Letter: We are forgetting the problems of drug addiction during COVID

The editor:

With the focus on the extreme impact that COVID-19 has had on society, I feel that we are forgetting the problems of drug addiction.

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My family has been impacted by addiction for close to 15 years and the author S.E.K. describes what it is like to be a mother so much better than I ever could.  

The silent pandemic (ignored or forgotten).

Saskatchewan had 379 drug overdose deaths in 2020. Did you know that is more than twice as many due to Covid-19?  

We need to address this!

Seven years ago my son passed away while struggling with the cunning, baffling, powerful disease of “addiction” or as I would rather have it referred to SUD (substance use disorder). No autopsy was performed; the coroner’s report listed “undetermined causes” as manner of death.

This means he is not even counted in the statistics.

Jeff was more than his disease: he had dreams and goals, which were beyond his reach once his addiction took hold of him. Society (as in medical doctors) contributed to this disease when prescribing addictive painkillers after a serious car accident.  Sadly, once addiction took control, there was little or no help available to fight his battle.

I am grateful that there have been some positive steps taken since then in combating addiction, however, we need to do more. 

The stigma still remains.

With permission of the author S.E.K., I would like to share the following piece, named I am the Mother. 

 

I am the mother.

I am the mother of a child who died from an overdose.

It breaks my heart, but I will say it.

I was the mother of an addict.

I was, and am, also the mother of a beloved child.

Do not turn away from me.

I am not jinxed. It is not contagious. My presence and influence are no danger to you or yours.

Do not judge me.

This did not happen because I caused it, deserved it, or failed to stop it. I have four children, and only one suffered this fate. I do not know why, and neither do you.

Do not tell me we should have tried harder.

You have no idea of our struggle.

Do not judge my child.

He was more than the label “addict” can ever tell you. He was smart. He was funny. He was a wonderful father. He was needed. He was loved. He is missed by many. If all you see is “addict,” you do not know my child.

Do not pity me.

I struggled along with my child, and I struggle still. Grief is the price of losing something precious and irreplaceable. I would not trade my 29 years with my son. I have memories sweeter than many other people will ever be able to embrace.

Do not pity my child.

He struggled, but he also lived. He brought a beautiful daughter into this world. He helped everyone he knew, and many people he did not know. The world is a better place because he was in it, and he enjoyed life to the fullest.

Do not question me.

I did the best I could do to help my child. I do not know if things would have been different if I had tried a different approach, and neither do you. In fact, we tried many approaches. Failure to win is not the same as failure. If you have not lived it, you can never understand the intensity of my efforts, just as I still struggle to understand the depth of his.

Do not blame me.

If you have not lived through this, you are not qualified to tell me why my child became an addict, why he continued to return to the drugs, or why he could not quit. His family and I were with him every step of the way, and I cannot answer these questions. My son lived this struggle, and he could not answer them.

Do not tell me you understand.

His struggle ended the night he died. Mine did not. There are very few people in my life who can say they understand his struggle or mine. Be grateful you cannot.

Do not think that you are more loving/ loved/stronger than we were.

I loved my son, and he loved me. His sisters loved their brother, and he loved his sisters. His girlfriend and child loved him, and he loved them. This is not a problem which can be solved by love. Love and addiction are not connected. You would have to live our struggle to ever understand the love and the effort that were involved on all sides.

Do not congratulate yourself and your family as being better than me or mine.

If you and your family have avoided the demon of addiction, I am happy for you. But do not fool yourself. You are lucky. Addiction can happen to anyone, anywhere, any time. It is found in broken homes and happy ones. It is found in the ghetto and in palaces. It victimizes the smart, the ignorant, the strong, the weak, the brave and the timid. It affects male and female, young and old, Black, White, Latino and Asian. Addiction is like cancer-it chooses its victims blindly and from all walks of life.

I am the mother of a child who died from an overdose.

I am the proud mother of a beloved child.

 

Dedicated to all the mothers (and fathers) suffering.

 

Esther Green

Swift Current

© Copyright Estevan Mercury

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