Thursday, June 1, 2017

Take Away - Heroin Epidemic

Back on May 22, I attended the Heroin Epidemic Discussion in Springfield, PA and the place was packed. You could feel the sadness, the frustration and the downright despair in that room when you walked in. The people were not there for the snacks. They came seeking answers. I saw it as a good thing and I believe that many of those in attendance left with hope. Here is my list of new information I took away from the gathering.


1. After just 5 days on an opiate you have a 60 - 70 % chance of becoming addicted. That was a staggering statistic to me. Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act

2. Opiate addiction has no age boundaries, the problem ranges from 71 - 19 years of age. Economic status has no bearing on its selection of victims.

3. Appropriation bills up for discussion and vote in 2017-18 in PA. You can read more about them at the links and in some cases get on a list to follow the progress.

 

Bill 428 a more patient-centered focus in the treatment of opioid addiction.

Bill 472 this legislation would limit the number of days to 7 to be prescribed fr a substance containing an opioid, unless there is a medical reason that puts the patients life in dander. This legislation also will require those that prescribe to discuss the risk and dangers of overdose associated with the medication.

Bill 535 Age-appropriate opioid awareness program in schools for students in grades 6th through 12.

Bill 446 Standards for Drug and Alcohol Recovery Houses.

I also wrote down the number 301 but was unable to find the connection on the PA General Assembly website. It may have something to do with being able to having someone committed without their consent. Those laws are tricky and were made with the best intentions but may have backfired in some instances.


4. The one pro-active thing the presenters were requesting of the entire audience was to go home and go through your medicine cabinet and properly discard all medication you are no longer using. Statistics say most children start abusing drugs with pills. Here is a list of locations and if the link doesn't work, most if not all police stations have medicine drop boxes and I believe Riddle Hospital does as well. Do not flush them, its not good for the environment.

5. Another eye opening tidbit referenced the training that relator's go through now. That was a possible calculating approach of an addict to obtain drugs. During an open house two individuals could work as a team. One person could distract the realtor, while the other raids the medicine cabinet. Things to think about if you are considering placing your house on the market. You certainly would not want to make medications prescribed to you get into the wrong hands or have someone steal yours. Hide or lock up your drugs and discard any expired or unused medication.

6.  The NARCAM Program is a life saver. Naloxone is a medication that reverses an overdose of opioids. You can find out more about how a family member or friends can obtain a prescription to aid someone who has overdosed.

7. Addiction is not an individual problem the whole family suffers and addicts don't want help. One of the addicts in recovery, maybe all those in recovery mentioned it is not their intention to harm the family. 


8. Probably the most influential speakers of the night were the recovering addicts. Some held the microphone in front of the assembly and others spoke loudly and proud from their seats in the audience. One question I wanted to ask but did not was, how did you do it, finally quit. I think that question was answered by the end of the evening but let me just share some of the things that were said.

Why can't you stop? There is a imaginary line where you lose power of choice.

My mind said, don't use it, my body said, I need it.

Two parents spoke. 
One had a son who has had a 13 year addition. He has been in and out of rehab 7 - 8 times.  He is now in a recovery house in Florida. At the end of the meeting someone from the back of the room addressed him directly and said, Tell your son, it is not how many times you fall, but the amount of times you get back up. 

Wow, what a powerful statement. It is not how many times you fall, but the amount of times you get back up.

A mom spoke, so you know I had tears in my eyes, she lost her son to heroin. He had been in rehab 5 times. He became addicted initially to pain medicine from a sports injury. She speaks at recovery houses and tells these people..........

Your mother wants you to come home. Your mother wants you to get well. Just like I am sure, she hoped and prayed would happen with her son. She prays for your sons and daughters now.

It is important to note and they made this very clear, someone with a drug addiction is not intentionally trying to hurt anyone else. Parents, friends, family do not cause, can not control and can not cure this disease/epidemic but there are plenty of people and places to find help. The challenge is getting your loved one to that help and the even greater challenge is getting them to stick with it. Opiates have a powerful pull.





9. There is also a database now that a doctor can check a patient's name to ensure someone is not going from doctor to doctor to get this medication, a common practice that now has limits.

10. Go to the Delaware County, PA Department of Human Services, Office of Behavioral Health, Division of Drug and Alcohol to view the services that are available to residents.

The organization that was sponsoring the event I attended besides the elected officials that were there was called "Springfield Cares" they are on Facebook and the Springfield Police Department offers an educational program that goes out to schools. Also check DA Whelan's website, he has a lot of information and a vested interest.

I really did not know what any of these drugs looked like.  They had a display and throughout the blog I have added a few pictures if you too are in the dark about these drugs that are a real threat to our society. The bags of heroin are small.


I am most fortunate in that drug addiction has not crossed paths in my family but I have been present with a friend when a family member admitted himself into a treatment facility. During the time in the waiting room, one young man sat there by himself waiting for a room to be available, he appeared to be fidgety and nervous. An ambulance also arrived with another young man, I suspect he had been an overdose.  He was lucid and explained to the gentleman checking in that he would have to call his mom, she handled all the insurance business. My heart broke for both of these boys and I prayed to God thanking him for my fortunate family situation but you never know when this ugly beast is waiting to take over some one you love. It is a horrible wide ranging disease that is affecting so many people and those that love them.

Most of us know someone who has been touched by this epidemic and the best we can all do is care it's all around us and to be aware.

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