“Bitch, I’m a motherfucking Martian/ I’m a goddamn zombie.” – ‘Martians vs. Goblins’ by The Game
Last night, I was practicing spooky Halloween looks on myself and my children. I found a makeup academy that I will likely enroll in once the new year hits, and I have been learning and practicing all sorts of makeup tricks. I have only been working on practical makeup applications however. If I one day want to be a makeup artist, I need to know how to do special effects makeup. So, I traveled to Walgreens and bought a Halloween makeup kit and got to work.
I was trying to think of what looks to do, what would be something scary for me and/or my husband to be when we take our children trick-or-treating tonight. I am also doing my kids makeup. My son is a Swamp Creature, so he gets creepy makeup, but my daughter is (one of the millions) Elsa, so she is getting very pretty, soft makeup. Anyway, it occurred to me that perhaps the scariest thing that I could do woul
d be to accentuate my track marks and scars, and go as a junkie. Too be even more terrifying, I could dress up as a lawyer or a doctor and have a needle in my arm.
Even though there are literally millions of people in America struggling with substance abuse, it is still terrifying for people to think that any of those people could be in their neighborhood or even,a God forbid, in their family. Still, in 2014, we as addicts are forced to remain in the shadows, to keep our struggles silent for fear of retribution and ostracism.
My own mother, who has two daughter who are addicts, often remarks about how shocked she is to see certain people at my methadone clinic whenever she gives me rides. “That person is so old, what are they doing here?”, or, “That person is a (fill in doctor, nurse, UPS driver, person in an expensive suit), where they using heroin too?” I always tell her that first off, a person theoretically could have never used heroin a day in their life, but still very much need the assistance of a methadone clinic. Nowadays, the prescription pill addiction problem is at epidemic proportions. So many doctors hand out prescriptions for Percocet, OxyCotin, Vicodin, or what have you like they are giving out Advil. They don’t even usually ask or try to find out if the person has a history of substance abuse. The thing is, though, that if a person takes any opioids for a long enough period of time, they WILL become addicted. It is just a fact. Now if you are not pre-dispositioned to addiction (I.e. one or both of your parents, or grandparents were addicts), or if you have never previously been physically addicted to anything (thus forever altering your brain chemistry), then it will take you longer to become addicted, but you will eventually.
See, despite what a lot of people want to say or think about people who struggle with the living hell that is substance abuse, is that it is not simple a matter of will power. These are very powerful drugs.the fact is that taken for a long enough period of time, your brain and body will NEED them to simply function at all.
I actually don’t have a problem with doctors giving people these medications if they truly need them. Some people are going to be on these meds for the rest of lives due to chronic pain, so dependence is not really an issue. The problem comes for the people for whom the doctors decide after six months r however long, that they are no longer in need of these pain pill, that their pain should be manageable with over the counter medications and home remedies. I find it incredibly irresponsible to just one day, after months and moths of giving a person powerfully addictive medicines, to say, “No more for you!”
I wish there was some sort of law where doctors were forced to give patients a prescription for suboxone or methadone for a very brief period (decreasing the dose daily as to not trade addictions), or ween them off of the pain pills slowly once they determine that the need for these medications with regards to the patient’s pain level is not there any longer. They should also probably make, or strongly recommend that the person attend NA meetings, or they should at least make them take some sort if class on addiction and the brain.
Patients who have no history of addiction in themselves or in their family will not think they need any of this. The problem is that more than likely, they have never gone a day or two without taking any of these pills since having their script, so they do not know that they are addicted. A lot of these people find out the hard way that they are addicted and turn to illegally buying what they previously prescribed. Now they are “junkies” and “worthless”. Funny how that works. Some of these people end up at the methadone clinic.
I also try to explain to my mother, and to others, that if I have learned one thing from my years of waiting in lines to cop, is you never know who you will see in the hole. Addiction does care about class, race, gender, socio-economic status, or your job, it hits all walks of life. It can sink it’s claws into a millionaire as easily as a homeless person.
I think that that is the aspect of addiction that is so petrifying to people, especially wealth, educated, WASP sort of people. A lot of people that are outside of the “ghetto” feel safe and comfortable believing that addiction stays within the confines of the projects, that it does not venture into the suburbs. Seeing a middle or upper class business person as a drug addict is scary because it means that they are not safe. It is almost like holding up a mirror, but it is reflecting back a version of themselves if they got into a car accident a need a script for pain pills. It is almost their life. It is easy for people to ignore what they perceive as far away from their own lives. Maybe this is why we as addicts are shunned so much. People do not want to look closely enough to see that we are no different from them.