Rarely do I publicly rant in response to ignorance. Ignorance, by definition, is simply one person demonstrating their incredible lack of knowledge on a particular subject or issue. When an ignorant comment is delivered with hate, insensitivity, contempt, or judgment toward another person the gloves must come off!
Today I am declaring my commitment to battle the ignorance in our society on drug addiction.
Drug addiction is a disease. It is a disease that attacks the mind and takes over the body and destroys people’s ability to make the decisions that help them get better.
There are over 23 million people with substance abuse related addiction. They are not simply troubled kids from broken homes, in the poorer parts of town or blighted urban areas. Nor are they all drug addled rock stars or spoiled actors.
Addicts are simply human beings who, for one reason or another, tried something that made them feel good, feel whole. It is very similar to your shot of bourbon after work, or your glass of wine, or your prescription meds, or your Twinkies treats. Not everyone who uses drugs is an addict. Unfortunately, there are components in some people’s physiological and psychological make up that triggers an addiction. It happens. It can happen to anyone, anywhere, at any time. No one knows that they have the gene until it is too late.
I am a father of a son who has been battling a heroin addiction for over four years. He will tell you he never wanted to be an addict. He never thought he would become an addict. He wishes he could stop being an addict (though he is in recovery — he will always be an addict). All he wanted to do was feel better. He was seeking an escape. He didn’t believe, know or think he could have possibly ended up in the situation he did.
We all make conscious choices. For some the outcome of those choices had far greater impact on our lives. For many, the impact of those decisions– diet, smoking, lack of exercise — didn’t manifest themselves immediately. There are over 23 million people who suffer from substance related addiction. 23 million! That is nearly double the 12.8 million people who are currently, or have been, treated for cancer.
It is a disease. We can argue all day about conscious or unconscious choice. “They shouldn’t have stuck the needle in their arm.” For me that is a non-starter. We all could argue about the good health, bad health decisions that people make every day in the face of the threat of disease or illness. Yet, we as a society accept the impact of those choices because we have accepted the reality of the diseases they are now dealing with.
Before you judge, before you show contempt and before you dismiss, please do your homework. Drug usage is up. It is becoming increasingly cheaper and easier to buy heroin. It is everywhere.
The cure is not solely found through the elimination of drugs. Richard Nixon declared war on drugs over 40 years ago.
The cure is not to simply learn to “Say No!” Nancy Reagan started that campaign 30 years ago.
Both are great causes.
The cure is education and treatment. Learn to understand and treat the disease. Make a commitment to finding a cure. In order to do that, we as a society must be willing to learn more about the problem instead of simply dismissing it with a cold hearted, mean spirited, ignorant comment.
I am here to educate those who want to learn more and support the parents who are suffering in the meantime. The battle is on and I will change the game!!