Stop Bullying Drug Addicts

You heard me.

There has been an overwhelming surge of people in my social media news feed lately sharing images about drug addiction. People calling it a choice, naysaying that it’s a disease and degrading addicts for what they’re going through. Though I understand the outrage by some, because they’re watching people they love suffer, I can’t help but feel that these people suffer from a lack of empathy. Vilifying those who are struggling is a dissociative personality trait that needs to be resolved.

Let me ask you a couple questions:

  1. Have you ever used drugs, alcohol, nicotine or caffeine to make it through the day?
  2. Have you ever had a hard day and thought about drinking at the end of the day to “celebrate” it being over? Or perhaps, because you “deserved” it?
  3. Do you treat those who drink the same as those who use drugs?
  4. Do you, or have you, made a habit out of “occasionally” doing anything that some people become addicted to such as cocaine, pills, alcohol, etc.?
  5. Do you do anything to help fix the problem?

Think back to the days when you dabbled in high school or college, it’s easy to forget the days that Adderall helped you study for that test or when you binge drank on weekends with your buddies. Now that you’re thinking back, try to remember who was there. Were you hanging out with any of the addicts that you know today? Perhaps you can’t empathize or understand in any way how you could be so different. It only makes sense that you and that old friend from school made different choices. But you didn’t. You both did the same things, hung around the same crowd, walked across the same stage but your brains were wired different just the way that everything else about you, personally, was different.

Not everyone escapes so easily. 

It’s hard to see people be demonized for a life that they’re suffering in and it hurts to see so many people readily hit the share button on an image intended to belittle. Let me tell you what you’re doing when you decide to share articles that say “Stop Calling Addiction A Disease” or pictures that say “you chose this!” or “just put the needle down.” You’re separating yourself from the issue, you are placing yourself so high up on your horse that you are forgetting that these people you so easily knock down a peg are already on their knees praying for help. You forget that these people are people too and they have families who care about them.

How about we talk about social norms for a moment while we’re here? Because society as a whole appears completely willing to accept alcoholism. We fill entire towns with a dozen bars to stop at, litter the TV with commercials for booze and often don’t try to help anyone until they’re showing clear signs of being borderline helpless to alcoholism. Search the criteria for alcohol addiction and tell me if it sounds any different to you than drug addiction. Or maybe you’ll just tell yourself that it does, because you like to drink and you’re different than them.

Newsflash, you’re not.

I don’t mean to get so snappy but, wait..yes I do. I live in a small town where it’s easy to pick out the drunks and the drug addicts because they are everywhere. It would seem that everywhere you go there are problems with all forms of addiction. What it really boils down to is what society is willing to accept and how we treat the things we wish to change. You can’t complain about an addict but offer no solution to the problem. You can’t tell these people all over social media “YOU ARE NO GOOD!” and expect them to feel like they deserve better.

You want them to get help. You want them to return to society as productive, whole, happy and loving individuals…but you can’t get that by dehumanizing them.

You just can’t.