Tag Archives: Heroin Addiction

3 Steps to Effective Family Therapy After Heroin Addiction

Families take many forms in America today, but one thing all families share is an intense emotional connection between members. When a family member has a heroin addiction, however, emotional ties weaken.

A heroin addiction responds best to treatments that help someone understand how heroin use affects him and others. People with addictions easily deny problems, instead focusing on getting and taking more drugs. Treatments that allow a person to understand how addiction destroys personal life and family life motivate him to want to change and then seek change.[1]

Man consoling woman with hand on shoulderWhen family members are part of treatment, they learn to support a loved one in sobriety and heal damage brought by addiction, such as loss of trust and loss of respect. Plus, families who lived through a loved one’s heroin addiction need treatment to process their own feelings and learn ways to help a person in recovery. It’s important for everyone to take part in family therapy during and after heroin treatment. Such participation helps family members heal after an addict damages relationships during active addiction and offers techniques for building relationships as a loved one gets sober.[2]

Three basic steps help family members healing after heroin addiction strikes: 1) achieving sobriety for the addicted family member, 2) adjusting to sobriety, and 3) learning to maintain sobriety for the long haul. Though there may be slips or occasional relapses due to the chronic nature of drug addiction, the goal is to make drugs and alcohol a distant memory of daily life for anyone in the family.

Attaining Sobriety: The First Step in Family Therapy During Heroin Rehab

Getting into treatment is a huge step for an addicted loved one. Research shows heroin addicts need a personalized treatment plan – some respond best to a combination of talk therapy and medication-assisted treatment (drugs that manage heroin cravings, such as methadone) or talk therapy alone to allow complete abstinence.[3] The detox process is only the first step toward learning to stay sober; an addict needs support, especially family support, to live in recovery.

No matter how the rest of the family members feel about an addict’s behavior during active addiction, it’s important to be supportive. Choose a heroin rehab that incorporates family therapy into the overall treatment program and includes the needs of family members in treatment plan decisions.

Adjusting to Sobriety: Family Therapy During and After Heroin Rehab

During heroin rehab and after heroin detox, the focus should be on adjusting to life without heroin addiction. Understandably, the addict will go through the biggest adjustments. She must learn how to live a sober life again and interact with people on a more honest and forthcoming level. Living with a newly sober person is an adjustment for family members, too. Many families have trouble believing their family member is clean or will remain that way for long. Rebuilding trust begins during this period at family therapy.

Families who participate in treatment with their loved one give her a greater chance of entering treatment in the first place, a stronger likelihood of staying in treatment, and better odds of staying sober for longer.

Treatment programs that integrate family therapy into the plan explore reasons behind an addiction and involve family members in improving the situation after treatment. Family members should prepare to take responsibility for their own roles in the addiction, whether they contributed by ignoring the problem or enabling it as a way to keep people outside the family from seeing the addiction.

Maintaining Sobriety: Continued Family Therapy After Heroin Rehab

Couple in therapy sessionOnce the addicted family member successfully completes heroin rehab, family therapy should not stop. Finding a family therapist who specializes in drug addiction treatment helps everyone in the family as the addicted member works on maintaining sobriety. Knowing that the support of the family is behind her is crucial to success in long-term recovery.

While there is a place for peer recovery support groups, the participation of family members in recovery greatly increases a person’s odds of success. When families recognize the ways members either promote sobriety or discourage sobriety, they learn to focus on supportive, encouraging practices. Continuing family therapy gives members a chance to break bad habits by practicing better routines and openly discussing problems before they get worse. Good family support makes up for the everyday pitfalls, such as stress and temptation, which lead to relapse. It also gives the family the chance at a more loving and richer family life.[4]

Learn About Family Therapy and Heroin Rehab at Michael’s House

Contact us today to learn more about the family therapy we provide as part of our heroin rehab program here at Michael’s House in Palm Springs. We’re here to help the entire family heal after addiction.

[1] Feldstein Ewing, S. W., Apodaca, T. R., & Gaume, J. (2016). Ambivalence: Prerequisite for success in motivational interviewing with adolescents? Retrieved Apr. 3, 2017 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4963310/

[2] Center for Substance Abuse Treatment. (2004) Substance Abuse Treatment and Family Therapy. Treatment Improvement Protocol (TIP) Series, No. 39. Retrieved Apr. 3, 2017 from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22514845/.

[3] National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2016). Treatment Approaches for Drug Addiction. Retrieved Apr. 3, 2017, from https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/treatment-approaches-drug-addiction.

[4] Liddle, Howard A.; Rowe, Cynthia L.; Dakof, Gayle A.; Ungaro, Rocio A. & Henderson, Craig E. (2004). Early Intervention for Adolescent Substance Abuse: Pretreatment to Posttreatment Outcomes of a Randomized Clinical Trial Comparing Multidimensional Family Therapy and Peer Group Treatment. Journal of Psychoactive Drugs. Retrieved Apr. 3, 2017 from http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/02791072.2004.10399723.

Surviving Heroin Addiction

Heroin is one of the most addictive drugs. People who use heroin often develop a tolerance, which means that they need higher and/or more frequent doses of the drug to get the desired effects.[1] 

Heroin can take over someone’s life in short order. Each time you use heroin, overdose is a possibility. It’s like playing Russian Roulette –when the gun points at you, will it be loaded this time? Or will it be a friend that dies this time? It can be hard to see a way out of this kind of hellish maze. People can and do survive heroin addiction, but it takes courage to get help.

How Heroin Works And How It Kills

Heating heroin in spoonA heroin user likely snorts or injects the drug into the blood stream. Heroin users are commonly thought of as urban homeless criminals, but heroin use cuts across all ages and lifestyles. In 2012, approximately 669,000 Americans reported using heroin in the past year. This figure is up from an estimated 373,000 in 2007.[2]

Heroin acts as a depressant to the natural body systems in charge of breathing. Because of this, a heroin habit can lead to respiratory failure that leads to overdose which may cause death. The purity of heroin is often unpredictable. This fact makes the risk of an overdose ever present. The same amount of heroin used from one day to the next can be disappointing or fatal. It is also common for heroin deaths to occur from the drug being taken with other physical depressants like alcohol.

Heroin And A Risky Lifestyle

Heroin users are likely to do just about anything to be sure they have a steady supply. Not only do they have a strong urge to use the drug over and over, but they also try to avoid deeply unpleasant withdrawal symptoms. If getting heroin means they need to take risks, then they will take whatever risks are necessary.

People may offer sexual favors for drugs or cash. Others may take money from friends and family, commit crimes, or even sell drugs to get what they need. They spend time with shady characters that will not hesitate to kill if they don’t like the drug deal. A drug addict risks being put behind bars and getting caught up in a life of crime.

Getting Sober From Heroin

Getting sober is not easy, but it is definitely worth it. Heroin addicts in recovery can have withdrawal symptoms for several days at a time. Cravings can come and go long after their last use. Sobriety is ultimately better than active addiction, but daily life can be full of tests and temptations.

It takes a good support network and commitment to a high-quality drug program to make sobriety work. But even with all this, the addict has to want and work for sobriety each and every day. They have to be the one who makes sobriety their ultimate priority. Over time, sobriety can become more familiar than addiction. Surviving heroin addiction is possible – contact us today to learn more or get started today.

[1] https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/heroin What Is Heroin?

[2] https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/heroin/scope-heroin-use-in-united-states What Is the Scope of Heroin Use in the United States?

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.

Top 10 Ways to Tell If Someone You Know is Using Heroin

Heroin user with needleMake no mistake; heroin is one of the most dangerous drugs available today in the United States. Heroin comes from morphine, an element found in the sap of opium poppies. Then the sap is turned into a white or brown powder or a black, sticky substance (black tar heroin).

Heroin is also an illegal, highly addictive drug. It can be sniffed, snorted, smoked, or injected into a muscle or vein. It is often mixed (cut) with other drugs or substances such as sugar, baking soda, powdered milk, or even poison. In some cases, heroin is used with other drugs such as cocaine or alcohol.

If someone you know has become addicted to heroin, they’re probably not going to come right out and tell you. So that means you are going to have to figure it out for yourself and that means knowing the signs and symptoms of heroin use.

The top ten signs of heroin use are:

  1. Grogginess, drowsiness, nausea and vomiting
  2. Euphoria and feeling immense pleasure
  3. Shallow breathing
  4. Abscesses or scars on the arms (or other areas where heroin might be injected)
  5. Often seems confused or disoriented
  6. The individual has contracted Hepatitis B/C or HIV/AIDS
  7. Poor performance at work or school
  8. The individual has withdrawn from friends and family (and begun hanging out with a new, “sketchier” set of friends)
  9. He or she has asked to borrow from you (and has been secretive about the reasons why they need it) or has stolen from you.
  10. The individual has had run-ins with law enforcement – after never having encountered any before.

Lastly, drug paraphernalia is another sign of heroin use. These supplies used to inject heroin are often called an outfit or rig. A rig typically consists of a spoon or bottle cap to cook the drug, a syringe or needle to inject it and a tourniquet or towel to find a vein. Cotton and matches are often used as well.

Heroin use is a very serious matter. Don’t overlook this drug use by passing it off as experimentation. Heroin overdose deaths have gone from less than 4,000 in 2002 to close to 20,000 in 2016. Overall, this is a 5.9 fold increase in fatalities.[1]

If a friend or family member exhibits one or more of the signs and symptoms above, it is possible that he or she may be using heroin. If this is the case, they need your help. Please call the number below to get in touch with one of our admissions coordinators. We are glad to answer your questions. We can even help you find out what forms of treatment are covered by insurance. If you don’t have insurance, that is not a problem either. We offer many flexible plans so you can get the information you need to make a decision regarding your loved one. Don’t wait another day. Get the professional care you—or your loved one—need(s) today.

[1] https://www.drugabuse.gov/related-topics/trends-statistics/overdose-death-rates Overdose Death Rates

7 Surprising Facts About Drug Addiction in Iran

Iran plays a large role in discussions about U.S. national security, but most Americans know very little about the isolationist Middle-Eastern country. One surprising thing to many people about Iran is the depth and seriousness of the drug problem within its borders. The country’s Islamist theocracy takes a hard line toward drug use, handing down capital punishments to many drug traffickers.

Drugs in IranIran’s border with Afghanistan, the world’s largest producer of opium, contributes to its drug problem. Other factors making addiction rates worse are the country’s tough economic situation due to trade sanctions and high unemployment rates. There also is a limited number of treatment centers and people go without care because of the stigma associated with drug use. Estimates show 2 to 3 million of the country’s population suffers with addiction and eight to 10 people die every day due to drug use. The average age of a drug user in Iran is 14 to 16 years old and addiction affects people from every social class.[1]

The number of Iranians addicted to drugs, primarily heroin and methamphetamine, continues to rise. As a way to combat drug use, Iran now executes more people in the drug trade, with drug smugglers accounting for 9 out of every 10 executions. The harsh penalties show no sign of stopping the growing epidemic, however.[2]

  1. Iran currently has one of the world’s highest rates of drug addiction. The United Nation’s Office on Drugs and Crime reports the country has the world’s second-highest rate of opium addiction and the highest rate of heroin and opium addiction per member of the population.1
  1. Opium use is culturally acceptable due to a literary tradition of famous poets using opium and calling it an antidote to every disease.3
  1. The country’s health ministry provides little treatment, so private charities offer programs to treat methamphetamine and opiate addiction. Camps are set up to offer harm-reduction services and treatments not previously sanctioned by the government. They offer services such as clean needles, condoms, medical care and a place to sleep.[3]
  1. Methamphetamine use is rising in Iran; some people believe the stimulant helps them control their dependence on opioids; other people use it to treat depression or improve relationships.[4]
  1. Rates of HIV/AIDS infections continue to grow in Iran. Around half of cases are due to intravenous drug use; as a way to reduce infections the government now offers oral drug substitution and a new needle-exchange program.[5]
  1. Due to the fundamentalist nature of the government in Iran, there are very few drug rehab facilities, needle exchanges or education opportunities to teach young people about the dangers of drug use.
  1. Iran is a major route for the drugs that move out of Afghanistan and into Europe for mass consumption. This is due to the small numbers of borders that need to be crossed in order to transport heroin and other illegal substances.4

Getting Help for Addiction

Addicted individuals in the United States are lucky enough to have outstanding drug rehab programs at their disposal. If you, or someone you love has developed a substance use problem, contact an addiction treatment facility in your area.


[1]Dehghani, R. &Amiri, M. (2016). Addiction: A big challenge of social security in Iran. International Journal of Epidemiologic Research. Retrieved Mar. 8, 2017 from http://ijer.skums.ac.ir/article_21148_0.html.

[2]Dareini, A.A. (2015). Drug abuse in Iran on rise despite executions, police raids. The Times of Israel. Retrieved Mar. 8, 2017 from http://www.timesofisrael.com/drug-abuse-in-iran-on-rise-despite-executions-police-raids/.

[3] Dareini, A.A. (2015). Drug abuse in Iran on rise despite executions, police raids. The Times of Israel. Retrieved Mar. 8, 2017 from http://www.timesofisrael.com/drug-abuse-in-iran-on-rise-despite-executions-police-raids/.

[4] United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. (2016). World Drug Report 2016. Retrieved Mar. 8, 2017 from https://www.unodc.org/doc/wdr2016/WORLD_DRUG_REPORT_2016_web.pdf.

[5] Dehghan, S.K. (2013). Iran sees dramatic rise in HIV infections. The Guardian. Retrieved Mar. 8, 2017 from https://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/dec/02/iran-rise-hiv.

Five Ways That Heroin Use Can Kill You

Heroin is a dangerous drug. You can overdose on it alone or in combination with other drugs. Use increases the likelihood of contracting infectious diseases like hepatitis or HIV. Heroin impacts mental health and can contribute to suicide risk. It puts stress on the body and damages organs.

Heroin Overdose Is Deadly

If you use heroin, you are at risk for overdose. Any use is dangerous. First-time users can overdose. Individuals who have been using heroin for years and believe they know their tolerance levels can overdose. Heroin overdose is a real danger. It is an increasingly common one. CNN.com[1] explains, “In 2010, there were 38,329 overdose-related deaths, and by 2015, that number had climbed to 52,404.” Of these, “One in four drug overdoses in 2015 was related to heroin. In 1999, just 6% of all overdoses were related to the drug.” Heroin overdose is not a rare phenomenon. It is not an outdated one or a problem of the past. Heroin overdose occurs, and it can be deadly. The only way to prevent overdose is to end heroin use. Michael’s House can help you or a loved one end overdose risk. We create personalized paths to health and freedom. We work with you to find effective evidence-based treatment options. By ending heroin use, you end the risk of overdose. Woman with heroin needle

Heroin Use Is Often Combined with Other Drug Use

Heroin is dangerous enough on its own. When it is used with other drugs, associated risks increase. As the Centers for Disease Control[2] (CDC) shares,

“People often use heroin along with other drugs or alcohol. This practice is especially dangerous because it increases the risk of overdose.”

This increased overdose risk isn’t rare. Most drug users are polydrug users. They use more than one substance at a time or use one drug to counteract the unwanted effects of another. The CDC continues, explaining that the people most at risk for heroin addiction are those already addicted to opioid painkillers, cocaine, marijuana and alcohol. If you are already addicted to prescription opioid painkillers, you are 40 times more likely to become addicted to heroin. You are likely to use more than one substance at a time and therefore increase your risk of overdose and other health complications.

Heroin Use Increases Risk of Infectious Disease

Using heroin puts you at risk for contracting infectious diseases like Hepatitis B and C and HIV. Untreated hepatitis leads to liver failure or liver cancer. HIV leads to AIDS and destroys the immune system. These health conditions are treatable and manageable. Without this treatment, they can kill you. The Centers for Disease Control[3] (CDC) shares, “Nearly 13,000 people with AIDS in the United States die each year.” The National Institute on Drug Abuse[4] (NIDA) shares, “During the next 40–50 years, 1 million people with untreated chronic Hepatitis C (HCV) infection will likely die from complications related to their HCV.” Additionally individuals with one infectious disease are likely to struggle with another. The CDC continues, “Of people with HIV in the United States, about 25% are coinfected with HCV, and about 10% are coinfected with HBV. About 80% of people with HIV who inject drugs also have HCV.”

These statistics matter to heroin users. Intravenous drug use greatly increases the likelihood of contracting hepatitis, AIDS, and other communicable diseases. Even if individuals do not inject heroin, drug use impacts judgement and inhibitions. Users are more likely to engage in unprotected sex and have multiple partners. They are more likely to have accidents or injuries where blood-related safety isn’t a priority. Heroin doesn’t have to kill you directly. It can open the door for other diseases to do so. This is why addiction treatment begins with a complete health assessment. Treatment at Michael’s House does more than address immediate drug use. It involves complete physical care. Medical professionals are available during and after withdrawal. They help patients manage any co-occurring physical health concerns. You leave treatment healthier than when you enter it. You leave protected from many infectious disease risks. You learn to take control of your health and your future. You can live a long, healthy and enjoyable life by ending heroin use and seeking treatment.

Heroin Use Increases Suicide Risk

Heroin can kill through its relationship to suicide. Addiction[5] shares, “Heroin users are 14 times more likely than peers to die from suicide. The prevalence of attempted suicide is also many orders of magnitude greater than that of community samples.” Heroin users are more likely to try to commit suicide than non-heroin using peers. They are also more likely to succeed. Addiction explains why heroin users are more at risk for suicide: “The major general population risk factors for suicide also apply to heroin users (gender, psychopathology, family dysfunction and social isolation). Heroin users, however, have extremely wide exposure to these factors. They also carry additional risks specifically associated with heroin and other drug use.”

Heroin users face the same challenges to mental health and happiness as the general population. They have the added stress, influence, and pressures of heroin. Heroin impacts mental health, creates new lows, and provides easy access to methods for self-harm. Heroin affects relationships that would otherwise support mental health. It impacts finances and employment. It can leave individuals feeling lost and alone, although this is never the case. Michael’s House is always available, and through treatment users can rebuild relationships with loved ones. You forge new, healthy friendships with peers in recovery. You have 24-hour, long-term access to our professionals. You can reach out and find support at any time.

Heroin Stresses Overall Health

Hands with IV line hospital

Heroin use puts your health at risk. Overdose creates immediate physical risk. Use increases the likelihood of contracting communicable diseases. Additionally long-term use leads to an accumulation of side effects and internal damage. Heroin users may experience bacterial infections in blood vessels, skin, or heart. Infections may travel to or appear in other vital organs and lead to the death of cells in these organs. When you struggle with addiction, you are unlikely to eat well or stay physically active. You are unlikely to participate in self-care and treat your mind, body and spirit as they should be. Michael’s House can include nutritional counseling as part of your overall treatment plan. We can help you restore balance and learn how eating well is related to feeling good and staying healthy. We can help you explore ways of staying active. This can involve traditional exercise. It doesn’t have to. You can do yoga, hike, dance, or find the activities that are fun for you. We are here any time to help you create your customized path to wellness. Heroin robs you of your overall health. It doesn’t have to rob you of your life. Take action, and take back control.

Heroin Doesn’t Have to Kill You

You don’t have to live in fear of overdose. You can avoid contracting infectious diseases or learn to manage the ones you face. You don’t have to despair or damage your body. You can find recovery and health. Call Michael’s House to learn about comprehensive, holistic treatment. Our professionals combine the best mental, physical and addiction health care. We offer a clear path away from heroin. You can save your life or the life of a loved one. Reach out to us today and learn more.

[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] https://www.cdc.gov/vitalsigns/heroin/. “Today’s Heroin Epidemic.” Centers for Disease Control. 7 Jul 2015. Web. 7 Mar 2017.

[3] https://www.cdc.gov/hiv/pdf/library_factsheets_HIV_and_viral_Hepatitis.pdf. “HIV and Viral Hepatitis.” Centers for Disease Control. Mar 2014. Web. 7 Mar 2017.

[4] https://www.drugabuse.gov/related-topics/viral-hepatitis-very-real-consequence-substance-use. “Viral Hepatitis—A Very Real Consequence of Substance Use.” National Institute on Drug Abuse. May 2013. Web. 7 Mar 2017.

[5] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12410779. “Suicide among heroin users: rates, risk factors and methods.” Addiction. Nov 2002. Web. 8 Mar 2017.

Heroin Claims the Life of Star Baseball Player, Michael Hutts

Baseball playerMichael 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.

Individuals use heroin for many reasons. Hutts reportedly took heroin while out drinking with friends. Peer pressure strongly influences substance use decisions in teens and young adults. Drug and Alcohol Review shares, “Excessive drinking can result if alcohol use becomes an integral part of peer interactions…The overall prevalence of drinking in college socialisation may increase the likelihood that alcohol will become enmeshed in quality peer relationships. The student is thus regularly exposed to valued peers who both model and provide social reinforcement for alcohol use, probably resulting in increased drinking in social situations.” Hutts may have used heroin to feel as though he fit in or was part of a group. College students frequently include alcohol as a component of social events or social bonding. Substance use doesn’t build real connections or lasting friendships. It can provide a temporary sense of bonding, but this bonding is superficial and comes at great risk. Real relationships involve concern for another’s health and happiness. Health and happiness do not come from substance use. Michael’s House emphasizes community support. Treatment is an opportunity to build true, lasting friendships.

Street dealer for prescription pillsPeer 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.