So you walk up to the bench as the judge on the other side looks through his glasses at his documents. He looks up at you and says “Ma’am, I see you're a diabetic?”. “Yes Sir” is your reply, as you hang your head in shame. He then proceeds to remind you that your blood sugar is sky high into the 300 levels. The gavel hits the bench and there is your fate! You're told you will be spending the next six months behind bars in your local county jail for you disease. Completely absurd, correct? Yes drugs are criminalized and yes stealing is a crime, but my disease IS NOT.
My name is Jessica Hall and I am the Director of Judicial Programs for the McShin Foundation. I am also a person in long term recovery from substance use disorder. This mean I haven’t used a substance in over three years. Being a young person in recovery has given me a life of a million open doors with my name written on them, and for that I am grateful. My lost dreams have truly been awakened, but it's the new possibilities that continue to baffle me. Who would have thought, me, a high school drop out, could be this beautiful young woman that I am today. So please give me a moment to tell you a little bit about why I love what I do.
Picture this little girl, scared and alone, in the back of a police car being transferred to a big girl jail on her 18th birthday. Not to sure how she got there but also having to wear a brave face because life just got real. Felony conspiracy to sell, manufacture, and distribute a controlled substance on 4 counts. I would think that some one would see this and think “Hmmm this may be a problem”. NOPE. I was slapped on the wrist and told to go home and be “a good girl”. My disease was fully alive and well at this point and no-one stopped to take the time to be in the solution. I wish I could tell you that this was end.
Moving forward a few years I find myself in and out of multiple local county jails around Virginia, but still, no help. Overtime 10, 30, 60 days behind bars!! Yes because that is completely the solution.Would you find it crazy for me to tell you that upon every release I was met with a pill or a pipe, fully loaded and ready to get back to business. What if… Just what if someone had said wait….and reached out that hand to tell me that I never had to use agin. If someone had seen the disease running rampant in my life and I was caught in the grips, that my days on earth were numbered, why not take the chance to pull me from the trenches, to plant that seed. I can’t tell you if it would have helped then, and don’t get me wrong, I love MY story because it is mine, but I can’t help but wonder, what if.
Knowing now what I didn’t know then it is apart of my duty, and it is also my honor, to be that hand. When that 19 year old girl walks through the jail doors with her chin in her chest, just as scared and alone in her own prison, to be able to take her into my arms so that she knows there is a way out, I am that light today, and so are you. For me, being that seed, is what makes me wake up everyday with purpose. I could be angry at the world for watching as mush as I could myself, or, I can be in the solution today. I mean there is a reason that I found my way out of the same hole right?? I believe that reason is right here.
Monday, October 16, 2017
Monday, October 9, 2017
Thank you for letting me back in
You thought you got rid of me in the 70s.
In the 90s, I was barely a blip on the radar screen, overshadowed by all the new party drugs. I was weaker back then, too, so pure and powerful now. Every new formula more tempting and deadlier than before.
I thrive in chaotic, fast-paced worlds where people don’t take the time to talk to each other. I can be delivered to your door like pizza and you can shoot me, smoke me or snort me. I like to be versatile!
I’m a killer. But I like to play with my prey first. I wrap my talons around them, leak into their brains, make them feel good at first and never let go. I tease them, tempt them and just when they think they are free of me, talk them into one more party. At some point, they become pathetic, needy and no longer any fun at all and I get rid of them. Vamoose! Or talk them into getting rid of themselves.
Those little white prescription pills you invented were mere bread crumbs right back to me. Greed and opportunity revived me.
I’ve made the lowest scum bags rich as hell. I’ve made mothers sell their children into human trafficking for just one more party. I’ve invaded the bodies of newborns, left children orphaned, wiped out entire families and created trauma so devastating, it will affect you for generations to come.
You thought you could punish your way out of this with a ‘war on drugs.’ And even after decades of failure, you stupid mother f—kers kept at it-- like slamming your head against the same wall over and over was going to produce a new result.
I continued to flourish. Thanks to shame and silence. Thanks for letting me, I couldn’t have done it without you.
Sincerely, Heroin, King of the World
By Anne Moss Rogers, a writer and public speaker on the subjects of addiction, mental illness and suicide prevention. She owns a blog called Emotionally Naked where she features guest posts as well as her own story on taboo subjects. In June 2015, Anne Moss lost her youngest son Charles, 20, to suicide when he was experiencing withdrawal from heroin.
Wednesday, October 4, 2017
Why Advocacy in Recovery Fails?
By: Tim Alexander
“We must all work in harmony with each other to stand up for what is right, to speak up for what is fair, and to always voice any corrections so that the ignorant become informed and justice is never ignored. Every time a person allows an act of ignorance to happen, they delay our progress for true change. Every person, molecule and thing matters. We become responsible for the actions of others the instant we become conscious of what they are doing wrong and fail to remind them of what is right.”
― Suzy Kassem, Rise Up and Salute the Sun: The Writings of Suzy Kassem
The path I chose has been difficult to say the least. I’m an addict. I’ve lied, I’ve cheated, and I’ve stolen from all those who have ever loved me. For many years I sacrificed my morals for the lonely degradation of a spoon, a needle, and heroin. I invested my entire life into a farce, a posy scheme designed to steal the most important assets we as humans possess, each other.
From childhood until my journey into recovery I was unable to connect with other people. The truth is that I didn’t know how to connect with people. I was shy and insecure as a kid. I was taught to believe that vulnerability is a kind of weakness. If I wore the wrong clothes I might not be cool, the wrong shoes I might be a loser. If I didn’t date a pretty girl I was ugly. These are the first run ins with the stigmas of our culture, and being judged as a person.
Over the years I found myself judging others according to societies unwritten rules. I labeled people. I bullied those smaller and less fortunate than me to calm the identity storms that headed my way. The fact that I had to drink beer or smoke weed to connect with others never occurred to me. As my tolerance built, I had to use more substances to continue my path of self-omnipotence to maintain my image. Little did I know, the more that I used, the more I became detached.
These actions led to many years of suffering and self-centeredness. Rehabs, prisons, and isolation from my community. If you’re wondering what that beautiful quote has to do with this blog, it’s quite simple really? And no, I’m not going to rant on about our failed drug policies, although that would be an easy topic to target. Placing blame on others has always came easy to me. #itsnotmyfault.
Today I rant about hope in unity. Our ability to come together as human beings for the sake of other human beings who suffer and die as a direct result of substance use disorder. This topic also entails mental health disorders and suicide. The question is how many people have to die before we stand up to the bureaucracy involved in human life?
When is the right time to stand up and let our voices be heard? How long will we allow pointless squabbling among lawmakers to continue while people suffer and die? Is it until it affects us individually?
Maybe I can help.
The day that we unite as one and show our country that human life doesn’t wait years for a bill to pass.
How is this done? Well, we become active in a movement. We participate and sacrifice our time and energy in selfless service. We show up although something “fun” is on the same day. We ask questions and research answers. We get out of our own self-righteous views and do the very thing we feel in our hearts, contribute to the greater good of our country. We love others until they can learn to love themselves for we are beacons of light in a world that has quickly become detached from the very thing that fuels our existence, compassion.
Don't spend pointless hours surfing Facebook, and Instagram, while Snapchatting stuff that doesn’t contribute to making our world a better place, mix it up a little. Not everyone, but collectively “We”, as a whole, fail to follow through with the gifts of freedom. Freedom of speech. Freedom from tyranny and oppression. The freedom to choose leaders who value what is important to us all…life!
This isn’t a personal indictment on any one person. This is a plea for help from our community. It’s time to stand up for those who can’t stand up for themselves. It’s time to stand as one, and love everyone in our communities and make it through this epidemic. These issues take more than a handful of people to overcome.
I work for the Mcshin Foundation. My name is Tim Alexander and I’m in the business of saving lives. Come stand with us Saturday October 7, 2017 at the Virginia Historical Society for an amazing event known as CARETALKS. The event starts at 5pm and if you need tickets, guess what? They are free! Help unite our communities and bond with those who are fighting hard to find solutions to our deadly opioid epidemic. I love you all and if you need help and support we’re a phone call away. Tickets can be secured at http://www.eventbrite.com/e/care-talks-richmond-tickets-36001328944.
Wednesday, September 27, 2017
December 5th, 2016
Promoting the Culture of Life
The Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution recognizes definite and self-evident truths about human life. These certainties are endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable rights. Founded by our forefathers, the United States Constitution conveys that all men are created equal and have the freedom of choice to pursue happiness. The purpose of our government is to serve and protect these rights of living life unbounded by oppressive restrictions. Our government, established among men, is supposed to develop righteous commands from the governed. This means that government gets all its power from the people. The people set up and run the government. The government does not run the people. If our people don’t like the government, they have the right to change it.
Unfortunately, these principles of human life and dignity are challenged and devalued by pornography, abortion, euthanasia and promiscuity. Media includes every broadcasting and narrowcasting medium such as newspapers, magazines, television, radio, billboards, mail, internet and social media. Moreover, media, controlled by our government, has an influence on our people. Pornography, abortion, euthanasia and promiscuity can be found all over media, such as e-mail, internet or television. Pornography is intended to stimulate erotic pleasure for an individual, rather than an emotional feeling of love for another. If a person can be fully satisfied with erotic pleasure instead of loving another, then that individual would be objectifying other people as a tool for pleasure. Objectifying a human is unequal and immoral. Abortion is intentional termination of a life within a pregnant mother, immediately contradicting the right of the free-will to live life. Euthanasia is the killing of an individual from an incurable disease. Killing another human is immoral and unequal. Promiscuity is the practice of casual or temporary sexual relationships, which can be compared to pornography for objectification of another human.
Providentially, media can be used as a tool to advance the promotion of life principles and reverse today’s moral erosion. Through social media, enlightening and encouraging posts to influence others against pornography, abortion, promiscuity and euthanasia. Passive-aggressive tweets, advertisements, blogs or videos against these immoral practices can help influence people to help pro-life principles with their own talents. Whether you have a large or small fan-base or following on social media, you can make a positive impact. The media is open to all opinion and input, but it requires proper and logical sense to convey a message to others. My personal solution is to do what you can, with what you have, to help yourself and others promote and further advance our rights to life. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the unconditional love of the God of my understanding.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect McShin Foundation.
Monday, September 25, 2017
Sometimes my heart gets extremely heavy. So heavy at points it physically hurts. It is all the guilt and shame of things I have done in my past that I can’t do anything about. It sometimes flutters around in my chest and other times it just sits there like a heavy ball right over my heart. It is almost always related to my children.
I have two boys. My oldest son is 15 and my youngest son is 9. I have not seen or talked to them in over one year. I talk about them a lot but for some reason writing this blog and seeing one year is stinging more so than usual.
Zac holds a lot of my personality traits. He is quiet and keeps to himself. He has a massive amount of love inside him. He is very sweet, kind and very forgiving. So, the fact that he refuses to speak to me or even talk about me tells me just how very hurt he is by all the choices I have made. I had Zachary when I was 17; I was just a baby myself. My disease is a progressive one and since I have been using since I was 15 Zac has gone down this journey with me. He has seen a lot, heard a lot, missed out on a lot and got hurt as a direct result of my disease.
My youngest son, Kamden, is a little fireball. Full of energy and personality. He is a straight forward, honest and hilarious kid. Kam has been on this hellacious ride with Zac and I since he was born. I was in an abusive relationship and both boys witnessed too much. Being so young and having gone through what he has gone through and still being able to be the unique, smart boy that he is, is a miracle.
The reason I don’t have my children is very simple and very honest. They got in the way of my using. I could not do my drugs the way I wanted to while trying to be a mom. I left them to use the way I needed to. I had experienced a lot of trauma and it all came to a head. I was not equipped to deal with life and did what I knew best: I numbed my mind and I used against my own will. I did not want to leave my boys nor did I want to continue to use. Thank God, I did because it is what brought me to my knees and I reached what I pray was my bottom. It got so painful and so bad that I had to do something different. It brought me to recovery.
I try very hard to trust God. Without Him I would be broken and would turn to drugs. The pain of having to face the wreckage of my addiction is the hardest thing I have ever had to walk through. The bright side is I never have to go through this again. I know I am where I am supposed to be. I know that I will be a better mommy miles in recovery then I will ever be back in NH using. The same way God is working in my life I must remind myself that God is working in their lives as well. This is their path, their story, their lives and God has a plan. I must stay clean and trust God. He will provide and He will show me what paths to take to regain a relationship with my children. I am excited for that day; to be reunified with my boys. They deserve a healthy mom and I deserve to have my boys.
An important thing to be reminded of is that we are not bad people trying to become good people, we are sick people trying to become well. Today I am better than I was and have the freedom to do what I need to do to stay well and continue to grow. My desire to stay clean outweighs my desire to use. Today I have a chance. We do recover!
Tuesday, September 19, 2017
By: Tim Alexander
I remember the sleepless nights as the doors to the cells open and shut. The sounds reverberated through my bones. The sounds penetrated my dreams and left me as cold as the steel and concrete around me. Days went by like a weary wanderer in a desert of isolation. My soul was parched. It longed for the refreshing waters of emotion. It longed for the warmth and comfort that love provides, yet, I was in jail....again.
I remember those sleepless nights when I wondered if anyone I knew cared if I was there alone and suffering. No, probably not. I had burned many bridges with my inferno of self-destruction. I was a labyrinth of self pity, a pan-handler of pain. "Excuse me life? Could you spare some insecurity? Could you spare some low self-esteem?" I was addicted to chaos.
Can you relate?
Do you know the darkness from which I've come? Chances are that if you're reading this, you do. If not, then welcome my friends. Welcome to recovery.
Many days and nights I wept quietly to myself for fear of another offender hearing my anguish. This wasn't the first time I had found myself withdrawing in a cell staring out of empty eyes into the cage that had become my sanctuary. Call me institutionalized, call me what you want, but in that cell I was safe, safe from myself.
I had tried recovery over and over again but seemed to be caught in that endless cycle of habitual ignorance. How do I change 25 years of bad decisions and character defects? Everything I had taught myself turned out to be wrong. All the manipulation turned against me and I became the puppet, my master was heroin. My mind was like an old slide projector flipping through the hopes and dreams of the life I felt I should've lived. "I should be somebody." I mumbled through cracked lips. How does nobody become somebody?
How does a man with no face that hides behind so many change? I simply had no identity. Somewhere in the vortex of my addiction, I'd lost myself.
I remember looking into the mirror and seeing nothing staring back at me. I was a stranger in another humans pallid skin. I looked upon a structure of bones only to see a parasite that had hijacked and destroyed some poor man's vessel.
Where do I find hope? Is it tumbling around on the floor wrapped inside the dust bunnies that elusively escape the dustpan of my soul? Hmmm...
I remember these days so vividly.
I remember them because in these days I surrendered. The pain of continual use became greater than the pain to face my fears. To face myself. February 9, 2017 is a day I will never forget because its the day I started my life. It's the day I found hope.
I will continue my story soon if you care to read more, and for those who have thank you for your time, stay clean, love life, and do something nice for someone today you never know another's struggle.