“Go to Jail! Go Directly to Jail! Do not pass Go! Do Not Collect $200!”. Many of you may remember this from Monopoly, a family game played for hours, days, weeks and even months. The game could go on and on and in some cases, it may never end. Sadly, the heroin epidemic is a lot like monopoly. Drug dealers go directly to jail and they do not pass go and they do not collect $200. But more drug dealers quickly take their place and the cycle of drug dealing, addiction, overdose, death and arrests continue. So how do we get drug dealers off the streets forever? How do we protect our sons and daughters from heroin overdose and death? How do we break this vicious cycle of drug dealing, drug use and death?
Are Drug Dealer Criminals or Victims?
Nobody wants to see drug dealers as victims. After all, they are out there on the streets every day peddling toxic “medication” that’s purchased and used by hurting and sick individuals as a means to ease their pain and suffering. “Getting High” is the rare exception rather than the reason most people buy heroin and drugs. Most drug and heroin addicts have been at it so long that their perpetual and regular heroin purchase is to get or stay well – to prevent themselves from getting sick because of the physical dependence that has developed from ongoing use. If the heroin is strong enough or mixed with other, more powerful opiates like fentanyl, an addict may experience a slight buzz or high from it, but it’ll never be as good as it was the first time they used. Addicts spend their lives trying to re-create the initial feeling of euphoria they felt the first time they used. But it never happens. But what about drug dealers? Are they criminals are victims?
Drug dealers are part of the problem and one of the reasons why drugs are regularly used and abused. Getting them off the streets and sending them to prison is part of the solution. But new drug dealers will always replace the old ones and those suffering from heroin addiction will continue to buy, use and risk their lives each day. This community supports putting drug dealers behind bars. After all, they’ve chosen a profession that puts their customers at high risk of death each and every day. Most drug dealers don’t want their customers to die. Simply put, it’s bad business. But a desire for repeat customers doesn’t reduce their risk of overdose and death.
Many dealers sell drugs to support their own drug habit and addiction. This makes them just as sick as their customers who suffer from addiction. However, most people aren’t sympathetic towards drug dealers, even if they are towards addicts. Most people who are empathetic towards addicts understand the disease and the compulsions to use. However, there is no cognitive compulsion or disease that produces a desire to sell and deal drugs. Thus, most people see drug dealers as straight criminals and whether they use drugs themselves or not, most people want to see them punished and behind bars. Some even believe they should be given the death penalty, especially if someone dies from their drugs.
Taking Responsibility for One’s Actions – Breaking the Cycle of Addiction
As suggested above, drug dealers are a part of the problem. And drug dealers are held responsible and accountable for their actions once they are caught. This is a good thing because it shows that there are consequences for one’s actions. And consequences often produce change.
But breaking the cycle of addiction, ongoing drug use, overdose and death has nothing to do with drug dealers. New drug dealers will always replace the ones that are arrested. Thus, the only real way to break the cycle is for men and women using and addicted to heroin and other drugs to take responsibility for themselves and get the addiction treatment help they need and deserve.
Thankfully, more and more addicted individuals are coming forward and asking for help. But just like the movie “The Matrix”, many are just not ready. They continue to walk and live in darkness unaware that a live of recovery can break and free them from the chains they’ve created for themselves. See “The Role of Responsibility and Accountability in Recovery“.
3 Stages of Breaking Free From Addiction
We were tempted to use the word “steps” instead of “stages” but the word steps implies that every part of breaking free has to do with actual choices the addict makes. While sobriety, treatment and recovery has a lot to do with choice and taking responsibility, there are some variables that are not within an individual’s control. For instance, the first stage, while it can be skipped, is often necessary for actual choices towards addiction treatment and sobriety to take place. Below, we’ve listed several stages an addict must go through to break free from addiction.
Stage 1: Desire to Get Clean
As much as we’d like to directly control how we feel, it’s just not possible, at least not without intensive therapy and most people who don’t possess a desire to get clean won’t want to undergo therapy to begin with. Desire isn’t something we directly control and is typically the emotional byproduct of how we interpret our environment, situations and circumstances. For instance, if an addict is enjoying the high and isn’t experiencing any consequences (which is typically true in the initial stages of drug use), they are likely not going to desire sobriety. But once consequences begin, seeds of desire to stop using are planted. As consequences continue or are exacerbated, desire to stop using and get clean may begin to sprout and blossom. Every individual’s chemical makeup is different and circumstances are different for each individual. But a combination of nature vs. nurture is responsible for grooming and cultivating desire.
A lack of desire to get clean is one of the most crucial reasons addicts continue using. This is why when parents ask us how can they make their sons and daughters stop using, we tell them that it is not in their direct control or power. However, explaining how they feel, encouraging them to get addiction help and initiating consequence will likely contribute to cultivating desire to get clean.
Stage 2: Taking Action
Now, addicts can technically skip stage 1 but without a desire, they often don’t take action. It’s a human’s very nature to act based on what they think and feel. If we don’t desire something, we will likely ignore it. If we desire it, we will take action.
Taking action simply means that an addict has made a conscious choice to undergo addiction treatment and/or get help for their disease. They don’t have to want it, though those who truly desire it will likely be willing to put in the hard work necessary to beat their disease and obtain long term sobriety. See “Affordable Heroin Treatment Options” for various treatment modalities and options for someone suffering from drug and heroin addiction.
Stage 3: Perseverance and Commitment
Many addicts have made it to stage 2 but were hoping that treatment would be quick, easy and that sobriety would come naturally. But recovery is a marathon not a sprint. Addiction treatment takes time, even initial treatment. For an addict to succeed in long-term recovery, he/she must persevere and commit to sobriety – even when it’s difficult.
During difficult times, a recovering addict may lose their desire but hopefully by this stage, they have already been sober long enough to see that the benefits of sobriety outweigh the temporary “high” going back to using drugs provides.
The longer someone has been clean and sober and see that they are no longer dealing with the many consequences associated with perpetual drug use, the more likely they will stay committed to recovery and persevere even if they temporarily lose desire to stay clean.
Sending drug dealers to jail for their crimes is important because it shows that there are consequences for one’s actions. But sending dealers to prison will do nothing to stop the cycle of addiction, ongoing drug use, overdose and death. Only drug users have that power. By going through the above stages and getting the addiction help and treatment an addict needs and deserves, people would stop dying and the heroin epidemic would be over.
Written and Published by William – Founder and Publisher of Kill the Heroin Epidemic Nationwide™
We are a community for recovering heroin addicts providing support and recommending the best treatments and clinics to people interested in conquering their addiction.