Dave Fialko from The Council of Southeast Pennsylvania came to chat with our class on Tuesday about the science behind opioids, addiction, withdrawal and overdose. He also trained the class on how to administer Narcan, a nasal spray that is an antidote to opioid overdose.

I thought hearing about the “natural highs,” or endogenous opioids, that Fialko mentioned really helped me put into perspective just how hard it must be to enter and stay in recovery from addiction to actual opioids. The advice that someone should “just get clean” seems even more outlandish to me now after having learned the science behind what happens to a person’s body when they experience a high, and subsequently when they experience withdrawal.

Fialko explained that the body experiences dopamine increases of 50 percent and 100 percent, for engaging in sex and smoking marijuana, respectively. This sounded like a big increase to me. But then when Fialko said the dopamine increase experienced from opioids is 1400 percent, I really began to gain perspective on how hard breaking the cycle of addition must be.

This class session was also really enlightening because we received Narcan training. I felt it was important to hear all the little details about how to administer Narcan to someone from the necessity of calling 911 immediately to the importance of giving verbal cues. I’m really glad I got this training and definitely think it’s something all reporters should learn about, too.