February 28, 2017

Ready, Set, A(ddi)CTION

Addiction. Heroin. Overdose.

Three words that swirl around in conversation in today's world- but somehow don't rock our youth the way they should.

We always spoke candidly about addiction in my house when I was growing up. My cousin was and is an addict. Looking back, I'm so thankful that addiction wasn't brushed under the rug in my family. Learning the ugly truths and reality of it at a young age scared me to death. I was a total band geek, but seeing first hand how drugs ruined lives killed any curiosity I might've had.

Today, kids aren't afraid of anything. Society tells us not to punish them- let them get their feelings hurt or God forbid, let them lose at something. Our children are growing up thinking that anything they do can be undone and that nothing they do is ever really wrong. That, my friends, is bullshit.

Kids today aren't just smoking pot by the tennis courts- they are skipping school and shooting heroin in hotel rooms...and dying. There is no 'undo' when you die. This is real life and real death. This is happening right now and I feel like most parents are completely ignoring the giant, purple elephant in the room.

My child would never do that...

God bless. I hope not. But if we don't talk about these issues with our babies- they won't know the real truth about addiction. Hell, maybe we all need to be educated a bit on addiction.

Allow me to enlighten and horrify you, all at the same time...

A young girl I've known since she was around 11 years old is now a 19 year old heroin addict. Her name is Emerson Gardner. She has overdosed a half-dozen times- the most recent time almost dying. It took three Narcan shots to bring her back.

I argue with myself over the use of Narcan. Yes, it saves lives and that is incredible. If it was my baby laying there overdosing, I would want sell my soul to the devil to save her. But how many times can you push 'undo'? 

Once discharged from the hospital, Emerson went back to her dealer, purchased more heroin and shot up, yet again. Today her current routine is to wake up, get high, go about her day, get high, then go to bed. More often than not, she sleeps all day and stays up all night getting high.

In answering my questions, Emerson hopes young kids and curious adults will hear her story and understand how serious this drug is. She wants to help others...but she isn't ready to help herself. {Maybe reading her own story in my words will help her, too.}

"I started with just snorting pills when I was about 14, but as I started doing it more and more, I slowly started getting introduced to more and more people who then introduced me to heroin... it was cheaper & easier to get... I switched from snorting to shooting 5 days before my 15th birthday. I remember it like it was yesterday"

My heart stopped. When I was 15, I was scared to put eyeliner on my waterline, much less a needle into my body! 

When Emerson was 16, she lost her father. But admittedly, this only gave her one more excuse to go further down the heroin rabbit hole.

Now I know what you're thinking. Well, she lost her father...what was her home life like? How did she grow up? And again...this wouldn't happen to my child because I'm not raising them like that,

But I can promise you- you are. Addiction doesn't discriminate- it can choose your son, your sister or your neighborhood best friend. This young girl didn't grow up all that different that I did. {Except she was a cheerleader and I was a band nerd.} Emerson didn't want for much but wasn't a trust fund child either. She grew up with a loving mother who instilled a work ethic in all of her children. A mother who was there at her kids' games, teacher conferences, etc. She was there for them when they needed her. Emerson had a horse- she played sports- did well in school...she was the girl next door- who is addicted to heroin. To look at her, even during her second or third year as an addict, if you didn't know you wouldn't have had a clue that this beautiful, curly haired teenager was putting needles into her veins and filling her body with poison.

What is her mother doing now? Has she tried to get her help?

She is doing everything she can to save her daughter's life. The problem with addicts is that unless he or she wants saving...there is almost nothing we can do to help them. We can provide them with knowledge- provide them with detox and rehab- but unless they want it and are willing to fight for it not against it, it won't work.

Emerson says she wants help- but can't handle the withdraws. However, she has had help. She has been in detox/rehab programs and gotten through the withdraws but still couldn't kick heroin out of her life. Her mother provided a car for her to work and return to school. {She recently allowed her dealer access to her car in exchange for heroin- he totaled it.} Her mother put her on a weekly budget- to make it that much more difficult for her to make the purchase. But again- if the addict doesn't want to quit, they won't...no matter how many roadblocks we toss in their path. 

What can we do?

Truly, I have no idea. But talking about it is a start. #talkittodeath 

It doesn't matter how old your babies are- communication is a beautiful thing. {Your children are not to young. This poison is in our middle schools, not just high school.} Teach your babies about the scary, scary truths. Put a face on addiction and help them to understand that one time, one try can ruin the rest of their lives.

My hope is to help at least one person. Maybe reading this will help one addict realize that they can fight this...or maybe it will help one parent realize they need to talk with their children about addiction...or maybe it will deter one teenager from trying a drug their friends have been using. 

Please take a moment & talk about addiction with your family- don't let this topic get brushed under the rug! 

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