I’m Angry

I’m angry.

I’m not sure a part of me will ever be un-angry.

I think about how many years I have missed out with my mom and it makes me angry.

I think about how many times she has blamed me for her drug use, addiction, and relapse and it makes me angry. There are no words to give a heartbroken daughter that will provide her with comfort or normalcy. I will always be the girl that carries the baggage and burden of my mother on my shoulders. I will never escape this pain. It will not go away.

And that makes me angry.

I’m angry that I’ve always been expected to just accept things the way that they are. I’ve gone out of my way to keep the hope that one day she will take responsibility for the wreckage she has caused. But she never will, and that makes me angry.

Someday I will have to explain all of this to my daughter in a way that doesn’t make her hate my mom as much as I do. It has never been my goal to influence hate from others. I’m only telling my truth the way I have perceived it. Perhaps the way I see it is harsh, but that’s what anger will do to you.

I make no apology for trying to repair what she broke.

I make no apology for being blunt about how I feel.

I make no apology for finding an outlet for all of these feelings. Putting this pain into my writing is what helps me heal. It helps me make sense of my story. It helps me comfort others that feel the same way. And let me tell you, I am far from alone.

And the fact that my situation is far from rare makes me angry.

So today and tomorrow and the day after that, I will be angry.

Drug Courts & A Failed F*cking System

I wrote a few weeks back that my mom was getting out of jail and going to rehab. I was excited, but I tried hiding it. Part of me knew something was going to fall out. The thing about hope is that even though you can prepare yourself to be let down, you can’t prepare yourself enough to not feel the hurt of failed expectations.

She went to rehab for five days.

Five days.

Five. 

Days.

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t heartbroken, but how I feel is much more than just a heartbreak.

I am furious.

 

I am furious at the system. I am furious at our courts. I am furious at the people that turn a blind eye when they know that someone needs their help.

SHE COULD BE A MOTHER. She could have been our mother for YEARS now if someone would have taken even a SECOND to pay attention to what the hell was going on in our situation.

It all started in the early 2000’s. The first time she was arrested for possession and fighting. I would have been around five years old. So you arrest a young mother for fighting on the streets while high on who-knows-what, and you’re not going to do anything to make sure it doesn’t happen again? What about the second time? Third time? Fourth time?

Oh, right. THAT’S when we finally take the kids.

But she should have been provided the rehabilitation and help she so desperately needed WAAAAYYYY before it ever got that bad. It has been eighteen years since this all started and nothing has been done to help her. I am furious because in this country drug addicts can relapse and relapse and relapse and get locked up several times without getting any help! By now, we should all be aware that it is cheaper to rehabilitate addicts so they don’t relapse than it is to lock them up over and over and over again…

When did we stop caring about people? Or rather, why don’t we care more about people? It is unfortunate that many addicts’ stories are just like my mother’s. An endless cycle of drug addiction, arrest, lengthy prison sentence, release, and then it starts all over again. And again. And again.

I lost my mother because our court system is designed to allow addicts to fail. 

She was arrested this last time for possession of meth. She was sent to a rehabilitation facility for FIVE DAYS after a twenty year-long span of drug addiction. Do you want to know why? Because they release those that aren’t seen as a risk of relapsing. 

ARE YOU F*CKING SERIOUS???!

She has been an addict for twenty f*cking years and you’re gonna tell me that after FIVE DAYS in your facility, you think she isn’t going to go right back to the drugs?! WHAT. A. JOKE.

This is what I mean when I say that the system is designed to let people like her fail.

I am heartbroken. Outraged. Furious. Disgusted. Appalled.

If she would have gotten help the first time she was seen as having a problem, I could have a mom in my life right now. But instead I’m sitting here pissed off, writing a blog about how the government helped in making my life a living hell.

Mental Health Awareness Month

I’ve never talked about mental health on my blog before, but I figured it’s a great topic to talk about, and since May is Mental Health Awareness Month, there’s no better time than now!

When I think about words that describe myself, I first think about words like happy, energetic, motivated, determined, etc. But the truth is, there are more times than I’d like to admit where I feel the exact opposite of those. There are days I want to pull the blankets over my head and sleep the day away. There are days where I feel sad, have no energy, no motivation, and no patience.

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, 1 in 5 adults in the U.S. (46.6 million people) experience mental illness in a given year. Also, mood disorders, (including major depression, dysthymic disorder and bipolar disorder) are the third most common cause of hospitalization in the U.S. for both youth and adults 18–44 years old.

So if so many people are affected by a mental illness, why do I feel so alone when we realize that I may be suffering, too?

When I look back on my life, my darkest time was definitely throughout my junior high school years. I remember talking to the school counselor a lot during my 6th, 7th, and 8th grade years. It was the time in my life where I most struggled with the absence of my mom. I think it was when I first started to fully understand what had happened to me and began to realize that my life was much different that those of my classmates. I was angry a lot of the time. I grew up in a family of six siblings, and at this time I remember I would get in trouble a lot for hitting on them. I don’t consider myself a hostile person, but at that time I was looking for an outlet of my emotions that didn’t involve talking about or dealing with the severity of them. I resented my mom and the fact that she chose drugs over my sister and I, but my sister was years younger than I was and couldn’t fully understand what had happened. She was only 3 when DCFS took us from our mom. So I was dealing with all of those demons completely alone- even the person that I went through this with couldn’t help me.

It was my eighth grade year when I hit rock bottom. I had a bedroom in our basement, and my bed was one of those bunk beds that had a desk under it instead of a second mattress. I was sitting at that desk listening to some of Eminem’s darkest songs and thinking about how much I hated what I was going through. I got up and searches the medicine cabinet for any and all pills I could find.

I went back to my desk, laid the pills out, and started writing goodbye letters to my loved ones. Before I got through the last letter, I was bawling and starting to realize that this wasn’t something I could go through with. I imagined what my family would be like as they read these letters, and I realized I loved them WAY too much to put them through something like that.

I went to school the next day. During PE hour, I gave my best friend the letter I had wrote her the night before and explained to her what I was feeling. We cried together in the locker room and she took me to go get help from a teacher.

I’ll never forget that moment.

We grew apart in the following years, but I have treasured that moment of love and understanding for all of these years. She was the one that picked me up without judgement and led me to the help I needed. I love her for that to this very day.

Many years ago!!

There is no shame in getting the help you need. I recently read a post on Facebook that said something along the lines of hoping that one day getting help for mental health would be as normal as going to the doctor for an injury, and that getting released from school for mental health would be as normal as leaving for a tummy ache. What a world that would be. Let’s end the stigma against mental illness and help those suffering get the help they need.

There Might Be Hope!

There might be hope at the end of the tunnel, and I am so happy to share that news with all of you.

If you have read any of my posts prior to this, you already know that my mom is an addict. She has been in and out of prison my entire life due to her addiction to meth. She has been in jail for a few months now, because supposedly (I don’t know the details, I haven’t personally talked to my mom in months) she hit someone and got charged with battery (or something along those lines).

 

My sister still stays in contact with our mom, and she just told me yesterday that our mom is getting released because the entire story wasn’t true and they figured out that she wasn’t the one that hit someone (Again, all hearsay). Sooooo, here is where it gets good!

 

My sister said that our mom told her that she is checking herself into rehab once released and will be there for about 5-6 months!!!!!!!

 

Now I am definitely the type to get my hopes up about things like this, but I am trying not to. My mom has made us a lot of empty promises and has always returned to her old ways, so I am trying to keep my wits about this all so I don’t end up hurt. Buuuut, with this GREAT news, I have a few questions for some of you readers out there that have been through the rehabilitation process.

 

• How long does it usually take? I know everyone is different, but 5-6 months seems kind of short for someone that has been battling addiction for more than twenty years… I would hate for her to get out and relapse.

• Can you stay as long as you want/leave whenever you choose?

• Do you have to stay at the rehabilitation site while being treated? Or will she be able to go out on certain occasions? (I know every story and location is different, just trying to get a feel here.)

 

I have so many questions because my mother has never even so much as mentioned going to rehab before, so I think this could already be a really big step!!! Please keep her in your thoughts and pray it all works out for her. As for me, I’m going to try to hope for the best and expect the worst, in order to protect my heart. Please drop me a comment with advice on how to support someone going through rehab, or with any answers to the above questions. I want to be as informed as I can on this, so that I can support her in every way possible. I truly want to see her go through with and succeed in this journey! Oh how great would it be for my mom to be a grandma to my sweet baby girl!

An Argument Against Incarcerating Drug Addicts

I was originally assigned to write an argumentative essay in my composition class last semester, and I thought here would be a great place to share what I found. Drug abuse in the United States is a huge problem. If we have any intent to change this epidemic, we need to stop incarcerating drug addicts with no treatment or rehabilitation to help fix their problems.

Did you know that 60% of adults in federal prisons are serving their time for drug-related crimes? Did you know that on average, substance abuse costs our nation over 484 billion dollars every year? Did you know that there are more people with some sort of substance abuse problem than there are people with cancer? To be exact, there are 1.5 times more substance abusers than people with all cancers combined.

To make an educated decision on this matter, you must first understand just how big of a problem drug use is in the United States. For starters, most drug users try drugs for the first time as teenagers.

In 2013, the National Institute on Drug Abuse reported that there were about 2.8 million new illicit drug abusers, and 54.1% of these abusers were under the age of eighteen.

With this information, I’ve come up with a key question: Is incarcerating someone this young going to increase the chances of them doing something worse once released? I’ll leave that for you to think about yourself. Aside from that, 460,000 deaths were associated with the use of illicit drugs in 2000. According to a 2013 survey from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, nearly 24.6 million Americans reported that they had used an illicit drug in the past month. That is nearly 9.4% of America’s population! 80% of crimes committed that led to incarceration in the US involved drugs or alcohol, and 60% of Americans arrested for any crime tested positive for illicit drugs at the time of arrest. Still not convinced?

More people use prescription opioids in the United States than use tobacco.

Not only is drug abuse a national health crisis, it also has a tremendous effect on economic productivity and the way we spend our money. In healthcare costs, costs to the justice system, and lost economic productivity, substance abuse disorders cost Americans 484 billion dollars every year. That’s far more than the annual cost to treat diabetes! The problem with drug abuse goes even further. Substance abuse also contributes to America’s top social problems, such as violence, child abuse, homelessness, and crime. Nearly half of the people arrested for homicide, theft, or assault were under the influence of illegal drugs. Two-thirds of those in drug abuse rehab centers reported that they were sexually abused as adolescents, and 31% of homeless people in America are addicted to drugs or alcohol. It cannot be argued that there is not a problem with illicit drug use in our country.

We often times may think that locking up drug offenders is the best option, but what really happens to drug addicts once they get out of prison?

The United States has the highest incarceration rate in the entire world.

In 2009, the United States’ prison population exceeded 2.3 million people. That’s more than a quarter of the world’s prisoners. In fact, more than half of all Americans that are serving time in prison are there for nonviolent crimes, such as drug-related offenses. On top of that, more than five million people are on some sort of supervision such as parole or probation. This correlates to one in every 31 adults in the United States is in prison, jail, or some sort of supervised release.

40% of felony probationers are rearrested for a new felony within three years of their release to supervision.

The statistics prove that incarceration does not help drug addicts or prevent them from committing crimes after release. We are foolish to think that locking these people up is a solution to the drug crisis that is happening in our country.  Nearly 95% of addicts that get incarcerated will return to drug abuse after their release from prison, and anywhere from 60-80% of these addicts commit new crimes.

There is no doubt that incarceration is ineffective in preventing drug addicts from returning to the habits that got them incarcerated in the first place. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, approximately 77% of drug offenders get arrested for a new offense within five years of their release from prison.

Substance abuse disorders have a significant effect on the brain. They affect a person’s ability to make good decisions, responses to stressful situations, and the reward circuits within the brain. Nonetheless, addiction should be treated with the same compassion and urgency as any other disease. Imprisonment does not address the problem that underlies criminal behavior.

In our country’s prisons, 65% of inmates fit the diagnosis of addiction, yet only 11% of these individuals actually receive any sort of rehabilitation or treatment.

Not only are incarcerated addicts not being treated, those that are, aren’t getting adequate rehabilitation. A majority of those that are in charge of these programs don’t care about the program that they are in charge of. If we are serious about rehabilitating drug-addicted criminals (that also want to make the change), we have to offer them a good support network. After completing the poor drug recovery program that is offered in America’s prisons, they are then released back into general population where they can then be exposed to drugs that are smuggled into the prison. Ultimately, any progress that they may have gained from the program is lost.

So what is the solution? I will be the first to agree with the argument that drug addicts that commit crimes deserve to be punished for those crimes. That being said, we can do better to rehabilitate those offenders so that upon their release from incarceration, they can be productive members of society that are much less likely to return to crime or drugs. In the long run, drug rehabilitation of criminals would save Americans thousands of dollars.  In 2006, the annual cost to incarcerate someone was anywhere from $24,000-$40,000. Multiply that by the 2.3 million inmates in America’s prisons, and the annual overall cost is STAGGERING. Since we’re talking money, let me make my argument even stronger.

Out of every tax dollar spent by the government on drug abuse, only 1.9 cents are spent on addiction prevention and treatment.

If we put in the time, money, and effort into proper, satisfactory treatment, the number of repeat offenders would go down; therefore, saving the government money. Initial drug treatment is much cheaper than incarceration and fewer arrests leads to lower court costs, the list of benefits goes on and on. If just 40% of addicted prisoners were given treatment instead of jail, the savings could be nearly 12.9 billion dollars. We need to give addicts the option to receive a thorough treatment. If not in place of a prison sentence, then along with their prison sentence.

There are also prevention methods we can use on adolescents that can help prevent even the experimentation with drugs, in hopes that future incarceration is not likely. These methods include teaching kids healthy ways to deal with everyday stress instead of resulting to substances to cope. Stress is one of the biggest reasons anyone turns to drug use in the first place. We can also teach today’s youth effective ways of refusing illicit drugs when offered them.

In conclusion, I want to personally address an opposing argument that often comes up in the discussion of whether or not addicted offenders deserve proper rehabilitation after committing a non-violent crime. Many people are likely to jump the gun and say things like, “Drug addicts are breaking the law and deserve to be punished” or “People that do drugs are going to commit crimes.” Whereas sometimes those statements prove to be true, there is a deeper issue that needs to be confronted. How many families in the US are directly affected by substance abuse? I haven’t done the research to answer this powerful question, but I want to answer it with an eye-opening personal experience that tells why I am so passionate about the topic in which I am writing. In 2002, I was taken from my mother by Child Protective Services because of her addiction to illicit drugs and alcohol. My mother has struggled with her disease my entire life, and to this day I still do not have much of a relationship with the woman that gave birth to me. She has been in and out of federal prisons ever since. The course of my life since the day we were separated has changed substantially, as you can probably imagine. Reflecting on the result that her addiction has had on me, I have just one grudge. Had she been given proper rehabilitation upon her first stint with the law and the use of illicit drugs, I could have been reunited with the woman I so dearly want to know. Because of the lack of treatment and care for her disease, my family was left torn and without a woman that truly is a good person when not under the influence of hard drugs.

We are wrong to assume that drug addicts are bad people.

They are mothers, fathers, aunts, brothers, daughters, and friends.

They deserve love, compassion, and for someone to aid in and believe in their recovery.

America has got it backwards on how we deal with substance abuse, and we can do better.

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Information and statistics found in this article can be found at: