Having a past is nothing to be ashamed of, but stigma and bias shame us all…

This week I’ve been reading a lot in the news about new psychoactive substances and how they have gripped the homeless people of our country, turning them into zombies. When i read these articles or see the devastating scenes on the news, I’m often struck with fear and have tears streaming down my face. I imagine what these people are going through, whether there are families watching the same as i and breaking their hearts as they recognise the person on the tv. I also think about how addiction and homelessness has affected my own family. I lay awake most nights reading in sheer disbelief the comments posted on social media, of the absolute niaviety and ignorance from people of this country about this subject and it makes my heart hurt.

Drugs never appealed to me growing up. I come from a family where drugs and alcohol have destroyed people I’m close too. My parents always instilled in me and my sister from a young age that drugs were bad news and i got to see first hand the affects of what addiction can do to someone and their mind. This impacted on me greatly when growing up, i was surrounded by people that did it and encouraged me to try but i always said no, always wishing that they could see the other side to the storey. I never caved to peer pressure, i figured I’d rather take the jibes about being a wuss and un cool then end up with an addication i couldn’t control. I won’t lie though i once smoked some cannabis in my early twenties; trying to impress, alcohol and the allure of trying something thats deemed mild in comparison to other things put me in that position. It was a horrible experience, i hated every minute of it and if i wasn’t sure before then about drugs i certainly was after. I’ve been exposed to drug users and alcoholics my whole life, not just with family but through boyfriends, friends and at work, and even though it’s shown me things that have left lasting scars on my memory some good has come out of it. Because it has also educated and shown me what i don’t want for my own life.

I read a comment the other night about a herion user saying “lets hope he overdoses, he made his choice”. Wow! i couldn’t believe how someone could be so cold and matter of fact. That’s a member of someones family. That’s a person there talking about!

However, i do understand what he meant by people having choices, and before i never really understood why they made the wrong ones. Sometimes i still don’t understand the physical need to put substances in your body and put your loved ones through the pain of watching you fade away, but i can imagine the emotional needs. How people can get to such a low point, i can imagine the need to escape from life and i can imagine how easy it might be to think that that’s the answer. Those things, yeah i can understand that. We’ve all been in a position where life has got too much, where the darkness has shrouded us and we’ve reached for something to make us feel better. Those things might be the gym, a cigarette, a glass of wine, chocolate and we all stand on a knife edge with the potential to be addicted to something. If your not one of those people and your resolve is strong then your one of the lucky ones. Me, when I’m feeling like the world is against me i pull out all my resources, my family, my friends, work and they pull me back from the brink. Some people though are not so lucky as to have these things and its not for us to judge the path they’ve ended up on.

I could never tell you exactly what addiction does to a person or their family it’s something you would have to experience yourself to understand the sheer gravity of, and i wouldn’t wish that on anyone. Those of you who have experienced it though know how soul destroying it is. To watch my mums heart break each time she thinks about how it has taken everything from her brother and left him a shadow of who he was is enough for me to just say no to drugs. To hear how my dad struggles with the concept of people poisoning their bodies with illicit drugs when he has to rely on prescription drugs just to keep him alive from illness is enough for me to just say no to drugs and to watch my own brother struggle through mental illness, drugs and homelessness is enough for me to just say no to drugs but i realise it could have easily been so different.

I can’t tell people how to live their lives and i can’t give people the strenght to just say no. What i can do though is explain to people that life isn’t black and white, it’s not as easy as saying people made their choice, it’s not as simple as presuming that all people who use drugs or drink alcohol are selfish or that homeless people made their own bed. Everyone you see who has an addiction has their own storey about how they got there, every person had a life before addiction and after addiction, every person has a family out there and every person is still a human being who deserves compassion and empathy for their situation. Addiction doesn’t define them it’s a part of them there are so many other things that make a person and we should all remember that it could be us or a loved one at any moment. Addiction isn’t biase it can come for anyone and it’s about time we start educating ourselves about it.

I’ll forever teach my own child about the dangers of drugs and alcohol and pray to god that she has enough knowledge and strenght to say no and stay in control of herself. I hope other people educate their babies to stay safe but to also have regard for the people that couldn’t say no and to show kindness and understanding to those people and their families and realise that it goes beyond the substance.

“When your unsure of what hell looks like, look in the eyes of an addict or their family. Don’t judge them, pray for them, because knowone is ever too lost to be saved…”

Dais x

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