The Realities of Addiction

I recently went thru my list of friends on social media and became both angry and sad at what this disease has done. Not just to my life, but the lives of the ones I call friends, others in my community and around the world. While looking thru my list of friends, I saw brothers and sisters I should “unfriend”, not because I don’t like them anymore but because they’ve been lost to this disease. Either they’re in relapse mode, they’ve gone back out and started using again or they’ve died. I just don’t have the heart to “unfriend” them even tho I may never speak to or see them again. Although I hope I do someday…

For those of you among what I call the walking dead, this goes out to you. You know who you are. No, I haven’t forgotten you and no, I have no ill feelings towards you. I simply leave you where you’re at in your life and pray that I see you again or read your obituary. This also goes out to those of you that I don’t know. I pray that each and every one of you finds some form of recovery before this disease kills you.

As addicts, when we are in the grip of addiction many of us try to escape reality. Unfortunately there are some realities we cannot escape. One of those realities is that while on the path of addiction, if you’re not going to recovery meetings, counseling or some other method, then the end of the road always, and I do mean ALWAYS, ends one of 3 ways – jails, institutions, or death.

Another boring but important and sad reality is the statistics. The number of addicts who die in the United States on a daily basis continues to increase. In 2015, an estimated 52,400 addicts died – that was roughly 144 per day. The concrete statistics for 2016 aren’t in yet but that death toll is set to be even more. Best guesstimates are that about 62,500 died in 2016. That comes out to about 171 addiction related deaths per day. That is a staggering 7 addicts per hour. According to the article I read in The New York Times written June 5, 2017, these numbers include unreported drug use/abuse numbers. This article also broke down the numbers by states. I only the top 6 states. Both the population and death toll number are from 2016.

  1. California   addict deaths – 4,649  population – 39.25 million  
  2. Texas                                       2,588                         27.86 million
  3. Florida                                    3,228                         20.61 million
  4. New York                                2,754                         19.75 million
  5. Pennsylvania                         3,264                         12.78 million
  6. Ohio                                         3,310                         11.61 million                           

So, this means that at any given moment that you’re sitting there getting high, somewhere an addict is dying.

Yet another sad yet disturbing fact which you probably know. The dope you’re getting high on is most likely cut with something else. And that “something” is generally more deadly than what you think you’re using. Two of the ingredients that have been found mixed with dope are fentanyl(or variations of it) and carfentanil. Fentanyl is similar to morphine but is 50 to 100 times more potent than dope. Carfentanil is an elephant tranquilizer and is 5,000 times stronger than heroin. Just a few grains of it can be a lethal dose. Sometimes it’s cut with something like straight up baking soda, rat poison or it may not be cut at all.

Now you might be thinking, “Hey, don’t worry. I can handle it. If I nod out the first responders that will come have narcan. A couple hits of that and I’ll be fine.” IF a first responder gets to you in time, reports are that, “E.M.S. crews are hitting addicts with 12, 13, 14 hits of Narcan with no effect…likening a shot of Narcan to ‘a squirt gun in a house fire.’”(from the same NY Times article).

Here’s my question. Why would you wanna play Russian Roulette with your life?? I know I sure as hell don’t.

If we are “fortunate” to live thru jails, institutions and death, end up living like animals. We eat out of garbage cans because the money that we panhandled or got some other way went to the dope man. We forget our manners and give up on hygiene. Even if we have access to supplies and facilities to shower or to brush our teeth we choose to not use them. Then again, maybe we forgot how to do these things.

We sleep on piles of garbage in an alley or condemned and abandoned houses. We curl up in a ball because we’re in some form of pain, to high to get up or in a bad withdrawal and don’t make it to a toilet to either vomit, urinate or defecate – maybe all of the above. We just do that stuff right where we are. Many of us lose our children to the system or other family members because we’re to high to care for our children properly and our family wants nothing to do with us. No, not every addict ends up like this but many do – to many do.

“But I can control my using or stop anytime…That won’t be me. I know what I’m doing…I only use an “X” amount of “X” drug on “X” days”. Or maybe you tell yourself and others what I used to say, “It’s a legal prescription from my doctor. He knows what he’s doing. I’m not that bad yet” The key word, YET (You’re Eligible Too). This means that even tho you haven’t gotten “that bad”, you will. It’s only a matter of time. I can guar-an-darn-tee to you, if you don’t stop you will. If you think you can control your using, allow me to give you a suggestion I once heard. Go get yourself a box of exlax, take all of the pills and try to not use the toilet.

Does any of that sound familiar? Or does it sound over dramatic? I assure you, these are the realities of this disease. I’ve talked to other addicts who’ve done 1, if not all, of the things I just mentioned. I myself have been in more than 1 of the above states – including a brush with death.

By now I’m sure you’re not feeling so good. Maybe you’re feeling hopeless. In a word, good. I’m glad. I know that sounds pretty harsh but there’s are the realities of what lies at the end of the road. I said I don’t sugar coat things. We have 2 choices. We can either 1) get help, any kind of help, to stop using or 2) we die looking and feeling like the pile of garbage we’re sleeping on.

Thought for the day: The choice is simple and best stated in a question. Do you want to live or do you want to die?

Keep coming back. In the near future I will write a post on suggestions that I’ve heard over the years that have worked for others. They are suggestions for you to change your life around. Trust me, there is life after addiction.

***Please be sure to read more of my posts


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About Bella’s Thoughts. This is a project that I began in my mind a number of years ago when I began reading some daily meditations. I had my own thoughts on many occasions and attempted to journal many times without success. It began to take shape when I took on another project for a Spiritual Advisor and dear friend who past away. To learn more about me read my very first blog post. For more daily reflections go to...

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