Addiction

Thoughts on Self-Esteem, Self Image, Addiction and Recovery

The Legend In Our Minds

Most of us have heard the expression “He's a legend in his own mind.”  Although we don't usually think of this as being accurate (or nice), the fact is that we are, in a sense, all legends in our own minds.

We all have a self-concept, a collection of mental images.  Our self-concept (Legend) is our answer to the question, “Who am I?”  It tells us what we like, how we're like — or different from — others, where we belong in the world and our community, and what we've been like in the past.

Recovery is an uphill climb. Sometimes our internal view of ourselves sets the stage for how steep that climb might be.

Recovery is an uphill climb. Sometimes our internal view of ourselves.. the “story” or “Legend” within our own minds, sets the stage for how steep that climb might be.

The Personal Legend

This personal Legend is how we usually think about ourselves.  The details can change, but for most of us the underlying story remains the same.  Sometimes our Legend even approaches reality, but since it is our Legend, not necessarily fact, and because it is shaped by the way we think about our past and our present, it sometimes becomes a bit twisted, and at times even just plain wrong.

Our self-concept, or self-image, is mostly shaped by our understanding of the things that have happened in our life: the things we have done and the things that were done to us.  For that reason, it's not uncommon for a person (especially an addict) to end up with one of those twisted Legends.

Twisted Legends : A False Sense of Self

Much of our Legend is shaped by what we believe others think, or thought, about us.  If we were treated badly, especially as children, if we failed to get the love, nurturing and gentle attention that we needed, if we were emotionally or physically abused, or had addicted parents who were unable to fulfill our needs because they were themselves impaired, our self-concept may become twisted and cause us to believe things about ourselves that aren't true.

Our Self Concept shapes our Self Esteem

That's not good because our self-concept shapes our self-esteem (what we think of our Legend).  Unconsciously, we give ourselves a sort of grade.  If we see ourselves as competent people and value ourselves for who we are, instead of who we wish we were, we usually get a pretty high grade.  But most of us addicts look at the Legend we have constructed for ourselves and think that we are inadequate, incompetent, and unlovable.  Most likely we picked up this idea from people who themselves lacked a healthy self-concept, and we have since viewed our lives and our behavior in that light: “I'm not good enough.”  “No one will love me unless I _________.”  “I deserve whatever I get.”  “I'm no good.” “I don't deserve to be treated well.” “I don't deserve to treat myself well, because I'm a piece of junk.”

And a common way to handle that pain is “I can’t stand this, I’ve gotta get high!

Realizing Self Worth as a Step Towards Recovery

Well, guess what.  God doesn't make junk.  Regardless of how much we believe our Legend, if it's telling us that sort of stuff it needs to be re-written.  We'll cover that next.  For now, just remember:  Good self-concept = good Legend.  Bad self-concept = bad Legend = poor self-esteem.  Poor self-esteem makes it impossible to re-write our Legend.  We need to question all those bad beliefs we have about ourselves.  Are they true?  Who says so?  Who told us that to begin with?  Could they have been…wrong?

Paterson, NJ Heroin Bust : 300 “Bricks” Won’t Change Much

While I commend all law enforcement in what they do and in their battle against this heroin epidemic here in New Jersey, April's first heroin bust is just a pin prick in the fight.  Police report having seized 300 bricks of heroin, said to have a $120,000 street value. The heroin bust took place in Paterson, which is in Passaic County and central to Northern New Jersey.

To add some perspective, a “brick” of heroin is usually 5 bundles. A “bundle” of heroin usually leans  10 “bags” of heroin.  Heroin users consumer heroin “by the bag”.

According to a vast majority of our clients at Sunrise Detox in Northern New Jersey and Toms River at the Jersey Shore,  a New Jersey heroin addict seeking treatment (for whatever reason) is using 7-10 bags of heroin a day. Roughly one bundle of heroin, per day.

So 300 “bricks” is 1500 bundles, or 1500 “days” of heroin addiction. In a state with 9 million people, is this a big deal?

Yes, it is. It can take just one  dose to kill a son or a daughter (or mother, or father, or teacher, or someone you loved). For an addict suffering under addiction, it takes just one more dose to stave off the effects of withdrawal, and continue the addiction instead of seeking help with heroin addiction treatment. We all know that heroin addiction doesn't get weaker over time — heroin consumes lives, because active heroin users are driven to need increasing amounts of the drug over time.

Each bag of heroin is important. Every single one. But we have to do much, much more.

The seizure and arrests are hopefully the start if a trend here in New Jersey in this fight. Too often in the fight against drugs we are always talking in quantities of heroin and dollar values of sized drugs “kept off the street”. Rarely do we talk about the number of actual lives affected, or in this case saved by the enforcement action.

Tuesdays arrests in Paterson, if we use the math above, saved the lives of 5 individuals consuming a bundle a day for the next 300 days.  Unfortunately in a state with tens of thousands of individuals addicted to heroin, the user will find another dealer, and then another. The loss of 300 bricks is not likely to impact the street price except perhaps in the short term, in Paterson, as dealers rearrange their turfs and supply chains.

Authorities broke up a drug ring over the weekend, seizing semi-automatic handguns, $20,000 in cash, and more than 300 bricks of heroin in a bust that brought down two heroin mills and saw six people arrested in Paterson, New Jersey – UPI news report

We are entering a delicate time here in New Jersey with heroin. Public awareness is being raised due to recent public figures taking active roles, which is a plus. But more needs to be done with awareness, law enforcement and treatment.

Comfortable living room of the Toms River Sunrise Detox center. Comfort, safety, confidentiality, and expert medical detox.

Comfortable living room of the Toms River Sunrise Detox center. Comfort, safety, confidentiality, and expert medical detox.

At Sunrise Detox we strongly advocate for insurance coverage for substance abuse treatment, and increased access to funds that will enable safe and comfortable detox for individuals to start their journey of healing in treatment. We know that a safe, respectful, and comfortable initial detox from heroin, is the very best start to a successful recovery.

For every brick or bundle of heroin seized and taken off the streets, we must also provide treatment for substance abuse, especially heroin addiction treatment, to help addicts get off of the drug and stay safe in recovery. Any unbalanced approach to the heroin epidemic may end up raising prices and increasing the risks associated with addiction, without saving as many lives.

Reference: 2011 East new York heroin bust reported by NJ.com

NJ Today: 15 Heroin Overdoses in One Day

The Philadelphia Inquirer is reporting that a “bad batch” of heroin distributed in Camden, New Jersey sent 15 people to area hospitals, 12 of them within one hour of the day. The reporter remarks that 14 of the 15 were “suburbanites”, as if that were surprising. We know otherwise — New Jersey's suburban youth are becoming addicted to prescription pain killers, and finding their way to cheaper, more accessible heroin.

Ira Levy highlighted this trend in June of 2013, and recent government data shows that 80% of heroin abusers started with prescription drugs.  It is very important to get treatment for prescription drug addictions as soon as the need is recognized, before more damage is done by heroin for example.

 

Phillip Seymour Hoffman was a Son, Partner, and a Dad for 3 Children

Superbowl Sunday started with some negative news here on the east coast. Academy award winner Hoffman had died due to a suspected overdose. Hoffman was in detox last year after a heroin relapse following 23 years of sobriety. He was found on Sunday with a needle in his arm.  The harsh reality of heroin always seems to come to the forefront when a celebrity overdoses.

The truth though is that Hoffman was a dad of 3 young children. He lived with his long time girlfriend and mother of his children since 1998. That's the pain.  That's the part of this that hits home for all of us. Take the celebrity out of it, and there are 3 children who won't have a dad anymore. There is a single mom asking why, why, why.

Details are unclear as to Mr. Hoffmans detox last year, but stories claim  he went to detox and returned to work. At Sunrise Detox we advocate strongly fur clinical care after detox to deal with the emotional struggles usually associated with heroin addiction. There is no quick fix to opiate use.

While the world will miss a great actor I am thinking of another family destroyed by heroin!

 

Addiction Doesn’t Have to End in Death

New Jersey is suffering from a wave of heroin and prescription pain killer abuse, but it is not a new thing like a plague or infectious agent. The abuse is a continuation of known behavior we've seen increase over many years — people experimenting and abusing drugs and alcohol.  The difference, and the reason our kids are dying now, is in the drugs. The drugs, the combinations of drugs, and the combination of drugs and alcohol is deadlier than ever before.

At Sunrise Detox we treat those who have an acknowledged physical and/or psychological dependency on substances like heroin, opiates (Percocet, Oxycontin), and mood altering prescription drugs like Xanax. We help them break free of the addiction that is running their lives, hopefully before it destroys everything. But many of the overdose deaths are from sudden, deadly over-dosing of drugs that were of unknown purity, or were also mixed with alcohol in deadly combinations.

At some point this year,  drug overdose counts in New Jersey climbed to alarming levels. Those involved with drug abuse and overdoses noted that nearly 60% of the deaths were of kids aged 20-26.  It is true that some of these  could have been prevented if the kids were admitted into treatment (drug detox for 10 days, followed by residential rehab or other treatment). But it is also likely that many would have died even if treatment had been arranged, because the overdose was a sudden, unexpected event. They didn't know that last hit would kill them.

Here are some of the key reasons why over 115 New Jerseyans (most in their twenties) have died this year:

Prescription Drugs are considered Safer than Heroin

As young adults experimented with drugs, they watched doctors prescribe numerous high-potency medications for various purposes (post-surgical pain management, sports injury pain management, toothache pain, etc) and came to understand that these pain drugs were pure, controlled, and recommended by doctors. So when it came time to “take some drugs” to get high, those prescription pills were a safer bet than street drugs of unknown composition or purity.

Many who would say they would never engage in street drug activity or “shoot heroin” were willingly ingesting, snorting, or smoking crushed up prescription pills which were, in fact, almost chemically identical to heroin.

Prescription Opiates and Opioids were Readily Available for Years

Opiate and opioid prescription pain killers are highly addicting, yet were readily available for many years in New Jersey. When a physical addiction sets in, the addict must work hard to secure enough supply to stave off the sickness of withdrawal. That is why heroin addicts often turn to petty crimes so quickly… they need more and more drug to stave off withdrawal sickness, and become desperate for money to pay for the drugs.

In effect, the ready supply of powerful prescription drugs in New jersey enabled addictions to advance without some of the real-world pressures associated with drug seeking. Until…

Prescription Opiates and Opioids (Painkillers) suddenly became Scarce

As awareness of the prescription drug addiction problems grew, the controlled channels for addictive prescription pain killers shut down. The New Jersey Prescription Drug Monitoring Program shut down a lot of doctor shopping, which was a primary way to get more than an appropriate amount of a drug by prescription. Various enforcement efforts stepped up, including increased drug take-back and medicine cabinet clean out or lock up awareness campaigns. These efforts removed more drugs from easy reach.  Additionally, enforcement actions taken against “over prescribers” and loosely-managed pharmacies meant the steady supply of pure, high-potency drugs was shutting off.

An unintended consequence of these positive efforts to contain the pill problem was that many unacknowledged pill addictions were left without a supply of pharmaceutical grade drugs of known, controlled dose. Then…

Enter the Heroin Dealer : Supply and Demand

Did you know that many prescription pain killers are just about chemically equivalent to heroin, the most addictive street drug? Faced with an active addiction to pills and a suddenly curtailed supply chain, what would an addicted young adult in New Jersey do?After just a day or two without drugs, the withdrawal sickness can get quite severe.

The drug dealers provided an answer: heroin. Cheaper than ever, and often stronger than ever, heroin became the only acceptable substitute for an addict in desperate need of pills to prevent sickness from withdrawal.

This is where heron detox is the right move — get into a drug detox center as withdrawal sickness threatens. When the pill supply runs out, and the money runs out, the addict faces real challenges. The only options available are much more dangerous than the drug abuse has been up to that point.

Engaging in high-risk, illegal activities to raise money might seem preferable to withdrawal sickness. Taking on debt to the potentially violent drug dealer might start to seem like a good idea. Or starting to sell drugs for profit, to cover the need, despite the risks of arrest and prison. When the addiction is pushing the addict towards the most dangerous drugs on the street, and the highest risk behaviors, the right move is to get into drug detox center under medical care.

At Sunrise Detox our medical assessment quickly sets the stage for managing the addiction. Medications are used to prevent withdrawal sickness from interfering with efforts to get clean of the influence of the drugs. Our focus in on comfort and care, with sincere determination to break thru the physical dependency, while securing whatever medical and perhaps psychological treatment is needed.

The Street Drugs are often Deadly

Detox is also the right move before the addict takes the much bigger risk of ingesting or otherwise using the street version of the drugs. What's been mixed in with the drug? In what concentration?

The dealer can't be trusted. Street drugs are often mixed with various fillers to increase profits, but sometimes are kept extremely pure to encourage further dependency. How do you know what you are getting?

A hit of heroin of unknown purity and composition can be deadly for one person, while tolerable for another. Our kids may have been feeding an active addiction to moderate doses of opioids, and then left to chance their lives with what was supposed to be an equivalent dose, but turns out to be a deadly overdose.

Drugs and Alcohol Don't Mix Well

One of the more common contributors to overdose death on New Jersey is alcohol. Again, a user may have become accustomed to a specific dose of prescription drugs, and survived taking them with alcohol, but then die from a deadly mixture of the same alcohol with street heroin of unexpectedly purity or composition.

We Need Education, Prevention, Awareness, Intervention, and Treatment

All of this is needed to fix the problems we're experiencing in New Jersey right now. We need to recognize addiction for what it is – a physical and psychological dependency on substances which change our bodies and minds, so we are not in control of our actions and futures. We need to intervene as soon as we have an opportunity. Get the individual into medical detox or addiction treatment, in any way possible, to begin the process of regaining control over the addiction. And then, through determination, commitment, and unconditional love and acceptance, help move them towards successful recovery. It won't be easy, but it can be done.

Every addiction drives the victim hard towards and end, but addiction doesn't have to end in death. Intervene as soon as you have a chance, and please ask for help. If Sunrise Detox can help, call us at  888-443-3869.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

this is caption John M etc. this is caption for John M this is caption

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.

12 Steps: Surrender

Reservations, Powerlessness and Surrender

Reservations are little ideas, beliefs and loopholes that we leave for ourselves. We reserve the right to hang on to them, not realizing that we are really protecting some aspect of our addiction. Most of us started recovery with some reservations. They may have gone like this:

Opiates are my problem; a little drink now and then won’t hurt me. Alcohol just about ruined my life. I don’t ever want to drink again. Of course, I’ll still smoke a little weed when I’m feeling stressed. I don’t relate well to other women, so I’ll need a male sponsor. If my mother died, I don’t see how I could handle it without picking up. They say we’re as sick as our secrets, but they can’t mean everything. That one thing will never pass my lips.

We may be sincere about wanting recovery, and may be working diligently toward it by going to meetings, doing step work, and almost giving ourselves fully over to the program that’s recommended. But as long as we hold reservations, consciously or unconsciously, we are fooling ourselves.

One of the worst effects of reservations is that this kind of thinking keeps us from bonding with other recovering people. Recovery works because we are a fellowship with a common purpose: to stay clean and sober, and learn how to live that way. We do this by accepting that we can’t do it on our own, and that we need the guidance and support of others who have been successful at what we want to do. Reservations  prevent us from developing the close, trusting relationships that make those things possible.

Fighting is so much a part of addiction — fighting for the next fix, the next drink, the time to use, protecting our ability to keep getting high — that we forget how to stop fighting. When we are able to relax and stop struggling, we begin to gain the benefits of our recovery program, along with a huge sense of relief.

Move Away from the Addiction. Don't Stay and Fight

The problem is that we’re still trying to control our addiction, when what we really need is to let go of that control, let go of our reservations, and accept the reality that our addiction is far more powerful than we are — that we must move away from our addiction, not stay and fight.

Once we are able to surrender, the feeling of relief is amazing! We are no longer forced to twist our thinking around so that we can try to have things two ways at once. We no longer push, push, push back against our program. We no longer have to deal with the stress of always trying to be right, in the face of massive evidence to the contrary. We are, at last, able to relax and recover.

We must surrender before we can win!