True Story: Skilled Union Worker with Drug Addiction

Sometimes it helps to read someone else's true story of addiction, and think about how things could be handled, or should be handled. Here is a recent story I received, that highlights some important aspects of detox, rehab, and recovery:

My grandson turned 21 last week. He needs help, but he refuses to go to any place where he will have to stay until better. He was a good boy. He is in the trades and good at it. He attempts to work, and does well, but then stops getting up on time and misses work. Now on the drugs he has ruined his pickup truck, and lost many of his friends. His girlfriend left him and is now with his best friend.

I know he must hit rock bottom, but I have saved him once already. If I didn't walk in his room, he would be dead, because I found him with his lips turning blue & his mouth black from loss of oxygen. I've been pleading with my grandson to go to a detox center, but he refuses to go. Instead, he visited a local doctor who claims to treat drug addiction with drugs. He says he visited the receptionist and just needs $500 up front the drug addiction therapy. There are no therapy sessions or group sessions, just drug treatment.

I don't know how to get the financial assistance to help him. I have a mortgage, but I will put the house up for collateral to get him help. I don't know how much longer he will go on with this addiction.  I and am afraid he won't make it. I don't want the good boy that is hidden behind the drugs to die.

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The most important first step when trying to help someone with a substance abuse addiction, is to get them to come into detox.

Wow. This is a common story, similar to ones we hear every day. Obviously this “boy” (who is likely an adult with a job) needs professional help. Addiction kills. This grandmother knows that. So far, she's been lucky, but she seems aware of how serious addiction is. She is correct that she may have found her grandson dead when she revived him in his room.

I would suggest that they call a crisis help line immediately, and also engage into support communities such as the church, Narcotics Anonymous, and Al-Anon. The grandmother can attend and get advice, even if the grandson won't.

But he will have to commit to coming in and getting started, if he is to get past his addiction. Whatever she can do to get him to start, is the best thing she can do.

Local Drug Addiction Treatment Options

What about the inexpensive, local doctor treatment? I don't know the individual nor the family in this instance, but it is very common for that $500 solution to be nothing but another story told by her grandson to get a little cash for more drugs, or a little more security. He may take that cash directly  to his dealer for more drugs, or use it to try and get started buying drugs for resale (many addicts try to become drug dealers themselves, in order to fund their own addictions). Or he may use it to make a partial payment on a debt he has to drug dealer, for example. It's unfortunate, but addicts are liars, and will say almost anything to secure the supply they need to avoid the pain and discomfort of withdrawal.

Does Buprenorphine Treatment Work?

On the other hand, he may have found a legitimate buprenorphine therapy doctor, who intends to start him on controlled supply of buprenorphin. Buprenorphine is a drug similar to heroin, which satisfies the physical drug addiction but doesn't deliver the “high”. Buprenorphine therapy works for some, but for many it simply replaces one addiction with another. Buprenorphine treatment deals with the physical side of addiction, but there is a strong emotional component that must be addressed to prevent relapse and support recovery.

Detox, Rehab, or Recovery? Detox First

Recovery is a process, not a cure. Recovery begins in detox, but success requires intensive treatment whether residential or intensive outpatient. This can last years.

After treating tens of thousands of individuals for drug and alcohol addiction, we've learned that the most important step is getting help into a treatment facility right now. As soon as treatment begins (medical detox first, in a detox center like Sunrise Detox), everyone involved can have hope for recovery.

As soon as the individual in in the care of a detox center, the energy every one puts into recovery is positive. Until then, the addiction consumes more energy every day. Each day is very likely to be worse, not better, than the previous day, for everyone involved.

detox center common area

This is a living room area at the Sunrise Detox center in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. A safe, comfortable environment is essential for a successful start of recovery.

Calling for Help with Drug Addiction

If this grandmother had called Sunrise Detox, our intake advisers would have discussed the situation, and most likely encouraged her to connect us directly with her grandson for some straight-talk about his situation. Our intake experts are street savvy, have been there themselves either through personal experience or experience with friends and family, or extensive real-world training. They understand what goes on with addiction and mis-use, and can quickly find out details that are withheld from family members, clergy, police and authorities.

We would probably have tried to get him to commit to a 5-7 day detox under our care, or otherwise given the grandmother a few ideas for persuading him to come in. Despite how it seems to everyone experiencing the pain and agony of advanced addiction, there is always hope if we can just find it and hold on to it, and get help.

The Most Important First Step: Medical Detox

With a plan of  medical detox first,  the influence of the drugs can be removed before addressing the larger issues of rehab and the root causes of the drug using, including emotional aspects that are so important for treatment.

The most important step, is simply to get started by making that call for help right away.

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