It might be easy to dismiss someone who suffers with an addiction as a “junkie” or as a “drunk” or as an “addict.” But what’s lost in that dismissal are the significant changes that occur in someone’s brain as a result of abusing drugs and/or alcohol. Those changes are hard to see and can actually end up blinding us all.
Several months ago, I walked up to my favorite spot on the Pecos River. Over the years, I caught quite a few fish that had hid underneath a log on the opposite bank form where I fished. As I approached my spot, I saw that the log had somehow been dislodged. Stubbornly, I threw my line in where the log had once been, but there was no fish to take my bait. I stayed for an hour before I accepted the fact that the river had changed and I would have to adapt and find a new favorite spot. The Pecos River has a lot of fishing spots to offer.
In much the same way, I see people cling to dismissive thoughts about those who struggle with addictions. While I can understand wanting those in our lives to be as we remember them before drugs and/or alcohol changed them, we have to recognize the physiological changes: They are as real as the rushing waters in the Pecos River. But, I urge everyone to accept those who struggle with addictions as the living and breathing people that they are. From there, we can assist them to find a healthier way to be. Otherwise, we risk blindly dismissing away valuable lives that have a lot more to offer than an addiction to drugs and/or alcohol.