We’ve all seen them, you know, those druggies on the street, the ones who are standing outside the stores, on the corner or at a stop light asking for money when they should be out looking for a job. And we all know they are just looking to get high, buy some alcohol, drugs, whatever it is, they really don’t want to use that money for anything that might help their situation. I mean, I see them all the time, don’t you? pitching tents in parks, hanging out in back allies and trying to live off the system like somebody owes them something. Can you imagine?
As a matter of fact, I can. You see, most of us view those ‘street’ people exactly like that. Like losers, people trying to milk the system, a menace to society. We elevate ourselves so much that we dehumanize them, look at them like they are garbage and need to be ‘dealt with’. I see them all the time, hundreds if not thousands of these people lining 10 square city blocks of my city.
Let me tell you about ‘those people’ so that you may better understand who and what you are actually seeing. You see, someone very close to me, someone that I love and has been a very big part of my life, is one of ‘those people’. This person started out like any other person, a loving family, a beautiful home, was a beautiful person, talented, (and I’m talking gifted type of talented) artistically and musically. This person was self taught and could play any type of guitar, piano and sing, this person’s voice was like a seasoned smooth jazz singer with range that even the most talented singers never get. This person could do make-up artistry that would have you think they were working in the movie industry…really, it was THAT good. And this was all before the age of 12.
Emotional, mental, accidental or physical trauma affects everyone differently, that’s the crazy thing about it. One person can see a car accident happen and carry on with their life, another person suffers from PTSD and struggles to put the memory out of their mind for the rest of their life. I know, I happen to fall into the latter category, pictures or news articles of animal abuse haunt me, I still have a running reel of things I saw in my twenties, 30 years later, that keep me up at night. I wonder what they felt, how bad was their pain, are they at peace now and what happened to these offenders? It's my own living nightmare and one of the many reasons I refuse to watch the news or read any new articles. We all deal with things differently, which is why assumptions of how someone should deal with pain is a dangerous thing to have.
This person whom I care for deeply had trauma, and they started to act out in ways that one would think are just a typical growing child that was misbehaving. Trying alcohol, smoking a joint, doing some drugs, hanging out with the ‘bad kids’, all things most of us have done (at least I have!) when rebelling and trying to find our place in life…or escape from something that is too hard to continue to feel. Isn’t that why people drink? I mean, why is it that people associate a beer or glass of wine with relaxing? Why is it that getting wasted with alcohol or pot is the goal for so many come Friday night? Why do we rush to the liquor store on a summer day to get all the fixings for that pool day? Because, it’s how we escape. It’s how we forget about the stress of life, the bills, our work, our miserable marriage. It’s how we ‘loosen up’ and let all inhibitions go and forget who we are and how we are to act. You know it, I know it, we all know it. Except, most of us don’t keep looking for something stronger, we stop at the wine, or the joint and call it a day. Most of us don’t have a pain that is so deep that getting drunk on a weekend doesn’t take it away, it makes it worse, deeper, and more painful. So much that we look for something stronger, something that is more permanent, something we can count on to make the pain, the memories, the constant voice in our head that is saying we are unlovable, we are unworthy, we are undeserving, we are useless, we are garbage and don’t deserve to live, just – go – away. Some people end their lives because the voices get too loud, you don’t have to look further then Hollywood to see that even the rich and famous have demons that no one can understand.
Nobody chooses to become an addict, it just happens. Slowly, over time, moving from something small like drinking which most of us did as kids, to more serious drugs that make the pain disappear for a little while longer.
This person whom I love is now a full blown addict, Heroin, Fentanyl and Carfentanil which is 100 times more powerful then Heroin. Their mind is no longer their mind, and their body is a walking zombie trying to find the next fix, not food. Without the drug every few hours the body starts to detox, and this detox is like walking through hell because it can kill you. The body has become so dependent on the drug, it cannot live without it. It seizures, it convulses, it vomits, it sweats it, writhes in pain. It’s like a million knives stabbing you while someone is pouring gasoline down your throat. An addict does not have the mental ability to take care of themselves, their brain has but one goal and that is to stop the pain from detox by taking the drug. They don’t even get high anymore. There is no high, just a constant state of anxiety, paranoia and fear of feeling the pain from not having any drugs in the system. And they remember it all. They remember what they did that night to get the drugs, they remember the pain on their families faces when they are picked up in the middle of the night, they remember the pain from the trauma they so desperately wanted to run away from. And now, all of that combined pain makes it worse, makes using drugs a necessity now. They are filled with so much self-loathing, self-hate, self-disgust and pain that they cannot stop. The pain both mentally, physically and emotionally is too much. They are trapped in a jail where the master of their life has but one objective; to kill them. No matter how badly they want to come back to their life, to who they were, the new master, the drugs, won’t let them. They have a lost all will, all power, all humanity.
You cannot keep them home, you cannot send them to treatment, you cannot do anything. In Canada there is no treatment centre that will keep a person, no matter the age, without their consent. They can walk out at any time. The police will not arrest a drug addict because there is nothing they can do and no where they can take them. The families cannot lock them in their homes as they become a danger to everyone living there, including themselves, and they will find a way out no matter what you do…their life depends on getting that drug and they will get it no matter what they have to do.
Treatment centres, charities and every organization that is formed to make the public think that help is there if the addict wants it DOES NOT WORK because they don’t deal with the addict as a human in pain, they deal with them as an addict who wants to do drugs. They don’t understand that the addict needs the drug, they need to have a safe place to use and slowly reduce their consumption along with a way to dig up and bring to the surface the emotional pain they are running from. And that would take years. Do you really think that this life is something somebody wants? That it is enjoyable? The harms way that they put themselves in, the horrific circumstances and situations where they are taken advantage of or beaten up because the dealers know they need the drugs to survive? To understand the life of an addict and the family of an addict requires you experience it first hand. And if you haven’t, you have no understanding and no right to judge anyone.
Those people on the street that you walk by, those are these people. They are somebody’s child who has had all of their dignity taken from them, who no longer control their mind or body, who no longer feel anything but pain. They are somebody’s family member who’s family is slowly dying each day as they drive around in the middle of the night praying they don’t find their child dead on the road or missing and never to be found again. They are someone’s friend who was suffering from trauma, who acted out and became the troubled child that no one wanted to hang out with. They are people that I love, who many people love, who all feel a quiet sense of desperation as they watch the worst nightmare unfold before them and are unable to do anything but watch in pain. Drug addiction is not about the drugs, it’s about the pain. So before you judge, ask yourself, what could have happened to this poor soul to have them live this life of horror…because you know as well as I do, no one chooses to live like a dehumanized being.
Oh, and this picture? This was drawn by the person I so very much love at the age of 11, just 3 years before SHE became one of ‘those people’ on the streets of your home town…and what she needs from you is love, not a judging eye, just love. This can happen to anyone, and I pray it never does to you.
~ Monika xo