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WHATS IN THIS BLOG:
A heroin addict since high school
• Death by overdose
• Are opioid pain-killers the gateway drug?
• Learning to be open about personal addiction

The following story and images are excerpted from National Public Radio. This true story is one of anger, tears, and depression…….but also of hope.

Nikko Adam, 22, gets a hug from his mother, Patti Trabosh, after his family picked him up from his sober living facility for a weekend outing. Source: Melissa Block/NPR

Nikko Adam, 22, gets a hug from his mother, Patti Trabosh, after his family picked him up from his sober living facility for a weekend outing.
Source: Melissa Block/NPR

Patti Trabosh went on to explain why she was angry. First, it was the struggle to find a bed in a drug treatment program for her 22-year-old son Nikko Adam. He had become addicted to prescription painkillers and then heroin when he was still in high school. He’d been in rehab twice before, and relapsed both times.

Once she found an available treatment slot, it was the seemingly endless and maddening battles with her insurance company, trying to get them to cover Nikko’s treatment. She told me, “The bottom line is, it’s easier for addicts to go get another bag of heroin than it is to get help.”

She led me to the Kutztown, Pennsylvania, area to meet Brandy Trabosh, Nikko’s 30-year-old sister; Mikey Roth, his 34-year-old brother; and Henry Adam, his father. We also met Nikko near the sober living facility where he’s been staying.

Here are highlights of our conversation:
ON HOW QUICKLY HEROIN HAS TAKEN OVER THIS RURAL CORNER OF SOUTHEASTERN PENNSYLVANIA.
BRANDY: When I went to high school there, you never heard about anything like that. None of the heroin, none of the pills, nothing. And it was like a huge shock, once I heard, like WHAT?! Where does that even come from? Where do you get that? Who would want to do that?

Kutztown, Pa., is a small town that has been hit hard by opioid addiction. Source: Melissa Block/NPR

Kutztown, Pa., is a small town that has been hit hard by opioid addiction. Source: Melissa Block/NPR

ON LOSING TRUST IN NIKKO AS HE CONTINUED USING.
BRANDY: For a while, when I had holidays or parties or whatever here, I had to lock everything up. I told Nikko, on Thanksgiving, I said, “Don’t even come.” Because I was just at the point where, I have all these people here, I don’t have time to watch and make sure that he’s not stealing something, or that he’s not high around my kids, or he brought heroin into my house when my kids are here. So I just said don’t come.

ON THE FAMILY’S FEARS THAT NIKKO WOULD OVERDOSE AND DIE.
MIKEY: We lost him to heroin. It was only a point in time when he was going to overdose, and we knew it.
BRANDY: We hear about the overdoses and we’re like, “Oh! Nikko, please stop, everybody’s dying!” And Nikko’s lost some friends, too, to overdose. So I guess everybody feels like it’s not going to happen to them. And maybe that’s the reason for the hush-hush. If you don’t talk about it, then it’s not real.

PATTI, TALKING TO HENRY: And I said that to you. I said, “We’re going to bury this kid.” Didn’t I say that to you? Yep. I was waiting for him to call me and tell me that Nikko was gone. He should be dead! He should be dead, with all the heroin he used plus the two vehicles he totaled!

Brandy Trabosh's experience with her brother Nikko's addiction has led her to have early conversations with her 11-year-old son about the risks of illicit drugs. Source:Melissa Block/NPR

Brandy Trabosh’s experience with her brother Nikko’s addiction has led her to have early conversations with her 11-year-old son about the risks of illicit drugs.
Source:Melissa Block/NPR

ON FEELING RESPONSIBLE FOR NIKKO’S ADDICTION AND LEARNING TO BE OPEN ABOUT IT.
HENRY: It’s a daily struggle for me. I’ll never come to terms with the fact that in some way, shape or form, I’m responsible.
PATTI: For a while, people would say, when it first started, they’d say, “How’s Nikko?” And I’d say, “Oh, he’s great.” But then it just came to a point where they’d say, “How’s Nikko?” And I’d say, “Oh, he’s a heroin addict.” And they would be — “A what?” “Yeah. He’s a heroin addict.” And that’s just how it is. I’m not going to hide anything anymore.

ON THE FAMILY’S HOPES THAT THIS TIME REHAB WILL WORK FOR NIKKO.
NIKKO: I’m hopeful for the future for the first time. I can actually look into the future now. I have faith now.
PATTI: He’s not gonna relapse, I’m tellin’ you right now. He’s too serious about his recovery. It’s not gonna happen.
MIKEY: I’m really optimistic about this time, but the whole thing with this is, if he wanted to go out and score heroin, he could do it pretty much anywhere that he goes.

Henry Adam holds a photograph of his son Nikko when he was younger. Henry discovered that Nikko was using heroin when he was in high school. He regularly found empty heroin packets in Nikko's room and in the trash. He would save them to confront his son. Source: Melissa Block/NPR; Courtesy of Henry Adam

Henry Adam holds a photograph of his son Nikko when he was younger. Henry discovered that Nikko was using heroin when he was in high school. He regularly found empty heroin packets in Nikko’s room and in the trash. He would save them to confront his son.
Source: Melissa Block/NPR; Courtesy of Henry Adam

COMMENTS ON ABOVE STORY BY NPR READERS: 
• According to the American Society for Addiction Medicine “94% of respondents in a 2014 survey of people in treatment for opioid addiction said they chose to use heroin because prescription opioids were “far more expensive and harder to obtain.”” Heroin isn’t new, what’s new is that it’s now cheap and easy to get. In some places you can get a bag for less than you’d pay for a pack of cigarettes.

• Alcohol has roughly an 8% addiction rate. Heroin is around 23%.
• However, addiction can also be defined as a psychological phenomena. So if it’s a problem it’s a problem, and the root cause doesn’t make it less problematic. From what I have read the marijuana “dependency” rate is about 9%.

• They (opiates and opioids) are all the same in terms of the human body’s ease of addiction to them.
• I am an addict, in recovery, and I have not done heroin in over 5 years. I did have a small relapse for a few days on oxys and roxys. I had heard that they were legal heroin for so long and I was expecting a great high, but I was absolutely pissed that I had to detox from a crap high. They are not even close.
• For every one heroin addict out there that had parents with “poor parenting” skills, there is another one out there with great parents. You can throw in all the “time, encouragement, discipline, manners, education, and direction (God)…” you want; but the reality is that sometimes that isn’t enough.

• Why does the mention of God create an issue of moral superiority? One of the first tenets of AA is giving yourself over to a ‘Higher Power’? Are people in AA morally superior? Waking-up to the reality of God creates moral responsibility, not superiority.

Please forward this blog to folks who might appreciate this story. Email or Facebook is fine: just click on the appropriate box on the far right side of this blog screen.

If you are moved by this story, or know of experiences with drug addiction, please add a comment to the Comment box at the bottom of the blog.

The Gray Nomad
Probing the practice of Christian believers……

“The eye is the lamp of the body; so if your eye is clear [spiritually perceptive], your whole body will be full of light [benefiting from God’s precepts]. But if your eye is bad [spiritually blind], your whole body will be full of darkness [devoid of God’s precepts]. So if the [very] light inside you [your inner self, your heart, your conscience] is darkness, how great and terrible is that darkness!”
“No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon [money, possessions, fame, status, or whatever is valued more than the Lord].”
[Book of Matthew, chapter 6, Amplified Bible].

Leave a Reply

6 Responses to Some Truths about Opioid Addiction

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  2. Excellent blog today Ian!

    Please kids DO NOT experiment with heroin, EVER, not even once. This comes straight from the mouths of all of the 20ish year old moms i volunteered with for 2 years in the Santa Fe jail. They would do ANYTHING to get off heroin. They call heroin “the devil” and speak candidly of its evils. The ladies hate themselves severely for being addicts and not taking care of their children. They weep and weep as child protection services take their children away while they are sitting in jail. And, they are poor and have no money to get recovery help so they return again and again to jail. They pray the judge will send them to a recovery center. But the nonprofit recovery centers are few and the waiting list is loooong. Many never get sent to them. A few lucky ones do,

    I have written our NM governor three times detailing the facts and asking for her help for these young women who impact so many others. They are nonviolent addicts, who need medical care and NOT criminals. Martinez has not returned a response to any of my letters.
    We MUST change such injustice as this as well as the insurance prejudices detailed in your blog. Because people are dying every day needlessly.

    Although it is happening all over America as detailed here–NM is #1 for alcohol related deaths (usually mixed with drugs) and #2 for opioid (and prescription) deaths in our nation– not something for our state to be complacent about! Locking addicts up has proven over and again not to work because guess what, there are ample drugs in jail.

    HAPPY EASTER ALL! Hold on to your children tight. There is HOPE and there is HELP out there. Please– Never, never give up on your loved ones.
    Betsy

  3. Adding God to the mix has proven to get much better results. The Atonement of Jesus Christ makes it possible to overcome even drug addictions. Getting involved with a strong church group and staying involved is a key component to gaining self esteem and strength to overcome all of life’s detours and troubles. I know it is not a simple thing to overcome addictions of all sorts; however, I also know that there is Heavenly help available for all who ask for it. That said, we still have to do our part.

  4. Mary Ann Pollock |

    Ian this blog really touched my heart and I know for a fact that addiction is a curse to the person and the family. You are right about the parenting of children. You can be the best parent or the worst and it can hit your family. There are so many ways a teenager can get hooked on drugs. A trip to the dentist and leaving with a prescription for pain medication is one example of many. I hope and pray that something can be done to help the pain that so many families go through because of addictions of their children. Thanks for sharing this blog.

  5. Thank you Ian for bringing this evil addiction to light. It is especially rampant in New Mexico and with almost no support for addicts who want to recover. Or, when they go through treatment programs, there are only a few “clean living” residential programs that they can live in to continue on their journey to a successful recovery. Our son had struggled with drug addiction for 15 long, painful years. After so many treatment programs and detox centers, in and out of NM, it became obvious that for some reason he could stay clean for almost 6 months, then would relapse and reach a new low, then have to start all over again. It was a living hell to watch him be so hopeful about recovering, then become so distraught when he succumbed to the evil devil one more time. After years of drug abuse it took a final toll on his body. We lost him a year ago and the searing pain and agony of losing him never goes away.

    Kids PLEASE NEVER START experimenting with drugs. It is a downward spiral that ends in DEATH! There are very few survivors and most of them are so frail from all the abuse to their body, that they continue to live in agony for their remaining time on earth. If Jack were able to tell you himself, he would say NEVER START. He never meant to put his family through this Hell, but it was a downward spiral he couldn’t control.

    I’m sending prayers to all the families who are dealing with this struggle. Please continue to put pressure on our state representatives to establish more treatment facilities and recovery programs to give hope to those who constantly struggle with additions. May you be the ones who are successful and can send that hope out to others. May God Bless You!

  6. Sheila Thompson |

    All so very sad. I work at a homeless shelter and people with addictions are a large percent of the homeless. We have some awesome success stories and some that are tragic. I think the largest percent of the ones I’m familiar with are alcoholic. So sad to see families torn apart. I know they didn’t start out with that in mind. Sheila

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