I’ll never forget the look on his face. “I’m trying to make a better life,” he said. “I have kids. I have a good job. There’s no way I’m going back to the person I was.”
Helpless. That’s how he felt. He’d been attacked from behind, claimed he didn’t know why. But people don’t want you to get out, he said. Damned if I do, damned if I don’t.
How do you fight against a system on the outside, and the inside? Where do you go to find the help you need?
I remember asking one patient how he did it. For years he lived a life of crime to feed his addiction. Dependent on prescription pain medication. “It’s so hard to beat,” I said. “How’d you do it?”
“Oh, I was in prison,” he said. “I didn’t have a choice. It was the best thing that ever happened to me.”
Something is wrong when prison is the only place our kids can go to get clean.
President Obama was in my neighborhood yesterday, talking about prescription drug and heroin addiction. See, my sweet little home state of West Virginia claims the particular honor of the highest rate of overdose deaths in the nation. And we all feel it. These deaths touch us all in some way.
President Obama said more Americans now die from drug overdoses than they do motor vehicle accidents.
“The numbers are big,” he said. “But behind those numbers is incredible pain for families … ”
I am a mother of two teenage boys. My nest is almost empty. They are good boys: straight A students, church-raised, please-and-thank you kind of kids. I still worry.
It only takes one time.
I need to know there are others out there looking out for us. Our community has fallen victim to dark ways. My husband has forbidden me to run down the out-of-the-way hollows so prevalent in this old farmland. He fears I will run upon a meth lab.
There is not just one cause of this epidemic. Our little community just happens to have the perfect storm: economic hardship and high unemployment, chronic pain/job-related injuries from years of back-breaking work, lax oversight of medical/prescription capabilities, lack of intervention programs, low educational level … the list goes on and on.
It is a system. A system that has failed.
Our president said it would take everyone working together to beat this problem. Everyone.
“… These are our kids. It’s not somebody else’s kids. It’s our kids. It’s not somebody else’s neighborhood. It’s our neighborhood. And they deserve every chance. We’ve got to make sure we’re doing right by them … We’ve all got a role to play,” Obama said.
Good words. And true. No government mandate will cure this ill. Will you join me in prayer for this problem? For our children, for our communities, for the future of our nation? We need a new way—creative leaders to carve out a new path.
And we all need to do our part.
This post is part of my 31 Days of the Almost Empty Nest series. I’m writing in community with the thirty-one dayers. Women all over the world are joining together in the month of October to write every day about something they’re passionate about. Check out some of the other writers here. So much good stuff. To read my first post, with links to all the days, go here.