Monthly Archives: February 2016

So Sick of Overdoses

By Aaron Emerson

A couple of days ago – Saturday to be exact – I learned some devastating news. It’s the kind of news I have been hearing all too often. A girl I went to school with at Mason passed away from a drug overdose.

She was just one grade ahead of me throughout my youth and it was someone I used to associate with when I was in my party stage. I’m not going to act like we were extremely close or anything, as I hadn’t talked to her in a few years since I entered recovery. However, it was a peer, somebody that was just like me. Somebody that had the same struggles I did. Somebody that could have very well been me.

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I am not going to share her name publicly on here, as I’m not sure the family would be happy about that, but it has been on my mind lately. My hometown – Mason, Michigan – has had several young people die in the last few years from drug overdoses. Heroin and opioids have been a well known problem here, as is pretty much the case in every town in the U.S.

Frankly, I am sick of hearing about them. I am sick of heroin. I am sick of painkillers. I am sick of people I grew up with dying from this shit. But I have the feeling this problem isn’t going to go away anytime soon. I can’t help but wonder what one of my old friends that are still using will be next. I wish I didn’t have to think like that.

There is hope. Trust me, if I can find recovery from an addiction that saw me put behind bars several times, in and out of rehabs every year, and seemingly hopeless, I know anyone can. But it’s so frustrating when I find out about another person dying from this stuff. I will never give up on spreading the message of recovery and hope, but sometimes it’s exhausting.

I wish I could prove that recovery is fun. I wish I could show that it is such a better option than living in bondage to drugs. But people in addiction just can’t see that. They are blinded and stuck. It’s so sad. I remember how that used to feel. I remember feeling like I was never going to stop using, that I had no hope.

But somehow God pulled me out of that crazy mess of a life I was living. Looking back, it’s a miracle. But today I don’t want to sound like I’m bragging or to act like my life is so great today. I simply want to let people know that addiction is not a life sentence. There is hope. I also want to remember and honor another amazing person with so much potential that was lost to this battle. Addiction doesn’t define us. I hope her family can remember her for all of the good she provided. That is my prayer.

If you are reading this, please know there is hope. If you know somebody in addiction, please tell them that you care about them today. if you know somebody in recovery, please tell them you are proud of them today. If you know someone that has died from this disease, please remember all of the positives they brought to this world today. And if you are currently in addiction, please know there is a better life awaiting you today. I promise.

New York Mayor Proposes Heroin Injection Facilities

By Aaron Emerson

As the nation’s and world’s heroin and opioid problem is seemingly out of control, many agencies, substance abuse professionals, and governments are trying to come up with new ways to fight the epidemic. One mayor from New York is coming up with something extreme and controversial.

Ithaca, NY mayor Svante Myrick is proposing to offer the United State’s first supervised injection facility. The proposal comes in the wake of failed drug policies and “drug wars” proposed by various governments across the country. But is this too extreme?

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Myrick is hoping to offer heroin addicts a safe place to come and inject their drugs. He hopes this will cut down on dirty needles, STDs, and encourage addicts to seek help. The proposal would offer addicts a safe place to shoot up under supervision. Their would be medical supervision, hoping to cut down on overdoses, and professional counselors on site to offer substance abuse help and guidance.

The proposal comes while the nation is seeking answers for the heroin and opioid epidemic. A facility in Switzerland offered the first heroin injection facility in the world in 1986 and many other sites in Europe followed suit. The first injection site in North America appeared in 2003 in Vancouver, Canada.

Injection sites have been found to reduce the spread of STDs, overdoses, and dirty syringe use. Ithaca, NY is a town of more than 30,000 and the Mayor has personal experience with addiction, as his father was an addict.

I really appreciate the fresh ideas that this has brought. People are genuinely trying to find solutions to this problem, as people are dying in record numbers from opioid overdoses. However, I’m not sure that this would be a proper solution, enabling addicts a place to shoot up. Reports have shown that many addicts show up 2 to 3 times a day to these facilities, and that is no surprise to me.

I would be curious to see how one of these facilities would play out in an American city. But I still have my concerns. Maybe if his proposal goes through we will see. But hopefully heroin addicts don’t turn out to be lab rats, used as pawns for an experiment. However, I really think this mayor has good intentions. We will see.

When Melody Finds Out

By Aaron Emerson

The other day I was thinking about writing a blog or journal on living a life of recovery while fighting depression. Some days it feels like my whole world is caving in and another six hours feels unbearable, but I know deep down I’m thinking stupid thoughts. But there’s something else that nags at me in this life: regret.

Every addict or person in recovery from addiction deals with regret. If you don’t, well, you may want to get checked out to see if you have a pulse or a heart. The pain I feel when I think back on how much I hurt my parents and my siblings is pretty intense sometimes. The other day I saw an Intervention documentary, a young heroin addict was so hooked that he stole his Dad’s laptop and pawned it. To see the pain and anger his Dad felt was hard because I’ve done the same things, but to also see how bad the addict felt was tough too. He didn’t want to steal that computer. When he was confronted, he just put his head down and let his father call him a loser and junkie, throwing him up against a wall.

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That’s the life addicts live. Stealing to feed a vicious, life sucking habit, then having to get high again to cover up the pain of hurting your family. But sometimes as a person in recovery, it’s even harder to think about what we did in our addiction because we can’t cover it up anymore.

So that brings me to something I haven’t had to go through yet, but one I am fearful of. My daughter. Innocent Melody. She’s five years old. Like any other girl, Melody loves Frozen, playing games, and watching children’s shows. But unlike any other girl, her Dad used to be a heroin addict. She has no idea.

What happens when she learns this? What will she think when she finds out I was in jail for a whole year, from the time she was born until her first birthday. Will she feel like she might not have been good enough that I then relapsed when I got out of jail? Will she blame me for the reason her Mom and I aren’t together, that she has had to live her entire life going back and forth between homes?

I don’t know the answers to those questions. I have a special little girl and I know she loves her Dad. But still, I know she’s going to have questions, doubts, and I think about it often. But this is the life I made for myself. One of the areas I have grown the most in is being able to take responsibility for my actions. Though I know addiction is a disease and I never purposely tried to hurt anyone, the fact of the matter is I did. My Dad used to always say in my early recovery that he has his boy back, but in a sense, it was still me that was using. I was still Aaron Emerson. And now I have to live with that.

I also don’t want to relay self-pity. I don’t write this stuff to try to gain sympathy, just to allow other addicts and people in recovery the opportunity to relate. Because I know this is something they all feel. Also, this blog and my journals give me a chance to get this crap off my mind. When I hold it in, depression sinks in.

But watching that documentary on that addict really took me back, and it hurt. I love Intervention and other addiction documentaries because they show people what it’s really like. But they can also be triggers for people like me. Anyway, I started thinking about my regrets and Melody popped in my head. She deserves the world and I’m going to give it to her. But what will she think when she finds out?

Speaking to High School Classes

By Aaron Emerson

Last week, I had the opportunity to share my story of addiction and recovery to two classes at Mason High School. It went amazing.

I have shared my story to Mason a couple times, but telling it to actual classes allows me to present my message on a more one-on-one basis. Last year I shared my story at an assembly that the whole school was a part of. Then this past fall, a teacher at Mason asked if I would be interested in coming to speak to his Adult Living classes. Of course I said yes.

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Sharing my story to help others is what I live for. It’s why I recently published a book. Trust me, I didn’t do it for the money. Selling E-Books as a relatively new author is not exactly the most profitable business. But the possibility that my past could help even one person, well that is a profit that not even Bill Gates could top, at least for me.

However, sharing my story to a high school class, well nothing can beat that. It was in high school that my path started to take some crazy turns. So to be able to make a difference in other high school students’ lives is, well, almost like being able to take back everything I did.

And I feel like I’m doing just that. The teacher that had me talk to his students last semester had me come back. The students I spoke to this time listened very intently and seemed to get a lot out of it. There were dozens of questions and several of them stayed after class to talk to me.

One student in particular really stood out. He came to me after all of his other classmates left and said he wished I could have talked to him several years ago. He has lived a tough life and has partaken in many of the activities I did when I was his age. But I was able to talk to him and tell him that it’s not too late to change. I gave him my number and he seemed really encouraged.

That is what I live for. I felt so bad for him and I would do anything to help him get on the right path. But I genuinely feel that my story made a difference in his young life. I can’t tell you how amazing that feels. My past is not pretty. I am not proud of it and I often regret many of the things I have done to hurt myself and others. But when I can use it to help young people, well, I would never take it back.

Rapper DMX’s ‘Life Saved’ By Narcan After Overdose

By Aaron Emerson

Famous rapper DMX was recently given a new shot at life this week after being revived with the anti-overdose drug Narcan and CPR.

DMX, whose real name is Earl Simmons, collapsed to the ground in a hotel parking lot in New York on Monday after consuming unspecified drugs. Upon arriving to the scene, police said his body was lifeless and he was not breathing. That’s when they administered Narcan and CPR and his breathing was restored.

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DMX has a long, documented history with substance abuse. He has been in and out of jail for over two decades on numerous drug possession charges. He is not going to face criminal charges for the incident that happened Monday.

Narcan is such an important drug that is garnering more and more attention. I was recently featured in an article a couple weeks ago in the Lansing State Journal that reported on Narcan in Michigan. It is now available to be prescribed to family members of addicts in some states. It is not a tool for long term recovery, but it simply saves lives and has no side effects.