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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.