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Removing the stigma from addiction

 “The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is in the midst of an unprecedented epidemic of drug abuse and drug-related overdose deaths impacting every corner of the state and all of its residents. In 2016, more than 4,600 Pennsylvanians died as a result of drug abuse, with thousands more affected by addiction, either personally, or through family, friends, and loved ones.”  In 2016 alone the DEA estimates 4,642 people died from a drug related overdose this is approximately 13 people a day or one person every two hours. That is staggering yet the disease is SO misunderstood and addicts are labeled day in and day out. If you ask for help and identify yourself as someone who “has a problem” society views you as weak yet if you don’t address your addiction where does that leave you – as a static? We’ve just heard the DEA call it an epidemic. As someone in recovery let me explain this to you;

Addiction is not a choice or a crime, not a single person out there who is addicted ever chose to be an addict or an alcoholic. Nothing anyone could have done would have prevented the hell I put my family thru for years. Addiction truly does affect not just the addict but the entire family. My addiction took me to some of my darkest places. I am begging you to treat addicts with compassion in your life. It is not a disease of character or personality or spirit or circumstance. It’s a human condition with human consequences and being that we’re all human we’re all vulnerable. We are human beings with completely redeemable lives. Though not easy it can be done. Addicts hurt people, there is no way around it. When in the grips of their addiction they can be mean, selfish, manipulative, and destructive. I don’t make excuses for them because I know the path all too well. But I maintain compassion for them because I know the story all too well and without substances in their system they are worthy of love. Let me tell you this about addicts, we are your children, your spouses, your neighbors, your friends. No one grows up and says I want to be an addict. No one gets up and says today will be the day I die. No one fantasizes about becoming a junkie with a needle in their arm or passing out on a sofa. When a young person takes a first drink or puff of marijuana they don’t imagine they may be taking their first steps into a life of pain and despair. If most addicts had just a moment to fully experience addiction before getting started I can guarantee you they would probably never get started. We need to erase the stigma of addiction and mental health because as the saying goes “There but for the grace of God go I”.

To anyone struggling with addiction, please, please seek help, go to a hospital or a local treatment center. There is help available. We DO recover.