Michael Hutts, a young baseball star, suffered an overdose and passed away in 2008.
Family, team members and fellow students were shocked. No one wants to believe addiction and overdose touch those they love. This belief is grounded in love and well-wishes, but it is not grounded in fact. As CNN.com shares, “In 2010, there were 38,329 overdose-related deaths, and by 2015, that number had climbed to 52,404…One in four drug overdoses in 2015 was related to heroin.” Overdose happens. Overdose on heroin happens. It can happen to athletes, artists, students, parents and professionals. Denying the likelihood of overdose only allows these overdose death rates to continue to climb. Acknowledging the real risks of substance abuse and addiction opens the door to recovery. It saves lives and saves heartbreak.
People do not have to fit any mold or image of an addict to be at risk for overdose. If someone is taking heroin in any amount or any frequency, even if he or she does not seem dependent or addicted, overdose can happen. The Washington Post shares, “Hutts died less than a week after his best game of the season.” He was on the dean’s list. His school regularly tested athletes for drug use. Hutts wasn’t failing these drug tests. He wasn’t failing his classes. He appeared to be doing well. He didn’t fit the stereotype of a drug user much less the stereotype of a heroin addict. These outdated ideas and images of who uses drugs need to change. Assuming the worst about addicts leaves the best among us at risk. Individuals hide their struggles or believe their drug use isn’t a concern. Stereotypes create shame. They allow for denial. Both of these reactions to assumptions put lives in danger.
Peer pressure isn’t the only reason students and adults use alcohol, heroin and other substances. Hutts may have turned to alcohol or drugs to help cope with the pressures of being a star athlete and top student. Drugs and alcohol promise a quick escape from stress or anxiety. This is a false promise, as substance abuse and addiction ultimately exacerbate these issues. However many individuals are willing to experiment or self-medicate in hopes of an easy answer. Real solutions to balancing emotions and mental health issues come through treatment. Programs like those at Michael’s House specialize in integrated or Dual Diagnosis treatment. This treatment addresses substance use concerns as well as co-occurring mental health issues like depression, anxiety disorder, bipolar disorder and more.
Substance use treatment needs to address co-occurring mental health and heroin use issues. It also needs to address multiple drug use. Individuals rarely use just one drug. Hutts was drinking and using heroin the night of his overdose. This isn’t unusual.
The University of Florida found, “Students who used alcohol exhibited a significantly greater likelihood — up to 16 times — of licit and illicit substance use.”
Alcohol abuse is dangerous enough on its own. It also paves the way to more and riskier substance use. Individuals like Hutts often use alcohol in combination with other drugs. Combining alcohol with heroin contributes to overdose risk. Both are depressant drugs and slow breathing and heart rate. Substance abuse and addiction treatment needs to address issues with any and all potentially addictive substances. Long-term healing comes from complete and comprehensive care.
Michael’s House is here for you. We understand the challenges you or a loved one faces. Our programs offer support for healing and long-term recovery. We provide integrated care and can address complex concerns like co-occurring mental health issues and polydrug use. Let us help you schedule treatment around college calendars or work or family obligations. We want to get to know you as an individual and create your customized treatment plan. Let us help you find the path to recovery that will work for you. Don’t wait for tragedy. Reach out to Michael’s House today.
1 http://www.cnn.com/2017/02/24/health/heroin-overdose-study/. “25% of All Overdoses Are from Heroin.” CNN.com. 24 Feb 2017. Web. 7 Mar 2017.
2 http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/05/30/AR2008053002675.html. “Report Shows Heroin Overdose Caused Death of Player.” Washington Post. 31 May 2008. Web. 7 Mar 2017.
3 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2635065/. “How the quality of peer relationships influences college alcohol use.” Drug and Alcohol Review. 3 Feb 2009. Web. 7 Mar 2017.
4 http://news.ufl.edu/archive/2012/07/uf-study-shows-long-term-drug-abuse-starts-with-alcohol.html. “UF study shows long-term drug abuse starts with alcohol.” University of Florida. 10 Jul 2012. Web. 7 Mar 2017.