My throat got dry to the point where I swore there was something large lodged in it and my stomach sunk to the floor. “You f***ing junkie!”. You could have just ripped my beating heart out and held it up to your ear to hear it stop for a minute. I was already so ashamed, so beaten down and I felt so worthless that when I heard the “J” word, I about dropped. It cut me deeper than the wounds I had inflicted on myself. But that was then and this is now.
I get called a junkie all of the time now and I have been in recovery for over 2 years. When I first started doing videos online, the junkie comments would pour in and they would hurt me. “Why does the world hate me? Why is it so vicious towards me? Why don’t they want me to have a voice?” I have learned that my “junkie outreach” is bothering people. They don’t like that I talk about addiction for what it really is. It shatters their pre-conceived notions, their judgments and “what they’ve known their whole life” about me and someone like me. So when the going gets tough and I approach a person with facts, with an unbiased viewpoint, with basic morality, I hear it start to slip off their tongue… “J-u-n-k-i-e!”
As I said, at first this was like prodding a deep wound of shame and guilt I had felt for falling into the pits of drug addiction and allowing it to control my life. At first I felt like I deserved it, I had it coming, because this was the way the world was responding to my atrocities.
But one day it all made sense. Had I personally hurt these people? No! Had I personally stolen from them? Robbed them of sleep? No! And almost always after the “let natural selection take its course, stop giving out Narcan (naloxone) etc.” and “they choose to do it to themselves, they can just stop” and don’t forget the “you’re just a worthless junkie”, I had a breakthrough. The root of their issue showed it’s sad face. Want to know its features?
Why Do People Call Addicts “Junkies”?
Almost every person who has ever called me a junkie has been hurt or affected in some way by an addict. Literally at the conclusion of each name-calling argument directed towards me, the truth would finally come out. “My mom is an addict”,”I adopted an addicted baby”, “my brother is an addict, don’t tell me anything about addiction.” They were expressing their anger and their pain by putting me into a “junkie” category. Nonetheless I was thrown into the hotseat of the junkie in their life. Yes, oh yes. How I do nothing but hurt people, how I am so selfish, how I chose this, why I am nothing but a waste of life etc.
I would apologize to people, as if it was my place to bare the cross for all addicts. But, in doing so I let it fall under my radar that these people still proudly bore their stigmas, judgments, pre-conceived notions and hatred for men and women suffering from the disease of addiction.
I’m the type of person who is always wants to teach someone something. By apologizing and leaving it at that, I didn’t teach them a thing. They walked away satisfied that somehow they had broken me and that pleased them. It helped justify and redeem them in some way.
You see, people supporting addiction stigma had been affected in some way by an addict, But they chose not to understand anything about addiction. I work with many people who are affected by addicts, very loving, compassionate people. The people that call me a “junkie” are almost always the ones who turned their face away from an addict in their lives only to spew out condemnation when they saw someone like me – a “junkie” giving other “junkies” a voice. Where does their problem really stem from?
People are typically afraid of what they do not understand. In this case, bitter and angry individuals have turned that fear into hatred. They’ve completely shut down after they learned of their loved ones addiction. They didn’t want to try to understand it because they’ve already made up their minds. They “knew” addiction was a choice (this isn’t true, but this is what they learned to believe) and they saw someone they knew/loved choosing their drug addiction over them. This made them angry. Instead of trying to understand addiction or what to do to help the one suffering, the compassion train came to a straight halt and contact was cut. But the feelings of anger and betrayal still remained. Thus, we come to the present day online/in person argument with me, initiated by the word “junkie”.
I’m Proud To Be a Junkie
Why don’t I care if you call me a junkie? That should hurt me. That should make me feel ashamed. That should cut me deeper than all other words given my not-so-holy past. But, when you call me a junkie, it doesn’t hurt me because I realize you only call me that out of your own lack of understanding of the disease and those who suffer form it.
I realize the word “junkie” is your greatest defense. It’s a defense from the pain an individual affected in some way by addiction feels that has yet to address it in the right way. It takes compassion and understanding to work through the issue of addiction.
Many don’t have the capacity to sit down and try to comprehend why a person becomes addicted. No, it’s not because they lack intelligence or brainpower. It’s just too emotionally difficult. Some just can’t handle it.
So, I am Chanda Lynn, the junkie girl. The girl who gives advice to junkies. The junkie who gives a voice to other junkies. I wear it like a badge now. Calling me a junkie means I made it through something most people never will – that I lived and I conquered – that I made some of the hardest choices a person will ever have to make – that I survived something.
If the word “junkie” is the only badge the world will ever give me for overcoming drug and heroin addiction, then here I stand and I’ll proudly wear it. I understand that it may make you uncomforable that the very word you use to degrate me, empowers me. But remember, before calling anyone else a “junkie”, re-evaluate your own suppressed emotions and misconceptions about the disease of addiction.
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Written by By Chanda Lynn, Editor / Writer / Blogger For Kill the Heroin Epidemic Nationwide™, Heroin News and the National Alliance of Addiction Treatment Centers (NAATC)
Published by William Charles, Founder/Publisher
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