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Can I Afford to Handle My Addiction?
When most people think of drug dealing and addiction, they think of cocaine or heroin users. However, the United Nations-affiliated International Narcotics Control Board reports that abuse of prescription drugs is about to exceed the use of illicit narcotics worldwide.
In fact, most of the people coming to our facility to detox from opiates and other prescription medicines did not start out on street drugs but became physically dependent and addicted to prescription and/or street drugs only after first being prescribed prescription drugs by their doctors.
Families forced to deal with a loved one’s prescription medicine addiction are often beset with conflicting emotions. One of the emotions is denial. How could there be a problem when the addicted person was under the care of a doctor and these drugs were produced not by someone on the street but by some of the largest companies in the world?
Often, there is anger at the addicted family member but accompanying this usually are feelings of guilt-what could we have done differently?
One thing is certain. The prescription drug addiction of a family member, if not confronted and handled, will only get worse-for the addict and for the family. Prescription drug abuse can, and all too often does, lead to the destruction of the way of life of the addict, the addict’s family, imprisonment or even death.
It is true that until an addict decides that they are ready to confront and handle their addiction problem, no treatment facility will be effective. However, if the addict agrees to get help, the loved ones feel relief followed by concern about how to select a program, how to pay for it and how to get the addict actually into the program.
Selecting programs should be done by objectively looking at the success rate of the programs and determining if the addict will accept the discipline required. The best programs are not inexpensive but, as the great philosopher Will Rogers once said, it isn’t what you pay but what it costs. You want the loved one to succeed and cure their addiction and not have to pay again and again for treatment.
The addict is somehow getting the money to purchase drugs. Often this money is coming from the family, either directly or indirectly.
Let’s use the example of an OxyContin addiction. OxyContin is one of the most abused prescription drugs in the world.OxyContin comes from a family of drugs, including morphine and heroin,that are derived from opium — all of which have a high potential for abuse. OxyContin is a specific formulation of the Schedule II narcotic, oxycodone. OxyContin has a time-release coating which regulates the amount of the dose that gets into the blood stream and allows patients to take the medication only once or twice a day.
To negate the time-release of the drug, abusers of OxyContin chew the tablets, crush them and snort the powder or even take the drug in intravenous injections. These actions can produce a high that is similar to that of high-grade heroin. As with other opiates, as OxyContin is used, the addict’s tolerance increases and higher doses are required to obtain the same high.
There are some mild side effects, like nausea, drowsiness and constipation, but an acute overdose can cause skeletal muscle flaccidity, constricted pupils, respiratory depression, coma and even death. However, there are also many other medical problems caused by abusing OxyContin.
Purchased at a drug store, OxyContin will cost about $.11/milligram for a generic brand or $.16/milligram for the brand name. The drug is often paid for, in whole or in part, by insurance. Unfortunately, while it is being prescribed, many people become physically dependent and often addicted before their doctor stops renewing the prescription.
The addict is trapped. Some addicts begin “doctor shopping” which means they go from doctor to doctor seeking to get prescriptions. Sometimes they are successful for a time. Others purchase Oxycontin on the Internet without a prescription and then the price jumps to $.60/milligram-a cost not covered by insurance.
Like street drug addicts, prescription drug addicts need their drug now and most resort to purchasing their drug “on the street.” The street prices of OxyContin generally are between $.50 to $1 per milligram.
To quantify the costs, people coming to our center for a medical detox from OxyContin have generally been taking at least 160 milligrams a day. (Most take much more and most are buying them on the Internet or on the street. Using the above numbers, their “habit” was costing them between $18 and $160 per day, between $540 to $4,800 per month, and between $6,480 to $57,600 per year.
If the family obtained a loan for $35,000 to pay for medical detox and for rehab and repaid it over three years at 8%, the payments would be $940 per month or $11,280 per year. (There are patient loan programs that are available for detoxification and rehab treatment if you qualify.)
If you don’t know where the addict is obtaining the money to fund their addiction, this is a different problem because the source is likely illegal and the addict risks imprisonment. If the addict is arrested, lawyers are very expensive and even an arrest without a conviction can limit employment possibilities.
Selecting and paying for the right detoxification and rehab program actually costs much less, financially and emotionally, than letting the addict continue to be addicted and is an available option to most families
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