Tag Archives: Drug Addiction

Facts About Women and Drug Addiction

Women are strong. They meet and overcome challenges no one expects them to. This does not mean they are invincible. Just like anyone, women can and do face substance abuse and addiction problems. They often struggle invisibly or in silence, but they do struggle. If you are a woman trapped by addiction, you know the fight for freedom is real. If your daughter, mother, friend or partner misuses drugs or alcohol, you know she has a serious and valid problem. Addiction is as much a fact for women as it is for men. It may even be a larger issue for some women because of their unique biological makeup, socially ascribed gender roles, and barriers to treatment and recovery. False assumptions about addiction should never minimize or hide the challenges women face. It should never limit a woman’s opportunities for fair, appropriate addiction treatment. Women become addicted to drugs and alcohol. With professional care and attention, these same women can find recovery.

Fact: Women Struggle with Drug and Alcohol Addiction

Depressed womanen face problems. In fact a significant portion of the female population does. The Surgeon General[1] explains that in 2015, “Prevalence of an alcohol use disorder was 7.8 percent for men and 4.1 percent for women. The prevalence of an illicit drug use disorder was 3.8 percent for men and 2.0 percent for women.” Women may not be as likely as men to struggle with addiction, but they do still struggle. No woman’s substance use concerns should go unnoticed, ignored or denied.

Fact: A Woman’s Biology Affects Her Addiction Experience

Women are biologically different from men. Their bodies are externally, visibly different. Their internal chemistry is different. These differences affect how they experience substance use and addiction. They matter in regards to appropriate treatment and recovery.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse[2] shares, “Sex hormones can make women more sensitive than men to the effects of some drugs. Women who use drugs may also experience more physical effects on their heart and blood vessels. Brain changes in women who use drugs can be different from those in men.”

Hormones, physical changes, and psychological effects influence if and how addiction develops. They can create unique treatment challenges and put recovery at risk. Professional treatment specializing in women’s care will acknowledge and address these differences. They give women the tools they, specifically, need for long-term wellness.

Fact: Women Are Assigned Different Social Roles Than Men

Although gender roles are increasingly flexible, women are still more likely to assigned caregiving and child-rearing roles. This influences addiction and recovery. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism explains, “Women are more likely than men to encounter barriers that prevent them from seeking or following through with treatment.” They often have difficulty finding money or transportation for care. They are less likely to know about their options for treatment and feel greater stigma regarding getting it.

Women often stay home to raise families rather than pursue careers that offer insurance coverage and information about access to treatment. They feel they cannot take time off or set aside their responsibilities.

Gender roles create barriers to treatment. They also provide motivation for change. For example a woman may be much more eager to pursue and complete treatment if she is motivated to become a better parent and save or regain custody of children.

Gender roles both limit and support a woman’s journey to recovery. Treatment programs should recognize a woman’s unique reservations and motivations regarding recovery. Programs can offer motivational enhancement therapy, parenting skills classes, and more. Every treatment experience should reflect an individual’s personal experience no matter gender.

Fact: Women Face Unique Addiction Consequences

taking pillsBiology and social roles converge to create unique addiction consequences for women. The Surgeon General explains that substance misuse can, “result in serious, enduring, and costly consequences due to motor vehicle crashes, intimate partner and sexual violence, child abuse and neglect, suicide attempts and fatalities, overdose deaths, various forms of cancer (e.g., breast cancer in women), heart and liver diseases, HIV/AIDS, and problems related to drinking or using drugs during pregnancy, such as fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASDs) or neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS).” All of these issues affect women. Some disproportionately impact women’s lives. Others only apply to women. Treatment needs to assess a woman’s physical, mental and emotional health. It needs to understand her addiction experience. Treatment should offer the integrated, comprehensive care a woman needs to find long-lasting physical health, emotional and social stability, and freedom from drugs or alcohol.

[1] https://addiction.surgeongeneral.gov/surgeon-generals-report.pdf. Facing Addiction: The Surgeon General’s Report on Alcohol, Drugs, and Health. Surgeongeneral.gov. Nov 2016. Web. 18 Mar 2017.

[2] https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/substance-use-in-women. “Substance Use in Women.” National Institute on Drug Abuse. Sep 2015. Web. 18 Mar 2017.

Suicide A Real Risk With Drug Addiction

Depression and drug use, suicide and addiction. These issues are closely related. They are dark consequences of one another and challenge efforts to rediscover health and joy in life. However a challenge is not a permanent block. Suicide is a real risk, but recovery is also a real possibility.

Is Suicide Common?

Woman contemplating suicideSuicide is one of the leading causes of death in the United States. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration[1] (SAMHSA) shares, “Nearly 40,000 people in the United States die from suicide annually, or 1 person every 13 minutes…More people die by suicide than from automobile accidents.” SAMHSA explains that nearly 25 times more people than this attempt suicide each year. This makes for a staggering number of unhappy or desperate individuals.

Help and hope are available, but people have to speak up and reach out to take advantage of available resources. This can be incredibly difficult to do when struggling with depressive or suicidal thoughts. Suicide is a real risk for any person facing mental health concerns or life challenges. Professional treatment and personal support can prevent suicide. They can restore joy and quality of life. Addiction rehab, therapy, and mental health treatment reduce the risk of suicide.

Is Drug Use Dangerous?

Drug use puts lives at risk in many ways. The Surgeon General[2] explains that substance use can result in the following:

  • Motor vehicle crashes
  • Intimate partner and sexual violence
  • Child abuse and neglect
  • Suicide attempts and fatalities
  • Overdose deaths
  • Various forms of cancer
  • Heart and liver diseases

Drug use has serious effects. Some of these are fatal or have a long-term impact on health. Suicide is one of many real and potential consequences of addiction. Luckily consequences can be avoided through recovery. The earlier someone gets or seeks treatment, the safer he or she remains. Many consequences can be avoided, and others can be reversed. Mental and physical healing comes through comprehensive, professional attention.

Is Suicide Related to Drug Use?

Suicide and addiction are related because substance use and mental health are related. Addiction is considered a mental health issue. It also frequently overlaps with other mental health concerns. The National Institute on Drug Abuse[3] shares, “Persons diagnosed with mood or anxiety disorders are about twice as likely to suffer also from a drug use disorder (abuse or dependence)…Similarly, persons diagnosed with drug disorders are roughly twice as likely to suffer also from mood and anxiety disorders.”

Anyone can feel overwhelmed, depressed and suicidal. The risk of these thoughts and related actions increases with drug use. If these feelings already exist, individuals may attempt to self-medicate or escape through drug use. This ultimately worsens feelings of depression and increases suicide risk, but it can seem like an appealing or quick solution when thoughts or life seem overwhelming.

Suicide risk is tied to addiction and mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder and more. Since each increases the risk of suicide on its own, when issues occur simultaneously, suicide risk multiplies. SAMHSA shares, “The most critical risk factors for suicide are prior suicide attempts, mood disorders (such as depression), alcohol and drug use, and access to lethal means. In 2008, alcohol was a factor in approximately one-third of suicides reported in 16 states…In 2011, there was a 51% increase in drug-related suicide attempt visits to hospital emergency departments.” Drug addiction makes suicide a real risk. It also provides means and methods for suicide attempts or accidents. Treatment restricts access to drugs. It gives individuals the support and tools they need to change thought patterns and behaviors. Programs like those at Michael’s House address any and all co-occurring mental and physical health concerns. This ensures patients leave happy, healthy, and ready to pursue and enjoy a drug-free life. If you’d like to speak to someone about seeking treatment for addiction and mental health concerns, give us a call at 760-548-4032.

[1] https://www.samhsa.gov/suicide-prevention. “Suicide Prevention.” Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. 29 Oct 2015. Web. 19 Mar 2017.

[2] https://addiction.surgeongeneral.gov/surgeon-generals-report.pdf. The Surgeon General’s Report on Alcohol, Drugs, and Health. Surgeongeneral.gov. Nov 2016. Web. 19 Mar 2017.

[3] https://www.drugabuse.gov/sites/default/files/rrcomorbidity.pdf. “Comorbidity: Addiction and Other Mental Illnesses.” National Institute on Drug Abuse. Sep 2010. Web. 19 Mar 2017.

Family Violence And Addiction

Addiction hurts families and for as many as 60 percent of families it also brings violence.[1] When an addict turns against his family with physical violence and verbal accusations, it brings suffering that lasts generations. Plus, violence indicates an addict suffers from a more severe addiction and mental health problems that need immediate treatment to ensure everyone’s safety.

Violence Easily Dismissed By The Drug User

Family violence is a damaging and dangerous result of drug addiction for some people.

Man's fist threatening womanSubstance users already deflect personal responsibility because of the way addiction affects their thinking and judgment. Such addiction thinking creates an alternate reality in their mind. Nearly anything they do in the name of their addiction is justified or easily excused. Money troubles, flaking out on promises, taking dangerous risks – it’s all under control and nobody else’s business.[2]

The same rules apply when a drug addict or alcoholic becomes violent. He lashes out, puts someone in her place, makes his position of control very clear or shows his dislike for something in a powerful destructive way. Because addictive thinking excuses his actions, nothing seems wrong with his behavior.

Someone who is violent, or becomes more violent, while using drugs or alcohol often has a more serious addiction and suffers with mental health disorders.[3]

People who suffer with addiction for many years and/or use multiple substances have severe addictions. They also experience more negative consequences from drug use, such as trouble maintaining relationships, problems with finances and maintaining employment and more encounters with the legal system.[4]

Studies also associate serious addictions with higher rates of violence among addicted women. Despite the stereotype of men committing intimate partner violence against women, newer studies show a greater number of addicted women being violent against partners compared to men. Women also are more susceptible to developing a serious addiction because it takes lower amounts of a substance to get them high and they metabolize substances at a slower rate.

While addicted women commit domestic violence, women in general are more likely to be the victim of violence. United States Bureau of Justice Statistics shows 85 percent of domestic violence victims are female. Substances are involved in an estimated 40 percent to 60 percent of domestic violence incidents.

Everyone In Family Affected By Violent Addict or Alcoholic

Scared girl in shadow of alcoholic fatherChildren, spouses, partners, even adult siblings or parents face the brunt of an addict’s violent nature. The addict desperately needs a sense of being in control or feeling powerful. While the need for control is normal and there are healthy ways to express it, addicts have impaired thinking. An addict’s mind is tuned into her emotions and skewed addiction logic, so violence is the natural outcome of overpowered emotions and low self-control.

In essence, violent behavior from an addict is an attempt to correct the imbalance. Since the addict is poorly equipped to deal with daily life and others, his attempts to make things better often make things worse. He strikes out against people he needs in his life as a way to feel better about how little control he has over his own behavior.

Violence Often Passed Through Generations

In many cases, family violence is displayed from generation to generation. This happens with or without an addiction, but addictions add another level of complexity and distance from personal responsibility.

The addict may be heavily under the influence of substances when committing violent acts, having few recollections of what he did. This makes it hard for him to adequately apologize or right the wrongs he committed. For example, someone may strongly minimize marital arguments, thinking he only yelled at his spouse a few times. Children who grow up in an abusive family learn unhealthy ways to cope, especially if it’s not made clear that physical and emotional violence is wrong.[5]

Family Violence Dangerous For All

Family violence is a serious consequence of drug and alcohol addiction. Family members may feel it’s easier to ignore the situation because they fear calling attention to it will make things worse. If you are a family member of a violent drug addict or alcoholic, do everything you can to keep yourself safe. Hopefully, your loved one will realize that drug treatment is the only way to get their family life back.

[1] Soper, Richard G. (2014). Intimate Partner Violence and Co-Occurring Substance Abuse/Addiction. American Society of Addiction Medicine magazine. Retrieved Apr. 21, 2017 from http://www.asam.org/magazine/read/article/2014/10/06/intimate-partner-violence-and-co-occurring-substance-abuse-addiction.

[2] Mercer, Delinda. (2000). Description of an Addiction Counseling Approach. National Institute on Drug Abuse. Retrieved Apr. 21, 2017 from https://archives.drugabuse.gov/.

[3] Arteaga, Alfonso; López-Goñi, José J.; & Fernández-Montalvo, Javier. (2015). Differential profiles of drug-addicted patients according to gender and the perpetration of intimate partner violence. Drug and Alcohol Dependence. Retrieved Apr. 21, 2017 from http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0376871615003890.

[4] NIDA (2016). The Science of Drug Abuse and Addiction: The Basics. Media Guide. Retrieved Apr. 23, 2017, from https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/media-guide

[5] Dayton, Tian. (2012). Growing Up With Toxic Stress or Addiction and Its Long-Term Impact. The Huffington Post. Retrieved Apr. 21, 2017 from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-tian-dayton/toxic-stress_b_2109402.html.

Drug Treatment or Cold Turkey

When a person with drug addiction decides they may need to slow down or even quit their drug use, they might strongly consider going cold turkey. Just drop it all at once and gut out the symptoms. They don’t need a shrink telling them what to feel or what to do, and they certainly don’t need to share their feelings with bunch of strangers. This might be the mindset of someone who decides to go cold turkey from drugs or alcohol – a lone wolf who’s confident and gutsy. But is this really the best way to handle a tough drug addiction?


Pros and Cons To Cold Turkey Approach

Let’s go over a few pros to the cold turkey approach. First, the addict may feel a strong sense of control over their situation. They may also feel some pride in believing they are self sufficient enough to manage something so “bad”. Deciding to tough it out may boost their ego. They can demostrate they are capable of handling it. It could also show that their drug use really wasn’t as bad as everyone has said.

Unfortunately, a lot of the benefit of going cold turkey is on the front end of the process. The idea of it may sound good, but following through the entire withdrawal process without any professional help often ends with relapse or other trouble. Symptoms can be miserable and even somewhat dangerous if a person has other health conditions. Relapse risk is very high simply because the quickest way to end the misery is to use again. And that usually ends the cold turkey process dead in its tracks. Perhaps a good theory, but for the true drug addict or alcoholic, very difficult to carry out in practice with healthy lasting results.

Pros and Cons To Drug Treatment

First, the cons to drug treatment. It will take time and patience to complete a full drug treatment program. This could also mean a halfway house or sober living arrangement for a while until sobriety is better established. This could be tough for a person with a job or a family to look after. However, the alternatives are to either continue with the drug use or go cold turkey. Neither of those prospects will result in good things for a job or a family.

Drug treatment can also cost some money. These days, everyone has to watch their wallet closely. Drug addicts and alcoholics may not want to spend another dime if they are in dire straights with their finances. On the other hand, what would happen if the addiction wore on? Would they eventually lose their job or continue to spend foolishly? Yes, most likely. And thankfully, there are many financial options with insurance, government supported programs, and payment plans. Drug treatment can actually save your finances.

Drug Treatment Or Cold Turkey

So what do you think? Drug treatment or cold turkey? Which approach will truly help you get and stay sober? When you are ready to consider drug treatment, it only takes a phone call to get started.

Fighting Drug Addiction with Religion

A great deal of drug addiction treatment research is focused upon different ways to fight off relapse during and after drug rehab.[i] Therapeutic treatments, talk and behavior therapy, support groups, individualized therapy, exercise, meditation, medical treatment are all part of well-rounded, holistic drug treatment programs. Religious focus during treatment can come in the form of a spiritual focus or a guideline for living based on a specific religion. No matter your denominational affiliation or lack thereof, adding a spiritual/religious component to you or your loved one’s drug treatment program can produce positive results.

12 Step Treatment and Religion

12 step treatment programs have as their foundation a recognition for the need of a Higher Power in life.[ii] The second step in the 12 step treatment program aimed at eradicating active drug and alcohol use and addiction speaks for itself: “Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.”

12-step groupThis Power is generally defined as God, but many keep it vague. They choose a Higher Power to which they give up control based on any number of things. Some who are raised in Christianity, Judaism or Hinduism opt for God simply because God is powerful in these religions. Others choose the Earth or evoke the Goddess in favor of a more maternal power. Still others have a comical take and assign their Higher Power the name of a favorite childhood super hero or fictional character. The point is not the name but the idea that you are no longer in control of your life; that when you took over control, you ended up “hitting bottom” due to drug addiction. The hope is that your Higher Power wants you to be healthy, happy and emotionally stable. Giving up control to this entity rather than trying to do end your addiction alone is helpful during all stages of recovery.

Drug Addiction Recovery and the Moral Treatment of Self and Others

The religious aspect of 12 steps and traditional treatment generally goes beyond the Higher Power and includes a focus on giving back.[iii] Volunteering your time and energy to help others is advised, as is working your way through the steps so that you can become a sponsor and help someone else work their way through the steps.

The idea is to focus on something beside you. The act of living with a focus on other people’s needs gets you out of your own head and allows you to build self esteem by making choices that are meaningful to others. When you realize that you are valuable to others, you begin to treat yourself and your body more valuably, making you stronger against the temptation of relapse.

Religion and Life after Drug Rehab: A Guideline for Living

One of the benefits of drug rehab is that there are others there who understand your struggles and are there to help you make each and every decision. From what to eat to when you eat it, how to spend your free time, what to focus on during treatment, and how to fight off relapse when you return home, you have a team of people coming alongside you at every step of the journey. When it’s time to go home, however, many feel lost without that same level of guidance. Religious principles and a continued focus on growing in your faith can provide extended support and guidance to help you stay committed to your new life free from the control of drugs and alcohol.

If you or a loved one struggles with alcohol addiction, we are here for you. Call our toll-free helpline 24 hours a day to speak to an admissions coordinator about available treatment options.

[i] National Institute on Drug Abuse. “Treatment Approached for Drug Addiction,” July 2016. Accessed March 20, 2017. https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/treatment-approaches-drug-addiction

[ii] Alcoholics Anonymous. “The Birth of A.A and Its Growth in the U.S. and Canada,” Copyright 2017. Accessed March 20, 2017. http://www.aa.org/pages/en_US/historical-data-the-birth-of-aa-and-its-growth-in-the-uscanada

[iii] Michael Miller, M.D. FASAM. “The Relevance Twelve-Step Recovery in 21st Century Addiction Medicine,” American Society of Addiction Medicine, February 13, 2015. Accessed March 20, 2017. http://www.asam.org/magazine/read/article/2015/02/13/the-relevance-of-twelve-step-recovery-in-21st-century-addiction-medicine

Should Drug Addicts Be Allowed to Get Organ Transplants?

Organ transplants remain unreliable in America with thousands of wait-listed people dying each year before they get a transplant. For people with a history of addiction, the ability to get an organ is even more uncertain as many hospitals and states interpret rules for getting a transplant in different ways.

The medical science behind organ transplants is decades old, but the guidelines governing who gets a transplant are still murky. Before the 1984 National Organ Transplant Act, transplant centers and surgical teams made their own decisions about who qualified for a transplant. Even with a current national registry and rules that require transplants to be based on medical criteria, there is plenty of wiggle room in the system allowing individual centers to make final determinations.[1]

Surgery with doctors and nursesOn the most basic level a person needs access to a physician to get a referral for a transplant. Even with a referral, several factors govern acceptance, including a history of substance use. Transplant center staff choose who is accepted; some allow a history of addiction, while others do not.[2] Studies show people with a history of addiction rarely relapse after receiving a donor organ. Around 6 percent of alcoholics and 4 percent of illicit drug users relapse after an organ transplant. Many people with a history of substance use are susceptible to organ disease, particularly liver diseases. Without a new liver, these patients die.[3]

Considering how difficult it is for anyone to get an organ transplant, particularly someone in recovery, it’s difficult to imagine someone receiving two transplants due to relapse. Ethically, the idea of giving a person two transplants is complicated when the number of available organs is limited.

One case of a woman in western Australia illustrates the complexity of the issue. Claire Murray, 24, received a liver transplant after a history of heroin and amphetamine use. After relapsing to heroin use, she needed a new liver, but could not get approval for a new one in Australia. After an emotional campaign by her family, she received a $250,000 interest-free loan from the western Australia government to undergo an experimental live liver transplant in Singapore. Murray died due to complications from surgery, making the case even more gut wrenching and complicated.[4]

Should Threat of Relapse Prevent a Transplant?

Some activists point to the fact Murray wasted her opportunity with her first liver transplant as proof patients who relapse shouldn’t get a second chance. A former drug addict has a difficult time getting onto a transplant list, period. Some organizations won’t include anyone with a history of drug and alcohol use, especially if relapse is an issue.

The ethical considerations of any organ transplant make judgment calls difficult. For example, who decides what kind of substance use should keep someone off the list? Some hospitals allow patients who smoke or drink alcohol on the list but prohibit patients who use medical marijuana. Some believe the United States needs to standardize organ transplant guidelines and develop a list of medical criteria that governs who is put on the waiting list.

Even without standard guidelines, many hospitals are more open to offering transplants to recovering addicts. Moderns research into addiction and the psychological elements of the disease take away some of the moral stigma that governed past transplant decisions.

Are There Other Viable Options for Drug Addicts?

For most, though, if denied a spot on the transplant list, there are no other options. Some believe the current status is justified while others see the system as flawed.

Providing treatment for drug addiction is a good option for those who hope for a transplant organ. Learning how to live without drugs and alcohol is a benefit for anyone struggling with addiction, but doubly so for those with co-occurring disorders like liver disease.

Michael’s House is an evidence-based provider of addiction treatment with experience treating addiction and co-occurring mental health disorders. For questions about finding the right treatment for you or your loved one, call our admissions coordinators today.

[1] Minelli, Erin & Liang, Bryan A. (2011). Transplant Candidates and Substance Use: Adopting Rational Health Policy for Resource Allocation. University of Michigan Journal of Law Reform. Retrieved Mar. 27, 2017 from http://repository.law.umich.edu/mjlr/vol44/iss3/4

[2]Caplan, A. (2014). Bioethics of Organ Transplantation. Cold Spring Harbor Perspectives in Medicine. Retrieved Mar. 27, 2017 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3935394/.

[3] Wiley-Blackwell. (2008). Former Substance Abusers Rarely Relapse After Organ Transplantation. ScienceDaily. Retrieved Mar. 27, 2017 from https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/02/080204111816.htm.

[4] Sapienza, Joseph. (2010). Family, friends farewell Claire Murray. WAToday. Retrieved Mar. 27, 2017 from http://www.watoday.com.au/wa-news/family-friends-farewell-claire-murray-20100413-s5rk.html.

Long Island Heroin Addiction Problem Continues to Grow

Addiction to heroin and prescription drugs has become a national epidemic, and New York has not been immune. In recent years, violent and grotesque details involving heroin addicts have been reported in Long Island and surrounding areas. New York is doubling its efforts to combat the growing problem of addiction.

“Every level of government must increase efforts to address the heroin crisis in New York,” New York congresswoman Nita M. Lowey: “Too many people in the Lower Hudson Valley are struggling with heroin and other opioid addictions. We must bolster efforts to combat this heroin epidemic.”

In response to a 2014 Heroin Task Force report, New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced an $8 million dollar initiative to combat heroin addiction in the state.The question remains, will it be enough to make a difference?

The Challenge Facing Long Island

Long Island lighthouseThe sheer amount of heroin taken in recent drug busts, the number of those dying due to heroin overdose or heroin-related accidents, and the rate at which the wealthy residents of Long Island continue to fund local drug dealers is horrifying to New York officials. With approximately five New Yorkers dying daily from drug overdose and about two dying from heroin overdose each week in Long Island alone, the resurgence of heroin use is a frightening proposition.2

According to Center for Disease Control, factors in the rising rate of heroin use include its increased availability and relatively low price compared to prescription opioids. Approximately 75,000 New Yorkers have used heroin in the two-year period of 2013 through 2014.

It is unclear why New York treatment admission rates for heroin and prescription opioid abuse are so much higher than national averages. Relevant factors may include New York’s higher-than-average rates of insurance coverage and the state’s efforts to provide access to drug addiction treatment.3

Combating This Crisis

The first efforts to stem the tide of heroin addiction in New York started with Nassau lawmakers, proposing tougher sentencing for drug dealers connected to fatal overdoses. Then, Nassau County officials started a new awareness and educational campaign aimed at teaching young people about heroin, addiction, and the inherent dangers involved in experimenting with this highly addictive substance. Officials have expanded narcotic investigations and announced an anti-drug curriculum for the local school systems to further discourage youth from getting involved with heroin.

Despite being on the forefront of nationally-recognized best practices, the epidemic continues to grow in New York. Governor Andrew M. Cuomo convened a team of experienced healthcare providers, policy advocates, educators, parents and New Yorkers in recovery to serve on a Heroin and Opioid Task Force in 2016 to develop a comprehensive plan to bring the crisis under control. In the 2016 fiscal year, New York State allocated over $1.4 billion to the Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services to fight this battle.2

Governor Cuomo has sought to increase access to emergency overdose antidotes and has passed laws to crack down on “doctor shopping” for painkiller prescriptions, often a gateway to heroin use.4

Strategies and Solutions

In addition to prevention measures and judicial punishments to deter those already in the business of selling heroin, Long Island is also looking at ways to increase the effectiveness and efficiency of rehab treatment for those struggling with heroin addiction. Suboxone, approved by the FDA for opiate addiction treatment, is already legal and prescribed in Long Island. Now Suffolk County officials are considering making this prescription a part of adolescent treatment to make the withdrawal symptoms more manageable.

Another goal has been to help parents identify heroin use and abuse among their teens, even when they don’t display the typical symptoms associated with heroin addiction.

Commissioner Lawrence Mulvey says: “We are seeing a lot of straight-A students and athletes that are heroin users. In almost all cases, parents do not suspect their kid is a heroin user because they are getting good grades or they are a successful athlete. By the time parents become aware of the problem it is too late. Their kids are hooked.”

In Massapequa – one of the hardest hit areas in Long Island – a new education program called “Too Good For Drugs” is in the works.2

Working Together to Win

Prevention education, early identification of heroin addiction, and early drug rehab treatment seem to be the best ways to combat the heroin addiction crisis in Long Island and beyond. The hope is that if there isn’t a market for heroin and other dangerous drugs, the dealers on the street will go peddle their wares elsewhere or, better yet, decide that dealing drugs isn’t profitable enough and find a new line of work.

Governor Cuomo Announces $8 Million to Combat Heroin and Prescription Drug Abuse Among Young Adults Statewide, New York State.” Governor.ny.gov. February 27, 2015.Web. Accessed 5 June 2017.

“Combatting the Heroin and Opioid Crisis.” Heroin and Opioid Task Force Report. Governor.ny.gov. 9 June 2016. Web. Accessed 5 June 2017.

“Prescription Opioid Abuse and Heroin Addiction in New York State.” New York State Comptroller.June 2016. Web. Accessed 5 June 2017.

Bredderman, Will. “Andrew Cuomo Declares Current Heroin Crisis ‘Worse Than’ Crack Epidemic.” Observer. 25 May 2016. Web. Accessed 5 June 2017.

Job Market Review: Drug Dealers in Gangs and Drug Addiction

A little bit of online research revealed some unhappy numbers for crack dealers and hopeful crack dealers. The lure of being in a gang and selling drugs to move up through the ranks and gain “respect” often ends one of two ways: prison or death. Either way, drug addiction plagues those who sell drugs as well as those close to them, including their families.

Selling Drugs: How Much Money Do They Really Make?

Drug deal going downDespite what you see in movies, dealing drugs is not as lucrative as you might think. It seems that a researcher who had access to a certain gang’s records and finances found out that the average crack dealer on the corner only makes about $4.57 an hour.[1]

Second, the occupational hazards of the job are very harsh. The annual death rate was marked at about 7 percent, a number that increases to 25 percent after four years. (Why the increase? Perhaps disgruntled customers or competition tend to target those who have made a name for themselves?)

Even if you made thousands of dollars an hour, remember you can’t spend it from the grave. When you sell drugs, you either die or go to jail.

The Myth of Drug Dealing and Sales

No matter how you add it up, being a crack dealer (or a drug dealer of any kind) isn’t going to do much for your financial standing. Unfortunately, kids are seduced by glamorous depictions of rich drug lords on TV, Hollywood and in their own communities. They think that if they put in the time that they, too, will one day be driving fancy cars, wearing lots of gold and buying houses for their mother. The fact is, that very few people profit off of selling drugs. The people who do make a profit are high up in the chain. The fact is that making it to the top of a drug business alive is practically impossible. An article in the New York Times states that crack business is really a modern, brutalized version of a 19th-century sweatshop.[2]

Drug Addiction Among Drug Sellers

Drug dealer snorting cocaineOne of the biggest issues of individuals selling drugs is the development of their own drug addiction. Ready access to large amounts of drugs (and large amounts of money) in the midst of high emotional stress often leads to drug addiction.

Another issue is having legal problems. Whether it is getting caught for the crimes they have to do to supplement their income since they’re using more drugs for personal purposes or for selling drugs, drug dealers are no longer eligible for drug addiction treatment through drug court. When selling or violence is an issue, no drug court will give you drug addiction treatment instead of prison.

Healing Drug Addiction and Getting Out of Selling

If you struggle drug addiction, the time to stop is now. Rates of death are as high among drug addicts as they are among drug dealers, if not higher. Don’t allow yourself to become a statistic. Get the help you need. Call Michael’s House today to speak with an admission coordinator who will answer all of your questions.

[1] http://cw39.com/2014/12/10/average-drug-seller-doesnt-make-minimum-wage-says-anti-drug-web-site/ Average Drug Seller Doesn’t Make Minimum Wage, Says Anti-Drug Site.

[2] http://www.nytimes.com/1989/11/26/nyregion/selling-crack-myth-wealth-special-report-despite-its-promise-riches-crack-trade.html?pagewanted=all Selling Crack: The Myth of Wealth — A Special Report: Despite Its Promise of Riches, The Crack Trade Seldom Pays. Kolata, Gina. Published November 26th, 1989.

Vicodin Addiction Fueled by Bold New Internet Scam

Recently, an individual with a Vicodin addiction relayed the following story about buying Vicodin online via an Internet pharmacy:

Because he had purchased Vicodin and OxyContin online in the past, this individual (who will be referred to as “Paul”) had his name and phone number on the call lists of several online drug suppliers.

Internet scamsOne day, a representative from one of those companies called Paul and offered him 90 Vicodin ES for $400. As an added bonus, the caller stated, this addictive product could be shipped via overnight carrier with no questions asked. It was a lot of money, but Paul really felt like he needed the pills. His other online vendor had recently closed shop and hadn’t been heard from in weeks.

Paul was suspicious, as always, of the “hard sell” attitude of this new pharmacy, but his mind was put as ease when they told him that he could simply pay once the medication arrived. This type of “cash on delivery”, or C.O.D. order seemed safer to Paul than paying upfront. If the package didn’t come, or wasn’t what he wanted when it arrived, he could simply send it back and keep his money.

It seemed to be a no-risk situation, so Paul placed his order. He was told to expect the package in two days, so he went down to the bank and purchased a cashier’s check for $400.

Days passed and Paul’s order didn’t arrive. He tried to call the company several times, but was unable to make contact. He was disappointed, and stressed because his supply of Vicodin would soon run out, but at least he didn’t lose any money.

pillsThen, a week later, he got a call from the pharmacy. They told him that there had been some problems with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and that the company could no longer process C.O.D. orders. The representative told Paul that if he was willing to send a wire transfer via Western Union that they could arrange for the package to arrive the next evening.

This event gave Paul pause. He didn’t have a relationship with this company, and for the most part, once money has gone through a Western Union transfer (especially to the Dominican Republic as the company had requested) there is no way to get it back. But Paul was almost out of Vicodin and he dreaded the inevitable withdrawal symptoms that would occur once he ran out.Soon, he was willing to take the chance.

He sent the money and immediately could not track down the company. He was in a panic for two days when the representative finally called him. They explained that the wrong package was sent out and was being held at an undisclosed location. There were actually over 300 pills in the order instead of the original 90. As a way to “make good” on the problem, the rep said that if Paul would wire another $300 to the company he could have ALL the pills at a low price.

Now all kinds of warning bells were going off in Paul’s head. This had to be a scam, right? But the customer service rep swore up and down that it was legitimate – and that he SO appreciated the faith Paul had put in them and that he fully knew how important this medication was to him.

Again, yes, once again, Paul trusted them and sent the money. He had now spent $700 plus the Western Union fees. He waited for his package the next day.

But the next day came and went and no Vicodin arrived. Paul called and called but could reach nobody at the company. He left kind messages and rude messages. He simply BEGGED for someone to contact him!

Then he received a remarkable call. An “FBI agent” called Paul and told him that his package had been confiscated and that he was placing charges. Paul was terrified. The agent said Paul would be going to jail. Then, almost by accident, Paul looked at the phone number on the caller ID. The area code and prefix seemed so familiar….and then it hit him. This was a representative of the pharmacy! They never planned to give him his medication – and this was their out.

Paul began to notice all kinds of holes in the agent’s story. The “agent” couldn’t mention what department he worked for or provide a badge number. Paul decided to play along for a bit. Then the “agent” delivered the final insult: he told Paul that all charges would be dropped if he could send a Western Union of $3,800 to settle his case out of court. The only other choice was jail.

So not only had these people stolen $700 from him, they had the nerve to run another flimsy scam hoping to prey upon his fear of going to jail and never seeing his family again.

Once Paul had heard enough he hung up. He had lost his money and his dignity and that was enough for one day.

Online Vicodin scams and phone-order Vicodin scams like this one occur often. Have you had a similar experience? Let us know. And if you’re struggling with Vicodin addiction, contact a drug rehab program in your area and get the help you need today.

Talking to your kids about your addiction

When a parent develops an alcohol or drug addiction, kids often bear much of the fallout. They feel the stress of the situation much more deeply than anyone can imagine, and as such, individuals in addiction recovery need to talk openly and honestly with the children in order to help them heal as well.

mom-and-daughter-talkingThe following represent a series of tips for talking to your kids about your addiction and your recovery.

  • Make sure they know that it wasn’t their fault. Children tend to blame themselves for parental crises, so it is important to make it very clear to them that they had nothing to do with your drug addiction or alcoholism.
  • Help them to not feel ashamed. Your kids may feel embarrassed or ashamed because of your addiction. Help them see that addiction is an illness and not a personal choice that someone makes.
  • Tell them it is OK to feel angry. Your children may feel a profound sense of disappointment in you because of your addiction. This can quickly lead to feelings of anger and frustration over the matter. Take the time to explain to them that the anger they are feeling is completely natural and that they should feel free to talk openly about it. Suggest a counseling program for the children of addicted parents such as Alateen.
  • Ask them to help out. Addiction recovery is going to take a great deal of your time and energy. That can put a tremendous amount of pressure on your spouse or significant other. Ask your children to help pitch in around the house while you are in detox or attending counseling. This will help keep your family healthy and make the kids a more active part of your recovery process.
  • Talk to your kids about drugs and alcohol. Finally, take as much time as you can to discuss the dangers of drug and alcohol abuse to your children. Although you may not have set the best example for them in the past – you still have the opportunity to improve their lives as they get older.

If you have a family member who is fighting an addiction, contact a treatment program in your area and learn how they can help restore their health and rebuild the bonds between children, parents, and siblings.