Initiating Dialogue

Open Discussion O.D. Apparel is committed to furthering the dialogue on addiction.  This post consists of an interview between one of our contributors and the case manager of a nonprofit agency.  Both individuals have been directly impacted by addiction and wish to remain anonymous.  We believe content like this is valuable because it aligns with the spirit of our vision to create.

What are your thoughts on addiction?

Addiction is a serious illness, similar to an imbalance. It is a part of you. The trouble is that there is no easy on/off switch.

How has addiction impacted you personally?

In a way addiction is comparable to second hand smoke, I’ve been the byproduct of someone else’s narrative.  At times it brought my family closer than I thought we ever could be.  On the same note it’s torn us far, far apart as well.

Could you explain your experience with addiction, what happened?

My brother is an addict and has been his whole life. He’s overdosed on three separate occasions most recently about one year ago.  After the OD his friends threw him outside and left him to die. I frequently take him to the hospital so he can undergo dialysis.

What particular memory has stuck with you?

One evening my brother walked into our mother’s house for dinner. I could tell he was distraught. He walked up to me and handed me something. I looked in my hand and I was holding his crack pipe. I sensed shame in his voice when he told me I needed to keep it from him. So there I was in possession of a crack pipe thinking, “what the heck am I supposed to do now?”  I drove to an abandoned part of the neighborhood and smashed the pipe.

Looking back what would you have done anything differently?

I wouldn’t have been such an enabler. My brother is ashamed of his choices. He used to call a lot, sobbing and looking for support, but eventually I developed a tough skin. I couldn’t continue with the enabling and inevitably he was too afraid of me finding out what trouble he was in.  He’s stopped calling so much.

Your brother is a suffering addict, have you had issues?

I drank a lot, and I will probably never stop drinking completely. I noticed the tendencies in myself and I have done everything in my power to combat them. I stay busy, I stay educated, and I talk to people.

Is that why you pursued your career?

Honestly my brother is the reason. I also feel that I have this innate calling to help other people. The father of my children is an addict and alcoholic. I was with him for seven years and have had to experience much in regard to abuse and addiction. I don’t think we should wait for people to hit rock bottom. My brothers rock bottom will be when he can no longer open his eyes. I wish he could have found more care and more purpose.

What are your thoughts on rehab/NA?

Most times people are dealing with multiple addictions. There is no 12 step plan targeted toward the whole person. Everything is kept separate. This needs to change.

How do you feel about the social stigma attached to addiction?

People view addiction as a choice. In truth, many of those suffering with the illness of addiction are ashamed. Often times people steer clear of those struggling. The government needs to step up and tackle this issue but the vision’s not there. These people get swept under the rug.

How can we better combat the problem of addiction?

The simple answer is to start treating addiction like any other health issue that could affect anyone. Addiction is not a choice, who would choose it? It is an inherited disease. We need to eliminate the shame connected to the illness. A lot of insurances will only cover seven days of treatment which is your detox phase. Detox needs to be done in a medical setting. The underlying issue often doesn’t get addressed.

If addiction is like any other health issue, what makes the difference between who gets better from treatment?

In my opinion it comes down to money, education, and environmental and personal factors with education being the most important.

What are your thoughts on how addiction has progressed?

Social media has negatively impacted the progression of addiction. I believe that while it can help raise positive awareness, it is more often the case that it can hurt our perceptions. It seems to glamorize drugs and eliminate the problems connected to them.

What are your thoughts on OD apparel and our movement?

This movement is awesome. The idea is enthralling. It is going to provide education and awareness in hip and trendy way. We need this.

“Through our struggles we will shine, and we will step out of Hell.”