Dr. MacAfee, our beloved addiction therapist, wrote: Relatively few people respect the addictive condition as a legitimate life-threatening illness. Rather, there is disgust not only for addiction but for the addicts themselves. This disdain permeates society and emerges from within addicts, honing their stealth and duplicity and their self-hatred. This condition serves to permeate their malady even further.
My reflection: Dr. MacAfee’s words confirm the stark truth of something my son said years ago, “Society loathes addicts and addicts loathe themselves.” At the beginning of Jeff’s addiction, I, too, suffered from lack of understanding the disease. Today, I know better.
Today’s Promise to consider: Addiction is a life-threatening illness claiming over 72,000 deaths in 2017, yet much of society disdains both the person suffering and their families. Granted that many people do horrendous things while under the influence, but instead of criminalization and demonization their condition needs early and prompt medical intervention. Today, I’ll face the addiction crisis and give my support through activism, sharing my story, helping others, and standing tall for what is right.3861
I have so much gratitude for your words and your strength of spirit Libby – thank you. They’re food for the soul ~
Thanks, Pamela, for your compassionate comment. We walk together. xo
I have been fortunate over the years to hear medical professionals present, at seminars and conferences, the disease model of addiction. I would like to believe this is an accepted construct, but because the primary symptom of the disease of addiction is behavioral, i.e. bad behavior, i think most still see it as a moral failing. How can they make the destructive choices they do? It is so hard to grasp, yet the chemical changes that occur in the brain when using are drastic. They are beyond rational thought or reasoning with. Yet we continue to think we can make them change!
As with so much of life, we have to often find ourselves in deeply painful places in order to choose change. This applies to us codependents as well as our Addicted Loved Ones.
Mindy, Your comments are helpful and full of wisdom. Thank you for sharing. I once asked an addiction therapist why my son wasn’t choosing recovery when it was SO obvious that he needed it. The doctor’s response was, “You’re trying to have a rational conversation with an irrational person.” Those words hit me. As you write – the person suffering is beyond rational thought or reasoning with. Thanks for writing.
I spoke with a dad last week who was asking for my guidance due to his adult daughter’s addiction. As soon as I got to the disease model all communication was stopped as he and his family believe it is strictly a behavioral issue. I understood how he believed this way as it took me many many years to accept the disease model myself. Why did it take me that long? It was because of my own denial and my refusal to accept the wise words of our alcohol/drug counselor. I refused to study addiction. I refused to believe in support groups. I refused to believe in 12 step programs. I refused to believe that God could be trusted. My own willful blindness was used by Addiction to help destroy my son. My own recovery from codependency occurred when the pain became too great. I dropped to my knees in tears and cried out to God to forgive me. I said, It is your will, not mine. I will follow you God. I am willing.
Dear Pat, Bless you for all you do for others. I remember well when I was in the same place as the father. I remember being baffled by my son’s and thought that his actions were against me – “How could you, my son, do this to us?” Only when I made the decision to quit being the victim, to surrender to my Higher Power, and to learn about addiction did I change. Yes, we become embroiled in their addiction, and we, too, need to recover. Thank you, Pat, for your wisdom.
Thank you Libby for your clarion call that reminds us that addiction is a life threatening illness which needs redefinition in our culture and that our loved ones need and deserve our compassion, our assistance, our activism, and yes, our respect as they battle this debilitating disease. There was an excellent discussion today with NPR’s Joshua Johnson on 1A about the opioid epidemic that is empowering.
Thanks, Maureen, for your clear and wise response. I’ll check out the NPR discussion. By joining together in this ‘clarion call’ (a wonderful word to describe our goal), we can make a difference. My love and respect to you.