Heroin. Stop the Silence. Speak the Truth. Start the Conversation.

 

Marc Alberts: Our little brother

5/11/1989❤ 6/2/2015

A boy from my old neighborhood died this week. He was no longer a ‘boy’, he was 26, but to me he was still one of the kids. They ran around in the summer as a pack. You could tell where they were by looking for their pile of bikes. Scenes from those days of innocence keep flashing through my head – when they went from one house to another, rode their bikes to the playground or to the store- images of boyhood youth. Now he’s gone. Heroin stole him. My heart is breaking for his mother and siblings. They have already been through so much, having lost their husband and father to cancer four years ago. I’m sure Addiction has also stolen years of this family’s life. I know how Addiction takes over a home, because Addiction has been an unwelcome member of our family for the last ten years.

Addiction is stealthy. It hides in basements and bathrooms and bedrooms. It steals children and decimates families under a cloak of silence. The addicts themselves are embarrassed and guilty and are afraid to ask for help. Parents feel inadequate, trying to figure out where they went wrong, what could they have done better. I was a stay at home Mom for God’s sake, and my firstborn is a heroin addict. What does that say about me? Guilt, silence, embarrassment – these are Addiction’s wingmen, giving it the wind needed to kill our kids, gaining strength in whispers at book clubs and coffee shops, ‘he’s an addict you know’.

Continue reading “Heroin. Stop the Silence. Speak the Truth. Start the Conversation.”

Here goes nothing.

Our friend Kali, author of Being a heroin addict…..my brutal truth, has started her own blog!

The Heroin Diaries

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Now, keep in mind, I wrote that article with only a couple months clean and only 2 weeks after Dominic had passed. At the time, I really thought I was on top of my shit. I ignorantly believed I had a one up on my addiction. I had just gotten out of rehab for the third time and moved to Chicago. I was staying in a sober living house, going to at least two NA meetings a day and was working the steps with a sponsor. My boyfriends death hadn’t even registered with me at this point. I was just fine, right?

For maybe a month after the article was posted, I did good. I was on a high from all the attention and was still chillin on that cute little pink cloud you float on for the first couple months of sobriety. Life was beautiful… until it wasn’t, until the cravings hit, until I realized my…

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Ellora’s Story

Hope In Understanding

I started experimenting with opiates when I was a teenager and as I grew to rely on the emotional relief I  got from them I formed a bond with this chemical.  Before long it was costing me too much money so I switched to heroin.  After almost five year into this downward cycle I was desperate to get off.  I even tried to use suboxone and booze to stay away from the heroin but I was relapsing once a week.  I didn’t have the mental capacity to reach out for help as I would today.  I didn’t really know what I needed to know so I was ready to kill myself.  I was victimizing myself plus I had a lot of self pity which put me into a sick place Over years of use I had developed a better relationship with heroin than I had with myself. Without heroin I…

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If you think the Opioid/Opiate Epidemic hasn’t affected you, think again.

ripples

Anyone who is stupid enough to put a needle in their vein deserves what they get is a sentiment we are reading/hearing all too often lately. Many people think addiction is not their problem if it hasn’t touched their families or loved ones. Whether you realize it or not, we are all caught in the ripple of this epidemic – so it is your problem.

A few examples:

  • Obviously it is touching the lives of anyone who has a loved one with Substance Use Disorder. This equates to time lost at work, or certainly distracted employees.  If the person is in active addiction and is employed, you can bet they are not working to capacity.
  • Our court system is jammed with people suffering SUD. The dollars cost on policing, jailing, probation oversight, court costs…………the list could go on…. is enourmous.
  • Child Protective Services cannot keep up with the amount of children in the system due to this epidemic. These children are growing up in chaos.
  • Police, firefighters, paramedics, and hospitals are all overwhelmed with overdoses and other health issues related to constant drug use.
  • Unscrupulous treatment facilities are falsifying claims and overcharging insurance companies ($1500 for a urine test?!?!?) which are paying out for the wrong kind of treatmet while those in accredited hospital facilites where the billing is true and accurate cannot get coverage. All of our insurance rates increase.

Our tax dollars are spent putting out the fires caused by this epidemic. We need to put our dollars to use with a multi-pronged and organized response. The ground work has been laid by many who fought for CARA to be passed.

The below is taken fom the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America web site.

The Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) establishes a comprehensive, coordinated, balanced strategy through enhanced grant programs that would expand prevention and education efforts while also promoting treatment and recovery.

On July 22, 2016, President Obama signed into law the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (P.L. 114-198). This is the first major federal addiction legislation in 40 years, and the most comprehensive effort undertaken to address the opioid epidemic, encompassing all six pillars necessary for such a coordinated response – prevention, treatment, recovery, law enforcement, criminal justice reform, and overdose reversal. While it authorizes over $181 million each year in new funding to fight the opioid epidemic, monies must be appropriated every year, through the regular appropriations process, in order for it to be distributed in accordance with the law. 

  • Expand prevention and educational efforts—particularly aimed at teens, parents and other caretakers, and aging populations—to prevent the abuse of methamphetamines, opioids and heroin, and to promote treatment and recovery.
  • Expand the availability of naloxone to law enforcement agencies and other first responders to help in the reversal of overdoses to save lives.
  • Expand resources to identify and treat incarcerated individuals suffering from addiction disorders promptly by collaborating with criminal justice stakeholders and by providing evidence-based treatment.
  • Expand disposal sites for unwanted prescription medications to keep them out of the hands of our children and adolescents.
  • Launch an evidence-based opioid and heroin treatment and intervention program to expand best practices throughout the country.
  • Launch a medication assisted treatment and intervention demonstration program.
  • Strengthen prescription drug monitoring programs to help states monitor and track prescription drug diversion and to help at-risk individuals access services.

Obama’s statement after signing the bill:

Today, I signed S.524, the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act of 2016 into law.  This legislation includes some modest steps to address the opioid epidemic.   Given the scope of this crisis, some action is better than none.  

However, I am deeply disappointed that Republicans failed to provide any real resources for those seeking addiction treatment to get the care that they need.  In fact, they blocked efforts by Democrats to include $920 million in treatment funding. 

The rest of his statement can be found at https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2016/07/22/statement-president-comprehensive-addiction-and-recovery-act-2016 )

 CARA needs to be fully funded.

In 2009 the H1N1 virus, or Swine Flu made headlines as the pandemic swept the globe. The federal government released 6.15 billion dollars of emergency funds to help combat this health emergency. The death toll from H1N1 that year was 12,469 people. It could have been worse, but the government’s quick response saved many lives.

That same year we lost 37,004 people to drug poisoning- more than triple the amount of deaths from H1N1.

Don’t get me wrong. I am not saying that the dollar response to a pandemic is uncalled for. What I am saying is that this Opioid/Opiate Epidemic is in need of a radical and immediate response similar to that of a pandemic. Although not a communicable disease, this epidemic shows no signs of slowing down despite advocacy, awareness and education. The most immediate need is to make safe medical treatment available to those who seek it in medical facilities overseen by doctors educated in addiction medicine and mental health. Allowing any entity to open their doors and call themselves a treatment center should NOT be allowed. What other diseases are allowed to be treated like this in the U.S.? We need a federal standard of care for Substance Use Disorder and all mental health conditions. In order to combat this scourge that is stealing close to 4,000 lives a month in this country we need our government to step in and fund a response to this public health crisis.

As of the latest CDC report there have been a total of  4,091 cases of Zika virus in the US; 3,951 of those were travel-associated and the 139 cases in Florida being local, mosquito-borne infections.Today in response to the Zika virus a hard-won 1 billion dollars in funds has been made available to combat and contain this newly emerging health threat.

The most recent numbers released are for the year 2014,  when we lost 47,055 lives to drug poisoning. Although the numbers aren’t in yet, it is assumed 2016 will be the most deadly year yet despite the rise in the use of Narcan by first responders. Without Narcan the amount of lives lost would be staggering.

To put these numbers in perspective, the peak in AIDS deaths was in 1995 with a total of 50,877 people lost. The 2017 budget calls for 27.5 billion dollars in AIDS funding

Funding for AIDS treatment was not immediate. Like today, stigma played a large part in the lack of a federal response. With funding, research helped gain a better understanding of the virus and its mechanisms. With yearly funding research into treatments for the virus gain ground and more lives are saved.

The Opioid/Opiate epidemic is costing America billions of dollars already. Let’s stop reacting to the problem and instead meet it head on.

Congress is returning from recess on November 14th and will begin finalizing funding for 2017. We need to push for CARA funding now -this is our chance!

This is YOUR chance to make a difference.

Please add your name to the Facing Addiction letter to Congress asking for adequate funding for CARA. It only takes a minute! https://www.facingaddiction.org/fund-cara-2016

After you add your name to the letter PLEASE come back here and click this link https://votervoice.net/APA/Campaigns/48260/Respond where Addiction Policy Forum has made it extremely easy to email your congressmen and senators.

Both of the above actions are quick and easy! Please add your voice to help get CARA funded. This work needed to be done yesterday. Every day we wait is costing lives.

Also, please share the above sites and/or this post. We need as many voices as we can get by November 14!

The only way to Stop the Silence is to Keep Shouting.

Thank you,

Trish


The Mess You’ll Leave Behind

anthonys-garden

Dear active drug user,

I know you believe it’s your life and you’re only hurting yourself. You’re wrong. I know you believe you’re indestructible, that what you’ve witnessed happen to so many of your friends won’t happen to you. You’re wrong again. Sooner or later it will.

Here’s what will happen after you die.

First, someone will find your body. Maybe you’ll die at home and your Mom will find you and start screaming. Maybe you’ll die in your bedroom; maybe in the basement that your Dad rebuilt so you and your friends would have a place to chill. 911 will be called and first responders will come. Paramedics will cut off your shirt, put the paddles on your chest and try to shock your ass back to life, but it won’t work and one of them will turn to your Mom or Dad and say, “I’m sorry, he’s gone.”

Your family will be ushered outside, the police will string up that yellow “crime scene” tape and start their investigation. Your cell phone will be confiscated and your parents will probably never see it again. Hours later, while neighbors start gathering on the front lawn, they’ll put your body in a bag, put the bag on a stretcher and wheel it out to a coroner’s van and take you to the morgue. Maybe they’ll cut you open, take out all your organs, weigh and measure them and them stuff them back inside you and sew you up. More likely, they’ll just draw some blood and urine to do a toxicology screen.

Hopefully, you won’t die in your car. If you do, I hope you’re not driving at the time. I hope the last thing you do on this earth isn’t crashing into and killing someone else, maybe more than one person. I pray that’s not your legacy. If you don’t die at home, your parents will get a visit from the local cops and a ride down to the coroner’s office so they can identify your body.

That first week after you die will be a busy time for your parents. They will need to figure out who in what was your life needs to be notified; the rest of the family, your friends – that will be difficult because the cops have your cell phone so all they’ll be able to do is tell one or two of your closest friends; most of the rest will hear about it pretty quickly, but some won’t learn for weeks — your employer, your school. Lots of tearful phone calls will be made.

Your parents will have to pick a funeral home, arrange for your body to be shipped from the coroner’s office to the funeral home, pick out a casket, find a cemetery, one close by, so your Mom can visit you every day; pick out a nice four by eight foot plot, maybe beside a tree, and buy the only piece of real estate you will ever own. Your Mom will have to pick out the suit you’ll be buried in and deliver it to the funeral home. Your parents will need to decide what your obituary should say; should they acknowledge that you lost your battle with addiction or simply say that you died quietly at home.

Your Mom will go through all of this in a fog because she will be out of her mind with grief. Maybe she’ll carry one of your unwashed shirts around with her for the entire week, holding it to her face so she can smell you. Maybe she’ll sleep in your bed with your shirt and a framed photograph. And she won’t stop crying. Everywhere she turns something else will remind her of you. The leftovers from the last food you bought; the stale remnants of the last soda you ever drank.

One of the women in the neighborhood will organize folks to deliver casseroles and other food to your parents and neighbors will stop by once or twice a day for a week or so bringing food. Preparations will need to be made for your funeral. The church or hall will have to be decorated. Your Mom will want lots of pictures of you and each one she picks out will cause her to cry again. Eulogies will be written and delivered, maybe by your father, maybe by your little brother, maybe both. Your family will stand in a receiving line and will have to hear, “Sorry for your loss” and say, “Thank you for coming.”

After the service, your coffin will be carried outside to a hearse; maybe your little brother will be one of the pallbearers. The hearse will lead a procession of cars, all with their lights on, to the cemetery where there will be more tears, and a prayer will be said before your casket is lowered into the ground. Not everyone will have gone to the cemetery. Someone will volunteer to go to your parent’s house directly after the funeral to set out the food your neighbors have brought for the mourners who will come over after the funeral.

In the weeks after your funeral there will still be more matters to attend to. Your parents will have to wait for the toxicology report to be sent to the coroner’s office so that final death certificate can be prepared. Your parents will need lots of copies so they can notify your creditors, close your bank account, cancel your auto insurance, maybe notify your parole officer.

In the months and years that follow, things won’t get any better. Every holiday will be a time of sadness instead of joy, because it will remind your parents that you’re gone. And now they have another anniversary to make them sad, the anniversary of your death.

I can tell you for a fact that your Mom will never be the same. Some things she used to do joyfully she will no longer be able to do because they are too painful. Remember how she used to like to surprise you with special treats she bought at the food store? Well now she can’t go food shopping because everywhere she turns in the store she sees something she remembers you liked to eat. Those gardens she was so proud of in the front lawn. They’re forgotten now. The only garden she cares about is the tiny one around your grave that she tends almost every day.

So don’t think, and don’t say, that it’s your life and you’re only hurting yourself because that is simple not true. Your actions have consequences and they can be irreversible for you and can destroy the lives of people who love and care about you. Please, please, please, get clean, if not for yourself, then do it for them.

the-fiores-testify

Cris Fiore lives in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He and his wife Valerie are working tirelessly to help save other people’s children in the name of their beloved son Anthony. The Fiores ask that you PLEASE sign and share the petition for Anthony’s Act , a request that the Affordable Care Act be amended to provide for a minimum of Ninety (90) days inpatient drug or alcohol treatment up to a maximum of One Hundred Eighty (180) days per year at a facility certified to provide such care by the Secretary of Health of the state in which it is located.

Facebook page – Anthony’s Act.

Please click on this link to sign the petition: http://petitions.moveon.org/sign/anthonys-act

 



The Winding Path to Heroin Part II: Emily

IMG_2802Editor’s note:   This is the second installment of The Winding Path to Heroin. The first installment can be found at this link: The Winding Path to Heroin: Part I

The recent viral shares on social media with videos and photos of people overdosing  have fueled an onslaught of judgment and ugliness.  The comments accompanying these posts speak to the herculean task we still face trying to educate people about this epidemic. Many post threads devolve into name calling and arguments of  about disease vs choice. I have read recently many posts, some by those in recovery, that we need to stop making those with Substance Use Disorder victims. They have accountability in all of this, and we need to take away the ‘excuse’ that this is a disease as it allows them to remain victims. Yes, we are all accountable for our actions. SUD is not an ‘excuse’, it is a fact. It explains why some people can drink socially and can ‘dabble’ with substances and others become addicted. Beware with the opioids, however, because even those who never had a problem can become physically dependent on these powerful chemicals. As the medical community is taking steps to limit how they use these meds, I hope they begin to put into practice a concrete weaning schedule for those who have been taking opioids regularly for even a few weeks after a surgery.  This is the practice with so many other medications, why not opioids?

Every person I have met who speaks to me of their recovery talks about how they had to take ownership of their choices and all that followed. It is the only way to heal. Many have loved ones who will not forgive them for things they did in the throws of addiction – and a part of their recovery is to accept that fact. Healthy recovery means taking ownership of their actions.

The name calling on social media has become so poisonous it makes me want to go offline. Without Facebook this blog would not exist. Yet going online is sapping me of energy. Judgement and hate, insults and smugness seem to be the norm these days. How can the next generation not be affected by everything they are seeing and reading? From Facebook flame-wars to this horrifically nasty election, we are modeling toxic behaviors to the impressionable minds that are our Future. Anti-bullying campaigns will have little to no effect on today’s youngsters if the adults around them are not practicing what they preach. 

Misunderstanding Breeds Contempt

There seems to be a LOT of misunderstanding these days.

Keep Shouting

Stop the Silence

And please –  Be Kind

 ~Trish

Emily’s Story

Every time I read an article, or a post on Facebook regarding the way a person feels about addiction and all the negative things they say, I can’t help but fuel up with rage and anger.

“You don’t know what it’s like”, I think. “You don’t know how it feels”, is all that my mind can say in that first moment. But then I remember what I’ve been through, and I hope you never have to feel the pain of addiction like I did or any one of my fellow junkies did. I pray that a bigoted, close minded person like you will never suffer from this disease. Not just because it’s traumatizing and I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy, but because I don’t think you could make it out alive. It takes a special kind of person to put down the needle and change who they are, and unfortunately not everyone can do it. But by the grace of God, I was one of those people that can finally say I put that demonic drug away to never be used again.

I write this for you. The people who don’t understand. To the people who have a loved one in this disease and want to understand why. To the addicts reading this, I hope you reach out for help. To the recovering addicts reading this, thank God that you can wake up everyday without a substance.

This disease does not discriminate. It’s hidden everywhere; in places you would never expect. It does not matter if you live in a mansion or in low poverty. It’s got its grasps on your teachers, your family members, your friends, the bank teller, the financial adviser, the nice woman at the grocery store, the engineer… It has no preference for race, economic status, appearance, or gender. It will come for you when you least expect it, and when it came for me, I never saw it coming.

All my life I liked to experiment. I never knew who I was, or who I wanted to be. That’s normal for a pre-teen girl. But I felt anything but normal. I partied through high school, throwing away my intelligence to be the “cool girl”. My family was always supportive of me, and they failed to see their baby girl was spiraling out of control.

Being the cool girl meant too much to me. It had too much of an effect on my ego. I liked being the girl everyone wanted to be around. Until the moment they grew up, and I didn’t. I dabbled with drugs, had my fair share of alcoholic nights. But it was never a problem, never a habit that stuck. It wasn’t until I picked up my first opioiod that my life began it’s downward turmoil.

A boy. A boy liked me. And I mean really liked me. And I wasn’t used to feeling loved. He wanted me, and I would do anything to keep that. My insecurities were starting to get covered up with his affection, until it wasn’t enough.

I found that release in Percocet. I found a way to numb my emotional problems that was easier and felt better than anything I was ever used to. My life started to change. I thought for the better, but I didn’t know where it was going to lead me.

It was okay for a few years. I managed a job, I was making my parents proud by paying all my own bills. On the outside, I was a perfect daughter. But inside, the gaping void was being filled more and more by a drug that fueled my addiction.

At some point, I don’t remember when, but I couldn’t wake up or get through my day without it. It started gradually, and progressed with time. And when the Percocet became too expensive, heroin was my next love.

It didn’t take long for my life to go to shambles. No one trusted me, and I couldn’t even trust myself. The job I had for three years was gone, the boy I loved was gone, and my family support was hanging by a thread. I wasn’t a human anymore. I had no emotions anymore. I didn’t care who I hurt, and I didn’t even care about myself. Hurt people hurt people. And that’s what I became good at. Manipulation became my bestfriend. It wasn’t too soon after my first bag of heroin that I lost everything I held dear to me. I needed my life back, and my parents deserved to have their daughter back.

IMG_1987Recovery was the best thing that ever happened to me. I’m starting to live life like a normal human being. But please, don’t think this is easy. It’s anything but easy. So I want the people on the outside, the normal people, to try and see this in a different light. The stigma needs to be demolished. It could happen to anyone. It takes one bad decision, one accident that requires pain management, to start this road that you may not be ready for. So before you voice your opinion, try and be a little more sensitive, a little more open minded. This isn’t just for the homeless junkies you see on the side of the street. Addiction can affect anyone, and the minute you let your guard down is when you’ll be enslaved just like millions of us have been.

 

#Lost

I just came across this young author’s site. He is Shouting at the top of his lungs and advocating for change.

I don’t often share other blogs, as I feel my blog will then just become another Facebook feed – and I already have one of those.

This young man’s writing is so fresh and so real that I feel it is important to add to my blog because:

  1. You will learn about him and read his posts today
  2. If you have found this site at a later date and are trying to find some understanding of both addiction and recovery you have the opportunity to read this young man’s powerful words.

Please click the link Choose Freedom link to read his blog and share his writing. He is a powerful voice in this fight to Stop the Silence. Tell him to Keep Shouting.

I have chosen to share his most recent piece but please check out his other posts as well.

You will thank me.

 

Hello,

My name is William Marotta. I write the blog called Choose Freedom. I hope that some of you are reading this for the first time. I hope that there are some of you that have read every single post of mine in hopes to find some freedom of your own. I have never posted entries this close together. I have never once sat down in the emotional state that I am currently in and wrote something for the general public to read. I am exhausted, angry, irrational & most importantly, #Lost. I took a few hours today to go back and read everything I have written on this blog & i think what has created so much thought in my mind is the titles of each post. I have been unchained from addiction. I believe as a generation we are at war & completely undefined. I have shown the world Ryan, Amanda & Brandon. I speak up. Our system is broken. I continue to scream & definitely fed up. So I ask just this once, is this thing on? Can people hear me?

Source: #Lost

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(Guest Post) Inducted Member

This is THE most powerful description of what it is like to be the parent of an addict that I have ever read.
I was breathless as I read it. Thank you Tracy Faye for writing this.

Caged Moments

The following piece was written by my beautiful friend Tracy. I have been lucky enough to know her for 19 years. She is the mother of three amazing children. She is the most compassionate, loving, nurturing and gentle mom I know. My youngest daughter once said “I wash Tracy was my mom.” Not because she was mad at me, but because she is so incredibly soft and gentle. She is hurting. She is proud. She is strong. She needs the world to be gentle with her. And, she needs other moms to hear her. I share this here for her with love and pride and support. Please leave comments for her to read.-Heidi xo

To Join Tracy’s Closed Facebook Group visit Mothers of Addiction-A support Club for Moms Who Love their Addicted Child

INDUCTED MEMBER by Tracy Faye

I have had this echo of a song inside me for all…

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