Thursday, July 18, 2013

Shamed to Death

After we complete at stint in rehab or in jail, the expectations set for us are so high. For many of us, there is no where left to go but down. Addiction is a chronic medical disorder. The cause of our condition may or may not be self created through poor choices in the same way over consumption of food can cause diabetes. Instead of blaming and shaming us, we need realistic support. While it may be true that diabetics do not steal things to support their sugar habit, the criminalization of a medical condition has pushed addicts into the shadow world and out into the elements.

Who is worth saving? Naloxone is a medication that can quickly reverse an opiate overdose yet it is only available at a few hundred sites across the country. Are you lucky enough to be in an area where you can receive a rational treatment for an accidental overdose? The naloxone can be administered by yourself or a friend or relative. Even grandmas get confused and take too many opiates. Are they worth saving? Who is making these policy decisions. Our system of addiction policies in the United States are prohibitive when they should be based on the best interventions available for our citizens. Naloxone works. Harm reduction saves lives every day. 

This young man that died in Vancouver was killed by his shame. The scenario is a familiar one to many of us. Fresh out of a stint in rehab, all eyes are on us. When will we fall down? When will we fail? This is the chorus we hear in our heads. If only he could have picked up the phone. If only he would have realized there were people that loved him? I have been in his position. That drink of alcohol fuels the poor judgement. The heroin is close behind the booze. Once I lose my rational ability to fight my cravings, any thing can happen at that moment. I was given many second chances. This young man, like many other young men and women I have known, will not have the opportunity to create a full life without drugs. 

It is time to open frank conversation about addiction. It is time to demand better access to treatment, clean needles, and interventions based around individual goals. It is time to treat addiction as a medical condition. We need naloxone and we need it in every first aid kit. We are all worth saving.

The two men in these pictures died of the exact same thing.


  1. I just read you're blog today and as a recovering addict.. Sometimes I still stumble and a mom to a toddler. I wanted to say you're writing is amazing ! I watched black tar years ago before I had my son and again just recently . The change in you is amazing! And I noticed I've changed as well.. Gave me hope

    1. I am so glad I could provide you with some hope :)

  2. I love this entry Tracey......poor lost soles which can easily be retracted!
    Rip cory talent gone too soon!