Sunday, November 13, 2011

you'd never know she's a junkie

There are 22 million people addicted to drugs in America. What amazes me is the range of people addicted to drugs. From the most sophisticated, educated person to the junkie on the street, addiction hits every strata of society.

The common image in this country of a drug addict is someone who is a crack addict or heroin user who is living on the street looking for their next fix. Probably the majority of people have their own home and are working, managing to appear normal day to day. I have certainly seen many, many people who if you looked at them you would never suspect they are addicts. They are dressed well. They are clean. They are articulate but they are really no different than the junkie on the street. Can't live without the fix.

A lot of these people are addicted to prescription drugs. They find a doctor willing to supply them or they go to different doctors or hospitals talking people into writing them a script. They are often the most clever because they don't have to worry about food, shelter, money for drugs. They know that if they can talk a doctor into giving it to them, they can afford to get it. These are the people who can go on for years, seemingly normal, sometimes able to hide it from everybody.

Eventually it catches up with them because they are caught or it starts to interfere with their life. These are the people that the family brings in wondering what is wrong with them, only to find out they are on dope. These are the people dragged into ER by the family wanting us to do something, put them in treatment right now. Of course, we can't do that. Insurance these days doesn't often pay for inpatient treatment. Families are shocked by this. You mean I have to take them back home? I would almost think being a person who is educated, has a good job, a house in the suburbs would have a harder time gettin' off dope then the junkie on the street.

The junkie on the street has already lost everything. The suburban junkie can go on for years supplying themselves. Often the family will deny their problem. They will tell themselves that "people like us" aren't addicted to drugs. We're not like that crack addict. But guess what folks? Your junkie is no different than that crack addict. The difference is your junkie has an easier time getting the dope because they have money. The crack addict spends every day trying to get money for that fix. It will probably take longer for your addict to hit bottom. But when they do, it will be a long hard fall. I have seen doctors, lawyers, executives, nurse fall. Its true what they say: the bigger they are, the harder they fall.

1 comment:

SaraAnn said...

Don't forget about chronic pain sufferers that live regular, everyday lives in their suburban home and are college edumacated. This class of addict never gets additional drugs from doctors other than their own or frequent an E.R. complaining of chronic pain but are just as addicted to opioids as the herion addict begging on the corner of their neighborhood market. What's the difference between the street living addict and the person with a 40 thousand dollar SUV and a debilitating spine disease?... Sadly,.. it's the quality of the drugs and excellent health insurance.