I recently was involved in a discussion about drug addiction on social media. It was a pretty innocuous discussion. I shared my views, others shared their view. I did not think it was a big deal. The world is a remarkable place. It is filled with opinions, objections, judgments and feelings. Everyone is not going to agree on everything all of the time. Probably not even some of the time. When I enter in to such discussions I am only voicing my perspective. I am the mother of an addict and this is my experience thus far. I am not telling anyone their opinion is wrong, or that they should see it my way. I truly believe that there are three sides to every story. Nothing is black and white. Not even black and white. I certainly never get offended if someone doesn’t agree with me, as long as the discussion remains respectful and does not escalate to an argument, which is what I thought was happening. I was certainly not trying to get anyone join my Support The Addict Club, I was merely trying to shed light on something I have first-hand experience in. I really didn’t take it personally. Then I got a private message from someone I do not know, and I assume only knows me from what I posted on that social media site, which wasn’t much. The inbox message to me was “Do you really believe that anyone should have an ounce of sympathy for you or your kid? She stuck the needle in her arm so she gets whatever she deserves.” Uh, ok.
My immediate response to that was not polite or nice and I won’t repeat it. But thankfully I am a grown adult that recognizes everyone has a right to feel how they feel, whether I agree with them or not. So I deleted my response, and decided to think about that. First of all, in no way am I expecting anyone to change their view of the world or even just on addiction based on what I post here or anywhere else. I am simply reciting how I feel, and what I think, and to that I am entitled. Everyone is entitled, that is the pro and con of the internet. I might not like everything I see, I may not agree with it, but everyone has the right to post what they want (the caveat being that it isn’t bullying, against the law, or threatening to another person, place or thing, don’t take this out of text). I mean televised Evangelical Preachers offend me at times but I don’t write to the network to take them off the air, I just don’t watch them, because there are many people who like what those preachers have to say, and to them it’s entertainment, or gratifying, meeting some need.
I strongly believe that unless you have lived something, you don’t really know what it means to experience it. I wasn’t adopted, so I couldn’t say I know how it feels s when a person is overwhelmed at the idea of meeting their birth parent for the first time. I also don’t feel I have the right to judge someone for not wanting to find their parent(s), because I believe that is a personal choice. No more would I judge the parent that gave the child up for adoption. Should I be the one to say a person shouldn’t be allowed to say they are in pain from giving up their child just because it was a choice (knowing that in some cases it was not a choice)? Until you have been in the trenches, and have seen the carnage, how can you say what a veteran can feel or thinks? If you haven’t experienced it why do you get to judge? The why is because that is what makes the world go round. That is what diversity is all about, like it or not. Thankfully, there are people in the world that have evolved enough to consider other alternatives. And of course, there are those that don’t. There are people who are anti-sematic or racist. I am certainly not comparing those things to those who prejudice against addicts or addiction; however, it’s the same closed minded thinking. The definition of prejudice is preconceived opinion that is not based on reason or actual experience. How in the world does anyone who has not been an addict or dealt with addiction first hand able to make an educated stance on a subject? I find that interesting.
Also, there is a lot of talk about addicting being a choice. There are a lot of choices in the world. A lot. Everyone has a choice. A smoker chooses to smoke. A diabetic chooses to eat unhealthy. And overweight person chooses to eat. Physically, those individuals choose to buy cigarettes etc. Those are all true facts. But I guess where I struggle, the big problem for me is, so what? So what if a person chooses to do something that is harmful to them? So what if a person makes a poor choice that follows them for life? That makes it less tragic? That makes it less horrible? For the person and the family? If I choose to speed down the highway at 80 miles an hour which leads to me crashing into a guardrail because I lose control which then leads me dying, will people say she got what she deserved? How many of you have been caught speeding? How many of you have driven after one to many drinks? How many of you have taken a risk that turned out with you in a compromising situation but survived? How many times have you done something that ended with you saying I’m lucky to be alive? All of us. Every single person in this world has done something, at least once, that you regretted and wished you had never done. I know I have. I can think of several without trying too hard.
Using drugs the first time is a choice. No doubt. But what drove a person to that choice. Doesn’t that matter? Doesn’t that weight in? Mental illness, sexual abuse or trauma, peer-pressure, poor judgment or decision making, parental influence, poor parental supervision, station in life, are all factors to be considered. Not everyone is smart enough, lucky enough, and intuitive enough to make the right decision every time. There are people who make one poor choice that follows them around for the rest of their life. We are all human. Why does it matter if the original choice was poor? Drug dependency happens with the first use when talking about heroin specifically. I can’t speak for many other drugs, because that isn’t my experience. It is not what I have studied or familiarized myself with. What I do know is that when someone, anyone, uses heroin the first time it changes the white matter in the brain. The brain is programmed to crave and seek the elements of life including water, air, food and shelter. The brain is triggered to believe that heroin is one of those elements and is needed for survival. Coupled with an already damaged person, a person who in a world where they are mental unhealthy for any number of reasons, a person whose psyche has been crushed or deflated or was born in to a situation that was hell or even a person who for no other reason just followed the wrong crowd, the use of heroin is life changing. In many times life ending. Isn’t it plausible that we as humans should consider the why instead of pointing fingers and making blame?
I really do not care at all if anyone wants to believe it’s a choice. I don’t care because it doesn’t affect my world. It doesn’t affect JoDee’s world. When someone says she gets what she deserves, it gives both of us more strength to educate the ignorant, to help those in need and to continue on a path for a better day. A day where drug addiction isn’t ruining lives, or taking our loved ones. I am not hateful of those that don’t understand, I have compassion for them. Why? Because I have compassion for everyone. This journey with my daughter has taught there is more to life than what you see. What I struggle with may be easy for someone else, what someone else struggles with may be a breeze for me. I will not agree with everything I hear but I am sophisticated and knowledgeable enough at this juncture of my life to know, nothing is the way it seems. Life is way too hard for everyone, even if my struggles seem miniscule compared to someone else’s, it doesn’t make my pain any less severe. So to answer the question do I believe anyone should have sympathy for me or my kid? No, it is I that has sympathy for you for a closed mind is a lonely place to live.