I’m angry. I am angry at the War on Drugs. Why am I angry at the War on Drugs you ask? I’m angry at the multi-billion dollar inadequate rehab industry, I’m angry with pill pushing doctors and Big Pharma. I’m angry with the corrupt FDA. I’m angry with insurance companies. I hate the legal system and the way it dehumanizes sick people. But mostly I’m mad at myself for I am apart of the War on Drugs.
Let me explain. I’m the mother of an opiate addict. There are quite a lot of us out here these days. And from what I can tell most of us are pretty upset. We did everything the books and magazines told us to do. We were the Girl Scout leaders and Sunday school teachers and soccer team moms. We did everything so right and it all turned out so wrong. We were told we could have it all; the career, husband, and family. And for a whole bunch of us it didn’t turn out so well.
I have to say, I’m one of the lucky ones. I haven’t had to bury my child–yet. There are many thousands of moms out there who have suffered this ultimate loss and I’m grateful that, for today, that isn’t me. And for now my daughter is not using. And next week she will turn herself in to the county jail for a three month sentence for attempting to steal a $20 item. Now that doesn’t sound like something that merits jail time, right? It normally isn’t but if you’re an addict with any kind of record the state is out for blood and their job is to make you suffer. And most addicts inevitably end up crosswise with the law. And there is no mercy after the first offense no matter how minor it may be. And jail is a great place to learn how to be a better addict.
Let me be clear, I don’t condone stealing. At all. Or drug or alcohol use for that matter. But what I see is a system that is broken. And for those that have that tricky genetic trait that makes coming into contact with one of those substances the beginning of a ruthless disease there is not much help.
So why am I mad at myself? Because I still suffer when my (now adult) child suffers. I will do every single second of that jail time with her while trying to hold down a job and remain sane. I’m mad because I’ve done 8 years in Al-Anon and the promises of that venerable fellowship have not worked for me. I’m angry because my higher power hasn’t granted me that peace that was promised.
I know that 12 step programs work for some. I know some true walking “miracles in recovery.” But it seems to me that these programs fail most people. My daughter and I are both veterans of many meetings for many years. But there are still too many sick and suffering addicts and families out here that don’t get that miracle. The gold standard isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.
So where is the magical answer? Where is the compassion that diabetics and people with cancer (often caused by poor habits) get? Where is the help that so many need and cannot get? I have no answers but we need to find them. There should not be one more OD or arrest and incarceration due to addiction. There is too much money and talent in this country for there not to be a better system of dealing with this destructive and fatal illness. I have heard the platitudes. Where are the answers? Where is the action?
Are “jails, institutions, and death” the only way out? I hope not but nothing I’ve seen or done has made one iota of difference in my daughter, my family, or my community. I volunteer on drug abuse awareness committees. I am on the board of directors of a non-profit organization devoted to changing the way opiates are prescribed. I’ve hosted talk radio shows about addiction from the family viewpoint. It makes no difference. I have too many friends who have lost their children to this epidemic that rages on and on.
I am not angry with my addicted daughter. This is not her fault. I’m not angry with the other parents out here who are dealing with this as best they can. I’m angry with the system that devours sick people in the name of greed and profit. And I’m angry with me because this is one thing that supermom can’t fix and I know it.