10 June 2019

Part 1 - Healthy Living for Life - Opioid Addiction in America: Part 1

More than 100 people die every day from an opioid overdose. Regardless of region, race and education, opioid addiction doesn't discriminate. It can happen to ...

- [Narrator] Living longer, living healthier, living better than ever before. Welcome to

Mountain-Pacific's Healthy Living for Life, a weekly series that gives you the information, education, and expert insight you need to become an active participant in today's ever changing healthcare climate. Here now is today's program host. - America is in the midst of an opioid epidemic. Throughout the country, there are more than 100 opioid overdoses every day shattering the lives of families, friends, and loved ones. Regardless of region, race, and education, opioid addiction can happen to anyone at practically any age. Today, we are going to talk about opioids, addiction, and how you should secure your medications. Welcome to Healthy Living for Live, a show dedicated to helping you do just that. I'm Beth Brown, your host. Stay tuned. - Welcome back to Healthy Living for Life. Today, we're talking about opioids and our first guest is Michael Solomon. Michael used to be addicted to opioids and is here to share his story. Thanks so much for being here, Michael. We appreciate it. - Thank you for having me. - So can you talk about when you first started taking opioids, how did you get your hands on those? - Well, unfortunately, my accessibility to opioids started right at home in my mom's medicine cabinet. She suffers from lupus and chronic pain and they were there. And so I found 'em and that's where it began. - [Beth] And why did you start taking opioids? What made you go after those medications? - Well, all my life, I felt like there was an inner struggle. I had a lot of inner conflicts, anxieties, depression. I didn't feel like I was like anyone else. So I remember seeing these drugs and hearing about them. And I know that when my mom took them, it made her feel better and it made her feel relaxed. And so I just wanted to emulate that and try that. And once I did, I couldn't stop. - [Beth] And were they easy to get your hands on or how were you able to get them out of your mom's medicine cabinet? - They were. Especially back then, a lot of people didn't even think about locking up their medications. So yes, it was easily accessible, and me being the sneaky teenager that I was, I would find a way. And I remember once I started taking them, I finally felt like I was like everyone else, like I was on top of the world, like I was invincible. All of

a sudden, my anxieties went away. My troubles went away. It was a false sense of being comfortable in my own skin which is something I always wanted, to be like everyone else, so to speak. - [Beth] Do you think if your mom had locked those up that it would have been different for you? - I think that all addicts are going to find a drug or an addiction of their choice in life. But certainly if medications were locked up and secured, then me and other addicts at a young age may not have such a powerful drug of choice so early on right in their own home that's accessible. - So you talked about this a little bit already but how did you feel when you took those opioids, at least initially? - I felt like everything just melted away and all I felt was joy, and peace, and comfort in my own skin. I always felt like I was different than everyone else. Like I didn't have a certain thing of life that everyone had. They had this secret that I wasn't aware of. That's how I felt. And when I took them, I did. I felt all my senses were enhanced. It was a false sense of I've arrived in the world. I'm just like everyone else. I have joy, happiness, laughter. And that's why I was hooked and that's why I kept taking them. It was a false sense of hope for life. - And how long did you take them and at what point did that hope go away and you realized you needed help? - Right. So my addiction lasted many years. Over 20 years, it progressed to different opiates, more. My tolerance grew. I was experimenting with more and it just kept progressing. I had a lot of life consequences. Jobs, relationships, financial, and none of that stopped me. It actually wasn't until a defining point in my 40s just a few years ago when my mom was battling cancer and I moved in with her to help her out. She was undergoing chemo and needed a lot of help. It's very painful for me to think about but you do horrible things when you're in the midst of addiction. And I remember stealing her pain pills when she was going into chemo. There were times when I would walk into her room, sneak in her room in the middle of the night to get these pills. I just remember taking one step in front of the other and screaming at myself stop. Don't do this. You're taking your mom's pain pills and she's suffering. At that point, I knew something's really bad. You're doing things

that goes against all of your morals, all of your ethics. I mean, I was just crying inside. Why are you doing this, why? It was definitely the point where I knew I had to get help. - So then you did go get help. Can you talk a little bit about what your treatment was like? - Well, I did get help. Fortunately I was able to go to Rocky Mountain Treatment Center in Great Falls. At first, it was just so scary because those opioids became my best friend. They became my solution to problems in life. I never knew how to deal with inner conflicts. And so getting off of those, taking my best friend away so to speak, how am I going to live sober and deal with these things? And so what Rocky Mountain Treatment Center and other treatment centers do is make sure that you can physically detox off the drug and then give you resources, and tools, and help you heal from the inside so that you can heal. I became vulnerable. I became honest. I became raw and that was scary, but it was an amazing process that I'm so glad I was able to have because now I do live a life of hope and happiness. And everything I was searching for in those drugs, I now feel as a result of working a strong program and being in recovery. - [Beth] That is so great, Michael. Congratulations. - Thank you. - Thank you, Michael, for sharing your story. We'll pause here for a short break, but coming up next, any one of us could be prescribed an opioid. What is it about opioids that make them addictive and what do you need to know to avoid the risk? We'll learn more about opioids after these messages. Don't go away. We'll be right back.