I remember learning about the death of JFK in elementary school, and my Social Studies teacher telling us that the question of their generation was “Where were you when you learned that John F. Kennedy died?”
When Michael Jackson passed, people said that would be the question of our generation. I know exactly where I was that day… In my car, riding down I-10, and I found out on twitter. And again almost 3 years later, when we lost Whitney Houston… Sitting in my bed, I learned the news again via twitter.
I’m not wondering where you were when we lost possibly the two greatest Icons of our time. I want to know where were you the first time you were offered drugs.
For me, it was my Senior year in high school. We had just left the Senior Dinner and were all hanging out as a class. At some point, a joint was passed around, when it got to me a friend didn’t even offer he just skipped me. It wasn’t really an issue. But a few minutes later a “frenemy” brought it over to me and tried to shame me into taking a drag. I declined. Heck I remember just a couple of years before, when I was still living in Louisiana, I kinda considered the kids that smoked cigarettes “druggies.” And while I didn’t smoke cigarettes or weed, I did drink alcohol. And so did everyone I knew. Truthfully, I was about 12 the first time I sipped champagne (yes, I got in trouble). But it wasn’t uncommon. People often joke that if you haven’t had a drink by the time you’re 13, then you are probably not really from that Parish. Kinda scary, but it never fazed me. That is until 2006/2007 when my younger cousins were attending parties where HARD DRUGS are being used. Pills, coke and even crack… To answer what I know you are wondering, yes I eventually tried weed in college. Tried it once, and that was it.
For years we heard of the drug “epidemic” and it generally referred to the street drugs: weed, cocaine, crack, and heroine. Truth of the matter is, the “legal” drugs are doing more harm. I don’t care who you are, where you are from, or how much money you have; you know an addict…
How many of you remember the untimely death of Lynn Bias??? Refresher: Lynn Bias was drafted to the Boston Celtics in 1986, he died two days later, at the age of 22; the result of a cocaine overdose. It was the 80’s and the 80’s were all about cocaine, and its cheaper form, crack.
I have a relative that knows all there is to know about drugs. I don’t care how new we think it is. He can tell you all about it. If possible, he can tell you how to make it, where to get it, how to use it, and the effects of it. He’s done and seen it all. Of all the addicts that I have known over the years, only two have actually explained to me how their addiction began. One lady, while dealing with the death of her mother needed something stronger than weed to deal… Her brother gave her crack. I was 10 at the time, and to my knowledge it took about 9 years to free herself of that addiction. And although she beat crack, she did not defeat addiction. She is still an alcoholic, and only seems to fall in love with crack addicted men. Another addict was my ex husband. He was an addict when we met, I just didn’t realize it. He ALWAYS had to have something… in the beginning it was beer and weed; then it was “fry” (embalming fluid) and eventually crack. It took 10 years for his addiction to blossom from the mild stuff to crack. And I am sure that at times I enabled him. Eventually we divorced. My sons and I haven’t seen him in almost four years.
Somewhere in the early 2000’s, America’s love affair with the hard drugs shifted to prescription drugs. They were LEGAL. Heck you go right on over to your doctor, and he gives them to you. How cool is that???
There is an article from July 2005 that says prescription drugs are 16,400% deadlier than terrorists. Another article from November 2008 stated that prescription drugs kill 300 % MORE Americans than illegal drugs. A November 2011 study by the CDC reveals the following:
- Prescription drug overdoses killed 15,000 people in 2008; more than three times the 4,000 killed in 1999.
- In 2010 nearly 12 million Americans reported non medical use of prescription drugs.
- Nearly half a million ER visits in 2009 were related to misusing or abusing pills.
- Non medical use of prescription cost health insurers about $72.5 BILLION annually in direct health care costs.
In the time between the July 2005 article and the November 2011 study, we famously lost Anna Nicole Smith (8/2007), Heath Ledger (1/2008), Michael Jackson (6/2009) and Amy Winehouse(7/2011). And finally on Saturday, we lost Whitney Houston. While Whitney and Amy famously battled with illegal drugs; it seems eventually their addiction became a little more “legal.”
In June of 2010, it was estimated that 100, 000 Americans die as a result of pills each year, Break that down, and that’s 273.9726 Americans a DAY. Let that simmer for a minute…
Just as I have known crack addicts, I have known pill poppers as well. Most are still alive, and some still indulge. I think back to the time when a friend gave me half of a Xanax. I slept about 40 of the next 48 hours. All day Sunday, woke up Monday and fought sleep all day at work. I was home by about 4, and slept until 7 on Tuesday Morning. So if I am honest with myself, I have to admit that between Saturday night and Tuesday Morning, it would be easy to say I slept at least 50 hours. That’s two days that my oldest son was left to care for his little brother. SMH (No I have never taken another Xanax). Unless I have a migraine, I won’t take anything any stronger than a BC powder, lol. Yes, I still drink alcohol. But the two days my babies spent virtually alone, doesn’t compare to the lifetime that is usually experienced by an addicts child.
I try not to judge. And because I have dearly loved addicts, I have a respect for people who struggle with addiction. Because one false move, and it could be any of us. Regardless of what we may think, NO ONE tries drugs to get addicted.
Yet, I still wonder… what if we had a “Just Say No” campaign that included prescription drugs. What if all doctors got the Conrad Murray treatment. And finally, what if we truly attempted to fix the problem before it spiraled out of control instead of after.
Now, back to the question at hand… Where were you. When the Whitney’s, Michael’s and Amy’s in your life needed you? When you first realized they were an addict? When they needed just one person to say no, when everyone else was saying yes. Where were you?????
And if you’re an addict, where were you when you took that first hit, swallowed that first pill. Do you remember who gave it to you? And do you realize that after all this time, you’re still chasing that same high? And worse, do you realize that high will never come? Where were you when you first realize that you needed to stop? It’s not to late…
Last night during her show Wendy Williams urged us to call out the addicts in our lives. I agree, but I think we should take it a step further. In addition to the addicts, lets call out the enablers, the dealers, the doctors, the pharmacists and yes even the pharmacies. Yes, I know we can’t save everyone; but can’t we try to save someone. What if we can prevent another Cissy or Katherine from burying a child. Or if we can spare the Matildas and Bobbi-Kristinas of the world the heartache of losing a parent…
I don’t know about you, but my heart simply can’t take anymore “Where were you’s?”