May 15th, 2019

The Stigma

Can you tell me what a heroin addict looks like? I’m sure when you think about it you’ll probably picture something along the lines of a bum. But you’re wrong.

A heroin addict looks like the wealthy CEO of a successful corporation.

A heroin addict looks like the 17 year old high school student that makes great grades.

A heroin addict looks like the stay at home mother of 3 children.

A heroin addict looks like the one person in your church that always spreads the message of faith.

A heroin addict looks like the guy who drives a really nice car and has a really nice home.

A heroin addict looks like the mailman who delivers your mail.

A heroin addict looks like the woman serving you your food at McDonalds.

A heroin addict looks like the beautiful woman you just passed on the street.

A heroin addict looks like your cousin that you’ve known since you were born.

A heroin addict looks like your really great friends child.

A heroin addict looks like the guy that’s loading your groceries into your cart at the grocery store.

My point is that there is no “look” for a heroin addict. Heroin addicts aren’t just poor, ugly, dumb, and worthless. They are wealthy, beautiful, intelligent, and priceless too. They have families and children. They have compassion and desires. They are human, just like you. The only difference between you and them is that they are sick. The problem in today’s society is that we think heroin addicts (or addicts in general) are all low-life bums who are inherently bad people. But that is the farthest thing from the truth.

Most of us are good people who feel stuck and are lost. We are sick and in need of healing. We have no tools to help us navigate through life. We have no self-esteem or self-respect. We want so badly to get out of our addiction but we don’t know how to live without drugs. We feel guilt, shame, and remorse for everything we’ve done. We hate how we’ve hurt ourselves and our loved ones. We hate who we have become because of drugs. We have a conscience but we don’t know how to listen to it. We need help.

Because we are addicts society judges us for our worst moments, our bad decisions, our sickness that they view as weakness. The problem is that they do not view us as humans anymore. We have been dehumanized by society and because of that they can only see the “bum” instead of the person beneath the addiction. They have forgotten that we are daughters, sons, aunts, uncles, mothers, fathers, and friends. They have forgotten that people love us and that we love in return. They have forgotten that they too have made bad choices and mistakes in their lives.

I have one question for those of you who believe in the stigma, those of you who tell us that we “deserve to die” because we have stuck needles into our arms… Would you want to be judged by your worst moments? By your worst decisions? By your mistakes? Would you want others to look at you and see someone that deserves to die, or would you want to be given a chance to heal? I’m pretty sure I know your answer.

-Kassie Sullins

(Heroin to Heroine)