Addiction

AddictionBlessings I have many and I’m grateful for all of them.  I had the privilege, unlike 1 in 4 children, to not be born into poverty.  I was born white, middle-class, with access to a decent public school system, and was served 3 daily meals based on the old-time food pyramid.  I had loving parents, good friends and frilly dresses and patent leather shoes.  I’ve had the requisite amount of challenges and failures and gains and losses.  I have health insurance.  I’m fortunate.

But, what am I really thankful for?  I’m without the addiction gene. I’m pretty sure I’m right.  I have no lasting affinity for cigarettes or alcohol.  Although I do like a big bag of Cheetos on road trips, although I don’t consider this an addiction.  A finely crafted cocktail or two is just fine.

 There is no single gene for “addiction” but current research shows that 50% of “addiction tendencies” are attributable to genes.  The other half is due toenvironment, personal experiences or low “coping skills”.  Children of addicts are 8 times more likely to develop an addiction.

Everyone has a story of pain or loss from addiction, whether alcohol or drugs, either personally, a family member, friend or co-worker.  Some of those closest to us have sadly lied and stolen from us. This week reminds us that addiction crosses cultural, socioeconomic and gender barriers with the death of Philip Seymour Hoffman.  Heroin use is on the rise.

Turns out there is an opioid addiction epidemic.  This is not your flop house, dirty needle drug addled addict.  These drugs are doled out by well-meaning doctors.  Opioids, which include Vicodin, OxyContin and Demerol and benzodiazepine like Xanax, Valium and Ativan are pharmaceutical painkillers and tranquilizers and are responsible for 60% of drug poisoning deaths.  These drugs are routinely prescribed for pain.  Why?  They’re effective, but highly addictive.

Unfortunately, doctors don’t have proper training to understand opioid addiction and prescribe too much. Doctors also don’t have or take the time to find out a person’s susceptibility to narcotics.  About 70 percent of all the overdose deaths occur within 48 hours after the first prescription or after the first refill,” says Dr. Thomas McLellan, who served as the Deputy Director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy.  It’s not uncommon that you’re prescribed an entire bottle of painkillers for a routine surgery or procedure or even dental work. How often have you kept the bottle, just in case you need some later?

Here’s a small conundrum.  A drop in opioid use spurs a rise in heroin use.  According to The Health and Science section of the Washington Post, “Heroin use is up. . .a 15 percent drop in pharmaceutical opioid overdoseswas accompanied by a 41 percent increase in heroin overdoses”.

Regardless of the source, addiction is nasty, and I don’t think it’s possible for a “normal” person (normies) to understand the pull of drugs.  The comedian, Russell Brand, wrote a very fine and frank article about his association with heroin.  Here’s a bit:

“I look to drugs and booze to fill up a hole in me; unchecked, the call of the wild is too strong. I still survey streets for signs of the subterranean escapes that used to provide my sanctuary. I still eye the shuffling subclass of junkies and dealers, invisibly gliding between doorways through the gutters. I see that dereliction can survive in opulence; the abundantly wealthy with destitution in their stare.”

Addiction is a complex and complicated disease and this article onlysophomorically addresses the topic.  But I’m eternally grateful times 10 or 20 or 1000 for living a life without the 100 pound monkey on my back called addiction.   

References (in no particular order)

http://www.addictionsandrecovery.org/is-addiction-a-disease.htm

http://www.drugfree.org/join-together/addiction/no-easy-answer-to-opioid-addiction-epidemic-experts

http://www.theguardian.com/culture/2013/mar/09/russell-brand-life-without-drugs

http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/philip-seymour-hoffman-heroin-death-points-to-broader-opioid-drug-epidemic/2014/02/07/42dbbc5a-8e61-11e3-b46a-5a3d0d2130da_story.html