I am a heroin addict. I am not ashamed. No matter what I become in this life, I will always be an addict. I can hide it, I can lie about it, but I can never get rid of it. It is a part of who I am. My name is April, and I am not afraid to stand up and tell the world who and what I am. Society has shamed us addicts, and made us feel like we are the abnormal ones, like there’s something wrong with US. There isn’t something wrong with us; we are just different. We are your daughter, your son, mother, father, brother, sister, teacher, neighbor, and the friendly cashier at your local supermarket. We look like your average everyday person. We just have different brains; we just think a little bit differently than you do. But that’s okay, because we are loved.
Society has made us out to be these awful, low-life junkies shooting up in the dark alley down the street. In our active addiction, we sometimes do terrible things that have given us a bad name. But underneath our addiction, we are just like you. We have feelings, goals and ambitions. Society has made us feel like we need to hide who and what we are because it isn't “acceptable” in your world of politics. But do you really want to know what this does to us? We DO hide, for fear of being judged for who we are. And because we hide, we die. We die because in hiding, we can’t get help for our disease. Most people just think we could stop if we wanted to, so we don’t deserve help. But the truth is, we NEED help. We need help to live, but we become so ashamed to admit we are addicts and that we need help because we get shunned and told that we just have a moral deficiency.
Someone you know and love is suffering their addiction in silence. Unless we get rid of this stigma, thousands — maybe millions — more will continue to commit suicide slowly through this disease. The ends are always the same: Jails, institutions and death. We need to stand up and say, “This IS a problem!” It's a growing epidemic, and we will continue to suffer in silence until someone stands up and tells us that it’s okay to be an addict, there’s nothing wrong with that, and we can HELP you.
The little help that there is available won’t even begin to touch the lives of so many of us. Well, I am not afraid. I am not ashamed. My name is April, and I am a heroin addict. I want everyone to know that there’s nothing wrong with being an addict, and there is help. Don’t be afraid to reach out for it. Don’t be afraid to be who you are and stand up for yourself. We can never get rid of our disease, but if we stand up together and fight this stigma by educating and creating awareness, we can help save lives. If you aren’t an addict, you need to ask yourself: What’s more important — judging addicts by the picture society paints them as, or telling them not to be afraid to stand up and say who and what they are so they can RECOVER and reach out a helping hand to the addict who still suffers silently? Together we can break this chain of silence and step out into the light, standing tall and proud and lead the way for others to follow. No addict should have to suffer alone. And no addict should have to suffer silently. If it was your daughter or son, would you want them to shout their story from the rooftop if it would save their life? If your answer is yes, then stand with me.
My name is April, and I AM a heroin addict.
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