Saturday, April 22, 2017

There are No Casseroles: Fighting Against the Stigma

Today we are only about a week away from the end of the April A-Z Challenge. I must say, challenge this has been coming up with a topic to write about for each letter of the alphabet and staying within the theme, but I have enjoyed every minute of the long haul bringing to you awareness of the disease of addiction as well as this heroin epidemic which continues to plague many cities across the U.S.

On this side of the addiction, that is those of us who love someone addicted to powerful drugs such as heroin we have faced many uphill battles. One of the battles is that of the stigma relating to addiction and especially to heroin. 

I wish not one other person had to suffer and not one other family had to go through the tragedy of
losing a loved one to overdose. Sadly, I don't see an end coming to it. Today I want to talk about the stigma and fighting against it.

PhotoThis disease rarely brings love and comfort. There are no casseroles or pies. There are no telethons. In fact, once your friends find out chances are you won't have friends anymore.

It may surprise you but the biggest stigma will come from those you least think, your family. Trust me. If you think your family will support you during this time, think again.

Over the years society itself has not been kind and is often cruel. It is a fact today it is widely known that this disease is not a disease of bad parenting. It is a societal disease. Well I hate to remind you once again but when my adult kids left my home to fly on their own we did not send them out into the community addicted to heroin, but that is what we got back.

Not one parent wishes to raise a heroin addict. Not child ever said, when I grow up I want to be a heroin addict. Not one addict hoped to be one. The images of what society calls junkies setting in dark alleys and in doorways collapsed are no more. In fact, you could be standing or sitting next to an addict and never know that person is suffering this disease. The classic images you've all seen of a needle hanging out of the arm or the track marks are no more.

Today, there is a young eight-year-old in rehab. These young kids are playing video games and enjoying music one day and smoking, snorting or shooting up heroin the next. These youngsters appear smart, dressed in stylish clothes but in fact, are playing with danger in the form of dangerous drugs.

Last year we started a petition to bring a drug treatment center here to our town. Over the year it has met with a lot of opposition from community politicians to the NIMBY people.

From time to time I still receive an email of those opposition to a treatment center here. Sometimes a blog post will bring an email. Those opposed to anything that has to do with the words, epidemic, drug addiction and recovery. Their reasons for the opposition are as follows as to what I have received in email (without names of course):
  • You can't put a treatment center in the middle of heroin central
  • I don't care where they put a treatment center, just don't put it here.
  • Are you kidding? All of those addicts will be hanging out there.
  • We need the money spent on the children in schools, not for the drug addicted
  • We need aggressive action into stopping it not a rehab
  • Provide a cost assessment for this treatment center first. We who don't have a drug problem with drugs have a problem with what our money is used for
  • Stop pacifying the addicts at the taxpayer's expense
  • I'm tired of working 40+ hours a week and my tax money going for able-bodied drug users
  • What is the % of the success of these facilities?
  • This will only work for those who want to get clean. People who OD don't want to get clean.
  • I don't want my kids playing ball at Oatesdale Park next to that place.
  • What about these places? (Lists lots of resources) How many more resources to facilities do you people need?
  • Help the kids not the people who choose to destroy their lives. If kicking a habit and being clean is the result someone is looking for they will make a way. But I say no! Not here in town where that funding could be used in countless other places
  • The money and time need to be spent to stop the drugs coming in!
  • if the abusers were to be jailed and fined when caught just like a drunk driver is it may make the abuser think twice next time. Abusers know exactly what they are doing and getting themselves into - let them fend for themselves!
  • A junkie is a junkie they make a choice to shoot up
  • child molesters can't help themselves either they don't build treatment facilities for them. Drugs and using them is a choice
  • It's not my responsibility to pay for someone's stupid mistake
  • People need to educate themselves on raising their children better
  • All of you people should be in jail.
  • Parents of junkies need to be jail.
  • We need to change the language
  • If someone overdoses families need to be held responsible and go to jail
  • I am tired of paying for all of your worthless kids narcan. I hope they all die.
That last response, I guess that means no casserole or pie for me. So, after reading these what do you think about the responses?

What if you or someone you love was suffering a disease in which there was a cure, but no one wanted that cure anywhere near their town?

What if you or someone you love suffered a heart attack or stroke, was taken to the hospital, treated like a non human because hey, it must be something that person did wrong otherwise, why would they have a heart attack? Afterwards instead of further tests and admission to the hospital you or your someone you love was discharged and sent home? If you or someone you love later died from heart disease you would be tearing up the walls of the hospital. Finding an attorney to settle your case and claim.

Sadly, that is exactly what happens when a person is addicted and goes to the hospital. They are sent back home. Back to the streets. Treated as second class citizens and often the doctors and nurses have laughed at them. And if you are lucky there will be the doctor who will give you the address of a heroin dealer. Wait, that was one ER doctor here who gave my son the street corner where he could find a heroin dealer. Told my son "IF YOU CAN SHOOT HEROIN, YOU CAN PASS THAT KIDNEY STONE. BE A MAN."

When you look at someone suffering from any addiction it is hard for many to look above the addiction and to see the real person they are suffering inside. We who love them know the person they are if not for the addiction.

The biggest stigma to someone suffering this addiction is the language. What if we changed the way we speak about it? 

Always remember those people suffering are Someone's Child. They are parents, they are grandparents, they are siblings, they are aunts, uncles, and cousins. They are friends and spouses of someone who loves them dearly. They are, Somebody's Someone
Daphne Willis dedicates this song to anyone and everyone who knows addiction, mental illness, homelessness or all of the above. Be strong and use your local resources. Together, we can make a difference.

Society never minded keeping us in the stigma blaming us parents as the problem but they also don't like it when the tables turned on this addiction and we laid this blame and the problem back at the feet of society. 
This is not a parental problem anymore. This is a societal problem. There are just too many affected by this epidemic.

I hope you return on Monday to read my post called, The Twelve Steps

Credits for this post:
Letter pic Blogging A-Z
Song by Daphne Willis Youtube
pic found
pic from

© 2017 Gossip Girl

No comments:

Post a Comment