Good question internet people. Good question indeed. First, let me ask you something: when you think of an addict do you think of loving, hard working, strong women like my mothers pictured above? Probably not. Do you think of people who get up and go to work every day as a managerial team? Do you think of people who would give the shirt off their backs to anyone they met? Probably not, because society presents an addict as someone who lives for nothing besides the next high, someone lazy who uses those around them, and someone who deserves to die. I have a serious issue with that.
My city is currently plagued with heroin use. In the last seventy two hours, TWELVE people have overdosed, with one dead, and another on life support. The girl on life support is only eighteen years old. The people in my community have been very vocal about what they are feeling towards the dealer(s), users, and anyone else involved. For the most part there is an outcry to send people after the dealer. Totally, get that person off the street. On the other side of things, the thing that is breaking my heart, there are people shouting their hatred for the addicts. Now, I get it. Don’t get me wrong, I was angry for a long time even at my parents. How could they chose drugs? How could they become so sick that they’d have to die to stop the addiction? Well… there is no easy answer. These people spilling anger out into the public, have every right to feel anger. These are people afraid for those around them, afraid for their parents, children, friends… these are people who have no idea how to help those around them, and are putting up a wall to keep themselves safe. I have the utmost respect for their feelings, but I can’t help but feel serious sympathy for the addicts and their families who are being forced to see the hatred directed at their loved ones who are on the brink of death, or already dead.
Drugs change your brain chemistry. One taste of a serious chemical can hook you. It’s not always as easy as just stopping. Most addicts don’t even recognize their own addiction until it’s too late. “I feel great!” “I just need a little extra energy today!” “Just one more time!” That’s not the person talking, that’s the drugs, and it’s a tragedy. If these addicts don’t know they need help, or can’t admit it, they won’t be able to receive help, and that’s another tragedy. You might ask, “Okay Sami, but they still decided to try drugs in the first place. It’s their own fault right?” Yeah, I struggled with that question the longest. My first instinct was always to agree, and it fueled a lot of anger for me, but then I asked myself… what led up to making that decision? Was it ignorance? “I’ll just try it this once with my friends. I’m sure once won’t hurt.” Was it depression? “I just want this pain to go away, my life is truly that miserable, maybe this will help.” Was it a cry for help? Was it an accident? Oh what, it can’t be an accident, it’s always a choice! Well…
My mothers both had serious medical conditions. They were PRESCRIBED the drugs they were addicted to. Then, they were prescribed more drugs be a certain doctor that I’d like to have fired. Then, those drugs called to them. It made their pain, mental and physical, go away. It helped take away their sense of responsibility. It made them feel good. Addiction took a bite out of them like a literal monster and didn’t let go until the day(s) that they died. Do I WISH they had enough control to stop? That they could have resisted their impulses to pop another pill? Of course I do… But, I don’t know that they could have.
So here’s something that might shock some of you… I, too, am an addict. Let me explain for a minute before you judge the heck out of me. After my C-section they gave me percocet. Within a week I was mostly healed, I didn’t need the pills, and I gave them up, because at the time I was a happy new mom who could totally get through the little bit of pain to be the best mom I could be for my son. Well, a year later my back started killing me. Someone close offered me percocet, and I took them. And took them. And kept taking them. I’d take them at night, and the thoughts in my head wouldn’t go around in circles any more. I could relax and fall asleep. I’d take them in the morning, and everyone around me was a little bit less scary. My anxiety would go away… One night, after an especially stressful day, I thought to myself, “Damn, I really need another pill.” And that’s the same night I flushed what I had left, because I realized I had become an addict and needed to stop. I didn’t WANT to be an addict, I didn’t want to abuse pills, and I didn’t think I’d ever get to that point. I naturally have an addictive and obsessive personality. I can’t drink or take pain pills without forming an addiction. That experience gave me a new perspective to look at other addicts through. If I, someone fiercely opposed to using drugs, can become an addict, literally anyone can.
So, to be honest, I don’t have any real answers for you today. I asked more than I answered in fact. I ask you to take a step back before you point the blame and hate at people with an addiction. Think about their family witnessing your words. Think about the hurt they are already feeling. Think about the pain that’s already in the world… instead, spread some love.
YOU ARE LOVED.