“Addiction is the only disease that tells you that you don’t have a disease.”
This is a powerful statement about the disease of addiction — the silent voice and inner thinking that goes on with addiction. What is it exactly that makes it so difficult to just stop? People who have never been addicted, as well as addicts, have personal perceptions about addiction based on their own individual experiences with this disease.
There is a stigma that if the addict/alcoholic just tries hard enough, or just wants too bad enough, they can stop. Don’t these hurting behaviors, that what they are doing to themselves and others, make them want to change? But people who have addictive behaviors are considered “immoral, “ “weak,” or even cursed with a behavior defect that incarceration or punishment will change.
Addiction does not discriminate. It affects people of all ages, races, ethnicity, gender, socioeconomic status, religion, and education. Once addicted, people will do whatever is necessary to feed their addiction. Addiction also tells people that they don’t have a disease and that they don’t have a problem with addiction.
There has never been a drug-free society in the history of mankind. Drugs and alcohol have been around for more than 10,000 years. Yet, the American society is fighting a “War On Drugs” that it cannot win. In 2019, more than 70,000 people died by overdose in the United States. Add to that, about 88,000 Americans die as a result of alcohol every year in the United States.
The silent killer of addiction is here to stay unless the American society reevaluates its’ current “War On Drugs.” Shouldn’t we be focusing more on drug prevention and education? Shouldn’t we be focusing our attention on the effects drugs and alcohol can have on the individual, the family, and on society itself? Finally, shouldn’t we be focusing on community based services that will allow addicts/alcoholics every opportunity to find treatment for their addiction, help them with housing, employment and education in order for them to become active members of their community?
It’s your turn! I would like to hear about your experiences regarding addiction. Also, I would like your input as to how we can improve addiction services, so that the people who need those services can get them. You can respond to me directly at: email@example.com
Mark Jacobson is a Peer Support specialist in Winona.