This last year for me has opened my eyes to one of the largest social problems our country faces. The increasing devastation of the opioid addiction problem. Overdose deaths are on the rise and so are the number of children in the system due to parents who have fallen into the deep, dark pit of addiction. Behind every addict is a family who loves them and cares for them and wants them to get help. They want their family member back to the way they were before addiction. They pray, they cry, they beg and they plead. And they sit back and wait for that dreaded call.
I got that call on January 21, 2017 as I was driving home from a visit with my brother in Michigan. My youngest daughter was in the intensive care unit at our local hospital after having been dropped off at the emergency room entrance unresponsive. Yes, people DO drop off their "friends" and leave them there like an unwanted animal at a shelter. Not only did they drop her off, but while the doctor who was leaving at the end of her shift was trying to save my child's life, the people who dropped her off stole the doctor's purse.
When I finally arrived at the hospital a few hours later, I walked in to my oldest daughter sitting at the bedside of her unconscious sister with tears in her eyes. Silent tears. We have cried a lot of those over the last year. The most heart-wrenching kind of tears. We watched over her the next week as her condition gradually improved and really believed in our hearts that this time she would go for help. She didn't. She quietly slipped out of the hospital with her "friends" a little over a week later.
Thankfully, her story didn't end here. On her 31st birthday she agreed to get help. By the grace of God and an old, dear friend we were able to get her into a treatment facility and she boarded a plane on April 6, 2017. We believe this was the first step to her future. A chance at life.
Now the tears we cry are happy tears as we watch her gradually become a new version of her old self. The funny, prank playing, sometimes obnoxious younger sister. The one who has been known to pick up frogs or snakes with her bare hands just for the shock value or teach a 7-year old how to ride a mattress down a flight of stairs. The woman who can cook some of the most awesome meals and doesn't mind getting her hands dirty in the garden or barn.
You may ask where I am going with sharing this story. Well, through our struggles we learned there are not near enough resources available to meet the increased need from this devastating epidemic. Government subsidized inpatient treatment centers are generally full with waiting lists that an addict may not be able to wait out. Private treatment centers may not take insurance or if they do, the insurance may not provide enough weeks of inpatient care to give the addict a good foundation before they move on to the next step of their recovery. Some communities don't have treatment beyond the traditional 12-step AA or NA meetings and some communities don't want a treatment facility in their community because then they would have to take off their blinders and admit that their town has not been immune to the problem after all.
I made the decision several months ago to do whatever I could to help. I knew I may not be able to help my own child but if I could help just one family in some way, it would be worth it. If I could comfort one mother and tell her it wasn't her fault. If I could lead one young addict to a treatment resource. If I could speak out with my author's voice and do something to save just one person I felt compelled to do so. So, I've joined with a small group of individuals to work with a non-profit group that is focused on helping the addict. I've taken a class on addictive behavior. And now, I want to go a bit further by donating a portion of the royalties from one of my books to fighting addiction.
I chose my book Wing and a Prayer because in a lot of ways, the heroine is much like my youngest daughter. Thankfully, the heroine gets sent a guardian angel who doesn't let her continue down her wild path. And the story has a happy ending. The kind of ending I hope my daughter has one of these days. So, for the year of 2017 I am donating 50% of all royalties from Wing and a Prayer to fighting addiction.
I want to take a moment to thank those individuals who have stood strong alongside of my daughter and who were there to give her a hand up when she needed it the most. And I want to encourage those who are currently fighting the battle to keep on fighting. And to those families who are suffering right now because of addiction, please have faith. There is help and there is hope and it comes when you least expect it.
You can purchase Wing and a Prayer from Amazon at https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01E20YB3A or if you would like an autographed copy for $10 plus shipping you can drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit me at Wild Deadwood Reads on June 10, 2017 in Deadwood, SD.