Posts Tagged ‘drug addiction’
Thursday, September 6th, 2012
On HBO’s already classic drama The Wire, Michael K. Williams played Omar, an iconic, gay, shotgun-toting stick up man. During the filming of The Wire, which concluding in 2008, Williams’ life somewhat mirrored a character from the show, although not Omar. William’s day-to-day existence away from the set was more like that of the lovable screw-up Bubbles’; scraping by from fix to fix, waking up in dingy, unfamiliar places. Williams, who currently stars in HBO’s Boardwalk Empire, was a drug addict.
Williams’ drugs of choice were cocaine and marijuana, he told the Newark Star-Ledger in a recent interview. Although he promises that he wasn’t into any harder drugs, his coke binges lasted for days on end. He would disappear from friends and family. At one point he even traded his cell phone for drugs, making it impossible for anyone to get in contact with him.
“No one who was in my circle, who knew me as Mike, was allowing me to get high. I had to slip away to do drugs. I had to hide it. I’d be gone for days at a time. I was lonely in that part of my life. I was broke, broken and beat up. Exhausted. Empty,” Williams said in an interview.
In the depths of his addiction, Williams would find himself begging for lines in the projects of Newark.
“People didn’t even call me Mike, they called me Omar. But that wasn’t unusual because everybody had an alias,” Williams told the Star-Ledger. “No one was called their government (name) on the block, so they called me Omar or ‘O.’ That mixed with my identity crisis and my addiction — and it was not a good mix. I had to stop trying to be Omar and just be Mike,” Williams said.
Eventually, Mike — not Omar — decided enough was enough. It was time to get clean. “I got so sick and tired of this charade. I finally said, ‘I can’t do this no more.’ I didn’t want to end up dead,” he said. Williams credits Christian Love Baptist Church in Irvington, New Jersey and the church’s pastor, Rev. Ron Christian with helping him kick drugs.
Williams’ decision to come clean about his struggles with addiction comes on the heels of a tragic drug-related death of another The Wire alum. DeAndre McCullough, who played a minor role on The Wire and whose real-life exploits with drugs were chronicled in David Simon’s The Corner, died in August from an overdose. At the time of his death, McCullough had several warrants for his arrest in connection with armed robberies of pharmacies.
Posted on Thursday, September 6, 2012, by Lucas High
Thursday, June 3rd, 2010
The first time I spoke with John he was leaving treatment. He said his life was much better on heroin, and he had no interest going to meetings or working with a sponsor. John was adamant about not seeing a therapist because it never worked in the past, and his main goal was to finish his time in the sober house he felt forced to live in and get a job to move in with his girlfriend, who was supposedly sober at the time.
While he stayed in a sober house his family had enrolled him in the Recovery Assistance Program (RAP), hoping he might come around with a little push and the creation of some boundaries. Though this was the hope, it took a while for reality to catch up.
I was his caseworker, responsible for helping him in his recovery, providing support and acting as liaison for his concerned family. Every check-in for a few months John wanted nothing to do with recovery, and two months after leaving treatment he was kicked out of his sober house for denying a drug test – he admitted he would test positive for heroin and marijuana. (more…)
Wednesday, May 26th, 2010
The newest initiative in tackling the US’s drug problem offers a more educated perspective on the issue which has been at the forefront of American politics since the 1960s, even becoming a motto-worthy cause in the 1980s and has still never really fought with success.
Hoping to take a step back from what Harold Pollack’s article from the NPR website says are “operations against drug suppliers which have little demonstrated value,” this new approach will consider the more underfunded yet key areas of prevention and treatment, rather than focusing all efforts on dealers, border control and crop eradication. A step in the right direction, to lessen the demand and therefore lessening the supply.
The new health care bill has begun to address the serious issue of drug addiction by increasing and improving diagnosis of addiction, and in 2014 will help the at-risk communities find the help they need both with the addictions they already may have and the long-term health effects that come with addictions to drugs and alcohol.
Things like psychiatric care and access to treatment for not only addictions, but mental health issues will also help these communities better deal with the problems already afflicting them. Hopefully access to continuing care programs like AiR’s RAP will also be included in Medicaid coverage, helping those who receive assistance in their recoveries stay clean, sober and healthy for a lifetime, rather than just trying, failing and resuming the destructive behavior without hope.
Unfortunately, as the article points out, if the prevention and direct improvements to treatment are still underfunded the initiative will be crippled before it even really begins, a better outlook may lead the way, but without the punch in funding and vocal support from those in power like VP Biden, the approach might fail just like all the other past attempts.
Tuesday, May 25th, 2010
Sometimes interventions don’t go the way we initially envision. What with all the visual aids on TV regarding how they’re done, how they look and the reactions they incite, our minds are generally inhabited by a vision of the event before it happens. So, naturally, when the time, place and reactions are a bit different than expected, we feel it’s ‘gone wrong’ and didn’t work.
The most important thing to remember about interventions is to not expect immediacy. Chances are the intervention will not suddenly make the intervened see the light, become sober and turn back into the person you once knew and loved. Interventions are done to establish boundaries rather than incite immediate actions. The person will likely have to acclimate to the new rules and ways by which he or she has chosen to live without treatment, continuing in the self-destruction completely on one’s own.
Most times this proves impossible and he or she accepts help, beginning the real process. A prime example of this kind of outcome for an intervention had a family come together hoping to finally help Susie – a daughter, sister and friend – recover from her now crippling addiction to crack cocaine.
As the family assembled the interventionist reiterated how the event would go – the family members had each prepared something to say explaining how they care for her, how the drug addiction was affecting both her and the family around her and the means by which they would free themselves of helping her sustain this disease. After the ground plans were understood everyone headed over to Susie’s apartment.
Refusing to come out from behind her chained door the family managed to coax her out onto her balcony – an intervention under circumstances unforeseen. After relaying their good memories of the girl lost behind the crack-induced facade, how her addiction had consumed their lives with fear, concern, sadness and debt, and telling her calmly they would no longer support her in any way other than assisting her in receipt of recovery, Susie walked back inside her apartment, leaving a stunned and hopeless family behind.
While it may have seemed to the family a completely wasted attempt, failed and fruitless, this intervention was a complete success. Results are rarely immediately observed, and by putting forth their new plan to regain their own lives they’d already won half the battle.
Addiction truly is a family disease, by helping those affected receive the counseling they need and regain their own life directions half the disease can be conquered. Additionally, without assistance from others rarely addicts manage to survive on their own and do eventually ask for the help offered, if only for a comfortable place to sleep, good food and a warm home.
In this case, Susie did call her family a week later, apologetic for her reaction at the intervention and requesting the help and support offered. Susie’s now been in recovery for nearly five years, went back to school and found the strength in both herself and her family to lead a healthy lifestyle.
The full, detailed story is laid out in more elaborate and eloquent terms in the AiR book It’s Not Okay to be a Cannibal: How to Keep Addiction from Eating Your Family Alive, written by AiR founder Andrew Wainwright and friend, Hazelden’s Robert Poznanovich.
Tuesday, May 11th, 2010
How do you know when your loved-one has surpassed the point of casual drug use and ventured into the dark territory of abuse and addiction?
Determining whether someone you care about has become addicted to drugs is difficult for many, not simply because the signs aren’t obvious, but because many times it’s difficult to admit someone so close can have gone so far.
Because of its difficulty, many times those standing by continue to not only allow the addiction and abuse to continue, but in their attempts to either help the situation themselves or pretend it doesn’t exist, they “enable” the user – inadvertently help them continue this lifestyle. Enabling endangers everyone affected, and drains the love and happiness from families.
Those addicted to or abusing drugs may exhibit different physical signs, as different drugs have different effects, but the symptoms of addiction remain generally the same, regardless of the substance.
When diagnosing issues of addiction, we look at whether someone is abusing substances or has moved into dependence. Some of the symptoms of abuse are:
- Regularly neglecting your responsibilities at school, work, or home (e.g. flunking classes, being chronically late for work, neglecting your children) because of use.
- Taking risks while using, such as driving while on drugs, using dirty needles, or having unprotected sex.
- The use is causing legal trouble, such as arrests for driving under the influence, drunk and disorderly conduct or stealing or dealing to support a drug habit.
- The use in general is causing problems in relationships, partner or employer.
Common signs and symptoms of drug or alcohol dependence include:
- Tolerance. This is the need to use or drink more to get any effect.
- Withdrawal symptoms. Experiences symptoms such as nausea, restlessness, insomnia, depression, sweating, shaking, and anxiety from a lack of use. People with this problem often times can’t go 3-4 days without using something to feel better.
- Loss of Control. When someone can no longer make choices about how, when or how much they use, even though they told themselves they wouldn’t.
- The addict spends a lot of time using and thinking about drugs or alcohol, figuring out how and when they can get their substance, and recovering from it’s effects.
- When someone is abusing substances, we are concerned that they are neglecting their roles and responsibilities. In dependence, people are more likely to abandon activities they used to enjoy, such as hobbies, sports, and socializing.
- Continued use despite knowing it’s causing major problems in one’s life—blackouts, infections, mood swings, depression, paranoia—but they continue to use anyway.
The more drugs and alcohol begin to affect your decisions and judgment the more they control your life. While people may go through a stage where they are abusing and can walk away, once addiction takes control it can be hard to break away without some form of help. Unfortunately, when you’re in the middle of it, the denial that you or your loved one may be experiencing can cloud one’s ability to look at the problem subjectively. That is why many people are “forced” into treatment by family, employers or the legal system.
The earlier someone recognizes the symptoms of addiction, the more likely they are to avoid some of the major consequences that often go hand in hand with addiction.
Post written by Jim Stoltz, Clinical Director for Assistance in Recovery and Licensed Independent Clinical Social worker who has spent almost 20 years working with addicts and alcoholics to achieve long-term recovery.
Tags: addiction recovery, assistance in recovery, drug abuse, drug addiction, prescription drug abuse, prescription drug overdose, recovery assistance, Recovery Assistance Program
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Saturday, May 8th, 2010
Michael Douglas’ 31 year old son Cameron was sentenced to five years behind bars this week for heroin possession and intent to deal methamphetamines and cocaine in New York.
After his son’s sentencing, the world-famous actor commented on both his son’s incarceration and his addiction, saying on the Today Show “”I think the court recognized his drug addiction as well as the crime that he committed. It’s an adequate amount of time…to spend in jail, and the best part of it is he will be able to start his life afresh.”
Cameron has been an addict since age 13, and after failed attempts at recovery, remains slave to this disease. Cameron’s addiction is not the first among those in his family, as E! Online reports, “I was in rehab 20 years ago…” Michael Douglas explained, saying part of Cameron’s addiction lies in a genetic predisposition, “I lost a brother with an overdose four years ago. I have another brother who has been on the program for years. My ex-wife’s family has alcoholism running in it.” Genetic or not, decades’ long addictions aren’t lost causes, and though it often acts as a catalyst, jail is not the only option for lasting recovery.
In Cameron’s case, it appears the whole family would benefit from addiction education regarding how to support recovery while refusing to enable the addiction. Five years in jail should certainly help in the process by taking him out of the situation, but upon release, serious thought to initiating formal recovery in a lasting way could possibly lead to not only sobriety, but also improved family relations.
Aftercare programs like RAP offer families and people like Cameron the structure necessary to truly commit to sobriety. With this help, everyone involved learns to adequately react to and deal with the problems addiction brings and, in this case, has brought for nearly two decades. For people who have not dealt with accountability for actions done in the name of addiction, aftercare offers a continuing call to realization – with programs like this, addicts understand the whole spectrum of the effects of their disease on the wider community and how to overcome.
Having a child addicted to anything is never easy; having a child addicted in the public spotlight and feeling partially at fault can overwhelm. Recovery for the whole family is necessary to truly heal this pain and reunite what, from the outside, appears to be a fractured family.
Monday, February 1st, 2010
With the mental health parity laws going into effect in October of 2009, the levels of health care available to those struggling from addiction or mental health issues have increased. Under the new Wellstone Parity Act, group health policies and employers must provide equal or higher coverage to addiction and mental illness as they would a physical illness, such as cancer. These new rules will make access to treatment much more available to the general public, as insurance companies have often set limits on days for addiction or mental health treatment, but put no limits on other types of hospital care. A government spokesperson said, “…the rules would benefit 111 million people in 446,400 group health plans offered by private employers, and 29 million people in 20,000 plans sponsored by state and local governments.”
The American Psychiatric Association had this to say: “Mental health parity was a major advance for the APA and for our patients living with mental illnesses,” said APA President Alan F. Schatzberg, M.D. “The APA will continue to work hard and submit the important feedback to the Administration that is necessary to make sure our patients receive the care they need.”
So what does that mean for us? Obviously, more access to addiction services bodes well for the general public. With more people gaining access to the resources to get help, one would think more people would get help. But is that the case? Will we see an uptick in treatment admissions? Our bet- probably not. Those who are unable to ask for help for themselves won’t magically be able to get help even when it’s available. That’s why we encourage families to break free from the traps of secrets, and get help for their loved ones. Reaching out and asking for help can provide access to those much-needed treatment options that may not have been available before this act was passed.
If you or someone you love need help with an addiction, call us at 877-320-0247 or visit us on the web at www.a-i-r.com.
You can also follow us on Twitter at @airecovery.
Tags: addiction, addiction intervention, addiction parity, AiR Assistance in recovery, chemical dependency, drug addiction, eating disorders, gentetics of addiction, intervention, mental health, mental health parity, mental illness, parity, recovery, recovery assistance, Recovery Assistance Program, substance abuse, Treatment, wellstone
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Friday, January 22nd, 2010
With more and more adolescents and young adults seeking drug and alcohol treatment, there have been some distinct innovations in the recovery sector of colleges. According to research done at Yale University, adolescents and young adults are more prone to addiction due to their still-developing brains. There are nearly 50,000 college-age kids in America who are abusing alcohol or other drugs to the extent that they are unable to make it successfully through college. As a result, the dangers of drug and alcohol abuse are more and more prevalent in the world today; however, with additional resources available for young adults and more awareness allowing for earlier intervention, a good number of those young people are entering the journey of recovery at earlier ages. These earlier ages present new and different challenges in the recovery world, and college tends to be a place full of rampant triggers and challenges for a newly-recovering person. As a result, more colleges around the country are starting to develop programs specifically for people in recovery (for a complete list, check out the Recovery Schools website here).
A couple of programs stand out- in our backyard, Minneapolis, Augsburg College has their innovative StepUp program to meet the needs of the recovering community. With support groups and sobriety-specific dorms, Augsburg has some great wrap-around services for those young adults going to college for the first time, or heading back into an environment where they’ve struggled.
Texas Tech, in Lubbock, TX also has their own recovery program for students. Dr. Kitty Harris, director of Texas Tech’s Center for the Study of Addiction and Recovery, had this to say about the program: “I want our students to have a true college experience. I don’t want them to feel separate. I don’t want them to feel apart from. I don’t want them to feel different. And I especially don’t want them to drink or do drugs.” This program, integrating students into the college milieu, provides new hope for students that have struggled in the past. Here’s a video about Texas Tech’s program.
However, there are some barriers before college. Should your adolescent or young adult need treatment, please contact us at 877-320-0247 or www.a-i-r.com. We also would highly recommend, for any person in recovery entering a college environment, our Recovery Assistance Program, which will provide additional accountability. When heading off to college, especially those without a recovery program for students, having the Recovery Assistance Program in place can provide a safety net for your loved one.
Tags: addiction, addiction intervention, adolescent addiction, AiR Assistance in recovery, assistance in recovery, augsburg stepup program, college, college recovery, drug addiction, intervention, recovery, recovery assistance, Recovery Assistance Program, sober college, sober in college, stepup program, substance abuse, texas tech, Treatment, young adult addiction
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Wednesday, January 20th, 2010
Suboxone (or buprenorphin) seems to be all the rage these days. With the power of the multi-lateral corporation Reckitt Benckiser (whose exclusive license on Suboxone brought in fifteen percent of their overall revenue in 2009), a huge push is being made to medical doctors to prescribe Suboxone as a way to combat heroin use. Since Suboxone is a semi-synthetic opiate, many dangers arise from the over-prescription of this drug. While we at AiR have seen many benefits to Suboxone during the initial detoxification process, we worry about the addicts who get saddled in trading one maintenance drug for another. Now the website for Suboxone does suggest that “more than medication alone” makes for successful treatment; however- we’d like to see some facts and research behind the amount of people who seek outside therapy along with their medication management.
Here’s the main problem, directly from the Suboxone website:
“All opioids can cause physical dependence. SUBOXONE belongs to a class of opioids called “partial opioid agonists.” As a partial agonist, buprenorphine appears to produce less physical dependence, limited euphoria, and less potential for abuse compared with a full agonist, eg, heroin, oxycodone, and hydrocodone. SUBOXONE has potential for abuse and produces dependence of the opioid type with a milder withdrawal syndrome than full agonists.
When patients are ready to stop taking SUBOXONE, the dose is slowly and gradually tapered. The withdrawal symptoms of SUBOXONE are milder than those seen with a full opioid agonist and can be managed with your doctor’s supervision.”
So, basically, are we dealing with the new methadone here? It sure looks like it. We need physicians to be responsible and educated around addiction before they reach for that prescription pad. If a doc wants to use suboxone to assist in the detoxification process, then please do- just be sure to remove a patient from this opioid. Creating additional dependence, albeit on a lower-level substance, still encourages a dependence instead of a solution. Hazelden had this to say (from a CNN article earlier this year): “At Hazelden, a small proportion of patients receive anti-addiction drugs, but medical director Dr. Kevin Clark says the traditional model — based on intensive therapy and the 12 steps — is still best. ‘It is a disease of the brain, but it’s a multifaceted disease. It has a spiritual component, a behavioral component to it,’ says Clark. ‘Our experience tells us that having the network of support and recovery is what really makes the difference.’”
With the help of residential treatment, twelve-step programs, and support from a family, the chances of an addict getting into recovery skyrocket. Medication alone will never be the solution, because, at the end of the day, the drugs are only a symptom. An addict needs help outside of a pill.
For help for yourself or a loved one, please call us at 877-320-0247 or visit our main page at www.a-i-r.com.
Tags: addiction, addiction intervention, AiR Assistance in recovery, assistance in recovery, buprenorphin, chemical dependency, drug addiction, drug deaths, methadone, prescription drug abuse, Recovery Assistance Program, suboxone, substance abuse, Treatment
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Friday, January 15th, 2010
According to a press release by SAMHSA, treatment providers and families should be expecting a “dramatic increase” in substance abuse among adults 50 and older.The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is the US government agency faced with the goal of improving the quality and availability of prevention, treatment, and rehabilitative services for in the substance abuse and mental health fields. SAMSHA’s latest report, published on January 8th, states that services for those of the aging baby boomer generation should be expected to double by the year 2020.
“This new data has profound implications for the health and well-being of older adults who continue to abuse substances,” said Pamela S. Hyde, J.D, the SAMHSA Administrator. “These findings highlight the need for prevention programs for all ages as well as to establish improved screening and appropriate referral to treatment as part of routine health care services.”
The stats point to a rising trend in marijuana use, with 8.5% of men between 50 and 54 reporting having used marijuana in the past year. And with a rise in prescription drug abuse (up from 1% to 5% of treatment admissions from 1997 to 2009), one can only expect that drug abuse will increase. The National Institute of Health reports that nearly 20% of adults have used prescription drugs for non medical reasons. Dr. Gary Kennedy, director of Geriatric Psychiatry at Montefiore Medical Center, stated: “We need much better support services for the number of older adults who are going to have substance abuse problems.” The New York Daily News even picked up on the story, stating that the Woodstock generation still has a tendency to get high.
So what do we do? Become better educated for prevention and awareness. Talk to your loved ones if you’re concerned about their use. Learn about the signs and symptoms of drug abuse. And when you need it, ask for help. Addiction is a disease of silence; keeping secrets keeps loved ones sick, and the only way to get better is through outside help.
If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, please call us at 877-320-0247 or visit us on the web at www.a-i-r.com.
Also, for those in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area, we will be presenting a family education series in conjunction with Hazelden on February 8th.
Tags: addiction, addiction intervention, AiR Assistance in recovery, alcohol, assistance in recovery, chemical dependency, drug addiction, intervention, older adult substance abuse, pain addiction, pain medication, prescription drug abuse, SAMHSA, substance abuse, Treatment
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