Facing the reality and ending the stigma- OPIOD Crisis.
I hope this post finds you. I mean, I hope you read this entire post and it changes your perception of addiction. I hope you absorb the very real, harsh reality of our nations OPIOD epidemic. I am sure you have read seen some news reports? Headlines? Articles? Stories of the increasing epidemic of deaths due to overdose? I am pretty sure if you live in the USA, you’ve read that our nation is addicted and dying, steadily, alarmingly rising year after year. If not, I need to inform you. Let’s start with the Purdue Pharma company that I believe started this crisis. They invented the painkiller drug. They released it to the world. However, admitting and knowing that they withheld crucial information about their pain killing drug OxyContin. Oxycodone. (Painkillers). The Highly addictive Opiod was widely prescribed like “candy” to young kids and adults. The Sackler family – Purdue Pharmaceuticals, the makers of this deadly pill, admitted and confessed to their deadly sins. Yes, this family withheld crucial information and down played how highly addictive these medications were. They have admitted that fact. They knew this! But, kept pushing their painkiller. (Why are they not prosecuted to the full extent of the law?) I ask myself that daily. Fact: The Sackler family confesses and admits that they lied to the reps and pharm companies and medical doctors. They were drug pushers in white coats, a 10 billion dollar family empire was being built on their painkilling drugs. They misrepresented the drug, withheld the crucial TRUTH. If taken repeatedly, it is HIGHLY Addictive. In their greed and indifference to human life, they continually promoted the selling this HIGHLY addictive pain killer as NON addictive. In the lawsuits filed, they now take responsibility for withholding that information. That family single handedly has created our nations deadly opiod epidemic. The Sackler family & Purdue Pharma have filed for bankruptcy, Sept. 2019, due to multiple lawsuits. Here is a recent article;
( https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-09-16/purdue-pharma-seeks-bankruptcy-to-short-circuit-opioid-suits-k0luhox6). They stepped forward and at that time committed to funding treatment and recovery support for the addicted. A Day late? A dollar short? Seriously, Did they have a choice? Do they think that is enough? Will that wipe out the opiod epidemic now? No, the damage is already done. The epidemic doesn’t end because they close their chapter and bankrupt their pharmaceutical company. They stopped producing and selling their pills. Our government demanded that. Thousands of people are already dependent and addicted to opiates for years (some decades). Do you think the epidemic ended there? The reality is tragic. The addiction is so strong and intense. They add synthetic Fentanynol (a drug for terminally ill) to the drugs now. Statistics are 4 out of 5 addicts (pill addicts) go to street drugs, specifically, Heroin, to feed their addiction now. The deaths are staggering. Our country is in crisis. The Sackler family should read this. They should go to the Public NSC exhibit and absorb the reality there. The exhibit is eye opening. They are moving it all over the USA to bring awareness to this nationwide epidemic. Perhaps, the Sackler family can take a trip together and witness this exhibit. Then they should read every name that is entered into that data base. (23,000 DEATHS from opiod abuse and overdose).Please Note*** That number is ONLY the people that are registered, into that database there, in person. It also displays 2 connecting walls that are lined with pills, top to bottom. I stood in the middle and cried. What a single Oxy or Vicodin can lead to…Fact: Opiod deaths have surpassed the number of soldiers killed in Vietnam. Let that sink in.
How do I know all this? Our family was crushed, gutted & destroyed by Opiod addiction. I lost my 31 year old son, Michael to a Heroin/Fentynol overdose in 2016. I didn’t even know he took pills. He barely drank, Mikey was a foodie and a gamer. I still wake up someday’s and think this must be a nightmare??? Not my child? He never even abused drugs as a teen? How did this happen to HIM? Sadly, My healthy, vibrant son fell victim to opiod abuse. He had a work injury and was prescribed Vicodin. That is his story. He probably was quickly cut off by his doctor and could not get anymore refills. He was already (secretly) addicted. Statistics report that taking a prescribed opiate for more than 5 days, can result in some individuals forming a dependency or addiction. That may sound insane to some of us. I am here to tell you, plead to you, it happened to him. Within two years he was robbing, stealing and shooting heroin daily. He became a drug addict and desperate. The pills became scarce and street value skyrocketed to $30-$50 per pill! Quickly, He turned to Heroin. I still cringe at the thought of him shooting drugs. He was so “green”. He had no street smarts, no past drug history…. tragically, within 2 years, my son died from a Heroin/Fentyanol overdose. I slowly watched my son suffer and sink into addiction. Heroin ruled his brain, his world, his entire life. He lost everything. Friends, jobs, his newborn daughter. He sold everything for the drug. Then he stole everything for the drug. Michael hid it all from his family. The shame was far too great for him to deal or admit. When I broke into his room and found needles and a suboxeone script, I collapsed to the ground and howled. I knew that heroin would kill him. I felt it in my soul. We begged him to get help. He was always willing. He spent the last 2 years of his life in and out of multiple treatment centers. My son, tried consistently to get clean. Each time he stayed 28 days, detoxed, got clean, only to relapse over and over again. I watched addiction ravage his brain and body and eventually kill him. The monster was much bigger than us. Opiods have hi- jacked this nation. The addict will do anything to get numb. Until it effects you or your child or family directly you can’t relate. I hope you will never have to watch and witness a slow death from drug abuse. You can’t help but worry.. every single moment…will today be the day? We suffered along with him. I miss that vibrant, gorgeous, funny, healthy boy, every single day of my life. There is a large hole in our family, an empty chair, a life cut way too short by addiction. I rally and volunteer and I speak at jails, treatment centers and volunteer my time at sober homes. I give part of my heart to other addicts that are trying to get clean. I busy myself constantly with community service so I don’t sit and dwell on his tragic death. I say his name and honor the life he lived, before drugs. I found a loving, safe support group. (The beading hearts of Long Island) and I have found 100 other mommies that lost their child the same way. We meet weekly for support and we try and make a difference in our little communities. We call it the group, no one wants to be a member of. It’s every parents nightmare and now many live with guilt and shame and grief. That is the price you pay for such a deep love. I’ve heard that almost every person now knows someone who is struggling, addicted or has died because of an overdose. It has taken over five years for congress to acknowledge this increasing, alarming epidemic. Hundreds of parents banging on the steps of congress for help. We have to BEG our government to take steps, acknowledge insurance parameters and step up and save our sickand addicted nation. There is so much more to do. This is not going “away” anytime soon.
I wanted to share abit about my visit to the NSC exhibit at a mall in Nassau County, Long Island. A Dad, named Avi created this awareness memorial. He too lost his son to an overdose. His son Michael’s story is very similar to mine. We all lost, because of opiate addiction. The exhibit transports and moves and travels across the nation. It costs approx. $75,000 to keep it moving. I can’t put a price on honoring my son’s life. When I stood in the middle of the room of pills (22,000) pills with faces on them, ceiling to floor. I stood there and it hit me hard. My son is a statistic. He too, fell victim to opiod addiction and he died because of it. Avi posts a video. In it he says. I believe my son’s death could have been prevented. His son was readily over prescribed for many years. Doctors didn’t even blink on renewals. I see his point. The sad truth is. The addict lives in shame and guilt. Many live in denial and refuse help. Eventually, it rules their entire brain. It is hard for them to save themselves, to recover. They must save themselves! Lord knows we couldn’t. So awareness and stigma must go. We have to keep fighting. I know, I will never stop. I love my son and couldn’t “save” him, but, there are many others that are still sick and suffering. If you hold compassion in your heart, read about addiction and how it is a disease. I know it is hard for some people to understand it. If it was your kid, I bet you would.
Here is a link to the exhibit. I hope it stops near you someday. Don’t miss it. Support our future generations with Love and Compassion!
Thank you for reading today and letting me share my heart and my loss. I don’t live in guilt or shame or seek pity. I am a strong mama bear, fighting for her cub. That’s what he called me… my son Michael…”Mama Bear” I can still hear him lovingly yell that to me. So, in honor of my beloved son Michael. I write this post and my body is filled with grief and loss. As time goes on, I embrace the most important thing of all. LOVE. That love never dies, it endures and it strengthens us all.