By Cheryl Steinberg
I just celebrated two years of sobriety, being clean and sober from all mood and mind-altering substances, save for caffeine and nicotine (nicotine-free now for 6 months). In my addiction, I used and abused anything I could get my hands on: from alcohol to painkillers to benzos to even sleeping pills. I would say that my true DOC was opiates, painkillers and later, heroin.
My love affair began with a drug called Tramadol, also known as Ultram and Ultracet. It had been prescribed to me for a legitimate pain condition and, at the time, I was told it was a ‘safe’ drug, meaning that it had a low rate of physical dependence amongst those to whom it’s prescribed. I was told it was a “non-narcotic opioid,” not really knowing what that meant. I thought it sounded good, though and trusted my physician whole-heartedly.
What I found, however, from taking Tramadol, was that it made me feel good. You know, that certain euphoric high that illicit drugs and narcotic painkillers give you. I also noticed that, if I took more than was prescribed, I felt even better; higher.
Around this time, I had graduated from an institute of higher learning and was living in the college town. This wasn’t a very big town nor was there much to do, except hit the bars and pubs along Main Street. I honestly wasn’t that big of a boozer anymore; alcohol had stopped ‘working’ for me a while back, while I was still in college. It just didn’t sit well with me physically and I couldn’t drink enough to get drunk (why else do people drink, amirite?).
Then one evening, when I had plans to meet friends at a local pub, I took my Tramadol beforehand. I ordered a beer with the rest of them, not expecting to be able to finish it. This time was different, though. I could drink, and drink some more. The alcohol didn’t upset my stomach! And, as an added bonus, I was pleasantly high and drunk, due to the synergistic effect of the Tramadol and alcohol together. This was to be my new jam for a while.
But ‘a while’ soon passed and the drug combination stopped working. Even with the tramadol, I wasn’t able to drink alcohol anymore. But, you know what? I didn’t even matter. I had my new love: painkillers. And, in love I was!
The rest of my story doesn’t really matter for the purpose of this article. I just wanted to illustrate how my addiction to narcotic painkillers and heroin began. It’s been my experience that there are several other people like me out there, who thought they were being prescribed a relatively safe drug with no potential for addiction only later to find themselves hooked.
Others in recovery don’t seem to know what Tramadol is and that is worrisome to me. I want to get the word out that Tramadol is not something to be taken lightly – both literally and figuratively.
Always always always be a self-advocate when it comes to your health and when dealing with your healthcare providers. Let them know you are concerned about taking certain drugs, such as narcotic painkillers and benzos, if they want to prescribe a drug of these classes to you. There are alternatives to narcotic medications. In the case that your condition requires something more potent, say, you’ve undergone surgery, then don’t be a martyr. There are safe ways to take these drugs. Always follow the prescription instructions. Talk to your sober supports and sponsor. Have someone trustworthy hold your prescription for you. Whatever it takes.
So, is tramadol safe for people in recovery? It’s not necessarily a black-and-white issue with a clear-cut answer. Tramadol is an opioid – which just means that it is a man-made opiate (heroin). If you are struggling with prescription painkillers or any other substance, help is available. Call toll-free 1-800-951-6135 to speak with an Addiction Specialist. You are not alone.
Author: Justin Mckibben
Some Americans go home after a long day, and tend to ‘unwind’ by having a glass of wine with dinner. Just that one glass would put someone in the top 30% of American adults in terms of per-capita alcohol consumption. If they were to turn around and add another glass of wine, that would bump them up into the top 20%. But some still break through that to the top 10% barrier of American drinkers, who drink more than two entire bottles of wine with every dinner, not just once in a while. Even then with two bottles, one would still be below-average as far as alcohol consumption among those top 10% of Americans. Studies have shown that Americans in this top 10% of alcohol consumers go above and beyond to get there.
24 million adults over age 18 make up the top 10% of American drinkers. This demographic on average consumes 74 alcoholic drinks, and that is per week! For anyone who knows their way around a liquor store, that comes out to more than four-and-a-half 750 ml bottles of Jack Daniels, 18 bottles of wine, or three 24-can cases of beer. And yes, we are still talking about 1 week of drinking. Or if you want to narrow it down a little more, that’s about 10 alcoholic drinks per day. So some people are wondering, does America have a drinking problem?
These figures come from “Paying the Tab,” an economically-minded examination of the costs and benefits of alcohol control in the U.S. by Philip J. Cook. Specifically, these are calculations made using the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions (NESARC) data. Philip J. Cook has made a huge contribution to related studies in his 40-year career at Duke University, and has provided the chance to teach and research on a variety of issues relating to public safety, health, and social policy.
“I agree that it’s hard to imagine consuming 10 drinks a day. There are a remarkable number of people who drink a couple of six packs a day, or a pint of whiskey.”
Statistics in the Alcohol Business
Cook stated during an interview in regards to double checking the figures and estimates of this recent publication of the study. In his book “Paying the Tab: The Costs and Benefits of Alcohol Control” Cook notes the top 10% of American drinkers account for well over half of the alcohol consumed in any given year! So out of all the alcohol in the entire country, that 10% is drinking more than half of it! On the other hand, people in the bottom three percentiles don’t drink at all, and even the median consumption among those who do drink is just three alcoholic drinks per week. In comparison it was next to nothing!
As surprising as this may seem to some people, the actually curve of this average isn’t exactly unique. According to Cook the Pareto Law states that “the top 20% of buyers for most any consumer product account for fully 80% of sales”. The rule can be applied to everything from whiskey, to Walmart flip-flops, to your regular morning Starbucks.
However the consequences of the Pareto Law are drastically different when it comes to industries like alcohol, tobacco, and now the growing marijuana business. Just as an example if you consume 10+ drinks per day, you almost certainly have a drinking problem. But the beverage industry is heavily dependent on this kind of consumption for their profits. So when it comes to raising awareness, of course the companies will do the bare minimum to stay in business. Cook writes,
“One consequence is that the heaviest drinkers are of greatly disproportionate importance to the sales and profitability of the alcoholic-beverage industry. If the top decile somehow could be induced to curb their consumption level to that of the next lower group (the ninth decile), then total ethanol sales would fall by 60 percent.”
So it is fair enough to say that based on these numbers, you can quickly make a connection between the over-all averages of consumers and see why there is such a concern with the prominent drinking problem in America. Alcoholism and alcohol abuse are no rarity in today’s society, but often times it is swept under the rug, or people convince themselves that they do not qualify for that top 10%. In reality all it means is that more people need to learn the dangers of excessive alcohol abuse, and the reality of those who struggle with alcoholism.
Alcoholism is a progressive and deadly illness, and it can sneak up on those who consider themselves to be average or moderate drinkers. The top 10% of American drinkers consume more than most would have guessed, and with the rate of consumption rising, the risks of serious issues with alcohol abuse or alcoholism become more and more dangerous, and the threats of long last effects before more deadly. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or alcohol addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135
Author: Justin Mckibben
As the month of September comes to a close for the year 2014 it is awesome to be able to take a look at the good being done and the efforts to effectively raise awareness about addiction, after all September is National Recovery Month. In its 25th year, National Recovery Month promotes the benefits of prevention, treatment, and recovery for mental and substance abuse disorders across the board. 2014’s theme has been “Join the Voices for Recovery: Speak Up, Reach Out” which was to encouraged people to stand strong and speak up about mental health and substance abuse disorders, addiction and the reality of recovery.
A History of Recovery
National Recovery Month began in 1989, originally entitled “TreatmentWorks!Month” which was initially created to honor the work of professionals in the treatment and recovery field. The annual observance evolved in 1998 to “National Alcohol and Drug Addiction Recovery Month” when the scope of the focus extended to include celebrating the accomplishments of individuals who are actively in recovery from substance use disorders. Later in 2011 this celebration evolved even further to National Recovery Month (Recovery Month) to include all facets of behavioral health.
This month also promotes new growth for individuals to use to recognize behavioral health issues and reach out for help. National Recovery Month spreads the message that behavioral health is a crucial piece of the overall health issue. Over the past 25 years National Recovery Month has inspired millions of people across the nation facing both mental health disorders and substance abuse to raise awareness about addiction. It has inspired millions more to share their stories of recovery, and to contribute to educating and helping others who are still struggling with these important issues.
Every year since its inception, National Recovery Month has made a tremendous impact. Through activities and events at both the national and local level, the resulting media exposure, and the growing support from elected officials, policymakers, education leaders, judges, health providers, the faith community, and many other sectors, efforts in raising public awareness have soared beyond expectation. Every individual and entity involved has taken a position to take a stand in nurturing the survival and growth of quality treatment services. These sectors and officials have invested time to work together to carry the message that substance abuse is a treatable disease, and that recovery is possible.
Jeffersonville Rally for Recovery
Overcoming substance abuse is possible was the underlying theme of a fun-spirited event held in Jeffersonville Saturday afternoon to fuel support and raise awareness in honor of September being National Recovery Month. The Rally for Recovery event had a guest list including some of the United States advocates spear-heading the fight against drug addiction.
Michael Botticelli, the acting director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy and national drug czar, told those in attendance that he knows recovery can work, as he personally overcame substance abuse 25 years ago. Director Botticelli went on explain that those fighting addiction often need community organizations to be successful in their battles against drug abuse, and stressed the great deal of importance there is to him that people at every phase of recovery have a voice in the fight against addiction.
“Our office promotes policies and practices that make sure that people are getting access to treatment, that we know when people recover they become productive members of their communities, and we can restore them to life and to love. We know that community problems require community solutions. One of the most important things is to bring communities together to help support people in recovery [and] to make sure we are not arresting and incarcerating people who have a substance-abuse disorder. The importance of events like this is it brings out all parts of a community. That is what we experienced today. We have treatment providers, prosecutors, community advocates and families.”
Botticelli addressed crowds at the events held in Jeffersonville alongside Tom Coderre, who happens to be the senior advisor for The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. While the event praised those who have overcome substance abuse, it also reached out to those who continue to struggle with addiction.
NCADD Recovery Rally
The National Council on Alcohol and Drug Dependence (NCADD) was one of the original founding sponsors of National Recovery Month 25 years ago and has been an actively involved in National Recovery Month as a Planning Partner ever since. Local NCADD Affiliates across the country hold hundreds of local community events in celebration of recovery month including events at baseball games, picnics, rallies, walks, luncheons and dinners.
For several consecutive years NCADD has worked hand in hand with A&E and its Recovery Project in planning and sponsoring a National Recovery Rally. The first two years of the National Recovery Rally were held in New York City and then three years in Philadelphia. Back in 2009, the NYC Recovery Rally attracted a crowd of 10,000!
In 2012 the Recovery Walks Rally, sponsored by NCADD Affiliate, the Council of Southeast Pennsylvania/PRO-ACT, drew an astonishing crowd of over than 15,000!
Similar programs and rallies have been organized and conducted yearly nationwide, with the California Association of Addiction Recovery Resources (CAARR) being responsible for the organization of Recovery Happens and the annual California Recovery Happens Month Kick-Off Rally at the Capitol.
Millions of American lives are transformed and elevated through recovery from drugs and alcohol. These successes stories often go unnoticed by the broader population, and many unsung heroes have amazing and compelling stories to tell. Therefore, National Recovery Month has been put in motion for 2 and a half decades now to facilitate sharing and rejoicing in these victories. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction there is hope to become one of these incredible success stories, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135
Author: Justin Mckibben
Drug abuse and addiction is pretty well known as a deadly issue that stands on its own, and it may seem more obvious that mixing different dangerous narcotics can be a serious mistake, but one thing that may not seem so obvious is how mixing some powerful substances that are not as commonly considered to be as dangerous can be the difference between life and death. Here we will discuss two substances that sometimes fly under the radar, and how taking them in combination can be fatal.
Alcohol is a Drug
First we will get it out of the way and say what needs to be said and recognized. Alcohol is a drug. Many do not acknowledge it as such because it is legal and very publicly accepted. Although people are made aware of the dangers of excessive drinking, or drunk driving, they may not understand the severity of how destructive alcohol can be. Addiction to alcohol, or alcoholism, is a disease that plagues so many people around the world, and still the substance is viewed in society as a social lubricant and a way to take the edge of with a quick buzz, but let us not forget how this substance kills so many people all on its own.
Painkillers have quickly gained some notoriety for being addictive and deadly, and with recent reforms and regulations regarding prescription and distribution of these narcotic medications, we have seen entire drug empires topple like the infamous ‘pill mills’ and we have been exposed to the effects that drugs like OxyContin, OxyCodone and other opiates have on addicts. So there is no mystery as to the disastrous potential of prescription painkillers which also includes the medications:
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly three out of four prescription drug overdoses are caused by some kind of opioid painkillers. Drug overdose rates in the United States have more than tripled since 1990, showing a horrifying 300% increase in sales of these prescription painkillers.
Non-medical use of prescription painkillers has developed into what some have labeled an epidemic, and no matter how you look at it, it is happening far too frequently in today’s society at large. Prescription drugs are safe when taken as directed, but all drugs can trigger side effects. Drugs like OxyCodone come with a minute margin for error. OxyCodone is a central nervous system depressant and when taken with alcohol can slow a person’s breathing to the point that it stops, which can quickly turn into an untimely death.
Painkillers and alcohol together are perhaps the worst to mix of drugs, because both slow breathing by different mechanisms and inhibit the coughing reflex, creating a collaborative effect that can kill by stopping breathing completely. Drinking alcohol drastically increases the depressive and inhibitory effects that opiates and other narcotic painkillers have on the central nervous system, and their effects can be synergistic, which means that their combined effects can be greater than the sum of their individual effects would suggest. The chemical interactions between ethanol in alcohol and both long and short-acting opioids are dangerously unpredictable. The more common health risks include:
- Respiratory failure
- Severe headache/migraine
- Organ malfunction
- Cardiac arrest
- Memory loss
In addition to the immediate physical dangers, the mixture of alcohol and opiates can also critically affect judgment and motor skills and cause cognitive impairment. Many fail to realize the perils that are associated with simultaneous ingestion of painkillers and alcohol. The extensive explosion of prescription painkiller abuse in combination with the nation-wide struggle for those suffering with alcoholism has made the combination of opiates and drinking one of the fastest-growing addiction problems in the country, with massive amounts of overdose related deaths.
Once people get hooked on prescription painkillers, it is fairly easy for them to stay addicted. Additionally, drinking can dramatically increase the general urge for opioids, making the possibility of addiction even more prevalent. Opiate medications in particular, are increasingly popular and extremely addictive when abused. Because of this, the likelihood of an addict to mix alcohol with a painkiller becomes more and more significant, and the dangers are only magnified.
The blend of prescription painkillers and alcohol is beyond hazardous, but it tends to happen more often than one would think, and typically people do not understand the risks they are taking to relax and unwind. When addiction is present, and the long-term effects of either drug are taken into consideration, the outcome can be shattering. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135
Author: Justin Mckibben
Ladies and gentlemen, this weeks crazy news is one full of risky work activity, country music, skunks, and my favorite… JUSTICE! So we will start off with probably my favorite story of this week and talk about my personal favorite caped-crusader, before discussing some not-so-heroic behaviors, and end with a happy tale of an animal rescue with a cuddly but smelly little critter!
Batman and Spider-man Tussle in Time Square
Photo via: http://www.quickmeme.com/
New York City’s Times Square is seen pretty regularly in a lot of super-hero films being made these days, and is a huge inspiration for the concrete jungles where many comic-book crusaders save the day. Two costumed characters were arrested this past Saturday night along with a third man for allegedly fighting in time square. It’s not Gotham, but it will do.
The two characters were doing what costumed heroes with no real villains left to foil have to do to get by, which is typically making a public appearance while hustling for tips on a street corner in exchange for photos with families and other passers-by. When two men allegedly were drunk and disorderly, and started yelling and gesturing at them.
The dark knight and protector of Gotham- Batman (41-year-old Jose Escalona-Martinez) was grabbed from behind and the perpetrator shouted obscenities, before the evil-doer moved on and allegedly grabbed Spider-man (aka 35-year-old Abdel Elkahezai) on the rear. Reports stated that 23-year-old Thomas Rorke was the supposed suspect in this case.
Spider-man (Abdel Elkahezai) allegedly sprayed Thomas Rorke with his webbing, or at least his prop Silly String, as his spider senses probably informed him that there was no time to for horse-play. Soon enough, punches were thrown. Thomas Rorke appears to have gotten the worst of it, with reports claiming that he was punched repeatedly in the face and chest.
“He (Rorke) was intoxicated and messing with Batman and they got into it,” another masked vigilante who’s secret identity was 50-year-old Paul Smith, told the New York Daily News. That’s just foolish, NOBODY messes with Batman!
“Everybody, no matter what costume they are wearing, has the right to protect themselves. It’s like Stand Your Ground in Florida,” he told the newspaper.
This particular Spider-man has a rap sheep of his own apparently, besides saving Mary Jane and battling green goblins: Elkahezai has previous arrests for alleged public urination, assault and weapons possession. Not very hero-sounding if you ask me. For shame Spidey!
However, at least one other comic-book hero vouched for Spidey.
“He’s one of the best guys, honest, religious,” a man dressed as Captain America, who declined to give his name.
All three were arrested, but there have been no further details about the charges filed against these men. Regardless of what happens though, where-ever Batman goes, there will surely be justice!
Drunk Country Music Diva
photo via: http://tasteofcountry.com/
Lynn Anderson rose to fame in 1970 with her country hit “Rose Garden” and won a Grammy the following year. Anderson was even named vocalist of the year by the Country Music Association in 1971, but apparently she has been branching out a little bit recently and will be making a special guest appearance in court this November 20th.
Police say Lynn Anderson apparently went for a cocktail of booze and pills just before she crashed her vehicle late Thursday evening in Nashville, Tennessee. The responding officer said the 66-year-old diva admitted to have been drinking and that she had ingested prescription medications before the crash, and that ended pretty abruptly. Luckily for Anderson she was released Friday on $5,000 bond.
Bus Driver Busted Trying to Get Busy
Sometimes a bus fare is a little risqué in the Sunshine State. Florida bus driver Rodrigue Macharie, age 43, is accused of trying to pick up a prostitute while on duty. Macharie was arrested this past Thursday in Sarasota County when he solicited tried to practice soliciting prostitution from an undercover police officer working a sting around 9:45 a.m. on Tamiami Trail. The Florida bus driver, who works for the Sarasota County Area Transit shuttling disabled passengers to appointments, apparently wanted to spend the few 45 minutes to spare before his next pick-up spending some money on something he shouldn’t have.
“There was a period of disbelief when the bus pulled up and that it looked as if this was actually going to be a transaction,” said Sgt. Demetri Konstantopouls of the Sarasota Police Department.
Police said that Macharie paid the undercover officer $20 for an undisclosed sexual act, after which he was abruptly arrested and charged with soliciting a prostitute, go figure.
Authorities clarified the location of the alleged sexual solicitation. The bus driver was placed on administrative leave pending further investigation. Luckily Konstantopoulos said,
“He did not want to have the intercourse inside the bus.” Glad to hear it, those seats are SO uncomfortable anyway!
Pop Tart Cowboy
I don’t think this is what they mean when they call it ‘nose candy’ but who’s to say? On September 4th 30 year old Cameron Mitchell was arrested after allegedly selling an undercover agent in Halifax, North Carolina cocaine… a crushed-up Pop Tart that he claimed was cocaine.
Halifax County deputies say Mitchell was making a delivery to a convenience store when the incident occurred. The undercover officer claims that upon interacting with Mitchell, he had allegedly “agreed” to sell him some crack cocaine for $20… spoiler alert, it was false advertising!
Later on agents tested the powdery substance Mitchell allegedly sold them, and found out that it contained not one trace of cocaine, what a trickster! Police say that Mitchell had later admitted it was the only the crushed corner of a Pop Tart, which he only sold because he needed the money. Guess he never got the real meaning of ‘fake it until you make it’ as he was eventually charged with selling a counterfeit controlled substance and creating a counterfeit controlled substance.
Drunk as a Skunk
The term drunker than a skunk has a whole new meaning thanks to the famous Ohio wildlife. Apparently a poor woodland creature with a beer can stuck on its head had to be rescued near a fraternity house in southwestern Ohio. Why haze a skunk is what I’m asking.
Oxford police said a resident called about the skunk’s predicament, and imagine the reaction when local police found the animal banging around trying to get the can off and running into shrubs in a frantic and probably drunken stupor.
Skunks are known for the offensive spray they can emit when threatened. But Sgt. Jon Varley says an animal control officer was able to free the skunk without getting sprayed
Varley says the city about an hour’s drive northwest of Cincinnati have received calls before about skunks and other wild animals, but he insists this was the first one he knew of that had to be rescued from a beer can. I know plenty of people from Ohio, including myself, who have needed to be rescued from beer cans before, unfortunately I was not able to be set free by animal control, and I had to work a little more at it.
Some crazy stories seem just too much to be true, and sometimes when people in recovery think back we can relate with some of our own strange and not-so-sober stories. Being grateful not to be in some of these headlines is a pretty good feeling, and knowing that it is possible for anyone who has any kind of crazy story is even better. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135