Friday, June 26, 2009

Married to dope

My wife got a book recently that she said I should take a look at. It is “Esquire Presents: What It Feels Like:…” by AJ Jacobs. It is an interesting, quick read with short essays on things like what it is like to be gored by a bull or survive a hurricane. I wanted to share one bit from “What It Feels Like To Do Heroin”. I share this so that it can inspire parents, schools, and other groups to push primary prevention; to work hard to prevent that first use. So that people ensure access to secondary prevention (treatment) and, maybe, reduce a bit of the stigma of seeking help and the stigma attached to those people who become users:

Everybody looks at you with reproach…you are married to dope. It’s more than half your life. It is your life. All you want is to be high. And if you are sick, all you want is to get right. It all comes down to one thing: The first time you did heroin you felt better than you’d ever felt in your entire life.” (David “Wilson”, 41, former addict)

This essay is about heroin, but it equally applies to prescription pain meds and any number of other addictive drugs.

I am reading a report on the growing crisis with prescription drug overdoses, more on that later.


Anonymous said...

Broken Hearted

Aimed toward recovery, the young lad took time enough to think of why he's at where he is.

Taking responsibility isn't quite enough to fully please him. He's taken a good look around him and he doesn't know what to think or where to start. He knows he is doing the right thing for himself. People tell him they wish they could go back to his age to
cooperate in something like this.

They tell him that they wouldn't be there if they had earlier. ohh, only time can tell where this kid will be, but he knows. He knows
that he doesn't like what he is seeing or what he feels about it all.

He only knows what he can feel, that he doesn't want to give up, slip away from it all.
2006 © j

Jill Davidson said...

Do you know of any research that addresses the possible correlation between opiate usage and people described as "adrenaline" junkies? This is an expression I've heard used to explain the appeal of fast and dangerous sports. Since my son's love affair with heroin provided him with a break from the need to recreate an adrenaline rush, I wonder if it could be more than a coincidence.

Additionally, during this last week, I've consoled two mothers of heroin addicts. One young boy died, and the other is well on his way. Each had a history of anxiety disorder.

As to seeking treatment, the stigma is profound. It begins in the E.R. where the dope sick junkie is met with aversion and disgust and continues after admission unless the hospital is equipped with a rehab facility.

Again, thank you for your blog.

Best regards, Jill Davidson

Dr. Richard Keller said...

There are a couple of theories why risk-seeking, “adrenaline junky”, teens get into drugs and addicted to drugs at a higher rate.

They are self-medicating this brain-based risk-seeking drive with the drugs or drug taking is just another manifestation of risk taking. I lean toward the self-medicating explanation. That belief certainly leads to something more than “just say no” prevention and treatment.

It certainly is more than a coincidence.

Erika Lyn Smith said...

Dr. Keller,

I just came across your amazing blog. I am a RN and I work in Behavioral Medicine in Saint Louis and have worked with adolescents in this field for over 10 years. When I ask my teens, mostly boys, who are repeat admissions involving poly-substance abuse issues with a dx of either BAD or ADD/ADHD, I am told they feel depressed and anxious. Many have been prescribed anti-depressants, stimulants or mood stabilizers, in various combinations, and yet many continue to stop using prescribed medications and instead choose to self medicate with illicit drugs. The reason for choosing illicit drugs versus FDA approved medications is beyond me. Many leave the hospital feeling better once a medication regime has been established but within 1-2 months most have discontinued taking their medication, and return to using illicit drugs.

I do believe that this new generation has a feeling of hopelessness (from a previous blog entry) unlike any other generation, as to why or where that comes from I am unsure. Perhaps the multitude of divorces and single parent homes compared to other generations. I have not looked at stats for divorce rates over from past generations compared to today but it seems almost every child I admit has only one involved parent, or is being raised by a grandparent/s or other family member like an aunt or an uncle. I can no longer keep track of how many have dealt with a parental suicide, or parent serving time in prison for some kind of drug offense.

The other issue are parents who choose not to be an active parent until it is way to late. These are parents who have set no boundaries in their child’s lifetime and try to befriend their child, rather than parent the child, and eventually little Johnny is not so little and he chooses to rule the roost and parents are now afraid of their child because he is loud, angry, and defiant. Yet so many parents blame the child's BAD or ADD/ADHD Dx. While some of it is I suppose normal teen behavior/hormones, much more is b/c parents do not want to take the time to teach their child how to be a productive and responsible young adult. Then the parent/s expect a hospital based crisis stabilization unit to “fix” their child in one week or less in a situation where their 16 years of non-essential parenting created an out of control bully.

Perhaps all of this plays into the feeling of hopelessness or impending doom teens have that makes him or her feel he or she will not survive past their 20-30-40’s. I do not know.