Those were my thoughts after reading this article. It's disheartening at best to read all of the statistics associated with heroin addiction. I once read that only 8% of us live to tell our stories and I'm pretty sure I relapsed 5 more times after knowing that.
One part of the article that really hits home is where it talks about the hope and happiness our families feel when we celebrate a sobriety milestone, only to crush their spirits yet again when we relapse. And that's IF we live through the relapse. After having my own mom on the show last week, I was reminded of what my drinking and using did to my family. I'm sure from the outside, junkies must seem like the most selfish assholes on the planet. And for the most part, we are. But that has nothing to do with why we use. And even less to do with why we can't stop using once we've started.
An addict is rendered powerless when he or she is within the grips of the disease. Honestly, I would rather give birth to triplets in some hippy non-medical environment than to ever feel opiate withdrawal symptoms again. [Side note: I've never actually given birth, so I have no idea what I'm talking about. We addicts tend to be slightly dramatic and that was me trying to make a point: withdrawals are the devil.] Once a heroin addict has started using, quitting is no longer mind over matter. It's more like BODY over EVERYTHING. We want to stop. We know we should stop. But we'll be damned if we're going to have that possessed by Satan feeling again for 5 days straight, our best hope being to simply "not feel shitty" for another 20 days. And did I mention the anhedonia? Oy vey with the anhedonia. As opiate addicts we are extreme pleasure seekers; hedonists. When we quit using opiates our bodies basically say "Ok your feel good meter is all tapped out." To top it off, it's impossible to see a light at the end of the tunnel. This is why most addicts aren't afraid of going to hell--we've been there.
So what can be done about this? The naltrexone implant. That's what. If this were around when I was trying to get off heroin, I could have been saved a lot of pain and anguish. A lot of us experience something in recovery commonly referred to as "the pink cloud." This is the part of early recovery where an addict feels giddy with excitement. A pink cloud isn't too hard to come by for someone who has been miserable for years. It's at this exact moment when the naltrexone implant should be administered. Then, when the addict hits that 6 month wall and decides that using would be a grand idea, they can't. It's almost like a smarter version of you making a decision for a temporarily insane, later version of you.
Listen to tomorrow's Radio Rehab show with Dr. Michael Genovese, Chief Medical Officer at Sierra Tucson, and Chloe O'Reilly from Mylife Recovery Centers to learn more about the naltrexone implant. And if you're clean and sober, please stay that way.