Friday, February 24, 2012


An elegant looking, well-dressed woman in a designer suit and handbag that cost more than most people's weekly salary, came to see me the other day. She wanted to 'interview' me to see if the treatment my staff and I could provide for her young daughter was up to speed. Her husband had already called and asked about our credentials, years of experience and schools. So this was the in-person visit.

Her daughter was not present. She was at home where she stayed while in the midst of a Percocet-heroin run. Her mother proceeded to tell me that the 17-year old was not like those 'other people' who came to us for treatment. She was not 'that kind of person'; she was from a 'good' home. And could we treat the daughter at home so that she did not have to come in contact with any of the types the mother had seen in our waiting room.

It takes a lot of restraint not to say what is close to the tip of my tongue when folks take such an elitist stance about addiction and treatment. It is an equal opportunity disorder. Addiction knows nothing about socio-economics, or skin color or age. Treatment is not dependent upon the price of a designer bag or the education level of the parents. It is a condition. It can happen to anyone. It is treatable.

As for the therapy most of us in this profession provide, it is not dependent upon the patient's income. It is dependent upon the patient's needs. We work hard regardless of who the patient is or where they come from in an effort to promote wellness - it's that simple.

Monday, February 20, 2012


Of course we all know that the best way to prevent drug overdose is not to take any illicit drugs or medications that do not belong to us. Yet each day young people die needlessly by taking large quantities of Opioids such as Percocet, Vicoden, and Heroin. Their friends see that the overdose results in respiratory distress and they become frightened. They either leave the struggling friend or they dump them outside an emergency room door.

But time is crucial when it comes to saving someone who has taken too many drugs or has abused someone's prescription medication. When the respiratory system is depressed by too many opioids the person gasps for air. It does not take too long for death to come.

But there is a substance - Naloxone(Narcan) that average people can be trained to administer that will save lives. Naloxone reverses respiratory failure in seconds. In a study in California where a survey of 48 communities who are trained to use NALOXONE responded, there were 10,171 persons saved with NALOXONE.

Rather than opposing methods of harm reduction in favor of strict abstinence, I encourage communities to seek out hospitals and clinics who are willing to train and give access to Naloxone in an effort to reduce deaths by opioid overdose.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Medication vs. Drugs

I suppose we could pass it off to vernacular speech when we talk about 'drug addiction', but the truth is that using appropriate nomenclature is important when defining the national epidemic in the United States. IT IS PRESCRIPTION ABUSE.

Drugs are illicit substances that people buy on the street or trade. Heroin falls into that category and in most states so does marijuana. The illicit sale of medications such as Oxycontin, Percoset and Opana falls under the same name- with 'illicit' being the major factor.

Medications on the other hand,are prescribed by a physician or nurse practitioner for a medical or psychological condition. The abuse of these medications is the leading cause of concern in this country. Taken as prescribed, medications mitigate pain, lessen anxiety and lift depression. The problem comes when people share their medications or take them as they feel like it to change their emotional state. I understand the pressure that we are all under- never being able to shut down or turn off (computers on IM at work and at home, cell phones and text in the car and when we walk,shop or work out; and the radio competing with TV and the internet for our attention). Yet self-medicating to deal wit these stressors IS NOT THE ANSWER. IT IS THE PROBLEM!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Whitney Tormented by Drugs

Although we do not have the written autopsy report from the death of Whitney Houston, there is a good chance that we will read that drugs and alcohol were contributors to her passing. Once again, we watch a person with a God-given gift and tremendous talent succumb to drug addiction. This begs the question as to why this happens? Did those around her not want to interfere? Were they so star-struck that they could not take her to a facility where she could get help? Did they think this was a boundary issue and that they should mind their own business?

Whatever, the justifications, the bottom line is we lost a magnificent talent far too soon because no one intervened. In the 1970's Time magazine had a cover page with the question: ARE WE OUR BROTHER'S KEEPER? In a world where opioid dependence and prescription drug abuse is an epidemic, the answer is 'we need to be'. We cannot turn our heads or backs when we see drug abuse. We need to intervene when someone gets behind the wheel after smoking marijuana or drinking alcohol.We have to say 'not in our family' when a teen takes pills that are not prescribed. It is time we take our heads out of the sand and step up to stop addiction before we lose another angelic voice. RIP Whitney.