The Opioid Epidemic Rages On, and Yet they Are Still Pumping out pills

The Opioid Epidemic Rages On, As We Sit in Prison

If my life spiraled out of control as a result of ingesting that one half of a Percocet innocently in a moment of sheer agony, how many other lives have been affected in a similar way? How many households have now been turned upside down because housewives have discovered the same thing I did?

Addiction not only affects the lives of those battling it head on, but sadly the people around us who are forced to watch the devastating havoc it wreaks on loved ones. When people are in the midst of the struggle, they are unconscious of the pain felt by family members standing by helplessly watching their decline. Instead, we run. Chasing a feeling. Chasing the wind, as it’s all a fleeting moment, anyway.

For years my mom sat by watching her first-born and only daughter self-destruct. At the time I was aware that she knew of my problem, but uncertain if anyone else knew I was drowning. She did know, and she was heartbroken.

But I was thankful because I lived alone with my infant son so she did not have to witness all of it up close and personal. Like on those mornings when I woke up reaching for my pill bottle and glass of water before I could even wake my son up and start my day. Or on those days when I had no pills, and it was all I could do to drag myself out of bed to care for my son.

Most days she only witnessed the euphoria after I found a way to get pills anytime I needed them. With easy access to elation, I was on a constant high, with a terrible downward descent.

Days were spent consuming two pills every two hours when I felt myself coming back down to Earth. When I felt myself resume the reality I sought to escape, I twisted the cap off of my pill bottle, poured 20mg of bliss into my palm and downed them with water.

Don’t miss our 50 at 50 series: one current or former prisoner published a day until New Year’s Day 2022.

And off again I floated. From this project to that, be it cleaning the apartment, cooking, doing laundry or washing my car, I had the energy to do it. And so I did. Barely eating. Just fleeting from here to there and losing myself in the process. 

Literally. I ended up with a weight of 120 pounds, which sounds healthy for my frame and height. The manner in which I lost it, though, was anything but healthy. But I was in the middle of this, so I could not see out naturally.

I didn’t even realize what I looked like on the outside until one day I watched my son, now at the tender and impressionable age of two, imitate me throwing back pills into my mouth and taking a sip of water to wash them down. I was horrified. I was embarrassed. But most of all, I was ashamed. Ashamed of what had become of me. 

I haven’t spoken of that incident except one other time in my life. But witnessing the epidemic as it now occurs in countless lives, I must warn others. These pills are dangerous, people!

This epidemic has been occuring, only on a smaller scale and very quietly in the homes of Black communities for years. It has only grown and gained momentum and attention because it has begun to affect white households alike. Now that “Mary Elizabeth” is having the same problem that Chanell had, America can now see the problem because it has come directly into their living rooms. 

Welcome home, America.

Chanell Burnette is a writer incarcerated at the Fluvanna Correctional Center for Women in Virginia. You can view her full bio here.

Chanell Burnette is a writer incarcerated at the Fluvanna Correctional Center for Women in Virginia. You can view her full bio here.

More Articles

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates from our team.

You have Successfully Subscribed!