Opioid Recovery Stories
Opioid use disorder is a very serious disease. Drugs like prescription narcotics, fentanyl, and heroin are highly addictive, and any misuse can quickly lead to addiction. Addiction can cause significant problems, like job loss, money problems, illnesses, and damaged relationships. It can also easily lead to fatal overdoses. There is a lot of bad news about opioids, addiction, and overdose, but there is good news too: treatment is available and effective, and it leads to many hopeful stories of recovery.
Prescription pain relievers like hydrocodone, synthetic opioids like fentanyl, and the illicit, controlled substance heroin belong to this class of drugs that has caused so much destruction throughout the last couple of decades. Stories of opioid tragedies are all too common, but there are also stories of hope. For everyone who dies from an opioid overdose or drug use complication, there are more we never hear about who are beating this disease. These are a few of their opioid recovery stories.
The opioid addiction problem has truly reached epidemic proportions. So many people have fallen victim to the prescription opioids and heroin, becoming quickly addicted, and in too many cases suffering from accidental, fatal overdoses. A few facts make it clear how bad the problem is:
- The opioid crisis began in the 1990s as physician prescriptions of narcotics increased.
- Another increase in addiction and overdoses began in 2010, as heroin use became more prevalent.
- In 2013, yet another sharp increase occurred as a result of an increase in the use of synthetic opioids, especially the very potent fentanyl.
- Approximately 130 people die each day from an opioid-related overdose in the U.S.
- Nearly a quarter of people prescribed opioid drugs will misuse them.
- Most people who abuse heroin first misused opioid prescriptions.
- In 2017, there were 70,237 drug overdose deaths in the U.S., and opioids were involved in 47,600 of them.
- The states with the biggest increases in opioid overdose deaths from 2016 to 2017 are West Virginia, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Kentucky.
Surviving an Opioid Overdose – Andy S.
“I first started using opioids in high school. We popped pills at parties and assumed it was no big deal. They were prescription drugs, so how dangerous could they be? At first I only used them at parties, but then I bought some from a friend who stole a bottle of Lorcet from his aunt’s bathroom. I liked how the pills made me feel, so I started using them on the weekends.
By the time I graduated high school, my grades had gotten pretty bad and I just barely made it through. My parents were mad, but they didn’t know that drugs had anything to do with it. I got a job and moved out after fighting with them. I first realized drugs really were a problem when I couldn’t get any pills and I started to go through withdrawal. I asked a friend and managed to get some heroin.
That first attempt at using heroin nearly killed me. I overdosed in a park. A friend there with me called 911 and then ran. The paramedics found me in time, thankfully, and gave me a shot of Narcan. My parents picked me up from the hospital the next day and sent me to rehab immediately.
I didn’t even get a chance to argue that I didn’t need rehab. I mean, it was my first time trying heroin. But I did know I had a problem— I just thought I could solve it on my own. I don’t know what would have happened if I had tried, but I’m glad I didn’t. Rehab was hard work, but I came out feeling really strong in my recovery. I went back home and started taking classes at the community college nearby. After a semester, I transferred to the university I always thought I would go to. Thanks to that quick paramedic and rehab, I have my future back.
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Living My Best Life in Recovery – Katelynn S.
“I have been in recovery for almost six months now, but I almost lost my life to pills and heroin. I started using pills in my 20s, when I had a really stressful job and felt like I needed an escape on the weekends. Weekend use escalated to weeknights and everyday use.
I got hooked on pills, using them more often, even though I knew I shouldn’t. I kept craving drugs while at work, which really hurt my performance. I also stopped running, which at one time had been my way to relieve stress, and I wasn’t hanging out with my old friends anymore. I had new friends, those who gave me pills, and eventually heroin.
I never actually overdosed, but the big wakeup call came one night when used heroin I got from someone I didn’t know and passed out in an alley. I woke up alone and cold, having no idea what had happened. That terrified me, and I turned to an old friend that day to ask for help.
Even though I had neglected this friendship for nearly a year, she was there for me. She helped me find a rehab to go to and even came to visit during my three-month stay. In treatment, I learned that what I thought was a great life was really just me barely hanging on. I got back into running, enjoyed making art in creative therapies, and really benefited from the other people in my therapy groups. We shared our experiences, and I felt less alone.
Now, I have been out of rehab for about six months and, while I sometimes have a rough patch, I haven’t relapsed. I don’t even drink. My old friends were thrilled to have me back, and it was a relief to have true friends again, not just people who gave me drugs. I got a new job that I love, and I truly am living my best life in recovery.”
There Is Hope with Treatment
Stories of recovery are numerous, but we don’t often hear about them in the news. Instead, we hear about all the terrible endings when people die from the disease of opioid addiction. It is important to know that there is hope. Treatment for opioid use disorder is available and it is effective.
Effective treatment is lengthy, about three months, but this time is needed to truly find firm footing in recovery. Treatment for opioid use disorder is individualized and addresses all the needs of each patient. It includes evidence-based strategies like behavioral therapies and medications.
If you or someone you care about is struggling with opioid addiction, treatment is available. Reach out for help, offer assistance, and find the right treatment center for your needs. There is hope for recovery. Everyone suffering because of opioids has a chance at recovery, but it depends on getting good care.
Alta Mira offers comprehensive treatment for people struggling with drug and alcohol addiction as well as co-occurring mental health disorders and process addictions. Contact us to learn more about our renowned Bay Area programs and how we can help you or your loved one start the journey toward lasting recovery.