As the opioid epidemic rages silently alongside the COVID-19 pandemic, the US is facing a worsening drug-related overdose and death crisis, particularly with drugs laced with Fentanyl. Clare Waismann, RAS/SUDCC and David Livingston, LMFT discuss the substance use disorder crisis and ideas for increasing safety and awareness.
Episode 29: Drug Overdose Epidemic Is Sweeping the Nation: Here Is How We Can Increase Safety and Awareness
Dwight Hurst, CMHC: Welcome back to a podcast to answer your questions on addiction, recovery and mental health by Waismann Method opioid treatment specialists. I’m your co-host Dwight Hurst, joined today, as always by Clare Waismann and David Livingston to discuss the questions that come across about addiction, dependence and all related topics. We have a follow-up or a continuance of a discussion about the national and international crisis that we’re seeing right now with a rash of opiate and opioid overdose deaths. If you are taking illicit opiates, particularly if you’re purchasing heroin or gaining any type of drug from an unknown source or an illicit source, there’s a good chance that what you’re actually taking is fentanyl. And that’s what your loved ones who struggle with addiction might be taking as well. So we’re going to talk a little bit more about that. This discussion was particularly triggered by the fact that we were planning for this episode. We had scheduled our very first guest, which we will have on upcoming episodes. Very exciting to start welcoming some guests on to talk about their experiences, but due to some things that happen, tragedy related to this topic, they were unable to join us and it caused us to talk a little bit more in-depth about this issue that we’ve touched on before. We’ll be asking several questions about this tragic and toxic, dangerous problem.
Clare Waismann, RAS/SUDCC: When I speak to people on the phone, it’s they talk about, uh, friends overdosing like we would talk about, you know, I went to the movies. Yeah, oh yeah. I had two friends over those last month. It’s like this. I um, I had an interview on the radio this morning. Uh, regarding fentanyl. And then, uh, somebody from Huntington Beach that owns buildings told me that throughout his buildings, you have over 20 people that overdosed.
Dwight Hurst, CMHC: Wow.
Clare Waismann, RAS/SUDCC: Um. It’s, um, it’s very serious, and I think the issue is because old data comes out, you know, usually two years after the fact.
Dwight Hurst, CMHC: Right…
Clare Waismann, RAS/SUDCC: Uh, we won’t hear about the crazy numbers and when I say “numbers of people”, right? Not “numbers”, right?
Dwight Hurst, CMHC: “Numbers” as a person who has died from this. It and I, as you’re saying that too, I’ve started to hear it trickling just through all sorts of different places as well. I just saw it in the news about Michael Williams, Michael K. Williams, the actor.
Clare Waismann, RAS/SUDCC: Yeah.
Dwight Hurst, CMHC: You know that it looks like it may have been the same thing.
Clare Waismann, RAS/SUDCC: The only reason that we’re hearing this week is because we had a number of different entertainment people dying this week across the country.
Dwight Hurst, CMHC: Just a podcast I was listening to about the. It was an entertainment-themed, movie-themed podcast, and they mentioned Michael K. Williams death and one of the panel people on there was this person who works in comedy. And he said that he had three personal friends within the last month who had died while using cocaine, but it turned out the cocaine was laced with fentanyl. So once again, here’s fentanyl rearing up.
Clare Waismann, RAS/SUDCC: Yeah, yeah, yeah, this last week and here, um, there were three in Venice, so a comedian, two comedians, Fuquan Johnson. I didn’t hear that they didn’t know him before he died. Here it is. Three people died early Saturday morning in Venice after overdosing on Fentanyl as cocaine.
Dwight Hurst, CMHC: Yeah, so
Clare Waismann, RAS/SUDCC: It’s not the same. Yeah, he did the Office and Star Trek. Um. And also, there is a girl still in the hospital, also a comedian as well. What’s her name? Kate Quigley.
Dwight Hurst, CMHC: Yeah, it’s. And, David, I think you’re muted. David, it looks like you’ve hit mute on your phone, maybe. If you tap on your phone screen, you’ll see a little microphone there, it looks like it has a line through it.
David Livingston, LMFT: Can you hear me now?
Dwight Hurst, CMHC: Yeah, you got it. Okay, I could see. Zoom gives me the advantage of I can tell when that happens.
David Livingston, LMFT: Well, we can just kind of, do you guys want to just want to dive into it? I mean, we’re already talking about it.
Clare Waismann, RAS/SUDCC: Yeah.
David Livingston, LMFT: And it was a that was a good start.
Clare Waismann, RAS/SUDCC: Right. Yeah, I think, grim, not “good”, grim, right?
David Livingston, LMFT: Yeah, I agree. I mean, I mean. Yeah, right. It’s heartbreak. It’s all heartbreaking.
Dwight Hurst, CMHC: I will say we had we should probably we won’t say her name until she joins us, probably. But we had a guest that was going to get today, but happy because of an overdose in the family. Actually, it’s very pertinent to what we’re talking about, that she actually experienced an overdose of a friend of the family and was not able to join us today. So when we say that this is happening, it’s actively happening right now. If people don’t know someone personally, then it’s just by luck that they don’t. Probably.
Clare Waismann, RAS/SUDCC: Um, yeah, it’s it’s hard to hear somebody in the last six months that do not know somebody that pass by fentanyl or overdose or, you know, um, almost passed due to fentanyl overdose is, um, it’s really beyond anything I think we could ever imagine. I think the last, uh, six, seven months fentanyl has invaded, and it continues and continues to flood every corner of our society.
Dwight Hurst, CMHC: Is it just I know we talked about this a little before, but some of the intentions behind it being available, is it just because it’s available that drug dealers can put it into stuff and that it’s something that can spread out so they can make more profit? I mean, that seems to be what’s driving it obviously, is just that it’s available and they can sell it.
Clare Waismann, RAS/SUDCC: They can sell it is cheaper, it’s easy to bring into the country, it was it, it is mostly manufactured in China. It’s easily mailed, you know, forms of powder and forms of pills. They are sending it mostly through Mexico. So it’s and is much cheaper, it’s much cheaper, it’s more potent. And the problem is people are not aware of the presence of fentanyl in their drugs, and that’s why they are overdosing. What personally, I would call poisoning people are poisoning others, because if you’re selling a substance regardless, if it’s legal or illegal and you’re actually giving somebody another substance that is, you know, a hundred times more potent, you’re truly poisoning somebody, right?
David Livingston, LMFT: Yeah, that’s right.
Dwight Hurst, CMHC: And I think people who have not had exposure to the field of addiction or who have not maybe struggled with their own addiction issues, people tend to look at it and they say drugs will that means “drugs”. It’s just like a thing, right? And maybe they’re peripherally aware that some drugs seem to be worse than others. Gotcha. But when we get into the world of use of like heroin or cocaine, people just think of that as already being inherently very dangerous and bad, which it is, obviously. But when people have used a dangerous street drug for a while, I don’t want to. I don’t want to overstate this. Ok, so don’t you guys rein me in here? But they get used to doing it as safely as they can or they get used to a certain kind of protocol that is not really safe. But when there’s another substance now in there that they don’t know the effects of and also is highly toxic more than what they’re used to, you know, that’s where you have someone who maybe has maintained a serious drug habit for years and has had the ability to stay alive. All of a sudden they think I’m just going to get high today, and they die.
Clare Waismann, RAS/SUDCC: Yeah, and I and I think, uh, uh, it’s, uh, we shouldn’t be judging, you know, the reasons why people look for drugs, you know, you have, uh, I think the last 20 years we have learned we had a number of people that, uh, were taking prescription medication and got cut off personally. Read on Facebook and one of our groups. A boy, that was, um, off drugs for two years and took a Xanax from a friend because he suffers from extreme anxiety and there was fentanyl on the Xanax and he overdosed. Oh wow. Um, exactly.
Dwight Hurst, CMHC: So that you have I mean, yes, it’s an illicit use, but at the same time, you think, Hey, I’m sure he thinks he’s using something that has been processed in a, you know, pharmaceutical corporation that doesn’t have it replaced with anything.
Clare Waismann, RAS/SUDCC: Correct!
Clare Waismann, RAS/SUDCC: Look, Prince was on his way to a treatment center, right, and took a Percocet that was laced with fentanyl and died. But. I think that was, you know, a case and now is so wide and there’s fentanyl everywhere in every possible drug out there and media and the social media is not speaking about it and. You know, for one reason or the other. Um, fentanyl is crossing our borders at extends that again that we could not even imagine. And it’s everywhere, and sadly enough, we don’t have current data. But I think again, when we see the data a year from now, two years from now and damage into not just the person that died, but generations to come. You know how many? Twenty to thirty-five-year-olds with children are dying right now. And what happens to their kids.
Dwight Hurst, CMHC: Oh yeah, we don’t think to measure that sometimes. And I’ll say everybody that I’ve ever known who has. Well, anybody who’s died at all, tragically. But when you take these numbers, as you put it, numbers are people, right? And then we forget sometimes that an overdose is a person with a family, with parents, probably with a partner, with children, you know, with loved ones and friends, siblings. And then that trauma spreads out to them as well. And you put it already, you have these risks that are inherent to family systems where someone might be more… some people are more resilient versus more vulnerable to addiction and the risks of addiction. And then that complicates things for people who have now trauma on top of that when they’ve lost a family member to this. So yeah, you can see the higher risks that go there. And we also don’t always measure the effects of that trauma. You know how many people might never use drugs because they had a loved one lost to this to this kind of crisis? But at the same time, they’re going to have post-traumatic stress, or they may have depression that will then influence their ability to work or function or their relationships might suffer. So, yeah, there’s a lot of little out outcropping problems that come from this that people don’t talk about.
Clare Waismann, RAS/SUDCC: Absolutely, absolutely. And and and in the experience of a child, you know, going through, um, you know, the death of a parent, it’s not something you can erase on someone’s life and it is what I’m trying to say. I don’t think we are putting in the right measurement how extensive this tragedy has become, how many lives is affecting as we speak, how many people are dying. A few months ago that in 2020, 93,000 people died of an overdose. I think when we see the numbers and I when I say numbers, I even hate saying the word numbers because I think, you know, it’s people. I think when we see the data of how many people pass in 2021, it’s um, it’s going to be beyond shocking.
David Livingston, LMFT: That I so agree with you. It’s shocking to me that I mean, we shut down our whole country and most of the world is shut down when due to COVID deaths. And that’s understandable in many ways, right? Because you don’t want things to get worse. And I understand that. But look at this, look at the numbers here. And if you look at the attention politically and across the board, this gets in terms of the devastation to generations, to families, to communities. It’s so profound and the amount of attention it gets for the level of loss is it’s shocking to me. And why isn’t there? I don’t understand it. I mean, it’s like you’re saying Clare, like when you start to look at. I mean, I think there was my numbers weren’t right. Right, I’m sure. But I think at one point there was like half a million. I remember at some point half a million people had died of COVID. You’re talking about almost a fifth of that. And a lot of these people are very young people. A lot of them are really young people. Not that it’s not that I’m making that comparison exactly, but I just don’t understand it. And isn’t that it isn’t in the news ever covered, ever. But it is not. It is not dealt with the same level of so many other events and political changes. There should be an awareness. When I look at all of the issues talked about in social media and that are in the papers and so forth, this is not even close to at the top and the devastation of it.
David Livingston, LMFT: That and the fear. I mean, people should be terrified and people are not terrified and like to speak into what you’re saying, Clare, that you know, I see people like you’re saying, I see people come through young people all the time. I’ve talked to hundreds of them who are saying, “Yeah, I’ve lost. I’ve lost six, eight, eight people, sometimes in a year.” Sometimes they’ll say, “Yeah, all my all my friends have passed away” and then it’s like, So the fabric of this person’s life in terms of the people they’ve known and their community and so forth. It’s heartbreaking, really, and you try to help on the level that we do, you know, in terms of getting people off of it, reminding them of just the danger of it. But I think part of it is, you know, part of it is the narrative that this is a choice, right? And that the people who do it or kind of doing this to himself. But that is not the case. People like you’re saying, Clare, if they don’t know what they’re doing and sometimes people think they’re doing things that are basically safe and recreational or this or that and they die, and it’s happening all the time.
Dwight Hurst, CMHC: And then that judgment comes in, like you say, that’s the risk of viewing this as a oh, people bringing this on themselves, like you say and that that sort of judgment that enters into it. I mean, it’s interesting, you say, and I think addiction treatment has always been something that is plagued with that judgment. And also and as you put it, we’re not a political show, really, but just in general, I’ll say, with all sort of public policy, it’s not always looked upon very favorably from a standpoint of if I’m someone who has to worry about my voter base and I go out and say, let’s help people on drugs. Boy, there is a mixed response. I think it’s getting better. But there is a mixed response from people saying, Well, why are you helping people who are “doing this to themselves”? Right. And that’s where there’s a lack of understanding of this being a health crisis that’s killing so many people. And as you put it, that fear of like, we should be afraid of who do I know that wouldn’t be subject to this may be happening to them, right?
Clare Waismann, RAS/SUDCC: Do you guys remember maybe I’m older than both of you together, but do you guys remember one day had the campaigns to stop smoking and they had Ben Vereen talking. They had the lady with a tube in her throat.
Dwight Hurst, CMHC: I remember those commercials, yeah.
Clare Waismann, RAS/SUDCC: Yeah, right, those are commercials that wow, every time you stop because you really got to you because they decided, you know that they should do that because of cancer. Now, since COVID, we have the social media flooding with “take a vaccination”. “Use your mask”. My god, they have an incredible power on warning people how many deaths a day. Just don’t even, you know, put every day a number. How many people were admitted to the hospital in California for overdose? How many people died every day? Just, you know, put that clock on. Um, if you go to a place like Reddit, not just you can learn how to use, but where to find. Now, so the social media that is there, you know, to entertain, they have a responsibility to warn people to create awareness, and I think we as citizens that use a social media they know should request that at least.
Dwight Hurst, CMHC: It is interesting when we look at it as we’re talking about this, the question always becomes like, what do we do? And one of the things we’ve already mentioned a couple of times here today is getting the word out and getting the warning out. I think the use of the word fentanyl is actually one of the more helpful things we can do is when we are talking about overdose and when we’re posting about it, that means people have to learn how to spell it to appropriately hashtag it. But I think that that’s important because as I was saying earlier, I was listening to this movie podcast this morning and they talked about the death of Michael K. Williams and the death of those who just a few people who had died in Hollywood and some things there that were in the news, the entertainment industry. And it was the first time I was thinking about it because I knew we were going to be talking today. It’s the first time other than in our recordings in the podcast world that I’m starting to hear people using the word fentanyl. They said the word fentanyl in a non-addiction-based, non-psychology-based podcast. Just but I’m not hearing the word fentanyl enough. I think we need to start identifying that so people can, like, look at it and say, Oh, there’s a new wrinkle to what’s going on. It’s not just Oh, drugs are still bad. Isn’t that sad? They’re still bad. It’s like, Well, no, there’s a current crisis tied to this toxicity that
Clare Waismann, RAS/SUDCC: Was going to say. Right. So before there was an opioid crisis, you know, then when we went through the COVID crisis, then we hit the border crisis. And now then we hit the fentanyl crisis. Now we hit a fentanyl overdose crisis, so it is crisis that are not being handled that are leading to other crises. So we’re having a crisis of crisis. Yeah, well. But the fentanyl overdose crisis is forgotten, purposely forgotten. But people are dying and people are dying at unconscionable numbers. And and that we, you know, we that work, you know, in the health care and those that have people at risk, we need to voice ourselves because it’s what I’m saying to you. It’s a tragedy that is just snowballing in a way that we can’t imagine.
Dwight Hurst, CMHC: Well, what are your feelings about ways that people can help to protect maybe family members or loved ones who maybe they’re open enough with their problems to be talking about the fact that they’re using, but they’re not at a point where they want to stop? What kinds of feedback can they or should they be giving to their loved ones to say So
Clare Waismann, RAS/SUDCC: Sadly enough, sadly enough, when I speak to patients right now and David, you probably have heard that too. And they say, you know, I’m using this or I’m using that, and I tell them “it’s probably fentanyl” because over 95 percent of the heroin out there now is fentanyl is not heroin anymore. I don’t know if you’re aware of that, and
Dwight Hurst, CMHC: I didn’t realize it was that high.
Clare Waismann, RAS/SUDCC: Yes, it is. Um, and the illicit pills are also becoming fentanyl very fast. So they actually and I don’t know what it looks like and how it works or where you get it, but often patients tell me, you know, I have the tester. So they’re actually testing the drugs for fentanyl before they use so they can have an idea of the potency of it.
Dwight Hurst, CMHC: Yes. Yeah, that’s something I know people do. I believe cocaine users will do that to where they can test it, and They can test for the presence of fentanyl right to or test for what it is they’re actually taking into their body. Yeah.
Clare Waismann, RAS/SUDCC: So, so again, if you can’t stop somebody from using it, at least, you know, make them aware and give them what they need to, at least, you know. Keep them in such and it’s hard to say drugs and safety at the same time, right?
Dwight Hurst, CMHC: Right. I think that’s the kind of thing, though, that sometimes we’re we’re stymied in that conversation because of that, people don’t look at it and say, you know, someone who does have an illicit drug use disorder or a problem, they’re used to managing risk now. Not effectively, always. And it’s not a winning battle, but trying to evade detection, trying to evade ingesting the wrong thing, trying to even testing for fentanyl. Those are all kind of like risk management that I think people do just they hopefully are doing if they are using and people don’t talk about that enough to say, Hey, if you are using, are you using as safely as you can? You can have that discussion with a loved one, but sometimes we don’t think about it that way.
David Livingston, LMFT: One of the things I try to do when I’m talking to people who I’ll ask them if they feel afraid, invariably they’ll say no. I mean, mostly almost entirely. And I feel like part of my job is to scare the hell out of them. I say, “You’re walking on a plank over a cliff. You have no idea if you take that. If there are the chances of you falling off is because nobody feels afraid, even the way it’s talked about it. It doesn’t elicit fear. You know what people feel afraid of. They feel afraid of COVID and everybody walks around. And if somebody does not have a mask on or whatever you know you’ll get, you’ll get bad looks from a lot of people because people are afraid. The people who are taking this stuff are not afraid. And I, I feel like one of my jobs is to notice that disparity because fear is probably the greatest inhibitor there is, if you don’t feel any fear and you’re just thinking about it intellectually, the chances of you sort of overriding that if know. And I think that so. So across the board, politically, socially and so forth, for some reason, drugs falls into this. This and fentanyl and opioid use has fallen into this kind of this strange catch area in which people don’t really get, especially with fentanyl now. I mean, and it’s they should be terrified.
Clare Waismann, RAS/SUDCC: I think also, David, do you know what we were talking about in the beginning? You know, when we we they tell us, you know, I lost two friends, eight friends, 10 friends. I think that kind of kills a part of their heart, a part of their emotion. You see so much tragedy, you lose so many people that it becomes almost a routine that you protect yourself from feeling it.
David Livingston, LMFT: A hundred percent, that’s it, that’s everybody’s numb and if you look at how all of this is being treated, it’s being treated similarly. And just like that, it’s just like, Oh, it’s just a part of our culture. Now that this is happening, it’s literally, to some degree, been almost sort of accepted that we have a crisis, right? It’s like, you know, it’s not like, I agree with you and it’s like that old. It’s like that old. The thing that the research they used to do on suicide, where you’ll see a town where there’s I’ve talked about this before, when there’s been no suicide in 50 years and all of a sudden there’s a suicide. And then within the same year, there’s four suicides, right? And then it goes up because people think about it sometimes and then. But it’s also unthinkable because it’s scary and it’s unthinkable and it’s not happening the minute people around you. And especially for young people who are doing this, they start to see this, it almost becomes something that’s acceptable and that’s part of the whole the culture of it that’s just, you know, like your you’re suggesting Claire, which is, you know, that’s got to get changed.
Clare Waismann, RAS/SUDCC: It does, and it’s preventable. That’s the sad part of it all. This is so preventable. Um, and it’s being ignored.
Dwight Hurst, CMHC: I did a little check here while we’re talking. They actually make products like fentanyl test strips and some fentanyl test kits. Now many of these are to test urine for the presence of but they actually make products that you can find on Amazon. I’m not going to. I’m not going to, you know, we’re not sponsored by any of these products, right? I’m not I’m not going to endorse any. But, but just as you had said that those products exist, I did a little, just even in a little Google search. It might be of interest to people to know that you can find things that will say you can test theoretically for the presence of fentanyl in powders, pills or liquids, depending on the type of thing that you find to do. So those things do exist, and they’re not just something you have to buy in a sketchy part of town. You can get them on a sketchy part of Amazon, know a non-sketchy part of Amazon. So I mean, it is good to know that those things are available. But I think once again, I think the hesitance to discuss things, there’s a term that I haven’t heard it batted around for a while, but an abstinence-only intervention that was something they used to talk about.
Dwight Hurst, CMHC: I remember at least some trainings that I used to go to. They’d say, beware of abstinence-only education or abstinence-only engagement, meaning that not that you didn’t help people get off of drug use, but to say if someone walks into an office or a program and they aren’t prepared to stop everything today, that doesn’t mean we say, Well, I can’t help you, then it means we go from there. Right? And to say, Well, we have to have the conversation. And I think that, David, you had brought up suicide. And I think that’s a really good analogy for that to say, Well, if we’re not talking about, are you safe? And if I don’t tell you I’m safe today, you’re going to want to lock me up. And there’s a whole lot of room in between that to discuss how do you feel and how suicidal and when do you feel suicidal and what’s your intent? And if we didn’t have those nuanced discussions, a lot more people would die of suicide. Right? As there would be, no, we wouldn’t be discussing it.
Clare Waismann, RAS/SUDCC: You know, we are going through the international suicide month, right prevention. This is the month, September and I was actually writing about it yesterday. How many people that overdose? Actually, suicide and when I say suicide, I mean, not intentionally, but David’s talking about that indifference. “I’m going to use, if I die, I die, if I live, I live.” For me, that’s unintentional suicide, right? Yeah. So when you talk about the risks of fentanyl of a patient, the response is pretty much the same. “I’m not scared. If I die, I die. If I don’t, I don’t.” That is a complete disregard to wanting to live, right? That is a loss of, you know, wanting to keep on going. I’m here, but I don’t want to feel that I’m here. And if I go, I go, that’s how I see it.
David Livingston, LMFT: So when people lose all their friends or, you know, friend after friend, it’s similar to when, you know, like the analogy I met I made about when there’s a suicide. So people give up, you know, we minimize or don’t really understand the value of counting on the people around us. And even if we don’t, we’re not talking to them regularly, just the fact that they’re in the background. We count on each other to progress in life, to handle life. Life’s hard. There are all kinds of challenges and the fact that people are getting through it with us moving through it with this part of our life, even if they’re more in the background than the foreground is critical. And once that starts to fall away, there is a loss of people’s desire to push through hard things and keep overcoming and keep dealing with things. And then you, you tend to get what Claire’s suggestion, which is this sort of passive type of suicidality like, well, if I live, I live, if I die, I die, you know which is kind of like, you know, which is different than feeling like, Well, we’re all in this together and we’re all going to get through it type thing. So, you know, and that and that’s happening.
Dwight Hurst, CMHC: I’ve known many people who actually the I might die, I might not thought actually becomes a little bit of an adrenaline push, especially with opiate and opioid addictions. A lot of times people have said that you know that that out of control feeling a little bit of control, feeling, you know, there’s certain markers, and I won’t get into the specifics of what part of people’s rituals. I don’t want to trigger anyone out there, but I think if you if you’ve ever been down that path, you might recognize that feeling of, Oh, here, when this part happens or when I’m about to ingest this, then that’s where I get that little rush of fear or adrenaline, or even even a resolution of I might die. You know, whatever form it comes in, that little emotional adrenaline jolt of I could die. For some people, it’s actually part of their addiction as part of what…
Clare Waismann, RAS/SUDCC: But I don’t know if that’s part of their addiction or part of the only thing they probably can control in their life. Um, you know, people feel so vulnerable, especially nowadays in every possible way. I mean, we go back to breathing, you know, when breathing scares you, when crime that is rampant scares you, when what’s going on, you know, in Afghanistan scares you because, you know, could be another 9-11 at any time. So the world has become such a scary place and there is so little you can control about your own reality right now. So I think a lot of people feel a sense of control of what they can and where they can stop feeling.
Dwight Hurst, CMHC: That’s a good point when you say that, yeah, is there? Is that a part of the dictionary? Is it just kind of, as you’re putting it, like? Because I think we all want to feel that sense of something we can control or can do. And we haven’t dove into this particular part of it. And maybe this would be a good show in and of itself. But you know that feeling of feeling out of control, how much does that contribute to people getting into addictive behaviors and compulsive behaviors? You know what I mean? I think that’s pretty lame. I think that that is present a lot.
Clare Waismann, RAS/SUDCC: Yeah, especially, uh, when you want to control how you feel and when you stop feeling.
David Livingston, LMFT: Right, because to feel alive, you know that we’re dynamic people. There’s part of us that wants to build a life and create something, and then when the people around you are falling off and falling away and dying, especially if they’re overdosing. The part of us that that wants to build a life and push through things is pitted against the reality that building a life primarily or significantly has to do with building friendships and relationships of all sorts throughout your life. It’s maybe, maybe the most important part of it. And when that’s falling away at the same time, you’re in this dynamic where you’re trying to do one thing and yet everything’s everything around you is falling in another direction, and it’s unbelievably confusing and it leaves people feeling numb. And I think like you’re you’re kind of both saying that numbness leads to wanting to feel somehow some other dynamic again. And one of the dynamics is life or death, right? That’s that can become actually a way that people start to want to feel alive in some way. And if that’s the dynamic you’re living where there’s life around you and death around you, it’s not that hard for that to become sort of, you know, part of what your life looks like because it actually is part of what’s happening and you need help at that point. You know,I’ve talked to many, many people who are, I would say, in that state. And one of the things I say to them when they’re in that place and so forth is I remind them, usually as strongly as I can, it’s like, no, no, no, that that is not what we’re doing. That’s not why we’re here. Right. And they almost need to hear that because they actually don’t know it anymore. Right. They knew it at one point in their life, but I don’t know how much they still know it.
Clare Waismann, RAS/SUDCC: I think especially if you’re talking about, you know, generation, you know, between 20 to 30, I think so many things are being questioned. So many things that we grew up, you know, being on solid ground under us, you know, family faith. You know, so, so many of these things that made us who we are and also made us follow a certain path to what we would want to make our life stable nowadays is being seen as bad and ugly and, you know, old. So a lot of these young generations are very lost in having a goal in life or knowing what’s, you know, what is good and what is bad and what should they be striving for? What? You know, I think creates a lot of frustration and anger as well.
David Livingston, LMFT: For sure, we need to have a target. We need to aim at something. There has to be something valuable. We need a vision. You know, imagination, you know, from a not just theoretical perspective, but one that allows ourselves to get motivated to work hard at things, you know? And once you lose the imaginative view of your life and which happens when you’re losing people around you, you’ll see people just stop imagining their life the same way. And so, you know, there are so many levels to this. But when people get into that state, they really need treatment and someone who helps remind them strongly and over time and consistently of what’s still possible.
Dwight Hurst, CMHC: And especially because when hopelessness sets in, that’s one of the biggest risks and predictors for more increasingly reckless behavior or purposeful or latent suicidal behaviors, so reminding us of what we can do and also those people that are around us. That’s all hope-building behaviors, right? Because nothing is so bad, the hopelessness can’t make it a million times worse.
Clare Waismann, RAS/SUDCC: I agree as parents it’s a very, very difficult position to be because, you know, it almost feels like they know you are in a way accepting, you know, that behavior. But I think we are in different times. We are in very dangerous times and we need to change our approach, at least to help them navigate this, you know, extreme time and hopefully look for help soon. And I think that can open a door for them to come for help as well.
David Livingston, LMFT: This is a hard topic for all of us who are in the field and working with this, it’s hard to see and it’s it’s, you know, and the other part of it is I also and I know you both do too. You meet so many incredibly vulnerable and fantastic people who are struggling with this for one reason or another. And they’re courageous. They’re kind. They have so much to offer. And I think one of the most common things in life, and for a variety of reasons and sometimes of absolutely no fault of anybody’s. People get lost for periods and the ability to sort of get found and get sort of put back on a track that is more indicative of who the person you’re working with or really is. I see that as the process of what a treatment really is about. Ultimately, it’s you know, and but it’s pitted against all of these losses like we’re talking about. And so I hope something changes soon.
Clare Waismann, RAS/SUDCC: Amen.
Dwight Hurst, CMHC: And another episode of the podcast is in the books. What an important thing to talk about. Please, please be aware that whether you know it or not, this topic of overdose deaths and this epidemic that’s going on in the U.S. is affecting you. It’s affecting you in one way or another, you a loved one. There’s just so much, and I’m sure we will continue to talk about this. This podcast is here and specially designed to answer your questions. If you have questions and topics you’d like us to discuss, please email us at [email protected] Or hit us up on Twitter @opiates. Go to the website as well opiates.com to learn more about the Waismann Method advanced treatment for opiate dependence. I feel free to reach out as well, and Claire and David and I are here to answer any of your questions. The music that we play on this is the song Medical by Clean Mind Sounds. The show is produced by Popped Collar Productions, a company helping especially those in the nonprofit and health care sector to produce their own podcasts and reach out. For Clare Waismann and David Livingston, I’ve been Dwight Hurst. Please remember to keep asking questions if you ask questions, then you can find answers and whenever we find answers, we can find hope.
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