Thursday, September 13, 2012


The other night, my wife and I rode our bikes to our city's downtown area so we could have a dinner out. We're pretty much "empty nesters" now since our older son is in a sober house and our younger son is off at an amazing boarding school. So going out for dinner spontaneously is kind of a new thing for us.

While we were in the restaurant eating our meal, there was a young family sitting in a booth two away from ours. The husband and wife looked to be in their early 40s, and their two sons were maybe 9 and 11 or so. The husband had been having a negative, "humorous" conversation with the waitress about the city of Detroit, which is very close to our city. (The Detroit border is actually at the end of the block we live on, which is only about 10 houses away.)

I didn't think much of the conversation that was going on until the guy got up to go pay his bill and continued to joke with his waitress. "Yeah, that's where I go to get my heroin. Didn't you know that? I walk over there to get my fix. I pick up a couple of bags and I'm all set."

At that point, I was just shaking my head on the inside. Part of me wanted to say to the man, "You know, I'm the father of a recovering heroin addict and I find your conversation offensive." But I didn't. I just figured the guy was totally ignorant and really had no clue that what he just said offended someone in the restaurant. I mean, how could he have possibly known that he was just a few feet away from a dad whose son used to pretty much exactly what he was joking about? So I just let it go.

For the last few years I've felt pretty much the same way about people who jokingly refer to people as "crackheads." You know: someone does something stupid or crazy and someone else says, "What a crackhead!" I find that offensive, too, but I just let it roll off my back. Crackhead is just another word that people use without realizing that it may offend someone. In my mind, it's in the same league as "gay" or "retarded," two other words people often use in a derogatory, "joking" manner.

It's just ignorance. That what I keep telling myself. But that doesn't mean that ignorant people can't get my blood boiling a wee bit every once in a while.


  1. I get it. Before our children were addicts, we may have not thought about it at all. It was someone else s problem that would not touch our family, right? Little did we know that this would soon become part of our world. And I am guilty of that as well. When my son was small ( we lived in the city then) I would seen teens walking by with their pants down and getting high, and thinking what is wrong with their parents?? That has come back to bite me for sure! Now we are hyper aware of all the comments and things regarding drugs that appear in our lives. I do know that I have used the expression jokingly about someone being goofy calling them a crackhead. Then after my son informed me he was one for a while,now that term stings me. I no longer use it as a joke. It now is a reality and has a new meaning in my life. I would look at it like that man is clueless as we were, and hope that he is not going to have the journey as parents we have had. I don think I would have been offended, as maybe sad at the way people think.

  2. This was good to read. I will enforce this in my household. I live in a city where we have many addicts and at-risk people, and I take your message to heart.

  3. Oh thank you. Couldn't have said it better myself. My son is an addict who's become addicted to crack,...and the term "crackhead", in all of its derogatory intention makes me wince & hurt. I'd never have predicted that my own precious son would be someone who could be who that term describes, & I hate that descriptor. People that haven't walked in our shoes have NO idea what it's like nor how easily it could be them who could be us....

  4. In what I can only attribute is feigned innocence, and at worst, complete idiocy, we are waking up one family at a time in a sad awakening. Often too late, and always with tremendous sorrow. Recently, I corrected someone who threw out a derogatory term about a situation involving an addicted person lost to an overdose.

    I, too, have moved from the side of dismissing them as "What's wrong with them?" in a flippant manner to painfully realizing any family is one wrong choice away from losing someone they love and can lose in a flash.

  5. Equally as disturbing is that it sounds as if he was joking about this in front of his children! People can be so ignorant!