“Well, they made a choice to do drugs, why should we save them?”

All of the research that we know of suggests that people in the grip of severe substance use disorder have lost the ability to “simply choose to stop using drugs.” Using against one’s will and despite terrible consequences is part of the very DEFINITION of Severe Substance Use Disorder. Are you a person who has used drugs against their will? Are you a neuroscientist? Are you qualified to change the DSM? Do you even know what the DSM is? Are you a psychiatrist? An addictionologist? A peer reviewed researcher?

If you answered “no” to all of these questions, you should probably pipe down and listen to those who can say “yes” to at least one, because honestly: you’re coming off as sociopathic, ignorant and inhuman.

For those who agree with this, but then say “well, they chose to do drugs INITIALLY, so they should suffer the consequences.” Even if that were true (it’s not), we ALL make dangerous choices. Every day people choose to drive cars and ride motorcycles and have unprotected sex and smoke cigarettes and drink alcohol, all of which are often done illegally. Would you abandon any of them to die? Or publicly dismiss their right to live, suggest not offering help to them or not respect the loss their families and friends are experiencing, simply because they didn’t have their seat belt on or they weren’t 21 or they didn’t have a motorcycle endorsement? We all break the law at some point. We all make choices we regret.

We fly and parachute and rock climb and swim and play sports and pole vault and bungee jump and race cars and motocross and skate and base jump and cliff dive and do all sorts of insanely stupidly dangerous things to get a rush and feel good and enhance our lives. Would you flippantly suggest we just let these folks die?

Or is it just that you’re caught up in all the stigma? Have 40 years of a racist drug war, “Just Say No” and literally billions of dollars in propaganda and legislation villainizing people who use drugs decimated your ability to think critically and act compassionately?

We really hope it’s that. Because we can undo that. Stigma is a social construction, therefore we can slowly deconstruct it. We just need the political will and money. And we should get the money from Perdue Pharmaceuticals. We should go there right now with pitchforks and torches and tar and feathers. Oh yes, point your hatred and heartless condemnation at those folks, and the legislators who criminalize us, and we’ll be right by your side.

The other option, if it’s not brainwashing and stigma, is that the world and it’s people are far more cruel and uncaring than we could have ever fathomed. It is a narrative we cannot bear the thought of participating in or belonging to. It is just too heartbreaking a thought to accept, and to believe it would leave me in abject, misanthropic nihilism.

So please educate yourselves. Please pour your love into those most negatively affected by this crisis. And please, if you can’t find it in yourself do either of those, at least just have the decency to keep your hateful opinion to yourself. If you have nothing nice to say…

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