I can’t fathom how his mother must have felt- finding out her son felt he had nowhere to turn but to a life consumed by drugs and alcohol. If I had to, I can imagine it felt like she was being handed a life sentence for a crime she didn’t commit, and probably never saw coming. I can imagine she constantly questioned what she did, didn’t do, or should have done. Soon, the life she once knew was probably consumed with lies, excuses and isolation. I know in my experiences, I found myself working hard to keep his secret safe and locked away- afraid of the stigma that would change his life forever, and I know she did too. I can imagine how this most helpless and hopeless journey must have felt for her. Being a parent, I’m sure it seemed as though she had no control over anything in the family. At times I can imagine she screamed, cried and hopelessly bargained in an attempt to ease the pain. There was nowhere to hide. On a daily basis, guilt found a way to seep into her mind because at one point in time, she considered herself to be a “good parent.” And now? She probably found herself constantly searching for someone or something to blame for the madness.
Addiction is by far the most stigmatized disease in this country. As the loved one of an addict, at first I had my own stigmatized view of who addicts were. Unfortunately, it was during this time that my thinking was controlled by misguided perceptions.
HE WASN’T DIRTY. HE DIDN’T LIVE ON THE STREET. HE DIDN’T SELL HIS BODY TO GET HIS DRUGS. HE DIDN’T SHOOT UP IN ALLEYS OR LIVE UNDER A BRIDGE. HE WAS IN CONTROL OF HIS ADDICTION AND WAS SO GOOD AT CONVINCING HIMSELF OF THIS, THAT HE CONVINCED ME TOO. HE WASN’T “THAT ADDICT,” HE DIDN’T LIE AND STEAL FROM LOVED ONES, NOR WAS HE INCAPABLE OF HOLDING DOWN A JOB BECAUSE HE SHOWED UP STONED TO WORK.
In my attempts to get him help, I found most people I encountered in the process really didn’t care about him, or any addicts for that matter. I listened to others time and time again, portray my ex and others like him as “unworthy, disposable, unproductive people.” It’s honestly sickening. At the time when I finally came clean and revealed to others of my ex’s illness, I was shocked at how many so called friends no longer called. If I would have told them he had cancer I would have gotten support and offers of sympathy. It’s true, let’s be realistic.
A large portion of society still chooses to classify addiction as a self inflicted condition or the result of some “moral flaw” within the abuser. This infuriates me to no end, it always has and always will. Yes, I’ll be the first to admit that at first I was guilty of believing this idea to be true myself. Until I watched him try to stop. It was a horror show- his body literally fought tooth and nail against his will to change and it was the most gut wrenching battle I’ve ever had the displeasure of witnessing. What many people don’t understand is the fact that addicts, believe it or not, don’t actually desire to live the life they are trapped in. Cravings consume their minds and pain wacks their body when those craving are not met.
NEWSFLASH, THERE WILL BE NO CHANCE AT SOLVING THIS SOCIETAL PROBLEM UNTIL EVERYONE REALIZES THAT BLAMING THE ADDICT HAS NEVER, AND WILL NEVER BENEFIT ANYONE. STOP BLAMING THE ADDICT.
Ultimately addiction, as ugly as it is, deserves to be treated as any other chronic disease and I have became an advocate for those suffering. The stigma lives on. Society continues to blame addicts for their illness, on an overwhelming “desire to get high and feel a sense of euphoria that only drugs provide” BLAH, BLAH, BLAH. It’s unfortunate how ignorant the public is on matters concerning altered brain chemistry and biologically how someones body can turn against them after their first experience “shooting up.” I’ve heard way to may people say to me, “if he wanted to stop he would have.” All that coulda, woulda, shoulda nonsense is garbage-end of story. Can I just make it clear that time and time again, science has proven ADDICTION to be a reoccurring, chronic and life altering DISEASE.
ADDICTS ARE DYING EVERYDAY BECAUSE NO ONE FREAKING GETS IT. THESE ADDICTS ARE PEOPLE JUST LIKE YOU AND ME. SONS AND DAUGHTERS, HUSBANDS, FATHERS, MOTHERS ALL DESERVING OF LIFE SAVING, AFFORDABLE TREATMENT THAT KNOWS NO TIME FRAME. THIS STIGMA MUST COME TO AN END BEFORE THE NEXT GENERATION IS FOREVER LOST.