Rock honoree envisions all-star events to promote treatment and recovery | Addiction Professional Magazine Skip to content Skip to navigation

Rock honoree envisions all-star events to promote treatment and recovery

August 1, 2015
by Gary A. Enos, Editor
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Rock guitarist and new Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee Ricky Byrd won't call out someone else's 12-Step participation, but don't expect him to be silent about his own. He will talk about his meeting involvement with just about anyone who will listen, and his main audience lately consists of young people who need a healthy dose of hope in their lives.

In a plenary session on the opening day of the National Conference on Addiction Disorders (NCAD) in St. Louis, Byrd combined a talk about his life story with performances of several songs about addiction and recovery on the acoustic guitar. He indicated to the audience of clinicians and managers that he would like to carve a higher-profile presence in the treatment community, as he has founded the Clean Getaway foundation that will seek to assemble all-star bands and raise money for local treatment entities.

“I want to do a 12-stop Step tour, or a 12-Step stop tour,” quipped Byrd, who this year was inducted into the Rock Hall with the other members of Joan Jett and the Blackhearts—and who talked openly about his recovery during the nationally televised acceptance speech.

Byrd filled in at NCAD for Richie Supa, who has written songs for numerous top artists and who briefly played at one time in his career with Aerosmith. The arrangement was fitting because Supa and Byrd are longtime friends in recovery who now each have found a way to reach out to others through their music. Supa directs the creative recovery program at the Recovery Unplugged young-adult program in South Florida, while Byrd has been doing similar work on visits to Sunrise Detox's facilities in New Jersey.

“I'm not anonymous,” said Byrd, adding that in his very early recovery he proudly wore a triangle around his neck on the back cover art for Joan Jett and the Blackhearts' last record.

Working in the rooms

Byrd, who has been sober since September 1987 when someone placed a phone call on his behalf and got him into a 12-Step meeting, clearly buys into the Steps' potential for helping society emerge from its present crisis point in addiction.

“I never go to a bad meeting, because I either hear how to work my program or how not to work my program,” he said.

He also issued a strong call for personal responsibility in seeking treatment and working one's recovery. “Anything [else] put before sobriety will be lost,” he tells those who waver. “Don't leave before the miracle happens,” he tells those who have had less than satisfactory experiences. And to those looking for a scapegoat when something in treatment doesn't go well, he would say, “Don't blame the treatment center, baby; it's you.”

Byrd is organizing the first Clean Getaway event on Sept. 19 in Torrington, Conn. He would like to find numerous partners across the country who would have ideas about raising funds locally through music. He admits to never thinking small, with this reference to his substance-using days: “I never did one of anything; I'm addicted to more.”

The 58-year-old Bronx native described a boyhood love for baseball and the New York Yankees that later would be accompanied by an interest in music fueled by the British Invasion, and later a debilitating addiction. Saying he does not have great insight into addiction's causes and typical profiles, he explained that all he knows is that when he and many others choose to pick up their first drink or drug, they find they can't stop. “To me the obvious answer is not to pick up the first one,” he said.



Algesia, of Greek origin, refers to the sensitivity to pain.

Analgesics, are drugs used to reduce the feeling of pain, commonly known as painkillers. Analgesics can be derived from opioid sources or non-opioid sources. Non-opioid analgesics are relatively safer while opioid analgesics are made from the capsules of Papaversomniferum and carry a risk of addiction.

Opiates work by interacting with specific opioid receptors located in the human brain, spinal cord and nerves. These drugs are prescribed only in cases of chronic pain which cannot be managed by over-the-counter drugs. Medical practitioners prescribing these drugs are well aware of the potential risks of addictionthat these drugs carry and prescribe these with great caution and try to control the dosage to minimize the risk of addiction.

Opioid painkillers are among the most commonly abused prescription drugs, because of the feeling of euphoria and well being that they provide along with pain relief.Addiction arises when patients try to self-prescribe for their pain and unused pills are used for non-medical conditions.

The commonly abused drugs in this category are given below are:

1. Morphine, a natural opium alkaloid, which is used for moderate to severe pain. Short-acting formulations are taken as needed for pain.
2. Codeine, less potent than morphine. Codeine is used to treat mild to moderately severe pain.
3. Butorphanol, similar to morphine, used for postoperative pain.
4. Meperidine, a synthetic opioid. It may be used before or during surgery, to support anesthesia, for pain relief during labor and delivery, or for other conditions.
5. Fentanyl, a synthetic opioid, which is 100 times more potent than morphine. Fentanyl is used as part of anesthesia to help prevent pain after surgery or other medical procedure.
6. Pentazocine, it has morphine like effects in low doses. Treating moderate to severe pain, including before surgery or anesthesia.
7. Tramadol, a synthetic codeine derivative.
8. Oxycodone, semi-synthetic derivative of a substance called thebain, commercially sold as Oxycontin.
9. Hydrocodone and acetaminophen, sold as Vicodin.
10. Oxycodone and acetaminophen, sold as Percocet. Acetaminophen is a less potent pain reliever that increases the effects of oxycodone.

All the given drugs carry with them a high risk of dependence and addiction. Those who abuse painkillers put themselves at high risk for a variety of side effects, such as depression, insomnia, constipation, liver damage, mood swings, nausea and vomiting. These drugs also carry the risk of fatal overdose.

It is not advisable to try to detox from painkillers all of a sudden when experiencing the first signs of addiction.
In the detoxification process, physicians usually prescribe a synthetic opioid antagonist. While these are chemically classified as opioids, they do not produce the same addictive and dependence effects.

There are several different drugs available to help people struggling with painkiller addiction and all of them work in different ways. Such drugs include naloxone, methadone, buprenorphine and naltrexone.
The key here is to realize that prescription painkillers carry the risk of dependency and the risks need to be well-managed by carefully controlling dosages and watching the first signs of addiction.