By Staff Writer James Mellen III.
Today is just another day where America’s opioid epidemic claims another life.
While many Americans witness the devastation of the epidemic in their communities, we also see the effects on Television and in the news. Mac Miller and Demi Lovato are just two of the most recent overdoses that made more than just the local paper.
After both of these deaths, Twitter exploded with sympathy, celebrities who overdose are “brave” and “heros”. This is in starch contrast with the addicts in everyday America.
Everyday addicts are “bums”, “fiends”,“worthless” and “criminals”. They’re people who knew what was coming to them and did it anyway.
So what’s the deal with this double standard? Where does it come from? Should celebrities get the same treatment as everyday Americans?
People have personal connection with celebrities, every 19 year old kid(myself included) grew up on Mac Miller, or watched Demi Lovato on Disney Channel.
Every Mac album has a song on it that brings me back to a specific part of high school, and when he died it didn’t feel like I lost someone a thousand miles away from me, it felt like I lost a friend. To a lot of people, this was the first time they’d lost a friend to drug addiction.
So they got a glimpse of how painful addiction is, and they called him brave because that’s what he is. He’s brave, he fought a hard fight, and he lost and it’s the worst.
The solution to this double standard isn’t to stop treating celebrities like hero’s, it’s to stop treating addicts in your hometown like they’re villains When an addict overdoses in your hometown, they aren’t a “bum” or a “fiend” or “worthless” or a “criminal”.
Those addicts are brothers and sisters and mothers and fathers in friends, and when it’s outside of your community they’re a rapper or a pop star.
I write this article from nothing but experience, when the first of your friends overdose and you’re seventeen, it’s not a reminder of why you didn’t chose to do heroin, it’s a reminder of how lucky you were to not have been born in his situation.
America’s opioid addiction isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, and the policies in place make it even harder for someone to break the cycle of addiction.
The War on Drugs isn’t a war fought with policies on the side of the government, and a war fought with lives on the side of its people.
Addiction is a disease not a crime, and the opioid epidemic will never end as long as the government (which is made by us through civic engagement) sloppily attempts to put an end to it through the enforcement of laws.
The term in and out of prison literally wouldn’t exist if prison did the things did what they were supposed to do.
No matter what you think the cause of the opioid epidemic is, the first step to solving it is to change the perception of the public about addiction. Every addict deserves to be treated like Demi Lovato and Mac Miller when they overdose.
In my dreams, when someone says they’re a former-addict, people don’t see it as a sign that they have poor decision making skills, it’s seen as a sign that someone survived one of the hardest things someone can go through.
It’s easy for people affected so personally by addiction to be upset when they see singers getting praise for something that they know got their loved one got condemned for. Especially when they loved them for so much more than their musical talents.
Even if a celebrity’s talent seems trivial compared to years of memories with someone you loved, remember that for a lot of people this was the first time they saw what an addict is capable of. (Which is for the record, is exactly the same as what any other person is capable of)
Remember that when a celebrity gets praise for their overdose, it’s the first step in changing the minds of the public about addiction. Remember that it’s the first step in ending the opioid epidemic.
And if you’re someone whose used to chastising addicts in their community, maybe remember that while your favorite rapper overdosed, the person you called a bum was somebody’s favorite brother.