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Health Issues Part 2: The New/Old Drug Crisis

March 16, 2018

Another Way for week of March 16, 2018

Health Issues Part 2: The New/Old Drug Crisis

(The second of two columns on health and drug issues.)

A woman left a message on my office phone. The name and the story sounded familiar. She had talked to me about six years ago when our office was producing a radio program, Shaping Families, featuring interviews with various individuals and their problems. I returned her call, and sure enough, she was still seeking help for her son with addiction problems.

It was heartbreaking to talk to her and realize they were both still struggling: he with his addiction and bipolar illness and her trying to stand by and help. Their problems had way outlasted our little radio program. She had made the rounds of help: sent him to rehab programs, seen counselors, went to group therapy sessions, was acquainted with the family-oriented help of the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

Yet, yet. They were still just limping along. She said at church when caring people ask how her son is doing, she answers “fine” because she doesn’t want—can’t—repeat the long list of woes, again. She knows people don’t really know how to respond.

My heart goes out to them and many others with similar struggles. Those who’ve successfully fought addiction often say the will to deal with an addiction problem comes with a life change like relying on a higher power or God, if you will, and leaning on that faith every single day. Fighting addiction is a daily fight, and the support and encouragement of others is crucial, we know.

I know of one family whose struggles with drugs came because their daughter became addicted to pain medications given to her in emergency room visits for frequent migraines. Addiction is a family affair—impacting the whole family as siblings sometimes feel estranged and at odds with parents and siblings as they deal with the issues, hospitalization, or imprisonment.

The Center for Disease Control reported on spikes in overdose cases and death from opioids already this year. Acting CDC Director Anne Schuchat says overdoses are up (not necessarily deaths, and not necessarily rates of addiction) but the overdose factor has risen because of “newer, highly potent illegal opioids, such as fentanyl,” according to a report on NPR. “The substances are more dangerous than five years ago,” Schuchat says. “The margin of error for taking one of these substances is small now and people may not know what they have.”

Journalist Sam Quinones is the author of a book, Dreamland: The True Tale of America’s Opiate Epidemic. Quinones said this at a recent event in Indiana that I read about on WNDU TV’s website: “It really started with modern American medicine and doctors being convinced and pressured to prescribe these pills,” he said. “We wanted a quick fix. We don’t want to deal with the issues that cause pain.”

My own doctor recently prescribed codeine for the cough I was experiencing when I had flu that I wrote about last week. As I started reading more about this opiate, I curtailed my use. There is likely a place for such prescriptions but I challenged my doctor that wasn’t it addictive? He said, “Do you think I’m going to let you get addicted?” I laughed and said no—because he’s been my doctor over 40 years and I remember him complaining about patients who wanted him to write pain killer prescriptions at a number of drug stores. Still, it wasn’t like I went to him asking for a cure or to ease the pain. As patients, we need to be our own advocates. Finding information online is easy but we need to get input and advice from several sources.

In the end, anyone can easily get addicted when the prescriptions are so common and many seek desperately needed relief from various kinds of emotional or physical pain. I’ve talked about several different issues here from mental illness to prescriptions that may be addicting. The bottom line is our brains and bodies are very susceptible to becoming addicted—whether it is an opiate, alcohol, heroin, gambling, food, shopping. Anyone can become addicted; there is no shame in it. But I also believe that with help and faith in God, who cares more for us than any parent or friend, people can and do fight their addiction every day—and overcome it.

***

What are you addicted to? How do you deal with your cravings?

Do you worry about any prescription medications you take or have been given in the past?

Finding Hope In Recovery - .MP4 Digital Download

The documentary we produced was called Finding Hope in Recovery and it is still available from Vision Video.

***

My office also produced public service announcements for radio out of various documentaries. You can listen to them here.

***

I would be happy to mail you a CD of the radio spots shown above, for use on any radio station or website, class, or therapy group. Write to anotherwaymedia@yahoo.com or Another Way Media, Box 363, Singers Glen, VA 22850.

Another Way is a column © by Melodie Davis, in syndication since 1987. Columns are posted at http://www.FindingHarmonyBlog.com a week after newspaper publication.

 

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2 Comments
  1. For what it’s worth, one of my writer/blog friends, Kathy Pooler, is coming out with a book about her son’s addiction, a story of survival with the working title, Daring to Hope. This blog post is not specifically about Brian until the end where she features an excerpt in italics: https://krpooler.com/creativity/the-power-of-music-to-unlock-memories-a-memoir-moment

    • I’ll need to watch for Kathy’s book. The excerpt is full of suspense and intrigue–as I’m sure her story is. Thanks for popping up here with an always interesting angle. (I can’t find the place to comment on her site, not sure why!! Maybe because although I’ve visited before, not sure I’ve ever commented.

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