Addiction – the great equalizer?

After being clean for a little while, I have started to get very passionate about in injustices of society. I was always a “riot grrrl”, but I became a full fledged feminist in college when I took a “Women in the Arts” class that was taught by a wonderful TA. I personally have a problem with being a feminist and being totally unperturbed by the other injustices that are forced upon others.

I feel that I got a little out of touch with my feminist side due to my addiction. Not in the archetypal, “I am so high that I don’t care about anything”. It is more than that drug addiction (and recovery to a large extent) evens the playing field for us all. Now, I know that there are going to be a lot of people reading this who don’t agree! but hear me out.

First rebuttal you might have is the rampant prostitution that I mentioned in an earlier post. Yes, a large, VERY large, number of female addicts turn to prostitution as a way to make money. There is a good deal of men who turn to the oldest profession as well. (I personally did not know many, but there are more men out there than you would think). Yes, these women subject themselves to horrendous amounts of abuse at the hands of their johns. Thing is, it is hardly ever addicts picking up these women. Male and female addicts may hook up while getting high, but they stay friends, and their is a sense of equality.

Everyone does shit for money. I hung out with a lot of addicts who had millionaire parents. I also hung out with a lot of addicts who lived on the streets or in abandoned row homes. Aside from maybe having a car and a nicer place to sleep at night, we all had to earn money daily. Of all the “rich” people I knew, I only knew one girl who never had to steal or hustle. She could just call her mom and say that she was transferring $500 from her mom’s account to her own and take $5,000. Her mom never noticed. She also had a Mercedes, her own $500,000 town house, and more Gucci bags than you could shake a stick at. These of us who cam from money, probably had run that well dry long ago. Your parents might give you a place to live, but they aren’t going to support a thousand dollar a day heroin problem. Maybe, if you could come up with a really slick reason, they might give you money, but it usually wasn’t worth how guilty they would make you feel, and thus was to be saved for desperate times only. (Most of the middle or upperclass addicts were at least fortunate enough to have someone to pay their bail).

Rich, poor, black, white, male, female, some where in our dark and twisted realities that is our past existence, we all did shitty things. We all woke up daily throwing up. Our families were all disappointed in us. We have all been to jail, or rehab, or an ER, where the employees of that institution treat you like the scum of the earth. Especially in jail. The COs really enjoy seeing dope sick prisoners. Seeing us two shades above death gets them off on some kind of sick power trip. We have all been harassed, mistreated and abused by police. If you are black and in a middle class area, you are fucked with (Trayvon Martin anyone). I was used to being a white couple in an all black neighborhood. The police would literally tell us that they pulled us over because we were white, and thus buying drugs (One time in particular hot are a car of knockers, or undercover drug cops, drove by my husband and I and yelled, “You’re white, get the fuck out of here.”) Almost everyone I know has been beat up severely by the knockers for literally nothing at all. Easiest way to get your ass kicked by undercover drug police? Not have any drugs on you. This pisses them off to no end, and there is a good chance that they will kick your ass.

We have all been arrested, then read our charge papers and laughed out loud in the cell at all the lies they put in to make it not an illegal search and seizure or just to make their case better. We all also know that in a court where it is a junkies word against a car full of cops who got their stories straight while they wrote your charging documents that you are fucked, royally.

Addiction breaks everyone down. It doesn’t care about your gender, race, or class. As such, the longer a person has spent in the hell of addiction, the less that they even see those distinctions. This is why recovering addicts are such a hodge podge, mixing pot of people. This is why they all tend to get a long for the most part. Once someone tells you that they are a heroin addict, you instantly know that the two of you have a spiritual connection that transcends the boundaries that hold others apart. We know the internal struggle that one another has had with out speaking a word.

Once an addict gets clean, they tend to stay sympathetic to anyone facing any level of injustice. We have felt it. It seems that everyone, rich or poor, black or white, male on female, looks down on the addict. We are discerned to be the lowest of the low. We tend to have criminal records, and poor credit. Not a lot of people want to help us out. To get back on our feet. I think we know that we can’t commit the same atrocities that we see others doing. We can not justify a belief that we are better than someone for any reason, when we ourselves are considered the bottom of the barrel.

I wish that it didn’t take a lot of people the ongoing hell that is drug addiction to see that we as humans are not all that different from one another, that most of those difference are due to where we grew up and what we have been through. Addiction, it seems to be the greatest equalizer.

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