While the holidays bring gatherings with family and friends, they also can shine a light on the struggles people are facing with addiction.
Mark Puckett of the St. Kolbe-Puckett Center for Healing said he is seeing an increase of overdoses in the community, many of which have resulted in deaths.
This can be a hard time for addicts to get through alone, even those who have put in work to recover but are still fighting. Puckett said he and others involved in the addiction-recovery community have been especially impacted by the recent overdose death of a mother in the community who had been working to overcome her issue.
“The problem that you have is, a lot of people that are addicts have alienated family members, OK. And, of course, this is the holiday season. Thanksgiving just passed. That’s, you know, that’s the day of gathering,” Puckett said. “If they’re working in a program, a 12-step program, they should have a sponsor and they should keep in close contact with their sponsor if they feel like they’re going to use. If they get ahold of their sponsor, a lot of the time their sponsor can talk to them and get them to go catch a meeting and they’ll be OK.”
If someone is working to become clean from addiction, their tolerance of a drug is lower than what they may have used before, he warned.
“The longer you’re clean, the lower that level gets. The biggest thing that we see when people relapse is they say, ‘Oh, well, when I quit I was doing a button, I could do a whole button, I could do a half a button,’” Puckett said. “They go get a button of heroin and they do the whole thing, and they overdose and die because their levels have gone back down. It’s too much for their system.”
Puckett said beyond the relapses he has seen, he’s also concerned about laced pills.
In October, a 17-year-old died in Chillicothe after she ingested a fake prescription pill without knowing its origin. This is something Puckett said happens often, and he even compared taking a pill from the streets to Russian roulette.
“The pills that they’re buying on the street are not prescription narcotics like they think they are,” he said. “There are pill presses all over the United States and they’re pressing pills and they’re putting fentanyl in these pills. So when they think they’re getting a pure pill, they’re not. They’re laced with fentanyl.”