I am here, in the shadow of loss as addiction tortures my friend before my eyes. When you watch someone you love be consumed by addiction, the person you knew fades away. You know they don’t want this for themselves, they don’t want to let everyone they know down. They aren’t proud, they aren’t happy, just consumed. Addiction is one of natures enormous forces of disaster. You can plead with the user to stop, you can threaten, you can incentivize, yet addiction does not compromise. It does not hear reason nor heed threats. Not for you, not for them. And so it tears through our lives like a fire that we did not start and cannot stop. Every fiber of their liveliness and ability to connect with people, with reality… it is all on fire. We watch it spread like a house fire, a beautiful old home, full of love and memories, turning to ash before our eyes. We throw water at it as best we can and hope that when it burns itself out, the damage is fixable.
That is addiction. It is painful. It is emotionally and financially damaging. It is rampant. Drugs and alcohol damage society beyond measure. Yet the war on drugs seems to be on the back burner. Where are the resources to give our generation an opportunity to beat its drug and alcohol addiction? These are Americans, within our borders, being held at gunpoint by a chemical addiction that they can’t beat on their own. Don’t they deserve a fair shot at reclaiming their lives? The government fails when it lets the drugs enter the country, it fails when it lets the drugs pass from dealer to dealer, it fails when the dealer sells it to a user, it fails unforgivably when drugs pass hands to a kid, and it fails again when it lets its citizens be torn down by an addiction they cannot shake.
Why aren’t there regional rehabilitation centers that extend a hand to addicts and their helpless families? When we can only plead with our loved ones, government could intervene and do what we can’t and what the user can’t. It could involuntarily keep them in a place where they are away from drugs and bad environments, where they can go through withdrawals and recover. They could make a law that, after getting sober, a person can take away their own right to buy alcohol, for life. They could have halfway housing where recovering users have to check in every night and they can live there permanently. Addicts could sign over their money management to a sponsor. Paychecks would be direct deposit only and their cards won’t work at an ATM. You cant buy heroin with a credit card. Why do we try so feebly to combat something so destructive? Why, when my friend is losing his battle against coke, do I have to choose between turning him into the police or watching him refuse help and burn out?
Drugs continue to thrive and it’s just part of society. Many young people are stoners before they ever get a chance to grow up and truly decide what they want to do. Some kids are addicts before they can drive a car. American youth wasted on meth or coke. Kids having their dreams and futures sealed at fifteen. They’re having their first kiss and a year later making a choice that leads to a lifelong battle or worse, six feet deep, OD-ed, car accident. We’re a generation where drugs are nothing but a grim addiction. Drugs were once part of the emergence of rock and role, and part of a decade long era of partying together, sex, and VW vans. Our generation gets high in basements and apartments with the blinds pulled. Drugs have lost whatever vibrancy they once had. In those basements and dark apartments are lost friends, siblings, and cousins. Dead or burnt out, their absence is equally missed.
This isn’t about laws. It isn’t stopping the legalization of weed. It’s about people who need help and there’s no helping hand. It’s about keeping drugs away from kids until they’re adults and can make choices. Government hasn’t kept drugs away from kids, and it’s response to drug use is prison. They send our struggling youth to a place where more people seem to get addicted to heroin than get sober. America isn’t a country that is for carrying people and creating dependents. It’s a country of opportunity, where if you try hard you will succeed, where young men and women can fall and there’s a hand to help them up. Because a fifteen year old who tries drugs and ends up an addict, that’s society failing, not them.
Dedicated to Macklemore & Ryan Lewis for “Otherside” and “Starting Over”