Tag Archives: heroin abuse

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, http://www.washingtonpost.com/investigations/meet-the-24-year-old-trump-campaign-worker-appointed-to-help-lead-the-governments-drug-policy-office/2018/01/13/abdada34-f64e-11e7-91af-31ac729add94_story.html?utm_term=.698ba37de7f3

Mary Louise Kelly, White House Opioid Commission Presents Final Recommendations to President Trump, http://www.npr.org/2017/11/01/561427911/white-house-opioid-commission-presents-final-recommendations-to-president-trump

Aly Semigran, New Strategy Protects Police Dogs from Opioid Overdoses, http://www.petmd.com/news/health-science/new-strategy-protects-police-dogs-opioid-overdoses-35946

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

Childhood Trauma Is Found to Underlie Most Addictions

It is no surprise that many people turn to substances in order to cope with difficulties. They want to numb themselves to emotional pain. A new study has found 10 types of childhood trauma that can lead to addiction as well as other harmful outcomes such as smoking, promiscuity, obesity, mental illness, heart disease, cancer, lung disease, and a shortened lifespan. The Adverse Childhood Experiences Study (ACE Study) is a research study done by Kaiser Permanente and the CDC. Listen in to this opiate support group  discuss this study. Take the ACE questionnaire in order to follow along.

Discussion Guide:

Are you familiar with the Adverse Childhood Experiences study? If you took the 10-item questionnaire, what is your score?

If you had a high ACE score, you experienced Post Traumatic Stress. This is a normal response to what you experienced, and your addiction is an understandable outcome. Do you believe this is true of you?

Addiction is a coping behavior you developed because you weren't provided with a healthy alternative. Have you learned healthy coping skills in recovery?

In what way does your ACE score and resiliency factors influence your recovery? Will it influence your compliance and length of time that you stay in treatment? The involvement in counseling and recovery groups? Your chances of relapse?

Supplemental Reading:

Jane Stevens, Substance-Abuse Doc Says: Stop Chasing the Drug! Focus on ACEs, http://www.acesconnection.com/blog/substance-abuse-doc-says-stop-chasing-the-drug-and-focus-on-the-aces

Kaiser Permanente, Adverse Childhood Experience (ACE) Questionnaire http://www.ncjfcj.org/sites/default/files/Finding%20Your%20ACE%20Score.pdf

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?





In the News: Sober Dating Sites, Syringe Vending Machines, and the Link Between Unemployment and Opioids

What's in the news this week? 1. Vending machines now dispense more than candy and soda. New machines are coming to Las Vegas that dispense clean syringes, kits for safe sex, kits that clean wounds, and provide a means of safely disposing syringes. 2. Sober online dating sites. 3. A new study finds that as the jobless rate rises, so do drug overdoses. Listen in to this support group discuss these issues.

Discussion Guide:

What are the pros and cons of syringe vending machines?

Would you have utilized them?

How did you dispose of your used needles?

Have you used an online dating service?

What are the pros and cons of a recovery dating site?

12-Step conventional advise is to avoid dating in the first year of recovery. Do you agree or disagree? Why?

As the unemployment rate increases by one percentage point in a given county, the opioid-death-rate rises by 3.6%, and ER visits rise by 7%. What would you think causes this?

Supplemental Reading:

Victoria Kim, Country's First Syringe Vending Machines Are Coming to Vegas, https://www.thefix.com/country%E2%80%99s-first-syringe-vending-machines-are-coming-vegas

New Sober Dating Site, https://www.thefix.com/new-sober-dating-site

Olga Khazan, The Link Between Opioids and Unemployment, https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2017/04/joblessness-and-opioids/523281/



What Does Recovery Mean To You?

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMHSA): “Recovery from alcohol and drug problems is a process of change through which an individual achieves abstinence and improved health, wellness and quality of life.  ”Listen in to this recovery support group discuss what recovery means to them personally.

Discussion Guide:

What does "working a program" mean to you?

What does "surrendering" mean?

What does "progress not prefection" mean to you?

What does "being in service to others" mean?

What do you appreciate about recovery?

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

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/