I see on public threads a general lack of sympathy or understanding for those suffering from addiction. This doesn’t make me angry. It’s a free country, everyone is entitled to their opinions. Some are ignorant and don’t know anything about Substance Abuse Disorder, some are just trolling assholes, and some have a lot of anger because of the shitty behaviors from addicted loved ones and are not able to “love the addict, not the behaviors”.
Being the mother of a child in recovery I can understand why this frustration and anger exists. I would be full of shit if I said I never wanted to completely throttle my daughter at times, especially while actively using heroin and crack. I also was someone who didn’t know much about addiction until it very directly affected me. I didn’t care much until then. I see both sides. But what I want to show with this post is the domino affect addiction has on almost everyone, so whether or not you understand or “sympathize” with the addict doesn’t really matter in the grand scheme of things. The falling dominoes affect us all in one way or another. Let me show you how.
Susan is a 31 year old who became addicted following a softball injury where she was prescribed Vicodin for pain, and quickly found she couldn’t stop on her own. Her doctor, in fear of losing his license for prescribing with the strict CDC guidelines, cut Susan off immediately from her Vicodin with no real options or guidance of what to do next. Out of desperation Susan turned to the streets which eventually led to a cheaper more accessible alternative; heroin. Susan is a wife, a mother, a daughter and a sibling. This is how her opiate addiction affected everyone around her who knows and loves her, and you; a complete stranger.
Susan’s husband noticed her becoming isolated and distant. A general feeling that something “isn’t right”, but initially he couldn’t quite pinpoint it. Her young children became more and more unruly, and the house became messier. She kept complaining of pain and eventually quit her job. He finally found what he had been dreading discovering for the last year; a syringe and spoon in the back of a bathroom drawer.
Susan’s habit has so far effected her ability to parent her children, her ability to work, and now her marriage is in jeopardy. Her job is having trouble replacing her, and their business is suffering. But this is barely wobbling the dominoes in the grand scheme of things.
Susan’s home life is causing pain to her children and husband. Pain you can’t understand unless you’ve been through it.. If you haven’t yet, at the rate we are going, you will.
Susan was arrested a few times now for larceny from the mall to support her habit now that she has cleaned out her family’s finances, and her husband won’t give her money to support the habit he now knows she has. She had had an OD as a result of tainted heroin, and the EMT’s came and revived her with multiple doses of Narcan. She got a second chance this time.
Her siblings and parents are now well aware of her addiction. Her mother has taken over most of the responsibility for her grandchildren while Susan’s husband tries to keep them afloat financially. He hadn’t paid much mind to their finances as Susan had always handled this. Since her addiction came to his attention, he took over and realized their savings is nearly gone, and most of the credit cards maxed out and the mortgage hasn’t been paid in months. He now is working overtime to try to compensate, so their kids have basically lost both their parents. Susan’s aging, tired mother now has two young ones she is caring for almost all the time. She thought she was done raising children, and as much as she loves her grandbabies, this is exhausting her and affecting her health. She may not be able to care for them much longer. Susan’s husband is an emotional wreck and there’s a good chance if Susan doesn’t overcome her addiction, her kids may end up in the foster care system.
Susan’s siblings, husband, and parents are all at odds over how to handle the situation. It’s deeply hurting them, and some of the relationships will never be repairable due to the arguments over what to do, because dealing with someone in active addiction is never black and white. The dominoes are wobbling a little more but none have dropped quite yet.
Susan’s family has had to get state assistance now due to the lack of her income. They are in foreclosure. Now we are getting to where it starts affecting you, the person who has never met Susan.
I’ll break this down now so you can see just some of the ways addiction alters the community.
A: A small business is in trouble because they lost a valuable member of their team they’ve had trouble replacing. They may have to close.
B: The already overwhelmed foster care system may end up with more children and no where to put them. The workers have more than they can handle for caseloads as it is, and this is how severely abused children slip through the cracks and sometimes don’t survive.
C: The housing market is being effected by yet another foreclosure.
D: More people are being added to state funded programs, and most states can barely afford and manage the volume they have already. Susan and her mother, who is on Medicare, are starting to wrack up some serious medical bills.
E: The judicial system is affected costing taxpayers more money. Susan has had a few arrests lately and court dates. Tax money pays for this.
F: The city she lives in has had to utilize first responders and 4 doses of their depleting supply of Narcan.
And thus starts the dominoes falling.
Even if you are a person who isn’t able to see the pain addiction causes an individual who becomes a slave to a drug that is SO difficult to overcome, surely you can empathize with her family; the innocent children, her husband who didn’t sign up for this, her elderly mother who’s health is in jeopardy, and a family that has been ripped apart due to the fighting. Surely you can see that every individual addicted affects YOU in some way when you really break it down.
It all starts with ONE domino falling. And our country has thousands…we are in trouble.
Make no mistake, the epidemic affects us all.