We Turn Our Eyes Away –Stigma and Shame

Dear Readers,
I was one of the stars in my law class- the class of 1996. I was glamorous, lived in a beautiful condo, drove an old BMW and had in tow my very cute male children who were toddlers at the time. People wanted to hang with me, study with me- pretty and popular. When word got around that I was recovering from a crack addiction, even men who would have done anything to date me fled. There was no compassion, no concern about my boys, my law career- people treated me as if I had AIDS or pneumonia or the flu. Even worse, my scornful ex husband taught my children to be afraid of me… To watch me and report back whether they saw me using or drinking…
Addiction is a disease of the brain and doctors say its 50% inherited 50% behavioral. Yes, there is an inherited gene that predisposes some of us to addiction. It is exactly like the genes that predisposes people to diabetes, heart disease and cancer. And just like in all those aforementioned diseases, our actions or lack of actions can trigger the disease. We don’t go around shunning pie eating diabetics; we don’t admonish our over zealous entrepreneurs, artists, and athletes even though overexerction and emotional stress could lead to any of the number stress related diseases.
But we step over the homeless alcoholic, turn our eyes away from the rail thin woman trying to turn a trick to buy her drugs.
I pose no solutions. I make no suggestions, but addiction is a disease. Tell your children, the same way you would tell them about any other inherited disease. The addict you prevent maybe your own.
Signed
The Addict Writes

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