What Society Thinks VS. Who He is to Me 

I wrote this about a year before my dad died. I was going to change this so that it is past tense since now he is gone now. I think the message is even more clear as you read below how much help people like my dad really need before they are gone too and writing is the only thing that keeps another broken heart going. I have been told I don’t know how to ask for help. But that doesn’t mean that inside I was literally exhausted inside begging and screaming for something to make everything a little bit easier.

IMG_8330.JPG

I looked people in the eyes and they ask, “How is your dad?” and it made me a little bit angry because it’s as if I could paint it black and white. Not good was never enough to describe how “not good” it was. And so even though sometimes I’d lie and say, he’s doing okay now, I knew I was always one call away from losing him. It made me angry because no matter what my answer was it wouldn’t change how much that person understood. What I really wanted was someone to shake me and say, “Let’s go see your dad. I want to feel your pain.”

An addict needs to want help before they can get help. My dad was begging for help. Unfortunately, he thought the only help he deserved was to stop being a burden to the world.

Here’s My Dad What Society Thinks vs. Who He is To Me

dad prison

For the first 9 months of 2016, the number of confirmed cases of unintentional opioid overdose deaths was 1,005, with an estimated additional 392 to 470 deaths.

Since Massachusetts began the pilot program seven years ago, there have been more than 2,500 reported overdose reversals.

My dad counts for 4 of those 2,500 reported

He doesn’t even know that I know that, but if it weren’t for Narcan, I would have already buried him.

In 1992, my dad was in prison for crimes he committed under the influence

In 2007 my dad was on the front page of the local newspaper for assault

In 2010 my dad was sentenced to prison for kidnapping, assault, and burglary

In 2016 my dad was released and overdosed 4 times

What does the future hold for my dad?

My dad, by society label, is a criminal

But this is who my dad is to me

The man who wrote me a letter every week to tell me how much he loved me.

The man who taught me how to ride a bike, to ice-skate, to play softball, and to stick up for myself.

And for the things he couldn’t teach me, he made sure someone did.

Singing lessons, dance lessons, math tutors, and appointments at makeup salons to learn the right way to do makeup.

The man that laminated every award I won in school and kept them in a book.

The man that took me to a Britney Spears, Shakira, Missy Elliott and Beyonce concert.

The man who cemented a basketball court in our backyard because I wanted to learn to play but didn’t want to join the team.

The man who sat by my bedside all night and held my hand saying every single great quality I had when my first boyfriend broke my heart.

The man that would come to my high school and leave little notes and flowers in my car window to let me know he cares.

The man that cried the first time he saw me in a prom dress.

My dad has always been my hero. He is just too sick for us to appreciate that together.

The two sides of my dad made me completely aware of people struggling with identity. No one is completely evil. No one deserves to be treated by what they are labeled as. If it weren’t for my dad, I wouldn’t love as hard, or be as compassionate to those in need, or an understanding to those with a broken past.

Some could say my dad is an immigrant who deserves to be deported. But I say my dad is the light of my life, my reason for being, and the only person to keep me strong when I want to give up.

Addiction is an issue that needs extreme attention, especially for kids that are trying to understand their parents’ disease as I struggled to do for so many years. I was fortunate that my dad can fight so hard to always get back on his feet, but I know there are addicts that can’t. It’s not their fault and as a child of an addict, I need to be the voice to say we can we will and we have learned to love and understand those with addiction.

If you know a parent that is struggling with addiction or a child that is witnessing addiction and needs help, please let them know I am their voice, that I am there for them, and that I am always here to talk.


My dad was my best friend and to me- a teddy bear. I don’t have all the answers. I don’t know what the solution is, but I know that along with everyone else we’re begging for a different outcome. It’d be such an honor in my dad’s name that instead of children like me saying my dad will either end up in prison or dead, can really have high hopes on saying that my dad will be okay.

Maybe our way of looking at addiction is wrong.

From my dad’s last phone call you can hear his fear of being put back in prison. It was worse than death. And everyone knew he didn’t need prison to help him change his ways. It’s just not a solution. My dad made his bad decisions when using drugs- not because he was a bad person.

Sign up for the Book Release

Be the first to hear when my book will be released

Click here to get a sneak peek at My Book Release

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.

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?

Processed with VSCO with f2 preset

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.

Does Drug Addiction Make People Failures?

Processed with VSCO with f2 preset

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.

Reunited with my dad after 5 years in Prison

My dad is free and I was able to see him for the first time in 5 years outside of prison walls. I received the phone call from my grandpa.

“Dads lawyer called, he said ‘congratulations, your son will be released tomorrow’.” I couldn’t contain my excitement, and the whole situation didn’t even feel real. I felt as though there was no way it could be real. I immediately left work and rushed to the liquor store to buy the best, most affordable wine I could. Then I rushed over to my dads lawyers office and hugged him for a solid 5 minutes.

It still hadn’t hit me that he would be free in one more day. The anticipation was killing me. I had to work my typical 12 hour day that day (Thursday) but my mind was wandering the whole time. At 8:45PM the host at the restaurant called me outside and it was time to see my dad again.

It didn’t feel real but his hug was so comforting. In Russian he told me how much he loved me and we went inside and I introduced him to every single person who I worked with. Walking inside felt the realist like, wow I have worked here for 3 years and my dad is here for the first time right now. We had a great night talking and catching up and the next day we explored Boston together.

My dad has freedom now. It is a new start. When I look at my dad I do not have anything but love and appreciation for him. I do not ever hold it above his head that he has been absent for the five years because I feel so lucky that he is still alive. I do not blame him for missing things such as my high school and college graduation because I know that he needed these five years to become sober. He was given another chance and when I look at him I want him to be strong.

My dad has to be strong and I know I have no control over that. It is up to him to choose to stay sober but I will be supporting him on every step of that journey. I wouldn’t be where I am today without his support and love and the least I can do is love and support him back. If something were to happen I would not have any regrets. I can only control myself and I can only hope that my dads see the way I live and how happy I am and want to do the same.

So far things are going great. My dad is sober. He is no longer locked away. I no longer have to pay $50 to answer his phone calls and they will not be cut off at 20 minutes. I get to call him first. I am the luckiest girl in the world and I know that. I took a path of staying sober and I can’t imagine if I used my parents sickness as an excuse for my own because if I did I would not be sharing this beautiful reunion with my dad the same way.

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.