“This is the only safe way to treat opioid users,” published this week in the Washington Post, offers valuable perspective on a simultaneously cliché and tragic reality that specialists in the addiction treatment community – and the recovering community at large – have grappled with for decades.
Medically administered detoxification from any drug, utilizing pharmaceutical “cushions” to prevent respiratory arrest, neurological malfunction or any other detractor to metabolic safety has its downside. Persons addicted to, or who cannot use the substances in an “ordered” manner, have never and will never consider their use as disordered until LONG AFTER they have achieved the resilience and internalized controls necessary to maintain a productive or meaningful life.
It is the nature of the condition, or predisposition. Cancer says to the host “I am here; I require serious attention.” Addiction says “I am not your problem; the people who get between us are your problem.” Both conditions require serious attention.
Parents, spouses, siblings and friends of heroin addicts are appropriately fearful for the immediate safety of the addict. The addict is naturally fearful of permanent separation from their true love heroin. A temporary separation in order to relieve family, deflect a criminal charge or avoid termination from work are common motivators to accept medical detoxification.
It is not until a family accepts the opportunity to learn about how heroin has compromised both their loved one, and the family as well, that the family can become agents of change that cannot be manufactured in an antiseptic environment or “one disease” (regardless of specific drug of choice) programmatic initiative. The ‘quick fix’ that modern culture seeks in its excessive entitlements and deficient gratification delay strengths is not for sale. It is swampland in Florida, or the Brooklyn Bridge.
The span of a year-long commitment suggested by Dr. Stein in the published book is a proper and realistic beginning for what must become a life-long commitment for all those who wish to support the commitment of the recovering person. Everybody has to find a new way to live.
In my clinical practice, 40 years beyond the ‘exit ramp’ my family and I found together from my fatalistic heroin addiction, I am defining and teaching a psychology of heroin. It is a cold and fearful place to visit, familiar to the addict and frightening to those who venture there. A critical ingredient to achieving sustainable recovery from heroin addiction includes all those recognized by author Michael Stein. Another that’s missing from our healthcare system is psychological substance to understand the unique and profound impact that heroin has on the individual, and hence, family and community.
David Petersen, LCSW, LAC
Clinical Consultant & Interventionist
URL to WP article: https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/this-is-the-only-safe-way-to-treat-opioid-users/2017/08/17/e94b1ea2-6d90-11e7-9c15-177740635e83_story.html?utm_term=.1ba4d64692ef