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[ Opinion ]

A Letter to Those Who Continue to Perpetuate the Stigma of Addiction

Over the last few days I have seen several posts on Facebook about Narcan (naloxone HCl) and the misunderstanding by so many on what this drug really is. The common theme of these posts appears to be the outrage some feel when they think that Narcan is free when chemotherapy is not. I’d like to clear this matter up, but I’d also like to explain to anyone who is under this misguided belief how horrible addiction is while you are watching someone you love suffer.

NARCAN IS NOT FREE. Just like other drugs this drug is often purchased under insurance coverage and typically there is a co-pay. Furthermore the organizations that do give Narcan away have paid for it through donations and grants. They have spent numerous man-hours raising the funds to purchase this life-saving drug. No different than any other organization that raises funds for other diseases.

My suggestion is, rather than continue to do harm to a community of people who have already been harmed enough go out there and raise funds for the medications and treatments you feel are “worthy.” Your negative posts have done nothing for those other diseases. Dedicate your free time advocating like I have and then maybe you’ll see change! At the very least people may start looking at you like a decent human being again!

NARCAN IS NOT A TREATMENT FOR ADDICTION. Narcan is a lifesaving medication that is administered to save a life. It does not treat the disease of addiction. It is no different than any other medications First Responders and EMT’s use to save a life. For example if a person is suffering from what First-Responders believe is a heart attack they may give them oxygen or glyceryl trinitrate, and if someone is overdosing they give them Narcan. These wonderful souls are in the business to save lives, not stand by and watch someone die regardless of the disease that person is battling. Thank God for that.

In a perfect world healthcare would be free. At the very least prescriptions and treatment for all diseases would be affordable. But we do not live in a perfect world. From where I am sitting we live in a very unforgiving and often ugly world. A world where people cast judgement and spread hate. A world where someone struggling with a devastating disease such as addiction is forced into silence and shamed for being sick.

TO THE PEOPLE WHO SAY SUCH HORRIBLE THINGS ABOUT THOSE WHO SUFFER FROM ADDICTION:

Do you even know what your awful posts do to those who either struggle with addiction or what it does to the family members that love them? No, I’m assuming you don’t, because maybe if you did you would STOP!

YOU SEE I AM THE PARENT OF A CHILD WHO SUFFERED WITH THE DISEASE OF ADDICTION.

Do you know what it is like to watch your child struggle with something that is so much bigger than them? Do you know how heartbreaking it is to watch them beg for help and not be able to provide them that help? Do you know how gut-wrenching it is to be the parent that has to look into that child’s eyes and say, “I’m sorry sweetheart, but there are no treatment facilities that can help you today” That today like yesterday there are no beds available. Do you honestly know the pain of watching your child walk out the door never knowing  if you will ever see them again?

Do you know the anxiety and fear we live with every day? The unexpected knock on the door, or the blocked number trying to call are all things  parents of children suffering from this horrible disease come to dread. We lay in bed every night so afraid of “that” phone call. Because even though we don’t want to think it we know addiction often does not end well. We know in the pit of our stomach that we may have to bury our child. And you know what? We end up dealing with this all alone because people like you perpetuate hate and stigma.

MY DAUGHTER SAW YOUR POSTS AND HEARD YOU WHISPER AND LAUGH AT HER. DO YOU CARE THAT YOU MADE HER CRY?

Do you know that I saw those posts too? Do you know you also made me cry? Do you know how hurtful some of your words are?

“LET THEM ALL DIE, THEY ARE JUST WORTHLESS JUNKIES!” “WHY SHOULD WE USE NARCAN TO SAVE THEIR LIVES?”

Let me ask you this, the person who smoked and then develops lung cancer, are they worth saving? Or how about the diabetic who continues to eat sugar and ends up on dialysis? Should we just let them die too? Would you get on social media and say such awful things about them? No, I never see those posts!

“JUNKIE”

That “junkie” is my daughter, they are always somebody’s daughter or son, brother or sister, mother or father, aunt or uncle. They are loved by someone. Do you think they like being sick all the time? Do you think we have not suffered enough? What did your angry hate filled posts solve? Did it change anything? The only thing that post did was push those who suffer with addiction and the family members that love them further and further into silence and feelings of shame.

STOP!

You see it’s really easy to sit behind your phone, tablet, or computer and spew your hate. Maybe you believe this disease will never affect you, but if it ever does I hope you never have to hear the hurtful things that I have. Take comfort in knowing that I would never say those awful things about your loved one. No, I unlike you have the guts to stand up in front of large crowds and defend those who suffer from this disease. In spite of the immense scrutiny I face every day I still to do it because I believe EVERY life matters. I am actually out there trying to make change, because I know what it feels like to lose a child to an overdose and I fight not to save mine, but to save yours!

Jennifer Kelly

#justicesfight

#endthestigma

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