We say addiction is a disease. It is classified in the DSM as a disease with loads of scientific research to back up and verify the affects that addiction has on the human brain. We learn about the floods of dopamine brought on by meth use which when stopped makes the brain crave that chain of events over and over again to feed the need of more and more dopamine just to feel "normal" as it is being depleted by the lack of drug use....thus the vicious cycle of using and abusing has begun. We read about the detox from heroin, the muscle cramps, the sweating, the nausea, vomiting and dehydration, and how so many addicts can't bear to face it, especially when they know that relief is just one shot away.
We often compare addiction to cancer or diabetes.....but really, there is no comparison. If my child had cancer my friends would be bringing over dinners, offering rides, buying us gas cards.....but instead I hear silence. (And I understand that! This is just factual information, not a complaint.) If my girl had cancer, we would not be in a position of banishing her from our home.....she would be snuggled in a bedroom with down comforters, and flowers on her night stand, and netflix on the tv. I would be making her healthy smoothies, and brushing her long hair and braiding it. I would be able to lay next to her and snuggle in while we read books together, I could watch her sleep. I would be assured that she was safe at home with us and her spirit wasn't being ravaged out in the world. I would be allowed and able to love her freely and take care of her like a mom wants to do for any sick child of her's. I wouldn't hope for an arrest or a serious illness where she needs to be hospitalized in the hopes that maybe, just maybe she will get help and this will be "THE" time.
When I have discussed this dynamic with my girl during healthy times she has said she doesn't agree with the disease model. She said, "I wasn't sick to begin with. I was depressed. I knew right from wrong and I chose to take that first drink. I chose to smoke that first bowl, and eventually I chose to stick a needle into my arm. I didn't start out sick, but I am sure sick now. Now I am diseased." She always takes full responsibility for where she is, which is almost harder, not almost, it is....harder than if she was screaming at me to go fuck myself.
We read of doctors heartless responses when addicts come into the emergency room. A story was recently shared about a young man in jail, left to die from an asthma attack in his cell because the guards assumed it was just him detoxing from heroin and ignored him. He died a slow agonizing death.
So where is the line that our children are still human beings and deserve to be treated as so despite their obvious character defects? I eat too much. Would that deem me unworthy to be treated like a human being? Some people shop too much, drink too much, play too many video games, watch too much TV, exercise too much, our defects can manifest in any and many ways....some more socially acceptable than others. We all on some level have the disease of "too much." We use a variety of behaviors to feel better, to mask, to escape, to avoid.....we all do it. Our kids just got caught up in a terrible and deadly cycle.
I can't change the way society views drug addicts. I can't change that we call addiction a disease but we as a society, shame addicts, we ridicule, judge and push them away from us in the name of boundaries and limits....in order to save ourselves. I am currently doing this last behavior! It doesn't make sense to me, but I know its necessary for my own sake, and the sake of the rest of my family. I hate that the world see's my girl as a worthless junky. I hate even more that she see's herself that way. I see her as someone who is sick but can always get better. Someone who holds limitless potential to use her experiences, both good and bad, to bring about change and to reach people. In my heart I keep feeling the urging to stay out of the way of the process....but I don't understand the process. It makes no sense....let go to receive back. Maybe that is faith.