When the conversation about drugs and addiction comes up, there are some folks out there who really do their best to maintain its dark, judgmental stigma. Their stance that “drugs are a choice” and those who chose to use deserve the consequences of choice.
I bet these are the same folks who would love another chance at redemption if they were to get pulled over by the police while under the influence of alcohol, or think it unfair if they were fired for showing up late at work. I am certain I could make a long list of zero tolerance exceptions for those who spout the rules of absolutes. Funny how absolutes are protected by self-serving exemptions.
When I read the inflamed, ignorant, mean, intolerant comments tossed around on social media based chats, sites, and articles regarding addiction and drug use, it disappoints and hurts me. These folks simply do not know. At the same time, there are many sensitive, thoughtful, challenging, understanding and supportive comments threaded in there, as well. These comments demonstrate experience or, at least, the desire to understand the issue, the problem, and the challenges all of society faces as drug abuse continues to grow in our country.
For every angry, uncaring, scarred human there is at least one another person who has lived and experienced addiction in their lives or in the lives of friends. These people know drug addiction, addiction of any kind, is not something angrily, judgmentally or cold-heartedly dismissed or excused. Until you know, you cannot know — be careful how you judge, criticize, or stigmatize the issue. It may come home to you and then the wake up call is harder to take than you realize!
When it comes to drugs and addiction and the families affected — no one is looking for an excuse, a handout, or someone to assign blame to for their situation. The families of addicted loved ones are simply asking for help — understanding, treatment, a cure — for this disease.
I never expect anyone to approve of my son’s choices. I don’t. I am incredibly upset, disappointed, angry, and hurt that his life ended up this way. I am extremely pained that he suffers in his life the way he does because of those decisions he has made. My heart breaks for him when I think of his journey. I don’t blame anyone but him. This does not mean he deserves to be condemned to hell on earth simply because he became trapped by an illness as a result of something stupid he did in the past.
When my son makes a decision to get help — treatment and recovery — I would love for there to be a cure for his situation. Right now, there is not enough resources to properly treat those that want and need help. The social stigma of addiction doesn’t make the need, the cause, or the demand to find a cure attractive, valued, or necessary. For those desperate and willing, the only treatment they receive is for the symptom not the disease. It is not enough.
I am not asking anything of my fellow humans what I would not be willing to give to another. I am asking and encouraging every one of you to make better conscious choices about how you treat your fellow man. Remember love, understanding, patience, and empathy are desperately needed if we are going to make the world a better place. What you do is up to you. After all, it is your choice.