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.