Saturday, March 19, 2016

Second Chances

I finally felt able to watch the Frontline episode, Chasing Heroin.  It takes place in Seattle, where the exit gate is fast approaching and I cannot wait to leave.  Part of it is related to what I see on the streets every day and the affects that drugs, the lack of services, treatment options and well the divisiveness with regards to what addiction is and how to manage it in a city that likes to put up signs in business windows, open one non profit after another and pledge to do the right thing dominates the discourse.  A friend commented that it is "bumper sticker" politics and she is absolutely right.  I visualize a sticker that goes "My kid survived drug addiction, did yours?" on the back of an appropriate gas saving Prius to let everyone know they have suffered and you can too!

 The local paper profiled one of the mothers on the episode, Penny LeGate, and she has been back in front of the camera, this time as a subject as she discusses her daughter who failed in her fight over addiction. .   For the record her daughter went to one of our alternative high schools here that I have subbed at and I rarely go to them but when I do I see little to no actual education, support or well purpose, but it is there for whatever that means and they show her graduation as it if that was an accomplishment for a girl who had well fallen into the looking glass. But then again that too is just another sticker to slap on the back of the Prius.

Schools are not treatment centers, nor should they be.  The lack of resources in our public schools are barely enough to support the kids as they are, and however they are, so adding addiction services, mental health counseling and other medical support is utterly absurd, dangerous and frankly useless.

Addiction is too complicated to understand and that much is stated by a medical doctor and the other research professionals studying and treating this disease so why a group of Teachers, Administrators and others think they are somehow able to contribute to the plan is goddamn ridiculous.  Hell we are already maligned for not teaching enough math and science so this too is added to the curriculum. We can fit that in between teaching grit, social emotional tools, restorative justice and fuck that foreign language, physical education or nutrition!   A local high school is fighting to keep a wood shop class and the irony is that it was a bunch of girls that loved the course and wanted to keep it.  Gee trades and skills that ladies with saws and tools and shit, how practical, but what about your mood today?

I sit through this for 30 minutes a week.  The children barely are literate in their own language, they are struggling with math and basic skills in English and could use intense language skills and support in their own language to understand the basic curriculum, but let's take time out to ask about your RULER.  (That is the premise for the movie Inside Out)   When they get to me by that time I am full on Lewis Black, what a waste of time and energy.    Yes the children need integration skills and that will come with what? Language and ability to function in basic skills sets then add the layers to the cake once the basic batter has been established.

I am pretty sure one of the students is a dealer, not heroin but pot is a gateway drug - to deal bigger drugs as once you age up to buy legally in this state you need to ratchet up the options.

Not one of the white quasi formerly middle class kids (former as the costs of the addiction to the family is not just emotional it is financial, as Ms LeGate's daughter's treatment cost over 40K) ever began their drug war with pot, nope they went strait to opioida.  My favorite was the former mom who started on the pain killer prescription route and then it all went down from there. The show does a great job of showing the vast variations in the types of individuals hooked on the smack, but also dispels the idea that all of them start on pain killing meds.  The young people went into the shit fairly quick and that snap in the cortex led that to further deterioration and deeper addiction even in the case of those who were "clean" for long periods.  Proving that addiction is not just a matter of personal willingness or ability or lack thereof to stay clean.

The show also profiles LEAD here and glosses over the reality that it does nothing to treat addiction but it keeps the folks out of conventional jail as treatment.  Whatever.  I have no real opinion on LEAD as it is just to me another goddamn acronym that makes people feel better about knowing nothing and doing the bare minimum; that is really what much of this type of program is about,  those who work for the program versus those in the program.  That is why altruism doesn't exist as most people do something for a reason and that is largely the purveyance of the non profits, the ability for former addicts, homeless, idiots and others to feel good about "giving back" aka "projection" about their own problems and in turn their own recovery.   Trust me,  talk to people in any social service.  I work in schools I hear it all day. How about I like math and I like teaching and learning new ways about teaching x y z and being with kids and that is all one should do, end of story.  Nope it is always a feel good do good with some additional story attached.  We cannot just simply do something without an ulterior.  I used to think work was about purpose, skill and money.  It really is but that "save the world" bullshit really is what excuse the tech sector found to cover up their raking in boatloads of cash and looking less like Wall Street in doing so. 

As for drug courts those are bullshit as well.  But again this is another feel good concept under the guise of "justice reform." To do it right all rights should be maintained and all the parties involed should be well trained and educated and informed about addiction, treatment, management and well failure and they are not. They are largely Lawyers, Judges and Social Workers, I think that says right there three strikes they are not.  

I am sure kids where I am at right now are on drugs.  I watch a kid take endless texts and calls during class.  He is selling small drugs that much is clear.  And when my "dealer" kid showed up with 6 Starbucks drinks in a tray one day after lunch,  I knew instantly it was to tell me he has money as that was over 30 bucks in cost which a kid that age would not have given his status in the economic hierarchy unless he was the product of money (nope) or had money from illicit gains (yep).  When I mentioned this to the Librarian he said "how ingenious that he knows that he needs to get nutrition or whatever to feel good so he took care of his needs."  Yes he needed 6 Venti Frappucinos and Coffee drinks during his 30 minute lunch break to do just that!! After I thought about his response,  I assumed he was being sarcastic, or so I hope.  As for the student, he hasn't been back to school in days and frankly I am relieved, I hope he doesn't frankly as it is tough to watch and do nothing nor would I even if I could.  It truly is not my business in any sense of the word.

I have become almost anesthetized to the reality of Seattle and its burgeoning homeless/drug addiction/mental health problem.  It was always a problem here, I grew up here and that is the reality of this city but it is now an epidemic.  I see doorways, bus stops and every park, freeway off ramp filled with the waste, both human and not, of what our failure in the drug war and mental health treatment entails.  I am so immune to the begging for money and the stepping over unconscious bodies that I am no longer ashamed, but disgusted.  I went up the lite rail stairway the other day, well almost, when I saw a flash of a liter and I knew instantly it was not someone lighting up a smoke.  I turned around and went another way.  There is not a bathroom or elevator that I don't inspect before getting in as any closed space with public access is another red flag to be aware and cautious.

The tragedy is that at times you just wish them death as that may be the only way to alleviate their pain.  The sheer costs, emotionally, financially, ethically to the community is so overwhelming, so futile and so tragic, you think the end has to be the true end.  And then I think what are second chances,  I wouldn't know as no one really gives them. That is utter bullshit and it is why I know this, when I fell by hands that were not my own no one helped me and I begged for it.  This is Seattle, they are pickers and choosers of those who "deserve" help,  so imagine if it had been by my own hand, would that have made any difference? Yes and no. But I simply refused to capitulate to fall into their truths, I preferred my own as that was the truth. And in the world of guilt and shaming which is largely the major response to addiction that is not part of the equation. 

 If you wonder why America is so angry this may be it.  Second chances, opportunities, access, resources and money seem to go to those who want and need it less so that may explain it all.  I get it, I really do. 

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