathy Cassata wrote “If you witness something and have the ability to do something, you should, even if it’s reaching out to the family and saying ‘addiction is part of my family and I know how it goes. Please let me know if I can help in any way’.” She advocates for making it your business and intervening. There are ways you can help. Listen to a group of people who have been addicted to opiates talk about their experiences and opinions about possible interventions to help a child who is the victim of substance abuse.

Discussion Guide:

If you raised children, while you were actively engaged in an addiction, did someone reach out to them in order to help? If so, was it helpful?

If you learned that a child was suffering from a parent’s substance abuse, would you intervene?

If you chose to intervene, how would you do it?

What would you want this child to understand about their parent’s substance abuse?

Supplemental Reading:  Cathy Cassata, How to Help Children of Alcoholics https://www.mitadone.com/blogs/news/how-to-help-children-of-alcoholics