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Conversation with Typical Patient Regarding Substance Use

DR. GUPTA: My understanding is, around age 20, you started using Vicodin recreationally, once a week or so. Wonder if you could tell me what sort of happened at that stage in your life? How did things progress from there on?

MS. OERTLE: Well, I think my path into addiction Treatment, which eventually was heroin addiction Treatment, is pretty similar to a lot of people’s stories. They start out with the Vicodin, low milligrams, not knowing how addictive it can be, using it recreationally until then they need it. That’s what happened to me.

It slowly happened from the weekend to then need it throughout the week, needing something to go to work. Eventually, I needed something stronger than Vicodin. I was doing OxyContins, Dilaudid, things like that, until that eventually led to me doing heroin.

DR. GUPTA: Can you talk about that? When you say it eventually led to heroin, what does that mean?

MS. OERTLE: Well, I was physically addicted. And the higher milligram things like Oxycontin and Dilaudid to me are pretty much like heroin. They’re like synthetic heroin — almost as strong.

So when it came to the point and I couldn’t find those kinds of pills, I had to go to the street to prevent my withdrawal symptoms, so that I could participate in my life — my children, getting them to school, me going to work. So that’s how I got into using heroin after the pills.

DR. GUPTA: Again, you have two children


DR. GUPTA: And you were doing this in order to be able to function, it sounds like. So heroin — where were you using it?

MS. OERTLE: In my home. In the bathroom — while my kids were there, while they were at school. It was so much a part of my life — it was a part of my life. It’s crazy to think about how the things that I did, but it was necessary, or I wouldn’t have been able to function.

DR. GUPTA: Who do you call, if you will? What did you do when you started to get help? How did you — where did you even begin?

MS. OERTLE: Well, I tried a few times on my own. It didn’t work. I personally couldn’t get through the withdrawal symptoms. I couldn’t tough it out.

I know some people can. I couldn’t do it. This last time has been the most successful recovery for me. I’ve been in recovery for about a year.

I’m on it’s called Medicated-Assisted Addiction Treatment, and I take Suboxone, which is the Buprenorphine that the Surgeon General was talking about earlier. I’m in a program, it’s called UMADAOP — it stands for Urban Minorities Alcohol and Abuse Outreach Program — I think that’s what it stands for.

THE PRESIDENT: That’s pretty good. (Laughter.)

MS. OERTLE: And that’s where I go. And it’s very intense. It’s a lot of counseling, group counseling with other people that are in treatment, and then individual counseling, talking to a doctor. It’s just really good. It’s really worked for me this time.

DR. GUPTA: And again, I prefaced by saying talk about what you’re comfortable talking about, but did you have interaction with law enforcement?

DR. GUPTA: And again, I prefaced by saying talk about what you’re comfortable talking about, but did you have interaction with law enforcement?

MS. OERTLE: Yes, yes, quite a few times.

DR. GUPTA: What happened?

MS. OERTLE: I’ve had to steal. I’ve stolen from department stores and — to feed my habit. I’ve been involved in drug busts a couple of times. So, yeah.

DR. GUPTA: When you talk about this medically assisted therapy, you’re essentially using one type of addiction medicine — doesn’t give you the same type of euphoria or high — but to help you wean off of the heroin in this case. Is that right?

MS. OERTLE: Yes, yes. And what I take actually blocks — I couldn’t get high if I wanted to use heroin. It blocks the receptors in the brain so that you can’t get high.

DR. GUPTA: And I’m going to come back to you in a few minutes again, but I wonder if you could just say — you’ve tried this a bunch of times, and now you’ve been a year again in recovery. Is there something that worked this time? And for people out there who say it just doesn’t work for me, I’ve tried, it doesn’t work — what worked this time for you?

MS. OERTLE: I think this time I wanted it more than anything, and taking that step forward, along with the support that I get from my family and UMADAOP advocating — I mean, this helps. Getting out there, telling my story, and helping other people helps me, and it makes me want to stay in recovery and keep doing what I’m doing.

DR. GUPTA: Great. Thank you very much.

MS. OERTLE: Thank you.


Is this your story also, or do you know someone close to you or near you in a similar situation?

Addiction Treatment is a chronic disease that requires chronic treatment for control. We are here to help you and your family through the difficult times, with Hands Open, and Hearts Open

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