Facebook cracks down on Opioids Sold on its Platform

TechCrunch has released an article, “Facebook cracks down on Opioid dealers after years of neglect.” Recent information from the Center for Disease Control, Facebook plays a role in the opioid crisis.  Xanax, OxyContin and other painkillers are often bought online, with dealers promoting themselves on social media including Facebook.

 

 

SUMMARY + DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

  • Drug dealers were using Facebook (and IG) pages, FB marketplace, and hashtags to sell drugs.
  • Once the CDC released statistics about the number of opioid overdose deaths in 2017, Facebook took action.
  • You can no longer hashtag drugs like heroin or fentanyl thanks to Eileen Carey.
  • If you search to buy drugs you’ll be taken to resources for recovery on the SAMHSA site.
  • It is believed that Facebook contributed to 72,000 deaths last year. That’s about 20% of all opioid deaths last year.

 

  • DISCUSSION: Do you think with Facebook’s new policies there will be a big impact on the opioid epidemic? Why or why not?
  • DISCUSSION: Is Facebook the problem? Why or why not?
  • DISCUSSION: Do you have any examples of times where you saw something on Facebook that you wanted to report but it didn’t have a policy?
  • DISCUSSION: How do you envision Facebook having the biggest impact on the epidemic?
  • DISCUSSION: Would you consider Facebook to be neglectful? Why or why not?
THE STATISTICS

Statistics on Opioid Overdose Deaths from CDC

Estimated 30,000 synthetic opioid overdose deaths in the U.S. in 2017

There were roughly 20,000 opioid overdose deaths in 2016.

SOCIAL MEDIA PROMOTION OF ILLEGAL DRUGS

Once the statistics were released, Facebook removed groups, pages, hashtags and marketplace ads that were illuding to selling drugs.

 facebook opioids sold

facebook fentanyl sold page

People are changing their name to appear in the search for fentanyl.

Facebook-Drug-Search-fentanyl

FACEBOOKS RECENT CHANGE FOR SEARCHES TO BUY DRUGS

If you try to search to buy drugs on Facebook, it’ll now bring you to resources for addiction. I tested this out and here’s what happens.

 

THE BEGINNING OF CHANGE FOR SOCIAL MEDIA’S DRUG DEALING

Eileen Carey

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PC: diversitybestpractices

 

 

Eileen Carey is the hero here as she is the woman that got the policy on opioid sales to change on Instagram in April 2018.

She used Social Media and got the attention of  Facebook VP Guy Rosen.

Read the full article HERE

 

 

 

 

FACEBOOK’S IN HOT WATER

Mark Zuckerberg

In April 2018, Mark Zuckerberg sat down with caregivers of the opioid crisis and was shocked to hear the news that so many families are struggling with this epidemic.

 

 

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PC: Congress.gov

 

He was under hot water when Representative David B. McKinley of West Virginia put the pressure on him to make a change.

“With all due respect, Facebook is actually enabling an illegal activity, and in so doing, you are hurting people. Would you agree with that statement?”

 

 

 

OPINION

This is a great change, and it’s so easy to reflect and say, of course, you shouldn’t be able to create a hashtag promoting the use or selling of illegal drugs. However, I see a problem more about how desperate people are to sell and get drugs in any way possible.

Personally, I am apart of a lot of addiction groups that don’t encourage drug use or sell drugs but offer a safe community for people struggling with addiction to share their experiences and struggles. It’s heart-wrenching to see parents posting photos of drugs and asking the community in desperation if it’s what they think it is. Together the community comforts one another and sends words of encouragement.

With all good things come the bad as well. I don’t think it’s ethically right to blame a social networking problem on being the causation of hurting people. This TechCrunch article seemed to have a tone of blame, which is a dangerous mindset to have when talking about addiction. I would argue that the issue was not neglected for a long time. Hashtags of #heroin or posts about selling drugs are something that unless you’re searching for it or see it close to home, it isn’t top of mind. This isn’t just the case for Facebook, this translates into everyday life. The opioid epidemic effects so many families and we really need to be compassionate to those struggling but also patient with those who don’t understand it.

Another critique of TechCrunch’s article was the number 72,000. Where did the statistic that 72,000 of the opioid overdoses have a correlation with Facebook. If there is an article or a statistical graph that shows what source the overdose came from, I’d be very interested to see it!

Read the full article HERE

Facebook was reactive and not proactive with the removal of drug content and that’s a part of having a product/ecosystem bigger than yourself. The outcome we all agree on is helping those who are struggling and reducing the number of those affected in the future.

What if we saw the solution to ban the selling of drugs and buying them on social networks an issue of out of sight out of mind? Imagine if instead of disabling the ability to search or sell drugs online, we take action on those who participate in the activity. What if the DEA catfished the sellers?

What are some different viewpoints on the issue? Let me know!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

Growing Up with Heroin

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I was told by someone that they wanted to understand what growing up around heroin was like for me and today I woke up with the greatest amount of anxiety I have felt in so long. During these moments of weakness I felt it’d be best to explain what I’m feeling. Please, if you haven’t dealt with addiction and come here to treat me as though I look for sympathy or to criticize me for being weak, you don’t know me at all and I want you to leave. This is something I’m writing to those who can relate to what I am feeling right now and not for you to judge.

I woke up with a feeling that was painfully unclear where it was coming from. I couldn’t tell if I felt it in my heart, in my bones, or in my entire body rushing through my veins and into my brain. It felt a bit like panic. I felt like I couldn’t keep my own head on my shoulders and I still am having that feeling now. I am shaking beyond the normal amount I shake and I have taken more deep breaths than I do during my nightly meditation. When I touch my skin it feels unreal. It feels like I’m dreaming a bit. I feel like I can’t hold a conversation. I feel like I can’t sleep but I can’t bare to stay awake. I feel like everything around me is gone and I’m alone yet everyone is looking at me.

 

I couldn’t put my finger on what it was that made me feel this way. I didn’t have a nightmare which I have very often. And things in my life are going fairly well.

 

Then I stepped into the crisp air of fall and I almost burst out into tears. I was brought back to more than ten years ago. The month of October was the month my dad had been released from prison the first time, the time when my grandma would only have 3 more weeks to live and I felt alone and scared. My dad was released and I felt I had my dad back. Sober, muscular and refreshed.

dads prison release
My dad and I the day he was released in 2006, three weeks before my grandma passed away.

It didn’t last long as a week after my dad was home, after he had tried making up for lost time and bought me a new wardrobe. I remember sitting at my computer that day when I picked up my phone and my mom told me that my grandma had died. I cried and with my eyes full of tears I was by myself thinking of how painful it was to hear the words that I had been scared of hearing for the past year and a half when I found out my grandma had cancer.

At my grandma’s funeral I remember the leaves were finally falling off of the trees. It was sunny but the air was crisp just like today. It stung more than the anxiety and depression. Is it just me, or is anxiety and depression a feeling of nothingness and everything at the same time. Two very conflicting feelings attacking each other inside of your soul and bringing a numbness to our mind?

My dad showed up to the funeral an hour late and in a distressed condition. My grandma, Anna, was his best friend in the entire world and he had missed out on 9 months of her last breaths in prison. I hadn’t seen my dad for the next two days and I could hardly swallow that he had relapsed and I would experience the frightening sight of burnt spoons in the bathroom and sporadic bursts of anger throughout the house. But when he finally came home in his Outback, it wasn’t the same.

This time my dad wouldn’t speak. He walked like a zombie into the house with his pants falling to his ankles. On my way to school as I walked past his car I glanced inside to see two needles in the trunk.

My first time seeing heroin.

I felt I had lost my dad again but this time he wasn’t paranoid and angry. Now he was soleless. He was gone and yet he stood right in front of me. I was no longer his daughter. I was just another human that couldn’t give his body what it needed.

It was the second time I had seen him transform into something that he wasn’t but it was the first time I felt that I had experienced wanting to not be alive. The unexplainable paranoia and anger when my dad was doing crack cocaine was scary but seeing my dad lifeless and zombie-like was like seeing someone’s life be sucked out of them. It’s like in the movies when they tell you, you shouldn’t bring back the dead because they’ll be a different person. My dad was someone I didn’t recognize and I had never felt so alone.

 

I guess when I first felt the crisp air this fall my mind took me back to this moment. I’m certain of it because I haven’t had this clear of a revision of this memory since. Just like 11 years ago,  I’ll get through this too.

 

So what’s it like for me to grow up around heroin? It’s the spark that reminds me that I can love harder, survive anything, accept everything, and still keep going. It’s the reminder that there is a feeling of real pain, that feeling so down you are numb is the most unique feeling that sometimes feels quite safe. It’s almost like the opposite of love. You’re filled with something that you can’t explain. It’s taught me that we’ll all feel or be alone at some points in our lives even if we have everyone around us. It’s okay to feel alone and sad and confused, as long as you make it through. It’s a reminder of how lucky I am to have a relationship so strong with my dad. It made me passionate and relentless. It made me kind and appreciative. It made me understand that life can be unfair but sometimes the most unfair things in life are what make life so beautiful.

 

I can’t say that I’m happy I am feeling this anxiety today but it’s a familiar feeling that brought me back to the weakest time in my life. I may have a cry but not because I am weak, because I am so proud of myself for making it through what seemed impossible to get through. I’m proud to have this familiar feeling come back and to know that nothing will ever defeat me. Not my own body, not another human, not my own weaknesses.

There was nothing bad about growing up around heroin because my dad is my best friend in the whole universe and I am the most appreciative person for it. Everyday my dad struggles with the disease I know that he is trying to fight to be in my life and that is the most beautiful thing anyone can live for.

If you grew up with heroin tell me if you agree:

  1. We love harder than anyone in the world.
  2. We don’t take things for granted.
  3. We know that life isn’t fair. We know anxiety and depression.
  4. We understand the concept of losing someone more than once.
  5. We push people away who make us feel that we aren’t independent.
  6. We believe in loyalty but know to what extent loyalty jeopardizes our safety.
  7. We know pain.
  8. We’ve seen things we didn’t want to see but makes us strong.
  9. We live deliberately. We stick up for what is right because we know the consequences of not.
  10. We are healers in some way or another.

The Wrong Approach to Heroin Addiction

We are taking the wrong approach on the heroin solution. As our Government begins to become aware of the heroin epidemic that has swept America our heroin solution is all wrong. This disease continues to kill precious lives and imprison innocent humans and we still haven’t gotten the solution OR the problem right. Right now our government addresses addiction as the problem and sobriety as the solution. As with any disease you’ll come across, the side effects are more daunting and damaging than the original cause. The cause is the drugs but the problem isn’t addiction. The problem is the internal, mental, and physical ailments that face our loved ones in each sober moment the addict faces. To send a recovering addict to a halfway house or a sober house or prison is like putting a bandaid on a wound. An addict doesn’t need to be sequestered and put among other people that they are now categorized as in society. You go to prison you are a bad person who can’t contribute to society. You go to a halfway house you are an addict who needs help by being isolated.

I’d like to call out the weaknesses of this point before I move on because I want you to realize that I’m not naive to a few things. One, the addict has to want to get sober on their own. Two, each situation is different and this can’t be applied to every situation. Sometimes there are bad people that do drugs. But n0t all drug addicts are bad people and that is my point. In fact- most people I know struggling with addiction had an amazing life and were extremely kind in a sober state of mind.

In order to change the heroin epidemic our solution needs to be less black and white- we can’t just expect an addict to get sober and move on. We need to look into the day to day struggles that an addict faces from the time they wake up to the time they go to bed and even what they dream about. Have you ever thought about what an addict must feel like when they are sober? Have you ever had a dream where you do something awful and you wake up and can’t believe that you’d ever think that way? What if you woke up and it was reality? That is what an addict feels like when they become sober.

The physical health issues and mental health issues that arise from addiction are way worse than the struggle of staying sober. Even with the pounding impulse to use, nothing is worse than feeling like a dirty, worthless failure to the ones you love and cherish most. And to think you feel like it is out of your control is unbearable. Every time I talk to my dad he doesn’t wallow in the fear of using again. He cries and begs to escape himself. To hear your best friend, your parent, and your idol tell you everyday he wants to kill himself to escape the pain is way worse than hearing that he craves a high. Because it’s no longer the high he wants. He just wants to not feel the pain he is the cause of. He sees himself as a monster and although I don’t view him as a monster, society tells him he’s a monster. Society tells him he can go to a sober house, but he’ll never have a job, he’ll never be able to vote, he’ll never live the American dream that he moved here for, from the Soviet Union. 

So do we really want to fix the problem and stand by our loved ones? Do we want to put in the time to give a bit of sympathy? Or do we want to continue to tell ourselves that if every heroin addict was sober there wouldn’t be an epidemic anymore?

Below is a video I made on what an addict is dealing with, how to build relationships with a loved one that is an addict, and how our health and the addicts health can both be at a stable place.

Join my Facebook group I love someone suffering from a heroin/narcotic addiction here.

Visit my website on Rising Hope, my vision for a non-profit for managing relationships with addiction here.

If you have a loved one struggling with addiction and need someone to talk to I’m always here. Email lolbinsky@outlook.com.

Are All Drug Addicts Failures?

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I recently listened to a TED talk called, “A kinder gentler philosophy of success,” by Alain de Botton. He talked about our modern ideas of success and failure. He talked about our governments ideal view of meritocracy and what stuck with me was the hidden validation that meritocracy is associated with.

Meritocracy Governance by elites who deserve to wield power because they possess education and skills. On one hand this is great. It means that people that work hard, are charismatic, and who try really, really hard will get ahead in life and therefore be successful. They deserve to be successful because of their merit. But then when we look at the other end of the spectrum this means we also believe that people who can’t work as hard, who may have made mistakes in their lives are unsuccessful and deserve to be unsuccessful. But as compassionate people who understand that we all have hardships and mental and physical ailments, merit is a dangerous way to judge success.

Success is favored by prosperity of wealth and job status in our society, and when we’re on a path where that path doesn’t look attainable, it’s very easy to spiral continually downward. And then society looks down upon us. And instead of reminding ourselves that we are good people who have more to be proud of than a status, we look down on ourselves just as harshly if not more harshly than society does to us. And something to pay close attention to is not to blame ‘society’. It’s each and every one of us. Whether it’s consciously or not, it should be our duty to stop asking others what they do, or judge them by what car they drive. We have to take the blame for ourselves.

Once someone is looked down upon and adapts the psychology that they can’t be successful and aren’t successful, we begin to have self-doubt, a lack of confidence, and sometimes more severe mental stresses including depression.

So what is success? Sometimes we can go through our whole lives without realizing what success is to us because we’re too worried about what success is to society. We are told we’re in school to get an education, but why? To get a job, have a family, and to one day retire and live comfortably. So first of all we can rule out this form of success in relation to happiness right away because you must know at least one person who is well on their way to that lifestyle but they aren’t happy. Second of all, education is so much more than to get a job but we don’t realize that till later in life. Third of all, this is so broad a vision that it’s literally impossible to feel this success. You’ll be chasing it till the day you die because we aren’t to the point in technology where we can view our lives from a third-person view and say, yeah I’m successful as I review it from a different perspective. We live out everyday and every moment and everyday we’re getting closer to that house, that job, that family… it won’t be enough.You should have your own vision of success and it should be as specific to you as you can make it. Step away from what people expect and really think about it. Sometimes it can be something that you can accomplish everyday and eventually all those little successes turn into a lifetime of happiness.

Let me tell you about my altered (shortened) view of success and then I’ll get into if drug addicts can be successful. As most of you know I work in marketing remotely for a fitness company called Sworkit. We are a fitness app rated in highest regards by ACSM and we were given the largest tech deal by Shark Tank in February of 2016. We only have 6 people on our team but we have 24 million downloads. I live decently. I have a beautiful apartment and I have a wonderful education that I’m very fortunate to have.

So am I successful to you? Now do I consider myself successful? I feel successful when I am talking to someone that has never heard of the app and they tell me that this could really help them to exercise because they are cautious about working out in front of other people. I feel successful when someone tells me they lost weight using the app and they continue to check in with me to share their progress because they know I care. I feel successful when I make someone on my team’s life easier by taking on a project and taking it off their shoulders.

If you think success stops from the day one of getting your dream job you’re going to be in for a consequently up and down rollercoaster of a ride in life. Next you’ll chase that promotion and the next one and the next.

Notice how I correlated success with my career instantly? You probably didn’t even think twice about that did you? Because that is what we’re taught to believe. Success is your career. I also listened to another amazing TED talk by David Brooks. He asked the question, are you living for your resume or your eulogy (seeking connection, community, and love)? So what are you living for? Have you thought of this? Have you found the balance of what you’re living for? If you haven’t rethink your view of success. Think of other ways in which success is possible.

My long-term die-hard vision of success is to tell my family’s story. It’d be a successful life to tell how my dad and mom taught me to always be kind, to not judge others, to hold myself responsible for every action I take, and to get through any hardship that comes my way and to do it with honesty. I want to help people to see a different side of addiction and to never let my dad’s disease live in vain. I also want to raise a family and carry on the love my family has given to me to my kids.

I want to tell the true beauty of living with two parents that love you harder than anything in life all while struggling with addiction, mental and physical diseases, and a lifetime of hardships. My parents are unfairly judged by society as unsuccessful.

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My parents are the most successful people you’ll ever meet.

They have filled my heart and my whole being with so much love and have sacrificed every last ounce of their being to love me. Even on my darkest days and even if I did something horrific I know they’d go to battle for me.

I think any parent would agree that for their child to feel the love that I feel from them, it’d be the greatest success of their lives.

Yes drug addicts can be successful. Maybe my dad will never be a 6-figure doctor and maybe he’s not on the cover of the newspaper for something to brag about, but there’s nothing you can do or say to take away that my dad is the most loving parent who would walk across the planet if I said I needed him. He deserves to feel that success. He might not ever be looked at by society by this success, but it’s the most important one we’re all living for as parents.

Does Drug Addiction Make People Failures?

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I recently listened to a TED talk called, “A kinder gentler philosophy of success,” by Alain de Botton. He talked about our modern ideas of success and failure. He talked about our governments ideal view of meritocracy and what stuck with me was the hidden validation that meritocracy is associated with.

Meritocracy Governance by elites who deserve to wield power because they possess education and skills. On one hand this is great. It means that people that work hard, are charismatic, and who try really, really hard will get ahead in life and therefore be successful. They deserve to be successful because of their merit. But then when we look at the other end of the spectrum this means we also believe that people who can’t work as hard, who may have made mistakes in their lives are unsuccessful and deserve to be unsuccessful. But as compassionate people who understand that we all have hardships and mental and physical ailments, merit is a dangerous way to judge success.

Success is favored by prosperity of wealth and job status in our society, and when we’re on a path where that path doesn’t look attainable, it’s very easy to spiral continually downward. And then society looks down upon us. And instead of reminding ourselves that we are good people who have more to be proud of than a status, we look down on ourselves just as harshly if not more harshly than society does to us. And something to pay close attention to is not to blame ‘society’. It’s each and every one of us. Whether it’s consciously or not, it should be our duty to stop asking others what they do, or judge them by what car they drive. We have to take the blame for ourselves.

Once someone is looked down upon and adapts the psychology that they can’t be successful and aren’t successful, we begin to have self-doubt, a lack of confidence, and sometimes more severe mental stresses including depression.

So what is success? Sometimes we can go through our whole lives without realizing what success is to us because we’re too worried about what success is to society. We are told we’re in school to get an education, but why? To get a job, have a family, and to one day retire and live comfortably. So first of all we can rule out this form of success in relation to happiness right away because you must know at least one person who is well on their way to that lifestyle but they aren’t happy. Second of all, education is so much more than to get a job but we don’t realize that till later in life. Third of all, this is so broad a vision that it’s literally impossible to feel this success. You’ll be chasing it till the day you die because we aren’t to the point in technology where we can view our lives from a third-person view and say, yeah I’m successful as I review it from a different perspective. We live out everyday and every moment and everyday we’re getting closer to that house, that job, that family… it won’t be enough.You should have your own vision of success and it should be as specific to you as you can make it. Step away from what people expect and really think about it. Sometimes it can be something that you can accomplish everyday and eventually all those little successes turn into a lifetime of happiness.

Let me tell you about my altered (shortened) view of success and then I’ll get into if drug addicts can be successful. As most of you know I work in marketing remotely for a fitness company called Sworkit. We are a fitness app rated in highest regards by ACSM and we were given the largest tech deal by Shark Tank in February of 2016. We only have 6 people on our team but we have 24 million downloads. I live decently. I have a beautiful apartment and I have a wonderful education that I’m very fortunate to have.

So am I successful to you? Now do I consider myself successful? I feel successful when I am talking to someone that has never heard of the app and they tell me that this could really help them to exercise because they are cautious about working out in front of other people. I feel successful when someone tells me they lost weight using the app and they continue to check in with me to share their progress because they know I care. I feel successful when I make someone on my team’s life easier by taking on a project and taking it off their shoulders.

If you think success stops from the day one of getting your dream job you’re going to be in for a consequently up and down rollercoaster of a ride in life. Next you’ll chase that promotion and the next one and the next.

Notice how I correlated success with my career instantly? You probably didn’t even think twice about that did you? Because that is what we’re taught to believe. Success is your career. I also listened to another amazing TED talk by David Brooks. He asked the question, are you living for your resume or your eulogy (seeking connection, community, and love)? So what are you living for? Have you thought of this? Have you found the balance of what you’re living for? If you haven’t rethink your view of success. Think of other ways in which success is possible.

My long-term die-hard vision of success is to tell my family’s story. It’d be a successful life to tell how my dad and mom taught me to always be kind, to not judge others, to hold myself responsible for every action I take, and to get through any hardship that comes my way and to do it with honesty. I want to help people to see a different side of addiction and to never let my dad’s disease live in vain. I also want to raise a family and carry on the love my family has given to me to my kids.

I want to tell the true beauty of living with two parents that love you harder than anything in life all while struggling with addiction, mental and physical diseases, and a lifetime of hardships. My parents are unfairly judged by society as unsuccessful.

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My parents are the most successful people you’ll ever meet.

They have filled my heart and my whole being with so much love and have sacrificed every last ounce of their being to love me. Even on my darkest days and even if I did something horrific I know they’d go to battle for me.

I think any parent would agree that for their child to feel the love that I feel from them, it’d be the greatest success of their lives.

Yes drug addicts can be successful. Maybe my dad will never be a 6-figure doctor and maybe he’s not on the cover of the newspaper for something to brag about, but there’s nothing you can do or say to take away that my dad is the most loving parent who would walk across the planet if I said I needed him. He deserves to feel that success. He might not ever be looked at by society by this success, but it’s the most important one we’re all living for as parents.

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

 

 

Why I am not worried if my dad will relapse again

It has been almost five years since my father has been in prison and sometime in August he will be released.

It is something that is a bit bittersweet. Of course I have not been able to see my dad often in the past five years, I cannot call him whenever I want, and I just really miss him being around. While in prison, I know that my father has medical attention, he has a place to sleep, and he is eating (and I know he has been eating because he has gained so much weight). Most importantly I know that he is not getting high.

I am going to support him 100% and I will cheer him on everyday. I have faith in my father but I do understand that it will be a struggle for him everyday. My dad has forgot what freedom feels like and my dad has only heard about, but has not seen, the painstaking increase in heroin addicts. It is going to be something he will have to confront and an urge he is going to have to fight everyday and I understand that.

I will support my dad and I will think of him every moment I am not with him. Unlike how I dealt with his addiction when I was thirteen, I now know that I have nothing to do with the choices he makes. I know that it is not a measurement of how much he loves me. It is a power he needs to reach inside himself and grab. There are going to be a million and one reasons he will be discouraged upon his release and I know I am not one of them and that is the most I can do.

If my dad were to relapse I would not hate him. I would not resent him. I would be disappointed. A little heartbroken. I would not be an enabler. I would be honest wit him and tell him I cannot allow his lifestyle to interject with mine. But I would let him know that he is always going to be my father and I will always love him. And we as a father-daughter relationship stand for a rare family love that people rarely find in life or at least until later.

My dad and I are meant to set an example to the youth and young parents who are addicts, that the choice of painkillers and drugs are not meant to destroy a relationship like a father-daughter have (or any other relationship). Time will tell whether the next chapter ends well or bad. The chapters only end when I give up and that won’t happen.

No Drugs: School Zone

Mon, 26 Feb 2007 

I haven’t stopped crying for 5 hours… this isn’t healthy I just want him back in my life and he doesn’t want to and I have to realise it:/ nothing is going to be the same again. I don’t even want to live anymore.

Continue reading No Drugs: School Zone