Methadone? Suboxone?

Ohhhhhhhhhh my……should we DARE speak of these two medications?  How big is the controversy over whether or not addicts are “clean” if they are on one of these two drugs or medications or whatever you want to call them.  How about when you go to a Narcotics Anonymous meeting and the Chairperson says “If you have used suboxone or methadone today, please refrain from speaking.” …..Narcotics Anonymous is full of opinionated addicts that know everything in the world about everything in the world.  Don’t get me wrong……..I LOVE NARCOTICS ANONYMOUS.  PERIOD.  I LOVE NARCOTICS ANONYMOUS.  That program saved my life and gave me a WONDERFUL life.  It gave me friends.  Friends that I never ever would dream of having.  It gave me a husband and four children.  It helped me go back to school and chase my dreams.  I got a Masters Degree in Counseling Psychology and went on to pursue a Doctorate.  I worked steps with a sponsor.  I went into Psychotherapy and my whole world and my whole being changed.   Narcotics Anonymous was small and intimate.  I met my husband.  We were a part of helping NA grow in the Pittsburgh area.  What a GIFT !!!

When I came to Narcotics Anonymous after being a patient in Gateway for 48 days, I was broken.  I was excited to be clean for the first time in 16 years.  It was a blessing.  I was afraid of my own shadow.  My self esteem was shot.  My self confidence did not exist.  I felt “dumb”.  You know, “stupid”.  Less than.  Inferior.   I was the kid in the classroom who KNEW the answer but would NEVER raise her hand because “what if my answer was wrong…I’ll look stupid.” During the last years of my addiction, I was living in the Hill District of Pittsburgh……in a shooting gallery.  Girls were walking the street prostituting for money to support their habit.  Not me, I couldn’t do that….do you know why I couldn’t do it?   I couldn’t do it because I did not think I was “pretty” enough to be a prostitute.  What man would PAY to have sex with someone as ugly as me?    I was the HIPPIE in the 60’s & 70’s that was petitioning against the Vietnam war  and didn’t even have a clue WHY or WHAT the United States was doing. I was a follower.  The best follower around. Through a lot of therapy, a lot of meetings, a lot of step work, a lot of praying…………..I changed.  I learned all about the little kid Roz……the teenager Roz…….the drug addict Roz………and now the new and improved ROZ SUGARMANN!!! ALLLLLLLLL BRIGHT & SHINY !!!  I was 29 years old when I was introduced to recovery.  It was a perfect gift from God.  Perfect.  It changed my life.

Let me talk about my dream.  My dream was to be just like my psychotherapist.  What I loved most about him was that he seemed like he was “okay”.  Okay was something I wanted to be more than ANYTHING in the world.  So I set out to accomplish just that.  Narcotics Anonymous struggled through many growing pains back in 1983.  It was such a blessing to be part of those pains.  At one point I was sponsoring 23 women.  Some of us did not believe people were clean if they were taking anti-depressants.  I remember wearing a button that said “No Salt-No Pepper”.   Lithium is used to treat bipolar.  Lithium is a Salt.  I told all of my sponsees that they were NOT CLEAN if they were on anti-depressants.  I told them that they had to quit taking them.  Later in my recovery I had many sleepless nights worrying that I might have been a part of one of those women committing suicide.  We had Dr. Twerski come speak to us at a special meeting.  His stance was “Narcotics Anonymous” states that we must abstain from all mind altering, mood changing chemicals.    We then wrote to World Service Office to ask for their opinion.  Their answer came back in the form of a letter……….it simply stated:  “Narcotics Anonymous has no opinion on outside issues.”   BOOM……..
NARCOTICS ANONYMOUS HAS NO OPINION ON OUTSIDE ISSUES.  Well its MEMBERS have ALL KIND OF OPINIONS on outside issues !!!

I had a private practice in Squirrel Hill.  I had many clients.  I had groups.  I started to receive phone calls from addicts who wanted help coming off of methadone because their clinic would not take them off of methadone.  Hence I had a brainstorm to open a methadone “detox” clinic.  So off to Harrisburg my husband Sean and I went.  Only to be shot down by the Department of Health.  They told us that there was no such thing as an outpatient methadone detox and that methadone was used for “harm reduction.”   Hmmmmm those two words literally HAUNTED me for the next  TWENTY YEARS.

ADDICTION SPECIALISTS, INC. opened in July 1999 with 200 patients and a waiting list……….by April 2016 ASI had 610 patients; two full Partial Programs; over 400 patients in group therapy and Mary E. Steratore Inpatient Residential Program with 24 beds.  Sean and I developed a program to help addicts use their methadone as a tool                                                                  to get clean. We had the total support of Fayette County and were given the funding to FINALLY DO TREATMENT WITH METHADONE PATIENTS.  Addicts on methadone were finally able to be drug free.  The program we developed assisted addicts in coming off of methadone and/or suboxone in 9,12 or 18 months.  Hence the creation of ASI’s 9-12-18 program.  Addicts were getting clean and coming off of methadone.  They were required to attend NA meetings.   Interestingly enough if one would ask an ASI patient if they were going to meetings they would say ….”Yes I do, I go Harry’s meetings on Tuesdays and Thursdays!”     We had to explain that ASI group therapy is NOT an NA meeting.  What I then began to realize was that ASI WAS THEIR NARCOTICS ANONYMOUS………because addicts on methadone or suboxone are JUDGED by people who are not on methadone or suboxone the majority of the time. 

Suboxone is handled TOTALLY different by the government.  It is a drug prescribed by a physician in his office.  Methadone is given at a clinic.  If an addict is on a CORRECT DOSE of methadone or suboxone NOBODY would be able to tell.  Unfortunately, addicts have low self esteem and doubt themselves terribly.

I encourage them to hold their head up and DO NOT FEEL BAD because they are on Suboxone or Methadone.   I have been JUDGED by MANY in Narcotics Anonymous for even opening my facility.   I had friends who judged me and ended our friendship  because I opened what they ASSUMED was a “methadone clinic”.  ASI was a family….  ASI helped MANY addicts.  ASI’s groups and treatment created a RECOVERY ATMOSPHERE for these addicts.  ASI closing is a very, very, sad tragedy.  23 addicts have died since it closed.  Closing ASI was a mistake.  There is a piece of me missing.

Come on (People of) Narcotics Anonymous……..Open your heart.  Stop judging others and let these people have a seat in the program.  They feel bad enough that they are  on a drug.  They need to be needed; just like all newcomers.

If you or a loved one have questions or concerns about methadone/suboxone do not hesitate to contact me.  Remember if you are on methadone or suboxone and not using any other illicit drugs you ARE clean, and it is NOBODY’S business. That is between you and your higher power.

“The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop using.”

— Third Tradition (Narcotics Anonymous)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reality

I’m blocked.  I guess this is writers block ?   I’m so frustrated with life right now.  I’m so frustrated with people.  And God ?  Well this is what separates the men from the boys.  “God doesn’t close one door without opening another…….”  “God doesn’t give us any more than we can handle”………… “God will never let us fall”…………………Not that I’m blaming God for any of this.  God gave us free will.  My son laughed at me when I told him that this is all Adam & Eve’s fault.  They ate the apple after God told them not to and we have been paying a price ever since !!   So of course, as I sit here bitching about God, I got a phone call from one of my son Anthony’s friends who I have known since he was a young boy.  He is an addict.  I tried to help him nine years ago but he was not ready.  He has 105 days sober right now.  He saw the GO FUND ME page on Facebook.  He was quite upset. He made amends to me and we talked about how he was not ready to get clean and how grateful he is to have had contact with us and had the seed planted.  It was so nice to talk with him.

The past twenty years I drove to Uniontown every day and spent my days working with addicts and helping them to get clean.  And on October 8, 2015 our entire world crashed.  Literally, it CRASHED.  I still don’t know what happened or why it happened.  I always thought that we were supposed to be innocent until proven guilty…..not guilty until proven innocent.  So many have twisted opinions.  I was taught that we have to “give” in order to “get”.  The FBI came to my home in June of 2015 and sat at my kitchen table and said……..”you know that you rub elbows with some pretty corrupt people in Fayette County?”  I thought they meant drug addicts !  I really can’t any farther with the conversation we had.  At some point it will all come out.  And I truly cannot wait for that day.   The ironic thing was that the addicts were the ones that were/are loyal.  The people who I helped the most, who I thought were my friends, are the ones who literally lied and stabbed us in the back.  I’m baffled.  I just keep having one conversation after another with God.  I’m trying to quiet my mind so I can listen.  So I can hear what He is saying.  So I can get some sort of answer for what is happening now.  I’m baffled at all of this.

So living life on life’s terms is really rough at times.  I have heard this at least once a day since October 8, 2015…….”Roz, have you felt like using?  So, on October 8, 2015, 60 FBI Agents raided our facility.    On January 8, 2016 I was indicted and on April 30, 2015 the State shut down our entire facility and on July 28, 2016 my husband told me that he was diagnosed with lung cancer and he would be having surgery on August 4.  He also informed me that he has known for the past two months.   He did not want to overwhelm us he said.   So really, “Roz, do you feel like using?”  is not a ridiculous question at all.  Fortunately,  I KNOW that using will NOT make it better.  I know that using will hurt everyone in my life and mostly it will hurt me.  However, the true answer to that question is……”YES, I feel like using.”

So we are starting over again.  To wake up in the morning and not know how to pay for a tank of gas is a bit humbling.  Our kids are literally a blessing; a gift from God.  They are the victims in all of this.  They did nothing to deserve to suffer like this.  I’m amazed at their ability to love me & Sean unconditionally.  I’m amazed that they have been nothing at all but loving, caring and supportive.  I’m amazed that they have not complained once and have only shown concern.  I’m just amazed that they have not judged us or questioned us once.  They are TRUE TRUE BLESSINGS.

When the praises go up, the blessings come down.

 

 

 

If this was your last day on earth, what would you do?—Grays Anatomy

I just finished watching Grays Anatomy; Season 2, Episode 16 “It’s The End Of The World”.  What would you do if this was your last day on earth?  Do you know?  Can you think of what you might do?   I know I would make sure that I was with Sean and my kids. What a blessing to know that I wouldn’t have to cop first or get some money together to try to make sure I was not sick.   Recovery is good.  God is good.

We were visiting Sean last night in the hospital. He’s doing well.  He was in some pain and discomfort and they made him wait every 4 hours for pain Meds. I went to to the nurse to see if they could move it up to every 3 hours.  The nurse was very, very nice. I told her I worked in the addiction treatment field and she told me she was originally from Uniontown. I said “Oh small world!”  She proceeded to ask me if I knew that they just shut down the largest treatment facility in PA which was located in Uniontown!!  I said, “Oh as a matter of fact yes I do know…that was MY facility.”  Her jaw dropped and we proceeded to talk and she told me that she thought it was absolutely ridiculous that it was closed and that it was needed more than ever.  Unfortunately it is talked about wherever I go. It seems never ending.

Addiction is “never ending”.  Addiction is the “big white elephant” in the middle of the room that family members walk around and act like it isn’t there.  It starts very very very early in life. Actually it is hereditary. Unfortunately society thinks that it’s best to not tell our kids that we have experimented with drugs.  Society teaches that it is best to LIE to them. “What they don’t know won’t hurt them”…..such an untrue statement !!    Be honest with your kids. Tell them the truth. Educate them and let them know what is going on. Don’t scare them. Don’t threaten them. Don’t make them think that addicts and alcoholics are “bad people.”  Let them know that if they are genetically predisposed to this disease that they truly should think very very hard before they make a decision to take that first drink or drug.  THIS IS WHEN THEIR EDUCATION BEGINS. PLEASE don’t be one of those parents that say “be careful & drink responsibly!”  or the parent that says “as long as they drink while they are at home and I take the car keys then it’s OK”.    And I cannot for the life of me understand how parents can tell their kids that it is not OK to break the law and then turn around and be OK when their child drinks before the age of 21.  (because everyone does it!). ALCOHOL IS A DRUG!!!   And a drug is a drug is a drug….. Alcohol, marijuana, heroin, crack, cocaine, are all drugs. And an addict can NEVER use ANY of them.  If they do choose to use one of them the addict will be unable to stop OR they will use whichever one of them they like the best, i.e. their drug of choice!!!  Just so you know, when I use the term “addict” I mean alcoholic and when I use the word addiction I also mean alcoholism. There is no difference between the two. The only reason there is any differentiation is because thereare two fellowships, i.e.  Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous.  This can be very confusing for people who are just beginning to learn about the disease of addiction.

I do not know what type of tangent I am going to get on when I’m writing so please bear with me. If you have anything that you would like me to blog about please let me know again thank you for your support and please send prayers for Sean and the Sugarmann family.

Why were we different?

I was on methadone back in 1977.   80 mg was the maximum dose anyone was allowed.  I never stopped using heroin the entire time I was on methadone. It was used for “harm reduction”.   It was not used to help addicts get clean. It was used to keep addicts from robbing and stealing.  It was created by the government.  Never was it meant to be a tool addicts could use to become drug free. Since methadone is an opiate blocker, I had to use more heroin than usual in order to feel it.  It was our theory that methadone could be used as a stepping stone to become drug free.  Hence the 9-12-18 program was written and patented by ASI.  The 9-12-18 program consisted of the addict attending two groups per week and one individual session per week. They also had to agree to “blind dosing”and attending Family program.   That program was very successful and we had quite a few patients achieve being drug free due to ASI’s 9-12-18.  The patients did their best to attend Narcotics Anonymous meetings while on methadone, however they were not welcome. ASI had 600 patients. 280 of which were in the 9-12-18 program.  If a patient on methadone continued to use they were referred to ASI’s Partial program which was held 5 days per week from 8:30 am to 1:30 pm.  If they continued using while in Partial they were referred to Mary E Steratore Treatment Center which was ASI’s inpatient residential program. ASI was a full service treatment program; it was NOT a dose ‘n go methadone clinic……. Like all the others.  ASI cared about the patient. ASI cared if the patient got clean and recovered from this deadly disease.  ASI was Fayette County’s best kept SECRET. ASI was helping addicts everyday.   Many of whom have gotten clean and became productive, responsible members of society.

This blog is not a place for me to sound like a victim.  This blog is intended to let people know about the disease of addiction as well as to let people know about what ASI was really about.

ASI  opened in 1999.  It existed for 19 years before Suboxone entered the picture. Suboxone offered a 9-12-18 program as well.    It was not as well established as the methadone program.  Suboxone & methadone CAN be used as tools to becoming drug free; however the staff of a facility must know what they are doing.

If you have a loved one on Methadone or Suboxone;  try to talk them into using it as a tool to becoming drug free.  If you need any help with that feel free to contact me via email at Rozsug@aol.com and please put “blog” in the subject line or try contacting me at 412-292-8899.

WE DO RECOVER.

Surgery

Sean has been diagnosed with Lung Cancer.  Stage 1.  They are doing surgery today and taking out half of his lung.   He has known for two months and did not tell me until a week ago.  I believe he had our best interest at hand, however, I want to choke him.  I am unsure how he is able to hold things in like that.  All of my kids are home.  God will be there too.  I’ve been praying and asking Him to show up.  He always shows up. I haven’t written for two days.  I’m surprised how much I missed writing.  It helps so much.  I got two comments on here that were not very spiritual in nature. I guess they felt better taking shots at me and telling me that I knew ASI was closing down in December.  This is very untrue.  I had no idea the State would put 600 addicts on the street.  In fact, that is who is to blame for this fiasco.  They came rushing in after the FBI came in……..and after licensing us for the past 20 years, they suddenly decide that we should not have a license because the Feds came in to raid us.  This is ridiculous.  And all higher ups that could have intervened could not do so because they, too, were involved.  Money.  The almighty dollar. Money became an issue for everyone.

ASI opened in July 1999.  Sean and I were totally against methadone at the time.  We figured we could open a clinic and then help addicts come off of methadone.  That was our intent. We tried to open just a methadone “detox” program.  The State let us know we were not allowed to do that.  They told us that we were only permitted to do “maintenance”.  So we opened ASI with the intention to teach addicts on methadone about the disease concept of addiction.  And that is what we did.  We were a “cash only” clinic when we opened.  We took in 100 patients immediately.  The Director of Fayette County Drug & Alcohol made a statement in the newspaper that the clinic was not really needed in Fayette County and that there were ONLY TWO HEROIN ADDICTS in the entire county.  TWO?   Well it turns out maybe TWO THOUSAND.    We proceeded to service the patients and suddenly we started to get visits from the VBH rep.  (VBH is the insurance company for all welfare recipients in Fayette County).   This rep. named Marla brought us donuts daily and begged us to sign up with them so the welfare patients could be covered and not have to pay for treatment.  We did not want to do it because we were aware of the red tape involved with dealing with Insurance Companies.  Especially this type of coverage all the way around.  So after being tortured daily by Marla for several months we decided to do it.  The worst decision we ever made.

For some reason I find a need to take you all from the inception of ASI up through the demise of ASI. Maybe it is because “I” need to be the one that writes about it and hears about it and needs CLOSURE around it and on and on and on.  Or maybe because I cannot believe where my life is right now and how things change from literally one minute to the next.

I’ll continue writing later……………as for right now it is 6:42am and Sean goes in to surgery at 9:30am today. I also have  a wake to attend this evening so I’m getting ready to go pray so I can get through this day with God running it, not me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Memory Lane

13054998_10156900963195341_3606565033947718827_oMario:   So Roz, what is your first memory of childhood?
Roz:        I remember my father’s death. I was 10 years old.  He died of a massive heart
attack.  In fact I don’t remember anything prior to being 10 yrs. old.  and I don’t
remember anything until the age of 16 when I smoked my first joint.

My father’s death changed our lives.  It changed our family.  It changed my mother.  Actually,  she died too.  She died mentally & spiritually.  I had a brother who was 21 years old and another brother who was 30 years old.  They adored my father.  I was Daddy’s little
girl.  My middle brother had peptic ulcers.  “A nervous stomach” as my mom called it.  He almost died. He was so handsome and he could sing really well.  My oldest brother became my father.  He raised me.  He was married with 3 children and lived an hour away. He was strict. He was my God.  He was my hero.  He took on the role of my father.

I was angry at my mother.  She abandoned me.  She cried for days and nights on end.  She sat on the end of the couch and cried with her black stockings rolled around her ankles.  We went from a family of five to me and my mother.  I hated being at home.

I suffered from the disease of Italianism as well as the disease of addiction.  I had a pit in
my stomach.  A hole in my stomach.  I didn’t know what it was.  I could not fill it.
When I picked up marijuana for the first time the hole was gone.  I felt so much better.  I could go on and on and on …………..I was a Hippie. I grew up in the ’70’s.   My mother blamed my addiction on the way I looked at the BEATLES the night they were on the Ed Sullivan show.   I used every drug there was between the ages of 16-29.

I started using heroin at the age of 20.  All of my problems were gone…………..so I thought.  Why do we use?   Why can’t we stop?

I’ll have to write more later.  Remembering what life was like before I entered the world of recovery is painful.  Was I born an addict?   Did I use because I was extremely depressed and I self medicated?   The only way I could function was to get high first.

What was your first childhood memory?

WELCOME To A Heroine Story!!

Hello!

WELCOME !   This blog is dedicated to ASI (Addiction Specialists, Inc.)…..and to the many, many patients who have gone through treatment there and who miss the therapeutic value that the family atmosphere gave them.  April 30,2016 ASI was shut down by the PA Dept. of Health ………….. it was totally unfair and unjustifiable.  October 8, 2015  the FBI unexpectedly raided the facility.  It was a nightmare.    The loss was almost unbearable.  ASI was not a methadone clinic.  ASI was not a drug & alcohol rehab.   ASI was not a suboxone program.

ASI was Family.

Be prepared to hear the ups and downs, struggles and successes of a life you could never imagine.   Addiction is an ugly illness and it causes major pain and suffering for families as well as addicts. If you live with an addict, give them a new name.  They are two people.  Two very very different people.  Know who you are talking to at all times.  If their birth name is Laura, you can name her Lisa.  If their birth name is Robert you can name him Randy.  One of them is the active addict and the other is the recovering addict.  Let me take you on a walk down memory lane.