Philadelphia Medicine, Fall 2017 - 15

p h i l a m e d s o c  .o
.o rg

Three Faces of Addiction... Their Lives Can Tell Us Quite a Bit About the Opioid Epidemic

It didn't take him long to graduate to opioids, then heroin, which
was cheap and easy to get on the street. Eventually, he developed
such a tolerance for the drug that he had to take two bundles a day
to get high. "I woke up on a regular basis with needles in my arm.
I didn't have any way out. I became gradually devoid of hope. A lot
of pain and loneliness."
Dr. Joseph Garbely, medical director of the Caron Treatment
Centers, and a psychiatrist, said active addiction is pretty much
a one-man show. "They use in isolation. It becomes a very lonely,
miserable place to be in."

Dr. Legere, who spent 12 years counseling people with addictions at
a Camden clinic, agrees. "At this point, it's not a matter of rationality.
If you have a compromised central nervous system, you're going to
have to go beyond just thinking."
Dr. Garbely said that the belief that one can just overcome an
addiction on his or her own is not unique to Theo. It's a common
problem especially among the high-powered executives, athletes,
musicians, actors and physicians who are among Caron's 4,000
clients each year.

"It's very rare that a physician, for example, comes right in without
Dr. Thomas Legere, psychotherapist, adjunct professor of psychology having tried and failed many times on his own to fix the problem.
at Immaculata University and author of Living an Authentic Life, They often have an over-reliance on self-efficacy. They have to admit
which examines the root causes of addiction, said, "Addiction is a at some point that they're powerless over their addiction. That's
disease of isolation. And when people are hooked into an addictive difficult, because admitting they're powerless is anathema to them."
pattern, they feel completely cut off, hopeless, and isolated. Human
Theo often was high. He couldn't hold a job. When he ran out of
contact, which is absolutely essential to recovery, is the last thing a
money,
and could no longer afford his apartment, he asked a friend
person with an addiction wants."
of his mother (his mother had died) if he could sleep on her couch.
Theo knew he was isolated, but also believed he didn't need any He spent 10 sober days at the house.
help to get sober. "I clung to my intellect. I was raised to worship the
Then Theo asked his mother's friend for $20. "I used it to get as
intellect. To worship education and will. The pure power of the will."
high as a kite. Shot up in her bathroom. She told me she knew what
Dr. Garbely said quite a few studies support what he and so many I was on, and that I needed help. She said, 'You're going to either
others in the field have discovered from experience - you can't think get help or be homeless.'
your way out of an addiction. "Many studies concerning the chronic
"That's when I went to a recovery house." But he didn't go to get
disease model show that the lack of activation of the prefrontal
better.
He went because he thought it would buy him time, and
cortex can predict a relapse. They argue against your being able to
would
enable
him to find drugs. He bought a valium from a fellow
think your way out of it. If it were that simple, we wouldn't exist,
user
who
had
smuggled it into the house by putting it between his
and other places like us wouldn't."
gum and cheek.
Continued on page 16

Winter Fall
20162017
- 17 : Philadelphia Medicine 15


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