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Drug Wars – A New Hope

December 21, 2015

I went and saw Star Wars this weekend and left the theater satisfied  knowing that the direction and future of my beloved movie series seems to be in good hands under the new regime of Disney and company.  Better yet, that’s the feeling I am getting on Michael Botticelli; who along with the new Star […]

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Scott Weiland R.I.P.

December 5, 2015

Unfortunately Scott Weiland was as famous for being a drug addict as he was for being the lead singer of two great bands, the Stone Temple Pilots and Velvet Revolver.  He goes now to the great gig in the sky… I hope. He tried many times to get his demons under control, succeeding at taming them for brief periods, but sadly, in the end […]

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TDA Halloween Challenge

October 31, 2015

This creepy 35 second Hanna Barbera anti-drug PSA has the best catchphrase ever at the end. Happy Halloween!!!

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TDA Advocacy Update: 2009 National Recovery Month

August 17, 2009

The Discovering AlcoholicI spent lunch with the Director of the Shelby County Treatment Center (SCTC) developing an outline for a program we intend to host for local law enforcement and politicians. We want to raise awareness and provide education on medically assisted recovery and dispel some of the myths and misconceptions many have about the program in our community.

I consider my participation in preparation and as host for the event as my annual project for National Recovery Month, and an important part of my role as a recovery advocate. We plan to walk participants through an explanation of the program and relevant terms, then demonstrate the intake process and the phases of treatment, and then finish it off with a FAQ and Q and A. It should be fun and informative; I’ll try to make some of the presentation material available online as it is developed.

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Amy Winehouse: Future is Back to Black

June 18, 2009

Effects of Methadone With Alcohol — powered by

Amy Winehouse has been the subject of many posts here on TDA, but for the last few months she has not graced the front page. I had hoped that meant she was working a quiet recovery, unfortunately though it seems she is still knocking intently on death’s door.

Winehouse Is ‘In Denial’ About Alcoholism
Winehouse’s father, Mitch, recently revealed the singer has been making good progress on a drug replacement program, but she has been drinking heavily to compensate.

Check out the great little video above, alcohol and methadone is a lethal mix yet obviously Amy and even her father consider the practice just a little backsliding.

He adds (dad), “For the last six months, there’s been a remarkable recovery, a gradual recovery, which is good. With slight backward steps — not drug backward steps, more drink backward steps, if you follow my drift. I think that will be the pattern of recovery.”

Alcohol is a contributing factor in the overdose deaths of many who abuse methadone or are on a maintenance program, people go to bed and instead of sleep they get the eternal dirt nap. Talking to the clinic director where I volunteer, she says the effects are not predictable- that the same amount ingested repeatedly can become lethal without warning.

It seems that possibly bright future I had hoped the talented Ms Winehouse was working on has once again gone back to black. Good luck Amy, you gonna need it!

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Rating the Response to Prescription Drug Abuse in Shelby County

May 29, 2009

original graphic and story by the Shelby County Reporter now at The Discovering Alcoholic

Prescription drug abuse and associated deaths have skyrocketed in my local area over the past few years and fortunately many of our public and private professionals have stepped up to the plate by raising awareness and offering solutions. There are few notable exceptions though, so I figured this recent and informative article on the issue by the Shelby County Reporter would be a great time to rate some of the responses I have seen from my local community.

Shelby County Drug Court: Offering well monitored treatment and a chance for recovery as an alternative to incarceration and recidivism, I have witnessed the positive results of the drug court in person. Many of the people addicted to prescription drug pills become so in a prescribed legit fashion only turning to illicit behavior as the addiction progresses- we need to have more than “just jail”. This is a great program that not only gives a second chance, but provides the tools to take advantage of the opportunity.

State Senator Hank Irwin: A man of faith, it is unfortunate that he has to rely upon only this and his many prejudices instead of the facts when it comes to medically assisted recovery (MAR), a critical tool for those suffering with prescription medication (mostly pain killers) addiction. He has been a constant opponent of MAR and clearly has a problem separating opinion from facts.

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What to Do When an Alcoholic/Opioid Drug Addict Needs Surgery and Pain Meds?

May 15, 2009

Thank you author and speaker Lisa Frederiksen of Breaking the Cycles for this regular series sharing her decades long experience of dealing with family alcoholism and alcohol abuse. Click here to see the rest of the series.

Breaking the Cycles at The Discovering Alcoholic

At a recent meeting, one of the discussions was about living in fear of what would happen if a recovering opioid drug addict or opioid drug addict with the co-addiction of alcoholism had to have surgery and needed pain medications. Would that be the trigger that set them off down the road of addiction, again? Following this meeting, I came across Join Together’s news summary, SAMHSA and FDA Launch Methadone Education Campaign. This campaign is what we need!

Quoting from the campaign program site, this is a “public awareness campaign to deliver the message to consumers that methadone is a safe and effective treatment for opioid addiction and pain management when taken as directed.” Click here to download the campaign brochure.

So, please…pass this along to those with a loved one who is recovering from an opioid drug addiction or co-addiction with alcoholism. One never knows when surgery will be necessary and this will prepare them for how best to handle the pain without triggering a relapse.

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Legal and Regulated: Our Two Worst Drug Problems

April 14, 2009

Florida is not alone when it comes to the problem of prescription drug abuse, in much of the country it has passed the abuse of all illicit drugs only topped on the stats list by king alcohol. These are legal, heavy regulated drugs- yet their rate of abuse is skyrocketing.

Legal and regulated: Key words used often by legalization proponents but they also are descriptive of the top two problems in our country, alcohol and prescription drugs. How about the other half of the legalization talking points, treating abuse as a medical problem and promoting education and treatment instead of jail?

Well alcohol seems to be the preferred fuel for crime and violence these days, so even with treatment jail will always be part of this equation. Then there is the way the general public views one of the most effective treatments for prescription opiate addiction, methadone treatment. This quote below is from the District Attorney Randall Houston who vilifies this proposed treatment center in my locale and then literally crows about the community resistance to treatment.

“Without a doubt, he made the appropriate decision in denying the appeal of the Chilton County Methadone Treatment Facility,” he said yesterday. “This lengthy process took cooperation from all levels to include political leaders and community citizens. It just goes to show that when concerned citizens work together, the good guys do sometimes finish first.” ~ Clanton Advertiser

The worst drug problems we face in America are both legal and regulated, until we can get a handle on these the legalization crowd is putting the cart before the horse.

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A Surprise Inside

April 12, 2009

Shelby County Treatment Center Happy Easter at The Discovering Alcoholic

Several years ago my small town paper asked me to do a story on the Shelby County Treatment Center, a newly opened methadone clinic. To be honest, I was quite amazed that the clinic director had an open door policy. She invited me down to see the facility without hesitation even though most of the press they had garnered so far had been either bad or just outright lies. Up to that point I personally had a poor opinion of methadone treatment, like most of the general public though, I was ignorant of the facts- especially regarding this particular treatment facility

When I walked in that day to see what really happened at the clinic, I found a very pleasant surprise.

Flash forward to the present. His and her castles and a big Scooby Doo decorate the front lawn, you can smell the popcorn from the road, endless hot dogs are coming off the grill, and a host of kids frantically search the back lot for Easter eggs each with a surprise inside. Even though the weather didn’t exactly cooperate, the face painting, pictures with the Easter bunny, and a plethora of bubbles made the children happy- no sunshine needed… and none of it would have happened if their parents weren’t in recovery. Yeah, we are talking about the same place, surprised?

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Methadone: Don’t Look Now!

February 2, 2009

Original pic by mediaboytodd now at The Discovering AlcoholicMethadone. It makes people absolutely stupid. I’m not talking about those taking it for treatment of pain or addictions, but instead those that protest its use. Take this news story for example highlighted by the ever diligent ARM-Me Blog about an Indiana methadone clinic advertising its services on a highway billboard. ARM-ME is an advocacy site that I am proud to call a blog friend and they ran this story because of its overall positive spin- but it still bothered me that the journalist who wrote the article had to include a “known fact”.

Although the advertising could also attract drug dealers who see the clinic as a concentrated base of clients, Arlt said she wasn’t too worried because of the clinic’s numerous indoor and outdoor cameras. ~ Post-Tribune

Don’t look now Ms Media, but if you have addicts that means you already have drug dealers (be careful here, they may even have a stethoscope). Trust me on this one- the clinic did not locate there because the community lacks a drug problem. The only thing the treatment center might do is actually lessen the demand!

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Methadone Madness in North Carolina

January 25, 2009

Methadone Madness at The Discovering Alcoholic

Back in the day those much cooler than I would call a pick-up game of basketball dribbling the pill, it was an impressive use of street slang for small town Alabama but it did little to enhance their actual effectiveness on the court. The phrase came to mind this morning as I read a news story about baby faced Nikolas Ramiro, who is being charged with murder for supplying the methadone that killed his best friend in an overdose.

Better known for its teams participation in March Madness, North Carolina has more recently developed a reputation for its growing problem of methadone abuse. The state ranks at the top for overdose deaths in methadone, check out the maps in this NDIC report on methadone diversion and abuse. Obviously NC has a problem and steps need to be taken, but charging a kid with murder for another’s voluntary ingestion of an illegally acquired substance is just madness. Just like the NBA wannabe’s of my past, these particular authorities in NC seem more interested in looking like they are combating the problem rather than actually taking effective steps.

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Letting Go of the Monkey Bars

January 7, 2009

Original photo by stjnky now at The Discovering Alcoholic

My battle with the laptop nasties earlier this week has left me playing catch-up with work. Long work hours mean late night blog posts. Finding myself behind the eight ball, short on time, and staring at the computer it’s unfortunate that I have a penchant for compounding the not enough hours in the day problem with indiscriminate surfing. I did however run across a blog of substance called Drugmonkey– incidentally proving the wired version of the infinite monkey theorem that states even a semi-intelligent recovering alcoholic will run across a worthy article given enough time. The post and comments that caught my attention were semantic not simian in nature discussing the finer points of the language of addiction.

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Beyond Recovery?

November 28, 2008

Heroin Addiction at The Discovering AlcoholicSwitzerland voters will decide this week whether or not to continue dispensing prescription heroin to addicts deemed “beyond recovery”. The first of its kind, the harm minimization program was developed over a decade ago and has since been tried by the Germans, Dutch, and Canadians. The program was started for those that repeatedly showed no progress in treatment, including methadone maintenance.

Instead of trying to condone or condemn this type of end-of-the-road treatment, I would like instead to pass on a topic that deserves pondering. Is there such a thing as being beyond recovery? Is harm minimization just giving up? Don’t answer too quickly. Remember there are people who fight addictions all their life, only to draw out their own misery while jeopardizing the safety, property, and lives of those around them. Consider also that group of people who administer these types of programs, the ones who have decided they will not give up on those that have been written off by all, including themselves.

Knowing that most in this program will fail, overdose, and harm others- can they in good conscious end it?

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Medically Assisted Recovery: No Meth Around

November 14, 2008

photo by pescatello at The Discovering AlcoholicI had lunch today with a very smart and successful person that asked about my volunteer work at the “meth clinic”. As an advocate for medically assisted recovery, I was facing double trouble; he was obviously confused and really didn’t know much about it, but that hadn’t stopped him from having a low opinion of such establishments.

It’s a common misconception for the general public to confuse methadone with methamphetamines, but when people abbreviate the words down to “meth” even I get confused. I give credit where it’s due though, once this individual was made aware of the differences between the two and the benefits of medically assisted recovery he did express his support.

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A Paradigm Shift in Drug Abuse

September 15, 2008

A Paradigm Shift in Drug Abuse- photo by snackfightIt comes as no surprise to me that Dr. Nora Volkow, director of National Institute on Drug Abuse and one of my personal idols, stated there has been a “paradigm shift” in substance abuse commenting on a study this month that shows prescription drugs have passed marijuana as the gateway drug choice of our youth.

I have seen the writing on the wall for many years now and nowhere is it more apparent than the ever increasing stream of patients into the local methadone clinic where I volunteer. Over ninety percent of those I see come are not heroin addicts, but instead they are addicted to opioid prescription pain killers Loritab, Vicoden, Oxycontin, and Dilaudid. Go ahead and throw in the benzo’s like Xanax and Valium into the mix of problems because that is what most addicts (and alcoholics) con their doctors out of by describing their depression while leaving out the fact they have a raging addiction.

Dr. Volkow mentioned this paradigm shift in abuse and treatment, but I feel there is one more important aspect of this situation she left out.

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