Editor’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.
Stop the Silence
And please – Be Kind
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.
Recovery 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.