What An Upper-Middle Class, Bay Area Homosexual Journalist and his Drug Addicted Boyfriend Have In Common With Two Suburban, Mormon Grandparents, Their College-Educated Daughter Who Runs An Online Heroin Blog And The Junky Musician From Across The Pond Who’s Posts On Addiction Treatment Have Been Recently Discovered After Penning The Song “Lady Heroin”.

What An Upper-Middle Class, Bay Area Homosexual Journalist and his Drug Addicted Boyfriend Have In Common With Two Suburban, Mormon Grandparents, Their College-Educated Daughter Who Runs An Online Heroin Blog And The Junky Musician From Across The Pond Who’s Posts On Addiction Treatment Have Been Recently Discovered After Penning The Song “Lady Heroin”.

They are all pieces of a much larger puzzle that when looked at from afar starts to reveal how massive all all-encompassing this little “heroin problem” really is. It’s not merely a national problem, or an international problem, but a complete global problem. And I dare say if we ever do start to colonize other planets, it will be an intergalactic problem as well. But if we could see how our puzzle piece fit into the bigger picture, I bet we’d be a lot more confident to represent the piece we play. No matter what your experience with drug and alcohol addiction, your story needs to be told. Because chances are there is another puzzle piece out there who is unwilling to jump into the game and deliver their contribution, because she’s worried she’s too small to matter. But any puzzle without all the pieces is only a broken toy that no one will pay attention to. It will get neglected, ignored and those in charge of putting it all together can fill the gaping holes with anything they want. Anything but the true piece that belongs there to tell the entire story. Despite coming from seemingly far-away cityscapes, both national and international and diverse socio-economical societies, for some reason we all like to believe we are separate. But the world is shrinking, and the War on Drugs is a global war that affects us all.

I know, it’s a long title, but have some patience it will be made clear. The whole thing started like this….

So the other day I get an email from my dad with the article from the Huffington Post. It’s on

Me and My Folks

Me and My Folks

addiction. I’m intrigued because it always makes me happy to know that my family are doing things to better understand me. They have always been so supportive, I love getting their viewpoints on matters like this. They’ve heard mine at length, ad nauseam anyway, so I like to hear theirs. And usually we aren’t very far off from each other. My dad added a little note to write them back and tell them what I thought about it. Here is the article.

And this is my response:

I like it. The US is so far behind the times in current proven addiction treatments it’s

Picture of the Author Johann Hari

Picture of Author and Journalist Johann Hari

laughable and draconian. Some of the more liberal countries employ practices that may seem outrageous to our culture which looks at drug users as sub-citizens who deserve to be punished, but as the article points out, those methods work and ours do not. They never have and they never will. Our most liberal treatment, methadone maintenance, is by and large a for-profit business that aims to keep addicts hooked; large national chains which intentionally keep their cash-cow patients in “treatment” for decades, never allowing or encouraging them to permanently rid themselves of the monkey on their back or releasing them from the social stigma that comes with the the status of “methadone patient” (basically synonymous with junky). Not to mention the fact that despite being considered less dangerous by the general public because it’s taken orally, as opposed to intravenously, it’s actually much more addictive and harder to kick and has been responsible for many, many overdose fatalities. Detox can take up to three times as long, the withdrawal symptoms are decidedly worse and the post-acute withdrawals and subsequent effects on the body can take up to – and in cases of prolonged use, even longer than – a year to recover from.

But, to use a comparison from the article, if methadone is the e-cig of opiate replacement therapies, (meaning, it at least replaces the physical craving with something considered less dangerous) the only legal, viable alternative, Suboxone, is the nicotine patch. It wards off prolonged sickness but does not provide users with anything to diminish craving, leaving addicts to “tough it out” on their own. And worse yet, it’s predecessor, Subutex (pure buprenorphine, a semi-synthetic opioid partial agonist which provides a dose plateau or “ceiling effect”, making it difficult to abuse and impossible to overdose on – unlike methadone which just keeps addicts high at clinic recommended doses and is easy to OD on) was made illegal when pharmaceutical companies came up with the punitory alternative of adding naloxone (a pure opioid antagonist) to buprenorphine, removing any craving-reducing benefits that it originally had. In addition, being a pure antagonist, it has the added castigating effect of throwing addicts into precipitated withdrawals, which are 10x worse than regular withdrawals, by ripping any remaining opiates away from their receptors, essentially throwing the body into shock. This forces addicts to suffer the first part of detox free of aid until their bodies are basically rid of heroin or other opiates, causing many if not most addicts, including myself, to cave before the mandated time off is accomplished, at least for the first few attempts, before they gain the strength to mentally steal themselves up for a hellish 48-72 hours (I say 48-72 and not 24 hours because despite being able to take it 24 hours after last use, due to the naloxone, it’s not strong enough to have much effect on the most sever stage of withdrawal, the first three days).
And this isn’t just some blame-deflecting, excuse-ridden junky speaking who is looking to cast responsibility on a society who is unwilling to provide her with a comfortable, pain-free way out of the giant hole she’s dug herself into. I know the way out ultimately rests on my shoulders, with or without the medical and psychological support provided by our government, and therefor taxpayers (like myself, I might add). But there is plenty of documented evidence (and therefore a liberal-funded documentary 😉 to prove that this was all a very strategic plan courtesy of the United States government and certain pharmaceutical companies, to serve the dual purpose of not allowing addicts the luxury of a relatively pain-free drug like Subutex, forcing them to suffer even more than necessary for breaking our societies #1 rule, while keeping very influential and profitable methadone companies in the slavery business. Trust me, even if we all had a year of free, cushy in-house, medicated, silver-spoon treatment to help us break free of addiction, we would still suffer more in our souls and brain than most non-addicts could even fathom possible.
Speaking of treatment centers, you don’t have to do a lot of digging to find article upon article that exposes major flaws in the majority of rehabs available. One of the most mind-boggling of the universally accepted common practices is the punitive measure of kicking someone out for breaking the rules, almost any rule really, but most notably, for not staying clean. We deny people treatment for doing the very thing they are seeking treatment to fix. The whole reason they are in there is because they can not stay clean. It’s a last resort option. If we could stay clean on our own, we would never step foot in a treatment facility. And the people who need these facilities the most are going to be the ones in the most serious throes of addiction, and therefore most likely to relapse. Almost all rehabs offer patients the option of returning if they can stay clean on the outside and come back with clean urine. What do you think the likelihood of that is going to be if they are not even able to stay clean while inside a facility? To me, it appears those who are dishing out these sentences have no real grasp of the behavior or illness they are employed to correct. Even the most reputable addiction experts seem to back this practice. I’m not saying we should just give everybody a free ride while they are in there, but there has to be another approach. The very definition of addiction is something we are unable to control or stop on our own. And most addiction specialists will add that addiction is also defined, literally, by relapse. But if your behavior fits the definition of addiction, you are no longer considered a qualified candidate for addiction treatment? I bet just about everyone working in these centers will give lip service to the fact that addiction is not a measure of ones self-control, or almost every addict they treat would have stopped a long time before seeking their help. I bet they would all agree that drug addiction especially takes on a life of its own that is much more powerful than the addict himself. The addict doesn’t want to do the things that have become synonymous with addiction, they are compelled by a much larger force. But there becomes a double-standard once someone earnestly seeks the help they need from others. Instead of being treated like addicts, they are expected to be cured before they even walk in the doors. And good luck on the streets if you’re not.
It’s unfortunate that we live in a country that thinks so poorly of addicts that it’s still common to hear people argue against harm reduction facilities, which have been irrefutably proven to help save many lives, because denying addicts access to clean needles will “help ensure they all kill each other off”. I wish I could say this was a line from the past, that we’ve grown past that as a society, but I’ve read it and heard it with my own eyes and ears many times. In a society where liberal-mindedness and social-services are increasingly popular, one group of people has been repeatedly and intentionally left out of new charitable initiatives and left to fend for themselves or forced into jails and inhumane institutions which bar them from re-entering decent society, even if they do make it out clean and rule-abiding (which given the structure of these institutions is almost impossible). But every major societal shift in thinking has started with grassroots efforts. And there is a noticeable influx of people who’s lives have been affected by addiction and are willing to take a stand against the outdated methods of treatment. The more people who talk about it, face-up to it and simply recognize the unjust behavior the faster we can pull together a critical mass large enough to make a difference. The question shouldn’t be is addiction an illness or not. That point is mute. The question should be how can we save the lives, both physical and spiritual, of an increasingly large number of our population. Because sweeping us under the rug and into jails won’t work. It will only allow society to keep their rose-tinted glasses firmly in place and artificially inflate the inaccurate numbers those in charge of the War of Drugs like to claim, while whole new generations grow up blind to reality and primed to repeat the same mistakes.
Well, you asked for my thoughts…. there you have it 🙂 I guess I have a tendency to rant a little when on this topic (it’s pretty close to home after all, lol).Thomas Mumby
Meet Thomas Mumby
A few days later I received an email from a one Thomas Mumby who had apparently stumbled upon my blog and after so doing composed a song in my honor, Lady Heroin. The song can be found here…

I was very touched by the gesture and did a little exploring of his own blog. That lead me to a post filmed right after the New Year when he is considering rehabilitation and weighs the treatment options available to a heroin or opiate addict in his neck of the woods.The Vblog can be found here…

When I realized the parallels in our content, mainly the Suboxone vs. Subutex argument. It was interesting to find a first-hand example of two people in different areas of the world with the same problem were faced with very different realities. And I knew our story played itself out time and time again all over the world. And in almost every single circumstance, the junky in question was left with less than desireable options. I expect more from the US being the world leader that it is, both in politics and economics and as the #1 drug consumer of the world. It was then I decided this whole thing should be made into a blog post. I had already been considering it after the email to my folks. But this sealed the deal. I’m sure every single opiate addict on the planet could add their story to my little soapbox rant and then, oh! what a phenomenal tapestry of woven stories we could share. Would that be enough to change the minds of naysayers across the globe? What would soften their hearts and motivate them to treat us like human beings? Change can only start with the ones affected most, and in this case, that means the addicts. Unfortunately we can be a very unmotivated group of people at times. But if we could only summon the energy we do after suffering through a few days of withdrawal and then toughening up to go out to the real world and score dope, we’d be able to move mountains. I’ve never met such a dedicated, stop-at-nothing, forceful group of people when we want to be. If only would could channel that energy en masse to help influence some serious change. That would be a story to blog about!
When I look at the cast of characters who have inadvertently played a role in putting this blog posts together, I am extremely thankful to each one of them. I know no one volunteered to contribute to my blog, or ever even suspected that their actions would somehow end up in the pages of this blog. Some of them will probably never find out. I hope know one is offended by the role I’ve assigned them. I know each and every person is a well-round, full individual and that addiction is just one one area of their lives. But it’s an area that we all share, that almost all of us, maybe even every single one of us, shares. And I think it’s a part that should be embraced and recognized and talked about as much as possible. Because only with that kind of wall-breaking communication will we be able to ever truly hack through the barriers of addiction and reach out to touch one another, addict and non-addict alike, and rejoice in the beautiful things we share that are the same.
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