Our Different Path

We all walk a path of sorts; Some of us feel like we have total control over what it looks like and where we want it to lead. Some of us feel like we have no control over the journey and no clear idea of where we are headed. Do we have confidence in the path we may have chosen? In fact, it is a choice at all? The reality I see far too often is that a significant number of us are not in control of where we are going. I know this sounds a little esoteric and is clearly a metaphor, but these are the things I consider in my own journey.

What we can and cannot control

Is there a destination in mind? Not in my plan, and in fact, I have no plan at all. Mostly, like many of us, I am merely trying to make it through today. Not that I think this is my last day, or that any of you necessarily feel that way either. It is a way of staying in the now, and not focused on what might happen. Many things are outside of our control, in our daily lives and in our complete life over time.

Rethinking substance use

Do we fight this thing, or do we embrace the moment? This is something we do have control over (to varying degrees). I hear this far too often when people talk about drug or substance use. It goes something like this “They made a choice”. Well, there may be some truth in that people made a choice to try things that led to where they are now, in terms of their need or want to use substances to make it through today.

I am no expert on substance use disorders, but know that many who fall into this clinical designation are also a significant number of people living with hep C. What I hear from the people who are working on the front lines of overdose prevention and harm reduction is that they know that the sharing of needles and equipment for smoking substances is widespread. A choice? No, not always as simple as that. If we over-simplify substance use as a choice or not a choice, we limit our understanding, and ultimately our compassion and empathy. Too often, even in the hep C community, I see evidence of judgement and stigma, and it troubles me.

Thinking about hepatitis C

There is a list of things that take precedence over hep C for many. Housing, food, and their next dose of meds so they can avoid being sick. Yes, meds. Illegal or not, they are something that is needed to function reasonably enough to get the housing and the food and other things so crucial. The everyday use of pharmaceuticals is no different, and like many of us, I depend on help that I derive from substances. The substances I use are prescribed and should that make any difference in truth? The big difference is that I am far less likely to die because of tainted pharmaceuticals. I see that as a privilege that is unfair over someone who does not. This is why I am trying to put these things into a more of an objective lens, to help me better understand the issues.

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