Posted on Sunday, June 26th
It’s amazing how the reaction of some to the current heroin epidemic is reminiscent of the 1950s. During those black and white days most people believed addicts were to blame for their affliction. They deserved jail time, a mental institution or forced detox.
Deal with it; get clean or get screwed. It’s the same as telling a diabetes patient to knock it off and start producing more insulin, or a double amputee to get the hell up and walk.
A recent Kaiser poll found that 70-percent of those surveyed thought addicts weren’t doing enough to solve their own problem.
Thankfully new thinking and research holds hope for a better more effective way. Mai Szalavitz, a former heroin addict, recently wrote in the New York Times that we need to recognize, “addiction as a learning disorder . . . not a moral failure.”
Since addiction is a “progressive illness,” we need to accept that, “studies have not found evidence in favor of harsh, punitive approaches, like jail terms, humiliating forms of treatment and traditional “interventions” where families threaten to abandon addicted members. Instead we need to start teaching recovery.”
The National Institute of Drug Abuse agrees:
“In reality, drug addiction is a complex disease, and quitting takes more than good intentions or a strong will. In fact, because drugs change the brain in ways that foster compulsive drug abuse, quitting is difficult, even for those who are ready to do so.”
There is no one solution for families with loved ones who are addicted to heroin. Szalavitz v believes the best place to start is not to blame them; accept that they can overcome addiction, understand that “addiction resides in the parts of the brain involved in love, then recovery is more like getting over a breakup than it is facing a lifelong illness.”
That doesn’t make it easy, “Healing a broken heart is difficult and often involves relapses into obsessive behavior, but it’s not brain damage.”