Please excuse the rant but writing helps me feel better. This is for two men who are special and dear to me. They are friends but more they are both soldiers of their own battles:
I would like to address the overdoses
Two different men from two different towns told me about two separate events but both with the same outcome. And to both I said this we need to use this to sharpen our pencils because the rest of our life hasn’t been written yet.
And yes, this is sad. Yes, this hurts to see. And yes, there is an entire world out there that has no idea what’s going on.
And they’ll talk about the issue in an uneducated way and judge or diagnose; meanwhile, there is so much they cannot see or understand.
They’ll talk about the need to raise awareness and they’ll talk about the problem. But talk only does so much. Besides, part of the problem is we need to talk about and provide a process of replacement. What I mean is we need to address the needs at hand. We have to replace the need with something that solves the equal weight of an underlying issue. We need to quench thirst, not tell people don’t drink. We need to empower and encourage because shaming or warning or trying to scare someone away does not work. Part of the problem is we need to focus more on solutions instead of always focusing on the problems.
Understand that compulsion and self-harm are response conditions, which is why i call addiction a self-destructive response disorder. In an effort to feel better, we only dig the hole deeper. eventually, the highs are low and the lows are bottomless. After a while, getting high just keeps us out from the bottomless pit. it doesn’t soar us up beyond the atmosphere; it just keeps us one step away from despair.
And yes, I’m angry.
I’m angry for a man and what he had to see last night because to him, this is more than a battle of life and death; to him this is a battle of a his own heart. This is a realization of what “Could” have happened to him. this is an understanding that he has been spared and shown this as evidence. This is about a man who had to find someone, lifeless, so that he can now understand the life he has been given.
I’m angry because the rate of death, due to overdose, is beyond unthinkable. I am angry because people think this is a new problem.
Yeah, I’m angry.
I’m hurting too.
I cried for two men I’ve never met and I cried for two different sets of families that will have to endure this loss. I am sad to think about what their Christmas will look like this year.
I cried for my two friends because they know why this happened and they know how this defies logic and sanity, but still, it hurts and still, we think to ourselves, man, why did you do that?
I have a list of my own losses. I have known men and women alike; and these were good people. They were my friends.
And of course, I’ve heard people wonder how they could do this to themselves. I’ve heard people explain how they talked and tried to help. But in the heat of the moment; nobody understands that death is not a deterrent and in some cases; dying is the ultimate high.
One of my old friends from the neighborhood was about to face his sentence. He was looking at jail time. Not a lot but enough. His life had spiraled down to a point where he had overdosed a few times. He had fallen far from the charismatic man he used to be and rather than see his circumstance as timestamp to change; he pushed the needle in and overdosed three times until death. The third time was the last time because the paramedics reversed him late and he was brain dead, but kept alive, only to donate some of his organs.
He laughed when he initially offered to donate his organs because he was unsure if they could be used due to his case of hepatitis. But if someone could use them; my friend hoped the recipient could use his organs better than my friend did.
However,I choose to see this differently. See, although my friend was an addict and did bad things, yes, he was also still that deep-down charismatic, loving person whom I will always honor and cherish as my friend.
He just didn’t want to go to jail. He didn’t want to endure anymore so he shoved the needle and pushed the plunger. And that was all.
When I worked for an overdose reversal program, I was deployed late night to a hospital as an effort to sit bedside with a young man that had been found in his bedroom. He was unresponsive for an unknown amount of time. The ambulance came and took the patient to the hospital. But the efforts were too late,
I arrived at the hospital and was advised by the nurse’s station that the call shouldn’t have gone out to me.
“It’s good to see you,” said the nurse.
“But he’s gone.”
The young man’s parents were from another county and hardly spoke English. However, I went in to the waiting room to address the family and offer my prayers and support. See, they believed there was still hope. But there wasn’t. The young man was on life-support and the machines beat his heart and pumped his lungs but nothing could spark the ignition in his mind. There was no brain activity.
No matter how much money the family was willing to invest or which hospital they transferred this man to, nothing could bring him back.
The mother, a small woman with almond shaped eyes, hair as black as night, olive skinned, and weeping approached me and asked only one question: Why?
Why did he do this?
No answer I or anyone could give would satisfy the mother.
All I had to offer was a hug because words mean nothing at a time like this
I had seen bodies before in my life but this time it was very different. My recollection of this young man’s body is a still-framed picture in my memory. I remember the way his left foot was uncovered from the blanket and cocked off to the side. I approached to say my prayer at the young man’s bedside.
I chose to see the young man’s face because I had to see his face. I just had to is all I can say because I wanted to feel this. I wanted to feel this pain. I wanted to feel this pain so I could use it and fight back even harder.
The family stood at the doorway of the room and out of respect; I covered the young man’s foot with the blanket and said, “I don’t want his feet to get cold.”
I understood he was gone but who am I to make that decision he is gone? Who am I to determine whether his family’s faith is misused. Instead, I chose to honer their faith and honor a son, brother, nephew, and cousin that never had the chance to make it home.
No one seems to get the thoughts and the compulsion. No one seems to understand the sickness and the sorrowful inner voice and inner monologue is so self-destructive that the need to escape is greater than sanity. No one gets how all of this defies logic and better thinking.
Last Christmas, I reached out to an old friend. I was not sure why her name came to mind or how. I just knew I needed to reach out to her.
I called and found her frantic and crying. “He’s gone,” she said about the father of her child. “He’s gone!”
This is a man I knew with all the talent and all the love in the world. Everyone knew him. Everyone adored him. He was popular. He was welcomed literally everywhere. He had it within him to be financially successful. He could sell condoms to a Nun is what the mother of his child said.
He could do wonderful things but no matter what he did, this man could not get away from himself. The same question came up here too: Why?
I cannot explain the reason as much as I can explain that there is no reason so much as there is a need to satiate or solve an internal itch.
The problem with compulsion is it comes without logical reason. It’s a need. And in cases like addiction; the need becomes physical. In cases like this; the physical need becomes bigger than anything imaginable.
The anxiety of withdrawal and the fear of the sickness is nothing short of incredible. I have sat with people in active addiction more times than I can imagine. And they want to quit. They want to get away from this but they can’t because that undeniable and unavoidable itch keeps calling.
The relief is like a burst, although temporary, and for the moment, the compulsion is solved until the dose wears off—but then the need comes back, and then the anxiety comes back, the cycle begins.
And no, death is not even a distraction—instead, it’s more like a, “What’s the difference,” kind of thing.
I am tired of talking, which is why I prefer action. I do not preach. I reach out. I interact. Whether I am alone with you or against you, I will still do what I do.
I do not find me to be a fit judge of anyone nor am I fit to diagnose or medically treat; instead of judging or any of those things, I make the attempt to listen and help formulate a strategy by removing excuses and creating a positive idea of replacement.
We all live in a “What’s in it for me,” society.
Well. To the best of our ability in our interactions with those in active addiction; I say we need to show and prove what’s in it for them because there is no coercion in the world that would change the mind of an addict. Unless you can solve the riddles, no addict is interested in listening.
I swear, Sundays I am like the preacher from a church because when some of the guests at one of my locations see me, they run away with excuses as to why they will not be in the room at Breakfast with Benny.
I don’t know why some people get it and others don’t. I can’t say I know why I got off easy or why some people suffer longer. All I can say is for me; there is this piece of my thought process which always fears the feelings and the pains and the discomfort of insecurity. I always want the instant gratification because there is a piece of me that believes I will never feel good without it.
And me, I have that voice, which talks to me and puts me in poorly thought out situations. I have that need. I have that desire to find escape. I want to feel better too. I have a beast and my beast talks to me in different dialects to keep me guessing.
I hate what I see. And yes, I’m angry.
But I choose to do something about it. Instead of stand on a soap box and talk; I prefer action because action is the only thing that creates change.
And if that change only happens for one person, —then I say at least change happened for one person.
By the way, my very first overdose client . . .
This person is clean and sober, healthy, and I am grateful to her for who she is.
I make no mistake that yes, this is not just a fight, it’s a war!
Of course there will be damages and casualties.
But there will also be victories
And me, I say our mission is to go out and look for those victories by any means necessary.
Are you with me?
God, I sure hope so