Addiction is a major issue in 21st century American, and Cavendish is no exception. Those most often affected-family, friends and the person themselves-can struggle with little support, resources or understanding. In order to address that in our town, Cavendish Connects is running a three part series, providing local resources, information and answering questions that people may have.
National data shows that Vermont has one of the highest percentages of illicit (illegal) drug use in the country and is referred to as “America’s Heroin Capital” because of its high incidence of opioid use.
Because of the north/west route of 91, as well as the Internet, Vermonters have easy access to drugs of all types, not just opioids and heroin. Other factors include proximity to major cities, cheap prices, resort areas, rural , poverty, lack of jobs, long winters etc. And yes, evidence of needle use is very prevalent in Cavendish, with people reporting syringes in a number of places in town.
Drugs like heroin are highly addictive with the brain being altered in hundreds of different ways in a very short time frame. No ones’ life ambition is to become an addict.
Since the 1930s, when researchers first began to study addictive behavior, the belief was that that people who developed addictions were somehow morally flawed or lacking in willpower. Thanks to brain imaging and other techniques, addiction is now recognized as a chronic disease that changes the structure and chemistry of the brain, much in the same way cardiovascular disease damages the heart.
Once the brain is “hijacked” by the drug-be it opioid, heroin, alcohol, and even gambling, gaming or shopping-there is a craving for the object of addiction, an inability to control the craving and little to no regard for consequences. Not surprising, people go through multiple rehabs and go right back to using drugs because they can’t control the craving.
As frightening as this sounds, thanks to neuroscience, the damage done by drugs/addiction can now be studied and just as the brain is rewired to desire drugs, research is focusing on how to reboot the brain to stop cravings. Today drugs like Naltrexone and Buprenorphine (Suboxone) are helping to make a difference in successful recovery.
WHY DO SOME PEOPLE BECOME ADDICTED AND OTHERS DON’T?: Risk for addiction is influenced by a combination of factors that include individual biology, social environment, and age or stage of development. Genetic factors account for about half of addiction vulnerability. A person’s social and cultural environment plays a role. The risk of addiction goes up for children of alcoholics or drug addicts. Children of parents who abused drugs are 45 to 79 percent more likely to abuse drugs themselves than the general population. Young men compared to women are more likely to use as are those aged 18-24. Individuals who suffer from bipolar disorder, depression, or other mental illnesses are more likely to partake in substance abuse — whether it’s drugs, painkillers, or alcohol-often in an attempt to self-medicate. The more risk factors you have, the greater your chance for addiction.
IS MARIJUANA ADDICTIVE? Yes. Approximately 10 percent of users may develop what is called a marijuana use disorder—problems with their health, school, friendships, family or other conflicts in their life. People who begin using marijuana before the age of 18 are 4–7 times more likely than adults to develop a marijuana use disorder. Learn more
KNOW THE SIGNS OF AN OVERDOSE & HOW TO RESPOND
Signs of an overdose: Slow breathing; Blue lips; Unresponsive, unconscious
Take action: Call 9-1-1 and give your location. Say something like "my friend is unconscious and I can't wake him up" or "my friend isn't breathing",
• Start rescue breathing.
• Administer Narcan Download the VT Health Dept’s Overdose Rescue Kit How to give nasal naloxone for suspected opioid overdose
IMPORTANT – You must call 9-1-1 after giving Narcan if emergency services have not already been contacted. You are immune from civil or criminal liability for giving Narcan so long as you do not act recklessly, with gross negligence or intentional misconduct.
WHERE TO GET NARCAN Called Opioid Overdose Prevention & Reversal Project, the VT Health Department gives out Narcan® that can easily reverse an overdose. When sprayed into the nose of a person who has overdosed, the medication blocks the opioids and restores normal breathing. To work, it must be administered as quickly as possible after an overdose. Narcan® is safe and easy to use. EMS and some police carry this medication. Family, friends and contacts of someone who could overdose can also get this medication from one of the partner community distribution sites. The closest distribution center to Cavendish is Turning Point Recovery Center of Springfield (7 Morgan ST. 802-885-4668.) For other locations, go to Find Naloxone.
WHERE TO GO FOR TREATMENT: If you are in immediate need call of text 911. You can also call the ADAP program at 802-651-1550. Note that ADAP can provide information and referrals during normal working hours Monday-Friday. However, they do monitor calls received at other times and do respond. You can also call 2-1-1
There are two views of thought about how to help those who are addicted: fix the faulty chemistry or rewire the brain through medication or techniques like mindfulness with psychological support or use medication as an adjunct to reduce craving and the pain of withdrawal while supporting the person to do the psychological work needed to do the recovery. Because people respond differently, there is no one approach that is guaranteed to work for everyone.
Keep in mind that while there is a lot of media attention to heroin and opioids there are many other drugs people are using, e.g. cocaine, Darvon, Fentanyl as well as ordering drugs on-line from places like China, where the contents may be unknown. Therefore before trying to “detox,” or quite “cold turkey,” check with someone that understands drug addiction, such as the providers at the Ludlow Health Center or calling VT ADAP (Alcohol & Drug Abuse Program) 802-651-1550. They can help direct you to the correct facility for “detox” and treatment. Learn the facts about the most commonly abused drugs from the National Institute on Drug Abuse’s Drugs of Abuse.
The Care Alliance for Opioid Addiction: Also referred to as the Hub & Spoke system, the Care Alliance for Opioid Addiction is a statewide partnership of clinicians and treatment centers that provide medication- assisted therapy to Vermonters who are addicted to opioids. The Care Alliance uses a Hub (treatment facility) & Spoke (physician-led team) model to make sure that each patient's care is effective and coordinated, and is supported by the nurses and counselors who work to connect each person with community-based support services. There are currently seven sites with the closest to Cavendish being:
• West Ridge Center for Addiction Recovery: 1 Scale Ave., Bldg 10 Rutland 802-776-5800
Habit OPCO: 254 Plainfield Rd, West Lebanon 603-298-2146
Brattleboro Retreat 1 Anna Marsh Ln, Brattleboro 802-258-3700
Habit OPCO 16 Town Crier Dr., Brattleboro 802-258-4624
Short term Residential Treatment Programs: Short-term residential programs provide a living environment with treatment services. Several models of residential treatment (such as the therapeutic community) exist. Treatment in these programs is determined by medical need, and usually last 30 days or less.
• Brattleboro Retreat 800-738-7328
• Phoenix House Vermont 888-671-9392
• Recovery House Inc: Detoxification (medically assisted), Residential Treatment and Halfway House in Wallingford 802-446-2640
• Valley Vista, Bradford VT: Programs for adolescents, men or women
Inpatient Treatment Inpatient treatment, provided in special units of hospitals or medical clinics, offers both detoxification and acute medical and/or mental health services. People who have a severe mental disorder or serious medical problems in addition to a substance use disorder are the people most likely to receive inpatient treatment. The length of stay varies by condition but rarely exceeds seven days.
• Brattleboro Retreat 800-738-7328
• Phoenix Houses of New England/Brattleboro/ Bellows Falls/Rise Program: Counseling including cognitive behavioral therapy, motivational enhancement therapy and marital and family counseling.
• Clara Martin Center-Quitting Time: Locations in Wilder and Randolph 802-295-1311
• Evergreen Services Rutland 802-747-3588
• Health Care & Rehabilitation Services of Southeastern VT: Treats Adolescents Locations in Springfield (802-886-4500 and Hartford. 802-295-3031 Crisis 800-622-4235
• Starting Now: Outpatient program of the Brattleboro Retreat 802-258-3705
• Turning Point Recovery Center: Springfield (802-885-4668) and White River Junction 802-295-5206
• There are a variety of on-line support groups On line
MORE PROBLEMS THAN JUST DRUGS: It is not uncommon for people with addiction issues to be using multiple substances as well as having mental health conditions. Called “dual diagnosis,” by treating both the substance use and mental health conditions, the chances increase that the person will recover and lead a life that reflects their individual goals and values.
• Brattleboro Retreat 802-258-3700
I’M TRYING TO HELP SOMEONE WITH A DRUG PROBLEM: Whether it’s a family member, friend, neighbor, work colleague or community member, there are things you can do to help them and things to avoid that can aid them in their addiction:
• Offer support for the person to make positive changes, driving them to treatment and/or support group, attending therapy with them, exercising with them etc.
• Express love when articulating concern.
• Offer to help the person find treatment such as medically supervised detox, rehabilitation program, support groups. (For local resources check the Where to Go for Treatment section)
• Know that recovery is an ongoing process.
• Set clear boundaries if the person refuses help.
• Become involved in a program of recovery. NAR-ANON Family Group Families Anonymous are invaluable resources. It is often too difficult to stop the enabling process without help and support from those who have been down this road. Join a group, and draw on their experience, strength, and hope.
• Enable or cover for their addiction. There is a big difference between Helping- doing something for someone that they are not capable of doing themselves and Enabling-doing for someone things that they could and should be doing themselves.
• Make excuses for the drug related behavior
• Lie to cover up for their behavior
• Bail them out or pay their legal fees; pay other bills that the person was suppose to pay or loan them money.
• Give them chance after chance
• Make threats (e.g. such as leave) and then not carry through
• Rescue them
Take the test Are you Enabling an Alcoholic or Addict.
Interventions can be a successful way to get help. An intervention is about the group showing support for their loved one to get treatment to overcome their drug addiction. It is also a way for everyone who loves the person to support each other in facing their fears about changing the relationship. The group gathers to express concern, using specific examples, about their loved one’s behavior and health. They offer support for treatment in specific ways. They also set boundaries and clear consequences if the person refuses to get help. If you are interested in staging an intervention, use the resources below to help in the planning.
Keep in mind that there are tough choices that need to be made, even if the person using seeks help and goes into treatment. The dynamics of the family, social groups and relationships change when a person is going through treatment and/or achieves sobriety.
• Vermont Recovery Network: The Vermont Recovery Network is a non-profit organization that supports the provision of recovery support services for people who have experienced problems resulting from drug and alcohol use. Although our member centers all provide the space for various 12 step meetings and other peer to peer recovery support groups, they are not affiliated with any of these groups.
• Alternatives to Opioids There are various options for pain relief that do not involve opioids.
• Drug Guide: Comprehensive and up to date source of drug information. Includes pictures.
• The Daily Pledge: The Daily Pledge is a free, online social community, made possible by the Hazelden Betty Ford Institute for Recovery Advocacy, that provides a source of support and fellowship to those touched by or concerned about the disease of addiction. The Daily Pledge provides healthy daily activities on the home page, which are viewable to all who might benefit from seeing others "recover out loud." Access to safe and private discussions, online meetings, live chat and more.
• What is Marijuana from the National Institute on Drug Abuse for Teens