Opioid Addiction Statistics and Facts In 2017

Heroin overdoses outnumber the number of gun homicides. Addiction is a disease that has been devastating to families and loved ones across the US. In October 2017, I lost my dad, my best friend, my everything to the disease. Spreading awareness is as important as realizing none of us has the right answers. The following statistics raise huge issues that are debated frequently. The following information is not based on my opinion.

There was a lack of statistics for the year 2017, most likely because of the time it takes to gather the information, however, I tried my best to get the most recent and most accurate information.

If you have more information please share. In honour of my dad and the battles he faced and to those who will face similar challenges in the year 2018.

Summary of Opioid Facts

  • Approximately 20.1 million Americans are addicted to opioids. That’s equivalent to the population of Florida.
  • 66,324 people died of an overdose from January-May 2017
  • Delaware, Washington DC, New Jersey, Ohio, and Pennsylvania saw the highest increases in opioid overdoses in 2017
  • There are upwards of 1.9 million nonfatal opioid overdoses in 2017
  • Narcan reversed the effects of opioids for 27,000 people in 2015. No total data for 2016 or 2017 were found.
  • There were 1.3 million hospital visits due to overdoses in 2014. No data for the following years were found
  • There are upwards of 1.9 million nonfatal opioid overdoses in 2017
  • Approximately 180 people die of opioid addiction every day.

 

The Statistics: Opioid Overdoses In 2017

As shown below the issue of opioid addiction is at it’s highest in the United States.

percentage of deaths classified as drug-related
Photo Credit: Josh Katz NYTimes

According to the CDC, the 12 Month-ending Provisional Counts of Drug Overdose Deaths, Percent Change Over Previous 12-month Period, and Data Quality Metric shows that 66,324 people died of an overdose in 2017 by May.

An important note at the bottom: “Deaths are classified by the reporting jurisdiction in which the death occurred.” This number could be unreliable due to the number of deaths that are not initially determined as an overdose.

Due to the lengthy process of investigating the cause of death for an overdose, deaths are ruled as “no cause of death”.

66,324 people is a tragedy nonetheless. That is almost the equivalent number of people Gilette Stadium can hold with 66,829 seats.

The data from the CDC has the percentage of change from 2016’s overdose deaths. Let’s break it down by the state who has seen reduced numbers of overdose deaths.

Important questions are answered here in this article by Josh Katz on short answers to hard questions about opioid addiction.

Top US States that Have Reduced Overdoses in 2017 from 2016:

  • Alaska
  • California
  • Hawaii
  • Mississippi
  • Nebraska
  • Oregon
  • Rhode Island
  • Utah
  • Washington
  • Wyoming

What’s interesting is most of these states, besides California, have under 500 overdoses. There are a few states that have a very steep increase in overdoses. Let’s take a look at those.

Top US States that Have had an Increase in Overdoses in 2017 from 2016: 

  • Delaware 44% increase
  • Washington DC 78% increase
  • Maryland 43% increase
  • New Jersey 31% increase
  • Ohio 41% increase
  • Pennsylvania 44% increase

Number of Nonfatal Overdoses in 2017

There is very limited information on the number of overdoses in 2017 that don’t result in death but an article published by NPR in August 2017 claims, “for every fatal overdose, there are believed to be roughly 30 nonfatal overdoses.”

If this is true this would mean the number of nonfatal overdoses is 1.9 million in 2017 roughly speaking. Just in Massachusetts alone “Nonfatal overdoses recorded by emergency medical services (EMS), hospitals, and bystander interventions increased [about] 200% between 2011 and 2015.

The total number of nonfatal overdoses between 2011 and 2015 exceeded 65,000.” which you can the full legislature report here. We can suspect that in the past two years that number has grown. We also have to assume that with how easily accessible Narcan is now in the community that this number may be even double.

Narcan

What is Narcan?

Narcan is one form of Naloxone and the most recognized. There are three FDA-approved formulations of naloxone. One is Narcan, a nasal spray, one is an injectable, and one is Evsio an auto-injectable.

The injectable is least popular but all three have the same effect: They bring a human who has overdosed back to life. “81.6 percent of reported naloxone reversals involved heroin. Prescription opioids were involved in 14.1 percent of cases” (addictioncenter.com). If you’d like to learn more about how much Narcan to use, how Narcan works, and what happens when you use Narcan, visit NCADA for a full list of FAQ.

Dailymail posted a video of a woman coming back to life with Naloxone. If you can make it through the video, you’ll recognize her friends bring her back to life with an injectable. As she comes back to life her friend says, “You went out.”

Overdose narcan injection

Where is Narcan Available?

In 2015, Narcan saved approximately 27,000 lives. Naloxone is available without a prescription in 41 states. You can pick up Naloxone at a local CVS except for the states listed below.  Depending on your locations, you can sign up for training to learn how to use Naloxone. In Boston, The Boston Public Health Commision holds free In-house overdose prevention and naloxone training Monday afternoons and Tuesday evenings on specific days in 2018.

narcan availability naloxone
Photo Credit: CVS.com

You can go through the opioid overdose interactive prevention, recognition and response for additional personal education.

Opioid Overdose Prevention, Recognition and Response

 

States you need a prescription for Naloxone:

  • Delaware
  • Hawaii
  • Maine
  • Michigan
  • Nebraska
  • Oklahoma
  • Wyoming

 

Narcan Fentanyl
https://tonic.vice.com/en_us/article/59ppqx/new-strain-of-fentanyl-acrylfentanyl-is-resistant-to-overdose-antidote-naloxone-narcan

In April 2017, a strain of Fentanyl that was  Narcan-resistant hit Western Pennsylvania along with Georgia, Indiana, and more.  This strain is considered, “50 to 100 times more powerful than morphine,” according to vice.com.

Hospital Protocol on Opioid-related Visits

The number of hospital visits due to opioid-related inpatient stays and emergency room visits is not provided for the year 2017. The latest data is from 2014 from the Homeland Security Department which states, 1.3 million patients needed hospital care due to opioids.

Good Samaritan Law for addiction

As stated by the NCSL, a Samaritan who calls 911 due to an overdose, will be provided immunity from arrest or prosecution. “To encourage people to seek out medical attention for an overdose or for follow-up care after naloxone has been administered, 40 states and the District of Columbia have enacted some form of a Good Samaritan or 911 drug immunity law.

These laws generally provide immunity from arrest, charge or prosecution for certain controlled substance possession and paraphernalia offenses when a person who is either experiencing an opiate-related overdose or observing one calls 911 for assistance or seeks medical attention. State laws are also increasingly providing immunity from violations of pretrial, probation or parole conditions and violations of protection or restraining orders.”

The Lack of Follow Up in Hospitals is being acknowledged in Massachusetts and Other States

NPR article states we could be doing more for patients that come in with an opioid addiction. “Donohue says many hospital emergency departments are not adequately set up to serve or even screen patients with addiction. ‘They may not have strong connections to treatment providers. So they, at best, may leave patients with a list, but then there is no active follow-up,’ Donohue says. ‘People who are quite vulnerable and are at great risk for future overdoses are falling through the cracks.’

If a patient is revived and asks to leave the same day as their overdose they are allowed to check themselves out. “It’s safe to characterize it as a missed opportunity for the health system to respond.”

Massachusetts Governor Baker has recently passed legislation to help assist in the lack of medical follow up. “It requires hospitals to engage patients to connect them to voluntary treatment and requires doctors to record overdoses and evaluations in a patient’s electronic medical records.” Read more about Governor Bakers Opioid Plan here.

As you can read here from USA Today, families are seeking involuntary commitment laws to help the fight with addiction. There is still legislation that finds it difficult to move forward due to civil rights concerns. Others find that it is not a solution and won’t contribute to change in behaviour or relapse.

On the contrary, people believe, ” it’s a vital, last-resort option at a time when the opioid crisis is killing more than 90 Americans every day.”

Currently, if a family member you know is in the hospital due to drug overdose and you call to get your loved one help, you are advised to order a section 35.

Rehabilitation

2.4 million addicted people seek treatment through specialized rehab centers every year.

According to NPR, In Massachusetts, courts civilly committed more than 6,500 people to treatment last year. Massachusetts Department of Corrections spokesman Chris Fallon estimates that 40 percent of those civilly committed to the center will be court-ordered to treatment again but believes a correctional setting makes sense (npr.org).

Here is a full list of every licenced substance abuse providers by city.

Recently Google has taken the initiative to disable the ability to advertise for rehabilitation companies as many were misleading. “Addiction recovery during the worst drug epidemic in American history is expected to generate $42 billion in business by 2020.”

“Insurers are required to cover substance abuse treatment under the Affordable Care Act, and some stays can cost up to $60,000 a month, making every patient extremely lucrative. And the majority of addicts or their parents — 61 percent, according to Google’s internal statistics — use the internet to find help.”

Inpatient vs. Outpatient Rehabilitation

Inpatient rehabs

  • 28 days to six months
  • Intensive
  • Residential treatment programs
  • Family members can contact loved ones in residential treatment. Each facility is different for visitation rights
  • A typical day in residential treatment is carefully scheduled and accounted for

Outpatient rehabs

  • 10 to 12 hours a week – The average outpatient detox period lasts 6.5 days
  • Part-time programs
  • Recovering patient can go to work or school during the day
  • Sessions focus on drug abuse education, individual and group counseling, and teaching addicted people how to cope without their drug

Prison Sentences Due to Drug Addiction

Substance abuse is a large part of correctional facilities and the NCADD reported that crimes are typically found to have a correlation to drug use.

“Approximately 95% of inmates return to alcohol and drug use after release from prison, and 60 – 80% of drug abusers commit a new crime (typically a drug-driven crime) after release from prison” (NCADD).

  • 80% of offenders abuse drugs or alcohol.
  • Nearly 50% of jail and prison inmates are clinically addicted.
  • Approximately 60% of individuals arrested for most types of crimes test positive for illegal drugs at arrest.

Opioid Addiction in 2018

What can we expect in 2018? I am optimistic. I believe there are different ways to look at addiction. I look forward to sharing my dad’s letters he sent to me while in prison due to addiction. While I wrote this blog post with the purpose of sharing statistics, addicts are not just statistics, they’re not just people that have a disease. They’re the faces of our parents, our children- the people we love and the people who need our support. I created Rising Hope as an initiative to give a face to what some people have trouble understanding.

A New Look at Addiction to Consider

Maybe we’re looking at addiction wrong. Would it be insulting or hurtful to the addict if I said I am anticipating their relapse? Maybe not anticipating but maybe I’m sort of expecting it, but not in the way that I am wishing bad things or not believing in the person to fight the battle full force.

Steve Olbinsky Sobriety

In the last months of my dad’s life, I no longer felt a pit in my stomach that my dad was using drugs. I anticipated he was. The scariest part of his addiction wasn’t the drug use anymore, it was his desire to die. He was using drugs not to get high but to feel like he could hold on for just one more day. Physically he was down to almost 100 pounds, and mentally he couldn’t stand himself. I recorded our last conversation we had where he painfully told me his desire to close his eyes while weeping for my forgiveness. He said, “I tried to like lay down and I started to stop taking all the pills and everything.”

I anticipated that my dad would use drugs again but is that really even the issue? Because an addiction is the disease but is the drug use even the day to day issue? We’re all living to find a reason to continue living. With this disease, living becomes a dependency to a substance. So to fight that dependency it takes giving up something that you depend on and that takes a kind of power that we shouldn’t put so much pressure on to achieve unless we’ve been in those shoes before. Why can’t you just stay sober? It’s only like holding your breath from the moment you wake up till the moment you fall asleep. And good luck catching your breath and have a pleasant dream at the same time.

I had 5 years to decide how I was going to handle my dad’s release from prison and his freedom to make good or bad choices with the tough task of re-entering society. We wrote to each other every week just about and we talked about the things we wanted to do and the way we loved each other so full we could take over the world if we wanted to. In a way, I think that’s why it didn’t work out. Our love was way too powerful.

While he was in prison I wrote this blog post, why I won’t be upset if my dad relapses. It was my eternalized emancipation to his addiction. I wrote about the realities. A drug addiction shouldn’t ruin a bond like the one my dad and I had. I knew I couldn’t enable him. I wrote about the emotions. I understood I’d feel a bit heartbroken inside if he were to relapse. But most importantly I wrote what I would hold on as a truth. I would never let his addiction measure how much he loves me and the chapter doesn’t end until the day that I give up. And here I am continuing to write about my dad even after his passing.

I loved and love my dad more than anything in this world. I don’t even fear death anymore. That’s how our strong our bond was. He fulfilled my life and he gave me my riches- his love, his advice, his heart. I hold onto his letters, photos, and notes like treasured artifacts.

Despite this crazy love, I can confidently tell you that I anticipated his relapse. And to be honest, it made my life so much easier- and maybe his too. It wasn’t something I ever said to him. It should really go as an unspoken truism if you choose to adopt. I no longer had the ups and downs and celebrations with every day that passed that he wasn’t using. I also didn’t have the disappointments either.

When my dad and I went to Bruno Mars, he was excitedly choosing which outfit he should wear for his big night. He had on one shirt but when he decided he wanted to wear something Bruins related, he threw on another over. His frail body looked as though the shirt was weighing him down, but he was so excited to be back in TD Garden it didn’t seem to bother him much. He went over to his pills and he said, “Leanna should I take my pills?” I didn’t know what to say. My heart was beating fast and I had to take a big deep breath. He was looking at me so deeply and so desperately and yet I didn’t know the answer he wanted to hear. I really think he wanted to hear that if he didn’t take the pills everything would be okay and he wouldn’t be in pain but we both knew that wasn’t true. I calmly, with a choke in my throat, said, “Daddy, take what you need so that you’re comfortable at the concert.” It was such a scary feeling to know that if he didn’t take those pills he could’ve been in agonizing pain. He could’ve had a heart attack or a breakdown.

The day after the concert, he was so happy. The happiest I had heard him since he lost his license and totaled his car. He was singing, celebrating, and appreciating how beautiful life can be. He said, “This is what life is about, Leanna.” About 2 days later, I tried calling and didn’t get an answer. I knew that he was using again because if he wasn’t I would’ve had a text back instantly. Regardless, I continued to text him, “I love you, daddy!” I didn’t feel an ounce of regret, anger, or disappointment. I just wanted my dad to be okay, and I was waiting for his next call.

I was my dad’s reason for living. I gave his life as much meaning as I could. I would’ve given him my life. I would’ve traded my beautiful apartment, all my possessions, all my confidence and learned skills to let help him understand how much he meant to me. I tried articulating it in every way possible. The last letter I sent him I said if I could have the richest, smartest, dad that was a Doctor I wouldn’t trade him for you for even one second.

So what if we all stop putting so much pressure on sobriety as the solution? Could it potentially give loved ones more sleep at night? And more importantly, can it help an addict to feel like it’s as rare as it really is to not relapse? I just think it’s crazy that we ask so much. We think our love is enough to make a person want to be sober. Sobriety is desired by all addicts who’ve seen the pain they’ve caused. Your love is not a measurement of sobriety. Your support is, however, a measurement of love. But maybe we redefine support. Maybe we can accept that helping our loved one find meaning is more of the mission rather than helping an addict be sober. 

In the hospital when my dad was pronounced brain dead, my grandpa with tears streaming down his face said, Leanna. You saw dad different. I never thought he would die, I thought every time he was sober it’d be the last time and he would stay. But you accepted him and loved him for who he was.

Here is another glimpse of the last call my dad and I had. One day you’ll hear the pain and see my reaction as I accepted this nightmare but until I’m ready, read our words and please understand that addiction is more than using drugs. It takes away your life and puts you in a prison of depression.

Steve Olbinsky Last Phone Call

[Dad] I’m just so tired. I’m so… They took my f***ing license. Without a license, I’m like a fish out of water. I have no way of even attempting to even get a job. I don’t know how I’m going to get anything with the way my arm is. I’m… I don’t want to do drugs. I don’t want to have relapses anymore. I don’t want to have nothing anymore. I just like. I was really sick in bed for days. I couldn’t get out. I couldn’t do anything. I just like…

[Leanna] It’s okay daddy I’m here for you

[Dad] if it wasn’t for you I wouldn’t even want to live. I can’t do that to you. I just can’t leave you. That’s the only thing that’s stopping me from… from just … it’d be so nice to just go to sleep and not worry about nothing anymore. Not have any more problems. Not have any more letdowns. Not have any more you know?

Love in a Time of Heroin — carolineshonesty

This story is written by a woman named Caroline about her relationship with her husband who she found out was addicted to pain killers and eventually heroin. It’s quite beautiful and portrays the truth about drug addicts. They’re good people. They are amazing dads, sons, daughters, mothers who are caught in a terrible disease and sometimes can’t escape. I’m not sure if Caroline will see this message but I’d thought I’d share.

———-

This story is beautifully written and shows the truth about loving someone with addiction. As you said, “You can’t just simply walk away from the person you love the most.” and that is absolutely true. You can’t. Love is way stronger than an addiction and we as strong women see past the disease and know that deep down our loved ones are fighting the hardest battle of their lives. You know that Jacob would never want to put you or your son in jeopardy but heroin has a greater control over action than what’s right. Thank you for sharing this. I write about my relationship with my dad. I’m very lucky he hasn’t lost his life to addiction but everyday I think I’m going to get the phone call. He is my best friend and I would never ever disown him for the disease he has to bare. He is the most loving father and has taught me how to be a strong, independent and caring woman.

A lot of things you talked about are similar to my dad. My dad was working in the hospital and got caught with drugs. Soon enough I’d find spoons and needles. I was only 13. It was the most frightening feeling to think you were losing someone that was right in front of you.

Caroline, thank you. Thank you for writing this and for sending the right message- that heroin addicts are not junkies, they’re not bad people. They are amazing fathers, daughters, mothers, sons, with a really bad disease.

 

I submitted this essay to the New York Times column, “Modern Love” with the hope that I could reach a whole new audience with a very important message. Although they did not find the essay right for their needs, I still want to share it. I was positive I had met the man I would […]

via Love in a Time of Heroin — carolineshonesty

Cocaine, Alcohol, and Drugs: How, When, and Why Should I talk about it with My Friends

It’s okay to be worried about a friend that is partying too much. If you have ever thought that someone has or is overdoing it you may be right and it’s okay to talk to them about it. At the end look for the 8 signs to look out for if your friend may need your advice.

When you are around people who are drinking and smoking, you think it’s the norm. That’s what all the students are doing. It’s okay that I’m doing it too. I fit in. It’s not even a matter of peer pressure at that point. It’s just what you believe to be true for kids your age so you participate. You don’t have to experience peer pressure to do what you think is the norm. The truth is, there are kids that are at the library on weekends and there are people that want to change the world and don’t need to party to make their week feel complete. There’s a bit (a lot) of truth behind FOMO. The fear of missing out is a captivating feeling and once we’re in the middle of all the action, we don’t want to miss it.  In High School, I considered myself lucky to be in a relationship for most of the years and distance myself from that fear of missing out because I had everything I felt I needed close to my heart. It didn’t mean I didn’t have any friends, either. I still consider everyone from my high school a friend and if anyone were to reach out to me, we’d most likely have a long conversation on just about anything. I loved that balance. I was involved in student groups, loved my teachers, and loved seeing friends in school. It wasn’t completely as romantic as it sounds as my relationship was toxic but at the time and even now, I never regret it.

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In college, it wasn’t the case. I did attend parties. Not being in student groups due to the hours I worked at the restaurant and at the health club, I was surrounded by conversations that made me feel angry, jaded, and confused. My dad was in prison and my mom and grandpa were relying on me. And I would hear people talk about their education like they deserved it and didn’t need to work for it. I also heard people talk about substances like they were just a casual thing to do. At that point in my life, I felt that I was surrounded by privileged people who only knew how to make choices based on what made them feel good at the moment. Nothing hurt more than hearing people talk about cocaine, and seeing it for the first time in a college made my heart fall to my stomach. I couldn’t believe that the very drug that I saw my dad’s life go from working middle class to prison and helpless was the drug that kids were doing as a recreational activity, just in a different form.

It’s twisted to me that just because I had seen the awful effects of crack cocaine on a person who I love more than anything may be the only reason why I find it so wrong. Would I agree with my peers that cocaine is a casual activity that places me at an elite level if it weren’t for my experiences? Luckily I’ll never have to find out and I’ll never feel the peer pressure to do it because I saw my dad with a loaded pistol standing over me while I was sleeping. Waking me up and telling me to follow him into the attic because someone was up there spying on him.

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As I really try to understand how to help with prevention I’m always going to have to take into account the experiences that students are having. If you grow up without the experiences like I had, it will just seem like a fun party activity. It will seem as innocent as drinking because ‘there’s no worse drug than alcohol.’ Now that I can share these experiences and tell you that there will always be a point where it’s no longer fun, I will make it my job to do so. If not for you, for someone else. When my dad first did heroin he did it with a friend, just as something to try. As for my dad’s friend– he never touched it again. For my dad, it detained him. It infiltrated his veins and crawled right into his brain. It captured him as a prisoner and would never let go. He couldn’t stop himself from that point forward. And to think, it was just a social activity they were trying out after a day at work.

Now I am watching my dad suffer. Every time my mom or grandpa calls me I think it’s going to be the day my dad has died. Because now it’s not just addiction we have to worry about. His body organs are failing him and even worse, his mind and soul. He is beginning to not believe in himself and he has a disillusion that his life no longer has meaning. He can barely walk. He can barely tolerate himself. He needs help and I spend at least 5 seconds out of every minute wishing I could save him, but the truth is I can’t just do that. I’ll always support him and in complete love and despair of the disease, I’ll remind my peers and students of all walks of life to consider the next time your friend is having fun or your having fun with friends to ask when it is going to stop.

When are you going to finally say, “I think I want to stop spending my weekends doing this.” And if you know that this isn’t your life forever, do your friends know that too? Start with the conversation about how this isn’t always going to be what you want to do. It’s hard. I’ve had the conversation before and to be honest, it’s usually going to be taken harshly or the wrong way. Of course, you don’t want to tell friends that eventually, if this goes on forever, it can become a problem. But until you look at it that way, it’ll always just seem okay. You go out to bars on the weekend, you’re surrounded by people doing the same, and you have a good time at that moment. How uncool of you to point out that it could eventually  become a lifestyle, and not just ‘a social activity.’ You owe it to yourself and them to talk about it. Especially, when you start talking about harder drugs, the conversation is more detrimental. You can cross dangerous territory if you’re not setting expectations and boundaries of how much fun is too much and when you’ll draw the line.  Maybe they’ll hate what you’re saying, but maybe you’ll save someone from their outlook and even more-so, their life. Is it really that funny that you have that staple friend that does too much cocaine? It absolutely won’t be when they’re no longer able to be your friend without it.

Have you ever had a friend that is mad at someone so you get mad at them too? You hold onto the grudge because that’s the impression you’re left with about that person. But then all of a sudden, your friend is back to being friends with that other person again and you suddenly feel a strange feeling. You were angry and upset in place for someone else. And now you’re left on your own to erase those feelings because your friend has forgiven that person. That’s what friends are for, right? But when it comes to addiction the same thing happens here in a more toxic way. You and your friend do whatever it is together. It’s a bond, it brings you together, and you know you can rely on that person to back you up. Once someone from that friendship decides it isn’t for them anymore the other friend suddenly feels betrayed and confused. You really do owe it to your friend to tell them that you’re not going to be mad at that person forever and that you’re just blowing off steam just as much as you owe it to your friend to say something about your recreational activities.

There’s no better time to tell a friend you’re worried about them than the first time you get that feeling. It really sucks. It’s not your place. But eventually, if it does get worse, it may be too late. I really wish that my dad’s friend and him had a conversation like that. It may have not changed his choices, but what if it could for your friend?

One of the hardest parts about having this conversation is looking hypocritical right? I mean, I go out and have drinks and even after this conversation maybe I continue to do so. So now my friends think I’m being judgemental and not even taking responsibility for myself. Don’t use this as your reasoning. Even if you become who you didn’t want your friend to become, now they know that this isn’t what you wanted and they may be the one to save you because you’ve opened up that conversation. I think this is one of the few cases where words speak louder than actions and do as I say not as I do tie together and make sense. We’re all hypocrites. It’s what keeps me from blogging 90% of the time. Sometimes I feel like a walking paradox. But I will be a walking contradiction before I let that fear of being labeled as a hypocrite force me to bury a friend.

Here are 8 signs to look out for if you are worried your friend may have a drug or alcohol problem:

  1. Your friend has more than one drink when they are alone after work or class.
  2. Your friend blacks out or gets sick more than once a month.
  3. Your friend is always looking for a way to ‘feel good’ and escape themselves – even for simple activities.
  4. Your friend peer pressures you to drink or try a drug and makes you feel bad about not giving in.
  5. Your friend drinks more than 3x per week heavily.
  6. Your friend wakes up and doesn’t remember things that they said or did.
  7. You feel uncomfortable more than once in a social setting with your friend because of their actions
  8. You feel you have to tell your friend when to slow down on the drinking

 

 

Parents Addicted to Heroin: How to Raise Children

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To the parents that are struggling with addiction- don’t give up on yourselves. All your children need from you is love. The pressure of being a parent is already heavy- raising a little human is not easy and you always want to do the right thing for them and there aren’t any black-and-white answers on what that means. We know ourselves, our weaknesses, our flaws and even through parenthood we are still searching for answers while raising a child. When we have the opportunity to mold a child we want to do so in a way to mitigate those negative qualities on our children. That is without a drug addiction. Now you add in an addiction and the pressure is pulling you to the burning core of this earth.

Being a Parent with an Addiction to Narcotics or Heroin

For any parent struggling with addiction, there is no doubt that we love our children and want the best life we can give them, but our brain can only surpass the impulses to use for moments at a time. We love seeing our children smile and we love making our children happy but we also need to get high. When it comes to facing the truth – whether we are ‘there’ for our children or not, we aren’t really there. And that is a burden we must carry with us until the day we die. The burden of feeling like a failure not only in society but also as a parent is one that no one can ever imagine. So everyday that we are there- really, truly, soberly- for our children we feel immensely overjoyed and thankful for the moments we have with the one we created and suddenly we don’t feel like so much of a failure because we have a beautiful product of life in front of us that still loves us unconditionally.

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What We Ask for from Our Parents

That is all a child can ask for in life and it’s something that if you’re fortunate to get you can cherish it for life. It’s something we desire to find with a significant other and it is a feeling that calms the soul and makes us feel invincible to the world especially during tragedy. Don’t be afraid to lose the love of your child because of your addiction because that is not what defines love. We, your children, will stick by you through it all (click the link to why I am okay with my dad relapsing). We will defend you through thick and thin no matter what. All we ask for in return is unconditional love. Even when we distance ourselves, even when we get angry and run away or hide. We want to be loved! And we learn from a young age that our parents should love us and we, without even knowing it, hold you accountable for just that.

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Love is Unconditional and Addiction is not an Exception to That.

My parents couldn’t send me to college. My parents couldn’t always be “there” when I wanted them to be. But my parents never made me forget for one day that they didn’t love me. Do you know how hard that is to do when you have a substance addiction? There are things that they have done that an outsider can look at and say is unforgivable. Even my parents are unforgiving to themselves at times. I love my parents more than anything in this world because they have shown me unconditional, sincere, love. When my dad was in prison, he’d send me 4 pages of reasons he loves me and why and I’d get that letter on a week where I was feeling depressed because I didn’t feel like I deserved to be at a private university alongside kids who were taking advantage of their parents generosity. I’d read his letter and nothing in the world mattered to me anymore except that I had the power of love. My parents didn’t have to stay together. They were never married and they were on different coasts. 3,000 miles away they both made the commitment to live together no matter how toxic they were together. They did that for me and that is unconditional love.

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What We See Our Parents Do Doesn’t Define us and Doesn’t Mean we Aren’t Loved

Not to say I should’ve seen half of the things I saw growing up- Can you imagine knowing the smell of crack-cocaine and burnt tinfoil in the bathroom drawers by age 13 followed by spoons and needles in the backseat of the car that takes you to dance class? Do you think that a parent would wish to make their child a part of that? No. It just happens. You can’t really control it anymore. Maybe if it was your first time using, and you knew that in 5 years you’d have a child to care for  but if you insert the needle that means you can’t actually be there for them and you will probably hurt them so badly you’ll make them feel insignificant– but we don’t know that the first time we use. People can hate us for becoming a parent in the first place but don’t make our children hate us.

We Can’t Give Up On Each Other Even if We Need Distance Apart

So parents – speaking to mine as well because I know you read my blog- please don’t give up. We, your children, we are hurt and we are scared, we are mad, we are confused, but we love you unconditionally. We don’t care what other people say about you. We don’t care if you are going to relapse tomorrow. We don’t care if as defined by society you are a “bad” parent. All we care about is that you love us unconditionally and tell us that. We want to feel loved by you no matter how much we ignore you or run away. We may not be willing to give that 5th or 6th chance to you right now but that does not mean we don’t want your love. We know you are going through pain and it is even harder for you than it is us. Please don’t give up. We want you to feel better but we know we can’t help – you have to do it on your own. That doesn’t mean that we can ever stop loving you. All you have to do is own up to your flaws and tell us you love us.


The Recent Neglected Child from the Heroin Overdose in Needham

-On the video of the overdose in Needham. First of all the person filming this. I do not understand how you and other bystanders could not reach out and hug this little girl. As for this heartbreaking video, this poor little girl has no idea what is going on. She understands her mother is unresponsive but she doesn’t know why. She probably won’t understand for a long time, until it really sets in that she is in a bad situation. I’m not sure the way her life may turn but it alarmed me and sprung me back into my feet that I want to be a hero and an idol for these kids. We seen this one filmed but that doesn’t mean that this is happening everywhere else where heroin is a problem.

The Future Generation of Children with Parents Addicted to Drugs

The gap between high class and low class is only going to become more divided with the amount of children that have parents addicted to drugs that cannot afford to take care of their family. Their are more than 8 million children right now that have parents addicted to drugs. These children are going to come out strong. They are going to make it. But only if it is handled with deep care for both the parents and the children AND the relationship that they have. There are laws that government officials must take for the safety of the child but to alter the relationship between children and biological parents from a young age can be so harmful. These children need someone to look up to and to not feel controlled by the fate of a foster home or the fear of inevitably becoming a replica of their parents. I want to diminish this fear because you don’t have to feel that way and once you don’t it is the most invigorating feeling.

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Having an Equal Compassion for Both the Addict and the Child

I want to be there for the parents that make the mistakes that feel like they are better off dead. No one should have to feel that way. Learning to love someone else even through an addiction is so important. There is no excuse for abuse but the guilt a loving parent who has a problem with addiction feels is unbearable and it is hard to admit to something so awful especially when you can barely remember and feel like you had no control.

I’m no expert but I have a lot of love for both addicts and children of addicts. Sometimes people need understanding from both sides to help the healing of an epidemic.

If you’d like to learn more about my nonprofit visit Rising Hope’s main page to see how to donate, how to get involved and more about the mission.