Don’t feel sorry or ashamed; you are not alone. It’s not uncommon to know someone directly, who is or was addicted to drugs. Maybe you are the addict. Your sibling, parent, cousin, uncle, neighbor, or your best friend could have been the addict. His drug of choice is cocaine, alcohol and prescription pills. Her drug of choice is heroin and crack cocaine.
At the height of the opium epidemic, we’ve lived through this before. In the 1980’s my father was addicted to cocaine and worked numerous jobs to support his family while also maintaining his drug habit. Behind marijuana, cocaine is the most used illegal drug in the United States. Years later, my father is an ordained preacher and speaks the word of God. My dad talks openly about his experience with addiction. We all know addicts that have relapsed, and we also know those who have successfully made it out and are now clean.
You might not be the one addicted, but their substance abuse still impacts you. They lie to themselves and others; they steal time and valuables, they physically hurt themselves and psychologically hurt those close to them.
What can we do to deal with substance abuse in the household? How do we live a fruitful life after our loved one is clean? In what way can we support them? For my dad and many others, God, family, and the willingness to speak openly about addiction help to overcome. His faith, hard work, and addictive traits have been passed down to his only son, which I use in the form of a business obsession. I grew up in a God-fearing household and throughout my childhood, high school, college, my professional and personal life I’ve become friends with, lived with and held relationships with drug addicts.
“I look to a day when people will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” Martin Luther King Jr.
Drug dealers and drug addicts live within a related plight, where they are judged not on the content of their character but within the label of our healthcare, political and justice system. A drug addict lies to his or her loved one, not to intentionally hurt them or even to hide their abuse but they lie at the moment to protect their habit.
They lie about whereabouts or with who and when. Lying is a trait of a drug addict who seeks to safeguard their own personal interest. Living close to a drug addict, you are also affected when theft becomes an issue. It’s obvious when addicted to drugs; they need to support their habit somehow, and prescription drugs are not cheap.
These drugs cost a lot of money, but they are safer than any drug cut by your local low-level dealer. Our friends and family get addicted to prescription drugs because they know what to expect regarding dosage and effectiveness, but it becomes expensive, and there are cheaper drugs out there that give a harder hit once the body becomes tolerant of prescription drugs.
As addicts become physically dependent on drugs, the mind justifies actions such as lying and stealing and for this reason, addiction is a mental health issue and not an issue on one’s character within the eyes of the law. Some drug addicts don’t deserve to do hard jail time, and they also do not deserve to be isolated solely with other drug addicts in rehab facilities. The same goes for non-violent drug dealers.
Not all drug dealers have immoral intentions, and the supply of hard drugs such as cocaine and heroin is a social-political issue, masked with inconsiderate media coverage and long incarceration sentences. For example, the other day I received an email from change.org. They are a B-Corp organization that crowdsources social change. On the website, users can create social campaigns and petitions. Once users create campaign pages, they publicly launch with the potential of reaching millions of people who can sign the appeals from the comfort of their mobile phone, anywhere in the world.
Phyllis Bell of Detriot MI is the daughter of Felix Bell who has served 24 years of his life sentence for trafficking cocaine and laundering money. Mr. Bell is now 75 years-old and has Parkinson’s disease, his daughter, his family and nearly 70,000 campaign petition signers want him home. Within the prison system, there are compassionate release programs which are based on a prisoner’s medical or humanitarian change while incarcerated.
If a drug addict has the chance to rehabilitate and integrate into society, so should the drug dealer. Imagine if your loved one, who had an alcohol, heroin, or prescription drug issue served life for getting pulled over by law enforcement while having drugs on them. Neither user, seller, or the community in its entirety benefits from lengthy prison terms.
During the epidemic, Mr. Bell faced in the 1970’s and 80’s we saw dealers go to jail. During today’s outbreak, we see addicts that start off with prescription pills and level up to more harmful, unregulated drugs once addicted. The drug epidemic in America during the 70’s and 80’s, tremendously increased the incarceration rate. Today we are experiencing a similar trend with opium related deaths. Addictive drugs such as cocaine and popular prescription medications are harmful not because they are addictive but because our social and justice system has inhumane laws that lead the public in the wrong direction.
We can support each other by being honest and working together. Drug addicts and drug dealers, fall under the same broken system and the system can be adjusted through the consciousness of people affected by drugs.