I’VE “RE-ENTERED” SOCIETY AS A FELON !

And so at 6:30 AM on June 19 a group of solid loyal dedicated women walked me down to R&D where I waited patiently for my family to pick me up upon my release of Alderson Women’s prison camp. A very very emotional day for everybody …….the feelings were bittersweet. I said my goodbyes to Brandy, Roya, Josie, Linda, Kelly & Cayla.   A group of women I shared much pain, many tears and genuine laughter with over the past year. This experience is something that I will hold dear to my heart and something that I will always cherish. One more time God knew what I needed in my life. I continue to be blessed and God continues to give me exactly what I need and not what I want. I’ve learned however that there is a very fine line now between what I want and what I need. This past year was spent soul-searching and working on myself.  I got into the cargo van mail truck to be driven to the parking lot and when the door opened, Anthony, Talia  and Sean were waiting patiently to pick me up. I have to say this was one of the happiest days of my life. As I stuck my middle finger in the air to so kindly say FUCK YOU Alderson, we started our journey home!!!  So now what? How do I begin my life all over again? How do I pick up the pieces of the devastating bomb which was dropped two years ago on our lives?  How do I begin? Where do I begin?  So I spent the past week at the halfway house experiencing what all of my patients have been experiencing for years! It feels so very strange to be home.  I have been released from the halfway house and am now on home confinement until July 20.    I think of the women in Alderson every day. I know what they’re doing I know what they’re thinking I know what they’re feeling and I pray that they all get to come home very soon.

The prison system is the absolute worst. The fact that there are prison camps and FCI’s and different levels of security that nobody knows about is ridiculous.  Alderson is a camp. It’s a very very low level security for first-time offenders of nonviolent crimes. You would think that the inmates were nothing short of baby killers the way they are treated by the staff.  I am extremely grateful for my many many years of recovery and years of private therapy that I have had.  Thanks to this I was able to survive the brutal daily attacks on my self-worth my self-confidence and my self-esteem.  Living by my motto of “TREATING PEOPLE THE WAY YOU WANT TO BE TREATED and NOT THE WAY THEY TREAT YOU” is virtually impossible in that miserable environment. And unfortunately knowing that society has a preconceived idea of what a prisoner is and how they should be treated, one must be very thick skinned to survive going to prison. Once again there is prison and there are camps.

     As pretty much all of you were aware I became involved in the sex scandal that took place in Alderson. One of the young ladies who was sexually abused by the captain was someone who I was trying to help get clean.   When I made the decision to help her I was told by many of the inmates that I needed to stay out of it. I was amazed at how many women have been brainwashed and institutionalized.   They were genuinely afraid for me. I initially thought they were crazy until I first handedly experienced the retaliation that I endured.  I had a very light sentence of a year and a day giving me a 10 month bid.  Within those 10 months,  because of my decision to help this young lady, I was put in the bus stop which is a form of torture for over 180 days out of 310 days, I received three shots and I was shipped to a maximum-security county jail without explanation for a period of five days.  I was lied to and told that I was being taken there for my protection. The Warden and the Lieutenant are  who signed off on sending me to the county jail only for me to find out that they were both walked off of the compound by the FBI 24 hours after putting me in the county jail. The Warden so rudely asked me if I was SORRY implying that I should have gone to him and given him the evidence that I was holding probably so that he could destroy it.   He allegedly is being charged with obstruction of justice. Since this experience I have been suffering from post traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD) as well as severe anxiety disorder. If I had a chance to do it all over again I would not do it any different. I am now trying to recuperate and get back on my feet so that I might fight and take on Alderson Women’s Prison Camp.   They have a serious price to pay. To allow 1100 women’s lives to be put in the hands of a group of unethical, illegal, abusive, power hungry authority figures is absurd. Nothing short of a Class Action lawsuit is definitely in order.  See, we as inmates are told that we are property of the BOP.  We are not humans and we are not citizens. Once again we are property of the BOP.   I have never been called “property”.   Nobody knows what goes on in prison because there is no conversation following the words “they are in prison”.  I have never experienced such inhumaness and unfairness in my life. There is no healthcare offered. The library is on the fourth floor of an old building with no elevators. The email is also on the fourth floor of that same building. The other email is located at the bottom of a very very very long hill.  My point is that these areas in the prison are not handicapped accessible.  My facility, ASI and MES,  was required to be handicapped accessible or we would be shut down.  There was a van that drove the handicapped places however it had no air conditioning. The bus stop which is a very large area similar to a lobby of a large hotel had approximately 20 bunkbeds in it. The bus stop is where the new inmates were housed and also where the disciplinary problems were housed.  They left fluorescent lights on 24 hours a day. You could not sleep in the bus stop. Remember that I told you that Alderson women’s prison camp is a camp. It consisted of people who were first-time offenders of Non-violent crimes. The majority of inmates were charged with conspiracy.  If you know anything at all about the law, conspiracy is how the Feds cover their ass and make sure that they have something to charge you with.

Now i’m going to vent about the drug problem. I don’t think the country is aware of how many addicts are in prison who have never ever been offered or sent to treatment of any kind.  Prisons offer a program called RDAP.   It is a cognitive behavioral program for addiction.   RDAP  is offered to the inmates the last year of their sentence.    For example if someone is given a 10 year sentence and they are qualified to do RDAP, they are given a year off of their sentence. However when they get to prison they do nine years before they’re allowed to get into the RDAP program.  In other words they sit for nine years doing nothing before they start treatment. In reality it’s not that they do nothing because what they do do is get high. They use. The Suboxone problem in prisons is outrageous. A strip of Suboxone costs $200 in prison.  The best part is the prison does not drug test for Suboxone. Basically because it makes too much money on the sales of Suboxone through the commissary. It’s a joke and it’s a nightmare. Many of these drug addicts would be much better off if the judge would sentence them to two years of rehabilitation with the understanding that if they relapse after they complete rehabilitation then they would be required to complete their full sentence.  I would love to be able to work with an addict for two years in treatment.   I wrote a full program on supporting this idea. I would love the opportunity to pilot a program of this sort.  

Basically I am home praying about what I want to be when I grow up. I’m going to rebuild what was stolen from me. Working with drug addicts is my passion. The opioid epidemic continues to be out of control and there has been a total of 83 ASI patients who have died of overdose since April 2016.  I am almost finished writing two books. Be on the lookout! My plan is to open a few outpatient treatment facilities and continue helping people get clean!   My other plan is also to never go back to prison! I thank you all for your love your support and your letters while I was incarcerated.I look forward to your comments and to your support. Stay tuned for my new upcoming YouTube channel! Yes I’m going on the circuit! I love you all and remember that God Got Us!!!!!!

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Please God, is it Time for me to Wake Up Yet?

November 11, 2017 

I hit a wall in here this week. An emotional wall. I get up everyday at 6:30AM. EVERYDAY. This place is spread out over many hills. The mail hill has to be walked at least three times per day in order to get to the mess hall. I am very tired. Physically exhausted. I work in the kitchen from 9:30AM to 6:30PM. Every inmate MUST work in the kitchen for 60 days. My first two weeks I was placed in the Medical Center to work. Once they realized that I had medical experience they took me out of there and put me in the kitchen! Ridiculous.

I’m going to talk about ME today…. it’s my turn to share….

I want to come home. I am tired. Mentally and physically. I am worried about my family. It is all like a bad nightmare that I can’t wake up from. I have not felt this level of powerlessness since I was in labor delivering my children. I am angry. I am tired. I am frustrated. My family is actually doing time. They are the ones suffering. I have helped others all of my life and now….. well, I apologize for whining and complaining about my life. I really do. I just felt the need to dump. I think what truly saves me is that I know in my heart that God is in my corner 100%. That at the end of the day, God is there for me. While I know that he doesn’t give me anymore than I can handle, I am still flawed and human. I still “feel”. Right now, I feel sad, angry, hurt, betrayed, abandoned, and emotionally beat up. Since ASI/MES closed their doors on April 30, 2016, we have been suffering. There have been more than several OD’s and deaths of our past patients and this is constant. I am surrounded by addicts in here who have no clue that they do not have to live like this anymore. Is it really my responsibility to carry the message in here? I really am tired of fighting.

When I was using I was never in this position. Ever. I had no idea that ANYONE ANYWHERE in our country was being treated like this. I feel like an idiot. Like my head was totally in the sand. I can’t seem to put the pieces together.

Do you know that I get paid $5.25 a month? I bet you didn’t know that, did you? These inmates actually look for better jobs that pay maybe $20 a month. Maybe you think that “criminals” should be grateful for anything they are given? If you think that way, I will pray for you. Mind you… this is supposed to be a “Camp” for non-violent first time offenders. Better known as, “Camp Cupcake”. Not hardly.

So I will be here worrying about my family until June 2018. Wondering what the next step will be to put us back together again. Our life was yanked out from under us. After 20 years of helping and giving. Yanked out from under us by more corrupt people than I could ever believe.

I could be home on an ankle bracelet. These camps need shut down and send everyone home on a bracelet. Ankle bracelets to go to work and pay taxes. We would be worth more to the government. We are a total waste of money, and a total waste of time. I don’t understand the purpose of these camps. It makes no sense at all to put white collar criminals in the same institution as drug addicts. It’s like they throw people from all walks of life that are between the ages of 21 and 80 into the same institution and act as if they have absolutely anything in common. It truly is a nightmare. And NOW, there are absolutely no programs; no classes or courses; no trades to choose from; nothing at all to help the inmates to re-enter society. This is a sad state of affairs to say the least.

I am trying to sleep, but I am still in the bus stop. I was supposed to be out on November 6th. They didn’t get around to moving me yet. There is a new woman in the bus stop and she won’t stop snoring. If it wasn’t for bad luck I wouldn’t have any luck. So at 7:00AM I will go see the counselor and see if they will move be back into a cubicle. Everyone is done on prison time…. NOT regular time! Prison time means hurry up and WAIT! (Now I know how my husband Sean felt all these years waiting for me haha!!)

So have you ever seen “Orange is the New Black”? It is a great show and a great story. It is what happens here and it is so very accurate about what is going on in Alderson Women’s Prison Camp. It is pretty much the exact same at Danbury, which is the women’s federal prison in Connecticut.

This is a secret. This prison camp is not something that anyone discusses. It is not openly talked about anywhere. Women that have been to prison do not usually share about their time incarcerated. The reason? Shame.

I am so frustrated with all of this. On December 13, 1983 when I entered Gateway Rehab, My eyes began to open. The “fog” began to lift. I began learning about myself and the shame I was carrying around. The shame of not being good enough for anything or anybody. The shame of being an addict. The shame of feeling less than everyone around me. Where did this powerful feeling come from? A feeling that only “drugs” could take away. Then the drugs stopped working. I was left with myself. So I worked the steps with my sponsor and I went to therapy every week without fail. I prayed daily and asked God to help me change. Guess what? It worked. I changed. My life got better. I went back to school. I got married. We had children. I continued to change, the shame lessened, and I started to hold my head up. I walked standing with my shoulders back and my head up. One day I looked in the mirror and I felt proud. Proud of who I was and how much I changed. Proud of having a loving and caring relationship. Proud of my education and my career. Proud of our four beautiful children and who they were. Proud of building a life from the bottom up.

Saying, “Hi, I am Roz and I am an addict” no longer had any shame attached to it.

Then one morning the shame was back and it was back in full force. My head became so heavy I could not lift it. My world was crashing and my feet were coming out from underneath me. I could not put the brakes on. The shame was back. Do I use or not? Do I keep fighting or throw in the towel? I lost my business and all of the wonderful people I met as a result of the business. I lost my livelihood, my career, and everything we worked so hard to build. I could feel myself losing my self-esteem, my self-confidence, and my pride. Was I going to lose my clean date? Was I going to lose my dignity? Was I going to lose my family? My home? I was losing all of the material things I worked so very hard for. Now the emotional and spiritual loss? Was I losing that too? After all, I was going to PRISON. How much can one person swallow? Prison brings such a negative connotation. It is so very overwhelming. I worked so hard to release myself of the shame I felt while growing up. The shame I felt from being so different than the rest of my family. Roz was the drug addict, and now she is in prison. The shame came back, and it came back strong.

So here I am. In prison, overwhelmed and trying to put the pieces of the puzzle back together. One day at a time; one minute at a time. I am starting to release that shame. It is not completely gone, but I am getting back to where I was before this nightmare started. I have a new energy. I am ready to move on. I managed to  weather my birthday in prison. I received so many cards and letters from people in Pittsburgh. It was heart warming. The girls in my unit sang happy birthday to me. Brandy decorated my bed with beautiful hanging butterflies that had positive messages from the women in the unit on them! My first and last birthday in prison! I am going to make sure of that.

Thank all of you at home and those of you who are supporting my blog. I truly can’t wait to come home and see all of you. You are my strength and I thrive on hearing from you.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart!

xoxoxoxoxox

#GameChanger #Wave

The Three Most Difficult Words Ever: “I Need Help”

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Happy 2017   ! I hope that you all have a peaceful, serene, healthy and love filled 2017!!!!!

I haven’t written for the past few weeks. It was a very difficult holiday season however many things became very clear to me over the past weeks !!!  I want to write every day; however when I sit down to write I get very emotional and I get blocked. Instead of trying to fight through it I get up and walk away.  So tonight as I was thinking about what I really needed to write about I realized that the reason that I wanted to start a blog in the first place was because of my passion for working with drug addicts.   Helping them change and become the person that they want to be deep down inside is truly a miracle.  I used the word “passion”.  Working with drug addicts IS my MAIN PASSION in life.

Since the closing of ASI I have been trying to figure out how I would get back into my work.  ASI was the future for my four kids.  We raised them watching us help addicts daily.  As a result, they saw the good, bad and ugly of this disease.  I had many addicts on my couch;  in my home while my children were growing up.  We taught them that addicts were sick people and the ones that we brought to our home were the ones who wanted to get better. Not all of them made it.  Many of them stole from us. My kids got attached to many of them and they got hurt when the addict relapsed and abandoned them.   ASI became a part of my children as well.   They all knew that ASI would be their home and their livlihood, just as it was from the beginning of their lives.  They went on to College and majored in Psychology.  They went on to do trainings and go to meetings and listen.  While they were fortunate enough to travel and chase some of their dreams, they knew deep down that they would end up running, working and living ASI just as they had all of their lives and just as they saw their parents do every day of their life.

It was pulled out from under them.  Probably one of the saddest things one could watch and experience.  I have never been given an answer as to why, after 20 years, there had to be that kind of ending.  Nobody has ever answered why ASI could not have continued with other owners. So in the meantime, we are struggling as a family to make it daily.  Sean and I both were unable to collect unemployment.  We have been selling our possessions in order to live.  As you know, Sean has been battling cancer…..he has no health insurance. We are bogged down with medical bills.  My children were not making enough money to take care of us, our house payment, our car payment, etc…..  I’m putting it all out there because each day I try to grasp at ANYTHING and it is always the same……..there is nothing there. As I am sure you all know, ASI was a lucrative business.  Making an income on this disease has always been a struggle for me.  I did the best I could to deal with that struggle by giving as much as I possibly could to whoever was in need and could not afford to pay.   I can feel that many of the people who do not like me are taking great pleasure in my pain and probably think I deserve this on some level.  There have been so many people who have lied to the FBI;  disgruntled employees, jealous, envious people who live in hate of others.  So many false accusations, so many untrue newspaper articles.  I don’t know that I would wish what we are going through on my very worst enemy.

I get on my knees in the morning and at night.  Now more than ever.  I never imagined going from having everything to having nothing.  I am trying diligently to get something set up for my family so that they may have an income.   I am most likely going away in June for a period of time.  I want them to be able to survive.  The only work I know is helping addicts.  My family operates as a close unit, borderline “codependent”.  haha
We are presently holding each other up.  I had a friend say to me, “Roz, put a status on Facebook or send a flier out and ask everyone who you have ever helped for $25.00 or whatever they want to donate…….”    I can’t do that.  I don’t know how to do that.   I’m going to continue to pray as I have been doing for the past 32 years.  I have a God who is loving, caring and who has helped me get through every storm I’ve ever been through since I was 10 years old.

We will get a break.  We will get a miracle.  Something phenomenal will happen and God will be there helping us to put our lives back together.  I want to thank all of you who have loved me unconditionally.  Whether you are clean or struggling to get clean.  Somebody always has it worse than I do.  I still get phone calls to help addicts who are struggling……thank God for those phone calls.  They keep my spirit alive.   Please pray for me and for my family.  I need many many prayers and I KNOW they work.  God listens to prayer and God helps those who help themselves.  I have been asking for a financial miracle.  I learned that it is okay to do that.   I would have never imagined that at 33 years clean and four children later that I would have achieved my dream and had it yanked out from under me at age 62.

I have been approached by some people to participate in something called FUND MY CAUSE. I am in the process of researching it and I am in hopes of it assisting me with a way to help addicts get clean and a way for me to continue with my PASSION.  I am asking that you be on the look out for this in my next blog.  I am really in need of your support in order to make this happen.   Please continue to read and support my blog.  I really need your help.

Thank all of you who have been there for me……..please continue praying for the addicts and family members of the addicts who are still suffering, both clean and struggling to get clean.

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And so This is Christmas…..

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Christmas 2016.  A rollercoaster ride of feelings.  Ups and downs, tears and laughter.  This is the first Christmas in 33 years that I have not bought one single gift….for anyone.  If you knew at all what Christmas morning has looked like in this house for the past 28 years you would wonder if I was going to even MAKE IT through the holidays without taking the bridge…..or using heroin…….or sitting in the bathtub with a razor blade.  But I can’t do that….because as I was talking to my kids last night they said, “Mum, yea we can’t buy Christmas gifts and we can’t go to New York (another yearly family tradition) and we literally don’t have money for gas…..but we are all alive.  We are all breathing.  There have been so many, many deaths in the past 6 months.  I spent Christmas and New Years as a patient in Gateway in 1983.  The Christmas before I got clean I stole all of the gifts out of my mothers car….I was pathetic.  The next year I spent the holidays in treatment and the years following I spent putting my life back together.

As I’ve told all of you in my other posts, I’m having a really hard time letting go of losing ASI and trying to move on.  I’m so very very stuck.  I just want to sit down and write emails to the FBI and the Department of Health and VBH and Fayette County Drug and Alcohol and the DEA and so many others who I am ANGRY at and who contributed to our demise.  But I KNOW that it will not do me or anyone any good.  It won’t bring ASI/MES back and those people certainly will NOT take ANY responsibility for their part in any of this.  See that is one of things that I learned in recovery…………I learned that when something goes wrong or bad in a relationship…..ANY type of relationship, that the blame falls on BOTH SIDES……remember, there are THREE sides to every story.  Yours, mine and the truth.    The bottom line is that I have not had the opportunity to grieve this loss.  And there are many losses that I have suffered this past year.   My heart hurts.  Literally.  Overdoses, one after the other. 42 deaths since ASI/MES closed.  And the one thing that was helping these addicts was pulled out from underneath them………….for literally no reason.  I will be sentenced in May.  Once I am sentenced, hopefully, I will be able to speak out.  As advised by my attorneys, I have been told to basically SHUT UP.  No interviews with newspapers or anything of the sort.  I’m sure you can tell how I drift off into sharing about ASI in EVERY BLOG !  I apologize for that.  There is SO MUCH MORE to my life and to the disease of addiction as well as the recovery process, that I would LOVE to share with all of you.

I miss you.  I miss my family group on Tuesdays.  I had the very BEST GROUP of family members on Tuesday nights.  They were great and they worked really hard on understanding their codependency and they worked so very hard on their own recovery !  It was awesome !

I need to hear from you.  I need to know what you want to hear from ME !!  I so appreciate you supporting my blog and I absolutely look forward to the comments!  They have been a great support to me at the absolute worst time in my life.  Can you please send me your email address in the comment section of the blog OR you can just email it to me !!  Rozsug1213@gmail.com

 

And so this is Christmas
So what have we done
2016 is over
2017 just begun

We have had many memories
At the end of these years
There was so very much pain
We shed many tears

The end of two decades
Came abruptly and quick
It was quite unexpected
It left everyone sick….

Thousands of addicts
Were helped every day
ASI/MES was a family
In many different ways

The Staff was committed
The Addicts were too
April 30 was a tragedy
There was nothing we could do

After its closing
Addicts started to die
So many families
Had to say GoodBye

ASI & MES
Were loved by all
We closed with great memories
That we could all recall

ASI is a legend
MES too
Thanks for the memories
To each and every one of you

And so this year is over
I can’t say I’m sad
ASI/MES is in our heart
For this we are glad
There may not be Christmas presents this year for the Sugarmanns, but we were blessed to have met all of the Addicts that we met over the past 20 years.  We were honored to help them and honored that God put each and every one of them in our lives. There are no number of Christmas presents that could EVER equal the love, gratitude and loyality that they have shown me and my family.  This year, Christmas will be remembered in honor of all of the blessings that came from the many Addicts who were patients at one point at both Addiction Specialists and Mary E Steratore Treatment Center.   ASI/MES might be closed, but the memories, the recovery, the dedication, the commitment and the hard work that took place for the past 20 years by both Staff AND by the Addicts can NEVER EVER be forgotten.

God Bless You All

Merry Christmas, Happy New Year & Happy Holidays to all of you.

I love you.

http://www.aheroinestory.com/about

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Twenty Years Is A Lifetime

I was driving home from the Women’s I to We 3/4 House last night and I had a thought about ASI (Addiction Specialists, Inc) and MES (Mary E. Steratore Treatment Center).   I got a huge lump in my throat and tears in my eyes.  I was paralyzed.  I stopped the car in the middle of the road.  My heart sunk.  How did this happen?  I had a dream. And it came true.   My facility opened in July 1999.  I was so grateful and so happy.  Living my life doing what I love to do with the people I love to do it with.  Addicts.  Helping Addicts.  I had my own treatment center.  I have a great husband and four great children.  My children mean the world to me.  All I ever wanted was for my children to always love to be home.  I wanted to make sure that they loved being there.  I hated being home.  My father died unexpectedly when I was 10 years old of a massive heart attack and my mother might as well have died with him. She was so very sad and depressed. She spent her life waiting to die so she could see him again. So, needless to say, it was a sad place to grow up. I couldn’t wait to leave.

ASI was in operation for 11 years when we decided to open the Mary E. Steratore Treatment Center. It was a residential inpatient facility with 24 beds. I named it after my mother. It was my dream and it came true.  The Mary E. Steratore Inpatient Treatment Center.  I was able to help addicts in my own facility and I knew my mother would be (and was) very proud of me. My mother died when I had 4 years clean. My addiction took a toll on our relationship. Thank God I got four fantastic years with her. They were the best four years ever and I will always cherish them. I was so blessed to be able to own and name an addiction treatment facility after my mother.

ASI/MES was open and in operation for 20 years. On October 8, 2015 60 FBI agents raided the entire facility. Fifty more Agents also raided my home. My daughter was the only one at home when they showed up at 8:30 am. She is now in therapy two times per week because she suffers from  PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). She cannot answer our front door without breaking out in hives and having a panic attack. They violated my home and interrogated my daughter. They found NOTHING in my home. They left with a few laptops and a $900.00 TJ Maxx receipt. It was months before anyone was charged with anything. Literally months.

I believe I have been in shock. Ethics have always been a priority for me. They have always been of the utmost importance to me. I am devastated that this happened. I don’t understand why. I truly do not understand how I ended up here. I am 61 years old. I am clean 32 years. I used drugs for 16 years and never was arrested and never went to jail.Why is this happening now?   I do not want to have the “poor me’s”. I am totally in shock though, and I need to grieve. I need to work through the five stages of grief somehow. But I cannot  get through the denial stage. I’m stuck in it. This has literally put a hole in heart.I wake up every day with an empty feeling in my gutt. I get on my knees and ask God for help.I still have the hole. Then my husband sat me down and told me that he has cancer and has known for 2 months. He now has been in the hospital for three weeks due to some different complications with his heart and his good lung.

So I started this blog. It’s a way for me to express my feelings. It’s a way for me to stay connected to my old patients who I miss terribly. It’s a way for me to hear from all of you. It’s a way for me to tell myself each day that I’m going to be okay and that I can continue to do what I love to do. I had about five more years before I retired. Now, I literally have to start over. And I will. And I’ll be better for it. I won’t lose my faith. I believe in God and I believe that everything happens for a reason. I believe that the truth will be revealed. And we will all find out that this happened due to peoples envy and jealousy. Due to politics and the government. Due to society and their stigma of addiction and of addicts. I replay October 8, 2015 over and over and over in my head. Like a broken record.Now what? Those two words are something that I have been asking myself daily for the past 10 months. What a nightmare. That is the best description for our lives since Oct. 8, 2015.  I have not had closure with ASI/MES or with my patients.

I need to have a gathering of all past ASI patients and staff.  Well, not all staff.  hahaha.  I miss the patients and I need to see how they are doing !!!!  I have to figure out how to pull that off.  I’m not sure how anyone could just expect us to walk away from all of this like it didn’t happen.  My kids were planning on  working at ASI and taking it over.  They will need to continue in the field and open another one.  TWENTY YEARS IS A LIFETIME.

 

 

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)