4 dead, at least a dozen hospitalized after mass overdose in Georgia

The Georgia Department of Public Health said as of Wednesday morning, six more overdose cases possibly related to fake Percocet were reported. None of these cases have been confirmed as overdoses related to the street drugs.

Georgia Poison Center is currently working with the hospitals and gathering more information to determine whether these additional cases are connected to the cluster of overdoses reported in the past three days.

State and local investigators are fanning out to catch those who sold street drugs linked to dozens of overdoses, include four fatal in Central Georgia.

Emergency workers responded in the last 48 hours to reports of overdoses in Centerville, Perry and Warner Robins, according to the GBI. However, the drugs might also have been sold on the street in other areas of the state.

Doctor are eagerly awaiting toxicology tests to find out what is in these pills that triggered this mass overdose.

They worry about the possibility of more cases if this drug is still on the streets.

“Difficulty breathing, slurred speech, most are coming through the ambulance,” Dr. Chris Hendry said.

The chief medical officer describes the symptoms of the rash of overdose patients that have arrived at a Macon hospital in the last 48 hours.

They all had one thing in common, they took pills that they thought were pharmaceutical quality pain meds. They were wrong.

Ohio Attorney General Sues 5 Drugmakers Over Opiate Crisis

Julie Carr Smyth, Associated Press

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — The Ohio attorney general sued five drugmakers on Wednesday, accusing the companies of perpetrating the state’s addictions epidemic by intentionally misleading patients about the dangers of painkillers and promoting benefits of the drugs not backed by science.

Attorney General Mike DeWine said the companies created a deadly mess in Ohio that they now need to pay to clean up.

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine

“This lawsuit is about justice, it’s about fairness, it’s about what is right,” DeWine said in announcing the complaint filed in Ross County, a southern Ohio community slammed by fatal drug overdoses from painkillers and heroin. A record 3,050 Ohioans died from drug overdoses in 2015, a figure expected to jump sharply once 2016 figures are tallied.

DeWine wants an injunction stopping the companies from their alleged misconduct and damages for money the state spent on opiates sold and marketed in Ohio. The attorney general also wants customers repaid for unnecessary opiate prescriptions for chronic pain.

“These drug companies knew that what they were doing was wrong and they did it anyway,” DeWine said.

The drugmakers sued by DeWine are Purdue Pharma; Endo Health Solutions; Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, and its subsidiary, Cephalon; Johnson & Johnson and its subsidiary Janssen Pharmaceuticals; and Allergan.

They variously manufacture OxyContin, Percocet and a host of other painkillers that DeWine said represent the heart of the problem.

Christina Arredondo said her 24-year-old pregnant daughter, Felicia Detty, died after a painkiller addiction led to heroin and overdose. She said she’s hopeful the Ohio lawsuit can begin to curtail the epidemic by fighting it “from the top.”

“It’s not like they’re going out to buy some cocaine on the street,” she said. “They’re going to the doctor for a torn ligament in their shoulder, or migraines, or having a tooth pulled.”

Janssen on Wednesday called the lawsuit’s accusations legally and factually unfounded. The company said it acted appropriately, responsibly and in the best interests of patients.

Another defendant, Purdue Pharma, said it shares DeWine’s concerns about the opiate crisis and is committed to working together on a solution. It won’t say if it’s challenging the lawsuit.

Teva Pharmaceuticals says it’s still reviewing the lawsuit and is unable to comment.

Endo declined comment. A message was left seeking comment with Allergan.

DeWine, a Republican expected to run for governor next year, joins other states that have filed similar lawsuits. His move comes after years of calls for such action by Ohio Democrats.

Democratic candidate Nan Whaley, Dayton’s mayor, is airing online video spots in which she criticizes sitting Republicans for doing too little to solve the heroin and opioid epidemic. Whaley says taking on drug companies for their role in the crisis will be her highest priority as governor.

Another gubernatorial contender, Democratic state Sen. Joe Schiavoni, said he had previously called for such an action.

“I hope that whatever financial settlement this lawsuit might bring will be put toward helping the victims of this epidemic,” he said. “In the meantime, the General Assembly must do more to provide the resources our counties desperately need now for drug treatment and other services.”

In 2015, Kentucky settled a similar lawsuit with Purdue Pharma for $24 million.

Oregon reached a settlement in 2015 with opioid painkiller manufacturer Insys for off-label promotion of Subsys, a fentanyl spray more powerful than heroin. It was also among 27 states that reached a settlement with Purdue, the maker of OxyContin, in 2007.

Tiger Woods told police after his DUI charge that he has prescriptions for 4 drugs — here’s what they do

Tiger Woods DUITiger Woods told police after his DUI charge that he has prescriptions for 4 drugs — here’s what they do

Police arrested and charged Tiger Woods was with DUI at 3 a.m. on Monday morning, citing “an unexpected reaction to prescribed medications.” The police report indicated that Woods was found asleep in his car while it was running. An alcohol breathalyzer test showed Woods had a blood alcohol level of 0.00, but his arrest report indicates he was taking four prescription medications at various points in the past few years, most of which are typically prescribed for pain.

The officers recorded (and likely misspelled) these as “soloxex,” “torix,” “viox,” and Vicodin, according to The Palm Beach Post.

Vicodin, the brand name for a painkiller that combines the opiate hydrocodone with the over-the-counter pain reliever acetaminophen (or Tylenol), is a Schedule II substance due to its high potential for addiction. Its side effects can include confusion, depressed breathing, and drowsiness.

Torix, which is most likely a misspelling of Turox, is a brand name for another pain- and swelling-relief drug called etoricoxib. The drug is illegal in the US; its side effects can include fatigue and chest pain.

Vioxx, a brand name drug that Woods indicated he had not taken within the past year, was discontinued in 2004 after being linked to heart issues. It was used to reduce swelling.

Over the course of his career, Woods likely struggled with pain. He not only injured his knees, legs, and back playing golf, but also underwent multiple surgeries for those injuries and crashed a car. While we don’t know how he or his physicians chose to manage his pain, we do know that prescriptions for pain medications, including opioid painkillers, are common in such situations. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than a third of people who undergo surgery get an opioid prescription.

Woods’ non-opioid prescriptions also come with side effects —  while less severe than those that accompany Vicodin, the effects can include fatigue and confusion.

Painkillers to Heroin, New Film Shows It Can ‘Happen to Anybody”

by Corky Siemaszko

Only one of them is still alive when the credits close on “Warning: This Drug May Kill You,” a searing study of the plague directed by longtime New York newswoman Perri Peltz.

But in the final frames, the fate of a young survivor named Stephany Gay is anything but certain as she quits a program designed to wean her off the drugs that killed her sister and wrecked her life — after just six days.

“She is doing much better,” Peltz told NBC News, where she worked for many years before she began making documentaries. “She just completed a 30-day rehab program with medication and she will be starting another. Our fingers are crossed.”

That would be the kind of happy ending that was denied to Gail Cole, whose story about losing her 22-year-old son Brendan to a heroin overdose is part of the movie.

“What we’re trying to do with this documentary is honor his memory and make sure he did not die in vain,” said Cole, who lives in Allendale, N.J. “We are basically trying to get people more educated and aware that we have a heroin epidemic because we have prescription painkiller epidemic. And that it can happen to anybody.”

Peltz spoke to NBC shortly before the film made its debut Thursday at the Tribeca Film Festival. The new film comes as the governors of Ohio and New Jersey have taken steps to combat the crisis by limiting the amount of painkillers doctors can prescribe.

Three out of four “new heroin users” abused prescription opioids before they started using heroin, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported.

Peltz she said the seeds for the piece were planted during a discussion with one of the head honchos of HBO who wanted to know “why there were so many stories of people overdosing and dying.”

“Right now we have close to 100 people a day dying and she wanted to know why the narrative was those somehow these were bad kids abusing good drugs,” said Peltz. “By and large these aren’t bad people abusing good drugs. In fact, it’s good people who become addicted and most often it starts with a legitimate prescription.” Case in point: Wynne Doyle, a doomed mother of three in tony Mill Valley, California, whose road to ruin was paved with painkillers she was prescribed after her third C-section.

“Doctors were just throwing pills at her,” her still grieving husband says, his eyes welliing-up with tears.

Then there’s Georgia Cayce, who was 26 and living with her parents in New Jersey when she died of a heroin overdose. She got hooked not long after she was prescribed “monster painkillers” for a back injury she suffered during a fall.

“By the time the prescription ran out, she needed more,” her weeping father David Cayce says on camera.

And there’s young Brendan, who died of a heroin overdose four years after he was prescribed opioids after an operation to remove a cyst.

“You completely underestimate how hard the battle with addiction is,” his father, Brian, says in the film. “As a father you have this guilt that it happened on your watch.” Being reassured you did everything you could does not lessen the pain, he adds.

“That will always lingering the back of your mind,” Brian Cole says.

But it’s Gay’s story that looms largest over a documentary that begins with jarring footage of people overdosing, including one especially wrenching shot of a weeping child trying to pull her unconscious mother off the floor of a store.

As the stories unfold in the film, Peltz does not intrude.

“In a story that is as powerful as this, I felt a reporter’s voice imposing itself was not necessary,” she said. “The victims of this horrible epidemic speak more eloquently than I ever could.”

Gay, who lives north of Chicago, recounts how her heroin addiction began shortly after she was was sent home from the hospital with Dilaudid, Vicodin, and Oxycontin after she was treated for kidney stones at age 16.

“In the beginning I would take my Vicodin as prescribed,” she says.

Soon, she began taking “an extra one here and there.” And when she realized she had a problem and went to the doctor, she came home with yet another highly-addictive opioid — Percocet.

Gay describes how she wound up sharing pills with her older sister Ashley and how they graduated from that to snorting heroin.

“I felt it loved me,” Gay says. “I felt like it loved me.” And Gay’s love affair with heroin doesn’t wane even after her sister dies of an overdose in 2013.

“I do blame prescription opioids for my daughter’s addiction,” Gay’s mother, Kathy, says. “I trusted the doctors.”

“Warning: This Drug May Kill You” debuts on HBO on May 1st at 10 p.m.

Gov. Hogan declares state of emergency in heroin epidemic

ANNAPOLIS, M.d. – Governor Larry Hogan declared a state of emergency in response to the heroin epidemic in Maryland.

Hogan made the announcement at the Maryland Emergency Management Agency Wednesday. He discussed Maryland’s recent efforts to combat opioid addiction and announced an additional $50 million in funding to support heroin prevention, treatment and enforcement efforts.

“We need to treat this crisis the exact same way that we would treat any other state emergency,” Hogan said.

The state’s accelerated efforts are in response to a recent increase in heroin use and heroin-related deaths. Hogan said heroin and opioid deaths have doubled in the last year, while heroin use has tripled nationwide.

There are now an estimated 27 million heroin users across the country, Hogan said.

“This is about an all hands on deck approach so that together, we can save the lives of thousands of Marylanders,” he said.

Why We ‘Self-Medicate’ Our Own Depression or Anxiety

This is mental health awareness month. Which means, in my experience, that it is still, to some extent at least, alcohol awareness month. Many people who suffer with undiagnosed depression or anxiety reach for alcohol or drugs to calm their nerves or relieve them of emotional pain. In other words, they self-medicate. Rather than seek out some help in managing depression, anxiety or chronic resentment, they seek their own solution — a solution which, while it works pretty well for a while, eventually complicates the issues and leads to more pain. It’s the same sort of premise as having access to your own morphine drip: You administer your own dose whenever you begin to feel pain.

Hiding in Plain Sight
Many people can get rid of temporary pain by having a couple of drinks and calming down in the evening, say, or by knocking back some “liquid courage” before facing a social event. For some, there’s no more to it than this, and their use of alcohol remains fairly benign. But for another group, a group that is larger than any one cares to admit, the solution slips into a dependency, and the dependency slips into an addiction. Slowly, this group becomes trapped in their own solution. Not only can they not quite face an evening without some “help,” but their own healthy coping strategies begin to atrophy through lack of use. And as they increasingly depend more and more on a substance to change their mood, their relationship with that substance comes to have a life of its own. Pretty soon you aren’t really sure who you are talking to at dinner: Is it the person you remember or that person “under the influence”? Is it the “booze talking” expansively, angrily, or overly confidently, or is it them?

The connection between alcohol/drugs and mental health is not made enough and cannot be made too often. Once a using pattern begins, often innocently enough, it can come to have a life of its own. No longer is the person downing a drink — now the drink is downing the person.

And then there is the rest of the family, the people who don’t make it to the front page of any tabloid because they are not the ones with the “problem,” but for every one one person alcohol and drugs take, there are seven or eight others in the wings, seven or eight others who lives are profoundly affected by living with another person’s addiction, another person’s mysterious medicated depression or their strange anxiety that liquor turns into something else, something much harder to recognize, accept or reason with. The addict’s disease becomes disguised, hidden beneath the ritual of cocktails. Their long dinners lingering over bottles of wine, their diatribes on politics, their strange and singular possession of a subject that they cannot seem to let go of and have to remain in control of lest the pain they are seeping out through it, leaking slowly onto everyone else, break loose somehow and get all over everything. Their addiction is morphing into odd behavior, twisted thinking, lack of empathy for those around them. It is so strange being around someone who uses alcohol or drugs to manage inner pain, resentment or anxiety because they, more than anyone, are convinced of their own rightness. They are brittle on the subject of their increasing use, on any subject for that matter. They take over the dinner conversation, drive delicate points way too hard, go on long and tedious harangues about which they appear to have unduly strong feelings. Their eyes slowly glaze over and you know that they do not fully see you, or care to see you. But the person they really do not see is themselves. They are hiding in plain sight. Caught on a wheel of self-medication that rolls its way through the person, across the dinner table and along the path of the next generation.

The Endless Cycle
When alcohol or drugs are used as our “go to” for getting through difficult moments, managing social or interpersonal anxiety or managing real, emotional pain, a self-destructive cycle gets going that looks something like this.

1. There is something that is bothering us, a down mood we can’t shake, a social or personal anxiety that keeps us anxious or a depressed/angry feeling we don’t know how to manage.

2. We discover that 1-3 drinks or maybe some pot or even a drug really takes the edge off. We feel lighter, less self-conscious, more confident and able to cope. We’re less anxious, worried or down.

3. The more we use these “solutions” to cope, the less we learn to cope on our own, we become dependent on a substance to manage our inner world and less able to manage it on our own.

4. Our dependency nags at the corners of our mind. We’re not ready to admit to it, so we develop little ways of hiding it, first from ourselves and then, of course, from others. The more silently anxious we become, the greater our need for our drink or drug (or behavior, sex or money addiction, for example) to cope.

5. Our dependency deepens, our anxiety about our dependency deepens, our wish to hide it deepens. We live further and further away from our own inner truth. The further we are away from self-honestly, the less likely we are to admit we have a problem. And the more we rely on alcohol or drugs to hide our growing shame. And the more we look for excuses under which to hide our behavior.

6. Life complications. About this time other people are noticing that something isn’t right. Others become preoccupied with the “problem that cannot be talked about.” Now we not only have the initial anxiety or depression that was driving the wish for self medication, but we have a growing dependency on a substance or behavior.

7. Addicts’ inner pain, shame and loss of self honestly becomes more painful to them, consequently their need to self medicate to drown that inner pain increases. Their use and abuse increases, their pain and shame increases, their hiding and projecting increases.

8. Addiction takes hold and this cycle is repeated over and over and over again. And the more pain, the more projection.

About this time, the addict (and too often the spouse of the addict, who can be very invested in keeping the growing problem hidden) start looking for scapegoats. They may throw the hot potato a generation forward onto kids. Couples can unite and choose a child as a scapegoat, they make more than necessary of a kid’s problems and project the “hot potato” onto them. Or they may throw it a generation back into their family of origin, getting unduly preoccupied with their parents or siblings problems. Or the addict has subjects that come to be more soap box rants than interests or discussions — they project their inner angst at the world at large, anything to get rid of the pain inside of them, any port in a storm. All of this is silently designed to keep the microscope away from them. To keep people from looking at what is really going on, and for the addict, to keep from having to part with their now beloved substance, behavior or “solution.” They are hooked, and they in one way or another hook everyone around them.

The cycle of self-medicating emotional or psychological pain such as depression or anxiety with drugs, alcohol or addictive behaviors gains traction and rolls through the generations. But no one knows quite what is happening or why.

Drug OD deaths nearly tripled since 1999, CDC says

Drug overdose deaths have nearly tripled in the United States since 1999, with whites and middle-aged Americans bearing much of the brunt, a new government report shows.

More than 16 out of every 100,000 Americans died of a drug overdose in 2015, compared to just over 6 in 1999, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found.

Heroin and other opioids accounted for about half of these deaths, a reflection of the damage wrought by the prescription painkiller epidemic this decade, said Dr. Edwin Salsitz, an addiction medicine specialist.

Overdose deaths are so common that they’re driving down the average life expectancy for white Americans, said Salsitz, who is with Mount Sinai Health System in New York City.

The CDC report, released Feb. 24, found that drug overdose deaths have risen among whites at a rate of about 7 percent each year, compared with 2 percent a year for blacks and Hispanics. The overdose death rate among whites in 2015 was nearly 3.5 times the rate it was in 1999.

“Life expectancy of whites in America is going down, whereas it’s not going down for other racial or ethnic groups,” Salsitz said. “Accounting for that lower life expectancy is the increased number of overdose deaths from opioids.”

Drug overdose deaths increased from 1999 to 2015 in all age groups, but adults aged 45 to 54 had the highest death rate — about 30 fatalities for every 100,000 people.

The report confirms what has been widely suspected about the progression of the prescription opioid crisis in the United States, said Salsitz and Lindsey Vuolo, an associate director at the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse.

Prescription drug abuse reached epidemic levels earlier this decade, prompting a crackdown by regulators, drug makers, pharmacists and physicians.

Closer prescription tracking made it harder for addicts to “doctor shop” for prescription opioids like morphine, oxycodone and codeine. Pharmaceutical companies also introduced tamper-resistant forms of the medications that couldn’t be crushed or altered in ways that provided a stronger, quicker hit for drug abusers, Salsitz explained.

But the success of those efforts prompted prescription drug addicts to switch to heroin, which is cheaper and more available on the street, Salsitz and Vuolo said. To make matters worse, drug dealers started cutting heroin with even cheaper and more potent synthetic opioids like fentanyl, further increasing the risk of overdose and death.

“Because heroin and synthetic opioids are cheaper than prescription opioids and more widely available in certain areas hit hard by the epidemic, a singular focus on reducing accessibility to prescription opioids misses the mark,” Vuolo said.

Heroin accounted for one-quarter of overdose deaths in 2015 — triple the rate in 2010, said report author Dr. Holly Hedegaard, a medical epidemiologist with the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics.

Other opioids — both synthetic and natural — such as oxycodone (OxyContin) and hydrocodone (Vicodin) accounted for another 24 percent of overdose deaths in 2015, down from 29 percent in 2010.

Four states — West Virginia, New Hampshire, Kentucky and Ohio — lead the nation with the highest overdose death rates, the CDC said.

Those states also have been identified as having high rates of death from fentanyl and other synthetic opioids, Vuolo added.

“This suggests that there is greater supply of synthetic opioids in certain areas and because they are more lethal than heroin or prescription opioids, they are contributing to the increases in overdose death rates,” Vuolo said.

To try to stop overdose deaths, access has been increased to naloxone (Narcan), a drug used to reverse an opioid overdose, Vuolo said.

But doctors are releasing people saved by naloxone directly from the hospital rather than steering them into drug treatment, leaving them vulnerable to another overdose, she said.

“There is a very high risk of overdose recurrence when an overdose is reversed but the individual is then released from medical care,” Vuolo said. By comparison, she noted, someone who has a heart attack receives extensive medical care to prevent it from happening again.

Vuolo and Salsitz said policy makers also need to take steps to make addiction-fighting medications like buprenorphine more easily available, so health professionals can treat the underlying drug habit.

Recently approved federal legislation will allow nurse practitioners and physician assistants to prescribe buprenorphine. “That’s going to really open up drug treatment, particularly in underserved areas,” Salsitz said.

 

Michael Lohan Fights to Help Drug Addicts

Lindsay Lohan’s father, Michael Lohan, thinks drug addicts should be forced to take opiate-blocking drugs.

In a letter to President Trump’s personal lawyer Michael Cohen, Lohan — a recovering addict and a counselor with the Long Island Teen Challenge rehabilitation program — wrote, “This epidemic is threatening our country far worse than the threat posed by Muslims trying to enter this country.”

“As a matter of fact, more people died this year alone due to drug use, alcoholism and the illegal things going on in the treatment industry than all the terroristic activities in the United States in the last 20 years,” wrote Michael Lohan, 56.

“All we’re doing is replacing illegal heroin sold by dealers with prescription heroin (Suboxone) written by doctors,” Lohan said. “Once they overdose, we hopefully bring them back to life with Narcan.” Then the addicts start abusing drugs again.

The best treatment is Naltrexone, a proven opiate- and alcohol-blocker, Lohan said. “Has the government ever even considered making compounds like Naltrexone mandatory as part of treatment plans? No!”

For more information contact Vivitrol  provider Dr. Steven Scanlan

Palm Beach Outpatient Detox
7251 W. Palmetto Park Rd.
Suite 204
Boca Raton, FL 33433
(561) 901-0040

Substance Abuse and Addiction Health Center

Benzodiazepine Abuse Overview

Commonly Abused Prescription and OTC DrugsBenzodiazepines are a type of medication known as tranquilizers. Familiar names include Valium and Xanax. They are some of the most commonly prescribed medications in the United States. When people without prescriptions obtain and take these drugs for their sedating effects, use turns into abuse.

Doctors may prescribe a benzodiazepine for the following legitimate medical conditions:

  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Alcohol withdrawal
  • Seizure control
  • Muscle relaxation
  • Inducing amnesia for uncomfortable procedures
  • Given before an anesthetic (such as before surgery)

Benzodiazepines act on the central nervous system, produce sedation and muscle relaxation, and lower anxiety levels.

Although more than 2,000 different benzodiazepines have been produced, only about 15 are currently FDA-approved in the United States. They are usually classified by how long their effects last.

  • Ultra-short acting – Midazolam (Versed), triazolam (Halcion)
  • Short-acting – Alprazolam (Xanax), lorazepam (Ativan)
  • Long-acting – Chlordiazepoxide (Librium), diazepam (Valium)

Benzodiazepines are commonly abused. This abuse is partially related to the toxic effects that they produce and also to their widespread availability. They can be chronically abused or, as seen more commonly in hospital emergency departments, intentionally or accidentally taken in overdose. Death and serious illness rarely result from benzodiazepine abuse alone; however, they are frequently taken with either alcohol or other medications. The combination of benzodiazepines and alcohol can be dangerous — and even lethal.

Benzodiazepines have also been used as a “date rape” drug because they can markedly impair and even abolish functions that normally allow a person to resist or even want to resist sexual aggression or assault. In recent years, the detection and conviction of people involved in this has increased dramatically. The drug is usually added to alcohol-containing drinks or even soft drinks in powder or liquid forms and can be hard to taste.

Benzodiazepine Abuse Causes

Although some people may have a genetic tendency to become addicted to drugs, there is little doubt that environmental factors also play a significant role. Some of the more common environmental influences are low socioeconomic status, unemployment, and peer pressure.

Benzodiazepine Abuse Symptoms

At normal or regular doses, benzodiazepines relieve anxiety and insomnia. They are usually well tolerated. Sometimes, people taking benzodiazepines may feel drowsy or dizzy. This side effect can be more pronounced with increased doses.

High doses of benzodiazepines can produce more serious side effects. Signs and symptoms of acute toxicity or overdose may include the following:

  • Drowsiness
  • Confusion
  • Dizziness
  • Blurred vision
  • Weakness
  • Slurred speech
  • Lack of coordination
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Coma

Signs of chronic drug abuse can be very nonspecific and include changes in appearance and behavior that affect relationships and work performance. Warning signs in children include abrupt changes in mood or deterioration of school performance. Chronic abuse of benzodiazepines can lead to the following symptoms that mimic many of the indications for using them in the first place:

  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Anorexia
  • Headaches
  • Weakness

Despite their many helpful uses, benzodiazepines can lead to physical and psychological dependence. Dependence can result in withdrawal symptoms and even seizures when they are stopped abruptly. Dependence and withdrawal occur in only a very small percentage of people taking normal doses for short periods. The symptoms of withdrawal can be difficult to distinguish from anxiety. Symptoms usually develop at 3-4 days from last use, although they can appear earlier with shorter-acting varieties.

New Year Drunkalogue

By Kim Wilson

I remember as a little girl waking up on the morning after my parents had a party the night before. I was usually in the company my elder brother and two boys of close family friends. The four of us (while parents still slept) would smoke the stumped-out cigarettes, drink the dregs left in the glasses and enjoy leftover pudding for breakfast. We hung out a lot together in those early years and it was like growing up with three elder brothers, not one.

When I came into Alcoholic Anonymous for the first time, at the age of twenty-five, I remember a statistic that one in four people were born alcoholics or would become alcoholic at some point in their life through consistent drinking. Looking back that the four little people having seemingly innocent childhood fun I was realized I was the one in four.

By the age of seven, I had identified alcohol as something special. I loved the ‘high’ feeling it gave me. My neurotransmitters fired off like most children on a fun fair ride, jumping in delight chanting, “let’s do it again!”. Which of course I did. Later as the years rolled on and the ‘fun’ increased those same brain synapses were beginning to get tired of the carnival.

For most addicts in adulthood, fun usually means trouble. That trouble can mean anyone of the following;

Fun = Police cell
Fun = Mental Health Institution
Fun = Hospital
Fun = Disgrace

Where ever the fun ended, it was never what we intended even if it was just a blackout and a hangover; the death of previously happy neurotransmitters. And that is where it all ends – the death of fun, enjoyment, vitality, progress and a passion for life. Desperation for the original glorious high keeps us soldering on with no knowledge that we are only just surviving.

Rock bottom will inevitably give us the reality check we need to identify the cause of all our ills. Usually with the help of someone who can explain it to us in the simplest of terms. Basic information together with a story that sounds much like our own coming from a seemingly happy and altogether person will usually be enough to get us to our first recovery meeting. What happens after that will be largely up to us.

Recovery came easily for me at first because I was so desperate. I knew (without knowing why) that what I was doing was going to end in death. My rock bottom clearly pointed to the culprit being alcohol but only in that if I drank again I could and probably would take my own life. Through others support and a program to follow, I got what I needed to get through each day one day at a time.

A year later there came a day I could not get through and had my famous three beer slip. That was fine it began and ended there. I took the crippling feeling of failure and put it to good use. I had failed because I needed to do more work on my anger issues and so that work began.

Four years later I drank again this time it did not stop straight away. There was a far larger problem looming than angry outbursts. I was going through a divorce and the rebound relationship I was in was not good. I had never been single and sober so learning how to do control the fear of being alone was my next challenge.

My third recovery relapse lasted ten years. There were many sober years during that time but my downfall was that I stopped going to meetings. I in effect stopped my recovery. All I had learned I had not lost but I was still in denial. I was not as patient or tenacious as I needed to be in my dealings with life on life’s terms whilst drinking even moderately. In hindsight, a low-level depression lay just below the surface for many years causing problems that could have been avoided had I gave my all to my personal growth and that of others.

I stopped dating and learned how to live alone but there was no one to share anything with and no one to help me grow as an individual. I single mildly perused religious activities in a desire to live Step Eleven to my best ability. Not seeing that God gave a Twelve Step program for a reason. One step no matter how honorable is not enough to live your life by.

Eventually, those years of denial caught up with me slowly and insidiously. The depression crept its way to the surface and I had to face the fact that my sadness and alcohol were once again connected. Disconnect from one and the other will become less of a crippling problem.

It’s been three years today, 29 December 2016. I am sober, and no longer allow depression to control me. Even though I still have to deal with it from time to time I am looking forward to the new year. I am sure 2017 it will contain all the challenges that this last year afforded me but I am confident that I will tackle each one in turn and succeed by getting through the year one day at a time, with meetings, with friends, with sobriety and by sharing my experience strength and hope with others. This year I will stick with the winners in recovery listen and learn from those fighting for a full life regardless whether they are one day sober or fifty years sober. I am in recovery.