Karen L. Kehler, MA,  MSHA - Private- Professional- Affordable Counseling Services
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Kehler Counseling Blog

The Day of an Opiate/Heroin Addict

Not unlike other rural areas of the USA - my county -region of Northeast PA is dealing with the reality of access to cheap heroin.   I am witnessing it firsthand with clients and their families who are shocked that it is happening to them.   Blindsided is the best way to describe it.   But the reality is that it started long before this.

I've become a siren to what is going on in our own neighborhoods.  Stop reading now if you want to deny that someone you know isn't hooked on opiate pain killers and may have crossed over into snorting and shooting heroin.  

It starts very quietly - under the control of trusted physicians.   Often it starts with a simple sports injury, oral surgery, accident or physical stress from work demands. Your reputable local MD gives you a prescription for something to 'manage the pain'. You take it - it 'works' -they gave you enough for a month.  No problem - you have to get back to work or school - so you take them.  You might even keep taking them after you return to either.   Then you either run out, decide on your own to stop taking them or you see the results of healing.  Okay - you think  you're 'good to go' -but for some reason you feel nauseated, aches return, muscles feel like they're cramping up, you need to use the bathroom - for either the nausea/vomiting or diarrhea - but you need to get back to work - so you call the MD and ask for something to help - you get a refill and this is now why you will be physically addicted to opiates that is HEROIN IN A PILL - for as long as you don't stop using it.   Many are able to stop and leave the 'flu' like symptoms behind.   Others are more concerned about the ugly symptoms of withdrawal - that they refill.  Their bodies are now physically dependent on it.  The pain will all come flooding back if they stop them.   As long as there is a cooperative MD - you can carry this cycle on for years - as long as you have insurance - you are 'good' to go.  Problem is now you will deal with tolerance and dependence.  You will need increasingly more to get relief from the pain - and with more - the withdrawal is worse.   

The next reality is that over time - if you are spending all your time immobile - sleeping and lacking exercise and avoiding physical rehabilitation - you will also lose your muscle strength.  If you weren't 'disabled' before - you may very easily become unable to function physically over time because your muscles aren't getting the 'work out' they need to stay strong - they literally dissolve - leaving you too weak to perform even 'normal' daily tasks.    

Now you may have lost your ability to function normally and may have lost your job, spouse, parents, housing, vehicle, and/or kids because you have now created a drug using lifestyle that consumes your day with getting your supply, getting your high, managing coming down off the high and going out and getting more so that you can prevent withdrawal symptoms. 

You think about NOTHING else.  Getting - using- surviving until the next 'hit' is ALL you care about.  You will lie, manipulate, threaten, scream, abuse, steal, connive, and beg to keep this cycle going.  You are now "chasing the Dragon".  Your life as you and your loved ones knew is done. 

 Addiction has hijacked your brain.  Most have a difficult time understanding this fact.  You are now chasing that first absolute euphoric experience and trying to repeat it.  If you don't repeat it - you will deal with withdrawal - you're now either high or fearful.   Those around you will either have no clue - or lecture you to 'just stop'.  

Did you know that the AVERAGE of first time of use of HEROIN - is 14 years old - the average of the first  admission to a rehab is 16?  That means that a family dealt with a drug abusing teen for 18 months.  Usually they don't have a clue - but 540 nights that may have meant fear of their lives - as overdoses can happen easily - more easily than even abusers think.  

If you get constant lying - denials - fights -threats - and no cooperation to get help, attend meetings, see a counselor, go to Rehab or sick of dealing with the losses, thefts and legal system. . . GET HELP FOR YOURSELF!  

Don't let Drug abuse take 2 people down!   You need to understand that it is NOT your fault - they are choosing their path - by deciding who to spend their time with, what drugs to try and use and where and how they obtain the money and their drugs.   Parents - spouses - girlfriends-boyfriends- siblings- co-workers - grandparents - anyone who knows and loves the addict needs to take care of themselves and those around them who aren't dug abusers.  Neglect happens too often.  The drama and chaos of having an addict in the house is demanding, exhausting and stress-filled. 

Call and get counseling for yourself or start with adding in 'self-care' activities so you stay sane when the addict spins  - don't let their addiction destroy YOU!   

I offer evening hours - and income sensitive rates.   Most insurance companies do not cover family members of addicts only the addict themselves.  

Check back I will be posting regularly what else to do when your life involves an addict.  



1 Comment to The Day of an Opiate/Heroin Addict:

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American Medical Management on Friday, November 20, 2015 1:14 AM
Hi Karen, I am Sarah and I work for a medical center for pain management. I know that the AVERAGE of first time of use of HEROIN - is 14 years old - the average of the first admission to a rehab is 16.Heroin abusers and addicts feel compelled to continue using the drug both because of its pain relieving effects, and because of fear of symptoms they may experience if they stop. Can you give me more information about where someone get good counseling? Thanks in advance.
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