A Dark Disease

Hello everyone.  I’ve had a busy couple of days.  The roofing contractor did an inspection and determined that we need a new roof because there were a lot of places where the wood was rotting and the shingles were all past their prime.  I’ve been on the phone with the insurance company and the bank for the past two days trying to hammer out all of the financial details of this large project.  The silver lining is that we won’t have to worry about any more roof leaks for awhile!

I also got news that a former student died from an opiate overdose yesterday.  She was such a good student when I knew her and ended up getting into a great college with a hefty academic scholarship.  I don’t think she did drugs when she was in high school, but you never know with kids these days.  One of my current students is friends with the girl’s younger brother so the news spread pretty quickly around the school.  We have started a fundraiser to set up a trust for her 3 year old son.

Over the years, I’ve known several people who have struggled with opiate addictions, and it makes me so angry that our country doesn’t put more focus and funding into addiction rehabilitation.  Most people become addicted to opiates when they are prescribed pain medication by their doctors for one reason or another.  They receive all of the warnings about how addictive they can be, but are told to take them to help manage whatever type of pain they are living with.  Before they know it, their prescription has run out and their body can’t function without more of the drug.  Instead of finding the help they need to detox, they are turned away by medical professionals and resort to all kinds of lowly behavior.

One guy I knew stole a prescription pad from his doctor and got away with writing prescriptions for himself for several months before he was caught and sent to jail.  I watched another friend of mine throw his life away because of his addiction.  He lost his job, he stole from his friends and family members to keep feeding that craving, and eventually moved on to shooting heroin because I guess the pills didn’t get him high enough.  One night he passed out and never woke up again.

A friend of ours’ husband actually found a rehab doctor who helped him get off of the drugs, but he talks about how difficult it was (and expensive) to get the treatment he needed.  Apparently, when you take pain pills for long periods of time and then stop, your body goes into serious withdrawals.  You vomit, you become very weak, your muscles spasm, and you can’t function for at least a week, more depending on how much of the drugs you were taking before.  Most drug addicts don’t have enough money for food or bills, so why is treatment so expensive?

I believe that addiction is a serious disease.  Sure, some addicts might make that original choice to take a drug, but others are told by their doctors that it is safe to take.  The chemical imbalance in their brains causes them to get hooked easily and then everything else goes downhill after that.  We need to look at addiction the same way we look at cancer or diabetes.  Our country finally realized that everyone should have health insurance, so hopefully soon we will all realize that addiction needs to be treated more aggressively.

Please keep my former student, her child, and her family in your thoughts.  If you know someone who is struggling with addiction, be there for them and support them as much as you can, and keep your fingers crossed that one day soon they will be able to get the help they need to beat their disease.

Signing off for now

Pete