It’s no secret that our country is facing one of the worst substance abuse epidemics we have ever seen in recent history. Every single day, people from all across this great nation and around the world will fall victim to that subtle yet complex killer known as substance abuse. It’s no respecter of persons, color, culture, or creed. In fact, while many would like to deny it, you’ll find that hiding within the shadows of this ugly beast is not only everyday people but business professionals, including those within both the legal and medical fields.
In the age of millennials, conceptually standard 9 to 5’s are almost considered archaic thanks to the increasing number of young entrepreneurs, bloggers, tech wizards, budding media moguls and social media (savvy) savants. In today’s workplace, time clocks are almost irrelevant as round-the-clock work is typically standard, almost required, in order to meet the demand of the current competitive marketplace. All of this in an attempt to further meet the demand of massive global consumerism.
I knew all about my craft. I am was in total control. How was this any different from a dietitian modifying their intake or a trainer using his background to sculpt his body? “I’m doing this under the safest of conditions”, was my maxim. “If I just stick with clean supplies and remember to use sterile technique then I’ll be just fine.” These were the thoughts echoing through my opiate addled mind as I propped myself up between the toilet and the sink in the single occupancy bathroom that I had turned into my own personal opium den.
“Just Stop!” That phrase had replaced more common conversational dialogue between people like “Good morning”, “ What’s for lunch?” or the one I missed most, “I love you”. I had become a numb to the repeated cries to “Just Stop!” I knew I was getting worse; I didn’t need to hear about my progress regarding my self-destructive behaviors. I knew I was a piece of shit, I didn’t need to be reminded every time I talked to my loved ones of how much potential I once had. I knew that people had grown tired of me and had accepted the fact that I would soon be dead. In fact, I believed that more times than not and even wished that on some occasions.
This past Thursday I buried my 24 year old son. He died March 25, 2017 after an overdose on what we suspect was tainted heroin. He had around a 9 year history of substance abuse. He started like so many kids with a little drinking and some pot. All of which were hidden. He was an extraordinarily talented musician, a world class Halo player, the most popular guy in school and made straight A's through middle school. As he grew there was increasing aggression, and a decreasing desire to do well in school or be anything BUT in control of every interaction. Like so many people with whom we may relate, he had the type of "A" personality that was sometimes a problem.
by Claudia Garcia, MBA,BSN,RN,LAC
Legends never die. The ironic complexity of this age-old adage is all too familiar. The recent news about the tragic death of 28-year-old Swedish EDM artist Avicii (born Tim Bergling) has sent shockwaves throughout the music world and serves as another example of the devastation alcoholism and substance abuse has caused.
When infractions occur, when a citizen violates a law, the justice system often recommends the courts “throw the book” at the imposing offender. After all, this “menace to society” must be taught a lesson so that all may fear and obey the law. And while this may make some sort of temporary impact on said offender and future offenders, it may not always have the lasting impact needed to prevent future offenses.
As mental health disorders continue to be diagnosed at an alarming rate, it has become evident that those who suffer are often compelled to initiate self harm to relive them of the symptoms. As it stands, mental illness is the only known disorder that carries a stigma of shame, guilt, and societal judgment so great that often the only recourse for relief is suicide. Until we as a society can show the same compassion and empathy towards mental illness and addiction that we do towards other diseases, we will continue to lose our children, parents, friends, and idols to something that is more times than not, preventable.
Cliched as it may be, we are at war. In fact, some would say we are in a seemingly never-ending cascade of war. The US alone is entrenched in an overabundance of casualties, many at the hands of killers who need not fire a single shot. Epic battles are being fought in these wars, yet a victor remains to be seen. There are no clear winners or losers... then again, the real loser in this fight may be... potential.