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 treatment while those in accredited hospital facilities 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. Continue reading “If you think the Opioid/Opiate Epidemic hasn’t affected you, think again.”

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? Continue reading “The Winding Path to Heroin Part II: Emily”

A Message from Elizabeth Anne Grundy, ‘The Junkie’s Wife’

dear-judgy-lady

You can take the situation out of the codie ( and I do not mean that in a good way) but you can not take the codie out of the girl. I wish so much that I could reply to every one of you, but I have severe ADD and I already drank 3 diet cokes today😊

Here is what I want to say to each and every person who has messaged me about someone they love with all their heart and can not live with out. Someone they are worried sick about. Someone who is so integral to their very existence, simply, I understand.

Each and every story, while different in their own way all have the same bare bones.

I would never ever think that I have the audacity to channel the voice of a mother,a father ,a sibling , a child; My experience is that of a lover and a partner and that is the point of view that I can speak on, but I do know the gamut of emotions that most of you have run through while dealing with active addiction.

I know your fear, your sadness, your anger. I know your disappointment, your dashed and renewed hopes. I know the messes you have tried to clean up, the money you have spent, the oscar winning speeches you have given, the tantrums you have pulled. I know the gps trackers you have installed, the sleepless nights, the 3 am searches in the worst neighborhoods. I know the bargaining, the pleading, the manipulations and the monumental screaming matches. I know you have threatened drug dealers and knocked down doors in a pair of size 5 flimsy converses. I know when it comes to trying to protect the person you love you are 5ft 2 inches of pure terror( ok, lets face it, I am talking about me on this one😊) ( I am also not suggesting this is a good idea)

I know the birthdays that have been ruined. I know the holidays that have been even more ruined. I know that verizon probably wants to institutionalize you for the 96 phone calls and texts you sent in an hour. I know that you sometimes wish you really were institutionalized. I know the endless support you have given and how you wish for just one day that it could be about you. I know you have panic attacks. I know you look like shit and feel like shit. I know you are trying like Hell to fake like everything is fine. I know you have said things you regret. I know that there were things you wanted to say that you never got a last chance to.

I know that you have turned into someone you don’t recognize; someone bitter and oozing pain from every pore. I know that you feel alone. I know the plans you are afraid to make , because you don’t know where your loved one will be in sobriety on that day. I know you have lost friends. I know people are sick of hearing it. I know you have finally begun to suffer in silence because said people are sick of hearing it. I know you are embarrassed. I know you have lost your shit so epically, many times, that you made Britney 2007 look like an amateur.

I know you have deleted phone numbers, hidden keys, locked up valuables and slept with money on your person. I know you watch breathing patterns. I know you are tired. I know sometimes you wish you would die. I know you have no spoons. I know you do not feel like you can face another day.

More importantly; I know your unconditional love. I know you are doing the best you can do because of that love. I know you don’t know what the fuck to do anymore. I know that watching the person you love turn into the person both you and they hate is tearing your heart out.

I know you have tried every single thing you can possibly do. EVERYTHING except help yourself.

I would not change a single thing about my life
with Ed, I loved him, I adored him and I liked being with him more than any other adult on this planet, but If I could do it all over again, I would have found better ways to take care of ME while leaving the rest up to a higher power( who knew there was one higher than me😊) I could fight beside him, but it wasn’t my battle, it was his. Believe me, I know that is the most frustrating part. We want to do anything humanly possible to keep the people we love safe. If love could have saved my guy he surely would have been immortal.

I would have lectured less, prayed more and just simply loved. Even if at times I had to do that from a distance.

I wish with all my heart, I had answers and soloutions for many of you, I don’t. I can just empathazie, support , pray for and love each and every single one of you who has reached out to me.

I had hope until Ed’s last breath. Where there is life there is hope and I sincerely wish for each and every one of you that hope becomes a reality.

Lots of love and big cyber hugs

 

~Elizabeth Ann Grundy

 

Dear judgy lady on Facebook- I hope you never learn about addiction the way I have.

14287545_1231708970194128_607082155_n-1

Dear judgy lady on Facebook,

I read the article you shared on narcan. Your opinion and commentary made my pulse pound and my face flush. I was angry, but after a few minutes passed I didn’t want to punch you in the face anymore. My heart softened towards you, because I know you just don’t get it. You are so lucky and I am envious of that. I wish more than anything else that I didn’t get it either. I never wanted to and As much as I think you suck for saying what you did,I hope you never have to.

You see, I know something you don’t know. I have lived it, walked it and most importantly survived it, while you sit on the other end of a computer content in your ignorance. I hear that it is bliss. Continue reading “Dear judgy lady on Facebook- I hope you never learn about addiction the way I have.”

My Dear Child, I Forgive You…

14194472_10153843107604117_1024418572_n (1)

My Dear Child,
 I forgive you.

There is something you need to know that perhaps I haven’t said. I forgive you; and you need to forgive yourself.

 

In the beginning, I think we both felt the incredible weight of this disease, and the more angry and frustrated I got, the sicker you became. It took me a long time to understand the truth of why this was happening. I thought perhaps my yelling and screaming and fighting would cure you. I was battling for your life. I knew no other way.Even my sobbing couldn’t move you. Please, know that whatever I did, I did because I thought it might help. Continue reading “My Dear Child, I Forgive You…”

Lost in Plain Sight

image

The need, the compulsion that overcame any self respect, principles, and morals; that could never be me. I have too much to lose, I am only doing this for him, I am not addicted – I don’t even like the feeling. At 16 years old I believed I was the greatest power in the world. Nothing could ever gain control of my entire life. I couldn’t even begin to tell you how wrong I was. If only I were born with a warning for my parents, that I came with this mental disease called addiction. Not that anyone in the world could have saved me from what I had to go through to be where I am today.

I’m not even sure why I drank the first time, I wasn’t really sure what alcohol was at that age. I was 12 years old and found a bottle of gin at my grandparents. My friend and I thought it would be cool, after all – adults drink! Well, a half a bottle of gin and two shots of orange juice later; my friend didn’t like the taste. So without any warning I felt the need to not waste any of it and drank both glasses. I only remember the very beginning of that night. I woke up in the middle of the living room floor with my father sitting next to me crying. I had alcohol poisoning. My parents were afraid to get me in trouble for drinking, so my Dad sat up all night taking care of me and saved my life. I had no control over how much I consumed, I couldn’t stop. I waited years before I picked up my next drink sometime in early high school. Everyone was drinking, I didn’t think I was any different from all of my friends. I was an honor roll student, started working in a daycare and I was in control. Continue reading “Lost in Plain Sight”