Two of the most oft-repeated pieces of advice given to writers is to: A. Write what you know and B. Write about your passions. As a journalist that can tricky, even for a citizen journalist, to maintain perspective and balance.
Perhaps I flatter myself by calling what I do to be “journalism,” but for now it’s the moniker I consider most closely fit what I do, namely to present news online from the perspective of an “average Joe.” But I digress…
The topic that is both something about which I know AND about which I am passionate is that of addiction. Reading, writing, or talking about drug addiction, specifically for me, causes my heart to race and my mind to function on all cylinders.
It’s true that opioid addiction in particular is an epidemic problem in the United States, that overdose deaths have surpassed car accidents as the leading cause of accidental deaths and pain killer prescriptions are turning some otherwise innocent patients into the throes of addiction and even the need to turn to street drugs, but none of what is at the center of my passion for the topic.
My passion is much closer to home, so close, in fact, that it is in my own primary family circle. My oldest daughter, who would have turned 41 this July, fought the demon of heroin addiction for almost twenty years before succumbing to it in February 2016.
I don’t write about her experiences or even my own as her mother when I write articles about addiction in one form or another, but it those personal experiences are always in the back of my mind as I write. I sometimes wonder if I can be objective about the topic, but have come to realize there’s hardly a way a logically-thinking person could defend addiction.
I’ve come to hope that some of my passion about the topic does show through in my news writing about anything addiction-related – not as personal opinion, but a passion for the truth and the passion that only someone close to the subject can feel – and generate – in the writing.
In some ways, it is cathartic for me to write about addiction in cold, hard facts. Maybe those facts remind me that as a mother, all I could do was love my daughter and encourage her. Her sobriety was always in her hands, when as a mother I wanted so badly to take it on and fix it for her. I fight the fight now for those who are addicted today or may become addicted tomorrow by presenting facts and hoping those words will make even a small difference to someone, somewhere.
What I know for certain is that writing about what I know and about which I am passionate is making a difference for me.
An example of addiction articles I’ve written as a citizen journalist:
It’s not always possible to be objective about the topic at hand.
My thanks to Pixabay and contributors RobertChlopas (top photo) and PublicDomainPictures (bottom photo) for making their work available via public domain/CC0 license.