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Speaker: The Uncomfortable Silence

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  • Ross Bell,

    Thanks heaps for sharing, Amberleigh.

    Wellington, NZ • Since Nov 2006 • 169 posts Report Reply

  • Louise Hall,

    Thank you for writing and sharing this beautiful piece. I am so sorry your brother died. How awful for you all that he is no longer here.

    Dunedin • Since Mar 2007 • 7 posts Report Reply

  • Chopper,

    Thanks for sharing Amberleigh. I love this sentence: "Ask me how he lived though." So right.

    Since Jul 2008 • 19 posts Report Reply

  • David Herkt,

    Thanks for writing and sharing what I think of as an important piece. It is so truthful, and it gets to the heart of the matter that most of the people who die from a illicit drug overdose don't want to die... It is simply a matter of existing in a world where products don't come in precisely measured amounts and use of them is relegated to the shadows.

    And the strange thing is that often we approve of methadone treatment for heroin addiction without considering that they are very similar drugs, with very similar consequences, but one is legal and the other illegal. Which, to my mind, tends to indicate the very problem is the illegality. I've seen both methadone and heroin users function socially to a very high-degree. In fact, by definition, being a dependent user existing in an illicit market requires high functioning.

    I hate young lives lost through the consequences of a misguided drug-policy. Life itself is a risk. Crossing roads definitely is. But we should all be able to work together to minimise that risk. And, you are right, it does mean talking about it... and talking about it in an informed and non-prejudicial way...

    Auckland • Since Sep 2007 • 52 posts Report Reply

  • bob daktari,

    Ask me how he lived though.

    The question no one asks regardless of cause of death - my mum died of cancer... people would ask when she was dying if she smoked... she did... the look of sympathy would fade to be replaced by a look that was devoid of, um, being polite... empathy

    Sorry your brother is no longer and thank you for your moving words

    auckland • Since Dec 2006 • 538 posts Report Reply

  • Fiona Mckenzie,

    This is so good to read. Thank you.

    Christchurch • Since Jun 2015 • 14 posts Report Reply

  • Euan Mason,

    Great writing. Readers will all grieve with you.

    Canterbury • Since Jul 2008 • 259 posts Report Reply

  • Rob Stowell,

    Thanks for writing this. It’s sad and terrible. And then the painful silence.
    Not the same, but I lost my brother to suicide/depression, and it’s also been hard to talk about – except with some remarkable people, who just who get it. 20 years ago this May, and I still miss him.

    Whakaraupo • Since Nov 2006 • 2091 posts Report Reply

  • steven crawford,

    I’ve met people more intelligent and loyal than I could ever dream of being. They also happen to be trying to kick a dangerous habit.

    Addiction! heroin dependency is not a habit, it's an illness.

    Atlantis • Since Nov 2006 • 4327 posts Report Reply

  • andin,

    Until we remove heroin and overdose from the list of dirty words, the problem will never go away.

    The problems never going to go away until WE get our noses out of peoples lives and minds, allow for individual differences and choices. But some unspoken adherence to a dead mindset just keeps getting reanimated, usually by those who want to appeal to a mass audience for their own advancement and gain. It used to be religious drones now its political fuckwittery that others people who dont fit an imaginary and restrictive norm.
    He lives on in your fond memories, its all he would have asked Im sure.

    raglan • Since Mar 2007 • 1882 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    My brother lived a full and wonderful life for 35 years.

    Nowhere long enough. Thank you for giving us this, Amberleigh.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10641 posts Report Reply

  • steven crawford, in reply to andin,

    The problems never going to go away until WE get our noses out of peoples lives and minds, allow for individual differences and choices. But some unspoken adherence to a dead mindset just keeps getting reanimated, usually by those who want to appeal to a mass audience for their own advancement and gain. It used to be religious drones now its political fuckwittery that others people who dont fit an imaginary and restrictive norm.

    What the hell are you talking about?

    Atlantis • Since Nov 2006 • 4327 posts Report Reply

  • Lilith __,

    Amberleigh, if your brother was anything like you, he was amazing. Thank you for writing this.

    I know a woman who used heroin for many years, and nobody knew. Her family knew something was the matter, but had no idea it was that. She only opened up after she got clean, which she did with almost no support, because people who loved her didn't know.

    I'm so sorry for your loss, Amberleigh. And for yours, Rob. I'm sure your brothers would be so proud of you.

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3887 posts Report Reply

  • andin, in reply to steven crawford,

    What? Was I off on my own little tangent there?
    Ya get that sometimes, sorry
    And to Amberleigh

    raglan • Since Mar 2007 • 1882 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle MacDonald,

    Thank you for writing this Amberleigh.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 82 posts Report Reply

  • Hilary Stace,

    Yes thank you for writing this, and sorry for your loss.

    In the 1970s heroin (and other drug use) was pretty common. Not by me (I have often been the odd one out). Overdose was a constant risk and we often had to support various flatmates to keep them upright and conscious and slowly the effects wore off. We were forbidden to call an ambulance, because of the illegality of the cause. They eventually grew out of that activity and became ordinary and usually successful citizens with (perhaps) Hep C as the only legacy.

    But although none of my flatmates died at that time, I knew some people who did. All young, bright and so tragic. One friend in his early 20s was just lovely, so sensitive and creative.

    Your post has caused me to remember them again. Four decades on. Never forgotten.

    Wgtn • Since Jun 2008 • 3203 posts Report Reply

  • steven crawford, in reply to andin,

    What? Was I off on my own little tangent there?

    Sorry andin, I didn’t say that particularly well.

    I respect the fact that you made the effort to expand the conversation. It’s just not clear to me what your remedy to destigmatizing heroin overdose is. I here what you are saying about where the stigma comes from.

    My contribution is to say that there are all sorts of different reasons people would use ‘hard drugs’ which is another way to say heroin. Anyone who uses hard drugs in our current cultural context, has crossed a line. That’s partly why some people freak out. There belief systems might be conflicted. Anyone who hasn’t worked in a detox unit, rehabilitation centre or prison wouldn't easily understand the illness. Anyone who hasn’t known recreational uses such as in the music industries might not easily understand that not all people that experiment turn into a ‘junky’.

    What I definitely do know is that grief never leaves, it just gets easier to live with.

    Atlantis • Since Nov 2006 • 4327 posts Report Reply

  • Prudence,

    Wouldn't it be great if addiction was treated just as type 2 diabetes is. Both diseases develop in adulthood (mostly). Both so easily treated.
    Twenty years or so ago I read of a hospital somewhere in the UK where people dependent on heroin could pick up their required dose from the hospital daily. All these people were valued, high functioning members of society. There was no judgement made; the patients just managed their own lives with the help of the drug, just as diabetics do.
    I'm so sorry you lost your brother Amberleigh. Awesome brothers are so important to their sisters. It's just too sad.

    New Zealand • Since Jun 2016 • 15 posts Report Reply

  • Rosemary McDonald, in reply to steven crawford,

    What I definitely do know is that grief never leaves

    Give me a time machine.

    Dial back forty three years and let me tell my father....don't.

    Please, don't.

    Waikato, or on the road • Since Apr 2014 • 1344 posts Report Reply

  • LIISA, in reply to Prudence,

    Wouldn't it be great if addiction was treated just as type 2 diabetes is.... Both so easily treated.

    I think you might be underestimating the ease of treating both of these conditions, sorry.
    Certainly each would be made easier if the stigma attached to them was less.

    Wellie • Since May 2008 • 46 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to LIISA,

    I think you might be underestimating the ease of treating both of these conditions, sorry.

    Very true. I think what Prudence was trying to say is that addiction could be more effectively treated if it was seen like any other heath problem.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22756 posts Report Reply

  • Prudence, in reply to LIISA,

    "I think you might be underestimating the ease of treating both of these conditions, sorry."
    Yes sorry is appropriate. The patronising "It's harder to treat than YOU think" is one of the brick walls we come across. It's too hard so we'll just do nothing.
    I'm not likely to underestimate how hard it is to treat a disease I suffer from, neither did I imply it was easy.

    New Zealand • Since Jun 2016 • 15 posts Report Reply

  • some one,

    Amberleigh, thank you for what you've done here. It's very brave. I worked in the same industry and had the opportunity to meet your brother and hang out on a few occasions. You should know your brother was well loved by all and is remembered by how he lived and the people he continues to inspire.

    Since Jul 2016 • 1 posts Report Reply

  • andin,

    remedy to destigmatizing heroin overdose

    As Amberleigh illustrates its not the person using and overusing with tragic consequences, that is the problem.
    In this and many other areas its how everyone will view it thru their own personal mental focusing tool or brain (if you like). And some are completely haywire is all I was trying to say, and this will be used to detrimental effect by the unscrupulous.
    We’ve all got to put a lot more effort into caring and accepting of others, and that is hard now with so many pressures on everyone. And it all gets to much sometimes.
    But enough, this post is in honour of a loving caring brother. Wish we all were thus blessed

    raglan • Since Mar 2007 • 1882 posts Report Reply

  • John McCormick,

    What a lovely piece. Both moving and thoughtful. Thank you.

    Auckland • Since Sep 2014 • 18 posts Report Reply

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