You would have to be living under a rock the past few years to not know about the severe heroin epidemic in America. From the increase in home evasions to the staggering number of overdose deaths a year, the stats are terrifying. I’m not an expert on drugs, I’ve never been addicted to anything harder than a marb light. I have however taken the time to talk to addicts, because I believe in order to be able to parent in this you need to know the dirty, dark, and scary truth. This blog post isn’t a typical Back Roads & Binkies post, there is no humor, no witty comebacks. All I have to offer you is some insight, because when I took the time to open my own eyes I wanted to shut them as tight as I possibly could.
Opioids were responsible for over 60% of the 47,000 drug related deaths in 2014. That number is steadily rising. We live in a teeny tiny town and I have personally known 10 people who have lost their lives to this drug, and countless others who were brought back from overdoses and that is just in the past 2 years. I’ve watched my best friend go from the girl next door to a complete stranger. I’ve seen guys who were your all american jocks turn into thieves, stealing from their parents and friends just for a fix. I’d like to sit here and tell you I’ve always been sympathetic to addiction, but I haven’t. I’ve been judgmental and turned by back, like I’m sure many of you have.
It really wasn’t even until I became a mother that I even started to care about these issues. Now I lose sleep over them. What always hits me the hardest is when I speak to an addict or recovering addict who is a mom. Recently I asked a recovering heroin addict, what exactly she planned on doing to make sure her daughter never went down the same path as her. Her response was that she was going to be honest. It shocked me, because as a mom we tend to want to shield our children from harm, from the things we did that were not proud of, of anything that might make them look at us differently. However this mom is willing to put it all out there so that her daughter never experiences what she did. Her story is heartbreaking: At her lowest she was using 50 bags of heroin a day, selling her body for drugs, stealing anything she could get her hands on, all for that next fix. I remember reading what she told me and my heart sank. This mom was eventually going to lay this all out in the open for her kid. She was going to bring up all the darkness and pain she worked so hard to overcome, just to try and save her. If that is not the truest act of a mother’s love, I don’t know what is. Addicts are painted as low lifes. People who don’t care about the rules or anyone but themselves. They are selfish. I mean I know that is what I always thought, until I got to know some.
Another addict I spoke with wasn’t addicted to heroin, but prescription pills. She had been prescribed them for a medical reason, but quickly started abusing them. She would “doctor shop” weekly for a new script. Quickly doctors were catching on, so she began buying them off the streets. She told me how she used to steal money out of her sons piggy bank to buy them. It wasn’t until she got in trouble with the law, that she even realized she had a problem. The pills she used to treat a physical problem, quickly turned into the pills she used to treat a mental problem. When I asked her if depression was something she had prior to using, she told me yes but she didn’t know it. Looking back on her life now through a sober and clear mind, she can see she was using the pills to dull her pain from depression. Many times mental health is pushed aside, or looked at as a crutch. However for many addicts, letting that aspect of their life take over ultimately is what leads to their addiction. It’s no shocker that the mental health systems in America need some help, but again I didn’t realize just how bad it was until I took a second to listen.
I’ve said it before, I’m far from an expert. However I believe what the first woman I spoke told me is true. There is no better way to stop this than through education. The drug education I had in school was a joke, we learned about the side effects and the dangers, but we didn’t see it’s true effects. My education at home was much different. My father was a cop and saw day in and day out the drug problem in our country. He would tell me stories and show my photographs and it stuck. He’d tell my how mothers would hysterically beg the first responders to bring her back her baby. It was his life lessons I carried with me, not the chart we looked at in school for 10 minutes. Our drug education needs a serious revamp if we are ever going to stand a chance to get ahead of this.
This topic can’t be fully touched upon in a blog post, but I hope that it will open your eyes. I hope that when you sense your friend might be “off” you pry a little. I hope that you pray for those who struggle with addiction. I hope you never know the pain and hurt of loving an addict. I hope you judge a little less and help a little more. America is in trouble and it’s not going to be fixed by us all standing around playing the blame game.