“LET THEM DIE.”
“WHY ARE WE CALLING 911.”
“THEY ARE JUST A USELESS JUNKIE.”
“THEY WILL NEVER CHANGE.”
“WHAT A WASTE.”
The above sayings are all things I have read and heard in regards to addicts who have overdosed or those of whom are living in active addiction, in general. These are not the only things that I have seen and heard said. Some people get even more vicious than this and it utterly breaks my heart.
You see, these people that some are wishing death upon, the ones that so many are questioning why someone tries to step in and to save their life, are still people, too. Just because we make a mistake doesn’t mean we are no longer human. I think a lot of people have lost sight of this because the actions committed by addicts during active addiction breed a lot of negative emotions. Hate is one of these emotions.
Hatred is bred as a direct result of the actions taken by those in active addiction against those they love. When someone is in active addiction, they typically lie and steal in order to get their fix. They completely ignore any feelings that may be hurt because they have one goal. That goal is to do whatever it takes in order to feel “normal”.
You see, once you have been in active addiction for so long, it no longer becomes a quest to get high. Your body becomes dependent on the substance you are abusing in order to function. In the beginning, an addict may use to numb the pain but after prolonged usage, the body builds up a tolerance. Now the addict is no longer using to numb himself, but is using to just ‘get by.’
I’m not excusing this behavior, so please do not take this as that. I am not looking for anyone to feel sorry for the addict because pity, just like hate, will not fix the issue. This is where the lines of feelings get skewed. Those affected automatically think that if they don’t harbor negative emotions for the addict then they have to feel sorry for them or have to support their decision to remain in active addiction. The truth is that this subject is nowhere near being so black and white.
The thing is that the hatred that is bred on this subject is partially what is killing those in active addiction.
Fact: Once someone who is addicted to opiates stops taking opiates, it takes ninety days for their brain to be able to make dopamine again. Dopamine is the chemical in your brain that is responsible for those happy feelings. Naturally, we have been given three opiate receptors. The job of these receptors is to release certain percentages of dopamine when we consume certain things. Eating chocolate releases a small percentage. Drinking soda releases a small percentage. When an addict does heroin, one hundred percent of their dopamine is expelled. Now, the body is depleted of dopamine. In order to be able to make more dopamine, the body adapts by creating a nodule that attaches itself to one of the already existing receptors. This means that the body is creating more dopamine than it is naturally designed to do. By the time someone decides to quit using heroin, their body has already adapted to their use and they are making way more dopamine than they naturally are supposed to produce. By denying the body of heroin, the body can no longer sustain the dopamine levels it needs to when consuming something naturally. This is where the ninety day boot comes into play.
So, for ninety days, the addict, who is now in recovery, is unable to make dopamine. Therefore, they are unable to be happy. Where as this should be a decision to be celebrated, more times than not the people whom the addict hurt instead make it a point to let their hurt feelings be known. This in turn kicks someone who is already down. Those affected by the addict feel they have the right to let their feelings be known and don’t understand what is going on in the recovering addict’s mind. Rather than taking the time to try and understand what is going on, they choose to make this a time to let their feelings be known.
I get it, I know how this sounds and I am not trying to criticize. The individuals affected by an addict have every right to make their feelings known. I also understand that they want them to be known sooner rather than later, in case they don’t get the chance. The point that is missed more often than not is that these feelings being brought to light are essentially what may cause the addict in recovery to relapse.
You see, since an addict cannot make dopamine, they are essentially living depressed in the beginning of their recoveries. They feel isolated and alone. They try to turn to the people that they hurt while in active addiction, but they typically get zero support because these people are still hurt from the acts that were committed while in active addiction. When they feel they are alone, and feel they have zero support, the addict in recovery ends up turning back to the only thing that has brought them any comfort – their drug of choice. Hence why relapse in opiate addiction typically happens within the first ninety days of quitting.
It also doesn’t help that people they don’t even know are saying that people in active addiction can never change or to just let them die. Reading the statements that I have already shared, as well as worse ones, are enough to make even a secure person who is in recovery, feel depressed.
It all boils down to having compassion for fellow human beings.
As I have said, I get that people affected by addiction have an extreme feeling towards those whom are addicts. Does this mean that we really need to be so negative in response to those who are still in active addiction? Everyone wants to solve this problem but people willing to offer up solutions are far and few between. In fact, a lot of the time, it’s the addicts in recovery who are the ones trying to find solutions to this issue. The problem with that is the moment they start to speak out about addiction and their own personal struggle, nine times out of ten they are insulted and berated due to their pasts. These people could have YEARS of clean time under their belt, yet, people still find it necessary to put them down.
What everyone misses is this is a problem that needs to be addressed by all sides of addiction, not just those in recovery. The stories of those affected need to be shared as well and not handled by just offering insults thrown by those whom have been affected. Stigma is what is killing addicts and the stigma only worsens by people insisting that it’s impossible to recover and they should be left to die.
I, myself, am living proof that we do recover. I will be celebrating five months clean on the 8th of April, but this is just a drop in the bucket when compared to the rest of my life. I know that anything can happen and I never take my recovery for granted. What I do practice is taking everything day by day, hour by hour, moment by moment. I know all too well what happens when you let your egao take center stage while in recovery.
One thing that I can promise is to devote my life to helping those like me and those who are struggling the same as I once did. It costs me zero dollars to donate my time to listen to someone who is struggling with finding recovery. It costs zero dollars to be an ear. It also cost zero dollars to avoid saying negative things when someone overdoses or someone loses their struggle with addiction.
Hate bred by addiction will never fix the problem. What will begin to fix this issue is everyone coming together and working towareds solutions.