Teach 2 Dumb Dudes

Sam Perez: Recovery Stories From The Opioid Epidemic

August 01, 2022 Joe Bento Season 2 Episode 16
Teach 2 Dumb Dudes
Sam Perez: Recovery Stories From The Opioid Epidemic
Show Notes Transcript

How bad is the opioid epidemic? What is it like to be in recovery? Sam Perez is a news reporter, author, and daughter parents who opened up DV8 kitchen in Lexington, KY. A restaurant that exclusively hires people in recovery.  Sam shares her experiences growing up in the recovery world, the amazing things her parents have done for the community, and how she is taking those teachings to continue the fight on addiction. Sam shares some wonderful, uplifting stories and lets people know how to spot, and speak with people who may have addiction problems. Be sure to check out Sam's new book Deviate from Denial. Pre-order here! https://deviate-from-denial.square.site

Bento:

What's up everybody. Welcome to another edition of teach two dumb dudes, a bento with my boy Bobby today, we're talking to Sam Perez. Sam is a television news reporter who loves telling stories. She has a very unique upbringing where her parents opened up a restaurant called deviate, which exclusively hires, people who are recovery from substance abuse disorder. She also has a book coming out called deviate from denial era, the stigma of addiction and recovery through inspirational stories. We find out a lot about her story her upbringing in Kentucky, the restaurant, what they do for the community, which is incredible,

Bobby:

as usual we are looking for feedback, you can definitely reach out to us on any of our social media platforms on Facebook, teach two dumb dudes, the number two. And of course, we're always looking for more interesting stories. make sure you follow us, like subscribe we're on every virtual podcast platform out there and every social media thing out there

Bento:

Hey there. How are y'all doing? Hey, good. How are you doing? Hey, doing well.

Bobby:

Good, good. Terrific. Thank you

Bento:

so much.

Sam:

You Kentucky. I'm actually kind of all over. I actually live in South Carolina. Oh, wow. Yes. I moved here for a job just a few weeks ago. Oh, nice. How do you like it so far? I like it a lot. It's going well. Definitely keeping me busy, so I just got off work. So I'm trying to set this background up so

it's

Bento:

not no worries. Yeah. It's okay. Yeah. I know a few people that move to Charleston and they absolutely love it down

Sam:

there. Oh, that's great. Yeah. And are you in Charleston? I'm in Columbia, so yeah, it's like an hour and a half away, but I actually have two good friends that at the end of this month are moving to Charleston, so I'm

Bento:

excited to have. Oh, cool. Nice, nice, great. Yeah. All right, Sam. Well, thanks a lot for coming on. Uh, we really appreciate your time. Like I said, you're, you know, very busy. So, we do appreciate being here. So yeah, it's seen your, profile And we've been trying to find somebody to talk about opioids, for a little while now. so it's definitely good that you have that knowledge and what really caught my eye was, you know, your parents' restaurant called deviate and that's over in Lexington,

Sam:

right? Yeah, it is. Yeah. So having my parents be in the restaurant industry was always really fun growing up open their own restaurant, uh, when I was really little. And so I grew up in that environment, but then you know, having them open deviate kitchen in 2017 was just incredible, especially because of the mission behind it.

Bento:

And what is that mission? When tell, tell us a little bit about deviate and, and

Sam:

how it helps the community. Yeah, absolutely. So everyone at deviate is in, recovery from substance use disorder, which is also known as addiction. So that kind of started because it was an instrumental part of my parents, and their story. So they met in a restaurant when they were in 19 and 21. So, that, you know, was a huge part of their story. And my dad actually very early on in their marriage, went through recovery of his own. So he's an alcoholic. But as long as I've been alive, he's been sober. And so my parents were able to kind of take that and channel it into this passion project of theirs and open a restaurant.

Bobby:

It's so interesting too. I mean, I remember, you know, when, when I was younger and I worked in a lot of different restaurants, all over the place, all over Rhode Island and. Man, what a drug scene, the restaurant scene is like everyone drinks and does drugs. And like, it is outrageous. Those people, like, I don't know how they do it. They have to work late at night. Like that's a crazy

Sam:

lifestyle. Absolutely. And that's, what's so interesting is addiction is a big problem right now, everywhere. Yeah. But it's also huge in the restaurant industry and that's not new, it's been a thing since when my parents were in it. But they did notice that the type of partying, I guess, that, that industry breeds has kind of shifted. And now it's a little bit more hardcore and you know, they were seeing what their other restaurant that they had before deviate. They were seeing people die. Wow. Crazy. And so they were like, okay, we know this industry has partying, which, and it makes sense because of the nature of it. I mean, it's late nights and you don't have to wake up early and you work weekends. And a lot of times there's drinking and, you know, alcohol involved in the environment. So it does make sense, but they were seeing it really kind of escalate in a way that they were really unfamiliar with. And so that's when they decided to try and fix the problem from the industry itself, from within it.

Bento:

And was this in like St.

Sam:

Kentucky? Yeah, it was. Yeah. So my parents have a really cool story. They lived all over and traveled while my dad was opening restaurants and my mom followed him and she was a flight attendant for Delta for a long time. So travel was a big part of their story. And then they kind of settled in Lexington and that's where I, you know, have called home.

Bento:

So, so has the opioid epidemic hit hard in that, in that town,

Sam:

in that city? Absolutely. Yeah. So, very much like Virginia West Virginia, Kentucky got hard because of the coal mining industry. And opioids were marketed a lot to that region. So now we're seeing it everywhere, but it actually kind of got its start in that region where a lot of coal mining is popular. So it's Kentucky, especially

Bobby:

hard and, and it is, it it's all those like manual labor. Places like, you know, where there's a lot of coal mining or like in Massachusetts up here, a lot of fishermen and people who work on boats are really susceptible to those types of things, because they're in the jobs where you can't afford to take time off if you get hurt. Yeah. Yeah. That's one of the biggest problems is that these people are forced to work through all these aches and pains and things that happen because they don't have either the necessary insurance or, you know, programs

Bento:

available

Sam:

to them. Yeah, absolutely. It's a huge problem. And, I. Think that, unfortunately, we started to realize how big of a problem was way too late. You know, these people were taking opioids and getting prescribed opioids, thinking it was totally fine. It wasn't that addictive and it was gonna help with their aches and pains. And then before, you know, it, I mean, we've got this massive epidemic on our hands and, and it's just spread like wildfire.

Bobby:

Yeah. Do you know, do you know how that, that all got started? Like in terms of why the doctors were giving these out so loosely in a

Sam:

sense? Yeah. I'm definitely not an expert on it, but I've done a fair amount of research and a lot of that's included in my book. But it basically started out just, there was not enough research on it and doctors were, promoting it and insurance companies were promoting it as being less addictive than any other, narcotics on the market. And that was that I guess. What they were promoting, that idea was based on a really, really, really small sample size. Mm. And it was of patients that were using it, using opioids in the hospital setting. So they weren't actually going out and, you know, leaving with a full box. Yeah. It maybe. And so there just wasn't enough studying, done on it. There wasn't enough research and then a doctor ended up. Basically writing a sentence that was not necessarily meant to promote opioids. But it kind of got his, his research in that one sentence got taken out of context and unfortunately people latched onto it and really just got this idea in their head that opioids weren't addictive, which now, you know, a few years later we realize is absolutely not the case.

Bobby:

Yeah. Right. Yeah. We know for sure that that's

Bento:

wrong. exactly are a lot of these addictions just, are these people just still on pills or is a lot of, do you know, do they switch to heroin more often

Sam:

than that? Yeah, that's a great question. And I think that's something that not a lot of people understand. I feel like it's really easy to look at someone on what we would consider a harder drug, like heroin and be like, oh my gosh. Well, you know, They should know, not to stick a needle in their arm or whatever. Right. And I think that judgment is often passed, but, number one, I don't think judgment should be passed, you know, on anyone who's struggling in general with, you know, a problem that's outta their control. But also I think it's really important to understand that a lot of these people, you know, didn't start with that. They started with getting their wisdom teeth out when they were in middle school and before they know it, pills were getting expensive and heroin was the cheaper option and they were in debt. So, you know, they hear someone say, Hey, it's the same thing. It's just cheaper. They try it. And then they're hooked. And that's a lot of times what happens, which was really sad and really crazy. But yeah, that's how it works. A lot of.

Bento:

Yeah, I had had in, 2003, I had an accident at work. I used to be a machinist and I had got my hand caught in a machine. And it took part of two of my fingers. So when I got to the hospital, I, I had never, I had never even broken a bone my whole life, so I didn't never experienced kind of pain. So I told 'em I was at a 10 and they gave me, I forget what it was. It was definitely an opioid, you know, intravenously. You know, it was honestly, it was incredible. Like you could feel it run through your body, everything away.

Bobby:

Fantastic. Yeah. All of 'em are so even good. And that's why even

Bento:

before that, I so dangerous. Right. Even before that I left, I even asked, they asked like, oh, how's your pain. I was like, oh, can I just have, you know, just a another one before I go. And like, well, we'll give you a half. it was like, I was already addicted. I only had it once. yeah. So it's, it's really easy to, to get

Sam:

addicted to this. Well, and I think what's so crazy is this is something my mom kind of says tongue in cheek, but it's serious is I think a lot of times, especially to kids when we're educating and, them on, you know, say no to drugs, drugs are so bad and, and they are, and that's clear, but that doesn't mean that when you're taking them and when you're high, that it's really bad. And I think that's kind of a, you know, misconception is like drug. I mean, people get addicted because they feel good on them. Right. Drugs, small doses are good because they do help with things. But I think there's kind of, I think it's really easy to say, you know, oh, drugs are all bad, but it's like, well, yeah, they are. But they also make people feel really good. And that's kind, what gets people started on

Bento:

him. Right. And it was a whole demographic that changed everything too. You know, it, the, the people that got hooked on opioids and the people that were dying from it wasn. Your typical demographic of people that this has been happening to for however many decades. Right. So, it's crazy to see that, you know, people that making six figures a year it's happening to them too. Cuz like you said, they went to the dentist, got some work done and just got addicted that way. Yeah. Of

Bobby:

all the soccer

Sam:

moms. Yeah, exactly. Well, that's the thing is it's. So I feel like that cliche of soccer, moms popping pills has become just as common of a thought, as, you know, seeing, I guess someone who's homeless and, mm-hmm, you know, a drug addict holding a sign. And yeah, I think that's, what's really unique is that addiction doesn't discriminate. It affects everyone. And I do hate that. We, it seems it's becoming talked about more now that it affects different demographic of people. And I think that's kind of shows an issue in itself.

Bobby:

Yeah. Yeah. It's a, it's a shame that that's what it took. Right. But it is funny that, that, you know, if you look at the situation on the whole, the soccer moms and, you know, a homeless person, whatever, like they're, that's the same level, like they're on they're hooking on the same things. It's just the difference of having a support system or not. Right. And if you come from a good family and you have parents who are willing to help you versus, you know, maybe you're in a situation where you don't have any family in the area around you, like

Bento:

that's all it.

Sam:

Oh, my goodness. Absolutely. And I think it's so interesting and that's kind of, one of the biggest things I've seen through my parents' restaurant is at deviate. There's such a wide array of people from all different backgrounds, all different demographics and races and genders and everything. And it's affected them all in the same way. And they've had their own unique struggle and their unique journey and their differences. But I mean, when it, when it comes down to it, they're all working at the same restaurant. They're all in recovery, they're all doing the same thing. And I just think it's so interesting cuz you never think of like, for example, your college professor, you know, struggling with an addiction problem, but there was someone at deviate and I end up telling his story in my book about, you know, he was full on working a college professor schedule and really, really deep in addiction. Wow. So it affects everyone.

Bobby:

Yeah. That's crazy. That's great. And right. The, the idea too, that a lot of those pills are like very functioning. They're very high functioning. So you can like. Drive your car go to work. Right? And then it's not, it's not until you get that moment where you fall asleep in your car or you've taken too much. And now you're in, you know, potential overdose land, like all of those types of things until it has that moment of like, holy crap, like it's gone too far. And I feel like everyone eventually gets to that point. I mean, I know of the guys, I grew up where with here in Rhode Island, A lot of them ended up being addicted to pills one way or another or drugs one way or another. And it, I mean, it's one of those things they're gonna battle with the, in the rest of

Bento:

their lives.

Sam:

Mm. Yeah. Oh, it's so crazy. How, how it, how that happens. And that's definitely a story that I feel like you hear commonly is people being like, oh, you know, I was just taking it like, because I had a backache or whatever, and I was kinda self-medicating or even, you know, I felt good when I was on it. So I was just taking it. Mm-hmm you know, once a day. And, and I didn't realize until I woke up in cold sweats having a withdrawal that I am addicted. And I, I mean it sneaky and it sneaks up on you. And it also can be really hard to recognize even for support systems. So parents might not realize it. Kids might not realize its spouses, whatever it may be. Because it is so high functioning, like you said, and I mean, it really does sneak up on you.

Bento:

Mm. Right. So with your parents, restaurant deviate what are the requirements to work there? Do you, do you have to have already been through some type of program, you know, do they help you find a

Sam:

program? Yeah. So this is something that they've evolved over time. So when they first opened in 2017, they hired anyone and everyone who said they wanted to get sober and, you know, they took all applications and, and they did it that way. But what they've realized is that accountability is a really, really important part of what they do. Sure. And also a huge part of recovery in general. So most programs, you know, rely on community and rely on accountability. But they've worked really hard to incorporate that in the restaurant. So what they do is they partner with different. Recovery communities in Lexington. So those are inpatient, treatment facilities, and they basically find their candidates for employ employment through those houses. So, oh, wow. That way they're able to, you know, make sure that these people are working a program and that they're in a good environment and that they're ready for a job because while it's so awesome that so many people really early on in their recovery want to start working. You really need to take things gradually when you're fresh in sobriety, that needs to be your focus. And then after you, you know, are really set in that, then you can start to bring in employment or whatever it may be. Mm-hmm So they make sure that interesting are, are ready, but employment is a very important part of sobriety because it gives people responsibility and it, it teaches them to, you know, show up and be accountable. So I think the recovery house is also really benefit from having this employment opportunity available to all the people that are living.

Bento:

There's such a great idea for employment too, because If you, if you're in recovery, even early stages, you wanna keep your mind off things and you know, yeah. Bob, Bobby's worked in restaurant. I worked in a restaurant. I mean, you are go, go, go all the time. You're not stopping

Bobby:

comradery around

Bento:

you most of the time, too. Right. Especially if it's support from other people, like you said, who have been through the same exact

Sam:

thing you have. Absolutely. And I think it provides that accountability of, you know, they all have been in the same boat, so they know if someone starts slipping what the warning signs look like and they can hold that person accountable. And then also I think having employers that are really aware of kind of some of the hoops you have to jump through when you're in recovery is really helpful. So for example, if someone, you know, is not doing good and they need to go to a meeting, my parents are understanding like they get it. Right. Same thing as drug court is really big in Lexington. And so a lot of people are in the drug court program. And with that, little summary, basically it's, court mandated a program where you are Basically detoxing. And you have to prove to the judge in order to stay out of jail, that you are sober. So it's great because it gets people outta jail. Right. But a lot of times what you have to do is random drops. So once a week you get a random time, they call you, they say, you know, you have an hour to go ahead and make a drop, so we can do a drug test and ensure that you're clean. And that's great because it's effective and you can't, you know, hack the system, right? Yeah. It's hard. Yeah. But what if you're working in nine to five and it's the middle of your shift? I mean, what do you do? So, yeah, I think having employers that are, you know, aware of stuff like that is

Bobby:

really hard. Sure. And that's why I think the, the connection between the employer and the community house is really, really spectacular. Is that something that you, that you've heard of often is that these community houses, houses will look for different types of employers like that to, you know, run a, some sort of partnership program or, or, you know, co-op

Sam:

or something like that. Yeah. That's a great question. It's one, I don't know the answer to really, but I would say that there aren't that many second chance free, employment opportunities. So I, I think that a lot of treatment facilities would want to do that. And I think when there are options in the same city, that's definitely something that I'm sure, you know, they have connections with very much like the. Houses in Lexington and their relationship with deviate. But I mean, so many there, there just aren't that many employment opportunities that are specifically second chance focused. So, and that's kind of the idea of, of deviate is that it would expand and the idea would expand. And that's why my parents are super passionate about, you know, talking about it and spreading the word. And also, I hope that's something that my book accomplishes because I think it's a great concept. And I think that any business can adopt some form of it. Maybe not be, you know, full on that be their mission. But I think there's value in really any business owner learning about the concept and seeing how they could implement that and what they're doing.

Bobby:

Yeah. Tell us a

Bento:

little bit

Sam:

more about the book. Yeah. So, kind of crazy. I'm a journalist and I love telling stories. So I, uh, really feel like I met some awesome people with really incredible stories through deviate. And I think that the mission of deviate and just how it got it start even with my parents' story is really interesting. And I think it's worth hearing about, so over the years I got to meet really cool people and I kind of collected their stories. And then I sat down in August with the idea of writing a book and, and putting it all together. So my storytelling passion kind of took on a new form and I set out to do that. And it's been a crazy process. It's been super busy, but also really rewarding. How many stories do you have in the. So there's about 20 chapters. And it's broken up into three parts. The entire middle part is the largest part and that's all stories. So I don't know the exact number. I'd say it's probably seven or eight.

Bento:

Nice. Could you share with us, maybe one that really hits

Sam:

home for you? Yeah, absolutely. so I'll say probably the first story that comes to mind. It was really the catalyst for deviate and it's kind of what made my parents really sure that they wanted to solve the problem. And so they had this other restaurant, it was called so good restaurant and pub and they operated that and. I mentioned earlier, but they lost employees to overdoses and to addictions. And so that was something that they had in the back of their mind. Again, they knew that the restaurant industry was one that breeds partying. so they were aware of that. And then one day in, the bathroom, my mom was cleaning the woman's restroom and she found a spoon and she found a Ramin. And this was in, I think, 2013. So things were not talked about as, as much as they are now and yeah, right. They are. So she's like, okay, this is so weird. So she just threw it away and didn't think of it. And then the next day she found it again. And so she Googled it and found out that that was used oftentimes to inject, drugs, intravenously, oftentimes heroin, you heat it up on the spoon and then you inject it. So they called in the police. They had an investigation and they couldn't figure out who it was. Well, eventually over the course of a few days, they ended up finding out that it was this server who like, I mean, blew their mind. She was amazing in every single way you could ever imagine. And it rocked them like, wow. I mean, this woman was like literally a superstar at the restaurant. Every guest loved her, like out of every single person working that shift, she was at the bottom of who they ever would've thought it was. Wow. And what was so interesting is that shifted their perspective because, you know, my dad is in recovery, so like he totally knows that it affects everyone, but that moment was like so pivotal for them. Mm. And so they ended up confronting her and they ended up firing her because, you know, you can't be shooting up drugs in the bathroom, which she understood. And so we ended up kind of, as a family, getting to know her, she was a single mom and we got to know her son and we started going to church with them and we started taking him out to eat. And we basically just had this years long relationship form. And through that relationship, she did relapse and we wouldn't hear from her for a year and then she'd pop back up and she'd get sober. And so it was kind of this crazy wild ride that I feel like in one person taught every single member of my family, something different about substance use disorder and about how it can affect people. And so recently we've reconnected and she is sober and she's doing okay. Good. Really, really well. She's actually crazy enough, working for a treatment facility now, so, oh, terrific. Is there, she's sponsoring people. And she actually has twins on the way, which is so exciting. Whoa. I know she's got her hands full, but like crazy in it. And so anyway, it was just really crazy. I think that was really the catalyst for deviate. And so she impacted, you know, my family's life in, in ways that we could not be more grateful for. And I think she would say the same about us and, and she had yeah.

Bobby:

Reconnecting. Yeah. And I think that, you know, in the same sense, she's lucky that she ran into your nice family. you know, that that probably was a huge help because you know, like we were talking about earlier, you know, not having a support system or, you know, good community, it makes all the difference

Bento:

in the world, especially when, even people that know her personally can't even tell. That she's going through it. Right. You know, like you said, she was the last person hid it really well. Huh? Yeah. Yeah. I mean, that's, that's, that's incredible what a great

Sam:

story. Well, and that's, it's, it's, what's so crazy is I think it is really hard when you you know, are really deep into an addiction is you get really good at manipulating the people around you and, you know, presenting things as truth when maybe they aren't or, or hiding things. And I think that's because there's, I mean, there's a lot of reasons why that is, but I think one of the main reasons is there's a lot of shame and it's something feels so shameful and so dark and it, I mean, and it's sad and it totally is. But I think that one way we can start to kind of erase that stigma is just to start talking about it openly and honestly, and you know, not glorifying it. It's not a good thing, obviously. sure. I mean, we, we should be able to talk about it and not. And be able to approach people honestly, and have them be able to be honest with what they're struggling with.

Bobby:

Yeah. That's a really good point. Cuz I don't think people recognize, like you were saying the sheer numbers that it affects, you know? Yeah. When everyone looks at the, the death numbers and the, the, the toll of the opium epidemic. But in reality, like there are so many people with addiction problems of all kinds of shapes and forms, whether it's money spending gambling, any kind of alcohol or drug, like it's endless and mental health is the same thing. Like it just affects so many of us and I I've never understood why that stigma like that stigmatism exists. Yeah. Because how can people honestly look at themselves and say, yeah, I don't even know a single person. That that has

Sam:

affected like it. Exactly, exactly. And, and I think it's so important to raise that stigma because I mean, it, like you said, it affects everyone. I mean, it could affect you. It could affect me. It literally could affect everyone. So why are we sweeping it under the rug and why are we not talking about it? Because I think that's only hurting us. And I think the only way we're gonna kind of start to see the light is if we really start being honest and like, Hey, this affects so many people and you know, we need to get it out there. We need to get it out in the open. And that's a big part of deviating. Its mission is transparency. And so I mean, employees talk about their stories and, you know, everyone that goes to eat there, you know, for the most part knows that these people are in recovery and they wanna support them in that. And they, you know, wanna hear about it if people wanna share. And that's something that's I think really cool is you'll find a lot of people that are in recovery. Super open and super honest and want to share their story because, you know, maybe it'll help someone. And so that's been really cool to see, especially throughout the book writing process of just how vulnerable people are and how they want to share even some of the, you know, nitty gritty details that I'm sure can be really hard to talk about. But yeah, it's, it's a really incredible how that community is so open.

Bento:

Hmm. And how many people do

Sam:

does the restaurant. That's a great question. I don't know the number off the top of my head. I, we actually have two, so we opened second location. I say we it's my parents, but we're a part of the equation.

Bento:

The family you're on the will. It's fine. Yeah,

Sam:

They opened a second location in August and that's been huge. Sweet actually has a massive bakery. And so we get able to provide baked goods to other restaurants in Lexington and give more people jobs that way. So I don't know the exact number, but they have two restaurants that are fully operational and, you know, they're always looking for ways to be able to hire more people and, and give more people that opportunity.

Bento:

That's cool. How do they fare with COVID? I know that I hit the restaurant industry

Sam:

really. It really did. I mean, it was hard. So they actually, the, the all good locations that I mentioned before they did previously to COVID have three locations. Now there is one still standing and they've actually sold that to focus more so on deviate which has been really cool to see that passion kind of take over their lives and what they wanna do. Mm-hmm but I mean, it was really tough. So the saw good locations, all closed deviate closed and it was really, really hard. So not only for owning, you know, their own business, but also for people in recovery,

Bobby:

Oh, right. Who just lost their jobs

Sam:

that way. Yeah. Which. I mean, it's so sad and they lost that environment that they were having, which bread accountability, but also one thing that is so, so important to recovery is community. The entire concept of, you know, the 12 step model or, I mean, whatever type of recovery you're in, cuz that's not the only one, but it's a big one. Community is at the center of it. So, you know, everyone was used to, if they were struggling, being able to Google AA meeting near me and find one probably within an hour, right. To walk to, and you know, you'd be good to go, but now not only are they virtual, but so many people can't, you know, afford the minutes on their phone to attend those no data plans. Yeah. I mean, so it was a hard time. What was really cool with my parents' restaurant is when it was finally, when they were finally able to open the doors and start hiring just a few employees back they kind of compared their two experiences, one with SA good, which does not employ second chance. People just, you know, anyone who wants to server or whatever, and then with deviate and every single employee, they asked back at deviate jumped at the chance, every single yes, they wanted to be back there. That's all good. There were people that, you know, were a little bit more comfortable with staying at home or maybe were able to get stimulus checks. And so they

Bento:

didn't need

Bobby:

to work. Oh yeah. They were happy with that bonus money that they

Sam:

being collected actually either be collected. Exactly. And Hey, I don't blame him. I get. But I just think it really speaks to deviate. And the culture there that like, I mean, who wanted to work? Like who wants to work, but,

Bento:

but they did it

Bobby:

Yeah. And, and it's probably cuz they recognize, like you were saying how important it is. Yeah. I mean, I gotta believe too. And, and hopefully you can speak this a little bit that, you know, when COVID started and you know, the restaurant closes all of those folks that are now sitting around. Right. And, and like, The temptation is you're just sitting there now has gotta be really torturous in terms

Sam:

of your recovery. Yeah. Oh, absolutely. And mental health, I think plays a huge factor in that too. Mm-hmm and so, I mean, that was hard. People are feeling isolated. And yeah, so that was really tough. I know for a lot of people being alone, not having that community, not having that accountability. And I have mentioned how I think a lot of times it's hard for family members or friends or support systems to realize if their loved one has slipped back into addiction. Mm. So that can be hard sometimes, but a lot of times you do know, you do see the warning signs, but if you're not seeing them in person, you're not able to catch onto that. Right. And then also a really kind of unique issue was during COVID things were, you know, locked down and so. Illegal drugs were not able to be trafficked in the same way they were before. So that's when we started seeing and we'd been seeing it before. But there was a major uptick in fentanyl and yes, accidental overdoses over COVID and what's really interesting is it was not, I mean, this definitely did happen, but the main thing we weren't seeing at least based on my research in Georgia, is it wasn't people who were, you know, feeling sad or whatever, and overdosed intentionally, it was accidental overdoses. They were using alone. And, they had fentanyl mixed into their drugs that they didn't know about. And so, you know, they overdosed and, and that's really sad to think about, but it happened a lot and a lot of it was unin intent.

Bento:

So tell us a little bit about that. I I've one thing I've never understood is you see the, the pictures of, how much and is in heroin is in a vial, how much fentanyl, and it's just such a small amount that, that could kill you. If you are someone who manufactures drugs, why would you want to put this substance into the drugs that could possibly kill. I mean your customer really? I mean, hate, hate to say it like that, but in their eyes,

Sam:

that's what it is. Yeah, that's a good question. So my understanding of it is basically it makes it cheaper. Obviously, if you're only able to use a little bit of fentanyl and mix it in with a larger amount of heroin or whatever drug you're using then you kind of get more bang for your buck, but what's interesting makes it stronger kind of thing. It makes it stronger. And if it, if drugs were you know, regulated like normally like opioids or whatever drug, you know, that's legal and regulated that substance would be mixed really well. And you could see which pill, you know, it hasn't exactly this much of this content, but when you have people making drugs illegally, they're just mixing it all together. And you know, who knows, you might get one pill that's not strong at all. You might get one pill that'll kill you instantly. I mean, there's just no regulation at all. Right. Yeah, that's what I think is happening to a lot of people. And what's so sad too, is, you know, we call 'em overdoses and, and they are, but it almost, I spoke to someone who has a never use alone hotline. So basically people can call and a bunch of nurses volunteer and they run it. And they listen for breathing signs. So if that person were to accidentally overdose, they would dispatch EMS services, uh, right. And save them. Yeah. There are really awesome resources like that out there. Yeah. But I was speaking to her and she was like, you know, I don't understand why we call it overdoses. It's not an overdose. I mean, it is. But she was like, it's poisoning. Like they're not trying to do this. They're not overtaking their dose. They're literally taking what they think is fine and it kills them. And then they get as an overdose and, you know, there are so many questions of like, oh, did they mean to? And,

Bento:

Right. And that's a, that's a stigma that happens to people too, where they, when they say overdose and they say, oh, well, you know, they're just trying to get really, really high. And they did too much. And it's like, no, like it's usually a mistake, you know? No, one's really, no, one's trying to go in there and kill themselves with this stuff. They wanna keep using it because

Sam:

they like. Exactly. I mean, it's, it's really sad and there's so many little nuances like that where it's like, oh man. I mean, I don't know. I, I wish we just talked about it for, for what it was and we're really able to be on.

Bento:

Right. I mean, I think it's cuz for the past four decades we've been hammered with, you know, dare. Yeah. And the war on drugs, the war on drugs big time. Right. And then, you know, people look at prescription pills and they say, well, they're prescribed by a doctor, so they're fine. It's like, no, like a drug is a drug, you know, it's like we all have that friend or family member that, you know, pops Tylenol, like it's going on style. And it's like, Hey, like just cuz it's over the counter. Doesn't mean you can take it constantly.

Sam:

yeah, no, absolutely. And I think people are so just willing to listen to, you know, doctors and people prescribing because they trust them and, and they should, and doctors are great and sure drug makers are great in moderation and I mean, they do have some really good benefit. But yeah, you, I mean, you gotta be careful and you gotta take everything with a grain of salt because I mean, I don't know. You never know, so

Bento:

right. It's always, you know, just educate yourself anytime my doctor wants to put me on something, I say, well, let me take a look. I go home. I took the side effects, you know, look at interactions. I completely trust her. She's a great doctor, but it's also going in my body. It's my responsibility. Due diligence. Exactly. Due diligence.

Sam:

Thank you. Yeah, absolutely. And now we have, I mean the internet and so many great techno technological development. So it's like, you can do that and you can look at forums or, you know, whatever you, whatever research studies, whatever you want to you know, look at to help get more information. And so I think we're living in a really cool time where you are able to do

Bento:

that,

Bobby:

for sure. For sure. Talk to me about one of the things you mentioned earlier about, uh, you know, it's hard to recognize the signs. Tell us, tell listeners, how would they be able to recognize those signs, maybe in someone

Sam:

in their life. Yeah, that's a great question. And it can be really, really hard. Especially because I think a lot of times when we see someone in recovery and we see them doing well, we want to see them that way. And we want to believe that they're still sober. And that they're still working a program. And I think, I mean, that's something that even my parents have, you know, been guilty of is, is not realizing those warning strides. And ultimately, I mean, they have, you know, costed lives and it's, it's a very serious, very real thing and it can be hard, but I think first and foremost, you really need to be honest with yourself and how you're viewing the person you live, because that's, that's what it is. It's people you love. I mean, you want the best for them. You want to believe them and you should believe them. But at the same time, I mean, People when they have an addiction that you know, is growing in them and, and something they're craving. Sometimes they don't act the way that they do when they're sober. Mm-hmm And that's something that a lot of deviate employees are able to say about themselves is like, I, when I am on drugs, I am not the same person. I do not have the same thoughts. I don't make the same decisions. Like I am not the same. And so I think just knowing that, going into a relationship with someone in recovery is really important that like, you know, if they do relapse like that, that's not them like that is someone else and they're gonna behave differently than you would expect. And it also means that they could lie to you and, you know, manipulate you in ways that you maybe wouldn't expect or wouldn't know to look for. So

Bento:

that's number one, and it's tough to spot those signs too, right? Because it's someone that you love. And even if you get the courage to say something, you know, yeah. They'll always say, no, no, don't worry. I'm fine. I would never do that. And obviously your, your first instinct is gonna be to trust them.

Sam:

Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. And, and it should be because it's someone you love and I get it. Right. So I think what my parents and I have found is really the most important is just making sure that people are working a program because sometimes loved ones are, you know, the best support system because they do love you and they have your best interest at heart, but you can also be too close to someone and not be able to hold them accountable. So having some sort of recovery program, now, there are so many out there. So you can kind of choose what you think is the best fit for you, but having some sort of support system out there that is not just parents or not just siblings or, you know, whatever it may be not having. Family or friends but really having this kind of third party able to check in on you. And the thing is, is recovery does not end. It is a constant everyday battle. So even my dad who has been sober for over 25 years, he still goes to AA meetings. He's. Still has a sponsor. He still works that program. And that's, I mean, it's really, it's, it's just important cuz it is an everyday battle and you know, life is hard and there are so many factors every single day that could make you wanna use. And mm-hmm you know, so it's just important to stay connected to that community. So what my parents have found is the biggest warning sign and their employees, especially considering that working a recovery program is a part of the contract. They sign when they start a job at deviate is just a lack of interest in that recovery. So missing meetings or, you know, not wanting to meet with their sponsor. And a lot of times there's a reason like they're not getting along with their sponsor, the meeting times aren't convenient or whatever. Right. It's a excuse, right. Rationalize it. But yeah, once you start kind of losing grip of that community is really, at least from our experience when we've started to see kind of some people slipping down that slope.

Bento:

Hmm.

Bobby:

Terrific. What about physical signs? Are there any physical signs of people, uh, using opioids or things like that? Like I've been, I've heard in the past, like, you know, dilated pupils or

Sam:

things like that. Yeah. There are signs like that. So dilated pupils, maybe people are talking faster than they normally would. A lot of times kind of erratic thoughts. So, you know, you maybe kind of bouncing around from one idea to another things like that. You know, getting sick, kind of being nauseous, looking pale a lot of just like kind of typical, I guess, like illness symptoms. Okay. But what is so hard is, you know, a lot of these drugs are really functional and so people are able to use and perform their day as normal. And you know, there might be little behavioral changes. Maybe they're more on edge. That's a big one. But generally a lot of times, if people wanna hide it, they really, they will

Bento:

can

Bobby:

work for. Wow. Wow. That's, that's crazy. I mean, besides, you know, cause, cause it's one thing like, you know, like you were saying it, if they really wanna hide it, like. It could be really easy for someone to hide it for quite a long

Sam:

time. Yeah. And I mean, it really is. And it's crazy because it's, I mean, so many people and I hate to say it, but have had like really, really close, loved ones. And I share stories in my book of, you know, a mother that lost her son and a deviate employee who was in recovery herself who lost her husband. I mean, like it's people that you wouldn't expect, they can be really close to you. And, and so I think it's I mean, always look out for your loved ones and, and always keep a watch fly, but it can be really hard. Cuz you want, like I said earlier, you see a loved one and you want them to be in recovery, but it, I mean you just have to be really honest with yourself and you know, really evaluate that and, and evaluate them. But obviously trust them. And I don't mean to say that you should like never trust them or right. Or never say what they say, having any value, but you know, just making sure that program and having an outlet besides you to talk to.

Bobby:

Yeah, that's terrific. Awesome. What about, what about if you find someone. Who is actively overdosing. Yeah. I know. That's a big thing. Like nowadays they hand out that Naloxone

Bento:

is that it Narcan

Bobby:

yeah. That they handed out places at hospitals or police stations.

Sam:

Right, right. They do. So Narcan is the drug name, uh, or Naloxone is the, I guess general name in Narcan is a brand name. Mm-hmm But so many places are now giving, giving this out. So, uh, some even pharmacies will just give it to you over the counter for free and your insurance will cover it. You can also get it from police stations. You can get it from a lot of hospitals. A lot of different recovery centers will offer it, or even syringe service programs, which are also called needle exchange programs. Yeah. Yeah. It'll give them out. So really honestly, it's becoming kind of Pretty common place for places in different communities to give it out. So if you're interested in getting that, you should absolutely look into it. You can probably get it for free, pretty close to you. And it comes either as an injection, which is a little bit less common, kind of used, you know, more for people in the medical profession. But they also make nasal spray. And so you can, I mean, super easy, unpack it, just take off the top and just spray it in each nostril, someone who's overdosing chances are it'll work after, you know that one time, but sometimes you do have to do a few additional doses. And that basically reverses the opioid, uh, overdose. And now they do still need medical attention. So, you know, you still need to call EMS or, or whatever it may be, but at least that'll keep their heart rate going and, and it'll keep them you know, awake and responsive alive.

Bobby:

Yeah, exactly. Yeah. Yeah. Cool. Those are good ones. Yeah. Cause I, I know for a while around here I had a buddy who was in fall river and he ran across someone overdosing and yeah, thankfully there was somebody nearby who lived in the city and used this needle to save this person and the guy who said, oh man, I spent a lot of time in fall river. And he really thought about, you know, going to get something and eventually he did go and get one and thankfully he's never had to use it, but it is something that I've, you know, often thought about when it comes to this, this topic that like more people should carry those things. Like, you know, like you said, because that stigmatism, I think there's hesitation, but I mean, There's so many communities that are just submerged in this right now. And unfortunately it does seem like a, a necessary

Sam:

beast. Well, and what's so interesting is just like you said, like, I feel like sometimes it kind of seems a little silly. It's like, oh, do I really need this? Like, am I really ever gonna use this? Right. Well, yeah, you might, you really might. And you'd way rather be prepared and have it than, you know, not, not be able to help someone who's, you know, in really

Bento:

bad. Right. Oh, excellent. Well, Sam, thanks a lot for coming on. we really appreciate your time. anything that you wanna plug. I know you get a book coming out. We tell everybody when it's coming out

Sam:

where we can find it. Yeah, absolutely. Well, thank y'all so much for having me on. I really appreciate it.

Bobby:

And oh, we only, that was the first y'all this whole time.

Sam:

I know. Hey, you got, got lucky.

Bobby:

That's that, that's that news reporter training right

Sam:

there. Yes, it has to slip in there right at the end. Yeah, so my book comes out in September, so right now I'm in the marketing process of it. So really just trying to get the word out there, but I do have a pre-order link that I'm happy to send y'all sure. There it is again. But yeah, so that would be awesome. I'm it's called deviate from denial, erasing the stigma of addiction and recovery through inspirational.

Bobby:

Awesome. Terrific. Well, thank you so much. I mean it's terrific work. It sounds like your parents are doing an excellent thing and it sounds like you're ready to carry it on. So, the best of luck to you all and, thank you for doing something great. And, thanks for coming to teach

Sam:

us. Awesome. Thank you both for having me on. I really appreciate it. Of course.

Bento:

Yeah. Take care. Sam, have a good one. You too. I fuck off again. Yeah. You should also like, just mention like the follow us at least once somewhere. Oh, see you're right. Gotta get the follow in. That's. Yeah. All right. Like everyone, everyone we do should be like, Hey, don't forget to follow us on any platform that you can find podcasts on. I know. Right. And then be like also check out our Instagram page at blow or check out our Facebook, you know, like do like one there. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Yeah. Okay.

And

Bento:

dickhead

Bobby:

and as always always looking for feedback. Uh, definitely get at us.