Hope is brewing for those who wonder if they could successfully kick heroin or pain pill addiction in one of the opioid addiction treatment programs they hear about. The truth is that many people overdose and die without ever getting into treatment, because the dollars have just not been available to fund the necessary programs.
However, today’s political climate might be just what we need to jumpstart access to treatment that means real help for opiate addicts. For most people, that means medication-assisted treatment in local opioid addiction treatment programs.
Gone are the days when heroin addicts were seen as stringy-haired, sallow-skinned ‘junkies’ lurking on street corners. Long ago we felt that junkies who overdosed brought their fate upon themselves. Today’s pain pill and heroin addicts are the children in our high schools, the college graduates looking for jobs. Today’s pain pill and heroin addicts might be you and me.
Caitlin Owens, writing for the National Journal, tells us that 9 percent of Americans have loved a family member or a friend who overdosed and died. Over 27 percent of us have known someone close to them who was addicted to pain pills.
The politicians—the people who control the purse strings in this country—are finally speaking out as a group about the need for opioid addiction treatment programs. They finally recognize that heroin and pain pill addiction is not a social misbehavior but a tragic medical disorder that can be treated successfully, if the appropriate programming is put into place.
The best treatment for an opiate addict comes from medication-assisted opioid addiction treatment programs that operate according to guidelines set by the federal government’s Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). They operate according to regulations put in place by the Commission on the Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF).
The opioid addiction treatment programs that work involve the medically supervised administration of medications including methadone and buprenorphine (Suboxone). Other programs that rely on abstinence-based methods work for a while, as long as the person remains in treatment. However, without the benefits of medically managed treatment, relapse often quickly follows discharge.
Politicians have always been slow to admit that anything like a drug ever passed their lips. It was outrageous that Bill Clinton—in 1992, still a presidential hopeful—admitted he had tried marijuana and cocaine but didn’t like it, that he hadn’t inhaled. Years later, our current president, Barack Obama, has admitted that he tried marijuana and inhaled, because that, after all, was the point of using it.
People who are a few decades into adulthood will remember Election 2000, when photos of George W. Bush hit the papers. He was frozen-faced, like a deer caught in the headlights, clamming up about his past cocaine use. Today we can thank Snopes, which quelled recent rumors that Bush was arrested with cocaine once again in his car, mouthing off to the Dallas police officers who hauled his behind off to jail.
Among today’s politicians, you may not be surprised to hear that Jeb Bush also tried some of that wacky tobacky—brother like brother, after all. And you probably won’t raise an eyebrow to learn that Bernie Sanders toked and smoked. But can you picture Ted Cruz getting high? How about John Kerry? Al Gore and Newt Gingrich both admitted past use, and there are a few others.
Calling For Opioid Addiction Treatment Programs
Both Carly Fiorina and Chris Christie have spoken out strongly against any laws that would legalize marijuana within the states. Several Republican presidential hopefuls have talked publicly, in some cases guardedly—painfully—about the more serious effects of opiates and how they have affected their families. From their personal experiences they recognize the widespread effects of the opiate addiction epidemic in this country.
Jeb Bush realizes that as a people, we must stick together in order to beat the vast epidemic of opiate addiction. When his daughter Noelle was arrested in 2002, she spent a short time in jail for trying to fill a false pain pill prescription, and she still stays mainly out of the limelight. But at least he saw her in a jail cell and not on a morgue slab, he realizes.
Carly Fiorina is understandably more hesitant to discuss the details surrounding her daughter’s death. Lori Ann was 34 when she died from an overdose, despite three admissions into opioid addiction treatment programs, and so Fiorina learned first-hand the impact that opiate addiction can have on a family.
Chris Christie Speaks Out
Few have spoken so eloquently against pain pill and heroin addiction as New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. His six-minute speech in New Hampshire has gone viral on YouTube. His points speak to the need for medication-assisted treatment in opioid addiction treatment programs.
His first point in the video begins with discussion of his mother’s nicotine addiction—not very relevant to opiates, you might think. But then he describes how her use of cigarettes led to a diagnosis of cancer. Nobody said that she since she caused her illness she should be put in jail instead of receiving treatment. Instead, she received every therapy available for her specific diagnosis. And that is the kind of therapy, available through opioid addiction treatment programs, that every addicted person should receive.
Next he talks about being prolife—again, how is that connected to heroin and pain pills? But then he recalls seeing a 16-year-old girl lying on the floor of a jail cell, going through heroin withdrawal cold turkey. He points out that if you were prolife when the girl was a fetus in the womb, before she harmed or annoyed anyone, then you should be prolife at a time when she needs and deserves help through the local opioid addiction treatment programs that hopefully would be available in her community.
Last, he tells us the story about a man he met in college. He and the man were two among several other friends, who became a band of brothers throughout college and into their professional lives. Of them all, this one man had the best scholastic record, the most successful career, the most beautiful wife, and was the father of three beautiful children. When this man was prescribed pain pills for back pain, he became addicted. It was the start of a ten-year odyssey that began with the brotherhood confronting him intervention-style. It ended with the man lying dead on the floor of a motel room, beside a bottle of Percocet tablets and a quart of vodka. It could have been me, he says. It could be you.
Get Help Now
For the person addicted to opiates who is prescribed methadone or buprenorphine (Suboxone), treatment offers a hope that’s simply not there in other types of programs. Those medications are prescribed by a doctor and managed just the same way that the doctor would supervise therapy for diabetes or hypertension. They eliminate cravings for heroin or pain pills for the person who compulsively seeks out illegal drugs every four hours of the day. They control the withdrawal symptoms that would otherwise drive the person back into drug use. They allow the person who is sick and tired of being sick and tired to step back and regain control of their life.
If you live in a community that contains one of the opioid addiction treatment programs you’ve been reading about, then make the decision to change your life. You can pick up the phone and call or you can just walk into the treatment center and ask how to get started. It’s that simple. The time is now.