I just listened to a radio piece about a young woman who died from a heroin overdose. In the story, her father was explaining why he went public with her cause of death, posting on Facebook and listing that information in her obituary. The father, Tom, told Melissa Block from NPR that he could not understand why anyone would not want to help by telling the truth, letting the world know that people are dying from drug addiction.
I have lost a family member to drug addiction. We’ve seen relatives and friends die from cancer and heart disease, and no one raises an eyebrow when that information is shared. “Oh, I had an aunt who died of cancer,” they will say. But tell them about a 24-year-old who died of a heroin overdose. Suddenly they see that person as a criminal. That’s the problem with the War on Drugs. Since 1971, more money has been spent on criminal enforcement than on treatment. With so many “drug offenders” crowding prisons, it is obvious that tactic hasn’t worked.
Drugs, including legal ones like alcohol and tobacco, when abused have the potential to destroy you and your family. I have seen what happens to families where someone has an addiction. Its effects last for generations and beyond. Naturally, many people can control their use of drugs. That’s not to say that you could spot an addict. Many addicts easily hide their addiction. An alcoholic doesn’t have to be a drunken fool lying in the gutter. He or she could be sitting next to you in church. They just happen to have a disease, like diabetes or cancer. But like any disease, going untreated can result in death. I’m not kidding here.
Tobacco-related deaths far outnumber deaths due to alcohol abuse, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. But there are still too many drug-related deaths, most of which could be prevented with proper treatment. The girl in the radio story went to rehab repeatedly. But it wasn’t enough. The lesson to be learned here is to avoid drugs as much as possible. If you decide to drink, recognize when you’ve had too much. If you find yourself getting drunk every time you drink, seek help. As for heroin and other hard drugs, just do your best to stay away. If your friends try to get you to use them, find new friends. You know what they do to people. And anyone who does not care about you is not your friend.
I know some people who abuse drugs. I wish they would stop. I know that nothing I say will change their desire for that high, and they have to get themselves some help. Tom, the father in the story, talked about everything he tried to help his daughter, and he tried everything. That girl was blessed but unfortunate. She had a family who cared about her, but also a dealer wanting to make a buck. I suggest you listen to the story, and if you know someone struggling with addiction, tell them to get some help. I am through with holding my tongue. If people don’t want to hear what I have to say, they can walk away. I don’t care whom I offend. Your life is precious, and you are throwing it away. Someone ought to make you feel really, really uncomfortable about this.