Donald Trump Shares Plan to Fix New Hampshire's Heroin Problem During Campaign Rally

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Donald Trump doesn’t seem to know how addiction works, at least not according to a speech he gave at his campaign’s New Hampshire rally on Thursday.

“You know what really amazed me when I came here?” Donald Trump asked as he began his portion of the rally. “[T]hey said the biggest single problem they have up here is heroin. And I said ‘how does heroin work with these beautiful lakes, and trees and all of the beautiful…?’ It doesn’t.”

Unfortunately for Trump, living somewhere as idyllic as New Hampshire’s countryside doesn’t lower your chances of being exposed to or becoming addicted to heroin. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, 23 percent of Americans who try heroin become addicted. They become addicted not because they live in places less scenic than New Hampshire, but because heroin is an opioid that affects their brain chemistry, and some people are genetically more likely to become addicted than others.

Similar to the platform he built his campaign on, Trump has a plan to stop the rising rates of heroin use and addiction. “I win, I get the nomination and I win, we’re gonna build that wall and we’re gonna stop that heroin from pouring in and we’re going to stop the poison of the youth,” he said. “We’re going to build the wall, believe me. We are going to build the wall, but we’re going to stop the poison from pouring in and destroying our youth and plenty of other people and we’re gonna work on those people that got addicted and are addicted and I’ll tell you what, we’re gonna do a real job for the state of New Hampshire.”

Neither Trump nor his campaign provided any additional details during the rally as to what that “real job” entails or how Trump plans to help those already addicted to heroin. The campaign’s website does not mention addiction services or rehabilitation as part of their health care reform either.

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National Recovery Month: We’re on This Journey Together

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I can’t believe National Recovery Month 2016 is already coming to an end, but what a wonderful journey it’s been. Individuals from around the nation have shared so many impactful stories. These people come from all walks of life and have been touched by addiction in a myriad of different ways.

What have we learned about addiction recovery over these last four weeks?


Defining Recovery and the Value of Support

We found out that the term “recovery” means something different to each and every one of us. For some, recovery simply means greeting each day without being shackled to drugs or alcohol. For others, it means being a trustworthy friend and family member or mending fences broken by the weight of addiction.

We also learned what it’s really like loving someone who struggles with addiction. With so much focus placed on the person who’s struggling with chemical dependency, their friends and loved ones often feel lost in the shuffle. We found out how a solid support system can make or break someone’s recovery and how much it means to them to know they are unconditionally loved.

There was one overwhelming message that people in recovery wanted to convey to those who supported them through the darkest times of their lives, “Thank You for Never Giving Up!

Check out a few of these heartfelt messages we gathered at Recovery Brands, through our site, Recovery.org, in the video below:

Getting and Staying Clean

We heard from people who recently completed rehab and received some powerful insight into the hard work that’s required to stay clean once home. Leaving the safety and structure of treatment is an exciting and scary time, but with the right support systems in place and the will to change your life for the better, it can be done.

We also received some unique insight from Candace Plattor, M.A., R.C.C, addictions therapist, award-winning author and expert writer for Pro Corner on Recovery.org:

“I believe that it really does take a village. We are still at a place in our recovery communities where the bulk of the attention and available treatment goes to those with addiction. I am never against people receiving help and support – but we still don’t have anywhere near enough resources available to assist and support the people who love them – and they desperately struggle right alongside those who struggle with addiction, often not having any clue about what to do.

For every one person with an addiction there are generally about 10-20 people who are negatively affected by that person’s addiction. We need to be offering a lot more help to the loved ones than we’ve been doing.


We need to be working with families as a whole, not just with those who are addicted if we want to stop addiction in its tracks.”

We’d love to hear more about what you learned during National Recovery Month 2016! Share your story with us by using #RBRecoveryMonth on social media or leaving a comment below!

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There Is Hope After Addiction

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I’m an addict. There. I said it. I’m saying it to the world. Not only am I an addict, but I have bipolar disorder as well.

Why am I telling you this?

I’m telling you this to give you hope. I was once a trainwreck. I hit rock bottom. I was homeless. I was selling myself on the street to get by. I had no real friends, no one to turn to for advice, comfort, support. All I had were my drugs.

Oh, I denied being an addict for a long time. I couldn’t possible be one, I rationalized. My medicine was prescribed by a doctor. I didn’t get them from a dealer off the streets. I got them from a pharmacy. Legally.

But the drugs were ruining my life. I managed to claw myself up from rock bottom, even with the drugs as my support. I went back to college, I got a job, I won back custody of my daughter. I got married. I had more kids. But I was only a shell of my former self.

I denied there was a problem so well I even believed it myself. I totally rationalized needing more meds than prescribed. I rationalized the burning desire for 8 p.m. to hit every night so I could take my Ambien. I rationalized everything away.

I explained away my odd behavior to everyone. The falling asleep at inappropriate times. The slurred speech. The glazed over eyes. It was all a side effect of perfectly legal substances. Legal substances I was abusing. I struggled. My bipolar disorder didn’t help me at all to get over my addiction. In fact, the two disorders competed with each other for my attention. I was having an anxiety attack? Pop a few Xanax. My back was hurting? Pop a couple Roxicodone. I couldn’t win for losing.

With each drug of choice, there was tipping point for me to quit it. My pain specialist prescribed me something for my pain, and the package it came in read, “to be taken for opioid addiction.” What the hell? How dare they accuse me of being an addict! F*ck them. I quit the Suboxone and Roxicodone right then and there. I’d show them. I could manage just fine with Motrin from there on out. And I did.

But the addiction was still there, and I was still in denial over having it. So I continued to take the Xanax. I mean, it was prescribed, right? There was finally a day when I was super late picking up my son from the bus stop because I’d popped a few too many. This is when I realized things were out of hand. I still couldn’t quit though. It took a hospital stay after an overdose before I was finally able to stop.

But the addiction was still there. And I still had my beloved Ambien. Oh Ambien, what a nightmare you are. I would have never quit the Ambien, until my husband left me over it. He had begged for years for me to quit taking it, but I couldn’t. It wasn’t until he finally left that I woke up from the foggy haze.

I quit right then and there again. Cold turkey, never again. It took a few months for my husband and I to work through the dysfunction in our marriage, but we did it. I can now say I’ve been clean from everything for 18 months. I don’t even have a desire to take anything addictive. I refuse to have it in the house.

So what’s happened in the last 18 months? I’ve gotten my life back. I’m in tune with what my children need. I’m able to enjoy my children more fully. We’re close as a family unit. My husband and I are closer than ever. We’ve been married 8 years, and this past year has been our best year ever, even with the dysfunction we had to work through. I got into treatment for my bipolar disorder, and yes, the addiction as well. I thrived there. I graduated with a good handle on myself, and had everything in check.

Life is amazing now. I would have never realized just how wonderful life can be without struggling in the depths of hell beforehand. I just want people to know there is hope. You can rise above the addiction and be more than your addiction. You can be a writer. A mother. An aunt. An advocate. A person with worth and value. I know this is true because that’s me now. I’m all of those things and more.

I’m not saying it’s easy. It’s harder than hell to rise above the shame and guilt over being an addict. It took me a lot of intensive therapy and the support of a loving family to do it. And you’ll need support. I definitely did. It takes a village to help an addict recover. But it can be done. I know this is true because I did it. And I know others can, too.

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To My Addiction, When I Feel You Trying to Pull Me Back Into the Darkness

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Dear addiction,

There you are, back again, pulling the rug right out from under me. You invade my thoughts, my dreams, even my life when I am awake.

You are always there. Watching. Waiting. Trying to get me to slip up and take solace in the sweet words you whisper as I sit there staring, trying to fight it with all my heart.

I hate you. This is not who I am anymore. You may have had a hold on me, always pulling me down till I thought only pills and getting high was the answer. But guess what? No more.

I played into your hands for years. You almost destroyed everything I care the most about in the world. My family. My marriage. My friendships.

I almost lost everything because of you.

Oh, it’s my fault, you say? You are partially right. But you are also wrong. Yes, I chose to do the things I did, but you were the one whispering the “sweet nothings” into my ears late at night.

You do not have a hold on me anymore. Yes, you will always be there, but now I know that I do not have to listen to you. I am stronger than this. I can beat you.

You laugh at me, the sound echoing in my head. Saying I will never be free of you. That I will always be back.

But I won’t.

I have something here that you can never match. I have a wonderful family. I have a amazing understanding husband. I have the strongest support system I could ever ask for.

So, my dear addiction, you and I are done. For good this time. And the best part? When I feel you trying to pull me back into the darkness I used to consider my friend, I will have 1,000 friends and family pulling for me here.

I am not alone. But you are now. Enjoy the darkness, my old friend.

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The Work That Begins After Rehab

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The hard work begins after leaving the safety of rehab and returning home.

Rehabilitation for a substance addiction
is life-saving. However, leaving rehab and re-entering society after completing treatment leaves individuals incredibly vulnerable. This is especially true for when people receive short-term treatment, which is 30 days or less. The transition from rehab to home can be a shaky and fragile time.

Many people enter rehab reluctantly. As the days roll by, their facility becomes their sanctuary. It’s their safe environment, where every move is structured and planned. They make friends in group therapy and trust in their doctors. Rehabilitation surrounds people with others who understand the addiction struggle on an intimate level. There are no grudges held or disdain in the eyes of people within this place. In a matter of weeks, rehab can become a new home, where people in treatment feel welcomed and wanted.

And then the day comes when they must leave their cozy new nest, bound for the old, chaotic home left behind in a substance-fueled haze. Who wouldn’t be scared? People, places and events associated with drug use are often the cues and triggers to relapse.

Welcome Home

While individuals may be free from drugs and alcohol for the first time in months or even years, they are now responsible for their own choices. Temptation and triggers lurk around every corner. They might live with a spouse or family member who drinks or keeps painkillers in the house. Perhaps their family isn’t supportive of their efforts and doubts their sobriety.

In public and social settings, many of the same dangers await. Individuals may run into old friends who expect them to start using again now that they are out of rehab. Coworkers may expect individuals to nonchalantly attend office parties, where alcohol is served. Stressful people or events can throw people for a loop and trigger intense urges to escape. According to research from Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, stress has been long implicated in relapse to drug abuse. Even driving by liquor stores or corner markets where individuals used to meet drug dealers can send their heads spinning. It’s certainly a fair statement to say that the hard work begins after leaving rehab.

The time spent in rehab is all about preparation. The preparation for the life that awaits once home and how to navigate that world without drugs or alcohol. At Recovery Brands, we’re highlighting individuals as they fight to remain clean post-treatment through our site, Recovery.org. We sat down with four people in the early stages of recovery, and though their journeys are each uniquely different, they’re all determined to beat the odds and not fall victim to the horrors of sobriety. Here’s a look at their stories:

Amy Jo

“I was 14 when I started drinking, which quickly led to things like smoking pot and dabbling in cocaine. Once I tried crack, I was instantly hooked and in love. How strange is that? I was in love with a drug. I hate even thinking about those days, to be honest with you.

Individuals who are more nervous about falling back into similar environments and old friends are more likely to relapse during recovery. My life spiraled out of control until one day I found myself in jail for stealing cars with my then-boyfriend. Since I’d never been in trouble, the judge ordered that I go to a 90-day rehab program and remain on probation for five years.

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After I stopped fighting the process, rehab was a great place for me. I learned a lot about why I started using drugs in the first place and I learned how to utilize coping skills in the “real world.” When my time in rehab was almost up, I really started to panic. I didn’t know what I would do to make money, where I’d live or if my daughter would remember me. My anxiety levels were through the roof.

Right now I’m living with my ex-husband’s parents – strange situation to say the least, but I get to see my daughter three times a week and every other weekend. I’m having a hard time finding a job because I’m officially a convicted felon, so that’s though. I’ve had to cut out all those old ‘friends’ I used crack with – I already know I’m not strong enough to be in that kind of environment. None of them were ever really my friends, anyway.

The one thing I’m struggling with is feeling isolated. My family members don’t really talk to me anymore – I don’t think any of them believe I’m actually clean and sober. I’ve started going to meetings once a week and that really seems to help. It’s nice to talk openly about what I’m going through without the fear of being judged. I’m taking things one day at a time.”

Allen

“I made my way to rehab thanks to two major injuries I got while serving in Iraq. The pain medication I was taking round-the-clock morphed into one hell of an addiction. I nearly lost my life when I overdosed.

I did three months in an intensive rehab program. The facility was nicer than any house I’d ever been in and the people were amazing. I made some life-long friends in that place – most of them were vets like me. I don’t think any of us wanted to leave when our time was up.


Once I got home, reality hit me like a ton of bricks. I had a stack of overdue bills like you wouldn’t believe, my house was a wreck and littered with empty pill bottles, there were blackened spoons and needles on my kitchen table – everything was exactly the way I left it the night I overdosed. Seeing how I’d been living was too much for me to handle; I could feel my depression coming on like a freight train.

Instead of staying there, calling my old dealer and getting high, I picked up the phone and called my mom. She told me to come stay with her – that we’d figure it out together. That woman’s a saint and she’s never given up on me, even though I’ve given her plenty of reasons to. Together, we decided it’d be best if I went to live in a transitional facility – I call it a halfway house [laughs] – where I could get some more help with learning to live on my own. I already had the tools to navigate life outside rehab, I was just scared and confused about how to put turn those tools into actions. Best decision I ever made.

Today, I’m managing my chronic pain with a couple different non-narcotic medications and acupuncture. Don’t get me wrong; I’m still in a lot of pain, but I can’t go back to taking OxyContin again. If I did that, I know exactly where it would lead me. With my injuries, I can’t work… so they consider me disabled, I guess. My depression is getting better, but I still have to manage it with therapy and medication. This road will be a long one, but it’s better than having no road to travel at all.”

Shallee

“My sister, Kelli, and I spent two years shooting heroin into each other’s veins. When I lost my scholarship to play soccer — along with the respect of all my teammates — I knew I had to get some help. I checked myself into a rehab center that took my health insurance and just hoped for the best.

I spent three months working on my issues and thought I had a good grasp of how to navigate the world without heroin. I felt like I could conquer the world in the days leading up to my graduation from the program. If I’d only known…

When I moved back in with my family, I quickly realized Kelli was still using. And once I learned she’d added meth to her regimen, I told my parents. They just ignored the situation, like they’ve always done. I hate them for standing by, watching both of their daughters kill themselves all these years. They’ve never bothered to step in or try to save us…not once.

I’ve tried my best to either avoid Kelli or encourage her to get help. With so much of my time focused on her, I’ve neglected to take care of myself. I haven’t been to a meeting in two months now and I don’t feel like I have anyone who supports my sobriety. The really sad thing is that I’ve started drinking a glass of wine at night just to calm my nerves — a really big glass of wine. This is the road I prepared to avoid and I know I have to take action before things get worse.

I’ve made up my mind to move in with my grandparents. They live six hours away and they totally support my recovery. I’ve already found a new therapist and have a list of all the AA/NA meetings in the area. I’m scared, but I’m ready. It’ll be hard starting all over again in a strange city, but it’s my best hope for survival. I can’t depend on anyone else to do this for me; I have to do it myself…and I’ll be damned if I let anything stop me.”

Deenie

“My drug use began with my mom. We started drinking together when I was 16; that led to us smoking pot by the time I was 17 and snorting coke before I got out of high school. When I turned 23, my mom died from an overdose — I’m the one who found her body.

Losing my mom only made me worse. I escaped my pain by crawling into the bottom of a whiskey bottle every night and topped it off with a handful of Xanax. This went on for months…until I overdosed and my son found me unconscious, lying on the living room floor covered in vomit and barely breathing. I was repeating the cycle with a vengeance.

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I didn’t want to turn my son’s life into the life I’d experienced when I was younger, so I went into a short-term rehab program. Looking back, the only reason I went was to relive my own guilt. I did what I had to do to complete the program, told everyone how much better I felt, spoke the “rehab” terminology I thought they wanted to hear…fake it until you make it, right?

I got home and everyone thought I was cured — like the month I’d been “away” somehow magically erased all my problems. I didn’t want to let anyone down, so I hid my demons well. I played ‘sober Deenie’ and muddled through life. 

Six months ago, I fixed lunch for my son and, when he sat down at the kitchen table, he looked at me real serious all the sudden. Out of the blue, he said, “Mom, I’m so proud of you,” and immediately went back to eating his sandwich, happy and innocent like the sweet angel he is. In that moment, I couldn’t do it anymore — I couldn’t keep up the façade.

My old rehab therapist had kept in touch with me since my time in treatment and she always said, “We’re here if you ever need anything.” I put that statement to the test. I called her up and spilled my guts…told her everything. I decided long-term treatment was what I needed, and this time, I was ready.

I spent a total of five months in treatment and rebuilt myself — from the bottom up. I see a therapist three times a week and attend daily online 12-step meetings — sometimes, when I really need it, I get greedy and attend two or three online meetings a day. It really hurt my family when I admitted I’d been hiding my alcohol and pill use; we’re working to mend those fences and establish trust again. I’ve got a lot of fence-mending to do, to tell you the truth…but this time, I’m doing the mending with a clear head and a sober heart.

Have you or a loved one been battling the horrors of sobriety? Share your story with us by using #RBRecoveryMonth on social media or by leaving a comment below.

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This Is What It's Like to Love Someone With an Addiction

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The impact of addiction hits home for millions of Americans. So much, in fact, there is an entire month dedicated to the celebration of those who have found success in long-term recovery.

While every day we are thankful for those who are reaching recovery, National Recovery Month (September) is also the perfect time to highlight the loved ones who supported them along the way.

In America, 21.5 million people struggled with a substance use disorder in 2014. It’s safe to say the number of loved ones impacted by substance use disorders is even higher. Addiction and the recovery process impacts parents, siblings, children, significant others, friends, colleagues, peers… the list goes on and on.

Robbie Gallo, the lead singer of Vokab Kompany, like millions of individuals, has been impacted by a loved one’s addiction. Through his experience, Robbie wrote a song, “It’s Warm in the Light,” dedicated to his brother. He sat down with us at Recovery Brands to share the inspiration for this song and how it helps inspire other individuals impacted by addiction. Robbie opens up about the struggles his family has gone through as a result of his brother’s addiction and the control addiction had on their lives until the process of recovery began.

After learning how much addiction has impacted Robbie and his family, we were curious to learn more about what it’s like for other individuals who love someone who’s struggling with an addiction. Through our site, Recovery.org, this is what we learned:

Jesse, son of a person struggling with addiction: “Frustration is the first word that comes to mind. No matter how many times or how many ways you try to help [someone with an addiction], you realize they can only help themselves.”


Dean, father of a child in recovery: “Being the parent of [someone with an addiction] is incredibly frustrating because as parents we’re programmed to take care of our children and help “fix” them from the time they are born. But addiction isn’t a scrape on the knee or a sore throat. Addiction is something parents can’t fix. So you do the best you can with what you know at the time, and you learn as you go along. And you can never go wrong with love.”  


Elizabeth, mother of someone struggling with addiction: “You hope it’s not that bad. You hope it will get better. You prepare yourself. They might not survive. You must strengthen your mind, your heart. You look in on them when they are ‘sleeping.’ You check on their breathing, just like a newborn. You look for a lot of input, calling local rehab centers for any and all possible options. You enlist your local police for strength. You tell your loved one, ‘You are so loved, so valued, so worth every effort, just please don’t die.’ You keep hoping and praying that something grand and magical could happen. I realize that none of us, not even God, can control, manage, fix, stop our loved ones from this possible, terrible final ending. For now, though, my son seems to be safe, inspired and succeeding. His drug use is currently on hold, so maybe he will beat the odds. And, maybe Brian will have a future, with just ‘regular people’ problems. We so hope!”

Rose, mother of a child in recovery: “Loving someone with addiction is heartbreaking. Loving someone in recovery is heartwarming. During addition, it’s heartbreaking to witness a loved one’s positive potential replaced with scary possibilities and horrible realities. Hope helps, but there are so many unknowns … until recovery. During recovery, it’s heartwarming to see the return good health, smart decisions, trust and confidence.”

Jean, mother of a child in recovery: “Love is powerful: I often use the phrase ‘Love them to life.’ This love is not an enabling emotion supporting a loved one’s destructive behavior; it is pure, simple, unconditional love. Loving someone struggling with addiction expands our capability to love, if we allow it. It’s not always easy to work through the frustration, anger and confusion we feel and dig down to find the love we have for someone, but it’s our love they will remember and our love that can bring them back. We have to try to love them home. When my son was struggling, we organized a family intervention. There were 12 of us and we surprised him as most interventions are planned to do. We truly and sincerely expressed our concern and our love and our belief in him. His reaction was one of anger. We were ready for him to change, but he was not; he felt ambushed and betrayed by those of us who had ‘lured’ him to our home and soon after he moved away, stopped communicating and continued on his addictive path. Even when communication opened again and the tension was less, we felt as if we had completely failed at the intervention. We even felt we had made things worse. Several months later, he asked for help. And more than a year later, upon hearing me speak to an audience and share how miserably our intervention had failed, he stood to correct me. My son stood and shared with all of us something I had not understood. He told us that on the morning when he woke up depressed, sick, addicted and alone, he knew he had three choices: one was to take his own life in a violent way, the second was to purposely overdose and the third was to ask for help. I thank God every day he chose to ask for help and made what must have been a very difficult call to his dad and me. My son said he knew our intervention came from a place of love and it included all of the most important people in his life, his family, his friends, everyone who really cared about him. He could feel our love and said if an intervention truly comes from a place of love, it will never fail. It may not happen as hoped on that day and in that place, but it will not be forgotten. Love is powerful. Never let anger, hurt, frustration, disappointment and the other negative emotions we feel bury the love you have for someone struggling with addiction. Love them home. Love them to life.”


Hannah, sister of someone struggling with addiction: “The easiest way I can explain it to others is that addiction is, in fact, a mental illness. Addiction alters the brain which alters the person. Because of that, loving someone with an addiction is like loving someone with a mental illness. You love that person endlessly, but there are good days and there are bad days. You find yourself loving the shell of that person before they were feeding that addiction. You certainly love them on the good days and the bad days, but you find you don’t have to limit yourself or your life on those good days. You talk to them about what it would be like if things were different but in the end, you always know it is that person who has to make the conscious effort and the decision to turn their life around every single day in order to fight addictions. Nevertheless, you never stop loving every single ounce of that person and never stop wishing away the part of them that feeds the addictions.

What often goes unnoticed in addiction treatment is the rest of the family. Many families fall apart when a child is struggling with drug abuse and treatment. Being the sibling of a person addicted to drugs is no cake-walk. I’m sure many other families can attest to this, but my brother’s drug use and recovery became the focus of our household. His addiction hung over our family. On December 23, 2009, my brother Zach was shot and killed by a fellow heroin user. My family was shattered and in the midst of our grief, we had to go through the grueling process of a trial against my brother’s murderer. Zach was only 21 years old.

We often hear about families falling apart after losing a loved one, and while my family has changed, we remain together because that it is what Zach would want. I decided to get involved with the Miss America Organization as a way to share my family’s story. My work helps spread my platform of ‘Reach for Your Dreams, Not Drugs,’ with the focus of inspiring others to choose a path that allows for their dreams to come true and lead healthy lifestyles in order to get there. It is my hope to help people understand that addiction can harm anyone. I continue to share Zach’s story with others in the hope of encouraging families to create an open household where they have consistent discussions about drug use and conversations with their children about how to lead a healthy life.”

Have you been impacted by a loved one’s addiction and recovery process? Share with us what it’s like loving someone who’s struggling with an addiction by using #RBRecoveryMonth or by leaving a comment below.

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