Because her pain never stopped

Let me tell you a story about a friend I used to have, let’s call him Paul. He was in his 60s when he fell in love with a 20-year-old prostitute, let’s call her Ashley. Ashley was also a meth addict.

Unfortunately, real life isn’t like the movies — and this story isn’t like the Julia Robert’s film, Pretty Woman.

Paul mentioned that Ashley had been on drugs since the age of 13, and started selling her body not long thereafter. He told me of the many occasions when he found Ashley at his back door, smelly, dirty, broke, and in need of care. He would get her cleaned up, but she never stayed for long. The last time I saw Paul, he told me that child protective services had taken away Ashley’s two-year-old, which sent her into another meth binge.

Paul said he had tried over and over again to get Ashley into rehab, but she didn’t want to go. Just like many other drug addicts, Ashley probably didn’t believe she could get clean. She didn’t believe in herself. And even after 7 years of this life, Ashley still didn’t want to stop. Because her pain never stopped.

It’s very difficult and humbling to recognize that a drug has so much power over you. That it’s stronger than you. But another part of this struggle is dealing with the physical pain and torture of withdrawal. Because, make no mistake about it, drug withdrawal can be torture. It’s a different kind of torture than chronic pain, and although I’ve experienced both, I don’t know how to describe the difference.

Searching on YouTube for “addiction,” I found visual representations of this torture:

What you’ll also see in this video is a prime example of how not to treat a drug addict — with shame and derision (even if with good intentions) — which just increases these very same emotions in the patient. He’s already disgusted with himself, which is why he agreed to the cold-turkey detox. But time and time again, he’s unable to go cold-turkey because he can’t stand the pain (the torture).

This is the kind of torture that overdose victims suffer through when they’re given naloxone:

http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2016/03/22/life-is-hell-after-narcan-heroin-s-miracle-cure.html

For instance, to the uninformed, it is inconceivable that someone who nearly died from a drug would run out that very same day and buy more of it. Narcan works by binding to opioid receptors, blocking the effect of narcotics like heroin. In drug users with a physical dependency, it also has the effect of causing severe withdrawal symptoms. This all but guarantees that the first thing a user will think of after their overdose is reversed is getting another fix…

“It’s snaps you right out, but now you’re sick,” she said. Tammy explained how EMTs took her to a nearby hospital for treatment, but her withdrawal symptoms were so bad she ran from the vehicle when it reached its destination. She says she tried shooting up to feel better but the naloxone in her system blocked the heroin.

“You could do 30 bags and you’re not going to feel nothing for hours,” she said…

Meanwhile, several users told The Daily Beast that police officers sometimes use the drug irresponsibly to rouse addicts who are sleeping or nodding out in public. That claim is hard to independently verify, but Jeff Deeney, a treatment professional who works with drug-addicted populations in North Philadelphia, told The Daily Beast he has heard similar anecdotes from clients…

http://www.buzzfeed.com/catferguson/addiction-marketplace

In the midst of a national opiate epidemic, politicians are talking a lot about addiction treatment… But few if any of these public discussions address what “getting help” actually looks like…

Because the best way to milk insurance is to cycle addicts through detox, rehab, and outpatient programs, there’s plenty of incentive to keep them relapsing. Five recovering addicts told BuzzFeed News that some marketers give their recruits money for drugs so they test positive on urine tests when checking into treatment…

Florida has struggled to regulate the recovery industry… The Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF), the body tasked with regulating rehab and detox centers, is woefully underfunded, they say, and doesn’t have staff to enforce its own regulations. And it doesn’t have any power over halfway houses…

There are few numbers on how many addicts get clean in rehab, and even fewer on how many stay clean. By nature, it’s a transient population, difficult to track for the multiple years required to get solid evidence of efficacy. And there’s little incentive for rehab centers to shine a light on relapse rates, which likely hover around 90%…

Even in countries that have safe injection sites for heroin users, the relapse rate is still high (but much lower than America’s 90%). But, at least in one of these countries, the death rate from heroin overdoses is now zero.

Here’s a little good news for New Mexico:

(3/16/2016) ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The federal government is giving more than $1.7 million to five health centers and treatment providers in New Mexico to improve and expand substance-abuse services, particularly the treatment of opioid abuse. Sens. Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich announced the grants being awarded by the Department of Health and Human Services. The senators said grants are going to First Choice Community Healthcare Inc. and First Nations Community Health Source Inc. in Albuquerque, La Familia Medical Center and Presbyterian Medical Services Inc. in Santa Fe, and the Pueblo of Jemez…

I’ve done my best to understand addiction. But what to do about those who don’t want treatment? Who are not ready for treatment? I was thinking that if a cancer patient refused treatment, it wouldn’t be considered shameful, like with drug addiction. Even psychiatric patients usually have the right to refuse treatment. But pushing and forcing drug addicts into treatment obviously doesn’t work.

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3 thoughts on “Because her pain never stopped

  1. I know many people who are not ready for recovery and no matter how much you tell them about its benefits, that you are happier than you have ever been, they think they can’t survive without the drugs and don’t want to try. I have to say I was forced into treatment by my family when I was using cocaine 22 hours a day and the rehab did actually work and I got clean and have never relapsed since. I went into the rehab thinking I was a socialite and party animal who had just been to too many parties. This was despite the fact that I was risking my life many times a day because of my drug addiction. Reading out my crazy exploits in Jamaica to my therapy group in rehab broke my denial – they were shocked by what I had got up to and said I should publish it to stop people doing drugs. Sometimes being forced into treatment can work but it very much depends on the mentality of that particular addict whether it will or not.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. It depends on the situation. Every single one is different. I think it’s really up to the addict on whether or not they want to get help. I had an ex who refused rehab. He’s either in jail or still using. My cousin was in and out of jail and rehab. She passed away a year ago from an OD. I did my share of experimenting. Luckily I’m still here above ground.

    Liked by 1 person

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