Addiction is everywhere lately. Not just because it lives in my family, but I have seen a lot of talk on TV, on the internet, on social media, about addiction and drug use. The over dose rate right now is outrageous. The age of those over dosing is getting younger and younger. It really has become an epidemic. And of course, as any other media-attention-grabbing story, it brings out the crazies. Interestingly enough, the crazies in this situation are not the addicts. The crazies to me are the extremists. JoDee frequently shares on Facebook stories of people over dosing, or interesting tidbits about addiction or drug use that she sees on addict’s websites/blogs etc. I usually read the articles, or whatever she shares but I rarely read the comments because it the same ol’ same ol’. Addiction is a choice, not a disease comment by some pretentious person who claims to have addicts in their family that robbed them of a life time of happiness so deserve to be bitter followed by 1.5 million comments of people either defending the pretentious stance or obliterating it. This usually ends up becoming a mud slinger which I want no part of. Rarely will I ever comment on this stuff, the one time I did I got that creepy comment from some person I don’t even know, which makes me think the crazies can track a person down anywhere. Alas, I have enough crazies in my life; I do not need to invite more to the party.
The most recent post was about 10 things sober people don’t know about addicts or something along those lines. For some reason that I cannot explain, I clicked the little unassuming button that reads “comments” to scroll through and read the comments posted. Why I would do this, I have no idea. First of all, people are effing cray cray. To the nth degree. And number two, and this is the shocker, I was shocked by some of the comments. That is a shocker because it takes a lot to shock me at this junction in life. What does not shock me is the “disease vs choice” debate that ensued. Honestly, I’m over it. I am not going to get into a heated debate with someone I don’t know, whose opinion has no bearing whatsoever on my life or JoDee’s over disease vs choice. You believe it’s a disease, great, so do I. You believe it’s a choice, great, so do I. The choice to use was definitely the addicts. At one point. JoDee used a drug at some point for a reason which was her choice. I would never argue that. But the reason behind the choice is what I often debate. No one ever says let me do drugs just because I want to see if I can ruin my life and everyone’s around me. It’s a poor choice that leads down a road that kills, causes mayhem and destruction. Yadda Yadda Yadda. It is what it is. Addiction is a disease. What you are addicted too (food, shopping, gambling, drugs, alcohol (which is a drug people), places, music, etc.) depends on the person and technically, choices, I guess. I just don’t think it matters. What matters is that the person is addicted to a substance which alters positive choices and decision-making continuing to lead down a path of destruction. If someone with Schizophrenia stops taking h/her medication, we don’t say, well they deserve to kill themselves or people around them, throw them in jail or let them die. But no one wants to talk about the mental health issues of anyone. Period. So I won’t.
Instead, I want to briefly discuss one of the comments a lunatic, in my opinion, posted. The list of “things people didn’t know” had number 6 being Addiction is a Disease. So this woman posted a comment about how addiction is not a disease and how she knows because she smoked for 10 years but quit cold turkey totally fine because she made a choice to stop. This started the chain of comments, people agreeing and disagreeing with her. She made some points about addicts not taking responsibility for their actions, which to a certain extent I agree with. But I will get into that later. Someone posted a comment defending addiction as a disease comparing it to cancer. And this is where it got scary. This woman and I use that term loosely, posted a very long comment, which in part read that cancer is population control, and like addiction, we should not be trying to cure it because it is nature’s way of cleaning out bad genes and people. I feel like a teenage girl when I say this, but I can’t even. There simply are no words for such ignorance. I can’t even get into the part about cancer; I can’t imagine a person with cancer, fought cancer or lost someone they love to cancer would be particularly happy about that comment. Population control? What? Who the hell says that? Out loud! This person goes on to talk about how she has three kids which frightens me to no end, and reminds me anyone can breed. But, after I picked my chin up off the floor, I reflected on why I was so disturbed by her comment. Well, for one, I think it’s outrageous, and for two, it’s outrageous. However, it’s her opinion. I mean, opinions are like assholes, everyone has one and hers stinks. Clearly no one she loves has died from cancer. And I’m certain, even if she is a giant wackadoodle, if one of her three children had cancer she would feel differently. And the same would be true about addiction.
As a result of this blog, lots of people send me comments, privately or public on the blog. Often the comments supporting my sentiments, or from other parents are posted publicly. People who want to bash addicts, or think addiction is a character flaw that dirties the clear waters of society, typically send me private messages. I answer them all. I am able and willing to have a discussion with someone whom has a different view than me. I can have an intelligent discussion about my view-point, and the other persons view-point. That is what a healthy debate is all about. No one is going to agree on everything, the difference is when someone is willing learn something. I have no tolerance for those that do not understand something but have no interest in learning what they don’t know. I also feel as though parents particularly are willing to comprehend the inner workers of an addict. I think anyone who loves an addict suffers, but a parent takes on a particular sort of guilt. Here is the thing, the thing no one says, or talks about …. WE ALL HAVE CHOICES. Everyone has a choice. Addicts can reach out for help if they are ready, ignorant people can continue to be ignorant if they want, family members can choose not to support an addict financially but still give emotional support if they want. And that is where the real lines are blurred.
Not supporting an addict financially is not the same is cutting them off emotionally. Refusing to give them a comfy place to live, money to buy drugs, access to a car is helping them. I believe the message should be I won’t help if you use, but if you don’t and need help, I will support that decision. On top of that, I think the amount and type of support someone gives to an addict is very particular to the situation. Each addiction and addict are unique, just like no two snowflakes are the same. Someone’s story might sound like ours but family dynamics, family, upbringing and culture certainly make everyone’s experience different. Also, being ignorant and being uneducated are two totally different things. Someone with two Masters and makes millions of dollars a year might be the most ignorant person you know and someone who never made it past the 8th grade may be someone you learn the best lessons from. We should put less stalk into someone’s resume and more into their character. I hear often that blood is thicker than water, and maybe that is true, but if my family tried to ostracize JoDee, you can bet blood would not have mattered. Parents should be empowered to follow their own instincts, regardless of the unwanted, sometimes misguided advice from people who are not as emotionally vested. I got a lot of advice from a lot of resources, and some of that advice was sound and from experienced parents who stood where I was not that long ago, but I couldn’t follow it. I wasn’t ready. No one should feel bad about the mistakes they made. We are all human, fighting a war against a faceless, nameless disease that looks like our children and loved ones, but the truth is by the time the disease gets to them, the ones we love are gone, and the fight is on to bring them back.