Op-ed: Comments about heroin addicts are inhumane

'My cousin is a good man'
Op-ed: Comments about heroin addicts are inhumane
Posted at 7:30 AM, Sep 28, 2016
and last updated 2016-09-28 07:30:50-04

Ian Witt is a software developer who lives in Crescent Springs.

There is an unsettling trend in the conversation on the regional heroin crisis. On websites where users sign in with Facebook and leave comments using their real names, even one's own reputation is not considered when spewing vitriolic opinions.

The following comments are from a recent story on the overdose crisis: 

"If you are stupid enough to use drugs and then overdose why should anyone care...?"

"There is no more useless member of society than a drug abuser." 

"Great! More deaths by drug overdoses will mean fewer addicts to provide for."

These are your neighbors. They are your coworkers. But when they get behind a keyboard they reveal the true depths of their depravity.

Ian Witt

I am addressing this as a concerned community member and as a relative of someone suffering from addiction. On Sept. 11, my cousin, who had been sober for two years, was hospitalized after relapsing and doing heroin. This was not any heroin though. This was the variety you may have heard about lately in the news containing carfentanil - an elephant tranquilizer. He was not aware of the carfentanil's presence.

My cousin is a good man. He is the boy I played video games with into the early morning hours as a kid. He is the guy with a charming sense of humor and a college workload. Unfortunately, he is also the man who ventured into the waters of addiction, waters from which he cannot return. Once you become addicted to a substance, it's a lifelong struggle to remain sober.

After being clean for so long, something happened inside my cousin which most of us will never understand, and in this moment of weakness he made a serious mistake. After being unconscious for six hours, he came to. He is incredibly lucky he didn't end up like so many others who never woke up.

As a result of relapsing and the bad batch, he'll face an uphill battle to recovery. His legs had to be cut open to drain an enormous volume of fluid. His kidneys are struggling to operate. He even had heart surgery.

Was it a mistake to relapse? Are our community services burdened from cases like his? Yes.

Does he deserve death for making this mistake? Are your tax dollars worth more than a person's life? Are you a good person for hoping other people would die? No.

People will relapse. Users will be saved by Narcan and do heroin again. However, wishing death upon addicts is attacking the branches, not the roots. The circumstances driving people to use in the first place should be the focal point.

Compassion is the way. If you are someone like the above commenters, I am both disappointed in you and embarrassed for you. Humanity deserves and expects better from you.