Everyone who enters a New Jersey detox facility for opioid use will have their own story. Addiction treatment in New Jersey, as well, has its share of tales told by people who come in for treatment. That story, however, seems to be counter to the narrative of what is known by people who aren’t close to someone who has an addiction to opioids and opiates like Vicodin, Oxycontin and heroin.
The narrative we culturally spread to each other when we have no personal experience is that addiction to any substance, whether to candy or methamphetamine, is absolutely, without a doubt, undeniably a moral failing; that it’s a choice someone made deliberately to destroy their own life or an attempt to harm others. Troll any comments section to a story about opioid abuse, which is currently the hot topic and highlight of addiction today due to the growing amount of overdoses (which overtook vehicular fatalities last year in numbers) and you will undoubtedly come across someone paroting that narrative.
You’ll often see “It’s their own fault”, “They made the choice to take the drug, they deserve what they get”, etc. People like to think they’re completely in control of their life, that they’re immaculately informed about everything they are doing and of sound mind during those decisions made, that humans are perfect and by extension that other people are as well….except when they aren’t. The problem with this illustration of addiction being a complete choice is that, especially with the opioid and heroin addiction epidemic in the news, seems to often times originate out of a doctor’s office by people who hold these very same beliefs.
A recent story out of Texas told the story of a woman who was introduced to hydrocodone by her doctor after she fell out of the back of the truck, complicating back pains she had since she was a teen. For ten years, she was an on again, off again of painkiller addict and graduated to heroin for its price and effectiveness for the problem she thought she was treating. She even stated at one point, “I could feel the overdose coming, and I just didn’t care.”
According to an addiction recovery council member in Texas, Justin Uphill, “You can actually become dependent on an opioid in a week.”
Considering the prescription came from someone charged with the public trust, someone who’s entire job is to not harm but to help, it really throws the wrench in the spokes of ‘THE Narrative’ of choice. There’s always going to be someone who will find a way to put absolute blame on the person rather than circumstances and other known contributing factors that lead to addiction developing in a person, but the overall theme of ‘it’s your fault’ keeps following the condition around.
People sometimes make mistakes, whether they’re doctors prescribing a potentially addictive and dangerous drug in an attempt to help a patient, or someone who’s genetically or psychologically susceptible to addiction not knowing they are taking a potentially addictive substance. Instead of blame, which solves nothing, let’s listen to their story instead of buying into the one-size-fits-all narrative.