Oxycontin

Hard Work Pays Off: Raising Heroin Awareness in NJ

I had the honor or releasing the symbolic balloons to kick off the campaign

I had the honor or releasing 244 symbolic balloons in memory of those who died of heroin overdose in  Ocean and Monmouth counties last year, and the Daily Journal covered it.

Often times the one big message of successful recovery is “hard work pays off”. This week, and this month, and this year, that hard work has been raising awareness of the heroin epidemic in New Jersey, to prevent as much of the fallout from addiction as we can right now.

And the hard work is paying off. The stigma of heroin is starting to go away. Although there is a long way still to go, it is no longer uncommon to hear the word “heroin” in conversation  in our suburbs.

I am seeing an increased awareness of the role of prescription pain killers in our heroin epidemic as well. The “common man” in New Jersey is starting to understand that heroin is just a cheaper, more physically dangerous form of the prescription pain killers prescribed by doctors or “borrowed” from unsuspecting friends and relatives.

Treatment is Available for Opiate Addiction

The time to get treatment for addiction is when a dependency is acknowledged. If that dependency is on prescription pain killers like hydrocodone or oxycodone, Percocet, or any number of other opioids, it is no less a risk than a heroin addiction. The primary risk appears to be the switch to heroin (which is  cheaper, and more readily available). But the other, perhaps more important risk, is the tightening grip of opiate addiction.

Heroin Addiction is best Treated Early, not Late

It is easier and less “costly” in all terms, to treat an addiction earlier, rather than later, regardless of the substance.

“Stigma can be deadly. We hope that this campaign plays a role in busting that stigma and helping the public understand that addiction is a disease.” Celina Gray, Acting Executive Director of the Governor’s Council on Alcoholism and Drug Addiction quoted in the Daily Journal.

This past week Jersey Shore Radio's 107.1 FM Morning Show dedicated virtually an entire week to raising awareness of the heroin problem in New Jersey. Sunrise Detox spent as much time on-site with them as we could. We knew that those seeking help would need someone to talk to. Someone who could answer the real-world questions about addiction and addiction treatment. And since we do that every day, we wanted to help.

Sunrise Detox in New Jersey Malls

We helped people one-on-one at all three malls, every day of the campaign. We spoke honestly about addiction and the grip it has on otherwise smart and strong individuals. We spoke honestly about treatment, insurance, and the untold “costs” of addiction on society. And we told real-world stories that brought the message home to those who needed to hear them.

In some cases we got people directly into treatment. Sometimes at Sunrise Detox, and other times at other treatment centers. The key to successful treatment is immediate medical attention (such as at our medical detox), followed by admission to the appropriate inpatient rehab center, which is usually selected based on individual factors. At Sunrise Detox, we work with individuals and families during the initial detox stage, to understand the rehab process, and select the one that fits.

Keeping Up the Fight: More Heroin Awareness is Needed

This week New Jersey's administration (the Governor’s Council on Alcoholism and Drug Addiction) kicks off another awareness campaign – this time one funded with marketing and advertising dollars, and expected to carry through the entire summer. “Addiction does not discriminate” is a strong message that needs to be heard. Let's raise awareness amongst those who believe that heroin addiction happens to other people, before that devastating addiction pops into their lives unexpectedly, and challenges the entire family unit and more.

 

 

 

Drug Take Back Day in New Jersey: Saturday Oct 26

National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day – Oct. 26, 2013

On Saturday, Oct. 26, the DEA will be holding National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day. From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., you will be able to anonymously dispose of your excess prescription and over-the-counter medications at any of numerous collection sites. In the Morristown, NJ area, more than 90 collection sites will be made available to you.

National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day is intended to help people to safely dispose of their excess medications. As we know, unused medication can be a dangerous lure for those who suffer from drug problems. Additionally, if you attempt to dispose of prescription or over-the-counter medications yourself by flushing them or pouring them down the drain, you can damage our water systems. If you throw away your unused medications, animals or plants can be harmed by them as well.

Here is a list of Drug Take-Back locations in Northern New Jersey:

Northern New Jersey drug take-back locations.

Northern New Jersey drug take-back locations.


Allendale: Allendale Police Department
Allendale Police Department, 290 Franklin Turnpike, Allendale NJ, 07401, NJ

Bayonne: Bayonne Police Department
Bayonne Police Department, 630 Avenue C, Bayonne NJ, 07002, NJ

Bergenfield: Bergenfield Police Department
Bergenfield Police Department, 198 North Washington Ave., Bergenfield NJ, 07621, NJ

Berkeley Heights: Berkeley Heights Police Department
Berkeley Heights Police Department, 29 Park Ave., Berkeley Heights NJ, 07922, NJ

Bernardsville: Bernardsville Police Department
Bernardsville Police Department, 166 Minebrook Rd., Bernardsville NJ, 07924, NJ

Bloomfield: Bloomfield Police Department
Bloomfield Police Department, 1 Municipal Plaza, Bloomfield NJ, 07003, NJ

Bloomingdale: Bloomingdale Police Department
Bloomingdale Police Department, 101 Hamburg Turnpike, Bloomingdale NJ, 07403, NJ

Bound Brook: Bound Brook Police Department
Bound Brook Police Department, 226 Hamilton Street, Bound Brook NJ, 08805, NJ

Stanhope: Byram Twp. Police Department
Shop Rite, 90 Route 206, Stanhope NJ, 07874, NJ

Carteret: Carteret Police Department
Carteret Police Department, 230 Roosevelt Ave., Carteret NJ, 07008, NJ

Cedar Grove: Cedar Grove Police Department
Cedar Grove Police Department, 525 Route 23, Cedar Grove NJ, 07009, NJ

Chester: Chester Twp. Police Department
Chester Twp. Police Department, 1 Parker Road, Chester NJ, 07930, NJ

Clark: Clark Police Department
Clark Police Department, 315 Westfield Ave., Clark NJ, 07066, NJ

Cliffside Park: Cliffside Park Police Department
Cliffside Park Police Department, 525 Palisade Ave., Cliffside Park NJ, 07010, NJ

Cranford: Cranford Police Department
Cranford Community Center, 220 Walnut Ave., Cranford NJ, 07016, NJ

Staten Island: Dea New York Division
Richmond University Medical Center, Main Lobby, 335 Bard Avenue, Staten Island NY, 10310, NJ

Brooklyn: Dea New York Division
New York City Police Department Brooklyn 68 Precinct, 333 65Th Street (Bay Ridge), Brooklyn NY, 11220, NJ

New York: Dea New York Division, 10 Precinct
New York City Police Department Manhattan, 230 West 20Th Street Chelsea, New York NY, 10011, NJ

Staten Island: Dea New York Division, 123Rd Precinct
New York City Police Department Staten Island, 116 Main Street (Tottenville), Staten Island NY, 10307, NJ

Staten Island: Dea New York Division, Chris Hollie
Staten Island University Hospital South Campus, 375 Seguine Ave (Lobby), Staten Island NY, 10309, NJ

Staten Island: Dea New York Division, Chris Hollie 718-226-1911
Staten Island University Hospital North Campus, 475 Seaview Ave (Lobby), Staten Island NY, 10305, NJ

Staten Island: Dea New York Division, Precinct 120
New York City Police Department Staten Island, 78 Richmond Terrace (Stgeorge), Staten Island NY, 10301, NJ

Staten Island: Dea New York Division, Precinct 122
New York Police Department Staten Island, 2320 Hylan Avenue (New Dorp), Staten Island NY, 10306, NJ

New York: Dea New York Division, Precinct 7
New York City Police Department Manhattan, 19 1/2 Pitt Street Lower East Side, New York NY, 10002, NJ

Brooklyn: Dea New York Division, Precinct 84
New York City Police Department Brooklyn, 301 Gold Street, Brooklyn NY, 11201, NJ

East Hanover: East Hanover Police Department
East Hanover Police Department, 2 Deforest Ave., East Hanover NJ, 07936, NJ

East Rutherford: East Rutherford Police Department
East Rutherford Police Department, 117 Stanley St., East Rutherford NJ, 07073, NJ

Edison: Edison Police Department
Edison Police Department, 100 Municipal Blvd, Edison NJ, 08817, NJ

Essex Fells: Essex Fells Police Department
Essex Fells Police Department, 255 Roseland Ave., Essex Fells NJ, 07021, NJ

Fairfield: Fairfield Twp. Police Department
Fairfield Police Department, 230 Fairfield Road, Fairfield NJ, 07004, NJ

Florham Park: Florham Park Police Department
Florham Park Police Department, 111 Ridgedale Ave., Florham Park NJ, 07932, NJ

Somerset: Franklin Twp. Police Department
Franklin Police Department, 495 Demott Lane, Somerset NJ, 08873, NJ

Garfield: Garfield Police Department
Garfield Police Department, 411 Midland Ave., Garfield NJ, 07026, NJ

Glen Rock: Glen Rock Police Department
Glen Rock Police Department, 1 Harding Plaza, Glen Rock NJ, 07452, NJ

Hackettstown: Hackettstown Police Department
Hackettstown Police Department, 215 Stiger St., Hackettstown NJ, 07840, NJ

Haledon: Haledon Police Department
Haledon Police Department, 510 Belmont Ave., Haledon NJ, 07508, NJ

Hasbrouck Heights: Hasbrouck Heights Police Department
Hasbrouck Heights Police Department, 320 Boulevard, Hasbrouck Heights NJ, 07604, NJ

Hawthorne: Hawthorne Police Department
Hawthorne Police Department, 445 Lafayette Ave., Hawthorne NJ, 07506, NJ

High Bridge: High Bridge Borough Police Department
High Bridge Borough Police Department, 99 West Main Street, High Bridge NJ, 08829, NJ

Highland Park: Highland Park Police Department
Highland Park Police Department, 222 South 6Th Ave., Highland Park NJ, 08904, NJ

Hopatcong: Hopatcong Borough Police Department
Hopatcong Police Department- Lobby, 111 River Styx, Hopatcong NJ, 07843, NJ

Jersey City: Hudson County Sheriff'S Office
Hudson County Sheriff'S Office, 257 Cornelison Avenue, Jersey City NJ, 07302, NJ

Oak Ridge: Jefferson Twp. Police Department
Jefferson Twp. Police Department, 1033 Weldon Road, Oak Ridge NJ, 07438, NJ

Kearny: Kearny Police Department
Kearny Police Department, 237 Laurel Ave., Kearny NJ, 07032, NJ

Kenilworth: Kenilworth Police Department
Kenilworth Police Department, 567 Boulevard, Kenilworth NJ, 07033, NJ

Livingston: Livingston Twp. Police Department
Livingston Twp. Police Department, 333 South Livingston Ave., Livingston NJ, 07039, NJ

Mahwah: Mahwah Police Department
Mahwah Police Department, 221 Franklin Turnpike, Mahwah NJ, 07430, NJ

Manville: Manville Police Department
Manville Police Deparment, 2 North Main Street, Manville NJ, 08835, NJ

Maplewood: Maplewood Police Department
Maplewood Police Department, 1618 Springfield Ave., Maplewood NJ, 07040, NJ

Maywood: Maywood Police Department
Maywood Police Department, 15 Park Ave., Maywood NJ, 07607, NJ

Mendham: Mendham Borough Police Department
Morris County Police Academy, 3 Cold Hill Road South, Mendham NJ, 07945, NJ

Metuchen: Metuchen Police Department
Metuchen Borough Hall, 500 Main Street, Metuchen NJ, 08840, NJ

South River: Middlesex County Sheriffs Office
Middlesex County Sheriffs Office, 701 Livingston Ave., South River NJ, 08882, NJ

Middlesex: Middlesex Police Department
Middlesex Police Department, 1101 Mountain Ave., Middlesex NJ, 08846, NJ

Midland Park: Midland Park Police Department
Midland Park Police Department, 280 Godwin Ave., Midland Park NJ, 07432, NJ

Milltown: Milltown Police Department
Milltown Police Department, 39 Washington Ave., Milltown NJ, 08850, NJ

Montclair: Montclair Police Department
Montclair Police Department, 647 Bloomfield Ave., Montclair NJ, 07042, NJ

Morris Plains: Morris County Prosecutor'S Office
Stop & Shop Supermarket, 245 Littleton Rd., Morris Plains NJ, 07950, NJ

Randolph: Morris County Prosecutor'S Office
Randolph Town Hall, 502 Millbrook Ave., Randolph NJ, 07869, NJ

Mountain Lakes: Mountain Lakes Police Department
Mountain Lakes Fire Department, 400 Blvd, Mountain Lakes NJ, 07046, NJ

Mountainside: Mountainside Police Department
Mountainside Police Department, 1385 Rt. 22 East, Mountainside NJ, 07092, NJ

New Brunswick: New Brunswick Police Department
New Brunswick Police Department, 25 Kirkpatrick St., New Brunswick NJ, 08901, NJ

New Providence: New Providence Police Department
New Providence Police Department, 360 Elkwood Ave., New Providence NJ, 07974, NJ

North Arlington: North Arlington Police Department
H&B Pharmacy, 98 Ridge Road, North Arlington NJ, 07031, NJ

North Brunswick: North Brunswick Police Department
North Brunswick Police Department, 710 Hermann Rd., North Brunswick NJ, 08902, NJ

North Plainfield: North Plainfield Police Department
North Plainfield Police Department, 263 Somerset St., North Plainfield NJ, 07060, NJ

Nutley: Nutley Police Department
Nutley Police Department, 228 Chestnut Street, Nutley NJ, 07110, NJ

Ogdensburg: Ogdendburg Police Department
Ogdensburg Police Department, 14 Highland Ave., Ogdensburg NJ, 07439, NJ

Palisades Park: Palisades Park Police Department
Palisades Park Police Department, 275 Broad Ave., Palisades Park NJ, 07650, NJ

Piscataway: Piscataway Police Department
Piscataway Police Department, 555 Sidney Road, Piscataway NJ, 08854, NJ

Rahway: Rahway Police Department
Rahway Police Department, 1 City Hall Plaza, Rahway NJ, 07065, NJ

Ramsey: Ramsey Police Department
Ramsey Police Department, 25 North Central Avenue, Ramsey NJ, 07446, NJ

Whitehouse Station: Readington Twp. Police Department
Readington Twp. Police Department, 507 Rt. 523, Whitehouse Station NJ, 08889, NJ

Ridgefield: Ridgefield Borough Police Department
Ridgefield Municipal Building, 604 Broad Ave., Ridgefield NJ, 07657, NJ

Ridgefield Park: Ridgefield Park Police Department
Ridgefield Park Police Department, 234 Main St., Ridgefield Park NJ, 07660, NJ

Ridgewood: Ridgewood Police Department
Ridgewood Police Department, 131 N. Maple Avenue, 2Nd Floor, Ridgewood NJ, 07450, NJ

Ringwood: Ringwood Police Department
Ringwood Police Department, 60 Margaret King Ave., Ringwood NJ, 07456, NJ

River Edge: River Edge Police Department
River Edge Police Department, 705 Kinderkamack Rd., River Edge NJ, 07661, NJ

Rochelle Park: Rochelle Park Twp. Police Department
Rochelle Park Police Department, 151 West Passaic St., Rochelle Park NJ, 07662, NJ

Succasunna: Roxbury Twp. Police Department
Roxbury Recreation Center, 72 Eyland Ave., Succasunna NJ, 07876, NJ

New Brunswick: Rutgers Unitverity Police Department
Rutgers Student Center- Community Policing Office, 126 College Ave., New Brunswick NJ, 08901, NJ

Rutherford: Rutherford Police Department
Rutherford Police Dept., 184 Park Ave., Rutherford NJ, 07070, NJ

Hillsborough: Somerset County Sheriff'S Office
South County Public Works Garage, 410 Roycefield Rd., Hillsborough NJ, 08844, NJ

Somerville: Somerville Police Department
Somerville Police Department, 24 S. Bridge St., Somerville NJ, 08876, NJ

South Plainfield: South Plainfield Police Department
South Plainfield Police Department, 2480 Plainfield Ave., South Plainfield NJ, 07080, NJ

South River: South River Police Department
South River Police Department, 61 Main Street, South River NJ, 08882, NJ

Sparta: Sparta Twp. Police Department
Sparta Twp. Police Department, 65 Main Street, Sparta NJ, 07871, NJ

Summit: Summit Police Department
Summit Pd, 512 Springfield Ave., Summit NJ, 07901, NJ

Teaneck: Teaneck Police Department
Teaneck Police Department, 900 Teaneck Rd., Teaneck NJ, 07666, NJ

Waldwick: Waldwick Police Department
Waldwick Public Safety Complex, 15 E. Prospect St., Waldwick NJ, 07463, NJ

Warren: Warren Twp. Police Department
Warren Twp. Police Department, 44 Mountain Blvd., Warren NJ, 07059, NJ

Long Valley: Washington Twp. Police Department
Washington Twp. Police Department, 1 East Springtown Road, Long Valley NJ, 07853, NJ

Washington Township: Washington Twp. Police Department
Washington Twp. Police Department, 350 Hudson Ave., Washington Township NJ, 07676, NJ

Watchung: Watchung Police Department
Watchung Police Department, 840 Somerset St., Watchung NJ, 07069, NJ

Wayne: Wayne Twp. Police Department
Wayne Police Department, 475 Valley Road, Wayne NJ, 07470, NJ

West Caldwell: West Caldwell Police Department
West Caldwell Police Department, 21 Clinton Road, West Caldwell NJ, 07006, NJ

West Orange: West Orange Police Department
West Orange Town Hall, 66 Main Street, West Orange NJ, 07052, NJ

Westfield: Westfield Police Department
Westfield Police Department, 425 E. Broad St., Westfield NJ, 07090, NJ

Woodbridge: Woodbridge Police Department
Woodbridge Police Department, 1 Main Street, Woodbridge NJ, 07095, NJ

Wyckoff: Wyckoff Police Department
Wyckoff Police Department, 1 Scott Plaza, Wyckoff NJ, 07481, NJ

1,000 New Jersey Residents are in Substance Abuse Treatment, Every Day

In New Jersey on any given day, nearly 1,000 people are in a clinic or hospital receiving substance abuse treatment. Most have entered a detox program (Sunrise Detox in Stirling services over 100 individuals every month) for what is typically a week to ten days of medically-supervised treatment. The initial detox is needed to stabilize them medically, so they can prepare for rehab or another treatment plan. The rest are in hospitals, also receiving detox before further treatment.

People are often surprised by the high numbers. Nearly 1,000 moms, dads, workers, professionals… one thousand New Jersey residents every day, getting treatment for a drug or alcohol addiction. Nearly half (42%) are in for heroin and prescription pain killers (heroin is an opiate, and many painkillers are synthetic opiates known as opioids, also highly addicting). Over 30% of the rest are in for alcohol abuse (dependency).

These data are from 2010. The trend lines for both alcohol and opiate abuse have increased dramatically since then, so today's numbers are likely to be even higher.

Prescription Drug Reduction Creates Unintended Consequences, But No Surprises

With crackdowns increasing on improperly-prescribed and illegal prescription drugs, more pill users are turning to heroin, according to studies in Maryland. Prescription drug overdoses are down by 15%, but heroin ODs are up 41%. The total number of combined overdoses is up about 6%. That’s probably because naïve users have greater difficulty managing heroin dosage than they do with the controlled strength of pills.

This shouldn’t have surprised anyone. Reducing the availability of prescription drugs will probably reduce the number of new addicts to a limited degree, but folks who are already addicted aren’t going to be kept from copping. Most prescription drug users, pushed by the fear or actuality of acute withdrawal, will have no trouble finding street drugs, and when the availability of pills drops on the street, the move to heroin is simple and obvious.

That might sound like I’m against nailing the pill mills. Not at all. Those sorry excuses for physicians are a blight on society, and need to be dealt with. Ditto the folks who sell drugs on the street. But anyone who thought addicts would come flocking to get help when their supplies got scarce really doesn’t get the facts of addiction.

Bottom line: addicts will find drugs. If treatment was supported nearly as well as the so-called “War On Drugs;” if addicts could more easily access detox and primary treatment; if the focus of society was less on punitive measures and more on curative ones, then our drug problems could be dealt with far more effectively.

We’re finally getting the idea across that addiction is a disease, and that addicts need to be dealt with as patients, not as offenders, but until society gets behind treatment instead of spending huge sums supporting the drug suppression/law enforcement industries, we don’t have much chance to make real inroads into the overall problem.

I’m a former law enforcement officer and a recovering addict. I’ve seen it from both sides, and I’m telling you that we are putting our priorities in the wrong place. Deal with the criminals on one end, but reduce the number of customers on the other. Put people first, and we have a shot at making real progress.

The Reality of Addiction All Around Us

I had an ironic encounter with someone the night before the Seabrook House Foundation's Charity Golf Tournament that really made me thankful for where I'm at now in my life.

For those who don't know me that well, I have been sober going on 12 years now and abstinent from gambling for the past 4 years. As I was waiting for my colleague's flight to arrive,  I decided to sit and watch the Giant's game that was on TV at the hotel bar. Some people may have raised an eyebrow at a recovering alcoholic/gambler sitting in a hotel lobby bar 7 miles from Atlantic City on a Thursday night watching a football game, but fortunately for me, today I can watch a game with my favorite Diet Coke.

After a while watching the game, my legs were bothering me more than normal,  and that led me to limp a tad more than I normally do. The waitress noticed,  and asked me immediately what I was taking for the pain. When I told her Tylenol she asked me “Why not Oxycontin?“.

Sallie, as I will call her, seemed sincere and innocent with her question. As an addiction professional my mind started to realize the reality of living in a society ignorant about prescription opiates. This young woman spoke of Oxycontin as innocently as a Tylenol.  I expressed to Sallie that I felt the danger of dependence with those types of drugs was not worth the risk. She agreed. When I told her I worked for Sunrise Detox Center and was attending a fundraiser to support a local foundation for treatment, her jaw hit the floor.

After a few moments, Sallie re-engaged me in our conversation.  She confided in me that she had had an addiction problem at one time with Oxycontin. She had stolen from her boyfriend and father in the past to support her habit and now she was on Suboxone,  but felt she couldn't  get off of that either. When I asked her why, she said, “I'm terrified.”

I recognized the look on her face. I knew I was there once before, lost in the panic and confusion of addiction. Sallie told me that her job waiting tables didn't help her avoid addiction either, as some of her colleagues offered her drugs on a daily basis.

I told Sallie that had many options available to her.  I gave her our admissions number – (888)443-3869, and  I strongly recommended detox plus 28 days of rehab. I explained it would give her the best chance of success. I also encouraged her to seek support in 12 steps. Especially as a woman who had long term sobriety.

As I left for the airport to pick up my colleague, I realized that I am lucky to have found recovery, and lucky to be working at Sunrise Detox. I have acquired so much of the knowledge I have today about addiction from my work with Sunrise Detox.

I also left the sports bar thinking that maybe someone or something had put me in that ironic situation,  so that I could possibly affect Sallie's life in a positive way, and be reminded of my good fortune and the results of my own recovery efforts.

I’ve heard that opiate overdoses often occur when users relapse. Is this true? What’s the deal?

It is true, but in order to give you a good overview, let's talk about overdoses (ODs) in general.

Most overdoses are caused by people mixing drugs such as heroin, alcohol, methadone and benzodiazepines (Valium, Xanax, Ativan and similar “tranquilizers”). These drugs are all central nervous system (CNS) depressants. When used together, there can be a synergistic effect, where the presence of both drugs creates more CNS depression than either could alone — sort of a 1+1=3 effect.

In an OD, they cause unconsciousness, slow the heartbeat and depress breathing. In lethal doses (LD), the user dies from suffocation when breathing ceases entirely. However, a lethal dose of a drug or drugs is not necessary in order for you to die. If you are lying on your back and unable to swallow because of CNS depression, a small quantity of liquid, such as vomit, can cause suffocation. This has killed many people who would probably have survived the OD otherwise.

There is also the matter of misjudging the amount of drugs in your system. Most drugs taken by mouth reach their highest levels in the body quite some time after they begin to have a noticeable effect — as long as 30 minutes to as much as 4 hours. You can easily become dissatisfied with the effects and continue to swallow more, then down the line the blood levels continue to rise and give you more than you bargained for. It is not uncommon for this to happen when mixing oral and injected drugs. The pills aren't getting the job done, so you crush and inject and — whammo!

Finally, we get to the issue you asked about. Opiate tolerance drops rapidly when you're not using. People who have abstained from drugs during detox and treatment, or while in jail or prison, end up with a very low tolerance in comparison to what they had when they stopped using.

If a person who has been abstinent for several weeks relapses, they will require much smaller doses in order to get high. This kills thousands of addicts every year, because the lethal dose (LD) drops as well. If they go back to using anything close to what they used previously, an OD is not only possible, but likely. People most at risk are those getting out of detox and treatment, or out of prison.

The best defense, of course, is to hit meetings, use your supports and stay clean. But if you think you need another run, be really careful or it may be your last.

Is Medical Detox Really Necessary?

I received an email from a hard-nosed recovering addict/alcoholic who stated, in essence, that inpatient detox isn’t necessary, that he did it on his own, and that all anyone needs is a (little of this, little of that) to get through it just fine, and he knows a bunch of folks who did it that way, and…blah, blah, blah.

I replied, politely, that everyone is different, and that just because it worked for some does not mean that it will work for everyone, and that detox is too important to take a chance on getting it wrong (or killing someone).  I refrained from asking how many of his acquaintances had a successful detox, culminating in long-term happy sobriety with no relapse.

In my years around the 12-step rooms I’ve heard similar comments every now and then.  Some guy (it’s nearly always a guy) makes some remark to the effect that if it was good enough for him and Christopher Columbus, it ought to be good enough for all these young whippersnappers.  Somehow I don’t see how surviving the threat of seizures, heart attack, stroke, DTs, profound depression and a variety of other jackpots (depending on the drug or mixture of drugs) proves anything, except that you were one of the lucky ones, but maybe that’s just me.

Just about any drug that will alter your mood noticeably can be addictive, including weed.  Getting off any of them can create enough withdrawal symptoms that it can be really difficult to make it through a self-detox, although not all are physically dangerous.  (Of course you could argue that things like possible psychotic episodes and profound depression are physically dangerous, but we'll let that go for another time.)

The bottom line, though, is this: Under the supervision of medical personnel who are trained to administer the proper medication and equipped to handle any problems, detox can be surprisingly comfortable.  Lacking that, there can be some nasty surprises.  Not everyone has complications, which explains the position of the scoffers, but enough folks do that it’s not worth taking a chance if you don't have to.