About two years ago I was reconnected with a person from my past. I wasn’t best friends with this guy but knew him and his family well.
It had probably been a year or two since I had seen him when I got a call from the ER. It was my day on unassigned and God decided to recross our paths. It was the very common ER call of a man who says he got bit by a spider in the elbow area. In case you are not familiar, in WV we have a huge problem with “spiders” that bite people right over top of a vein in the elbow. It is the same type of abscess you see when someone uses a dirty needle to inject opiods.
As usual this patient told me he was cleaning out the barn and got bit. I knew the patient had trouble in the past with drugs but I gave him the benefit of the doubt. In the coarse of his hospital stay I continued him on the narcotics he was prescribed for a previous, work-related lower back injury.
When he got out of the hospital I agreed to continue to see him but told him we had to try to start decreasing some of his narcotics. He was “behaving himself,” never asked for refills early and always passed his drug screens. The last time I saw him we continued to decrease his dosage. I then received a call that the patient had overdosed and died with a needle in his arm. An empty bottle which he had filled two days prior with my name on it was found in his room.
I couldn’t help but feel responsible for his death. This gave me a great desire to study addicts and try to help them.
Suboxone is a drug used to aid the symptoms and cravings one has as they begin withdrawal. In my program, it is mandatory that they receive counseling at the same time as the suboxone therapy.
I explain to the participants that if they broke their leg a doctor would perform surgery and give them crutches. The surgery fixes the problem and the crutches help support you while the body heals. I believe that when dealing with drug addiction, the Suboxone is the crutch and the counseling is what heals the patient.
My ultimate dream is to develop a non-profit that would have a farm where these patients can recover in the safe and friendly Christian environment that will maximize their success.