I came across an article written addressed to “The Girl Asking Us to Stop Calling Your Drug Addiction A Disease“. The essence of the article was for this girl to stop asking for this and that the author was going to “educate” people on how addiction is in fact a disease. Mostly, according to the author, because it is incredibly offensive to call addiction a choice not a disease.
My first reaction was, “Oh no let’s not offend the addict! Heaven forbid we should offend them to the point of anger and quite possibly some personal introspection. No we wouldn’t want to do that!” It’s this kind of pussyfooting around that has gotten us to the point where we have an “epidemic” of heroin use, thousands of people with multiple rehab stays and a generation that thinks that drug use is just part of their growing up. The author who is female serves up excuse after excuse for addicts stating that they cannot control themselves and would not choose this life therefore it’s a disease excuse as many others have, ineffectively in my opinion.
Her first volley to try to destroy the argument that addiction is a choice is to quote the National Institute of Drug Abuse stating that drug addiction is, “a chronic, relapsing brain disease that is characterized by compulsive drug seeking and use, despite harmful consequences.” So let me get this straight, I have to actively seek drugs out and then ingest them to have this disease? Uh huh, ok. It goes on to state that, “It is considered a brain disease because drugs change the brain—they change its structure and how it works. ” Hmmm, so I am putting something deliberately in my body and altering my brain chemistry, yet it’s a brain disease? Did NIDA even pay attention to what they were saying? No child of two comes down with alcoholism or a 4-year-old suddenly is addicted to heroin. Yet those same children can come be found to have cancer, diabetes, MS and the list goes on. In fact I am offended by those who would lump addiction in with these documented diseases that truly were not a choice.
The next few lines in the article speaks about becoming tolerant of your drug of choice so you need more of it to get the same high and it is “seemingly impossible to break the habit.” Now I am not sure if the author was aware of her choice of words, but she demolishes her own argument with the word “habit”. Habit is defined as “an acquired behavior pattern regularly followed until it has become almost involuntary.” A behavior pattern? So you don’t necessarily have this behavior pattern till you CHOOSE it. “Almost involuntary”, we have all heard the saying that almost does not count unless it’s horse shoes or hand grenades. Almost implies that it can be done if one CHOOSES.
I agree with her next supposition that no one wakes up one day and says, “I am going to become an addict” and yes, there are several factors that come into play to create an atmosphere to become an addict, but then she again obliterates her own argument by saying that there has been speculation by psychologists and medical professionals that alcoholism runs in families. I agree with the part of the statement that it can run in families, but the likelihood that it happens in families is because that children grow up to see their parent, sister, brother, aunt, uncle and so on having a glass, or two, or three at dinner, of wine and deciding that it’s acceptable behavior and taking it a bit farther. There is no alcoholism gene, no one is born with Captain Morgan stamped on a gene in their system that creates alcoholism from birth. In that same paragraph the author then goes on to say that, some may find that drinking is a way for them to cope with other issues, such as stress or struggling with mental illness. She’s right, most addicts are looking for an escape from the problems in their world and drugs or alcohol make those problems seem very small or they go away all together. However, a person comes down off their high and the problems are still there which in turn makes the want for escape even more pressing and they indulge in even more of whatever. This is exactly where God comes in if many would just let Him, 1 Corinthians 10:13, “13 There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” We are all tempted, we all have had many moments of wanting to escape, but the only true escape is in Him.
The author wraps up her article by stating that she wants to stigma of “oh poor me” attitudes to be done with for everyone that addiction has touched. The she goes on to assume that if addiction is a choice and we believe that we would be as heartless to tell a parent whose son or daughter died from an overdose , “well they chose it.” As a Christian woman, heck even as a human I would NEVER say that to a person who has lost a loved one, no matter the circumstances. THAT offends ME!
Her final thoughts are that we need to stop criticizing, bashing, and shame addicts, we should love and support them. I agree wholeheartedly with loving and supporting them, however that does not mean that we let their addiction become ours, or that we are ok with their sin much like we would not be ok if a person were committing adultery or murder or any other sin.
Addiction has been given a pass as a disease and rehabs that medically treat this “disease” haven’t worked so far. This is proven out by the fact that success rates are based on a person remaining indefinitely in a program. If the CDC is reporting that 91 Americans per day die of a heroin overdose, then please tell me what is working in the way that we approach this “disease” because I can’t find it?
Instead of giving addicts another way to justify their addictions, we need to point them to the only ONE who will fill the hole they are so desperately working to stuff with alcohol or drugs. Jesus is our sufficiency. We place so much on ourselves that isn’t ours to carry and then we try to stifle the noise when Jesus told us in Matthew 11:28-30, “28 Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Alcohol and drugs have never given anyone rest, it’s never been a light load to carry, and until we stop excusing the behavior and taking an honest approach to this the load will get heavier and the burden unbearable.
So to the author of the article I hope that I have instilled in you that we most certainly need to love on and support addicts, and point them onto the road of true recovery, but writing them a blank check to explain their addiction isn’t working, but there IS another way.