Mark is prescribed a narcotic painkiller by his family doctor after sustaining a minor injury during a high school football game. He comes from a middle-class, suburban family with no genetic predisposition to or history of substance abuse. Both of Mark’s parents have consistently urged him to follow through with everything he starts, and his father reiterates this sentiment on the way home from the doctor’s office.
This is How it Happens
“Do whatever you have to do to stay in the game,” his father says. “Real men play through their injuries – don’t let a little sprain keep you from getting out there and doing the best that you can do.” Because Mark feels immense pressure from his father to perform regardless of his current physical state, he begins taking slightly more than the recommended dosage of painkillers before his games. He notices that he worries less about his performance when he is on the painkillers (and he feels as if he may even play a little bit better), and begins taking them before practices too.
One morning, on the day of a big test, Mark decides to take a painkiller before heading to class. He believes that it might help him to feel more relaxed – his mother has been putting a lot of pressure on him to do well, and he has been feeling very overwhelmed with football, academics, and college applications. Before too long, Mark is taking painkillers all throughout the day. He realizes that his prescription is about to run out, and he begins to panic. Will he have to fake another injury in order to get more? He knows that there is a student a grade below him who sells marijuana and ecstasy – he stays away from drugs himself, but he has a few friends who smoke pot.
Nationwide Opioid Epidemic Persists
Mark meets up with this student one day at lunch, and explains that he has run out of his Oxycodone prescription and needs a few more pills to get through his next game. “Oxycodone is hard to get,” the student tells him. “When I do have painkillers, I sell them for $40 a pop. Supply and demand, you know how it is. But I do have something that will provide you with the same feeling – the same relief – for way less cash.” He pulls a small baggie from his backpack.” Just snort it and you’ll be fine. As long as you don’t shoot it, you’ll be totally fine. Here, I’ll give you this whole bag for ten bucks. Just don’t tell anyone you got it from me.”
Long story-short, Mark begins snorting heroin. He starts losing weight, his grades drop dramatically, and he can no longer perform athletically. His parents raid his room one day while he is at school, and they find a small plastic bag in the back of his desk drawer. The next day, Mark is on a plane to Florida. He attends a therapeutic, residential rehab for 90 days, and begins to feel like himself again. He learns about perfectionism and his own inherent self-worth, and begins communicating with his parents in a way he was never before able to. He finally works up the courage to tell his parents that he doesn’t want to continue with football into college. He feels good about himself, and optimistic about his future for the first time in a long time.
Transitional Living – Beneficial When Legitimate
It is recommended that he stay for 6 months in a sober living home after completing his inpatient treatment program. He is placed in a good, structured house – a house in which he feels safe and comfortable. He is placed on a 10 o’clock curfew and has very little trouble abiding by all of the house rules. One night, however, he loses track of time, and gets back to the house at 10:20. He gets a warning. A few weeks later he misses his bus, and gets home at 10:45. He is given 24 hours to find a new place to live. He asks around, and is coerced into a new sober living home by a somewhat shady character he met at a local AA meeting. He is promised that he will not have to pay rent and will not even have to get a job, so long as he participates in the IOP program that the sober home offers. Mark begins to feel badly about himself, because he is not working a job or a program of recovery – he simply attends IOP and spends the remainder of the day at the beach. His roommate is actively shooting heroin, and no one seems to care. One night, his roommate offers some to him. Mark accepts, figuring he hasn’t got much to lose. As long as he keeps attending IOP he won’t be kicked out, even if his drug tests do come back positive.
Mark and his roommate begin using together daily, and they eventually do get kicked out – not because they are getting high, but because their insurance policies are no longer good.
Within a month, both young men are found dead in a local motel room.
Sober Home Cleanup Bill Passed
Palm Beach County State Attorney Dave Aronberg, leader of the Sober Home Task Force, repeatedly found that shady marketing practices were drawing recovering addicts to unregulated sober homes. Senate Bill 788, sponsored by Jeff Clemens D-Lake Worth, was developed in order to help regulate (shut down) such sober homes, protecting the men and women who move to Southern Florida in hopes of recovering. The past Thursday, the bill was passed unanimously through the Florida Senate. Before the vote, Clemens stated, “Thousands of people are dying from opioid abuse. We’re dragging people here from other states to get treatment and we’re leaving them out in the streets.”
Statewide Public Health Emergency
On Wednesday, Gov. Rick Scott declared a statewide public health emergency for the opioid epidemic. The bill now requires the approval of the governor, and soon, hopefully, major changes will begin to be made in the Southern Florida ‘Recovery Industry’. Over the course of the past decade or so, a host of inexperienced and money-hungry degenerates have overwhelmed what began as a good-intentioned industry, tarnishing the name of addiction recovery throughout Florida as a whole. Not only are illegitimate sober homes exacerbating the nationwide heroin epidemic, but they are actually contributing to the issue at hand – as exemplified in the above narrative. The men and women that are being negatively affected by the pervasive corruption and fraud are not low-life, street-dwelling junkies with no hope for recovery – they are brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, husbands, and wives.
It is important to keep in mind that amidst all of the insurance fraud and malpractice, there are good-hearted, professional, accredited, and expertly run facilities that are contributing to the solution, not the problem. The goal is to shut down the bad, and, in the process, finally bring the good to light.