KNOCK OUT OPIOID ABUSE CONTEST finalist
What do you hope to accomplish by being a part of this contest?
Use the power of music to bring people together and motivate and support them to take action to help solve the opioid crisis.
People still seem to hold on to the stereotype that an addict is someone poor and wasting away in life, only thinking about another fix. How is that different then your experience?
Many people who suffer from substance use disorder are going through the motions of daily life, trying their best to not be overtaken by addiction. They can suffer for years, looking somewhat “normal,” going to work, going to school, taking care of their kids and still fighting a hidden battle every day. If we can help them before it all falls apart it’s much better. Reducing stigma and raising awareness can make it safer to ask for help sooner.
Do you think there is such a thing as recreational opioid use? Why or Why Not?
No, that’s like recreational Russian roulette.
How would you respond to someone saying “It’s only one pill, I can’t get addicted from it?”
Learn the facts, every addiction starts with just one.
What influences did your friends have on using or not using opioids?
I had a housemate in college who had done heroin and he told me never to do it because you would never stop wanting it. His haunted delivery stayed with me.
The first time I saw someone using heroin he mentioned that at that moment his wife was in the hospital having a baby. He was at our house partying. It showed me how depraved it can make you.
What is some of the stigma you have experienced around opioid use or overdoes?
When my boyfriend Paul died in 2001 of an OD his family said he had Lyme disease. I said he had committed suicide, which was true in a way, he was deeply suicidal, but it took me years to realize I just couldn’t face the truth that he OD’d.
How do you think the opioid epidemic has affected you personally? Friends? Families? Our Community?
When Paul died I had to fight for my own life for a few years, it permanently changed me, knowing that the worse could happen, I lost an innocence. I also saw in the ER with him that the medical personnel were burned out and not really committed to helping. Families are silently destroyed for generations.
What advice would you give your teenage self?
You are who you hang out with. There are positive people who care and are real and will go through things with you. Find them and learn from them. You never get the time back that you wasted being wasted.
Are there any positive moments from your life that shaped you into who you are today? Any negative events that shaped you?
Every time someone tells me that a song I wrote matters to them it gives me more courage to step into myself more deeply.
Being able to use my recovery to help someone else is one of the biggest joys of my life. Seeing other people get recovery is like watching a miracle.
What are you most grateful for?
That I found recovery and able to be myself in the world and in my work. I’m grateful I ended up having something positive to give.
How is your life different than how you imagined it when you were younger?
I am doing better than I thought I could.
What are you most proud of in your life?
Being able to use my powers for good.
What does music mean to you?
Music is a connection to the divine. I’ve been writing songs most of my life and I still have basically no idea how that works at the most basic level. It has been a through line in my life, a source of solace when there was no other source. The universal language, our daily connection to magic.
If you are in recovery, what helps you to stay clean? What helped make your decision to get sober?
What helps me stay clean is being actively involved in recovery, which is a joy really, meaningful connections from helping and being helped. I’ve also seen first-hand the effects of long term addiction and alcoholism and what happens when people relapse. I couldn’t survive that.
I made the decision to get clean and sober because I had an opportunity to create a recording program for an organization working with inner city kids. I was sure they’d drug test me and I wasn’t willing to lose the opportunity.
If you could say one thing to someone who died from an opioid overdose, what would it be?
We still miss you.
What advice would you give to someone struggling with opioid addiction?
Don’t give up, ask for help, keep trying. This isn’t a one and done, it’s a process. Find a 12 step meeting and do what they did.
What do you think the solution is to the opioid epidemic?
The opposite of addiction is connection. People need real, meaningful connections in society. Kids need ways to be useful, people with mental health issues need to be included in society, people under stress need to know they can ask for help, people in physical pain need effective alternatives to opioids. Universal health insurance would go a long way to helping people get treatment.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
I’m grateful for the opportunity to be part of this contest and humbled by the beautiful work of the other writers. It’s a great way to carry a positive message about recovery and to tell the truth about the reality of the opioid crisis.