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Painkillers, Heroin, and the Road to Sanity by Joani Gammill


Real Solutions for Long-Term Recovery from Opiate Addiction
By Joani Gammill
Author of The Interventionist

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, part of the National Institutes of Health, the total number of prescriptions for opiate pain relievers in the United States jumped from 76 million in 1991 to 210 million in 2010. And Americans are more likely to die from an overdose of medication than to die on the highway. These astounding facts along with real-life solutions to the nation’s painkiller abuse epidemic can be found in the first book ever to address this problem from the inside out:

PAINKILLERS, HEROIN, AND THE ROAD TO SANITY: Real Solutions for Long-Term Recovery from Opiate Addiction (Hazelden; May 2014; $14.95; Original Trade Paperback) by Joani Gammill, author of The Interventionist. Joani Gammill, a recovering alcoholic, was struggling with a back injury and the pain it caused. After surgery, she was prescribed a cornucopia of opiate-based drugs including Oxycontin, which her doctor said was a nonaddictive painkiller used especially for recovering addicts (information that came straight from the drug company). She got hooked and ten years later, with the help of Dr. Phil, who performed and televised her intervention, Gammill found sobriety again, this time from alcohol and opiates. She has gone on to a successful career as a professional interventionist who helps everyone from celebrities to executives to moms get into treatment.

Through her work as well as her own experiences, Gammill is highly educated on the subject of painkillers, and in PAINKILLERS, HEROIN, AND THE ROAD TO SANITY she shares some eye-opening facts:

• Americans make up 5 percent of the world population, yet we consume over 90 percent of the opiates worldwide.

• According to Erin Marie Daly of the blog Oxy Watchdog, “Florida’s crackdown on pill mills has dried up the supply of pills to much of the East Coast, with the unintended consequence of fueling heroin abuse.”

• Ocean County, New Jersey, supplies much of the heroin to the East Coast due to its centralized location near Philadelphia and New York City, as well as its extensive coastline and thriving tourist business, which make it easy for drug dealers to hide.

• Women who have experienced sexual abuse and suffer from PTSD as a result are most likely to develop an addiction to opiates and cocaine.

• Treatment for opiate addictions typically requires more than one twenty-eight-day stay in a treatment center.

• The rate of relapse from opiate addiction is among the highest when compared to other addictive substances.

Gammill eloquently describes the problems that prevent doctors and the authorities from stopping the abuse. She also recommends some solutions that include proper use of antidepressants and other nonopioid-based drugs to control pain. For people who have crossed the line into addiction she suggests intervention; residential treatment; Twelve Step and cognitive-behavioral therapy programs; healthcare system overhauls that make it possible for people with and without financial means to get help; and education. In fact, with the right curriculum, education may be the most important in that it is a preventative measure that can begin as early as elementary school.

Understanding what opiate addiction is as well as turning to alternative therapies for pain relief in the first place can help prevent a problem that is so much harder to fix after the brain becomes hardwired to crave opiate medications and heroin. PAINKILLERS, HEROIN, AND THE ROAD TO SANITY will show why and how this problem has ballooned and how if we address it on several levels—federal and judicial, medical, and individual—we will change the statistics and save thousands of lives.

Joani Gammill, RN, has appeared regularly on Dr. Phil, where she has led interventions that have inspired millions of viewers. Before her career as an interventionist, she worked as a registered nurse in medical facilities, including a drug and alcohol rehabilitation center. She is also the author of The Interventionist (Hazelden, 2011).