By Ken Montrose, Director of Training and Publications, Greenbriar Treatment Center
Overdose deaths make the news. People celebrating multiple years free of heroin and other drugs do not. Know that people do recover. Go to any Narcotics Anonymous meeting and you are likely to meet someone with decades of clean time. Have hope.
People give up hope because loved ones rarely get clean the first time they try. The dismal statistics regarding treatment effectiveness are often based on how many times someone is admitted to treatment. If someone gets clean on his fourth admission to rehab, has failed three out of four times, or has he succeeded once?
Accept That Your Child Could Be Using Opioids
What did you do that your parents didn’t know about? Watch for changes in behavior, especially sneakiness. Follow the money. While the price of pills varies, they are rarely cheap.
At some point the economics of opioids catch up to people. The price of heroin has fallen to under $10 for a stamp bag. It is pure enough to be snorted, and may contain fentanyl. The child who can no longer afford pills may quickly discover heroin is a much bigger bang for his buck.
Look at Your School District’s Drug Testing Policy
My school district, Seneca Valley, tests everybody involved in an extra-curricular activity and/or who parks on campus. An excerpt from their policy follows. Students involved in activities are tested when they sign up, and randomly throughout the school year. Lobby for your school district to drug test.
Accept That Your Parents Could Be Using Opioids
When I started in the 80s most middle-aged clients were abusing alcohol. Now we see many more forty to sixty year people addicted to opioids. Many of them are the last of the baby boomers, a generation with an acceptance of substance use.
Accept That Your Grandparents Could Be Abusing
Sadly they may be addicted because they took medications exactly as prescribed. Their generation has a tendency to take what the doctor prescribes without questioning. Grandma may be unsteady because of her age. She may also be abusing both benzodiazepines and opioids. It pays to make sure everyone prescribing knows what every other professional is prescribing.
Clean Out Your Medicine Cabinet
Conventional wisdom argues many of today’s heroin addicts got addicted to legally prescribed pain medications, could no longer afford these pills, and turned to heroin for cheap relief from withdrawal symptoms. This is only partially true. Some people taking painkillers for legitimate reasons get addicted, but many more start their addiction by taking pills purchased or stolen from others. Purge your medicine cabinet of unused medications.
Encourage Your Local Police To Carry Narcan®
Narcan® should be as prevalent as AEDs and fire extinguishers. People who don’t know why we should keep resuscitating addicts don’t deny continued care to people who don’t manage their weight, diabetes, or exposure to carcinogens. Chronic conditions such as these burn up 86% of healthcare dollars.
An Excerpt from Seneca Valley’s Drug Testing Policy
“It is the belief of the Seneca Valley School District that participation on any interscholastic athletic team, extracurricular activity or driving/parking a personal vehicle is a privilege, not a right. Students who volunteer to participate in these programs are expected to accept the responsibilities granted to them by this privilege. These students as well as their parents/guardians must also recognize that because of their choice to participate in these activities, they have a lesser expectation of privacy than do other students.”
Ken Montrose holds a Master’s degree in Developmental Psychology and is a Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor. He is the Director of Training and Publications for Greenbriar Treatment Center. Sober since 1988, he is proof people do recover.