Life Over Death Even for Addicts

A kid I love overdosed in my home a few years ago. It would be impossible to ever describe the helpless feeling of watching a kid that I loved turn different shades of blue before turning a pasty white or the horror I felt as his face became colorless. I was sure that he was going to leave my home in a body bag. As I screamed on the phone to the 911 operator I had imaginary conversations in my head with his mother. I had no idea he was using, but wondered how I could ever apologize to her for this happening in my home. As I screamed into the phone and had imaginary conversations I begged God to spare this kid.

Thankfully police responded quickly. They revived him with a dose of Narcan. Minutes after I was sure he was dead he walked out of my home on his own two feet, a true miracle.

I think of that night often, especially as a new debate over Narcan pops up, not just between ignorant people on social media, but with public officials, people elected or appointed to serve the public.

The debate rages on as some want to limit how many times a person is rescued with Narcan while others share memes questioning whether or not police officers should even carry it. And don’t start me on the police chief who won’t allow his officers to carry it at all.

Why do they want people to die? My child is in recovery. The kid who OD’d at my house is also in recovery, but there are people out there who are not. There are many of us who love an addict.

Why would anyone think death is somehow justified? Would you want your loved ones to die?

Its not my fault that the addiction industry is filled with crooks, and no, I don’t mean the addicts. I mean the pharmaceutical companies, the ones who market those dangerously addictive opiate-based pain pills that have created this epidemic. I’m talking about those same companies who came up with Narcan, the miracle treatment that saves lives.

I’m sorry that there is no cure for cancer just as I’m sorry that getting treated for cancer can bankrupt a patient and a family. A drug addict dying won’t change that. A drug addict dying won’t save the life of anyone else.

So why do people post things on social media calling for cops to stop carrying Narcan or asking why cancer drugs aren’t free if you can get Narcan for free? I guess it’s a lack of understanding because I know many of the people who share that stuff. Many of them are nice people. I don’t think they want my kid to die. I don’t think they want anyone else’s kid to die. I guess when they hit share they’re not thinking about the people they know, maybe even the people they love who are struggling with addiction.

It is not the fault of any addict that cancer drugs come at a prohibitive cost. It is not the fault of any addict that some dirtbag decided to jack up the cost of an EpiPen.

I certainly don’t want to see anyone die from cancer or an allergic reaction. I also don’t want to see anyone die from an overdose, not even if it’s the 15th overdose. Not if it’s the 100th. I never want to see anyone die, especially if there is something as simple as a Narcan treatment that can prevent death. And no, I’m not under the impression that Narcan cures addiction. It doesn’t. It does however save lives.

I don’t want anyone’s kid to die, not my own kid, not that kid who was saved in my home, not the kid of a stranger, not the kid of my enemy. Well, actually, I don’t have any enemies, but if I did, I’d hope if given the chance, someone would save their kid too.

Most of the addicts I know and love became addicts in high school. I knew many who were in rehabs during their high school years. Surely nobody could think death is justified for young kids, even if they believed that addiction is a choice.

Life over death should always be the choice, even when it’s an addict. If we can save them but choose not to, aren’t we killing them?

 

The Rob and Blac Chyna Trainwreck

The Rob and Chyna show is like the gift that keeps on giving. No, not their actual show on E! where they highlighted all of the reasons that you should take a little time to get to know a person before having a kid with them or even get to know them before you know to run in the opposite direction.

 

No, the Rob and Chyna show that plays out on social media and in the tabloids is sort of like a bad case of mrsa. Just when you think you have stopped the infection, you discover it has spread and will cost a limb. Only in this case it looks like it’s going to cost Rob a pretty penny. Good for him.

 

With the exception of Rob, I love the Kardashians. I love any family that can build themselves into a billion dollar enterprise by doing nothing. In fairness, I think they all work very hard doing nothing.

 

Then along comes Rob and his socks designs. Are those socks really even a thing? He must feel a lot of pressure being surrounded by sisters who turn everything they touch into gold. Even Kylie managed to turn controversy over lip fillers into a booming business.

 

Poor Rob. We never really knew his issue when he bolted from Kim’s wedding. We never knew why he went into hiding. What we did know was that he went off on a tirade about an ex and publicly accused her of having sex with multiple men. Oh, no, not Blac Chyna. Way before her.

 

So he comes out of his self-imposed exile after running into his sister’s boyfriend’s ex (supposedly in secret while living at Khloe’s house! Did I tell you that this is great stuff?!) and after a whirlwind romance which included driving 107 mph to go bail his new love out of jail in Texas, he gets her pregnant, proposes marriage to her, and more importantly, he gifts her with her very own Kardashian brand reality show where we got to see fun things like them fight, and them fight, and them fight some more. We also got to see her tie him up or handcuff him or something while she cracked a whip. Oh boy talk about foreshadowing.

 

Nobody seemed surprised when they broke up. Or when they broke up again. Or again and again. Really, who can keep up? The only real worry was whether or not his sisters were going to be able to block her from calling herself Kardashian complete with a trademark.

Whew, that was nerve wracking thinking of all of the damage she could do to their brand if she was allowed to go by Kardashian. I mean let her have a kid with him, but leave the name out of it!

 

Speaking of damage, I wonder how the family feels about Rob’s latest slut shaming tirade. Will he have to give his name back? I don’t feel very sorry for Blac Chyna. No, not because I think anyone deserves to be slut shamed, but because she gave as good as she got.

 

When you rush into impregnation with a man who has previously slut shamed an ex, you should have a reasonable expectation that the same will happen to you. Still, people make poor relationship choices. You live. You learn.

 

Blac Chyna is now doing her media tour expressing how hurt she is after this latest betrayal. She was so hurt that she was posting her own naked selfies wearing jewelry with a new man in Rob’s bed. Yeah, Rob let us know it was his bed and, damn, even his robe. Oh, the horror.

 

Rob’s lawyer, infamous for getting OJ off for double murder, is expected to appear in court promising that Rob will voluntarily stop slut shaming, after he was kicked off of one social media site and his posts removed from another. Maybe he’s sincere?

 

I guess the moral of this story is if you’re going to have bad taste in romantic partners have the smarts to make sure a payday will be involved because really, isn’t that what’s important?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Addiction Not Weakness

Addiction is not a weakness. How do I know this? Well, my answer isn’t scientific, but if it was about strength then I know that the rehab industry would not be a billion dollar industry with a 90% fail rate. Those pricey places would figure out a way to tap into an addict’s strength and have a better success rate. There’d be a cure. Oh, wait. No cure would be needed because we could tell addicts to suck it up and be strong.

 

If only that was the answer, I wouldn’t have been at a funeral a few weeks ago, my heart breaking for parents who had struggled for years as their son struggled, parents receiving condolences from people like me, people who were thanking God that it wasn’t them making arrangements.

 

Those parents had to sit in a room with their son, their son in a coffin. Could there be anything worse than that? Except maybe the years leading up to the overdose that eventually took their son from them. No. Those years had to have had some hope, some hope that the so-called experts could have found a way to help their son get clean, to live.

 

Now we’re seeing lawsuits against the pharmaceutical companies that some believe are responsible for our opioid epidemic. Let me be clear. I blame the pharmaceutical companies. I blame our government. I cannot say enough that no other industry would get away with a one out of ten success rate and still be able to get federal funding. Hold on. Not just federal funding.

 

Insurance covers the treatment. I have an autoimmune disease and could not get the insurance company to cover two drugs that could have eased my symptoms, drugs that would have cost approximately $300 a month.

 

Think of all that insurance won’t cover and then imagine that rehab with a 90% fail rate is covered, multiple times, and that’s just rehab. Don’t get me started on the halfway houses.

I’d like to say that’s great that addiction is covered by insurance except it really isn’t when it is not evidence-based treatment. I mean if it were evidence-based they’d have to ask why they only have a one in ten success rate and why with that success, or fail rate, people are lining up to get in the doors. That’s a story for another day though.

 

I saw something tonight on social media mocking addiction, calling it a weakness. I saw it shared by someone who loves my child, a recovering addict. It wouldn’t be the first person claiming to love my child who has said something ugly, even if they were not meaning to be ugly. I’ve heard horrendous things not just about my child, but about me as a mother. I don’t really care what anyone says about me, but I do care when someone claiming to love my child shares something as ignorant and as hurtful as a video mocking addiction and laughingly calling addicts weak.

It isn’t a “weakness” that I’d wish on anyone. My child will most likely never live in my home again. Most of my child’s friends are either in recovery or are still in the process of getting clean, not an easy process, especially when our government allows an industry to grow into a billion dollar industry despite an alarming rate of failure.

The good news is that unlike those other poor parents from a few weeks ago, I still have my child. I was not sitting in a funeral parlor, distraught, as people tried to find the right words to say. I was in that funeral home, but as one of the people trying to find the right words even while knowing nothing could ever come close.

The bad news is that there will be more parents sitting in funeral homes. We are going to lose more kids, and we are not losing them because they are weak.

I don’t have the answers. I just know that addiction is not weakness. I also know that addicts and their families could really use support. Before you judge, before you share something hurtful, know that every parent of an addict goes to sleep at night thankful for another day that they get to love their kid. Not every parent has that luxury and they should never have to see people share things calling their kid weak, especially not by the same people who claim to love their kids.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

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

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

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.