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PostPosted: Wed Dec 30, 2009 9:26 pm 
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I am a parent of 20 yo college student boy....He came home for the holidays and my wife noticed strange behavior, constricted pupils etc. She confronted him and he admitted that he was taking opiates for the last 1.5 - 2 years...To say that we are in SHOCK and DEPRESSED will say NOTHING !! We are simply ruined by these news.

He says he tries to quit cold turkey couple time with no success - according to him physical of withdrawal part is unpleasant, but tolerable....but psychological part does not let him to quit.

He wants to try SUBOXONE….he scheduled an appointment with the psychiatrist who specializes in SUBOXONE treatment, also scheduled an appointment with the clinical psychologist who specializes in substance abuse/addiction.

What else can we do ? How we , as parents, can help him….how should we behave ? he will be leaving back to college in 2-3 weeks….Fortunately, the college is just 1.5-2 hour drive from our house – we can be visiting him regularly or have him hop on the bus and come home for a day or two.

What are the odds of him kicking the habit ? I read on the web that relapse rate is 90% !! Is there any HOPE ?


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 30, 2009 9:48 pm 
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Wow!!! What a shock all of this must have been. I can only imagine. While I have been through it, I have been through it from the other side. I am 46 and addicted to opiates myself. It's likely I'm in your age group. However I'm the addict and you are not - you are the family.

First of all, to answer your main question, "is there any hope" Actually, I would say yes, I think that there is. To start with, both your and your wife, as well as your son are to be commended and congratulated. It is not often that parents figure things like this out - especially a sign such as constricted pupils. That was an awesome pickup on you or your wife's part. I can tell you that in my case, I had all sorts of doctors, nurses, paramedics, etc. in my life and none of them figured it out. A few had a feeling that something was wrong, but all were shocked when they learned of the news and missed all of the signs. Your son also has to be commended. It sounds like he did a lot of the leg work with getting help on his own. All of these things together really tells me that this is a family that honestly does have a chance. You are all very clued in with what's going on and what to do about it.

It honestly sounds like your son is already on the right path here. Suboxone has worked wonders for many of the people on this board and should work very well for your son as well. Unfortunately it is only one tool. More are going to be needed. The success or failure of what all of you are about to embark on will depend on a large number of things. How long has he been using? How much is he using? What sort of history does he have? What perhaps has caused him to become involved with opiates? And the list of variables goes on and on and on.

There are a lot of message boards and web sites out there that will deal with this. Some are good. Some are great. Some are not very good at all. Many have great, honest and true information. Unfortunately the Internet is laced with misinformation and this topic is just the same. Of the many things I've found, I have been very impressed with the work done by HBO - as in the cable company Home Box Office. They actually have a huge portion of their web site that has hours and hours of video clips and written information about addiction. They also have a four DVD set out that deals with it. I would strongly suggest that you take a look at it. Visit the HBO web site for sure. Beyond HBO, the Doctor that runs this board has videos available on You Tube for free and a couple for a modest donation that will be very helpful. He has written a lot about it as well. Dealing directly with Suboxone, The National Alliance of Advocates for Buprenorphine Treatment is also a great resource. they will even mail you a folder of information for free. You can find them at www.naabt.org

Beyond all of this is still the great unknown. This is going to be a life-long journey for you and your son. I'm sorry, but that is just the truth. He will be an addict for as long as he is alive. Hopefully he will be in recovery. However, he will still be an addict - just like me. Thankfully, we are finding out more and more about this all of the time and recovery today is more possible than it ever has been. In fact, I will go out on a limb and say that I'll bet that 90% rate (which is accurate by the way) will start to trickle down as time goes by thanks to advances with this disease - including Suboxone.

If you have some specific questions, please throw them out there and I'm sure someone will provide an answer or suggestion for you. If there is anything in specific that you are wondering about more than others, let us know and we'll try to help. Beyond that, continue your quest for more information. You and your son are already way ahead of where many of us have been in just 1.5 years. In my case, it went nearly 20 years including five years of serious abuse before I got help. By that measure, your son is already way ahead of the game.


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 30, 2009 9:59 pm 
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Thank you very much for your reply. Yes, we are the same age group - I am 44.

My son told me that he has been using it for 1.5- 2years, pain killers, including ( and I believe primarily) oxycontine.

First, he just "experimented".....

I am wondering - is it possible to quit without Suboxne ? You said that it is a life long journey - does it mean that the damage to the brain is irreversible ? and permanent ? So, even if he completes Suboxone treatment and then tapers off Suboxone, he will still be an addict and likely to relapse ?

I am lost and confused .....


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 30, 2009 10:31 pm 
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I just sent you a PM to see if I can help a bit more.

To answer the question about "brain damage" - he and myself for that matter, really have not damaged our brains by this drug use. Not in the sense that I think you look at it, anyhow. The problem is that your son's brain and many others are not the same. For whatever reason, your son is in the category where opiates are a problem for him. Just like many people will drink alcohol and not become problem drinkers, there are portions of the population that just can't drink. It is very, very likely that your son will be addicted to opiates for the rest of his life. He just won't be able to handle pain pills. That means that he is at risk for going back to them in the future even if he gets away from them now. That will never change.

There are sort of two parts to this. The drug itself works on the body in ways that after a period of use, the body can no longer function without opiates. That is known as dependence. Pretty much everyone - including you and your wife, would become dependent on pain pills if you took them for long enough. However, it is likely that either of you would not want to continue taking them. You would only have to get yourselves past the withdrawals in order to stop taking them. With your son, he is not only dependent but addicted. That means that he will do anything and everything to get the drugs - even if he knows full well that it is harming him. It's no longer just about his body needing it - his mind now needs and more so wants these drugs. That is something that he will never be able to control. Current thinking is that he didn't do this to his brain by abusing the drugs. His brain already had this capacity. It was sitting there and waiting. That's why I said he didnt' damage his brain in that way.

Now having said that, he could have done some level of damage to his brain in that he now needs the opiates to feel "normal" or to fell happy. It is also likely that it will take a solid amount of time to again feel normal without them. His body stopped producing some of the chemicals it normally makes because he was taking the drugs. His body sensed the drugs and figured it no longer needed to create these chemicals on its own. It will again take some time once he stops for his body to resume producing these chemicals on its own.

Getting him off of the opiates is often the easier part. That can be done in about a week or so. The problem comes with keeping him off. Many, many people go through detox or stop taking opiates only to have this over riding need pull them back to it again. Even though his body would no longer be dependent on the drugs, he would still be addicted and his mind would continue to drive him to use. That's what this addiction is all about.

I'm sorry that I didn't explain that as well as I could or perhaps should have. I can assure you that the web sites that I suggested in my first post will do a much better job. For where you are at this point, the first task will be for your son to detox or be induced onto Suboxone. Once on this drug, he will be able to work on all of these other things - including why he is abusing in the first place. At some point, given his young age, he will likely be able to taper off of the Suboxone. Just understand, that very likely will be on Suboxone for no less than six months on the low end and more likely for several years. He could very well find that he needs this drug for many, many more years - and perhaps for life. Don't even think that far ahead at this point. The first step is to get him to professionals who can help him. Using Suboxone is certainly not the only way to deal with this. However, if you ask me, it is the best way that I have found so far. The science and data are also showing that it is one of the most successful ways. I can assure you that as long as he takes Suboxone, he will have far greater than 10% of success at keeping off opiates. The fact, will still remain, that over his life-time, it does look like there is a 90% chance of relapse at some point. In fact, many claim that relapse is actually a part of recovery. You will have to get ready for at least a few rounds of two steps forward and one step back. It's not all going to be positive. But overall, I still think he has a good chance - especially with Suboxone in the picture and parents like he seems to have.

Check for my PM to you and perhaps we can chat some more.


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 30, 2009 11:05 pm 
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elephant, welcome! I am sorry for your situation. Donh is a great provider of info. I am not a doctor, nor expert. I am 26 years old and a recovering addict. I started the opiate train because of chronic pain. It progreses very quickly! No one is safe from opiate addiction. Do not be too hard on your son. You will all need to work very hard to beat this disease.

Donh is correct, upto 10% actually stay clean, 90+% replapse. But with suboxone treatment, the % that stay clean can be upto 40-60%. I do not know exactly where I seen this, but you can google it. You will find lots of good info. Also, NAABT.ORG is a great site as Donh said. You should go there and request there information packet. You get a folder with some good visuals that make it easier to understand addiction and suboxone. I got that info packet to help my family become more educated with suboxone. It worked for me. Also, suboxone is working for me.

I used pain killers for ten years. The last 6 months I have been on suboxone and things are much better than before suboxone. I was on a path of destruction. Now, with a lot of work, I am fixing what I messed up. It is going to be some work but you all can do it together and your son can stay clean.

I should have went into more detail, but I didn't want to write you a novel. Please just ask if you have any questions. Good luck and keep us posted!

Here are a couple of links:

suboxonetalkzone.com

naabt.org

buprenorphine.samhsa.gov

suboxone.com

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PostPosted: Wed Dec 30, 2009 11:46 pm 
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Thank you ALL, very much.

What is the role of the family in this process ? We wanted accompany our son to the doctor’s office, but he refuses to go with us….We are trying to convince him to allow the doctor to share ALL information with us…he is reluctant as well…..


Don, I see u r in Milwaukee - we also live in Milwaukee area. Could u recommend any doctor or psychologist?

My son is scheduled to see psychiatrist and psychologist ? How two differ ? I understand that the psychiatrist is the one who prescribes Suboxone and monitors the usage


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 31, 2009 1:41 am 
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Elephant, I'm not sure if you are aware of this or not but not every doctor is authorized to prescribe Suboxone. The ones that are able to have a 100 patient limit - and in some cases only a 30 patient limit. That unfortunately creates long wait times to get an appointment. I can tell you this without any hesitation - DO NOT - I repeat Do not have him go to Roger's Memorial. While the staff there was pretty good, the addictionologist who overseas the program is way beyond the burnout phase. It was so bad that the staff highly suggested that patients report their experience with him to management. Of everything I've experienced and decisions I made, that was the worst. I currently have an awesome doctor with an office in Franklin and the Aurora clinic on Hwy 20 in Racine. Dr. Staak is his name and he will come up if you use any of the Suboxone physician locators on-line. I would highly recommend him - if he has availability. It took a lot of work to get into see him before my 30 day prescription ran out following detox. Of course Dr. Junig, who runs this site, would be an incredible doctor for your son. Something just tells me that he is at the 100 patient limit with a long waiting list already. You would also have to travel to Fond du Lac as well – although it would be worth the drive if you ask me. You may also want to consider where your son goes to school as most docs are going to want to see him rather frequently in the early stages and then an average of once a month ranging out to perhaps every 90 days at some point. In the first six months though you might want to expect every 30 days. The first month or two could be every week or every two weeks. Many Suboxone docs are also going to want to have your son in therapy and some will encourage or even require attending 12-step or similiar meetings.

It may (or may not) be hard to do, but I would strongly suggest that you muster every bit of support that you can in order to gain your son's trust. The more you are involved the better his chances are going to be. As an adult, he can keep you from getting any information if he wants to. I'm sure you already know that. Unfortunately that can also help him to keep things from you and make it easier for him to relapse. As a "famous" bald guy says pretty much every time he does an "Intervention" show on A&E, you have to convince your son that "There is nothing that you won't do to help him get better, but there is nothing that you will do to help him continue to abuse drugs." If he really wants to get better, he will hopefully want to remove any chances he has for relapse. If he sees that you are not judging him, not criticizing what he has done, etc., that chance gets much greater. I have told everyone close to me that they now have the right to drug test me anytime they would like. Now, my casual friends are not in that camp, but my closest friends, kids, parents, etc. are. I have nothing to hide and it's just one more thing that will be in my mind if or perhaps when I start wanting to use again. It also hopefully helps them to start trusting me again. Hopefully you can get your son to that point. The fact that he has already been looking into getting help has me hopeful that he will allow you to be a part of that help. Of course, he still must learn what is driving his use in the first place - and like it or not his parents might be part of why he turned to drugs - at least in his mind. Obviously this is all conjecture on my part as I have no idea what the dynamics here are. I just hope that you can put all of your anger, rage, fear, etc. behind you and do whatever you can to support your son. You have every right to be mad as hell. That just unfortunately won't help your son right now.

Please be sure to respond to the private message (PM) that I sent to you and I'll try to help a bit more with referrals. If you didn't get it, let me know or just send me one.


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 31, 2009 4:09 am 
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Elephant,

See Dr. Junig, its only 50 miles north of you in Fond Du Lac!

I had Dr. Staacke.. I'll be nice and say I didn't like him, at all.

I suggest you go to Dr. Junig. Racine Pain clinic has a LOT of red tape and you need a referral.

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PostPosted: Sun Jan 10, 2010 2:18 am 
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elephant-

I just found your post and I wanted to introduce myself. I am an Addictions studies intern and work with two sites as a moderator. I am sorry for what your family is experiencing, it is never easy to hear that your child is dependent on a substance.
The opinions of others will be varying from each end of the spectrum, but I want to explain to you that if you want precise information, you should go to the sources. Here are some links, some of which have already been provided:


NAABT

Substance Abuse and Mental Health

NIDA/Presciption Drugs

Turn to Help

Federal Food and Drug Administration

You are more than welcome to contact me directly if you need other resources, and remember that you are not alone in what you are feeling. You must learn to accept the fact that your son is the only one who can recover, you can not do it for him or force him to change, he must want to change, he will make mistakes- the important thing is that he recover from those mistakes as quickly as possible.
One thing is certain. The pre-frontal cortex of the brain (this is the part of the brain that measure conscience/ knowing right from wrong) does not fully develop for men until the approximate age of 23-25. If drug abuse begins before this part of the brain fully develops, the chances of it developing properly are slim. This does not mean the situation is hopeless, it means there is a significant need for a highly structured recovery plan and lifestyle.
You asked if your son will ever be free of his addiction, I think it is possible- but from what I have learned it is the addictive behavior that is the concern, not the specific drug of choice.
In my personal situation, I developed an addiction to food as a child.It became the only emotional comfort to me in a very poor upbringing. As I got older and exposed to alternative risky behaviors, the addiction changed to drugs, sex, alcohol. Anything that could numb the pain. All people are different- but most people who have an addictive nature have experienced some kind of trauma and they use to escape a feeling.

Look over the links and keep posting for support. Best wishes to you and your family!

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PostPosted: Sun Jan 10, 2010 3:01 am 
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elephant,

You have already received great responses to your questions and I hope you will take some time to explore the links provided. I just wanted to add that [url]http://www.nar-anon.org/Nar-Anon/Nar-Anon_Home.html]Naranon[/url] is a great resource for the loved ones of addicts. Addiction takes its toll on the whole family, not just the addicted individual - so there will be a healing process for you as well as for your son. In fact, you and your family can begin to heal regardless of whether your son is ready to begin recovery. It might feel strange to go to one of these meetings, but I urge you to give it a shot. At the very least you will meet other people who have been where you are right now and who can offer you some support.

I wish you and your family much love and strength in the days ahead. Take care and let us know how things go.

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 Post subject: Hang in there...
PostPosted: Tue Jan 12, 2010 10:15 am 
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Hi elephant,
I can tell you as a recovering addict that you have recieved some excellent replies to your questions. There is not much I can add other than my own experience in hopes that is gives you some hope for your son & your family. I think you have already done the first step by reaching out for help.
My addiction started with meds for pain relief for a back problem that surgery just couldn't fix! I started to abuse my meds that where Rx for me and then had to go to the street to get the rest so I could make it thru another month! I progressed from 1-2 perc's every 4 Hrs. to the point I was taking 300 - 350 mgs. a day of oxcodone! It took some time to get to that point But, I could not stop myself once I got there!! I believe you are right once an addict always an addict. The question is in RECOVERY or Using.. 11 months ago I got into a recovery program that includes Suboxone and some counseling every other week... For me the Suboxone has been a God send. I do not have any cravings or desire to use at ALL.... I am also a recovering alcoholic so I go to AA meetings daily. I think the meetings also help with my opiate addiction!! Let me close by saying if you have a chance to go see Dr. J who started this site then you have a chance to see one of the best in the country. He has been on both sides of addiction and understands it better than most.
I wish you and your son the best. Please keep us posted on your recovery!!

God Bless
TW


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 12, 2010 1:24 pm 
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I know this response is really late considering when you first posted your question. I really hope that your son and family are doing well and that you've been able to help him into starting treatment. The thing that helped me the most was having my family treat me like I was any other person with an illness. They weren't upset with me for the horrible things I'd done when I was using as they realized it wasn't really "me". They just kept telling me that if I wanted to get help they'd do everything in their power to make sure I would succeed.

I'm 24 now and I started Suboxone right at 21 while still in school. It took alot of work on my part but I've tried staying clean both on and off of Suboxone and I really don't know how anyone can stay clean without it, well I do but it just took me spending ALOT of time at daily meetings, service work, getting involved etc. I had to literally spend all of my free time and more helping with a 12 step group. So a 12 step program worked for me but it was ALOT I repeat ALOT of work! and it requires you change literally everything. In short for a 12 step program to really work your son has to be desperate enough to change WHO HE IS, which is EXTREMELY DIFFICULT for even healthy people to do. For an addict to stop using it is like a normal person learning to stop eating....for good. In fact there is a much stronger urge/instinct for an addict to use than a normal person has to eat when hungry. This happened to me all the time when using. I would be low on money and I had the option of either using or eating...I'm sure other addicts understand that I always chose using. In fact I have no doubt that if I always had to choose between eating and using I would have choose using everytime, even to the point of starving myself to death. Shelwoy made a great point in saying that if an opiate addict starts using before 23'ish, before they're able to really think thru the consequences of their actions and or allow good judgement to take presedence over instant gratification the odds of staying clean certainly seem to be alot lower. All of our behaviors or perhaps it's better said the vast majority of our behavior is determined by the reinforcing feelings that follow things like eating when hungry, drinking when thirsty, sleeping/resting when tired, reproducing/sex, etc. With opiate addiction using becomes the addicts most powerful drive because of the much stronger feelings of euphoria/reward associated with using rather than that associated with eating, sleeping, drinking, accomplishing goals, so on and so forth. In short the desire to use will always overide the addicts ability to think through the consequences of using. In fact I can tell you from personal experience that the times before Suboxone when I was trying to quit (without any kind of treatment) I would end up using again without even thinking about all the things that using would bring, all the things that using had already brought in the past: destroyed relationships, being physically sick and painful withdrawal, in short I knew for a fact from previous experiences trying to quit it didn't matter how bad things got when I was using if I had the oppurtunity to use, I would use. Sure I could use "willpower" to delay my using but given enough time without me taking DRASTIC measures I would use..

Suboxone has allowed me to go back to living a normal life. I have time for non addict friends, a girlfriend, school, work, jogging, hobbies, etc. For the first time since I started abusing opiates I felt like a normal human being again (or at least what I thought was normal) after starting Suboxone. I would just like to close with saying that if Suboxone works for your son please don't let anyone rush him to taper off. Unfortunately opiate addiction truly is a lifelong disease in that the addict will never be able to forget how much better opiates make them feel, in that it makes addicts feel like a "normal" or better person (despite all the evidence that it clearly dosen't), and in that without staying in some kind of lifelong treatment whether that be Suboxone, 12-step programs, or methadone maintenance the addict WILL USE AGAIN no matter how "disciplined" they are, no matter how much "will power" they have it is simply IMPOSSIBLE to permanently erase an addicts desire to use/memory of the reinforcing feelings of using. I often think that eating from the "tree of knowledge" serves as a good biblical illustration of this fact. For Adam and Eve were simply never able to reverse the consequences of their actions. Their only hope would be to build a time machine and go back in time and not eat from the tree of "knowledge"

I wish you all well and please keep us posted on how things are going. I just hope that you're able to realize that unfortunately you're son has a very, very low chance of never using again without Suboxone, methadone maintenance, or 12step programs. I say this not to discourage you but rather to help you understand reality so that you can help your son as it seems you already are :)

Gotta get ready to go to the damn dentist.....later all,
Matt

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