A recent national story about heroin addiction details the plight of families losing loved ones to addiction, and the strife of treatment professionals to provide the best rehabilitation practices they can.
After several trips to rehab, Desi Sandlin succumbed to her addiction to heroin. She passed away in September from a heroin overdose. Her parents, Kenny and Lori Sandlin are coming out with their story, hoping that it will help a family like theirs.
After starting with marijuana when she was fourteen, Desi moved on to prescription painkillers and then eventually to heroin. Being right outside of Cleveland, Desi had access to heroin and struggled with the drug for several years. Despite going to several treatment centers, Desi was never able to maintain sobriety. This may be because all the treatment centers were court ordered.
The Sandlin’s believe if their daughter had better treatment options available to her she may still be around today. Adam Bisaga, Professor of Psychiatry at Columbia University Medical Center, agrees with them. He states that a person needs to be clean from the drug for one to two years before their brain returns to near normal activity. This would go in line with the popular theory that long-term, inpatient treatment is best for those struggling with an addiction to drugs.
“This is not the treatment programs’ fault,” said Thomas McLellan in the article. He is a former deputy director of the White House’s Office of National Drug Control Policy and leading researcher in the addiction treatment field. “They were set up 40 years ago, when we didn’t know anything about the chronic nature of this disease.”
Unfortunately reports indicate that many addicts are not getting the help they need. Numbers show that only about 10% of those suffering from an addiction to opiates actually get treated for their addiction. This may be because, until recently, the relapse rate for addicts was extremely high. Due to the fact that most treatment centers did not understand the importance of continued care after the initial treatment phase had been completed, many people went right back to the drug.
After several years of research, treatment facilities are implementing after-care programs that increase an addict’s ability to stay clean. With more of a focus on relapse prevention, treatment centers are stepping up to the plate. In addition to a deeper focus on treatment centers, many in the medical community are discussing the pros and cons of medically assisting a person who is coming off heroin or any other opiate. Despite varying opinions, everyone agrees that medically withdrawing someone off of an opiate should only be done under appropriate supervision.
If you have a family member suffering from an addiction to heroin or other opiates, contact us today to learn more about effective intervention and treatment practices.