Commenting on a Celebrity Overdose

There was another celebrity overdose in the news. The young woman is alive, thanks to Narcan, a nasal spray used to treat an opioid overdose. Someone is probably getting rich off of Narcan. I don’t care. God bless whoever it is, because lives are being saved, celebrity lives, non-celebrity lives.

Demi Lovato has been open about her struggle with addiction. There were recent hints, by her, that she relapsed. Unfortunately, she will not be able to recover in private. She will be the subject of mean-spirited comments that will be blistering in comparison to the support being offered by fans and others who love her.

So what part of commenting on a celebrity’s overdose can advance prevention, treatment, and recovery?

The part where others who are struggling, addicts, families, friends, know that they are not alone. They are not alone in the struggle. They are not alone in the desperation. They are not alone in the search for answers.

They are also not alone in the grief.

One out of three of my kids is an addict, in recovery, but still an addict.

All three of my kids know classmates, friends, loved ones who have gone through the revolving doors of rehabs, a billion dollar industry that keeps growing.

They all know too many lost to an overdose.

If you have never been to a wake of a kid who has practically lived in your home, be grateful. Unfortunately, I have been to multiple wakes. I’m not sure there is anything more awful than sitting in a room and looking at the kids who have grown up in  your home as they sob for their lost friend, kids that you love, knowing that one of them could be next. Except maybe loving the kid who wasn’t saved, the kid who is being waked.

Or maybe worse is knowing that your local police and social service agencies have partnered up and claimed that their partnership is in the name of combatting this crisis. Money is always involved, but they say things about how the partnership will save lives.

They announce that they cannot arrest their way out of this problem, but then follow that with some very well-publicized arrests. Arrests that don’t seem to reverse the opiod crisis.

Of course it gets even worse when caught up in the publicity blitz is a kid who has struggled, a kid who has relapsed, a kid who is being made a scapegoat for a problem that the police and the social service agencies can’t seem to solve, despite all of the eloquent soundbites in the news.

When a mother who has been financially devastated by a divorce, illness, her child’s addiction, has to come up with thousands of dollars in legal fees because her kid is being made a scapegoat, well, tell me how that helps anyone.

My heart breaks for Demi Lovato, for her family, for all of the celebrities lost to addiction. I don’t have to be famous to know their pain is real.

I am not just a blogger, despite what some have said. I am a mother who has lived this. I know families who have gone bankrupt seeking treatment, help for legal fees. I am a mother who watched as a kid went from blue to colorless before the miracle that is Narcan save that precious life.

I watched as that lifeless kid walked out of my house. I hugged that kid a year later, and hugged him again and again, and a few more times because he’s beautiful and I am incredibly grateful that he walked out of my house and back into  his life.

I am a mother who demands answers from those who have access. I want the Police Commissioner, the County Executive, the local politicians, the CEO’s, the social service agencies, the local community counseling agencies, and the people who claim to be advocates to all step up. I want those people to stop passing the buck, stop giving clever soundbites, and get down to the business of saving our kids, our families.

Stop arresting our kids. Stop treating addiction as a crime. If you’re not part of the solution, well, you know what you are.

If the news reports are true, Demi Lovato’s life was saved today. Let’s not stop there. Let’s save more lives. Let’s find a cure. Let’s demand treatment that has a proven success rate. Let’s stop criminalizing an issue that affects rich and poor, celebrities and non-celebrities.

We deserve more. Our kids deserve more.

 

**Author’s plea- Please get a Narcan kit. Free training is available. Go to LICADD.org.

 

 

 

Advertisements

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.