Tag Archives: heroin addiction

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? http://www.thefix.com/addiction-disease-or-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, http://www.ncsl.org/research/civil-and-criminal-justice/drug-overdose-immunity-good-samaritan-laws.aspx

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, http://www.thefix.com/new-bill-could-quadruple-prison-time-opioid-related-offenses


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, 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

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, http://indro-online.de/methadoneindex.htm

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, http://www.behavioral.net/blogs/julie-miller/ethics/how-counteract-media-bias-against-treatment-centers

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.chttp://www.clintonherald.com/news/local_news/school-district-to-address-rx-abuse/article_9b1cf436-ec55-598f-a141-a1daa1345fb5.html

Jacqueline Covey, Middle School Town Hall Talks Prescription Abuse, http://www.clintonherald.com/news/local_news/middle-school-town-hall-talks-prescription-abuse/article_0853c8e4-f888-5748-b26d-137a7650b2d8.html

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 Patienthttps://www.opiatesupportgroup.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=1166&action=edit

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, http://www.addictionpro.com/article/treatment/eliminate-stigma-inside-out