To Whom It May Concern:
Last year, while doing some research on the CRACK program, I made a phone call
to the number listed on the website for the office in California. I asked some questions about
their offer to pay for a tubal ligation for recovering and active drug addicts. It then occurred to
me that I could ask if I were eligible for the money. At the time I was 30 years old and had been
sober for 13 years (14 now). So, I asked the woman on the telephone if I would be eligible for the
program even though I had been in recovery since I was 16 when I had been using alcohol. She said
I was not expecting her to say yes and frankly I was really taken aback when she
did. I immediately began to wonder if they thought I was still a threat to a child I might want to
have? Would a program really pay me $200 to get a tubal ligation even though I was totally sober
and a completely productive member of society? The answer she gave still rings in my ears. "Yes you
are eligible", she said explaining that they would pay for any addict's birth
control/sterilization, no matter how long they had been sober. She also made some comment about how
responsible I was being given that addiction can run in the family and could be hereditary.
I hung up the phone and just cried. I felt angry and boxed in and insulted. My
sobriety and contributions to the world didn't matter. According to the CRACK program
representative with whom I spoke, I apparently carry within me generations of alcoholism and drug
addiction that I would inevitably pass along to any child I might someday have, making me somehow
forever unworthy of giving birth and parenting
This call made me think that their agenda extends far beyond concern for
drug-exposed infants and birth control. Their cause seems to be about judgements about and
prejudice against anyone who has ever had a drug or alcohol problem.
I come from a long line of alcoholics and therefore it might seem that CRACK is
correct to worry about the intergenerational affects of drug and alcohol use. But I have learned
too much about the true nature of addiction and my own family's history to believe that
focusing on the issue of reproduction/procreation is the answer. I do not wish that my mother had
been sterilized before my birth or my sister's. I do not think my life has been a waste.
What I do know is that addiction and family problems can be effectively addressed through
treatment, compassion, and patience.
I am proud of who I am and what I have been able to accomplish in my life. I
fully and sincerely oppose any suggestion that people like me are unworthy of reproducing. Finally
I feel deeply that even the offer of money for sterilization to a person like me perpetuates
dangerous stigma against people with a history of drug and alcohol problems that will ultimately
serve to undermine the lives and recovery of addicts across the country.