30 October 2018
As an addiction specialist offering addiction services, I have yet to meet a patient who enjoys being addicted to drugs. Addiction is a chronic illness around which is a great deal of confusion, few people know what to do. Faced with someone who appears to be driving heedlessly into the abyss, families often fight, freeze or flee, unable to figure out how to help.
Consider the opioid epidemic. This month, this news organization estimated that more than 300,000 Americans will die of drug overdoses in the next five years. Why are health professionals and the government not acting on this knowledge? Tradition? Prejudice? Utmost stupidity? The answer is sometimes all three.
Often times we scroll the sidebar reading about the passing of great actors and celebrities, such as Philip Seymour Hoffman, Heath Ledger, Michael Jackson, and Prince. But what about those who stray off course closer to home, who don’t get the huge publicity? The suburban middle-aged man, who is a credible business man and decorated community leader but passed from pancreatitis due to chronic alcohol use. Or the aspiring young woman who quietly finished her first marathon and worked unglamorously towards saving for her first house, but OD’d on heroin.
I can assure you that there is no as yet undiscovered riddle to these people, the disease of addiction recognizes none of these distinctions. It is indiscriminate, it is sad, it is irrational, and it is hard to understand. But what we should articulate, as I have outlined in this youtube video explaining my treatment of addiction, is that these deaths are unnecessary and something should be done. Fortunately, our brains are remarkably plastic. I know it is far easier said than done, but there is a way to find control and life without drugs. For those brave enough to share, recovery stories such as this are incredible and worth every effort.