Rising opiate usage means helping the addicts through their trials, not throwing them in jail and letting them rot in a
By KYLE MCDANIEL
The opiate epidemic plaguing America right now is a true problem.
I know from firsthand experience, as I was addicted for a few years.
I don’t want to make this political, but President Donald Trump is correct that this is a national emergency.
According to cdc.gov, in 2015, nearly 13,000 people died from heroin overdoses. That’s about 35 people a day just because of heroin; not any other opiates.
We need to aggressively fight this.
Multiple studies have shown that high school and college students ages 18 to 25 abuse opiates and heroin the most.
I started using in high school. It began slowly. My friends and I first got drunk daily and smoked weed.
Then we moved on to taking pills like morphine and ecstasy, just taking whatever to get high and have fun. What could go wrong, right?
Well, a lot can go wrong. Soon you’re taking the pills so much that you become sick without them. You need and crave them.
Then your friend dies, because his body no longer could handle the intake.
Seeing him in that casket, lying there so peacefully, you remember the night you all took ecstasy and started chasing frogs. Why? Because we were going to make millions selling the liquid they secrete because it is a hallucinogen.
You would think that would make someone stop, but it doesn’t. You’re too far gone, and now you’re getting high leaving the funeral home. Chasing the dragon, 18 and addicted to heroin, because it’s much cheaper than prescriptions.
Then, one night after a soccer game, you meet with your buddies. They tell you, “Dude, you have to inject, it’s way better than smoking.”
You do it, no problem. After all, you’re 18 and will live forever. Even when I started injecting, as dumb as it sounds, I always thought, “This is just a high school thing. I’ll grow out of it.”
However, now that you’re injecting, it becomes a process. You have to plan accordingly. I had to be at school at 7:30 a.m., so I would get to my friend’s place at about 7 to cook up a dose and get high with still enough time to get to school. Your life is now revolving around it, and you’re changing.
That went on for over a year and I hadn’t even noticed how long I had been shooting up. It was just a part of my day.
I then was going to college and getting A’s and B’s while holding a steady job, because I promised myself I would never steal from my family. This was my problem, and I was going to pay for it.
I think that’s how I was able to conceal it for so long. I lived at home, with no bills, so every penny I earned could be spent on whatever I wanted. It was easy to conceal, because I was still normal Kyle with my family, and no one’s property suddenly went missing.
I never wanted to be a drug addict, but I feel the reason it went on for as long as it did is because I was afraid to let my parents know. If I was comfortable telling them, and knew what I know now, as soon as I was addicted, I would have told them.
Once they found out, about three years ago, they wanted to help as much as possible. It was quite refreshing, because I feel a lot of parents wouldn’t have reacted that way. I know this because of some of my friends’ parents flipped out and went overboard with their reactions.
With addiction, we need to treat it as a disease, not as a criminal act. Yes, it is a criminal act under law, but instead of locking up addicts and throwing away the key we need to look more into alternatives, especially for first-time offenders.
If I had been arrested, I would have jumped at the chance for rehab to get better, and many others would.
Look at the show “Intervention.” According to businessinsider.com, out of 276 interventions, all but six went to treatment. Of those 270, 151 remained clean and sober, which is a 55 percent success rate.
That just shows that prison isn’t always the answer, because a lot of the people on the show were committing other crimes to feed the habit. However, the families and others were more focused on healing them rather than putting them away.
Obviously, people will have their opinions on what should happen to those who abuse drugs, like Trump who said he was discouraged with how Obama handled the epidemic.
“At the end of 2016, there were 23 percent fewer federal prosecutions than in 2011. So they looked at this surge and they let it go by,” Trump said “We’re not letting it go by. The average sentence for a drug offender decreased 20 percent from 2009 to 2016.”
This seems to mean he is looking to crack down on users and sellers and put them away instead of rehabilitate. That could work for dealers like the cartels who just are looking for profit. But for people like my friends and me, how does locking me away with no medication or psychological help deal with the issue?
A lot of users have underlying issues that need to be addressed, such as child rape and family trauma. The last thing you need to do is write them off as a lost cause. All addicts need that one person to help them get through what they are going through.
Each addict has a story to tell and shouldn’t be treated like criminals who commit robberies and murders. Yes, we need to look into how insane the addiction rate to opiates has become in recent years and figure out a productive way to fix it without destroying every person’s life.
Because anything can happen with the right help. Look at myself: I am on the right track now, got a great job and am going to school for my passion in journalism and sports commentary.
We can survive this, America – just like everything else we have overcome as a country.