Heroin Separated Me From Emotional Pain

Heroin Separated Me From Emotional Pain
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<p><strong>In 2016, 177 Americans died everyday from opioids.</strong></p>

In 2016, 177 Americans died everyday from opioids.

Matthew Heptinstall via Getty Images

Suddenly my mind jumps and skips. I’m completely mocus. That’s a term somebody made up. We use it to describe how it feels when nothing makes sense. Nothing adds up. Space becomes a silver-gray vacuum. Thoughts enter and exit before I have even an instant to comprehend them. The inside of my head is a washing machine on the spin cycle. It furiously pushes all of my thoughts out tiny holes in my skull. Thoughts, thoughts, and more thoughts, just too many fucking thoughts, my head is going to blow off.

My dad just died, and I am trying to figure out what to do with his body.

Mom is in her hospital room recovering from a hysterectomy and dad is ice-cold someplace in a storage locker with a tag on his toe. I thought about how he looked when I found him. I wanted to see him again and wondered if his face was peaceful or still distorted like it was on the kitchen floor a few hours ago.

Just walk, I thought. Keep moving. If I didn't the heroin would fold me into an accordion.

One floor down, I found the hospital chapel. Church was the place my dad always took me when I messed up. It wasn't a coincidence I wound up here looking up at the "Stations of the Cross." I never could figure out why Jesus would go through so much torture if He had all that firepower.

There he was chained to a post while this muscular guy with a big head whipped his back. Never mind, but the whip's tails had chunks of glass and metal tied to it. I would have winked, signaled God, busted those chains, and watched that guy's ass fall off.

My dad told me Jesus did it for us. And I felt real guilty about that. If it's true and all, I wasn't worth that kind of beating. In fact, there aren’t too many people out there that are.

The best thing, though, about being in church was that everything stayed the same. Right there on the wall, Jesus never moved. You could show up here a hundred times, and that guy with the whip wouldn't be finished ripping away Jesus' back. That crowd of people watching him die would still be just watching him die. And when you got to the end of the stations, Jesus would still be hanging dead from that cross while Mary knelt crying.

And you know what else? In the twenty years I'd been coming here, she’d never changed her clothes. In fact, nobody was different. Nobody changed their clothes. The only thing different was you. And I don't mean you'd be older. I mean you'd be different. You might have a Yankee baseball coat on. Or you might have just wet the bed. Or maybe your best friend might have just hit a tree head-on.

I really didn’t understand it, but I'd guarantee it. You'd be different, and Jesus would still be hanging bare ass with Mary crying in the same goddam blue smock.

There should be more places where things forever stay the same. It's just all mixed up. It's a freaking shame actually. The things that should change stay the same. Jesus shouldn't have to take that pain forever.

Like I'm gonna have to always see my Dad there on that kitchen floor. But I don't want to see that forever. I wanna see the time Dad carried me up the stairs to George's Pizza when I was six and had braces on my legs. Dad picked me up at the bottom of those steep stairs and carried me like a war hero into that restaurant. I wanna feel the strength of his biceps forcing the cold metal to pinch the skin of my calves.

Just then, a middle-aged woman entered the church. Her eyes were bloodshot, and an excess of hairspray had caused her jet-black hair to resemble a dirty mop. She walked right up front. Sat right next to Jesus hanging dead while Mary cried.

I watched her for a long time. At first, I just knelt next to her. After a while, I told her my Dad always said things have a way of working out. It killed me when she said her ten-year-old daughter had just been diagnosed with leukemia.

Suddenly, she left, and I sat in the church trying to clear my head for the longest time. I hate remembering all this pain. It is just so hard knowing that another bag of heroin, one mile away, would help me forget it all.

On April 1, 1987, I began my journey to recover from heroin addiction. For me, heroin completely removed all emotional pain created by a past filled with trauma. For me, the hardest part of early recovery was accepting and making amends to all the wrong I had done to others.

But the current news is not good. This past September 2017, the CDC released the death toll for 2016. Last year, we lost 64,700 Americans to an accidental overdose of opioids. At that rate, 177.26 American will die today as a casualty of the worst health crisis in the United States history.

On Thursday, October 26, 2017, President Trump directed acting Health Secretary Eric Hargan to declare a public health emergency under the Public Health Services Act, not a national emergency through the Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act.

The difference between the two orders is money and scope. If Trump had used the Stafford Act, the federal government would have been able to tap into funds from the Federal Emergency Management Agency's Disaster Relief Fund to combat opioids.

Under the Public Health Services Act designation, no additional federal funding will automatically be directed to the crisis.

As a former heroin addict, I have no good answers as to how we get a handle on a situation soon to explode beyond our wildest imagination. However, I will tell you that we cannot win this battle by continuing down the same road. We must throw away our game plane and write a new playbook.

We must begin a discussion immediately on why the current plan of attack is failing.

Here are some facts.

1. The projections for deaths from an accidental overdose of opioids exceeds 70,000 lives in 2017.

2. A new study finds that many opioid-related deaths are underreported. In the report, the University of Virginia, predicts the death rate from opioids is 24% higher than what has been estimated.

3. Big Pharma continues to make enormous profits on the hope and tears of opioid addicts and the people who loved.

Bottom line, we will not win this war if we continue to treat opioid addicts with a lesser opioid agonist. It is simple; opioid agonist creates a conscious sedation which removes the addict from their present awareness.

For the record, I believe medication is an important part of early recovery. My beliefs are in no way intended to shame any recovering addict for taking Suboxone of Methadone.

However, do we have alcoholics line up every morning for a shot of whiskey to keep their cravings at bay?

Ritchie Farrell is the author of I am a Heroin Addict.

Need help with substance abuse or mental health issues? In the U.S., call 800-662-HELP (4357) for the SAMHSA National Helpline.

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