The AP has a story on Rep. Cindy Ziemke (R-Batesville), her sons’ struggles with heroin, and what the struggles bring to her legislative outlook. Both of her sons have addictions to heroin. Among other things, one ended up in prison and another in a hospital as well as in and out of rehab.
She is proud of what her sons have accomplished though she acknowledges her expectations have changed over the years.
“I used to think they were going to be doctors or lawyers,” she said. “You want to know my proudest moment lately? Sean got a new car. He’s got a clean driving record, a 750 credit score, and he can afford a car payment. That was my proudest moment lately.”
I have to say that this is a scenario that plays out in my nightmares. I have a couple of kids who are delightful and seem to be very much on the right track. And, so, I wonder — how much randomness is there in addiction derailments of otherwise promising lives?
From a policy perspective, this has emphasized to Rep. Ziemke the need for better treatment options in Indiana.
Unlike Indiana, Southern California boasts a wide range of treatment options and, as a result, a much larger sober living community. There is a wider array of housing options for those in recovery, and employers are more open to hiring recovering addicts, she said. There are 12-step meetings available any night of the week.
It’s a stark contrast to Indiana, with its limited treatment options. Fostering a stronger recovery environment in Indiana will take time, she said, but it begins with recognizing the need. And that means spreading the truth that heroin abuse can affect anyone.
To that end, she’s sharing her experiences more frequently. She mentioned Sean’s struggle during the last legislative session when she sponsored a bill expanding the availability of naloxone, the overdose antidote that helped save her son’s life.
And just last month, she spoke to about 500 people at Mental Health America of Indiana’s annual gala.
“It’s hard to do,” she said. “But it gets easier.”