To The Daily Sun,
Addiction — been there, done that, got the T-shirt. Personal experience is an advantage but ...
Stand Up Laconia, is a good idea that to me translates into hope as well as unification. It also puts into perspective a serious and worsening problem that can't be exaggerated. People who have been directly or indirectly affected — and that means virtually all of us — by the ancient phenomenon of opiate addiction, are often very passionate about the havoc on the human spirit that it wreaks. Those who are in short- to medium-term recovery from this condition still feel the post trauma that manifests both personally and psychosocially. When a drug such as heroin is long gone from the system, mind and emotions must continue to readjust to a world of insecurity and intense guilt as the newly recovering addict evaluates the destruction in its wake.
Some clinical components of the modern addiction recovery treatment process are better off left to specialized clinicians who have put a lot into developing their skills. Quite often the most effective direct recovery support providers are those who come up from the hardship of addiction with gritty, up-close and personal experience as to how relentless and ruthless active heroin addiction can be. But if it were only those who have survived such addiction and have been in recovery long enough to provide that help, there wouldn't be enough soldiers to fight in the war. The casualty rate is high for those addicted to opiates. If a long-term recovering addict, particularly a heroin addict, can make it to the point where they can give recovery away in order to keep it, then they truly do have an edge. Empathy is powerful.
Yet if direct substance abuse treatment were to be delegated only to those few ... and unfortunately very few, who make it to the point where they are able to do just that, there would not nearly be enough to go around. The vast majority of active addicts and alcoholics die from their addiction if they don't seek treatment. They just eventually die. Recovery is not easy because addiction wants death and misery in the meantime. The person takes the drug. The drug takes the drug. Then the drug takes the person.
Point being that we need our devoted psychologists, physicians, nurses, psychiatrists, mental health therapists, street-wise direct service caseworkers and counselors, law enforcement professionals, task forces, clinics, drug courts, undercover police, school teachers, guidance counselors, post-trauma specialists, EPA programs, pharmaceutical companies who are willing to continue appropriate research, politicians, dedicated, well-meaning clergy of all religions and the list goes on.
We will be at a disadvantage against this recent upsurge of the darkest addiction of all, unless we work closely together and contribute whatever we can. Those who were at the Stand Up meeting are examples of diversity in cohesion who offer what they have toward a common cause. Opiate and opioid addiction have been part of the human condition for a very long time and as technology continues to advance in all areas, drug "providers" use every new method at hand to distribute their product.
Likewise, so should we as a community in tandem, use whatever appropriate means that is available to respond. Advancements in medicine and addiction potential, such as the hypodermic syringe in 1853 as well as the advent of milligram-packed oxycodone pills during the 1990s, have tremendous positive and negative potential. With fluent information and a focus on the common goal, we can utilize everything that is brought to the table by individuals who have specialized tools and weapons.
The best, and likely the only means by which we as a community can make a serious difference in terms of fighting the spread of opiate addiction, is with mutual support on all fronts. We all have something to offer. Those who have had personal experience and live to tell about it can humbly say, "Been there, done that," and I strongly prefer to never go there again. My T-Shirt says, "No more peanuts, monkey," but only on this day. Tomorrow will be, "Again one day."
Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr. once referred to opium addiction as a frightful endemic demoralization. To underestimate the horrific potential of this condition, which is hugely more widespread than 20 years ago, is to leave a convenient window of vulnerability for a disease that wants anyone who falls into its clutches, dead. There is no such thing as "recovered", only "recovering".
The "co-addict" recovering community are those immediate family members who have been through the torment of watching loved ones deteriorate as well as perhaps being victims of drug related-crime and the cost incurred.
These days generation Z — the late teens to 20s age group — has been left with far more daunting socioeconomic challenges than ever before in America. Low wages, rapidly rising education costs and an overall situation that all but completely eliminates any realistic concept of what once was the American dream, is what preceding generations leave them. The very least we can do is absolutely everything possible to hinder, minimize and discourage the threat of opiate drug addiction.
When a child or teenager crosses that invisible line from experimentation into opiate addiction, the majority of them at best will strive for the rest of their lives to stay clean and their sunshiny visions of successful futures are then permanently eclipsed, mitigated by a looming dark cloud that wants to stifle any shred of hope they may still have. That is an extra burden they should not have to bear.
A&D Recovery Counseling