Drug addict, who?
There’s no good punch line here.
I swear. I wracked my brain. Then, failing to come up with one, I even Googled it.
I searched “alcoholic knock-knock jokes,” “addiction jokes,” and more trying to find something funny. All results just reinforced that, at least for addicts’ loved ones (like me), the subject is no laughing matter.
So for my readers who have come to depend on me finding a humorous twist on just about everything, I confess. I’ve failed. This story is a brief commentary on our society’s ridiculous approach to a very destructive and often deadly disease.
Death hasn’t yet struck down the wonderful woman who prompted this post, but I’m not sure why. She, and I’ll call her Judith, has struggled with some form of addiction for as long as I can remember.
Perhaps it wasn’t “addiction” originally. But 12 years older than I, she loves to tell the story of the time I witnessed her smoking pot when I was too young to know what it was. I later innocently “busted” her by mentioning around adults, “Judith smokes cigarettes that don’t have filters.”
Everyone laughed about that for far too long. Thirty-five years later, we all know she’s done worse.
We’ve seen it in the deterioration of her mind (she earned a college scholarship but is now unemployed), her body (a consistent hunch in her shoulders), and her spirit (an all too rare smile).
I’ve grown up watching the failed attempts of family interventions. I added to the problem by being the resident “hard ass” and then “softie,” unsure of how to help.
But after decades of uncertainty about what to do, I turned to the experts. I researched what works and what doesn’t and did my best to convey that to our family. Their “hard ass” impression of me stuck; my opinions were ignored.
That’s why when Judith got arrested eight months ago, I celebrated alone. I thought, “Finally, we have a chance to get her body clean long enough to get her mind straight!”
Family members chastised me for my unwillingness to speak on her behalf to limit her sentence for drug possession.
“What can I say that’s truthful to minimize it?” I asked, “Has she not stolen from us? Can we honestly say Judith’s clean?”
Scorn and shame.
Her judgment: five months in jail. During that time, I took her calls and visited regularly. I discussed the need to have a good plan in place when she got out and pushed to have counseling and other support for her and her family.
What I learned too late is that the penitentiary system isn’t built to redeem people, even minor offenders who want help, and loved ones often remain horrible influences.
While incarcerated, the judicial system offered minimal opportunities to Judith for drug and alcohol addiction treatment (but plenty of options to clean toilets and floors).
It threw up many roadblocks for me and other folks trying to help her recover (but provided zero counseling to those who could reintroduce her to society successfully).
So on the night they released Judith, her too-naive-to-know-better son and life-long addicted partner greeted her with booze and pot to celebrate the occasion. “She’d earned some fun,” they said.
Months later, they curse her spiral back into drug and alcohol abuse with neither understanding nor remorse, and the jailers ready themselves for her return.
Everyone else is left to laugh (and cry) at the absurdity of it all.