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  • Mj Pettengill

Social Death, Addiction, and Angels


Depression, Sadness, Lost CC0

Once again, I am bringing awareness to yet another form of Social Death. You may or may not be aware of a loved one crippled by addiction. For some, it is easier to look the other way. For others, the one addicted may have succeeded in hiding their illness or will lie to cover for the falling apart of self and his/her world.

Knowing how to approach one whose life is hanging in the balance may seem daunting. That’s because, in most cases, it is. Some individuals possess the tools to approach loved ones, friends, and coworkers. The ability to face those drowning in addiction is an essential skill in the world that we live in today. I am not indicating that this is a new dilemma, but it is currently raging out of control.

Depending upon the substance, some addictions are more visible than others to detect. Drugs from a broad spectrum, flooding this country, targeting specific social classes, demographics, and communities have dramatically spiked. There is a clear connection to the world of pharmaceuticals, the source for over-prescribed addictive narcotics and other habit-forming medications. When the prescription runs out and the physician no longer makes it available, many turn to the street for their drug of choice.

As a parent, I had several experiences tearing up opioid/narcotic prescriptions for my teenage children. They had sustained sports injuries, and once, it was for a severe case of tonsillitis. I opted to go for ibuprofen or something similar. Even that is rare because I create wild plant medicine. There are many situations when modern medicine is helpful. Still, the industry is clearly aligned with a for-profit, substance-based, corporate agenda. This is not news.

I have been aware of the growing drug crisis in America. Since the pandemic, and now with the dangerous border crisis raging out of control, the quantity of illegal drugs—fentanyl, cocaine, and more—funneling into the country is quickly on the rise. The cartels are thriving at the cost of many lives and livelihoods. With that, there is a surge in both in-patient and out-patient recovery and treatment centers, filled to capacity. There are also pharmaceuticals in high demand, used for withdrawal to replace street drugs. If not mindful, this can go on too long, creating another dependency.


In some cases, the substitutes become another side business for those unable to partake in the necessary effective treatment programs. Other than a relatively short, well-supervised period, the ultimate goal is to avoid replacing one with another on a long-term basis. The goal is to get to the root of the problem—the source of trauma or social wiring. Both medical and psychological support is imperative for success.

The cost of in-house recovery programs is ultra-expensive. Most insurance plans will cover this with a hefty deductible. Ask yourself, how many afflicted by addiction have health insurance? How many have access to thousands of dollars for the deductible? While you are at it, also consider how many have become jobless, homeless, or both. How many have died?

I am not getting into numbers and statistics, not now; I am beginning a campaign of awareness. This deadly dilemma is systemic. People face losing everything, their lives included, to maintain their addiction. Withdrawal often requires professional help to succeed. It is survival mode, another form of social death; only many of those addicted are shells of their former selves, walking amongst the living.

Most addictions are also a form of suicide. It can be swift or may take many years. The drug business, both on and off the street, is a significant money-maker on many levels. The profits are substantial. Those making the big bucks often lack compassion or a sense of responsibility towards human life. It is inconvenient or possibly conflicting to honestly consider the consequences of this plight. In the case where a person’s conscience does any nudging at all, there is no hiding. There is truth in numbers.

With mandates keeping humans separated, behind masks, our ability to fully connect visually has taken an enormous hit. I will not go off on a tangent; it is not about choosing sides. If you had your sleeves rolled up, ready for the ring, sorry to disappoint. It is a fact that being unable to view facial expressions is equal to a more considerable distance than six feet.

Depression, suicide, substance abuse (drugs and alcohol), domestic violence, job loss, homelessness, and hunger are on the rise. Who profits? Who loses? Who cares?

Well, I am hoping that you care—that we care. It is time not to be fooled by a more extensive system at play and people hiding their addictions. It is also time to push aside your own discomfort and wake up. If you are suffering from addiction, please reach out. You are worth reclaiming your wholeness and begin the road to recovery. If you know someone you suspect needs help, extend a supportive hand to that person, contact a trusted family member or an organization specializing in substance abuse recovery.

Also, do not be afraid to look at where this is coming from and where the profit is. What is the ultimate cost? Human life. It is a high price to pay. Suppose you are thinking in terms of where your tax dollars are going. In this case, they are funding the pharmaceutical companies, health industry, drug manufacturers—both the drugs that cause addiction and the so-called cures.

Look at the US border. You will not find the whole story in the mainstream news, and yes, it is grim. You must look deeper. Awareness is only the beginning. A life worth saving and living is so precious; it cannot be expressed in mere words.

If you are suffering and believe there is nowhere to turn, please reconsider. Any shame, unworthiness, fear, or loss of hope can be faced with support. It is during these times, you will not only discover who your true allies are, but you will begin the long-awaited journey of self-care and love. If angels ever weep, they must be weeping now. Light, hope, and healing wait patiently in their wings. (Never give up.)

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