Inspired: Letter to Kanye West

I wrote an email to Kanye West and I’m not sure he’ll ever read it. When I get inspired by someone, no matter how famous or not they are, I have to write to them. I feel the burning in my heart and the passion. I know they may never read it, but I have to put it out there just in case. I’ve never had luck with reaching back, not surprisingly, but that’s okay! I got it out on paper, or the screen, so I’m happy to share with others too. I recently listened to Kanye West’s Jimmy Kimmel Interview. If you haven’t listened yet, do it. It’s awesome. Obviously everyone has their own interpretations of things but I felt he spoke to me on another level with everything he said. I’m not going to share the full email I wrote him, but I did share the story of my dad, of course, and I want to share it because I was able to paint our story in a new way. It’s kind of beautiful. What happens in the story of course never changes but the landscape of how to look at it changes with every new perspective someone can give me from it. Isn’t life beautiful like that. It’s also a reminder to form your own happy story about your life, or else no matter what happens in life, you’ll turn it into a bad one instead of a good one. 🙂

 

Kanye West.

I don’t know if you’ll ever read this, but I was listening to your interview on YouTube with Jimmy Kimmel and you mentioned that someone emailed you about committing suicide and you read it. SO.. since I might only get one shot at having this dialogue with you it might be long. And in case you only read this first part the most important thing I want to say is thank you for being the voice that a lot of people are afraid to have. I want to share what I took from what you said and I hope that you do read this and that you know that you really touched my heart.

My dad died this year from opioid addiction. At the end of the interview you said “I don’t know anyone who has f**ked up as much as I have and still be successful so I want to prove that you can get fat you can say the wrong things you can piss off a whole city…”. My dad relapsed when I was 13 and it was really hard because we were best friends and when I say that I mean it. We hung out together more than I hung out with friends and he was the one that took me to go bra shopping, learn how to do makeup, Britney Spears concerts etc. I never would’ve known in my first 13 years he had this struggle because he did so much for me and took me everywhere with him. When he was at the methadone clinic everyday, I didn’t think twice about it. He told me he was sick but this made him feel better and he’d be ok. Ever since his relapsed he struggled. From 13 to 16 he was in and out of jail, switching from crack cocaine to heroin to eventually doctor prescribed pain meds. At 17 he was arrested for a really big crime he did under the influence. I graduated high school and it killed him to not be there. He kept a binder full of my awards LAMINATED and showed it off to his friends like I won an Emmy before he went to prison. Then I went to college and that was tough because I didn’t relate to the kids there. I really wanted him to be there. When I graduated it really crushed him because he missed those 4 years of my life and another milestone. As his pride and joy and the reason for me going to college, he hated he couldn’t be there. In  October of 2015, a few months after my graduation he was released. We both romanticized it. We wanted to take over the world. We wanted to spend every day together. But after 5 years, no way to get a job, and a lot of bills to catch up on, he became severely depressed. He couldn’t get a job with his record and his health condition. He had to be in the streets to make money. He was so scared of ‘messing up’ that I think it really drove him to relapse. I would too if I felt the weight he did on his shoulders. I loved him everyday and we still had that friendship, but he learned to hate himself instead of feel the love I had for him. He only lived for 2 years after he got out. He overdosed 6 times and survived. I’d call the hospital to talk to him afterwards just to tell him I loved him and he’d refuse the phone calls because he thought he was failing me. The love was there but the possibility of being ‘normal’ wasn’t.The last phone call we had, that I recorded and you can listen to on my website, he says he’s sorry he failed me as a father and he hates himself, but he felt like he was the luckiest guy in the world to be on this planet… My dad was 53. He wanted to die every single day. And he told me that. And for a best friend who you care the most about and would give up your entire world for to tell you they no longer want to be on this earth… that’s the hardest thing in the world to hear. And you just cant save people. I wish I could’ve prevented it. I wish I could go back to his childhood, coming to America and being bullied, growing up around the wrong crowd. I wish I could show him the way people remember him now. That he is so loved and has so much to live for.  So when you talked about being strong after being hated, that spoke to me. Because I saw my dad feel so hated and looked down upon by society that I wish everyone felt strength in people telling them they aren’t good enough. To me my dad was successful and I really wish he is looking down, seeing what I’m doing, know it’s because of him and for him, and feel as successful as he was. 

 

 

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

eileen carey.jpg
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.

 

 

mckinley.jpg
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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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 speakingJust 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.

Growing Up with Heroin

steven-wang-352869.jpg

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.

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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Processed with VSCO with f2 preset

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.

Processed with VSCO with f2 preset
Processed with VSCO with f2 preset

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.

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.