Heroin Support Blog

Our goal here is to provide our readers with the latest information about the signs of heroin addiction, support groups, treatment options, life in recovery, prevention & advocacy in our communities, and how to deal with grief of a lost loved one. If you have ideas or suggestions that you wish to share with us here please use our "Contact Us" page to email us.

Do You Know What Heroin Addiction Is Really Like???

EyeOfAnAddict

Hi, this is the first time I've put this all into writing. My name is John and I'm in love with a recovering addict. A little about me first. Just a short while ago those words would have been bizarre coming from me. I was a single dad (my son lives with me) he was 12 When i met her. I was an EMT for over 20 years with 3 OD /CPR saves under my belt, so clearly i knew what this whole addiction / sudo epidemic thing was all about (Ha, what a joke).

When I met her she was not an active addict. She told me that she had abused pills in the past but she got treated. Ok, so a "yellow" flag went up and was soon forgotten. Clearly she was cured. (Most of you are laughing right now) She owned her own home, car, was a single parent herself, had a great job (almost 6 figures). So, whatever had happened was clearly resolved. Besides, she was beautiful inside and out. The most gentle soul. Her favorite hobbies were crafting and sewing. We fell in love hard and fast. It wasn't long and she moved in with me. Her teenage son wanted nothing to do with this. This was a lot of uncertain change beyond his control. To me, it didn't seem like too big of a deal "we'll work it out". I said. I figured when you're in love, things will work out one way or the other. I was clueless and completely unprepared for what was about to happen.


She confided in a "less than" friend about some of the stresses she was dealing with, and knowing her past, offered her a synthetic pain killer that she didn't have to worry about getting addicted to. (Clearly more to this story, but that's not relevant right now). This went on for a short time before it was revealed that it was heroin. But, it was too late. She was hooked. Ashamed and hooked, she kept her secret hidden for a while. I knew something was off but, I just couldn't put my finger on it. She started missing work, she was gone strange hours, sleeping a lot, becoming distant in general. Of course not being able to pull one over on me, I figured it out. She must be cheating on me. Crying and full of shame she swore to me that's not what it was. Of course with no plausible explanation I didn't believe her.

(Pause: rewind... I'm an EMT. I recognize drug abuse from 100 feet away. I know the signs. I can tell you what people are abusing with pretty good accuracy. My spidy senses never kicked in.) Before long, she stopped coming home. But I didn't care. I was mad. Cheat on me will you? However, I was currently stuck with her 2 dogs, 2 cats, all of her belongings, and oh yeah.... Her teenage son. So, with her phone shut off, Not knowing exactly where she was....I emailed her. Boy did I let her have it. I laid it on thick. How dare she abandoned her responsibilities on me. All I got in response was "I'm sorry". That wasn't good enough by far. But, it wasn't the response I was expecting. I had been far too mean and sarcastic. It was dawning on me that something was askew. So the next email I changed my tone. I wanted to start a dialog. This time she responded. "I messed up. I'm hooked on heroin. The kind you inject. I'm so sorry. I love you".

What?! How? No! B.S!, confusion, denial anger. But, if that's true..... I missed the signs. I was all wrong. What do i do now? She made a bad decision, but she doesn't deserve to die for it. I know how to handle an overdose but I had no idea how to handle this.

My world was spinning out of control. I decided to immerse myself in this heroin addiction thing. What it was. What is heroin. How it works. Why it happens. How to fix it. I wanted a solid understanding of what it was. So I googled it. I went to forums for users, for addicts in recovery. I went to doctors and nurses. They had the same understanding about addiction that I did. (That's a huge part of the problem, the front line of the war on drugs doesn't understand what it really means to be addicted) keep in mind, something like 5 out of 7 opiate addicts started with doctor oversight. I talked to recovering addicts. Finally, some useful insight. I talked to active users. I listened to every word like they were my professor and I was cramming for finals. I talked to recovery counselors. (They are the first professionals in this battle that actually grasp the problem). I learned that quitting heroin is brutal. I'd come to see it first hand. The sweats, anxiety, mood swings, graduating to restless legs and arms. That's about the time electricity shoots through the bones. The excruciating pain. The grief, and shame. The insomnia and nausea. Desperately trying anything to bring relief. Truly believing that happiness may never be felt again. Sometimes feeling a loss hope. If a terrorist were subjected to this, it would be considered inhumane.

One thing kept coming to the forefront. This is their addiction. It will have to be their recovery. She needs to want it or it will all be for nothing. I can't force her. But don't count me out of the picture yet. I can learn how to be a healthy part of her recovery. How to encourage. How not to enable. How to draw the line in the sand and stick to it. I can go to meetings and learn the steps. Boy did that backfire. I'm not the addicted one but, apparently I needed to make some personal changes (before my flaws were pointed out, I was pretty sure I was close to prefect). I learned that some of my actions weren't healthy in this relationship and they couldn't continue. I had to do some deep soul searching be honest with myself. But, if she is willing to get help, I'll do it. Whatever it takes.

Finally weeks had gone by and I had been able to keep some dialog going through the emails. Several other events occurred in the meantime, but I'll save that for the movie, lol. Suffice it to say, the police may or may not have been involved and I may have made a few mistakes along the way. (Note: don't waste your time being vindictive to their supplier. It may feel good, but it takes away from the objective).

She finally said the words......"I'm in over my head. I need help but I'm scared". I told her "don't worry, I have a plan" and she said "ok". Well, That was music to my ears. Now i just had to come up with a plan. What i came up with was a good solid plan. Unfortunately it ended up requiring about 18 contingency plans. There were times when faith was thin (to put it mildly) on both sides. Ultimately in order to detox without her supplier walking and taking her out knowing she was still too vulnerable to resist and the staff taking the cavalier attitude of "well, that's what addicts do".

We decided to go out of state and detox in a motel room for two weeks. (Not highly recommended even though it worked for her. I can not stress enough that this is not for the faint of heart). It was nothing short of cruel. But, she was determined. She truly believed it was this or death. With the heroin out of her system. Clear headed (more than she had been in a while) We were able to get her into a very helpful inpatient program back home and drove straight there. This was not the end of the struggle by far. The battle continued for some time to come.

During this ordeal I watched her resolve herself to die rather than face the shame of what she'd done. I had her family members tell me things like "don't walk away from her.... run" , she's just being selfish, if she dies I'd like to have her photo albums. They turned their backs on her because she made her selfish decision. She hadn't done anything to them. Not borrowed money, not stolen, pawned or pilfered. Inconvenienced them in no way. But, because of the stigma, of this dark mysterious "H" word, turned their backs on her. Police made it clear that they will not go out on a limb for a junkie. Admitting that it was less of a liability to wait until they overdosed and just do the paperwork. The general consensus amongst first responders was "thats sad, I hope they get help but it's most likely a waste of time". A notable lack of compassion. And the ignorance in general (including myself until this and still learning) shows the need for education at every level of this battle.

Yes, initially this was a choice that your loved one made to take this drug. People need to understand that this drug gave the greatest, most euphoric feeling ever felt by your loved one. It allowed them to escape from the stress of everything. That is, until it didn't. And stopping means feeling the worst hell you never even imagined or spend a few dollars to get well enough to keep going. But, then it consumes you and spirals out of control ruining everything you were. It's a viscous cycle that takes an act of bravery and courage to face head on.

I didn't write this for those in recovery. They know this better than anyone like me could. That's the one group that is compassionate about heroin abuse and passionate about helping other addicts and those affected by addiction with their recovery. (Imagine that, the same people written off as waste by general society, are the most compassionate of all of them).

I wrote this for people like me, that just don't have a clue what the battle of heroin addiction really looks and feels like. What they can do to help. Where they fit into their loved one's recovery. To help break the stigma of this dark back alley hardcore drug to the #1 painkiller of the last 3000 years that it is, affecting every demographic in this country. And for loved one's to get an account of some of the things to expect as their loved one faces their journey into their recovery. And to give hope. Because, recovery does work. And as a family member affected by addiction. I'm here to tell you, not only did I survive. But, I'm stronger for it.

My loved one is now 3 years clean and we're planning our wedding now. I still come to this amazing support group of active users, those in recovery and parents for inspiration and guidance. (I suspect I always will). There's a lot of love and knowledge in these posts in this private group.

Best wishes

John Gold

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Alexandria, Ky - "Angel Program" - Volunteers Helping Those Who Are Struggling With Addiction

Alexandria ACTS Flyer

What is the Alexandria, Kentucky Angel Program?

Beginning October 1, 2016, any person who enters the Alexandria Police Department and requests help with their addiction to opiates will be immediately screened into our Angel Program for placement in a local treatment facility. As a police-led and volunteer supported initiative, officers will connect people with substance use disorders to treatment options in the community, while volunteer “Angels” support participants during the intake process.

Moreover, officers will dispose of any drugs or drug equipment in the participant’s possession and not charge them with a crime. Ultimately, our goal is to connect participants to local, state, or out-of-state treatment facilities which provide an appropriate continuum of care based on the participant’s needs.


The Angel Program Origins
Massachusetts began the Gloucester ANGEL Initiative in June 2015. One year since inception, Gloucester has referred more than 450 people into treatment and shown a 33% reduction in property crime rates.

The success of the program and widespread need for new solutions to the heroin epidemic led to the development of Police Assisted Addiction Recovery Initiative (PAARI), a non-profit organization that provides support for police agencies launching similar programs and networking with nationwide treatment centers.

Reasons for Change
The City of Alexandria and Northern Kentucky has been strongly impacted by the heroin and opioid epidemic. According to the Kentucky Office of Drug Control Policy 2015 Overdose Fatality Report, Campbell, Boone and Kenton Counties have had a high rate of overdose deaths due to illicit and/or prescription drugs that were inflicted intentionally or unintentionally including heroin and Fentanyl.

Kentucky Resident Drug Overdose Deaths 2014-2015 (Source: http://odcp.ky.gov/)
(These deaths represent overdoses by illicit and/or prescription drugs that were inflicted intentionally or unintentionally)
Campbell County - 176 deaths (45 from heroin)
Boone County - 180 deaths (23 from heroin)
Kenton County - 307 deaths (72 from heroin)

KyOverdoseDeaths2014 2015

Overall, drug-related crime, public health issues, and overdoses in our community have pushed our police to develop innovative programs to address this crisis. We wanted to implement a program with proven success at reducing drug-related crime and removing barriers to treatment.

Alexandria's Dedication to Drug Enforcement
The Alexandria Police Department is strongly dedicated to bringing justice to drug dealers and suppliers in our city. While we will continue to arrest and prosecute drug traffickers to the highest extent, this program aims to reduce their clientele by minimizing the stigma of addiction and removing barriers to recovery. The Alexandria Police Department will be a safe place for those who are ready to for help with their addiction.

Angel Program Walk-In-Hours at the Alexandria Police Station
Monday - Friday
10:00 am - 6:00 pm

For more information on our Addiction Community Training & Support (ACTS) and Angel Program, please contact:
Kelly Pompilio, MSW
Police Social Worker
City of Alexandria
8236 West Main Street
Alexandria, KY 41001
Ph. 859-448-2807
fax. 859-635-4123
email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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People need to get educated on addiction, so we can change the stigma surrounding the social label of ‘JUNKIE’

JunkieStigma
“People need to get educated on addiction, so we can change the stigma surrounding the social label of ‘JUNKIE’.  Addiction is a brain disease.  It’s not like they can just make a choice to stop and it’s over.  This disease changes the functionality and structure of the brain.  Most of them hate the life they live each day as they are labeled “a social outcast who grow up wanting to be a junkie”.  They have a hard time finding affordable and available treatment beds.  With other diseases we are quick to make life better for those people but why not for addicts who suffer from the disease of addiction?  Addicts are good people with a disease and deserve to be treated the same respect and understanding as you and I are in life.”
 
- www.HeroinSupport.org
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Heroin. Stop the Silence. Speak the Truth. Start the Conversation.

KurtToday

A boy from my old neighborhood died this week. He was no longer a ‘boy’, he was 26, but to me he was still one of the kids. They ran around in the summer as a pack. You could tell where they were by looking for their pile of bikes. Scenes from those days of innocence keep flashing through my head – when they went from one house to another, rode their bikes to the playground or to the store- images of boyhood youth. Now he’s gone. Heroin stole him. My heart is breaking for his mother and siblings. They have already been through so much, having lost their husband and father to cancer four years ago. I’m sure Addiction has also stolen years of this family’s life. I know how Addiction takes over a home, because Addiction has been an unwelcome member of our family for the last ten years.

Addiction is stealthy. It hides in basements and bathrooms and bedrooms. It steals children and decimates families under a cloak of silence. The addicts themselves are embarrassed and guilty and are afraid to ask for help. Parents feel inadequate, trying to figure out where they went wrong, what could they have done better. I was a stay at home Mom for God’s sake, and my firstborn is a heroin addict. What does that say about me? Guilt, silence, embarrassment – these are Addiction’s wingmen, giving it the wind needed to kill our kids, gaining strength in whispers at book clubs and coffee shops, ‘he’s an addict you know’.

speak

It’s time to Stop the Silence. It’s time to Speak the Truth. My son is a heroin addict. I want to wear a t-shirt, a hat, a pin, something. I want a suffering family member or addict to see me in the grocery store and be able to walk up and say ‘me too’. I want families to not feel isolated and alone in this hell that is Addiction. It is everywhere, and we are hiding it because we feel guilty and ashamed. I have seen in people’s eyes in the past that they knew my son was an addict. But they also didn’t know if I knew, and I wasn’t shouting it from the rooftops. So the elephant was with me everywhere I went. We lived in a small town. I was sure everyone knew. I was sure my son’s name was whispered when I wasn’t there. Yet I stayed silent.

My son is in recovery. He has been clean and sober for 16 months. It’s a miracle he’s alive. That miracle cost us a small fortune. True recovery is not cheap and it is not easy. It is not five days of detox, have a nice day. It is not a thirty day stint in rehab, have a nice life. It is a slow, slogging, exhausting crawl out of the muddy nasty pit Addiction digs under you. My son spent thirty days full in-patient, sixty more days at the same hospital in a step down program, and then five months in transition housing and treatment. He moved to a sober house where he has been for the past eight months. None of this was easy for him. He dug deep and worked hard. He would not have been able to do this without the support he had along the way. He recognizes that he will need that support for a very long time if not forever. He is beginning to see light and a future, but it certainly didn’t happen during his first thirty days – or even the next ninety. Time is the key, and time costs money. We spent a huge chunk of our life savings to buy him the time he needed.  It was a scary gamble for us, but we chose to bet on our son. We’re grateful and thankful he chose to double down on that bet for all he was worth.  We were lucky we had the ability to throw those dice. A huge percentage of addicts don’t have anyone (or have burned out the people they used to have) with the resources to get them the help they need.

My son had an Anthem Blue Cross/Blue Shield PPO plan. It listed addiction recovery as something they cover. It listed detox and hospitalization as something they cover.  I have in my possession a letter that states the diagnosis is heroin addiction and can be treated outpatient.  Detox, denied. Inpatient rehab, denied. Anthem’s medical plan did not pay one dime of his treatment costs.

Recently my son accompanied someone who asked for help to the ER. He had relapsed and wanted to get into detox. There was not a single bed in any detox facility in the state, for any price.  He had to wait almost a week for a bed to open up. In that week this young man stayed safe by staying on the couch in my son’s sober living house and not spending one minute alone. Kicking addiction takes a village, but addicts need a ticket into that village, and they are few and far between – and very very costly.

How are we to deal with this epidemic if we as a society leave these addicts out there to die? We all pay the price of this epidemic. Banks, gas stations, convenience stores are being robbed at gunpoint. Home invasions, car break-ins, shoplifting, and credit card fraud are all ways addicts are feeding their habit. For the families of addicts, we get to go looking for stolen possessions – sister’s jewelry, brother’s amp- at pawn shops, or we reach to pay for something only to find our money is gone. Let’s not forget the children of addicts. They pay the highest price.

The news tells us to worry about terrorists and Ebola and whatever else they think will increase their ratings. I understand that these threats are real, but our society is quietly rotting in basements and bedrooms across America. Opiates and methamphetamines are destroying this country from within, stealing the next generation right out from under our noses. Kids who should be going to proms and football games are stealing from their parents, dropping out of school, and starting on a path that ends with jail or death. They are our future, and we need to start fighting for them.

The front line of this fight is to Stop the Silence. Scream the Truth. Let people know that Addiction is in their own towns. It walks the halls of their schools and sits beside them in their workplace. It is teaching their children, driving their buses, policing their streets, and killing their neighborhood children.

If we stop the silence, people will start fighting this battle together instead of feeling ineffective, isolated and alone. If we speak the truth, society will begin to recognize the crisis we are all facing as this epidemic of Addiction stops hiding behind walls of silence and is driven into the light. If we start the conversation, we as a society can put our efforts toward a solution.

Share your story. Let people know how Addiction has touched your life. It has probably touched their lives as well. Help save our children.

My son is a heroin addict.

 

Stop the Silence. Speak the Truth. Start the Conversation.

 

- Patricia Byrne is from Canton MA and lives in Westminster CO

 

Follow "Stop the Silence. Speak the Truth. Start the Conversation" on Facebook and on their blog.

 

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Heroin - I destroy homes

 

Lose Everything To Heroin

Heroin

"I destroy homes, tear families apart,take your children, and that's just the start.I'm more costly than diamonds, more costly than gold,the sorrow I bring is a sight to behold,and if you need me, remember I'm easily found.I live all around you, in schools and in town.I live with the rich, I live with the poor,I live down the street, and maybe next door.My power is awesome; try me you'll see,but if you do, you may never break free.Just try me once and I might let you go,but try me twice, and I'll own your soul.When I possess you, you'll steal and you'll lie.You do what you have to just to get high.The crimes you'll commit, for my narcotic charmswill be worth the pleasure you'll feel in your arms.You'll lie to your mother; you'll steal from your dadWhen you see their tears, you should feel sad.But you'll forget your morals and how you were raised,I'll be your conscience, I'll teach you my ways.I take kids from parents, and parents from kids,I turn people from God, and separate from friends.I'll take everything from you, your looks and your pride,I'll be with you always, right by your side.You'll give up everything your family, your home,your friends, your money, then you'll be alone.I'll take and take, till you have nothing more to give.When I'm finished with you you'll be lucky to live.If you try me be warned this is no game.If given the chance, I'll drive you insane.I'll ravish your body; I'll control your mind.I'll own you completely; your soul will be mine.The nightmares I'll give you while lying in bed,the voices you'll hear from inside your head,the sweats, the shakes, the visions you'll see;I want you to know, these are all gifts from me,But then it's too late, and you'll know in your heart,that you are mine, and we shall not part.You'll regret that you tried me, they always do,but you came to me, not I to you.You knew this would happen. Many times you were told,but you challenged my power, and chose to be bold.You could have said no, and just walked away,If you could live that day over, now what would you say?I'll be your master; you will be my slave,I'll even go with you, when you go to your grave.Now that you have met me, what will you do?Will you try me or not? Its all up to you.I can bring you more misery than words can tell.Come take my hand, let me lead you to hell."

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