It has become overwhelming clear to me in the last few weeks that there are some in our community who strongly feel the current issue we are facing with addiction does not affect them.
It’s not their family or friends, it’s not their problem, it should be pushed under the rug, and we should sit back and hope that this “dirty little secret” in our community goes away. If you are one of those people, I have to warn you: it’s not going away.
If you haven’t been affected by addiction in some capacity enough to understand what our community is facing, I assure you, you’re in the minority. If you don’t know at least one person who has lived to tell the tale of addiction and is now a productive member of society, you are in the minority.
As our addiction problem here grows, so does the recovery community. Almost everyone knows someone who has come out of addiction and made a life for themself. Many in the recovery community are now the driving force to helping others battle addiction. These individuals and the knowledge they possess around this topic are priceless in making any progress with addiction.
While you think addiction may not affect you, chances are you know someone it does. There are many families facing demons that words can not describe. Many of those families never thought addiction would affect them either.
Others have very strong opinions about addiction.
Social media has given us a tool in today’s society where we can voice an opinion, even if it’s not so nice, and never see the hurt we cause with our words. Of course, you may get some “replies,” but you will never look directly in the eyes of the multiple people you hurt.
While some say technology has allowed us to be the most connected we have ever been, I fear we have lost a sense of human connection when dealing with this topic. You see, a grieving mother is a grieving mother. No matter if that child died from a car accident or an overdose. To her face, your reaction would never be, “well he was an addict.”
Chances are if you hold an opinion that is considered harsh when it comes to addiction, you have your reasons. Anyone who has dealt with addiction in any capacity of their life recognizes that it can bring anger out of even the most loving and compassionate people.
We are all entitled to our own opinion. What we are not entitled to and what we should not feel emboldened by, is using that opinion to hurt another human being. Most likely, the person you are hurting is not an addict. The only people you really hurt are the ones who love an addict and want desperately to save them.
While we waste time arguing about whether addiction is a choice or a disease, or if Narcan should be freely available or not, people are still dying. An entire generation is dying. Leaving behind an entire generation of traumatized kids whose parents died of drug overdoses. That is the reality.
Whether addiction directly affects you or not, the fight against it belongs to each of us. This is our community. We are raising children here and growing old here.
The first step is learning to empathize and love those who are going through it — and I don’t mean just the addicts themselves. These families never chose this, and they are hurt and helpless. These lost souls are not our enemies. They are our family, friends, neighbors and neighbors.
They are humans.
While we may not agree with their choices, we know there are families in this community suffering greatly because they are all important to somebody.
If you do nothing else, be careful with your words. In cyberspace the hate you speak can often land where it was not intended to. If you feel the need to voice an opinion, ask yourself first, who will this really hurt? Some things are better left unsaid.
Remember, kindness doesn’t cost us anything.
Someone Who Loves an Addict
The opinions expressed in letters to the editor are the author’s own. Send your letters to [email protected].