An article popped up on my facebook news feed and it made me angry.
Here’s the article.
For a ‘heartache’ it’s a pretty empty letter that feels to me like it was assembled by maybe a novice author trying to capture the egocentric aftermath of a son’s drug addiction. No matter; a few things were clear – the mother had zero clue about drug addiction. At all. There’s enough fucking resources out there, especially considering she apparently accesses one of them.
After being close with members of an addiction program while I was in hospital myself, I learned a lot. No, you can’t force someone to rehabilitate, just as this person said, and no, prison should never be the answer, but Christ, whatever absolute hell the families are going through, the people themselves are going through worse. I promise. To be honest, I think the letter reads as absurdly and quite specifically egocentric. Part of recovery as a family member is letting the person in the throes of addiction know how you feel and it is a valid and important thing to do, but the ‘It’s all about me‘ from a family member is literally the least helpful thing. I mean, really, what are you trying to achieve with this letter? Your son already knows (really, he knows) that he’s hurting you, so it’s not that. You’re not trying to educate people about the realities of addiction, so it’s not that. I can’t figure out what you want us do with this. One thing I learned the hard way is that looking after a severely unwell addict can be fucking impossible. We managed long enough to get a friend to hospital, but it nearly fucking killed us. Do you know how hard it is to access methadone when you’re several hours away from the regular pick up site? Do you know how hard it is to get a prescription for it moved to another pick up site? In a different city? Did you know that you can’t just go to any GP and get a new script? I hope you don’t, but I do. I also know how to get it done. Did you know that it’s often safer to keep an alcoholic drinking than to force them cold turkey? Did you know that alcohol withdrawal can be more deadly than withdrawal from illicit substances? Did you know that you can’t keep an addict alive by yourself and just with the sheer willpower of love? It’s something that really does require professional help. Did you know that even general practitioners who have known addicts for years can just turn their backs on them? Did you know that everyone hates addicts and very few want to help? Did you?
Because I do.
The reality is, addiction is an illness. It’s not just going to go away by making half arsed pleas through the newspaper. It’s not going to go away by abandoning your loved one. It’s not going to go away by trying to ‘open their eyes’ (which are already open) to the pain they’ve caused. You cannot rationalise away addiction just as much as you can’t with any other mental illness. It doesn’t work like that. It’s not the drugs that have taken over, it’s a few areas of his brain that have taken him over and they are much more powerful than you. Fuck, they’re a lot more powerful than so much of him. Nobody wants this. Nobody wants to be so desperate for another drink or another fix that they would do anything to get it. Imagine how that fucking feels.
Get your fucking head out of your arse. Either you’re going to try help him or you’re not. Either is fine. Make a decision. As you said, you can’t force someone to rehabilitate. His wellbeing shouldn’t be about placating you out of your sense of obligation. If you ‘re not going to be a part of his life, which is a tough decision to make, you need to stick with it. Your son isn’t ‘gone’ and it’s not ‘the drugs’ you have been ‘dealing with’. Your son is a drug addict and unfortunately this is all part of him. If your son can overcome his addiction, he’s going to be a different person. He may not even want anything to do with you or anyone he used to know. Having that door open for him is important, but you can’t drag him through it because that will be dragging him backwards. You need to listen to your drug affected family members. They’ve heard everything you have to say to them many times, I promise. It’s something to agonise over, the media in any form tells them how fucking horrible they apparently are; they know, okay, they do. You can’t tell them anything they don’t already know, but I sure as shit guarantee that you would learn a fucking lot from them if they can let their iron-clad defences down to tell you.
Drug use and abuse is often a symptom. It’s a symptom of trauma or mental illness. This makes detox, rehab, and sobriety that much more difficult because no longer being able to run from the shit inside your own head and having to take responsibility and control of that is not a nice adjustment to make. It’s so much more complicated than just putting down the pipe, the needle, or the bottle; it’s dealing with everything.
We need to stop treating addicts like they’re addicts.
These stupid fucking scaremongering ads on television courtesy of the Australian Govt. further perpetuate stigma. They don’t fucking help anyone, but they hurt some of our most vulnerable. The way to lessening rampant life destroying drug abuse is to stop putting addicts in fucking prison! Christ! I could muse for fucking years on why that’s counter-intuitive but many other people have done it and done it better than I could. We need funding for addiction services. We need free rehab centres. We need people willing to help addicts find purpose in life. We need a thousand other things to help addicts function better in society. We need to treat them with compassion because shitting all over people with addictions hasn’t fucking worked yet and that is because it never will.
Drug education in schools is often about scaring people. That doesn’t work. Closing the doors to kids who are going to experiment to drugs puts them on the back foot already. There’s a reason so many young people do not call emergency services when they’re out and using party drugs – it’s because they’ve not been taught that the emergency services will help and that being honest with them is the best way to prevent and minimise harm. We need to teach the kids about drugs acknowledging that it is reality that at least a few are going to experiment with drugs, especially in Australia where our drug consumption is huge. We need to teach them how to do it as safely as possible, is all. Like sex ed, teaching them to be afraid teaches them to not engage in healthy discourse with adults who can help in dire situations, which leads to pregnancies, STDs, and in the case of drug use, serious injuries and deaths.
Why the fuck are we doing it all like this?
We can see the damage we are doing by treating people like this.
What are we actually trying to achieve?
Go and rethink your perspective on addiction.
If you use drugs, bluelight.org is a bunch of forums about harm reduction. You will not be able to source through this website.