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Dec
29

Opioid users…..The life of an addict

WHATS IN THIS BLOG:
• An overdose in Memphis, captured on video.
• Terrible opioid statistics in USA.
• One couple’s story: addicted for almost 50 years.
• Rehab – is it possible?

This blog falls in the category of Health and Hiking . My other two blog categories are Science and Energy, and Inspiration and Hope.

Ron and Carla Hiers overdose in Memphis. Picture by Jeffrey Stockbridge for Time.

I READ AN ARTICLE IN TIME MAGAZINE AND STARTED CRYING. The article was called The Life of an Addict, by Alice Park. It’s about a couple, Ron and Carla Hiers, who overdosed in Memphis, and they were caught on video. Ron was bent double over a bus-stop seat, while Carla was on her knees on the sidewalk. Both of them bombed out. It’s a shocking video.

I wrote a previous blog on opioid addictions, including the story of a young man in Pennsylvania who was a heroin addict. CLICK HERE to read about this. The story is one of pain and death, but also possible help for addicts, and hope.

I have excerpted and summarized from the Time article (20 November 2017), as follows: (To read the full Time article CLICK HERE.)
• Every day nearly 100 people die from overdoses of opioids. In 2015 more people died than in car accidents and gun violence. It’s equivalent to a new 9/11 attack every three weeks. A baby is born in opioid withdrawal every 25 minutes.
• President Trump declared a national public health emergency in October 2017, but no new funding to address the crisis.
• By restricting access to legal opioids via doctors and dentists, an explosion of illegal substitutes has occurred. Heroin, fentanyl, etc are cheaper and often more harmful because they’re synthetic formulations with no FDA controls. From 2002 to 2015 death by heroin overdose has increased by sixfold.

Ron Hiers. Picture by Jeffrey Stockbridge for Time.

• Ron Hiers, 61, was born with a cleft palate which, although operated on, got him bullied and ridiculed. He was expelled from high school. He fell during a construction job and broke his heel. Even after it healed, he would go to a doctor and say it was hurting, and get more oxycodone, an opioid. He later turned to heroin which had the same narcotic effect, but was less expensive, and easier to obtain.
• Carla, 61, began using drugs as a teenager, mostly to fit in, and loved the way opioids made her feel. “It’s a euphoric high, everything is okay with the world. But as the years wore on, the using got more intense, and if I didn’t use, I would get sick.”
• Opioids magnify the body’s natural pain-killing response. For people with chronic pain, that’s essential for getting them through the day. But its also connected to the pleasure areas of the brain. Once the brain and body get a taste of the pleasure over-ride, they want more.

Carla Hiers. Picture by Paul Moakley, for Time.

OPIOIDS CAN CHANGE THE BRAIN. They become bullies, demanding all the attention. The brain areas of emotion take precedence over rational thinking (and things like risk, benefit, consequences.) The feel-good sensations triggered by opioids can overpower feelings for food, love, and even sex.
• Ron and Carla would forge prescriptions. Ron made out he was ill, and got a legit scrip for an antibiotic. Meanwhile Carla stole prescription pads from doctor’s offices, so they could forge a new prescription using the doctor’s DEA number on the legit scrip.
• When his second child was born, Ron left his wife in labor to visit a strip club across the street. He wasn’t even aware he had a third child until a teenage boy called him and told him he was his son, and could they meet.
PARIS HARDEE, 35, IS RON’S SECOND CHILD BY HIS FIRST WIFE. She was raised by Ron’s parents. She cut her father off for 13 years. Then she saw the overdose video and called a rehab center, crying. The director, a former addict himself, offered a 30-day treatment for Ron at no cost (typical fee is $25,000). Carla entered rehab under a similar deal, but in a different location.
• Therapy included learning skills to avoid the urge to act out of their emotions. And to turn those emotions into positive reactions rather than negative ones.
• Gradually Ron began to see his life for what it was – a squandered opportunity, plus people he had hurt or abandoned.

Paris Hardee, Ron’s daughter. Picture by Jeffrey Stockbridge for Time.

• After a month in rehab his first phone call came from Paris, who begged him to stay longer – one month is enough to wash the drugs out of an addict’s system, but often not enough to arm them with the deeper skills to deal with the original forces. Relapse rates are high. After more than a month in rehab, Ron moved to a halfway house. He cherishes his blue Alcoholics Anonymous book.
HARDEE HAS GRADUALLY LET HER FATHER BACK INTO HER LIFE, and his grandchildren’s lives. One night Ron texted Hardee: “I just now wept with sorrow having realized how much I would’ve enjoyed loving my children their entire life.” Next morning Hardee replied, “Don’t cry, Dad. I was really awkward until 27. You didn’t miss much. I love you so much.” She is cautious though since Ron was high for nearly 50 years, and has been sober for just one.
• Hardee is amazed by Ron’s transformation. “I have my father back. It’s true that my childhood was rough, but now I’m blessed with a father who is growing and changing every day. Someone who didn’t know how to show love to himself or others is now, through God’s grace, experiencing and giving love for the first time. That’s a miracle!!”
• Ron is hoping to become a rehab counselor. “Life shouldn’t be taken lightly. It’s a gracious gift meant to enjoy and not be squandered. I’ve come to the realization that I’ve wasted mine – you only get one and I wasted it. The best thing I now have is peace.”

Ronald Hiers speaks to a group in recovery at Turning Point in Southaven in May. Paul Moakley for TIME.

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To watch the video, CLICK HERE.

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TAKEAWAY (from the end of the Time article):

If you or a loved one are seeking help for drug addiction, please contact samhsa.gov for more information
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This project was produced in collaboration with Mic
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The Gray Nomad ….. help someone to hope.
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Blessed is the man whose strength is in You; in whose heart are the highways to Zion. Passing through the valley of weeping they make it a place of springs; the early rain also fills the pools with blessings. They go from strength to strength. [Book of Psalms, chapter 84].

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2 Responses to Opioid users…..The life of an addict

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  2. I have a friend who says it is tough even after his recovery, if you ever really recover completely. It seems that few families are spared the tragedy of alcohol or drug abuse. Thanks Ian for this informative blog post. Let it be a warning, no one is exempt from pain, and no one is exempt from addiction if they are prescribed and take opioids.

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