I can’t tell you how many familiar faces I’ve seen in obituaries or RIP posts on Facebook since I got clean in 2014. Or how many times I’ve seen friends doing well in recovery, then they go out and use once and die. I’ve lost close friends. I’ve hung out with someone and hours later they’re dead. I’ve sat in the ER comforting a friend who just overdosed. After my first close friend died, another told me I should invest in a couple good funeral dresses because I was going to need them. He was right.
I think we’re becoming desensitized to death. Has it become all numbers to us now? We see the headlines: ‘30 dead in shooting,’ ‘5 dead after head on collision’ and ‘12 dead in less than a day from overdoses.’ Does it resonate with us that those are lives not just statistics? That isn’t the case for me, but sometimes I fear it is for others.
I’ve seen a lot, but none of that can explain how bad this opioid epidemic has become.
But we’re gonna try.
The purpose of our year-long opioid series that starts today is multi-faceted. First, I really want to give back and help anyway I can to stem the crisis. For me that begins with sharing my skills as a graphic designer and reporter to explain the story with impactful images and the facts. The second is about people - the people I know and the ones I don’t know, but can feel their pain in my bones. The opioid crisis is not just facts and figures. It’s people. In our neighborhood. Across the road. In the suburb around the corner.
Most of all, I want to provide a perspective on this epidemic from the point of view of someone who sees a lot of it first hand and who has lived through its horrors. In the avalanche of publicity focused on opioids and addiction, the addicts’ point of view is rarely heard.
I welcome any comments, questions or concerns about my journey, and the stories that will be published monthly in this newspaper. Feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know your thoughts. Or start your own conversation by writing a letter to the editor. Either way, we love to hear from the view of our readers.
So, let’s start the discussion with this: As an addict, drugs aren’t my problem. I am my problem. I’ll explain that more next month.