Addiction Isn’t A Secret

Addiction is a very isolated disease. It thrives in secrecy. Reaching out for help is key to both the addict and the family. If your drug use as become uncontrollable, reach out for help. YOU CANNOT RECOVER ALONE. Use your supports; call your local treatment center for guidance. No one needs to suffer with addiction alone. In the wake of Phillip Seymour Hoffman’s death, the press and public are casting stones and gaping, but we forget he was very sick with a chronic, recurrent but treatable illness. We should take this as an opportunity to have empathy and realize we can intervene to help instead of shaming, blaming or turning away.

The Heroin Epidemic: It’s Our Problem, Not Their Problem

I have been in the media a lot lately educating the public on addiction and recovery. When Philip Seymour Hoffman died of a heroin overdose, I was called by Don Lemon to speak about my own heroin addiction and recovery on a show called Heroin: 100 years of Seduction. A few months later, I testified on a heroin task force in Illinois and observed first hand the complexity of dealing with such a deep-rooted systemic and biological epidemic. I feel powerless over my own addiction and am beginning to feel powerless of the heroin epidemic. The local government will have hearings and discussions and dictate policy that will hopefully assist communities understand the problem and offer solutions; . The law enforcement will continue to incarcerate the drug smugglers. Unfortunately, it’s not enough. Its time the recovery community mobilizes, and pulls addiction out of the basements and into the open. I am proud to be in recovery. I feel grateful everyday that I am free from the grips of addictive addiction. Its time we spread the message of hope to others still suffering. We need to stop glamorizing addiction and begin celebrating recovery.

Why All the Fuss? Heroin Facts.

Heroin: Invented 1874

Sold by Bayer in 1898: Aspirin was sold by prescription only at this time; heroin was sold over the counter as a cough sedative.

Where does it come from?
Columbia, Mexico, Thailand, Laos, Afghanistan and Pakistan

Columbia became a major contender of the heroin trade in the 1990’s accounting for around 60-70% of heroin.

Pharmacology:
Approx 30-60 seconds after injecting heroin users feel a surge of warmth, emanating from the lower spinal region as a “rush” of sensation glides through the central nervous system. An overriding sense of wellbeing quickly envelops the user. This sense of well-being is the users grail.

Behaviors of the heroin addicted often risk imprisonment, violence, social condemnation, physical disfigurement, disease and death.

Street heroin:
Cut with a number of additives such as quinine, milk sugar, starch, powered milk, and even talcum powder. In 1980 average purity was 4%; now its in the 70’s
Increase in purity can be attributed to greater availability, more sophisticated labs, and marketing techniques by retailers.

Physiological Effects: Occur very rapidly
Affected are:
CNS
Endocrine system
Cardiovascular system
Respiratory system
Gastrointestinal system
Skin

Within seconds, both the rate and depth of respiration sharply decrease. The rate of breathing can fall to 2 to 4 breathes a minute. As respiratory rates decline, blood pressure begins to drop, body temp plummets, skin becomes cold and clammy, eventually turning blue-grey. Seizures may occur and eventually repertory failure occurs. The brain stem drowns in the drug and the message to the diaphragm and lungs to breath drowns with it. Nothing glamorous here…Again, Why all the fuss?