TAMPA, Fla. (Ivanhoe Newswire) — It’s being called a national opioid epidemic. Recovery specialists continue to see rises in heroin use. But once someone gets hooked, it can be nearly impossible to kick the habit on their own.
John Cunningham may be pumping iron now, but it was heroin pumping through his veins not too long ago.
He even showed us this vein he blew out when shooting up.
Cunningham told Ivanhoe, “I could not stop. The years would pass and I would try. Things just got really bad.”
A truck accident led to pain pills, then to heroin and then to arrests and homelessness.
“Overdosed a couple times and almost died,” Cunningham detailed.
He’s not alone. Heroin causes one in every four overdoses.
In the past decade, its grip has claimed double the number of young adults. Nearly half of all heroin addicts were first hooked on prescription opioid pain pills.
John Templeton, President and Founder of Footprints Beachside Recovery Center, in Tampa, Florida, called it a “Healthcare crisis in our country.”
Templeton said the surge in heroin addicts has followed a crackdown on prescription pill mills. Heroin is cheaper, easier to get, but so much more dangerous.
Cunningham described it as, “Your skin feels like it’s crawling out. It’s the worst thing imaginable that I’ve ever been through.”
Strung out for ten years, Cunningham made it to Footprints Beachside Recovery Center where 30 days cost $14,000 and typically patients need to stay longer.
“The life expectancy of a using heroin addict is not very long,” detailed Templeton.
Cunningham’s treatment consisted of at least a week of detox, more than 27 hours a week of therapy, physical fitness and ongoing 12 step support groups.
Templeton’s advised, “They say when you go to treatment if you want to get sober you only have to change one thing – everything.”
Cunningham changed everything, but many don’t.
“The biggest problem I see is with families is that they will enable the person and that doesn’t help them,” said Cunningham.
Cunningham has been drug free for a year. He found a way to work himself out of a terrible place.
The CDC said improvements need to be made when it comes to prescribing prescription painkillers. Research shows addiction to the painkillers means there’s a 40 percent chance of becoming addicted to heroin. By the way, John Templeton said “Many insurance providers will cover the cost of substance abuse rehabilitation treatment.”
Contributors to this news report include: Emily Maza Gleason, Producer; Roque Correa, Editor; Travis Bell, Videographer.
STOP ADDICTION: CHANGE EVERYTHING!
BACKGROUND: Heroin is a highly addictive drug derived from morphine that quickly induces feelings of relaxation and euphoria, and blocks the brain’s ability to feel pain. At first, a heroin addict may be able to conceal signs of their drug use, but over time it will be difficult to hide from family, friends, and co-workers. Visible signs include shortness of breath, constricted pupils, disorientation, cycles of hyper alertness followed by suddenly nodding off, and a droopy appearance, as if extremities are heavy. More definitive warning signs of heroin abuse include possession of paraphernalia used to consume heroin such as needles or syringes not used for other medical purposes, burned silver spoons, and aluminum foil or gum wrappers with burn marks. There are many behavioral signs such as lying or deceptive behavior, withdrawal from friends and family, repeatedly stealing or borrowing money, and a severe decline in work or school performance.
TREATMENT: Behavioral issues are not the worst part of heroin addiction. Physical symptoms include weight loss, runny nose, infections at injection site, heart problems, blood clots, seizures, infectious diseases, liver disease, clouded mental function, chronic pneumonia, and uncontrollable feelings of itching that result in compulsive scratching or picking at skin. Heroin usually appears as a white or brown powder. Larger blocks of heroin may also appear as a black sticky substance called black tar heroin. Withdrawal symptoms can be severe and sometimes fatal and should always have medical supervision. Medications such as Methadone, Buprenorphine, and Naltrexone, can help ease craving and other physical symptoms during detox. After detox, behavioral therapies help modify the patient’s expectations and behaviors related to drug use and to increase skills in coping with various life stressors. At Footprints Beachside Recovery Center, 30 days costs $14,000, but patients usually need to stay much longer. John Templeton, president and founder of Footprints, says that additional months are less expensive, and they are flexible so clients can continue treatment long term.
HEROIN EPIDEMIC: Heroin use has increased across the US among men and women, in most age groups, and all income levels. Users are also abusing multiple other substances, especially cocaine and prescription opioid painkillers. Heroin use has more than doubled among young adults ages 18–25 in the past decade and 45% of people who used heroin were also addicted to prescription opioid painkillers. States play a central role for prevention and recovery by increasing access to substance abuse treatment services, expanding access to and training for administering naloxone to reduce opioid overdose deaths, and addressing the strongest risk factor for heroin addiction: addiction to prescription opioid painkillers.
* For More Information, Contact:
John R Templeton Jr.
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