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Johann Hari’s Ted Talk on Addiction

Johann Hari’s Ted Talk on Addiction

Amy No Comments

Watch Johann Hari’s excellent Ted Talk on Addiction. I do not necessarily agree with him but he makes a good case. You only have to sit in meetings of alcoholics anonymous to believe that only some people will become addicts. Others can drink and use drugs like cocaine without it destroying their lives. The true addict cannot take their drug without becoming addicted. You may have heard the rat story, this is it.


SAMHSA Released Updated Opioid Overdose Prevention Toolkit

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Our country is currently facing an opioid crisis, one which we are having a very difficult time addressing. In recent years, our social media feeds have become scattered with articles and videos bringing awareness to this crisis. Many are desperate to stop this epidemic, with many struggling to effectively address this issue. This problem has gotten so bad that the Trump administration has recently declared addressing the opioid epidemic in America as a top priority. SAMHSA, (The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration), has very recently just released a toolkit to help health providers and families prevent opioid overdoses. SAMSHA has already done a lot to help fight our country’s opioid crisis. How will we work towards diminishing this social issue? Education is the first step, but what steps must we take following education? This toolkit addresses this. This new toolkit helps to educate providers and families on opioid overdose prevention. This toolkit employs multiple educational strategies to deter opioid overdosing. SAMHSA encourages easy access to treatment for those who suffer with opioid addictions, something that we at Drug Rehab Comparison make it our mission to provide.

This toolkit enables providers and family members to properly identify how to prevent and manage these types of overdoses. Signs of opioid overdosing are listed in this toolkit. This toolkit also discusses what opioids are, allowing for a comprehensive understanding of how to manage issues related to opioid use. Education is a large key to allowing people to understand ways we can combat this harrowing epidemic.

The toolkit also shows providers how to use naloxone, a medication which can help reverse an opioid overdose. Prescription drugs are often abused, leading to opioid addiction. This toolkit enables healthcare providers to monitor prescription drug use, in order to recognize and prevent opioid addiction.

Our nation’s opioid crisis must be addressed. As social media and the news raises awareness of this issue, we must bring forth measures which can fight and prevent this deadly addiction crisis. The release of this toolkit shows that SAMHSA understands that knowledge is power. Education is the first step towards prevention.



12 Step Survival Guide to Family Events

Amy one comments

When our family of origin is a dysfunctional alcoholic family (and let’s face it that is usually the case) spending time with our family as recovering alcoholics can be a scary proposition.  The family of origin issues can be some of the most difficult we have had to deal with in our own recovery and returning to the family — especially if you are the only member in recovery — can create extreme anxiety.  We love our families and it is natural to want to spend time with them, but if it is going to have a negative impact on our own recovery then it may be best to not show up especially if you are in early sobriety. I remember being at a family wedding 5 months sober and being asked if I was joking when I asked for a soda.  I was terrified — I thought they would put alcohol in my drink.  I survived but it was a difficult experience.  However, if you have some time and have worked through your resentments through the 4th and 5th step then you can show up for family events and even have a good time.  I have found that there are certain steps I must take to ensure I protect my sobriety.

12 Step survival guide to family events:

  1. A few months before my trip I check in with my sponsor on any resentment I may have towards any family members and ensure I work through them using the 10th step.
  2. I then pray every day for the people I have the most difficulty with not so they can be better by the time I get there but to soften my heart and help remind me that they are sick people and I am called to show compassion by my program.
  3. I read a lot of the literature and go to a lot of meetings.
  4. I ask other AA members to pray that I can be present without getting sick and can show my family love and kindness no matter what.  I also share my fears and hear how they handle family events.
  5. The chapter in the Big Book “To Wives “ is a must read and if you replace the “wives” with family members it will remind you to show the same love and tolerance to your family we give to any other member of AA.
  6. It is also important to know where the local meetings are in advance of your trip. An online search will help you find the list. There is no point in getting to boiling point then trying to figure out where the meetings are forewarned is forearmed.
  7. Keep your cell phone charged and ensure you have other sober members to call in case you are not able to get to meetings.
  8. If you are overseas and have difficulty calling try staying in contact with your sponsor via e-mail.  It is pretty easy to get internet access almost everywhere now.
  9. I also find it essential to have a safe place to go to where I can be alone if I am triggered and there is drama and behavior that I find uncomfortable. I also need to have a place to go to detach when I have had enough.  It is no longer enjoyable to hang around people drinking until the small hours. I gave all that up when I quit drinking.  I book a local hotel or rent accommodation. It is worth the extra money to keep yourself safe.
  10. Do not gloat the next day when you are the only one without a hangover.  Other people’s drinking is none of your business.
  11. Saying the serenity prayer over and over also helps the most important issue being that I have no control over others.
  12. Always be willing to share your experience strength and hope if invited but do not preach.  It may be useful to read chapter 12 “Working with Others” and be prepared to carry the message if the opportunity arises.

I have been to several family reunions of one kind or another and had to go into therapy when I returned.  This has not happened for a while as I take care to ensure I am prepared and when the arrows start flying and the alcoholic drinking starts I know what to do    My higher power is always with me and is an endless source of peace in any situation. There is no need to shun your family in sobriety although in some cases the situation may be so toxic you risk your sobriety by participating in family events.  Take counsel with your sponsor or therapist in these situations.  I have known fellow AA’s who were willing to miss weddings and funerals to protect their sobriety.  This is as it should be with Sobriety being the #1 priority without it we have nothing else.

One of the hardest things I had to deal with in early sobriety was being treated like an outsider. I could not understand it I thought they would be proud of me.  What I did not understand then was if they accepted my alcoholism they might have to look at themselves and I had stepped outside the circle and was not longer an “insider”.  This was hard to accept at first but today after many many 24 hours of sobriety I am very happy to be an outsider and I can and do love my family dearly.  I just know that I am always just one drink away from a relapse and that is not an option.  These steps I take help me prepare for all possibilities and ensure I stay happy, joyous and free no matter what.


Surgeon General calls the country to action on addiction epidemic

Amy No Comments

Last week the Surgeon General released a historic report which called the country to action.   Dr. Vivek H. Murthy made clear that the issue of addiction was one relevant to all communities, across all demographics and socioeconomic profiles.  He also highlighted the lack of progress that has been made on the issue despite extensive investment and much rhetoric.

“With this report, I’m calling our country to action around one of the most underrecognized and under addressed public health issues of our time.” – Dr. Vivek H. Murthy

We welcome the Surgeon General’s Report on Alcohol, Drugs & Health; much of the findings and recommendations outlined reinforce many of the arguments and theories that have been examined by Drug Rehab Comparison in our quest to educate and raise awareness of the complexities that come with substance abuse disorders.  It is reassuring that he recognizes and has comprehensively publicized that our substance misuse and addiction problem is the significant health crisis that it is. He also called on the country to reexamine their understanding, attitudes and interpretation of addiction.  Highlighting the necessity to destigmatize addiction and to embrace an integrated and coordinated approach to treatment as the best solution.  

Dr. Murthy went on to highlight the staggering figures associated with this national problem; 20.8 million people in the country are struggling with substance use disorders.  To gain some perspective this figure is the same as the number of individuals with diabetes and nearly twice the number of people with all cancers combined.  Economically the addiction epidemic has gravely damaging effects with the total cost of substance misuse and illicit drug use combined standing at an enormous $442 billion.  The report outlines a practical, alternative solution to a problem that has baffled politicians, policy makers and administrations for decades.  It has been well documented on this resource site that the war on drugs and associated approaches have been a failure, with rising addiction rates, an unprecedented opioid epidemic and a mass incarceration of addicts.  

While this is not the first Surgeon General’s report to discuss substance use disorders, it is the first to examine extensively substance use disorders in the context of broader health issues and various other consequences.  The report dedicates an entire chapter to adequately examine the neurobiology of substance abuse and addiction; reaching the conclusion that we have long argued that addition is a disease of the brain and should be treated as such.  American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) president Jeffrey Goldsmith, MD also supported the Surgeon General’s ideology stating “For too long, policymakers, the public, and even healthcare providers have misunderstood this disease as some sort of moral failing. We hope this report will put an end to that misperception once and for all.”

Adequate treatment requires cross sector cooperation, integrated health care and treatment approaches, with a universal understanding and unified commitment to truly tackling the disease both on an individual and national basis.  A core element of his approach as a means to addressing the addiction issue is through preventative measures across various programs and policies.  The report also carefully considers treatment, examining early intervention and integrated approaches.   It may seem obvious but with the stigma surrounding substance abuse and the lack of empathy and compassion many do not rate it as a genuine health condition and several would dispute its categorization as a disease.  Challenging these unhelpful perceptions among the public and more importantly among our health care practitioners is vital in addressing our addiction epidemic.  

The process of delivery and the way in which addiction is perceived is key in restructuring our treatment options in a way that is accessible, fully utilised, with a dual diagnosis approach and adequate aftercare and recovery programs.  Despite the alarming number of people suffering from substance abuse disorders only 10 percent of them receive any type of speciality treatment.  Further to this 40% of those with a  substance abuse disorder also have a mental health condition but just 48% of them receive treatment for either disorder.  The report refers to this “treatment gap” as a critical pitfall in efforts to tackle addiction; it outlines a number of reasons for the gap, including an inability to access or afford care, fear of shame or discrimination and a lack of options with respect to screening for substance use disorders in our general health care settings.  Despite the documented correlation between addiction and mental health, the care and treatment options have been provided through very distinct and separate systems.  The report acknowledges changes in this trend and hopes to further increase this change in delivery.

Theoretically an integrated approach and a recognition by healthcare providers that addiction is a disease and should be treated as such seems quite simple.   In practice and in reality strategic and committed steps must be taken to actually achieve this.  The report suggests that eligibility for state grants and development programs should be dependent on integrating care for mental and substance use disorders or that incentives be provided for organisations supporting this approach.  Additional practical steps recommended were that we have a workforce competently cross-educated and trained across these areas. At the moment a poultry 8% of medical schools offer a separate and compulsory course on addiction medicine.  We cannot offer a robust, coordinated, integrated healthcare system without equipping our health care professionals with the necessary education, understanding and tools.   

The education and reeducation across the health sector will also yield a new perspective and approach to the use of medication for substance use disorders as well as the harmful addictive implication of certain medications. Dr. Murthy believes that the misconceptions regarding addiction result in misunderstandings about the roles of methadone and buprenorphine thus hindering their availability in treatment. Such attitudes also create barriers to the adoption of harm reduction strategies like needle/syringe exchange programs, which evidence shows can reduce the spread of infectious diseases among individuals who inject drugs.  The report also endorses the potential of certain medications in the effective treatment of various substance abuse disorders, such as alcoholism.  The country’s opioid epidemic has been irrefutably linked to the over prescribing of highly potent and addictive pain medication. The Surgeon General calls on clinicians to treat pain with non opioid medications and requests pharma companies, academia and government to be cognisant of the role such meds play in the national problem and requires them to work together in creating and utilising non opioid based medications.  

In summary his Vision for the Future is an integrated health care system with preventative, treatment and recovery services delivered effectively, with increase access to care, improved quality of services with measured improvement in outcomes for Americans.  A herculean task, but achievable with commitment and a national movement.



“Good people don’t smoke marijuana”- New Attorney General

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After a turbulent campaign and what was a shock election for many, the dust has begun to settle.  President Elect Donald Trump has started appointing his new administration and he has named Jeff Sessions as his pick for attorney general.  Sessions has been vocal in his hard line stance on drugs, in particular condemning  marijuana and the wave of legalization across the country.  He is and has been firm in his belief that marijuana is an illegal and harmful drug, proclaiming that it is more dangerous than alcohol.  Earlier this year at a hearing of the Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control he called-out the current administration claiming that “we need grown-ups in charge in Washington to say marijuana is not the kind of thing that ought to be legalized, it ought not to be minimized, that it’s in fact a very real danger.”  He also stated that the message which needs to be sent out to the American people is that “good people don’t smoke marijuana”

Senator Jeff Sessions speaking at the Caucus of International Narcotics Control 


Marijuana laws have come a long way after a meandering road of prohibition and decriminalization dating back to the first decriminalization measure  in Oregon in 1973.  Today there are 26 states with laws legalizing marijuana either for medical or recreational purposes.  This approach of decriminalization follows what has essentially been a failed war on drugs. An attorney general so fearful of marijuana is certain to undo the work that has been done by his predecessors in changing the arsenal to decriminalization.  Sessions has been extremely hostile to legalization and has been clear that a revert back to approaches adopted by Nixon and Reagan are his intent.  There is no doubt that his appointment would prove regressive and inevitably result in a  strain on our justice system and prisons.

This appointment looks likely to also dismantle the country’s National Drug Control Strategy which was clear that reform of our drug policy was crucial; focusing on scientific, evidence based prevention programs, and increased access to treatment.  It also put a renewed emphasis on recovery, in addition to criminal justice reform.  The Obama Administration gave a full commitment to this approach just last year, with Obama himself explaining that the “war on drugs has been so heavy in emphasising incarceration that it has been counterproductive.” He believed that this approach was pushing young people further into lives of crime and prevented them from availing of potential employment opportunities.  

We have documented the country’s war on drugs, the truce, and the new approaches over the past 2 years.  In a piece last year we were clear that “the drugs epidemic continues to be seen as a criminal issue rather than a public health issue, until this changes in all departments tasked with tackling it, criminalization will continue.”.  Criminalization has not and is not working but we have seen international success stories with decriminalization.  This approach has the potential to reduce street violence, reduce overcrowding in prisons; it has also been proven to reduce harm to addicts and has a genuine potential to eliminate organised crime and the black market.  

A joint report released last month by the Human Rights Watch and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) holds the same view regards to criminalization. Tess Borden the report’s author explained that “Every 25 seconds someone is funneled into the criminal justice system, accused of nothing more than possessing drugs for personal use.  These wide-scale arrests have destroyed countless lives while doing nothing to help people who struggle with dependence.”



With an already high arrest rate and an exhausted criminal justice system, one can only presume that our prisons and courts will be even more packed with the appointment of Senator Jeff Sessions.



If walls could talk- feelings of growing up with an alcoholic parent

Amy 2 comments

Sometimes I think adults conveniently forget what it was like to be a child.  When it comes to problems at home they assume that children don’t have the mental, emotional or social intelligence to know what’s going on.  I say this because so often I hear phrases like "we don’t fight in front of them" or "they’re too young to understand". I disagree, they do know what’s going on, they hear the fighting and they definitely feel the tension.  I know this for certain because I remember all these things with great clarity and felt them acutely while growing up in a  home with an alcoholic father. I felt and remember all the little intricacies that went with this family disease.  I remember the individual behaviors, roles and habits but more clearly I remember the feelings. Feelings of helplessness, confusion, panic, dread, fear, abandonment, and disappointment.

Woman feeling so alone

A home with an alcoholic is very unique, the addict dictates the pace; they hold the power because the disease is so destructive everyone else works tirelessly to try and keep it at bay.  In our home there could be no alcohol and the person who dared bring it into the house would then be the cause of my father’s relapse when it would come. If drink did pass the doorway it had to be consumed promptly or removed, the temptation wasn’t fair and his sobriety was so fragile he could not be trusted with alcohol. Even if we went out for dinner and there was a dish on the menu with alcohol and he said he was ordering it, there was instant panic.  Sometimes someone would be brave and say he shouldn’t have it.  Sometimes I think he said it to scare us, other times I think he was testing his resolve and on some occasions I think he was purposely looking for that taste that would tip him over the edge.  When he intently refused the dish with alcohol, we would be proud and think wow this is the real deal, he’s really on the wagon this time.  Strange the things that stand out in your mind. These memories are pretty minimal in terms of the tornado of emotions and the associated mental torture.

Usually when he was sober we all lived in silent desperation that nothing major would happen that would make him drink.  When there was a death, family or friend, we just battened down the hatches and waited for the inevitable. When drunk or sober we all lived in a constant state of anxiety and fear; waiting, wondering and worrying what would happen next.  Would today be the day, how bad would tonight get?  We were powerless, he had all the power.  We all subconsciously worked together in making sure he either didn’t start drinking or didn’t blow up and terrify us.  We all played a very crucial part in making sure he didn’t drink, even if we didn’t realize we were doing it.  What we didn’t know then was we were actually making it easier.  I’m not really sure how long it took us to see our efforts were in vain, this blindness and hope had only served to intensify all the emotions.

There was an anticipation that he would drink, or that there would be an outburst; we never knew when or why it might happen so we were on high alert at all times and in a constant state of anxiety. This was all pretty common place, so gradually we learned the patterns and there would be slight lulls in our anxiety and worry.  Yet it was always there, under the surface, because we knew the peace or our version of it wouldn’t last very long.  This setting intensifies your awareness to a paranoid level.  Every look, every word, every unspoken word, noise, movement was an indication, a warning.  My senses were heightened by fear, I noticed everything. You come to know all the warning signs, we tried to distract, deflect, ignore, manipulate, hoping to stop the fight.  Even when we’d sit there silent, afraid to raise our head and look him in the eye, hoping he’d leave us alone, he didn’t.   We fed off each other’s fear and worry and those emotions engulfed the whole house and smothered each of us. He had a power over us, he was at the centre of everything, our home revolved around him and keeping him happy, trying not to upset him was of paramount importance.  The alternative was that he wreaked havoc and we would all suffer. On a night we got to bed before the chaos started you would lay awake, listening carefully for a noise signaling that he was home, you would lay there frozen to the spot, waiting, a lump in your chest, scared and sick in the pit of your stomach.  He would usually find some reason to be angry and it would start all over again.  You were exhausted before it had even really began and you knew when it was over you’d have nothing left.

Sometimes when the rage began it genuinely felt like an outer body experience, that you were just floating in time. Watching it and hearing it all but you weren’t really there; you were detached, out of the room for just a minute or two, disassociated maybe.  There were strategies even in these chaotic moments and I would try to intervene using my sister & I as pawns in the game, hoping that seeing us cry would make him stop, that it would convince him to leave our mum alone.  It didn’t, he was so deranged drunk or sober that he always reassured us it wasn’t a fight, everything was fine and they were just talking.  Eventually after what felt like forever it would stop and then came a new fear and anxiety, why was it quiet, where was he, was Mum okay? What would be waiting for us in the morning?

Holes in doors and walls, light fittings smashed, a silence that would slice through you like a knife, one that nearly made you wish the shouting would start again.  And then it was back to normal, regular business would resume, household duties, bills, dinner… I remember the feeling of total bewilderment as to how it could all just be forgotten and how Mum would clean his clothes and cook for him after everything he did and said to her the night before.  I was so baffled and confused, was this how other homes functioned, was it the normal state of play.  For whatever reason and I still have no idea why, I gradually became irritably aware of how abnormal all of it was.  It frustrated me and enraged me and I thought if we could all just stop pretending, maybe he would have no choice but to change, maybe if there were repercussions and consequences and we all didn’t just tip toe around him he would have to be accountable.  He would have to acknowledge what he was doing to us.  But no, in the codependent, dysfunctional mess he was wrapped up and kept totally oblivious to the carnage he was causing every day.  Anything for peace and a quiet life.

Group of human palms on all sides of a cut out house diagram with setting sun coming through window over water

"Peace at any price, is no peace at all" – Eve Curie

Slowly as I grew up I started to care less about being quiet and keeping him happy, it drove me crazy and frustrated me beyond explanation that someone could so destructively and carelessly dictate all aspects of our lives and make us feel so powerless.  So I started fighting back, saying what I wanted, telling him when he was out of line and when he was wrong.  This made for an even more chaotic house, but the balance of power did change slightly and even that little glimmer was enough to give hope that things could be different.  I couldn’t sit back and take it, none of us deserved it, there was a realisation that he would never change and so the only solution was to get him out of our lives. This became my mission and I felt like the protector, if no one else had the fight left to take him on, I did.  This was the battle of a lifetime but I didn’t care. I was determined to defend what was right and would not let him bully us, scare us and degrade us any more.

Looking back had I not adopted this strategy, I believe the spirit would have slowly been sucked out of me.  This approach wasn’t perfect and it filled me with anger.  The powerful sense of injustice does have negative implications on my life in some ways as an adult.  Still, I believe it was the only way to survive and I’m proud I stood up to someone and something that once had the ability to truly terrify me.  His power and selfishness counted on our fear, without it he had to be held accountable, take some semblance of responsibility.  This tact drove him insane and he did everything in his power to make me feel like dirt, he tried very hard to make me feel like I was nothing.  I knew that he was wrong, I felt sad, hurt, bitter and some days my heart broke but I knew I would one day prove him wrong. The words he used towards me were actually true of him.

As an adult I have battled two bouts of depression; I still have low days, my anxiety, self doubt and remnants of my childhood worries sometimes hit me like a ton of bricks and my mood hits the floor.  I keep getting up and despite the bad days know the truth of who I am and what’s inside of me.  It’s important to acknowledge the effect this type of childhood has on us as children but also as adults. It has definitely shaped me as an adult and in some ways I am grateful for my past.  I have a deep sense of right and wrong and strive to achieve social justice, fairness and equality in my professional and personal life.  Without the experiences I’ve had I don’t think I would have such a deep understanding or empathy for others and their circumstance.  Living with an alcoholic parent felt absolutely terrifying and exhausting; in adulthood it has left scars of self doubt, frustration, sadness, and insecurity but I also have a personality made up of passion, commitment, strength, love, empathy, fairness and determination.

To be honest the words that I have used don’t do the array and intensity of feelings justice.  I have thought about my life now and wondered could I cope with that life again in this moment.  I really don’t think I could.  I truly don’t think I would be able to bear another day or night feeling those feelings.  People experience much, much worse than this, but this is my reality and I am trying to honestly and accurately depict the feelings felt then and the impact on my emotional and mental well-being today. Sometimes I wonder how it didn’t drive us utterly insane; it was like a form of insidious torture.  The emotional equivalent of someone dragging their nails down a blackboard.  That is how it felt.


Guest Blogger- Maddie 


Former FDA Head…”Opioid Epidemic one of the great mistakes of modern medicine”

Amy No Comments

Doctor David Kessler, who ran the FDA from 1990 to 1997 has some strong views on the cause of the opioid epidemic and in this video he does not hold back. The disgraceful peddling of painkillers that have got us to this frightening place should be the subject of intensive investigation and prosecution of the pharma companies who took a tiny shred of scientific evidence and peddled these drugs as being non-addictive. The very idea that thousands of people are dying because of drug companies need for profit is mind boggling. Where are the drug compnaies now? Of course they are busy making medication for treat the epidemic and make even more money. Watch this video to see Dr. Kessler’s views.

See the video at


Who is to blame for America’s rising opioid addiction?

Amy 2 comments

medicationsOver the past number of years it has been highly publicized that America has an increasing problem with prescription medication.  This epidemic has gone on to fuel an increase in addiction to the highly dangerous and deadly heroin.  Combined we have millions of Americans addicted to opioids in the shape of prescription meds like Oxycontin and illegal narcotics like heroin.  The connection between the two cannot be ignored and it is very obvious that our culture of pill popping has paved the way to hard drug use. Studies have shown that two thirds of heroin addicts today started with legal drugs, usually prescribed by a physician for injury or illness.   The increase in addiction has resulted in four times the number of people dying from unintentional prescription drug overdoses since 1999 and four times the number of deaths by heroin overdoses since 2001.

So why are people turndrugs, syringe, spoon, lighter on the table and stoned male addicting to this illegal narcotic?  It comes down to money and the reality is that a hit of heroin can be purchased for as little as $3 but pills can cost up to and above $50.  Many people cannot afford to feed their prescription drug habit so they turn to the cheaper alternative.  Prescription medication is also much harder to obtain after several government measures to tackle the epidemic of abuse.  These well intentioned measures created a whole new problem, with thousands turning to heroin.  The statistics are truly frightening with 4.2 million Americans reporting to have used heroin at least once in their lives and an estimated 23% addicted to the drug.


In a recent post covering Vermont’s war on opiates, we saw that their Governor was outspoken in what he believed was the cause for this epidemic.  The cause he highlighted was twofold, a lack of regulation and responsibility from the FDA with respect to the potency and types of drugs being approved, and the fact the multi million dollar corporations have far too great a hold on medication and health.

The culture of medicating absolutely every ache and pain has led to a dependence and acceptance of over medicating, with once genuine patients going on to illegally abuse these drugs.  Figures from 2010 show that a staggering 12 million Americans use them for non-medical purposes and without a prescription.  The problem arises because the drugs approved for consumption are highly potent and addictive.  Those responsible for ensuring the safety and wellbeing of citizens have let us down.  The profit driven health care system creates a situation where citizens are taking legal drugs that are nearly on a par with a class A narcotic.  The focus on illegal drugs needs to change; it is legally prescribed medication as gateway drugs which are posing a far greater health problem.

The Food & Drug Administration has come under fire for its approval of such strong and dangerous medications and aside from lip service on the matter not much has changed.  They continue to approve insanely powerful drugs for conditions that do not need half the potency as affirmed by doctors and scientists.  Some clinicians even state that routinely prescribed drugs for minor conditions can be stronger than street grade heroin.   Other doctors have been highly influenced by the aggressive advertising and despite the risks continue to hand out pills to patients as though they were candy.  In some cases medications that were once only used for severe cases such as terminally ill patients are now being given to patients for back pain.

High on HeroinThose who are addicted to legal meds have a very expensive habit and not being able to afford the drugs any longer forces addicts to turn to street dealers for heroin.  Americans pay more for medication than any other country in the world, paying any where from two to six times the cost of other countries.  It is also no coincidence that medications approved need a huge amount of financial backing, the more money, the more trials, the more trials the better chance of positive evidence and this evidence results in approval.  Pharmaceutical companies with millions at their disposal have a stranglehold over the FDA and our health care system.

Considering the damage and devastation, pharmaceutical companies profiting off people’s addiction should be held accountable. One city took action by filing a lawsuit against five companies for their marketing of certain painkillers despite knowing such drugs were ineffective for the purposes advertised.  The city of Chicago also argued that opioid manufacturers “distorted scientific evidence for opioid use” pushing a pro-opioid message, co-opted pain advocacy and research groups, funded practice guidelines that recommend opioids for moderate to severe pain and influenced opioid related education programmes.  Despite a comprehensive evidence based suit, the case was dismissed as there was insufficient evidence to suggest that advertising had sufficiently mislead doctors and patients.  Essentially the issue is the profit driven nature of the health care system and until this changes and people’s well being is put first this cycle will be allowed to continue.

The likelihood of approved drugs being recalled is slim, so alternative measures to combat the abuse and addiction of opioids is crucial in preventing deaths by prescription medication and heroin.  There are measures being taken across 36 states to address the problem, through delivery of Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs.  These programs track prescription and dispensing practices for prescription drugs, from doctors to pharmacies to patients.

This culture of prescription drug abuse developed over many years and it is not something that will be easily tackled. In addition there is now the ever increasing figures of heroin addiction to deal with as a result.  We need a recognition of the problem and a sense of responsibility to address it from our government, the FDA and pharma companies; as well as a move away from a profit motivated health system.

There is plenty of blame to go round but there is no doubt that the lion’s share of the problem was caused by the vulgar profit driven Pharma industry that seems to be just fine with having a major part in an epidemic which has destroyed countless lives many ending in death.

national overdose deathsoverdose deaths














MacKenzie Phillips recovery from addiction and abuse

Amy one comments

MacKenzie Philipps_imageMacKenzie Phillips recovery from addiction and abuse is a true story of a  child star best known for her roles in American Graffiti and One Day at a Time. A young star and daughter of the famous John Phillips from The Mamas and the Papas was re-darted into the spotlight in 2009 with the release of her very personal memoirs entitled “High on Arrival”. The publication disclosed some shocking information, not alone related to Mackenzie’s battle with addiction but also her famous father. Mackenzie revealed that she had been involved in an incestuous relationship with her father for over ten years from the age of 13 to 23 years. Her story led to back lash from her father’s ex-wives and members of the public.

Phillips for many years was trying to overcome a tirade of addiction as well as the abusive relationship she had with her father.   Over the years she has had 11 lapsed recovery attempts and in a recent speaking engagement was honest in admitting that she is still on a journey of recovery. Mackenzie as with many others in recovery understands that there is no final destination; the process is long, unpredictable and continuous.

I’d been addicted to drugs before, and I’d overcome my addiction. That was fifteen years ago, so many long, mostly happy, entirely drug-free years. I never thought I would relapse. I’d been clean for so long that I thought I was fixed. But if the addiction was a cancer that had been carefully excised, well, I’d missed a spot. It had grown back, all the more fierce and malignant.”  – High on Arrival; 2009

This excerpt is in reference to Ms. Phillips arrest in 2008 by Los Angeles Airport Police for drug possession. She has had a turbulent life and her recovery process have been no different. Considering the life she led from a very young age, this is no surprise. Her memoirs refer to the first time she tried cocaine at the shocking young age of 11 years. This was the start of what was to be a highly dysfunctional life, filled with drug abuse, addiction and a struggle to overcome her many demons. The incident in LA in 2008 was a turning point in Mackenzie’s addiction; this particular incident marked the being of a genuine recovery.

At a recent talk at The Palm Springs Library she was honest and forth coming about her past and her current journey. The talk was part of the opening of the library’s new addiction and recovery resource center. Ms. Phillips acknowledged the reality facing all addicts which is an uncertain and reflective journey. At present she is quite aware that she cannot predict the future and can only work through each day as it comes. This is possibly one of the most important steps in true recovery, an understanding that you do not have the ability to foresee the future, but that you do have control over your reactions to the many things that you will come to face. She has also had the added strain and pressure of recovering and relapsing repeatedly in the public eye. The scrutiny and judgment no doubt added to the already challenging task of overcoming both her addiction and abusive past.

On a human level Mackenzie is adequately qualified to advise those working to overcome addiction. She has suffered for several years at the hands of addiction and among her horrifying experiences are two near fatal drug overdoses. Her past has meant that she has spent much time in and out of rehabilitation services. However she is acutely aware that many addicts are not so fortunate and that there is a lack of treatment and support out there. She is now putting her energy into her role as an addiction recovery advocate at Pasadena Recovery Center. Mackenzie wishes to share her recovery with others in the hope that her story and experiences can inspire and educate others. She is also working to raise awareness around addiction in tackling misconceptions and stigma, as well as striving to enhance resources and ensure treatment is available to sufferers.

People think it’s a moral issue. People don’t understand.” –  Huffington Post; 2014

From her dark and destructive life Mackenzie Phillips has taken something powerful and something positive. She has taken her struggles and her experience to offer hope to others. Her honesty, strength and openness have been well received by many and for those who do not appreciate it, let us hope they find their own path.


His Daughter a song about God surrender and hope

Amy 3 comments

This song written and performed  by Molly Kate Kestner really touched my heart.  How many times have we heard in AA that all that was left was God. When all else had failed we finally turned our will and our lives over to God often not even believing in the God we surrendered to.  But God is loving and wont ever turn us away.  Many of us got into the rooms of AA with nothing else to hang on to other than the slight hope that there might be something better and found peace, joy and recovery through the spiritual process of the 12 steps.


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