Heroin Support Blog

Our goal here is to provide our readers with the latest information about the signs of heroin addiction, support groups, treatment options, life in recovery, prevention & advocacy in our communities, and how to deal with grief of a lost loved one. If you have ideas or suggestions that you wish to share with us here please use our "Contact Us" page to email us.

Do You Know What Heroin Addiction Is Really Like???

EyeOfAnAddict

Hi, this is the first time I've put this all into writing. My name is John and I'm in love with a recovering addict. A little about me first. Just a short while ago those words would have been bizarre coming from me. I was a single dad (my son lives with me) he was 12 When i met her. I was an EMT for over 20 years with 3 OD /CPR saves under my belt, so clearly i knew what this whole addiction / sudo epidemic thing was all about (Ha, what a joke).

When I met her she was not an active addict. She told me that she had abused pills in the past but she got treated. Ok, so a "yellow" flag went up and was soon forgotten. Clearly she was cured. (Most of you are laughing right now) She owned her own home, car, was a single parent herself, had a great job (almost 6 figures). So, whatever had happened was clearly resolved. Besides, she was beautiful inside and out. The most gentle soul. Her favorite hobbies were crafting and sewing. We fell in love hard and fast. It wasn't long and she moved in with me. Her teenage son wanted nothing to do with this. This was a lot of uncertain change beyond his control. To me, it didn't seem like too big of a deal "we'll work it out". I said. I figured when you're in love, things will work out one way or the other. I was clueless and completely unprepared for what was about to happen.


She confided in a "less than" friend about some of the stresses she was dealing with, and knowing her past, offered her a synthetic pain killer that she didn't have to worry about getting addicted to. (Clearly more to this story, but that's not relevant right now). This went on for a short time before it was revealed that it was heroin. But, it was too late. She was hooked. Ashamed and hooked, she kept her secret hidden for a while. I knew something was off but, I just couldn't put my finger on it. She started missing work, she was gone strange hours, sleeping a lot, becoming distant in general. Of course not being able to pull one over on me, I figured it out. She must be cheating on me. Crying and full of shame she swore to me that's not what it was. Of course with no plausible explanation I didn't believe her.

(Pause: rewind... I'm an EMT. I recognize drug abuse from 100 feet away. I know the signs. I can tell you what people are abusing with pretty good accuracy. My spidy senses never kicked in.) Before long, she stopped coming home. But I didn't care. I was mad. Cheat on me will you? However, I was currently stuck with her 2 dogs, 2 cats, all of her belongings, and oh yeah.... Her teenage son. So, with her phone shut off, Not knowing exactly where she was....I emailed her. Boy did I let her have it. I laid it on thick. How dare she abandoned her responsibilities on me. All I got in response was "I'm sorry". That wasn't good enough by far. But, it wasn't the response I was expecting. I had been far too mean and sarcastic. It was dawning on me that something was askew. So the next email I changed my tone. I wanted to start a dialog. This time she responded. "I messed up. I'm hooked on heroin. The kind you inject. I'm so sorry. I love you".

What?! How? No! B.S!, confusion, denial anger. But, if that's true..... I missed the signs. I was all wrong. What do i do now? She made a bad decision, but she doesn't deserve to die for it. I know how to handle an overdose but I had no idea how to handle this.

My world was spinning out of control. I decided to immerse myself in this heroin addiction thing. What it was. What is heroin. How it works. Why it happens. How to fix it. I wanted a solid understanding of what it was. So I googled it. I went to forums for users, for addicts in recovery. I went to doctors and nurses. They had the same understanding about addiction that I did. (That's a huge part of the problem, the front line of the war on drugs doesn't understand what it really means to be addicted) keep in mind, something like 5 out of 7 opiate addicts started with doctor oversight. I talked to recovering addicts. Finally, some useful insight. I talked to active users. I listened to every word like they were my professor and I was cramming for finals. I talked to recovery counselors. (They are the first professionals in this battle that actually grasp the problem). I learned that quitting heroin is brutal. I'd come to see it first hand. The sweats, anxiety, mood swings, graduating to restless legs and arms. That's about the time electricity shoots through the bones. The excruciating pain. The grief, and shame. The insomnia and nausea. Desperately trying anything to bring relief. Truly believing that happiness may never be felt again. Sometimes feeling a loss hope. If a terrorist were subjected to this, it would be considered inhumane.

One thing kept coming to the forefront. This is their addiction. It will have to be their recovery. She needs to want it or it will all be for nothing. I can't force her. But don't count me out of the picture yet. I can learn how to be a healthy part of her recovery. How to encourage. How not to enable. How to draw the line in the sand and stick to it. I can go to meetings and learn the steps. Boy did that backfire. I'm not the addicted one but, apparently I needed to make some personal changes (before my flaws were pointed out, I was pretty sure I was close to prefect). I learned that some of my actions weren't healthy in this relationship and they couldn't continue. I had to do some deep soul searching be honest with myself. But, if she is willing to get help, I'll do it. Whatever it takes.

Finally weeks had gone by and I had been able to keep some dialog going through the emails. Several other events occurred in the meantime, but I'll save that for the movie, lol. Suffice it to say, the police may or may not have been involved and I may have made a few mistakes along the way. (Note: don't waste your time being vindictive to their supplier. It may feel good, but it takes away from the objective).

She finally said the words......"I'm in over my head. I need help but I'm scared". I told her "don't worry, I have a plan" and she said "ok". Well, That was music to my ears. Now i just had to come up with a plan. What i came up with was a good solid plan. Unfortunately it ended up requiring about 18 contingency plans. There were times when faith was thin (to put it mildly) on both sides. Ultimately in order to detox without her supplier walking and taking her out knowing she was still too vulnerable to resist and the staff taking the cavalier attitude of "well, that's what addicts do".

We decided to go out of state and detox in a motel room for two weeks. (Not highly recommended even though it worked for her. I can not stress enough that this is not for the faint of heart). It was nothing short of cruel. But, she was determined. She truly believed it was this or death. With the heroin out of her system. Clear headed (more than she had been in a while) We were able to get her into a very helpful inpatient program back home and drove straight there. This was not the end of the struggle by far. The battle continued for some time to come.

During this ordeal I watched her resolve herself to die rather than face the shame of what she'd done. I had her family members tell me things like "don't walk away from her.... run" , she's just being selfish, if she dies I'd like to have her photo albums. They turned their backs on her because she made her selfish decision. She hadn't done anything to them. Not borrowed money, not stolen, pawned or pilfered. Inconvenienced them in no way. But, because of the stigma, of this dark mysterious "H" word, turned their backs on her. Police made it clear that they will not go out on a limb for a junkie. Admitting that it was less of a liability to wait until they overdosed and just do the paperwork. The general consensus amongst first responders was "thats sad, I hope they get help but it's most likely a waste of time". A notable lack of compassion. And the ignorance in general (including myself until this and still learning) shows the need for education at every level of this battle.

Yes, initially this was a choice that your loved one made to take this drug. People need to understand that this drug gave the greatest, most euphoric feeling ever felt by your loved one. It allowed them to escape from the stress of everything. That is, until it didn't. And stopping means feeling the worst hell you never even imagined or spend a few dollars to get well enough to keep going. But, then it consumes you and spirals out of control ruining everything you were. It's a viscous cycle that takes an act of bravery and courage to face head on.

I didn't write this for those in recovery. They know this better than anyone like me could. That's the one group that is compassionate about heroin abuse and passionate about helping other addicts and those affected by addiction with their recovery. (Imagine that, the same people written off as waste by general society, are the most compassionate of all of them).

I wrote this for people like me, that just don't have a clue what the battle of heroin addiction really looks and feels like. What they can do to help. Where they fit into their loved one's recovery. To help break the stigma of this dark back alley hardcore drug to the #1 painkiller of the last 3000 years that it is, affecting every demographic in this country. And for loved one's to get an account of some of the things to expect as their loved one faces their journey into their recovery. And to give hope. Because, recovery does work. And as a family member affected by addiction. I'm here to tell you, not only did I survive. But, I'm stronger for it.

My loved one is now 3 years clean and we're planning our wedding now. I still come to this amazing support group of active users, those in recovery and parents for inspiration and guidance. (I suspect I always will). There's a lot of love and knowledge in these posts in this private group.

Best wishes

John Gold

Support our fundraising efforts here at Heroin Support by purchasing wristbands via our website or donating below.

 

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Brackets For Good Fundraiser

bfg01

The tournament tips off Friday, February 24th at 8 pm



We’re in #BFG17! Find out how you can play and help Heroin Support win $10k! 

How to Donate (click here)

View Heroin Support Current Matchup (click here)

View the Entire Bracket (click here)

Q. What is Brackets For Good (aka “BFG”)?
A. Brackets For good is the sport for nonprofits. Inspired by college basketball brackets, Brackets For Good is a charitable, online fundraising tournament where up to 64 hand-selected, local nonprofits with a 501(c)3 status in good standing compete for donations while earning increased awareness along the way. All participating nonprofits have a chance at winning $10,000 unrestricted grant courtesy of the tournament’s presenting sponsor.

Q. How does it work?
A. Picture the annual college basketball tournament in March. Now, replace the teams with nonprofits. Organizations go head-to-head in a single elimination, bracket-style fundraising tournament at bfg.org. During each week-long round donors visit bfg.org, select the nonprofits they wish to support, and donate money to help them advance to the next round ($1 = 1 Point). At the end of each round the nonprofit with more points advances and the points reset.

Q. Who is Brackets For Good for?
A. Brackets For Good is designed to engage local philanthropists no matter if they are the CEO at a multi-billion dollar company, a director at a small nonprofit, a full-time mom, a local sports fanatic, or a young professional with new found disposable income. Brackets For Good is a platform for activating these like-minded individuals who want to support and continue the good-natured initiatives happening in their community.

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Alexandria, Ky - "Angel Program" - Volunteers Helping Those Who Are Struggling With Addiction

Alexandria ACTS Flyer

What is the Alexandria, Kentucky Angel Program?

Beginning October 1, 2016, any person who enters the Alexandria Police Department and requests help with their addiction to opiates will be immediately screened into our Angel Program for placement in a local treatment facility. As a police-led and volunteer supported initiative, officers will connect people with substance use disorders to treatment options in the community, while volunteer “Angels” support participants during the intake process.

Moreover, officers will dispose of any drugs or drug equipment in the participant’s possession and not charge them with a crime. Ultimately, our goal is to connect participants to local, state, or out-of-state treatment facilities which provide an appropriate continuum of care based on the participant’s needs.


The Angel Program Origins
Massachusetts began the Gloucester ANGEL Initiative in June 2015. One year since inception, Gloucester has referred more than 450 people into treatment and shown a 33% reduction in property crime rates.

The success of the program and widespread need for new solutions to the heroin epidemic led to the development of Police Assisted Addiction Recovery Initiative (PAARI), a non-profit organization that provides support for police agencies launching similar programs and networking with nationwide treatment centers.

Reasons for Change
The City of Alexandria and Northern Kentucky has been strongly impacted by the heroin and opioid epidemic. According to the Kentucky Office of Drug Control Policy 2015 Overdose Fatality Report, Campbell, Boone and Kenton Counties have had a high rate of overdose deaths due to illicit and/or prescription drugs that were inflicted intentionally or unintentionally including heroin and Fentanyl.

Kentucky Resident Drug Overdose Deaths 2014-2015 (Source: http://odcp.ky.gov/)
(These deaths represent overdoses by illicit and/or prescription drugs that were inflicted intentionally or unintentionally)
Campbell County - 176 deaths (45 from heroin)
Boone County - 180 deaths (23 from heroin)
Kenton County - 307 deaths (72 from heroin)

KyOverdoseDeaths2014 2015

Overall, drug-related crime, public health issues, and overdoses in our community have pushed our police to develop innovative programs to address this crisis. We wanted to implement a program with proven success at reducing drug-related crime and removing barriers to treatment.

Alexandria's Dedication to Drug Enforcement
The Alexandria Police Department is strongly dedicated to bringing justice to drug dealers and suppliers in our city. While we will continue to arrest and prosecute drug traffickers to the highest extent, this program aims to reduce their clientele by minimizing the stigma of addiction and removing barriers to recovery. The Alexandria Police Department will be a safe place for those who are ready to for help with their addiction.

Angel Program Walk-In-Hours at the Alexandria Police Station
Monday - Friday
10:00 am - 6:00 pm

For more information on our Addiction Community Training & Support (ACTS) and Angel Program, please contact:
Kelly Pompilio, MSW
Police Social Worker
City of Alexandria
8236 West Main Street
Alexandria, KY 41001
Ph. 859-448-2807
fax. 859-635-4123
email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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Overdose... the Reality of Finding Your Loved One Gone

Sparenblek

Adam Lee Sparenblek
9.13.1980-10.24.2015

I lived in fear that what happened one year ago today could or would happen. Addiction is real. There's so much shame and guilt around it. I hope our generation and future generations change that...a last letter, journal entry, to Adam. The boys & I love & miss you to the end, every day...

I remember seeing you face down and lifeless. And I remember what it did to me, how my knees buckled effortlessly. Kneeling at your side, begging God to bring you back. I knew it was too late. I knew only a miracle could bring you back. It felt like I had just jumped off a cliff, free falling. Sheer terror. Our 5 year old had brought me to you, waiting for me at the back door to get home from work. He was talking in a panic, wanting to take me to you quickly.

I initiated CPR as I screamed for God, sobbing over your lifeless body. I've never given chest compressions before, even after years of being a nurse at the hospital. And there I was, counting compressions on my husband while our son stood at your side. When I let the officers and paramedics inside I collapsed to my knees again. Screaming in prayer. Every time I looked up at the police officer to see if my miracle was granted, pleading with them to work harder to find a pulse, I was stabbed with the unbearable realization again when I would see the officer nod his head, no...no pulse. More minutes would pass and more silence and nods from officers that didn't want to look at me, that didn't know what to say - you weren't coming back. I was removed from the house while they carried you out. The coroner came to see me almost immediately. Already asking questions. They actually do that - they actually make a person answer questions in the same hour after finding their loved one deceased. All along I couldn't even comprehend the last hour, I had just talked to you on the phone 8 hours prior. We just said I love you. I received your text 5 hours before. Is this even real life?? You're really gone?? Just like that. All those who loved you, their lives turned upside down. How does this even happen, how does such a deadly drug exist in our world, and it's actually sought after. In the blink of an eye, one decision to feel a high, took you to your resting place. It didn't have to happen, it just feels so senseless...

Sparenblek1

For days I didn't go upstairs. Every walk up those stairs is a reminder of your last breath taken. The morning of October 24th is forever etched in my memory. It crippled everything inside me. To see your arms a shade of white and streaks of blue that told me in a split second, my best friend, my partner in life, the father of my children, is gone. When I rolled you over, you were already stiff. Your face was so incredibly swollen and bruised, a dark blue and purple. Was it even you? Was this even real... vomit was all around you, your mouth still full. I screamed for you to move. I screamed for Jesus. I pounded on your chest. No God, NO!! You're not f*cking doing this to me! Don't tell me our son is standing here next to his dead father. His daddy. Give him back. Don't take him. NO GOD, NO.

You didn't come back. God wasn't there. And for a long time, I questioned if He even exists. I bargained. Take me. F*cking TAKE ME. Bring my husband back and f*cking take me God Damnit. Strike me dead, torture me. Put me through the fires of hell, just bring him back. Give him back to the boys. Give him back to his parents. Give him back to his best friend, Mike. Give him back to us.

I was empty and lifeless. I could only hear the sound of my soul screaming until the mother of your first born knelt down in the grass beside me. I'll never forget us holding each other while they put you down into the ground, to your final resting place. "Is this really it?" she said. We became bonded in the sons we share with you, bonded in the tears we mourned together over your loss. Reality. Painful reality.

The days, week & months moving forward I was numb. I was in shock. Just going through motions. I wanted to see you again. I wanted to have a last conversation with you. I wasn't ready to let you go. I toyed with the idea of suicide. I toyed with the idea of making myself overdose in the same spot you did. My mind took me to places and thoughts I didn't know were possible. I wanted answers. I wanted to know...I wanted to know what high is so great to risk your own life. Drinking myself to sleep for the first couple months, I wondered if I too would become an addict. Somehow through those days, I clung to our boys, someone has to be there for them. Someone has to tell them and raise them to know you, to keep your memory alive. And that someone was going to have to be me. Alone. Not how we had planned this babe. It was you & me, raising our little men. We were supposed to watch them grow together.

Sparenblek2

Oddly enough, we had some deep conversations that week. We had reconciled and were living happily as a family again. Our ups and downs the past year had tested us, questioned our commitment to one another. It had me thinking, I wanted validation that our great week was going to last. We were in the kitchen hugging, and I looked at you, "Promise me, promise me we will be together forever? In this life and in the next? Promise me wherever we go after this life, that we won't stop until we find each other?" "I promise you." If I can thank God for anything, it's for that week. It's for that moment. It's for our last dinner as a family that Thursday night. It's for hearing boo say the prayer that night at the dinner table. It's for the spider that was in the hallway that made me scream and us all laugh when I made you get it because mommy doesn't do spiders. God, do I miss you beeb.
The countless days, nights & car rides home I have cried over the loss of you. Mostly for our boys. All three of them. The life they will lead without you by their side. Their sporting events and games. Their first prom. Their first time driving a car. Their graduation from high school, from college. Their wedding day. Making you a grandpa. The future grandchildren you'll have that won't get to know you. Won't get to be spoiled by you. Laugh with you. I just can not.

I cry for myself. For what could have been. For not being able to call you every night after work, to ask how you and the boys are and our plans for dinner. For what was in our greatest moments and memories. Watching the boys do amazing things together - smiling at each other knowing what we created. Amazing sons. For songs we sang to one another, for inside jokes only we knew about, for late night conversations confiding in one another. For our marriage - our bond - that continued to draw us to one another through our ups and downs, as we had many.
For your best friend, Mike. For your brothers, for your sister. For seeing grown men cry. For your parents, heartbroken with tears streaming down their faces over the loss of their first born. For watching your siblings carry you in a casket...some of them still in their 20s. For having to embrace the man that stood by your side at our wedding and tell him you're gone. The both of you spoke 5 different times that Friday...making plans for the four of us to all go out Saturday night. Amanda, Mike & I have been left to grieve the date night that never happened. The laughs and fun we would have had but didn't. The two of them have been the most loyal friends to you - even in death. They have been here for the boys & I and have not fallen short of honoring you the best way anyone could - through their love and care of your boys.

You are missed. You are loved. You are thought of daily, hourly. You took a part of me with you. And you've gifted me w the very best parts of you - your heart continues to beat in the boys you've blessed Jayme & I with. Thank you, beeb. Thank you for our boys, our memories, and for our journey - I'm grateful you chose to spend and share your love & life with me. I look forward to the day I see you again. Until then, rest in peace my love, know that you are forgiven & know that you are my sunshine, my only sunshine...tap 6 times.

Written by Adam wife - Sherry Sparenblek

 

Below is the last picture of Adam...
a selfie he sent me less than 24 hours before he passed 
 

Sparenblek3

Addiction is real. It's not a choice it's a disease. They choose to use in the beginning, yes, but after that it becomes an illness. A disease. No one would choose to overdose, be revived, and overdose again the next day. If anything that goes to show how strong of a hold heroin has on people. The chemical changes in the brain that happen and become permanent.

#AskMeAboutMyAngel #HeroinMemorial #GoneToSoon

www.HeroinMemorial.org   www.HeroinSupport.org 

Click here to submit your own memorial tribute.

Below is a video our nonprofit here created from pictures that members from the private group at Heroin Memorial gave us permission to use in our public YouTube video to help break the STIGMA around addiction.

Click here to Purchase Wristbands to support Heroin Support Inc, a 501(c)3 Nonprofit.  Below are some of the wristbands we carry.   

DestroysBlack   HeavenPurpleBlack    IHatePurple

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"True is Hard" - A Poem From Her Son Who Struggled With Addiction.

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True Is Hard

How can you not see what I truly am I never wanted all this pain to be part of the plan.  I'm beat down and tired.  I remember being young and wired.  Where did it go?  I miss it more than anyone knows.  Why over the past few years has no one got to know me or at least realized that I am lonely?  I just want to be like all of you but I feel rejected and I know it wasn't anyone's intentions so how can I ask for help?  God knows how many times I've knelt with a troubled heart not knowing where to start.  I look to the skies, tears running freely from my eyes.  How could you all have overlooked these desperate cries.

Written by: Christopher M. Noonan

Shared by his mother: Kathy Noonan

 

#AskMeAboutMyAngel #HeroinMemorial #GoneToSoon

www.HeroinMemorial.org   www.HeroinSupport.org 

Click here to submit your own memorial tribute.

* Feel free to make supportive comments about this article at the bottom of this page using your Facebook profile.

#AskMeAboutMyAngel  #HeroinMemorial   www.HeroinMemorial.org      www.HeroinSupport.org  

 Below is a video our nonprofit here created from pictures that members from the private group at Heroin Memorial gave us permission to use in our public YouTube video to help break the STIGMA around addiction.

Click here to Purchase Wristbands to support Heroin Support Inc, a 501(c)3 Nonprofit.  Below are some of the wristbands we carry.   

DestroysBlack   HeavenPurpleBlack    IHatePurple

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