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The Opioid Crisis Right on My Own Doorstep

by | January 17, 2019

The opioid crisis in this country is spiraling out of control. It’s an epidemic that does not discriminate and it leaves devastation, heartbreak, and fractured lives in its wake. Studies now show that statistically, Americans are more likely to die from an opioid overdose than a car crash.

The Opioid Crisis Right on My Doorstep

I ignorantly used to think that the “opioid crisis” was limited to junkies who hang out in drug houses and lonely housewives who struggled to cope. Oh, boy was I wrong. You can’t imagine my horror the day I discovered that it had infiltrated my own home. My beautiful family, my safe haven. What I thought was my happy ever after went crashing and burning to the ground in a matter of thirty seconds after the discovery of suboxone and baggies with powdery residue in a drawer. Our lives changed in an instant.

opioid crisis

Everything I’d believed about my life was now being questioned on it’s authenticity. My mind was on overdrive wondering what was real and what was said and done in a drug fueled haze? How long had this been going on? How could I not have known? How stupid must I be for living with someone for so long and not realize that the nodding out wasn’t from a hard days work, it was from oxycontin.

I pretty much went through the stages of grief over the next six months. Denial, there’s no way that this inherently good person could do this. Anger, it was more than anger, it was, in fact, unadulterated f**king RAGE. I was mad, I’m still angry in fact. Bargaining, I would make deals with myself as I couldn’t exactly bargain with someone who was away at rehab. Maybe if I just don’t drink, maybe if I just lose my shit with the kids less, I’ll be more organized, I’ll create a calm living envrionment. Who was I kidding? None of this was my fault, but I was the one left to pick up the pieces. I had to reach down deep inside of me to find the strentgh that my kids needed.

I spent a couple of months going to Alanon meetings, and they really helped. I probably should still be going, but now that I’m a single mom my schedule is pretty hectic. I learned some really valuable coping skills there and some really useful tools that I use in my everyday life.

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I had a little symbolic closure yesterday and although it didn’t come from the person I wanted it to come from, it did the job. There was a bridge right in my neighborhood. A bridge that I’d look out at from my window during this very tumultuous and emotional time in my life. Yesterday this bridge was demolished. As I watched them blow this bridge to pieces, tears of cathartic relief poured out of me. I felt about twenty pounds lighter afterwards, emotionally and physically.

I can’t predict the future, nor can I control the people in my life, but I can control how I react and deal with things. That knowledge is very powerful to me. I feel that if I can get through that and come out the other end, stronger and wiser, I can probably get through anything life throws at me.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, over 49,000 people died from opioid overdoses in 2017. A study from the National Safety Council found that the odds of dying by an accidental opioid overdose were 1 in 96 and that the odds of dying by car crash were 1 in 103.

Something more has to be done to combat this opioid crisis. My experience may not have ended with a fatality, but all too many do.


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Julie Nealon

Associate Editor, New York USA | Contactable via [email protected]

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