Whenever I’ve known someone to get into a car accident, I’ve seen enormous amounts of support: People head to the hospital in droves and offer any assistance they can. Seeing that much support tends to fill me with belief in our humanity. People care, it would seem, and will help the injured recover from there wounds and will do whatever is needed to ensure a speedy recovery. There’s little doubt that the outpouring of support is helpful and therapeutic, both for the injured and for the involved families. No one has to convince anyone that supporting an injured person’s recovery is a good thing.
However, when a person attempts recovery from an addiction, I don’t see the same outpouring of support. What I do tend to hear is the word: responsibility. I hear it in such contexts as, “well, it’s his responsibility to get clean if he wants to,” and, “it’s her responsibility to get help,” and so on. And while I agree that any type of recovery requires the responsibility of following an established treatment plan, I think it’s rare that anyone recovers from anything without help from someone. It’s just that it’s easy to help someone with a broken leg; whereas it may not be so easy to help someone who’s hurt us in some way as a result of his or her addiction. However, I think the best way to help someone recover from an addiction is to forgive. As a matter of fact, I think it’s our collective responsibility.
Of course, we have the option of responding to any situation with anger. And I can understand why anyone who’s been hurt would be angry. But, as a long-term solution, anger just leads to fear, which then leads to hatred. Nothing good could come of hating. Rather, it’s better that we seek to understand the monster of addiction such that then we can then understand what a substance abuser may be facing. If we can gain understanding, then we can forgive and be a resource of comfort and safety so that healing can then begin and continue.
I believe that it’s my responsibility as a treatment provider to provide clients with as much information such that they can find their own respective paths to recovery. It is my responsibility to meet clients where they are, not where I think they should be and it is my responsibility to engage clients from a place of compassion and not judgment; after all, no one has ever appointed me to be the judge of all that’s right and wrong.
So then, next time you approach someone in your life who struggles with an addiction to drugs and/or alcohol, try to see him or her the same way you’d see someone with an injury. It may lead to better situations for both you and him or her.