I know there’s this negative stereotype that comes with being a recovering drug addict. There’s this way people look at you or rather look down at you for having gone down that path. You’ve dealt with a community of isolation, as you dealt with this problem only among your family. I’m sure your family felt isolated at one point too. Because who could they talk to? Who would understand? I’m sure your past is full of trial and error, maybe rehab and overdoses but above all, no matter how many times you failed, you stand here a survivor.
I say “survivor” because those same judgmental eyes that look down on you, don’t see this as a disease. They see it as a choice. But any person in their right mind would never choose that if they knew the cost of one single hit. Cause you know it wasn’t one hit that killed you.
It is a disease. It’s a disease that transforms you into someone you aren’t. It’s a disease that takes a part of your soul. It’s a disease that always wants more and stops at nothing to just get one more hit. Then one more. Then one more. Until there is nothing left of you. The fate of a drug addict is two places usually. Jail. Or six feet under.
And we read the stories of another young life lost. You gotta read between the lines because no 23 year old dies of a natural cause. But no one talks about it either. Their name gets added to another long line of stats, invisibly affecting a community. But still those same judgemental eyes have the nerve to say, “that doesn’t happen here.”
But it does. You know it. I know it. And it comes into people’s lives like the Grimm Reaper. It takes your hand and says follow me, trying it once won’t kill you. And he’s right, it doesn’t. But with that one hit you didn’t sign up to give your life away. But that’s exactly what happened.
Of the skeletons you don’t speak about in your closet, are for the people you hurt. The decisions you don’t even remember making, and the reflection of a stranger. Because that wasn’t you. It was almost like you look back at that time in your life, and watch in horror this movie of someone playing your life. And all you and your family want to do is yell stop. But it continued.
But then one day it did stop. Because you are a survivor and you wouldn’t be reading this, had you not beat every stereotype and become merely another statistic. You won. But it’s a battle you’ll continue to have to fight, not against the drugs. You and I both know you’ve been clean for some time now, and that’s in the past.
The battle you are going to have to fight now, is against those who are naive. The battle you’ll have to fight now, is against those who judge. The battle you’ll continue to fight is being the example that just because you made a mistake, that might have heavily influenced your life, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t get another chance. It doesn’t mean you aren’t good. It doesn’t mean you won’t succeed. It doesn’t mean you are going to fail again. You will continue to fight this battle of those who whisper and those who judge. You’ll continue to fight the battle and say, “yes I’m a drug addict, but more than that, I too am a survivor.”
We need survivors. We need someone who has been there to be the voice, that these people can make it. We need hope and it is in you, we can find it. Because you know this disease does not discriminate. It chooses it victims out of dumb luck and some follow in its path.
We all know one hit won’t kill us. We all think we can walk away if we choose. But they don’t tell you and what we need to tell today’s youth, is one hit won’t kill you, but it will kill the life you’ve led up to this point. One hit won’t kill you, but it will kill any respect you’ve gained. One hit won’t kill you, but you’ll lose a lot of your friends. One hit won’t kill you, but it will ruin your future. One hit won’t kill you, but it will ruin your reputation and the reputation of your family. One hit won’t kill you, but when one turns into two, you’re now playing a game you could potentially lose, and the cost is your life.
That’s the greater tragedy of it really.
We need to tell today’s youth they can survive this, they are not lost, if ever they stumble down a rocky road. We need to tell their families, this dark cloud you think you are enduring alone, is behind other closed doors too. We need to give hope to the mother’s, that their kid can make it. They can survive because you have survived.
I thank you for surviving. I thank you for overcoming this. One hit didn’t kill you. But it makes me happy to know that one hit will never have the opportunity to try and kill you again. You survived and it was against all odds.