Saturday, November 1, 2014

Addiction....the disease.

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 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.



Anonymous said...

Dear Annette,

This is so well written and it is the truth. Not only does society look down on the addict but also the people who raised him/her. In all honesty before going through this myself, I too judged others. I always thought that if you paid attention and were involved in your childs life then such things could never or would never happen to our family. I was so wrong and that is the lesson I've learned through this nightmare. I'm now a very compassionate person and try to never judge anyone for anything anymore. We all have our lessons to learn. Now I just accept. It's all I can do and it sounds so easy but for me is a lot of work. I think about you and your daughter often and pray for you.
Thank you for your sharing your thoughts here. It helps me a lot.


SoberMomWrites said...

I have no words except to say I'm here...and I'm praying.


Chelsie Charmed said...

I don't believe addiction is a disease in itself but more of a symptom of a past trauma or mental illness. We try to self-medicate with drugs, alcohol or some behavior to alleviate the distress caused by this trauma or mental illness. Its really sad how society views addicts like their contagious or something. Or that they don't deserve help because its their own fault, they should just stop. I really wish it was that easy, Im sure we would all do it if it was. Blogging about your daughter and her addiction will help people see that addicts are people too and that they deserve help just like anyone else, so please keep sharing and maybe we can change one mind at a time. I'll be keeping you and your daughter in my thoughts. <3 BB

Lolly said...

Powerful, wonderful, sad post. Praying extra hard for you and yours today.

Dad and Mom said...

All of us parents of an addict can write the very words you have written so well here.

Hattie Heaton said...

Annette, I know that you've heard this analogy before but I heard it again the other day and it brought me peace and perspective.

Hang in there.

Mrs. Dubose said...

I finish this post with tears in my eyes.

NO ONE is worthless. You have such beautiful love and compassion for your girl and I pray with all my heart that she is safe and will soon find the strength she needs to ask for help.

God Bless you and your family, Annette. Wrapping you in a big virtual hug.


Liz said...

Dear Annette.. Many prayers are being sent to you and your beautiful girl.

Pam said...

Annette, I think the helplessness of having a loved one suffer from any life threatening condition can overwhelm even the most experienced caretaker. Even if you could wrap her in your arms and feed her soup, YOU could not change the outcome of say Cancer. But the hope that you can try to hold on to here with addiction is that at any moment, on any given day-your loved one can change the outcome one day at a time. I think that is the main purpose of "the process". With you being a caretaker; it might help to think of this more to help them than to help you. At least that is what I had to do as a mother, ultimately is was all about my love for him and wanting to do WHATEVER I could to help him. Even if that meant to focus on me.
(Just a thought I had after reading your post)

Anonymous said...

This is heartbreakingly true. You really did hit the nail on the head.
I was lying in bed beside my daughter as she was coming down a couple of weeks ago. I had gone over because I hadn't heard from her in a few days. She grasped my hand, sobbing loudly and asked me why I didn't just give up on her like the rest of the world. How alone they must feel.