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Screw You, Stigma

Life Lessons From The Pool

This picture is supposed to be funny, but it really is addict shaming. Contributing to the stigma of “what a person with SUD looks like”. And guess what? I did it myself yesterday. After all my preaching and teaching of why can’t people just have compassion- bla bla……

Yup, guilty as charged.

I was at my complex’s pool again. Enjoying my pool float with my blue water weights in typical old lady fashion. The only other people there were the usual, non-English speaking elderly man, who always gets in the pool with his grandson- I’m assuming; and a lady-assuming the grandma.

Soon, through the crinky electronic gate, comes a dad with his boy. They jump in the pool and I immediately had thoughts of packing up. Then I hear the beat. The low base rumble of a car usually with it’s windows open, but even when they’re closed, you can hear the beat. The beat. It brings to mind a person who’s trouble. Not troubled, even though they probably are, but someone to stay clear of, nevertheless. The low riders. Car and pants.

Sure enough, it pulls up next to my unlocked car- because I hate to lug all my keys into the pool area. I panic, thinking of my wallet under the seat. I decide just to stay a few more minutes to take advantage of the cool water in the 98-degree heat. Then I’ll go rescue my car from Mr hard-of-hearing’s view.

Then he comes in. In all his glory of brazen colorful tattoos on his chest and arms & long khaki shorts with a hole in the knee to show another tattoo popping through.

His ‘tw******* girlfriend soon followed with some contorted mouth movements. Yup, I made a quick and thorough judgment of her too.

Then, he brings in a case of water and starts walking around passing them out. He goes around to everyone. The old guy and his wife were shocked. They tried to ask him how much? The kid said, “free”.

Then he proceeded to play with the kids and offer to cannonball into the pool. He said he hasn’t done it in years, so he kept counting to 3 & chickening out. He then said,

“If I get hurt, will you help me?”

One of the kids said,

” No”

To which he responded,

“I can respect that.”

I thought about that and how he didn’t expect anything from anyone. He spread kindness when it wasn’t expected. He didn’t care what people thought or that they weren’t willing to help him.

I couldn’t believe that with the journey I have been on with my son, that I couldn’t stop myself from passing judgment at first. I’m usually hyper-vigilant about “correcting” others.

Yesterday on a non-drug-related site, someone posted a picture of a syringe they found, with the word “irresponsible junkies” in the post. The comments that followed were, of course, triggering to me. The one that hit me was, “I’m so sick of these kinds of people”.

Of course, I made a snarky comment of,

“I’m soo glad none of US would EVER know or LOVE these kind of people.”

Who are these kinds of people? We moms know…they’re our kids. Our brothers, sisters, spouses. How do we offer a morsel of compassion when these hijacked brains are leaving needles around? For me, it just proves how this is only going to be solved with all hands on deck. Not with an “I’m sick of these people, but let me go on with my perfect little life while someone else fixes the problem”.

Shatterproof writes this about stigma:

"There is enough negativity in our world today—further judgment and blame towards those actively using drugs or in recovery needs to go.
Let’s create connection in an unprecedented time of isolation, and give those who are all too used to social isolation and shame the love and support they have always deserved."


Sharing the following story as a way to emphasize the truth in addiction and hopefully help everyone understand. I did not write it but it is how I believe. To win this battle best we can we need to be educated on it.

We were uneducated when our son told us he had a drug problem. We hadn’t given much thought about whether addiction was a choice or a disease. We had so much to learn. My husband and I started seeing a counselor who specialized in addiction. We had to educate ourselves. We read and read, and read some more. Our views quickly changed and we began to understand why our son couldn’t just see the damage and stop, why family wasn’t enough. It wasn’t that he didn’t want to stop, it wasn’t that he couldn’t see what the drugs were doing to his life or that he didn’t love his family or that we weren’t enough. We learned how opiates change dopamine levels in your brain, the chemical that regulates pleasure. We learned it takes a minimum of a year for those levels to even begin to return to normal. We learned things which would normally bring pleasure no longer do because of the change in dopamine levels. We learned that the brain’s response to opiates overrides everything else. We learned it is not a choice. We learned recovery was a long process and that relapse is part of it. We learned that people struggling with addiction need to know they matter and that someone cares. We learned once the addict was clean that the battle wasn’t over, that it would remain a lifelong fight. We learned there are not enough quality treatment centers. We learned most treatment centers are not affordable to most of those in need. We learned that many treatment centers have waiting lists and that many people die waiting to get in. We learned that many things need to change in order to stop this epidemic. We learned volumes.

Our son was a good kid from a good family. He was loved very much. He had a big heart and was always helping others. I know without a doubt he never thought he would be that person. I know he hated he ever crossed that line. I know he hated himself when he was actively using. I know he hated seeing the pain he put us through. I know he wanted more than anything to be clean. I know he fought with everything he had. I know he was winning the battle. I know he loved his family. I know his daughter was his pride and joy. I know he was proud of himself for being clean. I know he was looking forward to his future. I know he deserved more. I know he didn’t want to throw his life away or to die. I know without a doubt that no one would chose to be an addict.

Our son was and will always be our hero.

“Everybody has their own opinions on drug and alcohol addiction, but until you’ve been there, your opinion remains insignificant. Yes, they chose to use a drug or alcohol thinking they would be one that would be able control it. You don’t control a drug or alcohol, it controls you. There are some lucky ones who have beat it, but don’t think because they’re still alive that life is gravy. They fight everyday all day to stay clean or sober. It’s a constant battle from the time they open their eyes until they close them and it never goes away. Most are good people who made a bad choice.

Battling a drug or alcohol addiction is a beast for the person addicted and the ones who love them. So, in loving memory of every family member and friend who has lost their battle with drugs and alcohol and to those who continue to conquer it, put this on your page if you know someone who has or had (no such thing as had) an addiction.
They need every single ounce of encouragement.”

Shame and stigma help no one.

Written by a mom whose son lost his battle

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“Because of Covid”

“Because of Covid”

How many times a day do we hear “Because of Covid?”

I’ve never wanted to die. But because of Covid, I sometimes do.

No, I don’t have Covid. Nor do I want it. No, I don’t think it’s a fake virus. I think it’s a virus.

A relatively unknown virus. That kills.

Almost everywhere, a million times a day you hear “Because of Covid.”

It seems to be a “reason” for ANY thing that can’t be done due to covid, no matter how trivial; even things which don’t seem to correlate “with Covid”.

Confusing statement? Exactly. Proves my point.

What makes me sad, and angry & shocked, is the power this virus seems to have. It’s like a cancer eating away at everyone’s sense of judgement for freedoms and even affects their relationship with their families, who may disagree.

The seemingly invisible ability to destroy families, businesses, traditions, values, vacations, jobs, housing, decency, human nature, bonds, and holidays feels eerily familiar.

See, there’s another Pandemic that doesn’t get near the attention because of a preconceived judgement that certain humans aren’t worthy of basic needs.

Resurrection of Me Instagram

I care about covid, I do. But the lack of attention and empathy for the ongoing opiod epidemic that came crashing into my life two years ago, has me rattled.

I mean, we could compare the two death rates and all, but it would always end with the same statement: “Well, addiction is not contagious, addicts knew the risk, they’re not innocent, they brought this onto theirselves”

That’s awesome.

Another painful jab to a mother’s hurting heart.

So pain is now judgementized?( I’m aware this may not be a real word- but it fits)

I thought pain was pain. Suffering is suffering.

I was taught as a nurse that pain is what ever the PATIENT said it was….. Not what pain YOU think they have. ( Thanks to studies sponsored by Purdue—which helped contribute to this epidemic in the first place)

How come AIDS was a valid disease even though it usually resulted from a person’s choice? (With no push from drs and pharmaceutical companies that it was ‘harmless’).

So are WE playing God by deciding who’s worthy of treatment or sympathy?

It’s an honest question.

“No we’re not playing God, it’s just that addiction will always be around, this virus NEEDS our attention NOW.”

Do you know what else needs attention? An innocent little kid who needs her daddy back. What else? A man who has lost every single thing he worked for 15 years to get and now he shaking miserably in the bathroom of a speedway not knowing where to get his next fix so he’ll stop vomiting. A mom, who night after night, cries herself to sleep wondering where she went wrong. A mom who begs a God she never quite believed in before, to please save her son.

Maybe that’s all I want. Is sympathy.

I get it.

I haven’t lost anyone to Covid. Close, but not quite.

But I guess I kindof resent the fact that those who have lost relatives to covid are getting the mass media coverage like crazy. Softly dramatized stories about how much their relative suffered in the hospital and the heroes who took care of them.

Let me be clear. I’m not downplaying anyone’s experience. I’m just saying that if their loved one was suffering with a substance abuse disorder, they probly would not be used as a ‘ story’ in order to further the need for a certain point to be made, such as mask wearing or any other pubic service campaign to persuade people to take it “more seriously”.

We” (mamma’s of addicts) ARE taking it seriously. Like you, every aspect of our lives has changed, how could we not?

But we have been masking up for years. Hiding behind the stigma of Addiction. “We” can now see some of the hidden agendas that are being indirectly and sometimes directly played to families suffering with their grief.

This is done by using that pain as a “message” by having it come from the tear- stained face of a family member pleading with people to Pleeease care!

Do your part!!

“DO YOUR PART! DON’T BE SELFISH”

As they drive by the homeless person in their shiny car.

Look, I KNOW it’s human nature to have a CAUSE or a tribe to further the need of place our pain and blame onto someone or something else when we feel out of control. I mean, you could say I’m doing it now.

I could mention that I’ve been in “isolation” for years with my own mask. Covering up and quarantining our family secret of this addiction.

It’s one of those things normal people don’t understand.

But I attest to you, the pain of this other pandemic, is real. The fear of the unknown Is real. The dread of receiving “the call” is on my mind every single day.

When I see how far people have jumped and caved and twisted and turned for this virus, Yes, I’m jealous. I’ve written letter after letter asking for assistance with the nightmare journey of addiction. Famous people, entertainers, influencers, politicians, netflix documentary lawyers. I rarely get a response.

What did I want them to do? I don’t know. Whisk him away to the indies for a swanky rehab I guess. Who knows? I just want the pain to stop. Mostly for him. But that requires money.

The money thrown at this new powerful virus is hard to watch. 1-2 million for billboards for masks?

I’ve resigned to the fact that “because of Covid,” No one can really help. Especially when people are in constant chaos about the state of the world and the safety and future of themselves and their families. So I trudge through each day on a wing and a prayer. ?

Praying that “Because of Covid”, or AFTER covid, some miracle may happen to bring my son back to life.

Life before Covid.

Life before addiction.

I just hope that AFTER covid , it won’t be too late.

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NOT ᗰY ᑕᕼIᒪᗪ

For all those who see the purple banners during overdose awareness month or see the videos of people with substance abuse disorders passed out and you scroll on by thinking, “I’m sure glad that doesn’t affect me, I’m glad I taught my kids better” or “someone should have gotten them some help”.

I applaud you.

I truly do.

I am so glad that you have never had to watch your beautiful child turn into someone you didn’t know.

I’m so glad you’ve never had a call from the inmate phone system asking if you’ll accept the charges.

I’m soooo glad you’ve never had the experience of watching your 28-year-old, 240 lb son thrash around in the back seat sweating, then freezing, begging his own mother to please take him to get drugs to stop this sickness, as you’re trying to take him to rehab.

I’m sooo glad you’ve never had to see a dad in a restaurant with his kids & have your heart ache so deeply that your son isn’t with his kids, that you go out to your car and burst into tears.

I’m so glad you don’t have to sit down at a delicious meal & feel a twinge of guilt knowing your child hasn’t eaten for days & wondering where he even is.

I’m so glad you’ve never had to see your precious grandkids celebrate a birthday & not knowing the words to tell them that their dad has a progressive illness that teaches him lies that he doesn’t have to be a dad & that’s it’s NOT because they are not worthy of love.

The innocent victims of substance abuse disorder

I’m glad that you would never tell a dying lung cancer patient that they shouldn’t have started smoking, and they should just get over this pesky illness that’s inconvenienced everyone and just get a job!

I truly am.
Because I wouldn’t wish this nightmare on anyone.

I would never want anyone to lay awake at night, unable to stop the tears, wondering what they could have done differently.

I’m very glad you haven’t ever got THE CALL.

I’m very glad that you taught your kids to make better choices, & that you’ve never broken the speed limit or took a drink, or had something so traumatic in your life that you just needed to get through the pain for a minute… And if you did, luckily you were able to stop or walk away with any devastating effects.

Great genes, or coping skills!

What about helping teach those to others?

Obedience to all the laws and principles is great and admirable and yes it does make for a safer and all- be- it more productive life.(I mean who doesn’t want to be perfect) but not if it makes us look down on others who-for whatever reason didn’t go down that ←→ path.

This problem IS everyone’s problem.

Addiction affects every aspect of society, whether directly or indirectly. From the homeless to the prisons to the overwhelmed court system with possession charges taking up so much time. Stringing people through the system costs taxpayers almost $100 k per inmate.

I don't want one more parent to have to bury a child due to drugs or alcohol, but the only way that's going to happen is if we ALL take on this epidemic as our problem, & truly make an effort get rid of judgements and stigmas which bring MORE SHAME to all involved. 

Shame and embarrassment are keeping people from seeking treatment.

We need to create practical affordable solutions for all- while eliminating the waste & fraud in treatment.

Even if that means opening our mind up to alternative treatments such as Harm reduction.

The death rate is frightening and it IS AN EPIdemic as it affects the core of the family structure, jobs, crime, the jail system, and little kids who grow up with the stigma of a parent in jail or who has died.

If you don’t have any idea how to help, how about start with the words we use, such as junkie, tweaker & worthless. These are shaming and hurtful to the families & children of addicts. And don’t forgot, under that hardened core of a dysfunctional chaotic addict, is a person in pain with zero healthy coping skills. The least we can do is not to add to it.

Or what about not arguing about insulin needing to be free. Maintenance meds are not usually free to anyone, but AED paddles and Narcan to revive-not treat, are free to EMTS.

Other people in pain aren’t the enemy.

It’s going to take all hands on deck to help stop this nightmare, just like the virus grabbed everyone attention. This epidemic existed long before that and will continue after. Most of the typical solutions are not working anymore, and needs to be revamped with new attitudes and ideas. These ideas must start with compassion not disgust. Not sarcastic answers and opinions on why they started.

Please offer your compassion and time. Even if you don’t understand how it progresses to such a dysfunction of incarceration or homelessness, you can still give HOPE to a suffering addict or a kind word to the family of a person with a substance use disorder.

You can give that struggling person on the corner, a $5 McDonald’s card to let him know that -yes someone does give a damn- today…

Without HOPE, everyone suffers.