Addiction: Heroin & Pills

  Warning. The following program
contains content and language that may be
inappropriate for younger
viewers. There are graphic depictions
and portrayals of addiction
that will be shown. Parental discretion is advised. Hello, I’m Steve Kendall. I’ll
be your host for WBGU-TV’s new series about
addiction. In this series we’ll be focusing on addiction
to prescription opiates, and
the gateway that has led many to heroin. In the past decade,
addiction to prescription
opiates has emerged as a very serious
problem in our community,
tearing families apart and claiming an average of 5
lives a day in Ohio. WBGU-TV has made a commitment
to help save our community. In this series, we will talk to
many people that are on the
front lines of this issue,
family members, recovering addicts,
doctors, therapists, and many
more that are all playing a vital role in the
state of our public health.
While many are just finding out that there
is an epidemic, others are in
the trenches searching for answers and trying to make
sense of it all. People are
asking questions, and we’re here to help you
connect the dots. We now
present part 1 of our series, Addiction: Heroin and
Pills. ♪               Heroin has been used in the
United States for a very long time, a couple
hundred years at least. It’s a drug that
produces an extreme, an intensely
pleasurable experience when it’s taken in the kinds of doses that people
have used. It can be snorted like cocaine, it can be smoked, it can be injected. When it’s injected,
typically we’re talking about intravenously. Opium is
the substance from which heroin is
synthesized. Opium has been around for a
very long time, and predating heroin. The reality
is, we can go back to the
history of opiates in the United States that dates far back,
even to the day of the Asian railway worker. And when they
came, there was no issue with them using,
because it kept them productive. They may have been tired, but
they certainly worked through
it and progress was made. So when the outcome was
something that benefited
everyone, there was no problem with it. Well then
there was some suspicion, or
concern I should say, that “Oh no, the
Asians are infiltraiting white American, they’re
infiltrating even urban housewife, and it’s
making her do things that she
shouldn’t do.” Well then doctors actually
started prescribing opiates to
the housewife for her hysteria.
Heroin was actually manufactured first in Germany by the company Bayer, like Bayer Aspirin. And
it was made to be a perfect drug for pain. And it didn’t take too long before they understand
that it was very addictive. And so that changed its profile. So what initially started as a
drug that came over with the Asian community, and
then you have the irony of men
coming back from Vietnam who were addicted
to opiates and continuing to use once they’re here, you were
still talking about an urban
demographic population, and primarily
African American. Well what we’ve experienced with this
most recent influx, is young people in suburban and rural
America who are becoming addicted to
pills because they’re either doing, and let’s
be very clear, young people are doing exactly
what young people do. And so what normally a kid
would go to a high school party, and they’d say “Oh man, we’re
going to drink a beer” or
“We’re going to do a kegger”, now you’re hearing, “Oh, we
have a bowl full of pills, and
I got them from the death of my
grandparent” or “my mom had a
whole bunch of extra pills, and so we’re going to dip into
it, and you take one, and you
take one, and then we’re going
to chug after.” without very clear
understanding that that one pill can kill you. [Pills clinking] ♪             An opiate is any psychoactive
substance, any drug that affects how you
feel by affecting your brain, when that drug comes from the
poppy plant. Poppy plants are grown in
various locations throughout
the world, a lot of them are
grown in Afghanistan and that region,
and they are turned into heroin or other opiate
medications. Some of them are prescription
medications, and these are the
things that people become
addicted to. Recently, the
pharmaceutical companies have become able to produce
substances that are very similar to opiates, they
act like an opiate in the brain
but they actually don’t have any poppy in them. Those are
called opioids. Opioids includes all the opiates plus all the
synthetic opiates. In our brains we have
receptors, in our nervous system that are finely tuned
for naturally occurring opiate chemicals that
our brain produces in response to a
number of different stimuli but including pain.
That’s also involved with pleasure and kind
of the natural reward system of our brain. In the
mesolimbic reward area of the brain is the release of
dopamine. And dopamine is, you can almost call it the
reward chemical or the pleasure chemical. And this is really
where the important situation
is, that everybody when they have
that surge of dopamine, that
surge of dopamine is different for
different people. And the
memory of that, the conditioned association is
different for different people.
So some people remember that surge of dopamine
and the reward in a sense that it created, so they go
back for more. As we take more and more of the
medication our nervous system adapts. And
so it develops more and more receptor
sites. And as then the medicine is there to
fill those receptor sites, you need to build a tolerance
and so we need to take more and more of
the medicine. And so it’s not
uncommon to hear, as one friend of mine
said, “You know, yeah I used to take vicodin you
know once a day and it was really helpful.” And
then like a couple months later, she
says, “Oh I have to take 3
vicodin for it to even touch my pain.” Same pain, but she needs to take three times as
much in a short period of time in order to get the relief she
was getting earlier. And so that whole tolerance occurs
with the brain developing more receptor sites. Well then
when you withdraw the medicine, then there is the
experience of the withdrawal symptoms. ♪         Now withdrawal is something
that occurs once your body is used to an opiate medication
and it’s tremendously painful and
uncomfortable. It can cause
shaking, vomiting, diarrhea, sweating,
it’s like the worst fever that you’ve ever had. So
in order to avoid going into withdrawal,
people are left to their own devices. The body goes into
this state of mass confusion.
So you’ll see people who literally are
crunched over in this
excruciating fetal position because they
feel like they’re going to die. The difference is, they
won’t, so it’s torture. ♪   Last time I withdrew, it was so bad that I had to crawl
to the bathroom multiple times
a day, just to… and diarrhea is like hand and hand. It’s
painful diarrhea, it’s not even like a normal, I’ve got a
stomach flu, it’s like I don’t understand
how water coming out of my butt hurts so bad. In order to stop feeling sick,
you know what you have to do,
so then your body is telling you, “Hey man I’m
sick, we need to do this in order to make it through.” ♪   It’s like the flu, it’s like 20 times worse, you know, you
throw up, you piss, you shit, you can’t move, you’re cramped up,
it’s a cold sweat. And you can’t stop. If it
wasn’t for withdraws, I probably would have stopped a long time
ago. The lack of control, not being
able to say, “Okay today I’m going to
do it” and then “This weekend maybe I’ll do it.” It’s more of, “Okay today I
have to do it.” “12 hours from now I have to do
it.” “6 hours from now I have to do
it.” That’s the worst part of it, is
not having the control to say, “Alright I’m not going
to do this today.”     Heroin being readily available
and low in cost, it’s easy then to
switch from the medication, some
people use them
interchangeably. You know when
they can get a pill they’ll use the pill. If they
can’t get the pill they’ll use
the heroin. If you’re spending 40, 50, 80, 100 dollars a day for one pill
to keep you from getting sick, initially you can get some
heroin to keep you from feeling sick. And 10 dollars’
worth may last you a few days. Doesn’t take a
genius to figure out the economic
effects. “Well gosh, 10 dollars, 100 dollars, this is
much better!” These opiate addictions start
off very young, I mean you’ll
be 14 years old going to a party, you got some
drinks, then all of a sudden somebody busts
out a pill, they break it up
and everybody’s snorting lines. I mean that’s how people really
start is slowly. You know they don’t do whole
pills themselves. But I mean
it’s anybody. It’s that pretty girl down the
street who’s a cheerleader,
it’s that jock, it’s anybody will do
opiate pills nowadays, there’s
no taboo against it. ♪ Do they understand that what I’m taking in terms of a
pill form is going to lead me
to heroin? And the answer is no. If you talked to a lot
of these kids in high school,
for instance, or even young adults, if you
were to go and offer them at a
party, say, syringe of heroin, they would
recoil from that. They would
say, “No, I’m not going to stick a needle
in my arm just to have a good
time tonight.” And yet they are more than
willing to go down and have a
skittles party at their friend’s house, where everybody goes to
a grandparent’s medicine
cabinet or their mom and dad’s medicine
cabinet, they pull out the
muscle relaxants, they put it all in a bowl, and they pass it
around. And each kid takes a
pill and kind of see what’s
going to happen to them while they’re drinking
alcohol. So they think that it’s safe, they
think that it’s a good time.
“It must be safe, right? It
comes out of the medical system! I mean my mom was
prescribed this for her pain,
how can that possibly not be safe for me to take and
have a fun time with?” Their brain figures out very quickly
that it’s activating those same
response signals that give us feedback on things
like food, water, and exercise. All the natural
things that our brain is conditioned to tell our body
are good things. They’re
convinced that the drug is essential for
their survival, and they begin
this process going from the prescription
pain killers toward heroin as their addiction progresses. ♪   From 2000 to 2012, unintentional
drug overdoses in the state of
Ohio increased by 366 percent. It’s reported that of all these
overdoses, roughly two thirds
were related to prescription opiates or heroin. There’s no
question that there’s a huge early onset, like that 18 to 25 year old. There is a huge early onset in
that late middle school, early high
school. And then the next big use age that we
see are in that 40, 45- 60 range. In a rural area, you have more people who have jobs and as a
result have insurance, as a result go
to see a doctor, and so are more
likely to have a prescription. Or because of that health care
coverage, had surgery and so on. So would have received a
prescription opiate and may have taken them for too long or too many
and become addicted to them, and then when they
cannot get that prescription turn to heroin because heroin
is an opiate as well. It’s not anymore what was
considered or thought to be by society
stigmatizing addiction a
downtown disease, it actually is a very
much suburban disease nd crosses all lines of race and ethnicity and profession. So
the scope is very serious
because of the incidence of the overdose deaths, which is happening at
epidemic levels. ♪   In the state of Ohio, in 2007
overdose deaths began to eclipse all
other forms of accidental death in the state,
including traffic accidents. And shootings, so for instance in
Cleveland you’re more likely to
die of a drug overdose than you are of being shot or
being in a traffic accident. It’s a very, very serious
problem in our state, and we’re
not alone. It’s a problem throughout the
United States, but certainly
it’s a problem here in Ohio. There are across our country 130 people that die every
single day as a result of an overdose to opiates. In Ohio, we’re losing 5
residents every single day to this
disease. So it’s a tremendous loss in all aspects. It’s a loss of a loved one to a family
member, it’s loss of workers, loss of
taxpayers, loss in our communities.
They’re fathers, they’re mothers, it’s just a loss. And one that we all need to
step up to turn that trajectory. Me and my baby mama, we got together, and drug is hard, so she was prostituting. I had her
out there pulling tricks, prostituting. Anyway,
she comes back and as soon as she got out of
the car, I told her I had a
surprise for her. And we went to somebody’s
bathroom, she’s setting up her
rig, I’m setting up mine. I give her
some, she does hers, whatever I had my back turned.
Well, she ain’t telling me
nothing, because usually she’ll say, “Man this is some
good shit” or “This is garbage”. Well, nothing. So I turn around. Eyes in the back of her head,
she falls into the tub, I
freaked out. I didn’t know what to do, I’m
pumping on her chest, you know,
I was breathing in her mouth and like next thing you
know, snot coming out, she breathing a little bit.
Then it like stopped again. So
I called 911, later they’re on their
way. I’ve never been that scared in my life. It’s like I’ve seen
somebody die over heroin, and
it felt like I did it, you know because I gave
her the stuff, so I killed my
baby mama. That’s how I feel.   ♪ Back in 1970, in the early 70s when we would talk about
people overdosing, we were
really specific about that population.
So we were talking about 200, 210 people who had overdosed
because of heroin or opiate related issues. 2012, I believe we were talking about 1,917 individuals who had overdosed because of heroin or
opiate related issues. Epidemic kind of implies it’s
moving at a rate that we can’t get ahold
of or control of. And it’s expanding beyond our
means and our resources. I can’t say that it’s beyond
our means and resources, but it’s happening at such a
fast, at such a quick rate, we
barely have time to catch our breath and get
together and come up with a
systemic approach. But that’s exactly
what we have to do in order to overcome this issue. We have
to look at young people, elderly people
who have chronic illnesses, we have to look at family
histories, people with
histories of trauma, we have to look at urban,
rural, suburban communities. So when people say
epidemic rates, so imagine
those communities I just identified
for you, that on average in the
state of Ohio, we are having 5 overdoses
per day. 5 overdoses per day is epidemic
if you look up the definition by the rural health
organization, Ohio has reached
an epidemic point. As has most of the nation. 10
years ago, we would have an occasional heroin death, but
it was pretty much an occasional sort
of thing. In 2010, I signed out 8 cases that had died of a drug overdose accidentally from
heroin. In 2011, the 8 jumped to 15. In 2012, the 15 became 31. And then last year, we had 80. So we went from 31 almost
tripled to 80. Through October, we’ve had 123.     At the age of 22, I’ve known 4
people that have died from
opiate overdoses, whether it’s from
strong pills like Opana or heroin. Parents like to think
that heroin addiction is only for homeless people or somebody
living under the bridge when in all reality, nowadays
kids are starting off heroin when they’re 16 years
old and they’re from upper
middle class families. They got everything wrapped up
tight in their suburban homes
and you know these parents just
have no idea that it’s
everywhere. When they go to school, it
doesn’t matter how nice your
school is, sometimes the nicer
means there’s even more going around, because they got
the money for it. So you know
they’ll go to school and kids are in their lockers
selling drugs. We’re your everyday middle
class family. My daughter grew up in a suburb
like any other, in Pickerington, Ohio. I’ve
always been a working mom, my husband and I have always
been involved in our children’s lives, their school work, their
sports activities, just your everyday middle class family. When we first learned that our
daughter was using heroin, it was because she was involved
in a traffic accident. It was a boy that she really
liked that introduced her to a whole new group of friends.
Because she dealt with self esteem issues, she made that
bad choice. Once she made that bad choice, and once that
drug entered her veins, there was nothing else that
mattered.   We were great parents, she had
a great life. And if she were here,
she’d tell you. She didn’t want to die. But the grip that this
has it is so hard to beat it. By abusing everyday opiates
such as vicodin, oxycontin, and percocet to treat pain, a
lot of times the path that is
taken to heroin addiction is unintended and
unintentional. New research has shown a direct correlation
between the distribution of
prescription opiates and the rate of overdose deaths
in Ohio. The very vast majority of all
individuals who abuse a substance, it starts as a
result of pain. That can be physical pain or it
can be emotional pain. But most of us don’t wake
up one morning and say, “I’m going to abuse a
substance.” You’re trying to solve
something, you’re viewing that
substance as a way to solve something.
The opiate epidemic is an Iatrogenic disease. Iatrogenic
means a disease that is created
by the medical system. Back in the 90s when we
were told that we should treat pain
as a fifth vital sign, if you
went to a hospital, they would take pulse, blood
pressure, respiration,
temperature, and then they
would ask you about pain. And they started treating
pain very easily. And certainly they were
very well intentioned physicians, I think
the system intended to be very
well intentioned, but in every group of people
there is the good the bad and the
ugly. And when pain as a fifth vital sign started
to be established, and opiates were being prescribed, they
were prescribed responsibly and
irresponsibly. If you look at a graph of the
sale of drugs like vicodin and percocet, oxycodone, hydrocodone, other dromethadone, other drugs in
this class, you see that the number of accidental
overdoses is increasing geometrically very
rapidly, exponentially. And the sale has
increased at the same rate. They’re
actually parallel lines. And so for that reason, we
believe that it is the aggressive treatment of
pain with narcotics that has spread to a lot more
people and continues to spread that has
led to this problem. In the year 2003, the state had
about 80 million doses are
prescription pain killers for
11 and a half men, women, and children. 2013,
the state dispensed 833 million doses of prescription pain killers in
Ohio. So that’s for 11 and a
half men, women, and children. So
obviously not everybody’s
getting prescription. Not all
the kids are getting a
prescription, not every adult
is getting a prescription.
That’s an enormous dosage of opiates that are
coming out of our medical system and what has happened is,
there’s a direct correlation
between that and the number of people that are addicted to
heroin. They start out on the
prescription pain killers, they end up on heroin as their
addiction progresses. ♪ I had back problems and I
started taking pain pills. And then
before I knew it, I was addicted to pain
pills. And then after having four back surgeries, I
just kept taking stronger and stronger pain
pills, from I started at
vicodin and I went all the way
to oxycontin. And then once you’re
done having surgery, they eventually cut you off.
And then I was cut off from pain pills and so I started buying
those from the street, which
became very expensive. And then I was
turned onto heroin before I knew it and I was up and running with heroin.   The problem I see is that it’s
too easy to have access to the
pain medications. They might be well intentioned
int he beginning, but it keeps
going and going and going. In my own personal opinion, we
are scared of pain. We think
that we should not feel anymore, we should numb
everything. And I don’t think
it’s good for us. I think the pain lets you know
you’re alive and lets you know
what’s going on. But when they added pain as a
vital sign and then tied funding to whether you complain about
pain, you see the amount of
pain pills just going through the roof. There’s
simple fixes to it and I hope
the legislature acts on them, but there are simple fixes to
those things. The medical field
has every intention of doing the right
thing by their client.
Unfortunately with this particular drug, and
as I said all of the other issues that
feed into this dynamic, what may seem like the right thing,
the risk is too great. And
you’re never going to establish that within a ten
minute visit at the doctor. And
so this person who came in with an
injury, got their pills, doctor
said, “you should be through”, “Okay I”m out”, starts using it
from other people, and then the
story repeats just like that for the
juvenile, for the young person.
Now I’m telling you you can get one pill for 80
dollars or I can get you 8
balloons of heroin for 80, and I’ll deliver it to
you. And if you tell me you never
want another badge, I’ll say no
problem, take this one it’s on me. The grip of
heroin and opiates is destroying
families and communities. The
effects on the body and the brain are
tremendous. From middle aged
adults, young adults, and even teenagers, no one is
safe. Heroin addiction knows no bounds and one dose is enough
to hook you for life. One of the things that I think
people need to understand about these drugs is that they
will make you do things you never thought that you
would do. Most of us have an
experience at having difficulty with will
power. I couldn’t stay on my diet, I couldn’t
quit smoking, I started an exercise routine and then I
fell off after a few weeks. Take that and multiply it times
2,000 and that’s what you’re looking at with heroin. I did
everybody dirty, it didn’t
matter what it was if I had a chance to take
something from somebody that’s
going to get me high, I was
doing it. You know if my mom left the
purse on the table and there
was 200 dollars in it, there was only going to be a
dollar left in her purse and
199 in my pocket. I took everything I could. The
grip on heroin, is like no other grip you’ll
never encounter, another grip like that, it’s
the strongest thing I’ve ever
had. It took the jobs, the family,
the clothes, my housing. I even sold the shoes off my
feet, drugs took everything
from me. ♪ [Underwater sounds]     If you can imagine yourself
under water, and you really want to breathe,
but you have to swim to the surface of
the water in order to breathe. You’re swimming and you’re
swimming and you’re swimming
trying to get there. Getting to the surface to
breathe in the water is their
next use of the drug, their next
fix. So imagine how desperate that you could be
to try to gasp for air. That’s how desperate people are
to use the drug.   The high of heroin is what is
so enticing and attractive. I mean just look at
my own demeanor when I talk
about it, right? So the euphoria, the high that
you get from heroin is like, I want you to
think of the most pleasurable,
enjoyable experience you’ve ever had, and
you’re going to stay that way for hours.   ♪     When it gets ahold of you,
there’s no coming back. There’s no willingness to come
back. As a parent you wonder what you
could have done differently. Should I have done more? And you’ll never know, you know? Once you get past the denial
because I thought before I learned
about heroin was that this was just a bad
choice that she made. And she’s going to get over it
and she’s going to be fine. And then as I read about it and
I realized as I was overwhelmed with the knowledge
that her life was never going
to be the same again. And that this was a chronic
brain disease and that basically she would be
looking at trying to stay in
remission for the rest of her life. And
that everyday was about keeping
her alive. And that in itself was very, very difficult.
Sometimes it feels like a nightmare, but then I
know because she’s not here
anymore. We often think of becoming
addicted as those people that have used these
kind of drugs time and time and time again. What we’re seeing
now, these drugs are so
powerful, so pure as they get to these folks
in the street, that even what we have seen one
time, people become addicted because of the
euphoria that these drugs cause, the strength of this. So
it’s so dangerous compared to when I
reminisce about the 1970s, the power of these opiates now
are so strong that we have to be concerned
about even experimental drugs. And I think that a
number of us that grew up in the 60s and 70s don’t
understand the intensity of
what we’re facing out there now with heroin and
opiates.   I don’t think people realize how bad of an epidemic this is. I
think it’s until we start talking, people like me start
talking and more people start talking
in the communities, and we get
rid of the stigma of addicts, what an addict is, we’re never going to get past
this. Because addicts can be
anybody. Addicts are seniors in high
schools that are jocks in sports that
get hurt and get on pain
killers and then become addicted. Addicts can be
just anybody. Sometimes you
think, “Well it’s just people that are down
on their luck or they’re poor.”
That’s not the case at all. There’s a lot of people
who are struggling with
addiction, they have had everything taken
from them. They were a lawyer,
a banker, an attorney. I mean very
successful professionals, but
they become hooked to the substance. It doesn’t
discriminate. It acts the same
way in everybody’s brain. It
doesn’t matter what you
believe, what color you are, whether you’re a man or a
woman, and anybody can become
hooked. It’s in the suburbs of Columbus
and Cleveland and Cincinnati. And every city in between. It’s
in the small towns and the
villages out here in Northwest Ohio that we
traditionally think of as kind
of just very sacrosanct, almost
set aside. But believe me, if it’s in a lot of these
small, rural communities, it’s everywhere. As many heroin
addicts resort to crime, and other drastic measures to
get their next high, it’s
important to realize that addicts need help. Heroin
addiction is a disease. Addicts should always be held
responsible for their actions,
but it’s imperative that the source of the problem
not be ignored. ♪               The problem is we’re having
large amounts of what I call
property crimes. They’re stealing to
satisfy their addiction, I mean
they’re not going out to steal to break somebody’s house,
they’re stealing to feed an
addiction. Through the court system,
28,000 people, I did 7,000
cases last year, that’s a lot of cases. And we’ve seen a massive
increase in petty theft. If you
look all around it, we’re spending so much money to
treat the issue and not get to the underlying issue. We’re
just saying here, “we’ll save
them today, we’ll get them back and we’ll put them back out” we
don’t ever fix the issue. We
never get to the underlying
issue and deal with their addiction
and deal with the problem, we
just kind of put band aids on it. We’ve done studies now
which show that addiction is a chronic, relapsing brain
disease. Very much like type 1 diabetes and
hypertension and asthma. And if you compare the
heritability, the relapse rates, the treatment,
the monitoring, it’s very, very interesting to see
that you might as well be
talking about the same disease. You might be talking about
instead of opiate addiction,
you’re basically talking about type 1 diabetes
because they essentially are
like mirror images. We can’t criminalize the
disease of addiction. And we always draw the parallel
of cancer of diabetes. If I said to you that 40 percent of the people
with cancer that we treat
recover, I would get a Nobel peace
prize, I would get something. But if I say 40 percent of the
people who have the disease of
addiction recover, people aren’t
impressed with that because
there’s this stigma they’re dirty, they’re
criminals, they lie, they cheat, they steal. ♪     To criminalize them is a
lifetime sentence for an action, for a behavior, for a disease that if we truly treat it as a
disease model, they have no control over. The first
time you use, absolutely your
choice, Absolutely. I’m not sure that
the second time you use,
especially a drug like heroin, there’s
that much choice as there is
physical drive for the high. I believe
drug related cases, depending on
what it is, you know you shouldn’t be sent
to prison, you should be sent
to a rehabilitation center.   We’re incarcerating too many
people. We are incarcerating people that
need treatment. We see just
about 80 percent of the people coming
to our prisons have a history of addiction. 80
percent. And those are huge numbers. And they’re driving our population
up, and those folks that in some cases use illegal
drugs in this state, that started out of the
medicine cabinet, either their
own or their family’s medicine
cabinet, they are becoming criminals based on our system
and not being treated up front. ♪ We have nearly 53 thousand individuals in
prison, incarcerated in prison in the state of Ohio. So about
half that number we accept for less than a year’s worth of
a sentence, 24 thousand
individuals. Most of those cases, almost 80 percent of them are related to
some sort of a drug issue,
heroin has become the lion share of those
people, people’s addictions. And it’s
getting to the point where the state literally does
not have enough beds in the
prison system to incarcerate everybody that’s
getting sent to prison on a heroin charge. And so the
state is looking at this and
saying “What do we do? How do we solve
this problem?” Because the
reality is, we send them to prison for 9
months, so we punish them
without any treatment to address their underlying
addiction, what happens when
they get released? They go back and they
just do the same thing right
over again because they haven’t had any
treatment for their addiction. ♪ As a society we have to
recognize that this is an illness and
sending people to jail isn’t going to solve it. There
may be some people who need to
go to jail having to do with selling
heroin, but overall, the people that we
know and care about who become addicted to these
medications have a disease like
any other. And just as you wouldn’t throw
a diabetic into jail because they weren’t controlling their
blood sugar the way we think
that they should control their blood sugar, we also shouldn’t
be throwing heroin addicts into
jail unless they’re committing bad crimes.
We have to look at these individuals as they are individuals and try
and come up with a path for
treatment that isn’t just based on lock
them up, but based on maybe lock them up, detox them,
get them into treatment, put them back out into the
community, hold them
accountable, and provide them with supports. As the
opiate and heroin epidemic continues to surge,
the sense of urgency is now. With multiple methods of
treatment available for those
who are addicted, medication assisted treatment
has emerged as being the most
successful and effective method of helping people get
clean and sober. In my opinion, if we’re going
to be successful with this epidemic, we need to create environments where people have
the opportunity to get well in a way that they think will
work for them when they’re ready to do it. ♪     There are a number of different ways
for people to get clean from
heroin or other opiates. One way is to
go into in-patient treatment. One of the difficult things
about this opiate epidemic is that our system of care doesn’t
have enough beds for all the
people who are addicted to opiates. When we have
somebody who comes into our agency and talks
to a counselor for the very
first time, the counselor says, “Wow,
you really need to get into an in-patient
setting and stay over night, and maybe even stay for a
couple weeks or a month” the
chances of them being able to get into
that kind of a treatment
program aren’t all that good. Even though
that’s really what they need. ♪ We’ve created these out-patient
solutions that in many cases are as effective as going
in-patient and there are 2 of them in
particular that I would
highlight that were developed
specifically in response to the opiate
epidemic. One of them is our
medication assisted treatment program and that is a
program which is capable of prescribing suboxone as well
as vivitrol. So if you come to our
agency, you’re addicted to
opiates and we can’t get you in to an
in-patient unit, or for whatever reason you
don’t want to go into an
in-patient unit, you’re deemed to be safe to not
do that, we will connect you with our medication
assisted treatment program and you will see a physician as
well as an RN as well as
receiving counseling and that level of
care is effective for many people.     Ten years ago, we would counsel and counsel and counsel. I really feel very strongly
about medication assisted
treatment because I have seen
it. And you know through experience
with treating patients,
counseling helps a great deal in terms of
identifying the creation of the opiate addiction as well as
relapse triggers and behavioral mechanisms. But medication
assisted treatment has revolutionized the treatment of
opiate addiction. We went throughout the state
and we found out that our state
has about a 10 percent success rate for heroin addiction. A 10
percent success rate. That’s a 90 percent failure
rate. But we found that there
were some providers throughout the state that were talking
about 60 percent success rates
or 70 percent success rates. And
so we began to look at the things that those providers
were doing. Medication assisted treatment is very important
because it allows people to
kind of come down off those levels slowly. They
can titrate down on whatever product they choose to
use, whatever works for them. And it really helps people with
the physical side of that
addiction. Which is what’s so powerful
about the heroin addiction,
it’s not just a mental condition, a behavioral
condition, it’s also really a
very physical addiction as well. Your body is addicted to it. In
spite of the stress and the tragedy that we go
through with our clients we also get to go through the
successes with them. And people truly do recover,
they really do go from having their lives be a complete mess and be
very much at risk of dying to being successful and in some
ways able to share inspiration and
hope with others.   I never thought I would be able
to get off of heroin, I never thought I would be able to stop
taking pain pills. I thought
that this was it for me. I currently use suboxone and that is taking sublingval
under your tongue. What it does is it stops the
withdraws. It takes the thoughts away, the
cravings away, it made my life livable,
functionable. I am starting to look for a job
again, I had my family back, I go to
groups, because everybody, it seems
like this epidemic is so bad. I don’t
know if I have the right answer or the
wrong answer, but I know that’s
what saved my life. I think the medication assisted treatment,
usually it’s suboxone, sometimes it’s the long acting
shot of vivitrol, they work
differently, really makes a
difference in terms of taking away a lot of the
cravings. For the most part
they’re very safe medicines and they’re
essential. But they’re not sufficient. They need to begin to
understand and understand the nature of their addiction
and also understand that there is hope, reasonable
hope of recovering what that all
entails. And the fact that they will be
dealing with this probably the
rest of their lives, and there’s always the
danger of relapse. We are all affected in one way
or another. As we all search for answers,
those with addictions need to
understand that there is hope. It will take
hard work, dedication, and passion for change in order to
take back our communities. Everyone has a role to play,
and how seriously we all take
our roles will determine the future of
Ohio. This addiction is a public health issue in our community and in our state. And the only option for us to provide the safety and
security and hope for change is for us
all to come forward and do
something about it. Everyone has to be empowered, feel empowered, willing to do
something, and there is something every
one of us can do. We’ve won more rounds than
we’ve lost. But if we want to
finish this by knocking it out and putting it
on the mat, then it involves us
working collectively across the state,
amongst every cabinet and every office.
That’s the attorney general and
the governor in his cabinets coming together.
That’s all of the associations
coming together and saying you know what, here’s what we
recognize, this is what we need
to do if we’re going to overcome the
opiate epidemic in Ohio. And if everybody is invested
with those 4 goals in mind, prevention, intervention,
treatment, and avoiding deaths from all departments, we
absolutely can win this fight.
But there’s a lesson to be learned in terms
of how we got here. Which is the conversation must
continue even after we’ve laid this to rest. I
believe we’re winning in terms of getting the awareness
out there, to pharmacists, to
doctors, to nurses, to law enforcement.
We’re winning because people are beginning to
understand that people who are addicted to heroin are not
necessarily losers. That a lot of this is due to
the brain addiction, the brain
disorders. The brain illness that is the
addiction to heroin and other opiates. So I think
we’re making head room, will we eliminate heroin
addiction? No, I don’t think
so, we’re not going to eliminate it. But we can
significantly curtail it,
significantly reduce it. And so I’m extremely
encouraged. We live in a world of instant
gratification, you know, you can pretty much buy
anything off the internet. Every commercial you see
there’s a pill, there’s a pill
for everything. And so we’ve lost
sight of those healthy choices and
looking at, that like I said,
it’s okay to feel some pain. And you know
this can be a very long conversation going back to
doctors not being educated on prescribing. The
pharmaceutical companies that
keep rolling out the drugs that they want
everybody to buy. So it’s a
very broad problem that we have in this
country, so it’s going to take work from the federal level on
down to make a difference. For anyone out there that’s on
drugs and they’re trying to quit, all you got to do is
ask. There are plenty of places
that is willing to help, that want
to help. But you can’t run from it, it don’t
matter where you go. Suburbs,
country, inner city. Heroin is
everywhere, you can’t run or
hide from no one. But the biggest thing is, ask. And people will help. Ever since I started asking to
get off heroin, a lot of people
helped. Recovery does work, people do
recover. [Cheering] Don’t give up hope. You can get clean. There is
life after heroin. Once you get through the
withdraws and you start seeing your life
straighten up, you realize there is hope, you’ll get your
life back, it takes time, it
takes time to get your family back. I
know if I did it you can do it. Just ask for
help. That’s the main thing, you just
have to ask and be willing to receive the
help that they’re willing to
give you. I would be foolish to think
that after we deal with this something
else isn’t going to come along.
What’s going to work for now, it’s having an approach that crosses systems
and crosses boundaries and takes the responsibility off of
one system that is a shared responsibility of every system.
Because these could be my daughters, this could be my
family, this is our community and we’re
responsible for it. So we really do have to stop, you
know put our egos aside, put down the idea that I want
to be the one who makes the
bust, I want to be the one who
causes the recovery, I want to be the one
who they thank. If you’re in this because you’re
expecting a thank you at the
end of the day, thank you. Now get the work
done. Addiction to opiates and heroin
is claiming an average of 5 lives a day in Ohio,
eclipsing all other forms of accidental death. We are all
affected in one way or another. It may not be your family
directly, but it could very
well be your neighbor, your friend, or your coworker.
This addiction is tearing our
community apart and it’s our
responsibility to pick up the
pieces and put it back together. Through programs like
the one you’ve just seen and
town hall forums, we hope to bring
awareness to this epidemic. I’d
like to thank you for joining us for
part one of our series,
Addiction: Heroin and Pills. For WBGU-TV, I’m Steve
Kendall. We’ll see you next time. If you or someone you know is dealing
with an addiction, please call
one of the numbers on your screen to get help. Recovery is
only one call away. ♪ You can also log on to the
state of Ohio’s Start Talking website to get more information
and assistance. ♪   ♪                                            


  1. Ten dollars worth of heroin is NOT equal to a hundred dollars worth of pills unless the pill guy is overcharging. $30 of pills for $5-10 worth of dope sure. Not $100.

  2. Very educational. I never correlated the 5th vital sign (pain) as a possible cause for the rise in addiction.

  3. Im so glad that this video shows that drugs are not just in the inner cities. You will find it more in White communities Suburban….VERY TRUE!!!

  4. I'm a recovering pill addict that were prescribed I almost went to heroin cause of $$$$ but pain is also horrible I understand chronic pain an I understand addiction 100% so until u understand both don't put negative opinions on it please and thank you… this is something g very close to me I fight the front line of addiction with myself and my boyfriend … a lot of people are addicts its a disease more people needs to research on please….

  5. when will the drug companies be held accountable? they can create synthetic heroin but the addiction remains a tolerable side effect?? the fact that it is addictive and that there is visible evidence of addiction caused by the drugs, should be cause enough to not only sue for the cost of everyone's rehab but restitution for the people affected. stop blaming the users!!! especially when they were FORCIBLY addicted to these opioids by careless doctors and pills that set them up for addiction.

  6. You cannot recover from drug addiction by substituting one substance for another. That's just like pouring petrol on a fire. The only solution for an addict who has the disease of addiction is complete abstinence from all drugs. It's impossible to recover from drug addiction by using drugs. Unfortunately for treatment centers and the medical Corporation there is no profit in total abstinence so they sell and relabel another drug and call it legal medication by taking advantage of the addicts disposition. If everyone stopped using most of the medical "drug Company's" , along with the corrective services would be out of work. Personally total abstinence has given me longevity, peace, serenity and freedom for the past 20 years…

  7. To those people out there that think it`s just this certain type of people , behind the alley ways, down town crowd, poor people . It is quite the contrary like it says Very easily to hide and go undetected. Teachers. lawyers. Me, judges, police men & woman, Doctors moms and dad right on down the line …it is a life sentence . they need to create and easy way for the body to discharge the drug and it`s many receptors inactive . some people cant take the physical death feeling that goes on for days . then 2nd stage for a few weeks….. months and month of never feeling quite yourself till about 10 months .

  8. this makes alot of sense and i am deeply sorry for all those kids who went down the wrong path heroin is not a game it's life or DEATH-jay

  9. For each realistic poster re: the public health issue of opiod addiction, there are some who are not- people that deny the science, and the doctors, and STILL somehow see addiction as a moral failing, and addicts as bad people that do not deserve help… To those people, I say this: What about that person in YOUR life,who you LOVE and CARE about deeply, and who you KNOW is not a bad person- do they too deserve no help?… All too often the answer is that there is NO SUCH person in their life. Well, guess what? THERE IS. I guarantee it. (Just maybe that person knows your opinion and is scared to ask for your help, love, and support?- they may die. Do you want that stain on your soul?)…. Also, re:a bowl full of pills? LMFAO.

  10. 23:12 wow, that girl had self esteem issues?? She was drop dead gorgeous! 😐 having said that, no matter what you are like, if you don't believe/see that yourself it doesn't matter what others say. I get that. Such a shame. But she was really pretty 😕

  11. War on drugs was always a misguided complete failure, and the more money poured into the war on drugs, the worse it gets.

  12. I want off pills but I don’t want any other band aids either. I’m not sure how to do it. I get them legally or should say I was getting them legally and I’m angry that no one is being held responsible I wasn’t writing the prescriptions for myself. My drs got me on a high dose then without warning all a sudden cdc guidelines changed and they decided I wasn’t worth the risk to their license so they gave me 1 months script and said god luck finding a new dr. I never misused my medication, I passed all my UA screenings, never asked for early refills. And they know you can’t just pull someone off these drugs like this, I’ve gone to 3 drs and no one will match my current script regime. I live in New Jersey and I’m on a 300mg daily intake. I can not believe Iam in position right now. From this day onward I do not trust any dr and they are playing with my life here. Iam very upset. That they could even do this to me I’ve been in the sane dose for 5 years with no issues. I don’t have money for an attorney otherwise I would fight back. I also think maybe my drs may have had some dea issues but they won’t disclose to thier patients but I heard some whispering going around about it. I only went there because I was referred there from my pcp doctor. They were board certified and I thought drs weee caring for me and my health. Now I really understand my health is at the bottom of the list to them and it’s money and they’re license. Instead of them just lowering my dose or tapering me they just threw me to the curb. I never did a single drug in my life until I got on these pills. While they took my hip pain away (long story) once they wore off they stopped working. I just don’t know what to do anymore. Any dr in New Jersey who reads this or has any advice please help me, tindwani.cheryl @ Gmail . Com

  13. What about the chronic pain patients that use the opiate prescriptions responsibly?
    Then suddenly their medication is pulled from them because of these addicts
    Many of these patients are committing suicide because the pain is so intense

  14. 1315 people die every day in the United States from big tobacco. Yes that's four hundred and eighty thousand a year. Heroin overdoses gun deaths drunk driving are small potatoes compared to that number

  15. Never work if the goverment not gonna be honost this is a disease and treated like one!! Jail is not the solution never was for addicts

  16. Very very seldom does Heroin kill on its own because the dealers ain.t gonna put it out there like at…There hasn't been decent bag or pill of dope since the 70's…What you will die from , and is almost always the case is Heroin being used at the same time you are using  Benzo , Fentanyl, Alcohol, Cocaine or any other drug….But they always call it a "Heroin" overdose….which is a lie and not accurate at all…The Synergistic effect also takes a part in overdose…In laymans terms its 1 + 1 = 9…Addiction and Alcoholism are disease as described by the AMA in 1953 and 1968. They have Primary and Secondary symptoms which are lethal without treatment…Treatment is abstinence…

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