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?

 

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.

 

 

 

 

Shaming Addicts and Little Kids

Police Officers in the City of East Liverpool, Ohio came upon a horrific scene. Two grown-ups were high with a young boy in the backseat. So of course what’s an officer to do but take pictures and post on the city’s Facebook page. I mean what else do we do in this digital age? I hope they had a Twitter and Instagram account too. Oh, and Snapchat.

The officers, or the City of East Liverpool, I’m not sure which, decided that enough was enough. They were posting pictures of those adults because the world needs to see the garbage that they deal with. Let the world see, and, in their words, they hoped that the picture would stop another addict from getting high.

Because we all know that public shaming will cure addiction. We all know that public shaming will prevent addicts from getting high. Ok, so maybe in some fantasy world there are people who believe that, and please God, tell me that there is no police officer in this world who has not been around this heroin scourge long enough that they truly believe public shaming will do anything to address the addiction problem. For reals? This is what police officers thought? And from some reports, a police chief? God help us all, especially the addicts.

I saw a headline about this earlier today. It made my blood boil. I took some time, gave it some thought, revisited it, and my blood was still boiling. I do have compassion for the child involved, especially considering that it wasn’t the City of East Liverpool that shaded his face. No, on their Facebook page his face is clear as day. So this poor kid has to deal with life with an addicted parent AND having the police officers who claim to want to help him putting his face out there for all the world to see. Because that helps him. How again?

Police officers deal with a lot of crap. I was married to one. My brother is one. My sisters-in-law were also officers. So I know the stuff they deal with day in and day out. But the court of public opinion, and certainly not the comment section of any social media site, well, they don’t take the place of anyone’s right to the presumption of innocence nor does it do anything to tackle the problem we have with addiction.

This post, by the City of East Liverpool, is doing nothing to combat the drug problem. Maybe the officers involved eased some of their frustration, but that’s about all it did. Oh, well it also gave millions of strangers the opportunity to call two addicts ugly names. It did nothing more. We should all expect more from our public servants, even while sympathizing for what they must deal with on a regular basis.