Are people that are addicted to opiates weak?

Do people relapse on opiates because they are weak? Is the fact they can’t stop using because they lack willpower?

Let’s just look at what it takes to go into recovery.

When someone goes into recovery, they face withdrawal first. I can’t speak to this in first person because I’ve never been through it. But Charles had and it looked brutal. Those that finally go into recovery often have no money, no place to live, no car, and few possessions. They might have lost their job and spent time in jail.

The behavior related to their illness has sometimes estranged them from family, children and spouses. Since their old friends are people with whom they used, they have to separate themselves from these friends. And find new ones.

Withdrawal can have symptoms for a year or more. Brain rebound takes at least 18 months. Sufferers are constantly aware that a relapse can mean death. Then there is the shame and stigma associated with addiction and difficulty managing life due to their disease and have to learn those skills. There is often a co-occurring mental illness such as anxiety, bipolar or depression.

Add to that those in recovery can never have another substance or it could trigger the whole ugly cycle again in addition to a potentially life threatening relapse.

Given all that has to happen for someone to find and maintain recovery, “weak” is hardly a word I’d use to describe anyone going through it.

Dear Heroin, I F-ing HATE you!

Published by

Anne Moss Rogers

I am an emotionally naked TEDx speaker, and author of the Book, Diary of a Broken Mind. I raised two boys, Richard and Charles, and lost my youngest son, Charles to substance use disorder and suicide June 5, 2015. I help people foster a culture of connection to prevent suicide, reduce substance misuse and find life after loss. My motivational, training and workshop topics include suicide prevention, addiction, mental illness, and grief. As talented and funny as Charles was, letting other people know they matter was his greatest gift. And now the legacy I try and carry forward in my son's memory. Professional Speaker Website. Trained in ASIST and trainer for the evidence-based 4-hour training for everyone called safeTALK.

5 thoughts on “Are people that are addicted to opiates weak?”

  1. Say the words ‘addict’ or ‘addiction’ and most people immediately cringe. They envision a unkept, dirty person ready to stick a needle in their arm. They may never say it out loud but they have already judged the person to be worthless. In their mind, the ‘addict’ did this to themselves and doesn’t deserve any help, much less kindness or compassion. When our local news reported that policeman were now carrying Narcan, the drug that can reverse opioid overdoses, I heard the following comments: “What a waste of money! Whys should ‘those’ kind of people be helped? Why don’t they just let those ‘addicts’ die?”. Our society seems to differentiate between ‘acceptable’ and ‘unacceptable’ addictions. There are people addicted to smoking, addicted to overeating, addicted to unhealthy lifestyle choices, addicted to alcohol, and other substances. Not only does our society generally accept and tolerate these forms of addictions, we offer them programs, second chances,support, sympathy,etc. Those people are not condemned and shamed in the ways that those addicted to opioids are. Are people who develop diabetes from unhealthy eating and lifestyle choices forced to go to an insulin clinic every morning to receive their dose of insulin? Are recovering alcoholics denied kidney dialysis? Are those with heart issues due to years of unhealthy lifestyle choices denied necessary medication? Are smokers who develop cancer turned away from treatment or denied oxygen for badly damaged lungs? Are the morbidly obese left to rot in their beds surrounded by empty food containers? Many addicted to opioids became that way due to a doctor who prescribed the medication to them. It might have been prescribed after oral surgery or a sports injury or a back injury or a broken bone or injuries from an accident or or after major surgery. They trusted their doctors, the medical community and the pharmaceutical companies. These people did not just wake up one day and decide “I want to be an opioid addict”. Without even knowing it, for some people, taking that first dose of Oxycontin was setting up a chemical reaction in their body that would become a beast needing to be fed over and over an over again~a beast that will not be controlled. Sadly for some, they feel suicide as their only way to finally control the beast. When opioid addicts ask for help they are faced with judgement, criticism, disgust and a ‘system’ that is overloaded, understaffed and underfunded.
    If people only knew that the man in the business suit ahead of them in line at Starbucks had just come from the methadone clinic, maybe, just maybe they might consider the “opioid addict’ could just as easily be the neighbor next door. Anne, I am so sorry that your son died. My hope is that by honoring him with this blog , combined with your outreach efforts, will result in people gaining more awareness,understanding and compassion. There is value in what you are doing!

    1. Thank you for your passion and your education. You are singing to the choir! Do share the post. The title alone will inspire those on the fence to come on over and read. And the comments here are read as often as the posts. So thank you for yours. It will reach others.

  2. Sobriety, for someone with addictions, is the hardest condition. Getting and remaining sober and clean is a beautiful picture of strength but it is all too fragile. And substances are so strong… They so need our support, don’t they?

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