What’s Your Morbid Hobby?

Life is full of “which is worse” scenarios. There’s the “death by fire” or “death by ice.” Here it is in the poem “Fire and Ice,” as could only have been written by the great American poet Robert Frost:

Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I’ve tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.

The political parties have us vying for which is the worse social problem and no, it is not Planned Parenthood. I’ll tell you straight out I’m going with opioid addiction. The biggest threat to our nation. The biggest threat to our people. That’s right, the fact that many people don’t want to acknowledge even exists. And this is why it’s so dangerous.

One of my more morbid hobbies is collecting headlines that deal with opioid addiction and drug overdoses. I’ve been doing it for years, the pile is getting higher, but recently it’s been a real jackpot.

It wasn’t always that way. In the beginning, I collected the rare articles of addicts who had fought through their addictions and made it. Addicts who had ultimately gone to college and gotten major degrees in major universities. One black American from an inner city who went on to graduate from Harvard Medical School. If I can dig the article out from my ever-growing pile, I’ll add the link here. There were articles about homeless who had gone into halfway houses and used that as a place from which to stabilize their lives, which included finding steady work and thus having a stable and proud income.

I clipped and sent these articles to send hope to a young relative of mine who was an addict and always feeling darkness. “See? You can do it too.” I’d like to think my hobby made a difference, helped this relative make good choices, but it seems like it did not. And now I cannot find the articles, even online.

Several years ago I would talk to a lot of my friends about this problem, and this pain of mine. On days when my relative was being arrested, or days when he was being released from prison, or days when he was beginning rehab and there was hope, I would sit in my seat during religious services and cry to myself. I’m not sure if anybody ever noticed my red eyes or my irregular breathing. If they did, they sure didn’t say anything. A few would tell me an aside about a relative who was an addict if I brought up the topic.

A few years back, my stepson died of an overdose of legally prescribed painkillers, shocking us all. He was a pleasure-seeker but he was not an addict. So my headline search and article clipping widened to include deaths by legally prescribed painkillers for things like, quite simply, pain. You know, those pain centers that are everywhere? Particularly in Florida?

Within the last few years, several parents in my community have lost a young adult child. Some of the parents have been brave and willing to confront this public epidemic. Others have not.

A few years later, after I was already personally grappling with this problem, the headlines expanded to include elderly adults who had been bankrupted by their addict children and grandchildren. I knew about this from personal experience, too.

The Untold Cost of the Opiate Epidemic: Elder Abuse

The headlines have continued to change over the years. In the last election, people started to care about the problem of “solving” the problem by throwing people in jail or prison. Were we creating solutions? Or new problems for even more people? A few times I sat in at a drug court. I saw young hopeless male adults. Five or so young adults would stand in front of the judge, who would ask them if they were on anything at that time. I saw them, in unison, lie. Five No‘s. I saw a pained grandmother as the judge would approve this one for drug court and that one – her grandson – to return to jail.

In the months and years after that, I started seeing headlines about large and small towns that were creating drug courts as a new approach.

This recent headline shows where we’re going, as a nation:

Life Expectancy in U.S. Declines Slightly, and Researchers Are Puzzled

Get this subheading!

African-American men gained 0.4 year of life expectancy in 2014, to 72.2 years.

My monthly AARP magazine is getting into the act, too, and not just about elder abuse by those seeking to get grandma’s retirement money in order to fund their heroin addiction. Once a place to find articles about cell phones and travel destinations for seniors, this 2011 headline was a first:

Boomers on Drugs

What you didn’t know about grandma!

Opioids and addiction are a national issue now because of the attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act, which includes attempts to eliminate – just when America is acknowledging this deeply entrenched and growing problem – American’s ability to get detox and rehab not just for the rich, who can afford private pay rehab stays, but for the poor and middle class who cannot. The people who care about this are elderly, farmers, veterans.

About six months ago I sat at a forum in my town for high schoolers, the goal of which was to open up a discussion about opioid dependency and provide referrals for those who needed them, and so on. A few audience members asked questions, and the oldest was about 90 years old and he had become an addict after radiation treatment for cancer. Whoever we are, we are at risk. There is no safe corner.

Yes, this is no longer a problem that white Americans or educated Americans, and so on, can ignore, thinking erroneously that this is “their” problem and not “our” problem. There is no way to hide from this situation.

Sadly, my morbid hobby continues and my pile continues to grow. Urban, rural, east coast, west coast, white, black, young, old, rich, poor, Jewish, Christian, Muslim, we are one nation, drug addiction and opioid overdose does not discriminate, and neither should we.

More to follow.

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About Jane

The gravitar you see is Joey, narrator and protagonist of my book, "DOGS DON'T LOOK BOTH WAYS," 2015 B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree. Recently I have been film critic for newspapers such as "The Jewish Advocate," "The Jewish Journal" and "The Newton Tab." I love to bicycle, play tennis, and swim, and to participate in local community activities. My favorites are providing food for the needy, bicycle and pedestrian safety, and literacy.
This entry was posted in addiction, capitalism, death, ethics, grandparents, health, life, medications, opioid use, people, politics, relationships, united states. Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to What’s Your Morbid Hobby?

  1. noelleg44 says:

    People are finally waking up to what our local authorities have been telling us for some time – we have a heroin epidemic going on and it’s only getting worse. Tough to rehab from – and can we stop the flow into the US? I doubt it. Bummer.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Jane says:

    Very hard to stop the flow. Also hard to get off methadone. Harder, actually. Then there’s all these laboratory-created opioids that are even more powerful…. We have to get a handle on this! Thanks for your comment and interest, Noelle.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Opioid addiction is a big topic in our local newspaper, apparently treatment is a lifetime and iffy thing. I did not even think about elder abuse – and my friend in Florida read my sad blog post and said opioid addiction is a rampant problem with the elders there. So sorry to hear about your stepson and other relative.

    Like

    • Jane says:

      Sorry to take so long to respond, Linda.

      It Is a lifetime AND iffy thing. A person has to be incredibly disciplined in order to fight it, and that type of discipline is uncommon. (I know what my husband had to go through just to kick the nicotine habit!) It really messes with the brain and body chemistry. I have to write some time about the elder abuse, as a result of kids and grandkids who manage to get into – or get a hold of – their elderly parents’ and grandparents’ life savings, all they have left in the world. I got involved in this to protect somebody who was being financially abused and the laws are NOT protective of the seniors in this case. Most distressing. More for another time.

      Thanks again!

      Like

  4. ammmaday says:

    It’s worldwide epidemic, these days people’s worship to dollars. Materialism will not solve any problem at all. Be brave, work hard but carefully

    Like

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