When health practitioners conclude that an addict can’t be helped, that all that’s left is to try to keep the addict from killing themselves – harm reduction – it’s a sorry state. One of the latest harm reduction techniques is heroin prescriptions. But is there really such a situation as not being able to help an addict who wants to quit get through drug rehab? Your first two questions should be “Well, what did they actually DO at the rehab?” And “Is that what’s needed to get someone off drugs?”
Film is a powerful medium. Years ago a friend fighting for a particular cause told me how difficult it was to get anyone to really understand the issue and get on the bandwagon to support solving the problem. Then Hollywood made a movie about it. My friend garnered more support for the cause in the three months following the movie’s release than he had in the previous three years. I’m hoping the new film featuring interviews with drug overdose survivors and others touched by addiction, produced at the request of FBI director, James Comey, will have a similar effect.
You may be surprised at how many people are completely unaware that they have a prescription drug addiction problem in their family or among their friends. Are you one of those people?
Given that there are about 260 million prescriptions written for highly addictive opioid painkillers every year – enough to keep the entire adult population of the U.S. drugged for a month – you can imagine how many people are using prescription painkillers.
Some drugs make you sick and some can save your life. Heroin and Naloxone are good examples of each – when someone overdoses on heroin, Naloxone may save their life. But having to go through the process of giving someone an intramuscular or subcutaneous injection isn’t necessarily easy or some people. Now the FDA has approved Naloxone in a nasal spray – which is much easier to administer.
Heroin abuse is much more common that it used to be, says a Penn State study. And who takes it is also completely different. Heroin used to be associated with dark and dirty alleys, floors full of mattresses, used needles, and garbage. But thanks to prescription painkillers, that’s all changed.
Not to say there aren’t still dark alleys, mattresses, needles and garbage, but the average heroin user today is more likely to be someone who used to be on painkillers – often for a legitimate reason like surgery, dental work, broken bones, and so on – but had trouble getting them.
They started with OxyContin, hydromorphone, Percocet, Vicodin, Opana, or any of 50 or more other prescription narcotics, then got addicted. So despite no longer needing them for the original purpose, they now needed them more than ever. But the doctor that was handing out the prescriptions is no longer doing so.
I recently read an article entitled “Opiate overdoses fall after debut of abuse-resistant OxyContin”. This headline sound a lot safer, right? In fact, it could have been written for just that purpose—to promote the drug and make the manufacturer (Purdue) look good. But don’t get feeling too comfortable about taking OxyContin quite yet. Let’s have a look at the real statistics, also in the article, and you’ll see how misleading that headline really is.
First of all, here’s what the surgeon had to say:
“Not the first drug epidemic to sweep the nation, this one is decidedly different. The nearly 3 million people addicted to opioids don’t fit the “junkie” trope society perpetuates. They are not living in poverty or committing criminal acts. They are white-collar Americans with high-power jobs, picket fences, and clean records. They’re coworkers, neighbors, and friends who—unbeknownst to most among them—are living with a dark secret. “
Testing is now being done on a drug called Vivtrol – aka Naltrexone – as a deterrent to heroin addiction, or addiction to other opioids, as well as alcohol. But are the risks and side effects really worth the benefits when there are a number of drug rehab centers whose programs would get you off drug without the potential problems?
Once again we run into a young man who committed suicide while on drugs, with his parents legally powerless to get him the help he needed.
In this case, the family lost their 22-year-old son, Mark Garafoli. His parents checked him into rehab for drug addiction rehabilitation over and over again. And, every time, he checked himself out. He was over 18 and had a legal right to do so, and his parents had no legal right to do anything about it. The last time he checked himself out of rehab was two weeks before he died.