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.
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?
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!
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.
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.
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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].