Confessions of a Citizen Journalist: When It Hits Home

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:

The Tragedy of Drug Abuse: One Teen’s Story

Is passion about your topic friend or foe to the citizen journalist? Is objectivity an absolute? 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.



  1. Pat Z Anthony

    You are a journalist and you did an excellent job here. Yes, it is hard to be objective when a subject is so close to home. Too many people who do not have a clue seem to share their opinions all too often on this subject. And, too many think removing all medications that are needed by those in pain will solve this issue. Our war on drugs is not working. We surely are doing something wrong.

    1. Deb Jones Post author

      I think many people in public health, mental health and general medicine are beginning to get a better grasp not just on the enormity of the problems, but the enormity that will be required to find solutions.

      I appreciate your read and comment. : )

  2. Pat Z Anthony

    @feisty I would love to edit my comment b/c there are errors-but no clue how to do that! You addressed an issue many of us are dealing with in our communities. Would really like to see a solution while I am still on the planet.

    1. Deb Jones Post author

      I understand about correcting mistakes in comments — I have some boo-boos, too, but don’t know if/how comments can be edited.

      The numbers in the United States right now are 129 overdose deaths PER DAY i the United States alone. I can hardly wrap my mind around that. I would love to see a solution, too, but will initially settle for a significant lowering of number of overdose deaths per day as a realistic goal.

  3. Andria Perry

    Addiction is hard to deal with and you are right, its the persons choice and nothing we can do about it.

    I am so sorry for your loss, no matter what she was doing she was still your child.

    I shared this on G+

    1. Deb Jones Post author

      I appreciate the social media share, Andria — thank you — and for your condolences.

      Yes, a parent’s love is unconditional. For me that meant that I didn’t like what she was doing, but I always loved the person she was and hoped/prayed she’d find the courage and strength it takes to beat addiction.

  4. Fifi Leigh

    I think it is a good idea to keep writing about drug addiction and getting it out about your late daughter’s addiction because he might help save some people out there before it is too late for them.

    1. Deb Jones Post author

      I agree with you Fifi…and if my writing doesn’t touch an addict, perhaps it will reach a loved one of an addict who has felt all alone in his or her struggle.

  5. Fifi Leigh

    I think it is a good idea to keep writing about drug addiction and getting it out about your late daughter’s addiction because it might help save some people going through the same thing, and maybe you can encourage them to get help.

  6. Ruth Cox

    As mom to a heroin addict my heart goes out to you as I applaud your journalistic, and loving, effort to bring the issues of addiction into public view. It is not easy to love an addict but we DO.

    1. Deb Jones Post author

      Ruth, we are kindred spirits. : ) I don’t know if you’re interested, but there’s a group called The Addict’s Mom on Facebook that you might consider joining if you’re not already a member. It’s for people such as ourselves to be able to share (or lurk) our experiences, positive or negative, with no judgment.

      I wish for you strength, self-compassion and that for which we all hope — that the addict in your life will find the courage to begin recovery and the self-love to know she/he is worth it.

  7. S.L. Luna

    I admire people who come out and talk about things that are close to home . The judgement of people will always be there but its your life and a cathartic way to ease your burden. I’m heartbroken every time my two sons get into something that I don’t expect , and in the process hurt themselves.

    1. Deb Jones Post author

      I think many parents would rather experience the pain for their children than the children themselves — whether actual children or adult children — having to experience it. I am a “fixer” by nature, so having to come to the realization there was nothing I could do for my addicted child other than to give moral support took a long time and many tears.

      Just the other day I read a quote that said (more or less): As we go through life, some people will hate us and some people will love us, and neither one has anything to do with us. Judgment is the same thing. I can be no more responsible for others’ judgment of me and my personal situation than I was for my daughter’s addiction and recovery.

      Thank you for dropping by to read and comment. I hope the road ahead for your sons is paved with challenges they will be able to both enjoy and excel at.

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