I really appreciate the comment I’m presenting today. It’s the second response provided within the Substance Abuse & Addiction Perception Survey and it addresses two (2) things that I think require a strong educational outreach effort: 1) Focusing on substance use may not yield healthy outcomes; and, 2) Addiction treatment requires a comprehensive program that addresses physical, emotional, and spiritual components of a person’s life:
“I have never thought about addiction as a disease. It might be a simple way to look at it but I see addiction (regardless of what the substance is) as a solution. People with issues/problems are trying to find a way out of something. With some substances it might start off as a fun thing to do, but I find it interesting that everybody that does cocaine does not get addicted. Everyone that did drugs in Vietnam did not come back addicted. Only some. I don’t think it’s a moral or weakness of character issue either. Perhaps it goes back to attachment. I think the first three years of life for many people can determine so much about how they deal with stress later in life. Not that it’s a done deal if you had a bad start to life. Even if you can’t get back to a level playing field I think there are ways to help people learn how to cope with the stresses in their lives. But it’s complicated. Just because you get someone off of drugs doesn’t mean they magically have a support system or financial resources or educational opportunities. I guess the question is how can we address all of the factors that contribute to addiction? A few years ago my husband and I got licensed to become adoptive parents. The process was too stressful through CYFD so we decided against it, but in the research I did, I discovered some statistics detailing how much poverty, addiction and homelessness affects children in the foster care system. What I found interesting is that they were trying to discern what the difference is between foster kids and anyone else facing similar challenges. What they came up with was the lack of a support system, especially for kids who at the age of 14 can choose not to be adopted. For most of them it’s been a rocky start and then there’s no place to come back to, ever. Sometimes I wonder if addicts, even the ones that did have a support system or caring family, if they felt disconnected from that. Just because it’s there (the family, etc.) does mean that kids feel that connection. Or parents’ version of being supportive might be more detached than a kid would like. I suppose in a nutshell, to be able to treat substance abuse and addiction it would require that we look at all the factors that could be contributing to a person’s situation. I don’t know that there is a current model that really does that at this point in time.”
I don’t have a lot to add other than I will continue to do all that I can to increase awareness that substances may be providing a form of relief from underlying disorders and that Addiction treatment shouldn’t singularly focus on substances (or processes); it should also address nutrition, exercise, personal relationships, and God. Addiction is a disease that robs a person of all that makes him human; treating it requires restoration of his humanity.