“Addiction will NEVER affect my family!”
It is not difficult to understand the amount of anger that surrounds addiction. Heroin is destroying families. Hydrocodone is ruining marriages. Meth labs are creeping into homes. Roughly 100 people die each and every day from a drug overdose. It’s easy to see the suffering going on in this world when we watch the news each night. It makes us want to hug our families a little closer. It’s easy to say that these things will never happen to us or happen to those we love. And for some of us – the lucky ones – we may be right. For most of us, however, we will in one way or another, be impacted by addiction. Addiction isn’t something we can hide from, shelter our children from, or turn the other cheek. Addiction is real and without a doubt, drug overdoses are one of the biggest killers in our nation.
“I’m not involved with substance use; I’ve never even tried a drug in my life.”
So you’ve gone about your daily routine for years now, in your safe neighborhood and your cozy home, working a good job and paying your bills. You, like many other Americans, believe addiction can’t break through those four walls. You believe addiction only happens to reckless people: rebellious teenagers, homeless people, uneducated citizens, bad people. Who else would ever shoot heroin or take more pills than the doctor prescribed? Surely, it is only people who don’t know right from wrong. Perhaps you say, you have never taken a drug in your life. Have you not ever had one sip of alcohol? Not one pill, prescribed by a doctor? It is true that many people can take a sip of alcohol, have a drink or two and call it quits for the night. It’s true many people can take a pill as prescribed after surgery or a broken bone, to calm the occasional anxieties, or aid in chronic pain from a car wreck. It is also true that there are people who drink alcohol to get drunk, and people who deliberately use and abuse prescription drugs to get high.
However, have you ever thought about the bridge in between?
Think about those who use prescription pills, not to get high, but to truly help ease the pain of an injury, anxiety or ailment. Is it possible they will ever cross the fine line between dependency and addiction? How many people start taking pills as prescribed, then find themselves needing an extra pill in the afternoon – and then one to help get out of bed in the morning? If your spouse suffered from a bad back and needed an extra pill or two to function like he used to – would it even cross your mind he may be addicted? Or would you simply want him to do what it took to feel better? Would you know if your sister’s social drinking had turned into a necessity? Or would you think she only drinks on occasion? Would you even feel comfortable talking to her about it? You see, addiction realities don’t just disappear because we turn a blind eye or simply go about our business. The reality is – most of the time, it doesn’t take much to cross the fine line from dependency to addiction.
Crossing the line.
Crossing the line to addiction isn’t a choice. People who become addicted to drugs or alcohol either started because they were curious, gave into peer pressure, wanted to feel better, or even thought they would try it just once. By the time people realize that it’s serious – they don’t get to choose whether they keep using, they have to keep using because without the drug, they’ll become violently sick. No one wakes up one day and decides to give up their hopes for the future, their family, their children, their home, their health or their happiness to get drunk or high. No one consciously chooses to give up everything else in their life – all for a drug. No one wants to become addicted.
We can’t keep hiding from addiction.
Misconceptions and stigmas about addiction keep many people in the dark when it comes to drug and alcohol addiction. Turning a blind eye, minding our own business, and sheltering our children doesn’t stop the number one killer in the United States. Just because we’ve become bored and annoyed by the number of news stories about drug arrests, drunk driving, celebrity drug stories, heroin overdoses, or drug gang wars – doesn’t mean it’s time to stop talking about the real problem. There is something we can do about addiction. It’s a disease – and it’s treatable. People find hope and healing every single day. We aren’t all immune to addiction – but we are able to treat it. It’s time to stop proclaiming that addiction will never affect us, that it’s dirty and we refuse to acknowledge it. It’s time to rethink addiction and help those who are hurting – rather than ignore it.