If you want to become a social influencer faster than a speeding bullet, go lose a child to Fentanyl poisoning and get on the Dr Phil show.
On Monday, March 1st, an episode of Dr Phil aired, telling the chilling story of a 16-year-old boy who died of an accidental overdose in his home. By Friday, only four days later, the Facebook group related to this incident had reached 9.5K members.
And that’s just in America.
On that same Monday, my mother messaged me and said, “Turn on Dr. Phil. It’s Curtis’s story.”
I turned on the show and watched it, crying the whole way through. Not just for that mother and son, but for myself and my son.
While it was his story it also wasn’t because each beautiful child who succumbs to an accidental overdose has their own life story. The only similarity is that each story ends in the same tragic way.
They are no longer here.
After watching the show, I joined the Facebook group and like all the other parents, I posted my son's photo and story as if to say, “My child deserves to be remembered.”
It would be easy to become forgotten in such a vast sea of dead children, all victims of the same crime. And yes, it is a crime that some, but not enough , are being punished for.
None of the departed souls knowingly purchased Fentanyl and decided that was the day they’d die. All of them purchased something else unknowingly laced with the silent killer.
I spent the whole week scrolling through the stories in that Facebook group, reading each and every one of them. It was like smashing into a brick wall because I thought I was alone in my loss.
But the enormity of the truth is staggering. An entire generation is being wiped out by the same deadly drug and very little is being done about it.
The opioid crisis is so widespread that within a Facebook group of 9500 members, I happened upon a woman I went to high school with from my own neighborhood. That woman lost her 18-year-old daughter.
The other night I stepped out into the dark night sky, looked up at the stars, and said, “There you ALL are. All 9000 of you in the sky.”
A significant number of parents who have lost their kids to Fentanyl poisoning blame the dealers distributing the drug so freely and easily. I mean, they’re finding it on Snapchat for crying out loud. Prime real estate for idle young people.
But my outrage differs a little. I think the root of the problem goes much deeper than just the dealers. Those guys are merely the middlemen doing shady things to earn a dollar.
Yes, drug induced homicide IS a crime that needs to be punishable by law, however, the one thing that could put all these dealers out of business is proper mental health care.
Every single person who has experimented or become addicted to drugs obviously has something missing in their lives.
They’re struggling with darkness, despair, a void, or a reason to get well. If they were living balanced, fulfilled lives they wouldn’t be looking for ways to numb themselves.
If mental health care was as easy to access as street drugs, they’d choose the former in a heartbeat. It’s a no-brainer.
Case in Point
During the lockdown of 2020, I reached out to a leading resource for mental health and addiction. I was desperately searching for ways to assist my son, a guy who struggled with significant mental health and addiction issues.
Upon first contact, I spent an hour on the phone with a representative, painting a clear picture of my son's situation. By the end of the call, no advice had been given, no resolutions had been discussed. They just solicited me for a donation.
I’m not sure how they expected money from a woman who had lost her job during the pandemic.
After that call, the organization contacted me weekly, asking for monetary donations but not once had they offered any help.
Then, by the tail end of 2020, my son overdosed and died. So there's that.
My family is no stranger to mental health issues. We stick by our loved one's side trying our best to find a magic wand that might be able to save them. But having been misdiagnosed for the majority of his journey, how could anyone have helped my son?
Mental illness often leads to illicit behavior which gets you into trouble with the law. Once you’re in the grips of the correctional system, nothing will help you. There is no rehabilitation in there.
Your mental state continues to worsen to the point where you’re very ill-prepared for your eventual life back in the free world.
And that’s when it happens. You look for your trusty, blissful, temporary escape. I guess you can find it on Snapchat nowadays.
No mentally healthy person thinks, “I’m just going to try this pill and see what it does.”
Only those with something drastically missing from their lives seek to escape and that’s why I believe we need to focus on intensive, widely accessible mental health care in addition to drug dealers. Nobody would be buying from them if there was some light at the end of their dark tunnel.
Fentanyl poisoning is merely a symptom of a much bigger crisis — a mental health crisis.