Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Paradigm Shift

Old joke when "paradigm" was THE word in business circles, when organizations wanted change there was always someone standing front and center shouting we need to shift our paradigm.

What's a paradigm? Twenty cents. (pair of dimes)

In reality a paradigm shift is when one thinks completely differently about an issue or subject that what has been expounded in the past.

I'm sure I am going to lose some readers and many may get angry but I am shifting my paradigm on addiction. Harm reduction has become a buzz phrase in today's recovery circles. When I was parenting an addict it was all about enabling and meetings. Today there are alternative methodologies. We no longer are a one size fits all group.

I am not advocating legalization of heroin or drugs. That is a step I cannot take or support. However, there needs to be some in between ground.

Borrowing from other countries I believe there should be Heroin Clinics in our country. It's about harm reduction. Annette wrote a very good piece about her experience being trained to administer Narcan. You should go to her blog and read Just For Today......

Too many of our children, brothers, sisters, fathers, mothers and friends are dying from this epidemic of heroin. This is about keeping them alive long enough that maybe one day they can enter recovery.

I have come to believe that Heroin Clinics should be opened across the nation. Not to make heroin legal but to make it as safe as it can be made. Make these places a "safe place." Clean and sterile with clean needles, alcohol swabs and instruction on shooting safely. Have someone on staff trained on administering Narcan. Have someone there that can help guide an addict to recovery when they ask. It's about harm reduction.

When my son nearly died from a staff infection from shooting up and after 14 days in the hospital when he was released my daughter, a registered nurse, taught him and explained why alcohol swabs are needed and used before any injection. After that he made alcohol swabs a part of his "kit".

When I wrote about that I got many comments from readers about enabling and some even trashed my daughter that she was violating the oath of her profession.

At the time I was concerned about keeping my son alive. I had developed a philosophy, right or wrong that every single day thousands of addicts leave the world of active drug use never to return to that world. One of my jobs was to help keep my son alive until his day arrived.

ps.: There is life after heroin. Let's give more people the chance to experience it as my son has and as many others have.


Cathy Schillaci said...

I am with you on this. So many countries have legalized drugs and have much better results. If we legalize drugs and have heroin clinics, the uncertainty of what is in that purchased is taken away. The second biggest win with this is killing the drug cartels. With heroin clinics, we can have professionals there ready to help our addicts when they are ready!!!! Glad you are willing to bring this into the conversation!!!

Anonymous said...

Such a touchy subject. I'm not sure I'm ready to advocate for heroin clinics.(though, I do see a need for harm reduction)On the other hand I completely agree with what your daughter did to HELP Alex stay as safe as possible. The truth is, our addicts are going to use until they decide they no longer want to. Heroin clinics won't change that, I don't think. My only concern is that I don't want our loved ones to ever think it's okay to be using. Does harm reduction tell them it's okay? For me, that's the only sticking point.

On the subject of Narcan ~ every addict, everyone who loves an addict as well as ALL first responders should be trained and have access to Narcan.

Tori said...

I remember you writing about your daughter teaching Alex the safest way to shoot up. It very well could have kept Alex alive and look at him now? Years in recovery with a family. I think that says it all. I also think many people are becoming a little more open minded about this epidemic and how to treat it.

I don't know what the right answer is but everything we have done has failed. Clearly we need to go a different direction.

Great post Ron.

Cathy Schillaci said...

Here is an interesting article on how Portugal ended their war on Drugs!

Emy Watson said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Kim Manlove said...

Bravo Ron,

Keep on telling it like it is. Obviously the Just Say No campaigns and their ilk were a resounding failure and the bottom line is that the current opiate crisis has the potential for changing the general response to addiction in many positive ways. And opiate clinics and needle exchange programs are at the forefront of those changes. For the past year the Indiana Addictions Issues Coalition has been implementing a SAMSHA grant program in Scott County of southern Indiana that received national attention in early 2015 for a serious HIV/AIDS outbreak associated with the opiate crisis in the region. So thanks again for your support and encouragement....



Kim I. Manlove
Director of the Indiana Addictions Issues Coalition
Co-Chair of the Parent Advisory Board of THE PARTNERSHIP For DrugFree Kids
Founding Board Member of The 24 Group
11715 Fox Road Suite 40
Indianapolis Indiana 46236
HM 317-823-2153
Cell 317-331-5949

Anonymous said...

Hi Ron,
I believe that there are programs like the heroin clinics you describe that are quietly operating under the radar in pockets of our country that the general public is unaware of. Many "outreach to the homeless" programs provide services similar to what you describe. I read an article in my local newspaper today, The Plain Dealer, that describes a needle exchange effort that has a big reach here in Cleveland, Ohio. Reporter Mark Naymik wrote the article "Free Clinic sees demand rise for needle program" and it's on the website:

The link is

It's a very interesting artcle that discusses all the work being done here to help people who are addicted. I hope you're able to access the article.

R Johnson said...

The goal to keep them alive one more day in the hope that it will be that day that a loved one seeks recovery is admirable and courageous. There is life after heroin. Buprenorphine treatment can be an effective medication in helping to curb the appetite for the illicit drug during the recovery process.