Healthcast: Stopping Addiction


It’s being called a national opioid epidemic. Recovery specialists continue to see rises in heroin use. But once someone gets hooked, it can be nearly impossible to kick the habit on their own.

John Cunningham may be pumping iron now, but it was heroin pumping through his veins not too long ago.

He even showed us this vein he blew out when shooting up.

Cunningham said, “I could not stop. The years would pass and I would try. Things just got really bad.”

A truck accident led to pain pills, then to heroin and then to arrests and homelessness.

“Overdosed a couple times and almost died,” Cunningham detailed.

He’s not alone. Heroin causes one in every four overdoses.

In the past decade, its grip has claimed double the number of young adults. Nearly half of all heroin addicts were first hooked on prescription opioid pain pills.

John Templeton, President and Founder of Footprints Beachside Recovery Center, in Tampa, Florida, called it a “Healthcare crisis in our country.”

Templeton said the surge in heroin addicts has followed a crackdown on prescription pill mills. Heroin is cheaper, easier to get, but so much more dangerous.

Cunningham described it as, “Your skin feels like it’s crawling out. It’s the worst thing imaginable that I’ve ever been through.”

Strung out for ten years, Cunningham made it to Footprints Beachside Recovery Center where 30 days cost $14,000 and typically patients need to stay longer.

“The life expectancy of a using heroin addict is not very long,” detailed Templeton.

Cunningham’s treatment consisted of at least a week of detox, more than 27 hours a week of therapy, physical fitness and ongoing 12 step support groups.

Templeton’s advised, “They say when you go to treatment if you want to get sober you only have to change one thing – everything.”

Cunningham changed everything, but many don’t.

“The biggest problem I see is with families is that they will enable the person and that doesn’t help them,” said Cunningham.

Cunningham has been drug free for a year. He found a way to work himself out of a terrible place.

The CDC said improvements need to be made when it comes to prescribing prescription painkillers. Research shows addiction to the painkillers means there’s a 40 percent chance of becoming addicted to heroin. By the way, John Templeton said “Many insurance providers will cover the cost of substance abuse rehabilitation treatment.”

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