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Monday, September 29, 2008

Oprah on heroin

Haha... ok. It's not how it sounds. She's not on smack - but her show today is about heroin addicts.

The first story was about a family of five from Ohio. Both mom and dad are addicted to heroin. Dad had a very profitable job (he said he would make between $80,000 and $115,000 per year) until he hurt his back at work. His doctor prescribed various pain killers (Oxycontin was one... I can't remember what the other was), which became less and less effective, and were (obviously) addictive. He made the switch to heroin because 1. it was cheaper and 2. it was a lot stronger. I'm not sure how his wife got involved in all this, but I imagine when you live with an addict it's easy to get sucked in. They have two teen-aged sons who are also addicted to heroin. One of the sons said he remembers the first time he saw his parents shoot up, and he used to think they were "throwing their life away" and wanted them to quit. Well, no surprise, they're now in the same boat as their parents. The family lives in a shelter, and dad has sold all of their possessions for drugs. He said he has stolen things, and he's occasionally gotten an odd job here or there to help pay for his habit. In the last year, he said he's spent between $30,000 and $40,000 on heroin. I think he shares with his wife, but I don't know if this total includes her habit, or if she's bought stuff on her own. He said that he does not provide drugs for his sons, so that total doesn't include their use. Dad and Mom also have a 13 month old child. Oprah found four different treatment centers willing to take each family member, as long as they all called on their own and did so in 24 hrs. All four of them said they wanted the help.

Story #2 is about a young mom named Merry (her spelling, not mine) who is 5 months pregnant with a little girl. She used multiple times a day, and she had to get up at 4 am because she would wake up from starting to sick from withdrawal. She's destroyed almost all of her veins, and she has trouble finding a place to shoot up. She did go to a detox center and as of the shows taping, she'd been clean for 2 wks. Her mom said this was the 5th time she had gone through detox. Oprah found a residential rehab facility that this girl can go to.

Don't get me wrong - I feel for all of these people and their families. I think it's tragically sad and I completely get the cycle of pain pills leading to street drugs, and I understand that heroin is especially hard to detox from. What angers me about these two stories is the kids. That first family - WHY do they still have custody of their three children? They're living in a shelter, so there are people around to witness what's going on. How can NO ONE call CPS to step in until the parents can get their shit sorted out? This has led to their two older sons becoming addicts, and who knows what kind of care that baby gets. The treatment center willing to take the mom said she could bring the baby with her. I hope that's on the condition of if she leaves, they're calling to make sure that baby is safe. The story about Merry was a little better, as her mom said she has had custody of the 4 yr old girl since she was 1 1/2. I can't help but wonder what's going to happen to the baby Merry's carrying, though, as she's 1. had to detox from heroin along with her mom 2. is on whatever Rx replacement pill they put Merry on and 3. has all the issues that come along with a pregnant mom who smokes. I just can't believe that these people are allowed to retain custody of their kids when they can't even manage their own lives. I think Merry would still have custody of her 4 yr old girl if her mom wasn't there to step in.

I find this whole thing very fucked up, and I'm very upset by it.

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