Face Heroin Addiction Head-On

Mar 13, 2017

In the second of a two-part Perspective, I finish my thoughts on something about which I spend an inordinate amount of time thinking.

Heroin. It doesn’t matter your age.  Your gender. Your socioeconomic status.  Where you live. Your race. It ruins lives with extreme prejudice while doing so with absolutely no prejudice.

More than 38,000 people died from heroin overdoses in the U.S. in 2016.  In Winnebago County, about two people die each week from heroin use. Each week.

I urge you to watch the documentary Heroin: Cape Cod, USA released by HBO in late 2015.  It traces the lives of several Cape Cod residents and spares no details of the horrors of the drug.

One scene in the movie has stayed with me. Two parents, whose twenty-something son is addicted to heroin, speak to the camera about “doing everything right” with their son. Active with his school. Had regular family dinners. Attended his soccer games. And, still, he spiraled into heroin addiction following an accident. I think about them and I think about my children.

I applaud families who, in the depths of their grief mourning the loss of a loved one, will speak publicly about the perils of addiction. They’ll list the cause of death in the obituary. They’ll approach it head-on, not with shame or by seeing the death as a failure, but to prevent another tragedy from occurring.

We need to continue de-stigmatizing addiction. It’s an illness and we should treat it as such. We need to be smarter in how we dispense and use prescription narcotics.

And we need to demand more funding for addiction treatment to stem the tide of this destructive substance washing over our country.

I’m Wester Wuori and that’s my Perspective.