What do you want to be when you grow up? This question was asked several times when you were a child. So many kids wanted to be an astronaut, a firefighter, basketball player, singer. I myself wanted to be a doctor dancer, yes, I was an overachiever trying to tackle two professions in one.
When we finally did grow up many of us did not become what our younger selves wished we had. But when we look back and reflect on what we did want to be no one will recall wanting to be homeless, panhandling, strung out, addicted and hitting rock bottom. These things would never cross anyone's mind on something to aspire to and when I got a little older I wondered why anyone let their life get that bad, how did they get there, why is no one helping them, until my friends started dying and it all started to make sense.
I am a 35 -year old white female that grew up in a well to do family and went to a private catholic school high school and went on to college. My friends all went to private schools and all came from good loving families. They were involved in school, sports, the community. They had friends, jobs, a healthy social life. My friends were smart, funny, kind and were full of potential. So why am I going to more wakes than weddings? If I want a high school reunion I go to a funeral and I see everyone I ever went to school with. I've watched so many of my friend's mothers who used to drive me home from school, have to be carried down a church aisle because they physically can't walk due to heart ache. This, I am certain is not what my friends saw their life when they were 7.
Our society has this idea that addiction only affects a race, a class, a sex and or a culture and because of that we have ignored or been in denial that it does not discriminate. We grew up with a " Just Say No" mentality instead of " ask me anything" Addiction has become a dirty word that no one wants to admit, it won't happen to me, it can't happen to me, but 64,000 people died last year because it did happen to them. Someone didn't go from a joint today to a needle of heroin tomorrow there's a story in between. Some of my friends were involved in accidents and got hooked on the pain meds they were prescribed medication and became addicted. And when the doctors stopped writing prescriptions they had to go elsewhere. Others used drugs recreationally and once a weekend turned into several times a day. But what a lot of people don't ever want to admit and talk about what I saw some of my friends deal with and die from is mental health issues and poor mental health access, therapy, treatment. Meds are expensive, co pays are expensive, admitting you don't feel right isn't easy, finding the right treatment takes a while and for many turn to drugs to quiet the noise in their heads. My friends didn't want to die, my friends never thought they would overdose, my friends needed to get high 1 more time....
We are failing my friends in this society on so many levels. Access to mental health is almost 3rd world country. On average to see a new therapist/psychiatrist wait list is 6-8 weeks and if you're feeling unsteady that is 8 weeks too long. If you go to an ER you're left in a hallway alone for hours and treated like a criminal. Therapists see patients every 10 minutes and just write prescriptions without getting to the root cause. Addiction will never be cured unless we get to the root cause on why the person started using in the first place. Out- patient rehabs need both mandatory 1 on 1 therapy and group therapy. If you had to receive Narcan because you overdosed we need to start mandatory holding people 72 hours instead of just giving them Narcan and letting them walk away. If we continue to let Big pharma lobbyist run the show 64,000 people dying last year will be doubled next year. We can't solve this problem 100% but we can certainly make a huge dent and save some lives without having 18 committees, 10 months of meetings and only allotting $15 million dollars to the opioid crisis. We need to stop putting addicts in prison where they do not have the proper access to detox, counseling and mental health. Stop telling kids to just say no, this has never worked not ever. Let's tell males they do not look cooler when they are drunk and high, lets tell girls they will not impress a guy if she gets high with him. Let's make mental health issues something that is openly spoken about, and accessible like CVS on every other block and more mobile crisis units that can help those who are on the streets and suffering. My friends are dying not because they didn't know drugs were bad, or because they came from bad families but because we learned just say NO but didn't realize why until 1 more high was the last high. My friends are dying because they lost their way and couldn't access the proper meds. My friends are dying because they were too ashamed to admit they were sad, depressed, scared and or addicted to drugs. My friends are dying because big pharma cares more about profit than about my best friend's mom who sleeps with her son's dirty clothes so she can still smell his scent. My friends are dying because instead of putting together a committee of substance abuse counselors, former addicts, psychiatrist the White house is having Kellyanne Conway run the Opioid Crisis.
When I grow up, I hoped 15 of my friends were going to grow up with me....
Contributing Editor: Ryan David
My name is Ryan David and I am from the Boston area. I am a 35-year-old mom to an amazing daughter. I am an outspoken advocate and use my wit and sass to get the important facts across. I work in the healthcare field and use my experience and knowledge to help educate others with the real- life issues that occurring today either on my website www.donaldtrumpnewstoday.com my incredibly funny podcast #icant or on twitter @Irishrygirl