Help Me, Heroin Isn’t

May 16, 2017
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“There is a heroin epidemic in America,” writes pediatrician Jarret Patton, MD. “Now is not the time to ignore the problem.” (KevinMD)

The above statement was published as the Las Vegas, hoping to stem HIV and hepatitis, to get needle vending machines headline reached around the world. Mental and public health professionals plus the public would be wise to note this excerpt from the article “… Jenny Gratzke, disease investigator and intervention specialist with the Southern Nevada Health District, said there were an estimated 5,800 injection drug users in Clark County, a number she believed was low. Most of the users, she said, are either injecting heroin or methamphetamine, with a smaller number shooting up cocaine…”

Think about that. Multiply the 5,800 narcotic-using drug addicts in Clark County times the numbers of narcotic addicts in locations across the USA. Addiction is a multi-faceted problem. In 2013, there was related bad news in the pain-killing industry: Painkillers Kill More Americans than Heroin and Cocaine Combined! 

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The heroin problem is pervasive; affecting people and wider society because addiction to it is not just physical. Mental/emotional distress leads to painkiller and/or heroin use in many cases. It complicates daily life and medical treatment for affected people.


A February 2017 JHU press release entitled “MANY PATIENTS RECEIVE PRESCRIPTION OPIOIDS DURING MEDICATION-ASSISTED TREATMENT FOR OPIOID ADDICTION” presented information about using low-dose opioid painkillers that enabled addicted patients to function better than if they’d received higher doses of pain killers.

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A March 2017 JHU “When Women’s Health Improves, Domestic Violence Diminishes” press release indicated that “When HAART [Ed: highly active antiretroviral therapy] came on the market, instances of domestic violence dropped by roughly 10 percent for women with HIV who had symptoms of the disease, compared to control groups of healthier HIV-positive women, the researchers found that “…. Drug use, including crack cocaine and heroin, also dropped, by 15 percent, in the same pool of women. The drops in both domestic violence and drug use were even greater when looking at just black women in the same groups.”

There are many other FYIs to the medical, mental health and wider world that the evidence of widespread heroin use is symptomatic of the problems leading to it. People lack, or fail to use, the necessary skills for coping with their problems. In times past, trusted confidantes could let a person unload their unhappiness in a confidential conversation. As society became increasingly fragmented by employment relocations, impersonal technology and morally depraved media, that safety net eroded. Social media, an outlet for angst, is no help. The Addiction that’s Worse than Alcohol or Drug Abuse  headline indicates the harsh reality that social skills deteriorate with online life. Calling it “worse than” an addiction to substance abuse seems absurd. I’d have preferred “as problematic as…” or “as addictive as.”  We need to remember that addiction is addiction, the symptom of an underlying problem crying out for help. Heroin and other addictions don’t solve problems; they worsen them with the losses of health, focus and integrity.

In order to gain a better understanding of the overall addiction problem, a person needs to have studied or worked within the mental health professional world to better grasp the nature of the problem. Addiction is not limited to substance abuse. Gambling, sex, cursing, violence, shopping, etc. are addictive and just as hard to rehabilitate. But let’s refocus on rehabilitative help for a heroin addiction.

The US National Institute on Drug Abuse advocates behavioral and pharmacological therapies for heroin addicts.

Listen to the unspoken message of a heroin addict: “Help Me, Heroin Isn’t.” Recovery aka rehabilitation is emotionally and physically demanding. We at admire the people who do the work to recover/rehabilitate from addiction of any sort. We ask that you provide support to people working hard to overcome their heroin or other addiction. They’re unsung heroes. Perhaps this Splitting Your Sea Passover article, which appeared at Easter time, can help some recovering addicts to put their priorities in order. The time-honored advice is not just for the Jewish kids in the class.

Yocheved Golani is a popular writer whose byline has appeared worldwide in print and online. A certified Health Information Management professional, she is a member of Get Help Israel. Certified in Spiritual Chaplaincy (End of Life issues) and in counseling skills, her life coaching for ill people puts a healthy perspective into a clients’ success plan for achieving desired goals.