As an Addiction treatment provider, I see quite a bit of suffering as a result of people’s abuse of drugs and alcohol. But what continues to surprise and bother me is that imposed morality that destroys any chance of recovery.
You see, drug and alcohol Addiction really is a physical disease. There are significant brain and organ changes that occur from abusing both drugs and alcohol. So, to think of an addiction as “bad” is akin to thinking that diabetes, in and of itself, is “bad” from a moral perspective. However, people continue to allow moralistic thinking to interfere with their relationships with an addict.
I get it. Addicts behave in such ways that can be frustrating and worrisome. There’s always the chance that an addict is trying to manipulate someone in order to pick up. While this behavior can be unhealthy, labeling it as wrong leads to shame, which leads to fear, which then leads to a greater need to use drugs or alcohol. It’s pretty common for me to hear an addict say things like, “I was going good until [fill in the rest]…when I hear that, I know the addict means that he or she wasn’t using until whatever happened that triggered a relapse. The problem is that “doing good” is equated with “not using” and in terms of recovery, neither have much to do with health.
It’s important to look at an addiction with as much neutrality as can be mustered. While I can understand that we all like to measure progress, using or not-using should NEVER be associated with bad or good, right or wrong. Instead, try and remember that recovery is a process within which YOU play a part. Ask yourself, “Am I honoring my commitments? Am I reaching for the best version of me? Am I doing all I can to improve my own life?” If you answer “no” to any of those questions, then perhaps you aren’t in a position to judge an addict’s behavior. Even if you are, I’m CERTAIN that you aren’t perfect.
Morality only has a place within our own individual lives. No one should ever impose his or her sense or right or wrong on anyone else – and morality has NO PLACE in recovery and I can guarantee that judgement causes far more harm than good.