It’s a hard road, the one that we walk after our children die from a drug overdose. It’s a walk that numbs your feet from the miles of isolation and grief. So many Orange County moms and dads are on this road now, too many of them. I’m only one of thousands. The White House is now trying to grapple with the problem (In heroin fight, White House tries to break down walls between public health, police, August 16, 2015), but they will likely fall short. A strategy that doesn’t prioritize empowering people who use drugs to save their own lives and the lives of their peers by making the opiate overdose reversal medicine naloxone far more readily available to them is doomed to disappoint expectations. Ask a parent of a child who could have been saved by naloxone, they’ll tell you.
Lost in the publicity around the White House’s plan to reduce accidental drug overdose deaths are the faces and stories of our own sons and daughters, our friends and siblings, the people we knew who died from a drug overdose. They were smart, thoughtful, good people. I’m so tired of how we “other” them in our stories about drug addiction. My own son Jeff certainly didn’t deserve to be “othered.” He was athletic and charming; he was handsome and kind. His dad and I were very proud of him for turning into such a bright, lovely, young man. Heroin changed him in some ways, but in other ways he remained the loving, gentle person he always was.