Things Parents DON’T Want to Hear

I have been thinking about my posts, how bluntly open I am about my experiences/knowledge of drugs, and how quickly many adults can be immediately turned off knowing I smoked pot in high school. Well, parents, this is the rest of the story that you don’t understand.

It is no secret that 1960-1970 birth cohort has experienced their fair share of experimentation with drugs. Back then, no one knew the effects of these drugs. So many people were using drugs and smoking cigarettes that the thought of saying “no” hardly even came to mind. My parents were born in the early and late 60’s. To this day, I do not know the extent of their drug experimentations, and to be quite frank, I do not think I should ever know, being as I’m their daughter. I can assume that they joined in on illicit activities with friends, but it is something I will never know for a fact. We never talked about drug use in my home, never mentioned ‘cocaine’ or ‘crack’ or anything like that. The one time the word ‘pot’ was ever used in my home was when I was about 13-years-old and my brother 16-years-old.

My mom sat us down and said, “Are any kids in your grade smoking dope?” With a very, very confused face, I looked at her and said, “What does that mean?”

To me, ‘dope’ was a term used to describe a goofy, outlandish, strange person. (i.e. the “Grandpa is a dope!” notes I left scattered around my Grandparent’s home as a playful prank.) She then corrected herself with more ‘hip’ language and said, “Do kids at school ever smoke pot? Do you know how much a dime bag costs?”

Note to parents: Kids do not say ‘dime bag’ or ‘dope’ anymore. ‘Dope’ is now a term used to describe something awesome, cool, or ‘far out’ as some of you would call it. Also, a ‘dime bag’ is no longer a thing. I found out 2 weeks ago that dime bag means it costs $10, and not the amount of marijuana you receive is the size of a dime. I’m 21. 

At age 13, I did not know what a dime bag was, where to get marijuana, and no one I knew openly talked to me about smoking weed. My older brother was more shy in high school, and also looked at my mother like she was crazy and felt very uncomfortable during the entire conversation. It was very apparent that we had no knowledge of ‘dope.’ That was the end of drug conversations in my household. 


While writing these blog posts, my parents, as well as all of you strangers, found out for the first time that I had smoked pot in the past. I commented on the how uncomfortable it was telling my parents, and apologized in my post as well. In the same post, I mentioned seeing cocaine in college, and knowing several people who have done that and beyond.

Here’s the kicker, parents. Your kid has too.

You can be as naive as you would like and continue to tell yourself that whatever college your child attends “doesn’t have that problem,” your kid “would never associate with people who do stuff like that,” “he/she doesn’t go to parties where that stuff is present, they would leave.” Ok, let’s put it like this. Kids here at Iowa, snort cocaine in the library. Iowa State, same thing. “Well, he/she has never seen that before.” Ok, let’s move on to the party scene. You have to be 21 to be in a bar, which leave house parties, lots and lots of house parties. House parties do not have security roaming around, do not require an ID or really even an invitation, and do not have people regulating your drinks. House parties make a very great place for drugs. Surprise, surprise. I was at a house party in college when I first saw cocaine. I walked into the bathroom to find two girls with a $100 bill up their nose. I didn’t know them, they didn’t know me, and I have never seen them since. Welcome to college, parents. Your kid has seen drugs. 


 

My major is criminology, so I would say I’m pretty well-versed in the topic of drugs. However, many students are well-curious in the topic of drugs, due to lack of knowledge. The way kids describe drugs, it sounds like a great time. “Take these caps, your body feels so good, and you will have so much fun, just laugh all the time, and hug everybody!” Who wouldn’t want to do that, right? Oh, but you are going to be pounding water like a fish. Oh wait, and don’t drink too much water, a bunch of kids keep over-hydrating themselves causing their brain to swell, and now they’re dead. But you’ll feel so great!!!

Pause.

I had no clue what the difference between ‘molly’ and ‘ecstasy’ was prior to coming to college. You could show me two pills, one ibuprofen and one ecstasy, and to this day I won’t be able to tell you which one is which. (pictures of drugs are VERY outdated in my textbooks.) Freshman year, I didn’t know girls who were going to the bathroom together, were actually doing lines together. I would have no clue that my friend’s random roommate was stashing blow in her desk drawer. I didn’t know how much a gram cost, or that the group of kids behind me just did a drug deal under the table.

But parents, you do know these things. You know the differences between these drugs, things to look out for, behaviors that are correlated with different drugs. You know what deadly additives can be in cocaine. The bad side effects of a ‘bad trip.’ These are all things your kid doesn’t know and needs to know. How is it that you can sit your kid down, tell them how babies are made and not to have sex, at age 13 when she first gets her period, but you can’t sit your 15-year-old kid down and explain to him the dangerous opportunities every single one of us has experienced? Isn’t that less traumatic; warning your kid about something that they may never even come in contact with, opposed to handing over condoms and praying they don’t use them until after age 30?


 

I have a very close relationship with my little brother, and am very open with him about how persuasive someone can be when describing drugs, but how dangerous they really are. He knows he can ask me anything about drugs, dangers, etc, and I am more than willing to explain it to him. I will get down to the very last, nitty-gritty detail of what I know about drugs, in an effort to completely diminish his curiosity (and to traumatize him with the idea that simply looking at drugs causes immediate death). Tell your kids whatever it is you think will scare them away from using drugs, ever. I believed that a Christmas elf was writing me letters during his break from making toys until I was 11-years-old, because my parents told me they also had elves visit them when they were kids, so obviously our family was just extra special. Your kid is going to believe whatever it is you have to say, as long as you make it sound legitimate. When other kids say, “No man, that’s not true.” Your child is still going to have that little voice in the back of their head reminding them of their Mom’s friend that overdosed on MDMA her first time and died at age 15. Trust me, disappointing your parent is 100 times worse than being the lame kid at the party. The guilt your child will feel knowing how disappointed you would be if you knew they did Molly will eat away at them enough that they won’t do it again.

Drugs are far too available, unpredictable, and intriguing for you to still think your kid is immune. The least you could do is have a conversation with your child, even if you know for a fact they aren’t using drugs, maybe they know someone who is very curious about drugs and don’t know what to do. The best thing you can do for your child is to be open to their curiosity. Let them ask you questions, otherwise they are going to ask friends’ questions… Next thing you know, they have the pill in their hand.

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Thoughts on Narcan?

Keep an open mind, suppress your stereotypes for a moment, and watch this short documentary.

Combatting America’s Opioid Crisis: Heroin’s Antidote 

Think about what the officer said again.

“Some people say Narcan is just a bandaid affect, but in order to heal a wound… You have to put a bandaid on it, to keep it concealed & so that it heals properly.”

Now, what do you think?

Stories of Reality

This semester I’m taking a creative writing class. We are supposed to be writing ‘short stories’ that we will be turning in at the end of the semester. However, I don’t want to write short stories. I don’t want to make stuff up in order to have an affect on people. I want to tell people the harsh reality of life, the way things really are, and how easy all of your lives are compared to the man sitting next to you, and the woman next to him, so on and so forth.

Our assignment today was to read a short story titled Going to Meet the Man by James Baldwin. It is a good read, but requires that you have a very strong stomach and a mind open to acceptance. During our conversation about the story, my professor read off some of his favorite quotes. One of them being something about if your writing doesn’t offend someone, than there really is no point to your work, it is more important to have someone absolutely hate your writing, than for them to just put it on the shelf and never remember it. He also mentioned that some of the best works come from authors that talk about the one topic that no one wants to hear about, talk about, or even know about- just as Going to Meet the Man had done. When I was talking about my feelings on the story I had just mentioned how much I felt that the best part of the story was the fact that he was so openly speaking of such a harsh, hidden topic. As soon as the words came out of my mouth, this blog and the responses I have got from people jumped into my head.


 

I have had people thanking me for writing, appreciative for giving others a different outlook on addicts, and just thanking me for the information they otherwise wouldn’t have known. The information on my blog isn’t new information, I didn’t find these statistics or feelings or create any of this. Everything I am writing are things that have been felt by several other people, statistics that were found by someone else– I am simply putting the information out there since no one else has. If I hadn’t lost Anna, I wouldn’t have learned this statistics. I wouldn’t be able to share this information if my best friend didn’t die. Heroin use was nothing I ever wanted to talk about, know about, and a death by overdose was absolutely something I never wanted to experience in my life. It is not something I would ever wish for any other person to experience in their life, however, it is absolutely something I love writing about. I love writing about it, in hopes that none of you do have to experience it in your life. In hopes that you will all see that pain, hurt, and disaster that is created from this monster. If you can stop one person in your life, if you can give one person any sort of information on how to help their loved one- I have succeeded. Although my posts are kind of all over the place- sad here, happy here, REALLY sad there- all in all, I hope you all can find something to share with another person, one thing that will help one person.


 

I have had a couple people message me with their personal thoughts on my writing (which I love hearing!! hint, hint), but the messages I have received are amazing. One of the first messages I received, an old high school classmate shared her experience with alcohol and pain killer addiction. First of all,  I can only imagine the amount of strength it takes from someone suffering from an addiction to share that with someone who she was never super close with, so I was already impressed. She continued to share her story, and by the end I read, “So thank you for talking about it, and telling people what it’s like. My family won’t even talk to me anymore because of it.” I couldn’t believe it. She just told me some of her most intimate thoughts, and then thanked me?! To me, hearing her story and how she related to my posts was plenty enough. That is all I ever wanted from this, was to effect one person and to help them in their recovery, overcoming their addiction, anything. I just wanted one person to listen.

So you can imagine my reaction when I then received another message from another high school classmate. This time, she thanked me for being friends with Bryant. Thanked me for being friends with Bry, and thanked me for talking about how amazing he was and just telling his story. The next sentence I read, “I don’t know where I would be without that eye opener, so I probably owe him (and you) my life.” Wow. I had to read the message about four times before I could actually process what I was reading, and afterwards, I had no words. I could not believe it. “I probably owe Bryant my lifeMY LIFE.” Bryant is gone and he is still here. He saved this persons life. I can’t stop repeating it in my head. I can’t tell you the happiness, the sadness, the joy, and just the overall overwhelming feeling I got from reading that message. I could not have been more proud to be his friend in my life.

Both of these messages I received were things no one wants to talk openly about, most people don’t want to hear about, and the person on the other side absolutely does not (but needs to) speak about. They are very personal, very real, and very hard to tell another person. That’s what makes it so important. That’s why we need to share these things. That’s what makes each and every one of us so important- the stuff that we don’t want to tell people, is the stuff we need to tell people. I never would have thought of myself as ‘a writer.’ I remember in high school, my parents would always get so frustrated that I had a better grade in German than I did in English! “You speak english! How does that happen?!” It was because I hated to read and write! So I have no idea how this blog comes out, I just know that it is important for other to hear it. This is my reality. This is happening. This happened to me. Everyone needs to know, just as much as you need to share your story. You never know who will be effected.

Warning: Here come tears

I keep photos of my friends I have lost on my bedroom wall. Some people think it’s morbid, but for me- it’s so I know I will never forget. Never forget their smiles, their laughs, their faces, I can trace every inch of them and know that I have life here left to live for my friends who do not.

The past can hurt. But the way I see it, you can either run from it or learn from it. -Lion King

I recently added this quote to my wall, right next to the faces of my friends that have passed away. I do believe there is a lot of truth in the quote. I do believe that you can let the past hurt you forever or you can learn to cope and grieve and better yourself.

I was laying here, looking at the quote, staring at Anna’s pretty smile, and in my head I kept repeating, “Anna’s dead. Anna’s dead. Anna’s dead. She’s dead. No more Anna. She’s not coming. Anna’s dead.” I can’t put these words together and have it make logical sense. Anna’s dead. It doesn’t even sound right. It’s been six months. Anna has been dead for six months. No, she can not be dead. Nothing inside me can fully accept the fact that she’s gone. I keep looking at her pretty smiling face, hearing her laugh, listening to her childish jokes, and the squeak in her voice when she would call me babe- none of it implies that she could ever be dead. What my head isn’t telling me, is that all of those things are only in my head, they aren’t in front of me anymore. They are no longer things I can share with the world. I can’t call Anna and hear those things, they’re only in my head. They will stay in my head forever.

I keep trying to picture her laying in the casket, and the casket driving away with my best friend’s body inside, but it still will not click. My head still can not accept it. She can’t have left me here. A young, beautiful girl like Anna can not be dead. She isn’t. She is my best friend and I can’t not have her.

I look at Anna, Bryant, Brandon- it can’t be real. They are all such young, attractive people. There is no way they are gone. To this day it is still hard for me to believe Bry is really gone. I had watched the video of his car in flames thirty times, and it still is not real. I listened to the most heart breaking speeches of my life dedicated to Bryant, and he still can’t be gone. I stared at Brandon in his casket, and it still doesn’t seem real.

When someone close to you passes away, it almost makes you crazy. You can’t even fathom life without them, and in your head it is very hard to live a life without them. There is not a second of the day that goes by when I don’t think of Anna. Every stupid thing I do, I can hear myself saying, “Anna would say this.. Anna would do that… I should call Anna and tell her.”

Some people say this feeling goes away. That one day, you stop thinking those things and you finally accept it, but I really don’t know if I could. I don’t know if I can accept life without Anna’s laugh. I hear that she is dead, and it’s just not real to me. Emotionally, I don’t think she could ever be gone. There are days it hurts, it rips me apart to know I can’t call her or hug her or listen to her. But other days, it’s almost like a warmth, the happiness that I still have her inside me, that I can still hear her voice. I play it over and over in my head, so I never forget it. I never want to forget it. I will never forget her. She will never be gone. She will never be dead. As long as I have her inside me.

Ignorance

Every day I am more and more amazed by our society and their complete lack of respect for themselves, and especially for others around them. Ignorance and disrespect is nothing new to our society, and it has been happening for many years. With all of the changes we have implemented, trying desperately to make ourselves into a whole, equal society- how come we never seem to find respect for each other?

During the time of slavery and discrimination, people obviously had no respect for each other. What’s worse, they had no logical reasoning behind their actions. Simply ‘because he/she is black,’ was a fair enough reason to spit on somebody as they walked by. How? What makes their inside any different than your inside? Nothing. MLK Jr. made that point, and proved to the world that we are all exactly the same. When my mother was younger, (after MLK Jr. had changed the idea of discrimination) as a mixed baby being raised by two white parents, others would continue to say disrespectful comments to her parents. In the seventies, my grandparents were walking through the grocery store with my mother in the cart. Another person had the nerve to ask, “What are you doing with a nigger in your cart?” They were speaking of a four-year-old baby. Can you imagine? How can you disrespect such an innocent soul, at such a young age.

We all wish to think that disrespect in these ways cease to exist in today’s society. Homosexual couples are now allow to be married, our president is black, so clearly the world has changed! People hardly even see color any more, and if they do- it’s typically to compliment someone on their beautiful skin tone.

If only that were true. If it isn’t one type of discrimination it’s another. If someone is rude to us at the store we automatically assume that are a huge b**** and they deserve whatever horrible karma comes their way- but what if they just lost their job? Lost their house? Is trying to leave an abusive relationship? You have no idea what is happening in their life. You have no reason to shun them for one rude action. What if you respond to their action by saying, “I hope you have a better day.” And that person bursts into tears because you are the first person in their life to care for them.

The discrimination that now hurts me the most in today’s society is the way people view addicts and recovering addicts. Many of you know that Des Moines has suffered multiple heroin overdose deaths since Anna died, and most recently was a young man from Roosevelt High School. The story was on the local news, and Anna/Anna’s Warriors was mentioned in the story. The stiry is absolutely horrendous and so wrong it makes me sick- but that is for another post. The part that really got to me was the online comments being made about the story on the KCCI website.

I quote, “Look at the bright side: with every overdose death there’s one less addict.”

How can you, as another person living in the dark world we live in, honestly think that way? What makes your live more valuable than the one who accidentally died? What are YOU doing with YOUR life that gives you the right to find the death of another person has a ‘bright side?’ It is mind boggling to me that people actually think this way of another human. Especially when they are saying it about my best friend. We are all people. People are people. We are not defined by the choices we have made, and no one should be judged by the mistakes they have made. Half of the people living on the streets, half of the people using drugs, they all have a bigger heart and more love than most of you reading this- because they are living in the worst hell they could ever imagine. Many of them are in this hell because they are masking such intense emotions. They would never wish that upon anyone else, and because of that- their love for others is amazing. They know they have made wrong choices, they are not proud of their drug use, but they are proud of each and every one of you who have never used drugs and most of them would give anything to be sure that you never do use drugs. So please- think about what you’re saying, think about how you’re comparing and judging people, think outside the box about who they could have been before and after using drugs or becoming an addict. The one who died of cocaine overdose because he was in med-school up studying all night on cocaine- could have cured cancer. Yes they made a wrong choice, but that doesn’t mean their life is not worth living.

Think about it. Think about who you are and how you look at those around you.

And never judge someone by their actions again.

Point Proven.

I had to share with you a real life example of why the world needs Anna’s Warriors, Anna’s story, and a complete attitude change.

I work two jobs in order to pay for school, rent, and life in general. One of them is a receptionist at a hair salon, and the other is working at one of the better known bars in my college town as a bartender. Part of doing your job well, (without a required uniform) is adjusting yourself so that you ‘fit’ the position you hold. When I go to the salon, I wear conservative clothes, jewelry, cover my tattoos, fresh make up, hair done, and I’m prepared to interact with clients from age two to ninety-two. When I work at the bar, I change into a whole different mold. If I were to show up to the bar the same way I show up to the salon- students would either make fun of me for looking like an old woman, not order anything but water from me for fear that I had no idea what I was doing, or.. my boss would probably just fire me for losing more money than selling. If I were to show up to the salon the same way I show up to the bar, I’m pretty sure Ethel would have a heart attack on sight. Therefore, when I go to the bar, I wear more college-friendly clothes. Dresses (with shorts on underneath because I’m too much of a tomboy to trust myself without), short shorts (not too short, but you understand), crop tops, etc. I have no worries about showing my tattoos, and usually end up getting complimented on my ink. Because I am constantly flipping bottles, scooping ice, running back and forth, grabbing, stacking, and shaking things around with 180 students screaming, sweating out their alcohol consumption, and giving off more body heat than usual- it gets really hot behind the bar, so I always try to wear outfits that are going to keep me as cool as possible in fear of customers running from me because of my sweaty armpit B.O. (hot, I know). One tip for future bar employees: definitely NO full length pants, NO long sleeves, and as much as you hate them- crop tops and high waisted shorts ARE your friend. I cringe just thinking about my first shift while wearing jeans and a cute t-shirt (luckily it was black, so you couldn’t see the pit stains that reached to my waistline). Ugh.

 

The other night I was waiting for the bar to get busy and I could start working my shift. I usually sit at the bar, so I can still chat with other coworkers and friends around me. I was sitting alone at the time and an old friend walked in and sat next to me with his buddies. We were chatting and eventually he introduced me to one of the friends (we’ll call him Henry). Henry and I were chatting about school, where we are from, just normal, small talk things. He grew up in Texas, but his parents now live in Singapore due to a job transfer, because of this he told me about his envy of me for growing up so close to our college town that many of my childhood friends are still nearby. I chuckled a bit, and he said, “Well I mean, just like you could have childhood friends, I moved a lot so I never really got to have any, but yeah.” I’m assuming he thought I was a huge loser who actually didn’t have friends growing up, but I smiled again and said, “Yeah, I do. A few of my friends study here as well so it’s pretty cool to have people I know so well around, but unfortunately, I’ve had to bury a few of the others. I know they are still with me in spirit though.” His face just froze while he brainstormed an appropriate response. He apologized for my loss, and asked what had happened. I told him my best friend died of a heroin overdose in April, and I’ve had a couple other friends die of suicide. He apologized again, and told me about how he had to watch his father die of cancer when he was 19, so he knows what it’s like to lose someone so close.

As we kept talking, I told him it definitely is a very hard thing to go through, and that I was in a terrible place after Anna’s death. I then explained how I have finally come to find that I can do something good from her death, and I am now interested in DEA or drug rehabilitation counseling, since my degrees are in Criminology and Psychology.

He looked at me, laughed, and said, “You’re wearing a snap-back hat backwards, you have tattoos, you’re wearing that, you work in a bar and you want to be DEA? Ha! How does that work?”

With a little attitude, I promptly and conceitedly replied “Ask me how many times I’ve gone out drinking in the past 8 months. Then ask me how many drugs I’ve done in my life.”

Henry pondered for a bit, “Li- wait, you’re going to say 0 aren’t you?”

“Yep. I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve been out drinking, I just don’t think it’s very fun anymore. I smoked weed before (sorry Grandma, Mom, and Dad & Elisa), but I don’t like it because I have a very controlling personality and it just wasn’t fun. That’s the only drug I’ve ever done. And my best friend since I was nine still managed to overdose on Heroin. Didn’t expect that did ya?”

Henry was shocked. “Wow,” he said, “I just completely judged you so differently and wrong. I thought you were like a typical college party girl who gets smashed like every night.”

Nope! I’m very far from it. I personally don’t understand the fun in spending an hour to get ready just to go sit in an extremely loud, crowded, dark place where you can’t hear each other, and having people not even look at my hair or face that I just spent an hour beautifying, but instead everywhere below that I haven’t spent twenty minutes on in the past month. That just really does not sound like my idea of a good time, personally.

After I had explained all of this to him, I began to giggle saying, “You know, it’s funny. I had written a blog about this same exact thing a bit ago. Anna’s family started a non-profit for this exact reason. People don’t know about heroin, don’t know who is doing heroin, and judge people by their outer appearance- often being so far from the truth. You just proved to me exactly why I am doing this, to educate people and show them the way their society really does judge people instead of love and listen to people. I told you Anna is with me all the time!”

The Recovering Addict

After getting to spend the last couple weekends home, it’s amazing how much I have learned.. about everything! We were so lucky that Anna’s best friends from Nevada were able to come visit and stay with Carla, and I was able to spend a lot of my time over there catching up with the girls.

We had our share of ups and downs during the trip, but I soon learned it was all part of Anna’s plan. Nancy and Kathryn have been such a help in explaining to me how the mind of an addict and addict in recovery works. They have allowed me to ask nosey questions in order to pick their brains as an attempt to understand. They explained the details of addiction in a ‘dumbed’ down version, so that my (very innocent to addiction) self could better understand what they meant. Everything, good and bad, that happens now seems to always relate back to something Anna said before or some scheme she’s up to in heaven. I, personally, over the last couple weeks have learned a very hands on approach to what addictive behaviors look like. How the behaviors and mind of an addict are truly warped from this world and so far out of their control. After explaining all of the occurrences to Carla, she said to me, “Can you imagine Anna being that way?” That’s when I knew that Anna was trying to show me what it was like for her and how hard she struggled without any control over what she was doing, so that I can share that with you and help you to also understand what goes on.

Not every addict is exactly the same- some steal, some don’t. some manipulate with tears, some manipulate with pity, some feed off the people that love them most, some feed off of the helpful people who don’t know them at all, some are incredibly mean, some overly nice in order to receive care and affection, some push their families and friends away, some keep them close and use them as a crutch. Now matter the form in which the behaviors are being done, they are still doing them one way or another.

For me to really see it hands on was quite the experience! I fell into the trap as quickly as I’m sure most parents and close friends would. When I saw the way people that had previously dealt with addicts could spot these behaviors, their reactions to the behaviors, and observations the could make almost instantly- I was amazed! Even just saying something a different way, would change the behavior of the addict. If I were to say, “Don’t worry, I can lend you $5 for toothpaste and a soda.” The response would be, “Well, I actually need $10 because I really want to stop and get McDonald’s too.” But when someone can spot the behaviors of an addict, their response is, “Let’s go get you what you need, and nothing more. No you’re not going in alone I’m going with you.” and suddenly, that was the end of it. No more manipulation to suck more out of someone. When an addict says, “I’m going to a meeting now.” You can’t just hand them the keys and off they go. The correct behavior is for you to drop them off, walk them in, and pick them up afterwards. (Or have your sneaky friends with connections check up on who is attending the meeting that day.) Many parents have no idea how to respond to the behaviors of an addict. Even when their child is clean for days, weeks, months- the behaviors still tend to come out on occasion. As a friend, I would have no idea how to deal with the behaviors. That is a scary thought to know that we are allowing them to continue these behaviors without making a change, simply because we don’t know how to respond. We don’t want our child/friend to think that we don’t love them, don’t trust them even though they did make such a big life change, or that we don’t want to help them now that they’ve been sober. So what do we do?? When it seems like they are suffering so badly, do we just let them suffer? No, you get them proper help and care. Take them to a professional who knows what they are doing.  Unfortunately, many financial means do not allow for everyone to get immediate, professional care. There are resources to help for free! Check out this link for a list of centers around you.

Addiction is truly, truly not something that one can control on their own. Most of the time, the addict doesn’t even realize what they’re doing until someone snaps them out of it. They don’t catch onto their behaviors because everyone is feeding into them and not telling them they are wrong. We don’t want to cause any pain to our loved one, or send them into a place where they are contemplating relapse, so instead we just go along with the behaviors and allow them to treat us poorly. That is not the right thing to do. People who have friends that are addicts or family members that are addicts should have a class or resource for online lessons that will teach them how to cope and behavior with recovering addicts in the home (another one of my personal issues with addiction facilities and treatment centers). Right now, we are sending the addict home from rehab, family thinking they are perfectly healed and can go about business as usual, but that is not the case. The need boundaries. In rehab, they have a set time to wake up, a set time for lunch, group meetings at certain times- a very strict schedule. In order for the recovery process to continue working so well, these things need to continue to be implemented when they leave the center. Giving them a free schedule with plenty of free time allows the addict to pick up old behaviors and friends almost immediately. The recovering addict also cannot be stuck in a little box while trying to figure out how to live life while being clean. It can lead to depression, causing another psychological issue that needs to be treated, and again leading to a relapse.

Living with an addict very closely resembles living with a handicap that can function alone, but needs to be monitored for the half of the day. It is not an easy task. I applaud any family that is willing to take their child back in and give them the help and stability they need because it is not easy for them to do. I can imagine it would be very frustrating having to babysit your thirty-year-old son the same way you did when he was thirteen- but it has to be done for a least the first few months post inpatient rehab. They need to get back on their feet, meet new people that aren’t triggers, and create a schedule for themselves that includes commitments they simply cannot miss (i.e. a close knit AA group that counts on their arrival, exercising with their sponsor who picks them up from home, a concrete work schedule, volunteering in places they enjoy and want to be, etc.) Anything to keep them busy and on track, without suffocating them completely from normal life. I can imagine it would be hard as the addict to do come home and have to do all of these things that they are not accustomed to, and I’m sure they often fight back- causing more stress and tension between family members, but it is so necessary. It’s not as easy as it seems, and people don’t understand the stress and difficulty behind it for the friends and family involved. Families and friends need to be educated on these things; only educating the addict and putting them right back into their trigger city is not going to keep them clean forever- some people, yes, but many young people need more motivation and supervision than only relying on themselves.

Humor me, please.

I have a riddle for you all, and a lot of my personal thoughts and research to back it.

If you have ever had surgery, you know that you are prescribed two to four weeks of pain medication to help ease the pain. If you need more, it’s not too entirely difficult to get it. I mean, the doctor doesn’t know what you’re feeling, so if you say you hurt- here’s another month of pills for ya, buddy!

Almost everyone says, it’s up to the patient to decide how much meds they need, when to stop, and when the pain is unbearable. What people don’t understand is that, just like heroin, pain pills and all other opioids are a disease of the brain. Taking opioids repeatedly for an extended period of time changes the structure and the biochemistry of the brain. Many people, including myself, follow the doctors orders to a T. They are the professional, so I should trust them, right? When they prescribe me a months worth of pain killers and tell me to take one or daily as needed, and to come back if I run out or the pain is unbearable, I am going to do just that. Following the doctors order in this way, can change my the biochemistry of brain to then think that my pain is still there, even when it is not- just because of the addiction that has started in my brain and my need for the medication in order to function.

So, why is it that the doctor continues to prescribe us such a large dose of pain pills, knowing the chance for addiction is so high and that the rate of opioid abuse in the United States has sky rocketed year after year? How is it that when one doctor prescribes you medication and you run out, your are able to go to another doctor with the excuse of, “I’m still having pain here from this incident, I ran out of pills. Can I have more?” and there ya go, a brand new script for your addict brain! How do we not have enough technology to fix these issues? Why do doctors continue to create more addictions that we don’t need?

How many of you have heard about TakeAway: Iowa? My guess is very few. I didn’t even know about TakeAway. You probably still have no idea what I’m talking about! TakeAway is a twice a year, nation-wide event started by the DEA and put on in Iowa by the Iowa Pharmacy Association as a way for citizens to safely dispose of prescription drugs that are either old or left over, in order to create safer households and less addictions. (Learn more about TakeAway: Iowa) A large majority of teens that begin using prescription drugs, stared that they had originally found the pills in their home medicine cabinets or from a friend who had easy access to the medications. Even worse, many kids who start by using prescription pills, turn to heroin because of the ‘better’ high and one-eight the price. Almost everyone I know, that had been addicted to heroin, all started by using prescription pills. There have been 7 days of the nation-wide take back event put on by the DEA in the past four years. In these seven days, over the past four years, a total of 780,158 pounds or 390 tons of old or expired prescription pills were returned. Many people had no idea how to dispose of old medications, and would result to either flushing them (contaminating the water) or throwing them away (potentially handing them out to rubbage searchers). As soon as someone searching through trash finds the address, name, and type of medication prescribed- it makes that house a very easy target for robbery and theft. Many people don’t realize how dangerous prescription pills are. On the streets, a single oxy pill sells for $20. If you don’t use all of your pills and just throw them away- you just gave a dealer $200 and helped cause a death by overdose. See more prices of drugs on the streets.

No one is thinking about the consequences of their very mild actions. I mean, who in their right mind goes digging through trash for old pills? A LOT OF PEOPLE. That is some of the quickest and easiest money for people to come by. With the increase in opioid and prescription pill addictions we are facing today, it’s time for us to open our minds and think about things in a different light. You can help stop all of this, you can make a difference. You can help save a life, even by the smallest steps.

You can start today.

Find a safe place to dispose of your medications HERE.

Weed is a gateway drug

K, No.

Weed is not a gateway drug.

The perception of weed is that you will then want a stronger, different high, but that really is not technically the case. What IS the gateway, is the PEOPLE you meet while smoking bud, buying it, etc. Just because you smoke marijuana, your brain isn’t going to magically crave meth.

Often times, people that are smoking weed typically aren’t growing their own little batch of pot in the basement, keeping it to themselves, and lighting up in their bedroom every once in awhile. They have to meet people who are selling pot, usually go over to the dealer’s house to pick up the pot, meet whoever is hanging out at the dealer’s house, maybe stay to hangout and smoke a bowl with them, then go home to light up before bed. Teens especially have a hard time finding a place where they can smoke it without a.) getting caught by Mom and Dad or b.) get pulled over after hot boxing. They don’t have a home of their own, and very few parents are okay with their child leaving the house reeking of marijuana. This calls for some brainstorming on the child’s part. Some parents are okay with their child smoking in the home (most commonly because they feel the child will do it no matter what- if the child is doing it at home, they aren’t driving, risking trouble with the law, etc.), and kids know which parents these are. The child whose parent doesn’t allow them to smoke at home, Stevie, will then go over to Billy’s house, where smoking pot is allowed, and have a two hour smoking session with Billy and his friends. Little Stevie is going over to Billy’s house every day after school to smoke a bowl with his new found friends. One day, after being the first to spark the bowl Stevie notices the weed tasted a little different, and his high is extremely intense for a good ten minutes. Everyone is watching Stevie, asking him what it feels like and joking with each other. What Stevie didn’t know, is that Billy’s friend had topped the bowl off with some salvia. Stevie had heard of salvia, but didn’t really know what it was. It was fun though, and he continues to smoke salvia every once in awhile after that. Eventually, Billy is caught and is no longer dealing. Luckily, Billy gives Stevie the number for his old friend Ricky who also deals. Stevie hits up Ricky, goes over to his house, but Ricky had just run out of pot. Ricky is high on oxy, and tells Stevie how great it feels, everyone has been talking about oxy- it’s the new thing to do around school, and Ricky has some extra that Billy can try instead of buying pot. Billy now has to make the choice, as a young teen in front of someone he just met, of whether or not to be ‘cool’ and buy the pills instead or just say no and tell Ricky to let him know when he restocks.

That is the gateway. The fact that people are going into sketchy situations in order to get the pot. I don’t want to get into politics, but I do wonder if legalizing marijuana would help to reduce the introduction to other, stronger drugs. If someone just has to walk into the store and buy pot, knowing what exactly they are buying, in a public place- would it reduce the chance of them being peer pressured into anything other than weed? Would is decrease the chance for them to try any drug other than pot? They wouldn’t have to go hide out at Billy’s with his sketchy friends. He could buy the pot, go home, and smoke alone because it is legalized. There wouldn’t be a need to sneak around with scurvy, untrustworthy people. OR would it reduce the number of kids smoking pot all together? Just like alcohol– going out and getting drunk just isn’t as fun once you finally hit 21. At the point, you no longer have the rush of doing something wrong and taking risks. At the same time, could it also lead kids into doing stronger drugs because it is legalized? If pot isn’t fun anymore because it’s legal, are they going to find another drug that isn’t legal and do that in order to get the same rush of breaking rules and taking risks?

Rehab

I have a very strong opinion about our current rehabilitation centers around the country, and most people probably won’t like it.

The fact is,hate our current drug rehabilitation facilities. HATE.

I will gladly tell you why.

First of all, google “heroin rehab,” and the first 10 things that pop up are different rehab facilities. I clicked on every single page, and not one single page tells you the cost up front. Instead, they tell you to ‘contact us right away for help!’ Well, once you contact them they make it sound like this is your only option, you have to do this, and there is no better place for you to go. Not only to have to go to this rehab facility, but you have to go to this facility- on the other side of the country. They claim it’s best for you to get out of the current state you are living in, and completely uproot somewhere else without having any of the people you have left to support you around. What they don’t tell you is that some of the cheapest, low-end facilities still cost $7,500 PER MONTH all the way up to high-end places charging $120,000 per month. The average ‘good’ but not great facility costs about $18,000 to $35,000 a month. The average rehab facilities include amenities such as a room for detoxing, a calm environment, medical services, parks, a gym, counseling services, and many other helpful tools. According to rehabs.com, they way an addict should pay for these services is as follows:

  • Get loans from friends or family: Yeah because someone who is addicted to heroin and seeking help for themselves by searching online is going to have PLENTY of friends and family left. Heroin addiction, and all addictions, drive loved ones away from the person. How could you just sit and watch your child, friend, brother do that to themselves? No matter how badly you want to help them, you can not help them until they want help. Heroin addicts are typically great liars as well. When they ask you for $7,500 a month for rehab- chances are you probably don’t believe them considering they called you 6 months ago asking for an extra $200 to help pay for the rehab costs… when they were never in rehab. Not only that– who the hell has $7,500 laying around!? It’s a freaking recession!!! Great idea, rehabs.com.
  • Rehab Program Financing: Supposedly many rehab facilities offer financing options for the addict to pay back costs once they are out of rehab in a timely fashion. This would be a good idea, except for the fact that someone just walking out of a rehab addiction facility (most likely still living in a sober home- since they have no money for rent) is probably going to have a pretty hard job finding a new job, that pays well enough for them to pay back the $22,500 that they owe for 3 months in the cheapest treatment they could find. Since they are more than likely in a sober home, it’s pretty easy for an employer to look at the address and see that it is a sober home, and because this world has no hope for people and no sympathy for addicts- there goes their chance at getting a decent job. If you can’t get a job to pay for the financing option- rehabs.com suggests for the addict to take out a bank loan or a credit card with a low interest rate. Because plenty of heroin addicts can walk into a bank, without being judged, and take out a $10,000 loan. The bank teller will probably allow that. It’s also really easy to open up a credit card that has a low interest rate without having any past credit at all. Wait- NO IT’S NOT. Again, great idea rehabs.com.
  • Savings: They want the addict to dump out their entire savings account into paying for rehab. The website literally says, “…you may be concerned about having nothing left over after you finish treatment. If your treatment is successful, you will have made one of the best financial decisions of your life.” Okay- great it’s successful and they have their life back… BUT THEY STILL HAVE NOTHING AND ARE NOW ON ROCK BOTTOM AGAIN! How do you expect them to stop living on the streets when they don’t have any money left to get them off the streets? You’re dumb, rehabs.com
  • Sell Assets: I quote from the website “If you have any assets like a car or a boat, you may want to consider selling some of these… this may be less than ideal because they have a personal attachment to their belongings.” Do you really think a heroin addict owns a boat? Seriously? Don’t you think they probably would have been forced to sell all of these things in the midst of their addiction to pay for food, shelter, etc? It is very unlikely for someone with a heroin addiction to get help within the first month of their addiction. Usually, they don’t even realize they have an addiction until it gets too far. That’s why it is called an addiction… because they can’t stop. They. Are. Addicted. If they could stop they would. Once again, another intelligent idea from rehabs.com.
  • Insurance/Medicaid: I am twenty years old, enrolled in college and I still have to pay $130 a month for my health insurance. I was on medicaid for 4 years, but they decided I make $36 too much per month for me to be on medicaid anymore. Applying for medicaid requires a computer, internet, a lot of annoying questions, and then a long 2 week waiting process. Then you get a phone call, are asked to mail in pay stubs for the past 2 weeks. They look over your information, and 2 weeks later decide how much coverage you are allowed to receive. In the meantime, the addict waiting for their medicaid request be approve has had 4 more weeks to overdose and die- when all they wanted was help. Many kids on their parents insurance plans must be either living in the home or be enrolled in school in order for your child to get your coverage until age 25. Well, what about the addicts who are over the age of 25 and can’t keep a job because of their addiction? The addicts that are scared to apply for insurance online for fear of not being able to pay and then later being fined when their insurance is cancelled, thanks to Obama’s great health care plan- more people are just being scared away from even trying to get health insurance. I didn’t have health insurance from ages 13-18 because it was too expensive for me to pay for. Thank God I wasn’t a heroin addict because I would have been screwed. So yes, if you have insurance there is a CHANCE they will partially cover your rehab, but if you don’t… go sell your boat.

Why should an addict have to pay thousands of dollars when they are already in the worst place of their lives? Don’t you think they have suffered enough? They want the help, they want to get rid of the monster that has ruined them, they want to be normal again, so why are we forcing them into a deeper hell by taking away the one thing they need in this world to survive once they are clean-money. Why are we making it so hard for them to get clean?

Everyone sits around bagging on drug addicts for being stupid people for making that choice, worthless people who can’t do anything for us in the world anyway, psychos for being able to stick that needle in their arm… My best friend was not stupid, she was not worthless, and she was not a psycho. She was working towards a degree in event planning, which she would have been AMAZING at. She could have given you the best wedding of your life, and would have done anything for you to make it that way. She taught me more than I could ever thank her for in life. She might have been hyper, but she was not a psycho. She deserved help. She deserved for someone at the rehab facility for care for her as much as she cared for everyone else. She deserved for someone to put her before themselves, and do whatever they could to make sure that little angel got what she so badly wanted- to be clean.

Instead, the great rehab facility was too under-staffed and decided to allow a woman, who had been detoxing for less than 48 hours, to be in the same, unsupervised room as my best friend, and allowed this woman’s addiction to get in my best friend’s 30-day clean brain and kill her. This rehab facility killed my best friend. It was the rehabs job to keep the detoxing individuals, who’s brains are racing and will do anything to get the drug, away from clean individuals who have already begun to reconstruct their brains. A detoxing individual knows exactly what to say to light up that old pathway in an addicts brain and get them to crave the drug just as bad as they are. That is why my best friend died, because these rehab centers are sucking families dry of their money and still not having enough staff to keep these people safe.

This is why something needs to be done. Someone needs to speak out and do something. Thanks to Anna’s family, they are speaking out. They are doing something, and it is time for everyone to listen to their heart, put a stand against discriminating addicts, and help them get the help the want and deserve. No one deserves to be treated the way we treat drug addicts, no one deserves to pay thousands of dollars for one bad choice that they have already suffered from in the worst way possible. They have paid their dues for that bad choice, they know it was a bad choice, and they want to change. Let them change, help them change. You can’t bring back my best friend, Carla and Mark’s daughter, Ryan, Katie, and Julia’s sister, but you can save someone else’s best friend, daughter, and sister.

SPEAK UP.