Tag Archives: recovery

Wilkes-Barre Faces Heroin Scourge

WILKES-BARRE, Pa. — For William Lisman, the longtime Luzerne County coroner, the first sign of the coming plague appeared in the hills of northeastern Pennsylvania in November 2015.

A 27-year-old woman from one of the mountain towns surrounding Wilkes-Barre was found dead in her family home.

Lisman suspected a drug overdose. She was young. She had been healthy. There were no obvious signs of trauma. And heroin abuse had been on the rise in recent years.

“When a person dies of an overdose, the lungs fill with fluid,” he said. “The victims essentially drown in their own fluids.”

Because autopsies are expensive and time consuming, many coroners faced with cases like these do toxicological tests designed to pick up traces of known drugs to determine the cause of death. But the first test Lisman administered came back negative. So did the second.

So Lisman listed the cause of death as undetermined.

Several days later, a 34-year-old man was found dead in a sleeping bag in the nearby city of Hazleton.

Once again, Lisman suspected a fatal drug overdose. Once again, the tox tests came back negative. And once again, he listed the cause of death as undetermined.

“I remember when it started because it was budget time and they were about to cut my budget,” he said, with a wry chuckle. “At that point the doctor I had been consulting with (about these two cases) told me, ‘Bill, there is something going on here’.”

Like many coroners in smaller counties, Lisman is not a doctor. But he knows about death. A third-generation Wilkes-Barre resident, he and his family ran a funeral home that buried several generations of city residents. He reached out to fellow coroners in neighboring counties to see if they had similar cases.

meditation

nature-25Dedicating some time to meditation is a meaningful expression of caring for yourself that can help you move through the mire of feeling unworthy of recovery. As your mind grows quieter and more spacious, you can begin to see self-defeating thought patterns for what they are, and open up to other, more positive options.n Sharon Salzberg

Recovery Check list

  • Accept that you have an addiction.
  • Practice honesty in your life.
  • Learn to avoid high-risk situations.
  • Learn to ask for help.
  • The most difficult path of recovery is doing it alone.
  • Practice calling friends before you have cravings.
  • Become actively involved in self-help recovery groups.
  • Go to discussion meetings and begin to share. You are not alone.
  • Get a sponsor and do step work.
  • Get rid of using friends.
  • Make time for you and your recovery.
  • Celebrate your small victories.
  • Practice saying no.
  • Take better care of yourself.
  • Develop healthy eating and sleeping habits.
  • Learn how to relax and let go of stress.
  • Discover how to have fun clean and sober.
  • Make new recovery friends and bring them into your life.
  • Deal with cravings by “playing the tape forward”; consequences.
  • Find ways to distract yourself when you have cravings.
  • Physical activity helps many aspects of recovery.
  • Deal with post-acute withdrawal symptoms.
  • Develop strategies for social environments where people use.
  • Keep a gratitude list of your recovery, your life, and people.
  • Say goodbye to your addiction.
  • Develop tolerance and compassion for others and for yourself.
  • Begin to give back/help others once you have a solid recovery.
  • See yourself as a non-user.