Tags Posts tagged with "Vicodin"

Vicodin

By Tracey Farrell

In 2002, my 16-year-old son Kevin had surgery on his shoulder for a football injury. He was prescribed 60 Vicodin pills with no other instructions but to take one or two of them every four to six hours for pain.

I didn’t know they weren’t like antibiotics, and you weren’t supposed to take all 60. He was still in pain, so they gave him 60 more. Well, guess who is now addicted to them? He was buying them during lunch.

This is the high school quarterback. His girlfriend is the cheerleading captain. He is beautiful, loving, fun and funny. His friends love him. His teachers and coaches love him. He has not an enemy in the world. He graduates. He works. He is a great kid.

Kevin chose to smoke pot instead of taking the pills soon after high school, but at some point he went back to the pills — especially since I was on him all of the time to stop smoking. He had multiple concussions over his high school football career. After his last one, I saw a change in his personality. He was easily angered, depressed, anxious — all things he was not before.

I didn’t know at the time that marijuana and opioids help make all of those symptoms so much better. The drugs make them disappear. I didn’t know that the only enemy he did have was the one within himself.

Tracey Farrell and her son Kevin Norris in 2010. Photo from Tracey Farrell
Tracey Farrell and her son Kevin Norris in 2010. Photo from Tracey Farrell

When Kevin went back to the pills, he began snorting them this time. A lot of them. Once I saw a powder residue on his glass desk and, only knowing what I saw on TV, I put it on my tongue to see if it would numb it.

Nope, not cocaine.

I knew deep down something was going on. He didn’t shower as often or take care of his teeth. Changes in his habits were starting to happen.

These Oxycodone pills are expensive, and make you painfully sick when you don’t have them. An addict becomes so desperate that they will beg, borrow and steal to get them — literally. Eventually when you have exhausted stealing your family’s available cash, you steal their jewelry, sports memorabilia and anything else of value you can sneak out of the house. You write bad checks from your mom’s bank account. Eventually you realize there’s an alternative available and you turn to heroin. It’s cheap, and readily available. You just have to put money in your mailbox and drugs appear moments later.

That point happened some time in 2011. I assume he started snorting it before he shot it.

Nine years in and I am still clueless, uneducated, unaware to so much of it. Kevin never, ever looked high in front of me. I was missing spoons, which are used to melt the heroin down to a soluble form, but I still thought maybe they were thrown out by mistake? Yes, he had been to rehab, but I didn’t know that it didn’t fix you. I didn’t know that me giving him no option but to enter rehab wouldn’t work. I didn’t know that he had to want to be in recovery.

I learned how to be manipulated. I enabled everything. I believed every lie he told me and would hand over money in fear he would be killed for the money he owed.

Eventually, he must leave the house. Kevin would live in his car, on which I was now making the payments and insuring. It’s winter and I cannot fathom the thought of him in a car at Christmas, so I get him an apartment. I sent his stepfather over many times to see if he was alive when I couldn’t get in touch with him. I even called 911 on him when I thought he was suicidal, which resulted in a short hospital hold. I started to understand that he does not want this for himself, but doesn’t know how to stop. He fears withdrawal, and I hear his pain and cries when he begs me for money because he is so sick. He is eventually hospitalized for a blood infection. I realize I can no longer keep him in that apartment.

I clean the place out.

He didn’t need much food. The only thing in the fridge was water. I find all the things he has used as a tourniquet. There is an amazing amount of plastic garbage bag drawstrings removed from bags, Q-tips everywhere with the cotton taken off which are used as filters. So many water bottle caps. So many syringes.

“There were times I threw money into his car so angrily when he asked me. I struggled between loving him and hating him.”

I didn’t want my son to die, but I’m realizing I’m making it more comfortable for him.

Through most of his addiction he was highly functioning, always holding down a job. This was no longer the case.

He gets out of the hospital and is back to his car. I’m giving him $20 a day. He gets food stamps and Medicaid from the Department of Social Services. I find he sells what’s on his food stamp card. I pump gas in his car, but I do not hand over more cash. There were times I threw money in his car so angrily at him when he asked.

I struggled between loving him and hating him.

He began living in a hotel with his dealer and got arrested for possession of a syringe. He’s assigned a public defender, but of course Mom pays the fees and it’s knocked down.

But a few days prior, he made the choice on his own — which is key — to seek help.

He made the calls on his own, instead of me doing all of the legwork, to enter South Oaks Hospital in Amityville. His third try at rehab. But now, he wants it.

I went to a family meeting about 10 days in.

There he is. My son, my real son. Thank you, thank you and thank you.

He was enrolled in a 28-day program. He went to Mainstream House in Riverhead, a sober house. We do family things together again. We shop, we go to lunch, dinner. He wanted to be around us again. I haven’t had this in years. We laugh, we cry.

He got kicked out of sober living for having Ambien, a prescription drug, because he had a hard time sleeping. I let him back home. Kevin has a new job, a new girlfriend. He seems happy.

Tracey Farrell, a Rocky Point resident and founder of North Shore Drug Awareness Advocates, displays her luminaire in memory of her son Kevin during the third annual Lights of Hope event in Port Jefferson on Aug. 31. Photo by Nora Milligan
Tracey Farrell, a Rocky Point resident and founder of North Shore Drug Awareness Advocates, displays her luminaire in memory of her son Kevin Norris during the third annual Lights of Hope event in Port Jefferson on Aug. 31. Photo by Nora Milligan

I didn’t go to the classes I should have. I didn’t learn that someone new to recovery does not want their past thrown at them. One day at a time is their mantra. Yesterday is the past. He’s going to his meetings on a regular basis, but now that he is working, that starts to not be as often. Anything that goes missing I automatically accuse him. He wants a new phone because his is old and cracked. I bought him a new one and he “lost” it. I still tell him that if he didn’t sell it he would have it. He tells me he is working an honest program and that he has told me everything — including that he did not sell the phone. I apologize and tell him I am proud of him.

Kevin is working for a company which does party rentals.

One Sunday, in September 2012, he came home looking tired. He was thrilled that they gave him a $100 tip. They even gave him the leftover cake, which we of course ate together. We spoke of the cotton candy on his sneakers, because he worked the cotton candy machine. He thought it was fun.

The next day, his sister found him dead in bed. It was an accidental overdose.

They say money is a trigger.

I will never know what led him back. I know now I didn’t cause it. I couldn’t control it and I couldn’t cure it. I prepared myself that this day could come, but I thought he was in the clear. Our very last conversation was about cotton candy, one of the things I craved most when I was pregnant with him.

I still have the cotton-candy-covered shoe laces. I miss him every day. I still struggle with not doing the things I now know I should have done, and I try to teach people every day to not make the same mistakes I did. Learn from me please. Let me tell you anything and everything that may help you or your loved one. It helps me to help you.

I just went to a celebration meeting of one of his best friends celebrating one year of sobriety on Sunday, and he said, “I think he may have died so I can live.”

Tracey Farrell, formerly Tracey Budd, is a Rocky Point resident who, since her son’s passing, educates others on drug abuse and assists in finding help for those who are struggling, or know someone who is struggling, with addiction. She is the founder of North Shore Drug Awareness Advocates and also a 2015 TBR Person of the Year.

Narcan, a drug that stops opioid overdoses. File photo by Jessica Suarez

Concerned that a loved one will overdose on drugs? Suffolk County is hosting training classes over the next few months to teach residents how to identify overdoses of opioid drugs — such as heroin, Vicodin and Percocet — and use the anti-overdose medication Narcan to rescue victims.

The county’s parting gift for people who show up to the program is an emergency resuscitation kit that contains Narcan as well as a certificate of completion.

The first class, on Feb. 4, will be a bit of a hike away, at the Mattituck firehouse on Pike Street from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. (RSVP to ihateheroin631@gmail.com).

There will be another in Greenlawn on Feb. 12, from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Harborfields library on Broadway (RSVP to Sheila Sullivan at 631-271-8025 or sullivans@nysa.us).

A third will take place on Feb. 18 in Wyandanch, at the Wyandanch Community Resource Center on Straight Path from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. (RSVP to 631-643-1960 or mthomas@townofbabylon.com).

Following a March 3 course in Bohemia, at the Connetquot Public Library on Ocean Avenue from 6 to 7 p.m. (RSVP to 631-665-2311), the county is holding one at the Setauket firehouse on Nicolls Road. That event, on Thursday, March 31, will run from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. Participants can RSVP to 631-854-1650 or seth.squicciarino@suffolkcountyny.gov.

Drug busts are becoming more common in Suffolk County. Above, drugs and other items seized during one such bust. File photo

Overall crime is dropping in the 6th Precinct — but one wouldn’t know that by looking at the number of drug arrests.

Fewer crimes are being reported across the board while heroin arrests have doubled in the last five years, according to Suffolk County Police Department statistics shared at a joint meeting Tuesday night of the Port Jefferson Station/Terryville Civic Association and Comsewogue Community Crime Awareness Committee. Inspector Bill Murphy, the head of the precinct, said those arrests numbered 148 in 2011 but ballooned to 298 last year.

“And that’s just our arrests,” he said, noting that it doesn’t account for all heroin use. “Those are times that we come across it.”

Comsewogue area residents and visitors from neighboring civic associations vented their frustrations about local drug-related crimes and activity at the meeting in the Comsewogue Public Library on Terryville Road as they received the most recent data about police action on the issue. Despite the overall drop in crime, Murphy said drug addicts are still behind many of the reported incidents in the 6th Precinct.

“Unfortunately, a lot of the serious crimes we have are driven by drug abuse: The people addicted to heroin and they’re so addicted to it, they have to get money to go and buy these drugs,” he said. “They’re doing stickups, they’re doing burglaries.”

The police are cracking down on the drug trade, however. Murphy noted that officers had executed search warrants on three “drug houses” in the past week alone. One of them was in Centereach, where he said cops busted a repeat offender and caught him with 4 ounces of cocaine and 2 ounces of heroin.

“He’s going away for a long time,” Murphy said.

But the police activity is not limited to arrests. Officers also attack local drug addiction when they save people from opioid overdoses using Narcan, a medication they carry that stops overdoses of drugs like heroin, Vicodin, OxyContin, Demerol and Percocet.

Officer Will Gibaldi said at the meeting that in the past four weeks alone, they responded to three overdoses in Port Jefferson and one in Port Jefferson Station.

“We do handle a decent amount of them,” the officer said.

Police have been relying on Narcan so much in the few years since they first got access to medication that the department has stopped keeping track of how many lives officers have saved with the overdose antidote.

“We actually stopped giving statistics on it,” Murphy said. “After we broke the ‘500’ mark, there were just so many of them, it was senseless to even bother keeping numbers.”

For residents who are concerned about drug activity in their neighborhoods or want to report it to the police, Gibaldi emphasized that communication with the public is a department priority, saying, “Our door is always open.”

Likewise, Murphy invited people to reach out to him.

“If you contact me with a problem, you will get a response. You will not be ignored.”

People at an anti-drug forum stay afterward to learn how to use the anti-overdose medication Narcan. Above, someone practices spraying into a dummy’s nostrils. Photo by Elana Glowatz

The Suffolk County Police Department handed out dozens of overdose rescue kits in the Port Jefferson high school on Monday night, at the conclusion of a crowded drug abuse prevention forum geared toward educating parents.

“We have to double-down on prevention,” said Tim Sini, a deputy county commissioner for public safety who has recently been nominated for police commissioner.

People at an anti-drug forum stay afterward to learn how to use the anti-overdose medication Narcan. Above, Jim Laffey assembles a syringe. Photo by Elana Glowatz
People at an anti-drug forum stay afterward to learn how to use the anti-overdose medication Narcan. Above, Jim Laffey assembles a syringe. Photo by Elana Glowatz

He and other officials from the police department, medical examiner’s office and community spoke at the forum to inform parents about the dangers of drug abuse, including how kids get introduced to and hooked on drugs in the first place. Much of the discussion focused on opioid drugs, which include heroin as well as prescription painkillers like Vicodin and Percocet, and on the lifesaving Narcan, an anti-overdose medication that blocks opioid receptors in the brain and can stop an overdose of those types of drugs.

According to Dr. Scott Coyne, the SCPD’s chief surgeon and medical director, in the three years since Suffolk officers have been trained to administer Narcan — the well-known brand name for naloxone — they have used it successfully 435 times.

Attendees who stayed after the forum were able to register in the police department’s public Narcan program and receive a kit with two doses of the medication, which can be sprayed into an overdose victim’s nostrils.

Narcan training classes are coming up
Want to learn how to use Narcan, the medication that stops an opioid overdose in its tracks? Training courses are taking place across Suffolk County over the next couple of months, including in Port Jefferson and in neighboring Centereach.

Narcan, the brand name of naloxone, blocks receptors in the brain to stop overdoses of drugs like heroin, Vicodin, Percocet, OxyContin or Demerol, among others. It can be administered through a nasal spray and will not cause harm if mistakenly given to someone who is not suffering an opioid overdose.

The local training sessions meet state health requirements, according to the Suffolk County Department of Health Services, and will teach trainees to recognize opioid overdoses, to administer Narcan and to take other steps until emergency medical personnel arrive on the scene. All participants will receive a certificate of completion and an emergency kit that includes Narcan.

The first course will be held on Monday, Dec. 14, from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at the county’s Office of Health Education in Hauppauge, at 725 Veterans Highway, Building C928. RSVP to 631-853-4017 or wanda.ortiz@suffolkcountyny.gov.

In Centereach, a course will take place on Friday, Jan. 15, from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. in the Middle Country library at 101 Eastwood Blvd. RSVP before Jan. 11 at alonsobarbara@middlecountrylibrary.org or at 631-585-9393 ext. 213.

Later that month, Hope House Ministries will host another Narcan training session in its facility at 1 High St. in Port Jefferson, in the Sister Aimee Room. That event, held in conjunction with the Port Jefferson ambulance company, will take place on Thursday, Jan. 28, at 10 a.m. Call 631-928-2377 for more information or register at https://pjvac.enrollware.com/enroll?id=952865.

by -
0 912
Narcan, a drug that stops opioid overdoses. File photo by Jessica Suarez

Suffolk County is hosting a Narcan training class to teach residents how to administer the life-saving drug that stops opioid overdoses.

According to the county health department, the training class meets New York State requirements and will teach attendees how to recognize and overdose on opioids such as heroin and Vicodin. They will also learn how to administer Narcan through an overdose victim’s nose and what additional steps to take until emergency medical personnel arrive on the scene.

Participants who complete the training will receive a certificate and an emergency resuscitation kit that contains Narcan, also known as naloxone.

The class will be held on Monday, Sept. 14, from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at the Office of Health Education in the North County Complex, 725 Veterans Highway, Bldg. C928, Hauppauge.

For more information on the class, contact Wanda Ortiz at 631-853-4017 or wanda.ortiz@suffolkcountyny.gov.