Addiction – Disease or Disorder?

In the past few months I’ve read countless blogs, posts, even articles on the subject. I just finished reading a post by a woman named Brianna on TheOdysseyOnline. Her post made me angry enough to open up my Mac and start to type. However, I realized her anger and my anger are identical. Neither of us are being understanding. Now, on one side- how could I begin to understand a woman who’s ignorance fueled her post? On the other side- “Love unconditionally; with respect, with compassion, and with the ability to understand differences.” – K.

I’ve been in recovery from alcohol for almost six and a half years and I am also a type one diabetic – two diseases I battle with. Yes, I said disease- in my eyes, addiction is a disease. It always was and always will be. The disease of addiction has been with me long before the drugs showed up. It didn’t become a disease once I got clean, once I couldn’t stop- it simply is a disease and one day, it became active, it became ugly, and it became destructive.

Brianna, no one chooses to be an addict and certainly none of us wish to be labeled with the disease of addiction or even the words, Recovering Addict. Yet, here I am, in recovery from the disease of addiction and dealing with type one diabetes. In fact, it’s rather interesting – I was born a diabetic, yet, it did not become an active disease until I was 7. I was born an addict (games, food, movies, activities, art work, work, sports, friends, dating, scratch offs, etc.), yet, it did not become an active disease until I was 17 and found alcohol. See, some people can go on a binge, decide to try some coke for four straight days, and then wake up on Monday ready to go to work without thinking twice about it. Others, not so lucky and some not alive anymore to talk about it.

It’s wild to me that you list on your article that enablers aren’t the problem, it’s the drug addict. WILD TO ME. Yes, the number one in active addiction is the sick and suffering addict, but don’t think those enablers make it any easier. I watched and tested how much I could get away with, different scenarios that ultimately worked in my favor- why? because I needed more, I wanted more, I had. to. have. more. What didn’t help? The ones who watched and helped. I don’t mean help as in, stick a needle into your loved ones arm, I mean still gave money, still let them back inside, often felt it was safer if only done in their home. That’s the enabling that didn’t help and still doesn’t. I’ve been on both sides, I come from a big family of recovering addicts. I’ve watched my parent’s struggle during my siblings battle with heroin, I’ve watched them have to cut ties and stop letting her come home, sending her to rehab, another rehab, another rehab, and then a safe house because her boyfriend tried to kill her. Do you think she chose that life? No, the drugs chose that for her. Do you think she cry’s the blues or asks the world to show pity? No, she doesn’t disclose her story to anyone, only our family knows because we lived through it with her. She went from a broken soul to a successful woman with over ten years clean.

In meeting’s they say to the newcomer, sit down, shut up, and listen to the message. Please, listen to my message. Outside this computer screen there is a growing epidemic of addiction and a growing number of death’s- daily, maybe even hourly. With that said, you chose to bash the idea that addiction isn’t a disease? “Respect what you don’t know and ask questions if you’d like to know.”

The ending of your post, the last paragraph, that’s what hurt me the most.

“So please, stop playing the victim role thinking you have a disease that you brought on yourself because of your choices. Stop crying the blues because you screwed up and want the world to take pity. And for the love of God, STOP acting like you are as sick as a cancer patient.” – Brianna

It’s cold-hearted the words you typed and I’m sure you are a sweet woman in person. Yet, I’m embarrassed for you to speak such ignorance. Do you understand the life of an addict- before and after finding help?

Do you know what it’s like to admit you have a problem in a room full of strangers? Have you ever stepped foot into a meeting? If not, I suggest you do. We don’t “cry the blues,” and ask for pity from the world, all we want is another day clean. When we put the drugs down we must face our wreckage, which includes the pain WE caused OTHER people- including our family, friends, partners, kids, employers, the list goes on. We MUST change EVERYTHING, people, places, things.

It’s almost baffling that you think someone CHOOSES to become addicted. I totally knew I’d be an alcoholic before I took my first drink, right? No, I had no idea. All I knew is that this drug, because alcohol is a drug, was great! It was fun! I didn’t have a single care in the world after a few sips. Then reality hit and I couldn’t stop. I craved and stole, I manipulated people to get more. Who CHOOSES to live that life? Who WANTS to live that life? I sure as hell didn’t and now I don’t because I CHOSE to get help.

To me, you sound ignorant to the reality of addiction, “The disease of addiction.” You came across as is a bully. What is worse to me is that you beg us to stop comparing to cancer patients. What about diabetic’s (disease)? What about diabetic’s who are also recovering addicts (disease), I don’t sit here and compare one to the other because they are the same- I’ll have both for the rest of my life whether I like it or not and what I chose to do with that? Accept it.

What is preventing you from accepting that addiction is a disease? What is eating you up inside that you can’t find the understanding? Or is it that you are defending/speaking up for someone who is battling cancer, or another disease?  I don’t look at things one sided, I try to understand or at least relate. Is your anger towards us or is it towards whatever disease is causing pain to your loved one? If I’m right, you’re holding on to pain and you need to find acceptance. Just because you are in pain doesn’t give you the right to cause us pain with your ignorance and bullying in your post.

We don’t ask for pity, we don’t ask to be coddled, we ask God every morning to relieve us from the desire to use and replace that with the faith we can get through another day. Addiction is a disease and it’s apparent long before the drugs are introduced.

Let me propose this,

Instead of spewing words to a subject I don’t personally think you truly understand, why not get involved? Help the addict out there who doesn’t know another way out, help the patients in hospitals who have no family left and are dying from cancer. Find the love and compassion inside and put it towards the ones who need it most.

Just one more thought, people who choose to smoke do create a risk for cancer and even get cancer later on, so some cancer patients did make a choice, right?

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We the People can Stand Together

This election has brought out the best and worst of people. It has created an even greater divide in this country. I was taught growing up to be a leader, not a follower. I was taught to love everyone equally and to never judge. I don’t know if those values have been lost amongst other families but I believe we need to speak of it more. Everyone has their own ideas, opinions, thoughts, we cannot control what goes through another human beings mind; we can control how we react when we hear it. If you decide you are against something I support, that’s fine with me but don’t add hate and rage to it. Hate and rage add fuel to this burning fire in America right now. Peaceful protests are turning into to crime and vandalism. Police having to resort to pepper spraying or spraying you with a high pressure hose because the crowd is out of control. Do you really think the men and women who fight to protect our streets wake up wanting to hurt you? I’m very good friends with a gentleman who wants to be a cop so he can save lives and protect all. I’m almost certain that most Police Officers joined for that same reason.

We as a country have taken a giant leap forward and it’s up to us to keep moving in that direction. If the President of the United States has a strong opinion about something, that doesn’t mean we need to go out and break into buildings or attack our police enforcement; we just disagree. It doesn’t mean we now need to live with the same opinion; we live in America and we have the right to have differences of opinion without shoving it down each others throats. Yes, this election has brought out the absolute worst in us. On both sides of this election I saw endless posts, endless news stories, endless conversations filled with hate. What happened to a healthy debate? a civilized debate? What happened to agreeing to disagree. At what point did we forget to respect one another for who they are and where they are at in their life. I understand not everyone is Pro-Life, on board with defunding Planned Parenthood, Pro-LGBT rights, on board with immigrants fleeing from their country to find the freedom we were born into. We need not forget just how truly free we are. We don’t fear Trump, we fear change. We are comfortable and complacent until something strikes a nerve in the American people. It’s okay to feel angry or disagree, what’s not okay is how we’ve adjusted to handling modern day issues. We shouldn’t be fighting each other, we shouldn’t be looting and starting street fires, or breaking businesses windows in. We shouldn’t let a video of a police officer handling the criminal in an unjust way allow us to decide every police officer is a crooked one. Yes, I agree that Police Officers sometimes abuse their power, but does that mean they all do? No, they don’t. I’ve come across all different Police Offers with vastly different personalities, but never have I ever felt that my life was in danger by the men and women in blue. If you obey the law, which you’re supposed to, why would you assume a Police Officer is going to shoot you the minute he walks up to your window or simply asks if he can speak to you? When did we become smart asses that need to challenge the authority of an officer who is just trying to do his job? If you run from a officer, he’s going to chase you. If you swing at an officer, he’s going to restrain you. If an officer simply asks you what you’re doing, why do we become defensive and start preaching our rights as if he doesn’t already know them from training. I’ve stopped watching the news on TV for the sole fact that I never see a happy story unless it was a picture that went viral online. That should paint a picture for you right away, we the people need to share a post 600,000 times before the media deems it an acceptable story to plaster on the six o’clock news. Yes, world issues should be discussed, everyday issues should be discussed, but so should solutions and heart warming stories. Have you noticed that when you watch the news it’s never them agreeing or speaking about a topic, it’s them picking it apart and finding every single fault about the topic. It’s as if the media is instilling on us to question or object to EVERYTHING instead of accepting it for what it is and how to move forward from it or make a positive change. We focus so much on the negative that good deed’s go unnoticed. We need to take a stand, to stick together, to love one another despite our differences. We need to re-establish love and abolish the hate.

We want to be heard but we’ve lost our way, we think violence is the answer now when it’s never been. Violence causes pain, pain gives no room for change, for growth. We the people need to stick together, we need to find compassion in our hearts and protect one another from what the future brings. The way we handle ourselves today is deeply concerning but we aren’t lost and we haven’t lost, we are America and together we can make a change.