Welcome to the holidays. Many of you are preparing to cross names off your shopping list, deck the halls and celebrate with friends and family. This season, I have been moved to write about some of the difficulties many go through over the holidays. In fact, a lot of people are facing challenges that we may not even know about. And my heart goes out to them.
The past few months have been pretty heavy. International and national news have been difficult to process. Mother Nature has been relentless and political discussion, depressing. Even Sexual harassment allegations have flooded news cycles, making it harder to process the overall distress. Although it has been extremely positive that women are coming forward to express #MeToo, it upsets me to think there was ever a time in our culture when we accepted predatory abuses as “good ol’ boy” activities. It is time to discuss these behaviors and instill boundaries into the boys and men of the next generation.
Locally, our community is reeling from addiction. Recently, I was forced to dive into this issue head on. I’m a little embarrassed to admit I didn’t really understand addiction and felt that it was more of a behavior issue. I could never truly understand why someone didn’t just stop in the face of such terrible consequences.
I hate the idea I was a part of a stigma that is pervasive in our society. We are quick to lock people up rather than treat their illness. And let’s be clear — addiction is an illness. What I have learned is that this brain disorder acts like an allergy, putting the substances that others can use casually into a compulsive situation. An addict’s brain tells them they need to have the substance on an instinctual level and is prioritized over everything else.
This illness creates negative circumstances for them, their friends and their families. The only way to deal with this is through help from the medical community. Unfortunately, we have such negative opinions about those that are suffering that it’s difficult to get them the treatment they need. Even worse, these individuals often wind up in a legal system which doesn’t help.
My hope is, if you’re personally dealing with this illness or you’re a codependent friend or family member, you should know you’re not alone. We’ll work together to end this stigma and fight for the resources needed to help the millions of individuals that struggle each and every day.
Warmest wishes for a healthy holiday season,