Who to Blame When Drugs Hit Home

Who to Blame When Drugs Hit Home

I am the mother of an addict. I’m not sure what people envision when they read that, but many are sure it could never be them, would never be them. Most think they have done something right, or more likely, that I have done something wrong, something that they haven’t done.

It has been said that I am in such denial that I enabled the addiction and all of the bad things that came with it. That’s not a completely unfair statement though I don’t know that I’d call it completely fair either.

Addicts are master manipulators, and tell me what mother wants to think the worst of her child. I know that I didn’t. Writing that pains me because that’s almost like saying that addiction only happens to bad people or to kids who have bad parents, and I don’t believe that, not because I’m trying to pardon my own parenting, but because if it was as easy as blaming bad people or parenting methods, well, we’d have solved the problem.

Two of my three children are not addicts. I’m terrible at math so I don’t know if that’s a great percentage or not. I do know that one of my kids is still an addict and that sucks no matter what.

So why do I put this out there? No. Its not because I have some insatiable desire for attention.

I put it out there because I’m pissed off. I’m pissed off because heroin addiction is out of control and despite the rehab industry being a billion dollar industry we still have no cure.

I’m pissed off because too many kids I love are addicts. Some have overdosed. Some have died.

While these kids are in the throes of addiction, overdosing and dying, while some poor parents are planning funerals, people are playing the blame game. I get it. They’re afraid. They need to find a reason it can’t be them, why it will never be them. But it can be them. Because we don’t know what it is exactly that creates an addict. There is no scientific answer to that. And don’t let the rehabs bullshit you. They don’t know either.

According to a CNBC report there is now a Senate committee investigating the top five makers of opioids in the U.S. to determine whether or not they played a part in the addiction epidemic that has led to fatal overdoses in tens of thousands of Americans. A committee now in 2017, ten years after Purdue Pharma paid a $635 million settlement.

It has taken our government ten years to even look into this so I have no hope that they will come up with any real results. Money will change hands but the cycle of addiction will continue and rather than blame the drug companies or our government, people will blame the addicts. People will continue to talk about how they knew that kid was no good or some other ridiculous thing to say about a child.

There is some hope. We now have Narcan, the first and only FDA-approved emergency treatment for an opioid overdose. Oh wait. The same FDA that has approved some of the highly addictive pain pills that lead to addiction. The same government agency that still classifies marijuana as a dangerous drug.

For now, I’m pissed off because forget the ignorance in my community, in other communities, in my own family. My government appears to be in the business of addiction and they’re letting so many get rich off of it I wonder if there is any hope.

My kid is lucky. Yes, I said lucky. He’s clean but not because he’s better than any other kids who went down the same path or because he’s got better parents than any of those other kids. He’s lucky. For some reason he got clean while many of his friends still struggle, while some have died.

The same as I don’t know why he became an addict, I don’t know why he was one of the ones who was able to get clean. And I say my prayers every night because the rate of relapse is high. I know kids who were clean who relapsed and overdosed. It is a very scary thought.

And while I say my prayers that my government will ever actually care about the people it is supposed to serve, I will also say a prayer that the finger pointing will stop. As the mother of an addict, I understand the fear, but its not saving anyone. I won’t bore you with the statistics. I’ll just tell you that the rate of overdose is crazy high.

Say what you want about me as a mother. I don’t really care. Here’s what I care about. There were four deaths in the past month due to drugs that I was made aware of because of kids that I love who are addicts.

Four deaths in one month.

Let’s stop this pointless blame game and figure this addiction thing out. Lives depend on it. Not just my kid’s life, but a lot of kids’ lives, maybe even one day yours.

Losing the Drug War and Our Kids

Losing the Drug War and Our Kids

 

 

A kid I love was released from jail this week after years of being in the system. No, not my son though it could have been. It was after running into another kid I love who has been in and out of the system for years that I found out. It was a reminder that too many kids that I love have been in and out of the system, and, yes, that includes my own child.

We have lost the drug war.  I don’t care what you say. We have lost it. It isn’t just “my” kids. All of our kids are in the system in one way or another. No matter how you look at it.

So back to the kid I love who was released from jail. He was in because of a probation violation, something that has been dogging him since  his early teen years, the years notoriously known for stupid decisions. Add addiction to stupid teen choices and, surely, its a disaster. It was for this kid, this beautiful, smart, amazing kid. No, not a choir boy, but a typical teen.

I remember him getting into trouble in high school. I remember him going into rehab for the first time, for the second time, while still in high school. I remember feeling as if the issues he faced were not being met in rehab. I remember wondering how he could leave a 30 day program and then get sent back to his regular life, his regular life that lacked some very important support systems, both in and out of school. I remember thinking he was getting lost in some cracks, some very large cracks.

So skip forward to many years later and finding out he was still on the wrong end of the system. I can’t say I was surprised. I wasn’t. I was just happy that he wasn’t dead. It is very sad that the system he was stuck in didn’t seem as if it was helping him, but rather felt like a system that was keeping him trapped. Its a system set up for failure.

There is no cure for addiction. The addiction industry is a billion dollar industry. Our government has waged a war on drugs while the FDA markets opiate-based pain pills that are gateway drugs. Forget recreational marijuana. Its the opiates that have our kids hooked. The legal prescription drugs, not pot, that seem to be opening the door to heroin use.

I visited someone at a local rehab, a very expensive rehab. Another visitor asked what the odds were that someone leaving the program would stay clean. A member of the staff said one out of ten would stay clean.

1 out of 10.

Nobody thought to ask them how much the insurance company was paying for a 10% success rate. If anyone thought about a money back guarantee they did not ask.

This particular rehab isn’t alone in that statistic. What is our government doing in their war on drugs to protect addicts, families from a 10% success rate? Is there any other industry that could get away with a 90% failure rate?

A kid I love was released from jail this week after years of being in a system that failed him. He is not the only kid I know stuck in the system. There is no cure for addiction yet there is still this war on drugs. There is still so much misinformation about what an addict is, what an addict looks like.

An addict looks like you, like me, like our kids. Our government funds our rehabs. Our insurance companies pay for our rehabs, and then they don’t. Beds are full. And the rate of relapse is high, ridiculously high.

Our kids deserve better. We deserve better. The kid I love could be your kid. Demand better for him, for her.

 

 

 

 

Meryl Streep and Donald Trump-We All Lose

Meryl Streep and Donald Trump-We All Lose

The Hollywood Foreign Press honored Meryl Streep this week at the Golden Globes. Her impassioned speech sent shockwaves through an already divided country. Depending on which camp you were in she is either a hypocritical phony who should shut up and act, or she is a human rights savior calling out the most evil man on the planet.

 

What is wrong with us? What is wrong with everyone that a speech made by an actress can put us into such frenzy? Why can we not disagree with something someone says without calling for bans and boycotts? And why can’t we agree without declaring someone a saint. For an opinion?!!

 

Of course, just to make matters worse, President-Elect Trump, her target, Tweeted his response using words like “overrated” and “Hillary flunky who lost big.” And people thought that was either an awesome response or that it is more proof that he’s a bully with a big mouth. No in between.

 

I understand the concern about his reactions. I understand his frustration regarding a media that clearly does not like him, but come on, Mr. Almost President, stop giving them so much to work with.

 

But back to us and the point about our conversations on social media. After Ms. Streep gave her speech in which she talked about disrespect inviting disrespect, I attempted to have a conversation with some Hillary supporters, you know those people who were going to go high when “they go low?” When I took issue with a few parts of Streep’s speech, I was told that Donald Trump and every last one of his supporters can go straight to Hell. I responded that it was not a very respectful response only to get another nasty and offensive comment aimed my way. There was no discussion about what I disagreed with. And by the way, I stated that I respect Ms. Streep, her talent, and believe her speech came from her heart. Still, I disagreed, and was willing to explain, but that didn’t matter. I should go to Hell.

 

Not that the other side is any better. I saw comments with the typical offensive names for liberals who live in Hollywood. I saw comments about how she was “destroyed” by this celebrity’s tweet or that celebrity’s comment. Ironically, these were the same people who said she was just a celebrity and should shut up. Those other celebs though, well, we like what they said so let them talk.

 

Then there were all of those pesky pictures being shared of her giving Roman Polanski, an admitted child rapist, a standing ovation. I mean if you’re going to set the Internet on fire, make sure you have covered all bases, right?

 

But you know who the problem is? Not Meryl Streep. Not Hollywood. Maybe, sometimes, not even Donald Trump. We are the problem. We are the ones who seem to have an inability to have civil and respectful conversations. We have become all about the mob mentality, well, the mob mentality on social media.

Oh, and our kids? They are paying attention, so when you’re telling people to go to Hell because they disagreed with you or you’re calling them losers or some of the other lovely names I’ve seen, your kids are watching. My kids are watching. This is what we are teaching them.

 

We can’t blame that on Donald Trump. We’re doing that all on our own.

 

Disagree with what she said. Love it. Discuss it. Debate it. Hash it out. But stop demeaning one another in an effort to make your point, to win the argument. Nobody wins, and what I see passing as discussions lately is just a lot of ugly talk that does nothing but make us look bad.

 

This one’s on us, not the celebrities, not the politicians, not even Donald Trump. This is all on us.

 

Learning From George Michael and Carrie Fisher

Learning From George Michael and Carrie Fisher

2016 has been a rough year. David Bowie. Prince. Florence Henderson. George Michael. Carrie Fisher. Those are just some of the famous people.

 

It isn’t just in the celebrity world. A family I loved lost their father, grandfather. A guy I grew up with who does great things for kids with Type 1 Diabetes lost his dad, an awesome guy who I can’t say I’ve see much of over the years. You know, life gets in the way. And then we all get together at wakes and funerals, if we can, and say things like, “let’s see more of each other.”

 

We mean it. We really really mean it. But then life gets in the way.

 

While life gets in the way, people die. People we all love, not just George Michael or Carrie Fisher. People we actually know who mean something to us; people who hit us differently than the celebrities who touch us in some way. We go through our closets and look for appropriate clothing to wear to the requisite wake that we don’t want to attend, but feel obligated. If it was our mother or father, we know people would be there. Or we can’t get there because something happened at work, again, that prevents us from paying our respect in person.

 

But what about the living? Why do we wait for the obituary to profess our love? Our affection?

 

Why are we so quick to react in anger but not in love?

 

How many times have you honked the horn at someone who has cut you off? I’d say often. How many times have you remembered the person who let you cut in front of them? I’d say not as much.

 

Since the celebrity deaths seem to be the ones that shake us up the most let’s learn the most from them.

 

From David Bowie: You don’t have to fit into any mold. Only you can define you.

 

From Prince: Nobody is immune to addiction, no matter how talented, no matter how loved.

 

From Florence Henderson: Don’t play ball in the house. No, that’s not really it. The lesson is that love is never ending. Biology is important, but it isn’t the end all.

 

George Michael: Oh, this one is tough. His career tanked after he was arrested for a sexual dalliance in Beverly Hills. He was so much more than that. Where was all the love when he was alive? Don’t waste it on the dead. Give it to the living.

 

Carrie Fisher: Where do I begin? Mental illness needs more understanding. Yes. You. Don’t accept it only because someone is famous. It happens to those who are not famous.

 

Addiction is real. Oh my god. It is so real. It is happening in your neighbor’s house, maybe in your house. It is real, so very real.

 

Laugh. Just laugh. No matter what is going on, there is something to laugh at. Laugh. Please, God, laugh!

 

Then from the friends that I have that lost loved ones, the ones who are not famous, who won’t make the tabloids: Love. Love like you are going to die on a plane or in your sleep on Christmas or any of the ways the celebrity deaths got attention. Love, because in the end, that’s all we’ve got. We can’t take anything with us. Except love. Love, unlike money or houses or boats, love is always there.

 

So while you are mourning George Michael or Carrie Fisher, yes, they deserve to be mourned, maybe take a moment and tell someone what they mean to you. Tell someone thank you. Tell someone you miss them. Tell them you love them. Ok, maybe just that you like them. But don’t wait. Life’s short. Don’t wait. Please don’t wait.

 

 

 

 

The Type of People Supporting President-Elect Trump

The Type of People Supporting President-Elect Trump

The world has gone crazy. Donald Trump will be our next president and, for some, well, for many, all of the reasons he won have nothing to do with Hillary Clinton being a terrible candidate. Actually, it seems that even in losing, Hillary can do no wrong, at least as far as her supporters are concerned. Why take an honest look at her and the many reasons she lost when you can instead say outrageous and inflammatory things about Donald Trump and his supporters.

Robert DeNiro took time out of making his 13th sequel to Meet the Fockers and compared the loss to 9/11. Miley Cyrus tweeted a pathetic crying jag. Lady Gaga ran straight to Trump Tower for a photo-op. Her latest single isn’t doing well, so what’s a girl to do besides stand on a dump truck in front of Trump Tower. It is unclear as to whether or not Madonna is  too busy performing oral sex  on Hillary supporters to make a statement. Then there’s Beyonce and Jay Z. Are they going to take back the free tickets they gave to those promising to vote for Hillary?

But let’s forget the celebrity world that was sure they had America’s ear and could sway America’s votes. Let’s talk about the regular Joe going on social media declaring Trump supporters to be racists and misogynists. I mean that has to be it because it can’t be that Hillary Clinton alienated voters. It must be that everyone who could not, in clear conscience, support her has a white hood hidden in the back of their closet.

I’m tired of the Holocaust and 9/11 comparisons. I love a vigorous debate, but not when they are stupid, and comparing how you feel with the real victims, you know, the people lined up and shot by the Nazis or forced into ovens to be gassed to death, well, it is probably the most offensive comparison you could make. 

Hillary Clinton losing is not the same as the Holocaust. If you are one of the idiots saying that, please stop.

It also is not the same as 9/11. I was married to a first responder. He and many  of  his coworkers went  in daily to sort through ash desperate to find survivors. When they realized there were none they continued to sort so that families could lay loved ones to rest. It was awful.

For weeks we  attended wakes of other first responders. A childhood friend was killed that day. It took weeks, if not months, for his family to get his remains. I remember just how many other friends lost loved ones, firefighters and police officers who ran into falling buildings hoping to save lives while losing their own. 

So stop comparing Hillary Clinton losing with the selfless sacrifice made by our men and women in the NYPD and FDNY. There is no comparison. It is offensive to all of the lives lost and to the families that are still trying to pick up the pieces 15 years later.

Let’s also stop declaring those who voted for Trump racist misogynists. Race issues have been a problem in this country long before Donald Trump so why not address the issues and stop making him the scapegoat. Also while crying about the lack of diversity did anyone pay attention to Hillary’s diverse choice in a running mate. Oh wait! She picked a white guy.

I am not a racist. I am not a homophobe. I am not a misogynist or any of the other phobe or ists that seem to be getting thrown out there.

I’m a single mother who has made a lot of mistakes in my life but those mistakes never included anything discriminatory. I’m a single mom who works two jobs to make ends meet and cannot afford health insurance through my job because the premiums and copays are too high. I am a single mother who didn’t believe that Hillary Clinton would best represent me as president, and it is not because she is a woman. I would have loved to see a woman get there, just not her. That doesn’t make me evil or any of the other things I keep reading about the “type of person” I must be.

Other than my children there is nobody I owe an explanation to about the type of person that I am. I can only hope that the people who know me know what is in my heart. If you want to reduce who I am to one vote in one election then I think that is more a reflection of you than it is of me. Instead of casting stones and making awful and offensive comparisons to real tragedies, why not look at what it was that turned so many off to Hillary Clinton. I promise you that there’s plenty there.

 And give Donald Trump a chance. He’s either going to prove you wrong or he’s going to prove you right. I would hope that you’re rooting for him to prove you wrong because, in the end, he will be your president and you can be a part of uniting this country or dividing it. The choice is yours.

 

 

 

 

Sexual Assault and The White House

img_4311Donald Trump is guilty of sexually assaulting several women, at least if you believe the allegations popping up in the media over the past several days. Interestingly enough, these are not allegations that have ever been attached to Donald Trump before, despite a long history of making comments that could be construed as sexist. The allegations are gaining traction right before Americans cast their vote for the next president of the United States.

 

I won’t call these women liars or, in any way, attempt to discredit them. We’ve come far enough in this country, at least I hope, to understand the nature of sexual assault as well as the reasons victims don’t come forward right away.

 

Still, something feels very political about these allegations, even if it is just the timing, and I  can’t help but notice that Donald Trump is being painted with a brush that glosses right over a former president, and the man who happens to be married to Donald Trump’s opponent, Hillary Clinton.

 

Making it feel even more politicized was a powerful speech given by our First Lady, Michelle Obama. It was a very powerful speech with a message meant to empower women, but something really bothered me.

 

Michelle Obama spoke about Donald Trump’s words and the ugliness behind them. She spoke about parents being afraid to turn on their televisions out of fear of what their children might hear. It made me wonder if Michelle remembered a little ways back to a time when parents were wondering how they were going to explain what oral sex was or whether or not it was considered sexual relations. That was a conversation many parents could no longer avoid thanks to a story in the news about our president and his intern.

I listened as Michelle spoke about being shaken to her core. But I had to wonder why it was only Hillary Clinton’s opponent that had her shaken, had her trying to save our young women. What about Bill, Hillary’s husband? They have sold themselves as a partnership from day one, so why are they getting off so easily?

 

If a woman, or women, comes forward and claim they were raped, sexually assaulted, or sexually harassed, do we only believe them if we don’t like the accused? If the accused is a governor or sitting president, do we disregard their claims? The answer seems to be yes, whenever Bill Clinton is involved.

 

As Michelle Obama vilified Donald Trump, she gave Hillary Clinton a huge pass by conveniently forgetting the history attached to her partner, Bill. You can’t call out one while the other refuses to even address the allegations. And let’s not forget that Bill Clinton settled a sexual harassment suit while a sitting president. Does that not shake Michelle Obama to her core?

 

The shame is that it was a very powerful speech with an important message, but it also shows how far we haven’t come in terms of sexual assault in this country. We twist the message and exploit the victims for our own political gain and then say that we are trying to empower our young women.

 

Believe what you want about Donald Trump. The guy certainly makes it easy to think the worst about him. His attacks on the women coming forward, his claims that they were not attractive enough to sexually assault, well, they’re more of Donald Trump being Donald Trump. But while we’re recognizing that Donald Trump is capable of ugly, let’s not forget that so is Bill Clinton.

 

Like Michelle Obama, I am shaken to my core, but not just by the allegations against Donald Trump. I consider the allegations against Bill Clinton to be equally upsetting and worthy of answers. So hate Donald Trump. Think what you want about him, but stop conveniently letting Bill Clinton off the hook just because you really want his wife to win the election. She owes us answers too, and “when they go low, we go high,” is not an answer.

 

 

 

Politically Correct Slut Shaming

Politically Correct Slut Shaming

Today Joy Behar used her platform on The View to slut shame. Whether she considers the women in his past victims or consensual, she essentially slut shamed. And there is no chance that she will be fired. Of course she has already issued the requisite apology. Twitter has exploded, as Twitter does, but she will be forgiven. She is on the right side of the slut shaming.

 

Yes, I get it. She is a comedienne, and she was joking. But we’re not allowed to joke in America any longer. We’re not allowed to say anything that causes outrage on social media. If we’re going to become a trending topic, then we better make sure we’re on the right side of the trend.

 

So Behar called Bill Clinton’s women bimbos. On The View. She didn’t distinguish between the ones who had consensual sexual relationships and the ones that have accused him of sexual assault. There was no disclaimer that stated that a man in his 40’s, a sitting president, shouldn’t have been inserting cigars in the vagina of a young intern or accepting blowjobs from her. There was also nothing explaining that he perjured himself, as a sitting president, or any mention of him settling a sexual harassment suit. Nope, there was a generalized comment calling them bimbos. Not him. The women involved.

 

Even sadder was the discussion I saw on social media following her joke about those women. People that I know and respect said they’d believe the allegations against Bill when credible women come forward. In case you missed that, CREDIBLE WOMEN. Please let that sink in for a moment.

 

For years there has been a conversation about sexual assault, victim blaming, and the difficulties of bringing rape cases forward. There has been increased understanding regarding victims and the victim shaming and slut shaming that occurs that oven prevents victims from coming forward. And, I believed, we had become more educated when it comes to sexual assault. Someone with a colorful sexual history can be a victim of a sex crime. Someone with multiple partners can still be raped. And what is it that actually makes a victim credible?

 

Joy Behar is a comedienne though her joke was ugly. Her joke had the potential to send victims back under cover, afraid to come out. The comments I saw on social media had the same potential.

 

No victim of sexual assault should have to worry that they are not credible.

 

What does that even mean in terms of sexual assault?

 

Meanwhile the conversation will continue about Donald Trump’s ugly words. Billy Bush has been fired from NBC. As if that settles the problem. And then people who claim to be progressive will talk about the accusations about Bill Clinton and demand credible victims.

 

Joy Behar slut shamed victims today on The View, but she’s not the only one. The American public has been slut shaming for years, even the so-called progressives. Demanding credible victims shows that we still have so far to go. So let’s stop firing people because Twitter demands it and actually have a real conversation about sexual assault and support victims, not because we hate the accused, but because they deserve to be heard.