When will we get opioid addiction under control? How can you have any hope for recovery? All we’ve heard for years now is that the number of people addicted to pain pills and heroin has grown to epidemic proportion. Reports continue to show how many more people are dying from opioid addiction today compared to ten or twenty years ago.
What words can possibly make a new impact in the fight against opioid addiction? There may not be anything new to say, but there are new voices speaking out on this topic. Thankfully, those voices are getting attention.
Dr. Oz Publicizes the Fight Against Opioid Addiction
Dr. Oz is an expert on health issues whose support is often claimed for so-called miracle products that he really does not endorse. On the topic of opioid addiction, however, he speaks eloquently and he invites people to his website to make sure they get it right and pass it on. Dr. Oz presented topics related to opioid addiction at least five times in 2015, not counting televised repeats.
He also has a facts sheet, provided by the American Society of Addiction Medicine, film clips, and resources available to help those needing information on opioid addiction. You can meet some interesting people and find out about useful organizations on his website as well. With the voice of authority and credibility Dr. Oz has today, it’s voices like his that can shine the light on the disease of addiction and reduce the stigma of seeking treatment.
Dr. Adi Jaffe. There’s a two-minute interview that Dr. Oz conducts with Dr. Jaffe, a psychologist whose interest in opioid addiction grew from his days spent dealing methamphetamine and pain pills. Like many young men in their early 20s, he opted for rehab when he was busted for drugs in order to avoid jail time. He says his crazy life made him feel like a character in a Quentin Tarantino movie. Ultimately, he ended up doing a year in prison anyway, and that’s when he turned his preoccupation with drugs into a positive and earned his Ph.D.
Today Dr. Jaffe is only 34, but he has a website of his own—AllAboutAddiction.com. He discusses his greatest area of interest, which is the pathway that people choose on their journey into addiction. He also talks about the phrases used to describe addiction—should we call it addiction? Is it a disease or a disorder? A moral failing? He really wants to learn whether Nature or Nurture has the greater influence on the probability that someone will become addicted.
Steven Tyler. This old school rocker was also shown in clips on a Dr. Oz episode, when Dr. Oz participated in UNITE, the Rally to Face Addiction that took place in Washington, D.C., in October 2015. Tyler wore a t-shirt proclaiming that addiction didn’t define him, and it’s a message that grows in importance as we work to reduce the stigma associated with addiction and treatment.
For Tyler, his drug of choice was cocaine and did not involve opioid addiction. Nevertheless, it overtook his life and he lost 126 pounds. The first few times he went to rehab he found himself at places that were more focused on treating mental health patients than addiction issues. But something brought him to recovery, and he speaks out loud and clear these days on ways to fight addiction. There’s more about the October rally below, and also on Dr. Oz’s website.
Facing Addiction Website. Tyler was not the only celebrity to attend the October rally against addiction. People like Sheryl Crow, Taylor Swift, Joe Walsh, and many others attended. The Surgeon General promised to focus on opioid addiction research, a promising commitment that gives hope to those suffering.
But while the UNITE Rally is over, its effects continue. The website offers a tool for organizing a dinner to talk about addiction, whether it’s opioid addiction or abuse of another substance that rules your life or the life of someone you love.
The Drugs Over Dinner website takes you through a series of questions, and you don’t actually have to organize a dinner. Even if you want to do so, the website recommends starting out small with just 3 to 8 family and friends gathered. You answer the questions and enter your email, and along the way you will be directed to the website’s vast library of help topics including links to other resources.
You can also access people’s stories of successful recovery from opioid addiction and other drugs.
The Messages That You Need
Looking over the photos and video clips on Dr. Oz’s website, or on the other places mentioned here, there are overwhelming messages just in the images you’ll see. People carry signs and wear T-shirts that might seem like a glib way to pass on a message but people suffering from opioid addiction become so overwhelmed that the messages are important. You need to hear them over and over again so that you remember there is hope for you. You need to see them on the shirts that people wear and the signs that they carry so that you believe there is help for you.
- Addiction Doesn’t Define Me. Does diabetes or asthma define a person? No, and neither does addiction. You are the person who lives inside your skin, and not the person who hates the drugs that they’re using. Addiction is not who you are.
- It’s Time to End the Silence. Ignorance about addiction prevents people from getting the help they need. Families don’t understand the nature of addiction and they don’t know how to get help for a person dealing with addiction within the family group. They don’t understand the therapies that will work best for problems like opioid addiction—that methadone or buprenorphine treatment may offer the best option for recovery.
- Recovery Is Contagious. People, places, and things—you hear that phrase a million times in recovery. It’s really true that hanging out with people in recovery will help you with your recovery.
- KISS. Keep It Simple Stupid (or Sweetie). So many truisms that come from AA make good t-shirts! There’s Just For Today, Recovery Works, and the mysterious Rule 62—which just means to enjoy life and don’t take yourself too seriously.
Rule 62: A Harbinger of Hope
The last message about Rule 62 carries extra importance if you are struggling with opioid addiction. People who become addicted to pain pills or heroin become discouraged when they try over and over to achieve sobriety. They become fearful that they will never succeed. Too many people have confessed to their families that they have no hope and that heroin has taken over their lives.
But achieving recovery often does take multiple attempts. Recovery from opioid addiction is difficult without the help of a medication such as methadone or buprenorphine. Considering that addiction is an illness, those medications provide the person with the ability to stabilize their bodies so that they can make clear-headed decisions not affected by cravings and withdrawal symptoms.
And this is the message for someone who has gone through recovery but relapsed: Go again. For many people it takes more than one turn through recovery. If you haven’t tried medication-assisted treatment, then visit a local methadone or buprenorphine program to learn more about it. Addiction does not define you, and Recovery is a goal you can reach. But first you have to stretch out your arm and make that reach.