Sunday, April 6, 2008

A Mom's Thoughts on Heroin Addiction

The day I found out my daughter was a heroin addict was the day I thought I was going to lose my mind. I'm pretty stable, I can usually make decisions pretty quickly without much thought or stress. That day, my mind was racing around out of control. I would cry and then I would just stop...and focus on the situation...then I would get anxious....they I would cry...this went on for hours. I had to talk myself out of this emotional roller coaster ride...telling myself that everything would be okay and truly believe myself...It was horrible. I didn't really know how to help her but I knew I couldn't help her until I could straighten myself out. Finally, I started making calls to addiction clinics and mental clinics. She had been seeing a psychiatrist for a couple of months to deal with her mood swings. I had no idea she was an addict I thought she just had problems dealing with life in general. Her psychiatrist was named as someone who could help her. So I immediately called and they immediately told me to bring her in. He prescribed suboxone. She seemed to do very well and I could see a change in her almost immediately. I watched her go through the daily ups and downs...the temptation to go out and use again. The everyday drama was just about to cause me to have a nervous breakdown. If she went out I would stay up. If she was home I would stay up. I was not sleeping well at all. Heroin was taking its tole on me too...I couldn't stop thinking about it. I was obsessed with its hold on my daughter. I found it very helpful to talk with her counselor but I found it the most helpful to read others posts about addiction and the problems and solutions they had found. She's been heroin-free for 4 months now. I'm sleeping now. I feel great. There are several things I learned as a parent of a heroin addict. If they want to use they will use. Just keep talking to them. Tell them the people they thought were there friends were not friends. Tell them to stay away from them because they only want you to get high with them. They want you to fall back into the clutches of heroin so you can be just like them...addicts. The more people that tell them this over and over again the more it starts to sink in and they will begin to believe what you're telling them. My daughter has told me that she knew that using was not good but she didn't care. The seboxone will take them to a place where they begin to care. When they care they have strength. So if you're reading this tell them you love them and care about them and get them into a program that prescribes suboxone and counseling. Learn everything you can about heroin. Learn everything you can about suboxone. Then start asking anyone that knows them and truly cares about them to tell them the same things you're telling them. The more people that tell them, that they care, to stay away from the friends that use, and how proud they are of them, the better. In my daughter's case it took just about 4 months for this to actually sink in. It is a very difficult road. I don't mean to sound like its a cake walk believe me its not. Just talk to them. Expect that they will become very irritated with you. Just walk away. Just keep talking to them. If you tell them, the counselors tell them and their friends tell them at some point they will believe. And one more thing- It's not your fault! You can tell your teens everyday about the dangers of drugs...many times they don't listen because they don't believe it can happen to them.


working mom NYC said...

Thanks so much for your post. I am in the midst of trying to get my son into a second residential treatment program. I feel somewhat guilty about it because he hasn't relapsed back to the totally nonfunctional point where he bottomed out earlier. However, his recent slips are proof that he's using again. I too find that reading posts by other parents is a good resource and support.

Stellathomas said...

The study was conducted on heroin-addicted rats. But the researchers now think that, within a few years, better treatments will become available to human heroin users who cannot quit due to insidious cycles of relapse.

Alcohol Addiction Treatment

MomTryingToSurviveAddiction said...

Wow, great idea. It helps to know there are other moms out there. Just wanted to get you a quick note, and will certainly log on later when energy permits. We found the Naltrexone Implant. It has worked so far. We found it was better than suboxen and methadone. Her lawyer suggested it, and her Prob Ofcr approved. We found this Dr. in Richmond, VA. The Coleman Institute. It's a small compound inserted just under the skin, dissolves over 3 months. It blocks opiates, so if they use, they don't get high. My daughter would be dead without it. I can't tell you the relief you get as a parent knowing the implant is nestled in there. The other parts of addiction, are still there. But the terror of her Overdosing on heroin, is greatly diminished. It's used in conjunction with therapy. When I researched it a yr ago, I only found 4 Dr.'s in the United States working with the implant. I haven't looked lately, my hope is that it is more widely available as time has passed. Now that I know what a difference it makes, if it had not been in our state, I would have crawled to one of these Dr.'s on my knees, with her on my back. The Naltrexone Implant, The Coleman Institute, Richmond, VA.

Anonymous said...

My daughter just retunred home from the Coleman Institute after the 3 day Accelerated Detox and Naltrexone Implant. I cannot say enough good about Dr. Coleman and his staff, and the detox program he offers is a Godsend.

Now the downside..with the Naltrexone Implant, there is a HUGE danger of overdose if they use again. It was explained to us taht it is the same as a 15 year old kid who has never touched if the addict tries to use their "usual" dose, they can easily od.

It has been heartbreaking to watch my two grandchildren try to wake their mom when she is watch the 5 year old get excited when he learned mommy was going away for a few days to get well..and it's difficult for me to care fot a 2 yr old and 5 year old with my own health problems, but what other choice is there? They are like my own babies now.

My daughter has been sober and clean for 5 days today. Tonight I am not so sure..she is passed out on the couch, won't wake up, and I found a needle in her dresser..I have no idea if it is from before the detox or from today, the first day she has been alone..I had to return to work today. She is still on a low dose of Valium for anxiety, don't know if that is the reason for her deep sleep or if it's heroin...I hate the wondering. Yesterday, she said she felt better than she has in two years..who knows tonight?

I am terrified, I feel guilty for even thinking she may be using again, I am angry that she is in the condition she is right now, whether it is heroin or just the Valium, she is still unable to care for her two children and they need her so very much.

I poured the valium down the toilet..she will have no more of that tomorrow. I guess it's a waiting game to see what happens.

We have tried non stop since we returned home from VA on Saturday to find a rehab. They all have months long waiting lists. She needs inpatient aftercare..but there is just nothing out there for her.

She tried Suboxone..didn't work for her, that is when she ended up switching from pills to heroin because it was "cheaper". This is her 3rd attempt to get clean, I really thought this would work for her, now I am not so could end up killing her. Maybe she just isn't ready to be sober.

If I could have her committed I least she would be safe. Laying on my couch is not safe. Being in the street is not safe.

All that being said, for an addict who is ready to be clean and sober, there is no better way to do it than the Coleman Institute. Very little withdrawal, only sedated, not totally unconscious, safer than rapid detox and the people there are the best and truly care for their patients.

Praying tonight I am over-reacting, but I know I am not. This is the end for main concern now is for these two children. I will ask my daughter to take a drug test tomorrow..if she refuses, she won't be staying in my home any longer until I am sure she is clean and sober.

Blessings to all, it's a difficult burden we bare, loving these addict children.

Anonymous said...

Our duaghter is on Heroin. We are trying to get her to the Coleman institute next Monday. I would like to hear more about your post treatment experience.

My Daughter's Addiction said...

Sounds like the Naltrexone implant would be an option for my daughter if the suboxone hadn't worked for her. I guess my concern with the implant would be: if you use heroin with the implant you can overdose and die....I think that should be reiterated at much as possible to people using the implant. IMPLANT+HEROIN USE=OVERDOSE = possible DEATH.

Anonymous said...

We are in northern Va. Mom got daughter from Roanoke last night and she stayed with us overnight. It was a rough night as she started withdrawal and one of us had to watch her all night. We called the on-call Dr at the Coleman institute and got a Valium perscription that took half the night to fill. I dont think it did any good. By morning she was shaking with jerky kicking movements. I had to work today, I have one day this week I can take off & we are not sure which day will be best(or worst really). So Mother took daughter to Richmond, for first day of detox series. Plan is to commute back and forth each day to avoid hotel expense.

My Daughter's Addiction said...

Can you give me a little more detail. You took your daughter to the Coleman Institue...they gave your daughter an implant and that's it? She has to go through those horrible withdrawals with a prescription for valium?

Anonymous said...

Um no. The detox is a 4 day process. Actually it is advertised as 3 days but they decided it would be better at 4 days in this case. 'DETOX' day is tomorrow, thursday. After they got back Monday night daughter was pretty much a zombie. The prescribe a drug mix of ULTRAN, ZYPREXA, VALIUM and CLONIDINE with fairly specific instructions including a reqt to take blood pressure. SHe spent a restless night but did sleep more or less thru the night. Wife took her back Tuesday (yesterday) for a 2hr appt at which time a very small amount of Naltrexone was administered orally. Yesterday when I go home from work they were home from Richmond and she had showered and was actaully ready to eat some food and could converse. Todays (Wed) appt is at 2 PM and both will stay overnight in Richmond since the day long detox starts early and the weather has made drving problematic. The other choice would be we both go down but then I miss a day of work.

Anonymous said...

To the first post. You think because she has been clean for 4 months you are over the hurdle. Wow! what a joke you are. Wait until it has been two or three years and then think that maybe you are in the clear. It just happens over and over again. Months in jail, 9 months clean and then it starts again. If I could commit murder on a certain boy it might be over.

My Daughter's Addiction said...

Hi Anon
That post was written April 6, 2008. It's now February 22, 2009. It's been about 14 months now and she's still doing good. She used twice in the first 4 months. But she got up brushed herself off and started again and hasn't fallen back into the heroin world.

I truly understand your frustration...another one of my family members has actually been a heroin addict for about 5 years now [she's only 22]. It takes a toil on everyone around her. I'm guessing it's your son who is the addict...I'm sorry that it's not going so well.. those insidious cycles of relapse....If you could force him to take suboxone everyday for 4 months straight...he might wake up. Good luck. Take care.

Anonymous said...

For those who are interested, I will give details of the experiences my daughter had at Coleman Institute.
We arrived on Wed. morning, she was evaluated, given a small dose of Naltrexone (Ultram) at the office and RX for Valium, Tramadol (small dose of narcotic to ease the withdrawal symptoms for the first night), and Clonopine, for blood pressure and anxiety. We returned to the hotel room for the afternoon. She slept most of that evening and all night.
As her support person, I was responsible for checking her blood pressure and administering her meds according to a schedule they provided. She was allowed extra Valium if needed.
Thursday, she returned to the clinic in the afternoon. After a blood pressure check and evaluation of medication tolerance, she was given injections of Naltrexone, Phenobarbetal and Thorazine, both very strong sedatives. She was also still on schedule with Valium and Clyonpine as per the night before, but her blood pressure was VERY low so we did not administer the clonidyne. She had some anxiety right after midnight, and was very restless, sleep walking, lucid dreaming etc. It was a difficult night for me as her support person, she remembered little of it Friday morning.
We returned to the clinic on Friday morning for the final stages of the detox and to have to implant inserted.
Over about 5-6 hrs, she was given several injections of Natrexone and sedatives to keep her comfortable. Normally, the patient gets an IV for this, but she had no usable veins, so she had to endure the injections. She was comfortable, was able to watch tv, and go to the bathroom on her own. The staff was very attentive to her needs and made sure she was comfortable at all times. She did not experience anything above very very mild withdrawal symptoms.
After all the opiates are out of the patient's system due to the Naltrexone injections, (you have to be free of opiates so that you do not have w/d symptoms with the implant) the implant was put in and we were on our way back to the hotel by 5pm. She continued to have some lucid dreaming that evening, but the next day she seemed refreshed and felt fine. She continues to have some anxiety and insomnia and has been continuing with a small dose of valium at night so she can sleep.

It has now been almost two months and she will be switching to Natrexone pills as the implant disolves and is no longer effective, due to cost restraints and the distance that she would have to travel back to Coleman in VA to have another implant.

She cautions everyone who is considering this method: Although the detox and implant do help with the physical cravings for the drugs, it does nothing to help with the emotional side of things; It is very important to have a good aftercare plan, meetings, counseling, inpatient or outpatient rehab..the hardest part for her has been the lack of a good aftercare plan. She was unable to find a rehab that could take her (all had waiting lists months long), and cannot afford couseling or outpatient care due to lack of insurance. She has had to rely on AA/NA meetings, which she admits are not the best choice for her without some other type of support program as well.

And it is so important to say once again that using while you have an active implant can be very dangerous and can cause overdose. For this reason the patient has to want to be clean and make an effort to stay that way...if the person being treated isn't ready to stay sober, this won't work any better than any other method.

Good Luck to all. said...

I am a mother of twin girls going through the same things as you. It first started with one daughter and now both girls are injecting heroin. They both need help! I live in the Richmond VA area and am looking for inpatient treatment for both girls. I am going to have to find somewhere that will work with me on payments. Both girls have drained me financially and I am an emotional wreck. My biggest fear is that I am going to lose both my girls to this dreaded addiction. I am a single parent and these two girls are my life! Please, if anyone knows of somewhere I can get help for my girls, please let me know. I will be eternally grateful!

Anonymous said...

We lost a daughter in June from an overdose with this implant. I am looking for other parents, who have lost a child because of this blocker that inhibits the brains ability to know that the patient is over medicated and is need of emergency care..As for the success of the implant, I think my opening sentence say's it all !! Please reply..I am assuming this will be blocked by the, however, the name of the Physician and Facility are not mentioned..if you do not post, I will put an add on facebook

Anonymous said...

They make it clear that overdose is not only a possibility, but likely if the addict uses heroin with the implant. I'm so sorry for the loss of your daughter but it was the drugs and her choices, not the physician, clinic or implant that caused her death.

Need answers said...

I lost my daughter June 2012; she had the implant for only 5 weeks at the time of death.