Heroin is one of the most powerfully addictive drugs currently in use. With horribly debilitating withdrawal symptoms that can sometimes last several weeks or longer, many heroin addicts simply choose to keep using heroin indefinitely in order to avoid withdrawal. As the body’s tolerance for the drug rises, the addict shoots up more heroin more frequently in order to try and attain the same highs they once felt. Unfortunately, this dangerous cycle can quickly lead to overdose-related death and for some addicts, overdose-related death can appear to be the only way out of the trap of addiction.
The Philip Seymour Hoffman Tragedy
It was not a secret that actor Philip Seymour Hoffman struggled with addiction. However, his sudden death still shocked many, proving that the truths about the incredible power and mortal danger of heroin addiction is still largely unknown to the public.
According to law enforcement officials, Hoffman had a syringe in his arm when he was found in his apartment. Over seventy envelopes containing traces of an unknown substance were also found in his apartment, as were five different prescription medications. While the exact cause of death has yet to be announced, it seems clear that drug overdose was a prime contributor to the late actor’s sudden departure from this world. The combination of heroin and prescription medications seem likely culprits.
It is suspected that the deadly combination of heroin and a painkilling narcotic called Fentanyl is responsible for over one hundred deaths in the last twelve months in various states around the country. Dr. Hacker of the Allegheny County Health Department in Pennsylvania stated that fifteen overdose deaths in her area in the last month had been directly linked to the combination of heroin and Fentanyl. Dr. Hacker explains that the combination of the opioid and the synthetic opioid can increase heroin’s intensity and strength up to one hundred times. This is highly dangerous, considering that the purity and potency of heroin is always variable, even when acquired from the same dealer. A heroin addict who acquires highly potent heroin, or increases the potency of heroin by mixing it with Fentanyl, can easily overdose when taking their usual amount. The desire to achieve higher or better highs can lead the addict to purposely make the choice to increase heroin’s potency prior to injecting it.
The Idea that Heroin Addiction is Untreatable
In 2006, Hoffman participated in a segment on “60 Minutes” and discussed his experiences with rehabilitation treatment after fighting addiction in his twenties. After being sober for twenty-three years, he once again enrolled in rehabilitation treatment last year for help in battling addictions to prescription medication and heroin. This relapse has caused many to speculate that despite being “clean” for over two decades, Hoffman clearly was still an addict who was simply making it by, one day at a time, and had somehow managed to successfully do so for a considerable length of time.
According to Janina Kean, President and CEO of High Watch Recovery Center, there is no cure for addiction. Kean states that addiction is a chronic disease in the same way that diabetes, asthma and heart disease are chronic diseases. Because of this, periods of sobriety, even long periods of sobriety, are no guarantee that the individual will not relapse in the future. Kean theorizes that because Hoffman was not habitually using drugs, his body’s tolerance for heroin was low and he overdosed on an amount of the drug that may previously have been tolerated.
The problem with Kean’s theory is that it does not really present a workable solution for those who are struggling with heroin addiction, and individuals want to know that there is help available to them. They want to know that heroin addiction can be overcome.
A True Story about Overcoming Heroin Addiction
Due to a six-year addiction to heroin, Brittany’s life was spiraling out of control. She had tried unsuccessfully to resolve her addiction, but the twelve-step treatment programs she attended tried to convince her that drug addiction was a disease she would fight for the rest of her life. Brittany found this unacceptable. She wanted a way out – a way to live free from the cravings that drove her every thought and action. She was tired of caring nothing for her own life, and for being willing to do anything to achieve her next high.
In March 2012 Brittany enrolled in Narconon Arrowhead. After participating in a drug-free withdrawal program, Brittany began the sauna detoxification program to rid her body of the residual drug toxins that were the root cause of her heroin cravings. She regained her energy and for the first time in many years felt truly alive again.
Through extensive life skills courses, Brittany was able to clear her mind and focus on her present environment. She learned the skills she would need to boost her confidence, her ability to control her life and her environment and her ability to confront her problems and resolve them so that nothing ripped her away from achieving her goals in life. She finally let go of the guilt she felt about her drug use and moved forward.
The Narconon program also helped Brittany understand why she had turned to drugs in the first place, and how to recognize and resolve similar problems in the future so that she would not relapse into drug use again. Brittany found this to be incredibly important, because without spotting and resolving the reason behind her drug use, there was no way to protect herself from returning to drug use in the future.
Brittany has never looked back on her old life. Thanks to the dedicated, caring, committed staff, Brittany was able to get off drugs, and stay off drugs. Brittany decided to stay at Narconon Arrowhead and complete the extensive training needed in order to become a staff member herself and help others through the difficulties she once faced. Brittany says, “There is no greater joy in life than knowing that you helped someone overcome the hardest battle they will ever fight. This place has truly changed my life and enabled me to cut all strings to the life I once lived.”
Brittany’s successful rehabilitation from heroin addiction is one of the many that have come as a result of the Narconon program. These stories offer that bit of hope that so many heroin addicts desperately desire: the hope that their heroin addiction can be overcome.