How often have we heard this quote, “Be the change you want to see in this world”? Gandhi had it right. If we want things to change, we have to endure some of the ugliest places while being willing enough to make a difference, at least in our own lives. In recovery, I’ve pushed through darkness, pink clouds and uncontrollable anger. Thankfully, I’ve come out on the other side feeling stronger because of the village of people who stand by my side. I cannot do it alone. If it were not for the people who not only helped me get into recovery, but stay there, I wouldn’t be here. There is no doubt in my mind. So, why doesn’t everyone get this chance?
Here’s why: Not many people are willing to fight for some sort of answer for the addict or alcoholic who suffers gravely while trying to reach out to anyone, anywhere to get help. It should not be that difficult to walk up to a police officer, medical worker, hell… anyone, and say, “I want help. I’m an addict and I’m going to die without it”. While reading an article on www.upworthy.com the other day, I found myself not only grateful, but incredibly pissed off. In June 2015, a town in Massachusetts declared they would no longer arrest drug users who came forward seeking help. It not only saves the community money and cuts down on crime, but it also saves lives. Every. Day. Sincerely, BRAVO Massachusetts! Now, where do we go from here? This question has haunted my mind since I first read that article.
I’ve been blessed and feel incredibly privileged to live in a community that not only understands addiction, but for the most part, this community is not afraid of it. We may not have a system in place where citizens can admit their addiction and ask for help, but this community accepts that we are here. In fact, we tend to be loud about it whether they want to hear it or not. The more we raise awareness and the more we allow people to see that we are NOT the stigma, the better the chances of creating change. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again… If I had the money, there is no question in my mind that I would build a FREE detox center along side a FREE treatment center. No questions asked. Admittedly, this would take a huge amount of work, there would be monumental red tape, and failure would surely come around a time or two… but we would have the opportunity to build a drug free community without punishing persons with addiction.
As a recovering heroin addict, the images of trying to walk the road of recovery, but continuing to fail time and time again are burned into my brain. The mental, physical and emotional pain that comes with detoxing from heroin are unimaginable. Many people will say, “You did this to yourself. You chose to be a drug addict. You should have stopped long ago.” I don’t listen to those people. Those people could be right or wrong. In my world, it doesn’t matter one bit. What matters is people are seeking help. Give it to them. Stop reprimanding the addict. Stop yelling at the alcoholic. Stop telling people they are not good enough or worthy enough.
I can promise you, the things we think about ourselves are way worse than anything anyone else will throw our way. We know we fucked up. It is an understatement to say we should have stopped before it got this bad. Trust me, we know. If we could have stopped, we would have. The disease of addiction is not for the faint of heart. In order to compete in the battle for your life, you are required to be stronger than you ever imagined was possible. So, we battle on. We fight, as a community of people in recovery, to make change. I’m not sure who I’ve got to talk to or what I’ve got to do, but as each day passes I research a little more, speak out a little louder, and pray a whole lot harder. Until there is a significant change, we hold our hands out to the ones who ask for help and generously offer them what was so freely given to us.