OPIOIDS – EDUCATION and the ISSUE – By: Larry Lawton

OPIOIDS – By: Larry Lawton

I think everyone will agree we are deep into an opioid crisis. To fix the opioid crisis or any crisis for that matter, you first have to understand what is causing the crisis.

What started the opioid crisis, and continues to hold back any long-lasting recovery, is the lack of education in our schools and not addressing the underlying issue a person has that causes him, or her, to use a mind-altering drug. 

Opioids are killing people and ruining families at an unprecedented level. This crisis has found its way into all parts of our society, and it has to be addressed with EDUCATION and MENTAL HEALTH COUNSELING.

Back in the 1960’s and 70’s heroin (opioids) was the dirty low-life drug. People associated heroin with the guy they saw with a needle hanging out of his arm. Not today, heroin has become chic.

Heroin knows no boundaries and has infiltrated all parts of society. From the poor to the rich and everything in between. All races and genders are impacted without prejudice.

It’s not just the derelicts on the streets, subway or bus using heroin, it’s soccer moms, teachers, lawyers, cops, judges, doctors, bankers, etc.

When you think of heroin, (opioids) imagine your neighbor or someone from your own family. There isn’t a family I know, who hasn’t been affected by opioids in one way or another.


There are two main reasons heroin (opioids) has infiltrated communities all over the country and got out of hand. The first, heroin has been de-stigmatized. Heroin is no longer the dirty drug and has joined the class of, so-called accepted party drugs. Second, the failure to educate our youth in schools everywhere.

What all drugs do, yes, even marijuana and alcohol, is lower a person’s ability to make reasonable, educated decisions. Nobody WANTS to become an addict, but it happens.

Physical and mental addiction happen over time. They are both hard to kick and need to be addressed in the right way. As a man who used opioids before and successfully got off of them, I can say with confidence, it takes time and the right help to get, and stay clean.

The first part is getting physically clean, or expelling the drug from the body. In the big scheme of things, this is not the hard part. The hard part is getting clean mentally.

Everyone is different and every situation is different, but if you follow doctors’ orders, the physical part will be over way before the mental part.

** NOTICE ** Larry Lawton, along with his doctors will be releasing a book on opioids, addiction and how to get your life back after surgery.


Today, in 2019, there is no drug education or very little drug education in most schools. That should be a crime in of itself. Sadly, public officials don’t want to admit they have a drug problem in the schools. News Flash! You have a drug problem in schools.

Without official drug education in schools, who do you think is educating our kids? It’s the drug dealers and older kids who use drugs. I live in a small middle-class community in central Florida and could go into any high school, and some middle schools, and buy drugs in the hallways or bathrooms.

Early and continuous proper education about drugs works. It is the only way we will beat the opioid epidemic. If you are as old as me, you will remember back in school they showed us side by side pictures. One was a regular egg with the yolk and the other was an egg in a pan cooking. The caption read, this is your brain on drugs and the egg was frying. Pretty compelling.

Most people will remember that in the 1980’s, first lady Nancy Reagan had the “Just Say No” campaign. It was something.

Education works. We need to open up a dialogue with young people. Young people need to be educated about drugs from the right people. We have to start young and continue through K12. Sadly, we don’t.

Schools are graded just like the students. If a school gets a bad grade, like a D or F, the officials do everything in their power to raise that schools’ grade. Why aren’t we grading drug education in schools? We grade them on Math, Science, etc. We should add drug education to that list.


There is a difference between using heroin to get high, or using heroin to self-medicate. Both are wrong and need to be addressed, but you need to know the difference.

My favorite saying when addressing audiences about drugs is, “you have to control IT and not let IT control you”. Notice I said IT. I say IT because the IT is the ISSUE you are using drugs to escape from.

The issue can be abuse, sexuality, low self-esteem, no confidence, bullying or a host of other mental illnesses. Once you know and control your issue, you won’t have a drug problem. The first step to recovery is knowing what your issue is.

If a person has an issue that hasn’t been addressed, he will never have true sobriety. The issue can be very deep and extremely painful. Issues can also lay dormant for long periods of time, but the pain is never far away.

Look at Robin Williams and Anthony Bourdain, both addicts that learned restraint, but never addressed their issue. Their whole lives they were on and off drugs self-medicating to keep the pain away. They were, so-called clean for a while, but they never addressed their ISSUE and sadly the pain never goes away. Suicide is not uncommon.

Not everybody has a mental issue they are dealing with. For example, maybe a college kid who tries drugs and just gets in over his head.

The kid in college is different from the person who has a deep-seated issue that is extremely painful. The person with the deep-seated issue uses drugs to relieve the pain. Both situations need to be addressed but in different ways.

The mental part of kicking a drug addiction is the hardest part. It is all about the issue. As I call it, the IT. If you don’t fix the issue and only learn will-power, get clean by going to jail for a month, or find another temporary fix, it’s not going to work. It’s like a Band-Aid trying to fix a gunshot wound.


You have to seek professional help. It is not weak or lack of being a man to ask for help. In fact, it is a sign of intelligence, strength, and courage.

To be transparent, I get help for PTSD from my time in the U.S. Coast Guard. I picked-up over fifty dead bodies in ten months. USCGC Blackthorn, Mariel boatlift, and Sunshine Skyway Bridge Collapse. The 41-ft rescue boat I was on, was front and center on all those tragedies.

Seeing a person’s dead body sift through a stokes-liter (a rescue basket used to get a person out of the water, or hoist a person to a helicopter) because his dead body was in the water for weeks, or seeing crabs coming out of a person’s eye-socket and other sad and abnormal things would affect most people. I did me and I got help.

Looking at the newspaper clippings from back then, which I still have, you wonder how you dealt with it? Obviously, I didn’t. I needed help.

HELP, the four-letter word most people don’t like to use. Especially men. I believe we all need help at some time in our lives. Most people consider me a strong-minded, street-smart, hard as nails and somewhat intelligent man, but I needed help.

You’d think a person would recognize little sleep, bad dreams, mood swings, irritability, as a problem. Most people don’t. I didn’t. We make excuses. Too much work, a bad back, pain, etc., In fact, all along I needed HELP.

The best part is, once you get help, you will feel so much better. The key is, you have to recognize you need help or have someone who loves you open your eyes and show you that you need help.

Everyone has issues. I don’t care who you are. It is how you handle your issues that determines everything. Opioids are just the drug, like alcohol, marijuana, ecstasy, molly, etc., you use to relieve the pain from your issue.

Go to a quiet place, sit down and think. What stresses do you have? Do you have an inferiority complex, self-esteem problem, are you being bullied? yes, that is an issue for adults as well as kids. Do you have any other issues that need to be addressed? Are you trying to self-medicate? Look around you, does someone you know need HELP?

People ask me all the time; why do you have such a high success rate with regards to helping people? My success rate is all about opening a person’s eyes to their issue and showing them, they are not alone and that the great four-letter word, HELP is available.

Whatever issue you have, you are not alone. I promise you, you have company. GET HELP!!!!


Larry Lawton is the Founder and President of the Reality Check Program. A nationally acclaimed program. Larry educates thousands of young adults on drugs, choice-making, crime, and prison. Larry is the author of Gangster Redemption, a TV Personality, Speaker and Law Enforcement Consultant.

Larry Lawton appears regularly on national TV and Radio as an expert on teen issues, crime, schools and community policing. ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX, CNN, MSNBC  —  CLICK HERE to see Larry Lawton on TV

In August of 2013, Larry was the first ex-con in the United States to be sworn in as an Honorary Police Officer in the city of Lake Saint Louis, Missouri and in November 2013, Larry was the first ex-con recognized on the Floor of the United States Congress for his work with helping young people and law enforcement agencies.

Corporate & Keynote Speaking – Larry Lawton brings the most entertaining, inspirational, motivational and informative stories to audiences throughout the United States and around the world. Contact Larry for availability and cost at 844-922-4800 or Larry@Lawton911.com