Heroin addiction is a thinking problem, a thinking epidemic. I needed to feel safe enough to think sober might work.

There isn’t a heroin epidemic. Heroin isn’t the problem. It’s been around for a long time – healing sadness, addicting the brain, causing shitty withdrawal symptoms, shutting down the body, and making pain go away in the body and the mind. Heroin sits in a bag on a coffee table. It’s the mind that shoots it up.

These are the roots of the real epidemic:

  • big pharma companies that start many of the addictions because they aggressively market to physicians-the doctors by offering prescriptions of heavy duty opiates to all ages (lots of under 18) and for doing the bidding for big pharma, and neglecting their responsibility to safely detox patients of off of the opiates they are prescribing when the script runs out.
  • the lack of community building and support to help people that began their use over hardship, severe loss and trauma, and the feelings of separateness and aimlessness (think villages, tightly knit and financially able to build community structure and handle community issues) *It’s important to note here that people turn to drugs/alcohol for different reasons, and not all people that try drugs/alcohol become addicted
  • other countries making products instead of Americans making products for each other (think JOBS, and what JOBS give us: purpose, confidence to support ourselves and families, the good pride, stimulation, community, goals, connectedness, motivation, hope)
  • currently and most obviously the youth doing the drugs when their brains are at the highest risk to crave pleasure and seek refuge from pain (adolescence is hard, period)
  • the SECRET it has been, until recently, and the STIGMA surrounding it that keeps parents, relatives, partners, co-workers, friends, communities, and the education community hush about it (this leads to community, state, and federal inaction instead of gathering all the leaders of the recovery communities, mental health, and neuroscience communities to come up with solid ways to bridge the gap between the addiction and real treatment)
  • inadequate treatment centers, their price tags, their false promises, misinformation, and the propaganda that they can fix someone in a 30 day visit
  • the lie that you have to believe in God to be in 12 step

There may be more. Things are different than years ago when opium was smoked in dens by adults, and when my parents shot dope in groups and kept adrenaline in a rig in the freezer, and when they were out of adrenaline they would use salt and water in a needle and use that to wake up someone that overdosed.

All four of my nuclear family (mom, dad, me and my sibling) have overdosed at least once.

I never received help for any of my trauma until I got sober. I never  went to detox and I never went to treatment. I didn’t know what it was or how to get to it, I did not have insurance and certainly no access to information or resources.

Even though I grew up in poverty and chaos, I am lucky my family over the years eventually had the means to keep me from falling further than I did, and that there were some clear headed people in my family that were able to offer me love.

But other kids aren’t so lucky.

Other people aren’t so lucky.

A lot of it is luck. Many people have no way to feel safe enough to think sober might work for them. Addiction is a thinking problem,  this is a thinking epidemic. If the mind can’t wrap it’s head around something, then it will consider it  impossible. If a new life of feeling pain without anesthesia doesn’t seem survivable then it’s inconceivable.

Addicts don’t doubt they are powerless over the drug necessarily. They, me, we, doubt that it’s possible to survive the other side of addiction.  It takes an act of faith to commit to 12 step work, therapy, etc. and slam down the work to get the defense against using,  and that willingness to have faith that it will work is hard to come by.

I love you, keep going. And even if it’s hard, and especially when it’s hard, keep going. And help others to keep going. Can’t do this alone, and it’s okay to be afraid….do it anyways.

My parents diMicaela Malod drugs and sold drugs on the Cape.

I did drugs and sold drugs on the Cape.

I got sober on the Cape.

I am the only one in my nuclear family to graduate college.

I am 11 years sober.

There is hope.




Micaela Malo is a woman in long term 12 step recovery in Boston, Mass who got sober in January of 2005. She began her recovery on Cape Cod after abusing alcohol and drugs for 15 years in Boston and New York City.

micaela portrait

She travels to guest speak across the Northeast to others in recovery, high schools, rehabs, halfway houses, jails, Learn to Cope meetings for parents (relatives) and partners of drug addicts, and through one on one peer support.

Seeking a path to change the “thinking” of addiction she is part of the Dharma Punx and Against The Stream Buddhist meditation community in Boston, Worcester and New York City. She also has attended Refuge Recovery meetings which offer recovery through practicing the eight fold path of Buddhism which supplements her work with the 12 steps. She passes on much of her spiritual learning with others especially lending help to those that are non-theist seeking to work the 12 steps.

Micaela continues to offer her life to spread the word that recovery is possible and continues to find ways to grow and to be of service.

You may contact Micaela by email at Treatedfor24@gmail.com



2 thoughts on “Heroin addiction is a thinking problem, a thinking epidemic. I needed to feel safe enough to think sober might work.

  1. You are so much an inspiration. Thank you. I have been going to NA and found out just how awesome it can be. To be there for myself and surprisingly others. I have 80 days today.


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