Addicts Shaming Addicts

I’m not one to ever shame an addict. Yeah, you just read the “but” in there. At least I hope you did. I don’t shame addicts because, well, that’s ridiculous. While I’m unsure about what causes addiction, the whole addiction is a disease thing, or really a lot about addiction, I hate when people say dumb things about addiction, like its a choice. Actually, I just don’t hate when people say that,  I actually think really awful things about them, even idiotic people who are addicts and write dumb things on social media about how addiction is a choice. Does that make sense? Maybe not. To me it does. I’ll try to explain.

I’ll spare you my whole rant about the billion dollar rehab industry and their 10% criminal success rate.  Well, for now. Instead I will talk about the town I live in, the town I grew up in, the town that I raised my children in. It ranked pretty high in drug arrests. Some will say it ranked number one. It also ranked pretty high in rates of overdose. I hate statistics, mostly because I don’t have a math head and  also because I believe one death is too many. Sadly I know of more than one funeral due to a drug overdose. I hate to throw race in there, but despite what many believe, these are white kids. Yeah, I know. Once it hits the rich white kids, people pay attention. Or you’d think they would. Instead they do the WASPy thing and try to sweep it under the rug.

Until very recently my local school district claimed that there was no drug problem. I’m not sure what finally made them acknowledge that there’s a drug problem in this town. They certainly weren’t admitting it when my kids were in the school or when many of their friends were in rehab multiple times. Yeah, while in high school. I don’t know how many needed to be in rehab before the district acknowledged that drugs had hit our town, our schools. I guess they didn’t because it was just the “bad” kids.

So now one of those kids is posting things on social media about addiction being a choice.   He’s one of the first kids I knew was an addict. He was actually the kid I wanted to keep my kid away from, not because I believed addiction was contagious, but because I knew that they would bring out the worst in one another.

My kid lives in another state. He went to a pricey rehab. He relapsed. He went to another rehab. Then he went down to Florida, where halfway houses and rehabs have the worst reputation. I can’t tell you how many nights I couldn’t sleep because I was too busy checking to see if my kid was breathing. I slept less after one of my kid’s friends overdosed in my house after over a year of being clean.

My kid hasn’t been home for Christmas in two years. That’s huge in my house. I imagine it would be huge in your house as well.

So when I read ignorant people writing things on social media, or anywhere else, about addiction, it gets to me. When I read addicts, whether recovered or not, it really sets me off. When I’ve said prayers after hearing they’ve had their stomachs pumped multiple times or offered sympathetic words to their family members after they’ve committed drug-related crimes, it doesn’t just sadden me to read things they’ve written on social media about addiction not being a choice. It actually infuriates me because they’ve been in a position to know better.

I don’t wish bad things on people who write stupid things, especially addicts, recovered or not. So while I never shame addicts, I do shame anyone who purposely refuses to understand that addiction is not a choice. I shame anyone who writes ridiculous things on social media, or anywhere else, especially an addict, recovering or not.

I want nothing more than to have my kid home for birthdays and Christmas. I want to have my kid living with me, if  not, at least within driving distance. I appreciate the people who love my kid, who have taken him in, but I’m also ridiculously jealous, and jealousy is something I’ve never felt in my life, because that’s my kid and now for his own well-being, he can’t live with me, or even close to me.

Addiction is not a choice. Nobody actually chooses that. I’ll spare you the lecture about how the rehab industry is criminal, but only for now because right now I just want to put out there that addiction is not a choice.

I’m not one to ever shame an addict. I love too many addicts. But I will shame an addict who writes asinine crap about addiction being a choice. It is not a choice and the addict who has had his stomach pumped multiple times and been arrested for multiple crimes should never ever write stupid stuff about addiction being a choice. I’ll pray for him, that he gets clean and that nobody ever shames him because I know the road he’s been down. I know the road his mother has been down.


National Overdose Awareness Day

National Overdose Awareness Day just passed. I thought I’d be more excited for the attention given to overdoses, but something felt off. Maybe the part where most acknowledging it have been affected in some way is what bothers me. Those people are already aware. When will everyone else catch up?

Maybe the wordiness throws me. National Overdose Awareness Day. Yeah, I almost fell asleep writing that. Its not catchy like that Ice Bucket Challenge. There’s nothing fun or exciting about drug overdoses, except, of course, for the families who haven’t lost their loved ones thanks to Narcan.

Narcan may have saved lives, but it isn’t a cure, and sadly, there are many who still mistakenly believe that Narcan is part of the problem. Imagine that there are people out there who think that saving lives is a problem. Or that there are people who think that there should be limits on Narcan. So we’ll save you once, but that’s it. After that, well, kiss off.

So that’s sort of my problem with National Overdose Awareness Day. Well, that and that I don’t know what color the ribbon is. We get a ribbon, don’t we? Or maybe not because so many still believe that addiction is a choice, or that it’s because of bad parenting, or socioeconomic status, or, well, I don’t know what they think. I just am pretty sure that the people who need to be aware are not. Those people are pretty sure that addiction happens to someone else, not their loved ones.

I went to a wake not that long ago for a kid who overdosed. I sat in a room and thanked God that it wasn’t my kid. I then asked God to forgive me for my gratitude because I knew how easily it could have been my kid. It was an awful conundrum.

I had a kid that I loved overdose in my home. There really is no way to ever describe the terror. There is no way to explain what it felt like when I received a thank you card from his mother for calling 911. I did nothing other than call 911 and a mother was grateful. I will never forget hugging her at the hospital, grateful again.

The problem with National Overdose Awareness Day is that people aren’t grateful unless they are affected. People think it isn’t their problem. They have all the answers, until it is their kid, their loved one.

I wish I only loved one addict, but I don’t. I watched a lot of kids grow up who became addicts, kids who came from good homes, kids who came from money, a lot of money. I watched kids I love overdose. I sat at a wake with kids I love that had been to too many wakes. None of them need a National Drug Awareness Day. They need answers. They need a government that stops treating addiction like a crime. They need a government that stops allowing a rehab industry to remain a billion dollar industry, even with a 90% fail rate.

So yeah, I’m not a fan of National Overdose Awareness Day. Maybe I should be. Maybe it’s a start, but I want more. I expect more. I wish everyone else would too.