Growing up, my sister and I were extremely close. We are nine years apart, so I looked up to her for almost everything. She was my best friend and I wanted to be just like her as a child. Though, as I got older, I realized she was not as perfect as she seemed to be.
As a child, I always imagined drug addicts and alcoholics in a negative connotation. I never understood who they were and why they did what they did, my only reason was that these people were crazy and stupid. I always questioned, “why don’t they just stop?” I soon realized it is much deeper than that, it is a mental disorder. For many, professional help is essential and for addicts of many years, it is nearly impossible to stop on their own.
Still naive to the lifestyle of an addict, I found these kinds of people closer and closer to me. I saw these people from a distance, but I never thought I would experience it first hand. I heard my parents talk of family friends and distant friends going down that route, but I never thought I would experience it until my older sister became addicted to heroin.
It started in 2014 and it is still a battle to this day. It was confusing at first, but it was heartbreaking. Not knowing how to help her live this life broke my heart more than anything I could ever imagine. I would do anything to help my sister. For many years, I was filled with anger, I thought my own sister had betrayed me. I thought she did not love me enough to give up her addiction. However, as I educated myself, I soon understood that the drugs have taken over who my sister truly was. I saw a completely different side of my sister. As she was in and out of the hospitals due to overdoses, in and out of schizophrenic episodes and in and out of detox, it was a long and brutal process to simply admit her into facilities she needed. The person my sister became when she was on drugs needed serious help.
My family and I found that it was more than difficult to admit an addict into rehab without insurance, it was impossible to admit a schizophrenic over eighteen into detoxification and that it was impossible to change the mind of an addict. After multiple stages of detox and state-funded rehab, staying clean was not the only problem for an addict. An addict needs professional help mentally as “drug addiction is a chronic brain disease.” Simply, the brain needs support as well. The majority of individuals suffering from drug addiction cannot and will not survive in the real world with only a seven-day detox. They need aid in understanding who they are again and need to recognize that life is possible without drug use.
The majority of addicts do not have jobs, homes or money to start a new life after a week of detox. In this case, rehab centers are meant to help with this situation. However, in my sister’s case, she had no insurance and negative $600 to her name, therefore she was unable to pay the on average of $20,000 for the inpatient rehab that she desperately needed. Years upon years, she battled relapses and schizophrenic episodes because my family could not afford to keep her in rehab for more than a month. However, studies prove that severe addicts need a 12-month inpatient program in order to successfully stay sober.
The government needs to make entering rehabilitation centers and mental facilities simpler, cheaper and quicker for drug addicts. Funding for drug abuse should increase because, in 2018 alone, over 70,000 people died from an overdose. Two out of three overdoses were opioid related. Each second that goes by for an addict is one step closer to an overdose. It should not be next to impossible for an individual with no insurance to not be emitted into detoxification: most addicts probably do not have insurance in the first place. Most addicts probably do not have the support of a family like my sister does, therefore giving an easy outlook to drug addicts straight out of detox is essential. Addicts cannot be kicked straight to the street after only seven days of being clean, they need support mentally as well as aid to get back on their feet.