Counselor to Heroin Addicts: There Is Hope

As the scourge of heroin continues taking lives in the St. Louis area, a local counselor wants those who are in a battle with the drug to know that there is hope.

Chestnut Health Systems, Adult Substance Abuse Services Director Susan Taylor says they have seen the addiction take hold, but they’ve also seen people recover and live full, productive lives.

Taylor says they’re seeing heroin users from 17 to 60-years-old and 70 percent of the addicts in the Madison County Drug Court are women.

Taylor says there are many reasons people get hooked on heroin, including boredom, peer pressure and to escape from reality. She says once they’re on it, it’s difficult to stop because of the neurological changes to the brain due to the presence of the drug and the eventual physical dependence.

Taylor says the signs of heroin use include lethargy, a change in friends and the loss of interest in other interests. She says you may also see paraphernalia, like spoons and linoleum wrappers, around the house.

She says if you suspect heroin use, you should have a talk with the person, and strongly encourage them to seek help. She says you should approached the person with love and concern and tell them you are willing to go through the treatment process with them.

While Taylor says there is no ‘magic fix’ to get off heroin, Chestnut believes in holistic treatment, “The thing that we try to focus on in treatment is that they are not a heroin addict. They are a person who has an addiction to heroin but they’re also somebody’s son, they could be a teacher they could be a lawyer.”

She says that with through treatment, behavioral therapy, 12 step meetings and support of others, people do get better, “We have people graduating from drug court who tell us their stories. They have gone on to get college degrees, master’s degrees and they have gone on to support people in the addiction field.”

Taylor says if there is one positive thing that’s come out of the heroin epidemic is the new team approach, with law enforcement and the judicial system joining the fight and working to understand heroin addiction.

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