I suppose if anyone should have something to offer in regards to the question, "what can we do??", it ought to be me...But, sadly ( and frustratingly), I still don't have an answer...All I have are different thoughts and insights to what my experience has been.
I think heroin is still considered, in this area anyway, more of an inner-city problem...Or a problem with kids leading what some would consider more of "alternative" lifestyle, ( i.e. the young man with the piercings in the video)...I don't think that's so alternative personally, but there are people who would look at him and not come away with a positive impression because of his appearance...He doesn't look like their child or grandchild and so there's a disconnect between that image and their child...And that leads to the, "No way my kid would ever use needles or heroin"...They might experiment with other drugs, but not dope...That would have been me 9yrs ago...If one were to have met my son ( when he wasn't using) you would have met a pretty clean-cut, articulate, and very personable young man...But that young man was the same one who would get up from the Thanksgiving table, go to his room, shoot-up, sleep it off, and be back in time for pumpkin pie...And no one was the wiser.
It's not right but I think as heroin begins to affect more white middle-class kids and their families people begin to give it more notice...( As both recent articles attest to)...Our children aren't any more important, but right or wrong, that's what is putting the spotlight on it right now...And while having the spotlight on it is certainly a step in the right direction, it still doesn't answer the question "what do we do".
I belong to a group of parents who have lost children to drugs ( GRASP) and a lot of discussions come up in regards to the "dealers"...Anger towards the dealers...Prison sentence for the dealers...That if the dealers had been dealt with maybe our kids would still be here...I personally don't feel that's the answer...MAYBE, it you cut it off from South America, but even that I'm not sure would make a difference...They'd find it somewhere else...Kind of like prohibition...From a personal perspective, I know exactly where my son got the last hit that killed him, but I never for a minute thought about turning this person in...Why??...Because she was a friend of my son...Another sad user...And as one of the articles said most "dealers" are only dealing to support their own habit and I'll even expand on that and say it's usually one user "helping" another friend/user out...One buys enough for themselves and then sells the rest to friends to cover their cost...I suppose I felt it could have been the other way around and my son could have unknowingly sold a friend a deadly dose...That doesn't mean I'm not human...I don't get the warm and fuzzies when this person's name is mentioned and I don't have her over for dinner...But she has a multitude of her own problems and probably enough guilt to last a lifetime where my son is concerned...I have never felt any reason to add to that...It won't bring him back and he wouldn't have wanted her life made any more difficult than it is...I should add that there are other parents who've lost their child this way that don't feel as I do...It's probably about 50/50...But, they're convinced going after even low level dealers will make the difference...I just don't feel that way.
Is it a disease??...I think it's genetic just as alcoholism is...I felt that way before he died ( to a point) but doubly so now...There is alcoholism on both sides of our family and I believe he got a double dose of some type of addictive gene...I have 3 other kids, 2 now adults, and none of them have ever shown any indication of substance abuse problems...4 kids raised by the same parents in the same environment and one succumbs...So yes, I think it's a disease and genetic...That said, even though I knew he was ill it didn't stop the frustration and anger I had with him at times...And that has certainly caused me a great deal of guilt...If you have a child ill with cancer you don't put them out of your home, withold affection, or say not especially kind things to them when they've pushed your last button...But, I did all of those things at different times before my son died...I heard another mother give the explanation though that a child with cancer probably isn't stealing from you, lying to you, and causing total chaos in your life...So what if your child who had cancer did those things to you though...Would it not make you as angry??...So it's a case of loving the child, but hating the behavior... I suppose that's true and sometimes it makes me feel a little better, but only a little.
Tough Love??...Hate it!!...I guess it works for some people, but it didn't work for us...Obviously...And knowing (that even though good intentioned) our "tough" love made my child's last 18 months on the earth even more difficult than the life he was already experiencing is hard to deal with at times...But that said, before Tough Love there were years of trying everything else we could think of...Extra love and attention, counseling, rehab, jail...Nothing made a lasting difference...When we did finally decide to be tougher with him it was because we had nothing else left in our bag of tricks...I've had almost 2yrs to think about what I would have done different and I still don't know what I would have changed or if I think we missed something that would have helped him.
Heroin has such a strong pull that it makes user behave in a way and do things that they would have never dreamt of doing in another life...My son didn't want to hurt us or put us through hell...Or hurt himself even...I KNOW that, but heroin made him do all of those things...It made him a different person...And heroin has such a strong pull that that even the thought of death doesn't scare them...I was sure after his first overdose that he'd be scared to ever use again, but no such luck...We lost count of how many overdoses he had before the one that took him...We can't agree if we think it was 5, 6, or 7...Sad I know, but true...Sadder though perhaps is when you begin to gauge the overdoses on how bad they really were, i.e. how close did he come to dying from this one or was he able to walk out on his own 2hrs later??...I know he had one before the final one that almost took his life as when we got to the hospital, they had us go to a little room to talk to us...We were sure he was gone then, but he surived...I thought that one for sure would have an impact on him, but didn't seem to be anything other than a blip on his screen.
That's the monster, the very strong monster, heroin is and how do you fight something like that??
What I hate the most is that as my son spiralled further and further down I began to lose sight of the wonderful young man he had been ( and that was still inside him)...Even as his mother in the end all I could really see most of the time was a heroin addict and all that entailed...And shame on me for that.
There's a saying that says:
"Heroin isn't just a spectator sport
Eventually the whole family gets to play"
This is true and I'll add not only does the whole family get to play, but eventually the whole community...I realize I haven't answered the question, "what do we do"??, but have just given my experience in what it is to love someone so dearly and then to watch that person, that CHILD with all their potential, disappear and slowly die ( before their physical death) before you eyes and you can't do anything to stop it.
Aug. 31 is National Overdose Awareness Day and perhaps by sharing some of my very personal story I've been able to show that heroin truly knows no boundaries and shows no mercy in regards to income, social status, family make-up, etc...I was the last person who ever thougt they'd lose a child to an overdose and I think we were the last family people would have looked at and thought it...But it happened and if it's not knocked on your door or someone you know yet, the odds are it will...It's hideous and what we're doing to fight it right now isn't working and we can only hope that we hit upon the right thing sooner than later.
- IntegrityMatters, DonnaK, kelley and 17 others like this