Guinevere Gets Sober

Recovery news, reviews and stories, by Jennifer Matesa.

Tag: Adderall

Sober life: Sober high schools meet kids where they are

I thought this story was pretty amazing: According to the Casper Journal, there’s going to be a new high school in Casper, Wyo., where kids with addiction can work on getting their diplomas and their sobriety at the same time.

sober medallionThe high school’s name is REACH—which stands for Recovery, Education, Accountability, Community, and Hope. The treatment program, facilitated by an addictions specialist that’s a member of the school’s faculty, is part of the regular curriculum.

The district founded Reach High after determining that fully 7 percent of high-school age kids in the district demonstrated addiction problems. Which is pretty much par for the course—I’ve read varying reports that say addiction shows up in, what, 7-10 percent of the general population? The program is designed to offer a limited number of kids a social setting that supports their recovery and prepares them to return to the regular high school so more kids can enroll behind them and benefit from the program.

An amazing thing about this high school is that it’s smack dab in the middle of nowhere. I have a friend in recovery who used to live in rural Wyoming, near Casper,  who I met from the forum Opiate Detox Recovery, and she says it can be damned hard to get to meetings out there. She used to drive two hours one way to get to a meeting. So this program meets the kids where they are.

And then—which reminded me of the parents of addicted kids who read this blog—I found out: there are other sober high schools across the country, with names like Central Freedom Recovery School and Serenity High (a name I particularly like, playing as it does on both words—”serenity” and “high”), according to the Association of Recovery Schools. And the same website gives details of recovery-support services at colleges and universities across the country.

Though one must say, now that the kids are arriving in my own back yard in droves and ready to knock themselves out playing Beer Pong and sniffing Adderall, that with only 15 such programs listed, that’s not enough by a long shot.

The sober high school that’s about 30 minutes away from me will take, apparently on the home district’s bill, any kid who’s referred by their public high school—though the website says “private tuition is also available,” so if you can’t get a referral you can pay on your own. Kids usually have to stay sober for certain length of time and demonstrate they’re committed to recovery before they’re admitted.

There are also Sober Dorms at various universities…

What a great option for the kids. Has anyone had experience with any of these?

College students black-market drugs from student health-centers

Adderall--can't pass without it!When it comes to campus health care, American university students are living in third-world conditions—and that’s leading student health-centers to give out more and more pills that wind up on the black market, according to a recent story in Forbes magazine.

A study last year in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence* found that 20 percent of college students have used pain pills (such as Vicodin), stimulants (like Adderall), sleeping pills (such as Ambien) or sedatives (such as Valium or Xanax) “not as prescribed,” and that 14 percent had taken painkillers for fun.

This is up from a 2001 National Institutes on Drug Abuse figure that showed only 6 percent of students were using these drugs in these ways.

The most amazing statistic in the Forbes story:

At schools with populations of 20,000-plus, there are only 1.5 doctors and 5 other health professionals for every 10,000 people; that compares with a national average of 26 doctors for every 10,000 people, according to the American Medical Association and U.S. Census Bureau.

It has become easy for students to get good drugs from overworked campus clinicians.

One of my young high-achieving university sources tells me:

Adderall is huge among college students, and very easy to get. I know a lot of people who go in to doctors feigning symptoms of ADD and get a prescription no problem. Adderall is not only how they get through midterms and finals, but how they stay up for a good party. Crushed and snorted is usually how I’ve seen it taken recreationally. But if someone’s going to study, they’ll usually swallow the pill. … As for vikes—they sell. Someone gets their wisdom teeth out and they hoard the meds to sell off once they’ve recuperated.

* Drug and Alcohol Dependence, Volume 102, Issues 1-3, 1 June 2009, Pages 63-67

Lindsay Lohan’s doing Adderall, Ambien, and Dilaudid

So, I never imagined myself to be the kind of writer who documents the lives of celebrities, but this is an interesting case that illustrates a trend happening all over the country.

Lindsay Lohan’s probation report was released today and it says she’s taking five powerful prescription drugs: Adderall (for attention-deficit disorder); Ambien (for insomnia); Zoloft (for depression); Trazodone (for depression and insomnia); and—get this—Dilaudid, prescribed after she had her wisdom teeth out in early June.

Dilaudid is a Schedule II opioid painkiller that’s roughly four times more powerful than morphine. In other words, it’s some heavy shit, and dentists and oral surgeons don’t usually prescribe heavy shit for that kind of pain. Where I come from, they usually write for a few Tylenol #3 or Vicodin with no refills and tell you to give your gums the good old saltwater rinse. Prescribing Dilaudid for post-wisdom-tooth extraction pain is like sending in the A-bomb for the proverbial anthill.

Asking for Dilaudid for that kind of thing?

If you’re Lindsay Lohan, you can probably get what you want. You can be persuasive one way or another.

More and more people are taking drugs they’re getting from a variety of doctors, and mixing them with each other, and with alcohol. The belief is rampant that because a drug is prescribed by a doctor—because it is a prescription drug—it’s not dangerous.

The belief is that the Real Dangerous Drugs are the ones that Homeless Junkies shoot under the bridge.

Actually?—the Real Dangerous Drugs are the ones in your medicine cabinet. They’re pure and they’re quality-controlled to do their jobs.

One job of morphine, by the way, is to treat “dyspnea,” or the labored breathing that people experience when they’re dying. The “death rattle.” Because morphine—all opioids, actually—slow down your breathing.

And you take too much of any opioid, and/or mix it with other stuff like Ambien, Valium, or alcohol, and your breathing can stop (this is what, for example, Heath Ledger did).

The strength and reliability of these drugs is one reason prescription drug abuse is the most rapidly growing drug problem in this country. According to a statement by the International Narcotics Control Board earlier this year, 6.2 million Americans are abusing prescription drugs. Many of these people are doing things like taking painkillers such as Dilaudid for toothache, mixing them with Adderall (speed) and Ambien (major downer) and knocking those back with a cocktail at, say, the MTV Music Awards.

You mix too many chemicals like this and yes—you will wind up depressed and anxious, with insomnia, and some physical pain, plus maybe gastric reflux. This sends you to the doctor, who gives you more pills (Trazodone, Zoloft, Nexium… all of which Lindsay, according to her probation report, is taking).

Lindsay, Lindsay… who since 2004 has had how many cosmetic-surgery procedures?—and did each one come with its subsequent painkiller prescription? I’ve known addicts who would get teeth pulled unnecessarily so they could get pills; in L.A. it’s just as easy (maybe easier) to go to your plastic surgeon.

Unfortunately it looks as though Lindsay will be able to keep getting her drugs while she’s in jail, because they’re prescribed by a doctor. Hopefully, for her sake, once she reaches rehab, that’ll change.

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