Drugs, Death, Dignity, and Decency

21 06 2017

Carrie Fisher died.

She was someone’s child. She was someone’s friend. She was someone’s beloved. She was sick and she succumbed to her illness.

That is the end of the story. Period.

Now, I know many of you will say, “But, she was using drugs. She died from using drugs.”

No, she died from complications of her illness. The drugs were the rash and the fever; they were NOT the disease.

We need to stop blaming people for being sick.

There are many diseases that are exacerbated by, perhaps even caused by, lifestyle choices. None of that means a thing, once the disease takes hold. At that point, no matter what happened before, the person is sick. They should be treated for their disease.

We need to stop blaming people for being sick.

Sure, we can lament the cost of other people’s bad choices on our society’s healthcare system.  We can point fingers and whisper – or outright accuse – that “they brought this on themselves,” but we should never be so smug as to think that we are immune to bad fortune.

We need to stop blaming people for being sick.

We all make poor choices that could lead to serious health issues.

We drive too fast.

We use our phones behind the wheel.

We fail to hold the rail when we’re carrying a basket of laundry down the stairs.

We share our (should be) private lives in very public forums.

We ALL make poor choices.

We need to stop blaming people for being sick.

Let’s stop pretending that we lucky ones are somehow better than sick people, regardless of their disease, whether they were complicit in its damage to them or not. Blaming people for being sick makes us a special kind of ugly that even the best plastic surgeon can’t fix, and we truly do have only ourselves to blame for that.




6 responses

21 06 2017

Thank you! Drug addiction IS an illness–a chronic illness. It isn’t the same thing as drug abuse (which is more volitional) Like other illnesses, drug addiction can be treated and people can become healthy. But, as with other chronic illnesses, from diabetes to heart disease, there exists the likelihood of exacerbations. Drug addiction also takes a toll on other parts of the body that can simply wear out from the addictive drugs. Sadly, today, the vast majority of people who are addicted today didn’t plan it. They became addicted to opiates–the most significant cause of addiction and drug-related deaths these days — because they were GIVEN these drugs as medications by their doctors. They didn’t know or weren’t told they were addictive. Instead of being used to treat acute pain after surgery, these medications are being given to people to treat chronic pain….and addiction the ensues! It’s time to call out the drug companies that are pushing these highly addictive medications. They can be an answer for some, but they can be a death sentence for many!

21 06 2017

Teddi, Thank you for your thoughtful comment. I know some folks who struggle and they, to a one, will say that nobody EVER thinks, “When I grow up, I want to be a drug addict.” So many people take their first drugs before they are even old enough to legally drive a car (or consent to sex or vote) that I can’t understand how we, as a society, continue to hold onto that idea that “they chose to do it.” I continue to work on being kinder. I hope more folks will try to do that, too.

21 06 2017
Bonnie Lorwey

I often read but seldom respond directly to your weekly blogs but this one is related to a subject close to my heart so I will make an exception. You are right. We as a society look down on those who have been challenged by one malady or another. I was once vibrant, energetic, full speed ahead in all things especially physical activity. I am a nurse and that was the nature of my job at the time. I worked with the underserved and disenfranchised members of our society. I was the nurse giving the dose of methodone at the drug addiction clinic. I was the nurse helping the stroke victim stand for the first time after that debilitating event. I was the nurse teaching teenage moms how to take care of their toddlers. I was a hospice nurse for a time when pain control was the challenge of the day. I am the nurse that did all that and more. Now life has changed. I watched more than one loved one succumb to addictive disease. I am also now the person challenged to walk and function without help. I am the one thinking perhaps medicinal cannibinoid is a good idea. The point is this … “there but for the grace of God, go I”. It is time we accept those with disease as the humans that they are and not as some lower caste citizen less worthy of our empathy and compassion. So I am here to echo your sentiments and to remind us that it is time to celebrate people for what we CAN do and stop demonizing people for what they can’t. We need to stop ostracizing the sick no matter what their disease whether it was by choices or by luck of the draw is irrelevant. Treating people with decency isn’t something you should have to think about, it should be something you just do… like breathing.

21 06 2017

Thank you, Bonnie. I appreciate your candor and compassion.

22 06 2017
George Balock

I read a thought on Twitter today. “Don’t judge people because their sins are different that yours.” Holds true in this case too. No matter what, sick people need care.

23 06 2017

Thanks, George. If only we could all get booster shots of compassion, right?

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