There is a heroin epidemic underway in America. In the Northeast, in the Midwest, and on the Pacific Coast, heroin addicts are struggling with addiction and attempting to find a sober life.
In the New England area, for example, needles are becoming just as popular as the lighthouses across the Northeast coast. In a small town in Vermont, addicts meet in a local Walmart parking lot to buy a “ticket,” the slang term used for a baggie of heroin worth $20. Sadly, in Vermont, heroin overdoses have doubled in the year 2013. In the same way, newspapers of New York’s Staten Island are filling with obituaries of early deaths – those dying of heroin overdoses and who lost their lives to the drug because of its highly addictive quality.
According to the New York Times, in 2012 alone, 36 people died from heroin overdoses on Staten Island, which is higher than New York’s other four boroughs and the highest number in a decade. The statistics continue to be staggering: from January through April 13, 2014, approximately 1,700 glassine bags of heroin were seized which is 500 more than what was collected in these same four months in 2013. Overall, the amount of heroin seized has jumped to over 300% between 2011 and 2013.
Heroin is a highly addictive drug that creates a fast spiral downward. Mental, emotional, psychological and even physical abilities are impaired. It is a narcotic that can leave a user with red or raw nostrils and needle marks or scars on their arms. Obviously, the drug can lead to overdosing and the loss of life.
Yet, for those who are lucky enough to enter treatment, the rest of their lives may be theirs to keep. Perhaps they will find their way to sober living long term. Perhaps they will turn their lives around. The only way to do this is to make the decision to acquire sober help and get clean. The only way to save their life is to commit to their sobriety.
This begins with medical and psychological treatment of the addiction, including working with a physical doctor to address the physiological effects of withdrawal, a psychologist to address the underlying emotional needs, and lastly with a drug counselor to learn the fundamentals of addiction and how to stay sober. An important part to rehabilitative treatment is addressing an addict’s ambivalence to change. An essential part of treatment is eliciting one’s intrinsic desire to change. Anyone using heroin is going to have strong ambivalence about ending an addiction, especially if they enjoyed their drug use. If using heroin brought relief from emotional pain, a dramatic increase in energy, and a euphoric feeling for life, reasons to continue to use might still be there, despite the growing severity in consequences.
Also, if underlying emotional issues, medical concerns, or any mental illnesses still exist, then the desire to use drugs will almost undoubtedly continue. An addict might say that he or she wants to change, but depression, anxiety, and other fundamental reasons might promote continued use. Thus, there often lies an enormous amount of ambivalence.
The examination and resolution of this ambivalence needs to be the focus of treatment. It’s important to know that ambivalence doesn’t end when treatment ends. In fact, it might increase. Once an individual leaves 24-hour care and they feel the freedom of their discharge, a part of them might yearn for using again. A part of them may want to return to old friends, old ways, and the euphoria of a heroin high.
For this reason, a halfway house is a pivotal place for recovery addicts to get the sober help they need and to continue to face their ambivalence head on. A half way house is a place to for a recovering addict to start reintegrating into society with sobriety in their hearts. In fact, a halfway house is where anyone wishing to find freedom from the heroin epidemic can safely return to his or her life. It’s where a recovering addict can ease their way back home by integrating society with sobriety.
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