Tag Archives: substance abuse

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


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

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, http://www.thefix.com/gas-station-debuts-blue-lights-fight-iv-drug-use-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, http://www.illinois.gov/ltg/news/PressReleases/HELPLINE.pdf

Samhsa Treatment Locator, http://findtreatment.samhsa.gov/

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, http://www.promises.com/articles/addiction-recovery/tips-to-support-recovery-during-the-holidays/

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?



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, http://www.nj.com/politics/index.ssf/2017/10/5_takeaways_from_trumps_public_health_emergency_de.html

Attitudes and Stigma Drive Opioid Treatment and Policy, Not Research

Psychiatrist, Sarz Maxwell says that one of the greatest barriers to treatment and effective drug policy are attitudes towards drugs. Addiction is not seen as a disease, but as a moral failing. Methadone and Suboxone are not drugs of choice. They are medicines. Listen in to this opiate support group discuss stigma .

Discussion Guide:

It is said that this opioid epidemic is getting worse and the stigma against opioid abusers is worsening. Why would this be the case?

Dr. Maxwell said "It is not what the person does to the drug, it's what the drug does to the person." What does this mean?

Abstinence is one of the least effective methods of treatment for opioid addiction and has the lowest recovery rate. Have you been successful with long term abstinence without medication such as Methadone and Suboxone?

"Addiction is the only disease where we expect the patient to be immediately symptom and medication free."  Do people have this expectation of you?

In a genetically predisposed addict's brain, there are too many opioid receptors and too few endorphins. This can cause people to use substances in an effort to get normal. Did you feel abnormal without an opioid boost?