She stumbles onto the clinic floor with eyes glazed and pupils dilated, with hands shaking and body pacing. Words coming out in incoherent sentences as she tries to give the sweetest, elderly lady a haircut. My heart breaks. She’s high again. Heroine wins again and there is nothing I can do. I feel so helpless, so powerless, and so angry. Angry at her, angry at whoever supplied her, and angry at society.
I am no stranger to dealing with addicts. Having been in the entertainment and beauty industries for over ten years, it seems like every artist I know has struggled or is struggling with some form of addiction. We all have family members, friends, or ourselves that struggle with addiction to porn, drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, food, caffeine, etc. What never ceases to amaze me is how faithful we are to our addictions, how we sacrifice greatness and ultimate satisfaction on the altar of the immediate. Obviously the root of all of this is sin, but simply saying that is both unsatisfying and unhelpful. There is so much more to addiction than just “sin makes me want to do everything I can apart from God so I choose heroine, sex, porn, food, gambling, gaming, meth, cocaine, pills, weed, alcohol, fill in the blank to fill me and complete me and make me happy.” There is a society full of government, organizations, churches, hospitals, and people who SUCK.
Yep, I’m being extreme.
In a society where money and trade is everything, we fight a war on the import and export of drugs. It’s fast money. Dangerous but fast. I know a friend of a friend that netted $250,000 in one year selling pot. We see it glorified and idolized in shows like Breaking Bad, where healthcare costs become so high Walter is chooses to cook and sell meth to pay his hospital bills and make sure his wife and kids have savings for life and college if he dies. Because, as a high school science teacher, his salary in the good old USA can’t provide for his medical bills and save for college or emergencies. You find yourself sympathetic with Walter.
For one 30 minute walk-in clinic visit where they took no blood or pee or X-rays I have a $200 bill to pay because I have no insurance. I can’t even begin to imagine the medical bills for someone with chronic/terminal illnesses that need hospitalization or ongoing treatment, let alone addicts that need to be in hospitalized detox and an inpatient rehabilitation centers. Trust me. I’ve looked into it for loved ones. Rehab can cost a whole years salary for some people. So our government comes up with The Affordable Care Act, a half-hearted, ineffectual band-aid. Healthcare is charity, in that old school King James way. Charity, from charis, love, generosity, devotedness. Not a money-making endeavor.
So addicts, if they are lucky, get put into hospitalized detox and then get bounced to maybe 2-4 weeks of inpatient rehabilitation, and then a life long commitment to attend outpatient rehab? WHAT A JOKE. Most addicts have spent years in their addiction but are expected to be able to function back in a society with drugs available at the touch of a finger and alcohol available everywhere within a month? You need time to replace your addiction and learn to live life in a rhythm and community without your addiction. TIME. Until we as a society start valuing human life instead of work and the mighty dollar no movement is ever going to be made to lifelong change.
Create a therapeutic culture, USA, that glorifies and highly prizes being a whole and healthy person, not how much money can be put into your pockets. We as a society have devalued human beings into machines. Stop glorifying that party lifestyle, Hollywood, to justify your shattered view and treatment of humanity. Stop dealing primarily with the supply side of the War On Drugs, Government, and deal more fully with the demand side. And let each of us support government leaders and organizations that are really trying to affect positive change by valuing human life and the planet we live on.
She vomits in the bushes and is finally asked to leave school. Crying and ashamed she packs her things defeated and hopeless. I pray that I never forget that image. I pray that her tear-stained face and hollow eyes burn so deeply within me that I will do whatever it takes around me to educate, empower, and support. So that the story of being destroyed in the destruction of addiction will end.
May the cycle be broken.