Everyone’s talking about it, even the President. I’m glad. It’s time. But the more we talk, the more I realize it’s important how we talk about addiction.
There are studies that tell us who is addicted and why they’re addicted. Some think the addict made a bad decision in his youth. Doctors are to blame, say others. Many think the addict is weak and if she would be tougher and stronger she could recover. The theory that addiction is an illness is gaining ground. If only he hadn’t smoked pot when he was twelve maybe he wouldn’t have started the strong stuff. Parents blame themselves. There are as many reasons as there are persons who are dependent on these drugs.
To (mis)quote a Catholic priest who was also a member of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), “It matters not how the donkey got in the ditch. JUST GET HIM OUT!” Please, let’s get them out. They’re dying at an alarming rate.
If you don’t have a family member or friend who is dependent on drugs, count yourself lucky and don’t hold your breath. It’s just a matter of time. I don’t say that to be a doomsayer. It’s who and where we Americans are now. It’s our reality.
When (not if) you find yourself confronted with an opportunity to interact with an addict and/or the family of one, don’t forget that they are human beings. Flawed? Maybe. Troubled? To be sure. Sick? Yes. But they are people all the same. Just like you and me. They have hearts and souls and hopes and dreams. They hurt more than you and I can imagine. They are someone’s child, sibling, parent, grandchild, aunt, uncle. The rest of us have an obligation to help them.
As with everything in our society this could, and probably is, going to become political. Don’t let it. Addiction knows no political affiliation, no socioeconomic level, no gender, no age, no ethnicity, etc. Our job is to see that our politicians don’t politicize this issue. Call them daily. Write letters/postcards. Keep after them. Most of them surely know personally someone who needs their help. We need their help and lots of money.